Fall Break at Santa Rosa Beach

The kids had this week off for Fall Break, so I decided to take them and my parents down to Santa Rosa Beach. I always loved the little towns along Highway 30-A when Bryan and I lived in Florida. We stayed in this cute little house in Old Florida Village, one of my favorite neighborhoods.

Fall is a great time to go to Santa Rosa because it’s the off-season which means everything costs less and it’s not crowded! And it’s not hot!

This swamp was right behind the house.

We had a wood fence to keep the gators out of the yard, but it didn’t keep a bear from getting into our garbage can one night! I much prefer a swamp with wild animals over a view of high rise condos full of tourists… But I wonder if my European friends would be thinking, “Alligators?! Bears?! What?!?!?”

Leah and Michael took turns pretending to be Jaws and attacking each other in the pool. The red thing coming near Michael is a makeshift dorsal fin. Ha!

Our house was just a few hundred yards from the beach…

A lot of places rent bicycles… I want us to ride bikes next time we go.

Leah and I enjoyed a late afternoon walk… The red tide (or “Crimson Tide”) had washed up – it’s just red seaweed and was sort of ugly/messy but interesting too because it was full of fish eggs!

Nana and Paw-Paw love the beach! I think they were sad when we moved away from Florida because they loved spending so much time at the beach. I say The Cove is a great place to live – and the beach is a great place to vacation. It might even be my very favoritest place to vacation!

There are vacations of ‘doing’ and vacations of ‘being’. This was definitely a quiet, peaceful vacation with no real agenda – which I love.

This beach access has a nice long ramp that’s always made it easier for Bryan to get on the beach. He decided to skip our vacation this time to stay home and work and hang out with his dad.

We have a photo above our fireplace of the kids taken in this exact same spot when they were about 4 and 7.

This is why I love Santa Rosa Beach! It’s always so beautiful – just a wide open view of the white sand and emerald green water – and it’s never too crowded. 🙂

Me and my super awesome Dad!!!

If I win the lottery, you may forward my mail here…

Leah-the-mermaid made an appearance on the beach…

Here she is pretending to be startled by humans! Ha! This is high season for blacktip sharks and I was seriously worried Leah would get eaten – even though we have never seen a shark here. I made her get out of the water after we took a few pictures!

We ate some good local seafood, of course.

This is me tickling Michael to try to get him to smile for the picture! He always makes faces at the camera.

We did some shopping, too!

There are mostly locally owned shops and restaurants in the area, like this cute little coffee shop.

We went shopping and had dinner at Destin Commons and let the kids get candy… The grown-ups did, too!

Speaking of sugar, we always visit The Donut Hole… On Sunday morning, I foolishly showed up at 10:00 AM and everything was sold out! (Well, we got some muffins to tide us over…) On Tuesday, I drove over at 7:30 AM and as you can see it was already picked over but they still had a great selection.

We met our friends Andrew, Dawn and David for lunch at The Back Porch in Destin, one of our favorite seafood places from when we lived down there.

Andrew, Michael and Leah…

Lucky Leah gets to stay at the beach a few extra days with Andrew and his family! The rest of us have come home already… <sigh>

It was a great vacation! Five days just isn’t long enough!!!

More Vacation

Vacation is such a good thing. I really envy the European sensibility of month-long vacations. A week never seems to be enough!

Lucy is all over the boogie-boarding!

Leah and Michael could live in the water!

Sandy and Terry are Molly’s parents and so much fun!

I loved the reflection of Rene’ and Molly on the sand as they walked up the beach.

Michael is adjusting his goggles here as Leah and Lucy stand at the edge of the water….

My babies, Michael and Leah.

Beach houses…

All of our babies… Leo (7), Michael (7), Eli (5), Leah (10) and Lucy (10).

This looks like a picture from a magazine… Caught Molly deep in thought.

Molly and Leo.

We are having a really nice time, but our thoughts are miles away with Bryan’s mom who has been really sick for a couple of weeks now.

Vacation 

A few Instagram shots to highlight our vacation because I’d rather go back to the beach than blog right now!

First, Leah has finally fulfilled her life long goal of becoming a mermaid. Second, we are on vacation with my high school bestie Molly and her family (hubby, three kids, parents) and having a blast! Lastly, we drove 40-gazillion miles to a beach that is equally inconveniently located for them and us… in North Carolina of all places!!! 

More later… 

        

Oh! We spotted candy cigarettes on the drive here when we accidentally detoured through 1977!!!

Whistle while you work…

Work has been fun lately. I really, really like my new client – a global manufacturing company with headquarters in Atlanta. I’ve made a few quick trips down to look at the team there face to face; and the rest of the time we use WebEx to videoconference. A couple weeks ago, the team flew in from all corners of the earth to meet up for a two-day strategy session (led by me – yikes) at a winery in north Georgia called Château Élan.

I was cracked up that the statue kinda looked like me.

This is the cutest boxwood hedge ever in the history of ever!

The Inn at Château Élan.

The next week, I made another trip… this time to Nashville to start an executive development program offered through Vanderbilt University. I got accepted into the MBA program 20+ years ago, but opted to go to school in Europe instead since I was interested in international business. I always wished I could do both, because I knew Vanderbilt would have been amazing. So I’m finally getting a taste of Vandy. My first class was awesome!!!

Owen, Vanderbilt’s Business School, is housed in a building from 1888 that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Me.

My little corner of the campus.

This is Vandy’s Law School – it’s right next to the Business School.

It was so nice to be a student again! I miss school. If I won the lottery, I’d have to be a full time student or a professor. I love the world of academia – maybe because I grew up in that world in Auburn, and maybe because I just loved loved loved college and grad school!!!

