Friday, March 31, 2017

Beach Things. Hiking. And Happy Friday.

The Marine Corps has been throwing a wrench in our plans lately. Not a fun time when that happens.
Thankfully this week has been more normal, allowing us to relax a little together and enjoy life.

And because this week has been awesome....
we are going to bring this post all the way back to last Saturday.
When my husband didn't have to work and he wanted to get out of the house.

This phrase is music to my ears.
However, when my husband wants to do something, he prefers it to be free.
My go to is hiking. Always hiking :) 
Hiking is hard to find on the coastline here. It's all flat swampy land.

Seek and you shall find.
This is the Basin Trail at Fort Fisher in the Wilmington area. 
It was a nice mix of sand, marsh, and forest hiking. 
Lots of wildlife and things to see.

Opps, I almost forgot, we walked the Kure Beach pier first.
This rickety old pier is not for the faint of heart. 

We talked to the local fishermen and saw all their catch of the day.
Weird creatures out there in the ocean!

Don't get me wrong this picture is a little creepy.
 I wanted to post our Sunday fun day but hate posting other people's kids on the internet.
Blurred faces it is!
We took a carload of boys to the trampoline park for D's birthday.
I've never heard so much March Madness talk in my life. 
How do these kids know all this stuff?

This week I started and finished Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. 
I really liked it. I don't typically read young adult stuff but this was good.
 I posted all the books I read in March here.
If you like that sort of thing :) I read all good books this month!

On Tuesday, I took the day off to work on my to-do list.
One of my tasks was dropping off books at a Little Free Library.
Have you visited one yet?
I posted all our previous Little Free Library visits here.
This one was not in the post.

Wednesday was a work day.
Thursday I attended the MilSpouseFest 2017 for Camp Lejeune.
I found out about this event from Kara at Ramblings of A Marine Wife.
I took her word for it and pushed myself to attend. 
Oh yes, I have to make myself go to these things.
I'm glad I went. 
I want to encourage you all to check out the link and register for a spot.
I think you will love it.

It's always nice to get out, be entertained, and pampered.
To feel the love from others for what you are doing or sacrificing in this lifestyle.
Even the most seasoned spouse feel that burn out :)

I felt the love at MilSpouseFest 2017 💜

The event was very interactive and fun.
No preaching or Powerpoints.
It is more of an encouragement about the stuff that really matters and effects us versus  an education is what we already know.

I'm going to end with my favorite picture and moment from the week.
It was such a perfect day to walk along the beach.
Happy Friday :)

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

What I Read In March

These are all the books stacked around my house that I'm not reading. I cannot give you one good reason why not. In fact, the only reason I'm not reading these books is because I don't feel like it. That pretty much sums up my reading personality.

Without much direction, I decided to start my month with re-reading The Hunger Games. If there was ever a book that just did it for me, it was The Hunger Games. I was an avid reader as a child but abandoned leisure reading in those busy motherhood years. I didn't have time or interest in books. When I went back to school, I would read fluff books between semesters. Then came The Hunger Games series igniting my passion and interest for really good books. I haven't stopped since. If you haven't read the series, I highly recommend it. I remember back when The Hunger Games series was trending, parents were questioning the appropriateness for middle grade and young adult readers. Having read the books twice, I feel like there really isn't anything overtly graphic to shield your middle schooler from. Yes, I know the premise is kids killing each other. Suzanne Collins writes with a gentle touch around those matters...for the most part. Ultimately, it's your call and your call should be respected. However, if you are a parent of a voracious reader and can't manage to preview everything before they fly through it then let them read this one.

Catching Fire, from The Hunger Games series was my second book in March. Another re-read and The Hunger Games sequel. In my opinion, Catching Fire is best book of the series.  There is so much action packed into this book plus the story builds up to an eventual uprising against the current government. As a reader, you are always wanting to read one more page.

#3 The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena had a really strong start. I was captivated, stayed up too late, and read nearly half the book the first night. Lately, I've really gotten into the thriller/mystery genre and will continue to sprinkle them in to my monthly reading. I question my intelligence because I can never figure things out until the last 10 pages. While other reviewers use words like predictable and lame. What a treat for me though to be surprised! I'm rarely disappointed in a thriller/mystery. The Couple Next Door is a twisty novel about a couple who's baby is kidnapped and the ensuing investigation. At time it drags, then picks up, then repeats the cycle. The story seems to cover all the characters stories and experiences which makes it interesting. Overall, I thought it was a decent book. I would recommend it to anyone who dabbles in thriller/mystery books. I think experienced genre readers will think it's lame :)

#4 The Orphans Tale by Pam Jenoff . My sister-in-law recommended this book after she flew through it. It is a historical fiction novel set in World War 2 in Europe, because, hey, that sells books apparently :) The story revolves around two main female characters both running from a shady past. One is Dutch and one Jewish, both join the circus to hide from something. This book is so meaty and flows very well. I was on page 100 before I knew it. Stayed up too late (again) and I may have taken a day off work just to read. It does move very slowly, which seems intentional, as the story builds. I also felt is was on the darker side, as most World War 2 fiction novels are. So, my advice would be to pace yourself with less intense books before or after this one.

