Big News: My Super Exciting Weekend!

This past weekend was pretty epic and I am excited to share some awesome news!

Friday afternoon, after MONTHS of back and forth with the bank, we FINALLY closed on our home! It has been a long time coming and these past few months have been filled with stress, stress, stress. I cannot even begin to describe all the troubles we had in trying to close, but I am so relieved to be done with the endless phone calls and emails with the bank and attorney, and the constant migraine I had after enduring all of it. We are so thrilled to finally be homeowners!

our house

Our humble abode. Note to self: take a better photo that doesn’t cut off one side of the house!

Luckily, our house is a family home. My great-grandparents built it in the 60′s, then left it to my grandfather. He was not living in it any longer, so we were able to move into the house in late November, so we’ve been in there for a bit of time, but now we officially own it. What a thrill! We were also lucky that we were able to buy it for what we would consider “starter home” price even though it’s not a starter home. We have four bedrooms and two full baths. The bedroom on the first floor is, of course, being made into my library. It’s a giant work in progress, but it IS in fact in progress. I will definitely do a full home tour with photos soon! Since we’ve been in it for a few months, it already feels like home and I’ve been busy decorating away (I’m into country / primitive style). Eventually, we’d love to update the kitchen and bathrooms, but for now we’ll probably just do some painting in those rooms to freshen them up. Prior to moving, we did a lot of painting (dining room, living room, bedroom), and that really made a world of difference.

My other excitement is that I also got a new car! My lease was ending in April, so I started looking at a car to purchase this weekend and I found “the one.” It’s a 2010 Jeep Liberty Sport with only 25,000 miles. I have always wanted a Jeep and I am so dang excited to finally own one! The car I was in was a tiny Nissan Sentra. While it was a nice car, it was HORRIBLE for our Rochester winters. I cannot tell you the number of times I got stuck in various parking lots as well as our own driveway. It is too small and low to the ground. Before the Sentra, I had an SUV and knew that I waned to go back to an SUV again, this time with 4WD so I would stop getting stuck in the snow. When I saw this car online, I immediately wanted to go in to see it. The second I got in to test drive it, I had a huge smile on my face. The day before, I test drove another vehicle and didn’t get that feeling so I knew I made the right choice in getting this Jeep. I just picked it up tonight!

my jeep

My Jeep! Love it. Ain’t she a beaut’?

Thanks for sharing in all my excitement. Great things are happening and hard work is paying off for my hubby and I. ;)

Our Love Story (the Beginning)

At the start of it all, no one really “got” us. No one thought we could ever make it work, or make something out of it at all. It seemed that Jerry and I were the only ones who believed in us, and in the end, that’s all that really mattered. And it was always, always enough.

first pic

June 16, 2012: I believe this was our first picture together!

March of 2012 I was two months into my fitness journey. I had been faithfully logging into MyFitnessPal since January (still do, in fact), when I stumbled across “TheUnwritten” on a message board. Someone had posed this question: do you get hit on more now that you’ve lost weight? TheUnwritten replied with something along the lines of, “nope, too shy!” I replied back, “I haven’t lost enough weight yet, but I’m shy too.” And since that moment, our fates were tied to one another.

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March 2012: the first picture he saw of me on MyFitnessPal. He claims he fell in love with my smile. FAT face!

TheUnwritten saw my response and thought I was cute… or so he says. I sent him a friendly inbox message and a friend request. I happened to think he was cute, too. He’d recently lost 200 pounds but still had a hard time relating to people, especially women, though he was  now fit and handsome. Making matters more difficult for him, he had grown up poor and with a stutter. He felt that he would never meet a woman and that the odds were stacked too heavily against him. Then he got the message from me. We had both received other messages on the site, nothing romantic, really, but neither of us had maintained those connections. He later told me he had liked my smile in my picture and intended to keep up the conversation at any cost. One of his first messages: “I’m Jerry, by the way.” TheUnwritten had a name!

It started innocently enough. We were just two people on opposite sides of the country (he in California and me in New York) starting an online friendship based on our shared struggles of weight loss and being shy. We never thought much of anything would really come of it; we were, after all, 3,000 miles apart. But we kept the conversation going. Our little online crushes were growing into a deeper connection.