A last peek at our vacation…

As you probably gathered, Dad treated us to a week at the beach for Spring Break! We hadn’t all vacationed together since I was pregnant with Leah so it was extra-special to have all 9 of us in the same place! We had an awesome time!!! It was a lot of NOTHING (my favorite way to enjoy a vacation at the beach) with a little bit of cooking and some board games and a couple of movies thrown in.

   

The water felt like a slightly melted iceberg… But we couldn’t keep the kids out! They were on their boogie boards all day every day!

  

My water baby…

    

I packed multiple swimsuits for everyone… Except me! Ugh! I bought one at Target and hated it, of course! I was missing my cute Beach Living suits from Lands End! We joked that you don’t know anyone on vacation anyway and OF COURSE friends from here were staying at the same resort as us! Ha! Classic, huh?

  

We stayed at Martinique on the Gulf in between Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores…

      

Of course, Beatrice (actually all of Leah’s American Girl dolls) joined us…

  

  

      

We went to Lulu’s to eat and play… It’s the best!!

    

Steve said the ropes course is the only time parents pay $10 to watch their children risk their lives.

      

This was our goodbye to the beach…

Always so hard to leave!! 

The view from the monkey pit…

I’ve often felt we live in a monkey pit and so it was particularly special – almost poignant – to sit in an actual monkey pit with my children last week while visiting the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo…

    

Seriously that was the best $30 I’ve ever spent! The lemurs were adorable.!!! At 11 months old they were big enough to play with us and small enough to like it. One was grooming Leah, licking her hand. They’d run jump in our laps to be loved on. Sooooooo sweet!!

The kids also got to play with baby kangaroos…

And Leah petted a possum!

Michael got to pet a milk snake – which is a pet he hopes to have someday. (Yikes.)

That is my hand, friends – I got to pet a Siberian Lynx. It was gorgeous! This was the only animal we petted that was restrained and I was a little worry it might eat my arm but it didn’t seem fazed at all to be petted.

I resisted the urge to give it a big hug! Ha!

 

Michaels favorite part was the Reptile House, of course!! For me it’s the best and worst part of any zoo.

Here’s Bryan and the kids in front of the Reptile House. Of course, it was crowded and poorly lit, which added to the ambience!


 

As I was checking out this yellow Anaconda, Leah said, “Oh Mommy! There’s a snake right behind you!” She failed to clarify it was in the aquarium until after I jumped out of my skin!!

 

The kids got to feed all kinds of little critters.

 

I loved seeing lions and tigers – they had a bunch – but it made me sad that their enclosures were small. The zoo appears so well funded – it was so clean, well staffed and nicely landscaped. The big cat enclosures were the one down-side. What beautiful animals!

 

All in all, it was awesome! The lemurs were amazing… Definitely worth another visit!

Beach Pictures

Bryan calls any nice, dignified photo of our family “false advertising”! Ha! With that said, here are some of our best shots from sundown yesterday…

        

We haven’t been on vacation together in a decade!!! My parents used to have a lake house and we always spent July 4th together. This trip is reminiscent of the unscheduled, relaxed pace of those weeks at the lake. A week is not enough!

 

Atlanta

Sooooo… I haven’t blogged in a couple weeks because I started a new consulting gig and they’ve had me come to Atlanta twice!! Business trips are pretty sweet for mommies in many ways – someone else does the cooking and cleaning, no one pops their head in to chat with you when you’re tying to pee, you get the whole bed to yourself and you get to talk to real live grown-ups uninterrupted! <cue chorus of angels> A neighbor tried to elicit my sympathies once about his busy work travel schedule and I said, Oh no – I have done both and know without a shadow of a doubt it’s harder to be at home than on the road. Bring on the “14 hour workday”! That’s a shorter day than I’d spend with my kids – and someone’s buying drinks when it’s over! Who are we kidding?!?

The down side is clear: I miss my babies and they miss me – and my absence places a burden on everyone at home. Thankfully Nana and Paw-Paw put on their superhero capes and save the day!

Here’s all the excitement of being on a business trip… Brace yourselves for big. exciting. stuff. (Just kidding. Please set your expectations very low.)

This is my client’s global headquarters – in Buckhead, Atlanta. So nice!

My consulting firm is just north of Buckhead here in Sandy Springs. I met with a colleague today who has been offered a promotion and might be my new boss. That would be good!

One of my early business trips for EDS, way back in 1996, was with client in one of these buildings. #goodtimes #ROOKIE

Selfie of working in bed at the hotel. #yawn

I wasn’t really working – I was streaming Netflix!

Selfie of me working in a cubicle and so you can see what I wore to the office. They wear jeans to work and basically insisted that I wear jeans, too. Sorry, but I don’t feel very professional in jeans. I spent too many years in dark, conservative suits with pearls and heels at EDS! #whatever

Bryan says this shirt makes me look like a Bama fan. I just like houndstooth! Can’t a girl like houndstooth?

Gorgeous early morning drive across Tennessee.

Trying to make jeans look quasi-professional.

These shoes remind me of every fashion magazine advice column: Are animal prints OK for the office? Um, probably not, unless they’re already making you wear jeans.

Another outfit selection…

Free food! Seriously, this is the best salad ever!!

I had dinner at Gordon Biersch almost every night because (1) the traffic in Buckhead is absurb – took me 40 minutes to drive less than a mile from the office to my hotel, (2) this restaurant is next to my hotel, and (3) they serve that crazy good salad!

OK, that’s all the excitement around here!