Arkansas State Parks Tour

Sunset on DeGray Lake with text "Arkansas State Parks Tour: Adventure Awaits in the Natural State"

A tour of all the state parks in Arkansas is something I have been brainstorming about and getting pumped about over the last  few months, but I haven’t taken the time to get it all down until now! The physical Arkansas State Parks Tour is already underway, however. I have my {hiking} boots on the ground scouting out some of these overlooked (by me, at least) gems, and I’m thrilled to share them with you!

What does a tour of the Arkansas State Parks entail?

I’m glad you asked. I plan to visit each of the 52 State Parks of Arkansas and report back here about their history, their scenic gems, their must-see spots, and also answer your most burning questions, things like: “Can you camp there?” “Are there hiking trails and which ones are most recommended.” “Can you get a penny stamped (quite possibly the number one question on the list for my kid)?” “What are the educational facilities like?” I will be addressing more than this, but if you have a question you think I should add to the list, let me know!

Why a tour of the Arkansas State Parks?

As a family that loves exploring the outdoors, we have great fondness and appreciation for our National Parks System, but we also know that we have access to so many great parks right here in The Natural State!

Plus, we have a tendency to return back to the same parks over and over again even though we miss out on visiting all the other gems within the Arkansas State Parks system.

Lastly, we want to show them off to you and hopefully encourage all of you to come and visit them as well.

When will this tour kick off?

I’ve already begun visiting some of the Arkansas State Parks that until now were not even on my radar, and of course I will be highlighting some of our favorites that we can’t get enough of…so, you can look for the first stop on our tour to be posted next week!

Book Review {Little Walks, Big Adventures by Erin Buhr}

I recently was gifted a copy of the book “Little Walks, Big Adventures: 50+ Ideas for Exploring with Toddlers” by Erin Buhr. As you can imagine, I was really excited to receive this book from the publisher. I don’t know about you, but I find myself going to the same places and doing the same things with my 4.5-year-old over and over again. The activities Buhr presents in the book are helpful in getting out of that rut!

Little Walks, Big Adventure book by Erin Buhr

Who is the “Little Walks, Big Adventures” for?

I recommend “Little Walks, Big Adventures” for anyone who interacts with toddlers, from parents to teachers. Even though the book is geared towards toddlers 15-36 months, I can see myself adding most of these activities into what I’m already doing with Coen. Reading through the book, I found myself repeatedly saying, “Oh, I want to try this activity.”

If you want to instill a sense of wonder about our world while fostering cognitive and motor skills in your day-to-day with your toddler(s), “Little Walks, Big Adventures” is an absolutely wonderful resource for you!

What is the book about?

“Little Walks, Big Adventures” gives the reader a well-rounded introduction to getting outside of the home and/or school environment in order to learn and discover. In addition to encouraging exploring the world with your toddler(s), the book also provides ample learning opportunities.

Hiking at the Devil's Den Self-Guided Trail for our 11th anniversary

Applying the activities

I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of what we already do included in the book. One of those is a walk at the art museum. We visit Crystal Bridges quite frequently, so I’m excited to try out some of the activities suggested in the book. I believe they will help deepen Coen’s experience and interaction with the art.

Crystal Bridges is a great place for a hike or an art walk!

The activities are all presented with thoughtful care. Each begins with details on what to bring along, what to take into consideration, and what to notice before or during the activity or walk. This section helps you prepare for situations you may not have already considered.

While most of the walks take you into the outdoors or your community, many activities can be adapted for using indoors if necessary.

Minimal materials, BIG impact

The activities in this book are simple yet impactful. They require few materials, most of which are things you will find around the house or on the walk itself. The activities themselves are extremely flexible and adaptable. “Little Walks, Big Adventures” is a great resource for finding themed activities even if you don’t incorporate a walk. The walks and activities are set up to be independent of each other–you don’t have to do one for the other to have an impact.

