Category Archives: travel

I finally know my way around.

During the month of November, I’m participating in NaBloPoMo, where I try to write and publish each day. Often, I’ll be writing to a prompt – like today. 

My husband is great at finding his way around. We can be in a neighborhood he’s never been in, winding through stop signs, turns, and houses that all look the same, and he can find his way out without any problem. He’s got a great sense of direction, and often looks at the car’s compass (in his car, it’s just a lit-up letter on the rearview mirror) to decide whether to go left or right. Me? Not so much.

It took me several years of living in my town to start knowing my way around. When I moved here, for college, there weren’t phones with GPS, and so I had to rely on friends’ directions just to get to the nearest grocery store, the movie theatre, or a restaurant. I was using the highway to get around town almost exclusively for years, not knowing other ways, whether they were shorter or easier, or not.

But somewhere amid moving into the house we live in now, and attending work trainings at different schools in the area (back in my teaching days) I finally got to know some new neighborhoods, lots of good shortcuts, and the best way to use our main thoroughfares. I can cut through my neighborhood on any single street and get to where I’m going – and that is quite an accomplishment for me!

You see, this city felt like home even before I knew how to navigate it. I loved my college campus. I had, and still have, great friends, including many who grew up here, and some who, like me, came here for school and decided to stay. It’s a warm and welcoming town, lots of opportunities to meet new people, join local organizations, or find cool events that are happening all the time. It’s not too big, in case you get overwhelmed in huge cities full of skyscrapers. But it’s not too small, either, for those of us that think that tiny towns have a little too much familiarity. It’s a good size, particularly when you need to run an errand on one side of town, and one on the other… you can do it within a reasonable amount of time.

Finally learning my way around – well – seemed like the final piece of the puzzle toward becoming a “local”. Now that I’ve been here for 13 years, I definitely consider myself an expert navigator, directions-giver, or even shortcut creator. And when I go back to the town I grew up in, a smaller town with less big highways, I feel like the newcomer. I’ve forgotten the shortest distance between two points, or I can’t remember street names that I have aways known. It seems I’ve only got memory space enough for one town’s road map.

Relishing the End of Our Summer

I’ve really enjoyed this summer. We’ve been burning the candle at both ends, in some ways, but it’s been a really fun, hectic, exciting, yet still relaxing summer. I definitely feel like we gave the kids a good time, made enough time for some dates, read a lot of books, and got a lot done around the house/yard.

Spending an unexpected week at our favorite beach was a definite highlight – shout out to our friends who let us rent their timeshare from them for a week! Bringing the kids to the beach Hubby grew up visiting was really special for all of us… including their first miniature golf experience! The beach is a good place for that.

We spent a lovely week at the lake with Hubby’s whole family, and had TONS of cousin time. Our kids got to fish, feed turtles, ride the boat (a lot!), swim “across the ocean” (basically between two of the docks), and spend a couple of mornings tubing! It was great to see them all playing together and even relaxing a bit.

We got to visit my parents’ house (the house I grew up in) once more before it sold… and we actually got to be there when it went under contract. We must’ve been a good luck charm!

Now that kindergarten has begun, and preschool will begin for the boys next week, I’m down to visiting the pool for the last few times and hitting up our favorite parks again before our schedules get crazy. We’ve done extra play dates with friends and chased our favorite food truck around town (seriously, my kids love the Bahtmobile!) and now we’re preparing for what will feel like a slow down, but will really just be a settling into routine. I’m thankful to have arrived safely at this point: back to a routine, to learning, to doing new things. It’s going to be a good year.

Currently – May

Hi friends! It’s that time again… that time that seems to come more quickly every month. Time for a new currently! I probably say this every month, but I can’t believe May is here! Already, our garden is flourishing, the kids have only a few weeks of school left, and I am already trying to make sure our summer isn’t boring!

Thanks to Anne in Residence and Nancy of NY Foodie Family, we’ve got another currently link-up. Here’s a little bit about what’s going on currently…

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Baking || some Healthy Oatmeal Muffins. During my fitness challenge, I was looking for ways I could feed everyone healthily and easily. These muffins are a win with me, the hubs, and all three of the kids. I’ve made them three times in the last six weeks! Now I just need to start doubling the recipe so I don’t have to make them as often. I should also add that this same gal, Bren, has a deadly delicious chocolate peanut butter muffin recipe that’s healthy, also! I made them on Monday. Some pics are on my Instagram!

Listening || to First Aid Kit. They’re a couple of Scandinavian gals who sing Americana. It’s actually really cool, with some lush harmonies and some interesting (and also not clean) lyrics. Check them out! I’ve enjoyed several of their albums.

Loving || some of the things we have planned for our days Charleston this week! We have some friends getting married there, and so we will fill our free time with the beach, the aquarium, sweet friends, and good eats!

