Reminiscing Once More

31 12 2016

Here we are, sitting on the cusp of another new year. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little surprised we made it.


Whew, we made it. That was a rough one, girlfriend.

It’s weird to sit back and think over the last year. Partly because I haven’t had much time to sit back and think at all over the last 12 months. But being New Year’s Eve, I feel ok about allowing myself these few minutes of nostalgia….

This time last year, I was overflowing with all the feels – I had diamonds on my left hand that I couldn’t stop staring at while I shimmied into my gold dress to ring in the new year in the city square in Granada, Spain. We ate grapes and cheered and sang and kissed under the grand lights and I felt like this was going to be such a great year!!!


So optimistically happy ❤

And a lot of really amazing things did happen this year. Since my social media is full of lists of all the crappy things that happened in 2016, I’m not going to add my own. The future is unknown, and right now a little uncertain and scary, so I’m going to ruminate on the positive.

  1. I came home from an incredible adventure in Spain, engaged to my handsome beau
  2. Grad school did not kill me, and instead I graduated
  3. After lots of anxiety and applications, I landed my first teaching position
  4. During the first week of said teaching position, our 2 families gathered together and I married that handsome beau and made him mine
  5. I turned 32, and felt ok about it
  6. Teaching proved to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I made it the first trimester
  7. We bailed ship as soon as school let out and celebrated…well everything, on a delayed honeymoon in Costa Rica

And here we are! J and I are still unpacking and resettling after our adventures. We talk a lot about the coming months, years, but right now, its nice to celebrate the happiness we have right here right now.

Happy New Year!



Celebrating milestones

24 06 2016

Omg yall, I didn’t do anything yesterday. I stayed in my PJs and puttered around the house and did very little productive tasks. Ok, I did a little laundry and I bathed my wedding dress and I worked on stuff….but in the grand scheme of things, I did NOTHING!!

I’m not just bragging about being a total bum for an entire day, this actually has significance. I didn’t do anything yesterday because I didn’t have to do anything. For the first time in 14 months, there are no deadlines looming, no papers or projects or presentations awaiting completion. No articles or chapters are smuggly waiting their turn to be read and highlighted.

I HAVE FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO!!!!!!! I just need a minute to relish this moment…..


If you ever have to do something difficult, make sure you do it with amazing people. It helps.

….because of course, that’s not actually true. I have lots and lots and LOTS to do.

For example, I have a wedding in two and half months that needs to be planned. My wedding. Like I haven’t even mailed out the invitations yet.

I also have a job! A professor asked me to come back and work for the program my cohort participated in last summer as part of one of our classes. But whereas last year I had to pay the university, this year they pay me! I get to be on the planning side this time, mentoring the new grad students and acting as lead teacher for the program. It’s only for about a month and a half, but I get PAID. I will collect a paycheck and have INCOME! Maybe I’ll even put a smidge of that money back on my crippling student loans!!

Speaking of jobs, I actually got another one of those money-making things, but like FOR REAL. Like a real real job, like a teaching job to begin my career with the degree I just got. I’M A REAL TEACHER YALL. September 7th, I will welcome my first class of 5th graders. I’ve already started attending professisonal development days with my district AND I HAVEN’T EVEN SIGNED THE CONTRACT YET. To say I’m excited would be like saying an atom is small. However, it’s all a bit overwhelming and stressful at the same time. So much to think about, and set up, and figure out. But it’s all perfect.

So, obviously I have things to do. Like a lot. But it’s different – the crushing weight of grad school has lifted and the light of employment is shining down. I’m planning the weekend when I get to marry the man of my dreams and wear the fanciest dress ever. I’m hoarding supplies and books and plans for my first classroom and pouring over my curriculum materials. It’s all so scary and magical and stressful and thrilling.

Also, in case you missed it, I FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL!!!!


Snow in the New Year

4 01 2015

Some people ring in the new year. Some people toast it in, and others sing and dance it in. Not us – oh no. We snow in the new year!

(Dang it, that made more sense in my head…oh well – just go with it.)

We didn’t quite make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, but J and I were both fine with that. Maybe we’re old and lame, maybe we just value sleep and don’t care about the ball drop. Besides, New Year’s Day held more possibility for celebration – adventure style!

