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A Bench Fit for a Princess

As I mentioned in the previous post, I needed a project that I could really get my hands busy with. With knowing that we will more than likely get stationed again in Hawaii this summer, I wanted to do a project in which the materials needed would be easier to find here on the mainland than on the island.

I decided to make a reading bench for my 8 year old daughters room, but I also wanted it to be versatile in the event that should she decide she no longer wanted it, “outgrew” it in taste, or her next room (in whatever town the Marine Corps sends us next) ends up being too small to have it, that I could repurpose it in another room.

 After perusing Pinterest, while watching my DVR’d shows for a few weeks, I found a few ideas that came together to make my vision a reality. The main material: a used twin size head board and foot board!

 Coastal North Carolina has no shortage of thrift stores and antique shops. The scouting of these venue’s seemed endless, as I was looking for a particular style of head board/foot board. I didn’t want anything “blocky”, nothing too detailed.  I wanted simple but with character. Nothing seemed to stick out, until I stopped looking.  Like they say about romance… you’ll find it when you’re least expecting it! And that’s exactly what happened! I was in an antique store killing time before an appointment and there it was. Sitting in the back, unassembled, stacked against each other, leaning on a lone wall, all by itself.  I swear there was a lit arrow pointing down at it from a cartoon cloud in the air! AND it was within my budget, priced perfectly. $35!

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Just the right look for what I wanted!

 

I loaded it up,  brought it home, and stared at for another week. Going over the blueprint I had in my mind and making any adjustments to it. With my design planned, it was time to get the project put into motion. Thus starts the fun!

 First the foot board was cut perfectly down the center. These two pieces would be the “arms”, and would be mounted to the head board.

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Once they were cut, I started to “rough” the surface up with a medium grade sandpaper. This removed the thin layer of lacquer that was on top of the stain. I had intended on just roughing it up enough to have good cohesion with the paint.  Due to the lacquer being sanded off, it left the stain underneath looking “crackled”. If I had painted over it, eventually the paint when dried, would look the same way. Sooo…I had to completely strip it.

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Elbow Grease!!! And a LOT of hand stripping when it came to the nooks and crannies of the posts!

 

I then attached the sides with two heavy 3 heavy duty screws, built in an extra side board so the seat could be raised higher, cut a few pieces of wood into planks for the seat, added support “scabs” around the base of the seat, used a nail gun to attach the planks, and voila’. The frame was done.

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My neighbor (with the heavy power tools and various saws) and I had set up shop in my garage. We had to work mostly in the driveway while I sanded and he sawed, due to the sawdust and ventilation.  The constructing of this bench took almost a week, only because we worked 2 or 3 hours a day on it, and it was always COLD outside! 30 degrees for the high, and winds coming off the river that dropped the wind chill. Some days I sanded so much that it wore the fingertips right off my gloves, and other days it was so cold that when I came in and showered, my exposed skin burnt in the heat of the water.

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Getting ready for more sanding!

 

Once the frame was completed, I brought it into the warmth of my breakfast nook for the painting and the making of the seat cushion.

 

I didn’t think about it when I bought the paint, but I but flat paint, and it was very dull once dried and kind of rough feeling. I applied two coats of polyurethane, high gloss, and what a difference it made!

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Final stage: I used a piece of foam poster board for the base of the cushion and wrapped a 4 inch thick piece of foam around it, then wrapped my chosen fabric around it, securing with a staple gun.

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Not even 3 inches of ice on the road and snow would keep me from completing this project!

 

Add a little fringe to the bottom, and a pillow insert and choice of pillow cover and we are … DONE!

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LOVE the turn out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My daughter loves the bench! It’s sitting in her room against her windows, where she sits and looks over the rooftops at the river across the street.

 If she loses interest in having it in her room, I can always reupholster the seat or just remove it, and put it in the guest room, my room, or in our foyer or entry!

 I had a lot of fun doing this project and wish you the best of luck if you decide to do one of your own! If you make one, please share a picture with me! I’d love to see it!

The Loss of My Father…and a continued journey with grief.

On October the 9th, I lost my father, my friend… from his 5 month long fight with Stage 4 asbestos related lung cancer.  I went home to upstate New York to visit him on Oct 5th for the weekend. He seemed in great spirits. He was asking for Pepsi and coffee, things he loved before he got sick, and hadn’t had the taste for them during his battle with cancer. I spent the days, sitting on his bed, holding his hand, having wonderful conversations. I left on Oct 8th, and when I called to check on him that following day on Wednesday, Oct 9th I learned he had taken a rapid turn for the worse. He was unable to talk, but could open his eyes and know when people were present.  Hospice was called and we were told he wouldn’t make it through that night. My stepmother put the phone to his ear, and I told him how much I loved him, how I had never taken a moment for granted with him.  How I learned so much from him, and how I cherished the days I had just spent with him. And I told him if he was ready to go, it was okay. At roughly 11:30pm that night, I was awoken by a call from home, saying that he had passed with my stepmother, his brother and SIL by his side at 11:18pm.

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The road in front of my Dads house…. on Scotch Mountain in upstate NY. While he was sleeping, I took a walk…the day before this pic was taken, the sun was out in all it’s glory, and the leaves shown like gold in it’s rays. This was my fathers paradise… and where he wanted to pass at. So many memories of him and I walking this road together….

The next morning, I remember it was cold  and raining.  I opened the garage door and sat in one of my beach chairs, watching the rain fall, the last of the leaves of Fall dropping from the trees …and I cried. All day. In that chair. Watching the rain.

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When my father was admitted to the hospital in June, he just wanted to go home…sit in his chair on the porch…be with his wife, and see his dog. For as long as I can remember, he’s always had a wingback chair in the corner of the porch. We would sit out there together, over a Budweiser in a can, and marvel at the view across the valley, watching the birds, talking about life. On that last visit home, I sat in his chair… and cried at night…knowing that he was becoming too weak to probably ever sit there again. Little did I know how soon “never” came. In my mind, this is where I’ll always see him.

