My Crazy, Busy but Blessed Life

I got home from Mexico on June 3rd. That was 25 days ago. But it feels like months. Since that day, IĀ have kept quite busy and thought that I would share snip-its of what I’ve been up to with a list and some pictures. So far in the month of June I have:

– attended birthday parties for two friends (both with amazingly delicious, home-cooked meat!)

IMG_2157– played in a pick-up kickball game and organized our team for this season

– driven through LA to Turlock, CA to spend time with my boyfriend’s family and explore the town where he grew up

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– gone on walks, seen movies, or grabbed meals with some of my favorite people

– taken care of a pair of adorable cats for a week

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– attended my first four Spanish classes (and take my first test!)

– gone on several incredibly fun local dates with Sean

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– flown to VA/NC for my friend Paige’s bachelorette weekend

DSCN1209The list could go on and on, but I don’t want to bore y’all. I think you get the point by now that I have been loving life… even if it’s been a bit crazy šŸ™‚ On top of all of this fun stuff, I have been working 25-30 hours a week at Halstrom Academy. For those of you that don’t remember, it’s the same company I taught and wrote curriculum for before I moved. I’m loving my group of students this semester and am really enjoying being back in the classroom.

Going forward, I will try to update some more but I will be honest with y’all… I am going to be all over the United States this summer with another trip to NC/VA, a long weekendĀ in CO, a drive up to SF, and a flight to Iowa. All before Labor Day. But you know I love it and I wouldn’t change my wanderer lifestyle for the world, especially since all of those trips involved celebrating special people doing incredible and wonderful things (race and weddings)! For now, I’m going to stretch my legs before boarding a flight from RDU to ORD on my way home from an amazing weekend at Wrightsville Beach… more on that soon!

Lovely Ladies in my Life

I should start this post by saying that I grew up with TONS of guy friends. I have never been a “girly girl” or a “princess” or stayed up late braiding hair and painting nails… okay, maybe once or twice in college. In college, my friend circle shifted from 80% male to 50/50 male/female. Since college, I have found myself surrounded by amazing ladies and I love it! My core contacts from the east coast are women that I’ve known for 10+ years and I find myself constantly calling, texting and snapchatting them. They are the council members of my life and I couldn’t make it without them. That being said, I have been developing a growing network of girls here in California that I love SO much. Most of us are in a book club together and all of them are amazingly beautiful women, inside and out. Some I’ve actually known from back in Virginia while others became friends through church, kickball, or other friends.

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This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with them! A while back, we bought a Groupon to go wine tasting at Miramonte Winery in Temecula. This is wine country for southern California and I’ve only been to one vineyard once, for a wedding last year. We were excited to taste some delicious wines, get a tour of the grounds, and learn a bit about wine identification. But really just tasting the delicious wines. Our tour director was pretty good, used his canned jokes while he explained the history of the place, and stuck to his automatic pourer for portions. Boo. Luckily most of us had preferences on which wines we liked so we shared the extras around our circle. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the scenery could not have been prettier! We also got to peek into the wine cellar where wine was being aged in $5,000 barrels. Insane!

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After our walking tour with the white wines, we moved inside the tasting room for a lesson on pairings and identification. It was interesting to learn about color circles and legs and clarity in red wines, even though they aren’t my favorite to drink. In theory, I can now tell you how old and from which part of the world they come from! In theory… But we also got hummus and chocolate and cheese plates to go with our wines. I’ll be totally honest though, I never tasted much difference in the wine when paired with the food. But I was glad for the snacks! I enjoyed this tour and mini-lesson, as well as the wines, but to be honest I didn’t think it was anything exceptional. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by wine tastings when I know the barista, but I’d rather just buy a bottle and relax on the patio while drinking it.

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After wine tasting we all went our separate ways for a few hours, before four of us reconvened down in Mission Valley at In Cahoots, a country line-dancing bar. We picked up a few friends and some of the boys along the way, but it still all about the girls and the fun we were having out on the dance floor. I enjoy organized dancing, but it’s so hard to pick up the moves in just one short song! I’ll have to keep practicing and see if I can get any better, lol. All in all though, it was just fun to hang out with some of the girls and catch up on our hectic lives. We all have tons of plans in May, luckily some of them are together, and one of us is moving back to the east coast soon, so I don’t know when the next time we will all be together. I definitely went to bed Saturday night feeling blessed to have such a great group of friends and thankful for the time we got this past weekend!

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P.S. Sunday afternoon saw three of us girls dressing up for Cinco de Mayo while playing in our last regular season kickball game with the guys. So I guess some things will never really change šŸ˜‰

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Living Life in Leucadia

It has been SO long since I last posted about settling into California, oops? I’m excited to get back to posts about crazy adventures on the “Best Coast”. Jury is still out there, but for right now I’m leaning West. Anyway, so I told you that I bought a new car (SUV) and it’s still amazing. I have not picked out a name yet, but I’m sure that will come. For now, I’m just excited that I’ve driven over 1,000 miles so the engine is broken in and I can use cruise control. Work at Halstrom is going well, my hours are continuing to build and for right now it looks like I’ll be teaching a lot of AP World History and Algebra II, both of which are fine by me! I’m getting to know the new staff members and students and everyone seems really nice so far, so that’s great!

