Number 30 – in its entirety.

Let me start by saying that I spent all of 28 and the first six months of 29 dreading my 30th birthday. I couldn’t imagine being 30. I can remember when my mom turned 30.

But something happened about half way through 29 that changed my attitude. Honestly, I think it was our decision to stop at 3 kids. I realized that although many things are still up in the air, and God can still chose to change it all, a lot of the unknowns of 20 are known, and life is just beginning.

I’m married, own a home, have three kids, and am finally feeling comfortable in my stay at home mom role.

Something else has happened in this last decade. Turning 30 has become a huge deal. Like bigger than Sweet 16s and 21st birthdays. Turning 30 is a birthday of surprise parties, Vegas, and overseas trips. I got scared. There are only about 3 people in this world who would think of doing something big for me but they’re not the type of people who would do it. And I didn’t want to be disappointed. I’m one of those horrible people who doesn’t want anyone to make a big deal about me  but then I’m disappointed when they don’t.

So I planned a trip.

I got out of town and took it into my own hands.

And I could not be more happy with the way it turned out!

The Trip:

Kids in the car
We loaded up the van and headed to Nashville, TN on June 4th. We aimed to leave at 7AM and rolled out around 8:15. Not bad, I’m still impressed. We checked into the Hyatt Place Opryland about 7 hours later. The kids didn’t sleep the whole way there and before we could figure out how to turn on the TV, Anna was in her bathing suit ready to swim. So swim we did. Who knew Caleb is such a fish? Then we met up with the terrific Tomczak family and the always lovely Alison for cheeseburgers at Pharmacy. And oh.my.word. The cheeseburger ranks have been changed. Pharmacy in Nashville, TN serves the best cheeseburgers and French fries IN.THE.WORLD. OK, maybe, but definitely the best I’ve had in a while.

Caleb at Pharmacy

Let me tell you a bit about these friends of mine. I made a lot of bad decisions in college. I think one that I regret the most is not cultivating the relationships I could have had with the people I met. I am so thankful that by the grace of God, Michelle and Alison still choose to make time for me while I swing through their city. It wasn’t convenient.  There were five kids, one of which is still pretty fresh. Going to restaurants with these types of tiny humans isn’t easy. And restaurants in this area of town aren’t large. We were a pretty big group. But these ladies, and Shaun and Drew, and our tiny humans, are people I need. They refresh my soul. And I needed to see Michelle. To hug her and see that she’s ok. The right words didn’t come and I didn’t know what to say, so I’m sure I rambled about nothing, but I hope she knows how often she is on my heart, how often all of them are. And Alison, this girl…she’s beautiful and radiant and kind and genuine. I hope she knows that 🙂 When we were leaving Drew asked me if Alison has the capacity to be mean. She doesn’t. But she’s strong.

Group at Pharmacy

Anna clung to Alison like a leach. It’s a new thing Anna does – she picks a person and latches. It made me want to cry (happy tears), for some reason. And the boys all did great – mostly. Caleb gets a bit wacky when you don’t feed him fast enough. He would stick scalding hot french fries in his mouth given the opportunity. But Bennett and Oliver did great. We ate outside and Bennett had trucks so he played on the ground. Oliver sat like an adult and told knock knock jokes. Baby Ezra sat back and took it all in. Not one peep – just smiles. Babies are amazing and unpredictable like that.

Anna and Alison

So much more to get to!

Friday morning we woke up, ate breakfast, packed our bags and headed out! I don’t know what time we left but we got to Stone Mountain, GA a little closer to 3 that we wanted. The traffic on 285 was a little backed up but nothing like what we were expecting. We got to Isaac’s house with enough time to say hi and let Crosby get acclimated to the kiddos. Then he was off to the airport to get my parents.

Bennett at Isaacs

By the time they returned, Crosby and Anna were best friends and Ricci joined us. We hung out and ordered pizza from Fellini’s – which actually looked like it would have been fun to go to but we just took the pizza back to Le Casa de Horwedel. Us girls ran to the grocery and picked up some essentials, like beer and fruit. It was perfect.

Anna and Crosby

Eventually the kids got tired. Caleb slept in a pack in play in their spare room and Anna and Bennett crashed on an air mattress in Isaac and Ricci’s room. Eventually Drew and I slept there as well and Isaac and Ricci took one for the team on the couches. Don’t feel bad for them, these are big, comfy couches. That said, I slept like a log in their room and I almost never sleep away from home. That says something about the comfort of their little place. It’s amazing.

We woke up and took our time drinking coffee (could someone buy me a french press?) on the porch and talking about everything under the sun.

