the Friday five — link up #22

Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Friday y'all! Did you know that my favorite number is 22? Well, it is, and this might be one of my most favorite Friday five posts, yet. Why? Cause I'm blogging from the beach, y'all!! So today I'm going to tell you my five favorite things about the beach.

the Sowell life

the Sowell life's Friday five...

1) {The Sun} I'm no longer the white pasty girl anymore. I've officially got a pretty decent tan, y'all. Of course, I have a long ways to go until I get the desired color I would like to have, but enjoying getting it a little bit at a time.

2) {The Relaxation} Yep, we've been getting some great relaxing time, but we've still been getting up early every morning. We've also been going to bed pretty early, too. 

3) {The Food} If you're interested in eating at chain restaurants, the beach is not for you. You'll have to get off of Beach Blvd to find a Micky D's or Chick-Fil-A, but who comes to be the beach for that kinda food anyway? 

4) {The Sound of the Waves} We've had some rough seas here lately, but it's makes for some really big waves. And when they come crashing in... it's music to my ears.

5) {People Watching} Don't judge cause y'all know you do it too! But seriously, it's so much fun to watch the little kids playing or getting in the ocean for the first time. And then you have those awkward people who aren't sure how to lay out, or even apply spray sunscreen. We've gotten quite a few good laughs in this week! 

Now, who's ready to link up?!! Thanks for stopping by, linking up, sharing the link up on your blog and on twitter! I appreciate y'all spreading the word more than you'll ever know!!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!! Be sure to check out the Foodie Friday on the AlabamaWomenBloggers website! I'm blogging a quick and simple, yet really yummy recipe for a summer dessert.

Traveling After Baby — Straight on the Ground

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It can't be Thursday already, y'all! As y'all know, I'm on vacation, and today I've got another one of my favorite bloggers, Suze, sharing about traveling without your baby! I love all of her posts, so head over to her blog after she confirms that you can travel without taking your baby!


Hi, everybody!  Or as Joy might say, hi, y'all!  I'm Suze from Straight on the Ground, and I am so delighted to be posting on Joy's beautiful blog today.

I had a baby last summer, and in March, we went to Orlando — truly the happiest place on Earth.  Our baby was about eight months old when we took our trip.  We were going back and forth about whether we should take our baby or not.  It was a hard decision.  I didn't want to leave him, but I knew he would not have a good time.  And we probably wouldn't have had as good a time either, frankly.  So we left him with his loving grandparents and we peaced.  Here are some lessons learned from that experience.

  • Not every baby is having fun at Disney.  Yes, our baby is easily entertained.  But he also is very little and gets hungry and sleepy and doesn't care when your Fast Pass for Space Mountain is.  There were tons of sad babies at Disney.  Sure, there were happy ones too.  But almost every five minutes we would see a sad or hot baby and say, boy I'm glad we didn't bring Nicky.
  • The baby won't forget you.  This was a huge concern of mine.  Maybe it was my crazy hormones, but I was genuinely concerned that our bond wasn't strong enough.  I was sure wrong!  He was happy while we were gone, staying with very loving grandparents, but when we saw him at the airport, he was just thrilled.  If anything, I think it reaffirmed in my mind the fact that we are bonded.
  • You are not a bad mom.  Just because you choose to leave your baby behind doesn't mean you're a bad mom.  Taking care of yourself and your marriage is very important..  You and your husband are his world, and if you aren't happy and healthy, he can't be either.  There are always moms trying to make other moms feel bad.  Don't.  (And try not to do it to other moms, mkay?)

Reunited and it feels so good!

Well, that's my two cents on traveling without a baby!  Thanks for reading and big thanks to Joy for letting me take over today! 

Be sure to follow Suze at these other social site!

Traveling with Toddlers — Bluebird Sisters

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hey y'all! I'm excited to continue my travel themed guest posts while I'm on vacation with my sweet friend Jessica, from Bluebird Sisters. I've had the privilege to meet her in person, and she's just as funny in person as she is on the blog! Thanks Jessica for your advice, and for letting your personality shine through your words!


