last call: always bloggy meet-up!

I've been silent on this topic for the past few weeks...life has been a smidge wild. But, silent no more! The deadline to sign up for Always Bloggy in Philly draws nigh! If you've been fence sitting, we're asking that you drop an email today to let us know if you'll be joining us on October 7th in Philadelphia!

We've got an ultra fantastic crew of ladies who are meeting up with us...I certainly hope you're one of them. :)

Click here to read all the info you'll need!


the long goodbye.

Gabe wrote this at 4am, before we left for the airport. He'll loathe that I'm
sharing his "boyish" handwriting...but I adore it.

I'm the worst at goodbyes. My heart feels goodbyes deeply, but my mouth cannot properly express them. Rather than forming heartfelt sentiments, words like, "Keep on truckin'" come out of my mouth. Yep. Keep. On. Truckin.

Gabriel is much better at goodbyes. His goodbyes begin days in advance, as he grows quiet and squeezes my hand a little tighter. He says his goodbyes in extra "I love yous", weaves them into countless tight, wordless hugs for days. His goodbyes are said by stocking my house with flowers. By overnighting this book, which was sold out everywhere in town. Just something to look forward to on this crummy day, he said.

This will be our longest goodbye...six months. It began at 5am today and will end just days before Christmas. We always think it will get easier, each goodbye. Like someday we'll be old pros at not being face to face, at not kissing each other goodnight or giggling over how often I curse like a sailor. But it doesn't get easier. With every visit there's a little bit more love built, memories shared and learning to feel our rekindled love from across an ocean will never get easier.

But, if anything, it's a small blessing. The loneliness I feel when he is gone reminds me of how very, very much is bundled up in him. And how supremely lucky I am to call him my future husband.


on tackling wedding envy.

It's time to come clean: While in Paris, I thought eloping would be romantic. A day that would be just ours...no tears shed over budgetary stress, finding the perfect dress or trimming down the guest list. We wouldn't have to decide if the wedding would be in Wisconsin or California. We could be hitched before he returned to Iraq, and I wouldn't have to plan a wedding alone. If I was for real, Gabe was heavily pro-elopement. I was fence-sitting.

But I didn't have a dress. And you get one real wedding day. If you elope, that's kind of it. And we would still would have to say goodbye for six months...I'd just be bidding my husband adieu, rather than kissing my fiance goodbye. That sounded even worse. And let's face it: I might as well spend my newly-engaged time tinkling with wedding projects, rather than spend my first newlywed year sadly watching episodes of Modern Family and eating pints of Half Baked, waiting for the hubs to finish his time in Baghdad.

So we didn't. And most of the time I'm glad, because the silly girl inside does still want a dress, a wedding, a weekend with my nearest and dearest...killer photos to show the kiddos someday. This girl's throwin' a wedding. And I'm so excited about it. But dang, that ish is expensive and a lil' stressful.

And here's the stress: Wedding perfection. I've kept my distance from wedding blogs and magazines for the past three weeks, because rather than feeling inspired when I read pages and pages of pastel candy-coated nuptial perfection, I'm left feeling waaaahh-waaah. Because Gabe and I don't look like models. Or have a mint green vintage car to drive off in. Because my father isn't going to build us a wedding barn with his own two hands. Because I can't fit in my grandmother's wedding dress. Because we can't whittle our own cake toppers. Because I can't sew my bridesmaids' dresses out of vintage fabric. Because I'm not a graphic designer, and I can't screenprint our invitations onto vintage hankies.

As you can imagine, the "can't" list goes on and on. But I have to be done with "can't", otherwise I risk spending multiple bridezilla-esque months hyperventilating over a specific shade of Sea Breeze Green...rather than infusing our wedding with love and our personality. Even if our day doesn't rival the weddings of Martha Stewart magazine or 100 Layer Cake, we can make an entirely beautiful-to-us day. 

So here's my wedding can-do list:

We can stop worrying about what is "in", and start stocking up in what is "us".

We can ensure that our closest family and friends know how much they are loved and their presence appreciated.

I can wear something that makes me feel like a bajillion bucks. He can look pretty hot, too.

We can make sure our bridesmaids feel gorgeous (because they all are!) and flattered.

We can serve food that is fun + yummy, rather than food that is expected and traditional.

We can have a dessert buffet...no matter what it costs.

We can invest in a fabulous photographer, allowing us to remember all our little beautiful efforts.

But most of all, we can remember that our wedding is just a day...but we are forever.