Planting || all of the things! That torrential rain we got here in NC last week was actually good for us, as far as our garden goes. I can tell things have been growing, despite getting beaten by the rain. We’ve planted seedlings and seeds of all sorts, including several types of lettuce, yellow and green squash, eggplants, carrots, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes, lots of herbs, and a few blueberry bushes. I can’t wait until things start bearing fruit and we get to eat all our hard work!

Lovely lettuces.
My little helpers!
Soon you will be tomatoes!

Remembering || to keep on eating healthy and getting my rest. I transferred my registration from the half-marathon this past weekend to one on May 13th. I had been feeling so poorly for several days before that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to actually race well. It was really disappointing, to be totally honest. It was a hard couple of days knowing I should have been up to it but I wasn’t. But now I’m back at it to make sure I am healthy, fit, and can race well on the 13th! I even bought a fresh pair of runners to start breaking in since my current pair is beginning to wear out. 

The new girls.

Training in my glasses because eye infections are the WORST.

That’s about it in our world. What have you been up to currently? Feel free to join our link up, or comment and let me know!

10 Things I Miss About Being Single

This post also appeared on the Grit and Grace Project. I’m a contributor there – go check it out!

It seems I should start this off with a disclaimer: I’m a happily married woman. Now that I’ve told you that, I can tell you the rest. There are some things that I miss about my days being single. Most of those don’t have to do with guys or dating or anything… but just about who I was during that time, and how I was able to live. Being in a healthy relationship certainly has MANY perks, but every once in a while, I pine for pure alone time, less responsibility, and a different lifestyle. Here are some of the things I miss about being single.

Only being responsible for myself. I mean that in the best way, but I’m serious. I almost can’t remember the last time that I got ready to go somewhere alone, packed only what I myself needed, and didn’t worry about what would be forgotten if I didn’t make my list and check it twice. Only worrying about yourself is just easiest.

Being on time. I won’t pretend that I was on time anytime I went somewhere, but I was punctual about 50% more when I was single than I am now. Even just being married and adding a man into the mix made me chronically late. They think they don’t take that long to get ready, and so they wait until four minutes before you need to leave to hop in the shower. Come ON!

Saturdays. Once upon a time, a Saturday was entirely my own. Sleep? Okay! Have unlimited and unhurried quiet time with the Lord? Absolutely. Read a book or three? Yes, please! Shower whenever (or take a bubble bath!), leave the house (or don’t), eat what I want, and lay on the couch for a movie marathon? ALL OF THE YES.

Having my own spending money. Don’t get me wrong- I have spending money, and I don’t need permission to use it. But inevitably, I don’t splurge on things as much as I used to, if only because I have a conscience. What I might’ve spent on a new dress usually gets spent on a new dress for my daughter. What I might have saved up for a new handbag gets whittled away by this son’s need for new shoes, that nice dinner out, or my husband’s birthday present.

Living in a small space. I know, a small space isn’t necessarily something that is just for single people. But somehow, only having a few rooms to keep clean, or furnish, or lose things in does actually appeal to me. However, my family of five can’t quite fit into a one-bedroom apartment, no matter how many toilets I don’t feel like cleaning.

More frequent girls’ nights. I know, I could have girls’ nights whenever I want – and I do! But it used to be that most nights of the week were girls’ nights. Grabbing dinner with a friend, getting with the girls to watch The Bachelor, or spending a night out on the town all dressed up, it could be any or every night. Now, it takes planning not just on the part of the girls, but their significant others, their kids, and/or their babysitters. It’s enough trouble to plan and prepare that it definitely doesn’t happen a few times a week.

Having my closet to myself. I took for granted the joy of having a closet to myself. My color-coded closet was a thing to behold, not to mention the way my laundry was the only laundry I did, so I was never behind. There was plenty of room to look through my clothes – and now the closet is so stuffed with suits and ties that I hardly have room to hang my nice dresses.

Eating whatever I want, whenever I want it. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to have to worry about what time someone else can have a meal, or to cater to their dietary needs and your own. That’s one thing I miss about being single- if I wanted cereal for dinner, I ate it. My hubby, on the other hand, would be mortified if we sat down to a dinner of Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Having truly alone time.  There’s something to be said for having some moments of relaxation, quiet time, and introversion that are completely your own. Having a SO can sometimes cut into those times, even if it’s not always in a bad way. But I often find that there isn’t a place in our home where I’m truly alone, without interruption or at least knowledge of someone else close by. I haven’t had more than a few minutes of total by-myself time in years.

5 Things Parents Do On Vacation Without Their Kids

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

My husband whisked me away last week for a whirlwind trip to NYC. There were several reasons (excuses?) for the trip, including a special concert, my recent birthday, and a desperate need of time off during a busy season, and it was well-timed and perfect. While it was short (48 hours, to be exact), it was just what we needed to relax a bit and treat ourselves before we stopped sleeping entirely.


