Friday, December 19, 2014

¡Hola Amigos!

Surprise! The Ripple is back in effect! I had started feeling like I didn't have enough exciting things going on in Jim and I's life to create a blog that even our closest friends and family would enjoy reading. But things in the Ripple family are about to get a little more interesting. 


Recently we got news that we will be going on a new adventure...one that will probably become the biggest change I've experienced in my life so far...We are moving to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba!


This was big news to us, particularly because we just moved to San Diego about 6 months ago. As my fellow military spouses, girlfriends, etc. will agree - being in the Navy means we are pretty much up for anything, anytime! We found out just a few weeks ago, so this is all still pretty new and every morning I wake up and think "OMG I'M MOVING TO CUBA!" but after a lot of research and chatting with others who have lived there, Jim and I are really excited about this move. I had and still have a million questions, as do my family and friends, so I knew trying to keep up this blog would be a great way to share our adventure and keep ya'll updated. As of right now, we are planning to leave California in late January, drive back east for one last visit with everyone, and hop on a plane in February.


I know there will be some things that will be tough about all of this, but the most important things are taken care of- I get to go with Jim AND the dogs will be joining us too! This will be a fun way to stay connected and also have a journal-ish thing to look back on later.


A quick overview of what it's looking like life will be like there:
  • We will be living on the military base...and staying on the military base. We are not allowed to leave to any other part of Cuba. I am positive that this new Cuba news announced this week was due to the fact that the President heard that the Ripple's are headed there, but we'll see what that actually ends up meaning for us later. We will be very safe, and Jim will be the doctor for other military families that are on the base.
  • It is a Caribbean Island. The beaches are beautiful. There are tons of opportunities for diving, snorkeling, boating, kayaking, SUPing*, etc. Jim and I love the water and really can't complain too much about that.
  • We will live much more simply. No cell service, limited cable, crappy internet. A good reality check for me. It will really suck sometimes, but I'm sure it'll be a great experience. I'm mainly worried about a serious case of FOMO* after realizing that all my ongoing group texts with friends will go on without me.
  • MWR (Morale, Welfare & Recreation) looks like they have a great set-up there with a lot of things to do going on all the time. One of the most common things I've seen in my research is that if you are bored in Guantanamo Bay, it's your own fault. The families there are all in the same boat, everyone's been the new kid at some point, so they are all friendly and inviting.
  • One grocery store: the commissary. One other store: an Exchange. I'm working on being really nice so everyone wants to send me care packages of stuff I can't get there :) It's a good thing I've had years of online shopping experience. I knew it would pay off one day.
I can't wait to update on what things are like there and our move, arrival of household goods, car, and all of the other things that come along with moving. Thanks to all of my friends and family for being so supportive with this. It helps so much. I really thought some people were going to have a hard time with it and almost everyone said the same thing: "If I had to choose any friends I knew to do this-move to Cuba and be totally ok there, it would be you and Jim". I take that as a huge compliment (and hope you're all right!)




Since I know Grandmother will be reading this :)
*SUP - Stand up paddleboarding - you stand on a big board sort of similar to a surfboard and paddle around. It's fun, Jim and I have done it here.
*FOMO - Fear of missing out - a real problem with my generation







Saturday, July 27, 2013

Maycation!

Summertime is here! Ok, I know it's been here for a little bit but I wanted to back up to show some pictures of how Jim and I kicked off summer 2013! We celebrated our first anniversary May 18 and went Punta Cana, Dominican Republic as a little second annual honeymoon! Our sweet friends Natalie & Paul have been before, so they were able to recommend a wonderful all inclusive resort so I didn't have to spend the few months before reading every review for every hotel to see which one would have the best food & drinks (obviously the most important part). We stayed at the Hard Rock Punta Cana and would definitely go back again!

The week right before our vacation was Jim's Dad's wedding, so it worked out for us to drive to Georgia so the pups could stay with their grandparents and we could fly out of Atlanta. We had a great time at the wedding, although we wished we could have stayed longer!

In typical Ashley fashion, I realized that I forgot my camera once we were just too far away from the house for it to make sense to go back and get it...so iPhone pictures is was! Really Jim and I both aren't too into pictures anyway so it didn't matter too much. I'd rather enjoy myself there without posing for 100 of the same picture in front of different restaurants/pools/exotic animals anyway. Here's a few of the highlights, and I apologize for the crazy phone camera eyes in most of the pictures :)

Jim and I with nephew Luke at the wedding


View from our room - so pretty!
 
Looking like lobsters at dinner
 

Jim and the massage huts that were part of the spa- I'd like one in my backyard please!
 










Such a great vacation! And how exciting that we made it through the first year!
 


Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter!

