Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013: My Favorite Moments

Happy New Year! It's hard to believe 2013 is over! As many people do with the start of a new year, here's a recap of some of my favorite moments of last year. It included four trips back to the East Coast, three trips in California, two weddings, two Bachelorette parties, turning 30, jumping out of a plane and becoming an "Auntie"... whoa, it was a busy one!

In February, my high school best girlfriends gathered in Atlanta to celebrate our bride-to-be Caroline for her Bachelorette weekend. Caroline is one of my oldest friends that I've known since we were babies. The weekend included lots of girl time, fun games, laugh-till-it-hurts conversations, a bridal shower lunch, a Greek dinner complete with dancing in circles around the restaurant, a wild night on the town -- and a NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta) sighting! 
Then in April, it was time for Caroline and Dan's wedding in our hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia! It was such a blast to be together with so many of my childhood friends and our families to celebrate the happy couple. It was a beautiful wedding and I am so incredibly happy for these two! 
In May, it was time to celebrate another bride-to-be, my friend Erin who I worked with at my first job here in San Diego. We headed up the Southern California coast to Santa Barbara for a wine tasting weekend! We stayed at an adorable B&B close to the water, went out on the town for dinner and drinks the first night, and spent Saturday touring the Santa Ynez valley for wine tastings (where the movie Sideways took place).
Then in late June, it was time to venture up to Northern California for the epic Yosemite wedding of Erin and Doug. They are both big outdoorsy people, and had done many hiking trips to Yosemite together. It was the perfect place for them to say "I Do." It was a magical wedding and I was so honored to be there. It was an incredible long weekend of celebrating with the happy couple, exploring Yosemite and spending time with some awesome friends.
For more about my summer travels around California, including a week in San Francisco, I wrote about them awhile back here

I had made a  "30 before 30" bucket list to be completed by my 30th birthday in October. As life often does, the year slipped by quickly and I didn't get to check off everything on my list. But I'm so happy that I checked off probably the biggest and scariest of the items, SKYDIVING! My Dad and brother Nick came out to visit the weekend before my birthday, and I talked my brother into taking the plunge, literally, with me. I'm so glad I had him there to calm my nerves and it's an experience I'll never forget. I will definitely be skydiving again! It was the craziest and most exhilarating five minutes of my life, and I loved every second!
On the night of my birthday, I met up with my friends at Stone Brewing's new restaurant for a fantastic dinner and beer. I'm so lucky to have met such an awesome group of friends in San Diego, they rock! Thanks for helping me ring in my thirties y'all!
Then on the morning after my 30th birthday, I flew across country to my beloved Carolinas to catch up with many of my dearest friends and their families. I went to college at Clemson University in South Carolina, and lived in Charlotte for two years post-graduate school. So I called the Carolinas home for 6 wonderful years. I got to see to some of my favorite people, some of whom I hadn't seen in several years! And I got to see lots of their babies and kids, some for the first time! In five days I was able to get to five cities across North and South Carolina and see eleven dear friends. It was a whirlwind to say the least. 

I was able to spend two nights in Charlotte with my dear college friend Amanda and her family. She has two hilarious three and five year-old boys who I love being an "aunt" to. I was able to go to their five-year-old's school fall festival and flag football game while I was there which were priceless! We were also able to squeeze in some quality girl time with another good friend from college, Leslie, who just so happened to have just moved into Amanda's neighborhood! I also got to visit another friend from college that I hadn't seen in many years. Kate had just had a baby boy a week prior, and has an adorable three-year-old girl. It was wonderful to visit with them and catch up with Kate! I was so happy to also get to see my sorority little sister, Mary, and catch up over a delicious southern breakfast. It was definitely nostalgic being back in Charlotte, a city I love!
Then it was onto South Carolina, where I made lots of stops to visit friends on my trek to Charleston. I drove through Spartanburg and Greenville, which aren't far from Clemson. I got to grab coffee with my sorority sister and college roommate Kelly, and it felt like no time had passed at all, even though it had been over two years! Then I had lunch with another sorority sister Heather and her fiancĂ©e Ryan. Heather and I always went to Olive Garden together for the soup and salad lunch, so it was only fitting that we met there! It was wonderful to see them and get all the details on the upcoming wedding.  From there I met up for some sweet tea with my friend Ashley also from college. I last saw her right before I moved to San Diego three and half years ago, and it was so great to see her and hear all about the awesome things she's doing as a pastor. We were part of the same campus ministry group and she played a huge role in my spiritual growth in college. I miss all of these girls (and college!) so much!
In Charleston, I stayed with my friend Virginia, who I've known for 25 years! We met on her 5th birthday in our hometown, and lived down the street from each other. She had recently got engaged, and shortly after I got to her place, as we were on the couch sipping wine and having girl talk, she gave me a lovely box. Inside was a candle with the sweetest words on it, asking if I'd be her Maid of Honor. I cried! We jumped in to high gear wedding planning for the rest of my visit, visiting the venue she'd chosen, went by the bridal shop to see her wedding gown, tried on a few bridesmaid dresses and played on Pinterest :) But we also had a great night on the town Saturday night and a low-key dinner Sunday night at a great Southern restaurant with all the staples - fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and shrimp and grits! And I also got coffee and caught up with another friend and sorority sister (and one of my first college friends and freshman dorm neighbor!), Heather, who lives in Charleston. 
Another friend I grew up with, Biz, lives in Charleston with her husband David, and I was beyond thrilled that she gave birth to their beautiful baby boy the morning I was driving into town! His due date was the Monday I was leaving, and I was praying he wouldn't come late. The timing couldn't have been more perfect! I was able to visit them in hospital the following day on Sunday and meet baby Buice (pronounced Bice) at a day old. Then on Monday as I was driving out of Charleston, I was able to stop at the hospital again and see them as they were discharged. It was so special to be there at such a momentous time in their lives and in mine - when I became an "auntie"!
From Charleston I drove up the coast and back into North Carolina to Wilmington. One of my friends from my time in Pittsburgh (where I did graduate school) by coincidence moved down South about the time I moved to Charlotte. Alissa and I lived in the same small apartment complex and became psuido-roommates, since we were both in separate one-bedrooms, cooking dinner together and watching the same bad TV like The Bachelor and The Hills. We stayed close over the years and I was honored to be a bridesmaid in her wedding over two years ago. Now her and her husband Darrin have a beautiful baby boy, and I was so excited to meet him! He'll be 1 next month! 
All of these visits made me feel so lucky to have so many wonderful and lasting friendships, and that they have stood the test of time and distance - even across the country. The trip was the perfect way to ring in my thirties!

Before I knew it, Christmas and the end of 2013 was here. I'm so glad that was able to make it home to Virginia to spend Christmas with my family, and friends that feel like family. Even though I call San Diego my home now, Virginia will always be home to me. My family spent Christmas last year in San Diego, and even though it was fun to be outside in gorgeous weather, it didn't quite feel like Christmas. I was so happy that I could make it home this year for the holidays, even though it was too short a time as always. We spend Christmas dinner with our family friends most years, and this year I got to meet my friend Betty's little boy Evan. I also got to spends lots of time with Biz and baby Buice, he's already gotten so big! And a group of high friends got together at a local bar, it was so much fun catching up with everyone! And we even fit a bridal shower in for Virginia at my parents' house. All in all it was my favorite Christmas to date! 
2013 was definitely a memorable year filled with a lot of exciting moments as I entered a new decade of my life. And I have a feeling 2014 will be even better :)

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