A Going Away Surprise

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I already know it to be the case, but I have the best and most thoughtful friends in the world. I think the hardest part about leaving Washington, DC and moving to Raleigh will be leaving my dear DC friends behind. Believe me when I say that they are irreplaceable! I have definitely made lifelong friends throughout my six years in the city, and I am forever thankful for each and every one of these precious friends. These friends are like family to me, in every sense of the word. They’re physically there for me daily, they cheer me on constantly, we laugh so hard that we cry, we go on countless adventures and trips, we share in day-to-day life, they know my struggles, worries, and doubts, and they are consistently encouraging me and loving me. I could not imagine better friends here in DC, simply stated. I am forever grateful for the friendships we have forged and the memories we will always share! I am so, so incredibly blessed by the friendship of each of these ladies, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Before I start crying thinking about leaving them (too late, actually!), I wanted to share about this past Saturday’s amazingly epic going-away surprise they had for me!!

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Let’s just say I was absolutely shocked!! Surprises are my love language, though I tend to be the one surprising others! This blog, however, was born from an epic birthday surprise, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as quite a shock. I figured I’d have one last hurrah with my friends in the form of a dinner (which we are, a couple days before I officially move!). But I never once expected or even suspected a surprise going-away shindig!!

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Three of my friends and I planned a winery day a week or two prior, before I ever actually had an apartment or a move date. And I think I may have even initiated the winery trip? Or at least this pre-scheduled winery day happened to work out perfectly for a surprise! The four of us were going to go to Bull Run Winery, a favorite of ours and close to the city. I even sent them an email mid-week to solidify a time and mesh out a picnic plan (the crux of any good winery outing)! Mollie and Jess picked me up from my house, as planned (I live on the way to the winery)… nothing out of the usual. We made a brief stop for coffee before hitting the road, but again, nothing unusual. Our other friend Kelly was meeting us there, since she lives out in the direction of the winery. I wasn’t surprised to see her new car in the parking lot, though I did joke that I was surprised she beat us there. Still, suspecting nothing. We get close to the doors of the winery, and we definitely were planning on sitting outside, so I started walking in the direction of the porch, where it was covered. Mollie and Jess were walking the other way, and said they wanted to sit over this direction. Not wanting to be too bossy (good thing!), even though I figured we’d be hot in the sun, I acquiesced and followed the around the corner…

And there, hiding behind a few picnic tables, were my best friends! SUCH a surprise, and an incredible one!!! I was a little speechless and still in disbelief as I walked toward them all, and I’m so glad I had on sunglasses. I definitely was bawling more than a little bit behind those sunglasses! It was the sweetest and most touching surprise. I’m overwhelmed thinking about it still! I don’t know how they pulled off such an epic surprise in just five days, and with so many friends in attendance! There were a few dearly missed friends who were out of town on vacation, but I’m amazed by who was able to make it. After many rounds of hugs and more than a few tears, they showed me all of the adorable, special touches! There were dozens of pictures printed out and strung around our picnic table, and Kathryn had gathered all of these pictures from the last six years. It was a blast from the past seeing some of them, and we loved laughing and reminiscing over each and every image. Lindsey created beautiful floral arrangements for the table, Elisabeth brought adorable balloons (my favorite was the tiara with the word “princess”), Mollie made favors (bubble gum with a “it really sucks Stephanie is moving” tag on them!), and other friends contributed so many more special touches. There was a place to write notes for me, which we all know means the world! And everyone brought all of my favorite picnic goodies: Georgetown Cupcakes (thanks for the key lime one, Jess!), tzatziki and Greek foods, homemade chex mix, a plethora of cheeses and breads and crackers, and so, so much more. We had a feast!!

After a wonderful wine tasting, we settled on a few bottles to share and took the party back outside. It was an afternoon filled with so many of my very favorite things: the most wonderful friends, a beautiful day being outside, a winery + great wine, endless talking and laughing and sharing memories, and great food. I couldn’t ask for a more fitting and more perfect afternoon with so many of my dearest friends. It was perfect in every way.

Kathryn, Lindsey, Lindsey, Lindsey, Brittany, Jess, Mollie, Mallory, Steph, Elisabeth, Kelly… thank you, thank you, thank you for an absolutely amazing day and the most special surprise!!!! Y’all are the best and I love you SO much!!

(Alicia, Allison, Maggie, Melody, Alyss, Megan, and Lindsey – I know you were there in spirit!!! xoxox)

Life Lately

A snippet of all of the fun + travel that’s been happening in the last week or two in my world:

A trip to the University of Virginia for my amazing brother-in-law’s MBA graduation from the Darden School of Business…

Graduation day celebrations with the family (so proud of his exceptional accomplishments!!)…

An afternoon introducing my parents to my favorite Pippin Hill Farm & Winery in Charlottesville…

Enjoying some al fresco happy hours with friends…

Stopping to (literally) smell the roses – and azaleas and peonies – on Capitol Hill…

A venue site visit for my July Charlottesville wedding at the Chapel at UVA…

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Hearing Tim Keller speak live at a fantastic church event…

timkellerA much-needed reunion with some dear friends…

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 What have you been up to lately? I’d love to hear!

Kite Festival

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One of the most beloved DC events is the annual Cherry Blossom Kite Festival, which kicks off the weeks-long celebration centering around the city’s beloved cherry blossoms. The Kite Festival is almost magical in its beauty – it’s pretty mesmerizing to see hundreds of bright and colorful kites flying around the ground near the Washington Monument! Anyone is encouraged to come and bring a kite, or just stroll around taking it all in. It’s so fun to see little kids try to fly their kites, as well as professionals fly their amazing kites. Such a picturesque sight to see!

The Kite Festival the other weekend was quite cold (I mean, really cold) and incredibly windy, so my meager kite didn’t last more than twenty seconds! It was fun while it lasted, though. I love checking out the variety of kites, seeing which ones are highest and stay up the longest, and which have the best designs. If you’re ever in DC around this time of year, I can’t recommend a stop by the Cherry Blossom Kite Festival enough. It’s just beautiful, and it seems like the whole city comes out for it each year!

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