Hawaii: Aloha Ladies Trip

I was sitting across the table munching on a delicious cheeseboard during ladies night when my friend Jenny says “let’s take a girls trip to Hawaii.” It took about 4 seconds for my brain (and Erin’s) to register what she said before we immediately agreed it was a fabulous idea. Logistics was a little tricky because it was in the middle of my graduate school semester but I knew without a doubt I wouldn’t miss this opportunity. Luckily my preceptor was also taking a vacation in July, so our dates worked out perfectly and I was able to use distance learning and skip clinical that week. I was awake at 3:45 am to concurrently watch the sunrise and learn about developmental milestones for little ones. #worthit

Long before we ever had this conversation, I promised my Grandma Jo I would visit Hawaii for her one day. It was her life long dream to vacation there. Unfortunately, due to her stroke, she never made it to islands. It’s almost as if she knew it would be paradise.

We ate poke, Hawaiian ice, acai bowls, and amazing sushi. We hiked Koko head in 30 minutes flat and were passed by people twice our age. We paddle boarded and unsuccessfully attempted a little yoga on the board. We stood at the edge of the ocean and sipped Mai Tais. With our toes in the sand and the sun on our faces, we found a peace unlike any other. My friend Jenny was right when she said: “Going to Hawaii feels like coming home.” Now I just have to convince my husband to move there after he graduates CRNA school. 😉

Favorite places: Cinnamons for brunch… the guava pancakes are the best I’ve ever had. Kona brewing was the perfect ending to a long hike. Lanikai Pillbox and Koko head hikes, the view was 1,000 percent worth the climb and of course…. Kona coffee ☕️ 💗.

It may take awhile but I’ll be back to Hawaii! Thanks ladies for an unforgettable adventure. #hawaiiforever

Love,

Jenny

Advertisements

Seasons of Life

The Army has taught me a lot of things over the years but one thing you never get used to is moving. It’s honestly not even the packing everything you own and starting over in a new place that is hard. It’s the friendships and family that you make along the way and have to leave behind.

We would have loved to stay in one spot and have the same group of friends for years to come and maybe someday eventually that will happen. For now though, it’s really hard making such incredible friends and saying goodbye so quickly. I like to say you make friends hard and fast by moving so much.

A part of you is tempted not to invest so much of your life and time in people along the way. Then you’ll meet the most hilarious, giving, selfless people that make you love them. Making these incredible friendships always leads to heartbreak when you have to move away.

I’ve learned to thank God when this happens because life would be so boring without them. These friendships help us grow and even if we just had you for a season of life, we are thankful. We are better people because of you. We love you guys! 😭❤️😭

Love,

Jenny

Photo by: Jodi Bodtke, @givingtreephotography

Welcome Home

Dan got home from deployment in January, seriously one of the happiest days of my life. I knew he would be hungry after the long flight so I left super early (if you know me well, you know without a doubt this is WAY out of character for me). I stopped at Chipotle prior to going to the airport. It’s one of our favorites, so I wanted to surprise him with it.

He texted me when he landed saying he was just waiting for his bags. I lied to him and told him I would be late. (Not unusual for me, haha). Little did he know I was standing on the other side of the terminal exit impatiently waiting.

When he walked out he was shocked and relieved to see me. I asked him if he was hungry. He said “Nahhh lets just go home.” I winked at him and said cheerfully, “OK cool, I’ll eat my chipotle AND yours.” He laughed and life felt so normal already. It surprised me that after 9 months of being apart it took about 30 seconds to slide right back into our usual humorous banter.

Nevertheless, it felt so amazing to have him back. We had a welcome home dinner with our close friends. We traveled back to Philadelphia to see his family and friends. His brother and sister in law threw such an amazing surprise welcome home party for him. It included all of his favorite things: friends, Eagles football and Yuengling.

This experience taught us a lot about love and life. Without a doubt life is more fun and incredible together.

