We Went to Hawaii!

Last month, we went to Hawaii! Glenn took me to Hawaii, if you really want to be exact. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was a gift. A generous one I might add. {!!!!!!! to say the least !!!!!!!!} We flew to the Big Island – a new island for us – the day before Mother’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day also happened to fall on the 10th of the month, which is always a more sensitive day for both Glenn and I, so it was extra special to get to be on a fancy-pants vacation together on such a tender holiday.

I came down with a horrible, horrible, horrible cold a few days before we left. Needless to say, flying with severe congestion is not exactly ideal.


We made it through the flight, however, and were SO glad to land in Kona!

Since this was our first time to the Big Island, we had a lot of fun exploring and finding our favorite spots. We stayed at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and LOVED it. We have heard about this place from our dear friends for years, and were thrilled to finally get to experience it ourselves. We felt like it was laid back and Hawaiian, but still quite nice. We explored several other resorts on the island and decided we would choose Mauna Lani again in a heartbeat, unless the Four Seasons somehow became an option. {ummm… hello. it likely will not. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$}

There were lots of spots to walk or bike on the property, and we had a blast doing both.



Our favorite restaurant was The Beach Tree, which is actually on the Four Seasons property.  We went twice, once for lunch and once for dinner, and both were spectacular. Relaxed, delicious, fun, and gorgeous views — exactly the vibe we were looking for. At dinner they have live music, which is always such a treat!


This pictures was not taken at The Beach Tree, this is at The Canoe House, which was the restaurant on our hotel property which was also delicious, but not our favorite. 🙂

Our favorite beach was our beach at the Mauna Lani – the snorkeling was good {Glenn saw two turtles!!} and there is a nice calm bay so ocean wimps like me don’t have to fear for their lives.




The final thing I will share with you was our favorite adventure. This trip was more about the relaxing/vacationing than adventuring, but we both really wanted to see the volcano, since The Big Island is the only Hawaiian island that still has an ACTIVE volcano on it. You guys — it was soooooooooo cool! It is a serious drive from the resort areas to the volcano, but so worth it. We saw LAVA SPEW. Straight up. We smelled what the insides of the earth smell like as we walked through the steam vents. We trekked through rain forest and jumped over big puddles to get to a lava cave. We had dinner {and Glenn had a “lava flow” – how appropriate} overlooking, you guessed it, A LAVA POOL. It was really such a fun day, and the only part we didn’t like was driving 3 hours back to our part of the island at the end of the day. Still, totally worth it and something we would highly recommend to anyone visiting the Big Island that likes a little adventure!



Finally, we flew home on what felt like one of the longest, most boring, most drawn-out, and, quite frankly, worst flights ever. 🙂 It became comical just how bad the service and entire experience on this flight was. I think you can see the attitude in our faces here. Alas, we were not on vacation anymore, but it was still good to get home!


So much fun was had! What a treat! I can’t get over just how special it was to get to go on this vacation last month — over Mother’s Day, pregnant with our second son, with lots of time and space to remember and talk about Branch, and lots of time and space to be silly and rest. SUCH a treasured time. Thank you for making it happen, Glenn! xoxoxo



It’s official. I’m thirty-two!

I feel like that seems old, but I don’t really feel old at all. Hmm.

This year, 2014, I made two travel goals. Glenn and I often find ourselves committing to trips, weekend getaways, and family visits across the country that we don’t have the money for at the time of commitment, so then we are scrambling to pull together cash a few weeks before said trip.  This year we are changing things. No more scrambling. No more committing to things willy-nilly. We have promised each other that we will only commit to a trip once we have ALL the money we need in the bank.  Seems logical, I know, but you would be surprised by how easy it is to say YES to fun things without having the cash  in advance.

At any rate, my two travel goals for 2014 are: ski in Deer Valley {ideally for my birthday, which, yes, was last week} and vacation at the most luxurious place I have ever been : Manele Bay on the Hawaiian isle of Lana’i.

