Monday, January 31, 2011

flowers for my mom

Dear Mom,

It was beautiful here yesterday.

sunroof pic

It's starting to feel a lot like Spring, which makes me miss you. I love how we gravitate toward flowers and happy colors as soon as the air even hints of warmer weather. And that's exactly what happened: I got my front porch ready for Spring. And for you.


See this rug?


I made it. Not the rug, but I decorated it. It was a $15 utility rug from Lowes. After some tape and some blue spraypaint, I have this beauty. Aren't you proud?

I got a little carried away in the flower department while I was there.


I got lots of pansies.


And snapdragons, because they reminded me of my wedding. Remember when the florist put those in the arrangement and we couldn't believe how perfect it was?

I also got these, but I can't remember what they're called. They're adorable. Especially with the little birdhouse stake that you got me for my birthday.


And look who has taken up residence here...


Remember when I got this at the flea market in Raleigh?


That was a fun day. Maybe I'll make a trip up there for a weekend so we can do it again.

And look how cute this corner is!


I got all those baskets at Tuesday Morning for just a couple of dollars.


And I printed those bird sketches and put them in Dollar Tree frames. Cute, right?

PS: Rudy misses you, too.


This is where we'll sit when you come to visit.


I can't wait. Every time I walk out on the porch, I see this:


And I think, "That's mom's chair. I sure do miss her."

I can't wait to see you again.



Thursday, January 27, 2011

navy updates and a free calendar

Random, right?

Greetings, Citizens! One of our clients says that every time he joins a conference call and it cracks me up every.single.time.

We have a bit of news to share on the Navy front, for any of you who are interested or are (ahem) planning summer vacations to the beach. As you might know already, Andrew is finishing up Power School and will be graduating on February 25. Woo hoo! He has two more phases left to complete: Prototype (6 months in either Charleston or New York) and SOBC (3 months in Groton, CT). Whether he'd go to Prototype or SOBC first, we didn't know. And we didn't know for certain if he'd go to Prototype in NY or get to stay here. But we were fairly certain that he could stay here. His choice was to go to SOBC first (have a relaxing 3 months in CT) before coming back to Charleston to enjoy 12 weeks off until Prototype. Then he'd wrap things up and we'd wait for them to tell us what's next. And last week he was told that everyone would likely get their first choice.

And we believed them! Rookie mistake.

The good news is, he gets to stay in Charleston for prototype. Yay! The bad news is that he's going to Prototype first, then SOBC. No restful New England vacay. No 12-week break. Just a direct transition into shift work - 12 hrs/day, 7 days/week. Oh, goodie.

Silver lining? Why, I'm glad you asked:
  • The first seven weeks will be classroom training (no shift work) and that particular building isn't even open on the weekends. Which means Andrew absolutely cannot work on the weekends. I don't have to tell you how I feel about that.
  • If he meets all of his qualifications by a certain point, he'll only be required to work 8-hour days for the rest of the program.
  • He's not leaving me yet!
So there you have it. The orders haven't officially been cut yet, so that could all change. But we're not counting on it. We'll just take what we're given and make the best of it. Amen.

Next up, a free calendar?! I wanted to design a calendar to hang by the desk in my office and I figured I would share it with you! Here's what January looks like:

2011 Calendar

Cute, huh? Click here for the PDF to see the other months and print your own. You are so very welcome :)

Oh. And tomorrow's Friday. Word.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

i think your handwriting is pretty

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
-Maya Angelou-

When I was in the third grade, my best friend turned in her writing assignment to our teacher. We were learning how to write in cursive. Mrs. Dickerson was so impressed with Ramsey's handwriting that she ran across the hall to show one of the other teachers. It was a conversation that the teachers had out of sincerity, not out of the desire to make this child feel proud. Can you believe how neat her handwriting is? It's better than mine! When Mrs. Dickerson came back, she picked my friend up in a hug and said, "You're just great, Ramsey. Did you know that?"

I spent the rest of the week writing as neatly as possible, taking my time and making sure that every loop and curl was perfect. I wanted so badly to be recognized that way - to feel that proud.

That is our nature, isn't it? To want to be noticed? We want to be talked about in a flattering way. We want someone to tell us that we're funny, that we're a good public speaker, that we're creative, that we're a good writer. And that our handwriting is pretty. We say things like "I don't know why I bought this dress." Oh my gosh, are you kidding? It looks great on you! And those of us who are more bold just come right out with it: "Look at this thing I made." {Gasp!} It's beautiful! You are so talented!

We've all done it, really. In our moments of absolute insecurity, we say things like that because we want someone to tell us that we matter.

That we're beautiful.

That we're smart.

That we're worth it.

That our handwriting is pretty.

But I think that having those thoughts - those desires for affirmation - is just so natural. Something in us cries for recognition. We just know that something is worth being recognized. We just know it.

