MEMPHIS: Bringing Community to Fayetteville

For those of you who’ve known me since elementary, you know two things 1) I’m a musician and thespian and grew up on stage and 2) I am a passionate advocate who firmly celebrates diversity. Today, while my soldier traveled, I adventured to Haymount and enjoyed a Cape Fear Regional Theatre show. I’d heard amazing things about their performances, and “Memphis” pulled HARD on my heart strings y’all! Yes, I cried, and I was embarrassed about it as I sat between two other bloggers I highly respect. But these days, I’m not trying to hide who I am. Music and theatre are embedded in my soul and awaken something deep in my core! After the matinee show, we got to stick around for a Q & A session with the performers, and here’s what happened…

As I sat back listening to the wonderful advice the actors gave students in attendance, my heart started beating strong—I could eventually feel it through my shirt friends! I had to ask a question…but I didn’t want to…I don’t do that. I’ve never asked a question in public—I thought I’d be sick…and then my hand shot up and I about cussed at myself in public. But it was up, and now I had to ask: “What is it about what you do that stirs your soul?”

Actress, Shonica Gooden, who plays Felicia Ferrell, responded…and it was just beautiful.

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Actress, Shonica Gooden

“I would say, a spiritual connection… I am a big spiritual person and I feel like sometimes the biggest times that I feel God and can sense him is when I’m on stage. Like, then I can…that just drives me because I feel like I’m doing his will for me, exactly what he wants…what I was destined here to do. And it happens every single time…from my toes all the way to the top of my head…I just feel it…”

Sha’Air Hawkins, who is in the ensemble also added:

“I love making people laugh, I love entertaining, I love bringing smiles to the people. You feel like there’s energy inside your chest. It’s like “oh!” and people are smiling and I’m like, “oh, I did that! I did that!” Even when I’m making them cry, just feeling emotions…those feelings…that’s what I love bringing to the table.”

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Actress, Sha’Air Hawkins

In that moment, I understood why my heart was beating so fast…it wasn’t fear…it was energy, because I LOVE asking people their “why.” Maybe I need to keep at it…perhaps it’s part of my purpose? 😊

The Cape Fear Regional Theatre is doing something right in Fayetteville…they are telling stories…stories that matter. Memphis pulled me close, made me curious, made me feel, made me reflect. I sat there feeling the deeper emotions expressed by actors as they brought the history of race and segregation to life. As I looked around the audience, there was diversity. We laughed together, we gasped together, we cried together. We were in community, floating above all our individual differences, loving the same thing. Hearing the performers’ hearts also made me realize why I love the fine arts. There’s something special that happens when we speak a language we all understand…and that’s exactly what Memphis did today.IMG_5237

The play will continue through May 26th and you can buy tickets at www.cfrt.org. If you’re a fellow Ft. Bragg military spouse, grab a friend or plan a date night, get out of the house for a bit, and treat yourself! I just know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!IMG_5242

To the beat of Huey Calhoun’s rumbling character…Hockadoo y’all!

Kathy Signature

 

 

 

Fayetteville’s Dogwood Festival

Fayetteville Dogwood Festival– check!

Every army move our family creates a bucket list of things we want to do during our short time in our new city and state. This PCS move, the Dogwood Festival topped our Fayetteville, NC list and we finally crossed it off. Friends, downtown Fayetteville knows how to bring a community together! There were local artists and musicians showing off their talent, and my boys who had recently met local veteran and military spouse, Lacey Crime, got to visit her murals displayed across historic downtown. I love how her work has inspired them this week. As you can see, my oldest tried to capture the BMX riders performing tricks 😊

My youngest (aka my wild one) may have left inspired to ride someday (thanks guys)…or maybe join the 82nd Airborne Division. I know there are women out there who have little ones like mine– I see you. Today, I saw your tired eyes mirrored in mine girlfriend, but we still made fun memories with our littles, so fist bump from afar momma!

