Tuesday, April 28, 2015


I want to start this post by giving a big 23rd birthday shout out to my favorite (only) brother, Ryan. This is the first time I haven't been able to celebrate your birthday with you. I hate so badly that I wasn't able to go to the Reds game on Sunday with you, Meghan, Mamaw, Papaw, Bob, Kiki, Dad and Rose. I know you all had a great time and Bob reassured me that it was only because I was there in spirit ;). No, but seriously, I love you and hope you had a great day and can't wait to celebrate with you at the Shania Twain concert in August. I love you, bubby. 

So, our next adventure began on Thursday evening. Debra, Tina and I took off to the train station to meet the Bus2Alps group for our trip to Croatia. Christine was supposed to join us but unfortunately, she had a last minute class scheduled and had to stay back to do work. And our other girls, Megan and Christine O'Keeffe headed to Munich, Germany for Springfest. So we had to go our separate ways for a couple of days and we all missed each other, but we all had a good time. 

Debra and Tina and I took our 12 hour overnight bus ride to Croatia and arrived at our hostel in Split at about 9am Friday morning. I walked into the bathroom in our hostel and the first thing I see sitting on the sink is a bottle of soap named Carli. HOW COOL THAT I'M NAMED AFTER CROATIAN SOAP?!

The weather was cloudy and chilly but we still enjoyed the day. We started with walking around the city, going through the markets and tried to figure out our way around the center. At 3pm we went on a walking tour of the city which is always a must when visiting new cities. She took us around the palace and shared some history about the town. Deb was mostly interested in the Game of Thrones connections that the city has (which I know nothing about). After our walking tour, the sun started to come out so we got some dinner at a local spot near the water. The currency in Croatia is Kunas and is a lot cheaper than using Euros. Our dinner cost us about 150 kunas combined, which is only 20 euros. We were pretty happy about this considering everything in Italy is so much more expensive. 

One of the tour guides from Bus2Alps had told us about a spot along the water where you could watch the sunset. We started walking and found the signs that led to the spot. We walked up a few stairs and came to this gorgeous view of the city of Split with the water and the mountains. Thinking we had found the place they were talking about, we ran into some Americans who kept running past the place where we were. We asked them how much further the view was and they weren't sure so we just kept walking. The sun was about 30 minutes from setting so we figured we had plenty of time. After we had walked up a ton of stairs, we started to wonder if we would make it in time. We asked someone how much longer it would take and he estimated about 6 minutes. Well, I don't know if he ran up those stairs or what, but we had over 300 more stairs to climb and it took us a little more than 6 minutes. Almost ready to turn around, we continued walking up since we had already come so far. And it was so worth every bit of it. We were all so glad that we didn't turn around because that place was incredible. At the top of the stairs stood a giant cross in front of the most gorgeous view of the mountains and the sun setting over the water. Just before getting there it had hit me that it had already been a week since we lost Jon and as soon as I saw that cross, he was the first person I thought of. I couldn't believe it had already been a week since that awful day, but I know he would be living every day to the fullest and would want me to do the same.

That night, we went out around the city center and had a good time with all of the other study abroad students. 

The next day we were scheduled to go kayaking. We met where everyone was supposed to meet and we found out that we were the only ones who still wanted to go. The weather was perfect. It was sunny and 70 the whole day. The bus driver took us to the shore where we met our guides and two other women who were vacationing in Croatia from Colorado. The guides took us on about a 3 hour ride where we stopped a couple times along the way on some small beaches to look around and get some pictures. The water was too cold so we didn't swim, but it was the most beautiful thing I have ever done in my life. Debra couldn't quite get the hang of paddling but she hung in there and still enjoyed the whole experience. Since we were an odd number, I rode with one of the guides. She was so so sweet. She spoke pretty good English but only spoke it better than she understood it so I didn't do most of the talking. But, riding with her was so enjoyable because as we rode along she was able to point out things to me and tell me more about the area. She also told me how she wakes up every morning and swims 2km and in her free time volunteers to help animals. Loved her. 

After we got back from Kayaking, we were in the center of the city and since it was a Saturday, a bunch of things were happening in the streets. Debra said she smelled funnel cakes and I immediately went on a hunt for them. As Bob and Kiki know, funnel cakes are my WEAKNESS. I LOVE THEM. So we walked over and find out that its not a funnel cake, they are funnel balls covered in sugar, cinnamon and Nutella. We all fell in love. As we sat and ate these funnel cake balls, looking at the Adriadtic Sea, after getting back from Kayaking in 70 degrees and sunny weather, we decided that that moment was easily top 3 best moments of our lives. 

