Thursday, May 28, 2015

Leave Part 1: Portland

T.J. and I finally got to take some leave together! Multiple uninterrupted days in row. Hasn't happened since our mini moon. Waking up in the morning together (and not just for a bleary eyed kiss as he heads out the door to work) and having someone to wrangle the puppy with me was glorious.

We booked our getaway before we got Mr. Hunley and after confirming the hotels were dog friendly we decided to bring him along for the ride. And let's just say we learned a lot about traveling with a puppy and about ourselves....hah.
We left Friday afternoon and headed South to Portland, Oregon for Friday and Saturday night. We stayed at the Riverplace Hotel by the waterfront which ended up being great since there wasn't much green space elsewhere in the city for our puppy to do his business. Honestly most of our time there was spent taking Hunley out, making sure Hunley didn't have an accident in the hotel room (he did), keeping Hunley from eating cigarettes off the ground, and stopping every five feet for strangers to pet Hunley. He was the cutest puppy in Portland I'll have you know, and quite the celebrity in the VooDoo Doughnut queue.

Long story short, we gave him his first bath on this trip because he was so gross from all the city grime. It definitely made us appreciate living out in the burbs. We also stayed in the hotel more than we might have normally, which was okay because T.J. especially needed this time to rest and relax and regroup before getting back to the grind this coming month. Also, I love family naps. 

On Saturday morning we braved the Saturday Market which sufficiently stressed the pup out enough that we could leave him napping in the hotel for the afternoon and sneak out by ourselves for a couple of hours. We used the streetcar to get around and stopped in a couple breweries to unwind without a wet dog in our laps. 
We both agreed we might need to come back to Portland without Hunley to properly experience all it has to offer, live and learn though. On Sunday morning we loaded up the crate, the dog bed, the luggage, and headed to greener pastures and wide open spaces in the Columbia River Gorge. Can't wait to show you more!

Friday, May 22, 2015

learning to love Seattle

T.J. spent the first month of our married lives doing an away rotation at a hospital in Seattle. The Army set him up in an apartment walking distance from said hospital and so I spent most every weekend of that long month in that apartment with him.

Honestly my first impression of Seattle was not great. It was January when I first got there. And it was cold and rainy and on the very first day T.J took me out to explore we had a really unsettling encounter with someone just one block outside the apartment door and I felt fearful and unwelcome, something I've never experienced in the big cities I've lived near before. London, New York, D.C are some of my favorite places in the world and I wanted to add Seattle to that list. But I couldn't get my mind to stop focusing on the darker sides, the grunge, the impossible parking, the heart wrenching homeless, the fact that the weather always seemed to be a little bit gloomier than it was just a bit further south.

To be fair, we had some sunshiney, happy moments in Seattle that month I mean we're newlyweds so I basically floated around in a lovey dovey haze, but in general I was pretty disappointed in what the city had to offer. Especially since before moving out here a bunch of folks told me that I'd really like it, that they could see me there.

I credit some of that distaste with the fact that T.J. was working the night shift all month, and the apartment was not our home and I spent most of my days up there watching daytime tv while T.J. napped.

Since that rotation ended back in February we've really only been back to the city a couple times. But when my parents came out to visit I knew they'd want to go. My dad especially wanted to see the Pikes Fish Market, which T.J. and I had visited on a gloomy Monday back in January and didn't see what all the fuss was about. But I wanted to play tour guide and since it was Mother's Day we made a brunch reservation at the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle and then planned to hit up some of the other Seattle hot spots.
We had beautiful weather that day and found parking really easily near the space needle, already a better start than our previous excursions. In my opinion the Sky City restaurant is the best way to "do the Space Needle" because it's a pretty reasonable fixed price 3-course meal and it includes your elevator ticket to the observation deck which on it's own would be expensive, this way you get more bang for your buck.  When we arrived, we simply checked in with the reservation desk and we got to go on up to the observation deck while we waited for our table. Then we got to enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the city while the restaurant slowly rotated during a really yummy meal. Maybe it's really touristy but I don't care because the food was good, and the company was great. This was T.J.'s and my first time to the Space Needle and I love that we got to share it with my parents for a special Mother's Day.
After stuffing ourselves we spent a bit more time on the observation deck before taking the elevator back down and heading out to our next destination. From up above we had noticed a monorail and after a quick google we determined it was the perfect way to get to Pikes Public market. The monorail, like the space needle, was built for the World's fair and it goes back and forth between the needle and the market, plus it's soooo much cheaper than a cab and we appreciated that we didn't have to move our car.