I am SOOO excited to be guest posting for Joy! I'm jealous that she is sitting on the beach, but very happy she asked me to do this!

My name is Jessica and I blog over at Bluebird Sisters. I am married, have one daughter I lovingly refer to as The Bird, and 2 furbabies.
But let's get to it...

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Thank goodness it's toddlers and not infants. Man oh man, we would have been here for days. But seriously. If you travel with an infant - ONLY go to family. And MAKE them have everything you need. It will save you stress, money, time, and you might actually get a chance to breathe! They need to be thankful you made the trip! So, now on to toddlers. After the age of 1(maybe 2 if you're lucky), airlines require you to purchase an extra ticket for children. Some airlines even require certain seating - whether it is your own car seat, or special airline seats - so make sure to check prior to purchasing tickets. If they give you an option, choose your own car seat - most likely you will need it where ever you are headed, right? Because of the extra cost, most people drive! WOOHOO! Long car rides with little people learning to control their bladders. Awesome. So a few tips that I have learned are  *drum roll*

 1. Engage them in conversation. 
In the beginning of every trip, excitement is high. Later when stress is high, people want out, that is when they can rest quietly. So talk to them once the car is started! Get them tired to they will rest. Even if it means singing Under the Sea a million times, or going through Old Mac Donald's farm till there are will be thankful later.

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2. Have things in the front seat.
I have actually made a long trip alone with The Bird before. Since I was by myself, pulling over was not an option. So I made sure to have extra snacks, an extra sippy cup, books, toys, you name it - there were 2 of everything and I kept one! If your spouse is with you, it makes things a little easier. But still always nice to not have to try and be Inspector Gadget and reach back.

3. Plan around naps.
If you're one of the lucky few that has a curtain crawler that naps, take advantage! Plan your trip so that majority of the time will be spent sleeping or at least quiet and relaxed. You know the saying Happy Wife = Happy Life, well when it comes to vacations - Rested Kid = Happy Mom.

4. Try not to stress.
Hard I know. I struggle with it. But let's be honest. You can plan to your heart's content, but you can't plan for traffic, 4 potty stops in 1 hour (true story), weather or meltdowns. Just relax. Allow extra time. Plan for setbacks, and realize that for whatever reason you are traveling - it's a time with your kids. A time for memories. New experiences for them. Maybe seeing family you haven't seen. Breathe. Enjoy. (And don't chance it when they say they have to pee.) Oh and there is a bright side - you will learn all you need to know about restrooms. Where to stop, and where not to stop! :) If you're in Texas ALWAYS look for a Buc-ee's.

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5. Lists
If you are like most women, you will pack for your ENTIRE family - husbands included! What I do a day or two in advance is make a list of everything I use, kids use, hubby uses - and TA-DA there is my packing list. I also always pack my daughter the night before. One less person to worry about. Also, try putting your suitcases out, with the lists on top - with a pen! Then you are fully prepared and can mark off as you load things in.

6. Dress Comfortable Long car rides = squirmy, unhappy kids. Dress them in easy to wear clothes. Let them take their shoes off. Don't worry about hair. Make them as comfortable as possible, so your drive/ride can be the same.

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Whether you fly or drive, staying overnight in a new place can be scary for the littles. My daughter sleeps flat out, and she out grew her play yard VERY early. When we stay in hotels, we make sure to get a suite, or a room that has the "living space" with a couch bed. Once in the room, we do a little rearranging! We move the couch so that she won't be in direct view of the TV (which Hubs and I leave on all night). We did the same thing with her play yard - moved the couch so we could put the play yard in the corner. Reassure them that you are still there. We always take our sound machine for her too, to drown out any unfamiliar noise, and make her feel at home.

