Travel

Preliminary Life in Corpus Christi, Texas

We’ve been in Texas now for a month. There are a couple things I noticed immediately upon crossing the state line from Louisiana into Texas (besides the dead armadillo on the side of the road).

  1. I’ll be damned if everything didn’t suddenly feel bigger. The trucks got bigger, the land seemed to open up, my hair rose about 3 inches. It’s true that everything is bigger in Texas.everything is bigger in Texas
  2. The radio stations. I’d say about 33% became church music. 33% became country. 33% became latin music. 1% everything else.
  3. Bad drivers. When I lived in Delaware, I thought Pennsylvania drivers were the worst. When I lived in Florida, I thought, well I was wrong… Florida drivers are the worst. Now that I’m in Texas, I was wrong… Texas drivers are the worst. Danger. Danger around every corner my friend.
  4. Drive-thrus. There is literally every restaurant I’ve ever heard of and not heard of in Corpus Christi. And almost every single one has a drive thru. I guess it makes sense why it has been named the fattest city in the country.
  5. HEAT. Goodness gracious is it hot. It was only mid April when we arrived and it took us 6+ hours to unload our moving truck. Not because of how much stuff we have, but because we had to keep taking breaks to recuperate from the heat. It is hot. It is humid. And it is not even summer.

In our first month here, we’ve only done a little bit of exploring. Mostly our time has been spent settling in and adjusting to our new basecamp, but we have been able to get out a bit.

  1. Padre Island. One of the first excursions we took was a drive down to Padre Island.
    • We had lunch at Mikel May’s, which is a wonderful place literally hanging over the water. I recommend the seafood nachos. Thick, crispy freshly fried tortillas drenched in parmesan cheese, gulf shrimp, crab meat, and scallops.Lunch Date on the WaterSeafood Nachos
    • We drove down the beach, literally right on the beach. The sand is pretty packed so you don’t need 4 wheel drive to explore, especially if you stick close to the surf. During our drive we came a campsite of a group of people who were mostly nude. This was not a nude beach, but to each his own! We were definitely overdressed, so we turned around and headed back.Off the Gulf Coast in Texas
  2. Farmer’s Markets
    • I have really grown to love farmer’s markets. Being a conscious consumer and supporting local artisans and small business owners is something we should all strive to do more. I’ve been able to find two farmer’s markets in Corpus Christi. The Southside farmer’s market is on Saturdays. My first visit included maybe a dozen vendors and I picked up some homemade soap from one vendor and green beans from another. The second week was their semi-annual craft fair and they had about 40 vendors with everything from musicians, live chickens, jewelry, crafts, baked goods, and fruits and vegetables. There is another farmer’s market in downtown Corpus Christi on Wednesday evenings from 5pm-7pm. I have not been able to venture down there yet, but it is on my to-do list.
  3. Movies and Shopping
    • Corpus Christi has so much shopping! Just like they have every restaurant you could imagine, there is also every store you could ever want to spend all your money in. I haven’t done a significant amount of shopping, besides groceries-in which case, I recommend the HEB- but it’s nice to know the option is there. And believe me, ALL the options are there.
    • I love going to the movies. I’ve grown a deep affinity for popcorn, and have been known to drive 1.5 hours to attend a dine-in theater. I am not ashamed. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a dine-in theater in Corpus Christi yet, but the one theater closest to us has an IMAX and even their standard viewing rooms have these AMAZING reclining seats. It really takes the experience above and beyond.Movie Theater lounging
  4. Downtown Waterfront Strip
    • Finally three weekends into moving here I was able to convince my husband to go explore downtown with me. It was very beautiful! Spanning the entire waterfront there are white gazebos for overlooking the green water. You can spend the afternoon on a rented pedal bike, jet ski, or boat tour. Or you can even buy seafood right off the fisherman’s boat on the pier! Talk about farm to table!! I was most excited to come across the Selena memorial. This was easily the most popular point of the waterfront. Everyone was taking photos with the statue commemorating the life and loss of Selena. The memorial is beautifully crafted with a life-size statue of her entire body and a white rose bloom. There are also murials painted on the water-facing side of the pavilion. Corpus Christi also has a museum for Selena, which I will be sure to visit in the future.IMG_8389IMG_8390
    • Also located at the far end of the waterfront strip is the Art Museum of South Texas. Every first Friday of the month they offer free admission into the museum. If you love art museums this is a great way to spend a couple hours of your time. There is also a spectacular view of the bay, a wonderful cafe if you get hungry or thirsty, and a marvelous fountain with large sculptures outside. The Art Museum is not the only museum located here. There is also the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History. I have yet to visit this museum, but will certainly give a review when we do.IMG_8450Art Museum of South Texas.pngIMG_8449
  5.  Corpus Christi Bay
    • Since my husband is in the military, we are able to rent boats from the Morale,  Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) on base. There are public companies for civilians to do this as well. We rented and 18 ft boat to explore the waters surrounding Corpus Christi. What an amazing way to see the coast and wildlife! We traveled down the shore to get a different view of downtown, the base, the oil rigs out in the water, wind turbines, and Padre Island. Outstanding views!corpus christi bay
    • Part of our boat adventures included docking at Doc’s Seafood Restaurant for lunch. We pulled the boat right up to the back of the restaurant, tied ourselves to the dock, and had a scrumptious lunch before heading back out on the water. I highly recommend the Ahi Tuna Sandwich! My mother in law also said her shrimp and avocado salad was the BEST salad she’s ever had!Doc's Seafood Restaurant
    • There is so much wildlife to see as well. There are 3 dolphins that seem to hang out near the base a lot. I’ve named them Boris, Helga, and Juniper. So many different birds! Big ones, small ones, the ones with the big beaks, I clearly don’t know birds, but there are many and fun to watch the big ones dive bomb into the water with a big splash as they hunt for fish. Speaking of fish, the fish literally jump out of the water down here! It’s quite comical to see! Oh and the jellyfish– not comical to see, and I will NOT be getting into the water.

