Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Single Life (Not really, but kind of...)

It's been quite a while since I've blogged...what can I say? Life seems less eventful without hubby here, yet I seem to be much more busy from doing everything on my own! I guess I've been a little spoiled by going from college, where I had fewer responsibilities, to immediately being able to share my responsibilities with Chris (such as having Chris proofread this blog, which will probably be filled with errors this week!).  Chris has been gone for three weeks now, and if anything, this time apart has reminded me that I'm actually a pretty independent girl...a girl who likes to get things done and who doesn't like to be bored.   So, as soon as Chris left, I jumped right in to filling my schedule with activities and entertainment so that I wouldn't be sitting around the house, lonely and bored.  And I think I've been pretty successful thus far.

After Chris' grandfather's funeral, which was really very lovely and, of course, quite sad, I returned to Columbus to host three of my very best girlfriends, Hannah, Sara, and Lauren, at our home for the weekend.  I was so excited that they were willing to make the trip to my not-so-glamorous town just to see me and keep me company on Chris' and my first weekend apart.  We had as much fun as expected...actually, probably more.  I was a little worried about whether they would get bored in Columbus, but I should have known better...I think the four of us could entertain ourselves if we were stuck in a cardboard box...or jail, but luckily it hasn't come to that (yet!). 

Getting ready to head out onto the town :)

Taking the girls on a tour of the base

Mason is so excited to cuddle his aunties!!
We basically spent most of our weekend at the house, with field trips out to give them a tour of the base and to go to dinner/downtown on the second night they were in town.  When they left Sunday, I was pretty sad to be alone in the house, but luckily, my favorite show Desperate Housewives was back on TV for the first time in a that helped ease my sorrows!

I took the next Friday off and spent the weekend in Atlanta visiting my friend, Tori, and her boyfriend, Bennett.  I hadn't seen Tori since football season, and even then our visits were short.  Tori lived with me in college...we are just about the same size all over, and sometimes I miss having access to her closet almost as much as I miss her! We went out to a really cool restaurant/brewery that Friday night that I know Chris would love. Saturday morning, Tori had to work, so I took Mason on his very first trip to a dog park.  This dog park was super doubles as a coffee shop/restaurant/bar/dessert shop and is called "Coffee Unleashed".  At first I felt weird being there all alone with Mason and all these other people who seemed to be there in groups.  Then I realized a little something about "Dog Park Culture" people bond with each other.  At dog parks, apparently.  At first, I stood over to the side while Mason (literally) kept jumping into my arms and shaking because he was so overwhelmed with all the dogs running around.  Eventually, I decided that I would make him walk around the park once, and if he still didn't warm up, that we would leave.  Before I knew it, Mason was running around the park with all his new dog friends, and I was chatting away with all my new human friends.  By the time we left, my boots were dirty, Mason was muddy (and stinky), and he did not want to leave!

This was a spitz  mix that I thought looked just like a giant Mason (except not as cute, of course)
Mason had another adventure once we got back.  The Sweetwater factory is one of my favorite places to go in Atlanta...for $10 (the price recently went up) you get to keep a Sweetwater glass, sample their beers, and hang out in a really cool tasting room/veranda-type setup.  When we got there, it was like an Auburn reunion with all the people I recognized from college.  It really is a popular place for people our age to go on a Saturday afternoon.   Added bonus...dogs are allowed! I've heard Atlanta is one of the most dog-friendly cities (small dogs are even allowed in Lenox mall).  Mason was feeling very sociable by the time we got to Sweetwater, probably because of his successful debut at the dog park, and I wound up holding him because he kept running up to other dogs, getting people tangled up in his leash on the way. 

Luckily Mason's tongue wasn't long enough to reach the beer, because he isn't 21 yet in dog years!

After Sweetwater, Tori and I (sans Mason) went to the know I can't pass up an opportunity for a little shopping when I go to Atlanta.  We were planning on going out, but we were quite honestly pooped after the days' events, and wound up staying in and going to bed early. Sometimes I look at myself and think, some point or another, you really did start acting older!

Continuing my constant stream of entertainment, my mom met me in Birmingham on my way home from Atlanta and went back to Columbus with me.  Monday was MLK day, so we did some shopping in Tupelo and went out to eat.    It was nice having some company, especially since I had a whole day off.  She stayed through Wednesday.

And then I was alone.

