// A Day In The Life - July Edition

Yesterday was neither exciting, nor unusual in our home. Just a typical Tuesday in the Flynn household. Here's a little glimpse into our day...
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
I've been waking up a little bit later than I'd like to admit. For a while I was on a steady roll of 7:45am or 8am at the latest. That's probably super late to most people, but that's one of the joys of being self employed + working from home. I've been falling into the habit of staying up too late with Mike, then feeling groggy all morning. I'm trying to kick the habit though! -♥- The first morning task once we wake is to brew a strong pot of coffee and pick out our mugs for the day. It's a dorky little thing, but it's sort of a highlight for us. It's special, and I appreciate that. -♥- Once I had my coffee I sat down at my computer and started returning blog comments. I love doing it and I manage to work it in weekly, but I'm trying to make it more of a morning habit.
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
After a late start and taking the girls out for their morning potty break, we sat down with Toby to let him work on his "schoolwork." We're pretty strict with Toby's tv/iPad time, though we try not to rule with an iron fist. He has to complete a certain amount of "school" related activities before he's allowed to go outside and ride his gator or go-kart. It's the perfect incentive for him to work hard at learning. So far, so good! I guess we'll see how it goes... -♥- Pipkin and Georgia are always present on the couch. Pip often gets a "broken ear" and we find it a lot funnier than we probably should haha!
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
Every day I carve out a chunk of time to work on custom painted sign orders. Yesterday was a shipping day so we wrapped and wrapped and wrapped. Then I doodled all of the addresses and Mike ran them to the post office. He came home saying our insurance lady was behind him at the post office and she complimented my hand-drawn addresses. I was a flattered, of course, and grateful that they received anything other than the oh so common eye-roll which one of our post ladies likes to share. She's not very nice! haha -- I charted out my to-do list for the day, which was surprisingly short for once! It was kind of nice, but also a bit depressing when I still didn't manage to accomplish a task that's been on there for a few days!
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
Lunch rolled around and it was the first meal for me and Mike. We're pretty bad about just skipping breakfast in exchange for a endless pot of coffee, but we're trying to better that. Toby is a creature of habit and eats the same thing almost every morning. I need to be more like him! Toby chowed down on a grilled cheese and applesauce for lunch, and I followed suit with a grilled ham + cheese with an abundance of hot sauce! Mmmm! That's the best way to eat 'em. -♥- Afterwards we headed outside and it somehow turned into an Enid glamour shoot. She's always posted up our on motorcycle like a hot rod kitty. I could probably take photos of her all day. She's kind of the cutest cat ever, in my opinion! (Tater Tot was snoozin' on the deck, but she wasn't really feeling photos at the time)
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
I had popped over to my Nana's house earlier in the day to see if she needed any help around the house, but she called me a bit later and asked for some assistance painting a room. I was trying to get everyone ready to head over when I walked outside and saw Mike trying to fit in Toby's tiny go-kart. Pretty hilarious when that thing would barely putt along. Toby thought it was the funniest thing. He was cruising in his Gator and he wanted to "race" Dad. I wonder who would've won... -♥- We headed over and even though it's barely a quarter mile away (if that!) I spent that time perusing Instagram to see what was going on.
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
We were over at Nana's house for well over an hour while Mike helped my uncle paint my cousin's room. I enjoyed sitting around and just chatting with my Nana. She's such a sweet lady. I like that we live so close to her now because she's one of my very favorite people in the entire world. Toby loves going over there, too, because there's always so many toys to play with. Once we got back I put up the newest batch of Stickygrams on our fridge. (The front of our fridge isn't magnetic, boo! So I have to resort to the side only) We're about 2/3 of the way covered on this skinny side!
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
We ran to the store to pick up some (super unhealthy!) ingredients for a sweet dessert casserole. I was super craving something sweet (you know how it is) and I loved this the last time we made it. Something must be happening with my tastebuds because here lately I'll crave something sweet but as soon as I eat it, I'm like "ugh, NO" Probably for the best haha I'll share the recipe soon in case you have a sweet tooth! Hey, anything that makes me feel a little more domesticated in the kitchen!
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
Toby decided he wanted to play a video game on the iPad (he loves Temple Run and all of the variations) so in order to earn that time he had to work on his alphabet. He played around with the Elmo alphabet app for a while until he earned the ability to download a game from the App store. He ended up getting the Despicable Me version of Temple Run (seriously, the kid loves that game!) so he was excited to play after dinner.-♥- Mike made some delicious chicken tacos for us for dinner, and we were all stuffed! Of course we each saved a little room for the dessert we made, but I have a feeling it's just going to sit in the fridge haha A little goes a long way!
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
A Day In The Life - July - Kaelah Bee
Toby did everything he needed to do to get ready for bed, and I tried to start the grueling task of removing 2 weeks worth of "mermaid" nail polish. I hate when my fingernails look stained after having them painted! (Any suggestions on how to avoid this?!) Now they're layered up with gold glitter... That'll be fun to remove! -♥- Toby asked us to play his game with him for a few minutes before bed, so of course we obliged. After that we tucked him in, said our goodnights, and then headed to the living room.

