Friday, October 14, 2016

why I deleted facebook

So I deleted Facbeook and Twitter from my phone and I signed out of both on my computer. It's better this way. I really want to like all my friends when this season is over. I also want to be able to sleep peacefully and to stay off blood pressure medication for at least a few more years.  I've ventured onto Facebook just one time since deleting the app, just for a second,  in and out as quick as possible. I tried to keep blinders on and avoid that side bar that shows "what's trending" a.k.a "what's important to my friends and the greater Facebook community these days." Inevitably my eyes wandered over to those attention grabbing click bait and those hot button words jumped off the screen and screamed: I am Important! 10 New Ways the World is in Trouble! Be Informed of the Latest Drama So You Can Better Pen the Perfect 120 Character Sarcastic Retort! And immediately I could feel my blood boiling and my bullhorn beckoning, and so quick as I could I x-ed out of all the windows, and closed my laptop and did some deep breathing exercises until I cooled off.

Since then it's like a weight off my mind. I have released myself from the obligation to be in the know of all the headlines, all the sound bites, all the spin. It's not up to me to track which side of the battlefield my friends stand and from there predict the outcome of the election. I also know that a pithy comment or comeback on a Facebook post isn't going to sway anyone to "my side."

In this election there are no winners. We're all losers here.  In the past I've always said that if you don't vote you can't complain about the outcome. But this is the one election where I've seriously considered not participating so I can raise my hands in the air and say I had nothing to do with this! I am not responsible!

But, even if I don't vote, Trump or Clinton will be elected. Even if I write in another candidate, or vote for a third party, Clinton or Trump will be elected. It's just the way this particularly stale and unappetizing cookie is going to crumble. I haven't exactly accepted it but I'm working on it.

How am I working on it? Well I deleted Facebook and Twitter for starters. But more than that I'm limiting the amount of news I watch because if I'm being honest it's way too much hate and negativity and too many reporters do a bad job of hiding their biases. That's not reporting, it's spouting opinions, but hey, journalists are humans to, can I blame them? Not really. But I can to choose take everything I hear with a grain of salt and formulate my opinions without their input.

Maybe you think I'm choosing to be ignorant, and uninformed, like I'm closing my eyes to the fire burning around me.  But these days most of the news has nothing to do with the issues, or the policies that whoever is elected will work to put into practice, policies that will shape and change our country and directly affect you and me. We've gotten distracted from what an election is supposed to be about. We're lost in the woods, in all the noise, the social media wars, and the character assassinations (just kidding, there is no character in this election).

So I did my very darnedest (I swear I really, really tried) to set aside my preconceived and influenced political beliefs and pretend like I hadn't seen the latest scandal or wikileak, and I forced myself to spend time on both candidates websites (Trump | Clinton). I went to their respective pages where they outlined as simply as possible, where they stood on national security, the economy, the second amendment, health care, abortion, immigration. I read through them all and I educated myself on each candidates vision for our country.

I believe it's the safest and most responsible way to chose who to vote for. This isn't a popularity contest to see who's prettier or more likeable (the answer is neither). I have to pick the policies that are most important to me, the issues that rank highest in my mind and then chose the candidate who's platform best lines up with those points.

To be honest it's unlikely their websites will really change your decision on who you're voting for. But maybe you'll learn something you didn't know about the candidates, something that you missed in the hullabaloo of election season. Maybe you'll be able to respect or at least understand your friends' choices more once this is all over and we're stuck with the president we've elected. You see I believe two people can have different opinions and still be friends, no name calling or eye rolling. Maybe not, but I'll at least be able to provide a more educated defense of my chosen candidate when I inevitably give up and log back onto Facebook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Before summer is over.

It already feels like summer skipped out of town a couple weeks ago and we've been enjoying very mild temperatures with just a bit of a crisp in the air. And I'm loving it. But.... I never blogged about a special part of our summertime. So before it officially becomes fall I'm taking you back to South Carolina for one last fleeting taste of summer.

The whole excuse behind our trip to South Carolina this past August was for T.J. to attend an orthopedic conference on Kiawah Island. So after our week in the upstate we rented a car and drove to the low country just the two of us. We decided when we got married that we need to protect our limited vacation days and always make sure it includes time for us to reconnect as a couple. Our excitement for a real beach weekend together grew with each palmetto tree we passed. Of course we had to stop for a late lunch along the way....

