Butterflies, Birds & Biking at Callaway Gardens!


Funny story. The last time we were at Callaway Gardens, I had to keep pulling my bike over on the side of the paths because I was so nauseous. Yep - super PREGNANT. And that night I went home to take a test because whoa, the biking was so rough. And jostle-y. So this season, when we decided to bike around the gardens, it was really lovely to be able to enjoy the ride with a baby on the outside of my body ;)

Callaway Gardens is especially known for it's spectacular variety and display of azaleas in the springtime. Stevie grew up going there on Spring Break with his parents and siblings, so he always has incredibly rich memories when we visit. You know how you just want all the good things that you had as a child, for your own kids? I really see that side of him come out when we visit Callaway. And of course, the gardens are different these days, the restaurants are different, but he gets this warm sparkle in his eye when he sees the boys running around at Callaway, and it really is the sweetest thing.

This time around we went to the BIRD SHOW! The Birds of Prey show is so rad - the owls flock out of their cages and they fly around and eat snacks in the air and it's pretty much the best. Any fellow bird lovers out there? Let me just be clear - I love birds in the wild. Birds for house pets are a no no. But owls  - yes! It was bomb. And if you haven't visited the Butterfly Center you really should. Haha this post is so not sponsored but I can see why it might seem to be. We are just a Callaway family! If you're interested in biking, birds and butterflies (and obviously - the flowers!) it's a gorgeous time of year to visit! xx

Beltline Brunch & Play.

I admit, I've done a poor job getting into Atlanta and exploring. Since I've grown up here, I just don't make time to keep exploring. Stevie and I do such a great job exploring other cities, because it's an adventure! But when we are home, I tend to hibernate a bit more and just enjoy my immediate surroundings. Like my backyard and the golf cart paths :)  But every time I go into the city I am reminded how close it is and how we should just do it more. Because the food is better, you guys. It just is.

I've been feeling a little insulated at home. A little baby-fried. I love being home with my kiddos but we are so in it right now, up to our neck in bottles and swaddles and no sleep and OUR MEAL TRAIN ENDED. So basically there hasn't been anything to look forward to (have I mentioned how much I loved my meal train? I can't even talk about it anymore. Because I get too sad that it's over.) But all that being said, we were due to have some good old fashioned FUN. So last weekend we trekked into the city and met our friends the Hunts for brunch in Inman Park, right along the Beltline. Everything at Parish was soooo good (hence the "food is better in the city" comment) - if you go, get the Croque monsieur, the cranberry french toast and the corned beef hash. It was SO GOOD.

Like seriously, I need more.

Then we walked the Beltline, found a playground and a water fountain (two musts when you're a parent with wiggly little people) and chowed down on King of Pops popsicles. I'll admit, the weather was still slightly chilly for popsicles, but we are beckoning spring onward, so it felt like our duty to have King of Pops. :)

I can't believe how BIG Everett has gotten. I remember holding him just like I'm holding Daxton these days, a little baby in my arms. I remember trekking into the city with him, along with my monster stroller and basically everything we own, just for a few hour stint in the city. I can't believe that time is over. I can't believe I am doing this again. I can't believe I made another baby and he's here and he's so big and beautiful. It's true when they say it - everything with kids goes by SO FAST. It feels so challenging when you're in the thick of it, but then you blink twice and maybe move once or twice and suddenly your baby is a toddler and you have another baby in your arms and its like - what happened? Are we really a family of four?! Wasn't I like, just living in NYC and going on auditions and doing whatever I wanted with my time? Oh the wonderful selfish years.

Those are gone.

But! That's why we trek into the city and play, because even though all my years going forward will be consumed with meeting everyone else's needs and making sure they're happy and healthy - this mama wanted a day in the city, and that's what she got :)


It was just a really, really good day.

P.S. - Recommendations for other family-friend restaurants and activities in the city are so welcome! I want to do more Atlanta things as the weather warms up - any suggestions?

P.P.S. - I'm running a giveaway for another few days over on my Instagram, gifting one special mama with some must-have postpartum products from Earth Mama Angel Baby - don't miss it!

P.P.P.S. - I'll be helping host an event at the Peachtree City Banana Republic this Thursday evening, 2/23 from 5:30-8pm and I would love it if you came out! There will be bites and drinks and pants (the promoted item of the evening :) I'll havemore details for you on my Instagram tomorrow :)

Hiking up to Amicalola Falls!

