Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Honeymoon Destinations {An Overview}

Wow - thank you all for the love on my big wedding highlight post from last week that includes some of our favorite professional photos and our video highlight reel! I really enjoyed reading your sweet comments (and replied to everyone who has the reply option - some of you are still no reply bloggers!)

Today's post is all about where we went for our honeymoon! I'm going to make a separate post for each of the nine places we visited, so this is just a general overview.

We were able to visit some AMAZING cities. Shown below are our favorite photos from each destination. This is just a small taste of what we saw, and it was SO difficult to choose just one photo from each place.

We really enjoyed Rome, Italy; Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece; Kusadasi, Turkey; Split, Croatia; Paris, France; Normandy, France; and Munich, Germany!

OH! And did I mention that I didn't know we were going to Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Kusadasi, or Split until we arrived suddenly in Venice after we left Rome?! My sweet husband had planned a SURPRISE MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE for us! He booked it 18 months before we went on it, and he kept it a surprise all that time! I am so impressed, and we had a BLAST on the Norwegian Jade!

Since we had to wait so long to get married (because of the US Air Force Academy rules that no cadet can have dependents), we had a SUPER long time to save up for our honeymoon... which isn't such a bad thing! We were able to enjoy a full month in Europe, and even that got cut short! We were supposed to be there for six weeks, but due to a family emergency, we had to return after four weeks... but that just means we have to go back to see Prague, Czech Republic; Warsaw, Poland; Krakow, Poland; and London, England, right? I'm down for Honeymoon Part II! ;)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wedding Highlights {Professional Photos & Video}

Slowly but surely I will catch up with this blog! I've been trying to post two or three times per week, but there's just so much to post about from this crazy summer!

I posted our wedding recap a few days after Dan and I tied the knot, but that was just with pictures that our guests took. We recently got our professional photographs back, so I wanted to share those today! We ALSO hired a videographer, and he made a wonderful highlight reel from our big day. I'll include it at the bottom of this post after the photos.

Our photographer was Callie Riesling, and our videographer was Sean Halverson. Check them out by clicking on their names - they are both stellar at what they do! :)

We were sealing the letters we wrote to each other when we were apart the night before the wedding with a bottle of wine that we made together. The point is to open it on our five year anniversary, read the letters, and drink the wine. If we have a big fight before that, though, we will open it up to read the letters and remember how amazing our love is.

Yeah, I accidentally called him my wife in the middle of my vows... and according to my friends, this is a typical "Janelle face", so that's nice. Haha.

But really... my wife?! Haha! 

We had a saber arch at our wedding, and the coolest part of it is that it was full of AMAZING friends. These three guys and three girls are just wonderful, and I'm so glad the arch was able to be so personal! 

"Kiss her! Kiss her longer! You can't go until you kiss her more!"

Best Man Aaron is tapping me on the butt with his saber... "Welcome to the Air Force, Mrs. C!" This photo shows every emotion I was feeling that day, and it is my absolute favorite!

Every bride deserves a picture like this one! :)

I *think* this is the one we'll use in our giant guest book frame! 

Garden of the Gods is beautiful in the background, but the love we felt from our friends in our wedding party that day was 100 times more beautiful. 

Yes, it's pouring down rain, but we were dancing and didn't care! :)

The cake was made by an awesome friend and {former} co-worker of mine - and it was DELICIOUS! I can't wait to eat it again on our anniversary... hopefully more gets in my mouth and less up my nose this time around! ;)

We took one class to perfect our mad dancing skills {joking... I was terrified to dance unless we took a class and could only fit one into our busy schedules}, but our first dance song was "Come Fly With Me" by Frank Sinatra... it was magical. :)

Dan's former teammates from the Air Force Academy Flying Team serenaded me with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" during our rehearsal... Top Gun style! It was so much fun, and you can watch it at the very end of the video below. 

