Girls’ Trip: Texas

It was a long winter. Somewhere in April, during another snowstorm, I was texting Kathleen and both of us agreed we needed out of Iowa. We wanted friend time and temperatures warm enough to make us sweat. Just a few texts later and Lindsay was inviting us into her home in Woodway, Texas.

Kathleen and I flew into Dallas within 30 minutes of each other on Wednesday and spent the next three days exploring Waco with Lindsay. Who knew we could still stay up until 2 a.m. multiple nights in a row?!

Magnolia, The Silos, The Findery, Magnolia Table, Spice Village, Homestead Heritage, and Baylor all made the list of must-see stops.

I visited The Silos when John and I visited in November, but this place is always expanding. If you’re visiting, save your appetite for the many food trucks in the outdoor space. Seeing people walk around with mason jars full of tea really set the mood.

As for Magnolia Table…whoa. Will a Day come where this restaurant doesn’t have a line? We drove by around 11:30 and saw a ridiculous amount of people. We decided to dine elsewhere and return for dessert before they closed at 3. When we arrived around 1, they had stopped taking people in line between 11:30-12 since it could be up to a three-hour wait! We were still able to taste the food since they have a “to go” area that allows customers to order the sandwich of the day and various pastries. They also have an area where you can order food, lemonade, or coffee while you wait in line for your meal. These people know how to make money.

Food was a highlight of the trip, and I’m returning to Iowa wanting more fresh guacamole and overflowing shrimp tacos.

A big thanks to Lindsay and Andy for hosting Kathleen and me and allowing us to have a warm weather countdown when we needed it the most! We’re planning ahead for next year so more Loras friends can join. Location TBD.

Raechel and Brian

The details…Wow!

Pinterest wasn’t around when I was planning my wedding, and it’s probably a good thing. I can’t imagine the stress brides have now with an overwhelming number of ideas and Pinterest suggestions. Raechel and Brian’s wedding felt straight out of Pinterest. Every detail seemed to match from the exact color of dresses and flowers to the hanging jars from the church pews. I was impressed with the organization of the weekend, and Raechel’s teacher skills shined through in her “One, Two, Three, Eyes On Me” instructions and printed out agendas.

The wedding weekend was stretched an extra day with the rehearsal and dinner Thursday night. This allowed a relaxed Friday that included a girls’ lunch at Gumption in Cedar Rapids and nail appointments. It was really nice to have an extra day with the bride and her family + the wedding party. This extra day slowed down the celebration so it could be fully appreciated.

Raechel and I grew up in the same neighborhood (Yes, the neighborhood shot tradition lives on), so I’ve known her my entire life. Not many friends can make that claim. I’m honored she asked me to stand by her side because I’ve never seen her happier than when she is with Brian. They married for the right reason- they make each other better people.

It’s all fun and games until…

…a bat shows up.

I’m not kidding.

Let me back up.

The theme of Raechel’s bachelorette party was “Bach Shit Crazy”. Props to her sister Whitney for renting a charming and luxurious Airbnb in Galena for our night away. The photos of this place don’t do it justice. It was located right on Main Street directly above Elle and Beck’s and Vinny Vanucchi’s, with four bedrooms and five queen beds.

We spent the late afternoon/evening catching up with each other, drinking wine, and playing games. Because of our prime Main Street location, dinner reservations at Fried Green Tomatoes were just a few blocks away.

After dinner and drinks, Whitney had a spa night planned for us back at the loft. It was pouring rain, and the loft was cozy. This might be why we had an uninvited guest join us.

At 3 a.m., someone got up to go to the bathroom and noticed the swooping. After that, we honestly couldn’t stop laughing that “Bach Shit Crazy” morphed into Bat Shit Crazy. The owners of the loft arrive just before 6 a.m. to catch the bat. While I would absolutely recommend this loft, the owner had a net that made him look like he’s done this before… He just didn’t seem too surprised to receive the bat call.

I have no idea if Raechel and Brian are doing a wedding slideshow or not, but we took pictures of the bat catcher just in case.


Saturday was spent celebrating Tom and Jenna in Lakeville, Minnesota.

Tom and I went to school together from kindergarten-senior year. There are photos, but he was much cuter than me growing up. We’ve stayed friends forever and there are too many memories to count, although Katie, Chris, and I did our best to reminisce on some of the best high school and college ones while eating dinner Saturday night.

The ceremony and the reception were both gorgeous, but the love Tom and Jenna share is an out-of-this-world beauty. Thank you for inviting us to witness your love on your wedding.


Last week included sitting around the table surrounded by good food and even better people multiple times.

On Wednesday we toasted to my friend and co-worker Erica who is moving at the end of the semester. Erica and I started teaching at Xavier the same year. As an alumna, she helped me find my way. I’ll miss her inside scoop on absolutely everything, but I’m happy to see her support her husband as they move their family to Tennessee. We can’t wait to visit you in Music City, friend!

