Big Little Things

We have had lots of big things happening around here. If you follow on social media, you probably already know these things but I wanted to be sure we documented them here too so some day when we look back through the days of this adventure, we remember all the little things and the big little things too.

Most importantly…this.

It may look like just another beach post. Just another little girl building a sand castle. But this is not just a little girl on the beach. This is the girl that despises the beach. The girl that wouldn’t put her feet on the beach EVEN while wearing shoes. The one who wouldn’t touch the ocean and the one who would die over the idea of your toes in the warm sand being heavenly. Poor Hadley Belle hated the beach so much so that we actually took this issue into consideration as to whether or not moving across the world to a Pacific island would work for us.

And look at her now. She has certainly embraced the role of island girl. She’s now the one that asks to go to the beach to build sand castles. The one that is never ready to leave, no matter how many hours we have stayed or how many days in a row we have been. The little girl that eats snacks with sandy fingers and the one who runs into the ocean hunting crabs by herself.

We are so very thankful she has made it over this little bump and has fallen in love with island life! It has been a total game changer!

In other big news, we (or I should say they, the kids) have completed our first island soccer season, hip-hop show and surf competition! We have found sports to be such a great way to meet people in a foreign place! They give us a taste of the local culture and come with built in friends for both kids and parents with similar interests! The outlet for the kids has been fabulous! We have absolutely loved our experiences so far!

A few photos below…We learned a new meaning of “the game will go on rain or shine” when Preston learned to play soccer in a tropical storm. The kids really enjoyed learning hip hop and meeting the hip hop champs. We loved watching Reese do her thing on the surf board, doing so well and taking home 3rd place. Preston always makes us laugh, doing his thing on the board and performing for all. Sweet little Hadley loves any opportunity to keep up with the big kids and is really loving surfing too!

As for school, we are still very pleased with the elementary school! Reese had her first art show and Preston had his first performance during a special chapel program singing and signing. The amount of sign language he has learned in such a short time has been quite impressive! They are both really excelling academically! Hadley is enjoying her new preschool too!

We have had lots to celebrate here, big and little, and now tis the season to celebrate the holidays! (More photos on those festivities soon!)

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We’re still here.

The days sure do pass quickly. I’m not sure if it’s all the time spent trying to calculate what time it is back home with friends and family in 3 other time zones or if it’s just the daily grind of trying to figure out life here, but whatever it is, it feels like the clocks tick faster on this side of the world. I had been meaning to post after we had been here for one month. And then after we survived the typhoon. And then after we finally found a house and a car. And then after being here for 2 months. Well, we all know how that went. But we’re still here! 2.5 months into our adventure in Guam and slowly but surely feeling more settled.

So where are we now you ask? We are in a home! YAY! YAY! YAY! This also means we now have an address! Our original plan was to purchase a home here on the island. A little back story for those not in the military/contracting loops, the military plans to move the Marines from Okinawa down to Guam which essentially led us to this entire move in the first place due to the increase in contracting work for this area. This military move is also suspected to cause a housing boom so we thought we would buy a house now and sell later when it comes time to move on. However, after several discussions with various sources (friends, realtors, locals) and after house hunting for several weeks, we realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as initially thought to be. Turns out buying a house on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is not easy. Coupled with the fact our Tennessee home has not yet sold (anyone have any leads of someone house hunting in Knoxville??), buying a house here just wasn’t right for us. We turned to renting and learned that was not as easy of a process as we thought either. BUT we found a place that is in the perfect location for us, has the ocean off in the distance visible from the second floor balcony, has a huge yard which is rare on the island, and plenty of space. So the saying goes “Good things come to those who wait.” We are living in Tamuning which is in the central portion of the island, close to everything and near the beach. We love this area! Car buying was equally as much of a learning experience as well but we learned a lot and now we have a car! Hooray!

Let’s just say this move has been quite the adventure.

The kids are taking this move like champs and all seem to be adjusted well. Reese has made some new friends. She is very much our social kid that thrives on interactions with friends and teachers and playdates. We are slowly starting to build up that network for her (and us!). Preston’s life is complete with sports and physical activity so he is thriving on soccer, surfing, swimming, and hip hop. He and Reese will make their hip hop debut in a big show this weekend to finish out their hip hop experience. Soccer is down to the last 3 games before the season ends and Preston moves up to the next league come January. Baseball is played here in the “off-season” of soccer which is around November through January. He and Creed are very much looking forward to getting back into baseball and we are excited to see what the experience of baseball will be like here on the island. Hadley has started preschool part-time and is loving her school. She is most excited about her new kitty cat lunchbox and the ice pack that goes in it as well as the swings. It’s the little things that make life so grand at age 2. ☺️ All three kids are loving surfing and will compete in their first Billabong competition in a couple weeks. We are excited to learn what that’s all about and watch them do their thing!

