My Non-Horse Summer

It’s been a wild summer, you guys. Of course I love sharing all my Frankie updates with you, but thought it would be fun to give you a little snapshot of all the other fun adventures that have been going on when I’m NOT at the barn.

Back at the beginning of summer we had our annual staff retreat, which involved decorating and piloting little slide-y go carts. When brainstorming ideas on how to decorate, I loudly blurted out DRAGONS and everyone just kinda rolled with it. I think you can see which one I am here. Earned the nickname Token Extrovert at this retreat. Whoops.

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We got a new car! I’ve driven it approximately one time for approximately 90 seconds, but technically it’s both of ours. Ask me how much I enjoy having a car payment, but then ask me how much happier my guy is driving something that has actual air conditioning in the Virginia summer. It all evens out one way or another.

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Speaking of which, he also learned how to make the world’s most amazing french fries from scratch and we now eat them all the time omg they’re actual perfection. Better than any restaurant.

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Already mentioned this, but pulled off a surprise trip to LA for his 30th b-day where we got to see a bunch of his best friends and chill with them for a weekend. It was awesome to see them and celebrate.

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We went up to upstate NY for his annual family reunion, where one morning they all woke up to do hill runs. Like…what. Why did I marry into this??? This family is all annoyingly athletic, it’s wild. I’m going to need to step my game up to keep up.

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I cut even MORE of my hair off and guys I love it. Less hair = less heat.

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We went up to Rhode Island and got to hop on my dad’s boat for a bit. It was crazy hot but worth it for some time on the water.

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And last but not least, we went on our honeymoon down to St. Lucia! It was amazing and gorgeous and relaxing and so so so much fun, and I’m really not loving coming back to reality.

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So there you have it. It’s been a whirlwind of traveling all over during the past few months, but it sure has been fun. Just a heads up though that we are boycotting airports in 2020 and our slogan is Y’all Come To Us. We’ll be at home.

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Chugging Along

I wish I had something super exciting to share with you, but things are pretty quiet over here!

By quiet I mean that work is very busy but manageably so, school is interesting and fun and not nearly as time-consuming as I had feared, I’ve been spending some wonderful time with friends, and Francis continues to be the World’s Best Horse(TM) at all times forever.

I guess by quiet I actually mean it’s not even a little bit quiet, but it’s been really nice finding a new equilibrium for myself.

I’m now about 5 weeks into my first 7-week term, and I continue to love being a student. Even the dreaded group projects have been great, as I hooked up with 3 other fantastic people who are smart and interesting and great to work with. We share pictures of our dogs every day (we all agreed that Frankie counts as a giant dog) and it’s been a pleasure getting to know them and work with them!

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Everyone needs to see this picture of Francis being the most precious snoozler

On the home front, I bit the bullet and hired a cleaning service to come into our house once a month. So far it has been worth every single penny for peace of mind. Could I just do it myself? Absolutely. But with work and school and the barn and other commitments piling on, I want to be able to just enjoy my limited free time at home with my husband without worrying about chores. It took a major source of stress off the table entirely! I don’t know that it’s something we’ll continue once I finish school and my schedule opens up a bit, but for now it’s some very welcome help.

On the random personal front, I finally got that haircut I’ve been talking about! I told you all how much I hated that super long braid coming out of my helmet, so I went ahead and chopped it all off. My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner bc OMG I LOVE MY NEW HAIRCUT SO MUCH. Seriously, I feel twenty pounds lighter and a million times better.

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I’m not so great at selfies but I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER

On to the star of the show: Frankie continues to be a steady rock of wonderfulness, sharing his happiness every day. He recently accidentally got a week off – between school, work, sickness, and my trainers being gone at a show, he missed his training rides and I didn’t make it out – but I didn’t even find this out until after I hopped on and he was absolutely perfect. He’s constantly re-winning the Best Ammy Horse Ever Award. I can almost see my reflection in his coat right now from the shine, he has little dapples peaking out, and is just looking beautiful right now. I know soon enough he’ll get sunbleached and faded so I’m enjoying that spring coat while it lasts!

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The lighting isn’t great but just look how handsome he is!!! I just can’t stand it.

