What I Learned in 2014 (And Other Things)

2014

Some years I learn a lot. Most years I am greatly reminded of things I already know. This year was a bit of a mix. But whether I learned it or already knew it, here are some things (as Oprah would say) I know for sure…

Being married for 20 years is an accomplishment to be proud of. (And not for wimps.)

The mama bear instinct to protect your child when an injustice is done to them does not wane as your child approaches adulthood. If anything it becomes even more fierce.

Parenting a teenage girl is also not for wimps. (And probably why wine was invented.)

I can run a 10K (and  not die).

Middle school sucks.

Helping your child through the college application process is more stressful and overwhelming than can possibly be imagined. (And must be added to the list of things that is not for wimps.)

The joy of reconnecting with an old friend should not be underestimated.

The most wonderful blessing can come from what at first appeared to be an unfortunate situation.

 

High points of 2014…

A trip to Paso Robles to celebrate our 20 year anniversary (with lots of wine).

A crazy 3 1/2 day college tour road trip that covered 1,365 miles. (Yes, you read that right. 1,365 miles in 3 days. In a car.)

A girls’ trip to my family’s lake house in Michigan. We did nothing but lie in the sun, float on the lake, drink wine and eat.

A trip to Fresno (yes Fresno!) to watch Chandler run in the 2014 Cross Country State Championship race. He ran the race of his life and his team placed 2nd. A proud mama moment for sure.

My two favorite books in 2014

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

This is a beautiful memoir about the mother-daughter relationship told through the eyes of Corrigan as she remembers an around-the-world trip in her early twenties when she ran out of money and got a job as a nanny in Australia for a recent widower’s children. It is laugh-out-loud funny, heart wrenching and heart braking.  At the end of every short, wonderful chapter I would say to myself (often while crying), “I wish I could write like that.” Trust me when I say, that you will love this book.

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I loved this book so much. It shifts through time both before and after the apocalypse caused by a flu killing 99.9% of humanity. But it is less about the apocalypse and more about being stuck. One of the main themes of this tale (taken from a Star Trek episode) is “survival is insufficient.” That art must be experienced and appreciated and that we must live our lives to the fullest.

Here’s to wishing your 2015 is lived to its fullest.

Happy New Year!

(P.S. I’d love to hear about something you learned or loved in 2014.)

 

 

 

Save the Date (and Beyond) with Minted

Dave and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in March. It doesn’t seem possible that the cute guy I had a crush on during a college internship has been stealing my covers on a nightly basis for the past two decades.

wedding photo
Can you tell how faded this photo is after facing a window in our living room for the past (almost) 20 years?

 

Weddings are so different now than they were when we got married.

Bridesmaid dresses don’t have to match anymore. Or look so bridesmaidey. (Thank god!)

The number of attendants can be lopsided. (Oh how I wish I’d had my five best girlfriends stand up with me instead of only two because Dave only wanted two groomsmen. But you know, back in the 90’s people didn’t do things like that.)

And the invitations? Ugh.

Okay my invitations were actually lovely, so maybe ugh is too strong a word. Perhaps I should say, “Yawn.”

I remember sitting in the back of the party store with my mom looking at book after book of plain white and plain ivory invitations. I think I finally just picked one before my eyes started to cross. And so I could get the heck out of that party store.

Wedding invitations are so much more interesting now. They can be classical or whimsical or cultural and can reflect your personality so much more than plain ivory cardstock. And you can order them from the comfort of your own home while you and your fiancé are snuggled together in your matching jammies on the couch, with your tablet resting comfortably on your laps.

And all the rage now are the Save the Date cards like the ones below from minted.com.

Fireflies-save-the-date-invitation
Love these whimsical cards – so cute!

 

Destination-Wedding-Save-the-date
Making your guests travel to witness your nuptials? These “destination” save-the-date cards are adorable.

 

Simple-Modern-save-the-date-invitation
For the bride that likes to keep things simple.

 

Save-the-date-photo-card
Beautiful!

 

And of course just as fun and beautiful and unique as the Save-the-Date cards are the wedding invitations themselves…

That destination wedding you’re planning? How about sending a guidebook invitation. It’s practical and adorable at the same time.

Mini-book-wedding-invitation
Love this keepsake invitation!
Mini-book-wedding-invitation-open
Adorable + Practical = Awesome Guidebook Wedding Invitation

 

Or maybe you want something modern with classic roots.

Simple-wedding-invitation
Modern meets Classic

 

Or perhaps you like something kind of trendy like this cute chalkboard design. 

Chalkboard-wedding-invitation
I chose a fancy scalloped edge – but there are eight shapes, including your basic hard-edged rectangle to choose from.

 

And of course all of the invitations come with fun options for the back of the invitations.

Chalkboard-wedding-invitation-back
So fun many choices!

