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.

...has stories for dayzzzz, my friends. He should write a book. I tell him this all the time.

He did the 70s & 80s just about as badass as the movies depict a muscle car drag racing/Harley Davidson biker who always manages to narrowly avoid death or prison by good fortune of unknown origins. We are talking spectacular crashes which skidded to a stop on the car's roof, wheels pointing to Jesus...being clocked at 120mph on the curvy Bucksville Rd ON A MOTORCYCLE...fist fights that included tire tools...diving in alligator infested lakes in scenes straight out of a Lynryd Skynyrd song, specifically any that include guns...and so much more.

I hear these stories and I think about how I started to wild out around age 16, myself...but, I certainly pulled back the reigns once Dylan came along. I thank my lucky stars for that boy. Lately, though, I feel like some of dad's genes are reactivating in my DNA. Not necessarily going totally off my rocker...just that I need to enjoy my life more. I have always felt a big responsibility in keeping others in line or safe, and I am realizing more & more what personal cost that came with. My dad's philosophy is that bad things happen no matter what and you might as well enjoy your life. I will never forget talking with him about his two brothers who have passed away. He didn't make any excuses or place any blame...he just said, "They enjoyed the ride. It was their life and they lived it how they wanted to. Nobody could have changed that." and I know he is right. They all have a saint/guardian angel in their oldest/only sister...and no matter how many times she got those boy's asses out of a sling...they went right back to Troubletown.

I think I was sincerely triggered when these girls came along. Brooklyn was a heartache unlike anything I'd ever known. I was terrified that something could take them from us and bring that heartache back. So, I took what I already knew from the health store, studied some more, and wound up with a working knowledge that pretty much everything is going to kill us. We ate organic, tried to stay as natural as possible in dealing with sickness, and Naiya got cancer anyway. No matter how vigilant I have tried to is going to happen. And, it is going to be beautiful, and bizarre, and joyful and painful. People are going to make their own choices and face their own consequences. I have to enjoy my life again and let go of feeling personally responsible to save them. This isn't some veiled attack on any one person in my life...I feel personally responsible for pretty much everyone. Have I met you? Yes? Then, I am worrying about you, too.

Listen, I'm not advocating drugs or alcohol (with a nod to the good Dr Gonzo) but I haven't really had either in a very, very long time. And, a few weeks ago, when I had a couple of those yummy summery Loconut rum drinks, I relaxed just enough to realize exactly how tightly I was wound. I took the first deep, cleansing breath in years. I've decided to just be me. Let the chips fall where they may. I want to have SOME FUN. I want to adventure again and have faith that it's all gonna work out in the end. I'm gonna love the ones I'm with and not give two squirts about what anyone else thinks about it.

Anyway, this is my Tuesday declaration...I'm (at least) half-hellraiser and I'm ditchin' the smokescreen, y'all.
...not a fan of root beer floats.
...the girls grew these sunflowers from seed!

...even the big kids had to come fly the kite with the Littles. today and celebrates the longest day of the year. Although, it is probably met with less fanfare in America since every single day of 2018 so far has seemed like the longest day of the year. These times we are living through are not for the faint of heart.

Today is overcast with periods of downpours. The ferns are outside to enjoy the false narrative that they have been returned to their native jungle. Speaking of habitats, I texted Berg earlier this week that I could thrive in the desert. I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN. I love the heat. I am in the only car in traffic with the windows down and I am not uncomfortable. I am mindful of my traveling partners, I am not anti-air conditioning...but I can bake in the sun and not break a sweat. The only hangups are that Berg had a heatstroke as a young man so he can't handle the heat and I cannot grow a succulent. I over-hydrate and they die. I care too much.

Kaypacha says we are collectively in the cosmic soup right now. All the feels, hitting us all... Aspects, eclipses, and Mars in retrograde, oh my! Break on through to the other side, my friends. The sun is in Cancer now (as is Mercury) opening us up to really "see" our past and future. Cancer is about the inner self, the inner child. He tells us to set aside time to really get in touch with ourselves, our family, our ancestors. We want to transcend our boundaries, our mistakes from the past and dream a new way of life for ourselves. Get into your heartspace, people. It ain't easy, considering the trauma we see daily, but it is necessary to co-create a kinder, more inclusive Earth. Of course, this doesn't apply to Nazi's...if you see a Nazi, punch a Nazi. In the words of the great Doc Holliday, "You're a daisy if you do."

Any big solstice plans? Just gonna set some intentions, make some goals, and hang with my family. Happy solstice to you!!

Muffins are the best... You can bake them the night before and be super lazy about breakfast the next day. I saw this recipe on the back of a new coconut flour we got in at work. I'm always trying to find a way to add iron to Kindred's diet, as she runs slightly low and we have to supplement. Between the coconut flour and chia seeds this one calls for, it has the iron base covered.

You can really smell the coconut in the flour...which is great for me because I love coconut! The amount of batter it yields is way more than the 3/4 cup per muffin cup the recipe calls for. It pretty much filled them completely up, which made me nervous, but luckily they don't really swell out too much.

They started to get really brown on top during the last 5 minutes or so. I just cut the heat off and kept a close watch. They taste great and are plenty moist...but that comes from all the extra coconut oil. These are pretty oily muffins. Next time, I will definitely try to cut some of the oil down. The kiddos love them so I'm calling these a win!!

