First Week of Married Life

I’m sitting at the kitchen table right now eating a sliver of dark chocolate and catching up on my emails — finally back to my usual routine. Something is different, though. Instead of being in my parents’ home at their warm oak table to do my writing, I am sitting at Robert’s cherry one. I am also learning to quickly correct myself from saying things like “Robert’s table,” “Robert’s living room,” or “Robert’s home,” to ours. So right now I am sitting at our kitchen table, about to write a little blog post about married life.

We’ve been married for 11 days now so I can’t really tell you all of the ins and outs of marriage, but I can tell you that yes, it has been different than being engaged. A question I have gotten since the moment we said “I do” is, “Do you feel different now that you’re a married woman?” At the time it felt the way it does when everyone begins asking you if you feel a year older on your birthday. No, obviously I don’t, is what we all think when we reach the anniversary of our birth. Not much changes from year to year unless it’s a milestone birthday like say, turning 21 and being able to sit at a bar. I digress.

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Saying our vows
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Our first moment as husband and wife. 🙂

The day of our wedding was wonderful, but there wasn’t a major change in my relationship with Robert right that second. Sure it felt good adding a wedding band to each of our hands, but then we focused on having a nice time together on the dance floor and visiting with loved ones. The big change came after the wedding — I finally moved in with Robert!

I had stayed at his place a lot in the past, but I never moved all my stuff in or called it my own. When he first purchased his home I helped him decorate some, but I didn’t think of myself in the equation a ton. We painted the walls a few different shades of gray and got dark wood finishes for his bedroom set and side tables. I thought it was all beautiful, but very masculine. It’s been fun for me to move in and add little homey touches that make me feel comfortable too now. My favorite pieces are fluffy blankets and our little pink and blue Kate Spade vases, and I am sifting through wedding photos to add some nice frames to the mix.

It’s been fun making his our home a little more cozy, and the main thing I think I’ve learned so far is that there are a lot of sports on TV. Like, not only is football on 3 days a week, but each game lasts several hours, and on Sunday they have 3 games in a row. THREE! What?!  I knew that Robert really liked sports and watched them a decent amount, but I usually spent some of that time with my friends or family, so didn’t pay a lot of attention to how much is actually on TV. Luckily I am more invested than I used to be, as I have a fantasy league to look after — and I really want to win this year.

Tonight we are going to be making a Blue Apron meal, courtesy of my sweet friend Kirsten! One of my favorite date nights is spending time together cooking (well, me reading the instructions and Robert doing most of the chopping and mixing) and getting to catch up over homemade food. I’m super excited about evening 11, and can’t wait to write my next update. It feels good to be back. 🙂

I Said “Yes!”

Well, I have officially found my wedding dress!

I have a million cute stories about the process, but some of these will have to wait until after Robert and I get married. I am being super careful about not sharing too much because I love surprises and want him to be completely surprised the day of the wedding. We aren’t going to do a first look because we’re both pretty traditional and want to see each other for the first time at the ceremony. I’m really excited about a lot of moments, but our first time seeing each other is one  of two moments I am most excited about.

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Dress shopping was such a fun experience and a small part of me is sad that it’s over, but I’m so thrilled with how the entire process went. I tried on every single style dress imaginable, and the one I chose was the only one that made my mom cry. That was the moment she and I both knew I had found the perfect dress.

I can’t wait to share more with you all, but I am so happy that I can give little peeks into our journey on here. I have a lot of fun photos in wedding dresses I’ll share after we get married, but I don’t want Robert seeing me in any of the gowns until this fall (And he’s an avid reader of my blog — right, babe? 😉 ).

Next on my list: Find and message the rest of the vendors I need, choose some beautiful bridesmaid dresses, and GO CAKE TASTING!! I think before I met Robert the most exciting part about planning a wedding always seemed like it would be the many opportunities for cake tasting. I will most definitely be writing a lot about this, as dessert is one of my biggest passions in life.

Dear Men, Take More Pictures.

I think a lot of us saw the post that went viral last year from the mom who said that men need to take more pictures of their wives.

