Travel talk

California, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida!

Wow folks, it’s been over a month since I posted! Sorry not sorry. Let me tell you why!

Last you heard (besides Shanties first race) was our poor Skoolie blowing the transmission and leaving us sideways in the middle of a highway. Once we handed over my left arm and Matts wallet to fix the motor, we parked it in Oklahoma. Matt was a champ and took on a part time job in contracting with my family while I found odd end jobs.

Before we left Florida back in July, I had already committed to doing hair for a wedding for mid October. To keep my word, I packed up Shanti and headed east to fulfill my promise.

Quick pic of the bridal party and their beautiful hair! Such a fun group of lovely women!

This was the beginning of 2 full weeks in the panhandle spending quality time with Gam Gam and MiMi! I know Shanti enjoyed it as much as her grandmas did!

FYI: Gam Gam is my mom in the collage below.

…and Mi Mi is Matts mom in the photos below!

After I wrapped up the time in Florida, we loaded up again and flew all day to land in Sacramento, California. This is where Shanti and I spent another week visiting friends and doing hair. This trip to Folsom was the first since I was only 6 months pregnant. Our little travel love bug! This girl (daughter of Nomads) has been on 12 flights in her 9 months of life!Hair clients, childhood friends and what I call “chosen family” welcomed us with so much love and arms wide open. The story goes… I booked this California trip with Matt coming as well to assist with Shanti, “father-daughter days” as I did hair. With him working and building on the bus in Oklahoma, we decided it’d be more productive if he stayed back and I went alone.

wait, Matt working without a camera? Yep! My amazingly talented husband dove into the dusty world of cabinetry, both professionally and in our bus!

Meanwhile back in Cali, look at these happy & helpful people loving on Shanti!

I had a day off that allowed me to take Shanti to her first gymnastics class! It was Halloween week so the kids got to wear costumes! Fun fact – Her coach Kira is also a long time friend that actually visited us in Barbados! You’d recognize her from the post Visitors… a dozen of them! Another fun fact- This is the same gym that I taught at for 7 years and Matt worked at last year! Click here for the post about Tricks Gymnastics!

Shanti had no fear of going upside down and clearly likes to shake it…. I mean bounce it….rrrr… jump?!

Andrea and Josh, the way you opened your home and handed over the car keys meant so much to me. I felt extremely comfortable and our trip wouldn’t have been the same without your hospitality!

On our flights back to daddy in Oklahoma, we got to meet 2 unforgettable women and a bundle of others. #iplankforpizza (I’m embarrassed to admit I forgot her first name) is a fitness instructor that Shanti immediately connected with. It’s hard not to make a new friend when a small human is literally attempting to sit in your lap.

These flight attendants kidnapped her right away and asked for my phone… they brought her back with a photo of the captain letting her explore!

Dionna from our late night flight was by far the most helpful during our journey. Shanti was showing signs of being tired and I was ready for my pillow and slippers. Not only did Dionna hold Shanti, she had a seat with us and let my little monkey climb all over her while we had some girl chat. She’s one of those women that you can talk too easily and feel like you’ve known for years! It was too dark for a photo but I most definitely see us reconnecting in the future… bus and all!

Speaking of the bus, once Shanti and I got back to Oklahoma with Matt, we packed up and headed to Arkansas to get the floors done!

A huge thank you beyond words and a blog post mention to our cousin Dakota. Not only did he allow us to park our bus on his property, he gave us his room and took on the role of the best Uncle Koda ever! We thank you so much!A little more family time is always wonderful with these lovely people!While we were there, we also took a family day and went to the Gorge near Hot Springs for a walk and mini hike. What a backyard to play in!…back to the bus.

Our cousins (and owners of the recently awarded #1 company O’Bryan Family Flooring) provided us with these beautiful floors!

After 4 months of living between Oklahoma and Arkansas, we headed back to Florida to complete the bus and spend the holidays on the beach!

Next up, our new chapter in Miramar Beach Florida! Photo by my hubby:)

Categories: Accommodations, Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ever seen a bus blocking a highway?

Our time in Arkansas exceeded all expectations! Quality family time with tons of fun, and help with progress on the bus. Perfect! Here’s a wrap of some of the captured moments during our stay in Hot Springs!Now it’s time to drive the beauty to Oklahoma where there’ll be more family, fun and help!

