I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
January 11, 2019
2018 has come to a close and it has been a year my family will definitely never forget. A health crisis easily could have made this our worst year ever, and I’ve definitely had more than my share these last 12 months of hand-wringing, sleepless nights, and total, non-stop anxiety. Am I being too vague for you? Sorry. But I think health matters are about as private as it gets, so this explanation will have to be enough.
Strangely, though, I finished the year with more peace, hope, and perspective than I’ve had in a long time. I’ve learned some important lessons I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life — that all we have, all we’ve ever had, is today, and we have to make every day matter. That for most of us, when things get as bad as they’ve ever been, we can STILL look around and see so many others who have it far worse, and we can reach out to those people with an empathy we might not have had before. That even in times of trouble and hardship, we have so very much to be thankful for.
2018 was a year, y’all, and I’m just glad my family and I made it through.
Despite all the craziness, we tried to keep things as normal as possible around here, traveling when we could and fitting in fun at every possible opportunity. I honestly can’t believe all we accomplished despite everything that was going on, and I’m pretty damn proud of us.
I have to admit, writing this post is mostly for my family’s benefit and it has been hugely therapeutic for me, because it’s a reminder of all that went RIGHT in a year that went very, very wrong. But I’m happy to share it with anyone else out there who’s interested in reading, with the request that when you want to read ‘braggy’ you will instead read ‘relentlessly focusing on the positive in a concerted effort to drown out the despair.’ That is my own personal way of handling bad stuff, and it works for me. With that said, here’s a look back at 2018.
Dennis and I started off the year with a Celebrity cruise in the Caribbean. I seriously can’t say enough good things about Celebrity Cruises; I think of their ships as floating Ritz Carltons with Bingo. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate on this particular cruise, so we had to skip a planned stop to the Florida Keys for kayaking and cancel our snorkeling plans in the Cayman Islands. Luckily, there was plenty to do onboard (i.e., BINGO), so we still had a great time. We also got to visit the Coba Ruins in Mexico, which was a MAJOR bucket list item for me. I will have to dedicate an entire post to this experience because it’s pretty incredible, but here’s the short version —
Coba is one of the few places in the world where you’re actually allowed to climb to the top of one of the pyramids. I doubt it will be this way much longer, honestly, so if you’ve been wanting to climb a ruin, now’s the time. Anyway, here we are at the top. Climbing an ancient pyramid was an awesome experience, but it was also scary as hell because look at how steep it was…
You guys. This pyramid is the equivalent of climbing an eight-story building. The steps up have been worn down over the years and they’re incredibly narrow and slippery. One false move and you could easily plummet to your death, and I’m not just saying that — It has actually happened! Girl, you know I Googled it as soon as I got home. I’m already afraid of heights, so you can imagine how scary this situation was for me. And I wasn’t the only one– We were with a busload of people, many of them in their twenties and thirties, all of whom planned to climb the pyramid. Only five of us actually ended up doing it!
After touring the ruins, we headed to a nearby cenote, a crystal-clear river at the bottom of a cave. This was another once-in-a-lifetime experience and it was a whole lot of fun.
We were disappointed we couldn’t go snorkeling on Grand Cayman, but we did get to visit Hell while we were there, so that was something…
Once we got back home, we exchanged our bathing suits for ushankas. It snowed in Nashville!
And yes, this dusting constitutes a MAJOR SNOW EVENT for us in Nashville. Don’t hate what you can’t appreciate.
It also snowed in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, which is where we headed a few days later — this time, with the kids. We absolutely loved this little mountain town and the cozy cabin we holed up in at the Boyd Mountain Tree Farm. Cataloochee Ski Area is just minutes away, and if you’re looking for snow skiing within driving distance of Nashville, it’s a fantastic option. The lift lines were pretty much non-existent (5 minutes or less), which is everything on a southern slope.
We had so much fun, I made a little video about it!
I also wrote about all out favorite things to do, see, and eat while we were there. I’d love to go back when it’s warm and do a whole lot more hiking.