#5 Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. This is a young adult novel about a girl with an immune disorder which makes her allergic to the outside world. However, when a new neighbor moves in next door and provokes some strong feelings, things change rapidly in Maddy's protected world. It was a very quick and sweet read. It took a day to read. The formatting is not typical and I always enjoy that in a book. Many reviews feel the ending falls short, I don't necessarily agree. I thought everything worked together just fine for a YA novel. I think it's worth reading, if you are looking for something light and easy or have a love for YA contemporary. And Everything Everything will be a movie in theaters soon, so you might want to do the book/movie comparison bit.

I'm pretty much in love with everything I read this month. It was just an overall good reading month. Love when those happen.

If you would like more book recommendations check out this blog and this blog and this one too! So many good books out there to choose from.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring. Prom Dresses. and The Weekend.

Based on my walk yesterday, spring has arrived. How timely the official start of spring was the same day. :) The one true indicator... flowers are in bloom. 

Which strikes me as incredibly bizarre because a week ago everything was covered in a thick layer of white stuff. 

Snow is not the norm around here, which makes it incredibly exciting when it does happen.
It melted as soon as the snow stopped. 

And then it was Monday. A big day for me. I finally took my GRE test. This has been a major stressor in my life for several months. But it's over now. I treated myself to breakfast before test time at Blue Surf Cafe which is my favorite brunch place in Wilmington. You can see my test prep book in the background, cramming more vocab into my brain at this point.

When I got to my testing center, it was immediate lockdown. You can't have any of your stuff, can't leave the testing place, and can't take more than a minute between most of the 6 separate sections. There is a video monitor, double glass, and sign in/out verification. They don' mess around! 
I was in there for 4 hours taking the GRE. Time did fly by but 4 hours?!? 
That is done. I won't know my official scores for another week.

The rest of the week I subbed every day. All good experiences :) 
On Friday, I knew I wanted to see Beauty and The Beast. I hadn't heard great things about it but I wanted to judge for myself. I liked it. It was different than I expected but still ok. 
I was thinking it would be all dramatic and special effects, like some of the other Disney animated movies they have recreated. Beauty and the Beast has a lot more singing and quirky characters. 

After our Friday movie date, I asked Ky if she would like to go to the library book sale Saturday morning. We went and scored a ton of books. I have never been to a library book sale but oh my goodness. Book lovers paradise! 

And because she had soo much fun with me, she decided to hang with me on Sunday too!
Actually, we didn't get to go to Raleigh last weekend because of husband's work and snow.
This was our (last) prom dress shopping day.
When we walked in and saw all the dresses, I knew we were in the right place.

Her prom dress criteria has made this hunt very challenging.
She knew she wanted cut outs which a popular style this year.
And preferably a front slit.
Not too sparkly or too plain.
She was also hoping for red or navy.
So, pretty much narrowed our options to the bare minimum.
I don't know about you, but I've noticed prom dresses are a bit sparkly.
It's a thing.

I had been rooting for this black dress we found in Wilmington.
But she wasn't in love with it.
And it's her choice :) 

When Ky tried on the green dress, I felt like we found the one.
 She liked it more than the black and her friends liked it more.
Friend approval is super important.

And now, we can cross prom dress off the check list! 
I'm hoping everything else can be handled online. Amazon sells shoes, right?


Friday, March 10, 2017

New Groove. Spring Fever. And Prom Shopping.

Life is good. Are you feeling it too? We are finally hitting a new groove after all our post deployment adjustments. I think Florida was key in creating this vibe. I always love a vacation to a new place. Disney was not new but everything else was. I can ride the high for a long time. And it needs to be a long time because our next adventure isn't for a couple months.

I said it in the "Our Week of Florida-ing" post but reading in a hammock is my favorite thing. Tied with chocolate and wine. Preferably by the ocean as well :) I don't necessarily need company...haha
But truly, I'm pretty much obsessing over all the Florida memories this week.

