Visiting New York City

After my husband came home, we decided to go visit New York City.  Even though we live approximately 90 miles away, we rarely go.  Between, traffic, tolls, and parking it’s not the easiest place to get too.

So last week, we decided to take the train from Trenton.  It was an easy process, and we made it to Penn Station and into Manhatten.  We ended up staying on 57th street close to Central Park, Broad Way and Times Square. We had booked the hotel before I decided to stop running, so we had planned to run in Central Park.  One day we will (that isn’t the New York City Marathon!)

While in NYC, we didn’t do a heck of a lot.  Both my husband and I are relaxed and we like to take trips with not a lot of plans.  We figure it out as we go along.  For the most part, we walked around New York just looking at sights.  We did go see some of the big things like the Empire State Building and Times Square.  I’ve been before, but it’s always fun to see again! empire state building

We got close to the Empire State Building but opted not to go in.  empire state building

Times Square

One thing we both wanted to do is get a New York Bagel.  As someone who went to college in New York (way upstate at SUNY Potsdam), we got used to good NY bagels.  NJ just doesn’t compare.

My favorite is a Nova Lox.   It was a good bagel (not that I’m an expert) and I have no complaints. 

The one thing we did do was go see a Broadway.  We booked tickets to “Waitress” starring Sara Bareilles.  I like Sara Bareilles as a songwriter, and the Broadway was about a diner waitress…how could we go wrong?  It was excellent, and I highly recommend it if you’re ever up that way.

Before leaving, we also checked out Ellen’s Stardust Diner near Broadway.  The Diner is unique in that the servers are always performing.  You get a meal and a show.  You’ll see your server perform for the entire restaurant.

ellens stardust diner me

We had a great weekend away.  It’s funny, as I mentioned, New York is not a far commute for us, but we never go!  We will definitely go back sooner rather than later.

Questions for you:

Have you ever been to New York City?

Where was the last weekend trip you took? 

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Happy Mother’s Day

I will start by start by saying my mom has always been there for me but even just typing that doesn’t do it justice.  As many readers know, I’m extremely close with my mom.

Growing up in a military family, my mom took care of my brothers and I while my dad was deployed.

She moved 3 children under the age of 6 plus 2 dogs and 2 cats across the world when dad had to be at work.

As I went through middle school, my mom was there. Like most middle schoolers, I can’t say I was best behaved or pleasant to be around.  She took care of us.

She was there for me through my ups and downs of the teenage and high school years.  Like many teenagers, I never appreciated my mom as much as I should until I left for college.

high school prom

During college, I began missing my family and went through quite a bit of rough patches. I always knew I could call my mom and chat.  She helped when I switched majors, ended a relationship and quit swimming all within a month of each other.

Graduating college

Later, as I made my next big life step and moved in with my husband she helped plan and pack for that.  She helped plan and coordinate my wedding while we were several states away.

Mom and I

Now as a 26-year-old adult, I feel so lucky to be close with my mom.   Last week, she drove up from Virginia, and we hung out.

My mom has always been supportive of everything I can, and I could never ask for anyone better.

My mom has truly always there for me. Every year when I reflect upon everything she has done for me, it has made me more grateful.  She is supportive, and I could never imagine it any other way.

I am also grateful to have married into a wonderful family and be very close with my mother in law, Greta.  I could not be any more fortunate.

So Thank You, Moms.

Thank you to all of the moms out there!

Question for you: Tell me something about your mom. 

A Week with Family

For the last week, both my parents and my in-laws visited New Jersey.

Last weekend, my dad and in-laws came up for Broad Street.  Both my dad and father in law ran.  My mother in law and myself spectated.  We had a lot of fun.

Just posing with an Alpaca…NBD

We went to a couple of new diners (sadly neither were amazing) and just hung out.

My mom had other commitments last weekend but decided to drive up that Monday and keep me company for a few days.

I rarely post personal posts anymore, but we had a lot of fun spectating and exploring Philadelphia.  I guess since I’m not running, I need some sort of content right?  (Just kidding).

Even though I’ve lived in New Jersey 3.5 years now, I don’t spend as much time in Philadelphia as I would like.

One thing mom and I were excited to do, was tour the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Prisons have always interested me, and I watch a lot of crime and prison television.  Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia

Eastern State Penitentiary has a headphone guided tour which was fascinating. Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia

We got to see Al Capone’s cell, as well as a, learn a lot of history about the prison system.  It was one of my favorite museums to date, and I’m glad they chose to preserve it.  

