How to See Portland in Six Hours

Blue Star Donuts

I was pretty stoked to try Voodoo Donuts as it’s a place many friends recommended we visit when the heard we were traveling there. But, our Seattle native traveling partner insisted that Blue Star was the best donut in Portland.

When we first walked in, I was underwhelmed. It was way too clean, modern and sparkly white to have delicious fried balls of gooey dough to enjoy. Then I say the prices. $3.50-$5/donut?! What?! That’s what a whole dozen of Krispy Keene cost when I was a kid. Hesitantly, I ordered the Lemon Poppy Seed Buttermilk donut. My husband ordered a Meyers Lemon key lime donut. It looked like a hockey puck covered in powdered sugar. I also negotiated he get a carrot fritter too. This was a good call on my part. The carrot fritter was everything I want in a fancy donut- dimension, sweet balanced with carrot, plenty of moistness with a perfectly fried/crispy exterior. It took the cake (or donut) for our trip to Blue Star.

Pittock Mansion

This historic mansion offers so much to visitors. Free access to the grounds allows you a breathtaking overlook of downtown Portland. Even with mist and low clouds, we still were blown away by the far away views from the mansion’s front yard.

For $11 each (my five year old was free), we had a self guided tour of the mansion. It is filled with history of the city- damaging storms, immigrants, fires, floods, and rebuilding issues. I also loved seeing how the wealthy lived in the early 1900’s (husband and wife had separate bedrooms, closets and entire bathrooms). The hand carved, built in storage/furniture throughout the home is phenomenal.

If we’d had a longer time, I would have loved to hike some of the trails on property.

Tasty n Sons

Y’all, this southern gal loves a high filutin brunch. This place delivered x10. We sat at community table which was a bit awkward at first but everyone was really nice. To be honest, the menu was a bit mature for JB to be in tow, but we made do. I highly recommend the salmon platter, potatoes bravas, and radicchio salad.

Aerial Tram

This was a big hit for my 5 year old traveler. It’s a transportation option from WaterFront park up to the Hospital. The majority of the folks who use it are medical staff with a few tourists sprinkled in (🙋🏼‍♀️). The city views are incredible while riding over the city. At the top, we exited to see the city from the hospital outdoor deck.

That’s how we spent our 6 hours in Portland!

Xoxo,

Brooke

#Portland

Nashville Newbie on Broadway

Somehow, I made it 33 years without a visit to Nashville. (*I did attend a high school conference at the Opryland Hotel but this does not count.)

I knew there was a lot of live music in Nashville but I didn’t know there was a LOT of live music. At 10:45am, I was walking down Broadway and heard an extremely loud band playing in Nudie’s. No other bars had live music playing and it was especially exciting to hear as the weekend was quickly approaching. I was dressed in running shorts/shoes and I hesitated to enter, but I’m so glad I did. A five piece band was blaring tunes while folks cracked cold ones at the bar, kids danced and I swayed to the rock n roll.

Wait, it’s not even 11am, and I paid zero dollars to enter a bar with great live music. This is some kind of heaven. My first thought is, “we need to move here.” Followed by, “we need to retire here.” Then, “where can I go in Atlanta for live music before lunch time with my son?!” I was hooked and couldn’t wait to come back later that day after a lunch commitment.

Here is how it works (from what I can tell):

1. Bands play for tips at most of the bars on Broadway. They split the tips evenly among themselves.

2. They play their asses off to entertain and make as much in tips as possible. They don’t take breaks and often loop songs together to prevent lulls (aka giving people an opportunity to leave).

3. Twenty bucks buys you a song of your choice. Most bands have a huge playlist and many have phones/iPads strapped to their mics for lyrics when needed.

4. If you don’t like a song or band, then move along. We managed to hit ten bars in a 3 hour period.

5. If you like a band, tip them. I was in amazement of performers musical talent AND ability to also entertain.

6. Most bars play today’s country, but a few- especially Layla’s and Robert’s- play “authentic country”- think Merle Haggard. These are the best places to see a steel guitar at work.

7. Go early. The talent was great at 11am and got better throughout the day. The bars started getting crazy crowded around 10pm- think drunks and lots of body heat.

8. Wear whatever the heck you want. Everyone else does. Cut offs, flip flops, cowboy boots, jeans and dresses are everywhere. Don’t dress to impress. Dress for dancing your butt off and being sweaty.

