Our slumber party was a hit and I'm not even sure how late Michaela and I stayed awake!  If I started to get sleepy, she was wide awake.  If she started to get sleepy, I was wide awake.  Finally, we conked out at some mystery hour.

Michaela and Jonny went down for a luxury buffet breakfast this morning, we have been stuffing our faces and Ironman and I couldn't eat one more thing.  As soon as they returned to the rooms, we hopped in the hobbit car and drove almost around the entire Donegal area today!

We started by trying to visit the Glenveagh National Park and castle, but it was closed until Jan. 2nd.  Jonny was skeptical about driving "so far" to see the cliffs, even though they are said to be the Grand Canyon of Ireland.  But, we kept driving "just a wee bit" up the road until we decided we might as well go all of the way to the cliffs.  Apparently they aren't used to huge road trips like we are over in the USA!

We stopped to have a late lunch at the Bay View Hotel in Killybegs.  I had fish and chips again, while the other three had the "small" lunch (it was huge) with meat, potatos, rice, gravy and veggies. 

We continued to drive through what looked like the shire of the hobbits and I kept confusing Donegal with Diagon Alley when I was talking (too much Harry Potter).  We finally made it to the cliffs, called Sliabh Liag.  It was breathtaking!!!

It was a steep hike to the top, but the view was totally worth it!!!  Of course I had to whine a wee bit and Ironman helped me climb by pushing me up by my armpit (as demonstrated in the photo above).  It didn't really feel good, but I wasn't going to complain!

It's so crazy because Jonny and Michaela have lived here all these years and have never seen this part of the country!  I know that Ironman and I haven't seen all of the USA, but we got to Donegal in just two hours!!!  Needless to say, Jonny was so happy that we convinced him to take the drive today:)

As the day was coming to an end, Jonny started to worry that we hadn't had any drama for the daily blog post.  But then, as we were taking photos on the cliffs, Michaela slipped and fell backwards in the mud.  However, she was so concerned about the iPhone that she sacrificed herself and saved the phone from the mud by falling on her back and keeping the phone up in there air.  So, then we were all happy to have had some drama.  If you had seen Michaela fall, it would have made your day...I laughed so hard, I almost wet my pants!  Why am I never videoing stuff at the right now.  I would have won millions on America's Funniest Videos by now.  Ugh, too bad.  Right place, right time, not prepared.

Guinness Meat Pie for dinner and another trip to the dirty sauna, then we came back to the hotel rooms to crash.  

Tomorrow we are returning to Belfast and going to a Ceili for New Years!!!  


Road Trip!!!!

Apparently, Jonny found my blog last night and said that he is scared because I'm brutally honest...so he is being very careful NOT to end up on the blog again:).  He said that he is officially one of my blog followers now, so this one is dedicated to Jonny:)

After waking up this morning, we took off bright and early for two nights in Donegal!  It's supposed to be beautiful here, but we have only been inside the hotel room so far, because of the rain.  Since we had to go over into Ireland, we went ahead and got gas and snacks in Northern Ireland.  Everything is so expensive for eating out so we stocked up on chips, sandwiches, cookies, etc.  Plus, Jonny didn't have a swimsuit so we had to shop around until he eventually found one in TKMaxx.  I started out this morning in an outfit with black hose, but I was freezing!  I had to buy some sweater tights and change in the TKMaxx bathroom:).  It's crazy how much warmer I was!!!

The drive was so scenic as we drove through the countryside...everytime we go overseas, I am amazed at what views people are used to every day.  But then again, over here, they think that America is magical.   Guess the grass is always greener on the other side!  But really, I think it's greener over here:)

We arrived at the Clanree Hotel before our room was ready so we had Fish and Chips at the pub (always wanted to say that)!  

Yum!!!  The green stuff on the left is mashed up peas...it was surprisingly good, even though it looked questionable.

Once we got our rooms, we changed to our swimsuits and went down to the "Leisure Center".  It was so dirty and Michalea was horrified because the womens dressing room was one huge changing room:). The showers have the push knobs that turn on for a few seconds until they pop back out and the lockers don't have locks!  The wet sauna about steamed us alive, the whirlpool cooled us down and the dry sauna was "just right".  We actually met a man, while in the sauna, who's wife is from Michaela's church!!!  It's a small world no matter where you are in it:). We would have swam in the pool, but you weren't allowed to swim without purchasing and wearing a swim cap!!!  What?!?!?!?!  So, we might sport the swim caps tomorrow, but we didn't do it today.

