Staycation: a vacation spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.
I've decided for Mother's Day from this day forward, I want a hotel staycation. It's not that I don't love my children and husband but there is something relaxing about being alone to read, have a meal, sleep in the entire bed or even work in peace.
However, I cannot take the credit on this idea. My friend, Miranda in Charlotte, did the same staycation last summer. You can read her review here. Earlier this year she hosted a giveaway that included a boudoir session from the same photographer that she used and I entered. Funny thing is that I won. When I spoke with Lauren Villa with Lauren Villa Boudoir, she mentioned a handful of hotels we could use to keep it a secret. So I contacted the same hotel Miranda used because the post she made basically sold me.
So yeah, basically I copied my favorite local influencer because she - well - influenced me.
To start things off, I arrived later than planned because of tornado warnings and crazy winds. Pulling up to their valet made it easier. It’s only $6 extra per night so it’s not a massive splurge and the gentleman who assisted me both days was so nice at helping me with my heavy bags. The front desk quickly checked me in and sent me on my way up to the top to one of their Penthouse suites.
When I first walked in, the room took my breath away from the small details of the glass mirrored accent wall to the TWO balconies. The Dunhill Hotel was opened in 1929. The details are beautiful and full of history. Not to mention the marble flooring in my room are original to the hotel! Although they are continually remodeling, the goal is to keep the architecture true to the original design.
When I got in, I rummaged through some of the areas in the room and quickly found that my room had a handful of books about Charlotte and of course some super soft robes. After I glanced through a few, I decided to lay down for a bit on the fluffy king size bed before I headed down for dinner.
After a short nap, I headed down to have a small bite at The Asbury. I ordered a large glass of red wine and the NC Beef Blackboard. I know that I will never turn down a great piece of steak! I worked a little while I waited and really took in the solo dining - including the people watching. There were groups around me having a great Friday night out in such a relaxing spot that it amazed me how we were both enjoying very different Friday nights in the same spot while both enjoying the atmosphere.
I grabbed another glass before ascending upstairs for the night. I decided to take in the night on the patio facing uptown. It was the perfect weather outside so I changed in my pjs and listened to the music below.
This was my first night alone since Milie was born and I was ready for uninterrupted sleep! Although she sleeps through the night, I constantly wake when I think I hear her stirring around so I shut all the curtains, turned down the lights and let the fluffy pillow top King consume me.
I woke up ready for my photos with Lauren. I was so sad I couldn’t fully experience the grand rain shower because I had extensions put in the day before so I ran down and grabbed a shower cap! Still not the same but it worked.
We then spent the morning doing a fun boudoir shoot which I'll share more about at a later date. Because I gifted these for a partial wedding gift, I wasn’t able to share my staycation with y'all before I told him why I went to the Dunhill other than to have a night away!
This feature was written in conjunction with The Dunhill Hotel and Asbury. Opinions and experiences are my own. No monetary or personal gain was traded with Lauren Villa Boudoir outside of winning the session through another giveaway. All opinions are my own.
About Face Charlotte Presents “The Future is Now” for Charlotte SHOUT! May 9
Installation designed to inspire people to build a future where all children have the opportunity and support to realize their dreams
About Face Charlotte is no stranger to social awareness projects used to inspire those around them to connect with others. Beginning on May 9, for Charlotte SHOUT! they will be displaying their latest project, The Future is Now, featuring portraits of 250 students from four Charlotte Mecklenburg schools across the city by printing them and wrapping them across the exterior of the main branch of the public library uptown. The project was made possible through the generous support of the ReEmprise Fund and Center City Partners. “The mission of About Face is to raise awareness, stir hearts and provide opportunities for people to work together to build a caring, connected community,” says About Face Co-Founder, Hannah Blanton. She adds, “Our current project focuses on children, who literally are the future of our city.”
