Category Archives: Adventures!

Trips, Travels and Adventures

Run or Dye

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I was able to easily convince Kyle to do the Run or Dye 5k this year!  He had injured his calf so it was an easy sell when I told him we’d only be walking so we could take the kids in the wagon.  I was sure teh kids would have a blast, especially Reece because what three year-old wouldn’t want to throw colored powder at everyone and get messy himself.

 

So this morning we loaded the kids in our Radio Flyer wagon and took part in the Run or Dye 5k!

It was so much fun.  Both kids had a great time and so did we.  Kylee missed a nap because of the race so towards the end, she was over it.  Reece got out of the wagon a few times and ran with Kyle or I which was so much fun.  I absolutely love getting active with my little family; we’re definitely making memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Here are some pictures from the race (walk).

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Making plans and hoping for the best

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Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family.  The other holidays are shared within each little family or with friends but for Thanksgiving, everyone finagles their calendars to ensure we can all come together on a Thursday evening to fill our bellies with delicious turkey and all its accoutrements and simply be together.  It is a big deal and I have no plans on missing out.

This year, given that we live on an isolated formation of rocks in the middle of the ocean, getting home for the holiday is taking more planning than usual.  In addition to going home to see family in Florida for the holiday I also plan on stopping for a long layover to spend time with my Aunt and cousins who do not live in Florida and see Kyle since he will be in the middle of a long training course near where my aunt lives.

I hate making decisions and definitive plans.  There are so many factors and things that could go wrong.  With two small kids and the appropriate amount of luggage that will inevitably ensue, planning this intricate trip could take a lot of research, muscle, and sanity.

First off flights are stupid-expensive.  I am doing acrobatics trying to find flights that wouldn’t require me forfeiting one of my kids to cover the price.  I am looking at every travel planning website, individual airlines websites, and military Space-A to come up with the best course, comparing routes and finances, to ease the stress of this trip.

This brings up a whole separate list of things that can happen:

– Flight connection troubles. Delays, cancelations, or the possibility of no seats if we do Space-A.

– Renting a hotel in an unfamiliar place.

– Renting a car and driving in an unfamiliar place.

– Luggage + two small kids and I only have two hands.

– Layovers, short and long.

It seems that I also have to plan around the unknown.  Kyle will be in training and we don’t know how much time he’ll have off while we’re there.  We are flying into the airport close to my aunt so that we can spend time with her and introduce her to Kylee but also so that we can rent a car and drive to see Kyle.  If for some reason Kyle won’t be available the whole time we are there I don’t want to burden my aunt with the craziness that it my clan.  Right now it looks like Kyle will be able to spend time with us but this is the Army, nothing is ever so concrete.

The thing is I really want this to work out.  I think it would be an amazing adventure –and feat- of we can see Kyle, my aunt and cousins, and my Florida family over the Thanksgiving holiday without breaking the bank and my sanity in the process.  I can do it.  I will make it my personal mission to find flights, car rentals and hotel rooms so that this trip will work.  When the time comes I will load up our luggage and wrangle the kids using every ounce I have in me and make the best of the given situation.  It has to work out because there is no other option.

I love Sundays!

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Last night before going to bed Kyle and I discussed what our plan for today would be.  The conversation started with Kyle saying that even though it was the weekend, it would be like any other day of the week because we would still be waking up early with the kids.  I countered that argument with although we would be up early I would make breakfast and we could spend the day in our jammies watching movies; a typical lazy family Sunday.

We were awakened at 6:30 by Reece crawling into our bed asking for cartoons.  I knew we had a special hour-long Mickey saved in our DVR so I put that one on hoping to catch more Zzz’s.  He is the worst at sitting still so although I was in bed for that hour, I was anything but sleeping.  Around 7:30 Reece told me to get up so I did.

I went to the kitchen and started our Sunday morning breakfast; pancakes.  I make some pretty phenomenal pancakes using beer as a not-so-secret ingredient.  I had a Sam Adams Maple Pecan Porter so I used that for a flavor boost and I have to admit my pancakes were extra tasty today. Everyone enjoyed breakfast so I made an extra batch to freeze for the kids’ breakfast over the next week.

After breakfast we sat around on the couch catching up on the morning’s news, still in our jammies.  I couldn’t stay that way for long.  I needed to take Kylee to the store to get her her first pair of shoes and the weekend would be the best time to take her so Kyle could keep Reece.  So by 9 I was dressed and out the door.