So we are back in our hotel rooms.  Michaela and I will have a slumber party in our room and Nick and Jonny can't wait to snuggle in theirs:).  They are just missing their whole roll of toll house cookie dough.  The weather is so awful that the guys went across the street to get snacks.  

So we are pigging out and Nick finally got his Irish whiskey:).  It's pouring rain right now, but we are hoping tomorrow is dry enough to be able to see Donegal!!!



Who knew the same word could mean something so different!  Our time in Northern Ireland was definitely a learning experience...

Nick and Emily-the Americans
Hot Tea with milk-white tea
I don't care-couldn't be bothered
Master bedroom-ensuite
Stag-bachlor party
Hen party-bachelorette party
Crazy-buck daft
Went crazy-had a kitten
In the middle of nowhere-arse end of nowhere 
Y'all-yous ones
Grilled sandwich-toasties
Yield-give way
Tank top-vest
Underwear-pants (this one always gets us)
Cell phone-mobile phone
Gas station-garage
Swimsuit-bathing costume 



We left for a day in the city this morning around 9:30am.  Ironman, Jonny and Rachel went to get breakfast at Franky & Bennys, which is supposed to be an American breakfast because you can order pancakes and fried things...haha.  While they were eating, Michaela and I went to Castle Court to meet her cousin for bridesmiad dress shopping.  That was over so quickly since her cousin bought the first dress she tried!

We went over to get the guys and Rachel and all headed over to the Victoria Square for shopping.  While there, we climbed to up to the Dome to see a 360 degree view of the city of Belfast!!!

Ironman and I went off on our own to do a tour on a city bus and were able to see so much more of the city than by foot.  We saw all sorts of old buildings and streets that we honestly have no idea what we were looking at...but still enjoyed it!

There were just so many buildings and the tour guide spoke so quickly.  Plus, when she would say "the building on the right" and there were 13 buildings on the right, it was hard to know which one she was talking about.  The old courthouse looked like it has been bombed...

There is a tunnel that goes under the street from this courthouse to the jail...we might go tour the jail another day.  And to the Titanic museum!

We saw the Parliament buildings (the Stormont) and the different neighborhoods of the Catholics and Protestants, separated by the Peace Wall.  The wall must have been 30 feet high!  It's crazy that the country was at war against itself for 30 years and now they are all trying to live together in peace.  

The tour really was fun and the tour guide was hilarious.  She was cracking jokes on herself the entire time...and the Scottish...and the English...and the Canadians...not the Americans, though...yay!!!  That's the first time ever!!!

By the end of the tour, the bus didn't want to return to the city center because of heavy traffic, so they dropped us somewhere and we got lost!!!  We had to use the bathroom SOOOOooooo bad and couldn't find a toilet or our way back to our friends.  We walked around until we recognized the TKMaxx (yes, t K maxx instead of tjmaxx) sign and eventually found the street where we boarded our tour.  Michaela saw us and was freaking out, calling my name and waving frantically.  Apparently, Jonny and Michaela found out the tour wasn't returning us to the correct location and we all had no way of contacting each other!!!

Once everyone calmed down, we met up with Jonny's best man, Warren, and had dinner at a Chinese buffet.  I'll sum it up...I found a hair in my food and then saw the chef wiping his nose with the nastiest hanky I've ever seen, putting it back in his pocket and returning to his cooking without washing his hands...yea...true story...

Isn't this mall neat! It is outdoors, but parts of the roof are covered in glass so it feels like we are indoors, except it's still freezing!!!

We met up with some friends from when we used to live on the ship, the Logos Hope.  Sam and Danielle are the photographers/videographers for the wedding and had to go over some of the details with Jonny and Michalea.  The whole evening, Michaela kept saying to Jonny that he needed to move the car, but he kept saying that it would be ok.  So, by the time we got to the car, we were locked out of the parking lot!!!  We tried to break the lock, pick the lock, considered climbing over the fence and under the fence, but because of the surveillance cameras, we were scared.  We called Jonny's friend Warren to come back and pick us up.  Every car in this entire country is the size of a smart car (the largest car by far has been a honda crv) and all six of us had to smash in for the ride home.  At least Warren was able to come back for us or we would have had to walk hours to get back home since Michaela lives out in the country and there are no buses.

We made it home and had a picnic on the floor of the living room...and more Schloer:)

So, they speak English here, but it can be confusing...here are some translations:

Grilled sandwich-toasties
Yield-give way
Tank top-vest
Underwear-pants (this one always gets us)
Cell phone-mobile phone

I guess this will be a running list as I learn new words:)

Honestly, all of the views, the countryside, the streets, the stores and the accents make me feel like I am in a Harry Potter movie!!!

