FF | Spring Break Edition

You know what, I really did set a personal goal to post on this blog at least once a week to stay “motivated”. I got a little overzealous and posted twice in one week and then WHAM…life happened and now I’m a couple weeks overdue on posts. Oy vey! 

We are currently on spring break which, for those who work from home like me, means absolutely nothing special except you “get” to bring your laptop to wherever you’re “breaking”. Working in a school setting for the past 10 years, we got used to having an official spring break. However, I do realize in #RealLife, the adult-working world doesn’t take spring breaks…they just take vacation. So in that sense, I am still very thankful that we were able to take a few days away from the day-to-day crazy.

We spent the past few days on the coast in Oak Island, NC. The weather took a surprising turn for the warm and sunny. It was perfection, especially through the eyes of our spunky, almost-three-year-old Amelia.

In true “vacation mode”, I thought I’d post a few highlights from the past week:

>> Say “Hi!” to the New Kids on the QC Food Block:

  • Tandūr Kitchen {SouthPark}: Officially opened this week and it’s already killing it. Don’t miss out on the Naanchos, Spiced Okra Fries, Tikka Masala, Garlic Naan and the Korma. Hell, just try it all…it’s all fantastic. This place has already earned a spot in the Masanotti rotation.

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  • Haymaker {Uptown}: Farm to Table, Fine Southern Cuisine — This is most certainly added to my list for top date spots, perfectly situated overlooking Romare Bearden Park. Grab a few small plates to share or choose a few as starters before you dive into their incredible entrees, and don’t even think about skipping out on dessert. The Haymaker Punch and the Harvest Spritz are TOPS.

>> Leftovers or Bust

Before we leave for a vacation or trip, I typically skip grocery shopping the week prior and we make our meals from whatever we can find in the refrigerator. It’s challenging with an entire week of “clean the pantry/fridge” meals, and an added bonus…it’s fairly cost efficient too. We had a TON of leftover roasted chicken from The Roasting Company and vegetables from the farmer’s market, so here’s what we made for the week {Not pictured: Chicken Verde Enchiladas that were devoured before I could get a photo}:

>> Breakfast…BEACH Edition

From my first time making homemade crepes (a nod to my NYC French Fam, M & A) to apples & almond butter to some fancy a#$ avocado toast (as requested by my sister), breakfast remains my FAVORITE meal of the day.

Hopefully you feel inspired to go try some of our newest CLT restaurants, challenged to  see how many meals you can make from just a handful of ingredients already in your fridge or just do yourself a favor, make a beautifully delicious breakfast and see the difference it can make as you start your day…#liveyourbestlife.

Now back to our regularly scheduled vacating. ❤

Have Fork, Will Travel | NYC

“One belongs to New York instantly,
one belongs to it as much in five minutes
as in five years.”

― Tom Wolfe

My love affair with New York initially began somewhere around my senior year of high school in 2000. I had threatened to quit the marching band every single year (bc those uniforms look good on NO one). But every year, my band director managed to pull me back in and this time, it was to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and explore New York City. We saw the Radio City Rockettes, we saw Phantom on Broadway, and all the while, I was falling fast and hard in love.

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(Pictured: Marie & Me in 2009 // Marie & Me in 2018)

Fast forward a few years, my best friend Marie moved to the City in 2006 and I was on the FIRST plane up to visit as soon as I could. We started a list over email of ALL. THE. PLACES. to visit, see, go eat, etc. and we made a weekend of it. We managed to walk around almost the entire island of Manhattan and with every step, I grew deeper and deeper in love. That was my first official trip flying by myself, navigating by myself and it was an experience that truly transformed me. I belonged and I became ALIVE in a way I had never before.

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Since then, J & I have traveled to NYC a couple times per year for the past 12 years (Lady A has even been twice already and she’s only 2…and yes, she’s hooked too<3). A few years back I started planning our trips on a Google Doc — adding exhibits, museums, restaurants, happy hours, rooftop bars, brunch places, experiences and more…As you can imagine, 10+ years later, this Google Doc is pretty robust.

My OCD and constant need to plan ahead has proven to be VERY helpful when traveling, preparing itineraries and in general, making the MOST of our trips by squeezing as much as possible in the time we are there.

Last week, I had the honor of accompanying my sister, the pharmacist, on her trip to the Integrative Health Symposium in NYC. Knowing she would be tied up during the day with her seminars, I jumped at the opportunity to “go where the wind (and rain in this case) took me” for these few days in my favorite City. I visited with friends — new and old — and I took time to wander the streets, popping in and out of some of my favorite stores. I enjoyed some much-needed bonding (and self-care) time with my dear friend, Marie, and some super sweet time with my sister.

This trip was unlike many of the others because the pace was slow, it was relaxed, easy-going and incredibly enjoyable. After 10+ years, we’ve seen most of the touristy spots, so now when we visit, we really do try to wander around and soak up the truly unique New York lifestyle.

Highlights from this trip included:

  • A personal tour of THE gorgeous Food52 test kitchen & office from an incredible new friend, Megan.
  • Spent special time with almost ALL of my favorite New Yorkers (looking at you Marie, Mere & Lila)
  • Visited The Met before they ended their “suggested donation” option (FYI – they now charge full admission for everyone, unless you’re a local)
  • BREAKFAST/BRUNCH…sure, it’s my favorite meal of the day, and the lunches and dinners were GREAT, BUT cheers to Buvette, Egg Shop, Butcher’s Daughter and Cookshop for delivering my favorite meals of the trip!
  • The OGs — these are the places we come to almost every trip and they never disappoint — Amelie Wine Bar (holla $12 wine flights<3), Comedy Cellar & Freeman’s
  • Cappuccinos. Just in general. I think I drank 4-5 a day and I think I’m still riding my caffeine-high a week later. #sorrynotsorry

Looking to travel to New York and need some recommendations or even a travel buddy to show you around (my favorite!)? Shoot me an email or leave a comment.

