5.22.2017

Weekending: It's Been a While

Hi!

Remember me?

I was the blogger who took a lovely three week hiatus from my little blog and left my MILLION (okay, at most like four) readers high and dry without any explanation. Oops...

Please accept my dearest apologies - the week of my last post was chaotic professionally and personally as I scrambled about trying to check off the neverending to-do list in preparation of our family trip. However, as I caught up on my favorite blogs I realized that many of you also took a break from the blogging world so I am glad I wasn't alone!

The next week was spent in full relaxation mode as my entire family bonded in Charleston, South Carolina.


You know how some people say they need a vacation? I never realized how badly I needed time away from work until we came home from our trip. It was amazing how much more rejuvenated and relaxed I was upon our return.

I truly have no excuse for last week except that I didn't want to just throw something at you so I decided to hold off until more thought could be put into my posts. I had high hopes of getting ahead of my blog schedule while on vacation, but aside from a few Instagram posts here and there, I boycotted the majority of technology. And, here we are.

Easing back into the swing of reality was more of an annoyance than anything...I kept making the comment that I was still mellow from my vacation to which my boss replied, "I was wondering what was going on. You've hardly talked since you've been back." Ha ha.

I rolled out of work on Friday and headed to pickup E from school. It turned into what is now dubbed "M&M" night (movies and mom) as J was venturing out to test his car at the dragstrip. E and I watered the garden, chowed down on leftover pizza and changed into our jammies. Moana was the chosen feature and we almost finished it before bedtime. J still wasn't home so I took full advantage of the alone time and caught up on Real Housewives of NY and the season finale of Grey's Anatomy. Grey's was nothing short of an anxiety filled hour - it was so good and reminded me of how suspenseful it was back in the day. I was also able to check in with one of my besties, which was long overdue.

I woke up on Saturday morning and headed out to join my run group since I had missed the first three meetings as we were out of town.


It's a good thing I dragged myself out of bed since I was one of two that showed! Regardless, I completed a rough two miles and hope to handle a three mile run in the next month or so.

I stopped by Starbucks and headed to meet J & E at Michaels. Have any of y'all tried their classes? I recently read about a Michaels birthday party on Smidge of This and decided to register E for a few of their kid classes.

At $2 per class I decided to give it a whirl and I am so glad that we did! The cost covered all the materials, a teacher who leads the craft, and it's in a classroom so there is no mess to clean up at your home.

I repeat, no mess at your house!

This week's craft was creating a terrarium so E was able to paint, mold, color, cut, and tape.



After our project was completed, she and I headed to a new after hours pediatrician at the urging of my mother. This past week, E had shown a couple of symptoms (lack of appetite, an accident in her sleep, and falling asleep in the car) that she previously displayed before being diagnosed with strep. Her T&A surgery had been done more than a month prior, but my mother suggested we go just to make sure she was okay.


Unfortunately, the test was positive and I literally felt like I had been punched in the gut.

She was placed on a stronger antibiotic and I will follow up with our pediatrician in a couple of weeks. We are also asking those around us to be tested for confirmation that they are or are not a carrier. Hopefully, someone is and it can be treated accordingly.

Following this news, the rest of our weekend was spent at the house watching lot of Moana, Sophia the First, and some weird pug show on Disney Junior. J and her were BFF on Sunday so I spent most of the day upstairs sorting laundry and catching up on blog things. This provided a ton of time for more TV watching so I could finally cross of Scandal, Blacklist and The Originals as well.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend/last three weeks, ha ha, and that you all have a great upcoming week!


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5.01.2017

Weekending: Cracks & Crackheads

Did you catch my post from last Friday?

At the end of it I mentioned that we had a weekend of firsts upon us. And indeed it was!

The entire family (all three of us) headed to Atlanta on Friday afternoon to fight traffic and check into our hotel. J and I were spending our weekend at the FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember marriage retreat and E was heading to my sister's home for a fun-filled few days. The retreat was a first for us as was us being away from E for the weekend, but we embraced the adventures!

Do I have any readers from the A? If so, you can relate to my husband's anticipation of the traffic we would face since I-85 was shut down. For those of you who aren't familiar with Atlanta, a few weeks ago a bridge on I-85 (the interstate that literally runs through the city) caught on fire and collapsed. This was an absolute terror for the already nightmare that is Atlanta traffic. Additionally, President Trump was flying into Atlanta for a conference a few hours prior to our arrival. Thankfully, traffic wasn't nearly as bad as predicted. We made it from our house to the hotel in two and a half hours - that included getting gas, stopping at Starbucks for some human fuel, and grabbing E from school. Woot! Woot!

