summer loving

I am feeling the love these days. Summer just makes everything better! Granted, it’s warm in Florida year-round (I think?), but the feelings of summertime—perhaps imprinted from the days when summer meant a much-anticipated break from school—make it easy to be happy. Here are a few of the highlights of my summer fun thus far:

reading*

  • The Girl You Left Behind: For the first time since college, I have a library card! Allie and I checked out our local branch and picked up a couple of books, including this one that’s been on my wishlist for a while. So good!
  • The Selection: One of my new friends here shares my love for cheesy teen lit and loaned me the books for this Bachelor-meets-Hunger-Games trilogy. Deliciously easy and entertaining reads.

going

  • on date nights: Our first Florida date night happened—Magic Kingdom at night—thanks to babysitting swapping with a new friend. I wasn’t sure I would be able to trust anyone for a year or two, but it may be that I’m slowly letting go of my parenthood paranoia!
  • on girls nights: This happened, too! It’s always a special thrill these days to be out after dark. A couple of girl friends and I went to a comedy club in downtown Orlando and indulged in some froyo and much-needed girl talk. Yay!

buying

  • ban.do clutch: So, this is basically my new favorite bag ever! I got it at a local clothing boutique for a steal and am about ready to throw out all my other purses. It’s lightweight, cute, and perfect for anytime I go somewhere quick or without Allie.
  • new carseat for Allie: The time has come. Our very long child is ready for a seat upgrade, and we just pulled the trigger on the highly recommended Diono Radian RXT. Hope she loves it!

watching

  • Covert Affairs: I remember a friend gushing about this show a while ago and decided to give it a shot on a whim. I got hooked! Past seasons are currently only viewable with Amazon Video, but it gave my Alias-loving heart a fun new show to binge on.
  • America Ninja Warrior: Random, I know. I have to blame Ben for this one. It was just on in the evenings when I’d finish putting Allie down, but after watching these people run these crazy courses, I’m all invested in how they do! Never would have thought!

supervising

  • crawling: Allie is finally doing it! And she’s even pulling herself into downward dog. Walking may indeed happen before she turns 2! 😉
  • swinging: Possibly one of Allie’s favorite things in the world is swinging. Thankfully, there is no shortage of playgrounds around here, and every time she just laughs and squeals with glee.

I hope to catch up on my blogroll soon and keep documenting our adventures and other fabulousness I encounter, but I am also already feeling like summer is already slipping away! More beach days and splash padding are definitely in our future!

* I also just finished another book, The Circle, that I basically hated. Waste of trees, in my opinion. :-/

{Image via}

the long-awaited arrival

We’re here!! One very long road trip for Ben and one not-so-long-but-still-tiring flight for me later, we are in our Floridian house enjoying the Floridian warmth and random Floridian thunderstorms. Things I’ve discovered about Florida thus far:

  1. Florida is a lot like Hawaii. Similar weather and a similar need to ensure no food or crumbs are ever left out for more than a minute or two.
  2. Also, the people are friendly and laid back in the same way other warm weather dwellers are. I like it.
  3. It’s also super lush and green—way more than I expected.
  4. There is water EVERYWHERE. Surrounding most of the state, yes, but also sprinkling every town (that I’ve seen) in the form of little lakes.
  5. The lizards I’d heard about and assumed were like Hawaii geckos are in fact about three times as big. While they eat bugs, and I’m grateful for that, they still creep me out a little. Especially as approximately eight of them spend their lives scaling the outside of our screened-in porch.
  6. While there is no state income tax here (yay!), registering a car for the first time costs about $400 (boo!).

Overall, we really like it here so far! We’re also very glad to be done moving. Ben was a champ with driving the truck. I only had four-ish hours on the plane with Allie, but that didn’t prevent me from being insanely nervous about it. However, it all went really well! Allie slept for an hour in my arms (huge achievement!) and spent the rest of the time being enchanted by everyone and everything around her. The crazy day of travel meant she totally missed her second nap, but that had the miraculous side effect of her being able to go to bed at a normal time and completely miss the whole time-zone-change thing.

