Babysitting in the Desert

by Maggie Griffin

When offered a five day trip to sunny Palm Desert in the middle of October on the condition of babysitting the world's most adorable go!  

Last Wednesday Byron's mother, sister & brother-in-law & niece left for an annual mortgage/lender's conference.

...Last Wednesday, Byron and I jetted off with them to relax in the land of palm trees and sun! 

Though we were there to babysit during the conference, we were able to do so much more--it was terrific! On day 1, we played hookie upon landing and took off with my best friend Kaytlyn, who was SO SWEET to drive to pick us up and drive us out to the desert. Leaving my vegetarian ways behind, I embraced CALI and we darted to In-N-Out for a burger & shake! I cannot go on about how wonderful it was to spend time with this lady! Six months ago, she was holding up my wedding dress so I could pee, adjusting my train, and handing me Byron's ring. We haven't seen each other since! Golly, I love this girl. She dropped us off in the desert, stayed to play for the day, and trekked back to nanny the next morning. She is a keeper. 

The next two days, we resumed our babysitting roles. Babysitting is enjoyable. Babysitting in California is AMAZING.  

Thursday & Friday went like this: 

  • snuggle with Charlotte & take her on a walk to the resort lobby, home to a full-service Starbucks and live birds! Look HOW sweet! 
  • Lunch...either reserve spots for the conference crew or go out for a bit.
  • Charlotte naps; we relax (my favorite relaxation times were the ones by the pool!)
  • Hang out a bit on our own, pick up dinner for C, and chill while she sleeps!

How perfect!  

Favorite activities included: babysitting (duh!), shopping on El Paseo (the Rodeo Drive of Palm Desert), reading in bed & by the pool, and more shopping! The sweet pups below are from Cold Nose, Warm Heart! Byron and I dropped by this store to pick up goods from our new pup (blog on Bixby coming soon!). Byron was reading "Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know" and looked just like a puppy himself one evening. I was reading "The Obamas" & "Jesusland" by the pool. It wasn't awful. 

This was by far the best babysitting gig ever. Thank you Charlotte for being adorable. Thank you Lindsay & Ryan for trusting us with your little one and inviting us. Thank you BeeGee for all the fun! 

I love traveling the world with Byron...we have already had so many adventures this year, and I can't wait for years packed full of more! 

Travel Essentials

by Maggie Griffin

We are non-stop. We have been nomadic. And so it continues. Whether it be a week or a weekend, Byron and I have managed to not forget anything, to pack together on several occasions, and to pack it all back with souvenirs. Today, we'll show you some of our favorite luggage, share some packing tips, and tell you about how we keep sane on road trips and plane rides. 


Favorite luggage:


Byron and I both have Eddie Bauer duffel bags. For me, this bag has journeyed to Africa, three times over, once to France, and to both domestic coasts. It is probably time for a replacement, but she does me so good. Byron's bag is in a little bit better shape and is the one we opt for when joint-packing. For both plane rides and car trips, I pack a carry-on with electronic essentials and snacks and books and a small thing of toiletries and when flying, an extra outfit. My favorite carry-on bag is the gem below. My father-in-law always refers to it as "the bowling bag," but this vintage American Tourist carry-on is so much more. I found this beauty among the records section of a local antiques store. It was love at first sight. For his carry-on needs, Byron opts for his camera backpack. Classic choice. The 'personal item' I am toting around these days was purchased on our 2nd summer trip to Portland! I adore the Wood & Faulk leather/canvas bag. So great. 

I LOVE THIS BAG! You can snag one on etsy or ebay!

I LOVE THIS BAG! You can snag one on etsy or ebay!

Packing tips:

We are no experts. Before mission trips, I have seen countless demonstrations on how to roll, condense, and release the air to make packing super simple. I have completely disregarded this. Always. My main packing tip, which I have learned through experience, and still not totally conquered is DON'T OVERPACK. Yes, ladies, you want options. And yes, boys, the weather is always changing. So, pick some wardrobe basics that you already mix and match with tons of stuff and take those over the outfits that you can only wear by themselves. If you can't wear something twice, leave it behind! 