It’s only half a mile from the Art Museum in Philadelphia if you are ever in the area.

Eastern State Penitentiary philadephia
We made it!

After getting lost and walking an extra mile, we ended up settling on lunch at the Marathon Grill.  I haven’t been there since I reviewed it a few years ago but it didn’t disapoint.  Their food is fresh.  I ordered the kale and quinoa salad and I have no complaints.

kale marathon grill salad

At lunch at Sabrina’s Cafe another day, I decided to try tofu again.  Tofu isn’t my favorite food, but every year I try it again to see if I’m missing out on something.  While the Tofu dish at Sabrina’s was prepared well, I can’t say I like tofu anymore.  Perhaps better luck next year.

tofu sabrinas cafe

The rest of the week was spent exploring South Jersey.  As many readers know, my mom sews various baby gifts and American Girl Doll Clothes and we found a local store that sells the vintage and retired dolls. I didn’t think it was possible to find somewhere with as many American Girl Dolls as she has at home… 

I am very close with my entire family so having both sets of parents up here and visiting was definitely a relaxing treat.  It has been nice to be away from running and just relaxing and enjoying life.

Questions for you:

Have you ever toured a prison?

Did you have an American Girl Doll? 

 

Two Years of Marriage

Two years ago was the best day of my life because my husband and I got married.  Everything went perfectly, and there is nothing we would have wanted differently.

As most people know, he is in the military and has been gone for almost exactly one of those years.  While his deployments aren’t long (about 2 months), they are frequent and so are his other trips.  I won’t say it’s been easy and there have been plenty of hard days. I will say we are still as happy as the day we met.

Today I knew today I wanted to post about our anniversary but had no idea what to post.  I finally settled on a “how we met post”.  I’m always interested to see how other people met their significant other so I thought I would share.

So How Did We Meet?

My husband and I met during college cross country season in 2011.  We met at a scrimmage race between our respected two universities.

Tim ended up winning the scrimmage race for men, and I won for females. After the scrimmage, we talked for a while and went on a run a few weeks later.   Cross country season went by, and we still chatted after the season.  During this time, I was coming back from my first serious running injury a tibial stress fracture.  Tim did multiple sports and was getting ready for ski season.  Since cross country was over, and he was no longer running competitively, running at a slower pace didn’t matter.  I was running easy after my injury and he was running easy just to run.

YAY an old school college picture.

Eventually, after several runs, we hung out outside of running. When the semester ended, we both went to our hometowns for winter break. Tim drove down to Virginia Beach and visited for New Years.

Later in the spring, we officially started “officially dating”.  I was blogging at the time, and I don’t think I even mentioned on the blog: OMG you guys, new boy in my life”.  It’s been a theme of the past 6 years, we’ve been happy but he isn’t a large part of the blog.

In May of 2012, we both graduated college and decided to try doing a long distance relationship.  Our options at that point were to try and do a distance relationship or break up.

Tim went to Air Force pilot school in Texas, and I began working in Oswego, NY.  During that time, we both learned a lot about ourselves, interests and hobbies.  We went just over 6 months without seeing each other.  It was one of the hardest times of our relationship but worth it.  The first time we saw each other again was that Thanksgiving, and it was as if nothing had changed.

My first visit to Texas

After Thanksgiving, we saw each other again for Christmas, then in March and in May. It was a lot easier than the first few months.  After nearly a year of distance, we made the decision I would move to Texas. As much as I enjoyed my job in Oswego, I wanted to continue my relationship with Tim and we had to eventually move (he did not have that choice with me).

In Texas, they have these for decoration…
Winning a growler at a half marathon in Texas

Tim graduated his pilot training, and we were told we would be moving to New Jersey. Neither of us knew anything about NJ (except people drive very quickly on the Turnpike) in October 2014.

We’ve now lived in New Jersey 3.5 years and I truly say I love it.  I’ve made incredible friends, I enjoy my job and there is always something to do.  We are only a few miles from Philadelphia and short drive from both of our parents, New York City and Baltimore.

On April 1, 2014, Tim proposed to me.  It was exactly what I wanted, low key and at our house.  We are low key, and I could not have asked for a better proposal.  To be honest, as much as we love running, proposing at a race or in front of hundreds of people is not either of our scene.

 

Engagement photo

Even though we lived in New Jersey, we made the decision to get married in my hometown area in Norfolk, Virginia.  We spent a year wedding planning and got married on April 12, 2015.  While planning a wedding further away was more difficult, it wasn’t as stressful because we both have such supportive and helpful parents.  We couldn’t have dreamed for a better day.

