Friday, April 28, 2017

30 Before 30

I've been missing blogging again lately. There's been so many posts that I've wanted to write over the last few months. Here's to hoping they someday see the light of day, but until then, here's a random post.

I'm about a month away from turning 30. Entering a new decade of my life. Hal turned 30 six months ago, so for the last six months I've felt like I was already 30 too. Well, it's now finally hitting me as we're starting to plan my birthday trip that I'm actually turning 30 in a month.

Remember a few years ago when I did two posts about 30 things to do before turning 30? Well, since I'm turning 30 in a month I thought it was time for an update. You can see the old posts here. All the new ones I'm updating have pictures and are highlighted in blue. I've also updated a few of the old ones.

1. Jump off somethingWhether it be a tree by the river next to your childhood home or bungee jumping from the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe.
-I will forever love this photo of Hal and I jumping off of Angkor Wat in 2011.

2. See one of the Seven Wonders of the WorldThis is a tough one, because at 30, well, you still have the bank account of a 29-year-old. The good news here is that it doesn't necessarily have to be one of the originals—go for the Golden Gate Bridge (modern world), the Grand Canyon (natural wonder), or the Mayan ruins in the Yucat√°n Peninsula (USA Today new wonder).
-The Great Wall of China, Or Angkor Wat. I want to see more!

3. Party in Las Vegas: No person should exit their 20s without doing something they regret in Sin City. The place was basically built for us.
- While I've never partied in Vegas, and I don't have any desire to at this point, I'm going to say I have essentially done this one. New Years Eve in the Gulf of Thailand was just as crazy as anything you can get yourself into in Vegas. We probably got away with more than you can do in Vegas thanks to Cambodia's lax laws.

4. Take a vacation that isn't Spring BreakYou had your opportunity to drink beer upside down and insist you don't need sunscreen while in college.
-I feel like we've fulfilled this one this in 2012 by going to ScotlandChina, and Vietnam. Too bad we can't travel like that always.

5. Attend at least one large celebration: Mardi Gras, Full Moon Party, Easter Mass—I don't care, as long as you have to throw elbows to get to the bar, or the alter.
-New Years Eve 2015 Hal and I did Time Square with some amazingly wonderful Peace Corps friends. We snuck our way to the heart of Times Square for a hot minute, and then finally settled into our spot for where we waited for another 5 hours for the ball to drop.

6. Hit up a nude beach: If for no other reason, use the time to look around and remind yourself of how young you actually are.
-I have yet to do this one...

7. Spend several days with only what will fit in a backpackIf you can brush your teeth with river water and comb your hair with a tree branch, you can most certainly figure out how to stop turning all of your white clothes pink.
-Having nothing in the Peace Corps makes you pro at living out of a backpack. Both Hal and I only took a backpack to China for a week. We each also only took one normal school backpack for three weeks in Asia in 2016. 

8. Swim in the oceanThis is a must.
-I agree, this is a must! I've been lucky to swim in the Gulf of Thailand, the Pacific ocean, and now the Atlantic ocean and Indian oceans.

9. Sleep somewhere where you have to light a fire to stay warmKudos if you can do so without matches.
-When we went camping in Yellowstone the first night and day it was snowing. It was so cold that no one wanted to leave the fire.

10. Do some sort of adrenaline sportRaft a Class V rapid, mountain bike Whistler in the summer, surf a wave larger than your torso—meaning: do something that scares you.
-I've been white water rafting in Jackson Hole, but never all class V rapids. This may seem silly to some, but I was terrified to ride on the back of Hal's motorcycle for the first time. It's definitely an adrenaline rush every time I put on that helmet and hop on the back. 
11. Hit up one of the Caribbean islands: There are thousands to choose from. You'll most likely visit more than one in your lifetime, get a good jump on it in your 20s.
-We were so lucky to go to the Dominican Republic for our honeymoon!

12. Take one ultimate road tripIt can be with buddies, it can be camping, it can be on Route 66, Route 1, or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Double points if you have a reliable car to get there.
-For my graduation present we drove from Utah to LA, up to San Fran, into Oregon and then back through Nevada and into Utah. It was such a blast!

13. Go somewhere alone: At 30 you should be confident and worldly enough to wake up in a foreign country and know how to get yourself home.
- When I was younger the idea of traveling alone was very scary. I've traveled quite a few times by myself now, mainly for work. Here I am in Miami.

14. Take a train somewhereThere are no hidden innuendos here. It's just nice to have the patience and maturity to sit still and watch the world go by.
-My first time on a legit train was in China from Bejing to the city of Xian.

