And All Is Well Because You’re Here – Cape Cod

The wheels of the borrowed stroller had barely hit the cobblestones before the clanging of the bell caught our attention.

Looking across the crowded street, I met his eyes, twinkling from underneath his wide-brimmed hat. He clicked his buckled shoes together, clanged his bell three times, tossed his cape over his shoulder, and cried out in our direction: “AND ALL IS WELL BECAUSE YOU’RE HERE!”

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If you’ve never had life affirmations shouted at you from a pilgrim decked out in his Sunday best, have you really even lived? That alone might be worth the trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Situated at lands’ end on Cape Cod, Provincetown is a quirky mix of history, culture, colorful characters, and sassy charm.

Think Key West meets Savannah, but in the most New England way.

Between the shops, restaurants, farmers market, and monuments, there was more than enough for us to do in an afternoon. We only had a few hours, so we walked the harbor and saw replicas of historical sailing vessels, ferries unloading boatfuls of weekenders from Boston, and whale watching tours departing for guaranteed sightseeing.

Commemorating the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620, Provincetown will celebrate the 400th anniversary next year. So, we gave into peer pressure and a few brave souls conquered the 116 steps and 60 ramps to climb Pilgrim Monument. They were rewarded with incredible views of the cape and the Atlantic Ocean.

From the packed streets of Provincetown, we drove a few miles down the road to Race Point Beach. The entire Atlantic coastline of Cape Cod has been preserved as a national park. The Cape Cod National Seashore is massive and completely full of unspoiled beauty.

(Tip: If you have a 4th-grader, you can get a pass that will grant you year-long free access to all parks within the U.S. National Park Service. Click here for more info and to print your pass! https://everykidinapark.gov/get-your-pass/)

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We climbed over the dunes and staked our claim on a few square feet of sand. The kids were mid-dash to the water, when I spotted the purple flag waving high above the lifeguard stand.

“STOP!”

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I wasn’t entirely sure what the flag meant, but the menacing outline of a shark against the purple background called for a google search at the very least. Sure enough, the flag warned beachgoers that Great Whites were in the area. A few of the more, um, stubborn people went for a swim anyway and gave us the best laugh when a seal surfaced right behind them. They practically walked on water trying to make it to shore.

We had a wonderful time. Cape Cod might be the most quintessential New England experience. Shingled cottages, charming towns, waving sea oats, bonfires on the beach, clambakes. Cape Cod has it all.

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No matter what’s going on back home or whatever stress you’re carrying on your shoulders, it all falls away when you make it to the cape. You don’t have to take my word for it. Take it from the life-affirming pilgrim.

All is well because you’re here!

Plymouth Rocks

IMG_3300The sunlight filtered through the trees, creating a kaleidoscope of shadows on the trail. Our footsteps were hushed by the dirt path, and the only other sounds were the songs of both bird and man carried on the breeze. I didn’t understand the words of either, but I wanted to hear more of both.

As we drew closer to the music, other sounds began to stand out. The giggles of children, the rhythm of tools, the crackle of a cooking fire. The trail delivered us from the forest and into an apparent time portal. We stepped into the clearing and found ourselves in a 17th century Wampanoag homesite. IMG_3290
This is the magic of Plimoth Plantation. You step through the gates and into history. You are in it. You can see it, taste it, smell it, and talk with those living it. The goal is to “illuminate the past and inspire the future.”

 

The staff welcoming you to the riverside Wampanoag homesite are not role-players. They are all members of local Native Nations and very graciously share their heritage with visitors. You’ll learn all about the traditions, customs, and everyday life of the people who’ve lived in this region for thousands of years.

 

As you continue down the path, you’ll come to the 17th Century English Village built along Plymouth Harbor. Painstakingly recreated homes and gardens line the village street. The people you’ll meet have adopted the names, histories, and viewpoints of actual Plymouth residents. You can observe, you can participate, you can ask questions. It’s truly the most immersive living history we’ve ever known.

 

 

Just down the street from Plimoth Plantation, you’ll find the harbor dotted with anchored boats, a shady park dotted with gift shops, and the star of the show–Plymouth Rock. If not for the beautiful columned structure, security guard, and chiseled 1620, it might look like any other boulder. And if we’re being historically accurate, it could very well be any other boulder. But I’m still glad to have stood there and looked down as the tide came in.

