Best things to do in Seattle


Well, its no secret that we finally made the move out to Seattle, WA in March. I have temporarily put my photography career on pause, while I try and catch my breath and grieve the loss of my brother. This time out here so far has been like an extended vacation and I have loved being a tourist in my own city. In the past month or so, I’ve had several people reach out and ask me for suggestions of things for them to do here in Seattle. Admittedly, I am NOT a Seattle pro. I’m still very new here, but I wanted to have a blog to direct people to for ideas of fun things to do. So, I’ll share with you guys what we love to do!

THE OBVIOUS- here’s a quick list of the most typical “Seattle” things to do.

  1. Pike Place Market- The classic “throwing the fish” market. The sign says “public market” but don’t call it that, we all call it Pike Place Market or the market. We actually live one block from it and so I do feel like I have a pretty good handle on it. I run down all the time to grab things I need for dinner. Head to 1st Ave and Pike St to walk right in by the fishing flying through the air. They’ll overnight your fish back home to you. DO IT. Buy their seasonings and their cocktail sauce, both are EXCEPTIONAL. The things everyone else raves about in the market: Beechers mac and cheese, Pike Place chowder, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Daily Dozen Donuts, and of course grab a bouquet of the amazing flowers. Beecher’s has good cheese curds, but the rest of the food is overrated to me. My personal picks- Seattle Bagel Bakery, La Panier French Bakery, Alibi Room (pizza) and  Los Agaves (cheap and delicious Mexican). Don’t forget the disgusting gum wall is right here too.

  2. Space Needle- Definitely something to see, but imo a waste of money to go up into it.  It would be $240 for our family of 5 to go up in it for a few minutes. That’s gonna be a no for me dawg. Theres a million places to get a picture with it in the background like the next spot!

  3. Kerry Park- This is an amazing overlook to get that whole skyline photo with the space needle…and if you’re lucky you might just get Mt. Rainier too! Parking can be a little tough but most people aren’t staying long and just grab a pic and leave.

  4. Gas Works Park-I actually haven’t been to this one yet and its because I don’t care to. Cal went and said it was overrated so we’ve skipped it so far. We have 485 parks in Seattle, so we’re staying busy with other ones!

  5. Woodland Park Zoo- The zoo is incredible! If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend it. The enclosures are beautiful and allow you to safely get VERY close. It’s a pretty big zoo (or well, it was for us) and ended up taking us about 7 hours to see everything. You can bring your own food and drinks if you want to save some money!

  6. Seattle Aquarium- We love it! Its just a few blocks from our apartment so we go often. In comparison to the others we’ve been to, its definitely smaller. But most of it are things that are right in the water that it sits on, Puget Sound. They often rehab animals that have been injured or sick and then release them back. The octopus we saw there today is actually going to be released back in the sound soon! I love that about this aquarium.

  7. Seattle Waterfront- This is where the aquarium and the great wheel are. It’s a sidewalk of businesses and restaurants along the water behind the market. It’s touristy, but also neat because its on the water. You can walk right to it from Pike Place market by taking the elevator (between the fish throwing and the bbq) down to the first floor, then cross the road and walk up 20 feet or so and get on the parking garage elevator down and follow the signs for the waterfront.

  8. Fremont Troll- Its a giant troll sculpture under a bridge in the Fremont neighborhood. It’s neat to see, but you can drive right by it and grab a quick pic. You might remember it from “10 Things I Hate About You.”

  9. Smith Tower- We actually haven’t done this and probably won’t…so I can’t give the best advice on it. Its just a few blocks from our apartment and we can have about the same view from our rooftop here, otherwise I’d try it! I love a good view and heard the drinks are good!  I’ve read its cheaper than going into the Space Needle though.

  10. Amazon Spheres- They are three huge glass dome conservatories that are part of the Amazon headquarters. These actually are pretty awesome. They’re also close to a great donut shop, Top Pot Donuts.

  11. Starbucks Roastery- yes, we have the original Starbs right down by Pike Place Market, but theres always a crazy long line (unless you go at 6am on a weekday) and its just another Starbucks. Go to the Starbucks Roastery in Capitol Hill instead. Its a very over the top, beautiful, huge, and upscale Starbucks. Its got a full cocktail bar, some killer merch, drinks you’ve never heard of and food you’ll never see at other Starbs. Also a great spot to get a good picture for the ‘gram.

OUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES- in no particular order. Since we’ve only found one babysitter so far, these are all kid friendly. We haven’t done much without the kids yet!

  1. Ferry to Bainbridge Island- you can hop on the ferry (with or without a car) downtown by the waterfront and ride over to Bainbridge Island, “the Nantucket of the PNW.” It’s cheap and the tickets are round trip. There’s a cafeteria on board if you get hungry, sit inside or outside, you can get amazing skyline photos, and you might even see a whale! The schedule changes (so check it!) but the ferry goes back and forth every hour or so. The actual ride itself is awesome! Its only about 30 minutes but it goes by too fast! You can walk off the boat and right to their downtown. That’s why we usually don’t bring the car. We usually head over mid morning, grab lunch downtown, and then head back to Seattle. My favorite spot to eat is Bruciato! They have some of the best pizza I’ve ever had: super thin crust, fresh cheese, and you cut it with scissors! The interior is also really pretty and they have garage doors that can open on a pretty day. I’m always about some good aesthetics. A lot of people go just to eat at Hitchcock … we haven’t tried it yet! Theres tons of cute shops, boutiques, and a toy store the kids lose their minds over all on the main drag.

  2. Chateau Ste Michelle- Washington state has its own wine country and a little place 20 minutes outside of Seattle called Woodinville has tons of tasting rooms for the wineries! I am absolutely NOT a wine drinker, so don’t come at me for wine advice haha! BUT, I do love me some bubbles. For me, Chateau Ste Michelle cannot be beat. The grounds are like a beautiful park- theres fountains with trout and ducks, a pond with geese, huge trees with tons of shade, wandering peacocks, and tons of lawn for the kids to play…. plus of course the chateau! We bring a soccer ball and go inside and grab a bottle of the Luxe sparkling wine and head outside with the kids. The squirrels will come right up to you and beg for food as you sit on a blanket. Honestly, this is one of my favorite places I’ve found in Seattle so far. If you love wine, there’s tons of other wineries to try right beside it too! We’ve also done Novelty Hill..its super modern and cool. Of course I picked it based on the vibe and not the wine. Then there’s a Knoxville native with a tasting room-Sparkman Cellars. If you get hungry after all the tastings, head to Hollywood Tavern and eat some fried pickles!

