Thursday, May 29, 2014

What I've Read Lately

It's been a while since I've recapped my reading list so I thought I'd jump in and share today. Airplane travel makes for the best reading time and I have zoomed through some books lately.

Shogun - James Cavell
Okay, so this is quite the tome and I didn't really zoom through it but none the less... It's fantastic! This was a recommendation from T.J. and I was skeptical at first but trust me on this. It's centered around the complex Japanese culture during the 1600's. The main character is an English sailor who lands in Japan expecting to find barbarians and treasure ripe for the picking. Instead his eyes are opened to a new way of life as he finds himself in the center of a power struggle between Japanese warlords, the Catholic church and European settlers. He falls in love, questions his priorities, and moves deeper into the inner circle of power. Seriously epic!

The Maze Runner trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure)- James Dashner
I saw a trailer for the movie based on the first book in the series and I had to know what it was about! It was a quick read because you are hurridly trying to figure out what's going on in a(nother) post-apocalyptic world. The series feels similar to the Hunger Games and Divergent (dystopian society, younger central characters, semi-predictable) which I'm kind of burnt out on but they were still fun reads and the movie looks pretty good.

The Painted Girls- Cathy Marie Buchanan
This book is a historical fiction surrounding two impoverished sisters in Paris during the 1800's, one of whom becomes the model for numerous paintings by Edgar Degas and his famous sculpture, "Little Dancer of Fourteen Years." It was interesting to imagine what her life might have looked like and why she stood out to the eccentric artist. I also love anything to do with the ballet and all the dramatic behind the scenes so this kept my attention.

The Husband's Secret- Liane Moriarty
You just have to know what that secret is! From the first page you are hooked and as the different story lines are woven together you anxiously try to figure it out. A wife finds a letter from her husband for her to read after his death, but he's still very much alive. Of course her curiosity pushes her to read the letter anyway and the implications of his secret are gargantuan. Being that I am an awful secret keeper I would have done exactly what this wife did and throughout this book I was often wondering "what would I do in this situation?"

On my nightstand and in my nook to read next are, Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, The Fall of Giants by Ken Follet, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  And if you're looking for some reading suggestions for your summer holidays you can look back on more of my past lists here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

I had such a great long holiday weekend but the day after is always a scramble so I'm late getting up my recap.

I took off work on Friday and headed down to Columbia, SC for a sorority sister's wedding/reunion with all my best friends from college. T.J. picked me up from the airport and we headed into Five Points for chicken salad sandwiches at the Gourmet Shop before we checked into our hotel, quickly donned bathing suits, and headed out to the pool.

We stayed there soaking in the Vitamin D until more friends started to arrive and it was time to get ready for the rehearsal dinner. My roommate and her boyfriend were also at this shindig. It was his first time really in the South and he was excited that dinner included a low country boil which we had previously tried to explain to him. We spent the rest of the rehearsal sipping cocktails and snapping a few too many group photos.
Saturday, T.J. had to leave to go to another wedding in Litchfield, so I headed out to brunch with the rest of the crew and then we spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Pretty much my ideal summery Saturday. And then before too long it was time to get ready for the wedding. Here's where I normally make a comment about how much more fun it is to get ready with a big group of your girlfriends, but since I say that every time I'll skip it today.

Impressively we all accidentally coordinated. Apparently, shades of blue are in this summer... The wedding was black tie so I of course had to find a new dress. I got it in the Top Shop section of Nordstrom and it was so fun!  Also, in the first picture we are not all praying, I'm not actually sure what we're doing. You'd think after a bajillion photos during our time as friends we'd be more on top of things.
T.J. made it back in time for the reception and in time to dance with me! We had such a fun time catching up with everyone but we only got one picture together. The sweet girl in the middle went to middle school and high school with T.J. and she is one of my sorority sisters. I just love our shared connections and that T.J. knows and is friends with my friends and I love that we were all in one place this weekend. Weddings are great like that. 
After we waved off the new Mr. and Mrs. we headed back to the hotel and crashed. The next morning included more goodbyes and then T.J. and I drove to Greenville. We had Henry's BBQ on the brain but first we made a quick stop at our hopeful reception venue for our hopeful wedding date. I wanted T.J. to see it in person because otherwise he wont see it until the wedding day. He probably didn't care all that much but I'm happy to report that he liked it so whenever we get married at least he'll know where to be. 

We then met up with my sister, my roommate, and their boyfriends for some yummy bbq and then later we all went to a Greenville Drive game.  I think baseball games are pretty much the most American thing you can do and should be a requirement for patriotic holidays.  
That evening T.J. agreed to popcorn for dinner and we went to see Godzilla. I had pretty low expectations and was pleasantly entertained. T.J. on the other hand, had see the trailer and thought it looked like the best movie ever so he was mildly disappointed.