Three days after he passed, the tears stopped. I still felt like I needed to have a good fit of crying, so I hopped a ferry and drove to a remote area outside Oriental, NC. I sat on the water, with a can of Budweiser (my dads favorite), and in my own way, shared it with him through thought. I tried to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. I tried as hard as I could… and nothing. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t cry.

That same week, I hopped in the car to drive to a gas station at the front of our neighborhood-not more than 2 miles down the road.  I realized I had long passed the gas station, traveled across a dangerous intersection with no red light and was about 4 miles away from where I was headed. I had no recollection of how I arrived there. With a blink, it was as though I snapped back to the present, wondering how I had gotten where I was.

Among other experiences during October, I had realized I was in shock. When I would talk about the passing of my father, I found myself continually saying “I just don’t understand. I don’t understand how I left him in one state, and the next day he passed?” I just kept saying that over and over, and over again.

Starting at the end of October and through the New Year marks my families busiest time of the year. We’re attending holiday functions at my daughters school, various social functions through my husbands’ unit and command, and of course, it was peak shopping season for my Origami Owl customers. Needless to say, I had a lot to keep me distracted and busy through the holidays.

However, two days after Christmas, I felt an overwhelming sadness that I hadn’t yet experienced. It was a longing to talk to my father, to see him one more time. It was a sadness of the reality that he was gone. My father…my friend…a man I adored and looked up to. No more phone calls talking about the weather in detail, the behavior of the birds in our yards, advice and opinions on DIY projects, listening to his projects in the yard and around the house, talking about politics. And hearing him say “Hi baby!”. The man I thought was tougher than nails and larger than life, was gone. And the tears came and still do, without rhyme or reason, and without effort.

So started a new stage of grief.

I went back to my roots, and started looking for a project that I could start. It would need to be one that would be labor intensive. Something I could sink my thoughts into. A way that I could process my thoughts, and through working with my hands, feel closer to my father.

I started scouring through Pinterest and looking for the perfect project. And I found it…. See the next blog entry.

I can’t believe it’s only been 4 months since he’s passed.  That cherished weekend I had with him, seems like last weekend. I can still hear his voice and his laughter in my mind. I can feel his kisses on my cheek.

When I was in that stage of shock for two months…I couldn’t find a question as to why he passed so quickly and unexpectedly. It gnawed at me, and there was no one that could answer it for me.

I’ve come to my own reasoning.  He was tired. He wasn’t the man he once was in able body. He was miserable not being able to go outside and work in the yard or on his projects. He wasn’t “living” the way he wanted to, and I think he had willed himself that he was ready to go. However, he waited for me. I knew that the time I had with my dad was a gift, but I realize that it was a final gift given to me by my father. He waited for me to get there, and he used his last bit of will to make it through that weekend, to laugh and share stories. To joke with one another. To enjoy a few small things for the last time. To spend time with me. To also say in his own way, “Good bye” to me.

For that, I’m so very humbled and grateful.

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Dad.. in his young and wild Sailor days. On R&R during Vietnam, playing horseshoes with a close friend. Larger than life….

Sometimes when I miss him and the weather is cooperative, I grab my rod and reel and head to the river to soak in nature. It’s not about catching fish, it’s watching the rays of sun bounce off the water surface.  Sharing the strand of beach on the river with white egrets.  Finding sharks teeth in the sand. Feeling the breeze in my hair, the warmth of the sun on my face. Sharing the beauty of nature…another thing my father and I had in common and shared with each other.

Other times, I break out a piece of sandpaper and start hand sanding spindles and nooks and crannies of old furniture, watching it transform from something neglected into a transformed beauty.  And with each movement of my fingers, I can feel my dad there with me.

I know that grief has several stages. Not all stages happen in order, and nor are those stages brief.  It’s 4 months later, and I just started crying with a broken heart within the past month. Each day, I wake up not knowing what the day will hold. Whether I’ll cry at the sight of his shirt hanging on the back of my favorite wingbacked chair, or if I’ll feel numb, lost, confused, lonely, angry, or sad. But when these feelings come, I put them into something produc

Though he’s gone from this earth in physical body, he’s always a thought away. He’s in every  Henry Thoreau word that I read, in every change of the season, in every new project that I start. And he’s forever in my heart.

RIP Dad… I love you. I miss you. And I’ll see you again one day….

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

Henry David Thoreau

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Enjoying father/daughter time, having one of our lighthearted talks when he came to visit me in Hawaii, 2009.

Spreading Cheer with Origami Owl

 

 

Well, Hello!!!!

I’m April Lentkowski, and I’m a leading designer with Origami Owl, #40135. For those of you who were brought here by a search on our wonderful “world wide web”, WELCOME!  I don’t get over the moon excited with a whole lot. So for me to want to scream and dance from the mountain tops about how much I LOVE being a designer with Origami Owl, that’s REALLY saying something!

Before you read on about how OWL-some Origami Owl is… watch these videos first! If you’re not inspired and excited after watching them, there’s no need for you to read on!

The first one gives the top 10 reasons why you should become an Origami Owl designer, and all I can say is…Wow! If this video had been made and I had watched it last year at this time, I would have been signing up before the video made it to number 4!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNefLrPuVyc

This second one is from our recent featured segment on Good Morning America!! You know you’re HUGE if you hit Good Morning America, AND make it into Forbes Magazine!!!

