Friday, December 19, 2014

The Wife of a 4th Year Med Student

Back in February, I wrote a post about being the wife of a 3rd year med student. To my surprise, a lot of women with super busy husbands (whether in med school or not) totally identified with what I said. I was reminded of the age old adage: Strength in numbers, yall! In summary, being the wife of a 3rd year med student was the pits. We got through it - praise the Lord - but it certainly wasn't my favorite year of med school.

Fast forward to now. Michael is half-way done with his 4th and final year of med school and we are flying home tomorrow to Dallas for eight days of Christmas puzzles, movies, Blue Bell peppermint ice cream (be still my heart!) and lots of family and friend time. Today, I'm writing from a hotel room in Hershey, PA, the chocolate capital of America, while Michael is currently in the midst of an interview at Penn State. Today is his 14th of 20 residency program interviews.

Repeat: 20 interviews.


Now that Michael is over half way done, I'm feeling much better, but the whole process has been incredibly draining. I've played madam secretary to Michael this fall and helped to schedule interviews, book flights, rental cars, and hotel rooms, and have been his travel companion to eight places.



Wait. Hold the phone. Whyyyyyyy am I talking about myself?!?? Michael is the one who actually has to be on his A-game all day for 20 interviews. He's the one who is working to actually have a JOB next year, while I sit in coffee shops and drive around towns to see if we want to live there, and visit the local bakeries to see if the cookies are any good. (I got a sugar cookie last night here in Hershey that was sub-par. My fault though -- who orders a sugar cookie in the chocolate capital of America?? Rookie mistake.) I'd say my role of travel buddy/ taster of local treats/ real estate agent is far, far easier than sitting through day-long interviews where any number of random questions can get thrown at you. Such as:

If you could eat dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

What would you do in this scenario: you have a flat tire...

Why do you want to go into this field of medicine?

Speaking of that, Michael is going into neurosurgery. I don't think I've actually written that here before. Back in the spring, Michael did his general surgery rotation and then had two surgical sub-specialty rotations, one of which was neurosurgery. Previously in the fall, he had done a neurology rotation and found it completely fascinating, so he wanted to see what the surgical side of it would be like. In a nutshell, for Michael, it was love at first sight when he scrubbed into his first neurosurgical case. He came home that day and said he wanted to be a neurosurgeon.

But then came months of going back and forth, much prayer, and much discussion between us about what it would mean to go into that field. Neurosurgery is a 7-year residency, and then Michael may still do a fellowship after that. Neurosurgery means a LOT of days and nights on call. Neurosurgery means a lot of missed weekends, lots of me feeling like a single mom, lots of missed Dad-time, lots of me doing everything around the house on my own, lots of going to church sans a husband, lots of frustration, lots of grace, lots of communication, and lots of sacrifice.

Michael and I talked and talked about this decision and weighed the pros and cons, the possibility of choosing a different specialty, and what the lifestyle would be like for us as we raise babies in a new location. Through our conversations and a ton of prayer, we are moving forward day by day in this decision and trusting that the Lord will carry us through the next several years. More than ever, I know we will need our friends and a good community and church to support us. And I'm hoping that our baby girl on the way will be a breeze of a baby so that moving in late May will be a cinch. (Wishful thinking... I know!) But we do feel at peace about neurosurgery, and I love that Michael LOVES what he will be doing with his life. Nothing is more sexy than a man passionate about his job. Heyy-oh! (Although I think a man passionate about his kids is going to be pretty hot, too.)

Back to being the wife of a 4th year med student. Ok, listen up. Here is the key to getting through this year (at least the fall of this year): FLEXIBILITY. There is no way around it. Life is just different this year. So very different. Michael was doing away rotations for two months this fall and was completely gone from DC. For a lot of students going into surgical subspecialties, they actually do three or more away rotations. This blows my mind -- I cannot imagine Michael being gone for another full month at another program. The day his final away rotation ended in Nashville, we drove to his first residency interview. This was on October 25th, and literally every week since then, Michael has traveled every 2-3 days to get to his interviews. It's INSANE. But it's the norm for this time of year, especially if you are going into a surgical subspecialty. By God's grace, I've had a flexible work schedule and was able to go with Michael on his two months away, and as mentioned above, have been able to accompany him on several of his interviews. In January, we are going on a tour of the Southeast and driving to five interviews in seven days. By all accounts, it is an exhausting process, but having a good attitude seriously helps A LOT. Also, being 7 1/2 months pregnant is making me a tad more fatigued than normal, but I'm grateful to get to keep Michael company on so many of these trips.

Funny story: the picture above is of Michael and I riding the tram at Newark airport. These are the trams reserved for disabled people or senior citizens. During this particular trip, we had to walk about a mile to get to our connecting gate, and the driver took one look at me and said "get in." Yes sir. No complaints from me!

Now, I know that I am in the minority in being a wife who can accompany her husband on these interviews and away rotations. I don't think most people have the work flexibility to do that, or they already have children to take care of, or for any number of reasons just can't go. And that is where flexibility comes even more into the picture. Your husband may be across the country for a month doing an away rotation. This might mean that you have to wake up early or go to bed later to talk to him for 10 minutes on the phone each day. This might mean that it's just going to be a really cruddy and hard month. This might mean that you feel alone and tired and frustrated. This definitely means that you are going to have to show amazing grace and patience toward your husband and toward the whole away rotation/interview process. And this definitely will mean that when he is finally back home, y'all will eat popcorn on the couch, and watch 10 episodes of Friday Night Lights, and be so excited to actually be going to church that you take a selfie with your church in the background.

