Wednesday, November 21, 2012


So, it's that time of year again when the things people are thankful for come to the forefront of their mind. It's things we're thankful for all year long, but because there is a holiday called THANKSgiving, we tend to actually realize those things for which we are grateful. I chose not to post everyday on Facebook about my list and rather chose to have a little narrative about it all.  Surprised? I didn't think so :)

I am so blessed to have so many things in my life for which I can be thankful. My family is number one. That includes my husband, whom I adore and am eternally blessed to have in my life. A man who loves me no matter what, whose smile and laughter makes my heart melt and whom without, I know  I wouldn't  be who I am. My family also includes my amazing parents who raised me to see the good in everything, to be faithful, loving and trustworthy. My brothers who I have always looked up to and admired. I am always proud to tell people that I have two big brothers. I think it's the best way to grow up, the best family dynamic, the best of everything. I know that it's all I know, but I truly believe being the baby girl with two big brothers who care about me, watch over me and believe in me is the greatest thing ever:) My cousins and aunts and uncles on both the Green and Ahlers side make me so happy. I love that no matter where we are in life, the distance between us or the amount of time that passes that we might not talk, my cousins were my first friends and I find it really cool to have that bond start from such a young age and grow with us as we all grow. I am so lucky to have my Doenges and Palmer family. I married into  some greatness there:)

Another part of our growing family includes my nieces and nephews. I am a lucky aunt to have gained three of those from the Palmer family as well:) Ainsley and Freddie make my life whole. Just the thought of them brings a smile to my face. I seriously sit around sometimes and just think about them and find myself grinning like a fool. So, thank you Clifton and Jaime for that:)

While mentioning family, I will go straight into how thankful I am for my friends. God has blessed me abundantly in this area. I have my number one, my other half, the Hollz to my Keek. I don't remember life without her and I am so so lucky that no matter what, we're us. It's amazing how distance doesn't matter.  It's not always fun being so far apart, but multiple daily phone calls and texts keep us who we are. I also have my Seven. Talk about friendship! Three of whom I have known for almost my entire life, and others we picked up along the way. People grow up, grow apart, go their separate ways. We can't seem to get rid of each other. And we like it that way:) Then there's my CT best friends who I waited a long time for. It felt like when I first moved here that everyone I met grew up here an had their own group of friends and while I made some nice acquaintances, I never really fit in anywhere.  Then Oliver and I went to a wedding for a friend of his and I met his friends girlfriend, Krystie. When we got back from that wedding, we started hanging out and became great friends. Then, Krystie introduced me to Jess, another cop wife. The three of us have so much fun together and I couldn't ask for better girlfriends!

Next, I am thankful for a mish-mosh of things; like my job. While it's not always easy working with a staff made up entirely of women, I am thankful for the women I work for and work with. And on the subject of work, I am extremely thankful that I love my job. Teaching is the most rewarding thing I can do with my life. I love my students, even when they make me crazy. Because even as one is running around the classroom making me want to pull my hair out, a moment later we are sitting in a circle and they tell me they are thankful for me because I am their favorite teacher and they love me. Does it get better than that? I don't think so.

I am thankful for nature. All of it. Especially during this season. I love the Fall. I frequently find myself thanking God for the beauty He put on this earth. Everything from sunrises and sunsets, to any and every body of water that glistens in the sun, the vivid colors of the leaves and the beautiful blue skies and puffy clouds.

I am thankful for Zeta Tau Alpha. The joy this organization has brought to my life is unbelievable. From all of my Longwood Zeta's, my pledge sisters, my perfect family and all of the traditions that being a Zeta from Farmville entails. Then, I was lucky enough to have a chapter open in CT that brings me so much pride. The ladies of the Lambda Alpha chapter of ZTA make my heart swell with  pride when I see them volunteering, raising money and awareness for breast cancer and even just   watching them grow throughout their college years.

I thank God everyday for these things, but sharing them with the world (or the three people who read
this blog;) feels nice too. And none of these things would even be possible without God, so to say I'm thankful for my faith wouldn't even begin to describe it. So there you have it, my 2012 thankful post. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, laughter and smiles.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Birthday Snob

So...I blame it on my parents. I am a birthday snob. I love birthdays (everyone's!) but especially mine. It is a special day where everyone celebrates YOU! One day out of the year that your family, friends, loved ones, celebrate your life and the fact that you are in their life.