  3. Breweries-I will be the first to admit, we haven’t tried them all and because we usually have the kids with us so we’re limited! Fremont Brewing is awesome, but usually too crowded to get in on the weekends. Its on the water, has seating outside, and has a great sour beer thats pink! Lagunitas is a fun environment and even though the beer isn’t local, its good! Theres corn hole, bocce, and other games. They’ve got a fair amount of seating outside for sunny days. Chuck’s Hop Shop isn’t a brewery but a kid friendly bar. If you’re from Knoxville and reading, its very similar to Bearden Beer Market. Of course I’m partial to Bearden Beer Market though ;) Theres ten trillion beers to try, snacks and ice cream, and some outdoor seating.

  4. Beaches- yep, we’ve got them and they’re amazing. We’ve tried tons of them and these are our favorites. Golden Gardens- this is a big beach with a mostly sand shore. A lot of the beaches here have sand but also tons of rocks. This is the most like a  “normal beach.” It’s also got a little restaurant, volleyball courts, a playground, and bathrooms. It can get really crowded on the weekends, but it’s amazing during the week. Carkeek Park- you have to go way back in the park and then cross a pedestrian bridge going over the train tracks to get to this one. It’s a lot more rocky, BUT it makes for some amazing tide pool opportunities. Tide pooling is a really fun activity to do here during low tide season (May-July.) You can go out and see tons of creatures- anemones, sea cucumbers, sea stars, octopus, urchins, marine worms, jellyfish, moon snails, barnacles, crabs, and more! Always wet your fingers before gently touching any of these creatures. Alki- this is another great sandy beach, its in West Seattle. You can take the water taxi from the downtown waterfront over to West Seattle! Discovery Park- some sand, some rocks but an absolutely massive and stunning park! You cannot just pull up and park at the beach here though. You have to stop at their little visitors center and get a pass because theres limited parking or you can park and hike in! All of these beaches will also give you amazing photos of the Olympic Mountains, you’re welcome ;)

  5. Cascade Mountains- these are the mountains when you look to the East from Seattle. You can get to them in about 45 minutes from downtown. Theres tons of hikes and things to do. Our favorite hike so far was Franklin Falls. It’s a little over 2 miles round trip, runs beside the river, and ends at a waterfall. Be sure to walk down to the trailhead and get your little envelope to pay before you start. This may be a no brainer for some, but we had never paid to hike or go to the mountains before. Another really cool spot is Snoqualmie Falls. Its a massive waterfall that you can park just feet away from. Theres a few shops and a restaurant right there too. Last time I went here, we took backroads back to Woodinville to go to Chateau Ste Michelle, if you want a fun little day trip! The town of Snoqualmie is adorable too and has an amazing playground at Fisher Creek Park….its got a zipline people!

  6. The Gorge- if y’all don’t already know, this is one of the coolest outdoor music venues in the country. Its about 2.5 hours outside of Seattle and a TOTALLY different landscape. Check their schedule and see if you can grab a good show! We saw Moon Taxi with Dave Matthews here and it was one of the best experiences of my life! PS. everyone camps there and you can rent camping equipment in Seattle. Don’t fly with all that shit!

  7. Hot Tub Boats- ok sooooo we actually haven’t done this YET! But it’s on my list and I’m saving it for when the weather isn’t as pretty and we’re looking for something fun to do. I have no doubt it’ll be one of my favorite things. We wanted to do it last year when we came to visit but Nate never seemed up for it.

  8. Farmer’s Market- lots of the neighborhoods in Seattle have a farmer’s market and they’re usually on different days. Our personal favorite is the one in Ballard on Sundays from 10am-3pm. Theres literally everything from racelette, to fresh kombucha, to handmade caramels, to tamales, to fish, etc. The Ballard farmer’s market is also on two streets that are also lined with great shopping and restaurants, so you get even more!

  9. Olympic National Park- unfortunately this one is a little further of a haul from Seattle, so we’ve only done it once. It was about 5 hours round trip. We took the ferry to Bainbridge Island (with the car) and drove over to a spot called Dosewallips State Park. Yes, its a state park beside the National Park, BUT you’re at the foothills of the mountains and its beautiful. You will also drive through Olympic National Park to get here. There’s a campground here along the river and also a great place for the kids to roam free along Dabob Bay. You can apparently harvest oysters nearby, but we didn’t get the chance to try. We look forward to getting more time to spend over here, but we definitely need a long weekend to do it!

  10. Diabolo Lake- about 6 hours round trip from Seattle…. not a short drive, but it sure is scenic! It’s a turquoise lake in the middle of the Northern Cascades. We spent a Saturday doing it and LOVED it. Theres several cute towns along the way to stop and see. Theres a beach on the lake if you want to jump in and swim! It’s BY FAR one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever been to.

WHERE TO EAT- I’m going to separate this one by pricing. Sometimes you just wanna grab a good cheap meal and sometimes you wanna get dressed up and go somewhere nice.


  1. Los Agaves- this is a little taco stand in Pike Place market. They have a couple bar height tables, there’s rarely a line, you can usually grab a seat, and the food is AMAZING. I eat here about twice a week (bean burrito with chips and salsa!) 

    Jack’s Fish Spot- I can’t personally vouch for this one because I’m not a big fish eater. Cal loves it though! It’s right next to Los Agaves.

    Katsu Burger- all different kinds of Katsu on an amazing brioche bun. Get the fries with 12 spice fries and a side of miso honey mustard. 

    Bok A Bok Fried Chicken- Cal lives for fried chicken, so we’ve tried it all! This is one of his favorites. Plus, they’ve got tater tots.

     •Pagliacci- an amazing pizza spot where you can get pizza by the slice for CHEAP, like $3 each. This chain is all over Seattle, so there’s a good chance you’re near one no matter where you are. They’ve got a cool vibe inside. Don’t forget an order of breadsticks. Bonus points because they often have parking too.

