Saturday, July 28, 2012

Keeping Fayetteville Funky

I've not made much of a secret of the fact that I absolutely love Fayetteville.  But with a busy week commuting to Lowell, raising an elementary schooler (sniff sniff), cooking, cleaning, exercising, grocery shopping, and just plain living, Ryan and I don't always take the time we should to truly see our city.  There are so many stores that we haven't even been to yet that we've heard about for years.

On this hot but wonderful Saturday with nothing to do but whatever we wanted, we decided to spend our day keeping Fayetteville funky - that's the name of the city office's campaign to get people to shop and eat locally, so I'm borrowing it.

First, we headed to the renowned Fayetteville Farmers Market.  Alli met some Razorback cheerleaders, which is always exciting even if you do get to hang out with them all football season long!

Then she and Ryan got popsicles from the PedalPops guy (they were really delicious and fresh with real fruit!).

We even stopped by the Fayetteville Town Center so she could push on the giant ball that's there.  She really enjoyed that.

After we perused the Farmers Market and bought some peaches, okra, soap, and flowers - we can't ever pass up good homemade soap and a gorgeous bouquet when we are there - we headed in to Riffraff, which is a cute little boutique on the Square with home items, gifts, and clothes.  After eyeing these tees for a few years, I finally bought one - love!

We also hit up the Mustache Store for Ryan, because I knew he'd love the offbeat general store feel and really appreciate the quirky stuff that's in there.  Once we wrapped up downtown, we ventured down College Avenue and popped in Vintage Violet and Maude.  Vintage Violet is an antique place with mostly clothes and some furniture, and Maude is the clothing store in front of it.  Then we headed to a new pet store in town to check it out.  We're such animal lovers, we can't pass up a pet store, especially when it advertises holistic, grain-free, very high end food (maybe one day I'll write about my obsession with animal nutrition...).

I picked the woman's brain about good alternative foods for Landry, who currently has some pretty weepy eyes and hot spots popping up all the time.  We got some samples and I have a feeling we'll be back in there to buy some Fromms Game Bird for him.  I just love dog food shopping.  Then we went to another new place for us, Walker Brothers.  I had long admired my co-worker's Curly Tail brand clothes (often red or white with a pig logo on them), and Ryan started mentioning it as well, so we headed in there.  Oh wow, did we have fun!!  Ryan scooped up a new polo and got the. perfect. tailgate. pants.  You'll just have to wait until football season to see them, but trust me.  Wow.  We also grabbed some great new collars for the dogs (spoiled).

Right next to Walker Brothers is Party House, which I've been in several times, and Tesori, which is a really precious store opened by one of my sorority sisters that I hadn't visited yet.  I had a great time browsing both - so many cute things!!

After that, we grabbed lunch at one of our favorite non-Hugo's burger places, Grub's.  When we walked in, guess what was on TV...

Dressage!!  Be still my heart!!
I have a confession:  this is the second time in my life (the first being last Friday) I've had a burger that I cut it in half and boxed that portion up for later.  Who am I?  I have to admit to you, you still get full on half a serving, and you're not stuffed and miserable.  It's actually nice.  I'm still ashamed.

Then we ran over to Target, our only non-local stop of the day, to grab some Scotch Guard for the dog collars, new welcome mats (I love replacing those regularly) and a new laundry basket for the laundry room.  My family can rejoice, we no longer have the falling apart wicker baskets from Big Lots - the new one is plastic, big, and teal.  After that stop, we went to a roadside antique place I'd been admiring in Springdale on our way to the pool all summer long.  Ryan's never actually been to an antique store, but he absolutely loves piles of junk so he really ended up having a great time.

Old patio furniture - I die
So now we're exhausted, home, and watching Olympic hand ball (Thanks, Ryan).  Here's hoping we get some beach volleyball or men's basketball (true life - I love Kobe Bryant, but don't tell anyone).  Happy weekend, friends!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cat Scratch Fever

Not everyone loves vacation as much as we do.  I honestly cannot look Cash in the eyes for a solid three days before I drop him off at the Chenal Pet Palace.  I think he senses it coming - I took this picture about 2 days before we left for Little Rock:

Completely depressed
I'm not sure Landry even realizes what is going on, but Cash knows.  His tension grows when I lug out my giant pink suitcase.  He barely sits down on the whole trip to Little Rock, and they practically drag him down the hall at the Pet Palace.  I'd like to think it's me leaving that causes his anxiety, but let's be reasonable.  If you had to spend 9 nights locked in a small space with Landry and Emmett, you'd probably be freaking out too.

The girls get the luxury of staying at the house while we are gone.  My friend Kerri came to check on them several times over the week, but they spent the bulk of their time alone in the house for the duration of our vacation.  For Lola, I imagine this must be heaven.  No dogs, no kids, and no Ryan. I'm sure she missed me a little, but I know her well enough to know that my vacation is her vacation.  When we walked in, she greeted us at the door, did a little barely-audible purring, glared at the dogs, and then went back to the spot on the bed where I left a t-shirt of mine for her to curl up on.