Red brick steeple

No matter what, I think this season takes a huge amount of trust in the Lord. Trusting that he will give your man the stamina he needs to get through these interviews, trusting that you will be alright as you wait for him to come home from traveling, and trusting that the Lord is preparing a place for you both come Match Day when your man tears open the envelope that tells you where you will be living and working for the next 7+ years of your lives.

No big deal, right?!?

Our baby girl is due March 6th, exactly two weeks before Match Day on March 20th. We are anxiously waiting for these two events with a lot of joy and no small amount of trepidation. I know I have a "God who sees me" (Genesis 16:13) and holds me and Michael in his hands as we wait for so much to unfold, and I am so grateful that he has carried us through this far already. And I've no doubt that it will be the same for you if you are facing many future unknowns.

Ok, time to run -- gotta go find me some chocolate :)

A little glimpse into the future

Monday, December 1, 2014

December



 December is here, and with it, Advent season. I was completely broadsided by how fast Advent snuck up on me this year. Thanksgiving juuuuust finished and then HELLO! Christmas trees, Christmas music, candles, lights and nativity scenes abound. It doesn't help that Michael and I have been living in a total dream world lately. Wait, 'dream world' probably isn't the right phrase. What I mean is we've been totally out of touch with any sort of normalcy to our lives because we aren't in any regular pattern right now. Ever since September, we've either been away from home, or have been home but traveling every three days all over the country for residency interviews. It's been a tad chaotic. 

It's also getting increasingly hard for me to do simple tasks like bending over to put on shoes. So there's that. (I'm not sure about posting a baby bump pic... not sure if I will ever be there... but in the words of Justin Bieber, never say never.)

I felt a bit worried about not yet being mentally and emotionally prepared for Advent, but then was reminded yesterday about the error in this kind of thinking. Who are we to feel like we have to be ready for the Lord to work in us this season? We don't have to be ready at all. The Lord can and will work in us regardless of how we feel. Ohhhh right right right. I need simple reminders like this ALL THE TIME. 

So, I'm now looking forward to Advent more than ever. I need this countdown to Christmas, to the celebration of the coming of Jesus as a little baby in a manger and to the anticipation of his coming again, every year. 

By the way, did you know that Advent is the first season of the Christian church year? Here is a little 4-minute video that explains the Christian calendar. I loveeeeeee it. Seriously. It's worth watching. And the year starts today! Well, actually, it started yesterday because Advent leads up to Christmas and includes the four preceding Sundays. Will wonders never cease. (Here is the actual link for those reading this post via email as I don't think links come through over email: http://vimeo.com/79923336). 

My desire for this Advent season? To be like the wise men in Matthew 2 who "rejoiced exceedingly with great joy" when they saw the star that came to rest over the place where the child was. If the wise men rejoiced exceedingly merely at the sight of the star that led them to Jesus, can you imagine their joy at actually seeing Jesus himself??? It must have been absolutely immeasurable. 

O Star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy Perfect Light

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Nashville Recap

Times flies when you are on the move! But here I finally am, sitting still, on the first cold and grey day of the year, at home in DC, cherishing some moments of stillness. Here:

Here again:

Heeeeeeeerrre too:

(Moments of stillness.)

We've been back from Nashville for about two weeks but really it hasn't felt like that because Michael has flown to five interviews since being back, I spent five days in Dallas, and I just dropped Michael off at the airport this morning for another flight out. After two months of not being in DC, it has been a tease to be home but still so much on the move. I can't wait for Thanksgiving -- it will be a full week of us both being in one spot (upstate New York! brrrrrrr) and it will be phenomenal.

Being in Nashville for October was really fun. By the end of the time, I was REALLY excited to get back to DC, not because Nashville was a drag (far from it), but just because after two months of being away (we were in Durham for September,) you really just want to be back in your own home, in routine, cooking your own meals, seeing your friends, etc.

Contemplating home in the hills of TN

Here's a little story about Nashville hospitality: upon driving into the neighborhood where we were staying for the month, I mistakenly directed us to the wrong house. I had Google street-viewed the house where we were staying, and it was red brick with columns. Well, the house I mistakenly pulled up to was red brick with columns, too. (NOTE TO SELF: check the address. No duh.) The family had told us to let ourselves in and make ourselves at home, so Michael and I pulled the car around back and started unloading. About 5 minutes later, a car pulled up with a husband and wife giving us some major "what the heck are you doing" stares. I had never met the family before (we were staying with a doctor friend of Michael's) so I marched right up and introduced myself like it was the most natural thing in the world. Welllllllllllll -- it took about negative 2 seconds to figure out that we were definitely NOT at the right house. Whoops, small mistake. But here's the thing: Bill and Sherry were so nice. I mean SO NICE. They honestly could have shot us for breaking into their house. (They would have been in the right.) But instead, Bill in his cowboy boots and Sherry in her sweet southern smile just thought we were dimwits and kindly pointed to their neighbor's house across the street and waved us on our merry way.

So that's how we came to Nashville. Not getting shot at. A good start, I'd say.

Our first Sunday in town, we heard a pretty politically-charged sermon that hit on issues of abortion, women's roles in the church, and homosexuality. All in the same sermon. Welcome to the south. I leaned over to Michael and said "this would never happen in DC!" But it was surprisingly refreshing, the preacher was honest and Biblically sound, and it led to some good discussions. On repeated occasions, I also noticed families and groups praying at restaurants before their meals. I about fell out of my chair each time this happened because it's been so long since I've seen a family do that. Again, so refreshing.