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After a lot of searching that really began back in North Carolina, I finally found an apartment and have moved in. I wanted to be in the Encinitas area again, since living this close to the beach is amazing and I like to walk to restaurants and stores when I can. My top priorities were two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, and parking of some sort… and obviously proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Several places fell through or changed at the last-minute or I was the second applicant and it was starting to look like April 1st was my new move-in goal. But then I found a posting 23 minutes after it went live that looked great! I called the property manager, went over the next morning at 9am, applied on the spot, and signed the lease the next day. It was a bit crazy but it was the first place I’d seen with everything I wanted. And it was the cheapest place I’d looked at too! It’s a two-story “townhouse-style apartment” with the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and the living, dining, and kitchen downstairs. There’s a great under-the-stairs closet for all of my athletic and camping equipment and I have an assigned parking space. There are only ten units in the complex and we have an adorable courtyard with a make-shift fire pit, ping-pong table, and outdoor shower. I’m still getting to know my neighbors but they seem really chill without being obnoxious. Yay!

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Enough about the business side of life, now onto the fun side of things. I can’t believe that I haven’t even been back a month because (in true Karen fashion) I’ve hit the ground running! I’ve already taken a weekend trip to La Quinta in the desert with an incredible group of new and old friends (pictured above). Less than 24 hours after landing, kickball started back up for the season and I have a fantastic team this time around! We may not be at the top of the leader board, but I’d argue that we have the most fun. In addition to playing together on Sundays, a bunch of us have fallen into trivia on Tuesday nights. We won the first week, which got us hooked, and were third this week. Our prize for winning was a bar tab and we got an Easter basket of candy this week for third (even better!). Last night nine of us stayed out after midnight to see Furious 7 on opening night. For those of you on the fence, it’s 100% worth going to see. The Paul Walker tribute at the end was a bit drawn out for me, but the movie itself was just what you expect, lots of fast cars and hot girls with some street fighting mixed in.

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I’ve also spent a good bit of time reconnecting with my core group of girls out here. I hit up a Dan + Shay concert downtown one night (pictured below), I hiked Cowles Mountain in Mission Valley one day (picture at top of post), I went on a training run along the coast, and I celebrated the first birthday of a very special little girl another night. It’s so good to be back with my support network and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives the last four months. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guys and I miss my East Coast people… but my girlfriends here are pretty incredible. We are starting our book club back up too, so I look forward to reading some new novels and having crazy discussions once a month going forward.

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I also like to check in on my fitness/nutrition in these type of posts too. I have been struggling with workouts these last few weeks because I dropped a DVD player on my toe, which prohibited me from wearing shoes for a while. I also cracked a big toe while jumping on a trampoline with my favorite fifth graders. And my left upper-calf/knee are giving me some struggles. But I’ve registered for the La Jolla Half Marathon on April 26th in addition to the Tinkerbell Half in LA on May 10th, so we shall see. I am just excited to get back into racing and finish these two events with my friends that are running with me. Time won’t be so much of a factor this time around, but I do plan to have both of my contacts in for LJ šŸ˜‰ Oh! And I ran the Wellness 5k with Sean a few weekends ago. It was a smaller race, which was nice for a change. Sean ran his personal best 5k time and I won my age group, so we were both pleased with that! Immediately after the race, SK donated platelets and two days later I donated whole blood. It makes my heart happy to think about the lives we helped to save with those donations and I encourage all of you to sign up to donate blood this month, if you can!

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I’ve gotten some new Beachbody DVD’s to mix things up and they seem to be keeping me interested for now, but I’m craving getting back on the bike and in the pool. My road bike is being put back together on Monday and I need to figure out my plan for pool access so I can start triathlon training. Nutrition right now is taking a back burner just with the chaos of life. I’m re-adjusting to packing lunches and getting workouts/smoothies done before work, but it takes time and I’m trying to set realistic goals for myself. Finally, I have gotten actively involved in Girls on the Run again this season. My teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to coach, but I am a shoe fairy and am on the 5k planning committee. As a shoe fairy, I size girls on our scholarship teams for brand new shoes and then get to deliver them the following week. It’s like Christmas in April for these girls! If anyone in SD wants to help me cheer on our amazing girls at the 5k on May 17th, let me know! I’m in charge of coordinating the cheer stations, so any/all help that morning would be amazing… you get to dress up and be as crazy as you want… just saying.

Alright, that’s all for now but I promise not to wait another three weeks to post and happy Easter!!

