What is next season for me and my family?
This has been the question I’ve been asking myself a lot the last few months.
I feel like I’ve been in a caterpillar state. The old has felt comfortable. But itchy. And somehow, not right. I‘ve been leaning into God’s presence more and his voice has spoken so clearly that it’s hard to ignore.
He’s asked me to step away from being online in the way I was, especially in my instagram space. A place I’ve found a lot of fulfillment, purpose, influence, and relationships. A place I’ve loved to serve others. I’ve kept it open for so long because I love to help people and for potential business opportunity. But as Surf Girls Design has grown more successful, my personal instagram has just become a secondary job that I cannot justify in our season.
And honestly, as my children get older, my convictions about social media grow stronger. As people try and hand them phones at every turn, I see how easily it can infiltrate our lives and make reality feel off.
As the gatekeeper of my house, I want to teach my kids FIRST how to thrive offline before ever handing them technology. If that is truly my conviction, me following them around with a camera is sending mixed messages. They did not sign up to be mini versions of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Their memories deserve to be memories, not an Instagram strategy. Running a growing account that is completely built on the back of my family’s personal life is not where my heart is. It allows culture to infiltrate our home in a way I'm not comfortable with while my kids are little. I only have a few years of these formative ages and I want every moment of those to be intentional.
I've grown million dollar companies. And I love that they’ve always been an extension of my personal life, not dependent on my personal life. I continually find that when I let a business or a following ride on the back of my personal life, things feel yucky and off for me. The boundaries are necessary for me to live my conviction. And I want to raise children who live out their convictions fully too, even when it doesn’t make sense and runs counter cultural. We’ll teach them how to use social media when it’s appropriate and when they can use it to give back, and not consume. That time is not now.
SO! I’ll still be around, it’ll just be different. You’ll mostly find find me posting about our design and flips on Surf Girls Design! That will be my more active account. You can reach me there or via email. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'll probably post sometimes here on our blog. And my instagram personal account will stay up and I’ll share family updates every now and then. But it won’t be a play by play of my life. And that’s okay. I’m sad about it, because part of me loves sharing. But happy, because I know it’s the right and scary choice for us for our season. We will be moving on to 6 acres soon, and much of our time will be full with running a business and cultivating an intentional childhood and family life together on our little homestead.
I hope you will do scary things too and live out your convictions fully, no matter what they may be. It's ok to do new things in different seasons. Hug a real person more and like photos on here less. Get outside. Go for a walk. Find community. Show up in real life. There’s a whole lot of joy waiting there. And maybe you’ll run into me there too.
To my amazing followers who have followed me through many seasons and over many platforms, love you guys forever. ❤️❤️
I used to dream about far off places and unknown adventures. The thought of "settling down" evoked a giving up, as if I was literally settling for something not as good as something else. The final act of adult compromise. The giving up of childhood curiosity.
Like many millennials, the idea of choosing to be tied to a place made me feel boxed in, like a panicky caged butterfly. So I flew. And I flitted about. Traveling and exploring. Looking for the freedom my generation has been known to crave.
Instead of freedom, I found short bursts of fun that was often followed by emptiness. Ryan and I would have a blast exploring a new mountain town or national landmark, but the drive back to our little lonesome camper felt off. We'd come home and wake up in a new location daily. We'd go to coffee shops, craving connection, missing friends. But even the smiles and short conversations were hollow because they led to nothing more. A butterfly can only fly so long before freedom feels heavy. Each location bled into the next, each country and city and town felt the same as the last. Faces seemed to resemble each other. And eventually the uniqueness of change felt monotonous and tired.
Without a sense of place, I lost a sense of self.
The power of place is a beautiful thing and we knew we needed it again. So we chose to insert back into a geographical location. To do the unthinkable. To settle. To give up the idea that I could live in one thousand locations and experience one thousand different lives. It honestly was more by force than choice. But as it unfolded, I began to feel a deep grounding in my identity again.
I knew the perfect spot the sun came up in my little house and I looked forward to it daily. I learned the black raspberries come to season in my neighborhood in late May. (And I found the best spot where they grow generously). I felt like a little kid again licking my sticky, black fingers.