There's a radio show on one of the country stations in Nashville called the Bobby Bones Show that I'd listen to every morning in the car. Now, if you pay attention to SEC football, and you really have to if you live anywhere south of the Mason Dixon Line, then you will know that Katy Perry was at the Ole Miss-Alabama game and predicted that Ole Miss would win. Which they did! It was the best. Katy Perry also publicly said that she's got the hots for the OU quarterback and that she wants him to call her. Well, this topic was being discussed on the Bobby Bones Show, and they were debating if the OU quarterback should actually follow through and call Katy Perry. Lo and behold, it was revealed that the OU quarterback has a girlfriend, and so the consensus on the show was that he should remain faithful to his girl and most definitely not call Katy Perry. WHAT! I was blown away that fidelity was winning the day. In this day and age, I guarantee that nearly all talk shows would totally advocate for the OU quarterback giving Katy Perry a call, girlfriend or not.

The point of all this is that the south, at least what I noticed of it, thankfully hasn't lost it's sense of faithfulness, charm, and southern hospitality.

I also have a renewed appreciation for country music -- namely Eric Church. I don't know where I fell off the country bandwagon, but I am happily back on it now.

Two things surprised me about Nashville: how big it is, and the traffic. Since the city has grown exponentially in the past five or so years, these two things naturally go together. I think especially coming straight from Durham where there was barely any traffic ever on the road, I didn't love sitting on Hillsboro Pike for 20 minutes just to go get some ice cream.

Mecca




The very very best thing about Nashville is that I got to spend time with some of my best friennnnds!! Three UVA besties live in Nashville and are wonderful and brilliant and we're getting married are all doing amazing things in healthcare. I totally zonked on getting lots of pictures of these three women and their cute men, but we shared some good meals (my friends can cook, let me tell you what), some great walks at Percy Warner Park (one word: hills), a bachelorette celebration, and I even got to see this little babe get baptized:

Nothing cuter in all the world.


Let's talk food for a second -- Because the food scene is growing pretty fast in Nashvegas, I didn't really know where to go eat. There are lots of choices, and lots of what I felt like where either casual places or high-end places with not a lot in between. Some of my favorites are -

  • Kalamatas, a little Mediterranean spot in a strip mall in Green Hills with delicious and healthy eats (and live music on Friday nights... but live music is everywhere.)
  • Food and Co, a great lunch spot for sandwiches and salads in Green Hills with the cutest little outdoor patio.
  • Hattie B's Hot Chicken, a Nashville staple. Don't go over the "Hot" level of spice or you really might die. 
  • Fat Bottom Brewery. I didn't actually eat or drink here, but I went with friends who did and it all looked good. 
  • Pancake Pantry, a Nashville institution that I dragged Michael to thinking it would be overrated but still wanting to go. The hour wait is WORTH IT for the sweet potato pancakes. Do it. 
  • Franklin Mercantile Deli, an adorable brunch and lunch spot in Franklin where Michael and I picked up sandwiches to take to...
  • Arrington Vineyards, beautiful land and vineyards outside of Franklin where we spent a lazy Sunday afternoon. The "picnic tasting" for $12 is the way to go. Fun fact: the vineyard is owned by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn.

I think there are more, but I can't find my little list of restaurants that I made so that's all for now. 

dearest Ellen


All in all, being in Nashville was a treat. Michael really liked the program at Vandy, and I enjoyed getting to know the town. In March, we will find out where we will be living for the next seven years (7 YEARS!) If we end up in Nashville, I think we'd do just fine. But I think this is true of wherever we end up!

We shall see, we shall see...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Because it's fall. Because I finally found pumpkin pie spice at the store. Because I love you.




















That's all. Recipe found here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

While We Wait

Don't you forget it

I found out I was pregnant in early July, and immediately flew home to Dallas the next day where I spent 10 days with my mom and dad. I told my parents our news (story here if you need a refresher), but nurtured this little secret growing in me and kept my mouth shut even with some of my closest friends. (This is not easy to do. Especially when you are the only one drinking sparkling water when everyone else is having margs. In Texas. Do you know how hard it is to not have a marg in Texas? It's hard.)

On the plane ride back to DC after that week spent mostly sleeping and having my mom make me soup, bagels with cream cheese, and French toast, I wrote down a lot of my thoughts that I didn't want to forget or to be overshadowed by the new joy and wonder and surprise of being pregnant. Because it wasn't joy and wonder for a long time for me. It was waiting and longing and crying and frustration and thinking that something was majorly wrong with my body. 

I know the sorrow of wanting a child. Of longing to see the double pink lines on yet another pregnancy test. Of crying when a friend announces that she is expecting with an adorable picture of mom shoes, dad shoes, and new baby shoes (Damn you, social media.) In fact, I have no idea when we actually conceived this child because I was having tests done that month to check over my weirdly behaving body, and didn't keep track of when this little life could have been formed. And now that I know a bit more about the ins and outs of conception and fertility, I am truly amazed that babies are born at all. It's a complete miracle. 

During this past mother's day in May, I sat in the church pew simply bewildered that I was feeling as weepy as I was. I was focusing with all my might on not crying from the stronger than normal feeling of sorrow, fear, and longing for a baby that I felt that day. Our church in DC is made up of mostly young people - 40 and under - so it's a rarity to see someone with gray hair. But one of my favorite people at church is Bob, an elder and someone who has been a part of Grace DC since its beginning. I love it when Bob prays, not only because he has gray hair and that means he's lived long enough to earn it, but because his prayers are chalk full of truth that I always need to hear. 

