Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Here at Last OKI...Part II

Missed Part I? Go back and read it first to catch up.

After my mom and I spent a long weekend on OKI in mid-May, we had plans to end the month by taking my grandparents down and introduce them to where we'd be moving. The night before that trip, my parents got a call from Matt, and it wasn't a good one. He had an accident while helping a friend move and was at the ER in Chicago with a broken ankle. Hoping we'd find out the next day that the break wasn't too serious, and not wanting to disappoint my grandparents, we left for the beach as planned the next day. At about the time we arrived, Matt called with an update. His break was worse than first thought, and eventually we'd find that he'd require two surgeries and nearly 10 weeks of staying off his ankle completely. That's a whole different post though, and not my story to tell. What I will say is that during that trip to OKI with my grandparents, we fit in showing them around the island, delicious food, and beach time in around meetings with the builder my parents had chosen, looking at house plans, and making arrangements to get to Chicago to be with Matt for his surgery. It was a crazy start to June, that's for sure!

Our traditional "1st lunch" at Fishy Fishy

June continued to be crazy! The day after we all got back from the beach, my parents flew out to Chicago for Matt's surgery. My dad came back home after less than 48 hours there to take over dog duty while I flew out for a fantastic trip to the US and British Virgin Islands! Matt had his surgery while I was out of the country, and Echo had surgery on his leg to remove a cancerous tumor the day after I got back.
Jost van Dyke, BVI
My mom ended up staying in Chicago all the way through the summer, while Dad and I took turns visiting there and holding down things here at home. June was also when my parents decided on a house plan and we took care of the paperwork to officially divide their parcel back into 2 lots, with me buying the one they weren't building on. We all became accustomed to notaries and Priority mail, since we were taking care of everything long distance from two different cities! And about that house plan, remember when I said that my mom always had faith that I'd be moving too? Well they put together a house plan that would be perfect for the three of us to live together, with two Master bedrooms on separate floors. You know, just in case it all worked out for me to move. (And the whole time, I was thinking there was no way.)

I celebrated the 4th of July in Chicago with my mom and Matt, and by the end of my Chicago trip, even more changes were in store. What I haven't mentioned yet is that in the midst of all the craziness of May and June, there was even a little more going on. I happened upon a job posting that sounded pretty perfect- the description was exactly what I wanted to be doing, in the field I wanted to work in, and it was a full time telecommuting position- which means I could work from home. I couldn't pass up sending my application and resume in, but knowing how many applicants there were, pretty much forgot about it for nearly a month after I applied. So you can imagine my surprise when I received a request for an interview for that job. Well, that interview turned into three rounds of interviews, and in early July I was officially offered and accepted the job. Starting August 1, I'd be embarking on a new career and working from home...which meant there was nothing to prevent me from making the move to Oak Island. What's even more fitting? I got the phone call with the offer while I was in Chicago- out on a short walk with my mom, the person who kept telling me that it would all work out for me to move.

It wasn't the ocean...but Lake Michigan had to do!

So to finish July, and soak up what would end up being my last summer off, Echo and I took off to visit and explore Oak Island on our own the week before I started my new job. We spent tons of time on the beach, watched sunsets from The Point nearly every night, and checked out house progress. At this point, the lot had been cleared and that was it....but it was pretty exciting to see!

OKI lot is cleared!
Echo loved being a beach dog!
Best travel buddy

On August 1, I started my new Instructional Designer position. Writing this 5 months later, I can say that even without the upcoming move, making this career move was one of the best decisions I could have made. For the first 11 years of my career, I'd always been a teacher in some capacity and I'd always worked for the state of NC. As much as I loved teaching, this new position has showed me just how ready I was for a break. Also in August, my mom finally came home from Chicago- and the house construction finally got started.

In September, October, and November, we made several more trips to the island to check on things with the house. Not because we don't trust the builder, who is amazing, but because it is SO HARD to know your house is being built and not be able to see exactly what is going on daily. Most of these trips were just mom and me- because although my dad is excited about the move, he does not get excited about traveling back and forth. We feel pretty lucky that he tells us to go and that he'll be just as happy staying home and taking care of the dogs. One of those trips in September was special because we took my grandparents back to the see the house. At that point it was just framed, but seeing that only made us more excited!