The rest of our winter was spent doing one of our favorite things — going on hikes. We generally get a good snow or two each year in Nashville, but we also get a good number of warmer days in the winter time, which are perfect for getting out and enjoying the outdoors.
Also? Dennis won another Emmy award! Hooray! And in honor of Valentine’s Day, I wrote a different kind of love story.
In March, we spent a few days in beautiful Santa Barbara and I wrote about it for Scary Mommy. Santa Barbara has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there are a bunch of things for families to do there. I can’t wait to go back.
We also spent a few days with Dennis’s mom in California. Our son asked to go there for his 11th birthday and you know we weren’t going to say no to that!
In April, Dennis and I got to see our first rooftop concert in downtown Nashville, thanks to our friends at Rackley Roofing. Florida-Georgia Line played and it was so fun to see the concert and the huge crowd below from the top of a building on Lower Broad.
Dennis threw the first pitch for a Nashville Sounds game on a perfect spring night. He practiced a bit beforehand so he wouldn’t embarrass himself and all went well!
And I made another video! Yes, I went a little video crazy this year. No shame, people.
Punky and I enjoyed a girl’s weekend in Smyrna, Tennessee, home to our favorite cozy bed and breakfast and so much more. I wrote about all there is to do in Smyrna here. I think Smyrna is one of Middle Tennessee’s best-kept secrets and with it’s perfect positioning between Nashville and Murfreesboro, I’d live there in a heartbeat — so this particular post was a lot of fun to write.
Back at home, my son was up to his usual shenanigans.
May meant the end of the school year. Bruiser graduated from elementary school at his new school and we were a little ‘meh’ about it because he graduated from elementary school LAST year in public school as well! While most school systems end elementary school after fifth grade, Nashville’s public school district dumps the kids into middle school after fourth grade, which I have THOUGHTS about, but that’s a topic for another post.
Meanwhile, Punky graduated from 8th grade (I KNOW) and was voted Best Actress in junior high! This was really cool because she was only in one play last year and brand new at her school. She was really surprised — and REALLY happy– to get this award!
Summer is not peak season for travel writers — so while we went on several trips, we spent some serious downtime at home, too. That wasn’t a problem, because THIS HAPPENED.
Any mom who uses the YMCA pool knows how absolutely major it is when their kid passes the swim test. Without this green band, my son couldn’t swim unless I was within arm’s reach of him AT ALL TIMES. Can you even imagine how annoying that was? Particularly when he could totally swim and had been able to for years — According to the lifeguard who tested him last summer, he was lifting his head out of the water to breathe instead of turning it to the side, so he failed him! Silly me, I thought the point of the swim test was to make sure the kids in the pool don’t drown, not to critique the quality of their butterfly stroke. Ahem.
This year, though, things changed. Bruiser took the test and passed. Easily. And 2018 officially became the Summer of Swimming.
We went to the pool every chance we got over the summer. We basically lived in the pool. We developed a half-dozen different pool games and spent hours playing them together. We even went on a Grand Tour of Pools, visiting both sets of Georgia grandparents and swimming in THEIR neighborhood and club pools every single day. I loved every minute of it, because while I spent plenty of time in the pool with them, for the first time I could actually sit BESIDE the pool and READ, too! Heaven.
A few other things happened when we weren’t at the pool. Bruiser went to sleepaway camp for a second year — and this time around, I sprayed all of his clothing with Permethrin, so fortunately we didn’t have a repeat of last summer’s tick problems.
While visiting the grandparents, my daughter had her first department store makeover. It’s basically a Southern rite of passage. I was so proud. She wore makeup for about two weeks, then decided it was too much hassle unless it’s a special occasion. I was proud of that, too.
And Dennis and I took advantage of the kids’ growing independence to spend some time alone together, hiking and biking and going on date nights.
This was one of those date nights. I don’t even know what to say, y’all.
