Happy Summer

It’s been over two months since the moved to our new beach place and, I have to say, it is better than I expected.  We are enjoying a great summer near the ocean; exploring, relaxing, adventuring and refreshing as we gear up for this upcoming school year. This summer has given me a small glimpse into my future with the hubs and no kids. I’ve seen a quick view of what empty nest life will be like.  I am incredibly sad to see this season go, but, after this summer, I’m becoming more excited for the next season. This coming school year, both of my children will be seniors; one in high school and one in college.  Also, my daughter gets married in a little less than a year!  This means over the next year, we will choose a college for our son. Our son will graduate from high school.  We will plan and put together a wedding for our daughter.  Our daughter will graduate from college and become a registered nurse.  And about one year from now, our daughter will get married! Lots of changes on the horizon.  Lots of emotions to be had.

I have a ridiculous amount of photos to share from the first couple of months in our beach place.  Scroll on if you’re bored and have time.

HAPPY SUMMER!

 

Advertisements

The Big Move

        

So, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted to the blog but this big change warranted a post. Hoping to get back to more postings about our new journey.

It seems like most people have a similar story; the couple meet in college, they fall in love and get married. They spend the next 10 years or so traveling, building their careers, building a home with pretty things and enjoying time with each other before settling down to have children. Good, bad or indifferent, our story is the opposite of most.

My husband and I met when we were 16 during my junior and his senior year of high school. We fell in love and got engaged at 19 and 20, married at 20 and 21 had our first baby at 21 and 22 with the second baby at 24 and 25. There was no money or time to travel, to build a career, to build a home with pretty things or spend a lot of time together. We focused on our children and our family.

Then in the blink of an eye, we realized our children are pretty much grown. We took a step back and evaluated. We have been married for nearly 22 years and most of our furniture was given to us and we had no matching dishes or towels (just to nam a few). We had been so focused on raising children, we hadn’t really focused on all the little things. We were living like college students!

So we decided to make a big change. We decided to sell our family home and purchase a small town home near the beach. Our town home is about half the size of our family home. This was the perfect opportunity to throw away all of our old crap and actually be adults and buy and fill our home with new and pretty things.

Our daughter has moved out and will be getting married next year (yikes!). Our son will be 18 in a month and will spend his senior year in the town home before he goes to college. After that, it will be just the two of us. We have never truly been married without kids but we are excited about this next season of our lives. While everyone else our age is raising a family, we will be biking to the beach to watch the sunset, paddleboarding down the intercoastal, fishing from our boat, walking to beach restaurants for dinner and traveling the world.

Even though our story is different, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have two amazing (ahem) adult children (still so hard to say) that I am incredibly proud of and a loving husband that I get to spend the rest of my life with. So while it’s sad to see my children go, I am excited to step into the next phase of our marriage; our fun empty nest phase.

Long Hair Care

I recently considered cutting my hair off.  I tend to consider this from time to time but I was a bit more serious than usual almost to the point of making an appointment.  Instead I decided to try a homemade shine mask for my hair first to see if I could bring a little health back to the ends.  To my surprise the shine mask worked.  I think the reason I was so surprised that it made a difference is because it is made with ingredients from my kitchen.  Since this is so easy and worked so well, I thought I’d share it with you.  Enjoy!

(By the way, I decided not to cut my hair… for now.  Hopefully it sticks for a while.  I tend to get bored and want to change it but I really do want super long hair.)

Ingredients:

  1. 1 egg
  2. 4 TBSP yogurt
  3. 2 TBSP coconut oil (or olive oil)
  4. 1 TBSP of lemon juice

Directions:

Crack egg into a bowl and beat extremely well with a whisk (to the point where the top layer has bubbles).  Add in the yogurt, coconut oil and lemon juice and whisk once again extremely well.  Massage into dry hair.  If you have a dry scalp then massage mask into the scalp. Otherwise avoid getting the mask on the scalp and concentrate on the length of your hair.  Let sit for 20 minutes (clip up or put into a shower cap to avoid dripping). Rinse through with water only.  Shampoo and condition as normal.

An Engagement, a Prom and a Birthday

  

I have learned that it is much more difficult to parent older children, especially adult children, more so than smaller ones. I’m not downplaying the difficulty of raising little ones. Raising little ones is more of a physical drain whereas raising older ones is an emotional one.  Yet, all of is more gratifying than most anything else you’ll experience in life.

I remember those days when my kiddos were little and learning to ride a bike. It was hard in its own way but mama had control of it all. When your kids are older, you must parent with little to no control over their lives. Letting go is hard.

Within one week, my oldest got engaged, my youngest went to his first prom and he also turned 17.  It feels very surreal; like being in some sort of time warp or maybe an out of body experience.  At times I feel like I’m hovering above my life looking down and not really even recognizing it.  It seems like everything is changing all at once but I guess that how life goes, right?  “Children grow old and then they leave.” -Parker Millsap, Homeless.  Just sitting over here trying to adjust.

