How DINKs Do Disney


According to our Disney fanatic friends, doing Disney as DINKs (sans kids) is a must.

I was on the fence about doing Disney as a twenty-something couple, because I had only been once when I was seven, so I didn’t really remember Disney in detail. Due to a wedding of dear friends down south and our vacation schedule, we decided… it’s time to check Disney off the list. And I have to say… they were right. Doing “DINKY” Disney was awesome!

There are entire blogs devoted to the Disney culture and vacation experience, and I’m no expert, so I won’t go into all that, but here are my highlights:

Continue reading How DINKs Do Disney

2014: The Year of Intention


As I was reading through other blogger’s posts and their new year’s resolutions, I saw a lot on this idea of choosing a “theme word” for the year. At first I thought that might be a bit much and didn’t think I had one, but as I sat down to solidify my goals for this year, the word intentional kept popping up. I want to be more intentional with my life, living more aware and with more purpose, in every single facet. Too often I find my NYC whirl-wind paced life distracts me and my days, weeks, and months begin slipping by unexamined. So this year I am setting and re-evaluating most of my goals weekly, which I find is my most manageable timeframe.

Here are my 2014 goals!


  • Spend 10% of my time with God in creative ways: in dinner group, reading scripture, journaling, practicing lectio divina, praying privately and in community (11.5 hrs/wk)


  • Work out 2-3 times per week (and finally take some classes!)
  • Run 4 races this year: at least two 5Ks, at least one 10K, and maybe a 10 miler?


  • Read 1 book every 2 weeks, rotate between fiction, nonfiction, and Christian living (minimum of 24)
  • Read more books (fiction and non-fiction) about other countries and cultures


  • Spend more “just us” relaxed weekend activities with Nick (1 full day/month)
  • Spend more time with members of my immediate family seasonally (4x/year)


  • Blog at least once a week (2x as much as last year)
  • Attend more Hoboken blogger Meetup events (at least 4)
  • Get ahead on the day by arriving at work by 8:45 AM


  • Spend 1-on-1 quality time with close friends (1x/week)
  • Go on more double dates (2x/month)
  • Make more seasonal bucket lists and find friends to check items off (4x/year)



  • Visit San Diego (semi Mzungu Love Tour reunion?!)
  • Go to Europe (this still feels like more of a wish than a reality but I hope!)
  • Disney World, Punta Cana, or Charleston/Savannah (We’re entirely undecided.)

What resolutions did you make? Did you set goals daily, weekly, monthly or yearly? What are your methods for success?

Erika’s 2013 in Review

Nick and Me Christmas 2013
Christmas in Greensburg, PA

“The only point of clocks and maps
The only point of looking back
Is to see how far we’ve come.”
Dawes, How Far We’ve Come

You know by now how much I love to look back and set new goals. Last year, I decided not to set hard and fast resolutions, but try the ebb and flow of Jon Acuff’s goals called The 52 & 7 Challenge. While the idea of reevaluating and making smaller resolutions is one I did revisit throughout the year, I didn’t do a great job of keeping a public record of them. So here’s the overview of what happened:

Artist and Restore Academy student Ivan and my friend Cindy. This piece of art perfectly describes how God has permanently impressed Africa on our hearts.
Artist and Restore Academy student Ivan, and my friend Cindy. While its story is deeper, this piece perfectly describes how God has forever impressed Africa on our hearts.

I took notice of where God was moving far more often this year. We walked through some really challenging sermon series (The Ladder, Experience, and GPS especially) at church, and I was keenly aware of how God was working and in my life and where I was choosing to cooperate with Him (or not). Traveling to Uganda on a Vision Trip broadened my horizons and understanding of God. More on these things later – they really need to be their own posts!

photo by Texture Photographics
The Dean wedding, photo by Texture Photographics

Nick and I went on some great dates, but probably didn’t prioritize date night nearly as much as we should have. I didn’t go out of my way to plan date nights with him in mind, and by doing so I cheated myself of the joy of watching him enjoy a Nick-specific date. Some of my favorite memories with Nick from the past year are: cruising the Caribbean to celebrate our two year anniversary, re-visiting our engagement spot multiple times in Central Park, spontaneously slow dancing in Uganda, and having quality conversation over dinner at The Stewed Cow. I celebrated my Grammie Vought’s 80th birthday, and got to meet my adorable twin cousins, Liam and Fergus. I spent a bachelorette weekend in the Shenandoah Valley tasting wine and celebrating my little sister, and in June was the maid of honor in her wedding (and cried the whole way through). We spent vacation time with family in Deep Creek and the Jersey Shore.