That mother's day, Bob prayed for all the mothers in the room, those longing to be mothers, and those who serve in mother-like roles to the children in our city. And then he said these words that I'll never forget: "Lord, while children are indeed a blessing from the Lord, they are not the ultimate blessing. For your word says that 'greater love has none than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.'" This was 100% what I needed to be reminded of. Children are a blessing from the Lord, but not the ultimate blessing. To love the people in our lives and to really (I mean really) be devoted to them, that is what we are called to do. Those words were balm to my soul. They reminded me so strongly that whether conceiving a baby was in my future or not, I still had purpose and worth and a role to fill. I needed that reminder so badly. 

But there was and is still so much waiting in the process. Waiting to count days, waiting for your body to kick into gear, waiting for your husband to get home so you can get to it, waiting to take a pregnancy test. Then, waiting and waiting and doing the whole cycle again. 

I've learned in the waiting that the Lord shows up. Well, actually, he is there all along, but I finally noticed him while I was in the waiting. During that time, I read a devotional that a man from Dallas had written after three years of cancer treatment. He wrote about reflecting on the character of God from Psalm 86. In those verses, it says that God is merciful, gracious, full of steadfast love, and hears our prayers. He wrote about how we should pray boldly knowing these characteristics. Because God is merciful and gracious, he will do what is best for me. Because he is full of steadfast love, he will give what is best for me. And because he hears my prayers, I know that he knows my heart and my desires and longings. 

Reflecting on God's characteristics wasn't something only reserved for me while waiting to conceive. In fact, one of the sweetest times I've had with the Lord recently came after I found out I was pregnant. I had a minor scare and wasn't sure if the baby was ok or not. There was nothing I could do but wait (always waiting!) and again reflect on what I knew to be true of the Lord and his goodness. Yes, even his goodness if the baby didn't survive. I came out of a time of prayer and felt like Hannah from 1 Samuel 1. Hannah longed for a child for years and years, and the story says that she prayed fervently before the Lord. Although the Lord had yet to answer her prayer, and Hannah had no idea if he would giver her a child or not, verse 18 says that she "went her way, and her face was no longer sad."

Somehow, and certainly not always, but at least for good bits of the time, that's how I have felt during each step of this long process. While waiting for a baby, I would spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer be sad. After finding out we were pregnant and immediately thinking of everything that could go wrong, I would spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer be sad. And now, almost halfway through this pregnancy and still walking that fine line between worrying and trusting the Lord, I spend time reflecting on the Lord's goodness and no longer feel sad. 

I also am realizing how God's timing is perfect. If you are longing for a baby, I am not wanting my experience to make light of yours. You may or may not have a biological child one day. I may or may not have a biological child one day. But either way, God's timing is perfect. Had Michael and I gotten pregnant on my timeline, we would have had a baby now. And right now would have been a very hard time to have a newborn. We haven't been in our home in DC for over a month, and won't be back until the end of this month. Michael then travels for residency interviews until mid-January, and I'll go with him on some of them. I can't imagine having a baby right now, although that is what I had wanted so badly. But God knew better than me. 

I don't want to forget what I felt for months of trying ('trying' feels like a bad word) and thinking my body is weird and having fertility work-ups. It's frightening and confusing and sorrowful and I wish it wasn't what so many women go through. But the Lord is there in the waiting. I mean, hands down, there is no doubt about that. And he is here in the waiting with me now as my belly starts to pop out little by little. And he will be there forever. 

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. 
(Isaiah 30:18)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September Things

Michael and I are in Durham, North Carolina for the month because he is doing an away rotation at Duke. From here we go to Nashville for most of October for another rotation before returning home to DC. It's a mini adventure!


I had no idea that I'd feel this way, but it's been surprisingly nice being out of the city. Well, I mean, Durham is a city, but honestly it feels like a small town compared to DC. Simple everyday things continually amaze me -- like how you can get anywhere in 7 minutes. Even places that are 10 miles away, no sweat. Just pop in the car and you'll be there in 7 minutes. There is literally no traffic. It's weird. And there is always parking anywhere you go. MIND BLOWN. We've been in DC too long. (This is not a diss on DC, just a discussion about city-life making me tired.)

There is also a Chick-Fil-A about four blocks away. This is cause for celebration, wouldn't you say? Hey? Ok? Par-tay? Soufflé?

Bottom line: the pace of life is slower here, and I really like it. It's balm for a weary soul even when I didn't know my soul was that weary. For Michael, he spends most of his waking hours at the hospital so you'd think he'd be exhausted but man oh man, he is ON FIRE when he comes home at night. His long days energize him instead of draining him because he LOVES what he is doing. For me, it's the best thing in the world to see. ("On fire" is perhaps a tad of an exaggeration. He is on fire for about one hour before we both fall asleep. I swear, we're 90 years old.)

I have a few favorite things lately that I wanted to share. Take 'em or leave 'em!

1) New song to love: Spencer Combs and Holly Maher - You Are Mine. It's a little breathy kind of like Joshua Radin, but I meannnnn it's so romantic. I actually found it because it's the song that goes along with this ad for a baby bassinet, but whatever. The song's about love and it makes you want to love your man better. Or watch a romantic movie...

2) Which I just did! I just watched About Time and it is so charming and sweet. I think I am behind the times on this one because I remember hearing about it when it came out last year. Well, I finally saw it. This is the best pick-me-up movie if you are ever feeling blue. You can't help but feel good about life after watching it, not matter what age and stage you are in.

3) I also have another movie rec: The Hundred-Foot Journey. I read the book six months ago and wanted to basically eat the pages, and the movie is the same way. Except I felt like the movie is less about the food and more about the characters -- all of whom are charming and dear. Annnnd I think that now's a good time to move to France.

