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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Our 8th Anniversary

As I just hit "post" on this entry I then went and scrolled through my favorite blogs to read and saw this post, written today, by Ashleigh's husband Brad. Both of us today sat and wrote about our 8th wedding anniversaries. While my reflections on our recent celebration is filled with little jokes and restaurant recommendations, Brad's reflection is on the thankfulness of each day, each sunrise, each moment. I am brought to tears by his post and by the thought of how he must be feeling and how they have both so beautifully honored their vows to each other. My prayer for my marriage is that we can love each other and care for each other and appreciate each other as Brad and Ashleigh have done. I'm so thankful for their example to us. Please continue to pray for Ashleigh.

*****

Every year Zach and I make sure to go on some type of solo trip to celebrate our anniversary. On the years when Zach makes the Aflac President's Club trip we consider that our anniversary trip :) This year that trip was to Japan. While we were a little bummed Zach didn't qualify...we weren't too bummed. Japan just hasn't ever been on either of our wish lists and that long flight did not sound fun to me! 

We decided to keep things low key and simple this year. All we really wanted was a few days away together. Somewhere close! We wanted to go over Memorial Day weekend and wanted to try to visit somewhere we hadn't been to before. Years ago we got into the timeshare travel circuit. We've done a countless number of timeshare presentations in our day. It's SUCH a cheap way to travel! Several companies still have me on their call lists and I get calls several times a week. Since I knew we were wanting something simple for our anniversary trip I started answering the calls and ended up getting us 4 days/3 nights in Hilton Head Island. The package cost us $299 and included that stay, 2 additional 2 night stays (which we gave to friends and family to use since we won't use them before they expire), $100 visa check card, and passes for 2 for a dinner cruise while on our trip. It was a steal too good to pass up :)

Side note but someday I really need to blog about my timeshare touring advice :) I'm quite the haggling pro with booking vacations through them ;)

We kicked off the trip by dropping Kye and Britt off at Mrs. Charlotte's and getting to see Tess a bit before we headed out. We enjoyed not having to rush and just cherished that alone time together!

You know it's gonna be a fun trip when Zach busted out the same outfit he wore when he proposed for the occasion...puka shells and all :) 




Nothing like a sweet note from our sweet boy :)


Our first stop was to check in at the welcome center to get our hotel accommodations. It was a little bit shady and it took us back to the old school days of our timeshare travels haha. I still wouldn't consider us super high maintenance, but we are def more "travel snobby" than we used to be. We were both cracking up when we left the welcome center. It just brought back so many memories for us! We couldn't check in until 4 so we went on the hunt for some lunch! It was SO FUN not having an agenda! Zach even took the planning reigns for me and researched where we should eat during the weekend. Everywhere he found was ON POINT. We had AWESOME food the entire time and it started off ammmmazing with the best burritos we've ever had! Java Burrito Company is LEGIT. 



We went to a little park area by the beach to go ahead and exchange our anniversary presents. We kinda both had present fails this year! My gift to Zach was one that there isn't a photo of b/c it was something for his eyes only ;) But then I also got him a "certificate" to go shopping to pick out a new suit. My gift was a fail for two reasons: 1. We had some suit drama (more explanation to come in a second, but it DID end up being a win in the end) and 2. I had an innnnntense visit from an unwelcome guest that same day. I mean HELLO BUZZKILL for a ROMANTIC trip away with my SEXY HUSBAND. Waaaaaah. 


Zach's gift to me was extremely sweet and thoughtful, and also ended up being a win in the end :) He got me a necklace that also ended up being one Mrs. Charlotte recently got. He didn't know that at the time, of course, but he wanted to exchange it and ended up getting me stuff that I LOVE (which you'll see later in this post!). It was so thoughtful of him to order the necklace he got me and really it's pretty ironic that both he and his dad picked out the same thing for their wives. Good taste is genetic I guess :) Another funny tidbit is that I bought Zach a golf shirt and then for Father's Day Mrs. Charlotte ended up getting Mr. Rusty the same exact one too! Zach also got a leather bound journal as part of my anniversary present...it's not something he is giving to me but is something he's going to write in to give to our children. He said he loves that I have the blog for them to read someday and wants them to have some notes from his perspective too! SO sweet :)


We headed over to Jos A Bank in Hilton Head to pick out Zach's suit and OMG we had THE WORST experience. We walked in the door and were COMPLETELY IGNORED for over 20 minutes. Like not even a hello or anything. We both even made eye contact with multiple sales associates and they didn't say a WORD to us. It is SO frustrating to fall victim to age discrimination. Which is a legit thing, by the way. We've had to happen to us before where we are looked over or ignored based on how young we look. They looked at us and assumed that we wouldn't be spending a lot of money on suits so they ignored us. I watched them help an older, well dressed man check out and he only bought a couple shirts. We planned on buying at least one suit! You can't look at people and assume they aren't worth your time! 

