Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love: Five Year Edition

Today marks FIVE YEARS with my wonderful, handsome fiancé, Cadet Lovemuffin.

We've had five years of amazing memories, and I can't wait to make even more with him.

This is our year. FINALLY, it is our year. In just over three months, we will finally be married and going on our six week honeymoon!

Because of our anniversary, I wanted to share five things I love about Dan, one for each year we've been together:

1. He is determined, driven, and hard-working. He takes everything in his life seriously, and he always gives his 100%.

2. He is creative and fun. Seriously, he plans the best dates for us and is excellent at surprising me with fun new activities. (I mean, he proposed to me during a surprise hot air balloon flight. He's got it.)

3. He is willing to do almost anything. See the picture above? That's right - he wasn't even ashamed to help paint those signs and hold them proudly while we took engagement photos.

4. He is a leader. Really, he is a very charismatic person in general, but he's one of those people that you just look up to naturally. He makes wise choices, and I couldn't think of a better person to build a life with.

5. He is my best friend. We can talk for 10+ hours on a road trip and not run out of things to say. We can also sit in the same room and not say a word but still feel together. I love that about our relationship, and I will forever call him my best friend.

  • How long have you been with your significant other?
  • What do you do to celebrate your anniversary?
  • What do you love most about him/her?

Monday, February 17, 2014

A-Z Book Survey

This survey was SO much fun to complete! Thanks to Rachel at My Wholesome Home for sharing it. 

A: Author you've read the most books by:  Jodi Picoult – I started reading her books when I was a senior in high school in 2006. Some of my favorites are My Sister’s Keeper, Plain Truth, Vanishing Acts, Nineteen Minutes, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, and OF COURSE The Storyteller.

B: Best Sequel Ever: This one goes out to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy. It was my favorite book of the three and packed with so much action.

C: Currently Reading: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is what I’m currently reading. It is book two of four in The Maze Runner series, which is a young adult series. The Maze Runner movie comes out this September!

D: Drink of Choice While Reading:  Hot chocolate! I especially enjoy the flavored ones, like mint dark chocolate or raspberry chocolate. If I’ve already had too much sugar, the next best thing is hot herbal tea. It’s amazing to cure up in pajama pants with a good book… while drinking something warm!

E: E-Reader or Physical Book?  I have a Nook Tablet, and while I enjoy its ease when traveling, I really do still love physical books. I almost forgot how much until reently. I had been reading so much on my Nook, and I read a couple books for work. It was WONDERFUL to hold the paperbacks in my hand and smell that euphoric ‘book smell’.

F: Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School: This would have to be Four/Tobias from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. He seems intelligent, athletic, and strong… yet he still has weaknesses.

G: Glad You Gave This Book a Chance: One book I almost didn’t read is Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. It just didn’t sound like it would be THAT good, but it ended up being PHENEOMENAL! I loved every minute of it, and I can’t wait to see it as a movie in December!

H: Hidden Gem Book: One of my favorite books of all time is one that many have never heard of: The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender. I first read it in seventh grade and fell in love. I am so glad my teacher chose that book. It really sparked my interest for Holocaust literature. This is one you don’t want to miss.

I: Important Moment in Your Reading Life: Oh, there are so many to list. What about the fact that I used to complete multiple lists the library offered each summer as a child just because I loved reading so much? Or how I taught my younger brother how to read before he went to school? Or when I received my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in ninth grade with the assignment to read the first chapter over the weekend, and instead I canceled all of my Friday night plans and read the entire novel in one sitting? THOSE are important reading moments that I will forever remember.

J: Just Finished: The Maze Runner by James Dashner – I read it for work because my 8t graders are reading it.

K: Kinds of Books You Wont Read: Romance novels. Enough said.

L: Longest Book You've Ever Read: Hands down, the longest book I’ve read is the Bible. I read the entire thing in 2012, and I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I {finally} made my way completely through.

M: Major Book Hangover Because Of:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusack – I fell in love with Liesel’s character right away, and I read this book FAST. When I finished, I was really upset. Sometimes, I think I’ll be upset when I finish a book, but then I’m fine. With this one, I thought of it often for MONTHS. In fact, I still do think of it often, and it’s been over three years since I read it. I’d love to re-read it soon.