This morning during my prayer time, I was reading about transforming into the likeness of Christ and wondering what that actually means. What I came to was this: in order to be like Christ, I have to know who Christ is. And maybe I can find pieces of His character in the way He sees me. He thinks highly of me. And it's not considered embarassing or proud to say that.

He thinks I'm beautiful.

He thinks I'm funny.

He thinks I'm smart.

He thinks I'm talented.

He thinks I'm good.

He thinks my handwriting is pretty.

And by knowing what He thinks of me, how He made me, I know who He is. He is so, so good. And affectionate. And patient. And He loves hard. And He enjoys me. And He put creativity in me, so He adores seeing what I do with it. He's eager to say, "yes! yes! I do think you're wonderful! I'm so glad you see it, too." How great it is to know this kind of love.

How do I become more like Christ? I am to be good. And loving. And patient. And I'm to enjoy the things that make others happy - the things that allow them to exercise traits and talents given to them by their Father.

And then maybe, they will feel good. And they will remember that they felt good. And they will see in me a love so unconditional that it had to be from Another.


In an attempt to have a reason to write more often, I'm participating in a Writer's Workshop each week, just for fun :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

marvelous prints: new designs

Happy Monday, dear friends.

First things first, I can't tell you how sweet your comments/emails have been as I write out the story of how I came to be a Castrodale. Really, it's been a blessing. One thing I've heard over and over again is that it's clear how God had complete control over our relationship. And whoa, what a joy it is to hear that! Our prayer has always been that our lives scream divine intervention to anyone looking in. Our relationship and life together have been nothing but a series of God moments, where we're left shaking our head at how perfectly He has stepped in. It's beautiful. As my sweet friend Jenny put it: we're living happily ever after. And I know exactly why.

Moving on :)

I was busy this weekend! Remember how I designed a few Christmas cards last year? Well I couldn't fight the itch to keep on with that, so I've listed a few more generic designs in the Etsy shop!

Maybe you need to wish someone a Happy Birthday?

Happy Birthday Banner 2

Or send a thank you?

Leaf Thank You (Flat) 2

Maybe you're going to a bridal shower?

His/Hers Mug (Front)

Or you might just want to send a simple hello to a friend...

Yellow Songbird 2

They're cute, no? I love, love, love the Yellow Songbird. And a very dear friend just recently asked if I'd design her wedding invitations. Oh heavens, yes. Anything for you, love :)

I told you I had big plans! A girl's gotta do whatever she can to stay busy when her soulmate is out defending our nation's security (dramatic, right?). At least I'm not spending money.

For now.

But I just inspected my closet and the spring/summer-appropriate attire is sparse. I live in Charleston, for crying out loud. Someone get me some shorts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

how i became a mrs. (part 6)

If you're new to the story, you can catch up here - but start at the bottom! (PS: holy whoa, this was an emotional post to write.)

That Friday, March 3 (for a little perspective), was beautiful. It was one of those days in the South that pops up in early Spring, when it was probably cold the day before, making you impatient for the warm months to come. I was standing with Meredith in front of The Pit, talking to Matt as he passed by to his next class, waiting to head to the back of Lenoir to meet the others for lunch. Here's a picture so you can visualize it:


You have to understand something about The Pit: it's probably the busiest part of campus. And on noon on a Friday? It was nuts. It's the heart of the campus. It's where everyone walked to get to class. It was expected, when you walked by, to see students campaigning for Class President or The Pit Preacher condemning us to hell or the Improv Club trying to get you to come out to that night's performance. Today, it was some student group handing out fliers and playing loud music to get our attention. So when I noticed an SUV pull up to my right (on what is not a road, mind you) my first thought was "oh great, I wonder what they're going to do with that?"

And then he floored it.

Meredith and I jumped out of the way and as we stumbled backwards, watched as he hit several people in front of us before turning around the other side of the building, between Lenoir and Davis Library. It didn't take long for everyone to realize that this wasn't a Pit stunt, but something way more serious. And there was screaming and crying and lots of panic. Meredith ran around the side to find Matt, since he'd left us just second before down the path that the SUV took. He'd heard the engine and had just enough time to jump up on the brick wall and out of the way. My first instinct was to call my dad, so as I walked back through the building toward the back of Lenoir (where Andrew and the others were waiting). I fought tears long enough for Daddy to answer. And then all I could choke out was "someone just drove through The Pit and ran over a bunch of people."

Unfortunately for him, through my sobs he only heard "ran over a bunch of people." I can only imagine how far his eyes bugged out of his head when he heard that and he responded, "you did WHAT?" That's something that we laugh about looking back.

Let's step aside for a minute. Here's the thing about my dad: in my eyes, he can fix everything. Whenever anything happens that bothers me or makes me question the norm or confuses me, I call him. Whether he can do anything about it or not. So what I expected him to do for me at the time, I have no idea. But I called him. And I sat on a brick wall and cried, asking "why" over and over and over again. Why would somebody do this? And he stayed with me on the phone, repeating "I don't know, sweetie. I don't know" over and over and over again until we were both somewhat convinced that I had my wits about me again.