Tomorrow we head to Donegal for two nights at a fancy hotel for some R&R with Jonny and Michaela!  It's a three hour trip and they are dreading it...they say it's the longest road trip ever:)

See you tomorrow!!!


Down Time

I forgot to tell y'all this yesterday, but the dinner was so different than our American family holiday dinners.  We had food that was so fresh and "real"...no casseroles or anything that left you unsure of the ingredients.  You would never have had to ask, "how'd you make this?" or "what's in this?".  It was mashed potatoes, green peas, onions, beets and carrots and a shrimp coctail.  I'm seriously not sure if they even added salt and pepper...each part of the meal was exactly as you find it in the fresh aisle of the grocery store!  The meat was a piece with one layer ham, one layer stuffing and one layer chicken (at least that's what it looked like).  Then the dessert was three options: pavlova, some cherry thing and something like cream filled bread...even the desserts didn't taste like they had sugar!  So weird...everything seemed very bland, but very good at the same time.  We ended with tea/coffee and shortbread cookies.  But everyone was crazy about a drink called Schloer...it is like an alcohol free fruity, fizzy champagne.  Apparently they only have it at Christmas, so they were all really excited to have it:). And the other thing they loved were these gifts called "crackers".  With another person, we would pull them apart at the ends, jump when they cracked open so loudly and then claim our prize that would fly out:). Nick got ear phones and I got a keychain!

So we went to do bed last night around 9pm and didn't fully wake up until 12pm today!!!  That's 15 hours of sleep!!!  We woke up a lot during the night though because there was a HUGE storm...I thought that the windows were going to bust out!!!  Also, Nick and I kept waking up at the exact same time, needing to use the bathroom.  I think we were so jet lagged that we were delirious!!!  Nick, at one time, turned on the lights and started searching the room, the bed, under the bed and even the power cords for something.  I kept asking him what he was looking for.  He kept getting so mad at me (even giving me the death look)  and he kept saying "I keep telling you and you don't understand...I don't know how else to make you understand"....ok???!!!  So I helped him search for a while for who knows what and then convinced him to find it in the morning.  He finally went back to bed and told me in the morning that he remembers doing that during the night, but that he had been confused between his dreams and reality and has no idea what he was looking for, but that it had something to do with a blanket.  Funny!  Plus, each time we woke up (three times), I had taken off my pajama pants and socks and thrown them in different places in the room...so I kept having to turn on the lights and search for my clothes...I was so confused and couldn't figure out what was happening!!!  Such a weird night for both of us!!!!

This was our view from our bedroom window when we woke up this morning...

Beautiful, isn't it?!?!?!?!  They have this view every day!!!  

Once we got up and laid around for a while, Michaela's dad decided to make everyone "an ulster fry" for breakfast.  We had no idea what they were talking about (because they kept asking "do you want fries?"), but after about an hour we had pancakes, fried toast, fried potato bread (not our type of potato bread in the USA), beans, bacon, tiny sausages and all served on plates that he had heated in the microwave!!!  Of course it was all served on fancy plates, with tea served in a teapot or coffee from a French press...everything seems so classy!!!  We laid around all afternoon, having tea and coffee and snacks, while watching movies.  We watched Despicable Me 2 (hilarious), Downton Abbey (which apparently people in the UK do not watch) and some movie with Tom Hanks and his ship being taken over by pirates.

It's after midnight here and we are going to Belfast to shop for bridesmaids dresses in the morning!  So, goodnight!


Boxing Day in Belfast

So, Jonny and Michaela picked us up at the Dublin airport this morning at 9am.  Nick confessed that our flight from Philly to Dublin was the worst flight in his entire life (so far)!!!  It wasn't MY worst, but it was up there.  The drive from Dublin to Belfast took about 1.5 hours, which to Michaela is equal to an all day road trip!!! Crazy.  She would die on one of Nick and my type road trips!!!

As soon as we arrived at Michaela's parents house, we were served a "snack".  It was a boiled egg in a fancy bowl with a spoon, another fancy plate with two pieces of cut and buttered toast with a fork and knife (still used my fingers...) and home made pumpkin spice latte coffees!!!  We visited until it was time to go to Michaela's grandparents' home for Boxing Day dinner, which is their yearly tradition.  We ate so well and when I was stuffed beyond happiness, Michaela's grandfather brought me more dessert, even when I said "no thank you"!  

