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By 7:00 AM , , , , , , , ,
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5 Practical Tips for the Working Mom

By 5:36 PM , , , ,

As most of you know I have two little ones at home and am a consultant for a living thus meaning I spend much of my time during the week in hotels and on airplanes and thus away from my babies and sweet hubby. While I love what I do both at home and for a living there are certainly challenges to doing both roles well. While it continues to be an ongoing exercise of learning how to juggle all the roles I play in life well there are a few things I have learned over the past couple years that I want to share for other working moms or those considering working with a new baby or going back to work after taking some time off. While this post is geared toward working moms there are certainly aspects of it that can apply to all moms whether you stay at home or work outside the home and dads as well. 

1. I once heard a wise person recommend that you "outsource everything you can financially afford to which you aren't emotionally attached." Let me elaborate. For some cooking is something they are passionate about...let's say you love cooking (not me) or cooking is an activity you love doing with your kids, if so that would fall under the "emotionally attachment" category and I would say don't stop. For me personally there is nothing about cooking or cleaning that I enjoy. So for our family we have a house cleaner and often purchase already made meals. We have made the conscious decision during this phase of life with both working parents and two little ones at home that our time spent with our children is worth the financial investment of paying a house cleaner and spending more on already ready meals. For you this might be someone to do laundry for you or someone who cuts your grass. The point here is that you realize at the end of the day you are paying for your time so you can focus on what matters most to you at that point in life. 

2. Clearly define the top 5-7 most roles you play in your life and which order those roles fall...for me these roles include things such as spiritual being (relationship with God), wife, mother, consultant, daughter, friend, seeker of adventures, etc. . For you they may be roles you play in the community, athletics, etc. Defining these roles helps you clearly define your priorities and how best to juggle and manage your time which leads me to my next piece of advice.

3. Learn how to only say yes to your best yes. You need to learn how to become really good at saying "no" to things that don't fall under your top 5-7 roles and do so without feeling guilty. The most freeing part to me is to remind myself that by saying no to an opportunity what it is allowing me to say "yes" to which leads me to my next tip. 

4. Loose the word "balance" from your vocabulary and replace with intentionality. I honestly do not believe that balance is achievable or something we should strive for. If you think of your top 5-7 roles as a spinning wheel at any given point in life one of the roles will be on top, one will be in the middle, and one will be at the bottom. I believe as long as you are intentional on knowing which role you need to focus on for that moment, hour, day, or even week it is OK for another role to fall lower for a certain period of time. I will give you guys an example. Last week was an intense travel week for me and I went West to East Coast in a matter of hours. That week the role I play as consultant was highest on the spinning wheel and my role as a wife and mother fell lower on the wheel for those particular few days. However the week before that my family went to Disney as a family for the week and my role as a mother went to the top of the priority wheel and the role I play in my work world went to the bottom. Anytime my child is sick physically or emotionally my role as mother automatically comes to the top and replaces everything else. To me it comes down to very intentional moments. For me this can be taking my kids out on a breakfast date on the way to airport before I head out of town or spending a few extra moments just loving on my husband before I jump into all my to-dos. Never let anyone tell you that you can't do it all. You can. You just can't do it all at once. 

5. Last but not least spend time re-energizing yourself. I'll be honest this is the hardest one for me but whenever I have spent the time to do something for myself I have more to pour into others. For me this may be spending quite time alone with the Lord, going out to dinner with girl friends, getting in a workout, or reading a good book. Whatever that "thing" is for you take the time to do it. I know it's hard y'all. Mom guilt is real especially when you work and have to be away from your family a lot but I truly believe this is important to be the best you. 

At the end of the day give yourself grace. Whether you work inside or outside the home we all are trying to do what is best for our family. Let's be each other's biggest supporters and show love to all we interact with. YOU GOT THIS! 

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2018 Books So Far

By 7:44 PM , ,
I am way overdue for an update on what I have been reading lately. So far this year i have finished 9 books and am almost finished with my 10th. While I have read a few that I did not love I have also read some great ones. To me reading is one of those ways I love to escape life and have some great "me" Mommy relaxation time. Give me a good hammock and and great book and I a happy camper. So without further delay here is the reviews of what I have read so far this year.

1. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I gave this one 7/10 stars.  If you choose to read this story prepare yourself. This is a book that’s super hard to put down and leaves you emotionally gutted. This love story that takes places on 9/11 is incredibly heartbreaking but I loved how it gives you a raw look at what drives most of us—finding that one person who leaves a permanent mark on our soul and the desire to always keep them close.  The only thing else I will say is that the  ending is what made me rate it a 7. 

2. Baby Proof by Emily Griffin 6/10
I gave this book 6/10 stars. I really like a good Emily Griffin but I do have to say this was not my favorite of hers. This was a quick, easy read but also didn't turn out how I would have liked which left me emotionally unsatisfied. Still a great story and worth the read especially if you are a EG fan. 

3. The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams 
I am super bummed to say that this book came in at 2/10 stars as I did not like this book at all and do not recommend it. Which is disappointing as it was highly recommended by some bloggers I really like. I do have to say it has a great ending however I found it long and overall not very enjoyable or fun to read.  

4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
This book takes the cake as my favorite read of the year thus far. I gave it 9/10 stars. I have to warn you it is incredibly depressing however it is such a powerful story of a French woman and her resistance during Nazi Germany. It is inspiring and had me thinking so much in such a great way during the book. Fair warning...you will cry. Go buy this magical novel now and read it. And have your tissues ready. 

5. Faithful by Alice Hoffman 
I gave this story 1/10 stars as it was another disappointment for me. It is the story of girl whose best friend dies in a car accident right out of the gate and her struggles throughout the book to become a person again. I'll be honest I just felt it dragged on without much of a plot. Save your time on this book. 

6. The Island by Elin Hillerbrand 
I gave this sweet and easy beach read 5/10 stars. It is the story of two sisters who spend a few weeks on island without power together. This story has it all laughter, heartache, and several surprises. If you need an easy girly beach read I would say this is a worthy option. 

7. Sams Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson 
This story was one I really enjoyed coming in at 8/10 stars. This book definitely gave me more than I expected. The cover, so Nicholas Sparks-ish totally lured me in as I am a sucker for Sparks. I assumed the story would be a woman reading letters from some long lost love but this story was not about that at all. You see, Sam, is short for Samantha. Sam is Jennifer's grandmother. Jennifer, her widowed granddaughter is called to town because her grandmother is in the hospital in a coma. Jennifer goes to her grandmothers house and finds stacks of letters that her grandmother wrote to her telling her about her life. The first letter begins with a shocking revelation that motivates Jennifer to continue to read all the letters in hopes of learning her grandmothers secrets. I don't want to spoil it so I will leave it at that but I really enjoyed this story and certainly recommend this book.

8. The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth 
I gave this one 6/10 stars.  In the story Alice and her fifteen year old daughter, Zoe, are as close as they come to the point where they are a bit of loaners. Alice successfully runs her own business, her daughter Zoe is a high school student, who suffers from social anxiety disorder. The only person that Zoe can even talk to other than her mom is her friend Emily and even that has its moments. As soon as Zoe feels afraid, is given attention, is laughed at or smiled at, she does the only thing that makes her feel safe, she runs home to her mother. This, make Alice feel needed. It has always been the two of them against the world, so when Alice gets a devastating cancer diagnosis, she isn't afraid for herself, she fears for Zoe. And for Zoe, who can barely speak to anyone but Alice, her life will never be the same. She must be strong for her mother and find something within herself that's worth fighting for. It is a good story of how to find yourself outside of someone else. 

9. What She Knew by Golly Macmillan 
This was an awesome mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire story so I gave it 9/10 stars. It is the thrilling tell of a kid who is taken while out with his mom and the mystery unfolds of the child's future and the mother's restless journey of finding her son.  Truly awesome story and highly recommend if you are in the mood for a mystery. Although fair warning...you may never let your child out of your sight again

Happy reading! 

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We bought a house

By 3:23 PM , , , , , , , ,
Remember that time I posted about how we had spent a lot of time, energy, and money to work with an architect to draw plans for our dream home? Well God has certainly been teaching me the past two years that sometimes He has different plans for your life than what you plan. 

