Family

Sawyer June is 1!

Today Miss Sawyer June turns one years old!

If you’ve been following along at in the past year, chances are you’ve heard me talk about this sweet little girl or at least seen her picture.

Sawyer is actually my cousin, though age-wise she’s obviously more like a niece. My own sister and I waited 23 years for a cousin on this side of our family and we love her to pieces!

The first word that I’d use to describe Sawyer is sassy. She has such a big personality already! So I laugh, because on this particular day that I took these pictures of her when I was home in Oregon a few weeks ago, I was watching her while her mama napped and Sawyer was about 20 minutes or so away from going down for a nap of her own. So she kind of looks a bit more shy in these photos than she actually is 🙂

She is ALMOST walking and says “danke,” which is “thank you” in German since that’s where her mama’s family is from.

I know its cliche, but its amazing to think that she’s been a part of our family for only year, especially since I don’t actually get to see her that often. But she’s been the highlight of my Snapchat reel and is my favorite scene-stealer when I’m FaceTiming with my family.

Happy Birthday Sawyer June! We all love you so much!

Oregon, Photography, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Just Living – Golden Hour on the Farm

“I am tired.”

If you’ve spoken to me at all in the last two months, my bet is that this was said early on in the conversation. Usually I try to stay away from default answers like “I’m tired” or “I’m busy” when I’m catching up with someone, because the reality is we are all busy and tired, and we all measure those differently. Personally, I think we are all capable of being better conversationalists.

But the truth is in this case, when I finally made it home to Oregon for my vacation at home with my family, this was all I could muster up when my Grampy asked how my work meeting in Seattle, (that I had just traveled from) went.

My body was tired, my brain was tired and I’d even say my soul was tired.

Both professionally and personally, this season of life over of the past six months or so has really pushed me. Its tested me and even broke me a couple of times. And that’s all OK. These seasons come and go, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I believe that sometimes you just have to put your head down and work, and do what you have to do to get by.

That first evening when I got home I immediately jumped on my laptop to knock out a few things related to the meeting I had just traveled from. But the sun was starting to set and the scene I could see through my parent’s big kitchen window could not be ignored.

So I grabbed my camera and headed out to sit in the yard with our old family dog Jack and just paused for a bit.

It’s amazing how little things like that can refocus things for you.

It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear
Some days you just breath in
Just try to break even
Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest
Sometimes it’s just beatin’
Some days you just forget
What all you’ve been given
Some days you just get back
And some days you’re just alive
Some days you’re livin’
Some days you’re livin’

Family, Washington D.C.

Mom and Dad Visit DC

Hey friends! I’ve been a little MIA lately, but March was a bit of a monster, and there were many times where I opted to go to bed earlier instead of staying up to blog 🙂

But the month also rounded out in the best kind of way — with a visit from my parents from Oregon.

This was my Dad’s first time visiting DC, and my Mom’s second. Though her first visit was centered around helping me move apartments so she didn’t get to experience or see much. I have been looking forward to them visiting for a long time, so I had a pretty packed schedule planned for them. It was actually kind of unique… I’m the oldest child, so I don’t really know that I’ve spent this much quality time with them together just one-on-one since I was little. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either way, because that’s probably pretty normal, but it just stood out to me. I am really close with my parents, so living so far away from them for almost 10 years now is much harder than I think most people think it is for me. I was so excited to finally share my current home and life with them!

I picked them up late from the airport on a Wednesday night, and then turned around and hit the ground running by making Mom take a Pure Barre class with me at 7 AM. But she was a trooper! We picked up Dad, who was at a diner nearby working on his laptop, got ourselves ready for the day and then swung by my office so they could see it and meet a few people.