When we got to the market I was honestly a little surprised. It looked completely different than the day T.J. and I came to visit. There were the flower stalls I'd heard talk of all along the entire market with beautiful blossoms, and tons of people were milling about with fresh bouquets and smiles. We made it through the crowds to the fish stall and I realized I'd judged the whole thing too soon. There they were throwing fish back and forth, and filleting them up for folks to take home and enjoy. And it's loud and crazy and pretty awesome and T.J. and I definitely want to go back and get something to bring home and grill out.
Walking around with my parents I got excited that we had this whole new city to explore and show off to visiting friends and family. I want to go back and be less of a tourist, and find new restaurants, and local shops and hidden spots, and I want to embrace this quirky, grungy, beautiful city.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

a new first

My parents came to visit us last week and it was wonderful.
I hadn't seen them since the wedding and I had been looking forward to having them in our home for so long.  It was something so special to me, like a rite of passage, one of those unexpected firsts, a sacred moment that I didn't realize I'd feel so deeply. The first time my parents come to visit, it felt surreal. This was an occurrence I celebrated as a kid when my parents' parents would come visit, and now it feels like my turn.

I picked them up from the airport for the first time as their married daughter and then we made our way to the house pointing out the sights along the way. My parents helped me move about a million times. From their home, to the dorm room, to the off-campus apartment, to South Carolina, then D.C., and then to the West Coast. And after that move they are off the hook - now I'm T.J.'s problem ;)  I was excited for them to finally see where I now call home. After years of bearing witness to my childhood spent playing house, and building forts in our basement or underneath trees in our backyard, now I would get to show them my own home, a childhood daydream lived out

I wanted them to see where I cook dinner for our little family, where I go grocery shopping, our favorite places to eat out. I wanted them to get a feel for the neighborhood and go on a long walk with me to the water down the road. I wanted to show off our new long awaited couch, the first piece of furniture we bought as a married couple. I wanted to have dinner together around the dining table that they gifted us for our wedding. I wanted them to be able to picture me at the kitchen counter when we're chatting on the phone like I picture them.

I would have been content to just cozy up with them on the couch with a cup of tea and soak them in before they headed back to the east coast, too many miles away.  But since they had never been to Washington before I made sure they got a good taste of this pretty little slice of the Pacific Northwest.

We lucked out with beautiful sunny weather for the first couple days they were in town and so we headed out to Tumwater Falls near Olympia. This was a spot I'd never been before and it was a sweet little oasis in the middle of the city where in the August through September months you can watch the salmon run while you enjoy the cool mist off the waterfalls.
We then made our way into the center of my new state capital and strolled along the waterfront checking out the boats and the people before settling down for a nice lunch outside. Then we toured around the capital mall and basically mom and I spent the rest of the visit drooling over all the huge, blossoming rhododendrons.
On our way home we stopped at the base to pick up a few things for dinners that week from the commissary and my mom made a comment to my dad, "did you ever imagine we'd be shopping at the commissary on an Army base out in Washington Sate with our daughter?"  Never in my childhood daydreams of playing house could I have imagined where God would take me. Washington was never on a list of places I'd could see myself living and loving. And growing up listening to stories from my grandparents of their adventures, I never thought I'd one day also be tied to the military. Oh how amazing the things we don't know we don't know.
Saturday we went to one of our favorite places for dinner and didn't mind waiting a little longer for a table on their rooftop deck. We go for the view of the water, the ferries coming and going, the mountains in the distance, the sunset.  And I felt like I was letting them in on a secret- getting to show them this pretty place we call ours for the time being. It was a great start to their visit. What I hope will be the first of many, perfect visits with my family.

**see my mom's post here

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes....

...A puppy!!! 

Meet the newest member of our little family: Hunley. 
Typical newlywed move there. Basically a requirement for your first year of marriage, right? Get married, get a puppy. 

He is an 8 week old Boykin spaniel, he's a ball of chocolate love and I'm so smitten!  We brought him home yesterday and he is settling in quite nicely. T.J. had to work so my parents drove with me to pick him up and then I sent T.J. this text: 
Seriously we may never get anything done ever again because all I want to do is play with this boy all day long! 

We named him Hunley after the submarine in Charleston, SC by the same name. A little homage to our roots, plus the Boykin spaniel is the state dog of South Carolina so it seemed adorable and appropriate.
So far he has been such a little love, always wanting to be held and going from person to person for cuddles. But I have a feeling he's going to be a stinker once he gets more comfortable with his new home. Although... judging by this picture of my two guys below (heart melt), he already seems pretty relaxed here!

So in love with our little brown dog!!