The entire morning/afternoon dragged on as we tried to force ourselves to stay awake until at least 9pm tonight.  We have now been awake for 32 hours!  Until we pass out, we are watching Home Alone with Michaela (the bride), Jonny (the groom) and Rachel (maid of honor/sister of the bride).  I tried to take a photo...

It is beautiful here, but I have no photos to prove it yet...we will see what tomorrow holds:)



It's Christmas in Killarney

Okay...well...it's the day AFTER Christmas...and we aren't in Killarney...but, that was basically the only time I will probably ever be able to use that title in a blog post...so I did:). We are getting ready to land in Dublin and I figured that's close enough!

The Philly airport really didn't have that many options for food...well any good looking options, that is.  The Chick-Fil-A was closed for Christmas, there was no Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts was sold out except for one crusty doughnut...no thank you.  So we went to the Healthy Market and got a salad and a wrap and had a picnic on the floor.  I was under the assumption (you know what they say about assuming...) that the airports would be like ghost towns on Christmas Day, but they were packed!  We had to search for a good floor seat and a plug to charge this iPhone!!!  Charging this iPhone is TOP priority...can't leave y'all hangin'...right?!!?!?!?!

On Christmas Eve my Grandaddy got a phone call from a man that he hasn't spoke to since somewhere in 1950!!!  It was an old roommate.  Then Christmas morning, we got a phone call from Medehen!  She lived with us while we were living in Ethiopia...I haven't spoken to her in 19 years and she sounded exactly the same:). Random facts, I know, but I wanted to add them...and it's MY blog...so I can:).  Nick would tell me to edit that last sentence out, but he's not reading this right now.

Thinking about Ethiopia makes me remember the good ole days of travel.  We would pack those XL duffle bags and had a weight limit of 70 lbs...AND each person could bring two of those enormous bags, plus their normal carry-on and purse and/or briefcase.  I also remember getting several meals/snacks/drinks per flight, good pillows, real blankets and little toiletry bags with eye masks, socks, earphones, chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste and lotion.  Boy has international travel gone downhill...take it from a pro, we are all getting ripped off!  THIS trip is our most rigid yet!  The airline has the size and weight of the bags down to no bigger than our old carry-ons.  The pillows lost their fluff, the blankets shrunk and lost their warmth (unless I keep my knees hooked under my two front teeth that I got for Christmas...or you're 3.5 years old...then you're good!), the earphones have to be requested, the toiletry bags have totally disappeared, and the edible items---we won't even go there:(.  I even got to ride in the cockpit with the pilots on a flight from Germany to Ethiopia, as a little girl...never ever never would that happen now!  Anyway, If I wasn't a claustrophobic maniac and Nick wasn't a giant, travel would be wonderful!  Just kidding, I DO love to travel, but I tend to lean towards meltdowns and temper tantrums...Nick (of course) always remains calm and reminds me "this is a small thing in the large picture" or "it's not about the destination, but the journey"...seriously, how can someone always be so patient, so sweet, so calm, so positive...?!  That's why God put us together...when I'm a crackhead, Nick puts me in my place.  This is not a joke.  I'm serious.  Let's move on.

This is what we looked like two flights in with the longest yet to go...almost dead.

So we got on the flight from Philly to Dublin...let me sum it up, very crowded, old plane, dirty feeling/looking (due to oldness), children crying, two VERY giddy/giggly/loud/excited girls next to us in the back of the plane.  Meltdown began and I pulled out my oils to handle the situation before I did something I would later regret.  The girl in the aisle next to me says "I smell Thieves! Can I have a drop?"...yup...I shared my oils on the plane with a total stranger!!! 

So we are now decending into Dublin.  It's 2:45am in Florence, SC and we have yet to sleep (not for a lack of trying)!  We look like death...not warmed up at all...I actually have a dread lock forming on the back/underside of my hair...you'd think this was going to be a bad day.  BUT, we have gum, our loved ones love us no matter how scary we look/act AND we are landing in Dublin, Ireland...it's going to be a good day (and we are going to sleep goooooooooddddddd tonight!!!)!!!!

Good morning everyone!!!!

We're Leavin' on a Jet Plane

...but we know when we'll be back again!!!

Woke up this morning, washed a last minute load of clothes, opened gifts and stockings, had Christmas breakfast with family and said "see ya later"...

We are at the Florence airport waiting for our flight to Charlotte.  I have a front row seat and I'm soaking up vitamin D...it might be the only vitamin D I get until we return on Jan 16th:)

On the way to the airport, Maggie downloaded Instagram to my iPhone after years of begging me to "get with it"...so now you will all have new and improved photos from me along our journey.  Maggie sold me when she said "it will make your Blog better"!!!

