April/May Fun Brings on the Rain

I love this time of year. It’s when classes end and I get a break! Don’t get me wrong, I love my students, and the overwhelming amount of enjoyable interactions far outweigh the tiny few negative ones. There are just those that get to you deep down, and thank god classes are done for a bit for me!

I still work full time in the summer, and though it’s a break from teaching, it’s not a break at all. We’ve hired 2 new staff members, 1 of which I will be supervising full time. So we have to onboard and create brand new policies and procedures for these new positions, so it’ll take a lot of time for those conversations and planning to happen. I also have to still do outreach and programming for campus, so in reality, it never really ends.

But that’s ok because I love what I do. And I can’t complain about that.

This has been a pretty eventful semester (not that most semesters haven’t been) but the biggest news is that I will be attending the USF Doctorate of Public Health (DrPH) program starting this fall. It was a big decision and it was one I had wrestled with for a while. I always knew I wanted to continue my education but was so burned out after my Master’s program that I put any ideas of attending school out of my head for a long time. I’ve never been interested in getting a PhD because I don’t want to do research nor have a job that is tied to my amount of research.

What’s great about a DrPH is that 1) I can continue to work full time (which in most PhD programs you have to quit or go part-time) because the point is to apply what I’m learning in real time; 2) it’s like the other side of the PhD. They do the research and we apply that research in real life and make sure it’s being implemented and evaluated and being advocated for in leadership positions; 3) I get to further my career with an advanced degree that fits perfectly with what I want to be doing.

Another bonus is that my job will pay for it, so the cost for me will be completely minimal. Who could turn that down??

Oh man, I’m freaking out a little bit though because life around here is going to change big time. I remember how studious and non-procrastinating I was in graduate school and that was the main thing that kept me from losing my mind. But I only had 2 part time jobs at the time and very minimal responsibilities. It’s completely different now with a house, dog, husband, and full time job. So word to the wise people: if you haven’t visited us yet, do it this summer before the offer expires in September and I lose all ability to properly host someone.

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April

Other than my upcoming academic career, life around here has been excellent. We had our porch rescreened in April and have really enjoyed being able to use both the upstairs and downstairs porch without fear of being eaten alive by mosquitoes (even though, let’s face it, it will happen to me a million times this summer, without fail). My parents gave us their old hammock, and we’ve put it downstairs and it’s a dream. Privacy, fountain sounds, crickets chirping at night…well, if I haven’t made it clear in the past, WE LIVE IN A VACATION.

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We also had Timmy’s mom and stepfather visit us for the first time in our new house and we showed them a good time the only way we know how: by drinking, eating well, and going to the beach! It was their 5th wedding anniversary and so we treated them to dinner and dessert at Bern’s steak house, which is a historic institution in South Tampa. They hadn’t been properly warned by Timmy of the kind of experience it would be nor how long it would take (3 hours on average, which goes to say, this is not your average, run of the mill dining experience). We laughed so hard that night, it was really a delightful evening. We finished the weekend with absolutely perfect weather, bocce ball on the sand, and lots more laughs and time by the water.

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May

May is a big birthday month around here, what with 2 of my nieces, my sister in law, my father, 7 friends, and myself all enjoying another trip around the sun. It’s been a little lonelier celebrating birthdays here than it was in Atlanta, but this year, that didn’t stop me. Timmy had to work a conference in Orlando the weekend of my birthday, so what’s the next best thing to going to Disney with him?

GOING TO DISNEY BY MYSELF. And it was awesome.

I couldn’t decide at first if a solo Disney trip was the most incredibly confident thing I’ve ever done or the most sad and depressing. I mean, 35 is a big milestone, and yes I still get super amped about birthdays, even now. How could I not? So many people we know passed away and can’t have any more life celebrations. I feel it’s my duty to be as thankful and celebratory as I possibly can simply because they no longer can.

My first stop was to get the ever-so-popular birthday button in Epcot, which was way less exciting than I thought it would be. I asked one person and they said to go to the blue kiosk which had no one manning it. I had to stop another employee and ask if I could get a button from the kiosk and he just kinda tossed me one. I then had to ask for a marker, and he had to find someone else to get me one. Very anti-climactic.

But dagnabnit, I rocked that thing out pretty much all weekend.

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I ended the day with a drink with my former NYU-er Kelly who works at Disney and then headed back to the hotel. Later that night, Timmy’s boss treated us to an amazing meal at Norman’s in the Ritz Carlton, which was just amazing. Great food, the bartending staff kept giving us free alcohol (which also included mezcal which I DO NOT RECOMMEND)…such a good night.

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The next day, Timmy still had to work so I went back to Disney with our friend Jessie and her son Aidan, who live in Sarasota. We had such a fun time in Hollywood Studios. Honestly, WHOEVER DOESN’T HAVE FUN AT DISNEY DOESN’T HAVE A SOUL. We finished out the weekend at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure because we are theme-park-going whores.

The following weekend my father turned 70 so you’d better believe we got our asses back to Atlanta (or rather Athens) to surprise him on such a momentous occasion. Thursday night, Timmy got us a room at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta and while I’d been there for DragonCon, I’d never stayed. He got us upgraded to a suite on the 46th floor and the views, well, they were just incredible.

