Still feeling the love.

Remember in this post when I said how loved I felt on my hen party?

As if it couldn’t get any better, the Brit and I were showered again with love on Saturday the 19th of January by about 35 of our friends and family here in England. Two of our most special friends and their kids were sadly unable to come to the wedding, and as their gift to us, they asked if they could throw us a party when we returned. We were extremely touched by this gesture, and they set off planning this party for us. All that we were told was the date and that we would be picked up at 7:30. The rest was a surprise!

Remember my love-hate relationship with surprises I mentioned with regards to the hen party? The Brit and I together to talk about and wonder is about 100 times worse than me on my own! Oh, it was a fun three weeks in our house. Regardless of how much we had attempted to find out the details prior to the party, we were very much looking forward to seeing what was to come on Saturday.

We dressed in our ‘rehearsal dinner outfits,’ which were completely inappropriate for the time of year as we had just had a snow storm. (As the Brit says, “Everyone should have a rehearsal dinner outfit!” Ha!) To make it even better, I wore my wellies to the party as I had visions of myself wiping out in my heels before we arrived. We were quite the sight!

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Us with our amazing friends who planned the party for us!

We were picked up and whisked away to the unknown (okay, at this point it was known because we are super sleuths!) location, and we were both a little nervous just because of the unexpected. I walked into the room first, and it is such an odd sensation having a party thrown for you because you just do not know where to look. I realize that sounds completely daft, but when all of these people are there to see you and to celebrate with you, then you want them to all feel equally special to you.

So, in we walk to Club Tropicana by Wham! – me in my wellies and the Brit in what he has come to call his ‘game show host jacket’ – and we were truthfully surprised by how many people were there! Their kids, who are just great*, were waiting for us at the door with tropical cocktails, and you could tell how excited they were for us to be there and to see everything they had done. It was so sweet.

They decked the venue out with beach-themed decor, including our actual centerpieces and a sign we had made from the wedding day. Our professional photographs were streaming on the television. The amount of effort and love that went into the whole evening was so touching. We were overwhelmed! Everyone was so excited for us and really wanted to hear about the wedding day! It was really nice.

After lots of chatting, our friends asked the Brit if he wanted to say a few words, and so he said some very nice things and gave a big thank you to our hosts for the lovely night. Then, as if we weren’t surprised enough, they said they had some people across the pond who wanted to wish us well. (I tear up even thinking about it now.) What a shock! They had gathered video messages from my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and three of my bridesmaids. It was so thoughtful. As an expat, there are a lot of things you want to share with your family and friends back home, but it just isn’t possible. It’s something you have to come to terms with when you live abroad and sometimes it is easier than others. I would have given anything for all of them to be with us on that night, so having them be part of it through their videos was extra special.

A friend of ours DJ-ed throughout the night, and we boogied the night away. There was a brief intermission in which we lit off sky lanterns, which we had bought to set off on the beach on our wedding day in the DR. However, it was fairly windy on our wedding day, so to avoid catching the palapa huts on fire that idea had to be nixed. This meant 20 lanterns came back to the UK with us. It was such a cool thing to do and the night of the 19th was very still, so the lanterns went up perfectly. (I wish I had some good photos of this, but the combination of alcohol and darkness hindered my photography skills.)

After the lantern lighting, it was back to the dance floor until last call when 8 of us decided we still weren’t done partying and we sauntered (the wellies came back on!) to the nearest dive club/pub. True testament to the divey-ness of this place…they didn’t serve wine, so some of our friends were drinking Smirnoff Ice. (I, by this time, was only on water.) It was an incredible night that both of us felt the effects of the next morning!

I don’t think I can say it enough that our friends and family (on both sides of the Atlantic!) are truly special people. I feel especially grateful to have been welcomed so quickly and lovingly into the Brit’s group of friends. It really does feel like I’ve been here forever when it comes to hanging out with all of them. We can’t thank our hosts and the people who attended enough for helping us celebrate our wedding one last time!

