• Allie and Ryan

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 2

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 3

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 4

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 5

    Allie & Ryan

Monday, August 17, 2015

Spontaneity

Sometimes your husband gets home from work unexpectedly early on a Saturday when he is in cycle and you decide to be spontaneous. You hop in the car and drive two hours or so while he snores softly in the passenger seat and head to Myrtle Beach, SC for a small change of scenery. Sometimes a random Saturday becomes a fun day full of firsts that you never expect!

We made our way south and got to Broadway at the Beach in the early afternoon. We were starving so after walking around for a minute we decided to go to Joe's Crab Shack, a place we'd seen in commercials for years but never actually went. I got a steam pot of deliciousness that came with a bib declaring I was the Queen Crab and Ryan was totally jealous of my bib.


One thing on my bucket list (and yes I do have a physical printed out list) is to ride in a helicopter. Ryan rode on one before when he was deployed, and he will quickly say that one was not really an enjoyable experience, but I have never been on one. Myrtle Beach has this company that advertises $20 quick rides and we decided to give it a go. We walked there from Broadway at the Beach (all Ryan's idea, I totally wanted to drive the mile or so since it was pretty hot) and eventually made it to the site. Helicopters were taking off and landing right over the fence from us and I got pretty excited. Once inside we decided to spend a little more to do the next price up tour so we could fly over the beach and have a slightly longer ride. Totally worth it!


First we took a golf cart over to the area where we would board the helicopter. We received instructions on who would board when, where to sit, and or brief list of what not to do (stay away from the back of the helicopter basically and do not take pictures until you are inside). It finally started to hit me that we were going to be flying in this tiny thing and I started to get a little nervous... but not nervous enough to back out!


Once we boarded and got strapped in we slipped on our headsets and met our pilot Scott. Before I knew it, we were off!! And it was amazing. I hardly believed we were really flying! We soared over Broadway at the beach and across the the beach. I could see the Sky Wheel, the wooden roller coaster, all the schools in Myrtle Beach, the Walmart, and the baseball stadium. Scott pointed out all the landmarks and kept the conversation flowing and we had a blast. I was so excited the entire time I probably looked a little manic!



The ride was definitely quick, but worth it in my book. Ryan keeps saying he is going to buy a helicopter and learn to fly it so he never has to sit in traffic again. I laughed it off a bit until I saw him googling helicopter prices later on that evening!

We walked around the shops a bit more before finding a dueling pianos bar. Since we are big fans of the dueling pianos we have seen in Jacksonville we decided to go in while there was still no cover and enjoy the air conditioning! The setup at our local dueling pianos is small but we always have fun.... this was huge! They had two teams that tagged in and out plus at one point they had a drummer and three piano players. The drinks were good, the music was excellent and the guys were really funny.


All too soon we realized it was getting late and we probably should go since we had a two hour drive home. The drive back ended up being a little much since we were both tired, but we made it home safe and sound and crashed into bed. Sunday we were pretty lazy as a result but for a spontaneous Saturday adventure it was totally worth it. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weekend with Stefan

This past weekend my little brother Stefan came for one more visit before he leaves for college next week. Now that my parents no longer live in Western North Carolina, they are actually much closer, about two and a half hours north of us on the coast. So Stef had a much easier drive than normal! He came down Thursday and although Ryan and I had to work Friday he was quite productive, mowing our lawn and weeding our front walkway. I was pretty thankful! Two less things I have to do! We had some Buffalo Wild Wings one night, the boys' favorite, and sushi the next night... so I got a break from cooking too. Bliss.
 
We spent Saturday at the beach even though we were a little aprehensive about the weather. It looked gray and stormy at home but on the beach it had clear and cloudy moments. It was warm and we never once got rained on, and we were there for many hours!
 
 
The boys swam and used the skim board while I relaxed with a good book or two. We all found shark teeth too. I did have an awful stomach attack while they went for a walk, but it was mostly over by the time they returned. Normally my stomach attacks only happen in the morningbut lately I've been lucky and had them in the afternoon and evening too. Joy. I have another doctor appoitnment in the works, two weeks away since that was the Naval Hospital's next available appointment. Sigh.

