Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
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I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

Who I Carried Today

Tonight I have a guest writer! My husband, Jonathan, wanted to add another post to supplement mine about Memorial Day. Enjoy!

Memorial Day is one of the holidays that I’ve always had trouble dealing with since I got out of the Marine Corps. The purpose of the holiday became very personal to me, and I couldn’t get on board with the excitement of just having a day off of work, grilling outside, or looking for sales. It all became a cheap, sometimes disrespectful, distraction from remembering those who have gone before and given the last full measure for our country. Because of that, I always had trouble figuring out what exactly to do for Memorial Day. With my thoughts always turning to my brothers who didn’t get off the bus when we came back home, I usually ended up feeling frustrated and guilty that I wasn’t actually doing anything to memorialize our military’s combat deaths.

This year, though, I finally found something that I can create a tradition out of that allows me to put energy into and intentionally remember those that sacrificed everything. I saw that one of the blogs I follow was sharing about an event called Carry the Load, which is a walk that gets hosted across the country where people walk up to 20 miles in remembrance of our fallen. I was excited to find out about it, but it was too late for me to sign up or be able to travel to where any of them were being held. It didn’t take me long to realize that I could do the same thing by myself. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted this first time to be a more personal experience anyway.

When I started planning it, I thought I would put some weight in a small pack and run one mile for every Marine we lost from my battalion on the two deployments that I went on. I quickly remembered that I was not in any shape to run what would amount to more than a marathon, especially with weight, so I decided to split up the deployments and focus specifically on one per year (not to say I would not be remembering the others on this day). 2015-05-25 14.13.26This year I focused on our 2007 deployment to Al Anbar Province, Iraq. We lost eight on that one, so I decided that would run a mile for each of them while wearing a pack. I didn’t have any specific weight in mind (I weighed it afterwards and it came to just 15 lbs), so I just loaded some rifle magazines, threw in a full bottle of water, and other everyday carry items (pistol, badge, spare magazine, etc…). The most important, and by far the heaviest item, was the list of names I wrote on a piece of paper and slipped into the clear ID window of the pack.

I ran out of my neighborhood just like I do on my normal runs and tried to get reacquainted with running with a load. The pack I used isn’t anything fancy, so it wasn’t particularly comfortable, but it seemed like it would at least be bearable. As soon as I got onto the main road, though, something hit me. I realized I wasn’t just carrying a 15 lb pack.  I was carrying Lance Corporal Blake Howey, Lance Corporal Nathaniel Windsor, Lance Corporal Harry Timberman, Lance Corporal Daniel Olsen, Lance Corporal Jesse Delatorre, Lance Corporal Johnny Strong, Lance Corporal Juan Garcia Schill, and 1st Lieutenant Shaun Blue. I couldn’t keep from crying for about the first 50 yards. The irony of it was that even though the weight seemed so much greater, the pack became lighter. Even though I only personally knew two of them, they were fellow Marines and failing them was not an option. I made a promise not only that I would run them all the way back home, but that I would do this every single year until I saw them again. Whether running with a pack, using a walker, or pushing myself in a wheelchair, I made them a promise that I would remember them in this way every year until I died.

2015-05-25 14.04.07I realized by the last mile that I was in fact no longer an indestructible 19 year old, and that my chiropractor and my knees wouldn’t be too happy with me by the end of it. All of that was insignificant though when I considered why I was doing this in the first place. I wasn’t doing this for a workout; I was doing this to remember brothers who died violent deaths in combat. The pain in my knees and sore muscles were petty. I had cried at least two other times during the run when the significance of my burden really hit me.

While this may all seem dark, morbid, or sad to some, that is not necessarily my intent. Although I get upset when I see how this holiday, like so many others, has lost its meaning to most people, I am not one to try to put people on a guilt trip, and that is not the intent of the post either. My intent is just to implore people to do something specific to keep the essence of the holiday alive. Do something to remember those that gave everything to secure our way of life. It doesn’t have  to be a pack run, it doesn’t even have to be anything physical. Just do something that’s a little out of your way and be intentional. Tell your children why you have the day off of work. If you don’t know anyone who died in our country’s service, find a war memorial with names on it. If you can’t find find a war memorial, talk to some veterans, some of them will surely be able to give you a list of names. If you can’t do either of those things, use Google.  If you can’t do that, try harder.