While we sat there waiting to be helped we actually google searched on our phones to find other places in town that sold suits and even made CALLS to other STORES and were STILL ignored. I was BEYOND angry and even did something I haven't ever done before: I commented on their Facebook page haha. It's not my normal style to complain but I was really looking forward to my husband getting the royal treatment in getting to pick out a nicer suit! It was his gift from me and they totally ruined it! Ugh. I'm still bitter!

We left and on our way out of course someone finally spoke up. Too late! They ain't gettin' my business! Thankfully by then we could check in the hotel so we just headed there :) 

We chilled in the room for awhile...we were still stuffed from those banging burritos! We brought How I Met Your Mother and watched some episodes before getting ready for dinner. Also I'll go ahead and let y'all know....we don't love How I Met Your Mother. EVERYONE recommended it to us. We're on like season 5 I think at this point? We can't stand Ted. Or Robyn. There really isn't a whole lot of character or plot development. It's alright, but it's not even close to The Office or Parks and Rec. We will def finish it out but I'm sorry to say it just isn't the best fit for us!



For dinner we went to a local place with rave reviews called The Sea Shack. It is NOT a place I'd recommend visiting with children because it's a tiny restaurant and you have to wait outside for quite awhile before getting in to actually eat. I think we waited around 45 minutes? Which isn't too bad but I wouldn't want to do it with young kids! I'm not waiting that long with kids unless it's to meet Mickey ;) 

We enjoyed the people watching in line and the experience of the anticipation of how good the food must be :) It did NOT disappoint!!! I had a crab cake and hush puppies and it was awesome! We both loved it!






For dessert we found a little ice cream shop and again, enjoyed people watching. We watched these two little brothers basically beat each other up. Their poor mom looked just so exhausted! Maybe it's a brothers thing but I just can't fathom my kids hitting and kicking each other and just being cool with it? 


We had SUCH a great first day and just both really instantly fell in LOVE with Hilton Head Island. I don't know why we hadn't ever visited there before? It's only a 3 ½ hour drive for us. Which isn't bad AT ALL. Yet we NEVER hear anyone talk about it. Even when I posted on FB asking for tips...no one really had any! I think it's like a little secret that people in Georgia just forget exists? I always assumed it was SUPER far away. I really, really want to take the kids back! We LOVED it and I really recommend it to everyone to go visit!

The next morning we had our timeshare presentation. I plan to write a post at some point also about how to master the time share presentation. Because we have it DOWN. The best advice I will go ahead and give is to EAT BREAKFAST PRIOR. They get you by saying it's a free breakfast. What they don't tell you is that your presentation time clock doesn't start until after you finish eating. So when you get there and you sit down and get food and the sales person sits with you and talks to you while you eat? Yeah. That's not considered "part of" the presentation time. We have learned by eating prior and saying no thanks to the free food that it cuts the tour time down BIG TIME. 

Bonus for me was that there was a PANERA near our hotel. Y'all. I'm obsessed with Panera. I heard we're getting one here and I legit wanna camp out for the grand opening. I love it. I also will say that I have legit looked into cost of opening one. I was hardcore on the "let's open a froyo place" train and NO ONE took me seriously. Well now we have one and it's done SUPER great. Everyone should have listened! Our McAlister's recently closed and our Atlanta Bread Co is so expensive that we just  neeeeeed a Panera! Unfortunately you have to commit to opening 7 of them within a certain amount of time to be able to open one. I think you also have to have like 7 million in assets. You know, small problems ;) 

We got some awesome Panera breakfast then were among the first people to arrive for the tour. It was hard to resist the free krispy kreme donuts but we did it :) I also made sure to walk in with my Panera cup to make it loud and clear that we already ate. We had THE SHORTEST presentation EVER. We were out of there in under an HOUR. Which is UNHEARD OF. They are all 90 min, which usually means 2 ½ hours. Our sales guy was very good (I told Zach he should have recruited him for Aflac but that would have taken more time haha) and knew quickly that we weren't going to buy so he didn't waste our time, or his. We never even had to actually see any timeshare property. Quick and easy and done!