The journey from Arkansas to our new home in Oklahoma is gaged at about 5 1/2 hours. Hahahahaha! That’s in a car, no baby and not one bathroom break… so you can imagine… we had a car with a baby and a momma who drinks a lot of water following a school bus that tops out at 60mph and drops to 15 on inclines. With all of this in mind, we estimated about 7 hours. Driving through the night is always best for Shanti so we chose to leave right after dinner so she could snooze the whole way.

And we’re off! (notice the hanging camper in the window? Thank you O’Bryans!)

In no time, we were 100 miles in and if had to guess, Shanti was peacefully dreaming of playing with her cousins and eating paper (her two most recent favorite things to do).

As the sun began to drop with Matt driving in front of me, we shared this beautiful sunset (via walkie-talkies).

About 150 miles from our new home, Matt mentioned the bus feeling different. We even pulled over to smell and look at the engine. With no apparent problems, we kept on trekking. About 15 miles after he checked it out we were climbing our way up a hill at a whopping 9 mph wondering if this was always going to be the case.

In what seemed to be a moment of seconds, I saw the bus leaving a trail of fluid and heard Matt over the walkie say, “Something’s not right, I’m losing all engine power“. By the time he pulled off onto the shoulder mid-hill (which you always try to avoid in a beast like that!) smoke was barreling out from under it. As my heart sank, I could hear Matts break when he informed me, “This isn’t good babe”.

So it’s in the middle of the night and we’re in between two tiny towns on a back woods highway. Matt quickly got on his phone to find a local tow-truck company that would be willing to attack this challenge. We were so lucky. Not only did he find a company, but the kind owner also owned a school bus and was eager to help!

Here’s a video of Matt attempting to move the bus across the street and into the opposite direction. The towing man suggested we do this since it’d be tricky to make a U-turn with the tow truck and the bus going up hill on a small highway.

Since moving forward clearly didn’t work, Matt put it in reverse to maneuver backward then to turn it down hill. Unfortunately the back wheels caught the lip of the shoulder and he was going nowhere except backwards farther into the ditch! As you can imagine, my stomach was at my feet watching helplessly from afar.

My job while cringing across the street? Keep Shanti safe, warm and peacefully sleeping during this unexpected event. Success!

While we were waiting for the tow, I pulled our car far off the shoulder (even more than the first picture shows) at an angle so I was in no position to be side swiped while aiming my headlights at the bus. This ensured that any vehicle rounding the corner would clearly see the brightly lit bus.

Within an hour the Mighty Mouse of Semi tow trucks showed up!

It was amazing how much power this monster showed when lifting us out and down to the rescue. I recorded it too!By the time we back tracked to the mechanics it was creeping its way to 2:30am. Of course they weren’t going to be open so we went for a cheap hotel, a rest and and early sunrise.

After a nap at Motel 6, we went for a morning bite while we patiently waited for the mechanics to open and take a look at the engine.

Happy baby loving on her daddy at breakfast!

The final verdict brought us gut twisting news… it’s the transmission. Anyone who knows about a busted transmission knows it’s no joke.

Look at our sick girl just sitting there waiting for her surgery.

A few nights in the bus hospital and she’s almost ready to come home!

Here’s Matts silent interpretation of the situation.

Next up, her homecoming and a new backyard!

Categories: Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Another adventure away from the bus!

In the last post, Skoolie paint job is almost done! we had accomplished a majority of the exterior design. Since then, we have added our surprise addition which is a chocolate chip brown shiplap accent on the sides. It’s a tongue and groove style that went on nicely with some help from amazing, patient, knowledgeable, loving family members. Thank you Reggie, Bryan and Dane!

We got an opportunity to go back to Florida for a visit so we locked up the bus and headed to Miramar Beach! This makes for Shanti’s 3rd airplane ride!

I was able to get all my hair clients in for another round while Matt worked his camera around the area. I absolutely love that we can travel with our careers!

Between the catching up, Shanti got to reconnect with some of her biggest fans. My mom (Gam Gam), was all about getting this little girl in the water and we all loved it! Babies are meant to float, kick and splash!

