Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our New Deck

My in-laws came for a visit this past weekend. They were the first real visitors we've had since moving in and I was excited to host. It also was a great motivator to get some things done around the house before the arrived. I picked them up from the airport on Thursday and luckily T.J. was able to cut out of the hospital early and get home around lunch time (gotta love that radiology schedule).

His parents came bearing gifts in the form of a new deck. They had mentioned building one for us as a Christmas present but I was definitely surprised that it was going to happen this weekend. And honestly I was a little nervous. We don't have a huge yard and I was worried we would lose too much space with a deck. So we discussed what would work best in the space and ended up with something I love! I didn't want anything too far off the ground, I wanted more of a patio style so that it would feel like an extension of the yard rather. Friday morning we headed to Lowes (first of 6 trips) and picked up the supplies we could and made plans to return with a truck for the lumber once T.J. was off work. Then I headed in to work (we had our big banquet fundraiser on Sunday that I had to prepare for) and I was excited to see what I would come home to that afternoon.
T.J. and his dad got most of the frame built Friday and Saturday morning and then started nailing in the beautiful and wonderful smelling cedar planks. I could not wait to see get that ugly concrete slab covered up. A few measurements, some adjusting, only mild frustration, we were starting to see progress. I of course was a huge help ;) holding down boards, even nailing in a few, and subsequently falling off the deck... Miss Grace right here, I tell ya. And don't you love T.J.'s big smile there.  Glad I could provide some comic relief in the middle of the grind.

Luckily the rain held off most of the weekend and we even saw the sun and got to show off Mt. Rainier. We toured them around the base and went out to a couple of our favorite restaurants so it wasn't all work and no play for their visit. And at the end we had a beautiful deck that we are so grateful for. I may have been resistant (and a little irrational) about not wanting a deck in the beginning... but this is one of those times I'll happily admit T.J. was right and I was wrong.
His folks flew home to South Carolina yesterday and T.J. and I toasted them from a far and enjoyed our first dinner alfresco last night. We still need to do some serious landscaping and I have plans to plant some herbs and hang some twinkly lights out there and I am so looking forward to enjoying this space all summer long.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Five on Friday

one. One year ago today T.J. asked me to marry him. I said yes then, and eight months later I said yes at the alter, and I plan to say yes to him over and over again until forever.
two. T.J. has been on a radiology rotation this month and it rocks. It's amazing how much time we have together! He gets home when it's still daylight outside, he has weekends off, he's getting actual rest. And we've been taking advantage of every minute we can get our hands on. We've been exploring our little corner of the world and soaking in these rare free days together.

three. We went to a concert. On a Wednesday night! That's how awesome this rotation is. We saw Eric Church up close and personal and we're totally surprised how many country fans there are out in Washington. Somehow we managed to be right in front of the stage and while that was great and all, towards the end of the show we moved more towards the back of the crowd so we could breathe and dance and not go completely deaf. Yeah, we've kind of become an old married couple. But it was still so fun and he sang all my favorite songs including Carolina which is pretty much going to be T.J.'s and my theme song for the next ten years or so until we make it back down there.
four. T.J.'s parents are coming to visit us next week and my parents are coming in the beginning of May. I am so excited about our first real company coming to stay at our house. T.J.'s parents both saw the house a while back before I had moved in so I'm anxious for them to see all the changes. My parents haven't seen any of it! I can't wait for them to sleep in our guest room and to show them around our neighborhood and the base. In preparation for their visit I've been scrambling to check off some things from our to-do list. We did some painting, bought some furniture (T.J. would say that's all I've been doing) and we're keeping our fingers crossed that our new couch arrives before they do.

five. We have more fun planned for the end of May as well. T.J. finally gets a whole week of leave! There are so many things we want to see and do while we're out in the Pacific North West so we're going to start checking them off our bucket list one by one.
 ( 1 | 2 )

*Head over here to link up you list. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

a new routine

Technically I guess you could call me and T.J. adults. We're two married, homeowning, self sufficient, tax paying kids in our mid (technically closer to late) twenties. So does that make us grown ups? I definitely feel more like a kid playing at house most days, I mean I still wear fuzzy socks and occasionally climb the stairs on all fours (tell me I'm not the only one).

