A Big Ol’ Monthly Roundup

April and May came and went, and I’m sitting here thinking how the heck is it already June?! Fortunately I can say I actually did things the last two months so they weren’t just withered away binge-watching Netflix, which is more than I can say for those winter months…

Like I said in my previous post, one of my goals for April was to start running consistently. Well, I started running and I’m happy to say I’ve been able to stick to a schedule and do it regularly each week. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is for this girl. I was worried I would start wheezing and coughing up a fit like every other time I tried to run, but thankfully I’ve been fine! Seems like that surgery is paying off after all!

Also in April news, D graduated Ranger School! This was a big, exciting accomplishment. He likes to act like this was no big deal, but it’s huge. He also got his airborne wings in May, so that was another accomplishment checked off his list, and I am so so proud of him.

I made my way down to Portland in May for a weekend. It was…honestly super weird. I know that’s Portland’s claim to fame/thing, but I really was not expecting it to be as weird as it is. I’m not entirely sure what I had expected, but it caught me off guard. I think it came down to how empty it seemed. It felt like there weren’t any people around us, and we were staying in the middle of Downtown Portland! Aside from that though, I did enjoy the few touristy things there are to do there. This list is great if you’re planning a trip to Portland any time soon. I recommend Voodoo Doughnuts. It is popular and busy but the lines aren’t as bad as you’d expect. Also, the tax-free shopping doesn’t hurt either. I also really enjoyed all the food trucks everywhere. That was pretty cool. Overall, I probably won’t be going back to Portland anytime soon, but it was a nice experience.

I surprised my family and went home for Mother’s Day, and the look on both my parents’ faces when they saw me was priceless. Unfortunately I was only there for 36 hours, so it was a quick trip, but it was still great to see my crazy loud family and spend some time together. Traveling back and forth across the country is not easy, and with my dearly beloved boyfriend staying in Georgia longer than the Army first said he would, it’s safe to say I’ll be racking up those frequent flier miles in the next few months; starting with next weekend when I travel to GA for D’s birthday! Woohoo!

And for the last bit of news, I’m excited (and slightly terrified) to share that this week I completed my first week of graduate school! Going back to school has always been on my mind since graduating two years ago. For a while, I just gave up on it and figured it wouldn’t happen or be a good option for me, but thankfully I have an amazing boyfriend and great friends who encouraged me to pursue my goals and take the leap of faith. So I did! The program is completely online, which fits in with my lifestyle, work and commute schedule. The first week was challenging, and I know it’ll only get hard during the next 10 weeks, but I am thrilled to be starting on this new chapter in my life. That’s going to be taking up most of my life now to say the least!

 

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March; Looking Back and Ahead

Happy April!

A week or two ago, I decided to start a new monthly theme highlighting the favorite or important moments from the previous month, but also a few notable things that I’m looking forward to in the new month. It’s pretty basic, really and not anything particularly special, but I think it’d be a fun way to remember the little/big things that happen each month. So here we are, starting with March!

Take it back now, y’all:

  • Ed Sheeran’s released a new album and IT IS AMAZING!! I was admittedly a little thrown off when I first heard the album; I wasn’t really sure what I had expected from him, especially after the success of his second album a few years ago, but after giving it a good listen (shout out to my long commute to work and Seattle traffic for giving me time to listen to an entire album), I was blown away. Needless to say, it’s been on repeat all month and will be for a while. And I got tickets to his concert in July, so I’m pretty stoked about that!
  • My sister came all the way from New York to visit me for a week! It was so good having her here with me. I knew she would love it, because really what’s not to love. We didn’t get to do too many things since I had surgery and she was here to take care of me during my time of incapacitation, but it made me incredibly happy to have someone from my family finally come and see what it’s like out here.
  • Speaking of surgery, I had sinus surgery last Monday to remove nasal polyps and fix my deviated septum. I’ve had issues with allergies and my sinuses for years, but recently they got so bad I could barely breathe, especially at night when I would be kept awake just coughing all night. It also made doing regular things like going for a run or laughing too much a bit of a hassle. The running part I didn’t mind so much since it gave me an excuse to avoid going on a run with Dalton, but it was pretty embarrassing when I would start coughing if I laughed too much. But after this surgery, I’m hoping most of those issues I had will be gone. I’m still currently in recovery and will be for a few weeks, but I feel rather hopeful. It’s been a long struggle.
  • Dalton passed the first phase of Ranger School this month! He’s 1/3 through at this point, though we find out this week if he passed the 2nd phase or not. We can only communicate through letters during this time, so that’s been a bit of a struggle, and my emotions have been all over the place, to say the least, but I know whatever I’m feeling, he’s going through much worse. I seriously cannot wait for it to be over.
  • I gave up shopping and drinking for wine because those are my biggest vices and for the most part it hasn’t been too bad! I will admit I kind of regretted giving up drinking when I realized how much I missed Dalton, but then again it was probably in my best interest that I did give it up. (wow I sound like I have all kinds of issues). I don’t need wine to cope, but it sure is nice to have a glass after a stressful week at work. I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday in a few weeks 😛

Looking Ahead:

  • I honestly cannot believe I’m even writing this right now, but one thing I’m looking forward to is being able to start working out again after getting the okay from my doctor. I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I couldn’t do it at all. Now I don’t want to make it seem like I work out everyday, because I definitely do not, but I do a few times a week. I’d also like to test out my new and improved sinuses and see if I can actually run now. That might be pushing it, but I’ll report back at the end of the month!
  • Tulip Season has arrived! I will hopefully be going to Skagit Valley to see the tulip fields. It’s apparently a big deal around here, so I’m looking forward to that.
  • If Dalton passes the next two phases, I’ll be going down to Georgia for his graduation. I can’t tell you how anxious and excited and nervous I am all at once. Here’s hoping and praying he passes; I miss him so much.
  • I recently purchased a pile of books that I put in a corner and promptly forgot about. I have a bit more time on my hands lately, so my hope for April is to at least finish two books. That might be expecting too much of myself, especially given my reading track record lately, but we’ll see how that goes.

Anyway, that’s all for now! I’m excited for April and have a feeling it’s going to fly by. Hopefully it’s a good one.

Lenten Things

Happy Ash Wednesday! Today marks the beginning of the 40-day journey before Easter. It’s a time marked with sacrifices and tuna fish, and the struggle of giving something significant up for those 40 days. I usually like to do something relevant that is frivolous and doesn’t better me as a person, so this year I decided to give up shopping (my go-to for the last 3 years or so) and wine. These are important because those are the two things I’m well-known for. Those who know me know I love my wine and have a crazy shopping problem, so giving both those things up is going to be a challenge. Also it should be noted that this is a weird time for me to be giving up wine, considering my boyfriend just started Ranger School and my stomach has been in knots 24/7, and will continue to be until he graduates, so wine would’ve been my regular companion during this time. But the fact that it’s going to hurt is what makes it a worthwhile sacrifice.

I’m actually really looking forward to Lent this year. It’s the first time I’ll be away from family and have their support during this challenging spiritual journey, so I have to do a lot of soul-searching on my own. One thing I’m excited to use as a resource is my new Lenten journal and Stations of the Cross cards from Blessed Is She. I purchased them a few weeks and cannot wait to delve into it tonight. I’ve found that  need to work on my communication and personal prayer life with the Lord, so I think this is the perfect time to start. I’d like to have a dedicated time for prayer each night, which is something I’ve been slacking on. I know it’s not going to be easy, and honestly thinking about it sometimes just scares me, but I think the same can be said about any good thing in life.

Put on Love Print
Put On Love Print from Blessed Is She

And now for a Super Exciting, Nerve-wracking Life Update

Last time I wrote about my complacency in life and how I wanted to make some changes in my career/ life in general. Well, I’m happy to finally be able to say that…I got a new job and I’m moving to Washington! State, not DC. I always have to clarify that after my little announcement. That’s usually followed by the person saying something along the lines of “Washington State? But that’s SO far! And doesn’t it always rain over there?” I kid you not when I say I hear that every time.

