Lady of the Night

No, not selling my body for money except in the sense where I show up to work and they pay me every two weeks for my presence and whatever I do at work.

I’ve been working the mid shift this week which is already a challenge in itself, trying to convince your body that its circadian rhythm is wrong and you actually should be up all night and sleep all day, but also because I’m pregnant I can’t rely on caffeine as much as I probably would if I were not.

I’ve done overnight shifts before, they’re pretty routine in military life, but they tended to be limited to one night every few months and not a dedicated week of mid shift work.

For me, the keys to successfully staying awake all night and then sleeping most of the day:

Bring lots of food. When I worked individual mid shifts I’d get hungry and tired around 2 a.m. necessitating a run to the gas station where I’d buy energy drinks and candy. That’s not sustainable for a week (or adulating, really) so now I take the time to pack my food. I try to pack one actual meal plus plenty of healthy snacks. I love fruit so I tend to pack a lot of fruit.

A pregnancy consideration is I can have about 100mg of caffeine a day so I save my caffeine allotment for the mid shift. I’ll have one cup early in the shift and maybe a second one before the halfway mark, depending on how things are going. I also have tea and hot cocoa if I just want to sip something.

Take walking break. It’s hard to sleep if you’re moving so every hour or so I make sure I get up and walk around a bit.

Daylight lamps help. I bought a “happy light” in Alaska to simulate daylight when it was dark in the winter and to fend off the winter blues. It’s found a second life at my desk where its bright light does the same trick.

Bring something to keep you occupied during down time.. After a point, I don’t produce quality work and start getting a little loopy and tired. I bring a book or knitting with me so I have something low-key to focus on and keep me alert.

GO TO SLEEP. After the shift, obviously. I drive home, let my dogs out, and go straight to bed. To avoid waking up from sunlight, I use an eye mask to help keep things dark and also ear plugs sometimes.

Charleston Getaway

I knew I was going to be bummed about having to pull out of Augusta 70.3, even though I knew realistically that doing a tri in the second trimester was just not a good idea, so to avoid further feelings of sadness and missing out seeing all the shiny, sleek bikes pour into town, I booked us an AirBnB in Charleston for the weekend.

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Pineapple fountain in the Waterfront Park



I LOVE Charleston. It’s where we had our marriage ceremony and I was captivated with it from the start. Funny story-our actual marriage was by proxy as I was living several states away. I asked a friend of his I liked to be my stand-in and we did my vows over the phone. We did our ceremony a while later and chose to do an elope-acation with just us and in a place we’d never been-Charleston.
It also seemed fitting that we go back to Charleston now that we have our little one on the way for some alone time before we become a family of three.

Rainbow Row


We did a half day charter with Charleston Fish Rod Bending charters and had SO.MUCH.FUN. I’d wanted to do deep sea but the weather was pretty choppy from the storms so we did inshore instead. I had such an amazing time.


We caught a ray, a speckled trout, a sand perch, and several red fish (which fought like hell and were so much fun) including one really incredible big one that had a tag. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has a program where you report catching a tagged fish and they’ll send you a t-shirt. This beautiful fish was a solid 8.75 pounds and 29 inches long. We released all of our fish this time; I am 100% a fan of keeping and eating fish but we were meeting a friend for dinner and I didn’t want to have to stuff fillets into a ziplock bag and try to freeze them and keep them frozen.


We ate at several great restaurants, Ms Rose’s in West Ashley, and revisited some favorites, like Kaminsky’s where we went for dessert after our wedding in the Waterfront Park. Our only disappointment was Caviar and Bananas where our food was just bland and tasteless and the drinks were not chilled enough.

Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe


We walked along King Street and the Charleston City Market, went back to where we got married in the Waterfront Park, and spent a morning out at Ft. Sumter seeing the old fort.

Ft. Sumter ruin. The original was three times taller.


It was such a fun trip and definitely the right thing to do. I never even thought about the triathlon I was missing and I loved being able to reminisce with P about when we got married.

Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale

Today is the last day of Lilly Pulitzer’s semi-annual After Party Sale, famous for its deep discounts on a brand that never has a sale section online.

I was fortunate that Disney Springs has a brand spankin new Lilly store and this year they let the stores open their doors for the sale a day early, meaning I got to get some shopping in before we left Disney to head home. There was still a line to get in and then a line for the fitting rooms and a line for the checkout, but I appreciated being able to try things on.

