Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Zee Hodgepodge

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you're planted as we begin the month of May?
Ummm.... honestly that's a tough one for me. I feel like I'm basically in the process of unplanting myself from this spot and it's making feel rootless and restless. Also, a little unstable and like I have one foot out the door of my house, my job, my place.

2. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.
Well, since my sister and my roommates all rank at an eleventy-twelve on the panic scale, I have been forced to be more of 7.  Until the day when I can live with T.J., I just have to man up, roll up a magazine, and kill all the bugs. And yes I might scream and freak out but I also simultaneously act quickly. The trick is to not think about it for too long or else you'll loose them in your house. And that is so much worse....
3. May is National Salad Month (who knew???)...besides lettuce, what are two must-have ingredients in your favorite salad?
Tomatoes and mimis which is what I called tomatoes when I was a kid. Basically I just love tomatoes.

4. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington), Mt. Rainer (Washington) Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt. St. Helens (Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington). 
I am really looking forward to the chance to explore some of the wild wild west during our time out in Washington. Firstly, we are going to be living in plain sight of Mt. Rainier so I'm excited to do lots of hiking there and maybe even go camping which I haven't gotten to do in years.  TJ will also do some training rotations at a civilian hospital in Seattle and I actually know people there that I can visit! And then after that I'd like to just check off each of these sights one at a time. I feel so blessed that I get to experience a whole different part of the country with T.J. Yes he's going to be working long crazy hours at the hospital and truthfully he's not going to have a ton of free time. But I am going to make the most of what we get!
5. This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby...when did you last race to cross a finish line?
Yeah. I don't like to race. And I especially don't like to run.
6. What is something little you love?
Oh you know... just my new favorite thing that is mine.
7. Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Elaborate.
Visual. If the teacher didn't write on the board or use graphics, and if I didn't simultaneously write down notes and copy the illustrations myself... I was not going to remember anything that was said.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
So the day has arrived. I made it to the end of the A-Z challenge.
I wish it ended on a cooler letter or that I at least had something really big to share.
I tell you what, though, T.J. really timed his proposal perfectly. The past few posts just wrote themselves.

Alas, I am out of big updates for the time being so 'Z' is a bit of a cop out. But I just wanted to say thanks for following along this month. I feel like I've gotten into a more consistent blogging habit and I hope to keep it up during all these upcoming exciting months!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just Say Yes

As my time in DC and on the East coast in general winds down (still don't have a date) I've adopted a totally freeing attitude towards how I'm spending my time.

I'm just saying "yes".
To all the things.

Fly to Greenville for a long weekend with my sister? Yes.
Beach trip with girlfriends? Yes
Another glass of wine? Yes
Mother's day with my mom? Yes
Try that restaurant we read about? Yes.
Come with me to get a manicure? Yes
Breaking Bad marathon and ice cream tonight? Yes and yes.

I won't be quick plane or train ride away from my family and my friends.
I will be an entire country apart.
Two different coasts.
Different time zones.
Different oceans.

I won't be working in this city. I won't be taking the metro anymore (thank you Lord). I won't be living with these girls who've become like second sisters. Now I have to live with a boy. (If you heard this line in Monica Geller's voice... we can be best friends).

When T.J. told me he was doing a rotation in Tacoma, Washington, when he told me it was the best program, and when he texted me pictures from Mt. Rainier and told me I would like it, I said yes.

Yes I can live there.
I can live anywhere, move anywhere in the world with you.
And, yes, I mean anywhere. To the moon and back.

He claims he maybe wouldn't have ranked Tacoma as his first choice if I hadn't been comfortable with it. But I was actually probably more excited than him. Honestly, I've been done with this city, kind of checked out, ever since I lost my heart to a boy who lives too far away. And then he was given a residency spot in the best place for him. So yes! Let's go!