I guess we have seen and done a lot more than it feels like. And there is so much more on my list! I have my mother in law visiting, and my best friend coming at the end of May. These are perfect opportunities to do more exploring. The definites on my list include going to the USS Lexington, the Selena Museum, Texas Surf Museum, and a Hooks baseball game. My possibly/maybe list would include horseback riding on the beach, the Texas State Aquarium, and glow in the dark mini golf. These are budget dependent.

Stay tuned for more travel updates! Sometimes we get so wrapped up wanting to travel to new and faraway places, we forget to explore where we live! Take a day and be a tourist in your own town! What have you never seen where you currently reside?

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Health

Winning at Weight Loss

I DID IT!! I had family visit and I still was able to lose weight! winning at weight loss pin.png

It can be so challenging to stay on track when you have family or friends visiting you. They’re on vacation, and whenever someone is on vacation, of course a favorite thing to do is eat!

I was so worried that with my mother in law being here this week, that we would go out to eat and I would make poor choices. I was so worried that I would stress eat, because I tend to get frazzled a bit with visitors. However, I can say my eating was on point, I did most of my workouts, and I am super pumped with how my week turned out!

  1. Eating Plan
    • Typically I make my menu for the week on Sunday, I was off track a bit with my MIL visiting, so I didn’t get to do it until Monday morning, followed by my grocery shopping to make the menu successful. I plan out every single meal. This is breakfast, lunch, dinner, 2 snacks and a dessert, every day.
    • This week, I’ll share my breakfasts, they’re always the same. I alternate oatmeal with fruit, or turkey bacon and scrambled eggs 6 days a week, and pancakes on Sunday.
      • I eat the Quaker brand weight control oatmeal, slice up some strawberries/bananas, or blueberries/bananas. IMG_8490
      • I pan fry Butterball brand turkey bacon, mix up one large egg with 1/2cup egg whites and scramble. Top with some ketchup and enjoy!IMG_8437
      • For pancakes I whip up 1 cup bisquick, 1 large egg, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 1 table spoon of vanilla. I portion out 7 pancakes on a griddle and top with about 4 ghiradelli dark chocolate chips. Flip, and when they’re done I drizzle on some sugar free syrup. Sundays are for pancakes. Sundays are for Pancakes-2.png
  2. Workout Regimen
    • C25K– Have you started it yet? You really need to download this free app. I completed week 2, and I am so thrilled with how my training is coming along.
      • I haven’t experienced any of the hip pain I was getting the last time I tried to pick up running again.
      • I love how it literally takes zero thought on my end. It tells me when to run, and when to walk.
      • I never, ever, ever, thought I would run for exercise. This app really makes it so easy and borderline enjoyable…. well, at least tolerable.
    • Yoga- I alternate yoga with C25K, 30 minutes, 3x/week
      • I have a couple youtube videos I’ve found that I like:
        • Tone it Up
        • Yoga with Kassandra
    • Large Muscle Groups- In the afternoon/evening I do 20/30 min of exercises focused on different muscle groups. I have workouts I follow through YouTube and Pinterest. I’ll share those another time.
      • Tuesday: Arms
      • Wednesday: Back
      • Thursday: Abs
      • Friday: Legs
  3. Restaurant Success
    • It’s so tough to eat healthy when you go out to eat. I wrote how you can eat out, and stay on track on the post When Weight Loss and Real Life Collide. I actually took my own advice this week!
      • I made our dining out part of my eating plan, so there weren’t any surprises, scoped out the menu prior to going, and had amazingly delicious, but still healthy food while dining out. Everybody wins!
  4. Water
    • I’ve been slacking a bit with my water intake. I haven’t been drinking sodas or alcohol instead, but I haven’t been drinking as much as my body needs.
    • This week I made sure to increase my water intake and it has really helped with my appetite. For two weeks I had the biggest appetite, and I was so pissed about it. Well now it makes sense. I wasn’t drinking enough water.
    • I try to get at least 120 ounces of water in.
  5. Weight Loss Update
    • My goal for this month is 3%/6.4lbs
    • Week one: 2.4 lb loss
    • Week two: 2 lb gain
    • Week three: 3 lb lossWeight Loss Transformation.png