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/teen-millionaire-bella-weems-jewelry-business-origami-owl-21409739

Forbes:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/karstenstrauss/2013/10/22/250-million-for-a-14-year-olds-big-idea-origami-owl/

And here’s one for fun!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-yX16-Zkog&list=UUowHS8C9FLYKVddJFBg-9qA&feature=c4-overview&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D0-yX16-Zkog%26feature%3Dc4-overview%26list%3DUUowHS8C9FLYKVddJFBg-9qA&app=desktop

From the day I signed last year in September, I have been on cloud nine and crazy infatuated with Origami Owl! It’s not just the products…but they are gorgeous enough to be a single reason for some ladies to join Origami Owl.

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Changing the world, one locket at a time!

 Let’s talk about our products for a minute! We’re not a “one hit wonder” company! We’re constantly offering new charms (which are hand painted!!), lockets and chains. Our customers are repeat customers. They keep coming back time after time to us. Either to swap out a silver locket for a gold one, or a plain silver for one with Swarkovski crystal. A new chain because they want a longer one to wear with winter sweaters or a shorter one to wear with adorable summer dresses, or to even layer wearing multiple chains and lockets! And of course, charms… it’s not often that a customer buys a few charms and those same charms stay in the locket forever! Our customers continue to buy charms because they want the “fun” of swapping them out and telling new stories!

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CHARMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All designed by our design team at The Nest!

AND… our products aren’t mass produced by a random company somewhere, then bought in bulk by us, and then sold to you. WE have our own designers and 4 manufacturers that we work with, submitting our designs from our design team, and made especially for us!

Origami Owl was built on Happiness! And it spreads from Bella (our  17 year old founder), through The Nest (our home office) , to our designers, and is contagious to our customers! It’s the quickest kind of viral infection that I’ve ever had or spread!  Our customer orders arrive on their doorstep in cute pink or aqua boxes with whimsical messages printed on the outside.

For example:

“Is it me you’re looking for?”

“This person has impeccable taste!” (with an arrow pointing at your name on the shipping label!)

“Today Happiness has found you!”

“Good things come to those who wait!”

And more! Who doesn’t love to open the door and see something so cheerful sitting on their doormat!?

From the impromptu dance parties and jam sessions at The Nest with Bella and the crew, to the fun and exciting webinars from our executive team weekly, and to our cheerful and bright newsletters… being a part of the company is a real HOOT!

Let’s talk money! We all know it takes money to make money, but what most people don’t understand, is that it doesn’t have to break your bank!!!!

Our kit is only $149 and comes in a beautiful box (too pretty to toss!)  with TONS of Origami Owl products and materials inside it. Everything you need to kick start your career as a Designer with us! An assortment of charms, chains, plates, dangles, tags and lockets! It also come with 25 of our catalogs, also known as Take Out Menu’s , order forms, charm holders, charm votives, charm tweezers,  Take Out Boxes and Fortune Cookies packaging, Jewelry Bar invites and a booklet on Origami Owl, covering things from the finest quality materials used in our products to information on doing Jewelry Bars and more!  You’ll also have your own exclusive replicated Origami Owl website for customers to shop directly from. For example , mine is aprilski.origamiowl.com. Go check it out! AND it gets better!  You’ll have a link to create your very own Origami Owl monthly newsletter for your customers to receive automatically each month!

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Our AMAZING kit!!!!! One Jewelry Bar and you have it paid for! You can’t buy all the goodies that come with it for even half of the retail price!

Now let’s talk about actually BEING a designer!

Origami Owl treats us VERY well! When we call customer care, the automated system says “If you’re one of our cherished designers, press one”.  ONE WORD…”Cherished”!  That’s exactly what we are and how we’re made to feel!

This month Origami Owl sent 300 of our leading designers and one guest each for an all-expense paid trip to Cabo, Mexico!!! That’s right! I said THREE HUNDRED! Not just five, or 25… but 300!


Origami Owl loves our Designers!!!!

Our commission plan is easy-peasy!

No matter how little you sell, we get paid commissions on EVERY order!

30% on all chains, lockets, and tags and 50% on all charms, plates and dangles!  And the same percentages for our discount! With no monthly minimum required! Tell me that doesn’t  rock?!

When I held my launch Jewelry Bar at my house, I had almost $700 in sales from only 7 guests. My commission was enough to reimburse me for the cost of my kit, PLUS a cushion of play money! If you have two Jewelry Bars a month, with sales of only $650 or so, that would be over $500 extra in your pocket every month! Tell me what you’d do with that?!!!

Our commissions are paid every week on Friday, and we have a SUPER cute exclusive Origami Owl Visa debit card that our commissions are paid on. It’s a regular Visa debit card, can be used anywhere Visa is excepted, and you can use it at ATM’s to withdraw cash!

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Tell ME this isn’t cute!!!!!? I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on it, even the guy at the Dunkin Donut’s drive thru loves it!

We have a back office on our website where we can order all kinds of Hoot gear…from Iphone covers and flip flops, to Camelback tumblers and travel coffee mugs, to beautiful t-shirts, hoodies and pajama pants! And oh, so much more!

As I am writing this, a husband, and friend of my husbands, who ordered from me at Christmas called.  My husband bumped into him at the department store two days before Christmas.  He was looking through the designer handbags, silently wondering which one his wife would like, and telling my husband that he was lost on Christmas ideas for her.  My husband gave him one of my Origami Owl business cards and told him to “put the purse down, and call my wife”.  That evening he came over to my house and we sat at the dining room table, with my Origami Owl inventory spread before us.  He chose one of our new link lockets and link locket bracelets and filled them with charms, minus one that I didn’t have on hand (a May boy birthstone).  We assembled it, and I tucked it into one of our fortune cookies inside one of our beautiful blue take out boxes.

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No need for gift wrapping with these cuties!