I chose to be proud of my beach town. It was no longer a place to escape from, but a place to escape to. I understood what it was like to walk down the street and feel known. To run into all kinds of friends and family on the beach boardwalk on our Friday night walk. I learned how to read the waves for a good surf. How to know when a storm was coming. How to stay committed to friendships my early 20 somethings self knew nothing about.
The power of place contained more freedom than all the wandering ever could. And I still wander, yes I do. I still love to hop on a plane and wake up in an undiscovered city. But it's with a deep knowledge of who I am, where I'm from, and the beautiful place I get to return to. My little Flagler Beach town.
The power of place is a gift I now give my kids, who will grow up in an even more disconnected generation than my own. It's a priceless gift my parents gave me.
I give them the joy that comes with loving an actual physical place. Embracing it for the good and the bad. To be wholly committed to making it better. I give them the gift of knowing the rhythms of the ocean. The sound of each native bird in our yard. And the absolute glee that comes from knowing black raspberries will be here soon.
Most importantly, with a sense of place, comes the gift of connection. Something 2020 made me love about my home. The people. Everywhere I go, running into people I love and who love me. A place to belong, even when it's not perfect.
I gift my children these people. A sense of knowness. Of seeing old friends on the boardwalk. Of bumping into their Mumsie and Papa at their ice cream shop, or heading to the beach with their Grandma and Grandpa. Watching me surf with friends every Thursday morning. Understanding that even when hard things happen to, people are there. Holding us. Walking us through to joy.
We choose to tie ourselves to this place, because commitment is hard in this world. And it feels too big to handle sometimes. But if I can embrace my little town and its people, I can change the world in a way that will return the joy tenfold.
And maybe my kiddos will leave one day like I did. They might choose a new home. And that's ok. But I hope I'll have taught them how to find the freedom to settle somewhere good. To bury in deep in a place with people that matter. To choose community and fight for it.
Sweet Miraculous Indy decided to come a week after her due date on August 12th.
It seems I am always cooking my kiddos a little longer. I was convinced that a back rub from my dad is what put me into labor with Amelia. So after being a week late, I decided to give that ago again to see if my hunch was right. My dad and mom popped over our house and whenever he rubbed my lower back, I would feel a weird tingly feeling just like I felt with Amelia. I felt like maybe it was the night! After, Ryan and I watched a show and snuggled Amelia and then went to bed.
At 12am (just like with Amelia, which is weird!) I woke up with cramps and told Ryan I thought I was in labor. My water didn't break like before, but they were definitely contractions.
Around 4am, they were pretty annoying so I got up and showered. I blow dried my hair because I had just gotten bangs and wanted them to look good. Haha. Priorities! I told Ryan I was going to pack the bags and get everything ready. I was anticipating it all going WAY faster than with Amelia. By the time I got contractions, we ended up in the hospital a few hours later. Not the case this time.
By 7am, they were 20 minutes apart but stayed pretty consistent so we decided to wait at home until they got fairly unbearable. Amelia was not feeling the drama and kept crying when I would have a contraction. It was SO sad!
At around 9am, they were 7 minutes apart and pretty strong. But I could still talk in between the contractions. I didn't feel like I could do that with Amelia's, so I told Ryan to go to his meetings and I would just call him when I needed him to come home.
Around 12pm, they seemed to slow down and almost go away. They weren't bad at all and I got so freaked out that I was in false labor and alerted everyone for nothing. How embarrassing! Ryan came home and brought me Wendy's. I was in good spirits and we made out a bunch and spent time together while Amelia napped. ;) It was such a weird thing to have no idea if you were gonna have a kid that day or not.
Around 2pm, the contractions started again. They were 6 minutes apart and way stronger. I kept thinking I was imagining it, and then a contraction would hit and I would yell "nope, it's real, it's real!!"
At 3pm, my sister and my mom came over. They brought me a yummy coconut milkshake. They also thought my contractions were super funny and decided to film them for me to remember. lol. See video below. Thanks guys ;)
At 4:30pm, is when it got bad. I felt like I couldn't breathe and kept saying "I feel like my bottom half is being sawed off!" Which made everyone laugh more. ;) Amelia was getting nervous and I couldn't talk in between them anymore.
