I am thankful for…

At my job, every day we start the morning by sharing our good news.  Sometimes it is a struggle to think of something, but I can appreciate it all the more because it forces me to chase the good and positive.  

Even if I have been dog sitting another puppy all weekend and I feel like I cleaned up more messes than when we were in the thick of potty training our pup Blue.  Even if I am struggling to adjust back to North Carolina busy life.  I know that my good news this morning is that I got to spend some much needed quality time with my husband this weekend and that we actually weren’t that busy the past two days.

So here is my challenge to you—life is hard, and busy.  There is always something responsible to get done, like laundry and the dishes.  There is always something that will throw off your routine, or be frustrating.  The good news is that you are in control of yourself and how you react to things.  My challenge for you is to chase the good.  Do it with me—every morning think of what your good news is.  

Did you just get a cute new pair of shoes?  Did you successfully try a new recipe?  Did your kid accomplish something awesome, like good grades?  Did you have a great date night?  

Be thankful.  Have an attitude of gratitude.  If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  

It isn’t going to do your life much good if you are only thankful on Thanksgiving.  It is time to create a habit of gratitude.


our Thankful family our Thankful family our Thankful family

Until next time,
Jamie out

my car was totaled on our cross country move

On the first day of our cross-country move, in a small town in New Mexico, my tiny car was rear ended as we were attempting to pull into a restaurant for dinner.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

Earlier that day

We were in Arizona for four months, exploring and working and living in a hotel.  We booked it out from North Carolina in June, driving our two tiny cars packed to the brim across the country over three and a half days in order to get a good hotel room.  We were able to snag a suite, with a kitchenette, separate bedroom, and couches for comfy movie nights.  I took advantage of our space and went through a full workout program during our stay.  I worked out five days a week for about an hour every day and got some abs by the end.

When it was time to leave, we were definitely a little sad.  We had made great friends and connections, not to mention all of the authentic Mexican food and National Parks to explore.  If you have been following my blog you know all about our adventures and how much we loved our time in the desert.  Granted, my whole family is in North Carolina and we have an incredible support group on the east coast, so we were definitely excited to head home as well.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We weren’t able to leave town until the afternoon.  We packed up our cars, checked out of our hotel, said goodbye to our friends and had a quick lunch at Subway.  We sent texts to all of our family and friends to let them know we were hitting the road.  I promised my mom I would let her know once we arrived at our hotel for the evening.  Then we set off into the desert, going through our last border patrol check and peacing out toward the mountains.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We stopped in a tiny town in New Mexico and pulled into a parking lot to check our map and decide where to eat.  We settled on a nearby local restaurant that had great reviews online.  After turning back out onto the 25 mile per hour road, we drove a little ways and then turned left on another road.  We stopped, with our left blinkers on, intending to turn into the restaurant’s parking lot.

That’s when I got hit.

my car was totaled on our cross country move

Suddenly my head flew backward and my car lurched forward and my heart and lungs seemed to compress in my chest behind the tightened seatbelt.  My arms were glued to the steering wheel and as I began to comprehend what had happened, and my car lurched forward again, I slammed my feet on the brakes in a feeble attempt to avoid hitting Will’s car, which was directly in front of me.

Luckily, I didn’t hit Will.  He waved to me, indicating he was going to pull into the parking lot.  I rolled down my window to look back at the driver who hit me to see if he was okay.  He was in a huge truck.  My tiny Mazda hadn’t stood a chance.  

I shakily yelled back at him, “Are you okay?”  But I doubt he heard me.  I waved at him a few times, and indicated two or three times that I was going to pull into the parking lot to get us out of the road.  I tested my car and it seemed okay to drive, so I cautiously pulled into the parking lot and to the side to stop.  Will ran to my window and immediately asked if I was okay.  I started crying, I think simply from adrenaline and shock.  Also just because I cry over every strong emotion.  I got out of my car and we hugged.  That’s when we finally looked around for the other driver.

He wasn’t there.

Another shock.  It was a hit and run.  And it had happened to me.

The witnesses outside were shocked as well.  The restaurant owners brought us water.  A paramedic heard the crunch of my tiny car as it was hit, so he and his fellow paramedic came immediately and called the police for us.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move

Guys, I want to emphasize something right now.  Every single person we encountered on this journey was amazing.  They answered our questions, helped us however they could, and were on our team.  Even though we went through something hard (although unfortunately not uncommon), we did our best to treat everyone with respect while at the same time emphasizing our situation and being proactive in getting everything accomplished.  

