Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy birthday to me


So today is my birthday. Today I turned 35 year old...or as my younger brother told me yesterday at church, "I am half way to 70!" LOL

Yesterday we were supposed to go to the zoo with my in-laws to celebrate, but Mother Nature had a different idea. It rained off and on all day yesterday with some torrential downpours and thunderstorms. So we postponed the trip. Instead we went out to dinner with my parents, brother, his girlfriend, and my sister. We went to Jake's steakhouse. I ate way too much. We had appetizers including fried onions and nachos and potato skins. For dinner, I had grilled chicken covered in mushrooms, onions and green peppers covered in monterey jack cheese, a baked potato and a side salad. Then my dad decided we needed to have desserts to celebrate, so I HAD to have a piece of cheesecake with strawberry sauce on top. It was very yummy, but I ate way too much. My parents also gave me a beautiful turtle necklace that they had bought for me in North Carolina. We had went into a jewelry store and I had told my mom that I like the blue stone that was in the turtle, and unbeknownst to me they bought it for me for my birthday. It was a very nice dinner out.

Today, it has kind of been a regular Monday around here. I tutored this morning a girl whom I have been tutoring the last 3 summers. Then I had to take Benjamin for speech therapy. When I got home, Bill and the older two kids met me at the door to wish me happy birthday. They had gotten me a few presents. The kids wrapped up a toy from each of them for me to play with...Jacob wrapped up a Ken doll, and Rebecca wrapped up a princess tiara so I could be queen. Bill got me a yoga bluray set and a yoga mat, and a bag of York peppermint patties.

After opening my presents, I sat down for a late lunch of Subway from my hubby. Then I ended up taking a nap. I just fed the kids an easy dinner of waffles, turkey bacon and grapes, and I am trying to decide what to do about dinner for Bill and I. Bill is at work right now, but I really don't want to cook as it is my birthday. Decisions, decisions.... I am leaning toward ordering food and having Bill pick it up when he gets home....

So overall, it has been a very low key day and that is okay with me. Turning 35 is okay. I don't necessarily feel old, but I do know there are some changes that I need to make in order to live to be old.... I am still thinking about what those changes are and the best way to go about them. They will involve getting healthier, moving more, eating less, drinking more water, trying to stress less...etc....Hopefully I will have a plan in place by the end of this week. As I told my dad, the year of being 35 is going to be the year of some major changes.

Well I need to go and straighten up from the kids' dinner, and maybe spend some time doing some reading for fun.

Hope everyone has had a great Monday!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

North Carolina Family Vacation Day 8-- driving home

Saturday July 12, my alarm went off at 4:30 and I got up. It was time to head out for home from our week long vacation on the Crystal Coast. As I was getting our bed stripped of linens, I hear Bill say Hi to Benjamin who came walking into the kitchen. I woke the other two kids up and stripped all the bed and remade them. We said one last goodbye to the condo and headed out to the van. We left the condo at 5:10 am. We stopped by the rental office to drop off our keys and we were on the road at 5:20 am.

I dozed for a little bit, as did the kids. We stopped for breakfast around 8, and we went to McDonald's. The kids all had pancakes and apple juice…the fun thing about that was Benjamin decided to take Bill’s fork and ate most of his pancake with a fork, (this was a first as when we would give him a fork before he would just play with it).  We stopped to fill up the van around 10:45 and we surprised the kids with slushies and m&ms. We also put on the movie “Frozen” on a portable dvd player that we had borrowed from our in-laws. That kept the kids attention for the most part. When “Frozen” was over, we stopped for lunch at..McDonald's. It was the kids’ choice.



