The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

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Bring On 2013!

So I have not posted on this blog in quite some time because Luke and I have been extraordinarily busy loving life, so this will be something of a mega update/synopsis of our last month or so. What have we been up to, you may ask?

  • I aced my finals and somehow pulled off all A’s for the semester, including an A+ in science. Still not sure how I managed the science grade, but I’ll take it.
  • I battled the flu during finals week and the following week and despite being sick, started my SMDC internship back up for the holidays.
  • Luke finished up his Palidin course and drove 12 hours straight through the night from Oklahoma to come see me in Huntsville.
  • Luke, Cassie Wells, and I attended the wedding of one of my childhood friends, Whitney Pirtle, and her new husband, Josh Gravelle, in Savannah, TN.
Luke and I at Whitney and Josh's wedding

Luke and I at Whitney and Josh’s wedding

Cassie and I, Dec. 15, 2012

Cassie and I, Dec. 15, 2012

  • We watched my cousin’s son, Jaxon,(and our ring bearer) open his Christmas gifts early since we were heading up to North Carolina to visit Luke’s family for Christmas. It’s so fun to have a baby in the family again!
  • Luke moved all of his stuff into his new apartment at Fort Benning! We consider ourselves extremely blessed to be the proud new owners of a hand-me-down double bed, kitchen table, couch, coffee table, chest, and various other misc. household items. The generosity of our family is greatly appreciated as we are just starting out, although I must admit, I look forward to possibly replacing these things, piece by piece, once we get married and find out what our first home will look like! If only furniture weren’t so expensive…
  • Our families met for the first time at Cafe Berlin in Huntsville…and no one killed anyone!
  • We traveled up to Hickory, NC to spend 8 days with Luke’s family for Christmas. During this time, we saw his old friends Jon and Garrett and their respective girlfriends, the sweet Sherrill family, the Goforths, and of course, all of Luke’s family. I finally got to meet the infamous Uncle Howard, and we all had a blast playing cards, eating good food, and catching up over the holidays.
Bradshaw family Christmas tree 2012

Bradshaw family Christmas tree 2012

Christmas Eve service

Christmas Eve service

Merry Christmas from the future Mr. and Mrs. :]

Merry Christmas from the future Mr. and Mrs. :]

Opening gifts at Grandma Reid's' house

Opening gifts at Grandma Reid’s’ house

  • Luke took me on an awesome date (our first in nearly two months because we have been so busy!) We ate at Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and then played putt putt at an indoor ice cream shoppe/dairy putting green course thing. It was lots of fun.
  • Luke, Hannah and I attempted to make homemade Christmas cookies. I say the word “homemade” loosely. Epic fail!
  • Luke took his brothers, Jacob and Samuel, to watch the Panthers play, and I went to church with his parents and Milos’s lovely girlfriend, Lauren Oakley. So happy I got the chance to meet her, and all I have to say is- Milos, if you are reading this, don’t let this one get away! She is adorable.
  • We headed back to Huntsville so that I could finish working at SMDC, and celebrated New Year’s Eve with my MOH and her boyfriend. We lost track of time actually, and hurriedly searched for the ball drop on TV with less than a minute to spare. Luckily, we found it just in time (darn Eastern time zone!) and I shared a wonderful first kiss of 2013 with my handsome fiance.
New Year's Eve!

New Year’s Eve!

So glad we got to ring in the New Year with two of our best friends. Such a fun night!

So glad we got to ring in the New Year with two of our best friends. Such a fun night!

  • Luke headed down to Benning to start his new job, and I finished up a few last details on the Technical Center website and did some last-minute cramming for my GACE tests. (teacher certification tests in Elementary Education for my new job with Teach for America).
  • I took my tests in Atlanta, and I THINK I passed them. They were old-fashioned, paper-#2 pencil tests though, so I won’t technically know for 3 more weeks.
  • I visited Luke in Georgia for the first time, and Mr. Aristotle Alviso made us some delicious homemade lasagna that took him hours to prepare. We greatly enjoyed this feast with Mr. Bill Choate! It was wonderful seeing these two guys again (two of Luke’s groomsmen), since I had not seen them since West Point graduation day in May.
  • Luke showed me the technical intricacies of playing Halo 4, and I snoozed on his couch.
  • We finished registering at Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sears and Target! Yay for teamwork.
  • I had a lovely SMDC farewell luncheon at Cantino Loredo, hosted by Ms. Joanna Brunson. They presented me with a framed letter from the director, thanking me for my service, and a gorgeous leather planner to use in my new teaching job. I am definitely going to miss the staff in the Technical Center Business Management Office and Concepts Analysis Lab.
Ms. Joanna and I, Cantino Loredo 2013

Ms. Joanna and I, Cantino Loredo 2013

  • I started school on Wednesday and already have mountains of work to do, writing articles for Business Executive and preparing for my trip to Spain with Alpine Living. T-minus 2 months until departure, and we have a LOT to do, but I am looking forward to it.
  • Luke came down to Tuscaloosa for the weekend, and we spent a fairly chill weekend hanging out together. I made beef stew for him, we watched Alabama narrowly beat Tennessee in basketball, visited a few antique stores looking at furniture/tea sets/decanters we can’t afford, went to church, had lunch at O’Charley’s, met with our wedding photographer and then relaxed and watched “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”
  • I had dinner with the lovely Lauren Killen FINALLY at long last, after several weeks of separation. She made me try real apple cider. It was delicious, I must say.