But then I catch myself meal planning, grocery shopping for our family, and hiring painters, and antique shopping for a must-have hutch.  All very grown up tasks if you ask me.

Lorelai: "You know the one thing that grown-ups don't call themselves?"
Rory: "What?" 
Lorelai: "Grown-ups."

So maybe not so much. But as newlywed grown-ups we have fallen into our new routine pretty smoothly. T.J has his crazy all consuming hospital that owns him. He wakes up before the sun, gets out of bed much more quickly and intentionally than I would at that hour. He eats a clementine and leaves a couple pieces on the counter for me when I eventually rise. Sometimes I lift my head and groggily gay goodbye, usually I pull an extra blanket over me since the bed is now colder without him. And then I don't see him until he escapes the hospital many many hours later.

Many many hours that I have all to myself. Figuring out this new alone time, how to fill the day, pass the hours and make it mean something is my new normal. One day I hope and pray to be a stay at home mom, but that's a little ways off still. So suddenly on January fourth, I found myself a stay at home wife. I was excited about this new title, a new chapter, a new purpose. I see value in taking care of our home, doing the grocery shopping, making sure we have clean clothes, and made beds and a comfortable, loving place for T.J. to return to after working so hard.  I love that I can take that burden off of his shoulders.

But at the same time I see this tendency in me to be shy, afraid of putting myself out there, and honestly a little lazy and unmotivated when I'm alone for too long. So what do I do with all that free time, once the chores, and the to-do lists, and the laundry, are done? I'm still figuring it out, and I'm glad I've had these few months to just settle in and get my bearings. And now God, with His perfect timing, is calling me off the futon, out from behind the closed doors in a quiet house where I maybe sometimes hide and pretend to be busier than I really am. And He's showing me where He wants me to plant roots. Providing me with a place to go, a reason to change out of yoga pants, a community to dig into.

I knew moving out here that I wanted to continue to be involved in my most favorite ministry, Young Life. It was the only idea that I had when I considered getting a  new job, if I even got a job.  It was the only thing that seemed right and that I felt excited about because in my gut that was God telling me to pursue it. Finally I would have the time and freedom I lacked when working full time in D.C. to really pour out myself in ministry. But I wasn't sure where or how I would be used. And then a month or so before we tied the knot the area director out here (who I had previously connected with back in the Fall on one of my visits) let me know that a part time position as the Admin was opening up.

So now I'm working a few hours a week, in a job that's fun, with an organization whose mission I wholeheartedly believe in and the best part is I'm still able to be the kind of wife I want to be. I still have time to be at home, taking care of our family, so that when T.J. finally walks through the door at night I can have dinner ready, I'm not beaten down from a rough commute, I can be someone that someone would want to come home to.

And of course, if you couldn't tell from the quote above, some days I still just embrace the laziness and binge watch Gilmore Girls. But I am a fan of this new routine. It's just right for right now, God is so good. I am having so much fun!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Our First Easter

Last Easter was one of the best weekends of my life. T.J. and I had just gotten engaged and we took the train from D.C. to my parents house to celebrate all weekend long. It was so fun being with my family.

This year T.J. and I marked the first holiday together as a married couple. We made plans for a nice lunch and figured it would be just the two of us. That was perfectly okay but I prefer to celebrate Easter a little bit bigger. Plus we were going to have a lot of left overs.  So last minute Saturday night we ended up inviting over another couple to join us after church.

Since moving in, our house has been a little sparse on the furniture. We just got our kitchen table but we still don't have chairs, and we're still waiting on our couch. Yes we have a futon that's rather comfortable but....we weren't really set up to entertain. This would be the very first time that we had guests over to our home.

I had been nervous about hosting people in our unfinished, imperfect, house. While I couldn't wait to have parties and cook dinner for friends, I wasn't close to done with decorating. I have all these plans and ideas and things we still need to do. I wanted it to be just right before we let people in. But when it comes down to it, that's not what matters. Opening our home, our hearts, being hospitable, gracious and generous with the many, many blessing we do have- that's how I want to be. I don't want to apologize for only having a futon, or excuse away the mess I try to hide behind closed doors. I don't want to use an untamed backyard with a moss covered patio as a reason not to break out the grill and share a meal with someone.

