• 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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

North Carolina Baby Shower

This past weekend, June 18th, we had our local baby shower with our friends and my immediate family. Our friends Mark and Kayla generously offered to open their home to us and host and they did an amazing job! Kayla seriously put together a baby shower our of Pinterest with the help of her mom and my mom and I was blown away. Sadly we had a few last minute cancellations and a lot of my family couldn't travel down because of it being Father's Day weekend, but the crowd we had was wonderful and I am so thankful to all those who were able to be there and celebrate with us.
Bean's nursery is safari themed because of my love of giraffes and that was the theme of our shower! Welcome to the Jungle greeted us when we came in, plus tons of food (twigs, cheetah tails, elephant snacks, zebra cakes...), a blue candy bar for making your own goody bag (with my mom's famous Chocolate Covered Oreos) and a cargo table for presents!

The "watering hole" had jungle juice (not the same kind I had in college I promise), desserts were zebra cakes and tiger tails, plus Ka the sandwich snake! How cool right?!?
Sorry for my shaky editing, but now we are revealing our Bean's chosen name, James William, aka Will. Men in my husband's family go by their middle names, him included, so baby Will is going to follow that tradition. James is after Ryan's grandfather (who went by his middle name Doug and told him, "Son, never name a kid Doug.") who passed away in the first year we were married and was like a father to him. William is after my dad (who is really my stepdad) since I always regretted not having him legally adopt me and this is my small tribute to him.
So baby Will it is! With a small cameo by Jeffrey the Giraffe on the bottom left there.

Ryan and I were once again blown away by everyone's generosity! Our cargo table was definitely full!

Our party guests... at the top is our best friend Donna, in the middle are my coworkers Jennie, her husband Kevin, and Lauren, and on the bottom is my husband's former Master Sergeant and his wife.
The top picture here are our hosts, Mark and Kayla, and my brother Stefan, and of course the bottom is my brother and my mom. Looking at these photos I can see how huge I have gotten as I am nearing the end of my pregnancy and we still have at least 7 weeks to go before full term! Yikes!

Between both our showers we know this baby is so incredibly loved and we are one blessed family. Thank you to everyone who came to either of our showers, sent a gift, or sent us love from afar! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Monday, June 20, 2016

South Carolina Baby Shower

Last weekend, the 11th, Ryan and I made our way to South Carolina as his family were throwing our Bean a baby shower. We left Friday afternoon and made our way south, arriving in time for a lovely BBQ dinner with his mom, sister, and grandmother. Saturday afternoon was our shower and man did our little guy get spoiled! His mom's neighbor Christi hosted the shower for us and the guests included lots of family and friends from the neighborhood.

As you can see there were lots of tiny outfits gifted that I could not contain my excitement about. So. Tiny.

It seemed like everyone had a great time and we really enjoyed getting to see family and friends that we don't get to visit with as often as we like!

Plus they made me a fun hat with all the ribbons! Bean got first wear in the belly though.

The rest of Saturday we lazed around, eating leftovers and just spending time together. I get tired pretty easily these days so lying on the couch and going to bed early is fine in my book!

Sunday we took some pictures together before packing up the jeep on the hottest day of the year thus far, easily over 100 degrees and horribly humid. I did not envy my husband wrangling the crib into the car and was not disappointed when he turned down my offer to help!

We channeled our inner Zoolander a bit too.

Our Bean is definitely one lucky baby and he isn't even here yet! So much love. The next time we see our South Carolina family will probably be when the baby is born, so only a few more weeks!

Unfortunately we did encounter some car trouble on the way home. We were driving in the middle of nowhere South Carolina when suddenly our Jeep turned off while we were going 55 on the highway! Luckily we were able to stop ok, but remember me mentioning it was the hottest day of the year thus far? 100 degrees plus, middle of nowhere, fields, closed store, closed church, and a random hospital unit that I had to walk to at least once to use the bathroom. I was afraid to drink too much as it was a hike and we were waiting on the tow truck. After nearly two hours we somehow got the Jeep started again and just went on our way, calling AAA to cancel the tow (another ordeal in itself!). Our 4.5 hour drive ended up taking nearly 7 hours and man was I glad to get home. I was a sweaty, uncomfortable mess for sure! The joys of pregnancy!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Carrie's Wedding

The weekend before Memorial Day one of my closest friends Carrie got married. She was our neighbor when we lived in Alexandria VA as newlyweds and even after Ryan and I moved to North Carolina we all managed to stay in touch. I was extremely touched when she asked me to be her bridesmaid... and then momentarily panicked a week after I accepted when I realized I was pregnant! I called her up immediately and she laughed saying I would be one of two! Another bridesmaid was also pregnant and two weeks ahead of me and she was glad to have both of us if we were up for it. It was a little disconcerting trying to pick out the right size for a bridesmaid dress from afar and guessing on sizes and not wanting to alter until the last minute, but my dress fit and all was well!

