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On Becoming a Parent

So here we are, almost two months since my last post.  Motherhood is clearly getting all of my time and energy right now.  I don’t know how all those professional blogging moms do it.  But in any case, I know that I need to get back at it because I tend to use this blog as a journal (slash recipe book), and I know that I need to get my thoughts and stories of parenthood out before I forget them.  And I have some funny stories.  But I will try to spread them out over a few posts…I don’t want to spoil the surprise too soon or make this post drag on.  For now, this is what I have:

We celebrated the birth of our sweet Hadley on September 27, 2013, four days after my due date.  I thankfully had an easy labor, probably around eight hours total from when it began at home to when we had Hadley at the hospital.

On the left is my very last belly picture with Hadley, taken on her due date (September 23).  On the right is our very first family picture, taken just four days later.

On the left is my very last belly picture with Hadley, taken on her due date (September 23). On the right is our very first family picture, taken just four days later.

I wish I could find the words to describe what Craig and I felt when Hadley was born.  Unfortunately, there are no words that I know that could possibly describe something so miraculous.  If I ever come up with the words, I will let you know.  But I know that I am not alone when I say that when, after all the anticipation, you finally get to see this baby that you have been waiting for, the love that comes over you is unbelievable.  And you look at this little baby and think There is just no way something so perfect could be an accident or a coincidence or anything else.  Only God could create something – someone – so amazing.  I also remember thinking that it was so crazy how this sweet little 7lb 2oz baby was the size of a sesame seed when Craig and I found out about her.  I mean, think about how incredible that is for a moment.  It emphasizes in my mind that life definitely begins at conception, because that tiny little “sesame seed” was actually beautiful baby.

Hadley is nine days old in this picture.

Hadley is nine days old in this picture.  We had our newborn pictures done by Tickled Blue Photography.  Please visit the website and check out the other awesome photos Jodi has taken of babies and families.  She is seriously so talented and wonderful to work with.  You definitely need to consider Tickled Blue if you live in the Charleston area!

Becoming parents has been the most rewarding challenge Craig and I have ever faced.  The highs and lows of emotions are changing constantly with the adjustment.  Sleep deprivation can get pretty insane, and I doubt our condo will ever be really clean again (not that a spotless condo was a common occurrence before).  There have definitely already been moments where I think I can’t handle this.  But then, you look down at your precious baby, your gift from God, and the frustration and doubt and anxiety all go away, because, “Look at this perfect little baby.  I couldn’t be happier.”  And the first real smile…wow…it’s like God timed it for when he knows that parents are hitting their limit of the most overwhelmed they have ever felt, and all of a sudden your baby says, ” I love you so much, and I think you are the best parents in the world.”

So, yeah, parenthood is crazy.  It can be crazy exciting and crazy overwhelming.  It can be crazy frustrating and crazy amazing.  And Craig and I have only been at it for less than two months!  I know there is so much more to learn and experience as a parent, and I truly can’t wait!

Thoughts as We Wait on Hadley

This is it…we have made it to the end.  I will be officially 40 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow.  I can’t believe it!  I am SO beyond eager to meet sweet Hadley, I just wish she could be born NOW.  I keep reminding myself that she will come when she is ready, but I don’t know that it’s really keeping me from driving myself insane.  What a waiting game this is!

My mind keeps flashing back to the quiet Saturday morning, when I took a pregnancy test while Craig was taking Jada outside because I figured I was just going to be disappointed by the negative result and didn’t see the point in getting Craig’s hopes up for no reason.  I was obviously wrong, and in an instant, everything changed.  It is funny how a little blue line can have so much power over your future.  We have spent nine months since that January morning preparing for our baby’s arrival, although I highly doubt anyone can every truly be prepared for parenthood.

I remember some people telling Craig and I that we shouldn’t get married right when I graduated college…that we should wait a few years.  We were told that we were too young, and that it was a bad idea to try to balance a marriage while Craig was in medical school.  And now, here we are, getting ready to not just “balance a marriage,” but to start a family when Craig still has almost two years left in medical school.  But the truth is, there will never be a perfect time to get married or to start a family.  If we had decided to wait for the perfect time, we would be waiting forever.  Yeah, medical school takes up a ton of time, and it’s not always easy on us.  But you know what?  Residency takes up more time than medical school.  And fellowships take up more time than residency.

