Monday, September 30, 2013

Lupi's Pizza Pies

If you are in Chattanooga and are in the mood for good pizza, you really need to check out Lupi's on Broad. On a Sunday night it was not overly crowded, but definitely busy. The atmosphere is psychedelic (similar to Mellow Mushroom) but the pizza was much better.

Lupi's pizza is topped with fresh, local ingredients, though at a premium price. They also offer a whole wheat crust that was extremely good. If you need gluten free, that is on their menu as well. We really enjoyed our experience here, it is now in our Top Five favorite pizza places ever.

Random story from our parking experience. We noticed scores of black birds flying overhead as we circled to find a parking spot close to Lupi's. Luckily we found one within a block of the restaurant. As a I turned off the car, we heard a plop and looked up to see bird poop land squarely on the windowshield in front of us. It then dawned on us what parking under hundreds of birds in trees meant... plop. plop. plop.

Daniel unbuckled Jack from the back and pulled him into the front seat with us (Daniel's exit would be onto the street, farther away from the birds). Plop. We counted to three, opened the doors and ran from the car. Thankfully nothing plopped onto us.

After dinner, we came back to a car covered in bird poop. And the birds had not left. plop. plop. plop. We sprinted to the car and somehow missed all of the birds' lovely presents. Note to self... do not park under trees when there are so many birds flying about!

I had to go get the car washed today.

Lupi's Pizza Pies on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday Things {Random, September 2013}

1. It has been a really trying couple of weeks. It might have to do with the fact that we have been in a hotel for 8 out of the last 11 days. It could have to do with the knowledge that Daniel is probably going to get busier at work very soon and we are trying like mad to find a livable place to rent (for cheap). Or it is knowing that we still have to sell a house in Hollywood (one that we have yet to put on the market). There are still so many unknowns and we are trying to make good decisions by basically guessing. We are stressed to the max.

2. My brother came to visit us last week for two days. He cooked for us and just hung out. He helped me pull staples out of a chair that I am recovering. He told me that I was being too picky about the rental house thing. I'm trying to take his advice. You can do anything/live anywhere for a few months, right? We have a lot on our plates right now but I enjoyed hanging out with my little bro and I'm thankful that he came for a visit.

3. I removed the blog RocketCityMom from my Feedly reader. It makes me a little sad, but we really aren't spending much time in Huntsville at this point, so it seemed silly to be in the know about kids activities that we can't attend. If you live in the Huntsville area, and have kids, I would highly recommend this blog as a resource.

4. Jack's newest phrase is: Oh my goodness. It's exactly how I feel about the news. I just can't watch or read it any more. Is it just me or is our world getting worse and worse. What is wrong with people?

5. I tried a new (to me) Bootcamp class at the Hixson Y this week. The ladies working out were all really friendly. Several of them have 2-year-olds so I am in good company.

6. I'm finding that most of my conversations are pretty awkward these days.
Make sure you come back for the Thursday bootcamp class.
I would love to, but... 
I'm not here on Thursdays.
I don't live here.
My life is kind of crazy.

Where do you live?
in a hotel.
in a vacation house rental.
in Hollywood, Alabama.
If you bought a Y pass you would probably exercise more.
Well, that is true, but... 
I'm only here 3 full days a week.
my child is in the midst of a big transition and I can't always show up at stuff.
I don't actually live here.

Can we hang out on X day?

I would love to, but I will be in Chattanooga then.
I would love to, but I will be in Alabama then.
See you in church on Sunday/Wednesday!
We wish we could, but unfortunately we will be in Huntsville on Sunday.
We wish we could, but unfortunately we will be in Chattanooga on Wednesday.

What are your plans/when are you moving?
It's hard when you are neither here nor there. Not fully anyways.

7. Yesterday I took Jack to a toddler story hour at one of the Chattanooga libraries. It was geared towards 18-36 month olds. At 22 months, Jack was a little on the young side of this spectrum. They had little squares of remnant carpet set up in a semi-circle. Each child was to sit on their square with a parent behind them. This proved to be a difficult task for my little one. He wanted to lay down or stand up or roll around. He thought it was great fun to stand and fall backward into my lap or to try to inch his way toward the reader. I am sure that it was a good experience for him and we will go back, but as a mama I found it to be incredibly stressful. I wanted him to sit like the other kids were. I had to keep reminding myself that he is a) younger than most of the other kids and b) this was his first time and the other kids have had lots of practice and time to be taught how to do it properly.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