It’s definitely bittersweet that the kids are growing up, but I’ve been doing the mom/stepmom thing for 16 years now, so I’m trying to embrace what’s next. My pivot to travel writing definitely helps, because when the nest empties, I’m planning to leave it, too — as often as possible!
We spent lots of time in Georgia over the summer, where we hiked to Anna Ruby Falls and saw something even more breathtaking than these waterfalls…
A baby bear! It was my first black bear sighting and I was so excited. I’ve been wanting to see one (and sort of… not wanting to see one) since FOREVER. I’m sure the mama was nearby, but we didn’t see her, THANK GOD. The baby followed alongside us on the trail for quite a while, though.
Speaking of cute furry animals, our own Dottie got a new outfit over the summer. Had to share, because the pictures crack me up. I’m pretty sure we have the most adorable rescue dog in the whole world.
We made our annual trip to Holiday World, which is never not fun. I love this amusement park so much.
And we ended our summer with a trip to Gulf Shores. We spent a few days there in fall of 2017 for Scary Mommy and knew we had to go back. Since school was starting the next week, we tried to relax as much as possible…
But we also made sure my son almost got eaten by a dinosaur.
And we visited BAMAHENGE. You can read about these crazy roadside stops in the middle of nowhere — both the product of an eccentric billionaire — in the post I wrote about it afterward.
I also had one of my most embarrassing moments of the year on this trip. You can read all about that here.
The kids started back to school and our son decided to join the brand new middle school band. He was reunited with his trumpet, which he hadn’t played in a couple of years, and it felt so good. To him, anyway.
Not to be outdone, Punky got the most amazing haircut of all time, ever.
I’m not gonna lie, I will never not miss the pigtails, but this girl can rock a bob!
Soon after school started, I had a scary incident in a shopping mall parking lot. I wrote about it on Facebook and the post was shared all across Nashville — It was even covered on the local news! I felt a little exposed for sure, but in the end I’m really glad I spoke out because I still shop regularly at this shopping center and so does everyone I know, and the security situation has greatly changed there since I wrote the post. Even now, I see security guards and often, Metro police officers, every time I go shopping. I feel like I had something to do with that and it makes me feel good to know I helped make our community a little bit safer.
I next turned my attention to fall fashion. What the hell, y’all? What. The. Hell.
And in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I shared my own story. It was a little different from the others and I’m glad I had the opportunity to finally thank someone for keeping me from potentially becoming another statistic. Good guys are out there, too, and I don’t think they get acknowledged often enough.
In my self-appointed role as Suburban Watchdog, I continued tackling the tough topics on my blog, like leash laws, YETI, and the devastation we feel when products we love are discontinued. Then I wrote about fall fashion at Target and the people couldn’t take it anymore — more than a million people read that particular story on my blog! Who knew Target’s cheap, ugly clothing could cause so much controversy?
Beyond that, much of my fall was spent chauffering my kids to and from their various activities. I am eternally grateful that we put them in a school that’s just 15 minutes away from our house because with my son on the soccer team and in the band and my daughter in plays, I end up making the round trip as many as four times a day. GAH. It’s worth it when I get to see them doing what they love, though (well, most of the time it’s worth it) — This is my daughter playing ‘Google’ in the fall high school play.
During Fall Break, we went to Cincinnati and promptly fell in love with this amazing city. I would live here in a heartbeat. It’s got that small-town-in-a-big-city feel, there’s tons to do, and I’m completely charmed by its blend of Southern/Midwest hospitality. (Kentucky is right across the river, after all.)
I’ll be publishing a few stories on our trip soon and I can’t wait for you to read them. You’ll put Cincinnati on your vacation shortlist, I guarantee.
Next up was Lousiville, a town we’ve visited many times over the years. It’s a perfect weekend destination and I have so much fun there every single time I go.
Dennis and I made time in autumn for as many hikes as possible. Sometimes we took the kids, sometimes we went alone. This hike at Long Hunter State Park was one of my favorites of the season.