So Craig and I made the decision to not wait for a more convenient time, but to jump into this adventure together.  God has gotten us where we are now, and through Him, we will be the best parents we can be.

So, as we enjoy our last few days as just Craig, Ashley, and Jada, here is a look through my pregnancy, complete with a growing belly, a baby shower, and a finally complete nursery.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby!  Yes, I peed on that stick...get over it.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby! Yes, I peed on that stick…get over it.

Growing Belly

Growing Belly!

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.  I seriously couldn't have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)!  Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job.  These are just a few of my favorites.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)! Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job. These are just a few of my favorites.

Hadley's Nursery

I LOVE Hadley’s Nursery! My parents did such an incredible job. I love the soothing colors mixed with different patterns and textures. This is fit for a princess!

Hadley's Nursery Collage

Love the chandelier above the rocker, the monogram above the bed, and the awesome shelves above the dresser. Have I mentioned how incredibly talented my parents are?! Now if only some of that talent could get passed down to me…

A Taste of Fall and Early Thanksgiving

I absolutely love living in Charleston.  It doesn’t get too crazy cold in the winter, we live right near the beach, we love our church, and there are always a ton of fun and exciting things to do here.  Aside from missing my family like crazy, Charleston is really an almost perfect place to live.

Almost.

The one thing Charleston is really missing…well, I guess the two things it is missing, but they go together…are fall weather and mountains.  Craig and I are outdoorsy people.  We love hiking together, we love the beauty of the mountains, and we especially love the fall.  During the fall, cooler temperatures are accompanied by autumn rainbows of leaves.  Red, orange, yellow, and every possible combination of those colors make a fall such an incredibly wonderful time of the year.  The cool weather means snuggling by the fire, and it also reminds you of the fast approaching holidays.  The colorful leaves offer a gentle reminder that time is passing and things are changing, but change can be a wonderful, exciting, and incredibly beautiful thing.

We don’t get that in Charleston.  Down here, leaves stay green well into the (relatively) “cooler” weather, and then they just turn brown, die, and fall of the trees in January.  No raking leaves to jump in a fun pile.  No beautiful leaves to add the perfect touch to a November hike.  Fall is Craig’s and my favorite season, and we really miss it!

Thankfully, we got a taste of fall this past weekend, and it was just what we needed!  Because Craig and I will be spending Thanksgiving with his family this year, we spent a long weekend in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains with my family, celebrating an early Thanksgiving.  I hadn’t seen any of my family since they came to visit over Labor Day, so the fall weather, plus being up at a mountain cabin, plus having my family together was just fabulous!  We were right by a trout creek, too, so there was also a lot of fly fishing going on.  We had our traditional Thanksgiving meal together, filled with turkey, stuffing, cherry pie, cinnamon cake, jello salad, the best homemade cranberry sauce EVER, and more!

Don’t worry, some recipes from this weekend will soon follow!  For now, you can enjoy these snap shots of our early Thanksgiving celebration and the wonderful fall weather!

I hope you all enjoy your real Thanksgiving as much as my family enjoyed our pretend Thanksgiving!  Happy almost holiday season, everyone! 🙂

Apple Pie Muffins

Apple Pie Muffins

With Craig being in medical school, we really don’t get to spend too much time together.  Recently, Craig has been trying to make more of an effort to be extra focused and productive while he does study so that our together time can actually be real “together time”…not Craig, me, and the third wheel of medical school notes and notecards.  We also want to be more intentional about how we spend the time we have together so that it is legitimate quality time and not wasted time vegging out on the couch and messing on our own computers.  We want to actually plan fun activities in advance so we can make the most of the little time we have.

Craig and I both love college football.  We could happily spend a date night at home watching a South Carolina game, and that might just be the perfect evening for us.  Or it might not.  Watching a South Carolina football game as Craig’s and my “together time” does in theory sound like a great idea since we both love football.  However, this date night idea is always a gamble. When a football game is really bad, Craig has a more difficult time than I do with not letting the outcome of the game affect his mood for the next couple hours.  He works to let the game go, but neither one of us is interested in having a football game make or break a date night, so we just never know if it will be a good or bad idea.