We got back to the room and hung out a bit then got ready to hit the BEACH. We had SO much fun on our short baby moon/anniversary trip to Jekyll Island last year and I was just really looking forward to some lazy beach time with my man :) 

The ONLY downside we found to Hilton Head Island is that they only have one public beach area. While there is a ton to do in that area, and it's beautiful, it's crowded. Once we got parked we hit up an awesome sub place called Stu's Surfside Subs



The beach was literally people every where we could see. It was crazy! But it meant for some great people watching. The beach was beautiful. The sand was nice and hard for my foot ;) and the ocean was gorgeous. We really enjoyed watching a family beside us. They had a yearly tradition of building drip castles. It was precious to see a family enjoying time together and we asked to take a picture so we could copy ;) 


After a couple hours of beach time (btw I was LOVING What Alice Forgot on this trip!) we went back to the room to freshen up for our romantic (free!) dinner cruise. Our timeshare deal included 2 free passes for a romantic sunset dinner cruise. Having done enough timeshare packages at this point, we've learned never to expect too much out of the "free gifts." We called in advance and made our reservations. When we got to the spot for check in they told us they didn't have a reservation for us. Turns out the girl I spoke with accidentally made it for the wrong night! We gave our sob story (it's our anniversary, our romantic getaway without our three children, we were so excited, etc) and then waited to see if they could find a spot for us. We lucked out and got the spot! Plus I'm pretty sure we were supposed to have to pay some sort of docking fee or something (there is ALWAYS fine print with anything "free"). I'd been prepared to shell out $60 for it! But with all the issues they didn't charge us and they told us we could get a complimentary cocktail once we boarded. 

While we waited to see our boat fate we enjoyed more beautiful views. Everything in HHI is just so pretty. We LOVED the overall vibe there. It's very chill and relaxed and kinda geared towards older people. Which, hello, is more our type of crowd than normal 30 year olds haha. We found a Christmas shop and got an ornament and then just sat together and watched a wedding :)









On our way to board the cruise we talked with some other couples. I've mentioned this before but I just don't get why people want to spend their alone time together talking to strangers. I'm all about talking up some people when I'm solo...but on a romantic dinner cruise with my husband? Not really interested in making friends with people we surely won't ever see again! They were all nice and it was funny b/c Zach legit hit it off with one of the guys. We did the whole game of being nice but then secretly praying we weren't seated near them thing ;) It did score us some good pics together curtesy of our stranger friends! And they also asked to get pictures with us on their phones? So random. 




At first we were excited to have such beautiful seats...but then we realized the people with the inside seating actually had the best spots b/c omg wind. Still totally worth it but man we wished we'd brought more layers to wear! 



Our waiter was really awesome and had just moved to the area and just started the job. We really liked him right away and made sure to leave him a great tip. We figured most people on the ship probably were doing the free timeshare gift thing and many probably weren't tipping at all! With all the mix up with our reservation we scored free "cocktails" which they let us use for virgin daiquiris :) 




The cruise really was beautiful! It was about 3-4 hours long total which was a bit on the long side. Dinner was great and we were super impressed that it was a timeshare gift! Def one of the best ones we have had! It was a buffet and we could get as much as we wanted, Zach loves that :) We also had plenty of time to enjoy the views and each other! And we even saw dolphins!!! Which you know I LOVED!








Of course the highlight of the cruise was the crazy story associated with it ;) We always have a crazy story, right?!?! Zach got up to stretch his legs a bit towards the end of the cruise and noticed a couple asleep at their table. He talked to our waiter and some of the other guests and found out that the couple was on some pretty hard stuff. They passed out cold IN THEIR FOOD. Like the guy's face was literally laying face down in his mashed potatoes. The wait staff had to come over and physically move his face. They were both SOUND asleep/passed out the entire time and didn't wake up at all.  (Side note: my husband is SO innocent! When someone said to him that they were on drugs he said, "like marihuana?" bahaha No honey, smoking pot wouldn't have caused that kind of reaction!) I really wish we'd stuck around to see how the wait staff got them off the ship. I mean I kept asking if anyone thought to check to see if they were breathing?!?! Who the heck goes on a dinner cruise while taking drugs?!? Maybe I'm just super innocent with that kinda stuff too but I just don't get it! 


We enjoyed a pretty walk back to the car and even stopped to watch a performer who was singing kids songs. It was cute...except it was 9:30 at night so we just kept thinking "what the heck are kids doing up right now?" haha. They had an awesome playground there as well! Yet another reason to bring the kids back!