 N: Number of Book Cases You Own: I have six… which seems excessive and is probably way too many for most people, but with Dan’s books and mine combined (he’s also a reader), we still have books overflowing off the shelves and hanging around in random places throughout the house.

O: One book you have read multiple times: This would have to be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I first read it in high school, and I loved it. I read it again in college and saw so many things I didn’t pick up on the first time around. I recently re-read it, and it seems like I caught on to several more scenarios. I LOVE re-reading books.

P: Preferred place to read: There’s nothing like curling up in my bed with a good book, but I wish I had a better place to read. Dan has promised me to build me a cupula one day, so I can sit in the sunlight (or pouring rain or snow) and read with an amazing view of the outdoors. That will be my dream come true, and he’s wonderful.

Q: Quote That Inspires You/Gives You Feels From a Book You've Read: "Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." -F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)

R: Reading Regret: Allegiant, which is the third book in the Divergent trilogy – I just couldn’t get into it, despite having LOVED the previous two books. I was shocked (and kind of upset, to be honest) about a major plot event, and I think it would have been better if I had just chosen not to read it at all. It was a major bummer because I waited for this book to come out for MONTHS.

S: Series You Started But Still Need to Finish (All Books Are Out): This isn’t a true series, but I own all of the Dear America books and have only read about half of them. They were my favorite books growing up, and I had many of them saved from then. I knew I wanted a complete collection, so I made a list of what I needed to buy, and my wonderful fiancé (then boyfriend) bought the last few I needed to complete my set. I plan on reading through all of them (in chronological order) when he is in pilot training next year. I should be able to since they are written for elementary school girls.

T: Three of your Favorite Books: This one is really tough, but I chose three from my top 15 list. If I HAD to pick just three, I think I’d go with: The Book Thief by Markus Zusack, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, and The Giver by Lois Lowry.

U: Unapologetic Fangirl For:  Edward. Yes, THAT Edward. I don’t care how many people hate Twilight; I absolutely loved reading it my freshman year of college. It was like an escape from dorm life, and I read it a couple times that year. I’m not even ashamed. I like the glittery, sparkly vampire.

V: Very Excited for This Release More Than Others:  This book is already released… in fact, it has been for a while. But it’s one that I’m dying to read: The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel. It’s on my list to read this year, and I can’t wait until I get to it!

W: Worst Bookish Habits: I hate that when I start reading a new chapter in the evening, it often causes me to stay up late and lose precious sleep. It’s totally worth it for the adventures in the books I’m reading, but I wish I could make it a habit to read earlier.

X: X Marks the Spot - Start at the Top of Your Shelf and Pick the 27th Book:  Oh, this is a good one! My 27th book on my book-shelf is Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, a great look at Mormon fundamentalism. I especially loved this book because Dan read it first when we were long distance, and then he mailed the book to me. It was fun and exciting talking to him about the book each night!

Y: Your Latest Book Purchase: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner… since that’s also what I’m currently reading.

Z: Zzzz-Snatcher Book - (The last book that kept you up way too late): This happens to me far too often, but the one book I can think of staying up WAY too late with is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I specifically remember sitting outside with a glass of wine reading it while Dan was out of the country. It was dark, but I was reading on my Nook, so it didn’t matter. Before I knew it, it was after midnight, and I was shocked! I just couldn’t put it down.

To see my comprehensive list of my top 15 favorite books of all time, check out THIS post.
  • Do you read?
  • What is your favorite type of book?
  • Do you have a cool reading experience?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Our Love Story {Link Up 2014}

This week, I am linking up with some lovely ladies for the 'Love Story Link Up 2014', hosted by MBB.

Our First Date
Dan and I went on our very first date on February 25th, 2009. We had been planning it for about a week and had continued to hang out as friends for that week. I had just got out of a relationship a few weeks earlier, and I had been going on dates with anyone who asked me. It had been a long time since I had gone on a date, so I was just having fun (and enjoying the free meals!) for a couple weeks. One day, as I sat in the Writing Center on campus (where I worked), I received a Facebook chat message from Dan, who was becoming a good friend and running buddy.