Love,

Jenny

Ps. Our last date was at the golfing range of course 🙂

fullsizeoutput_22a8fullsizeoutput_2244

fullsizeoutput_22ac
The day he left 😦

fullsizeoutput_2252

IMG_9412
First Day home!

IMG_9426IMG_9462

fullsizeoutput_2296

IMG_9472
Heading back to America!
IMG_9473
Only read this book if you’re interested in research results. haha

2018. Brave.

I read an inspiring Instagram post about narrowing your goals for the next year into one word. I thought long and hard about this. How could I possibly choose just ONE word to represent my goals for the next year? After a day or two of considering what I would choose, I decided on the word brave.

Dan and I have a LOT of challenges in our near future. Not only are we moving internationally but we are also moving twice within five months. I’m essentially quitting my job and starting graduate school. It’s going to be hard. We will be making friends and finding community in a completely different city.

As I closed my eyes every night for the last few months I prayed “Wherever you lead me, I will go.” As crazy as that sounds, I know wholeheartedly that this journey is going to be full of uncertainties and unknowns but I also know its going to be so GOOD. That is the life we were promised to live. So BRAVE is my word for 2018. What word would you choose? I hope it’s something that scares you because the biggest dreams are often the most terrifying.

Happy New Year.

Love,
Jenny

ps. These are some of my favorite memories from 2017 because y’all know I couldn’t pick just nine.

Spain. Switzerland. USA. Portugal. Germany. Amsterdam. Italy. Formenterra. France. Austria and wherever else in the world life takes us ❤️

IMG_0295

IMG_1084

Dec blog-36Dec blog-311Dec blog-390Laura and I italy

IMG_6946

IMG_8492

Thanksgiving, Friendship+Skiing the Alps

I met Erin in 2012 while we were learning all about ARDS, CKD, MODS, sepsis, “The Sugas” and may other intensive care things we were cramming into our brains at the time. She was the quiet, (almost) front row sitter and I was the notorious back row sitter that talked far too much. #somethingsneverchange

A few months later, we finished the ICU course, packed our things and moved away. I moved to Georgia and she moved to south Texas. Never in a million years did I think the first time I walked into my new job in Germany in 2015… that Erin would be the one sitting behind the desk in the ICU.

Since then we have been cracking jokes and keeping each other entertained when we go “camping.” She’s always been my right sided bunk mate and my ICU bestie. She makes me laugh just as much as Dan does. She’s so selfless and gives more than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s the friend that buys tickets or covers dinner for the entire group… then proceeds to try and convince you she owes you money. 😂 But I’m on to her! She can’t trick me.

Of all our adventures this one was by far my favorite. There’s something so soothing about being in the middle of God’s gorgeous handiwork cruising through the soft, fresh snow. These are my favorite moments while traveling because you realize the world is so much bigger than yourself and your life. Who you choose to surround yourself with says a lot about you. I’m so very lucky to have a friend like Erin. You make the world a better place. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for you and your friendship ❤️.

We drove to Austria, spent hours skiing the Stubai Glacier and laughing. Honestly, it was the best Thanksgiving ever. Thank you Erin. You’ll always be family to me.

Love,

Jenny

Ps. We stopped for coffee on the drive home. When I asked for a cappuccino, The nice gentleman said “Klein cappuccino?” (Small cappuccino). Erin just started cracking up laughing. He smiled, laughed and said ahhh #thosekindofpeople … cappuccino gross (large) it is.

We might have taken the wrong bus down the mountain … but no worries we are excellent in makeshift sign language and guessing at translating foreign languages. Luckily at the bus stop there was an ATM and a step stool for the shorties.

We ventured into Innsbruck for our first Christmas Market of the year. Most of the vendors were closed because of the rain but there was plenty of food and glühwein.

Our views on the way home we’re nothing short of stunning.

As always another cappuccino 💗 Austria you are a breathtakingly beautiful place.