Guys, it was harder than I thought it would be.

A lot harder.

Ascending to the top of Amicalola Falls is no simple feat. This 729-foot waterfall is nestled atop a cliff in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is considered the southeast's tallest cascading waterfall. While my little family was enjoying a mountain getaway in Ellijay last weekend, we decided to hike up to the Falls that I had previously heard so much about. I knew it would be strenuous, especially with a toddler in tow, but we were just crazy/enthusiastic/high on mountain air to gleefully attempt such a feat. And while it was obviously worth is and totally beautiful, I will say that it wasn't easy. Okay, it was downright hard. There, I said it.

Stevie wore Everett in a hiking pack (ours is from REI and is no longer available but see similar here) and I wore a Camelbak (similar here) with all our snacks, water, and of course the camera, and we found ourselves seriously huffing and puffing to get to the top. The 2.1-mile trail begins like a normal hike and then turns into a series of steep, winding staircases that lead you to the top of the falls. I didn't do a great job of photographing the actual stairs (because those were the moments that the camera stayed put away, because well, I was wheezing for the life of me), but now I really wish I had a shot of those rickety stairs that looked like they were leading up to a forest of Heaven. It was quite an experience, climbing those 600-ish steps. Everett did a zillion times better than he did the last time we hiked (thank goodness!), so at least his kicking and screaming wasn't an issue this time around. But even though the trail was seriously challenging, my two boys were happily chattering, singing songs and making animal noises the whole time. Stevie asked Everett about the sounds that really obscure animals make, like giraffes and zebras. Who even knows? But Everett made up some really hideous screeches that he found thrillingly entertaining and proceeded to die laughing and then make more of the same sounds. These two are just peas in a pod these days.

This pack stands up on it's own, even with a kid inside! Such a great gift that we got from our buds Travis and Liz :)

We found a crazy tree. What could possibly have caused it to grow like that??

The pinnacle of the hike was getting up to the falls. However, it was crazy crowded at the top (we are talking swarms of people, children, dogs and trail mix), so we didn't manage to get a good family pic of the three of us at the top. It was actually kind of claustrophobic. But we decided to continue the hike up above the falls and managed to take in this view:

Getting to see this sweeping view of the valley below from up above the trees was incredible. Watching the eagles soar at our eye level was a little eerie and wondrous all at once. We stood there for a long time, drinking in the view and enjoying the lack of swarming hikers. It's moments like these that I'm reminded of just how GREEN the state of Georgia is. And I don't really mean eco-friendly green, I just mean GREEN green. It's the greenest, leafiest, kudzu-iest state.

This is kind of a bad photo of us, but I still love it because this was when we finally reached the top of the mountain and Everett and I plopped down in the middle of the trail and ate fruit snacks. Which he calls "fruit sans". I love how he carefully watched me dole out each bite would immediately demand, "more!" before he even finished his bite. He's something, that little guy. Also, his hat plus tank top just kill me. I bought him more of these tank tops this week.

We came, we hiked, we conquered. It was an awesome experience, one that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in hiking to a gorgeous view and can handle the 600+ stairs that lead up to the falls. I'm sure Stevie would agree that without a toddler on your back screeching "duck sounds" at the top of their lungs, this gig would be much easier to accomplish. But then, what's the fun in that? :)

P.S. - If you into other hiking/camping adventures, check out the time we went glamping with our toddler, and the time I road-tripped and camped across the U.S.

Weekend in Ellijay, Georgia.

We spent Memorial Day weekend on an unexpected trip! I got a wonderfully welcome phone call on Friday evening at 5pm from a dear friend, Dana, letting me know that her mountain cabin was available for the weekend, and she invited us to take advantage of it for the holiday! Best call ever. Stevie and I eagerly packed up Everett and a car load of groceries and headed a few hours north of Atlanta for a weekend in the foothills of the Cohutta Wilderness. And I have to say, it was the best thing we could have done with our weekend. We needed a little family getaway together, to regroup and reflect on the year so far. It's been a busy and surprising one for us, so it was nice to slow down, drink it the gorgeous mountain views and spend time together.