All that said we bought a house the beginning of September and while it is still our long time dream to one day active on our house plans and build our dream home on the land we own we decided to delay this plan a few years and instead bought a gorgeous home only 6 minutes away from the land we one day hope to build on...why you may ask? To be honest the idea behind building with everything else we currently have going on in life along with the financial cost and time frame of wanting to be done by the time our son starts school next year just felt unachievable. 

So we instead found a house that while not our dream home (it is much more craftsman and much less farmhouse style) we still love it and are so excited to be in it. We have so many projects we want to complete in this house to make it "our style" but currently are chipping away at unpacking boxes (and purging our stuff). 

We took a leap of faith and very much felt God was calling us to this home so we purchased the home prior to selling our old house and God came through in a powerful way that only He can. We ended up closing on our precious first family home only 18 days after closing on our new home. 

I am so excited to show you all the home and the projects as we tackle them one by one to make the home feel like home to us. In the meantime here are some photos of the exterior along with a photo of one of my favorite features of the house - a giant sliding barn door that hides the downstairs play area from the rest of the house when you want to have guests over. Total mom win.

And last but certainly not least is that we are now on golf cart paths so of course we bought this guy. We love it and take it everywhere. Grocery store, dinner, haircut, you name it. Now to get a big Georgia G to pace on the front.  

Thanks for reading and I look forward to updating you on upcoming projects soon along with our recent Disney trip.

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The fast, exhausting season

By 10:55 PM , , , , , , , , , , ,
Too Blessed to be stressed. If I had to pick one phrase to sum up our life lately that would be it. This would quickly be followed by, "time is flying." Somehow we have a 4 year old and a 6 month old. Why is it that life goes so much faster with the second child than it did with the first? I mean wasn't I just sharing with the world we were pregnant?

To bring you up to speed on life lately and hopefully extend some grace my way as to why the blog has taken a bit of a back road for a season I have been on the road a lot with what feels like my still new to me job that I have now been in for over a year as of June. We bought a new house and move in to it in just one week! Yes, more on that later. Our current house in which we have lived in for the past 6+ years and brought both of our babies home to is for sale. Oh and we bought a golf cart because where we are moving (only in the south ya'll) people ride golf carts to stores, restaurants, etc. and we are oh so excited to join the golf cart bubble. 

Our 6 month old suffers from severe reflux, is crazy social, and loves life. She truly could not be sweeter. Our 4 year old is turning into a boy and no longer a baby before our eyes (cue all the tears). He has started Pre-K and is rocking it writing words and drawing pictures. He loves building and wants to be just like his daddy, which let's be honest, would be a great thing.

My sweet, wonderful husband is pretty much winning at life and is not only killing it at his work life but is a rock star when it comes to holding down the fort at home while I travel for work which is NO easy feat. Especially with a baby that still wakes up several times a night. 

As for me...I'm just busy trying to juggle it all and not go totally crazy. The ball closest to the ground is the one I continually try to bounce higher while sometimes catching an unexpected ball or two with my knee on their way down. While if I am honest I feel like I am living in a perpetual state of exhaustion and my memory is awful due to the sheer volume of information and things to keep up with I have swimming through my head at any given point (hints why I try to write everything down). However, I realize just how blessed I am to have two wonderful kids, an amazing husband, a great job with a company and team I love, and great friends to walk beside me on this journey of life. We are trying to soak up the little joyful moments of life whether planned (like our upcoming Labor Day weekend at the lake) or unplanned like a late night game last night of Disney Scene-It with the family and just enjoy this truly fast, truly exhausting, but truly wonderful season of life. 

I am in this great season of learning the importance of intentality right now. Whether it be the couple of moments that I get to spend as I stop in at my daughter's daycare to feed my daughter and kiss on her before catching my next flight, or the photos I take of the stuffed animal I take of my son's on my trips, stolen ice cream dates with my kiddos, or being intentional on spending time with my husband or my friends I am learning that because time is so fast and so limited in this season I must be very, very intentional if I am to make my time count the best. 