I also stopped by my home store in Georgia and did some shopping online. Each experience had different things available. The items available in the Florida store were different than what they had in stock in Georgia and online so Im glad I was able to try all three.

The last day of the sale ends today and there are still tons of great options available. Since I’m pregnant, I tried to buy things that I could still wear for a bit and hopefully camouflage my growing belly.

Lilly Pulitzer APS
First of all, I loved the Bohdi skirt when I tried it on. It’s lovely and flow and plenty of stretch and I should be able to wear this the entire time I’m pregnant.
The popovers are perfect for fall and I love the extra UPF protection built in, which makes them extra perfect for fall fishing trips or anytime I’m worried about sun exposure.
I saw this Kimora Kimono dress and thought it looked so different, unique, and beautiful. It had great reviews from all different sized women so I’m really looking forward to it arriving in the mail.
Lastly, I admit to loving leggings far more than I have reason to. The luxletic leggings are so soft and snuggly. Unlike this picture, the ones I bought go down to my ankles and I think will be perfect for working out or even tucking into some tall boots for fall.
I bought several other things; I have a definite weakness for their t-shirt dresses, but these were some of my very favorites.

Camping at Disney World

My original plan was two short Disney trips in September and November, but then I got pregnant, P signed a hunting lease, and looking at the crowd calendar I realized those two trips were going to be SUPER crowded at the parks. I canceled the other trips and made a plan for a slightly longer trip at the end of August when the parks were a lot less crowded.

I also managed to swing a discounted rate at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campsites. I think most people don’t know that Disney has a campsite; I didn’t until we went to the Hoop-de-due Revue last trip there. They have everything from tent sites to RV sites and even cabins you can rent. It has water transportation to the Magic Kingdom and bus transportation everywhere else. They also have free wifi throughout the campground, which I didn’t expect at all.

We did a tent site and it was really nice. The site was really big and even had a dedicated parking space in it for our car, though another site fit two cars in there pretty easily. There’s also electricity and water at the site, and a shared restroom/shower facility, called “comfort stations” dotted around so they’re never far away. It was a little like a gym facility, except the cleanest, nicest gym showers you’ve ever had with constant water pressure and hot water. I had read that they tended to be crowded in the mornings from 7 – 9 am, but never really found that to be the case. I never had to wait for a shower, sink, or toilet but that also may have been because we were in the off-season.

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Picture from Disney’s website. That little brown stump on the right has multiple electrical outlets as well as a water spigot.

We didn’t have any issues with mosquitos, either which was my other main concern. We went cat fishing the weekend before and I got bit severely and it was awful afterwards. I brought my diffuser and diffused citronella all night and the resort also gave us free DEET wipes. I think I saw maybe one mosquito around our tent area. P got some bites on his feet but those were more likely from walking through the tall grass.

We are used to Army “camping” so our standards for comfort are significantly lower than the average person and we had the most bare bones campsite out of everyone else. I’d be willing to bet most of those folks out there have never slept on the ground in just a sleeping bag while it rained on them. Others had mosquito-netting popups over their picnic tables and a couple even had AC units that attached to their tents. The hardest thing was just how hot it was at night. P opted to sleep outside while I just took the rain fly off the tent at night to allow for more air flow. We had our sleeping mats so it wasn’t uncomfortable, just uncomfortably warm.

The resort itself is huge and has an internal bus system available, or you can rent a golf cart or bikes. We brought our own bikes but didn’t use them except for the first morning when we rode them down to the commissary for breakfast. Since we got free parking at the parks, it was easier and quicker to just drive ourselves rather than waiting for a bus. Since I’m not drinking, we also knew we’d have a designated driver each night when we drove back.

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We stayed in the 2000 loop which was about 2/3 mile from the boat transportation area.

Overall, I liked it and I would stay there again but I’d do it differently. We’ve already discussed how we’re going to need a bigger tent once our baby comes and since we already have two smaller tents that are good for solo or joint hunting trips, we’d like to get something fairly large and roomy that P can stand up in and can adapt to our growing family. I would also like to look at renting either a pop-up camper or even an actual RV in the future.

I loved how affordable the campsites were. Normal pricing for the off-season started at $53/night and then we also got a reduced rate making it even lower. You also get all the perks of staying at a Disney resort, like Magic Bands and Extra Magic Hours, and can add on the Disney Dining Plan if you want. There were a ton of activities at the resort all day and into the evening and a lot of families seemed to be enjoying themselves. You could honestly just spend all your time there and never even go to the parks.

