Tag Archives: hilton head island


I know I shouldn’t complain about the cold weather here in New Jersey.  My uncle lives in Fairbanks, Alaska where it has been negative 40 degrees for days, but I don’t live in Alaska and I never will!!! In New Jersey, we expect some cold days.  That is one of the greatest thing about living here.  We get to experience all four seasons in their glory! I can’t stand this though. It has been so long since it has been warm!

Today, the “Capture your 365” photo prompt was Depth of Field. A difficult one to find something I could also write about, but from what I understand, the photo challenge is to get photographers really thinking about their shots.  I looked around the house wondering what to shoot because there was no way I was going outside! I found these shells that Drew had collected while we were in Hilton Head last April.  It made me think of the beach and warmth and wound up photographing beautifully.  I took so many photos, focusing on the intricacies of each shell, never realizing how beautiful and individual each one was.

This photo captures the huge one he found laying on the beach one morning while we were watching the sunrise.  Inside of it was a tinier one that nestled in perfectly.  I turned it to black and white just to enhance the details of the shell. This might not be exactly, “Depth of field” but it was my favorite.  I might even frame it!

For about fifteen minutes, as I photographed them, I actually wasn’t cold anymore.  Only a month or so until Spring!  I cannot wait!!


Yearly Wrap Up

abe lincoln

Two years.  730 posts. Over 118,000 views. As I looked back on my second year of blogging, I went through it month by month and realized just how uneventful and mundane a lot of it really was.  Yet, people are still reading it.  More than once I thought of stopping.  Next year should be a more interesting one.  DJ will be going to college – a totally new adventure!  There should be a lot more to write about.

2013 was a difficult year for us with all of the heartbreak and loss in our family.  2014 was less eventful.  A good thing! This blog has allowed me the opportunity to look back though.  It reminds me of all of those little things that make up our lives.

So….my 2014 year in review…

I think what I wrote most often about this year was SNOW!  There was so much of it.  One of the snowiest winters on record.  I lost count of how many times I wrote about snow in January and February! We went over our allotted snow days for school and even had to give back days during Spring Break.  It will be nice to get a break from all of that snow this winter!  One or two snow days are perfect!

I was so proud of our school community after another successful Food Drive and Pajama Drive and it has only made me want to do more!

We quietly “celebrated” and remembered mom and Francine on their one year anniversaries.  I have heard that the first year without our loved ones is the most difficult.  All of the “firsts” go by without them.  It does seem to be getting easier though.

We got to go away in April! Something we hadn’t done in a long time.  Hilton Head was the perfect Spring Break getaway for us!

For Mother’s Day, in memory of my mom, I got a tattoo of a duck on my wrist.  A way to remember her every time I see it!

DJ got his drivers license – and I have to admit, it has made life easier in some respects!!  We spent a lot of time together exploring colleges!

The toughest part of 2014 was the amount of time my dad spent in the hospital.  Too many days to recap here, but May 21st began his ordeal.  After a diagnosis of a Urinary tract infection that led to sepsis, he wound up being in the hospital and then a rehab center for over four weeks.  Then, a relapse and back in the hospital for about a week in September.  Fortunately, other than his bad knees, he is doing much better.

This summer, I was able to meet up with the woman who inspired me to become a teacher.  Miss Lampros, my 4th grade teacher.

We also had a lot to celebrate this year. I was fortunate to attend two weddings this year, Both of them are coworkers of mine. Stefanie’s in March and Jonathan‘s in August.  My grandmother turned 99 in September and we celebrated all summer with visits from our cousins from Nevada.

Our year was filled with sports.  Soccer, baseball, football, hockey, mudruns….games we played, games we watched….our lives wouldn’t be complete without sports!

Overall, it was a good year. Recapping it on the last day of a year is good for me.  A way to reflect on the past.

Next year, I will try to keep it on writing.  I have thought about different directions to take the blog.  A fun photo challenge has inspired me and I am working on a way to incorporate it into the blog. A lot happens in 365 days so only time will tell!

Turning a Loss Into a Win

saving money

Last year, the best present of Christmas was one that I gave to Dave and the boys. It was The 52 Week Money Challenge.  I had wrapped up a box filled with over $1300 that I had saved all year.  The plan was to use it for Spring Break and we did.  We went to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina and had a great time. The plan was that we would do it again this year.

