• Allie and Ryan

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 2

    Allie & Ryan

  • Allie and Ryan 3

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 4

    Allie & Ryan

  • Ryan and Allie 5

    Allie & Ryan

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tis the Season...

Even at work I'm getting into the Christmas spirit.... All thanks to Pinterest and the fact the library I work at has a lot of green books! Most are (surprisingly or not) on the Vietnam War, golf, accounting and vegetarian cooking! Deck the halls y'all!

 


Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Decorating

Last year for Christmas we didn't really bother to decorate. I think I did our mantle, but we didn't have a tree or anything like that. Ryan returned home from Afghanistan last December and we spent Christmas in South Carolina with his family, so it seemed like added stress to get a tree and do all the large scale decorating knowing we wouldn't even be home. This year we knew we had to decorate... or at least I did. Ryan is starting his SDA/B-Billet and we actually were told he would be working through Christmas. I was bummed, especially since we initially planned to go to New Jersey, but then we found very recently he actually can take leave. We did a lot of soul searching and thinking and decided to stay home this year, just the two of us.
 
We had Thanksgiving at Ryan's family's house, but my family was there too, so we saw everyone in our immediate families. We also plan on driving to my parents' house for New Years since it is less of a drive than New Jersey. It was a very hard decision for me since I really treasure any time I get with my Babci and Poppy... but with Rylie I am worried about her knocking them over. Seriously. Plus it is a long drive (11 hours or so) and I don't have a lot of vacation days, especially knowing I need a week or so in the near future for my gallbladder surgery. So, stress and practicality won out and we will be spending Christmas in our own home this year. Now, onto the decorations!
 
Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care.... along with my Christmas village from my Babci and Poppy that I got to take some of.


Our other stockings adorn the picture window. I won the knitted ones last year and they took the place of our little cheap felt ones! I didn't have the heart to throw them away (especially the Dup Dups!) so they are incorporated elsewhere.
 
 
My nativity set... which I love so much. I also sadly broke one of the wise men this year, both his hands broke off, but nothing some super glue couldn't fix.
 

I have had this advent calendar for ages. It used to hang on the door to my bedroom growing up and it is now in our dining room.

Ryan got us some poinsettias and they nicely compliment our advent wreath. Ignore the fact that I still had our fall placemats on the table, they are wintery now!
 
 
And of course, an overall panorama effect. Our tree is up and decorated (now complete with star since we broke our old one two years ago) and our house even has lights up outside. Perfection.

 
All decorations... and fires... are Dup approved
 


Note: I am a bit behind blogging, as per usual, but I feel like not many people are out there reading at this point any way. It is a little disheartening. I will keep writing, even if it is just for me at this point. There used to be so much life and activity here... now I am lucky if I get a single comment on an etnry. So, if you are out there, thanks for sticking around. - A


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dippy

Last night my first pet, our family dog, Princess Diana XII aka Dippy crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She was my mom's birthday gift 13 years ago and has been an important family member ever since. I remember they got her when I was away at sleep away camp and they were going to surprise me with the fact that she was already home and waiting for us... but my brother Stefan was about four and couldn't keep his mouth shut! We were barely in the car five minutes and he whispered, "Allie... Allie... we got a dog!" When I got home the cutest, fluffy ball of fur was waiting, she looked like a little teddy bear.
 
Puppy Dippy... she was so tiny! I was about 14.
She was a perfect family dog. She was endlessly patient with my brother who would tug on her tail and climb all over her like little boys do. She had tons of energy to run around in the backyard. She was good on guard, letting us know when deer were in the yard. I had many nicknames for her... none of us ever called her Princess or her full name of Princess Diana, that was all my mom's doing by the way, her birthday present her name choice. At the time I told her she officially ruined my chances with Prince William and Prince Harry since I could never casually mention my mom named our dog after their mother..... sigh. So yes, many nicknames... Dippy being the most common. Others were Dip, Dipster, Diana Marie Jones, Diana Suzanna from Louisiana and Doo Da Bee.
 