OKI House in progress

In December, Matt came home and we made time to take him down to show him where he'll be visiting the next time he comes back to North Carolina! Having Matt see the house just made it feel "really real," and we were ecstatic at all the progress that had been made! It was also the first time since mid-October that my dad had been there in person! Also in December? My parents sold their house...without it even being listed! In another sign that everything was meant to be, our fantastic real estate agent called my parents to let them know she wanted to show the house to a couple- even though she knew the plan was that my mom and I would move when the OKI house was finished, and my dad would stay behind long enough to list and sell the house. We have three dogs and knew showing the house with them around would be way too much trouble! Well, in just another in a string of 2016 surprises, the couple loved the house and it was under contract the next week!

So, here we are in January of a new year. In less than two weeks, we'll be moving to Oak Island. Not to our house- but to a rental for a month or so until our house is finished. And yes, as my mom and dad keep correcting me every time I say "your house", it is our house. At least until I move forward on the plans to build my house on that second lot.

Almost finished!

There is one more little  twist of fate, coincidence, kismet, or whatever you want to call it that I'll close with. Remember in Part I when I reminisced about that trip to the little beach house on Long Beach? Well, back in 1999, Long Beach and Yaupon Beach were consolidated to found the Town of Oak Island. So all these years later, we're returning to live in that sleepy little beach town where we had so much fun on vacation. We spent a while trying to figure out where exactly Aunt Sarah's house was on the island after we realized that Oak Island and Long Beach were one and the same, but could never quite nail down the location. A couple of months after the lots had been purchased and construction on the house started, one of my mom's relatives reached out to see if she realized that the house we'd visited before was on the very same street where we're now building a house. In fact, it was actually just a couple of houses down- but no one could remember the exact number and none of the houses looked like we thought they should.  While going through pictures last week in preparation for our move, I unearthed these. And it finally gave us the address we'd been searching for. In case you can't see those tiny numbers, they read "326."

Nearly 3 decades ago...who knew we'd live across the street one day?
So where is that house in relation to ours? To give you an idea, my address will be 331, and the house we stayed at? It was 326. The house is still there- but the numbers aren't on the front, and it is now painted a different color with a storage building out back....so of course we didn't recognize it.

I've never been much of a believer in signs, but how's that for it all being meant to be? I've always been a planner and I've never liked change, especially change that I wasn't in control of or driving. In all my life-planning, I'd have never guessed that 2016 could have brought the changes in my life's direction that it did. But I have to say, that if nothing else, 2016 taught me that sometimes, you just have to have a little faith and trust (and maybe pixie dust), because even though it may be hard to believe at the time, sometimes those changes in direction end up leading to something that you may have hoped for, but never really believed could happen.

Here's to finally answering the ocean's call!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Here at Last OKI....Part I

It's no secret that I have always loved the beach, a feeling that was probably passed down from my mother in the same way that I got my father's blue eyes.

Over 25 years ago, my parents and grandparents took my younger brother and me on a beach trip. We stayed at my grandfather's sister's house in Long Beach, and although the weather wasn't great for being out on the beach, Matt and I both remember that trip. We remember staying up way past our bed times to play Uno with the whole family and getting to take a ferry ride to visit an aquarium. Matt and I grew up being lucky enough go on many vacations, so it wasn't the vacation itself or even the beach that made this particular trip memorable, but it was the way that the 7 of us spent most of the trip hiding from the rain in a tiny little beach house just laughing and being together.
Late night UNO
Leaving the Ft. Fisher Aquarium

Twenty six years and a lot of life after that trip, in January of 2016, I made the decision to put my house up for sale. I didn't have an exact destination in mind, but knew that I wanted to move to a different neighborhood and the time seemed right for selling. I was lucky enough to know that I could move in with my parents for a while to give myself time to decide on my next step. Thanks to a great market and a fantastic real estate agent, I had two offers on my house in 3 weeks of it being for sale. I accepted an offer and a closing date was set for March 31. I worked on moving into my parents' house and moved my furniture into storage.

