Today, I want to do something different; I would like to take a quick throwback Thursday story time trip down memory lane. I actually had this idea at 5:50AM when I was prepping a picture to post on Instagram. Writer me thought, “I CAN BLOG ABOUT THAT!” I’ve been doing this influencer thing for a minute, but I’ve been doing this blogger thing for a hotter minute. I know from experience that you guys really enjoy the way I tell stories about my life; so here’s a great one!

Let us journey back to a “happier time.”

I put that in parentheses because I can only assume that these were happier times because they were pre-COVID. I, on the other hand, was 7 months deep into my clinical year without having yet had a single vacation. This is December 2019 to be more specific! I remember it so vividly because my life was a literally a chaotic poop storm.

Throwback Thursday Story Time!

I had just started my Avian/Exotics rotation, during which I would be taking my veterinary licensing boards, the NAVLE. What sucks about the NAVLE? I’M SO VERY GLAD THAT YOU ASKED! EVERYTHING. Everything about this 360 question 8-9ish hour licensing qualification exam is absolute, flaming trash. It is supposed to be designed to test our clinical reasoning and preparedness to be Dogtors. But honestly, it’s just an anxiety-inducing, money-guzzling, time-wasting exam that makes you feel absolutely hopeless. You feel like you’ve wasted all your time, money, blood, sweat, and tears because the exam makes you feel like you’ve learned nothing.

I assure you; I am not being dramatic.

Whew, that must’ve struck a chord because I went off a little tangent there.. ANYWHO! It is no secret to anyone who pays a blink of attention to me that in addition to spending all the hours of my life at the veterinary hospital because 4th year veterinary students are basically unlimited laborers who pay to be drug to the ends of the earth. Sorry, another tangent. I spend my abundant (sarcasm) amounts of free time working with various companies as a social media influencer. People think that it’s such a glamorous, easy line of work; alas, it is most assuredly not for the faint of heart. But that’s a story for another day!

Now that you’re up to speed; it is December 2019.

 Per usual, I have been reaching out to a million companies. This includes submitting countless applications and engaging in endless email exchanges to secure the social media influencer bag. I received a breath-taking email; I had been hired to create content for a resort in Orlando, Florida! But of course, there’s always a contingency clause; I had to do so within the next several weeks. Yikes! I’m in my clinical year, so my time is not my own. When would I have time to do partake in such a momentous job? Wow, you guys ask some great questions! Well, it just so happens that after my Avian/Exotics rotation and NAVLE, up next in my schedule was a 2-week vacation!

At this point, the excitement juices are flowing! I have lots of planning and decision making to do in a very small amount of time! First and foremost, I had to decide if this was going to be a family trip, like every trip we’ve ever taken since the birth of our child, or make arrangements for my husband and myself to go alone. It sounds simple, but considering we live 3 hours away from our closest relatives, it would not be easy!

“MAN, wouldn’t it be nice to surprise Brad with this trip to make him feel loved and appreciated for all his sacrifice these past 4 tumultuous years of veterinary school and marriage and parenthood and everything else?”

The thoughts of the great Laria, AKA me.

I loved the idea, but again, it would not be easy to put into motion. On my car ride home from school, I starting calling everybody. I called my mom, his mom, his sisters, and my sister to brainstorm ideas and recruit them for assistance. Plus, everybody wants an audience with Squally Muffin; so really we just had to figure out how to grant them one! Mutually beneficial.

Us at a friend’s Rugby Game during my planning phase. 5 days before my boards and 11 days before our trip!

When I say, the stars were aligned for this surprise, it could not have worked out more perfectly!

I’ll spare you guys the details of the back and forth required to perfect this plan and give you the results! Don’t forget, I planned all of this in less than 3 weeks. UNPRECEDENTED! Here we gooooooo!

I knew that my husband had off days that he needed to use; so I had him take off Thursday, Friday, and Monday. He doesn’t work weekends unless he’s on call, which he was not. I waited until Tuesday, the DAY BEFORE we were to leave, to tell him that we were going on a trip. Never said whereabouts or for what reason, because with me, there’s always a reason.