We did our last two nights of our trip at Shades of Green, a military property on Disney. I have a deep, abiding love for SOG that will never go away. They remodeled recently and now have a big, covered parking garage and remodeled rooms. They’re also right across the street from the Polynesian so we just walk over and take the monorail to wherever we’d like to go, but also have bus transportation to the parks. They have Extra Magic Hours, but don’t do Disney Dining or Magic Bands, and no free parking at the parks. I also like that the pricing is tiered depending on the rank structure and the average room can easily sleep five or more so it’s a great value for military families. SOG has been my default place to stay for years now, but I may be switching my affinity to the campsites now that I’ve got some experience under my belt there.

 

 

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You Get What You Give

I really like listening to podcasts in the car, working out, or just working around the house. I like music, too, but for long things podcasts are nice because I feel like someone is talking to me.

I’ve been a fan of Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, for several years now and she recently started doing a podcast every week. This week she talked about body positivity but also how the energy you put out is what you get back and I know how true that is.

I used to be such a bitter, deeply angry person because of my life. I was upset that my parents had been taken from me when I was younger and that I didn’t get to have an adult relationship with them, that my stepmother now held all of the things I remembered from my childhood and would never give them up, and so many other things. I felt ugly and bitter inside and showed it outside, too. I was just mean and so envious of good things in other peoples’ lives, because I didn’t have them but also felt that I didn’t deserve anything good. It was just this cycle of being angry with my life and then showing that anger to others and then being angry because (surprise) no one wants to associate with an angry, bitter person (weird).

I can’t put an exact moment on when things started to change, but it’s taken me years to let that go. Years of being miserable and unhappy and selfish.

It’s so true though that what you put out is what you get back. My deployment in Afghanistan changed me in a lot of ways, all for the better I hope. I’ve felt like a different person since I came back, and I felt differently there, too. I feel like what I do matters and that my life is in my control, which is a lot different from how I used to feel that I was powerless and poor-me-can’t-do-anything-about-it. I’ve also noticed that things that used to be hard for me are a lot easier now, either because I’m more comfortable in my skin or because I don’t make people unconsciously want to escape the room I’m in.

That’s not to say everything is perfect and I’m great now. I worry an incredible amount about things that I can’t change and have a hard time letting go of that, I’m impatient, and snap when I feel like I’m getting stressed. But I really do think that the way you put yourself out there makes a huge difference in what you get back from other people and positivity goes a long way.

Pregnancy Questions

Since I’ve gone public about being pregnant, I’ve gotten asked the same questions over and over again. I wasn’t surprised, but thankfully haven’t gotten any ludicrous advice yet though I’m sure that will come later.

How did this happen?

Well, you see when a man and a woman love each other very much…

I mean, were you trying to get pregnant?

You mean, did I have unprotected sex with my husband?

Are you going to stay in the Army?

I don’t really understand this one, honestly. For one, as an officer I can’t just decide that pregnancy is cause for getting out but also, I have eight years in service. I’m clearly still serving because I like what I do.

What about your dogs and cat?

This one makes me a little angry. My pets are part of my family. I love them and they bring so much happiness and silliness to my life. Zane is too special needs to be happy with anyone else, Sophie’s already been dumped by one family, and Twister has such a strong bond with my husband. I would sooner give our baby up for adoption because that’s how it feels even thinking about giving away my pets. Zane and Sophie have become extra attached to me since I got pregnant, though that could also be because I’m the one who feeds and walks them and they love that I go to sleep to early.

How are you feeling?

Like someone substituted my nose for one of my dogs’ noses but left everything else the same. I can smell everything and it all makes me gag. Also I just feel tired all the time. As soon as I wake up for work I daydream about when I can go back to sleep. I’ve still been walking my dogs twice a day and going to the gym because I know staying active will make this easier on my body, plus, I’m still in the Army and I have to pass a PT test next year after the baby’s born and it’ll be a lot easier to do that if I don’t let myself turn into Jabba the Hutt.

 

Packing For a Cross-Continental Move

I’m down to my last few weeks here before another big move cross-continent, which means I’m making a series of lists of things I have to do before I leave, I have a list of things to get signed off on before I can clear post, and a big list of things to pack in different places.

