My friend and former co-worker (wah), Adrienne and I decided to head to Nashville, TN for a girls trip/Mommy conference. Last year one of the bloggers we both
We kissed our babies & daddies goodbye & headed out Thursday morning. Only 1.5 hours behind, but I call that winning. We loaded up, grabbed Starbucks & got on the road. Who doesn't love 5+ hours in a car with your best of friends? We listened to our favorite tunes, caught up on life, made sure we were headed in the right direction & had a lot of snacks. Like a lot of snacks.
Almost 6 hours later we pulled into our hotel & unloaded. Our hotel was in Franklin, which apparently is the most visited town in Tennessee (even over Nashville). Just picture the nicest place you have ever visited...and then multiply by 100. That's Franklin.
We might have left the kids at home, but we brought their snacks.
Thursday night we were pretty exhausted & decided not to venture out too much. But, the conference didn't start until Friday morning, so we wanted to do something around the area before the next day. We tried to make it to the Grand 'Ol Opry, but the traffic was bad & we don't like traffic or lines so we passed. And we went to Target instead. Hey - you can take the girls out of Indiana, but you can't take the Target away...or something like that. Multiple dollar bin purchases later, we headed back to the hotel to change for dinner.
Adrienne found an adorable restaurant in downtown Franklin that we wanted to try. Brick walls, live band, kid-free, & bottomless drinks. Ok, not bottomless - but wouldn't that be nice? Taylor Swift recently had dined at this restaurant & we were pretty sure we sat at her table. So basically she should have given us free tickets to her concert (that was in Nashville that weekend...what are the chances?!) The best part of Thursday night was our dessert. It was indescribable. We are still talking about. It was made by a local pie company called "Papa C's" & we had the waiter surprise us on what flavor to choose from. And he did a dang good job. He brought the Ghirardelli Chocolate Fudge Pie & we were both sure we haven't tasted anything better. But lucky for us Papa C ships his pies across the country, so we hope Santa is reading this post. We walked through Franklin a little bit after dinner, and headed back to our hotel for the evening. Both asleep in less than 10 minutes.
Friday morning we woke up early, showered & grabbed Starbucks to go shopping before the conference started at noon. Again downtown Franklin was calling our name. The whole town is very faith based & everywhere we went we heard "Have a blessed day" and saw signs of Jesus-loving people on every corner. So refreshing. Our favorite store was called "Philanthropy" and was just the most adorable boutique. One whole wall in the boutique was a dedicated "prayer wall" covered in candles and soft music. You could choose a ticket to write a prayer request on & then take someone else's to pray for. Some were even written by children. I chose one written by a sweet person asked for prayer in starting her family either biologically or through adoption. Such a neat, neat idea. We left Philanthropy with matching shirts which didn't surprise us because we left Chicago with matching Hunter boots when we were there a few years ago. #justcallusMaryKateandAshley
After a quick lunch in Franklin, we were on our way to Brentwood Baptist for the start of DotMom! After checking in, we headed in to the worship opener and the first speaker. After the keynote speaker, we had both signed up for the same two sessions: Kids & Emotions and Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. Both were AMAZING and so informative. The leader of the breakout, David Thomas, is a Christian Family and Child counselor & author. He was just incredible to hear. We could have heard him speak all day. We both were furiously taking notes & trying to take it all in. David spoke about kids & their emotions and how we, as Moms, can handle the different emotions that arise in different stages of their development. We also learned so much about the development of boys and what they need from us. A lot of the ideas and advice he spoke about really resonated with me & I am already changing some things I do and say with Dane. Even something as simple as giving directions needs to be different with boys than girls. If you ever have the chance to hear David speak, DO IT. And tell me when you are going.
The conference broke for dinner that evening & we ended up making our way to downtown Nashville on the "strip." Otherwise known as Nash-Vegas. Talk about fun. We ate at a local bbq joint that was highly recommended by several friends & it was good. Not good was me throwing away my credit card in the trash. I blame the newspaper and paper towels covering my tray. After digging through the trash for about 2 seconds, we threw in the towel & Adrienne said she had my back the rest of the night. We tried a few other places & ended up at a fun place on the corner where the band played everything from Garth Brooks to Gretchen Wilson. We headed back to our hotel around 1am and dropped. Such a fun, but long day.
Saturday we woke up super early, packed everything and headed out to the last morning of the conference. But, we forgot to pack the 100 boxes of Kleenex we would need when hearing the keynote speaker. Karen Kingsbury is a New York Times best-selling author of Christian fiction, and I had heard of her but hadn't read anything of hers. Well, that is about to change. Karen spoke for almost 1.5 hours and there was not a dry eye in the house. She is a story-teller, so naturally would be an excelled speaker as well. She spoke about our "lasts" with our children, and how we need to hold on and cherish those little moments. The last bottle your baby takes, the last time they sit on their daddy's shoulders, the last high school game they will play, the last cuddle in their bed. I couldn't handle it. Her speech was focused around creating our own best-selling novel. The characters in our story are our family and the hero is God. What a wonderful best-seller that would be. We could barely see straight to make it to the first session after Karen was finished.
Adrienne and I split up for the next session and she attended one on raising girls, while I went to one on Mothering From a Place of Rest...or slowing down. We might not all be able to stay home with our children, but what are some areas that CAN slow down so that we can spend more quality time with these precious little people? She definitely had some great ideas and advice to share.
The conference ended later that afternoon & we were back in the car. The weekend was almost over. We spent the next hour or so just debriefing everything we had learned over the weekend. Who else is better to talk to than another sweet mama? No one. We promised we would come back next year because there were so many other sessions we wanted to attend.
This blog post would be about 1,000 pages long if I listed everything we learned about motherhood & marriage. But something that David Thomas said has really stuck with me, and I keep thinking about it. I love analogies so it is simply perfect.
Raising children is like shooting a bow and arrow. If you do not have precision and focus, when you release that arrow it will go all over the place...perhaps even causing major damage. But, if you release it with strength and are pointing it in the right direction, it will hit that bullseye every time. Dane is my arrow. God is our strength & I plan on hitting the bullseye & offering him the best little life possible on Earth.
Thank you to Lifeway Christian for offering such an incredible conference. Thanks to Nashville for being...well, Nashville. We weren't prepared for all of the fun you had to offer. Thank you to our hubbies who didn't complain (to our faces, at least) for leaving them with the littles all weekend.
And thanks to Adrienne for just being you. An incredible wife, mommy & friend.
Just 359 days until next year. ;)