After a couple weeks of nonstop messaging on MyFitnessPal, Jerry decided to make an attempt at being sly and try to solicit a Facebook friend request out of me. He was telling me about his adorable niece and nephew, and suggested I look at their pictures on Facebook. He gave me his full name so I could do just that. Not only did I look at his niece and nephew, I stalked the crap out of his Facebook page. But alas, Jerry’s ploy to get me to send him a friend request did not work; I told him how cute they were and we continued on our merry way on MyFitnessPal, messaging to our heart’s content. I thought that it was HIS duty to friend me, not the other way around. Bah. So petty.

A few days later, Jerry just came right out and ASKED if he could friend me on Facebook. I told him he could, but first I sneakily went through all of my photos on there, hiding the fattest and ugliest ones of me. I made them private before I accepted his friend request, only letting him see the nicest pictures of me where my body wasn’t showing. He knew I was still fat. I was only two months into this 118 pound weight loss journey, but I still worried he would no longer be interested if he saw all of me. I should have known better, but I didn’t at the time.

So, we progressed to Facebook friends. This was a step. We resumed our daily conversations via inbox (Jerry didn’t have a cell phone), and constant comments on all of each other’s achievements posted on MyFitnessPal. We made nervous confessions like middle school kids who were falling in love for the first time (“I like you,” “I think you’re cute”). After a couple more weeks of this, we progressed again: to videos, this time. Jerry made me a nervous video from the inside of his car. It was the first time I heard his voice. He tried so hard not to stutter as he told me he really liked me and wanted to keep this going. I sent him one back; it was all of 15 seconds and featured my dog, Dakota, as a buffer between him and my shyness. I acted like an idiot, showing only my face and my (ridiculously adorable) dog.

The next obvious step was to Skype. Jerry was extremely hesitant due to his stutter but I finally convinced him. With him being phone-less, it was the only real way we could communicate better. We finally got to chat face to face when he worked up the nerve. He sipped a bottle of water the whole time while I tried to put him at ease. I also tried really hard to make sure none of my fattest parts were showing; I only wanted him to see my face.

So we Skyped our hearts out every single night. I had to wait for him to get home from school. I sat impatiently at the laptop during our designated meeting times and my heart fluttered every time I saw him log on. We talked late into the night and early into the morning (for me, at least. He was three hours behind me, time-wise), every single day. We learned everything we could about each other. We laughed, and we even cried when we talked about how crappy it was that we were so far apart. We even told each other that we were starting to fall for one another. When I told my family and friends about Jerry, I’m sure they all assumed it would fizzle out. I heard countless times that if and when we met, it wouldn’t be the same and that our connection wouldn’t be there. They questioned how you could really know someone you only met online. They questioned even more how you could love someone under these circumstances. They feared I would be hurt. They thought I didn’t truly know him, even though we spoke face to face and poured our hearts out on a nightly basis. I’m glad that I listened to my heart above all else though. I love my family and friends and trust their judgement. I rarely make decisions on my own, but for the first time I made this decision alone, against everyone else’s opinion, and it was the best thing I ever did.

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June 29 and 30, 2012: my brother’s rehearsal dinner then wedding.

After a couple months of obsessively Skyping, we decided we really wanted to meet. There were obstacles, of course, one being that Jerry was unemployed and in school at the time, the other being that people thought we were crazy. Most of my family thought he would be some kind of axe murderer or something. But we finally took the plunge. I booked him tickets for a one week stay (best money I ever spent, by the way), and he arrived on June 15, 2012. All day long, I felt more anxious than I ever had in my entire life. I worked, but could hardly concentrate. I ate, but could barely stomach it. And when 9:00 FINALLY rolled around, my brother and sister in law drove me to the airport. I was dressed in a carefully picked out new outfit from Lane Bryant. I saw him first while he searched around for me. We finally locked eyes, grinned, and held onto each other for dear life. Our first kiss was a little off the mark, but we were both beyond nervous, and now it’s something for us to laugh about. The moment when our eyes first connected across the room will forever be etched into my mind as one of the greatest and most life changing moments of my life.

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June 24, 2012: Niagara Falls, Jerry’s first time!