Anna and Ricci

AND THEN – are you ready for this? WE WENT TO REVOLUTION DOUGHNUTS! It didn’t take any time to get there. I mean, it’s right by their house. I would weigh a million pounds. I’m such a sucker for doughnuts and these were unlike any I’d ever had. So good. I’m partial to yeast doughnuts but at Revolution, go for the cake doughnuts. I can’t even describe them so I’m not going to try. I had the dark chocolate frosted yeast doughnut and most of Bennett’s dark chocolate frosted cake doughnut, as well as half of Caleb’s vanilla bean doughnut. Anna had the raspberry sprinkle doughnut, Drew had the peach slider (which he said was AMAZING), mom had the toasted almond and dad maybe had the cinnamon sugar?, Isaac had carrot cake and Ricci had…?? Anyway, go there. Even if you’re not near Decatur, GA, just get in your car and go.

RevolutionAnna at Revolution

Around noon, my cousin Laura drove down from Chattanooga. It was so nice of her. And she brought smore’s bars that she made with homemade marshmallows. They were so good. So good. I probably ate half of them. Some of us ate a piece of leftover pizza and then we headed to Hess Academy , the school where Ricci teaches. It’s located at a church and the play ground was phenomenal. Anna had a blast playing in the sandbox and in general, everyone had a good time. Mom and I ran to a place, maybe called Taps n Apps (beer and appetizers, which will totally be the type of restaurant I will open, if I ever do that), and grabbed some chicken and salad and drinks for us while we were at the park. Eventually we headed back to their house and started getting read for dinner. Caleb napped 🙂

Bennett at HessCaleb at Hess

On Saturday night, we headed to Decatur for supper at Farm Burger. 2nd best cheeseburger I’ve ever had. And the French Fries…mmm… This was a very neat little restaurant. The guy working the front was super amazing. They have a rule that you can’t be seated until you’ve ordered, which was kind of difficult for a group our size. He didn’t bend the rules for us but he found us a seat in no time. And then, when he noticed the kids were done with their juice before I food arrived, he brought them each another juice box. It’s the little things, you know? I wouldn’t be surprised if he is the owner, or part owner. Looking forward to going back next time we’re in the area.

Us at Farm BurgFarm BurgerSaturday nightCaleb and I at Farm BurgFarm Burg table

After dinner, my parent’s graciously took the kids back to their hotel. Isaac and Ricci, Laura, and Drew and I headed out on the town. Decatur is such a neat place. We landed at Victory Sandwich Bar. Drew and I just had beer but everyone else had some sort of neat cocktail, include a Jack and Coke slushie. Great conversations were had. I don’t remember the last time I got to just sit and talk with these people. Maybe never. It was wonderful. We didn’t stay long and ended up sitting on the porch at Isaac and Ricci’s, continuing our conversation and putting a dent in the beer stock. We stayed up too late, way too late for Ricci 😉

Saturday night porchGirls on the porch

Sunday morning we woke up late (ok, I was up by 7, showered, coffeed, and ready before anyone else started stirring), and went to the Thumbs Up Diner. My parents still had the kids and it was nice to enjoy breakfast (ok, brunch) while it was still hot. Breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day and Thumbs Up didn’t disappoint. Neither did the story about Ricci’s dad ordering espresso to go at a pretentious coffee house in Denver.

Birthday Coffeekids at hotel with mom

We headed back to Isaac and Ricci’s to pack up and start the trek towards home. Dad played some guitar and the kids managed their goodbyes pretty well. It helps that we could tell them Isaac and Ricci will be in Indiana soon 🙂

Birthday musicSaying goodbye

Laura left a little bit before us and my parents left a little after us. We arrived back in Nashville around 4, maybe a little later. We stayed at the Aloft Hotel in Cool Springs this time. It was really neat. If we hadn’t had the kids with us, the bar would have been really awesome. We unloaded, grabbed a quick dinner at Kroger, and met the Tomczak’s at Alison’s house. They had cake for me and I felt so special. It was a chocolate bundt cake with cream cheese frosting from Nothing Bundt Cakes. It was delicious! I finished it the next day for breakfast 🙂

Cake

Monday we woke up and Drew took the kids swimming while I packed up. It wouldn’t have been a trip to Nashville without at stop at the Pancake Pantry. Apparently it was CMA week so we ended up waiting about an hour. We met a nice older couple from Southern Illinois. The kids did awesome, all things considering. Bennett peed through his pull up while sitting on my lap. That was great 🙂

Swimming with DadAnna the fishPancake PantryPolka Dot Pancakes

The trip home went pretty smooth and a pretty rough storm blew through about 15 minutes after we unloaded the van.

Bennett sleeping in the carCaleb sleeping in the car

It was all so perfect. I loved it.

Aunt Ricci and Uncle Isaac

My parents gave me a charm bracelet with birth stones for the kids, Drew and myself (which I had secretly been wanting ever since I bought one for my mom) and Drew got me a Fitbit (which I had not so secretly been wanting). My wrists are decorated 🙂

The best gift, though, was watching Anna. The week I turned 30, my shy little girl blossomed into a not as shy butterfly. While Drew was loading up the car Monday morning, she was telling me a story about something and my eyes filled with tears. I turned 30, and my little girl started falling into her stride. It’s amazing, isn’t it.

Hotel life

So, here we go decade number 3. Let’s do this!

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