At around 5pm, I told Ryan all the sudden "we need to go. I can't do it anymore." He knew it was time because I had been super stubborn up until that point. Amelia stayed with Auntie Cassidy and my dad and we left.
Ryan drove like a crazy guy to the hospital because I kept yelling "we waited too long. this was dumb! I can feel her coming out!" He was terrified, I'm sure. lol.
After checking in, I was almost 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Praise the Lord! I was so worried I wouldn't be dilated at all. I was in that level of pain with Amelia and had only been at 1 cm! So I was pumped I had made it that long. Ryan was the sweetest and talked me through every contraction.
At around 7pm, I opted for the epidural again at 7cm. I was proud to have made it that long and felt like maybeeee I could have powered through this time (never in a million years could I do it with Amelia's birth), but once I got it, I was so much more focused and calm. So yay for epidurals!
All my fam showed up around this time to root me on. And YES, I let them all in the room. Haha. Everyone is always so surprised at this. Do what makes you comfortable! But for me, I loved having all my siblings and family there to pray over me and celebrate. (and the rooms were big, so they could just hang out in the chairs and not see the private bits). :) Amelia hung out in the waiting room with her Uncle Dawson.
At 7:45pm, I started to get shaky and nauseous. They checked Indy's heart rate, but were having a hard time finding it. I was freaking out and so worried. They checked my dilation and it turns out, Indy was headed down the birth canal and that was the reason she wasn't fully in my tummy anymore. They immediately yelled for the doctor and started yelling at me to push.
Action Time: This was honestly the HARDEST part. I had no ability to hold the sides of the bed this time and felt really out of control. I panicked a little bit and kept asking my mom "can I do this???" I started crying because I was worried about Amelia and so scared about everything changing.
We took a second and my mom gave me the BEST mama pep talk. And my family prayed over us and for Indy, for protection and joy as she entered the world.
After this, it went SO fast and because they were worried about my oxygen, so they kept pushing me down in the bed. I couldn't push at all like that. Finally it got too hard and I asked them to turn the epidural off. Once they did, I could finally push hard. But I felt SO MUCH. It was WAY more painful than with Amelia. This time I was yelling and crazy and not calm at all. haha. But it all changed when she arrived.
Indy Babe Arrives: After this, I pushed twice and Indy popped right out. We were all crying and so happy it was over and she was here. I felt so much better once I SAW her. I had been SO worried that my first labor went so well, that something was bound to go wrong. But even though it was harder, everything went so right. God blessed us AGAIN. Every time we think he is done blessing us, he keeps lavishing us with his love.
We took photos, cuddled Indy, and prayed again. After a while, Amelia came in to meet her. She was so happy to see us and kept saying "baby" but I don't think she knew it was our baby. Seeing them together just felt right. It didn't feel sad or weird. It felt good. She was able to hold Indy a couple days later and has fallen right into being an amazing big sister.
It's been an incredible first couple of months with Indy. It has also been so much easier emotionally for me because I knew what to expect and how to cultivate joy in the midst of a really emotional season. We've been enjoying our family of four and I could never imagine life without my sweet Indy girl now. I'm so excited to watch her and Amelia grow up together!
I had posted on my instagram a couple weeks ago that this pregnancy has just flown by! All the things I had planned on doing - a baby blessing party, maternity photos, getting our house ready - have all been put on the back burner as Indy is popping into our world so quick. We couldn't be happier, but I was feeling a little sad that I didn't feel like we got to properly celebrate.
And an amazing friend reached out and offered to take our maternity photos....only one week out from birth. She is such an incredible photographer and was so flexible....she even offered to dual write the photos to our memory card so we could quickly edit and post them. Seriously, if you're looking for someone in the central Florida area, Haley Martin with Native Expressions in the bomb.com. (Does anyone even say that anymore??) Oh well! Book her!
She snapped us doing what we do best....roaming around at the beach with Amelia, getting sandy, and making out way too much. We are so looking forward to adding to our fam in just one week.....we are ready for you Indy! (Especially Amelia, who is furiously excited for a baby sister).