Of course I still flurried around Saturday night in tidying up frenzy, stashing this and that in the coat closet and setting the table with our new serving pieces. And I set my alarm to get up earlier and run to the grocery because I didn't haven't anything prepared for dessert, and I just needed flowers! But I was excited to have people over.  I decided to be intentional about not falling prey to the habit of apologizing for the imperfect the second someone new walks in the front door for fear of judgement. And once we were on our way to church I just let the rest go.

We sang so many of my favorite songs that morning and praised the reason for everything. And I held T.J.'s hand and felt so much peace when we walked out into the sunshine. When we got home we opened our Easter baskets that the "Easter bunny" (aka my mom and dad) had sent us and then waited for lunch. 
Our guests arrived and we opened the screen door while T.J. grilled steaks. I popped rolls in the oven and soon after we sat down to deviled eggs, pineapple stuffing, roasted asparagus and perfectly rare steaks. And for dessert there was angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.
After they left we just relaxed and enjoyed a quiet night. It was just the Easter I hoped for. Being so far away from family and friends means we have to celebrate where we are. And sometimes that might be just the two of us on the couch with take out but I hope it also means an open house with new people and a new community gathered together.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

hmmm... what to blog about now??

It's been all wedding all the time pretty much since I got engaged last April. But now I feel like I need to remember how to just simply blog. Record my day-to-day, share my thoughts and dreams and just get back into writing, writing, writing, for the sake of writing. I want to write about this season. I am here now, in Washington, starting to feel settled finally. And I'm falling in love with this new place, our home for the next 5 years.

It's been a long while since I've had such a definitive "end date" for a place. The last few years in Maryland, everything was always very much up in the air. I didn't know if I would end up staying there for the rest of my life or for just another year. Now my life is tied to someone else. And it's tied to the hospital residency program and the United States Army. I just know those five years are going to absolutely fly by and I want to record and remember it.
I haven't shared about my new life on the West Coast. Our new routine, my new job, finding a community, our first house, the dynamics of living with a boy, merging all the parts of our lives, being really, really far from our families, setting up our home. So much I want to write about that it's a little overwhelming. But I'm working on finding my groove on the blog again. Thanks for not abandoning me. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reception: Part 2

After the cake cutting my dad gave his toast. Leading up to the wedding I know this was something my dad put so much thought into, wanting to say just the right thing and it was so perfect.  He was funny and sweet and made everyone feel welcome and did his best to cover a lifetime of a father's love. He also shared the poem that grandpa, his dad, had written and shared at my parents wedding. Such a precious gift. At the end of his toast we clinked glasses and then my dad asked me to dance. We went back and forth (and back and forth) on what song we wanted to dance to and finally settled on My Little Girl- Tim McGraw. That song has the sweetest words and I just swayed held on until the music stopped.
I love my grandparent's expressions in this picture- they were so shocked and happy when my dad read the poem. 
T.J. and his mom danced together next and then the party really got started! The band was amazing and they had everyone on the dance floor for the rest of the reception. That was the most important thing to me, I wanted our guests to have fun, to dance all night, to have sore feet and smiles on their faces. And since T.J. and I did a pretty good job of greeting all our guests during dinner we got to dance right along with our friends and family. 
I tossed my bouquet, danced with my family and finally got to witness my dad "gator." We got a little bit softer and then a little bit louder now. And before I knew it, the evening was coming to a close. 
After the last dance our guests made their way outside and were handed sparklers. We gave extra long hugs to our families and said thank you thank you thank you to our wedding planner. Then we also headed outside, took one last kiss for the cameras, and ran through the sparklers and the rain heading arm and arm to our hotel as husband and wife.  
Best. Day. Ever.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Reception: Part 1

Over two months ago we had a big party to mark the start of our happily ever after. Maybe you've heard me mention it a time or two? Well I'm still not done mentioning it.  After the ceremony out guests slowly made their way downtown to the reception cocktail hour while we were taking photos. Our reception was held at The Loft. It's a converted textile mill on the water downtown. All high woodbeam ceilings, brick walls, arched windows overlooking the river and the city skyline, and lots of cool rustic and industrial details. It was the perfect spot for the style and look that I had in mind for our day. Our wedding planner did this fantastic job of transforming the space with our dream team of vendors. And the night before the wedding she allowed me to unload all my DIY details, menus and place-cards, a seating chart, favors and chalkboards into her car and I didn't have to worry about one detail on the day!