So, for almost a week, it has been entirely up to me to entertain myself! No worries...I think I've done quite well.  Autumn and I have been doing some cooking for each other and keeping up with my many television shows that I have become addicted to since graduating college and having actual time on my hands to be a "real" American, i.e. couch potato.  I've been keeping up with my training, too, and ran 10 miles last week, so I guess I'm not a total couch potato.  I decorated for winter and am working on getting everything perfect for Valentines day.  Autumn and I visited a coffee shop in Columbus Friday night and listened to a local musician...the coffee shop allowed you to bring your dogs so we brought Dubs and Mason. And, not that I need any new addictions since I already have TV, running, and blogging...but I discovered the most fantastic thing EVER last week....Pinterest!

Winter table setting.  My mom also brought me some cute silver "snowflake" chargers.  Stay tuned for pictures of my Valentines decor. 

People have been telling me about Pinterest, a website where you make virtual "inspiration" boards, for a while, but for some reason it seemed really confusing to me and I didn't ever feel like trying it out.  I don't know why I thought that, because it really isn't confusing.  In fact, Pinterest has become my new "happy" place.  In ways it's like Facebook, but the only things shared on there are ideas with accompanying pictures.  It has really helped me get my creative juices flowing...especially when it comes to the awesome DIY ideas I have found on it! I'm not going to share any of them until I actually get them completed, because some might sound a little weird.  Thanks to Pinterest, I am in a "decorating on a dime" stage, because I have seen so many ideas on how to take every day objects found in thrift stores, antique stores, or even that I may already find around my house, and turning them into unique and beautiful decor! More to that Chris is going to be in pilot training he will be very busy over the next year or so. Time for me to get some hobbies!

Tonight, I decided to host a girls night.  I am pretty excited because I haven't even met half the girls coming and this is a great chance for me to meet some new girls from the base! I am on the welcome committee for the student spouses club, so one of the girls coming is someone I have only met over the phone, when I called her yesterday to welcome her to Columbus.  Two of the girls are friends of Autumns' that I haven't met yet. I will be sure to take some pictures to post.  I'm making Blue Cheese guacamole...I hope it turns out well.  It sounds promising.  I found the recipe on Pinterest!

Enough about me (actually, MORE than enough).  Many of you would probably rather hear about Chris' adventures in Colorado at IFS.  Unfortunately, I feel like I have barely talked to Chris! He has been so busy with academics and 12 hour days, and has really needed his rest too much to talk to me on the phone for hours every night.  I did get to talk to him for quite a while on Saturday and get updated.  His flights have been going really well, and he got called out during one of his classes for having the best call signs (i.e. pilot language).  He's been trying to take some double turns (flying twice in one day), so if all goes well, he should be home around the beginning of next week.  He was actually supposed to have a double turn today, but the weather caused it to be cancelled. Actually, it seems they have been pretty lucky overall with the Colorado winter weather, and haven't experienced that many delays.  He's been spending his weekends in Colorado Springs vising some of his old stomping grounds.  He also decided to "surprise" me by growing a heinous mustache, which I believe he finally got too embarrassed to wear in public, so he sent me a picture of it with a message saying that he had decided to shave it.  I am very glad, because that is NOT the kind of surprise I like to get!  It made him look a little creepy, like someone you wouldn't want to walk by if they were sitting in one of those big vans with no windows.  We are hoping that this week he will do his solo flight, at which point it's time to wrap things up and get ready to come home.  Fingers crossed! Mason and I miss him!

One thing I have learned this month (and these are purely observations from my perspective) is that while living alone isn't the worst thing in the world, it really takes a lot of the joy out of every day life not having that special someone there to share it with---the good, and the bad.  I haven't found my time with Chris being gone being depressing, necessarily.  Like I said, I'm a pretty independent girl.   But coming home to an empty house after working all day just isn't as nice as coming home to the one you love.  Mason can listen to me talk, but he can't talk back...and having a dog alone can be a bit of a handful (especially one that's used to so much attention). Cooking for one isn't as rewarding as cooking for two. And let me tell you, when my to-do list has everything from taking out the trash to spraying for bugs to cleaning the dishes, and I've got it all to myself...things can look really bleak! Yes, I can be independent, and I'm glad to be reassured of that, because as a military wife, there will be times when I have to be.  But I love good company, which is one of the many reasons I fell in love with Chris.  He can talk to me about anything, and he enjoys experiencing the world with me, whether it be a new recipe I'm making or trying a new dish, like escargot, at a fancy restaurant; whether we are traveling to California or Jamaica or just watching the travel channel and talking about places we want to go. Sure, I could travel or try new things on my own...but it's just more fun with my hubby by my side! I'm looking forward to trying some new recipes when he gets home and having a welcome home dinner with some other couples in his class, as well as a romantic dinner for just the two of us...I'm breaking out all the fancy wedding gifts like fine china, crystal, and silver and we are going to celebrate! Because my man is officially on the road to being a pilot..woohoo! ;)

xoxo, Amanda

P.S. Our wedding announcement is online if anyone wants to check it out... you can find it at