Brides, brides-to-be or girls who simply like to dream in advance:

How do you avoid feeling inferior + getting overwhelmed by ultra creative wedding blogs, magazines and books?


gettin' betrothed: how it happened.

We took a few engagement photos at our hotel...just for kicks.

There are two standard questions that I love to ask married couples: how did you meet, and how did he propose? They tell so much about a couple. Some are simple, not tied-up with romance, yet still laced with sweetness. Others are over-the-top and romantic, like a heart-thumping snippet from a favorite novel. A few are immensely personal, involving scheming, special places, people or experiences.

Gabriel's proposal was a pinch of sweetness, a handful of scheming...and heavy on the romance. Here's how it happened...

I awoke on June 9th in my coziest sweats, wondering just how long I could stay in my blanket cocoon. My eyesight was fuzzy, and I was unusually tired...after a few sundrenched moments I remembered why: I was in Paris, still recovering from jet lag. Eager to get started on the day, I skipped the shower, and Gabriel and I went for a breakfast of cafe au laits, buttery croissants and apricot jam. We spent the rest of the morning checking into a beautiful hotel, the Shangri-La, which Gabe had kept as a big surprise until we arrived. It was a breathtaking building from the 1800's, formerly the home of Napoleon Bonaparte's grand nephew...or something equally stunning. Most notably, it smelled like I imagine heaven does. The hotel had its own bottled scent, I tell you.

After taking a tour of the historic hotel and getting an eyeful of our rooftop terrace with an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower, we walked through the Jardin des Tuileries, past the Louvre and across the Seine River to the Musee d'Orsay. That afternoon, I cried while gazing at vivid Van Goghs and dreamy Degas ballet canvases. Gabriel was considerably less moved by the artwork, but enjoyed it none-the-less. After maxing out on art history, we started on our hand-in-hand walk back to the hotel, taking the long way up the Champs-Élysées, pausing to ogle the Arc de Triomphe and Ladurée, whose line was too long to even consider sneaking in for a macaron.

It was evening by the time we rounded the corner of Avenue D'Ilena, our hotel's black iron gates lay just up the block ready to welcome our weary, well-traveled souls. By this time, we'd conquered a 6-mile walk and several hours in a museum. Gabriel had gotten quiet and for the last mile had developed a habit of checking the time every few steps...but my feet were too tired and I was too sweaty to ask why. Our hotel was steps away, so surely this newly-acquired habit would stop soon.

"Bonsoir, Monsieur. Madame," the doorman grinned at us, tipping his black top hat and holding the door open for us as we padded up the white marble steps.

"Bonsoir! Merci!" Even when I was tired, I was always too chipper to be Parisian. We rode the elevator up to our floor, where I hopped onto the computer immediately and began uploading the photos from that day.

"Let's go check out the terrace...it's kind of hot in here," Gabe was looking at the time again.

"Hmm. Okay." I shrugged, kicking off my shoes. 

I trudged up the carpeted stairs, paused at the landing and turned the handle of our terrace door. I could already see the Eiffel Tower through the glass...but upon opening the door fully I lost any ability to speak. Our rooftop terrace had been transformed into some crazy-romance-movie set. It was covered in roses. Literally hundreds of roses...and countless candles. A bottle of champagne and two flutes sat on the glass tabletop. 

My speechlessness subsided, and suddenly my mouth couldn't stop: "Who did this? Did you order this? Where did all these come from? My birthday was yesterday!" Questions kept spilling out. I was flabbergasted.

Gabe laughed and casually lifted the champagne bottle from its ice bucket. As he worked to uncork the bottle, I continued to flit from rose-display to rose display, stopping to gaze out at our perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. I couldn't believe it all--the view, the roses, the romance...everything. But, in my stunned state I still hadn't added it all up to equal proposal.

"Come here," he smiled, handing me a champagne flute. He rested his free hand on my hip and pulled me in close. "I would just like to toast to the girl who makes me happier than anything in the world, and who I love more than I could ever have imagined. To someone who is so kind, so creative. To a girl who makes me laugh...."

"Well, I would like to toast back...to the guy--"

He cut me off. "You can't toast...just wait." 

"I don't get to toast?! What? What is this, 1940?" I spouted, giving him a spunky grin. Clearly, I was not grasping what was going on.

"No, you don't. Just wait. I want to toast to the girl who makes life better by just being around. And to the girl I want to love and spend forever with. So, Bethany Eileen...will you marry me?"

He pulled a sparkler-of-a-ring out of his shirt pocket and I do believe my jaw dropped. And then I said it. That thing I probably shouldn't have said, but did anyway:

"So, are you going to get down on one knee for this thing, or what?"

