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Baby's first Barbecue!

I hope you all had wonderful, relaxing, sunny weekends!  Mine was all of the above, which is exactly how I wanted to spend my "summer vacation."  Last Friday was my last day of work, and I started Organic Chemistry this afternoon, so I had 3 days with no responsibilities.  It was a short vacation but I definitely made the most of it.  On Friday my parents cooked out and made strawberry daiquiris to celebrate my last day.  My best friend who I have not seen in months (due to my crazy schedule) came over to join in the fun!  After a few daiquiris we decided it was the perfect time to go shopping, since I won't be getting a steady paycheck until Florida.  Note to self: Do not drink and shop!  Thankfully, tipsy me has great taste :) (and not to worry, Julia drove!)  Then, Saturday afternoon I drove out to Rochester to spend the rest of the weekend with Dom.

Words cannot describe how wonderful it was to visit Dom not in a fraternity house! I love his brothers dearly, but it just gets gross sometimes.  Dom is living in a house this summer with his friends Jake and Kenzie.  The house is so perfect and cute! The best part though? It's clean!  I didn't have to wear sandals in the shower! (It's okay, you can cringe)  Needless to say, post-grad living is much better, and Dom and I were able to have tons of "us" time without 35 other guys around 24/7!

Saturday night Dom and I went to my favorite place in Rochester for pizza and beer!  This might not sound like an ideal date, but for someone who is gluten-free, being able to go to a restaurant and get gluten free pizza and gluten free beer is almost impossible.  We sat outside and just relaxed.  It was so normal.  It has been a long time since we were both able to just enjoy being out together.

Since Dom is a "real" person now, it was only fitting that they throw a BBQ for Memorial Day!  Hosting it was so fun, and it really made us feel like adults!  We had the grill out and everyone who came brought something to share.  It was a great success!

Grill Master!

We had burgers, hot dogs, sish kebabs, beer, and dessert!  Everything you need for the perfect afternoon!

The guys made a run to get a picnic table (I don't ask questions), but we were not going to wait for them to get back to eat!  None of us really knew how to grill, but Kenzie got it down well enough to impress them!  They like to think we need them...but we had it covered ;)

This was my family's first Memorial Day with all three of my cousins home from overseas.  They all served in the 101st Airborne Division, and we could not be more proud of them.  Having people you love in harms way really makes you appreciate the sacrifice our service men and women have made for our country.  While this official kick-off-of-summer holiday is great for getting together and throwing barbecues, it's really about so much more.   After all, if it weren't for those serving our country, there would be no barbecues!  So, I hope you all had great party weekends and also remembered what this holiday is really about! God bless the USA!


Blogger Book Club: "Bloom"

I could not have been happier when Kelle Hampton's Bloom was chosen for this month's book club.  I had seen the book floating around the blogosphere and was dying to read it.  It did not disappoint. 

 One of the things that made me fall in love so quickly were the pictures.  It is clear that the book is written by a blogger, because each page is brightened up by pictures of Kelle and her family, full of love and happiness.  It is impossible to not fall instantly in love with baby Nella and be so moved by her story.

I love that Kelle was completely honest throughout the entire story.  There was no sugar coating her reaction to Nella being born with Down Syndrome.  While I love how she strove to see the good in each situation, I think it was that honesty that made it real, and made the book so easy to relate to.  She never claims to be a perfect mother, and I think he willingness to share the darker moments in her life will inspire other struggling mothers.  I am not a mother yet, but my maternal instincts kicked in while reading this book and I can honestly say I think the book has changed my life.  I cried big wet tears along with Kelle through the first chapter and actually felt my heart breaking.  I actually was asked by the person sitting next to me on the airplane if I was okay because I couldn't keep it together!  Her writing is just so moving and hits you straight in the heart!

I felt for both Kelle and little Nella.  It hurt me deeply as Kelle wrote about holding Nella to her chest that first night, trying desperately to feel the mother/daughter bond she was supposed to feel.  I cannot fathom what that must feel like for a mother, and that feeling hasn't left my heart since I read the quote above.  I'm tearing up again just thinking about it!  It makes me think of what I would have done.  would I have loved my daughter right away?  Would I have wanted to take her and run, or take my already intact perfect family and run away like Kelle imagined?  I don't think anyone can answer that until they are in the situation themselves.

The book was not all sad though, and I adored how Kelle showed the beauty that eventually bloomed from her situation.  Reading how the pain turned to acceptance, and then to love and celebration was so rewarding.  I cheered along with her when she went to the Down Syndrome confrence and saw the beautiful, sweet, happy people living with Down Syndrome.  Her victories became my victories as I was reading.  I can't remember the last time I felt that way reading a book.  Plus, how could you not smile when looking at this precious face?

Kelle's writing really makes you feel like you are going on the emotional journey with her, and she doesn't try to hide how the sadness creeps back into her mind every now and again.  It is so brutally honest, it's fascinating.

