Just my luck

Just my luck // Kelsey, Esp. blog Just my luck // Kelsey, Esp. blogJust my luck // Kelsey, Esp. blog

Confirmation of week-old news of some major car repairs needed (that I can’t afford) on top of some major unexpected bills needing to be paid (that I can’t afford) on top of a shattered iPhone screen needing some major TLC (that I can’t afford). And those are just the few less personal shitty things that happened last Friday that I feel comfortable sharing here.

With the luck I had Friday, it could’ve been dated the 13th instead of the 25th. Fingers crossed this week starts (and finishes) on a better note. CAN I GET AN ‘AMEN’?!

Anniversary Weekend


Two weekends ago Shannon and I celebrated our one year anniversary with a staycation. After the disaster-y-ish Belated Birthday Weekend staycation we had back in June, we decided this time that we wanted to stay at a NOT trendy hotel, and that we wanted to stay just outside of DC. We went with a quaint-ish hotel in Arlington, and couldn’t have been more thrilled with our choice. The hotel itself was SO cheap, had PLENTY of parking and the FRIENDLIEST staff. Plus, it was nestled in a lush + green neighborhood-y environment just off of Fort Myer, which means it was literally a stone’s throw from the District. Perfect price, amazing location, great staff. Those three things made a world of difference this time around and we absolutely will be going back to stay there for all of our future DC staycations.

Early Friday evening we met up with a small group of friends at a bar a few minutes from the hotel (and directly across the street from my work, actually). The bar is actually situated on top of the building’s roof, which is why it’s called Rooftop Bar & Grill (duh), and offers a really fun, kind of cozy (see also: cramped, due to popularity) environment. Happy Hour ended up lasting closer to 5 or 6 hours, but that’s totally fine because it was extra super happy; we were celebrating our one year (which was on Friday) with some of the most rad friends anyone could ask for. PLUS it was perfect weather. And we were on a roof. HOW FUCKING COOL?! I would love to share more about our awesome Happy Hour with y’all but the thing is, it was so awesome that I don’t remember 97% of it. And that means it was also very successful.

So successful in fact, that I woke up Saturday morning feeling like death, which is exactly what I knew would happen even though it was exactly what I didn’t want to happen. What I wanted to happen was I wanted to wake up early and go for a short run into the District with Shannon, head back to the hotel for breakfast and a shower, and then set out for the day. What actually happened was that I woke up still 75% drunk and played the “go back to bed, wake up, repeat” game about 4 different times until I was able to sit up without getting dizzy and falling over. For the record, that wasn’t until around 9:30-ish am. Like I said, Happy Hour the night before was a major success. After I was up and showered and dressed I felt a lot better but I learned throughout the day that in order to stay feeling better I needed to keep moving. And nacho cheese Doritos. I also needed lots of those.


We spent Saturday exploring museums in the city that are off the beaten path, so to speak. So like, none of the museums on the Mall. We actually avoided the touristy area of DC the entire weekend and stuck with exploring a couple of neighborhoods north of downtown. We stopped by the National Museum of Health and Medicine which might be the coolest place I’ve ever been in my entire life.


It’s a tiny establishment but even still it took us nearly two hours to navigate because the sheer amount of stuff they have, and the sheer intrigue the stuff they have has (did you follow that?). Nearly everything in the museum is real, meaning the bone fragments and the skulls and the full skeletons and brains and other organs, as well as full size babies that died in utero or during/after birth, are all actual bones and organs and people that were actually alive (or in someone who was once alive) at some point. However, because I know that this stuff can seem insensitive to some people I’ve only opted to share a few of the lesser “obscene” or emotional photos here.


The museum also housed a wide assortment of medical tools from different historical periods, 500 bullet and shrapnel fragments from the Civil War, and even the bullet that killed Lincoln, along with fragments of his skull and tufts of his hair from around the wound entry point. Like I said, super fucking cool place.


