Adventures in Korea | Playtime Kids Club + Lotte Dept. Store

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Last Sunday, we decided to take a bus to Camp Walker and check out the town just outside the base.  We ended up taking the train after we found one of their employees near the card machines to sell us the reload-able train cards.  We added about 10,000 won onto each of them and then hopped on the train.  After about three stops, we got out and walked into the multi-floor Lotte Department store.
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The department store was gorgeous!  One floor had beautiful bakeries and cafes, with treats in the shapes of roses, smiley faces, and all sorts of things, while the next floor had every brand of cosmetics you could ever want.  There were many floors with high-end designer clothing, but they also had Columbia, Crocs (the really cute kind 😉 and other more recognizable brands.  I did see a cute pair of shoes I liked but they didn’t have my size.  I had to use a translator app and my few Korean words that I knew to request my shoe size and inquire into some other products.  It was a little tough, but if you try to stay calm and patient, they will really appreciate your efforts and will do their best to help you.  In the end, I found a couple blouses on another floor and handed them to the Korean lady that was standing watch for when I needed help and she took them and folded them, placed them in a bag, and motioned for me to follow her to the counter to pay and did everything for me.  She motioned for my to use my credit card when the terminal was ready and I said “thank you” in Korean when the transaction was finished.  It was pretty painless. 😉  The two shirts were 53 won, total, but with the exchange rate, I saw that I had only paid $47 in USD once it hit my bank account.
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I was really excited when I saw a sign on the 6th (?) floor for a coffee shop that ended up being Angel-in-us.  I had been wanting to try it out ever since I’d seen in from the bus when driving through Daegu—the name of the cafe was too fun for me to pass up getting a cup of coffee from it. Haha  They make a delicious iced Caramel Machiatto by the way.
While I was waiting for my drink order, my husband noticed a sign for a kids corner upstairs, so we went to check it out with our twenty-month-old.  There was a sliding door that opened to an outside patio that had a mini roller coaster and train for kids–they were both free!  Ava loved it. 🙂
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After we rode both rides, we decided to enter the store from the opposite side of the patio and discovered a little room with a lego wall that kids and their parents were enjoying playing with–it was nice to have a break from the humidity outside.  You have to take your shoes off and leave them in front of the mat.
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I believe it was the 7th floor that had all the children’s clothes, but it is also where I discovered a children’s play-place in the far corner of this floor, called Playtime Kids Club.  They had a book they opened that had English in it.  There were different amounts you could pay, based on how long you would stay there to play (with an accompanied adult) and I think there might have even been a membership cost you could pay if you wanted to sign up.  We ended up paying 10,000 won for 2 hours of play (although we only stayed a little over an hour) but we were both able to go into the play area.  Of course, as is the custom, you again remove your shoes and then place them in the cubby locker.  There are drinks and sugary-treats for the kids that you can get from the front desk–I think you pay for them as you leave but I am not sure.
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This play-place was much bigger than it looked at first glance.  There was a block building pit, a wood-pebble pit with dump trucks, sand pit (you have to slip on the provided boots before you walk into the sand pit) a pretend grocery corner with grocery carts and plastic food, a climbing corner, ball pit, bubble zone…I just kept wishing I was still a kid!!  I was so much fun to watch Ava interact with the other children, who kept calling her “eva” or just “baby” and all wanting to hold her hand and play with her.  One of the little girls kept coming up to us, saying, “hi! nice to meet you!”, over and over.  I think she was practicing her English. 😉  It was very cute.
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 Ava fell asleep very quickly in her daddy’s arms after this exciting visit with her new friends came to an end. 😉
We took the train back near Walker, caught the bus, then finally made it back to our hotel, exhausted but happy and excited for out future adventures in Korea.