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Time for Everything

I have taken another long break from blogging due to the past few weeks containing so many events.  Some have been very joyful, and some have been very sad.  That’s life, and it’s important to put into perspective the fact that no day is guaranteed to us.  Chris and I have always made it a point to take no day for granted. That was put to the test this week when we received some very bad news on short notice.
Before I get into some of the things that we have been up to, I would like to share that someone very special to us passed away this week.  Chris’ grandfather, Martin Beck, has been a huge role model and supporter of Chris throughout his life.  We were very shocked earlier this week when we found that he had come down with a case of pneumonia, which many of us already know can be very serious for older people. 
I have known Martin since I started dating Chris back in the 10th grade.  He lived right down the road from Chris’ dad, and I always loved how involved he was with his family and how interesting and witty he always was.  He had so many interesting stories to tell, from his days as a Kappa Alpha pledge at Auburn to being a POW during WWII.  He was a very successful man.   He invented several machines related to turf farming and ran his own grass farm business before eventually settling into retirement and never letting a day go wasted.  If he wasn’t travelling to other countries, or even just to other states to visit his many old friends or spend a few days in Panama City, he was on the golf course.  He was also very generous.  He was absolutely the definition of someone I would call a “life-long” learner…he never stopped being interested in learning new things as he got older, and funded a lot of scholarships at Auburn.   He meant a lot to a lot of people, especially Chris and his brother, Warren.  I know everyone who knew him is sad to see him go, but the great thing is that we can look back on his life and see someone who had a lot of accomplishments and, more importantly, never stopped contributing to his family and community.  To me, this is very comforting during a time of grief.
Martin loved reading this blog and even asked about Mason when he was in the hospital and not doing well or talking much.  I heard him say several times that he thought Mason belonged in commercials. I’m glad that Mason got to pay him a visit a couple of weeks ago over the Christmas weekend. I know Martin is glad to have been able to watch his oldest grandson graduate from the Air Force Academy, be appointed as an officer, and get married.  
 I wish I would have found this earlier, but I was poking around online after hearing of his death, and found this copy of his original patent for a grass planter (as well as some other articles about this history of turf farming that mentioned his name for the other invention of his that I mentioned above).  I found it so inspiring and a perfect example of how brilliant he really was:
We will always remember Martin fondly and I know we are both so glad that we got to know him and that he was a part of our lives.  Please keep Chris, his brother Warren, dad Chris,Sr., and Martin’s wife, Virginia in your prayers.

Us with Martin and Virginia a couple of nights after we got engaged.

