The whole truth about our summer, a.k.a. how we live at a distance for 4 months

While it may have not been completely apparent (though maybe sort of?) based on the summer’s blog posts, Brett and I have been living and working in completely different states since early June.  Brett, as he did last summer, has been working with Microsoft Research from Seattle, Washington while I have been working with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

We have decided officially though…that even though we made this work for another summer, living at a distance is not how we would like to continue our married lives together.  This summer, with a little luck, will be the last one that we need to spend across the country from one another.  We have been able to make our relationship work though and have both had really successful summers.  We both hear many comments about distance relationships…about how we just couldn’t get married last summer and then live apart (well…we did)…about how it would put a huge strain on our relationship (well…we’re fine)…and the ‘oh my, how do you ever make that work?!’ comments (well…we do).  Honestly, the hardest part about living separately over the summers is moving back in with one another!  haha!  🙂  We both are forced to become super independent over the summers and then we force each other to move as a unit when we come back together.  But…like I said before, we have done this before and we are fine!  I just can’t help but wonder why we get these sorts of comments when couples comprised of military personnel have been figuring out how to live apart for a while now!

None-the-less, I thought I’d share how we make it work over the summers, when we are living more than 2500 miles from one another.


Mal and Brett’s tricks to a distance relationship:

1.  We keep ourselves busy with our own hobbies.  When we are each busy doing things that we like, we have less time (and brain power) to feel lonely.  When each of us isn’t feeling too lonely about having to live so far apart from one another, we can continue to thrive as individuals and can thus continue to thrive as a couple.

2.  When we’re keeping busy we keep one another ‘in the loop’.  Though some long-distance couples (I’m thinking of military ones here especially…) may not have this luxury, Brett and I do.  We both, at almost all times, have our cell phones nearby.  I’ll text Brett when I’m heading out for a run with the pups and he’ll let me know when he’s leaving work and off for an evening activity with friends.  We both feel more involved in the other’s life if we know (at least vaguely) what they are up to at any given moment.  (We especially love updating one another on the things definitely not worth updating about)  🙂




3.  We skype or facetime at least every few days.  Seeing one another has been really important for Brett and I when we’re living apart.  It is easy to just chat quickly about our busy days and kind of forget that our spouse is on the other end of the telephone.  Some days our schedules don’t synch up enough to enjoy some face-to-face time (there are two hours of time difference between our two summer ‘homes’) but this becomes a priority at least a couple times a week.  Sometimes it means that we’ll skype one another right as I’m heading to bed and we’ll keep it running through the night.  Then, in the morning, I get to wake up ‘with’ Brett and I’ll turn off the skype call before I head off to work 🙂  On the weekends though (once again…if our schedules permit) I’ll get to keep the skype call running until he wakes up and throughout the day.  A couple of times we’ve even watched tv ‘together’ this way 🙂


4.  We’re patient with one another’s bits of crazy.  Brett and I have found that some personality quirks are magnified when we’re living long distance from one another while others are suppressed.  For example, my tendency to worry seems to grow when Brett and I are living apart.  Brett is super supportive during my bouts of worry 🙂  Brett, on the other hand, isn’t any better at doing things while talking to me on the phone when we’re living across the country than when we’re living in the same zip code 🙂  But we make it work.  Sometimes our schedules get in the way a bit…but we stay flexible to one another 🙂

5.  Be patient with one another and always apologize if you are mean.  I know that this one looks a lot like #4 but it really is one of the most important things that we’ve had to remember.  Sometimes, one of us just has a bad day.  It usually has very little to do with the other person but this bad day is hard to keep out of the tone of limited conversations.  If one of us is rude to the other, the important thing is to say we’re sorry and move on.

6.  When you are together, go on adventures!  Whenever Brett and I are able to be together for a weekend (yep…never longer than that for the summer), we have a great time together 🙂  We explore the city we’re in.  We try new places to eat and new things to see.  We show each other our favorite spots around town and we find brand new ones.


And that’s it!  We made it work using these easy tricks last summer when we moved 2500 miles apart, came together to get married, and then headed back across the country from one another and again this summer (except that getting married part…we already did that 🙂 ).  I wouldn’t say that it is easy-peasy but we make it work.  I’m just glad that we don’t have to for much longer!

Do you have any tricks for long distance relationships?  (whether they are usually long distance or not!)  🙂

Girly Wednesday ~ xx ~ creating a tribe

A few weeks ago I talked about a random act of kindness that I found while touring around Huntsville with Brett.  I have recently seen even more examples of strangers offering love and care to a neighbor.  On my last trip out to Seattle this summer (more on that in the next few days!  Eeep!  Teasers!), I spent 7 hours stuck in the Huntsville, AL airport.  We boarded on time, all seemed well….I was even told to turn off my cell phone in preparation for pulling away from the gate.  And then…a maintenance issue cropped up.  One of the baggage workers discovered smoke in the cargo hold of the aircraft.  They called maintenance and then we all waited about 45 minutes for the maintenance worker to arrive.  They tried to fix our plane for another hour before suggesting that we de-plane, leaving our stuff on board.  We all started scrounging for food/drink in the small, Huntsville airport and waited…and waited, and waited, and waited.  For 3 hours we waited while they updated our departure time for a only slighter later time and then for 2 hours after that we waited while they decided our plane would not fly tonight but thought that maybe another plane would come from Dallas and we could take it back.  And for another hour we all knew that a plane could take us from Huntsville to Dallas that night and and that it might leave before midnight.  Hotel vouchers were handed out and we hurriedly switched our now long missed connecting flights to the next day.  This is the not so fun part of the story.