But I not so naive to think that I'm going to just say peace out DC, that I wont miss my life and my friends and the familiar here. So I'm embracing it all. All the things I've put off doing and seeing. Pile it on please. I want to have lots of memories stored up from this time, however much is left.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Excuse the Mess

I have been meaning to do a home tour since I moved into my humble abode over three years ago. And now that I will be moving out (at some point) I want to have pictures documenting this most wonderful house for posterity. So come on in, x-cuse the clutter and enjoy the photo dump!
When you first walk in this is what greets you. Our engagement banner is still hanging and still making me smile. As are the yellow and white pom-poms from my roommates engagement party (last year) that you can see in the corners of the room.  
The roommates' bedrooms are upstairs, to the right is the living room, in front of you is the dining room, and the kitchen is through the far doorway. Right next to the entrance is a bookshelf where keys and mail pile up and where my red cowboy boots have sat for longer than my roommates would have liked. You take a step down into the living space and more shoes accumulate around this bench filled with blankets for snuggling on the couch. 
Right here on the couch is where we spend most of time hanging out, unwinding after work, eating ice cream and watching Netflix marathons. Our coffee table has piles of wedding magazines, and Southern Livings, nail polish and remote controls. 
Here's where I sit to write my blog posts and scour Pinterest. 
We really love having both a dining table and a kitchen table even though it's a little unnecessary in our small space. We love to have the music playing in the kitchen, and homemade guacamole with chips on the table. 
The kitchen itself is a little cluttered with three girls sharing limited cabinet space and one fridge but we make it work. In this picture you can see the crockpot out on the counter with my roommate's Chicken Tinga making the whole house smell delicious.
Our fridge is covered with fun pictures, save the dates and of course we have a Walking Dead calendar.
Off to the side of the dining room is a half bath and the stair case to the basement, aka where I live. When you head downstairs it drops about 10 degrees which is always a shock at first but I actually don't mind it too much because I hate to be overly hot when I sleep. At the bottom of the stairs is my teeny tiny bathroom and our laundry room (which is too insanely cluttered and kinda creepy to be included on my blog). 
You then walk down a narrow hallway, into which I have managed to squeeze a bookshelf, and step down into my bedroom. 
I have quite a bit of space down there and am able to fit my bed and a day bed, great for when people visit, and still have enough room to have dance parties or to do yoga if I so choose. 
Above my daybed is the huge world map I had framed (see the details on that project here). And across the room is my cluttered desk and all my guitar stuff. 
And that's it! I have made so many good memories here. I have had the most wonderful roommates who are really like sisters. I love living with them, sharing this space, doing life together. This house has blessed me so much more than I could ever say! Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for I've been holding out on you.

So my beloved blog readers. I have not been entirely honest with you.
It's really more a lie of omission in that I haven't shared a big huge thing that's been brewing in my life. I've been keeping a big secret, waiting for the right time to share the news, not wanting to put the cart before the horse, and it's been really hard (if you know my secret keeping track record). I alluded to it here and there but now I'm going to give it to you straight up.

I will be trading Washington D.C for Washington state.

Phew. It feels good to get that off my chest. Thanks for letting me share.
buh bye now.

psych! I wouldn't do that to you, drop a bomb and then walk away, but I don't know the exact when, or the how. I just know the why and that's T.J.

He will be starting his 5 year surgical residency at Madigan Army Medical Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Tacoma, Washington.
So we are heading out West!

I'm not sure I've ever really mentioned that he's in the Army or that he's in med school before but I am now. We are so excited for this new adventure! I've never been to the West Coast before and I just think it will be the funnest thing to start our new lives together in a brand new place.

A place that can be just ours in a new town.
Where we can find our favourite place to become regulars.
Where I'll cook my first Thanksgiving dinner and we'll decorate our first Christmas tree.

Washington is where we will move into our first house that we'll make into a home.
Where we'll have cookouts when it's not raining, and movie nights when it is.
Where we'll make new friends and start newlywed lives.

W is for Washington- here we come!

Friday, April 25, 2014

5 Things Friday

So today I am combining my A-Z post with the 5 on Friday link up to share five things I am VERY excited about today.  Also... I know all I've talked about this week is T.J and all our fun plans. I don't want this blog to be totally taken over by wedding talk but just bear with me for a few posts here and there along the way...
this post being one of them.
one. Our families are meeting for the first time next month at T.J.'s graduation. I still haven't met some of his relatives who will be there and I can't wait to introduce our parents. My mom has always said you're not just marrying the guy, you're marring their family as well and I am looking forward to having time with everyone that weekend as a newly-engaged couple. 

two. Getting engagement photos back! The photographer T.J. arranged posted a couple teaser pics on Facebook last night and now I just keep looking at them over and over again and reliving the day. I can't wait to see the rest of them! 
three.We get to plan whatever fun details we can without having a date yet. There's not a lot you can do without a date so I'm treading carefully and trying not to get ahead of myself but a few things I can start thinking about are: the wedding party, colors, a save-the-date template (so we can just pop in the day and send 'em), guest lists, etc. And let's be honest... once we set a date, whenever it is, I can relax because everything else has been planned since I was like 10. 

four. I just remembered- we get to register!!! 
five. It's finally Friday!! This week has been a really hard one at work. It's been insanely busy, and stressful, and it's felt like the office is trying to steal my joy. But the weekend is here and I'm going to stay on cloud nine and sleep in!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Under Pressure

Yesterday's post was all about trusting in God's timing. The beauty of how He work's out everything for good. And even though I know all those things... right now, timing is a tricky subject for me. The first question someone asks after you get engaged is "when's the big day?" and that is currently not exactly an easy question to answer.

