Friday, May 22, 2015

learning to love Seattle

T.J. spent the first month of our married lives doing an away rotation at a hospital in Seattle. The Army set him up in an apartment walking distance from said hospital and so I spent most every weekend of that long month in that apartment with him.

Honestly my first impression of Seattle was not great. It was January when I first got there. And it was cold and rainy and on the very first day T.J took me out to explore we had a really unsettling encounter with someone just one block outside the apartment door and I felt fearful and unwelcome, something I've never experienced in the big cities I've lived near before. London, New York, D.C are some of my favorite places in the world and I wanted to add Seattle to that list. But I couldn't get my mind to stop focusing on the darker sides, the grunge, the impossible parking, the heart wrenching homeless, the fact that the weather always seemed to be a little bit gloomier than it was just a bit further south.

To be fair, we had some sunshiney, happy moments in Seattle that month I mean we're newlyweds so I basically floated around in a lovey dovey haze, but in general I was pretty disappointed in what the city had to offer. Especially since before moving out here a bunch of folks told me that I'd really like it, that they could see me there.

I credit some of that distaste with the fact that T.J. was working the night shift all month, and the apartment was not our home and I spent most of my days up there watching daytime tv while T.J. napped.

Since that rotation ended back in February we've really only been back to the city a couple times. But when my parents came out to visit I knew they'd want to go. My dad especially wanted to see the Pikes Fish Market, which T.J. and I had visited on a gloomy Monday back in January and didn't see what all the fuss was about. But I wanted to play tour guide and since it was Mother's Day we made a brunch reservation at the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle and then planned to hit up some of the other Seattle hot spots.
We had beautiful weather that day and found parking really easily near the space needle, already a better start than our previous excursions. In my opinion the Sky City restaurant is the best way to "do the Space Needle" because it's a pretty reasonable fixed price 3-course meal and it includes your elevator ticket to the observation deck which on it's own would be expensive, this way you get more bang for your buck.  When we arrived, we simply checked in with the reservation desk and we got to go on up to the observation deck while we waited for our table. Then we got to enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the city while the restaurant slowly rotated during a really yummy meal. Maybe it's really touristy but I don't care because the food was good, and the company was great. This was T.J.'s and my first time to the Space Needle and I love that we got to share it with my parents for a special Mother's Day.
After stuffing ourselves we spent a bit more time on the observation deck before taking the elevator back down and heading out to our next destination. From up above we had noticed a monorail and after a quick google we determined it was the perfect way to get to Pikes Public market. The monorail, like the space needle, was built for the World's fair and it goes back and forth between the needle and the market, plus it's soooo much cheaper than a cab and we appreciated that we didn't have to move our car.

When we got to the market I was honestly a little surprised. It looked completely different than the day T.J. and I came to visit. There were the flower stalls I'd heard talk of all along the entire market with beautiful blossoms, and tons of people were milling about with fresh bouquets and smiles. We made it through the crowds to the fish stall and I realized I'd judged the whole thing too soon. There they were throwing fish back and forth, and filleting them up for folks to take home and enjoy. And it's loud and crazy and pretty awesome and T.J. and I definitely want to go back and get something to bring home and grill out.
Walking around with my parents I got excited that we had this whole new city to explore and show off to visiting friends and family. I want to go back and be less of a tourist, and find new restaurants, and local shops and hidden spots, and I want to embrace this quirky, grungy, beautiful city.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

a new first

My parents came to visit us last week and it was wonderful.
I hadn't seen them since the wedding and I had been looking forward to having them in our home for so long.  It was something so special to me, like a rite of passage, one of those unexpected firsts, a sacred moment that I didn't realize I'd feel so deeply. The first time my parents come to visit, it felt surreal. This was an occurrence I celebrated as a kid when my parents' parents would come visit, and now it feels like my turn.

I picked them up from the airport for the first time as their married daughter and then we made our way to the house pointing out the sights along the way. My parents helped me move about a million times. From their home, to the dorm room, to the off-campus apartment, to South Carolina, then D.C., and then to the West Coast. And after that move they are off the hook - now I'm T.J.'s problem ;)  I was excited for them to finally see where I now call home. After years of bearing witness to my childhood spent playing house, and building forts in our basement or underneath trees in our backyard, now I would get to show them my own home, a childhood daydream lived out

I wanted them to see where I cook dinner for our little family, where I go grocery shopping, our favorite places to eat out. I wanted them to get a feel for the neighborhood and go on a long walk with me to the water down the road. I wanted to show off our new long awaited couch, the first piece of furniture we bought as a married couple. I wanted to have dinner together around the dining table that they gifted us for our wedding. I wanted them to be able to picture me at the kitchen counter when we're chatting on the phone like I picture them.

I would have been content to just cozy up with them on the couch with a cup of tea and soak them in before they headed back to the east coast, too many miles away.  But since they had never been to Washington before I made sure they got a good taste of this pretty little slice of the Pacific Northwest.

We lucked out with beautiful sunny weather for the first couple days they were in town and so we headed out to Tumwater Falls near Olympia. This was a spot I'd never been before and it was a sweet little oasis in the middle of the city where in the August through September months you can watch the salmon run while you enjoy the cool mist off the waterfalls.
We then made our way into the center of my new state capital and strolled along the waterfront checking out the boats and the people before settling down for a nice lunch outside. Then we toured around the capital mall and basically mom and I spent the rest of the visit drooling over all the huge, blossoming rhododendrons.
On our way home we stopped at the base to pick up a few things for dinners that week from the commissary and my mom made a comment to my dad, "did you ever imagine we'd be shopping at the commissary on an Army base out in Washington Sate with our daughter?"  Never in my childhood daydreams of playing house could I have imagined where God would take me. Washington was never on a list of places I'd could see myself living and loving. And growing up listening to stories from my grandparents of their adventures, I never thought I'd one day also be tied to the military. Oh how amazing the things we don't know we don't know.
Saturday we went to one of our favorite places for dinner and didn't mind waiting a little longer for a table on their rooftop deck. We go for the view of the water, the ferries coming and going, the mountains in the distance, the sunset.  And I felt like I was letting them in on a secret- getting to show them this pretty place we call ours for the time being. It was a great start to their visit. What I hope will be the first of many, perfect visits with my family.

**see my mom's post here

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes....

...A puppy!!! 

Meet the newest member of our little family: Hunley. 
Typical newlywed move there. Basically a requirement for your first year of marriage, right? Get married, get a puppy. 

He is an 8 week old Boykin spaniel, he's a ball of chocolate love and I'm so smitten!  We brought him home yesterday and he is settling in quite nicely. T.J. had to work so my parents drove with me to pick him up and then I sent T.J. this text: 
Seriously we may never get anything done ever again because all I want to do is play with this boy all day long! 

We named him Hunley after the submarine in Charleston, SC by the same name. A little homage to our roots, plus the Boykin spaniel is the state dog of South Carolina so it seemed adorable and appropriate.
So far he has been such a little love, always wanting to be held and going from person to person for cuddles. But I have a feeling he's going to be a stinker once he gets more comfortable with his new home. Although... judging by this picture of my two guys below (heart melt), he already seems pretty relaxed here!

So in love with our little brown dog!!

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.