Monday, November 24, 2014

A Seattle et al. update

I haven't blogged in a little while, trying to get set into life with Paul in Washington, letting Chloe and Paul's dog Banjo meet without any blood being shed, and learning that whole husbands-are-a-lot-smellier-than-you-anticipated thing.  

I've also been getting used to my job, which is just as amazing as I was anticipating. First off, working for Nordstrom is wonderful. Not only do I get a discount (which is one of those benefits that I didn't really think about until I got it; everybody in my family is getting a gift from Nordstrom for Christmas), my lab--the People Lab--is baller. I work with the most fun people in all of the company, we always have chocolate and other snacks on hand, and we have a beautiful view

I work in the Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle, a 42-story building that is all of 2 blocks away from Pike Place Market. I ate lunch twice in Pike Place last week (once with the team, once just 'cuz). I take the light rail from our place (which is south of Seattle) into the city every morning, and it's nice to have dedicated reading-for-fun time (since I didn't get that in my old job). 

Life is good, y'all. Here's what my office looks like:

My desk is the one closest to me taking the photo on the left of this picture. Pretty cool, right? Here's another photo from a little farther away to show our common area:

I mean, we don't have Floors USA floor or anything, but it's got a good view of downtown Seattle! 

The lab's space is new (we got it the Friday before I started!), which means we're all learning how to use the space together. It's so nice, plus it's open and welcoming to anybody who walks by (did I mention we always have chocolate on hand?!). Seriously, y'all, I am so thankful to get to work here. 

That's it for the update regarding my new workplace; more updates on husband-stuff later this week! Marriage is a lot more fun when you get to live with the person you married, so I'm excited to tell you stories (hint: there's a lot of laughter). Plus I'm trying to get back into a blogging rhythm! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some exciting news!

I already announced this via Twitter after my sweet husband forced my hand, but I've got some exciting news:

I'm moving back to Washington, y'all.

I know, I know, that's not super surprising because we got married and Paul lives in Washington, but this is six and a half years in the making, guys. I've missed Seattle and have been trying to go back for some time now (let's be honest, since 4 months into my tenure in Texas), but the timing has always been wrong.

When Paul and I decided to elope, I was already looking for jobs in the Pacific Northwest because I knew my postdoc was coming to an end and my ultimate goal was to end up closer to fam. I knew it'd be a while to find employment that would fulfill me--a requirement after very suddenly realizing that academia and life at a research university (that was my goal and dream for the prior 5 years) was not for me. My current job has been great for professional development but after hearing about how much Paul loves his job and what he does on a daily basis, it made me realize that I need a career where this is possible--where I love going to work so much that Mondays don't feel like Mondays.

And then, the most wonderful thing happened. In the midst of applying to a bunch of places, my dream job appeared in front of me: I was contacted by the head of a "start-up" lab in Seattle who was looking for a social scientist/data programmer and told me to think about applying if I was interested in a career change. Fast forward two Skype/Google Hangout calls and an in-person interview in Washington later, and I got offered the position: 

I'm going to work in Nordstrom corporate's People Lab, building culture (one that is "inspiring and productive!") and simultaneously measuring it (with experimental design and creative data) in their quite large IT department.

I can't even begin to explain how perfect a fit this is for me, from the technical aspect (data analysis, creative thinking) to the cultural aspect (considering the lab's job is to foster culture, the lab itself is--not surprisingly--awesome). It doesn't sound like they'd need someone with a heavy behavioral neuroscience background, but trust me, an experimental psychologist is exactly what they need. I start mid-November, and move back up north next week. Life is good, y'all.

If you live in Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, or Boise, we'll be headed your way on a road trip up next week (mom's driving with me)! Holler if you want to say hi!

Friday, October 17, 2014

#HitchedHagans: Our wedding in photos

We just got our wedding photos back from our amazing photographer Naomi Levit and I couldn't wait to share them. Because this is a photo post, there's a ton of pictures (fair warning!). I tried not to include photos that were posted here or here, and they're in order of when we took them. You can also hover your mouse over the photos to see snarky comments about the photos in case you're curious, but they're presented without comment so that you can choose to make up your own story in your head. 

In case you haven't read enough about her, you need to check out Maui wedding photographer Naomi Levit who clearly has some stunning work!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blog Tour

One of my blogger besties, Erin, tagged me in a Blog Tour that's been going around as a quick introduction to your blog to say what's up! Of course I had to do it, so here are my answers!