4) I have a new favorite person to follow on Instagram: Reese Witherspoon. She is totally the girl next door with a few glamour shots thrown in for good measure.  She posts about china patterns and her chocolate lab and the movies she's working on. She is kind of goofy and of course she's Southern and she likes to read. I want to be her friendy.

5) Being pregnant is nuts. The one thing I want so badly, I can't have: a spicy tuna roll with lots of soy sauce and wasabi. Be still my heart. Oh and a margarita. Not in the same meal, but I'd love a frozen margarita. I recently learned about a wine region that I didn't know about before and since I'm not drinking, you should! It's the Douro wine region in northern Portugal. It's far better known for its port wine production, but it also makes magnificent red table wine. And it's one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. Here is an article about what to do if you go there, and here is an article from the New York Times with suggestions on what to buy.

OK, I'm over and out. Time to go exploring.

ps. THANK YOU for your excitement with us over the baby news! We are beyond grateful for the community of family and friends that this babe will be a part of.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Baby Cat

I'll get right to it.

September comes with some baby news. Michael and I are having a baby! Bambino Catalino is coming in early March! We are completely humbled, amazed, thrilled, and I can't believe there is a little life growing inside me. It feels like such a waiting game -- I'm not showing yet (although I think I am, but let's be honest, I'm pretty sure it's because I'm eating a lot more these days...) and I can't feel the baby kicking yet, so I often wonder "is this real???" Oh me of little faith. I've already learned so much about waiting. Waiting and waiting. I have a lot of thoughts that I've already written down about conceiving and fears and waiting and trust, but that will come soon in a future post. For now, we are just rejoicing and are so thankful for this little life and are happy to share this good news.


The day in July after we found out I was pregnant, I flew home to Dallas for a dear friend's wedding, and stayed in Dallas for 10 days. I couldn't keep the news from my mom and immediately told her, but because of the busy wedding weekend, I didn't have a moment with both my mom and dad until four days later. Over dinner, I told dad I had a belated father's day gift for him, and he unwrapped a box containing a polo shirt baby onesie. It looked just like the shirt my dad is wearing in the picture above, but just in miniature dimensions. Dad was SO CONFUSED. Oh man, I'm laughing just thinking about his face. He just stared at the onesie and didn't say a thing. I was giggling and my mom finally prompted him by asking:

"What is it, honey?"

To which dad replied, "It's a little shirt!"

To which I fully burst out laughing. (I had my phone leaning against my water glass and Michael was watching the whole thing on FaceTime, so he bursts out laughing too.)

And mom then prompted him again by asking:

"And what goes in that little shirt, honey?"

And dad just stared at her.

Then stared at me.

Then looked at the little shirt.

Then looked back at me.

Comprehension finally dawned in his eyes, and he looked at me and exclaimed:

"No! ARE YOU WITH CHILD????"

Oh Lord, help me. I've never laughed so hard. What a pastor thing to say. (My dad's been in ministry for most of his life.)

Yes, just call me the virgin Mary, dad.

So there you have it. The big reveal to my dad is one I will never forget. Classic dad. My parents and Michael's parents are of course so excited about becoming grandparents, but boy did it take dad a few to register what was up.


Michael and I can barely contain ourselves these days. He often comes home and sees me and shouts "you're pregnant!" like he just found out that minute. Gosh, what joy. Thanks for celebrating this baby news with us!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Word in your Heart

I have a re-occurring thought that pops into my head every now and then, and it's this:  If I was to be thrown in prison, would I know enough of God's word to sustain me through the duration of my stay?

Ok let's back up. I know what you're thinking. WHY would I be thinking that I'm going to be thrown into prison?? Well, I don't plan on it happening ever. Actually though, I did recently have a dream that I stole a breakfast sandwich from a food vendor at a Les Miserables show and got in trouble with the law. A BREAKFAST SANDWICH??!?? Yes, a breakfast sandwich. To be fair, in the dream, it took them 30 long minutes to make the dang breakfast sandwich and I was exercising my right to complain about bad service by refusing to pay. So I ran off with the sandwich and left the local law enforcement trailing in hot pursuit.

Anyway, aside from some possible stolen sandwiches, I really don't think I'll be going to prison any time soon. Buuuuut the point is, I often wonder if I know and have studied enough of the Bible to last me through hard times (and if God forbid I was stuck somewhere without being able to read the Bible.... again, not likely.)

The Bible talks a lot about knowing God's word, and having it in your heart. So reading it isn't just about reading it, but deeply knowing it -- having the words written on your heart and mind so that you can bring those words to mind when you need it, or when a friend needs it. There have been several times in my life when I was struggling or suffering or sorrowful or anxious or depressed, and God met me in those moments with his presence manifested through his words. Verses that sometimes I knew, and verses that sometimes I didn't even know I knew would pop into my head at just the right time. And these words are always balm to my soul.

Here are a few verses on knowing God's word:

Romans 10:8 - The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.
Deuteronomy 6:6 - And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
Psalm 119:11 - I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Colossians 3:16 - Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly.
John 14:26 - But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 15:27 - If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Michael knows how much I cherish and love to memorize verses (and poems, and quotes, and anything that moves me.... typically on the subject of love or friendship.) So for our third anniversary, he had our friend Jenn write down one of my favorite passages from Psalm 73. Jenn took a calligraphy class and in general has perfect handwriting, so I know it was going to be good, but I was still blown away by her writing when I saw it. Auuuuuhhhh maaaaaaaayyy zzzzzinng.