I tried. I really did, but with Dave still out of work and more money being taken out of each pay check for benefits/insurance, there wasn’t as much “extra” money to do it.  I did not have as much photo work as I had the earlier in the year, although that began to pick up later in the year. So this year, I just wasn’t able to do the challenge completely.  I got close, but was disappointed because all year I had looked forward to wrapping up that box again and saying, “Where should we go this year??!!”

I had kept it a secret again but told Dave about it last weekend. I just purchased a new camera.  A splurge on myself way beyond my means.  My old camera was amazing, but after five years, it was getting tired and old and it was time to upgrade.  In the end, I had saved $900 of the $1300 in the money challenge.  I put that money towards the new camera instead. It was a HUGE amount to spend on myself. Something I never do.  It will definitely get put to good use – but I still feel some guilt over spending it all on myself.

I will try to do the challenge again next year, but with college looming over our heads for DJ, we will just have to see what happens.



The last time we made the trip to Hilton Head, our car was bigger, the boys were smaller and we did not have a dog!  This trip, Dave and I became experts at what we liked to call our personal Tetris/Jenga as we packed up our Jeep Liberty.  The last time we took the drive there, we had a Chevrolet Trailblazer that had so much room!!  I absolutely LOVE our Jeep, but had no idea how much I missed the roominess of the Trailblazer until this trip.  We left yesterday, knowing that we had about fifteen hours of driving ahead of us.  We knew we could take our time just like our ride down.

We left the condo around three o’clock, after taking our time on the island and drove until we arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina. We decided to stay at the same place, a Marriott Residence Inn.  The accommodations were great when we stayed there on the way down and had the added benefit of being pet friendly so we figured we’d go back there.  Plus, free hot breakfast 🙂  Can’t beat that!!

We enjoyed our ride so much driving to Hilton Head, that we decided to take the same route home, even if it was a little bit longer.  Route 95 gets so crowded and there is so much traffic that Route 13 seemed a much less stressful way to go.  Once again, the ride was beautiful.  There was so much to see.  We saw farmland and old historic towns and landmarks all the way.  As we crossed The Chesapeake Bay, we even saw a submarine setting out for sea.  Dave joked that he felt like he was watching, “The Hunt for Red October.” I know some might think it is just a bridge, but to see this immense structure, that goes over the water and then under the water several times was truly astounding to me.  There is a point where you can see the bridge in front of you and it looks like it just disappears into the water, (one of the tunnels.)  The pictures I took do it no justice at all.  I just could not get the magnitude of it in a photo.

Because we had Emmy Lou with us, we could not stop anywhere for long breaks.  We just took a few stops for gas, snacks, bathroom breaks for us and walks for her,  We hit no traffic…until Exit 7 on The New Jersey Turnpike.  Then, it started to rain.  Welcome home.  The short ride from there felt like the longest part of the trip home.  We finally made it home after riding in the car for a total of 11 hours today and 6 yesterday.  Dave did all of the driving.  His choice.  I think he likes it better driving than sitting in the passenger seat.  That was fine with me.  As I watched the scenery as we drove, I realized why people give New Jersey such a bad rap.   Even half way up the turnpike it was a pretty ride. Then, we hit exit 13.  Seaports, factories, refineries, smokestacks, traffic, strange odors…it all adds up.  I get it.  BUT, it seems that people seem to gather in places that have a lot to offer.  Perhaps that’s the reason for all of the congestion.  All you need to do is just go a few miles off the turnpike and you will find yourself in plenty of beautiful areas!  Anyone who lives here knows that!

It is always nice to get home, but now reality sets in.  Back to the real world tomorrow.  At least we have Sunday to get to the grocery store, get laundry done and finish up lesson plans for school.  Vacations give us the opportunity to rejuvenate, refresh and unwind.  It was just what we all needed.


So hard to leave


We have had such a great week here in Hilton Head.  We were going to leave tomorrow, but after thinking about the amount of time it takes to drive here, we decided that today would be a better choice.  Drew and Dave have games to play on Sunday and we were really going to be pushing it to drive the entire way in one day.  Even splitting it up between the two of us, we’d still have a fifteen hour drive without stopping.