I mean, it really doesn’t get any better than this.
We also headed to Chattanooga to celebrate my oldest stepdaughter’s 28th birthday. 28! Can you believe it? I know some of you remember when she was just a tween. Time flies!
Punky surprised her with a life-sized cutout of The Rock at her birthday dinner. It was definitely a hit, both with my stepdaughter and with the restaurant staff!
We headed back to California for Thanksgiving to spend more time with Dennis’s family.
We worked several oceanside hikes into our visit — This photo was taken at Terranea, a luxury resort that includes a state-owned public walking trail. There’s a free public parking lot within the resort for anyone using the trail, but Terranea devilishly placed their $25 ‘mandatory’ valet stand in front of the lot so that you’d never know parking is free unless you already, you know, know. Fortunately, we had inside intel on the situation.
We also spent an afternoon at the Two Bit Circus, a brand new virtual reality gaming arcade in downtown LA. We had SO MUCH FUN here! Definitely splurge on a story room if you’re in the area and decide to go, because it was by far the most amazing virtual reality experience there.
We flew home from LA late at night and I immediately unpacked, repacked, and returned to the airport the next morning at 7am for a trip to Winston-Salem.
I took my friend Gabby with me for this influencer event, hosted by Visit Winston-Salem. With lots of historic tours, upscale restaurants, and a 5K on the itinerary, it seemed like a perfect girls trip– and it was! I had a blast with Gabby and the other bloggers I met, and I cannot wait for my family to experience Winston-Salem.
While I was there, Dennis took all four of our kids back to Louisville for SuperCon. My 14-year-old is huge fan of the anime series Rwby, and when she heard some of its voice actors would be at SuperCon, she HAD to go. She and my younger stepdaughter dressed as characters from the series and when Lindsay Jones, the voice of the main character, spotted them in the crowd, she chased them down, got a photo with them, and posted it on her Instagram account!
As you can imagine, my daughter’s ENTIRE LIFE was made in this moment.
The Christmas season was officially in full swing when I returned home. All went like it normally does…. except that The Elf on the Shelf made his final appearance in our home when the Shelf fell on the Elf. It was time, y’all.
I know. So sad. But all good things must come to an end.
My stepdaughters came home for Christmas and guess what? WE WENT ON MORE HIKES. It has been a particularly warm winter, so we’ve been trying to make the most of it. I got a new iPhone and had a whole lot of fun using it to take pictures.
There was gift giving and game playing and movie watching and dogs barking and general merriment.
And then suddenly, just like that, 2018 was over.
I won’t lie, I’m glad to start a new year. I have a lot of hope that things will be better for us in 2019. Taking care of my family comes first, always, and I’m hoping that this year, it will be at least a little bit easier and less stressful!
As far as this blog goes, I’ve redesigned it thanks to the incredible talent of Saturday Creative and it feels like me here now. This new design is simple and easy and it allows for my love of photography and travel, while still giving me the space to write about whatever I want, whenever I want. YAY. My travel writing opportunities continue to exceed my expectations — We are booked with as many adventures as we can handle, and I’ve even had to turn down some pretty amazing trips.
But travel isn’t all I want to do in 2019. Since I’ve spent the last year overhauling our menu to make it as healthy and organic and non-processed as possible, I’ve developed some really tasty recipes that play off some of our favorite traditional dishes and I’m excited to share them with you in the food section. Also, for those of you who remember my style blog, after several years of writing 15 (!) posts a week about fashion, I had to take a break — but I have to admit, I’ve had a lot of fun the last few months venturing back into that world. I’ll probably write more posts making fun of what’s trendy than rhapsodizing about it, but I’m guessing if you’re still reading this, that’s quite all right with you.
Most of all, I want to thank YOU for reading! More than 2 million people visited this blog in 2018 and with all the blogs out there now, that is CRAZY to me and hard to comprehend. I’m so thankful for every single one of you, and so happy to still be writing in this space, 13 years later.
Here’s to our best year yet.