I must say, since Chris left Tuesday for his month of training in Pueblo, Colorado, I already feel the pressures of being military wife since I have been working in Birmingham this week and had to make special arrangements for Mason to stay with our friends Meredith and Ryan King during the day.  Still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the little guy while I’m at work all day since he’s used to his daddy taking him out to play.  Oh, the trials of single motherhood!  For the first time since I started blogging I admit that I am just too busy this week to gather all the pictures I took together to post...especially since Chris has half of them on his iPhone.  Maybe I can get them up next week!
The last couple of weeks, we have really been busy.  Christmas was a special weekend since it was our first together.  We had the opportunity to spend some quality time with many of our family members that we don’t see as often, although I’m sure we would have spent longer with them if we would have had the time.  The good news is, it’s finally 2012 which means I get some vacation time! So maybe next year’s holidays won’t be so short.
We were especially glad to see Nancileigh and Matt, Chris’ grandparents who live in Florida.  We had not seen them since the wedding.  We also went to Phenix City Christmas evening to see some of my extended family.  We weren’t there for very long since we then came back to spend Christmas night at Chris’ dad’s house, but it was still nice just to pop in and say hello to everyone there. To be honest, I’m sure there were tons of things I was going to share about Christmas, but things have been such a whirlwind since then and so many other things have happened, I’m afraid to share too much because I don’t want to leave anything out J
Last week I took a week off of running to spend more time with Chris since I knew he would be leaving soon.  We packed up Thursday to go to Atlanta for the weekend to go to the bowl game.  Thursday night while we were getting dinner ready, I got a call from someone who is a super-special friend of mine (since the 7th grade, plus we were roommates for all of undergraduate college at AU) with a surprise announcement…yes you guessed it, but I don’t think anyone was as surprised as she was.  My friend Hannah is engaged to her boyfriend, Chase.  They are another couple a lot like Chris and I who started dating in high school, took a little time apart in college which (apparently) made them realize that they couldn’t do without each other, got back together and, alas, they will be joining the married people club sometime soon. 
The bowl game weekend was awesome.  Friday night, we met up with another of my closest friends, Lauren Emily (I call her Ellie) and her fiancĂ© Matt (they got engaged over Thanksgiving break…yay, another couple for the married people club!)…and also, with Sara and her boyfriend Aaron who spent the weekend in Atlanta with us…we went to this restaurant that I’m a big fan of in Atlanta, called Dante’s Down the Hatch.  If you love fondue and Pirates of the Caribbean, you should be a fan of this place.  There is a big boat in the middle with a real alligator in it (or maybe it’s a crocodile?).  
I am eternally grateful to Ellie for keeping Mason over the weekend! She is from the Atlanta area, and her house was just 20 minutes from our hotel in Buckhead.  We got into a real bind with Mason because all of the boarding facilities we tried to use were full.  Ellie volunteered to keep him and we could tell he had an awesome time because he so tired after the weekend was over! He got to play with her and Matt’s dogs (Mason loves to play!).
Saturday morning, Sara and I did some light shopping before meeting up with the guys to go to lunch in downtown Atlanta.  From there, we tailgated for the game at an RV tailgate that Dusty invited us to.  RV tailgates are so fun, I kind of want one! Anyway, the game was awesome and we won by way more than any of us thought we would!

After the game, the 6 of us (Ellie and Matt met back up with us) went to Gordon Biersh in midtown Atlanta.  This wound up being the most perfect plan, although I wasn’t sure how it would turn out at first.  I was concerned that if we tried to go to any of the Atlanta bar/clubs to ring in New Years that we would get lost in a huge crowd and spend way too much money on the expensive cover that most places had because of New Years.  Plus, I was afraid we would spend the “clock-stroking-midnight” moment waiting in line somewhere.  Plus I knew we would be hungry.  So, even though Chris and I love going out in Atlanta, we decided to take a different approach by making a reservation at Gordon Biersh at 11:30.  I really liked how we could make reservations that late on a website I use called Open Table, so we knew that we would have a guaranteed seat.  When we got there (about 11:45 after taking the Marta from the GA Dome), the restaurant was practically empty and we got served champagne and lots of food very quickly.  The restaurant was quiet enough for us to all talk and have a great time, and there were TVs everywhere where we could keep up with other games.  Did I mention the food? Football makes me hungry! Ellie’s sweet dad even picked us all up from Gordon Biersh and took us back so we didn’t have to wait forever on a cab or take the Marta back. 
Unfortunately, on the way home, that’s where we received notice that Chris’ grandfather was not doing well.  We changed our plans from going back to Columbus Sunday to going to Auburn.  Chris prepared some things that he wanted to tell his grandfather in case this was “it”.  Luckily, he got a chance to say those things and I know that now he is very glad that he got to.  We left Auburn feeling very encouraged that Martin was going to recover, because he looked well and acted positive in the time we spent with him.  However, we all know that it is not God’s will for us to live forever.  I do not claim to be familiar every verse in the Bible the way I probably should, but one that I am familiar with is in Ecclesiastes 3 and it has brought me comfort over the years during sad times. As it says, there is a time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep, and a time to laugh…a time to mourn, and a time to dance.  Chris and I have had many good times in the (almost) 6 months we have spent married.  Right now is a very difficult time because in the wake of Chris’ loss of his grandfather, he is far away in Colorado and will be unable to return for the funeral.  I am deeply saddened by Martin’s death, as well, and the one person I would really like to be able to comfort and to have comfort me cannot be here.  However, I know that the good times will come again and that the family can find comfort in each other and in his memory, and that Chris can have the relief of knowing he got to say goodbye before leaving to train.  Martin will be very much missed.