Be sure to check out Erin’s blog, Bambini Travel for more great ideas and to buy the book!

Chihuly at Crystal Bridges


Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13Last week I had the opportunity to visit the new Chihuly exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art. While I try to view as many of the temporary exhibitions as possible, this was my first time attending a media preview for an exhibit.

As embarrassing as it is to admit, before this exhibition I had only had heard of Chihuly and his art on Frasier (yes, the television series). However, even I knew that this was a very special kind of artwork on display. It is unlike anything else that has been brought to the museum before. Looking back through my photos I can’t help but get chills again.

Chihuly in the Gallery

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

If you’ve ever wished you could go to New York and view the innovative window displays at Christmastime, you can get a spectacular taste right here in Arkansas. The multimedia display entitled “Winter Brilliance” was originally created for a Barneys New York holiday window. “It combines clear glass chandelier forms with a Christie’s 360 digitally-mapped lighting display and the musical composition by Hannis Brown, to produce an evocative, ice-like brilliance,” according to the press release for the exhibition. I simply cannot describe just how incredible this installation is–you must see and experience it for yourself!

Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

The gallery exhibition also includes many works that have never been displayed in a museum setting before. One piece of note is a weaving with fused glass that Dale Chihuly created in 1965 as an interior design student at the University of Washington in Seattle.

 Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2

The brand new Glass on Glass series is also on display in a museum setting for the first time. These vibrant pieces are two- and three-dimensional works of sculpture and painting.

 Chihuly in the Gallery at Crystal Bridges May 27 to June 2
The artist Dale Chihuly with the Azure Icicle Chandelier

“Crystal Bridges is the only venue for this particular exhibition and many of the works are presented in a new way or for the first time. The works are inspired by th surrounding nature and unique architectural elements at the museum,” said Britt Cornett, Head of Exhibitions, Chihuly Studio.

Chihuly in the Forest

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

The “firsts” don’t stop there either. “This is the first indoor-outdoor exhibition for Crystal Bridges and the first time Chihuly’s works are on view in a natural forest setting,” said Lauren Haynes, Crystal Bridges’ Curator, Contemporary Art.

Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

I particularly enjoyed the outdoor installations along the reopened North Forest Trail. It makes sense for this nature-inspired art to be on display in a natural, outdoor setting. The natural light and forest surroundings give life to these works in a way that no other setting could.

“I’m always inspired to exhibit my work in various types of environments, from museums and gardens around the world, to unique indoor settings. I’m always looking to push the boundaries of the medium of glass in terms of color, form, scale, and light, all of which are essential elements of my work.” -Dale Chihuly


Chihuly in the Forest at Crystal Bridges August 16-November 13

The temporary Chihuly: In the Gallery and in the Forest exhibition is on view June 3 through August 14. Admission is $20 for adults and includes the indoor and outdoor venue. Once the gallery portion closes, the cost drops to $10 for Chihuly in the Forest, which is on view August 16-November 13. No cost for museum members and youth ages 18 and under. 


Easy No Poo Method How To

No, I’m not talking about your bathroom habits. I promise. Believe me, keeping up with my 3-year-old’s bathroom habits is more than enough “poo” for me. No, the no poo method I’m talking about is the practice of washing your hair without using shampoo. There are as many methods of no poo as there are people who choose to forgo shampoo. I’m just going to talk about what I know, the methods that I have tried, and how they did or didn’t work for me.

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!


I first tried this practice years ago when I started trying to learn how to work with my naturally curly hair instead of against it. I spent decades blow-drying, flat-ironing, and willing my hair straight. It always rebelled against me–frizz at any hint of moisture, poof that just wouldn’t be tamed, and curls with a mind of their own. I’m sure there are some other curly girls nodding their heads right now.