I say I blame it on good 'ole Kip and denise because they showered me and my brothers with birthday love and sentiments and gifts and everything every year! I was a princess for a day (family-hold your tongue with the spoiled comments that it wasn't just for ONE day;) I was the baby and the only girl, so deal with it:)

Every year we would wake up to the White family Happy Birthday banner draped across the wall in the kitchen. We would have birthday pancakes with a candle. I had a birthday button I would wear on my shirt. Birthday cards and presents were set out on the table. Sometimes we could open one in the morning but have to wait for the rest for after school. Side note-if I even went to school! My birthday is on Veteran's Day which is a government holiday. We still had school, but my daddy didn't have to work, so sometimes he would pick me up from school early:) Which led me to truly believe no one should work on their birthday. When I got to college and saw on a syllabus on the first day of class that there was an exam scheduled on November 11th, I told the professor I would need to take that exam early because I wouldn't be in class that day. True story.

I don't have to worry about that up here in CT where we have every holiday known to man off from school. Don't think that the true meaning of Veteran's Day is lost on me either though. I am honored to share my birthday with such a praiseworthy holiday. I appreciate all that veterans have done for our country and I love that I can share that day of celebrations.

But, back to bday celebrations. Our family is also known for the all day birthday phone calls. All day long I would get calls from aunts, uncles and grandparents singing to me. That continues to this day. And I love it. Any birthday cards that would come in the mail early were opened and displayed somewhere in the house for pretty much the whole month, if not just for the days leading up to the actual birthday. I start getting excited about my birthday in like mid-October, but the real anticipation begins right after Halloween. It's like I have the distraction of Halloween and then bam! It's November 1st. On my sixteenth birthday, I got a present everyday for all sixteen days leading up to November 11th. My mom worked at my school and had things delivered to me in class even! One day I received a huge bouquet of balloons in my Spanish class and walked down the hall carrying a big bunch of mylar balloons the rest of the day. Obnoxious? Sorry. I loved it.

When I got to college, I'd receive care packages and cards but I was worried it wouldn't be the same. Enter Hollee Higbea. She knew how I was about birthdays and not only did she get it, she made an actual happy birthday banner to hang across my dorm room door for when I woke up that first November away from home. There were handmade posters and signs hanging on my door and it melted my heart. The next four years of college birthdays were pretty amazing (cubes, blueberry madness, frank:) Including a HUGE surprise visit from not one, but BOTH of my brothers on my 21st! One from CT and one (and his then girlfriend, my now sister-in-law) from NC. It was amazing. It is difficult to surprise me, but they pulled it off and I FREAKED.

When I moved to CT, again I worried my birthday's might not be the same so far from home. Hollee has made it to every birthday since I've lived here and this is the first year she wont be able to. --I don't wanna talk about it.--
Even my M7 has made the trek to celebrate with me. Thanks to Mrs. DeSimone's minivan:) We went into NYC one year and got super crazy, stayed out til 5 am and had an awesome time cramming seven girls into one hotel room.

Last year was the year I had waited for my whole life. 11/11/11. I seriously started planning the celebration when I was nine. The girls all came up, and we did a bar crawl through SoNo and had a blast.

I've been so lucky that most people have the holiday off from work and can travel to be with me. I am so blessed to have such amazing friends who celebrate me on my favorite day of the year. This is the first year my VA friends aren't coming. I am a little bummed, but I completely understand, life happens, and I don't ever get to take off from school to go down there for their birthday's, so I get it. Doesn't mean I like it though! This is also the first year that I don't have anything planned to celebrate. There have been a few things in the works, but plans have changed and changed again and the pieces don't seem to be fitting into place to make a big fun thing happen.