So...our next stop is Charlotte, then Philly and finally, Dublin.  I'll see you on the other side!!!


Merry Christmas Eve

So I got my December oils order!!! Yay!!!  If you ordered one from me, you'll be getting it ASAP!!!

And here is what you were waiting for:

Yes, we are packing again...life is short and our bucket list is big!!!  We are off to visit Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland!!!  Stay tuned for daily travel updates:)


Happy Anniversary To Us!

     So, today we are celebrating our 6th anniversary!  Yes, six years!  It has flown by!  Each anniversary has been exciting in a different way...this one is exciting because we have just moved into our first house, like OUR house, like we are BUYING it and will OWN it and be OURS!!!  Sorry, but this is a BIG deal after renting for six years!!!  I just want everyone to know that this is the 35th time that I have packed and moved somewhere!  And actually since the last time I counted, I have remembered some that I forgot to count, so who knows!!!  I'm hoping that unless we go back overseas into missions, or move to another city in the USA for a job, THIS WILL BE MY LAST MOVE!!!!!!  Not likely, but whatever...a girl can hope!!!

     As you can see, it is a work in progress type thing, but we live here now!  We want to have you all over, but don't want to be responsible for anyone falling down the stairs and killing themselves, or breaking their neck and suing us and taking our house.  Bottom line, we will have an open house when we have stairs and rails!


So, I fell down the stairs...

     Well, it didn't really start there…I did FALL down the stairs, though, and we will get back to that ASAP.

     Rewind to somewhere around 17-years-old (I promise this post won't be a book...Nick said I just lied to you all…I'm sorry in advance).  During the summer before 12th grade, 2003, I came back to the USA to visit with friends and family and to work.  I worked part-time for Mister Mark's Fun Park (with Jennifer Hoffart…what a fun summer!!!) and part-time as a nanny for the Zavell family.  While I was watching their two young boys, Susan Zavell was taking classes in order to become an esthetician.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED everything about what she was learning.  I was already into waxing, hair and face masks, pedicures, manicures and pretty much anything that a very girly spa resort would offer.  I decided that I would go to beauty school, but my dad said "college first" and reminded me of the beauty school dropout scene from the movie "Grease".  Anyways…although I didn't go to beauty school, I spent an unimaginable amount of hours online and in magazines reading everything I could about caring for your skin and body.  I wore sunscreen like it was my job, hosted my own personal spa nights and even enjoyed waxing my friends legs in college…I know, its weird, but I LOVED it!

     However, while doing all this, I was completely unaware of all of the harsh chemicals I was so lovingly rubbing on, breathing in and soaking up and what they could possibly do to me!

     Fast Forward a couple years again to 2005.  Grandma Jackson was diagnosed with cancer and I don't remember all of the specifics, but her doctor didn't allow her to paint her nails because of the chemicals that would soak in through her nails and surrounding skin!!!  WHAT?!?!?!  I started to wonder "If she can't paint her nails because of the harmful chemicals, then why is anyone allowed to?"  And that's when my REAL researching and reading and researching and reading began!!!  Since that lightbulb moment, I haven't painted my nails (unless a girlfriend took me for a pedicure date…who can pass that up?) and I have changed A LOT of what I use in my home for cleaning, for toiletries and what I eat (except when I turn into a food monster princess, which happens every now and then…ok, maybe pretty frequently…everyday?...anyways…I try…).  Sooooooooooo…the more and more that I have learned, the more I have changed my ways and replaced things in my home with healthier options.  Just this year, my sisters, mom and I did more than a half of a year experiment where we washed our faces with the Oil Cleansing Method (yes, oil on our faces) and used Baking Soda and Apple Cider Vinegar for washing our hair and Coconut Oil for everything from Hair Mask, to Shaving Cream, to Lotion, to Eye Cream, to…you name it, we tried it!!!  We used all sorts of essential oils and mixtures to the point that Nick started calling me "The Little Apothecary".  Don't let me fool you though…I'm not as crunchy granola hippy as I may sound…I still like REAL deodorant and no, I don't want to work in the yard to grow an organic garden.  Just wanted to set the record straight…