It was cloudy at points and looked gorgeous.
After the beach we just hung out at the house and enjoyed each other's company, playing poker and rummy until Ryan had to go to sleep since he is still in cycle.


Dup loves her uncle Stefan, as she gets to sleep in the guest bed with him whenever he comes over. He is obviously also one of her favorite people in the world because if you even mention his name she gets pretty darn excited. It is kind of adorable.
 
When Stefan left it broke my heart a little. How is my little buddy going to college?! His school is six and a half hours away, back out in Western NC where they used to live, so I won't be seeing him too often. I remember going off to college like it was yesterday, but I cannot believe that was ten years ago. Goodness. I was glad for the visit and I know he is going to knock em dead at Mars Hill.
 

Friday, August 7, 2015

OBX 2015


Sometimes your husband has to work and you have to go do things without him. Over the years that has ranged from birthdays to graduations to funerals to trips. My parents' rented a house in the Outer Banks for a week and my Aunt, Uncle and three of my cousins joined all of us for a week of sun-filled relaxation. 

I wish Ryan could have joined The Dup and I, but sometimes some family time is just extremely needed. I had almost forgotten how awesome my cousins can be and what its like to pal around in a motley group and get into all sorts of shenanigans. And get made fun of for being "old" and talking like that!

My Aunt brought NJ Bagels (everything ones too!) just for me! I have some more in my freezer. Bliss.



The view from the top deck of our house showed just the slightest glimpse of ocean over the dunes. And it also showed some beautiful sunsets behind us.  We spent some hot mornings sitting on the faded wooden chairs as well as some cooler balmy nights.

The Dup was in heaven. Her Uncle Stefan is one of her most favorite people and she loves people. My Aunt Paulette quickly got in her good graces with some puppy cuddles, bum scratches, and long walks on the beach. Rylie girl is a true lab and loves the water and she went swimming a few times and chased the ghost crabs in the evening.


My cousins and brother built us fires on the beach most evenings and we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. The boys even caught a crab or two and roasted them... and surprisingly they didn't taste too badly!



On one day we decided to take the ferry to Ocracoke Island. We didn't realize there would be a long wait, like almost two hours, but we stuck it out. I also was sitting in the trunk as my aunt, uncle, and one cousin bailed at the last minute taking the second vehicle with them. I wanted to go so my parents had me sit in the trunk. Luckily it is an open one to the rest of the vehicle! Normally the ferry ride is about 20 minutes but bad storms made the channel change and now going out and around takes about an hour. At least on the ferry we were allowed out of the car so I got some sea breeze to keep me cool!


View on the ferry
Once we made it to the island my brother, two cousins and I were excited to see the pony pens... thinking wild horses running on the beach. Nope. Wild horses in fenced in areas looking a lot like captive horses. We were a tad disappointed but we still hung out there for awhile. We then had a delicious lunch (crab cake sandwich for me!) before getting back on the ferry to go home.


The Dup got super spoiled. My Aunt had this blanket one night and Dup commandeered it!
We also took a trip to Kill Devil Hills one night to play some mini golf and eat at an Italian Restaurant. More so for the mini golf!! My cousins, uncle, brother and I had a blast. One cousin missed out since he had to go draft his fantasy football league. Sigh. Boys...

I may not have won but I did get the most holes in one (hole in ones?)! Three! Best I've ever done.

So my four days went by way too quickly and I had to return to work and the real world. I was definitely not looking forward to leaving, family time is too rare and precious, but I did miss Ryan! It was good to see him when I came home, slightly sunburned and a little weary from too much fun :P


Hopefully it won't be as long between my visits with extended family.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I'm Still Here

I know this blog has dwindled, but I am still here.

Ryan was in cycle most of June, then had some leave in July. We needed that time for sure to re-balance ourselves. Of course once we get our footing he usually goes back in to cycle again, but that's just the way it is these days. We try and make routines, stick with them, and spend as much time together as we can. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law came and spent the 4th of July with us and we had some much needed family time.


Sparklers just make everything better.