PCS Trip: South Korea

At 2:00am last week on a Wednesday, our little family of three, left the States for Seoul, South Korea.
We drove for 45 minutes to the airport, boarded a couple hours later, and flew on a 2.5 hour flight to Dallas, Texas.
Ava did pretty well and enjoyed being entertained by the stewardesses.  You can’t see them in the picture below but they were having fun watching her walk the back aisle and then collapse on the floor for a couple minutes before getting back up again and waving at everyone. 😉
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Once we arrived at the Dallas Airport, we had a few hours to kill before our last (16 or so hour-long) flight to Korea.  My husband took us to the USO, which was the best decision of our day. 🙂  We were warmly greeted and our 20-month old was given a little kitty beanie baby, which she was thrilled about.  They had all sorts of drinks and snacks, a playroom for Ava, a little theater room, small library selection, and a computer room, as well as free toiletry items in the bathrooms and free diapers and wipes!
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This was the setup for the last flight, which I boarded early to set up Ava’s carseat and get everything situated.  It was right next to the bathrooms which is a good and bad thing.  Good to be close for when you need it, but bad when you need to sleep and everyone else needs to use it.  It tends to be louder near the bathrooms (those things are loud when they flush! haha).
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Thankfully the seats had movie screens and a great selection of movies.  The flight was exhausting and sometimes felt like it would never end, but honestly, Ava did very well all things considered.  I used some Plant Therapy “Calming the Child” essential oil on her and it was a big help.  She slept twice on the plane for a few hours each time–praise the Lord!   The second time she woke up, she was so groggy, that she just quietly sat in her carseat, hugging her Hello Kitty blanket and watching 3 or 4 episodes of her favorite Disney show–Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. 😉  Towards the last couple hours of the flight, I ended up injecting myself with all the coffee I could find. Haha!
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Once we landed and went through customs, we got to the far corner of the airport where our bus was to be and realized we had missed it by 5 or 10 minutes, which meant we had to wait for 2 more hours.  We boarded the bus finally and I honestly don’t remember how long the ride was because I dozed off and on for the whole trip.  It was at least an hour I think?  We made it to Dragon Hill Lodge and got set up for the night after my husband had to attend a couple meetings, but I remember feeling a huge sense of relief that night, laying in the most comfortable hotel bed in the world (or so it felt after a 20+ hour travel day!) and thanking God that we made it safely to the country that held the next big adventure for our family.  PCSing (with a toddler) is never easy, especially when moving to another country, but it’s worth it!  Can’t wait to share our adventures with you all in the near future!

Disney’s Aulani Character Breakfast

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My husband and I have wanted to visit Disney’s Aulani Resort since we have lived here and finally decided to check it out last weekend.  We didn’t book any rooms but discovered that you can have a “character breakfast” at the Makahiki restaurant, (hosted by Auntie and Minnie) for about $37 per person with children 2 and under free.  The breakfast is a buffet with a decent selection of fruit, cereals, hot foods and mini character-shaped waffles.
You do have to make reservations for this breakfast, and can easily do so online–breakfast hours are 7am through 11am.
Pro Tip #1: Go early!  Perhaps going very late (11am) could work as well, but we went to the 7:30 breakfast and by the time we left, the place was overflowing and had long lines.
Pro Tip #2: Keep your parking ticket with you after you park and validate it when you pay for your meal.  Parking will be FREE up to 4 hours after you validate it.  That’s pretty huge since it can cost around $12 per hour or $37 all day.  Free is always good. 😉
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Makahiki restaurant with outdoor and indoor seating.
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Before you are seated, you are handed a card with your name on it, for photo-taking purposes, and then you get in line for pictures with Mickey before going back to the front desk to be seated for breakfast.
Ava was getting pretty excited to see Mickey while we waited in line–again, I’d go early so that you don’t have to wait in too long of a line.
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A Mickey Mouse waffle with coconut syrup!
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Minnie, Goofy, and “Auntie” who is the hostess and plays songs on her ukulele, all walk around the dining area during the breakfast to chat with you and get pictures–Ava was especially fascinated by Goofy. 🙂
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We walked all through the back of the resort where the lazy river, splash pad, and slides were, and ended up letting Ava cool off a little in the ocean and play.
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One of the things I love about Disney–there is something special around every corner!  Ava loved watching the fish in this little aquarium.
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Look at this cute movie corner!  It was playing Ava’s favorite show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
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Isn’t this place beautiful??  We really loved our visit, touring the resort and enjoying the character breakfast with our little one–totally worth it!  Plus it made for an uber-long nap for Ava afterwards…win! 😉
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A Few of My Favorite Things About Living in Hawaii