9. It seemed that most bands played 4 hour sets. When they are done, they try to get the next band set up as quickly as possible so the bar doesn’t empty in search of other good music.

10. We only paid cover ($5) at one place- a dueling piano bar. There, your song choice and cash tip get lined up in order of amount paid. Want to hear something quickly? Ante up $20 or more and your request usually jumps to the top of the queue.

11. Bachelorette parties are everywhere. And they all have matching t-shirts or tank tops. Keep your distance.

12. The people watching is amazing. I’ll leave it at that.

That’s what I learned as a Nashville Newbie on Broadway. Can’t wait to go back!

Air Travel with Littles

My air travel posse usually consists of my husband, me and our five year old son.  We have taken him on several domestic flights in his short life and one international trip (so far) to Ireland.  I have learned a few things from our travels that I want to share with you in hopes of making your future trips a bit easier too.

Most people who know me, know that I am a planner.  This is very true when it comes to taking trips. I start prepping several days before the trip with to do lists and packing lists.  Then, I start laying out clothes and items to pack at least 3 days beforehand. Whenever I pack in a rush, I forget important things and end up at the beach with only sports bras to wear with my strapless sun dress.

Carseats

My husband and I are pretty risk adverse when it comes to carseats.  Yes, they can be a pain to travel with and having them beat up by baggage carriers is a risk.  However, the idea of getting into a car accident at your destination and not having your child in a secure seat is very scary.  

When we flew to Ireland, we had planned to let our son ride in his carseat on the plane. BUT, the flight company said it was against company policy to let children OVER the age of 4 use a car seat.  Our son turned four TEN days before the trip. Thankfully, we had a carseat bag with us so we were able to gate check the carseat. As he has gotten older, we have switched to the Safe Rider vest. We are big fans of it.  It keeps him safe, is easy to attach to a carry on and is easy to install in cars.

Packing Tips

In general, I like to keep like things together.  Huh?  I’ll say it another way… similar items should be packed together.  

Checked Bags

For me, everyone having their own checked bag is the best practice.  I pack clothes, shoes, toiletries, hair supplies, hats, swim suits, blankets/pillows, and jewelry* in this suitcase.  I have tried to pack all of us in one large suitcase but found it unsuccessful. It was hard to keep organized and to find what was needed.  Plus, if we all sleep in different places than where the bag is, I inevitably end up creeping into a sleeping room armed with my iphone as a flashlight to dig out clean pajamas.  I also think traveling with three smaller bags is easier than one large bag.

*I do not pack my rubies, diamonds, and large sapphires in checked bag- I carry those on.

Carry On Bags

My favorite type is a good, ole fashioned book bag.  It’s easy to wear, keeps your hands free and easy to organize.  I do not like tote bags as they tend to get too heavy and hurt my shoulder from extended use.  

Everyone’s carry on bag needs a set of underwear, t-shirt and athletic shorts/pants. This is for your worst case scenario: your luggage doesn’t arrive.  If we are headed somewhere tropical, then I toss in a bathing suit too. If we are headed somewhere wet (like Seattle or Ireland), then I make sure our light weight rain jackets are inside the carry on bags.  All of the “emergency” items get packed first (ie: at the bottom) of the bag.

Entertainment items are packed next- books, tablets, headphones, games, stickers, etc.  Finally, I pack snacks, eye masks, neck pillows and electronics’ chargers so they are easily accessible on top.  

Bring Your Own Water Bottle

I am a big fan of everyone having a reusable water bottle.  Keep it empty until after you go through security at the airport.  Then, I fill them up at a water fountain before the flight.  This is helpful as full glasses of water can easily spill during turbulence on a flight and it’s also to have a lot of water in case of delays.  Yes, you can also buy bottled water but I’d rather save my money for beer.

Also, be sure one of your carry on bags has medicine packed in it (more on this below).  If you don’t feel well during the flight, your medicine being packed under the plane doesn’t help much.

Day Packs

I love using a back pack (aka our carry on) as our day pack.  You can easily wear it around or stick it in the trunk of your rental car when not needed.

