Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 14 Moments of 2014

2014 has been a great year for Joe and me!  Last year, I posted about the top 13 moments of 2013, so I wanted to do the same thing this year.  It was a lot of fun to look back on the year and see all of the great things that we did this year.  

So, here you are!  A countdown of my top 14 moments of 2014!  

14. Paramore/Fall Out Boy Concert
When I heard back in January that Fall Out Boy and Paramore were touring together, I couldn't WAIT for the show!  I've been SO in to both of these bands since high school, so them touring together was a high-school-dream-come-true.  The concert was in July, and I had a blast rocking out to both bands.  Great show!

13. Running new-to-me races series
The Daytona Beach Half, Disney's Wine and Dine Half, and the Space Coast Half were all new-to-me races that I really enjoyed!  They were all great courses and very fun overall experiences.  My pregnancy will keep me from running this year's Daytona Beach Half, but I'm hoping to run Wine and Dine and Space Coast Half again in 2015.

12. Helping with the youth group at church

I started helping with the youth group at church this year, and it has been one of my favorite things this year!  I've enjoyed getting to know the students, leading a small group, and being there each Sunday night for their whole-group meeting.  It's something I'm looking forward to continuing in 2015!

11.  All of our visitors throughout the year
Joe's mom and siblings visited, Farrah came down and spent a few days,
I met Krista in Orlando on my birthday,
we saw Andrew and Jacqui in Orlando, and my mom came to visit.
I'm so happy that people we love want to come see us!  We love having visitors, and I hope we'll have more in 2015!

10. Skydiving in Seattle!
My whole visit to Seattle in August was great, but one of the things I will always remember is skydiving with Kristie and her husband Joe.  It was an incredible experience to share with my best friend.  Little did I know, I also shared it with Baby Fish (again, not recommending sky diving while pregnant-you shouldn't!!  I just didn't know I was pregnant at the time)

9. July 4th in Maine!
Joe's classmate Adam and his family hosted us for 4th of July at their home on a lake in Maine.  Neither Joe nor I had been to Maine before, so it was really nice to spend July 4th in a new-to-us part of the USA!  We had fun boating, seeing fireworks, and playing games with friends and family.  Fun times!

8. My first race-cation to Chicago
At the beginning of August, Joe and I headed to Chicago for my first race-cation!  I ran the ZOOMA Chicago Half Marathon on top of getting able to enjoy the city for a few days.  We had a great time, and while I had a bit of a tough race, the beautiful course with great views of Chicago made it a lot of fun.  Plus, it was Baby Fish's first half marathon!

7. PRing at the half marathon distance
This was completely unexpected, but when I ran the Lake Minneola Half Marathon in April, I PRed by about 4 minutes!  I felt undertrained, but by using the run/walk intervals, I was able to control my pace and run the best half marathon race I've ever run!

6. Celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary
Joe and I had a low-key celebration of our second wedding anniversary.  We ate at Vince Carter's Steakhouse, went to the beach for a little bit, and just enjoyed spending time together at home.  I think this will be a highlight of my year each year :)

5. Our trip to Washington, DC with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law
Joe's mom wanted to go up to DC and see the cherry blossoms for her 60th birthday.  While we didn't get to see the cherry blossoms due to the cold winter, we did see lots of sites in DC, toured the White House, and got to spend lots of time with each other and see my family.  It was a great way to spend Spring Break!

4. Eric and Sara's Wedding
The Clark family gained a new family member when my brother Eric married his childhood sweetheart Sara.  It was a beautiful day filled with tons of people that I love--both family and friends from my childhood!  I was honored to be a part of it, and we had a lot of fun celebrating their marriage.

3. Welcoming a new member to the family
We got Tequila at the very end of March this year, and she has brought us so much joy throughout the year.  She is such a sweet puppy with so much energy.  We love her--getting her is definitely a big highlight of 2014!

2. Our trip to Dubai
Even though this just happened, it was definitely the second best thing to happen to us this year!  It was exciting to travel to a part of the world I've never been before and explore all of the incredible things in the UAE!  I'll be doing full recaps of our trip very soon, but needless to say, it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip.  What a great way to end 2014!

1. Finding out that we are expecting!
While quite unexpected, Joe and I found out that I am pregnant in late August.  As the arrival of Baby Fish gets closer and closer, we are getting more and more excited!  My pregnancy and all that's come with it has been a new and enjoyable way to finish up 2014 and was definitely the best thing to happen to us!

