Challenge Wednesday #23: Its time for an adventure

So, there was a selfish reason for my question for Tracey at Control the Chaos this week.  I want to see as much of Scotland as we can while we are here...and I think her family's hobby could become one of my family's hobby AND help us see parts of the country that we wouldn't have thought of.  Hopefully you all can benefit from it too!

Oh, and you'll want stick around til the end.  Because there MIGHT be a link to a give-away.  Just sayin'. 

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I know I'm a geek. I'm married to a geek, and we have geek children. If you can identify with me and my geekiness, then you will understand why I am so excited to guest post today on Jen's blog.

Every Wednesday, Jen and I take turns trading blog homes. Last week, Jen asked me to come over and write about my family's favorite hobby: geocaching.

In her own words: "So Tracey, would you please tell me about your favorite geocaching experience and about any key things that we need to know if when we start doing it?  "

Woo Hoo! I think a little background information is in order. Like, for instance, what the heck is geocaching? And how in the world did you start?

Well, I'd be happy to answer those questions for you. Plus probably some that you didn't ask. 

Geocaching is, simply put, a high tech treasure hunt. Actual boxes, or caches, are hidden all over the world. In fact, odds are you've walked past or over or under several and not known it. You find a geocache using GPS coordinates, clues, and a little bit of "geosense."

We first started geocaching when we were living in Japan and were looking for a way to keep the kids engaged while we were out sightseeing. We registered for free at www.geocaching.com and immediately had access to hundreds of thousands of caches (that number is currently well over one million). You can search for caches in your area or by difficulty level, terrain, etc. 

a nose flute found in a cache
(don't worry, it was in a sealed bag!)
re-hiding the cache
Ok. Now on to Jen's questions. My favorite ever geocaching experience was probably when we took a trip to Luxembourg and spent the entire weekend geocaching. We decided to go at the last minute - we just needed to get away. So since we really had no agenda, we planned the trip around geocaching. We stayed in a beautiful area known for it's rock climbing and trails, and we created a list of caches close to our apartment. We packed a picnic lunch and spent two whole days out in nature, hiking and scrambling from cache to cache. We saw huge forests that went on forever, dark caves, and narrow paths between large rock formations. It was a perfect way to explore an area we probably would never have seen. And this is what keeps us caching - finding hidden beauty all over the world, having a destination off the beaten path, and working towards a common goal. It is truly a hobby that has something for the whole family. I enjoy seeing new things, my husband likes the puzzles, and my kids like the treasure hunt (many caches contain small toys for trading. You are welcome to take something from the cache as long as you replace it with a trinket of your own).

As far as key things to know, I do have a couple. The first day we tried geocaching we had a difficult time because we just didn't know what we were looking for. It's hard to picture until you see it for yourself. With that in mind, here are a few tips:

  • Start small. Remember when I said you can search by difficulty? Finding a couple easy ones will help you learn what you are looking for.
  • Keep trying! It takes a little learning to get the right mindset. Don't get discouraged too quickly.
  • If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend the geocaching app. You might not want to spring for the $10 app right away, but if you enjoy geocaching and want to stick with it, the app makes a huge difference. Wherever you go, you can just hit a button and search for geocaches in the area. Makes for fun spontaneous caching sprees.
  • Have fun and enjoy the new things you get to see along the way.

Well, I think I've rambled long enough. The only thing left is for you to get out and try it! And, you don't even have to be a geek like me to enjoy a fun and frugal family activity.

Ok, Jen. Here's your question for next week: What did you want to be when you grew up, did you follow your dream, and how are you making your dreams a reality in your current situation?

Can't wait to hear your response.

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Thanks for the post Tracey; I am so excited to try this.  Oh!  And guess what?  Tracey has a giveaway happening right now....make sure you head on over there to check it out!


Choose Joy

One of the things that I haven't been writing about as much lately {other than this post about friends} is being an expatriate.  Since there are some newer readers visiting my blog these days, here are the bullet points:

Obviously I miss the people that we are far away from, especially with my son's 3rd birthday approaching.  And then I've also been missing the comforts of home, knowing people {babysitters!}, knowing the stores, not needing a GPS for every drive.  
 And the spaces that we had worked on to make our own just before we moved.

But then I come across inspirational stories, like Ashley's. See that "Choose Joy" button on the right hand side of my blog? That is a new addition that will be staying around for awhile. Click on it (or below) to read more about her story. In short, during the last year she has: lost her father to a sudden heart attack (he was only 64!), had a miscarriage, a traumatic emergency hysterectomy, and she is now facing cancer with chemotherapy.  