Be Prepared

Even though my son is five, he still gets dirty or wet and needs a change of clothing when we are out and about.  I keep a change of clothes (pants, top, undies, socks) in a grocery bag tucked into the bag.  Many times, this is the same bag from his carry on.  When we are out exploring and he decides to run in the ocean or start jumping into rain puddles, I don’t freak out nearly as much.  No biggie. Just change the clothes and restock the bag as soon as we get back to the hotel.  The grocery bag also doubles as a great place to store wet, nasty clothes before they make it back to the laundry room.

Medicine

We have a bag of meds that we carry with us on trips.  Advil, immodium, cough drops, cough syrup, and basic child meds.  I also keep sunscreen and a first kit in this bag. You never know when you may need something, so keep it with you.  

Snacks

We keep 6-8 snacks in a gallon sized ziplock. It makes seeing the options easy and prevents Hangry meltdowns- for both kids and adults.  Depending on the length of the trip, I add snacks to it over the trip- a few freebies from the flight, an orange from a hotel, etc. If I need to buy some, I can easily do that at a convenient store.  We also fill our water bottles each morning before we head out.  Much easier/cheaper than buying bottled water.

Summary

Keep lots of snacks around, a charged tablet, and clean clothes and you will keep most folks happy on your trip 🙂

What tips do you have to share when traveling with a kiddo?

learn,  brooke

Waterfront Stay on Camano Island

You may find this funny- and feel free to laugh- but I first heard of Camano Island, WA because of HGTV. I was watching an episode of Beach Front Bargain Hunt and really liked the views. I knew we were coming to Seattle for spring break so I started combing through AirBNB to find a good spot. And boy did we ever!

This was the view from the back yard. Just breathtaking. The house is located on the inner curve of a “C” of coast line so it had 180 degrees of ocean from the sunroom.

At first, JB was disappointed that it wasn’t a sandy beach (like southeast coasts) but once he realized how many rocks and shells there were to look at, his mind was changed.

We visited Camano State Park Beach and enjoyed seeing the views from different points of the island. We also visited Cama Beach where many summer vacation dreams must come true as the little village is set up for a summer of kids playing horseshoes, corn hole, swinging, and swimming right next to the Puget Sound.

Even though it rained (a lot) most of the time we were on the island, we still managed to bundle up and walk a good bit to take in the sights/sites.

Thanks to a visit at Trader Joe’s, we ate at the AirBNB for most of our meals. But, we did enjoy afternoon treats at the Camano Island Marketplace. I highly recommend the Chocolate Au Pain from the bakery.

It felt a little sad to be in such a beautiful place during the off-season, but we hope to come back in warmer months to fully experience the excitement that the island must host each summer

Xoxo,

Brooke

Ode to Jack Jack

Jacqueline Elizabeth Cadle was born February 11, 1988 and she was my first shot at being a big sister. Because we grew up in the south, we always had to wear matching dresses, hairbows, and shoes. We didn’t look much alike with my straight hair and her super curly hair but those outfits would have made you look twice.

As we grew up, Jackie and I often did not get along. We were constantly bickering and my mom had had enough. We were at a neighbor’s house with lots of sporting equipment. We were fighting over who could use the plastic baseball bat. Finally, mom was so frustrated with refereeing us, mom let Jackie and I take our frustrations out on one another with those baseball bats. And boy did we go to town hitting each other, screaming and shouting. We were all shocked- even mom. That’s what big sisters do…. beat the crap out of her little sister with a plastic baseball bat.

One time, Jackie went to visit our neighbor, Leonna Printup, at her home. I was out riding my bike and noticed a long snake draped over the railing of Leonna’s house with its head resting on her front porch mat. I raced home to tell my mom so she could call Leonna’s house and warn Jackie of the snake. Otherwise, she may have been bitten when leaving Leonna’s house. That’s what big sisters do… keep their little sister from being bit by a snake.

As Jackie got older, she often followed in the footsteps of me, her older sister. We served as FCCLA state officers together. But after I went to college, Jackie set a new Cadle sister record by becoming the FCCLA state President. I was super proud! That’s what big sisters do… cheer on their little sister to new accomplishments.

On one of the best days of my life, Jackie was standing next to me as my maid of honor while I married Peck. I had chosen sunflowers for all of our bouquets. Mine was especially large and it was HEAVY. It weighed so much, that my arms were shaking while the preacher rambled on through his “short” homily. I made the decision to hand the bouquet to Jackie who gracefully took it with a smile. That’s what big sisters do… get their little sister to help when things get too heavy.