Across the way, Andrew was with the others. They'd just walked up and had no idea what was going on. They didn't know why everyone in that vicinity was in a frenzy. They didn't know why I was crying hysterically. But I caught Andrew's eye and I won't ever forget it. He didn't look terrified by the emotionally unstable girl crying on the ground. He didn't think, "maybe I should reconsider this because whoa, she's a hot mess." What I saw was a look that comforted me, but it wasn't until I got to know him better that I recognized it. It's the way he looks when he wants to fix something, but doesn't know how. An urgency. A please-let-me-help-you-because-I-can't-see-you-like-this glance, that has saved me countless times since then.

By this point, my dad had called back to say that he'd talked to my mom and they felt that I needed to come home. He was coming to pick me up. But here's why that couldn't happen:
  1. He was at work and he couldn't just leave like that.
  2. All of Chapel Hill was blocked off. This guy hadn't given himself up yet and they had no idea what he was doing or where he was going, so they had us surrounded. Think SWAT teams and bomb squads and helicopters and lots of police tape. No, really. (We found out later that he was a former student, a Muslim, who was "avenging the deaths of Muslims around the world." He eventually turned himself in and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. And by the grace of God no one was killed during the attack.)
  3. I needed to be with my friends. When you're in college, it's home. And when that home is violated, it's devastating. But I knew that I needed to carry on, as normally as possible, with the people who were dealing with the same emotions. I needed that to work through it.
So that was that. I would stay and would fight for normalcy. We ate lunch and tried not to talk about it. But remember that Psychology test I'd been studying for? It was that afternoon. Was I in any shape to take a test? Yeah right. It took me two hours to stop shaking and I'm pretty sure all the info I'd learned had fallen right out of my head with those events. Enter Andrew.

Why don't you tell him you can't take it today? He'll understand. Let me walk with you.

So he did. He walked with me to the classroom, to the front of the class, to tell the professor I couldn't take the test. And then he walked me back to my dorm, which was in the opposite direction of the route back to his apartment. And he told me to rest and that'd he'd pick me up later. He's taking care of me.

That night, we all joined together at Meredith's apartment and vowed to leave the TV off for the rest of the weekend. News crews and helicopters had taken over our campus and it was too much. So we piled into cars and headed to Jordan Lake. Here's what I remember:
  1. Andrew drove and asked me to sit up front with him.
  2. He asked me if I was doing okay.
  3. He built a fire in the woods when we all got there (and I find that quite attractive, thankyouverymuch)
  4. He asked me if I'd study with him the next day.
He's keeping me busy. He's taking care of me. He can build a fire in the woods. And with that, I was smitten.

Friday, January 21, 2011

how i became a mrs. (part 5)

If you're new, get the backstory here. Start at the bottom!

The next morning, I threw on a pair of jeans, one of my many free college tshirts and a pair of Keds (don't judge). I headed over to Seth, Art and Andrew's apartment with my psychology book in tow and was pleased to find that Andrew was camped out for a day of studying as well. Perfect. Looking back, I realize how casual and comfortable I was from the very beginning with him. I was wearing Keds, for crying out loud.

KL eventually joined and there were periods of quiet among the four of us, interrupted by random stories, bits of info from whatever we were reading and laughing at whatever struck us funny. College is good for the soul when it's filled with days like that. By the time the afternoon arrived, Seth was getting ready to meet his girlfriend (now wife) for dinner and the rest of us decided to wrap up the academics and think toward dinner. Andrew offered to make pancakes for everyone (his breakfast of choice, to this day) and we invited the other neighbors to join. I volunteered to be the sous chef and remember a conversation filled with questions about family, high school, majors, dream jobs and favorite classes. We were getting to know each other and I loved it. I still don't think I was aware of the crush that was there, but I was definitely intrigued. He intrigued me, this tall, smart, kind-of-boring guy.

The rest of the week went like this: I would meet friends to study and Andrew would show up. Library? Check. Student Union? Check. Someone's apartment? Check. Afterward, we'd all gather for dinner or a movie, but Andrew and I always seemed to navigate toward each other. We huddled over the crossword together. We stood in the kitchen and asked as many questions as we could think of to find out more about each other. He even drove me back home a time or two. But we didn't flirt. Neither of us played that card. I think we both knew that we were interested, but we didn't force it. We really didn't have to.

The first time he called me, he had gotten my number from Art. He called to say that a bunch of them were headed to campus to study and he could pick me up if I wanted to join. When I got in his car, he had the passenger seat heater on for me. I noticed that immediately. He was so naturally thoughtful that it made my heart race. He'd bring me home from the library if it was dark. He'd follow me out to the public lot where I had to leave my car during the week, so I didn't have to ride the bus back. And when the 9 at 9 countdown on 94.7 WQDR hadn't reached #1 by the time we got back to my dorm, he emailed me with the winning song of that week (When I Get Where I'm Going by Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton). Who is this guy?