This little framed piece is my new favorite possession. I see it on my bookshelf every day, and therefore read it and am reminded of these verses every day. It's a win-win: Pretty words on pretty paper in a pretty frame, annnnd re-reading these words every day makes them more and more impressed on my heart and mind and ready to call into action when necessary. 

Bottom line: if you ever hear that I've been thrown in prison, please send me a Bible. But know that I'll be alright without one, too. These words are written on my mind and heart. 


(ps. Happy birthday to my favorite brother in the whole world!!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

When I Met You in the Summer

Well. I haven't written a post in quite a while. There are so many reasons for that, but none of them are that valid because let's be real -- it's not that hard to sit down and bang out some thoughts.

Au contraire mon cheri. I actually feel like it is hard at times. Like there's everything to say and nothing to say. That's often how I feel in conversations when I'm tired. Like I want to give everything and nothing.

Summer is rolling by and I'm not sure if I like it moving so fast. Michael said the other night how he's excited for fall and the crisp air. (Actually, he said "crispy" air, but who says that??) I was shocked when I actually found myself agreeing with him. Me longing for the fall??!? Me? The lover of sun and the beach and lazy Saturdays at the pool?!? Sigh. I don't even know myself anymore. 


But summer's not over and summer has been good to us. We had a visit from Michael's parents and my sissy-in-law, Lo! She is a peach. 



Then in late June, I made my annual pilgrimage to Texas to be with my DC girls. Meaning we all used to live in DC together (literally together, in one house) and now everyone has since left DC (why!?!!!) except for two of us. It is so good to be with these women. I can't even explain. These are sister-friends who can laugh together and cry together and everything in between. These are my people! 



This year it was a little different because we had three babies on board: two were present; one is in the womb set to make its debut in September. Talk about growing up. Most of us survived Snowmageddon in 2010 by drinking calimochos and not much else, and now some of us have babies. WHUT. 


Michael went to Colorado the same weekend to visit his Duke besties and old roommates. They climbed a fourteener and did man stuff. 



From there, we went to the beach in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. We did nothing except read and watch World Cup games and lounge with my padres. It was wonderful. 



Michael and I also celebrated our 3-year anniversary on July 2nd while at the beach. I am convinced more and more each day that I married a dream man. He is the most loving and emotionally tuned-in man I have ever met. I don't even know what emotionally tuned-in means. Let's see if I can explain. He wants to know about my heart. He wants to know about my joys and sorrows and desires and ambition. He wants to know about my thoughts and what I'm reading. I often describe whole plots of the books I'm reading to him just so he'll feel connected to me. He likes the music I like (he doesn't really know anything but the music I like, truthfully.) And, he will rub my feet and make me pasta for dinner after working a 24-hour shift at the hospital. If that's not love, I don't know what is. Dream man. 



After the beach, Michael started his 4th year (4th year?!??!) of med school -- wait, let's pause and shout a word of praise for that statement: Thank you, Jesus!!!!! -- and I went home to Dallas for 10 days of weddings, seeing friends, taking naps with my mom, and basically pretending that I lived in D-town. My dear friend Allie got married in what was the most beautiful and God-honoring wedding ceremony ever. I have never stood so close to a full choir as they were singing, and man, it was something else. Just unbelievable. 



Now I'm back in DC where life is moving fast! Too fast. We have weird fall coming up where we won't actually be in DC for two months. I'm trying to soak up these peaceful DC nights and move slowly and intentionally. More on all of this laterrrrrr. For now, here is a new favorite tune. It's from the movie Begin Again which I saw recently with some friendies. It's a cute film - worth seeing. And because of it, I have a new appreciation for Adam Levine. Enjoy! Over and out. 



Monday, July 7, 2014

The Ocean

it's not the raging of the sea
it's not the tide that's pulling me
it's more the way the seabirds play
that i begin to see your face

[Pierce Pettis]





Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Reading 2014


It's summer!!!!

Sunscreen?  check
Beach Towel? check
Long Island Ice Tea? check
Bocce Ball? check
Man with Evian Natural Mineral Water Spray? Well...
Book(s) to read? ummm...

OMG WHAT SHOULD I READ???!!

That's a terrible question to face. If you need an answer, here's a list of a few books I've read and definitely recommend, and several that I want to read this summer.


The Language of Flowers: Read about it here. This book started my love affair with flowers. Just read it.

Me Before You: A page-turning sweet romance and tear-jerker that really makes you think. I just found out that this is going to be made into a movie as well. Three cheers! I said this in a previous post, but I'll say it again -- my favorite scene from this book will probably be one of my favorite scenes ever from any book: Lou and Will dancing together at a wedding, all eyes on them, almost like normal lovers. Almost.

What Alice Forgot: it's a light and funny read, but actually deeply touches serious themes like infertility, estrangement, losing best friends, and re-building a family. Another page-turner, too.

Divergent: I know, I know. I am way late to the Divergent bandwagon, but I'm glad I finally read book #1 of the 3-part series. I already looked up the DVD release date for the movie adaptation (it's August 5th, if you care) and have planned a movie night with my fraands. I'm pretty much in love with Four and his love for Tris. Gosh. I really only like the book because of their romance. So that's that.

Disclaimer: I haven't read the following (yet).

The Vacationers - Basically, the "it" read of the summer. There are 74 holds on it at the DC public library, so I'll guess I'll read it never. It's about an American's family two-week vacation in Mallorca and how their stuff* hits the fan.  Who's up for a good family drama?

Longbourn - a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from the servants perspective! Downton Abbey fans unite.