See Jack {early August}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack using a felt basket for a hat and climb onto the coffee table. Oh to be a toddler.
{early August}

See Jack bounce. He looks so big in that crib, but I am thankful that he still sleeps in it!
{early August}

See Jack shut all of the doors upstairs. He loves to shut any door that is open.
{early August}

See Jack play with the garden hose. It's all fun and games until a toddler sprays himself in the face!
{early August}

See Jack push his dump truck near and then far.
{early August}

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mommy vs. Toddler

No, don't lick the rock.
No Jack! Don't stick your hands in the toilet.
No, don't stand in your toy shopping cart.

Do you need a new diaper?
Jack: No.

Do you want some milk?
Jack: No.

Do you want to go bye bye?
Jack: No.

As Jack continues to grow, he is testing his independence and, at times, my patience. Every day is a new battle of wills. I am thankful that he is learning how to communicate and tell me more of what he needs or wants, but some days can be challenging.

This week marked our first time staying in an extended stay hotel. Up until now, we have been able to find weekly house rentals that met our needs, but as fall approaches we are finding less availability. 

Considering that we were out of options, the extended stay worked out fairly well for us. Sophie posed a bit of a challenge with the need for multiple daily walks, but thankfully there was a park nearby. 

Our first night at the hotel, Jack had a hard time adjusting (he is probably just tired of the constant travel), but overall I think he enjoyed the newness of the hotel. 

I'm pretty sure that his favorite thing was pushing the handicap button to open the outside doors as well as having an elevator to ride every time we went somewhere.

Each morning Jack and I went downstairs to get our complimentary hot breakfast. After eating we would go back upstairs to get Sophie for our morning walk. By the end of the week, I had several hotel guests stop to tell me how well behaved Jack was.

I guess all of my "No's" are actually having an effect.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

See Jack {mid-late July}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

See Jack getting his cars lined up.
{mid July}

See Jack play at the Splash Pad and master the water slide.
{mid July}

See Jack climb up on a bar-height chair at Aunt Emily's house.
{late July}

See Jack at the Splash Pad with his daddy.
{late July}

See Jack play with water in his high chair. The kid loves water.
{late July}

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Last week we stayed in NorthShore (across the river from downtown Chattanooga). Daniel has been working two hours from our home in Alabama since June. In an effort to keep our family together, we have been choosing to stay in the Chattanooga area during the work week. This is definitely not a vacation, but we have been enjoying some of the perks of being in a city again. We hope to sell our house and be in a permanent place by the end of the year.

 Tremont Tavern on Urbanspoon

We ate at Tremont Tavern last Sunday night. They have excellent burgers and their homemade chips are the best I have ever tasted. Seriously! This was our first visit and we weren't sure what to expect. One review mentioned that it is a small bar with limited seating. When we walked in the door, it was packed. As we briefly waited for a table, a woman at a table next to the door started chatting with Jack. She told us he was the cutest thing in the bar and then offered us her table. Score. Yay for having our cutie pie with us. 

I ordered the Dirty Gomez (which is half chorizo and half hamburger) while Daniel got the Gouda Burger. Both were excellent, though we both liked the Gouda better. The Dirty Gomez had avocado on it (yay) but it was doused in a healthy dose of lime that overpowered all other flavors (boo). Overall we enjoyed some great food and were thankful that we didn't have to wait very long for it.

Monday involved a bathtub that wouldn't drain and a plumber coming over after supper to fix it. He had to take apart the wall as well as climb into the crawl space to make it drain. It was an interesting night – one that started with the owner of the bungalow asking if it was okay if she got a plumber for the next morning... umm, no. We both had worked out and were in desperate need of a shower.

Speaking of the bungalow, it was a bit of a fun house. It was super cute, but none of the floors or walls were plumb. If you have ever seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lily and Marshall buy an apartment with crooked floors, well that was the kind of house we were staying at. Wait for it...

At one point, I thought Jack had finally figured out how to pedal his tricycle. When I turned his little bike around, I realized that he had just rolled across the floor with a little help from the the sloping floor!

In addition to the floors, the house was 48 steps from the street. Trying to walk a dog every day, with a toddler in tow, and maneuvering all of those steps was a challenge.

I'm thankful that Jack listens well because having to get a stroller in and out of a car, while he stood on the sidewalk, was disconcerting at times. The good news is that we all survived! I have decided that this area is definitely not a great place to live if you have BOTH dogs and toddlers!