The rest of the night was spent watching Suits and Covert Affairs before crawling into an icy cold bed for a good night's sleep. It wasn't a revolutionary day, but it was ours!

Not pictured: Getting so frustrated with my own creative block while working on a client's design I contemplated throwing my computer out the back door (I'll just pick it back up in the morning...I needed to just walk away!), painting the most perfect sign for moms and moms-to-be (I'll be sharing it on Instagram today!), placing an order for even more sign supplies because they're the most fun things to make (It's seriously become this weird passion of mine haha), making polite phone calls and then following them up with very stern emails (ugh), and budgeting. Hey, it can't all be pretty!

Happy Wednesday! xo

// Things I Love Thursday v.144

Phew! I skipped over TiLT last week since we were so wrapped up in our vacation. I wanted to work on a post at the coffee shop, but honestly, these things take like 4 hours to compile! I try to make it a habit to rustle up a few different things throughout the week, but I'm really bad about leaving it until the last minute. At least that way I can include the most relevant and recent links, yeah? Let's go with that! Here's my favorite things from the past 2 weeks... Enjoy!

♥ this is the bet gif in the history of gifs. GET IT GURL! ♥
♥ i love this photo + this whole project/series
this bunny! ♥
these pretty flowers ♥
this. WUT?! haha ♥
this is hilarious and scary! ♥
this cat dressed as a shark, riding a roomba, chasing a duckling. ♥
♥ i love everything about this photo. the model, the styling + those bright colors! ♥
this piglet and the puppies! ♥

// The Sandlot: Then (1993) and Now (2013). You're killin' me, Smalls!

// This post by Questlove really opens your eyes about how it feels be a minority. Granted you can't really know what it's like unless you experience it yourself, but his words were pretty powerful.

// In really important Parks and Recreation news, Henry Winkler will play Jean-Ralphio's dad! YES! Also, Aubrey Plaza is April Ludgate! So good! (Thanks for the links, Michelle!)

// 15 Awesome, Useful Internet Tricks.

// Jamie has been blogging about her family trip to Branson! Susannah and I talked a few weeks ago about maybe making that our spot for this year's "annual girl trip" provided we can swing it! (We went to Indianapolis last year and got matching tattoos!)

// Erin is a stone cold fox and Karen shared some random bits of info about herself! I love random facts! Oh and I love this purple on purple outfit from Sophie!

// Wishlist Wears: I'm crazy into this royal blue color right now! (but this snazzy dress also comes in red!) // these two-tone flats! // these sunglasses are on point! // THIS DRESS IS AN OWL! // AND THIS DRESS HAS A GIANT PENCIL ON IT! // this dress makes me want to frolic in fields // these lace oxfords are the bomb dot com // peachy-pink platform wedges! // i've never been a camo girl, but i really like this camo jacket // and these floral cluster rings!

// The LuLu*s blog is KILLIN' IT lately!

// The Amazing Thing That Happened When I Decided To Be Nice. I loved this so much, and I need to put it into practice more often.

// OutCityLights: Blog Posts I Regret. I feel ya, girl! (Seriously, Diana is one of my favorite ladies and 90% of my Twitter favorites are comprised of her tweets. Gold!)