--Side Story: Before today I only looked at the "Home Decor" and "Food & Drinks" sections on Pinterest. I happened to look at the "Women's Fashion" section today, and sure enough I find the little treat on the side of this segment. I love it!--

As for packing...fold everything first, in stacks. Bottoms on bottom. Tops next. Pajamas on top. Swimwear and outwear go last, in the empty spaces on the side or on top. Toiletries in a bag in the middle. (I could go on and on about my two monogrammed toiletry bags.) Essential and perfect. Boys--dop kit. 

It's all about the carry-on. Seriously. Let's say mid-flight you get cold. You packed all your sweaters in your checked bag? Silly you! I say always bring a jacket/sweater/sweatshirt in the carry-on. What else do you bring? Anything you could possibly want to cure the ails of plane rides and people. Crying baby? Headphones. They aren't handing those puppies out like candy anymore. :( Bumpy flight? You're not going to want to read, bring something to do with your hands--a Rubik's cube or something awesome. Popping ears? Do not forget your gum! Hungry? Pack snacks! Be the person who asks a million questions beforehand, answer them yourself, and pack accordingly!


Road Trips:

Our most recent discovery--20 questions. It is literally all fun and games. Pick something. Ask 20 questions. Guess it or lose. (Don't get too tricky or your partner will get mad and not want to play, i.e. picking Arnold Palmer, the person and the drink, and answering for both. Womp womp.)

Reading to each other. Byron and I picked up Brian McGrory's "How Buddy the rooster taught me to be a family man" and have enjoyed reading it on our travels. However, if the A/C is blowing too hard, your throat will get dry very quickly, like one chapter quickly. Hydrate!

Food and drinks are a plus. Recently, I have been timing our road trips so that my pit stops align with a nearby Starbucks! Works like magic. 

On our last trip, I had a project to do that involved, cutting, assembling, and tying. It took 6ish hours and the trip flew by! I highly recommend having something like this. Knitting also works wonders for passing time.  

My trick for staying awake: boy bands. Byron doesn't love this, but catchy songs and sing-a-longs can keep me awake for hours and re-energize me. Personal favorites: T. Swift's "22" and One Direction. 

I sense many more travels in our future, and I hope that you are able to get in a car, plane, train, boat, or ferry,and see a new part of the world, too! With our tips and tricks, you are sure to do so without stress!


Much love & Happy travels!

-The Griffins


A birthday in BIG D (and a fourth of July update!)

by Maggie Griffin

Da Birfday Gurll

Da Birfday Gurll

Don't wish us Happy Birthday just yet!  Byron is a March baby, and I've got 2 months to go before the big 23. DO wish my sister Alix a very happy birthday. Alix is the bomb. She was with me when I was first super giddy about Byron and has loved him ever since. And Byron has loved her right back. 

We were unable to make it to her birthday dinner during the week, but we thought we would give her the greatest present of all...presence! 

But this all happened after  the fourth of July! 

This is our fourth of July update: Byron's friend Brad from College Station came up with his German Shepherd pup, George, also known as Eleanor's boyfriend. We went out to lunch together, then I left the boys alone to go to my friend Antonia's pool and soak up the gorgeous weather! I returned to the boys and we began a game of Scrabble, watched some Psych, went for dinner (though the boys snacked A LOT) and walked to the Waco Downtown fireworks spot! The fireworks malfunctioned, but it was still a lovely evening, and we LOVE when Brad comes to town! 

After the fourth we made our way up to Dallas to see our favorite birthday girl!  

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FRIDAY NIGHT: Eleanor had fun playing with her "cousin" Paxie. Paxie is a super small dog, which makes for hilarious playtime. Alix left us for a bit, but not before making us delicious guacamole and summer beer, the latter of which we did not get to enjoy due to a completely random explosion of her pitcher. After the summer beer tragedy, and upon her return, Alix told me a restaurant down the street had it--obvious deciding factor--and that ended our thirty minute "where should we go for dinner?" discussion.  Above: my summer beer, Byron's burger, Byron's ridiculous nervous habit of tearing things because Alix shouted across our table to an old college friend--what a weirdo! Friday night continued with night swimming and puppy cuddling. Right: Eleanor and Paxie (you can follow @eleanorthedog on instagram) spooning!


