March Rewind: Daytona, Charleston, and LOTS of Family Time

Hi friends! I’m glad everyone loved my February Rewind post. It’s a little easier for me to recap my month versus each weekend. Today, I’m sharing my March rewind. Last month I was bitten by the travel bug and found myself traveling to Florida AND Virginia.

I started the month by heading to Daytona, FL to visit my parents. Raleigh’s weather in February was grey and cold, so I was definitely craving some Florida sunshine. I got really excited and pulled out ALL of my spring/summer clothes. Unfortunately, Florida was under a bit of a cold snap. Temps were in the lower 60’s with a constant cold breeze. It wasn’t warm enough to bust out my shorts, but luckily I packed several extra outfits and layers.

When I arrived Friday afternoon, I was pretty tired from the 9-hour drive. But my mom was really excited about a surprise event she had planned. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University was hosting their annual Open House. Having previously worked in the aerospace industry, I was really excited to check it out! Embry Riddle had a lot of really neat activities for guests. Activities included 3D photos of Mars’ landscape, a night sky simulator where we can see 200+ years in the future (used to project meteor’s, comets, etc), a gravity well, telescope displays, and a scale model of the solar system. The best part of the night was getting to see a star cluster hundreds of lightyears away via the largest telescope in Florida. VERY cool! #spacenerd

Embry Riddle, 3D Photos, 3D glasses, Mars landscape
Me and mom checking out 3D photos of Mars
telescope, the moon, embry riddle
My mom looking at the Moon’s surface
Embry Riddle's Observatory, Embry Riddle, Observatory, telescope
Looking at a star cluster hundreds of lightyears away via the largest telescope in Florida at Embry Riddle’s Observatory

Over the next few days, I was able to relax and rejuvenate. My mom and I got to watch the Oscars and The Bachelor Finale. Mowgli got lots of attention, too! My parents allow him to swim in their pool so he gets a lot of exercise! Plus, what labrador doesn’t love the water? One day we went to Barkley Square, a 14-acre dog park with a HUGE pond. He was able to swim and socialize with other dogs. Lastly, we went to a dog-friendly section at Ponce Inlet. Again, more swimming and LOTS of attention!

Mowgli playing in my parent’s pool
Barkley Square, dog park with pond, black lab
Playing fetch at Barkley Square

And, of course, we ate great food!

Breakfast poolside
Chicken Pot Pie
Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
apple walnut salad
Apple, cranberry, and walnut salad
Shrimp Fried Rice
Homemade Shrimp Fried Rice

During my last day in Florida, my dad found out that his long-time friend, Joe a.k.a. “Red”, was in Daytona on vacation. Growing up, Red and my dad traveled to Florida each spring for Bike Week. Red was like a distant uncle to my brothers and I. He was really funny and would let us climb and pick on him when he visited. The last time I saw Red was at my high school graduation in 2005. So when I found out that he was in Daytona, I had to see him. It had been over 10 years and he hadn’t changed a bit (well, a little led red and a little more grey)! My parents, Red, and I had a great time catching up!

Red and I

On my way back from Daytona, I stopped in Charleston to visit my friends Ricky and Amanda. They moved from Virginia to Charleston in December and I was their first official house guest. It was my first time in Charleston so Ricky and Amanda gave me the official tour. We walked around Battery Park, saw Rainbow Row, visited Shem Creek Park, and drove down Meeting Street.

A few things I learned about Charleston:

  1. It’s a peninsula. I had no idea! It’s surrounded by the Ashley River and the Cooper River. Unless you’re coming from North Charleston, you have to cross a major bridge to get to the city.
  2. There are a lot of abandoned buildings. The downtown area of Charleston is pretty condensed, and the more famous landmarks are on the southern tip of the peninsula, so you have to drive through some low-income and abandoned areas. Luckily, the Charleston population is growing exponentially and the surrounding areas are getting renovated.
  3.  Rainbow Row is only 5 houses. And the homes aren’t as bright as the photos in magazines! Officially, there is a series of 13 houses that represent Rainbow Row, but only about 5 of them are brightly colored. Rainbow Row really represents the longest cluster of Georgian homes in the city. Now you know!
Battery Park, Charleston SC
Battery Park
East Bay Street, Charleston SC, Battery Park
Walking along East Bay Street
Rainbow Row, Charleston SC
Rainbow Row
Shem Creek Park Boardwalk
Shem Creek Park Boardwalk

Overall, I loved Charleston. The home and building architecture is beautiful and the history is fascinating. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time exploring!

Less than 2 weeks later, I pack my bags again and headed to Virginia. I decided to take the scenic route and take Interstate 81-N so I could stop at my alma mater, James Madison University, and visit my sister-in-law. Maddie is rounding out her freshman year at JMU and I can’t explain how awesome it is to see her blossom and grow, especially in a place that heavily influenced who I am today. Maddie and I have a special little bond and it has me grinning from ear to ear!

