Sunday, March 27, 2011

woman vs. wild.

Sometimes, for no reason at all, we just like to spice things up with a camping trip. When it's summer time in March and your husband is dying to get outdoors, you take your free weekends and run. And that is exactly what I was told we would be doing last weekend. On Wednesday. But it turns out that my husband didn't just plan any old camping trip. He planned a Cari Camping Trip!

What does a Cari Camping Trip include? Well, a trip to a state park in Destin, Florida, which is about an hour away. We also planned on going to the nice mall in Destin, which has a Sephora and Forever 21. Yes, Cari Camping includes malls. We packed food and adult beverages, (another staple of Cari Camping) and headed out.

R hit with me some news on the way out. He wanted to stop at Florida's highest point along the way. What?! Wasn't that going to require a hike and sweating? I only brought flats and I didn't want to mess up my makeup! Well, that sneaky husband of mine knew that Florida's highest point is simply a parking lot with this marker in it. Because hiking would've put a serious cramp in my style. Besides, I'd be doing plenty of hiking later, at the mall...

Just when I thought I couldn't get any happier cause I'd dodged having to hike, we drove past a little winery and R suggested we check it out! A winery! I didn't even know there were any wineries in Florida and here we were going to one on our camping trip! He told me I deserved after that grueling hike up to Florida's highest point. This trip was getting better and better.

We finally got to our campsite and settled in. We brought pretty much every blanket and comforter from home to stick in the tent and even brought pillows. We had an iPod dock for music, lots of firewood, and ice cold beer. R made a yummy dinner and we had s'mores. There was even a bathroom with showers just down the road from our site! Sacagewea was a happy camper.

The next morning, we took our french press coffee, (no instant crystals for this outdoors girl) over to the beach for a little early morning walk. I mean, we had to spend at least some time in the actual outdoors.

The weather was gorgeous, so after we packed up, we drove over to a beautiful little town called Seaside. It's a master-planned beach community that is so lovely and quaint. It's also where most of The Truman Show was filmed, so that was interesting. Just look at their population.

It was a such a good weekend. I know it was a real sacrifice for R, whose idea of camping includes dehydrated food, and going to the bathroom in the woods, and doing the kinds of activities that would make Bear Grylls proud, but it was a nice treat for me! The bad news is I might be permanently spoiled for real camping...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a new chapter.

I couldn't have made up a more relaxing Sunday if I'd tried. We woke up nice and late and went to church, (our church starts at 10:45, God bless it). We soaked up the gorgeous weather and washed our cars, went on a hike, and grilled out. Now I'm waiting for some cheesecake to set while I write this post.

A day that starts with sleeping in and ends with cheesecake is a day I would relive over and over again.

So while my cheesecake is setting, I thought I would fill you all in the latest news in our life. I mentioned a few posts ago that there was some news about R's Navy future, but I couldn't blog about it until we had some more details. Details are in and here's the scoop.

R is being re-designated to a different Officer community. For security reasons, I can't give any more details than that. His school is in Virginia Beach, so that's where we'll be headed for approximately for a while. We leave around June for Virginia and after that we have no idea. He is excited about the prospects in this community and just excited to have an idea of what's next. We've essentially been waiting since October to find out what our future holds, and it's good to feel like we're not just floating around the Navy anymore. We're also both excited to live somewhere new. We have friends and connections in Virginia, and it'll be nice to see some familiar faces and have a sense of community again.

Thank you to everyone who thought of us and prayed for us while we were in the tough season of R getting out of flight and the season of waiting that followed. We are eager to see what God has in store for us in this new chapter of our lives and in R's career.

I will, of course, continue updating you all along the way!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

you and me... and celine dion.

Last Saturday night, R and I found ourselves laying on the floor of a hotel banquet room in Alabama with nothing but our pillows and candlelight, answering questions like, "Where do you see your marriage in 5, 10, and 15 years?" Not our typical Saturday night, indeed.

