firmly planted friendships

(G and her bridal party; women who inspire me daily. photo shamelessly stolen from Katrina.)

 

I was in middle school when my mom told me, “show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are,” or something to that notion. As a twelve year old little girl, I had absolutely no idea how true this would ring throughout my life!

Earlier in the week, I received a text from a dear friend of mine, Angela, saying she was going to be in town over the weekend! I haven’t seen Angela since I was in high school, so I jumped at the opportunity to see her! Angela was my youth group leader my sophomore year, and she rocked. I can’t imagine how difficult her job was; Katie & I were not as in to our weekly meetings as we should’ve been, and we used the time to discuss our latest gossip rather than the gospel like we were supposed to. Angela always figured out a way to reel us back in each time and give us some sort of advice or reflection. I’m so thankful for her.

As I sat at dinner last night with Angela, her sweet sister, Anna, from In Honor of Design, and a few of their friends, I couldn’t help but thank God for placing such incredible women in my life! I really only knew Angela, and was meeting the rest of the girls for the first time, but it felt like I had known them for years. All of us are at different stages of our lives; Anna is a wife & mother, one of the other girls was newly married, and the rest of us were either single or just dating. Ordinarily, having such a random group of women meet for the first time would make for an awkward night; however, this was different. All these women shared a real love for The Lord and the conversations were beautiful. They were honest conversations about dating, work, marriage, and motherhood. You name it, we talked about it. Oh, it was so good!

The older I get, the more I have realized that when you have a true friendship with someone, and they have similar friendships with their friends, mixing groups of friends is easy. Take Geena’s bridal party for example, we were 5 friends and a whole bunch of sisters, and thats A LOT of different personalities mixing. But because we all shared a common love for Christ and Brad & Geena, we all got along so well. Between the 5 of her friends that stood up in her wedding, none of us live near each other. Cullen is all the way out West, in California, I’m in Chicago, Tara is in Philli, Liz in DC, and Theresa is in NY; but when we get together it feels like we’ve grown up together, like we were childhood friends that have been reunited. In reality, we rarely see each other and some of us have only known each other for a few short months.

The same thing goes for friends that I have known forever, and for the ones I’ve made more recently at college. The friendships that have lasted are the ones that have something deeper to them. We may have had commonalities at first, like being roommates or classmates, but the friendships that survived (ugh, for lack of a better word) are the ones that are rooted in something bigger. Sometimes, you may have nothing in common with someone, and God still turns an awkward walk around the park into a beautiful, eleven year and counting friendship.

The point in making, in case my rambling isn’t very clear, is that when you have a friendship planted firmly in Christ, it’s easy. The conversations flow, friends mingle so well, and days may pass without talking but there’s this deep love that doesn’t need daily talks, just an understanding that no matter what happens you’ll be the first one to answer a phone call or say a quick prayer in a time of need. And I don’t know about you, but to me, those are the BEST friendships.

it’s going to be great

(this awesome quote came in my October monthly bundle from Naptime Diaries, and I knew it was a sign!)

 

After many prayerful and tear-filled nights, I have decided to embark on a new journey! I made the decision to quit my incredible job here in Homer Glen, and move to the city of Chicago! I have agonized over this decision for months, trying to decide if I could handle the reverse commute from the city back to my job in the suburbs. After realizing that I would spend at least two hours a day in the car, and deciding that that alone could make me suicidal, I concluded that this was an all or nothing kinda thing! So I’m leaving the comforts (free wine/beer/food/laundry) of home and moving myself about 30 miles east, to my favorite place in the world with one of my dearest friends from college!

After I made this decision, I was so anxious about sharing the news with my boss and dear friend, Jeanette! I wasn’t worried about her being mad or not knowing how to tell her, I was worried that I would lose her family and her friendship. Immediately after telling her of my decision (in the middle of my tears) she kept telling me how excited she was for me! It doesn’t really get much better than that! She is such an incredible woman of God and has a huge heart, I am dreading the day when I have to say goodbye to her and her family!

Every, single person I have come across in the past week since I decided to uproot has been so, so supportive and excited for me!  I am really so genuinely blessed to have such positive people in my life! Please keep me in your prayers as I search for a new job/apartment!

xx, Melanie Elizabeth

I love, like seriously love, weddings

Betcha thought I was done blabbing about weddings- like Rosie’s, Cary’s and Geena’s… well, you thought wrong! You get to hear me go on and on about Laur’s wedding for a whole year and three days. And however long after that I choose to talk about it ;)

Remember yesterday, when I hoped my Monday would be as great as my Sunday, well, it was! Today, Lauren asked me to be her Maid of Honor! AHH! My wedding high may seriously never end and I’m A-OK with that! Champagne toasts turned into Margaritas with my family at Chilis which turned into shots at some biker bar in Lockport. We’ve had one heck of a MONDAY if you ask me! I’m guessing this is just a taste of how fun the wedding is going to be. September 18, 2015, I’m comin’ for ya!

Happy freakin’ Monday!

xx, Melanie Elizabeth

sundays are my favorite

Today was great. My mom, dad, Becca, and I ran to Costco (I live and breathe all things Costco) and to Home Goods. I could spend hours in Home Goods, too! I obviously just really like shopping. We helped Becs by apartment decor and also bought pillows to compliment our awesome new couch at home!!

We came home for lunch and homemade margaritas (YUM!) and then Nick, dad, and I went to play golf! Some of my favorite memories as a little girl are the ones where my mom and dad would take us kids to play golf in the late afternoon on the weekend! Dad would always let us take turns trying to hit the ball and never get frustrated when we still (on try number 6) couldn’t hit it. To my surprise, not much has changed. I haven’t picked up a club in years and it took me a while to get used to things again, but I loved being back on the course with my dad! Little Nick is actually REALLY good. He was even hitting some shots harder and farther than my dad! Maybe he’ll be my pass to The Masters ;)

I could get used to Sundays like this! Here’s to hoping Monday is just as great as Sunday.

xx, Melanie Elizabeth

things that bring me joy | nanny life

I absolutely love being a nanny, and I am extremely blessed to work for such an incredible family! Everyday I learn something new about “motherhood”  and myself. Here are just a few things that bring me joy:

– when I turn around in the car and find all the kids asleep
– an empty park, where the kids can do whatever they want and I don’t have to worry about them bothering anyone
– an older sibling to sit in the car with the kids while I run quickly into the store (as opposed to dragging all 7 in with me)
– a perfect summer day, where it’s warm enough to play outside, and not too hot where the kids refuse to go out
– 5 quiet minutes when all the kids have found something to distract themselves with
– a quick hug/kiss/snuggle with a sleepy toddler
– after a long day, when a meal just comes together… And everyone likes it
– Disney Jr. mornings
– when everyone gets ready and we’re out the door in less than 30 minutes
– a day when the kids and I pick up the house AND keep it clean until mom & dad get home
– becoming part of the family
– first steps and first words
– when the kids all play nicely together
– sharing in proud moments: a good report card, placing in science fair, or an awesome test score

and those are only a few that I can think of right now. Somedays (mostly tuesdays ;)) I have a few moments when I have to lock myself in the bathroom just for a second or two, but I honestly could not be happier, or luckier, to be able to call these sweet kiddos, and their parents, my family!

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(six of the seven with me during our trip to Disney World last summer! and no, I did not take them by myself… I’m not that crazy.)

best day ever | #bradandgeena

There are actually no words to describe how incredible Brad & Geena’s wedding was… Actually, how perfect & perfectly crazy the whole week was.

~pre wedding~

Let’s start at the very beginning. I took one of the first flights out of Midway on Monday morning to Baltimore and Mrs. Cooley picked me up. The wedding craziness began then! We ran errands, did lots of DIY projects, per Geena’s request, and had lots of wine, per Alex’s & my request! We kept joking that we were going to change the official hashtag from #bradandgeena to #melandmichelle because sweet Geena had to work all the way up till Wednesday so we had to make a lot of decisions with out her approval (luckily we know her very well and she loved everything)!! Mrs. Cooley, Alex, and I had a lot of fun staying up way too late doing wedding things! Alex’s wonderful boyfriend, Jake, even came in from NY to join the wedding fun and hand wrote all 150 place cards. My mom drove in on Thursday and got to join in on all the pre-wedding fun (and DIY)! I’m so, so happy she got to be a part of this special time!

I finally got to meet the WHOLE Harrington family and I love every single one of them, sister-in-laws too! They are the sweetest, most loving family and I’m just going to pretend I get to call them my new family also! The Cooleys & Harringtons mix perfectly and all the kids have new best friends! Saying goodbye to both families was really hard!

~rehearsal and dinner~

Mrs. Harrington threw the rehearsal dinner at the house they rented in Annapolis and the food was fantastic. That woman is awesome. Not only does she have 12 kids, she made TWO beautiful wedding cakes, and cooked a rehearsal dinner for almost 100 people. And she’s the sweetest lady! I now know why Brad is so nice; his parents are amazing!

After dinner on Friday, Liz, Theresa, Alex & I went to reception site to make sure everything was set up! When we finally got home, there were a lot of last minute errands to run and things to do. We didn’t get into bed until 1am or later. It was really cool to spend the last night with Geena as a Cooley! Before going to bed that night, our dear family friend, Mary Maher, lead us in the most beautiful prayer and in the middle of that prayer Mr. Cooley walked downstairs and was able to finish that prayer with us. It was a really sweet moment as we listened to a father pray for his daughter as she was about to enter into the sacrament of marriage.

