On our way home from Savannah, after two hours of carpool karaoke with 80’s and 90’s country music, we decided to make a quick stop in St. Augustine. I mean when one of the top ten places in the world according to National Geographic to look at Christmas lights is close to our route, why not?!?!? Let me just say, they did not disappoint. It was AMAZING! The atmosphere, the lights, the sounds, the colonial feel mixed with modern, this place should be on everyone’s Christmas bucket list.
St. Augustine is the first permanent settlement by Europeans in America. Pedro Menendez established it in 1565. The pilgrims didn’t even land on Plymouth till 1620. It also is home to the first Catholic Parish, the first city government, first port for transatlantic trade, and we must include the first hospital and tavern. To say this place has history is an understatement. They have done an amazing job of keeping the “old” feel. There is an area of town near the forts that is called the Colonial Quarter.
There were Christmas Light tours that were packed with people. They were driving all around the area blaring and singing Christmas music while yelling Merry Christmas at all the passersby. If it stood still in this area it had Christmas lights on it, but in a very magical less tacky way.
I am so glad we took a detour on the way home. We will for sure have to go back when we have more time. The amount of things this town has to offer will for sure take up a couple weekends. I am glad this know about a place to explore two hours from our house. Have you ever found a gem close to your house?
Since we are SO far away from family and should only really close on Thanksgiving day... Josh and I compromised, we closed Thursday and Friday and drove up to Savannah, GA for an amazing southern Thanksgiving.
As you can see in the previous post, I put up the Christmas tree, a little early. I know, I know, but after being in Australia, and no one there really celebrating Thanksgiving, we really came to enjoy the Christmas decorations starting at the start of November. I mean if you are going to spend that much, why not enjoy as long as possible. HA!
The other day we did finally take a small break from work and head over to Disney Springs. Now, if you are a old Disney fan this is the former Downtown Disney, but if you are like me and had never done ANYTHING Disney, it was all new. Some of my cousins (Joyce, Doug, Abby (their daughter), her family, Hunter (their son) and his family) from Arkansas text us and let us know they were coming for the week. We decided to drive the looooong, one hour drive, to Disney, eat at the T-Rex cafe, play with Legos, and honestly meet their kids. I am so embarrassed to say I had never met any of their kiddos.
If you know me very well at all, you know I am pretty much an open book. Ask me whatever and I will tell you, sometimes you don't even have to ask me, as a kid we had to have secrets between home life and school life, and I made myself a promise, never again. I really don't have many secrets, life is just too short. Josh and I actually laugh now about all the things I told him about my life on our first date, but hey he called for a second date a month later. (It was both of our worst dates ever, but that is a whole different story)
I say all of this to say, I have probably told you the story about us getting robbed, but to be frankly honest with you, it NEVER really bothered me, or even cried about it until I put up the tree this year. It is crazy how things hit you.
I did tell Josh I did not want the tree up in our house, so I had kind of noticed I was associating the tree with the robbery, but just ignored it. I guess the association is new though, because I loved the tree so much it actually made it in the small storage room, to be saved while we were in Australia, but I guess time changes feelings. This year while I was fluffing the tree I just had a over whelming feeling of emotion about how lucky I was to actually be fluffing the limbs again. I know....the worst part of tree trimming.
We decided to share our family/friend tradition with people in Florida who have welcomed us with open arms. In Australia there is a show that we loved to watch, My Kitchen Rules, the contestants need to grocery shop, prepare their "home restaurant," cook and get ready in a certain amount of time. That was exactly us, we have been running around so busy lately, we didn't have time to do all the pre-party prepping. The pictures below are honestly taken 30 minutes before everyone got to our house.
St. Jude was my first marathon and will always hold a special place in my heart. Anyone I talk about St. Jude Marathon weekend, I get goosebumps. The humble feeling when running through the complex, giving high five to patients, parents, and care givers is incredible. Letting them know they are the true heroes is a feeling everyone should experience. I love the amazing feeling of encouraging the families and letting them know, they are not alone. It is a weekend everyone should attend in their lifetime. I always tell people when asked about the marathon, “If you can run that marathon without crying, you are NOT human.” The weekend is a true definition of community in every sense of the word. I have so many amazing memories from training with friends, reading the signs during the race, and the environment of just being there.
I got an email last week from someone who follows my blog, but not my personal social media accounts, and she wanted an update......SO, well, in a last second ditch Matthew turned and weakened. For some reason, our area was spared. From everything I have read they say 20 miles is what really made the difference. 20 miles. I mean let that sink in for a bit, every article says twenty miles is what saved us from total destruction. Think about the town that is only 20 miles away from you, not really that far. The only real damage we had was our sign fell down. How lucky were we?!?! I was overcome with an incredible feeling of gratitude, hopefulness, and thankfulness, while also full of questions and sadness.
As we were evacuating I decided to take a couple of pictures of our rent house for documentation purposes, but hey why not share them. I finally have a little bit of time to blog.
I have thought about this post over and over, but to be completely honest with you, I have not had time to type it. Since I have been back in America it has been a crazy whirlwind adventure. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off would be an understatement. Mom and I landed in Little Rock from our Thailand trip around 8:00 pm and Josh and I left on this Florida adventure around 10:00 pm that same night. Yes, you read that correctly. We had about a two hour turn around. Josh was loaded and ready to go!
I should have taken Josh being so ready to go and eager as a sign of what was to come. Once we arrived in Florida, I have jumped through all the hoops to get certified to teach here. Florida is really expensive to get certified, but for the most part took all of my Arkansas certifications. I ONLY had to pay around $1,000 and take two tests. Everything came down to the line, literally. I took one test, and started work the next day.