The Last Week of Summer

Here we are in the last week of summer. The last summer my son will be a seven-year-old as he approaches birthday number eight in September and will be starting school next week.

I am experiencing highs and lows. I would be lying if I said I was not eager to regain my daily freedom and that I do not enjoy structure and routine the school year brings to our home. Early bedtimes, early rising, and knowing my child is in good hands and learning all the things to prepare him for life.

But I see and hear him voicing insecurity and thoughts of the unknown.

Will his teacher be a good match for his wildly curious, easily bored, silly, and vocal personality?

Will he make new friends?

All the “what if’s” and “what nots” we have all experienced as children and in adulthood.

We are preparing to attend the back-to-school bash tomorrow night where he will find out who his second grade teacher will be and meet new classmates— and reconnect with the old friends and teachers from school. An exciting time of nervous butterflies that will couple with realizing it’s not all that scary…. I am reminding myself.

He’s growing up.

He’s got this.

He’s a good kid.

He’s a smart boy.

He’s friendly and outgoing.

He’s imaginative.

He’s funny.

He’s my awesome boy.

So if you are like me and worry over your children and want to watch them succeed and have a place in the world, set your mind at ease.

You’ve got this.

But while other parents are preparing their kids already with routines and early lights out, we will be enjoying the last moments of summer.

Holding onto the fun and whimsy.

Leaving a sparkling trail of memories behind us.

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Cape Fear River Trail: Part of the East Coast Greenway

Fayetteville, NC:

While North Carolina is enjoying a dip in sultry July temps, head out to the beautiful Cape Fear River Trail in Fayetteville, NC (conveniently located near I-95) to take in some fresh air and natural scenery.

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/trails/cape-fear-river-trail

Map of CFRT

The shaded, paved trail is perfect for walking 🚶‍♀️, biking 🚴‍♀️ , and running 🏃🏻‍♀️ anytime of year— and is part of the East Coast Greenway.

https://www.greenway.org/

My son and I, along with dear friends, hit the trail this morning and had a blast.

With the exception of a couple of minor meltdowns toward the end of our hike from tired little people— the affects of video game 🎮 detox setting in.

Poor Things. 😂

Overall, the hilly trail provides lots of outdoor fun, and challenging hiking and biking.

Not to mention the lovely scenery to include a waterfall!

Dragonflies, lizards, butterflies, caterpillars, and salamanders met us at each curve in the wood’s edge.

As well as a pretty pond decorated with seasonal blooming lily pads inhabited by birds, turtles, frogs, and all types of other wildlife.

CFRT is a great place to walk your dog!

Our canine companion for the day, Major, sniffed out all the sights and scenes 🐕.

We even got to meet an officer with Fayetteville Police Department 👮 monitoring the trail to ensure the public’s safety. Thanks #FayPD ❤️!

According to the Cape Fear River Trail Website, here are some things you should know before you hit the trail:

I will note you should probably bring along bottled water 💦, a small backpack and a cell phone in case of an emergency (and/or a camera to take pictures 📸).

CFRT will be expanding into Historic Downtown Fayetteville in the near future— and connect with Linear Park. This will be an exciting update highlighting the many charming and picturesque sights and scenes in Fayetteville.

Get outside and enjoy this FREE Fayetteville treasure.

Then, treat your sweaty self to a delicious burger and milkshake at Freddy’s across from the Jordan Soccer Complex entryway to the park off Ramsey and Tree Top Drive:

Enjoy your adventure to Cape Fear River Trail!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Renaissance Day Spa Rises From Ashes

Renaissance European Day Spa Staff with Owner Natalie Spencer

Fayetteville, North Carolina-

Despite devastation from a fire which caused Renaissance European Day Spa to close its doors for seven long months, Owner Natalie Spencer continues to keep a “bounce” in her step and attitude.

I recently sat down with Natalie to talk about the reopening of her spa after a fire occurred in October 2018 which caused the successful Fayetteville, North Carolina business to close due to necessary restorations.