My other intent with this post is to give people who have had the same difficulty I had in celebrating this holiday an idea of something significant and intentional to do that honors their fallen brothers.

I’m not saying that people should stop doing a lot of the things that are common on this holiday either. If you want to have a barbecue, that’s great, it’s entirely appropriate to actually enjoy what others have fought and died for (and wanted for themselves and their families). If you’ve been needing a new mattress, and you found a good deal at a Memorial Day sale, I won’t even fault people for that either. If it is a somber day of mourning and remembrance for you, then spend it accordingly. What matters is that we remember, and do at least one thing to give some time or energy as tribute.

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.” – General George S. Patton Jr.

If you need a list of names for next year, here’s one.

2nd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment
Operation Iraqi Freedom (2007)
-LCpl Blake Howey
-LCpl Nathaniel Windsor
-LCpl Harry Timberman
-LCpl Daniel Olsen
-LCpl Jesse Delatorre
-LCpl Johnny Strong
-LCpl Juan Garcia Schill
-1st Lt. Shaun Blue

Operation Enduring Freedom (2008)
-Sgt. Michael Washington
-LCpl Layton Crass
-PFC Michael Patton
-PFC Dawid Pietrek
-Capt. Eric Terhune
-LCpl Andrew Whitacre
-Sgt Matthew Mendoza
-HN Dustin Burnett
-SSgt Christopher Strickland
-LCpl Ivan Wilson
-LCpl Jacob Toves
-LCpl Juan Lopez-Castaneda
-Cpl Anthony Mihalo
-Sgt Jerome Bell, Jr.
-Cpl Jason Karella
-Cpl Adrian Robles
-LCpl San Sim
-Sgt Deon Taylor
-Capt Trevor Yurista
-Mr. Mohammed Dawary

French Toast, Cheesecake, & A Theatre All To Ourselves…

I would have gotten this post out earlier if I hadn’t been knocked off my feet and sick on the couch for nearly a week with tonsillitis! But four years ago this month, I married my Mr. Wonderful!

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Photo by Photos by Esther

This year’s wedding anniversary is one of my favorites so far in our short four years! We had a fantastic day:

The weather was drizzly and rainy all day, but it reminded us of our honeymoon and the almost daily rainstorm that would come in the afternoons in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We started our day off with a late brunch to Ihop. The morning after our wedding, we ate at Ihop, so this made it especially enticing to enjoy some hot breakfast food on a rainy day! I ventured out of my normal short stack with a side of bacon to try the brioche French toast with cinnamon roll filling, and OH MY GOODNESS! It was amazing! Plus, the bacon, hash browns, and coffee were delicious too. By the way, did you know that calories are non-existent on wedding anniversaries?

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Photo by Photos by Esther

After our scrumptious brunch, we headed over to our local wine shop and placed an order for our favorite bottle of wine from the vineyard where we got married. We buy a bottle every year and drink it the following year. We originally started this tradition with our first anniversary. We bought a bottle of wine for our first anniversary in place of saving some of our wedding cake for a year in the freezer. We decided to keep it up, since it’s nice to enjoy on occasion and remember where we got married!

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Pardon the bad lighting and mirror shot…this is just real life.

Later that evening, we got all dressed up and went out to the Cheesecake Factory. We served cheesecake at our wedding instead of a traditional cake and so it seemed fitting to get some fancy cheesecake for dessert, but only after we enjoyed a delicious dinner. My husband always tries something new every time we eat there. I usually stick to my favorite (Crusted Chicken Romano), but I figured since my adventurous palate was successful for brunch that I’d give it a go again. So I opted for a new and delicious dish, the Parmesan-Herb Crusted Chicken! So good! (Can you tell I love food?) We took our cheesecake to-go since we planned to enjoy it with a glass of wine at home later that evening.