After lots of "studying" and crossword puzzles and escorts home and casually manipulating seating arrangements so we could sit beside each other, a week had passed and we found ourselves at lunch again on Friday. A week since he asked me to go ice-skating. A week since Waffle House. A week. But I couldn't wait to see him. I really, really couldn't wait.

While I was waiting to meet everyone, something happened that completely rocked my world. In a scary, life-threatening, PTSD kind of way. And the way he looked at me while I cried it out and the way he took care of me made it so crystal clear: he had to be part of my life, for a very long time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

how i became a mrs. (part 4)

Warning: this is long. Also, if you need to catch up, you can get the first parts of the story here, here and here.

I guess I should back up and say that I had met Andrew before. I don’t actually remember the first time I met him, but I do remember the first time I saw him. We were both in Campus Crusade for Christ and all the leaders would get together in August to map out the year ahead. All I remember is that he gave an announcement at one of the meetings that weekend.

I’d love to tell you that it was love at first sight. That the world stopped and we were the only two people in the room. That the Lord struck me with lightning and told me that he was my husband. Believe me, I’d love to tell you that. But here’s what I thought: he was BOR-ING.

As is typical for the love of my life, he’s all business. And I was all, “Hey, do you have any cute boys that can take his place? Because this guy isn’t making any jokes and he’s not wearing flip-flops and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t play the guitar. So if you could swap him out for someone a little more dreamy, that would be great.” I’d love to tell you that I’m lying. But I’m not.

The first time we actually met was apparently at the dining hall, where Seth (a mutual friend) introduced us (my posse) to his new roommate (boring leadership retreat guy). I have no recollection. What Andrew remembers, however, is that Martha and I were very chatty and probably in our own little world where our sense of humor didn’t jive with his and I’m pretty sure he uses the word “annoying” when he tells this story.

Annoying? Eh, whatever. He’s boring.

Fast forward to February. A bunch of us (the posse) had the same lunch break on Fridays so we’d gather at the dining hall to share a meal. The weather was starting to get warm, so we’d pile onto some picnic tables in the back, eat lunch and go through the crossword puzzle. Par-tay. Andrew had been there for a few weeks, but we hadn’t interacted. This one Friday, we put our stuff down at the table and ended up side-by-side walking into the dining hall. I mentioned something about not knowing what to eat. He said that it was turkey and dressing day at Lenoir. I like turkey and dressing, so I followed him. When we were in line, I said “This better be good or I’m going to hold it against you.” He gave me a fake/nervous laugh. Wow, this guy is definitely boring.

We went about our lunch and for some reason, I remember noticing him more that day. He was super smart and was killing the rest of us at the crossword. He was talking and laughing, so maybe he wasn’t boring? At least not enough to be written off completely. We all talked about going ice-skating that night, packed up our stuff and dispersed. I was headed to psychology and he was headed to the bus stop. He ran to catch up with me and told me that I should go ice-skating. I told him I’d think about it, but by the end of the day had decided to go shopping for a new notebook and some index cards instead. I’m cool like that.

That night, I finished my shopping, picked up some Bojangles and headed to Kristi Lee’s apartment, which happened to be in the same complex as Seth and Andrew’s. They were all in the posse. KL and I had decided to pass up ice-skating and reorganize our notebooks instead. (Yes, it was a Friday and yes, this is a true story.)

Everyone else who was going out was gathered in the living room waiting to head out to ice-skating. I will never, ever, ever forget my interaction with Andrew that night. I was sitting on the sofa, sitting Indian style (crisscross apple sauce?) and Andrew was sitting on the other side of the room in a chair. He was sitting back, but leaning to the side, resting on the armrest. Our conversation went like this:
Andrew: What did you get?
Me: A four-piece supreme.
Andrew: mmmm. With fries?
Me: Yes.
Andrew: mmmm. With honey mustard?
Me: Yes.
Andrew: mmmm. Did you get sweet tea?
Me: Yes.
Andrew: Alright! That’s what I always get.
And he smiled and it was precious. I realized then that he wasn’t boring, he was real. He was unassuming. He wasn’t shy, he wasn’t flirtatious, he wasn’t showy. He was Andrew Wilson Castrodale, take it or leave it. And my heart did a funny little dance.

They left, they came back and we all sat around and talked. A few people left for bed, but some of us decided that we’d like a snack. A midnight snack. A Waffle House snack. So we piled into Andrew’s Isuzu Trooper (his dream car that he’d saved for and purchased that summer) and headed to Waffle House. I sat in the front, because Seth wanted KL and Art to get married and secretly, but awkwardly, forced them in the backseat together.