When we were back on the road, the boys fell asleep for a nap and we just drove and drove and drove. The drive wasn’t too bad….we hit backed up traffic twice around construction areas where traffic went down from 2 lanes to 1, but other than that it was okay.  Around 3 we had to stop for gas and we let the kids get ice cream cones at…McDonalds! LOL…Bill and I got a chocolate shake that was yummy. When we got back in the van, I put on “How to Train Your Dragon” for the kids, but they all quickly lost interest. So we switched the movie to “Cars” which they enjoyed….Just as the movie was ending, we pulled into our driveway…at 6:20pm. After a 13 hour drive, Bill, the kids and I were all glad to be home. It was a wonderful vacation full of happy memories, but it was also good to be home!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

North Carolina Family Vacation Day 7--sandbars, last walk on the beach



Today was our last full day on the island. Bill got up extra early to go running on the beach. He said it was a dream of his to go running on the beach, so he got to accomplish that. While he was running, I read on the balcony and waited for him to come home. Once he was back, the kids woke up and I got them breakfast of cereal and strawberries. After breakfast, I laid back down for a bit. Once I got back up, all the kids wanted to do was go to the pool. I told them that they only had 2 choices, go down to the beach for the last time to play or pack up and go home. They finally decided to go down to the beach.



While we were down on the beach, the tide was causing small sandbars to appear close to shore that the kids decided to play on. I think the storms from the night before caused a lot of seaweed to come loose as well, as there was a ton of seaweed on the sandbars. While playing on the sandbars, Benjamin decided to be brave and walk across the small area of water onto the sandbar by himself. He was getting better and better with the ocean waves and water. While we were in the water talking, Rebecca met a new friend who had a small sand shark in her hands. Apparently a fisherman had left it on the beach after catching it and killing it and the woman was showing it to the kids and Rebecca got to touch it.

After we went in to get some lunch (chicken nuggets and French fries leftover from a few meals out) and so that Bill could watch Sportscenter and see that LeBron James had decided to come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I got dressed to go do some souvenir shopping with my mom. She came over to our condo…and right after she came over, Jacob fell face first in the kitchen and reopened his scraped up knee. Thankfully I was able to calm him down and we were able to head out to get some souvenirs. I was especially looking to get the kids each a Christmas ornament to save for Christmas this year.

We headed out to a complex called “Emerald Plantation” to shop. This shopping center had several smaller stores and boutiques. On a side note, while we were shopping we kept hearing military planes going over head…Camp Lejuene must have had some training going on. I ended up finding the Christmas ornaments as well as a holder for shells that I wanted to keep all of the shells that the kids found on the beach in. I also bought some homemade fudge. While we were shopping my dad, sister and brother caught up with us (they had been into Beaufort to go on a plane ride) and my dad suggested we all have dinner together. So I left my mom, dad and sister at the shopping center and my brother and I ran back to the condo to get Bill and the kids. We met back up with everyone at the complex and had a nice dinner at RuckerJohns restaurant. The food was really good again. I had a chicken salad, and they have amazing croissants that are drizzled with honey butter that are so good. Bill had trout which we said was really good as well.

After dinner, we decided to head to a store called “Pacific” so that the kids could each pick out a souvenir. Rebecca picked out a tye dyed tshirt and a shell encrusted heart shaped jewelry box. Jacob picked out a tshirt and a ball, and Benjamin got a set of trucks. I bought a t-shirt and got one for Bill. We then headed back to the condo for the night.



When we got back, Bill took Rebecca and Jacob to the pool one last time. After a bit, Benjamin and I met up with them and with my parents and siblings to take one last walk on the beach. The change in Ben was amazing as he was running along the beach and letting the water hit his toes, unlike the first day where he wanted nothing to do with it. As we were heading back to the steps, Jacob started crying and said he didn’t want to leave the beach.

Once back up, Rebecca and Bill went back to the pool, and Jacob, Benjamin and I went up to the room to get baths and to start packing for the return trip. I got the boys bathed and got some things packed up before Bill and Rebecca returned. Once they were back, I did one more load of laundry (so I wouldn’t be faced with lots of laundry when we got home). The kids went to bed and Bill started taking things down to the van for me. Around 11, Bill went to bed and I continued to pack and fill the van. I also got all the trash taken out and things laid out for the morning. I then swept the floors and wiped down the mirrors and glass tables.  I took a final shower and then sat outside on the balcony for a few minutes and finally decided to head to bed around 1:45am.

It was a wonderful last day on the Crystal Coast!