Malta: When the Waters Rise

We had a long weekend of salt water and sangria on the beach. One of my very best friends from college, Sarah and her hubby Caleb flew across the world to see us… and I’m gonna apologize now (because it’s taken far too long to post these) #betterlatethannever.  Good thing she’ll love me anyway 😉 but seriously what an incredible trip.

Crystal clear salt water, beautiful views and sunshine are just a few of the amazing things about Malta. Although, sometimes it’s not the scenery that makes you happy. It’s the company you share it with.

We explored Malta with two of our favorite couples. We went hiking together, drank sangria together and got seasick together. Ok, so it was just Krissy and I getting sea sick. Honestly, it was worth it for those gorgeous Blue Lagoon views. It was refreshing visiting a place with English as it’s primary language. The driving is pretty crazy so I would recommend just taking shuttles or taxis.

In hindsight, I wish I would have packed my Dramamine the day we went on the pirate ship to the blue lagoon… but we can’t always be on our A game, Right?!? Anyways. These are my people. I love them so much.

Love,

Jenny

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13bf

DSC_0031

DSC_0019DSC_0133

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13d2UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13d4

Malta-58

Malta-37Malta-57

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13c8

Malta-66

DSC_0386

DSC_0334

Malta-45

DSC_0304DSC_0383

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13c5

DSC_0412DSC_0399DSC_0400

DSC_0370DSC_0357DSC_0256UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13cdDSC_0163UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_13c7

Malta-60

Malta-13

Malta-21

DSC_0142DSC_0152DSC_0148

Malta-43
When I’m standing on the edge of the world, I want to be standing next to you.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Windmills, Waffles+Rainy Days

After an 8 hour layover in Germany, we finally made it to Amsterdam. We grabbed the rental agreement and headed to pick up the car. I told the guy we rented a convertible and he looked extremely dismayed.

Then I laughed. He said “whewwww you were kidding,” and laughed with me. Apparently the lady at the check out had mixed up someone with a convertible recently 🤷🏼‍♀️😂oops! I think I was just as shocked when we got into our rental. Dan is extremely frugal with travel (opposites attract right?!?). He used to rent with companies that have hidden fees and other problems we won’t mention. Anyways… when I asked him sweetly to book our rental car for us he picked Enterprise and I’m so thankful he did! They gave us this gorgeous Audi. I kept saying, “This drives like a dream.” All up until we went to park in the Radisson Blu parking garage. I couldn’t for the life of me get the car into reverse. 🤔

Naturally we spent 10 minutes figuring it out and then Sarah googled it. Apparently you have to push the stick shift vertically toward the ground prior to shifting. That’s a new one for me. Dan laughed at me as we told him our dilemma. What wasn’t so funny…. was the parking fees at the Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam Airport. Parking is free for the first two hours, then 3 Euro an hour after that for a max of 25 Euro per day.

Now I’m not a genius at math but it’s pretty simple to see you’re pretty much gonna pay the max parking fee if you park overnight. Good thing Dan wasn’t here or he would’ve moved the car every 3 hours 😂. I’m sure the hotel staff could see the irritation and stress on our faces and gave us coups for free wine.

The next day we got up at 730 and started our Amsterdam adventure. We stopped first at the I Amsterdam sign and ate waffles for breakfast near the Van Gosh museum. Right after waffles it started down pouring as we walked back toward the car. Make sure you pay for street parking in Amsterdam because they track you+ticket you based on your license plate.

We drove out of the city to see the windmills. When we arrived, Sarah wanted to see the windmills and I wanted to see the shoes of course. We compromised somewhere in the middle. It turned out to be a beautiful, relaxing afternoon.

We ventured back into the city to explore. Daniel and I have driven in a lot of cities worldwide. Driving in Paris with 9 way intersections was the only city that comes to mind in comparison to how stressed I was driving here. Picture this: Sitting at a red light… you have 200 people on bikes weaving in and out of traffic, mopeds zipping next to you… AND a street tram that was lets say 4 inches from the rental car. In addition, to say that the bike riders in Amsterdam are aggressive… is an understatement. Just be careful, if you’re driving anywhere near the Anne Frank house. #praisethelord we didn’t scratch the rental! We ended our trip with some sweet goodbye cocktails and cider.