More Than Magical

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride in a parade through the streets of Magic Kingdom with 100,000 people watching you and waving to you? Apparently this a thing that can actually happen to an average person.

My family had just walked into Magic Kingdom and of course had to do the stereotypical picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle. As we were trying to figure out how to get a picture with everyone in it, two Disney cast members approached us and offered to take the picture for us. Of course we accepted. Little did we know that those two people would totally change our day and our Disney experience forever. After lots of dialogue and questions back and forth with the two cast members, they proceeded to ask us if we would like to be the honorary Grand Marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade. The first picture above shows our reaction when we were first asked. Unbeknownst to us, they had a photographer capturing the entire moment.

I’ll be honest, I really had no idea what being a grand Marshall of the Festival of Fantasy parade in Magic Kingdom truly meant. It was a much bigger deal than I had expected.

We all met back at the predetermined location later that afternoon. Those same two cast members were there ready and waiting for us. The first thing they did was gave Mickey ears with “Grand Marshals” embroidered on the back. The photographers were there as well. We were quickly told what would happen but I still had no idea what this was experience would be like for us . The entire moment was surreal. We were ushered back into a cast members only area. We loaded into this beautiful car and were told to smile and wave the entire time. As the main cast member instructed, if our mouths and arms don’t hurt by the end, then we didn’t do it right. The gates opened and we were on our way.

Next was the surreal part. The entire streets of Magic Kingdom were roped off. There were nearly 100,000 people lining the streets. We were well ahead of the parade and the only thing on the road. The entire crowd began waving and smiling at us. At this moment over the entire loudspeaker of the park, our family name was announced; “our honorary grand marshals of the Festival of Fantasy parade is the Handley family from South Florida”. They proceeded to make this announcement multiple times through the entire route. As I am smiling and waving to the crowd, I felt like I was in a dream. Everyone was looking at us.  Everyone was waving at us. It was probably one of, if not the coolest thing that has ever happened to me and my family. We ended the route but it was not over.

The cast members had roped off a special location for our family to watch the parade. They were literally kicking people out of our area as it was specially roped off just for us. The amazing and cool thing is that not only did we had a photographer shooting the entire moment, but everyone in the parade, all the characters; Belle, the Seven Dwarfs, Mickey, Minnie, etc. were all paying attention to us; waving to us and talking to us. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what it feels like to be a celebrity. The parade ended, but there was still one last thing.

Our paparazzi photographer (as they called it) took us to Main Street in front of Cinderella’s castle. From there she took a ton of awesome photos of our entire family. This moment was bigger and better than I had ever imagined or expected. This moment in our lives and our Disney experience, was more than magical.

Happy Trails

bike-trail-sunset sitting-on-trail bike-on-bridge-sunset trail-curve riding-bike-on-trail trail-ride-selfie bike-on-trail

I love adventure, exercise and nature.  So, I’m not quite sure why I was so surprised that I not only liked trail riding, I LOVED it! It combines almost everything I love into one activity. If you throw in a sunset, that just puts it right over the edge. The trails I’ve been riding are on the edge of the Florida Everglades so the sunsets area phenomenal.

As promised in my post about paddleboarding again (view here), I gave trail riding a try and I must say, it is quickly becoming a regular outing for me. As for rock climbing, I tried a local indoor gym and loved it.  However, it will be a bit difficult to do on a regular basis as you need a partner to belay you. The only active person I know that is interested in rock climbing is my 16 year old son.  Between school, football training, track training, track meets and theater/play practice, I doubt we will fit much climbing in (at least for now).  I am going to try an outdoor rock climbing option at my daughters college and do a climb with her. We’ll see how it goes.  More to come.

I must say, I love using nature as my gym.  When I’m exercising outside, I feel invigorated and elated; I feel alive!

Forty One

sup-beach-view nell-hat-on-beach rock-climbing sup-selfie nell-and-kiddos 41 single-wave abc-breakfast sup bike-ride

So, this is 41. Supposedly once you’re over 40, then you’re considered “over the hill”, right? Well maybe, maybe not. In my 20’s I did consider the 40’s as being “over the hill” and I had a picture in my head of what that would look and feel like. This is not at all what I expected. Man, am I glad.  I choose to make the most of every day.  I choose to do the things that make me feel alive. So, here’s to the 40’s. Bring it on!

*A special thanks to my three favorite people; Steve, Danica and Trey.  Steve made me feel special and let me do anything I wanted all weekend while he did my chores for me.  Trey went rock climbing with me and we had the best time.  Danica gave me the best present by coming home for the weekend to hang out with me.  To each of you… thank you for being you and thank you for being amazing.  You made me feel so very special. 

