A weekend in the woods

Well everyone may be all excited about PSL’s and riding boots, but I checked and the first day of fall technically isn’t until the 23rd, so technically it’s still summer and TECHNICALLY I can still recap the wrap-up of our summer activities without being considered late. Technically.

A few weeks ago I went to a little cabin in the woods with some girlfriends to relax and celebrate our friend Geraldine’s engagement. It was so nice to be in the middle of nowhere, just enjoying each other and (for me) disengaging from the city life. Thanks to Anne for hooking us up with the cutest little cabin for the weekend!

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It was an adventure getting my little Civic up the 89 degree gravel driveway, and it took some help but we finally got it up there. Thank goodness it wasn’t winter! Pretty much as soon as we arrived we headed out to Pippin Hill Vineyards before it closed. Even though I’m not a big wine drinker, I LOVE wineries and had heard great things about Pippin Hill. Definitely was not disappointed!

It was a stunningly gorgeous day and not surprisingly there was to be a wedding there later in the afternoon. Luckily we still had time to sit and have some apps and of course wine!

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I just loved the nature feel to the whole trip. It was a brief trip but so effective. Not being able to hear any highway noises or car alarms was sublime. I didn’t even mind the bugs hiding in every corner because hey, they’re the ones that are supposed to be there! Thanks for having us, bugs. We spent the night watching old Hollywood classics like Bridesmaids and woke up to crisp mountain air which was perfect for porching. We porched all morning, listening to music and chatting and soaking up the stillness. Breakfast of french toast with Nutella syrup was the perfect cap to soul-recharging couple days.

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It was fun to celebrate Geraldine’s upcoming wedding as her bridesmaids and also because our hostess has moved back to France once again, and won’t be around for other wedding activities as we get closer to the big day. I’m thankful for friends like these and thankful that places like this exist. Until the day we live on a horse farm (a girl can dream), little getaways like this will do just fine.

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A little Norah goes a long way

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Doesn’t my Monday morning look so peaceful and bloggy?

What if I told you the events that preceded this photo included having dog poop smeared all over my leg? True story. I was extra motivated this morning to wake up and get a short run in with Duncan, which I did manage, but he was extra headstrong and rude the whole time. He loves to criss-cross in front of me like a maniac and every time he did, his unfortunate bathroom remnants (time for a trim) were transferred to my legs. I lead a glamorous life.

Some days you wake up and just know that you’re gonna have to work at it. I feel like it must be especially common on Mondays, so today I worked at it by immediately putting on our new Norah vinyl and tried to mirror the relaxed vibe while I got ready. It’s a pretty effective mood changer, you should try it.

We had a great weekend visit with Zach’s BFF/our best man Alex. We went paddle boarding in Georgetown and it was such a blast! Z and I had never been before and it was a lot easier than I’d imagined. And talk about a great workout, if you don’t spend too much time sitting on the board with your feet in the water… oops. We had dinner and drinks that night and went to see Trainwreck (funny!) and it was so much fun to be together again. We are getting pumped to be heading to Puerto Rico next month for Alex’s sister’s wedding!

The harder your Monday is, the better your weekend was – that’s what I say. So here’s to stupid Mondays!

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K.I.T.

If you’ve ever been on any social media, you’ve heard of Humans of New York.

If not, (and get with it, peeps) it’s a photoblog project by one man who is on a mission to photograph real people of New York and share a snippet of their real life stories. It has evolved into a vehicle for world awareness and philanthropy and there are imitators in practically every city, but there is something mysterious about New York that can’t be replicated. It’s raw, joyful and heartbreaking all at once. Today’s posts on the HONY blog really spoke to me; here is one of them:

tumblr_nrfkszva881qggwnvo1_1280“I’m OK now, because we’re speaking in generalities, but if you were to ask me about anything specific, like names or dates, I wouldn’t be able to remember them. My mother had it too. It was ten years of her not knowing who anybody was. And I don’t want to be remembered like that. That’s why I’m sitting here alone. I used to have a lot of friends, but I’ve withdrawn from all of them. Group situations are especially hard because I can’t steer the conversation toward something I can remember. And when I do get stuck, it’s more embarrassing. So I’ve missed weddings. I’ve stopped returning calls. I do have one friend who won’t give up on me. He calls me from Florida. And if I’m trying to tell him about a bridge, he’ll list off every bridge in New York City until I remember the one that I’m trying to talk about.”

This is one of the more heartbreaking posts I’ve seen, featuring a man suffering from what appears to be Alzheimers or a similar condition. But what he says about his one friend who doesn’t give up on him struck a chord in me, maybe because as a military child keeping in touch with people became such a normal, necessary thing. I feel like it’s not something that comes naturally to everyone and it definitely wouldn’t come easy to me if I wasn’t forced to do it by having such a transient community growing up. “Keep in touch!” is such an often-used cliche that we forget that it actually means “please keep being my friend” and “please keep being part of my life” and “please don’t give up on this relationship.”