And as we got closer to our destination we stopped again to grab more sunscreen and some breakfast fixings for our villa and we also had to check out the prettiest tree in the world, the Angel Oak.
Finally we were driving through a tunnel of Spanish moss and pulling through the gates at Kiawah Island. Kiawah is a private beach community so unless you're staying on the property or have a tee time at one of the golf courses you can't get on the island which makes it feel super fancy but also protects this little slice of heaven from hooligans. It's super family friendly, quiet, and utterly relaxing and within about five seconds of being there we were committing to coming back every summer thereafter.

We checked in to our villa then decided to check out The Sanctuary Hotel where T.J.'s conference would be taking place, aka the prettiest, most luxurious hotel I have ever been inside. Jaw dropped and wide eyed we meandered past the pool and then I hurriedly slipped off my sandals and ran to the surf. 

Our next stop was to rent beach cruisers for the weekend.It is the perfect way to get around the island and we rode around a bit before dark so we could get our bearings and take note of the best alligator hang outs. Still full from our lunch we opted to skip dinner and go straight to the ice cream parlor. We enjoyed our melting cones in Adirondack chairs with a symphony of cicadas serenading us.
The next morning T.J. left early for his conference and I hopped on my bike and headed down to the beach. I walked up and down the shoreline and called my folks and tried not to brag too much about the view with sparkling waves washing over my feet. Not too long after my old college roommate, who lives in Charleston, arrived to spend the day with us and T.J. came and met us for lunch at the poolside restaurant.  The rest of the day was spent on the beach catching up on each others' lives and working on going back to Washington with some semblance of a tan.

We parted with plans to see each other the next day as well, then T.J. and I freshened up and drove into Charleston to meet his med school buddy/groomsmen and his girl friend for rooftop cocktails followed by dinner at Cannon Green.
The next day T.J. played hooky from the conference seminars (this conference really just seemed like an excuse for all these overworked doctors to get away with their families) and we hit up the pool for most of the day. We enjoyed pina coladas and fish tacos and played on the water slides like we were kids and I only had to nag T.J. about reapplying sunscreen a couple times. We moved to the beach later in the day and played bocce ball and enjoyed the salty breeze. That night we went casual. We didn't bother with showering off the sand and sunscreen before we headed to Red's Ice House for some fried shrimp and our last waterside sunset in South Carolina.
T.J. and I are already planning to go back to Kiawah next summer and the summer after that...and you get the picture. I dream about us taking little ones here for family vacations, and it being our beach spot that we go to year after year. It was a perfect end to our vacation and we left feeling totally refreshed and totally reminded of why no matter where we live, or how far we roam, South Carolina will always feel like home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DIY Gravel Patio & Fire Pit

It may be after Labor Day but it's not officially Fall yet (chill out pumpkin spice fanatics) and I'm not one to wish away summer knowing that many gray rainy days are in my future. But.... I do love the changing seasons. It always reinvigorates me and feels like a chance to start over or to just start something new.

My father in law and T.J. built our wonderful deck last summer but, I'm ashamed to admit, we hardly ever use it. I do love the way it makes our backyard look more finished and purposeful but the rest of the yard is just blah.The grass is patchy or non-existent or full of dandelions. The "flower bed" along the fence line is undefined and the plants and bushes in there are just sad. Nothing but moss grows against the sides of the house and it's become a favorite place for Hunley to dig holes. Whenever I do sit out on our deck, that's all I see. I can't get past all the things that need to be done and I'm so overwhelmed by it. Where do I even begin?

I had a burst of energy last Monday and decided it was the perfect time to start digging up this wasted area that we decided was perfect for a gravel patio. I maybe should have done a bit more research but after a bit of time on Pinterest I felt confident I knew what I was doing. This post here gives pretty simple instructions and good overview of how I went about this. I roughly marked out the outline of the space and just started moving dirt little by little and attempting to make the ground level as I went.

This spot of the yard is right next to the deck barely gets any sun and the foundation of the house extends out underneath it for some reason, so the ground is super rocky and hard and nothing but moss grows there. We maybe could have just made our deck longer but I didn't want our whole yard to feel like one big wooden surface. I liked the idea of a pea gravel patio with a wood border because it felt more organic. It would be functional but still flow nicely into the rest of the yard, plus provide a place for more seating, and the perfect spot for that fire pit!

