a few summers back

There was one summer that I lived in southern France, in a little apartment with red shutters. 

That summer, I tried gelato for the first time and promptly became addicted. I found the goodness that is Speculoos and made it a hearty part of my daily diet. I went to class in the morning, where I worked on my French and met other students from all over the world. I met a girl named Emily who quickly became my best friend there and I'm sure will be a lifelong friend, and we laid on the beach nearly every afternoon tanning in the Mediterranean  sun, becoming some of the brownest girls around. I went to Milan for a weekend and Paris for a longer weekend, exploring and living a life I thought I'd only ever get to dream of. I spent some nights in, blogging and skyping with Benny, who was deployed at that point, and I missed my family more than I can say.

I learned a lot that summer. Some were necessary life skills, like how to tell off skeevy European men in French and how to pick the best produce at the market. I also learned how to not budget money, seeing as I spent all of my money in the first 3 weeks on traveling and planning traveling and maybe a few too many jars of Speculoos. But I learned that my family really will always have my back. And Ben and I grew a lot that summer. If we could make it through a 6 hour time difference, where he was going to sleep right when I was getting home from the beach in the afternoon and I was waking up while he was in the middle of his work day, we can make it through anything. We certainly had some fights that summer, mostly because of topless beaches and shitty Internet connection. But looking back, I think that being apart that summer brought us even closer.

I'm not saying I'd go back to that summer, because well, just LOOK at my life right now. But I certainly miss it sometimes.


from here

Turns out, I think age is what turns you into a morning person. 

I don't ever think I'll enjoy talking when I first wake up [or being talked to, for that matter] [yes, I'm looking at you, Mom], but I'm starting to see why people wake up early. There's something so nice about being up before noon and doing something with your morning. Not wasting the day away and all that. Plus, it's so nice to wake up with a cup of coffee and some time to just sit on the couch and be. No doing, just being. I like it.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22

The day started with birthday panacakes, bacon, and a dance party in the balloon-filled kitchen to this song.

Ben planned a special day for me, full of things that make me happy, so we relaxed all morning, I had tons of time to craft, and after rearranging the apartment for our Friendsgiving, we headed out for the night.

The first stop was Anthropologie, where I've always wanted to buy ALL THE THINGS but could never justify spending that much money. He let me wander around, touching every single thing in the store, and told me I could pick a few things out as my birthday present. I chose accordingly and it was everything I hoped for and more.

After some mall wandering, we met up with my Mom and siblings for a delicious birthday dinner. My almost-sister-in-law just had her wisdom teeth out, so we spent the night trying to make her laugh and teasing her for only being able to order mashed potatoes. And all this was after birthday dessert with my Dad, stepmom and stepbrother on Friday night that included a sweet brownie maker, lots of Abbotts ice cream, and finally a travel coffee mug. I love my fam.

When that was said and done and gifts were opened, we all parted ways and Ben and I went to a different mall to continue our birthday tradition of getting photobooth pictures. Then we met up with our friends, drank lots of beer, and ended my birthday with a bang.

The next day, I woke up with a lovely hangover [which I never used to get, so I know I'm getting old], but there wasn't too much time to lay around dying because we had friends coming over. We threw a Thanks-wait for it-Giving Potluck Feast for our friends and Benjamin decided to cook the turkey, so we were up at the crack of dawn [10 am] figuring out how to do that. All credit for the delicious turkey goes to Ben though, cause I mostly sat on the kitchen floor and drank coffee and tried not to puke. Friends came over, we played football, we ate so much good food, we watched football and old SNLs and played both Disney and Seinfeld Scene-It. We ended the night with some group pictures, chocolate coffee peanut butter cake, and an impromptu birthday song.

I swear, the birthday celebration just gets better and better every year.

 my beautiful Anthro presents
love this kid.

blurry friendz

and leftover birthday balloons that keep the party going.

who I am at 22

As twenty-two is nearing, I find myself curled up on the couch on the quiet mornings I have to myself, thinking about the girl I was then and the one I am now.

"Then" is such a relative term, but more importantly, so is "girl". Looking back, I know I was a girl: an impatient, selfish wisp of a thing, but one who was strong and bold too. I'm not sure how much has really changed, but in all reality, everything has changed.

Twenty-two is an odd stage of life. Society says twenty-two is drunkenly sleeping around, working whatever jobs you can find to make it to the next paycheck. It's living in a haze of smoke and mirrors and wandering around aimlessly, just trying to find a man to convince that you're worth his time. But marriage is a different thing entirely. Society expects that it's being at home as much as possible, cooking dinners and worrying about how clean the house is. It's sitting on the couch all night, engrossed in multiple t.v shows. It's wanting babies. Now.

But as it is with so many things these days, I'm in between those two. I'm a twenty-two year old wife. I'm not a girl, yet not a woman [Britney knows].