Caleb… go ahead and pack the kids up to move here. The waffles will be worth it 😉. Sarah will be waiting for you at this large red rubik’s cube in the airport! ❤️

Love,

Jenny



Holland Edited-4Holland Edited-2Holland Edited-5Holland Edited-3Holland Edited

Sarah took this gorgeous pic!

Ps. Friendship this good, lasts for decades. Next time I’ll see you it’ll be in America to squeeze all those adorable kiddos. 🇺🇸❤️👦🏼👧🏻👧🏼

And when it gets hot…Iced coffee 💕

First Impressions: Lisbon, Portugal

As I’m sitting here drinking a breakfast beer, I’m reflecting on how much this new place has changed my perspective. First of all, #prost because this beer is DELICIOUS. Sagres Bohemia is absolutely my favorite amber beer I’ve EVER tried. Second of all…my plane leaves in 40 minutes and I have no idea which gate it leaves from. Dan or Marcie would be panicking right about now… but I am a low stress traveler. I’m perfectly content sipping this beer, people watching and writing this blog post.
Lisbon surprised me because the people here are so kind. Especially since my friends and I have experienced some not so friendly vibes toward Americans traveling Europe. The airport was bustling and crowded this morning. ALL of the chairs at the cafe were taken except one. It was at a table with a group of 5 gorgeous ladies speaking Portuguese. It felt like I was in the movie Mean Girls, trying to sit with the beautiful crowd. They saw me looking for another table and waved to me so I would sit with them. I think they were intrigued by my breakfast beer haha. Living in Europe I’ve learned that improv sign language is a universal language. I’ve also learned to ignore people staring at you. (And let me tell you they stare!). However, it doesn’t really bother me any more and if you ignore them eventually they stop looking at you.

So first impressions are important but my first impression of Portugal was doubtful. There was a lot of graffiti…A LOT. It was an old looking city with cramped streets and anxiety producing traffic. Marcie and I were looking at each other with wide eyes during the entire cab ride. The closer we got to our Airbnb the more charming the city became.

When we finally arrived, we walked up 5 flights of old stairs (the first flight was marble 😍). When we got to the top we were really impressed. The lighting was perfect and this two bedroom apartment didn’t disappoint. The owners even left us a bottle of local wine for our stay.

We dropped our bags and went exploring. The first day we wandered into a craft fair that was selling sangria. We sipped sangria from the market and enjoyed the music of the city. We leisurely walked through the city and plazas. Occasionally stopping to shop for summer dresses, swim suits and coverups for summer. I loved shopping with Desiree and Jaden. They make me laugh constantly. We worked up an appetite shopping, since we were starving and missing home so we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe Lisbon. That comfort food hit the spot!

The second day we got up ridiculously early. This is the easiest way to get the best photos. We honestly just got up early due to the time change. We planned our first stop, Comercio Square. I snapped a picture of this tram and then realized it was the one we were supposed to take to see the Bélem tower 😳 so we sprinted to make the tram. A nice older man stuck his cane in the door to prevent it from shutting. We laughed as we sat down. Running before 7 am is not the norm for me on vacation. We thought it would be a long ride so we weren’t paying attention and got off on the wrong stop. However, we got to see the Jeronimos Monistary and the Monument to the Discoveries. It was so beautiful watching the sun come up. Believe it or not the silence of the mornings brings me so much peace. I talk wayyy to much for the average person so we just enjoyed this slow and quite morning. Eventually we walked down to the Belem tower and had breakfast.

After breakfast we used our navigation skills and with the help of Google maps we figured out the public transit system. We took trams, trains and buses in order to get to Cintra. It was a beautiful place and I loved how everything was covered in multicolored tile. EVERYTHING. Including the window for the guy selling train tickets! I would highly recommend going there if you’re ever in the area.