Friday, July 25, 2014

North Carolina Family Vacation Day 6--beach fun, aquarium, and pool fun




On Thursday (July 10) it was supposed to be stormy out for part of the day so we decided to take the kids down to the beach in the morning so that we could have some beach time before it became stormy. When we went down to the beach, Ben again decided to run around and Rebecca and Jacob decided they wanted to be in the water. My mom came down and she stood in the water with the kids and I while Bill chased Benjamin around.


A little while after we came down, we could see a couple storm clouds off on the horizon. One decided to come over head and it rained for about 3 seconds before moving off. We then came up onto the beach, and the kids decided to bury me, which they thought was great fun.



Soon it was time to come in for lunch. Lunch was comprised of….lets eat what we can so we don’t waste any food. The kids ate the last of the bread, as I made them PB&Js and they had the last of the chips as well. Bill ate the last of the jar of peanut butter and had a slim fast shake. I had a small bag of cashews and 2 mini twix bars. LOL After I fed the kids, I hopped in the shower to get all of the sand that was still caked on me off.


After my shower, we decided to head out and visit the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. This was a fun trip, as the kids got to see a lot of different fish…including a yellow fin ray (like the one I saw in the ocean) and a huge shark. Rebecca loved the seahorses and Jacob loved the turtles. Benjamin alternated between being enthralled with the fish and throwing tantrums because we were making him walk. For the summer, they also had several dinosaur models on their outside marsh walk that the kids enjoyed seeing, including one that spit water at people. Overall it was a lovely visit and the kids really liked it.



After the aquarium, we decided to head out to dinner…and we headed to a restaurant that Bill and I remembered quite fondly from our vacation here 8 years ago--Flipperz. We arrived around 4pm and were seated right away. The service was still great, but I was disappointed in the food. Bill ordered a shrimp platter which he said was good, Jacob had a pb&j and fries, Benjamin had a cheeseburger and fries and Rebecca had a hot dog and fries. I ordered a mahi mahi wrap that was just okay. I was just under whelmed by the food.  And as the priciest family meal we had eaten, it ranked last as far as my favorites. After dinner, we went right next door to a gift shop to get some fudge, as my kids had never had fudge before and we decided to get a treat.

We then headed back to the condo, where I dropped the kids and Bill off and then headed out to get another gallon of milk and batteries, as our camera batteries where blinking red. I headed out to the closest gas station/ souvenir shop, where milk was $3.99 for 1/2 gallon. No thank you. I headed next door to a dollar general and milk was $3.95 for a gallon…which was more like it.


When I got back to the condo, Bill and I decided to get everyone’s swim suits on and head down to the pool. The condo complex has 3 pools, including one small kiddie pool (which was 1 foot deep). We took the kids down as Jacob and Benjamin have never been swimming in a pool before. The boys were not to sure of what to think. For the first 10 minutes or so, Benjamin held tightly to me and didn’t want to do anything in the pool. Jacob didn’t even want to get in the pool. Thankfully there was another family there who had a bunch of pool toys that the mom said we could play with and that helped get the boys acclimated. By the end, Benjamin was walking around in the water as was Jacob. After about an hour or so, Bill took Benjamin and Jacob back up the room to change and get a snack, while I took Rebecca over to the bigger pool (which ranged from 3- 4 ft). She loves swimming and honestly I love it as well and had forgotten how I felt in the pool. While there, Rebecca met up with a girl that he had swam with a few days before named “Dixie” and they had fun playing with a ball and with a glow necklace that Dixie’s mom had given her. Finally it was time to come up and get changed and have a snack.

While we were getting a snack of fudge, Rebecca was jumping up and hit her head on the cabinet, making it bleed a little. She was upset about it.



Finally, we got the kids in bed, and Bill and I decided to lay in bed and read as there was some signs that a storm was brewing, as it was starting to lightening pretty bad over the mainland. I finished my 2nd book and we decided it was time to sleep. Just as I was drifting off, I heard a loud beep and Bill and I both looked at each other and said” What was that?” The next minute the power blinked off and on and we heard the beep again…it was the microwave coming back on. I got up and looked out and it was raining pretty hard and it was thundering and lightening pretty bad. I got a flashlight out and put it by the bed and decided to go back to sleep. The walls in the condo are pretty soundproof as I didn’t hear the thunder at all until I opened the front door and the kids never woke up. Overall, another great day!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