His week here in Rochester was memorable. It was a total culture shock for Jerry, a California boy, born and raised in a mostly Mexican neighborhood (he’s 100%) and very small town to boot. He couldn’t believe all the places there were to go, how many restaurants and stores we had, the size of our mall, or the green of our trees. We ate at all my favorite restaurants, spent a day at the zoo, went to the Imax theater, visited Niagara Falls, ate chicken wings at Duff’s, and just enjoyed finally being in one another’s company in the smaller moments too, like watching Jerry’s favorite movie (the original Evil Dead) together at home. When everyone met him, they loved him as much as I did. They told me they doubted me at first, but now they understood. They admitted I was right when they saw us together. He became a part of our family in a matter of days. We had some of the best days of our lives together in those first days. We really did. But we knew our time would be coming to an end soon enough. We basked in the happy moments of bliss, but our stomachs filled with dread any time we thought about him having to leave soon. I cried and cried. He hugged me and promised he would be back, someway, somehow, but I could not bear to let him go. We eventually decided last minute to cancel his ticket back to California, 3,000 miles away from the happiness we had finally found.

He would stay with me.

That was our beginning. It was the beginning of everything.

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Summer 2013: my soul mate, my everything.

Review: The Golden Apple by Faerl Marie

Title: The Golden Applegolden
Author: Faerl Marie
Genre/Audience: Women’s fiction, adult
Publication: 2013
Source: For review, CLP Tours

Poppy Parker is a young southern widow who doesn’t know how or when to move forward with her life. After nearly a year has gone by since the sudden death of her husband, Poppy realizes she isn’t really living – she’s only grieving. She decides it might be time for a fresh start and packs up some of her Georgia home to move to New York City with a friend. She plans on opening a boutique. As love interests and dates start rolling in, Poppy continually struggles to move on. She becomes involved in various relationships as she tries to start her life over and wonders if it’s okay to love again, and in a different way.

This book was a win for me right off the bat as it contains two of my favorite things to read about and totally combines the two: New York City and Southern people. I really enjoyed both of these aspects. Honestly, if I could live anywhere in the world (and only if I could take all my loved ones with me), it would be a toss up between NYC and down South! I know – totally opposite ends of the spectrum, but whatever.

This book, while sad, was really interesting to read. Poppy’s emotions were all over the place, as to be expected, and I could really feel for her and her struggles. Faerl did a great job of depicting her sadness and grief, as well as her questioning when / if she should move on. I was able to really get inside Poppy’s head and see where she was coming from. Her questions and thoughts were realistic: is it okay to move on or is it a betrayal? Is it okay to love a different man in a different way, even though he’s the total opposite of Josh (her deceased husband)? I really liked getting to know her and understand her better throughout the novel.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable read. I’d recommend it for fans of women’s fiction.

My Rating: 4/5

Review: I Know You’re There by Susan Allison-Dean

Title: I Know You’re Therei know
Author: Susan Allison-Dean
Genre/Audience: Contemporary fiction, adult
Publication: 2013
Source: For review, CLP Tours

I Know You’re There is the story of Jill, a young and caring nurse with a great life ahead of her. She loves her work and life until things take a bad turn. In just a short time, she and her long-term boyfriend cut ties and she gets into a horrific car crash that changes her life. She also discovers tragic family secrets that will shake her to her core. In a bold moment, and not knowing what else to do, she books a spontaneous trip to a faraway island to escape her downward spiraling life. There, she begins to come to terms with what life has thrown her way, and begins to think she can enjoy life once again.

I Know You’re There is a story with a lot of potential. It was a quick read with a very likeable main character that I immediately empathized with. Her need to help and save people is one that many people can relate to, and I enjoyed the nursing aspect as my sister-in-law is a nurse herself. You can tell that the author knows her stuff, too. She worked as a nurse.

The beginning of the story shows Jill’s life before the car accident, and her life after. She has to learn to deal with a new normal, and learn to take back control of her life. The second half of the story takes place on an island called Triton, described as “Heaven on Earth.” I really enjoyed the scenery and descriptions of the island life; it reminded of my honeymoon!

I did have a couple of problems with the book though. I felt that it could have used some heavy editing. There were a lot of awkward sentences and dialogue, as well as a number of grammatical errors. Most noticeably, I observed a number of times where there was a comma used to separate what should have been two complete sentences. These issues made the story feel a bit disjointed.

As I said, I feel the story had a lot of potential with a highly likeable character and a beautiful setting, that perhaps more focus and editing could have helped with. I thought that the outcome of the car accident, wherein a couple died, leaving their baby an orphan, could have made for a fascinating story. The story, however, took a complete twist and focused instead on Jill, her family, and her trip to Triton.