New hair always turns things around. And SnapChat filters with false eyelashes. Lipstick is a bonus :)

After vacation, we all jumped back to our regular routines. I took one day off to get the house in order and then back to subbing. Things have definitely settled down with subbing now that I have a few schools I work with consistently. I'm getting to know the kids and school atmosphere. Those two things make work life flow a lot smoother! Lesson learned.

Speaking of school, the campuses are so different here. More trees for sure. 
Right now, everything is blooming. Spring is here!

Warmer weather means making tough decisions regarding reading and walking the dog. 
Charlie always votes for the book. He does. He says don't worry about it. Someone can do it later 😜

The last thing filling up our week has been prom dress shopping. 
We didn't think she would be able to go due to a family wedding around the same time.
This week we learned prom would be after the wedding.

Now we are in panic mode trying to find a dress.
She hasn't found "the one" yet.
I think we will be visiting Raleigh this weekend.
If we can't find one there, then we are out of luck!
That's the biggest place we've got.
The black dress is my favorite so far. 

Our life is screaming spring right now with all the stuff going on. 
We just need the weather to catch up! 
This photo brings we back to the things I love about coastal Carolina in spring and summer.
Blue skies, white puffy clouds, warmer weather, and warmer water.
Please hurry!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Our Week Of Florida-ing

If the term Florida-ing was a thing, I'm pretty sure we did it last week! Some how, some way we managed to see the whole state in 7 days. By car, while sick, so yes, that makes us champs!

What started as a post-deployment Disney vacation turned into a North-East-Middle-South-West adventure in true Semper Fi Family style. Did I mention with everyone dealing with illness at some point during this adventure? This is the story of our lives. We cannot go anywhere without at least one person getting sick. You should see the medicine bag I travel with.

We came into Florida on the northeast side through good ole Jacksonville, Florida. Navy town through and through. We were wowed by the big bridges over the waterways and ports along the waterways. Always love seeing America and how things work.

If you know your way to Disney from the east coast, then you know you travel the beach towns a little longer before cutting into the middle of the state. Orlando is the middle and it is a busy metro area. Home to Disney World and lots of other theme park-ish outlets. Traffic was oh-so reminiscent of California. And Florida drivers are mean! (I got the bird more than a couple times!)

We spent 4 days doing the Disney thing. DisneyWorld is so much bigger than Disneyland. (Remember that is what we are used to.) We were overwhelmed in a good way. Not that it mattered much because 2 days in the kids started going down...with the cold virus/influenza going around. By Day 4, I was the last man standing and I took advantage of extra magic hours at Magic Kingdom in the pouring rain by myself. Yes, I'm lame.

Zac really wanted to see Harry Potter World at Universal. I made a deal with the kids a few months ago, the reward for reading all the HP books was a trip to Universal. Ky tried with all her might but only got to book 5. Derrick could care less, he has the movies. Zac has read the series enough for all of us, three times over. He loves the books, movies, and now Harry Potter World! It was so awesome to see him (through pictures) enjoy the park with dad.

Next stop, the Florida Keys. My husband and I were super excited to get down to the Keys because it was something new. My husband was ready to move down there pronto. Water, fishing, sunshine. I think it's a nice place to visit :) A really nice place to visit. I would love to go there when it warms up a bit. I think we will be back.

It was lovely. More than lovely. We were actually down there to help my grandmother move from one vacation spot to another. We are so happy to be able to spend time with family outside of Iowa. It gives us a little more quality time when that happens. After a couple days in Marathon, we drove up to Tampa area on the west side of the state.

We weren't expecting the Gulf of Mexico to be warmer and more beach friendly but it's true. The Florida Keys aren't really built for beaching, more boating/fishing/drinking/Iguana dodging/hammocking. Yes, I'm going to continue make up new words for this entire post :)

And may I say, I love hammock-ing! It's my favorite. Take me back!

Opps, I almost forget about the overabundance of dirt cheap Cuban coffee 
in the Keys!
How could I forget the best?!?
Reunited and it feels so so soo good!
North Carolina needs to get on the Cuban coffee and Pho trend ASAP!

Last stop, Tampa/ St.Petes Beach on the west side of the state. This was a little too fast paced for us. We were reminded us of places like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee with all the touristy attractions. But, the beach, now that is a different story! The beach was wonderful.

We walked a good length watching the sun slowly fall into the water. 
The sunset was wonderful. It was such a nice trip. 
I'm sure we will be repeating this one again...and again.
The East Coast does have its perks!