Stuffed to brim, we headed to the movie theatre to catch the latest installment of the Avengers (we’re nerdy and we know it *wink). Unfortunately, by the time we got to the theatre, the only available showings by that time were all in 3D (now, we’re not that nerdy…). So, we searched the board for something else that looked mutually interesting. We both have a love of history, so the movie Woman In Gold stood out to us. I had earned enough Shopkick kicks for an AMC gift card, so we only ended up paying the equivalent of one ticket! We walked in early to an empty theatre and picked a spot right in the middle.

I wore my "something blue" bracelet from our wedding day… :)

I wore my “something blue” bracelet from our wedding day… 🙂

We watched ALL the pre-previews and then the previews themselves. We realized that we were going to have the entire theatre to ourselves since no one else had come in, so we settled in and got comfy! The movie was really good! It’s based on a true story and is well played by Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. We both really liked it!

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Snicker’s Cheesecake, Cookie Dough Cheesecake, & Tres Suenos Winery Select White!

Once we got home, we changed into comfy clothes, poured our wine and ate our cheesecake on the couch while watching Seinfeld with a very snuggly Pepper, who was glad to have us home after being in an empty house most of the day. Overall, it was a very enjoyable anniversary!

What are your favorite anniversary traditions?

Happy First Birthday, Pepper!

Who’s adorable and turned one today? This puppy!

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I can’t believe our little cute cuddle pup is one year’s old today (today = April 2nd, I know, I post late…this is just our life)! She’s grown up so quickly. We don’t have kids yet, so for me, it’s a big deal that my little puppy is now a one year old!

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Last year, in July, on my birthday, we went down to our local humane society “just to look” at puppies. We’d been talking about getting a dog and I had been saving up a little puppy fund. But when we actually saw these little puppies in person, there was no way that we were leaving without one! There was a litter of 3 month old Plott Hound mix puppies that day. There were about 4 in the litter and we noticed that the smallest puppy was sleeping the whole time we played with the puppies. She was so sleepy and one of two in the litter that were all black. After playing with all the puppies, we decided that we wanted Pepper (she was called Pringles at the time). We drove home with her riding in my lap and she quickly got comfortable in our home.

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She’s been such a blessing to our lives and especially in my life. She’s my little buddy and she follows me everywhere. I love having her with me at night, while we wait for Hubby to get home from work. She looks out for me and loves to snuggle. She’s smart and is doing well in her training. She’s so strong for only being about 54 pounds! She loves to play frisbee and go on walks, which has been a huge help for me and my health goals. We go walking just about everyday for at least a mile and a half. She loves to dig in “the muddies” as we like to call them, and go to the dog park. She’s not quite brave enough to play with the big dogs yet, but we’re working on it. She loves to play in water and loves coming home from the groomers all clean. She has a lot of spunk and a sweet friendly personality. 🙂

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Today, we celebrated her birthday with a little treat “cake” and gave her a huge rawhide bone for a present. She was so content and happy today and had a good long satisfied nap. 🙂

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Happy Birthday Pepper!

Monthly Recap – February

I don’t know about you, but for being a short month, February felt incredibly long to me. I’m glad to be in March, finally! But February wasn’t miserable or a horrible month at all, it was just full. By the way, I’m linking up with The Lady Okie again this month, check out her Project 12 posts!

30 for 30 Progress: Like I mentioned in my January Recap, there are a few items on my 30 for 30 List that I will be doing year round. You can see all my sketches on my Instagram. I had a mini love theme during February!
We made some progress on #11 (Paint remaining rooms in house) on my list. We painted our bonus room! You can check out that post, here.
I’ve also made some progress on #1 (Get healthy!) but you can read more about that below in the Fitness section.

Books Read: I started reading 3 books this month. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish any of them yet, but I’m enjoying reading them. This month took over my time and I’m really going to have to be intentional to carve out time to read more in March! I need to hurry, I’m getting behind. 😦

Fitness: So this month, I started my fitness goals! You can read my plan in my February is for Fitness postPurseGoal. As of now, I’ve already lost 4 pounds! I feel a lot better, I feel like I have more energy, my skin has cleared up, I have fewer headaches, and I’m already noticing a few areas starting to slim down. I see it, but it’s not drastically noticeable…yet! 😉 It was pretty rough the first three weeks, to be honest. I didn’t realize just how much I was used to eating in a day. I still hate counting calories, but I’m beginning to enjoy working out. The only thing that annoys me is how much time working out requires from my day. But I’m pressing on. I’m hoping to make more progress in March!

