Fall Actually (Our Knoxville Visit in Pictures)

Bert left last weekend to go sailing for 10 days and after spending a fun weekend at home just the girls, we took off for Knoxville in hopes of experiencing actual fall weather. The drive up was mostly still green but we were lucky enough to drive home yesterday through the most gorgeous colorful mountains. It was such a treat to be up there at the peak and to get to do so many true fall activities. 

We skipped hiking this time for a trip to Oakes Farm for pumpkin picking, hay rides, a corn maze, farm animals and games. There is just something about looking out over the mountains and changing leaves while picking your pumpkin versus carving it in 80 degree weather surrounded by palm trees that get you in the spirit of autumn.

We hit up all of our favorite spots--The Plaid Apron, Tomato Head, Bliss, and of course, Mast General because who can resist store that has a whole section of candy bins? We also found some fun new antique stores and attended a few gallery showing for 1st Friday. 
My mom let Loulie do her hair and make up every morning and now she is ticked that I am not letting her wear make up every time she walks out the door. She said between the Paris tea room, the art show and getting her hair done; she feels like Fancy Nancy. 
I feel like being back in reality is a little too much after a fun week away.  SO thankful that we had a chance to get to the mountains this fall though. It was such a blessing to be with my parents and have a whole week off from school schedules and responsibility. 
Happy Monday to All!


Things That Go Bump in the Night (Halloween at Lovey's)

I'm almost positive that the person that coined the term "things that go bump in the night" was not referring to ghosts and goblins but to little children hopped up on Halloween candy. Because the clock was chiming 11 by the time my little ghoul calmed down and finally went to sleep. And because I had chugged a little caffeine to keep up with her, I then tossed and turned all night as well. So it's a good thing the coffee is flowing this morning.
Loulie really LOVED Halloween this year and it was fitting that we were in Knoxville. October is my mother's month--she loves all things orange and really plays up Halloween. Our first 20 minutes in Knoxville were spent with Loulie running all over my parents' house checking out all the decorations and talking to her Lovey about candy and costumes.
On Wednesday we happened upon this crazy prissy store/tea room, The Paris Apartment. Just as we were laughing over all the over the top decor and about to duck out, this woman pops out of nowhere and invites Loulie to attend their annual "Witches Fly In" luncheon the next day. It was straight out of a movie--I was all apprehensive "maybe we'll be here" and Loulie was like "YES" and my mom was like "An adventure? Put us down!"
So we show up Halloween morning to an entire restaurant full of old women dressed in the most elaborate witches' garb you have ever seen. You can see in the pictures below how shocked we were--it was quite a production. Loulie's favorites were the "jewelry witch" and the one with orange braids we decided looked just like Room on the Broom witch. I wish I had taken better pictures but like I said, I was in shock. Side note--the food was super delicious and the tea room would be perfect for a birthday celebration or luncheon.
Last night we trick or treated in my parents' cute neighborhood after a neighborhood cookout with Loulie's friend, Madeline. Loulie decided to go as a unicorn in keeping with her recent obsession with My Little Pony. We teased up a pink mane and made the last minute decision to paint her face. You could tell she felt like a rockstar and was so cute running from house to house. My shy girl was surprisingly outgoing--probably because I threatened to take her candy if she didn't say thank you. But seriously, she had the time of her life and ended the night handing out candy with GDaddyBoy. 
So my least favorite celebration of the year turned out to be a hit this year. I'm already feeling a bit anxious about the holiday season. I've spent the morning pouring over my calendar trying to organize the next 8 weeks until Christmas-yowza! I know we say this every year but this year especially, the holidays seem to be on crack! We went shopping on Wednesday and Loulie pointed out that stores already had their Christmas trees up. Really?--we hadn't even carved a pumpkin at that point. I am determined not to get stressed out this year--to really enjoy my family and the traditions we have built. More on that later--I have a few ideas to simplify the season and hope to do a post on that later. Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween! Go Dawgs!