Keeping in touch is hard now that I’m an adult. Everyone is taking different paths in life and more and more you’re required to go out of your way to keep up with people – it can even be inconvenient as much as you hate that. It seems like it should be easier in this world of social media and instant communication, but is it? Does liking someone’s instagram picture hold the same value as calling them during your busy week? No. But if I’ve learned anything from that lifestyle I’ve learned it’s important. And not just keeping in touch, but being intentional about it and relentless in compassion.

I’m inspired to never be the friend that gives up and to always be the one to list all the bridges. K.I.T.

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Life + Lately

Things that are making me happy:

Lazy weekends, with short bursts of productivity
My soul sister Kelly finding out SHE’S HAVING A GIRL!
Duncan succesfully sleeping outside his crate
Trying new places with friends – most notably Bayou Bakery and Luke’s Lobster
Driving around looking at houses and dreaming about what we’d do to each one
New pink nail polish
Everything featuring sailboats
Having a moment of insanity and ordering jeans online… not just any jeans, but white skinny jeans. And them fitting!
Being asked to be a bridesmaid in my oldest friend’s wedding
Listening to Duncan chat away with us in the morning – he is so talkative lately!
My hair getting a just a littttle longer
Fixer Upper on HGTV, could a TV couple be any cuter? #goals
Becoming members of our church, a first for our married life
Hangouts and dinners with my brother
Being 90% on my health game and seeing the results! Although the biggest and most important result is my attitude. Taking care of yourself is important in so many ways.
My Parisian BFF Anne coming to visit after a long separation while she was in France

Most of all, my hubby is back! He was gone for a month of training and it was roof stoof around here. I was a single (dog) mom and Zach had to endure bad camp food. But the fam is back together and ready to party!

This life is sweet.

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Freedom Friday

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I’ve said it before, but Zach and I have really grown to appreciate days where we have nothing to do when we get home from work. Commuting is exhausting in and of itself here in DC and most days we are running out the door to bible studies, choir practice, marathon training, puppy class etc! All fun stuff of course. But Fridays are ours to do what we please and we always do a little dance around 2pm when we remind each other that it’s not just Friday it’s Freedom Friday!

Here’s what a typical Freedom Friday looks like:
5:30p – get home from work, promptly nap.
8:00p – realize you napped for way too long. Eat something random for dinner.
9:00p – move the party to the couch and watch bad Friday night TV, probably a Chopped marathon (insert Zach groaning) or Love it or List it (insert me groaning). Maybe play some Bananagrams. Maybe have some coffee because WHO CARES. Fall asleep again. *
2:30a – move groggily back to the bedroom until morning; grumble about how we’re a couple of grandma’s.

* I refuse to go to bed on Fridays, period. Because I don’t have to! I can fall asleep on the couch if I want to!

Doesn’t that just sound like the ultimate party? It’s my favorite kind of party.

I remember what it was like when we were first married (boy that makes me feel old) and those first months of living in Winchester. Zach had a great commute – less than 20 minutes! We had all the time in the world to spend with each other and walk down to the little walking mall for coffee or put some more touches on our little house. Yet I was stressed because I hadn’t found a “real job” yet! What was wrong with me. I miss those days. I appreciate that small quiet town way more now that we live so much closer to all the congestion and jacked up prices of everything. The place I once thought we’d leave in the dust and never look back, I would go back to in a heartbeat. Life’s hilarious.

This weekend we’re looking forward to checking out the farmer’s market down the street and attending a class about joining our church that we’ve been attending for over a year now. The forecast is calling for storms tomorrow and I so hope it’s true. Few things on earth are better than a storm on a Saturday when you have nowhere to be.

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5 Months of Duncan

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I can’t believe today marks 5 months that we’ve been dog parents. It feels like much longer and it’s hard to remember life before Duncan. We’ve all learned a lot (mostly me) and we are loving being a family together. Here are some tidbits about D-Money lately:

+ Dunk just graduated from his intermediate obedience class through Petsmart! He now knows how to sit, stay, roll over, shake, spin around, leave it, drop it, heel and we’re working on “go to your bed.” He does these things exclusively if you have a treat in your hand.

+ He still goes to the wrong door to tell us he has to go potty. The back door does not open to a yard, just a fenced in concrete patio. We have never let him go out this door. Yet he still thinks this is the one to signify going out.

+ He goes into his crate without being asked (as long as we have his PBK ready) but in the mornings when we get him out of his crate, as well as when we come home from being out, he comes out shrieking for joy. Shrieking and yelling and wailing because he was POSITIVE we were never coming back! It never gets old.

+ When he is really super excited he gets a little nippy, as if he just can’t fully express his emotions. He also nips a little when we’re walking around the apartment, which must be the herder in him. Um, those nips in the booty HURT, dude!