Ben starts his new job tomorrow, and I will be exploring the world of full-time momming without his or my mom’s help during the day. Oh and I’ll still be working part-time from home. At nights. Goody! We’ve spent these last few days getting to know the area a bit better (love it!), swimming in our community pool (Allie loved it!), attempting a DMV trip (yeah.. we’ll need to try that again), stocking our house full of groceries (harder to do when you’re starting from zero food whatsoever!), and pretending to unpack (it will happen eventually). I am super excited to explore all the fun things to do around here and enjoy this fresh start in a new place! So is Allie! 🙂

{skyline image via}

yearbooks, car goodbyes, and the big news

Friends, things are a’happening, I tell you. This month has been a crazy emotional rollercoaster, but in the best way. I had pretty much even forgotten I had a blog until this very moment, when I am finally sitting down to breathe for a second. And I guess I have so much emotion right now, I need a place to let it out!

I was going to take my time and build up to the big news, but I suppose I’ll just out with it: we are MOVING! Finally! This feels like much huger news to me than to you, most likely, because we have spent the past 6+ months waiting to know when we would finally be on our way to a more permanent, stable life situation. And the big question you may have is WHERE our twisty life path is taking us. To a place we had never really considered, but now that it’s our reality we’re super excited about it:

Reasons why this is exciting:

  • Florida is warm
  • Florida is on the East Coast
  • Florida has beaches
  • Florida has tons of fun things to do
  • Florida is WARM, people! (Yes, this is worth mentioning twice)

These past few weeks have been filled with packing and tying up a variety of loose ends before we start our newer, warmer life, such as:

All my boxes of childhood stuff: I knew I had several boxes stored in my parents’ shed, but I didn’t realize just how many or just what treasures I would find! Yearbooks, journals, notes I passed in middle school, old clothes—these were the normal things. Then of course there were my old collage-plastered textbook covers, my rock collection (oh yes), my box of Russian plastic bags (Ben tried to make me toss these, but I reasoned I’m going to need plastic bags for things, and they might as well have cool Cyrillic letters on them), and a shoebox of mixed tapes (Wikipedia’d for the reference of any younger readers).

I was glad to go through and discover so many things I’ve missed for years, as well as toss some things I should have thrown away years ago…

A fond farewell: I bought my first and, until very soon in the future, only car in college (thank you, leftover scholarship money!), and it has served me so well these last eight years. But, with our move approaching, we recognized that the value of my car was a mere three times the cost of shipping it across the country, so we took this opportunity to sell it, with plans to buy a new, slightly more spacious vehicle once we arrive in Florida. I posted my car for sale on Monday evening, and by Thursday morning it was gone. I couldn’t believe it!

After my buyer texted “deal” half an hour after test driving my car, I almost considered calling it off. My car, beat up and unimpressive as it was, saw me through so many good times. Ben and I had our first “date” in it (our side-by-side car date, a story for another day), we brought Allie home from the hospital in it, and it was the host of so many driving dance parties with dear friends over the years. It was really sad to see it go. But I suppose we all have to move on at some point. Farewell, dear Elantra.

So now we’re just running around trying to get things in order before we head out. Ben is leaving in FOUR DAYS, which is just crazy. I’ll follow a few days later by plane. With an almost one-year-old. I am terrified. I was already freaking out about how to entertain Allie for 5 hours and somehow try to get her to take a nap, THEN I read how painful flying can be for babies’ ears and how I should basically plan to have her scream and vomit on me the entire time. Needless to say, I am overcome with anxiety about this flight. Please share with me any flying wisdom you have! And if you have none, please pray for me!

But the flight aside, I am SO excited about this move and am looking forward to new adventures in a new place. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on everything!

{Florida sign image via}

a case of infatuation

So, I have a bit of a problem with infatuation. I get all excited about something and let it completely consume me, to the neglect of everything else in my life. Thus, while I’ve been absent from blog land the last week and a half, I’ve been soul-deep in… books. It’s just that I don’t actually get to spend all day reading, since, you know, I’ve got an infant and a job and all that, so when I finally have time to myself, literary cliffhangers take precedence over the internet. I always forget how much I love reading until I’m reading.

But now Ben and I are in a standoff, because he’s in the middle of the second Maze Runner book, and I just finished the first, so I basically just chastise him for every free minute he spends not reading. Like right now. So I’m in book limbo for the time being. And while I wait, I might as well say hi! We’ve managed to do a few non-book-related activities recently, because the weather is AMAZING. Like, it’s a crime not to eat every meal outdoors on a picnic blanket. Some of the recent highlights include the following:

  • More outlet shopping: Because I can’t stop. (Thankfully, my dear friend at Tommy wasn’t working this time.) And on that note…
  • White shorts quest: After finally finding a great pair of white jeans, I realized that my only pair of white Bermuda shorts is from… Motherhood Maternity. So the whole purpose (from which I was all too easily distracted) of visiting the outlets was to find a new pair. But every pair I tried either fit weird or was see through. So frustrating!
  • Spring festival: Ben and I had another date night! Yay! The community had a spring festival the other night with all sorts of booths, outdoor games, food trucks, and a screen on the green showing of Frozen! So fun! Cuddling on the grass under the stars to a Disney movie is pretty much amazing.
  • A new show: I had seen the previews for AMC’s Turn a while ago and it looked intriguing, but I had forgotten all about it until an ad in my Facebook feed reminded me (clever Mad Men cross-marketing). It’s really good! Honestly, I’ve shown shamefully little interest in the American Revolution beyond required history classes (my book club’s reading of 1776 was a big fail), but this makes it much more accessible. And the first episodes are all available on the website!
  • Which Wich: I despaired when we left the DC area, because I was a bit of an addict to Potbelly sandwiches. Thus I was delighted when we recently discovered the West’s Potbelly counterpart: Which Wich. They even have Oreo shakes! We’ve been there approximately three times since my last post….
  • Soaking in Easter perfection: Yesterday was the most perfect and gorgeous day to remember what’s most important to me and to refocus my perspective a bit.  This video pretty much says it all.
  • Orchestrating the most awesome Easter egg hunt ever: Okay, well at least we thought so. We had a big family dinner for Easter yesterday, and Ben and I got to fill all (70!) the easter eggs and hide them around my parents’ back yard. Most had candy inside, but we volunteered my mom to donate some cash for a few special eggs to keep things exciting. It was so fun watching my nieces and nephews hunt around and happily bring in their spoils.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I continue to post a tad less frequently in the future to give myself more time for all my other infatuations—and, of course, more time to read others’ blogs! There really are too few hours in the day! But while I love to come here and document my life, thoughts, and adventures, I just don’t have the talent to multitask blogging with everything else I want to do! Hope you all are enjoying this fabulous spring day!

{Image via}

things that made me cry this weekend

Not that there’s much that doesn’t make me cry! I am such a crier. I wasn’t always this way; I remember realizing at some point in high school that I hadn’t cried in over a year. Things definitely changed as I got older! It doesn’t take me much to get teary these days, and new mom hormones (can I still blame those?) certainly don’t help the matter. This weekend a few things just sent me over the edge:

  • Frozen: So, crazy as this is, I hadn’t seen Frozen until this weekend. I was fighting it a bit because everyone loved it and I always hate bandwagons until I’m on them… But I loved this movie so much!! I literally cried about 10 times during it. Watching it (without Allie, given our no-TV-before-age-2 rule) made me (somewhat ironically) so excited to watch it with Allie when she’s older and can go princess-crazy. I also might have said to Ben, seeing the relationship between Elsa and Anna, that Allie needs a sister… (This is NOT an announcement!)
  • General Conference: My church (for those of you who aren’t members) has a televised conference twice a year with talks by our church leaders. I have definitely seen my spirituality diminish with my stress and sleep deprivation over the past few months, and this was a much-needed spiritual boost. Several of the talks as well as an in-between segment (about a family forgiving the man who killed their mom while driving) touched my heart and moved me to tears. I feel very motivated to be more positive, loving, productive, and grateful, despite the challenges of our current transitory state.
  • Sorting baby clothes: Allie continues to grow like a very beautiful weed (or maybe just a flower), and I’ve been meaning to go through her clothes and pack up anything too small. I finally did this the other night, and it was probably the socks that set me off. THEY ARE SO LITTLE! I remembered how small she was just a few months ago, and I suppose I cried because I realized she’ll only get bigger, and those days are gone. But I also cried because seeing how much she’s grown made me think of who she’ll grow to be. I’m basically obsessed with her. Sigh.

This week is supposed to be lovely and warm, and I am looking forward to (a) another date night with Ben (if all goes as planned), (b) my POPSUGAR April and Special Edition Resort boxes *hopefully* shipping, and (c) starting either the River of Time or Maze Runner series. Both first books are on their way, and I suppose I’ll let Ben start on one while I read the other. I am feeling so reenergized by spring, even with its temperamental comings and goings. Yay!

{Image via}

vegas, baby

We’re back from our trip! Early! We had intended on spending the whole week away—a few days in Vegas, then a few days in Phoenix, but we ended up just spending a couple of days in Vegas and coming home. Allie had been sick with her very first cold since last Monday, and I had thought she was about over it, but by the time we got to our hotel in Vegas, ALL THREE OF US were sick. Ugh. But on the bright side:

  1. We were able to upgrade to a one-bedroom suite (i.e., twice the size of our first apartment together), with doors to close off the bedroom once Allie went down to sleep.
  2. We were in Vegas! With lots of things to do!