The children featured within the project are from all over Charlotte and reflect a diversity of ages, ethnic backgrounds and abilities. For The Future is Now project, the children were interviewed by Dr. Susan Campbell, the Child Advocacy Lead for About Face Charlotte. “We talked to the children about things that are important to them: what they look for in a friend, what they hope to be when they grow up, ways people make them feel important and loved,” says Dr. Campbell. She adds, “Regardless of their circumstances, their answers were similar — all children want to be around people who are kind, who they can trust and who make them feel safe. They all have big dreams for their futures.”
The Future is Now is created in partnership with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte Center City Partners and Share Charlotte. Additionally, The Future is Now is an Inside Out Project Group Action. “My creative goal in doing The Future is Now was to use the power of art and image to bring awareness to issues affecting our community,” says Programming Lead, Dana Endsley. She adds, “By showcasing the beautiful faces of 250 children in Charlotte we are asking people to spend some time really seeing our children, hearing some of their wishes and wisdom and then exploring ways to help all children on the path to their future.”
“My mom and my grandmother were both teachers, so the education and the wellbeing of children has always been close to my heart,” says About Face Co-Founder and Creative Lead, Scott Gardner. “With this project, we hope to inspire the city of Charlotte to love all children as if they were their own, and invest in their future.”
To see The Future is Now project, visit the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library at 310 N Tryon St.
About About Face Charlotte:
About Face Charlotte is a photographic and storytelling project that connects people to people in our community, elevates compassion and empathy and encourages ongoing acts of love and altruism. Founded in 2015, About Face Charlotte was created by photographer, Scott Gardner and gallery owner, Hannah Blanton. What began as an idea turned into a passion project and now is becoming a social movement. Learn more about what they do at aboutfaceclt.org.
Connect with About Face Charlotte on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About The Inside Out Project:
Inside Out is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images are made into posters and sent back to the projectʼs co-creators, for them to exhibit in their own communities.
Posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window, to a wall of an abandoned building, or in a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and be made available online at insideoutproject.net.
The Inside Out project is a creation of the artist JR, recipient of the 2011 TED Prize (watch JR's TED talk here).
About The TED Prize:
The TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $1,000,000 and the TED community’s resources and expertise to spark global change. The award offers support to build a project's core infrastructure quickly - so that others can add their own collaborative action. The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by the world's leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to change the world - one Wish at a time. What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED Community to spur global change has evolved into one of the most prestigious prizes. A TED Prize winner is a rare and powerful combination of someone who knows how to capture the imaginations and make a measurable impact, a visionary and a pragmatist, a dreamer and a doer. From Bono’s the ONE Campaign (’05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (’10 recipient) and JR’s Inside Out Project (’11 recipient), the TED Prize has helped to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education and inspire art around the world. For more information on the TED Prize, visit ted.com/prize.
My son was out of school most of last week because of the dreaded Flu and Strep combo! So I wasn't anticipating Friday getting a paper stating they were to make a Valentine's Day Box by Tuesday.
So I sent my son to check through Google for some ideas. Most were way, way out there. I wanted something easy but really fun and unique. Previous years we just threw stickers on a box but since I am embracing this stay-at-home-mom life, figured we should try to put some effort into it.
We settled on a Lego box. This was *not* my original idea but there are about 30 variations on Pinterest so I don't know who to give absolute credit to. It took us a 10 minute trip to Walmart and about 15 minutes of crafting for the perfect cute box.
Also, don't tell Hayden but we're totally keeping this for next year because I'm never crafting a Valentine's box again!
WHAT YOU NEED
Super easy! If you're like me and want a fun simple craft with minimal effort, this was a very easy one! It's good for boys and girls alike and Hayden really enjoyed picking out his Lego color since there was over 50 colors he could choose from.
Monster Jam ® Triple Threat Series™ is an action-packed, points-based event that showcases athletes as they go head-to-head in six different competitions, driving three different vehicles – Monster Jam Trucks, Speedsters and ATV’s. These world-class Monster Jam vehicles and athletes bring action-packed, adrenaline-charged family entertainment to fans across the country and deliver what they want to see most… more racing, more freestyle, more donuts and more action!
