Friday, June 30, 2017

The Flippin Weekend

For the record, I have nothing against Monday through Friday. I'm on a school year work schedule so every summer day is the weekend ;) I'm always reaching for those clever blog post titles though.

We went to Camp Lejeune yesterday so the boys could have a pool day. D has been begging since school let out to swim. He could live in the water. I blame that Pisces sign :) I caught some great action shots off the diving board. The Flippin Weekend seemed a fitting blog title with all their stunts. I earned some major mom points for thinking to take those pictures :) Boys are awesome!

Of course, I sat pool side with my book. Finally getting to the raved about book, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I'm 40 pages in and, so far, I'm liking it. I'm not quite sure why I put it off so long. I think I hesitate with historical fiction for some reason. Don't get me wrong, I like every historical fiction book I read. Maybe I feel it's a big investment to digest all the information or it might be boring. I can't quite put my finger on it. But, I trust all the readers who commented that this was a very good book. I will let you know my opinion in a week :)

Hope you all have a Happy 4th! I'm a little confused on when this holiday starts. Do we start now or wait until Tuesday to celebrate?? Based on our island traffic, I think people are starting this weekend. Be safe and make good choices!

Follow Along:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June's Beach Reads

June's Beach Reads is the most fitting title for this post. Literally, I read every book this month at the beach. It's that time of year. Beach weather, plus, it's super convenient to just whip on over to the island for an hour or two. Anytime of the day is beach weather here so whenever we get a whim, we go. Book in tow!

Last month, I was a little embarrassed to devote an entire post to what I read in May. Only three books for the month. (One a very short middle grade that took me about 2 hours to read.) I probably should have just tagged those books on to the end of some weekly wrap up post :)  But, it's my chance to talk books, so I want a whole post! :) I really did love The Arrangment by Sarah Dunn. I think it is one of my top books of 2017. All your forever married readers will appreciate what the author was trying to say with her story. You might even apply those takeaways to your own relationships. When a book does that, I love it even more! I haven't read many books that really blew me away this year. Good books just not much with the "wow" factor.

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman is a good book. No 'wow' factor :) MGAMTTYSS uses some fantastical elements to tell a little girl's story of grief. She delivers several letters to unsuspecting people from her grandmother. Each character is both represented in fairytale and real life. It can get confusing at times. The overall story is still a good one! I am convinced Backman is an excellent writer and anything he writes will be good. I loved A Man Called Ove. And I think I will be picking up some more of his books in the near future.

Have A New Teenager By Friday by Dr. Kevin Lehman was another May start and June finish. This is a non-fiction parenting book.  I have to thank my first born for always making parenting books required reading! LOL. My take away from this books is give your teen consequences, responsibility, and don't save their ass when they get in a bind. Pretty much we are doing it all wrong over here! Partially kidding but I did learn a thing or two :)

Shall we move on to June books now?

Can I have a little cheer for sticking to my reading list this month?? I never do that! But... I have these books from the spring library sale and I really need to read them. I also had two library checkouts that needed to be returned. 

The Dry by Jane Harper was a highly anticipated mystery/suspense read for June. The basis of the story is two unsolved murders in a small town with the detective having a personal connection to the victims. The story resolves both murder mysteries. I had been reading and hearing all good things about The Dry. Modern Mrs. Darcy was dropping words like "favorite" and "top of 2017". Other reviewers were "blown away" and in "awe", so I thought I should get right on that! Let me say, I wasn't as "blown away" as others. It is a good book. Well written. The story flows nice and smooth. Not too boring but not too exciting. You get to know the characters. You like them. You feel the setting come to life. However, I didn't feel compelled to read this book. There were no late nights with this one. I think mystery genre readers will like this and feel all those super exciting feelings about The Dry. The rest of us are probably no better or worse off reading it or not reading it. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This is definitely going to make my favorite books list in 2017. The premise of this book is an unsolved death in a family. The focus is all the inner feelings, connections, and relationships of the family members experiencing the loss. Every character reflects back as they wonder why and how this could have happened. I thought Celeste Ng captured those things very well. For me this book hit on a personal level. The relationship between the brother and sister in this family dynamic reminded me of my own sibling relationship. My own dependency on my brother in our crazy childhood and his increasing desire to distance himself (as a way of coping). It made me sad but it also made me understand too. This is why I love reading. It makes me consider other perspectives. I think if you love family dynamics and family drama, you will love this book. If reading this review makes you want to read this book right now, I will personally send you my copy. Just let me know in the comments :)

The Refugees by Viet Than Nyugen. This book was a collection of fictional short stories about Southeast Asian refugees' experiences. It was interesting and a quick read. I liked the short story format versus a novel by this author. If you like reading about the immigrant or refugee experience (one of my favorite things to read), then this book will be perfect. 