 

If you’re hungry, I’ve got an idea for you. Before heading to the Plantation, we headed to the beach for lunch. Sandy’s at Plymouth Beach offered fantastic casual meals and an even more amazing view. It’s an open air restaurant overlooking Plymouth Beach. We had some great seafood sandwiches and the kids meals came in a keepsake sand pail with attached shovel. Because genius.

 

Even though Plymouth is mostly known for all things Pilgrim, you can certainly find other things to see. Check websites like See Plymouth and Visit Massachusetts for more ideas.

IMG_3304Plymouth opens the door to a completely new understanding of history. But there’s even more fun to be had! Come for the pilgrims, stay for the beach! Either way, Plymouth Rocks.

Home Is Wherever I’m with You

 

Home is a fluid term.

It has meant so many different things to us over the years.

Whenever I smell salt air or hear seagulls, I feel at home. Those are some of my earliest memories from a childhood spent in a tiny coastal Florida town.

Home also meant Tallahassee. And for at least a decade, it meant the little blue house with the red front door. The place where we learned to adult and brought babies home and navigated some of the most brutal and some of the most beautiful times of our lives.

But then we moved and before we knew it, Atlanta felt like home. Our growing family bonded over a shared adventure. Parents and kids alike were on equal footing as we all faced new routines, new places, making new friends.

Home was our little rental house where Abby took her first steps and the big kids learned to ride bikes. Where I learned how far I could push my sleep-deprived body and where I also learned how to ask for help. Finally.

Home is the “unicorn house” we found together. Our answered prayer, a house that checked off so many boxes for an incredible bargain courtesy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Home.

The one thing connecting all these places?

My people.

The grubby hands. The smiling eyes. The fussing and the laughing and the singing from the next room.

The smell of freshly washed toddler hair. The bear hugs from arms that are somewhere between man and boy. The gentle tugs of my hair while little fingers practice new braiding techniques.

This.

This is what home will always be.

And this is what we take with us. It is not limited to buildings or towns. And that’s a good thing. Because we are about to blow out the traditional limits of what home means.

In just three weeks, we will pack up a summer’s worth of daily life and begin a thousand-mile drive. Jake accepted a 13-week assignment as a travel nurse for Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in Connecticut.

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Our inner gypsies are thrilled. We cannot wait to see and explore and do. We are already planning adventures in New York City, Boston, Plymouth, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and so many places in between!

The inner Type A control freak is completely overwhelmed. Our calendar is insanely full before we leave.

Oh. And we don’t actually technically really have a place to live just yet. Cue absolute stress meltdown.

Remember that bit up there about me learning how to ask for help?

Well, friends, this is me asking for help.

Know anyone in the New Haven area who’d like to bring in some summer income on a garage apartment or an attic or a basement or a camper or a boat or a van down by the river? We’re nonsmokers. No pets with us. (April will be at summer camp with Nana and PopPop.)

We’re friendly people. I mean–we’re absolutely crazy–but we’re sweet. =)

Comment or email with any leads! If your tip leads to us finding a place to live, I’ll give you a handpainted wooden sign of your choice from my Etsy shop, Haven Creek!

home is wherever i'm with youSo, friends? We’re really doing this! We’re taking this show on the road. If you’re in the New England area, let me know. If you know of any awesome roadside stops between Atlanta and Connecticut, let me know that, too.

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram. I cannot even begin to imagine the ups and downs this summer will bring us.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey!

A Few Favorite Places to Get Back to Nature

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With the cooler temperatures and the gorgeous leaves, I find myself giving thanks daily to live in north Georgia. Especially during this time of year. I want to be outside all the time. For all the things. Hayrides, pumpkin patches, family hikes, bonfires, farm tours. Autumn is my jam.

If your family is like mine and you love being outdoors during this season, family camping trips are awesome adventures. Whether it’s a dream come true or your worst nightmare, memories are sure to be made and they will last a lifetime! I grew up in Florida and we would spend our vacations camping in north Georgia. Some of my earliest childhood memories include sleeping bags, mountain air, and grumpy geese.

So if you’re ready to add some solid points towards that “Mom of the Year” title, here are a few of my favorite campgrounds. They’re so much fun, you won’t even realize you’re roughing it.

Please click through to read about my top three choices at Atlanta Area Moms Blog. Offering tons of activities in gorgeous settings (along with some alternatives to roughing it in a tent), you’ll want to add these places to your list! http://atlanta.citymomsblog.com/mom/favorite-places-get-back-nature/