We stuck a Christmas gift tag on it and he wrote his wife’s name on it and called it a day. He was so relieved and excited! He called a few days after Christmas and reported that the bracelet was a hit and she loved it! Three days ago my husband dropped off the May birthstone that I had ordered for him and tonight he called to thank me.  He was very generous with the compliments and I couldn’t count how many times he said “Thank you” for me getting that missing charm for him. He said it “meant the world” to him.  AND he told me that his wife loves it so much that they will be ordering a few more bracelets for very special people in the very near future!

The lockets tell stories. They bring back memories. Or they celebrate new ones. Maybe they are made in honor of a loved one. Or they contain enough to be able to know a large part about a person just by looking at the charms inside.

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Well??? What is it? Share it with the world!

My Aunt has one that I created for her for Christmas. She’s a lung and colon cancer survivor. I made one with the “Survivor” plate, the white lung cancer ribbon, blue colon cancer ribbon, the “aunt” heart, and a horse for the time she spends at a local farm volunteering her help. I know it meant the world to her, just as so many other women have lockets celebrating their battles with breast and other forms of cancer. I’ve known brides to make them for each of their bridesmaids, for husbands to make them for their wives, sorority sisters for each other, special gifts for teachers, best friends, and more! Even used as proposals!

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Add a picture to the back of your locket to keep your loved one close to your heart, always!

Every person has a story to tell. Think of what you would put in yours when you’re looking at my website, and I’ll bet you pick out more charms than what will fit in a locket! That’s because our lives are made by memories and adventures, and loved ones and lost ones. Really? Could you fit everything that means your life, into one locket? Nooo! Aside from our quality of jewelry and the way that we cherish our customers, it’s what keeps them coming back to us…to add more charms to tell another story with the world!

If you’re still reading this… you’re ready to sign with my team!You’ll have unlimited means of support and encouragement through our back office full of information and training, the numerous helpful Facebook groups of wonderful Owl sisters across the world, our weekly webinars, the knowledgeable Nest, and of course, ME!

Simply go to aprilski.origamiowl.com and click on the “Join” tab and in the matter of minutes, you’ll be an official Origami Owl Designer!

Head on over to my Facebook fan page to check out a few of the million examples of our Living Lockets! www.facebook.com/OrigamiOwlAprilSki

Still have questions? Feel free to email me at o2owlz@gmail.com

Trust me… you’ll wish you had started this earlier!

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Life with Origami Owl is a BEACH!

The Longest Wait…for “The Longest Ride”

Yesterday my daughter, Georgia, and I went to the release and book signing of Nicholas Spark’s newest novel “The Longest Ride” at the Target, here in New Bern.  One of the many great things about this area is that this town we call home, is also shared with Nicholas Sparks. This means every time he has a new release of a novel he launches it that day with a book signing here in New Bern before hitting the road to the rest of the country!

nicholas sparks

I have always attended past book signings of his alone. It just never worked out where a friend could go with me, and Georgia was always in school so she couldn’t go with me either. Now that she is graduated from high school, I asked if she’d like to go with me. I mean, she loves all of his movies and just this past year started reading his novels.  I often find her going to my built in bookshelves in my den, and browsing my Nicholas Sparks collection on its own designated shelf. When she’s done reading one of his books, we will talk about the plot and the ending and what we liked about the characters. So I thought she’d love to go with me yesterday. When I asked her on Monday night, she wasn’t as excited as what I had thought she would be, and replied casually “Yea, sure. I’ll go with you.”

The book signing was earlier than his previous ones and for the first time in New Bern, at the Target rather than the local mall as in other years. As soon as we got my youngest, Katie, dressed and beautified for school pictures and on the school bus, we headed out the door. The signing started at 8am and we arrived at shortly after 8:30am. The line was already wrapped around the side of the building, around the entire length of the back and starting to go around the other side of the store.

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The line from once we got to the front of the store, which was 4.5 hours after we first arrived. The line goes around the side, the entire length of the back of the store, and around the other side!

Georgia was in complete disbelief and awe at the turn out, despite that I had told her about the lines every time I’d attended the prior book signings of previous years. Still no excitement from her, just happy to be along for the ride I guess!

The time that we stood in line was 6.5 hours!

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Thank God there was a Starbucks in the Target! Loved the chalk sign hanging up!!! Without Pumpkin Pie Latte’s and Turtle Frappe’s at my disposal all morning, I don’t know how I would have managed to gotten by! Thanks STARBUCKS!

During those hours, we got a chance to really get to know those women who were in line directly in front and behind us. In 6.5 hours of being right next to the same people, you can learn a lot of stuff about someone! I had worn two of my Origami Owl lockets and was impressed at the interest that wearing them was generated! Thankfully I had a handful of my new, beautiful business cards and a few take out menu’s (what we call our catalogs) with me!

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My Living Locket by Origami Owl I made in honor of the special day, taken against the actual book. 2 heart charms to represent the two love stories in the book, a “Love to Read” charm for obviously the book, an infinity charm to represent never ending love, a horse for the horse in the book which is named “Horse” (really, and it’s a true horse owned by his brother-in-law!) and a dog paw print charm to represent the dog in the book, also named “Dog” LOL!

 

Once we were able to get in the store, we bought our books at the customer service area and then were ushered to another line which wrapped the inside of the Target store.

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FINALLY inside the store! After 4 hours of waiting outside! So worth it though! As always! And OF COURSE! Rocking my Origami Owl lockets!

Not only were we going to be able to get a signed copy and have a few minutes with Nicholas Sparks, but the books on hand yesterday had a bonus! They included a DVD with behind the scenes look at “The Longest Ride” filmed on location at Black Mountain in NC with Nicholas Sparks!

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Just watched this morning, as I was too exhausted last night! Love the narrative by Nicholas Sparks. He’s always so happy and genuine! Very, VERY interesting info on a different part of the state other than the coast that his books are usually set in! This time, the mountains!

