October 30, 2012

Drying Out

I apologize in advance, as it seems that all the rain and high winds around here have swept away any ability to write an exciting or meaningful blog post. I think there must be flooding in my head, because it feels much heavier than normal, and all I really want to do is snuggle up in sweatpants, drink coffee, watch Hocus Pocus, and nap. It has become winter rather suddenly here -- yesterday morning I drove to the gym in shorts (chilly, but not miserable), but by the time I left work at 5:00 I wouldn't have been surprised to see a polar bear walk by. My office and the gym have remained open through the storm, so my days haven't been greatly affected, besides arriving everywhere wet and shivering (and the aforementioned yearning for sweatpants and napping... but really, that's not much of a change from the usual).
We were lucky enough to get lots of snuggling in with our favorite newborn this weekend, and even glimpsed a smile or two:
(with a little sticking-her-tongue-out-at-Dan action)
So sweet! We had a blast watching her big sister loving this new development and hanging out with her mama while her dad headed north for hurricane duty (unfortunately).
Friday night we were so lucky to get out before the storm to meet up with our wedding photographer again for a few extra pictures, since our wedding day was cloudy and it got dark so quickly. It was perfect timing, as the mountains were filled with beautiful colors and the leaves in the vineyard had turned a beautiful yellow. It was kind of fun to wear my dress again for a third and final time, but I'm not sorry that it will be the last time in a long while... having it on is so stressful! I can't wait to see the rest of our pics, and hopefully will get some of the first round loaded onto my computer soon to share.
Although I'm kind of sad that I didn't manage to score a hurrication day like so many of my friends, I can't complain because work has been super busy and the last thing I needed was a day out of the office. Tonight, I have some serious cooking to do, and also need to piece together some semblance of a halloween costume from what exists in my closet... perhaps a slightly fashion-impaired 24-year-old? It's either that or a runner (I know, how original), but I doubt that anyone at the office wants to sit around and smell my sweaty shoes all day...


October 26, 2012

A Warm Welcome

On Wednesday morning, two of our very best friends welcomed a beautiful new baby girl (their second) into the world. I died a little bit inside each hour that I had to sit at work that day, and finally snuck out a little early to hit the road (rather fast) and make friends with this little one.
she insisted on having her feet out of that blanket
There is truly nothing in the world like holding a newborn in your arms. Even though she punctuated her peaceful napping with a few episodes of screaming her little lungs out while I snuggled with her, it was calming and grounding to hold this little one, less than 12 hours old and already cute as a button (Actually, cuter than a button. Are buttons cute?) Her teeny tiny self is perfect, and I'm so glad that after nine months of watching her (mom) grow, we can finally spend some time spoiling her (shhh, don't tell her parents that plan!) I'm already counting the minutes until Dan and I get over there on Sunday to hang out with mom and the girls while dad works.
I did have to chuckle, though -- as I left work on Wednesday, one of my coworkers called after me: "Be careful, it's contagious!"


October 24, 2012

The Brighter Side of the Internet

Some days, the internet is a depressing place. It seems to be full of junk like celebrity gossip, misinformed political rants, and advertisement after bad advertisement. You have to wade through puddles of spam emails advertising a chance to "win a million dollar$!," snarky facebook comments, boasting declarations of superiority, and the constant inundation of disrespect, whining, and selfishness that characterizes social media sites and beyond. It's even easier to get drenched in the truly upsetting corners of the web -- reports of international strife, economic collapse, hunger, oppression, and violence. Given enough time, anyone could find themselves struggling to stay afloat in the flood of ignorance, hate, and despair.
Sometimes, though, you stumble across something good -- something that inspires, comforts, and restores your faith in humanity. Amidst the rubble, something glimmers with hope for change, love for one another, a promise that the world isn't quite the dark place it often appears. Something speaks to your very soul, compels you to listen, and encourages you to share. So today I'm sharing, because the world could use a little sunshine to balance all that rain.

Heard this report on the radio this morning. Crying your eyes out on the way to work is always the best way to start a Wednesday, no? Such an inspiration. Take a few minutes to listen (the article is good, but the audio itself is better)... and have a kleenex handy.
This little guy kind of breaks my heart. I love that he is holding the firefighter's hand as he drinks. This picture is just one of a great collection of powerful photographs.