Am I getting too old to be so excited about birthdays? No, sorry, I can't believe that. Like I said, I love birthdays. Always will. I love other peoples birthdays too, maybe because it's just instilled in me to get excited for others to have a day all to themselves! When it's a student's birthday at school, they get a crown and stickers and special privileges all day! When it's a family member's birthday I call them like 26741 times throughout the day. I will always be a child at heart when it comes to November 11th. I even wanna go play laser tag...I'm just having a hard time finding a place for adults! Maybe that should be my next business venture:)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Six Years and Nostalgic

"I never dreamed home would end up where I don't belong."
-babykeek11 AIM profile quote summer '06

On this very day six years ago, I packed up my stuff and made the move to Connecticut. July 31, 2006 I had a "moving mix" on my little pink iPod and blasted it all the way up 95, over the DelMem bridge, the Jersey Turnpike, over the GW bridge and into southern CT. 

The mix had some great songs about growing up, leaving, moving on, etc. One in particular was super dramatic...Rascal Flatts aptly titled "Moving On." Not upbeat for a car ride, but definitely thought provoking. I am sure this song is about some very real life thing that happened to someone and at the time, I definitely felt that I was going through a huge change.

"There comes a time in everyone's life when all you can see are the years passin' by and I have made up my mind that those days are gone." 

I don't think those days are ever gone, I think you always want more time, one more hug, one more minute, more life to live. It's also just more about what you do with the time and I was ready to make the most out of life. I graduated college that summer and was still debating what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I actually cried the day after graduation because I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. The uncertainty terrified me. I always felt that I would go somewhere other than Northern Virginia, and wanted to be close to NYC. I did an internship between my junior and senior years of college in southern CT and Manhattan and I loved it. That was probably one of the best summers of my life. Sleeping on the floor in my brothers room, living with three boy roommates, hiding in the trunk of a car to get into an "elite" beach in Greenwich, going out with my brother and his friends, the memories are awesome:) I digress...but that summer is definitely one of the reasons I looked so fondly upon southern CT. It wasn't until the fourth of July in 2006 when my mom and I were up here visiting my brother and some family in the area that I made my final decision to make the move. 

So, the rest of the month I packed, hung out with Megan on my parents deck laying in the sun drinking gin and tonic all day, and squeezed every last moment in with my M7 before being the first of our group to make the journey to live in a different state. 

I moved in with Cameron and began looking for jobs. A friend's father owned a head hunter agency and she hooked me up with him. I was sent on an interview to be a receptionist at a yacht club in Greenwich. It sounded swanky and I was excited. I could figure out what I really wanted to do while working at the front desk and maybe meet a rich Greenwich boy (that was mostly dad's dream;) I was hired on the spot and started the next day. I loved it there, the main woman who ran the reception area was in her forties and so nice and welcoming. She became like a motherly figure and friend as she showed me the ropes and introduced me to the other employees. One of whom was Oliver:)

I was still looking for other jobs in the media field (had to do something with my Comm degree!) and found a freelance position doing encode for a media group. It was in the same building where I did my internship and just so happened to be the same building where Cameron worked (ha, none of this was a coincidence:) 

After about four months of this job I began thinking about what else I could do. I received an email from a friend who was an Au pair in Italy about another Italian family looking for a summer Au pair. It sounded awesome, but I had just graduated, started a new job and should be getting my life on the right path, so I didn't act on anything. A month or so later, I decided what the heck, this could be an awesome opportunity and I checked in with my friend to see if the family had found an Au pair. They had not. The family got in touch with me, had a little phone interview and bam, I was moving to Italy! During this time, I also decided that the media field might not be for me. It was kind of stagnant, not easy to move up and it wasn't as glamorous as I had hoped it might be working "behind the scenes" of TV. I looked back and realized that the happiest I ever was in a job was when I was a camp counselor. I love kids and I always had teaching in the back of my mind, so I began looking into grad school for teaching. I applied to grad school and took the entrance exam less than a week before I left for Italy. I actually found out while in Italy that I got in and I would start as soon as I got back! Super exciting time.

Italy was AMAZING, I had an awesome summer, learned so much about myself and came home to the greatest boyfriend waiting at the airport for me with roses and the brand new Kelly Clarkson CD. Doesn't get much better than that!