We also visited the O Street Mansion on Saturday, which is supposedly a “living” museum dedicated to the creative process. In reality, it’s a huge collection of…junk spread between 5 interconnected row houses in Dupont. It’s rad in theory but only kind of cool in person. The experience was certainly interesting, and I’m glad that we went, but it’s something I never need to do again in my life. If that makes sense?


The rest of Saturday we spent walking around Dupont, through Adams Morgan, and over to Shaw/U Street, and then back down to Dupont. Along the way we browsed a music + book sidewalk sale, stopped for ice cream, posed for some ironic photos, popped into a fun little hole-in-the-wall “adult” store, and walked through some really fun neighborhoods as we made up pretend lives for ourselves as we went.

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We got our run into the city in on Sunday morning. We ran from our hotel in Arlington across the bridge into DC, over to the Lincoln, up the steps, posed for some photos, then ran back to the base of Arlington National Cemetery where we posed for another photo at the Carillon. The first photo below is a view of Virginia from the top of the back of the Lincoln.


We spent the rest of the day exploring DC, starting with the Farmers Market in Dupont. From there we Metro’d to Chinatown, then walked to Capitol Hill to hit up the Eastern Market on Capitol Hill Farmers Market and flea market. We spent allllll afternoon out and about and had a really, really fun time just being together and seeing and trying new things.


We ended Sunday by touring the L. Ron Hubbard House, which is where the Church of Scientology was founded (SUPER EFFING INTERESTING, even though I think the “church” itself is kind of nutty) and by watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. After that we hopped in Shannon’s truck and headed back home for a night on the couch with pizza and a whoooooole lot of DVR’d shows.

Such an amazing weekend you guys. I can’t wait to share a little bit more of it — and a new perspective of it — once I’m finished putting together our Anniversary Weekend Mini Book! WOOT!


Shannon’s birthday + anniversary mini book

A few things before we get started:

01 | I took all of these photos on the same day from the same position (and consecutively, with no breaks in between) so I have NO IDEA why the lighting is SO FUCKED. Sorry. I’m also really confused as to why everything looks super sharp in Photoshop but then ends up looking blurry and smudged after it’s uploaded online. ANYONE?!

02 | This is my first-ever attempt at doing anything like this. It didn’t turn out quite like I hoped but I don’t hate it, either.

03 | I love y’all and don’t really have an issue sharing my life online, but this album holds part of Shannon’s life, too, so you’re only getting a peek at selected pages.

Okay. Let’s get into it.


I tend to be really passionate when it comes to gift-giving for people I hold near to me. Like, I plan out different options months in advance and once I’ve chosen “the one”, I dedicate massive amounts of time, attention, and thought to it.

Shannon’s birthday was toward the end of June, which means I’m super late posting this but that’s not really anything new. Anywayz. She was insistent that she didn’t want anything for her birthday; that she didn’t even want to acknowledge it, let alone celebrate it. I’m not big on holidays, so I get it. Except yeah-fucking-right if I’m not going to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. Especially when it was the first birthday of hers that we had an opportunity to celebrate together because it was the first birthday of hers since we became “us”. But I still wanted to respect her wish of keeping things low-key (and I wanted to respect my already stretched-so-thin-it’s-basically-broken bank account), so I decided to make her a mini book with supplies that, for the most part, I already had on hand.


As I crept along with this project page by page I started to realize that the things I was including in the mini book — favorite photos of us and ephemera from our first year together (movie ticket stubs, concert ticket stubs, coasters from restaurants we frequent, menus, hotel room keys from Belated Birthday Weekend staycation) — were more suited for an anniversary gift.


And when you consider that her birthday was just two weeks before our one year anniversary and the traditional gift for a first anniversary is “paper”, it made all the more sense to combine the two. Even though combining occasions into a single gift is kind of shitty (Christmas babies, you feel me?). Oh well. I fused the two ideas/gifts together into one hybrid birthday + anniversary gift. Cheap? Nah. Innovative and resourceful. Euphemisms people. And semantics. USE ‘EM.