My shopping partner in her NEW shoes!

My shopping partner in her NEW shoes!

Kylee and I made a date out of our time away from the boys.  We stopped at Ross and TJMaxx to do a little shopping for ourselves and the house.  We stopped at Payless and I picked out the cutest shoes.  I put them on her cute little feet and scooched away for her to take her first steps in shoes.  I almost cried.  She did cry.  She walked like a scooba diver on land before plopping down on her butt in frustration.  Sold!

On the drive home she kept on reaching for her feet.  She hated the shoes.  As soon as we came into the house I set her down so she could walk to daddy wearing her new shoes.  She wasn’t having it.  She plopped right back down on her butt and cried.   My little girl has grown accustomed to walking bare foot –standard for Hawaii- so making the switch will be a fight, I can already see.

But now I can switch back into the ‘lazy Sunday’ mode.  I am home for the day, don’t need anything from any store.  The kids are napping, Kyle is gaming, Mac is sleeping, and I have my feet up as I type.  I have some cleaning and laundry to do but that will get done sporadically throughout the rest of the day.  My plan is to put on some comfy clothes and read a book as I lay on the couch until the kids wake up and I am forced to move.  This is what Sundays are all about.

 

ps.  You can click that image to make it bigger to see Kylee in her stylish new shoes.

Fun Fact Friday: Hawai’i

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Since arriving on the island in late-November we have learned a lot about this chain of islands we now call home.  On the surface, living in Hawai’i could be no different than living anywhere in the US.  You’ll find most of the same stores and services you could find on the mainland.  But stay in Hawaii longer than a week and you would begin to notice how remarkably different it is living in this state.

Here are some fun facts about Hawai’I that you won’t find on Wikipedia:

– Everyone says “Aloha” not just the touristy parts of the island.

– Traditional Hawaiian words and phrases are a commonplace in everyday conversation.

– $5 for a gallon of milk is a deal.  I have seen it go for $10 in some stores

– Hawaiian (the language) has only 12 letters; A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P, and ‘okina.  So many things are named using traditional Hawaiian words so you would quick to learn the pronunciation of each letter.

– There are 137 islands that make up the state; eight major islands including O’ahu, Hawai’i, Maui, and Kaua’i.  Honolulu, the state capitol is on O’ahu.

– Honolulu makes the ranks every year as the Worst Traffic in the Nation.

– Hawai’I is also ranked as one of the Happiest Places to Live.  It is called Living with “Aloha” and for the most part, everyone is so nice.

– The average temperature year-round is high 70s-low 80s.

Wish you were here!

Wish you were here!

– Shorts, tank tops, and swim suits are considered daily clothing.

– For more formal events, khaki shorts and a white linen shirt are as dressy as most people get.

– Wave and beach conditions are higher priority than temperature forecast.

– You could drive around the whole perimeter of the island of O’ahu in four hours.

– Hawai’i has an Interstate system (H-1, H-2, and H-3) but it does not connect to another state.

– You will not find a single Chic-fil-a, Olive Garden, Kispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Chipolte, Panera, Sonic, Steak-N-Shake, or Cracker Barrel.

– You will also not find an Ikea, HomeGoods, Trader Joes, Marshalls, Kohls, or anything similar to a $1 store.

– Hawai’i is a “rabies free” state.

– There are no snakes on the island and if you see one you call a hotline and the government will dispatch a team to locate and destroy the snake.

It would be easy to stick to the “American” things that are readily available in this state, it is in fact part of America, but this state has so much to offer it would be a shame to pass up this opportunity.  So what if I can’t have Olive Garden’s salad whenever I want and who cares if a gallon of milk is more precious than gold, this is fricken paradise.

These are the top ‘facts’ that I could remember as I sat down to write this post.  I realize there is so much more to learn during our time on this island and I look forward to a few more “Fun Fact Friday: Hawai’i” posts.

Mahalo!

Started the day in a funk and how I ended it.

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The first five –awake- minutes of my day went so well.  Reece crawled into our bed so I turned on some cartoons to snag a couple more minutes of shut-eye.  Just after 7, Kylee started babbling from her room just as Kyle came home from PT.  He scooped her up, changed her, and plopped her in the bed with Reece and I.  I had my whole little family within reach; things were great!

Then something changed and I can’t pinpoint why.  I was just in a funk.  The kids were normal at breakfast, Kyle was home longer than usual, and I got a good night sleep so why I was feeling ‘down’ was unknown to me.