That evening, we were scheduled to take a bus to another island to get some dinner and see the area. Unfortunately not enough people wanted to go so we just stayed around Split. Although we wanted to go see something different, we still had an amazing evening. We were craving good seafood so we walked around and tried to find a good seafood restaurant. We found the cutest empty restaurant and had the best food that we had had all weekend (minus the funnel cake balls). We all had steak with salmon and shrimp and it was to die for. That Saturday in Croatia was one of the best days of my life. 

Sunday morning, we got up early to head to see the waterfalls of Krka National Park. This park was on our way home so we drove about an hour to the waterfalls and then from there took the rest of the 11 hours home. The waterfalls were absolutely beautiful. We would've loved to have been able to swim in them, but unfortunately it was still too cold. But, it was still so worth visiting. 

Croatia was yet again, another trip that did not disappoint. We wish Christine could have been with us, but we had an amazing time. I am so lucky to have these amazing girls in my life and to share these experiences with.

 "Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who fear your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11

Friday, April 17, 2015

Jon Krueger

How do I even begin to write something when I am at a complete loss for words? This morning after coming home from class, I received a text from Ben Thompson asking if he could call me. Nothing totally out of the ordinary, but I knew it was late in Kentucky so it was a little strange. My heart immediately dropped when I answered the phone and he said to me "Carli. I have to tell you something." He went on to tell me that one of our very good friends, Jon Krueger had just been walking home and got shot and killed by people trying to rob him. In complete shock, I didn't know what to say and I didn't want to believe it. My heart was broken. As I sat there and watched Ben start sobbing, I couldn't hold back my tears. All I could do is try to believe that this hadn't happened. I just repeatedly said "no." After Ben reassured me that it was true, we cried together for a good while. I didn't know what to say or do, but just cry with him. For the next four hours, and in this very second, I can do nothing but cry. I still cannot wrap my mind around what has happened, but the only thing to do is remember Jon as the amazing person that he was and pray for God to hold us in this time.


You were one of the first people I became friends with at UK. I still remember the first times we were around each other. All I knew about you was that Luke liked you so I knew you must be a good guy. I remember being with you, Luke and Natalie constantly. There was never a time when one of us wasn't together. What was amazing was that you still hung out with us even though we loved making fun of your northern Ohio accent. Gah, I'm going to miss that accent. And that smile. Even when we were making fun of you, you still were smiling. Even through all of your knee pain, you still smiled. I can't picture you at all without that smile.

I loved looking for you at every sporting event. You were always there, on the sidelines with your camera. I could pick you out even from the last row at the very top of Rupp Arena. I could pick you out in a sea of orange in Knoxville watching Kentucky play football. I could spot you through the whole student body on State Street. You were always ready and willing to take photos for me. Thank you for that. The Kernel lost the best photographer they've ever had today.

I remember one of the last times I spent with you. I was in the Student Center grabbing lunch and all of the seats were taken at the Beta table so you got up and moved just to sit with me so I wouldn't have to eat alone. We talked about how I would be going abroad and how you were considering going abroad next year. My heart breaks as I think about how you won't get to do that. I'll never understand why you left this Earth so soon. You had so much life in you and were always ready to do anything. I would give anything to have one more lunch with you. Just one more conversation, take one more picture.

I will never understand why this has happened. We live in such a cruel world and today one of the best guys I've ever known has died for no reason at all. I would give anything to be with my friends who are grieving right now. Ben Thompson, Ben Connor, Natalie, Tyler, Ashley, Luke, Hayden, Brendan, Grant, Joey and so many more please know that I would give anything to be able to give you each a big hug right now. I would fly home in a heartbeat just to sit and cry with you all today. I love you all so much and am keeping you in my prayers along with Jon's whole family. God is with us even when we are in the midst of a tragedy. "The storms in life prove the strength of our Anchor".

Thank you for all the good times, the smiles, and the laughs, Jon. You will always be in our hearts and will not be forgotten. We love you.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

Thursday, April 16, 2015


"God's unseen presence comforts me, 
I know that He is always near;
And when life's storms besiege our soul,
He says, "My child, I'm here."
-D. De Haan

The storms of our life prove the strength of our Anchor.