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Photo Credit: ShaiLynn Photo and Film

Truth is, my Facebook feed is filled with photos of dads, boyfriends, children, and dogs, but we often don’t see the women behind the camera. As the post states, if girls don’t ask, the photo isn’t getting taken. You could argue that females might be a little more likely to update their Facebook feeds, but I also think it rings true that men are generally less likely to preserve the little moments of everyday life that many women enjoy having.

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I’ve never been very good at taking pictures. I always felt too “in the moment” to capture my life on camera — that is, until the deployment. Before Robert was deployed I took pictures of him cooking, playing games with me, driving, and on dinner dates. I took videos so I could hear his voice while he was gone, and I tried my best to get some photos of us together so I could remember everything. In all honesty, I don’t know what I would have done without those tiny pieces of him while he was overseas. My heart hurt every night he was away, but when insomnia struck I was able to pull up a picture or video that reminded me of the fun times we had together. I had funny moments, sweet moments, and even a few sad moments of us together on my phone.

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This was after the best weekend with Robert right before he flew overseas. Looking at this picture still makes me tear up, as it was the most heartbreaking “goodbye” I’ve said in my life.

If you look at my Instagram you’ll see photos I’ve captured of Robert in everyday life since. I took pictures of him while he was painting his new home, filling up his truck with gas on a road trip, and of how nice he looked when he got home from work. My iPhone is filled with pictures of dogs, my family, food — primarily dessert (Sorry Instagram) — and Robert. These are the most special things in my life, and I want to be able to look back on them 50 years from now and remember the little details my own memory might forget.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Robert. In the first few months of dating I got Junior Mints to take to the movies. We accidentally spilled them in Robert’s seat, and he noticed them plastered to his butt before he went home. I’ll never forget moments like this, but I love having a picture that I can giggle at along with the story.

I am a hundred percent my own worst enemy when it comes to having my photo taken, though. Instead of embracing it, I blush and wonder why I need to be alone in a photo. I say “No thank you” when someone asks to take a picture of me, and my reflexes have gotten great at pushing a lens out of my face. From now on I am going to try my best to move past my own insecurities and ask to have my picture taken too. With dogs, by myself, and even when I’m tired and not wearing any makeup.

Instead of feeling like it will make me seem vain or be offputting, I am going to realize that having my photo taken too is just another piece of the puzzle for documenting a memory. That way when I get older and have kids of my own, I’ll be able to show the candid moments of myself as well as my loved ones, and will be included in all of the adventures, too. In all honesty I’m actually really nervous about committing to this, but I’m going to try to be a good sport and will start sharing the more candid, less than perfect photos on here too.

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Here’s to creating lots of beautiful memories with loved ones — and capturing a few in the process.

Feature Friday: Capturing Beauty

“Tilt your head, you are gorgeous when you look at the camera like that!”

I laugh as my best friend cheers me on from behind the camera. It’s so ironic that she is a photographer; Audrey is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known, and it’s funny that she found a passion to showcase others’ beauty. After doing two photoshoots with her I decided I had to take a picture or two of her every time we went out; after all, she should totally be in front of the camera too!

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Audrey is blessed to be outwardly beautiful, but it’s her heart I love most. She is one of my very best friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with looks and everything to do with character. Audrey is someone who has been a fiercely loyal friend since I met her, and even though we both want to do similar things in the world, we support each other and push each other to be better, rather than choosing to compete. I can always count on her to make me laugh when I want to cry, and be a great friend even when she has a million other things going on.

I have so many different stories I could write about Audrey, but today I wanted to focus a little on her journey to DC and how she has handled being a grounded twentysomething.

Krista:
You moved to DC without having a set plan or a job lined up, but everything worked out. This is a great example of your faith in God providing for our needs. How did you feel when you made such a big step?

Audrey:
At the time I decided to move to Washington I was attending college in a really tiny, snowy college town. I’m from Las Vegas so even just the idea of being cold is so upsetting to me — I don’t do snow! I remember thinking, “I would absolutely love to get out of here, but don’t see how that’s a possibility right now.” The thought of a few semesters left in my little college town also seemed a little daunting to this solar-powered girl.