As always, I give this author a lot of props and credit – she’s written a book and she should be very proud of herself! I would certainly give her future works another shot and believe she had some very good ideas that just needed some better editing and focus.

My Rating: 2/5

Review: My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Title: My Storymy story
Author: Elizabeth Smart
Genre/Audience: Memoir, true crime, adult
Publication:
Source: Library

It’s always hard for me to rate and review books that contain such personal stories and ordeals, like this one.

Many of you probably remember the story of Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home in 2002. She was 14 years old and held captive by Brian David Mitchell and his wife. She was held in captivity for nine long months in outdoor “camps.” She was abused both physically and mentally, starved, raped, and made to live in fear with the constant threats made by her captors who convinced her that if she ever tried to escape, her family would be killed.

It was extremely heartbreaking and fascinating to finally hear the whole story directly from Elizabeth herself. I was shocked by all of the horrors that she endured and how delusional Mitchell appeared to be. It sickened me how he pretended and faked his way through life. He pretended that he was a prophet and that he was doing all of these horrific things because he was told to do so by God. He was a master manipulator who “preached” on the streets for money, stole things from stores, and convinced others he was doing it all in the name of religion. He was a phony and a criminal and how he got away with it for so long, I will never understand.

This account of Elizabeth’s ordeal is quite detailed and all encompassing. If you’re interested in following crime cases, as I am, this would be a good choice for you to pick up. I’m also planning on reading some additional books about this case from other authors just to get some other perspectives and information, but this is obviously the definitive account and one that I’d recommend. I will add that it is NOT amazingly well written, but the more important thing is the content and that Elizabeth was able to have her voice heard. I would also highly recommend A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped and endured some very similar things for 18 years. You can check out my review for that HERE.

My Rating: 4/5

On Being a Night-Shift Wife

Just a few short weeks after Jerry and I married in October, our hopes and dreams were answered in the form of a steady, excellent, full time job with benefits for Jerry. He arrived here in Rochester in June 2012 and struggled to find a good fit for him job-wise for a very long time. He’s been working basically the whole time he’s been here, but most jobs were part time, full time without benefits, and then a full time job with benefits that was only a temporary job. We had so much anxiety about how we would afford to move out on our own, and how we would ever afford health insurance. After hundreds of applications and no job offers, we were feeling very discouraged.

Then things happened very quickly in November, right after our honeymoon return. Jerry received THREE offers in the same week! One was for a promotion at the company he worked for at the time, one was a part time hospital job, and one was the job he accepted and is currently at: a full time job with benefits, health insurance, retirement, and the whole shebang. After some hemming and hawing, the decision was made to take that job because the benefits could not be beat.

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I text him super attractive selfies like these ones so he doesn’t miss my face too much. Luckily, he thinks I’m as funny as I do. ;)

Jerry loves his job working in building services at the local community college. It’s an amazing place that I attended for 1.5 years of my undergrad and loved. I am endlessly proud of him for how hard he worked to finally land this job and we are so relieved because this job helps provide for us many of the things we need. The downside, however, is that I am now a night-shift wife, and a newlywed to boot, which makes it even harder.

See, I work days and get out of work at 5PM. Jerry STARTS at 5PM. That means that on weekdays, we really don’t see each other. Sure, he sees me when he gets home in the middle of the night and I’m asleep, and I see him in the morning when I wake up for work and HE’S asleep, but that’s not really quality time, now is it? We text through the day and night and cherish every second of our weekends together. Buuut, since I’m also at the start of my own career, I also work Saturday mornings, getting out at 2. I LOVE my Saturday morning shift but I miss the time with my husband.

So on weekday evenings, I’m a night-shift wife. I get out of work, usually have dinner with my parents, then head on home to our quiet, empty house. My dog, Dakota, keeps me company. An introvert by nature, I have always thrived on and cherished alone time where I can recharge my batteries and just be by myself. I love quiet time full of books and shows and blogging. In fact, I get quite stressed out when I have a lot of plans and quite like the rare occasion when my calendar is empty and clear of all social obligations. As much as I love alone time, and always have, I miss my husband. I want to just have dinner with him, go shopping with him, curl up and watch movies with him, even just have him next to me while I read and he games. And while we get to do these things on the weekends, after I get out on Saturdays, our day and a half together goes by way too quickly every time. It makes us appreciate each other more, sure, and our time together is wonderful since it’s so rare, but I still envy all the couples who get to spend all their evenings together just doing the mundane things that people take for granted.

