Category Archives: Travel

Sweet Birthday Wishes!!

Happy Birthday to you, Amanda!!

Hope your day is sweet!  We love you!!

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Filed under Birthdays, Family, Travel

Seven Years

Happy 7 years to the love of my life, Jake!!  In the spirit of Thanksgiving I want you to know how thankful I am for you!!  I love you!!!


Filed under Anniversary, Travel

Big Red and Sue E.

The night before we flew home from Arkansas in December, Jake and I took the boys to their first ever Razorback basketball game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville!  Opi, Hunter, Tim, Candice, and Laci also joined us and we all had a great time!

Walking from “The Pit” to the arena.  Two of my favorite things about this picture…1.)  Laci, Hunter and Ben holding hands and 2.) Laci’s pig tails…they’re absolutely adorable!!  The kids were all so excited about the big game that they didn’t seem to mind the long, cold walk to the arena.

Finding tickets.  So we didn’t exactly have all the tickets we needed when we arrived at the game.  Ben was eager to help out by proudly displaying four little fingers.  I mean, really, who could turn him down?!?  We quickly found tickets, made our way inside and grabbed our seats just in time for the tip-off! 

Snacking on concession food!  Ben loves popcorn and he and Hunter are sharing a box of it in this pic.  He also munched on nachos and a hot dog!  A couple of times I heard Ben holler out “defense” even when we had the ball and he’d clap anytime anyone on our team or the opposing team scored a basket!

Cheering on our team!  I wasn’t sure how Jude would hold up considering game time was his normal bedtime.  But, in typical Jude fashion he was pretty chilled out and quite content to hang out on Opi’s lap.  (This picture really doesn’t show just how excited he was…he was bouncing, clapping and letting out little squeals for most of the game!)  I’m pretty sure he was in Hog heaven and happy to be out and about with all of us!

And the most anticipated event of the evening…

meeting Sue E.

and Big Red!!


Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Food, Hobbies, Holiday, Jude, Travel

My Birthday at the Beach

I turned 31 on August 14th (yes, I am officially a 30 something)!!  My birthday request was to spend some time squishing my toes in the sand at the beach and that’s just what we did.  Jake and I spent last Saturday and Sunday at a beautiful place on Daytona Beach called The Shores Resort and Spa.  Our friend Nichole works at the resort and she hooked us up with a discounted room rate and some other free stuff…it was so wonderful!!  Thank you, Nichole!!  

This was also our first overnight trip without our sweet Ben.  We are so blessed to have found an amazing babysitter, Amanda, through our church.  She is simply wonderful and such a blessing to us.  It is so evident to see how much she loves Ben and in turn it gives us a very good feeling to leave him in her very capable hands.  But, oh, how we missed him!  Anytime we saw a little boy Ben’s age playing on the beach I so badly wanted to call up Amanda and have them come and meet us.  It was so fun to come home and see him though.  Amanda said he was great and he seemed so happy to see us.  He walked up with a big smile and greeted us both with big kisses.  It melted my heart…it always does!!  

We were already hungry when we arrived and got reservations at the hotel restaurant Azure right at 5:30pm.  We pretty much had the entire restaurant to ourselves which was quite nice.  Our table overlooked the patio, pool and beach.  A couple had just gotten married on the beach and they were having their dinner reception out on the patio in front of us.  It was so fun to watch all of the excitement!  And the meal was delicious!











Here’s the view of our hotel from the beach, the view of the beach from our room and the view of the intracoastal waterway from our room!  Gorgeous!!























After dinner we went for a romantic stroll along the beach and watched the sunset.  Here we are laughing hysterically (you know the kind like when you were a kid trying not to laugh in church but the more you tried not to laugh the worse it made it and the worse the stares got from your parents…that kind of laugh) while trying to snap our own picture on the beach.  Ahh, much better!
















Does anyone remember that episode of Friends when they all go to some tropical location and Monica’s hair gets bigger and bigGER and BIGGER the entire show.  Yep, that was my hair after our walk on the beach.  BIG!!