15. Go to a music festivalHit up one of the big ones (Coachella, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury) and spend the weekend listening to good music, dancing, and having random song lyrics make you contemplate what you're doing with your life.
- During the college days I went to Warped Tour a few times. Since I'm not sure if any of those pictures still exist, enjoy this picture of baby Sam waiting in line to see HelloGoodbye, who I also saw at Warped Tour where I stalked them until they signed my CD.

16. Have one iconic Americana experienceThink Dollywood, Graceland, and Branson.
-I've never been to any of these places, and literally didn't know what Branson was until I saw it on an episode of the Simpsons. Guess there's still time to make it over to one of them.

17. Go to at least one of the Smithsonian museumsThe world's "largest museum and research complex" includes 19 museums, galleries, and parks—the majority of which are free.
- Moving to DC really helped this one. We've been to most of the Smithsonian museums out here, but we still have a few more to visit. Just this week we went to the wonderful Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, which is as Smithsonian Museum. You get two pictures for this one, because it was that cool.

18. Summit a mountain: I'm not talking Everest, but you should by now have stood on a mountain peak high enough that you're worried about getting back down.
- July 4, 2015, Here I am on top of Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park.

19. Be able to name your top five dream vacationsIt's OK if one of them is "home."
- 1. Iceland 2. Eastern Europe 3. Scuba diving at Grand Cayman 4. Hiking Machu Picchu 5. A giant road trip over all of the U.S.

20. See a game at a classic ballpark: If Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, or Joe Dimaggio hasn't played in it, it doesn't count.
-I've only been to a National's game, but those are pretty darn fun.

21. Visit a neighbor to our north or south: There's a hall pass to be had for out of the continent, but by 30 you should have crossed at least one landlocked border.
-September 2016. For our 8th anniversary Hal and I finally made it to Canada. Here we are at Niagra Falls and we spent the weekend in Toronto.

22. Do something so adventurous that it requires a doctor's visitWhether it requires a series of preventative vaccines before or a cast/splint/cream after, the goal here is that the adventure at hand was so extreme that you need to seek the advice of a trained professional.
-I'm gonna say the many doctors appointments I needed to pass the medical requirements to qualify to join the Peace Corps count. Especially since I caught Dengue Fever while in Cambodia.

23. Save pennies to go somewhere you really want to goIt doesn't have to be extravagant, but you should have to work for it.
-We saved our pennies to pay for out Scotland trip, which was the trip I had been dreaming of since I was a teenager. We went in 2012.

24. Go to New York CityEat a slice of pizza, stand in the middle of Times Square, and ride the Subway to somewhere, anywhere. This trip is made even better if you can't afford a decent hotel and book a hostel instead.
-New York was my favorite part of my honeymoon. We've been lucky to go back quite a few time since moving to DC.

25. Sleep under the stars: In your backyard, in a tent on safari in Kenya, or in the camping pit of an organized event—be extra proud if your experience was made significantly more successful by a can of bug spray.
-I've definitely slept in the backyard under the stars, or in my sleeping bag while camping. I miss the mountain stars out west.

26. Eat an iconic city meal: Options include a cheesesteak in Philly, clam chowder in Boston, deep-dish pizza in Chicago, crabs in Baltimore, gumbo in New Orleans, BBQ in Memphis, and a beer in Milwaukee.
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- I finally did it. I don't eat cheese or steak and I'm not supposed to eat bread, but I tried that dang philly cheesesteak in Philly in March 2017.

27. Know all of the best places to take tourists in your home cityPhilly's LOVE Park may be just a point of congestion to locals, but trust me, your mother will love it.
-I could probably still play tour guide to Salt Lake, but we've definitely been a tour guide many many times here in DC.

28. Have one close encounter with a wild animalIf this means you don a wetsuit and slip into a tank with dolphins, so be it. But let's aim for something in the wild if at all possible.
-When we went to Yellowstone for my birthday back in 2010 we were charged by an elk in our campsite and a bear came running at our van, chasing after someone. He stopped on the side of the road, stood up with his claws in the air and then he turned around and walked back into the forest.

29. Parachute out of something that is working perfectly fine, for no legitimate reasonThe obvious choose here is an airplane, but I'll accept others as long as they're moving.
-I have yet to do this one, but it's definitely on my bucket list.