We've gone to the beach a lot, not quite caring about all the shark issues in North Carolina these days. Don't swim near piers, don't go out too far or in murky water, and just be smart about it. Freak accidents may happen but sharks live in the ocean. That's just the way it is. Plus it has helped us find even more teeth than usual!


Those teeth were all from one trip to the beach last Saturday. It was pretty awesome. Ryan found the big big one, I found the next big one. Both were slightly worn down but still definitely worth keeping for our collection. The square shaped tooth at the top right is actually a sting ray tooth. I know this thanks to my Marine Biologist best friend who solved that mystery for me!


Our other big news lately is that we have a niece! My oldest younger brother Sean and his girlfriend gave birth to a little firecracker girl on the 4th of July, Adrianna Marie. I think she is perfect and I cannot wait to meet her. Ryan and I are officially someone's uncle and aunt.... a first!

So, some things are different, some things are the same, but I am still here.

Hopefully you are too.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Stefan Graduates High School




Last week was a crazy one for sure. I worked Sunday and half a day Monday, then I got the Dup and we got in the car to drive six and a half hours to go to my parents' house in Western NC. It is a long drive, 410 miles or so, and unfortunately with Ryan in cycle it was just the two of us.





We had a rather uneventful drive for the most part. It did storm really badly at one point so I got in the right lane with my flashers on and drove 30 miles an hour, but it didn't last long! I also got my first audiobook (Billy Crystal's Still Fooling 'Em which I highly recommend!) and that helped the ride go by a bit quicker. The reason I am driving out there?

My baby brother graduated high school


That little dimpled face is how he always seems to appear in my head! But he isn't five, he is someone who is nearly six feet tall, crazy strong, super intelligent, and just all around amazing. And he is totally worth driving 800 miles in less than three days for. I got in late Monday night and Tuesday evening was the graduation. His high school actually used the auditorium at Western Carolina University, hence the giant purple cat thing in the background.


I am so ridiculously proud of this kid. He was in the technical honor society (hence the white chord) and was the only student to graduate with perfect attendance... all four years. Who does that?! My baby brother, that's who. He also has had over $150,000 offered to him in scholarship money. I remember when he was in elementary school, struggling with his dyslexia and dysgraphia, frustrated when it slowed him down. But with tutoring and some of the hardest perseverance I have ever witnessed, he rose above it. Honors classes, amazing honor roll level grades, top notch ACT scores... he has been living proof that learning disabilities only hinder you as much as you let them. I look up to him for that and I am so incredibly proud of him, I cannot say it enough.


We got there a little early... so we did have to sit for awhile. My parents look thrilled as does Emilio, Stefan's best friend from growing up that flew in to surprise him! But finally the ceremony started.


The ceremony was good... I don't really know how to judge these things since the last high school graduation I attended was my own ten years ago, but it seemed decent. 


My mom teared up when they played Baby of Mine and displayed baby pictures of the seniors (see the clothes basket above) followed by their senior portrait, but we all held it together pretty well. Their valedictorian was a sixteen year old who skipped two grades and in her speech referenced both Harry Potter and Taylor Swift (sigh) but otherwise everything went well. All too soon my little buddy was swaggering his way across the stage.

HE DID IT!

As the ceremony ended he held up his diploma to us, waving like crazy and giving us the thumbs up... he was the only one who did and I made sure to get a picture of it. He was so incredibly proud, as were we, and he was the only one who did such a thing. Because he is just that amazingly awesome.

Still proud!

I also finally got to meet Halie, his girlfriend, who is an absolute sweetheart. My baby brother has chosen well. They were best friends for nearly four years before they finally started dating, even though Halie is a year ahead of him in school they made it work. Stefan decided to go to school not too far from where Halie currently goes, so they plan on staying together for the foreseeable future. 


Since Stefan picked me up at my college graduation (on the left in 2009 at the WWII Memorial) I had to recreate the picture on the right in reverse. I did kick off my heels first! He was convinced I couldn't pick him up but I showed him! We all went out for a nice dinner afterwards and had a great night.