Yay for more house renovation posts! Hopefully ya'll aren't getting sick of me trying to channel my inner Joanna Gaines. ;) But when we saw this house on the market, we knew it was a PERFECT way for us to experiment and renovate a house to be FUN and up and coming.
We started renovating this September Place house at the beginning of June. 7 weeks later, we're wrapping up and listing this beauty for sale. It was such a FUN project, with lots of long nights. But we are over-the-moon happy with the end result. We love our little beach-side town, but it's safe to say that the houses lack in a certain....ahem....trendiness. They tend to be a mixture of yellow stucco, yellow beige tile, and early 2000s kitchens. It's been Ryan and my goal for a long time to bring some FUN to the houses of our great town. There are so many people with different styles here and we want the homes to reflect 2019. So this one is definitely one of a kind!
So here's 16 September Place. A 1600+ sqf home in Seminole Woods, just about 10 minutes to our beautiful beach. It's a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom full of natural light. It's got a large kitchen, a 9 foot island, white granite, shiplap on shiplap, new appliances, a private backyard, and a few POPs of color here and there. (which we hope you like). We imagine that if we were moving into our town, this would be our next house....that's how much we love it. We hope another fun family loves it too! (info on paint colors + fun things at the end)
If you're interested in snatching our September baby up....click on the listing link here.
BOOK NOOK + DINING ROOM
Book Nook + Bathroom Paint: Dark Harbor by Benjamin Moore
Shiplap + Trim Paint: Pure White by Sherwin Williams
Exterior Door: Decisive Yellow by Sherwin Williams
Exterior Paint: Chelsea Gray by Sherwin Williams
All other room paint (even the seemingly green-ish kitchen :): Repose Gray
Floors: Pergo Max Wheaton Oak
Bathroom Floors: Fun tile from lowes!
Shiplap: Made out of plywood by us!
Staging: Basically just the contents of my actual home brought over. ;)
Let me know if you have any specific questions about materials in the comments + and I'll try my best to reply!
I honestly felt like by trying to be so 'trendy' in my house before (ya know, shiplap, white walls, subway tile, etc) that none of my personality actually showed.
And not that subway tile + other things are bad AT ALL. If they are you, than do you. But for me, it just felt like I was trying to fit into a trend that made me unlike me.
The last few months of my life have been a returning to what I feel like IS me. I’m tired of feeling like I have to do what everyone expects. I want to live my life with rose colored glasses, outside the norm, and having more FUN....and inspiring other people to do the same.
So, feeling motivated by my new found riskiness, I begged Ryan to let us paint the wall a crazy color. We have a small living area/kitchen and our ceilings are super angled, so finding a color that was bright but not dark was hard.
We tossed it up between blue and pink. I secretly loved pink, but I wanted him to decide because it's his kitchen too. And he LOVED the pink....it reminded him of joy and sunsets and rose colored glasses. And it was a sign, I knew. Pink was the way to go.
So, whatever the trend may be whenever you read this, don’t be afraid to do something different. Your house, life, + story isn’t supposed to look like anyone else’s. The minute we all try to follow the same trend, is the minute things become cookie cutter and dang BORING. So do that thing, take that risk, PAINT THAT WALL, + do what makes you feel alive.
Paint Color: Cockleshell by Behr
But it honestly was one of our most favorite places we've EVER been. We're already talking about when we can go back. And if you know me, you know I am a heat and humidity girl through and through. So I was in HEAVEN.
If you’re here for my FREE Oahu Hawaii Guide, click here.
Flying with Amelia was pretty good on the way there. She is getting to the active stage, so lots of toys and snacks helped!
When we landed, we immediately picked up our Turo rental jeep. We love Turo, because it's basically Airbnb for cars and the owners generally just meet you right outside the terminal and hand you the keys. We cruised into Honolulu and then right up over to the north side of the island, where we stayed on the North Shore.
I immediately went down to the beach, because I have been itching to swim so bad! It was a little windy that day, but my goodness the beach was beautiful.
One of our most FAVORITE stops was at Ka'ena Point, where we hiked around for a bit. It had the most EPIC views, some pretty legit mud that swallowed up my tennies, and a cameo from some the sets on the show Lost. It was a fairly easy hike with Amelia, but if it has rained, bring waterproof shoes!