Our first stop after we trekked into DC was actually probably my favorite of the whole visit. My Dad is a mason, so I did a little research on things to do in the area related to that, since freemasonry is such a huge part of U.S. history. We went to the House of the Temple, which is headquarters for the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction (there are three types or branches of masons I learned).  I had no idea this beautiful building was in DC and considering there are few things that I haven’t already done here, it was fun to experience something new with my parents — especially something that is so important to my Dad. I’ll admit, I still don’t understand a lot about freemasonry, but I did learn quite a bit, AND GUYS… I was beside myself over their library!

After the House of the Temple, we headed toward the National Mall to see the Monuments. We made the full trek from the Washington Monument, down past WWII and Vietnam, to the Lincoln and from the Korean and FDR, and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson. Yes, my feet were basically goners by the end of day one.

(Nevada is my Dad’s home state.)

We wrapped up the day by finishing the short walk down to the new Wharf area and had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar, which is their newest location.

On Friday, day two, we officially made our picture stop at the White House, though we walked passed it several times during their visit. My Dad’s younger brother, who passed a few years ago, and was in the Army EOD, had spent some time protecting the White House that we didn’t know much about, so my Dad walked up and asked two of the on-duty Secret Service, a few questions about what my uncle’s role and experience would have involved.

Next, we headed to the nearby Renwick Gallery, which is an art museum that features temporary exhibits and is a part of the Smithsonian system. That day was actually the opening day for its newest exhibit, “The Art of Burning Man.” I mentioned above that Nevada is my Dad’s home state, but the other part of that is that he actually grew up on the edge of the Black Rock Desert, near where Burning Man is held every year. Growing up, my sister, cousins and I spent part of our summers visiting our grandparents there (who have since moved). To be honest, we probably have a bit of a different opinion on the event, but nonetheless the artwork it inspires is stunning, and its more amazing to think that all of these pieces have previously been built out on that desert, and in many cases, at a larger scale.

These ones changed colors and also expanded and contracted.

This is all carved wood.

Next, we went up on the Hill and visited the Library of Congress, before making our way to Congressman Walden’s office (my parent’s home district) for a Capitol tour. Walden’s Chief of Staff is also from my hometown and when to high school with my Mom, so they enjoyed catching up a bit.

For an early dinner we head to The Carving Room, which was featured on one of my Dad’s favorite shows, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. We wrapped up the day by stopping at the National Portrait Gallery for the last 45 minutes it was open. We chose to walk through the U.S. Presidents exhibit.

On Saturday, the third day, we headed out to my favorite tourist stop in the area: Mount Vernon! I’m actually kind of sad, because I’m running out of expected visitors to take here. Not that I can’t go on my own or with other locals, which I did for the 4th of July last year, but it is just not the same. At heart, George was a farmer first, and has always been my favorite president, so I genuinely love sharing his home and life with my guests. #nerdalert

It needs to be noted here (at the request of my Dad) that he is smiling. Everyone always gives him a hard time that he doesn’t smile that much, but that behind him is the OUTHOUSE and he just thought that it was “so cool” and needed his picture with it. #facepalm

We spent a good chunk of the day at Mount Vernon, so to wrap up we visited the Marine Corp Memorial (Iwo Jima), walked across the river from Arlington into Georgetown for dinner at Pizzeria Paradiso (I’d never been — SO GOOD!) and then went back to my neighborhood to watch the NCAA Final Four at a sports bar.

On Sunday, the fourth and final day, we started out with breakfast at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill and then peeked into the Trump International Hotel (it is really pretty inside and out).

Next, we spent a good chunk of the day at my favorite museum, the Newseum. It is one of the few non-Smithsonian museums here and one of the few that you have to pay for. I actually love it so much I became a member, which gets me in free, discounts and invites to special events. I’ve been there a few times for multiple hours and still have never made it all the way through. It is a bit spendy in a city with so many free options, but I HIGHLY recommend it.

Our last stop of the day was to Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve now visited here at least once during every season (which isn’t hard, I live 2-3 miles away), and I can attest that they are all pretty, but I think spring might be my favorite. We made sure to catch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also saw the end of the day flag lowering.