Since we both had the day off work, it was obvious we needed to spend the first day of 2015 in the great outdoors. We packed a whole assortment of gear (snow pants, snow shoes, cross-country skis, back-packs – we were prepared for just about anything) and hit the road. Snow was out there somewhere, and we intended to find it!

And find it we did, up on the lower slopes of my bestie, Mt Adams. He looked so stunning, blinding us with his snowy white shoulders in the bright sunny day. It was a glorious day to go play in the fluff!

smith butte snow park, mt adams wa

Why Adams, you’re looking mighty dashing this fine winter day!

We stopped at Smith Butte snow park and clambered excitedly out of the truck. Simba raced in circles, I fell into the snow drift in the ditch alongside the road, and J paid no attention to either of us. Despite all the gear we brought, we decided to just hike up the road, the snow being neither deep nor groomed for skiing. So off we went!

I’m sure there are folks who will think this was a terrible way to start off the year. No party, no bubbly, no shenanigans. But not to me – quite the opposite. I can’t think of a better way to get the new year off to an excellent start.

I had my two best guys there with me:

snow hiking at Smith Butte, Mt Adams WA

My two handsome fellas – the best adventure buddies around 🙂

I had the most gorgeous day to enjoy out in a gorgeous forest:

smith butte snow park near Trout Lake, Mt Adams WA

Sunshine, blue skies, and stunning scenery – yes please!

And we even had nature’s glitter falling all around us:

snow glitter, Mt Adams WA

Even nature celebrates with a little sparkle….

After all that wonderfulness, we had a warm house to go home to and warm dinner to fill our bellies. Yep, a great start to 2015 if you ask me!

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions – I actually use my birthday for reflection and planning, not the turning of the calendar. But I have a good feeling about this next year, a really good feeling.

I hope all of you had a great New Year’s celebration, whatever kind of celebrating it was for you. Cheers to a wonderful 2015!!


Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!

28 12 2014

Another year is almost completely gone! Where did it go? Why do I ask the same question every year? (Insanity is sounding more and more familiar….)

Through the years, Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Even when I worked in retail and saw the worst side of humanity. (Grown women throwing blows for a cheap laptop? C’mon people.) The festivity of December just excites me, and fills me with wonder and joy and all the other emotions Hallmark writes about. The lights! and the carols! and the cheer!

cutting our own christmas tree

We chopped our own little bitty tree to fit in our little bitty living room!

This year, we kept it quiet. We learned our lesson trying to travel at the holidays (or in the winter in general…) and just stay home. My heart aches at being so far from my family this time of year, but I’m blaming my extra sadness on the lack of vitamin D. We’ve seriously had maybe two full days of sunshine for MONTHS – I’m so sick of the rain!

We also didn’t get a white Christmas, which was just one more thing for me to be sad about. But as I snuggled with my boys during my full 5 days off work, all I could feel was a heart overflowing with gratitude for the abundance I have to be happy about.

Looking around our tiny little house, the colorful lights reflected off the windows and silver garland, our two-foot Charlie Brown tree shone in the corner, three bulging stockings hung from the shelf, and I was snuggled up between my sweet J and my snoring pup. Our bellies were all full, we were all warm and safe, and the three of us were together. Our own little family.

Christmas on the Columbia, Hood River OR

My boss sent a company-wide email Tuesday afternoon announcing that he was giving all of us Friday off as a paid holiday, giving the whole company 5 days of uninterrupted holiday. J and I went for long walks, took the dog hiking up in the mountains, cooked a Christmas feast together, unwrapped our gifts, and spent hours playing our new board game and helping Simba break in his new toy. It was a wonderful time for us to catch up on “us”, spending quality time with no obligation to rush off somewhere, or get something done.

Christmas tree decorations of love

And that’s all I really wanted for Christmas. To spend time with those I love, re-energize after the “holiday scramble”, and take the time to acknowledge this wonderful life we live.

I sincerely hope yall had a wonderful holiday, whichever one you celebrate. I’d give every one of you a hug if I could, so hug yourself for me. And may 2015 bring all sorts of wonderful things your way!


we wish you a Merry Christmas

A 30-year-old Pirate

7 12 2014

Big news, people! I have officially survived my twenties! That’s right, J can no longer say he’s dating a twenty-something. I am the big three-zero, all grown-up and adult and … stuff.