And of course all that energy spent means for a crash on Gam Gams shoulder. This photo will forever be precious to me.

We stayed with Matts mom (Mi Mi), so there were plenty of snuggles from her as well! The hugs were accompanied by Shanti’s Great Grand parents (Maw Maw & Paw Paw). You’ve seen them in past posts like Shanti meets more family! We also made time for a family brunch!

This is TJ and Erica (she came to visit us in Barbados!) …and Shanti with the photo bomb.

What’s this, an 80’s themed birthday party for Dustin!? Well don’t mind if we do! (Special thanks to Stephanie, safe to assume it wouldn’t of happened without you!)

Look, it’s the couple that gave us the bus!

After the quick Florida visit we were ready to get back to Arkansas. Matt more than me as he really missed our other “baby” – aka the bus.

Matt rode his motorcycle back (with intention to sell it) so Shanti and I took a mother/daughter day of flights! Well actually, night of flights. Look at this sweet little tired girl…. and never mind my mouth piece.

Back home and almost finished up with the exterior! How do we ever repay for the amount of help we’ve received here!? Well you saw the land we’re living on in the post The wheels on the bus… go to Arrrkansas!and this week they’ve rented some heavy machinery to continue the renovation. You don’t have to ask Matt twice to play with big toys!

Meanwhile, Lacie is missing from the photos…. again. In fact, she took all of these photos, as usual. Lacie, I will be doing a full post on just you soon, so get ready!

Next up – a road trip to Oklahoma for more help from family and friends!

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the bus!

We wrapped up Vail Colorado with Matts childhood friend Gavin, you saw him in our honeymoon post from 2017. Now he’s officially “Uncle” Gavin! It’s such beautiful country up there! We were sad to leave but excited to get back, with only an overnight stay in Oklahoma we kept on driving. Shanti is such a great traveler! She was either talking to me or snoozin away.

3000 miles in 10 days leads us back to Arkansas where our bus was eagerly waiting for us to return home.

This weeks goals for the bus is to install the floors and start the exterior paint. The flooring is being provided by my families business out of Hot Springs Arkansas. O’Bryan Family Floors is a well known local company that offers quality product with a personal touch. We are so proud to support the family that’s actually let us live on their property in the mean time. You can see our current location by reading The wheels on the bus go to Arkansas!

Painting sounds like a quick task, or at least it did to me, but turns out there are a few steps that make it a 10 day process! I’ll make an entire post about those shenanigans once we’ve completed the challenge.

Before painting, it’s necessary to prepare the surface. We power washed it in order to get rid of any dirt, rust and buildup that would be in the way of sanding it down. Proud to say I got the privilege to attack this task! There’s something extremely gratifying about aiming and firing with force at a beast of a vehicle. This left me with muddy feet, sore shoulders and a natural high… and no pictures of it. Boo.

Meanwhile, Matt was scrubbing down the top to get it ready for the first coat. We’ve picked out the color scheme for the entire bus (to be announced later) but for the top it’s a white silicone based product. We chose this not only for the clean look, but it also seals the roof and helps reflect the sun giving us a cooler interior temperature.

After the prepping we had all of the boys in on the for a Sunday Funday paint day!

Unfortunately the photographer of the day, Lacie Lane, didn’t get in any of the pictures! Next time we’ll get proof she’s there.

The boys finished up at sundown which meant it was time for games, guitar and family… what a perfect way to end the Sunday Funday! We didn’t get too many photos, but here’s a few someone snuck. Clearly a bundle of smiles all night! A HUGE thank you to Bryan, Reggie, Dane, Jessie, Lana and Lacie for the extra hands and amazing energy!! Lub Lub Lub

Next step: Scraping, sanding and another solid wash. Sneak peek!

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Short hold on the bus, it’s time for a wedding!

July 20, 2019 is the wedding day of my little brother Ben. The little brother that some of you may recognize from all of the years on this blog. Here is one of the first pictures I ever posted of him, adorable!…and year after year…

Then my little bro grew up into a young man out of nowhere!

Fast forward even farther and now I’m doing hair for his bride on their big day! What a special event to be a part of, Shanti was pulled down the aisle in a wagon and of course they had Matt as their photographer, here’s a few photos from the day!Ben and Rachel, I wish you all of the happiness and growth a marriage can bring. We love you so much!