Eeek! Worst blogger ever award goes to....Me! Sorry I dropped off the planet but things definitely picked up around here once I started working! Jim and I have been doing wonderful and I will update a little on what has been going on and hopefully stay on track with upcoming events. I had no idea so many people kept up with this blog until some sweet friends and family started asking about why I hadn't been updating, so thanks for wanting to keep up with us, ya'll and I will do my best!

Probably the biggest change has been that I found a great job and have been working pretty much full time! I took a short break after my boards and started the job search in about October of last year. It was horrible. Boring. Repetitive. A lot of work with no leads. I began with updating my resume which probably took me about 2 weeks because I was set on having THE best resume with THE most organized, easy-to-read, most correct format ever. So I read hundreds of new nurse resumes online and changed mine 84,000 times only to find that there is no easy way to list your nursing school experiences, everything you did and keep it pretty and on one page (that's one of the rules, right??)


Anyways, after some hospital researching, I applied for a few jobs, including some at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. A few weeks later, Jim and I were at lunch at a (now lucky) Mexican restaurant when I got the call. An unknown Virginia area code number during regular business hours??? YESSSS!!! I jumped up and ran outside to take the call that as I recall went a little like this:
Manager: Hi, this is so and so from CHKD, I'm calling about the position you applied for online
Me: Yes, I am VERY interested (I had applied for like 5 positions and had no idea which she was referring to)
Manager: You do realize this is a per diem position with no paid holidays and no accrued paid time off, right?
Me: YES, it sounds perfect!!!
Manager: And it is an unbenefitted position, with no guarantee of hours...
Me: YES! (Hours? who needs hours?)


So...I set up an interview and ended up getting the job! A Per Diem position in the Physicians Practice Management pool. For those non- medical - this kind of job is basically a "pool" of nurses who kind of "fill-in" wherever they are needed. Think of it kind of like a substitute teacher, but not on a day-by-day basis, more long term assignments. Because of that, they can't guarantee that you will get any certain number of hours, therefore you don't get benefits. In return there is usually a little higher hourly pay and I make my own schedule of when I am available . Because I have Jim's benefits, and like to take days off, it really is a perfect set up for me. Plus, when the time comes for me to move on to a different assignment, I will get to learn new specialties and feel out what I really want to do long-term.

Since I started at the beginning of January, I have been working (full time, by the way...I don't know what they were talking about with that "no guarantee of hours" thing) in the pediatric asthma & allergy clinic at CHKD. It probably would not have been my first choice because I've never been especially excited about wheezing kids, but I really do like it and am learning a lot! (Another perk of per diem- trying things you usually wouldn't and finding they're not so bad!)


Skipping to most recent, we had a wonderful Easter weekend! Jim and I had Easter lunch at a friend's house with some of their family and friends. It was a great time and I am thankful for the friends we have here when we can't be with our families for holidays. The Easter Bunny was good to both of us, and even the doggies got a little surprise (a stuffed monkey and lamb, which Izzy proceeded to immediately eat the face off of....)

                                       

                                                    Guess which basket is mine and which is Jim's :)


Happy Easter!
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We're Color Runners!

Last month, Jim and I took a little weekend trip to Richmond for The Color Run! The Color Run is known as "the happiest 5k on the planet" and is something I'd added to my bucket list. I like to run and who wouldn't want to be at the happiest place? (which we all know is really Disney World, but anyway...) So the idea is: all of the runners start out wearing all white clothes. At each kilometer, you run through a color zone where volunteers throw a certain color powder on you, and at the end, each runner is a little rainbow of color! I know, it doesn't sound fun to have people throw stuff at you, but it's basically a colored cornstarch, totally harmless and it is definitely fun!

I'm still not sure how I convinced Jim to join me in his white gear and end up a rainbow, but I did, and even he had a great time. The energy of all of the other runners really did make an awesome atmosphere. At the "race party" after we were finished, runners had extra packets of color and every 10 minutes or so, we would countdown to a big "color throw" where the runners released their packets, making a huge cloud of color, and further rainbowing ourselves.

We also got to spend the weekend in Richmond, try some new restaurants and go exploring. We spent a day downtown on the canal walk, learned some Civil War history, and spent some time at the park at Brown's Island. Here's a few pictures from our trip!

Before the run




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Georgia On Our Minds

Hello friends and family!
Continuing with my updates of our recent travels, last month we flew to Atlanta to visit Jim's family, most importantly our new nephew, Luke! Jim's sister Katie and her husband Tate welcomed little Luke to the family in July, so we were dying to meet him!

This was Jim's first little break since going back to work after we moved to Virginia (I know, I know -we had only been here like 2 months. But still...) so he was so happy to be able to just relax with friends and family in Georgia. We spent lots of time hanging out talking about how stinkin' cute Luke is (you'll see in a minute!) but also got to catch up with Jim's Dad & Ann Marie for a little bit.
 