// YUM! This creamy avocado dip looks so tasty!

// If you're getting married and planning on having "out of towners" as guests, Tera shared their guest bags! So so cute!

// Kintage is currently offering FREE domestic shipping from now til July 31st! You can snag their deal of the week which is this gorgeous lace and chartreuse chiffon maxi!

// One quick thing before I sign off of here - I wanted to thank all of you for your comments, tweets, emails and texts yesterday after I published that somewhat intimidating post. I was a bit disheartened that so many fellow bloggers (and "friends") were so quick to drop me - unfollow and then passively/vaguely post about the whole thing. But so many of you expressed your gratitude for knowing the truth, and you shared your experiences with her, too. So many people have been taken advantage of and that's simply not okay! I understand that a lot of people would rather stay silent instead of rocking the boat, but so many of those people are makers themselves. They're the very people Mandy so regularly knocked off. Behavior like that is what makes people hesitant to share the truth, and if the truth isn't out there, change can never come. Anyway, I know yesterday was a bit of an uproar, but thanks for sticking it out with me. I value all of your comments and I appreciate you sharing your bit of the story with me! Hopefully I won't have to write a post like that for another 2 years or more! haha

What are you loving this week?

// Sketch + Sleaze: The World Wide Web + "Miss Indie" Mandy Ferrugia

Have you ever written a blog post that was so "WTF"-inducing that you didn't even know where to begin? Like, how do you take all of these examples and pieces of "evidence" to bring to light a whole lot of sketchiness? Some of you will already know what I'm referring to, but the chances are the majority of you are totally unaware of the drama that went down over the weekend. I know I won't even begin to do it justice as there's so much involved and so many lies, scandals and "woe is me" pity parties, but at least I can try, right? And of course point you in the direction of other examples.

Okay, So! The internet is a big place? I'm talking really really *really* big. Thanks to the birth of the web, independent artists are now able to share their wares with people across the globe. E-commerce is booming and we're being introduced to new talent at a rapid rate. But not unlike anything else, there's also a downside to this amazing virtual world. Not only are we able to share our creations at lightning speed, but we're likely to be ripped off just as quickly. Copyright infringement is far from new, but the internet makes it so easy. See a design you like, but lack the talent to create you own? No big deal! Just screenshot that baby and pop it up in your shop! Claim it as your own! Ain't no thang! Who on Earth will notice? The 'net is far too big for anyone to know everything right?!

As someone whose livelihood depends on the items I'm able to create with my own two hands, theft to this degree really gets my blood boiling. No one deserves to pour their heart, sweat and tears into something only to have it knocked off (or outright stolen) by another person. We could go into great detail and debate about the nature of knockoffs in each and every industry, but the "independent" sector really seems to sting right? It hits close to home for so many bloggers and blog readers.

However, since the internet is so big, most people remain blissfully ignorant of the sketchiness that goes down most days. Someone can rip off multiple (well known!) artists and designers, and their readers/customers could be none the wiser. That's basically what has happened here. After tweeting yesterday about being befuddled that so many people would still choose to support these shams, I received an @reply from someone who expressed their belief that it happens because no one makes these people aware. Lightbulb! Of course! How could I have been so ignorant to not think of this?! Shady things happen daily in the blog world, but rarely do you see anyone sounding the alarm and publicizing these actions. You can scour "snark" communities where the discussion is rampant, but it's stilly primarily anonymous. Why do we cower and hide from the truth? Are we afraid of being ostracized and shunned? Are we scared of being labelled a "drama mama" or "cyber bully?" Whether you have 15 followers or 15,000, it's important for each of us to stand up and voice our concern over shady practices. Especially when they immediately affect so many people in our community.

Have any of you caught on yet? Well, let's cut the crap and put it out there: "Miss Indie," Mandy Ferrugia, is under fire, and for very good reason. 