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WOOT! Books in hand!!!! One for me, one for Georgia, and one for our daughter, Bri!

As we’re waiting in line and time is approaching 2pm, Georgia is growing weary. She’s losing any interest she had in being there, and says with disappointment that she won’t be able to make it to Green Springs with her friends in time for an afternoon of fun and swimming. Green Springs is a local hang out here on the banks of the Neuse River.  It’s made by a local man and has been a summer staple for the kids for several years. Consisting of several levels of diving towers and rope swings, it’s a place off the beaten path and certainly off of the tourist radar!

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Green Springs!

Georgia has been going there all summer with her friends, at least 3 times a week. She had just went as recent as this past Sunday and had plans on going yesterday. When her friend called her back and they rescheduled for today, she seemed relieved but yet defeated. It had been a long day, with HOURS of standing, for her. As we finally were in position of being less than 20 people away from our turn with Nicholas, she sat down on a low shelf and put her hoodie over her head, and rested it on her knees.  I could tell she was kind of over “it” at this point, but she still kept a happy face on.

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The Pepsi high has worn off, and she’s about two degrees from being “done” LOL!

 

The closer we inched, the faster paced things went. We were getting our camera’s ready and his assistants were taking our books and opening them for him to sign.

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Getting closer!

When it was our turn, I let Georgia go first.  As soon as she sat in the chair next to him, and before his pen even hit paper, Nick started the following conversation with her.

Nicholas Sparks: “Hey there! Didn’t we just have a conversation two days ago?!” said with surprise and cheer.

Georgia: “Um, no sir… I don’t think so.” Looking a little star struck and even more confused.

Nicholas Sparks: “Yea, YEA! We did!!!! On Sunday, at Green Springs! We were talking!” said with absolute certainty and surprise.

Georgia: a long pause, a moment of reflection…followed by eyes turning the size of saucers, a look of “OMG!”, a flushing of red through the face, and her mouth hitting the floor… and said with nervous surprise and laughter “Oh my Gosh! I didn’t recognize you! You had sunglasses on!”

Nicholas Sparks: “Yea!!! You didn’t know who I was, did you!?!” laughing and giggling even more, with pride and a little disbelief, but yet as though he had just pulled off a surprise party for someone.

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Georgia and Nicholas Sparks. Nothing but giggles from both!!!!! Look at that bright and sunny smile she has now!

 

Georgia was beside herself! I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, eyes darting between the two of them, wondering WHAT was going on?! Georgia was hanging out at Green Springs with Nicholas Sparks and she didn’t know it!!! And even more impressing was that HE recognized her and remembered their encounter! Not the other way around!

While were standing in line for those 6.5 hours, his security had briefed us through the time about if he was on a break, how many books he would sign, and had told us that unlike in the past, he would not be personalizing the signings. He would simply sign it “Nicholas Sparks”. I was okay with that, being that the last book “Safe Haven” he had signed with “April, Love Nicholas Sparks”. And when we were in line, Georgia was only coming along to keep me company, and get a book as a secondary incentive, so she didn’t mind just having his normal signature.

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Another pic to add to my others with him :-) I feel like I’m around an old friend every time I am near him!

Once they both stopped laughing like two school kids, he asked Georgia what her name was.  After I had my moment with him, and we were walking away, Georgia had a grin from ear to ear that couldn’t be wiped off, and tears of excitement in her eyes…showing me her book and he had signed it “Georgia, xoxo Nicholas Sparks”.

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MOM! OMG! He wrote my name in my book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
She’s very, VERY happy she ended up going with me! :-) Special memories for a lifetime!

It was a perfect day, a perfect memory for Georgia, for me, for us together as mother and daughter, and I believe for Nicholas Sparks!

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The 3 of us :-)

Once again, I have to say that I am always in awe and appreciative of his humbleness. Of how easy he is to approach, how he  makes you feel that you’ve been friends for forever, and how cheerful he is! I’ve stood in line with my children, right behind his wife Cathy and their children waiting for carnival rides at our annual Mumfests. I’ve driven by his house too many times to count.

I believe it’s this town. A place where we all have the grace of the South in our mannerisms, and our relations to one another. He could have picked any other place in the country to raise his family and call home. Yet, he picked New Bern, our small coastal town on the Neuse River. A place where he can take his kids to Green Springs and watch them swing from ropes and drop into the river below, and do the ordinary things that ordinary people do with their families. As stated back in an earlier post about him and New Bern, whenever I get star struck by him, I am always reminded that he’s just an ordinary person like the rest of us, leading an ordinary life, but with an extraordinary gift that he gives to this small town and the rest of the world!

With this being pressed, and looking at the priceless smile on my daughters face, I’m going to walk across my drive and sit on the Neuse River…enjoy the view, the beautiful Fall weather, and count my blessings for us being stationed here and all the wonderful memories this area has given  me over the years!

If you like the locket I made for the occasion yesterday, please feel free to order from my website with Origami Owl at www.aprilski.origamiowl.com, visit my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/OrigamiOwlAprilSki and check out other beautiful locket creations!

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9pm last night. EXHAUSTED…. but ready to shower and go to bed with my signed new release of “The Longest Ride” by Nicholas Sparks.

Eddie’s Cafe…a mouth watering vision

Today I was caught in the hustle and bustle with my family of 5, and sometimes, as mom’s do…we forget to eat! We get the kids breakfast, make their lunches… but we forget that we also need to eat!

At 2pm I took out a pack of frozen thin cut chicken breasts from the freezer.  At 5pm, they had yet to thaw. I started thinking of what my options were for dinner. I didn’t want any fast food…I wanted substance. Something that would stick to my ribs! I was about 30 minutes away from feeling like I was going to faint from hunger.

