Bring It On

The last part of 2013 was such a non-stop whirlwind, I started to wonder if it would ever end. I wanted to leave the rough spots of 2013 behind me and jump head first into making 2014 the best year yet. But when I had time to stop and think about it — while vacuuming water out of our basement — it occurred to me that we did a lot last year. Most of it was great, some of it was tough, but it was all time well-spent.

We started 2013 on top of Camelback Mountain in Arizona.

Camelback Mountain, AZ, New Year's Day 2013

I bought Mickey Mouse sunglasses at Epcot.

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Roadtripped to Charleston with a bunch of girlfriends.

Matching tees!

Hosted a bridal shower.

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Got peer pressured into running the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.

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We celebrated our first wedding anniversary with an afternoon at the batting cages where Hugh proposed.

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I cried through our best friends’ wedding.

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We spent my grandpa’s birthday with him in the hospital.

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Packed Memorial Day weekend full of outdoor adventures with friends and both of our families.

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We carried on an annual beach tradition with friends.

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We reunited with family in Virginia.

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And in Oklahoma.

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And vacationed in Isle of Palms, SC.

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I spent an incredible girls weekend in Nashville.

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We got to attend Lucy’s baptism.

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We bought a little house.

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We celebrated the life of one of my most cherished family members.

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Dressed up our home with Hugh’s very first live Christmas tree.

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And rang in the new year in New Jersey with old friends.

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Yes, 2013 taught me a little about loss and change and wet basements, but it also taught me that I can run and that Hugh and I make a pretty good home improvement team. It also reminded me that we are surrounded by incredible friends and family who helped us through home-buying, moving and maintenance and who are generous with hugs when you need them.

And as for 2014, well it’s already off to a big start. I began [yet another] new job on January 2nd, and Hugh is becoming a master landscaper as I type this. I don’t like to make resolutions, but I do like to make goals and set milestones to look forward to.

In 2014 we will:

  • Dry out the basement, once and for all, then tackle our two-page project list
  • Run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler together
  • Celebrate two anniversaries and a big birthday in Key West with great friends
  • Not let work run our lives, but strive to be great at our jobs
  • Watch my brother graduate from our alma mater
  • Spend time vacationing with both sides of Hugh’s family
  • Never lose sight of how fortunate we are

Bring it on, 2014. Bring it on.

Photodump: July 4th Friends Beach Trip

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Our friends beach trip tradition began back in May of 2008. We woke up only a few hours after our graduation celebration at TOTS ended, piled ourselves into cars and caravanned down to Myrtle Beach for a week in a tiny, run down three bedroom beach shack filled to the brim with 19 people.

It was the best time.

And so — every year since 2008 — we’ve made our annual pilgramage to the beach with some of our best buds. For the past few years we’ve been going to Nags Head over the 4th of July because fireworks on the beach are hard to beat (as is a free vacation day).

While Thursday was spent celebrating this great country of ours, Friday and Saturday were for the knock down drag out competition of Beach Olympics. Sixteen people, four teams, countless rounds in six different events over two days. Because I love a good excuse to use my tripod, we paused before the final event for some pretty priceless team photos and one last group shot of all the competitors.

The competition was so serious that Commissioner Hugh kept track of it on a complicated scoreboard that hung inside the tent all weekend reminding us to keep our game faces on.

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My team unfortunately had a few tough breaks and did not quite come out on top. But there’s always next year.

Super Fast Recap: A Girls Trip to Charleston

Last Thursday, eight of us ladyfriends packed ourselves into two cars and traveled down to Charleston, SC, for a girls weekend celebrating Jessie’s upcoming wedding. We stayed in a beautiful home on Folly Beach with the two most important amenities: a big couch and bathroom space for all of us.

In Folly, we ate dinner at Taco Boy and grabbed rainy day carry-out from Woody’s. I had a pimento grilled cheese (which I intend to perfect) at Blind Tiger, we entertained collegiate nostalgia at The Brick, and rounded out the weekend with an amazing southern meal at Poogan’s Porch where I attacked a bowl of shrimp and grits the size of my head.