Wednesday came way too fast and before I knew it it was time to hit the road. My parents are moving at the end of the month so this would be our last time in their amazing mountain house. The view above is the view from their deck and one I am definitely going to miss. The six and a half hour drive will now only be a two and a half hour drive, which is awesome. My family only moved to the mountains about five years ago, so I didn't grow up there, but it is the house Ryan and I spent our honeymoon in and we still have a lot of great memories, it was sad to leave.


But Dup and I hit the road again and for the first time in her three and a half years she stuck her head out the car window! I had to take a picture to send to Ryan as proof! My mom was driving behind us and even called me incredulously saying, "Is the Dup sticking her head out the window?!" 

Yes, my dog is weird.

The drive home was long, especially when we hit traffic, but I am glad I made the trip and got to celebrate this milestone with my little brother.

I'm proud of you buddy!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

In Their Boots/Jane Wayne






The first Saturday in June SOI-E held am "In Their Boots Day" or what was formerly known as a "Jane Wayne Day". I've always wanted to go to one of these and I was pretty excited when I heard I finally would be able to go to one! Ryan's old unit held one when we first moved to North Carolina but we didn't hear about it until it was too late and I was unable to attend. Even though Ryan was mid cycle he was told he should be able to join me, so I signed up. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it is basically like "Take Your Child to Work Day" but for military spouses and children... except maybe a little more geared towards spouses for the most part as you do have to be 18 to go to the rifle range.

So that is how I found myself getting up earlier on a Saturday morning than I do normally on work days when I open! By 7am I was on base signed in and ready to go. Ryan's friend Mark, also a Combat Instructor, had his girlfriend Kayla sign up as well and I was thankful for a familiar face.... especially since Ryan got held up at work and ended up not able to meet up with me. I thanked Mark and Kayla profusely for letting me be their third wheel, and to Mark for taking so many pictures and carrying our bags for us!



Our first stop was the rifle range. My husband has talked about rifle ranges since our dating days so I was pretty stoked to be able to finally do one. They had everything set up for us and we basically just had to lie there and shoot!



We were given flak jackets and kevlar as well as ear and eye pro... I think we did pretty well but Ryan made fun of me when he saw the picture. Apparently my kevlar was crooked. We had to wear long sleeved shirts, pants and closed shoes for the range so I was glad it was done early in the morning before the day got too hot. I know my husband will be on the range for hours and come home hot, sweaty and exhausted with interesting tan lines, so our one hour in the early morning suited me just fine.




We were only given fifteen rounds and I was proud of myself for hitting targets on the 50, 250 and 500 yard line! If I had know the "score" they were tracking was just based on hitting the targets in general versus the distance I probably would have stuck with the closer one! :P I won't share my score but I will say that I hit three on the 500 yard line!


After the range we took the bus back to base and got to try all the other activities, including a night vision goggle obstacle course and the ISMIT. The ISMIT is basically a simulator that they do rather than a live fire range. Above I am using the grenade launcher and below the 50 cal. machine gun. The grenade launcher was a ton of fun and the whole thing shook back and forth, it was crazy powerful! The .50 cal rattled me around a bit too!



We also got decked out again to ride in a Light Armored Vehicle, or LAV, which made my husband jealous as he even said he's never gotten to ride in one! 


That LAV went fast too! Kayla and I were standing in the back (we decided to be good grown ups and let the ten year old kid take the gun turret) and we had to hold on to keep from falling off our perches as we flew around the turns!


They also landed some helicopters in a nearby field that we were allowed to get on and explore.


I got to sit in a Huey! It was a tight squeeze, not gonna lie. No wonder they have height restrictions for pilots! When we explored the CH 53-E I nearly wiped out three different times since the floor was slick with hydraulic fluid and my sneakers have basically no grip. The crew at least got a good laugh out of me, happy to help!

"Get to the choppa!"

I had a wonderful time and I am so thankful SOI-E went out of their way to plan such a fun event for the families. We all received t-shirts, SOI-E canvas bags, and Jane Wayne day dog tags too. I had a blast and even though I was bummed Ryan couldn't make it I was grateful Kayla and Mark kept me company. If you ever get the opportunity to attend an "In Their Boots Day" go for it!!