We wrapped up with a great dinner at Circa and then home early because they had an early flight home the next morning and I had to return back to a busy work week.

Thanks for visiting me Mom and Dad! I loved our one-on-one time and getting to share my current home with you.

I love you.

Mandy.

Family, Love Letters

Love Letter: Golden Anniversary

I talk about my Ego grandparents, known as Grampy and Grammy, every now and then on my blog, but I don’t know if they have ever been properly introduced.

My Grampy, Dave, is a retired high school counselor, principal and boy’s basketball coach. He served in the Army, working in the psych ward in the hospital at Fort Ord, California, during the Vietnam War. He is the ultimate sports fan. He goes to baseball spring training every year, has been a Portland Trailblazers season ticket holder since 1973 and over the years has done a lot of sports radio commentary (and those are just a few of the sports related notes). He also loves Benjamin Franklin, ice cream and pushing people’s buttons.

My Grammy, Gloria (or “Go” as my Grampy calls her), is an artist and florist, and last year we celebrated the 30 year anniversary of her store, Cottage Flowers, that my mom now owns. She loves reading, coffee, painting and though my Grampy is always the one singing, she is the one with the beautiful voice.

Together they like to keep their hands busy with yard work and projects. They are extensive travelers, spending the warm months of the year mostly up at our family cabin and the rest of the year traveling all over the U.S. and the world. They have a big heart for others, going on mission trips and running a home for girls early on in their marriage.

They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren, and though I’ve shared above that they have quite the colorful life, I know that they would say that their favorite adventure is their family.

And today they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

My relationship with my grandparents is really special. With a family business and growing up down the street from them, they were involved in Janci and I’s life in every possible way. Growing up, they helped send us to camps and activities, and were at every sports event, dance recital and county fair show. When Janci showed a real interest and talent for golf, Grampy became her main cheerleader, and it wasn’t just enough to come to my FFA events — they asked questions until they understood the contests and topics. They’ve always been good at asking questions, because for them its not enough to just be present. If something is important to their kids and grandkids, then its important and interesting to them. When I was a student at K-State, they made sure I always had season football and basketball tickets, and in return Grampy became a loyal fan so we could always discuss the game. Grammy was the one who instilled a love for reading and creativity in me, which you could really say is what partially helped sparked my interest in communications early on. When I accepted my current job and needed to make the move from Kansas to Virginia really quickly, they cut a vacation they had planned short so they could fly to Kansas to help me pack up and make the long drive. Last year, when my job took me to Thailand, they didn’t think twice about joining me afterward for an adventure. Those are just a few of the many ways they’ve have impacted and been involved in my life, and that doesn’t even begin to mention the things that the rest of my family and others would add.

They’ve spent 50 years of marriage investing in the people, dreams and things that are important them. In that time, I’m sure there have been many ups and downs, but they’ve worked hard — with humility, kindness and love — and its truly amazing to think about the family and legacy they’ve built because of that. So here’s my little love letter to them.

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Dear Grampy and Grammy,

I often have to remind myself that not everyone has grandparents like you. Not everyone gets to share every aspect of their life with their grandparents and share the kind of memories we do.  Not everyone gets the extra cheerleaders and the second set of “cool” parents. And because of that, not everyone gets to talk like we do, and share and learn together like we do.

You’ve never been the stereotypical sweet elderly grandparents and that’s OK. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point, I can’t imagine it any differently. I’ve gotten used to explaining to others that my grandparents are the definition of being “young at heart” and that at the end of the day, they are always the ones with more energy left then the rest of us.

Because of you, Janci and I had two extra constant voices telling us we could go anywhere and be anything that we wanted to be. Because of Grampy, I yell shamelessly loud at sporting events and know that my shoes laces should never come untied. Because of him, I am also interested in the world happening around me, and I know the importance of showing up and investing in it. Because of Grammy, I have seen what it means to be independent and chase a dream, when to be strong and when to have a gentler touch. Because of her, I also have an eye for creativity and a love for a good story.