We have a show coming up later this month and I’m feeling great about it! We’re planning to do a mishmash of things – some Low Adult jumper classes, some adult eq classes, and if the weather holds and they run it outside I’ll do the hunter derby with him too. We’re not trying to qualify for things, we’re not trying to get the jumps higher, we’re just planning to go out there and have fun doing some different work together. I’m incredibly excited to go play with my best boy!

So there you have it. Things are busy, but a good busy, and I’m thoroughly enjoying this stage of life. Hoping to rope a friend into videoing some rides soon so I can have some media to share though – I realized I don’t have any record of me jumping my horse since last year!! I pinky promise that we’ve actually been doing work and he’s been awesome at it. Can’t wait to share when we have something ๐Ÿ™‚

Wedding Pictures!

We’ve had our wedding pictures back for a while, and I’m so excited to share them with you. Between our photographer and her second shooter, we had over 1600(!) images to reminisce over, and I was able to narrow it down to 300ish top favorites. I wish I was exaggerating. Here are a few of my all time favorites that make me smile real big. And if you’re more of a video person, scroll down for that ๐Ÿ˜‰

PC: Samantha Robshaw Photography
VC: Stop Go Love

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The most elegant photo of me from that day, hands down. And entirely staged. My earrings were definitely already on.
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If you know me at all, you know I have a strong penchant for socks
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Mah girlsssss
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My best friend knows how to have a good time
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My mini-me was just the happiest little girl all morning
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She loved being part of the whole thing
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Kinda annoying that he can look this good while brushing his teeth but whatever it’s fine
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I’m not a big cryer, but I definitely got a little weepy when I saw my dad get emotional. Held it together before and after just fine.
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Big brothers and little girls! My middle brother totally looks like he has to poop (but it’s elegant because it’s in a tux, or so he tells me)
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We all had pockets for snacks
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They were both perfect all morning and then NOPED as soon as we got to the church hahahaha I’m using this picture as blackmail for their entire lives
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For the non-Greeks: these were our first steps as man and wife
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So happy we were in my childhood church!
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Directly after the ceremony, hiding in the back room waiting for people to leave so we could take pictures. I’m so so so happy she captured this moment like this.
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Stopped by the State House for pics!
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Listen, when I first toured the venue I warned them all I’d do something weird with this torch. No one can say I didn’t warn them.
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Parents!
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I’ll never ever forget coming into the hall and seeing all our family and friends around us like that. Magical.
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Gross
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The one battle I fought HARD was to have Dunkin’ Donuts at my wedding, and I was beyond happy to have my doughnuts. I only got one bite because I was so busy with everything, but that one bite was worth it.
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We got literally everyone involved in the Greek dancing. It was so cool that my new in-laws jumped in so eagerly!!
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10/10 would recommend having a change of shoes to anyone getting married
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The evening in a nutshell.

Viva Carlos Blog Hop: My Ideal Day

I’m loving this blog hop, because I’ll take any excuse to daydream about my ideal scenarios. The hardest part for me is narrowing it down to just one day, since there are so many iterations that sound so ideal.

First off, I’d wake up around 7 without any kinks in my neck or back. For me that’s just the right time to feel like I’m not waking up in the wee hours, but not lazing the morning away. And the neck kinks are self explanatory.

I’d then have a nice light breakfast of fruit and yogurt with my husband. Just a little something to wake up. Throw some English breakfast tea in there because in Dreamland I can have caffeine without staying awake for 3 days. I wouldn’t have to worry about preparing any of it or doing any of the dishes.

From there I’d head to the barn, with my magically not-allergic-to-horses hubs coming with to enjoy the fresh air. He would obviously bring a fancy camera with him.

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Like this only imagine that he’s not holding back sneezes

My first ride of the day would be on the schoolmaster I bought with my imaginary riches, with a brief lesson jumping the big jumps and learning more about how to ride the big tracks. After cooling and grooming my delightful packer, it would be Francis time. Plenty of time to groom and play to get ready, then a private lesson of learning to work together. I don’t even care what we do in the lesson. Then a nice cool out walk around the neighborhood with my ammy friends to enjoy the sunshine, more grooming time, and a deep clean of my tack while chatting and hanging out.