The message simply said, "So I hear you're quite the player these days." He was referring to my random dates with people. I laughed and said, "Yeah, you better watch out. You might be next!" Dan replied: "I wouldn't mind going on a date with you." And that was that. We agreed to go on a date and see what happened from there. We're still unclear about who really asked out who. He planned quite an amazing date for a Wednesday night. We confirmed everything the night before at our normal Tuesday night Phi Sigma Pi meeting, and he picked me up at 5:00 on February 25th, 2009 at my apartment in Warrensburg, MO. I didn't know exactly what we would be doing that night, but I was excited. Luckily for me, he has continued to plan amazing things for me, and he loves to surprise me!

As we began driving toward the highway, I inquired about where we were going. At that point, Dan told me that we were first going to dinner at Siki, a Japanese Hibachi Grill in Lee's Summit, MO, which is about 45 minutes from Warrensburg. I was excited to leave Warrensburg, and I told him that I'd been wanting to try Siki since high school. (I really had. I drove by it all the time when I left Raytown, but I had never been). He told me he had called ahead to make sure they had vegetarian options for me, and I foiund that INCREDIBLY sweet of him. When we got there, we were seated next to each other instead of across from each other. My first thought was that it was going to be weird since it was our first date, but it turned out to be just right. We talked, laughed, watched the hibachi chefs put on a show with our food while cooking it right in front of us, enjoyed the delicious meal, and got to know each other better. It was the perfect setting for a first date!

As we ate, Dan told me that he had other plans for after dinner. He said we would be going to a comedy club in Kansas City to see a comedian. I was ecstatic because I'd never been to one before. I asked him where it was, and he mentioned that it was at The Legends. I told him we better get going, then, because that's a pretty long drive. He had no idea, though, since he's not from Kansas City. He didn't realize how stretched out of a city it really is. He had assumed we would just drive right up the street, but it was, in fact, another 40 minutes to get to the comedy club, which gave us lots of time in the car to keep talking. When we finally arrived at the comedy club, we took each other's hand and walked in like it was natural. And it WAS! I knew then that he was special, but I had NO IDEA what our relationship would turn into.

We had a blast and laughed our butts off at the comedy show, and we drove about an hour and a half back to Warrensburg together, talking all the while. We decided then to make things official, and when we updated our Facebook Relationship Status the next day, we had all kinds of friends who were shocked but happy for us. 
The Proposal
Dan had the second half of second leave during the summer of 2011, so we planned a road trip for that time. We first went camping on an Indian reservation in southern Colorado. Then, we spent three more nights camping at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. After that, we spent a few days at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, where Dan got to sit in on a training flight for an F-16—which caused us to get into our next destination (Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico) more than a little bit late. We didn’t get in until 1:30am, and Dan said he had a surprise for me, but we had to get up at 4:30. When the alarm went off, we were both tired and groggy from driving so much the day before, but I love surprises, so I excitedly got dressed and ready! He told me I had to wear tennis shoes, so I began growing suspicious. What were we going to do? He drove me to a Village Inn parking lot, where he said we were meeting some people. Doesn’t this sound sketchy? It was before I knew what was going on. A van pulled up with a weird looking basket on the back of it, but I still didn’t pick up on what was happening. We got into the van, and the guys told us we needed to sign a safety waiver, so I read it, and it was for a hot air balloon flight!! (During Dan’s prep school basic training, I saw a hot air balloon on my way home from work one evening, and I told him about it in a letter and how much I wanted to go in one… and he promised me that he would take me on one someday… I guess this was it!). I thought that was the entire surprise. I mean, come on! What a huge thing! I had no idea he had a ring in his backpack. When the hot air balloon pilot said that there were about 10-15 minutes left in our flight, Dan asked him to take a picture of us. We took one regular picture, and then Dan said: “Okay, one more pose,” and he got down on one knee. By this point, I was shaking (and ecstatic!) because I knew what was going on. He told me that I am the most amazing woman he knows and how he is glad that I am here to support him through the Academy and that there’s only one more thing he could ask for: for me to be his wife. I was in shock, but I said, “Of course!!!” Then he got into his backpack and pulled out a ring, and asked, “Janelle Vannice, will you marry me?” I couldn’t even speak, so I shook my head YES! The pilot got a few pictures of Dan proposing, and I am so glad that he did. I will cherish those photos forever! The ring is absolutely gorgeous—just what I wanted! He did a great job picking it out (with a little bit of help from Ellie), and it is just PERFECT for me! 