I cut down a 12×12 piece of hearts paper that looked more like lace (and that I’ve had on hand for years) and used it as a kind of cover page over kraft card stock, to which I affixed the “24 & 1″ wood veneers you see above. The “24″ for her birthday and the “1″ for our first year together. Not really original but hey, it works. Also, can we talk about how perfect that ampersand is?

The first few pages of the book feature cutesy and cheesy love-y dove-y things: A lucky penny that we picked up in Dupont during Belated Birthday Weekend; a days of the week 6×4 that came in a previous Studio Calico PL kit along with days of the week washi tape from SC, and lyrics to that old school “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (I Love You)” song written on it; a super cheesy quote better suited for a nursery than a mini book for an adult; a nother quote that I first saw around the time Shannon and I began dating (printed on vellum); a gold letterpress Kal Barteski 3×4 that I’d been waiting forever to use.


After all the cheesy quotes in the beginning I started filling the pages with favorite photos of us and of things from our first year together. Champagne bottle labels, movie ticket stubs, a card from trivia night at a local pizza joint we frequent, concert ticket stubs, hotel room keys, coasters, menus, blahblahblah.


My favorite technique for this particular project was printing directly onto vellum. I just really love the frosted see-through look it provides. I printed a few quotes/phrases onto vellum, as well as an image of a map of where we had our first date (and behind it I included a photo of the inside of the bar) and a few photos that are NSFW and not for your eyes, and used a “magic” vellum 6×4 that came in a past Studio Calico PL kit add-on.


One of my favorite things in the mini album is a fold-out $100,000 bill (obviously VERY real) that Shannon picked up for me when she took a lunchtime field trip to the Treasury with a few coworkers earlier in the year.   I wrote a short note about how she always makes me feel like a million bucks and tucked it into the book. Cheesy, yes. But I knew she’d love it. Behind it is one of those NSFW photos printed directly onto vellum. I actually affixed it on top of a piece of sized-down 12×12 scrapbook paper that had a script “i love you” phrase repeated on it and LOVE the way it turned out.


Keeping in mind that this was primarily meant to be a birthday gift (NOT a paper themed one year anniversary gift), I added a few handwritten “24…” lists to celebrate her 24th birthday. I tried to stay away from the cliché “24 reasons I love you” thing and did my best to be at least somewhat creative with these lists. I included serious and less serious things, as well as some tongue-in-cheek responses and inside jokes.


Well. That’s basically it, guys. I ended the mini book with a 6×4 from a previous Studio Calico PL kit (and added a handwritten note) and a sized-down piece of paper made from a linen-y material and that had gold and silver flecks in it for the final page. And on that final page I affixed a heart-shaped patch that I picked up at Joann’s (the type of patch they sell for kids’ projects) to a couple pieces of heart-shaped pieces I cut out of scrapbook paper. I wrote a phrase that I say to Shannon All. The. Time. around the heart and called it good.


It’s super random hodgepodge of…stuff…and things, but I think that’s what mini albums are supposed to be. Right? Please say “yes” because otherwise I did this all wrong. And that would be tragic, people. TRAGIC.

It didn’t turn out quite like I was hoping but I don’t totally hate it and Shannon LOVES it (it MAY have gotten a few tears and an emphatic “best gift EVER” label, or maybe not. TAKE YOUR GUESS, but I’m letting you know right now if you guess the latter option, YOU’RE WRONG…). And since it’s her gift, that’s all that really matters.

As for me? I’m looking forward at trying my hand at another mini book documenting Anniversary Weekend.

Currently | Mine, Hers & His

A couple weeks ago the crew over at A Beautiful Mess posted a fun photo post showcasing Elsie’s and Emma’s current favorite things — drinks, handbags, foods, etc. — and a few days later Elise put a fun spin on the idea and posted an “E & e” photo post showcasing her and her baby daughter Ellerie’s current favorites.