Firstly, Hi! I'm Sar (or Sarah, if you're feeling fancy).

What am I working on?
On my blog, I've been focusing a lot on explaining a little bit about why I eloped with my husband (best decision ever) and giving some details about our wedding (a lot less than other ladies who blog about their wedding, just because it was small, short, and simple!). I also talk about my life, love of gratitude, and trying to convince my friends to participate in my blogger lip syncs. I'll probably be starting to talk a little about my job search, as my husband currently lives 2200 miles away and I'd like to live by him. You know, like Adults. 

How does my work differ from others?
Well, I don't blog if I don't have something to say (which, let's be honest, I have something to say most of the time). I don't talk much about material possessions, but more about loving the intrinsic things. I also rarely use .gifs, which is All The Rage right now. I also don't blog about clothes, 'cuz I have no style beyond Ann Taylor LOFT (see here for proof).

Why do I write what I do?
I think Erin said it best--I write what's in my heart, which is mostly love and thankfulness, with the occasional bit of sass. I originally started my blog to let my family know a little more about my life in Texas (I've been a Texas resident for over 6 years, which makes my heart slightly sad but I'm loving the access to delicious TexMex), and it's evolved from there while still keeping the same ultimate goal. 

How does my writing process work?
I write pretty academically for my job, which requires a lot of structure and thought. Because of this, I tend to lean towards no structure or forethought before I write a blog post beyond "What is the message I want to tell today?" and "Do I have enough time to blog this?" I rarely draft out a post before I publish it (I occasionally schedule the day before, but nothing in advance) because it seems completely antithetical to who I am (how do I know what I'll think on Thursday? Probably shouldn't blog 'til Thursday, then).

If you want to know more, let me know! I'm going to pass the buck and hope that the following bloggers give you a little tour:

If you don't live in Minnesota, you're apparently not cool. It's okay, I'm not either. But my favorite group of blogger girls are my Minnesotan ladies, who I not-so-secretly want to be: 

The Minnesotan I've "known" for the longest is Syndal from Synfully Delicious. Her and her husband are relatively new homeowners so she blogs a lot about the house, the gorgeous Minnesotan scenery, and the ridiculous number of weddings she's been to in the past few years (seriously, it's like every month!). 

There's Kelly from Kelly B. J.D. (Among Other Things), who writes about work (she's a badass lawyer), her vacations (she just went to Italy, y'all), and DIY crafts. She's also incredibly kind-hearted with the perfect bit of snark.

Speaking of sassiness, you have to check out Lauren at Our Crazy Ever After, who is quite possibly one of the funniest people I've never met. Her blog talks about life with her husband, her new house, and infertility (which she can make surprisingly light, considering it's such a heavy topic).

(There's a lot more Minnesotans, like Jess who hasn't blogged since June, or Leah who hasn't blogged since August, but check 'em out anyway!)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Kahu Kale Ka'alekahi, our gift from Hawaii

When Paul and I decided to elope in Maui, we weren't really sure about how we wanted to go about planning everything. Neither of us had really strong feelings about anything other than photography (not like any of you are surprised), so we hired a wedding planner to take care of all of the details (location, leis, beach permits--she took care of all the paperwork so that we only had to sign our names on the marriage license). I'm sure if I had a list of demands, Leah would have done them all for me, but seriously, we just said that we'd like a beach wedding and she ran with it. 

One of the things she took care of was choosing a wedding officiant for us.

Her website shows 6 officiants we could have chose from, but we didn't have any strong preferences so when we were given our wedding package with Kahu Kale Ka'alekahi as our officiant, we didn't really think twice. Quite possibly the best happenstance thing ever.

Kale (pronounced Kah-lay, he's seen throughout this video and talks at 2:40) was one of our favorite parts of the entire wedding (and if you want to watch someone else's wedding, you can listen to him here). Besides the whole looking-into-your-best-friends-eyes-and-saying-vows thing, Kale made us feel like we were insanely special and not one of the many weddings he's taken part in.  

Kale taught us the official Hawaiian aloha (said with a kiss to the cheek) and chanted some Hawaiian oli (traditional Hawaiian chants, one of which both Paul and I were worried we were going to have to repeat because it was long and full of Hawaiian glottal stops). He also talked to us about the symbolism of the lei exchange (with the beautiful chant, E Lei Kau, E Lei Ho'oilo I ke Aloha) and told us about really feeling the moment instead of just experiencing it.