The Engagements - A Diamond is Forever and a story following 4 couples. I don't know much more than that except that everyone I know who has read it, liked it.

Eleanor and Park - Remember your first high school love? That's what this book is about -- first love and how to navigate it. And it's set in 1986. It's another young adult book that's going to be made into a movie.

If I Stay - I saw the preview for this when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars. I think I'll pass on the movie (yes, again another YA book-turned-movie.... I'm seeing a trend) but the book could be good. The main character is in a coma and has to decide to come out of it or not. And of course, there is a boy waiting for her if she does. Choices, choices.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail - another book being made into a movie. This time with Reese Witherspoon -- what's not to love? I get the feeling this is a book like Eat, Pray, Love which I think I liked. A lot of people have already read Wild, I know. I'm so behind.

The Interestings - everyone's reading it. I feel like I've seen this book in every coffee shop window I've passed. It's about talented kids who grow up -- some achieving their dreams and some not -- and the ties that bind.

Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering - The title pretty much sums it up. And I know this isn't exactly a "beach read," but it's from Tim Keller, so you know it's going to be awesome.

The Lowland - a sweeping family saga spanning from India to America. I could be wrong, but this book reminds me of Cutting for Stone, a book I really enjoyed.

The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection - the foodie in me has always wanted to read this book from Robert Farrar Capon, who just so happens to be an Episcopal priest. Jesus + food = a winning combination.

The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, A Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life - I've been told this book is very good. It's about a man and his family leaving the big city for the slower pace of small town life.

The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini - the two most cherished novels from Pat Conroy, my new favorite author. All of his writing is haunting, beautiful, a love song to the low country of South Carolina, and will stick with you always.

That's about all I've got. Well, for now. That's the good thing about books -- there's always more to read. What have you been reading?? I'd love to know!


*A lady never curses.

(Here was the summer reading list from 2013, in case you are curious. I didn't really love MWF Seeking BFF and I couldn't get through The Paris Wife, although I think most everyone I know liked it.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Charleston

I went to Charleston two weekends ago for a friend's bachelorette party. Allie and I have been friends since first grade, and it's such a huge honor to be a part of her wedding in July. She was THE BEST bachelorette --- dancing with anyone who asked her to dance, running into the Charleston fire department and throwing on a helmet and jacket and jumping on a firetruck without thinking twice about it, going along with all our little games we planned for her, and not once being sad about the fact that it rained for two days of the trip. In fact, I think I was the only one who was sad about the rain. But I mean, I sort of have a sun addiction so it was probably for the best that the weather wasn't cooperating. Gotta protect the skin... I'm learning this slowly. Here are a few pictures:

The bride-to-be and me. We used to roll ourselves up in foam bed pads and secure them around our bodies with bungee cords, and then climb trees and stare at people. Glory days.


Some of my high school (and life) besties. #HighlandPark4ever



We had matching tanks, of course. 



Below, I'm wearing genie pants. My friend Courtney is a high school counselor and says that this style is all the rage for the 14-18 year-old crowd. Cool. I'm 10 years older. Same thing? 


This is all of us on the porch at Cru Cafe where we had dinner one night. I've been reading Pat Conroy novels in anticipation for this Charleston trip and if you've ever read a Pat Conroy novel, you know that food, and the preparation of it, is a central and defining element to his writing. In fact, my dad was here last weekend and we were discussing Pat Conroy. I just finished Beach Music and when I mentioned this to my dad, he said that he will never forget a scene from that book that describes in beautiful detail a meal shared in Rome near the Pantheon: the peeling of an orange, olive oil, and truffles. I knew exactly what scene he was thinking of. I'm tempted to post the text from it, but it's not really the point of this post so I will refrain. (Wow! I'm showing restraint!) In Conroy's South of Broad, which takes place in Charleston, he often mentions the cuisine of the south in mouth-watering detail, and it was with this in mind that I was crazy excited about my first low country meal in Charleston at Cru Cafe: local swordfish with wild mushroom Anson Mills grits, taso gravy, truffle arugula, and tobacco onions. I so wish I could describe the meal in typical Conroy fashion. I won't even try. But it's worth writing home about. It was perfect. 



Here, Leen and I are making carrot cake. This has been a tradition since our freshmen year of high school. We'd all gather at one of our houses to watch the Bachelor, and if we were at Leighton's house, her mom would always bake us her famous carrot cake. She'd hide a quarter in the batter, and if you received the slice that had the quarter, then you won a prize. Ever since then, we've nearly always made this cake when we all get together. It's one of my favorite traditions.


Allie and the fire truck. She's basically a model. 


Speaking of South of Broad, here it is. The white church in the background, St. Michael's Church, boasts the oldest bell tower clock in America. History is cool, man. 


After reading Conroy's novel about growing up in Charleston, I couldn't believe I was actually walking through the streets of this historic neighborhood south of Broad Street. I loved it. While the girls were shopping on King Street, I fast-walked down King to Tradd Street and over to Meeting then to East Battery, and then back up Legare Street. As I drooled over the homes, I realized (with glee) that Charleston feels pretty similar to Georgetown. Except Charleston has palm trees, and the waves from the Cooper River hitting the sea wall splashed my legs as I walked along East Battery. And at one point, I saw porpoises. Oh, and, for the first time in what feels like forever, I saw families dressed in their Sunday best leaving church together on Sunday morning. Be still my heart! It was then that I realized I've been away from the south for too long. Georgetown is charming, but it most certainly isn't the south.