After years of (in my honest opinion) shady business practices, scams galore, and a seemingly endless string of duped customers/readers, Mandy Ferrugia "Miss Indie" finally got the backlash many were waiting on. Earlier this weekend Mandy launched a "design shop" where she featured multiple items that she claimed to have designed herself. She said she received so many design requests from readers and this was a great way to meet the need of her audience. That would've been well and good if 90% of the designs weren't directly purchased from this Etsy shop. The owner of the Etsy unfortunately had a very open-ended terms of use for her pieces, but even though "small business use" was allowed, we all know that means use in logos for your small business... not for you to re-upload with a janky font (that you also did not create) for 800% profit. Of course you can "legally" take that to mean what you want since it was in writing, but it was still a tacky move. Sure, sure, whatever. Regurgitate content all you want, you have to live with yourself. That wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back... That came in the form of her calling out an honest commenter, who brought these "mistakes" to light via a polite blog comment, a "troll." Reasonable response... pass the blame. If any of you have read Mandy's blog for a while, you'll probably note that a lot of her designs felt like watered-down versions of a much larger blog. Most of the time I chalked this up to her really looking up to this blogger, but sometimes it was hard to stomach. Still, it wasn't directly affecting my blog so I didn't worry too much about it. Mandy always seemed like a sweet girl, so whatever right? If you've followed her (now defunct) Etsy shop you might remember that she was "stalked" and "harassed" by a fellow Etsy member, and that's why she had so many outlandish negatives in her feedback. Nevermind the fact she (allegedly) rarely sent the purchased product to the customer. She then decided to move her shop to a different e-commerce platform. This one, conveniently, didn't have a feedback system. Huh! This move raised a few eyebrows, mine included, but no one seemed to pay it much mind. She later stocked her "indie" shop with a bunch of mass-manufactured pieces from China. Hey, I'm all for wholesale relationships and I understand how retail works! I get it! I'm not against mass-produced items, but I would never claim them as handmade. That's where she messed up. Even after people called her out on this, she still claimed many of the pieces were handmade (spoiler: most weren't!). Just a week or two ago Mandy did a shop update which included over half a dozen brooches, all purchased wholesale, that featured stolen artwork. Her readers quickly identified the proper illustrators of the pieces and called her out. Her response? The same old "Oh no! I had no idea!" Actually here, this is Erin's blog post about the whole thing. She was thorough enough to actually quote Mandy directly from her blog post(s).

Erin's blog post also includes a ton of relevant links (a few of which I snagged to include here as I didn't see them myself!)

A few instances of Mandy's shady behavior:
+ "100% handmade" items that were bought from China
+ Rip off copies of Danny Brito's work (see his here)
+ The (apparent?) beginning of her counterfeit career: all the way back in 2008!

Mandy's behavior isn't a surprise to a lot of us. We've seen what she's been doing for years now, but I think it's natural to want to avoid "rocking the boat" ya know? I unfollowed her on Twitter a long time ago, and I stopped reading her blog because it was just too much. Far too often I'd find myself rolling my eyes so far back into my skull, only a vent-sesh with my best friend via text would help. But it honestly wasn't until I got that @reply on Twitter that I realized someone (anyone! everyone!) needed to "out" this girl.

Yea, this has been going down for about 2 or 3 days now, and I first caught wind of in on our drive back home from Florida. I sent out a passive aggressive, frustrated tweet, not really thinking anyone would "get" it. Well, they got it! Conversation started. GOMI was the only reason I even knew about it since I no longer followed her. From there it just spiraled into a whole lot of "WTF"... After tweeting with a few other people who either saw right through her or was scammed by her, I woke up at 5am Monday morning with an email from Mandy. It was a mass email, written to 5 or 6 of us she had seen converse about the "incidents" (ha yea... "incidents") She was "hurt" because she considered some of us "friends"... Um what? Girl if my own best friend was half as shady as you are, I'd call her out in a heartbeat! You're not a special snowflake. I hadn't even opened the email yet, but my Gmail app let me know there were already several mass replies. I stewed on the thought of this email for a few hours, trying to imagine the contents. It's funny because I wasn't far off. I even had Mike read through the initial email and the replies. I try not to respond too quickly because I'm not always a level-headed person when my temper gets triggered. I've spoken in haste on many occasions and it's just left me feeling somewhat empty and misunderstood. But this... oh boy... this email was a doozy! It was a full on pity party. The responses from my fellow bloggers (and friends) were all kind, but stern. I was proud of my friends for saying what they believed. No one really wants to be "that person" like I said, but sometimes you have to. The first line of my email: "Let's all stop pussyfooting around.... what you did was TACKY!" My email was a bit hot-headed and had more than it's fair share of expletives, but I felt like they were deserved. I could have just as well stated my case in a much more mature manner (which Michelle from Creature Type actually did! Good on her!) but I was mad. I was mad that my friends were ripped off. I was mad that she made it hard for real professionals to make a living. I was mad that she gave the same sad excuse time after time.