Trip number one: HAPPENED LAST WEEK! And it was awesome!!!! If you follow me on Instagram, you already know this. It was such a great trip that it is worth talking about here on the blog, too.

photo 1

I grew up skiing, and it is one of the only sports I actually enjoy.  We have great friends who have a home ON THE MOUNTAIN at the Deer Valley Resort in Utah and are sooooo generous to invite us to stay with them each year.  It’s honestly one of my favorite places to go, and skiing is one of my favorite things to do, so this is the perfect birthday trip for me!!

This year we only skied one day, and it was pretty brutal…  In all ways.

I haven’t skied in about five years, so needless to say I wasn’t exactly in “ski shape” when I hit the slopes a few days ago. I also had to remind myself, and allow Julie and Glenn to remind me, that I have had a bit of a rough few months. I had major surgery just over a month ago. I am just barely starting to jog again. I birthed and buried a baby. {Low point.}

I cried a couple times on the slopes {once on the lift, once at Stein’s while having a pretzel and hot chocolate}, but still did it.  The first run was really hard, the second just slightly less difficult, and then the rest of the afternoon was super fun. We even did a couple of “advanced intermediate” runs, which were a great challenge!

photo 2

I am probably boring you with all of these details, but honestly, by the end of the day I was genuinely proud of myself and wishing we could stay longer and ski every. single. day.  It started to feel like my birthday, like a “celebration”,  if even for just a few minutes.

In this season, where it seems like everything is so brutally hard, I have noticed that holidays and “celebrations” are extra difficult.  It feels almost too vulnerable. Like we shouldn’t be celebrating — like there isn’t really much to be happy about because, ultimately, what we are celebrating seems so shallow compared to what we have lost.  It feels weird. Really, it just feels  sad.

On our anniversary, when I was having a hard time feeling celebratory, Glenn reminded me that even though it’s different, there are still things to celebrate without pretending like we are happy-go-lucky or like Branch never existed.  He reminded me that celebrating our marriage was extra important this year because our marriage was what allowed someone as wonderful as Branch to come into the world. I am grateful for Glenn and his perspective.

photo 3

For my birthday I tried to remember that, too. I can still have fun. It’s ok when sadness is wrapped into, and all around, the fun.  It’s just fine when you have a great time skiing and still cry several times throughout the day because you wish you hadn’t lost so much so recently. A celebratory birthday is not defined by faking it, but by doing things you love with people you love — people who laugh with you, make fun of you as only friends can, and cry because they feel the profoundness of your loss alongside you. Thank you to my friends and family for being those people. For taking me skiing on my birthday, for planning special dinners, teas, parties. For sending me gifts in the mail. For singing to me on my voicemail. For wishing me a happy birthday in all sorts of ways.  You, my friends and family, my “tribe” as some say — you make everything better, and make me so grateful for all God has given me in my thirty-two years.

This morning Glenn was reading in Job, and this part struck us both — it’s at the very end of the book:

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

We are awestruck over the generosity and kindness our friends have shown us in this season. They come and eat with us at our house, they take us to dinner, they comfort and console us, they give gifts that seem far too generous. They are kind in every way.

I am starting to open my soul and listen as God tells me that He makes all things new. That His promises never fail. That spring comes from the winter. That He will bind up my broken heart. That He restores all that is lost. That He loves me so.

Thanks for being part of that.


The Marathon


Last time we chatted I was about to do my second ever MARATHON — I was nervous, excited, and ready to get up to San Francisco. A few weeks have passed, and I am happy to report the marathon was awesome! Most of you probably saw the photo updates on Instagram and Twitter, but just in case you didn’t, here are some highlights of the 2012 Nike Women’s Marathon. Photo collages courtesy of my lovely mother.

Highlights of the trip: crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles with SMILES on our faces, eating anything we wanted for a couple of days {San Francisco, yum}, a view of the Bay Bridge the second we stepped out of our hotel, countless laughs and encouraging moments with Mom and Sandy, dominating the public transit system {you’ve got nothing on us, BART/MUNI!}.


