Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Well, 2014, you've outdone yourself! What a wonderful, crazy year it has been, filled with some of the highest highs, and of course, a few lows. I'm seeing so many recaps online today and thought it would be nice for myself to have a recap of some of the moments that stood out in 2014. And for anyone else out there, please bear with me on my trip down memory lane!


  • Celebrated my Grandpa's 84th birthday!
  • Celebrated Team Ross' accomplishments with our first annual Light the Night Fundraiser
  • Mourned the loss of my Grandpa only a few short weeks after his birthday (I like to think he got a chance to see all the people he loved most in the world at his birthday and decided he was satisfied and ready)


  • Traveled to Orlando for the best Bridal Shower and Bachelorette Party ever! I have the best family and friends in the world and they made this weekend so special for me.
  • Spent a week in Chicago with the first bout of Hemolytic Anemia (little did we know what was ahead...)
  • Our Wedding!! Headed down to New Orleans March 12 - 18 for an absolutely unforgettable, incredible wedding weekend. I was (and still am!) so thankful to be able to marry my best friend, and on top of that, have the most beautiful, perfect celebration (thanks mom!) with all of the people I love most.
  • Back to Chicago for a very scary battle with Hemolytic Anemia. Hemolytic Anemia is a condition where the body has an immune reaction and begins to attack its own red cells, completely decimating the body's hemoglobin supply. We spent nearly an entire month in Chicago trying to right this wrong. It wasn't without many sleepless nights and scary blood tests, but finally the genius of Dr. Stock prevailed and she was able to stabilize the hemolysis. This is something we are still grappling with to this day, but I am so thankful that it is stable, under control, and hopefully dissipating underneath the medications.
  • May was a much-needed quiet month with as much rest as possible between work.
  • June threw us another curve-ball in the form on Pneumonia. As we were planning to host some friends for CMA fest (luckily, they cancelled), we ended up spending that Friday night in the ER, followed by several days of treatment and recovery from Pneumonia. Another very scary time, but in the end Vanderbilt was able to knock it out and send us home.
  • Ross' sister and husband came to visit us a few weeks later and while we tried to take it easy, we had a great time showing them around the city and just spending time together.
  • I led my first official Federal Grant and killed it! (if I do say so myself). I later learned that the proposal was funded for $5 million over 5 years - a huge win!
  • Spent 4th of July in North Carolina with my family which was a blast! We needed the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air to recover from the past few months of stress and spent the weekend hiking, chasing waterfalls, and checking out the local breweries.
  • Took a weekend trip to Chicago for a happy occasion - a birthday! It was a great weekend with family and I especially loved seeing my niece and nephew (who at this point were obsessed with Frozen). 
  • Started the month out with great news - a promotion! 
  • Packed our bags and headed to France for a once-in-a-lifetime trip for our Honeymoon! We spent two weeks exploring Paris, Avignon, and other small cities in Provence and had an absolutely perfect experience. I've never felt so happy, excited, relaxed, and at peace in my life. I am so grateful for the time we had just the two of us to be a married couple in good health, happiness, and love!
  • We hosted our second annual Light the Night fundraiser and raised over $13,000!
  • Ross got a job in the legal field and it is the perfect transition - hooray!
  • We added a new family member - our lab, Mae! I introduced her officially a few weeks ago, and she is growing quickly, around 40 lbs at about 5 months. She is a sweet pup with more growing to do and much more training to go, too.
  • We celebrated Ross' 2 year anniversary with so much joy and love. I am so proud of that man and in awe of him every day.
  • I took a weekend trip down to Miami to spend a girls' weekend with my best friends! We drank wine, caught each other up on everything, supported our Miami Hurricanes, and just had the best weekend. It has been almost 10 years since I first met these girls and here we are still as close as ever across time and distance.
  • Happy Thanksgiving! We headed back down to Florida to spend time with my family in Orlando. We helped my mom host 15 people for a big turkey dinner and spent the weekend with the extended family at Universal Studios checking out Harry Potter. I also got to sneak in some coveted Black Friday shopping time with my mom - a tradition we've had for years now!
  • And here we are in December! Fortunately it was mostly a quiet month spending time with each other and Mae until...
  • Christmas in Chicago! We took the pup and drove up to Chicago for almost a week of festivities with family and friends. We had delicious home-cooked dinners for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, hit the Museum of Science and Industry, spent time with friends downtown, and checked out the Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I feel so fortunate to have two families that I love so much, so it is always a great time to be around everyone and step into my role as Auntie Rachel. 
And that leaves us with tonight, New Years' Eve. I hope I captured most of the highlights from this year, and after writing this, even with the few scary blips, I am kind of sad to say goodbye to 2014. We had so much to look forward to and celebrate and it pretty much all went off without a hitch! But, with that said, I have my eye out to the future and all of the good health, happiness, and fortune I hope 2015 will bring!

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France

Looks like the last time I posted was about three years ago... and let's just suffice it to say a lot has changed! Some quick highlights: we moved to Nashville, had the best wedding ever in New Orleans, traveled to France for our honeymoon, and became the proud new parents of this brown eyed beauty, Mae!

We've been coveting dogs for several years now, having both grown up with wonderful dogs, and upon seeing a serendipitous facebook post about the availabilty of a 10-week-old black labrador retriever, we hopped in the car and drove straight up to Kentucky to pick up our girl. We've now had her for about six weeks and she has drastically changed our lives, for the better of course (most of the time!).
October 25, 2014: In the car with Mae on our way home from Kentucky!
Here's what Mae is up to at 16-weeks:
  • Weighs 33.2 pounds (Dad is hoping she doubles that when she is full grown!)
  • Long and lanky with huge paws and her face is cute as a button. It seems everything is growing but her face is staying cute like a puppy - and I'm okay with that!
  • Definitely knows her name and responds when called (when she feels like it)
  • We're working on training daily and she is learning to sit, stay, lay down, and go to bed.
  • She loves playing fetch in the park, especially with sticks. She'll run at least 30 yards to get the stick and comes back with it easily. Her attention span for fetch is anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, with a few breaks to chew on the stick, of course.
  • About 90-100% housetrained. We had to board her at a kennel for Thanksgiving, so she regressed a little when she came home, but I think we've almost conqured her accidents.
  • Teething and jumping and excitability, oh my! Mae looooves to show us how excited she is to see us and play with us by mouthing and jumping, all normal (yet super annoying) behaviors for a four-month-old pup. She is exploring anything and everything in her environment, especially with her mouth and by jumping up on any surface she can. We're working on teaching her "off" to stop the jumping and replacing things like our hands and feet with delicious chew toys (current favorites: Kong, rubber nylabone, and an awesome antler from grandma - thanks grandma!) and redirected energy (read: obedeince training!)
  • And my absolute favorite: Lap Time! The first few mornings with her, I would wake up, let Mae out of her crate, and bring her downstairs to do her business. Once we got upstairs I would sit on the carpet and invite her in my lap, letting her sleep or holding a bone for her while she chewed and I calmly pet her. Now, each morning when we get back upstairs, she runs to the carpet and sits patiently, waiting for me to sit on the floor for some lap time. It is truly one of my most cherished moments of each day, and I hope she never grows out of it, even when she is a 60-pound pup :)
November 1, 2014: Obviously Mae is a huge Miami Hurricanes fan!
October 25, 2014: First day at the park with Mom and Dad! RIP Bear Toy :(
I feel so lucky to have Mae in our lives. While of course owning a dog is a lot of work and responsibility, adding Mae to our little family has brought so much laugher and joy and I know that she is going to grow into a great dog. Welcome to the family, Ms. Mae! xo ~ Mamasita