*We also substituted hemp seeds for the chia, as those were the ones I had on hand...

Do you love the Caribbean or coconut? Are you a pirate? Will two wildin' out preschool-aged girls run circles around you during the week? If you answered yes to any of the above, I have a perfect drink for you!

A few weeks ago, I saw a commercial for the Loconut and I thought I would really love it. It sounded creamier than regular coconut rum and spicer than Malibu. I figured the added spices would help me achieve the spicer taste of my favorite Pina Coladas from Savannah, Georgia. In my opinion, the perfect PC shouldn't just be predominantly pineapple & should taste a lil' spice in there. I was willing to risk it to see if it tasted as good as it sounded...

I wasn't disappointed!! Loconut is 40 proof, so even though there isn't an overwhelming alcohol taste at all, you still feel the effects of that. For me, I just feel a little more relaxed and that is nice. The best news is that I don't get a headache or feel terrible after I drink it which is something that has been happening often enough for a few years that I very rarely have a drink. Also, if you scratch & sniff the bottle, it smells like coconut! So much winning!!

To make my yummy summer drink, I grab a pint glass and fill it a little over halfway with pineapple juice. I finish filling it almost to the top with orange juice. Good orange juice. Don't come at this rum with orange juice from concentrate. I pour the glass into my taller Ninja blender tumbler. If you don't have a taller tumbler to blend with, maybe do 1/3 and 1/3, or less. Then, I add 2 shots of the Loconut rum as this makes almost two drinks in a pint glass. I add a handful of frozen strawberries and one banana. Blend and enjoy!

Oops, forgot to take a pic before I drank it! I store the other serving in the fridge and drink it pretty fast so I'm not sure how long it will keep. It's a lot of fruit and a lot of sugar, yes, I know...but it's soooo tasty. The Loconut is smooth and creamy. If you taste it as a shot by itself, you can definitely detect the hints of vanilla and spices. This is not Malibu...this is much, much better than Malibu. ***edit 6/18: I tried to substitute Malibu just to see if I could achieve the same taste and it was a total bust. Did not taste good and instant headache.***

Sidenote: The Loconut does not blend just by stirring. I have also done a pint glass with 1/3 pineapple juice, 1/3 orange juice, a splash of unsweetened coconut milk and a shot of Loconut. You still need to run it through a blender or have a shaker of some sort.

What is your favorite summer cocktail!?!

Last week, the kiddos and I popped into the mall to get a quick haircut for Dylan. Thank goodness for Mastercuts when you are in a rush but the man-curls are outta control. In our mall, Mastercuts happens to be right across from Boot Barn. When Kindred saw these two mannequins in the window, she excitedly shared that me and her daddy would look FANTASTIC in those outfits. Now, I wasn't sold on Berg wearing flannel cut-off sleeves, or a cowboy hat, but I did agree that the red dress would probably look super fantastic on me. I loved the high-low style! Believe it or not, this was actually my first purchase from a Boot Barn even though I grew up an hour from Nashville!

My style is really just all over the place. I don't know what you'd call it...boho moto, maybe...haha! I love a white v-neck tee with ripped jeans. I also love gray and black in an assortment of styles. To be honest, anytime I buy something overly colorful or flowy...all hippie earth barely gets worn until it winds up stored in the attic or given away. My 'Style Inspo' Pinterest board shows more cohesion than my closet I the only one?

But, back to the red dress...

I also bought a pair of tan cowboy boots with turquoise/aqua accents to match the colors in the dress. I went all in, guys. Dylan said it looked like "Country threw you up." He's so sweet to me. Ash was in favor of the pairing of the two, but Kat was not. She said I should lose the boots. I was also advised to leave my hair curly next time I wear the ensemble. Never before has an outfit elicited so much advice. Since there was no place to go square-dancing, we just went to Ruby Tuesday's and then had ice cream at Bruster's afterward to check out all the classic cars in town.

All in all, it was a fun time! I make a halfway decent country barbie. If you're interested in buying the dress, click here. I bought the large, though the medium fit just fine. The large hangs down about an inch or two lower, and there was a little more room in the shoulders for an off the shoulder look if I decide to do that.

  1. Go out for ice cream.✔
  2. See classic cars.✔
  3. Make S'mores.✔
  4. See a movie at the Drive-In.
  5. Plant flowers.✔
  6. Play with sparklers at dusk.✔
  7. Attend an outdoor concert.
  8. Go to the Farmer's Market.
  9. Paint our nails a bright color.✔
  10. Visit the library for storytime.✔
  11. Bake pink cupcakes for Brooklyn's birthday.
  12. Ride the carousel.✔
  13. Watch fireworks.✔
  14. Fly a kite.✔
  15. Play mini golf.
  16. Go to an arcade.
  17. Drink a rootbeer float.✔
  18. Cousin sleepover.
  19. Eat a watermelon.✔
  20. Go to the county fair.
  21. Catch a baseball game.✔
  22. Picnic in the park.
  23. Buy something from a garage sale.
  24. Find dinosaurs.✔
  25. Take a picture in front of a mural.✔
  26. Family kickball at Grandma's.
  27. Play freeze tag.
  28. Get local-made candy from Mary Jane's. 
  29. Sip lemonade.✔
  30. Eat a peach.✔