A couple of things

We just got back in town last night after 6 days away in Disney. What an experience--I say that tongue in cheek because even though there were definitely magical moments, I think my child might be the first in history to ask to leave Disney World because she "just wants to be at home." But the trip and her birthday celebration were so sweet and I can't wait to upload all my pictures and relive all that was memorable.
Which brings me to this morning. Since we missed Loulie's actual birthday at school, they celebrated today. Montessori schools actually do a "Life Celebration" where the child walks around the sun the number of years they have been alive. Loulie and I were to make a timeline with pictures and milestones. Since we arrived home so late last night, I did a big no-no and just made the poster by myself this morning. And as I was piecing together the pictures and years and milestone bullet points, I realized there is so much I don't remember about Loulie's second year of life. What were we doing?! She started  walking and talking before turning one and started preschool and ballet right before her second birthday. But I cannot remember a thing about that year in between!
So that motivated me to get on the ole blog again. I have soooo many unfinished posts from this summer, well really the last 6 months. Bert actually makes fun of me. He'll walk by my office, see me slumped over the computer and ask "How many times have you read and edited that post?" He's right though--the type A, oldest child, perfectionist does not always serve me well. I have a ton of posts basically finished by any other standards, except that I think it just sounds a little off. Who really cares though?--I keep this blog for my own memory and outlet, occasionally posting something for the masses that I might share. All of probably ten people visit this thing.
Long story longer, I am going to go back and hopefully update posts as well as keep up better. I hated that feeling of not remembering a whole year this morning and this blog is a great way to relive.
Also, it has been a whirlwind of two weeks--school starting, Labor Day, get ready for vacation, 4 hectic days of vacation. Driving home yesterday, I realized the summer is over. I haven't even had time to think about it. Hopefully, a regular schedule will commence although I've found myself wandering the house this morning not knowing where to begin on my "Once Loulie Starts School" to do list.
Anyhow, I hope everyone has a eventless Friday the 13th. Ours started out with a bang when I unbuckled Loulie for drop off and she leapt over the seat and clung to my neck not wanting to go into school causing me to jump my car over the curb. You should have seen the look on her assistant teacher's face. Geez! Moment to remember. Thankfully, she was fine by the time I showed up for her celebration and she was nothing but proud that her mama was there and her friends were singing to her. So the unlucky morning has already taken a turn for the better!

Happy Rest-filled Weekend!


Dog Days of Summer

It is a sin that we live 5 minutes from the beach and go so rarely. A goal of mine this summer has been for Loulie and I to go more, which we have, but Bert has only been twice (maybe). I decided Friday night to remedy that. Instead of packing up for or usual Friday night at Freshfields dancing, we decided at 6:30 to throw on our bathing suits and head to the beach. Besides, it has gotten so humid here, by the water is really the only place anyone wants to be. 
6:00 is my favorite time of day to spend at the beach. There were still a good many people there, but if you have ever been to Folly, there is no pretention or reason to be at all self concious. So Bert and I both joined Loulie riding waves and rolling in the sand. We played until dark and then threw on cover ups and walked through the little downtown for dinner. It was a sweet family night--the kind that isn't big plans but that you will probably remember with more fondness than the nights you did have big plans.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key--a birthday party, church, ice cream date with good friends.  Bert and I did have a movie date Saturday night--The Way, Way Back.  Loved it! We are pretty particular about movies and always rave when we see something different. It was a dark comedy and we were still talking about it Sunday afternoon. Not giving anything away, I did have a hard time seeing Steve Carrell play the antagonist. 

This morning starts a busy week--I am so towing the line between schedule and just having fun. On one hand, I feel like we need to be working on adjusting bed times for the early school time we have coming to us but I also want to pack in as much fun and freedom as we can into the next few weeks. Looking at the calendar though, I think life is beginning to force us into good behavior--early bedtime, eating better and getting organized. I can handle--I thrive on structure. But oh how I am going to miss those late nights at the beach.