*The first time we saw them after the wedding, their daughter asked me if I was part of their family now…and then I melted into a puddle. Okay, really, I gave her a big hug and a kiss. But seriously, I wanted to cry big fat tears of happy — in their eyes, we are no longer Uncle Richard and Becky, but Uncle Richard and Auntie Becky. 

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Starting 2013 off on the right foot!

I started this post on Thanksgiving Day, and I still want to share it because I think it is a good segue into writing about our wedding and all the festivities associated with it. But really, why didn’t I post it then? Because I convinced myself I was ‘too busy’ to write or to even hit ‘publish’. That’s a silly and stupid excuse because the truth is that I allowed an air of uncertainty to take over my excitement in writing this blog. I had moments when I felt I wasn’t good enough and that I have nothing worthwhile to write about…seriously lame. But, in actuality, I have so much to share about this time in my life and about how I am trying to make the most of the waiting game that is caused by the UKBA visa application process. I started this blog because I love to write and I need to keep that in mind, so I thank those of you who stuck around through my sabbatical because I can honestly say it feels good to be back.

I’m determined to start 2013 off with optimism! And, why shouldn’t I?! I did marry my best friend just over a week ago!

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Oh, hey, remember me? I’m not sure what caused my absence from the blog, especially after proclaiming I wanted to write every day for a month straight. Yea, that didn’t go so well. But truthfully, I haven’t even signed on and attempted to write a post. Rather, I chose to avoid my blog and I’m not sure why because, in all honesty, I really enjoy writing it and sharing my experiences with those of you willing to read about them.

The Brit and I have spent very little time at home during the past month. We’ve been home so little that we have already made a deal with each other that the month of January is meant to focus on us and making time for ourselves. Do not get me wrong because we love our crazy life and the fact that we have so much on our plates (both work and personal), but sometimes you just need a break and you need to spend more than one weekend a month in your own house. That being said, we have so much excitement ahead of us that I don’t want January to get here too quickly (let’s just say I’m SO glad January is here!), but at the right speed so we can really savour and enjoy what is to come for us in the next 5 or so weeks.

The biggest of these excitements is our wedding on the 29th of December! Umm…how did that sneak up on us?! We arrived back in England last Thursday from a week in the Dominican Republic celebrating my cousin’s destination wedding, and we finally made it back home on Friday as the Brit was working away and I went with him. That night, over takeaway from the most amazing little Thai restaurant in our village, we lit a fire under both of our bums and got to work on wedding planning. It hit us both that we have quite a bit left to do for the wedding and we were up until 1:30 AM that night focused on wedding details. (As a sidenote, I love planning this wedding with him! We make a great team, if I do say so myself!) Since then, it has been non-stop on the wedding organizational path with some stress thrown in, but mostly excitement! I am truly beyond ecstatic about marrying this guy, and it’s been so fun making it reflect our personalities and working to emphasize the importance of our family and friends who will be making the trip to be there with us. I can hardly wait!

And, jumping around here, as I think about the people who will be coming to our wedding and those close to us who can’t make the journey, I’m ever so thankful for having such amazing people in my life. Most of you likely know that yesterday was Thanksgiving in the U.S. It is hard to be away from home during Thanksgiving, and I never realized that until living in a place that doesn’t celebrate this holiday. I sort of feel like I have taken advantage of spending Thanksgiving with my family in the past, and I think it will make our next Thanksgiving in the U.S. even more special. I believe I’ll cherish it more. And, I love that the Brit has embraced Thanksgiving and has enjoyed celebrating the holiday with my family in the US in 2010 and 2011. Despite how hectic our life has been, he humored me when I suggested making Thanksgiving dinner for his family on Saturday because I think he realized what a special holiday it actually is. I’m glad we can share it with his family and try to show them what the day is all about (aside from the delicious food, that is).

We really do have so much to be thankful for this year.

My Baby Brother Gets Married, Pt. 3

As I mentioned in this post, Adam and Kayla’s outdoor ceremony was set to begin at 6 PM. We awoke to gray skies and cool temperatures, but still hoped the ceremony could be held outside overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

The outdoor area, before the rain came, where they were to be married.