During the trip, I noticed a few things we did simply because the kids weren’t around. Life with kids is awesome, but it’s different- no one will argue that. So on our two special days without them, here are a few things we did differently…

1. Eat all the fancy food. Of course when you’re in NYC, you get a little crazy about finding good food. But Hubby and I went to restaurants we’d never dream of taking the kids. There was no macaroni and cheese on any menu, and we ate adventurously (as is our favorite thing to do).

2. Walk quickly. The pace might be a bit quicker there, but we power-walked everywhere we went. We were able to make the most of our time (and not spend a fortune on cabs) because we could be quite quick. There were no strollers, no one hanging onto us or needing to stop and rearrange their sock. We strolled around the city, Googling and Yelping to find our next destination as we walked. It was amazingly simple and free.

3. Abandon the schedule. We are whenever we were hungry, and even if we weren’t. We stayed up really late. We stayed out the entire afternoon, whereas usually we are bound by naptime. There was nowhere to be except wherever we wanted. And most importantly…

4. Sleep late. I’ll be honest, the first morning, my body clock woke me up at 7:30. But I looked at the time, rolled over, and slept two more hours! It was glorious!

5. Call home a lot. We FaceTimed and texted my aunt (who kept the kids) a couple of times a day, just to make sure things were alright. And to share what we were up to. But not because we missed the kids. Nope. Not much.

It was a great time away, and fun to remember those things you get to do without your tiny buddies. But you sure do miss them while you’re gone.

Currently

It’s time for another little update of what’s been going on in my life! There is mostly holiday shenanigans to report, but since it’s the first Currently of the month, I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and her guest host, Kellie from the B Hive. So, here’s what I am currently…

Doing || a lot of scheduling. December is busy for everyone, but often for musicians especially. Hubby has extra gigs, I have extra rehearsals and services, and those are in addition to parties, shopping, visiting, and actually trying to stay rested, we are doing quite a lot. We’re also hopping away to NYC next week for two days of a getaway for some fancy food, a concert, and a show! We’ve never been at Christmastime so we’re excited to see a holiday-decorated NYC.

Enjoying || the weather! I love right when the weather gets cold… it’s not freezing yet, but it’s cold enough to layer up, don my boots, and add a colorful scarf. Fall truly is my favorite season.

Cooking || a little of this and that. I’m still on soups (yeah, French Onion!) but Hubby has been hitting up some major Asian flair recently (in his genes, apparently) and he’s amazing at it. Here’s a snippet of the okonomiyaki he made for lunch today.

Wrapping || lots of presents, of course! My mom was here the past couple of days, so she helped me wrap, and I helped her wrap. My shopping and wrapping is almost complete. There are only one or two things left on my list, and I have finished J’s birthday stuff, as well! (His birthday is December 28th.) I’ve had a few wrapping papers that I haven’t opened up the last couple of Christmases simply because I hate having too many rolls to try to keep together. But I finished two this year, so I opened up two more! It’s funny how new, fun wrapping paper can add some excitement to the wrapping process for me.

Playing || with Magformers with the kiddos. They’ve always loved them, but I’m so glad they are back in a phase of playing with them all the time. They’re colorful, easy to manipulate, and great for all three of the kids’ current ages. We literally sat in the hallway outside their rooms last night and played with them for almost an hour. The only problem is that since there are typically three kids playing with them at the same time, we don’t have quite enough for them all to feel like they can make a structure as big as they want to. So I got them an expansion pack “from Santa”. Typically Santa’s gifts are for all three of them, so that his gifts aren’t as cool as Mom and Dad’s!

So there you have it! What are you currently up to?

He Could Be My Son. 

Mahmoud Raslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This boy – five years old – having seen more than many children will see in their entire lives, has shocked our country into realizing and responding to the terror and violence wreaking Syria. It might have been easy to turn away from the information we get via television and the internet, when the headlines are often focused on the latest Trump-ism or Bieber folly.  But this photo, this one viral image of a dusty, bloody boy, tiny and scared, in the back of an ambulance, has been burned into my psyche. 

He could be my son. 

He could be a nephew, a neighbor, a classmate. He is all of those things, even if not my own. He is torn from his home by a futile attempt to force Syrian citizens into submission by the radical government regime. All the effort does is harm, maim, and kill. 

He could be my son. 

He could be one of hundreds, thousands. Displaced, alone, wandering. They might be hungry, thirsty, and tired. They are struggling to take even one more step towards just the possibility of freedom. 

He could be my son. 

He could be my very own boy, ripped from me by an air strike. He could be my son, and I could be torn from him by rescuers who can only save a few. He could be my son, my only possession worth saving, and I would die for him a hundred times over. He could be your son, dirtied, bruised, bloodied, scared to death. 

Silent. 

He could be my son. 

Please consider giving what you can to a local and specific relief effort. Here is a short list (there are many more!) of organizations taking donations of any size:

Karam Foundation 

Hand In Hand for Syria

Mercy Corps

Migrant Offshore Aid Station

If you can’t give, do what we can all do: pray.