Thursday, September 03, 2015

Getting Away from Ourselves - a different kind of getaway. What weight means to you?

I have been hemming and hawing about writing about this particular subject.  Most of my posts are about fun getaways whether it be with girlfriends, family, co-workers, church friends etc.  I have written lots about welcome bags, games, great locations, fun activities, drink stations and so much more.  This post takes a more personal tone - but I thought so many of the things I write about are to LIFT us.  LIFT us by being with other women or our family.  LIFT us by doing for others.  LIFT us by giving to others.  LIFT us by stepping outside ourselves and trying something completely outside our comfort zone.  Yet often we get weighted down by the very selves we are trying to LIFT.

Raising three girls (& one son) and being one of three girls myself, I am well aware how what we look like, what we weigh and how others see us plays a tremendous role in how we feel about ourselves.  Recently, my daughters and I had the "it's just a number" conversation.  Since that day I have felt drawn to share some of my thoughts on that number.

Let me start by saying - I am an up and down weight person.  Four kids, a couple of surgeries and general apathy will do that to you.

In our home we have a few rules to help take the weight off weight -

  • NO SCALE - there is no scale in our home!!!  I never want my girls to be chained to a scale as so many women can be.  Our weight fluctuates.  It is meant to.  
  • THE "F" WORD is BANNED in our House - not the "f" word you are thinking of.  F-A-T.  We try very hard not to even say that word.  It is a very negative word unless used in the P-H-A-T sense.
  • ANOTHER BANNED WORD in our HOUSE is DIET! - we can say eating healthy, getting active or other terms of that sort but DIET is not allowed.  It indicates that you are not perfect and beautiful just the way you are.
In the long run I want what everyone wants for their daughters.  For them to be healthy and feel good about themselves.  My teenagers and I workout together at a gym which we all love!  It is fun for us to get fit together.  I had never had them step on the scale at said gym before this one day.  After a summer of all feeling pretty great about ourselves.  We were stronger than we were the summer before.  We were healthier than the summer before.  We didn't even dislike bathing suit shopping as much as we did the summer before. Towards the end of the summer one of the girls had a doctor's appointment, and was asked to step on the dreadful scale.  She left in tears because "the number" was higher than what she would have wanted.  Mind you I just said we were all feeling pretty good about ourselves and how our bodies looked and felt.  Until that number glared in her face.  I spoke with her about muscle weighing more than fat, etc. but not much of what I said was helping.  She was trapped in her own head with those negative thoughts (that SO quickly replaced the positive ones that had just been there moments before).  I reminded her that she herself said that she felt awesome about how she looked at the beach this summer.  I even told her that God only makes beautiful things.  It didn't matter what I said - she was going to let "that number" take her down.

That afternoon at the gym I asked if she wanted the opportunity to step on the their high tech scale thinking maybe "the number" was off?  So with our favorite instructor we quickly found out that the other scale was correct.  The discussion that took place in that little office I hope stays with my girls for a lifetime.  We did talk about muscle weighing more than fat.  We did talk about how two people could be the exact same weight but look completely different.  We did talk about reading our bodies and what they are telling us.  We spoke about how our clothes fit.  AND we spoke about not letting that CRAPPY "little number" take us down.  Why does that number mean so much to so many?  Why is it a number to begin with?  It could have been a letter, I guess?  Oh I am J today but I was M yesterday.  Would that make us love ourselves more?

When it all comes down to it don't we want for our girls and ourselves what God wants for us?  To LOVE ourselves as much as He does!  To live a HEALTHY LONG life!  Doing the things that make us happy!  Being healthy enough to partake in all the awesome activities that His beautiful world provides us? - Swimming in the massive oceans, climbing gorgeous mountains, walking through forests, bicycling beautiful paths, kayaking or canoeing marshes and streams, zipping through treetops, tubing or rafting down a river, sleigh riding or skiing snowy hills, jumping into cool lakes, running through flower fields, hike unexplored trails and dancing the night away  - you get the point.  He has given us an AMAZING world in which to play and explore.