Another inspirational NPR snippet (yes, I am quite proudly addicted) on the power of running. I love the quote at the end: "I feel like you meet yourself again when you run."

wonderful Pinterest find

This letter... nothing I could say would do it justice. It's one of those things that everyone should be required to read.

I've always had a hard time with the concept that "everything will be okay in the end." It drives me crazy when people try to comfort me with this, because really, some things just aren't okay. This is much more my speed.

And just in case that wasn't quite enough warm-fuzzy inspiration to get you through your Wednesday, here's one last shot at it:



October 22, 2012

What's In A Weekend?

This weekend was full of excitement. Friday night, Dan and I headed out to watch our hometown university team take on their rivals in soccer:
Such a fantastic picture. I really can't understand why no one wants to hire me as a sports photographer.
much better
It was a great game (and we won!) but my toes were frozen by the end. Afterwards we met up with a friend for dinner, but sadly the food was pretty terrible (for me, at least). By the end of the night I was truly struggling to keep my eyes open, and I crashed hard on the couch before the hubby woke me up and made me go to bed.
Saturday I spent some time at the gym and then headed out to my second sports game of the weekend. The football itself was pretty sad, but the perfect fall weather mostly made up for it.
My mom and I stopped for pumpkin ice cream (yum!) before heading home for some wine and more football (fall Saturdays are the best ever.) Dan met up with us after he left work and we all headed out for dinner, which was thankfully much better than Friday night's meal.
Sunday, Dan and I took a little drive and made a very exciting visit:
In just a few weeks, one of these little balls of fluff will become the newest member of our family! Dan and I have missed having a dog around so much, and somehow I seem to have let him talk me into getting a puppy -- a teeny tiny adorable un-housebroken always-chewing cat-terrorizing sweet fluffy puppy. This litter was born the day we got married, and their mama is calm, super affectionate, and gorgeous, if a bit exhausted:
you'd be a little tired if you had nine three-week-olds, too
... so we are crossing our fingers that we'll get one of these adorable guys:
They are quite possibly the cutest things ever. When you hold them, they snuggle up and make the most adorable little sounds, and a few of them just fell sound asleep in my arms. Any housebreaking worries I had definitely melted away when I met these sweet little things... I would clean up after them any day. (Remind me of that in a few weeks, please?)
We also got to play with this handsome guy (or girl?):
To round off the fun weekend, we headed out for dinner (Yes, that's three dinners out this weekend. Can you hear my wallet whimpering? I believe it's harmonizing with my waistline...) and a "ghost tour" with two good friends. While the tour was certainly on the tame side, we learned some interesting history and got to tour our town's old jail, which was pretty neat.
After such an exciting (and exhausting) weekend, I was fully expecting this morning to be a struggle. Sometimes Mondays surprise me, though -- the promise of starting my week on a good note lures me out of bed with less pain than normal and motivates me to get moving. This morning, I made it to the gym earlier than normal, powered through a tough workout, and even had time to grab breakfast on the way to work. As the week goes on, I'll find it harder and harder to get up each morning, so we're lucky that this morning started so well: it leaves lots of room for everything to go downhill from here!


October 19, 2012

Friday Favorites

Sweet Friday... and not a moment too soon. I stayed up late last night (which, sadly, means just barely past midnight), and I am paying for it today. It seems that in the 2.5 years since I graduated from college, I've become a 90-year-old lady. My night owl husband really loves it -- sometimes I even wake up just a little bit when he kisses me goodnight as he comes to bed at a slightly less elderly hour.
But enough of that... here's what I'm loving this beautiful fall Friday:

I treated myself to a rare but delicious lunch today -- I had an errand to run that brought me too close to Chipotle to say no. I haven't been there in months, and boy have I missed it. I am currently stuffed beyond belief and yet I continue to eat these chips... terrible.

That errand that left me vulnerable in the general vicinity of Chipotle? I was meeting up with our fantastic wedding photographer to pick up our pictures!!! I have allowed myself to look through one of the three boxes of prints, but I'm saving the others to look through with Dan. So far I've seen some incredible pictures, and we also have a CD full of video snippets that I am soooo excited to see. The best part, though, is that because our day ended up being overcast and pretty dark, we are going to meet up with him again next week to get some more pics of the two of us all dressed up. I can't wait to put my dress back on!