So we tried to make the best of things. Our first excursion was to visit the aquarium at Mandalay Bay, and Allie totally loved it! So did I! I can’t even remember the last time I went to an aquarium. But it was so fun!

After a quick lunch, we snuck back to the hotel so Allie could nap, then back out we went. We parked on the strip, loaded Allie up in the Ergo, and just walked around for a while. She loved the Bellagio water show, of course!

We enjoyed the amazingly delicious Bellagio buffet for dinner, then we went back to the hotel to put Allie down—and ourselves, to be honest. We were sooo sick. Poor Ben had it the worst, I think. Though none of us really got much sleep.

So we enjoyed a final morning in our fabulous suite, then headed home. Short but sweet.. and sour, because honestly, we are still really miserable.

But not too miserable to watch the finale of the Bachelor I missed! Oh my goodness. Juan Pablo. That show. I don’t even know what to say.

feature at one fine day

I am suuuper excited today, as Ashley of One Fine Day (only one of my fave bloggers/blogs ever) has given me a spotlight on her blog, in the form of her Need Read Greed series. Definitely go check out the post here and Ashley’s blog in general, because she’s awesome. (She’s also the honored founder of the snail mail exchange I’ve posted/gushed about before.)

Off I go before I get into fangirl overload.

{That’s a screenshot of Ashley’s blog header right there, btw}

i totally heart you

Ben took a reeeeally long time to say “I love you” to me when we were dating. Well, long by my standards. It was maybe 7 or 8 months. I of course harass him about this frequently for the absolute torment he put me through (I worried much more about whether he loved me than whether I loved him, at least at first). Anyway, I saw the card below on this  list of “21 Awkward Valentine’s Day Cards” and remembered a gchat we had about a month into our relationship when Ben signed off “talk to you then, ❤ you” (did a search to confirm the exact language), which of course sent me into a tizzy of confusion. So we had a good laugh over this last night. (Definitely check out the link for the other cards. Hilarious.)

Anyway, we’re off to Park City for a last-minute weekend getaway. This is huge for us, since, as I mentioned the other day, we tend to stay in for Valentine’s. But I’ve got mama cabin fever, and Ben convinced me we should give into the impulse and go! (In my head I always think I’m adventurous, but when it comes down to actually doing things I tend to talk myself out of it. Thank goodness for a more daring husband!) I absolutely love Park City and all its charm, and I look forward to exploring, relaxing, and enjoying our first shared vacation (mini as it is) since Allie was born!

Hope you all have a lovely Valentine’s weekend!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

{Photo of alexandra em card via HuffPo article mentioned above}

veterans day discoveries

I love that I could count on so many Facebook posts today expressing gratitude for our veterans. I even posted one! Ben was in Afghanistan for the first Veterans Day that I really paid attention. Now I am much more aware of the reason for the holiday. (Not that those who are serving get to celebrate it at all!)

One thing I realized today is how many of my friends have relatives who are veterans and/or currently serving in the military. It makes me happy to see people honor their grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, and friends in uniform. A few other discoveries I made today:

  • There is no apostrophe in Veterans Day. Or in Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s one of those things I always feel unsure about but decided to verify. (Thank you, Google!) Another one is Valentine’s Day. Apostrophe confirmed.
  • I like the idea of actually celebrating Veterans Day beyond a Facebook tribute (though I of course failed at it this year—blaming the whole new mom thing). So I did some searching on Pinterest for inspiration and found these super cute camo cupcakes from the blog Dukes & Duchesses. Totally going to try and make these, but maybe not until next year.

marbled camo cupcakes

  • SO many businesses offer free stuff or discounts to veterans. We were at Tucanos last week and saw a promotion for a free meal for veterans, as well as 10% off and a free dessert for families of veterans. Even though it was before Veterans Day, our server recognized that Ben was (former) military and gave us the discount! Today I found a comprehensive list of other businesses offering Veterans Day specials, and tonight Ben enjoyed a free pizza from his favorite, CPK!

I was glad it wasn’t too stressful of a day for Ben so he was able to come home and enjoy the afternoon with us. I suppose my last discovery of the day was more a reminder: I am so grateful to have Ben home with us every day! Many other families don’t have that anymore, and it makes me sad. But it also makes me appreciate every moment so much more! On the flip side of every sadness is always a cause for rejoicing, so Happy Veterans Day!