To celebrate, J and I headed to the coast for a weekend away with 6 of my fabulous friends from Bend. We all left blizzard-ish conditions for a super sunny, beautiful couple of days. We rented a house and had the most glorious of times.

Now, you might be thinking you know what a birthday bash for a 30-year-old would look like. Probably a nice selection of wines and a lovely cheese sampler while discussing the local scandal at the ski hill and the latest election results. Then maybe a calm game of gin rummy while we place bets on who’ll be next to announce their pregnancy. (Ok, I have no idea what other 30-year-olds do for their birthdays….)

That’s definitely not what we did. We had a PIRATE PARTY!  My fab friends came to dinner in full costume to enjoy a feast complete with grog and a Code to solve a murder mystery. One pal even DIED. J did an amazing job with decorations and scripts and assigning characters, and the pirate party we had would rival any 5-year-old’s out there! (I even had a sword!)

We had pirates and wenches and commodores and love triangles and the dramatic death of Merciless Morgan. Then we had back-stabbing and sleuthing and whispering in the corners until finally the truth came out. Sealegs Sam (aka J!) was the MURDERER!! (I did not guess correctly – apparently I’m as love-blind and clueless as my character, Breathless Betty!)

It was insane fun and just reminded me (for the gazillionth time) that my friends are beyond awesome.

pirate murder mystery party, manzanita OR

ARG ye mateys!

We also played ultimate frisbee on the beach, collected sand dollars, played lots of games, and laughed and laughed and laughed. Oh, and there was cake!

blowing out birthday candles, manzanita OR

A little cake to celebrate…make a wish!

Pretty awesome way to celebrate 3 decades of life with some of my very favorite people. I also received some extremely awesome bday gifts that really started my day off in the best way possible. Nikki got me a beautiful set of earrings and a set of super fun travel cards. Cass worked her voodoo magic and made me lotion, soaking salts, and a sugar scrub with her essential oils that do amazing things for me (and smell really awesome, too). Ash put together a scrapbook of letters and pictures from friends and family that had me in tears – it’s amazing the people she managed to reach in order to get the letters; I was so deeply touched.  And that’s all on top of traveling all the way to the coast to celebrate with me! Life is so sweet when surrounded by such amazing folks. 🙂

Oh, and then there was J’s gift. We don’t do much in terms of gifts for each other – we prefer experiences to mark occasions. And two years ago, he managed to give me a cake while we were deep in the Amazon rainforest – that’s a tough birthday experience to top! But the man is creative and knows me so well, and he gave me an unforgettable way to ring in year #30.

We already had our plans in place to go to California for Thanksgiving, and he gave me the gift of skydiving at Perris Field while we there.


I’ve always wanted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane (on purpose!) and now I would finally get to!! Talk about the adventure of a lifetime! He even found a set of those little toy parachute people as a way to give me his gift. I almost fell off the couch when I realized what it was!

(I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s still trying to secretly, nonchalantly get rid of me without anyone noticing…. I survived the death-trip over the mountains without falling off a cliff, and the trip to the jungle without getting eaten, and the skiing without breaking my neck, and the climb to the top of Mt Adams without stabbing myself with the ice axe. Hm. He either loves me and loves taking me on incredible adventures, or he’s trying to get rid of me and make it look like an accident. I mean, this is the end of his bragging rights for dating a twenty-something, remember?!)

So. Awesome birthday. We had an incredible time over Thanksgiving in California, and, as you probably guessed, I did survive my jump.

But that’s for next time.


Oregon coast, Manzanita


Another (Good) Year Gone By

19 11 2013

Man oh man, I can’t believe we’re already entering The Holidays. Scary! And every year, The Holiday season is kicked off by the first of many important events: my BIRTHDAY!

Birthdays aren’t quite the epic events they used to be. No more slumber parties of 13 giggly girls, high on sugar, huddled around whatever board game we were in love with that year. No more hours spent playing Truth-or-Dare and evaluating the marital potential of every pimpled pubescent male in our school. No more daydreaming and pretending to be older, wiser, and (obviously) devastatingly gorgeous, successful, and rich. (Ok, I might still daydream about those last three…)

These days, birthdays just aren’t quite as exciting. Well, except for getting Queen of Sheeba privileges all weekend….and having my mailbox stuffed past capacity with amazing cards from family, friends and even coworkers….and omg the PRESENTS!