I’m trying to branch out, be more social, and get out there a bit more. I’ve started a book club which has been fun and successful, and am going to start going to a craft night this month. Being social doesn’t come naturally to me, but I need to try a bit harder at it so that I don’t spend ALL my week nights alone, though I do enjoy them frequently.

Anyway, I hope this night-shift isn’t forever. Hopefully he can get a day shift eventually, but for now I know it’s necessary. It’s one of those “you gotta do what you gotta do” situations, ya know? For now, I’m trying to take it all in stride. I’m trying to cherish the quiet moments, make the most of our rare time together, and be more social with friends so I’m not so lonely. I’m sad that I’m a newlywed who rarely sees her husband, but I’m proud of my husband even more-so. Even though I try not to dwell on it too much, and some days are harder than others, I know we will be okay… just as long as I keep on sending selfies.

Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Title: The Knife of Never Letting Goknife
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre/Audience: Dystopia, young adult
Publication: Candlewick, 2009
Source: Library

Mehhhh. That is how I feel about this book at the moment and I know it’s not a very popular opinion, but I’m just being honest.

This was another book out of my comfort zone that I read for my Forever YA book club. I would have ordinarily never picked this up, but it was the February selection so I gave it a go out of obligation.

So. The story takes place in the future on some other planet called New World. Todd Hewitt is our 13-ish year old narrator who lives in a town full of men, and is the last remaining “boy.” All the women were killed off when the settlers arrived on New World, by the Noise germ, and only men remain. Yes, when Todd’s people arrived on the planet, they began hearing each other’s every thought AKA Noise. Todd, being the last boy, however, doesn’t know the whole story. He’ll find out in a month when he becomes a man, but before that can happen, he is forced to flee with his dog, whose Noise can also be heard. Todd’s surrogate fathers tell him to run away without any explanation, but Todd knows it must be something sinister and begrudgingly obeys. He leaves the only home he has ever known and soon stumbles across a young girl. But how can that be? All females were killed by the germ when they settled on New World, weren’t they? Todd and this girl must face difficult and harsh realities while escaping a violent and hostile pursuit from some not so well-meaning men intent on finding Todd.

This story was very unique, I will say that, and I have enjoyed a dystopian novel or two (particularly All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin), but it’s not my usual cuppa tea and this one was not. My cuppa, that is. Action and adventure have never really been my thang, and while I enjoy a good suspense novel, I don’t really enjoy adventure novels, and I do believe there is a difference. I like realistic suspense reads that are grounded in reality; I’m more of a contemporary or realistic fiction kind of fan. This was a total action, adventure, thrill ride through the woods and down the river kinda thing.

All that said, the plot was very interesting and different, and I also really loved Manchee, the talking dog. I was intrigued by the story and even read the last 200 pages rapidly because I wanted to see how it would end. It was captivating and attention grabbing at times and the writing was quite good… but I just never really got all that into it. I felt that it was kind of repetitive. Todd and the girl run and escape, then up pops the bad guy and someone gets hurt. They run and escape again, then up pops the bad guy and someone gets hurt, over and over and over again. It got a bit tiring and boring reading the same thing repeatedly, ya know?

Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. I know A LOT of people really love this series, and I can totally see why – it’s very  fascinating! But again, I’m just personally not into adventure type books so I never found myself fully immersed in the story, until the very end. This is the first in a trilogy of very long books, and I’m curious to know how it all turns out, but I’m still not sure I liked it enough to keep reading. This is what stinks about series sometimes – I invested many hours in this nearly 500 page book and I still don’t even know the half of it; I have no satisfaction nor do I know how the story really ends. Will I read the rest of the trilogy? Well, the jury’s still out on that one.

My Rating: 3/5

Goodbye February!

Ohhh, February. Though it was a short month, it seemed to drag on. It was not nearly as eventful as January was, and definitely not as fun. It had its good moments, but I’m not sad to see it go. Between the continued horrific weather, and worst of all, losing Oliver, I’m glad to put it behind me and move on. It’s March now, so we’re hoping for some spring-like weather, but us New Yorkers know never to get our hopes up. The cold will continue indefinitely. Boo hiss.