Last weekend we went to a marriage retreat at a resort on Perdido Beach. You see, R found out the the Navy offers these retreats free of charge for active duty military, and when we hear the words 'resort' and 'free of charge' in the same sentence, we're in. I was looking forward to something a little less rustic than the last free thing the Navy offered us. Plus, We never turn down an opportunity to learn a little more about how to improve our marriage, so it was on! We packed up and drove the 50 minutes or so to our beautiful hotel along the beach and settled in for a weekend of free meals, beautiful beach scenery, and unexpected surprises.

The weekend consisted of group time where we discussed different topics, then had some exercises to practice as a couple. A lot of these exercises were interesting and beneficial. We discussed love languages, (R's is gift-giving and mine is words of affirmation) did the Myers-Briggs personality temperaments, (R is a 'doing what should be done' type and I'm a 'smooth talking persuader' type) and talked about needs vs. expectations. Mostly we enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. Except for some super corny moments when we had to bite our tongues and try and get through it. Like Friday night.

Friday night, as the Chaplain was wrapping up the session, he asked us to turn our chairs and sit knee to knee with our spouse. Then he asked us to look into each others eyes and don't speak, just listen to the words in the song he was about to play. Then he turned on Celine Dion.

Yes, Celine Dion.

This exercise taught us a lot about our relationship. It taught us that R, despite how lame he thinks something is, will still follow rules, especially when the Chaplain can see him. Cari, the smooth talking persuader on the other hand, who is facing away from the Chaplain, will try not to laugh, she will roll her eyes, make faces at R to get him to laugh, and generally act up because while her marriage can always use improvement, what it can do without is Celine Dion.

And if we thought that exercise brought us closer, we were in for a real treat on Saturday night. Again, as Chaps was wrapping up the evenings session, he instructed us to go to our rooms and bring back two pillows, a blanket, and if we wanted, we could slip into our pajamas. (We did not slip into our pajamas because if pajamas were acceptable clothing for being in public, I wouldn't need to change out of them in the morning before I left my house). When we came back to the meeting room with our pillows, all the chairs had been cleared away and the room was lit by little candles on the floor. We were told to find an area with a candle next to it, and get comfy. We could only get so comfy on the floor of a hotel banquet room, and when we did, we were told to answer a series of questions to each other. The questions started out mundane and just got deeper and deeper. And we started out generally well behaved, and just got more and more slap happy.

Well when you take two kids who aren't thrilled about laying on the ground and tell them to ask each other a bunch of super deep, intense questions, what you get is a fit of laughter. And you know how when you aren't supposed to laugh, so it makes you crack up even more? Yea, that happened...

The view of the Gulf from our balcony.

Our introductions. We were the second youngest marriage, and definitely the youngest couple.

A group exercise.

Group photo at the end of the weekend.

Here's the thing; even though some of the exercises were super cheesy and we weren't totally on board the whole time, we actually had a blast. Most of the sessions spurred interesting conversations and a better understanding of each other. It was nice to spend a whole weekend focused solely on improving our communication and spending quality time together.

And at the end of the day, if we're growing closer by laughing at Celine Dion and "intimate" talks on the floor of a hotel, we're still growing closer.

And nothing will make you laugh more than Celine Dion.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

won't you be my bridesmaid?

I got the sweetest mail the other day.

I opened up an envelope to find this little card.

You can't tell, but it's sparkly. Then I unfolded it to see this.

Some pictures of me and Megan, one of my very best friends. I recently blogged that she got engaged to her boyfriend Matt. She sent me this sweet card with pictures and a note asking me to be her Matron of Honor! Not only am I thrilled to be a part of her big day, but I think this is one of the nicest, most creative ways to ask your friends to be bridesmaids!

Of course, I would have agreed even if she'd asked me over a text message, but this will always be a great keepsake. Love you, Megan!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time.