My high school graduation day... man I look awkward
She loved people and hated stairs. Our house was a split level, so essentially you came in the front door and could go up stairs to the main part of the house or down stairs to the family room and extra kitchen. Dippy never went down those stairs, even as a puppy. Especially after the mean trainer tried to drag her down. She would stand at the top of the stairs and cry, wagging her whole body. As a puppy she would pee from excitement so we'd usually put her on the deck when we knew people were coming. She'd also bring you a toy... or the remote or a shoe or whatever she could reach. We used to joke that if someone broke in she'd bring them the silverware.
"Family photo"
As she got older, she calmed down a bit. She would sneak onto the couch when we weren't home and hop down as soon as she heard the garage door open. As she got older she stopped caring if we caught her and would leisurely stretch and take her time getting off the couch after she was caught.
Every Christmas she would shred our wrapping paper to bits, she never ate it, just tore it up!
When my parents traveled she either went with them or stayed with my grandparents, she never went to a kennel. It probably would have broken her heart! She would do ten or twelve hours in the car without batting an eyelid. At the vet she was always gentle and never flinched when they took blood or gave her a shot. The nurses and vet loved it when she came in. She always slept in the bathroom, usually right next to the toilet or bathtub where it was cool... otherwise she was inbetween all our bedrooms in the hall, right in the middle of us all. I'd get home from school and my mom would get home from work and we'd all sit on my parent's bed and have girl time and chat about the day. Dippy also slept there any time my dad was not home.
Dippy LOVED the snow
 
After making "puppy angels" as we called her snow art work
On my wedding day she was underfoot and loving everyone. It was fantastic. Especially with her big white bow.
My wedding day
 
When they moved to North Carolina her age caught up with her a bit... her golden fur became like a lion's mane. We used to tease that she was chubby but she slimmed into an old lady dog. She met her niece, our Dup Dup, and was thoroughly annoyed by her presence and barked at her a lot. But they tolerated each other!
Being bugged by her "niece" the Dup Dup
Last week she just declined. She stopped wanting to get up, wouldn't really eat or drink... and my mom knew it was time. So last night my family took her to the vet and my mom was with her as she crossed the rainbow bridge. I cried when I got the text telling me but I know she is in a better place. Even Pope Francis agrees. Rest in peace "little sister"... I miss you already.
 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Our Thanksgiving this year was spent at my inlaws in South Carolina and to make it an even bigger family celebration, my parents and brother drove down and spent it with us! So we had all of our parents with us for Thanksgiving this year. Perfection. I love being able to spend the holidays with family and having our complete family together is a luxury that I know many do not have. Very thankful indeed. Especially with our Christmas plans so up in the air it is nice to know we saw all of our parents for Thanksgiving.
Ryan and I with my parents and brother... and the Dup Dup
Selfie style later on with my mother in law and sister in law
We ate so much! I tried to be careful with my gallbladder on the fritz but man I could not resist trying a little bit of everything.

 
Plus there was pie... about four of them. Two apple, two pumpkin plus my mom made pecan pie bars that were so amazing they didn't survive the weekend.

 
As you can imagine we were too full to function much beyond watching football. Naturally my brother insisted on some selfies and I think I broke a top teen rule by taking a screenshot of a snapchat (an app I still don't really understand but have because I have maybe four friends who use it and insist I do too). I don't care though, I love the picture of me and my "baby" brother, who turned 18 years old on the first. Where has the time gone!? We gave him a Casio G-Shock watch that will hopefully last him forever... Ryan has had one since bootcamp and it got him through two deployments and various other crazy situations, so it is a good watch indeed. We also drove to Ryan's grandmother's house and his sister's dad's house to visit that evening.

 
Friday I don't think we got out of our pajamas. We watched a lot of movies, Home Alone, How to Train Your Dragon, The Wizard of Oz, and Love Actually. It was officially after Thanksgiving so I was all about the Christmas movies!
 
Saturday we became productive members of society again and actually got up early to head down to the street fair/market in Downtown Columbia. I love stuff like this! It was chilly bur not freezing and I had some delicious hot cocoa to boot.


I also found pierogies. In South Carolina! Epic, epic win in my book!
 
 
We got some pretty cool things there including home made ravioli (bacon, mozerella and sundried tomato), an art print of Molecular Chemistry that has wine bottles and the chemical breakdown of wine (LOVE), boiled peanuts, hot sauce and some other snacks. Then Ryan realized he never actually showed me Columbia properly in the, you know, seven years we've been together... so I got a tour. We went by the state house and some other really neat buildings and the campus of USC.

Christmas tree near the State House

State House all decorated for Christmas
 
Family selfie in front of the tree
After that we went back to the house with wings (well salad for me) to watch the USC/Clemson rivalry game... and that did not turn out well for us. After winning the last five years in a row Clemson beat the Gamecocks this year. Sad. Well, I guess they can have this one! Saturday night we watched more movies and slept in a bit Sunday before battling traffic to get home again. It took us an hour and a half longer than normal (thanks 95!) but we made it.