As for us parents, we are loving our weekends here in Guam. The scenery is breathtaking and watching the kids experience it all is so fun. Day-to-day life during the week is still feeling a bit unsettled and chaotic but over time that should improve.  We were able to get out for a date night a few weeks back thanks to Hadley’s preschool offering a Parent’s Night Out and hope to do one this month as well. Creed is doing his work thing and I’m doing the SAHM thing for now hanging out with Hadley in the mornings and running errands, doing school pick ups and extracurriculars in the afternoons. I made the trip to the unknown building to find the paperwork to begin the PA licensing process for Guam this week. It’s a lengthy process so that will not happen for quite some time yet. Until then, you’ll find me making this drive multiple times a day and this just makes my heart so happy…

Many days you will also find a rainbow here shining bright between the sun showers.

More photos to come from recent island life, but first, we are off to prep for yet another typhoon…

Aloha from Hawaii!

Aloha!

In planning our first flight to Guam, we realized we basically had three options for layovers for the most direct routes: Honolulu, Hawaii or Seoul, South Korea or Tokyo, Japan. I had never been to any of those places so we looked at the logistics of each and thought Hawaii would be the easiest transition into a foreign place for us all. We were able to do an extended layover there giving us a couple days to stretch between each of the 8+ hour flights, get a decent night’s sleep in between and explore a little bit in a relaxed atmosphere. Hawaii was just as I had always heard it described with plenty of surfers, plenty of rainbows and plenty of sunshine!

We only planned one activity while we were there because I really had no idea what to expect for myself or the kids with long travel. I had only ever been on one long flight prior to this so jet lag was fairly foreign to me and I wanted to be sure we could sleep all day if we needed. We will certainly be back to explore more of Hawaii on another trip back and forth.

The one event we did plan was out of this world! Preston and I share a love for all things weather and natural disaster-related and we had been watching countless hours of the volcano coverage in Hawaii the months before our big trip. When we booked our flights through Honolulu, I knew us getting to the volcano area would be a must! I started researching all the details and discovered you could do helicopter tours over and around the area and the people that took these tours were still in fact seeing “red hot lava” (one of Preston’s favorite things to talk about!) flowing even though the news coverage and the flow had really slowed down at that time. Combine a ride on a helicopter and seeing red hot lava and poor little Preston’s mind would explode! I was beyond excited for the experience myself but to take him, of all people, would be absolutely incredible! Creed had taken plenty of helicopter rides in the past due to his field of work and little interest in the adventure so he decided to stay back with Hadley while I took the big kids on a day trip of a lifetime! First up, Kilauea Volcano was on the Big Island so we took an early morning hopper flight from the island of Oahu to the Big Island. Apparently early morning flights are not popular and we ended up with a private jet to our next destination. 🤗

Being that it was early on a rainy Sunday morning in a small town, there was not a lot going on so a local taxi driver sent us to the beautiful Liliuokalani Gardens to explore while waiting for our helicopter tour. Everything was so incredibly green and the gigantic slugs were sure to be a hit!

What once appeared to be an abandoned airport was suddenly bustling when we returned! I was questioning what we had gotten ourselves into when we had first landed and noticed we were the only customers in the entire airport. After safety training, we headed to the launch pad! As if watching him take in his first ride on a helicopter on the way to see a real exploding volcano wasn’t exciting enough, as they lifted off the pad, they started playing music and it just so happened to be Preston’s favorite song of all time, Danger Zone. The little video below just doesn’t even begin to capture his level of excitement!

The volcano was absolutely breathtaking. What an incredible experience to see bubbling red lava from above! It certainly felt like a movie! The site at which the lava met the ocean was pretty amazing too! If you ever get the opportunity, it’s worth every penny! Especially if you have a natural disaster/science-loving child! The devastation seen from above with the lava trailing to the ocean was unbelievable. It was hard to imagine what was once there with such little evidence of anything more than lava. And as you can see, even the adrenaline of it all couldn’t keep the jet lag away…thankfully they both only fell asleep during the last few minutes!

We had a little more time to kill before our hopper flight back so we explored Rainbow Falls on our way out!

We stayed close to the hotel the rest of the day and prepped for our next flight out to Guam the next morning! We can’t wait to head back to Hawaii one day soon when we have a little more time to see the sights and really experience Hawaii. The turtles are calling us! 🐢

2 weeks

It’s been two weeks since we arrived on the island.

