January: Adam and I spent New Year’s Eve with our friends, Max and Sarah and watched the fireworks over the Space Needle. Later on in the month, we went to Arizona to visit some friends and family. I also started my final winter quarter at school and studied lots of Mandarin. We even made homemade 餃子 jiaozi in class! Adam and I also participated in the Seattle protest at the end of the month and walked alongside other Seattleites downtown in support of immigrants and refugees.
February: We took a weekend trip to Bainbridge Island for Valentine’s Day and explored the area. We visited the Point No Point Lighthouse and came awfully close to some giant sea lions that were hanging out near the shore. Seattle also saw some snow in February! Adam and I went cross-country skiing (my first time) with his parents on the Iron Horse Trail. It was so fun! Though I did get out a little bit, I definitely spent most of my time cozied up in coffee shops studying, studying, studying.
March: My friend Sarah and I went to cat yoga (yes, this is a real thing!) at the Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe, I got to see Ariana Grande perform (from the front row!) with my friend Brittany, and Adam and I visited the University of Washington campus (AKA the quad) to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom. Spring came early and brought lots of sunshine.
April: Adam surprised me with a San Juan Islands trip for my birthday and spoiled me in Friday Harbor. We stayed at the Bird Rock Hotel (our room had a private hot tub on the balcony!), and I was treated to a full body massage at Lavendera Massage. My friend Mirela bought us tickets to see The Weeknd later on in the month, too! It was all such a lovely way to turn 29. Mid-April, I flew out to Denver to visit my friends Brett and Kendal, and Adam’s birthday is at the end of the month, so I surprised him and rented a cabin in the woods in northern Washington for the weekend. I also took him indoor surfing and brought him to the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma. We ended the fun-filled month with a sunny hike at Icicle River in Leavenworth.
May: We camped in the Element in Hood River and Adam spent the weekend windsurfing while I hung out and read and studied in the sunshine, taking full advantage of the warm weather. We also visited the Living Computer Museum in Seattle, and I explored the UW Night Market with some friends where we sampled lots of delicious Asian food from the various food truck vendors at the market. By the end of the month, the weather was heating up quickly, and summer was well on its way. My friend Mirela and I went to Wanderlust Fest and spent the day in the hot sun doing yoga and taking part in various dance parties. It pains me to remember how sunburnt I was that night!
June: As my Spring quarter finals came to an end, my parents flew out to Seattle to see me graduate college (whoa!). It was a bittersweet weekend. You can read about my school journey here and here, but it has been a long, confusing, grueling road (roughly 10ish years of on and off college classes) but I finally finished and now hold a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Cultural Studies from Seattle Pacific University. Hot damn, that feels good. As if that wasn’t enough excitement for the month, I headed to China for five weeks at the end of June to study Mandarin in Beijing and Chengdu.
July: It was sort of strange that I graduated college before actually finishing all of my required classes, but I was taking an intensive Mandarin course in China to satisfy my 2nd-year language requirement for my major. My school sort of made an exception for me since I came to them with messy transfer credits from three different universities (yup) dating back to 2007, so they allowed me to squeeze in this intensive course which isn’t something they’d normally recommend because of the very strenuous workload. So, promising them that I could do it, I spent those five weeks cramming in Mandarin classes for four hours a day, five days a week, as well as a three hour Modern Chinese History course three nights a week. I don’t want to complain too much about how stressful that time was, but man, it was stressful. Thinking about it now gives me anxiety, haha. Adjusting to living in a new country is already hard enough, but to be a full-time student learning Mandarin running on jet-lag, travel tummy, and heat exhaustion, it really pushed me to my limits. The funniest part of it all to me was how people thought I had just gone to China for vacation. They said I was having so much fun in all of my photos, they had no idea I was even in school. Yes, I can see how that’s possible, but I was in a place mentally where I felt I shouldn’t/couldn’t complain about how stressed I was about school because I was given this awesome opportunity to live in and explore China. I felt so fortunate to be there. I may have cried myself to sleep many nights (and slept with the lights on a few times hoping that would prevent the cockroaches in our apartment from joining me in bed) but I still enjoyed China and don’t regret a thing. And yes, even though school did take up the majority of my time, I was still able to get out and see a ton of cool stuff, like the Great Wall of China! I mean, come on! I’m still working on sorting through China photos of course, but you can check out my current China posts here if you’re interested.
August: I came back to the states at the end of July and spent August relaxing, letting my brain take a much needed Mandarin rest, and getting back into the groove at work (my boss is amazing and has fully supported my school journey, so he approved my China trip and made sure I had a job to return to after arriving back home). It was strange adjusting to normal life again. Adam actually left for Alaska to visit his parents a day before I came back to Seattle, so we had to go another week without seeing each other. After he came home, he was only in Seattle for another week or so and then had to head off to Asia for a work trip. While he was away, his parents flew back from Alaska for a few days to see the solar eclipse. I drove to John Day, Oregon with them to watch the phenomenon. We camped in the path of totality. I blogged about that experience here. It was crazy cool. Adam and I also went on a kayak trip toward the end of the month and camped on Hope Island. It was totally ours for the night!