    Sizzle Pie- another awesome pizza joint with a cool vibe. It’s in Capitol Hill. You can also get cheap pizza by the slice here. They’ve got vegan options. Plus, it happens to be across from my favorite ice cream shop (that’s vegan!) Frankie and Jo’s. 

    Hot as Pho- pronounced “fuh”…if you haven’t tried this amazing dish yet, you’ve gotta try some here. It’s a Vietnamese soup with broth, noodles, veggies, and optional meat. We have tons of great spots for it, but our favorite happens to be next door to our building. We typically get it to go and they package the ingredients up separately so they don’t get soggy.

    Cantina De San Patricio- a sit down mexican restaurant right by Pike Place Market. I love this spot because you can usually always walk in and get a seat. It’s dark and cozy inside, but perfect for rainy days. They’re prices are already affordable, but even better at happy hour. They also have QUESO! It’s not exactly like queso in the south, but I’ll take it! Order the steak tacos here!

    Sweetgrass- 100% organic. Really cool interior. Food like fresh juices, Buddha bowls, maca oats, golden lattes, and bulletproof coffee.  

    Verve Bowls- acaì bowls, pitaya bowls, smoothies, avocado toast, etc and also organic! Also a super cute interior. 

    Okinawa Teriyaki- fun fact... teriyaki is actually FROM Seattle. It became a cheap and healthier option for fast food at lunch. There’s teriyaki literally everywhere. This is a great spot. I usually get the tofu teriyaki. If you go at lunch, be prepared to wait in line. The line does go fast though! 

    Flatstick Pub- bar type food, lots of games, and indoor putt putt! Kids are allowed until 7. Great spot for a rainy day!

    Hattie’s Hat-quirky little divey diner in Ballard with a great and cheap brunch! There’s tons of good shops nearby if you want to walk around and shop after you eat!

    Hurry Curry of Tokyo- get the Japanese curry with fried chicken (karaage curry) and the Japanese “chili cheese” fries, which were like Japanese version of poutine, and you’ll be thanking me later. All white meat, unreal curry, and fair pricing!

    On the nicer side:

    Ben Paris- nestled in the bottom of the new and amazing The State Hotel, this place is a gem. To be honest, it’s my favorite place to eat. It’s across from our house, has the prettiest interior and amazing food and drinks. They take reservations and we usually make one to be safe, but you can usually get in.  They’ve got a great (and around $5) kids meals. They have some of the best mac and cheese ever (and this is my favorite food, so I’m QUITE the critic)... they make it using Beecher’s cheese curds. I haven’t had a bad meal here. I love their fried chicken, their drinks are amazing (get the hail, Columbia for a pretty and tasty one, or the lazy bluebird that come in a copper bird cup!), the hush puppies, poutine, wedge salad, burger, fries, brunch, etc.. you won’t walk away hungry or disappointed. They also have a great happy hour with drinks under $9 and some great deals on snacky type foods. 

    Tavolata- the best Italian I’ve ever had. I prefer the location in Capitol Hill. They’ve got a great patio for pretty days and the interior is super cool. Their pastas are INSANITY. It’s an Ethan Stowell restaurant. Ethan grew up in Seattle and is self-taught. He’s got around 15 restaurants here.  He was named one of Food & Wine's Best New Chefs in America in 2008 and has been nominated for more James Beard Awards than he can remember. Their regular priced menu is around $25 a person, but at happy hour (5-7 and again at 10-11) they’re half off! Happy hour menu isn’t the full menu but it’s got all you need.... which includes the pappardelle pasta made with ragu, chili, mint, and grana padano cheese. 

    Lola- this is a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant by THE Tom Douglas. He is known for winning the 1994 James Beard Award for Best Northwest Chef. I’m super picky and Greek food is not a favorite of mine, BUT the grandma dot’s greek spaghetti is INSANE good.

    Chinooks- its a bit touristy, but I love a good seafood restaurant on the water at a marina… that just does it for me. It’s usually easy to get in and they’ve got a good kid’s menu. It’s also got parking!

    Barrio- a few steps up from cheap Mexican food, but oh so good! It’s also right down the street from Canon (see below) if you want to grab a drink before! Also, they’ve got jackfruit tacos for my vegan/vegetarian friends! Love their salsas, beans, and rice!


Canon- 21 and up novelty bar (more like a lab!) with the coolest drinks. I’ve had drinks in a bathtub, a nintendo game, drinks with smoke, drinks with an “acid” tab, and so many other fun ones. This place is AWESOME! The location is tiny, so go early for a chance to get a spot in here.

Frankie and Jo’s- all vegan ice cream and its UNREAL…. i don’t mean unreal for vegan ice cream, i mean unreal for ANY ice cream. The interior is killer and makes for some good pics! Plus the waffle cones, ahhhhh so good.

Mighty-O Donuts- 100% organic and so so so dang good.

Top Pot Donuts- i can’t leave this one off. I personally like Mighty-O better, but these are next on my list! The location I linked is a great one and you can watch the monorail go by!

Barque Brontes- take the elevator in Pike Place Market down to the bottom floor get off (to your right is an amazing popcorn place called Cobb’s) and take a left down to Barque Brontes Bakery Cafe. They’ve got all kinds of great baked goods, but their best is the caramel macaroon! It’s better than any I’ve ever had, even in Paris!

Sweet Iron Waffles- little cheap $2 chocolate and white chocolate (with fruity pebbles) dipped waffles you can grab for the kids and get yourself a good one! Haha! They can be topped with everything from bacon and brie, to strawberries, to cookie butter! Adorable interior!

Trophy Cupcakes- we’ve got a bunch of cupcake spots here, but this is the best I’ve had! The location I tagged is also a shopping center of about every chain you could ever want!

The Cookie Counter- this is 100% vegan cookie and ice cream shop….and yes, you can get the cookie IN your ice cream or make an ice cream sandwich! We aren’t vegan, but I’m pretty anti-dairy and avoid it as much as possible. BUT you’d never know this place was vegan if I hadn’t just told you! I suggest one of everything because I haven’t had anything bad yet! LOOOOOVE this place. I hate to even share this little secret place. It’s also adorable inside with old school chairs, like literally chairs from when I was in elementary school. SO cute!