Renaissance European Day Spa Owner Natalie Spencer

What struck me most about Natalie was her enthusiasm and optimism, the care and genuine concern of her employees as well as her customers; not to mention, the strong partnerships with area businesses she’s built, and the gratitude in her heart for those who helped lift her up during such a difficult time in life.

Natalie’s genuine appreciation of her community here in Fayetteville is infectious.

Listen to our conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here:

https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Natalie-Spencer-Rising-from-the-Ashes-e4j81n

A Day at the Spa

I was thrilled when Natalie invited me to visit the recently reopened spa to try out some of the new as well as tried and true services the spa offers.

Natalie graciously set me up for a full day of pampering which was just what this lady needed in her life.

Thanks, Natalie. 😊

It’s not everyday I get to submerge myself in total pampering and relaxation.

My personal spa experience was fantastic and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

First, I was given the Mellow Moonchild CBD Body Nourishment (skin polish) part of the spa’s new Total Swellness services followed by a delicious steam bath, shower and massage that left my skin quenched and super soft.

Kim, the fabulous aesthetician who graced me with her healing hands, has been employed with Renaissance European Day Spa for thirteen years. She educated me on Farm Fresh products out of Texas to include the Mellow Moon Dip Body Mousse and Muscadine Moonshine Body Scrub. The smell of these products was heavenly— I was transported back to my childhood plucking grapes off my grandparents’ muscadine grapevines.

Next up was a classic Swedish Massage provided by Melissa, an extremely talented massage therapist who worked out my sore neck and shoulder muscles as well as stubborn hip and sciatic pain. The massage room was so relaxing thanks to a very comfortable massage table, soft linens, dreamy lighting and mesmerizing meditation music. I was able to easily let go of all my cares and concerns.

The hot towels placed on my tired muscles following the massage was transcendent. I will note the upper neck massage at the base of my skull cap was wonderful. I could feel the tension and stress melt away. I would recommend this massage by Melissa for anyone under a great deal of stress or anyone suffering migraine headaches.

One client I met said she’d waited seven months to receive a massage from Melissa since the spa closed last October. It was worth the wait to receive impeccable services. I have to agree with her 💯.

While enjoying the beautiful upstairs lobby area and sipping a delicious smoothie, I talked with a customer who was awaiting services named Valerie Walker. Valerie is a Fitness Instructor and Physical Trainer with Cape Fear Valley Healthplex, Minister at Rivers of Life Church, and primary caregiver for her elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. Valerie treated herself to a birthday Swedish Massage and Facial. She said she wanted to take care of herself on her birthday.

“We put all these expectations on ourselves— our bodies, and we need to treat it (our bodies) from time to time. We need to reward it for all the hard work we put it through,” Valerie expressed to me. I thought this such a poignant message and reminder for us all.

Valerie Walker, REDS Customer awaiting spa services on her birthday

Following the Swedish massage, I was treated to a new facial service offered by REDS: Hyperbaric Oxygen Facial, a noninvasive facial minus burning acids or painful injections. This was quite a unique experience. Intraceuticals developed serums that, when administered in conjunction with oxygen, visibly plump and hydrate skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The facial left me fresh faced which helped to reduce redness and some stubborn acne brought on recently due to travel and stress.

Hope Viega, Fayetteville resident and loyal customer of REDS receiving a spa pedicure

Following my facial, the lovely Jozette, nail guru at REDS, provided me some much needed toe and foot indulgence via the Happy Camper Pedicure. My heels haven’t been that “happy” in a longtime!

The Farm Fresh Peet Moss Masque and Light as Air Body Mouse and Hemp Oil Lotion left my toes twinkling. I chose a super fun blue color from the OPI collection that reminded me of the turquoise shores of The Crystal Coast on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks.

