Punta Cana – 2017

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0079.JPGOur summer of get-to-work-on-transforming-this-new-home was put on hold to bring you fabulous-vacation-photos-and-review! (The only interior inspiration you get is this posh welcome bar – can you say Pina Colada, anyone?!! )…

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Many of you loved our vacation photos posted on Facebook and had tons of questions about the details of the trip, so hopefully those are answered here…and you manage to giggle a little along the way (if not by us, then by the elusive Dominican duck – seriously, I have an issue with clusters in nature, so their faces are almost encouraging an upchuck over here)!!

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(Amazingly enough, the babies look like fuzzy “American ducks”!!)

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Our trip was booked through vacationexpress.com where we quickly found amazing rates on all-inclusive flight and resort deals, as well as direct flight options, a MUST with kids!

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Initially we were set to head to Freeport, Bahamas, but because of the damage sustained from Hurricane Matthew (appropriately named for my ravaging Mr.!!), our resort was closed down. This was AFTER we had booked and paid our deposit.

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Vacation Express could not have been more awesome, promptly informing us of the news and even offering us a discount to switch our reservation to another location.

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Enter pristine Punta Cana! We like to vary our vacation destinations and since we went to Punta Cana last year, we hesitated going again…but we LOVED it soooo much AND we hadn’t taken the kids, so we went for it!

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We were initially booked at Memories Grand Bahama Beach Resort, so we transferred to their sister resort of Memories Splash Punta Cana. It was everything we had hoped for – and even more!!

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Not only were we greeted by a friendly staff, pristine grounds, and plentiful food (“So I can get a cheeseburger ANYTIME of the day?”)…we also had unlimited access to a full water park…

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…where the fam tore it up on the wicked awesome slides, and I embarrassingly screamed like a child (and got a massive wedgie, but thankfully didn’t lose my top!!).

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Memories Splash has five restaurants, including a variety buffet, Italian, Mexican, Seafood, and a pool-side grill. There was also a café serving up custom coffees, ice cream, and desserts. The food is divine and all of the restaurants are quite beautiful!

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On our first day, we met a native Dominican man who actually lived in Indianapolis (which is only about two-and-a-half hours from us) for most of his childhood. He asked if we would attend a sales seminar on his behalf at the Royalton Resort and Spa. The Royalton is in front of Memories Splash (you have to walk through it to get to the beach). The sales pitch only took about an hour and occurred over our breakfast, so we didn’t feel like it was a big deal (plus we got to tour the time share condo at the Royalton – with its fancy swim-up – and we got a Hibachi dinner for free).

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We loved how the Royalton and Memories, while separate resorts, have this very connected feel. We also fell in love with the cuisine at the indoor/outdoor Trattoria at the Royalton, where Memories guests can dine for free.

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Each day the pools had a variety of activities to entertain us our kids 🙂 and the pool bars had a specialty drink to try, which added to the fun! Here our kids are waiting to order…”Virgin please,” our little would say. (Um, pretty sure they know you’re not 18 – the D.R. drinking age!!).

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(Pretty pool – where I actually DID find a dead bird on day #1 – but unlike the dead iguana outside our room in Mexico, this one was removed promptly!!!)

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The Royalton infinity pool was another highlight, where the girls channeled their inner Jesus and “laid on the water”…and I battled a couple of Brits in a fierce game of pool volleyball (ok, the only fierceness was when I hit my OWN face with the ball!!!).

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This splash-pad-style sand rinse-off area acted also as a bidet for our children…just keeping it real!!

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But the best part of all is that WATER, WATER, WATER!!!

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(“Um, are there any sharks out here?!!!)…not that we ever saw 😉

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Seriously, look at the clarity! It’s so impressive – not my 14-year-old’s bicep (sigh, he’s becoming a man) – but how clearly you can see in to the water (please tell me you see that fish!!).

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(Check out those biceps though – whoa mama!!!)

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And the water temperature is like bath water!!

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Until next time…

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Disclaimer: I was encouraged by Vacation Express to write this review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

 

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Family Pics…and Our Sweet 16

Today we celebrate our sweet sixteen; Judd with a quick business trip up north, me with freshman orientation and football pics of the seniors, and together with a family football dinner with our son’s new team.

