Music City, USA

In the five years Tom and I have been married, we have made exactly zero trips to go see any of my siblings. While my brother was going to school in Boston, we swore we would make a fall break trip out there to see the leaves. But we didn't. Sensing a hint of hurt at our continued broken promises, we made good on one. We went to see my brother's family in their new (gorgeous) home in Nashville.

My mom decided she would come along too, and let me just say I've never been so grateful my brother and sister-in-law decided to swap their ritzy minivan for a 12-passenger beast. 

We made an hours-of-fun visit to Lucky Ladd Farms...

And celebrated the Grand Ole Opry's 91st birthday with Brad Paisley, The Whites, and my new faves The Secret Sisters...

We drove around lots of country roads singing "Rocky Top Tennessee" and let's not forget my man John Denver, and it was just what I wanted out of my first trip to Music City, USA.

We also managed to see some Civil War sites and visit Andrew Jackson's old plantation home (on Columbus Day, so we somehow managed to combine two of my not-so-favorite people with terrible actions toward Native Americans on the same day). 

Claire even survived (more importantly, I survived) her first airplane trip as a toddler, and she loved it! The suckers? They helped. 

However, I think we're all settled in for a long winter's hibernation from travel. 

I sure will miss scenes like this though...

Claire, cousins, and Aunt "Bat"

Peace, love, and John Denver,

 photo annsig2_zps8c22bb5f.jpg


Bali, Baby

Being not only my father's child, but also his protege in all things travel, Tom and I have been sitting on a surplus of frequent flier miles. Since our five-year anniversary was coming up, we tossed a few ideas for a trip around until we landed on the one: Bali. We started planning at the very beginning of the year when my dad was sick but not yet hospitalized. He had already made a complete itinerary for Bali and I can still hear his voice telling us he was jealous. 

So after all was said and done, we somehow managed to peel ourselves away from Claire while she stayed with her grandmas. I may have shed a tear while talking to the ticket counter employee, but after that I was good!

As a bit of a tribute to my dad, we did a lot of the things on his list but also made it our own. We stayed at a really nice, four-star hotel in Ubud that set us back a whopping $30 USD a night. 

On our anniversary, we booked a full-day couple's spa package that included a four-hand massage, body scrub, flower bath, spa lunch, facial, hair treatment and pedicure. That cost us $70... Wha?!

I've never been so relaxed in my life.

We topped off the day by going to the best restaurant in Bali, Mozaic. The food was unreal. The chef incorporated tons of flavors that are native to Bali, so there was so much that was unfamiliar yet knee-bucklingly delicious. Plus, one of the courses was described as pre-dessert so how could I not love a place that understands my needs so well?

Indian Ocean tiger prawns

We spend the rest of time exploring the Elephant Cave Temple, Mount Batur, rice terraces, and monkey forests while fitting in some one-on-one time with the beach. 

Rice terrace

Elephant Cave

Friendly neighborhood temple pt. 1

Friendly neighborhood temple pt. 2

Breakfast at Mount Batur

Monkey Forest in Ubud

I won't lie though, I was ready to bid the humidity adieu. So we made our way to Sydney. We were both so surprised by it. It was so clean and clear and beautiful, and I couldn't get over the architecture. Not only were there amazing New Orleans-esque homes, but really old and craggy looking buildings all mixed in with modern skyscrapers. Oh, and that one unforgettable bit of architecture...

I didn't think I would love Sydney as much as I did. I could bathe in the accents and the friendliness of the people and stare at Bondi Beach all day. 

It has the best creatures (well, except all the freaky and deadly ones...) and I really fell hard for the land down unda. 

Tom with some kangaroos

It's good to get away, but it's wonderful to come home. 

 photo annsig2_zps8c22bb5f.jpg


New home, new life

So we're in. We're settled. The new paint has dried and dust has settled. 

It has been great to have more space, but at the same time, it feels like too much. There is more to clean, and more ways to be isolated. My sister-in-law recently told me about how when their family moved from the two-bedroom extended stay place they were in to their new home, all of a sudden she was wondering where everyone was. 

It really got me thinking about how in America, square footage is king. You want enough space so that you could live your life and never see another member of the household. When Tom and I look for our "forever home," we usually look for somewhere with lots of bedrooms, but now I'm wondering if that's really what I want. The grass always does seem to be greener. 

I've also been lamenting the loss of my support system. I moved closer to my mom, but she is perpetually busy in what could only and without any sort of blame be described as a coping mechanism. Tom is always gone or busy with homework, and I've been left feeling sorry for myself. 

I decided that in order for me to feel like I have more time for myself, I'm going to have to carve it out. Even though I've been feeling super beat every morning since Claire and I had a mystery illness, I'm waking up at 5:45 to get cracking on the day. I'll report back on the progress!

 photo annsig2_zps8c22bb5f.jpg