Ah, yes. I said that. The thing our children will likely laugh about someday and say, "That is so mom." But he obliged, laughing all the way, even dropping to both knees to repeat that question we girls wait decades to hear.

"Yes! Absolutely, yes!" I squealed as he slipped the shimmering ring on my finger. 

By this time I'd begun crying happy, happy tears. Then there was kissing, and I'll leave all that out for the sake of my family...cause...gross. (But really, if you're not my parents...I will confirm that there was definitely kissing.) Then I begged to know how this was all set up. Gabriel explained that he'd been in cahoots with the hotel for months, scheming with the staff to set up everything on our terrace while we were out sightseeing, then be out of the scene by 7pm. He even requested that they forgo any orange roses since they kind of skeeve me.

Just a few minutes after the question was popped!

Within minutes I exclaimed that I had to call my best friend...and my mother...and my father...and my sister...and my grandma...and the list went on and on. We stayed up on the terrace, calling our family, drinking champagne and watching night fall on Paris. Gabe defended his fourth glass of champagne by saying that although he'd been shot at while in the military, this was still the most nervous day of his life...so he deserved every drop of booze he drank. 

We ordered a second bottle. And room service, which we enjoyed while still on the terrace.

When the Eiffel Tower began sparkling every hour on the hour, as it does at sundown, we knew we'd spent no less than three hours calling our nearest and dearest...and it was time to slip away from the phone and enjoy the last few moments of our engagement night. We strolled to the Eiffel Tower, buzzing with excitement the entire way. It was late, nearly midnight, so we'd missed the cut-off for purchasing tickets to ride up, but were content to sit on a bench and snuggle. I stared at my ring through our interlocked fingers and let it all sink in. How much I was loved. How much I loved.

Sitting here, almost a week later and thousands of miles away, I still get misty-eyed and swear that night could have gone on and on...and I'd have not objected. I was overwhelmed...and it wasn't about Paris, or roses or a big ol' diamond...although those things certainly make for a great story. It was how very much Gabriel loved me that had left me overwhelmed. All the time, effort and thought that had gone into the evening. How well he knew just what would delight me.

While sitting beneath the Eiffel Tower, we pinky swore not to touch "wedding planning" until we hit U.S. soil. No talk of locations or dates. Or dresses. Or diets. Or bridal parties. Nothing. Just us. And Paris. And my ol' sparkly ring.

But I'll have you know, the second our return flight wheels hit the ground for a Chicago layover, I turned to Gabriel and said in my most ominous voice, "Let's...plan...a wedding..."

I've never seen a more frightened man. :)


Thank you so, so much for all your congratulations! We've had so much fun reading them over the past few days...and I'm amazed at the way women I don't even know in real life can be so continually supportive of our love.

And also, to answer a few questions, YES! That is my ring! Isn't it lovely? Gabriel could not have pegged my taste any better...although it sounds like it certainly wasn't easy. He claims he was more nervous about the ring than about the actual proposal. :)


j'aime mon fiancé.

They say opposites attract. I've often thought this was a phrase penned simply to further storylines in our favorite romantic novels or to explain why nice girls routinely fall for bad boys. But then I met Gabriel.

He is technical, and I am creative.
He is steady and I am an emotional mess.
He is stick-to-it-iveness embodied, and I...well, I am not.
He is logical, and I am whimsical.
He is softspoken, and I am likely to be heard in a room.
He is athletic, and I'm artistic.
He is right brained, and I am all left.

Yet regardless of all these differences, there is a balance that makes life better for both of us. I can tie his bows and he can troubleshoot my software...so to speak. There are gentle, kind moments, thoughtfully supportive words and cheerful laughs. There's elated talk of the future, savoring of the present and turning over of the past.

Whether from six thousand miles away or six inches apart, our love simply works. And so, he will become my husband. And I will become his wife.

We couldn't be any happier. :)

vloggity vlog: giveaway winner!

Alright, amigos...it is here! My very first vlog announcing the Anthro Giveaway winner, and it's from Paris, too! Just a few side comments that I must make first:

1. Please note that I should have begun vlogging in baby steps: start behind a friendly webcam and move forward from there. That allows one to unlearn any awkward body movements + creepy smiles, as well as stage a position that minimizes arm flab. As you're about to see, I've removed neither. Au natural, baby. That's how I like it.

