Christmas and Home Life Updates

I keep meaning on making a post with some pictures, but that hasn’t happened! It’s been such a busy few weeks! Jon and I headed down to Jacksonville for Christmas and stayed at his parent’s house for the first time ever (for me)! His mom went all out decorating our room for Christmas and it was so nice of her! I enjoyed my niece and nephews tons over the holidays! I really think that being an aunt is the best thing ever!

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We definitely got to enjoy our first married Christmas together! It was kind of hard not to enjoy it though, since we were able to go play with the kids outside in the beautiful weather! We made it to the beach one day and went out to dinner with Jon’s sister and her husband and my adorable Batman nephew (the one all the way in the back was Batman).

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We got in Saturday night and I headed into work for 5 hours because they were offering double incentive pay and I was feeling poor after our road trip!

Sunday morning we had brunch with my mom and dad and it was so nice to see them after 11 weeks! I’ve missed going over there for Sunday dinners! And it’s always nice to have a hearty brunch too! The rest of our day was spent running errands and cooking for the week together. We even managed to cuddle up on the couch and watch Restrepo! But I was still in bed by 9:50 cause I’m getting old!

Today I worked from 7a-5p and it was insanely busy! I’m pretty stoked though because they agreed to up my PRN level at work starting in 2015, which means I will make way more an hour than I am right now (same as what I made prior to leaving for traveling)! Since I’ll be home for another 3-4 months, I was really glad to hear that they would let me (they had previously told me they wouldn’t change any levels for 6 months). Now at least when I get killed, I feel like it’s a little more worth it! And I’ll definitely be more inclined to pick up call for that 1.5x pay!

Aside from that, I’m just getting used to being home again! This time has been much easier than last time I came home! I’ve been really wanting to get back to the gym, but after 10 days in the car, my right hip was really bothering me again (after being nearly better) and the sciatica in my left hip was off the chain. I’m going to join LA Fitness again when I’m off on Wednesday and hopefully be back again this week! I guess I’ll be taking it super easy again! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll have new insurance set in January and be able to get an MRI!

Anyway, Jon just finished making me some din din, so off to eat! Have a good night!

Trip Home: San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, Death Valley, Vegas, Oklahoma City

Back to the last of my travel updates!

After we did the Redwoods, Jon and I decided we’d spend a night in Napa Valley and then spend the next morning wine tasting! We ended up only visiting one winery, Castello di Amorosa. Jon liked their merlot a lot and I loved their La Fantasia! Hands down my favorite wine ever! They only sell wine through the winery or website though, but so worth it! I would order it and pay S&H for that!

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We headed into San Francisco after that! Come to find out, I almost disliked San Fran as much as I disliked NYC and am so glad we didn’t make a whole trip to San Fran alone (we have talked about it in the past)! It was pretty but a pain to drive around and due to how steep all the streets are, I would have no desire to walk around there either! We actually booked a hotel there for the night and ended up canceling because of how crazy the area was! Pier 39 was nice but just too crowded for me to really enjoy! I was blown away by the Golden Gate bridge though! We only saw it from the north end of the bridge, but I didn’t mind! I also convinced Jon to see the Full House houses too (we saw the original one too, which is a mile down the road from the park) and then I had the best hot chocolate of my entire life at Ghirardelli! I think it’s the whipped cream that does it!

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We ended up heading down to Maggie’s in Pacific Grove for a few nights! She is best friends with one of my good friends from nursing school and she’s on an assignment in California! She has a spare room so it worked out perfectly and we got along really well!

The next morning, Jon and I woke up to pouring rain. We had a completely lazy day other than dinner in Monterey and visiting a brewery! It was actually really nice to have a “zero” day where we did absolutely nothing exciting! I stayed up late chatting with Maggie that night about travel nursing and definitely enjoyed having some girl time with another nurse!

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Jon and I woke up early the next morning in hopes of beating the rain storm that was supposed to hit and headed down to Big Sur! The whole drive was absolutely beautiful! It makes me want to live in California, but that state is out due to their gun laws (Jon immediately rules out any state where he can’t concealed carry). We both could sit and watch waves forever (and did watch them for a long time at a lot of these stops)! They’re just so big on the west coast and the beaches are so much better than the east coast beaches!

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(We FINALLY dug the tripod out of the trunk!)

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(One of the few waterfalls that flows into the ocean in the US.)

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(Bixby Bridge. Also one of the most photographed bridges in the US.)