Relaxed and happy after a week off from being the boss lady
Ginger, however, practically tackled us when we walked in.  Kerri warned me that she thought Ginger was missing us because she kept following her around and rubbing on her every time Kerri came by.  I thought I was prepared (Ginger is a notoriously loving cat), but I had no idea.  I mentioned to Ryan Monday morning that I didn't sleep well, and he said "Well, it might have been because every time I woke up and rolled over, I saw Ginger sleeping on your chest."  This cat spends 9 hours a night in Alli's room - why is she pestering me?

Seriously, it's been nearly 3 days now, and I cannot get her away from me.  I never thought I would want to go back to before vacation when we were losing her for hours at a time, only to find her in some obscure place like Ryan's clothes hamper.  As I write this, she's rubbing her chin all over my computer and meowing loudly in my face.  Every time one of us walks into a room, she pops up on her back legs like a prairie dog and mews.  Ryan said that Monday night he was holding her and petting her and she actually drooled.  I'm pretty sure she's lost it.

The eyes of a crazy woman
I guess I should feel great that our sweet little simple-minded kitty missed us so much.  She got lonely, and we both know Lola isn't much company.  But this cat is so off her rocker, I keep waiting on the switch to flip and for her to suffocate me while I'm sleeping.  So if they find me, you'll know who did it.

Attacking the camera - help me!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach Takeaways

We're back in Fayetteville.  The clothes are unpacked, washed, and back in their drawers.  I've completely rehydrated.  My tan is already fading.  And I've had my first day back at work, which was full and busy.  And yes, I'm still talking about vacation.

It's almost like we never went to Destin, isn't it?  Almost, except I certainly did meet my goal of logging every day of vacation despite the slow internet and a brother who likes to play games online and slow it down further.  And almost, except I came home a little wiser, a little more relaxed, and a little more resolved.

I know I've told a few of you, but I tend to consider the beach my "New Years."  We spend plenty of time relaxing, drinking, playing games, and having a good time.  But it's also a time when I reflect on the past year and what's changed since I last saw the ocean, and then plan for what I want to change the next time I see it.

So now you get the benefit of my reflection.  Some of it's cheesy, some of it's sad, and some of it might not make a lot of sense, but here are my takeaways from this trip:

  • Sharks are everywhere.  Sooner or later, you're going to have to deal with them.  Our beautiful condo with its perfect white ceramic animals, thick granite counters, pristine tiled balcony, and updated furniture in perfect condition had something quite interesting.  On the coffee table under a book with pictures of beachside towns was a shark book.  I refused to look at it until the last night we were there out of plain karma, but once everyone was out of the water for the next year, I poured over it.  It was beautiful, it was scary, and it was graphic.  As I looked at pictures of great whites and read about shark attack victims and how much they've overcome, I started to think about the "sharks" I face in my everyday life (away from the water, of course).  Everywhere you look, there are sharks trying to bring you down.  People who want to see you fail - at work, at home, in your friends, in your family.  Situations that seem set up just to knock you down.  Challenges, failures, emotions, illness.  You can try to avoid them as long as you possibly can, but there comes a time when, like I did with the shark book, you have to confront them.  That's something I hope I get better at doing by the next time I'm at the beach - meeting my life's sharks head on and dealing with them rather than swimming away.  Swimming away is futile: You can't out-swim a shark, because sooner or later it will catch up with you.  And then after I confront my sharks, I hope I don't see one the whole week I'm here.  You know, the real ones.
Actual sharks at the Gulfarium plotting on how to bring me down...
  • Sometimes a wave barely reaches your toes, and sometimes it smacks you in the face.  Deal with it.  While sitting beachside on a boogie board watching Alli play in the surf, I would occasionally get a gentle lap of water on my toes as it broke on the sand.  And sometimes, the ocean would come roaring in, and I'd get thoroughly splashed and shocked by the cold.  Isn't that so much like life?  Just when it's peaceful and you're enjoying it, not really paying attention, bam!!  And then you end up with sand in your swimsuit and a face full of saltwater.  But as quickly as you were splashed, the next peaceful, pleasant little wave comes up and doesn't even touch you.  As I sat there in that same situation day in and day out, I learned to appreciate the big waves as much as I did the little - because they made me appreciate the little even more.  Sometimes everything is going so well you don't even realize it, and then something happens that makes you appreciate the good times even more.  I need to remember that when I'm stressing over small things like clean baseboards or big things like finances, that things as they are right now aren't so bad.  Because while I'm not looking, one of those big waves might hit me and remind me how wonderful life really was.
Maybe one day I'll ride the waves of life as well as I do a boogie board?
  • In all the changes around it and within it, the ocean is constant.  The ocean is an agent of change.  No wave is the same, no grain of sand the same.  Animals come and go.  Rocks and coral are worn down, ships are weathered.  The very foundation of the ocean is change.  However, there is something so incredibly constant about the ocean.  It doesn't matter if it's raining or the sun is beating down.  It doesn't matter if I'm here for vacation or if it's Christmas.  The ocean is there, doing the same thing it's been doing for a thousand years.  I too am a creature of change.  I like new projects, new people, new houses.  I constantly crave new things to capture my attention, and I get pretty upset when I can't find them or they don't happen fast enough.  What I need to remember is that no matter what changes are going on around me that I cannot lose myself.  I have to stay true to the happy, smart-mouthed, energetic, loving person I've always been, and not let the changes (or lack thereof) prevent me from keeping a constant state of happiness and being a constant source of love and light for my family.  