     So now that I've told you all of my background, you know that I already LOVED doing things the chemical free, all natural, all organic, 100% pure, all whatever you want to call it, kinda way.  So, when my friend, Vaughn, added an event to Facebook about Young Living Essential Oils, I was TOTALLY interested and told her I wanted to be invited (she was going to invite me anyway…I think).  That Wednesday night I said "Bye" to Nick and told him, "I guess I'm not buying anything at the Oils Party since we didn't discuss it".  On the drive over, I kept saying, "I'm not buying, I'm not buying…ummm, I'm not buying…ummm, I don't think I'm buying…ummm".  I pulled up, got out of DaBolbo (the volvo, lovingly named by Clyde Padgetts boys), knocked on the door, walked into the living room of heavenly scents, saw the glowing diffuser and cute little bottles of essential oils"ummm…I'm buying"…and then tried to sit calmly and maturely and act like an adult even though I was super excited and just wanted to get my hands on those oils and sniff away!!!  So, by the end of the party, I bought the Premium Starter Kit and was super excited for it to arrive in the mail.

The rest of the weekend our family joked about "There's an oil for that" for everything that happened to anyone and "We need to diffuse some oils in here"…I think that I'm on my way to becoming THE CRAZY CAT OIL LADY (I do have one cat, but that's beside the point)!!!!

I LOVE when I find something new to go crazy over!!!…Poor Nick



     A few years ago, Ironman and I decided to start a tradition of camping for his birthday.  So, the second weekend of every October, we head to the upstate (never on the first weekend since that is always FMU Alumni Game!!!).  This year, we took one of my little sisters, Maggie. Although we love camping and know that it's not supposed to be "comfortable", the trip started off a little crazy!

     We pulled into Table Rock State Park and found our campsite...

     ...covered in rocks and fire ants, dogs barking non-stop and the worst site setup I've ever seen.  It was 6pm and getting dark, but the meat that should have been thawed, just in time for dinner, was still frozen cold (I seriously considered throwing myself on the ground and throwing a tantrum...I didn't, I promise).  

     Maggie, Ironman and I used our feet to rake the rocks around until we had enough of an area to pitch the tent.  We were happy to find that we cleared most of the rocks and were only on a slight incline.  During the night, though, I kept waking up and finding that I needed to climb my way back up inside the tent.  Luckily Ironman was heavy enough to anchor himself to his sleeping position in our tent and asleep enough to let me use his left arm as my "rope" (he still doesn't know) while climbing our tent mountain...

And who doesn't LOVE fire ants!  I kept from being bitten by constantly moving, wearing my hiking boots (instead of Chacos) and keeping my feet propped up.  When I found them crawling all over the outside of our tent, I was terrified that they were going to find their way in.  Luckily, that never happened!  

     It seemed that everyone brought their dogs to camp with them.  There must have been five little yappers within 100 feet of each other and of us.  I couldn't believe how loud and long they could bark and not drive their owners crazy, or even drop dead from barking so much!  The worst yapper was in the campsite next to us labeled "Park Host" (I thought, "you have got to be kidding me")...I knew that if our host was setting this example, the situation was hopeless.  At least, since we live next to three yappers at home in Florence, it really felt like home.

     And lastly, our camp site.  Our site was on a curve, so that everyone who drove around the turn had a up close and personal tour.  Worse than that, the fire pit was only a few feet from the curve.  So close, in fact, that Ironman, Maggie and I had to sit around the fire pit, with our chairs facing the curve.  Each person that drove by, walked by or rode their bikes by, would look at us and wave.  It was so close that if they didn't look at us, it was totally awkward because they had to make an effort NOT to look at us.  And if they looked at us and didn't wave, it was awkward, because then it felt like they were either super rude or creepers.  So, since everyone is mostly friendly at the campground, we shared lots of waves.  I felt like WE were the creepers just sitting there, facing the curve, watching everyone that passed and waving.  One family even walked by and said "It's like you are sitting on your own front porch"...sad.  


Usually when Ironman and I go on trips together, we don't have a lot of big plans.  We like to go without a plan and just see what happens.  However, since we brought Maggie and she likes to have a plan while camping, I knew that we needed to liven it up and break out of the "old married couple" rut that we tend to drift towards (Don't get me wrong...we love that rut).  Since we were camping in Table Rock State Park and since Maggie and Ironman wanted to hike, that naturally meant that we were going to hike Table Rock.  Wow...what a hike!!!  3.5 miles one way and I felt like we were nearing the top around the time that we saw the 1 mile marker.  Nick even tried to hide it so that I would pass and not see how little we had come and how far we still had to go!  WHAT!?!?!?!  So, just like usual, I whined the whole way.  Maggie and Ironman were troopers, saying that the view would be worth it.  I, on the other hand, have not ever totally agreed with that idea.  I would be just as happy to ride in the car, walk (not hike) a little ways and then enjoy a view without being worn out, hungry, thirsty, cranky and without a discrete place to squat in the woods because of the huge amount of hikers!  Call me crazy, but that just sounds more enjoyable and I would still get to see the same view in the end, but without the torturous hike.