We were in the middle of/on the first day of our cross country move.  We were not from New Mexico, we had no permanent address, and we were two thousand miles from our destination.  

As we waited for a tow truck, a truck pulled up and a man and his son got out, heading directly over to the police.  There was a small dent in the front bumper of the truck.  I nudged Will, who was on the phone with insurance.  

I want to protect involved individuals, so I’m not going to hand out specific here, but let’s just say that the dad of the driver who hit me deserves an award.  They came back, and we shook hands, and they apologized, and their insurance has been the bomb.

What a crazy rollercoaster of a night!

The tow truck driver, on arrival, inspected my car and told me it was okay to drive to Las Cruces.  Will asked if he could drive my Mazda for me and I took his little Fiesta.  We stopped for a quick dinner, got a hotel room, unpacked my car, and then went to the ER to get me checked out.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

I got x-rays of my right wrist and they did an exam but determined nothing was broken or bruised.  They gave me a shot for pain and a prescription for muscle relaxers, and advised that I not take more than half a pill at night if I was planning on driving the next day.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

The following day was Friday and insurance claims adjusters don’t really work on the weekend.  We had one day to get everything sorted out, otherwise we were going to be stuck in New Mexico all weekend.  

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

To make a long story and a long day a lot shorter, we were able to meet with an insurance claims adjuster that afternoon and after working with us for a few hours, he determined that my car was a total loss.

Not to be dramatic, but literally six years to the day after I bought her, my baby died.

my car was totaled on our cross country move
Throwback to the day after I brought her home.

On one hand this was much more convenient.  We didn’t have to figure out how to get my car repaired and then to North Carolina, or how to get to North Carolina and then repaired.  Having it be a total loss meant that insurance could give us a check and a rental car and we could drive off into the sunset.

Which is pretty much exactly what we did.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

It was a bitter sweet moment, and I may have shed some tears as we said goodbye to my Mazda and peaced out in the HUGE Ford F-250 rental car (the only car they had on the lot for us).  At least we knew we could fit all of the stuff that was inside my car into the truck.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

We stopped and indulged a little for dinner at Cracker Barrel, drowning our sorrows in comfort food and consoling ourselves that the total loss was ultimately in our favor because we could finally get back on the road.

After dinner we drove a couple hours into Texas just to get somewhere.  I took half a muscle relaxer once we got to our hotel room and we went to sleep almost immediately.  It had been a crazy 28 hours.

my car was totaled on our cross country move my car was totaled on our cross country move

The rest of our trip was absolutely uneventful.  We ate dinner one night at the fanciest Panera I have ever seen.  We still listened to podcasts and stopped for Subway, gas station dinners, and tiny donuts.  Will drove the truck (and LOVED every minute of it) and I drove his car.  We took a different route home than we had planned in order to save some time.  Our favorite hotel was a La Quinta somewhere near the eastern border of Texas.  Our room had crazy tall ceilings and was exceptionally nice.

All in all, even after arriving back home in North Carolina, purchasing a new car, and other grand adventures we have been on since coming back, we are grateful.  We don’t know God’s purpose yet in the accident, and maybe we never will.  Sometimes everything isn’t about us.  Maybe it is about someone we encountered along the journey.  

Or maybe for us, it was about having each other and learning to cope together in a stressful situation.  Having Will by my side through all of it was the greatest blessing.  It was much less stressful to go through it with him and while I would rather never total a car again, I would gladly say I’m excited to do life with my husband, especially during the rough patches of life.

Until next time,
Jamie out

our top 10 tips for surviving a road trip with your spouse

Will and I have been on five road trips since we got married almost seven months ago. I’m not talking two hour drives for a day trip, either. I’m talking two cross country moves and three road-freaking-trips.

When we moved out to Arizona in June we had been married for two months. We were blessed enough to have already had a honeymoon, but this four month journey in the desert kind of felt like a second go around. We were about to experience a whole lot of just each other. Not a whole lot of family, friends, or busy lives to distract us. 

We definitely took advantage of our distraction free time. Our first weekend in Arizona, we drove to Utah to visit Will’s family and celebrate his mom’s birthday. We spent almost every weekend in Tucson or at a National Park. Over Labor Day we road tripped to the Grand Canyon. Over Columbus Day we trekked out to San Diego. And by Halloween we moved back home to North Carolina. 

We’ve made some good and bad discoveries about road trips over the past few months and want to share our top ten tips for surviving road trips with your spouse.