Our wedding is on May 30th, 2014, just two days after he graduates from the US Air Force Academy! We are down to about three and a half months to go (finally!), and we absolutely can't wait! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Top 10 Things to Do in Colorado Springs, CO

Have you ever been to Colorado Springs? Do you have a trip planned in the future? If so, check out this list of places you HAVE to see while you're here! Dan and I are including an insert with our wedding invitations that list these attractions since there will be a long break between our wedding ceremony and our reception. Plus, many of our guests are making a vacation out of their trip, so we thought we'd help them out with these ideas!

Garden of the Gods
Location: 1805 N 30th Street Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Hours: 8:00AM – 8:00PM
Admission: free

Pikes Peak Cog Railway
Location: 515 Ruxton Avenue Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Hours: 9:00AM – 3:00PM
Admission: $35 (book ahead)

Seven Falls
Location: 2850 S Cheyenne Canyon Road Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Hours: 8:30AM – 10:00PM
Admission: $9.25

US Olympic Training Center
Location: 1750 E Boulder Street Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Hours: 9:00AM – 4:30PM
Admission: free

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Location: 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Admission: $17.25 (and totally worth it!)

Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Location: 10 Cliff Road Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Admission: $9.50

Cave of the Winds
Location: 100 Cave of the Winds Road Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Hours: 9:00AM – 9:00PM
Admission: $18

US Air Force Academy
Location: 4700 Ponderosa Drive USAF Academy, CO 80840
Hours: 8:00AM – 6:00PM
Admission: free
*visitors must go in North Gate unless they have a military ID or a cadet escort

Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Location: 3550 W High Street Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Hours: from dawn until dusk
Admission: free

The Broadmoor
Location: 1 Lake Avenue Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Hours: hours vary
Admission: free to walk around

*Please note that many of these attractions offer discounts for military personnel, students, and children.
  • Have you been to Colorado Springs?
  • What is YOUR favorite attraction?
  • What's the best thing to do where YOU live?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Photos Were Featured!

Dan and I had engagement photos taken last summer by our wedding photographer, Callie Riesling. We decided to have them taken at the Air Force Academy's airfield because we thought it would be fun to incorporate Dan's plane that he competes in into our photos.

Earlier this week, we found out that we have been featured on The Wedding Connection Magazine blog {click on that text to see our feature}. 

It was SUPER cool for us to see our photos on there. Callie did a phenomenal job with our photos. You can see her blog post (where she posted our session) by clicking here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tough Times

I've been a really bad blogger lately. I'm well aware of that.

The reason behind that is that the past couple of weeks have been crazy, hectic, stressful, and rough.

Dan went out of town a couple weeks ago to see his dad when he got a phone call that he was in the ICU and not doing well. He stayed there with him for eight days, and he passed away last Thursday (yes, the same day he found out where we'll be moving).

This has been really tough on Dan (and therefore on me because when he hurts, I hurt {not to mention the fact that I've been through all of this before}).

Dan with his parents after his USAFA Prep School graduation in May of 2010
However, he has a lot of good memories to reminisce about, and we found out that we have lots of incredibly supportive friends and family members. One of our couple friends even drove from Ohio to Missouri to support Dan, and that was incredible.

The funeral was on Saturday, and I flew in on Friday (so I only had to miss one day of teaching). We drove back together on Sunday, and we are finally getting back into some sort of a routine.

Dan finally got to meet Tyler, our friends Joe and Ellie's baby, when they drove to Missouri over the weekend. Doesn't he look great with a baby? ;-)

Hopefully things will get back to normal soon!
  • Have you ever been away from your blog due to stress?
  • Have you lost a parent?