Overall it was a wonderful weekend with family and I am so thankful we had it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful

This year I have so much to be thankful for... well I do every year but this year has been one of many ups and downs, today of all days I am thankful for my ups. Even if they have been accompanied by some downs.
 
I am thankful my husband is home. He is not deployed like last year, he is not working, he is here and able to give me a kiss whenever I bug him for one. Which is often.
 

I am thankful for plentiful Dup Dup kisses too. I don't ask for those often but she gives them always. Especially if you don't want them really.
 
 
I am thankful for amazing friends. For friends who are truly there for me when I need them. Friends who watch football with you on your birthday even though they have no idea what is going on.

 
I am thankful for friends who live far away but are always there by phone call or text whenever you need them. And ones that give you excuses to buy pretty dresses so you can stand beside them on one the most important days of their lives, just like they did for you nearly five years ago.


I am thankful for my crazy, large, wonderful family. For my parents who support me in all that I do. My amazingly talented little brothers who I am convinced will change the world. My awesome inlaws who made me feel like my family doubled in size since before I was even officially married.
 
 
 
I am also thankful for adventures. Ones that happen here at home or around the world. This year there were many firsts. My husband's first trip outside the US that was not to a war zone. My first time on the continent of Africa... and on a camel. My first time stepping foot in some foreign countries like Spain and Monaco. Even little things, like having my first sweet potato in years a few weeks ago and realizing I do actually like them. Adventures.
 
 
Being thankful is something I try to be more than just on Thanksgiving. It is nice to have the reminder, but everyday I am thankful to open my eyes and see this amazing world we live in. I am thankful for my family, my friends, my faith, my home, my Dup Dup, and everything else that I can or cannot think of at this moment.
 
I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving, whether you are travelling or staying in or your family is near or far.... know I am thankful for all of you in blogland too.

 
 



Thursday, November 20, 2014

239th USMC Birthday Ball



Pardon the weird quality, it is a picture of a picture after all.

This past weekend we attended the 239th USMC Birthday Ball for SOI in Wilmington, NC. Even though Ryan is still in student status we decided to go to the SOI Ball rather than the ball his old unit was having (and the fact that one was on Saturday and one was Sunday had nothing to do with that decision!). Last year, Ryan was deployed during the ball season so we were pretty excited to go this year. I love seeing my husband in his dress blues and I love having an excuse to dress up. This year I wore my bridesmaid's dress from my best friend's wedding this past May... military spouses are definitely some of the few people in this world that wear them again!
 
We decided to make a weekend of it and get a hotel in Wilmington so we didn't have an hour drive home that night. We get to the hotel, grab some hot drinks since it got cold literally overnight, and then Ryan realized he hadn't gotten a hair cut! So he went off to do that while I got ready.
 
Naturally the day of the ball I had a huge breakout on my face, I cut my leg badly in the shower for the first time in months, and for good measure I wacked myself in the neck with a hot curling iron as I was doing my own hair. Geeze. Top that off with still feeling off from my gall bladder I barely ate all day. At least from far away you can't tell that I felt like a walking hot mess.
 
Obligatory mirror selfie
We took a cab to the Convention Center (all $4 it cost us) since it was chilly and got there with time to mingle. We got our Professional pictures taken early on since I knew Ryan has zero patience for such things and once we got going it would never happen. This year's picture (seen at the top of this post) is probably hands down our best one to date! We were both pretty stoked. I know it was good because my non social media using husband switched his facebook profile picture for the first time since 2011.... seriously.
 
Another new thing, we had to all get stamps inside our wrists if we were over 21 and wanted to drink, that was diferent for sure, but we were definitely buying us some overpriced alcohol so we obliged. It was nice to meet Ryan's other fellow students I had heard so much about. For the first time since we went to a ball in DC years ago I was pretty thrown by all the "brass" in the room. So many officers and higher ranking enlisted, it was a tad bit intimidating truth be told!

Ceremony
The itty bitty PFC that was the youngest Marine this year must have really felt it. She was born in 1996, the same year as my baby brother who is still in high school! Oy! Ryan and I bet on the year they'd be born, I sadly lost.
 

