San Diego, Zoos, and Dolphins

Being out in Arizona has been an absolute blast.  We have been able to explore so many different places!  Over Columbus Day weekend we had the opportunity to visit Will’s brother and his family in San Diego for a few days.

San Diego 2018


We left pretty early in the morning, making sure to get in a good breakfast, and of course running into more of our dinosaur friends on the road.  If there’s one thing I’m going to miss about the desert, it’s how many dinosaurs there are hanging around.

Lunch was, obviously, a very satisfying stop at In-N-Out.  I’m already internally crying about the east coast not having my animal style burger fix.

We got to the Shugart house in late afternoon and had a fantastic evening catching up with John, Kristina, and our nieces.  The boys burned things, we ate Mexican food, and our hearts were happy.

San Diego 2018


We indulged in the traditional Shugart breakfast the following morning.  I love my cheesy eggs, fancy bacon, and delicious waffles, but this girl canNOT get enough potatoes.   They’re so good!  Will is also hardcore into potatoes for breakfast so our marriage was basically a match made in heaven.

San Diego 2018


Some of you may not know this, but I actually used to live in San Diego.  For almost five years I called southern California home and I lived right across the bay from SeaWorld San Diego for some time.  I could almost see their evening fireworks display every night during the summer from my back patio.  

Despite being so close, I never visited while I lived there, so taking the opportunity while we were in town was top of the list.  Having now visited, I highly recommend going to SeaWorld if you have the opportunity.  It is the best aquarium you have ever been to on steroids.

The Sea Lions were great.  You could buy fish to feed them and the birds would always swoop in to try and steal them.

San Diego 2018

I have always seen pictures and videos of these cool underwater walkways at aquariums but have never been in one before!  It was so cool!  Even though I am usually terrified of sharks, it was just so awesome that I wasn’t afraid at all.  

We saw several types of sharks just sitting still on the bottom.  I didn’t know they could do that!  Apparently certain species of sharks can keep water moving through their gills by a pumping motion of their pharynx, so they don’t have to keep moving.

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After we saw the sharks, we went to the Dolphin Encounter show.

San Diego 2018

I’m not super into splash zones or walking around in sopping wet clothes, so Will was a champ and let me hide behind him when the dolphins soaked us.  Besides that it was an excellent show.  It was fun to see the relationship between the dolphins and trainers.  There was even a big whale that took part in the show, and its personality was so cute.  It reminded me of a giant golden retriever.

San Diego 2018

Next up we rode some rides.  The one on the left is the first rollercoaster Will and I have been on together!  I had plenty of anxiety leading up to it while we were waiting in line because we didn’t put our phones in the available lockers.  Anyone else with anxiety get super stressed about the small things sometimes?  Will saved the day with his pockets, and despite lots of screaming on my part, it was a seriously excellent rollercoaster.  

I bowed out on the Atlantis ride, though, because I was a little cold and didn’t feel like getting wet again.  

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I hung out with my niece as everyone else took turns riding.  We made sure to stand outside the splash zone while we watched everyone come down, and then went to look at the fishies and sting rays for a while.

San Diego 2018

My five year old niece took the photo on the right.  She’ll be a photographer in no time.

San Diego 2018

As the afternoon turned into evening, and the unnaturally chilly San Diego day seeped into our bones, we stopped by a Starbucks for coffees and hot chocolates to warm up while we waiting in line for our next adventure.

Confession time: Will’s fave from Starbucks is the caramel frappe.  He claims this is the best one he had ever had.  Way to go, SeaWorld Starbucks.

San Diego 2018

Their Orca show has, apparently, changed a lot.  It is now primarily an educational show where they teach you all about the different kinds of Killer Whales and absolutely no one gets in the water with them.

San Diego 2018

After the show, we went down below to watch the Orcas swim for a little while.  

Will and I have taken to getting magnets for every state we have been through, or for significant places we have visited.  We also like getting Christmas ornaments, but in SeaWorld we opted for the Orca fridge magnet.  They are seriously majestic animals.

San Diego 2018

I can’t pick a favorite thing we did in SeaWorld because it was all really good.  I definitely recommend a visit the next time you’re in San Diego.

When we left the park, we grabbed some dinner and then went back to John and Kristina’s.

San Diego 2018


On Sunday morning we went to church, where they had coffee and donuts available beforehand.  That’s my kind of church!  

Afterwards, we went out for brunch to Broken Yolk with the Shugarts and Kristina’s family.  You can never have too much breakfast food.