This month was a good reading month. I'm so happy about that. I have three books left from my Summer TBR: The Nightingale, The Lightning Thief, and Behind Her Eyes. Then I'm going to make another TBR with only light and fluffy books :)

Linking up with Jana and Steph for all the book recommendations you could want to read :)

Follow Along:


Monday, June 26, 2017

Beach Cruisin. Books. And A Birthday Girl.

As I sit down to write this overdue blog post, I have a feeling it's going to be a long one! So grab a drink and cozy on up because we have lots to cover :)

Never in a million years did I foresee a time when we couldn't manage a family adventure at least once a month. Then, all the kids became teenagers Well, almost every kid, we still have one tween. And I realized,  all those family hikes and outings would be distant memories from here on out. 
Insert sad face.

Luckily, the stars aligned to get us all together for a bike ride on the island. 
What fun!  
We tried to ride on the high tide. Which is a big mistake we didn't know about. The sand is soft and it's REALLY hard to pedal.
So, don't ever do that, okay? :)

For another type of beach cruising, we went back to being Prius owners! 
I'm so happy. I've missed the Prius for the last 18 months. 
Not sure if I ever mentioned it, but my husband was in a terrible wreck that totaled our last Prius. 
We bought a cheap used car to replace it that would be our teen's daily driver when she got her license. We are about 30 days away from that reality (pray for me), so we needed another car. 

I was reminiscing the other day about when the kids were little and the most expensive thing I bought them was an outfit at Gymboree or a $50 toy at Christmas. Now it seems like no request comes in under $250. It hurts me to buy a third car. But, you want to be able to get them to and from activities when your working and to get to a job (so they can earn money). So, you buy a third car :(

Throwing in a picture from Father's Day.
Our church had a big Father's Day bash complete with stickers for Rad Dad's and Best Dad's. 
He is a self appointed Best Rad Dad. I would give his Best Dad. He thinks he should be a Rad Dad because he listens to 80s Hair Bands. Jury is still out on whether that makes him rad or not!
What do you think?

My summer reading list is slowly dwindling down. I've read The Refugees and The Dry. I'm currently working on Everything I Never Told You and Not A Fan. I like Everything I Never Told you which gets mixed reviews. It is presented as a murder mystery but the focus is more on the family drama. I have been devouring the story 50 pages at a time. I have so many other things to do but always want to sit and read. That is always a good sign!

The other day I found this cute little independent bookstore in Wilmington. 

I couldn't leave without buying a new book.
This book, South And West, spoke to me. These are short stories/thoughts on comparisons between life in the South and the West. I couldn't think of anything more perfect.
Still committed to my reading list but I might have to throw in this short read soon.

To begin our last week of June, this girl has a birthday. 
She celebrated with friends and a sleepover.
A very loud party. 

As a gift to herself, she got her ears re-pierced and the cartilage part of her ear pierced. 
She was so brave and didn't even wince. 
I didn't realize until later that the background of this piercing room was, well, not really our style. lol
Naked lady art everywhere (thus the heart) and a confederate flag. *eye roll* One of those things I dislike seeing here in NC every day. But, the piercer did a very good job and the place was super clean. It's just  a difference of opinion, right?

Wow, what a week! I can hardly believe we are heading into July 4th weekend. Yikes.
I'm ready for July. We have company coming in for a couple weeks and a trip to DC planned. 
We have cancelled many of our planned trips for some reason or another, so this one is long overdue!
I can't wait :) The last time I was in DC was 20 years ago.  I vaguely remember anything.

Sending good vibes for you all to start this week!

Follow Along:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Instagrams I Love And You Might Too

Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is my favorite. I have all but thrown in the towel on Facebook and Snapchat is fun at times. Instagram has staying power. It's all about pictures, isn't it? I thought today would be a good day to share some of my favorite Instagram accounts and please share share share yours too in the comments. I always need pretty pictures to pass the time in check out lines, on car rides when I'm the passenger, and all the other waiting I do weekly ;)

It must be said my friends and family Instagrams are my very favorite. Second, all the bloggers I follow and have followed for years. My third category is Insta accounts specific to some subject. I don't follow the associated blogs or business or etcetera.  I just like their pictures. I know if I want to see something specific, like food or books, these are my go to Instagram accounts to see pretty things :) I've included the links, so you can click on the names to see them all! Hope you find something that catches your eye!