And here is the video highlight reel! We absolutely LOVE that we have not only still photos but also this video that just completely encapsulates how we were feeling that day. We also have a video of our entire ceremony, and I'm sure that will be amazing to watch for YEARS and YEARS to come! I HIGHLY recommend a videographer for all of the brides-to-be out there. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Liebster Award - 2014

Today, I'm taking a break from the graduation / wedding week series.

A friend and fellow Air Force wife I have "met" through blogging recently nominated me for a Liebster Award... my first thought? SWEET! I can answer the questions and not think of a topic for a new blog post! So, Melissa, thank you for that! Check out her blog at A Pearl and Her Pilot.

The rules of the award state:
1. Post 11 facts about yourself.
 2. Answer the 11 questions created by the person who nominated you.
 3. Create your own set of questions for the people you are going to nominate.
 4. Choose 11 people (who have under 200 followers) to nominate, and link them to your blog.
 5. Let the people you've nominated let them know they've been tagged. No tag backs!
11 facts about myself
#1: I am currently unemployed (after moving across the country with my husband) - but that'll be a whole different post some other day.
#2.  But my Etsy shop seems to be taking off... little by little! (Check it out here: Two Cats Decorations)
#3. I still listen to my favorite morning radio show from Colorado Springs. I listened to these DJs for four years as I drove to work in the early mornings, and I feel like I know them. Weird? Maybe. But it's also great that I can listen to them all the way from Ohio! Thanks, TuneIn! 
#4. One of my cats, Gilligan, has had a hernia since he was a kitten. It causes him to throw up every day, and I adopted him seven years ago knowing that. Everyone thinks I'm crazy for that, but he is seriously my baby. 
#5. I didn't have a job until I was in college. I started tutoring in the writing center on my campus during my sophomore year at UCM. I helped people write and edit their papers for class.
#6. I used to think I could be a veterinarian. I even went into college with that dream. I majored in biology and minored in chemistry... for one year. And despite doing well, I hated it and changed my major to English.
#7. I traveled out of the country for the first time this summer. I was 26 when we left, and I was terrified, but it was a great experience seeing other cultures. I'll post about that soon too! 
#8. I am struggling to be the best wife I can be. I know I've only been married for 2.5 months, but it's tough to make dinner every night, keep the house clean, pre-set the coffee maker before bed, and pack a lunch for Dan. I know it's not completely my responsibility, but since I'm not working right now, I feel like I need to do those things... but it's tough to remember to make his lunch all the time... and I've had a couple dinner fails as well. 
#9. I am obsessed with candy. It's an awful habit, but if I somehow end up in one of those bulk candy stores in a mall, game over. I buy SO much. Sometimes, I eat it all right away. Other times, I hoard it until I REALLY want it. I guess it's a good thing I run.
#10. Moving to Colorado after college was the most spontaneous thing I have ever done... and it was planned for six months ahead of time. I just don't like doing things on a whim.
#11. I am usually a really good judge of character. I know if someone is a good person or not right away. If not, I try to keep a good distance, but my friends and family have never understood. Until time passes and they realize I was right from the very beginning. I don't know what it is exactly, but it comes in handy. 
11 Questions From Melissa
1. Beaches or Mountains? 
MOUNTAINS for sure! I hate water and fish and everything else in there! But I could play on the mountains all day long. 

2. Why did you decide to become a blogger?
I have a lot going on in my head, and it's a way for me to get it all out in a (somewhat) logical fashion. I also created a challenge for myself and blogged (on a different blog called Always Write 2012) EVERY SINGLE DAY for the entire year of 2012. 

3. Whats the bravest thing you've ever done? 
This probably goes along with one of my 11 facts, but I moved to Colorado right after college after assuming that I'd live in Kansas City my entire life. I had help from people, but it was still scary! 

4. What did you have for dinner last night?
I made jalapeño popper grilled cheese sandwiches and roasted cream of tomato soup! It was a really good meal, and I'll definitely try it again! 