I encourage you my friends to be just as intentional with your time. Remember each day is a gift. All in all I think this quote says it best. 

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5 Tips for Pumping While Traveling

By 9:32 PM , , , , , , ,
I have completed more flights than I can count on two hands (and two feet) in the past two and half months since I returned to work from maternity leave. I am in the air and on the road A LOT and am so blessed that I have not had to give up nursing and breast feeding my baby due to traveling. 

I had so much anxiety returning to work on how I would manage all the logistics of carrying breast milk, pumping in air, transporting milk, keeping milk cold, etc. while on the road every week but am happy to say I think I have it figured out. I did a ton of research and talked to a ton of other moms who are doing it to learn the tips and tricks of the trade & now feel that I owe it to any future Mommas wanting to do the same to share what I have learned. So without further ado here are my tips for flying and traveling as a breast feeding Mommy:

1. Purchase all the chargers. 
Seriously I recommend a battery charger, car charger, and normal outlet charger and always carry back up batteries. Unfortunately often times flights get delayed and it can become impossible to find an outlet. Your best back is to have a car charger and battery charger ready to go as backup. That way you are always prepared. 

2. Use the Magic Words "Medical Device" a lot with TSA.
Ok ladies...here is the thing about TSA...they will either be great and it will be no issue at all or they will be awful and pat you down and run your bag approximately 5 times after searching it in person. I have had both happen often. Here are my TSA tips...use the words "medical device" often, also, don't be afraid to say "breast milk" it's amazing how scary those words can be to some people (men especially) and how questions can stop when you mention those two simple words. If they do search your bag ask them to change gloves before doing so. 

3. Time is your friend.
I recommend arriving approximately 45 minutes earlier to the airport than you would arrive normally. That way if TSA gives you a hard time or you need to pump before departing you have time to do so. Also, don't forget time to get ice once you go through security from a restaurant.

4. Your coolers matter.
Let's talk logistics. For me the easiest thing to do is to check an empty cooler with ice packs (no ice is allowed on flights) on the way there. Once I get to my hotel I ask the hotel to refreeze my ice packs over night. On the way back I check all the milk I have pumped previously in my cooler with ice packs. I use a soft Artic cooler I bought off of Amazon and it works great. I have never had an issues with milk not staying cold when stocked with ice packs and milk. Remember you must have ice packs as the airlines won't allow ice. I also brink a small soft cooler that fits in my pump bag through security (empty) that way I store milk that I pump once I go through security and on longer flights, on the plane, in it during the flight. If you pump on the flight I recommend pumping in the airplane restroom and then asking the flight attendant for a cup of ice. If you pump at the airport you can go to any restaurant and ask for a bag of ice. Bring lots of Ziploc baggies with you and just hand the restaurant a bag and ask them to put some ice in it. I do this all the time and have never had anyone not say "sure," no questions asked.

5. But where do I pump?
Great question. Most airports have these great things called "Mothers Pods." I love them because they are spacious and have outlets. The bad news? Lots of people use these Pods to take naps. If you are one of these people PLEASE STOP. There is no way to reserve these and often times you may not have time to wait if it is not available before your flight leaves. If a Mother's room or pod is not available at your airport my second favorite location to pump is a Family Restroom. Often times they also have outlets although they will not have a seat and you may have to pump standing up over a sink. Lastly my third option is a restroom stall where you will need to use your battery charger. Not ideal but push comes to shove this is what I use as my last option. Also, if you have to pump on the plane it can be done. Take it from someone who had to fly to Seattle and had no other way. 
I hope you have found these tips helpful. I praise  you sweet Mama for loving your babies enough to make this sacrifice for them. I commend you and remember this too is only a season. If I can ever answer any questions please don't hesitate to reach out. Happy to pass on anything I have learned. 

Happy travels and happy pumping! 

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Clean Carpets = Happy Momma

By 9:26 PM , , ,
One thing no one warned me about when I became a mom was just how disgusting my carpets would quickly become. Between a 4 year old who decided to stamp up our house (and carpets) with blue ink while I was feeding the baby the other day to a baby who has reflux and often throws up her milk, kids can be worse than dogs on the dirt front. That's why when Sears Services contacted me to see if I would be interested in trying out their services I excitedly responded, "YES." 