I can’t describe why, but I sincerely just felt so good about moving. I had no plan, so even though I felt direction-less I applied for three internships — one in Texas, one in California, and one in DC. It was November and I was somehow hoping to score a last-minute winter internship. I have always been a firm believer that in life, we get what we are willing to work for. I think a lot of the time we sit back and wait for signs in life or big things to happen when really God is saying, “What are you waiting for? If you want it, go for it!” He can’t guide us if we aren’t willing to take that first step in the dark.

I was in class one day and got a call from a man who was the owner of a pretty prestigious company I had applied to in Washington, DC. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how under qualified he felt like I was for the position, and needless to say it was pretty intimidating. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me in person and two weeks later I found myself driving across the country.  Needless to say, that door closed and the next six weeks I felt like I was totally in the dark, but I kept applying, networking, and most importantly, I never stopped praying. I am now working at a job that is so perfect for me at this time in my life and I am tremendously grateful the internship didn’t work out. It is amazing how when a door closes it is often a blessing in disguise, and I think God blesses us when we keep our faith even if we can’t see the bigger picture at the time.

K:
Are you still happy with your decision to move here?

A:
I am so happy! And I mean, I get “Krista time” so what is not to love about that?! I think happiness is something we create, not something we magically find. Although I would be happy anywhere, the way things fell into place once I got here has seriously been so inspired. Since moving back I have had people come into my life in such incredible ways that I couldn’t imagine life without.

K:
What is your favorite thing about the DC area?

A:
I am from Nevada so growing up if we wanted to go to another state it was often an all day road trip. I love that I can get in my car or catch a train and in just a couple of hours I can be somewhere else entirely. DC also has such a contagious energy about it that I love but it also transforms at night and is so peaceful. You can spend a lot of money and go to an elaborate show and dinner or spend absolutely nothing at all walking around the monuments or in a museum and still have such a rewarding experience. The history and diversity here never cease to amaze me.

K:
You are someone I really love because you’ve never let a relationship, a job, or a busy schedule get in the way of your friendships. Have you always been like that? What advice would you give to girls trying to juggle a busy life?

A:
For me, life is all about finding the balance. I think in this area especially, everyone is busy but some people wear it as a badge of honor and I am just so not that way. I try to give everyone the best of me throughout the day and put my best face forward but then there are times when I just need to unwind and be with girlfriends and unwind over Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake Factory over a good vent sesh 😉 Ya feel me?

K:
Umm, of course I do!

We haven’t ever really been single at the same time, but our interactions never change when either of us gets a boyfriend. Do you think there’s a reason for this? What makes you value “girl time” as well as quality time with your boyfriend?

A:
Growing up my family didn’t communicate a ton. I was raised with a single mom who worked so hard to make a living for my brothers and I, but she was spread thin so my girl friends became my closest confidants. I think a lot of girls lose their identity in their boyfriends. A lot of the time people see relationships as the whole cake instead of the icing on the cake of life. Having a relationship with someone you love and trust is a beautiful thing, but you are both still individuals. At the end of the day most people are likely to go through a couple of relationships before they end up with the person they will marry, and when those relationships end you shouldn’t be calling up your girl friends like, “Hey… Remember me?” I think it is totally healthy to spend some time apart in relationships — it keeps you both satisfied and allows you to miss each other instead of having to do everything together. I also have the most fiercely loyal, hilarious, and loving friends in my life that just seem to get me. Who wouldn’t want girl time with friends like that!?

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K:
Something I find really cool about our relationship is that we both want similar things in life, but build each other up and share successes, rather than competing. What advice would you give to others in remaining supportive of their friends, rather than competing with them?