After that I’d probably want to head to a winery with friends to relax and enjoy trying some new wines. We’d be able to sit outside and pet everyone’s dogs and listen to music. It would be sunny and 70s – warm enough to be comfortable outside, but not too hot or humid.

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This one 10 minutes from the barn would do nicely (they have a mini donk there too so it’s literally a paradise)

I’m thinking this would take us to about mid afternoon, at which point I’d want to head home to my house with a quiet yard, garden, and plenty of ducks. I’d go for a leisurely swim in our pool, and we’d have the neighbors over for a barbecue, share a bottle of wine, listen to some music, not get eaten by bugs.

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I imagine it looks a lot like this. Source

The house would magically clean itself, and we could go to bed at a reasonable hour to the sound of crickets.

Basically all I ever want to do is ride ponies and drink wine with friends.

Alternative version: pretty much any day I get to spend at a horse show. Lucky me that I get to live my ideal day so often โค

Kicking Off the New Era

Building on the new-car-news, I have more non-horse related news! It’s been quietly in the works for a bit now, but I’ve been keeping it on the DL as I’ve figured things out.

Basically, I was so relieved by being done with wedding planning that I almost immediately started looking for something else to fill my time. Because I’m garbage like that.

I considered a couple things:

  • I could get back into the 6x/week training schedule with Francis that’s worked well in the past. But I’m honestly feeling really good about the slightly lighter schedule that I have while keeping him in training with AT. I don’t have huge competitive goals this year, so I’m happy with this different balance of barn time for a little bit to re-set.
  • I could throw myself into my workouts more devotedly. But I also already do them consistently and as much as I like feeling healthy, I have approximately zero desire for it to be a “thing” in my life besides serving a basic purpose.
  • I could throw myself into keeping a really beautiful home for myself and my husband. But we live in a small 2 bedroom condo that takes very little effort to keep tidy and clean, so there’s not actually that much to do.
  • I could start cooking meals more often hahahahahaha yeah right nope.

And as I was considering and discarding each of these options, I got an email from a listserve I had signed up to on a whim 6 months ago: “Do you want to meet with an admissions rep for X school in your area?”

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How I stared at this email 6 times a day for several days

I was about to send it to the trash without responding, but I paused and thought about it. And thought about it the next day. And brought it up to my husband. And then brought it up to my boss which lead to one of the most amazing professional mentorship conversations I’ve ever had.

So after ALL that, I finally responded that yes, I’d like to meet with this rep. I knew next to nothing about the program, I had done zero things necessary to apply to ANY program (let alone this one), but I decided to go for it.

And in the intervening 8 days until that meeting, I had researched 50+ other programs, attended two info sessions in person, talked to 10+ admissions reps, and applied to one. Oops.

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SHUT UP AND HELP ME WRITE MY ESSAY

The more I researched, the more I knew what questions I wanted to ask and what was important to me. By the time I got to that originally scheduled meeting that kicked this whole thing off, I had already realized that program was not a good fit. But it seemed rude to cancel.

The long and short of it is that within 2 weeks of seriously considering applying to schools, I had an application in. About 2 weeks later I had an acceptance letter. And in just about 2 months I’ll be kicking off the next phase of my education as I pursue my MBA!

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Dad if you’re reading this just know that I’m doing this at least partially to prove that I’m the superior child.

The closer it gets, the more excited I am. Getting my MBA has been in the back of my mind for a while now (as you may remember), and while it will require some sacrifices and changes, there won’t ever be a better time for me to do this.

For those of you worried about Francis, never fear. He’s obviously not going anywhere. Robust employee benefits mean that my financial situation remains unchanged, so my only consideration is time. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t ride at all, but realistically I know there’s no way to support a 5-6x/week schedule while also working full time AND going to school. He’s currently in a 2x/week with a pro and 3-4x/week with me program, and I’ll plan on sticking with that until I have a better handle on the workload. My trainer is on board and I know that we’ll adjust as needed to make sure he’s getting plenty of exercise and plenty of love!

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Fewer interrupted naptimes are fine with him.