One weekend in February, the three of us went to dinner at Old Stone Steakhouse and were talking about the unbelievable quickness of my house being sold. My dad said, "Well, instead of you saving to look for a house in Belmont, why don't we just all move to the beach?" Moving to the beach is something my mom has talked about wanting to do for my whole life, so as great as the prospect sounded for them, I didn't really think much about it.

Until, that is, one day in March when I got a text from my mom that read, "Your dad says that you and I should go check out houses at the beach this weekend." You see, while looking for a house to rent for our summer beach trip, I happened across a house for sale on Oak Island that looked great in the listing (HA!....that's foreshadowing....). I sent it to my parents and jokingly told them we could all go in together and buy this house and make that move. The joke was on me, because that weekend, my mom and I set off on a 24 hour mission to check out a few NC beaches. We drove straight to Southport, stopping at Fishy Fishy Cafe for lunch, then drove all around different neighborhoods in Southport before going to check out the house I'd found on Oak Island. That house was definitely NOT the one, but we continued our trek, making our way north to check out neighborhoods in Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach before returning the next day. The only decision that we really came to that weekend was that Oak Island just didn't seem like it was for us. To be honest, thinking about moving to the beach was still just a fun game to me, seeing as how I knew I'd be hard pressed to find a job in any of the areas we looked in.

Even though it kind of seemed like a far fetched dream, it started to get a little more real in mid-March when Matt flew down to spend a weekend in Asheville with us while I ran the Biltmore Half Marathon. The reason it started to seem more real is because my parents actually told Matt that they were thinking of moving to the beach....but it would probably be a long process. Or so we thought. At the end of March, I signed the closing papers to finalize the sale of my house.
My first house

The day after that, my parents and I drove back down to the coast to investigate a little more...but this time, with a real estate agent, which meant we are actually looking at houses, not just driving by. By this time, my parents had decided they were definitely going to move, but I was still in limbo. I was debating between moving with them (which meant finding a house we all agreed on and going in together on buying), finding something of my own, or just renting their house back in Gastonia once they moved and visiting as much as possible. My dilemma was that I really wanted to move to the beach, but I knew I couldn't do it without finding a new job. So again at the end of this trip, no real decisions had been made except that.....our search focus was now Oak Island. Yep, the one place my mom and I had already decided we didn't want to be. The thing is, after looking at nearly 20 houses over the course of 2 days in Calabash, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle, Supply, Oak Island, and Southport, we all agreed that if we were going to move to the beach....we were going to move to the beach. And after spending time on the island, we ended up falling just a little in love with it, a feeling that seems to grow each time we spend more time there.

By April, it seemed that my parents or I were making frequent trips to the island. After looking and looking at houses, we finally decided we weren't going to find the "perfect" house, so we changed the search to looking at lots. It didn't take long to find a pretty perfect lot. By the end of April, my parents had closed on a parcel of land on Oak Island that was actually 2 lots that had been put together by previous owners. That meant that we could easily separate it back out into 2 separate lots and build 2 houses. Since I still wasn't sure that I would be moving, knowing that I had the option to build my own house when the time was right for me seemed pretty perfect. It's probably worth mentioning that although I was constantly in doubt that I would be moving to the coast with my parents or any time in the near future, my mom never looked at it happening any other way. Any time I said something about their big move, she made sure to correct me and tell me that she had faith that we'd all be moving together.

I celebrated finishing up my yearly contract at Cleveland Community College in mid-May by spending a long weekend in OKI with my mom, meeting with their builder, checking out the lots, and soaking up as much Vitamin Sea as possible. My mom was dreaming about the day she'd be moving to the island for good, and I was just thankful that if nothing else, I'd get to spend weekends and summers at the beach!