WHERE TO SHOP- alright, I’m going to break this down into different categories because I am usually looking for one of the types below…

1. Big stores downtown- if you want to hit up the flagship Nordstrom and also go to Macy’s, Zara, Old Navy, Gap, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Barney’s, Sephora, Saks Off 5th, Nordstrom Rack, All Saints, etc… then you want to go to the West Lake center on 4th and Pine. All those stores are walking distance from there!

2.Big stores in a shopping center- if you want stores like Lululemon, Free People, Restoration Hardware, Apple, H&M, Madewell, Anthropologie, Crate and Barrel, Land of Nod, etc in a walkable shopping center with plenty of parking then head on over to the University Village shopping center. It’s on the University of Washington campus.

3. Unique walkable boutiques- my favorite spot to walk some local boutiques is in the Ballard neighborhood. Go to the intersection of Ballard Ave. NW and 22nd Ave NW and walk around there! Tons of cute shops and they have an amazing Farmer’s Market on Sundays from 10am-3pm year round!

4. Mall- my personal favorite mall is in Bellevue, Bellevue Square. They’ve got a gazillion stores and you can try your Beecher’s Mac and cheese here instead of fighting tourists at Pike Place 

5. High End- if you want to hit a bunch of high end shops like Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, etc in one big swoop, then head to Bellevue at go to The Shops at the Bravern.

WHERE TO STAY- So, I’m definitely not the best for helping in this area. We had only stayed here once before we moved and stayed in a friend’s home who graciously allowed us to crash while they were out of town. BUT, we have a stunning hotel across the street from us, which just so happens to have my favorite restaurant in it. We’ve already had some friends stay there and got to check out their awesome room…

  1. State Hotel- one block from Pike Place Market! Just opened in April 2019 and its stunning! Handprinted wallpaper from Kate Blairstone, modern and sleek rooms, subway tile bathrooms, and Ben Paris restaurant in your lobby! The last time I checked, it was pretty moderately priced as well, around $250 a night.

GETTING AROUND- we’ve got more options than people realize! We have a great bus system, the monorail, the light rail, plus car share apps like car2go, limped, zipcar and reach now. The light rail goes to and from the airport at a low price, like $3ish. It’s a great way to save some money! It’s also an easy way to get to Seahawks or Mariner’s games! The monorail just goes back and forth from the Westlake Shopping Center downtown to the Space Needle. At the Space Needle is also the Museum of Pop Culture, the Pacific Science Center, and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. They call this area the Seattle Center. We also have electric bike shares through Jump by Uber and Lime. You just get the app and can scan and use them!

If you guys have any other questions, I’m ALWAYS happy to help! And if you come and do anything I suggested, tag me! I’d love to see! Hope to see you guys out here in Seattle! I will try and add to this if I find anything I’ve forgotten.

Peace and love,



my last day with nate

i have no idea if this blog is appropriate, but this is for me. this is my therapy. all my life i journaled at night and since having kids, thats totally gone out the window. but i need this. i need to type this out. i need to be able to look back on this and not forget any details. it was absolutely, without a doubt, the worst and most beautiful week of my life… or as nate used to say of his diagnosis “its the worst best thing thats happened to me.”

it all started on monday of last week, january 28, 2019. the day after cal had left to go back to seattle. i told him “this isn’t a good idea to leave” but he promised he’d be back when i needed him. every morning i take a LONG bath (that i don’t ever feel bad about) and i open the windows beside the tub. i watch the squirrels chase each other through the trees, i watch the birds come and go, i watch the woodpeckers peck, and on a great day i see my (guardian angel) hawk in the tree above me…sometimes he even sings to me. i usually read my devotional, meditate, pray, and just soak in God’s glory through those windows. its my favorite part of the day. the kids get iPad time and i usually get left the hell alone. ha! but on this morning, i heard loud footsteps crunching the leaves in our yard. these sounded different than the normal morning sounds. i jumped up and looked down to the ground to see a pack of coyotes in our yard.


it was amazing. i loved watching them and what a special treat. i’m very into native americans and how they find meaning in earthly signs. i immediately begin to google the meaning of coyotes. i found lots of info that was fascinating but read “they believed the coyote was said to bring natural shifts in balance, causing an end, and making way for new beginnings. essentially, the coyote is the “way-maker” of new direction as it went about its symbolic role of representing the cycle of life/death in nature.”

i don’t take stuff like this lightly and really hold on to God showing me things. next, i heard a SHIT TON of birds and about 20 blue jays flew into my trees. i’ve never seen a flock of blue jays, never EVER. first of all, blue jays were a joke with nate and me. he had someone ask him to paint a “blue bird” a while back and he painted a blue jay. we all laughed and told him that was a blue jay and not a blue bird. i said “nate, blue jays are like the biggest bird assholes. they take over the bird feeder, shove other birds out of their way, they’re loud, and honestly just annoying. plus, the mock hawks and hawks are MY ANIMAL.” my mom chimed in and agreed with everything i had said. nathan laughed at us and said “i don’t care, i like them.”

and right before i’m about to get out of the bath, my hawk came. he sat so majestically up in the tree and stared into my window. he sang a little for me and then left.


i had an appointment to be at, a shoot, and wanted to spend some more time with nate because i knew things were getting worse by the day. i had sweet friends volunteer to babysit (thank you katy, mackenzie, and lorraine!) so that i could get all that done. as i pulled out of the driveway, i saw my hawk was back and he was watching over our home.


i drove away with tears in my eyes and thought “is today going to be the day we lose him?” it wasn’t the first day i had thought that…trust me.. there’d been many… but that hawk brought me peace. i knew God was watching over us. i head to my appointment and as i’m about to leave i call my mom and say “hows nate? whats going on?” i called her about 15 times a day for updates. its so so so so hard to have three kids, with their dad across the country, and be a mile away from your dying brother and want every second with him but also can’t because you can’t have a babysitter 24/7. so i learned to be ok with calling mom for constant updates. this time when she answered she said “you’ve got to come quick, we’re watching the coolest thing on the monitor. nathan has an aura dancing around his head!! the nurse is giving him a bath but wherever she moves him, it goes!!!! we’ve tried adjusting all the blinds and everything but it doesn’t change anything.” and you guys, the sun was directly overhead because this was noonish, so it COULDNT be direct light. i had her send me a few videos and i could kind of see it but wanted to see with my own eyes.