This will mean fewer horse shows and the jumps will likely have to be lowered a few holes, but I’ll still get my saddle time and the knowledge that he’s healthy and happy in his beloved program. And yes, the flexibility and cost of the program factored into my choice very heavily for this reason. Can’t make any decisions without considering the bestest Frankenbean โค

I’m not sure how this blog will be affected by this new enormous piece of my life, but I’m excited to find out and bring you along for the journey!

A New Era

Guess who has a new ride! And no, Frankie hasn’t gotten a brother. It’s the kind with four wheels and a steering wheel.

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Introducing new red car! And no worries – I still have the best plates. Photo cred to WBH for the dramatic angle.

I’m so beyond excited to have this new-to-me car. But while it’s newly mine, it isn’t completely unfamiliar to me.

Rewind a few years. Before I bought Frankie, I had this tidy little savings account (because I was super boring and never did anything besides pay rent and buy groceries) and was planning to use it to buy a car. I did tons of research, asked tons of questions, and talked to my very wise father about it extensively.

Of course we all know this ended by me blowing my savings on a big bay behemoth instead of a vehicle.

But right around the same time, my dad called me to share the exciting news that he had just gotten a new car. Hooray! And he started describing it. When he finished, I asked why he had picked that car.

“Well, I did some research and talked to people and thought this was a good choice for what I need.”

UM NO FATHER ‘TWAS I THAT PLANTED THAT IDEA because he literally bought the exact car I described. Even in the color that I liked.

Naturally, I spent the next several years trying to convince him to sell me the car. I was not discouraged by failure, because my father also taught me tenacity. See, this whole thing is really his own fault.

Things kinda reached a head this past year when my beloved Jeep started needing more and more attention that I was pretty unwilling to invest in. I knew the inspection would be up in January (and that it would fail), and that I would need to get a new ride by mid-February.

Lo and behold, my parents decided that their car was actually a little too big for their needs, and they were going to be getting a different model.

We negotiated a price, we picked a day, and Nicholas took a one-way flight up to RI to drive it down to VA the same day. Yes, he does win Husband of the Year. And so we have a new big red Subaru.

That same day, the mechanic who saw the Jeep for the inspection (and failed it, obviously) made an offer. I accepted immediately and signed over the title. And yes, there were tears as I let go of my car of 10 years.

So while I spent 4 days and roughly 8 hours at the DMV trying to get all the paperwork sorted last week, it’s at least because I’m now driving a car with solid brakes and windshield wipers that work. I’m in love and really enjoying the Bluetooth connection to talk to my family and listen to podcasts.

But for all its quirks and constant need for repairs, that little Jeep carried me through everything. From the day he arrived in the driveway for my 17th birthday, he carried me to high school, college, boyfriends, breakups, road trips, moving to VA, 6 apartments down here, interviews, my first job, my second job, buying a horse, countless lessons, so many amazing shows, my first date with my now-husband in a blizzard, his proposal, our mini-honeymoon for my 27th birthday. As silly as it may seem, that car was a constant fixture in so many important moments of my life and occupies a large space in my memories. I’ve made countless phone calls to family members from that car, I’ve laughed with friends on our way to adventures, I’ve cried on my way home from bad days, I’ve napped in the backseat, I’ve sang along to the radio as loud as I could,

Cheers to Benjamin, the little red Jeep that helped me grow up. And cheers to the new big red car that will see me through the next exciting chapters!

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Blogiversary Math

It’s hard for me to believe, but my fourth blogiversary is already here! It’s so crazy that I’ve been writing about my adventures for so long, and that so many of you have joined the journey. Many of you have even been here since Day 1, and I’m amazed and grateful that you’ve stuck around. You’ve all been an incredible source of support, advice, hilarity, and general awesomeness over the years.

To celebrate, I did what I do best- I analyzed some numbers. Enjoy a few charts of this blog!

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I thought this one was interesting! Visitors and views have both increased steadily over time even though the number of posts per year has declined. My hypothesis is that the content has gotten more relevant- while I did enjoy my lesson recaps, those didn’t encourage as much interaction as some of my more recent posts.