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Random Ramblings

Finding Identity and Purpose

My world was just rocked by Selena Gomez.

The humansofny instagram page shared a photo of her at the Met Gala and she was quoted,

“I feel like I’m just starting, but I think I’d be fine if it all went away. I get that from my mother. From the moment I started singing, she always reminded me that all of this was a privilege, and could be taken at any moment. So singing is not how I define myself. I try to keep my identity rooted in my friendships and my faith.”

This spoke volumes to me as I’ve struggled with my identity and sense of purpose so much over the last couple months. It’s gotten even more difficult the last couple weeks. I have built so much of my identity into my career and defining my success and myself off of how much I work, how much money I make, and how I am titled.

identity and purpose graphic.png

I need to change this dialogue. I am not my job title. I am not defined by how much money I make. I have a purpose and identity outside of that.

I took some time to read and reflect old blog posts, (well not that old since I have only been blogging for a few months)… I had so much passion and hope and truly connected with what writing was giving me. I need to explore that more. Because I am more.

So what defines me and my identity?

  1. Advocacy and helping others
    • At a recent interview, one of the questions they asked me was what motivates me. And honestly I thrive when I feel like the work I am doing has a purpose. I want to help others, I want to empower others. I want to leave my community, my world better than I found it.
    • It was easy to align this with my job with the Delaware Readiness Teams, and I was feeling like I needed a job that fulfilled this in the same way. I believe I will someday. But I believe I also do this through my writing. Not only here on my personal website, but also through the volunteer blogging I do for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network.
  2. Family
    • Family is not only defined by blood. I am incredibly lucky to be close with my brother, sister, my in-laws, my best friends, and my best friend’s immediate family as well. Oh and my husband. Him too.img_4122img_7189
  3. Values
    • I’ve spent the last few months really getting to know myself and confirming where I stand on issues, and my beliefs. I believe in being a good person. I believe in all people. And I hope I can be an advocate for those beliefs.
  4. Independence
    • I am a strong woman who don’t need no man.
    • Seriously though, even though I know I have people I can depend on, I take a lot of pride in knowing I can and do take care of problems myself. Everything from hanging pictures in my home, to cutting the grass, to fixing the vacuum, to absolutely anything. I firmly believe I can do just about anything.
  5. I don’t have a number 5.

How do you define yourself? If you lost one of those identifiers, would you feel lost? Without a clear and defined career, that’s exactly how I was feeling. But I’m glad I have had the opportunity to delve deeper and redefine myself. Thanks Selena Gomez. 

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Health

Weight Loss Trials and Tribulations

This week has been tougher than last week. I took the time on Sunday to meal plan, to schedule out my days, and plan out my workouts. I had everything set up to make it a successful week. Despite this planning, I have had multiple hardships try to get in my way.

Weight Loss Trials and Tribulations pin graphic.png

  1. I have had the biggest appetite all week.
  2. And then my husband asked me to make him banana bread, so I had a couple of unplanned pieces of that. (I make pretty delicious banana bread, I’ll have to share the recipe some time)
  3. I skipped a couple of my workouts. No valid reason why, other than being lazy.
  4. I had a couple of unplanned snacks. (See #1)
  5. No #5, so just 4 self-sabotaging, flagrant attacks on my weight loss endeavors.