 

Portugal-3
Obsessed with the details 😍
Portugal-21Portugal-38

Portugal-32


Portugal-36Portugal-41

Portugal-44


Portugal-52Portugal-58


Portugal-61
This is the moment I realized I was taking a picture of the tram we were supposed to take!
Portugal-62
Leisurely chatting as we almost missed our Tram!
Portugal-64Portugal-66Portugal-69

Portugal-67Portugal-71


Portugal-80Portugal-94Portugal-86Portugal-101

Portugal-108
Belem Tower
Portugal-109
Breakfast with a tower view and eclairs 😍
Portugal-111Portugal-116

Portugal-119
This picture reminds me the most of Lisbon. Bright colored buildings, Laundry drying in the breeze and blooming purple flowers.
Portugal-122
Tile in Sintra
Portugal-128Portugal-126

Portugal-129
Pena Palace, Sintra
 

After a doubtful first impression, I have to say that Lisbon was a very charming city. The kindness of the locals made an impression that will stay with me forever.

Love,

Jenny
Ps. A special thanks to Marcie and her family for the friendship and love we share. I’ll miss you dearly 😭 but I know our paths will cross again. 💕💋

 

Mothers Day: Pregnancy, Love and Loss

A few years ago I was in Georgia on a hot and humid spring day. I was single at the time and sitting in the back row at Cascade Hills Church on Mother’s Day. As the service opened the pastor began with the speech I had expected. He acknowledged the amazing women and mothers within the room. They all stood and received a flower. What I wasn’t prepared for was what he said next.

He continued “For all of the women in this room sitting down right now that have been hoping and praying for a baby or have lost a baby, God sees you too and is with you in this moment.” That’s when I saw multiple women start to cry. I’m not going to lie it even made me tear up hearing his words, despite that I was not one of those women.

Two years later.

My husband Dan and I were in North Carolina on leave when we unexpectedly found out we were pregnant. We were on leave because he was preparing to leave for deployment. We were ecstatic, surprised and I was slightly terrified too haha.

As the weeks went by, I became extremely sick with nausea and vomiting. One morning I couldn’t stop vomiting. I was on the bathroom floor on my knees crying as Dan held my hair and rubbed my back. He sat on the floor with me and held me as I swore I never wanted to do this again. He smiled and assured me we could talk about it later.

When I wasn’t sick, I was constantly sleeping. I would sit down on the couch to pet the dog and I would fall asleep for 2 hours. The combination of being sick and constantly sleeping was my reassurance our baby would be healthy, because I felt miserable.

On the day of our first ultrasound, I woke up and ran errands because I was starting to feel better. I was emotional to say the least. Dan was leaving in a week for deployment and this was the only appointment he could attend. He was almost late because he left work to make it to the appointment. I joked that because he was running late we would definitely have a girl. He made me laugh in the waiting room. He always makes me laugh. We were incredibly happy and excited to see our sweet baby for the first time.

The moment she put the ultrasound probe on my stomach I knew something was wrong. The baby was far too small to be at 10-14 weeks gestation. As we took a closer look, the baby had no heartbeat. My heart sank and silent tears began to fall down my face. Dan couldn’t tell right away but I saw the happy smile and color leave his face when he realized what was happening. Our favorite OB doc came in and confirmed our fears. He hugged us close and prepared the paperwork for a D+C.

As they prepped me for surgery, the tears continued to fall. When I woke up in PACU the first thing I said was “I feel like I’m waking up from a bad dream.” Dan was incredibly loving and supportive. He held me close and let me cry. He assured me that today, it wasn’t ok but eventually it would be. He reminded me that God’s timing is always perfect.

Loosing that baby was like loosing someone we never knew but already loved. 

The first week I felt like I was drowning in grief. I cried all of the time. I cried myself to sleep. I prayed and prayed, and prayed for peace and healing in my ever so shattered heart. No one really talks about this kind of pain. I needed to, so I did. Dan is not the best at keeping secrets. So a lot of our close friends and coworkers knew about the pregnancy. I’m not sad we told people, I’m just sad it didn’t end up the way we thought it would.