A lot of the timing of our new adventure is completely out of mine and T.J.'s hands. I am trusting that things will happen when they are supposed to happen, that I don't need to worry because it will all work out just right. But I can't help but feel the pressure to have a date, a time frame, a general season,  figured out because T.J. and I live very far apart and I am so over that!

So in lieu of those sometimes anxious feelings that I don't want creeping up, here's my mantra... Psalm 37:4.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Timing and The What If Game

I am guilty of playing the "what if" game. Don't we all fall prey to that trap sometimes. You're brain leads you down a rabbit hole of possibilities and unknowns and circumstances that may or may not ever come to fruition. I like to rationalize this spiral thinking as simply being prepared for all possible outcomes. Usually it's all worse case scenarios that very easily make me dizzy with worry. If this than that. If that than this.

But sometimes... in reverse, the "if game" isn't so bad.

If my parents hadn't dragged me overseas.
If I had gone to a different college.
If I had met different friends.
If I had studied more, and played less.
If I had never moved to DC.
If the timing hadn't been perfect.

If God hadn't worked all these things together just right, I wouldn't be who I am, where I am, as happy as I am, right now.
Above is the first picture I can find of both T.J. and I. It's a throwback to the last day of classes senior year of college. We are playing in the fountains in front of the library about to graduate and head out into the world. And if you had told me then, that 4 years later we'd be engaged I would not have believed you. 

God's timing is so good.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Sweetest Weekend

Friday I had to work but I was still floating on air so I didn't mind going in. It was so fun to tell people at the office and flash my left hand. After work, T.J. and I took the train up to my parents house. Both mom and dad greeted us at the station and there were hugs and congratulations exchanged.

We drove back to the house with mom and I riding in the back seat together. We were just giddy the whole way. Pulling into the garage, sister ran out to greet us. There was of course more jumping up and down at this point. She and I have basically been waiting for this day since we were just little girls playing dress-up and taking turns putting one of mom's old slips on our head like a veil and pretending to be a bride.

Inside were were greeted by another champagne celebration and more surprises! Seriously, it's been like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one these past couple days. The sweet bag from my sister contained more wedding magazines and the pink package from my parents had THE BEST Erin Condren wedding planner with mine and T.J.'s name on the cover, plus tons of stickers and cool tabs and colorful markers which are basically love languages of mine.
Dad said the first of many toasts that would make me feel weepy that weekend and then we sat down to a late dinner where we enjoyed Chicken Divan which happens to be the first dish my mom ever cooked for my dad and then we indulged in those pretty pale pink vanilla almond cupcakes that my sister made.

The next morning sister and I, who got to have a sleepover all weekend, woke up and immediately started looking at my Pinterest wedding boards which I am now officially allowed to shamelessly pin to. We then headed downstairs for breakfast and then spent the rest of the lazy morning and afternoon finally enjoying some warm weather out on the patio and staring at my ring in the bright sunshine and forcing the boys to dye Easter eggs. We've been doing it for 20+ years and we're not about to stop now.
All day my parents were talking about the secret plans they had made for us that evening. They told us to be ready to go at 5:45 sharp but they wouldn't tell T.J. or I where we were going or what we would be doing. So we all started getting ready (p.s I love getting ready with my sister) and then at 5:45 we headed out the door and saw a black sedan waiting in the driveway!
I was pretty sure we were heading into NYC, and I knew dinner was involved but even once we were in the car they wouldn't spill the beans. Instead we answered trivia about the restaurant- which actually confused me even more. When we couldn't guess, they finally divulged where we were headed, One If By Land, Two If By Sea. It was once Aaron Burr's carriage house, which we learned during the trivia challenge, and it is such a romantic restaurant. Clustered chandeliers, brick walls, arched windows, uneven hard wood floors, tons of candlelight. Evidently it's also haunted, possibly by Aaron Burr himself, but regardless, it was beautiful!
Luckily I love champagne, because we started the evening off with a glass and my dad shared the sweetest words that he wrote down for me to save-advice, encouragement and well wishes that I will definitely treasure.
We then proceeded to have a long, indulgent, three course meal. Everything was delicious and I highly recommend the beef wellington which is their specialty.  We all got dessert but we were also treated to a special tray of salted chocolate caramel nibs and what I can only describe as homemade passion fruit marshmallows.
It's hard to explain really, but this was such a special dinner. My parents went above and beyond to mark this occasion, to recognize T.J. and I, and it was so wonderful to be with my family and my new fiance around the same table celebrating us. It was simply a great night! So great, in fact, that I fell asleep in the car on the way home.
Easter Sunday came with it's sunshine and it's empty tomb and beautiful promises. This is the first real holiday T.J. and I have spent together and it made the day even more special. Church was followed by the yummy and comforting lunch of baked ham and deviled eggs of course. And then for a special after lunch treat I tried on my mom's wedding dress. I felt a little bit like I was playing dress-up again but it was really special to put on that dress that I've memorized from the pictures in my parent's wedding album, studied hundreds of times before.