"Gerhard Girls" reunion at the Jersey Shore
“Gerhard Girls” reunion at the Jersey Shore

I spent quality time with amazing friends – many came to visit! My dinner group hosted a card make and cookie bake event that was surprisingly even more fun than I hoped. I went on a weekend Ski Trip to Lake Placid and actually skied from the top! I attended a deeply meaningful Passover meal. I attended my first baby shower for a dear friend, and many baby showers after that! We went to a couple friends’ weddings this fall. I went hiking and hung out on Pier 13. I spent three wonderful weekends with my college roommates: thrifting in PA, lounging at the Jersey Shore, and getting into the Christmas spirit in NYC.  I attended at least 7 concerts: The Lone Bellow at The Bowery Ballroom, Kopecky Family Band at Brooklyn Bowl, Mumford and Sons at the Barclay Center, The Heavy & Light Tour (The Lone Bellow, Jon Foreman) at Irving Plaza, Ben Sollee in Madison Square Park, Gabe Dixon and Dave Barnes at City Winery, and Hillsong United at the Prudential Center.

Meeting Jon Acuff in Times Square on his START book tour.
Meeting Jon Acuff in Times Square on his START book tour.

I’m sad to report that I didn’t write half as much as I hoped, as proven by blogging even less than in 2012. Writing tends to be the easiest thing for me to drop because it takes the most dedicated time outside my 9-5 job. The best thing I did this year in terms of my career is begin meeting with a life coach. For those of you who are considering switching career paths or just need an objective listener to help guide you in achieving your goals, I highly recommend it! I met with my life coach, Susi, for about 2 months this fall and she really helped me define my strengths and learn how to begin to budget my time. As silly as it sounds, I never considered budgeting my time (where I consistently fail) like I budget my money (where I consistently win). I’m still late (shocker), but I’m working on being more intentional with my time overall.

Financial District Pier A
Financial District view from Pier A in Hoboken

My weekly goal was to eat in and bring my lunch to work more, which unfortunately didn’t happen that often. We did manage to save an impressive amount the month before we went to Uganda, proving that it really is possible to live here and eat on a budget! We did manage to start a ROTH IRA and surpass our 3-month emergency fund however, despite travel costs and replacing an item essential to our marriage (please remind me to tell you that story).

Diane and me in Hoboken, after finishing my first 5K!
Diane and me in Hoboken, after finishing my first 5K!

I didn’t always make my goal of exercising 2-3 times a week, but I did it more often than not! I worked out 65 more times than I did in 2012, and covered 172 miles more than last year – almost three and a half times as many miles. I lost an average of 6 pounds (I’ve fluctuated quite a bit this fall). I became a runner, and ran my first official 5K in June. More than anything, I realized it’s not really about the weight I wanted to shed or the number on the scale anymore. I became aware this year of how much I labeled and limited myself, and how much that inner voice lied. I found that I’m proud of what my body is capable of, and that I am strong – fearfully and wonderfully made.

Bourbon Coffee Devotions
Early morning read before work at Bourbon Coffee.

I don’t know if I managed to complain less (you’ll have to ask Nick!) but I did try to stop and remind myself what I was grateful for more often. I didn’t make it through the ambitious 24 books I hoped to read (12 fiction and 12 non-fiction), but I still read a lot of great books this year that stretched me.

What did you learn about yourself this year? Where did you succeed and where did you fail? What will you remember most?

– – –

The Top 5 Posts of 2013

1. 5 Ways to Get Great Engagement Photos

2. Staving Off the Baby Rabies

3. How I Accidentally Ended Up A “Pastor’s Wife”

4. Giving Away My Best Friend

5. My Toast to Matt + Kelly (And How to Write Your Own)