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After our Big Sur experiences, we started along the 17 Mile Drive that goes right up by Maggie’s house! Unfortunately, it started raining less than halfway into it, but we did get to see this beach! I assume it’s Pebble Beach, even though Jon tried to convince me that Pebble Beach is just the name of the golf course.

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The next day we decided to explore Carmel and Monterey early in the morning before making the drive over to a small town outside of Death Valley! We were in love with the beach area in Carmel and all the rich wives were out with their billions of dogs! I could seriously live that life. I don’t even have to be a rich wife! I can be a poor wife and I’d be happy to wake up to the beaches all the time!

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(This one is Monterey.)

After an afternoon of driving and a night in a ghetto hotel, we woke up for the longest day of our trip: Death Valley and Vegas. Death Valley was gorgeous but I would really not recommend it in any of the hotter months! My poor Civic was struggling with all of the elevation changes! The park was way more mountainous that I’d have ever expected but I am so glad we made it there!

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(Sand dunes. Also, I woke up and my hair looked like that. Why can’t that happen every day?!)

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(The area where they used to do borax mining.)

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(Salt flats.)

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(Natural arch.)

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(Artist’s Palette.)

After Death Valley, the sun set and we headed out to Vegas! Off season rates in Vegas are awesome and the rooms and spectacular! Go! It was definitely fun to go there, but we walked around from 7-1am and then got a whopping 3 hours of sleep before having to wake up for a full day of driving! The Bellagio fountain was probably my favorite part, followed by the New York area.

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The next day was spent driving! We had an 18 hour day (including two stops for sit down meals) and got into Oklahoma City around 1am! The next day, we met up with Cari, Jon’s coworker and my best buddy/gym buddy from Iraq! We had brunch at Kitchen No 324 (SO GOOD) and then went to an osteology museum. The highlight for me was the Oklahoma City National Memorial from the OKC bombing. If you ever go, definitely go to the museum. It was incredibly well done. Jon and I hit up a brewery while Cari was with her son and then all met up for dinner and a walk around the canal!

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The last day was another full day driving home! Sorry for the super long post, but I just wanted to get all the updates done and move on with my regularly scheduled blog posts (kidding- none are scheduled).

1st Day Home

I am SO happy to finally be home! We had an extremely busy few days of traveling along with no wifi at some of our hotels, so I’ll update you all on the travel happenings later on! Our trip was an absolute blast though and I’m so grateful Jon was able to come out to make the drive home with me!

We got in around 7:45 last night and immediately started unpacking and doing laundry. (Unpacking is way more of a pain after 11 weeks away.) I ran out for a quick trip to Whole Foods so that I wouldn’t have to go first thing in the morning. We had nothing but a few slices of colby jack cheese in our fridge and about $30 worth of old deli meat!

I fell asleep next to Jon and Tom cuddling and a full heart!

I woke up a bit later than I had hoped today but it was so nice to lay in bed with my cats! I continued to unpack and ate breakfast before being called into work for a little less than 3 hours!

It was great to see my work friends again and I was really glad to only suffer through 3 hours! It’s always a learning curve when I come back, especially cause it’s been 6 full months since I’ve really worked there much!

Jon was off early today so we struggled through Christmas shopping for 7 kids! I don’t know the difference between Anna and Elsa. I have no idea what an Olaf is. I don’t know who Jake is. There were way too many kids at Toys R Us (why do parents take their kids?)! We spent so long there deciding on whether or not we could get an Easy Bake Oven for a 3 and 4 year old and of course, nobody was answering their phones to help out this childless couple!

I’m about to enjoy a very late (10pm) dinner and movie with Jon!

I have to say, I am SO beyond happy to be home with my husband and cats again! My little heart is just so full!

Portland, Cape Perpetua, Redwood National Forest

Jon made it to Portland! Finally! He got here on Wednesday night and we headed directly downtown to grab a bite to eat at Pok Pok! The food there was a bit on the pricier side ($$ on Yelp, I’d say) but it was absolutely delicious!

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After that, we hit up an old school that was turned into a hotel/bar/theater before finally making our way to the Deschutes Brewery for a quick drink before calling it a night!

Thursday we had another Portland day! We ended up getting breakfast at the Waffle Window (my favorite) and then headed down to the Pittock Mansion so Jon could get a quick view! My car was rear ended in the parking lot but thankfully, all was okay and there was no damage! Next stop was the Rogue Brewery! I wasn’t able to drink because I felt so horrible from my one beer the night before, but Jon enjoyed his samplers! We decided to just walk around, make a quick stop at Voodoo Donuts, and just do some city exploring! I had been wanting to get some pictures of the Portland sign at night, so we braved it in the insane wind until it got dark enough!