But, lucky for me, my family already knows that I'm a whiner and Maggie was super encouraging.  And, Nick (of course) knows that I'm a whiner and he is the most patient husband.  So, I just want to set the record straight.  Lots of you are under the impression that I am aDvEnTuRoUs.  Yes, I happen to be the mastermind behind most of Ironman and my adventures.  Traveling is and always will be in my blood.  I'll catch a plane to any continent, take a bus or train between countries, ride in a canoe down the amazon, hop on a subway or in a taxi, stay in a hotel, camp anywhere, sleep in the car, stay with strangers, sleep on someone's couch or floor, pretty much anything.  In all of those things, I enjoy the journey and look forward to the destination.  But, LISTEN TO ME...I never enjoy hiking.  I don't like that journey.  Just get me to the destination any other way and I'll be a happy camper (or "girl" when we aren't camping).  But, don't get the wrong impression of Nick.  He loves adventure and never whines...but, I'm sure that if you know Nick you already knew that!

     So, after our site got rained out and flooded in the Grand Canyon last year, I said that I needed to scratch "Hike the Appalachian Trail" off of our bucket list.  However, I still left it on our list, in hope that I would suck it up and eventually, one day, become a REAL adventurer.  But, after suffering so much misery on only a 7 mile, 5 hour hike, it is beginning to sink in (actually it is pretty much crystal clear) that I'm just not going to make the cut.  So, I'm going to be honest with myself and change our bucket list to "Drive the Appalachian Trail", since I hope to never hike again.  Please, dear friends, keep me accountable...If I try to hike again at any point in the future, remind me of Table Rock!

     Needless to say...Although I have whined my way through an entire Blog Post, I DID have a great weekend camping with my Ironman and my Magpie!  We had a great time sitting around that awkward fire pit, talking, cooking, eating and roasting a lot of marshmellows.  Magpie was so cute as she slept in her ENO beside our tent (the second night she was even rained on...and did SHE whine?...no)  Although I didn't enjoy the hiking, it was still fun spending my day with two of my favorite people.  I love having a husband who is my best friend and plenty of sisters, who are built-in best friends.   

     Happy 29th Birthday to Ironman.  

     You like that view?  Enjoy it...I worked for it!!!

     PS...we looked at the campsite numbers and know which one we will pick (and which one we will NOT pick) for another future Table Rock weekend.     


One Year Anniversary!!!

     Today marks ONE YEAR since Nick and I began working for my dad's construction company!  Nick does the dirty work, while I sit back and relax in the office!  August 31st, 2012 was the day our commitment with OM Ships came to an end.  We packed up and took off on a cross country road trip (if you want to read the highlights, click the page tab "USA Road Trip").  After a month on the road, we returned to Florence and began working for Black Mountain Development Group!

     Some highlights of our year are:

Michaela, from Northern Ireland, came to visit in November 2012!  We met Michaela while serving with OM Ships and she has remained one of my closest friends for years now!  This was actually the second time that she has visited me in Florence!  And the BIG news!?!?!?!?!?  Nick and I are going to visit HER this time!  She is getting married and I am one of her bridesmaids!  So, just about the time we finish opening the Christmas gifts, we will be leaving for Northern Ireland!!!

December 2012 was our 5 year anniversary!  We celebrated by revisiting a soda shop in Asheville, NC.  Time flies!  We are already just two month away from our 6th anniversary!!!  We LOVE being married to each other!!!

One of my wittle sisters got married in April 2013!  Mary Ashley is now an "Owens"!  Now we are all grown up and have each other over for meals...at our own grown up homes...on our grown up plates...with our grown up husbands...weird!!!  We are really good at playing grown up, though, because we used to do it all of the time with our Barbies (I think our Barbies were a lot more mature)!

Nick and I ran our first race together for my 28th birthday!  The Color Vibe was fun, but last weekend we ran The Color Run and it was even more fun!!!  They even had a Unicorn that danced and led us all to the Start Line!