30. Know a dance well enough that you could keep up with the localsTango with Argentinians, Salsa with Cubans, Kathak in India, do a jig with the Irish, or line dance in Kansas.
- We Khmer danced like we were born to do it. We've since Khmer danced a few times at Khmer New Year celebrations here in the US.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year...New Something

I essentially had to put my life on hold for the last year because of school. I had very little free personal time to do the things I wanted to do. So this year, it's all about me and finally doing the things I've been looking forward to for years. You know all of those things you have in the back of your mind where you think, "I really want to do that", but you're too lazy to ever actually do them? Am I the only one?

Well school made me kick my lazy habits - I didn't have time to be lazy, so I'm using my new found productive habits to make some changes this year. I'm not much for new years resolutions, but I've felt a lot of momentum with the start of the new year, and had some ideas floating around in my head so I thought I'd start by getting them all down, mostly for my own sake.

A year-long spending fast.
Last year I read an article about a guy who went on a spending fast and it was really inspiring. The article wasn't necessarily about how much money he saved by not spending money for a year, but more about how he learned he was spending money on unnecessary items. It's not like we're bad at saving money, but we're so close to paying off the loan for our house renovation and this could help us pay it off in just a few months.

I haven't quite hammered out all of the details, but for now here's some of the terms I've set for myself.

  • No new clothes (including shoes)
  • No new electronics.
  • No new music or books.
  • No new beauty products (unless I'm replacing something I've run out of, and then the replacement must be equal or lesser value of what I ran out of).
  • Eat out less (possibly only twice a month. two lunches and two dinners).
  • No new household items (unless it's a need, like we need new sheetrock for the ceiling we ripped down a few weeks ago. Not like I need to have this rug in my life.).
This doesn't mean I can never spend money. When I'm given gift cards, I can use them. I've actually been saving up gift cards for the last year in preparation for this spending fast and for when I see that skirt I just gotta have. I've reached the place where I'd rather be spending my money on experiences, rather than things and if I want to be able to travel a lot I need to start saving.

Produce less waste.
It's astonishing how much waste we produce in any given day, so I've made it a personal goal to try and produce less waste throughout the year. We waste so much money by letting food go bad in our fridge. I get bored or no longer want it, or forget it's in there, so it just goes bad and goes to waste. Here's some ideas I've had on how to produce less waste. Let me know if you've found any helpful tricks to produce less waste in your life.

  • Bring my own bags grocery shopping. 
  • Bring my own containers for bulk or fresh items.
  • Start composting.
  • Recycle more.
  • Use the food already in my fridge before it goes bad.

Cook more.
I don't love cooking, but I love eating healthy fresh food. You can see how these goals kind of intertwine with one another. I want to spend less money, and not let food go to waste - therefore I gotta cook more. Hal and I have been going more vegetarian and vegan for a while, so I'm excited to start eating more fresh healthy delicious food.

All of this is really just positive changes in my life that I can make to be happier, healthier and to travel more and experience all this wonderful, beautiful world has to offer.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 year in review

I didn't blog once in 2016. Maybe after you read about all the things that happened in 2016, you'll understand a little more. I have loved having this blog to look back on, to remember things, or to look up information I posted about and I'm sad I've lost a whole year of that, but when you barely have time to sleep, something's gotta give, and for me it was the blog.

For my memory's sake here's a 12 picture review of the crazy, awful, and wonderful year we've had.

1. I started paralegal school at Georgetown University
The main reason why this blog died this year was because of school. I enrolled in Georgetown's paralegal studies program and was working full time and going to school full time for an entire year. It ate up all of my free time, but I learned a lot and made some friends, and came out with my paralegal certificate in the end. Which then led to a surprise promotion at work. You're looking at the legal department's newest and only paralegal.

2. Hal started a new job
Hal very suddenly received an amazing job offer at a really cool biotech he just couldn't turn down. He said Bye Felicia to EY and working a billion hours and hello to growth, new opportunities and a company that is actually working to cure diseases and save lives.

3. We bought a house
After searching for a house for almost a year, we found our perfect little first house. It's exactly what we were waiting for, in the exact neighborhood we wanted to live in, and for the price we were looking for. Seriously, the planets could not have aligned more perfectly. We wanted something that was a good price and wasn't already remodeled, so we could make it exactly how we wanted. We bought a house and left for Asia the next day.

4. We spent 3 weeks in Asia
In January while we were snowed in a friend notified us there was a mistake fair to Asia. $450 roundtrip tickets and a break in-between semesters led to perfect timing to spend 3 weeks backpacking across Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. It was such an adventurous trip and we even came back with a huge dinner table from Cambodia. We had clothes made in Vietnam and ate all the pho, toured breathtaking ancient temples in Myanmar, got scuba certified in Thailand and went back to our village in Cambodia, saw our friends, family and students.