Sears cleaned my carpets this week and I am so excited about the results. Not only do my carpets look awesome and stain and dirt free (AND ALSO BLUE STAMP FREE YAY) but my experience in working with Sears Carpet and Air Ducts was awesome! Juime was my technician and he went out of his way to make sure I had an awesome experience. From continually asking me if I had any questions to having me 'proof' the rooms to see if I was happy with the results he went above and beyond to make sure my experience was a great one! He even helped me move my couch back on the carpet when he was done cleaning. I had such a great experience with Sears Carpet and with Juime and am excited to showcase my results on my clean carpets below. 

Look at those amazingly clean carpets! Can I just comment on how even areas I didn't realize were dirty now look like brand new carpet. That is pretty nasty if you stop and think about it but makes me thankful that I took the time to work with Sears Carpet to get them cleaned. From now on I am holding tight to my 'no shoes inside in this household' rule. I mean just think about where your shoes go. Gross. 

I highly recommend this company and guarantee you that if you give them a shot you will be happy with the results.  For those in the Atlanta area reach out to get a quote for service by visiting:  www.searsclean.com/atlanta-ga.

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Date Night In

By 1:11 PM , , ,
You all know how much I enjoy our date night in monthly box subscription because I post about it every month or so but let me tell you...the reality of the stage of life we are in as parents of a 4 year old and 4 month old and both of us working jobs outside the home (plus me traveling for a living) makes it nearly impossible to get a date night out these days. We LOVE these boxes because it gives us a guaranteed night a month to connect with each other at home once the kids are in bed. It is an evening we both truly look forward to and it gives us something to do other than watch a movie and always gives us good conversation topics other than our precious children that we typically revert to talking about if left to our own devices. 

The boxes are always fun and have fun activities worked into the theme. This month's box theme was "Adventure Together." For this date we got to look up constellations, play "Speed" the card game, light some candles, and dream about our future adventures together. As always the date didn't disappoint. We had a blast. 

If you have not yet given these boxes a try I highly recommend them. If tired parents like ourselves can dedicate an hour or two a month to bettering our marriage and spending time just having fun together and enjoying being with each other I am certain you can too. I promise you it will be a good investment. 

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5 Ways to Enjoy a Beach Trip with an Infant

By 1:17 PM , , , , , , ,
We got back last week from a family vacation trip to the beach for the first time as a family of four. We had a great time, ate lots of yummy food, saw some incredible sea life, and did it all with a 3 (almost 4) year old and a 9 week old that turned 10 weeks while we were at the beach. So what are the tips and tricks to having a good time with an infant at the beach? 

1. Seek out shade! 
Shade becomes your best friend. I mean the sun is totally overrated anyway right? I highly recommend purchasing a good, easy to break down baby tent (some snap right up but then are almost impossible to break down) and invest in a good large umbrella or tent as well. We bought our tent from Sam's club and it is a large 10x10 tent that allows for lots of shade and also have an infant tent we used the entire week - I would link to it but it was from Target and they no longer sell our model. Highly encourage you to read reviews especially when it comes to break downs before purchasing your infant tent. Our infant tent is pictured below with our little girl enjoying "laying out." 

2. Bring lots of long sleeve, light-weight infant PJs
The cute infant bathing suits you purchased while you were pregnant...while adorable they are pretty much only good for pictures at this young of an age, still worth bringing for that quick photo like the one I snapped below. I quickly found that putting my baby in light weight PJs was much more practical for walks on the beach and time spent in the sun as it protected her precious skin from the sunlight (you can't apply sunscreen until 6 months of age). Add a good sunhat and your baby is protected from the sun's harmful rays. Also, bring short sleeve little outfits that if your baby gets hot during mid day you can change the baby into while under the shade. 

3. Bring a baby carrier that your baby enjoys riding in for walks on the beach
My baby loved being able to look out and watch the waves and boats in the ocean and when she wasn't looking around would sleep in the carrier while we went on walks on the beach. 