Crazy difficult, right?  But she has made "Choose Joy" her motto in life.  And thru it all, she is doing that. Amazing. Even with all that, she is spreading the joy by passing out bracelets with the "choose joy" motto on them to random strangers.  

And so, even if I might be feeling homesick, contemplating if I should put the effort into make new friends in Scotland and not exactly enjoying this continuous cloudy, rainy weather...my plan is to "Choose Joy".  
We went one of our first sightseeing trips on Saturday {very short, about 20 minutes away} to the Falkirk Wheel.
It was raining, windy and the Wheel was actually not working.  But I decided to enjoy it anyways.  And be happy because I know it is so close we can go again.
 Even if J#3 was a bit crabby about being there.  Or just about having his photo taken.
 Because its never long before he is smiling again.

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Sweet Shot Day


Day 37. {And the Legend of Baggy Pants}

Do you remember the movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance"?

Source: imdb.com via Jenny on Pinterest

It holds a special place in my heart.  J#1 and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon.  And since there were a few too many days at sea, we did turn on the television a few times.  And every time we turned it on?  "The Legend of Bagger Vance" was playing.

Every. single. time.

J#1 nicknamed it "the legend of baggy pants".  Now, I can't really get that out of my head.

What does this have to do with my weight loss?
My pants are baggy.

But I have a conundrum  {I love that word.  And the wine.  Just sayin'}.

I have pants that are too baggy, and they don't really look all that great.  And then I have jeans that are on the smaller side, that on certain days are TOO small.  Until I lose the next 10 or so pounds.  Know what I mean?

So the baggy pants remain.  Sigh.  And that my friends, is "the legend of baggy pants".

Alright, now on to the numbers.
Weight check-in:
Starting weight (this week): 202.2
Goal weight for week (1%): 200.2
End weight:  201

Total weight loss (since start):  13.8 pounds 

So.  Maybe that's why I told the pointless story?  So I could avoid the fact that I didn't hit my goal weight for the week?  Chalk it up to being the week "off" between games.  And even though I was going to continue to play against myself, well...I did.  But then I gave myself a bit too much leeway.  My starting weight for this round of the game will be higher than that ending weight up there.  Yup.  Amazing what one day can do.  Or two.  {hanging head}

But today is a new day.  And a new game.  After two months of playing the game against other folks, I am sure that I will be able to play hard against myself.

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Waist Watcher Wednesday


Beautiful spaces

Do you have a space that is your's?  Somewhere you look forward to going to?

I do now.

And this is during the day.  

There are "fairy lights" {a.k.a. Christmas twinkly lights} for mood lighting at night. 


Five Minute Friday: Grit {but on a Saturday}

Better late than never, right?

Today's word for Five Minute Friday is GRIT.

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I want to be that girl.

That girl that has it all together.

How does that happen? Is it something in our brains?  That makes us someone who has it all together...or someone who doesn't.

It might look like I do, but I don't.

Those girls who...

  • are confident
  • don't worry about what everyone else thinks
  • have grit
  • have determination
That is what I want.  How do I find it?   

Do I pray about it?  Do I try new and different things to try and seek it out?  Or do I just wait for it to come to me?  

You would think with the lemons (or limes...nah, maybe onions) life has thrown me, I would have learned this by now.  But, alas, I haven't.  

I don't want this to be a dark place.  A dark post.  I just want to figure out some answers.  I want to find my place in the world (that sure sounds 'cheesy' doesn't it?).  I've now lived in three countries, and that sure isn't helping me find my way. 

I want to be that girl that doesn't worry about posting this post.  That doesn't wonder "what will they think?"  But I am.  And I will wonder. 

And I will keep searching for the answers.  Because I know that HE has a plan for me.  And this is all part of it.  

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Challenge Wednesday #22: Find me...

over HERE at Tracey's blog home, Control the Chaos.  I'm talking about how we plan on taking advantage of living in Scotland over the next 18 months or so.


Dear plane, take me home to my friends.

It's funny.

One minute I am thinking and feeling like I don't miss home a bit.  And then the next minute?

I wish I was on the next plane to the States.  

There are so many reasons why that feeling ebbs and flows. But today? Its all about my friends.

I am so happy that the friendships I have are strong enough to withhold the test of time.  They lasted thru almost two years in New Jersey and they will last the three years that we are in Europe.  I have no doubts.

Things will change of course.  That is inevitable.  But we will still be friends.  Some friendships may take time to build back up...but then, maybe they won't.

Actually, they probably won't.

Because I have been smart enough to maintain the friendships that matter the most. That are the strongest.  That WILL withstand time and distance.

I have maintained friendships that are a two-way street.  That have give & take.  The friends I have in my life?  I could call them sisters.  Because they are like that for me.  They will always be there for me.