Based on the average % change in visitors and views (excluding the jump from 2015 to 2016, which was abnormally high), I can aim for roughly 37k views and 13k visitors in 2019. I mean, as long as I can maintain some decent quality of content, no pressure.

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This one isn’t too surprising for me. Basically the number of comments I get on each post is fairly steady, but the number of comments per visitor and per view has gone down. I interpret this to mean that there are a fewer number of people commenting, but those people that do are more active. Like I said- not surprising. I don’t have the largest following, but those of you who stick around are a frickin’ fantastic group that I get to chat with a ton.

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These are all the countries I’ve been able to reach over the last few years! My readers are predominantly in North America (consistently about 93% of my traffic), with roughly 4-5% of you in Europe, and the rest of you coming from all over the rest of the globe. Hi everyone!!

Some of the links you all have clicked on most often from here:

My trainer/barn’s website
Instagram
The Printable Pony
The 900 Dollar Facebook Pony
In Omnia Paratus
Amateur At Large
Guinness on Tap

And some of the ways you have found me:

Fraidy Cat Eventing (aka everyone’s favorite blogroll)
A Enter Spooking
The 900 Dollar Facebook Pony (apparently the link-love is reciprocal)
Instagramย (weird how linking between my accounts actually works, right?)

Some of my most popular posts by views:

2015: How to Groom Your Gray Horse
2016: Setting the Record Straight (which I didn’t even write you guys, come on)
2017: How to be a Better Horse-Show-Boyfriend (seriously guys?! After all I do for you, you like him more than me?! Uncool)
2018: What I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know (Finally. Thank you.)

And some of my most popular posts by comments:

2015: First Time XC Schooling
2016: The Maybe-Not Forever Home
2017: HITS Culpeper: Commonwealth National 2017
2018: Show Recap: WEC 9

And not to get sappy at you, but the fact that these are the ones you’ve commented on the most makes me so happy. Most of these were really big adventures and you guys were so awesome and encouraging about them.

A lot has changed in the past four years: I’ve moved (three times), gotten married, changed my name, changed jobs, bought The Best Horse(TM), traveled all over for shows, tried new adventures with the Frankenbean, and have learned more than I could’ve imagined. This blog and the community I’ve found with all of you has been a wonderful constant, and I’m so excited to keep sharing the adventures with you!

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From 2015…
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…to 2019 and on. Cheers to 4 fantastic years! PC- Liz Stout Photography

#FrankieHasADad

HI EVERYONE I’M BACK AND FRANKIE OFFICIALLY HAS A DAD WOOHOO!!!!

I only have a few pics to share as my friends send them to me or post on social media (for the love of George why can’t they tag me so I know when there’s a good one), but I missed y’all too much to wait until I had real beefy content to share.

In a nutshell: it was a perfect fairy tale day, and I got to marry the best man on the planet.

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You can’t see my priest because he’s roughly 5’2″ and Nicholas and I were a literal human shield for most of the ceremony.

 

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I felt like a princess, he looked like James Bond, and I got to wear a tiara without anyone rolling their eyes at me
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Dancing, laughing elegantly, so classy
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We did the thing!!

I also managed to fall down the stairs a few days later, so my triumphant return to hardcore training with Francis may be a little ginger and slow paced as I wait for all those bruises to heal (seriously, it’s an impressive number and color range).

Can’t wait to settle into life with the sweetest snoot and our officially official father figure!!

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Fresh haircut, who dis?

Playing Catchup on Life

Jeepers crow you guys, I feel like I haven’t had a chance to breathe lately!

Frankie is doing just fine, getting loved on by our resident Talented Junior Rider(TM) and getting a bit of a break from the intense training we’ve been in. I’ll be out this week to ride, but there’s lots going on in the non-horse world that’s keeping me busy!

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Frankie LOVES his TJR. She makes him work hard, but loves on him and takes him for walks. He’s one happy boy.

First off- as I already mentioned, last week I came home to a new apartment! All my stuff is unpacked but it’s definitely still in transition as my dude moves his stuff in as well over the next few weeks. We also won’t have a couch for roughly a month (worth waiting to get one for free IMO). So it’s a bit chaotic and a bit unorganized but it’s also fantastic. I’m a 3 minute drive (or a 10 minute walk if I ever stop being a lazy butt) from work, we have tons of closet space, and are close to friends and family. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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All I wanted was a porch. And we got a porch. I’m so happy.