5. Why did you name your blog what you did?
This one's easy: because it was made to chronicle our lives as we move around and Dan progresses through the Air Force. I feel a name change coming soon, though, perhaps. We'll see.

6. How did your parents come up with you name? 
They were looking through their high school yearbook (yes, they met there) and saw a girl with long, dark hair named Janelle that they didn't know. Here I am - and with long, dark hair! :)

7. If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I would want to be able to teleport wherever I want, whenever I want. I have wished for this even since watching the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in the early '90s. A girl can dream, right?

8. What is the best tip about blogging that you would pass on to a new blogger?
Be connected! Don't just post on your own blog... actually interact with other bloggers, and make connections! It's a lot more fun that way!

9. If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
While I'm inclined to pick my father because he's been gone for over eight years, and let's be real; that's who I would ACTUALLY choose... my answer for the sake of this question would be Lucille Ball. I have always felt like we would get along great. I grew up watching I Love Lucy on rerun, and she is the funniest. 

10. What is your favorite recipe on Pinterest?
Oh, gosh. I have so many. I think I'll go with the Tangerine Butter Cookies I made last year for Christmas. They were a huge hit, and they weren't too difficult for me to make. Here's the pin:

11. What is your favorite workout?
I'm boring, and I like running long distances... I ran my first marathon earlier this year! I've been running for as long as I can remember, so it's just what I know.

My 11 Questions For You:
1. What is the significance of your blog?
2. Do you have goals for your blog, or do you just post on a whim?
3. What is your favorite type of cookie? (bonus points for recipe!)
4. Do you prefer baking or cooking?
5. What is the place you dream about living in?
6. What is the best book you've ever read?
7. Do you enjoy DIY projects, or would you rather buy finished products?
8. What was your favorite vacation destination?
9. Are you one of those people who is always early, on time, or late?
10. How did you pick what you wanted to study in school?
11. Do you like sleeping in, or would you prefer to get up early to accomplish things?
My Nominees!
Lizzie at Seis Matters
Michelle at Anything for 10
Bailey at Becoming Bailey
Rachel at My Wholesome Home

Rachel at The Ross Family

Michele at Verbose Michele

Ashley at American Honey

Thanks again for the nomination, Melissa!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wedding Rehearsal and Dinner

Continuing with graduation week, Dan and I had our rehearsal dinner the day AFTER he graduated from the Academy.

Thursday of that week was surreal. Dan had accomplished all of his hopes and dreams by making it through USAFA. We were one day away from tying the knot (finally!), and we were both pretty anxious.

Our wedding party was AMAZING and helped us set up our reception venue by decorating and carrying in all of the drinks we had purchased. It was hectic, and it took a little longer than we expected, but it worked out and was beautiful.

That evening, we gathered everyone who was participating in our wedding and did a short run-through at Boulder Park in Colorado Springs. We chose that location because it was across the street from the house I was living in and also close to the restaurant we chose for dinner.

And of course, it rained. Go figure.

But we made it through and set off to Bambino's Italian Eatery, which was amazing as always. We had a big buffet with salads, two different kinds of pastas and sauces, garlic bread, and of course, a cake from the Safeway bakery.

The food was good, but being surrounded by most of our best friends and family members was great. They decided to tell embarrassing stories about Dan and me from our childhoods, and that was a hoot. It's always exciting learning more about the person you love, but it's FANTASTIC when it's an embarrassing story from 15 years ago. ;)

AND people kept bringing me glasses of wine. You can't go wrong there. It was weird how so many people wanted to do things for me, though, and I appreciated it SO much. I think six people offered me wine BEFORE dinner alone (don't worry - I didn't accept ALL of them, as tempting as it was).

We didn't get too many pictures, but Dan's uncle took some, so those are what I'm using here!