Some of my other favorite things about the book are her humor, and that she doesn't leave her other daughter, Lainey, out of the story at all.  I loved how the book was a true chronicle of the first year of Nella's life, and how in effected everyone in Kelle's life.  It's not a cookie cutter story by any means, it's just real.  I wish I had better words to describe how amazing this book is!  I had a million thoughts going through my head as I read it, and now I just want to tell everyone about it and force every person I know to stop what they are doing and read it!

 ...I'm on love.

If you have read the book, I'd love to hear what you think about her honestly.  I personally think it made the book amazing, but I can see how some might be offended by her initial reactions.  Should she have sugar coated her reactions to make it more P.C.?  Please, tell me what do you think!


Proud Girlfriend!

I'm warning you ahead of time, this is a whole post of me bragging about how proud I am of Dom!  This past weekend, he graduated with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Pre-Med concentration from the University of Rochester!
Clearly I'm his biggest fan ;)

Our relationship has been a series of weekends in either the "Nipple of Knowledge" library at UofR, the engineering building, or a study room in Gelman library at GW.  Regardless of how we spent the evenings with friends, our days together have been spent doing school work almost every day of our relationship.  Dom has always dreamed of being a doctor, and he has worked so incredibly hard to get to this point!  He takes the MCATS in July, and then we will hope and pray that he gets accepted after that.  I can't think of anyone more deserving.

The entire weekend was filled with celebrating and no sleep!  We started by celebrating my birthday on Thursday.  We went out to a delicious gluten-free Italian dinner, and finished with a relaxing night and bed early!  Might sound lame, but it was exactly what I needed after an early morning and to prepare for the weekend ahead. Dom also happens to have amazing taste, and got my a Lilly Pulitzer dress and Jack Rogers for my birthday. He spoils me rotten and I'm so lucky!  The dress was perfect for Saturday night when one of his friend's parents had a BBQ/Cocktail party at a hotel near campus.  The party was for fraternity brothers and their parents, and it was so perfect.  We had sunshine and amazing people.  I literally could not have asked for a better last night!

Dress and shoes from Dom!  Great taste, right?
Some of my favorite guys in the whole world!

 The fun of the night went well into the evening (I won't tell you how many tequila shots Dom's Nana did!) but we had to be up early for the Big Day!  The culmination of four incredibly hard years for Dom, but also four of the best!  During the two years he spent at U of R that we were together we made so many amazing memories, it's hard for me to say goodbye too!  But alas, all good things come to an end, and I was so happy to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment with him and both of our families.
The Nipple of Knowledge!
With my family!

 Congratulations Dom! I'm so proud of you!


The Bachelorette Dish!


I know I promised the mother-of-all weekend recaps today, but I couldn't resist linking up with More from Meg for the Bachelorette Dish link-up! I am seriously obsessed with Emily and love watching every week no matter how cheesy the show gets! Here are some of my thoughts, so grab a button and join the gossip sesh :)

* I think it's really awesome that they are filming the season in Emily's hometown.  I think having friends and family close by will really help her stay happy and focused, without stressing about what's happening at home!

* So happy Ryan got a date! He's my number 1 so far.  I don't want to spoil anything but I think what they did for their date was AMAZING. I really get the sense that she is doing this completely seriously, and isn't going to waste time and flashy dates that aren't realistic.  It makes me love her even more! And the surprise at the end?  All I can say is...I would pass out right then and there!

* My heart really went out to Charlie with his insecurities and I love how graciously Emily handled the situation!

* Why is Emily so adorable all the time? I seriously do strive to be like her.  She is stunning, a great mother, and so poised all of the time.  I need to try to improve in all of those areas! The group date could have easily been super awkward, but with Emily it was just adorable!  I wish they had shown the guys participating (so hard to be vague in this post) more because I bet it would have been awkwardly amazing.

* Emily and Ricki. AH. I die.

* I feel like there is less cat fighting when it's a house full of guys and I love that.  I know it's what draws viewers in, but I just like focusing on the positive side!


* Does anyone else think Doug got a little too defensive about Kalon's "putting being a dad on hold" comment?  I am personally a Doug fan, but I genuinely don't think Kalon meant the comment how Doug took it (if that makes any sense!). I think the producers just wanted to add some drama, but I hate seeing guys I'm rooting for get angry!

* It is really a Bachelor/Bachelorette pet peeve when people with roses take cocktail party time! It's just not very considerate in my opinion.

* I would never have thought to wear green earrings with a purple dress, but per usual Emily looked flawless.

* I really hope next week has more dates like Doug's.  I love watching the contestants in realistic situations, it gives me more hope that it might actually work!!

*Ummm Dolly AND Luke?! My heart is pounding just thinking about it! It looks like next week is going to be insane!