I wasn’t ready to go totally no poo so I tried co-washing, using conditioner to wash your hair instead of shampoo. I have very dry, coarse hair so I thought that this would work beautifully for me. The problem is that I also have an oily scalp. Yes, I’m so very blessed as to have combination skin and combination hair (it’s a thing, I may have just made it up, but it’s a thing). One of the points of the no poo method is that eventually you are able to go without washing your hair for longer periods. If you have hair like mine, washing it every day is the best way to kill it. So, when I was using conditioner to wash my hair, it was getting oilier quicker and I was actually having to wash it more often. I tried using shampoo every few washes to balance things back out, but eventually I just went back to using shampoo.

The baking soda/apple cider vinegar method

I started thinking about the no poo method again several months ago when I couldn’t seem to find a shampoo that worked with my hair anymore. Instead of spending a lot of money trying a bunch of different options, I decided to use what was already in my house and give true no poo a try.

There are websites and books dedicated to this topic if you want an in-depth explanation, but the no poo method is basically this–you wash your hair with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar. You can make up batches of it for multiple uses, but I just made up what I was going to use before my shower and used it all in one washing. I have an old 16 oz Nalgene bottle that I use to mix up both the “shampoo” and the “conditioner.” You can use a cup, a jar, or even a cleaned out shampoo bottle.

What I do:

I take a tablespoon of baking soda and put it into the Nalgene bottle, and then add about a cup of water and shake it up really well. Then I pour it over my head little by little and massage it into my scalp just like with shampoo. Well, not “just like” shampoo because–no poo, no suds. Rinse it out.

After that I add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the bottle and dilute it with a cup of water. I pour it over my head and massage into my scalp. I add some essential oils at this point because who wants to smell like vinegar? I like rosemary, peppermint, and lavender essential oils for my hair.

Like I said, there are so many different methods. Even if you do the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method you may do it differently than me. I have not tried egg wash, bentonite clay, kefir, rye flour, or the ultimate no poo method–just water.

Deep Conditioning Mask

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

Because I have dry hair, this is something that I had to do from time to time even before I went no poo, but if you are doing any of the no poo methods, deep conditioning is a must.

Try these easy, no fuss, no poo methods today using items already found in your home!

I do a coconut oil mask once a month. I take about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, add in about 5-6 drops of essential oils (again, I stick to rosemary, lavender and peppermint) and apply it to my dry hair. I give it about 30-45 minutes to do it’s magic, and then I wash it out.

This is the part when I go a bit off the no poo rails. I haven’t been able to successfully wash the mask out without using shampoo. Even with shampoo it goes a little like lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I use a great sulfate-free shampoo that I really like so I don’t get too upset about it.

I hope this helps you to see that the no poo method can be simple and implemented with very few ingredients that you most likely already have. There’s more to taming my curly hair than just the no poo method, but I’ll have to share those another time!




Gray Matter

Woods family church photo

During my junior year of high school I took a liking to the color gray. That’s not really a strong enough statement. It was a borderline obsession. Not just any shade of gray–a dark, charcoal gray. It was a time when my youngest brother, Russell, was battling an aggressive brain tumor. Maybe it was a manifestation of mourning.

Woods family church photo
The Woods crew (Russell is the sweet blond)

Biking at DeGray Lake State Park
If it was, I didn’t realize it at the time. Each time I went shopping I would come home with at least one item in a dark charcoal. Each time I reached into the closet I would invariably pick out an outfit with this color as the central theme. So pervasive was this color in my everyday wardrobe that a friend’s mother began calling that particular shade of gray, “Julianne Gray.” Soon, many of my friends were calling it the same. Even now, each time I’ve picked up a paint brush to paint the living room of the three houses we’ve owned, I have chosen a shade of gray (a much, much lighter shade).
Photo op at a rest stop in ArkansasFamily photo on the Carolina coast
It feels appropriate that I remember my little brother with the color gray. My parents gave Russell a family name: first name Russell, after my mom’s grandpa, Russell “Rusty” McGlothlin; and middle name, Gray, after my dad’s grandpa, Virgil Gray Davenport.

