Friday, December 2, 2016

Busy Days. Chapel Hill. And The 12th Month.

I'm so tired! Life is just whirling around happening and I can barely keep up! My constant struggle when I am working. I love it but I just can't find the perfect work and life balance. Always have and, it looks like, I always will! So is life!

We had the best time last weekend meeting up with my sister-in-law and nieces. They live here in North Carolina too. We drove up to UNC Chapel Hill and explored the Morehead Planetarium. The planetarium is small but the live shows were excellent. And the campus is insanely gorgeous! By far, the prettiest campus I have seen so far. Which let's be honest is few but still number one!


This is The Old Well on campus. If you Google images, UNC Chapel Hill, chances are this will pop up. We walked in a large circle around this site before getting directions right to it. We walked in front of it 2-3 times earlier. Something to laugh about :) The well has special powers to get students good luck and good grades. You must drink from it on the first day of school though! 


The campus is filled with old buildings and lots of trees. The campus is huge and well laid out. 
I have my fingers crossed one of my children go here so I can visit often. Not that they will want me too. So, I probably won't :( At least, I would have an excuse to go walk through the canopy of fall leaves in my sweater and boots with my Starbucks drink :)


I can't believe December is here! How did that happen? After Thanksgiving, life went into hyper speed. It always does! Our local mall is all decked out in Christmas decor. The boys and I went Black Friday window shopping, visited SantaLand, and grabbed a holiday latte.


My goal this year was to be done Christmas shopping by December 1st. I made a valiant effort but fell short. I have sooo much left to buy. *insert crying emoticon* This package is done and ready to be mailed. One down, twenty to go.



We got a tree! This is big because we are deployment status, which means the holidays are filled with mixed emotions. Without completely sounding like Scrooge, I just wish we could skip the whole holiday season. It makes me sad and miss him more. It's my ostrich moment, bury my head, and pretend it is not happening :( But, then you have kids who need consistency and for you to be the adult. So, we got a tree!


It's a fake tree. $25 from the Target store. I'm secretly loving it's pathetic simplicity. It's cute in a kitchy way.


Indulge me a minute with this tree, can you? I walked up to the house on Wednesday and noticed the color had changed on this tree overnight. It went from purple to this incredibly intense red. My kids noticed the same thing on the same day and were equally excited. We kind of like this season called Fall :)


A little snapshot of my night last night. Let's blame classrooms full of middle schoolers. They are quite something for your sanity :) 
Cheers to Friday and a weekend!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

All The Good Books of November

I love a good reading streak! And November was just that! My Read (past tense) pile at month's end looked a little different than what I had planned at the beginning of November. Library due dates get me every time! Most annoying library rule ever! If you want free books, whatcha gonna do?


I started November with the third book of Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban. My son really loves the HP series and I am trying to read them all. I admit Harry Potter is not really my style and I haven't reached fandom...yet. However, it is fun to have a mutual knowledge/experience with your child. Harry Potter is a fantasy story about students attending Wizardry school. Each book follows the respective school year Harry Potter attends. Book 3 was much better than Book 1 & 2. I hear each Harry Potter book gets better and better, so I'm staying the course! Plus, I'm hoping for a little reward called Harry Potter World after book 7!



#2 Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys- After I fell in love with Sepetys last month, I knew I needed to read all of her novels. I haven't been so obsessed with an author is years and years. Sepetys maintains the same standard across the board which is impressive. Out of the Easy is a young adult historical fiction set in 1950s New Orleans. The main character is navigating a tough life situation dealing with the crime world and her desire to move beyond her current situation. I like Sepetys' story telling. Out of the Easy was a little slow at times so it wasn't my favorite. However, as a Ruta Sepetys fan, I'm glad I read this book. I would recommend Salt To The Sea before Out Of The Easy if you want to check out Ruta Sepetys.