We woke up on Sunday morning to a yummy breakfast in bed.  I’m pretty sure I said, “ah, it’s so nice to not do dishes” about a million times that weekend.  It was such a luxury!!  So after our breakfast in bed we headed down to the beach early Sunday morning to soak up some sun.  It was already quite warm so we spent more time letting the waves crash against our legs than we did laying out on the beach.  When we were relaxing on the beach it was under the shade of an umbrella.  Long gone are the days of laying out in the sun with baby oil.  Oh yes, I know, horrible isn’t it?!?  I remember laying out by the pool in my younger years using baby oil because it was supposed to make your tan much darker.  Please, do not try this at home.  Much darker…a.k.a…much redder….think…lobster.  Not pleasant.


















It is amazing how a little time away can make you feel so revived and energized!  It was a great birthday!  And the gifts, cards, calls, e-mails and other birthday messages I received…thanks everyone for making me feel so loved on my special day!  I hope that you were blessed even more in return!


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Party! Party! Party! Party! (Part 2)

After a good nights rest, a big family breakfast and lots of strong coffee (my brother-in-law makes it that way) we were feeling recharged from our busy Fourth of July festivities.  I’m also happy to report that everyone escaped without any fireworks related injuries!! 

We spent the next few days playing at Opi and Omi’s house in Greenwood.  Much to his delight, Ben discovered these wonderful trucks, trailers and tractors the moment we stepped foot out of the car!  He spent hours outside playing with them.  At one point he began placing them side by side in a row right before he began heaving them into a big pile.  I found the side by side thing interesting.  It was the first time I’d seen him do that with his toys.  I wonder if it is just a toddler thing OR did he give me a little glimpse into his personality?  Maybe we’ll just have to wait and see!!  There are certainly a few  other family members (I will not mention any names…you know who you are!!) that I remember doing this same thing and it seems to be a “unique” trait they have carried with them into adulthood.














This is the same highchair I used when I was a wee babe.  I started digging through some of my old photos with the hopes of finding one of me in the chair to post next to Ben’s pic, but my searching efforts were to no avail.  So this is a request to my parents and/or other family members…if you have said picture could you please e-mail or snail mail it to me.  Thanks!!











Ben never passes up an opportunity to wrestle!!  Seriously, anytime he sees someone laying down he believes it is an open invitation to pounce on them!  So after a little wrastlin’ with Opi, Ben turned on the charm and smooched on Laci and snuggled with Omi!










Opi and Omi had a spraying fountain froggie pool for Ben and Laci to cool off in.  Clearly, Ben enjoyed playing with this ball in the pool.  Apparently, he thinks Laci’s head is a good place to bounce it.  Oh, just wait until Laci can hold her own one day…I have no doubt she’ll get him back!











While we were there we got to spend time with one of my best gal pals, Sonya, and her adorable girls, Laynee and Raegan.  (Of course I didn’t have a single shot where they were all looking at the camera!!)  We had lots of fun going out for pizza (okay, well that part was a little chaotic with four kiddos), chatting and even watching a movie!









One night after dinner, Dad and I were driving around checking out some pretty neighborhoods in the area when we drove by these amazing deer!  I don’t think I have ever seen so many together not to mention in someone’s front yard.  Apparently this is quite common in this particular neighborhood!!









One afternoon Dad took Ben for a ride on the lawn mower to keep him occupied while Candice and I made lunch.  It worked marvelously and in no time we were sitting down to lunch.  Afterwards we were busy getting the car packed up to head back to Fayetteville so once again Dad and Ben headed out to the lawn mower.  When I went to check on them this is what I saw…

Jake returned Friday evening and we spent the rest of our trip at Tim and Candice’s house.  From the moment he walked in the door (even before he saw the dogs), Ben was calling out, “Max, Max, Max.”  It was so cute how he remembered sweet Max! 











Here’s something we could have used around here about a month ago when Ben fell three (yes, THREE) times in two days leaving two large bruises and one small cut on his head.  The not so fun part about learning to walk and being a very curious boy!  The perfect fit don’t you think!?!









In addition to making a “whew” sound while waving his hand across the sky, Ben now says “plane!”  He had a whole lot of fun watching planes pull up to the gate while playing with his beloved blue truck!  IMG_8098IMG_8100









Thanks so much to our family for a “party” of a week!  Speaking of parties…Happy Birthday to my nephew Landon that turned 10 on July 15th and Happy Anniversary x 2 to my Dad and Linda and Mom and Bill that both celebrated anniversaries this month!  A party month indeed!