Matt and I left the bus back in Arkansas and took our little family on a road trip through Oklahoma on the way to Colorado (that’s where the wedding took place). We’ve really enjoyed the back drop of mountains, rivers and wildlife everywhere! Here are a few snap shots so far, we’re currently in Vail so you’ll get the rest of the journey once we get back “home” to Arkansas.Here’s a typical 6am roadside diaper change in front of a gas station that didn’t have a changing table. Nailed it!

Here we stopped at a park for some fresh air and leg stimulation. She was such a good girl just hanging out while I reorganized the car. Happy to be alive with not a care in the world.

It’s not uncommon for us to stop for Matt to jump on some sort of wheeled apparatus. This day in Vail was his new electric skateboard!

I tease him about showing off but he clearly has bragging rights! You are so talented babe!

I’ll close this post with a video from one of our leg stretching stops in a Delta Colorado!

Fun fact: I was born there:)

Categories: Baby Talk, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The wheels on the bus go…. to Arrrrrkansas!

As you saw in the previous post, we were making our way from Florida to Arkansas to park it where it’ll be stationed for a majority of the renovation. Along the way, it started overheating whenever we’d go up hills or if the engine was pushed too hard… no good. While letting it cool down in Mobile Alabama, we decided to take it to a diesel specialist who spent hours diagnosing it with an estimate higher than you can imagine or at least more than we wanted to hear.Check out the sign they put on our beauty queen. (It says “this is not trash”). Priceless. So Matt decided to contact Steve (the magical mechanic from back home) to see if there was an alternative. Steve said that it wasn’t hard to fix as long as you had the right tools and instructions. With that said, Matt was willing to park our beast road-side and do it himself! During a phone conversation, we got the most unexpected news, Steve was going to drive all the way to help Matt fix it! Sure it was only a few hours round trip, but would you want to drive that after working all day!? Here we have yet another helping hand willing to contribute to our journey. We’re so grateful! Fast forward through the evening, Matt and Steve got the bus dialed in and it’s ready to roll. 8pm seems like an ideal time to check in for a good nights rest however it’s also the perfect time for Shanti to sleep through the drive, so we decided to skip the bed and keep on trekking.

Our goal was to get to Jackson Mississippi and find a hotel to close our eyes for a few hours so we could continue fresh(ish) onto Arkansas. We accomplished our goal to Jackson however finding a decent hotel with a reasonable price at 4am didn’t pan out. Plan B? Sleep in the bus! We found a gas station with diesel parking and we made it home for an hour nap.

Thank you Matt for capturing this photo even though I was not into it. This will go down in history as our first night in the bus!

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise next to a gorgeous open green field that welcomed us with the faint scent of cow manure. Other than the smell (cough-gag-cough) it was perfect!

We fueled up and headed north. Just a few more hours coasting at an average speed of 50 mp, we arrived to the surprisingly green Arkansas.

Here’s the view of the new location for our new home! It used to be packed full of forest but they’re currently transforming it into a self-sustaining farm with a spring fed pond. How lucky are we!?

Looking outward from the property.

Birds eye view. How amazing is this spot for our bus conversion… Space, privacy, security and family (help hehe)! See our yellow buddy down there?

Thank you cousins for the instant smiles and open arms that welcomed our project. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Next post, updated bus pics! I can’t wait to show you how far it’s come. Here’s a sneak peek with a sweet video of two of our helpers:)

Categories: Accommodations, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We left… turned around… and then left again!

Bus painted? Nope. All seatbelts installed? Not yet. Couch, kitchen, bed, toilet? Not even close. We DO however have it registered, insured and ready to hit the highway legally but only able to sit one person. Because we’re going to tear out the driver seat, it would be a waste of time and money to rig a makeshift passenger seat before we do anything else. With that, we’ve decided that Matt will drive the bus and Shanti and I will follow in our car. This also ensures a reliable set of wheels just in case they’re needed on our first long journey. (I wrote that days before the event below).