 

Hair Color Gone Wrong

hair-complete
oil-treatment-before-and-after

How many of you have taken the plunge to bleach your hair only to end up with an orange dried mess?  I’ve gone the bleaching route but only twice.  The first time was not a problem; the second time, not so much.  My hair is dark brown; almost black so going light for me can be very tricky.  On the plus side, my hair is very thick and course so it can usually handle a good bit of abuse.

The Dryness Issue:
Before I explain what happened with this last bleaching experience, I will say that I have an unusual distaste for tangly, dried hair. I like hair that looks and feels healthy.  So, the adventure begins.  I went to a new salon and stylist to get a mix of ombre and balayage.  At first I liked the look, but that affinity faded quickly.  The more I washed my hair the more orange, tangly and dry it got (and I never even blow dried or used heat).  I began trying everything under the sun to soften the ends (where it was bleached).  I tried special (hard core) conditioner you wash out, hot oil treatments, leave in conditioner, smoothing oils, etc.  The list goes on and on.  In utter frustration, I got 5 inches of my hair cut off because the ends were in such bad shape. Luckily, my hair was down to my hips so I had some length to spare.  The cut did not help much.  My ends were still dry straw, YUCK!  I reached out to a friend to ask if she had any ideas and she brought me to the section in Wal-Mart typically for African women and showed me a product, B&B Tropical Roots, that her daughter uses who has thick, course hair similar to mine.  I was willing to try anything and at $5 a bottle it was worth it!

Dryness Solution:
Here is my process. I used the B&B Tropical Roots as a hot oil treatment by putting the entire bottle in a cup of nearly boiling water and heated it up for about 15 minutes.  Once heated, I worked the oil into my dry hair soaking it completely (only on the bleached parts).  I then clipped my hair on top of my head and put a shower cap on so that I didn’t drip any oil on my clothes and let it sit for 45 minutes.  After that, I simply shampooed and conditioned.  The before and after picture above shows the drastic difference.  I couldn’t believe it.  It worked!

*Only use Tropical Roots oil if you have very thick and course hair.  This product will not work for fine and/or thin hair.

Orange Color Solution:
I finally found something to overcome the dryness.  Now onto the issue with the orange color.  I was faced with two options; one, bleach further to lift the orange color to a blonde or two, dye back to my natural color.  Since I was not willing to bleach and damage my hair any further, I chose to dye my hair back to my natural color by using an oil based non-ammonia box color (Garnier Nutrisse or Garnier Olia).  Once again, success! (first image above)

*If you color right after doing the oil treatment, your hair may be very greasy until you wash it. Pony tails are your friend!

After much fretting, the problem was solved.  Never, never, never again will I bleach or lighten my hair.  I like my healthy, silky, smooth and manageable hair way more than I like trying a different color.

 

Ocean Magic

board-sky-view-small ocean-selfie-small pier-water-small  stand-up-ocean-view-smallboard-in-motion-small sup-beach-view-small water-cloud-view-small

For me, paddleboading can be a purely magical experience.  This week I got to experience one of those magical moments. The water was completely flat, glassy, crystal clear and calm, the ocean was filled with beautiful sea life, the wind was calm and the moon was full.  It was perfect!  I quickly remembered just how much I love paddleboarding and how grateful I am to live in a place where I can do things like this year round.

You see, two years ago (before my mom’s accident), I was out on the water every single week without fail.  Then life flipped upside down and I just never got back into the habit.  Well, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m changing that.  Doing fun active activities makes me feel better physically and emotionally. Paddleboarding is probably at the top of that activity list for me.  It makes me feel alive! Now I’m looking to add additional activities to this list; mountain bike trail riding and indoor rock climbing.  More to come on that.  In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying more time on the ocean.

Beach Photography

I have been MIA from the blog for sometime; 3 months to be exact!  WOW, how quickly time flies.  Hopefully that will change.  Soon there will be a post about my hair, the debacle and the process to recover.  I know, don’t get too excited.  In the meantime, I wanted to share my most recent little hobby with you.

If you know me at all, then you know I’m a beach lover.  It could be said that I moved my family 1600 miles to be close to the beach.  (well, that’s at least one reason anyway) The beach brings me peace.  It is my happy place.  Ok, after much  babbling, here’s the point.  I got this awesome lens set for my Samsung phone from my brother and sister-in-law for Christmas.  The set came with a wide angle lens and a fish eye lens. My Galaxy s6 Active already takes great photos, but this lens takes it up a notch. Plus, it’s super easy to use.  I can’t stop taking photos.

Here are just a few pics I’ve taken in just the last three weeks.  If you follow me on Instagram, then this will be a repeat.  If you don’t follow me on Instagram, please do.  You can find me at @mamanellie_.

surflines surfboard-pier sunset-view-rays sunburst-dance sand-view-clear-water nell-walking-up nell-walking-up-dress bird-up-close birds-sandbar clouds-reflection cloudy-lighthouse crooked-palm lifeguard-stand miami-beach-sunset bird-flying bird-flying-wings-up