The next morning we got another sweet (and beautifully written) letter from Kye and a sweet pic of Britt with her Big Papa!



We went to Panera again for breakfast (told ya: obsessed) and then went to play some hardcore putt-putt. I also took a picture to show off Zach's amazing itinerary for our trip ;) If you can read the writing then you will know the top places to eat in Hilton Head Island!


One Sexxxxxy Pirate!


The putt-putt place was awesome. We are used to DYING in the heat in St Augustine when we go play putt-putt with the family but this course was so well shaded and had lots of Bible verses and inspirational quotes. SO inspiring to see a business not ashamed of God's Word!!!






Our very first official date as a couple was playing putt-putt down in Tallahassee. At the time I didn't know that Zach Parker was someone who never loses or else I would have rubbed it in his face more that I beat him that game ;) Although I think I may have won by distracting him! ;) I don't think I've beaten him at much since then haha. And this game proved to follow our typical pattern. I did play pretty well though and we had a great time! Usually when the kids are with us I can't play, so it was nice to just take our time and enjoy it!



Score to beat for the day!


Kisses for the winner :)


We headed back to the beach...we had a good system down. Zach dropped me off at the parking lot walkway with all of our stuff then went and found parking. I just set up a chair and made myself comfortable. Being a holiday weekend it was SO CROWDED and it took him a good while to find a spot! 


Ice Cream snack/lunch



Another day on the beach enjoying each other :)



I was so impressed with Zach's memory! He not only busted out his proposal outfit but even packed his robe that we bought while on our honeymoon in Maldives!!! I wished I had packed mine! We snuggled up and enjoyed watching more How I Met Your Mother! I had to pump on this trip (last trip away from Tess while having to pump!) so it was nice that it was so chill and we could easily work around my pumping schedule! 


For dinner we decided to get some pizza. We went to Flatbread Grill and it did not disappoint! We both got hit with some straight up exhaustion and were pretty out of it haha. I think the sun just wore us out! At least we didn't fall asleep with our faces in our plates ;)



We rented a Red Box for the night. It was Foxcatcher and I love a story based on true events! We both liked it but the bad part was we accidentally left the dvd in the room when we checked out!!! YIKES. Of course the cleaning staff said they didn't find it (when we specifically know it was sitting, clear as day, on the dresser). Thankfully red box was super great and let us off the hook from having to purchase it...because we didn't realize we'd left it until we were already halfway home! 

After checking out we hit the road to head home and stopped to get breakfast at one last top rated restaurant. Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe was, like everywhere else we ate, fabulous! It was a decent wait but well worth it. We even sat up at the bar and enjoyed the experience of seeing the hustle and bustle of a well ran restaurant up close! The biscuits and gravy were to die for :)



I loved getting texts from Mrs. Charlotte keeping me posted on the kids! They were working hard on some "exercises"




Since Jos A Bank was a bust we stopped at some outlets to look for a suit for Zach. We planned to go to J Crew but then randomly walked into a Banana Republic and DANG did they have some amazing deals! He ended up being able to get 2 super baller suits for less than the $200 I planned on spending on one. We also got him some ties and even got myself a couple dresses that were like $6! They didn't have his sizes in some of the stuff he was wanting and we lucked out and they had everything he needed in the correct sizes at another outlets nearby. We headed there on the way home and loved it so much that we plan to go back at Christmas time (we are planning a trip to Savannah...any suggestions???). It was def a UOT ("ultimate outlet team") success!!! I need to get a pic of him in the suits b/c DANG. Def sexy! You know he sells more policies just by wearing them ;)




Froyo before the rest of the drive home...couldn't resist a pic with a yellow bug!



We had SUCH a great trip! I'm SO beyond thankful to my awesome in-laws who take such great care of our babies so we can truly unwind and reconnect. It was a wonderful weekend celebrating our love and our 8 blessed years of marriage. We both feel like this past year has been an especially great one for our connection and our growth together. Praying our future is only filled with more good times, great memories, and further deepening of our love!

On our actual anniversary we planned to go out on a date but both decided we didn't really want to. We opted to just hang at home. Zach is a GREAT cook so he cooked dinner for us and we watched tv :) He also gave me my new gifts and I loved them both but am obsessed with my new watch :) 




I couldn't be more thankful for my husband and the opportunity to be his wife. I loved him then and I love him even more now. 8 years has FLOWN by and we are already figuring out where we want to celebrate the big 1-0! (Again...suggestions? We are thinking maybe Greece?!?!)



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