I didn’t go for my long walk yesterday.  Things needed to be done and I was short on time so when something had to be sacrificed, the only solution was to forgo my long walk.  I planned on walking today but I didn’t want to.  It was a good thing I set out clothes the night before and quickly got dressed before coming down stairs because if I hadn’t I probably would have passed on the walk again today with no real reason besides my mood.

After walking, enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and cool breeze I came home and quickly slipped back into the funk.  Again, the kids were good and there is no clearly identifiable reason why I would be so sour today but I was.  I set Reece in front of the TV and let him watch two episodes of Mickey as I tried to perk myself up.  I opened up the windows and picked up the house some more.  It made things a little better.

Then I remembered making plans to meet a friend and her two kids at the local splash-pad.  I dreaded it.  I lacked energy and motivation so wrestling two kids into swimwear and greasing them up in sunscreen carried no appeal for me.

But I did it.

I took the kids to the splash pad and let them be kids.  And you know what?  I changed me.  I soaked up every second.  Giggles and splashing and running and making friends and screaming and more giggles and taking in every drop of sunshine my skin would allow.

Turns out that is exactly what I needed.  I need to force myself out into the world when I am having a bad day and let my kids be kids.  And I need to pull a page from my kids’ book and just have fun.  Be a kid.  Giggle.  Realize that nothing was holding me down besides myself and isn’t that just sad?

I am happy right now; back to my old self.  I am sun-kissed and full of energy.  This is the person I should be every day and I will force myself to this state whenever I feel differently.

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14,000 feet between me and Earth.

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Shortly after Reece was born I was the first time I asked Kyle to take me skydiving.  He chuckled “no”.  For me, there was something about bringing a new life into this world made me realize I didn’t want to waste a moment of mine.

Years went by and although I broached the question to Kyle a few more times his answer never changed.  No.  He just wasn’t interested in jumping out of a plane.  I could accept that for him but for me, I knew I would jump at some point.

A few weeks ago I saw a post online by a fellow Army wife asking if anyone was interested in skydiving.  She was looking to rally enough people to haggle a group discount with the company.  I was ready to sign-up but I really wanted Kyle to jump with me.  When he came home from work that day I asked.  Without hesitation he said “yes”.  I didn’t know what it was that changed his mind but I didn’t care.  I immediately signed us up.

So we did it!  We jumped out of a perfectly good airplane!

Bright and early Saturday morning we left the kids with a friend and drove out to the jump site.  All morning I was a crazy ball of nerves.  I wanted to jump but I was still scared out of my mind.  Kyle and I kept on saying to each other “we’re going to jump out of a plane!”, a statement precariously balancing between mixed emotions.

When we arrived, most of the group was already in the classroom watching a movie.  Kyle and I hurried in, grabbed our paperwork, and filled it out as we watched.  This ‘movie’ was the epitome of an anti-pep-talk.  It was the required ‘you’re jumping at your own risk and you can’t sue us and if you die and, well, that is possible but have fun’ movie.  I can’t lie and say this didn’t have me second guessing my desire to plummet towards earth with some precautionary measures and a prayer but I was not about to chicken out.

Once the paperwork was properly filled out –again, more ‘are you really sure you want to do this?’ paperwork- we went outside to watch other skydivers and wait.  It was so surreal to see other people glide down and know that we would be doing the same thing shortly.  After a short wait our names were called; one step closer.

Kyle would be jumping with Marcelo while Casey took pictures and video.  I would be strapped to ­­­­­Robby as Cado catches it all on camera.  We all loaded up into the plane, smooshed; no more chances to back out!

It felt so strange as we climbed higher and higher.  The company guaranteed the jump would begin at an elevation of 14,000 feet or higher and they proved this with an altimeter easily visible right by the jump door.  I watched that sucker glide past the numbers as we climbed passed each thousand feet.  I remember looking out the window and giggling in disbelief.  We were going to jump out of an airplane!

When we got to the designated altitude the door opened and it was time.  My tandem master gave me a few simple instructions and we walked to the opening.  Before I have a chance to think “what the hell am I doing?!?!” we were out and free falling!  I can’t explain why –or how- but I wasn’t scared.  It was so exhilarating!  I screamed!  It was so cold but the experience was so overwhelming that I didn’t care.  I laughed and made silly face and just took it all in.  My tandem guy was awesome.  He spun us and flipped us and jerked me around.