Plan the trip together 

Maybe one of you is accustomed to leaving at five am, while the other person thinks nine o’clock is reasonable.  Maybe one of you wants to push and drive fourteen, eighteen, twenty-four hours in a day, while the other person considers six to eight hours a solid day of driving.  

These are all completely normal things, but if you don’t talk about expectations ahead of time, you WILL be shocked when your spouse thinks that driving straight through the night is 100% happening.  

Talk about the foreseeable things during the road trip planning process.  If you can’t plan the entire trip together (because of work, or whatever other reason), at least take some time to sit down and talk it out.  Make sure you understand each other’s expectations up front.  

How many days do you expect to be on the road?  Will you be staying in hotels, with friends and relatives, or camping?  Is stopping for sight seeing an option, or is time more pressing?  

Sit down and talk about these, and other foreseeable things before you leave.

Manage the snack and beverage situation

When I get bored, I like to eat.  Having snacks at my fingertips while on the road is crucial, but also dangerous.  The good news is that you’re in control of yourself, and that you have influence over your partnership.  You and your spouse are literally the people purchasing your snacks for the road.  You can absolutely be prepared.

Will and I go to the grocery store together.  We decide together what we want.  I know I’ll want chocolate.  We’ll both want something salty.  Throwing in healthy options is a positive thing.  We bring some Gatorade in addition to water to make sure we will stay hydrated.  

I consider having snacks for a road trip to be non-negotiable, but I do understand the difference between needing a pick-me-up and needing a meal.  Make sure you have discussed with one another whether or not you’ll be packing your own meals to bring, or if you’ll be stopping along the route.  Will and I like to stop at Subway for healthy, inexpensive options.  I also love throwing a side salad onto fast food meals to get some veggies while on the road. 

Eat the Hostess Donuts

Speaking of eating healthy while on the road, my personal cheat are those tiny little chocolate Hostess donuts you can get at every gas station.  Every morning, I treat myself at the first gas station we stop at with a package of donuts to reward myself for being a good sport about sitting still all day.  

I know I just spouted all this stuff at you about you being the one in control and that you can bring the healthy snack options.  But fo real, these Hostess donuts are an absolute necessity and Will agrees with me completely.  

Create your own custom playlist

If you’re anything like me, you have been creating your own playlists on iTunes and/or Spotify for years.  You hear a song, you think, “That’s my jam!” and you add that piece of gold to your playlist.  

At the start of every road trip I have taken since college, we begin every day with “Circle Of Life” from the Lion King, followed by upbeat songs and Disney princess classics.  Belting it out whether or not you know all the words is a given.

In the weeks leading up to your road trip, throw some songs in a playlist.  Think of songs your spouse loves and put them on there.  The song you danced to at your wedding?  Definitely.  That song from high school you remember all the lyrics to?  Add it!  This is not the time to be sophisticated.  This is absolutely the time for sing alongs, road trip dance parties, and keeping your eyelids propped open by the mere sound of high school’s nostalgic rhythms coming out of your sound system.  

Use Walkie-Talkies

Are you and your spouse going to be driving in different cars?  Walkie-talkies are absolutely, 100% necessary.  Let’s think about it—the likelihood of you being more than a mile apart from one another is slim to none while you’re on the road, talking on your hand held phone is illegal in most states, and in the event that your car is not equipped with blu-tooth (like mine), communicating while driving can get tricky.

Not with walkie-talkies!  Head down to Walmart and pick up a pair.  Bring some extra batteries on the road and viola!  You can talk about a rad podcast you just listened to, exclaim over some huge bird you just saw, or share navigation tips with just the push of a button.

Will and I have code names.  He’s Captain American and I’m Raptor One.  

Listen to podcasts

Speaking of podcasts, remember when you were a kid and you would be driving somewhere and all your parents wanted to listen to was some boring radio show or news broadcast?  I would be sitting in the back being like, “Why can’t we just listen to music instead of this boring stuff?”

When Will and I moved across the country, we both took separate cars, so we could listen to whatever we wanted to.  I could sing as loud and as long as I wanted and he could listen to as many political podcasts as his heart desired.  Once we started road tripping together in the same car, it changed things.

The good news is that we are a team and a partnership.  We’re also BFFs so we occasionally share interests.  We attempt to be considerate of each other and listen to things that interest both of us.  

