I grew up singing – in school chorus, church choir, and of course, at home. In high school, I was in my school’s a capella group called the Madrigals. When we were at our best, we came together and created beautiful harmonies and lifted up our souls together. Of course, no group of teenagers can function without a crap ton bit of drama. I loved singing with this group most of the time, but especially around the holidays. Christmas and holiday songs are just the best to sing with a group of people.
Some of my favorite memories singing with the Madrigals are from this time of year. We learned probably 15 or more Christmas and Hanukkah songs, traditional and modern, and were the most focused during practice that we had ever been. We had our regular holiday concert, but were also booked to sing at events. We sang at country clubs, rich peoples’ dinner parties, DC parties held by government people (I honestly can’t remember who or where but I remember it was a block from the White House), and we even sang at the Robert E. Lee House in Arlington National Cemetery. Twice, we wore big old hoop dresses and tuxes for these performances. After performing in downtown DC, we all walked through the city in our get-ups and caroled on street corners just for fun, because we loved the way we sounded together and didn’t want to stop singing! One night, we all got together and caroled through our neighborhoods to spread the cheer, practice our songs, and actually hang out together outside of the other mandatory performances. When a group of ~15 high schoolers all voluntarily meet up to walk around in the cold and sing to random people on a weeknight, you know something’s going right.
So needless to say, I have a soft spot for choral music and Christmas carols. It wouldn’t be surprising to find me in the middle of July listening to one of the Pentatonix holiday albums on repeat for a week straight! Now that it’s mid-November, I think I can start listening to Christmas music without shame… so here’s one of my favorites to get you into the right mood for the season!!!
After four wonderful years together, Ben and I got married on August 9, 2015 at Whitehall Estate in Bluemont, Virginia. It was one of the best days of my life!!
All wedding photo cred goes to Two Spoons Photography!
We got engaged in August 2014 and started wedding planning around November 2014. We wanted a simple, personal wedding, and worked hard to make that happen with the support of our families and friends. Planning the wedding was incredibly exciting, but a little overwhelming, and I’m glad to be done with it and moving on to the next big thing in our lives.
I’ve been loving the fall weather here in Ohio. Surprise – it’s just like fall in Virginia and Massachusetts! As often as I can, I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny skies and chilly weather by going for long walks. As always, I want to improve my photography, and dusted off my camera a few days ago to take some pictures around the neighborhood.
What made her a great storyteller is that she saw herself as the fascinating main character in the wild story of her life.
Ever since I heard about the whole idea of blogging, I’ve wanted to write a blog. I love reading memoirs, and want my blog to read as a mini memoir/journal/place where I unload my thoughts.
I’ve tried blogging multiple times, but just like every diary I started as a kid, the blogs never stuck. If my past blogs were in the physical form of a diary, they would have hundreds of blank pages left unfilled. I don’t really have a direction for this blog, though I wish I did, so this one is simultaneously easier and more difficult to write for. I can write whatever I want, and it doesn’t have to follow a theme or be about a specific subject. And so what would make people want to read it? What makes me want to write for it? Is it for views, or to keep my family and friends updated? Is it a personal journal, or is it to someday get internet famous?
I’ve shied away from writing for this blog many evenings because when I went to write, I felt ashamed that this blog seems to have no purpose or reason. Is this post going to make people think my blog is super serious and about deep thoughts? Will people (readers? What readers?) think my blog is dumb and whiny and full of first-world problems? This blog has no name – shouldn’t it have a name?
And so this post below is something I’m going to keep open in a tab on my laptop – every time those thoughts pop into my head while I’m trying to build my blog, I will remind myself that I am enough. There’s no pressure for my blog to be anything from anyone, and that’s a beautiful, freeing notion.
“What if the next time we sat down to write, we didn’t worry about being interesting, we didn’t worry about being liked, and we didn’t worry about being reblogged?”
August 9, 2015 ranks pretty damn high as one of the best days of my life. Ben and I exchanged vows (that we wrote ourselves) in front of 100 of our closest friends and family members. We got married and had the reception at Whitehall Manor in Bluemont, Virginia. Everything came together wonderfully and we are so happy – it’s been a week and a half and we still can’t stop grinning ear-to-ear!