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Aloha Fridays
Everyone’s living for the weekend in Hawaii!  Locals love to set up tents and camp by the beaches, often for the entire weekend.  Plus, there is even a song dedicated to this day…”It’s Aloha Friday, no work ’til Monday…”.  Look it up, it will get stuck in your head. 😉  Saying “happy Aloha Friday!” to someone is absolutely a thing, and I love it!
Hawaiian Food
Oh my goodness…Kalua pig, sticky rice, mac salad, haupia, lomi lomi salmon, poke, taro-flavored desserts, malasadas (it’s actually a Portuguese donut but you have to try them hot from Leonards Bakery…mmm).
God’s Creation
If you dont like the outdoors and beautiful mountains, sparkling ocean, sandy beaches, jungles to explore, waterfalls to swim in and spotting rainbows almost weekly
…Hawaii is not for you.
The Culture and Language
I love the beauty of the Hawaiian culture. I feel privileged when I get to watch the men and women perform the hula and sing in their musical language.  The simplicity of the native Hawaiian life is fascinating, especially in today’s fast-paced way of living.  “Ohana” is a word you won’t be able to forget when you leave the islands.  It means ‘family’, yet at the same time, so much more than that.  You dont truly understand it until you’ve lived here and then have to leave.  I will miss Hawaii so much.
So Much to Do!
Like to shop?  Oahu has you covered on that one.  World’s largest outdoor mall (the Ala Moana) or downtown Waikiki is a good place to start. 😉  And for flea market-type shopping, check out the Aloha Swap meet.  Like to lay out on the beach?  Well…you picked a good place to visit/live then.  Like to hike?  There is no end to trails and amazing views.  Sea turtles?  Whale watching?  Discovery?  Adventure?  Nothing about Hawaii is boring so long as you get outdoors and explore!
Keepin’ it Casual
It’s a more relaxed and casual lifestyle in Hawaii.  You can dress up for a night on the town in Waikiki but mostly people dress casually during the week, in athleisure, shorts and tee shirt or cool and comfy dresses.  And nobody goes anywhere without their ‘slippers’, aka flip-flops. 😉
The History
Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, Iolani Palace, Bishop Museum, Battery Cooper at Kuoloa Ranch, the WW2 pill boxes all over the island… The island is rich in history and it’s fascinating to learn about!
Hawaii has been my first overseas (OCONUS) duty station and it has been a fantastic experience.  If Hawaii is your next duty station or in the possible future, congrats!  I hope you have as wonderful a couple years as I have.  Aloha and happy PCSing!

Vitamin Sea Detox | Strength Through an Overseas PCS

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What a week!  Two of my girlfriends from Indiana visited me and we hit up a bunch of different beaches and drove around the island like tourists–so much fun.  Although I am not one to spend more than and hour or so at a beach, I do love the relaxing vibe that the cool water, blue skies and soft sand put out….ahhh…so peaceful.  It was just what I needed!
My husband and I have gotten a lot done in preparation for our trip to Michigan and then our move from there to Korea.  The best part of the whole process has been how much God has been stretching me.  Turns out, being stretched as thin as a piece of paper doesn’t feel so good.  And there are some days when you wonder why you even woke up. haha  But to use a word I heard today that summed everything up…it’s been sanctifying.  To sanctify means to “make holy”, to “set apart”, or “consecrate”.  Funny thing, but my name (Beth) actually means “pledged (or) consecrated to God”.  Mind blown!  What an amazing reminder in the middle of our busy lives, whether they are chaotic, fast-paced, or both, that we belong to the King of Kings and that He is working on us to set us apart and make us more holy through our trials.  It’s important not to miss that.  We can choose to be made stronger through them, or bitter and weak.
I am thankful for this time in my life right now.  This time of change, of stretching, of challenges…it only serves to make me stronger and to help me grow.  I ask God to make me more like him and a woman after his own heart, and He gives me challenges to strengthen me.  It’s funny how we forget that and assume that challenges must not be from God because they are hard and difficult and sometimes we suffer during them.  God knows what is best for us and He will never walk away when we need Him.  Just something to remember as you PCS this summer, or as you are going through your own challenges and changes this year.
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How I Organize My Diaper Bag