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This year the candlelit dinner or romantic beach walk just won’t quite fit in, as we’re experiencing a big dose of three-kids-in-three-different-schools, two-current-sports, two-jobs, one-business, and a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree kind of reality…

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But reality is what we do best!! And our reality is pretty messy and completely wonderful!

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Our reality started 21 years ago, in first grade at Bristol Elementary School. I was climbing up the green tunnel in the middle of all the big slides, Judd was chasing me, and mid-climb pointing out, “Hey, I can see your underwear.”

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I’m sure I was sporting a Bright’s Creek skirt with matching hair bow (a devoted matchy-matchy-girlie-girl) and Judd was already looking up girls’ skirts, but with comedic fashion!

Hopefully, at age 6, it wasn’t the underwear that kept him chasing after me 😂😂😂 but we became great friends!

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My parents’ driveway became our bball game location and where we created the “can’t quit till you make a swish” rule…and I even managed to “win” a few games!

The school bus was where we shared a crammed seat of musical instruments, school projects, Charlotte Hornets puffy coats, and Walk-Man’s with songs that had words that made me blush (and Judd knew every word!).

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We saw iconic movies like The Bodyguard, and forgettable ones too (can anyone even remember With Honors or The Pelican Brief?), all while sporting our silk shirts and Doc Martens.

We talked (yep TALKED, this was before cell phones after all) for HOURS on the phone and I swore Judd was right outside my window, watching me, he knew my routine so well.

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We even had one more underwear incident…me, in a game up to bat; Judd, watching behind the plate, pointing out, “You shouldn’t wear red heart underwear with your white softball pants!”

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And we grew up…and grew apart. We explored different interests, made different friends, experienced our own highs and lows, and only talked during that one dreaded gym class during first block or while Mrs. Kopy (I can’t even remember if that’s how she spelled it) passed back our Trig homework.

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We barely knew each other anymore on that senior year spring break, but talked like besties in the pool under moonlight, and decided to go to prom, just as friends (and to avoid awkwardness with classmates we knew we had waiting for us back home).

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Prom was it, the rekindled friendship, dancing to “No Diggity,” maybe even sneaking some Dark Eyes Vodka (it had to be cheap – 18 was the drinking age, right? 😉).

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When fall came, and Judd left for football in KY and I headed down to Bloomington, we knew our distance wouldn’t last long. We married after our junior year and welcomed our first baby 15 months later. Both Breckin and Whitley were at my college graduation and Stella came during the building of our second “flip” house.

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Sixteen years of marriage…

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…three kids, four dogs (not all at once, sweet Lord!!), two cats (passed on, one the absolute Devil himself), a teaching career, a small business, a sales career with several companies, countless vacations, sporting events, broken bones, broken hearts, beach days, lake days, best friends, best days of our lives (and an underwear story we’ll take to the grave 😂)…

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and it’s pretty sweet!

 

The School Market…and front door colors

First, there was the 3rd grade mini-economy market featuring clever business plans and products from all of our school’s little entrepreneurs. Then there’s our Stella.

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Our miss absolutely could not choose an item we’ve masterfully crafted before (and I’m an art teacher – it’s been done, people!!!). She chose the slime that required 3 failed attempts and about $30 lost profit before getting just the right formula. Then, said slime could not be called something girlie like “Fairy Dough” or “Glitter Goo,” but rather “Unicorn Snot!!” (Hey we attracted all of the “potty-humor-lovin’ consumers,” so I’ll let this one go!!).

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Next, Unicorn Snot slogan surprisingly stated, “Magic comes from the nose!!”…….Dear God, that sounds a bit like a drug reference. (Mama was hyperventilating – well almost – here’s where it got awesome!!!). Clever Unicorn Snot resembled somewhat of a…well, you know…kinda flesh-colored…a bit like a model of male anatomy…almost like…ok I can’t even say it!!!

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My daughter’s 3rd grade market project that was supposed to attract other innocent 3rd graders and make her some money looked like um, you know. Here are my proof pictures…

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Oh sweet Jesus, why did their phone hack pictures need to have it all up in their faces?!! Praise the Lord Stella wanted to experiment with other colors…I was really pushing the lime green and electric blue and knocking the “peach.” I’m typically not in to much color beyond white, black, gray, and navy, but I’ve been thinking outside the box for our front door.