Of the last three South Carolina games, our game against UGA was the only “date-night” game, and the next two were games that we tracked online or watched on t.v., but Craig still studied and I did some work around the condo.  God clearly understood how desperately Craig and I needed quality time, because the South Carolina game against UGA was the only one of these past three that we won.  And we didn’t just win.  We obliterated them.  That game was a fabulous amount of fun to watch.  We enjoyed some egg salad sandwiches and a game of cribbage while we watched.

The game against LSU sucked, but we fought hard, and I was still proud.

Then there was the South Carolina game against Florida this past weekend.  That game was incredibly painful from beginning to end.  It was embarrassing…agonizing…horrific.  We will just leave it at that.  The one and only redeeming moment of the otherwise miserable three hours of a football game (if that’s what you want to call it) was tasting the batch of apple pie muffins I made to help distract myself from the massacre on t.v.

These muffins are unbelievably moist, but they also have a delightfully crusty streusel topping.  I adapted this recipe from allrecipes.com, making a few changes to my liking loving.  Please try them.  You won’t regret it.  I mean, how can you possibly go wrong when you are making a dessert-for-breakfast type of treat?!

Ingredients

Muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
    • If you don’t have buttermilk, you don’t need to waste you time and money going to the store to get some.  Click here to see how easy it is to make your own dairy or nondairy buttermilk for baking!
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • I used Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3-4 cups peeled and diced Granny Smith apples
    • The batter in this recipe is very sweet, so I highly recommend sticking to Granny Smith apples, or a least make sure to use something tart that will not get lost in the muffin.

Topping

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
    • Again, I used a combination of Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine and Blue Bonnet Light.  Either would work, but I was just using up the end of one stick and the beginning of another.

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups of flour, baking soda, salt, 3/4 tsp cinnamon, and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved.  Pour egg mixture and diced apples into flour mixture and stir until everything is well blended.
  2. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan(s), filling cups almost to the top.  For me, the batter ended up making 18 “regular-sized” muffins (a pan and a half).
  3. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Add in the 2 Tbsp melted butter, mixing until well blended.  It should be dark brown and clumpy.  Sprinkle over the top of the muffins.
  4. Bake 25 minutes at 375, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly touched.  Remove from muffin pan to a cooling rack, and enjoy!

I Love College Football!

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I Love College Football!

This is finally the week!  It’s the week I spent the previous 229 days anticipating…It’s the start of COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON!  I seriously cannot contain my excitement.  My favorite college football teams are THE Ohio State Buckeyes and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.  Basically, I’m a Buckeye by blood (both of my parents are from Ohio) and I’m a Gamecock by marriage (which is great because I really didn’t want to get stuck being a UGA fan just because I’m from Georgia).  For almost two weeks now, I have had every Buckeye and Gamecock game scheduled in both my planner and the calendar on my computer.

I grew up with a twin brother and an older brother who was just two years and two days old when we were born.  No sisters.  Just two brothers both very close to my same age.  So yeah, I’d say I was pretty much destined to love sports more than the average girl.  I actually quit ballet and gymnastics as a child so I could play soccer like my brothers.  In general, I like just about every sport (except not really the NBA…don’t judge), but I don’t just like college football.  I LOVE college football (and NHL, but I’ll save that for another post).

I know some people prefer professional football over college football, but that really doesn’t make sense to me.  Sure, some might argue the playoff system makes a little more sense in professional football, but I just don’t feel like loyalty is the same.  That’s where the real difference is.

Most people go to one college, and that’s where your loyalty lies.  You went to school there, and the players played for that one team.  Yeah, some people don’t end up going to college, some people transfer during college, and some go to graduate school somewhere else and therefore feel loyalty to more than one place.  I went to a very small school that couldn’t possibly be competitive in Division I NCAA football.  In those instances, people still choose a school to which their loyalty belongs, as I did.  I grew up a Buckeye because it was in the family, so going to a small school didn’t change anything for me.  I have since also become a Gamecock (and Craig has become a Buckeye) because that is what’s in our McKinney family.

My point is, people generally have one school (or perhaps two) to which they feel most loyal.  That loyalty was what makes college football so great.  It makes what would otherwise be just a football game become something with infinitely more meaning.  It gives you a bond with people you will likely never know.  It becomes us against them.  I may even go as far to say that some games (especially Rivalry Week…just another reason Thanksgiving break is so great) are built up to this mindset of good versus evil.  Of course your team is always the “good” team, and the rival team is always the “evil” team.  That sounds extreme, and I hope there aren’t a ton of people out there that truly believe they are somehow superior to the rival team or that the rival team is in fact evil. However, the tension in the room during a tied rivalry game is great evidence to the weight and importance a single game can have.