5. We gutted our first floor
We bought our house, left for Asia the next day and while we were gone, this is what our house looked like. The house was supposed to be almost done by the time we moved in, but we ran into some problems with permitting and plumbing, and it took a month and a half longer to finish than planned. Meanwhile everything we owned had to be in the three rooms upstairs, we had to live without a kitchen for two months and without running water for days at a time.

6. We remodeled it into a home we love
I literally just walked downstairs and took this photo since people had been asking for more photos of our house. While it was such a pain to live through the remodel, to say we're in love with how it turned out would be an understatement. We just ran with the ideas in our head, didn't listen to anyone else and are so happy with how it turned out. Now we get to slowly remodel the upstairs ourselves.

7. We expanded our animal farm
Little miss Maeby joined our family in July. We pulled the trigger right as our remodel was ending and rescued this snuggle bug. She was a breeder dog who was turned out and on death's door when the rescue found her. She loves people almost as much as she loves blankets and will snuggle all day long.

8. No more antibiotics
I took this picture the very first morning I didn't have to take antibiotics with my breakfast in almost 2 years. I still take quite a few supplements and tinctures, but my doctor has slowly been weaning me off of them, while ensuring my body will stay strong and healthy on its own. While my journey with Lyme isn't over, nor will it ever be, I'm finally on the up and up.

9. We went to Canada
Neither Hal or I had been to Canada before, so Hal planned a surprise anniversary trip to Niagara Falls and Toronto. Niagara Falls was breathtaking. And we stayed in Kensington Market area of Toronto, a wonderful hipster neighborhood which we loved. We also found Toronto was plentiful with mangosteen, our favorite fruit, which is hard to find in America.

10. Hal turned the big 3-0
Hal turned 30 the day after I finished school, and I was so glad we got to celebrate together. I threw him a surprise birthday party. We were so honored so many friends from all different parts of our life came together to celebrate Hal with us.

11. We ran a Spartan Sprint
Spartan Sprints are a 5 mile 25 obstacle race. I viewed this race as a sign of conquering Lyme Disease. For the first time in almost 3 years I had the energy to work out, so I set the goal to run the race with Hal's family. We had so much fun. We did it all together, helping each other and encouraging each other along the way. I never thought I'd say this, but I can't wait until we do it again.

12. We survived
Hal and I enjoyed staying home for Christmas last year so much, we decided to do it again. We hosted Christmas Eve for some friends, then headed down to Williamsburg and spent some time in Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. It was so nice to have some time to do nothing but hang out and reconnect after such a busy, stressful year.  When 2015 ended, it was such a hard year and I remember writing the year in review just feeling like the hard times weren't over. While this list focuses on the wonderful things that happened to us in 2016, it was a hard year on so many fronts for both of us. We made it through remodels, awful elections, sicknesses and school and have finally made it to the other side of 2016. Thankfully it feels like 2017 is also going to be on the up and up. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Christmas 2015 and Charlottesville

I'm so far behind in posting and I don't even care anymore. I'm working full time and essentially going to school full time, so if I get a chance to post, it's a lucky day.

We had such an amazing Christmas. After our trip to Cambodia fell through we decided to stay in the DC area instead of spending a million dollars to go home for the holidays. And honestly, it was such a great decision.
On Christmas Eve we had dinner and a little program with 3 other couples who also stayed home. Everyone brought traditions from their families and we played games and laughed and ate so much food. It was such a great night.

On Christmas we relaxed at home and opened presents. We were so lucky that we had such kind family who shipped us presents so we could still share the day with them. After sitting on our butts all morning we headed out to my family's tradition of seeing a movie on Christmas. I've done this my whole life and it's surprising how many people have joined in in the last few years.
Hal's work gave him a last minute gift and we decided to use it and go somewhere fun for a few days. We left Christmas afternoon and headed down to Charlottesville, VA. We took a little inspiration from A Christmas Story and tried to find a Chinese restaurant open for dinner. It took a lot of calling, but we finally found one open and had a delicious Christmas Chinese feast in our hotel room.