After checking in we headed out to meet Foxie and Aunt Foo Foo for dinner.




My dad skipped the dinner since he was diagnosed with the flu AND strep throat earlier that week. I didn't even know that was possible.

After dinner we switched out the car seat and said good bye to E. She was upset, but calmed down soon after the car started moving. We headed back to the hotel sans munchkin, checked in for our conference, and spent the next three hours listening to our speakers for the weekend. It was a late night and by the time we were tucked into our bed, I swear the alarm went off soon after. After seven hours of sleep, we woke up for day two of the retreat - so much for sleeping in!


Unless I work out the evening prior, I like to shower in the morning. Even after snoozing my alarm 30,327 times every single day, I am still not fully awake and a shower helps me gather my bearings. After getting out of  the shower, I grabbed a towel and noticed this:


Once I finished throwing up (only kidding) I grabbed another towel and crossed my fingers that it was cleaner than the last.

J and I headed downstairs for the complimentary breakfast buffet and I returned to our room to finish getting ready. While waiting for the elevator to go back downstairs, I had the STRANGEST encounter (keep in mind, J was downstairs in the lobby).

When I approached the elevator lobby on our floor, a woman was already waiting for one to arrive. I could tell she wasn't here for the conference since she was alone and had a large, environmentally friendly bag that was overflowing with items such as flip flops, etc. In fact, I recall thinking that she must be heading to the beach until I remembered where I was and that no beach existed close by. Next to her belongings was a six pack of beer - maybe that's why I thought she was heading to the beach? She kept sniffing and I could tell that she didn't feel well. This stranger broke the silence with a simple warning, "If I were you, I wouldn't continue staying here. This place infected me and made me sick." 

My response, "Oh, bed bugs?" Isn't that everyone's concern when staying in a hotel? Oh, just mine?

The lady continued to share that no, she thought it was worms - um what?!? - and she was infected. I asked if she was heading to the hospital and she replied that she was going to see her specialist who would probably send her next door to the hospital. Do specialists even work on the weekends?

I questioned if she had complained to the hotel and she should reach out to them on social media to file a claim. At this point, she may have asked me my name and I may have responded (I honestly cannot remember although the fact that I would have shared my name SHOCKS me, but I was so sidetracked from a rando telling me that they were INFECTED - yes that is the word she kept saying). The stranger went on to tell me that she was recording me. 

Oh boy. 

I inquired why I was being recorded and she said that she was recording everything from the time it all began (or something like that) and I said, "Oh you mean from the time you left the room and all?" She said, "yes" and kept stating that if I had a problem with it then she wouldn't use it. At this point the elevator arrived and I got on while saying, "I just don't understand why you need to record me." Again, she repeated if I had a problem with it then she wouldn't use it. She almost missed the elevator, but the doors reopened for her to get on. 

On the way down she continued to babble that she asked the hotel to change her sheets multiple times and they left her sitting on the mattress without any sheets. She and I were on opposite sides of the elevator and thankfully it stopped to pick up a more passengers. About six more adults stepped in and on the way down this lady announced to all that she was infected by the hotel and then proceeded to crack open a beer and proclaim it was her morning beverage and she needed it due to her situation. No one really responded to her and the elevator stopped on the second floor. The early drinker asked if it was the first floor and I informed her that she had one more to go. When we made it to the lobby, I hopped off the crazy train and met up with J. I turned around to point out the girl and she was NO WHERE to be found. It was bizarre. Our session began almost immediately so I wasn't able to share in full detail what happened until an hour later. 

I was semi-freaked out since the word "infected' has many different scenarios (cue my knowledge of Criminal Minds, CSI, Blacklist, etc.) when J assured me that she was probably just high. That logic seemed to make much more sense given her attire, the way she was traveling, her demeanor, and her need to drink the edge off. 

I told you weird things happen to me all the time. 

Following this ordeal, our Saturday was spent participating in the marriage retreat, breaking for lunch at Taco Mac for dip, wings, and the draft (WDE), and killing a bug in our room before dinner.


