Happy Father’s Day

21 June 2015

Two years ago I wrote a post sharing seven things I love about my Mom. I intended to write a companion post for my Dad that same year, and then the next year, but for some reason it never happened. As you’ll see, it’s not for lack of reasons. So in 2015, here are eight things I love about my Dad (in no particular order):


1. He is full of wisdom. This fact has always impressed me, apparently, because when I was in elementary school I designed and printed him a poster entitled “Everything I Need to Know About Life I Learned From My Dad” (sorry, Mom). You can click here to see a photo of this gem :) I could fill an entire blog post with his nuggets of wisdom that were imprinted upon me after being repeated over and over and over throughout my childhood, but one of my favorites is, “If you’re going to give, give graciously.” He knows that what you do is not always as important as how you do it.

2. He always takes the scenic route. Literally. He thinks the world is a beautiful place and doesn’t mind taking the longer way to see more of it. He’ll also take any excuse for a road trip, especially if a daughter is at the other end. He and I drove from Maine to Chicago once to help my older sister move, and driving through those picturesque New England towns with him is one of our fondest memories together.


3. He is a diplomat. He studied international law and diplomacy for his PhD, and instead of taking his skills around the world, he deployed them in our home and community. He is the one you want leading a meeting as well as refereeing at the dinner table. He is calm, patient, and fair, always. He votes in every election and is informed about every issue. He can strike up a conversation with anyone and put them at ease, even though at heart he’s an introvert like me. As one more example, when my family drove across the country for two weeks, he wrote up a family contract of behavior and made everyone (including parents) sign it, then laminated it and displayed it in the car on the drive.

4. I learned my punny humor from him. No opportunity is ever wasted to make a play on words.


5. He loves reading, writing, and learning, and he taught me to love them, too. For more than thirty years, my Dad was a college professor. He is SO smart, but he’s still intensely curious to learn, most often through reading. He is always reading. My sisters and I love to read, too, and I could not be more grateful that he instilled that love in me at a young age – it has shaped my life in every way. He also taught me almost everything I know about grammar and editing. Even after correcting dozens of student papers, he would always read through mine for school. Instead of correcting them for me, however, he would mark each line that had an error, and then we would go line by line together, and I would have to figure out what it was. He did this even if I brought him the paper at 10pm the night before it was due. No short cuts.

6. He is a dedicated servant. To his church, our country, our family cottages, civic groups, teams he coached, and more. When you’re a good leader (see no. 3), people tend to ask you to lead, and any position he accepts, he executes with graciousness and diligence.


7. He is a music maker. He has the most beautiful voice, he loves to sing harmony, and he is an amazing whistler. He regularly breaks out into song, most often while doing after dinner dishes.

8. He truly cherishes his children. In the end, this is my Dad’s defining characteristic. He will talk to anyone about his daughters – what we’re up to, what we did the last time we were together, when he’s going to visit us next. He has saved (and displayed) the most ridiculous grade school gifts we made him – his old office was full of them. Some of you may remember the books of drawings he gave Kate and I at our rehearsal dinners. When we were younger, he was NEVER too busy to read with us, ever. He is an example to me every day in how to treasure my closest relationships — and to show them that through my actions.

Bonus reason no. 9: He is one of my most faithful blog readers. If you see Rob commenting, that’s him :)

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

All photos by Tanja Lippert from our wedding

No. 45: Go to Europe

16 June 2015

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After putting it as a goal on my first 101 in 1001 list, and then my second, without checking it off, I’m extremely happy to say that for me, the third time was the charm. Last week, we went to Europe, and it was marvelous! Anytime I get to travel with John is my favorite, but this trip in particular was very sweet. I’ve wanted to go to France since my freshman year of high school, and it was almost hard to believe at times that I had really made it! A full report is coming soon, but in the meantime, here are the basics:

— We spent three days in Paris, two days in Provence, and three days on the Cote d’Azur.
— Everything that’s said about French people and baguettes is true – we ate so much bread during our stay! No one was complaining, though :)
— We walked almost 90 miles in 8 days (!!!), including 45 in Paris alone. My Toms sure were broken in by the end!

More to come soon!

P.S. I’m at 23 of 60 goals checked off on my 60 Before 30! Next up: nos. 14, 19, and 23 (surprisingly, I’m actually making progress!).

Wilmington and Bald Head Island

5 June 2015

Before Memorial Day fades too far into the past, I wanted to share our weekend trip to Bald Head Island and Wilmington, NC! Neither John nor I had spent any appreciable time at either location, so we were excited to explore both over the long weekend.


We drove down to Wilmington (about two hours from the Triangle) on Saturday morning. There are lots of beautiful old houses in Wilmington’s neighborhoods and some really neat businesses. I convinced John to pull over and take a photo of this one: an old fire house converted into a home decor store! It wasn’t quite open when we visited, but looked fantastic from peeking in the windows. I found this article after some Google searching. Worth a visit on a future trip!