After the North Shore, we headed over to the other side of the island to stay in Kaneohe. We love getting to see a variance of places, so we always stay in as many spots as we can! We stayed in this adorable little resort with views of the bay area and yummy breakfast in the morning.
Highlights of this area were the cool botanical gardens, hiking around where Jurassic Park was filmed, and attending church on Sunday and meeting some instagram followers!
And we ended the trip in Waikiki. Of course! We had to try it out in all its tourist glory.
We did a lot of fun stuff here....visited the most amazing donut shop, tried to hike a waterfall, and went to Diamond Head. (More details in my travel guide)
It was crazy and busy and a fun way to end the last day and night. Watching the sun go down with a hundred thousand people felt very community oriented (and also very weird). lol.
I would go back in A HEARTBEAT. But I'd love to visit Kauai too. How about you? Do you have any suggestions on where in Hawaii we should visit next?
Our time in Hawaii was ALL it's cracked up to be. If you want to do a similar trip and would like all the deets (where we stayed, our driving route, the coffee shops/restaurants/hiking spots we loved), you can grab my FREE Hawaii Travel Guide here.
Happy traveling, friend!
It was such an amazing year, full of SO many firsts. There were many memorable moments, little joys, lots of tears, and so much learning. I wouldn't change a second of it.
Now that I'm a year in, I definitely feel like I can see which products I used long term. There's products for the first few months that don't last the full year. And then there's products that have come in handy now that Amelia is closer to the one year mark.
Overall, we're minimalists and it's been hard having more 'stuff' than we are used to, so I wanted to write this blog post to remind myself (especially with baby number 2 coming along) of what was NEEDED. (and also to remind myself that the other stuff can be purged. Marie Kondo, anyone?)
All babies are different, so if your baby loves a certain product at a different age benchmark, leave it in the comments. I'd love to pick your brain for baby number 2!
Honestly not sure what we would have done without this the first 3 months. She slowly got annoyed being confined to it, but man did it help us sleep! We loved this one. :)
This thing was awesome for the first 2-3 months of getting accustomed to nursing. Especially while confined to home. Once nursing got more natural for me, I started just using regular pillows, but I honestly still sleep on this one cause it's amazing!
Amelia loved this Hevea Orthodontic Pacifier for the first month or two. For some reason (maybe her thumb sucking kicked in) she ended up being done with it early. But it was so cute (and I loved our pacifier clip!). It was so helpful for soothing.
6 months -1 year
This thing rocks! Amelia hates her crib, so on the unlucky day I NEED a shower (which is often. lol), this is a great place to put her so I can ensure she isn't going to eat crazy things or crash into something dangerous. She can also walk around in it.
I wish I had put this on my baby registry!
HARD BOOKS with TEXTURE
Amelia is obsessed with books. Her favorite thing is ripping pages out of my Bible and Nancy Drew books. (Sorry, Nanc). Hard textured books are fun for her to bite and play with, and I don't have to worry about the paper cuts she always gets from soft books. (Here's one of her faves)
TEETHERS & RUBBER TOYS (LIKE SOPHIE THE GIRAFFE)
Aww, Sophie. The favorite of so many. But there's lots of little toys like this. Kiki the elephant. Sophie the Giraffe. We even have a fox. (I don't know her name, but we named her Henrietta). We tend to wet them, freeze them, and they get just hard enough to help with those teeth.
WATER SIPPY CUPS:
Amelia is literally the most thirsty baby on the planet. I still nurse her 5 times a day (at least), but she is a guzzler. She can put back 3-4 of these a day and then pee up a storm. I like these ones because they are cheap and at Target, and easy to hold. We'll transition to regular cups soon, but since we don't do juice right now, I'm not concerned.
PLAYPEN OR PLAY FENCE
Amelia eats everything, pushes everything, takes everything apart, and destroys all that she comes into contact with her. I love it. And though I do correct dangerous behavior (like fingers in light sockets), I praise her adventurous spirit. Playpens and fences just help keep the adventure to a safe zone. We opted for a little fence over the playpen (she wants ROOM to roam). But this is like 100% necessary when your kiddo starts to crawl or you will never stop tracking them down and rescuing them from precarious situations.