Here's my inspiration:
1 | 23
Tuesday I went to Lowes with my measurements and my shopping list thinking it would be a one trip sort of project. Do those even exist? Of course they couldn't cut the wood beams I needed in the store for me and I wouldn't have been able to fit the uncut beams in my car which meant I had to go to Home Depot instead because apparently they had the capability to make the cuts I needed. Also, the nice guy helping me thought I would only need 20 bags of pea gravel which seemed manageable for me and my jeep but after a closer look I needed more like 40 bags which sounded like a project for T.J.'s truck. And then the nice guy helping me said something like, you're not going to move all those bags by yourself are you? That's crazy." To which I lied and said "no I'll have help," but really I wont because I'm stubborn and too impatient to wait for T.J. to be home long enough to help me. 

Oh, and also, I'm a capable woman, thank you very much! 

I sometimes feel like maybe the employees and the other shoppers there with all their important projects are looking around wondering, who's this little girl pretending she knows what the heck she's doing? And where's her husband?

I digress...

I left the store with just the landscape fabric and stakes that I needed and went back to my slow and steady moving of dirt. Of course T.J. was going to be home for a bit on Saturday and could totally have helped but who wants to move gravel on their one day off. Plus by then I was pretty determined to do it without him, partly because I want us to be able to enjoy it already and partly because I can. Hashtag girl power!

On Wednesday I made my trip to Home Depot, got the beams cut and loaded in my car no problem (be sure to get pressure treated beams for outdoor use). Then I said screw it and arranged to have the gravel delivered on Friday instead of waiting for T.J to pick it up. Once I start a project I want it done now!
The hardest part of this project was all the digging, the ground was basically solid rock, and trying to get the area as level as possible was no joke. If you attempt this DIY I would recommend at least one other friend to help you out here to cut the time in half. I spent several hours after work each day that week moving dirt and raking and checking it with the level and moving more dirt. I ended up just doing the best I could and figured I could level it out more once I added gravel. But once that was done I laid down the landscape fabric, making sure to overlap each section.

My original plan had been to use rebar stakes to secure the beams to the ground but remember how the ground was basically all rocks? Yeah, it just wasn't going to happen.So I kind of just ignored that problem and eagerly awaited my gravel delivery.

I calculated the cubic feet I would need to cover and ordered 45 bags of pea gravel from Lowes and had it delivered on Friday. Turns out that guy who asked if I was going to move all the bags of gravel by myself wasn't being offensive, they're actually really flipping heavy! I could barely lift one bag and even with a wheel barrow I could only move two bags at a time. It was sloowww going moving all 45 bags from my driveway to the patio but then finally came the fun part- raking and spreading the gravel in the space.

Let me tell you, I slept well that night! Of course the second I let Hunley outside when I was finished he immediately knocked one of the beams out of place and I knew I'd have to find a better way to secure them. So the next day I went back to Lowes and picked up a couple brackets and a couple lag screws. I finally asked T.J. for help here and he ratcheted the screws through the corner pieces while I added brackets connecting the beams.  Finally I moved my Adirondack chairs into place and set up our new fire pit and then collapsed.
You know when you start one project a million more pop up? Well.... I want to aerate and over-seed the grass. I want to add stepping stones from the patio to the back gate. I want to add steps off the deck. I want to add mulch to the bed along the fence and I want to plant stuff. But for now I'm just going to enjoy this finished project that I successfully checked off my list.

I picture future little ones running around barefoot in the grass while we sit around the fire and roast marshmallows or sip a glass of wine. I love love love how it turned out and I can't wait to enjoy our yard more with this new extension of our living space.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Golden Weekend

What's a golden weekend you ask? Well it's a weekend when T.J. is off the whole time- not just Saturday, not just Sunday, but both days! And they are golden because they are rare and precious. I actually hadn't seen my husband in two weeks because he was on an away rotation and I also went to middle school Wyldlife camp last weekend. It's felt very much like back when we were dating and I would count down the days till our next visit. And back then our phone conversations were longer than "hey I'm leaving work, see you soon" which has become our new, much preferred normal.

I'm surrounded on both sides with neighbors whose husbands have been gone much longer than two weeks and who wont be back until maybe Christmastime so I feel slightly guilty when I lament our shorter separations and instead try to stay busy and positive during the longer days without him.