After our wedding, we took a few days to relax and went straight on our honeymoon.  We decided to spend a few days in Key West and go on a cruise in the Carribean.  It was a great vacation, and it was perfect.

Then a few days after we got home, he was deployed for a while.  For the first 6 months of our marriage, he was gone for just over 4.  Afterward, he was home for a bit more, but in the past 2 years, he has been gone for over a year.

Throughout the first two years of marriage, we have learned a lot about ourselves and each other.  Even though I grew up as a military child, being a spouse much different.  It’s not always easy, but the time we do have together makes it worth it.  I’m also thankful for my family and friends who help me get by.

As most people know, he is away now.  We might talk today, we might not.  It doesn’t mean I love my husband any less.  I could not ask for a better person in my life.

Flying together
Hiking Bear Mountain and when we actually saw a bear

Here are some other posts about my husband and I (or just my husband): 
Wedding Post
Honeymoon
Flying Together
Tim’s Recap of the Mercedes Marathon

Living Minimally

It’s hard to believe I’ve been back in New Jersey for 10 days.  It’s been an adjustment to life, weather and just getting back into my regular routine.

I didn’t have to stay 6 weeks in Montgomery.  I did have to go down, but I could have driven back solo while my husband finished his course.  I could have driven down, did what I needed and drove back to New Jersey (driving close to 4000 miles in 6 weeks). Instead, I chose to drive down once, stay there during the quiet weeks and drive home together.  That way, we could drive one car, stay together and it would be more enjoyable that way.

When we moved to Alabama, I packed everything I would need in two suitcases.  We weren’t sure the exact time frame, but you can live out of a suitcase for 2 months.

To be completely honest, I was nervous to go down there.  As I mentioned, I left my job for 6 weeks.  I didn’t know anyone in Alabama.  While I had things to do, it definitely was not as much as living back in New Jersey.

But I wanted a risk, new adventure, and challenge.  I told myself: if I had lived in the middle of nowhere, Texas, I could make it Alabama.  Thinking out loud and truth be told, despite the constant tornados, I liked Alabama.

Living in Alabama taught me a lot how to live minimally.  I learned I have far too much clutter here in New Jersey.

Essentially, I lived out of a suitcase in a two room hotel for 6 weeks.  In the hotel, we had a kitchenette but no oven.  It wasn’t bad, and we were able to eat healthy and make do without it.

So how did we go from too much stuff to a suitcase full? 

Lucky for my husband, he has two work uniforms.  Then he needed about 2 regular clothing outfits. Since he was running and training for his marathon, he brought more shoes than I did. Realistically, he could have probably lived out of a backpack…As an over packer myself, I could not.

Downgrade:

Do you really need 5 pairs of black leggings? Sure, the material might be slightly different or the pattern but is it necessary?  I brought exactly 10 outfits that could be paired differently.  Different tops and different pants.  I brought three pairs of leggings and did laundry every few days.  I grew to love that clothing enough that I won’t be wearing any of it for a few weeks now that I’m home.

When I got home, I had even forgotten I owned certain leggings.  At that point, I realized I had too much stuff.

We Learned New Simple and Basic Recipes:

We didn’t have an oven.  So we were forced to cook the majority of foods from a pan or the microwave.  For example, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is by roasting them.  Roasted beets are delicious!  Instead of forgoing beets at all, we decided to try something new and boil them.  It worked out just as well and honestly it’s something I’ll do back in NJ too.

So while living in a 2 room hotel for a while wasn’t ideal, it did teach me a lot.

When I got home, it took me about a week, but I downsized and donated a lot.  What were some questions I asked myself:

  • Race Tshirts: Does the shirt have meaning to me?  Did I PR? Do I like the shirt, if it wasn’t my favorite, it was donated.
  • When was the last time I wore an item?  If it wasn’t in the last full calendar year, it was donated.
  • Do I have multiple of the same thing?  Base layers are great, but do you need 4 pairs of nearly identical black leggings?  I couldn’t even remember all of the similar styles I had.
  • Running Shoes: As someone who works in running retail, I had over 20 pairs of shoes.  I’m actively running in 3 pairs right now! I kept one model of each brand, and donated 13 pairs.  It feels like a fresh hair cut.

I’m happy to be back and I don’t regret staying down in Alabama for the full six weeks.  I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me.