We visited the Bourbon selection and tasted classic cocktails at The Bar at Husk. We stuck our toes in the sand, took a historical walking tour of Charleston, wandered through the  Charleston City Market, hunted for the best ice cream, sampled some fudge, judged several versions of pimento cheese, spent a rainy day on the couch, played some games, danced the night away in our matching t-shirts, and sufficiently toasted the bride.

I recommend everything. The whole trip from pre-dawn Thursday to unpacking the car Sunday — perhaps with the exception of some bad weather — was perfect.

[click on a photo in the gallery to view in a slideshow]

The Disney Adventures of a Grumpy Old Lady

I got back from Orlando last night, where I was attending a conference for users and developers of the association management system software my company launched back in June.

Yawn, I know. But I actually found a lot of it interesting and brought quite a few notes home.

And while it was educational, informative, and even a touch enlightening, you can’t go to Disney World for a conference and not see at least a little bit of the Disney magic.

My colleague Vicky and I flew down early in the day so that we could spend at least an afternoon having fun before the conference started. After following Mickey’s steps through the airport, boarding a shuttle called The Magical Express, and fighting a system outage while checking in at the hotel, we at long last made it to Epcot.

The first highlight for me was stumbling onto an Oz display. Since The Wizard of Oz is secretly my favorite movie, I hadn’t quite decided how I felt about the new movie coming out and traipsing all over the classic Oz that I’ve known since childhood. I had had the same feeling toward Wicked until I saw it and realized that rather than being a terrible adaptation of my favorite movie, it was in fact was amazing.

A similar thing happened when I saw this overturned hot air balloon, which led me to a yellow brick road (which led into a toddler play area, but that’s not the point), which was surrounded by poppies.

Disney magic, y’all.

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Eventually I came out of my childhood fantasy haze and we got to the real business of Epcot: beers around the world. First stop, Canada.

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And then England where I spotted Peter Pan (another childadulthood favorite) on top of what I can only imagine is an Abbey of the Downton variety.IMG_0175

In France I spotted Belle but did not want to wait in a long line to get my picture taken with her. The result was the first of many creepy photos I took with characters from afar. Also please note the sunglasses I purchased in an Epcot gift shop immediately upon our arrival — they have clear frames that are splatter-painted with neon colors and there’s a Mickey head in the corner where normal folks’ sunglasses say something like RayBan.

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In Morocco a beer vendor did not believe that I was of drinking age and then did not believe that my ID was mine. “This picture is brown,” he said. To which I responded that yes, though I am currently sporting my winter whites I do get tan in the summer, which happens to be when that picture was taken.

Then I put on a hat while clutching my hard-earned Moroccan beer and not wearing make-up.IMG_0177

It turns out that Orlando was experiencing record low temperatures while we were there, which is why we may look sunny and warm in front of the giant golf ball but our beer-holding hands are actually frozen.

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Sticking it out through the cold and the wind was worth it when, by the time it got dark, most of the families with children left and we could hop right on exciting rides like the Norwegian boat ride and the Mexican boat ride and Spaceship Earth.IMG_0189

Since our Epcot adventure was such a success, we decided to give Magic Kingdom a go after the conference ended Tuesday evening. I was a little tired, and perhaps not prepared for what I was getting myself into — crowds and scooters and strollers, oh my! — but as soon as I saw Cinderella’s castle I was ready to take it all in.

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We took Tomorrowland’s people mover to get acclimated, spotted a 25-minute wait for Space Mountain, and headed directly to the line once our ride on the ‘transportation of the future’ was over. Even though the wait time was underestimated by about an hour and the gremlins in line were on my last nerve, Space Mountain didn’t disappoint. It is such a good, classic roller coaster.

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In New Fantasyland, the only thing wrong with Gaston’s Tavern was that it didn’t serve beer.

IMG_0224I reached my waiting-in-line limit pretty quickly and didn’t get to see the inside of Ariel’s grotto, but the addition of details from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and the under-construction mine from Snow White will at least be exciting to see when if we bring our kids to Disney one [far off] day.

In our free time during the week and on our surprise extra day, we soaked up as much warm sunshine as two winter-weary people could handle.IMG_0214

We stayed at the Contemporary Resort where the conference was being held. Having a beach nearby for lounging during lunch was pretty sweet.

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Actually — by the looks of my bright red raccoon face, I may have soaked up a little more sun than I could handle.