 

Or if you’re a stickler for tradition and like boring white classic wedding invitations, they have those too. If I’m honest, I’ll admit I do kind of sway this way. But I tend to like things that are kind of plain and simple. Luckily Minted even has cards for people like me.

Classical-Wedding-invitation
For those of you who like things old school.

 

Disclosure: I was given a credit by Minted.com to facilitate this review, but the opinions of the awesomeness of Minted are expressed are 100% my own. (I can probably be bought off for a trip around the world or lots and lots of cash – but free stationery – not so much. But you don’t have to trust me – you have eyes – you can obviously see for yourself that Minted’s designs are beautiful and fun.)

Dave and I won’t be renewing our vows for our 20th anniversary (not our style), so I’ll be shopping for one of the many other ultra-cool things on Minted’s site, like maybe some business cards

minted-business-card
See? I like it Simple!

 

or Happy New Year cards (since I let the ball drop on Christmas cards this year).

Happy New Year Card
From my Family to Yours, Wishing You Peace, Happiness and Love in the New Year!

 

But whatever I decide to order the good news is I can do it while wearing my jammies from the comfort of my couch. And not crammed in the back of some party store.

Planning my Dream 20th Anniversary Vacation with GoWithOh

In March Dave and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. In the early years of our marriage, I pictured celebrating our 10 year anniversary in Vegas renewing our vows with an Elvis impersonator. (Fat Elvis – duh!) Instead we set up camp in two beach houses with my family – about 15 of us total, dining on chili cheese dogs and sleeping on an air mattress; all the hoopla reserved my for nephew’s first birthday celebration instead of our ten year union.

Life never really does turn out as planned, does it?

For our 20th wedding anniversary I’ve always dreamed of returning to where we got engaged – Italy.

But… (almost) 20 years later – two moves, different jobs, financial ups and downs, a mortgage, two kids – one less than two years away from college… life and those plans right? While we are lucky to be rich in love (most days), our current bank balance suggests that we’re much more likely to be celebrating our 20th by clinking our Chianti glasses at our favorite Italian restaurant with views of the hills of Agoura, than at a quaint trattoria with views of the hills of Tuscany.

But last week I read this blog and found out about a contest called “Be Our Guest Tester” hosted by the website GowithOh.

GowithOh rents vacation apartments to travelers in 17 European cities – five of them in Italy. (Florence. Milan. Rome. Pisa. Venice. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes!) To enter the contest all I have to do is write a blog post about which apartment I would chose from their site and why, and tag the post on Twitter using the hashtag ##GwOGuestTester. Fantastic!

When Dave and I travel to Europe we love staying in quaint pensions, small bed and breakfasts, or apartments like Europeans do. Sure, luxury hotels are lovely, but if you’re going to experience another country, I think the best way to do it is by traveling -and living- like a local.

GowithOh just happens to have 255 apartments located in my favorite Italian city – Florence. We returned to Italy and visited Florence on our second anniversary. I immediately fell madly and deeply in love. I wept when I stood next to The David, I was so overcome with its beauty. I raised my hands in victory when I climbed all 463 steps to the top of Il Duomo. We crossed the Arno River and picnicked on a hillside taking in the wonderful Tuscan views. And you want to talk tears of joy? I think I cried every time I ate because the food was so fresh and so incredibly delicious, it made me the happiest I’d ever been every time I ate. (Which was as often as possible.)

So Dave and I started cruising the GoWithOh website to pick out our dream 20th anniversary trip apartment. Where would we stay if money was no object? It was almost impossible to choose.

We loved ceilings and the uniqueness of this one.

Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment

And we loved the traditional Florentine style of this one.

Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment

But this one simply took my breath away. That view? Are you kidding? This is where Dave and I would choose to spend our 20th Anniversary 2nd Honeymoon.

Apartment-with-Go-with-oh-Florence-apartment
Yes please!

But wait… there’s more…

We’ll spend our afternoons resting from sightseeing and rejuvenating before heading out to the piazza for an evening stroll and (a tears-of-joy-inducing) dinner here.

GoWithOh.livingroom.Florence

We’ll prepare a simple breakfast here…

GoWithOh-kitchen-Florence

Then eat it here…

Balcony-in-Florence

None of your business what we’ll be doing here. (But it might or might not rhyme with peeping. Shut up! Sightseeing makes you tired!)

Florence-apartment-bedroom

And trust me, for a European bathroom – this one is HUGE! (Love that tub!)

Italian-bathroom

I might not win the GoWithOh Guest Tester contest, but that’s okay. We’ve had a great time perusing at the apartments they have to offer. Looking at all the pictures and planning our dream trip (even if it is only in our hearts and our heads) was almost as fun as being there.

Almost.

ParisLondonBerlin… where would you go with GoWithOh?