Right now my list of things to carry looks a little like this:

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– passport- for border crossings as well as an additional form of identification
– dog health certs (required for border crossings and the ferry)
– Sophie meds
– dog food
– leashes
– poop bags
– dog bed
– hard-sided cat carrier
– disposable cat litter boxes – this way I don’t have to tote something smelling like cat pee around for two weeks in the back of the car
– cat litter (also for traction in case I get stuck in a snowbank somewhere)
– cat food – I typically switch to wet food while traveling because my cat is too freaked out to drink water during stops
– water bowl for pets
– baby wipes (disinfecting)
– winter boots
– winter coat
– snow shovel (also in case I get stuck)
– flares (both in case I can’t get out and also if I have to stop by the side of the road)
– Jet Boil (P says I have to buy my own and can’t keep borrowing his, which I guess is fair since I use his more than he does! I’m going to wait for the REI sale this next weekend, though)
– lighter
– freeze dried meals (in case I get stuck and also for food on the Alaska ferry)
– 2 gallons of water (mostly for my dogs so they don’t get upset stomachs from different water)
– mittens
– hat
– sleeping bag
– cots (I might mail these down to GA instead of carrying them in the car)
– bike trainer (too big/heavy to mail)
– bike
– computer
– external HD
– towels (these ultralite ones take up little space, dry really quickly, and are also really absorbent. Plus they’re affordable)
– dry bags for clothes (I bought a couple of these from Sea to Summit and love them. I’m putting my clothes in a roof carrier so this will ensure they stay dry no matter the weather)
– running shoes
– flip flops
– cross-stitch bag
– 10 x  copies orders
– Milepost aka The Bible of North Country Travel
– bike rack
– mini lamp- I bought a neat USB chargeable one from Amazon while deployed and have been using it ever since.
I’m a big fan of anything that can pack up small and takes up less space so my travel pillow, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag can all compress to smaller dimensions. I also like dry bags because you can get some that work like a vacuum bag and let you press out extra air, while also keeping your clothes dry. I’m trying out a new roof bag carrier instead of packing everything in the car. It’ll cost a bit of gas mileage but I think will help out in giving us more room inside the car and that will be worth it.
Trying to pack for a two-week moving trip in a smaller car is definitely a challenge so I’m trying to also choose clothing items that are breathable and adaptable to different climates. I’ll probably be wearing mostly Oiselle and Soas clothing for a few weeks, which is more than fine by me.

How to Spend Less Time Cooking + Bonus Recipe

Since I got back, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most is making my own food. As much as I enjoyed not cooking for an entire year (and not doing the dishes!) it’s really nice to be able to eat what I want instead of what is on the schedule for the week and after a year, it got really predictable (Monday-grill day, Tuesday- some sort of protein and mixed veggies, Wednesday-Tacos, Thursday-Mongolian barbecue or German, Friday-Pizza/wings, Saturday – soul food, Sunday-more grilling).

It is kind of a pain to menu plan every weekend though. I like to shop early in the morning when all the shelves are stocked and before the store becomes a zoo later in the day so I pretty much have to menu plan Friday nights or early Saturday mornings and lately things have been so draining at work that I come home feeling like a zombie.

Before I left last year I had started getting into freezer meals. Not the TV dinners you find in the freezer section, but meals already prepped and ready to slide into the oven or just heat up and eat. I made a bunch before my husband moved in thinking it would give us more time to get settled and then I made a bunch more before I left so he even if I couldn’t be there this year, he could have some dinners made by me and ready for him.

This past week he mentioned how much he’d liked those meals and I thought I’d give it another go. A massive amount of cooking over a long day with a day to prep beforehand surely is worth two weeks’ of meals, right?

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These are what’s in the main freezer, I put most of them in our deep freezer

I used Once a Month Meals because I used their free trial of Mini Meals and loved them. Their subscriptions are very affordable and I liked that I could customize the menu and swap recipes out. We don’t sit down for breakfast so I swapped those recipes for dinners and lunch recipes ins instead. I also like that they have different menu types – paleo, traditional, vegetarian, vegan, and an allergen-reducing menu.

It gave me a consolidated shopping list organized by section (I don’t do that for myself so this was a huge bonus alone).

I slacked on the prep work and jumped in. It took me about a day and a half of prep/cooking but the end result is we have dinners and lunches for the next two weeks and the total cost was under $200. Not bad at all. There’s still a couple of produce things I have to buy to serve with the meals, but overall it’s a really good value for the money. I also picked the paleo menu and meat-heavy dishes tend to be more expensive as well.