The only real things of note for this month were the loss of Oliver and Valentine’s Day. Oliver’s death seems like eons ago. Has it really only been two weeks? I’m certainly feeling better about it all, but every time he runs across my mind, I’m hit with the sadness all over again. There’s a tiny little Oliver shaped hole in my heart.

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From the husband – aww!

Onto happier things… our first married Valentine’s Day! I work the day shift and Jerry works a late night shift (5PM to 1:30 AM), so during the week, we hardly get to see each other. Not going to lie, it sucks. Needless to say, with Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday this year, I wasn’t expecting much. We planned to celebrate on Saturday instead. However, Jerry was kind enough to surprise me at work on Friday with lunch from my favorite Puerto Rican restaurant down the road, a slice of cookie cake (our favorite – it was dessert at our wedding rehearsal dinner), and a vase of flowers with a bear and chocolates attached. My man sure is sweet and thoughtful; I just love that about him. On Saturday, we opted to skip out of the expensive dinner out we had planned (we are buying a house, after all) and went for our favorite frozen yogurt instead. We also went to two of my favorite craft and antique co-ops where Jerry let me pick out some new decor and dolls as a V-day gift. He went above and beyond for me! I took him to breakfast and to get some new boots as a gift to him the week before. Our Valentine’s celebration was certainly not traditional, but we made it our own.

The month was pretty busy but still seemed uneventful. I went to dinner with my parents a few times, went to dinner with two of my best friends, Taylor and Katie, and met Katie’s new Ragdoll kitten, went and watched a movie with my cousin who was dogsitting for our aunt, and  had a great book club meeting at my house. I felt like I was constantly busy and on the go, but not with anything major. It was nice to be social for once, but I always feel like I need to get home and recharge my batteries after a week full of socializing. That’s the introvert in me talking!

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Me with some of my V-day gift primitive dolls!

I’ve continued to decorate our house and am loving how it’s coming along. I’m hoping to tackle the bathroom this month by tearing down the old wallpaper and painting the walls. As for my style, I’m obsessed with the primitive country look, as you may have seen me mention, and I’m having so much fun decorating and searching for new prims… when the budget allows, of course! My new obsession that started in February are primitive folk dolls! I’ve got a small collection going and am planning to keep adding to it. When I visit my handy grandmother in Florida next, we are going to try and make our own. For now, I love looking for new dolls to buy and add to my collection. Primitive dolls are typically ugly but in a cute way. It’s hard to explain! I’m going to create a post soon showcasing my new decorations and do a little house tour though, so watch for that soon!

As for blogging, this was a pretty great month, despite a ten day streak with no posts (due to all my socializing!). I managed to blog 11 times during this short month! I just counted it up and was quite impressed with myself. ;) My goal is two times a week which would put me at eight a month so I exceeded that goal. As for reading… ugh. Like in January, I only got through 2.5 books this month. This does not bode well for my 100 book a year goal AT ALL. It’s really a smart phone epidemic, I swear. I spend WAY too much time wasting time on my phone that I would have spent reading back in the day. I mean, there are other factors as well, such as working, having a new husband, having a new home and all the accompanying responsibilities, being more social, etc. But still! I am feeling so lame and I am so far behind in my goal already. I need to step it up!

In March, I’d like to maintain my blogging frequency and keep being super active on here. I’d also like to read at least four books. I’m SUPER enjoying personal blogging and am going to try to continue coming up with new, creative personal posts in addition to my bookish posts. I like doing both. I’ve also made a few new blogging friends, now that I’m reading more personal blogs to go along with my newly revamped, partly personal blog. I’m continuing to look for more personal/lifestyle blogs to read so please let me know some of your favorites! As for the bookish aspect, I have not forgotten about it, but I’ve just been reading so slowly and therefore not having a whole lot of reviews to write. I do have a new book review scheduled for Monday though!

So that’s it for me! I’m looking forward to reading more and doing some more work to the house in March – those are my main goals for the month. Oh, also? We should be closing on the house very shortly so EEEE! Aaaand, my nephew is 8 months old today. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I love that little man.

Happy March, everyone!

I’m an adult?

Sometimes I feel like I’m just pretending to be an adult.