Now even though I have had to combat all of these challenges this week, I also took some pretty awesome steps to stay on the healthy track.

  1. On Monday I started the c25k app to track and train my running again. I love, love, love this app for multiple reasons.
    • It’s only 3x a week, so I don’t get burnt out with running.
    • It tells me when to run and when to walk during my training, so it literally takes zero thought on my part.
    • I can listen to music, or chat on the phone with my brother while still using the app
  2. On Tuesday I picked up a yoga mat and two 3lb hand weights to improve my at home workouts.
  3. Even though I skipped a few workouts, I still worked out everyday, just not all of the workouts I had planned. Currently my schedule is different activities 3x a day. I knew when I made this schedule that I wouldn’t really be able to commit to such an aggressive plan, so I don’t feel terrible about missing some of these workouts. The activities are:
    • alternating running or yoga in the morning,
    • focused muscle groups in the afternoon,
    • alternating walking/bike riding in the evening.
  4. I posted a workout/food daily on my instagram. Feel free to follow me there @cjampics or click on the link to your right/bottom of this page. These posts keep me accountable. Apparently they haven’t gotten too annoying to anyone yet either. Mostly I get comments about them being a motivation for others to workout/eat healthier too!
  5. I don’t have a #5. Letting down my namesake (listfiveblog) left and right.

What does this all mean for the scale? If you recall, I was on track to lose my 3% weight loss goal for this month. Specifically I had lost 2.4 lbs in week one. This week I am .4 lbs down from my starting weight. Let’s make this next week better.

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Military

How to Send the Perfect Candio (Candidate Officer) Box

Disclaimer: This post was written in 2017 when OCS was structured differently than it is presently.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a tough 12 weeks (or more if you’re unlucky). It’s tough on the candidates who are going through the training and it’s tough on the families back  home.

There are three phases to OCS for the candidates. First is the indoctrination phase, second is the Officer Candidate phase, and third is the Candidate Officer phase. Once the service member becomes a Candidate Officer they will be granted a little more freedom. This includes enjoying some treats from home known as Candio boxes.

When my husband was going through OCS, I spent so much time stressing about what to send, how to send it, and most importantly, making his box perfect. It was a big topic of discussion in the family and friends Facebook page, as everyone wanted to show their loved ones how much they were missed, how proud they were, and hopefully grant a small break after all their hard work of training. Hopefully the following information will help ease some of your worry and explain how to send the perfect candio box to your service member.

Pin the images for quick reference guides in the future! These guides will also be helpful for deployments and future trainings. Perfect Candio Box-3.png

Candio boxes are opened on Candio Christmas, the Wednesday of week 9. They have to be opened in front of a Drill Instructor or Class Officer, so be mindful of that! **”No tobacco, alcohol, weapons, medications, gambling paraphernalia, or live animals”** You can send any size box, however the large flat rate shipping box from USPS is most popular because they are easy to decorate, a good size to send any and all items you may want to include, and are budget friendly for shipping.

How to send your box:Candio box tips and hacks.png

What to include:Perfect Candio Box-4.png My Candio Box

I spent so much time (and $$$) putting together these candio boxes for my husband. I went with a rustic Americana theme and personalized with photographs from our 6 years together, his civilian pilot training, and of course our adorable cats.

IMG_6523

I filled the box with yummy homemade cookies (packed in decorated pringles cans), jerky, chocolate, chocolate covered blueberries, nuts, popcorn, a head scratcher, magazines, a book, emergen-c, starburst, a talking pen (it says No a bunch of different ways), gum, and a special gift (a customized bobblehead of my husband in a flight suit).

Additional Examples:

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All of these amazing candio boxes were sealed and mailed out, ready to go, and arrived with plenty of time for candio Christmas. IMG_6539

Helpful links:

http://www.ocs.navy.mil/ocs.html

https://www.facebook.com/OTCNewport/

https://perrinplacecom.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/candioboxguide.pdf

I hope this was helpful for you as you prepare your special care package for your service member. OCS is a complicated time for families, but if you’re preparing that candio box, you are in the homestretch now! Just a couple more weeks and you will be traveling to Newport, RI to reunite and congratulate your soon to be commissioned Ensign! Congratulations! You all made it through! 

Be sure to read how we’re doing after OCS!! We’re now trying to survive flight school!

Flight School Survival for the Military Spouse

Or just click on the military tab at the top!

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