After what seemed like we were falling forever he pulled the parachute and everything stopped.  It was eerie how quiet things became.  Robby loosened up the straps and told me to take off my goggles.  The view was incredible.  We were just under the clouds at this point so nothing was obstructing our view of the entire island.  I was fricken SKYDIVING in HAWAII!

The landing was perfect.  Robby unhooked me and Cado lead me out of the drop site.  I met back up with Kyle, gave him a kiss and we excitedly compared experiences.  We then went to a theater room where we viewed our entire jump and pictures on a huge TV.  It was such a rush reliving the jump.  We –naturally- bought the pictures and DVD of our jumps which I have already published a bunch all over my and Kyle’s Facebook page.

I don’t think I stopped giggling until we left the skydive center.

I knew I wanted to skydive at least once in my life.  I figured I would do it and be done, never wanting to go again, but I do.  I want to keep jumping out of airplanes, haha!  Kyle and I jokingly tried to come up with a plan of somehow making it a part-time weekend job; he being the tandem master and I be the camera girl.

It was such a rush.

Ps.  If anyone who visits us wants to skydive that is a-okay with us!  We’re game!

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Toby Keith Concert

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Free concert for the troops!

Free concert for the troops!

As we were getting ready to go the weather forecast didn’t project a good outcome.  By us, the skies were mostly cloudy but not really threatening rain but where we were going, it was ugly.  Kyle and I decided to throw caution to the wind and just go.  If we got there and the rain was too bad we’d figure something out, whether it be suck it up and get wet or head home and not see the show.  I was checking the skies and the internet constantly, I really wanted to watch the concert!

When asked if he would still play in the rain Toby Keith responded, “If there is anyone in the audience, I am still playing.”  He is such a good guy.

Toby Keith loves the troops. During the concert he mentioned this was his 199 or 200th free concert for the troops.  FREE!  Most were done in war zones and one show in Baghdad was attacked!  After the dust settled and everyone was okay, Toby stood up, gave the middle finger and kept on performing.  What a guy!

So we get to base and head straight for the PX to get another umbrella (or two).  The concert field is right beside the PX so parking was a pain.  I dropped Kyle off and looked for a spot while he went into the store.  He called me from inside to tell me they were completely sold out of ALL umbrellas; standard, patio, and ponchos.  I picked him back up and went back to looking for parking.  After ten or so minutes driving around the lot I finally found a spot –a pretty good one at that- and looked to the skies for a hope it would clear up enough.

45 minutes before Toby was to take the stage, the rain had reduced to a light sprinkle!  We loaded up the kids into the wagon and headed out.  Before going closer to the stage we grabbed some ono (meaning “delicious” in Hawaiian) food, and capped off our meal with some kettle corn and shave ice.  Once we were good and full we made our way closer to the stage.

We set up in a greatt location.  We weren’t close enough to recognize who was on stage but his voice made it obvious and having two small kids, we had no intentions –or desire- to be any closer.  Being far back made it better for use to set up a blanket and let Reece run for a bit.  At 7 on the nose Toby Keith was introduced and the concert began.

We danced!  We sang!  We had a great time!  Toby played a great mix of his older stuff along with the newer.  Red Solo Cup, I Love This Bar, Beer for My Horses, Made in America, Whiskey Girl, Running Block and so many more.  Kyle and I knew them all.  It was so much fun to sing and dance with the kids to songs Kyle and I have been jamming to since before they were born.

As things wrapped up it started sprinkling harder; we made our way to the truck.  Toby thanked us for coming and thanked the service members for their service and the stage went dark.  The crowds started screaming “ENCORE! ENCORE!” and as expected Toby came back out to satisfy the masses.  We tried to guess the song he would play, knowing there were some OBVIOUS ones he hadn’t played yet.  A fraction of a second into the first encore song we knew it, American Soldier.  Such a great song and so very fitting to our situation.  The concert ended appropriately with Toby playing one more song, one of his best songs –the other being his first encore song- Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue.  That song had everybody singing along and fired up; it makes you proud to be an American.

We got back to our car, changed the kids into jammies, and headed home.  It was such a good show and we had a great time.  I really respect Toby Keith because he gives back to the troops as much as he can.  Fun fact: if you show your military ID in any of his restaurants your meal is free!  This man is loaded and makes an insane amount of money when he tours but he does concerts for troops for free, and in WAR ZONES at that.  He really cares, not just says he does.  Toby Keith is an AWESOME guy who put on an AWESOME show!

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