My third book of November, Killing The Rising Sun by Bill Reilly & Martin Dugard, was a very informative nonfiction book. I'm really glad I read this book. Most people have only positive things to say for Bill O'Reilly's "Killing" books. They are written in a way that makes history come alive and relevant in this culture. Killing The Rising Sun is about the World War 2 conflict between Japan and the United States. Uncovering the misconceptions and dives deeper into the issues, Killing the Rising Sun ends with the total surrender of Japan to Allied Forces. The book brings greater understanding for both sides. My husband and I buddy read this book in November. As a Marine, he could have powered through this book in days. I slowed us down quite a bit. This book is super intense (violent and detailed). Every few pages I had to stop and process what I had read. Despite those intense descriptions, Killing The Rising Sun was so so good. I recommend this one to every American!

November reading was all about quality over quantity. Now I get to start my annual Christmas book-a-thon in December. This is my month where I only read cheesy Christmas novels where the characters end up getting what they always wanted. And it snows :) I'm so excited!


Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. Click the link for book reviews and recommendations galore!

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Zoo in the Forest

I am learning slowly that North Carolina has its own way of doing things. Putting a zoo in a forest would be one of those things. I had no idea how this was going to work considering animals, such as elephants, rhinoceros, and flamingos, don't typical live in woodsy habitats. After our visit to the North Carolina Zoo, I'm going to trust it works! I was impressed with the zoo in the forest.


My kids loved it too! Any zoo or aquarium is sure to be a hit with them. The North Carolina Zoo is set up to be humane and accommodating to the animals. The scenery was nice and the animals were active.


It's always much more fun to observe animals when they are out and about.


The small zoo feel was a cinch to navigate. We left all the map stuff to the brains of the family.


Although, the distance is built into lots of hills. One can't help but need a little rest here and there 😅


The backdrop against fall foliage just might be the best part about the NC Zoo!


Or these crazy pink birds.


Or this big guy. It's hard to pick just one thing that made this small zoo rank pretty darn close to the big leagues aka San Diego!






Nicole

Friday, November 11, 2016

A New Job. Red Cups. And A Holiday Weekend.

I think the best part of this post title is I got a job! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be among people and working again. I'm back in the school setting on Monday. Can't wait.


A big Thank You!! to Starbucks for giving the people what they want :) Holiday red cups.My first drink of the season: Caramel Brûlée Latte. Did you indulge on debut day?


My To Read pile changed a little this week since libraries have due dates. #annoying 
Right now, I'm reading Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Next up, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


The kids had two days off from school this week. One on Election Day and second for Veteran's Day. I pulled the family card and took the kids exploring. Tuesday we found yummy decadent crepes and shopping. 



America elected a new president on Election Day.
(I did not see that coming.)


Thursday was the Marine Corps 241st birthday. We usually celebrate with a birthday ball when the Marine is stateside.  Deployment is the off years when we just look at old pictures.


That boy sure has a lot of bling, doesn't he? 

Today is Friday, which is Veteran's Day. Thank you to all who serve or have served to protect our freedoms! We sure miss our service member today :( Shout out to these 3 kiddos who make their own sacrifices to support their dad and our country. They handle it pretty well!


Wishing you a great weekend!





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Pumpkin Swap Goodies

Tis the season! The season of goodies and giving. The Great Pumpkin Swap hosted by Kristin and Rebecka embraces both of those things. I'm not a big swapper participant but I do love a good swap. Deployment is a great time for me to get involved because receiving mail is always a mood booster.

It's fun to participate as a giver too. I like to go out and find goodies to send to my partner. Another bonus to participating in swaps is the personal element. You get a chance to really get to know another blogger outside of their blog posts. I think every swap partner I've had is someone I still connect with through their blogs or social media. Blogging is a fun community to be a part of.

Today is the day all the swappers of the Pumpkin Swap link up to show what was received. That's always a fun day, right? I took a handful of pictures so I will let them do the talking :) My partner was  Kristin of Stuff, Things, Etc. We were able to interact through our blogs and occasional emails to further those blog conversations. It was very nice because we found we had some key things in common. It was a nice support :)