This past weekend, my oldest friend in the world, Erin and her husband Larry, came for a little visit. We had a great time showing them around our Southern neck of the woods. In addition to checking out the Naval Aviation Museum, stopping at the beach to dip our toes in the Gulf, and taking them to our favorite places to get a beer, we ventured to New Orleans for a little something called Mardi Gras.

Our plan was to show them around the French Quarter, check out the party on Bourbon Street, and finally end up on Canal Street to watch the famed Krewe of Bacchus parade, one of the biggest, most spectacular parades of the whole Mardi Gras season.

We started at the Roosevelt Hotel with the Official Cocktail of New Orleans, the Sazerac. We eventually made our way to Bourbon St. for the unofficial drink of New Orleans, the Hurricane!

By this time, the party on Bourbon St. was starting to gear up. There were people everywhere. It gets blocked off, so the whole street becomes one big party.

If you zoom in, you can see there are people on the balconies above the crowd. This is where people are throwing beads from. As we walked along, we would yell and wave our hands and people would throw them down. The traditional phrase is, "Please throw me something, mister!" Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to do anything scandalous to get beads. And while, of course, there are still people who do, some locals we talked to said that this only happens on Bourbon Street and is both frowned upon and can get you arrested anywhere outside the Quarter.

The real bead fun was when we got to the parade on Canal Street. The parade floats are so impressive and they're full of people with masks who throw out beads and other trinkets specific to the krewe.

The Krewe of Bacchus' parade theme this year was "Bacchus Salutes America's Greatest Generation", so lots of the floats were WWII themes.

They also had a few signature floats including this guy, The Bacchagator! The guy next to us was prepared with his Bacchagator hat on. They throw out special beads and plastic cups, stuffed animals, and coins with the krewe logo on it, called dubloons. Legend has it that another krewe, the Krewe of Zulu, throws out golden coconuts and they are one of the most valuable things to get at a parade.

Once the parade was over, we walked up Canal to find our friend, the shuttle driver, and this was the wreckage.

This was only Sunday, I can't imagine what Tuesday night's garbage clean up was like!

This, along with two cups, a t-shirt, and a little stuffed green puppy dog, was the loot we took home. This might not look like much, but it's got to be like 20lbs of beads.

This crawfish necklace was my fave that I caught. What's better than jewelry with sparkly seafood on it?

We had a great time and we were glad to check the experience off our Bucket List. We were also glad to be able to share it with some Northern friends. And as the saying goes, "Laissez les bon temps rouler!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

you like me! you really like me!

I got my first blog award! SEJ at Midwest to Northwest awarded me with a Stylish Blogger Award! I hardly consider myself all that stylish, seeing as my daily uniform consists of jeans and a t-shirt, but really, who am I to argue?

I guess as an "acceptance speech", you have to share seven things about yourself. You also have to nominate 15 other bloggers, but I am going to skip that part because I don't know enough bloggers. (And a little bit because R is making burgers and I still have a lot of laundry to do and that means I can't sit and blog all night long.) So, here's seven things about yours truly.

1. I have a Target credit card. It was the best, and then quickly became the worst, decision I ever made.

2. Today I discovered bleach. I don't know why I would ever buy another cleaning product in my life because I'm now convinced there is nothing bleach cannot do. And the smell makes me think things are so clean you could eat off them.

3. When I was little I used to lick my lips so bad there was a bright red ring around my lips. I wish I could say I have no pictures of this, but the truth is there are too many to choose from. Even my parents made fun of me and called it my Kool Aid Mustache.

4. My best friends are some of the most amazing women. A future lawyer, a to-be chef, a magazine editor, and a dialysis tech. If they weren't so gosh darn supportive of me all the time, I would feel like a total loser around them.

5. Right now, I am drinking a beer called Sweet Water Blue and it has become my new favorite beer. At first sip, it tastes a little like Fruit Loops. Go ahead, try some and you'll go, "Ohmigosh! She's totally right!"