The first 600 miles in our new home (currently just the shell) will be going from Miramar Beach Florida to Benton Arkansas. This is where it’ll be parked for a majority of the renovation. For those of you that have been following this blog for years now will recognize the location. You saw it in several past posts including one of my favorites, Sweet home…Arkansas?! And you recently saw the family in our last trip to Oklahoma. Shanti will be surrounded by cousins and we’ll have plenty of helping hands to turn this rig into a beautiful livable space.

These past few weeks have been full preparation, packing and watching Shanti grow so fast! She jumped from 3 month clothing to 6-9 month outfits and she’s only 5 months, geeze kid! For all of you fans, here are some pics of her recent weeks.

Ok back to bus! Day one on the road actually started at 8pm with cooler temperatures and less traffic. 2 hours into our journey and only 50 miles covered our beautiful beast (she’ll be named soon) had overheated. Since we were so close to home, we decided to turn around and have our amazing mechanic friend look at it. Last thing we wanted to do was push it and cause more damage.

The next morning was spent with test drives and engine work before we got the go to hit the road. Although Shanti does best at night since she sleeps the whole way, we were ready to get out of there so a noon departure is what we did!

Unfortunately the engine couldn’t take incline or long distances so every 30 minutes we’d have to pull over to let it cool. This is why it took us 6 hours to cover only 100 miles.

We were taking a break just shy of Mobile Alabama when we found out there was an International Bus specialist just up the road! Since it was 7p on a Sunday night they were obviously closed so we parked the bus at the cheapest hotel for a good nights sleep and early rise. Yes moms, we slept in the hotel, not next to it.

I’m currently writing the last of this post sitting in the hotel room waiting to hear the verdict from Matt who’s at the specialist shop right now. To be perfectly honest with you, although this isn’t what we imagined the first stretch to be like, we’re both keeping a positive attitude. Keeping awareness around that this is an adventure and a journey we signed up for! I think we would be doing a disservice to our spirit if we focused only on the completion of the bus, instead of being totally present while creating these memories. Oh Shanti, you have no idea of the photos and stories that will make up you’re first years of life.

I’ll leave you with her capturing my water bottle. You’re welcome.

Secret news: Coming soon is the launch of our online video channel. Oh boy!

Until then, thank you for reading and following (hint hint- click the button on this page that says “follow” in order to be alerted when there’s a new post).

Happiness to you and yours!

Categories: Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Drum roll please…..

Matt and I had so much fun watching the poll from our first post about living on the road, thank you to everyone who voted! Jenn, Donna, Dustin, Brie, Shane, Gloria and Tiffany, it was awesome to get your comments too, thank you! Here is the final results from all of you that voted!

We looked at a few RV’s and although they would be easier and quicker to move in to, we realized that’s exactly what we don’t want! Designing the bus, taking the time and hard labor to build our home from the wheels up is just as much of the journey as living in it.

So after test driving, researching, reading, talking and YouTubing, we’ve decided on our new home. We will soon be a family of 3 on the 6 wheels of a brand new (20 year old) school bus!!

…but ours currently looks like this.

As the journey progresses, I’ll be going into full detail of how we transform this beauty into our new home. Pictures, videos, and maybe even an online video series?!

For now, I want to share with you the story behind these wheels and the family that made it happen.

Air Force Captain Nathan, his wife Jennifer and they’re little Eva are the family you want as neighbors and even more so as friends. They’re the type of people that welcome you with open arms, huge smiles and tons of genuine energy. After enduring what most of us would call a living nightmare, they have every reason to live in a world of self pity. Instead, this power duo carries a backpack-of-back bones with eyes focused positively forward.Imagine your significant other leaving in the condition of the top photo from below and returning unable to look you in your eyes (bottom photo).I now know what it’s like to be pregnant and I truly can’t imagine getting the news Jennifer woke up to just 90 days before delivery.

I was sitting here trying to describe what Captain Nathan had survived until I found this perfect recap made by Building Homes for Hero’s :

“Captain Nelson barely escaped death when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Taliban extremists hit his forward operating base in Afghanistan in September of 2013. Tragically, his body took the brunt of the blast. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury, collapsed lungs and would lose 46 units of blood.

After undergoing several life-saving operations, he was flown to the Walter Reed Medical Center to be reunited with Jennifer, who was six months pregnant, and she has never left his side ever since. His recovery from the shrapnel wounds, TBI, collapsed lung, severely bruised organs and a massive blood transfusion, is still ongoing.

