The Source of my Smiles

I’ve always been a smiley person. I’m pretty sure I started smiling before all the books said I was supposed to and I haven’t stopped since. However, the source of my smiles has changed throughout the years. Recently it’s these two that make me smile so big internally and externally that I think I could burst!

I've loved my puppy for over nine years and I've loved this girl for almost four months, but I love them both so much more when they're together!
I’ve loved my puppy for over nine years and I’ve loved this girl for almost four months, but I love them both so much more when they’re together!

To get the “Awwwww” chorus going, let’s take a look at Cokie when he was a little bit younger than my niece, Juliana.

But, seriously. This dude is SO cute!
But, seriously. This dude is SO cute!

Yes, he is mine.

And yes, it is totally fair.

This is how I see him every time I look at him. And this is how he acts to this day.

Seriously, I could go on and on about him. It’s impossible to describe how much I love this boy.

Then there’s this girl.

The night I met my beautiful little niece, Juliana.
The night I met my beautiful little niece, Juliana.

I’m one of those girls who has dreamed of my future family every day of my life. I have lists and lists of baby names that I actually edit constantly. I know how many kids I want and in what order and what sports and instruments I want them to be involved in. Of course, to have babies, I need a guy. I have lists relating to that, too!

My point: I’ve been dreaming about babies for, like, forever. As a kind-of-only-child, I never really got to be around babies, but would literally pray for it everyday. So when I found out I was going to be an auntie, I couldn’t stop smiling for, like, a month. Literally.

And when I met this little cutie, my world got so much brighter.

SO CUTE.
SO CUTE.

So put the two people (yes, Cocoa is a people. He acts more like a person than a dog!) I love most together, and (forgive my teenage-girlness) I can’t even.

Buddies!
Buddies!

Cocoa is learning how to play with her. He can’t understand why she doesn’t want to play with his ropes, but he knows that his little paw or nose nudges get a little smile and squeal out of her!

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Yesterday she started smiling at him like she smiles at people she knows and my heart felt so full!

"Hi nice puppy!"
“Hi nice puppy!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce she learns the rope game (or even just the chasing game), they will be BEST BUDS.

But for now, I think they’re both content laying together on the floor and posing for me!

Pretty!

For some spectacularly inexplicable reason, our hotel decided to shoot off fireworks last night.

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Ooooooh!

To be fair, they did cancel their usual Friday night fireworks last week due to strong winds. But these were in a different location and there was an event going on on The Great Lawn just below our room.

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Ahhhhhh!

No matter what the reason, they were very pretty!

And I wish I had a picture of my viewing position because I’m sure I looked pretty silly. Fireworks are too loud! You would think with all of this technology, they could figure out how to make fireworks quieter! But, anyways, I had my ears plugged and I was squatting because the balcony above us was blocking some of the view. Meanwhile, my dad was practically leaning over the railing to watch them and was cheering for the big, loud booms. Oh, father.

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So pretty!

Anyway, they were very pretty and I thank whoever was responsible!

Home

Seven days ago I did something crazy. I said goodbye to my beloved beggars and allowed my parents to put me on a plane for over 8 hours. Okay, not skydiving-crazy, but that’s pretty crazy for me. The last time they did this, let’s just say I left my breakfast on the plane.

Beloved beggar #1: Cocoa, also known as Funny Boy, Silly Boy, Cutie Pie and Puppy.
Beloved beggar #1: Cocoa, also known as Funny Boy, Silly Boy, Cutie Pie, Buddy and Puppy.
Beloved beggar #2: Charlie, also known as Charles, Charlie Bear, King of the Jungle, Needy Boy and Cat.
Beloved beggar #2: Charlie, also known as Charles, Charlie Bear, King of the Jungle, Needy Boy and Cat.

These boys are hard to leave. They’re both pretty spoiled, but I think beggar #1 has it better. He hogs shares my bed at night and follows me around all day (what a lucky guy!). Beggar #2 is a cat, so…he does whatever the hell he wants.

Why, might you ask, did I do this?

Wouldn’t you for this view?

My favorite place on Earth.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii: my favorite place on Earth.

I made it through the century-long flight and managed to land with my dignity intact. I stepped off the plane and…the airport was air-conditioned. I walked out of the airport and…IT WAS WARM.

Now, allow to me to clarify why this was so important: I’m from Minnesota.

I’ve been basking in the cool Hawaiian rainy days warmth of the Hawaiian sun for the past week. After 6 days of “should I wear a sweatshirt or just bring my raincoat,” we are finally getting a glorious scorching hot, sunny day.

It’s not only the warmth and the ocean that make me love Hawaii. Yes, the warmth and the ocean and the palm trees and the flowers and the longer days are all incredible, but there’s this overwhelming feeling of belonging. I can’t help but feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.

Some of my favorite memories took place on these islands. It has been a gathering place for our family. We were brought here by family and have been lucky enough to show it off to some of our extended family and show them why we keep coming back.

I often look to the future while I’m out here–I imagine bringing my friends out here for a girls week. I imagine my wedding in a chapel near the beach and honeymooning on Kauai. I imagine bringing my own family and making brand new memories.

My parents laugh a little every time our plane touches down here and I proudly announce “I’m home!” But I am. While I appreciate the beauty of the changing seasons at home, Hawaii will always have a special place in my heart.

Here’s to 2015

Everyone knows that with a new year, comes a new resolution that will most likely be forgotten within a matter of weeks. Some people join a gym, some people give up chocolate (why would anyone commit such a sin?) and some start blogs.
So here I am. I’ve been playing around with the idea for almost a year and am excited to finally get it up and going.
I am a soon-to-be college graduate majoring in Mass Communications and have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with that.
I like to say that I was born in the wrong century–I love to snuggle up on the couch and read a good book or knit a scarf or watch Doris Day and Rock Hudson comedies. I am always happy to make breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts for my family and friends.
I am also involved in a little love affair with our Olympus camera. My dad likes to talk about how much more rewarding life is when you’re not looking at it through a screen, but I tend to disagree. Holding the camera in my hands makes me appreciate everything more. I see the artistry in everything and am in complete awe.
I recently became a first-time auntie and am thoroughly in love with my little niece. She’s beginning to recognize faces and my heart melts when she welcomes me with a big smile!
I can’t wait to see where life takes me next! Here’s to a fantastic 2015 and keeping resolutions!