i get there and grab the monitor and am    B L O W N    A W A Y. mom and debbie we’re right, there WAS an aura dancing.  i sat and watched while his hospice nurse, stephanie, checked his vitals.

it looked like an electrical storm of blueish white sparkles that moved and changed shape, but always following his head. it was ALIVE! i made my own video of the monitor and then decided to go in and see if i could see it with my own eyes in the room. i greeted nate, and for the first time EVER, was not greeted back. i filmed elizabeth sitting and holding his hand to see if my phone could pick up what we’d seen on the monitor but it couldn’t. and when i walked back out to check the monitor again, it seemed to be dying down. i walked back in the bedroom and sat beside him.  mom and elizabeth were going through his t-shirts and pulling out the ones they wanted to get rid of that weren’t special (even though they all felt special to me…i’ve got some enneagram 6 in me.) as they folded and sorted the 142918048 t-shirts nathan had packed for knoxville, i saw his entire body begin to convulse. i had seen nathan have several partial seizures but (thankfully!) had never witnessed a grand mal until this day. i yelled “he’s having a seizure!!” i laid my hand on his arm and liz ran for the liquid ativan. she put it in his gum line and he made a horrible face because he HATES the way it tastes. the last grand mal he had, he spit it in her face and even remembered doing it later.  i look at the clock (which he made us have EVERYWHERE!!!!) and begin to time the seizure. it started right at 4:15, which was when i was supposed to leave for my shoot, and lasted until 4:17. as his body slowly began to calm down he started to groan, it scared me and i thought he wanted something but couldn’t tell us. he wanted elizabeths hand. she grabbed his and he squeezed her hand three times. i told her it was probably “i love you” but she said it felt different that time, more rhythmic and involuntary. i had my camera in the car and said i wanted to get a REAL pic of them holding hands. mom wanted one too. i told nathan “i promise i’m not getting your face, don’t get mad at me. its just your hand.” he didn’t respond. then elizabeth offered him some water, which had to be thickened with thick-it so he wouldn’t aspirate. i felt like he had calmed down enough for me to leave and was glad he was finally having a drink. i told him i loved him and patted his feet and headed out the door to work just like he’d want me to do.

the shoot was strangely warm for january, but as the shoot went on a chilly breeze picked up and storm clouds began to roll in. i felt the symbolism creeping in. after i left the shoot, i immediately called mom for my update. she didn’t answer. i called 3 more times and no answer. i was starting to get panicky. i called my step-mom and she answered in a whisper and told me nathan had been puking up all the water we had given him when i left. this had also happened the day before and it really upset me…that his body would reject one of the most crucial parts of sustaining life. she told me she would have mom call me when she left.

mom planned on staying that night with one of her best friend’s who lived in the same neighborhood since there was a chance of snow. she wanted to be able to get to nate if she needed to and not be snowed in at home. i got home from my shoot and had nothing planned for dinner for the kids. my brain was fried and i thought “lets just go get zaxbys, those commercials for the caribbean jerk chicken looked really good.” i get fast food literally MAYBE 2 times a year. not because i have the best diet, but if i’m eating junk food thats not what i’m picking…give me all the pasta or chips. i load the kids up and we head to the zaxbys closest to home…they say “were out of caribbean jerk sauce!” i speed out of the drive thru PISSED. i told the kids we’d try another zaxbys because that sauce was THE ONLY reason i was willing to go to zaxbys. we drive 10 miles away to another one just to be told “we’re out of caribbean jerk sauce.” i was getting too tired to care anymore. i ordered the food and said “lets have a car picnic.” vance refused and said he’d ONLY eat home. while we were eating my mom called and said that she was finally leaving my dad and debbie’s house and heading to the Blount’s to stay the night. when we got home, i got vance’s food all ready for him and said “boys, i need to go relax and take a bath to calm down from today. when vance gets done, y’all come up and get in the bath.”

i had been in the bath maybe 10 minutes when my dad called and said things with Nathan were declining RAPIDLY. he said he didn’t really know what was going on but that it wasn’t good and they had called Stephanie (his hospice nurse) back over to the house. at this point, stephanie is off work. the hospice company would typically send whoever was on call but SWEET stephanie came over during her time off….she had never even gotten to eat her dinner. dad calls back again a few minutes later and says “if you want to say goodbye, i think you better come on.” i frantically called cal’s mom and she rushed over to babysit for me. i jumped out of the bath, threw on my favorite grateful dead tee and ellis came up and said “uh mom, you forgot to give us a bath.” i said “well buddy, i am actually going to go hang with uncle nate for a little bit.” he said “oh dats fine. i will take care of my brothers.” sweet el was ready to babysit everyone haha.  i told him “remy” was coming to babysit and he ran downstairs to tell vance and simms. simms said “sooooo this is our FOURTH babysitter today? okkkkk.” like some kind of annoyed teenager. cals mom arrived within minutes and i could feel myself starting to have a panic attack as i head out of the house.

even though the storm clouds had been rolling in at my shoot, it didn’t start raining at my dad’s until i pulled back in for my goodbye. i immediately thought of the rain as tears and remembered how Jesus wept for lazarus. i walked in and jumped up on the bed beside nathan’s bed. i will probably have trouble describing these moments because, honestly, they were the most traumatic of my life. his hands and face were blue. his breathing was HORRIFIC. his heart was beating as fast as if he was running a race. he was running a race, his last race. i could feel the heaviness of the room and it felt like it was crushing my chest. i thought “what do you do in a time like this? do you sit and watch him struggle to breath and gasp for air? how do you cover up the sounds of his lungs filling with fluid? do you mindlessly check instagram to try to distract yourself from the horribleness happening around you? what THE FUCK do you do?” debbie came in and said “would you like some champagne?” i said “why not!” she brought me a glass (or 3?) of chandon (which was a wonderful vineyard that we visited with nate and such a great memory) and i drank it like water. then debbie started offering everyone sandwiches.  we all laughed and said she was like the grandma in “bad santa” always making those sandwiches. i’m sure debbie was having the same thoughts as i was and she chose (like she often does) to serve. she made sandwiches for my mom, elizabeth, and stephanie. i was getting to the point of watching nathan all i could. up until this point, i had continued to lower the bar for what version of nathan i was ok with, as long as it meant he didn’t die. i could handle him losing his running ability, then his walking, his speech, his ability to eat real meals, and on and on and on. i didn’t want to let him go and would continue to be ok with his declining condition. i just wanted him here forever….until that night…january 28, 2019. when i saw nathan that night, it all changed for me. for the first time i thought “Lord take him.” stephanie informed us that nathan was in a coma, his blood oxygen was 50. she assured us that he couldn’t feel anything happening but that they would continue to give him pain meds every 30 min to keep him comfortable. it was getting close to be 11 pm and we sat down for the “how much time do we have?” talk with stephanie.