A:
When I was in high school I was really insecure. I had this small mindset that I needed to prove myself, but the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. As I got older I realized that I was really self destructive and then embarked on a journey where I was trying to be more self-aware. Once I shifted that way of thinking I learned that I not only found joy in my own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those around me. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own and I wish more women understood that. I remember having froyo “girl time” dates with you all the way back to my first year in college and we always wanted the same things, but I was always so impressed with this about you as well! Having humble but accomplished women in my life makes me want to be better — not bitter — and I wasted a lot of years being the latter. I would tell girls that felt this way to learn to genuinely be comfortable in their own skin and then start vocalizing to others things you genuinely admire about them instead of trying to lead with your own accomplishments. I am so uncomfortable around women who constantly try to make themselves look better than others. None of my girl friends are this way. It’s a shallow and small way to live. If you are threatened by someone else, look inside yourself. What is it about them that you are intimidated by and what is really triggering these emotions of insecurity and jealousy in you? Be honest with yourself and then face that head on.

K:
As I mentioned in your introduction, I always think it’s funny doing photoshoots with you because you are clearly someone who cameras just adore! What got you interested in photography?

A:
Haha oh man, I don’t see it that way, I just genuinely love doing it! I have always wanted to photograph people’s love stories and when I was little I remember looking through bridal magazines and being at weddings thinking how that would be my dream job — to capture those beautiful moments. I still have a long way to go but luckily we live in an era where you can learn absolutely anything and thanks to YouTube it is a lot easier to get a head start in something you don’t know a lot about.

K:
What is your favorite thing about photography?

A:
It is so fun to live in the moment but then that moment is gone and photography is something that helps us remember some of life’s sweetest moments forever. I wanted to be able to create something people can hold on to — whether that is a candid moment of two people dancing or a picture someone can look at that makes them smile because they feel beautiful or see themselves in a new light. I love creating that!

K:
If you could choose anyone in the world to photograph who would it be, and why?

A:
My nephew because he is such a sassy little stud. He’s like Bieber and is a little high maintenance about his crazy paparazzi aunt these days! I am not the kind of person to get starstruck or anything like that, so that’s a tough one. I seriously can’t think of a single celebrity I would really want to photograph over one of my friends or family members, but that’s just my personality. A couple of months ago I was doing a woman’s hair and makeup who was a single mom and had never really been pampered like that before. Afterward she looked in the mirror and got teary eyed and couldn’t stop smiling. I seriously live for moments like that with hair/makeup/and photography where I can help someone feel beautiful and see what I already see in them. I don’t see being a girly girl as something shallow or worldly but rather as something I have a knack for that I can use to help others smile and I love that.

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This is one of many times Audrey did my hair and makeup for a little photoshoot. I am one spoiled girl!

If you’re interested in getting a photographer for something in the DMV, shoot me a message and I’ll connect you with Audrey!


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!

In just a couple of weeks I will no longer be on this website. My dating life changed a loooong time ago, so I am finally taking the time to make some changes that reflect this and moving my site to KristaLauren.com (As I have mentioned before I would have done this a lot sooner, but I am technologically challenged and 10 times out of 10 prefer to write instead of work on my site). Make sure you sign up to receive emails for my posts, like my Facebook page, or bookmark my new site if you want to stay a part of my Single in The Suburbs family. 🙂

My Shade Of Blue

I have a disability.

Growing up I never would have thought I would hear those words come from my lips. I was always an exceptionally healthy individual; I exercised very regularly, ate well, and excelled academically.

Even in the very worst points of my illness I wasn’t able to comprehend that this word is attached to me now. I don’t have a normal life anymore, and I do need a lot of help with tasks that most people my age wouldn’t even think twice about because they are so mundane. I have to tell myself this over and over again to understand that asking a friend to carry a “heavy” water bottle will not make their arms hurt for days after or that having someone drive 30 minutes to see me isn’t going to bring them any sort of physical pain like driving more than 15 minutes down the road does for me. This is a difficult concept to grasp after living the way I have been for three years now.

When I first got POTS it came with an electric blue handicapped parking pass. This was to accompany me everywhere. I took it to my doctor appointments and to the gym — the only two places I could muster up enough energy to go to when I first fell ill. I was determined to get better, and although I wasn’t able to go out with friends, I would force myself to go on these necessary trips with the hope of having a normal life again one day.

