Marriage; Year Three

I meant to write this post yesterday but …. I got sidetracked.

Yesterday, Farmer Ben and I celebrated our third year of marriage.

This year has been crazy! Not that we have too many years to speak of, but I have to say, this has probably been the most eventful to date…We’ve experienced a lot of changes in life and as a couple but we are in it together!

I’m very blessed to have such a wonderful husband.

We didn’t do anything extravagant yesterday… but I woke up to Ben smiling at me and fell asleep next to him, the way we do every night.

And that’s how it should be.

Happy Anniversary, Benjamin! I love you!

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Oh Hey! It’s March

Hi Friends! 

Can you believe February is over? 

I realize that things have been a little quiet on the blog as of late, but I can assure you that I’ve been running, eating delicious things, spilling stuff on myself and being a weirdo, per usual. 

I’ve spent the last two weeks doing some major race planning items. I had a planning meeting last Friday and pestered a bunch of local businesses whenever I had any free time…Seriously, I glanced at the list I have and it appears that we have already contacted over 130 businesses…. not too shabby for January and February! 

I also got the official word that Clif will be sending us some sample size bars for the race! That will be in addition to a ton of other goodies we’ll be getting…. I’m so excited about this, I can barely handle it! 

In other news, I am absolutely loving my new running shoes. I’m sad because they’ve gotten a little dirty with all of the mud/rain we’ve had….but it’s fine. They’ve even helped motivate me to go out and run on my lunch break a few days last week. 

Wednesday, I talked Farmer Ben into meeting me for a lunch run (on his day off), even though it was so cold that my face hurt and we could barely breathe!  We only ended up doing a little over two miles but it was well worth it.

As we started running, he looked over at me and said, “Noelle, you are my ONLY motivation for being out here right now.”
 

That comment had me smiling for the rest of the run and the rest of the day! 

I know he was trying to be funny… but, seriously? Swoon! I love that guy! 

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Our favorite kind of date....

It got me thinking about what my motivation is. I’ve discussed this before, so I won’t go into great detail, but I’d love to hear what motivates you…especially on your “I don’t want to do this!” days. 

So, let’s discuss, what is YOUR motivation for getting out and running…even when it’s so cold that it makes your face hurt? 


A Day Off in Vermont: Run to Chocolate

Happy Monday Friends!

How was your weekend? Mine was pretty spectacular. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with the hubby, but we also knocked off two races this weekend!

Friday night was spent hanging out with the teens in our youth group. P.S.: I’m starting to feel really old when I make movie/music references and they have zero idea what I am talking about….sigh… but other than that, we had a good time.

Run to Chocolate (2 Miles):

On Saturday, Farmer Ben and I got up early, layered up, packed a bag with extra clothes and headed across the lake.

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It was frozen

After we got off the ferry, we stopped at Wally’s Bagels for breakfast and coffee. If you’ve never been, check them out. Best. Bagels. Ever. I went with egg and spicy cheddar on a rosemary olive oil bagel.

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Farmer Ben is not impressed

Once we had our bagels, we jumped on the highway and headed north to Fairfax, Vermont. It actually wasn’t too long of a trip. Even better, I can finally say that I have driven on a covered bridge…unfortunately, I forgot to document this with a photo.

The hubby and I got to the school where the race was held about 40 minutes before starting time. Luckily, it was a pretty low-key event, so we had plenty of time to register, stretch and stay in the warm gym.

We lucked out with the weather, it was a beautiful, sunny day… but the course was snow-covered and slippery. It was an out and back on a dead end road, complete with a nice uphill toward the end… coming back through the school parking lot for the finish was a little tricky, so I didn’t have my usual kick.  Farmer Ben ran the race in 17:34 and I finished at 18:44, not too shabby for the conditions.

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Finish photo

After the race, we walked back into the gym to find tables of chocolate. There were chocolate bars, truffles, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, hot chocolate and a chocolate fountain. The chocolate bars, truffles and fountain were all local. Heck yes! We even scored a few Fleet Feet $10 certificates… not too shabby for a $10 registration fee!