 

Nick and I also drove up to the Buffalo area this past weekend for a family reunion! His mom’s side of the family gets together every year and this was my first intro to most of them before the wedding. There’s nothing quite like meeting 40+ of your future in-laws in one go. It was a serious blast- we picked cherries, we played tug-of-war with the cousins, basked in the pool, ate TONS of good food, and generally enjoyed the summertime with family.

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We went for lots of golf cart rides around the farm because it was SUPER BEAUTIFUL
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This dog’s name was Buster and he was literally the best at being a dog. The happiest, friendliest, chillest black lab on the planet.

We also snuck by Niagara Falls for literally 90 seconds on our way home so I could see them while we were up there.

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SMILE OK GREAT NOW RUN BACK TO THE CAR BECAUSE THE FREE PARKING WAS ONLY 20 MINUTES

Between Lake Placid and this trip, I really don’t want to have to drive to upstate New York again for a little while. No more road trips pls.

And then things are moving forward on the wedding-planning front! All the big vendors have been booked, so we’re kinda in a lull. The big decisions are made, and it’s not reeeeally time for the detailed decisions yet. But I’ve got my checklists and timelines and spreadsheets (duh) so I think we’re still in great shape.

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Fun fact- Minted liked our save the date cards so much, they asked to use our picture. They changed the info obvi, but cool to see us in advertisements!

After a really intense few months in the thick of show season, it feels good to switch gears back to my “civilian life” for a little bit for a change of pace. I’m eager to settle into a new routine in the new place, and find a balance between training and progressing with Frankie in our off season and being a functioning adult.

Moving On: June Edition (Volume 2)

Alternate title: #Blessed

Other alternate title: Dear Lord I Have an Lovely Fiance

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Lovely on all levels

Do y’all remember just about a year ago, when Roomie and I moved? It was a wildly hectic time full of travel and job changes and Upperville. As a refresher: we had a hard move-out date for our apartment. The weekend of Upperville. While I was competing with the Frankenbean, ex-Manfriend basically did all the heavy lifting of moving all my stuff out. And by basically I mean entirely.

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Literally while I was in this specific round, he was loading all my crap into a truck

I’ve been with Roomie and her ManDude in our townhouse for the last year and it’s been awesome. But it’s also time for some changes.

First off, Roomie and ManDude eloped! They were already engaged and planning their wedding, but didn’t want to wait to be married. So they straight up just got married. Ya girl here showed up to take pics and 3rd-wheel their elopement brunch because I love them so much.

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So stunning and sweet and intimate and wonderful and check those shoes

It also means that I went from living with my best friend and her boyfriend (fairly normal) to living with my best friend and her fiance (pushing it a bit) to living with my best friend and her husband (full on You Me and Dupree).

The other change is that ex-Manfriend and I are also getting married soon (duh). And after close to two years of living 2+ hours apart, he just got a job offer back here so we can get our first place together! It’s been a whole long hiring process for him, so we’re beyond thrilled to have things moving forward.

So with all these big changes, the stars are aligning and we managed to find a really great place with a really lovely landlord (seriously, he’s just a delight) that’s in a great location for a great price. Our official move in date is at the end of June!

What else is going on at the end of June?

You guessed it.

Lake Placid.

So for the second year in a row, my dearest betrothed is tasked with moving for me because of a horse show. I want to promise him that this won’t become a pattern, but apparently we only move during peak show season…sooooo…????

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Frankie ships up on Monday, I’ll spend Tuesday driving up, and I’ll be returning Sunday.

I guess I’ll return home…to a different home?

BRB frantically trying to pack everything I own in one weekend before leaving.

I may be a little behind on the blogging front as I try to juggle packing, a week long horse show, and then arranging a new apartment and adjusting to living with my giant ManCreature while also keeping up with a busy season at work. But I pinky promise to take tons of pics and share all my adventures in Lake Placid, and I’ll pick it back up as soon as possible!