the problem was, stephanie didn’t know. he was the youngest glio patient she had ever had and MOST DEFINITELY the most physically fit patient. nathan’s fears (of having a super healthy body and a failing brain) were coming true and it was crushing all of us. debbie called my AMAZING step-sisters in laws, brittany and diana,  (is that a thing? they’re basically my sisters) who are both PAs to come take over so stephanie could go home. stephanie sat us down to talk while we waited on them to arrive. she said she didn’t know how much time he had…it could be minutes or hours or days. she just didn’t know. all we knew was that he WAS dying. i said “well, if you knew nathan as REAL nathan, he was ALWAYS in a hurry to get to the next thing. he didn’t have any patience and was already ready for the next thing.” everyone laughed and agreed with me. brittany and diana got there and stephanie went through everything with them. it had been 30 minutes and it was time to give him his next pain med dose. elizabeth put it in his gum line and began to massage his jaw, like she had been taught and done before, but he started to cough and choke and gurgle. at this point, i’m going into a panic that he’s about to die right there in front of me. brittany and diana jump in and re-adjust his airway and massage and get him calmed back down. elizabeth said “well y’all are in charge of that the rest of the night. i’m done!”

this was such an UNREAL gift that brittany and diana gave her. on nathans last night, she was able to step away as caregiver and just be a wife. it made my heart happy. everyone left the room and we were discussing leaving. snow had been forecast to be on the way and i didn’t want to be snowed in there. since everything was uncertain, mom and i decided we’d go back and rest. i walked into the room, where nate laid alone, and told him the last things i had to say and i kissed him on the forehead and walked out. i knew it would be the last time i saw him alive. i just knew. i looked at his clock (that was a little fast of course and it said 11:11)


when i started the car i saw it was still 11:11. i didn’t have any wishes left to make. but john 11:11….

“11 After he said these things, he added: “Lazarus our friend has fallen asleep, but I am traveling there to awaken him.”

Jesus was coming to take him home. For most of this whole journey, i’ve been pretty numb. the former over-emotional teenager has grown into an emotionless adult.  but on my drive home, i wept. i pulled out of the neighborhood where we had played as kids without a care in the world and thought “how will i go on?” it rained the whole drive home. i told cal’s mom to leave her phone on in case something happened in the night and i wanted to go back over and she graciously obliged. i got in bed and couldn’t decide if i wanted to keep my ringer on or off. i played out both situations in my head and before i could truly decide what was best for me i fell asleep. at 2:50 am something woke me up, i don’t know if it was Jesus, an angel, the Holy Spirit…i don’t know! but it was the kind of awake where adrenaline is pumping and you think “did someone break in?” i was WIDE awake and frantic. i grabbed my phone and thought “did i miss it? did he die and i missed it?” i had no calls and no texts. i sat the phone back down and it lit up the room. mom was calling. she told me he died and she was heading back over. i called cals mom and she said she'd be over in 5 minutes. i got dressed, went to the living room, and fell to my knees in prayer. i don’t even remember what i prayed, to be honest. i felt like i was living someone else’s life. mary got here and told me to take my time. i told her i wouldn’t stay long because i didn’t want her to get snowed in, but we laughed because it was still only raining.  i grabbed my bottle of “trauma life” oil and took deep breaths and headed out the door.

when i got back over to the house, i still didn’t know if i wanted to see nate. i was afraid….afraid my last memory of him would be a horrible one. how could anyone want to see their brother dead? but i put one foot in front of the other and walked in that bedroom. do you know what i saw?  IT WAS PEACE. my fears were laid to rest, i wasn’t watching nathan suffer anymore and i was finally watching him REST. it was one of the most healing experiences i have ever been a part of. God knew i needed that and i am forever thankful that he woke me up out of a deep sleep so that i wouldn’t miss it. we all covered ourselves in trauma life and laughed about how we needed to bathe in it. but in that moment, i didn’t feel trauma. i truly felt peace that surpasses understanding. i kissed him on the head one final time and left to go home.

i got home about 4:30am…or maybe it was 5… i really don’t know. i tried to fall asleep, but this time, really struggled to. i had probably been asleep 30 minutes when the boys said “mommy!!!! look outside! its snowing!!!!!”


i jumped up and looked outside and it took my breath away. it was absolutely beautiful outside. i jumped in the bath for my typical routine and glanced out to see nate’s favorite bird…..


only a God full of love could bring so much beauty during the worst week of my life. i have made it though this week only by God’s grace and all my family and friends supporting us. you guys have prayed for us, fed us, got us hotels, brought champagne, babysat, sent flowers, sent songs, planted trees in isreal with nathan’s name, and on and on and on. i am so incredibly humbled by your all’s love. thank you all for being steadfast during this 43 month journey. you are OUR people and i hope i can be at least half the friend back to each of you.

lastly, i’ve had tons of people wanting to see my song of songs that i compiled for nathan’s funeral in written form. i hope you guys will find these songs and think of nate as they play…

This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Let’s not forget these early days

Remember we begin the same

We lose our way in fear and pain

Oh joy begin (DMB)

Pictures and photographs 

Memories and windows 

Goodbyes and epitaphs 

Heartbeats and hellos (Vertical Horizon)

And don't we have photographs

Taken a long time back

Of the seasons we have known? (David Wilcox)

I always knew that you'd do great things 

I didn't ever want to slow you down 

I was there when you learned to use your wings 

And I saw you leave the ground (Blue Merle)

I've got friends here that love me 

I've got all this mercy beating in my blood 

And I've got friends here that love me 

And that's something good (Bebo Norman)

I don't want to sound preachy, make it feel all wrong

Just want to write some kind of lyrics, sing a feel-good song (String Cheese Incident)

Do you remember

When we were small

Do you remember

When we believed

There was gold in the river

And ghosts in the attic

Don't go up there alone

The enemy's coming

We will take cover

The odds are against us (DMB)

I remember when we used to sing, we danced outside in the pouring rain. (Not too late, moon taxi)

Ride my bike down that old dirt hill

First time without my trainin' wheels (DMB)

Here's the old man who used to be the child

So long ago, not so very long though

Look at the memory, think of all those years

Looking through the sparkle of the sunlight in the tears (David Wilcox)

As all the ravens fly away

They leave nothing

But the sun and endless blue day (Sean Watkins)

Oh, I've seen fire and I've seen rain. I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end.