Why Cleanse? (Part One)

I casually posted the result of my 9 day deep cleanse never guessing how many people would be curious about it. I have since tried to get back to people individually through email, ramp up my IsaGenix website and send out a few links but I decided this was the best way to include all the information, answer frequent questions, give my first hand experience, and include outside research as well as IsaGenix information. If the thought of a cleanse piqued your interest at all, then I would LOVE to talk to you one on one. I was skeptical at first too but have truly been amazed at the results. After all, this is the type of nutrition our body is supposed to experience--not caffeine, artificial sugars, processed meals and fast food.

1. Why Cleanse?
In laymen's terms, our body is exposed to toxins everyday--our shampoo, our cleaning supplies, our food, our furniture, even things we think are good for us like anti-aging face lotion. All of them have chemicals that our body is not meant to process. Because of this constant and overwhelming exposure to toxins, our liver is in overdrive and working around the clock. This can lead to weight gain, exhaustion, illness, etc. I watched Forks Over Knives earlier this year in which a physician explained that our liver holds on to toxins because it never has a chance to catch up. These toxins hold onto fat, especially around our organs and midsection. No matter how much we work out, we will never release this fat as long as the toxins are there. (This kind of flipped me out.)
If you want more information, then rent Forks Over Knives or watch this short clip (a little cheesy but full of good info).
Typically when you think of cleansing, people immediately think of colon cleanses, diuretics, and juicing. The problem with these is that you are not getting all the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Yes, you are ridding yourself of the bad without necessarily filling it back up with good. Certain cleanses can also lead to stomach problems, hypoglycemia, and dehydration. While juicing can be a healthy way to replace a meal, you still have the concern of pesticides on the fruits and vegetables if you do not have access to all organic. This is an excellent article on how our food absorbs these poisons and how it affects our bodies. (More on this later.)

2. Why did I seek out cleansing?
For a lot of reasons I talk about above. I've always loved studying nutrition. With this knowledge can come an almost paralysis though. I found myself often asking "What CAN I eat?" and trying to choose the lesser of the evils or just flat giving up and reaching for my child's goldfish. Having a child though I think gives you extra drive to really seek out what is best for them. That coupled with just always feeling tired, I knew I really wanted to reboot my diet. Being tired can send you grabbing for caffeine and sugar and I crave sugar! So really I did this cleanse with three goals in mind--more energy, reboot my eating habits, and break the cycle of sugar addiction.

3. What was my experience?
I ordered the 30 day system but completed the 9 day deep cleanse to get started. The first day I had a slight headache but nothing major. Almost immediately, I experienced an increase in energy. Here is what I noticed:
- Increase in energy as well as an easier time getting up in the morning. (I am notorious for hitting snooze and I found myself waking up before my alarm!)
- Clearer skin by day 4. My sister was actually the one to point this out.
- Faster recovery from workouts. I take two pretty intense back to back classes on Mondays and always wake up Tuesdays barely able to walk. Since using these products, I wake up much more hydrated, still sore but with the strength to move easily--not a creaky, old lady feel.
- Lost 5 lbs and 6 in. This was a bonus I did not expect. What was different from other times I've lost weight was that I didn't look frail but more lean. And I actually had visible stomach muscles for the first time in 4 years. No more "mummy tummy"--that lovely pooch that hangs out after having a baby.
- I really never felt shaky, hungry or craved sugar. Sure I was ready to eat by the time meals rolled around but I did not have a growling stomach. 
- Did I mention I didn't crave sugar? I have never done a cleanse or fasted or changed my diet where I didn't feel like downing a box of Mike and Ikes at any point in the day. I found the shakes to be satisfying and the protein/carb/fat ratio left me full and satisfied.
I am sure there are other benefits that I am not thinking of but these were the main noticeable differences I personally experienced.