My mother lovingly called my handicapped pass my “VIP pass,” but my brain couldn’t comprehend that this was something that was okay for me to use. I was so used to being able to do everything by myself and having an independent lifestyle that when my working body was torn away from me I didn’t know how to react. I felt guilty using the pass, but when I didn’t I would often feel too dizzy to walk to the back of the parking lot and someone would have to come pick me up. I had moments when I had to lie down in the middle of the parking lot so I wouldn’t pass out on the hard concrete and get sent to the hospital again because of a cracked head or something. I remember my heart freaking out on me so many times while I was merely trying to decide on something like whether I wanted to try vanilla or plain almond milk. I would lie down in the middle of the grocery aisle and put my feet on a low shelf to get the blood flowing back to my brain (Hence, the “postural” part of POTS). The girl who was literally passing out from just standing up felt like she couldn’t label herself as disabled.

A lot of this had to do with my chronic optimism and hopefulness that I would one day be better. The other half, though, had to do with the way I thought about disability. The handicapped pass says it all with the picture of a wheelchair as the symbol for the disabled. I do not look like someone who has a physical disability. I look like an average run of the mill girl you’d see on a college campus or studying at Starbucks. If anything I actually look like an athlete, as I am tall, thin, and wear my sneakers almost everywhere I go (They’re a lot easier on my knees than any of the cute boots or heels I loved wearing just a few years ago). I do not look sick. You absolutely cannot see my pain; even doctors have to feel different parts of my body or rely on complicated tests to see that I’m not just an average twentysomething.

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I’m always surprised when people tell me they’re “glad I’m feeling better” when they see pictures from photoshoots or nights out with my friends. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but without the context behind the photo it’s impossible to get an accurate story. The story behind this photo that my friend Audrey took would be about how blessed I felt to have a “good day.” It would include that I had a hard time turning my neck for some of the photos, and trying to overlook the sharp pain in my arms and shoulders so that I could have a fun day with my best friend. Despite some pain and difficulties, this is an overall happy photo for me to look back at.

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This photo tells a different story. It was taken two years ago by my cousin Kristin. A bunch of my relatives were visiting for Thanksgiving and since Kristin is a photographer, we decided to take a few family photos outside. I was freezing and wore a giant puffy coat until we got to the bridge across the street from my house. My head was spinning, so after a few shots I shivered all the way home where I promptly went to my room to take a nap in hopes of sleeping off some of my POTS symptoms. I didn’t get to help make the dessert — one of my favorite Thanksgiving activities — and I missed out on a lot of quality family time because I wasn’t feeling well enough to sit around and visit with everyone. I stayed in my room much of the visit, sleeping or watching Netflix, as there wasn’t a comfortable place for me to sit in the living room with my family. Even sitting up can be exhausting with POTS, as the blood rushes away from my brain and makes me dizzy.

I still don’t think of myself as being very different than anyone else. I have been sick for so long now part of me feels like my life has always been like this. I don’t really remember what it’s like being able to go to a store by myself without planning where I can get water with electrolytes, as I cannot carry my own water bottle for more than a few minutes at a time. Sometimes I feel like the rest of my life was a beautiful dream; I remember so many of the good parts of not being sick that I almost glorify regular life now. I think back to being able to go clubbing with friends and feeling carefree rushing around the streets of New York City. I remember how amazing running felt and miss the burning in my lungs from training out in the cold, crisp fall weather.

I remember how life was before I got sick and sometimes wish I could go back and fully enjoy the time I had. I wasted so much time worrying about the future and my plans that I didn’t even realize that whether or not I like it, I might not be in control of my own life — at least to an extent. I can’t work, and I act like going to doctor appointments as often as a full time job is a normal thing. All of my college dreams were shattered the day I got sick. I still do dream of being better one day and being able to write for a living. I want to be independent again one day, and I would love to be able to train for even just a 5K.

You can’t see my disability, but it’s there every minute of every day. Having POTS has been a great lesson to me that just because someone looks healthy or looks happy doesn’t mean that they are. Looks can be deceiving. You never really know a person until you hear their story.