This weekend is full of exciting things: tonight I have a super-secret but awesome date night planned, and tomorrow should be a gorgeous day for a football game (even if we are going to lose). Sunday, Dan and I are headed out to visit some puppies, maybe pick up a pumpkin or two, and then we're meeting up with friends for dinner and a ghost tour. Yay fall! Let's just hope I can stay awake through everything...

I just can't get enough of this guy:
or this poem:
[W. S. Merwin]
Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you.

[found via one of the ladies I introduced yesterday]

And finally, I leave you with a bit of music that you've probably already heard but is definitely worth hearing again:
So. good. 
Since my first $0.99 purchase on iTunes so many years ago, I can count on one hand the number of full albums I have purchased digitally. Sure, I often purchase a CD at concerts (the most recent a signed copy of this fantastic album), but I very rarely fork over the money for more than a few songs from each release by even my favorite artists (notable exception: Dave Matthews). I certainly have never done what I did on Monday when I purchased Mumford & Sons' entire new album after having heard only one song. I knew I was taking a risk, but luckily my reckless clicking left me smiling all day (on a Monday, no less!). Not one bit of regret -- this is one of the best albums I have ever heard. Ever. And if you follow my lead, please, buy the "deluxe addition." This cover of one of my all-time favorite songs is truly breathtaking. (Mom -- you definitely want to hear that one!)

Happy weekend, all!


October 18, 2012

Things You Need to Read Today

I just poured my second cup of coffee, which may tell you all you need to know about today. If it doesn't, know this: I poured my second cup out of the strong pot. Every morning some godly coworker of mine starts two pots of coffee -- one of regular coffee, and one that comes with a real kick in the butt in every cup. 99 out of 100 mornings, I allow myself a cup of the regular coffee. This morning, though, I think I need that kick.
I am finally feeling better, a combination of lots of sleep and also spending some time in my happy place (ie the gym) last night and again this morning. When I'm not feeling 100%, I usually find that if I can make it through a workout, I feel so much better. The routine is comforting, the activity is distracting, and pushing my limits a bit always reminds me how awesome my body is, even if it hasn't exactly been kind to me in the past few days. I think the combination of taking care of myself with a little extra snoozing and then sweating the icky feeling out was just what I needed.
Now, I'm sitting here realizing how little I got done in the past few days while I focused on trying to keep my moaning at a not-quite-audible-to-those-around-me level. I am behind in all kinds of things: laundry, cleaning, staying ahead of the fresh/not-so-fresh curve in my refrigerator. Hence the second cup of coffee: just thinking about all the things I need to get done before I go to bed tonight makes me sleepy. 
I couldn't help but take a few seconds to write today, though, because two things in the blog world are capturing (captivating, really) my attention recently and begging for yours. So pour yourself a second cup of coffee and take a few minutes:
First, read this post from the incredible mom of sweet Sarah. I discovered Sarah's blog several months ago, and have loved following along with her "Week in the Life of Me" posts. She and her family are truly incredible, an inspiring example of making the best of what life hands you. Sarah's mom's words today are honest and beautiful. Thank goodness there are people in this world like her, the usher who helped her that day, and of course Sarah herself.
Second, I send you over to Glennon. I landed on her blog just a few weeks ago thanks to Kelle, and fell in love immediately. This woman... let me tell you. She is real. She is so raw and open and genuine that it hurts sometimes, but that good kind of hurt that makes you know that you're gaining strength and that your eyes are just a little bit more open than they were. She tells it like it is: no hesitations, no apologies. She inspires, she rallies, she does great things with her honesty and with the people who love it. Right now, though, Glennon needs thoughts, wishes, prayers, laughter, tears, courage, and whatever else you can spare to send her way. Head on over and, if you can, hold some space for her while she hurts and heals.
Thanks to these two ladies, for being willing to share their lives with us and teach us so much in the process.



October 17, 2012

You Might Be Behind If...