That about sums it up, folks! This next week should prove to be fairly busy for both Luke and I, as we settle into our new routines at Benning and UA, respectively. We plan to head to Savannah, GA next weekend for a Martin Luther King celebratory road trip with Lauren Killen, Jess and Will, so I am definitely looking forward to that. Is it Friday yet? In the mean time, I plan to catch up with my little, Jessica Evers, and my other little, Grace Haggemann this week, as well as my old roomie, Lauren Hendrix Sprinkle. Can’t wait for some girls’ nights to hopefully make the time pass more quickly until I can see my love again.

I will add that you may have noticed that this post is a bit sparse on pictures…It’s because I honestly have not been taking many. I have left the camera at home more and made a conscious effort to live in the moment instead. It is amazing how much of life that you miss when you are constantly behind the lens of a camera, attempting to capture every moment. However,  I do miss taking pictures, and I definitely wish I had more of the holidays, looking back. So, I promise to post lots of pictures of Savannah and of course, Spain, college graduation, and all of the other exciting events that will be coming along this year.

So, with that being said, Bring On 2013!


Our beginning…to now! A condensed version :]

Celebrating Luke’s branch with our Field Artillery pose! “Boom, Boom!”

Welcome to the crazy, chaotic but amazingly wonderful life of Luke and Manda (written by Manda and read by Luke). Since this is my first post, I will tell you a little about us and where we are at this very moment in our lives.
I am a junior at the University of Alabama, majoring in journalism. I plan to go on to get a master’s degree in education and teach secondary Egnlish/language arts at the high school level for a few years before obtaining a PhD and becoming a college professor. Luke is a senior or “firstie” at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. After he graduates on May 26,2012, he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. As you see in the picture above, he recently found out on Dec. 2nd that his branch will be Field Artillery! I was so proud of him for getting his first choice for branch, and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us during his Army career.

Anyway, Luke and I met in the summer of 2010 at U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, located on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. As a native of Huntsville, I have worked at USASMDC as a summer intern for the past five summers, writing feature stories and technical fact sheets for their Public Affairs Division. West Point sent Luke down to SMDC for a three-week internship in engineering, since he is a systems engineering major at the very beginning of that summer. We  met, talked non-stop for 40 hours a week (neither of us got much work done! haha), went on a few dates and began to fall in love. I was only 19 years old when we met, and it seems incredible that we found each other and have made it work as well as we have (although I must admit, he has been the glue that has held us together many times.) I consider myself to be an extremely lucky girl to have a man like him to love.

After that three-week time period at SMDC, Luke had to go back to New York to supervise Beast for the new cadets at West Point. That lasted six weeks, and we weren’t able to talk much during that time because he was very busy and spent a good bit of time in the field. He came back to see me for a weekend during his summer leave after Beast though, and we knew we wanted to make it work, even from thousands of miles apart. And so we began what has been the greatest l0ng distance relationship of my life.

Long distance isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but when you love someone the way we love each other, the kind of love that awakens the soul and makes you feel more alive than you have ever felt in your entire lives combined, we have found it can work (And work amazingly, I might add!) We have had many adventures together throughout our relationship so far, and I can say, we have both traveled a fair amount. He is from Hickory, North Carolina, so even over the upcoming Christmas Break, we will be traveling between Huntsville, AL and Hickory to visit both of our sets of parents. We have spent time together in Huntsville, Ala; Tuscaloosa, Ala; Auburn, Ala; Hickory, North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; New York, New York; West Point, New York; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Gatlinburg, Tenn; the Bahamas (a cruise this last summer) and one ill-fated trip for our one-year anniversary to Jackson, Mississippi. Lol I guess you could say we are becoming somewhat experienced at traveling. (Since we started dating, I have learned to pack so concisely that I don’t have to check a bag, which is somewhat of a miracle for me!)

Our next stop? Lawton, Oklahoma, well Luke will go to complete his BOLC training next Fall for Field Artillery. That will last about four to five months, which is shorter than what some branches have to do, so I guess we are lucky there. After that, he will have to report to his first post location (which as of now is still up in the air, much to my dismay, until Post Night on Feb. 2nd!) We are crossing our fingers to get somewhere in the South so we can be closer together while I finish my last semester of college and begin graduate school.

I can’t wait to see him again in just three short days for Christmas Break, where we will have almost two whole weeks to spend time together! This is extremely exciting for us, as we are always living for the weekends when we can be together.  We were fortunate to see each other seven times over this past semester, which is really good, considering how far apart we live. Our last visit was actually only two weeks ago! I flew up to New York to surprise him for our 1 1/2 year anniversary and branch night! We had a blast celebrating with a chocolate and seafood buffet for dinner on Friday night at the Thayer Hotel and a champagne brunch at the same location on Sunday. We spent a lot of time on post, which was nice because I finally got the grand tour. (We usually spend our New York weekends in the city, sight seeing). Here is a picture from our Sunday brunch:

Posing in front of the Christmas tree in the Thayer Hotel

Hopefully, I will have many more updates over the Christmas holidays. But just in case I don’t find time to write on here between now and when Santa Claus comes to visit, Merry Christmas everyone!

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