Perfect couple of weeks

My to-do-list is finally reaching an end, relieving some of the stress that has been building these last few weeks.

A week ago today Jason and I moved into a quite little house that, so far, is a perfect fit for us and all of our animals. The picture below is one of my favorites. Lucy is so little that she could not see out of our front window in the living room, so I put something under it that she could climb on and view the world outside. Now every time I come home, I see her little face peering out the window.

Oct. 2, 2014

Oct. 2, 2014

The last few weeks have been nonstop . . . with that said, I wouldn’t change a thing. My parents flew into town on Sept. 23 and spent a few days with us before Jason and I drove them to Maryland, so they could end their vacation with my brother and his family.

I had begun a countdown as soon as my Mom told me she booked the flight to the Tri-Cities airport. I felt like a little girl as the excitement at times was uncontrollable.

I remember waking up that morning, Sept. 23, with a huge smile on my face and butterflies in my stomach. Although I was busy working all morning, the time still couldn’t go by fast enough. I was eager to leave the house and be on my way to the airport.

Jason called me as soon as I got off the interstate that afternoon and he too shared my excitement for the simple reason that I was going to see my parents in a matter of minutes. He told me he was excited for me to give them both hugs, which only made me smile more. When that time finally came I parked in the lot at the airport . . . I just couldn’t control it anymore. I was so giddy!!

The giddiness was because it had been quite some time since seeing my parents.  I won’t lie, from time to time it has been a struggle for me being so far away from my parents, especially when I was only a 10-minute drive from them for a long time in Fort Myers. The last time I saw my Dad was the day before we left for Tennessee last April. I was able to spend time with my Mom in Chicago last year when Jason and I drove to Illinois for my cousin’s wedding.

It was long past due to spend some time with my parents. I was beyond thrilled that after a year that time spent with them was at my new home. I had so much fun showing them around and taking them to some of the destinations that Jason and I have come to love since last May.IMG_2399

On Sept. 24, Jason, Lucy and I took Mom and Dad to Laurel Falls for a hike on the Appalachian Trail, something Mom had mentioned she wanted to do. The weather that morning was cool, making for a perfect day to be outdoors.

I loved every minute of that hike. Mom and Dad had the opportunity to experience what Jason and love to do on our days off, finding beautiful waterfalls. Although Mom has been following my blog and seeing where we have been through pictures, you fully do not experience the sight unless you are there taking in the sounds and scenery.

It was fun to experience the hike through their eyes. Everyone seems to take in the hike in a much different way. My parents were constantly trying to figure out the vegetation that surrounded the trail and the waterfall. Although I notice the trees, I spent more time looking at it all while hiking with them.

It appeared that they enjoyed themselves on the hike. They even had the opportunity to take in the fall scenery, which of course was a treat coming from Florida.

IMG_2416The following day while Jason had to work, I took Mom and Dad to Bays Mountain for a late morning hike. We followed the trail around the lake, which was a perfect path to show off some more of the beautiful fall colors. Mom even enjoyed picking up acorns for her grandkids . . . of course those included the biggest ones we could find.

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Bays Mountain was the first place Jason and I visited when we arrived in Kingsport last year, so you could only imagine how excited I was to show where our first adventure began. It seemed like Mom and Dad enjoyed another morning outdoors.

After we finished the hike, we went back to my place for a while before heading back out later that evening for a walk on the Kingsport Greenbelt. This was the only place on my list that I really wanted to show Mom because every time Lucy and I run the path she is constantly in my thoughts because of all the ducks we see. Since our walk took place around dusk, we saw a ton of deer that night, which is always cool to see.

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Friday morning, we hit the road early because we had a long drive ahead of us to Maryland. After being in the car for about 9 hours I think we were all ready to stand on our own two feet and stretch. I loved seeing Mom and Dad see their grandkids for the first time in almost a year. I have sweet pictures of my parents smiling, and my nephew Caleb while in the middle of a conversation. It’s those tender moments that I love to capture.

It was a lot of fun to spend Friday and Saturday with my parents and Tom and his family. I love seeing my nephews and spending time with them. The last time we saw them was in May and it’s amazing how much they grew up . . .