He only makes BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT things!  We are one of them NO MATTER what that "number" is!  If we try hard to remember that then maybe just maybe we can getaway from ourselves and our negative thoughts.  And LIFT ourselves each and everyday to be the perfect healthy beautiful women God made us to be.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mice on Main - Greenville Family Getaway Scavenger Hunt

On our end of summer family getaway to glorious Greenville, SC, we did a truly FUN and slightly challenging family activity.  As you know, before I head out on any getaway I usually research a bit before departure.  Well, our little Greenville Getaway was no different.  I love when I can find an activity that involves all of us, especially since we have a big age range of kids 10 years from oldest to youngest.  I also love when the activity I find wraps itself so neatly around shopping, strolling, eating and drinking.  I ran across a fun website's post about this cute little scavenger hunt that you can do as you travel up and down Main Street in Greenville, SC.

Straight over to my neighborhood bookstore - Amazon I went to purchase Mice on Main so that we could have a copy in time for our trip.  We read it in the car on the way to Greenville.

The whole story behind the Mice on Main book, statues and scavenger hunt goes something like this -
Once upon a time, there was a student named Jim Ryan.  He came up with a cool idea to place a family of nine mice up and down Main Street as his senior project.  The idea came about because as a small boy his mom would read Goodnight Moon to him every night.  Apparently, there are nine mice in that story - who knew?  Jim not only raised the money for his project but also contacted city officials to get their stamp of approval on the little cheese eating family.  He then found a very talented sculptor by the name of Zan Wells who would create the tiny adorable little friends to be permanently installed along Greenville's Main Street.
Several years later while a grandma and her granddaughter were out hunting for the mice that grandchild asked if there was a story to go along with the mice. AND Poof - Mice on Main was written by that very grandma - Linda Kelly.  Giving back to Greenville - since the mice are all about Greenville, proceeds from sales of the book, games and t-shirts go to a local Greenville charity.

Since us Byrds like to make things challenging (not always on purpose) we did our hunt SDRAWKCAB (backwards spelled backwards get it)!  Starting with mouse number 9, Uncle Miles and working our way up the street to the number one mouse, the daddy mouse Marvin (we only did it backwards because our hotel Courtyard by Marriott was down at that end of the hunt).  We used the book and we used the hints found on the Mice on Main website.  To be truly honest for one really tricky little mouse we used some images found on Google Images to help us.  It was a super fun game as we criss-crossed our way up the busy little shopping district.  Popping into shops to browse along the route and grabbing a snack or drink when hungry or thirsty.  Mouse Hunting makes you both those things!

I am happy to report we found all the mice (even one extra?)!  Lots of giggles and proud smiles went along with our little hunt looking for these sweet little rodents...

Here is the Bonus mouse we found?  And the real difficult one I did not include her picture didn't want to ruin the challenge for you.

Extra clues we found on the Visit Greenville SC map.

To read about our Family Great Getaway to Greenville - click here

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Greenville, SC - Great Family Getaway!

Summer is coming to an end QUICKLY.  This week starts the school preparation events, beginning with Freshman Orientation for my 14 yr old heading to High School.  How did I become the mom of not one BUT TWO high-schoolers!  AHHHHH!!!  One of my favorite family traditions is our last family getaway of the summer.  We usually can squeak in one last little local getaway before school starts.  This time it was to the fabulous and close city of Greenville, South Carolina!

We hit the road Friday early afternoon to get ahead of the weekend traffic and in only two hours from Atlanta we arrived at our hotel (or in kids language it only took one movie to get there).  We stayed right downtown (which I HIGHLY recommend!).  We love a getaway that we can park the car and leave it parked until we head home.  This was certainly one of those types of trips.  I chose the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Greenville for it's proximity to Falls Park on the Reedy, the price and their willingness to kind of promise us (wink wink) two adjoining rooms.  Traveling with six of us - two rooms is a necessity and with the youngest being only five adjoining rooms are also kind of a necessity.  Check in was super smooth! Chris and the kids parked and unpacked the car while I got us checked in. -valet is $20 a day and self park $10-  Headed up to our rooms on the 6th floor.  Put our stuff away, hit the potties, grabbed some bottles of water along with our baseball tickets and headed out to Fluor Field located in Greenville's newly re-invented West End.