Even though Carrie and her now husband Pete still live in Alexandria, Pete's family is actually from my home state of New Jersey, and that was where the wedding was to take place! Double score! Ryan and I drove up a day early (and had our engine overheat on 95 in Virginia causing a 9.5 hour drive to take 11 hours thanks to full on DC rush hour after we fixed the car) to try and spend some time with Babci and Poppy. Friday we drove "down the shore" as we NJ-ians say for the rehearsal and dinner in Pete's hometown. It was great getting to know the other bridesmaids better and of course the families of the bride and groom. The bride and groom gifted all the bridal party a hotel for the night, which was lovely, and we had a small, impromptu bachelorette party at the wine bar across the street  after the dinner. It was a quiet night though as we all had to be up early the next morning.
The top picture is the bay down the street from our hotel the night of the rehearsal, and those smudges on the horizon are actually of the New York City skyline. It was much more visible with the naked eye! In the morning the bridesmaids and bride all got up early and drove over to a nearby salon to do our hair and make up. The husbands all slept in knowing they didn't have to be at the venue (an hour and a half away) until the afternoon. We assembly lined through the salon getting our hair set, make up done, then hair pinned up... I thought it was great and felt extremely pampered. Especially when the matron of honor ran to the bagel shop for us! I got a sandwich called "the bomber" that the groom, Pete, told us about the night before; pork roll, egg and cheese with hashbrowns mixed in with the egg on a hard roll. Heaven! Pete's family also treated the bride and her bridesmaids to a limo ride to get us to the venue. Party animals we were everyone had maybe one mimosa (made with seltzer for us pregnant ladies) and then slept most of the way! At one point Carrie and I were the only ones awake in the limo! But we made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare and got checked in to our rooms. She got married at the Inn at Millrace Pond, a gorgeous venue with lots of historical buildings and it was so lovely!

We had some time for lunch and to relax before we went to the bridal cottage to all get ready. By that point all the men arrived and photographs started and we just all prayed the predicted rain would continue to hold out! It was cool but not cold and the sky was gray, but we were super hopeful the outdoor ceremony could go on! Carrie looked stunning in her dress and made us all cry as we helped her get ready. She had more gifts for us, touching letters and Alex and Ani bracelets with our initials, that seriously almost made me ruin my mascara. The groom, getting ready in another building, got a pretty great gift too... a motorcycle Carrie had picked out with the help of his brothers! I think I got Ryan a Taylor Swift CD (as a joke) and a binder of the emails we sent back and forth while he was deployed!

Unfortunately during the set up the catering truck delivering the tables and chairs backed in to our car and put a hole in our bumper! It was minor and mostly cosmetic, but the guy drove off without leaving a note or anything! Luckily there were witnesses so we filed a report and plan on getting it fixed since they were so dishonest about it. We tried to keep it from the bride, but she did find out, and considering there were one or two more issues with them we know she was not a happy camper! I felt bad adding to that stress for sure!
But luckily for us the rain held out and we had the ceremony outside. Ryan shocked me by taking a lot of pictures which he usually never does. I was the second reader during the ceremony (and I will not share those pictures as my mouth is open horribly in nearly every one!) and I was very honored she even asked. The ceremony was beautiful and it quickly rolled into the cocktail hour with pictures. The large meeting house in the background served as the cocktail hour headquarters but it was inside and outside. There was a massive tent set up for the reception and the rain held out until we all got inside! It was perfect.
I actually forgot to take pictures during the dinner and reception, we just had a fantastic time and I didn't bother. I danced and ate delicious food and Ryan and I literally stood guard in front of the sweetheart table so the bride and groom could eat! I don't know why people think the instant the bride and groom sit down it is time to go shanghai them, but don't! Most people at weddings are either already married or have been to at least one wedding, you should know how this works! It should not take a Marine and a pregnant lady threatening to belly bump you out of the way so the poor couple can eat! I was also on bustle duty as those darn things never want to hold up. Luckily the matron of honor was prepared with tape, pins and a sewing kit. Why make gorgeous gowns with big trains that are literally held up by a piece of thread?! My gown did it at my wedding too, as have most of the brides I encountered!

After the reception died down we went back to our rooms in the converted mill (over 200 years old!) with intent of going to the after party, but Ryan got horribly sick from something so we just called it a night. I was swollen and exhausted to boot so I spent the night in sweats trying to make Ryan keep something down. Poor guy. Been there! He was perfectly fine in the morning thankfully. We had a big wedding breakfast and then wandered the trails on the property for awhile.