Here’s what I remember about that night: he listened. If I said something that got lost in the crazy conversation that comes with a group setting, he’d ask me to repeat it. He asked me questions to find out more. He smiled and laughed and followed along and he listened. And I was immediately struck by that.

I also remember that when we got on the subject of dating and turn-offs, I mentioned that I’ve always been insecure dating guys who were shorter than me. And Seth awkwardly subtly pointed out that Andrew was tall. Noted.

We finished up (quickly, after the line cooks started fighting, which is never good at 2am. In Durham.) and headed home. Seth announced that he was spending the day at his apartment studying and I decided to join in - for no other reason except that I really needed to study for my psychology test and I didn’t feel like going to the library. So I went back to my dorm, went to bed and wondered why I was hoping that Andrew would be studying there, too.

Note: I will not keep you waiting long for the fifth installation. But this mug is long and I’m trying to break it up for the sake of a) my fingers and b) your eyes. I’ll be back for more in a day or two :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

this one's for you, pa

Daddy and Page trains

Thanks for being a great dad.
Thanks for making us a priority when we were growing up (and now).
Thanks for working nights, so I didn't have to go to daycare.
So we could play trains.
And wear cool hats.
Thanks for letting me help you stain that table.
I think about it almost every time I walk into the dining room.
Thanks for growing that awesome 'stache.
I think it scared a lot of boys away.
You probably shouldn't have shaved off.
You grew it back when I got engaged, but it was too little, too late.
Stupid Andrew. He stole your daughter AND won all that money in your fantasy football league.
I told should've kept the 'stache.
Thanks for continuing to answer the phone when I call with random questions.
You're like my own personal Google.
Thanks for raising me on classic rock.
Andrew says it's cute.
I just like it because it made me feel so super cool in my Saturn when I was blasting AC/DC.
Thanks for raising me to be a grown-up.
You done good.

Also, thanks for loving me.
That's all I ever really needed.

Happy Birthday. Love you, mean it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

i did it again

I was tempted to put an "oops" in front of that in honor of my middle school fave, but I refrained. Brit was the only popstar who ever elicited a call to the radio station for a request (Hit Me Baby, One More Time). That says a lot, especially after the Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls era...

But I digress.

I redesigned the ol' blawg. Again. I know you people are afraid that if I keep it up, the earth might tip off its axis (riiight) but I can't help myself. Whatever state I want my house in typically spills over into every.other.area of my life. In this case, it's light, clean and airy. Purse, yes. Car, youbetcha. Desk, duh. Blog, ok!

I've got some ideas, people. Some ideas about some blogging adventures, one of which includes branching out in the stationery biz. See the purple button on the side if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

We'll see. Maybe one day.

Until then, I'm going to continue getting ready for my cutie little brother to come and visit! It's liberating to get your house ready for a 20-year-old. Do you think he cares if I sweep? Oh sweet stress-reliever, he does not.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

because he knows i'm scared of pesticide-ridden milk

Also known as, reason #362 why I

There has been a revolution in our home. A food revolution, if you will. It started back in July, when we read Food Rules and vowed to follow them all. And we have been, for the most part. We've drastically cut out processed foods, we buy organic when it makes sense and we eat so many vegetables that I think we may have accidentally become quasi-vegetarians. Of course, we were better about that in the summer than we are now; our preference is to buy local and it's too cold for anything good to grow. A girl can only eat so many squashes and potatoes, amen?

But my obsession with making sure that the food we eat doesn't contain anything that isn't meant to be our bodies has morphed into something a little more...crunchy. We're eliminating canned foods from our pantry because of the amount of BPA found in the lining. We've switched to all-natural homemade cleaning products, since many others contain xenoestrogens (or synthetic estrogen) which are linked to all kinds of medical issues - including reproductive ones. AND I'm in the process of investigating what I put on my skin by way of beauty products to make sure there aren't any yuckies seeping in.

Are you still reading this, or have you chalked me up as a looney and moved on?

In some ways, it is absolutely extreme. And I'm not naive enough to think that I can shake all of this out of my life. Let's be real - unless we live in a nudist colony and eat plants, it's not happening. And if that's the alternative, I really don't want it to. But the more I research, the more I'm aware of how there's a bunch of stuff in our diet and our makeup and our clothes and our laundry detergent that really shouldn't be there. And it hasn't been there long enough for us to know the real effects, which makes me nervous. So if we can eliminate some of the threats (and do so cheaply, i.e. clean with vinegar) then why wouldn't I?

Which brings me BACK to this guy:

He's cute, right?

And every time I find an article or read a report that fuels my desire to live on a ranch where I grow/raise/make everything that is consumed in our household, he gets it. He totally lets me get rid of his beloved Kraft singles (because that stuff is NOT cheese). We've been having the "milk" discussion, since it's listed as one of the Dirty Dozen (foods that should be organic). Should we pay twice as much for organic? Or switch to something like soy? Will we still get the proper amount of nutrients from milk that isn't supplied by a cow? Is raw milk safe? And on and on and on.