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Filed under Anniversary, Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Friends, Holiday, Travel

Party! Party! Party! Party! (Part 1)

On the morning of July 3rd, Jake, Ben and I headed out bright and early to the airport.  With Jake’s busy work schedule it isn’t too often that we all get to travel back to Arkansas together for a visit.  However, with the 4th of July holiday approaching plus Jake’s need to make a business trip to Remington’s Little Rock office, this was the perfect opportunity to travel together. 

The flight started off just right when we learned that we had an empty seat in our row.  Ben was thrilled to have his own space…and so were we!  For those of you that have traveled with toddlers you know what a blessing that was!  We managed to keep our busybody busy by reading books, eating snacks, mingling with the neighbors behind us (they didn’t seem to mind too much that Ben had his face smushed between the seats staring at them) and taking a stroll up and down the aisle.










Once we arrived in NWA we stopped by the pharmacy where Tim and Candice both just happened to be working that day.  Ben had lots of fun exploring the place…he wanted to go back behind the pharmacy counter so very badly.  There was also this little old lady there that was very interested in Ben.  She asked me his name…I told her Ben…she replied, “Charlie, that’s a cute name!”  Charlie, Ben…whatever…she was having such a good time talking to him it didn’t matter what his name was!









We were able to spend some quality time with Ben’s grandma and grandpa that weekend before they left for the week for treatment at CTCA











The last time we came to visit they bought him some really cool trucks that light up and make sounds.  Turns out…Ben’s not the only one that really enjoys playing with them!


That evening we made our way out to Jill and David’s house.  They hosted the Fourth of July festivities at their place this year.  They were wonderful hosts!!  At about 8:30 that night, Jill, Kayla and I ventured out to Wal-Mart to pick up a few “necessities” for our holiday festivities the next day. 

Crazy ladies on aisle five.  Check.  Essential party tiaras.  Check. 

We were suffering from sheer exhaustion and needless to say we were quite delirious by the time we returned home roughly three hours later.  As we walked through the back door sporting our fancy $1 tiaras David asked quizzically, “What did you do?!?”  I think we’ve been banned from any future late night outings to Wal-Mart (at least until our husbands forget about the whole incident)!
















A little rain was NOT going to ruin our big day (although the giant bolts of lightening and booming thunder were a bit scary at times).  Thankfully it subsided before long and we were ready to celebrate.  Party! Party! Party! Party!  (I’ll digress for a second…Ben and I checked out a book the other week at the library about an elephant and a pig that go to a party.  Throughout the book it repeats…Party! Party! Party! Party!  So now anytime I think of a party/celebration I can’t help but think…Party! Party! Party! Party!)  Anywho, we had the guys cooking outside while the ladies worked on many delectable dishes inside.  Then we just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the day with family!











And to end the evening (to a very spectacular day), Jake and Tim put on quite the fireworks display.  Here’s the grand finale…”Love on Fire”!  (Ben was sleeping in a bedroom on the side of the house where we were shooting off fireworks…amazingly enough, he slept through the entire thing!)  Enjoy the show!

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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Family, Food, Friends, Holiday, Travel

Arkansas…Naturally a Good Time









Ben and I traveled to Arkansas to spend time with my mom and other family members at the end of May/early June.  It was such a blessing to have 10 whole days to hang out with my mom.  I referred to her as Ms. Daisy and I was her driver.  We spent time running errands, getting some lab work done and of course…getting pedicures!!  Here’s a recap from our time together.

The day before we left, Ben helped me pack up our stuff.  Here’s a cute clip of us talking about our flight the next morning.  Whenever we talk about planes with Ben he’ll immediately point up to the sky and then blow air out of his mouth making a “whew” sound.  At the end of the clip he notices the neighbor out walking her dog, Mojo.  That’s him “barking” at Mojo.

Finally, after an uneventful flight…we had arrived in the natural state!!  We enjoyed lots of fun times outside at Grandma and Grandpa’s house!


Ben liked to go on walks around the yard with Grandpa.