I immediately knew I wanted to do my own “Currently” photo post, so I decided to put my own “Mommy & Me” twist on it. I photographed a handful of current favorites of the kids and me — shoes, books, snacks, drinks, music — and slapped the un-creative title “Mine, Hers & His” on it. I would’ve loved to have included Briseis in this, but seeing as how she doesn’t live with me it’s really hard to include her sometimes. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

So. Now that I’ve made it sufficiently awkward, let’s move on and look at some photos of the things Emma, Madden, and I are loving right now, mmmk?


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listening to

The songs shown above are part of our Summer Soundtrack, which you can take a look at (and listen to) right over hrrr.

Birthday Weekend

My birthday was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and it was supposed to be super rad. But, as my luck goes, it wasn’t. You can read more of the backstory if you want, but the most important part is that Shannon ended up having to go out of town at the last minute and ended up missing my birthday and Regionals.

It was dumb.

She got back the day after my birthday and surprised me with tickets to a Saturday night performance by the National Symphony Orchestra and a hotel room in the city for the same night, which happened to be this past Saturday. A few days prior to receiving the tickets I’d be voluntold I was competing in a team at Flex On The Mall on the same day as the symphony, and since I had to be down at the National Mall early for registration and athlete check-in on Saturday morning, we decided to book a room for Friday night, too, and make a belated birthday weekend out of it.


We stayed at a trendy hotel in Dupont Circle that we thought would be super rad but ended up not being super rad. I won’t go into detail here (mostly because I’m already going to bitch enough about the weekend in this post without adding all that shit in), but we weren’t impressed. AT ALL. Like, we definitely won’t be going back there for our next staycation. The atmosphere was cool (I guess) but they totally sacrificed customer service and attentiveness for ambiance, which killed the entire experience. It was annoying and disappointing BUT the silver lining is that we now know exactly what is important to us and we learned what we don’t want from a hotel stay. And that’s a big win because we absolutely plan on making these staycations a quasi-frequent thing. Next time will be better, I’m sure of it.


We planned to arrive in the city and check-in early afternoon on Friday. We were going to dump our stuff in our room, then hit the streets and make the mile or so walk to Georgetown. We were going to stop at the Reebok CrossFit store, check out a few home decor shops, and watch the sunset from an undisclosed, surprise location Shannon had in mind. But, as shit seems to go for us, nothing went according to plan. Go figure, right?


We ended up not getting into the city until 6:00 pm.  We knew Saturday was going to be hot and long/full of competition, so we knew our Friday night couldn’t be too wild or too late. Not getting to the hotel until 6:00 pm put a huge damper on our plans. We tried to make the best of it, though, and after we dumped our stuff in our room, we walked to Dupont Circle proper to find a place to get a drink together (no time for Georgetown at this point). We stopped at The Sports Page (what a unique name, right?) and shared a big plate of chips + dip and a few drinks al fresco. It was cute and adorable and basically perfect, except for the part where we had to be done drinking by 7:30-ish, and the part where we didn’t have any time to do a single thing that we’d planned. DUMB.


However, during our bathroom pitstop on the way out of the bar, we did encounter some super drunk college girls who didn’t know each other but went to the same school and were a year (or two?) apart that were hilarious to listen to, so that kind of made up for things. A little bit. It made up for it even more 15 minutes after we paid our bill and left, and ended up in the middle of Dupont Circle right next to them taking drunken/awkward photos with each other and their boyfriends.

We hung out in the middle of Dupont Circle — like, we literally sat on a bench in the middle of Dupont Circle — and listened to a super amazing street band perform while we watched a storm roll in. And roll in it did. QUICK. It started raining so we started hurrying back to our hotel, and along the way some homeless dude professed his love for Shannon to her, which was both creepy and hilarious. By the time we got back to the hotel it was 9:00 pm. Maybe. Super exciting Friday night in the city, y’all.


The next day we had to be down at the Mall by 9:00 am. That’s not actually all that early, except for the fact that the weekend was supposed to be my birthday weekend alone with Shannon and we were supposed to be able to do whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it. We likely would’ve been out of bed well before 9:00 even if I hadn’t been competing, but we would’ve been doing something super cool, like drinking bottomless mimosas over brunch at the adorable little hole-in-the-wall next to our hotel. What we definitely would not have been doing was heading down at the National Mall.

Needless to say, I was zero percent excited to have to spend THE ENTIRE FUCKING DAY on Saturday competing in a competition that I didn’t want to be competing in in the first place, and I was very vocal about it. If I were southern I’d probably say some shit like, “Bless her heart,” about Shannon and her putting up with all my bitching on Saturday the entire weekend (and the entire two weeks prior). But I’m not. So I won’t. Besides, I already apologized to her a billion times for being a whiny pain in the ass. In case you were wondering.




The first WOD was too easy. Some deadlifts, some pull-ups, and OH walking lunges. We owned it.



The second WOD was too easy, too. Burpees, box jumps, and kettlebell snatches. We did alright on this one, but needed to have moved just a liiiiiittle bit faster.



The final WOD was strength. Tami and Jeff (the two on the left in the photo below) had to find their 3 RM hang clean, while Mike and I had to find our 10 RM hang clean. 10 FUCKING-REP-MAX? It. Was. Brutal.


The day was long and not without a few obstacles (WODs were re-ordered, weights were changed, standards/judging were questioned, blahblahblah), but we ended performing really well. We went into the competition doing this strictly “for fun” (aka — just for shits and giggles), and ended up placing 4th overall. So. You know. That was pretty rad. It would’ve been awesome to make the podium and score some extra cash, but we were all happy to do as well as we did (we OWNED the first WOD and the Championship WOD), and we were all really happy for the day to finally be over. Especially me.

Also — not gonna lie — how fucking cool is it to WOD in a competition on the Mall? I mean, either way you look you’re surrounded by amazing monuments and history. The weather was perfect (not humid at all) and the view/scenery was quite literally picturesque. I fucking love living here, all the exorbitant expenses associated with it aside.


Shannon and I got back to the hotel around 6:15 pm, which gave us just about an hour to shower, change, and get ready for the symphony. There was no time for exploring the city or eating dinner — or even for taking a goddamn breather — and by the time the performance started we were both exhausted. But the performance was incredible (it received a standing ovation), and it was indescribably nice to do such a “grown up”, “real” date-ish…thing…with Shannon. No RJ. No kids. No phones or other distractions. Just us inside that auditorium, cuddled into eachother in our seats, watching and listening to a phenomenal performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8.


The performance was held at the Kennedy Center, which neither of us had been to before and which both of us were impressed by. I mean, guys. That structure is much bigger than it appears from a distance. Monumental, even (no pun intended). It’s such a simple design — very plain — yet classically elegant. We arrived early enough to spend a bit of time out back on the patio (?) that runs along the river. It was gorgeous and I wish I’d brought my DSLR along to take photos, because my iPhone just doesn’t do it justice. And also because my iPhone ran out of memory and I couldn’t take more than like, 2 photos. Poor planning on my part. Womp.

Oh, and did I mention that the Kennedy Center is right next door to the Watergate buildings? GAH! THIS CITY IS SO COOL!


It was really nice to have a weekend away (see also: a weekend without the kids), but it was a big bummer that Birthday Weekend was “interrupted” by the Flex on the Mall competition, and it was a big bummer that our experience at the place we stayed was so shitty. Even so, I had an amazing time overall and I appreciate everything that Shannon did to make the weekend possible. She spent a lot of time planning it; a lot of money making it happen; and I’m sure she had to jump through a few hoops at home to get away for basically 3 consecutive days.

We’ve already decided that we want to make this a somewhat regular occurrence (maybe one weekend every two or three months), so fingers crossed that next time we get it all the way right (no double booking the weekend and overcommitting!).

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