We spent our last day in Greenville, walking around our old campus and people watching downtown before meeting up with friends for ice cream at Spill the Beans and a stroll through Falls Park. Saying goodbye at the airport will never get any easier I've decided. He's flying out to Tacoma today and boy do I wish I was right there with him. I'm glad we got to have an extra nice long weekend before this really long distance part begins.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Date Setting Saga

Y'all... that pesky wedding date. It is the first thing everyone asks about, and it's the first thing you need to figure out in order to plan or book anything else, and it is the one thing that is 100% out of my control and it is pushing me over the edge. Maybe I was a little naive, but I thought setting the date meant you got to pick the date. I thought it would go something like this...

--Hey love, want to marry me on this day? 
--Sure, babe!

Instead it has been a delicate balance of figuring out what's available on what dates, then not getting my hopes up, then figuring out if T.J. can even be off for those dates in the first place, and taking into consideration the families, and deciding if that's what the two of us even want to in the first place.

So to do this T.J. emailed me his hospital rotation schedule for his first year of residency and showed me the blocks of time from now through June 2015 that are no-go's. Then my parents called all the venues that I liked and asked for possible dates now through the end of 2014.  We found out there are a several Fridays and just a couple open Saturdays available. Then T.J. emailed to the program director to feel out when they think would be a good time for us to get married. Simultaneously, my mom met with the event coordinators at my first choice venue and put the space and the caterer on standby. The hospital responded and said November/December is a slower time. T.J. emailed  back with a specific Saturday and now we're back to waiting for word from the hospital. Only then can we move forward and sign contracts and exhale.

You may be wondering why I'm even trying to plan something for this year when there are so many extenuating circumstances. Why don't I just wait and get married in a year when we'd have more time to figure it all out? Well, it's because T.J. is moving to Washington next week and I am not. I'm staying behind, for now, and that sucks.  So maybe now you're thinking that the logical thing would be for me to just move out there with him from the get go and we could just live together and get married whenever.

But I don't want to do that so hear me out.

You have to know I am longing to live with T.J. Truly I cannot wait to blend our lives together. His futon and my girly, according to him, daybed. I am so over the moon excited to not be long distance, to start and end every day with him. I've had this traditional fairy tale in my head since I was a little girl and I can't just let that go, despite what is now pretty socially acceptable these days. I want to cross the threshold of our new home as his wife not his fiance/girlfriend/roommate. That is not the easy path, and it puts more pressure on us to find a closer date because my stomach churns when I think about being 3,000 miles apart until next spring.

Maybe the reasons for living together before marriage are rational, convenient, obvious. Solutions to the problem of distance. But my heart is overruled by the emotional and spiritual reasons to not do that. I've waited my whole life to live with my husband and I will wait a little longer. And, really in the grand scheme of things, when we've decided to spend forever together, what's a few more months apart?

So the great date setting saga will continue. And in the meantime I am praying for patience and for peace about what ever happens. Because believe me, I'm marrying T.J. whether we can make it happen this year or we have to wait ten years and it's gonna be the best day ever. (But please oh please let it be this year.)

"I wait for the Lord. My whole being waits and in His word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Celebrating in Charleston

Last Wednesday I packed up my sundresses and my sunscreen and headed down to Charleston for T.J.'s graduation weekend. After several annoying airport delays (seems to be the norm these days) I finally arrived in that pretty coastal city and the arms of my guy. We headed downtown to meet up with his sister and her boyfriend, in town from Montreal, and several of T.J.'s classmates out celebrating the end of 4 hard years of med school before the even harder years of residency start.  

The next day more family arrived to town, his parents, his aunt, his grandmas, and my parents! Everyone got to meet and say hello while waiting for the "hooding ceremony" to start. This was the ceremony just for the medical degree candidates where a doctor of their choice places the hood/cape/neck thing around their shoulders. It was fun to look through the program and see where everyone was headed for residency and it was so sweet to see some people  "hooded" by parents or grandparents. After T.J. (and another hundred new doctors) walked across the stage they all stood and recited the Hippocratic oath.  We then got to watch T.J. say another oath as he was commissioned as a Captain in the Army. 

Oh man was I one proud fiance! I know he has worked so hard these past 4 years, and even though he's basically been "done" with school since he found out where his residency placement was back in December, it was nice to officially recognize that accomplishment with him.

We then headed out to dinner with everyone at Blossom where I enjoyed some fried green tomatoes, pork belly and crab cakes. Just the first of many delicious meals over the weekend.

Friday T.J. was supposed to attend the entire school graduation (doctor, dentistry, nursing, etc), a 4 hour affair which we decided to forgo for the beach. The hooding ceremony was more personal and formal and special enough that we didn't feel like we were missing out. T.J.'s family was staying on Folly Beach so he and I hit up Publix (oh how I miss this store) and grabbed sandwich fixins and headed out there for lunch. We then spent the rest of the afternoon playing bocce ball and getting too much sun. I failed as a fiance in that I did not nag him about sunscreen. His back and my shoulders paid the price.

Once we decided (a little too late) that we'd had too much sun, we walked into the little beach town for dinner at Snapper Jacks. I started with a Pina Colada (my favorite frozen beachy treat) and then T.J and I shared some peel and eat shrimp.

After dinner T.J. and I trekked back across the bridge and onto the peninsula. We showered off the sand and met my parents (who were staying nearby at the Planter's Inn) for a rooftop drink at the Vendue Inn. It has a fantastic view of the city and all it's church steeples but it was a little too chilly that night to enjoy the skyline for too long. We parted ways and T.J. and I went out in search of a late night snack which we found at Pearlz. We ordered calamari and some really stubborn steamed oysters, a great end to our evening.
On Saturday we headed back over to the beach house for lunch, this time with my folks for a shrimp boil. We had shrimp, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, grouper and salad (all we did was eat this weekend and we were in desperate need of something green).

After our yummy lunch we all piled into one car and headed back into town so T.J.'s sister, her boyfriend, and his cousin could do a little sightseeing and so T.J. my parents and I could get a drink and relax. Sometimes logistical problems with large groups (especially those involving lots of family) can only be solved with a mojito. So I had two. The four of us sat poolside at the swanky Market Pavilion Hotel rooftop and chatted about future plans and in-laws and whether or not my dad would have shrimp and grits for dinner again that night.

We headed home to freshen up for dinner before meeting up with everyone at 82 Queen. This restaurant is a labyrinth of small dinning areas and we sat outside in their beautiful courtyard under a gazebo. It was the perfect intimate table setting for our two families to get to know each other a little better. I had the "Southern Chicken" which means fried chicken thank you very much. After our meal, we said goodbye to T.J.'s family and then headed on to dessert and coffee at Kaminsky's. They are open until 2am and there is always a line. There menu is simply the display case of desserts right inside the door. They let you in 5 people at a time to see what delicious treats they have that day. Honestly it's a little stressful because everything looks so good and you have to sort of remember what you you saw and then you can either order something to go or they'll seat you at a table and you can ask for peach pie or coconut cream pie (our selections) from your waiter.

Sufficiently full we walked my parent back to their hotel and said farewell before taking a nice long stroll back to T.J.'s apartment and calling it a night. Sunday morning T.J. went to work off the shrimp and grits and I started packing up my suitcase. We then drove to Shem Creek to meet up with my old roommate for lunch at Vickery's. We also picked up my graduation present for T.J. which I had shipped to her for safe keeping. I had ordered him a custom cornhole set with our undergrad university's emblem on it. I thought it would fun to have this out West, and maybe we'll run into some fellow Greenville folks in Washington.
(purchased here)

We spent the rest of the afternoon picking up bubble wrap, packing tape and bins so T.J. could get his apartment in order before the movers come next week. But we also decided to drive over to Sullivan's Island and cruise around for bit. Sullivan's Island is a much calmer, classier scene than Folly. We picked out our favorite beach houses and then stopped at Fort Moultrie, which was somewhere T.J. had never visited  and wanted to checked off check off his list before he leaves town. This fort saw a lot of action in both the Revolutionary and the Civil wars. You can also see Fort Sumter right across the water.  It's a really quiet oasis and it only made it harder to leave.
Too soon after, T.J. was dropping me off at the airport.Thankfully we have a wedding in Columbia, SC this weekend to look forward to before he has to head out to Tacoma. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

this weekend and my mom

I am heading up to my Mema's house this weekend for mother's day. I will get to spend the weekend with my mom and my dad and a whole houseful of family and it sounds pretty wonderful to me. I just packed jeans and t-shirts (and some mother's day surprises) and I'm looking forward to a no fuss weekend. 

It's been a little stressful around these here parts. 
Nailing down a date that works for T.J, both our families, and the Army has proven to be trickier than I anticipated. I'm trying my darndest not to be a crazy bride. So far so good, but I'm not always successful.

My mom, though, what would I do without her? She has been the calmest of us all. She's let me lay my worries on her and she's reassured me and rearranged schedules. My mom, who knows my heart so well, knows just how desperately, and how long, I've dreamed of being a wife, and one day a mother, knows just what to say when  the emotions start to spike

She's excited for me! 
And I love her and need her and am so thankful I get to celebrate her this weekend!
Happy Mother's Day to my most wonderful mom

Monday, May 5, 2014

More Engagement Photos

We got back all our professional photos from the day we got engaged and they make me so unbelievably happy every time I look at them. I just go right back to that moment, the rush, and the excitement, and overwhelming joy of it all. I love that Steph (our secret photographer) was able to capture those natural reactions. And then I just got to walk around with my brand new fiancé, feeling all shiny and glowy and newly engaged. Here are just a few of my favourites. I tried to narrow it down some more but it was really hard to not post them all.

Honestly, I would have been happy with just a cellphone picture taken by the waiter at the restaurant but I am so happy to have theses memories captured and saved for us. I am in love with these photos and I will definitely be getting some framed for our new home and most likely using one for our Save the Date. If you are in the DC/Virginia area and need a photographer, definitely check out Stephanie's site, Angelina Photography