The Brit and I headed off on a quick shopping trip with our fingers crossed that the sun and blue skies would still emerge. As we got into my parents’ SUV (4×4 to those of you from the UK!), I had a moment of panic as we both looked at each other and he said, ‘I’m a little nervous about you driving.’ I hated to admit it, but I had to agree and nodded my head. Even though it had only been 4 months since I last drove in the US, I still felt uneasy and found myself second guessing whether I was on the right side of the road or not. This seems odd to me, however, as I do not drive in England (which is actually a story for another day).

We decided to head to a different mall and to Trader Joe’s that morning. We both snagged a few items and wrapped up our shopping trip with lunch at Chipotle. (Yum.) I had to quickly get ready because Kayla’s sister was picking me up soon to head to their parents’ house to be with Kayla and the rest of the bridesmaids. I left myself zero time to properly do my hair and my mom’s makeup, but somehow it all got done just as my ride pulled up to the hotel. (Thank you, Jessi, for being my hair stylist for the day!)

Off we went to see the bride and as soon as we got into the house it was just calm. Kayla was completely fine with the fact that the venue had called and said the ceremony would need to be held indoors. And, I was really surprised by how relaxed it all seemed, not that Kayla is a tense person at all, but she was a bride on her wedding day. However, you could tell she was just ready and really content. She asked me how Adam was, and although I hadn’t seen him, I had spoken to him on the phone twice, so I told her he seemed really good and was hanging out with his groomsmen and friends playing hacky sack. (I seriously thought this game went out of style years ago, but it somehow made a resurgence on their wedding weekend!)

The bride sitting pretty!

All of us were making sure the bride’s hair was how she wanted it and that she was happy with how she looked in her dress. I get teary-eyed thinking about it, but Kayla looked so much like herself and was smiling ear-to-ear…just how a bride should be on her wedding day! There is something to be said for playing Just Dance on the Wii, having your friends and family do your hair, and doing your own makeup on your wedding day — right, K?!

The limo pulled up and we had a quick photo shoot before we were off to the ceremony….

With her parents

Kayla’s sister, the lovely bride, and me.

Once we got to the venue, the rain had started and everyone was thankful the ceremony was being held inside now. We had a short wait while the final guests arrived and found their seats and then it was time!

As is customary in the US, the bridesmaids enter the ceremony one at a time before the bride walks in with her father. (I’ve seen it done in the UK with the bridesmaids entering both before and after the bride.) I managed to avoid eye contact with Adam as I walked in as I was sure to lose my cool and cry, so I’m sure I was smiling awkwardly and looking either to the side or just above people’s heads.

The ceremony was short, about 15 minutes, but it was extremely heartfelt and touching as the pastor who married them has known Kayla since she was young and is a friend of her family. And just like that, they were Mr. and Mrs.!! (All of our photos from the ceremony are blurry because of the lighting, so you’ll have to imagine it!)

Then, it was time to party…and wow, can this group party! In between the ceremony and the reception though, we had photos taken and munched on some appetizers with the immediate family and wedding party. Soon, it was time for the evening festivities to begin as all of the wedding party plus the parents of the newlyweds were announced and entered the venue once more to watch them share their first dance.

Then, the maid of honor and the best man both gave fabulous toasts as we enjoyed some bubbly. (I had the honor of being the only one to have read the best man’s speech before the wedding and even though I had read and re-read it a few times in the months leading up it still left me in tears — well done, Jon!) We had a nice meal that even featured a Maryland specialty, crab bake, which was delicious. (For those who might not know, Maryland is known for the Chesapeake blue crab.)

Another great cake!

With some of my favorite people!

Immediately after dinner, the bride danced with her dad and Adam danced with our mom. (Best mother-son dance song ever…Sweet Child of Mine by Guns N’ Roses. Oh yes, they did!) And then, the drinks started flowing and the bride and groom got the dancing started and the dance floor was packed for the rest of the night! It was such a great time as is evidenced by the photos below.

My beautiful mom and my handsome brother.

Doing their dance to Dueling Banjos…you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy!

The Brit, me, Dad, and Mom — we had our dancing shoes on all night! (Photo stolen from my cousin — thanks, Erica!)