Just a little encouragement for this Thursday morning. Photo taken on our trip last summer to Myrtle Beach with the best women in my life (Mom, Aunt Ruthie and my sweet Mimi).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I want to start by dedicating this post to my favorite redhead/Irish of all time (minus my dad, obviously ;)), Mariah Scilley. I have never wanted to go home more than on Wednesday night when Mariah was at Reds Opening Night without me. I miss my wife so much and cannot wait until we can do all things Reds baseball together when I get home. Somehow I was still able to be at the game on Wednesday in spirit. My heart and joy in one picture (Mariah and Great American Ballpark).

Thursday night after everyone finished their classes for the day, all of us Regina Margherita girls (Tina, both Christines, Megan and Debra) took off to catch our flight to Dublin, Ireland. Our flight was scheduled to take off at 9:55 but unfortunately, we had almost a 3 hour delay and didn't take off until almost 12:30. Luckily, we gained an hour traveling to Ireland so we still got there late, but not as late as it seemed. We stayed at the Spire Hostel which is in the city center and is named after one of Dublin's most famous monuments that is a large stainless steel needle and also referred to as the Monument of Light. 

(Photo creds: Tina Beamon)

For our first full day in Ireland, we were scheduled to take a 3 hour walking tour around the city. We had to get our Starbucks before we started our day. Just like in Paris, we had to get it as much as possible since there are no Starbucks in Italy.The weather for us was perfect for the walking tour and not rainy and cold like most days in Ireland. The tour took us to all major spots around the city. Including, The Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity College, the stairs that P.S. I Love You was filmed at, and Temple Bar area. 

Dublin Castle

Christ Church Cathedral

Trinity College

Temple Bar Area

Later that day, we had free tickets to tour the Guinness Factory which is the number one tourist attraction in Ireland. The seven floors are continuously updated, telling the heritage of Guinness and how it has spread its popularity all over the world. The seven floors make a full pint glass and on the top floor is the Sky Bar that gives you a panorama view of Dublin. 

Later that night, the girls and I hung out around Temple Bar to check out the nightlife and live music. We got dinner and hopped from pub to pub to see as much as we could and still get to bed at a decent time. 

 Early the next morning, we got up to catch a bus that took us on a full-day tour to the Cliffs of Moher. As we took the 4 hour bus ride, we got to see some beautiful country away from the city life. We took a pit stop on the way and stopped at the Barack Obama plaza in Gallway between Dublin and Limerick. LOLOLOL. The bus driver told us that Obama is said to have a great-great-great grandfather that immigrated from Ireland to New York years ago and in 2011 Obama visited Gallway while him and the First Lady visited Ireland.

Once we finally made it to the Cliffs of Moher, the sun was shining and we were able to have great (but extremely windy) weather. We saw some storm clouds roll in at one point, but it blew right over us and barely missed us. It was amazing to see the rain blow over the Atlantic Ocean like that. 

The Cliffs were so beautiful and one of the coolest things I've ever seen. We spent some time there to see both views, but after a while of that wind, we were ready to warm up and keep going. We stopped for lunch at a local pub in Doolin. After lunch, we made another pit stop along the coast to see the limestone shore at Galway Bay. 

On the way back to Dublin, we all knocked out since we were running on just around 4 hours of sleep. We took some time to recharge our phones, lay down for a minute, and rejuvenate to go back out for dinner and music again.

Sunday was our last full day in Ireland, and we had nothing planned but to shop and walk around on our own. We got some Irish breakfasts, souvenirs, postcards, more Starbucks, etc. and had a relaxing, last day.  

Ireland has been surprisingly my favorite trip that we've taken so far. Everyone in Ireland was so nice and friendly, the food was amazing, all of our travels went smoothly and we all had a great time together as usual. Anytime all of us are together, we have a great time and I think we can all agree that this is another trip we will never forget. There are so many more great pictures that I haven't even included. 

As they say in Ireland, "THANKS A MILLION"!

And I can't forget my girls back home. Brooke, I wish so badly that somehow I could have still made it to your bridal shower on Saturday. Seeing pictures of all of you together without me was so hard. But I absolutely cannot wait to stand next to you as you get married in June. I love you all to the moon and back and miss you every day!!!