On Fall Break in NOLA

The end of September/beginning of October my kids had a week off for Fall Break and we took off for New Orleans on a spur-of-the-moment, long weekend trip!

The cotton was being harvested on the roads from Arkansas to Louisiana.  I always love seeing the cotton come in.  So beautiful.

We stayed at a Hyatt Place hotel, close to the Convention Center downtown in the warehouse district.  It was close enough to everything that we didn’t get our car out of the parking deck until we left.   

New Orleans is so friendly and fun.  So many interesting people and gorgeous weather in the fall.  I absolutely adore it.  

Fun things we did:

  • Ate beignets in Jackson Square at Cafe du Monde 
  • Visited the Audubon Aquarium (Fun if you haven’t been, but we visited the aquarium in Atlanta this past year and this one paled in comparison, probably pass next time.)
  • Walked in the French Quarter *
  • Ate at Mother’s (This is our favorite restaurant in New Orleans! You have to be prepared to order when you get to the front of the line though!)
  • Listened to live jazz on the street *
  • Ran in Jackson Square *
  • Visited the St. Louis Cathedral *
  • Toured the French Quarter on a Carriage Tour
  • Visited the World War 2 museum (we could have spent two days there- amazing)
  • Walked through the Farmer’s Market *
  • Toured the Old U.S. Mint (*Neat museum of money, history, and musical history. We also happened on a swing dance/band festival! All the real NOLA jazz is in that area of the city now, the FQ is mainly a tourist attraction.  Lots of great places to eat or listen if you park close to the Mint at the end of the Market.)
  • Toured the old cemeteries *(we didn’t do an official tour, just parked down by Cemetery #2

*All the starred things are FREE!!!
Trip wasn’t too expensive, except for food.  If you get out of the tourist areas you’ll get better deals.  For attractions look for coupons/deals online before you go.  There were some really cool places to eat and hang out down in the warehouse district that I’d like to try next time.  With a baby that was tired by the time we stopped to eat we didn’t try any of the fancier places.

On the way home we drove down to the ocean and stopped at a beach in Pass Christian, Mississippi.  Beautiful little town and they happened to have a church shrimp festival going on that was fun to walk around.  The kids had a great time playing in the sand at the beach before the long trip home.

College Dreams & Other Things (or Summer Road Trip 2014- Part 1)

This summer we wanted to take a road trip that consisted of touring colleges that my daughter is considering next year, with some fun thrown in.
The plan was to make a giant loop and hit every school from here (central Arkansas) to DC and back with good dance programs- BUT of course with only one week to do it, we ended up with a MUCH smaller loop… (only 1300 miles… so glad we opted for the small trip!)
Day 1:
We made it to Memphis by lunchtime and stopped by the Memphis Zoo.
Goofing off with the Panda bears at the zoo


Boys +5 years at the zoo
Next we headed a few blocks over for a quick tour of the beautiful
Rhodes College in Memphis, TN
“Rhodes looks like Hogwarts!”


We pushed on and got to Nashville for the night.  (I’d made reservations as we drove in the car on hotels.com.  We stayed across the street from Vanderbilt.
Vandy @ night
Day 2:
We’d made arrangements to tour Vanderbilt after lunch, so we visited the Parthenon in nearby Centennial Park.  My kids are huge Rick Riordan fans (author of the Percy Jackson series) and we like to make “Percy Jackson” stops when we travel.  In Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,  Percy and the gang stop by the Parthenon to obtain a magical pearl.  The museum inside the Parthenon even has some notes from the movie and props, which the boys loved.
Parthenon Fun

After a quick lunch at a quaint old diner (place was cuter than the food was) then headed to Vanderbilt for the tour.

Elliston’s Diner
What a gorgeous campus.  No wonder it’s so expensive!  
The tour was fantastic in itself.


This is a DORM @ Vanderbilt


After the tour we hit the road.  Emily’s Butler tour was Thursday morning and we had to make it to Indianapolis!

On Sugar and Spice and Spring Break Sweetness

Our Spring Break-
Well, when I went into the doc on the 24th they said my amniotic fluid was a “2” which is dangerously low.  I had read up on this and really wasn’t too keen on being induced, but everyone said I should go ahead…
so we left the doctor, went home to pack a hospital bag, and went to the hospital.
(When you’re planning a home birth this trip to the hospital is not a happy one.)
They started the Pitocin drip Monday (did a very slow increase and I had almost NO pain without pain meds) and on Wednesday my sweet Aimee was born.   She was “face up” so the actual process was longer than I’d experienced before.

Aimee’s Birthday

I must admit, hospitals (and nurses) have come a LONG way since I had my last baby in a hospital.  Back then, none of the nurses had even witnessed a non-medicated birth, and this time two of my nurses had been midwife or doula trained.  I was allowed to labor wherever and however I wanted (jacuzzi, birthing stools and balls etc.) and my midwife was there to act as my doula.   No one asked me if I needed pain meds which was nice.

When my water broke on Tuesday I was not too happy.  I’d been on Pitocin 24 hrs already and then to see that I did have quite a bit of AF, made me a little angry.  I didn’t want to force my baby to come two weeks early, and then to see that it probably hadn’t been necessary….
To my doctor’s defense, the ultrasound is a horrible method for measuring fluid.  The midwife’s hands probably are your best indicator of everything being okay, and now (too late) I know that.   Make sure you get a second opinion! 
The good news is that my sweet girl is perfectly fine, healthy and happy!  She was 7 lbs 10 oz, so not too small for being two weeks early.