This past weekend we went to visit my Aunt Vicki in Atlanta, ran The Color Run and saw the Atlanta Braves.  While sitting at that baseball game, I couldn't help but thinking about the past.  I remember when I was sure that I would never marry an American, never live in America and definitely never live in Florence, SC!  But, as the saying goes, "Never Say Never"...I have broken all of my "rules" and couldn't be happier!  And as for Nick.  Everyone knew, including Nick, that he was definitely going to play pro baseball.  While at Francis Marion University, he was scouted by the Mets, but he prayed that he wouldn't get drafted if God didn't want him to have that career.  However, after the draft came and went and he didn't receive a call, he decided to take matters into his own hands.  He pushed and pushed until he finally played pro baseball for an independent team in Aiken, SC.  He played worse than he ever played in his life, until he was finally injured and out for good.  So, just like me, Nick is living the life he never planned for himself!  But, also just like me, he is loving it!  God really is so good.  He cares for us and wants what is best for us!  Nick and I had different plans for our lives, but we are so thankful that God has been in control and that he has brought us to where we are now!

We met in our Disney interviews, worked together in the Magic Kingdom and got married while still in college.  We shared our little car, "George", and worked like crazy pretty much every hour we weren't in classes.  Since then, we have been professional window washers and a janitor, babysat, been a nanny, tutored and taught school, worked in a pottery warehouse, done odd jobs for anyone that would pay us, served with OM Ships International and now...here we are!  Living in Florence, SC!  Soon settling into our first home (which is a story all by itself)!  Working for Black Mountain Development!  Still checking off items on our Bucket List!   

It is so fun to look back and see how far we have come!  Although, we started off as poor married college students, we both feel like we are finally turning into grown ups!  And now, my dad is taking us all out to eat at Schlotzsky's (we really never eat anywhere else in town) to celebrate our one year anniversary!!!

Our Adventure Continues...


This is a TEST

Well, I have been having some trouble with my blog...the story of my life.  For those of you who have chosen to "follow by email", you have not been getting my emails and you probably didn't even realize it!  There have been about three new posts that have not been sent through email to those of you who have signed up.  I personally went through everything I could in my blog, every little tab, trying to figure out what I had done.  Of course, even if I had an idea of what I did, I usually cannot figure out how to fix it.  Last year I somehow deleted my beloved blog that was full of hundreds of posts from 2009-2012...yes, it was traumatic...and NO, I had no backups.  All of those stories...gone forever.  So, as you can imagine, now when things go wrong on my NEW blog, I really freak out!  Anyway...it pays to know people...a very smart friend helped me out and hopefully fixed this problem.  So, this is a TEST post to see if we get the email...yay!!!



So, for YEARS I have been a babysitter.  I remember my first "job"(other than watching my three younger sisters) was babysitting the boy down the street for $1 per hour and I thought I had struck it rich!  Needless to say, I have worked my way up over the years and have slightly increased from my $1 per hour.  Anyway...this past Friday night I was called to babysit  chaperone!!!  Not only was I asked to chaperone, but I was going to stay at a fancy hotel (in the penthouse suite!!!), have my dinner paid for at a fancy restaurant and order room service for breakfast!  WHOA!!!  

I arrived at the Hotel Florence around 9pm, since we all attended The Kings Academy graduation (Congratulations Dylan!!!).  After being escorted up to the Penthouse Suite, I was left with two Junior High girls under my loving and watchful care until 11am Saturday morning...  

These two girls took the bedroom with the queen sized bed and larger than life shower because there were chocolates left on the pillows.  Thats a good reason to me!  I found out, in the morning, that they had each taken a bite out of their chocolates, but not finished them...I finished them immediately...you gotta do what you gotta do...

So, I was left to suffer alone in the bedroom with two queen sized beds, huge bathroom and luxurious bath and my own flatscreen TV mounted to the bedroom wall.  Do you feel my pain yet?

The girls and I, after thoroughly checking out our new place and the balcony that overlooked downtown Florence, went downstairs and had dinner at Victor's Bistro.  Once I had finished off my spinach salad, full of craisins, apples, candied pecans and blue cheese, I enjoyed a perfect piece of salmon, some asparagus and potatoes to die for!  

Unfortunately, the restaurant was almost closing, so I HAD to take my orange flavored cheesecake with dark chocolate moose upstairs to enjoy with my coffee that I made in our own personal penthouse Keurig.  Of course, since it was a sleepover, we HAD to watch chick-flicks until 2am, while lounging on the huge comfy sofa that faced another flat screen TV, mounted on the wall over our personal kitchenette.  

We slept in until close to 8am and then ordered room service (from Victor's Bistro) for breakfast while we continued to watch chick-flicks.  

Wow...this chaperone thing really seems like my kind of job!!!  Please hire me!!!  In these extreme cases, I work for room and board (especially in penthouse locations).