We were a group of people who could not be considered "jealous haters" (Everyone wants to use that excuse when they get criticized online... why?!) How were we going to be shrugged off this time? Bloggers and blog readers alike were talking. It was hard to ignore the conversation. Of course it's been brought up that I'm "only now" writing about it on my blog because GOMI did (think what you want), or because someone made such a fuss, but the truth is I thought Mandy would respond to our emails. I thought she'd at least give some sort of excuse for her behavior. Replies to her initial email were hitting inboxes as late at Monday evening, so surely we'd wake up to a reply by Tuesday right? Apparently not.

A few girls who I was talking to on Twitter said she emailed them on Monday, in response to them winning one of her giveaways yet never receiving the prize. Hmm, weird how someone could just totally ignore the initial inquiries all together, but "all of a sudden" remember them when they start getting vocal, right? She has a way of magically spinning these things. "I have so many haters!" she'll cry. Since when is wanting a prize you rightfully won being a "hater?" People would link her to the GOMI article and she'd call them a troll, delete the comments and then block them. Yikes! Talk about censorship.

To be honest, I never had the intention to write this post. I've written one like it before, and it was just as stressful and tiresome to compile. I know I've left out a lot of evidence and facts and firsthand accounts on her scams, but there's only so much you can do. It's like kicking a dead horse. I don't like outing people, but I guess if you don't want the world to know you're shady, don't do shady things right? If it hadn't been for this @reply on Twitter, I probably would've let the thing die. But that's the problem - we're all too quick to say "eh, enough with that!" I don't have the biggest blog in the world, but I know I share a decent amount of readers with Mandy. If even one person can be made aware of her shadiness, and then be directed to legitimate independent artists, awesome! It's worth it. Regardless of who wrote the "outing" first or who had the guts to stand up and point the finger, what really matters is that readers are finally being made aware. How can we expect people to boycott these scam artists if we don't alert them? We need to take away the anonymity of call outs and not be scared of the backlash. I'll cause side eyes and scoffs the world over with this post, I'm sure. But at least X amount of people will be able to decipher the evidence how they wish. You can only make educated decisions when you have the facts in front of you. Well, here they are. I tried my best to stay away from personal bias and only link to evidentiary pieces. I don't believe in bullying or body shaming or any kind of ridiculous non-constructive criticism online (even though I'm guilty of it myself, both anonymously and not. especially in the heat of the moment), but I do fully believe in the power of free speech and having the ability to a forum discussion on things like this.

I could go on and on and on about how much it sucks to be a maker when you're surrounded by people like Mandy, but that'd just get boring fast. (This probably already did!) But she's not the only one. The internet is full of people like her. Some of them are even more successful. The only way their shenanigans can be unraveled is if people have the guts to speak up. I'm not trying to be a saint or hero by sharing any of this. I'm simply following in line with several other people who had the guts to come out. I'm not the first and (hopefully) I won't be the last. I know a post like this is very out of character for LCH and it may not even seem relevant, but I share a large portion of Mandy's audience and so many of my friends (and even designers we stock in our own "indie" store) have been directly affected by her behavior. I'm all for people learning from their mistakes... but how many times do you need to make the same one? After years of watching her do things like this, I'm just so fed up. Take it for what you will. I had considered posting the emails for public viewing, but I didn't want to seek out permission from each contributor to post them. I felt like posting them without their consent, even with their personal information redacted, would be invasive. Had my email response to Mandy been met with a response, I probably wouldn't have even written this post. But it's an important topic that should be addressed openly more often. Here's to hoping that each of these articles will spark more open conversation within the blogging and small biz world.