4. Why did I chose this over other options?
- I've tried juicing before. Don't get me wrong--drinking straight fruits and vegetables is excellent for you but unless you can buy all organic and have the time to juice every meal and clean up and drink it all before going bad--I don't have time to do that consistently. That is just me-- a lot of people love doing this and I applaud them for it!
- Some friends have asked about doing Atkins or low carb to loose weight. These diets consist of a lot of meat eating which can lead to higher cholesterol. You still have the concern of buying organic and worrying about the growth hormones and antibiotics in your meat and cheese. And I really do not like meat enough. 
- What about other protein shakes and meal bars? I looked and looked at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market trying to find a way to recreate the IsaGenix plan at home. After comparing what I had just finished, I could not find an equal product that had low fat, high protein, low glycemic index, all natural, plus no GMOs at a store. You can see comparison between the shakes and meal bars here and here.

5. Look at the products.
The shakes are gluten free, no GMO, organic whey protein from New Zealand (their standards are higher than our USDA), all natural, no artificial stimulants. Once you email me, I can send you specific attachments on products. 

Really there is something for everyone! It has nothing to do with weight or athleticism. We can all benefit from higher standards of nutrition (especially in our country). So whether you are an athlete, trying to fit into a wedding dress, hoping for more energy, wanting to assess your current eating habits; if any of this has interested you, please give me a call at 843-566-4391 or shoot an email to laurendasher(at)hotmail(dot)com. If you are local, let me know if you would like to come by for a taste test and further discussion. It can take as long or as short as you like. I would love to talk to you more specifically about what you are hoping to gain or loose by doing a cleanse. If you have already researched this, I can also get you signed up right away. No pressure though--after spending most of my working years at the ADA and selling insulin; I really just love talking about this and have such a passion for preventing long term disease and health decline. Don't think calling means you have to purchase--I really just want to get everyone thinking about our habits and what we are passing on to our kids.

Thanks so much for your time and interest! I appreciate you taking the time to look over all this info.

All the Best,



1,050 Miles (a recap of our Southern Tour)

Loulie and I finally returned from our trip late Friday night. It really was such a fun time together that I didn't even notice how exhausted I was until I fell asleep sitting up yesterday afternoon. What can I say?--traveling alone with a three year old, no matter how much fun, can wear you down. Here is a little recap of our 1000 mile trek.

MILE 265
We ended up stopping in Macon Friday night on our way to Newnan. It was kind of hilarious leaving Charleston on Friday before the 4th. We were the one lone car pulling onto 17 while the opposite lanes were at a standstill with cars pouring in for the holiday. But that is how we like it--get out of town on the busy weekend and out of Bert's hair for his most daunting work week of the year. Not far into our trip, we were hit with a monsoon like thunderstorm. After about the third stop for Loulie to take a break, my sister in law called and offered for us to take a little detour to stay with them. It worked out perfect--we were able to have dinner with them and see my nephew, William who even as a teenager is about the sweetest kid I know. He spent hours playing with Loulie and helped her build quite an impressive Lego replica of an ice house.
MILE 355
After one sleepless night, we packed up again to go to the 3rd annual family day at my college friend's farm in Newnan, GA. You want to talk about a beautiful spot--Heavenly Hollow basically speaks for itself. My friend and her husband are THE most gracious hosts you've ever met and invite all of our college friends and their families down once a year for a full day of swimming, fishing, hay rides, jump castles and grilling. It is like Disney for the kids and such a great opportunity for us to catch up. It has been over a year or more since seeing some of my college friends so getting to spend this time with them and their families was precious. It went by waaay to fast but I'm hoping this is a tradition we will keep up over the years. As we were pulling out, Loulie said, "Man, that was a good time there." I think this little Charleston girl liked her taste of the country. 
Loulie kept saying over and over "Mom, I really like our new friends." And each time I would say, "Loulie, these are my oldest friends." I don't know why but that just cracked my up. And it makes my heart practically explode to see our kids making memories together...
MILE 395
You don't just drive 300 miles, pass through Atlanta and not stop. So we planned on stopping by Atlantic Station to have a little lunch, walk through IKEA and hit up a few of my favorite stores. It was nice and calm on a Sunday morning and Loulie was a trooper. It's funny how we get used to certain things living in a flat coastal town. The one thing Loulie was fascinated by in Atlanta?--underground parking and escalators! After thinking about it, you really don't see either where we live. It also goes to show it doesn't take much to impress a three year old--it's all exciting!
MILE 609
We finally made it to Knoxville, where we spent the majority of our vacation. My mother's sister joined us for the first two days which was a nice surprise and made for some totally hilarious moments. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we used to do everything with my aunts and cousins. 
We decided to spend out first day there out on the river since it was such pretty weather. Not tn minutes before our float down the river did the sky fall out with freezing cold rain. Loulie reenacted Dakota Fanning's scream from War of the Worlds. I really think windows broke in some mountain houses. I don't really blame her--I kind of wanted to scream too if I hadn't been laughing so hard at out luck. We made it up to her with ice cream from this new little spot in Townsend. It is an old train car--you order at the conductor's window and then go to the back of the car where they open a door to hand you your food. Super cute and I would think a big hit with little boys. 
Most days we spent taking long walks, shopping cute stores around Knoxville and hanging out with my parents. We did try the best lunch spot, The Plaid Apron. All the food was locally grown with original entrees. I splurged on probably the best french vanilla macaroon I have ever tasted. 
For the fourth, we got to be a part of the Forest Brook 50th July 4th Celebration. Seriously, the cutest, most wholesome all-American July 4th you can imagine. My parents have been so lucky to have moved into this area and been surrounded by such nice people. Loulie and I have more fun each year. I actually got to attend the adult party this year while the most mature 11 year walked over to watch Loulie. I kept begging her to come back to Charleston with us. Louie participated in the parade on her own this year and despite a little crash at the end, was so proud of herself and her decorations. We left the picnic twice only for her to decide that she didn't want to miss out and headed back to the party. My mom and dad finally made her go home at dark. 