This year we're giving away a family four pack of tickets! Head to the post below to enter:
Monster Jam presented locally by Chick-fil-A of Charlotte is coming into the Spectrum Center and you don't want to miss this year! Three HUGE shows January 11th and 12th !
I’ve been pretty absent for the better part of 2018. I wish it was for a better reason but in all honesty, I did not have the energy to handle my day to day life, much less the blog and events. I wanted to explain my absence so bare with me. It's a long one.
At the end of February, as most of you know, we found out we were expecting baby number two. Although we were so excited for this little to be on the way, my immediate reaction was “I have to get into my OB tomorrow.”
This is my third pregnancy to be viable past 8 weeks. Viable. It’s such a strong but sterile word. I have experienced three personal losses in-between my surrogacy pregnancy in 2013 and today. Not to mention, I still carry a heavy burden and guilt on the loss of the fraternal twin from that pregnancy.
In total, four babies in five years haven’t survived from my womb. Do you know how gut wrenching it is to go into an OB office and must explain how many pregnancies you have had total and then explain how many are not living and how each of them ended?
So, when I started freaking out this pregnancy early on, it didn’t surprise me. I did not want another loss because I knew emotionally I couldn’t handle it.
I wasn't expecting to start getting anxiety over little things.
The first real sign that I had a bigger issue than normal fear was when I was prescribed Progesterone Shots to take daily. It was literally out of stock EVERYWHERE but online fertility pharmacies but they wanted $125 a vial. One vial only lasted 5 days. I called nearly 60 pharmacies from Charlotte to Statesville and we only ever found six vials but luckily they were cheaper at around $55 each. Normally, with insurance, it would have been $10 for a month supply.
It started out with just a fear that we’d lose another baby. I made countdowns to milestones I hadn’t hit before like the heartbeat, week 8, week 12, week 16 and so forth. Even now, I am counting down weeks. We’re past viability but I keep fearing something will go wrong.
Eventually the anxiety grew to much more than just the pregnancy. I eventually found myself afraid to drive. I would be mid-trip and fear that I would end up in a wreck. I started doubting my career. I started to doubt my ability to mother Hayden the way he needed. I doubted my relationship and even what my purpose was in this life.
Doubt is a horrible feeling.
There were days where I went to work, came home and crawled into bed. There were many weekends where I never took a step outside. Sunny days were still bad but the rainy, gloomy days were so much worse.
Two weeks ago, we moved into a beautiful new home but that also meant packing. Packing was something that triggered the largest panic attacks I have had, not only in this pregnancy, but some of the largest attacks I have ever had ever in my life. I would sit and stare at the stuff and just break down in tears. I couldn’t physically get myself together long enough to do anything productive. I really cannot thank AJ and my family enough for those weeks and the move.
Pregnancy-Induced anxiety is the worst feeling of hopelessness I have ever experienced.
So early on, I decided to completely shut down as I got it under control.
I shut down most of my life for my sanity. I needed the ability to work my full-time job because it was a priority. I needed to reduce the stress for the baby’s sake. I needed to be present for my son.
I am not writing this for sympathy but for transparency.
Every pregnant woman knows the fears and worries of post-partum depression or anxiety. It’s something many doctors really want to check on during that 6-week post-birth appointment. But no one talks about the depression and anxiety that can happen during pregnancy.
It is estimated that miscarriages happen in 25% of all pregnancies. One in eight couples experience infertility. I’ve only experienced a small blimp of what some couples experience but the stress, pressure, anxiety and fear crippled me. The more I have spoken to other women about the anxiety I've experienced, the more I’ve realized I’m not alone.
I’ll leave on a positive note. The anxiety is going down as the days go on. It’s going from irrational and uncontrollable situations to common insecurities or worries – like the fact we are official under 100 days until she will arrive.
Some of the failures so far from 2018 still weigh heavy on me.
- I missed deadlines and events.
- I left many emails ignored.
- I abandoned my social accounts.
But that is going to change. I hope to become more social again and I am taking baby steps to being like myself again. I want to get back to my roots of writing and sharing my love of the city.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to me the last six months and even more so my family.