Who are your favorites so far? I'd love to hear what you think!


It's My Birthday! :)

Today I am a whopping 23 years old!  As excited as I am for my birthday, I am even more excited that last night I had my chemistry final, which means I am officially finished working full time and going to school!!

A quick little back story on my situation in case you don't know: I went to the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and graduated last May.  After I graduated I realized (much to my dismay) that my plan to be a biological anthropologist and continue studying cognition in primates did not line up with my even stronger desire to raise a family. Or rather, raise a family somewhere other than Africa.  I realized I needed to find a career that involved something I was passionate about but also was conducive to raising a family.  A career in dietetics fit the bill perfectly!  The only snag was that I had concentrated in Biology, not Chemistry. So this past year I have been taking two labs and two classes each semester in the evenings while working full-time to get up to speed and ready to apply for masters or degree completion programs in dietetics!

This past year has been really hard.  I work 9 hour days, and then have up to 5 hours of school some nights.  I rarely sleep, never stop moving, and my hair is usually in some sort of afro.  I am lucky if I remember to put make-up on both eyes in the morning.  It has not been pretty, and I have spent many nights crying that I can't do it anymore, but I did it. My birthday present to myself is a rest for my brain, body and soul.  I took Friday off so I'm driving out to celebrate with Dom, and then stay in town to watch him graduate with both of our families! My excitement is through the roof, and I am so proud of him!

Next week is my last week of work before I tackle Organic Chemistry.  I will be going from 17 hour days to 2 hour days! I can hear my bed calling my name right now.  I am also so excited to be able to put the time and energy into this blog that it deserves!  These past two weeks especially, I have gotten behind in posting and commenting on all your wonderful adventures!  I still adore reading the blogs of everyone I follow, and even if I haven't commented I'm still keeping up, so prepare yourselves for lots of bloggy love when I get back on Sunday!  My most relaxing part of the day is when I get into bed and scroll through your lives.

I have spent the past year doing what I have to do, and now I'm spending the summer getting healthy, happy and doing what I love. :)  If you have gotten this far in this post... I am obsessed with you.  It was supposed to be a quick yay it's my birthday post, but my brain is fried and there is no one here to tell me to stop rambling.  So, I will leave you with a picture from last weekend when Dom and I went on a wine tour in the Finger Lakes!

 Have a fantastic weekend!  See ya Monday with the mother of all weekend recaps! ;)


Bucket List- What have YOU done?

 I stole this list from Adrienne because it seems so fun!  I am always thinking about my "Bucket List" and all of the things I want to do/see during my lifetime.  This list gave me some great ideas and reminded me of some great things I have crossed off my list!

1. Started your own blog- This seems like an obvious yes.
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band-I'm seriously lacking musical talent
4. Visited Hawaii-HEAVEN
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland...never...I'm so deprived!
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo- see #3
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm- :)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch- Working on it...
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill- From class, never work!
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon- half?
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community- my lake house is right next to Amish country! Love it
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight- <3
46. Been transported in an ambulance- silly little heart
47. Had your portrait painted- drawn?
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma- Don't weigh enough! I'd like to in the future though
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy- Patrick still sleeps in bed with me...I'm (almost) 23...
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial- Home :)
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt- For both my nephews!
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job- actually thankful to say no to this one…
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican- in 2005! And I will be returning this October due to my dad's involvement in a miracle
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo- a surf board and cross, on my foot
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

52/99!  Not too shabby, but I better get going!
What have you done?


Fill in the Blank Friday! TGIF!

  Can I get a T.G.I.F.?!  This week was definitely a rough one and this afternoon could not possibl y have come soon enough! Physical exhaustion? Check. Mental exhaustion? Double check.  Bright side is, I only have one more exam and it is not until Wednesday! And next week is my birthday week :) Things are starting to look up! Since I am about to head out to Rochacha (Or Rochester, for those of you who think I'm a little crazy now) to get in some snuggles with my main man (ok, only man) I figured I'd fill in some blanks with Lauren about the time in all of our lives when a little lovin' goes a long way!! Hope you are all feeling extra healthy this weekend! ;)

On a scale from 1-10 the frequency with which I get sick is,   9.  Without fail I get sick during finals, and I have had a problem with almost every body system!  I had a cardiac ablation at 19, diagnosed with gluten intolerance at 20, appendectomy at 21, have had ovarian cysts (TMI?) am allergic to EVERYTHING and just discovered I have a congenital brain chiari malformation (that's a mouthful!!) However, day to day I'm pretty healthy :)

2.   The last time I felt sick was   This week.  Stressful week=my body threatening a cold.  I won't let it win!   .

3.  The worst part about being sick is     the lack of energy you have       because     I can't just stay home and watch TV all day because I don't feel well!  Class and work still happen.  Plus I'm away from my man so he can't take care of me :(

4. When I am sick I like to be taken care of by   snuggling and watching funny movies with my love. And sleep.

5. Something I do to keep myself healthy is    try to avoid super sugary foods.  I feel fat/slow/sick whenever I eat a lot.  I also try and sleep as much as I can!