What a great year!  I'm so thankful for all of the opportunities we had in 2014--quite a lot of exciting travel, races, and fun activities.  I'm also thankful to YOU, my readers, who have allowed me to share all of it with you!  I appreciate you reading and your comments, as that's why I created this little corner of the Internet.

As great as this year was, 2015 is sure to bring a lot of new and exciting experiences with Joe graduating from chiropractic school and the arrival of Baby Fish!

I want to wish you a very Happy New Year!  See you next year ;)

Question for you: What is a highlight of 2014 for you?

Year-End 2014 Goals Check-in

Back in January, I set a total of 6 goals for 2014.  I discussed my progress toward meeting them throughout the year (one-quarter, halfway, and three-quarters of the way through the year), but let's take a look at whether each goal was met or not overall in 2014.
Deepen my Faith
This is a tough one to say whether it was met or not.  While I did make steps to deepen my faith throughout the year, I feel like there's always progress I could be making.  Two things that I think really helped to deepen my faith this year: completing Beth Moore's Children of the Day Bible study
and volunteering with the youth group.  One of the things I learned through the Bible study was that doing what God has called you to do won't be exhausting to you, that the Spirit will energize you.  Well, helping with the youth group is a place I feel I've been called to be.  I always look forward to it, and it's never anything that tires me out.  Two good steps in deepening my faith, but there is always room to grow!

Run 14 in 2014
After completing a virtual 5K on Sunday with my sister-in-law, this goal is MET!
I can't believe I ran this many races in one year!
I should have met this goal long ago, after signing up for and missing about 4 races throughout the year.  But, I will say that I enjoyed all of the races that I did actually run.  I recapped my year in running already, but for full recaps on most of the races, check out my Races page!

Reduce the Clutter
This year, I went through phases of reducing clutter and then creating clutter.  So, I wouldn't say this goal was met, but I at least attempted to make progress on this one!

Make a t-shirt quilt
While I made steps toward meeting this goal, all I did was get the t-shirts picked out for the quilt.  I hope to actually meet this goal in 2015!

Attend a Conference (or two or three)
I did meet this goal back in January by going to the FLBlogCon FORUM.  I had other conferences I wanted to go to, but those didn't happen.

Do Something Adventurous
This goal was definitely met when I went skydiving in August!
I also feel pretty adventurous in traveling to Dubai using a Groupon (will recap that trip sometime soon).
So, definitely met this goal this year!

The good news is I at least made progress toward all of my goals this year.  Fully meeting 3 of the 6 goals is pretty good in my book, too!  I do plan to set goals for 2015, and I plan on sharing those very soon.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe time celebrating New Year's Eve!  I'll see you in 2015 :)

Question for you: Did you meet your goals for 2014?  What were they?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 27 Weeks + Baby's First Christmas Gifts

Hey, hey!  How's your Tuesday going so far?  Joe and I finally made it home after traveling to Dubai and all of our Christmas travels!  Even though I had a great time everywhere we went, I'm thankful to be home and be able to relax for this next week.  Tequila seems to be happy, too, as she was cuddling with a wine bottle on the way back.
That just cracked me up!  Don't worry, it wasn't open.  It had just fallen out of where Joe stored it after buying it at the winery.

Ok, time to talk pregnancy!
Pregnancy Update: 27 Weeks

How far along? 27 weeks (and two days)

Baby Bump progress: taken in front of Joe's grandparents' house by my sister-in-law.  Thanks, Katherine!

Baby's Size? the size of a rudabaga! about 13-15 inches long and weighs between 1.5-2.5 pounds

What's happening this week?  
  • Baby can taste different foods!  It has more taste buds now than it will at birth
  • Still "breathing" amniotic fluid

Total weight gain/loss: not sure of the official number at this point, but as of my last appointment, 13.5 pounds since the beginning of the pregnancy

Stretch marks? no new ones, thankfully!

Sleep: Back to sleeping pretty well!  The only things I've noticed this week is having a harder time getting comfortable.

Best moment this week: celebrating Christmas with Joe and his family!
Next year, Christmas will be very different with Baby Fish around!

Miss anything?: traveling comfortably by car, not peeing all the time, drinking coffee regularly

Movement: Baby Fish is still moving around quite a bit!  He/she has been getting me in the ribs a few more times this week, which is not comfortable!  I hope it stops, but I know it'll only happen more and he/she will only get stronger!