Y’all know our family loves cars and this year’s car show had plenty vintage circling Market Square. It was such a treat!

Oh and if you haven’t been out to the new baseball stadium, do! We LOVE that this city is exploding with excitement for both the new minor league Woodpecker’s team and the good ‘ol Swamp Dogs. Our boys just started T-ball so this pit stop was a BIG deal!

If you missed this year’s festival, get next year’s on your calendar now! It’s a family-friendly event, it’s entertaining, and it’s spread across our beautiful historic downtown area. Today I paused to admire some of the local architecture and murals I’d previously missed. I also learned more about the history of this great city, and visited various small businesses while having some family fun. Will certainly be back next year!

Until next time friends–ciao!

kathy

 

A Day at the Farm: Gillis Hill Farm

If any Fayetteville or Fort Bragg families are still looking for Spring Break ideas in the Cumberland area, Gillis Hill Farm in Raeford, NC was a big hit with our boys. The farm has been around since the 1700s y’all!

 

We loved exploring outdoors and found a beautiful lake on the property after strolling along a shaded walking trail.

 

There are also various farm animals kids can pet and feed. Don’t miss Bertha! Informational markers teach visitors about the farm’s history and there’s a mini-museum for everyone to learn about the types of plants and vegetables grown at the farm.

 

The rustic farm buildings and tractors also make great photo ops for any photographers in the area!

 

We had a delicious ice cream break at the ice cream shoppe before venturing down the road to Gillis Hill Road Produce for a fun U-Pick experience and have been eating strawberries since!

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Gillis Hill Farm, visit their Facebook page here, or check them out at http://www.gillishillfarm.com/

Want to grow your own veggies, buy some jam, or pick some strawberries? Visit the Gillis Hill Road Produce Market’s Facebook page here.

Happy Spring friends!

kathy

(This post is not sponsored…just a mom sharing the goods with other local families.)

 

Dogwoods are Blooming!

Friends, I’m feeling a bit like Paul Revere right now screaming “the Dogwoods are blooming” to the tone of “the British are coming”, but it’s hard to contain my excitement now that these flowers have taken over Fayetteville! I’ll keep it short, just want to share some of the beautiful Dogwood blossoms I’ve waited a year to capture. I missed them bloom last year when we were house hunting and I’ve admired their white pedals since I was a little girl.

I love the interactions that come with blogging, but the introvert in me thoroughly enjoyed solo-exploring Fayetteville while taking in the colorful scenery this past week when my soldier man traveled. The Dogwood blossom is North Carolina’s state flower and has been a great spring reminder to “bloom where you’re planted.” Wherever you are today, stretch wide and bloom big y’all!

Want to know more about Dogwood blossoms? Check out fellow military spouse blogger @StrengthforSpouses as she reviews the beautiful legend behind these glorious blooms.

Happy weekend!

kathy

 

Leclair’s General Store: A bright light in Haymount

In French, clair means bright or light. On this rainy day, Leclair’s General Store, nestled in the heart of Fayetteville’s historic Haymount district, was the little ray of light I needed. I’d previously been introduced by another local blogger, @GoFayetteville, but this trip I got to chat with store owner, Patrick Leclair, who shared part of his story with me. I love listening to others’ narratives and Patrick’s journey to Fayetteville is no exception. Having previously worked for Ralph Lauren in corporate America, Patrick tells me of his

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Patrick Leclair, Leclair’s General Store Owner

transition from the big apple to North Carolina, his heart for our military community, and his desires to be closer to family. We chatted about dreaming this business into reality as his vision developed over the last 8 years. I noticed he paused to make point of the help he received from family and friends. Patrick’s parents Paul and Mary Leclair settled in Fayetteville along with their other son, his wife, and their four children. Patrick and I relate easily with our military connection, as his brother is an Army Lieutenant Colonel and the Fort Bragg area has become “home” to both our families. We briefly talk about gardening and raising our boys in the outdoors, and Patrick proudly speaks to the efforts his mom makes to share her love for the outdoors with his son–definitely one of my Abuelita goals. I try to convince him to open shop in nearby rural Linden—and I quietly day dream about working with my husband in our own shop someday. Then I ask to sit in the back room and do what I came to do today, work.