... you're just posting the weekend's pictures on Wednesday. We had a super busy few days and then I started feeling sick on Monday, so the week kind of got away from me. After 11+ hours of sleep last night, I'm feeling slightly better, so let's get caught up a bit.
Our weekend was packed full, and ran the spectrum from a fancy gala on Friday night to baling hay on a friend's farm Sunday evening. In between, there were a few football games (including one particularly depressing one that I actually attended), Dan's soccer game, a visit to our favorite kennel, helping our friends put together their nursery for baby girl (7 more days!), several yummy meals, and, of course, some gym time. Here are a few of the pictures I managed to capture, courtesy of Instagram:
my editor keeping a close eye as I worked on Friday's remarks
dressed up for the gala
... and then someone started to tickle me.
gorgeous fall Sunday

hanging out with the soon-to-be big sister!

October 11, 2012

Thursday Things

Despite the fact that I skipped my morning workout (for the first time in a whole month!) in favor of a little extra sleep today, my brain is still yawning, stretching, and shuffling its feet a bit. Random, scattered bullet points are as good as it's going to get, boys and girls.
 -- First things first: the magic of fall has officially returned in two of the most amazing, most delicious, most heart-attack inducing bowls you can imagine:
I'm telling you, it's the quintessential Thanksgiving dinner, fast-food style. The thing is, though... it's good. I can't say that I've ever had both the turkey bowl and the dessert in the same meal, or even in the same day, but I have a feeling that such close proximity might result in some kind of fireworks. Sadly, I haven't had the opportunity to celebrate the return of either yet, partially because the closest Wawa (where one finds the turkey bowl) is at least an hour away... boo. Unfortunately there is a Dairy Queen not two minutes from our new house, though, so the only thing standing between me and that amazing blizzard is my willpower... ha. What willpower?
 -- Tomorrow night I have to speak to a rather large, rather well-dressed crowd about my dad. Cue the stress headache now, please. I've been trying to write out my thoughts for days now, hunkering down at my desk during lunch to work and then fretting over it for the rest of the afternoon. While I have a lot of ideas, they just weren't meshing well into the short, heartfelt message I wanted to share. So yesterday, I took a hint from my college days: I went straight home from work, made myself some tea, and curled up in bed with a stack of paper and a pen.
The only difference from my college days was the appearance of a snoozing cat at my feet. I didn't mind the addition.
And I wrote... and wrote... and wrote. And cried. And wrote. And once I finally organized my thoughts into a coherent structure and felt comfortable with the flow, I took a celebratory nap.
 -- Speaking of my beloved alma mater, they had a very special visitor yesterday:
Why yes, that is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. And yes, he certainly is holding a W&M visor that he wore for his entire hour and a half talk. I watched the live streaming video of his remarks and was so impressed -- he had a truly inspiring message about forgiveness, compassion, and the meaning of religion. I also loved getting to see the professor in the background of this picture -- I took his class on Buddhism my sophomore year and it was one of the best of my four years there.
 -- Yes, now you know where I went to school (if you hadn't figured it out already)... and yes, there are a lot of stereotypes out there. Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I worked my little butt off. Yes, I still had as much fun as your average college student. No, I wasn't sober for four years straight. Yes, I wish I could go back on a daily basis.
 -- Why do some adults act more like the cast of Mean Girls than reasonable, mature, decent human beings? That's all I will allow myself to say about this...
 -- Tonight: Vice Presidential debate or cleaning my kitchen? It's a toss-up... I have a feeling the dishes might be less painful. Is this damn election over already?
And all at once, my morning coffee is gone and my brain has decided it's time for a nap. I should probably stop while I'm ahead. Takeaway for today? Go treat yourself to a blizzard. You deserve it (and so will I, after I run around the neighborhood a few times this afternoon).