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Terrible photo of the chocolate fountain

Farmer Ben and I got some hot chocolate and brownies and grabbed some of the other chocolate goodness for later. We ended up chatting with two women from Hardwick, VT and even talked them in to coming across the lake for Strides for James!

After the race, we headed to Fleet Feet so I could pick up a new pair of running shoes. The staff sized me, did a gait analysis and then had me try on a few pairs of shoes and watched me run on the treadmill. I ended up getting the Mizuno Wave Inspire 10….with $35 off.

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Cannot wait to break these in

Then, we went to Chipotle. And we had a gift card.

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Happy Hubs

After Chipotle we headed to downtown Burlington and meandered around Church Street.

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Ice sculptures in Church Street

We ended up going to the Saratoga Olive Oil Company and came out with 4 bottles…1 was free!

I guess you could say Saturday was the day of the discount!

Overall it was a great day off and it was so fun to race with the hubby!

How was your weekend? Did you race? Would you run for chocolate?!


Love and Meatballs

Hi friends!

I don’t know about you, but I am getting sick of this snow! Getting to work was a bit rough this morning (luckily Farmer Ben drove me).

Life has been crazy and I’ve been a bad blogger-my apologies!

In other news, Happy Valentine’s Day!

Doing anything special? We don’t normally do much, but I couldn’t resist doing something cheesy….So, I sent the hubby a meatball pizza at work….meatballs in a heart shape.

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He loved it! I’m so glad, because he’s pretty great… and he got to share the love with his coworkers!

That’s all for today… Have a great weekend!

Best Valentine you’ve given? Received?!


Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?

Hi Friends!

Can we have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation? I need to unload a bit…there are a lot of thoughts roaming around in my brain!

I am a big ball of nerves and randomness lately…not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not. But, as strange as it sounds, I feel more focused and clear-headed than I have in months. It’s strange; I’m all over the place, yet… I have it together (in my head anyway). Does that make any sense? Have you ever felt like that? I just feel like something big is coming… what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s something important!

I’m looking forward, hopeful…but I’m also enjoying the present (mostly). This is something that I’ve always struggled with and this feeling of hope and moving forward is relatively new—and exciting! I’m ready to challenge myself and to do bigger things than I think are possible…it’s scary territory but I am finding it’s exciting and helps me push past those feelings of uncertainty.

I try to keep this relatively light-hearted on the blog… I also don’t hide my faith, but I don’t discuss it very often in this space. However, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can be truthful and open. I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time but I wasn’t sure if the time was right… today feels like the right day to take a chance and to make a confession.

The winter months are typically very difficult for me. I struggle.

I have a hard time being my best self in the winter. I don’t know how else to explain it and I never understood it in my younger years, it was just something I dealt with…I still don’t completely understand it and I still “just deal” with it.

When I was a kid,  I’d push my feelings down and focus on something else… then I would eventually have a melt-down and repeat. Not the best way to deal with things, but it got me through.

As I got older, I had a harder time dealing and pushing my feelings away. I would go to work every day, but on weekends I would hide away, not changing out of my pajamas and just trying to block the world out. Or I would cling to other people, other things, put all of my hope on them for my happiness and self-worth, which automatically set them (and me) up for failure. I never talked about my struggle.

I vividly remember a conversation with someone close to me during a particularly bad year. I was having more frequent meltdowns because I couldn’t find a good distraction and things were falling apart before my eyes, I couldn’t deny it much longer. We were having an argument and he looked at me and said “Why can’t you just be happy?”

I was stunned. And I couldn’t answer, so I did what I always did; ended the conversation and cried myself to sleep that night.

I had asked myself the same question several times but I had never uttered it out loud… I would make up excuses and just tell myself that I wasn’t happy…yet. That it wasn’t my fault. But even though the same question had always tugged at my heart, no one had ever asked me that out loud… and it hurt. It made me feel like a freak…a failure.

