F or the second year in a row, Bobby and I made our trip from Vermont down to sunny Miami. Once again, I internally freaked out as I worried that there was NO WAY our entire lives could pack up into one tiny Prius. Once again, Bobby proved his spacial awareness to be invaluable as he somehow managed to pack every single thing we needed, every single craft supply I’d accumulated, and even leave more head room for Graham than last year. He’s a magic man.

We took nearly three weeks to zig-zag our way down. Here is our trip in pictures. (Mind you, this was THREE WEEKS of adventures and you know how I like to document life…so you’ve been warned.)

During the first leg, we stopped for a couple hours in Niagra Falls and made Graham take a selfie with us. He’s obviously enjoying himself immensely…

The clouds (and clearly the water) were stunning.

We stayed at an Airbnb in Cleveland for our first night. Our host, Andrew, was the BEST. Despite a late arrival, he offered to make us gin and tonics and we stayed up chatting about all sorts of cool things while he roasted some root vegetables. We got a cooking lesson in how to make crepes AND he taught me how to make mayonnaise. When was the last time you learned the art of mayonnaise-making in a hotel? Seriously, great Airbnb hosts are the best. Thanks, Andrew!

Our next stop was St. Louis for the wedding of the year.

Lauren is one of my favorite people in the world and she and her family planned the most gorgeous fall wedding. The morning before the wedding, the bridesmaids gathered to put together our bouquets along with 100s of other small bouquets for the tables. I was in heaven.

Even baby Vivian helped out.

Later, I was given the task of painting a thank you card for the flower girl (who’s favorite animal is a panda). It was the best job I could have been given.

Then there was the day of the wedding!

It was utterly joyous. After being away from New Orleans and soul friends for more than a year, my heart could have burst to be surrounded by people who just know us to the core.

The wedding itself was like Rifle Paper Co had materialized all in one place.

Look at this place setting!

Wedding toasts are always one of my favorite moments.

The food was epic. (If you couldn’t already tell from all my photos of the dessert table.)

Being with “my people” was even more epic. Bobby, MY groom:

My sister Leah:

Annie, one of my best friends from college:

And, of course, the bride and groom!

Here’s Becky, the mother of the bride. As you can see from the picture, she is fun and full of light and has a killer sense of style. Isn’t her dress the absolute best?! I want to be JUST like this when I’m a mom someday.

They had a sparkler send-off that was straight from the movies.

At brunch the next morning, I was able to gift them a vintage map that I added lettering and embroidery embellishments to since they were about to embark on the grand adventure of moving to England.

You haven’t seen the last of me working with old maps. I’m hooked.

After some tearful goodbyes, we hopped in the car again and headed to rural Kentucky where my sister is living in a tiny house that she designed and built with her own two hands!

We had a blast with Leah and her boyfriend Kelsey. They took us on a boat ride of the beautiful lake they live on, Leah made us a scrumptious, fall meal, and Bobby, Graham, and I snuggled into the loft for the night.

I added a unicorn to her chalkboard wall before leaving.

If you want to see more pictures of Leah’s tiny house and unique life, you can head to her Instagram. It was such a treat to finally see where she’s living in person and not just through photographs. Siblings are gifts.

Next, we headed to North Carolina to stay with Bobby’s parents for a few days. We went to an ECU football game and I wore the best mittens that put all other mittens to shame.

We ate at some great restaurants, including a breakfast spot where I got to draw on the chalkboard table.

We went on a date to a dairy farm that served amazing ice cream…

And Graham got to meet the 2 week old calf named Charlie Brown!

He wasn’t sure quite what to think, but he was DEFINITELY intrigued.

I left some surprise whiteboard graffiti in my mother-in-law’s classroom. As you can see, unicorns are my go-to these days.

My hand nearly fell off as I tried to get caught up on my Project Life journaling so we could leave the albums with Rob and Gini (lugging them back and forth with us isn’t the most efficient use of car space).

I tried SO hard but still didn’t finish. Alas, I’m still behind. One of these days I WILL get up to date!

Next, it was time for New Orleans. Just typing that makes my heart skip a beat all over. Bobby hadn’t been back in nearly two years and I was going on a year and a half…which is difficult when you’ve fallen so hard for a city.

We were thrilled to be back in the land of beignets.

And back in the land of great donuts.

And the land of really amazing restaurants and amazing friends. (You MUST try 1000 Figs if you find yourself in Nola. We were blown away by the food, the price, the flavors.)

We got to spend time with so, so many precious friends. I took a ton of selfies with all of them – so many, in fact, that I’m not going to include them in this post since it’s already verging on the monster side of things. But if we had the pleasure of spending time with you and you’re reading this, know that I/we treasure you dearly!

We saw our old house and marveled at all the wild ways it’s been renovated. (We lived at the end of the driveway in the carriage house. What I wouldn’t have given to have a tour of the new place! But we figured the owners may be kind of weirded out…so we just observed from afar.)

Get this. We also SAW DREW BREES. We were on a walk in City Park and I noticed a family getting ready to have their Christmas card pictures taken. We crossed the street to see the cute baby who was all dressed up and as we got a little closer, Bobby said, “Whoa. That’s Drew Brees!” Then we went up and gave him the biggest hug and said, “Drew, we’re your biggest fans! Go Saints! Meet Jimmy Graham Juan Pablo Nixon Peterson!”

Okay, so that’s what we did/said in our heads.

In real life, we stayed – transfixed – a reasonable distance away, and I felt that awkward tension of REALLY wanting to get a photo of the whole thing and also wanting to respect their privacy and sweet moment as a family. But then Drew started to pretend that his baby girl was a football and we KNEW we had to capture that moment on camera so Bobby got all stealthy with the zoom feature on his phone.

I present to you…Drew Brees and the baby football.

That whole experience was pretty hard to top, but we did when we visited Akili – the school where I taught for 5 years. Our timing couldn’t have been better as we got to visit during Fall Fest. All the kids were dressed up, having a blast outside with the various Halloween festivities. It made my heart sing.

I adore these kids!

I got my fill of hugs and even got to see 2 scholars I taught my very first year. I can’t believe how old they are! (Even though the one in the blue suit still looks tiny – he’ll hit a growth spurt one of these days, I’m sure. I know teachers aren’t supposed to have favorites…but blue suit man was definitely one of my favorites.)

Look! The picture of me with my favorite value is still on the wall!

New Orleans was good to us. Special thanks goes to our adopted New Orleans parents, Danny and Jeannette, for hosting us and treating Graham like he was one of their own. :)

For our final stop before reaching Miami, we got to squeeze in a couple nights with my friend (and former college boss) Miranda, her husband Chuck, and their sweet, hospitable family. We arrived at bedtime – but while the kids slept, Chuck and Miranda showed us the amazing addition to their garage…

The next day, we got to hang out with them and their kids – Bobby became good friends with baby Aspen.

And I snuggled with Graham who was a little overwhelmed from all of Aspen’s hugs! Ha!

So there you have it – our zig zagging, friend-filled trip down the coast. We are now safely settled in Miami and reveling in the memories of it all. Moving isn’t easy, but when it provides chances to see and do so much en route, it’s the luckiest situation in the world.