The last couple weeks I felt a little giddy with anticipation and I really truly missed my husband. That's not something everyone gets to experience in their marriages- missing, longing. And though I am partial to seeing him every day there's something sweet and utterly romantic about a reunion after a long absence. 

So what did we do this past weekend?
 We went to the Airshow on base. We sat outside on a picnic blanket to enjoy our hot dogs and beer.
We watched movies and napped on the couch.
We went out to dinner to our favorite restaurant. We slept in. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We took the dog for walks. We went out with friends. We watched the sunset (cheesy cliche but it's true). We held hands. We got to be we.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer in the South

Washington has beautiful summers. No humidity, mild temperatures, clear blue skies, and very little rain during their sweet (albeit short) summertime. But nothing, nothing, compares to summer in the south! It's the quintessential summer, the summer of my dreams, a summer that lets me recapture that feeling, that magic of long ago childhood summers. Where the days were endless and you could do anything you wanted as long as you were home by the time the fireflies came out.

You lose a little bit of that magic when you get older and no longer have a proper summer vacation. And you lose it even more when it's only 55 degrees in the morning and you can comfortably wear jeans in the middle of July, and you haven't felt the relief of air-conditioner after coming in from the steamy outdoors in about two years.
I flew to South Carolina a few days before T.J. got off to enjoy a little extra time with my family. Stepping off the plane and being hit by that wall of humidity felt like home! It's not summer if you can't complain about the heat so after lunch with my mom and sister we of course had to treat ourselves to a sno-ball!

That night we went to one of my favorite restaurants in town to celebrate all being together (minus T.J.) for the first time since Christmas.
My sister is a beach body coach and had already planned to go to the big conference the next day so while I was sad to miss out on a couple days with her, I was super excited to go out to the lake with my parents. If you follow my mom's blog you know they are in the process of building their dream house on a lake in the upstate of South Carolina. When I was home at Christmas only the foundation had been poured and now it's finally looking like a real house with walls and windows and everything!  I am beyond excited for this house, this new home base. My parents are planning to stay put for a good long while now and I can't wait to fill this home with years and years of memories.  I have the clearest picture in my head of future visits with naps on the screened in porch, barefoot babies in adorable baby life jackets running around the dock, waterskiing with my dad, taking the boat back and forth between their house and my in-laws house.  
My parents walked me all through house and I picked out my future room and then we picked paint colors. Before too long I was way too hot and sweaty and I had to take my inaugural jump in the lake, the perfectly clear blue lake that I now refer to as "our lake". The water is so flipping warm so I literally stayed floating on my noodle for about 2 hours turning into a prune until we decided to take the boat out. We grabbed dinner dockside and enjoyed our sparkly sunset ride back to the house.
The next couple of days we got more snoballs, lazed by the pool, took a walk around my Alma mater, reapplied a lot of sunscreen, had BBQ with my cousin and aunt and uncle, and stopped by my in-laws house so I could meet their goats!
T.J. was supposed to get in Saturday afternoon but due to bad weather and flight complications he didn't make it in until much later that night. And even though his suitcase didn't make it, all he needed was a swimsuit because the next day we headed back up to the lake for more fun on the water. We dropped our stuff off at his house and then took the boat over to my parents dock so T.J. could see the progress and so we could meet up with my sister and her boyfriend.We had a big dinner with both sides of the family and ended the night playing corn hole and darts and then jumping in the lake once the sun set.
The next day T.J. and and I and his folks cruised around the lake some more and made a stop by the waterfall which was a nice relief because, unlike the rest of the lukewarm lake, the water is actually cold and refreshing. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping and reading and then my parents again for dinner on the lake. 

We slept in again on Tuesday and then just the two of us went out for ride together on the boat before it was time to head back in to town.  We had dinner out that night and walked around downtown and grabbed ice cream and made several Pokemon Go players stop to snap a couple family photos for us. 
The next day I went furniture shopping with my mom and daydreamed about decorating my own lake house one day way way in the future. Then we had lunch at the cutest little hardware store turned cafe and I had a pimento cheese biscuit BLT and tomato okra soup- a lunch combo I could probably never find in Washington. Afterwards we popped by my sister's school to check on the progress of her adorable kindergarten classroom-those are some lucky lucky little kiddos! Then I headed back to meet T.J., feed the goats again, and then go swimming at the pool at my parents apartment.
We had one last big dinner with all of us together before tears and long hugs and heading out the next day. Why do these visits, that seem like a lot of days when you're planning them, always fly by in the blink of an eye? Why is Washington so dang far from our family? Fortunately our vacation wasn't over just yet which made saying goodbye a little bit easier on my heart. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Surviving Residency

T.J. is a done with his second year of orthopedic surgery residency (years for us being July-July). So we're a month into third year now and we're getting through it! I don't like to blog too much about residency because it's not my job, it's T.J.'s, and so it's not really my story to share. I can really only talk about what it looks like at home. How the long overnight shifts, the weekend call schedules, the away rotations, the exhausted husband, impacts our marriage and our life outside the hospital. It's nothing new really, we're not the first ones to go through this, but I want to share how we're surviving, right now, while we're knee deep in it.
 (I thought this photo was hilarious- the magazines I get in the mail vs. the magazines T.J. gets.) 

First a little snapshot of what second year looked like. Second year was definitely worse than first year, and I'm starting to suspect that third year might be worse than second year. Though he is no longer the "intern" (what they call all first year residents) doing grunt work all the live long day, he is still considered a junior resident which means he still has long hours, plus far more responsibilities, higher expectations. He needs to be overly prepared for each and every surgery and patient on their service and to know all the obscure hypotheticals that could occur. This means even when he's "off" he has reading and studying to do.  There is an unspoken expectation that he should (want to) stay and scrub in on cases even if it's the end of the day and technically he could leave. This means that on a day when he might expect to be home by dinner time, he ends up operating until well after midnight and just sleeping in an on-call bed. And speaking of call...he is expected to take call at least two weekends a month plus one or two days a week.

Third year is supposed to be a slightly more manageable schedule with slightly less call nights but the catch is he has a TON of away rotations at other hospitals, most of which are too far for him to commute back and forth to so during those months I will only see him on weekends when he's off.

So what do I do with this mess? How do I make sure I'm not adding to my husbands burdens? How do I encourage him and support him, and at the same time make sure that I don't wallow in bitterness, or resentment towards his job, or worse, towards my sweet hard working husband?

Look for the silver lining.
I am always on the lookout for it. It would be so very easy to feel sorry for myself because T.J. isn't home every night for dinner, or even at all some nights. It would be so easy to look at other couples, not in this situation, and feel jealous. And I've seen other spouses fall into that trap. They focus only on the bad parts of this life and can't see the good. And there is a lot of good here.  T.J. is helping people and he truly enjoys what he does. He is able to provide for our family and we don't have to worry about the future. When he's on call I get to watch the Bachelorette uninterrupted and shame-free and have popcorn for dinner. We have no student loan debt (thank you to the Army). We get to live in new places and meet people we might never have if it weren't for this job. And probably the biggest silver lining is this is just a season and not forever. That's the big one there. If nothing else, I know this is not forever. His schedule won't always be like this. He won't always be this tired. We won't always be beholden to the call pager. I can do anything for a season. And I don't want to look back on this time and only remember how hard it was. I want to be able to look back and see that we squeezed as much joy and love and happiness out of these hard years.

Always have something on the calendar. 
And to bolster your silver lining, it helps to have something to look forward to. The weekends off may be few and far between but having something fun planned for those little breaks seems to make the long days pass more quickly. It's not just for my sanity though. T.J. needs a break, he needs to sleep in, he needs Vitamin D, he needs to turn off the pager, he needs handed a cold beer by the water and we need that alone time together. So I may or may not have a countdown on my phone letting me know the days until we're on a plane out of here.

Keep your expectations really low.
When we were still in first year, the older residents and their spouses warned me about second year. Seriously they scared the crap out of me with their horror stories of what was to come. Basically they told me I was never going to see my husband and when I did he wouldn't really be available to me because he'd be so tired and stressed. Because of this, going in to second year my expectations we're so so low. But it turns out that I do get to see my husband, and he is still my husband and not just a shell of his former happier self. Every night that we do get to have dinner together, every weekend that he isn't on call, every night that he sleeps next to me and not at the hospital, is a treat, a joy, a bonus! Keeping my expectations low means that instead of being disappointed all the time, I'm constantly, happily surprised.
Be flexible.
When T.J.calls to see if I can meet him for breakfast, right now, after he's finished a crazy overnight shift you can bet I am going to make that work. When he can't leave the hospital but he has a bit of down time, I pack up (or pick up) dinner and bring it to him. When he does have a free weekend and he let's me know the day before, I'm gonna try my hardest to plan something fun for us to do together. Being flexible allows room for last minute surprises (both good and bad). I also don't let his schedule stop me from making my own plans. I just keep in mind that he might not make it home in time or feel like going out.
Pick your battles. 
The minute T.J. walks in the door after work is not the time to tell him about the rain gutter we need to get replaced, or the cost of getting our roof cleaned. It's not the time to add to his to stress. Yes I have my own burdens, my own things that I want my husband's support and encouragement on. I have hard days too.  But I know that if I immediately unload on T.J. the second he gets home, I wont get the reaction, or the response that I'm looking for from him. So I store up things to tell him and pick my moments when he's more rested, when he's had a proper meal, when he's done telling me about the week he's had. And sometimes I just have to put on my big girl panties and deal with it myself, make some big decisions without him.

Go to bed at the same time.
Some days the only time I get with my husband is the sweet time we spend catching up while brushing our teeth before he falls into bed. While he may need/want to go to bed earlier than I do, I always go up to bed at the same time as him. I'll read in bed or play on my phone while he falls asleep (usually in .5 seconds of laying down) on my shoulder. Just being near each other, even in sleep, is better than nothing. To me, it's reflective of the commitment we made to each other to be one.
Surround yourself with support.
Rather than letting myself play the victim, I have to remember that we are not in this battle alone. The orthopedic residency department is like a little insular family. We are surrounded on both sides by other residents and their families who've chosen the same stressful and demanding life. It's helpful to be able to look to the older residents and see what's in store for the coming years, to ask questions about how it all works so I can mentally prepare.  It's also reassuring to look at the Attendings and remember that they once were just residents themselves. Once a month we have an "ortho wives" get together, usually at a restaurant or someone's home. No kids, no husbands, just time out with friends walking the same path. It's also great having these fellow spouses to call up last minute for dinner because both our husbands are on call and we don't want to eat alone. When we get together, there is a temptation to compare who's got it worse this week but it needs to not be about that. It needs to be a night out to unwind, to refresh, to do something fun for yourself so you don't always feel like you're waiting for your resident to get home.

Get a dog.
This one is kind of a joke but also kind of serious. Thank goodness for sweet crazy needy Hunley or our house would be so quiet most days. I also really don't like sleeping in the house alone (I'm certain every noise and creek is someone breaking in to murder me) so having him there when T.J. is not is such a comfort. Plus, Hunley is a decent substitute for cuddling.

Remember why he's doing this.
T.J. didn't decide to become a doctor because he wanted long hours and a tricky lifestyle. He chose this path because he's passionate about it, because he's so smart, because he wants to help people, because he wants to provide for our family. He's not doing this to our family, he's doing it for our family. Gratitude changes your whole perspective. I am grateful for how hard he works. I am thankful for his job, even when I don't like it.

This really should be the first thing on this list.  As a Christ follower, as someone who wants Jesus at the center of my marriage, my life, I want to love my husband like Jesus does. This means putting myself second to our marriage. I pray for the posture of my heart to be patient, selfless, and joyful during the long months. I pray for T.J. to have strength to get through long days. That he will feel peace about the path he's on and trust that he is doing what he was called to do. I pray that the Lord will bless whatever amount of time we get to spend together. That He will draw us closer to one another and to Him.

I know there are some people who might think I should demand more from my husband, that I should be mad at him when he tells me he'll be home for dinner and then he's not. But having an "if he does this, I'll do that" attitude about marriage is destructive and it's conditional love. This verse was read at our wedding (and pretty much every wedding ever) but it is TRUTH that carries us through this season and the next. 