Sadly I had to change back into real clothes and then drop off my sister, her boyfriend, and my fiance at the airport before heading to the train station which was the only downside to a perfect weekend!

(P.S. I borrowed some of these pictures from my mom's blog. She's been posting all about the weekend on her blog as well!)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Quite the Long Engagement Recap

Today I am combining letters Q and R for the A to Z Challenge to put together quite the long recap. Because twice the letters means twice as long, hope you don't mind. I want to have everything about this weekend recorded while it's still so fresh in my mind, so let's dive on in. 

Thursday started simply like any other day. TJ was in town visiting and we had plans to go into Old Town, Alexandria that night to meet one of his med school friends, Dan, and his parents for dinner. With that in mind I got dressed, TJ dropped me off at the metro like he does every other time he's in town, and I headed to work. 

My roommate's fiancé, who works in the office right next door to me, took me out for lunch that day which was a nice treat but not anything out of the ordinary. I was in an especially good mood and work was especially busy so the day passed quickly. 

TJ arrived around 5:15 to pick me up so we could metro to Alexandria together like we'd planned. But at 5:30 I was still typing away, sending emails and trying to put out fires before I could leave. In hindsight he seemed a little impatient to get out the door but I thought he was just bored and I really didn't think anything of it. On the ride there I asked TJ about the people we were meeting, how to pronounce their last name, what they did for work, what TJ knew about them from past visits.

When we arrived at our stop we just missed the trolley into town and the next one wasn't for another 15 minutes. He told me their house was by the waterfront, which was too far to walk, so TJ quickly made the decision to jump into one of the waiting cabs.

In the cab his friend even called and said they were running late, that his parents were picking him up from the airport, and they would be meet us at their house soon. I was then concerned that we would be interrupting family time as he was just getting in to town but TJ assured me that would not be the case.

We arrived at Founders Park and walked to a bench near the water to wait. It happened to be a beautiful, sunny, crisp, cool evening and I insisted on taking a picture of the view and one of the two of us for the blog, of course. 

After a minute or so TJ began saying that he had kind of lied to me a bit today but that he would never lie to me again. Huh, I thought? He said we were not there at that spot to wait for Dan or his family, in fact Dan was not even in town (although his parents do live by the waterfront). He then started saying the sweetest things and I was still completely clueless. I was just nodding and smiling along, but then suddenly I realized what his words were leading to. And before I knew what was what, he moved off the bench, got down on one knee, my heart pounded out of my chest, and I started to feel the tears welling up. He pulled a box out of his pocket, asked me to marry him and I said yes! 

I can't even remember what exactly he said just then because the excitement of that moment has overwhelmed my memory. But I know it felt unreal and like a daze. And then a ring was on my finger and I was stunned. 

Literally the most surprised I have ever been. I did not see it coming one bit. I  was not expecting it that night, or this weekend at all. Oh it was the best, most perfect surprise of my life! 

We kissed and hugged and I couldn't believe we were engaged!! I exclaimed over the beautiful new ring on my hand. And then he pointed out the photographer lurking off to the side. He had arranged, with the help of my roommate, for her friend to take photos of the whole thing and I hadn't even noticed her standing there!