North Carolina Family Vacation Day 5--a ray, fun in the sun



Wednesday July 9 we decided to go down to the beach in the morning. So after a breakfast of cereal and apples for the kids and danish for me, we got ready to head down to the beach. There were not that many people down there yet so we got our pick of the spots. We got our things settled and then Bill, Rebecca and Jacob headed out to play in the water, while I tried to get Benjamin to like being on the sand. He got up after a few minutes and decided to go walking. So we walked along the beach for a while, and Benjamin decided to start picking shells up and throwing them. Then he decided to come back to the blanket and play in the sand a bit. Then he decided to go walk again. He tried to take another little boys sand toys and he was very upset that he couldn’t. After a while, Bill came up to switch places with me and he chased Benjamin while I headed down to the water.

While playing in the water with Rebecca and Jacob, I noticed an area that looked murky and deeper than the ankle deep water we were playing in. Then I noticed a couple of larger fish (probably 5-6 inches long) swimming around that area. Just as I turned to tell Rebecca and Jacob to stay away from that area because there was a little drop off, I happened to look down and there was a small ray right by my foot. I must have jumped around 3 feet…. I think that scared me more than the guy catching that shark the first night we were here. I told Rebecca and Jacob that we were not going back in the water for a bit, so we went up to build sandcastles.

We finally did decide to go back toward the water, this time Bill went with the older 2 while I stayed with Benjamin. We decided to give them 10 more minutes before we headed in for lunch. Well that is when Benjamin, who has wanted absolutely nothing to do with the ocean, decided to walk closer and closer to the water. The waves were very gentle and I was able to coax him into the very shallow end and holding his hand was able to get him to at least stand in the water without crying. I would say things like….”Here comes the water…wee!” and then we would walk a little while the waves were out and say “Splish, Splash.” It was the first time Ben seemed to enjoy being down on the beach.



Finally we decided to head in for showers and lunch. While Bill got Benjamin bathed I made lunch for the kiddos….PB& J sandwiches, pineapple, chips and pudding. I had a leftover hot dog, chips and pudding. And Bill had leftover chicken wings. After lunch, Bill decided to take Rebecca and Jacob putt-putting, while Benjamin and I stayed at the condo to relax and do laundry. After they left, I started laundry and Benjamin decided to climb up on the couch to watch cartoons and he fell asleep. I took the opportunity to go sit on the balcony, where I could still see in to see Ben on the couch and read. It was a nice afternoon.



Bill and the kids returned and said they had a blast. Rebecca and Jacob both got holes in one and after Bill took the kids to Dairy Queen for a treat. Soon it was time to think about dinner. My sister came over from their condo to baby sit so that Bill and I could have a nice dinner out by ourselves. I made the kids “Kid Cuisine” meals for dinner and Bill and I left. After much discussion we decided to go “ Jackie’s American Grille” for dinner. When we walked in the hostess, who was an older lady looked at Bill and I and said that we were a “cute couple.“ While there, we sat out on the patio for dinner, where there was live music with a saxophone player and it was very nice. We ordered an appetizer of their “Jag” fries, which were steak fries covered with toppings that we chose…we had 2 cheeses, red pepper, artichokes and tomatoes, and spinach along with  a siracha ranch sauce. They were really good. For dinner, Bill had fish and chips and I had chicken salad on a bed of romaine. The salad was very tiny but good, so I was glad that we had ordered the appetizer. I also had a cocktail called the jumping jack which had tequila and other stuff in it and was blue in color. It was really good. 

After dinner, we decided to stop in at one of the many souvenir places to see what they had as we had not done any shopping for souvenirs. We stopped in at a place called Wings, where Bill picked out a t-shirt, I got a shirt for each of the boys and I bought Rebecca a mermaid necklace and I got a turtle bracelet. As we were walking in to the store, a guy rolled down his car window and said "Hey look who we see"….I turned not sure what was going on and it was a guy whose kids go to Rebecca’s school and whose family belongs to our church. They were also vacationing in the area this week. I told him we are both a long way from home…it is such a small world. 