One of the things I particularly liked (and the photo that accompanies this) is when Kale talked about the life breath of Hawaii, and how all are connected. We share the breath of life with those we love by doing a Honi, a representation of sharing of spirits, by lightly touching the tips of our noses together. 

Besides blowing the conch shell before we started, we also got a lovely conch accompaniment while sealing our vows with a kiss. Our first kiss was short so we went in for another, and Kale blew the conch shell again in excitement. It was pretty impressive and a lot of fun (and it didn't hurt that we caught the attention of some passersby who then clapped for us, which was adorable).

Throughout the course of the evening, Kale mentioned that him and his fiancĂ©e are getting married on our wedding date in 2015, so we celebrated their love in conjunction with ours. It was actually pretty powerful, knowing that we can think of our officiant and his family every time we celebrate our own. 

These I'm sure he does with every couple he marries. However, Kale is one of those people who exudes love and gratitude wherever he goes. You know those few special people in life who are so thankful to be alive that they are surrounded by an aura of sunshine? That's Kale. There was no way we couldn't have loved the ceremony, because Kale was sharing his love for us throughout. There was laughter, hugs, shakas all over the place, and so much love throughout the ceremony.

At the end of our ceremony (but before we took some sunset photographs), Kale invited Paul and I out to a kayaking and snorkeling tour he leads on the west side of the island (we were staying on the south side) as a wedding gift. We took him up on in a few days after our wedding, and both of us agreed it was better than the formal tour we took of Molokini (which was nice but repetitive). An islander himself, Kale's tour focused on tradition and story of the island, along with great snorkeling off a beautiful reef that wasn't too far off the coast but a perfect kayaking trip. It also wasn't nearly as packed with snorkelers, which was nice, and Kale had major skills with naming all the plants and fish  (including a mating wana, the type of sea urchin that Paul had his wedding day encounter with--also, that photo looks like a small version of what happened to Paul's if you dare). It was a blast to spend another day with Kale, learning a little more about him, his life, and the island. 

I know the majority of you who are reading this either are already married or want weddings in local areas (no judgment!), but if you're thinking about getting married in Maui, we wholeheartedly recommend Kale (and if you'll be in Maui, take his snorkeling tour too!). He'll make all the difference.

[All photos are via our stunning Maui wedding photographer, Naomi Levit, who will of course get a dedicated post of her own because she's amazing.]

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sharing the News

As I mentioned last week, one of our favorite parts about eloping was getting to share the news with our friends and families in special ways. We Skyped my family, called Paul's family (they were at work, so different methods were necessary), and texted a few people who we wanted to tell personally.

Paul's original idea was pretty awesome: he thought I should just change my Twitter name and wait for people to reply. However, I realized that I've never had my maiden name as my full name on my Twitter, so most of my blog friends didn't know my last name (unless they signed up for my gratitude project, then they probably have my full name and return address somewhere). Then, I tweeted an innocuous tweet regarding the scenery for the week, and when people asked where I was, we decided to answer people with a photo of us with a banner that said, "Just Maui'd."

The responses came rushing in after that. After Kaitlyn's slightly confused "Is this what I think it is?", my favorite Minnesotans rushed to judgment in the best way possible:
They started the frenzy, and the texts and tweets just kept rolling in from there. We also tweeted out our Instagram and the same photo, and the responses were so sweet:

I think both Paul and I knew that we were loved by our friends and family, but didn't know how loved we were until the crazy influx of tweets/texts/Instagram comments. Seriously, you guys are the best and we're incredibly thankful you're so happy for us.

The texts are still rolling in from those who don't follow us on social media (neither of us have a Facebook account, so my mom's been spreading the word!), and it still tickles us anytime someone is surprised but excited for us! We're a lucky couple, that's for sure.

Anyway, the main reason for this post was to just say thanks. Thank you. For being you, and for being excited for us, and in sharing our joy the best way we could have ever imagined. We're lucky you're our friends.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chloe's Big Adventure

or otherwise subtitled: 
Why My Parents are Saints

I feel like I should warn you that a midnight rant is about to come because the whole situation is crazy and I miss my best furry friend.

When TPH and I decided to get hitched, we knew I'd eventually be (and hopefully soon-ish!) moving back up to the Pacific Northwest to live with my husband (plus WA > TX every time). Since Chloe and I joyfully adopted each other in Texas, she has only known life here. Thus, we knew I should probably fly Chloe up to Washington when I headed there before the elopement, instead of making her endure a 3-day car ride up there in a few months. A 4hr plane flight with mom is better than a 3-day car ride, right?