Charleston rolled out the red carpet for us as we celebrated our dear friend. I can't wait to see her married in just a few more weeks!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Flowers and Thoughts and Love Affairs

Two spots in my neighborhood bring me GREAT joy. Actually, there are way more than two spots, but for the theme of this post [FLOWERS], there are two spots that bring me great joy.

One is a home on Q and 32nd Street, and one is the Georgetown Lutheran Church on Wisconsin and Volta. Both of these places are lovingly and painstakingly cared for by a master gardener, and the result is simple and glorious. Both places are on prominent Georgetown thoroughfares, and I'm pretty sure that both gardeners find a lot of joy in their flowers because they know that those flowers bring a lot of joy to those who pass by. There is a lesson in this: he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (That's a Proverb -- hey o!)

I've actually been dying to know who owns the house and tends to the beautiful flowers at the corner of Q and 32nd for nearly three years. Turns out, it was the terrible winter that we had this year that gave me the opportunity to meet this mystery woman as she and I were the only two soles out in an early morning blizzard. She was walking her dog, and I was walking to let the dogs out that I was dogsitting. She is a beautiful woman named Laura who has a big, white Golden Retriever named Cody Dakota. The dog has two names because she couldn't decide which name she liked better, so she gave him both. It's the first dog I've ever met with a double name, but I don't really know why more people don't do that. Maybe I'll do that when we get a dog one day. 

Speaking of that, (and this is a tangent that I didn't mean to write about, but that is what's fun about writing,) I always tell Michael how much I want a dog. One of my favorite things to ask him is what kind of dog he would want, just to see what he will say. We will be out taking a walk and see a cute dog and I'll go all googly-eyed and swooney, but getting a dog has never really been a reality. Then, last week, Michael randomly blurts out to me that we should get a dog. He definitely thinks we should get a dog. He's sure of it, and we should go to the rescue places or find a breeder and get a dog. 

Now, you know when you say things a lot because you know it's not really going to happen? That's sort of what I was doing when I kept saying how much I wanted a dog. Then, when Michael randomly started to agree with me about wanting a dog too, I'm like "What the heck!? You're not supposed to say that!" Michael's supposed to be the rational one. The one who always brings my dream world back to earth. But now that he is saying that we should get a dog, I'm the one who is bringing the reality check:

Honey, our apartment is the size of a church pew. 

Sweet pea, doesn't our lease say we can't have a dog?

Sugar buns, we don't really have that thing called MONEY. And owning a dog requires some of that.

Hurrrumph. I think Michael has me figured out. He has realized that if he plays along with my petty schemes and complaints and needs, then I'll actually be the one to freak out and turn into Ms. Practical. Dang it! I hate it when he figures me out! There is also a lesson in this: put your money where your mouth is. 

Moving on. 

Laura, the flower and double-name dog lady, keeps her garden so pretty. I run past her corner house almost every day and it never ceases to amaze me. I've learned quite a bit about flowers this year through a bit of study and because I've been doing more "girly" things of late with my free time, and I can't wait to have a real garden one day. Michael is the one with the green thumb in the family, but I'm the opinionated one, so we've hatched a plan that combines our strengths. Wherever we end up next, we want to have a garden. Herbs and vegetables, but most importantly, flowers. I will get to pick my favorites, and Michael will do all the hard work of planting. It's a wonderful life! 


Just kidding.... I will help, of course. I will serve lemonade and other refreshments and take lots of pics. 

Ok Ok, I will help! I will pick up a hoe and do my part. 

Enough of this small talk. Let me show you some flowers.


Hello, my pretties.


The window box that puts all other window boxes to shame:


These purdy little vines aren't actually from Laura's house or the church, but, I mean, I love them. 


And finally, it's the Georgetown Lutheran Church! 


Alleluia. 

Happy Weekend!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Happiness Is...

Happiness is a fleece sweatshirt.

I know it's now mid-May and the Shortest Spring Ever due to the Longest Winter Ever has now skipped merrily into summer, but since we now have the AC on full blast in our teensy apartment, and since it was a monsoon outside, I went into the closet this morning hunting for my favorite fleece sweatshirt to curl up in while I drank my coffee.

The backstory on my favorite fleece sweatshirt:

My favorite clothing brand is Patagonia. I think it has to do with the fact that the name is taken from the mountainous and beautiful region in Argentina, that Argentina was a time of healing and happiness for me when I lived there in 2007, and that I have a thing about being warm and comfortable but also looking stylish. Not stylish in a preppy way, but more like in an outdoor adventure way. Don't be misled --- "outdoor adventure" are not words that I would say describe me too well. I think using a port-a-potty qualifies as an outdoor adventure.

Anyway, I've owned my cream Patagonia fleece sweatshirt since the summer of 2004 -- right before I went to college. As it turns out, Molly, my first year roommate and saving grace, had the same sweatshirt! (Well, in blue.)

Many memories were made in those sweatshirts:

It's like we've never seen leaves before. But this is how you just can't help feeling when it's fall and you're on the lawn at UVA. Why?? Because it's heaven on earth.


Turning 19 (oh, to be young!)

I wore the sweatshirt on the day that I killed two javelina with a single shot in south Texas. Pretty epic.

And I wore it when Tilly and I ran down Rugby Road with belts on our heads...

And when Sara turned 21.

And in Cabo (who does that?!?)

And when watching lacrosse with one of my oldest friends in the world!

And I guess Michael didn't mind the sweatshirt too much, or my whole outfit for that matter (???), when we started dating and I drove to Durham to visit him for the first time. Because we got marrrrrried about 8 months later. 

So there you have it. Happiness is a fleece sweatshirt. And sweet memories.