But I am a woman. I'm realizing that when I catch a glimpse of the curves of my body in the mirror. I see a face that's aging [towards the better hopefully] and hair that I'm finally [finally!] figuring out what to do with. I know what I do to guys at the bar.

And in my soul, I know it too. Gone are the days of carelessly flirting with every boy who looks my way. My heart belongs to one man and I want him to know that I love him with everything I am.

Everything I am is enough, which is something I'm just realizing again at the end of my 21st year. I'm impatient and a "firecracker", as a friend once said, but these are good things sometimes. I get stuff done and I make sure all is as it needs to be. I'm outspoken, but I don't take shit. I think that's one trait that I like most about myself. It gets me in trouble sometimes, but I know what I want and how I deserve to be treated and God help the person that gives me any less. I may be fickle in a lot of ways, but I know what I want.

And what I want is the life that I have right now. I am a woman who is made up of this 21st year and the 20th and all the ones before. I have baggage, but I have even more souvenirs. Joyful, positive, never-want-to-forget-this-moment souvenirs. I am a woman who has a husband that makes perfect sense. He is exactly who I need him to be and loving him for the past 3 1/2 years has transformed me into a different person. So much of who I am is because of him, but not in a dependent, unhealthy way. I fell in love with him when I was 18, in a summer of adventures and freshly picked flowers and mac & cheese dinners. I grew up with him. I'm growing up with him.

So this is me at 22. I am a girl who's slowly finding her place as a woman. I'm joyful most of the time, but when sorrow comes to my heart, I give it time to take over. I'm making time to be alone with myself, to be quiet and see what it is that I like to do and who I like be. I'm working on thinking before I speak and considering others before myself, but this is a process, this growing gracefully. It's so easy to stay the same person every year, but this 22nd year, I'm going to try to not.

I'm not perfect one tiny bit. But regardless, I'm loved. That's who I am at 22.


from here

I'm taking a little blog break to focus on grad school, some crafting, and my loved ones. I'm just not feeling this blog thing lately, but thought you deserved an explanation for my absence. I'll be back intermittently when I feel like it.

If you're still here when I get back, you're my fave.

Later gators.

my veteran

taken in San Antonio during Ben's boot camp graduation in 2010. Hence the baby faces.

First of all, can we just talk about how unfair it is that some schools get Veterans Day off, when the actual veterans have to work? Also I'm jealous that I have to work while my little sister is sleeping in and just generally being lazy. That's not right.

Regardless, today I'm thankful for my veteran and all of the veterans in my life. My Dad, brother, Grandpa, and a bunch of uncles [and obviously Ben] all served in one branch or another and I'm grateful for the sacrifices they make/have made for our country as a whole. It's not an easy job, but I don't even know where we'd be without people like them. The military are a selfless people, when you get down to it, and I love that we have a day to honor them.

And honor them, we do. Yesterday, we took advantage of all the free food that restaurants were offering Ben, with a free donut at Tim Hortons and free dinner at Famous Daves. And tonight, we're staying at a bed & breakfast a few towns over for free as well. The pictures online make it totally look like an old grandma house [which I feel like all b&b's are], but we're going to take it as an opportunity to just lay around in bed and be lazy all evening long. I'm excited for a night away.

If there are veterans in your life, please be sure to give them a big fat kiss and say thank you. And if not, just be nice to the ones you see out and about. Maybe buy them a drink or two. I've always wanted to do that. I'll be the Oprah of alcoholic beverages.

Rex and another Rex?


There are no Friday Faves this week because I'm too busy fan-girling over our new Smart car! 

That tiny black thing right there is our sweet new ride [blurry picture courtesy of a snapshot of an Instax]. It is yet to be named, but I'm thinking Rex? Rex seems to fit just right for this little beast. Our other vehicle is a giant pick up truck, so it is an adjustment, getting used to driving this thing, but I like it so far. I like to drive fast and this thing can fly, so that's a plus.

In other news, I want a puppy. I want a puppy something fierce. Ben isn't so convinced, however. We're living a no strings attached kind of life, where we have the ability to pick up and go whenever we want, and we love it that way. A puppy would greatly affect that, always having to be home to let it out to go potty and let it run free and all that jazz. We'd get a pound puppy cause they're just so lonely and lovable, but it's gonna be money we'll have to spend on shots and food and stuff, so that part takes some thinking about. But they're just so cute!!! And just look at this one that's at a shelter in our town. How could you not?!

We don't have any real plans for this weekend. Maybe going to see a movie tonight [I have the night off work!] and being productive tomorrow. Hanging out with friends tomorrow night and eating our way around town on Sunday, with all of the free meals offered to veterans at almost every restaurant around. It should be a nice weekend, and if I can convince Ben of the puppy thing, maybe it'll be a puppy kisses filled weekend too. Hope yours is wonderful!

birthday wishlist

You guys, it's almost my favorite time of year: BIRTHDAY TIME!!!

