Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Recap

With three checked bags, one extremely heavy carry on and a mandolin on my back, I made it to South Carolina and leg two of my around the country tour before the wedding. It was pretty hard to leave my parents (even though I'll be back up there in a month for Christmas) but I'd gotten so comfortable at home with them. Isn't it weird, and really sweet, how quickly you get used to being back at home. Having dinner with my parents beside me every day, shouting good nights down the hall to them,  I felt just like a little kid again and it's always hard to leave that behind. But I am so excited to be staying with my sister for the week and I'm loving every minute of my sweet time with her.

I got in late Friday night and we grabbed chick-fil-a and milkshakes on the way home to her apartment. We hauled all my gear up three flights of stairs and settled in for a fun week together. Saturday we slept in and then went on a date to the cutest little creperie called Tandem. I ordered a cappuccino and we both indulged in banana and Nutella crepes. It was a beautiful sunny day and we took our time over a leisurely brunch together.
After brunch we got ready and headed to a shower hosted by kind friends of my future mother in law. I have to admit I was pretty nervous as I didn't know anyone going in to it except my MIL and just one of the hosts. I was really grateful that sister was coming with me but, as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. They immediately embraced me, popped a veil and a tiara on my head, and were so excited to hear about our wedding plans and to just get to know me. They were so generous and I am definitely excited that they will be a part of our day. 
Later that night sister's boyfriend helped us unload all my new gifts and then made us chili and it's been so nice to also get to spend more time with him and get to know him better. On Sunday we went to church (at the church where T.J. and I will be tying the knot in just a few more weeks). I love her church, and even more so now that I'm looking at it through my bride-to-be eyes. I love that it will forever be a special place to me after our big day. And just like I love going to the church where my parents got married in Maryville, Tennessee, I can just picture coming back to town some years down the road and taking future littles there to show them where mom and dad got married. 

Later in the day I got to join sister at her community group. She has found such a great group of friends from her church to meet with each week. They share food, and their stories, and they pray for one another and laugh with one another- and that's just what I witnessed at one get together. It makes me really eager to get out to Washington and find something like that for T.J. and I to be a part of. A community, friends, a set apart group of people who will be like family while we're far away from family. People who will encourage us in our newlywed years and who will hold us accountable and pray for us and comfort us.

Hope everyone had as nice a weekend as we did!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Five on Friday: Status Report

I've basically been on summer vacation these past two weeks at home with my parents. Who would have thought it be so easy to transition from going to work every day to not. Gotta say, I doubt it's going to be as easy going the other way.

But just because I'm not getting a paycheck doesn't mean I'm not doing work. In between lunch dates and shopping and mani pedis we've been busy checking things on the seemingly expanding wedding to-do list. So here's five things to keep you updated on where things stand just 50 days out from THE day. 
oneI've taken on wedding planning full time and I'm also in "wife101" with my mom as the teacher sharing recipes, words of wisdom and some tough love when I need it (I've needed it). Yesterday she walked me through homemade turkey stock and gravy and cornbread stuffing. We made a mini thanksgiving meal so I could practice before I head out to Washington to spend it with T.J. I'll probably still be calling mom with a bunch of questions when I attempt it solo in my new house (with my new roasting pan- thanks roomie) but I'm excited for our first thanksgiving together. 
two. The welcome bags for out of town guests are almost something I can check off the list and they have been so fun to put together. Thank you Amazon prime for making everyday feel like Christmas. Our guest room is filling up with boxes of treats and surprises that we'll be wrapping, personalizing, and hauling down to South Carolina. 

three. Speaking of personalizing, my favorite part of most weddings is all the little personal details. I love to see how couples make it not just a pretty event but something that is special to just the two of them. Now that all the big ticket items are booked and set, it's all about the little details over here and I'm having so much fun! But I seem to keep making more lists and adding on little projects. Let's see how much I can actually squeeze in to the remaining time. I can't wait to over-share after the wedding. 

four. Checking the mail everyday is the best thing ever. I love seeing those little sage green envelopes in the stack of much less important mail. Before we open the mailbox we all guess how many we're going to get that day. Then we try to guess just one person who will be in the pile. I've been wrong every day but it's so fun to check off names from our list. Picturing who all is going to be there on the day celebrating with us makes me even more ready for those 50 remaining days to fly by. 
five. I am flying down to South Carolina today to spend the week with my sister. We plan to have one big sleepover every night, get take out,  play with her puppy, and see Mockingjay when it comes out on Friday. Plus I get to go to her classroom and meet her kiddos and watch her do her teacher thing. Aside from all that fun sister stuff, while I'm down there I'm going to squeeze in as much wedding planning as I can. I have another shower tomorrow (yay) and I'm planning to do my menu tasting and my hair and makeup trial. Can't believe we are already at this point! 

It's getting so close y'all! 
Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Last times and goodbyes.

I have been so busy/emotional/sick/excited/tired/crazy these past couple of weeks so there has been no time to blog. Let's see... what have you missed??

Well for starters, I had my last pizza night with my roommates...during which I burned my hand, making it a little easier to let this tradition go... We also watched Walking Dead together for the last time, but they did promise to skype me in this Sunday to ease the transition.
I had my last 2 weeks of work during which I trained my replacement, took a sick day with my roommate, packed up all my heels that I kept under my desk, had a surprise going away party at the office, and went to happy hour with my co-workers. Of course I left everything till the last minute and I spent a big chunk of my last day arranging for temporary health insurance until I can get on T.J.'s plan, which was fun... but it distracted me from being too upset about saying goodbye. It's so weird not having to go in to the office everyday. I still catch myself looking at my phone to check work emails which I no longer receive. But I'm sure that will pass ;)

My last day of work also happened to be Halloween so we threw a party at our house. Since this was my last time hosting a party with these girls we went all out. Chili bar, "blood" splattered cookies, cobwebs and bats and candy, candy and more candy! Like all our late nights this one also somehow ended with us sitting on the floor singing along to show tunes and Disney songs. It's weird and wonderful and how every night should end.

I didn't get too long to recover from our big night as I had a billion more boxes to pack before the movers came. You  don't realize how much stuff you own until you have to box it all up. I managed to purge and give a lot of things away but still... I hope T.J.'s ready for me. My room looked like an episode of hoarders and was a total obstacle course/maze/fire hazard for a couple days. Fortunately my mom came back to help me get everything sorted out on Monday.  She also provided much needed emotional support during all the tearful goodbyes.

Aside from helping me pack she hand addressed ALLLLL the invitations. And then we stamped, stuffed, licked, sealed and mailed them out on Monday! It is such a weight off my shoulders (and my mom's) having this checked off the list.

I had my last night in my bedroom before the moving truck arrived bright and early Tuesday morning.  They made quick work of all my boxes and soon I was looking at an empty room. The movers pulled away and my one roommate came home from work for a long lunch break and my other roommate walked across the street from her house.  We needed to hang out just a little while longer, and put off the inevitable for a little while longer.
Then the car company came to load up my jeep and send it West with all my other belongings. I was a big ball of conflicted emotions. Desperate to hang on to these last moments of my familiar life and my people a little longer, but anxious, excited, and ready to get on the road and start my new adventure. 
I've been so settled there for the past almost four years it just really hasn't set in that I've finished that chapter of my life. I'm up at my parents now for a little while and it still sort of feels like I'm just up here for a break and that after the weekend is over I'll be heading back down to my house and those girls and my job and picking up the old routine. But that's not the case this time. We've made lots of promises and plans to always keep a visit on the calendar, it makes the time in between easier. I'm so looking forward to all being together again for OUR WEDDING! And then there's talk of them coming out to Washington in the Spring. It will be so fun to have friends out to my new home. And there will be new traditions and more weddings and hopefully one day baby showers and joint family vacations. But I hope we still do pizza nights, only next time with T.J. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2 week notice

I put in my 2 weeks at work last Friday and the moving truck comes to take away all my stuff two weeks from today.  Only two more weeks at my current job is actually pretty exciting. No more metro! I am ready to kiss that office goodbye and spend the rest of the time before the wedding flitting around from here to New Jersey, to South Carolina to Washington and repeat. I'll be playing and planning and taking care of all the last minute details for our big day and the big move.

But then it hits me, and my throat catches and I remember that means I only have two more weekends at my current address with my people. 
That's just two more weeks of coming home from work to our town home with the tissue paper pom poms hanging in the corners, that we never took down after my roommates engagement party. Just two more weeks of groceries on my shelf of the cupboard. Of sitting in my corner of the couch eating candy corn and catching up on each other's days. 

We'll only share two more episodes of Walking Dead together, with my roommates and their guys. All of us squeezed onto the couch in our living room, with the lights off, feeling jumpy.  I'm really going miss that. I'm even gonna miss the part where we all snap at each other to stop talking! when the commercials are over.
I won't be a part of our homemade pizza nights anymore. And even though I really prefer to just order delivery, I'm gonna miss giving them a hard time about it. Plus pizza nights usually ended with my iPod speakers blaring all our favorite songs and all of us gathered around the kitchen table like a family...

I'm going to miss my roommate's boyfriend, and my other roommate's husband (so technically not my roommate anymore but they live literally across the street so that's what I call her). They've been like brothers.

Only two weeks, means only two weeks!

I really can't bear to think too hard about how short a time we have left.  After 8 years, from freshmen year of college to almost five years out, of having roommates, and dividing up fridge space, and taking turns emptying the dishwasher, and splitting rent, and sharing life with friends who are more like sisters... it feels like it's all wrapping up. ("It's the end of an era!" Friend's reference anyone??)

The next two weeks will involve boxes and bubble wrap. I'm taking stuff off my walls. Forwarding my mail. Shipping my car.  My next roommate will be my husband. And I am so excited and ready and I can't wait to be out there with T.J. What an adventure!

But I am really going to hold on so so very tightly to these next two weeks. And even still, when my mom comes to help me move out and then we finally have to drive away, I know two weeks won't have been enough.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Shower and Bachelorette Weekend

Last weekend I was showered in love and some lovely presents by my friends and family! My sister and maid of honor planned such a special weekend for me and I felt so blessed to be surrounded by so many of my favorite ladies! Most of my bridesmaids made the trip out for the weekend which I was so excited about. It's not too often that I get to spend a weekend with all my best friends and I know it's a lot to ask of these busy girls to take time out of their lives for all the different wedding festivities.

On Friday, while we were waiting for everyone to arrive, sister and I snuck away for my dress fitting. I was so excited she was able to join me, and reassure me about the alteration decisions, and practice dancing in the dress with me. And it was nice to have a little one on one time with just her.

After several trips to the airport to collect everyone we finally were all under the same roof. We picked up takeout pizzas and salads, popped a couple bottles of wine and got caught up. Then we all watched Pitch Perfect and sang along, because of course.

The next morning we got dressed, loaded up the cars and headed over to the Annapolis area for my very own shower! Along with my sister, one of my childhood friends and her mom hosted it at their home and it was just the sweetest afternoon. They thought of so many cute details, including an adorable green candy bar (as nod to my wedding colors and my undying love for candy) yummy chicken salad sandwiches, and fun games like a bridal version of Scattegories (the women in my family LOVE Scattegories).
Along with these bridesmaids, both grandmas and most my aunts were able to make the trip, as well as a bunch of local family friends. It was so great to visit with everyone before the wedding and I was so excited to receive so many wonderful gifts off my registry and some really personal gifts that I can't wait to set up and use in our new home! 

