Monday, August 27, 2018

Shackleford Banks Sunset Cruise

I felt like the weeks leading up to Kyli's send off was filled with all these "last" moments. Truth is, we took a handful of last hurrah trips to enjoy having the kids all together as kids (not independent people/adults). I was really feeling like life was about to change. I still think that but I'm not quite sure we needed all the "last moment" trips :) I might roll my eyes at my sentimentality sometimes.

This boat trip to Shackleford Banks was our very last trip together before we brought Kyli to college. We probably should have stayed home, packed the car, and went to bed early. Instead, we hopped on a catamaran for a sunset float out to a remote island to try to find wild horses. 
It's sort of our signature style of doing things.

It was a fantastic time walking horse trails over sand dunes, collecting shells on the beach, and searching for the elusive wild horses on the deserted island. The down fall was stepping on cactus with bare feet. By the way, if you ever go out to Shackleford Banks in North Carolina, don't leave your shoes on the boat! It's a terribly walk without shoes ;) 

 We did eventually find wild horses. Which was great luck given the 9 mile stretch of land they have to roam! We were feeling pretty lucky.
It was a good time and we floated back to the mainland glad we made the trip. 
We can't help but think of the next stay go early in the wear bring a netted bag to collect shells. Our time is limited in North Carolina though. So, maybe, that is just good advice for other people :)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Good Times Iowa Style

Delivering Kyli to Iowa meant we got to take some time to do Iowa things. We hit up the Iowa State Fair and ate all the garden fresh veggies our bellies could fit. We binged on all things Hawkeye and hung with our family. The boys did not want to leave!

I did not grow up going to the Iowa State Fair. It wasn't a thing for us. In fact, the two times I've attended has been in adulthood with my the kids. Every experience is as new for me as it is for them. We did a lot of walking and a lot of farm animal petting. It sounds lame but it was fun :)

We saw the biggest cow and the biggest pig in Iowa. I took a picture of the big cow, in case you were curious.

My favorite is the Animal Learning Center with all the baby farm animals. The barn is filled with pregnant farm animals and you can even witness a live birth (if you are lucky). It's pretty cool. Definitely a favorite for me. 
At a young age, I can remember sitting in my grandparents' pig shed waiting for the pigs to give birth. It fascinated me and I would literally sit on an overturned bucket for hours waiting for the little piglets to be delivered. 

One grandma thought the boys needed to ride the fair rides. The boys loved that! I was a little unsure about that one. Those rides always look sketchy to me.

Derrick was all about the University of Iowa booth. He needed his picture with the trophies.
I don't understand. Football isn't my thing. But it's important to him and he understands what all the trophies represent :)

Here is our girl with her mascot signed by everyone in the Class of 2022.
I'm so proud of her for working hard and being independent with her school thing.
She is enjoying herself and likes her school.
I feel like it's worth reporting the separation for this momma hasn't been too bad.
I was a little worried how it would go. Technology sure helps and she hasn't met her people yet, so she still calls home every day :)
I'll take what I can get for as long as I can!

Friday, August 10, 2018

College Bound. A Smaller Space. And Lots of Transitions.

Tomorrow, we are going to load up our car with stuff and drive to Iowa. We are delivering our child to college. A 4 year state university. A ginormous student body and campus. Diverse ideas and driven people all pouring into my child. My smart beautiful child.

My friends asked me yesterday, "How are you feeling?" And yesterday, I felt very positive. I'm not sure why and next week I might feel differently. Today, I'm excited for her. I remember so distinctly desiring that independence of moving out on my own and becoming an adult. It really is an exciting time in life. She is smart, level headed, and open minded. She is going to be fine.

And we are going to be fine. I keep forgetting that not only are her parents going to miss her (that's us :) but her brothers will too. So, maybe next week will be a little off for us.

It's a big season of changes and transitions for us. In preparation, we moved to a smaller space. And the first couple of days, I was panicked! Like what the freak was I, who pushed hard for this to happen, thinking?!? Two weeks later, Best. Decision. Ever.