Anyway, I don’t look forward to birthdays like I did as a youngster. Maybe because I find gray hairs on a regular basis and need to dye them suckers before I go bald from plucking them. But this birthday, I decided to look back, since forward gets more and more scary. And looking back was actually pretty amazing.

My 28th year was rather spectacular. It sure started off well! This time last year, J and I were deep in the rainforests of the Andes of Peru, and yet J managed to hunt up cake mix and conspired with our cook to have the cake waiting for me at the breakfast table. I’m not sure any birthday for the rest of my life will top that one.

birthday cake in Manu National Park, Peru

J found a cake in a remote village deep in the jungle and managed to keep it a surprise. Everyone sang and we all shared the treat.

Annnnd this is me celebrating this year:

birthday at Chips, Bingen WA

Definitely not as cool as the Peruvian rainforest, but still special. 🙂

So this year was calm and quiet compared to last year’s birthday, but it’s so fun looking at all that happened during the year in between those photos. For one thing, I was in PERU! Let’s see…what else?  I moved to south central Washington, climbed my first mountain, adopted my first dog, roadtripped with just said dog all the way to Texas and back, trained for and then ran my first half marathon, bought my first season ski pass, and knit my first scarf!!! If I can keep this pace, the last year of my twenties will be EPIC.

However, like many of these events, the glory of my birthday weekend was mostly due to the ridiculously amazing friends and family I happen to have.

Friday was mostly like any other work day…except for the efforts of JRock and my sister (who happens to be crashing with us for a bit). My coffee mug had a hand-written “Happy bday!” from J, right on the side of my favorite chalk-board-painted mug. At lunch, my sister Breazy presented me with a delightful painting she did on a piece of bark – her talent is just ridiculous! – and a mood ring that told me I’m bipolar. J got me some winter layers and a box arrived from one of my close friends in Texas with more winter warmness. I’m so ready for cold weather now!!

Then after work, the real fun began. Breazy did my hair, I donned my new sparkly shirt, and J took Breazy and I to a super fancy restaurant in Hood River. We had super awesome food and…DESSERT! Molten lava chocolate cake!! Sinfully delicious…

We ended the night with a couple drinks in the Happiest Place on Earth. No, not Disneyland, but Chips – a questionable establishment in Bingen, WA, on the banks of the Columbia. Despite the dim lights and shady “back room”, they played great music and had interesting things on the walls. Good enough for us!

Saturday was still part of my birthday celebration because my dear friends Ash and Mad-Dawg Morgan were coming to visit. But poor Ash came down with the flu and despite her best efforts (Morgan mentioned “you damn stubborn Texas women”…not sure what he was referring to…) they weren’t able to come. We decided instead to meet for a hike on Sunday somewhere in between our towns.

So Saturday, J and I bummed around on our own – in the SNOW! We had heard storms in the forecast, and our weather has been disgusting for weeks now, but Saturday morning sent a lovely dusting of snow right up the road from us. We took Simba out to the woods and investigated a new lava tube we want to explore. The entrance of this one is little more than a crawl space – not for the weak of heart…or claustrophobic!

Deadhorse Lava Tube, Trout Lake, WA

Snow for my birthday! Oh, and this hole we found leading into a cave. We’ll come back to this one…

We hit up the Trout Lake Inn for music and even a little two-stepping (!) but turned in early in anticipation of the next day. Sunday, we left fairly early to meet Ash and Morgan at our decided-upon meeting place: White River Snow Park on Mt Hood! The storms were dropping lots of snow, so we layered up and took J’s truck. We had a happy little reunion in the parking lot, accompanied by the romping and wrestling of Simba and Morgan’s St Bernard, Osa. Hilarious. We hiked up the trail in the foot or so of snow, catching up and having a ball. The scenery was amazing, the company even better, and even the fog and snow clouding my glasses and thus my vision couldn’t bruise the good mood of the day.