Russell with a posse of cousins
Russell with a posse of cousins

Russell after his treatments for brain tumor started
Russell and I after his treatments began in 1998.

That brain tumor eventually did end his short life on this Earth, and the world has been grayer ever since. So in part, the name of my blog is a dedication to his sweet soul. More so than I ever realized before penning this post.  Save



Last Minute DIY Kids Cat Costume

Need a last minute kids Halloween costume? This DIY cat costume is simple and cute!

This Halloween was all about taking the easy road. So why the DIY costume you may ask. Why not hightail it to the nearest Walmart and purchase a costume and be done with it? THAT would be easy, right? It’s true, I can’t think of anything easier. The thing is, I already had this costume made from last year. I know, I know, not everyone has an unused DIY costume to reach for, but I swear, I whipped this one together super last minute last year. Only, my kid flat-out refused to wear a costume last year. I wasn’t going to just let my handiwork go to waste! Okay, I did last year, but that was only because I knew that it would still work this year.

Now, last year I thought I would blog about how to make the costume and I even remember taking step-by-step photos for the post. However, those photos are nowhere to be found. In fact, I may have just imagined doing that. Luckily, I still had this inspiration post pinned on a Pinterest board, waiting for me. The costume can be done with absolutely no sewing, but I did do a tiny bit of sewing.

We started with a base of a black turtleneck and black leggings (I couldn’t find what I wanted in the boys’ section, so I just picked up a pair from the girls’ section at Walmart). Then I used an oversized (big boys size small) crewneck sweatshirt and cut off the sleeves. If you can find one that is not raglan sleeves it will probably be easier, but this worked just fine. Then, I turned the edge in and glued it with fabric glue. I am sure you could skip the sweatshirt if you want to, but we were glad we had it when the weather for Halloween festival at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks ended up being chilly and wet.

A few things I did differently:

Ears: The post I linked to says to use some of the leftover sweatshirt sleeve material to make the ears. I tried this, but felt like it was too droopy. Especially if you add some of the marabou to it as they suggest. The glue only helps so much. Instead, I cut triangles out of felt and glued them to the headband.

Looking for an easy last-minute costume idea for Halloween? This kid's cat costume is super simple and cute!

Tail: They suggested to glue the tail to the back of the sweatshirt, but when I had it pinned with a safety pin to figure out where to glue it my child was able to easily rip the tail off. This prompted me to sew it in place instead of using glue. You could probably do glue and see how it holds up, then if it doesn’t seem to hold well you could always still put some stitches in it to reinforce it. We also wrapped some electrical tape around the end of the wire hanger so that it wouldn’t poke through.

Looking for a last-minute DIY costume for Halloween? This no-sew cat costume is super simple and cute!

Whiskers: I knew there was no way my kid was going to let me put floral wire on his face for whiskers so I skipped this step and drew some on with face paint. Simple.

Looking for an easy last-minute costume idea for Halloween? This kid's cat costume is super simple and cute!

I think it turned out super cute, if I do say so myself. That ridiculously good-looking kid has something to do with the cuteness factor, but I take credit for him too!

I’m linking this post up on my friend Lacie‘s Funtastic Friday Link Party and her fabulous Halloween Blog Hop (Check it out, there’s a giveaway, too!)





Okay, fine. I’ll wear leggings.

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today is a crisp, fall day. Usually that would be followed with exclamation points and the stars emoji, but I’m just not feeling it today. Instead I’m feeling grumbly. I have to go to a follow up appointment, and as usual, it’s one of those appointments. It’s 54 degrees outside, but I still had to shave my legs. Well, I guess I didn’t have to, but I felt the need to in order to not be judged by some ridiculous beauty/womanhood standard. Even while recovering from surgery. I may still be bold and rock the no bra look I’ve adopted the last week and a half though.