This is a big deal for me. I’ve lived at home or with family in one way or another all my life. I’ve never been away from the comfort and security of family, so packing up and moving across the country is huge. It’s also a big deal for my family, and though I know they’re having a hard time with me moving away, they’re being supportive, which is amazing and I am so grateful to them for that.

I leave New York in 12 days. I gave my two weeks notice at my job last week, and my car is getting picked up and shipped out to Washington today. How the heck I managed to pack up everything in my room in 4 days is honestly beyond me. It is all happening so quickly, and I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, the reality of the move and just everything that comes with it. But I am so excited, despite how nervous and anxious I am as well. It has been such a roller coaster of emotions to say the least. I have a lot to do within the next few days, mostly spending quality time with my family and friends. Now that the packing is out of the way I can focus on that, which is great.

There is going to be some major adjusting to do once I get to Seattle, and let’s not even talk about all the things I’m going to miss from NYC. Seriously let’s not do that, I might start crying again. Yet despite all the feelings that go along with this, I’m relieved and proud of myself for taking this risk and giving myself a chance to do something different. I don’t know how this is going to work out, or if it even will work out at all, but I know that if I didn’t take this opportunity while I had the chance to, I would regret it forever.

So here’s to trying something new and different, and to taking chances.

Christmas shopping with Mari

It is a well-known fact that I love shopping. Okay, I don’t just love shopping…I’m a shopaholic. It took me some time to be able to admit that to myself. My family knew it and would always call me out on it, but I lived in a perfectly shaped bubble of denial. I’ve taken some steps to end my shopping addiction, such as giving it up for Lent, which worked for exactly 41 days. I even made a rule for myself that required me to ask my boyfriend before I purchased anything. That worked as well, until he shipped off to basic training. Now that he’s away and I’m on my own, there is no limit to the amount of shopping that I have done over the past month. I have a valid excuse though: Christmas shopping!

If there is one thing I love more than buying things for myself, it is buying things for other people.

I just love seeing the excitement on their faces when they open their gifts, especially when it is totally unexpected. I have honestly considered a career as a personal gift shopper for people. Do you think that would a successful business? Hmmm…

I’m a strong believer in personal gifts. I don’t think you need to spend loads of money on just one gift. Homemade gifts are usually the most personal you can get, but there are still options for the less crafty people out there (like me!)

Gift giving can be a fun or dreadful occasion, depending on how well you know the giftee*. If I’m giving someone a gift, it is usually because I know them, even if it’s just a little bit. Knowing what that person likes can go a long way. I think books make great books, but if that person hates reading (I try not to judge people who say they hate reading), getting them a book would be useless, unless it’s a book that you know for sure they will enjoy.

I try to pick a budget, setting a limit to how much I will spend for each person. I did pretty well this year with sticking to the budget for some people. For others though, not so much. It can get really hard for me not to buy something for someone once I see it, especially if I know they will love it.

I’m big on the online shopping scene. I buy everything online if I can. Actually, now that I think of it, I haven’t bought any gifts in a store this year. Avoiding crowds like the plague over here. One rule of thumb I always stick to though during my online shopping is free shipping. I refuse to pay for shipping. This can be a problem, since most stores usually only offer free shipping on orders $100 or more. It can be both a blessing and a curse. Depends on your perspective. And if I can get a discount on my purchase? Even better!

There is one Christmas shopping habit that will definitely be hard to break someday, like when I have kids of my own…buying gifts for myself. I have to buy a gift (or seven) for myself each year. The gifts I buy are mostly things that I would not be able to justify buying during the rest of the year. What better excuse is there other than discounts? Hello, 50% off! Also, I have no Christmas budget for myself, which can be fatal but somehow, I manage not go into debt. I think my mother is in my head all the time, her look of disapproval at my superficiality as I purchase yet another thing I really don’t need. That must be why my Christmas shopping habits have not killed me…yet!