The fun part of the story is what happened during all of that waiting.  To start with, there was almost no complaining.  I tried to start some mild, negative-talk-bonding while in line to change my connecting flight about how it was ridiculous that no one dealing with our plane or with us passengers had any power in all of the timing decisions of flights that had happened that night (seriously…this business model is absolutely ludicrous!…but back to the story) and no one wanted to join in.  Maybe it had to do with most of the flyers (not me included) being on business travels and not pleasure travels but still….I couldn’t find anyone who would just complain even a little.  I wasn’t even directing my negative energy towards any of the wonderful people in the airport who were helping us out, just to the wide open space of ‘this sucks’ situations… and still, no one wanted to join in!

What was really amazing though was the tribe that formed.  A group congregated in the bar and periodically throughout our 7 hours in the airport, laughter would ring from that group of passengers.  There were also several small children traveling with us.  One of them, a 3 month old infant, was held for at least 2 hours by a woman who had been a complete stranger to the child’s mother just hours earlier.  This woman stepped in to help hold bags as we moved on and then off the plane while the mother tended to her baby, but also walked around the gate area cooing the child to sleep while the mother was tending to changing her connecting flights.  Another child with us was a 16 month old with a very young father.  The toddler cruised around the gate area, bouncing from passenger to passenger while his father tried to follow around behind.  After a few hours of this though, the father was exhausted.  He finally started allowing others to help.  As the 16 month old came near, we’d shoot him a funny look to make him laugh.  The toddler would leave us his water bottle or ask it to be opened, just to take it back and cruise to the next spot.  When his dad was figuring out how they could fly out the next morning instead of brave half the night in the terminal, a few women sat around the toddler on the floor and played games with whatever objects people had in their pockets and purses.

There wasn’t much to do or consume in that airport either…the main restaurant was closed and there was only a few small refrigerated cases full of food to feed us all.  Electricity outlets were also in big demand as everyone played with their phones for entertainment during our wait.  We took turns using the few working outlets, charging our phones in preparation for the rest of the wait and the flight to come.


Besides the fact that the wait was super boring and we spent much of it thinking that we’d get to board the plane again in half an hour…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  To the other passengers…I’d get stuck in an airport with you all again, any day.

Apple Dumplings!

One of my goals for the rest of the summer and the start of fall was to bake more 🙂  So, for an evening with friends recently, I decided to make a southern dessert, Apple Dumplings.  I found a recipe here and had every intention of following it exactly…until work got busy and I wasn’t able to even go to the grocery store until a few hours before everyone was to show up for dinner and board games.  🙂  I was still pretty attached to the idea of the dessert though so I decided to make some adjustments for my lack of preparation time and made some of it up as I went!  🙂

I started by making a sugary, cinnamon-y syrup as described in the original recipe.


I then went about peeling and coring the apples.


Since I didn’t have enough time to make my own pastry dough (I’ll have to try the original recipe as intended one of these days!), in the grocery store I searched out another alternative.  I couldn’t find the dough that I wanted except in pie form.  For some reason buying these small, tart sized pastry crusts seemed like a good idea while in the store….it wasn’t actually the best idea but I made due 🙂  I floured the counter, smushed (yes that is a technical, cooking word 😉 ) the small tartlet sized doughs together and rolled the dough out with a rolling pin.  I cut the now large piece of down into six squares, one for each apple.


The original recipe had the dough completely encasing the apples.  I didn’t have enough dough for that.  Instead, I put each apple in its own ramekin, added the butter and a sugar mixture as directed, and then placed a square of the dough on top.  I didn’t have enough ramekins for each apple so the last two were placed in a bread pan 🙂


Finally, I spooned the sugary and cinnamon-y syrup on top of each apple and placed them all in the oven.


Despite the modifications from the original recipe, I think the apple dumplings were a success!  They were definitely delicious!


The dumplings went well with the board game too 😉



Chicago Marathon Charity Fundraising!

Brett and I are running the Chicago Marathon 2013!  We are in the big countdown until the race on October 13th.  We have sent our fundraising websites out to you all, our wonderful friends, families, and acquaintances once before…but the end is approaching!  If you said to yourself, “self, I’d really like to donate but I’ll just do it later,” now is the time!  🙂  We have just a few more weeks of prime fundraising time before all of the money needs to be in!  I am running for the American Brain Tumor Association in memory of my mother and Brett is running for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of our own battle and in memory of his father.  These races mean so much to us because of the wonderful causes that we help to support along the way.  We cannot accomplish what we do though without your help.

Here is the link to Mallory’s fundraising site and the link to Brett’s fundraising site.  Please help us reach our goals!  Every little bit helps!  Thank you!


Mallory & Brett



We’ve updated the CU-Guide!

The CU Guide on our website has been updated!  It includes all of the great places to hit up while you’re here in Champaign that we shared with you about a year ago…but we’ve added some new locations that you just can’t miss!  Besides new eateries and cafes, we’ve added some other great places to check out for theatre and music, gardens, and local shopping.  🙂  We will update this page of our site periodically.  Either click the link provided here, or go to the second tab from the left in our menu bar (under the picture of our pretty faces)  🙂  Enjoy!