MILE 841
Unfortunately, we had to leave my parents Friday morning. What was already going to be a long and painful drive in vacation traffic became a little longer when I missed my exit ramp in Asheville and drove to Charlotte instead. Our stop here was brief--long enough for me to silently cuss my GPS, buy Loulie and ice cream and contemplate getting a hotel room. 

MILE 1050
In the long run, I decided that unpacking the car again would be more than I could handle so we crossed the entire state of SC to finally arrive home late Friday night. Saturday we celebrated being home by staying close to the water and cool breeze and taking a long walk downtown. It was the perfect family day. It feels good to be home.


I am Loving...

There are a few things I am not loving so much right now--this rainy weather, Bert's 14 hour work days, having to give Gillie back this weekend, spending 3 hrs at the vet finding out Bridget has a torn ACL, and that Loulie has gone to bed every night for two weeks at 11 and then woken up at least once in the middle of the night. How is it that I haven't had a newborn in 4 years and yet my sob story is always "I never get sleep." In lieu of my brief complaining (thanks for letting me get that off my chest), my "Love List" far outweighs any negative I might have going on.

Right now, I am loving..

- That we can finally announce that my sister is having a baby!!!!!!!!!!! Not due until Jan 9th so this might be the longest pregnancy ever. Loulie asks me everyday when Aunt Meme's baby is going to get here. Seriously, everyday! I cannot wait to hold that sweet little baby. I am not so secretly hoping for a boy since our family has never had one but obviously, I love girls and really just hope the baby is a big, healthy ball of squish. I'm pretty sure that being an aunt is going to be the greatest thing ever--I get all the benefits of loving on a sweet baby without raging hormones, sleepless nights or saving for college.

- The Office reruns on Netflix. How in the world did I go the past 8 years without getting into this show? Have I really been watching Grey's Anatomy instead of Steve Carrell every Thursday night? A friend posted some comment about the series finale on Facebook and I decided to check out the old shows (there is nothing on in the summer anyway). Obsessed! Jim and Pam are now in my top five favorite couples. Love the dry humor, the sexual innuendos, the random cast, LOVE IT!

- That tomorrow I am leaving for a week with Loulie to go on our annual Southern Tour (SC to Newnan to Atlanta to Knoxville to Charleston). I'm a little nervous about the long hours in the car alone with Loulie but I cannot wait to see my friends and their families and my parents. 