First and foremost, the money we are saving is worth it. Second, the space to take care of is so small. No stress of all the things I should be doing to take care of the house instead of doing important things like hanging with my kids, my husband, or showing up for a friend. This smaller space also has been amazing for us to gather together. I noticed that in our big houses we all tended to go to our separate areas and do our separate thing. So, I like our new togetherness... for now :)

Ultimately, everything is pointing to the direction of military retirement. Only a few months left to go before his ceremony and leave begin. Official retirement begins a couple months after that. No, we don't know where we are going. We really do not. We know there are two choices: Southern California or Austin/San Antonio, Texas area. There are pros and cons for both, we have no real convictions about either (right now), so we are going to be persuaded by a job. I'm going back to school so I can do a career change. Both places have plenty of education options for me to do that. Worst case scenario, we hang in North Carolina past retirement until things fall into place. Which is totally doable now that we have a smaller space! See how all our decisions come full circle? I'm so happy for that!

Today, I'm connecting this picture with this post because it was a moment captured. And today's post feels like it a moment captured. The husband and I went for a walk here while Zac had cross country practice at the same place. We came to this pond and it was one of those moments that left you in awe. The colors and the stillness of the water were my idea of perfection. It always just sets my mind right.

Happy Friday everyone! I hope this weekend is just what you need!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hiking in William B. Umstead State Park

If you know our family, then you know hiking is our thing. We hiked all over Southern California and truly miss all the trails out West. Some of our favorite trails were along the ocean and in the mountains. Heck, we were happy anywhere we could find a trail to overlook any part of the city.

We love to get out in nature and just cleanse all the crap that we collect in our heads from life. One thing we've missed terribly at this duty station is hiking. Coastal North Carolina is flatter than a pancake. Hiking is non-existent. Not being able to get out in nature makes me feel restless and sometimes grumpy. So, when we go inland, I'm always looking for trails. Raleigh has this cool outdoor retreat in the middle of the city called William B Umstead State Park that has lots of trails. It's beautiful and a perfect fix for a girl desperately needing to hike in a place where the terrain changes elevation.

When we drive to Raleigh for airport pickups (mainly), this is one of our go-to places. We have never truly hiked Amsted Park before now. We are always exploring little foot trails or driving along tree canopied roads.  This trip we allowed a few hours to hike a trail at William B. Umstead State Park.

We automatically scoped out the trail with water. Those trails are our favorite. The boys like to get a little daring and test their balance.

You can see from the trail map there were a few choices. Of course, this is only a small section on the west side of Umstead park. There are lots more options around the entire park.

Even the Marine husband got comfy and relaxed.

We came across lots of bugs and flying creatures because HELLO it's North Carolina. How cool is this lunar moth? Cool story...this moth was hatching from caterpillar to moth right before our eyes. I love that we got to observe nature in action!

Hoping the last few months here bring a few more hikes!   

Friday, July 27, 2018

Life Update- Iron Infusion

Hey readers. I wanted to take some time to share something a little more real life today. I feel like it's worth sharing to bring a little more understanding to the lack of follow through over the past year.

The bottom line is that I've been dealing with a health condition over the past year. It's not too serious. I'm just one of the millions of people who deal with iron deficiency anemia. Nothing too abnormal but it can get kind of debilitating for me. Since last summer, I have been dropping super low on my red blood cell counts. Hemoglobin, hematocrit, RBC. All of them. Usually, doctors will prescribe a heavy duty iron pill and bounce those numbers up pretty quickly. After 10 years of iron pills, my digestive system said 'No Way. No More!" So, this past fall, we had to find an alternate way to get me my much needed iron. By way of iron infusion. They pumped iron right into my veins. It's pretty wild but worked like a champ. There are some risks and it's a little nerve wrecking going into the infusions but my body takes hold and goes to work. It's amazing and it helps me so much.

Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before I needed another iron infusion this summer. It's a little disheartening when your body doesn't work like it was intended. But praise the Lord for modern medicine. In June 2018, I had another infusion and my body absorbed the iron the way it needed. And so now I'm juiced up and my red blood cells are nice and healthy :)

The problem is maintaining the iron stores and maintaining the healthy red blood cell production. My body works against me in that way. I will give you the basic cause...female issues. That might be TMI but I also know there is a whole community of women out there who need to hear this. I know I have felt like I'm the only one experiencing all this with the big scary (to me) treatments. This month I underwent a medical procedure to see if I could assist my body in maintaining my iron levels. I am one week post procedure and feeling on the upswing of recovery. Over the next few months, we will know if this is the answer to my problem. I am happy to talk about that with anyone who might feel that information is beneficial but prefer a more private platform. (You can email me at It's funny because today at the bank I overheard someone talking about their anemia problem. And I wanted to say, "Me too!"