Some aspects make it feel like we have always been here and other aspects very much feel like a tornado just spit us out here last night, but all in all, we are getting life figured out here. Along the conversation of tornadoes, typhoon season is booming! In our two week stay, it has nearly rained every day, which was to be expected given we arrived during the rainy season months. However, we are currently experiencing our second monsoon due to a typhoon in the two weeks we have been here complete with flash floods and mud slides. The afternoon showers have turned to torrential all-day down pours so that has sure added a fun twist to our car shopping and house hunting adventures. We are told this is out of the ordinary, even for rainy season, so we are hoping this crazy weather will find a new place to hang out soon!

We have taken full advantage of all good weather we have had and explored more of the island. We headed back to Gun Beach for our second Friday sunset last week. We explored a “secret” trail Creed learned about when he came here back in June that led us around the rocks and on to a private beach area on the other side.

We went down there more for the beach/snorkel time and not so much the sunset this time since it was pretty cloudy and had been storming most of the day, but then out of nowhere, the sky turned every color any sunset could possibly turn and made one of the most incredible sunsets I have ever seen. I have seen many sunsets in my days of growing up on the Florida beaches, but the sky here has shown us colors like I have never seen before. One of my favorite things about being here so far for sure!

Saturday we headed to a local swimming spot in the village of Inarajan called the Inarajan Pools. These natural pools are just inside the reef barrier and formed by reefs allowing for calm waters, lots of fish to see from above the waters (It’s amazing how clear the water is here!) and below, and lots of places to jump off into the deeper pools. Another beautiful area! As for Hadley, her feet did touch the rocks with shoes on but she has yet to come near sand. 🙈

As for normal everyday life, we both have Guam phone numbers now so I think that makes us official islanders, right? (We will keep our old mainland numbers too so don’t erase us just yet!) We are busy car shopping and house hunting this week. We are still learning about the different villages and figuring out which areas we will be spending most of our time. Reese and Preston are enjoying school so far and we are all really excited about their teachers. We have had such an incredibly positive experience with this new school and are so glad everything worked out for us to be here!

Reese started 3rd grade with Miss Smith.

Preston started kindergarten with Miss Levy. It’s hard to believe he is off to kindergarten but I think school will be great for him and I’m so excited to see how he grows through this phase of life!

Both teachers were recruited at the same college in Wisconsin and have been here for several years since so that’s neat! Who knew Wisconsin would be a big recruiting area for Guam?? 🤷🏼‍♀️ There are several teachers here from there! In other news, Preston has started soccer. Reese will start an after school art program next week. Hadley and I are frequenting the island version of Starbucks and beginning to make friends for play dates at the local hang outs. We are learning the ropes on kids’ activities and all the different options here. There are quite a few things to do and many more than I imagined for island life! We will also be checking into preschools for Hadley and I guess at some point I will look into ending my permanent vacation with some career opportunities.

Until then, you’ll find me on a beach watching the sunset every chance I get. 😊

We have arrived!

We arrived in Guam Tuesday night, which would be super early Tuesday morning for all of our people on the mainland.

The first couple days here were spent recovering from jet lag. We had kids and adults up at all hours of the day and night but now we have pretty much settled on 7:00PM-8:00PM bedtimes and 5AM-6AM wake ups with good sleep in between, with the exception of Hadley. We are hoping to stick to a schedule similar to this as the island very much functions around the hours of the sun so everything tends to become quiet after sunset, around 6:45PM. I knew jet lag would be rough with kids and was fully mentally prepared for functioning on little sleep. What I wasn’t prepared for was how terrible I would feel physically. My entire body felt heavy and achy and just all around terrible. I’m not sure if perhaps I picked up something along the way or that was all just part of the crazy travel across a 20-hour time change but whatever it was, I’m glad it’s over! Speaking of time change, we spent 2 days in Hawaii for an extended layover which was 6 hours BEHIND our Eastern time in Tennessee and then flew across the international date line to 14 hours AHEAD of our Eastern time for a total of 20 hour time change. Just crazy! (More from our stop in Hawaii soon!)

We are finally starting to get acclimated to Guam life now. We are renting a furnished apartment until we decide which area of the island we would like to be in based around where we will likely spend most of our time. We have experienced island prices as we headed out to buy some basics. We are paying $8 for less than half a gallon of milk. Gas is approximately $4.50/gallon. Rent is approximately double our mortgage for half the space. We are still getting used to things of that sort, haha.