Because of the two of you, I know there is a time to put your head down and work hard, and there is a time to relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Because of you, I know that one should always make room for laughter and for grace. And because of you, I know that family is the most important thing we have.

I will never tire of going on adventures together, never tire at laughing at how you poke at each other and never tire of learning how to live well and love others from you.

50 years is truly something to celebrate, and I am so proud to be your granddaughter. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of knowing you, knows how lucky Janci, Sawyer and I are.

I love you two so much and can’t wait for our next adventure together. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary

Love,
Mandy

Note: The pictures make a huge jump from some old fun ones that they were tagged in on Facebook, to what is in my own files. 🙂

Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 27

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

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27 Years Young

My last “So There’s That” post was right before my birthday in October so we are backtracking a bit. It was a pretty low key day because it was a busy work week but those near and far made me feel pretty special… although my sister did try to make me a year older than I actually was.

In Case You Missed It On the Blog in October

  1. The Road I Traveled: Meet Caroline
  2. So There’s That Vol. 26
  3. The Road I Traveled: Meet Wyatt
  4. My Favorite Traveling Duo Visit D.C.
  5. The Road I Traveled: Meet Brian

Sawyer June

What happened to this wee baby?!? Suddenly she is looking so much bigger to me! I’ve been getting lots of adorable pictures lately so trust me this is the already culled lot.

How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk

I’ve seen this pop up on Facebook before, but never took the quiz. It anchors around large cities in the area that you most identify with and considering how broad and ambiguous I thought some of the questions were, this is basically SPOT ON for both of the main two places I have lived. The full results give you a breakout based on all of your responses.

Link: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/dialect-quiz-map.html

Jam Session

I really do want to get back to blogging about what I am listening to someday, but my old “Friday Jam Session” posts just take too much to put together. Until I figure out something different, you know I am over here always obsessing over Ed Sheeran. Recently stumbled across this acoustic version of “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here” off his “Divide” album that I am currently loving.

30 Years

Last week I blogged about celebrating the 30th anniversary of my family’s flower shop by writing this love letter and reminiscing a bit on why its such a special place.

An Ode To the Women Who are “Too Much”

This article was recently passed around Facebook  about being “too much” as a woman and I really wanted to share it here too. I appreciate that it was written by a man and I thought that its was sweet, short and effectively direct. There are parts that I can certainly relate to, and other parts that remind me that my home team is pretty great.

Link: https://www.stevewiens.com/2017/11/11/an-ode-to-the-women-who-are-too-much/

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

Crossing my fingers this sweet girl makes K-State her final choice!

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.


Sorry for the language, kind of…

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Family, Love Letters, Oregon

Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary

When I was in high school, we hosted a young woman who was serving as an Oregon State FFA Officer at our house and she asked my Mom a lot of questions about our family-owned flower shop. To one of the questions, my Mom explained that outside of the holiday season, Valentine’s Day and the week of Mother’s Day, it was weddings and funerals that led the core of our floral business. At the time I remembered feeling a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable that my Mom said that, but the guest saw a bit of humor in my Mom’s matter-of-fact answer, and a few days later we received a thank you card that was signed off with “Wishing you many weddings and funerals.”

Looking back, now it makes me laugh and for some reason that story has always stuck with me. When you think about it, owning and working in a flower shop, really means that you get a front row seat to helping people commemorate and celebrate the milestones and memories that make up their story. From new babies, sweet sixteen’s, get well soon’s, high school proms, graduations, holidays, job promotions, break-ups — and yes, weddings and funerals — we get to be a part of it all. And in a small town, where we have generations of families, that carries even more significance.

This year we are celebrating my family’s flower and gift shop, Cottage Flowers, which my grandparents bought 30 years ago and now my Mom owns. I’ve always told people that I grew up in my family’s flower shop — that it was our home base more than any house we lived in ever was. Sure, that might be a bit of an unconventional way to grow up but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, “the flower shop,” which is how we refer to it, is another member of our family.