I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I'd see you again. (James Taylor)

These times can take their toll sometimes and I know you feel the same way too (Drive By Truckers)

If we were vampires and death was a joke

We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke.  (Jason Isbell)

How 'bout you take a ride with me

We could kill some time, shoot the breeze (DMB)

I'm gonna take you to a special place

That nobody knows

Baby get ready, ooh

You and me going fishing in the dark (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

further down the river, further down the river (Incubus)

When we see fishes

When we go fishin

......Thoughts meander

Risin' all around us

Rise and fall and rise again

Oh, we stop and talk about it (Widespread Panic)

The mountains win again (Blues Traveler)

all i wanna do is be by your side

take a little ride (DMB)

And we're rolling down the windows for this ride

And there's not much time to take things slow (Widespread Panic)

Because the streets are alive with the sound of Boom, Bap

Can I hear it once again (Michael Franti)

turn up the woofers so I can feel the beat

vibrate my belly like a bomb in harmony (Michael Franti) 

Singing' don't worry 'bout a thing

'Cause every little thing gonna be alright (Bob Marley)

Screens popping out the dash

On pellissippi speeding fast (Mr Mack)

I glance in the cut and see my homie Nate (Nate Dog and Warren G)

You said good friends are hard to come by

I laughed and bought you a beer

It's too corny to cry (Indigo Girls)

Way up high

The little folks zooming by

Ask them why

Or if they know the way we're goin' (Bela Fleck)

At the waffle house

Under these cobalt skies

The drivers with bloodshot eyes, hallucinating

At the Waffle House (David Wilcox)

We were heathens in their eyes at the time, I guess I am just a Heathen still (Drive By Truckers)

You know where I want to go

Straight down the Mississippi River

To the Gulf of Mexico (The Band)

I dig my toes into the sand

The Ocean looks like a thousand diamonds (Incubus)

she was a girl, he was her boyfriend,

soon to be his wife, take him as her husband, 

a surprise on the way any day any day,

one healthy little giggling, dribbling baby boy (DMB)

Jack was really a jester

Who held his one good eye on the queen

And there sat the king beside her

He's pointing his sword up and down with every scene

And the wizard's in the corner

Catching peanuts between his teeth

And the dogs lying in the shadow in the archway

There's one good dog sleeping 

filled with good ol' dog dreams (Widespread Panic)

And when we walked into the day

Skies of blue had turned to grey (Widespread Panic)

The world is blowing up

The world is caving in (DMB)

we just try to ignore the elephant somehow (Jason Isbell)

So many roads, I tell you

New York to San Francisco

So many roads I know (Grateful Dead)

From california to new york island

From the redwood forest

To the gulf stream waters (DMB)

Could I have been lost somewhere in Paris (DMB)

And you are not the same

It hurts my eyes to see the change

I'm seeing through you

I'm seeing through you (Blue Merle)

confusion never stops

closing walls and ticking clocks (Coldplay)

Racing to the end, won't give up without a fight

I don't know how you do it, a never-ending light

I can't see it from your view, couldn't imagine if I tried

Staring down the dark, with your eyes open wide (Moon Taxi)

When you show me love

I don't need your words (John Mayer)

In this scene set in shadows

Like the night is here to stay

There is evil cast around us

But it's love that wrote the play...

For in this darkness love can show the way (David Wilcox)

Brother, lay your head down

Sister, don't you know?

Ain't no rest in worry

Troubles come, troubles go

I have seen the sparrow

I have watched it fly

Though she does not worry

Tell me why should I? (Pat Barrett)

When you're flyin' high, take my heart along

I'll be the harmony to every lonely song

That you learn to play (Nickel Creek)

But I know its time 

Yes I know its time 

It's time to go home (Michael Franti) 

All my days I prayed and prayed and now I see the finish line

Oh I'm gonna finish mine (Chance the Rapper)

Your broken body, it cannot weather

The years your youth still longs to spend

So go down graceful, sleep with the angels

And wake up whole again (Bebo Norman)

We need the light of love in here

Don't beat your head

Dry your eyes

Let the love in there

There's bad times

But that's OK

Just look for love in it

And don't burn the day away (DMB)

Until we meet again

Until it's like it was

Until then

Until the answers start raining down

Until the skies open up until the trumpet sounds

Until then (Citizen Cope)

Far away, but the message somehow carries

Beloved, it is time for you to rise. Time for you to RISE UP... (David Wilcox)

Tonight I rose up with the moon,

And looking down from high above

I saw a world carved and confused

Into valleys deep in need of love

And falling down all thick with grace,

Heaven's cloud of mystery

Was filling every empty space,

Down to the depth of human need

This love that heals, it's deeper still (Bebo Norman) 

I fix my eyes on the Author of my life

May I realize that Your glory far outweighs this simple life

Oh may I, may I open up my eyes

Lord open up my eyes (Shane Bernard)

Know it's a wonderful world, if you can put aside the sadness

And hang on to every ounce of beauty upon you

Better take the time to know it (Drive By Truckers)

You see you got magic

So just sit back relax

Enjoy it while you still have it

Don't look back on life man 

and only see tragic (John Butler Trio)

But it never did occur to me to leave 'til tonight

When I realized he'll never be alright (Jason Isbell)

when it seems that death has won

buried deep beneath the snow

where the summer leaves have gone

the seed of hope will grow (David Wilcox)

i live my life beyond each death

from the deeper well of trust.

to know that when theres nothing let

you will always have what you gave love. 

in this life the love you give

becomes the only lasting treasure.

so what you will lose will be what you win

a well that echoes down too deep to measure (David Wilcox)

Angels whisper so as not to wake you

There's nothing else in this whole world for you to do

But follow on to where your dream may take you

To see your footsteps from an eagle's point of view (David Wilcox)

Sometimes we have a hard time letting go, letting go. I love you, I love you one more time just so you know, just so you know (Moon Taxi)

the latest update...