Instead of eating lunch, we stuck it out until 2:30, when we met up with our group for a food tour of Wilmington! The tickets were my birthday present from John. Neither of us had been on one before; it was really fun. We visited six stops in about 3.5 hours. Highlights included:

— braised pork belly and pimento cheese grits at Pilot House
— zucchini noodles with delicious marinara sauce, sausage, and wine pairings at The Fortunate Glass
— oysters Rockefeller, a mini lobster roll, a pickled shrimp lettuce wrap, and an AMAZING flourless brownie at PinPoint. This restaurant, which had only opened the week before, was the unanimous group favorite. The chef, who has worked with John Fleer and Hugh Acheson, was SO impressive, and obviously very talented!
— macaroni and cheese, brisket, and homemade pickles at Fork n Cork
— mixed drinks at speakeasy The Blind Elephant
— four types of chocolate fondue at The Little Dipper


Needless to say, we were stuffed by the end! We took the long walk back, along the riverfront boardwalk, to our accommodations for the weekend — the genteel Graystone Inn. It was a very nice example of a bed and breakfast. After dropping our things, we hopped back in the car to drive the half hour or so to Wrightsville Beach to see the sunset. So beautiful!


Since the food tour kind of awkwardly segmented our day in terms of meals, we finished our evening with some pizza from Slice of Life and ice cream from Tar Heel Creamery. Yum :)


While walking the boardwalk on Saturday, we spotted a sign for The Anchor church, a United Methodist community that meets on a barge. So cool! We try to worship with local churches when we travel (we always learn something!), and this was definitely a neat experience.


After church, we drove down the coast to Southport and hopped on the ferry to Bald Head Island. It was such a beautiful day! After the 20-minute ferry ride, we arrived on the Island and immediately picked up our rental bikes from Riverside Adventure Company (it’s about a two-minute walk from the dock). Then, we moved one more door over to Mojo’s for lunch. It was yummy – a fairly typical example of a casual seaside lunch spot.


There are no cars on Bald Head Island (only golf carts!), so it was quite relaxing to ride the length of the island out to the beach on the far side. There was a pretty severe undertow going on, so we mostly just waded, but it was delightful!


After a few hours, we hopped back on our bikes and completed our circuit of the Island. Before dinner, we strolled around a few of the neighborhoods closer to the marina. These people know how to do blues and jasmine!





Our last stop of the day was dinner at Delfina Cantina. It was delicious and really hit the spot after all of our activities! Because it was Memorial Day weekend there were lots of community festivities going on (hula hoop contest, DJ, pinata) and therefore lots of good people watching. Just FYI, almost every lady was wearing a romper – the BHI summer uniform, apparently. We caught a fiery sunset on the beach before taking the ferry back to the mainland.



Could that sailboat be more perfectly situated? I don’t think so. I would highly, highly recommend a trip to Bald Head Island – either a day trip or something more extended! It would make a great family vacation for sure!


Before departing Wilmington for home, we spent the morning touring the USS North Carolina Battleship. I think it’s important to honor — in some intentional way — days like Memorial Day, instead of just seeing them as a free day off for picnics. It was neat to learn about the battleship, and now we’re so curious to see how a current ship compares to this one that was decommissioned in the ’60s!

Have any of y’all been to Bald Head Island? Wilmington? Do you try to recognize holidays like Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day in some way? I’d love to hear!

June 2015 Goals

2 June 2015

No post for ten days then no goals posted on the first of the month? Y’all must have thought I fell off the face of the planet! In fact I am still kicking, just busy traveling! As I mentioned last month, I have one more busy month ahead (this one), and then the rest of the summer should be more relaxing – whew!


Revisiting my goals for May:
Get back into a good exercise routine, working out three times a week. Yes! Did a much better job with this this month.
Finish planning our France trip. Well, seeing as we’re just a few days away from departure, I’m going to call it planned. Hoping we can do a little more parsing of Provence and the coast before D-Day.
Buy a crossbody bag before our trip. Yes! On Sunday… hoping it arrives in time!
Build flower bed along our back fence. This one we ended up tabling. We’ve been waffling on whether to do a more wholesale renovation of the backyard. At the beginning of the month, when I set these goals, we were leaning away from it, but now we are leaning toward it. If we’re going to do it, we don’t want to spend the money on what will eventually be torn out, so we’re holding off for now.

June goals:
— Enjoy our France trip to the fullest! Eat baguettes, walk Parisian streets, break out our language skills, admire the fields of Provence, etc., etc.!
— More travel: Virginia, Connecticut, and Kentucky!
— Celebrate Father’s Day, older sister’s birthday, and younger sister’s graduation with my family
— Have lunch dates with two dear friends
— Replace my everyday bag while in France (no. 40!)

If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!