We ended up leaving earlier than expected on Saturday because of Lucy, our puppy. She’s usually a perfect little angel, but that day she was showing us a completely different side. A side that I was not too fond of. A side that had me stressed and rattled to the bone. She began barking at everyone that passed her or came in close proximity to her. This was rather strange because she seldom ever barks. So to keep her quite and calm I tried to take her away from everything, which did not give me the time I wanted to spend with my family.

It was bittersweet when I hugged everyone goodbye. I’m surprised I didn’t shed a few tears as our goodbyes were shared.

On our way back home we stopped at a friends house, a friend I have known for more than 20 years. A friend that Jason has known for almost just as long. The last time Anna and I saw each other was in 2003 or 2004 when I came home from college. It was so good to spend time with her and her family. So many good memories were brought up, even some yearbooks were opened, which provided a vision from our past as stories were shared.  I sure hope so much time does not pass before we see each other again.

When we arrived back home on Sunday, reality sunk in .  .  . moving day was right around the corner and we still had so much to do.

Tuesday was the big day . . . a day that started way too early and ended way too late. This of course is a trait that I love about Jason. When he has a vision we accomplish it, or surpass the goal. We ended up renting a UHaul, which helped tremendously. In two trips we were able to load all of our furniture and washer and dryer, as well as some boxes. We finished moving about 90 percent of our apartment in one day.

To say we were both tired and sore is an understatement.

The benefit of getting all that accomplished  . . . sleeping at the house a week ago for the first time.

I absolutely love living in this cute little two bedroom house with a beautiful backyard.

20141001_171845Except for a house we rented for no more than six months when we first started dating, Jason and I have gone from one apartment to another over the past five years. It feels great to have privacy once again. I cannot describe how good it is not to hear our neighbors through the thin walls, or to keep our voices down because we don’t want to disturb them. I can now play music in the living room while listening to it in my office without worrying about being too loud for our neighbors.

The list goes on and on of why I enjoy living at this house.

Sunday morning Jason and I headed back to the townhouse we were renting to clean and make sure we had all of our belongings. When we sat in the car a sense of relief washed over the both of us. We were beyond ready to say goodbye to that little place that we seemed to outgrow in a year.

Another chapter begins . . .  one that seems to be off on the right foot.

Loved by all

This past weekend we took Lucy on her first real road trip to Maryland to visit with my brother’s family and celebrate his oldest son’s 3rd birthday.

20140509_135432This poor pup had a hard time as soon as we started our journey. We made it a few miles down the road and she got sick. Jason and I stopped at a Walgreens to get some supplies to clean up the mess. As he went inside to grab some paper towels from the bathroom, I took Lucy for a little walk in the grassy areas giving her yet another opportunity to go to the bathroom. After she went and the mess was cleaned we were on our way again.

Unfortunately after we kept on driving gaining some distance in Virginia, this poor thing got sick again. Thankfully an exit was approaching that had a Wal-Mart and Petco. Jason went into Wal-Mart and bought some paper towels this time, in case we needed them again, and I sat on the curb next to the car trying to get Lucy to drink some water. Jason cleaned up the mess yet again. We drove over to Petco and purchased some medicine that said it would help the car sickness. Of course the pills were huge, and with Lucy still being a puppy, we had to break it down and put it in water to make it easier for her to chew.

After another bathroom break, the three of us got in the car and we were on our way again. This time Lucy remained up front close to us as the shaking subsided. I don’t know if she ever actually fell asleep the entire 8 plus hours we ended up being in the car, but she curled up either on Jason’s lap with her head in the middle of our two seats or on my lap.

The medicine seemed to help, it mellowed her out and she never got sick on our journey again. What should have been a six and a half hour drive to Maryland, turned a lot longer due to our longer stops at rest areas. We both wanted to make sure she had a chance to eat and drink, and well, just get out of the car for a little bit.