My beautiful cousins and the best man!

We rock the self portraits…classy!

When we got back to the hotel that night, the emotions of the weekend and of the day just hit me. My little brother was married. When did he grow up?! And, I’m thankful it waited until just the Brit and my parents were around because they understood the tears. It was a fabulous weekend celebrating an even more fabulous couple! I am beyond honored that they asked me to be part of their wedding party as well, so thank you both for allowing me to be part of it.

And, as they say in England, I am absolutely chuffed to bits for them!

Big love and many congratulations to Adam and Kayla! Love you both. xx

My Baby Brother Gets Married, Pt. 2

We left off with the Brit and I zonked out after an exhausting day of travel and a fun reunion with family….

Regardless of how tired I was, I woke up ready to conquer the day at about 6:30 AM. Unfortunately, no one else was as eager as me to start the day, so after I texted everyone to see if they were awake and got no replies, I headed to the hotel gym in hopes of working out some of my unexplained energy. It did help quite a bit, but then I returned to our hotel room and proceeded to munch on Starburst jelly beans, which I’m sure had nothing to do with my hyperness. (Right.)

Anyway, the day involved some shopping because the Brit and I tend to flock to the mall when we’re in the U.S. to save money as everything is so much more expensive here in England. After some fun purchases, we met up with the rest of the family for a late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, which is your typical American sports bar. I hadn’t been to B-Dubs (as we call it) since I lived in Indianapolis five years ago, so it made me reminisce a little and miss my Indy friends! (Hi to the few that read the blog!)

Love these people…this photo just makes me laugh as we’re all posed around Jon with his beer.

This lunch was really nice because we all got to chill out and enjoy each other’s company over a few beers (pints?). While checking our IDs, the waitress had a good laugh at the Brit’s hairstyle in his driver’s license photo as she exclaimed, ‘What the?!’ Hahaha! His license was passed around for everyone to poke fun at his ‘Flock of Seagulls’-inspired ‘do in his photo. Ah, too funny. You know you’re part of the family when everyone can openly make fun of your former hairstyle choice!

(Side note:  It is interesting because I have grown accustomed to not taking my ID when we go out in England as it is never checked, so the Brit and I have to make a conscious effort to take our IDs out with us when we are in the U.S. I once made fun of him when we were out for a meal with our friends in Colorado and he didn’t have his ID, so he couldn’t order a beer. Now, I understand why it could be easy not to even consider bringing your ID out with you.)

After lunch, we had some time to kill before the evening’s festivities. This brings us to the American rehearsal dinner. The bane of my existence when American wedding traditions come up in conversation. As I explain it, people nod their heads in understanding, but I can tell they don’t really grasp the concept. Essentially, we have a rehearsal the night before the wedding, so that those involved in the ceremony know what to do – where to walk, where to stand, what to say, etc. It makes for a more seamless ceremony on the actual day.

The rehearsal is then followed by a rehearsal dinner that is traditionally hosted by the parents of the groom. As to who is invited to the rehearsal dinner, typically it is not open to all wedding guests. Instead, it is generally the wedding party and their significant others, the immediate family of the bride and groom, and in our case, some close friends and extended family. I believe it was a total of about 37 people.

The rehearsal is generally held in the actual ceremony venue, but the venue was not available on the Friday night before the wedding, so we had the rehearsal, led by the pastor performing the ceremony, where we had the dinner. Adam and Kayla chose to have have their rehearsal dinner at Dave & Buster’s, which is a restaurant and bar with an arcade attached to it. My parents had reserved one of the function rooms and we had a nice meal (I was impressed with how good the food was!) with delicious cake that had been ordered specifically in honor of the bride and groom’s honeymoon. Then, we continued to party while playing arcade games! It was so wonderful to catch up with family and friends before the wedding. (Truthfully, I think the rehearsal dinner should be adopted as tradition in the UK, but that is just my opinion!)

They are camping and kayaking for their honeymoon – the cake was incredible!

Because the wedding did not begin until 6 PM on Saturday, most of the groom’s side stayed out late! One of my best friends and her fiance were there and she and I haven’t had a night partying for years, so it was really fun for all of us!