The first thought that came to mind was a place that I had read in an outdated June of 2012 issue of “Our State-Down Home in North Carolina” magazine two nights ago while I sat in the Urgent Care of New Bern with my 18 year old for a UTI.  Hey, it was in a stack of outdated magazines but considering that there was something aside from the usual health magazines printed by insurance companies… I didn’t complain, and it didn’t hurt that I love the magazine and read it often!

Sadly, this place I had in mind is located in Newton Grove which is a little more than an hour away from here.  I’d be willing to bet that before we even crossed the county line, my kids would be in the backseat organizing a mutiny with my husband, with the trip ending with a stop at McDonalds on our turn around home!

So…we ended up having a quick 10 minute drive down the road to Little Caesars pizza.  The natives were too restless to make a trip that far for dinner, and I too, think that tonight-my hunger would have voted against me.  So I ate horrible pizza (I’m from upstate NY and I KNOW good pizza!) while I dreamt of fried chicken, black eyed peas, and homemade banana pudding.  It was a bumper sticker moment….”I’d rather be eating at Eddies”.

Ladies and Gents, I’m speaking of Eddies Cafe, just outside of Goldsboro in a tiny little town called Newton Grove.  I’ve gone around the little circle just as I exited off of I40 several times, and apparently missed it every time.

Unfortunately I haven’t been to Eddies to testify to its reputation, but you can guarantee that it is on my “short list”.  Perhaps the following opener from the article will give you a tasty visual that will leave you hankering for it as much as I am!

“A dinner plate only holds so much food.  You know this before you look down at the plastic plate in your hands and then up at the buffet inside Eddie’s Café in Newton Grove.

Standing in the line of lunch-crowd customers, you try to figure out a solution.  You try to come up with something that’s reasonable, agreeable, and that somehow feels right.  With each step forward, you weigh your options.

You could pick up a chicken breast, but that would take up a full quarter of your plate.  And yet it’s fried chicken, and that’s almost always good. You could mound chopped barbecue on your plate and use the serving spoon to press it down and make it compact.  That way you’d have more room for the chitlins, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, and candied yams.  You could get a little bit of everything, including all five meats offered today: baby flounder, fried chicken, barbecue, pot roast, and trout.  But a sign on the buffet warns, “Take what you want but eat what you take,” and you don’t know if you can stomach it all.

The possibilities are plenty, but when it comes your turn, you work quickly to reach, grip and dip the black handled spoons.  You make your choice, and you keep moving.”  ( From Our State-Down Home in North Carolina, June 2012, by Jeffrey Turner)

A man named Eddie bought the restaurant more than 20 years ago, and it was bought 9 years ago by Ronnie and Janet Hobbs. Apparently they kept the name, as well as the top secret fried chicken recipe and the traditions like the seafood buffet on Friday and Saturday nights.

With made from scratch banana pudding, Crisco pound cake, and peach cobbler…and little bottles of apple cider vinegar and vinegar with crushed red pepper flakes for the barbecue… booths lined against windows, I’m more than ready to dive into the buffet!

One day soon, I’ll go off on a drive while Katie is at school and Cory is at work. I’ll pull into their gravel parking lot off of Weeks Circle, and I’ll eat myself happy on home cooked Southern food, and enjoy the drive back home with the sunroof open while my “Favorite List” plays on the radio.

Usually I write about places I’ve been, experiences I know of. Tonight was different because the pizza chain dinner just didn’t stick to the ribs.  If you have ever eaten at Eddie’s Café, share your experience with us!  Tide us over until I can come back and write a blog with pictures, sharing everything wonderful about it that I just knew it would be!

Eddie’s Café

502 Main Street

Newton Grove, N.C. 28366

(910)594-1144

Don’t bother looking for a website! They don’t have one. Some things should just be enjoyed, simply.

Taking Flight with Origami Owl

I believe that life is full of adventures and opportunity. You just have to be brave enough to enter an abyss of unknown.  Tip toe, wade, or dive headfirst.  However you decide to do it, just give it a try. As the old adage goes, if you don’t try, you’ll never know…will you?

Eleven months ago I started an adventure with a small business out of Savannah, Georgia that specialized in monogrammed gifts for the entire family called 2 Cutie Patooties.  Through those eleven months, I met many wonderful women, had a great success with sales and established my own team of amazing women, and made friendships that would last a lifetime.  Unfortunately, I felt that my future growth potential with the company had reached its limit.  I enjoy challenges. I enjoy continuing growth, both personal and professional. After two months of deep soul searching, I resigned from 2CP.

Loving Direct Sales and missing the interaction with new people and sharing the excitement of beautiful things with women, I NEEDED to do something again.  I found this small company in Arizona called Origami Owl, founded by a 14 year old girl that had a growth of over 2,000 percent from April of 2012 to April of 2013.  The concept of the product, Living Lockets, was genus! Select a locket and chain, and fill them with your choice of hundreds of cute charms and beautiful plates, accessorized with tags and dangles, to tell your story.

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I signed in July and at the time, was on a wait list of over 17,000 women waiting to be a designer with Origami Owl. WHOA! That’s a HUGE waitlist! Origami Owl let in 2,500 new designers every Monday, then it was upped to 3,500 per week…making my wait time “fly” right by! Though my excitement could barely be contained and my patience (which I have NONE) was weary, those weeks in waiting allowed me the chance to pick up  pieces for my Jewelry Bar display, build my friends excitement, and through dozens of private Facebook groups for O2 girls-become trained and ready to hit the ground once I became official.

This past Tuesday, my number was up and I received my invite from “The Nest” (what our home office is called) and I had my WINGS!  My kit arrives this upcoming Tuesday, I have my Facebook fan page up and running, my designer ordering site is live, and orders have started flowing in! I’m ready to SOAR!