And, without a doubt, I will always be there for them.

Thank you God.  I am so lucky to have more MORE than one true friend.

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Fast becoming one of my favorite link-ups: 


Day 30. (with a tiny suprise)

I have a surprise for ya'll.  Remember this post, when I said there weren't going to be any photos until I was 12 weeks (or 84 days) in?

Well, I decided to post one before that...you just need to wait a couple of minutes.

Here's the deats.  A good week {most likely thanks to a certain friend that was visiting me during the last weigh-in...sometimes being a woman is NOT fun}:

Weight check-in:
Starting weight (this week): 206.6
Goal weight for week (1%): 204.5
End weight:  202.2

Total weight loss (since start):  12.6 pounds 

Can I get a "WhoopWhoop!"?  Ha.  Kidding.  

But seriously.  I don't expect these kinds of results every month.  But, I am on my way.  

And with that, the first session of "Game On" is complete.  We ARE doing another round of the game, so if you are feeling the urge to join in?  Shoot me a comment below.  We will start a week from today.  For all of the details and "rules" click here to see the original post I wrote about it or visit the Game On website. 

I am going to play against myself now too.  I have a "bank" that I will being working for.  Essentially the % of points I get each week will equal a certain amount of $s.  But I can tell you about that some other time.  I DID give myself an extra day off (and will at the end of each "session" or four week period).  

This is NOT easy (but its worth it!).  And I don't want to drive myself crazy.  

So my habits for the next session (this week + our 4 week game)? 
Good habit:  Read a devotional (starting with the Purpose Driven Life) daily. 
Bad habit:     Stop being complacent with oral hygiene (= flossing daily & brushing teeth 2 times/day)

Alright...here is the picture.  I find it amazing how when I feel better about my body, I actually want to put an outfit together.  Oh, and of course, I still need to work on taking photos of myself.  Please tell me it gets better with practice. 
both tanks & sweater: Target, jeans: H&M, necklace: Lia Sophia, 
earrings: Tesco Extra 

So, after 4 weeks in, here is a quick before & after: 
Before Photos: tank & shirt: Target, jeans: Old Navy

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Linkin' up with Real Momma, Real Style and The Pleated Poppy  and the Transatlantic Blonde for What I Wore Wednesdays. 


"Here Comes the Sun"

That could be my new theme song. 

Springtime is approaching.  I can feel it.  I can almost smell it.  We've had a few days where the sun has been shining big and bright (well today, it just started in the afternoon, but still...).
And we got out and enjoyed it. When it is nearly 50* in February and you have a park a block from your house? There shouldn't be any excuses.  

Sun is good for us. Obviously.  

And living in Scotland, where they evidently suggest everyone {not just infants} take Vitamin D supplements?  It is a commodity. 

Around these parts, we are all taking new steps... 
Tentative steps.  A little girl taking her first steps outside, changing terrains, holding herself up and moving on.

And the big girl {me}.    Coming to the realization that my life is my job right now.  And jobs?  I take those seriously.  So even though I don't love being responsible for all of our housecleaning, all of our cooking and all of our planning...I'm going to love it.

Because it means I get to watch those tentative steps.  I get to make life easier for my husband, my #1.

I get to see this sister with her brother on a see-saw for the first time.  If I love ALL of it, I get to love life.
 Right here.  And now.  How can I not be grateful for that?

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The Fontenot Four

Thankful Thursdays Button


Challenge Wednesday #21

Hey folks!  It's Challenge Wednesday again.  Are you wondering what that is?  Well, I'll let Tracey tell you.... 

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Howzit. Remember me? Tracey from Control the Chaos? Yeah, I thought so. If not, let me sum up: every week Jenny and I take turns on each other's blogs. We give each other things to do, questions to ponder, all in an effort to live in the now, expand our horizons, and tell a story. You can click on that link above to see the kinds of things I write, or to see Jen's post from last week. But right now, I'm here to discuss these questions:

How are things going with your bucket list?  Any new additions? Anything crossed off the list? 

And boy, these are definitely good questions to answer. I have been thinking of my Bucket List lately, which was initially inspired by Jen in a previous challenge. I haven't visited it in a while, so now is a great time to do that, don't you think?

Even though it hasn't been updated recently, I have been making progress on a few of the items.

For instance, I completed a marathon in October, which was #1 on my list. Yay! The second item also focuses on running, which I love to do. However, now that I proved I could go the distance, I'm more interested in getting speedy. Not record breaking speedy, but competitive speedy. So, I'd like to run 5k in 25 minutes. This is a pretty lofty goal, and I am currently at about 27-28 minutes for a 5k. Still a long way to go, but I've been making progress by incorporating High Intensity Interval Training into my runs. It's been veeerrrry cold here, though, so I've been too much of a wimp to actually try a 5k outside. I hope to time myself again in a couple days, if I quit being such a pansy. I hate the cold.