After the shower we came home and napped and then all my friends wore black dresses and I slipped into something red. I'm not really use to being the center of attention but I've decided that once in a while is okay with me. We had some pre-dinner snacks and then I blushed the entire time I opened up some pretty lingerie. In between each gift my sister asked me questions which she had secretly asked T.J. to answer to test my knowledge of my husband to be. I still have a few things to learn I'm sure (that's an understatement) but I did pretty well!

We then piled into a couple of ubers and headed to my favorite Mexican restaurant in D.C, El Centro DF, for copious amounts of chips and salsa and tacos (and maybe a couple margaritas). Then we strolled a couple blocks over to break in our dancing shoes. Being the bachelorette has some perks and we were able to skip the lines and dance the night away in a vip area without being accosted by any sketchy people. 
We stayed out much later than I have in a looonnnng time before jumping back into cabs and heading home. It was a perfect girls night out and just what I wanted for my bachelorette!

After brunch the following morning everyone was headed home. They left me to work on thank you notes and to figure out the best strategy for packing up all my stuff to ship across the country next month... fortunately after my shower I have a ton of boxes piling up in my room and mom is coming to help me sort it out next week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

weekend camping trip

My family used to go camping all the time back when we were kids.
When we were all under the same roof/in the same country/same state, we'd load up the trunk with all the gear and head out into the great outdoors.

I remember "helping" dad put up the tent. I remember crisp Fall air and bundling up in fleeces and long johns, sipping hot coco in camp chairs. Hiking up to waterfalls or down to beaches where we'd hunt sharks' teeth. Dinner would be cooked on the grill or propane stove and dessert was always dad's famous peach cobbler made in a cast iron dutch oven over the fire. And in the evenings we'd all snuggle down in sleeping bags after our hair was checked for tics and then usually one of us would read out loud before we'd all fall asleep, nice a cozy like.

I have been telling T.J. how badly I want to go camping with him. I think it would be such a fun way for us to explore the west coast and I am definitely going to look into acquiring our own tent and dutch oven.

But in the meantime... I actually did get to go camping last weekend with my aunt, uncle and two cousins.  I met up with them Saturday morning on Assateague Island over in Berlin, Maryland. I had been here once before with my parents and distinctly remember there was a horrendous thunderstorm and dad had to dig a trench/moat around the tent so we wouldn't float away.

I had a bit of a calmer experience this visit. This sliver of an island is not too far from Ocean City and is home to actual wild horses. They roam freely across the bridges, into the marshes, weaving in and out of the camp sites, and running down the beach into the ocean to play.
We camped in the State park and were just feet from the ocean and even though it was cloudy and windy and overcast I somehow still found myself in the water. I was going to take full advantage of the last weekend in summer and the surplus of boogie boards. Basically I got to be a kid again. I ditched the "grown ups" and ran head first into the waves with my cousins.
Assateague has really unpredictable weather and soon the wind drove us into hot showers. Sweatshirts and leggings and layers were required for the evening. While we waited for the sun to set and for the grown ups to make us kids dinner my cousin taught me how to ripstick (like skateboarding but not). I sort of/kind of/not really got it eventually but not before taking a nice big wipe-out that my booty is still paying for.
With the sun setting we had hot dogs, brats, baked beans and iced tea around the picnic table. Then, in keeping with my "never grow up" attitude, me and the cousins and the other kids played a couple intense rounds of manhunt in the dark.

 Once we were sufficiently worn out we settled around the fire for s'mores. Before calling it a night, we grabbed nets and head lamps and ventured down to the beach to hunt (and the promptly release) ghost crabs.
Typically I prefer tent camping but it was super damp, and humid, and also pretty chilly, that I was thankful for the more solid camper for sleeping that night. The next day we were greeted with gourmet hand-dipped donuts from the Fractured Prune. Dunkin Donuts has nothing on these hot from the oven, melt in your mouth treats. I had the OC Sand which gets a honey glaze before it's tossed in cinnamon sugar.
After my donut I promptly headed back to the beach and then happily took a nap in the sand with one of my favorite sounds in the whole world, crashing waves, lulling me to sleep.  After my nap and a bit of lunch I said goodbye to the beach and my relatives and headed home. I am so glad I got to have a little getaway with this family of mine. I have loved living close by and having family in town to run to when I need a break, or a comfortable place to just be. Truly it's made my time in Maryland infinitely sweeter and I can't help but feel sad that I won't be able to see them whenever I want anymore. But I will definitely be taking advantage of every opportunity to spend time with them before I move and I know they'll make their way across the country to visit me on the West coast. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A whole week in Washington.