October 9, 2012

Will Run for Pumpkin

Fall blustered in this weekend in so many ways, and I couldn't be happier (or colder, but unfortunately that comes with the territory). I was sadly husband-less for a lot of the weekend, as Dan was out of town Fri-Sun and had to work yesterday, but Toby and I made the most of it, got a few things accomplished, and caught up on some much needed shut eye. The lower temps that started Sunday made for a great excuse to snuggle up on the couch:
champion sleeper
awkwardly trying to capture him sound asleep on my lap (leaving my legs similarly sound asleep)
Besides the snoring, I also spent a little time in the kitchen, drinking pumpkin coffee and whipping up a few yummy meals. The weekend's cooking culminated in the season's first crockpot full of chili last night, which screams "fall" to me like nothing else. I feel like I spent hours washing dishes, but the delicious results were worth it (I may have had a bowl for "dessert" last night... meaning I'm ready for chunky sweater season anytime now, people).
The most exciting part of the weekend, however, involved another favorite way to welcome fall -- a sweaty few miles sniffing around the neighborhood, seeking out the best-smelling fire (kidding... sort of. I get pretty excited when I smell one). I've been feeling for a few weeks now like it might be time to switch out the treadmill belt for some real-live pavement, but like I've mentioned before, heading back out onto the roads after an injury feels a little daunting. Luckily the cooler, overcast weather, beautiful leaves, and the prospect of a new neighborhood to explore put up such a good fight on Saturday afternoon that I laced up and locked the door behind me before I could think twice... and it turned out to be the best decision I made all weekend. I originally planned to keep the run super short, but once I got going I actually didn't want to stop. I had a hard time convincing myself to turn around and head back home, and when I finally did, I was pretty tempted to run past my driveway and keep on trucking. My legs felt surprisingly fast and I loved exploring just a few of the new roads and paths that make up my new stomping running grounds. This neighborhood is truly runner heaven -- miles and miles of road, sidewalk, rolling hills, pond loops, and shady paths right outside my front door. I'm pretty sure that I could run 7 days a week and find a different route to take each time. And even though I was a little worried that the thrill would be short-lived, yesterday morning I headed out for another few miles, tried out a new loop, and had another speedy and fantastic run. I'm sold.
Even though the next few weekends promise to be filled with more exciting fall activities, this one was just what I needed -- some snuggling, some cooking, some pumpkin, and a good healthy dose of sweat.


October 5, 2012

The View from Friday

I thought that after the wedding, time might resume a normal pace and I wouldn't wake up on Fridays wondering what happened to the first four days of the week (or on Mondays wondering where Saturday and Sunday ran off to), but it seems that for now, at least, life's going to continue at full speed. I was lucky enough to score a four-day workweek this week, but it was so chock-ful of having friends and family over, grocery shopping, catching up at the gym, cleaning, cooking for friends, and rescuing one overly curious cat from behind the washing machine that I feel like it could have been two weeks crammed into one... except it all happened in the space of a blink. The only thing that kept me moving was the knowledge that thanks to our good friend Chris:
(who is certainly better known for his discoveries than his looks...)
 ... this weekend is also a glorious three whole days. Sadly the hubs left bright and early this morning to go play army for the weekend, so it's just me and this guy:
(such a helper)
holding down the fort. We have exciting plans for cat naps, college football, and some yummy food. I went grocery shopping last night for the first time in so long and I'm really looking forward to getting back in the kitchen and putting some of our wedding gifts to good use! The menu for next week includes chili, buffalo chicken pasta, pumpkin muffins, and ribs on this beauty:
an amazing wedding gift from two wonderful friends!
Besides all the cooking, I have a lot of cleaning to do... our house still looks like a wedding exploded, so I'll be devoting a some quality time to sorting through the piles and finding new homes for all of our new stuff! I am also dying to do a little fall decorating, so I think a Target trip may be in order.
Tonight, though, I'm treating myself to a night off: I have a date with my couch, an artichoke, a pumpkin beer, and a movie. Exciting times, people. Try not to be jealous.
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!


October 2, 2012

Back to Reality

Well then. Nothing like heading back to work on a rainy Tuesday to drop you out of the clouds and land you square in the real world. The wedding weekend is officially over, it seems. I'm left with mixed feelings this morning -- while I'm sad that the excitement is over and that everything I've been working so hard on for the past few months is now behind me, I'm also kind of glad to get back into our daily routine and focus on some "smaller" fun: dinners with friends, date nights, afternoon naps, the joys of my favorite season (I have not even had a DD pumpkin iced coffee yet... what???). There is so much to look forward to in the coming months -- the arrival of our wonderful friends' new little girl, cooler weather, an exciting honeymoon, lots of family time, and, of course, the trifecta of awesome holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
I'll be back to talk about the wedding weekend (with pictures, I hope) way more than anyone else will appreciate in the next few weeks days, but for now I leave you with this gem (from a fantastic newly-discovered website) that has me laughing out loud today:



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