Although I personally love football, anyway, I think that it is this type of loyalty for the school itself that draws people into the football scene who otherwise couldn’t care less about this sport or any other.  If you went to college or grew up near a college or your parents went to college, or your best friend or significant other has a team that he or she really cares about, you now have something to root for…a team to care about.  It doesn’t matter if you know what a two-point conversion is or how many downs a team gets.  What matters is that you can read the numbers at the top of the screen to tell you which team is in the lead.  What matters is that you know which team you want to win…you know where your loyalty lies, and that makes this game important to you.

Where is the loyalty with the NFL?  It’s almost non-existent.  This is because after college (and any additional schooling to follow), people move.  Job transfers happen all the time.  How can people, being adults or children, possibly feel such loyalty to NFL team when they are frequently moving?  Perhaps the biggest issue is that even if you want to be loyal to a single NFL team, it is very difficult to be loyal to the players.  Players are traded all the time.  It’s difficult to even get very excited about a new, great player joining an NFL team because there is no telling how long he will be there.  It’s hard to give the same loyalty to a team when its players are ever-changing.

I’m not trying to argue that NFL is boring.  After all, how could any sport really be boring when you have the option of creating your own fantasy team?  I’m just saying that while an NFL game can certainly entertain me, it is NCAA football that truly grabs me and pulls me in.  I become invested, and there’s no turning back.  Sigh.  I know this post may sound a little over the top, but cut me some slack.  It’s been months since I’ve felt the excitement that comes with this season.

OH, and in case anyone is curious, I do offer Craig frequent reminders throughout football season of how incredibly lucky he is to have married someone who loves spending our Saturdays watching football together.  Can’t have him taking that for granted, no siree!  😉

Making Time for Quality Time

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Making Time for Quality Time

So med school basically takes up a ton of time…and money.  It’s tough figuring out how to spend “quality” time together, because when Craig does have a break from school, and when I do have a break from working, cleaning, and cooking, we just want to sit and veg out on the couch.  We sit and watch the NCIS marathons on USA, and then all of the sudden, it’s time for bed.  Even if we do decide we have just enough time and energy to do something fun together, we definitely don’t have enough time and energy to plan time together in advance, and then follow through with it.  I mean, there are definitely a ton of cool and exciting things to do in Charleston, but most of them require a bigger budget than what we have, plus advanced planning.

Craig and I have really enjoyed having more time together this summer.  Craig’s had more time in the evenings and on the weekends to spend time with me and help out around the condo.  I’ve had more free time since Craig has been able to help out some more around our condo, and I’ve enjoyed the free time that has given me to spend with him.  We’ve also gotten to visit both of our families this summer, which is an obvious highlight for me.

However, the summer is quickly coming to a close, and Craig and I are  dealing with the realization that not only will med school continue to require more and more from Craig, but also that we are not going to get another summer like this.  Essentially, this has been Craig’s last summer vacation ever.

So, in preparation for not having the time or energy to come up with fun, easy, and inexpensive ways to spend quality time together once the summer ends, I decided to use some of the extra time I do have right now to brainstorm in advance.  I searched Pinterest, other websites, and of course my own, brilliant mind to create this list.  So now, when Craig and I do have a little time to spend together, we will have a guide of ideas to help us out.  Some of these are things we’ve already done, and some are things we want to do.  Some ideas are better or worse depending on general location (it’s way easier to go to the beach at this point in our life than going to hike in the mountains), and some are even specific to Charleston.  Still, I think this list is at least somewhat relatable no matter where you live, and I hope to add to it in time and continue to pull ideas from it in the future when we don’t live in Charleston anymore.  In the end, I am very happy with this list of mostly free or inexpensive quality time slash date ideas.