When I went down to the front desk to share the image of the dirty towel and that an insect was crawling around in our room on the top floor, the front desk apologized and offered to have someone spray our room. I declined because I prefer not to sleep with poisonous fumes circulating in the air.

Sigh.

I felt like I needed to share the issues with management in person since it was called out on Instagram and I knew it would be mentioned in this post, but they did not appear to be concerned by the news. Let's be honest here, the towel and bug incident indicate a lack of cleanliness and that should be a priority with ANY business. 

Saturday evening rolled around which meant it was DATE NIGHT! We headed to Seasons 52 for cocktails and a delicious dinner.




It was extremely bright out and this was the best date night picture we took. Haha.


I really wanted to stop at the Super Target to pick up a few things for our beach trip and because our poor hometown has a disappointing Target. J wasn't thrilled, but obliged. Y'all, drop what you are doing and head to your closest Dollar Spot. I'll be sharing a few fantastic finds for tomorrow's post.

Following dinner we tried to grab dessert at a few nearby places, but the lines were so long. Instead, we opted to head back to the hotel for a nightcap and something sweet. When we arrived at the hotel restaurant (around 8 P.M.) it was quite bare. The hostess had to double check with the manager that she could seat us (I'm assuming it's because we weren't eating dinner) and he said it was okay. After being seated, we waited FOREVER to order even though we were the ONLY patrons in the area. A few minutes later, our drinks arrived followed by a slice of cheesecake. I'm not sure what the reasoning was, but my Moscow Mule was served with lemonade and a lemon was added as garnish. Due to the frustrating service we already experienced, I decided to put my big girl pants on and drink it. Even after finishing the drink, there was pulp from the lemonade left on the glass. Since when did a Moscow Mule involve lemonade?! I simply assumed the waitress took the order incorrectly. The dessert we ordered, turtle cheesecake, was awful. It was a thin rectangle and came no where close to being worth the $12 as it left much to be desired in the taste category. In hindsight we should have waited at the Cheesecake Factory - it would have been less expensive and tasted 100% better. No one came by to check on us so we waited a few more minutes until J went to find our check. $30+ later and a $1 tip, we went upstairs to settle in for the night. J kept joking that I should take pictures of everything for the blog, but I was so done at this point.

Sunday consisted of packing, breakfast and finishing our final two sessions for the retreat. We headed to Maggianos for lunch with my entire family and to get E. We were SO EXCITED to be reunited with our little! Can you believe that J stressed out more about E being gone than I did?!?

As for E, she had a busy weekend with her aunt and uncle. They played chase, went to the park, visited Build-A-Bear and made a bunny, ate Chick-Fil-A, had a playdate, watched a movie, hung out with the neighbor's cat, and made purple Funfetti cupcakes.


I have no idea how my sister had the energy to do everything since she is pregnant. At least she knows what to prepare for!

To follow up on the hotel....Based on my description, I bet you assumed that our arrangements were inexpensive or in a cheaper area of town. If you thought this, please let me clarify. We stayed at the flipping Crowne Plaza Atlanta Perimeter at Ravinia by the mall. This is a "luxury" brand, yes? Hence, why our experience is so disappointing. Dirty towels, insects, crackheads (or maybe she was telling the truth), and poor service? No, thank you.

The hotel is older - in fact, I think I had a birthday party there when I was in elementary school.  The "classic" feel is evident in the decor and cracks throughout the ceiling. When we first entered our room, I told J that it smelled like pee. He thought the carpets may have been cleaned prior to our stay and I was sniffing out the solution. Our a/c worked well and we were never hot, but it ran all the time and with that came a musty odor. The location of the hotel is great as it's close to the mall/numerous restaurants and since the hotel hosted the retreat, it was very convenient for us. As an IHG Rewards member, we were upgraded to the top floor which eliminated any noise from customers straying above us.


Overall, I would tell anyone and everyone to stay elsewhere. At the price we paid per night, it was absolutely infuriating. You are better off giving your hard earned money to another company. The fact that no employee seemed to care about the service was concerning and will be remembered when we need to book a hotel in the future.

Eek! I feel like this just ended on a sour note, but J and I had a much-needed, enjoyable weekend away aside from the hotel stories. I promise honesty on this blog so an factual review from my point of view is what you are going to get.