At this point, I was super excited for my parents but really had no clue what the next few months had in store.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2015 Holden Beach Half Marathon

Way back in September, I ran my second half marathon. I should have published this a long time ago, but the post has been sitting in my drafts for way too long with no words. Since I do want to be able to look back and remember this race, instead of the in depth post that I should have written I'm just going to leave a few quick pictures here!

My friend Susan and I decided to sign up for the Holden Beach races and make a girls weekend out of it. Who can ever say no to a weekend at the beach with friends? 

We drove down to the beach after work on Friday afternoon and made our way to packet pickup. It was just a little table set up outside of a restaurant, no expo or anything. I grabbed my half bib and Susan got her 5k bib. We also got shirts that are super soft and that I love!

We woke up way earlier than anyone should have to on a Saturday to drive the 5 or so minutes over the bridge and to the start. After parking, this was our view. Kind of worth the early wake-up, right?
Right before the race started (the 5k and half started together) we were rewarded with these colors in the sky. This was a smaller race than I'm used to at just over 600ish half marathoners. The start was easy to find and there was plenty of parking, but the one thing missing was bathrooms. Seriously- at least a thousand people (since the 5k and 1 mile runs start with the half) and TWO bathrooms. Zero port a pottys provided by the race at the start or along the course. That's a major issue in my opinion, and one I hope they fix for next year! 

The half course started by taking runners up and over the Holden Beach Bridge, down and around short gravel drive, and back up and over the bridge. Umm, wow. I knew the rest of the race would be flat but those first couple of miles going over the bridge were tough! But again, we were rewarded with gorgeous ocean views while on the bridge, so it was worth it!

After the back and forth over the bridge, I REALLY wanted to turn left and finish up with the 5kers....but I decided to stick it out and headed right to run nearly 11 more miles. And yes, it was all flat, which was amazing. But I totally didn't count on the crosswind, which was crazy. Like at times hard to walk upright much less run crazy. There were several water stops along the way with just water- so if you need any other fuel options, be sure to carry those with you! 

I was super excited to cross the finish line and get that huge (and HEAVY) medal!

 I didn't see any of the advertised post race eats (except bananas) - but being able to stick my toes in the ocean after finishing find of made up for that. (And I'm sure faster runners had more options.)

Overall, this was a good race. I was a little disappointed with some of the organizational things (lack of restrooms, running out of food, etc...) but I'm hoping that the race director will take the feedback from this heat and make changes for the better next year. I can see myself making this an annual event on my race calendar.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

I had the urge to write today, but no real topic in mind, so linking up for What's Up Wednesday seemed like the perfect fix! So here we go...

What we're eating this week....

This week is my break in between rounds of the 21 Day Fix, so meal prep hasn't exactly been the best! BUT I have had some pretty great meals, such as breakfast for dinner while we were snowed in followed by a pretty great Sweet Potato Hash the next morning. 

What I'm reminiscing about....

A month ago yesterday, I had to make the decision to say goodbye to my sweet Bailey. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. A month to the day after that, this came in the mail from the vet clinic. Coincidence? 

What I'm loving....

My HyrdroFlask and Nuun! Drinking water has always been a struggle, but with the combination of being able to keep it super cold and adding a little flavor (but not sugar) and vitamins, it is getting easier and easier!

What I've been up to...

We were lucky enough to get just enough winter weather to keep us inside for a couple of days but not cause damage or power outages, and I loved it! I may be in the minority, but I LOVE having a reason to stay cozied up at home....and Echo may have loved it even more than I did!

What I'm dreading... 

This sounds pretty silly...but next week! Thanks to holidays and snow days, I've been spoiled by short week weeks since before Christmas! An actual five day work week next week is going to be rough!

What I'm working on...

This week was the start of the semester for online classes at the college I teach at. So it's been a busy week of making sure everything online is ready for students and answering messages and emails!

What I'm excited about...

The weekend! The weather is supposed to be better and I can't wait to get outside a little!

What I'm watching/reading...

Ohh...I watched the premiere of Lucifer last night. Did anyone else? I think I'm going to love it!

What I'm listening to...