Any guesses on what my next post will be about? ;)

Monday, August 11, 2014

USAFA Graduation: Gift for My Graduate

Last week, I blogged all about USAFA Graduation Week! You can check out my posts about the graduation parade, the commissioning ceremony, and the actual graduation by clicking on the links.

Many of you know that my husband has been flying airplanes since well before we met. In fact, he's been flying since around the same time he started driving (even before).

He received a pilot slot to go to Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training (read all about that here), so he will head there after getting his Master's degree.

I knew that for his graduation from the Air Force Academy, I wanted to make him something special... something that he'll cherish forever. I decided that I wanted it to be about flying, since that's his passion. But what? Then I got an amazing idea - to use aviation sectional charts! I had seen them in the flying team's squadron bar used as a table top and thought that looked really cool. I knew I couldn't do anything like that, but then I realized he had learned how to fly at three different airports so far and would be going to a fourth one for Air Force pilot training... and the idea of making a framed depiction of that came about.

Once I found the PERFECT frame (that looks just like an old window-pane), I knew I was set! I spent some time working on it while Dan was out of town at a flying competition, and I LOVE the way it turned out. He really likes it too (I could tell when he received it!), and it is now hanging in our new home.

The picture of it isn't so clear since I took it with my phone, but I am really happy with the graduation gift I made for Dan!

Friday, August 8, 2014

USAFA Grad Week: Graduation

This post is my third installment of USAFA grad week festivities, and it is the last! If you want, check out the graduation parade, commissioning ceremony, and the graduation gift I gave Dan. I will have a couple other posts coming up about events that took place during the same week (rehearsal dinner and wedding), so be on the look-out for those!

On Wednesday, May 28th, 2014, Cadet Lovemuffin graduated from the US Air Force Academy and became Lieutenant Lovemuffin.

It was a picture perfect day. It was sunny but not too bright. It was warm but not overbearingly hot. We had fabulous seats on the 50 yard line inside Falcon Stadium to watch the graduation. Everything went as planned, and my heart did not jump out of my chest... although it was definitely a close call!

Dan was in squadron 39 of 40 at the Academy, so we had to wait until nearly the VERY end to see him walk across the stage and shake Vice President Joe Biden's hand and receive his giant graduation packet.

When Dan was done on stage, however, and walking back to his seat, he turned and looked at us (both of our families and me) in the stands, smiled really big, and held up his diploma packet. I swear I was about to burst with excitement, joy, and pride for him! He worked his butt off for four long years at the Academy, one year at the Preparatory School before that, and for two years in civilian college in Missouri before he applied to USAFA. After seven years of school, his dream had finally come true. All of his hard work had paid off. I knew what a huge moment this was for him, and my heart was racing for him.

As soon as he made it back up to us after the oath took place, he kissed me, and I just about melted. I knew it was over then. Not us. We were just beginning, as the kind men and their wives behind us who had graduated in the 80's and 90's reminded us. But the Academy was FINALLY OVER WITH, and while it was 100% worth all of the shenanigans, it was tough. Those years were just plain difficult, and no, the time did NOT fly by as many people say. It was HARD. But it was also completely worth it in the end. And we did it. We made it into the 2% Club! (Some authority at the Academy has done research and found that only 2% of cadets who are in a relationship at the beginning of their time at USAFA are in the SAME relationship when they graduate four years later - and we made it to that esteemed 'club' - and it feels great!)

Before everything started, it was empty inside Falcon Stadium... the seats awaiting the 1,000 graduating cadets.

Dan was in the back row because of his squadron, so it was awesome being able to see him the entire time! No one believed me that it was him, but I know the back of his head anywhere - and I was right! :) 

Dan after he just shook the VP's hand and received his graduation goodies!

Here he is hugging a classmate: it's all over with!
Of course he kissed me when he made it back up to the stands... and it was the best feeling! USAFA is over with! I still want to scream and shout it! :)

Can you tell how HAPPY we are? YEARS in the making! 