As for the marriage retreat, it was fabulous! I hope to share more details with you in a few weeks when there aren't so many other details to mention.

Per the norm, our week is jammed pack with appointments every day after work. One of those appointments is a trip to the hair salon for yours truly. :insert all the praise hands:

Have a wonderful week!




*Linking up with B Loved BostonMy Glittery Heart, and HoHo Runs


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4.28.2017

Favorites On A Friday: Blogger Style

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I don't discriminate when it comes to Friday.

Bring on the weekend!

And don't let the door hit you on the way out, work week.

When it comes to sharing some of my favorite things, I keep a few lists handy so I don't forget to discuss them on the blog. While I hope my suggestions help someone out, I also write about them so I can refer to them later on. My memory has faded since having E (WHY does that happen?!?) so writing things down is a necessity!

I really try to keep my favorites themed, if possible, and today's topic focuses on all things blogger related. Bentley, Like the Car has been around for almost seven years - SEVEN YEARS! It started off as a creative outlet where I could dump all the random thoughts circulating in my brain and then I took a sabbatical  (minus the pay part) while I was pregnant and during the first year of E's life. Since one of my goals was jumping back into the blogging world, I felt like it was an ideal time to share some of my beloved blogger things with you!

Followers App


Fellow blogger and real life friend, Lindsay, wrote a fabulous post about growing your following on Instagram. She has worked her tail off expanding her brand in the online community so I was excited that she divulged a few of her secrets! 

One of the tips she had fully supported of my disdain for those who play the follow/unfollow game on Insta. Following her suggestion, I downloaded the Followers app and haven't looked back. It's perfect for tracking your activity on the Instagram platform and I love the feeling of vindication when I unfollow the bigger influencers who attempt to play the game with me.

And for your enjoyment, a picture of Lindsay and I from yesterday:


See? I told you we knew each other in real life! #twin

iPad Keyboard

Here at our casa, we have one laptop for the entire family. E is too young to fight for computer time, but J and I have run into times where we both needed to use it. Instead of purchasing another computer, I decided to try a keyboard for my iPad.

It was an excellent idea for a fraction of the cost of a new computer! I wasn't sure I would like it at first, but it has grown on me. It's the perfect solution: I can type out my posts while J uses the computer and quickly go back to insert any graphics or photos when he is done (or from my iPad if I am really pushed for time). 

Instagram Loop


Do you follow me on Instagram? If so, then hopefully you saw and participated in the Building your Mom Tribe loop that I co-hosted with a few other mamas.

I was really excited that a spot opened up to co-host with Ally! When I participated in the loop a few weeks ago, I sent her a DM and asked that she keep me in mind when she picked her hosts for the next loop.

Bloggers, do not be afraid to take this approach. 

If you stumble across something that interests you, take the initiative. It can lead to connections with other bloggers, readers, and hopefully gain some exposure for your brand as well. If you are interested in getting a group together for something like this, please keep me in mind! 

Blog Linking


Here and there, I tell stories about parenting my vibracious toddler, E.

One of my recent posts discussed the number that ALL parents need, which I shared in a linkup party. A few days later, I received an email from Laura who said she was going to link up to my blog in her own Friday Favorites. This was cool for numerous reasons. First, someone I didn't know in real life ACTUALLY read my post and secondly, she found me through a linkup party.

Raise your hand if you don't know what a linkup party is.

Link Party


Until recently, my hand would be raised. I swear they were not around (or at least as popular as they are now), when I began this journey a few years ago.

So what is a link party?

It's when a host or group of blogger hosts insert code into their blog to group all their blog posts together give other bloggers a chance to link their blog to the party.

Sometimes the host(s) will pick a detailed theme like Most Embarrassing Moment or something less specific such as Tuesday Talk. Each link party is a way to connect with other bloggers and showcase your content. It can lead to new connections and a future shout out, link or even feature on another blog. Even better, it will help you find new sites to add to your reading list!

That's enough about my favorite blogger things, but I would love to hear what your preferred blogging tools or tricks are! Do you have anything to add or is there something you loathe? I want to hear ALL about it.

Have a wonderful Friday, everyone! Our little family has a semi-unusual,"first time for everything" weekend planned.

I hope to share all the details with you on Monday so see ya then!




*Linking up for Friday Favorites with MomprofessionalsSmidge of ThisCup of Tea, and Meet @ the Barre

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