Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Starting our New Life

It's now been almost two months since we arrived in our new home. As you probably know, there have been some major lows, but also some great highs.

First thing's first, I have been so blown away with the amount of love, support, stories, packages, letters, and solid compassion from everyone we know. This rough stuff has been so much easier to bear knowing that we have an army of loved ones behind us. Thank you to everyone who reached out to us and comforted us. We have our good days and rougher days, but the rough ones have slowly become less frequent. We are dealing and hopeful about what the future holds.


The day after we got our bad news, my parents flew out to spend some time with us while I recovered and we dealt with things. Between that and the hurricane that caused massive amounts of heavy rainfall (seriously, the pond outside our apartment rose about 5 feet, almost to the brim), we stayed indoors for almost a week.

Basically, we hung out doing a lot of this (with the pooch always perched right there):

While right outside our window it looked like this: 

Luckily it was General Conference weekend and let me just say that I have never needed it or wanted it more than I did in those days leading up to it. So many talks were powerful (loved Grandfather's so much) and comforting and exactly what I needed, but the one that stood out the most was Sister Neill Marriott's talk. It was an honest answer to prayer and spoke to me on a level that is one of the strongest I've ever felt in Conference. I've gone back and read it since, and each time, it brings me a lot of peace. If you feel like you need to feel God's love and presence a little more today, here's the link:

Because it was Conference weekend, we also decided to carry on some very important Conference traditions. German Pancakes on Sunday (as I've done with the Dallof's almost every Conference since I can remember) and the Nelson Family tradition of donut-making during Priesthood Session. I don't wanna brag, but daaaaaaaaang. We did pretty good. Probably just because I smothered everything in Nutella and sugar. Can't go wrong.

We also hit some amazing restaurants, did puzzles, and watched ridiculous amounts of baseball. Plus, anytime we didn't go out, my parents spent the evening making all our favorite home cooked meals. It was so nice to have them here and just relax, not having to worry about anything, and being distracted from having to feel all the feelings that were so confusing to deal with. We are the luckiest.

Doing fast food right, crate-style with all the sweet potato pies Bojangles can offer: 

Nuca is obsessed with her grandparents and, as evidenced, was never more than 2 inches away from one or the other at any given moment. It was pretty adorbs. She loved having such special visitors.

The last few days they were here, the weather finally cleared up and we were able to spend some time exploring! While Robbie was at work, we loaded up the pooch and drove out to Myrtle Beach. It was the (almost) perfect day (could only have been complete if Rob had been there). We spent hours just walking down the length of the beach and letting Nuca wig out jumping back and forth through all the waves. We even found a bunch of retirees hunting for ancient shark teeth, so that's crazy cool! While we were having lunch on the pier (best fish sandwich e'er), Nuca proved to be the main attraction. Everyone stopped to fawn over her and tell us how beautiful she was. Cutest pooch won them all over. What a great day. The ocean breeze made the sunny day perfect weather. We also drove around looking at all the real estate up there and I lost myself in daydreams of one day being a richie rich and owning a beautiful beach house.

After my parents left, Robbie and I had some time on our own to digest everything. We relaxed for another week or so, and then decided we needed to start having some weekend adventures to take our attention. We spent our next big Saturday in Charleston!

Charleston - October 17, 2015

Charleston was BEAUTIFUL! Ocean views, adorable charming houses with huge wrap around porches and AMAZING FOOD. Seriously, these posts will almost always involve descriptions of what we ate because all our adventures revolve around finding delicious food.

All the heart eyes, I'm such a sucker for these big porches

Lunch at Jestine's Kitchen did not disappoint. I had a BLFGT sandwich, see if you can figure that one out. Yes, that's right, a Bacon Lettuce FRIED GREEN TOMATO sandwich. Are you kidding me?! It was amazing. I don't know if plain old BLT's will be enough for me ever again.

We had dinner at a place called Hyman's Seafood and WOW-zas, this may have been the highlight of the day. Since we've been in South Carolina, I have had my fair share of hushpuppies (basically deep fried pancake balls) but these were out of this world! I had way more than I should have. Beyond that, a mixed platter of fish, shrimp, crabcakes, etc. made this meal a party in the mouth.