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentfulit does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Any more experienced spouses who've come out on the other side of residency with advice to share, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, June 13, 2016

A weekend in Seabrook

Weekends where T.J. has all three nights off are few and far between so we do not like to waste them. He often has grand ideas for these golden weekends and will proclaim "lets go away!" Of course sometimes he forgets to tell me his schedule until the Thursday before and it's too late for me to plan anything, or he's too exhausted from the week to do much more than binge on Netflix. But this past weekend I had enough notice to do some research and find a place for us to escape to for a couple nights. It couldn't be anywhere too far of a drive (I found an adorable Airbnb in Bend that I've bookmarked for a longer weekend since it's about 5 hours away), and it had to be dog friendly. We've been wanting to go to the coast for a while now so Seabrook, Washington checked all our boxes. I packed his weekend bag for him so that the second he got home from work all we had to do was load up the truck and the dog and hit the road.
Seabrook is a little beach town not quite 2 hours west from our home. It sits up on a tree lined bluff overlooking the ocean and is chock full of coastal sweetness.  All the beautiful shingled homes are privately owned and perfectly designed to create the most adorable, walkable little community. When we arrived we got checked in at the rental office, and were given our pool key (that we never ended up using) and a cute welcome bag with shower items, dog treats, popcorn and other little goodies for our stay. I had rented a little two bedroom cottage named Sandy Crab and it was just perfect for the three of us!
Since we'd gotten in kind of late we pretty much went right to bed and were excited to explore more the next day. We woke up early (thanks Hunley) and had a bite of breakfast in our house before making our way to the beach.  The whole way there I was snapping pictures and exclaiming every step how simply adorable this town is! It's pleasantville perfect. The sidewalks are made of crushed shells, the homes have large cedar porches, and colorful shutters and doors, flower boxes and picket fences. I loved getting to meander around the town and try to pick which home was my favorite, an impossible task.
We passed the town hall and then arrived at the Red Velvet Bakery by the Sea where T.J. grabbed a coffee before we started our climb down the twisty steps to the sandy beach below, trying not to break our neck as Hunley dragged us most of the way.

Though the morning has started out sunny enough, some dark clouds had rolled in as we'd made our trek to the beach. But we stuck out the drizzle like the good Pacific North-westerners we are now, and were soon rewarded with just overcast skies.
Hunley was in seventh heaven having the entire expansive beach to run on. He chased seagulls and splashed in the waves and ran back and forth between T.J. and I until he was completely exhausted with his tongue hanging out the side. We walked back to our house on a different path and passed more adorable homes, public fire pits, bocce ball courts, and the cutest "Lending Library."
My favorite vacations involve a good mix of activity and down time so after our morning excursion we plopped ourselves down on the couch, wrapped up in blankets, to watch a couple hours of our new TV series (I'm not going to say which series, though, because it's been over for years and yet somehow I haven't had it spoiled for me yet).
 When we were satisfied with our couch potato status we ventured back outside and were pleased to see the sun had broken through the clouds in full force. We headed back to the beach, this time by way of the affectionately named "Gnome Trail."  
This dense, wooded, mossy trail, is not exactly what we think of when we picture the beach, and we kept questioning whether we were headed in the right direction, but sure enough, the trees cleared and we found ourselves a bit further down on the beach than our earlier excursion. 
This time on our way back to the house we checked out some of the other shops and restaurants in the town. There are two restaurants, a wine and cheese shop, a cute ice cream and candy store, and a market where you can pick up supplies for s'mores or sandwiches, plus plans for future shops.  I think it would be so fun to come back here in a couple years, maybe next time with some family in tow, and see what new adorable cottages and restaurants have popped up.
We got showered and left the dog behind and went to enjoy a nice easy dinner together at Mill 109, with views of the setting sun sparkling off the ocean. 
On Sunday we went back to the beach for one last frolic before we had to pack up our gear and head on home. We had the whole beach to ourselves and we're joking about how different it would look if this was a beach on the East Coast in June. For one thing, I don't think I've ever worn rain boots and fleece to the beach in South Carolina.  But regardless of what coast I'm on, there is just something about the ocean, something that pulls and my heart and catches my breath like no other place on Earth. 
We were sad to be leaving so soon after arriving but I am so glad to know this little slice of paradise is just a short drive away from our home. It's so crazy to think this is a piece of the country we might never ever have visited if not for this crazy journey we're on. These weekend adventures are like water for the soul. We come home with stories to tell and memories that we'll share forever. I feel lighter and refreshed and ready to face another week of late nights alone. So no matter how last minute, or how hectic the week before has been, I'll say yes every single time T.J. tells me "let's get the heck out of town." Just to go somewhere, anywhere new, together.