I feel like I need some new music, so today I've been listening to Spotify's Spotlight on 2016 playlist.

What I'm wearing...

My workout clothes! I'm typing this in between my workout and getting ready for work this morning. Shirts and jackets with thumb-holes are the best! 

What I'm doing this weekend...

Hopefully running! Last weekend's weather meant my long run with my running group was cancelled, so I'm looking forward to getting back on track with 8 miles this weekend!

What I'm looking forward to next month...

Spending a night in the Asheville area! It's for a quick work trip, but hopefully we'll be able to have a good dinner out and enjoy a bit of the area the night before our meeting.

What else is new...

I made the decision to list my house! It's been a whirlwind and happened really quickly, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2015 Charlotte SouthPark 8k Turkey Trot

I've always wanted to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, but for various reasons never have. This Thanksgiving, I was determined to change that, and signed up for the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot. This race had a 5k or 8k option, and I chose the 8k. Even signing up late on November 17, registration wasn't too pricey at $40. Since that included a long sleeve t-shirt (cotton, tech tee was an additional $15) as well as a finisher's medal, I didn't think $40 was bad.

Since I wasn't exactly sure how crowded race day would be, I opted to visit packet pick-up the day before, and it was super easy and fast to grab my bib and shirt. I tried to get to bed early and organize myself on Wednesday night so that I could get to the start on time. That meant that I finished cooking a Thanksgiving dessert, had my Garmin charged, and my Nuun bottles filled all before bed!

Prepping for race day!
On Thursday morning, I woke up and realized I didn't have Bagel Thins or bread in the house, so went with a bowl of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pecan Oats for breakfast before I left (prepping fail). Traffic on Thanksgiving morning was non-existent, so I made it to the start at SouthPark Mall with plenty of time to spare. I wasn't exactly sure where the best place to park would be, but decided to park closer to the start than the finish to hopefully avoid traffic leaving. I made my way towards the 8k start line and was super happy to see that it was actually right by an indoor food court that housed a Bojangles, so was open! This meant that runners had a warm place to wait inside AND indoor bathrooms with NO LINES! It was great - especially since it was around 40 degrees at the start.

I met a fellow #TeamrunDisney Facebook group member and we actually stuck together for the whole race! The race started right on time, and we were off! The 8k started at 9:00 am, with the 5k starting at 9:30 in a different location, but they finished at the same spot. Being Charlotte, the course was filled with rolling hills, and our goal was just to have fun and keep to our 30:30 run/walk/run intervals. The course was open enough that in the first few miles there wasn't really any crowding, which was great! At around the 2-mile marker, a couple families had set up a "water" stop with mimosas and Bloody Marys! There were a couple other families throughout the course that were out cheering runners on, which was nice!
Mimosas at Mile 2? Okay!

We kept up with our intervals, and before we knew it, there was only about a mile left. Somewhere around that point, the course merged with the 5k course. Well, it went from being not crowded at all, to being super crowded! It was fine for us since we were just running for fun, but I can imagine any 5kers who were racing may not have been pleased. There were around 7,000 finishers total, so it wasn't exactly a small race! You can see from the splits how much the merging slowed us down in the last miles! (That and what I'm convinced is a Charlotte rule that races must have a huge uphill in the last mile or two of every race.)
Turkey Trot 8k Splits

8k Turkey Trot Finisher
Once through the finish chute, we were handed our medals, which are pretty great! My only complaint about the race was the organization after finishing. Although we saw people walking around with fruit and Kind Bars, we never saw any and had to assume they ran out. Even water at the finish line was almost completely gone (and was cups, not bottles), so I was extra happy I had a bottle of Nuun in the car waiting for me. 

We finished in about an hour, so that means people were finishing the 10k for at least another 30 minutes, and the 5k for a little longer than that. As a solid mid to back of the pack runner depending on the size of the race, nothing frustrates me more than races running out of post-race food/water before everyone is finished!

Overall though, I thought this was a great race, and I felt great running it the whole time! I'll definitely be returning next year!