We met my aunt and her boyfriend for lunch later that afternoon and it was so good to catch up with them! She is my biological father's sister and I honestly haven't seen her since my own wedding but we talk often. She and my other aunt and cousins chipped in and got a lot of things off our registry (our entire bedding set and bumpers) and she had lots of baby things from work (a diaper bag, outfits, bibs, blankets, stuffed animals and ultrasound frames) that she also surprised us with. We were so touched!

After we went back to my Babci and Poppy's house and spent the rest of Sunday and the morning Monday with them before we had to drive back. Ryan set up cable in the back room and helped shift furniture and do things that a big, strapping Marine in his 20s can handle with ease that made me so thankful for him. Anything he was asked he jumped to it instantly. We also went and visited my brother and niece that evening and she is getting so big!
Poppy seemed to be getting around a bit better since Christmas but is still more frail than I like seeing him. We got out his piano and harmonica though and he lit up! He said he hadn't played in ages and he did really well with them both. Ryan even learned a bit while we were there. Poppy learned and played both completely by ear so it is impressive to see at 93 for sure. Babci doesn't look anywhere near 90 and she was going up and down the stairs and cooking dinner (chicken popperkosh!) and refusing help left right and center. I did pick out a beautiful knit blanket for our Bean that Babci made that I cannot wait to wrap the little guy in.

Once again, these trips are entirely too short and Ryan and I had to drive back Monday to get to work Tuesday. It was a shorter drive back, only about the expected 9.5/10 hours, but it still was not fun to do seven months pregnant! I hope once the baby is born we can do another quick trip so Bean can meet his great grandparents! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spring Adventures

Now that the weather is warming up finally in Eastern North Carolina our family gets to do some of the outdoor things we love... like strawberry picking at Mike's Farm. Nothing like a sun warmed berry right off the vine and eleven pounds of your favorite fruit to make a weekend wonderful.

Plus, did I mention the chocolate cake? They are famous for the ten layer cake and I can see why. It literally melted in my mouth. My husband went for the chocolate ice cream, but I will not regret that cake. I hope we meet again very soon.

Plus, warmer weather at the coast means days at the beach. Sure, sporting a bump in a maternity swim suit is a little different than any other summer, but it is still awesome to read a book in a chair on the sand as your crazy husband goes into the frigid ocean.

Rylie had a better time than any of us, swimming and running to her heart's content. She came home that evening a very sleepy, happy Dup Dup.

Soon our trips to the beach will be very different, with sand toys and tents and bags of things, but for now we will continue on as we do every summer since we have lived here. One bag, two chairs, an umbrella and a good book or two until our load gets a little bigger... we cannot wait!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

6th Anniversary

Once upon a time a young newlywed came home from work realizing she had been married for six months. Sitting on the coffee table in the living room of their small apartment in Virginia was a vase full of sunflowers, her favorite flower in the whole world brightening up the gloomy November evening. Time passes and suddenly the newlywed is not a newlywed anymore. Six years have somehow passed and she is in their home in North Carolina and a special delivery arrives. Sunflowers, to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary.
Now the traditional gift for six years is Iron, so she also got some new numbers on her house and a pair of candlesticks too, but the sunflowers managed to bring her back in time for just a moment. Plus, her husband got a cast iron pizza stone he'd been eyeing for awhile, so he did pretty well too!


I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about our anniversary this year. Last year we suffered a terrible loss on our fifth wedding anniversary that kind of managed to overshadow the joyous day it normally is. This year I was nervous. I was reminded of that loss and that it had been a whole year. I am pregnant again, this time nearly to my third trimester with a (hopefully) healthy baby boy, but my emotions (and hormones) were all over the place for sure. We had a few small spats that weekend, mainly due to said emotions and hormones, but overall we did have a really nice evening together.

We got all dressed up and went to Duck's, a favorite of ours in Jacksonville, and had a delicious dinner. I had my favorite, appropriately the duck, and Ryan had elk and we were super stuffed with yummy food we did not have to cook.

Plus, did I mention this dream of a cake? Oh this pregnant lady was super happy to have a Death by Chocolate cake slice. That thing didn't stand a chance between the two of us!

Some celebrations are small, different than what you expect. They can have an underlying tinge of sorrow you don't expect, but it doesn't crush you as horribly as you were dreading... and sometimes they can take you back in time with the yellow shine of a perfect sunflower that brightens your next few weeks on your dining room table. Darkness and light and balance. Happy Anniversary my love. These past six years (and, um, sixteen days since I am behind blogging) have been wonderful and I cannot wait to see what the future brings.