4. Visit the beach before it gets too hot or after the hottest part of summer has past
April, early to mid May, September and even October are awesome times to visit the beach - it's not as crowded and not as blood coiling hot. However, if you must visit during the hottest summer months try to venture out to the beach early in the morning (you'll be up anyway) or later in the evenings and avoid the peak sun times. 

 5. Bring a plastic baby bath
You can fill the baby bath with a little water and your baby can use that to play in under the shade and cool down. Always remember to never leave a baby alone in the water at any time. As your baby gets older and becomes a toddler we always bring a plastic pool to fill with water and allow our older son to play in. He loves it. 

BONUS: Try to come without an expectations
Some babies like the beach more than others - my son we took at 6 weeks old and he hated it. It was the middle of July, blazing hot, and he couldn't stand being hot and sandy all the time. While our daughter at 10 weeks loved the beach the first week of May. I think the time of year made a big difference and also the fact she was a month older but at the end of the day I think the biggest difference was my expectation of our trip. The first time I had all these visions of my baby in cute swimsuits on the beach with wonderful dinners late into the night at fun restaurants. This time I had not one but two children and literally came with no expectations other than we were there to have fun together for a week as a family. We woke up without a plan everyday (super hard for me who is a super planner) and we developed our plan as the day went on and we could see how our kids were doing. We did have a ton of fun and even got to go to dinner every night and have some delicious meals but where we ate and what time revolved around how the kids were doing that day. 

All in all we had a wonderful beach trip with the kiddos and hope these tricks help you have a great trip if you are taking an infant as well! 

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Our Date Night-In

By 12:14 PM , , , ,

With an 8 week old that suffers from reflux and colic every night and a 3 year old it has become almost impossible to get a date night out with my man. That is why we SO look forward to our monthly date night-in box. With this box we can put our 3 year old to bed, baby in her swing (the only way this reflux baby is happy lately), and spend a little time together just having fun and focusing on us without putting any thought into it what to do. The box comes with everything you need and lists everything to do so pretty much no prior effort is required...perfect for exhausted parents like ourselves! Also, we love that it gives us something to talk about other than spit up, dirty diapers, and milk since that seems to be the majority of our conversation with a newborn lately. 

You guys this month's date night-in box was my favorite yet! It was a "blind date" and consisted of games to play while blind folded, cotton candy, face masks, and a fun game in which you answered questions about each other while blind folded. We haven't laughed so hard together in a long time. It was SO much fun. 

Here are some photos from our date night. 

Seriously we died laughing in this activity in which one partner used duct tape to create an obstacle course and then guided their blind folded partner through the course using just words. Josh actually took a video of me completing the course he created but we are laughing so hard you can't understand us so I decided not to post. 

This was a game in which you had to draw your dream day at the beach while blind folded. You did it several different ways (guided by the box). I think I did pretty good (see my drawing below) clearly it is us and our kids, a beach umbrella, waves, and a sunny day. ;) 

Date night-in also always posts a full menu for your date including drink recipes, appetizer recipes, main course, and dessert. While we didn't get to make the menu this time around I look forward to making it one night soon as it looks absolutely delicious. 

We are already looking forward to our next date night-in box. I highly encourage you to click on the photo below and sign up to get your date box. No investment you make in your marriage is to costly. I can't wait to see what you think of your date and see your photos! 

See prior date night in on this link. 

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First Trip to the Mountains as a Family of 4

By 9:21 PM , , , , ,
It is hard to believe our sweet girl is already 7 weeks old! Last weekend (at 6 weeks) we finally made the trip to our family lake house in the north Georgia mountains and introduced our little girl to our "heaven on earth." Considering her brother was only 8 days old at his first visit to our beloved lake house we figured now that I have recovered enough from my c-section it was time we make the trip! 

We spent the weekend at the lake house, had some great barbecue, and did some awesome hiking to waterfalls.  Below are some photos of our weekend. I highly recommend the wonderful waterfalls Rabun County, Georgia has to offer. The falls below are off of Warwoman Rd. past downtown Clayton, Georgia. They are simply gorgeous.

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