The weather has been fantastic the whole time.  Mid seventies to low eighties.  Just perfect for us.  Not too hot, but just right.  Today, was supposed to be a rainy day, but it is quite the opposite.  It is gorgeous out making it harder to leave.  We have been taking our time but we are about to pack up the car and get on our way.

The place we rented is somewhere I would love to stay again.  We had been so worried about Emmy Lou not adapting well but even she did great and I think she likes it here as much as we do.  Normally we are creatures of habit and always find ourselves going to the same restaurants to eat whenever we come down here, but this time we “ventured” out and tried a few new places and I am so glad we did!  For anyone heading down this way, don’t miss out on Annie O’s or Jump and Phil’s.  Two new favorites!!

It is always sad to say goodbye after a vacation and to a week with no schedules and time constraints, but tomorrow will bring us back to reality.  Back to the real world.



I feel very fortunate to get to live in New Jersey.  Despite the bad rap it gets from television and movies, it is a pretty great state.  From our house, we have the mountains an hour to the north and the beach an hour to the south.  My father has a house in the Poconos, which is a great, quiet getaway. A place we have always loved going to relax.  There is a rambling creek that runs behind the back of the house that is so soothing.

My mom loved it up there.  We all did!  Although I enjoy the time we spend there, I also LOVE the beach.  There is just something about it that makes me so happy.  I wish we took more time to go “down the shore” more often.

This is one of the reasons I love  Hilton Head so much.  This year, the place we are renting is less than a five minute walk to the beach.  Last night, Dave, Drew and I took a bike ride along the ocean. We went after sunset but it was still beautiful.

Drew has been asking to go find shells and sea glass.  I wanted to see the sunrise.  This morning, he set his alarm so that we could get out there early and satisfy both of our desires!!

Sunrise was at 6:44 am so when the two of us headed over to the beach, it was still pretty dark out.  When we first arrived he picked out our spot to sit, and as we saw the sky turn a pretty shade of pink, we knew we had made the right choice!  As we sat there, on a nearly empty beach, sea birds were flying all around us.  The sun appeared – right on schedule 🙂  The only word I can think to describe it is “glorious.”  Even Drew was mesmerized by it.  We took lots of pictures!  I cannot believe that I have never taken the time to sit out and actually do this before.  I know I have seen the sun rise and set over the water before, usually in a car or from inside somewhere, but to get up early and make it a point to be there and watch as it happened was really quite a site.  Drew already asked if we can do it again tomorrow!

His mission to find sea glass was futile but as we walked we found a lot of conch shells, (at least that is what I think they are called.)  Small ones at first and then…JACKPOT!  A big one.  He was so excited.  We made sure nothing was alive in any of them.  He must have gathered at least twelve of them.  An older woman on the beach saw his collection and told him she rarely sees shells that big on that beach so that certainly made Drew’s shell expedition a success!  He found a sand dollar but those have to be thrown back in the water.  They aren’t allowed to be taken from the beach.  They are pretty to look at though, so we took a picture to remember.

Maybe we will get up and do it again tomorrow… It was definitely a morning I’d like to repeat.  Who knows, we might even be able to convince DJ to wake up and join us…we can always hope!

Happy Easter


Today is Easter Sunday.  Here in Hilton Head, you’d never know it was a holiday other than the packed church we attended for mass at Holy Family Catholic Church this morning.  Everything is open.  Restaurants, supermarkets, mini-golf… I guess nothing closes in resort towns.

It was still drizzling and dreary when I woke up this morning.  Everyone else was still asleep so I decided to head out to the beach for my run/walk this morning.  Our condo is less than a five minute walk from it so it was perfect.  It was pretty chilly, especially out on the ocean but although I have been to the beach hundreds of times, I have never actually gone for a run out there.  I felt invigorated running despite the chilly weather.  The workout with C25k is a quick one so I was back in thirty minutes.  Everyone was still asleep so I sat in front of the television and ate my breakfast.

We decided ahead of time that the Easter Bunny was not going to be visiting us here in Hilton Head.  The boys aren’t little anymore and totally understood.  We had decided last night that we’d meet my dad and brothers for mass at 10:00 so everyone got up and got dressed.  Drew had been planning for weeks to wear his new bowtie  and button down shirt -with shorts of course.  He makes us laugh sometimes.  For a kid who is most comfortable in sweatshirts and shorts, he whips out his “inner fashionista” every now and then and certainly makes a statement.