Yes, I would be amiss to leave out one of my favorite things!  Book Instagrams are one of my favorites. Here are some that always delivery such beautiful book pictures.


Everyone has a food Instagram account they follow, right? Please tell me this is a thing. My food account is all about cakes. Deliciously decorated cakes. I swoon hard! And plan all kind of fake events where I would need one of these cakes to celebrate :)


The rest of my accounts are fun for all different reasons. I love thelostbells because it's Disney! Everybody needs a Disney account to follow :) Plus, they are the cutest brother/sister duo too. fit_momto4 is just adorable and inspiring. And twinkletwinkleliljar has the cutest cups which make me laugh. 

If I had to pick a favorite of favorites, I would pick...topshelftext and pinchofyum. I love the books and recipes. I have quite a few favorite recipes we have tried from Pinch Of Yum instagram. I would recommend checking that one out!

Linking up with ErikaNanci, and Andrea

Follow Along:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Always The Beach Life

Hello friends. Another day of nothing to share. It's summer vacation. I have committed to doing nothing for the first two days. I have to put these stipulations on my teenager; otherwise, she thinks I'm a taxi service. She seems to be respecting my wishes :)

I committed to bringing you posts every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, so here is a random post for your Tuesday! Currently, the weather is insanely perfect. Beach weather!! I'm not sure if you know this, but Carolina beaches are pretty much perfection. When we were living on the West Coast, I thought nothing could top the Pacific Ocean. I was wrong! Our favorite time to go to the beach is approximately 7pm when the air and water are 80 degrees and everybody has gone home. It's like we've got the whole place to ourselves!

When the beach is empty and the boys are riding the waves, I'm reading my book. The Dry by Jane Harper is what I'm reading now. I'm not sure if you remember this book from my Summer 2017 TBR post but I'll link it HERE. The Dry is getting a lot of excellent reader reviews. I'm 3 chapters in and the book reads well. I haven't quite been sucked in yet. I have confidence things will pick up soon.

While I'm doing that, they are doing this :)

I'm pretty sure they don't hate it ;) And now the beach is calling me, so I must go!

Follow Along:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Things I Love And You Might Too

In our house, we are definitely celebrating TGIF because school is out for the summer! That is my most favorite today! We are all feeling Derrick's vibe and ready to find a comfy spot on the beach.

Although, this morning the kids were looking more like this!  It took some real convincing to get them on the bus for the last day of school. That was not my favorite ;)

Since I have a quiet house for the last day before summer vacation starts, let's talk about favorites!

First up, this coffee, an almond latte from Jubala Village Coffee. I'll never be the same after drinking this smooth sweet drink. I am seriously coffee deprived over here! I can't tell you the last time I enjoyed, like truly appreciated, a cup of coffee or drank from a real cup outside my home (minus the Waffle House ;) Ky and I went to Raleigh for a little shopping trip. And to keep with our commitment to be adventurous and try new things In NC, we searched for a true coffee shop in the city. This was pretty ideal since I am living in the land of convenience coffee. I can't tell you the last time I savored a cup of coffee or drank from a real cup outside my home (minus the waffle house ;) 

Naturally, Jubala Village Coffee in Raleigh, will be another favorite.
Isn't it just the most chill environment?
I love it!

These two and their rekindled relationship is another thing I'm loving this week.
Kyli and Zac have never been very close. Zac has always looked up to his big sister and wanted to be with her; however, as an oldest child Ky wasn't having it. Kyli was more drawn to Derrick because of their similar personalities and probably he was young enough to be a novelty versus sibling rival. As the school year has come to an end these two seem to be gravitating more towards each other. The have similar interests, sense of humor, and pop culture references. Next year they are doing high school life together and I'm really looking forward to seeing how that evolves.

Now let's get to some random favorites this week...

In a previous post, I shared one of my favorite podcasts, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. I listen every week and find a lot of encouragement from each episode. However, so week's are even better than others. Episode #144 with Sarah Harmeyer was one worth sharing. This was a total encouragement to find your people, hang with people, and make time for all those things. Sometimes, I find it easier to just go alone or hang with my family. Which is ok but there is still room for friends. I also loved her business, Neighbor's Table, Sarah Harmeyer created to encourage gathering people around. I will let you click over to the link HERE to read for yourself.