6. When I was in 5th grade, we had to do a project about different North American Indian tribes and I chose the Apache Indians. We had to bring in an example of a traditional dish of our tribe. Michael, whose dad owned a bunch of McDonald's and drove a BMW, brought in venison jerky. My dad bought me a big bag of Corn-Nuts and put them in a bowl and told me to call it maize.

7. My oldest and dearest friend, Erin is coming to visit this weekend with her wonderful husband Larry and that makes me real happy. This is also why I have to do laundry, however.

So, with that, I will end my "acceptance speech"! Thanks for the award SEJ!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

our excellent adventure.

What do you get when you take two stir crazy Wisconsin kids who are experiencing the warmest February weather they've ever experienced in their lives? You get a spur of the moment canoe and camping trip this past weekend! R found out that he could rent outdoor equipment through MWR and took advantage of it. It's a good thing he did, because the program is brand new so they let us rent everything free of charge, as long as we took lots of pictures and spread the word to other military folks in the area. So we did and we will!

The weather was so beautiful this weekend. In case you haven't been paying attention to my constant bragging, it's wonderfully warm and sunny around these parts lately and this weekend was no exception. So, we dusted off the tent, gathered up our gear, and headed up to the Blackwater River. We set out on Saturday morning after the program coordinator dropped us off, and consistent with R's outdoor tradition, we took an "into the wild" picture.

We've both kayaked before, but neither of us have ever canoed to a destination. We've only canoed around a lake for an hour or so. We thought that was ample preparation for a 20 mile canoe trip back to our car. We were in for some fun, let me tell you.

I insisted on calling myself Sacagewea pretty early on. Consequently I also insisted on speaking in the third person. We would get stuck on a sand bar and I would proceed to assure R that Sacagewea had it under control.

Much to his delight I also insisted on calling him Clark. Some things are just standard operating procedure when you find yourself in a canoe.

The first day wasn't so bad. We managed to push through for about 4 hours before Sacagewea decided she was tired, her arms were starting to ache, and she wanted Taco Bell. So we found a nice little sand bar and set up camp for the evening.

What was nice about this little trip is that while we think it's summer, the locals know it's still winter. That made the river nice and quiet and our campsite felt very secluded and private. It was so strange to actually notice the sound of a far off car or plane in all the quiet. We had a nice dinner of Velveeta shells, R built a fire, and we enjoyed a very quiet evening of conversation and star gazing on the Blackwater River.

However, once we turned in for the night and snuggled into our sleeping bags, Sacagewea's inner city girl was wide awake. R drifted off in to a sound sleep, while I was suddenly hyper-aware of every single noise outside our tent. Sometime in the middle of the night I heard what was obviously a bear or panther walking right outside our tent! I shook R awake, scared out of my mind, and he peeked outside the tent with a flashlight and saw what was probably a raccoon...on the other side of the river. He calmed me down and told me that there are no bears or panthers in the Panhandle and he went back to sleep.

I tossed and turned for a few hours (I will add, so that you can feel sufficiently sorry for me, that my sleeping pad had leaked out all it's air and I slept most uncomfortably on the hard ground). Shortly before daybreak I heard it. This time it sounded a little like scurrying and it was seriously RIGHT OUTSIDE of my side of the tent. I laid there, whispering to myself that it was nothing, like someone from a freaked out Blair Witch scene, and then I heard it again. This time, trying for some semblance of calm, I gently woke R up and told him something was outside the tent. He listened and sure enough he heard it, too. It only sounded like a small something, so he assured me that it was probably a rabbit or squirrel, nothing that could harm me. Well, I was way too jacked up on images of an angry deer or a rare Florida panhandle bear trampling our tent to get anymore sleep, so I laid there as the sun slowly rose, all the while the scratching, scurrying noise was gently continuing.