If you’re a JMU Alum, you can’t stop in Harrisonburg without visiting The Outpost — JMU’s unofficial bookstore. I was in dire need of a new sweatshirt (mine had holes in it), so Maddie and I did some shopping. We both got new sweatshirts and a few trinkets. Mission accomplished!

Before I left Harrisonburg, Maddie and I decided to grab dinner. Honestly, I was so wrapped up in nostalgia that I really wanted to eat on-campus but unfortunately, Maddie really wanted to get away from campus food so we headed to downtown Harrisonburg. We tried goes to Jack Brown’s (a staple my senior year), but it was too busy so we settled for Clementine Cafe (another favorite). It was great to catch up and spend some one-on-one time with my little sister!

Clementine Cafe, Harrisonburg VA, JMU
Maddie at Clementine Cafe

On Friday, I decided to surprise my niece, Kylie, with lunch at her school. When I walked into the cafeteria she was just opening her lunchbox and sitting down. When she saw me her jaw dropped. She said, “what are you doing here?!”. After the initial shock, we were able to sit in the auditorium and enjoy our lunch. Honestly, I’m glad we didn’t sit in the cafeteria. I haven’t been in an elementary school in nearly 2 decades and holy cow it reeked of cleaning chemicals. Yuck!

It was pretty cool that I got to spend some one-on-one time with my niece. She’s SO funny, smart, and kind. She’s a straight-A student, just got accepted into the Gifted and Talented program, she’s on two competitive cheerleading teams, and just started a new season of lacrosse. I’m a proud aunt!

Lunch with Kylie

After lunch with Kylie, I was able to hang out with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. My nephew, Blake, showed me how to play Fortnite — the latest and greatest video game that’s taking over the world. Now that he’s a teenager, I’m able to tease and pick on him a little more. Again, I’m pretty lucky to be able to spend one-on-one time with my niece and nephew and get to know them.

Later Friday night, I grabbed a quick dinner with a friend then met up with Bobby’s step-mom and sister to watch The Greatest Showman. Oh man! What a FANTASTIC movie! It’s entertaining and has a great message. I’d recommend going to see it in the theatre before it’s on DVD. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack ever since!

On Saturday, I spent the whole day with my friends Lauren and Nick, and their 2 daughters, Ella and Olivia. We started the day with an Easter Egg Hunt at Morven Park in Leesburg. It was unusually cold and we were underdressed so nobody was ecstatic about being outside. We participated in a few activities before the egg hunt including face painting, making bunny ears out of craft supplies, and real bunnies available to pet and hold.

Me and Ella
Ella and her friend holding a rabbit

My friend Lauren runs a small business where she makes custom shirts, bibs, banners, teething toys, and more! Check out how cute their shirts are! Visit Ella + Olivia on Facebook.

Chillin With My Peeps shirts
Oh…for Peeps Sake! onesie

After the egg hunt (and while both girls took a nap), we went to Petsmart to get a fish for Ella. She just celebrated her 3rd birthday in February and really wanted a fish, so Auntie Lauren just HAD to get her a fish. She was so excited when we got home with all the supplies!!

Ella setting up her new fish tank

It was really great to spend the day with Lauren, Nick, and the girls. It made me realize how much I missed them and wish we lived closer!

By Sunday, I was exhausted from running around the past 2 days. I decided to sleep in and stay in my PJs until mid-afternoon. Since I was staying at Bobby’s parent’s house, I was able to spend a few hours catching up with his dad and step-mom. Usually, when we visit, we arrive late Friday night and leave Sunday around lunchtime. Depending on the occasion, we don’t have much time to just catch up, so I was really grateful for the downtime.

I eventually made it out of the house later that afternoon to visit my brother and his girlfriend, as well as my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I’m borrowing a sewing machine from my cousin, so stay tuned on my new sewing projects!

On Monday, I had plans to grab lunch with 2 of my former colleagues at Audi, Ti and Mark. Both Ti and Mark were extremely influential during one of the most vulnerable times in my life — my wedding and the big move to North Carolina. They gave me some sound advice that helped me get through those periods. I really value their friendship and it was great to see them!

While I was in VA, Bobby’s younger brother, Kyle, spent the weekend in North Carolina with Bobby. It sounds like they had a fun brothers’ weekend. They had a movie marathon (Aliens series), played disc golf, and toured downtown Raleigh. I made it back to NC just in time for Kyle’s last dinner at Bobby’s aunt and uncle’s house. It was great to spend time with family and get a little bit of time with Kyle before he headed back to Virginia.

Me, Bobby, Uncle Walt, Aunt Debbie, and Kyle

 

WHEW!! March was a busy month for me! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to write as much as I wanted. I’m trying to catch up and double down on April posts, so make sure you subscribe to my updates!

In case you missed it, here are all of my blog posts from March:

February 2018 Ipsy Review

February Rewind

National Day of Unplugging

February 2018 StitchFix Review

Grove Collaborative Review

Things I’m Loving: March 2018

I hope everyone had a great March! Cheers to a new month and (hopefully) warmer weather!

Lauren

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