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Chicken Cilantro Soup

A couple of things I’d do differently maybe, or would recommend

-writing what ingredient goes in each dish. I thought P hadn’t found Thai chiles so I used jalapeños instead and then later found the Thai chiles hiding in the fridge where he’d put them…so some of our food is going to have more of a kick than intended!

-Seriously, clean your kitchen before you start.

-If you can get someone to help you by cleaning dishes as you go, that would help a lot too. My kitchen is really small and since P was busy resurfacing stairs, I went it alone.

-Do the prep day. I wish I had. About 3/4 of the way through I almost had a breakdown because I felt overwhelmed.

-Make sure you eat during the day. I bought half a dozen cinnamon rolls from the new bakery across the street. Yesterday I ate: four cinnamon rolls, a package of TimTams, too many cups of coffee, movie theater popcorn, movie theater soda, and half a package of movie theater Sweet Tart ropes, and a beer. I felt awful. Don’t do that.

Also, as promised, a bonus recipe from Once a Month Meals, “Aunt Sissy’s Poppyseed Chicken“. This recipe is my husband’s favorite freezer meal and it’s great for two hungry adults. For more people I’d double the whole thing and buy a larger casserole container. I used the cheap disposable ones you can get in the baking section.
chicken recipe

 

 

Rug Bug

Before I ever came to Afghanistan, I knew I wanted to bring home a rug with me. Rugs are Afghanistan’s largest export and can last for generations if properly cared for. I was excited to have a beautiful, tangible souvenir of my experience and time here so I wanted to be sure I made the best choice.

I didn’t know much about rugs, so I did some research online. I learned about knots and how to tell a handmade rug from an industrial woven one, and even some of the basic typical patterns. I learned even more by visiting the shops and touching and seeing the differences in quality between rugs.

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Originally I was going to buy one…and then I saw a runner that I liked and then I also thought a larger one would be perfect in another room. Ultimately I ended up visiting six different vendors before settling on three beautiful carpets, all handmade here in Afghanistan. It was such a neat experience to have them roll it out in front of you and then rubbing the wool and checking the knots in the back and the fringe. I also worked hard to barter the prices down which is also a hallmark of buying out here. The vendor definitely made a good profit on my sales, but I also love that I will have these for years as a reminder of the beauty of Afghanistan and that I’m helping to support the people here.

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Someday I’ll learn how to keep my finger out of the frame. But I loved this runner. 

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I loved both of these. Actually, I loved all the ones I saw. But these were the final two. 

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This one was especially beautiful, but just too formal for my style. 

Five Things for Friday – Five Favorite Websites

I’ve been a huge Internet fan ever since I was young. I loved all the information that was out there, just waiting to be read. I loved that I could look anything up and get an answer (I used to love reading the encyclopedia).

These are a few of the sites I visit on a daily basis.

1. Facebook

It’s easy to keep in touch with lots of people, I can see pictures of my friends and family, and since my husband is traveling, it’s also the way we communicate most often because I can’t have any personal electronic devices in my workspace where I am 12+ hours a day. Some people dislike Facebook for many reasons, but for me it does more good than harm.

2. Instagram

I really like pictures and I like following a wide variety of people. I’ve been trying to follow more healthy people, so lifters and runners and yogis because surrounding myself with healthy, active people makes me want to be better. If you want to follow me, my Instagram name is crkellr.

3. Reddit

It’s the front page of the Internet! I spend a lot of time here for news, running-related forums, finance forums, and sometimes just cute cat videos.

4. Magoosh

I’m studying for the GMAT next summer. I try to spend a little time here every day either going through lessons, working on flashcards, or working through some questions. I could probably spend more time here, but I have a much longer timeline than most people do and I don’t want to get burned out. Fortunately, Magoosh’s subscription is valid for a year so I have plenty of time.

5. Washington Post

I’ve liked the Post ever since I lived in Northern Virginia. I like its mix of articles and recently have been enjoying reading about how others decorate and live in tiny apartments. My duplex back home is only 768 square feet, so it fits the tiny apartment category for sure. I also appreciate that they do live feeds of important press conferences. Last night I watched live as President Obama announced we were keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the next year.

I bet you thought there’d be more fitness sites on here? I visit a lot, but these five sites I’m guaranteed to visit every day whiles I can go a few days between my other favorite sites like The Daily Mile and various blogs.