Last— but definitely not least— was time for some hair love by Haley, REDS Stylist Diva, who saved my dull locks with a fabulous shampoo and scalp massage followed by a trim and texturized cut.

The Brazilian Blowout Smoothing Serum Haley used on my hair is awesome and beats the July North Carolina humidity. This smoothing serum only available during hair service at REDS, left my hair tame and lustrous for days following my appointment.

I encourage everyone to visit Renaissance not only for stellar spa pampering, but also to support a locally owned and operated business that truly cares for the people of its community.

Beginning this August, Renaissance will begin a brand new program called REDS Gives Back. The program will support a different local charity each month by either raising monies to donate to the charity, collecting donated goods and/or through volunteerism. Clients of the spa can help as well.

Natalie expressed it was extremely important more than ever for the spa to support its community following the outpouring of support they received in the past months following the fire.

Also, military members need to take advantage of the 15% off discount on spa services in July before offers end.

The deals and kindness do not stop there… the spa is also offering some major promotions in August for teachers to help them get ready to return to school relaxed and looking fabulous!

Watch here for more information:

For more information on how to contact the spa, look here:

You can check out the list of spa services on the website here:

http://therenaissancedayspa.com/

Make your appointment today! You will definitely get your bounce back!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Vote for Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck!

I am elated my children’s book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck, is in the running for a 2019 Reader’s Choice Award!

Please consider voting.

Click on the link below and go to page 11 then simply click on the book cover to cast your vote!

GO HERE:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/2019-readers-choice-voting-page/

Or here:

https://www.opinionstage.com/belprado1/vote-for-your-favorite-children-s-book1

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Hodge Podge Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Carolina BBQ… Beach Road Pit Stop Heaven

Kenansville, North Carolina-

When traveling through historic Kenansville, North Carolina byway of NC Hwy 24 just off I-40 East make sure to make Carolina BBQ your lunch or dinner destination!

Wonderful Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Seafood Buffet

My husband and I were recently traveling through on our way to the Crystal Coast of NC, when our tummies started rumbling and we made it our mission to seek out a good ole Eastern NC barbecue spot to quench our soul food Sunday craving.

Well, I can tell you we were thrilled to happen upon this awesome restaurant.

It has all the makings of your grandparents’ Sunday dinner table— pork barbecue, fried chicken, fried shrimp and flounder, chicken and pastries, collards, lima beans, Brunswick stew, sweet tea, banana pudding, hush puppies— you get the drift.

If you are in need of comfort food, this is your spot.

Not to mention, the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and satisfied with your visit.

Ample seating in the spacious dining room

This kind fellow, Jimmy (pictured below), went out of his way to greet two unfamiliar faces and make them feel a part of the Carolina BBQ community.

He instantly connected with us and took time to learn of the new folks wandering in on a late Sunday afternoon.

He was congenial, kind and quite the conversationalist— told us stories of days long ago when he served in the US Marine Corps, his retirement from the state of North Carolina as a probation officer and his pride of his wife and daughter who are both doctors.

Southern hospitality at its finest.

Thanks, Jimmy. You made our visit even more of a delight.

If you find yourself near Kenansville, go ahead and set your GPS to direct you straight to the door of Carolina BBQ and Seafood.

Good news… there is a second location of Carolina BBQ in Wilmington, NC too!

You will be living high on the hog if you give this barbecue joint a try.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Joann Yost: Gold Star Wife, Breast Cancer Survivor, Mother, Business Woman, Guiding Light

Joann “JoJo” Yost, Perruque Boutique Founder and Owner

Take a LISTEN to our inspiring, and motivational conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Joann-JoJo-Yost-Survivor–Warrior–Inspiration-e4d7ol

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Perruque Boutique Owner and Founder, Joann “JoJo” Yost, came up with the vision of her business while sitting in a chemo chair while fighting her own battle with stage two breast cancer in 2015.

https://www.wigsfayettevillenc.com/

Photographs of JoJo’s breast cancer treatment journey

Her mission: to make Fayetteville, North Carolina and its surrounding areas feel beautiful one WIG at a time.