He kept prodding for information, but I wouldn’t give him a single nugget! I eventually sent him a cropped screenshot of the weather forecast for our destination because he wouldn’t stop complaining about not being able to adequately pack without knowing our destination. I probably should’ve just typed it out because he then guessed Orlando after playing detective, but I just denied it.

While he was working Wednesday (the day of the start of our journey), I went and got my hair braided because he had mentioned that he thought it would be nice! Once again, it was supposed to be a surprise, but since I was going to an unfamiliar place, I sent him the address. When he found time, he stopped by and pretending to be a customer. He then later brought me lunch.

After he got off Wednesday night, I drove the 3 of us to his parents’ house in Nashville. He was sure we were getting on a plane that night, but we weren’t. Reason being that I couldn’t find tickets to leave that late in the evening.

We spent the night at our in-laws’ house and I woke him up SUPER early so we could go to the airport. Out of habit, he went to go get our daughter ready, but I insisted that he get himself together first. Once he was ready, he went to go wake her up because she strategically slept with his parents. I told him to kiss her goodbye because this is where we parted ways with her! HE. WAS. SHOOK! In his defense, we had never been on a trip without her since she was born and she’s 4. This would be her first time away from both mommy and daddy, which I really struggled with emotionally, but knowing how very vocal she is about her needs and opinions, I knew she would be ready to advocate for herself if left under someone else’s care.

A Shooketh Bradford when I told him that Muffin wasn’t going on the airplane with us.

A few minutes later, we left with our chauffeur, his dad, to get to the airport.

Once we arrived and checked in, I finally confirmed his suspicions about our destination.  I had to give him the stipulations that afforded us this opportunity, but as a regular assistant to my endeavors, he was just excited to be taking a trip alone with me. Did y’all know we didn’t even go on a honeymoon? We were saving our money to make a down payment on our first house, which we did 4 months later, so our priorities were certainly in order.

I know it’s a tangent, but I shared that fun fact to really paint the picture of why us taking this trip is so significant! Brad has been sacrificing for my educational gains since before we got married. He moved to Memphis several months after his graduation not knowing what our future would hold. Spoiler alert, it held a baby! We had Muffin and moved right back to Knoxville so I could get this degree that I will FINALLY be awarded on Saturday!

The point is, for the past 4 years, he barely got to spend quality time with me because parenting and vet school are both full time jobs. I’m sure you all can imagine the immense amount of guilt that I feel because of this, even now. But we always reminded each other that it was a temporary sacrifice for a lifetime of happiness and prosperity. He MORE than deserved an opportunity to be with JUST me.

At the same time, Muffin is awaiting the arrival of my sister from Memphis to take her to my parents’ house down there. That is where she would be spending the entirety of our trip until my husband’s sister who also lives in Memphis would pick her up and bring her back to Nashville on the day of our return! Please be reminded that we live in Knoxville, flights are cheaper out of Nashville. Plus leaving from Nashville, made it easier to make arrangements for our daughter!

December 18, 2019
Our first trip alone since 2015!

Can y’all believe it, my complicated plan WORKED!

There were so many moving pieces and I certainly could not have done it on my own. Thank you to our family and friends who helped me put this together! Would it have been easier to just take Muffin on the trip with us, ABSOLUTELY. But with her only being 4 and unlikely to remember this trip, I think I made the right choice by going with my husband so that we could make some memories as a couple!

We had such an AMAZING TRIP! The resort was absolutely beautiful, and we ate so much good food that we normally wouldn’t dare to order! We both got out of our comfort zones and tried new things. Most importantly, we spent time with each other! Yes, we worked, but we played really hard too!

It was so funny because Brad kept trying to get me to stop spending money and I’m like, “This is an EXPERIENCE baby! Let’s just enjoy ourselves as if money wasn’t an object.” And we absolutely did! We got couples massages, ate at fancy restaurants, watched a wedding from our room balcony, visited Sea World, and wasted several hours trying to be convinced to purchase a time share. I know that at some point, the vivid details of our trip will fade, but what I hope we remember is how wonderful we felt being able to enjoy each other while isolated from the rest of the world. THAT, my friends, is priceless.

You may remember this photo from Instagram.
Breakfast in Paradise!

As always, I love you guys so much! Check out my last blog post. If you’re new here, WELCOME! I hope you loved my throwback Thursday story time; please comment and subscribe if you did! Until next time!

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