Friday, we got to go to a Braves game with Mom & Steve, Katie & Tate, some of Jim's friends, and my friend Brittany & her boyfriend Danny. We had such a good time with the whole group and were so happy to be able to spend time with so many people we love!




Brittany & I at the Braves game!
                                                                   The boys

 
 

 

 Jim and I took a little solo trip to Fort Mountain State Park and were both so surprised at how beautiful the view was after just a short hike! I haven't done a whole lot of Georgia sightseeing in my day (it all started with Jim!) so it's fun to find new cool spots with him.
.




While we were in town, we also visited Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was such a quick trip from Katie & Tate's house and a very cool place to check out. We walked the bridge to the downtown area and found some great restaurants.
 Luke's first restaurant trip




And now onto the adorable new addition! James Luke is just the sweetest little boy and we had so much fun getting to know him!

(So in case you are only looking at pictures, this is our nephew, not our baby...I repeat - not Jim and I's baby!)

 
 
Uncle Jim with Luke
 
 

 Jim and I are so happy to have gotten the chance to make the trip and visit family so soon after moving. We had a wonderful time and can't wait until the next time we get to be together!
 


 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New York City

Happy Thursday! Most of August I was out of town spending time with friends and family, so I have fun pictures to share with everyone!

Two of my best friends from FSU, Allison & Jordanna have moved to New York City since graduation so I planned a trip to go visit them for Allison's birthday in August. The only good thing about friends living in different cities is getting to go visit, right?! I got in town Thursday and had so much fun exploring the city with Jordanna, Allison, and their roommate, Lindsey.


Allison and I, my first night in town!
 

Allison, Jordanna, and I were all Gamma Phi's at FSU and we have lots of sorority sisters that have moved to NYC too, so we got to have a big reunion and it was so great to catch up with everyone!



Allison, Lindsey, Lori, and I at New York's version of a Beach Bar


 
Jordanna and I 


Due to Mom's obsession with Broadway shows, we've been to New York several times, but seeing being there with "locals" is totally different and so fun! For Allison's birthday we went to a karaoke place where we rented a room to embarrass ourselves privately and had the best time letting our inner divas come out as we sang the obvious choices like Mariah Carey & Backstreet Boys.
Birthday drinks at The Jimmy



My last day in the city we went to Central Park to hang out outside and talk about how much fun we are together (ok...that's not really all we talked about. But I do love getting to be back together with them!) I am so happy to be able to stay so close with my college friends and can't wait to be able to visit them again! Except next time they are coming to the fabulous Portsmouth, Virginia ;)


In the next few days I'll write again to show off our precious new nephew, Luke, and our trip to Georgia to visit Jim's family! Xoxo 


Monday, July 30, 2012

Crop Share Saturdays

One cool thing Jim and I have been doing since we have moved to Portsmouth is join a crop share program with a local farm. It's called CSA - community supported agriculture, and there are lots of benefits for the farmer and for us, the consumer. Most CSAs are yearly, but since we moved in the middle of the season, we found a month-by-month plan to do for now.

Here's how it works: we pay monthly for a "share" and once a week, we go to the farmer's market and pick up a box of fresh, locally grown produce. It's fun to see what kinds of fruits and veggies we get, and come up with ways to cook and eat the things we may not be super familiar with. Most offer a "full share" or "half share" program, to meet the needs of different families. Jim and I are big fruit & veggie eaters, so we go with the full share, but I think it's usually recommended for families of 4+.

Our share this week, yum!
Even though I love to cook, I found myself getting the same veggies at the grocery store a lot of times, because I knew easy ways to incorporate them into recipes and dinners, but that starts to get pretty boring. Having all this produce also opens lots of opportunities to make homemade things that I would usually just buy at the store. For example, Jim doesn't like tomoatoes, and I only eat them with a few things. When we got 6 tomatoes in our box, I thought we'd never eat that many in a week. Now I've learned how to make my own tomato sauce for pasta & pizzas and have made fresh salsa (using all fresh veggies from our share!) that we both can enjoy. Because most CSAs are yearly, the farmer can count on having enough money from sales to plant, fertilize, etc. the crops for the season. It's a win-win for everyone! We now always have a stocked produce drawer and fruit bowl, so it's easy to eat healthy!

Just as an example, here is what we got in our box this week:

peaches
yellow squash
zucchini
green peppers
jalapeno peppers
some mystery yellow hot peppers (I don't know what kind they are, but they are good in the salsa!)
a canteloupe
tomatoes
cherries
red potatoes


See how many fun possibilities! If you're interested in finding a CSA in your area, here is the website we used:
Local Harvest CSA

I definitely recommend it!