Stash Chamomile herbal tea, my drink of choice lately.
Trying to stay away from the coffee as much as I can. 
I find as I get older my tolerance for caffeine and acid is slowly lowering.
I'm loving chamomile tea and Tazo's Wild Sweet Orange tea. 
Both caffeine free :)

Those are all my favorites for the week. It's summer vacation! Let's celebrate!

Linking up with Erika, Nanci, and Andrea

Follow Along:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

7 Books On My Summer TBR List

Summer is too short to read bad books. Do you agree? Most of us gravitate to more entertaining reads during our summer months, it's what we do. Blame vacation mode or the plethora of summer activities, but we don't want to be consumed with pages of less than stellar literature for days and weeks. Summer is a great time for great books! This summer I am taking time to read some raved about new releases, thrillers, and oldie but goodies in all genres. It is summer: I only want good books!

One of my very favorite things to do online is find book reviews. I use blogs, book rating sites, podcasts, and Youtube. I want to know what all the good books are before I start reading. The first book on my list is getting all the attention right now from all platforms... 

1.) The Dry by Jane Harper is apparently the must-read book of the moment. It's a murder mystery story set in Australia. An old friend comes back to the hometown to figure out the answers to an unsolved death. I don't know much more about it and that is the way I like to start mystery thrillers. I've consistently read reviews that The Dry is fast moving and suspenseful. Readers are singing its praises and I'm excited to read for myself. 

2.) Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. This book has been dubbed a psychological thriller which means crazy characters. Again I don't know a whole lot which I am convinced is the correct way to approach any thriller novel. I've read the premise is a love triangle with a twist. There are buzz words like, unpredictable and plot twist, so I'm intrigued. This book is consistently reviewed with high praise by readers. 

3.) The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Pulitzer Prize winning author for The Sympathizer. This book is full of short stories about refugees accounts fleeing Southeast Asian countries spanning across several decades. I have read a couple chapters and feel the story telling is very dark and raw but very well written. The subject matter is relevant for our time. Reading books like this reenforces the gray areas of immigration and refugees. I appreciate any book that will challenge me.

4.) The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordian. A classic everyone seems to have loved reading. Both my reader and non-reader kiddos loved The Lightning Thief. I figure the agreement alone speaks volumes. Plus, I was in several classrooms this year where the students were reading The Lightning Thief and loving it. I love to read what my kids are loving and connect with them on their level. I think I am most excited about reading this popular book! 

5.) Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I bought this book at a library book sale and have yet to read it. Everything I Never Told You gets mixed reviews. The story seems just my speed. A short novel with a little mystery surrounding a death tied in with family drama. Perfect summer beach read.

6.) The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. How could I not read this book at some point? It feels like it would be a slap in the face of all readers :) First, I feel like everyone has read this book. Second, I feel like everyone has loved this book. What you need to know: historical fiction, World War 2 Europe, always a top favorite on reading lists.

7.) Not A Fan by Kyli Idleman. Christian non-fiction confronting the question of what it means to be a true Christ follower. I've heard great things about this book. However, a peek into the first chapter makes me question how fanatical the author is. I'm not sure I will like it but I do try to sprinkle in books regarding my Christian faith throughout the year. I'm long overdue for one.

My summer reading will have a slow start in June because of a commitment I've made. I am currently reading The Refugees very slowly which works well with the short stories format. After the July holiday, I will be burning through my reading list. Do you see any books here I should bump to the top of my list? Any favorites? 

Follow Along:

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Last Week Of The School Year

Yes. Yes. Yes. The Last Week of School is finally here for us! The kids have loads of special days at school and not so fun, tests to take. But when Friday finally arrives the excitement will be unbearable! I'm so looking forward to 10 weeks of chilling out.

Derrick got a head start on chilling out last Friday. By now, you must know the beach is our go to place in summer. It's about 10 minutes from our house. The water is warm and the beaches are nearly empty by the time we get out there. My husband fishes on the pier and the rest of us hang out on the beach. It never gets old to me. Each week the water gets warmer and warmer. I think it's about 78 degrees and will go up to about 85-87 degrees by August. How can you not love that?

After the beach, we went to the nearby park to watch an outdoor showing of The BFG. We made a family decision to try as many new things in North Carolina before we leave next year. Plus, we've kind of been staying close to home and not adventuring around like we did in California. I think we kind of isolated ourselves at home and it's made a difference in our adjustment. This past week, we took advantage of the weekly Parks and Rec event held in our small town. We never went to one last year :( So, we made sure to make it to the first event of the summer! 