The ones who have noticed something was wrong. The ones who knew I the fear I had during the pregnancy. The ones who offered help emotionally or physically. The ones who held me as I cried or shared my fears. The ones who just talked about anything else to help keep my mind off the fear.
You are my saviors.
Thank you for loving me through the hardest parts.
CAROLINA COUNTRY MUSIC FEST ADDS TO LINEUP
Brett Young, Tracy Lawrence, Muscadine Bloodline, James Barker Band, Josh Phillips, Tim Montana, Davisson Brothers, Jimmie Allen and Dee Jay Silver set to perform in Myrtle Beach, June 7-10.
Clockwise from top left: Brett Young, Muscadine Bloodline, Jimmie Allen, James Barker Band, Tracy Lawrence
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (April 9, 2018) - Carolina Country Music Fest announced the addition of Brett Young, Tracy Lawrence, Muscadine Bloodline, James Barker Band, Josh Phillips, Tim Montana, Davisson Brothers, Jimmie Allen and Dee Jay Silver to the all-star lineup for the oceanfront fest in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, June 7-10, 2018. They join headliners Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, Zac Brown Band and Cole Swindell, as well as 30 other country acts. For more information, visit www.carolinacountrymusicfest.com.
Cole Swindell and Tracy Lawrence will get the party started on June 7 at the McDonald’s®Thursday Night Kick Off Concert powered by MyrtleBeach.com. Tickets for Thursday night are included in VIP packages or can be purchased in addition to a three-day pass. Purchase tickets and VIP packages here.
Named one of the top five country music festivals by Billboard, Carolina Country Music Fest is one of the fastest growing outdoor music festivals in the country, with more than 30,000 country music fans in attendance last year. The festival site spans 18 acres of oceanfront in Myrtle Beach from the boardwalk to Ocean Boulevard.
This year’s event sponsors include Coors Light, E & J Gallo Winery, iHeart Radio, Coca-Cola, WPDE ABC 15, The CW 21, Visit Myrtle Beach, McDonald’s®, Burroughs & Chapin, Brittain Resort Management, Campers Inn RV, Oceana Resorts, MyrtleBeach.com, Bojangles’, Krispy Kreme, Food Lion, Broadway Grand Prix and Full House Productions. The McDonald’s® Thursday Night Kick-Off Concert is powered by MyrtleBeach.com and presented by Carolina Cool.
Carolina Country Music Fest (CCMF), the East Coast's largest outdoor country music fest, is located on the shores of Myrtle Beach. A unique blend of today’s country headliners and up-and-comers, CCMF is host to the industry’s biggest stars. With the combination of country music and the scenic Myrtle Beach backdrop, this family-friendly, three-day fest is a summer vacation destination.
A break is such an easy thing to say you're going to do when you're overwhelmed but most of the time we do not actually take one.
As women, it seems we always have 328-thousand things on our plates. I cannot stop being a mom. I cannot stop working my job. I cannot neglect the cat or dog. I cannot stop being a girlfriend - well, guess I can but I don't want to!
So when I decided 3-4 weeks ago that I needed a break, I meant it. I was overwhelmed with everything going on in my life and all the upcoming changes.
In January, we were with family when they were chatting about moving. I jokingly said "Let's look for a home!" and during that hunt I really started to think.
"Our home value is really up right now since I bought this house."
"When construction starts next year, our home value will probably decrease for a while."
"We cannot live in this house for more than 2 more years."
"HOLY CRAP WE HAVE GOT TO MOVE SOON."
Once I laid down all the same details with my boyfriend, he felt the same, so then we started hunting for a new home. We live in Mooresville and love the MGSD so finding a home can be hard. We honestly did not want an HOA but see benefits from the neighborhoods so our son can find other kids to play with. We want a certain number of rooms and in a certain price point that has made it so hard. If we would raise our price point by 20-30k, then we would have 30 more homes to choose from, but we're trying to stick to the budget we want and not the budget the bank has allowed.