When I say TJ had thought of everything, I mean everything

After jumping up and down a few more times and allowing me to attempt to catch my breath, we walked over to the photographer. I got to show off my ring for the first time and then I got to take the first photos with my new fiancé! Ahhh!! I have a fiancé! We walked around the park with her for a few minutes and kissed for the camera, not that we needed to be told to kiss. And I just cannot wait to see those pictures because I am sure I look like the most love struck fool you ever did see. 

After our photo session, the night was far from over. Little by little more of TJ's planning secrets came out. I learned that everyone was in on it, that he had asked my dad months ago, met with sister way back in January, and had the ring picked out and in his possession since February. He had also driven my car into town earlier in the day so we wouldn't have to deal with the cold or the hassle of the metro on our way home. He had planned out the perfect spot and mapped out where to park and everything. So we hoped in the car and moved it closer to the restaurant, Vermillion, where TJ had made reservations. We were shown to our table where flowers and champagne, also arranged by TJ, were waiting. 

We clinked glasses, and toasted to the best night ever and I was beaming from ear to ear the whole time. I was sure people could tell I had just gotten engaged, surely I had to look noticeably different. 
We shared steak tartare for an appetizer, then I enjoyed Maryland rockfish and TJ had Berkshire Pork for our main courses. We then declined dessert but the chef brought us a treat to share anyway. Everything was delicious and I savoured every minute with just the two of us.

When we left the restaurant we started calling everyone. I never thought I had a very big family until I had to call everyone in it. Hah. First on the list obviously was my parents and my sister who were anxiously awaiting my call all together, because of course they already had known tonight was the night. 

It was so fun to say the words "I'm engaged!" and to relay the story over and over. We called grandparents and a couple aunts and uncles in the car before we got back to the house. When we pulled into our parking spot I was little disappointed to see that the house looked dark, which meant my roommates were either out or already asleep. But when we walked inside, flipped on the lights, they jumped out, popped champagne and I screamed in excitement! 
They had hung a banner with our names and had more dessert and a present waiting for us. Okay... So the gift was mostly for me (wedding magazines, a clipboard, a cute gardening trowel for our future home, and the book "The Meaning of Marriage" by Tim Keller) but TJ was excited just the same. 
Before that night I had been under the impression that we wouldn't be getting engaged until at least next month- at his graduation weekend when both our families would be in town,maybe later. That's what I had been speculating and what his co-conspirators had been encouraging me to think as well. But TJ wanted this weekend to just be about us, without graduation festivities distracting from it, which is so thoughtful of him and it couldn't have been more perfect! 
The next day we headed up to my parents to continue the celebration. More posts, and more pictures to follow! Also, I just wanted to say that if there is ever time to just adore social media it's when you get engaged. I have felt so much love these past couple days. Thank you for all the comments and well wishes on my blog/Facebook/Instagram. We are feeling so blessed! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Best Post

Today is Good Friday. And this year it has a whole new meaning to me.
Yesterday was simply the best day ever because....

TJ asked me to marry him and I said YES!

P is for the most perfect proposal,
I promise to post the whole story when I can form complete sentences. But right now I just want to enjoy the moment and let it all sink in. Plus, I'm distracted by the new sparkly ring on my left hand and my head feels like it's floating and I'm not coming down anytime soon.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh Wow!

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I am just in a great mood today! 

It might have something to do with TJ coming to town last night. And that we got to cook dinner together and then we went to see Captain America, which was just okay but we got to whisper in a movie theater together. And we both had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. Yes, mine was enjoyed at the office and TJ got to eat his at my kitchen table but still... it makes me happy to have him close by and know that at the end of the day I get to come home to him. 

It might also have something to do with the fact that tomorrow we are heading up to my parents house to join my sister, whom I don't see even close to often enough, and her boyfriend for Easter weekend. And there will be Easter baskets and that precious time with my favorite people. And  I just might get to dye some eggs and I definitely will get to eat some deviled eggs which is one of my favorite foods. 

And I'm still filled up from yesterday's fun group text with 3 of my best friends, catching up and chatting about upcoming visits and plans and swapping selfies so we could all see each other right then and pretend we were hanging out together. We are all scattered hither and tither but I hope and pray that we always find ways back together. For weddings and birthdays and lake weekends and just "whatever excuse we need" weekends to be friends forever. 

Life just feels so very full right now. Of love and friendship and happy things to cheer about in each day. 

(And if you watch Friends you know exactly what episode this pic is from- it's one of my faves.)