For his service and his sacrifice, Captain Nelson has been awarded the Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and several other honors. He is now paralyzed, and has limited use of one of his arms, but he and Jennifer have become inspirations to everyone they meet”.

Up for a good solid soul-cleansing cry? Watch this video of Nate sharing his experience and incredible perspective. Kind of makes your unbearable bad hair day seem a bit silly and much more tolerable.

Back to the bus…

During Nathans recovery, Jennifer bought this bus as a (brilliant) form of therapy. She was able to smash windows and rip out seats all while envisioning a new path for her and her family. She was designing the bus to be totally handicap accessible so that her husband could travel in comfort. As the years went on, Nathan not only recovered like a champ but went back to work. Meanwhile, Jennifer was also now back to work, playing supermom and maintaining wife of the year. Little time was left to spend in a dusty bus let alone traveling in it.

Fast forward to a pizza party we attended in which we were introduced to this amazing family. Our mutual friend casually said, “Hey Jenn, do you still have your bus?” (I was thinking – Cool, another traveling friend!) But to my surprise she said, “Yes, but I’m selling it now”.

I physically grabbed Matts arm when my guts alarmed me that this would soon be ours.

After viewing the bus and having a mechanic verify the engine quality (thank you Ray!), it was a no-brainer, we were going to buy it!

Except…

When discussing what the final price would be, Jennifer spoke up with confidence. (I’m paraphrasing according to what I heard).

In a gentle voice she said, “Me and my family are so blessed and have been given what we need… I believe in paying it forward and I’d be honored to be a part of the joy you’ll get and also bring to so many with this bus. I feel very good in my decision, I’d like to gift you the bus and just sign the papers over. It’ll be my contribution to your journey”.

This is when Matts jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears. Unexpected and completely beyond our wildest dreams… in fact, it is the beginning to our wildest dreams!

Their gift will allow us to continue our adventure sooner than we thought possible! Next up, let the renovation begin!

To the Nelson family, “Thank you” seems like such an understatement for the gratitude our little family feels. We invite you to follow the process and watch as we transform your 20,000 lb baby into our new home on the road!
Categories: Bus life, Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Well Bless Your Heart

So there I was, Shanti with a full diaper and giving me the hunger cues. Like most airport bathrooms, the line was out the door with a stretch of women holding an impatient fake smile. I squeezed by everyone with hope in finding a spotless changing table with our names on it. Let me prep this with informing you that it would be my first changing-table experience. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s obvious when seasoned moms are on their hundredth changing-table routine, one hand here, sanitary wipe there, here a diaper, there a leg, all while balancing the edge of a broken hinge with a knee. I was up for the challenge until I rounded the corner and saw what I was working with. A dirty table with a woman already gagging her way through it with her little one. I could have stepped up and done the same but I’ll have to be honest with you, I wasn’t in the mood to battle it especially with a dozen women standing there watching. Chicken. So at this point, I have no choice but to join the herd in line and comfort Shanti to the best of my ability.

We finally got to the front and I see the size of the claustrophobic mini stalls in which I doubt we’d both fit in with her car seat in hand. I wave the others on as I patiently wait for the only large stall offered. Finally! It opens.

I got to the end and closed the door. I laid out my makeshift sanitation station on the ground and don’t have the guts to lay her there, so on my lap it is. I semi successfully get her clean and in a new diaper when she starts back in with the hunger signs, an excited whimper, not yet a cry and the side mouth reach. Trying to prevent her full on hungry holler, I get out my boob and she latches quickly as if she’d gone days without food. Typical.

Less than a minute into it, I hear a conversation outside the stall. A young woman says, “M’am are you waiting for this one?”, the answer comes from a fragile petite voice directly outside my stall that says, “No, I’m waiting for the large one. I can’t use the toilet without a handrail”. I hopelessly gaze at the handrail I was resting my knee on as Shanti gulps away.

“Are you waiting for my stall M’am?” I ask, selfishly hoping there was another one I wasn’t aware of. “Yes, yes I am”.

So with Shanti still devouring her lunch, I packed up my mess on the floor with one hand and proceeded to shove it under the door with one foot while attempting to cover her head with my free hand (just in case there’d be someone offended by my half breast). I open the door and hip bump it open and smile at the ancient woman waiting for us. She smiled back with the sincerity of someone who had been there, done that and truly appreciated my effort.