September: As I’m writing this recap, I’m realizing just how many weekend trips Adam and I take throughout the year. Shortly after our kayak trip at the end of August, we headed to Canada over Labor Day weekend and kayaked some more. We stayed in Vancouver for a night and kayaked around Bowen Island and then headed to Squamish to camp and windsurf for two days. Mid-month, I flew to Wisconsin to help host my best friend’s baby shower. I got to spend some quality time with my parents, too. We were able to celebrate my mom’s birthday while I was in town and took my parents’ canoe down the Root River on a warm afternoon. At the end of September, Adam wanted to go back to Canada to celebrate our anniversary a bit late, since our anniversary was back in July while I was away in China. I thought nothing of it since as I mentioned above, we do take many weekend trips over the summer. Little did I know he had been planning this very big surprise since May. You can read about our proposal story here, but yes, Adam proposed at the top of the Chief, overlooking one of our favorite places on Earth. The Chief is an intense hike we did four years ago, the summer we met. There’s now a gondola in Squamish that will bring you to the top of the mountain, so that’s what we did this time. He tricked me by saying we had dinner reservations at the restaurant up top. (Psst, there is no restaurant up top! Only a cafe and gift shop… I am very oblivious.) It was magical! We immediately dove right into wedding planning shortly after the proposal. Being engaged feels really sweet, and I feel so lucky every day to have found Adam.
October: I carved pumpkins and watched Halloween movies with some friends, went hiking with a group of ladies from school, and attended the 3rd annual corgi parade at Green Lake with my friend, Mirela. This was the first year the weather cooperated! The past two years have been super rainy and windy, but the sun was out this time around and the corgis looked adorable in their Halloween costumes. I blogged about the corgi parade here! Adam and I attended our friends’ Halloween party later in the month and dressed as Bruce Lee and a Racine Belle.
November: At the beginning of the month, Adam and I moved into our new apartment in the Interbay neighborhood of Seattle. We’re totally in love with it and can’t believe all of our stuff is finally in one place! We no longer have or need a storage unit. It feels good. If there’s anything moving around all the time has helped me with, it’s getting rid of unnecessary clutter. As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!” Amen. Later on in the month, we had Adam’s parents over for Thanksgiving dinner. It was our first time hosting a holiday dinner, and I think we did a pretty good job! There’s something really special about preparing food for loved ones. Another exciting event that took place in November: we adopted a chinchilla! Yes, you read that right. One night, we were strolling through the aisles at Petco looking for a new litterbox for Mia, and Adam spotted the chinchilla cage. He had never seen a chinchilla before and was instantly obsessed. From that night on, he began researching them non-stop and begged me to get one. Lucky for him, there was one up for adoption at the Seattle Animal Shelter, just up the street from where we live. It all happened so quickly, but we went in one afternoon, met her, thought about it for a few hours, and then brought her home with us that night. She’s pretty cute and seems really happy with us. Her name is Maya and she’s four. People are always getting Mia and Maya mixed up (understandably) and sometimes we wonder if it was a mistake to give them cutesy matching names, haha. Speaking of Mia, she still has not met Maya and honestly doesn’t seem very interested in or curious about her. (Maya lives in the downstairs bathroom.) We hope someday we’ll be able to keep Maya’s cage out in the open and we’re crossing our fingers that Mia will continue to stay uninterested in her!
December: Early on in the month, Adam and I flew to Wisconsin to celebrate an early Christmas with my family. Sometimes flying home feels like flying overseas because of how expensive ticket prices can be. One year, we actually spent more going to Wisconsin for Christmas than we spent on our tickets to Iceland! So, we made the most of our early Christmas visit and squeezed in as much as possible. It’s always hard trying to see everyone while I’m in town, but I think we did well this year. We also took advantage of being home and booked a few appointments with potential wedding vendors. (We’re getting married in Wisconsin next fall.) We visited our wedding venue, had a tasting with a caterer and a bakery, and we met with a DJ, too. Pretty successful trip! I also got to visit my best friend’s new baby boy (the one I had the baby shower for back in September) and even though it was a quick visit, it was so wonderful to finally hold him. Later in the month, Adam and I went with his parents to pick out Christmas trees at Pfaff’s in Auburn. Adam convinced me to get into the Christmas spirit this year since I’ve actually never had a tree of my own because I’ve always been too afraid of Mia ruining it. So, we got a tree! It was really cute (and tall!) and we had fun decorating it and putting presents underneath it. Mia occasionally batted at the ornaments, but for the most part, she left it alone. *whew* At the end of the month, Adam and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party. It was a ton of fun; we even made our own photo booth! All-in-all, it has been a pretty incredible year.
As always, thanks for reading, and cheers to you in the new year! Happy 2018! xo