Since getting married and moving out on our own a few months ago, my life has changed quite a bit. First off, I’m somebody’s wife now. WHOA. Still seems crazy to me (but good crazy!). And we have our own house now which is wild. I do laundry, I tidy up, I obsess over decor, I try (on occasion) to cook. We pay bills (ugh), we talk about children (WHAT!?), we get excited when we finally order garbage service since we’ve been lugging our trash to my parent’s house (yes, seriously, I was stoked when we got our own garbage tote and service! Yay, garbage!).

Anyway, it’s fun (except for the bills part), but it just doesn’t seem like reality all the time yet. It’s starting to sink in a bit more each day, but wasn’t it just yesterday that my friends and I were making movies and graduating high school? Oh wait, I guess that was 7 years ago now(!!!). I’m enjoying learning all these new things with my husband. I love the routines we’ve established and the life we’re creating. My new favorite hobbies include scouring craft antique co-ops for home decor (I’m all about the primitives) then obsessively arranging my new treasures, and pinning bathroom and kitchen remodel ideas on Pinterest. Since when do I care what a bathroom looks like? Since now, apparently. And maybe someday we will actually have the money to execute these remodel plans I’ve been squirreling away on virtual corkboards. I’m going for the primitive look all over the house, instead of the 70′s style bathroom and kitchen we’re currently rocking (my great-grandparents built this home and I love it but it needs some updating).

I remember not too long ago being dragged to craft antique co-ops by my parents and hating every moment of it. Now, I drag my husband every single chance I get (and he’s usually quite a trooper. I suppose the free coffee and cookies don’t hurt). Other things I do now? Turn out all the lights and electronics to save on our electric bill. Close cupboards. Put things away immediately. Swiffer the whole house on the weekends. Ya know, fun adult stuff that my parents used to beg me to do and now I understand why.

So needless to say, it’s been an adjustment, and a very good one at that, but sometimes I’m left wondering, “when the hell did I become an adult?” It feels like it happened overnight sometimes. It feels like just yesterday I was goofing off with my friends in school. I also think I’m at that awkward life stage where SOME of my classmates are getting married, buying houses, etc. but a lot of them aren’t yet. I think a lot of them are straddling the line between childhood and adulthood still, and to be honest? So am I. But it’s been quite fun so far, growing up with my husband by my side. We still have some growing up to do before we’re full-fledged adults, but we’re getting there, one bill at a time!

Got lots of adult gifts at my bridal shower over the summer, like this vacuum cleaner!

Got lots of adult gifts at my bridal shower over the summer, like this vacuum cleaner!

Falling Off the (Fitness) Wagon

When Jerry and I got married in October 2013, I had been logging my calories and exercise on MyfitnessPal for 22 months straight, day in and day out, after having started my fitness journey in January 2012. By the time our wedding rolled around, I had been nearly flawless in my food tracking and exercise for nearly two years straight. Unless it was our weekly cheat meal, not a morsel passed by my lips unlogged and unaccounted for. I was perfect in my logging and I had lost 118 pounds because of it.

food

The dessert table before everything else was put out and promptly demolished. At least our cupcake tower was pretty… and delicious!

Then it was our wedding and things just got crazy. The week before the wedding, family arrived in town and it was constant celebrating and catching up over meals at our favorite restaurants and frozen custard at the beach. Our rehearsal dinner was held at our favorite Italian restaurant with decadent and fattening foods, followed by our favorite cookie cake loaded with frosting. The actual wedding reception itself could have been bad for me too, except that I was so anxious and excited that I could hardly eat (a first for this foodie!). At any rate, we had prime rib (Jerry’s favorite), fettuccine alfredo (my favorite), and a variety of other amazing Italian food. Our dessert buffet was to  die for, but our wedding guests raided it before we got a chance, leaving Jerry and I with only cupcakes and brownies (still delicious, but we missed out on the cake balls, Oreo truffles, chocolate covered strawberries, mini cheesecakes, and more. Can you tell we’re still bitter?).

Barbecue Buffet on the beach in the Bahamas!

Barbecue Buffet on the beach in CoCo Cay!