The rest of the day, we walked up and down the coastline, explored King Street (the shopping district that is still somehow fun for non-shoppers), and wandered through beautiful parks. We even happened to be sitting on a bench right outside a gazebo when a wedding party showed up and had their ceremony right there in front of us! What a magical day.

King Street

Weddings! I love weddings! Drinks all around!

Camping in Asheville, NC - October 24th

Before we even moved to the south, my sister Brittany told us to make sure that we made our way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina sometime during our first fall to see the leaves changing.   We decided to camp up there and make a weekend out of it. Since these are our closest mountains and they are 3.5 hours away (which is rough on these Utah kids), we need to take advantage of every opportunity to see them and bask in their beauty! Not to mention the pooch loves camping. Let me tell you, I have never received better advice in my life! I mean look at this!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a GORGEOUS highway that stretches along the tops of the mountain range. As you drive around the bends, all of a sudden this amazing vista just appears before your eyes. You stop and stare for as long as you can, unable to fully take it all in and finally reluctantly get back into the car to keep going, when 1 minute down the road you see another even better view and that continues for MILES. It's unreal. I tried to take pictures, but nothing captured how just plain powerful it was.

We also explored a little of downtown Asheville, which basically feels like the lovechild of Park City and San Francisco. It's awesome. As we were driving down one of the streets, we saw a really long line of people coming out of a building. Since we are sheep, we were immediately curious about what could be drawing such a big crowd. Naturally, we parked and joined the fun. Well, turns out we were in line for the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Have you ever seen the movie Chocolat? Well, we lived it. The crappy part was that there aren't any prices listed and not even full menus until you get up to the front and it's time to order. I was so overwhelmed with trying to decide what to get that I unknowingly spent $20 on two teeny tiny (espresso-sized) hot chocolates and four teeny tiny chocolates. They tricked me! Anyway, it was pretty delicious. And the hot chocolate was so thick, it was basically just melted chocolate. So, kind of a win?

Either way, camping and hiking with my man and my pooch made this the best, most relaxing weekend.

My two favorites:

Visiting the Brockbanks in Durham, NC - October 30, 2015

One of Robbie's good friends from high school, Ben Brockbank, is doing his residency in anesthesiology at Duke (smarty pants). Ben lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife Alyse and their baby girl McKenzie. We've talked about visiting them ever since we got here, but spontaneously decided that Halloween was the perfect weekend to do so! You need to jump when a busy resident tells you he has the weekend off. Plus, we are still fairly lacking in the good-friends-in-Florence-that-you-party-with-on-Halloween crowd so off we went to North Carolina for the second weekend in a row!

It was such a great weekend! Ben and Robbie have always been friends, but the best thing is that it has been so easy for me to become friends with Alyse. That girl is the easiest person in the world to talk to. (Robbie and I call this the "Katie HI factor" in honor of our sister-in-law). She is so good, so down to earth. And man, that Kenzie is the CUTEST little babe in the land. Look at her Halloween costume! Isn't she the perfect real-life Cabbage Patch Doll?

It seems impossible, but she's actually even cuter in real life than she is in these photos. Also, this little minion made me wish a teeny that we had dressed up Nuca for the holiday: 

Alyse and I spent the weekend mostly gabbing while Robbie, Ben and Ben's brother Brandon spent the weekend doing more manly things like frisbee golf, installing ceiling fans, etc. Plus, we all gamed it up at night. Really, it was a win-win for all involved.

Finally, we took a visit to grand ol' Duke University. Thought of Scottie, my brother-in-law, and the year that he and my sister spent in this beautiful place. 

Last sidenote: Before we left for North Carolina, we also had a chance to ring in Halloween on our own by carving our pumpkins. Robbie is a true artist and will only carve something he has designed himself. He refuses to look at designs on the internet, so his original design is our Nuca Pooch Pumpkin. I, on the other hand, have no pride in my pumpkin designing skills, so I cheated and tried to mimick the Tree of Gondor (LOTR reference). It was working pretty well until one whole chunk of tree branch fell off. Oops.

Overall, the past month has been pretty crazy, but Robbie and I have definitely grown closer through it all. We have dealt with change, hardship, compassion, kindness and have grown to love and appreciate our new home.