I give you all this information to bring a little more understanding for what is going on in my world. Why I start things, like running, and then abruptly stop within weeks. Because my poor heart can't keep up with me running when I have little oxygen to deliver in my blood stream. The same reason for no adventures or pictures to share. Do you really want to see me hanging out at the clinic? It's pretty uneventful and I know for some people it can trigger sad/sympathy/etc feeling. I want to try to keep this a happier and lighter space.

So that's me guys. Things are looking up and hopefully adventures and fun hobbies are on the horizon.

Much love to you all!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Time For Adulting

Oh yes, girlfriend can now use the term 'adulting'. Not that she would, or even knows what that means :) But... now her long journey into figuring it out begins! It has been such a pleasure being her mother with the exception of 9th and 11th grade year...those I do not want back! And I'm very much looking forward to being mom to adult Kyli.

This girl is funny and smart. Loyal, influential, fierce, and quick witted. She is humble and easy going and unaffected by trends and mainstream (outside of scrolling through Insta and Snapchat every five minutes). She loves Jesus and is truly interested in others. She loves animals. And she loves shoes, lots of shoes, always. And stickers, so many freaking stickers!  And junk food. Just all the vices!

We have thoroughly enjoyed her childhood and are so lucky to have her! Now, sink or swim baby! (Just kind of kidding ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

DisneyWorld 2018

DisneyWorld in July. Call us crazy! Long lines, humid heat, all the things you want to avoid on vacation. And despite all the negatives, we had the best time! We hit the parks in the morning and night. We took breaks for naps and swims in the heat of the day. And we let the kids have some freedom to roam the park while we (the parents) did our own thing. 
That may have been the best part for mom and dad :)

We wanted to do something special for Kyli's graduation so we let her pick the destination. She picked Disney because that's her thing. Her friend from California joined us and we road tripped to Florida from North Carolina. Super simple 8 hour drive.
We had four days of park hopping thanks to our military tickets. And we got to enjoy the early & late hours, thanks to our military hotel on property. We will miss our military perks in 2019!

Here are a few fun pictures of our DisneyWorld trip.

Magic Kingdom


Hollywood Studios

and Animal Kingdom.

Yes, Magic Kingdom is awesome. It's the iconic Disney place. However, we enjoyed Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios way more! Less crowds, shorter lines, and more thrill rides.
When you have teens that is what they want.

They also wanted freedom to go off on their own and ride Dinosaur four times in a row while being completely obnoxious (I'm sure). We, the parents, were also able to do adult things, like ride the "slow" rides and eating Dole Whips!

It was a blast for our last DisneyWorld trip. Disney is always a good time!
I admit I'm ready to graduate to something a little more grown up though :) 
Stay tuned for those adventures!


Saturday, June 16, 2018

She Did It!

If we had a summer bucket list, then we would be checking off one big box. Graduation!!
Kyli graduated from high school! Cue the tears!

There is just something surreal about your first born graduating. Days filled with sadness over childhood reflections, anticipation of a changing relationship, anxious over what the future holds, and all the other things that sneak up on you as the day approaches. There are also positive things like celebrating this milestone of finishing 13 years of school with them, gaining their independence, and finding interests and passions they didn't know they had. I'm very excited to see what this child does with herself.   She really is a great girl and has so many amazing characteristics that will serve her well. I just want her to hold on to those qualities tightly because I know the world doesn't always appreciate them  :)

I don't quite think Ky knew what to expect on graduation day. It's understandable because she has never attended a graduation in her life. Weird, huh? After the ceremony, she was glowing. She said, "That was fun!" I thought that was just the cutest thing. You will see a picture below of her waving up to us in the crowd. I thought that captured her attitude the best.  