It’s not what I am not going to wear that is really getting me down however, instead it’s “WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?” I know, go ahead and put me back in that typical woman box now. I am usually so excited about sweaters and layers and boots and pants, but pants are SO not my friend after this surgery. I mean, not any that I really consider to be pants. I am still firmly in the “leggings are not pants” camp. I was hoping the trend would just go away, but apparently it’s here for awhile. I am left with the option of wearing a dress or a skirt that will leave me feeling cold, and frankly, just not practical when you have an appointment with a gynecologist, or comfy, stretchy, non-pants like leggings.

Karl Lagerfeld is reported to have said “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” Well, I’m admitting defeat. I’m not going to say that I’ve never worn leggings out of the house because I did when I was pregnant. However, I was never truly comfortable in them no matter how long the top. I’m grumbly because I have to wear leggings in public. Something that many women would deem worthy of exclamation points and the stars emoji.

I started to think that maybe I could get away with wearing a trench over a not so flattering outfit just to get me out the door to my appointment, a la Lorelai Gilmore. Although, instead of cutoffs I’d be hiding leggings and a not quite long enough top. The thought of being able to wear the trench my mom had brought me when I had surgery did lift my spirits and gave me enough energy to try and “make it work.” After trying top after top, and even reaching into my husband’s closet to find something with a more ample hemline, I settled on a dress over leggings. Done. And then I collapsed back into bed because getting dressed is really all it takes to wear me out these days. Now, don’t feel sorry for me. That just gives more time to watch clips of my favorite moments from Gilmore Girls, like this one. Enjoy!


Ready to Run

Running for Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Ready to run. If you’re like me you probably cannot read that without a certain Dixie Chicks song coming to mind. All of the false starts I’ve had in trying to get back in a running groove also come to mind. It has been a long time now since running was second nature to me. I played soccer from the time I was in 6th grade until high school, and there was a lot of running. So much running. I could run forever back then. The cross country coach was always trying to recruit me, but…soccer.

I didn’t play soccer my senior year of high school, and I didn’t pursue it in college either. However, I was still active in college. My friends and I would run, bike, and workout together. During the spring semester of my junior year, I started to get sick after working out. I distinctly remember the first time it happened. We were trying out a new Denise Austin workout video (I still cannot bring myself to do any of her workouts to this day). At first I thought it was a fluke, or a bug. I was puking, weak and faint for a day or two afterwards. A sweet lady from church came by to drop off soup, crackers and Sprite, and she stayed outside lest she catch what I had. It turned out that I was sick. Only I wouldn’t even know it for another three months, and it definitely wasn’t anything that you could pass on to a church ladies.

Even though I became sick each time, I kept on running and working out. I was a junior who had managed to keep the “freshman fifteen” at bay, but all of a sudden I had developed a belly. No weight gain anywhere else, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I just figured I was gaining weight and needed to keep exercising to keep it off. So I threw up afterwards? All the better to help me lose the weight, I thought. I know that sounds flippant, but it is what I really (secretly) thought at the time. I have never had an eating disorder, and I am not promoting this as a healthy way to lose weight. Even then I knew that it was an unhealthy way to look at things, but it was my way of finding a “bright side” to the situation.

It didn’t make a difference though. My belly grew rounder until I couldn’t even bend down to tie my own shoelaces. I looked and even felt like I was pregnant. Finally, I began to listen to my body and my friends who kept telling me it wasn’t normal to only gain weight in your belly, especially not so quickly. I had been experiencing some very uncomfortable back pain throughout this same time and I decided to give in and go to the doctor about it. NOT because of my belly. Uh uh. I still didn’t think it was related to the pain or the nausea, etc. My doctor disagreed. After she looked at me there was really not much talk about back pain at all. The conversation went like this:

Doctor: Are you pregnant?

Me: [Flushing] No.

Doctor: You are sure there is NO way you can be pregnant?

Me: I’m sure.