We took the scenic route to walk over as many fun bridges as we could over the Reedy River.  Also a quick visit to the Liberty Bridge over the falls.  The stadium was under a mile from the hotel and an easy enjoyable walk.  Fluor Field is a mini replica of Fenway Park complete with the Green Monster!  Greenville Drive is a feeder team for the Boston Red Sox.  We got there just before six - gates open one hour before the game time. With a little time to spare we visited the Team Store.  Got ourselves a BIG FOAM finger for Avalynn and a Greenville Drive t-shirt for Grayson.  
 Just beyond the gates they had one of the players giving autographs so Grayson got him to sign his new shirt!  Lots of yummy food options including BBQ and Chic-fil-a, both standards of the south.  They even had a family meal deal - 4 hot dogs, 4 drinks and a large popcorn for like $16 pretty reasonable?  They had a great beer selection.  There is the mascot Reedy Rip'It the frog wandering around entertaining the crowds AND there is "The Baseball Guy".  They have a playground and grassy knoll seats.  Our second row, first base line tickets were a whopping $8 each!  Our night began with the Big League World Series teams parading around the field.  The Series was being played just a few towns over that same weekend.  So exciting to see so many excited young players from all over the world. It was also DISNEY NIGHT at the field which was so perfect because that is our next family trip - Disney in the fall!  With Disney trivia on the big screen and Disney tunes every time the opposing team was up at bat, Avalynn was extremely intrigued by baseball.  It was funny to hear A Whole New World playing as a burly baseball player is up at bat.
A few highlights for us-
  • Grayson getting his picture taken with Yoan Moncada - Moncada is a player to watch, at only 20 yrs old he was recently signed by the Red Sox for $31.5 MILLION 
    Grayson and Yoan Moncada -- two up & coming baseball stars in my book
  • Singing "Sweet Caroline" with the crowd apparently the song has been played at Fenway since at least 1997 and at the middle of the eighth inning at every game since 2002

      THUMBS UP! - The Girls and The Baseball Guy

    • The girls getting their photo taken with "The Baseball Guy"
    • $4 Blue Moon Specials - it was a Blue Moon in the sky this past weekend
    • Sitting so close to the field that we had to watch out for balls flying at us
    • Grayson catching a foul ball
    • Disney tunes and trivia
    • Finally FIREWORKS! 

    Stroll back to the hotel was sweet and simple for all especially Avalynn who traveled on Chris' back the whole way.  It was one of those summer nights where the temperature finally dropped and you are just so content you can't help but smile.  You almost feel like you are floating you are so happy.  You know the end of a day where you just look at your family and you can feel how much you love them and how much they love you!  After getting back to the Courtyard Marriott we took quick showers and hit the sack in anticipation of another great day in Greenville tomorrow....
    Our first FUN thing Saturday morning was our reservations for brunch at La Passerelle at 10am.  Planned this on purpose at that time so that we could leisurely wake up and take our time getting ready.  This lovely french bistro is right next to the entrance to the Liberty Bridge.  Which meant our table was right next to the falls!  Eating delectable french food paired with mimosas while listening to the rushing water of the falls was magical.  What did we talk about at breakfast?  We planned our next trip of course!  We had to make some family decisions on what FastPasses we were going to book for our trip to Disney in October.  Since nowadays you need to book your Fastpasses 60 days out from your trip, we needed to get it done.  It was fun to vote and make choices together.  Makes us really feel like a team.

    After brunch we headed up Main Street to stroll the Saturday Market farmer's market which runs every Saturday morning from 8:30am-12:30pm from May through October.  The market was impressive.  A great variety of vendors were represented.  Many food offerings and live music!  

    After the Saturday Market we stumbled upon an incredible building right next to the Westin.  That appeared to be a bookstore now.  I said "hey let's check it out" and boy are we glad we did!  It was one of the most unique bookstores I have been to.  Not overwhelmingly huge or anything but very indigenous to the area.  M. Judson Booksellers and Storytellers just opened that Monday.  The staff was extremely friendly.  I was given a tour of the sections in the store which was super airy and bright.  The counters were all made of stacked books - nice touch!  They have a cute Children's section mostly hard cover picture books and board books.  I would have liked to have seen a few soft cover choices just a little easier on the wallet.  There is a LARGE food book section - cooking books and books about food and cooking.  I loved the southern section - an entire area with all books all southern y'all.  We purchased a chocolate chip cookie, an iced tea from the little cafe'and a couple books of course.  Hoping this little gem thrives and prospers right there in the heart of Greenville.