Without further ado, let me share Origami Owl with you! What it’s about, what we do, what we have, and why I love it so!

First… Meet Bella Weems!!

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Our fearless founder, Bella Weems, now 17!!!

 

When Bella was 13 she told her parents that she wanted a Jeep for her 16th birthday. Her parents told her that whatever money that she made they would match it.  She saved $350 from babysitting and used it to start having jewelry parties with her friends. Soon Bella and her parents knew she was on to something big. They rented out a kiosk in the local mall that her mother ran during the day and Bella worked on weekends and after school and within months, they had  paid for the kiosk rental, PLUS more! Needless to say, with the soaring success of Origami Owl, Bella was able to buy her Jeep… a white one she named “Alice”. She even gave an identical one away this past summer at convention!

How did the name Origami Owl come about? Bella loved origami and how each fold a person did was different, much like how customers designed their own lockets. She had origami cranes hanging from her ceiling over her bed.  And owls are known for their wisdom and once Bella and her mom put the two words together, they loved how it sounded and thus… the name Origami Owl was created.

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Origami Owl now has a large office complex office, affectionately called “The Nest” in Chandler, Arizona where Bella puts 3-4 hours in each day after school. 

Click on the link here to take a tour with Bella of “The Nest”! Her enthusiasm is catching! http://vimeo.com/origamiowl/review/69343336/7d87a57850

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A Fall peak at our new goodies! Link Lockets! Bracelets! And more new charms, beautiful new chains, and a surprise chain with two lockets! One that will float over your heart to keep the most special story closest to your heart!

 

Thinking of becoming an Origami Owl designer yet? This week we hit 40,000 designers, AND…get ready…this is HUGE.

We have NO waiting lists!!!

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Go to http://www.aprilski.origamiowl.com and enter my Mentor ID :40135

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TRUST ME!! I wish I had started a year ago!!!!!

 

All who were on a waiting list as of this week, were sent invites and received their wings!!!!

Now, knowing that! I’ll tell you why I LOVE Origami Owl!

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1-      There’s a locket and chain for everyone! With hundreds of charms, a variety of plates, dangles and tags, it’s so easy to make a custom designed locket unique to you and your story! I LOVE to hear customers individual story’s and what they hold dear to them!

2-      From Bella and the staff at The Nest, to the weekly webinars and my fellow O2 designers, there’s excitement abound!

3-      The packing of EVERYTHING just oozes happiness! From the little pink boxes delivered to our online customers to the designer kits, and let’s not forget the adorable little take out boxes and fortune cookies made from up-cycled kimono dresses…everything makes me happy. I can never get enough happiness in my day, can you?!

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Has Happiness found YOU today????

 

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4-      Commissions are 30% of all lockets, tags and chains and 50% on all charms, dangles and plates!

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We have a  new way of getting commissions that will be available to designers in a few weeks…check out this Visa card! I can’t wait to whip it out at the cash register!

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5-      Designers have their very own e-commerce website where any customer can order from anywhere! There’s also access to the your back office which has a wealth of training info and materials, all prior videos, marketing materials, business supplies, and more!

6-      The “parties” are called “Jewelry Bars” and is a fresh new spin on direct sales! Customers can try on the jewelry and play with the charms right there in  the hostesses home!

7-      CONVENTION! This year’s convention was a HUGE success with designers from all across the country “flying” into Phoenix.  With a day of training, exclusive gifts, a store to shop for more exclusive O2 gear, Fall product previews, and Owl bonding! I didn’t sign in time, but you can bet I’ll be there next summer!

8-      Contests for designers like trips to Cabo and another all-expense paid trip to see The Band Perry!

9-      Dozens of secret Facebook groups for designers. Places to mingle and make friends. Share tips and ideas. Swap and trade groups. Even several for owl related products for the owl addicts!

10-    The business materials such as our Take Out Menu’s (catalogs), order forms, and more are very affordable!!!

 

Oh and the list just goes on!

 

So what are you waiting for??  Origami Owl is so fun that it’s not “work” at all! It sells itself and now’s the perfect time to get started! Just in time for your customers to go crazy with holiday shopping!

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Simply go to my website www.aprilski.origamiowl  and enter my designer/mentor  ID  of 40135 when you’re ready to join! When you’ve completed your registration, you’ll be sent an official invite almost immediately and your kit should arrive in a week or so!  

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Your kit… Your journey… are you ready?! Say yes! It’s $149 and comes with over 30 charms, a variety of chains, 4 lockets, tags, plates, and dangles…packaging (take out boxes, bags, and fortune cookies), Take Out Menu’s (catalogs) and order forms, thank you cards, invites, Jewelry Bar planners, and a guide to success!

 

As your mentor, I’ll OWLways be here to help you and your success is my priority! I look forwards to working with you!

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ANOTHER Fall preview…..
window plates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

If you’re a customer, please feel free to shop and with every 3 charms you buy, you get one free! At checkout, don’t enter the free one, simply email me at alentkowski02@gmail.com , or leave a message for me at my Facebook Fan page www.Facebook.com/OrigamiOwlAprilSki and let me know which one you would like and I’ll order it and mail it to you!  While you’re at my Facebook fan page, don’t forget to “like” it so you can stay up to date on my specials, the company specials, give-aways, new products and MORE! Whether you are near or far, I can arrange an online live Facebook Jewelry Bar, a catalog party, or a Jewelry Bar in your home for those who are local! There’s nothing better than getting FREE bling!

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Much Ado…about a pool: The New Bern Aquatic Center

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After being stationed here in Havelock, North Carolina for the last three years and living in New Bern, I thought I’d figured out the area pretty gosh darn well. Especially when it came to activities for the kids. I knew about the Kidsville park, The Accidental Artist pottery, and Wine and Design inn New Bern, Mac Daddy’s in Cape Carteret, The Sea of Dreams playground in Morehead, the endless strand of beaches along the coast, and the registrations of all sports for the local parks and recreation, the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, and other kid friendly activities.