Free(-ish) Quality Time/Date Ideas

  • Play Tennis
    • Ok, so I’m quite terrible at tennis…as in I don’t know anybody that I’ve ever met who is as bad as me.  That being said, Craig enjoys tennis, so I try to make a point to hit the ball with him every now and then.  Plus, my skills can only go up, so I really don’t have anything to lose.
  • Throw a Frisbee
  • Outdoor Picnic
    • It may seem funny that I am specifying for a picnic to be outside, but I want to stress the idea of actually packing all of the food up to take somewhere else and just get out of the home, as well as enjoying some nice weather.  Especially since I work from home, it’s nice to be able to just get out and have a change of scenery and to get some fresh air.
  • Go See the Lighthouse
    • There is a lighthouse just off the shore of James Island that Craig has never seen, and we want to make a point to go visit it together.  Obviously everyone doesn’t have a lighthouse nearby, but I’m sure there places near everybody’s home that you just never make the time to go explore, and you definitely should!
  • Take a Walk on the Beach
    • It’s really sad what a rarity it is for Craig and me to go walk on the beach, considering we only live a few miles away…We need to fix that.

      Enjoying quality time on Folly Beach together while I enjoy getting to wear this fabulous hat that I got at the market in downtown Charleston.

  • Waterfront Park
    • This is a popular place where you can walk near the ocean, and there are also fountains that kids can play in.  I know I’ve seen those fountains other places, the kind where the water shoots up from the ground.  It’s fun to enjoy the breeze of the ocean while we can people watch and see little kids playing in the fountains.
  • Explore James Island County Park
    • This is a very popular park that is about a seven minute drive from where Craig and I live.  They do Christmas lights here every year, but we want to go explore all the other aspect of it, as well.
  • Take the Pup to the Dog Park
  • Sketch and/or Make a List of “Dream Home Must-Haves”
    • I really think that Craig and I could be happy just about anywhere, but it’s still fun to think about.  Being that neither of us are really artistic, this mainly means that Craig is looking through realty websites while I am looking through homes on Pinterest, and then we show each other our favorites and say why we like them.
  • Go Hiking
    • This is one of our absolute favorite things to do together, but we don’t get to do it very often considering we live at the beach.  If only we could plop a mountain fifteen minutes outside of Charleston…

      Craig and I went up to the mountains for our first anniversary, and we went on a fifteen mile hike one of the days we were up there. It was so fun and exhausting at the same time!

  • Board Games/Puzzles
  • Make a Fort and Watch a Movie from Inside
    • We actually did this the weekend that I first made this list.  Neither of us had built a fort in years, and we’re going to be doing this type of stuff when we have kids anyway, so we figured we would give it a shot!  Since we were building a fort, we decided it was only appropriate to watch Disney movies over any other movie.  And now Craig has seen Cinderella!
  • Nerf Gun Wars
    • Craig is under the misguided belief that he has a chance of beating me at this.  Come on!  I grew up with two brothers the same and almost the same age as me, so let’s be real.  Craig doesn’t stand a chance.
  • Volunteer Together
    • Craig and I volunteer with the 2-year-olds at our church together, and I can’t tell you how rewarding it is.  Not only is it fun and amazing to see what a difference you are making, but it’s a wonderful feeling to see your significant other be giving of him or herself and make a difference to others.
  • Make Pizzas Together
    • With Craig’s dairy allergy, this is really the only way we can have pizza, but I think other people would really enjoy it, too.  Instead of doing take-out or delivery or something frozen, make your own!  Be creative and try new toppings.  The great thing about pizza is that it’s really hard to completely ruin.
  • At-Home Fondue
    • If you don’t have a fondue pot, just use a crock-pot.
  • Bake and/or Cook Something New
    • I stress the idea of this being something that neither one of you has made before, or else that person may end up making it alone while the other person watches.  The idea is to get both people involved.
  • Go for a Bike Ride
    • Don’t forget your helmet!
  • Rollerblading/Rollerskating Outside
    • Craig and I don’t have our own, so I’m think I’m might try to confiscate my parents’ stuff since they haven’t used any of it in about fifteen years…
    • Don’t forget to wear a helmet!
  • Exercise Together
  • Visit a Well-Known Point of Interest Nearby
    • We visited the Angel Oak on Johns Island, which is one of the oldest living organisms east of the Mississippi River.  It is 65ft tall and estimated to be 300-400 years old.  It is 180ft at its widest spread point, which is longer than any other live oak in America.  There are a lot of other Charleston POIs that we want to visit while we live here, but we did this first because it’s completely free and close to where we live.

      This picture does not do the tree justice for how incredible it really is. It’s seriously amazing!