The venue actually has two connected spaces. In one room dinner was served. We did a combination of round tables and long banquet tables with boxed florals spilling flowers and long flowy garlands running the lengths of the tables with votives casting a pretty glow around the room along with the twinkly cafe lights strung across the ceiling. Above the head table was a dreamy hanging floral arrangement.  I had seen something similar on my photographer's page and that's when knew I needed to hire that florist.
(table numbers | stands-spray painted gold)
We also had rented two vintage dressers, one for displaying the seating chart and our guest book and the other for holding all our handmade/homemade favors. I designed our seating chart and had it printed at Staples. We then attached strips of magnets to the back so it would hang on this sliding metal barn door in between the two rooms. Our guest book was "The Newlywed Cookbook." I love that when I actually use this cookbook over the years I will see well wishes and love from our friends and family. 
And our favors were homemade "Sally Berry" Jelly made by my grandma Sally. I printed stickers for the lid and together with my mom, sister, aunts and grandma, we tied them all with gold glitter bakers twine. In addition, a dear friend of T.J.'s family made wooden spoons, spreaders and honey stirrers. Each one said our name and wedding date plus the type of wood it was made from. I loved having these two distinctly personal touches and love how they looked displayed on the day. 
In the adjoining room we held our cocktail hour and then later it's where all the dancing went down. It was filled with cocktail tables tied with burlap bows, a four-sided bar in the center of the room (I hate queuing at a wedding so this cut out that problem), two lounge areas with vintage tufted couches and chairs and two more hanging floral arrangements above, and we displayed our cake in that room as well.

We worked with my favorite Greenville restaurant for the catering and they made everything as if you had ordered it off the menu yourself.  For cocktail hour we had two stationary hors d'oeuvres: Mini Chicken and Waffles with Cranberry Syrup,  and Vegetable Crudite Cups. Then we had three passed hors d'oeuvres: Deviled EggsTomato Soup Shooters with Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and Shrimp and Grits Bites with Red Pepper. We also had a signature cocktail, Spiked Apple Cider which were passed out to guests as they came in and garnished with a cinnamon stick. 
But let's back up... T.J. and I arrived at the venue and our wedding planner brought us a plate of all the different hors d'oeuvres and a coupled drinks so we could still enjoy the cocktail hour while having a little moment for just the two of us. We also practiced our first dance a bit  and took a break from the picture taking, or so we thought... some sneaky aunts and uncles snapped a couple from up above.
Then it was time for the real first dance. We made our "entrance," and danced to George Strait, True. I was a little nervous, all eyes on us, but it was such a fun moment and really felt like we were still just having a private moment to ourselves.

After the dance, his aunt asked the blessing and we moved into the other room for dinner. For dinner we had a salad course and the main was a fillet and crab cake duet. T.J. and I did our best to enjoy the yummy meal but of course we were being pulled in a bunch of directions and had to make our rounds and visit all the tables. This was one of the reasons I chose to do a sit down, plated dinner instead of a buffet (also, remember, I hate queuing at weddings), it made it much easier to make sure we were able to see everyone.

After dinner we cut the cake! We had four layers, two layers with strawberry with vanilla filling and two layers with vanilla and chocolate cake with peanut butter filling, all iced in vanilla swiss buttercream. And it was displayed on a beautiful wood round cut from a Hackberry tree and smoothed and polished by the same woman who made us the spoons. On the same table we also displayed framed photos of both sets of parents cutting the cake on their own wedding days. I know we are so lucky to both have a mom and dad who love each other and have set such a wonderful example of marriage and commitment for us to follow.
 More love and laughter and dancing to follow...