Then she said the one line that all southerners have said or heard at least one time in their life, “Well bless your heart”.

She went about her business and there I was, my back physically against the back wall with my diaper bag at my feet (half packed and spilling over), her car seat at my other side and her in my arms with no clue of the episode.

I looked up to find every single eye in the room locked in on the free entertainment I had been providing. I’d like to think I gave a confident stunning smile back at the crowd but in reality it must of been a squished eyebrow of wishing I could just disappear. I put my focus back down on Shanti and as I was wrapping up, a kind voice walks by me, leans in and says, “You’re doing a great job momma”. This small sentence gave me the encouragement I needed to gather my things, snap my shirt and waddle to the sinks with baby in arm, diaper bag over the shoulder and the car seat swaying from my lose grip.

Note to all humans: Take time to be kind, you never know how a few words can change an entire day for someone.

Fast forward to the end of the trip. 2 flights, no fits and a journey that’d I claim as a success for a solo parent and a 2 1/2 month old. I fed her on the final landing to help her ears pop and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back knowing she was never in discomfort nor did anyone on the flight know there was even a baby on board.

As I’m leaving the flight we got all kinds of kind comments on her cuteness, my bravery (as if millions of others had never done this) and “such a good baby”! As we walked through the terminal I continued to get smiles, except now they were a little awkward. I was so high on mom mode that I didn’t think into people’s expressions as my final goal was to collect our things and find daddy outside waiting for us. It wasn’t until I sat down to strap her into the car seat that I glanced below and realized what everyone had been smiling at while trying to avoid staring at. Call me genius over here, but I never zipped up the breastfeeding flap on my hoodie! Luckily I had a bra that matched, but hello… it’s still open and goods were hanging out.

To give you a visual, below is the exact sweatshirt I wore on the flight with the same zipper flap open. I’d like to think every mom has a photo like the one below! (Thanks to my mother for snapping this nap time pic).

You can imagine the exhaustion driven laughter I tried to hold back as I zipped up my shirt, tucked her in and moved along. What a day.

Here’s a quick video I shot right before we left the terminal. Our happy little (75 day old) girl after a thousand mile road trip and an entire day of flying. What a champ!

Categories: Baby Talk, Not-so-happy trails, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shanti meets more family!

I’d like to start by saying how grateful I am to be surrounded by a loving family, both mine and Matt’s. A group of people that have supported us from the beginning and now eagerly welcome our new addition. In a matter of 2 weeks Shanti met 4 Aunts, 3 uncles, 2 grandmas 2 grandpas, 2 great aunts, a great uncle, a great-great aunt and good bundle amount of cousins (no less than a couple dozen).

It’d take a few posts to gather all of the details, so I chose a handful of pics to show the love this family had to offer.

Below is Matt, his mom and her mother (Maw Maw)… 4 generations!

Following Maw Maw and Paw Paw’s visit, Matt’s brother and his family came to meet our little one. How exciting for her to connect with new cousins Jayden and Harper and her Auntie Erika and Uncle Jake!Just before leaving out of state, Shanti got one more outing with my mom. Can you see Gam Gam walking ahead of us?

If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you’ve seen this family throughout the years. My twin cousin Lana and her husband with 2 kids drove all the way out to Florida to meet Shanti!

After a few days on the beach, they were heading back to the middle of America… so I hitched a ride… again! This time I sat hip side to my little girl on her first road trip!Check out this comparison…

Once we finally made it to Arkansas, Shanti got swarmed with more cousins, hugs and tons of love!

To get from Arkansas to Oklahoma I rented a car and strapped her in. Mother-daughter road trip here we go!

Upon arrival we were greeted with no less than an abundance of more happy attention. Aunties, Uncles, Great Aunts, Great-great Aunts, Pa Pa, Ma Maw and more!

With our cups overflowing with family love, Shanti and I boarded her first flight (other than the 14 flights she took while in my belly) back to Florida!

Success! I took this video once we landed after the final flight… our little traveler!

Back home with daddy and we couldn’t be happier!

Categories: Baby Talk, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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