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We made it back home so that Jon could meet my roommate and her son and then I packed up all 8 weeks of belongings before I had one last sleep in Portland!

We headed out early on Friday morning!

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It ended up being a very slow day because the Oregon coast is just so amazing! You guys are getting all my iPhone pictures on here since my camera ones aren’t up yet, but it’ll do! Our first stop was in Lincoln City so Jon could see the beach house I’ve gone to a few times!

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Can I even put into words how excited I was about having a sunny day?! I guess the big storms the night before cleared the path for the sun! Unfortunately, it was overcast in Portland when we left so Jon didn’t get a view of Mt Hood, but he didn’t mind nearly as much as me!

We spent a ton of time at Cape Perpetua! I had been dying to see Thor’s Well but was amazed at the first stop we made along the cape at Devil’s Churn! We stood and watched the water crashing in for quite some time before making our next stop!

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We headed down to the Spouting Horn hike since I had read that Spouting Horn was the same as Thor’s Well. They aren’t the same but they are in a very similar location. Below is Spouting Horn, which is right at Cook’s Chasm.

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We did manage to find Thor’s Well but I wasn’t about to venture close enough with the huge waves coming in! I think the storm brought in some really harsh waves and currents to an area that already is pretty crazy, so I passed on that one! We probably spent an hour at Cape Perpetua before moving along to Heceta Head Lighthouse!

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The sun was starting to set while we were up at the lighthouse!

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And by the time we made it back down to the beach, it was perfect timing for the sun to go below the horizon!

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We ended up driving for a few hours in the dark until we got to northern California! I was sad to miss out on the coast up there but knew we’d have plenty coming up in the next few days!

We started out early this morning to make sure we had plenty of time to get in the Redwoods and still make our way down some of Hwy 1!

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I thought this tree was big, but we ended up finding much bigger trees! At first I thought they weren’t that cool, but the bigger they got, the more awesome it was! I actually really enjoyed them and recommend making your way down Avenue of the Giants if you go into the national forest.

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We spent a really long time driving through the forest and out to the ocean! But we did finally make it!

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After driving the coast for about two hours and seeing a bunch of similar but awesome views, we headed inland and down to Napa! We’re spending the night in Napa so that we can do some wineries and maybe make it to San Francisco tomorrow before going down to Monterey! We’re trying to fit Vegas in for a night and we’re spending a day in Oklahoma City with my best deployment buddy, but aside from that, no set plans!

The End of Portland!

Well, my time in Portland is almost up! I just worked 11a-11p tonight (I got off a little early) and tomorrow night, I work my last shift up here! I’m doing 7p-7a, which will be my first night shift ever, aside from when I was in Iraq!

I wish I could make an “overall” statement about Portland! I guess I would say that this assignment has overall been a pretty good one! I really loved my job here! I can’t stress that enough. I would come back to work at this hospital full time in a heartbeat. The doctors and the staff were fun! The ER is actually pretty well organized and similar to how we did things in Georgia. I felt like things were safe and effective, and honestly, I loved the slower pace! I could keep doing ER if I had a pace like that all the time! We had a max of three rooms no matter what the assignment is, which was the best thing ever! Great job. Great ER. Great people.

I only wish the weather had been better in my time here and that Jess could have come to this assignment with me! I think I would have enjoyed it so much more if either one of those had happened, but I’m still really glad that I came out here. I definitely feel like I’m growing as a nurse and even though I may not be getting all the critical care experience that I was getting in Georgia (and therefore feel a bit behind when I head back to such a busy trauma center), but I know that I’m becoming much more well rounded. I still find the differences to be so interesting, in management, patients, and just nursing stuff like the medications used.

I also have been getting so much better at IV sticks lately! Maybe better isn’t even the right word- but more confident. In general, ER nurses have to be pretty good at them. I put in anywhere from 2-10 on an average day. But I’ve had a lot of people ask me here to get a hard stick for them and go in and get it without any real problems on my first try. We had a respiratory patient the other day that I was told how hard they were to get a line and went and popped in two IVs without any difficulty, although I could see why he would have been a harder stick. I went and stuck one in this guy’s hand, and then it was pulled out in CT and the guy ended up with a central line cause nobody else could get one in (I wish I could have gone back to try again, but I was tied up). Perhaps I should just be thankful now, where the hard sticks actually still have veins, as opposed to when I get back to dialysis land in Georgia where their veins really are shit. But I used to always think, “Well, if you can’t get an IV, then I definitely can’t!” Now I know that I might actually be able to get it (and almost always do) when somebody else can’t!