So, to the flower shop, this love letter is for you:

I didn’t know the very first location on Main Street, but I do remember the location at the Plaza very well. I remember playing in the “silk garden” around the indoor gazebo where we were allowed to make a bit more of a mess. I remember holding tea parties with the glassware and stuffed animals, making Italian sodas when we had a cafe counter and the taste of the carbonated water when you accidentally chose it instead of regular water or Sprite. I remember “making arrangements” with the leftover stems in the trash, my hands going numb from filling water picks and when people camped outside the store for the newest Beanie Babies to arrive. I remember my mom’s back office where I spent every sick day away from school and that the dim back room where we cleaned flowers was scary.

I remember when we moved the store across town to the old armory when I was 10 (I think?) and the true labor of love it was to flip. I will forever remember having to climb along the rafters in the ceiling to thread some wiring for Grampy and being told to “pretend the spiders aren’t there.” I both loved and hated the Event Center that we opened for many years. I loved the big open space to play when it was empty and seeing so many weddings and parties come together there, but I also hated setting up tables that were much bigger than me and being woken up early on Saturday mornings because the wedding from the night before didn’t properly clean up and there would be anxious people waiting to set up for the next one. I can almost remember the exact amount of steps it took to get from the front counter to the back loading dock and can vividly remember the well-crafted process I had for washing hundreds of folding chairs with the pressure washer machine.

As I got older and officially started earning a paycheck, it’s where I learned how to count back change, talk professionally on the phone and that the customer is always right. It taught me how to problem solve, plan a project and manage my time. I remember the exact smell of Comet from cleaning buckets, the sound of the wire service when an order was coming through, the fastest way to clean roses without getting poked by a thorn, being pulled out of school to work on Valentine’s Day and judging people’s ribbon color choices for their prom corsage and boutonniere. Though after you’ve made a few dozen boring ones in a single day, the crazy ones are a welcome change.

The flower shop grew my curiosity and love for telling stories. Every time I wrote a card for someone who’s order I took over the phone, I wandered, how did the woman receiving flowers on her 50th wedding anniversary first meet her husband? Who will this new baby girl that is receiving balloons grow up to be? Why is he sending her an arrangement with a card that says he’s sorry?

It fueled my creativity in a way you couldn’t bottle up and recreate. Yes, I probably inherited the creative gene from my Mom and Grammy, but it also comes from countless hours of watching them work, criticize their own work and somehow make the customer happy on those Sunday afternoons when all that was left in the cooler is three colors of carnations.

It showed me what it means to be a part of a community and the reward of pouring back into your local economy. I mean, I understood the impact of “shopping local” before the hipsters even made a big deal about it.

It gave me examples of what strong, entrepreneurial women can be. I’ve seen them both succeed and take the loss, embrace change, make hard decisions and challenge themselves to see goals through to fruition. Even with their own careers, the men in my family have certainly always played an important role, but celebrating this anniversary is also a celebration of the two women who have put their heart and soul into building a successful business. 

There have been many characters over the years that have played a big part in the flower shop’s story. Whether they only worked for us for a short while or for over a decade, so many of our employees have become a part of our extended family. And to our customers who trust us with their memories, thank you for sharing your lives, challenging our creativity and of course, keeping our doors open.

Most importantly, I truly believe the flower shop is why my family is so close. Sure, mixing business with family can be challenging and definitely not for everyone, but for us it somehow works.

Thank you for the random skills I hardly use like making bows, and the practical lessons I use everyday in my own chosen career. Thank you for showing me what hard work and empathy look like. Thank you for teaching me that love, heartbreak, hope and kindness come in all shapes and sizes.

And thank you, for the privilege of that front row seat.

Love, Mandy

P.S. I found a folder of photos from the flower shop I took my first Christmas home after I got my DSLR camera in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared until now. So here is a little behind the scenes!

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