Strange moments of the trip: Watching a man attempt to steal NyQuil from a 7-Eleven, observing a drug deal {or twelve} as we walked around town, having to pay 10 cents any time we wanted a bag to carry our purchases in, risking our lives every single time we got into a taxi.

San Francisco has a special place in my heart, and even though it’s filled with lots of crazies, it’s a really fun place to spend a weekend, and an even better place to run a marathon… especially with your {almost} sixty year old Mom!

NWM 2013 – who’s with me??

Ruined for Life : The Story of Flying First Class

As a handful of you have pointed out, I have been absent for a couple of weeks. My reason? It’s simple. I recently experienced a new level of life -  a level involving elitism even I was unaware existed. Quite frankly, I am not sure I will ever recover.

Here’s how it happened.

A couple of weeks ago we were having dinner with friends and, literally out of the blue, we were offered the opportunity to fly to Japan THE FOLLOWING WEEK. We said yes. !!!!!! 

We were also informed that we would most likely be upgraded to first class.

Is this thing on?

You’ve got to be kidding me people! I’ve never even sat in a first class seat on a domestic flight, let alone dreamt of what it would be like to fly first internationally. Flat beds? Wine pairings? All the Disney and Justin Bieber movies you can watch? Sign. Me. Up.

Nervous and giddy, we hitched a ride to LaLa Land and eagerly awaited our names to be called for that 1:10am flight to Haneda.

Here we are with the Dougies, who graciously let us hop in their car all the way to LA. Glenn “slept” on the airport seats while I made myself a little fortress on the ground.

The only problem? It never happened. We were traveling on special stand-by tickets, so we were fully aware of the opportunity for adventure this would bring, but hadn’t really thought through what sleeping at LAX was going to look like. It’s about as glamorous as you can imagine –vaccuming from 2am-4am included. Not to worry, we were promptly re-routed through Detroit where we waited patiently for 7 hours, hoping and praying we would be headed to Japan soon.

“Murdock, party of 2.”

They called our name!

“Glenn, you go up! I’m too nervous!”

He willingly obliged.

My heart was aflutter. My stomach in knots. “Will we make it? Will we make it? Will we make it?” …I thought.

Glenn returned with two boarding passes – a good sign indeed. When he showed me the seats, I could have lept with glee!

Detroit, despite being a somewhat terrifying city, is actually an awesome airport with a cool train and fun fountains.

Ok I’ll stop rhyming now. Sorry.

“Keep it together!” I said to myself. But I was too excited! 3C and 3G! The front of the plane! Eeeeeeeeppp!!

And now, for those who are fellow non-first-classers: WE HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT! This is the life, people! I don’t care what they charge for these tickets, it’s worth it. Literally a life changer. I. AM. RUINED.

Let me paint you a picture of what life is like on “the other side.”

First, you board before everybody else. This is convenient not only because you have plenty of time to get situated, but also because you don’t have to deal with standing in line on the jet bridge with the riff-raff/back of the plane {which, yes, is noramlly me, but that’s beside the point}. As you get on the plane, the flight attendant looks at your ticket and then opens the curtain for you to enter the first class cabin. It’s like a dream. Humongous flat-bed seats, fluffy pillows, noise cancelling earphones, a travel pack filled with a toothbrush, mints, chapstick, lotion, comfy socks, an eye mask, earplugs, and anything else you might need. The second you sit down the flight attendant comes by asking if you would like a pre-flight glass of champagne or anything else to drink.

Yes. Yes I would. I’ve lived 30 years of life without a pre-flight glass of champagne, but all of a sudden it is evident I will never, ever, be able to fly without a little bubbly again.


“Mrs. Murdock, have you had a chance to review the dinner menu?” — my champagned elation is interrupted as I browse the evening’s selection. “Crab and avocado salad to start. Oh and yes, that vegetable soup does sound delightful. Mixed greens to keep things healthy. And how about the filet with bernaise sauce, rice pilaf, and steamed broccolini?