We started out our trip by heading up to Monticello. Unfortunately it was raining and super foggy the entire time we were there, but luckily it made for really cool photos. We both thoroughly enjoyed Monticello. It was really cool to see how Jefferson was impacted by his time in Europe and how he drastically altered his designs based on the inspiration he saw all over Europe. My favorite parts were the really cool clock in the first room of the tour, seeing his actual boots in his bedroom, and seeing his pulley door in the main sitting room.
That same day we headed down to see the Great Caverns. I realized I had never been in a cavern before, so I was pretty darn impressed. This is the longest continually operated show cave in America. On the same day Union troops and Confederate troops were given tours of the cave, within hours of each other. You can even see their signatures from their tours still intact. The other really cool thing about this cave is that instead of things growing horizontally they grow vertically, so the have some shapes that are rather unique to this particular cave. They also have a lot of shield shapes which apparently are very uncommon.
Our last day we decided to partake of the famous food in Charlottesville we've heard so much about. Duck Donuts, which we've had before surely did not disappoint again. We did finally get to try the famous Bodo Bagel and man oh man, we're both still dreaming of how delicious those bagels were. Plus it was an amazing 65 degrees that day, so we drove to a park and enjoyed our meal outside while being baffled by the December weather.
I'd highly recommend Charlottesville for a perfect little getaway. Just 2 hours from DC, it's very close to Shenandoah, and has delicious food; which is always the real motivator for us. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 year in review

Facebook just told me that it's been 8 years since Hal became my facebook friend. Since we were talking in the hallway at church and told him what facebook was, and that he had to add me, and that I was the most important person to add; so he put a star next to my name and history was set forever.

Well it's got me feeling nostalgic and it being the end of the year, so I thought I'd finally get around to posting a little year in review.

1 move & 1 offer on a house
We moved once this year which brings us up to something like 11 moves in the last 7 years. We moved in order to help the second number 1 on this list. We put 1 offer in on a house. While we got our hopes up with a verbal yes to our offer, we're both glad in the end it fell through. This was a big step for us, and the house hunt continues in 2016

2 best friends
2015 really was the year that these two became best friends. Their personalities compliment each other so well and they're hilarious together. I can't imagine not having both of them around.

3rd year in DC
We started our 3rd year in DC. We have really grown to love living in DC and love the neighborhood where we live. DC is so centrally located and is filled with endless things to do, most of them free. It's also nice living in a destination city because then we get to see friends and family as they travel through.

4 weddings

We were so lucky this year to celebrate the weddings of four couples that we love dearly. Each one was in a different state, spread out across the country and we are so thankful that we could spend their special days with them, and be a part of their celebrations.

5 beach trips

Hal and I were kind of beach obsessed this year. Every chance we got, even with Hal studying throughout the summer we went to soak up the sun. We've never lived this close to the beach, so we try to take advantage of it at every opportunity.

6 years out of school
This May was 6 years since I finished school. Well that's all about to change in 2016. I'm headed back to school. I got into Georgetown's paralegal program and will start there next month. I'm really nervous to go back to school since it's been so long, but hopefully it's like riding a bike.

7 years of marriage
Hal and I hit 7 years of marriage in September. There's no 7 year itching going on, so I guess we can count ourselves pretty darn lucky.

8 years together
Look at what youngins we were! We were pretty much inseparable from the night that we met 8 years ago,

9 hikes
This year we went on 9 fun hikes. We love being out in nature and taking in the beauty of the earth. It can be so hard to escape civilization out here, so going on hikes has become a respite from busy life. We were pretty lucky to have some windows of good health where we could go on such long and intense hikes. Hopefully next year we'll be able to go on even more hikes!

10 trips
This year really was the year of short spontaneous trips. We went to so much fun places, New York, Savannah, San Francisco, Charleston, The Grand Canyon...just to name a few. We love exploring new places and love trying wonderful restaurants in new cities.

1-1 Certifications
I couldn't think of an 11, so I split them into two ones, because we had some really big things happen this year. We had 1-Hal became a fully licensed CPA. WOOHOO! After a year of studying his butt off he passed all of his tests with flying colors and became licensed. and 1- I became a fully certified doula!

12 months of Lyme
This whole year has been filled with Lyme. I've officially been on antibiotics for year. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's been that long, and other times it's hard to remember what life was like before I was sick. It's been filled with so many sick days, so many pills, and so many disappointments. But I try really had not to let Lyme define who I am and what I can do. It's so endlessly frustrating to feel limited because of Lyme, but I know that it won't be that way forever, so I keep pushing myself not to give in to symptoms.

We had a pretty crazy 2015. We were able to fill it with fun adventurous things despite life getting in the way. I can't wait to see what adventures await 2016!
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