2. My hair looks wild. It rained all day and we walked all day with the lamest umbrellas you've ever seen. 'Nuff said.

3. Behind the camera sits approximately seventeen terraces overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Gabe and I shot this sucker with an iPhone as fast as possible, given that wealthy, attractive people were mingling within eye + ear shot. I was more frightened than that one time in third grade when I gave a speech on making the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And that was the time I almost threw up.

I promise it's quite not as grainy as the still shot below, so watch away! If you're the winner, email me at wwrinserepeat@gmail.com... and the gift card will come to your doorstep. :)


technology fail = erin's rule now in play!!

Bonsoir, lovelies! I am here in beautiful Paris...still a little jet lagged...but trying my darnedest to snap into tourist mode and drink in all there is to see.

It seems our lot in travels abroad for Gabe and I to experience awful, awful luck with Internet and gorgeous Pair-ee has been no exception. Currently I am penning this post from an iPad...something I would liken to attempting to play a children's keyboard with sausages for fingers. Gabe has already interrupted a few cuss-filled fights between the Pad, Internet and I, and I can ensure that the longer I attempt to type, the more fearsome these battles shall become.

To that end, I am going to forego sharing any photos or attempting to upload any videos announcing the winner of the AnthroGiveaway and will instead pronounce Wednesday evening and all of Thursday as days for Erin's Rule!!

For those new to Erin's Rule, the rule is named after my dear blog friend Erin, who is always delightfully eager to win giveaways. The rule is this:

On the final day of a giveaway, all readers shall have an extra shot at commenting on the giveaway post and increasing their chances to win the prize.

That's it...it really is that easy! So get to gettin'...and by Friday I will hopefully have found an Internet connection stable enough to upload photos and my first vlog announcing the winner!


saturday potpourri.

No, I did not make my own potpourri. But that would have been awfully Martha Stewart of me, no? But this post is pretty potpourri. Usually I try to keep posts fairly centered on one subject 'round here, but given that I'm sans internet at home, I'm stuck making trips to my friendly local coffee shop to steal their 'net and catch up on my e-mail, blogs, etc. And a girl can only afford so many chai lattes, right? So, I'm about to bundle five posts into one.

Ready to get your grab bag on? Okay.

one : : : Aliva over at Alivia Thinks This was sweet enough to choose me as her Featured Blogger of the Month! Alivia is a fantastic curator of photos, words and stories, both her own and those of others...her blog is a great place to stock up on your daily dose of beautiful. I was completely honored when she chose to feature me. I wrote a little piece that she'll be sharing in the next few days, so I'll be sure to link over when that happens. In the meantime, check her out. We love her.

two : : : Shannon and I are still getting emails about the Always Bloggy in Philly Meet Up...which we're totally jazzed about. We're asking anyone interested to drop us an email by Thursday, June 30th so we can move forward with our planning! :) I'm so excited to finally meet some of the girls that I've "known" for several years, but have never seen face to face!

three : : : Don’t forget to enter my Anthropologie Giveaway. You could buy this candle, it's my favorite ridiculously-priced Anthro splurge…or this sweet summer top…or these mugs for your entire family…or, okay I’ll stop. You get the point.

four : : : Alright, there isn’t a four. Except to say…have a fantastic day. 


birthday giveaway: my favorite thing

Next week encompasses three exciting things for me: 

one: : : my 25th birthday
two: : : my first ever trip to Paris
three: : : reuniting with my love, who I haven't seen in over four months

I am having such a difficult time keeping my excitement bottled up. I've found myself pacing up and down my new apartment hall...full of energy but unable to focus on a single thing. Though I'm totally moved in to my new place, I haven't unpacked a single box. Cannot. Focus.

So, in order to celebrate this trifecta of beautiful awesomeness, I've decided to give away my very, very favorite thing:

Please forgive my graphics. Big mama computer + internet is yet to be hooked up at the new place.

Yes, my pals. A $50 Anthropologie gift card. Yay! And since I'll be in Paris on my birthday...I will announce the winner on Wednesday, June 8th, my b-day, in the form of my first ever vlog**...recorded at the Eiffel Tower. I am scared about that. But hey, why not jazz things up? :)

For your first entry, be or become a follower of my blog, and leave a comment letting me know!
For an extra entry, share the link to this post via your blog or Facebook, and double back to let me know you did so!

This giveaway is open internationally and will remain open until Wednesday morning. Keep your eyes peeled because we might be rockin' Erin's Rule next Tuesday. Just sayin'. :)

Ready? Go comment! :)

**Is it silly that I'm nervous about vlogging? Why is it that my voice is so much more terrible on video, and my facial expressions are infinitely more disturbing? Oh my.


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