Ellijay is a cozy mountain town with quaint shops and country eats surrounded by apple-laden farms. We enjoyed barbecue at Bigun's BBQ (get the pork plate and the mac and cheese!), fried muscadine and peach pies at Panorama Orchards (I should have doubled my order because WOW), pizza at Bunk's on the Boardwalk (where we ate outside and Everett learned how to play corn hole), and we hiked up to Amicalola Falls, which I will share about in a separate post.

These few pictures are so dear to me, because the moments are far and few between these days that my busy son will actually slow down long enough to snuggle with me. Yeah, maybe I had to play an Elmo game on my phone with him to keep him interested in lounging with me, but I still got to kiss his sweet hair and hold him tight in my arms for more than a few seconds and it felt SO GOOD. This little boy is just my sweetheart. I'm so lucky to be his mom.

Also, the Elmo phase lives on in this house. It's happening in a big way over here :)

One of my favorite parts about the weekend were the lazy mornings we spent on the porch, overlooking the southern swells of the Appalachians. Stevie and I rocked in the chairs, sipped on English Breakfast tea and watched the sun bend around the skyline, which had a quick way of warming the day for us. Everett jumped, hopped, threw sticks and was the picture of boyhood, bored to death with our morning routine and begging to "go outside" (which we technically were) or go in "the white car" (which is his favorite). We finally gave in when the humidity arrived, and got on with the day. But those almost-silent moments one the porch are still sealed in my memory.

We found this crazy perfect wall in downtown Ellijay. It was so intricately patterned with patina and aged layers of paint that it was almost too perfect (if there is such a thing), but we had fun frolicking around because we were on a pizza high. Or maybe it was the mountain air.

There are zero pictures of us as a family from the weekend because either me or Stevie were taking the pictures, and we didn't ask another person to take a group pic for us (what were we thinking?) But oh well. That's just real life, right? I look forward to the day when my little man is big enough to snap a photo for me. Oh the wonder that will be. But Ellijay, goodness, thank you for sharing your mountain top of peace with us - we could have stayed much much longer :) And thank you to Dirk and Dana for sharing your marvelous abode with us! We loved it!

I hope your Memorial Day weekend was wonderful, spent with your loves, remembering those who have served our country and celebrating the start to summer. It's going to be a good one, friends.

Playing at Callaway Gardens!

Last weekend we took a little field trip down to Callaway Gardens! This place is such a special one for us, especially Stevie, who grew up taking Spring Break trips there with his family. They used to spend the week biking and swimming and staying in little cabins in the woods. He has really vivid memories of the springtime azaleas and he wanted to take us there to experience them together as a little family of three. Callaway is known for their azaleas, and goodness, they did not disappoint. We spent the day biking, walking and snacking. We had lunch overlooking one of the lakes and Everett even stayed in his chair for the entire meal because he could stare at the ducks on the water. He really likes ducks these days. He makes a pretty spot-on quacking noise, and it was hilarious watching him try to interact with them. Never a dull moment in this family.

Everett was cracking me up, because he kept turning his baseball cap around on his head and wearing it like he knew it was cool to have it backwards. I don't know where he learned that. He even did this thing where he wouldn't push it all the way down on his head, so he kind of took turns looking like a basketball player and then looking like my Poppa (who used to wear his hats sitting just atop his head, so funny!) This kid is developing really fast, and I have to stay on top of things to keep up with his curious mind. He LOVED all the flowers, to which he would say,  "Fwooower pretty, mom. Pretty." So stinkin' cute.

I had trouble picking and choosing between which photos to share, because they are all so lush and colorful. So here are a zillion :)

Mother and Son Kisses at Callaway Garden in Spring.jpg

It was a gooooood day, although I admit that we were all exhausted when we finally made it home. Sometimes day trips are really nice so you don't have to pack up everything you own to stay overnight, but we tend to be the kind of people who try to make the absolute MOST out of a day trip like this, and we might have pushed it a little too hard. But we saw everything that Callaway Gardens had to offer, and came away with a fresh appreciation for springtime in our beautiful state. The birds and butterflies and flowers and fish - they really inspired me to work harder on my little home garden. I would love to create a mini-Callaway atmosphere in my backyard this summer. Thankfully, April 15 is right around the corner (which is the last possible day for frost in our area), which means we can start planting vegetables then! Woohoo!

P.S. - Other garden adventures - the time we sauntered around The New York Botanical Garden, the time I was mondo-preggo at The Boston Public Garden and the time we found a jig at the Munich English Garden.