My number one tip for streamlining the process for switching out diaper bags, or even handbags, and keeping my bags orderly is to keep everything in pouches/zippered bags.  It also saves me a lot of headache when I need something immediately (Umm fussy toddler at the grocery store anyone?  “Where on earth are the snacks honey??  I need them stat!”).  When I need to run an errand, and enjoy some mommy-alone-time, all I have to do is remove a couple pouches to lighten up my bag and I am good to go!
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I always keep a travel-sized rash cream with me–shouldn’t have to explain that one. 😉 At least 2-3 diapers and plenty of wipes are always kept in my diaper pouch
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Snack pouch!  I try to steer towards less-sugary snacks (heaven knows children don’t need that extra energy from the sugar), such as dried fruits and veggies.  The fruit snacks are for myself. 😉
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My little toy pouch is perfect for using at a restaurant when trying to kill a little time as you wait on your food, or to use as a distraction at a doctors appointment.  I only keep small toys in here–sometimes I toss my daughters lovey in my bag when it’s getting close to her nap and she needs to wind down in the car.
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Coupons!  I think I found this cute polka-dotted accordion container at Walmart a few years ago–it’s perfect for keeping my coupons alphabetically arranged.
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I really love my Ju Ju Be Be Rich in the Queen of the Nile print.  I bought it because I wanted a wallet that opened up completely so I can easily view all the contents inside and not have to go digging through my wallet to find hidden loyalty cards and such.  You know exactly what I am talking about, don’t you… Should I also mention that this wallet can be safely tossed directly into the washing machine for a good cleaning??  I mean, does it get any better than that?  All Ju Ju Be products are washable, in fact.  And no, this post is not sponsored, I just love Ju Ju Be! 😉
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Ta-da!  Easy access.
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This clear pouch keeps some of my makeup products, as well as miscellaneous items such as eye drops, teething gel for the baby, and some feminine products.  Tip: also keep a few feminine items in your diaper pouch for convenience.
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My Ju Ju Be Be Light Tote has two deep from pockets that I keep a few more random items in (my rosebud salve and earplugs for exams and plane rides could probably be kept in my misc. pouch…).  I always have a pair of sunglasses with me, a small medical pouch, gum, a mini Fiber One snack bar and a travel-size brush.
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And that’s it, the full contents of my diaper bag–minus the pacifier pod hanging from the straps. 😉  It seems like a ton of stuff (and I have not even mentioned the milk and water sippy cups you bring for each trip haha) but it really is so nicely organized that my bag still has space to spare!  What are your top tips for keeping your diaper bags and/or purses organized?

My Simple Makeup Routine

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Hello ladies!  I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start.  I just finished a yummy cup of coffee and a dark chocolate square so I’m ready to face the rest of the week head on!  Okay, maybe after two full days of more sleep…I wish.  And that’s where my makeup routine comes in, ha-ha, to give me that extra lift and hide those dark circles when the reality of not being able to have your pre-baby sleep life back fully hits you! 😉  What did we do before concealer??  And coffee… Seriously…
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I like to keep my routine simple, but I have no problem adding a couple products to my routine time if it means my makeup will last longer during the day.  A couple extra minutes is worth it to not have to reapply a couple times a day, amiright?
To start…
I begin with a clean, moisturized face (of course) and apply a primer–right now I am using E.L.F Tone Adjusting Primer to hide and even out the redness in my face and to keep my makeup on longer.
I use different foundations but for now I am using Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Foundation because my skin has been oily lately and this has helped balance out the oils in my skin.  NYX Dark Circle Concealer goes on next, to cover tell-tale signs below my eyes and then I cover that over with a tiny bit of NYX Gotcha Covered Concealer.  Airspun Loose Face Powder sets everything in place and then I go ahead and add my Too Face the Bronzed and the Beautiful bronzer in Chocolate and Anastasia Duobrow Powder (although in the photo I am not wearing any and sometimes skip this step if I am just not feelin’ it).  Dab a little Stila Cream Blush to the cheeks (cream blush gives a better glow and lasts longer than powder blush in the summer, in my opinion), and a few spritzes of Wet n’ Wild PhotoFocus Setting Spray and voila!  All finished!
The main goal with this look is to keep it natural, but glowy and awake.  I like that this makeup look gives me decent coverage but doesn’t look too made up or like I spent a ton of time on it.  Natural, but put together.  Perfect. 😉
What are your favorite products for a natural, easy makeup look?