Here we are enjoying dinner out back…apparently howling is a very normal dinner time ritual in our family!!


He absolutely loved this Razorback flag at Grandma’s house.  When we were inside he peered longingly out the window at it and as soon as the front door opened he’d make a b-line for it.









Grandpa and Grandma bought a special little pool for the grand kids to splash and play in.  Ben spent a lot of time climbing in and out and in and out of the water, then he’d take a break from his busy activities for a nice refreshing drink of…pool water…yummy!









One afternoon mom and I took Ben to the playground down the street from her house.  Ben loved every minute of it!











Khloee and Ben played with sidewalk chalk while Laci (sitting up like a big girl!!) supervised in her adorable white hat.










We took a break from all of our outside activities to stop in at Rick’s Bakery to cool off and grab a delicious treat!!









We also celebrated two super special birthdays while we were there…my dad celebrated his birthday on June 2nd and Khloee celebrated her birthday on June 7th! 









I always LOVE IT when our trip coincides with birthday parties…I hate missing out on family stuff like that.  For my dad’s big day we celebrated at PF Changs.  We had a lovely evening and pigged out on some delectable food!!  (The babies were at home with the babysitter.)









A few days later we celebrated Khloee’s sixth birthday at LokomotionIMG_7706







I’m pretty sure Ben was quite overwhelmed by all of the commotion and loud noises, but he handled it quite well.  He got to ride on some of those motorized vehicle toys for the first time which was quite fun to watch. 









Hunter, Landon and Kayla after bumper boats.  Clearly they were having so much fun and definitely hyped up on lots of sugar!!









And for the record…Kayla and I smoked and I mean SMOKED everyone else on the go-karts!











When we arrived in Arkansas Ben hit the ground running…literally.  He wasn’t really walking that much before we left other than the times we would really encourage him to stand up and walk.  By the end of our trip I felt like “he was run-ning”!!


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Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Health, Travel, Weather

Fun in the Sun

I’m finally getting around to posting an update about our family vacation to St. Augustine at the beginning of May.  I can assure you it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.  Our computer has been on again and off again and on again and (oh,yes) off again.  So in light of our current off again status I decided to move everything over to the laptop for now until we can figure out what’s going on.  Technology is certainly a marvelous thing, but it sure can give me a gigantic headache too!!  About that vacation…

We spent most of the morning on Sunday packing up the 4Runner.  I wasn’t kidding when I said we packed pretty much everything but the kitchen sink (and yes…we still had room for Ben!)!









Ben stayed quite busy for most of the trip with a little light readingIMG_6937!









Jake, Ben and I were the first to arrive.  We immediately went to explore our fantastic beach house.  It was a 4 bed/4 bath home with 3 living spaces including a nice big flat screen TV, a pool table, darts and a Foosball table.  From the second story patio we had an amazing view of the pool,  hot tub and Matanzas River (part of the Intracoastal Waterway)!  We got to see beautiful sunsets every evening from the comfort of our back patio!!









After being told their flight was cancelled, then re-routed, followed by a total of a four hour delay…Tim, Candice, Laci and Randy finally arrived!!  Dad and Linda made it in later that evening (they took a few extra days to do some sightseeing on their drive down) and David arrived the following day!!  This pic was taken on the cute little dock outside the beach house overlooking the river.  While standing on the dock we even got to see graceful dolphins frolicking in the water! (Do dolphins frolic?  I was curious about what to call it when the dolphins do their little jumps out of the water so I googled it and found that it is really called breaching…and now you know…you’re welcome!!)IMG_6948







The guys were up and at ’em by about 5:15 am each morning.   “Our Players” divided up their time during the day between playing golf and watching “The Players” at Sawgrass.  (Sorry no pics of the tournament…no cameras or cell phones were allowed).  They played at St. Johns Golf and Country Club, South Hamptonthe Legends and Champions Courses at LPGA International…yes, they actually played both of them on the same day!  That’s 36 holes of golf…they were worn out!!  I’ve been sworn to secrecy regarding their golf scores, but if anyone REALLY wants to know please send a request via mail along with large sums of money (small unmarked bills only).


And the littlest “player” of all practicing his golf swing!!