My birthday is in 10 days and to be completely honest, birthdays are my jam. I love birthdays more than almost anything else. They're definitely my second favorite holiday [after Christmas, of course], and I love everyone's birthday, but I especially love mine.

I'm not sure what exactly we'll do for celebrating this year, but I took the weekend off of work, so hopefully it'll be an extravaganza. Am I the only one that turns their birthday into a week long event? Regardless, the past two years, I've made a little birthday wishlist on my blog and I've had a few family members [and Benny boy] tell me that it was super helpful. So, here it is: my wish list for my 22nd year.
1] Elise's "I LOVE _____ " stamp: With all of the paper crafting I do and Etsy orders I send out, I love having stamps to liven things up. This one is my favorite, now and forever.

2] Elise's Holiday Mixed Paper Book: This woman knows the way to my heart. These books are just made of pretty paper and cool little add-ins and then you're free to make the book into whatever you want. I bought the summer book and am using it to kind of scrapbook my awesome summer, with different pictures and journaling and things like that. I'd love the holiday one so I can document Christmas season this year.

3] store credit to Rowe Photo: Rowe is the photography store in town where you can get high-quality prints. We still don't have any of our wedding pictures printed out, so I'd love to be able to get some of those and hang them up around the house.

4] Fujifilm Mini Instax Film: Last year, my aunt and uncle gave me the Mini Instax camera after seeing it on my wishlist. I love it and use it as much as I can, so I'm almost out of film again. Those tiny pictures are just so cute.

5] VS Yoga Leggings: As much as I hate this company, they make good stuff. Yoga pants are the comfiest thing in the world, but my little sister just got the leggings and they look even better. Perfect for winter.

6] gift cards: I just love shopping. For now and for always, getting new clothes is one of my favorite things to do. Forever 21 and Target are the best for inexpensive, cute clothes and since I'm growing up, I figure my wardrobe should probably start to grow up too, with pretty things in it from J. Crew and Anthropologie.

And that is it. To be honest though, I know I'm getting old, because I'd rather have a nice day with the people that I love than get any of this. [But I feel like that's something my mom says, so that's scary]. Only 10 days, people!

remembering [in Instagrams]

I realized the other day that there are a bunch of you sweet people who read my blog that aren't bloggers yourselves. You don't understand exactly why I care about documenting every little thing that happens in my life, and you especially don't understand why I share my life on the internet for everyone to see.

Mostly,  it's to remember. I've had this blog for over two years now and I love looking back on my old posts and reading about a funny memory that I forgot about otherwise. I blog to write and sort things out in my head, and I blog for the community of other sweet blogger friends that I've made throughout the years, but mostly, it's to remember.

And so, in an effort to not exclude you readers that don't have blogs yourself/don't have a smartphone/don't care about Instagram, these are collages of little moments that I've shared on Instagram, but for one reason or another, they didn't make it on the blog. Remembering these little moments is what makes me thankful for the life that I'm living.
[starting at the top, left to right]: 
1) When Ben's gone for the weekend and I get home late from work, I'm a real classy lady: beer, mac and cheese out of the pot, and SNL reruns on the couch. 
2) Sister bonding with hair dye is a dangerous thing.
3) Our coffee table got real tempting for a few weeks.
4) I made a bunch of Thanksgiving potluck feast invites for our friends. We'll be squeezing 18 people into this tiny apartment next week, so that's exciting.
5) My morning toast and coffee is becoming a ritual. 
6) Drinking beer and working on Etsy orders. I love being a grown up. 
7) I dropped my toast on the ground on my way out to the truck one morning, but didn't have time to go back inside and remake it, so I picked those leaves right off and ate it. A little dirt never hurt anybody. 
8) We had my family over for breakfast for dinner and it turned out delicious-ly. 
9) Sometimes on Saturday mornings, I get fancy and cook myself eggs to eat with my coffee and toast. Ben calls is my Old Lady Breakfast.
[starting at the top, left to right]: 
1) Every time I go to Target, something just magically jumps into my cart. This time it was Halloween Oreos.
2) Knee high fuzzy socks are the best thing ever invented.
3) I put all of our wedding cards together into a little book and now, they're on our bookshelf instead of a box in the attic. Smart thinkin, right?
 4) Some moms stocked up on bottled water for the hurricane, but because my little sister lives in that house, Mom bought gallons and gallons of milk. That girl needs her own cow.
 5) Last week, I got stuck in a ditch. That was a fun way to start my morning. Thankfully, a DOT guy with a backhoe pulled me out. Such a nice DOT guy.
 6) I ordered a Blurb book of my Instagram pictures last week and decided to write in it, scrapbook style. I'm happy with how it turned out.
 7) Ben came home yesterday!!! So, I baked him a Funfetti cake and wrote a little welcome home message.
8) I finally found somewhere to put all of my mini-Instax pictures. Now, I just need to take some more so that bottom one isn't so lonely.
 9) Last night, I was entertaining myself in the truck while I waited for Ben's plane to land. Thus, documenting the first time I'd done my hair in a week.