Travel: This month I went to Duncan, Oklahoma to visit family! We made it a girl’s trip and we had a lot of fun. I went down with my Granny and my Mom to visit my mother-in-law and my husband’s grandmother. We enjoyed eating lunch at Cracker Barrel on the way down and had some great conversations during the long drive! It was so encouraging and fun catching up with family and hearing our grandmothers share about how God has lead and taught them in life. I am so blessed to have such godly women in my family to look up to and learn from. My husband’s family is such a blessing, I never expected to love my in laws as much I do. They feel like family I’ve had all my life and an extension of my immediate family. I’m looking forward to when we can make another trip down to visit!

Watched: I watched the Oscars this year! 150222-Oscars3Pepper and I had our own little Oscar party at home, while I was working on various home projects. Overall, I wasn’t too amazed or surprised by anything and there were a few moments that I could have done without, honestly. I always love looking at the beautiful dresses and gowns the ladies wear and the award title designs (the stylized animation or graphic displayed to represent the movie when they’re listing off the nominees) were really well done this year! But my absolute FAVORITE moment was when Lady Gaga sang a medley from The Sound of Music. I grew up on The Sound of Music and watched it over and over and over as a kid. I adore that movie! And the icing on the cake was to see the lovely Julie Andrews join Lady Gaga on stage after her performance and present the next award. I wanted to rewind and watch that whole segment over again. It was so good!

Listened: I’ve been listening to various podcasts when I walk Pepper and that helps the time go by a little quicker. Other than that, I’ve not really listened to anything new this month.

Family Moments: Since it was Valentine season this month, I decided to do something a little different. I gave Jonathan a little surprise Valentine of his favorite treats with a little note on the days leading up to Valentine’s Day.

The first few days, he seemed surprised, but then he started catching on that this was a daily thing and I had to find creative places to leave his treats. I learned my lesson on one spot though. I know now to not leave anything under his pillow. He must have too firm of a pillow, because I had to show him that there was an entire box of Cheez-Its under his head… But he enjoyed all the little notes and treats.

Jonathan gave me chocolate and half a dozen roses!

Jonathan gave me chocolate and half a dozen roses!

Since he had to work on Valentine’s Day, we ended up celebrating our Valentine’s Day date on his next day off, the following Monday. We had a few gift cards from Christmas and we used them to eat at Macaroni Grill. It was so fun and nice to get dressed up and go out on a date (for mostly free!). We came home, relaxed on the couch, and had fresh strawberries with chocolate and champagne we had left over from New Years. (We ended up having a few bottles left over from our New Year’s party, so now we have something nice to enjoy for a few special occasions throughout this year.) 🙂
Pepper had a big moment this month! Normally, when we run out for errands or to go somewhere, 2015-02-26 16.55.48we put her in her crate with some toys and treats. But we let her stay out in the living room for a few short errands and she did so well! We’ve been wanting to eventually get her to this point so she’s not cooped up the whole time. For the most part, she’s done pretty well this month, however there was one time I came home to find our couch with some stuffing ripped out. We’re realizing that she’s showing signs of separation anxiety, so we’re trying to work on that with her. I’m looking forward to her training sessions that will begin in March!

This Made My Day: I got my hair done this month! (I always forget to take a picture, arg!) For the last year, I’ve been sporting red hair and I love it! Even though I’m naturally a brunette, I feel more like myself with red hair. I absolutely love going to my stylist, Madi. Every time she does my hair, I leave the salon feeling amazing! My stylist is able to get the most beautiful red tones in my hair every time. She’s awesome! If you live in the OKC area and are looking for an great stylist, you should check her out here.

Monthly Moral: With starting my fitness plan, I’ve realized that I am a sprinter (figuratively speaking) and not a long distance or cross country person. In other words, I can jump on an idea or a project and give it all of my energy and interest up front, but when time goes on and you have to keep going, I loose steam. This is what happened around the third week into counting my calories and working out this month. When it gets hard and it has to become mind over matter for me. I’m realizing that I need to develop more patience and perseverance. 😉

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens this March!
How was your February?