We held the party that Friday night at my sister and brother-in-law’s new house in Athens (which is STUNNING btw), and since my father didn’t know that Timmy and I were in town at all for his birthday, it was a 2-for-1 surprise! My sister got the catering, I got the decorations, and we lay in wait for him. Perfect weather, family, and good food…another awesome night in the books.

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This past weekend, my sister did her annual mother-daughter trip to come visit us, this time with Anna! We planned to go to Universal again, and despite the non-stop rain all weekend, we did actually get beach/pool/sun time in on Friday. The rains came but that didn’t stop us from hitting most of the rides at both Universal parks (which was new not only for Anna but most of it for Carla too) and then did some outlet shopping. I was impressed by how much we got in, and especially considering that the rain isn’t going to stop until sometime next week, I’m super glad we did what we could before Timmy and I basically become shut-ins.

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So now it’s Memorial Day weekend, and we don’t have anyone visiting (thankfully because hello rain) nor anything planned. It’s been a pretty active two months, so maybe we should actually just rest for once.

Probably not though if we’re being honest.

Enjoy your weekend and thank you to all who have served this country of ours.

♥, VB

 

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Birthday Wishes for My Birthday Boy

Timmy, for you on your birthday day, I wish:

  • that 32 feels more amazing than 31, 30, and 29 did.
  • that you accomplish your heart’s desires.
  • that you always feel as loved as you make me feel, every day of this year, and every year afterwards.
  • that you see Floyd do something cute and laugh.
  • that you remember something I did to make you laugh and smile.
  • that you remind yourself that our separation is temporary.
  • that you feel the love of all your friends and family, even though they’re not near.
  • that we continue to make each other laugh at all the ridiculous ideas we’re coming up with for our wedding.
  • that you truly feel content in the path that you’ve chosen.
  • that you feel supported by me to stay on this path or on any other path you want to travel.
  • that we travel to more new and exciting places this year and continue to create magical memories together.
  • that you know, without a doubt, that this day, the day of your birth, is one of the few days that I’m the most thankful for.

I love you, truly and deeply. Happy birthday partner.

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♥, VB

No Voice, Something to Say

So remember all that talk about me being sick? That was quite a doozy of a week that I never got a chance to fill you in on.

I completely lost my voice for over a week. Like, not even a squeak. Have you ever completely lost your voice? I remember it happening maybe in 4th or 5th grade, but not for over a week. It was torture.

Two weeks ago, I spent most of my time at home pouring prescription eyedrops in my eyes to rid myself of the pinkeye and trying to catch up on any sleep I could. I celebrated my 31st birthday at home, alone, taking online classes through the weekend for my Michigan program, missing the incredible weather and waking up at 7 AM Saturday and Sunday (which we all know is not an easy thing for me).

That sucked. I knew it was coming, and it really helped that I had no voice because it made me feel less bad that Timmy wasn’t over to keep me company. I mean, that would’ve been anti-fun for him, sitting around ALL DAY, watching me take online classes, then not even be able to have a conversation with me. But it still sucked.

So this past weekend, after a few staff and Division retreats that left me even more wiped out, I made Timmy promise that we would have an amazing time in St. Pete to belatedly celebrate my birthday. And it was a fantastic weekend.

I love when people ask me about my group of friends down here. I usually respond, “What group of friends?” Not to sound self-pitying in any way, but we all know what it’s like to move somewhere and start over. It’s not that I don’t have work friends, it’s just that it’s always awkward to try to make friends from scratch as an adult. It’s like the most uncomfortable kind of dating situation you’ve ever been in. And because we lived so far away last year, I missed a really crucial time to get to know people outside of work.

But this time, I bit the bullet and asked a few people that I know for a fact are cool enough to handle a local brewery on a Friday night to come meet us out to celebrate. And we had the greatest time, listening to a 3-piece jam band that may or may not have been a Mormon family (we couldn’t tell), playing cornhole and giant-sized Connect 4, and drinking the night away. I have no pictures, that’s how fun the night was. I can now say, finally, that I have friends in St. Pete. 🙂

Saturday, of course, I woke up with a ginormous pinched nerve in my neck, so going to the beach to hangout with said group of friends was out of the question. But we ended up going to one of the last Saturday Morning Farmer’s Markets with Floyd and touring my campus and the waterfront. Later that night, we went to Taste of Pinellas (if you know me, you know I’m into food and festivals, and MAN, how I’ve missed those two together) and listened to K.C. & The Sunshine Band and The Blues Brothers w/Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi. It was one of the most fun nights we’ve had in a long while.

Am I dating myself if I admit that I’ve now seen K.C. & His Sunshine People 3 times now?

♥, VB

Top 10 Things to Be Thankful for This Year

This Thanksgiving we’ll be driving everywhere, so forgive me in advance for not posting this weekend at all. Lakeland to Valdosta — Valdosta to Athens — Athens to Stone Mountain — Stone Mountain to White, GA to Atlanta — Atlanta back to Lakeland — Lose Mind.