- The 9 day deep cleanse I just finished! I tried it at the suggestion of a friend after feeling sluggish and puffy all month. Amazing results--soooo much more energy, lost lbs and inches, and my skin is clearer. Definitely explaining in more detail in another post. I would recommend to anyone.

- A new favorite author, Rainbow Rowell. I just picked up her recent book from the library. It is like a John Hughes movie to the Nth. Seriously, the cutest misfit love story set in the 80s. You will love it from page one. The good news is she already has another book coming out with just as endearing characters and apparently as unique a plot. I love finding new authors--it's always nice to have a few favorites that you know you will enjoy their book when you pick it up. 

- That I won the $25 Trader Joe's gift card for bringing my own bag this week. I was beginning to think they never pick a winner. I enter every week and have never won. $25 at TJ's will be spent before I can even get past the flower section but there are few places where I would rather have free $!

- That 105 Charleston high schoolers left for Young Life camp this week. It's the first time in years that the number has been this high. We have been asked to pray for a specific few and I would love for anyone to join me in that. I cannot wait to see where God will move this week and how he will work in their lives when they return. We really feel like James Island is home and have started to try to dig more into the community. Of all the things we try to involve our family in, this mission gives me the most hope. That lost high school kids have an opportunity to hear about Jesus because some college kids have decided to commit their time to hanging out with them--it's just awesome! And I am so blessed to get to play some very small part in it.

So, that's it for now. I have a lot of packing left!

Happy Fourth Week!


Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend was near perfect. Yes, Bert had to go into work everyday but thanks to technology and new monitoring systems, we were given much more time with daddy on a holiday weekend than in years past. I woke up Friday with all the grief of the previous days gone. It was gorgeous weather, unusually cool for Charleston. That coupled with kick offs for all the quintessential Charleston summer events, I couldn't have asked for a better start to summer.
I love that we have traditions with Loulie as well as other family friends that we now anticipate. It's a benefit that I didn't realize would come with Loulie getting older and it's a joy to see she and her friends at the same events year after year but experiencing it a new stage in maturity. Friday we packed up our picnic for the first of hopefully many Freshfields Concerts with friends down at Kiawah. I wish I had taken pictures because watching all those girls jam in front of the band was hilarious!  Loulie stayed front and center all night and never quit dancing!
Saturday we woke Bert up bright and early. I'm sure after a night of beer drinking, he loved having all three girls jump on the bed to T Swift. He finally gave in and got up to take us to the Piccolo Spoletto Kid's Festival, probably one of my favorite events of the year...
 All the children were mesmerized by this fairy that didn't say a word but sprinkled magic dust (glitter) on all the kids. This would have been Loulie's favorite part had we not then run into the pony rides, wall painting, face painting, a marching band parade and music performances. The downtown farmer's market now has an insane amount of food trucks compared to last year. Loulie is obsessed with Tianna, the Disney princess from New Orleans. She has asked 100 times what "Tianna's man catching beignets" are so we waited in line forever so that she could try that yummy goodness. Needless to say, she didn't really want to share.  

 On Sunday, we played hookie from church to attend another one of our favorite events. The Abominable Feed & Seed Marching Band from Atlanta comes every year and performs a patriotic concert on the front steps of the U.S. Customs House. It is both crazy and heartwarming. There's a part where they play the song for each arm of the military and those that serve(d) stand up--lump  in throat moment for sure. Afterwards we headed to Amen Street for lunch with Meme and Bruce.

 And for Memorial Day, we laid low, went to the pool for the first time this year and made a fun dinner.  Loulie and I made a berry pie together and talked about how thankful we are for those that served our country and what it means to be free. It was a sweet weekend filled with great memories. I'm super excited about this summer and hoping to make the most of my time with Loulie before she starts school 5 days a week next fall. I'm thinking about making a mini bucket list so that it doesn't blaze by without doing all the things we want to do.

Happy June Friends!