You see, my soldier man is traveling a lot these days, and I’ve come to the realization that 1) I blog most when he is away and 2) I work more too. The blogging piece has become more than a hobby, but also an effective coping strategy when I’m managing a home on my own. This morning before working, I drove the Haymount portion of Fayetteville’s larger dogwood trail capturing flowering dogwoods and other spring blossoms I was going to blog about. Why not turn a rainy day into an flower-paparazzi adventure?

 

Fifty pics later, I remembered work had to get done, hence the Leclair’s stop. When walking in, new products immediately captured my attention, as did the sweet aroma of fresh brewed coffee. I could have worked there all day.

 

Once I settled in my work chair, warm brew in hand, The Knack’s My Sharona started playing on the turntable, and I immediately felt right at home. I’m singing and sit-dancing, and praying there is no corner camera capturing it all. The back room is stocked with books, old vinyls, and vintage finds for sale. Reminds me of Meriwether’s in Kansas and for a moment, I really miss Fort Leavenworth. I’m soon joined by a college student, as others slowly trickle in. The group is venting about a professor and ethics while I’m deep in my work-zone when my thoughts drift to my own career and the impact I have on the lives of others. I sure hope it’s positive! We go through life crossing paths with others albeit for a moment on a daily basis. Personally, the slightest positive comment or gesture makes my heart smile big. I was so thankful for that small group today—especially as one paused to draw my attention to Funky Cold Medina playing in the background—yes, you interrupted my work-mode, but I heard you friend and I internally jammed out to Tone Loc unbeknownst to others 😊. I also worked extra hard today thanks to your group’s conversation!

 

So here’s what I loved most about being in Leclair’s General Store today… for starters, Patrick wears humility on his sleeve and that alone is a win in my book. Can’t we all just be nice humans? Be a Leclair people, #bealeclair! His approach to business is what draws people to this special little store. Sure, the local art is fabulous, the artisan products are rich quality, the coffee is delicious, the vintage setting is right up my alley, and the 80’s music and eclectic ambiance are perfection, but the welcoming…the humanness is the why. The community support coupled with local partnerships and Leclair’s vision to recreate a classic market space for gatherings successfully brings people together in this amazing space. The human heart is clear and Leclair’s passion for what he does and for Fayetteville shines bright in Haymount. This is my kinda’ people! If you haven’t stopped in yet—do! Take a wine and yoga class, try a poetry night, join for a local fundraiser, or simply detour, get inspired, and say hi 😊.

You can also visit Leclair’s General Store on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Ciao for now friends!

kathy

(Not sponsored, just sharing that which inspires me and makes me feel at home wherever the military moves us.)

Making the Tar Heel State “Home”

I blinked and here we are, 10 months later and I have far too much updating, so I present the Cliffsnotes version, picking up where I left off…

Life has taken our family from Leavenworth, Kansas to the Tar-heel state…helloooo, North Carolina, home of the cardinal! The beautiful red cardinal I’ve only seen one time since our move, lol.
We haven’t stopped since our PCS and writing has sat, patiently waiting for me to catch up. Y’all, we just LOVE North Carolina!

Shortly after our move, Hurricane Florence decided to wreak havoc here and flooded our neighborhood. It was such an unexpected whirlwind of a greeting, but thankfully our home was spared and our new community became family with a quickness. Most of us have little ones and together we all bounced right into our first soccer season, which made us more than family, but also a team. This neighborhood is still too good to be true! Now we gear up for t-ball season and I’m still trying to catch my breath. Living closer to Florida has meant more visitors and trips than I could have dreamed for…and…wait for it…DISNEY!

Our year in Kansas really impacted me in such a wonderful way. With our summer military move we choose to live the rural river/farm life and are loving it.