Chloe doesn't enjoy car rides. She once suffered through a 3hr drive from Waco to San Antonio in which my mother tried to alleviate Chloe's terror of riding in the car by sticking her hand into the cage. Chloe practically bit it off.  Sorry mom.

The trip to Washington did not start out well, as I've never tried to bring an animal on a plane before. I would never let her ride below with the luggage (because she's dainty and basically my daughter and I'm one of Those Cat Parents, okay?!), so she went as my carry-on. I walked up to security and handed my ID/ticket to the TSA dude who checks to make sure it's actually you and asked him what I was supposed to do with her while walking through security. He joked that I had to take her out of her carrier before walking through the scanner, and I laughed and said, "Yeah, 'cuz that'll happen!"

He wasn't kidding.

They had me take out my cat while putting my purse and [new, soft-sided, airline-approved] cat carrier through the x-ray scanner, and then walk her through the large scanner with me. If that doesn't sound dramatic to you, let me reiterate: they had me pull out a tiny 7lb cat who has only met approximately 10 other people in the prior 6 years and carry her through an open airport. Thank gosh Chloe was too scared to do anything except cling to my shoulder with her claws and look around in terror.

To top it all off, guess who got randomly chosen to get her hands swiped while holding a friggin' cat to make sure she wasn't bringing on drugs or bombs or whatever they swipe for on planes, 'cuz heaven forbid she put the cat down since she could probably wipe off the evidence of any wrongdoing? Give us a break, San Antonio TSA.

Waiting for boarding; traumatized and the trip hasn't even started yet.

I was originally super concerned about Chloe freaking out in the air as much as she did in the car (think non-stop meowing, growling, or whining in a high-pitched kitty squeal), so I took her to the vet the week prior to our flight (also required by Alaska Airlines) to get a bill of health. I mentioned to the vet that I was concerned about Chloe's ability to remain calm, and the vet said she didn't recommend kitty anxiolytics, but she did recommend a cat hormone spray called Feliway. This spray is supposed to help cats feel more comfortable in their surroundings and the vet assured me that Chloe would be just fine in the air as long as I gave her a spray or two in her carrier before the flight.


Seriously, pretty sure that anytime that ish works, it's due to the placebo effect. Chloe whined the whole flight. I wish I was exaggerating, but she was angry and sad and terrified throughout the entire four hours. I brought her carrier on my lap for all of 15 seconds right when the flight first started and a flight attendant scolded me with an explanation that it was "against the law" (even thought she was still in her carrier). My Chloe was so damn scared that she kept meowing, but she would only meow half as much if my hand was in her carrier. I ended up flying for four hours leaning forward with my hand in her cage, tearing up (and twice all-out bawling) feeling horrible that I was putting my cat through this horrible torment.

I passed her off to my parents, who picked me up at the airport and then dropped me off at Paul's. I gave her a huge hug bye and told her I'd see her in a week, but then forgot about the traumatic experience after hugging it out with my soon-to-be husband.

When we got back from Hawaii, I knew I wanted to visit her at my parents pretty quickly. Our schedules didn't line up until two days after we were back in WA, but I had heard that she was pretty terrified and refused to come out from under the bed the entire week. (My parents were keeping her in my old room since they have two other cats and didn't want to further traumatize Chloe.) When I walked into the room, I said her name and she immediately came out from under the bed, which then made me start crying again because I felt so guilty that she hadn't been comfortable or safe enough prior to that. I held her and walked around the house, but she got scared and ran back to the bedroom. She went out a few more times, but ultimately decided the bed was safest.

I left feeling sad, but the next day my parents mentioned she was more comfortable in the house and that she had finally stopped hissing every time anybody came near and was now only growling half the time.

We came back three days later for another short visit and Chloe immediately came to the living room, albeit still apprehensively and on-edge. She seemed more comfortable though, which was further proved when my parents told me the truth: apparently Chloe is a bully.

Yes, I guess my sweet cat is so scared of life at my parents' place that she is now terrifying their two cats into confinement in my parents' catio (yes, they're those people too) or showing her dominance by randomly scratching anybody who dares to pet her in the wrong place. I'm kind of proud.

TL;DR: I need to move up to the PNW ASAP because I can't bear to be away from Chloe any longer, even if she's now the Queen of the Lake Household. It was easier than I thought to usurp my mother.