As far as local swimming pools, I only knew of two. Our country club pool here in the neighborhood and the pool on base. Both without any special hooplah or frills. The only advantages one had over the other was that the country club pool allowed floats and was less than a block away over the base pool that didn’t allow floats and was about 10 miles away.  If your kids are like mine, they love the water and a pool is a pool. 

I have to give my husband credit for this gem of a find tucked away off the beaten path in New Bern! Cory made this discovery while out on a play date with our daughter and our next door neighbor and his grand daughter while at the Kidsville park. Thanks baby for the observant eye!!!

Cory came home from work one day last week and took Katie to this “new” pool to check it out. When he came home from their outing, he was raving about it. It was shallow without too deep of a swimming area, how Katie passed the swim test (YAY! Awesome!!!!), the waterslide, and a fun area for the kids. His enthusiasm made me curious! I thought “I need to check this out for myself!”.  I had a play date scheduled with one of my local girlfriends in the days ahead, perfect! We changed our plans originally for the beach and decided to tag team the new pool in New Bern together.

Not a giant water park by any means, and not the ordinary swimming in pool… meet the New Bern Aquatics Center.  As soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I was impressed. The facility looked new and the grounds were well maintained.

Armed with our bags of towels, sunscreen and snacks, and the kids following behind us like baby ducks, we walked into an open air entrance where the water area was blocked by a gated door, and an attendant greeted us at a countered window. If you’re a city resident you pay one price, non-residents pay a slightly higher one. I found the prices for entry very reasonable, for both residents and non-residents.  With our wristbands firmly attached for entry, we opened the gate and stepped into a child’s summer time heaven!

For prices, hours, location, and monthly passes…visit the website at http://www.newbern-nc.org/RP/aq_pool.php

Automatically, without stepping any further, I understood why Cory came home so impressed and raving about the pool. The pool was large enough for the kids to  have just enough independence but small enough for the parents of those old enough to have that independence to feel that they are still kept under their parental watchful eyes.

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Picture taken while there was a break…that’s why it’s so calm! Every 45 minutes or so, there’s a break of about 15-20 minutes or so where everyone has to exit the pool. Great time for a little rest, adding more sunscreen, and having a nibble to re-energize :-)

On the left is an area geared for the younger crowd (from babies up to age 5) with a zero entry area, complete with swings in above the water and in the shade, a small frog with it’s outstretched tongue as a slide for the tots, a fountain area and buckets that fill with water and when full, drop onto the heads of those who forgot they were there :-) and of course, those children like mine who like to sit and wait anxiously under them for a dousing of the cold water!

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Perfect area for the little ones!

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Katie and friend, Rachel, in the dumping zone!

 

In the center of the pool is an area roped off for the water slide. The open water slide with it’s twists and turns and steady flow of water is faster than it looks! Kids who don’t meet the height requirement have to take a small swim test from one ladder to another, and are able to swim either above water, under water, or a mix through the test. Once the swim test is passed, the attendant at the water slide gives a special wrist band for water slide eligibility.  Even the older kids, the ones who are kids at heart… mom’s and dad’s (!!) enjoyed the water slide!

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A great way to beat the heat on a hot summer day!

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Here comes my water bug!!!!

 

To the right is a free swim zone, with it’s deepest being only 4.5 foot. Perfect for the parents to take a dip and for the kids who want to simply swim or play a game of Marco Polo.

There’s an abundance of seating available, including lounge chairs and wrought iron tables with  umbrellas and chairs for four carefully placed about.  We went on a weekday and it slightly busy, with only a few seating areas left open. I think they could benefit from adding extra seating space, I can’t imagine how busy it gets on the weekend. I’m having thoughts of more than enough people and not enough seating available, and the idea of sitting on the scorching hot concrete doesn’t appeal to me. It’s safe to say, weekends we will stick to the local neighborhood pool!

The pool is well staffed with professional lifeguards with watchful eyes and whistles quick to blow on those who walk faster than a leisurely pace. I was very impressed and thankful of the attendants at the water slide. They kept an orderly line, in the shade (that’s a blessing on the little one’s feet against the hot concrete) and one child was allowed to start climbing the stairs of the slide only as the one that had just shot out from the bottom had safely made it to the ladder for exit.

While you can bring your own snacks and drinks, there is a concession stand. It doesn’t carry anything to substitute for lunch, but has enough choices for small snacks. From bottled water and canned drinks to bags of chips and candy bars. There’s also a Kona Shaved Ice stand at the concessions, with over 15 flavors and three different sizes to choose from.

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Break time…means shaved ice for all!

 

Katie and her friends had a wonderful time and were nonstop on the water slide. My girlfriend and I had an equally great time having an opportunity to have the kids preoccupied while we got to catch up and have “grown up” talks!

On a star system, of 1 being the least impressed and 5 being well beyond impressed, I’d  give 4.5 stars. The reason it was less than a perfect score, is the prices of the concessions.

Canned soda’s were 1.50 each. Bottled water was 2.00. The bags of chips were those that are the quarter sized bags, and were being sold for 1.00. The Kona Ice was very reasonably priced, at 2.00 for a kids size (which was large enough even for an adult to enjoy) with two larger sizes to choose from and at moderate prices.

In all, I was very impressed and we will enjoy this newest discovery of New Bern for the rest of the summer!

I was under the impression that it was a new facility. It certainly looks like it, and I haven’t heard anything about it  prior to my husbands discovery of it last week. I was shocked to learn that it was built in 2009! One year before we moved here, four years ago!

Well done New Bern. Well done. A secret well kept!

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