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Our home will eventually be all white with black shutters, so I thought a pop of color would be nice.

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It just won’t be flesh 🙂

Garage Door Coming

We didn’t plan on our first project being the replacement of the garage door, but when the door is wicked old, and you have no openers, you sort of make it a priority. (Disclaimer: this is not the door we ordered – almost, though)

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Quite honestly I could make it till winter before the backing-the-car-out, shutting-the-garage-door, running-through-the-house, going-out-the-front-door, locking-the-front-door routine got unbearable…but once snow falls, this momma doesn’t do outdoor routines very well!! (Disclaimer: this is not our door either – but it’s even closer)

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The sales rep was a real trooper through my process of choosing just the right door (do you even realize the HUNDREDS of options?!!). Thankfully he didn’t have to sit through my hours of playing around on the “garage door simulator,” which is really quite addicting. (Disclaimer: yet again, this is not our exact door – Geez, you would think Pinterest would have an example of our door somewhere!!)

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In the end, we (I’m being polite – it was all me – Judd could care less about the garage door!!) ended up choosing a carriage style to complement the little attic door thingy we have in the gable. Our daughter, the thirteen-year-old one, in all of her high-opinion, really despises that little door! But there are some things you just must keep original when you buy an existing home, and we just know that this little door will be a nice accent to everything that’s coming! (This IS our home – new door to come!!)

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Our new door will be installed this week (fingers crossed), so I’ll show you the real thing real soon! Until then, I hope you enjoyed all of this “Pinspiration!!”

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Blessings!!

Rachelle

March Madness (and April too)

Just as Luke Maye scored the game-winning shot to beat Kentucky in the Final Four playoff game this season, and I excitedly about peed my pants, my sweet family and I scored the house of a lifetime (well, at least in our book!).

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Maye (and the epic Laettner, for that matter) may be praising #32, but we’re living for #4, house #4, that is. (If you’re counting actual houses and not the in-between moves, because then our son informed us that we’re at SEVEN!!!) Hey, lucky #7!

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Now, let’s be honest, house #4 (7-ish) could definitely use a bit of the Judd love (meaning it’s a complete cosmetic disaster – you know, the type of thing we swoon over). But the exterior appeal and the location are banging…like 3 minutes door-to-door to the school good. Since we pretty much live in those busy hallways and sweaty locker rooms, this is a VERY good thing!

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I’ll be sharing our plans and visions for this place in MANY blog posts to come, but for now, sit back and enjoy some visual pleasure…and PLEASE feel free to giggle right along with us 🙂

The great room will look brighter with white ship-lap on the walls and a whitewashed fireplace…

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And here’s the view from the great room in to the kitchen…

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And the upstairs hallway in to the loft that looks down on the great room. We will make this loft a reading nook and will take off that door and open it to the upstairs hallway…

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We seriously could not find the light switch in the formal dining room because, like the curtains, it matches perfectly…

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My brother-in-law will knock out this bar counter thing and give us a nice open kitchen with a large island…

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We have three fireplaces, one in the nicely wallpapered master bedroom…

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And speaking of wallpaper, don’t get dizzy and fall down the stairs…

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The kids’ bedrooms all came with cozy shag carpet (shown in gold here) and heavy polyester drapes…

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I will say, though, that we are thankful for the solid maple cabinets (because maple takes glaze soooo much better than oak) and the hexagonal tile in the shower/toilet area…

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All jokes aside, we LOVE our view, neighborhood, and proximity to things in town…

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Even the dogs are settling in (and our bulldog suddenly thinks he’s a cat)…

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And in reference to the “house of a lifetime” remark, you know we mean “house until the kids are all in college and we move to NC and can cheer on UNC and Duke without judgement from fellow Hoosiers.” So, 3 cheers (or 4 cheers or 7) to our “house of the next 10 years!!”