It was such a good night with some of my favorite people!

My parents had all of the leftovers from the dinner in their hotel room, so around midnight, we had about 20 people crammed into their room chowing down until the guys (including the Brit who was adopted by all of Adam’s friends this weekend and was called ‘the foreigner’) went to a different room to have ‘bachelor party number two’ while I chilled with Mom and Dad before calling it a night around 1:30 PM.

Adam’s friends won this giant gorilla at Dave & Buster’s. I think they named it Harold, but I could be wrong. That is my dad beside it pretending to give it a Busch Light…so classy!

I promise to wrap it up in one final part…the wedding day!! Hooray!

My Baby Brother Gets Married, Pt. 1

Now that I have successfully completed my final two essays linked to my courses for my degree (YAY!), I can focus on other things for a little while. One of those things is catching up on posts from the wedding weekend we were lucky to be a part of during the last weekend in April.

There was so much to look forward to for this trip…celebrating my brother and his new wife, spending time with family, and a break from life in England which had been unusually hectic for us. Although the trip was very quick, in that we flew there on Thursday and our return flight left on Sunday night, I knew it would be a nice getaway for the two of us. (When people hear we fly to the U.S. for such a short amount of time, we get the funniest looks! But, honestly, when the Brit and I were living apart, the majority of our visits were like this, so we don’t think twice about it.)

Also, this was the Brit’s first American wedding! There is a good amount of wedding talk in our families at the moment (with his sister getting married in September and us in December).  And, because we are keen to combine English and American wedding traditions into our wedding, I was looking forward to him seeing some of the American wedding traditions in person.

But first, we had to get there. Our flight from Manchester to London was delayed on take-off then we were put in a circling pattern above Heathrow for about 20 minutes. It was neat to fly over London twice. However, panic set in for me. I was NOT okay with us missing our flight to the U.S., which was set to leave very soon. The Brit gets a kick out of me when I hit panic mode for things completely out of our control, but I was so upset because I was ready to be on U.S. soil.

We finally landed and it was a sprint (on my part) with the Brit walking at a normal speed behind me. We made it to the gate just as boarding was beginning, so then I could take a deep breath. We got on the plane and were all set for an on-time departure when it was discovered there were electrical problems with the plane, so it was another 1.5 hours before we left. The key though is that we left!

The best man, Jon, was set to pick us up from Dulles and for some reason the website listing the arrivals didn’t update until about 10 minutes before we arrived, so he’d been waiting for us for nearly two hours. He’s a good one for sticking around! Out we head to the car park and what does Jon notice? Oh, he left his lights on in his Jeep! Hahahahaha! So, after asking at least five people if they had jumper cables, we finally managed to find some good people who had some. Then, we were good to go! We did a quick stop to see his bachelor pad then off to Maryland we went.

Most of our friends and family weren’t arriving until the next day, so Mom, Dad, Jon, Richard, and I went out for a really nice meal. My mom had a glass and a half of wine and was super tipsy, which had us all laughing! We figured we hadn’t had enough to drink, so we found a brewery and had another round of drinks. This was by far the funniest part of the evening as my mom ‘needed some fresh air,’ so she and Dad went outside while the three of us finished our drinks. Mom kept coming right up to the window and waving at us — it was hilarious!

Mom and Jon…you can see the drink in her eyes! 🙂

The guys look nice and I look rough.

By the time we left the brewery, the Brit and I were exhausted, but my brother and Kayla were about 15 minutes from arriving, so I somehow managed to stay awake just long enough to say hi to the two of them, while the Brit had already faceplanted and promptly fell asleep in our hotel room.

The best man prepared for the arrival of the groom with two growlers of beer!

To be continued…. (I know the suspense is killing everyone!)

Mom knows best.

I’m hyped up on caffeine as I power through the last 4000 words (yea, I still have a lot to write) due at 4:30 PM on Monday. As I stare blankly at my notes trying to form coherent sentences, I can’t help but think back to my undergraduate days.