~wedding day~

Our morning began nice & early. Alex & I had to be in the chair to get our hair done by 6 am! Shortly after that all 14 bridesmaids and 3 flower girls were in & out of hair & makeup chairs and before we knew it, Geena was waking down the stairs in her dress! The Mass was so beautiful, Brad & Geena we’re glowing and never stopped smiling once!

Photos after Mass were a lot of fun! Our photographers, Kimmie & Andrew, were THE BEST! Seriously, they were the most easy-going, fun to work with, and talented people. And what’s even better is that they’re engaged! They were so cute together! I’m currently in the process of convincing Lauren to use them for her wedding next year!

The reception was perfect! It looked absolutely magical in the room. Alex gave her MOH toast which was so lovely and then Brad’s oldest brother & Best Man, Chris, gave his toast which was awesome, too! It was such a fun afternoon of Photo Booth picture taking and dance offs between little Cooleys & Harringtons. After the reception was over, a handful of Brad’s Cal Rugby friends as well as myself and a few of Geena’s other girlfriends sat around a fire with a few bottles of wine & champagne and took turns making toasts to the new Mr. & Mrs. Harrington! Thanks, Cullen, for representing G’s friends! Unfortunately, by the time it was our turn, the guys had already had most of us in tears and Cullen was the only one who could keep herself composed long enough to say a few words. In the Cooley house, we call that a positive focus circle, and it was one of the best ones yet!

We kissed the bride and groom goodbye and headed downtown to continue the celebrations at a few Annapolis bars! I ended my celebrating a little earlier because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. I went to bed that night with THE BIGGEST smile on my face, because it truly was the best day ever.

~post wedding~

On Sunday morning, we got up and ran everyone back to their cars and houses. Theresa, Jake, and Alex caught a late train back to NY and the Cooleys and I went to Mass. After Mass, the Harringtons came over for one last get together. It was nice to just have an easy, no fuss dinner. I got to talk to Katrina (Brad & Geena’s beautiful sister-in-law) for a little and of course she had me in tears as she talked about how she knew Chris (her husband, obviously) was the one!

I flew home yesterday afternoon after a nice breakfast with the Cooleys and many, many hugs. While I am happy to be home, I am SO sad that this weekend is over! I’ve been waiting since February, when they got engaged… actually, I’ve been waiting since July 13, 2012, the day they met, for this day. And just like that, its over. I’m still on a wedding high and I’m hoping this lasts forever.

I’ll leave you with a few pictures, most of which I’ve already shared on Instagram or Facebook, and unfortunately I can claim very few as my own. Ms. Alex and Kimmie have the best photos so I’ve been stealing theirs.

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Bradley Harrington! Thank you for allowing me to be a witness to the incredible amount of love you have for each other and for including me in your best day ever. I love you both.

xx, a happy bridesmaid

 

let the countdown begin | geena’s bridal weekend

Two weeks late is better than never.

I love stepping off the plane at BWI and knowing I’m only a few minutes away from hopping into that big, tan Excursion and seeing my Cooley family. While my stay was short, it was busy. Nonstop busy. But so fun!

After stopping by the dress shop to see G in her dress for a fitting, (yes, there were tears. Momma Cooley and the little girls placed a bet that I would cry. They won.) all the Cooley girls and I packed up and headed to a hotel on the Eastern Shore, which was where G’s shower was on Saturday morning. The shower was perfect and so was the Bachelorette party, like absolutely 100% perfect.

(disclaimer: any pictures that look really good are shamelessly stolen from Alexandra)

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(snuggles with little J & Geena)

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(brownie ice-cream sundaes before bed)

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(Jorgi & Molls feeding the ducks at the Bridal Shower)

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(perfect decorations & games)

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(Little J was the best model and Molly was an awesome designer & made of honor)

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(a quick, silly iPad selfie)

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(bachelorette attire was all bohemian//white)

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(a little Veuve, a little Korbel, a little Andre…. champagne for any budget)

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(of course, no night is complete without 3 large cheese pizzas)

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(and LOTS of Fiji for the morning after)

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(post brunch at Chick & Ruth’s and on our way to Mass at St. Mary’s)

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(I even managed to sneak in a few hugs & kisses to my godson, Izzy)

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(and last but not least, Geena & I always take a picture at the airport before I leave… and they’re always terrible of me… so, this is just keeping with tradition I guess)

I think Alex put it best when she wrote, “a positive focus circle centered around geena and brad’s love, 3 large 1am pizza’s, 7 bottles of champagne, and a lot of laughs = best weekend ever”

And it really was the Best. Weekend. Only a few short weeks till we’re all back in Maryland for the wedding and I cannot wait!

xx, Melanie Elizabeth