I figured it would be a good time to let everyone know some updates with us. I’ve been pretty absent and will not apologize for that. I’ve been taking some much needed time with the fam and it’s been awesome. 

First and most importantly, let’s talk Nathan. As most everyone knows by now, Nathan’s last scan was not what we wanted to hear. They estimated 25% regrowth and the cancer had gone into new areas such as the brain stem. The brain stem is responsible for some of the most important functions like swallowing, breathing, and heart rate so we hated hearing this. Nathan has had some trouble swallowing so we can see that the scan is right. Treatment wise, Nathan has no options left (that he’s willing to do.) So many treatments show little positive outcomes and have horrible side effects. Originally his tumor was like someone placed a softball in his brain, but now its more like microscopic spaghetti going everywhere. He will continue some of his holistic treatments and ketogenic diet but at this point, we’re praying for a miracle. From the very beginning of his glioblastoma diagnosis he said the most important thing to him was quality of life > quantity of life. If you know Nate, you know why. He’s such an active person. 

Elizabeth, Jack, and Nathan all came up for fall break back in October. It was supposed to be a short trip, but after Nathan had a few falls Elizabeth (and the rest of us) felt like they needed to stay. They’ve been showered with meals, love, quality family/friend time, and prayers. Elizabeth amazing parents, Beth and Buddy, have been keeping Jack in Chattanooga. They bring him up often, but it was a little too much for Nathan to have a toddler running around all day everyday. I can’t imagine how torn Elizabeth must feel. 

Nathan’s right side continues to be verrrrrry weak, especially his arm. But sometimes his leg will give out too. One shitty thing about this cancer is his short term memory is just about gone. So he will forget that he fell trying to do something and try again. HORRIBLE cycle. You can give him a cane or a wheelchair or whatever but in his long term memory (that still works great) he’s an ultra marathon runner and he probably thinks “why the hell do I need these things?!” Usually he swats them away, occasionally he will use them. His speech is still very hard for him. On a rare occasion he’ll get out a sentence (usually about something he’s passionate about) and he surprises us all. For instance, the other day Mom was complaining about not being able to afford a house cleaner and suddenly after not talking for an hour, Nathan perks up and says “Quit getting your nails painted! If you would use the budget I gave you! You never listen to me!” We all cracked up. I live for these hilarious moments in the midst of the elephant in the room. Nathan was in financial planning for a while and this was an example of something he had some clear thoughts on. 

Most days you’ll never find Nathan complaining, except for the one day he said his headache was a 10 out of 10. But even then, he sat through dinner with us and made jokes. Two nights ago, Mom and I surprised him with some Ugg slippers because he has a hard time getting shoes on (with balance being hard + little function in his right arm.) Nathan, in his right mind, would NEVER let uggs in his closet of ultra marathon shoes. I told him it took his right side not working to get some Uggs on him. He loved them but then said “I don’t want you spending money on me right now.” I said “those were the cheap fur slippers Nate, be glad I didn’t get you the Gucci kangaroo fur!” He said “under NO circumstance would I wear those.” Haha! While many parts of Nathan have changed, some have not. 

Dad and Debbie recently set up a bedroom for them on the main level so that he can avoid stairs. They have been such amazing caregivers and I can’t brag on them enough. Nathan likes a steady flow of la croix, kind bars, smoothie king, and red wine (after 5!) and they’ve always got him stocked up. 

So a typical day.... they’ve got Nate pretty jacked up on steroids (and occasional adderall) right now and we are grateful! It’s really improved his days. For the most part, his walking is better. We know the steroids are masking what’s really going on, but we love better quality of life. He’s been able to paint some with his left hand. He says the adderall really helps him be able to paint. They usually take a trip to smoothie king in the morning and get Nathan’s favorite smoothie, then head to the post office to drop off Nathan’s Etsy sales (THANK YOU TO ALL OF THOSE STILL PURCHASING!!!!!!!), and then they grab lunch and head home. You can see his shop HERE, and he will be having an art drop soon! Keep an eye on our pages to see when you can expect it! 

After lunch, I try to swing a juice by for him. I’ve been juicing hardcore every since I watched the “Chris beat cancer” videos and if you have cancer or know anyone that does I HIGHLY recommend them. Long story short, he cured his cancer with diet and lifestyle changes. Nathan’s juice is usually all organic beets, carrots, celery, lemon, turmeric, black pepper, and copaiba vitality. Sometimes I also throw some Ningxia red and wheatgrass in! Since I have 3 kids and kids aren’t great around people with chronic headaches, I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time over there. I try and go when the kids are in school or while Cal watches them on the weekend. But juicing is something I CAN do for him. So I focus on that. Life is always better when you focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t. 

But, Cal won’t be here to keep them much longer. As most everyone has seen by now, we’re moving to Seattle! Cal accepted a surprising job offer from T-Mobile and will actually be moving the weekend after Thanksgiving. Between Nathan, my busiest time of the year, and the Holidays, I’ve decided to stay here with the kids through, at least, Christmas. I really couldn’t fathom packing and moving (and showings!) in the midst of all that. Cal will come back for Christmas, but life’s definitely about to get harder. 

I’m ready as I’ll ever be for this marathon though. I know that once I get to Seattle my photography business will be slim to none for a good while = vacattttttion. I’m looking at our move as a chance for adventure and to catch my breath. For so long I felt enormous pressure to provide for the family since I’m the only one that has a fluctuating salary. I’ve always been the only one that can earn more money by working harder and Cal has always had a set salary. I LOVE working, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people that doesn’t want to work. But I will happily welcome a break. Because of that, I plan to work when I come back in town! So don’t worry, I’ll be back 😘

Thank you to all of you who have checked on us, brought us meals, babysat the kids, cleaned our homes, prayed for us, and supported us. It means more than we can ever express.



ps. pic is from our trip to Seattle with Nathan and Elizabeth back in August.