I think that this assignment has made mine and Jon’s marriage much stronger. I feel like the first one tore us down a bit. I felt distanced from him and although I was still excited to be with him, I felt much more independent of him. I had a really hard time adjusting to being with him when I was back in town. I may still have some little hiccups in adjusting to being at home, but I really have grown so much more appreciative of Jon and so much more excited to spend time with him. I still wouldn’t quit traveling for good to stay at home with him (yet), but I’m excited to maybe spend a little more than 1-2 weeks with him in the next few months! It’ll be good to be by his side a little more often! We argued maybe a handful of times, and those arguments were extremely minor. When I was in Massachusetts, we had much more frequent arguments! Not even sure why, but we did! Over just about anything! I just miss him too much to not enjoy our time talking!

So that’s the end of assignment #2! Jon will be here in less than 48 hours (AHHHH!) and after 1 1/2 days in Portland, we’ll be headed down south through California for our trip home! Can’t wait! I’ll keep you guys updated with some beautiful coastlines over the next week or so!

Pittock Mansion & Portland

After tossing and turning for hours last night, I got out of bed at 11:45 so that I could spend my very last free day in Portland doing something better than laying around! I headed out the door to see the Pittock Mansion, which I’ve heard has good views of the city and was all decorated for Christmas! The mansion was built in 1914 by a couple who basically helped develop Portland as a city!

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The mansion was beautiful on the outside but no Christmas decorations! I was really expecting some Christmas lights on the outside or something! It was pretty neat though because all the snow was blowing off the trees, so it felt like it was snowing outside!

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You all know I love me some Mt Hood! Not only that, but I could see Mt St Helen’s and Mt Adam’s as well! My phone wouldn’t have captured them and I haven’t uploaded the photos yet from my camera, but this was the good one! Apparently Mt Rainier is visible on clear days as well!

The mansion was only $10, but I was really disappointed in it! The actual mansion itself was really neat, but the Christmas decorations were so gaudy! I wish I had taken one on my phone! In on of the bathrooms, they stuck two gigantic gingerbread houses that literally took up the entire bathroom so you weren’t able to see any of the original features. Strange. But I still enjoyed the afternoon! It was definitely much quicker than I had planned!

I headed into Portland to see the Ira Keller Fountain but all the water was drained for the winter! I was so bummed! I probably should have snapped a few photos of it empty, but it just looked like a bunch of cement blocks! I did buy a new scarf from H&M and get to walk around the cute streets of Portland again though!

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I ran by work to grab my daily planner (I was lost without it and so worried I’d mess up my work days) and then headed to Whole Foods for some groceries. I threw together some stuff to take to work and then headed out to the gym! I ended up doing a mile run (I made it to 6.2 with no pain!) and then walked 3/4 of a mile at an incline. I get so much more tired doing that than running right now (since I’m still watching my pace till my hip is 100%) and I’m kind of liking the different challenge. I had planned on doing some legs, but a bunch of bros were taking up my leg area so I just did a few leg presses and a few planks and moved on with my night!

Not that I’m a foodie blogger, I figured I’d snap a quick picture of my dinner tonight (that I ate at 10:30pm)! I found some pretty good peppered deli turkey at Whole Foods and got some salami for my protein. I really would have liked some cheese on that spaghetti squash and on my meats, but I thought I had a lot left so I didn’t buy any when I went grocery shopping. Come to find out, I barely even have enough for my hash browns these next few mornings! Ah well. And I had more grapes but dropped them on the floor, and since the floor here is lived on by a 2 year old, I decided to just let those ones go.

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I’m going to chill for a bit and I’m really hoping to get to sleep around 1am! I’ve been relying on Benadryl for sleep a lot more lately and I really want to try to go without it, but I just don’t do well swapping back and forth so much with the hours that I sleep! I notice that I’ve been tossing and turning a whole lot more lately than I ever used to!

Tomorrow marks one week until Jon gets here and 9 days till I leave Portland!

Yummy Recipes, Cannon Beach, Oswald West State Park, and Bye Bye IG and FB!

I’m now 3 full days back to healthier eating and I already feel so much better! I’ve actually ended up cutting coffee out for these three days as well but I don’t plan on that going on much longer! I’m already feeling an urge to get all the Dutch Bros and Peet’s in that I can before I leave Portland in less than 2 weeks!