After we came home, the kids showed us their treasures that my parents had brought over for them. Rebecca got a mermaid doll, Benjamin got a turtle stuffed animal, and Jacob got a set of pirate toys. The kids were soon ready for bed, and Jacob asked to sleep with is pirate toys. I told him he could….he then laid one of the pirates on the couch and said, but I am not sleeping with him... it was the pirate that was a skeleton…LOL….

The 2 oldest then went to bed, and the napper decided he wasn’t tired, so I rocked him and finally had to lay down with him to make him go to sleep. I must have dozed off too, because the next thing I knew, I woke up with all the condo lights off and Bill was in bed asleep. So I went to bed as well, tired after another fun day on the coast. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

North Carolina Family Vacation Day 4--boat ride, pirates and beach fun

On Tuesday, I awoke extra early. I was up and on the balcony at 6:30am. I just find that I don’t need as much sleep here. So I sat on the balcony and ate some cheese danish and read some of my library book, while enjoying the sights and sounds of the ocean. Around 7:15 I woke the kids up, got them dressed and breakfast as we had a fun morning ahead.



After breakfast, we headed out to a little town called Beaufort. This is the area that Hurricane Arthur made landfall at on Thursday night/Friday morning. Beaufort is an adorable town. We were heading there to take a dolphin watching boat ride aboard “The Lookout Express.” We left the harbor at 9:20 and the first wildlife that we saw as we left the dock area were a couple of wild horses on Carrot Island. That was pretty neat to see. Then we headed out to look for dolphins. The Lookout Express is a sailboat so we had to go under a drawbridge to head up the Newport River, where there are several pods of bottlenose dolphins that like to play and live. Captain Steve said that he thought the dolphins might have been scared away because of the hurricane, but he had seen them the day before. He turned on some reggae music and said that the dolphins liked the music. He also mentioned that before the hurricane had gone through that the water had been crystal blue and very pretty. However, since the hurricane, the water was a murky brownish blue color.  We saw only about 5-6 dolphins while we were in an area that the Captain described as prime dolphin territory. As we were heading back, we passed by a pirate ship that belongs to a real bonafide pirate who is registered with the United States government. As we were heading back toward the docks, we saw a TON of dolphins in the water, including a few that were jumping out of the water.  This was an area where the water was crystal blue and beautiful. The perfect conditions for the dolphins, I suppose. It was really neat to see, and Rebecca especially LOVED seeing the dolphins.



After we disembarked from the boat, we headed down the street to a restaurant named “Clawsons” for lunch. They had really good food. Rebecca and Jacob had cheese quesadilla and fries, Benjamin had grilled cheese and fries, Bill had an angus burger with fries and I had a Carolina BBQ pulled pork sandwich with homemade kettle chips. It was really, really good.



After lunch, we headed a little further down the street to the “North Carolina Maritime Museum”. This free museum is a quaint little museum that houses some awesome artifacts. In 1996, Blackbeard the Pirate’s famous ship, “The Queen Anne’s Revenge” was discovered off the coast of Beaufort in 25 feet of water. Over the years, they have salvaged some of the items and they are housed in the museum. It was neat to see some of the artifacts and to learn that it was maybe 1% of what they had found.

After leaving the museum, we decided to head back to the condo (which was about half hour drive) to recharge our batteries and cool down. The temperature was 93 and their was high humidity. The only saving grace was the sea breeze. When we got back to the condo, we noticed that the winds had kicked up pretty high and that the waves were very choppy. We decided to wait until after dinner to go out to the beach.

For dinner, I fixed chicken nuggets, green beans and mandarin oranges for the kids and I fixed chicken wings for Bill and I. Once again, we ate out on the balcony.


After dinner, we got changed to go out to the beach. Rebecca, Jacob and Bill played in the water, while Benjamin and I sat on the beach. The wind was kicking the sand up really high. While we were on the beach, 2 military helicopters flew over. Because of the wind we didn’t hear them until they were right over us.

After we came in, the kids got bathed and put to bed, and Bill and I went out on the balcony to relax with a wine cooler…classic lime margarita for me and Jamaican me Happy for Bill. I will be honest I was not a fan of the margarita flavor. Then it was off to bed after another great day on the Crystal Coast.

Stay tuned for Day 5!