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San Diego Zoo

Okay, if you think me never going to SeaWorld while I lived in San Diego is bad, listen to this.  Will had never been to a zoo before.  In his life.  Ever.  

When we heard that we knew that we absolutely needed to visit one of the best zoos in the world—the San Diego Zoo.

And don’t worry—I definitely changed into good walking shoes before we went in the park.

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It was so COOL to get to share that moment with Will.  His first time seeing rhinos, giraffes, elephants, lions, gorillas, etc.  He even broke out his phone to take his own pictures and video, which does not happen very often, folks.

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The gorilla was so cute!  A woman played a gorilla video on her phone and it just sat there and watched the whole thing.  

We power walked through Africa, the arctic, stopped for some ice cream, and ended at the orangutans, which were my favorites of the day.  Will’s favorite was the gorilla.  

San Diego 2018

After a few hours in the zoo, Will and I took off for a little while so that I could show him all of my old stomping grounds.  We drove up to north county and I showed him a few places I lived, worked, and shopped for groceries, before we headed back south to Pacific Beach.  We drove by my old townhouse and then parked and ran to the beach just in time to watch the last rays of light from the sunset.  It was such a special moment to be able to share with him.  

San Diego 2018

Still feeling all grateful and mushy, we stopped at a restaurant called Fat Fish by the pier to get dinner.  It was super delicious and special.  

San Diego 2018


We had a great and relaxing morning with the family before we got back on the road.  We stopped a few hours into our drive to spend a some time with the sand dunes.  Will had never seen sand dunes before!  Yet another cool moment to share with him!  They were pretty big, and super white.  It doesn’t take greenery or oceans for something to be beautiful.  

San Diego 2018

We had a fantastic trip and whirlwind weekend with the family.  There is so much to do in San Diego, it actually became overwhelming for me at one point because I realized that there is so much I want to share with Will.  I’m so grateful that we had this time with family and with San Diego before we head back to the east coast.  It did a lot of good for my soul.

Have you ever been to San Diego?  What was your favorite part?  The food is pretty high on my list!  If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by hitting that subscribe button if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

a saturday spent banding hummingbirds

Did you know that southern Arizona boasts the most diverse types of hummingbirds in the United States?  A couple weeks ago, Will and I went with our friends to the San Pedro House, just outside of Sierra Vista, to visit this historic ranch house where they tag hummingbirds.  In fact, we went on one of the last weeks that they do it because of migration season.  A lot of hummingbirds pass through southern Arizona on their way to Mexico.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

The area is significant for world bird conservation, and according to Bureau of Land Management, it has been “officially designated a globally important bird area.”  

While I’m not super into bird watching, and the San Pedro House boasts a good amount of walking trails and scenery, this time we went specifically to see the hummingbirds.  It was actually pretty incredible and interesting.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

The scientists and volunteers said that the best times to study the hummingbirds are around sunrise and sunset, because that’s when they are out and looking for food.  It was super interesting to watch!  

They used a simple drop cage to essentially catch the birds and then, ingeniously, got the public in on the studying by allowing them to gently and carefully carry the birds over to the people banding them.

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

You could tell the poor things were scared, but everyone was very gentle while handling them and they made sure to feed them before setting them free.  Carrying the little hummingbird was wild!  Its wings were beating so fast that I could feel the air movement.  

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

There was a seating area under the tent where they were tagging the hummingbirds so that you could listen and learn.  One of the volunteers was super great—she spent a lot of time with us to answer our questions and tell us all about what they eat, when they eat, what their mating is like, and how their lives change as they mature.  

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Will got to carry over the last bird of the day!

hummingbird banding in southern Arizona

She was pretty young.  The females usually lose their color and turn brown once they get older.  You can see in the photo how green she is.  This one had been caught three times that day already.  

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After we learned all about her feathers and how to tell she’s female, we set her free!  Not before a quick photo-op, though.

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I wish we had time to do more exploring around San Pedro house!  It’s right on a riverbed and is home to about 300 species of birds, not to mention the other animal life that are drawn to the water in this desert.

Do you guys like learning about animals?  I think of all birds, hummingbirds are probably one of my favorites.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and don’t forget to join the family by subscribing if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out

Dear Quiet Girl

Dear quiet girl, 

I don’t care if you are 11, or if you are 19, or if you are 37. The world probably tells you that you need to change. That it is wrong for you to be quiet. That what you really need to be is outspoken and outgoing. And you feel that every day.

What I really want you to know today is that you are beautiful just the way that you are, and that you do not need to change.