I’m a consistent procrastinator when it comes to writing essays (Researching and taking notes though? Not a problem!), so this was an issue of mine as I studied for my Bachelor’s degree too. Often, I would call my mom the night before the paper was due stressed to the max that I wouldn’t finish it on time. (Yes, I realize this was my fault.)

Regardless of my stupidity, she always knew just what to say to calm me down and get me refocused to power through the night. One of my all-time favorite lines of hers is, “You can do anything for 24 hours.”  I still think of it when I need to just get to the other side of a tough assignment or a stressful meeting because you know what is waiting for me at the end? Usually, non-junk food, a glass or two of wine, my bum on the couch, mindless television, and a good night of sleep.

Mom, thank you for always saying the right things (whether or not I recognized they were the right things at the time!) and for supporting me in everything I do. Thank you for being a strong and independent woman. Thank you for showing me that it is okay not to settle. Thank you for teaching me that just because you try something and it doesn’t work out that it doesn’t mean you failed. Thank you for loving A and I the way you do and opening your arms and your heart to our loves. Thank you for being a woman I am proud to take after (even if I do cringe a little every time the Brit calls me ‘mini Mary’!).

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I love you.

Thanks for making my friends always feel like part of the family, too! Photo from my brother’s wedding — my best friend, her fiance, Mom, me, the Brit.

P.S. As I’m sure my UK readers have gathered, Mother’s Day in the U.S. is not the same day as it is in the UK.

 

“What do you miss the most?”

A common question that I’m asked both in England and when I’m back in the U.S. is, “What do you miss the most about the U.S.?” Call me sappy (or soppy, if you’re British), but I always reply with, “My family.”

And then, I usually get a blank stare. Apparently, there is a wrong answer to this question! Who knew?!

Family is not the answer people expect. They are usually wanting to know about foods, stores, television shows, and other things that people get nostalgic about. Of course, there are things that I miss and, truth be told, it is usually food. (Seriously, I love food.)

This past weekend, my awesome parents gifted me this humongous bag of Starburst jelly beans in a resealable bag. My eyes lit up when I saw this because I had never seen this large of a bag, but my dad found it online and I was one happy lady since these don’t seem to exist in England. Thank you, Mom and Dad! You’d better believe those things are already gone…except the red ones, which ended up in the bin because I’ve never liked that flavor.

They also brought us a pound box of chocolate-covered pretzels from the most amazing chocolate shop in my hometown. (They were finished in 2 days. We have no will power when it comes to these bits of chocolatey deliciousness.)

We took some time to hit up Chipotle and Trader Joe’s (yes to almond butter and the most perfectly dried mangos ever). Happiness. On Sunday, my new sister-in-law’s (yay! wedding posts to come!) family hosted a delicious barbecue with burgers fresh from the grill, potato salad, and loads of other foods that remind me of summers in the U.S. All of which was washed down by a cold Miller Lite in a bottle.

Why does barbecue in the U.S. just taste better?! Yum.

We did our fair share of shopping, too. I know I am going to have to adjust to the prices in England soon, especially because we won’t be back in the U.S. until 2013, but I like to hold off on purchasing things I need (and I know I can definitely purchase at a much lower price) until we are state-side…I’m fully stocked on BareMinerals and summer dresses now and the Brit got some new work shirts and ties. So, I think we are set for awhile now!

So yes, there are things that I miss, but in all seriousness, it is my family that I miss most. They really are the best, and the Brit and I both wished we had another day or two to spend with them during this last trip. I love you, family!

P.S. One day, I will do a post about television shows, not so much about what I miss (Modern Family is the only one, really), but some of the hilarious British quiz and chat shows that I love here (as I type this I am watching Alan Carr…love him).

It’s going to be a great weekend!

I wasn’t going to blog again until we returned from the States hungover with love and memories (and booze, of course) after a weekend of celebrating my brother and his soon-to-be wife. Then, I got an e-mail from my other ‘brother’ (my brother’s best friend/best man and our neighbor growing up, who, whether he likes it or not, has been adopted unofficially into our family) that suggested he was surprised I hadn’t written about our ‘big trip’ this weekend. So, Jon, here we go…no crying, remember?! 🙂

The truth is, it is a VERY big weekend for us! My little brother is getting married! I won’t embarrass him too much in this post, but I do have a few things to say about A.

