5 on friday: travel highlights

My days are seriously mixed up. After 3 weeks in South Africa where I didn't have to track time, days, or work, I really lost track of where (and when) we are. But, apparently, it's Friday again, or so my watch tells me. I'm going to detail our trip more thoroughly in the coming days, but I can't think a better way to kick off all the recaps than wrap up our top five moments of our travels this past month. I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Flying to South Africa was an adventure this time. When I booked our flights, I knew we obviously needed the boys' passports. I did not, however, see that South Africa had changed their policies and required original birth certificates, as well. We showed up to fly on the 8th of December, and we weren't allowed to board because we didn't have them. After our amazing neighbor scanned them for me, and we got them notarized, we were able to fly on the 9th instead - only missing one day of our trip. It was early in the morning, and we were all exhausted when we connected in London, but we saw some incredible sights, including the Eye of London in all its glory.

2 // Christmas wasn't all that Christmas-y in South Africa, but the malls were definitely decked out in all their finery. My cousin, Angie, told us about the Mickey Mouse Christmas tree at Menlyn Mall in Pretoria, so we decided to head over there one evening to surprise our biggest Mickey fan. Needless to say, Spencer was totally in awe, acted like it was the second coming of Christ, and screamed with joy for several minutes.

3 // We made a point of seeing as much as possible around the Pretoria area (where my family is) while we were there. We stayed with my aunt and uncle, but my aunt isn't in the best health, and she relies heavily on oxygen these days. So, we didn't get to travel as much as we wanted to. Luckily, there are a lot of things nearby so the boys could see the animals without traveling too far. We headed to Krugersdorp to the Lion & Safari park, and I was able to pet a baby lion, and we saw one climb a tree. Too cool!

4 // If you follow me on instagram, you've probably seen it, but we ran into a big ol' South African roadblock at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve one day, and it was too funny. We also had lunch there at the old camphouse, and it was the best. The boys found a stump upon which to entertain all our fellow diners with their rendition of the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse. It was charming (and hilarious), coupled by their fantastic shirts.

Boys' Shirts - Crazy 8 (similar here)

5 // The whole darn trip was lovely, and though we were definitely ready to come home, it was so great being able to share this world with my boys. We went to the Voortrekker Monument one of our last days there, and though I've been a few times before, seeing the views of Pretoria and the land my momma is from was just so special. It was beautiful, and I'm so glad we had this opportunity to spend time together in this wonderful country.

We really had such a great time, and though we're decompressing for a few days in New Hampshire, we're heading back to New York to get the ball rolling on PCS season tomorrow. It's going to be full-speed ahead for the next 6-8 months before we move, and I'm excited, nervous, scared, and so so ready to see what's next for this little family of mine.

I hope you all had fantastic holidays, and I can't wait to catch up! xo

christmas in south africa

Hi friends! It's been a minute. We got back around 2 AM this morning after a whirlwind 30 hours of traveling. We're spending the next couple days here in New Hampshire with my parents, then we'll be heading back to New York this weekend. I have so much to share about our trip to South Africa, and I'll be getting down to it in the next few days. But today, I just want to recount our Christmas spent overseas this year.

Christmas was different this year, as we spent it at the La Montagne Guest Lodge in Hartbeespoort, South Africa. Rather than a snowy Christmas like we usually experience in New England, it was 95 degrees, and we spent the day in the pool overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam. Christmas was also our second to last day in South Africa, so we kind of rushed through the whole day - just trying to soak up the sun and family time before we packed (last-minute, of course).

La Montagne offered an incredible Christmas brunch for guests, and we were a group of about 30 there for the 4-hour time offering. From roast beef to braised chicken, fillets of fish and beyond, the meal was incredible. They had delicious sides, fantastic desserts, and the staff was friendly and inviting - even with the noise and activity we all made them endure. 

Spencer and Porter loved being able to swim on Christmas day. To be fair, I don't think they even had a clue it was Christmas, but dang it, they had fun. Ryan and I took turns swimming with them, enjoying a poolside Windhoek beer, and really just enjoying the last bit of our holiday with family. While we were sad it was one of the last times we'd see everybody before we flew, we were definitely ready to travel back, so it was a mixed bag of emotions.

We thought a lot about our Christmas overseas, and while the holiday was wonderful, we definitely missed the Christmas vibe this year. I don't think we'll actually spend another Christmas there because summer for the holiday just wasn't what we love. There's something about the cool weather, twinkle lights, carols, and the smells of Christmas that just make the holiday. Am I right? We're excited to spend next year in the comfort of our home.