So for this Thanksgiving, since this is the year of turning 30 and wishing big and being grateful for blessings, here’s my top 10 list of things to be thankful for this year:

10. I didn’t die this past year!

9. I make enough money to live comfortably.

8. I have opportunities after opportunities after opportunities here that I’ve waited forever to fall in my lap.

7. I am healthy. Chronic back pain aside, I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time.

6. The friends I have are the most amazing people I will ever hope to know in my lifetime. They continue to amaze me and challenge me in ways that I don’t even see coming.

5. My nieces. They are the most beautiful, bubbly, surprising little people, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings as they continue to learn and explore this world.

4. Floyd. Floyd is seriously the bomb. He makes me laugh, he melts my heart, and I care more deeply for this dog than I ever thought feelings could go.

3. My family. They are incredible people who keep getting more incredible as the years go by. Thank you for supporting me and my choices because your support means the world to me.

2. Timmy. Oh Timmy. What can I say about you that hasn’t already been said before? Are you a major pain in my ass sometimes? Absolutely. Does your obsession with Auburn baffle me? You betcha. Can I guarantee that I’m in it to win it with you? 100%. I love you. You have taught me how to become a better person through challenging me and never keeping it boring. I’m so thankful for you, even on the days I want to strangle with you, I’m thankful that you’re my partner.

1. My faith that things happen if you believe they will happen. If you trust yourself and you control the things you can control, amazing things will happen to you. If your faith is in a higher power, believe. But also have faith in yourself, that you can get to where you want to go, that you will get what you want in life because you believe that you deserve it. I’m thankful that I believe I’m worth it.

Be thankful for something and everything this year. Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

♥, VB

30 Times Over A Success

This is the big post you’ve all been waiting for. (Right? I can only hope you’ve been waiting for my blog posts since I’m so amazing at keeping y’all entertained…right?) This is the post that wraps up our crazy awesome birthday party/fundraiser, “30 Years, 1 Wish”.

I took the password protection off of the page, so now you can visit and re-visit all the amazing details, like the hotel we scored an amazing deal for guests that many of y’all didn’t take advantage of, although you should’ve cause it was incredible. Or the Über deal for new users that gave guests a sick deal on luxury car service to and from the brewery so you could drink as much as you wanted that night and not worry about getting home (or to another bar). Or the UNBELIEVABLE raffle items that were all donated to this event, totaling over $3400 worth of prizes to lucky winners who purchased raffle tickets at the party. Go on over to the page, and take a look. I can wait.

The party was unreal, y’all, we seriously can’t believe how successful the entire night was. Although we only got to spend, on average, around 3 minutes catching up per guest, it was such a whirlwind of fun and incredible memories that we will never ever forget that night. Our friends, family, and loved ones showed up in DROVES (around 200 of y’all!!) to support our causes and support us. It meant more to us than words will ever be able to express to see such steadfast, loyal friends who flew and drove to Atlanta just for our event. Who paid babysitters, and dressed up, and made a night of it just to support this idea. Honestly, even if y’all just needed a night out to drink beer, we’re so thankful you chose to come to our event to do just that!

We did miss some people who had RSVP-ed that they were indeed coming and didn’t show; we never got any explanation where those people ended up, if they were even in Atlanta at all. To them we say: thank you if you donated online, it really means a lot even if you weren’t able to show up. Things pop up, that’s understandable, and we’re just thankful you wanted to support our fundraising efforts.

WARNING → RANT FOLLOWING: To the rest that were no shows, no donators: um, what happened to you? I think some of y’all needed to be there to receive the message we spoke about during our speeches: “It isn’t all about you.” Other things are important, not just your important stuff, and we all need to remember to put life in perspective. People are hurting out there, people are dealing with greater misfortune than any of us will ever know. They deserve and need help from those who have more.

If anyone needed to hear that message, it’s the people who blew us off, didn’t respond to emails or phone calls or texts, who thought that even though the mailed invitation was a beautiful invitation that obviously showed that this was a legitimate event, who cares because you have more important things to do than RSVP or even show up, like focus on your life and your life only. And donate? Who has time to donate $25? You clearly had more important things to use that money for, so go ahead boo, and do you.

But I’m not bitter or anything.

RANT OVER. For those that did show up and/or donate, holy shit, you guys rocked. You bought tons and tons of raffle tickets, you donated so much money to the event, in person and online, and heard the message we wanted everyone to leave with. We got tons of messages after the event from people who felt what we had to say deep within, and it spurred them to start doing for others and reaching out to help where help is needed. We reconnected old friends with Jake, many of whom hadn’t seen him in years, and the entire Lyons family had a blast. It was an emotional night for sure, but emotionally positive and uplifting I hope.

Now, for the part of this post you’ve been waiting for: how much did “30 Years, 1 Wish” raise?  Our goal was to raise at least $3000, so that each organization received $1000 each (each organization being: the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence (in Atlanta), the American Indian College Fund, and the Colon Cancer Alliance). We would like to give thanks to the Women’s Resource Center for acting as the fiscal agent so that all guests were able to receive tax-deductible donation benefits and also for distributing the funds to the other two organizations.

Well folks, here it is. In the end, we raised… Continue reading