It helps that I made the best dish ever though…

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I know the picture sucks because it was night time and it’s super dark in the house, but for real- so good. I bought a bag of frozen, cubed sweet potatoes and one of butternut squash and stuck them in the oven at 400 while I cubed 2 apples. I also had walnuts cooking on the stove in maple syrup and cinnamon on medium heat. Once the walnuts seemed like they were all glazed and yummy, I added everything to the dish and threw on some nutmeg and cinnamon to all the rest of the stuff and put it back in the oven till everything was somewhat soft. I’m pretty sure this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. And thanks to the freezer section, it was also really simple.

Pretty sure that has helped me stay sane on this no bread/sugar kick (I’m not counting maple syrup) because it’s just so delicious.

Yesterday I headed out to the coast to Oswald West State Park! It was a little snowy going through the north end of the Tillamook National Forest and the snow makes me so nervous! I did get an awesome view of Mt St Helen’s though! It’s kind of cool cause while I was getting a photo, a woman asked if it was Mt Hood or Mt St Helen’s. You really do get to know what they look like though! Mt Hood is much pointier and the summit leans to the north. Mt St Helen’s is a lot more flat!

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You can see some of the snow that was on the trees right in the front. Mt St Helen’s is gorgeous too, but just doesn’t have the same appeal as Mt Hood for me! I’m still dying to see Mt Rainier though! I bet it’s magnificent (I can’t believe I used that word, but that’s what I picture!)

The drive put me out just north of Cannon Beach, so I decided to make a quick pit stop! The rocks were just massive coming out of the water! I stayed away from them for the most part since it just looked really crowded up close, but it was still beautiful! The town of Cannon Beach was adorable too! I wish I had decided to spend the night there!

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I kept heading down to Oswald West but over the side of the road saw a little area that looked really awesome! The next few photos are from Hug Point!

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Hug Point

I almost went back to my car but decided to walk up the beach a little! So glad I did, cause I found this waterfall!

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Hug Point

I finally made it down to Oswald West and started out on the Cape Falcon hike! It seemed easy and the elevation gain was under 200 ft, but it was 5 miles round trip! I decided I didn’t want to get sucked into a 5 mile hike since I was already seeing such amazing places and my daylight was getting limited, so I walked back to the car and drove on. I came to this very short hike next, which led me to some breathtaking views! Reminded me of Australia!

Oswald West State Park

Oswald West State Park

I just sat out there and enjoyed the view for awhile. It was just absolutely amazing to see the ocean from up so high and all the rocks and whirlpools! I love the PNW! I love being near the water and love being near the mountains and I tell Jon all the time that we need to live near one or the other in the future, but you win living up here! (Except for the m’f’ing RAIN!) After my mini hike, I drove further down the coast and saw another beautiful view!

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After getting back in the car and making one more quick stop in the town of Manzanita (also cute, but not as cute as Cannon Beach), I decided to head home! I was getting nervous about the roads icing over at night even though it hadn’t rained at all, but the roads were still wet in the mountains because of the shade. Instead of heading back north to where I came from, I headed way south in hopes of roads with no snow! Good call- I made it, despite an added hour of driving time! And I got to enjoy some new views as well!

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Today I headed to the Japanese Garden in Portland. I’m sure it’s beautiful in the summer, but all the leaves were gone and it was a bit of a disappointment! The Lan Su Chinese Garden wins for my Portland gardens!

I managed to get a great upper body workout in tonight and 16 or 17 minutes of going backwards on the elliptical (gotta work that butt sometimes). My hip only bothers me rarely these days, but still am not pushing the lower body workouts! Although I can’t wait for some leg workouts that just fatigue my muscles again! These baby leg workouts will do for now though.

And for my last news, I decided last night to deactivate my Facebook temporarily! I also deleted Instagram off my phone. I’m sure both of them will come back sooner than later, but I’m going to try to keep off of them until Jon and I head back on our road trip at least. It feels strange not picking up my phone and browsing through there, but I find Facebook to be kind of boring anyway and it’s just a time filler. I do like posting what I do cause I know mine and Jon’s parents follow it so it’s fun for them to connect with me while I’m away, but I won’t be doing anything other than working over the next week anyway! It’s probably good to disconnect for a bit and I’m hoping to start filling my time more productively for a little while and break the habit of just getting on Facebook out of boredom. What did I do before my iPhone, anyway?!

This was definitely long enough! Have a good night, everybody!