To drink? Hmm… well, hadn’t thought about that yet. “Why don’t we start with a glass of chardonnay and then move into the pinot noir when the main course comes.”

Is this real life??

I am grinning from ear to ear, Glenn and I high-five and start our movies – -just as a small bowl of warmed nuts arrives with our first glass of wine.

YOU GUYS. It’s literally like this the ENTIRE flight. Not to mention the fact that you have about 9 square feet {a slight exaggeration, maybe…} of the most comfortable airplane seat you could imagine. This was the first time in my life that I actually wanted the flight to last longer. 

A couple of hours before landing we were brought hot towels and breakfast. And then, right before touchdown, the flight attendants came around and thanked each of us personally for flying with them.

 It wasn’t so much that we were pampered or given the world’s most exceptional service while flying first — it was that we were treated like we mattered. Like humans. We were thanked for our business. We had space to breathe. We were fed without having to fork over a Visa for cheese and peanut butter crackers. It was awesome! Life will never be the same, and I am forever ruined.

Credits: Thanks for Delta Airlines for treating us so well. To April Ciervo for hooking it up so this flight was even possible. And to Glenn Murdock for being such a trooper and challenging me to always be up for adventure.

Dallas, Texas: Hotel Palomar and Other Such Fun

For Glenn’s birthday this year, we decided to visit Dallas. It’s only a five hour drive, it’s a big city {which we love}, and it’s in Texas {which we also love}.

During our visit we stayed at the Hotel Palomar Dallas. The Hotel Palomar is pretty much awesome. It’s centrally located, the staff is exceptionally friendly, and the beds are really comfy. They had a great workout facility, a beautiful spa that I was drooling over, and a wine hour every night where you could mingle with other guests. So fun!

The Hotel Palomar Dallas is part of the Kimpton Hotel Group, and I have to say I highly recommend any Kimpton hotel. I have stayed in Kimpton hotels in San Francisco, San Diego, and now Dallas. Oh! And our great experience at the Hotel Palomar just makes me that much more excited about staying at the Serrano Hotel in downtown San Francisco for my upcoming half marathon. I’ll try to get some better pictures from that stay… it’s just so hard to do anything but fall face-first onto the freshly made bed in a great hotel room when I walk in! How am I supposed to remember to take artsy pictures??!!

Our first stop in Dallas, and a big part of the reason we decided to take a trip to Dallas at all, was the recently opened In-N-Out. I’ve already told all of you about my love for In-N-Out, so there’s no need for me to take time explaining exactly how much we miss it or how amazing that first bite was. Oh me oh my.

Other fun moments on our first day in Dallas included burning the inside of our mouths on a habanero-chili cocktail at The Cedars Social and then looking for a place to grab dessert only to find that there is a Truluck’s in Dallas – home of the Chocolate Bag. I first experienced The Chocolate Bag thanks to my friend Blair back home in San Diego. I pretty much died a blissful death after my first bite. They serve a similar dessert here in Little Rock at a restaurant called SO, and the ever-so-talented Carol  made a version of it herself which you can read about here.

The Chocolate Bag at Truluck’s is a thick paper-bag shaped Belgian milk chocolate concoction, stuffed to the brim with a mixture of pound cake, fresh strawberries and blueberries, small crunchy bites of praline, and a mascarpone/whipped cream mixture.

You break into the bag and then pour homemade hot fudge all over it. It’s the most decadent and ridiculous thing one could ever eat, but it’s perfect for a birthday weekend. You will make yourself sick on this thing, I guarantee it.  Oh, and you see that orange-striped robe covering my arm? Another awesome feature at the Hotel Palomar Dallas was the animal-print bathrobes. I love bathrobes!

Hope you’re enjoying this! More on our second {and last} day in Dallas tomorrow.


Road Trip to Michigan: The Details

Here are the details of our road trip to Michigan. In case the title of this post did not make that clear.