Even though I never answered him and that person is no longer in my life, that question has haunted me. (Looking back, I realize how completely insensitive that question was…but he had every right to ask it, even if I couldn’t answer it.)

I blamed my failure at happiness for making my life fall apart (this happened a few months after that conversation).  I took all of the blame; it was all my fault because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, my job wasn’t good enough,  I wasn’t HAPPY enough. I was messed up. Looking back, I realize that this is all bull shit (pardon my French). Yes, I did some stupid, terrible things, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And it’s never entirely one person’s fault.

It was a God thing… I needed to be broken so I could be made stronger. And I’ve never been more grateful for a series of events.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, this time in my life came up and she asked if I was truly “over it.” Answering as honestly as I could, I said, “Yes. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get upset thinking about certain things, but I have no ill will. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still painful to think about at times, but it’s because I didn’t like the person I was then. And thinking about that former self is difficult.”

A lot has changed in the years that have passed since that question was spoken into existence.

I’ve regained my faith as a direct result of things falling apart.  It’s incredibly freeing to know that no matter how much I mess up, God is there. That He will take care of anything I give to him, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.  Yes, I still have responsibility, but He’s behind me.

I still struggle with “just being happy,” especially in the winter months, but I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system that gets it and the ability to find joy in the small things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get down and I don’t get depressed…however, I don’t pin all my hopes and future happiness on other people and events…that’s just not realistic. But I do things that make me happy and I try not to over-obsess about the negative. And I try to be a better person and to help others.

If I’m having an off day, I admit it. Embrace it. And I talk about it… then I try to find the good and move on. Some days, this a lot harder than others.

In recent years, people ask me a completely new question and it always catches me off guard: Why/how am I “always so happy?” Quite a change, right? The answer is simple; I’m not. But, I don’t let my off days consume me as they once did.

In my slightly older/not-that-much-wiser years, I’ve discovered there are things that help me.

The number one thing is my faith, the second thing is my incredibly understanding and hilarious husband, Farmer Ben.

Running helps. A lot of people assume that I run because I want to get/stay in shape. That’s not the reason (most of the time). I run because it reminds me that I can survive and that I can persevere. It makes me feel strong and brings me a joy that I can’t completely explain. It’s also my time to talk to God. Running helps me get out of my head, get out my frustrations and my fears and just helps me … to be.

Speaking of talking to God, prayer. I’ve been a “re-Christian” for almost five years and sometimes I still have a hard time with prayer, especially praying in front of other people…but I’m finding that practice makes perfect and HE can do amazing things.

Another thing I’ve found is reading my Bible helps. I’ve always been bad about reading, but this year I am making a concentrated effort at making this a daily habit. It’s amazing what you find reading through this book. David, for example, was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he STRUGGLED. He faced so many challenges; including someone trying to kill him… and he also struggled with “just being happy.” The first time I really read Psalms and paid attention, I was overwhelmed….speechless.

I had a lot of hard lessons to learn before I could “just be happy” and I probably still do. I suffered a lot of heartache and setbacks, but it forced me to take responsibility, to take a long look at myself and it made me move forward. Again, I’m far from perfect, but I’ve I feel like I am finally there–or at least a lot closer–even with my off days and my struggles…I’m in a good place and I’ve been incredibly blessed. Great things are happening, and there’s a plan for me (and you!) in spite of those times when I don’t feel like my best self.

Why can’t YOU just be happy?


To Farmer Ben

Today is a special day. You were born.

Happy birthday to an amazing husband, best friend and soul mate. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share my life with. Cheers to the youngest 31-year-old I have the pleasure of knowing!

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I love you!

This year’s birthday celebrations will be low-key. We’ll be enjoying some of Farmer Ben’s favorites: Mac & cheese, homemade cake and some vino…or beer.

Feel free to give the hubs a birthday shout-out in the comments!


Confessions: Daylight Savings Edition

Hi Friends!

Can we talk about how foolish I was when I believed that life would slow down after the marathon? Yeah, call me crazy. Regardless, life’s been pretty good lately. Also, confession: I started writing this post last week…and am just now publishing…fail.

Prepare yourselves, this is going to be RANDOM!

As you know, I am officially 26 as of a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t feel much different than 25, other than I didn’t have a birthday meltdown. I’ll call it a win! How did I celebrate? A margarita and nachos with girlfriends, of course! On my actual birthday, I woke up to a delicious breakfast of filet mignon, homemade hash browns and a fried egg. Perfection.

My excuse for being absent? I’ve been insanely busy at work and in spite of some major technology/communication issues, extremely productive. I’ve managed to finish some special projects that have been hanging over my head and am able to focus on other things, at least for now. As a result of this busy-ness, I haven’t even wanted to look at a computer outside of work/on my lunch break. My bad.

Also, does anyone else get completely weird with daylight savings? I just can’t get a handle on it. Hence my writing this post more days after Daylight Savings than I care to admit….

In other news, I’m super excited because my friend Tina is not only doing the Turkey Trot this year (AND, Vanessa, too–I think!), but she asked me to run the loop with her a couple of weeks ago. She may have thought it was a mistake when I made her run up the hills, but she was glad when it was all said and done. I’m still waiting for her invite to run the loop again…

Post-forcing Tina to run up the last hill!

Post-forcing Tina to run up the last hill!

Other than that, I did a race three weekends ago. My friend Kristy and I even went in costume…kind of. She did an awesome job of painting our faces. Read about it here.

Big news! Farmer Ben and I finally bought a new bed. Not only did we upgrade from a full to a queen, but we also went with memory foam, and let me tell you, I have not slept so well in a LONG time. We also got a ridiculously good deal.

In fact, between daylight savings and our new bed, getting up in the morning is damn near impossible!

Moving on, Farmer Ben made bagels. While cooking dinner. I know I’ve said this before, but how amazing is he?!

My Mad Scientist

My Mad Scientist

I love Farmer Ben.

I love Farmer Ben.

Breakfast was epic last week…

And dinner? Even better.  What he made while making bagels:

Pan-fried (garden) potatoes, grass-fed bison steak and homemade sweet-and-sour (local) cabbage.

Pan-fried (garden) potatoes, grass-fed bison steak and homemade sweet-and-sour (local) cabbage.

In other food news, I’ve been craving greens lately. Greens and anything kind of related to tacos/nachos.

On the running front, I’ve been bad about getting out and running (shocker, I know), but I have a run planned after work (Hi Kristy!) and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be updating my schedule to include workouts this week. I am still deciding if I want to a December half marathon for giggles… and I have it narrowed down to two races! One of them will be free if I can find a volunteer…any takers? It’s in Gloucester, MA…. The other is in New Hampshire…apparently I like torturing myself by running in freezing weather….

This weekend was marvelous. I slept in on Saturday, drove the hubby to work, came home, vegged out with a movie, took a nap, caught up on some reading and discovered an awesome new workout app. I’ll fill you in a little more on my next post, but I am still sore today.

Big shoutout to my friend Chelsea on her most recent 5k. She ran a kick-ass race and improved her time by about 9 minutes. 9 minutes!!!! Amazing!

Happy Monday!

Tell me, what’s your favorite breakfast? What foods are you craving lately? Any winter races on the docket? Give me a random update!


Scenes from a Full Weekend and a Confession

Hi Friends!!!

Life has been moving pretty fast around these parts lately…I’m looking forward to some much-needed time off and a road trip with Farmer Ben, later this week (Georgia and South Carolina, here we come!).

This weekend, I went to a women’s conference with some ladies from my church in Worcester, MA…this was a completely new experience for me and one that I needed.

I actually hemmed and hawed about going because, well… I just felt like I wouldn’t have time…but I made time and it was so worth it!

Not only did Natalie Grant lead worship (so powerful!), but we got to see some great speakers. I learned a lot and came back feeling refreshed and empowered.

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo...

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo…

My favorite speaker was definitely Valorie Burton.

Valorie Burton...I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

Valorie Burton…I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

I mentioned that this conference was something I needed and I found Valorie’s workshop especially relevant to some things I am dealing with right now.

I got home from the conference really late and Farmer Ben and I were up bright and early on Sunday Morning to volunteer with our church for our Faith in Action Sunday… basically, the congregation divides up into groups and does various service projects around town…

Our group went to a local park and raked leaves…for three hours. By the time we left the park, we had 97 giant bags of leaves and a ton of piles that we just didn’t have the man-power to bag. Needless to say, I am sore today and have some really attractive blisters on my hands.

After volunteering we went to my mother’s house and took a quick shopping trip… I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I absolutely despise shopping at Wal-Mart…This shopping trip reminded me why. I think I’ve had my fill of misbehaving, screaming children and rude people for the next three years.

We dropped my mom off and then headed to our friends’ house to make a quick dinner.

I made this mac & cheese from Pinch of Yum and fooled their son into eating butternut squash. Not only was it delicious, but it only had 1 cup of cheese in a double recipe!

Delicious.

Delicious.

After dinner, I whipped up these cookies…they were also a hit.

Farmer Ben and I finally made it home at about 9pm and I immediately went to bed.

Other than that, life has been good…

We’ve been going to the market.

$1 for this entire bag of "imperfect produce"

$1 for this entire bag of “imperfect produce”

This was $38...$20 for local meat and cheese.

This was $38…$20 for local meat and cheese.

Hubby bought me some beautiful flowers from a local farm….

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And we’ve been enjoying the weather. I finally got to break in my sweet orange wind-breaker from the race.

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And now for a confession… 

My biggest frustration at the moment is that I haven’t run since my marathon. I took a few days off for recovery and, much to my dismay, ended up having to work both jobs for the entire week following the race.

Running a marathon and then working 12-15 hour days for five days is not conducive to recovery.

That Saturday, I was going to go for a short run but I started having a weird pain behind my knee. It hasn’t gone away. It’s more annoying that downright painful and almost feels like a snap or a pinch…does that make any sense?

It’s not my knee… but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did some google-ing and am guessing that it’s either a baker’s cyst or a meniscus but doesn’t feel painful enough to be either.

I did notice that the pain was a little more annoying this past week, depending on what I am doing. Yesterday, it was pretty uncomfortable and by the end of raking it was burning.

Any ides as to what this is?

I broke down and went to a walk-in doctor but honestly, he was no help. He felt around and played with my knee, stood back and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you…I have no idea what to tell you!”

Super helpful, right? I did, however, finally get a full physical, for the first time in at least five years.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that doctor as, honestly, I found him a bit kooky (and that is saying a lot, coming from me), but it’s nice to know that as far as he could tell, I am perfectly healthy.

Anyway, I have a friend who works for a knee specialist and she offered to get me an appointment… it sounds silly, but I am putting it off because I am convinced it’s actually nothing and will feel silly if I turn out to be right.

These are the things that go through my head… sigh.

Well…that’s all for now… It’s going to be a short work week and a lot of driving. I cannot wait!

What have you been up to? What are your weird aches and pains? Cooky doctors-discuss. Butternut Squash, yes or no?


All Dolled Up

As you know, yesterday the hubby and I celebrated two years of marriage. Here’s a little recap.

For breakfast, Farmer Ben made cinnamon swirl French Toast with mascarpone and his homemade strawberry topping…along with some super strong French Roast. Divine.

Delicious-ness.

Delicious-ness.

I had planned on making a special anniversary dinner, but between working like a mad-woman, wedding things and an unexpected trip to my mother’s house after work, I had neither the time nor the ambition to cook anything last night.

Luckily, we had a gift certificate to use at a local fancy-schmancy restaurant.

I hurried home after visiting with my mother and hurried to get all dolled up.  I also need to mention that I love having short hair because it literally cuts getting ready time in half. The perks of having an awesome hair stylist.

Ben came home and saw that I was dressed up and asked where we were going.

He later admitted that he wanted to jump up and down and yell, “Yes! We’re going out!!!”

I’ll let you imagine that for a moment.

Anyway, after making a quick reservation and giving Ben some time to get ready, we headed out the door.

This was our first time at this restaurant and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately Ben wouldn’t let me take any photos of our food, but I will tell you that it was delicious and we will be going back. We started our with a bottle of Spanish red…obviously, my pick.

I forced Ben to take pictures before our wine came out.

Pre-dinner photos:

So handsome.

So handsome.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

Please notice my gorgeous tan-lines.

After I forced politely asked our server to take a picture of us on our anniversary, we each received a complimentary glass of champagne. Winning!

We really do like each other!

We really do like each other!

Anyway, I’m sure you’re interested in what we had for dinner. I know that’s all I would want to know….

Appetizer:

The house smoked salmon. And complimentary olives, baguette and butter…all were devoured.

Entrees:

Ben ordered an elk steak special and oh my goodness it was good.

I ordered twin filets with tawny port and a gorgonzola demi…totally worth it. I have a weakness for gorgonzola, so–completely unlike my normal dining experience–I knew exactly what I was going to have within two minutes of looking over the menu.

Both of our entrees came with smashed potatoes (not the bagged kind that most restaurants get!), carrots and green beans topped with REAL Hollandaise. Yum!

For dessert, we split the crème brulee. Again, fantastic.

Although the prices were higher than most places in the area, it was totally worth it…even if we hadn’t had a gift certificate that covered most of our bill. Maybe it’s because I work in a restaurant, but I didn’t find anything over-priced, especially for the quality of the food.

The food was good and hand-crafted, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was perfect for a quiet dinner for two–not too casual and not overly pretentious, either.  We left with full bellies and happy mouths.

Overall it was a perfect evening.

If you’re in the area and looking for a great restaurant, check out Anthony’s Restaurant and Bistro.

What about you? Where do you go to celebrate? What is your go-to meal when you order? Do you take forever or do you know right away? Are you an obnoxious photo-taker like me? Wine: Red or White? Domestic or imported?

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today… I won’t be posting too much over the next few days at it is wedding weekend for our dear friends! I can’t wait for the celebrations. So, happy early weekend!


Two Years Ago…

Two years ago today, Farmer Ben and I got married. It has been an adventure, each and every day…and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend this life with. This man is such a blessing!

Anyway, I was going through some old photos of us and thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane.

Our rehearsal dinner:

The day before our wedding.... August 2011

The day before our wedding…. August 2011

 

Our wedding day:

The first of many "happiest days of my life."  (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

The first of many “happiest days of my life.” (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

In the last two years, we’ve run a few races together…

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Wounded Warrior Run, May (?) 2012

Ragnar Relay Finish Line!

Ragnar Relay Finish Line! September 2012

Turkey Trot, November 2012

Turkey Trot, November 2012

We’ve taken a few road trips….

Finger Lakes Bound, August 2012

Finger Lakes Bound, August 2012

Food Experiments at the Brooklyn Brewery, December 2012

Food Experiments at the Brooklyn Brewery, December 2012

Boston for a Sox Game, June 2013

Boston for a Sox Game, June 2013

We’ve gone to some fiestas, celebrations and weddings…

Wedding, June 2012

Wedding, June 2012

And worked together…

A typical day...

A typical day…

We’ve climbed mountains together….literally and figuratively.

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

But the fact of the matter is that we’ve done everything together. We’re a team. Each and Every day.

Happy Anniversary, Farmer Ben. I love you, always!

Do you have an anniversary coming up? What do you and your person do together?