We had a decent view of the ceremony and the video, which dorky me absolutely loves every single year. This year got me teary (not a first) because the battles they mentioned in the video I know my Poppy fought in during WW2. Seeing some of the footage, especially talk of the bloodiest battles of the war at Peilalu and Guadalcanal, and knowing my Poppy was there was hard to wrap my brain around.
Our guest speaker
Our guest speaker was very good (they usually are!) and I am ashamed to say I forgot his name. I will have to edit this when I get home. My favorite part of his speech was that he ended with the following poem:
"The wonderful love of a beautiful maid,
The love of a staunch, true man,
The love of a baby, unafraid,
Have existed since time began.
But the greatest of loves,
The quintessence of loves,
Even greater than that of a mother,
Is the tender, passionate, infinite love,
of one drunken Marine for another."


Now even though my stomach stinks I nibbled on some delicious food, the highlight being this chocolate cake. It was hands down some of the best chocolate cake I have had in my life. Seriously. I wanted to take what I could not finish home with me to eat later. If it could have fit in my purse I probably would have!
 
 
Proof I am getting old. I cannot take a selfie to save my life. Or a ussie? Whatever you want to call it! I cut myself out when I try to do it and when you turn it around the quality is pretty awful...


Thankfully one of my husband's fellow students was nice enough to take a picture for us... that one thankfully came out nice too! The large red carpet they had leading to the dance floor was a nice touch if you ask me.
 
 
We danced and hung out for awhile, had a few drinks, before everyone decided they wanted to go out. Any of you who know me know I am not a big partier by any means... but I did my best. We went back to our hotel to change because, well, really it was too cold for most of us! We started at City Limits, a country western bar that I was more than happy to stay in, especially since our cover fee was waived, but we were in the minority. Instead we ended up at Sputnik, another nightclub. Definitely not my typical scene, give me a quiet pub with trivia any day, but I made it a good three or four hours before I begged my husband to have us leave! Aside from a drunken pizza detour (for the Marines sadly, not me) we eventually collapsed into bed way past my bedtime.

Someone stole the VIP sign from another table after we managed to snag one... we aren't that cool, I promise!
 
All in all, another succesful Marine Corps birthday in my book! Happy birthday Marines!
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Time Spent

Exhibit D (for Dup)
Lately I have been working a lot, our normal library Reference staff of four is now down to two temporarily. Because of this my schedule is all over the place (especially nights and weekends, sigh) to fill in the gaps... hello working every other weekend again. I had not missed you these past few months! Ryan is in school for his B-Billet so he tends to also have a weird schedule too, so our weird schedules coinciding has been a rarity. When they finally do line up we are usually too tired to do much of anything, especially with me still getting over being as sick as I was. We usually are like this (see Exhibit D).
 
But this past weekend, even though I had work, we both knew we HAD to get out of the house and do something. Even better, get out of J-ville. So we did. We went to one of my favorite nearby little towns, Swansboro, for dinner. Ryan looked up a few places and we decided on an Irish Pub that was rumored to have some delicious sandwiches. They did not disappoint. Our timing was interesting because we wandered into town during their Swansboro by Candlelight night, so most streets were closed to cars and it was packed as the small town lit their Christmas tree. Luminaries lined the streets and the historic district was gorgeous. We managed to find a place to park, find the pub AND get a table. Talk about a lucky break! It was packed too.
 
 
They had one of my favorite ciders and even though I need to watch my alcohol intake with my gallbladder I could not resist having one! I also had a yummy turkey and avocado sandwich with some pasta salad. Ryan naturally had a reuben which I was drooling over (and risked a bite of!) and we had a really nice time. I used to love going to Irish Pubs when we lived in DC and there are a depressing lack of them around here. I usually just love the atmosphere they have. This pub even had a "wall of regulars" where they each have a numbered cup that they come in and use! We thought it was just a display but then number 26 came in, said excuse me, grabbed his cup from over our heads and went to the bar! We were both instantly jealous and wanted to be regulars with our own numbered cups. Some day my friends, some day.
 
I also had Granny Smith Caramel Apple Pie for dessert that made my tastebuds dance for joy.

 
After we ate I grabbed a hot chocolate to go and we strolled through the town looking at the Christmas lights and window displays. Yes, it was a little early, but it was a really nice much needed night out for the two of us. We came home and sleepily watched some Big Bang Theory reruns before I went to bed since I had work the next day. Hopefully our schedules will match a little more often in the coming weeks and we can do some more of this "spending time together" notion! ;)