A typical day for the ladies…after eating breakfast we’d head downstairs for a dip in the cool pool.  It was so nice!!  We’d swim for a while, then watch the magnificent boats sail by while eating snacks followed by playing some more.  Ben was always ready for a nice  l o n g  afternoon nap!  IMG_7140















After the guys returned home each day we had lots of fun playing HIGHLY COMPETITIVE games of pool and water volleyball (think:  The Water Volleyball Scene in Meet the Parents)!



Ben loved playing (more like pounding) on the piano with Omi!










We tried out some of the local cuisine at places like Salt-Water Cowboys and South Beach Grill, but of all the meals we enjoyed together my favorite was the night we had our very own shrimp boil.  It was so yummy!!  Plus we sat out on the upstairs patio and watched the sun set while we ate.  Delicious food, great company, beautiful view!









Of course we made time to hang out and walk on the beach a few times.  The beaches were absolutely beautiful.  The sand felt like powder under our feet and it wasn’t very crowded either so we had plenty of room to play and walk along the shore.
































We spent one evening touring up and down the cobblestone streets of downtown St. Augustine.   


Here we are standing in front of the beautiful Matanzas Bay.









Castillo de San Marcos









We stopped in at the Crucial Coffee Cafe on Cuna Street for an assortment of coffee drinks and then quickly made our way down St. George Street to the fudge shop!!IMG_7071









As the saying goes…all good things must come to an end.  It was an end to a truly wonderful week!!  Here we are feeling all refreshed and relaxed on our last morning of vacation. 









Ben did this for the entire trip home…still holding on to his little Hot Wheels car!!



Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Food, Orlando, Travel

Family Vacation – St. Augustine

We are leaving tomorrow afternoon for St. Augustine.  I guess you could call this our first “official” family vacation since Ben was born.  We’re super excited!  We rented a house on the beach (okay, we opted for a house with a private pool and in order to do so we gave up beach front property…it’s across the street within walking distance though!)!  We’re meeting up with my brother Tim and his wife Candice and Baby Laci, my brother-in-law David (we’ll miss you Jill…Khloee is still in school so they couldn’t make the trip), my dad and stepmom Linda and Candice’s dad Randy. 

Truth be told this trip was originally planned for just the guys.  The PGA tour is making a stop in Ponte Vedra (just up the road from St. Augustine) for the TPC Sawgrass and the guys want to go and watch players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson and Sergio Garcia (to name a few) and of course play lots of golf themselves.  So we, the ladies, decided to tag along to soak up the sun and to do a little shopping at the outlet malls nearby.  Jake made sure to cash in on his private golf lessons over the last several weeks, plus he’s managed to squeeze in some time at the driving range AND he’s even been practicing his swing in the front yard.  Apparently golf is serious business.  I don’t know that much about golf, but a couple of things I know are true…ONE.  When I play golf I usually cannot make contact with the ball (it is EXTREMELY embarrassing…that’s why I really don’t “play” per se…I ride along in the golf cart and when all golfers and I mean ALL golfers are out of sight I jump out of the cart and take a swing).  TWO.  Driving a golf cart is super fun!!      

I’m pretty sure we’ve packed all but the kitchen sink for our trip.  Since we’re driving (it’s only about an hour and a half from our house) we’ve been tasked with bringing things that the others don’t have room for in their suitcases.  Beach stuff, food stuff, baby stuff…you name it, you can probably find it packed in the 4Runner.  All I know is that I CANNOT WAIT to feel the sand between my toes, hear the crash of the waves against the shore and lounge by the pool for the next nine days.  Ahh!  Can you feel the relaxation oozing out of your computer screen!!

P.S.  Turns out one of the memory sticks on our computer had gone bad…not the hard drive.  Thankfully it is one of the easiest and cheapest things to fix.  We ordered a new one at the end of last week and it should be waiting on us when we return from vacation!  Wahoo!!  New pics and videos coming your way soon!!