AMAZING Abe & George busts that now have a place in our home! 

AMAZING Abe & George busts that now have a place in our home! 

SATURDAY: We woke up and went to pick up my momma out in ole Wyyylie, Texas (not before Starbucks though!) And then we hit up the antique stores on Riverfront in Dallas. Reason #174 that I love Byron: he loves antiques. He loves them so much that he gets lost in the store. Literally. So hard to find him! Byron and I stumbled upon the busts above and fell in love. I am so excited to have them! My dad met up with us after an early morning fishing trip, and after poking around a few more places, we headed off to Off-Site Kitchen. Their slogan should be "Stupid good burgers even vegetarians eat!" Just look at them! Alix and I are both vegetarians who are really pescatarians who are really "well, if it's ethically raised..." vegetarians who are really just people who eat meat very rarely. Anywho, delicious. Alix and her roommate have only been going to Dallas restaurants that made the top 100 list in D magazine. Such a good idea. Off-site kitchen was obviously on the list. 

We then took my parents back to Alix's place so that they could watch Paxie and Eleanor play for a bit. We also watched Alix use her juicer (birthday gift from mom and dad) for the first time--very exciting!  

CONTINUATION of Saturday: Alix, Byron, and I goofed off and relaxed after my parents left. Then when the dreaded dinner destination discussion began again, I made an executive decision for Fireside Pies, a pizza joint I had yet to visit. (Y'all know I love pizza!) We had a great time! I just love being around these two! We then went across the street to a small deli/market to grab some ice cream and soon after that we retired for the evening.




The next morning, we departed, sad, but so pleasantly filled (tummies and hearts) after our great weekend. We love you, Alix! Happy Birthday! 

Here's to a great year for Alix, another great year of independence and American pride, and full tummies and hearts! 



home, anywhere, everywhere

by Maggie Griffin

 If you are a faithful reader, you know just how full and ridiculous our travel schedule has been. If you are just now joining us, take a look through our older posts. 

Married on the fourth of May,
an immediate mini-moon to Austin,
REST 3 days.
a weekend trip to Dallas for Mother's day,
REST 5 days.
a trip to Dallas to leave for the airport,
amtrak to Portland,
borrowed car to travel around PDX,
flight to Dallas,
drive to Waco.
REST 10 days.
Drive to Dallas,
fly to BOS, car to Hyannis, ferry to Nantucket, ...round trip
back to dallas,
and to Waco.

Now we are here in Waco and have been for 4 nights. We have yet another weekend road trip on the books.

We haven't felt at home in awhile.

There is this longing to have a space and comfort and a routine that 'home' often connotes.  After the great moving saga, we found a space together, but we continued to leave it. Our longest stretch of being at home together has been 10 days. We desire to figure out what it is to stay and rest and commune and entertain and be. In one place. After this next trip, perhaps our last of the summer, or maybe just our last departure from our current space called home, I hope to feel a sense of home with my other, at our current address.

But home, I realize, is a funny word. We have been using it all along in our travels to mean, "the place we are currently staying." But really what we mean is, we are going to the place we shall stay, temporarily or permanently, and feel like ourselves. Before marriage, home was the place where I would feel most like myself, so, it was two places--the house I grew up in, and whatever apartment or dorm room I was in. It wasn't necessarily where my belongings were, but where I was most myself. Sometimes, that was with my belongings, with the things that made me think and mature; sometimes, that was with people, roommates or siblings or parents, who knew my fears and passions and dreams. Now, home is wherever Byron is. We are most ourselves with each other, so our home is now each other.

is where the heart is
is whenever I'm with you

We are learning about making a home with one another, about becoming one family, one household, honest and vulnerable, loving and gracious, together in spirit. We are learning to see ourselves through the other, to see the world through and with our spouse. We are learning to cling to one another and be firmly held together by faith, the thing that truly makes us most ourselves. This version of home we are learning.

While we still desire to rest and remain in one place and create a place to call 'home,' we are also learning that wherever we are, if we are together, we will no doubt be at home.