And that's it! I've decided that I'll start doing a little Instagram round up every once in a while for those of you who don't follow me, but if you have it and would like to follow along in real time, I'm @wildchild_jack on there.

Happy Tuesday!

write it down & link it up

Good morning sweet friends. 
I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing weekend. Even though Ben is still gone, mine was the perfect mix of work and play. [and hopefully, he'll be home today!]

I decided to link up with Joelle at Something Charming today for her {write it down and link it up} feature today instead of my usual weekend post. Hand writing is one of my favorite things. I'm not sure why, or when this started, but I love seeing different people's handwriting and seeing how it matches up with their personality. Maybe it's the Psychology major in me, or maybe it's just cause I'm a nerd, but whatever. My handwriting shows a part of me and I think yours does too.

For the link up, we were supposed to write our name and signature, our blog name, where we live, and our favorite poem/song lyrics, so here goes:

 I'd love to see your handwriting too, so if you decide to link up, you have until November 9 and you should leave a comment letting me know you did, so I can go check your post out. Happy writing!

Write it Down

friday faves [part 10]

First of all, how has it been 10 weeks since I started this Friday Faves thing?  And it's November. Time is fa-lying by.

Secondly, I splurged on this lunch yesterday to brighten my day, and let me tell you, it certainly helped. It was a thousand times better than it looks in this picture, believe me. Burgers, fries, and milkshakes can do wonders for any mood.

Thirdly, I've found some good stuff around the web lately! Here it is to keep you company in case your husband got kidnapped by the Air Force on Monday too and probably won't be back until like next year. Oh wait, that's just me:

- As if babies in adorable Halloween costumes on Wednesday didn't already make your ovaries ache, there's this dancing baby that is probably the cutest baby I've ever seen.

- For any girl that's ever wanted to just find a good boy for Taylor Swift: this.

- Time to bake this weekend? These sound like some work, but I'd bet anything that it pays off.

- The genius that created this website should get an award because it can fix any crappy mood. Try it.

- The positive to the fact that I apparently bombed that last interview is at least I didn't do any of these hilariously awful things.

- Thankfully, I was at my mom's for Halloween this week or else, I would have been like this.  And then I would have pulled the texting version of this. Also, it was my first time staying at home since I got married, so I was totally like this in my sister's room. But now, I'm home, getting cozy again and after a few nights of working, hopefully my Sunday will be like this.

This weekend could go two ways: me working all day tomorrow and Saturday night and being a lonely shut in the rest of the time [which doesn't sound too bad actually], or Ben finally coming home and us heading down to New York to go to the Giants game on Sunday. Ben has a ticket and is hoping he gets back in time, but with the military, you just never know. 

Either way, I think it'll be nice weekend. I'm hoping, at least! I hope you all have a good weekend too. 

keep me

Keep Me by Lucy Schwartz on Grooveshark
 This song has been keeping me company lately. It's haunting and beautiful and it sits on my heart just right right now.

Life has been hard lately, friends. 

It's difficult to come up with the words to explain without sounding like I'm all capable of is complaining, so "hard" is the best I have right now.

Thank you to all of you who have [virtually] kept me company these past few days while Ben has been gone. It's been so nice to get your encouraging tweets and Instagram comments. I'm thankful for all of your friendships.

I know that in the face of all of this Hurricane Sandy devastation, my problems are small, but I didn't get that job that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, and I thought I did well when I met them, and to be turned down even though I'm more than qualified is kind of awful. I've never been turned down for a job that I really wanted before. And because I'm lost and vulnerable [and to be honest, hormonal], this raises all sorts of questions about where I belong, what am I doing with my life, what the heck is God's plan for me, does He even care, etc. All things that are a Big Deal.

And then when I get my truck stuck in a ditch, realize that I forgot to do homework for a grad school class I've only been in for 3 weeks, and know I have to go home to a husband-less house? That's all just the icing on my very sad cake.

I'm really trying to see the positive. For example, there was a nice D.O.T guy right down the road this morning that pulled me out of the ditch with a backhoe. And on my way to work, I treated myself to a really delicious burger and milkshake. And as soon as I leave the office today, I'm heading home to do nothing but lay on my couch all night and not talk to a damn person. So there are good things. There are definitely good things. 

They're just hard to stay focused on right now.