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Blessings!! More to come 😉

 

Halloween Accents

My son has a friend who owns a werewolf Halloween mask and is always trying to scare the ones he loves the most…

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For years now, he carefully stores the mask until fall makes its appearance, then plots out ways to scare the pee out of everyone he knows!!…

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His sweet momma with the “fridge incident” (a werewolf on top of the milk carton first thing in the morning is a touch of a surprise)!!…

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His dear friends endure “sleepover incidents” (waking up next to a werewolf after staying up till 2 o’clock in the morning mimics a nightmare)!!…

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And this year was my turn!!…

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Imagine coming home from a Friday night high school football game…basking in the glory of a good win…turning on the TV to watch the Highlight of the Night…hoping it’s your team (Ok, spoiler alert…this MAY be every football Friday in our home – we’re real exciting at age 36, ya know!!!).

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Washing your face before bed…looking up in the mirror and BAM, there’s a werewolf!!!

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Oh my, pee your pants!! I’m just lucky that I didn’t curse…I’m PRETTY sure I didn’t 🙂

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“Well, Mrs. Judd, it’s taken years, but I finally gotcha!!”

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And I have no retaliation…except that I convinced the group of middle schoolers that they MUST go to the haunted house I attended every year as a teen myself because it’s not THAT scary (wink, wink)!

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As a parent, though, it’s my job to keep these little boogers on their toes, so I will admit that I think about ways to steal that mask and scare the snot out of those boys!

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I’ll also admit that I’m glad the hubs and I can have such enormous fun with these kids our kids call friends…I mean, what 13-year-old would feel comfortable enough to sneak in to their friend’s parent’s bathroom to scare their mom(?)!!

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Oh my stars, that kid was so lucky that pj’s were already on, or else ultimate scare would be on him…EEK!!!!

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In regards to decor, I really do very little for Halloween. This time of year is so busy for our family with fall sports and school events that we barely remember Oct. 31 (hence the blog post about Halloween decor on Oct. 27)!!

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So, until next time, wishing you a Happy Halloween and very few scares your way!

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Blessings!!

Rachelle

Shopping List…

Target – burlap banner, pumpkin pillow (I think – sorry, it’s been a couple of years)

Hobby Lobby – buffalo check pillow

Pier One – metal spider cupcake holders (we used for pumpkins), cake stand, candle holders, gem/bone/skeleton mix (on table)

Jack-o-Lantern pictures in frames – made by myself and my kids – you can find these wooden pumpkins at Hobby Lobby. Just paint them and use mounting tape to put them on decorative scrapbook paper, take the glass out of a frame and put the paper in instead.

Black twigs – again, made by myself. It’s so much cheaper to spray paint twigs from your yard than to buy them at craft stores.

Early Fall Home Decor

I’m a summer lovin’ kind of a girl!! Lake parties and flip flops and bike rides and grilling on the deck. The smell of sunscreen and fresh polish on my toes and my kiddos snuggled up in fresh pool towels. The warmth of summer just speaks to my heart! But as the routine of school sinks in, and football nights get a bit chillier, the warmth I crave turns toward a soft, cashmere sweater.

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Ok…maybe not so much!! But it sounded so eloquent! I seriously could take summer ALL YEAR LONG!! I’d ditch that sweater for a swimsuit any day, 100 times over!

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When friends complain about the heat, and the sweat, and the humidity, and the bugs of summer, I secretly smile and savor every aspect of my favorite season. And this year, mother nature has been ever so kind and has blessed me with a summer that keeps on going strong…(it was 80 degrees here today, people!!!).

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I would be totally cheating my kiddos if I didn’t let fall creep in, though…just a little bit. I mean, after all, a little plaid pillow and a grapevine wreath never harmed anyone.

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So here is a sampling of the “fall bits” I’ve allowed to seep in to our home. (Golly, I’m making it sound like a plague!!).

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Happy fall y’all…I may even break down and buy a pumpkin spice something 🙂

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Blessings!!

Rachelle

Sources:

Wall paint color (greige) – Revere Pewter, color-matched by Sherwin-Williams

Wall paint color (in floating shelf cavity) – Naval by Sherwin-Williams

Buffalo Plaid Pillow – Hobby Lobby

Navy/White Chevron Towels – Pottery Barn Teen

Brushed Nickel Pendant Light (foyer) – Ikea

Scalloped Chalkboard, Farm Print, Take a Back Road Print, Red Truck Painting – The Pair (our store)