    Throughout our day we completed an extra FUN activity which deserves a post all of it's own.  We did the Mice on Main Scavenger Hunt as a family.  Working together to read clues and find mice that are hidden up and down Main Street.  If traveling with kids it's A MOUSY MUST!
    Mice on Main Scavenger Hunt Post
    Back to the hotel for regrouping - you know potty, drop off purchases, freshen up the deodorant (it is the south in August) and grab a few more bottle of water.  (be sure to throw a case of H2O in your car before heading to Greenville especially if it's summer)  We stocked both our mini-fridges with water, apple slices and a few cans of Corona in ours!  Avalynn was so excited when she opened the kid's room fridge and yelled "mom, they have FREE apples!".  I also threw a little snack bag for the two rooms together - pop tarts, mini muffins, small cereals for anyone that woke early and couldn't wait til brunch.  Along with chips, cookies, etc.  Another item we grabbed was our towel bag because we were on our way to get wet!

    Over to the falls to stumble around on the rocks - mind you signs are posted that you are not supposed to do this but everybody does.  The kids had bathing suits under their clothes so that if they got wet it wasn't a huge ordeal.  Chris and I mostly sat on the rocks watching and holding our breathe as they carefully climbed their way around the slippery rocks.  I snapped a ton of pictures.  We did see a slithery friend with our first step in the water.  So keep in mind it is nature and nature does live there.  Packed up after our tons of pics and me saying "Chris tell them to get down!" 100 times.  Our next stop was a cute train themed splash pad right on the river in front of the Hampton Inn.  The Downtown City Plaza Water Jets were a great way to cool off.  Here the kids could really get wet!

    The convenience of the location of our hotel was incredible.  Stopped quickly to shed the kid's wet suits and get into dry undies.  Off again - happy and cool!  A few more cold waters and there were more mice to find and more shops to shop and more snack to snack.  What a marvelously free feeling to leave the hotel for the afternoon and not have one thing on our schedule.  Found all our mice - after working together I mean really working together.  A few were tricky especially because we did the hunt backwards.  Ice Cream Cones were the perfect reward for our BIG WIN!  Marble Slab Creamery has amazing dipped waffle cones and ALL their mix-ins are unlimited and FREE!

    A few short shopping stops, some of which were -
    The Vault - great little shop with throwback sports apparel with old-school team logos
    Mast General - Since 1883 this is not just a store it is a destination.  Everything from outdoor apparel, t-shirts to cute kids toys and of course penny candy!
    O.P. Taylor's Toy Store - "The Coolest toy store on the planet!"

    Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley... We took advantage of the FREE Trolley Greenville offers in and around the Downtown area.  It was a nice break from walking.

    Got off right near The Trappe Door.  This basement pub offers a huge belgium beer selection and tasty treats. We wanted some cold air and a cold brew.  We ordered several orders of frites (french fries) with each order we got to choose THREE mayos from their mayo menu - YES, I said Mayo Menu!  Got a charcuterie board, duck spring rolls (mmmm) and cheese croquettes to share.  The kids chugged more water - important to stay hydrant in the summer heat.  We played Family Feud Strike Out Card Game.  We laughed a bunch at a few of the questions - the teenagers thought the question "What on the Incredible Hulk is LARGE?" was hysterical.  I think we ended the game in a tie.  Walked back to the hotel to decide if our late afternoon snack was enough or was it time to search out a real dinner.  We voted real dinner it was.


    Back down to the West End - found yet another bookstore although this one I imagine has been around for a while.  Joe's Place has it all - wine, gourmet coffee, art and books, loads of books both new and used (including a nice selection of vintage books).  Got myself a copy of Catherine the Great from 1926.  It has an unusual color splattered cover and it has an inscription in it (I love stuff like this) -
    J. Adams Brown Brick House Farm Pleasant Valley L.N.F. 1927 

    For dinner we wound up at Mac's Speed Shop.  Tasty food and a fun relaxed atmosphere.  Loved our waitress!  So beat by this point.  It was a LONG day of fun and food!  Thank God we did all that walking.  Chris had a new app on his phone that showed we did 10,000 steps just from noon on!

    After a good night's sleep we packed up, checked out and had brunch at the hotel.  Before heading to check out a few colleges in the area.  Remember I began this post with we now have two in high school.  We made two brief stops on the ride home one at Furman University and one at Clemson, both beautiful campuses.  Honestly can't believe we are at this point already.  Last year the girls high school principal said, "the days are long but the years are short" during a parent night.  I started to cry right there in the auditorium.  It is statements like these and the speed of time that makes weekends like these all the more important!

    A few more fun pics from our GREAT GREENVILLE GETAWAY!