There are only two Catholic churches on the island so we knew it would be crowded.  Evidently, so did Holy Family.  They had masses scheduled every half hour, running in the main church and the main hall.  It was like a factory, but nice to see so many people coming out to celebrate Easter Sunday.

The boys went for a late breakfast with my dad and brothers.  Dave and I headed back home.  He’s making spaghetti and meatballs for Easter dinner.  I worked on getting the computer internet connection working.  We were having some trouble with it, but it is up and working now!!

The sun has come out and although it hasn’t warmed up much past 60 degrees, it is showing signs of a beautiful week ahead!  If we could just get it warm enough to sit out by the pool and ocean, it will be perfect.  Tomorrow we are due for temperatures in the 70’s so that will be a great start.

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday for all those who celebrate.



Change is good!


We made it to Hilton Head Island. This year we decided to take a different route. We have driven here several times and always went the same way. Straight down Route 95 from New Jersey through South Carolina. This year since we were stopping at a few colleges on the way we took another route. A more scenic route. The speed limit was slower and every now and then we would have traffic lights to stop at, but overall we liked the ride much better. We saw a part of the East Coast that we have never seen before.

The ride down reminded me a lot of “Cars the Movie.” Although there were many places all built up and running, there were also a lot of places that were dilapidated and falling down as well. It was kind of depressing. You could almost imagine what it was once like there. It was so interesting to see.

We saw so much farmland and old railroad tracks. When we take Route 95 it is just highway – the whole way. Even Dave and the kids agreed that they all preferred going this way. It might have added on an hour to the ride but I’d suggest we do it again next time. Another benefit was when we heard about the horrible traffic all the way down Route 95! We definitely made the right choice!

We stopped at two colleges on the way down but since it was Good Friday not much was open at either one of them. We still went around both campuses and we got to see what was there. DJ seemed happy about looking at them. I guess it is making it “real” for him.

We decided to spend the night when we got to Raleigh, North Carolina. We had never been there before so it was a good place to stop. We had to find a hotel that was pet friendly since Emmy Lou was with us. DJ found a place online so we called it and got a great deal on a room. It was a Marriott Residence Inn, so we figured it couldn’t be too bad, but the rate was so good, we were a little bit nervous about going to a place sight unseen.

Not only were the accommodations great, we actually had a small suite, but this morning there was a free hot buffet breakfast for us. Drew loaded up on waffles and strawberries and Dave had his fill of sausage and biscuits. I’d highly recommend this place to anyone headed to Raleigh.

Despite the weather today being rainy, we had another drive with no traffic down to Hilton Head. The place we are renting is awesome! Big, spacious and right near the beach. We are so happy.

My dad and brothers arrived too. They are staying on the same plantation, in a complex just down the road. Will head to dinner in just a little while, then back to our home away from home for the week.

I love vacation!



spring break waiting

I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas!!  Only four days till we leave for Spring Break.  With our very tight budget, I saved and saved for this and FINALLY it is here!  It seemed so far away when I gave the box of money to the boys for Christmas and now it is here!  We have been counting down the hours for a week now!  We are off to Hilton Head Island.  A place I spent many spring breaks as a teenager. My dad has a time share there, so we had gone for years.  This year, his “week” just happens to be our week so he is going down too.

Dave and I are going to drive down with the kids and take a few stops along the way to visit colleges with DJ.  My dad is bringing my brothers with him and they are taking the train.  They have always flown down in the past so this will be an adventure for them.  We will all be staying on the same plantation while we are there, but in different locations.

My kids have been there before, but it has been awhile since we have gone away so our excitement is barely containable!  The kids have been planning out all the places we need to go while we are there.  We have favorite restaurants and favorites shops that we want to go back to.  The boys want to try golf this trip.  There is no shortage of golfing there!  We have always suck to mini golf in the past but the boys seem up for the challenge and want to get out on one of the beautiful courses.

It will be so nice just to get away.  There is a kitchen and washer and dryer where we are staying, so we will be doing cooking, cleaning and laundry, but for some reason, when we are doing it somewhere else, it just doesn’t seem so hard!  Perhaps it is the beach, or the warm weather, or maybe it is not having to work or be on any schedule, but whatever it is, it is still a vacation.  A week away but so needed and so deserved.

Only 85 hours till we leave 🙂