  • Dinner on Our Back Porch
    • Even a tiny change in scenery goes a long way!
  • TV Show/Movie Marathon
    • If you are going to do this, make sure to be active about choosing a theme and maybe mixing it with another idea (like doing a puzzle if you’ve already seen the movies or baking something).  Just make sure to not turn this into vegging together, because that’s what we’re trying to prevent.
  • Watch Football
    • Or any sport that you both love!  Find a team you are both passionate about, or be competitive and pick a game with rival teams between you two…you could even wager house chores or something on the outcome.
  • Breakfast in Bed Meets Dinner and a Movie
  • Play 20 Questions About Each Other
  • Read Out Loud Together
    • This may sound silly, but Craig and I really love doing this.  We just lay down on the couch together with a book that interests us both, and we take turns reading to each other.  We’ve done it with relationship books, pediatric case files, the Bible, and other books.
  • Make a Bucket List for You as a Couple

Low Cost Quality Time/Date Ideas

  • Go to a Roller-rink
  • Go Ice Skating
  • Rock Climbing on a Rock Wall
  • Coffee Date
  • Minor League Baseball Game
  • Minor League Hockey Game
  • Bowling
  • Miniature Golf
  • Go-Carts
  • Local Improv
  • Arcade
  • Whirlyball
  • Take an Art Class Together
    • Groupon always has these offers coming up, so next time you see one, go ahead and grab it!
  • Go to a Shooting Range

Quality Time/Date Ideas That Require a Little More Time/Planning and Money

    • Dinner Cruise
    • Go to a Big College Football Game
    • Go to an MLB Game

      There isn’t any MLB in the Carolinas, so it was quite easy for me to convert Craig to be a Braves fan. This is at a Braves game this summer that we went to see with my whole family. It was a lot of fun!

    • Go to an NHL Game

So many ideas, and I’m sure I will add more!  We’ve had so much fun trying new things together, and we can’t wait to try out more of these ideas that we haven’t tried yet!

A Year Already?!

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Wow, I really can’t believe it.  Craig and I are coming up on our first anniversary!  How is this even possible?  Where the heck did this year go?  I mean, there were some days and weeks (especially those leading up to exams) that seemed to last FOREVER.  I thought they would never end.  Then all of the sudden it’s been a year?  How can days and weeks drag on and on but then months and the year absolutely fly  by?

Well, I figured I would make an update post since it has been (about) a year since the wedding.  I know that most of my posts on this blog are of recipes or about one event or another, but I figured I should also go ahead and fill in at least some of the space in between.

So yeah, Craig and I got married on June 18, 2011 at The Carl House in Auburn, GA.  It was a stormy day the moved our outdoor wedding indoors, but we were married at the end of the day, and that was really all that mattered.  Well, getting married was all that mattered, but having good dance music was definitely a bonus, because I like to dance.  🙂  The wedding and reception were absolutely beautiful, and I wish I could go back and do it over and over again!  I really could not have asked for a more perfect day.

We went to Melbourne Beach, FL for our honeymoon and stayed at a wonderful B&B called Port D’ Hiver in a room called the Mangrove Suite.  We had looked at different all-inclusive resorts for our honeymoon instead, but this ended up being a better option because of Craig’s dairy allergy.  The B&B was INCREDIBLE.  I would recommend it to anyone.  Unbelievably delicious food, beautiful rooms, and right across the street from the beach.  Craig and I definitely intend to go back in the future.

And of course, no honeymoon to Florida could possibly be complete without a trip to Disney World, so we made sure to spend a day in the Magic Kingdom.  I hadn’t been since the third grade, and Craig hadn’t been since he was really little, so we were both pumped!

The day we got back to Georgia from our honeymoon, we unpacked, did laundry, and repacked to leave the next morning to visit my grandparents in Ohio. They were unable to come to the wedding, and I wasn’t sure when Craig and I would have the opportunity to visit them again once he started med school, so we piled into a minivan with my parents, Craig, Alex (my twin brother), Jada, and Molly (my family’s chocolate lab) for a twelve hour drive to Ohio (my older brother couldn’t come).  We spent a week up there, and then we headed back down to Georgia to spend July 4th with my dad’s side of the family.