I also want to read the entire Bible. I am currently following a "Read the Bible in a Year" program with a pastor friend and his family. And our old ohana in Hawaii. Church family. Yes, that's quite a long time to take to finish the Bible, but I am enjoying the small pieces that I can fit into a lifestyle that includes 3 kids and a husband who travels. I feel like I am able to digest it sometimes rather than simply read it as fast as possible. It's nice.

Sadly, I must delete our trip to Uganda. The friends we were planning to visit were suddenly and unexpectedly compelled to leave Uganda and return to the USA. We will not be able to go without them. We are hoping to replace it with another bucket list item, a trip to South Africa this fall.

And speaking of traveling, this weekend I can cross my "visit Scandinavia" off the list. 

Source: google.com via Cara on Pinterest

We're going to Oslo! No matter that I hate the cold and we're traveling to Norway in winter. A place that currently averages three hours of light per day. 

And as for additions? Well, I think it's about time to add homesteading to the list. We hope to move back to America, buy some land, and have a homestead. Like, with animals and a garden. One day, it will happen. Just wait and see.

And now, Jen, I want to know how you are living in the moment in Scotland. What kind of things have you explored? What memories are you making? What opportunities are you taking advantage of while you are living in the UK? Come on, spill the beans, we want details!
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Thanks for the update Tracey!  Oslo?!  Sounds fun.  And all I have to say is that that setting {even if it is just an example} is absolutely idyllic.   Makes me want to move to the country when we head back to the States.  Rolling hills....

Oh, we have rolling hills in Scotland!  Can't wait to tell you about life here next week.  

Till then, be happy! 


Being Brave...with fashion?

So, remember back in the day?

Which day?  The day when I talked about my ONE WORD for 2012.


I haven't talked much about it since {don't worry, a general update will be coming}, but lately I have been thinking about how it relates to fashion.  I know...that may be a bit shallow.

Source: polyvore.com via Jenny on Pinterest

But on the other hand...so much of what we look like affects our confidence {at least for me...how about you?}.  I have always watched with admiration on a few websites as moms and bloggers post about what they are wearing. Like Lindsay's {she started it all}, Nina's, and more.

They do it to keep themselves accountable on a daily basis so that they actually "get ready for the day".  It started with stay at home and work at home mama's, and has grown to include ladies who work outside the home.

Source: polyvore.com via Jenny on Pinterest

So...I am thinking about jumping in and joining them.  Even though I'm NOT at a weight where I feel comfortable doing it.

To start out with, I thought I'd start with a "what i WANT to wear" post.  That's what has been interspersed throughout this post.  Clothes I want to wear {love these pins!}...and that I will once I'm at a weight where I actually want to buy clothes!

So what do you think?  Should I?  Could I?

It might be sort of boring to start out with...I don't have a lot of clothes.  But maybe it would inspire me to switch it up a bit?

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pleated poppy

Top 10 Tuesday: Why my Mom is better than your Mom

Kidding on that title by the way, I am sure that your Mom is just as fabulous as mine.  Well, maybe.  Unless she isn't.

So the reason for a post about my Mom today?

Today is my Mom's Birthday.  Yup, Valentine's day.  Guess what her name would have been had she been a boy...

So, in honor of her birthday, the top 10 reasons I'm glad she's my Mom (in no particular order):

1.  She traveled to New Jersey AND the Netherlands and spent several weeks caring for me {c-sections both times} and my littles when they were born.

Mar 6 2009, New Jersey

Feb 1 2011, Netherlands

2.  She can enjoy a good episode of The Bachelor just as much as me. {Although it's usually because of me that she's watching.}
Feb 13 2010
3.   I can completely be myself around her, cranky moods and all.

4.  She's a great lunch or dinner date.  Food, drinks and conversation with someone who knows everything about you? Yes, please, and thank you.

5.  She is an inspiration health and diet wise.  She lost the weight and kept it off.

6.  She is one of the best grandma's in the land.

7.  In an effort to stay connected with her kids and grandkids she is willing to still learn new technologies {with the help of her "help desks"...my sister-in-law and me}

8.  Through all of the things that have happened in both of our lives, including many moves {on my part}and marriages {on both of our parts}, our relationship has stayed as strong and unchanged as it has ever been.  Having that constant in my life is awesome.

9.  She is always a good shopping buddy.

10.  She was smart enough to give birth to me.   {haha.  ha.}

So, Mom...my most faithful blog reader {# reason 11}...Happy Birthday!!!

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Top Ten {Tuesday}


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