Food cravings: I actually haven't had any cravings this week!  I've eaten lots of vegetables at our Christmas meals, but other than not, no particular cravings.

Anything making you queasy or sick: I got a little sensitive to a bad smell recently, and eating poorly gave me some acid reflux.  Otherwise, things are good!

Gender: We'll find out when Baby Fish is born :)

Labor Signs: none (thankfully!)

  • swollen feet/ankles after riding in the car (not as bad as when we were flying, though!)
  • frequent bathroom trips
  • getting very impatient rather quickly
  • acid reflux
  • growing belly (seriously, I feel like it happens constantly!)
  • some back pain, particularly when not sitting somewhere with a back
Belly Button in or out? in, but definitely not as deep as it was

Wedding rings on or off? on!

Happy or Moody? This week was a pretty happy week!  I can't really think of any mood swing moments, so that's always a plus!

Funny moments this week: Joe may hate me for telling this story, but it was DEFINITELY the funniest/most embarrassing/awkward moment of the week.  After Christmas Eve service, we were standing around talking to a family that Joe has known for a long time.  One of the boy's wife was there, and she was wearing a kind-of tight dress.  You could see her belly button pretty clearly through it, and she had a little bit of a stomach pooch (not being mean or judgy...just setting up the story...).
At one point during the conversation, Joe turned to her and asked her if she was expecting.  She said no!  He diverted the awkwardness very well by talking about my pregnancy, but MAN, when he asked her that, I was saying "NO NO NO NO" in my head.  So yeah....Joe quickly learned the lesson that you NEVER ask a girl if she's pregnant, even if she looks like she may be.  

Looking forward to: relaxing this week after all of the traveling, getting back in to a regular schedule, and going back to Babies R Us to register for some more things!

Exercise this week: I haven't been the greatest with exercise this week, but let's see what workouts I got in.
Tuesday-morning BodyPUMP class (so nice to get it done early in the day!)
Wednesday-2.11 mile run + 0.64 mile walk with Tequila
Thursday-short walk with Joe around the horse farm
Friday-rest day
Saturday-rest day
Sunday-3.53 mile walk with Katherine and the dogs
Better than nothing!  I'm very much looking forward to being back home and getting back in to a schedule.  We've been going, going, going for about two weeks now!

Baby Fish Feature: Baby's First Christmas Gifts!
As I anticipated, some of our Christmas gifts were for Baby Fish!  I was really excited to open up some cute little outfits and things to help me out when Baby Fish is born.

First, Katherine (my sister-in-law) got us two outfits and a book called Baby Wise.  Joe's cousin swears by this book and said that it helped her get her 2-month old to sleep through the night.  As always, I will read it and decide what works best for my baby, but I'm looking forward to getting some advice on how to do that!
Next, Joe's cousins got us a cute little outfit and a swaddle blanket.  I can't wait to put Baby Fish in both of these things--the swaddle blanket is SO, so soft, and I just thing this outfit is adorable!
I can tell that Baby Fish is loved already :)  I look forward to next year when he/she is with us for Christmas!

Question for you: 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Hi everyone!  I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones, celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We had an almost-week-long celebration, so let's take a look at what all we did!

On Christmas Eve, I started the day with a run!
It didn't go as well as I wanted it to, but a bad run is better than no run!  After that, we drove to Gainesville to spend Christmas with Joe's family.

When we arrived, we quickly got ready and went to the Christmas Eve service at 4pm.  We ate dinner together (nothing says Christmas Eve like Mexican food, right?), then headed over to Joe's friends house for their annual gathering.

We had a leisurely Christmas morning, waking up around 9am.  We opened presents with Joe's siblings, then headed out to the horse farm for Christmas lunch with Joe's mom's side of the family.

We ate lunch and visited for a while with everyone over there.  To work off our meal, Joe and I decided to walk around the property for a little while in the afternoon.  Things are always interesting

Around 6pm, we drove up to Georgia for Christmas with Joe's dad's side of the family.  We visited for a little bit before going to bed relatively early.