But, all that said, I hope you all had amazing Christmases, and I can't wait to share more of our trip with you in the next week or so!

hello from south africa

Sweet, beautiful friends! We're in South Africa (for the past 8 days or so), and I have so many stories to tell! Naturally, though, we're soaking up all the time we possibly can before our time here runs out, so I haven't taken the time to really sit down, write a proper blog, and formulate my thoughts.

I certainly promise that I will, but I want to make sure to enjoy things in the moment, first and foremost. We're here for about 10 more days, so we're packed to the bring with things to do. From seeing the Christmas lights in Johannesburg tonight to going to Kruguersdorp next week, we're going nonstop. I'll recap it once we're all home back in the United States. 

As such, if I don't manage to comment on your blogs before Christmas, I hope you're having a wonderful time with your friends and family, and I can't wait to see what you've all done and catch up when we're back! 

Lots of love xxx

3 years of spencer bruce

photo courtesy of Kindred Hearts Photography

Dear Spencer Bruce,

Today you are three years old!

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that your daddy and I brought you home from the hospital, scared new parents. We had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea how to do it! At 13 days old, you made a cross-country move with us to New York, and we haven't looked back for a single day.

Little man, three years ago, you made me a mama. From the start, you've been such a resilient, fiercely independent, invincible little boy. You have the strongest convictions about what you do and don't want. You know exactly who you are, and you aren't afraid to show it (and I love that about you!) You love your little brother, and you're all boy. You think bugs and worms are the coolest, and you can resist a good puddle-jump. To be fair, who can?! 

Spencer, I know that today is about cupcakes and songs for you, and that's wonderful because today is your day. I want you to know that your Daddy and I love you more than words could ever express, and I have so many hopes, and dreams, and wishes for you. I want you to have it all, little man because you are perfect and wonderful.

You're destined for greatness, sweet boy, and I'll do everything in my power to get you there. But for now, today is for you. Happy birthday, my precious boy. 

Love always,


5 on friday: welcome december

I seriously can't believe it's already December! It's officially been a whole month since Ryan got home from his deployment, and in less than a week, we're heading out of the country. This is going to be the busiest few days here, as we're leaving NY for NH on Tuesday, then we're heading to Boston on Thursday to head out of the country. But, we're hoping to accomplish a few more things here before we go, and it's gearing up to be a good weekend! I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Spencer is turning 3 on Monday, December 4th! How is that even possible?! Every day I watch this little boy grow more and more mature. He's so aware of everything around him. He's sweet and sensitive, thoughtful and kind, silly and rambunctious. This little man gives me such great joy, and I can't wait to share our celebrations!

2 // Speaking of Spencer's birthday, I'm going to attempt to make cake pops this weekend for him to take to daycare on Monday. He loves cake pops, and I think it'll be a fun and kid-friendly treat for everybody. I'm hoping to follow this site's tips/recipe, and offer a chocolate-free version for a child in his class with an allergy. Fingers crossed it goes well?! 

3 // We are leaving for South Africa next Thursday! My mom's family is from there, and we'll be spending about 3 weeks enjoying their summer while winter hits home here in NY. We're going to head to Zebula straight from the airport for several days, and we'll be spending Christmas at Harbeespoort Resort, but I'm not sure what else we'll do while there. Either way, I can't wait! I took this picture during my last trip back, and I can't wait to share it with my family!

4 // Ryan and I have his unit's Dining Out tonight at the RiverEdge Resort in Alexandria Bay. I used Rent the Runway again, and I stepped way out of my comfort zone with my dress this time. I'm really hoping the look comes together because I'm a little bit worried it won't! I'm doing my own hair tonight, so I'm not sure how that's going to go, but here's hoping it doesn't suck?!

5 // Totally unrelated to all the things, but I've been feeling like the worst cat mom lately because Stella and Jasper are going to be here in NY alone while we're in South Africa. Obviously, yes, we have a pet sitter, but I feel so bad! Danny is at least spending the month with my parents in NH. I've had my eye on this wall shelf for them from Meowingtons for a while now, and I keep hesitating to pull the trigger. Someone tell me that it's worth it and that I should just do it!

That was a seriously random assortment of Friday thoughts, but that's clearly where my head is today. I hope you all have fantastic weekends and great plans ahead. Happy December, sweet friends!