Love, Crashing Over Me.

I have heard You calling my name.
I have heard the song of love that You sing.
So I will let You draw me out beyond the shore.

No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.
No fear can hinder now the promises you made.

“You Make Me Brave” – Bethel Music

Over the past few months, I’ve received texts and emails asking for a blog post/life update. But honestly, I just didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel like posting yet ANOTHER post about waiting & trying to wait with joy and contentment. I didn’t feel like posting yet ANOTHER post about the fun things Jay & I were doing to try to distract ourselves from the “still-no-baby” elephant in the room.

We got the email in January from our social worker. Not the “you get a kid” email, but the “it’s been 18 months and it’s time to renew your home study”. Woof. Had we really been waiting for 18 months already?! So in the span of a few weeks, we re-upped our home study, considered buying our sweet little house in Southend, discovered our landlords actually sold our sweet little house to a higher bidder, MOVED within a month, found a new place, claimed this new place in beautiful Elizabeth as the BEST we’ve rented so far, and then drove at midnight one night to Wilmington to welcome my sister’s first son, Levi.

January and February flew by. We moved and settled in our new place in early March. April we started to come up for air and then on April 12, 2015, at 10:30pm, we got a call.

Our beloved social worker called us late on that Friday night to tell us a birthmother had chosen us. Cue ALL the feelings of loss and disappointment from our previous failed adoption. When she said we were chosen, we both responded with a quiet, cautious “yay”, just dripping with forced excitement. We tried to be truly excited, but our heads were NOT allowing our hearts to feel. We were so cautious, we even considered not telling ANYONE, not even our families.

Saturday morning we both woke up feeling renewed. God dealt with BOTH of our walled-up hearts overnight. We woke up feeling the flood of hope we had tried to be anchored in all these years. We decided to go ahead and share the news, but only with our parents & siblings, and our bosses because we would have to ask off for that next Friday so we could go meet the birthmother.

That next week, I slowly began to wrap up projects & plan for the “what if” scenario of getting a baby and leaving the school year early for maternity leave..all the while, NOT allowing myself to dive in to the real excitement & anticipation of it all. Friday came and we got in the car for the 2+ hour drive to meet the birthmother. We got there early and stopped in for a little lunch & a drink to ease our nerves.

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We met our social worker first at a Catholic parish, and then the birthmother got there. We had a wonderful meeting. She’s beautiful and so sweet. She was so excited for us. We talked life, we asked questions about her and her interests so that we could tell this sweet baby girl about her birthmother later.

We gave her a letter that we wrote for her, to encourage her and empower her and thank her for her amazing bravery and for giving us the greatest example of sacrificial love. By placing this baby’s needs and future above her own, she’s modeling what it really means to be a parent. We gave her a painting from our one of our favorite NC artists, Deona Fish, and we bought the same print for us to keep in the nursery so that we could use it to share her story. We left the meeting feeling VERY encouraged and reassured that this REALLY would work out. Still very cautious, but beginning to allow God to fill in the cracks of our broken hearts with His love and His strength.

She was due that next weekend, so that week, we tried to continue life as normal as we could. We allowed ourselves to buy a few more baby things…just in case. We allowed ourselves to think of names. We allowed ourselves to feel more excited and hopeful.

Luckily we had an insanely busy week filled with babysitting, Jay’s birthday (April 21), Jay’s DJ gig, a calligraphy workshop and the wedding festivities of our dear friends. The next Monday, I was coaching track practice and Jay was coaching his tennis team when we got the BEST call.

Our social worker called to tell us that baby girl was born on Jay’s Birthday, mom had signed the relinquishment forms and that we could come pick her up from the hospital the next day! We FREAKED, and then had to go back to practice & pretend like all was normal.

But we FREAKED. That night was like Christmas. We didn’t sleep at all, we installed the car seat, packed a baby bag and prayed to God that this wasn’t all in vain. We knew going into this that it would be a “legal risk placement” because in North Carolina the birthmother has 7 days to change her mind, so the baby could be with us and then not. Ugh.

We drove the next day to meet our social worker and then drove to the hospital to pick up our baby girl. We were led to this consultation room (i.e., closet) where the nurses prepped us a bit on caring for a newborn, and then the door opened. They wheeled her in and that’s when we saw our daughter for the first time. We both started weeping.IMG_4746_2

I got to hold her first and immediately fell in love…and totally drowned out the rest of the nurse’s instructions as I stared at her beautiful face. Jay tried to take notes in between holding our daughter’s sweet little hand. We needed to name her. The nurses left us in the room and we tried out the 3 or 4 names we had brainstormed and one in particular sounded like perfection. It sounded like the name God had been writing on our hearts for years…we just didn’t know it yet.

Amelia Rose.

This is our daughter. It’s been HER all along.

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We waited the 7 days at home. I think we held her, rocked her and loved her more and more for all 7 of those days. Then last Thursday, May 7, Amelia Rose officially became ours. I was finally able to breathe. I had been waiting to exhale for about 9 years now, and with the short phrase “She’s all ours”, I was able to release it all.

Once her court adoption papers are processed, we can post her sweet little face, but until then, we will post the sweetest ears, hands & feet photos.

All in the span of a month…Amelia Rose was born, we became parents and we officially began our greatest adventure yet. All in time for Mother’s Day too. Man, God is really good. He is and has been faithful every step of the way.

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