So this morning, when I woke up, there was an article pulled out of the WSJ that he'd placed on the kitchen table before he left for work, knowing that I'd see it. It was all about almond milk and how it's the "new milk."

That boy. He's a keeper.

PS: I don't judge. I really, really, really don't. I don't stick up my nose at your Kraft singles and if we're being honest, I'll probably be excited if you have it as a cheese option when you serve me burgers at your house. We're just doing what works for our family. No stone-throwing here.
PS II: Yes, we are probably switching to Almond milk.
PS III: We have no intention of naming our future child Rain.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

how i became a mrs. (part 3)

You were on the edge of your seat, weren't you? I knew it. If you're catching up, you can start here and then here.

At this point, I'd finished my freshman year in college and was wrapping up my first summer back home. I was single and mostly okay with it, but I was super excited about a new year at Carolina. I was rooming with Martha, who was my bestie and made me laugh. Friends like that are always fun to live with. (I would post the video of her sitting under her lofted bed with a towel on her head, singing into an invisible microphone to prove this point, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't approve. Kisses, Tha.)

But then there was another stupid, stinkin' boy. Gah. I won't go into any details, but just know that it was bad. Like whatwereyouthinking bad. I'm shaking my head right now at how dumb I was, but what can you do? (Write about it six years later, apparently) I tried to wrap that one up pretty quickly, but there were some residual emails and phone calls that led this creepster to essentially ruin my first semester back. That - along with some killer classes and a teensy bit of a whatdoIwanttodowithmylife crisis - resulted in me being the saddest I've ever been. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I was depressed. I felt overwhelmed all the time. I doubted myself all the time. I felt sad all the time. I was homesick every single day. And that's how I spent my time that semester. Rainbows and butterflies it was not.

Christmas break was good - I was regrouping and reprioritizing things for the new semester to come. But everything that was going on started to bear down on my spiritual health. Naturally, the "why" questions started surfacing and I wasn't quite sure how to get past them. Why did I feel sad when I really, really felt like I was seeking the Lord during that time? Why was I so insecure that I continued to let boys steal my identity? Why couldn't I just be happy? Why did I let another boy deconstruct my confidence? Boys, boys, boys. They're trouble, I tell you. Now, I wasn't one of those loopy, flirty, omgdidhejustsmileatme kind of girls. And from the outside, I don't think I appeared to be insecure. It just seemed like somehow, I didn't feel good about myself unless someone else felt good about me, too. Typical.X.Chromosome.

I was thinking things out as I was walking to class and it slapped me in the face. All of this stuff was wrapped up into a ball of disfunction and what it boiled down to was this: I did not find my identity or my security in the One who knew my heart the most. And when your heart is made for one thing, but is tied to another, things tend to get messy.

So I decided then and there, on the sidewalk in between Morrison and E-haus, that I was done. I prayed this prayer: Lord, I'm done with boys. These relationships are meaningless and do not glorify you, nor do they fulfill my purpose here. Give me the strength to avoid this false source of confidence and the wisdom to know when you've prepared me for my husband. More or less. Basically, I swore off boys and declared that I didn't want to date ever again until it was time to meet my husband. And I really, really, really meant it. And apparently, He knew it.

My friends, that's a dangerous prayer. Because that was February 23, 2006. And on February 24, 2006? I met my husband.

Monday, January 10, 2011

snow (ice?) day

I look outside my window and I kind of want to curl under my desk and never come out. It's gloomy. It's COLD. It's quite disgusting, actually.

Andrew got to come home early today and was in his sweats and watching SportsCenter by 11am. He put in over 80 hours last week, so I don't think he knew what to do with himself when given the opportunity to relax. I came downstairs to get lunch and he said, "Page. I'm so comfortable." And he said it like he couldn't believe it was true. Bless.

I told him to get all of his solitary down time out of the way by 5pm because when I get done working he's mine, all mine. I've got big plans that involve a pot of soup and 24 reruns. And probably a Scrabble showdown because that's how we roll. We usually have homegroup on Monday nights but we don't feel great about getting out in this weather and to be honest, we're pretty excited for an excuse to both be home without anything to do. You've got to take what you can get, amen?

Happy Wintering.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

january mode

I'm in it. I'm living it.

First of all, #1 on my list of 2011's goals is kicking my patootie. I did some horrible, torturous and completely unnecessary workout routine with my make-believe xbox trainer (who I've decided to call Jean Claude) and I think he broke me. I would now like one of these:

Please. I beg of you. See how happy she looks? It's because her legs aren't in agonizing pain as she limps up and down the stairs.

Moving on.

January Mode (n): A state of heightened awareness of the clutter around you, which often leads to unrest, nailbiting, twitching and hives. Those around one who is in January Mode are advised to keep their distance.