Friday night took John and me to Waterloo for a triple sibling date. We tried out Single Speed Brewery, and I will be back. The atmosphere is awesome, the food was delicious, and the beer was fantastic. This place is HUGE! It was a great opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite people before the busy holiday schedule kicks into gear next week.

As hectic as life feels in December, I’m thankful for these people who remind me to slow down and enjoy the moments around the table.

Magnolia Market

No, I didn’t find Chip or Joanna.

I did find Lindsay and Andy. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the content in this post, I suggest you watch Fixer Upper on HGTV. Chip and Joanna take rundown houses in Waco, Texas and remodel them into absolutely stunning yet functional homes for families.

In one of their episodes, they build Magnolia Market at the Silos. This touristy spot includes the Market, food trucks, a garden center, and a bakery. It’s designed to be a place to shop but also bring families and friends together. The yard includes tables, lounge chairs, yard games, and room to spread out and relax.

If you can’t make it to Magnolia Market, read their book. I blogged about, The Magnolia Story, earlier this year, and I stand by my recommendation.

Thanks to my Loras housemate, Lindsay, and her husband, Andy, for welcoming us to Woodway and Waco. Lindsay is a professor at Baylor, and we had the opportunity to take in the campus following our Magnolia visit. Who knew there were real bears on campus?

Catching up with these two was even more magical than Magnolia.

Pumpkin Patch 2017

Thanks to Paige, Tony, and Harlow for inviting us on their family pumpkin patch date over the weekend. We went to the Blank Park Zoo with these three back in July, and it’s so fun to have kids similar in age.

Harlow and Elijah didn’t mind running around in the rain, but thankfully it stopped about 30 minutes after we arrived. Harlow wasn’t walking the last time we were together, so it was fun to witness her independence.

Speaking of independence, check out these two riding in the train all by themselves! They screamed in delight the entire time, and the man driving said it was his favorite ride. They absolutely loved it.

If you follow me on snapchat, you know Elijah loves to “CrossFit”. He literally pushes everything he can find. From our real lawn mower to tables and chairs, this kid is weight training. He’s strong. We let him use his strength to pick out and load pumpkins. John’s promise to Elijah was that if Elijah could lift it into the wagon, John would buy it. Thankfully Elijah got distracted after two pumpkins, which now sit on our front porch. I’m looking forward to painting these with him later this week.

Old McDonald’s Farm

Fall weather has arrived and it’s perfect.

Fall festivals have started everywhere, and we took part in Saturday’s celebration of the season at Old McDonald’s Farm. The free petting zoo was a hit, but seeing the Gaffney family was the highlight.

Peter is used to farm animals, and he helped city-boy Elijah work up his courage to pet the pig. The cow lost his chance at a friend when he licked Elijah in their first greeting.

We followed up the festival with some adult fun including Oktoberfest and sweet potato fries at Parlor City. Saturdays were made for simple luxuries.

Mr. and Mrs. Augustine

Jenny was one of my students my first year teaching. She eventually moved into the yearbook editor role and we spent countless hours working side by side.

Jenny and I would often have conversations long after the final bells for the day rang. We would discuss anything and everything, and she spoke freely about her best friend- God. (What sophomore in high school knows Jesus in this way?) She spoke about God like she really knew him, and I soon realized she did.

Jenny inspires me to speak the words my heart is really feeling, even if it sounds cheesy or makes other people uncomfortable. She reminds me that a relationship with God is so important you shouldn’t be able to keep it out of every day conversations.

This revelation has allowed me to be a better daughter of God and a better disciple. I can’t spread God’s message to others if I avoid speaking about how He has moved me each day.

As fortunate as I was to have Jenny as a student, I’m blessed to work side by side with her again as my colleague. She is an incredible teacher and an even better Catholic role model. She makes me want to be better, too.

Witnessing Jenny exchange vows with Andrew was a moment I felt the Holy Spirit. All of those conversations we had about who she was dating and decisions she was struggling with brought her to her most perfect match. Who would have guessed that while Jenny was living “a year of single life” in college that God knew all along about His plans for her to find Andrew- a man so perfect for her that he would propose in front of an altar at church on Christmas Eve. God reveals our story a little at a time, and Jenny’s wedding reminded me that God’s plan is always so much bigger and more amazing than our own.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him YOUR plans,” right?

Congratulations, Jenny. It’s obvious you and Andrew have been busy planning not just a wedding, but a marriage. God bless you!

Baby Andrew

An answered prayer. A true blessing. An absolute miracle.

Baby Andrew.

Congratulations to my best friend, Katie and her husband, Bob. The newest addition to your family is perfect, and Peter is already an incredible older brother.

I can’t wait to continue watching your boys grow up together, and I know Elijah looks forward to many more playdates full of cars, trucks, and balls.

Is it too much of a prayer request to ask God to make us neighbors?