I started my Christmas shopping back in October, so I had all my gifts by the beginning of December. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks just buying things for myself.

Now comes the fun part: gift wrapping! I don’t wrap the gifts I buy for myself. Gosh, how lame do you think I am? Okay, I’ve thought about doing that, but I have to think of the trees, ya know.

So these are my shopping habits. I can’t wait till Christmas morning when my family open gifts. I just hope they’re as excited as I am about their gifts! Here’s to a weekend with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Home Alone, full of gift wrapping, baking, and all-around Christmas cheer!

*Giftee? I’m not sure if that is actually a word, but if it isn’t, I am making it one now. It is officially a part of my vocabulary.

A Young Friend

Last week, I heard the unfortunate news of a childhood/family friend’s passing. He died because a drug overdose. Stanley was 22 and had struggled with depression for most of his life. Hearing about his death was inexplicable. A life ended so young. Though I hadn’t seen him for over four years, I saw his mom a few times a month. I knew he was having trouble but even still, I was shocked when I heard that he was gone. Stanley was a cool guy. He made friends with everyone and was fun to be around. When we first met freshmen year of high school, Stanley did not appreciate my sarcastic sense of humor. In fact, he was the first person that I can recall getting very upset with me because he took my jokes seriously. That was weird for me, since mostly everyone knew I always joking around and saying things sarcastically. It was a reality check for me and helped me realize that my sense of humor wasn’t appropriate at certain times with some people. I think that made a little more tolerable as a teenager as well.

On Sunday, my mom and I went to the funeral home for Stanley’s wake. The room was bigger than most but even then, there wasn’t enough space for all the people who were there. Many people came to pay their respects to Stanley’s mom and sister and that was great but I noticed something that made me really upset: people don’t know how to act at funerals. It’s like if people forget the pain that the family is feeling and they let their emotions get ahold of them. Yes, a young man’s death is a tragic thing and while it’s healthy to cry and grieve for the deceased, crying hysterically and causing a scene at the funeral home is just not right. We can’t imagine what the family is going through and our job as family and friends is to pray for and help that family, not make things harder by talking about how awful it is that he died so young. They already know that. Talking loudly over the phone is never cool either.

I’ve noticed this in many funerals but I think it struck me more because it was a young friend’s wake and there were so many people doing the same thing there.

So while Stanley and I hadn’t spoken in years before he passed, there are memories of him that will stay with me, like the group trip to DC and Christmas party at our house. Thanks to Stanley, I learned how to take others feelings into consideration and for that, I will never forget him.

Summer, where did you go?

As I was registering for my fall classes this morning, I realized that summer is almost over. Crazy, right? Feels like it was just last week that I was making plans for all the fun things I would do throughout the summer months. Have I done any of these fun things? Nope. Why is that? Laziness. I could’ve done more things, if I had just taken matters into my own hands and done something about it. I guess I could use work and my summer classes as an excuse as well, both of which take up most of my time, but still.

However, even though I haven’t done the things I had planned for the summer, it hasn’t been a bad summer at all. I’ve actually really enjoyed myself. I’ve been able to spend time with my boyfriend and both of our families, which has been great. I have made some positive changes in my life, and started on new milestones. 

There is technically still a month or so left before summer officially ends and everyone heads back to school. I have one more month to do one of things on my list. I don’t know if I will actually do any, but I’d like to think that it will happen within the next few weeks.

And now that I think of it, there is one thing that I am really glad I did this summer: bike riding in Central Park at night with my sisters, their husbands, cousins, best friend, boyfriend and his sister. We were a pretty big group! It was so magical though, seeing the city through the park at that time. If I do nothing else this summer, I’d be satisfied. Being able to have that experience before my two older sisters left back to their own homes in Spain and Michigan was priceless. Every one had fun, and the fact that we were all able to do it together made it even better. 