The most frustrating thing about this whole situation (at least for me?): Mandy has yet to address ANY of these accusations. She deleted her blog post(s) and disabled her design shop. She refused to email any of us back after she started the dialogue. She's pretending it never happened by sweeping it under the rug.... in typical Mandy fashion. She simply deletes things that don't "look good" and goes about her business. Well, the internet never forgets...

Man, what a boring post. So long and no pictures! Sorry!

ETA: Apparently Mandy just blogged "her side" of the story and published it an hour or two after I scheduled my post. You can believe what you want... obviously I'm trying to "insinuate" things that totally aren't true. Ehhhhhh.

PS: Here's a great post Heather (from Just Lovely) shared with me about copying online. There are some really rad links in it, too!

// The Flynns Take Florida!

I never really thought much of Florida before we started vacationing there last year. To me it was just one of those "meh" kinds of places. I didn't look much farther than the retiree stereotype and humidity. Of course I sort of felt the same way about Mexico, then we went there for our honeymoon and it quickly became my favorite place in the world. I think that's how Toby feels about Florida. I've never seen a kid love the ocean as much as he does. Part of me is sad to be back home, away from the "wilderness" and the sunny beach. But part of me is also very grateful for bathtubs and my own bed, ya know what I mean? The past 9 days were absolutely awesome and exhausting. We had no idea how a family of 5 would survive in a 35' RV for 9-ish days, but we quickly found out. I was pleasantly surprised with how cozy and homey it felt. I'm an advocate for many more RV trips in the future! Here's how we spent our much-needed vacation...
Mike wore a stupid hat while piloting the RV to Florida. He was so proud of how well he handled the motorhome (even I was impressed!) - I chalked the hat up as a "reward" for not killing us on our way down. That hat rarely left his head...
Papa and Dad had an "RV hat" so Toby donned his red cowboy hat, too. (Don't worry, we were parked when this photo was snapped... he stayed buckled up!)
We stayed at Big Lagoon State Park at Perdido Key and oh my gosh, it was beautiful! This was the boardwalk across from our campsite. If you're ever camping in the western panhandle, you must pay Big Lagoon a visit!
Toby was overjoyed at the trail walks and the scenery. He and I took a stroll when we first arrived and all he wanted was to see an alligator. A far cry from the kid who cowered behind Dad at the reptile exhibit at the zoo last year!
This part of Big Lagoon was quite possibly my favorite. The boardwalk extends over this large lake/pond area and there was a resident alligator swimming around. The sky was the most crisp shade of blue on the day of our arrival. I couldn't get enough!
These two photos are from the lagoon of the park. Toby enjoyed playing with some other camping kids and he found bookoos of hermit crabs. We released them at the end of our trip as aquatic hermit crabs aren't the easiest things to care for. We're thinking about treating him to some land hermit crabs though!
A little hot dog stand on a gloomy day
Toby had just woken up from a car-nap and he was a little bummed that we were at a seafood restaurant instead of the beach. (Don't worry, little man. I was a bit bummed, too!) This gal doesn't eat anything from the water, so vacationing (with my family!) at the beach gets tough.
The amount of tacky shark souvenirs was overwhelming. I don't know why on Earth I put this shot glass back! Ugh, someone kick me! I scored some coffee mugs, magnets, and even a gifted shark wooden display, but this shot glass man! (If you're in Gulf Shores and want to send this my way, I'll pay you!)
Toby was super keen on waking up early during the first half of the trip. We had yet to really wear him out. This adorable photo is from about 7:30am when he and I took a little mommy/son trip to the playground.
We ended up at one of those side-of-the-road tourist traps called "The Track" (you know those!) - Mike took Toby on the big wooden go-karts and he was so underwhelmed. We then decided to treat him to his own kiddie karts and some rides on the attractions. At Christmas he was terrified of the tiny ferris wheel... this time he said "Mom! I want to go on that! I'm not scared!" so of course we obliged. We were so proud. He's growing up right in front of us! (How do I press pause on this whole thing?! Slow it downnnn!)