One week old

Now, if I can remember to sleep when baby sleeps (I’m sooo tired!)
My oldest girl did get her drivers’ license (finally) during Spring Break, so maybe my chauffeur days will get easier.
The other kids are so in love with their tiny sister!

On Shopping Small (LOCAL!)

I despise shopping for the most part, but these sweet spots in central Arkansas make it much easier to shop local.
Here are my favorites for this year:

Photo from the Box Turtle website

This is the coolest store on Kavanaugh with a mix of local artist’s work as well as fun things they’ve found in market.  Great clothes, gifts, cards, cool jewelery, and more!  Great t-shirts by my friend Erin of shop E.L.L.  can be bought here! (hint-hint)

Photo from Shop E.L.L.’s etsy page

We’ve lost pretty much all of our local toy stores in Little Rock except for this store.  It’s a great little toy store in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center.  Very helpful employees will wrap your gifts or make a gift registry for you.  My boys love that there are so many toys on display that you can test out before you buy!

Arkansas’ first legal distillery since prohibition is new (opened in 2010) but has already won national and worldwide acclaim with it’s delightful spirits.  Almost every aspect and ingredient is made in Arkansas, from barrels to grains. (I’ll be posting more about them soon!)
Some great picks:
The super cool American Whiskey Aging Kit comes complete with a tiny barrel (handmade in Arkansas) to age your whiskey to your taste.

The Moonshine Sampler Pack is a fun gift with Grape, Peach, Blackberry Cobbler and Apple Pie versions of Arkansas Lightning.  (My hubby loved the Apple Pie on the rocks!)

You can buy at better liquor stores in Arkansas or at the RockTown Distillery itself, which is located close to Heifer Project headquarters downtown.  (Fun tour if you have the time!)

 Run by the Friends of the Central Arkansas Library system (and in the
Rivermarket district) this store not only sells gently used library and
donated books, but also some quite unique gifts for readers and
thinkers.  Also some fantastic art galleries (with some art for sale.)  Get a
cup of coffee at the counter inside and browse!

  • Arkansas Institute Studies Art Gallery

    Another gem in the Rivermarket district- you might not have realized
    that this is a free art gallery with most of the work being for sale (by
    Arkansas artists!)  Jewelry,  hand turned woodwork,  books,
    hand knitted scarves, pottery- they’ve got it!

    Historic Arkansas Museum Gift Shop

    Looking for handmade gifts from Arkansas or unique historical toys and gifts?  This is
    the place!   You don’t have to pay admission to the museum to go inside
    the store, but you might want to!

    Clinton Museum Store

    No matter what your political affiliation, the Clinton museum store has
    something for you!  Books, handmade jewelery, recycled presents,
    and more.  Not actually inside the museum, but in the Rivermarket
    district.  (More great museum gift shops in the area include- Museum of
    Discovery, MacArthur Military Musuem gift shop, Old Statehouse Museum
    gift shop, and the Arkansas Arts Center gift shop.)

 The Heifer project is not only a cool place to visit, but houses a
wonderful gift shop.  They have lovely gifts and neat things from around the world.  While
you are there tour the center and think about getting a gift that keeps
on giving- animal donations for people in need around the world.  Great
organization.  Our family registers online now and gives animals
instead of gifts to ourselves.

Another sweet friend opened this store a couple of years ago on Kavanugh and it’s become “the place” for fashionistas.  I love how they group clothing by colors and ideas so even the fashion challenged like me can look good!  It’s also not expensive (which as a mom of a teenage daughter I LOVE!)  This week they are offering 40% off STOREWIDE at several of their stores so make sure to stock up on gifts!  (Did I mention she has a Little Rock, Conway, and Fayetteville store now?)

Once on Kavanaugh, this amazing antique store is now located on South Main Street in the SOMA district of Little Rock.   I love browsing (and buying) in this chic, but affordable store!  My son has a great antique school map on his wall that we bought there for $20!  While you’re there make sure to check out…

Also in SOMA, this quaint little store has great local gifts, all eco-friendly!  Also the home of Loblolly Creamery (get some and tour the Bernice Gardens nearby!)

Support your local businesses!  Where are some of your favorite places to shop locally?

Just Peachy!

Last week we drove to Clarksville to pick a little bit of heaven 
(with a bonus visit with my wonderful Grandpa, aunt, and cousins!)
Some of our helpers.
 The peaches are fantastic this year, so worth the drive.
There are so many and they are so abundant and sweet!

Red Havens and White Nectar (or Winblo?) Peaches
 Of course all the kitchen counters covered with peaches means 
I had to get busy putting them away…
(Peaches turn quickly if you’re not careful!)
So I made peach pie,

 Two batches of peach jam…
First batch of Peach Spiced Jam
 Some canned peaches…
Canned Peaches

My mess
And also a beautiful fruit salad 
and several quart bags of frozen sliced peaches to use later!  
It wouldn’t be bad if I wasn’t allergic to fruit…
It’s really hard to not eat some!
Also,  Johnson County has a beautiful new outdoor recreational area
so we checked it out.  There water park is only $6 and nicer than anything we
have in the Central AR area.  The kids had a blast.  They are working on an indoor
pool that looks like it will rival anything here!  I’m a bit jealous!