Doctor: You look like you’re three months pregnant.

Me: [Nervous laughter] Unless it’s by immaculate conception, there is no way that’s possible.

Doctor: Well, there is something in there.

The ultrasound that followed showed that the “something” was a basketball sized mass on my ovary. A basketball sized mass. On my ovary. Just for some perspective, the ovary of a woman in her childbearing years is about the size of a walnut. I was referred to a gynecologist oncologist and surgery was scheduled for summer break. My CA-125 (the tumor marker for ovarian cancer) came back within the normal range so I put the thought of cancer out of my mind. I would later learn that the CA-125 is not always a reliable test. False negatives and even false positives are not uncommon. I did not find out until after the surgery that it was indeed mucinous adenocarcinoma of the ovary. Cancer. Stage 1. Thankfully, it was all removed during surgery, along with my right ovary, my appendix, part of my intestines, and the now watermelon-sized 8 lb tumor. My doctor did offer chemotherapy, but he was confident that I would be okay without it so I declined. I felt like I got off so easy.

My recovery from the surgery was long and anything but easy. Nonetheless, I did get up and start walking again the very next day. Not far, just up and down the hallway outside of my hospital room. With the aid of a nurse. Slowly, I was able to start doing regular things. I never did get back to running though. However irrational, I always had a fear in the back of my mind that said I would throw up again if I tried to run. During the 13 years since my surgery, I have started and stopped running so many times. I never could stick with it. This month I hope to change that. I have set a goal of running at least one mile three times a week during the month of September, which also happens to be Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I hope to cap off my goal and the month by running the Whisper 5K Walk & Run in Kansas City. Why Kansas City? First of all, I couldn’t find any runs benefiting ovarian cancer research in Arkansas (is it crazy that I’m considering starting one myself??). Second, I was going to college in Missouri when I was diagnosed and Kansas City was where I had my surgery. I would love it if any of my Warrensburg/Kansas City friends would like to join me on September 25!

I have put in two one mile plus runs this week already, so I’m right on track to reach my weekly goal. Tomorrow, I will be running in teal–the color of ovarian cancer awareness–for National Wear Teal Day! Will you be wearing teal tomorrow?


To Coen on Your Third Birthday


Three years old. I can’t believe that you are three years old today. We celebrate with fun, fireworks, friends and family. You are so bright, funny and affectionate. The day is never done without you giving a million kisses, and then some more. “Kiss, mama, kiss!” you say to me over and over again throughout the day. If I give you one kiss and it’s not sufficient, you say, “No, lot of kisses.” I hope that you always want to share your affection with me, but I know there will be a day when you won’t so for now, I cherish each one of your sweet kisses. I am so incredibly lucky to have you. If it weren’t cliché to say so, I would declare you a firecracker—you are full of life, brilliant, and let’s just be honest, at this stage in your life, a little volatile. Three is this brave new adventure we’re embarking on together, and I hope you’re as excited as I am about it. While most focus on the trials this age brings, I know that it will be so wonderful too. You can tell me what you want and need (sometimes very emphatically), you have been potty trained for nearly a year, and you sing your ABCs almost perfectly (who needs e, f, and g anyway?). You love cars and trucks, playing with blocks and trains, digging and building in the sand, your friends and teachers at the “Baby House,” bubble baths, in fact, anything that has to do with water (except for the hotel pool), and always, always playing outside. Some of your favorite books are “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site,” “Llama Llama Red Pajama” and “The Going to Bed Book.”

Again, it’s beyond cliché, but the day you were born my life changed completely. Being your mama is the absolute best thing that has happened to me. Ten years before you were born, I was told that I may never have a child of my own, and I never let myself even dream of you. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect child than you anyway. You are my angel baby, my sweet, sweet, sweet, my baby boy, my sweet pea, my silly goose, my bug, my big boy, my Young Master Gray, my heart, my darling dear, my Coco, my Coen Gray. I love you so much. Happy birthday, my love.