Taking some of the adventure that Kansas sparked, we’ve explored North Carolina, tubing down the Little River and hiking the Cape Fear River, Raven Rock, and Carvers Creek trails. Self proclaimed hiker here!

We have visited several museums, but our favorites have been:

  1. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh
  2. Fascinate-U Museum for kids, and
  3. U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Downtown Fayetteville and the Haymount district are my favorite places to stroll through, rich in history, shops, and driving trails. The Visitor’s Bureau downtown is the best stop for everything-Fayetteville folks! You can’t get bored here—too much to do!


The Cape Fear Botanical Gardens took quite a beating after Florence, but we love it there too and visit often.

Living in rural America with a population of 130, our neighborhood life has felt like clips from the movies Little Rascals and The Sandlot, and I have nothing to complain about! Fort Bragg has a bad rap among many military spouses, but let the record show, it’s amazing here. Life is what you make of it friends. Kansas taught me to step out of my shell and make life awesome wherever the army takes us. Traveling and exploring our new home-towns has become one of my favorite hobbies. So far, North Carolina is teaching me the value of connecting (off social media), serving, falling (Lord knows I stumble more than I’d like to), and picking myself up…vulnerably braving it out again and again.

For local military families, Fayetteville and its surrounding areas have so much to offer! Here are some wonderful Fay pages I follow–Check them out for more local fun!

www.gofayetteville.com

www.visitfayettevillenc.com

Dare to make life fun today 😊
kathy

Goodbye Kansas!

Our time in Kansas is winding down and sadly blogging has taken a back seat during this PCS-season. I miss writing and taking pictures, but packing this house has been a top priority. Everyday there’s a new truck in our neighborhood being loaded—another family headed out—and ours will be joining the fun shortly. Last night as I tucked the boys into bed and read their bed-time story, my youngest whispered “I’m really going to miss my friends mommy.” Me too son…me too. We’ve met great people out here, and while Leavenworth is charming, the locals are beyond friendly, and there is more to do here than I could have ever imagined, what I’ll miss most is the time spent with the other military families, who will soon be dispersed across the globe.

This year here has certainly shifted my paradigm of what moving to a new place can be like. Without doubt, “bloom where you are planted” became my 2018 mantra, and as I reflect on my experience, Leavenworth forced me to step out of my comfort zone, take risks, and meet new people. Having a social tribe of other military spouses was key to thriving in this environment, and waiting for that to magically happen on its own was not an option. I’m really going to miss all the military spouses I’ve met here, but will cherish the fun memories we made!!!

When I first started this blog, the intention was to share small-town Leavenworth with the incoming CGSC spouses. Over the past five months however, it yielded opportunities for me to connect with spouses living where we are moving. It also helped me network with other women who share a heart for advocacy on behalf of military families. I was equipped with resources for military families that I had never heard of, and I found myself supporting local businesses more than ever. I’ve always loved adventure, but this experience really sprouted the courage for exploration. I won’t lie, I sort of felt like Lewis and Clark out here 😊. Allowing myself to be curious about others and this wonderful town helped me make positive meaning from this experience and memories that my family and I can take with us. Kansas, however dreaded it was a year ago, turned into a source of inspiration, and creating this blog helped me enjoy this year while doing a little growth of my own.

If you’ve thought about blogging, writing, photography, or if you have anything on your bucket list that you have yet to try…do it friends! If I’ll maintain a blog after leaving Kansas is unknown right now, but I hope the information shared about Leavenworth will be helpful to someone headed this way!

Thank you for reading and sharing your own fancy findings with me this past year!

kathy

p.s. Driving home this week, I passed some old country garages, and my eyes spotted a couple of horse rings around town that I’d previously missed. The horse rings were used to tie down a horse and park one’s carriage back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Just love all the fun facts and neat sites this little historic town has offered me!

p.s.s. Headed to Leavenworth? Check out my early blog posts HERE and HERE and any of the Leavenworth Series posts to learn more about local businesses.