6. A secret remedy that I use when I'm sick is to    drink lots of hot tea! It's hydrating, tastes better than water, and feels good on my throat!

7.  One thing that always makes me feel better when I'm sick is   my bed always seems more warm and cuddly :)


D.C. Home Sweet Home!

This weekend didn't go as planned.  Shortly after publishing my last post Bennett called with some very sad news that her boyfriend Vic's father had suffered a massive stroke and was in the ICU.  By the next morning they were pretty sure he wouldn't make it, so she stayed in Georgia to be with Vic.  It was a very good choice because he passed a few hours later.  He was lucky to be surrounded by tons of friends and family, so I am hoping he knew on some level how loved he was in his last hours!  I was sad to not be able to see my best friend, but Bennett being with Vic was the best thing for him at this terrible time.

On a happier note...
The very first thing I did when I arrived in D.C. was get on the wrong metro train.  So much for being a local! It took me so far out of the way that I just got in a cab to meet my friends.  For some reason, the cab driver squiggled through campus, making sure I passed every significant corner and tugging my heartstrings the whole way.  While I went to D.C. with my mama a few weeks ago, being on campus was so different.  I could feel my stomach twisting as we passed my freshman dorm.  I feel like it was a completely different person who lived in that dorm.  I am so completely different from the girl I was when I first moved to the city that I don't even recognize her.  My memories seemed like they belonged to someone else, and it just showed me how much I have grown.

Driving down Sorority Row reminded me of the best friends a girl can make.  I know the common conception is that sororities are all about drinking, partying, and hazing, but I promise you it is not true.  There are absolutely sorority girls who embrace all of those activities, but it's really not what it's about.  When I was a freshman I got a "Big Sister" or more lovingly called my Big, and without her I never would have survived the life changes of freshman year.  She really became my big sister and I love her so much.  Being in a sorority gives you such a bond, and even now, 5 years later I can still go to her with any problem life throws at me.  I now also have a Little, a Grand Little, a Great Grand Little, and a Great Great Grand Little! I'm really old.  I always hoped to be the kind of Big to my Little that my Big was to me. :)

Since Bennett couldn't come anymore, and it is finals time for GWU, I brought my schoolwork and studied the days away with my Little.  Then, at night we grabbed my Great Grand Little and went out on the town.  It was a more low key weekend then I had planned, but that made it so much better.  I got ahead on my schoolwork and got to see so much more of my Little than I thought!  Our weekend included Spanish tapas, SANGRIA, some late-night shopping, family love, and the White House!

It is strange to consider two places home.  I grew up in Syracuse, and it will always be home, but D.C. is where I truly grew into the woman I am today.  Being back there was enlightening, sad, exciting and simply put, amazing.

Yes...there was an outfit change.  In the middle of the store ;)


An engagement and a reunion

There seriously need to be more hours in a day.  This is literally the first time I have had the chance to sit and write since last Friday!  Even so, I really should be packing right now, but I could resist a recap post.  
The Engagement!
Last weekend Dom and I went to an engagement party for our friends who got engaged while we were all in Hawaii!
 I went to Hawaii with my boyfriend's family, Corey's family and Ashlee's family.  It was so fun to have everyone together to celebrate their engagement and future together!  We had tons of food, bridal magazines and champagne waiting in the villa to surprise Ashlee when they got back from their "walk."  Everyone knew he would propose except her!

The party was held at Ashlee's house, and was absolutely stunning.  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me for most of the night and only snapped a few pictures.  I had to beg Dom to take a picture with me, and by time he agreed the gorgeous sunlight had turned to night, and I lost my perfect lighting!  Instead, we posed inside, and right as the picture was about to be taken I realized my dress might have slipped a little too low.
 And this happened. Haha! Nice to see Dom is so concerned ;)
Thankfully, take 2 was much more successful.
Once again, please excuse the terrible picture quality!

Towards the end of the party Corey and Ashlee introduced their wedding party and revealed their date and location!  It will be such a happy wedding, they are loved by so many people!

The Reunion!
Tomorrow afternoon I am flying to Washington, D.C. to reunite with my best friend from college (and life) Bennett!!  I have not seen her since graduation and honestly do not know how I have survived.  New York and Georgia need to be closer.  Seriously.  
Sorority Bid Day!
All time favorite picture of us! Before our Sorority Semi-Formal senior year!

Graduation! Almost a whole year ago!
I won't tell you how long it took me to bedazzle my graduation cap... :)

Bennett represents the greatest years of my life so far and I have barely been able to sleep I'm so excited! 
Have a great weekend!


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