The graduation ceremony was a special moment to watch and know it was honoring her (and her classmates) hard work. I couldn't help but reminisce about my own graduation sitting there. It is such a great memory and a great time in life. Ky is going to love adulthood. Recently, I have really sensed her desire to be more independent and explore what she will become in the future. 
I'm looking forward to seeing her life unfold.  

Could her smile be any bigger?

And we can't forget the graduation cap. I love all the creativity that goes into this graduation trend.
Kyli did hers all by herself with a nudge from Pinterest (of course). However, Pinterest still doesn't make my creations nearly this cute! She just has that creative, artsy touch.

My friends, this picture right here, is almost too much for me to manage :)
All of us together with one "launched" baby bird. And let's define launched as --technically she can do what she wants with her life now.

I can't even believe it happened!

Friday, June 8, 2018

My Summer Has Begun

The day I've waited for all year. My last day of work for the summer! I'm free and it feels so good! I completed my second year of subbing at the elementary level. This year I worked for two schools in the same district which helped to control my stress compared to my first year hopping around to multiple schools through the week. Luckily, some very smart readers advised me NOT to do that, so I stopped doing that! Thank you for sharing that :) Subbing is tough no matter how well organized you are. So I'm exhausted! *haha* But I am happy to have employment in a tough job market.

What am I doing with all my free time? Great question! There will be so many beach days, mostly documented because the beach is amazing here!

There will be running and races because I'm vowing to BE a runner. It just has to happen! I have no other hobbies (besides reading), so this is it! All my eggs in one basket. Lucky me, I have a built in partner who will push me to run when I don't want to.

And our local running club is AMAZING! Real people running at all levels, paces, and distances. Plus, craft beer and socializing after your run. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?

There will also be reading because it's me!

And adventuring because that is how our SemperFiFam does life! 

And there will be coming to terms with the fact that my oldest is 18, graduating high school, and headed to college out of state :( Let's avoid talking about that for another week, m'kay?!?

It's summer friends! Let's enjoy every moment.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer of Fitness

We have two goals this summer---> Fun and Fitness. Life is bringing so much big stuff our way and I refuse to be bog down by it. Fun will offset all the stress. The fitness part was something Zac and I are choosing because he will be training for cross country throughout the summer. If figure if I piggy back on those workouts then I will be more motivated to become the consistent runner I want to be. It's a lofty goal because it's hot and humid here; however, I think the way life has arranged itself will work out perfectly.

Saturday was the monthly 5k on Camp Lejeune. We love to participate because #1 it's our military community and #2 it's free. I feel MCCS (Marine Corps Community Services) does a great job organizing the races and the course is easy. The drawback is waking up at 6am to drive to base. I was secretly hoping Zac was going to change his mind but no luck.

Just coming off of track season he is still loving running and still in great shape. He ran ahead of me and finished 4th. I was proud of my finish too. Mostly, because I wasn't last, or second to last for that matter :) Which I always am! Plus, I broke through the 40 minute ceiling that had hung over me since I started running in 2017. This race I finished at 39:30. It's not a great time but it's a great time for me. And I am going to own it and be proud of it.

We always told Zac during track, you are doing better than 95% of the high school because you are running every day. It's true. 39:30 might not be a great time but it's better than all the other people who didn't run today :) That is how I keep motivated! Breaking the 40 minute mark was enough to motivate me to keep running this week and keep up with my health so I can keep running in general. And I know by doing those two things, I will shave off a few more seconds the next time I race in July.

So, there it is. Summer of Fitness--let's do this!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Summer Reboot 2018

It's June 1st and that means our SemperFiFam is (almost) on vacation! We have collectively decided to enjoy these crazy hot humid days. No matter what! I've been struggling with the idea of coming back to the blog and questioning if I would be able to maintain writing when life gets busy again. But seriously, why worry about tomorrow?? "Tomorrow will worry about itself." (Matthew 6:34) There are no promises for where this blog is going or what I am doing with it :) I'm just missing writing, documenting, and having these conversations with you. 

Yes, our life feels crazy right now. We are months away from leaving our active duty military life. Our oldest is college bound, out of state no less. We are thinking about jobs, houses, relocation, etc etc. And wouldn't you know, all the sudden I am worried and fearful over just about everything. Weird fears too. Stuff that has never really hit the radar for my attention and you know what everyone tells me? "It's because you have so many unknowns you can't control". Strangely, many people say that to me. I don't understand how that translates to fear but it sorta makes sense. Writing helps me lay everything out and process it. I know my 'WORDS' people totally get that. Another reason for coming back to the blog.