Come Sail Away

by Maggie Griffin

Oh, Nantucket, what a gem you are. Byron and I had a wonderful, long weekend on the island with his side of the family. Activities included shopping, eating, and relaxing. Not too shabby. If marriage is just traveling all the time, we couldn't be happier with our decision. Also, if our Nantucket career dreams of sailor and interior designer, specializing in nautical themes work out, we will have ear to ear smiles for all time. 

Rather than our normal Q&A, we will share five short stories & five photos, instead! Hope you enjoy!

1. Worst Night of Our Marriage

When I wrote about Byron getting food poisoning the first two days of our honeymoon, you probably all thought that our nights from then on would be simply blissful. FALSE. Readers, here me out, there is nothing worse than food ails + chiggers; luckily, these were not combined, we shared the load. On the morning of our departure, Byron woke up itching and scratching. He continued to do so on the airplane, the car, the ferry, and all through the night. His hands turned blue from his deeply dyed jeans--I kid you not. Chigger pup, as I lovingly referred to him from then on, decided that those awful little creatures attacked during a pull-over pit-stop on our road trip from Waco to Dallas, because Eleanor had to explode. Anywho, B took a benadryl and fell into a state of being "benadryunk". We went to sleep. I woke up, tummy churning. I rolled over, told him, "Byron, I have food poisoning." He mumbled, "Go to Sleep." 

So, I continued to get up throughout the evening, Byron continued to mumble feigned support. The worst. Luckily, I was better the next morning, and Byron, well, he still has chiggers, but we got lots of anti-itch cream.  

2. A Seal Named Eleanor

After the worst evening, we awoke and headed out in our rented Jeep Wranglers to da beach, the cold, windy, misty beach, in search of seals. WE FOUND THEM. Seals are ca-yute. The first one we saw poked his little old head up, and looked like an earless Eleanor bobbing in the ocean. We immediately began to call this seal Eleanor, much to Charlotte's (our 2.5 year old niece) dismay. She questioned us, "Eleanor? Where?" We continued to spot out little Eleanors all around the beach. Byron fearlessly approached one for an adorable picture!

3. When in Nantucket...

Wear monogrammed beach hats. Because you can. Our sweet sister-in-law, Elyse, got all the girls these super fun hats for the trip. If the wind would have cooperated, I would have worn it every minute of the trip. Byron even enjoyed wearing it a few times, "just to carry it for me."

Go to the beach. Duh. We did have a lovely, warm, sunny beach day on the island! The day after the rain came, we packed up chairs and towels and our hats and walked a short 15 minutes to a delightful little spot. Byron and I immediately dipped our feet in and explored, finding a small collection of shiny shells. Soaking up the sun was perfection. 

Shop! Nantucket is full of fun touristy and not touristy shops to attract and lure in the island's visitors. B and I picked up some clothing, memorabilia, and a vintage locket I adore. We visited a few antique stores and had dream purchases: his, a wall hanging of different types of carved whale figures; mine, a few 18th century mugs and a small silhouette piece. The memories we brought back are better.  

4. Family Ties

I am truly a part of the family. I felt more comfortable as a Griffin, moving and traveling and eating with the clan. I have felt a sort of kinship since the beginning (literally the beginning, Byron's and my first date was a 7 hour car ride to meet them!), but it definitely was strengthened and solidified this weekend, as I now unite with them in a new way, for a lifetime of adventures.

I am so grateful to now have two loving, supportive families. Families I can joke with and share with and be myself with--it is an honor and a delight! B and I are insanely blessed.

5. Honeymoon stage  

On the last evening of the trip, at the last supper (I use that phrase anytime I can), we all shared our high's and low's of our wonderful weekend getaway. After each person shared how much they loved being with everyone, I felt a little bit selfish for sharing my high of traveling around with just Byron for a few hours. He shared the sentiment as I asked him to weigh in on this post. We are loving being together, being married, being explorers. It has been a treat to enjoy so much of the country over the past few weeks, and to do it hand in hand has been the best. I adore the man I share my life with. 

Nantucket was a blast. We hope to return for several more family vacations! 



The Griffins take on the Pacific NorthWest

by Maggie Griffin

Enjoy a few moments of our trip that I captured on my iPhone! Soon, you can see more of Byron's professional, edited favorites over at!