TELL ME that I'm not the only who goes into freak-out mode when the Christmas decorations come down. It's all stark and bare and you're like, "umm, excuse you see that dust blob behind the bottom left corner of that picture frame on the second shelf from the top?"And Andrew everyone else is like, "Seriously? I've never even noticed that picture frame. Or that shelf."

My list of things to clean/organize is out of control. I'm throwing away things that we need. The other day, after I cleaned out a bunch of drawers and cabinets to make room for our new cookware, I asked Andrew how he liked cooking his pancake in the new pans. He said it was good except he didn't have a spatula to flip it. Whoops.

Note to self: kitchens need spatulas.

But in all of the de-clutterizing and cleaning I've been doing, I can't get it clean enough. I am noticing even the tiniest signs of filth. Baseboards? Grossss. Stairs? Disgusting. Top of the cabinets? Blech. Laundry room floor? I'm going to black out. I can't take it anymore, people. It's too much.

So you know what I did? (You know what he did?) I made an appointment for someone to come and clean my house.

I know. Take a moment.

But it's just the two of you! And you work from home! You have so much time at the house to clean it yourself!

It's nothing I haven't told myself, friends. The Guilt Monster has been whispering that in my ear all week. Don't care, Guilt Monster. It's my house and I do what I want.

So, just this once. For $100. Someone is coming to clean my house. And this is what they're doing. It's like $2.04/item on that list. Would you pay someone $2.04 to wipe down all of the molding, baseboards, cabinets, doors and switch plates? ABSOLUTELY.

I'll have a clean slate to work with and I can stop chewing my arm off. Judge all you want, but I've never been so excited. Maybe I'll do this every January. You've got to have something to look forward to in the bleak midwinter, right?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

(cue the music) new york, new york!

Here's the thing: you may be a friend who comes here to check up on us or family who enjoys reading my ramblings or a stranger who feels like you can relate. And I love you all. But sometimes, I want to write stuff for us. I want to document this great adventure as much as I can. And let's be honest, my house is full of half-used notebooks. I have good intentions, but it doesn't get written down unless it's typed out. End of story.

Basically, that was my way of telling you that this post might be a doozy. I hope you're comfortable :)

Here's how it all went down:

Day 1 (Highlight: We flew in at night, so we could see a great view of the city and all of its lights)

We got in just in time for dinner. (But here's a story first: our first dinner in NYC when we were honeymooning was NOT good. The concierge sent us to Smith & Wollensky and we didn't know that it was the most overpriced, crowded and unfriendly steakhouse with the world's biggest spears of broccoli. When we didn't order wine, we were snubbed. And because we were so tired, we didn't say anything through the whole meal. That may have been the most expensive and the least enjoyable meal we've ever shared. Bummer. So we wanted to keep it simple this time around.)

By the time we got to our hotel and checked in, I was slipping into a catatonic state due to my lack of sustenance. We walked until we found something that looked good from the outside and ended up at Sara Beth's on Central Park Avenue. She quickly became our very best friend - with her zebra-striped chairs and hideaway garden in the back. So charming and exactly what we needed at that moment. Andrew ordered chicken pot pie (comfort food, yessss) and I ordered a burger (comfort food, yessss) and we almost fell asleep before the check came.

Day 2 (Highlight: The b-e-a-utiful ring that my sweet love bought me because "it's been a big year")

We had breakfast at a place that didn't have a name. I think the sign said "diner" or "eat" or something vague like that. Andrew had a spinach and feta omelette and I went for a bagel with bacon. We spent most of the day (ok, all of the day) wandering up and down 5th avenue. We did FAO Schwarz (which I was a little disappointed with, although that may be due to the kid invasion), Tiffany (ooohhh, aahhhh), Bergdorf-Goodman and many others that I don't recall. We also did a lot of stopping to drool over the lights and window displays. Maybe that was just me, but that boy humored me. We also spent a good bit of time at the Rockefeller Plaza, taking in all the Christmasy sights. It was magical.

For dinner, we asked the concierge to recommend a good Thai restaurant and he didn't disappoint. We ended up in a teeny place called Topaz Thai, with waiters who just wanted to take our order and get on to the next table. But the food? Oh.My.Word. Andrew asked for the best thing on the menu and ended up with "Drunken Noodle" and I ordered the Pad Rainbow with beef. I think I want to eat there every day for the rest of my life.

After dinner, we stopped for a drink at Connolly's, an Irish pub next to our hotel, where we witnessed a lovers quarrel. All I know is that he did a shot before she got there and she said something like "why did you put that on facebook?" and it was not pretty. I contemplated trying to break the ice by putting on my most touristy grin and asking if they'd take my picture, but I refrained. We didn't stick around for the ending.