During this time I also started a new job. I've debated getting back into the corporate world for a while and finally a position landed in my lap. I've been wanted to get my foot in the door at Lowe's corporate office for years but it is pretty hard. You have to know someone - and even though I know plenty, it's still hard. So our family has been transitioning to me working full time and not always being in the mood to cook a meal or stay up late to watch a movie.
So I allowed myself to take a break. Every day I felt a tinge of guilt that I basically checked out but it was so refreshing. It was what I needed. I think everyone should take a break from things when life gets overwhelming.
Taking a break from friends -OR- finding a reason to see them when times are hard.
Taking a break from the gym -OR- going back to let the stress sweat away.
Taking a break from the PTO -OR- joining because you need "mommy" socializing.
Taking a break from going out -OR- making a point to try new places in CLT.
Whatever it is and however you choose to take a break, know it's okay. Find time for yourself whether that means staying in or forcing yourself to try new things. We all deserve a little grace when we need a little self love and TLC.
Does your significant other have a job that requires a suit and tie? Do you always see the need to have those items altered because they aren't one size fits all? Is there a constant struggle when trying on different sizes for different brand slacks?
Well, Michele Melville from J.Hilburn wants to make the shopping easier for you. She is a personal stylist with J.Hilburn and can help ensure that special man in your life has the perfect dress shirt, slacks, suits and even sports wear made just for the man in your life!
J.Hilburn started when two men got tired of wearing ill-fitting clothes and paying luxury prices for luxury quality. They decided to start a new way to purchase menswear and to make each garment one at a time, guaranteeing fit and eliminating unnecessary markups.
J.Hilburn states that by engaging directly with their clients to make clothes that fit them, they cut out inventory, returns, and brick-and-mortar overhead. This is how they are able to provide the things that matter–custom fit, the best fabrics and factories in the world, and Personal Stylists who build a wardrobe that Clients love at best-in-class prices.
So connect with Michelle today! She is waiting to help YOU style the men in your life this holiday season with luxury clothing that fit perfectly the first time they put it on.
Direct Sales and Home Based Businesses are becoming the Norm. It allows women to stay at home or make some extra cash for their families. These businesses are providing women a way to put their children in sports or after school activities, plan family vacations or throw a birthday party.
So we're here to celebrate those #bossbabes who work from their phone and by going to your home to share these products with you.
Mary Ann is a #BossBabe with Avon. Avon has been around since 1886 and there is a reason it has over a century of helping women make an income from home. The Avon Foundation for Women also is tied within the company to share its efforts to end breast cancer and domestic violence.
Avon is the leading social selling beauty company in North America. With Avon’s product line including skincare, fragrance, color cosmetics, and personal care products.
Krista is an amazing #BossBabe who loves her business with It Works! She is also a body builder and really cares about the products she puts on or in her body.
It Works! was a perfect fit for her with their line of skin care, shakes, cleanse, wraps and their brand new Keto Coffee! These products are developed with the top technology and
Samantha is a #MomBoss of three littles. She's an ambassador for the skincare line Nerium and rocks it daily as she tends to her littles.
Nerium has transformed the anti-aging industry with their streamlined product offering, clinically tested to deliver proven results. Nerium focuses on cutting through the clutter of age-fighting options to bring you multifunctional skincare products and novel nutritionals that address all your age-fighting needs and fit easily into every lifestyle, so you can look better, feel better and live better.
Rodan & Fields
Amy is a #BossBabe as she's rocking her Rodan + Fields business from home. She wants to help other women feel beautiful in their own skin with R+F's products.
Rodan + Fields was founded in 2002 by Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields, the makers of ProActive, as a department store brand. Rodan + Fields® is redefining the future of anti-aging skincare. Rodan + Fields is a premium skincare brand built on a legacy of innovative dermatology-inspired skincare products backed by clinical results.
Kayleigh is another #momboss with three littles at home. She started selling LuLaRoe in 2016 and has helped thousands of ladies find their perfect LuLa piece!