Here we go!

Day One: Wake up at 3:20am. Get in the car and drive. Attempt to find a Starbucks and have absolutely no luck. Stop at Burger King for breakfast sandwiches and diet cokes. {Nothing says “good morning” like aspartame and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil}.  Finally find a Starbucks in Southern Illinois. Drink iced lattes. Cross over the Mississippi {pictured above}. Get stuck in a little bit of traffic outside of Chicago. Arrive at destination. Give and get lots of hugs. Eat homemade pizzas. Sleep really well in a 65 degree non-air-conditioned room. I love Michigan.

Day Two: Wake up to a breakfast of fresh eggs from the chicken coop out back {so good!}, sausage, and rye bread. Walk around fun Grand Rapids neighborhoods. Try on lots of clothes at resale shops. Eat dinner at The Green Well. End the evening with a dipped cone. I love Michigan.

Day Three: Wake up to a breakfast of fresh eggs, this time with pancakes {!!!}. Drive an hour and a half to the “beach” in Grand Haven. People-watch as we lounge by the water. Eat hot dogs wrapped in tortillas for lunch. Realize we all brought the exact same outfit to wear after the beach. Sip iced coffee as we shop at Nordstrom Rack {!!!}. Drive home through Grand Rapids to meet up with high school buddies Adam and Danielle for dinner. Humiliate ourselves by driving by Julie’s old flame’s house, as well as our friend Liz’s house, and taking pictures. I love Michigan.

Day Four: Wake up to a breakfast of fresh egg and sausage sandwiches. Run sprints in the rain. Eat lunch at the most well-known establishment in Middleville: Champs. Stop by Geukes Meat Market for the best beef jerky on the planet.  Make burgers and sweet potato fries for dinner. Kiss Gracie goodnight. Watch American Pickers/American Restoration/Pawn Stars awesomeness. I love Michigan.

Day Five: Wake up at 4:10am and drive forever. Consume 800 calories worth of “snack” {oops} which included a dipped cone. Cry about the 30 degree temperature difference between Michigan and Arkansas. Get giddy with excitement as we realize we get to see Glenn AND eat at Zaza. I love Michigan, I like Little Rock {this is a step in the right direction, people!}, but I love my husband the most.

Love to you all. Have a FABulous weekend!


That’s What Friends are For

These are my friends. Their names are Chris and Kelly. They are awesome. They are Glenn’s friends, too, but I like claiming them as mine.

I like claiming most things as mine, come to think of it.

You may recognize Chris and Kelly from our last trip to Nashville.

The four of us met up in Nashville this past weekend to celebrate Independence Day {I LOVE AMERICA!} and eat a lot of good food. We succeeded at all things celebration and food related, including a “welcome to Nashville” cocktail as soon as we arrived.

Here are so more highlights of our trip:

The Loveless Cafe. Best. Biscuits. Ever.

Bobbie’s Dairy Dip. The dipped cones were so great when we had them on Sunday that we had to break a few traffic laws to make sure we got there before closing on Monday.

We took naps then headed downtown and had BBQ at Jack’s {the best} then watched the fireworks on the river – super cool.

Another highlight of the weekend was Kelly’s alter-ego: an intimidating Russian woman named Veronica who was constantly threatening some sort of physical harm. We never knew when she would show up!

I’m so thankful for my freedom, for the opportunity to be driving-distance from friends who are normally very far away, and for air conditioning. Can you imagine living in the South at the turn of the century? Oh my!

Hope you all had an excellent Independence Day as well.


Seven Facts or Vacation and Why it’s Awesome

7. Celine Dion rocks my socks off. I don’t need to go into detail, but she’s still pretty awesome and not “washed up” like some people claim (ehm, ehm, Sandra). Definitely worth the money, definitely has a great voice. Also, I’ve recently decided she has aged very well and, seemingly, without having any “work” done. She has real wrinkles and it’s refreshing.