Day 3 (Highlight: Central Park Hotdog)

Don't judge me for loving the hotdog - I'd been looking forward to it for months. We grabbed a quick breakfast/coffee charge at Starbucks and headed to The Met, via Central Park. We saw a lot of ice skaters, a saxophone player, Big Bird (awkward) and a good amount of carriages. We got to The Met and wished that it wasn't so labyrinth-like. We picked a few exhibits from the map and hit the highlights. On the way back, while admiring the fancy apartments along 5th avenue and dreaming about our hotdogs, we decided that we wanted to take a nap. And it's our vacation, so we do what we want.

Before dinner, we wandered through Saks, because it's pretty and it was warm. Then we ended up at Rosa Mexicano for amazing food (crabmeat enchiladas, mmmm) and the best guacamole I've ever had. Ever. Because my shoes had failed me and it was freeeezing, I was whisked away in a cab (I know, I know. Rookie). But it was the best $10 I've ever spent if it meant keeping my feet from revolting any more than they already had.

Day 4 (Highlight[s]: 9/11 Tribute Center and Wicked)

We had (organic! local!) breakfast at some place near our hotel before taking the subway down to the financial district to see the 9/11 Tribute Center. I'm so, so glad we decided to do that because it was absolutely amazing. It was incredible to see that perspective - one that wasn't CNN or 20/20. It was moving to see quotes from family members of the missing, firemen and survivors. It was breath-taking to hear how the country - and the world - rallied around New York. I was young enough to miss all of that when it happened, so I feel blessed to have had the experience there.

We then hopped on the Subway for a few more stops until we ended up at Lombardi's in Little Italy. It came recommended by a co-worker and we weren't disappointed. It has a reputation - at 2pm, we had to wait 30 minutes for a table. We took the subway into Grand Central Station and remarked at how people really are blurry in New York (no wonder they hate how slow we are in the South). We weren't hungry for dinner so we took another nap and then got ready for Wicked! THAT was amazing.

When the show was over, we meandered through Times Square. At 11pm, it's the most I'm-in-New-York-and-I-can't-stop-smiling feeling a tourist can have. I loved it. By 11:30pm we realized we hadn't had dinner, but we were too tired for anything that required effort, so we had quesadillas at the hotel bar. Downer, I know. But you do what you have to do.

Day 5 (Highlight: NOT missing our flight)

We had breakfast at Diner again and then got in the death cab, headed to the airport. We were both dressed in wedding clothes (Congratulations, Aunt Shelly!) and the first thing the driver told us was how he'd been hit twice and almost hit a third time. At this point, I was triple-checking my seatbelt, keeping my fingers crossed, singing songs of peace and tranquility and praying hard. He definitely took us through the getto and I'm pretty sure he cursed at someone who had the right of way and he sure did drive up on the curb to get around traffic, but we made it. In our wedding clothes. And the lines at security were long but we're VIP military so we got moved to the front. We ran to the gate (think Run, Run Rudolf a la Home Alone) only to take off late because a lady grabbed the flight attendant and entered the cockpit (really?) and was subsequently removed from the aircraft. But since my dad is kind of like a mob boss (because of his connections, not a propensity toward organized crime) we got to Charlotte 15 minutes early. And made it to the church on time.

Fa la la la la

la la la la

I loved everything about our trip. Christmas was everywhere, in every imaginable way and that's exactly what I got fluttery about when I daydreamed about it. It was so awesome to have that time with Andrew, after all the months of Power School. And it was a blessing that we're in a position to even take a trip like that. In a nutshell, here's how I feel about our trip: it was exciting and beautiful and romantic and cold and yummy and eye-opening and exhausting and fast and Christmasy and just perfect.

PS: You are a SAINT if you're still reading this.

PPS: I apologize now for typos. I don't feel like proofreading :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

because quality time is my love language

Today can't end. This has been the most fun/restful/enjoyable period of time we've had in a while and if today ends, it's all over. Sad face.

After gobs and gobs of traveling and family time, we got back home to sunny Charleston around midnight on Wednesday. We made a decision not to do a single thing on Thursday. No unpacking, no laundry, no cleaning, no anything except resting. And so the Day-o-Fun was born.

We really, really relaxed. We slept in and spent the morning watching Food Network. We enjoyed lunch at our favorite burger spot down the road. We got acquainted with my new Christmas present. We ate pizza for dinner. We stayed up late because of the aforementioned Christmas present. And it was glorious.

Lucky for me, the Day-o-Fun turned into the Weekend-o-Fun when Andrew spent an hour studying and said, "mmmm, no thank you." So we did a lot of sleeping in and lounging and laughing and snacking and playing games and watching 24 and staying up late and drinking cappuccino, courtesy of Andrew's new espresso machine. Then we took down Christmas decorations and cleaned and laundered and enjoyed the spring-like weather. All has been right in our world.

And now? Tomorrow. It's looming. Marking seven weeks until Power School is over. And in the meantime, I'll bundle up this time and store it in my reserve for when my spirit is low.

Because this has been oh so good for the soul.
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