LuLaRoe is one of the fastest growing apparel brands in the U.S: founded in Corona, California in 2013. LuLaRoe’s comfortable, affordable and stylish clothing is sold by more than 80,000 Independent Fashion Retailers in unique, exciting in-person and online pop-up boutiques. LuLaRoe’s varied styles and patterns make the brand attractive to all types of consumers, whether they’re looking for the perfect style to transition from work to a night out, a way to dress up their every-day leisure look, or are on the hunt for their unicorn leggings. Pieces are designed to mix, match and layer.
Heather is a #BossBabe with a little girl and another little on the way. She loves her flexibility of working for Mary Kay and sharing to everyone why she loves this company that's been around for 5+ decades!
Mary Kay started in 1963 and has become one of the most well known beauty brands in the United States. Today, Mary Kay is a top beauty brand and direct seller in nearly 40 countries around the world. Mary Kay is well known for their make up and skin care that has transformed throughout the decades along with their Pink Cadillac drivers for their top sales directors in the company.
To a point that you’re breaking down in tears and feeling the beat through every vein of your body?
Two weeks ago, I was driving on the interstate and had to pull over; right there on the shoulder while cars were zooming past me going 80mph. I was sobbing uncontrollably. You know, that horrific ugly sobbing when even the most waterproof mascara cannot withstand the outpouring of tears. That kind of ugly sobbing.
It hit me suddenly without warning so there I sat until it passed.
I have heard Kesha’s new song Praying multiple times. The song is her speaking out after a horrific legal battle with her former producer that she accused of drugging and raping her. She was silenced as he ultimately won the battle of legalities of contractual obligations.
Her response in Praying is a beautiful ballad of triumph. She speaks about how she has overcome the last four years. Any woman who has struggled through a hard time can relate.
If you’ve been in an abusive relationship.
If you’ve dated or married to a narcissist.
If you’ve had horrible parents who told you that you wouldn’t become of anything.
If you had a boss that degraded you.
If you’ve been told you were not wanted.
If you’ve been raped or molested.
This song can speak to your soul if you let it.
I’ve never been very quiet about my turmoil of my divorce at 25 and subsequent custody issues where he eventually had his rights permanently terminated of his 6-year-old son by the state of North Carolina.
Last February he gave me an ultimatum; Either 50/50 custody or he was going to walk away. I was never against 50/50 custody however he was living a very unstable lifestyle. He was telling me he was moving for the third time in 10 weeks but he promised he would no longer miss his weeks/weekends. I told him to show he can be reliable for 6 months and we’d do it but we legal paperwork.
He was not for it. He wanted it right away or not at all.
He ultimately did not want to pay child support anymore.
I eventually told him to do what made him happy. If he was happier to leave, then go be happy. If walking out of his child’s life to no longer pay child support made him a happier person, then do it but I was not going to ever fight for him to be in his child’s life. A child that looks just like him. A child whom he has been a part of his life for the previous six years. A child that loved him unconditionally.
I never thought he would actually leave and never look back but I was not going to force anyone to be in his life either.
As I hear Kesha’s words, it speaks to every ounce of me. For the last two years, I have prayed that he would change his ways. In the early days I prayed that he would realize how important being a father physically, emotionally and financially was important. Now, I pray he has changed.
I pray that he will change and never hurt a child like he hurt his first born. I pray he does not treat his girlfriend the way he treated me. Maybe we were young but I went from a strong independent woman to a trapped childlike girl. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I felt constantly trapped and tried to escape to be told I would never amount to anything. That I was damaged and that I was unwanted.
No one should feel that way.
But I know I can only forgive so much. I have forgiven enough to be able to move on. I can never forgive the pain I continue to see on my son’s face because he thinks he did something wrong.
I can never forgive someone to walk out over child support payments.
I can never forgive someone who chose a girlfriend over their child, not once but twice, after only knowing them a few short weeks.
If you've ever felt the way I have, I hope you can be touched by a song. Music can speak to our souls and allow us to feel emotions we don't always know is there.
So if you find yourself on the side of the highway breaking down, know you are not alone. I've been there too.