My brother is a great man. A tough guy with a big heart. Tells it like it is. Always good for a laugh. Can talk to anyone. A hard worker. Loves his family and friends like mad. Protective. A best friend. Gives awesome hugs. Just an all-around genuine person.

Nothing but laughs with this one!

Sometimes, we butt heads, but we always get over it. I’ve given him my share of sisterly advice and probably way more than he has ever wanted, but he always listens even if he rarely takes said advice…that’s how it goes though! And, I understand. I get it. It is his life, but I’ve always wanted only the very best for him. I know this weekend will bring nothing but the best for him. And, that? That makes me smile and get teary-eyed.

With their crazy pup!

A has had a few girlfriends throughout the years and none of them were ever good enough…this is my completely unbiased older sister opinion, by the way, and not his words! But then, he met K. I remember it like it was yesterday…we were talking on the phone as I drove home from work when I lived in Washington. He had called to tell me he had a date with this girl and I could tell that A really liked her. I could tell this one was different.

This was in January 2010, and I didn’t actually meet her until November 2010, but I already liked her without meeting her. (Gasp!) She makes my brother happy and that meant the world to me. I’m so thrilled for the two of them as they start this new adventure together. And, Richard and I can’t wait to be part of their big day on Saturday!

Cheers and big love to my baby brother and his soon-to-be wife! We are beyond thrilled for the two of you!

Love you two!

3 days to go…

The countdown is really on now!

Both of my parents have said this week that they can’t believe how quickly my time with them has gone. And, I have to agree. It seems like I’ve barely been here. When late August hit, I realized it was time to get serious about what had to be accomplished before I left for England. So, basically, I feel like I have crammed a few months of stuff into the last few weeks. (I honestly can’t believe how busy I have been. Not sure how that is possible without a job. Any ideas?)

Here’s what I’ve been up to since the realization that I’m really moving to England sunk in…

1. Selling my car. Last week, I said goodbye to my Nissan Versa. 😦 In October 2010, I traded in my SUV for something more fuel-efficient. I can’t believe how attached I became to that little car in 11 months. (I was actually a bit teary-eyed when I walked away from it last Tuesday.) It had been with me through a lot…most notably, an 11-day road trip from the Pacific Northwest to Pennsylvania. Such fun times! However, I am looking forward to smooth-running public transportation and car pooling with the Brit.

On the day I brought it home from the dealership...photo by the Brit!

2. Making the most of my time at home. Let’s just say last week was an emotional week for me, so I’ve been trying extra hard to spend time with my parents. I cried and Mom cried and Dad told me he really is going to miss having me around. Mom and I went shopping on Monday and we have plans tomorrow night. Dad and I watched a pre-season game of the greatest football team ever on Thursday and Hillbilly Handfishin’ (seriously watch this — hilarious!) last night.

Mom, Dad, and I on vacation in central New York this summer. 🙂

3. Visits with friends and family. Today, I had lunch with one of my besties and her little boy then lunch with my brother and his fiancée. (It’s 7 PM and I’m not even close to being hungry yet.) Last week, I was in DC selling my car, so I was lucky enough to stay with my cousin and her boyfriend plus catch up with one of my favorite friends from our days as new college graduates at our first jobs. I’ve been cramming in these visits (plus those with friends nearby) and it’s been really great!

4. Phone calls to my friends scattered around the country. I had two wonderful phone calls today with two of my favorite ladies. I still feel like I have a million more people to get in touch with before I leave the U.S. I’m not sure why I feel like I’ll never be able to talk to these people again on the phone! Because of Skype and an awesome phone plan through O2, I’ll be able to stay in touch with everyone.

5. Packing. Blech. I dislike packing. You’d think after my many travels that I’d have this down to an art. Not quite. I’ve taken over my brother’s room (he has his own house, so don’t think he is living around my stuff) and my room. Clothes everywhere!

The brother's room...

My room...