East to West: STAT

My last update was posted from Virginia, where I was spending the week after moving out of North Carolina. I told y’all that I sold my car, Funshine, with no major issues. But that was last Friday morning, so what have I been up to since then? Maybe it’s better to ask what I haven’t been up to, lol. I’ll try to give you the quick overview below… but you’ll have to hustle to keep up šŸ˜‰

Friday after delivering Funshine to Carmax, Mom and I worked on a few projects at her house before she drove me to Dulles Airport to pick up my rental car. I took advantage of the (free) airport lanes on the toll road to cruise into Arlington to see my east coast girls. We met up at MexiCali Blue… in Clarendon?… to grab dinner and drinks. I absolutely love the three girls that met me (shown below: Katie, Katie, and Claire). We spent a few hours talking about life, work, boys, family, etc. It was very relaxing and fun, in spite of the cold weather and snow everywhere. Then I spent the night with little sister Katie in Arlington before heading down to Richmond on Saturday.

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Why was I drivingĀ to Richmond on Saturday (leaving at 8am)? Because the fourth of my lovely east coast girlfriends, Paige, is getting married this summer and has asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding! I feel so honored and excited, but Saturday was the day she’d picked (after learning that I was moving again) to have all of us bridesmaids get together to go dress shopping. We had a great time and settled on both a color and a style of dress fairly quickly before enjoying a nice lunch with the two mothers. I won’t post pictures from that group as I don’t want to leak any wedding details šŸ˜‰ After lunch I drove myself to Richmond Airport, returned my rental car and started my journey west!

So Saturday night at 6pm EST I boarded a plane to Dallas, TX. After a 1.5 hour layover (barely enough time to find my gate and grab a quick dinner), I left there at 10pm Central time to fly into San Diego. I landed at SAN about 11:30pm Pacific time, which was the equivalent of 2:30am EST except that it was also daylight savings time so really like 3:30am. Woof. Luckily both of my flights were on schedule and I avoided any weather concerns. Sean picked me up and helped me lug my 100+ pounds of luggage to his car… don’t judge me, it’s the only stuff I have access toĀ for the next 2-3 weeks.

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Sunday morningĀ started with a walkĀ to a cafe for breakfast burritos before getting in a 5.5 mile run. It was definitely warmer than I’ve been used to, but it felt great to see the ocean and not have to wear a hat and gloves! Then I headed up to Carlsbad for the first week of our spring kickball season šŸ™‚ I’m on a new team this year, because our old team decided to disperse. Although most of us are still playing in the league which means I have friends on all the teams. I was a bit nervous on Sunday because I hadn’t played since the last season ended in… September? I had also been asked to help line ref the game before ours. Luckily it was week one and everyone was still learning the rules and working out the kinks. I pitched half of the innings in our game and didn’t allow any runs to score, so I felt good about that!

After spending a few hours catching up with friends at the bar (Erica, Christy and Sean are pictured above), I called it a day. Monday I rented a car in Encinitas and drove out to Temecula to look at Subaru Foresters. I had found from my internet searching that they had the model and accessories that I wanted, and the price was the cheapest. After less than two hours, I had test-driven the SUV, gotten insurance, processed the paperwork, returned my rental car out there, and was driving away in my brand new vehicle! It was a whirlwind, but I knew what I wanted so I went for it. So far I LOVE it, but the first real test will be this weekend when I take four adults with our stuff on a mini-roadtrip. I’ll keep you posted how it holds up but I’m also taking any suggestions for names of this vehicle… even though I probably won’t get vanity plates since they are so expensive in Cali.

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On another note, I do also have a job lined up (yay!)… really two. I’ll be teaching at Halstrom Academy again, but only teaching this time around, not working with corporate as a lead teacher. And I will dominantly be teaching math (Algebra/Geometry) instead of social studies, although I already know I’ll have some ACT/SAT test prep courses and an AP World History. Since it is mid-semester, my hours will build as the weeks go on which will give me time to move into a place when I find it and just adjust to living in SoCal again. I’m really excited to get back to working with kids and helping them in an area where so many seem to struggle.

My second job will start in April and is working with Pearson Learning, Inc. who publishes a ton of textbooks across content in the USA. I will be acting as an online test scorer for their end-of-course Geometry testing this spring. The project lasts April-June and I am allowed to log as few as 20 or as many as 40 hours a week grading test. This will help fill my time until summer semester starts at Halstrom and I have full hours there. It’s completely flexible as far as when I grade in a day, which will be perfect for my Halstrom schedule, and it will give me more experience in the testing/grading world.

Other things I’ve done this week include: getting a TB test, completing a LiveScan fingerprinting test, run with my good friend Dahlia, toured 3-5 potential apartments, gotten groceries, gone to a farmer’s market, and just enjoyed being back in SoCal! For now, my biggest focus is finding a place to live and enjoying being back in the place I truly feel I belong. Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to y’all soon!

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