Four days after the wedding, we moved out to Dayton, Ohio, which is where we will be for the next few years. Ben is currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and is attending graduate school with the Air Force Institute of Technology here for a year and a half. His next assignment might be here in Ohio as well, so we’re excited to start putting down some roots. We’re staying in temporary housing on base (and counting the days) until we can move into the perfectawesomebeautifulamazing house in Kettering, Ohio that we just signed the lease on yesterday! I’m still looking for a job, but I know I’ll find something I enjoy doing soon enough. We are quickly finding our favorite parts of Dayton and already have coffee shops we’re planning on being regulars at. Before we moved here, people kept mentioning how nice Ohioans (Buckeyes?? I don’t know what to call them) are, and that is definitely true so far. We are being welcomed with open arms and I’m really looking forward to the next few years here!
Excuses, excuses, I haven’t blogged since October. Whoops! I’ve had a lot going on in the past few months and wasn’t feeling inspired to keep up with writing blog posts. As always, I’m hoping to revive the blog again!
I should probably catch y’all up on what you’ve been missing, but “you” = mostly friends and family, so you probably already know about most of these things, but what the heck! Since I last wrote a post, here are some things that have been going on in my life:
I graduated from Wheaton College with honors, with a double major in Early Childhood Education and Women’s & Gender Studies! It was an exciting day and I am missing my college friends hardcore. Senior week included a graduation ball at a Newport mansion, a final candle lighting ceremony, and too many goodbyes.
I’m getting married to Ben on August 9, 2015! WOOHOO!!!
We are moving to Dayton, Ohio – the week after we get married. We’re crazy, I know.
I finished up an internship with The Horn Book, a publication that reviews children’s and young adult literature.
I went to the NHL Winter Classic with my friend Lisa! Go Capitals!!!
I finished up my semester as a student teacher in kindergarten and second grade. It was a challenging and wonderful experience, and my supervising teachers helped me gain so much confidence as a teacher. I think about my students all the time, and wish I could still be there in the classroom with them.
Getting my (fake) diploma from Prez Hanno!
Best friends and college grads
With my friend Christina!
With the candle I saved from my freshman year
On the first night we spent at Wheaton, as a class we stood around the pond and lit candles together. On our last night, we lit them again and floated them out into the pond.
All gussied up with Ben at Rosecliff (the Newport mansion)
A sweet, sweet note from one of my second graders!
Adorable drawing from two of my kindergarteners 🙂
Staff appreciation project
At the Winter Classic!
Too excited about hockey with Lisa
Engagement photos by Two Spoons Photography!
2015 has been a busy and exciting year so far, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds in store for me!
Ben and I decided to spend two days and a night on Martha’s Vineyard as a part of our attempt to make the most out of our short time left in the Boston area. We had visited once before for a day trip with people from his office, and loved it so much that we’ve been trying to find a time to return ever since!
We went the “adventurous” route (not really that adventurous – it can just be hit or miss sometimes) by booking a room on Airbnb for the night. We used Airbnb a lot when we were in Ireland, with mixed results, and wanted to test it out here in the states. A lot of Airbnb postings are for a single room that someone isn’t using in their house, so it’s not expected to be like a “true” B&B type experience, and there’s always the chance that the hosts are nutballs!!
I think we lucked out with this one – while a lot of the exterior of the house is under construction by the owners, and a bit of the bathroom is too, it’s so cozy. The construction actually gives it a nice fresh wood smell! Our bed is a king size memory foam mattress, and I had never slept on one before – AMAZING!!! It was a rainy, humid day, so a perfect day for an afternoon nap!
The hosts are really friendly, and immediately gave us tips for places to eat. The first thing they said was, “You have to try back door donuts!” Apparently, Martha’s Vineyard Cafe & Bakery, regular bakery by day, opens their back door by their kitchen from 7 pm to 12:58 am to serve fresh-baked old fashioned donuts, apple fritters, and more. So, no brainer, we went after dinner. I apologize for the crappy photo quality!!
Martha’s Vineyard on a rainy Saturday evening in October is not exactly hopping, and felt a little desolate, but as soon as we rounded the corner behind post office and bakery to find this “secret” place, there were a good ten people all standing around in line and eating donuts! There’s info about it online, like on Yelp, but there are signs at the door telling customers to keep it a secret – it’s just too good to keep quiet about!!