On July 7, 2011, Craig and I officially moved to Charleston, SC.  That was a rough day because anyone who knows me knows that I’m basically obsessed with my family, and I just couldn’t believe I was moving 6–7 hours away.  I mean I was definitely excited for the adventure ahead, but I was sad to leave my family and friends behind.  Of course, I realize that I can’t complain too much because if you do have to move 6+ hours away from your family, there is basically no more beautiful and exciting of a place to be the Charleston.  I really do love it here.

For the rest of the summer before Craig began school, I spent some time job hunting, but we mostly chilled and used the time to just be newlyweds before we had to become newlyweds dealing with med school.  We took the time to explore downtown, spend time at the beach, get our condo set up, and find a church home before our schedules got too busy.  We also spent one week split between visiting Craig’s family in Rock Hill, SC and spending time at a mountain cabin in Blue Ridge, GA with my family.  As I have mentioned before, I think family-time is WAY more important than a lot of people these days believe, and it’s something I hope to never take for granted.  I am so thankful that Craig and I got to spend a month together just being married without too many other responsibilities, because I think it was exactly what we needed before the realities of my work and his med school would kick in.

My parents came down to visit and help us decorate our condo the weekend before Craig’s orientation at MUSC began.  It was such a treat to have them down here, although I felt like they did nothing but work that whole weekend.  My parents do interior decorating stuff for “fun” (though they should make it into a business), and they never do anything halfway!

Craig’s orientation began that next Wednesday after my parents left on Sunday, and then Craig’s parents came in town for his White Coat Ceremony that weekend.  It was a fun and exciting weekend, and it was hard to believe that everything was really going to start up for Craig that following Monday!

This handsome guy is going to be a doctor.

When school did start, as expected, it went immediately into high gear.  Craig is one of the smartest people I have every met, and I couldn’t believe how much he was having to study.  During orientation, we heard over and over again from the doctors/professors that the amount of information you are forced to learn during your first year of med school was like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hydrant.  What a great analogy.  It was so true!

I had been looking for a job for a little less than two months, and now that Craig was in school, I didn’t know what I would do with my time (or how we were going to survive) if I didn’t find a job.  Well, God listens to prayers and knows your heart, for sure!  I got an interview for an office manager position at Beyond Wellness Chiropractic on John’s Island that Friday of Craig’s first week of classes, and I was offered the position the next week.  Such a blessing.  This was a part-time job (the doctor had just had a baby, so she had lowered her hours), so it wasn’t going to be enough work permanently, but this was such a blessing and a great start!  (Side note: If you are looking for a chiropractor in Charleston, I highly recommend BYC!  Dr. Juntz is really amazing at what she does!  Not only can she adjust backs, but she’s also done training to adjust extremities, which is great for my terrible knee.  She has had training to be able to adjust babies and expecting mothers, as well!)

Throughout the fall, our weeks were mainly filled with Craig’s school and studying and my work at the chiropractic office and house work slash learning to be domestic.  The weekends were filled with more studying and more house work, as well as Craig and I becoming more involved at our church, James Island Christian Church, and us learning the lesson that if you live in a place as wonderful as Charleston, you are sure to get a ton of visitors.  Our think our record was having visitors somewhere around seven out of eight straight weekends.  I loved having all those visitors, but wow, that was exhausting.  I was so tired of washing the guest room sheets by the end of that period!  I remember telling my friend about all the company Craig and I had during the fall, and he asked me something like, “Well when do you guys get to be newlyweds?”  What a great question!  I’m still not really sure when we found the time to be newlyweds, but somehow we managed!

My friend, Laura, came to visit before she moved to Seattle at the end of the summer. Somehow, this was the only picture we got the entire weekend.

When my mom and dad came to visit in September, we spent one afternoon at the market. My mom and I got these awesome hats there.

Craig’s mom made a trip down to visit at the beginning of October.

We were so happy when the holiday season finally approached.  First of all, my mother has passed on her unbelievable love for Christmas to me.  I really do believe it is the most wonderful time of the year, and I know that I will go even more insane for Christmas once I have children.  We visited Craig’s family two weekends before Thanksgiving, and then we spent Thanksgiving with my family.  We went up to Greenville in December to take part in the annual McKinney Family Christmas chaos that is basically a Secret Santa gift exchange, except that you have to “present” your gift (via poem, song, story, scavenger hunt, etc.).  Craig, Jada, and I had our own little McKinney Christmas morning in Charleston, and then we headed up to Rock Hill to spend time with Craig’s family during the days leading into Christmas.  On Christmas morning, after gifts and presents, Craig and I packed up our things and headed to Georgia in time for our family Christmas celebration with my dad’s side of the family.  We were there for Christmas night and December 26th, but then we had to head back to Charleston on the 27th so that I could head back to work.  I was quite sad about how little time I got to spend with my family at home, but they ended up coming to Charleston for New Year’s, so that made it much better!