JoJo assisting a customer choosing a wig due to hair loss from chemotherapy

Various high quality wigs, headscarves and accessories available for sale at Perruque

Private wig fitting rooms available allow customers privacy

Not only is JoJo a breast cancer survivor, but she is also a Gold Star Spouse. 🌟

https://www.goldstarwives.org/.

Her late husband, US Army Special Forces MSG Anthony Yost, was killed in action during a deployment in Iraq in 2005. He was the love of her life and father to their son, AJ, who was a toddler when his father passed away.

United States Army Special Forces MSG Anthony Yost

Anthony and JoJo

https://www.greenberetfoundation.org/memorial/anthony-r-c-yost/ https://www.fallenheroesproject.org/united-states/anthony-ray-charles-yost/

I had the pleasure to sit down with this extraordinary woman and chat about her struggles and triumphs after surviving her husband‘s death in combat, her transition to single-parenting, then beating breast cancer which inspired her to open her own business in order to create a safe harbor for others fighting for their lives— to provide them hope and help them feel beautiful on their journey.

Take a LISTEN to our inspiring, and motivational conversation on Hodge Podge Podcast here: https://anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom/episodes/Joann-JoJo-Yost-Survivor–Warrior–Inspiration-e4d7ol

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Let’s Stroll Downtown Fayetteville, NC

I’ve been out of the stroller business for several years now as my son is approaching second grade. Before I know, he will be able to carry me around.

But today, I had the opportunity to spend some darling moments with a dear friend’s precious three month old daughter, Little Miss Aurora, and we took to downtown Fayetteville, NC to pass the time and enjoy the sights and scenery.

https://visitdowntownfayetteville.com/

If you are a mom of a small, stroller age child, look no further than our town’s downtown area for perfect paved and accessible sidewalk escapes to entertain your tot— and, provide you with a relaxing and peaceful outing outside of your home.

Downtown Fayetteville has so much to offer to include restaurants and shops as well as museums, but there are so many nooks and crannies to explore outdoors.

There is nature.

Lots of natural scenery spanning across Festival Park, Cross Creek Park and Linear Park:

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/cross-creek-linear-park

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/festival-park

Calming sounds and views of rushing creek waters are perfect to soothe a baby’s mind as well as weary parents in need of a “Calgon moment” away from daily stresses of home life.

As you can see, Aurora was quite enchanted by the sound of the falls.

The cascading fountains in Cross Creek Park are so relaxing and beguiling. You must sit a spell and take it all in.

We came across a lovely “Angel of Hope” 👼🏻 statue that comforted us and brought a smile to our faces.

Just across the bridge, we happened upon a monument honoring the city’s namesake— Marquis de Lafayette.

Sitting sentinel behind the monument are the holy and tranquil grounds of First Presbyterian Church: http://www.firstprez.com/

We decided to take a closer look at the beautiful, old brick facade of the historic church’s chapel and grounds.

Such a lovely place to spend a morning in reflection with a sweet babe, and gaze upon the allure of the house of worship.

Not to mention, the multifaceted and reformed architecture of intriguing old buildings along downtown streets.

We worked up quite an appetite from our morning adventure in the Cool Spring Downtown District and ended it on a high note with an early lunch and tea at Reyhan— Sea & Mediterranean Grill: https://www.facebook.com/Reyhan-SeaMediterranean-Grill-952922134902997/

Gorgeous restaurant setting, excellent service and absolutely delicious.

I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken Shish Wrap. There was not a morsel left on my plate to take a lovely photo of. 😍

If you are feeling cooped up and need to get out of the house with your snuggly cuties, haul out the buggies and hit the sidewalks of Downtown Fayetteville, NC!

Here is a link to all of our city’s parks and trails to help guide you: https://fcpr.us/parks-trails

Enjoy!

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.