I have come a long way since that move in '06. Since coming to Connecticut, I have worked in the media field, gotten a Master's degree, taught in my own classroom for two years, gotten married and I no longer have to hide in a trunk to get into that beach!

Northern VA might not have been where I belonged, but it's always gonna be home:)
"I always find another piece of me walking around these old familiar streets. Thank God for home towns."
-thelifeofkeek blog quote summer '12

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm a Walker

So, I've written many a blog about exercise and healthy living. Some of you followed me through my boot camp, then through the month of movement, etc. I've been walking for a while now, I'll get really into it and walk everyday and then take a hiatus for whatever reason. I am back into it now. Oliver and I signed up for a 5K and started "training" a few months ago. I put that word in quotes because we aren't training to run the 5K. "Train to WALK a 5K?" you might ask? (as many have...) Yes.

What we wanted/needed was the date. September 9th. We just wanted a goal to work toward and to know we had to be prepared to get up and be responsible for something on a certain day. I have been advised by doctors and trainers NOT to run. EVER. And every time I start walking, get confident and want to go faster, I do...and within days I am injured. I'm not meant to be a runner. Fine. Walking is actually better for your joints and body, so I am okay with it. Plus, I can walk fast and get my heart rate up. So, I am sick of hearing people say things about me and my 5K plans. I don't have this blog to rant and complain, but here I am trying to feel good about myself getting out there and some of the reactions I get about walking are anything but helpful. "You don't need to TRAIN to walk a 5K," "why did you sign up for it if you're just going to walk it?" "what's the point?"

What's the point people? The point is that no matter if I walk one mile in one hour, I am still going further, harder and faster than the old me on the couch. Plus, we are raising money for a good cause. We found an event in Fairfield that raises money for CancerCare; an organization that provides free support, counseling, education and financial assistance to anyone who has been affected by cancer (self, family member, friend.) If you'd like to donate (even the smallest amount!) please visit our site

C and O Donation Page

Anyhow, we will not be walking one mile in an hour because we try to go faster every time we go out. On one recent walk, my trusty MapMyRun app (who speaks out loud to me:) startled us by saying we hit the one mile mark when we were only 14 minutes into our walk. 14 minutes isn't a fast walking mile, but we weren't even trying really and it shocked us that we were moving so much more quickly than our average (slight effort) 18 minute mile. Oliver even said, "wait, is that thing accurate? are you sure?"

The point is that really the goal is to get up and move, be outside, spend time together away from TV and electronic devices (yes, O has become a big fan of the iPad.) We get to breathe fresh air, talk about life, take in the scenery (our fave spot to walk is at the beach) and enjoy each other. Neither of us has lost very much weight (our diet def needs some changes...we eat out way too much) but it's getting in the routine of things and like I said, we are totally lapping our former couch potato selves:)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Year

So, I recently wrote a whole post about our story. The Doenges story began from somewhat rough beginnings. It confuses my soul to have such devastation and joy at the same time. But after completing the post, I decided not to put it out there. It's a personal story that most people close to us know, but my husband is private so I don't want to air too much of us that he might not be comfortable with.

I just have to say how lucky I am to have become Mrs. Doenges. One year ago this weekend, I married the most amazing man God created. We were married at his mother's bedside in what our pastor described as a "beautiful sanctuary" and I couldn't agree more. The sunlight shone through the windows of the small room filled with our family. You could literally feel the love encompassing us where we stood. My eyes teared and I giddily giggled my way through the vows when the pastor said things like "husband and wife" all the while my strict, German father-in-law giving me looks that said "keep it together," or "enough with the giggling." :)

It was beautiful, small and simple. And perfect. Ellen needed to be a part of our wedding and our marriage, and she was. We hugged and kissed her and I whispered in her ear, "we're married! I'm Mrs. Doenges now too!" and a smile slowly made it's way across her face. It is a moment and a day I will never forget.

We took pictures in the garden, drank champagne and fed each other a chocolate frosted doughnut from Dunkin Donuts.

Ellen might not have made it to our big wedding in the church and the reception at the country club, but she was witness to our exchange of vows to one another on that beautiful May day in Wilton. And for that, we are forever grateful.