On the move out to Arizona we both fell in love with podcasts, and the great news is that podcasts are completely free for you to listen to.  You can listen to what you want, when you want, and there are thousands of shows to pick from.  You can even download them when you’re connected to wifi and listen to them later, so you don’t use your data.  See?  Free.

My favorite podcasts lately are the SHE podcast, ONE Extraordinary Marriage, and Elevation with Steven Furtick.  I saved up several shows for our move back to North Carolina and had a blast.

Listen to each other’s needs while on the road

We all have bladders and stomachs.  We all get dehydrated or car sick.  We all have expectations for how our day is going to go.  

My point is, you’re both different and come from different driving experiences from before your relationship.  Don’t allow your need to get where you’re going steamroll your relationship.  When you’re on the road, listen to each other’s needs and allow your partner to be human.  Chances are, arriving later than planned will not endanger or hurt someone.  They may just… alter your plans.  That’s it.  

I can easily go for four or five hours without stopping while on the road, unless the car needs gas.  Will, on the other hand, needs to get out of the car every couple hours to simply stretch his legs.  When we moved to Arizona two months after getting married, this actually really annoyed me.  I didn’t understand why we could never drive for longer than three hours without stopping.  It wasn’t until months later that Will shared how restless his legs and body would get, and that’s something I can completely understand!

The reality is, stopping for ten to fifteen minutes at a gas station will not ruin the trip.  In fact, it might enhance and benefit the experience for your spouse.  Accept the humanity of your spouse and if it’s something that annoys you, realize that they can’t control it either.  It’s just a need that they have, and that is 100% okay.  Show them some love and grace.

Be willing to drive

I grew up in a family where my dad drives basically everywhere.  It is very rare that my mom will hop behind the wheel when both of my parents are in the same car, even while on a road trip.  (Side note—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, OR if your family was completely different.  I’m just saying, this is my family.)

Will and I are very similar, but this is still an expectation I revisit occasionally in our relationship.  I try to thank him often for when he drives for us, especially if he drove a long way or at the end of a tiring day.  I’ll ask if he’s okay to drive, not as a sign of disrespect, but because if he needs me to drive instead, I would love to serve him in that way.

If in your relationship, one of you tends to drive more than the other, maybe discuss that expectation before you leave for your road trip.  Ask if your spouse wants to drive the most, or if they would like to split it more equally.  Even if you don’t talk about it ahead of time and your spouse asks you to drive while you’re in the middle of your trip, be okay and willing to step up and help.  

On the flip side, if you normally do all the driving, but expect to want to share that responsibility on the road trip, lovingly bring the idea up ahead of time.  Make sure your spouse knows how they can serve you.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask!  If you’re too tired to drive, it is absolutely okay to ask your partner to step up!

Pray over your journey

I actually think that this is the most important thing.  Just like praying in everyday life, over tough situations and illnesses, or over a newly purchased home, praying over your trip should be something you do every time.  Set the intention now, whether it’s before you leave the house or as soon as you sit in the car.  

I try to pray over everything.  Over our own personal and bodily safety, over our own alertness and health, over the safety of our vehicles and their mechanics, and that we will be surrounded by alert and competent drivers.  In everything, God’s plan is highest and His will be done.

Don’t total your car

We did this, when we were driving from Arizona to North Carolina.  On our first day of driving I got rear ended in a tiny town in New Mexico.  

We had been planning on taking a more northern route home, to see friends and family and to frolic in the fall foliage of the mountains.  Instead we ended up staying in New Mexico for about twenty-four more hours while we sorted everything out with insurance on a Friday before the weekend.  The car being a total loss was in our favor because did not have to figure out how to repair it and transport it back home.

Obviously, not being at fault in this situation, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.  It just happened.  I can replay the scenario countless times, realizing had we not tried to stop for dinner, had we not pulled into that parking lot, had we not done A, B, C, D then this would not have happened and our lives would be very different.  Luckily I trust in someone bigger and greater than myself and I know that God’s Got This.  

I will blog more about the accident later.  This blog post is not about that.  It is about this: always keep proof of insurance in your car.  Always have good insurance that will take care of you in the case of an accident because I don’t care who you are, it WILL happen to you one of these days.  Be on your spouse’s team.  Even if they are at fault, they probably weren’t planning on getting in a car accident, especially when you are 2,000 miles from home.  Recognize that you only have control over certain things.  Explain your situation to the insurance people.  Get people on your team.  They will move mountains for you if you treat them with respect and understanding.  You have been through something tough and if you treat them right, they will do what they can to make this situation a little easier.