I got an apple fritter, and Ben got a cinnamon roll. They were about $4.00 each, so I had high hopes but wasn’t sure what to expect. And man, those hopes were met, to say the least! The fritter was the size of my head and was warm and fresh, and probably the most delicious dessert I’ve ever eaten. It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, glazed, and had chunks of apple throughout it. I may have finished the whole thing myself…
It was so fun to find a hidden (delicious) gem while we were on this short trip. The food was awesome, quick, and it was pretty cool to be able to watch them make everything in the kitchen while we ordered! I’m pretty sure we’ll need to come back to Martha’s Vineyard again – if not just for the donuts!
Classic Margaret, it has been almost two full months since I last posted. Last time I wrote a blog post, I had just about finished up my internship, and my boyfriend Ben was coming to visit me in Ireland for a week of traveling and adventures.
That week resulted in this:
Credit to http://michellebgphotography.com/
We’re engaged!!! And we couldn’t be more happy 🙂 it was a wonderful surprise and he proposed in such a beautiful place. Wedding planning has been taking the back burner to school/work for us, and we’re not sure of the date yet, but it has been heartwarming to hear/see the reaction of all of our family and friends. We have such a supportive, loving network of people that we are so grateful for.
Now back to the purpose of this blog post… DECISIONS!
One place we went while traveling around Ireland in our tiny, but speedy, rental car was the Brú na Bóinne, a World Heritage Site in County Meath. This area has been inhabited for over 6,000 years, and is the site of some pretty dang awesome prehistoric stone tombs and other old things. We only had time to visit one of these sites – Newgrange.
Some of the ancient art – you can’t take photos inside!
Outside of Newgrange
Newgrange is estimated to have been built around 3200 BC, so well before the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge. No one really knows who built it, or what the exact purpose of it was, but it turns out that it’s aligned with the rising sun during the winter solstice. As they demonstrated (with electric lights) when we got the chance to go inside the stone structure, the light floods the passage in and makes it all the way in to the center of the chamber – which is even more impressive when you realize that the entrance passage is curved and the light enters from a roof box above the entrance stone. Inside the chamber, there’s all kinds of amazing carvings and Neolithic rock art as well.
An illustration of how the sunlight shines into the chamber during the Winter Solstice
An image from the 2004 Winter Solstice – http://www.knowth.com/winter-solstice_2004.htm
To be able to experience the Winter Solstice here, you have to enter a lottery at the visitor center, where they choose 50 winners at the end of September. Each chosen person can bring someone else, and they get assigned a day to come over the 5 days that the sun is scheduled to shine through – weather permitting. Ben and I thought it would be fun to enter, so we sat at the visitor center for a good fifteen minutes filling out a bunch of applications, smiling and joking that it was a waste of time since we would never get picked. I think we may have put in ten each!
As time went by and the excitement of the engagement overwhelmed us, we totally forgot that we entered – fast forward to Tuesday, September 30th, at around 9:20 am, when I was checking my email while heading to class. Ben had forwarded me an email that said…
I am writing to you from Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre to let you know that your application form to attend the Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Co Meath, Ireland was one of those picked out by local school children on September 26th 2014. There were 30,532 applications altogether. Many congratulations!
I called him immediately and we started freaking out about how amazing this opportunity would be. Ever since I left Ireland, I’ve wanted to go back. I miss being there so much, and being able to attend the Winter Solstice at Newgrange together would truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The chances of us getting chosen were so slim, and we never expected it!
Now comes the decision part… Flying to Ireland, finding a place to stay, getting a rental car, and generally traveling are all so expensive. We just got back from the expensive trip to Ireland in August and hadn’t really budgeted for paying for a second one in December. Our parents have graciously given us engagement presents which would help pay for the trip, and we could dip into our savings to finance the rest of it. We have the time to go, but spending the money isn’t necessarily the most financially responsible thing to do right now.
But… it would be a dream come true to be able to travel together and see something that so very few people get to experience. We will always have a special place in our hearts for Ireland, especially since we got engaged there and have an insane number of happy memories from that week long trip. I’m sure this trip would be something we would never forget.
I hate hard decisions!
So here’s where you (the reader? Do you actually exist? Or am I just pretending that people actually read my blog…) come in. Help us decide what to do!