My story

When I was younger, I was very shy.  I know that’s not everyone’s story—one does not equal the other—but I bet a lot of you can relate.  

Maybe it wasn’t really shyness—it was just being uncomfortable in situations where other people seemed comfortable.  When I didn’t want to speak up or be the center of attention.  When the ice breaker was my worst nightmare and it just made me uncomfortable. 

That’s my story, of being a quiet girl growing up in a society of outspokenness.  In a society that views my quietness as being wrong, or abnormal.  I’m like Rory on Gilmore Girls—sometimes I would just rather read my book than join a club (although that isn’t always the case).

I grew up thinking that my quietness was wrong, and my shyness was abnormal.  I hated myself, and by the time I was in college I got really angry at God for how He made me.  No matter how hard I tried to be different than I was—to be outspoken and the life of the party—I just couldn’t.  I started to push against God in anger and I started making bad life decisions because I wanted Him to prove that He really loved me.

It took a little while for my decisions to catch up with me and by the time I entered my mid-twenties, I was completely broken. 

Thankfully, through that brokenness I found my confidence.  Through that brokenness, I found who I truly am.  It wasn’t who I felt like I should be.  It wasn’t who society told me I should be.  But it was exactly who God made me to be, and who I had been all along.


The comparison game

As women we play the comparison game a lot.  We judge our insides against someone else’s outsides.  We see someone who appears to have it all together and we think, “why can’t I have that?”  Which is bad enough in itself, but the sick part is that we don’t stop there.  We go farther.  We try to change who we are at our core because we don’t think that we are good enough.  

Ladies, confidence does not always look like outspokenness.  Confidence is being self-assured, not just in WHO you are, but in HOW you are.  And sister, HOW you are is beautiful, and is absolutely ENOUGH.

I want you to know that your quietness is your loudest voice. That when people ask you to speak up, sometimes it’s encouragement and it’s okay to be uncomfortable, but other times it is just because they don’t understand you. 

One day someone commented on my quietness and I apologized. My pastor heard me and laughed, but then said, “don’t apologize for being quiet.” My pastor is a good leader and he Sees people. That is my hope for you. That you will See yourself, and know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

If you grew up in the church, you’ve heard that a lot. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knit you together in your mother’s womb. God doesn’t make mistakes. 

It may seem like a cliche, but that’s probably just because you’ve heard it too many times. It has stopped making an impact on you, because you still think that you need to change. You do NOT need to change. 

Sure, there are things we can work on.  Jealousy we can work on. Greed we can work on. Impatience we can work on. But quietness is NOT a flaw and is NOT a sin. I once had someone tell me that my quietness was pride and that pride is sinful. I don’t think that person understood, but girl I get it. Your quietness is just you. It isn’t pride, although I’m not saying us quiet girls aren’t capable of being prideful. But one does NOT equal the other. 


The good stuff 

Let’s talk about some of the good things about being quiet, shall we?  

Quiet people tend to be great listeners.  Don’t you hate when you have finally spoken up and you realize the other person isn’t really listening to you?  They have that glazed look in their eye?  Quiet people are pretty good at listening to hear and understand, instead of listening for how to respond.

Quiet people are often very observant.  We invest our energy in people and situations.  We don’t miss as much.  For example, I have a really good sense of direction and I think it might be because of this.  Quiet people notice things others might not.

Quiet people usually think (a lot) before they speak.  I used to get frustrated about this, but as I grew older I realized that it is one of my strengths.  In college everyone I knew thought I was super intelligent even though I was a B average student.  I’m pretty sure it’s just because I kept my mouth closed half the time, and when I finally spoke up it was usually well thought out.  


Things to think about

If you are struggling with your quietness right now, here are some Bible verse that I want you to really dwell on this week.  Even if you have read them before—even if you want to brush them off—don’t.  Sit with them.  Rest with them.  Wrestle with them.  Come to understand them.  

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.  Proverbs17:28

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:4

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12:2

If the world is telling you to be something you aren’t, evaluate why you care so much.  Is it your friends?  Is it people you WISH were your friends?  Are you going to lose your job over it?  Is it a good reason, from a good source, or are you just trying to impress someone who should honestly be loving you just the way you are?

God made you!  He literally delights in you.  God doesn’t make mistakes.  God is love.  And God is especially good at being God.  He’s got you.

The next time someone comments on how quiet you are, remember, you don’t have to apologize.  