I finally got my Y membership. I committed to a minimum of two workouts this week. First up I went to a Spin Class downtown. I haven't done a spin class since we lived in Charlotte. Spinning is a little different here. The bikes are the same and the format is basically the same, but instead of being in a class at SouthPark full of sah/wah moms, the class was predominantly men that seemed to be serious cylists. The structure was basically the same but there were a lot more climbs to reflect the terrain of East Tennessee (not flat) compared to the relatively easy terrain of Charlotte (fairly flat). Plus I was glad that I knew what the instructor meant when he gave his cues. The music was great. Pink Floyd is perfect for a long climb and I can't complain about listening to Counting Crows or Sheryl Crow. Some good stuff in the mix! I'm looking forward to my next class.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Boat, a Museum and our Valet Parking Experience // Vacation Day 6

For our final day of vacation, Daniel and I decided we wanted to get out on the water. We considered our options – sailing, kayaking, a dolphin tour, or renting a pontoon boat. 

When we looked at the prices and time involved we decided that a pontoon rental was a good fit for our family. We also liked that we could invite our friends to tag along on our little day trip.

Luther's Pontoon in Destin had excellent reviews and amazing prices. As a bonus, prices had dropped even more because it was after Labor Day. In addition their low prices INCLUDES gas. We made a reservation and met up with our friends at 9am on Thursday morning.

The staff at Luther's were really friendly. Once they gave us some information about the boat and a map and tips for the harbor, we were off.

Daniel drove us out to Joe's Bayou first in hopes of catching some fish. Chris had stopped for bait and Luther's provided fishing poles for the kids for free.

Unfortunately the only thing that got caught was the anchor. It was a good try by Andrew though!

The kids all enjoyed testing the waters with the fishing poles. After the first round of bait had been nibbled away by the fish, we rode around the harbor and back to Crab Island to take a dip in the water.

Crab Island is a sand bar out in the harbor that is completely underwater. People anchor their boats there and enjoy getting in the water. There is even a floating hamburger stand during the busier season.

We hopped in, but this was clearly a thorough fare for jellyfish at the time of our visit. Andrew and Sadie were not fans of this, so they stayed on the boat and acted as spotters, pointing out where the jellyfish were to the brave souls in the water.

Thankfully jellyfish are slow and you can easily get out of their way. I was still a bit nervous about being in the water with them though!

After our 4-hours on the water, we parted ways with our friends and headed to the Air Force Armament Museum in Fort Walton Beach.

Daniel was excited to see this museum and could have stayed there all day. Jack enjoyed looking at all of the big aircraft and running around to his little heart's content.

Another big hit for my boys was getting to sit in the A-10 Warthog Trainer. So many buttons and gadgets to look at!

We finally got home and the guys napped while I finished my book and figured out where we could eat dinner. 

We decided on Stinky's Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach. When we arrived we discovered that the only parking available was valet. Normally we would flee from anywhere that mandated valet parking, but we were caught off guard, so we hopped out of our car and handed the keys over to a young guy.

We opted to sit on the second floor porch overlooking a small pond – I think I prefer gulf view for my water view. It was still a nice setting though. I think the porch was the default seating area for families. There were lots of little boys sitting in chairs, glued to gaming systems.

Before we ordered, Daniel ran outside to make sure the car was locked (he is paranoid about this). The car was not locked. The valet told him they never lock the cars... Daniel was not impressed since we had a GPS and radar detector in the vehicle.

Stinky's Fish Camp on Urbanspoon

For our meal, Daniel had the Fried Fish and I tried the Taste of Stinky's plate. It was decent food, but seemed overpriced to us.

To round out our valet experience, when we left the restaurant, the guy that had parked our car, 1) handed us our keys to our car that was parked 10 feet in front of where we got out of the car for valet parking and 2) apologized for not backing into the spot and 3) said that the owner's don't like them to handle stick shifts...

So from this, we took away that he probably didn't know how to drive a stick... we didn't offer to tip and the guy didn't seem to act like he should be tipped. Not to selves: Maintain policy of not using a valet.

We were blessed by such an amazing vacation. We really needed this time as a family. It was fun to do some new things and to introduce Jack to new experiences.  

2013 Florida Vacation Recaps: Day 1 // Days 2-3 // Day 4 // Day 5 // Day 6

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...