Next up?? A 5K. Oh yes, I said it. I finally fought against my better judgement and ran a race. It wasn't anything official with registration fees and specialized medals. The race was a free event held on base for families. You could choose to run the 1 mile or the 5k. The boys were running the 5K and I thought I would probably run the 1 mile. However, when I got to the split, I decided why not run the 3 miles? If I had to walk, so what! At least, I'm trying. I have been running the Couch To 5K app, so I wasn't complete unconditioned. I'm only on week 3 because I keep stopping and having to run days over again to get my body ready to bump up the time in the next week. 

I didn't run the entire distance but I did better than expected. My goal was to run the 5K under 45 minutes. I came in at 42:41. I was really excited about my time. I might be hooked on running now. I did not think that would happen. EVER! Now I want to train to try and better my time. There is another race in July, so maybe...

My husband insisted I have a picture but the timer. My argument was it wouldn't say the correct time. For the record, my time was not 43:44 :)

And I got a medal :) A generic medal but still a medal!

This is probably what the boys looked like waiting for me. 
My husband came in at 28 minutes. Zac at 30 min. Derrick at 32 minutes. 
So, they did have to wait a few minutes for me :)
And they thought I had ran the 1 mile route so they were also a little concerned after 40 minutes. 
Which makes me laugh because wouldn't you think any reasonably healthy person could finish a mile in less than 42 minutes.

Saturday afternoon ended with a day date at the BBQ festival and taxi-ing children around to parties/friends' houses. What could be more North Carolinian than a BBQ festival?
BBQ-- another favorite from this state.

Wow, what a weekend! I think we made North Carolina proud and had some fun along the way :)
I'm ready to get through this week and start counting down through summer!

Follow Along:

Friday, June 2, 2017

Hello June!

I'm not sure how one week can seem like a lifetime ago. Right now, I'm totally feeling like more than two days have passed since we ended May. There is no denying our Semper Fi family is in summer mode! My subbing days have ended for 2016/2017 and the kids are taking end-of-grade tests. The weather is hot, humid, and thunderstorms come rolling in without a moment's notice. That is summer in NC folks! Or should I say ya all? Wait, it's y'all, I think. Clearly, I should stick with folks.

Anyways, last weekend was not only Memorial Weekend but birthday weekend for me. I admit my momentum for birthday weekend, week, or month has severely decreased since we moved to NC. I think it's a mix of not having my people, kids getting older (read: independent), and not as much fun stuff to do that dampens my spirits. I definitely don't want to become one of those people who thinks birthdays are no big deal. Birthdays are a big deal because it means you have been blessed with another year on this Earth. Believe me, some people are praying for that right now.

With all that being said, there was cake, presents, and a movie :) Pirates at the theater on opening weekend. It has been our tradition. And the tradition continues. It was perfection. No spoilers here but my jaw dropped and I kind of freaked out at the end. But that is all I'm going to say!

Speaking of change of attitude since our move, this book arrived on my doorstep just in time to kick off our last year in NC. I don't know much about it but the book is based on research and solid stuff, so I want to give it a try. We are all making our best effort to try new things and experience all NC has to offer in the next 12 months. Just to prove we are serious. Tomorrow we are running our first 5k ever. Just because we want to try something new. P.S. Pray I don't ruin my body! Mainly my legs, joints, and lungs--haha.

Speaking of books...I have my summer reading list all figured out. 
It's going to be a little tricky because I just started an online course. Yep, I finally trying to knock out that grad school goal :) Anyways, it's an A&P class which is not my strength so my brain will be at capacity for the first 5 weeks of summer. Fortunately, there is 10 weeks of summer, so we should be golden on this reading list! I'm hoping to squeeze in a short one in June. I promise to read really really slow and not absorb anything. (This is how book people bargain with themselves :)

Summer in North Carolina also means mosquitos. They have been gradually making their presence known in May and then, bam! June is like their welcoming party! Two days ago, I got bit up wearing 25% Deet bug spray(which I don't like wearing but these mosquitos are insane), so I went straight to Amazon. Yes, I've read the Don't Buy Essential Oils from Amazon article; however, until some oil company makes it easier to order their d@mn oils online, I will buy my oils on Amazon. I'll report back on my Terrashield "review" after our outdoor movie night. 

Zac ended this week on a high note! He was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society on Thursday. This kid is just thriving in North Carolina which makes my momma heart swell! I talked very briefly about the struggles in California with him not really having his place. Here he meshes very well with the locales :) Score one for the Marine Corps :) 

Hope you all have big plans to enjoy your first unofficial summer weekend!

Follow Along: