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."
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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.
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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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Can you guess who lead us in an organized warm up before our super intense soccer game? (Elizabeth, of course.)
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It was so fun being all together for the first time in over two years! I kind of wish that Iowa was Arizona.

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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.
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On Sunday, David was blessed and we are so grateful to our family and friends who were able to make it.
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(I think David is finally used to getting awkwardly loved to death by his brother.)
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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:
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The only thing better than watching tractors for hours from your carseat is actually riding on one.
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Bass Pro Shop
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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...
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According to my instagram poll, Elizabeth was the winner. I wanted to participate in this competition as well so I sent this picture:
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I received this text: "How do you take a selfie when both hands are on your cheeks? You cheated" and then I got disqualified.
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Our selfie contributions:
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Not pictured on instagram:
Day 2 selfies (I think James is the winner here)
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Day 3 selfies were just plain scary:
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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???