Until next time,
Jamie out.

summer in the desert | Arizona Part III

As month three in Arizona pulled to a close, Will and I quickly realized that there were only a few weeks left in the desert before we will be moving back to North Carolina.  What a whirlwind we have had out here!  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

In month three we settled into a little bit of a routine.  We went on a few adventures here and there, but also found ourselves staying at home a little more often.  I spent my time watching the last month of Big Brother season twenty (yes, it’s still on the air, and this was a FANTASTIC season), working my butt off in the workout program 80 Day Obsession, and working remotely for a company back in North Carolina.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I discovered the folly of bringing hot coffee on errands when it’s still summer in the desert.  AKA, don’t.  I didn’t drink any of it and was lucky to make it home alive after leaving the house in the afternoon.  

We also found this fantastic Jurassic Park Jeep and decided that whoever owns it needs to be our BFF ASAP.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

There is a fantastic mountain right behind our hotel.  One Saturday we hadn’t planned to do anything, so after lunch we took our books up to the top and sat together to read and enjoy the view.  I’ll be honest, the attacking bees, wasps nests, and plethora of ants were a little off putting but otherwise we had a fantastic afternoon.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III


I have mentioned before that Will and I love shopping on holidays.  We always need things, and the things we need are often expensive.  So we try to wait for holiday sales to really get our money’s worth.  We drove up to Tucson on Labor Day this year to hit the outlets.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I picked up a couple pairs of jeans from Old Navy for fifty percent off.  We also stopped by Nike, which had great sales compared to last year.  Will got a lot of new workout gear he’s been needing and I picked up a couple things as well.  I also stopped in J. Crew for some shorts and, in a surprise twist, walked out of Kate Spade with my first piece that was seventy-five percent off!

Also, shameless plug—my sister is a Mary Kay consultant if you’re in the market for one!  I’m sure she would love to help you!

summer in the desert | Arizona part III


Our food experiences in Arizona have absolutely never disappointed.  From some classic Taco Bell hot sauces (secretly probably Will’s favorite fast food restaurant) to some breakfast bowls in which you can see all the ingredients from a local cafe, we are basically eating our way through our time in the desert.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I was SUPER excited to finally find the holiday section tucked away in my grocery store and brought home our supply of pumpkin spice.  It was a blessed day!  We also went on a date night to our favorite Mexican food joint—La Casitas.  It is deliciously dangerous and we almost missed our movie (A Simple Favor) because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

The Grand Canyon

Among our many adventures recently, the Grand Canyon was a huge one.  I’ve already blogged about it, so if you would like to you can read about the sunrise here, or our hike along the rim trail here.  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III summer in the desert | Arizona part III

We woke up at 3am, got ready, ate breakfast, and then drove about an hour to get to the park before sunrise.  It was incredible.  We stood there for an hour, easily, to witness the canyon see the first light of day.  I never regret early mornings while on vacation if the purpose is to experience a sunrise like this.  It’s probably one of my favorite things to do, and something I very rarely do in my everyday life.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

We spent the rest of our day at the canyon hiking the rim trail—12.2 miles.  It was an amazing seven hours in the presence of one of the most incredible natural wonders in the world.  

Once we had completed the hike, part of which was in the pouring rain, we hopped on a shuttle back to the visitor center to stamp our National Parks Passports and then learn a little more about the park before heading back to our hotel in Williams.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

This diagram of the Grand Canyon at the visitor center was really cool.  It was awesome to see where we had been all day.  

Once back at our hotel room, we crashed for several hours and then ordered pizza to eat in bed while we watched Harry Potter.  Now if that isn’t a perfect day, then I don’t know what is.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III


Our first time camping together (ever) was a bit of a disaster, and you can read that blog post here.  To be fair, mostly we were just ill-prepared and already a little grumpy before we even left the house.  But sleeping in a tent in the fresh air and under the stars is always worth it.

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

I have been dying to test out my tent since I bought it, and these views were certainly impressive.  My absolute favorite thing about being in Arizona has been the outdoor exploring we have been able to do.  Exploring like this was not something we were able to do back on the east coast, but we’re resolving to change that.  

summer in the desert | Arizona part III

As our time here in Arizona is pulling to a close, we’re busy building lasting memories, cherishing the time we have left, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies in existence.  #NoShame

If you have any suggestions for things to explore in southern Arizona or adventures we should go on back in North Carolina, leave them in the comments below!  We would love to hear them!

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like, don’t forget to join the family and subscribe if you haven’t already, and we’ll see you guys next time!

Jamie out

More posts:
Moving to Arizona | Arizona Part I | Arizona Part II