 

 

 

Leavenworth Series: Queen’s Pantry Teas

A tea, or coffee, is known to military spouses as a social gathering where friendships are made and information is exchanged. I learned this at a recent spouse seminar and while I haven’t had to host one of these yet, I now know where to go to equip myself for the occasion! Queen’s Pantry Teas. Friends, this Leavenworth jewel is filled with British goods, gifts, and high-quality teas.

Last week when I had five minutes to kill, the British flags hanging across the store-front lured me in. I had the honor to sit for tea time with military spouse and co-owner, Kathy Gentzler, and hear about the store’s history. Kathy was beyond warm and friendly! Not because we share the same name, but as unannounced and rushed as I was, she still made time for me and spoke faster than an auctioneer so that I wouldn’t be late to parent pick-up.

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Kathy Gentzler, Military Spouse and Co-Owner, Queen’s Pantry Teas

This tea store was such a surprise. One of my college roommates was a barista and tea connoisseur and had the continuous aroma of fresh tea or coffee in our home. Something about walking through the shop, smelling the fragrance of the raspberry tea-of-the-day felt familiar.

The store will celebrate its 20th anniversary this coming October. Kathy and her husband, Kevin Gentzler, a retired military veteran, purchased Queen’s Pantry Teas 6 years ago after moving to Leavenworth. Their oldest daughter had been working at the shop when she learned the previous owner was going to sell. She encouraged her parents to buy and within days they had moved the shop to the new location on Delaware and opened their doors to the public. Kathy shared a bit about her homeschooling years and the joys of raising 4 children. She spoke of the challenges of PCS moves (to which I could certainly relate these days), and the couple’s continued dreams to someday open a small business together. I love family success stories like theirs. My husband and I have a list of ideas going, and I am counting the days (ok, years).

I had to ask about the British-theme. Wouldn’t you? Apparently, the previous owner’s father was in the U.S. Air Force and married her British mum, and there you have it. More fun facts… The store carries teas from the British market and a handful of German chocolate candies (for those of you missing your days overseas). They also have the largest selection of loose teas in the greater Kansas City area–about 165 to choose from y’all!!!

Queens Pantry Teas 13

I couldn’t take it all in during one visit, so I headed back this week and got to try England’s #1 pantry tea–YUM! While snapping pics, I also got to watch another boy-mom wander in and sit for tea-time with her little guy. Moms can be so compassionate, loving, and selfless. In that moment, as she made a memory with her son, I was able to capture another mom graciously rockin’ her mom-role. I left encouraged. Being a boy mom makes for some pretty wild and tiring days, but my heart is mush with my two boys and moments like that are fuel for this momma’s soul. Much like my tea-time with Kathy, these little Leavenworth finds and moments with other military spouses who have trudged the roads before me are priceless.

Need a tea pot or mugs for your next tea or coffee event? Check out their collection! Want to visit Queen’s Pantry Teas? Visit their website at http://www.qptea.com/ or like them on Facebook at Queen’s Pantry Teas.

 

Don’t miss them tomorrow, as they participate in Leavenworth’s Alive After Five’s Cinco De Mayo event downtown. Click HERE for more information.

Can’t make it this time? Join the tea shop on May 10th from 6pm-8pm for their 4th Annual, Iced Tea Extravaganza, as they release their summer tea line.

Also, if you want an interactive day with Queen’s Pantry Teas and other local merchants, join the Mother’s Day Build-A-Bouquet event on May 12th from 10am-4pm, presented by Leavenworth Main Street. 

Now go, find a friend, and have yourself a cuppa!

kathy

 

Leavenworth Series: Riverfront Community Center

This week I finally wandered around the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth, KS, learning its history and current function. If you didn’t already know, the building was a Union Pacific Train Station in the 1800’s, specifically for passengers.