6 Reasons Why My Birthday With the Flu Didn’t Suck

I will admit that when I started getting the first symptoms of the flu I was pretty grim about the whole thing. “How am I going to take care of a sick toddler when I’m sick myself?” “Great, now my birthday is going to suck.” And, of course, “Waahhhh, I’m sick.” Then, I joked with my sister that I was due for a birthday with the flu since my birthday last year was so epic. It’s really hard to top a birthday in Hawaii. After that I tried to change my whole perspective on the day and it really helped. So without further ado…

Reasons why my birthday didn’t suck even though I had the flu:

1. While my 2-year-old has more energy with the flu than I do on a normal day, we were still able to get a lot of extra snuggle time in. I hate that it’s because he is feeling bad, but I can’t be mad about snuggles!

So. Much. Energy.

2. My long-distance, we-met-on-the-internet-but-so-what-we-are-still-close friend had her baby boy yesterday and I was able to keep up to date on her labor and cheer her on via Facebook. Her oldest has the same birthday as Young Master Gray, so it’s pretty cool that this new sweet bundle shares my birthday now! Plus, what a way to put things in perspective. Having body aches and not being able to rest pales in comparison to trying to push a human baby out of you and not being able rest.

3. While refreshing and refreshing my browser to be sure and stay updated on the birth of that wee lil babe, I was inundated with sweet messages posted on my Facebook wall in real time. Each message, text, comment and call brought a smile to my face. They really and truly made my day.

4. I actually laid down during naptime. Now, I was not able to sleep because my brain wouldn’t stop going through to-do lists, but I also wasn’t running around trying to get everything done in that one small window of time as usual. I didn’t pick up the toys strewn across the floor. I didn’t clean. I didn’t cook. I didn’t work (okay, I did do some writing, but it didn’t feel like work). I didn’t worry about posting to any of my social media channels. I didn’t do much other than REST.

5. When Jeremy got home from work I was able to spend time with my little family. There wasn’t a big dinner or cake (I didn’t feel like eating anyway), but we had a quiet night in and we were together. I can’t really ask for more than that. As a bonus, Jeremy cleaned up while I took a hot epsom salt bath. He may or may not have suggested I go rest to get rid of the crazy lady who kept telling him he was putting everything away wrong.

6. While it wasn’t on my birthday (and thank goodness), I can’t leave out our little escape to Eureka Springs earlier this week. Jeremy surprised me with a plan to get away and camp for the night. He didn’t know it, but I had been hoping for a getaway. Of course, in my mind we were going to the beach, but I really love to camp so this was perfect. We talked about going to the Buffalo River, my favorite place to camp, but with limited time we decided to go somewhere close. After our anniversary trip to Eureka Springs in January, we were itching to get back and see some of the things that had been closed during that trip. There was a lot more to be seen, but unfortunately, a lot of places are still closed early in the week even during their travel season. I was so mad at myself for not remembering my camera, but Jeremy said that meant that I would just have to enjoy myself and not worry about my camera. Touche. However, I did take some photos with my phone. Here are a few highlights from our early birthday adventure.

Our lodgings for the night.
Our lodgings for the night.

In our haste we forgot matches, but we still managed to get a fire going.

The Overlook Trail at Lake Leatherwood

The Point at Lake Leatherwood
The Point at Lake Leatherwood

It was a great place to rest and take in all that beauty.

That trip was so necessary. Before our hike Wednesday morning, I got a message saying that Young Master Gray was not feeling so well. He had a fever and I immediately felt guilty for taking that time away. I wondered, “Should we skip our hike and just head home?” We decided to go on our hike and then head home, and I’m really glad that we did. I needed that time to be out in nature and think about heavy things. Of course, when I got home Young Master Gray only wanted mama, but I knew he was taken care of and fine with his grandparents until we made it back. The next day I took him to the doctor and, well, you know the rest.