We picked a spot in the trees for a snack break and rest. Then came the biggest surprise ever – Ash and Morgan had brought CUPCAKES for us to celebrate with! Mine had a little candle in my special dairy-free icing and they all sang happy birthday as the snow fell around us. Simba tried to help me out, but I ate as much as I could. Despite Morgan forgetting the box was in his pack and sitting on the dessert, that was the best cupcake ever. 🙂

Our trip was too short, our time with this wonderful couple too quick. Ash gave me my present back at the car (as though they hadn’t given me enough already!!) and I hugged her tight in good-bye. As we hung our sopping wet clothes to dry in front of the wood stove at home, I couldn’t stop smiling, glowing from gratitude of the whole weekend – the visits, the well-wishes, the thoughts of friends.

This silly girl sure felt special. A big thanks to all those who made my last 20-something birthday so great.

And here’s to all the adventures we’ll get into this year!!


Three Years and a Big Shiny Rock!

5 09 2013

Holy Moses, folks, you’ll never believe it – JRock and I have been together for THREE YEARS!! We’ve tolerated each other quite well, and I think I can safely say we even still like each other. Isn’t that something?! Good grief, that means 36 months together,  156 weeks shared, 1068 days of not killing one another. I’m quite proud of us!

celebrating 3 years together, Bend OR

25,632 hours – so far! – with this dashing gentleman

We don’t actually have an exact date we call our “anniversary”. I’m going to blame this on the fact that we never made our relationship “official” on Facebook. (*gasp* are we even actually dating if we didn’t tell Facebook?!?!) Whatev, we just decided to celebrate on Labor Day weekend, partly out of convenience, partly so we could both remember. We know this is after we met and somewhere near the date I first visited him in Washington.

The first 6 months of our relationship were mostly long-distance, and then we moved in together.

Whew, glad that worked out!

So we celebrated on Labor Day weekend again. Last year we did our 3-day back-packing trip, a trip which convinced me my darling might actually be trying to kill me. But I survived, so we had to come up with something to do for this year.

We’re not really gift people. Instead of stressing over what to give each other, we prefer way-fun activities. We take mini-trips for birthdays, ignore Valentine’s, explore for anniversaries – even Christmas is more about time together than flashy gifts for us.

So imagine my utter SHOCK when J presented me with a huge, sparkly, ROCK for our 3 year celebration!!

He even dug it out of the ground himself!

digging thunder eggs at Richardson Rock Ranch, Madras OR

JRock mining for my present. I wasn’t kidding.

My honey bunches loves me and knew just what to get me:

thunder egg from Oregon

Just what every girl wants – purple, sparkly, unique, and as big as my hand!! ❤

There’s a place outside Madras, Oregon, called Richardson’s Rock Ranch where we were given a couple handpicks and buckets and vague directions of “out yonder” and “close gates behind you”. Then we drove out across their ridiculously gorgeous ranch to beds marked on our sketchy map. Tools in hand, we wallowed in the dirt a while, using our handpicks to pry treasures out of the volcanic soil. These treasures are commonly known as “thunder eggs” (I’d like to know what tool bag got to pick that name, and what he was smoking when he decided “thunder eggs” was the winning choice….). They come in all sizes and really do kind of look like eggs when you manage to get them out intact. You can collect as many as you want, then pay by the pound for what you want to keep. Better yet, they’ll cut them open for you!

And my poopsy-whoopsy knows how much I like rocks and wallowing in the dirt. The beautiful day and gorgeous scenery were just added bonuses!

digging at Richardson Rock Ranch, OR

The digging part was as much fun as the surprises hiding inside the “thunder eggs”!

I could have dug all day, but we had a limited time frame and had to get back to Bend. We did get to wander their rock shop while we waited for our eggs to get sliced, and chatted with the Richardson Grandma outside the shop while peafowl roamed around us. Four generations of their family help with the operation.

And of course, Simba had a great time, too! He even did a little digging himself! (Though I think he was looking for a cool spot to nap, not thunder eggs…)

dog resting in the shade, Richardson Rock Ranch OR

Found a nice piece of shade to sprawl in – perfect!

Oh wait, you didn’t think I meant we got ENGAGED, did you?!?!

Don’t be ridiculous.


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