After an hour or so, R finally woke up (on his own, not via crazy wife). We laid in our sleeping bags; him, rested and refreshed; me, wide-eyed and strung out. As we laid there, I looked over to my wall of the tent and noticed something rubbing against the nylon... Long grass. That's right, you heard me. Long grass. Long grass that had been rubbing against the nylon, making sort of a scratching noise that a hyped up city girl with visions of bear attacks dancing through her mind may have mistaken for an animal just outside her tent. First, I felt like an idiot, then I felt all the exhaustion of 4 or 5 hours of restless sleep catching up to me. Then I remembered the other 8 miles we still had to canoe, and I almost cried a little. Instead, I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back, my sweet husband had the camera in hand and *click* this glamor shot was born.

That look stayed on my face for about the next hour. And yes, R laughed at me for being a crazy weirdo all night long. I think his exact words were, "What did you think was going to happen to you, exactly?" And yes, I'll admit I deserved it.

Despite my wild night, we had a nice early morning breakfast. We enjoyed oatmeal and coffee, and stayed snuggled up in the tent until it was time to pack up.

Actually, Sunday morning was my favorite part of the trip. We were packed up and pushing off by 7:30 and the river was so still and quiet. It was so beautiful and serene to paddle along in silence. Every once in a while we'd hear a turtle on a nearby log splash into the water, and then silence again. It's so rare that we're ever surrounded in total silence and, especially after my noisy night, I soaked it up.

After about 4 hours, we got to the state park where our car was parked. It couldn't have come sooner. Our arms, which had only paddled us around a lake before, were seriously aching and our butts were sore from sitting on canoe benches for the last 2 days. (I use the terms "we" and "our" loosely. As evidenced below, Sacagewea took frequent breaks.)

No. My paddle isn't even in the water for effect. I was past the point of pretending. Luckily, after 20 miles, R's strong muscles got us back to our car and we packed up and drove home. With the exception of my Night of Terror, we had a wonderful time. It was everything a trip into the outdoors should be; we spent time in God's creation enjoying the solitude, we pushed ourselves past what we thought we could do physically, and we enjoyed each others company.

And, of course, we learned to appreciate what we usually take for granted. Like beds. And toilets. And Taco Bell. And walls that block out noise. Do I need to go on?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

i'm so excited and i just can't hide it.

There have been some exciting things happening around here lately!

First, and least exciting as it happens every year around this time, was my birthday! Yesterday, I turned 25. If my birthday was any indication of how the year is going to be, I can't wait. I made myself blueberry pancakes for breakfast and went and got a pedi and lunch with a friend. R got me a book on photography and a nice bottle of wine, and took me out Red Lobster, my favorite place to go for my birthday since I was probably 8. I also got lots of phone calls all day from people who showered me with love. All in all, a great day!

Me, exactly 25 years ago.

But, there's something even more exciting! I've been dying to blog about this, and now it's finally public info, so I can. My brother Brad and sister-in-law Valerie are expecting a baby boy at the end of July! R and I are going to be an aunt and uncle times two! I'm so happy to see our family growing. They're still tossing around ideas for names, but so far Noah's vote is to name the baby Sonic Star Jackson, (Jackson is the baby's last name, in case that wasn't clear). I don't know, it has a certain ring to it. I'm sure I'll update more happenings concerning being an Auntie.

Who wouldn't want another one of these?

And finally, the most recent of the exciting news is that yesterday, one of my best friends Megan, got engaged! Her now-fiance, Matt tied the ring around their dog Jax's collar for her to find. After he popped the question and she said yes, he whisked her off for a romantic evening to celebrate. I am so happy for them because they are some of the most laid back, fun-loving people we know, so, not only is their wedding going to be a blast, but I know they are going to have such a great marriage. Congrats Megan and Matt!

There's also one more exciting thing, but since we are still waiting on some details, I'm a little reluctant to blog about it yet. But I will give you a hint: It has something to do with R's career and where we're headed next. I promise to update as soon as things become a little more concrete, though, don't worry!

Whew! Didn't I tell you there was lots of excitement?