This summer, I would just like to write and take pictures and share them with you. Back to the basics of blogging over here. Come September, the crickets might move back in?? I'm just taking one day at a time! Welcome back long time friends and hello new friends. I'm looking forward to getting to know you!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Today is a Snow Day. Yesterday was a snow day. It feels like we are on the longest winter break in the history of school breaks. I am dubbing this my favorite week of 2018! This BombCyclone... Snowmaggedon... East Coast Freeze has reached its icy fingers all the way down to North Carolina (and beyond). We love every single digit moment!

Life has literally stopped. Everything in our area is shut down. No school, no work, no shopping. It's a nice way to be forced into simplicity. The boys are sledding with our one sled and making do with boogie boards as well. My husband and I managed a quick walk around the neighborhood before I cuddled up with my book and read all day. An legitimate excuse to read all day is another favorite.

I think we ended up with between 4 to 6 inches of snow here on the coast. Everything is so pretty and picturesque. The trees are covered in icicles. The trees are brushed with snow. The temperatures are low enough to keep everything frozen for one more day before it melts and life gets back to normal. I might have to bundle up and go for one more walk. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

2018 Is The Year

I'm putting all my eggs in 2018's basket. This is going to be an excellent year! 2017 had its ups and it also had downs. I think the Instagram #bestnine2017 says it all for the ups 

Our year started with a military deployment homecoming. Our last military homecoming before his retirement. Yep, we've being doing this life for 20 years and it is almost done. I've said it many many times, it goes fast. After the first 10 years, the second ten fly by. Remember  this advice young ones who are contemplating the direction of your military life, it goes fast. After he picks up some seniority, there won't be so much BS to deal with. Ok, there is always military BS to deal with, but you will be better at managing it.

We did a heck of a lot of traveling this year. It was our goal living on the East Coast to travel as much as we could before we left. We went to Florida, back to Iowa, around North CarolinaWashington DC, Virginia, New York City, and Kentucky in 2017.

Exploring this side of the nation has made me realize, I really do love the East Coast. I think I like it more than the West Coast. It so easy to get to so many places and  there is so much history. If it weren't so cold in the North and I wasn't such a misfit in the South, the East Coast could be our forever home. Unfortunately, I never caught on to the whole Southern Girl hospitality/charm thing. So, we will be moving in 2018. *All the NC people are cheering right now* 

This year was also the (beginning of) an end of an era for our family. Our oldest, Ky, started her senior year. If you have followed this blog for the past 7 years, then you are just as shocked as I am! She was a little girl when I started posting pics and telling stories. And now, she is going to be an adult, living outside this house for most of the year. Mommas, it is so hard to be on the cusp of launching children! It is emotional and frantic and exciting and all the emotions times a thousand. Sometimes, I'm ready and sometimes I want five more years. I'm thinking a pause button would be great to use sporadically over the next 6 months. Anyone got one??

This is one of the first pictures I posted of the kids back in 2011 when we vacationed to the Gulf Coast.

This year we've met a lot of quality people in our little town. People who we adore and call friends. I'll be packing them with us when we leave... along with the beach. 

Our biggest down in 2017 was losing our Charlie dog. He has also been around as long as the blog. He drove me absolute batty most of the time. He liked very few people outside our family, he would go after the neighbors, and bark when someone down the street pulled into their driveway. He drove me crazy like that. But he was our dog and a part of our family. Now he isn't here and it's sad to think about. 

I can't quite put my finger on what 2017 was all about. We had fun. We were together most of the year. However, the year just wasn't the greatest, you know?  2018 is the year of big changes and new beginnings for us. I am feeling the excitement. Next year at this time, I will (hopefully) be reflecting on a new home, new friends, new job, a girl home for the Christmas, two teenage boys in the house (Lord help me!), a husband who doesn't have to be gone for days/weeks/months, and all the things I can't even imagine. I'm hopeful for this new year and I wish you all the very best in 2018!

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