Jackie was at the hospital when I had JB and she was in love with him from that moment on. Although JB doesn’t get to see her much, she has a special place in his heart. He loves reading the inscriptions of the many books that she and Ryan have given him as gifts. He likes to see photos of his “cousin puppy”, Sadie, as she travels all over the country. But what he loves most of all is her love and affection when we visit. She offers the perfect balance of love and discipline that each little boy needs. He loves playing in the yard with Jackie and Sadie. They all laugh hysterically as they throw the frisbee and run around together. That’s what good aunts do… they make great memories with their nephew.

On Jackie’s big day, I got to stand beside her as her Matron of Honor as she married her prince, Ryan Padilla. Everyone knows that I love my husband and Sam, but Ryan was the best addition to our family. He balances Jackie out so much. He has a never ending love for her and gives her so much love, affection and affirmation. Jackie blossomed when She became Mrs Padilla and we were all thrilled to see her so happy.

Jackie and I have spent lots of time together outside of our home state of Georgia including London and Seattle. But my favorite trip was to visit her and Ryan in Alaska. Jackie and I spent several days together exploring the scenic beauty of Alaska, catching up, laughing as we experienced new things, taking tons of photos, and rocking out to Taylor Swift driving through the Turnagain. It was fun to see a snapshot of Alaska life- her gym/social club, eating lots of fresh crab meat, hearing about her job, and seeing where she had spent a previous summer doing missions work. It was a fantastic trip for many reasons. That’s what sisters do… have fun together.

So today, on Jackie’s 30th birthday, I wrote these words full of love and memory. I’m proud of the woman you’ve become. You are a loving wife, kind sister and wonderful aunt. Cheers to you, the most STRIKING Cadle sister, today and everyday!

love, brookie

Experiences Over Stuff

I have been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts this year.  Most of you know that I try to declutter, clean out and donate as frequently as possible.  In an effort to buy less stuff and experience more in life, I did some deep thinking about what experiences mean the most to me in hopes of being able to focus on those things more in 2018.

Quality time. When I think back to some of my favorite memories this year, I think of trips with friends, game nights, dance parties with my son, girls night out, tailgates, football games, celebrating birthdays, time with family, and being in a small group.  All of these times together have strengthened relationships, built memories and brought so much joy to my life!

Travels.  Some of the coolest places I have stayed while traveling are at airbnbs.  I stayed in someone’s basement in Alaska… doesn’t sound fancy… but you could see the Northern Lights from its window.  Pretty damn cool.  Or the house that we spent 4 days with good friends in Ireland… that was built over 200 years ago and every inch of architecture was amazing.  Traveling makes me have a greater appreciation of others, how small we all are in this big world, and a better understanding of geography/cultures/food/etc.

Sunsets.  Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a sunset.  You can watch a sunset every day for a week and none of them would look the same.  My favorite part is once the sun is down seeing all the colors reflecting off the clouds.  The best.  And if I can watch a sunset over next to a body of water, even better.

Fishing.  This experience is one that I don’t do nearly enough.  I love the feel of the sun and the wind blowing as I cast out my line and anxiously wait to see what I may bring in.  Fishing at low tide is my favorite.  You get to see so much in the water- blue crabs, sharks feeding, stingrays, and occasionally dolphins will swim by.  

Tennis. I can’t believe I am this old… but I have been playing tennis for over 25 years.  I love the competition, the sweat, the strategy, and the fun.  Plus, this year my baby sis has been my partner- so QT too!  I love that you can play 42 deuce points in one game and then when the next game 40-0.  I love that you might lose today but beat the same opponent tomorrow.  And the best part is it’s a lifetime sport- from young to old.

What experiences mean the most to you?  How can you fill your life with more of those and focus on less stuff?

love, brooke

Ode to My Bean Boots

In the beginning, I was so hesitant to buy them.  They are definitely a financial commitment but every time I got ready to go on a trip that threatened rain, I would get frustrated by my shoe options.  I wanted a pair of truly waterproof shoes (many of my “rain” boots had sprung leaks after long term wear.  I wanted something that could go with jeans or with leggings.  I wanted something that would last and I finally was at the point that I didn’t care what I spent to make this dream come true.

My mom has a pair of waterproof LL bean rain shoes that she has had for over 30 years and it was a good reminder that they last a long time.  I knew if her LL bean investment was still paying off, then it was ok for me to pull the trigger too.  So, after years of wishing/wanting a solid pair of waterproof boots, I decided to make the financial jump to bean boot ownership.

I celebrated a year of boot ownership a couple weeks ago and thought it would be fun to remember all the fun that we have had together over the last year!

Ireland- September 2016

FullSizeRender (22)I bought the boots right before this trip because I knew it was going to rain a lot… as it does in Ireland.  I was nervous pulling the trigger so close to a trip and taking up valuable luggage real estate for shoes that I had never worn before.  Thankfully, the shoes did their job and kept my feet warm and dry.  It was POURING down rain on football game day (Boston College vs Georgia Tech).  We had to hike through Trinity College to wait in line to catch a shuttle to the stadium, then march to the stadium… all in soaking wet conditions.  FullSizeRender (23)We were prepared to continue to be soaked DURING the game.  (Mind you we had JB with us too) and I almost cried when we got in the stadium and we learned that our seats were covered and we were dry!  The game was incredible and drinking cold Irish cider while watching college football is also a pretty nice thing too!

 

Alaska- October 2016

FullSizeRender (21)

My sister, Jackie, and her husband moved to Anchorage in September.  I decided that I REALLY wanted to visit them BEFORE the snow set in for the winter… so with about 5 weeks notice, I booked a flight to go visit them.  Well, I didn’t quite beat the snow as it snowed the day that I arrived, but thankfully it did not snow more while I was there.  So, I got to experience seeing snow but not a lot of driving/maneuvering through it.

7927289F-F5AA-4C07-B69B-173F61B2A535Of course, this was the first time the bean boots got to meet snow.  I prepared for this by buying boot liners and wore thick wool socks (thankfully I bought a half size up so they would fit) and my feet stayed warm the whole time.  That is pretty impressive considering the temps were between 8-28 degrees during the my visit.  The boots got to watch the sunset over Denali, hike along the Turn Again south of Anchorage, and visit a rescued moose.  The boots also got to wear Yaks which were awesome in preventing me from busting my butt on icy conditions.  (The boot soles are rubber and can be slippery/dangerous on wet/icy conditions).

6723EF59-0795-4849-963A-25E83F8C97F2 (1)Denver- December 2016

We flew to Denver for a friend’s wedding and of course the boots had to come.  The temps were moderate- but I knew they would keep my feet dry and I could walk miles in them with no problem.

 

The Women’s March- January 2017IMG_0275

These boots were made for walking… and that’s just what they did.  The morning started out as a monsoon and mud EVERYwhere.  It ended with 60,000 people calmly walking through the great streets of Atlanta to support women’s health, refugees, education, and numerous other causes… while the sun was brightly shining.  Hearing John Lewis speak in front of the Civil and Human Rights museum was pretty powerful as well.  Here is my post for more on this special event.

Manitou Springs- April 2017

The boots were perfect for this trip!  We had snow twice, did a good bit of walking/hiking, and they even took the train up the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak.

 

Happy Birthday to my Bean Boots!  We have done so much together and I don’t regret buying you at all.  Can’t wait to see what other adventures we have in store together!

love, brooke

Ode to Claire

Claire’s love for texting and my never ending texting skills became an instant match.  I’d estimate that we text 100 times back and forth each day.  My husband would say that is a low estimate.  

I officially met her while she was six months pregnant with her second son and working the check out at our church consignment sale.  She and Scott had visited our Sunday school class before but if not yet had a conversation with them.  Fast forward to the Sunday before Christmas, and I saw them at the 8:30am service.  After the service, I asked if they were coming to Sunday School and was informed that Claire wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think she could sit through the class.  I later learned that she was in labor and Cabell was born two days later.

It took me 4 months to finally take Claire a meal after having Cabell.  I was so embarrassed it took me that long.  Claire was so appreciative because Scott was traveling and she didn’t have to cook while solo parenting.  That’s when I realized that she was also a stay at home mom.  We started hanging out more through church and play dates and slowly became good friends.  

claire4Claire and I have so much in common.  We are both the oldest of three girls and raised outdoors- fishing, playing in the woods, and working in the garden.  Both of our fathers are outdoorsmen who were lucky enough to end up with three daughters.  They taught us to fish, get dirty, and love being outside.  We both love cold beer, good food, Jesus, the ocean, and spending time with our family and friends.  

claire2Claire’s house was being remodeled for a tv show in July 2015 and she had to move her family out for two weeks.  I invited her and the boys to join JB and I at my family’s C shack on the GA coast.  I thought I knew her pretty well, but vacationing with someone makes you get to know them really well.  Thankfully, in this case, that was a good thing.  I had expected Claire to be like most of my friends; to have never seen a crab trap before, tossed a cast net nor know much about fishing.  Instead, she could identify many more fish than me and can throw an 8 foot cast net (I can only throw a 5 footer).  I learned that many of her childhood vacations were to south Florida for fishing and crabbing.  Her love of crabs became apparent that week with her help in not only catching them but also in cleaning them (aka the dirty work).  The night we ate the crabs, we both sat at the table for an hour drinking beer and raving about how good the crabs were.  Our boys were running all around us like crazy but we could not lose focus until all the crabs were eaten.  That would have been a total sin.  

claire6Claire is a runner.  And she is fast.  We “trained” together for my second half marathon.  She’d run pushing a stroller (I didn’t have one) and was still kind enough to slow down and allow me to keep up.  We’ve done numerous races “together”.  Claire is always standing at the finish line waiting on me and cheering me on.  It always feels good to have someone at the finish but Claire makes you feel like you were the best runner there- even if 15,000 people have already finished before you (this is true for my races).

Claire is a cheerleader.  Literally, she was a high school cheerleader, but figuratively, she is now a cheerleader of life.  She is an original encourager of my blog.  Recently, she read a book and said, “Brooke- you could write this better than the author did.”  This is very kind of her since I have never written a book.  She was one of the first Luma testers and immediately wrote a 5 star review.  If you tell Claire that you want to do something, she will help you do it.  She encouraged me to go to Alaska to visit my sister and then watched JB two afternoons while I was gone so Peck wouldn’t miss work.  Everyone needs a friend like Claire.

claire10Claire is an encourager.  As we all know, life has its ups and downs.  Claire always sees the glass as half full.  When you are feeling down, she helps lift you up.  When you want to talk or vent, she is always ready and able to listen.  The year or so around Luma starting was very difficult for me.  Lots of transitions and loneliness with my husband needing to work so much.  Claire provided so much encouragement during this time and wisdom.  She has been a big part of helping me through the start-up widow life.

claire7Claire loves my son like another child.  She gives him so much encouragement, love and direction.  He loves play dates at her house and she always has the best snacks.  Since JB was gluten free most of his life, she always made sure he had a special sweet treat at her boys’ birthday parties or other events.  Making sure he didn’t feel left out was always so sweet of Claire.  

Claire is a lover.  She loves her family mightily and her friends too.  She is constantly checking on others and providing support when she can.  When I lost my grandmother, Claire was the first one to bring us a meal.  When someone in our family is sick, she is the first to drop off groceries or cupcakes.  She takes a meal to every family she knows as soon as they have a baby.  Even people she doesn’t even know.  Anything she can do to help or show love to others, she is happy to do.

Claire is a prayer warrior.  It doesn’t matter the size or concern- she is happy to lift it up in prayer.  She prays for you even when you don’t ask or know it.  I challenged her to do a prayer journal during Lent.  She did it everyday and has continued to.  I wish her consistency and diligence will rub off on me!

claire3Claire is a busy bee.  She goes hard from the (early) moment she wakes up until the end.  She is her own housekeeper and has a well executed plan of cleaning the same part of her house on the same day each week to keep up with things.  She will push a double stroller with two boys in it on a 4 mile trek to drop one off at preschool.  At 37.5 weeks pregnant with twins, Claire was out walking the 4th of July neighborhood parade.  Later, she went home to “rest” but still ended up making a homemade flag cookie cake.  That pretty much sums it up.

IMG_2658Claire is so humble.  She does what she is called to do without wanting any attention.  She was a VBS co-director this year and didn’t want any public attention for her hard work.  If you give her a compliment, she is a bit hesitant to accept it and likely to respond with “you are sweet.”  If I had to guess, she is probably a bit embarrassed to be reading this post about herself.

claire5Claire is the most amazing mom.  She always has some fun outing planned for her boys and makes fun out of the most mundane tasks- like grocery shopping.  Her patience (especially as a mom of two little guys) runs deep and she rebounds quickly.  I envy her resilience and out pouring of love in situations where I’d probably just give up and walk away.  On another family vacation, my husband admired her patience.  It’s this amount of love and grace that made God know she’d be the perfect mom to not only two boys but twin girls too.  Of all my friends, I truly believe that Claire has the positivity and strength to not only “get by” as a mom of four children aged 5 and under- but to also thrive.  

Claire, we are all raising our glasses to you and Scott in the coming months. We are here to help any way you will let us.  So proud of you and thankful to have you as my BFFL.  Can’t wait to meet your beautiful girls.  Scott is in big trouble if they are as pretty, smart and sweet as you and your sisters!

love, brooke

It’s Been a Year

I know that many of us spend time being on the water- at the lake, river, beach, or ocean. I love being water side because it is so peaceful and relaxing. I still feel this way but our accident last year forever changed how I view the water. Yes, it is beautiful to look at but it can be incredibly overwhelming and never ending. Waves don’t stop, water gets deep quickly, and even though you may feel in control, you are not with that much water around you. Through this experience, I have gained a healthy amount of respect for the strength and magnitude of water.  

Our boat accident happened a year ago today. It was such a random and freak occurrence that I don’t think it could be duplicated if we tried. I’ve gone over that day in my head hundreds of times and each time realized or learned something new. I am also more sensitive to other’s boating/water stories and photos on social media. I wanted to put together my thoughts on what I have learned and recognized over the last year in hopes of helping prevent a similar accident again.

Life Jackets

  • I know many of you read my Plea for Life Jackets post several weeks ago. So I will just quickly say- all children who are on a dock or boat should be wearing an appropriately sized life jacket.
  • If you are on a commercial boat with your child, do not hesitate to request a life jacket for them. Even if the crew says you don’t need one… the seas are calm… blah blah blah- demand a life jacket. We went on a very rough sightseeing boat tour in Ireland and I am so thankful we demanded a life jacket for our son. The children’s life jackets were stored in the downstairs main cabin, behind a metal door, and inside a wooden cabinet. Once the crewman got that far, he still had to dig through several to find a child sized jacket. Personally, that is not an easily accessible life jacket location. My heart is racing just thinking about him struggling to find one. I can only imagine what would (or wouldn’t happen) if the boat was in some sort of accident. So, let my lesson be yours too- get a life jacket for your kid or get off the boat (which is what we almost did with the initial push back we got from the crew).
  • For adults, always know where the life jackets are kept and know how to access them.
  • If you ever are on a boat and feel uncomfortable, put on a life jacket. It can’t hurt.

Safe Boating

  • I am not really a big fan of boating on major holidays- Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends. There are a lot of people on the water and many of them have no clue what they are doing. If you do want to go boating those days, I prefer to go early in the morning and be back right after lunch. Cracking a cold one or two or seven on the boat is very popular but mixing alcohol, fast boats, and lots of people is a bad equation. Boating early helps prevent this scenario from occurring.
  • If for some reason you are on a boat that flips over, know that there is likely an air pocket under the boat where people may be trapped. Yes, this sounds scary (and it was) but they have air to breathe and can talk to one another there. It is important for rescuers to realize where this air pocket is under the boat so they can zoom in on where to look during the rescue. (Side note: When our boat flipped over, we quickly realized that some people were missing and were trapped underneath the boat. I immediately knew we had to get them out and the clock was ticking (I did not know about the air pocket). Thanks to watching Baywatch as a child, I knew I’d have to dive down under the boat to search for arms/legs. Who knew that Baywatch would be so helpful 25 years later?)
  • If you go out on a boat, know where you get on the boat (i.e., name of marina, boat ramp, house address, etc). If something happens and your original captain can’t drive you home, you will be able to tell someone else where you need to go. You may not know how to get there but will atleast have an idea of the general vicinity.

A year later…

I am happy to say that my son happily jumped back on this boat for a ride yesterday. He did not hesitate. I thank God for his resilience in being back on the water in that same boat again.  

We have not yet gone back to the location of the accident. I am not sure when/if I will. I know that time is helping to heal things though. For me, getting back on the boat several times over the last year has been a big deal. I will not let this accident scare me away from the water. But, I will take what I have learned to be even safer when boating. I hope you will all do the same!

love & learn, brooke

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