And there you have my key takeaways from Destin 2012.  I hope the next time I'm standing in the surf and staring out there that I have improved on all of these things.  I can't help but hope there are some more major positive changes in my life by then as well - seeking change and improvement is one of the things that makes me whole.  But I do hope I learn these lessons and apply them better to my life in the year that follows vacation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Destin Diary: Vacation Day 6

Today started about as perfect as any day on the beach - a clear sky, nice breeze, emerald water, and that squeaky white sand.  But today was a different day on the beach for the Holloway-Lowe clan because it was our last day.  Fifty-one weeks from now we'll be back, but as we've learned from the past five years and especially the past six months, so much can change between trips to the ocean.  

I deliver you that poignant moment, and then offer you a picture of someone whose deepest thought on how their life will change between now and the next time they see the ocean is "I'll be eight!!"

Alli meets the ocean much like Alli meets life: head on, no fear.  Only this time, she was armed with a little more gear.  I wish I had a video of her walking in her flippers in the sand.  Pretty freaking hysterical.  She zoomed through the water like one of the dolphins at the Gulfarium.  She popped her head up long enough to grab my face and exclaim, "This is great!!" so suddenly that I was confused enough to ask "What?"  "Being at the beach, of course."  Silly Mama.

A storm blew up around lunch time, so Alli and I came up for a little Monsters, Inc. (replaced Nemo midweek as the go-to movie).  We went back down for an hour, but then the rain really came in to stay. We hung out on the balcony for a while and then all got ready for the annual dinner finale at Harry T's. Harry T's is not particularly better than the Back Porch, AJ's, Pompano Joe's, The Crab Trap, or any other of the numerous restaurants in the area, but it has become tradition for us to sit harborside and share a crab dip and watch the boats come in on our last night in Destin.

Of course we also spent a little time in the HarborWalk Village, where Alli begged to hold some rescued parrots for a $10 picture with my own camera.  Nice marketing, bird man.  My only consolation is that the proceeds go to bird rescue, although why anyone would want to rescue a bird is beyond me.  I guess visiting with Nibbler didn't rub off on me (click on the dolphin link above for a rundown of what I'm talking about).

How I overcame the terror that my child's eyes were going to be pecked out by these rogue fowl enough to take those pictures I'll never know.

Us Holloway ladies got all dolled up in our maxi dresses for the last dinner - no birds allowed.

And here's a non-shot of one of the funniest moments of the night, Ryan acting as if he was going to shove John Patrick into the harbor.  Imagine JP screaming like a little girl and you get the idea.

We capped everything off by coming back to our little home away from home at Unit 803 in Breakers East.  I've packed myself and Alli almost completely and Ryan has been asleep since we walked in the door - someone had a little too much fun on the beach today.  I am completely depressed about going back to my normal life tomorrow, but I know I've missed parts of it, I just can't remember which ones.  All I can think about is how nice it would be if I could live in a high rise condo on the water with nothing to do but lay at the beach all day.  But surely that would get old, right?  Nah.

I want to say something completely hokey before this last picture like "And now the sun is setting on our time here in Destin..." but I think you get the idea.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Destin Diary: Vacation Day 5

After much harrassment from our little one, Ryan and I took the crew to Big Kahuna's for the first half of today.  Big Kahuna's is a water park across the street from our condo with an island theme and some pretty fun rides.  I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy riding the slides.  This place claims to have 40 slides, but I counted and I think they are cheating a little - do you really count every dip in your river rapids as a slide?  Either way, Lindsey, John, Ryan, Alli and I had a great time.

We came back after grabbing some Wendy's - I get a little tired of seafood after a few days - and then headed back down to the beach for the afternoon.  We decided to hang in again tonight and update our Destin white picture.  The last set we took was in 2009, so it's been well past time.  The pictures turned out amazing, and we've got some pretty hilarious ones too.  Cue photo montage.  And don't remind me that tomorrow's the last day.  Sad face.  Pass me some wine.