We had another very leisurely day with Joe's grandparents.  We were the first to arrive, so we all ate lunch together than watched football and read waiting for everyone else to get there.
More family members arrived around 6 or 7, so we ate dinner together and caught up for a few hours.  It was great to get to see everyone (and play with Joe's cousin's son Will)
We had the big Christmas celebration on Saturday!  It began with gift opening, where two people pass out the presents and everyone opens things all at once.  It gets kind of crazy!
Will had a blast playing in all the wrapping paper afterward.  It was lots of fun watching him.
Next up was a large lunch!
There was plenty of great food, and the company was great too.  After such a big meal, we watched football (Hokies win!!) and let our food settle.

The last part of the Christmas celebration was their tradition of going to the movies in the evening.  We all went to see Unbroken, which was an incredible story about an Olympic runner who served in World War II and was captured by the Japanese.

We all went to church together on Sunday morning, which was a really nice way to end the weekend.
Afterward, we went to have lunch together at a local buffet before we parted ways.

Joe, his siblings, and I drove back to Gainesville to spend time with his mom.  Before it got dark, Katherine (my sister-in-law) and I went on a 3.5 mile walk with the dogs.  It was great to get out and get some exercise while seeing some great Christmas lights!
In the evening, we all played Apples to Apples, which was a lot of fun (particularly because I wound up winning!).

Overall, we had a very nice Christmas!
As much as I enjoyed seeing everyone, I'm looking forward to getting home and getting back in to a regular schedule.  Traveling can really take a lot out of you!

Question for you: How was your Christmas?  Do you travel for Christmas or stay home to celebrate?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WIAW #46: Food in Dubai

Good morning, and Merry Christmas Eve to those out there that celebrate!  Joe and I are getting ready for our Christmas celebrations with his family, but before I head out, I thought I'd drop by for one of my favorite blogland traditions!
Brought to you by Peas and Crayons
Today's What I Ate Wednesday post features some of the food I ate while in Dubai!  I tried to remember to take pictures of every meal, but that didn't happen.  Luckily, I did get a good sample of things that we ate (particularly my favorite things)!

As always, thanks to Jenn for the link-up!  Head over to hear blog to find out more about WIAW and see what other bloggers are eating!

Lots of Kebabs
Much of the food we ate was either Indian or Lebanese food.  Most of the time, though, we ate many kebabs and other traditional Lebanese dishes (like tabouleh-top right on my plate).  Here's food from our buffet on Friday night.  For every meal, everything was fresh, not processed, and tasty!

Traditional Emirati Food
The UAE natives are called emirati, and at lunch on Sunday in Abu Dabui, we ate a traditional dish.  This dish is called Harees, and it is meat, rice, and bread all mashed together.  It looks weird, but it was REALLY good!  It tasted like a casserole without chunks.  Our tour guide described Emirati food as comfort food, and I would definitely agree.

Airplane Food
We flew Lufthansa on the way over, and the meals on those flights were GREAT!
We had dinner and breakfast on our flight from Orlando to Frankfurt, Germany (as well as a small snack with the beverage cart) then a lunch and a snack (sandwich) from Frankfurt to Dubai.  I was incredibly pleased with the food we received!  They also brought beverages by very frequently AND offered free alcohol during the flight.  Too bad I couldn't take advantage!

During our layover in Frankfurt, I got a soft pretzel.  Hey, when in Germany!!
On the way home, we flew United and I must say, the food was a little disappointing.  Nowhere near as good, and we got less food on our flight from Dubai to Washington, DC (about 14 hours 30 minutes) than the Frankfurt flight.  Glad I got the pictures of the Lufthansa food :)

Each morning, we ate breakfast in our hotel.  They had a buffet of hot foods, cereal, pastries, and fruit with a wide selection each morning.  I typically had eggs, potatoes, cereal, a piece of fruit, and a croissant every morning.  I never took any pictures, but everything was really good!

They also usually had some sort of "soup" each morning that Joe really enjoyed.  One morning, it was an Indian food dish made with potatoes and spices, and the other morning it was a chickpea-based dish.  It was a unique item for breakfast, but as I said, Joe thought it was really good!


We had lots of desserts, particularly when eatings at a buffet.  My favorite were the camel milk chocolates pictured above (those are chocolates, not peebles!) and these little donut-like things (called Gulab Jamun) we ate on numerous occasions.

Overall, everything we ate was GREAT, and I actually did not have any problems with anything we ate.  Awesome!!

Question for you: When you travel, do you try to eat local food most of the time?  What's your favorite dish you've had while traveling?