But if at all possible, avoid this situation.  It is way too complicated when you are far away from home.

To all of you, I wish you safe and fun road trips with your spouse!  They can absolutely be great experiences, especially if you make the most of them.  

Have more tips for your fellow travelers?  Leave it in the comments below!  If you enjoyed this post, give it a like and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

the end | Arizona Part IV

Arizona.  We came, we saw, we loved.  

Our fourth month in the desert flew by.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we left the south in June, but I don’t know that we knew what a fantastic experience our four month extended honeymoon would be.

The #SuiteLifeofWillandJamie

To our little hotel suite, with its tiny kitchenette, huge desk, desert themed photos, and ever failing internet.  You were just what we needed and more.  Despite the hotel turning off the AC half way through October so that our room became boiling at 80 degrees (really, we can’t be happy because without the heater is was 59 degrees), and despite the monsoons through the summer that curbed our camping exploits, we really could not have had a better time.

the end | arizona part IV

We had a whole crew that went to the same church every Sunday.  The church was a great little place with good people and a good culture and great taste in music.  This one Sunday the boys all dressed alike.

the end | arizona part IV

We went to see Smallfoot!  Guys.  It is such a cute movie.  Will and I really enjoyed ourselves.  It is funny and feel-good and we left much happier than when we went in.  This was also our first time at this tiny theater and Will discovered that I love the candy “Dots.”  Anyone else with me?  They’re delicious!

the end | arizona part IV

I finished the seventh Harry Potter book and had intentions to read the following “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” when we got to North Carolina, but our storage unit flooded and that book was one of the casualties.  

(Don’t worry I will blog about the storage unit catastrophe later.)

Book seven was way better than I remember it being and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I also almost killed us one night while making spaghetti.  I (accidentally) poured almost this entire thing of garlic powder into the sauce.  Let’s just say, we will be safe from vampires for quite a while.

the end | arizona part IV

I ran out of contacts right before moving home so I popped into an eye doctor to update my prescription.  The doctor was probably the nicest eye doctor I have ever had and was super awesome.  If you are ever in need of an optometrist in Sierra Vista, Arizona, head on over to the Walmart vision center.  You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong!

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Adventures

Our months in Arizona were packed with adventures, and October was no different.  We began the month with a trip out to San Diego to visit Will’s family (blog post linked here), and over Will’s birthday weekend we explored Bisbee a little more with some friends.  

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The Queen Mine Tour was so much fun!  If you are in the area and have the chance to go, you definitely should!  It is on our list of favorite things we did while in Arizona.   

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We wore our warm clothes, got decked out in fluorescent vests, hard hats and flashlights, and set out underground with a hilarious and informed tour guide.  We told him we were from North Carolina and he decided to use the two of us for examples on the tour a couple times.

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After the tour we drove into the historic part of town for an incredible steak dinner at Cafe Roka.  Another place we would highly recommend!  Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.  They are only open three days a week and serve some absolutely exquisite food.  The friend we went with was born in Bisbee so she knew everyone and we were treated very well.  It was a blast!

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Our very last hurrah was to visit Saguaro National Park.  It was the perfect bookend to our incredible Arizona experience.  

the end | arizona part IV

If you want to see more photos of Saguaro, check out the blog post here.  To be honest, when I think of the desert I definitely think of these cacti, which are actually called Saguaros.  They are the universal symbol of the American West, can live up to 200 years, weigh more than a ton, and will probably grow to be more than forty feet tall.  If there was one thing we did not want to miss before heading back to the east coast, it was spending a sunset with this incredible plant life.

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Saying Goodbye

I’m not going to lie.  Writing this blog post has been hard!  We had SO much fun in Arizona and made so many great memories.  Saying goodbye has definitely been bitter sweet.  We miss our people, our mountains, and our animal style In-N-Out burgers.  The authentic Mexican food is making my mouth water as we speak.

Really, I am just so grateful that we had such an amazing time.  I am grateful that we had the opportunity to call Arizona home for a few months.  That we got to explore so many amazing National Parks.  That we got a little bit of time, just the two of us, to established our marriage.  And that we had so many amazing people championing and supporting us through all of it.

Thank you all so much for everything. 

Don’t worry—now that we are back in North Carolina, the exploring is not ending!  It might change a little bit, but if there is one thing I have learned in my thirty years (UGH I still hate saying that.  Thirty.) it is that life is always an adventure.

Until next time,
Jamie out.

the end | arizona part IV