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!


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 :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Airlie Gardens Wilmington

What is more Southern than a live oak with Spanish moss?

Swans swimming in a pond?

Or fountains and Italian sculptures in overgrown gardens?

I think I can check them all of the list after my visit to Airlie Gardens in Wilmington.

This is one of the major attractions in Wilmington. 
The volunteer who so graciously escorted me around on her golf cart told me this property used to be owned by a railroad investor, Pembroke Jones.
I was quite impressed because the grounds covers 10 acres and is quite extravagantly landscaped for private property.  

I'm sure sculptures like this have been added since it was sold to New Hanover county.

As you can see, there are pergolas, fountains, and lakes which were created when it was private property. 

There are lots of flowers, 
as there should be in a garden :)
Azaleas...Wilmington's claim to fame...
Azalea capital of the world!
(I have noticed NC likes to dub themselves the capital of the world or best in the world for many many things. I want to know how they actually know that.)

The butterfly house only had 2 butterflies in there. 
All that space for 2 little butterflies.
There were also 2 little lizards which could be quite telling.
I don't know what lizards eat but I hope it's not butterflies!

I going to bring your attention back to the Airlie Oak tree. 
I've never seen such tall oak trees before. 
Did I tell you the tree is over 400 years old?

Isn't that amazing?
What a perfect place for a wedding.
Maybe I should divorce my husband, so we can get re-married here.
He doesn't think I'm funny when I suggest that.
No matter how great the wedding location is.

Now, this is something I envision when I think of the South!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Halloween Hangover. A New Month. And A New Look

You've read it a million times by now,'s November?!? How did that happen? I'm not ready for the holiday season and it will be here before we know it! Let's remember the fun of Halloween for another day!

The boys loved their costumes so much. 
D really really wanted to incorporate Charlie into his costume. 
He recycled one of his sister's old costumes.
Hot Dog Seller.
I hope this is the last year someone brings the dog trick or treating.

As much as Charlie loves to be carried around and wear a costume...
his look says it all. 
Although, it was nice not having him home to bark at every single trick or treater.

I was watching a morning talk show discussing age limits on trick or treaters.
I get it! I'm so hesitant to send out my kids who are in the 12-18 age bracket that some people think is too old for trick or treating.
On one hand, I think they need to give it up.
On the other hand, I'm thankful my kids are enjoying a safe, responsible, and innocent activity with their friends. 
Stay that way as long as possible!

I'm so sad Halloween Snapchat filters are gone :(
Which reminds many Snapchat deers did you see on Halloween?
I think we had 2 or 3 come to the door.
And all of them were equally cute!

This one was not cute but still loved it!

Here is a little something I've been working on...
I just chopped off all my hair to jumpstart my new look.
Can't wait to make more changes!

I took a little day trip to Wilmington this week. 
I explored Airlie Gardens and immersed myself in some major Southern atmosphere. Centuries old live oak trees covered in hanging moss, swans swimming in a lake, and Italian sculptures in overgrown flower gardens.
I think that is pretty much the epitome of Southern landscaping!

I'll do a overloaded picture post on Monday :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

October Not-So-Spooky Reads

Do you know how hard it is to get your hands on some spooky books in October? I think everyone had the same thought for themed reading. I shouldn't be too disappointed since my plan was to only read light romantic comedy books. My mood changes and my plan was derailed after my first October book. My second read, a historical fiction novel, rerouted my reading plan mid month setting the tone for the rest of October. I read 4 books this month compared to the 6 books I read  in September. My reading goal for 2016 is 55 books. I have currently read 51 books.

I had a major slow down this month compared to September! My months started a little slow. I finished Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst which I had started in September. I was reading chapter by chapter as a Christian book study. I really enjoyed this book and I feel like there are so many takeaways for everyone. The main theme is rejection. We've all felt it; most likely, we are all continually affected. This book shines a light on where rejection may hold you back and how to overcome those feelings. I highly recommend this book. 

#2 The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I added this book to my reading list because a few bloggers I follow have raved about it. I'm not sure what I missed ?? but it was a dud for me. Goodreads, which I highly trust, rated The Hating Game 4.32 out of 5. I gave it a 3. The general synopsis is a struggling love story between two co-workers vying for the same promotion. The Hating Game is what I like to call smut. My definition of smut is...storyline exists for the sole purpose of having mundane conversations and many descriptive sexual encounters. If that is your thing, then by all means :)

#3 Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. This is my favorite new book in 2016 book (so far). I love when authors create a story which is unique and thoughtful and smart. Then, they package the smart story in a way to appeal to your heart and create great empathy. This is everything Salt To The Sea is. A young adult (YA) historical fiction novel set in Eastern Europe during World War II. The story evolves from 4 characters each fleeing their respective war torn country. The focus is on the impact WW2 had on the neighboring countries of Germany who were being invaded by Russia and Germany leading up to the true event of Wilhem Gustloff. Sepety's Salt To The Sea receives my highest recommendation for an all around great book. 

All I wanted to do after reading Salt To The Sea was read it again! How often do you find a book like that? For me, almost never!! I couldn't shake all the good feelings. I picked up a handful of books and nothing was keeping my attention. I was heading into one of my infamous reading slumps, which notoriously happens after I read an amazing book. All I really wanted was to re-read Sepetys' book again. So...I got another one of her books...

#4 Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Septys. My daughter's favorite book. This novel is another WW2 young adult historical fiction novel. The story is told from the perspective of a Lithuanian teen, Lina, being impacted by the conflict between Russia and Germany. Compared to Salt To the Sea, Between Shades of Gray is more intense, violent, and graphic. I recommend it because I think the subject matter is often overshadowed by the Nazi/Jews WW2 rather than the Russia/Eastern Europe WW2. Educate yo' self :) 

Can I just say I am so insanely obsessed with Ruta Septys right now? The way she writes, the things she writes about. I want to know everything! *sigh*

Moving forward, here is my To Be Read for November:

What are you planning to read this month? 
If you have any recommendations from October, please leave them in the comments! 
The Ship of Brides is a recommendation from September. 
I wouldn't have picked it up without your positive reviews! 
Oh yeah, if you are on GoodReads, look me up. 

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