“our” North Carolina State Fair

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As I held the little plastic bag to Lily’s mouth while her breakfast came up on the parking lot shuttle bus (I caught it all! Mom win!) I thought for sure we’d be turning right back around to go home.

I was wrong.

My six-year-old daughter, infused with the Spirit of the State Fair, rallied, and we had a wonderful Sunday morning filled with everything we love (EXCEPT rides, of course).

Ann came along to document our fun, and I’m so grateful for that. She captured “our” fair so beautifully. You’d never even know how the day began …

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ten years

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Ten years ago today.

You and me and hopes and dreams and hearts brimming with love.

Little did I know as I walked toward you on my father’s arm — blinking back tears and grinning like a fool — how amazing our life would be. I treasure every bit of it, even the valleys, because without fail, we climb out on the other side holding hands, stronger. Together.

This little world we’ve created. These little human beings we’re raising. All this love. How grateful I am.

I love you, sweet husband. Happy number ten.

educating the next deep-fried generation

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Once upon a time, FIVE years ago, I was crowned Deep-Fried Ambassador of the North Carolina State Fair. Deputy Deep-Fried (also known as Alisa) and I set out for quite the air-brushed, meat-on-a-stick adventure.

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I took my job very seriously.

And I still kind of haven’t let go (at all, really). I just love the fair, plain and simple. And I’m so lucky to have a real-life job that enables me access to 11 days of deep-fried bliss each year. (I’m not a carnie. Just for the record.)

It definitely wouldn’t be State Fair week if I didn’t sample some crazy new food with The Deputy. This year’s culinary conundrum? The Twinx.

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Not sure what’s going on in this picture? Me neither. But I do know this: a Twinkie stuffed with a Twix bar, wrapped in bacon, battered and deep-fried actually is quite tasty.

Five years, two kids and numerous deep-fried delicacies later, The Deputy and I are still going strong. And as The Junior Deputy’s expression indicates, we clearly have our work cut out for us in training the next generation of fairgoers on the splendor of all things deep-fried.

Challenge accepted.

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not bad for day one

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Here she is. My North Carolina State Fair food bucket list. Because it’s important to keep track of these things. Oh State Fair, how I love thee …

biscuit from the Apex Lion’s Club
mini donuts
deep-fried bananas foster
Twinx (Twinkie stuffed with a Twix bar, wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. Challenge accepted.)
Al’s fries
McBride’s corn dog
Buffalo chicken rangoons from Woody’s
Ribbon-cut fried potatoes
Miss Debbie’s caramel (plus 16 other toppings) apple
a bite of Marc’s roasted corn
apple dumpling

What’s on your list? Do tell!
(Because nine more days of culinary possibilities await.)

summer rewind: the beach

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Dear Summer,

It’s time to say goodbye.

I know I should be thinking about Halloween costumes and jack-o-lantern carving and all things pumpkin spice, but I still can’t shake my longing for you. It doesn’t help that you just won’t quit giving us 80-degree days. Every time I step out of the house in boots and jeans I have to turn right back around to dig my shorts out of the bottom drawer.

Marc and I took a quick trip to the coast last weekend to celebrate our 10 YEAR wedding anniversary, and we sat on the beach in our swimsuits sipping fancy fruity drinks in the sun. Marc even swam in the ocean! In October!

Oh Summer. You are so persistent.

Just about the only thing that could get me in the mood for fall is the North Carolina State Fair. Which starts in THREE DAYS. (One word: Twinx.)

So, I’m going to try to say goodbye with some phone pics from one of my favorite summer rituals of all: our family beach trip to Emerald Isle.

Thank you for long days at the pool, lightning bugs, hot dogs on the grill and a million moments of sun-kissed happiness.

I’ll see you bright and early on June 21. Can’t wait.

Suzanne

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>> other summer rewinds: the farm || the road trip <<

summer rewind: the road trip

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When I told people that I planned to drive from North Carolina to Ohio with my girls — solo — I got a lot of blank stares, some sympathetic hugs and even a couple of grimaces.

But you guys, it was amazing. I knew it would be.

I’ve always wanted to hit the open road by myself, and taking my girls along for the ride just seemed like too much fun not to try. I eliminated expectations before they even entered my brain: We will not be on any sort of schedule. We will stop often. We will smell all the roses.

There were moments that sucked. Like when Sophie required four potty breaks over the course of a single hour. Or when I got mad at Google Maps and went, shall we say, off course for a little while. But mostly, we had a big time. We ate ice cream on the North Carolina/Virginia state line. We met the nicest grandmotherly bikers (!) at a gas station in West Virginia. We drove in tunnels “right through the mountain!” as Lily would exclaim. And we swam in the hotel pool AFTER BEDTIME.

So proud of my little road dogs.

The reason for our adventure? Those two sweet faces up there. My best friend had her first baby in May, and I was determined to hold him (and hug her!) before he started walking and talking. Because it happens that fast.

And when we arrived and I caught my first glance of Julie as a mother, walking down her front porch steps carrying baby Levi, tears popped into my eyes.

We spent a lot of time relaxing and playing on the farm, with corn stalks and rows of soybeans as far as the eye could see. We also went to the zoo, fished in the pond across the street from Julie’s cottage and made a surprise visit to the local ER (strep throat/vomiting/yuck).

And we ate. And ate and ate and ate. I consumed my weight in homemade ice cream, in flavors like black raspberry chocolate, made with fresh berries grown on the farm.

It goes without saying that we had a ball.

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This is Noah. Levi’s cousin and Lily’s BFF for the week. Lily took this shot of him (along with about 600 others) and I love it.

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I didn’t take many pictures with my real camera (shocker, seriously) because I was too busy wrangling children and snuggling Levi. But I did burn it up attempting a little mama/baby photo shoot.

Just love these two.

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I had the best fun documenting our adventure on Instagram (how I adore you, Instagram), and although it hasn’t happened yet, I fully intend to make memory books for the girls. It’s been on my list since July. With about a million other things.

Here are highlights of my stream from that week. They tell the story best …

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