Great toy/entertainment ideas:
Magna Doodle Lace toys Electronics - tablets, phones, leap frog toys Board books I-Spy games - tons of ideas on Pinterest for older kids Playdoh filled balloons A children's music CD - should boost their spirits for a little bit :) A new toy is always fun too! And don't forget any loveys or any other "special" toy that must go along. Thanks for reading. It can be stressful traveling with children, but just remember you are creating their memories. They won't remember you forgot their socks, toothbrush, or that you didn't sleep - But they will forever remember the experiences!

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PS - NO. We haven't gone to Disney...just influencing her as much as possible!

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Be sure to follow Jessica here, too:

Traveling with your Fur Babies — Life with the Hawleys

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Tuesday y'all! As y'all know, I'm on vacation, and I thought it would be fun to have some of my favorite bloggers guest post for me about traveling while I'm away from the blog. Today, one of my BFF (otherwise known as my soul sister) Darby is sharing about traveling with four-legged babies! I promise you'll love all her posts, so head over to her blog after reading these helpful tips!


Morning Sowell readers!!!!! I’m Darby from Life with the Hawleys!  Joy must really trust me to give me full reign of her blog, right?! No seriously, I’m super honored to be visiting with y’all today while Mrs. Sowell is enjoying her vacay with her hubby.  Sticking with the traveling theme though, today I wanted to share how I travel with my pups



Last summer my Mr. and I took a road trip back home from Houston to the east coast (see the trip here).  I said I would never make this road trip again after moving here but NEVER SAY NEVER friends!  Our good friend was getting married so we decided to take a 28 hour drive with two dogs (WE ARE NOT ALWAYS THIS CRA CRA!).  I was dreading this trip, but it turned out to be such a wonderful memory and we look forward to more long road trips with our fur babies.  There were several things we did to ensure that we didn’t pull our hair out on this trip:

Paw PrintPack for Entertainment- Just like traveling with children, purchase some new toys to give to your furbaby throughout the trip every few hours. This will keep them entertained.  And no, I refuse to answer how much I spent on my pups for car entertainment.  And yes, I know they’re spoiled lol

Dog toys

           New toys for the hotel room are great too, so they don’t explore their new "house" too much.


Paw PrintTire Before Hitting the Tires- Before hitting the road, have a nice exhausting play session with your pup; get them tired. Since we broke our trip up in a few days, before hitting the road each day we spent some time playing catch or visiting a dog park before resuming our trek. This prevented them from bouncing of the windows in the car.

Playing ball with my babies before hitting the road in Savannah, GA.


Before we hit the highway, I looked back & saw these sweet faces in the back seat.


Paw PrintBe Aware- When you’re planning your trip locate dog parks that are along the road.  You’re going to have to make pit stops of your own, so grab lunch and take it to a park where the pups can play and you can eat and stretch your legs. Everyone is happy :-) If you just find regular parks remember to pack some bags for “business time”.

This was an awesome dog park in Mobile, AL where we got to have a picnic while the pups ran off some steam.


Paw PrintPet Rent- In case you weren’t aware, pets aren’t cheap! Most hotels allow dogs, but the fee is more than the human fee. I kid you not! We did not stay in 5 star hotels because I refused to pay that much money for the dogs. We found hotels that either let dogs stay free (La Quinta has some nicer hotels where dogs stay free and they often have dog parks on their property), or a smaller fee, like $10. But don’t expect a 5-star hotel with a pet unless you want to pay for it.

Tomlin & Rooney thought this king size was for them. Silly puppies!