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Filed under Beach, Ben, Family, Orlando, Travel

Out Like a Lion

Ahh, springtime in Arkansas…I’d forgotten just how unpredictable it is!  Before I started packing our suitcases for our trip there at the end of March I checked the 10-day forecast.  If I recall correctly, the highs were predicted somewhere between the upper 60’s and low 70’s.  So I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts for Ben, along with just a couple pairs of pants and long sleeve shirts “just in case” and at the last moment I threw in a light weight jacket for him…thank goodness!  (Truth be told, I even packed swimsuits…what was I thinking???)  Maybe my blood is just super thin from having lived in Florida for the past three years, but it sure seemed blizzard-like to me!!  Brr!!!  So despite the rainy, cold and snowy (yes, it even snowed) weather, we had a most excellent trip!!

We celebrated my mom’s birthday!  img_6488







We treated our little piggies to some pampering!









My college roommate, Tonya, just so happened to plan a trip back to Arkansas from Montevideo, Uruguay, to surprise her family for the exact same time period that Ben and I were there (we didn’t even plan our trips together…how cool is that)!  So one afternoon we got to meet up for a couple of hours in Fayetteville for a chat.  It was sooo much fun to see her!  Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Isabel, but Ton did get to meet Ben and Laci for the very first time!!  Tonya’s sister, Tammy, along with her two adorable girls, Addison and Stella, were there too.  The girls wanted to eat at Chick-fil-a so we were able to find a nice long table at the back of the restaurant.  Ben was quite the trooper considering he didn’t take a morning nap (we had a babysitter watch him and Laci while we got pedicures) and he was incredibly tired.  Thankfully a nice worker there brought Ben a balloon…it seemed to keep him occupied for most of the time.  However, trying to snap a picture proved to be a bit more challenging.

First attempt:









Several attempts later:








And on the sixth attempt…we got it!!  (Notice no balloon…one of the girls is holding it for Ben to look at…as you can see he wasn’t very pleased)!









Ben got to spend a fun afternoon with his cousins Courtney, Leah and Jenna at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  img_6490







Ben LOVES toast and after he finished his piece, he crawled up into Grandma’s lap and ate hers too!









Ben couldn’t wait for Grandpa to get home from work each day so they could play together.










One morning while in Greenwood, Candice, Sonya and I got to go out for brunch sans the babies.  It was so much fun to have an actual conversation with the girls without any interruptions, not to mention we ate at IHOP (I haven’t eaten there in forever).  My breakfast included chocolate chip pancakes…yummy!  I used to always order the chocolate chip pancakes as a kid and loved them!!  I also remember feeling like I was going to yak after polishing off an entire plate of them back then.  Now that I am older and wiser (although I’m not so sure eating a pile of chocolate chip pancakes with whip cream is all that wise), I pair them with an egg and some sausage and the salt helps to tone down the sugar.  Voila!!








We grilled out for Tim’s birthday.  Okay, actually, I guess Tim grilled out for us on his birthday, in the freezing cold, battling a pretty bad cold himself.  Gosh, now that I think about it that doesn’t sound like a “happy” birthday at all.  Sorry about that Tim, I hope you’ll considering “celebrating” another birthday with us again sometime.  Thanks for being such a sport and for cooking some yummy kabobs!






















The day before we left, the weather warmed up a little bit so that we could enjoy the great outdoors at my dad and Linda’s new house.  The house really turned out beautiful!  I wish I had gotten more pictures of it (inside and out) for you all to see, but I forgot my camera battery charger and it died before I had a chance to take any more.  Here’s David, Landon and Dad using the telescope to search for birds.  I think they spotted an eagle perched on a tree in the lake below!! 










Jill and Khloee playing their own unique version of chess!









This was taken on our journey back up the mountain side after taking a walk down to the lake.  You can see part of their AMAZING view in the background.









Ben got to celebrate his birthday again!img_6556







 He got to play with more of his cousins…Kayla, Landon, Khloee…









…and Laci!  How cute is she with this doll…that she LOVES!!









Ben spent a whole lot of time playing in the entryway at their new place.  He absolutely LOVED it and the stairs!!!  It appears that Ben wasn’t the only one having lots of fun in the entryway…click here!  Thanks so much to everyone that made our trip so wonderful!  We love you and look forward to seeing many of you in St. Augustine in just a few short weeks!



Filed under Arkansas, Ben, Birthdays, Family, Food, Friends, Travel, Weather