I am confused on why my child eats so much (maybe it's every child?), but she easily has like 6 meals a day (and is somehow on the small side). I sorely underestimated how much of my time would be taken up by preparing meals and feeding her snacks.
These are by far my FAVORITE little snacks for her in between nutritious meals. They make her sore teething gums feel good... and have veggies and jasmine rice in them. Babes should be sitting up and supervised while eating them, but Amelia started around 7 months and has never choked with them.
Whole 1st Year
I love these slings, and I always will. I have three and I'll keep using them as long as I can. Good thing I have gender neutral ones, just in case baby #2 is a boy! Sparrow is my favorite sling.
A GOOD TRAVEL STROLLER
We've used this super cheap one this year and LOVED it. We're getting ready to upgrade to a two baby stroller (EEK!) and it has to break down easy for the plane rides we go on. If you have suggestions, leave em in my comments!
CAR SEAT TRAVEL COVER
If you travel with your car seat, this is awesome because it completely guards the seat so it doesn't become nasty with under plane junk.
TOYS WITH MUSIC
I wish I got some of these earlier, but Amelia LOVES music she can initiate on her own. So though we limit the electronic toys we have, the exception is toys that have music integrated OR musical instruments (which are so fun!). I love these ones.
Things we rarely used
Okay, this was GREAT for the first month. After that, Amelia was too wiggly and wanted out! It was awesome, but expensive for such a short time use.
If you follow me, you already know we co-sleep and love it, so I will probably skip this again with baby #2. We will start the transition to a crib or bed when Amelia is a bit older.
Baby Rockers (laying down swings essentially)
This is the same space as the dockatot. It was great, but Amelia soon got wiggly and was really annoyed she couldn't see any of us.
I still use mine very occasionally, but from 1 month on, I just started taking tubs with her and now we just pop her in the shower with us. We'll play on the floor with her toys and have the water indirectly on her.
Super gadgety toys
I just don't love electronics in general and don't want to condition for TV or ipads, so though I think it's a personal choice, we only have one electronic toy (because it sings).
Today, I am talking about our recent international trip.....where we decided to take out 6 month old on a 12 hour plane ride, 5 hour train ride, and halfway across the world. Are we crazy? A little. ;)
This was a trip of a LIFETIME and I wanted to do it right, but also be budget friendly. We were traveling with 9 other family members and so it needed to cost effective for all of us.
With good planning and a budget, you can stroll the romantic streets along with us! Our travel guide is unfortunately not available right now, but you can see the places we visited below!
So let's go on an adventure.....
Doing a 12 hour flight with 9 people wasn't easy, but we were all SO excited for what was to come. We landed in Rome in the morning and immediately headed to our train. We grabbed some croissants (the first of WAY too many) and coffees, and hopped on.
What ensued was the MOST romantic train ride ever. Picture riding through Rome, seeing glimpses of ruins through the sun soaked buildings, and then observing everyday life, children walking to school on cobblestones, laundry hanging out on ivy-wrung balconies.
It was a long train ride, so the morning sun turned to afternoon light, highlighting sun-dappled tuscan buildings and fields of wheat, vineyards and mountains. We napped and took photos and laughed at how surreal it was. I'm pretty sure it gave the Hogwarts Express a run for it's money.
When we finally arrived in Venice, it was evening. We came out of the train station on the grand canal, and were greeted by the sound of water and boats and fairy lights from twinkling bridges and buildings. We walked to our Airbnb over a glass bridge and then hopped on a vaporetto (a water taxi). Seeing Venice by night was magical and I felt like Angelina Jole in 'the Tourist,' albeit, a little greasier and gross from the plane. Eek!
We finally arrived at our stop and had to walk under stone tunnels to get to our Airbnbs courtyard. I vaguely remember one of my siblings saying "is this for real?" and "this feels like we went back in time and are in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie."
Our Airbnb's beds greeted us, but not before we enjoyed the ancient building, built in the 500s. Like whatttt?? It was perfectly outfitted with cute little bedrooms and a vintage kitchen.