+ He is getting good at settling down and is learning how to entertain himself with toys, rather than bugging me to entertain him every 10 minutes. I think a lot of this has to do with warmer weather, and our walks tiring him out more. He is also more calm on the leash! He doesn’t react to people at all on our walks, and we’ve gotten what was once complete rage over seeing other dogs, down to an annoyed grumble. We go on walks and we pass things like an garage door opening or someone rolling out their trash can and we’re always saying to each other “he would’ve have totally lost his mind over that 4 months ago!!”

+ He is still pretty wary of strangers. He warms up eventually but does not like it when new people try to love on him, he needs his space first. After that little adjustment period though, he is a total squish! He will solicite belly rubs from anyone after they’ve passed the background check.

+ He still doesn’t like kids. That sucks, but they really freak him out. Fortunately all the little kids in our neighborhood know that he is “scared” and they can’t run up to pet him. They still yell “Hey Duncan!!!! Is he scared today?” when we pass by though and it’s so cute. Sometimes when they’re all out playing I’ll sit with Duncan at a distance and let him watch them, giving him treats. Baby steps.

+ We brought home a pigs ear from vacation that was given to us, and I hadn’t gotten around to giving it to him yet. Well, he found it on his own hiding under my bed. Usually when he gets a sweet new toy he sprints around in circles and gets right to destroying it, but for this he did something so bizarre… he brought it out to the living room and started walking around with it, poking his head in little nooks and crannies. He started whining and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong! He was scratching at the guest room door (not allowed in there) and trying to fit under the coffee table. Finally, he walked up to the couch and stuck the pigs ear down into the cushions. Then he grabbed the foot of my blanket and pushed it on top of the cushion! Ever since then he will walk up and check on it, then walk away. I took it out once and he looked at me like MOM stop you aren’t supposed to find it! He gently took it out of my hand and stuck it right back in there. It’s so dang adorable.

+ He goes to daycare once a week now. We boarded him at the same place for a couple trips recently and he did great! The staff are great and really put some effort into letting us know how he did and even who his “best friends” were for the weekend. Bring on the crazy dog mom comments. He was relieved to come home after his first boarding experience; not in a bad way but I could just tell he was glad to be home. He ran right to his bed and fell asleep for 4 hours straight. It broke my heart a little to think that he might have thought we weren’t coming back!

+ The biggest change is just how he is at home. Little things like laying on the floor next to us on the couch are huge, because a few months ago he would lay 10 feet away, minimum. Or how when he’s in another room and we say “come here Doofus!” He will come running, whereas before he’d sit there indifferently. If he gets into something he’s not supposed to all I have to say is a quiet “no” and he knows to stop right away.

I never knew how much bonding would play into the experience of adopting a dog. In fact it’s been the most important factor, besides time. I read about it, but that’s way different than feeling it. I also had a lot of anxiety about it all in the beginning so I’m sure that hindered things, but now Duncan trusts me enough to relax and listen to me (most of the time) and it’s awesome. He acts like we’re his people instead of the people whose house he lives in. I love his big toothless grin (he was born missing most of his bottom teeth) and how happy he is to sit and be loved on. I love how he lays in the bathroom doorway while we’re getting ready for work. I love how he goes to his toy box and can’t quite make up his mind so he takes out all of them and has himself a party. And I appreciate it 1000% more because of the challenges we faced in the beginning. Still a lot to work on but man am I proud! We love our boy!

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MDW

We took advantage of the long holiday weekend and made it even longer by heading to Green Bay last Wednesday. It sure makes the work week more bearable knowing it’s going to be over by Wednesday! We stayed until Monday and enjoyed a lot of relaxation and family time, and we even got to make it up to Door County for a day.

Mostly it was nice to just be able to breathe for a little while. You kind of get numb to it after awhile but DC is so busy, crowded and congested (and so dang expensive) that being out in the farmlands of Wisconsin was quite literally like a breath of fresh air. There’s just so many trees!!! And fields and cows and air! My little heart was singing. And also maybe contemplating how to move permanently to the Midwest… It cracks Zach and I up that when we were in high school we dreamed and planned how we’d live in the big city and now we scheme about how to go about buying and running a farm. Oh growing up. It’s fun to grow up together.

On our day in Door County we alternated between eating, walks to the water, eating, walks in the woods, eating, and eating some more. Well with only one day we had to make sure we got all our favorites in! Al’s for breakfast, Wilson’s for lunch, Shoreline for dinner. No regrets. One of the best parts was the sunset Lala and I caught down by the Yacht Club – no other beauty compares.

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And of course a trip home wouldn’t be complete without seeing this guy! Although surprisingly we did miss Duncan a lot and I kept accidentally calling Gus all of Duncan’s nicknames. That little rascal has really swiggity’d his way into my heart. But I will say it was wonderful getting to love on Gus all weekend and not have to worry about what he was getting into or having him try to herd everyone around the house! Those nips in the butt hurt…

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We spent time with our oldest friends and made festive cupcakes and visited with their new pup!

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Until next time, you Midwestern heaven you.

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