The next day was a full beach day. Sunshine galore thanks to the clearest skies! Mike and my stepdad had the idea of sitting their beach chairs right where the waves break on shore and despite the occasional mouthful of salt water, it was the most brilliant reprieve from the heat. Toby decided to join them and I think the photo of the three of them might be my very favorite ever. We also had some cranes pay us a visit during our trip. The clouds started to collect to the north even though the southern view was crystal clear. Weird how that works!
Later that night Toby went with my mom and I on a little jaunt over to the lake. We watched the alligator (that tiny black speck!) for a bit until she got bored and swam off. Isn't that sky gorgeous though?!
We decided to venture into Pensacola for the day and visit various parts of the naval base. We really wanted to see some lighthouses so my parents took us to one they had visited back on their southeast roadtrip around New Years. Yeah, so it looks nice and all, but those were the hottest, most cramped and terrifying 177 steps to the top... It was over 90 degrees with 96% humidity and there were way too many people. I started panicking about halfway up thinking "Oh god! I'm going to throw up! I'm going to pass out! How am I going to get down!" I finally made it up and then proceeded to start having an asthma attack! Yikes! It was a bit scary, and I'm not even scared of heights! I freaked out a bit starting our descent but Mike was awesome and helped me through it. By the time we got out we were drenched in buckets of sweat. Never again, my friends! Never again! To me, the view OF the lighthouse greatly surpasses the view FROM the lighthouse! haha Maybe I'm just a party pooper...
We visited the "Observation Tower" in the state park one evening to try and capture the sunset. The clouds were too plentiful to get a good color shot, but man, it was gorgeous! Look at those views! We missed a beautiful pink/orange sunset on our last night by about 3 minutes. I was totally kicking myself for that!
After a full day of rain caused a nature-imposed break, we went back to the beach. The sky was full of gnarly clouds and the waves were insane. They were easily upwards of 5 feet. We spent all of our beach time down at the Gulf Islands National Seashore and it was amazing! It's like $8 per car to get in, but that's a pass that's good for 7 days and there are no crowds! We had a huge section of the beach all to ourselves. We visited a public beach prior so we could scope it out, but we were not stoked on that situation We had another little crane friend visit us, and the seagulls just hovered around us all day. Mike also managed to snag a little crab, too! We let him go, but only after taking a glamour shot or two! Toby was stoked on the boogie board, but that didn't last long! He was totally kosher with the big waves, but we think he's still a bit too short-limbed to hold onto a board. Next year! I made sure to relish in the sunshine by taking a nap! We had some pretty comfortable beach chairs (especially since they were cheapo $15 grabs from Walmart) and the sunshine felt like an incredible blanket. I might have had my best sleep on that beach!
After that was said and done, Toby was dunzo. His little rosy cheeks were glowing and he was snoring up a storm on our way to dinner. The last half of the trip made him sleep in until 9am on most days, and that is unheard of in our house! He worked himself up and wore himself out!
After it was all said and done, we pulled out of Big Lagoon Sunday morning and set sail for home. Mike drove part of the way back and I was his "co-pilot" for the last 3 hours or so. It's nice to be in a big ol' RV because you're so high up. You also have room to really stretch out and get comfortable. The dark clouds and thunderstorm chasing was just an extra perk. I can't wait for the next trip, that's for sure!

It was such a lovely week and we're so grateful my parents treated us to such an adventure. Toby had the time of his life and I loved (almost) every minute of it. We're all nice and bronzed as we settle back into "real life" here at home. We sure did miss our pups though. The cats have been living it up lounging on the furniture inside, too. I think they might have missed us... even if only a little bit!

I'm so glad I was able to snap all of these photos of our trip. It was one for the books! (And can you believe these were all taken with my iPhone?! Whattttt?!) We snapped about two rolls of film (mostly of Toby in Big Lagoon) but I'll have to share those once we get them back from the lab in a few weeks! We had hoped to meet up with a few friends in town, and do an evening of open shoots, but life got in the way and we totally lost track of time! We felt so disconnected at some parts, but I'm not complaining. We needed it!

Any fun vacations for your books this summer?