We have driven around the island, both to get a feel for the territory and to allow the kids to get a good nap while we were all mixed up. To say it is beautiful here would be an understatement. The picture above was taken as we drove down the main road of town. The jungle up against the bright turquoise and blue waters seen from the higher elevations is breathtaking. The touristy area of the island is surprisingly Americanized and much like any other tourist area in America, despite being out in the middle of the Pacific. As we made our way around to the less inhabited areas, a few fruit stands outside of people’s homes could be found, a couple carabao were tied up next to the road, flowering brush lined the winding road, and the views continued to be amazing, jungle on one side, ocean on the other, no matter which area of the island we drove through. The island is made up of many “villages”. Most of them are close together and more like neighborhoods within one city. We are currently living in Tamuning. Creed technically works in Dededo. The kids will go to school in Barrigada. The sunset we saw last night was in Tumon. The beach we went to today was in Yigo. All of these places are within 15 miles of each other, although they may take up to 30 minutes depending on traffic. I’ll include maps below so you can see!

We experienced our first sunset in Guam last night at Gun Beach. Another incredibly beautiful scene! The weather has mostly been overcast since we arrived on the island at the beginning of rainy season. While the rain showers are quick to move in and move out, the clouds have stayed almost everyday until yesterday. The direct sun on the ocean made it sparkle adding to its beauty. We were hopeful to catch the sunset since the clouds had cleared out somewhat and sure enough, it was like looking at a vacation magazine! The cliffs. The sun rays. We took it all in while the kids played with coconuts in the waves. A fantastic first sunset welcome indeed!

Today we had our first beach day at Ritidian Point. We headed to a new part of the island and again, the scenery did not disappoint!

As we sat our things down in a shady spot, we realized we were next to one of the women Creed works with from Guam. They were so very welcoming, taught us all about the area, shared their delicious campfire lunch, and even took Reese and Preston further out into the coral to show them some of the sea life and how to navigate it all. The entire island is surrounded by a coral reef barrier, allowing for calm waters along the beaches. There are not a lot of sandy beach areas due to all of the coral but those they do have are beautiful. This particular beach area had a large area of sand before leading to coral in shallow waters all the way out to the coral reef barrier. The fish surrounding the coral were just like those you would find in an aquarium. The area was super fun for the kids to use their goggles to dip their heads in as they walked around. This was their first experience with anything close to snorkeling and they were beyond excited so I can’t wait to actually take them snorkeling soon! (We are still waiting for the box with our snorkel gear in it to arrive.) Hadley is still refusing to touch the sand but she did a great job swimming through the ocean and the salt water didn’t seem to bother her eyes at all. Some day we will get her converted to a beach bum!

We still have lots to do to really get settled here but so far this little piece of paradise is looking like it’s going to be a great adventure for all of us!

Guam, here we come!

Here goes yet another attempt at keeping my poor little blog alive and well. I’m hoping to use this space to document and share life these days as we have so much going on and lots of big changes SO soon, like in just a few hours! Yikes!

As most of you know, we are moving to Guam! If you didn’t, you do now! 😊 Most reactions to the news have been very similar…Wait, what? Where? Why? Where exactly is Guam? Great questions! My reaction was very similar when I learned the news myself so I thought I’d (re)start the ol’ blog off by answering all of those questions.

I’m sure the news seemed sudden and that’s because it was exactly that! Going back several months, Creed came home with the idea of Guam just after Christmas. He would take a new position within his company leading us across the international date line, 900 miles north of the equator in the Western Pacific, 7,800 miles around the globe, and a 14 hour time change away. My initial reaction was something along the lines of no. No way. Are you crazy? We will wait here for you. We were used to being home just the 4 of us while he traveled for extended periods. It wasn’t easy, but that’s what comes with his career and we could do that again. The conversation ended rather quickly.

And then it was time to start making plans for summer. I needed to know which side of the world we would be on sooner rather than later. The idea was discussed again and after having more time to consider what this move would mean for us, the pros started to really outweigh the cons. The chance to be together as a family with more normalcy sounded incredibly appealing. The opportunity for the children to be immersed in another culture on the opposite side of the world sounded unbelievable, for myself too. The move would allow us to simplify our possessions and better our financial position, paying off student loans, etc. And then there’s always the dream of going back to my former life as a beach bum. So this time the reaction was more of…so you want me to quit my job(s), sit on a tropical island where it’s summer all year, and drink piña coladas all day?? When and where do we sign up? Just kidding. Mostly. 😊 We decided it would be a go.

But then it wasn’t.

Things within his company changed and by spring break, we were certain the idea had come and gone and life would carry on as usual. Unfortunately, that would mean sporadic travel with last minute trips to Afghanistan and the like, places we couldn’t tag along to.