Dan deployed and I went back to work. The sadness and anger took a long time to fade. One day before work I was sitting in my car reading a blog post from a close friend. It was about her experience with loosing a baby. It made me ugly cry, rivers of tears poured down my face. I cried so many tears I needed a Kleenex but all I had was the dirty shirt I ran in that morning. I didn’t care, I used it anyway. After reading her post, it gave me hope that maybe someday we would have a sweet little miracle baby.

To the women that were sitting down in church that day and to the women that have experienced this kind of love and loss, You are not alone. Your pain is real. Your tears are real too. Let them both come, holding them in will only prolong the pain. We may never have the answers to why these things happen. However, even as I cried myself to sleep multiple nights in a row and even as I said goodbye to my husband I knew in my heart, God has a plan for us. In our vows, we promised that our faith would always be the steady ground we would stand on. So I decided I had to live up to that promise I made. I would stand on that steady ground and I would smile through the pain, tears and heartbreak.

To our friends, coworkers and family, thank you for your outpouring of love, support, prayers, kind words, warm hugs and beautiful flowers. 

Thank you Vera, for your silent sweet hug as you prepped me for surgery. Thank you Heather, for holding my hand in the operating room, your face is the last thing I remember before the propofol kicked in. Thank you Mindy, for sharing your heartbreak with me, so I didn’t feel so alone. Thank you Gina, for the beautiful flowers. Thank you Grace, for sending me Trauma Life oil, I diffused it when I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Thank you Marcie, for bringing me pink cupcakes with lemon frosting, you always know the way to my heart. Thank you Dan, for your kindness, friendship and love. Forever will never be long enough with you.

There are never really words to say in moments like this in life. However, the words of that pastor echoed through my mind that day and for weeks to come. “God sees you too in these moments and is with you.”

Love,
Jenny

 

IMG_1833

The picture above was the first morning I woke up and wanted to drink a cup of coffee. Most of my friends know how much I absolutely love coffee, espresso and cappuccino but while I was pregnant I had an aversion to coffee. As I sat outside with the dogs that day watching the sun come up, I knew there would be healing and so much grace to come.

 

Frohe Ostern: Easter with a Pastry Chef

Melissa was the perfect roommate in college. She was the one that would open my door, sit on my bed and convince me I was studying far too much for a Tuesday (Let’s binge watch Sex in the City instead). She was always positive, adventurous and fun. It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 years since we’ve met. The time continues to pass but our friendship hasn’t changed. We both travel all over the world and when time permits we run into each other about once a year or two. 

This summer she’s traveling through Europe and I’m so happy she spent a week with me in Germany! There’s no one else I’d rather eat tiramisu with in pjs as we binge watch Netflix . #somethingsneverchange

When I picked her up from the Airport we stopped in Mainz for breakfast. We happened to stumble upon an amazing farmers market. So we picked up fresh fruits and vegetables after brunch.







I learned a lot from her this trip:

 1. I only own one whisk… which is definitely not enough for a chef preparing Easter dinner. 

2. You can shred chicken with a kitchen aid #lifechanging moment for me. 

3. I’m far more technologically incompetent than I thought I was. When Dan left, everything stopped working Haha 

4. Melissa makes the best chocolate cake I have ever tasted. Who knew you can make a cake with beer!?!


5. Great friendships will grow as time passes. I am so thankful we got to spend this time together –> and I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about the crazy allergy season in Germany!

While she was here we went shopping in Trier because it’s one of my favorite cities. Trier is the oldest city in Germany. We also took a trip to Lambrecht, Germany to see where her heritage came from! It was a quiet little town, perfect for park bench sitting and gelato eating of course. At the end of the week we enjoyed Easter dinner with our closest friends. 


Friendship really does heal the heart❤️ 

Love,

Jenny



Lambrecht, Germany: