April 16, 2017

Life Right Now

Life is so full for us right now - we're getting settled in a new home, in a new city on an island, no less! Remi is beautiful and observant and quickly growing. I'm busy at work while Cory is doing all the things we need to do to get us settled, like buying a car.

We're trying to unpack boxes, visit the beach (priorities!) and stay in touch with family and friends on a 4-5 hour time zone difference. Figuring out new routines, new places to make our own, new ways to eat and live - an endless amount of new.

I love this part.

So while we have all of this beauty and all of this LIFE swirling around us, I'm struggling. I struggle because I want to keep it all contained and remember every second of it. I want to take it all in as fully as I can and be present (my word of the year), but somehow save it at the same time.

And I don't know how to do that. Because I know there really is no way to do that. But I couldn't forgive myself if I didn't at least give it my best shot.

Is this how all parents feel? Or is this because I'm realizing that at least a third of our life has come and gone now that we're in our thirties? I'm not sure what has spurred this unrest in my soul, but lately I've just wanted to savor and preserve "us".

I plan to fill you all in on the move, what life looks like in Hawaii, life as a mama and more, but tonight I'm just sitting with this feeling.

February 14, 2017

When the Stars Align

Our history with Hawaii starts before Cory was born. Cory's grandpa, Tom Dinell moved to the island to raise his family in the 50's. So Cory's dad grew up on Oahu and then Cory's mom moved there for college - they met, got married and along came the man we all know and love, born in Kailua at Castle Medical Center.

When we began dating in high school, Hawaii became a part of my life as I began receiving gifts from Cory's yearly travels - a box of fresh pineapples from the Dole Plantation one year, a personalized coconut the next (a gift I still have to this day). With members from both sides of his family still living out there, he got to visit for lengthly periods and often.

My first visit came in 2009, about a year after we had gotten engaged and I immediately fell in love with the island. We visited again every other year for the next eight years.

During our 2012 visit we hiked a popular light tower path one morning. On the hike we passed a pregnant mama who was pushing her toddler in a stroller up the hill. It was such a little thing, but it sparked my brain with this romantic notion of one day raising a little family on the island. This is a moment that has stayed with me.

Later that year when I had the opportunity to move to Colorado for work, we discussed the idea of moving to Hawaii instead. We told ourselves we could go just for a year and have fun, but ultimately we decided to stick with our Colorado plan because I enjoyed working for the company I was with and didn't want to give that up for the unknown.

Fast forward about six months after our move to Colorado and we were revisiting the idea of living on Hawaii again. We were struggling to make things work in Colorado, plus it was cold as shit. Eventually we both got jobs that we really enjoyed (a marketing agency for me and a coffee company for Cory), found our tribe and were able to really embrace life here. We fell in love with it.

And then...

The stars aligned.

This life in Colorado that we've spent the last four plus years building is so full and so fun and just downright amazing. We love this state. We love our community. We fit right into the culture here and we love life. 

But as they say, third times a charm. We got an opportunity in Honolulu that we simply can't resist. 

We are moving to Oahu this spring!

I plan to post more about the details of our move, but for now we are just so excited to share the news of our next adventure. 

January 21, 2017

The Lost Years

Okay so this title is a bit dramatic, but I'm sitting here realizing that I've posted for a grand total of six times in the last three years. Insert grimace face emoji. 

It makes me sad that I can't go back and reminisce about what was going on in my life during this period of time. I mean, thankfully I'm no stranger to Instagram so I could probably piece it together if I really wanted to - cancel the SOS. But seriously, how did people remember anything before the internet?!?!

So I thought I would ease back into a Life with Luster by creating a quick post of what the last three years of life have looked like for me. And in case you care for a refresher, here's where I really left off. 

Our first year in Colorado (2013) was filled with a lot of uncertainty (again, see post linked above), but after that we slowly found our place and began to feel that we were right where we belonged. Over the next three years we really made Colorado our home and feel that moving to Fort Collins was the best decision we've made in our married life. Here's why:

1. We absolutely love everything this state offers: snowboarding (we got season passes each year until I got pregnant), breweries galore (I think our current count in Fort Collins is 22), spending weekends in the mountains, healthy living (it's hard to believe I once laughed at the idea of buying organic), hiking (even in the winter), endless road trip options, RED ROCKS (concerts, movies, yoga - oh my!), the fact that there is basically a brunch spot on every corner and of course we love the friends we've met here. 

2. We gave ourselves the space we needed to grow into ourselves and to grow up. 

So what else have we been up to in the last three years? Well, let me work backward:

We...hosted lots of family and friends which brought so much joy to our hearts

We...brought a human named Remi into the world (which I plan to write about a lot, I promise!)

We...traveled here and there (Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, New York, Missouri, Arkansas, Wyoming, Cancun Mexico plus others I'm probably leaving out) AND road-tripped all around Colorado (Estes Park, Keystone, Manitou Springs, Breckenridge, Telluride, Steamboat Springs...)

We...celebrated six years of marriage

We...lost our sweet black lab, Natty who was nine and Cory's grandma

We...began a Dave Ramsey's style mission to pay off all of our debt

We...bought a condo

We...climbed 14ners (okay, I only did one but Cory did multiple!)

We...got a niece!

We...entered into our 30's

We...worked. A lot. 

And I'm sure there's so much more I'm leaving out.

As much as I regret not being better at recording the last four years of life in Colorado, I'm excited for a fresh start in 2017. I hope to keep this little space up more and share our adventures through life as new parents!

August 15, 2016

We're Having a Baby

Here I sit, lazily lounging around on what may very well be the last weekend Cory and I share just the two of us, and I realize the desire I feel to remember this special season of life. To hold it close and never let go. I wonder if this is motherhood in a nutshell. 

Unbelievably, so many little details have already slipped my mind. So, as my pregnancy comes to close, this is my attempt to capture everything we went through to get here - the emotions, the hope, the prayers, the tears, the joy. 

2015 was quite a year for us and therefore, my brain wants to organize it into a timeline. 

Before I do that, I want to make a note that Cory and I were never big "kid" people. During pre-marital counseling our highest compatibility score was on our thoughts around parenting and raising kids...probably because while it was always a possibility that we would have kids one day, it was never the end all, be all goal for either of us. My sister has given us plenty of little babies to love, so we were good for awhile and set off to enjoy our twenties freely. 

And then in October 2014, Cory turned 30.  

Which is a whole separate topic, but the point being is that it got us starting to talk less about what vacation we wanted to go on next or what shenanigans we had planned for the weekend, and more about what we wanted to pursue and build together in our next 30 years. 

So this is where the timeline begins.

February 14, 2015 - We go all in, if you know what I mean.

So I immediately think I'm pregnant and feel awkward. We do this just as my mom tells one of her best friends that she doesn't think we'll ever have kids. HA! I just love that part.

April 1, 2015 - We get our first positive pregnancy test. 

After visiting my friend and her new baby I decide to go buy a box of pregnancy tests. To my surprise and delight - I get to pull off the ultimate April Fool's Day joke when I told Cory that we were pregnant. Except it wasn't a joke! 

The following morning I called my OB office freaking out - I needed to see a doctor immediately. Something was growing in my body and I needed to know exactly what to do. Of course they told me to stay away from alcohol and certain types of fish and to stop freaking out. They would see me in a month when I was 8 weeks along. 8 whole weeks!?!?

May 2015 - We got bad news.
At our very first baby appointment we were brimming with nerves - excitement, disbelief, all the feels, basically. When I mentioned having some cramps our OB suggested we do an early ultrasound. Also, she said my uterus felt so big that she suspected that we may be working with twins in there. Stunned, Cory and I grab lunch and come back for an ultrasound an hour later. 

Which is where the story takes it's first shitty turn that I can only explain in the way we understood it (in layman's terms).

My body was operating like it was pregnant - my boobs hurt, I was sleepy all the time, occasionally experienced morning sickness, etc. - but our baby-to-be had no fetal pull, meaning that it wasn't a baby at all, just a ball of cells that my body thought was a baby.  

So I had a D&C. And it sucked. If you don't know what that is, lucky you. 

One thing I want to remember is how I felt the moment I woke up post-procedure. I immediately felt something missing, lighter almost, that something that was there before was no longer around. It was a bittersweet sensation - bitter, because I would have much rather had a baby growing in there, but sweet because it felt that we could move on.

I should also mention that "Bye, Bye, Bye" was playing overhead by N'SYNC when I woke. Seriously. 

Through this ordeal we learned that 1 in 4 women actually experience miscarriage, which was pretty shocking to me, so we tried not to be too discouraged. We enjoyed a fun summer and kept our hopes up that it would happen again when the time was right.

October 2015 - We had a second miscarriage. 

Followed by a month of testing. I can't complain - it wasn't that bad, but it did cost $6000, which our insurance covered due to the fact we had experienced multiple miscarriages.

Thankfully, the test results showed a only few minor problems that could be easily fixed through antibiotics and ongoing medicine to be taken while we were trying to conceive and then throughout a pregnancy. 

One very happy memory during this time period was telling my sister that we were pregnant. While we were FaceTiming (which we usually do multiple times a week) I asked Briggs if he wanted to see our baby. I would normally show him Winston and he would squeal and laugh, so when I showed him my belly he turned to my sister with a really confused look on his face. She told him we were just kidding, then Cory whipped out the positive pregnancy test and shocked her with the news that, no we were not kidding! After she actually believed us - it took a little convincing - lots of happy tears followed. 

Even though that pregnancy ended (even quicker than the first - between weeks four and five), that was a moment I will always cherish. 

December 2015 - We got our third positive pregnancy test of the year.

By this time I was starting to feel like the girl who cried pregnant. Given my history, my OB had me began to do blood draws every other day to measure my HCG levels. They started off low and not quite doubling like they should, so we were scared. 

My mind starting wondering - was I ever going to be able to get pregnant? If not, what did that mean? What would that look like for our future? I cried all of the time. All I could do was hope and pray - breaking down to my knees type of praying. 

February 2016 - Good News!

After a few months of uncertainty, we had (finally) made it to the "safety net" of the second trimester. In joyful disbelief, we celebrated and shared our happy news with the world - one full year after we began our journey.

To say that we are grateful for this little man growing inside me is an understatement. It's been so wonderful to share the journey to parenthood with the person I love the most in this world - bringing us to new, deeper levels than we had ever been to before. 

So, in the last remaining days before we meet this kid, I wanted to take a moment to remember and share the path we took to get here - and make sure that I don't take one step for granted.

October 3, 2015

Climb a 14'ner

And so the story goes...

Not long before 30 years of age had arrived for one woman, the woman said, "Husband, take me to the top of the mountain to see the world." The husband, who is very wise, says to himself, 'happy wife, happy life' and begins to plan a trip. Two shorts weeks later at 4 a.m. the man and the woman set off to climb a mountain. Here's their story...

The Start

The Climb

The Top


The Celebration

The End

Don't forget to check out my updated list here!

September 16, 2015

30 Weeks Until Thirty

In thirty weeks I will be 30 years old. Another decade under my belt. A new era in my life. 

Holy shit. 

Really though, I'm pretty pumped about this milestone birthday. And true to my Type A-self I have begun the preparations. In the next 30 weeks I aspire to check off the following list, in no particular order:

1. Take Surf Lessons
2. Write the First Chapter 
3. Be a Better Listener* 
4. Climb a 14-ner
5. Hit Class 200 at Pure Barre
6. DIY Some Shit
7. Do a Back Handspring
8. Play an April Fool's Joke
9. Begin Blogging Again*
10. Read One Book Each Three Weeks*
11. Pay Off One Specific, Irritating Debt
12. Purchase My First Piece of Real Art (not from Bed, Bath and Beyond)
13. Create a Vision Board
14. Be More Organized*
15. Walk Dogs Daily*
16. Understand Diabetes Care
17. Continue Cory's Grandma's Wreath Tradition
18. Commit to Yoga for 30 Days Straight
19. Create a Morning Routine*
20. Figure Out Where My Time Goes and Adjust According to Priorities
21. Start a Special Tradition w/Each of My Favorite Babies - Brodie, Madalynn, Briggs, Braylie and Zoey
22. Photo Storage - Figure It Out
23. Meditate*
24. Get More Writing Published
25. Keep Consistent Gratitude Journal*
26. Clean Up Social Media Accounts (Hello, 2004!)
27. Visit Another Hawaiian Island
28. Elevate Mindfulness*
29. Entertain More
30. Conquer a Fear

* Highlights a habit

Think you may have seen something like this from me before? You're right. Check out my original post from 2013: http://alifewithluster.blogspot.com/2013/10/30-by-30.html 

So...have you read The Secret? I haven't focused on any of these goals over the past two years, but somehow I've managed to cross almost half of them off of my list. Isn't it amazing what we can accomplish once we put it out into the universe? 

List Created in 2013:

1. Write a book.
2. Own a home - again, and this time, make it one that we really feel a connection to.
3. Learn how to surf.
4. Be a better listener.
 5. Holidays - Find meaningful ways (to us) to celebrate.
6. Develop a healthy diet & exercise lifestyle. (Yep, still giving this one a go.) 
7. Try my hand at styling, starting with friends.
8. Learn photography basics.
9. Then learn photoshop basics.
10. Master my mani.
11. Become a better cook, including overcoming my fear of chicken.
12. Develop a clear sense of home decor style & begin creating a home environment that I'm absolutely in love with. Every detail.
13. Practice yoga regularly.
14. Learn about wine & cheese pairing.
15. Blog - Find my niche, even if that niche is just writing to update my friends & family.
16. Be a better dog owner.
17. Pay more attention to men's fashion, for Cory's sake.
18. Think of ways to be a cool aunt.
19. Deepen my knowledge and appreciation for craft beer. (Yes, this is a real goal people.)
 20. Complete a mini-triathalon.
21. Have my writing published in a magazine.
22. Be okay with less.
23. Be on a career path that I love and can see a future in.
24. Find more ways to connect with family.
25. Follow a budget. For reals.
26. Become a better snowboarder.

27. Smile & look strangers in the eye.
28. Create more traditions.
29. Pay down our debt (student loans I've got my eye on you).
30. Finish what I start, or don't start it.

There ya have it, folks! I'm back to blogging and hope that if you know me or like what I'm doing that you'll follow along.

January 12, 2014

The Mountains

WHEW - This year has certainly started off in full force, and while I'm loving it - I'm feeling it too. So this Saturday was the perfect time to make an escape up to the mountains with friends. 

Apparently everyone else in Colorado was thinking the same thing, because it took us twice as long as it normally does to get there and by the time we made it, the mountains were packed. Like, no free parking available-packed.

So we did what any logical local would do and holed up in a bar to have a few drinks and watch some college basketball. After we celebrated a KU win in Breckenridge, we headed back to Keystone to make a few runs. 

Luckily the crowds had cleared out, so we were able to stay for a couple of hours. 

And experience this magnificent day on top of a mountain. 

Which is often just what I need to clear my head, put it all back in perspective and silently reveal in the beauty and vastness of this life.