School came to an end. Summer began and boy did it ever begin. (That’s another blog post for another time. 😊) We headed to the beach around Memorial Day and that’s when we got THE CALL. Within a few days, we got confirmation we were moving to Guam!!! IN 9 WEEKS!

So fast forward through summer…the kids were all in a wedding to start the summer, we made our annual trip to Destin with Creed’s family, the big kids made separate trips to West Tennessee to spend time with Papa, Hadley turned TWO, Mimi came from Canada to visit for several weeks, more weeks were spent at Tate’s Camp, they tried new camps this year at Camp Webb and Zoo Camp, Jocelyn came to visit from Seattle, Reese took her first solo trip (with Jocelyn but without parents) out west to Seattle for a week of “Campchella”, Preston and I flew out to Seattle to explore for the weekend and bring Reese home, the whole family squeezed in a wonderful week on Mackinac Island, and all of this followed by more visits with family and so many sweet send offs by friends and family from near and far.

Summer 2018 has certainly been a summer to remember and now the grand finale awaits. Moving day is tomorrow, bright and early.

I’ve had many ask how we are feeling about this. I believe the kids are excited! Hadley doesn’t have a clue what’s coming her way. Poor thing hates the sand! Preston is excited for every bit of it, living in the Ring of Fire on a volcano surrounded by sharks. His 5-year-old dream come true. Reese is a bit apprehensive about not having her friends she has grown to love so dearly nearby and the thought of any change is a daunting one for her. I get that. It’s daunting to me too but I truly believe this experience will be for the best and all the “news” and unknowns will only be a good thing. As for us adults, we are currently exhausted and overwhelmed, running on too few hours of sleep and too many caffeinated beverages. Selling everything you own down to the house and cars and everything inside them in 9 weeks is no joke. (On a side note, if you know someone looking to buy a house, send them our way!) Aside from these current emotions this very moment, we are excited! We are sad to leave friends and family and the city we have grown to love and call home on the mainland, but we will be back! As of now, we plan to be in Guam for 2 years and will be back every so often to visit until then.

With all of that said, we are very thankful for this opportunity for our little family and all that it brings. It’s been a challenge (to say the least!) to prepare for this crazy adventure, but an adventure it will be. And as Helen Keller once said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Thank you all for the well wishes thus far and a really big thank you to everyone that helped us prepare for this crazy move! We look forward to sharing our adventures here and on social media as we begin our journey around the world tomorrow in Honolulu! (It still seems so surreal to even say those words!)

easter 2016 part one

We had a great time celebrating Easter with friends and family over the last couple weeks. Knoxville certainly knows how to celebrate the holidays around town with endless hunts and festivals. We headed out to the University of Tennessee Botanical Gardens a couple weeks ago for the Wild Bird Eggstravaganza, a food-free egg hunt in support of children with allergies. We learned all about birds, painted eggs, built bird houses and nests to take home, and a few other crafts. The kids even planted their first real plants, broccoli for Reese and peas for Preston! A big hit indeed! Now I just need to figure out how to keep them alive having the blackest thumb you ever did see…

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The boys were tired so we left them at home for naps and headed back out for milkshakes and to see the 4-H animals. We love this opportunity to cuddle animals and take some photos each year, all in support of our local 4-H. She left longing for a chick to cuddle at home…until we discussed that chicks poop and poop in your bed…We also went to the annual Knoxville Moms Blog Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday and managed to squeeze in an anniversary date Sunday night.

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Easter weekend was spent festival-hopping (no pun intended). Creed had been out of town but managed to rearrange his travel to come home for the holiday weekend. The kids were super excited Daddy was able to come to most of the activities too! We ventured out with friends to one of our favorite places, Riverview Family Farm, on Good Friday. The picturesque farm is set out on the lake, complete with a cove and their very own clay beach, a large dreamy barn, and big open fields full of activities. We got our faces painted, indulged in fried Oreos and snow cones, hunted eggs, and much more.

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Daddy had to miss and she and her sass refused to open her eyes so this is the best we have for an attempt at a partial family photo…

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Best buds

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More from the rest of our weekend including breakfast “down-on-the-farm” up soon!

hello spring, hello blog.

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Hello. My poor little blog has really taken the back seat in life but here it is, yet again, on a new page, with a new look for a new attempt at keeping up. As our children grow up too fast and life flies by us, I have really begun to notice how little we document. I am always thrilled when I look back and see the events we have actually documented and hope to be better at preserving more memories, more often, here in this space. I hope you enjoy our little slice of the world!

Our previous adventures can be found at the former Living Happily Ever After.