The US Air Force Thunderbirds did a half hour performance after graduation ended, which was really cool to watch. Maybe someday I'll know a Thunderbird pilot (hint hint Lindsey!)

We had to take the stereotypical rearview mirror photo of the USAFA chapel... looking back, we had some incredible times on that base. We decorated rooms, went to bonfires, talked in Arnold Hall, went to Ring Dance... it was a complicated four year journey, and I'm not too sad to see it behind us, just like in this picture. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

USAFA Grad Week: Commissioning

Welcome to the second installment of the craziest week of my life!

A few hours after the graduation parade and the department awards, the graduating cadets at the Air Force Academy were commissioned.

That means, they went from cadet rank to 2nd Lieutenant JUST LIKE THAT.

Each cadet got someone to commission them. Dan chose Joe, a good friend of ours. He is the same guy who gave Dan his original USAFA shoulder boards at Acceptance Day back in 2010, so he thought it was appropriate to ask him again.

I was lucky enough to be able to exchange BOTH of Dan's shoulder boards for him. As soon as the short ceremony was over, I got to remove his cadet rank and pin on his butter bars! It was an awesome feeling, one I had been waiting for for a very long time.

Our last picture where he is a cadet!

It was tougher than it looked to pin those darn things on...

It took me quite a while, but I finally got them on there!
My first photo with the brand new 2nd Lieutenant!
Our good friends Ellie and Joe! Joe is the one who commissioned Dan. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

USAFA Grad Week: Graduation Parade

Let me take you all the way back to the last week in May. It was by far the busiest (yet most beautiful) week of my life.

That is the week that the love of my life FINALLY graduated from the US Air Force Academy. It ALSO happens to be the week we got married.

Since the week was so overwhelming for me, I am going to break it down into several posts so that I can look back and enjoy reading about that marvelous week without all the confusion. Sound good? Okay!

First up was the graduation parade. This signifies the very last parade cadets march in at the Academy. They enter the field with their squadrons (all cadets). Only the graduating seniors wear the yellow sash. And when they march back off, they leave alone, without their younger squadmates. It's the same way they enter the parade field four years prior for the Acceptance Day parade when they officially become cadets after basic training.

This experience was very emotional for me. I sat with my good friend Megan, and we were SO giddy that our then fiancés (now husbands) were FINALLY at that point. I remember being so overcome by emotions when the cadets first marched out, realizing that after watching three other classes go through this and seeing three other classes of girlfriends/fiancées get married, it was finally Dan's turn. Our turn.

It was an amazing feeling, and I couldn't wait to hug that man of mine in his parade dress!

This isn't the entire cadet wing by far. This is just a couple squadrons, including Dan's - 39, the Cool Campus Radicals. He's in there somewhere! 

Right after the parade! And no, I didn't mean to match him...

With our friends Megan and Ryan. They also got married and are now at the same base as us! :)

After the parade, there were department awards, and this is Dan being recognized by the Physics Department. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to Work... for the Husband!

This morning, after a fun-filled summer and 60 glorious days of my handsome husband being military free, he in-processes for his graduate school program. 

As he was heading out this morning! :)
I couldn't be more proud of him as he embarks on this new journey.

We have been at our first official base together for two weeks now, and we love it. We don't live on base, but the area seems to have a lot going on. It's not beautiful Colorado, but it's home for the next year and a half, and we are happy with that.

Since he had two months away from the Air Force, he decided to grow his beard out for the duration of that time. This is how long it got. Clearly he shouldn't have facial hair. I didn't like it, but I put up with it because I knew it was temporary... ;)

On Wednesday night, we went mini golfing and had ice cream together to celebrate him shaving his beard off! Okay, that's not true. We were celebrating two wonderful months of marriage! :)
And just for good measure, Gilligan and Stormy had a fabulous summer with my grandma... they were SO spoiled! Now they're all settled into their new home, and they love exploring it!