The next few days were a blur of activity. The Airbnb I chose was close to everything, St. Marks Square, the vaporatto stop, etc. So we walked everywhere. I carried Amelia, but my stroller did fine too. We visited the square, we ate gelato, we took a thousand photos, we rode on boats, we visited the islands. Venice is definitely more touristy, but it is just so darn unique that you can't miss out on it.
I loved Burano, because it was so colorful and vibrant. We'd eat lunch in, and then every night, we'd find a new restaurant to visit. Check out my travel guide for the restaurants we loved!
Before you know it, it was time to leave the City of Water and head to Florence. We stopped at a bakery on the way out and enjoyed the narrow streets and the friendliness of the people one last time.
Then, we jumped on our train. And Florence did not disappoint! It is the perfectly sized city, bustling with real life and history around every corner.
Once we got off our train, we walked to our Airbnb about a half a mile away. It was in the historic centre, which means half of our bags broke from carrying them over cobblestones. Whoops! It was worth it.
Our Airbnb was HUGE and perfectly located for our family. It was a Florentine palace built in the early twentieth century. It had a long hallway with grand beds in each room and beautiful balconies. (see us smooching on one below ;)
Everyday we walked to the duomo, or the Ponte Vecchio, or the little coffee shop lined streets. It never got old. I loved the very real feeling of Florence and how much we had to do.....there was something for everyone. (Food, history, culture!). We even took a Hop on Hop Off tour at the end and though it seems touristy, it was actually a blast to spend the last rainy day learning more about the city. (and gave my baby carrying hips a break).
I had been to Italy before and I knew that this time, I needed some time in the country. I LOVE cities, but there is something about a few days spent in nature that refreshes me. Italy has such a connection to the earth and I didn't want to miss experiencing that.
So on our last morning in Florence, we walked to a Hertz and picked up our car that we rented. Driving in Italy seemed really nerve wracking, but it ended up being WAY easier than we thought.
We zoomed right out of Florence with no problems and started making our way to the inland area of Perugia. Situated in hills and vineyards, we arrived at our Bed and Breakfast at sunset, and I was in heaven. This was my FAVORITE stop.
Our Bed and Breakfast was made up of little tuscan-style villas amidst olive gardens and vineyards. There was one main house and lots of little ones sprinkled over the hill. Ours was under a big oak tree and situated right by the beautiful pool. (also, it had an AMAZING bathroom and shower. Which was a big plus for me. haha)
Each morning, we enjoyed walking up the hill to eat breakfast. Eggs and bacon and croissants on croissants. We'd sit outside with Amelia and talk to people who came to visit from all over the world. One day, we explored the whole property and went to a nearby nature reserve where we found an abandoned farmhouse. Another day, we drove down the hill to visit the lake. And the last day, we visited a vineyard and winery....and learned how to make wine!
If I were to go anywhere again, this was it! Ryan and I had so many relaxing talks about our future on the balcony, overlooking the sun setting on the hills and and chirping birds. It was literally HEAVEN.
But alas, time had come to a close in our quiet, reflective time in the country. It was time to head back to the hustle of a city. And what city to end your trip than in ROME! Full of life and excitement.
We arrived at our inner-city Airbnb after a long day. There was no place to park in the city, so we dropped our rental car off outside and taxi-ed in.
Our Airbnb was 4 bedrooms....which was unheard of in downtown Rome. It was a mile or less to the Colosseum, Piazza Novena, the Pantheon and EVERYTHING we wanted to see. And it was so easy to run back to the apartment for a nap or for a quick lunch.
Rome was all the hustle and bustle. The day we arrived, we freshened up and quickly walked over to the Colosseum for a tour. And the days to come, we all split up and saw different sites. From wandering the suburb of Trastivere, to eating outside the Pantheon, to making a wish with Amelia in the Trevi Fountain....it was dreamy on dreamy. Mostly my Lizzie McGuire what-dreams-are-made of kind of dreams. ;)
We spent a couple full days here and it was the perfect city to end our trip. The last night, we ate out under the stars and the ruins...and it felt magical and ancient, all at once.
Stay a while and get comfy. <3