So maybe now is a good time to make the decision to make the most of the last weeks of summer, before the hustle and bustle of the fall season and all its madness begins! Maybe I’ll plan a big barbecue or game night, or something totally out of the ordinary! Here’s to hoping that the rest of our summer is as great as we plan! 

We got a puppy, Max got a home

I was busy looking at the clock on Friday around noon, counting down the hours till I could leave the office when I got a phone call from my brother. “Mari, I found a puppy in a shopping cart in front of the supermarket. They’re giving him away.” He sounded excited, and it took a few seconds before I understood what he was trying to tell me. When I finally processed his words, I wasted no time. I called my sister, Ana, who then called my brother back. He told her where he was, and she went to meet him there. Three hours later, she called me back to tell me that she was giving the German shepherd puppy a bath. By that time, I couldn’t stay in the office a second more. I sprinted out of there, anxious to get home and meet the little furball.

Now, we didn’t just take this puppy from the shopping cart in front of the supermarket. We figured that he could have belonged to someone, who just left him there while they went into the store to get something. (Though any one who would just leave a puppy in a shopping cart like that doesn’t deserve to have a dog in the first place.) My brother asked the manager of the store if he knew who the dog belonged to, and the guy said that it was the store’s. Apparently, they had too many dogs already and couldn’t afford to keep this one. 

Anyway, when I finally get home, I find Ana and the puppy in our room. Not surprisingly, the poor thing is terrified. He’s laying quietly on the doggie bed that belongs to our 7 year old dog, Lola. She was in our house upstate with my parents, and wouldn’t meet him until later that night. Picking a name wasn’t too hard. We had two to choose from: Max or Zeus. After getting a good look at him, we decided Max suited him better.

I guess this is a good time to mention that my parents had no idea about our little rescue. They weren’t pleased when I finally got the courage to call them up and tell them the news, but Ana and I had figured they wouldn’t be happy about it.

Max remained quiet and nervous for the rest of the evening, refusing to drink or eat anything. However, when we arrived to our country house and he saw Lola, he became a different dog. He got up on his own for the first time and started walking around the house, wagging his tail. He drank some water, but he still didn’t want to eat. Since it was his first night and we felt bad for him, we let him sleep on the floor in our room, and he slept peacefully all night. 

Mom still wasn’t happy the next morning. Dad started warming up to him immediately though, as we had expected would be the case. By the end of the day, Mom had accepted the fact that having Max wasn’t such a bad idea after all, especially since Ana would be staying in the house for the rest of the summer.

We were worried that he could’ve been sick, but fortunately, he isn’t! Three days later, Max goes to his cage on his own, pees and poops outside (with the only an occasionally accident) and runs happily around the grass, chasing Lola, who still isn’t happy about having to share her humans with another four legged creature.

My parents actually like him now, and I’ve even caught Mom talking to him and petting him! That’s called progress, people! We just found that he is not even three months old, not five months like we had thought. He is happy, eats all the time, and chews on anything within two feet. He is already a member of the family.

We are nothing without family

Well at least I am. If it wasnt for the wonderful support I receive everyday from my family and friends, I would not be where i am and who i am today. It doesnt matter if you have a big family or a small family- family is family. We were placed in eachothers life to help us become the best version of ourselves. Our family defines our morals and who we are. And sure, i know sometimes our parents or siblings can drive us crazy (especially my sisters who i know are reading this right now-love you!), but just imagine life without them for a minute….impossible, right?! It is definitely impossible for me! I know this sounds cheesy and super clique, but my 3 sisters and my  brother really are my best friends. We may all be separated by many years and are at different stages of our lives, but I wouldn’t trade the relationship we all have for the world. We are all so different, yet so alike at the same time. I like to think of the 5 of us as the 5 fingers on a hand-all different lengths but we belong together to make something work. We take our family for granted so easily. And I know there are families that are not perfect, but even if its not your immediate family, everyone should have someone to call to celebrate when something great happens or when things are going bad. Appreciate what you have, even if they drive you crazy! And that is my wrinkle of the day!