The freight train stop was over at The Depot (which has amazing cinnamon rolls I might add). When you step in through the front doors of Riverfront, you’re walking up towards what used to be the station’s ticket booth. To your left you have the women’s waiting room and to the right the men’s waiting room. They kept us separated back then. Today, those rooms are used for meetings, community events, weddings, and more. Y’all might know by now that I’m curious and like to find hidden gems…and that’s exactly what I got to do!Riverfront Community Center

I’d been wondering where there was an indoor pool off-post for swimming lessons, and I found it. The center offers indoor swimming lessons from Labor Day through Memorial Day. They also have racquetball courts, basketball courts, an indoor running track, and a gym on the lower level.Riverfront Pool Riverfront Track

The venue hosts ballroom dancing, taekwondo, toddler time, yoga, dog obedience, and additional fitness classes. Community wide events include Breakfast with Santa in December, a Valentine’s Father/Daughter Dance, and a Super-Hero Mother/Son Dance in October.

During my visit, I found more murals! Having lived in Charlotte County, FL, I have an Riverfront Arch and Muralappreciation for historic murals—they are everywhere down there, and apparently here too. Friends, Riverfront is a great stop for anyone wanting to know more about local and nearby events, museums, businesses, etc. They have the latest brochures for visitors, and I’m told residents of Fort Leavenworth are also welcome to use the facilities. In my opinion, this would be a great locale for a military spouse coffee 😊 They have rooms that can accommodate up to 300 individuals, but also cozier rooms for more intimate gatherings.

Before I adventured back in time through this piece of history, I joined a really encouraging group of Stroller Strong Moms at the basketball courts for a SLAM session. I may not be able to walk tomorrow, but those ladies really motivated me and reminded me that we CAN stretch ourselves to DO the things we don’t think we’re capable of. No more excuses!

Want to know more about Leavenworth’s Riverfront Community Center? Visit them here: Riverfront Community Center

Want to join the sweaty fun with Stroller Strong Moms Leavenworth? Check them out on Facebook at Stroller Strong Moms.

If you’re not local and want to find a Stroller Strong Moms group near you, visit their main website at http://www.strollerstrongmoms.com/

It’s PCS season. In what ways are you enjoying what’s left of your time wherever you may be? How are you staying physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy to survive the wave? It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we have packing, babies, jobs, to-do’s, etc. Fellow spouses, don’t forget to take care of YOU too and have a little fun!

Happy adventuring!

kathy

 

 

Leavenworth Series: Historic Homes

Happy Monday everyone!

Over the past couple of months my 5-year-old son has been reminding me to pause and observe the beauty around me. He has a special way of finding little flowers for me everywhere we go. He’s the one to catch the sun rise or sun set while everyone else is busy, and has a way of spying greatness in the people he meets. While running errands, he’s also pointed to the stunning historic homes in the area.  Here’s a sneak peek of some we’ve discovered on our Leavenworth adventures:

If you haven’t visited the City of Leavenworth, KS web-page, it’s a great resource! They have a visitor’s page with the top things to do in town, one of which is the Historic Wayside Tours. These past few weeks my boys and I have been slowly completing both the driving and walking tours. Go check them out and download the tour map! It’s well-worth it, and a great way to learn about the history of this first little Kansas town.

Local military families, if you aren’t already tracking, the Fort Leavenworth Tour of Historic Homes event takes place on April 29th. Tickets can be purchased at The Friends of The Frontier Army Museum. Here are more historic homes I’ve found while out and about:

Below are the famous Carroll House and Harvey House:

If you know of others in the area, do share 😊

Here’s to making the best out of everywhere the military takes us!

Kathy

p.s. Where will you find beauty this week?

p.s.s. I had read Leavenworth ran a trolley tour downtown and was disappointed to learn the trolley had retired. My boys were pretty bummed out, because who wouldn’t want to ride on Daniel the Tiger’s Trolley? However, they about sprung out of their seats when we drove by this hidden find. We vote to have the Trolley Tours started again!

Trolley

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