Life Lately: PCS-Prep | Leaving Hawaii in 2 Months

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Hey everyone!  So you already know that we are moving from Hawaii to Korea, but we leave the island within 2 months and we still need our orders!  I know, I know…you’re going to say “that’s just typical Military life, hon” haha and while that is true, it doesn’t do anything to make a big move less stressful–especially an OCONUS (Outside Continental United States) move!  But you’re right, that is life and we do what we can in the meantime, right!? 😉
So in the meantime…
I’ve had a doctor’s checkup for my 17 month old to qualify as a EFMP Screening, a “well-woman” checkup for myself and also had to have the EFMP screening and paperwork signed-off at Tripler Army Medical Center.
I’ve never had to be screened for EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) before, but I assume it’s because of where we are moving to (didn’t need it for Hawaii but that is still in the US although not in the continental US).  There is more limited healthcare available to Americans abroad and the Army would need to know if they are not able to meet our needs (and potential disabilities) in Korea.  If that was the case, my daughter and I would not be approved to move to Korea with my husband.  Thankfully, that is not an issue and all of our medical records are clear and in order and the necessary paperwork signed.  Oh…still need to go to Medical Records and get a copy of my daughters and my records!  Note to self. 😉
The next thing I had to do, was to go to Waimanalo Post Office (after printing off the paperwork and getting a notary since my husband could not be there) and apply for a Tourist Passport for Ava–isn’t is crazy that a 17 month old would need a passport? 🙂  I took her passport picture at a Walgreens and brought that to the Post Office with my paperwork.  The passport cost about $105 and we had it sent to our home of record in MI so that we would have plenty of time to retrieve it before going to Korea (we are taking leave for a couple weeks to see family before the official flight to Korea!).  The tourist passport is mainly just so we can travel to other places from Korea (such as Japan) and I’ve heard it’s easier to just get it in the US where you are familiar with then to have to apply for it in Korea.
I’m still not 100% positive if Ava and I also need Government passports (I’ve gotten different answers from other military spouses and soldiers) so we will see!  That would be a 2-month wait though…ugh.
I also went ahead (since I can cancel at anytime if need be) and booked a weeks stay at a hotel in Seoul for when we arrive in July and overlapped the bookings with a potential month’s stay (yikes!) at a military lodge near my husbands next duty station.
Other than the yucky paperwork and appointments we have had to make to prepare for the move, I’ve been sorting through junk drawers and downsizing the closet wardrobes of things we don’t need and throwing out things we never use–it’s so liberating. haha
All of this while still trying to study for college CLEPs… 😛 I hope to squeeze one or two more exams out before we leave the island.
Well there you have it!  My life lately. 😉  Is anyone else making a big move this summer?  Or do you have any favorite moving/packing tips you’d like to share!  Please let me know!  I’d love to hear from you. 🙂
Well I just finished my apple fritter and coffee so I think that means it’s time to say goodbye until my next post–
Have a great Sunday everyone! 🙂

Kaua’i Weekend Vacay | Part 2 | Little Town of Hanapepe

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My favorite morning of our vacation was spent in Hanapepe, Kauai’s Biggest Little Town (it’s tiiinnyy) where I discovered an adorable called, “Little Fish”.  Pro tip: try the Dragon-fruit lemonade–you won’t regret it!  So delicious and refreshing.  Ahhh.  Wishing I was sipping on one right now…
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How amazing does this Dragon-fruit lemonade look??
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Don’t miss the chance to walk across the swinging bridge!  One of my favorite things that I did on the whole trip.  Probably because there was no one else around when we walked across it so it felt like a newly-discovered novelty for us.  Definitely fun for kids too. 🙂
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There was an art gallery on the other side…we didn’t go inside.
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My husband as such a love for cats and can never resist stopping to pet them.  He likes to watch Ava get excited when she spots one. 😉
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The Talk Story bookstore claims the western-most independent bookstore of the U.S.!  It’s fun to peruse.  The prices though, unless otherwise marked, are very similar to Barnes and Noble.
I only wish we had been able to check out the Brown Bear Bakery, across the street for some yummy desserts, but it was closed the morning we were visiting.
Lemonade, swinging bridge, bookstore, kitten–a full morning for little Ava! 😉

It’s PCS Season! | We’re Moving to…

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Korea!
We are moving in just under 3 short months and it’s honestly all I can think about.  It’s a combination of the usual PCS excitement (I’ve actually wanted to move to Korea so I’m looking forward to it), and the dread of flying SO many hours with a toddler. Help! Thankfully my 16 month old is a pretty good flyer but that doesn’t mean any child wants to sit in one place for 15+ hours!  How can you blame them?  Confession: I have already been brainstorming toy and snack ideas for the trip…yes, I always plan way in advance. 😉
It will be one busy summer this year!  But we will really miss Hawaii. 😦 I remember hearing a lot of negative things from other Milspouse bloggers about Hawaii before we moved and that made me nervous, but my family and I couldn’t have been more happy here.  Yes, it is an island but there is much more to do here than you might think.  We feel incredibly blessed to have experienced “HI Life” and to have met so many kind people that have truly embodied the spirit of “Aloha”.  So, while it will be hard to leave, that it just one part of our lives and our lives are full of change.  I’ve learned to embrace change and I’ve discovered that some of the most beautiful things can come out of it.