I took a bit of a blogging break the past couple weeks. I was on the go and when I finally landed I had to play catch up on sleep and laundry first before I could catch up here.

After my roommate's wedding I kept on moving and flew out to Washington to see my fiance for an actual week! We've gotten accustomed to long weekend visits so it was such a nice treat to have 8 whole days together. It's crazy to think that in 103 days I will get to see him everyday (for the most part, except for when the hospital owns him overnight).

So anyway, T.J. picked me up from the airport and relief just washed over me, like it always does when I see him after being away. I'm just so relieved to see him standing in front of me, my real-life-in-person fiance, instead of just a voice on the other end of the phone. This was our longest period of separation and I always feel this tension building the longer we're apart. Usually one of our visits can sustain me for like a week or so. But then around week two I start to get moodier and I lose my patience more, until finally it's like I just want to shout "why am I doing anything instead of getting on a plane to see T.J.?!"
While I was out there I tried to soak in every minute. This was a different sort of visit since T.J. still had to work during the week, usually he's the one visiting me and getting left at home during the day. Since I didn't have a car, I kept myself busy around our house. I did some deep cleaning and got him caught up on laundry (while I got caught up on Pretty Little Liars... yes I'm basically a 14 year old girl, but it's so good!) And since Washington was enjoying beautiful weather again I went on walks and explored the neighborhood and the little town. I got to enjoy cooking for two instead of one. And we had dinner together when he got home in the evenings.

I got a pretty good idea during that week of what the day-to-day out there will look like. I also got an idea of how much time to myself I might have and thus confirmed the need to find something to do out there. (I'm working on it.)

When we planned my visit we were happy to find that it overlapped with a little weekend getaway for the ortho residents. T.J. along with all the other residents and their families got off work early on Friday. We drove 4 hours across the mountains to Leavenworth and we listened to country music all the way there as we drove through more of our new and unexplored state. Sometimes I forget that we are 3,500 miles away from "home" and it just blows my mind when I think about where we are on the map.

The older resident's wives organize the retreat and we had three lodges all next to each other tucked away in the mountains. It felt just like fall, crisp and fresh, and it was so pretty with hammocks to relax in, outdoor fire pits, and the sound of the river near by.
We spent most of the weekend hanging out with everyone and getting to know the other families. I took advantage of their experience and asked a bunch of questions about relocating, getting my military id, changing my name, and all that fun stuff. T.J. got also caught up on the sleep he doesn't get during the week and we headed down the mountain to explore the little touristy area. Leavenworth is a Bavarian town and apparently quite the fun spot for Octoberfest activities. It has tons of wineries and breweries and lots of places to enjoy brats with sauerkraut and big German pretzels. 
We stopped for a pint at Icicle Brewing Company before heading back to the cabins for dinner and s'mores. There I snapped the only picture with T.J. from my entire visit, and even more sad is there are zero of the two of us. Bad Shannon. 
It was a fun little getaway and we enjoyed seeing more of our new home outside of the army base and our neighborhood. We headed back to our house Sunday afternoon, grabbed burgers on the way home, and then spent the rest of the day reading on the couch (futon).

Even a whole week visit seemed to fly by much too quickly and I was more than a little bummed to be packing up and heading back East Monday morning. These longer visits are so much better than short weekends but they are so much harder to break away from. I got another glimpse of Mt. Rainier as I left behind Washington and I thanked my lucky stars that soon I will be flying back for good (well, for five years at least) and putting down roots here with my guy.