Raleigh, North Carolina

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I grew up watching a lot of Andy Griffith, and when they weren’t talking about Mayberry, they were talking about Raleigh. My friend, Abby, whom I lived with pre-marriage days on Guam, lives in the capital city with her husband and baby girl. So we made a long weekend trip to go visit.

While on Guam, one of the things we missed about living in the States was visiting museums, and for my husband, particularly art museums. I did a quick Google search before we left and discovered that the NC Museum of Art was located in Raleigh and boasted an amazing collection from Claude Monet to Guido Reni, as well as three miles of trails peppered with sculptures and (get this) it was FREE!

After we arrived at the home of my friend, we enjoyed time together (our little ones met for the first time!) and a good night’s rest. The next morning we hit up a local thrift store and then the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (also free!). It has a lot of fun displays about the natural science of the region. Then we stopped for a time of browsing at Form & Function, a store that offers unique, artistic interior decor, including everything from yummy candles to charming antiques.

The next morning we packed up to head back home, and our friends were so kind to take us to a coffee shop (they know our love language), Sola Coffee Cafe. Note: this place was crowded, and for good reason! At the time I was dairy-free due to baby, so I enjoyed an iced americano and an acai bowl. Such. goodness. On Saturday mornings the coffee shop offered an artisan’s market outside. There was jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more. We bought a coffee mug and a few paintings for Talitha’s room from artist Rachel Loftis. What a great weekend full of friends, art, and food.

Have you ever been to Raleigh? What did you enjoy?

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah. Even its name evokes feelings of warmth, ease, and a southern drawl. One of my dearest friends from college lived near Savannah, and with her being one of the most darling people on earth, I always new I had to see this lovely city. Known for being one of the only Southern cities spared from devastating fire during the Civil War, it oozes with brilliant architecture and manicured parks. It is a carefully laid out city, one of the first of its kind.

How do I know this? Well, we saved $70 by reading the history of the city off of my phone in our car, rather than doing a touristy historical excursion. Lame? Maybe, but when it’s hot and you have a baby, you will do what you can to linger a bit longer in the air conditioning.

During our trip, I had a few coffee joints on our list that we needed to try. Foxy Loxy Cafe was our first stop, and while they do offer fabulous coffee, I opted for an iced coconut milk matcha, and it was divine. Took me back to Guam for a red hot minute. Our second morning we tried out Savannah Coffee Roasters and were not disappointed. The big windows, open seating along with a delicious almond milk dirty chai and my two loves was a sweet way to begin the day. We went to The Coffee Fox that afternoon. It was fun, eclectic, in a good location, but was a bit crowded compared to the other two. Between all the coffee was gorgeous architecture (including St. John’s Cathedral), beautiful parks, and charming boutiques.

It was a serendipity to find Chocolat, a stunning little chocolate shop with an Alice in Wonderland vibe and the best chocolate and customer service.  Oh, and if you ever visit Savannah, you must experience the The Paris Market. It is full of beautiful things and even a little coffee shop (which we did not frequent, believe it or not). Random, but it also houses the most beautiful basement you’ve ever seen. I would live down there.

This being our first trip away from home with the baby, I was both nervous and determined (with echoes of “The earlier you travel with them the better” from military wives in my head). While you do have to bring quite a bit extra with a baby, there are a few items that we have found make the trip more feasible and hopefully comfortable for the little one. Chicco Lullago Travel Bassinet is such a great little bassinet, because it sets up and tears down very easily, while providing a comfy and safe bed. I like the idea that when Talitha sleeps in her bed, it still smells like home.

Our trip to Savannah was a time of traipsing up and down a darling old city with our one-month-old. It was our first “family vacation” with the three of us, and it was grand. Enjoy some iPhone snapshots of our time!

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Now go see Savannah for yourself, and tell me what you think!

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

 

Pacific Ántonia: A Blog Revamp

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I am quick to see the holes—that which is missing. I am ever striving to be a critical thinker and not a critical person. To be a critical thinker is to experience, listen, and examine. To be a critical person is to beat with a mallet. We are to be kind-hearted surgeons, not bullish versions of Donkey Kong. I want to believe that the glorious and good are every bit as real as the gloomy and despicable.

A few years ago I read a classic called My Ántonia by Willa Cather, and it rattled me in the most comforting of ways. I wrote about it here. Whenever I’ve thought about revamping the blog or having my own business, the name ‘Pacific Ántonia’ comes to me. I’m a Midwest girl who grew into myself in the Pacific—a girl, just like Ántonia, who traveled far and made a home. Through Ántonia’s character, Cather shows what it means to weather life and all its jarring changes well. And to this day, as I now live along the coast of the Atlantic, I am forever longing to make a home and travel well.

You guys, I love to travel—not merely the Instagram-perfect-Cancun-trip sort of travel. (Of course I could go for that too!) I love travel in the way that I love a green drink of wheat grass. It may be difficult to choke down at times, but man, it feels like I need it. The magic and the grit of the world should be experienced. It calls to me. I am cautious not to make it an idol in my life, but in its proper place, what a sweet treat it is! Travel shows me more beauty than I knew existed, along with the holes only Jesus can fill.

As I look into the eyes of people much different than me, I learn so much. Longing and hope spark in eyes of all ethnicities. Taking in the world does not mean embracing all of it. To experience it through the framework of a Biblical worldview is the goal. Oh, the joy of zipping up a suitcase and double-checking if you have the passports.

For all the rush and excitement of travel, though, there is nothing like the sweetness of that corner of the world you can call your own. Making home a place worth being is important—noticing details, listening, and using all the senses. From clean sheets to baked cookies, it can all be life-enriching. A place where you can laugh too loudly, and build yourself without perpetual scrutiny, but rather loving shaping. Home should be the very best of launching pads.

As much as I want to snuggle my baby forever, I also want my nest to enable my little birdie to spread her wings and fly. Home and travel are both simultaneously good. One may feel more valuable to you, but I would argue that for most of us, both are important. Now, I don’t mean you have to go to another continent (but wouldn’t that be fun?!). I mean going somewhere that is at least a little uncomfortable and new, a place to take in and say, “Ah, I never knew this was here.” It is to learn not just how to enjoy and take as a tourist, but how to give (more than just money) and enhance a new place.

Home and travel are mutually enriching. They have a symbiotic relationship of sorts. Done well, home enriches travel, and travel enriches home. Of course, both will and should look different based on desire, income, personality, and life-situation. Every adventure is a personally customized opportunity.

So, in light of all of this and the fact that this year we have travelled more than ever (with a baby to boot), my blog will shift to be somewhat of a travelogue based on places we’ve recently visited, and it will also include snippets of our home life, our heart for both of these, and some of the practical elements that help us along the way. It’s going to be fun! I would so love it if you joined me.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

Photo: Eric Masur