6. People still smoke cigarettes. Who are these people? Idiots, that’s who. I mean really. WHO is still smoking cigarettes? Unless you’re in Berlin, pretending to be Anthony Bourdain, or want to die a slow and painful death — why would you put those stinky cancer sticks into your mouth and willingly inhale??? I’m talking to you, Las Vegas.

5. The Bellagio Buffet (where 4 of the gals I was with are seated, above) is still the best. I’ve had the others. None compare. Except for when it comes to the dessert bar, in which case Paris takes the {literal} cake because they have a guy standing there making fresh nutella or jam crepes.

4. Talking about whether or not Rob Bell is a heretic, the impacts of generational sin, wounds we are all still processing, and what servant-hood and humility look like in marriage is socially acceptable. Even in the city of sin. So what if everyone around you is seeing double through their wayfarer’s and reeks of last night’s vodka tonic? Being true to yourself, no matter where you are, is always what is most attractive.

3. Don’t try to drive from Las Vegas to anywhere outside of Las Vegas on a Sunday at noon. Definitely don’t stop at In-N-Out first. You will be met with more hungover wayfarer’s and a lot of traffic. Your burger will be delicious, however.

2. California is the best place on the planet. I’ve visited and lived in a lot of places. There is nowhere my beat up Vans and I would rather reside than my home state of CA.

1. Living far away from home is hard. Even if it’s temporary. Even if it’s beneficial. It’s still not fun. How great, though, that we live in an age where travel is so simple and weekends to catch up with friends are a reality.

And an extra number, ’cause it’s Tuesday:

1.5. Husbands are the best. Especially nice ones. Like mine.

For another fun re-cap (and more pictures) of our trip check Erin’s blog HERE.

Have a great night, all! Much love and thanks for reading.


Some Facts for Tuesday

The Celine/Vegas girls: Jenn, Jess, Jamie, Erin, me.  iPhone photo, sorry for the blur. I somehow forgot to take ANY pictures on the trip. Must have had to do with #1 below.

1. I slept a total of 14 hours from Thursday to Sunday. I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. How do you  spring chickens do this?

2. Laying by the pool at Aria was my favorite day-time activity in Las Vegas.

3. An evening at the Wynn – dinner at Red 8, Tryst night club {where I lasted for about 10 minutes}, and playing the Wizard of Oz penny slot was my favorite night-time activity.

4. Cigarette smoke is absolutely horrifying.

5. Celine Dion was worth every penny.

Happy Tuesday, friends – I’ll be traveling for the next couple of days but will try to get some trip re-cap stuff up by the end of the week.


Crabby Crabby

I had the opportunity to spend a few days with my family in Maryland last week. They weren’t crabby, and neither was I (I don’t think) but we DID get to spend some time with a half dozen recently deceased Maryland crabs, who I’m pretty sure would have been crabby had they still been alive. Muahahahaha. This post is photographic evidence of man’s dominance over the food chain. Sorry veg-heads… I am a true carnivore. I like meat, and fish, and the creepy crawlies of the sea known to the general public as crab.

I am in no way a crab expert. As a matter of fact, most of my crab experience is in the “cake” or “lump meat” form – and with the exception of a few touristy times in San Francisco eating a (already cut apart) crab at Fisherman’s Wharf, I had never come close to taking apart a crab until my parents moved to Maryland. If you read my old blog you may remember this post, where I mentioned getting stabbed by a crab and the bleeding and cry-fest that followed. This year, I was determined to get this crab thing down and show those Marylanders who’s boss. After a quick how-to-crack-a-crab-open recap by our sever, here is what happened.

We start with a bucket full of crabs, dumped on your table, staring at you slightly eerily like this little guy.

Intimidated at first, I am still determined to get the best of this crab and fill my belly in the process.

Aaaand… success!

Anyone have any awesome crab (or other attack-as-you-eat food) stories?

And sorry for the blurriness of the pics. I decided to still keep them big, for dramatic flair.