Questions for you:
How do you figure out what to keep or donate?
What are some tips you have to live with less clutter?

 

Enjoying the Holidays

This Christmas, my parents, came up from Virginia to visit.  Even though I’m 26, I’ve never actually spent a Christmas at my own home. We’ve either gone to my husband’s parent’s house or my parent’s home for the Holidays.  It was the first time we spent it at our house.

family shot

I enjoyed seeing my family, and we had a lot of fun.  As most people know, my father was in the military, so we moved around quite a bit.  We never adopted a lot of traditions for Christmas.  We open gifts, have a turkey and spend most of the day relaxing or driving around looking at Christmas lights.  That is exactly what we did this year as well.

Christmas dinner

christmas turkey

My husband and I went out for a morning workout while the rest of the house was sleeping. After getting ready for the day, we opened a few gifts for each other. Of course who doesn’t like to give and receive gifts but seeing family was even better.

Dad

A tradition my husband and I do have, is cleaning up during the holidays and donate things we haven’t used in a full calendar year.  We were able to donate 5 bags of appliances (goodbye George Fireman grill), running shoes, random trinkets and everything in between.  Moving around so much (this is the first year we haven’t moved in 12 months), we don’t like to accumulate things.

tim-and-i-1

Believe it or not, this year I did not get any new running gear! I did not need any new running gear either.  My inlaws sent this beautiful Kate Spade purse I’ve been wanting (to match my Penguin wallet and sweater…and life).  I also got a few new pairs of pants to update the wardrobe.  It was a perfect Christmas.

 Kate Spade Penguin Wallet

We also went to view Christmas lights at the Shady Brook Farm in Yardley, PA.  If you’re local it’s a great place. You get to drive through and look at the festive Holiday lights and it’s an incredible layout. Yardley Christmas Lights

My photos don’t do it justice, but I would highly recommend going.

Yardley Christmas Lights

Questions for you:

How were your Holidays?

Do you typically travel or stay home?

Life as a Military Spouse

While this is (mostly) a running blog, it’s also a personal blog too.  After a long conversation with a friend, I realized where

I find myself constantly going back and forth of being: 

A “proud military spouse.”

To finding my own identity…

To being frustrated with the military because everything changes so rapidly…. 

I’ll always be proud of what my husband does, whether he is in the military or not.

Finding my own identity is a post by itself.  In conversation, I don’t care to talk about myself a lot (ironic since I’ve been blogging for five years), but I find myself questioning my identity.

Am I Hollie, military spouse?  Hollie the runner? Hollie the volunteer? Hollie the blogger?  To be honest, I don’t have an answer to that, and I find myself lost in my own identity.

And of course, the last frustration component makes up most of this blog. 

You know what?

Life has been hard.

Not in a whiny sense but in a talk real sense.  My husband and I are preparing for another deployment soon.  By “preparing”, I mean the Air Force needed him for another last minute trip, and he is currently away doing something else.  The trip was only supposed to last four days but four days turned to 5…6…7…and we are still counting upwards.

In the next 16 days, there is a lot to do before the deployment.  None of these things, he (or I) can do while he is away doing something else.  Sure there are goodbyes, but there is a lot of paperwork and misc tasks that have to be done beforehand.

These tasks are done on top of working a normal job.  What most people don’t realize is that also with the military, you don’t just “fly some” and come home.  When you’re not flying you’re back doing things on base too.  So it isn’t like a vacation when he is back. Not that he has been back to do that.

Essentially neither of us work regular hours.  Today (Friday) was our only day off together for the next 16 days, but that didn’t pan out. With my job, I must request days off a month in advance.  Working in retail that is what happens.  You can’t call in sick because if you do, the store can’t function. It ultimately strains the store.

I love my job but to give you an idea of how August played out, I asked for four days off to spend with my husband.  All four of those days he had emergency missions.  All four of those days off were wasted for me.  If I hadn’t requested off, I’m sure he would have had off.

With the military, your plans are always changing.  Your needs can often come behind the needs of the AF and the county.  I love my husband, and we are in a happy marriage but this month has tested both my stress and anxiety.  I would by lying if I said I hadn’t cried when several plans were canceled. Is it the end of the world?  No, but it’s frustrating.

I’m not a perfect wife, military spouse or person.  I do know that if he could, my husband wouldn’t cancel plans.  

So where does this leave me now? 
The same place I started.  Unfortunately, my plans are often dependent on what the needs of the military.  I’ll keep trucking on and we will make the best of the situation as we normally do.