New Orleans Day 1

Since we probably won't live this close to New Orleans again, we splurged and visited New Orleans last week for Spencer's last spring break as a student. I must have lived in a little western bubble growing up because I knew nothing about New Orleans until I started researching for our trip. Louisiana was the only state that was once a French colony and New Orleans was the only city where French was the predominant language for over a century. We loved the European feel, the food, the accents, and the jazz music playing constantly. We loved New Orleans!

We left last Tuesday morning and arrived early that afternoon. We had some time to kill before we could check into our hotel so we decided to go to Storyland. The description online said that "Fairytales and fantasy come to life before your eyes in City Park’s Storyland. This charming theme playground is a child’s dream come true filled with 25 larger-than-life storybook sculptures featuring classic fairytale characters."
 photo IMG_0621_zpsaa8c8b85.jpg  photo IMG_0638_zps82a93d98.jpg
 photo IMG_0606_zps74181d54.jpg
Turns out Storyland was about as epic as an average miniature golfing course. Jack spent most of the time hanging out in a firetruck that I don't think had anything to do with fairytales. At one point Spencer said, "We drove all the way to New Orleans to hang out in a firetruck?" We left shortly after that.
 photo IMG_0634_zps52785bb9.jpg  photo IMG_0646_zps9eb5e924.jpg After we checked into our hotel, we walked to a place I had read about called Oceana for dinner. Spencer got the shrimp creole and I got the red beans and rice. We both LOVED our meals. I had no idea rice and beans could have so much flavor!
 photo IMG_0649_zps73a1d43d.jpg  photo IMG_0648_zps2aa048a7.jpg
While most tourists partied at Bourbon Street, we spent the evening quietly in the bathroom waiting for Jack to fall asleep. Totally awesome.
FYI, I was sitting on a chair, not the toilet.
 photo f300e60c-4839-4d80-a701-33ed24de9c81_zps791ed483.jpg
Fun fact for the day: When I was 12 years old I decided that I was going to marry a tall, nerdy, red head. Another fun fact for the day: Spencer totally had a quarter life crisis this year (or a spiritual awakening as he calls it). One side effect was that he grew out his beard for the first time ever and his facial hair is totally red! I got my tall, nerdy, red head after all.
 photo photo326_zpsdaa63044.jpg

New Orleans Day 2
New Orleans Day 3


Running High!

I started running again last week! I love my new Garmin watch except that it tells me just how out of shape I really am! I didn't even know it was possible for me to run so slow, but that's okay because holy endorphins!!! I have been on a happy high all week long.
 photo e2b04b39-e6e4-42b1-823b-78fe0b257e15_zpsd67b56d7.jpg
For a while I thought I suffered from baby blues and pregnancy blues but now I'm thinking that I just suffered from not-being-able-to-run blues. I had to stop running when I was about 17 weeks pregnant and even though I swam laps and walked until my last month of pregnancy, it just wasn't the same. It's official - running is good for my mental health. I'm so grateful to be running again. My next race is a 7 miler in IOWA!!!


Spring Break beach trip

After David's blessing, we drove down to the beach to spend a week with my family. I love the gulf beaches! It has such a different feel from Southern California beaches so it is hard to even compare the two. I feel like I get a beach trip and a cabin in the woods trip all in one. My dad even saw deer the first day at the beach house! We had so much fun riding bikes, rollerblading, playing soccer, eating, swimming, and hanging out at the (freezing!) beach.