When we finally arrived at Tom’s place, after sitting in awful traffic outside of D.C. for a while, we were instantly greeted by my brother. Lucy happy to be out of the car, greeted Tom with her friendly licks before Caleb spotted that his daddy was home.

Lucy and Caleb became instant friends. They started chasing each other . . . it was a sight that made me smile as this little three-year old and a four-month old puppy ran through the thick green grass.

When the running stopped Lucy and Caleb gave me the perfect photo opportunity. I quickly grabbed my cell phone and snapped away as my nephew and puppy shared an incredibly sweet moment. With the numerous pictures I took this weekend, this remained my absolute favorite.

Caleb and LucyThis picture pretty much sums up our two days in Maryland . . . After this moment Caleb and Lucy were always close to each other.

As the night went on, Tom put his two sons to bed and Jason and I remained on the porch with his wife’s best friend’s boyfriend talking about dogs and life in general.

After a while Tom reappeared and asked if he could borrow Lucy for a while.

Of course I said sure. Tom put Lucy in bed with Caleb. By this point, I’m sure Lucy was waiting for a moment like this, a quite time where she could get some sleep after her exhausting little day. So, what did this little pup do, curled up with my nephew and helped put him to sleep.

You never know how puppies, well dogs in general, are going to act around kids. My little Lucy was such an angel.

Throughout the two days we spent in Maryland, Lucy was the topic of everyone’s conversation. It was so much fun hearing how well-behaved and cute she was by Lisa’s family. She loved everyone and soaked up all the attention she could get, which really was not that hard. I heard from numerous people that they wanted to take her home.

I’m so glad Jason made this trip happen. Although it was an exhausting ride there and back, he made it happen.

I got to spend two days with my adorable nephews and little brother, as well as catch up with Lisa and her family.

This weekend also showed me why I love Jason so much. He has shown me time and time again that he will do just about anything for me to make me happy. Well this weekend was no exception. His patience with Lucy was amazing to see as we tried to make her as comfortable as we could on the car ride to Maryland and home.

Whenever we make trips, Jason 99.9 pecent of the time drives the entire distance, which he did again this trip on the way to and from Maryland.

We didn’t leave Maryland until almost 9 p.m. Saturday night because Jason wanted to make sure I got to spend time with my family. With that said, we didn’t arrive back home until after 4 Sunday morning. This incredible man then got up and went to work before 10 a.m. that morning.

The entire time we were visiting with my brother, Jason was hard to find. He was constantly in the kitchen helping prepare the party’s meals, at the grill cooking the hamburgers and hotdogs, making popcorn and cotton candy or cutting up the cake after we sang Happy Birthday to Caleb. Jason was also quick to help move that or clean up this the entire day. I love that he helps when we are at family functions.

Since we brought Lucy, I wasn’t in the mix of all the preparing because I wanted to keep her out of the kitchen. So every chance I had I helped with the boys, which was easy. Caleb and I walked Lucy, played with Lucy and had some incredibly sweet conversations.

Although we came home exhausted I am so glad we made that trip. Lucy too, she slept almost the entire day on Sunday.

You don’t realize how much you truly miss family until you get to spend some quality time with them. The last time I saw Tom and his family was in October. His boys have grown so much. His son Colton just turned a year old and has such a sweet personality. He eventually warmed up to me, as we both made each other smile.

This trip filled a gap that I didn’t know was growing. May 1 marked a year since we moved to Tennessee. Although we had the opportunity to see Tom and his family in October, as well as my mom and younger sister, I miss the rest of my family something fierce.

I’m truly fortunate to have a man who understands how incredibly important family is to me . . . and will do anything to make sure I get to spend some quality time with them when we can make it happen.

 

A trip to Washington D.C.

Jason and I spent some time in Washington D.C. this past weekend while we were visiting my younger brother and his family in Maryland. It’s a destination that both of us have wanted to cross off our list, well Jason more than I over the last few years.

We left early Sat., Oct. 26, so we could drive into D.C. before my brother arrived home later that evening. It was definitely a different experience driving into a major metropolitan city, navigating the roads and finding a place to park. We finally saw a large parking area that was not $10 to $15. We pulled in, fed the meter a dollar and began walking a few miles to the Lincoln Memorial . . .  It felt good to walk after being in the car for a little more than six hours, but my legs almost instantly cramped because of the fast pace and cold weather.