Then we woke up the next morning and it was honeymoon cruise time! We started the morning with leftover cupcakes and cookie cake and proceeded to eat nonstop for the next seven days. Anyone who has been on a cruise knows that the best part of a cruise? Is the food. It’s available all the time in the form of elaborate and ginormous buffets, classy dining rooms, room service, and ice cream poolside. For two foodies who had been so incredibly strict about their diets for the past two-ish years… we were in heaven!

We told ourselves that we would get right back to our regimen the day we returned home. In fact, we were looking forward to it after all the gorging we had been doing. But then we got back home and discovered it’s not so easy getting back on track after you’ve been OFF track for two weeks straight. I don’t regret for one minute what we did. We’re only getting married once and honeymooning once, and I’m so glad we lived it up and enjoyed ourselves to the fullest. But it’s not been easy ever since.

I wouldn’t say we’re fully off the wagon now. I’d say we’re straddling the wagon and holding on for dear life as we hang half off, half on. Immediately following our return, it was Thanksgiving, then it was Christmas, then it was both of our birthdays in January. We’ve been in a constant state of celebration since OCTOBER! That certainly doesn’t make things easier, but we need, so badly, to refocus.

First things first, we know we have a problem and we’re admitting it. That’s the first step, right? We are struggling and I know why. Before October, we were so strict it HURT. It led us to being successful with our weight loss, but we weren’t always successful in other areas that mattered. Our aim was so laser focused that we often neglected family and friends, to an extent. We were constantly turning down dinner and party invitations because we didn’t want to face the food temptations. Instead, we’d stay home eating our healthier meals. This is not a good way to live. Yes, we want to be healthy, but not at the expense of a normal life. Now, we go to those parties and dinners and we CAN’T fight the temptations. We need to find that happy medium and it’s been a real struggle. We need to be strict enough that we maintain our health, but we also can’t be so strict that we forgo a normal life and relationships.

I so badly want to have a normal relationship with food, but I just can’t. I’ve been successful because of my willpower, not because of my relationship with food. I just want to be able to eat a meal without needing to log it to hold myself accountable, but when I decide not to log it, I usually can’t control myself and I eat more than I should. This is hard to admit. I thought that I would gain a healthier relationship with food after logging for so long, and I have to a degree, but when I don’t log, I just can’t be good. I think I’m going to have to be a lifetime food logger because I need that accountability to keep myself on track. That is frustrating to me.

I also need to get a bit better about my exercising. I used to be at the gym seven days a week when I was first starting out, sometimes for two hours at a time. This was okay for the initial period of weight loss, but it was ultimately not something I could maintain for the rest of my life, nor was it entirely healthy. Now, I aim to get to the gym about three to four days a week, which I feel is sufficient. I used to feel so motivated to go and kick butt though, and now not so much. I still make myself go, because I have to, but I wish I had  that same motivation that I used to. I think it’s just rough right now because it’s so snowy and miserable out. I also haven’t been running outside because it’s slippery and disgusting. I’m hoping that with the warmer weather, I will feel that need and urge to run again and push myself. I am definitely looking forward to spring and training for future races again.

So now our celebrations are done, but we’re still fighting the good fight with food and fitness. I used to log like a robot, never skipping a beat, never missing a meal. It was a rare day that I slipped up. Now, it’s a rare day that I DON’T slip up. Right now, I’m just taking it day by day by day. When I have a good day, where I’ve logged all my food and stayed within my calories limits, it’s a victory. It’s a small one, but a victory nonetheless. Quite frankly, we’re sick of starting over. We keep telling ourselves, “we’ll be bad today, but it’s back on the wagon tomorrow!” I’m sick of starting over, but I’m also sick of being so hard on myself. I need to find a balance with food, that despite two plus years of successful weight loss, I still haven’t found. Luckily, I’ve only gained about six pounds back  from my 118 pound loss, and I am trying desperately to re-lose those six, plus the last 20 after that. I keep losing a couple again, then gaining it back, so I’m still sitting right around that up six pounds mark.

I hear all these statistics about how most people who’ve lost significant amounts of weight almost always gain it back. I’m determined to beat the odds and be one of those rare people that don’t gain it all back. It’s been so damn hard, and it’s a struggle that I really will have to face every single day for the rest of my life. Some days, I feel like throwing in the towel but I know it will never come to that. I have worked too hard and come too far to ever be my former self again. Some days, it feels impossible to keep the weight off, but you know what? I once thought it was impossible to lose 118 pounds and I did it. SO THERE! :P