I think the drive from Birmingham to the Gulf may be one of my favorite drives ever. I love driving through the small southern towns and this has got to be one of my favorite signs!
 photo photo_zpsb2967668.png  photo IMG_0504_zpsb7057a32.jpg  photo IMG_0513_zps7fb62e67.jpg  photo photo59_zps38aa2dac.jpg  photo photo11_zpsce7b4bfb.jpg  photo photo316_zps916c7ee2.jpg  photo photo315_zpsafc46559.jpg
My dad makes THE BEST steak/salmon/hamburgers/pasta... we ate delicious food all week long and swallowed it down with Blue Bell Ice Cream... every single night! Now that's the way to live.
 photo photo124_zpsbe6d55d6.jpg  photo photo222_zps2d87ee49.jpg  photo photo130_zps21f164ac.jpg  photo photo133_zpsaef2b2be.jpg  photo photo232_zpsf578eaff.jpg  photo photo324_zpsd10b66d3.jpg  photo photo231_zps4f596505.jpg  photo photo516_zpsc7a5896e.jpg
Can you guess who lead us in an organized warm up before our super intense soccer game? (Elizabeth, of course.)
 photo photo417_zpsacb84b91.jpg

 photo photo323_zps342faafb.jpg
 photo photo322_zpsa774f598.jpg  photo IMG_0568_zps981ac840.jpg
It was so fun being all together for the first time in over two years! I kind of wish that Iowa was Arizona.
 photo IMG_0599_zpsd5d8ea57.jpg


David's Blessing

The night before David's blessing, we all went over to our angels'/Alabama grandparents' house for dinner and for a boat ride on their lake. We love the Van Kampens so so much.
 photo photo128_zpsd069f899.jpg  photo photo511_zps60a53b8a.jpg  photo photo414_zpsa7009b3d.jpg  photo photo510_zps1a7ccecf.jpg On Sunday, David was blessed and we are so grateful to our family and friends who were able to make it.
 photo IMG_0453_zpsc6e55d12.jpg  photo IMG_0473_zps269b62f8.jpg
(I think David is finally used to getting awkwardly loved to death by his brother.)
 photo photo317_zpsecbdbb27.jpg


The zoo and ugly faces

We feel so blessed that both of our families were able to come out for David's baby blessing. My in-laws came early Thursday morning before the blessing. While they were here we hit all of our favorite places to eat, the park, the zoo (of course) and Bass Pro Shop. They also watched the kids while I took a nap every single day they were here. I felt like a new woman with that extra sleep!

For the amount of time I spend talking about the zoo on this blog, I feel like I have done a pretty good job at holding off on the zoo pictures... Not today!!! Behold, the zoo photo dump:
 photo IMG_0344_zpscc0ff45c.jpg  photo IMG_0353_zps856a60f5.jpg  photo IMG_0359_zps8cfc6e56.jpg  photo IMG_0366_zps1b0905cb.jpg  photo IMG_0384_zpsf736d7bd.jpg  photo IMG_0403_zps75e50aba.jpg  photo IMG_0420_zpsf2b08fc5.jpg  photo IMG_0425_zps52360659.jpg  photo IMG_0443_zps2c1672e2.jpg
The only thing better than watching tractors for hours from your carseat is actually riding on one.
 photo photo228_zps44ddaa6a.jpg
Bass Pro Shop
 photo photo320_zps947e0ab7.jpg While we were having fun at the zoo on Thursday, my family began their trek across the country. My mom sent me a text saying that Elizabeth declared a "best selfie" competition and that I was supposed to be the judge...

 photo photo129_zps011bc71c.jpg

 photo photo13_zpsbb6b8b88.png
According to my instagram poll, Elizabeth was the winner. I wanted to participate in this competition as well so I sent this picture:
 photo IMG_2403_zpsabb41462.jpg
I received this text: "How do you take a selfie when both hands are on your cheeks? You cheated" and then I got disqualified.
 photo photo4_zps879335a6.png
Our selfie contributions:
 photo photo321_zpscccefd16.jpg  photo photo1_zps1d417b88.png
Not pictured on instagram:
Day 2 selfies (I think James is the winner here)
 photo photo319_zps73c5426d.jpg
 photo photo513_zpsc1f9f923.jpg

Day 3 selfies were just plain scary:
 photo photo121_zps87195f81.jpg 
 photo photo25_zps8a8da0bc.png
 photo photo313_zpsd7447416.jpg
A million selfies and 3 days of driving later, my family finally arrived! And if you arrived to the end of this post, I will not congratulate you, but wonder why you just waisted your time looking at zoo pictures and ugly selfies???