Our family friend, Kim, took Christmas pictures of us over Thanksgiving break this year. 🙂

This is Craig’s cousin, Caroline, presenting my Christmas gift with the help of her older sister, Sally. Melts my heart. Love them!

Craig and I had fun decorating our first Christmas tree together. 🙂

After New Year’s, second term started right up.  Plus, besides med school and work, Craig started volunteering with MUSC’s pediatric Heart Health Program, and we both started volunteering with the children’s ministry (mainly with the two-year-olds) at our church.  We have both really enjoyed volunteering, and Craig’s most recent interest for a specialty is Pediatrics.  🙂  He’s really great with kids, so that does not surprise me at all.  A lot of students tend to change their minds about specialties once they begin hospital rotations (during third year), so we’ll wait and see.

I also decided that I needed begin looking for another job.  I was hoping to find something that would have a schedule that was compatible with my job at the chiropractic office, but I knew that was unlikely.  I applied for a few positions, but nothing seemed to be working out for me.  I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed to be able to work more hours.  There were of course other components that could make the imaginary new job nicer, but I wasn’t going to be picky.  Well, God knows your heart, even when you don’t directly tell Him.  At the end of February, my dad called me with a question.  He said that the person who does most of their customer service work at his company, Your Brand Cafe, was needing to lower her hours.  Their company was growing, but if they didn’t hire someone fast, they weren’t going to be able to keep up with everything.  They needed someone with great customer service skills, who was very trustworthy and organized, and they needed that somebody ASAP.  They were hoping that this somebody could be me!  The job would start part-time, around 25 hours a week, and eventually become full-time.  I would work from home, so that would save money on gas.  Plus, provided I were still working there when Craig starts his residency, the job could move with me.  The best part was when Craig and I did eventually decide that we wanted to start having kids, I would still be able to work part-time.

I was going home to be in my cousin’s wedding at the beginning of March, anyway, so we went ahead and set up a meeting to discuss everything.  I spent the rest of the month working at both Beyond Wellness Chiropractic and Your Brand Cafe, and then I switched to only working for Your Brand Cafe at the beginning of April.  God’s timing was really crazy because I ended up having to take Jada to the vet hospital the day after my last day of work at the chiropractic office.  When we finally got to bring Jada home the next Thursday and realized how much of a full-time job it would really be to take care of her and nurse her back to health, I just could not believe the timing.  If I were doing any job, even part-time, out of the home, I really have no idea what we would have done about Jada, because she needed someone there 24/7.  It was God looking out for our little two person and one dog family, and it was truly miraculous.

So we spent April and the beginning of May with me adjusting to my new job, making a trip to Chicago, and taking care of Jada, and with Craig working hard to finish up the school year, and then all of the sudden here we are.  Craig is done with his first year of medical school, and we are about to celebrate our first anniversary!

So what are we up to during Craig’s last summer break ever?  Well, Craig is working at MUSC to help them change to a new program system called EPIC.  He is working four days a week and using the fifth day as a major study and volunteering day.  We will spend a few days in the mountains to celebrate our first anniversary, as well as some time visiting his family in Rock Hill and my family in Milton.  Besides that, we are finally going to finish going through all the boxes we never had time to go through when we moved in (I’ve said it, so now I need to be held accountable), and we are enjoying the fact that when Craig is home at night, he is here physically AND mentally (rather than being physically here but mentally somewhere in medical school world).  🙂

So that was my update!  I not much of an “updater,” because I don’t really know that people would care to read about everything going on in our lives unless there is something really exciting in particular.  However, this blog is about Craig’s and my life together and us learning what is really means to be married, and marriage is not only about the exciting things.   It’s about how we grow and change as individuals and as a couple.  It’s about the everyday things, because to us, it’s the everyday things that really make marriage such an awesome adventure!

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