photo by Ash @earthipsy on IG

Naiya got to check something off our lil' cousin summer bucket list!!! This makes me ridiculously happy. After we left Vandy, we drove over to the Gulch for a healthy smoothie and an instagrammable mural shot. Naiya knocked it out of the park, of course, posing in front of an adoring crowd who literally cheered for her...

She generously allowed me to pose alongside her even though I am forever dressed to match the municipal parking garages and she looks like a summer day spent boating on the lake followed by a parade and fireworks.

Look at those eyes...and that smile!! Naiya, you have been braver in the past 7 months than I have in my entire life. I love you so much, shug.

Ash said she has wanted to document what a chemo day for Naiya is like, but she always has her hands full. So, I tried to snap a quick pic or short video of the different procedures Naiya undergoes. This is what life is like for them right now. They are both so incredibly brave...

Spent last night with Ash because we have to be down at Vanderbilt super early today. Since this was also Kindred's first sleepover without me or her dad (at Grandma's with Nova & Aunt Kat) I didn't figure I'd sleep so well anyway, which is why I brought my own coffee pot & coffee. If I haven't slept well, you CANNOT screw up my morning coffee.

Anyways... Me, Ash, and Naiya all cuddled up in their king sized bed around 11pm but it was still after midnight before I was able to fall asleep. At 3:30am, I felt Ash move in bed and check her phone on her nightstand. Like, I heard her set it back down. So, I turned over to see if she were still awake...but, she was facing me and fast asleep. She obviously hadn't moved. And, then the tv suddenly went from Netflix's black 'Are you still watching screen?' to the one I quickly took a picture of above. It says, "Chasing Cameron."

And, that is why I was still awake when the alarm went off at 5am...

Summer Bucket List #24 took us to Dinosaur World in Cave City, Ky. It is just a half-hour drive up 65N. I remember going to Cave City right about the time it started looking like a ghost town in the 90s. The whole place seems like a remnant of a bygone can almost see the 50s model cars in all the abandoned parking lots. My grandparents honeymooned there at the Wigwam Motel during the height of its popularity. Many years later, I was there for elementary school field trips to both Mammoth Cave and Guntown Mountain. Guntown Mountain sits across from Dinosaur World and, as I drove by it, I remembered one time Ash and I got stuck for about half an hour on the chair lift. I think I was about 18 so it was not a huge deal but, if it happened today, we would both have complete mental breakdowns from the anxiety. My mom and stepdad were actually in front of us at the highest point of the ride, and mom came pretty close to her own breakdown. She was gripping the safety bar and did not move a muscle the entire time. In the clip, the highest point is over a grassy area, but in '98 it was a blacktop parking lot. 

I love this picture above. It looks like the dinosaur turned to look at Kindred and it startled her...

At the farthest point from the giftshop, you are at a gigantic dinosaur visible to interstate traffic. Naturally, this was the exact location Kindred decided we were at a Level 5 potty emergency which prompted us to run past the entire second half of the trail.

All the signs say to stay off the ropes and not touch the dinosaurs. Kindred still decided to try the "But, I can't even read!" defense and went for it...

Dinosaur World is the kind of tourist trap that you find all across America, but thankfully it is well-maintained and the girls enjoyed it. After having driven past it at least 100 times, I'm glad we finally checked it out.

What is more American that baseball, apple pie, and fireworks? We had all three on the 4th this year! The girls are just smokin' their summer bucket list right now. They crossed off four things in 24 hours!

We have a minor league baseball team called the Hot Rods and this was our first time seeing them. Their arrival came during our Georgia years so we missed out on the fanfare of their early years. The stadium is pretty nice and the home-team emerged victorious so all-in-all, it was a fun time. I didn't see much of the game because we had 2 bathroom trips, shared custody of a lemonade, and popcorn rationing in the time span of an hour. When I would spend my summers in Atlanta with my grandparents, we would go see a Braves game and the tv would always be tuned in whenever they were on. I'll always be a Braves fan because of this.

After the game, they put on a fireworks show and the girls loved it. They didn't shoot up too high, which was kind of strange, but they were still big and sparkly. Oh, and one went sideways and appeared to hit the scoreboard. I did get a little nervous when that happened.

To quote the great lyricist Miley Cyrus..."Yeah, it's a party in the USA."

This year, Thunderfest was held on the 3rd of July and the finale was truly one of the best I have ever seen. There were recordings by MLK and JFK that almost made me cry. Naiya's absence did make me cry. But, these little patriotic-dressed cuties had a blast and that is what truly matters.

It stormed a couple hours before the event started, so the humidity was at 150%. This is Kindred as soon as we got there. Approx 15 minutes later, she was drenched in sweat. The girl cannot take the humidity. It's her west coast bloodline. Her daddy was sweating too. Not me...I have acclimated nicely to breathing underwater.

Nova's face. That is all.

Look at my sweat-soaked cutie pie. Surprisingly, the bugs were not bad. But, we did have to park in the overflow lot which requires you to march, willingly, into the dark woods alongside hundreds of your fellow rednecks until it opens up into a field beside a gas station. I'm willing to bet that, 24 hours later, at least five of them blew their thumbs off with something they lit from a cigarette. 'Murica, baby.

I thought I could cheap out and buy glow necklaces from the Target dollar spot earlier in the day. But, the girls saw these sweet light-up wands and my glow necklaces were suddenly trash.

I don't hide that I think our country is a dumpster fire right now, but I hold onto hope that these girls will be the ones to turn it all around some day. 

...little Miss LaBelle, enjoying the cookie of her ancestors on a Sunday morning.