Paw PrintPack Extra- In addition to extra food & water for the car, you should also pack extra towels and shampoo. I’m glad that I did this because one day there was a hurricane & it was rainy but we still needed to let the dogs out. Just the thought of being trapped in a car with 2 wet muddy dogs will inspire you to pack the shampoo. So after play time, you can wash them (most dog parks have a hose outside) before hitting the road again. They will be tired and clean :-)

Tomlin loved the muddy dog park in Savannah, GA. 
I love the lavender puppy shampoo ;-)


Paw PrintBeaches- If you’re going to beaches, make sure you’re aware of dog laws…not all beaches allow dogs, even on leashes. We learned this the hard way (womp womb)

Rooney at the beach.  Did you know that sand is really tasty?! lol


Paw PrintBring Home With You- Our pups like their kennel (we call it their “room”) so we brought that with us for when we went out to dinner and they needed to stay at the hotel. Now I would not do this if our dogs were really loud and bark while we’re gone, but they don’t. Our pups just take it as another nap opportunity.  Also bring their water and food dishes and favorite toy from home; try to keep things familiar for them.

Rooney loves Mr. Potato Head

Rooney & Mr Potato Head

Paw PrintPlay Mat- I purchased a pet seat cover for the back seat & loved it so much I purchased another one for my hubby’s car.  A road trip has the potential to really get your car dirty and this thing has saved us so many times.  It protects the seats and makes cleaning later so much easier: just dump off the dirt or sand and throw it in the laundry.  This one easily clips on, is water resistant, and is only $10.

Pet Rider_thumb[4]

Paw PrintThe Obvious- If you know you’re pet hates the car, 28 hour road trips are not in your future.  But if not, this really could be a fun trip, so make sure your pet has up-to-date vaccines and tags before you leave.


Bringing your pet with you on a road trip doesn’t have to be a nightmare, but planning is essential. Take the time to get organized and prepared and you’ll have a great trip with awesome memories with your pet.

Be sure to follow Darby here, too!

Things You Should do on Vaca — Life According to Steph

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day, y'all! As y'all know, I'm on vacation, and I thought it would be fun to have some of my favorite bloggers guest post for me about traveling while I'm away from the blog. Today, Steph is sharing what all vacations should consist of! I promise you'll love her posts, so head over to her blog after reading what she has to say about what we all should do on vaca!


I’m Steph. You can find me Monday through Friday at Life According to Steph, blogging about my weekends, sharing tips and tricks about cooking and hausfrauing, discussing books and life in general; and posting many gratuitous photos of food, drinks, the sky, and my two pugs on instagram (follow me here). Much gratitude to Joy for letting me fill in for a day while she’s off enjoying a fabulous vacation!

Vacation… Isn’t vacation a favorite thing everyone in the world has in common?

I try to make the most of every day, and vacation is no different. I research the crap out of everything before I even leave. I want to have the best time ever, be it a short weekend getaway or a week-long trip.

Here are five things I always do on vacation:

      1) Do the touristy things. They’re popular for a reason. I like to strike a nice balance between doing the tourist thing and striking out to discover hidden treasures on my own. I’m from Philadelphia, and if you come to visit my town and don’t eat a cheesesteak or soft pretzel and avoid the Art Museum steps and the Betsy Ross House when you visit just because you don’t want to do tourist things, I’ll call you a fool and say good day. Get your picture taken in front of the statue!

San Francisco sights: Lombard Street, Alcatraz, and to the North the mighty redwoods

      2)  Sample food and drink that you won’t make at home, or can’t get in your area (and don’t worry about the calories).

Rum punch, French pastry, and Guavaberry punch in St. Maarten

      3)  Be spontaneous. I plan my vacations meticulously, but if the opportunity arises to do or see something that will throw everything else off but may be worth it, I jump on it.

      4) Schedule relax time too – especially if you’re doing a lot of sightseeing and visiting. Know yourself and what you need – If you’re someone who needs alone time, you still need that on vacation too. If you get cranky after four hours of being on the go, make time for a little siesta. Taking a nap, reading a book by the pool, eavesdropping on strangers’ beach conversations: all good use of vacation time.

I do my best relaxing on the beach

      5) If possible, give yourself an extra day at home before returning to work to ease back into post-vacation life. I like to come home on a Friday.

What do you always do on vacations?


Be sure to follow Steph here, too:
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