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There were a ton of people walking up the steps to the memorial taking pictures from every view-point, which only intensified once we arrived in the memorial. This beautiful dedication, which was designed by Henry Bacon, took eight years to complete, 1914 to 1922.

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“In this temple
as in the hearts of the people
for whom he saved the union
the memory of Abraham Lincoln
is enshrined forever”

It’s hard to explain what feelings crept over me once we began reading the walls . . . and took in our surroundings. We both just stood there, lost in our own thoughts. This ended up being our favorite memorial that we saw.

After viewing such a beautiful piece of history, it encouraged me to research it a little more, must be the journalist in me.

The dedication ceremony for the memorial took place on May 30, 1922, according to the National Park Service website. Robert Lincoln, President Lincoln’s only surviving son was a special guest who attended the ceremony. Dr. Robert Moton, who had succeeded Booker T. Washington as the president of the Alabama Tuskegee Institute, delivered the keynote address about equality. President William Howard Taft, who signed a bill in February 1911 to create a memorial for Lincoln, was there the day of the ceremony to officiate the dedication. Warren G. Harding, the 29th president of the United States, accepted the memorial on behalf of Americans, Calvin Coolidge, vice president of the Untied States in 1922, was also in attendance, as well as Marian Anderson, a well-known opera singer.

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After walking out of the memorial, we stopped at the top of the stairs and gazed at the Reflection Pool .

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IMG_0481This picture above is by far my favorite from our whole trip. Jason, taking in the scenery while reflecting on all the history he has learned over the years. He was in heaven, my history buff. I absolutely love watching him get lost in the moment, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. It still gives me the goosebumps when looking at that photograph.

The following day we returned to Washington D.C. with my younger brother Tom, sister-in-law Lisa and my two sweet nephews. We took the metro from Maryland into D.C., about a 40-minute trip with all the stops, and walked the streets.

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This gave us such a different feel of the city, a different perspective of the architecture, as well as those who live there. I was shocked to see a cardboard box house built on the sidewalk, homeless people laying on air vents to soak up all the warm heat. I was also disappointed to see all the trash that laid along our path. I guess that is what happens in major cities.

With that said, Washington D.C. was beautiful and fun to walk around. The trees were changing colors and the temperatures were perfect for a stroll – – well the many miles we ended up walking.

Our first stop was the White House, a destination that was popular for many other visitors.

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After leaving there we walked past the Washington Monument, which was closed due to repairs from the 5.8 magnitued earthquake that struck in August 2011.

IMG_0540This beautiful monument stands 555 feet tall. The construction began in 1848 and a dedication took place on Feb. 21, 1885, a day before Washington’s birthday.

Our next destination was the World War II Memorial . . . as I walked around this memorial I was left speechless as I read some of the plaques. It really put into perspective what happened all those years ago.

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Sixteen million people who served in the armed forces during World War II are honored in this memorial, as well as the 400,000 who died and all those who supported the effort of the war from their homes.

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Construction began in 2001 and opened to the public on April 29, 2004 with a dedication on May 29 of the same year.

We also visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which includes 58,286 names as of 2013. The picture below shows just how many names are listed  . . . just how powerful this memorial is . . .

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While we were there we saw a fox, well four to be exact, as we walked from the Vietnam to the World War II memorials.

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He was patrolling the area for squirrels, which happened to be everywhere you looked.

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This guy caught a squirrel and stopped in the grass to enjoy some lunch. It was incredible, I have never seen a fox up close and personal. Of course I followed it until I could get some good pictures . . . even while he ate.

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He finally stopped eating and looked up long enough for me to snap a photo.

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We had a great time walking around Washington D.C. . . .

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I would love to return and see more of what the area has to offer. I would definitely encourage everyone to go! I loved learning some of our countries history!

It was a great weekend. I enjoyed every moment we had to spend with Tom, Lisa and my two adorable nephews.