Luck of the Thrifty

Last weekend was busy and fun, and here it is already Friday again! First, I just need to say that I was on a thrifter’s high on Saturday, because I went to a children/baby consignment sale. This particular one was a gold mine! It’s basically a yard sale inside a school with all the baby gear, clothes, toys, etc., you can imagine. For under $70 I got the following:

– a space-saver/portable swing for the new baby: $10 ($130 new on Amazon!)

– an extra booster seat for my parents’ table: $5 ($20 new)

-a Boppy nursing pillow: $7 ($50 new!!)

-over 15 articles of clothing for Lucy, some of them brand new: > $20 altogether

– almost-new sandals for Lucy: $4, probably $25 new

– Melissa & Doug set of 50 large wooden alphabet blocks in a muslin bag, brand new, never played with: $4.5o ($16 new)

-Melissa & Doug wooden play food set: $4 ($17 new)

-Melissa & Doug push wooden penguin: $7 ($21 new)

-and and assortment of baby doll accessories for a couple bucks

All of the stuff was in great or like-new shape, so it was all a steal. I went to a few of these sales last year and I will seriously never buy any baby or kids’ gear or clothes new again. People in this area go through their things super quickly, or just have a huge excess, and it seems silly not to take advantage of that, and additionally help reduce the waste of them potentially trashing it.

New blocks

New blocks

Later that afternoon, Tom and I gussied up and drove to D.C. for his school’s annual Gala (gay-la, gah-la, goh-la?). I had a heck of a time finding a petite, formal maternity dress. They don’t exist. The one I wore last year, at 36 weeks pregnant was too big even then, so no way was it fitting this year at only 24 weeks. So I thrifted again, this time in my sister’s closet upstairs, and found a formal dress I had worn back in 2006, when I won an award at the Kennedy Center. It fit…well, differently, but it fit!

Then:

Dress circa 2006

Dress circa 2006

And now:

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Dress (+ Bump)

And finally, last Friday, Lucy started “really” walking, which we considered to be more than two consecutive steps in a row. She is exceedingly proud of herself, and works everyday on adding more steps without wiping out. She’s also (I think) starting to get molars, so her nighttime sleep has regressed again. She usually winds up sleeping upside down between Tom and I, or sideways above our heads against the wall, or both ways several different times throughout the night. Fun times for all!

Have a lovely weekend!

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St. Joseph’s Day: A Love Story, Part III

Part III, and the last! Here are Parts I and II.

We left off with an important question hanging from Tom’s lips…

Silence in my brain. Utter shock, probably, on my face. I consciously reminded myself not to let my jaw drop. How in the world, how, had he read my mind?! I had wanted to hear nothing else from Tom since the day I met him, really. And here, at a table of about 12 people, in the middle of a very ordinary conversation, he asked it. I think I smiled and said, “Yeah, I’d love to!” and then heard Stephen, our friend who was one-half of the other date say, “Ohhh, did I just hear the magic words??” Apparently, all the friends who had taken Tom to the show were in on his plan and had been helping him prep for the nerve-wracking task of asking me out. If they only knew how easy it would’ve been for him all along! Tom confessed he had meant to do it on the car ride over, and had chickened out both times. I felt oddly tickled by the fact that there was something intimidating about me to him. We worked out the details, and then texted back and forth a few times in the next few days. I had mentioned some time before this that I would gladly watch the new Harry Potter movie in theatres with him since he hadn’t been able to, and assumed he’d drum up his usual crowd to go. However, on Sunday night, a week before our date, he called me up as I was helping dissemble the set from the musical. He asked if I wanted to see Harry Potter the following Tuesday, and explicitly added, “just you and me.” Those four words did it. Up till then, I was still forcing myself to believe that even the date and his obvious interest was some fluke or passing fancy on his part; but when he said that he wanted to go out even sooner, with just me, knowing I’d be the one to pick him up, I knew. This was a little something more than fleeting interest. He then said we should throw in dinner beforehand, but since dinner and movie is a lame first date, I was not allowed to call it that, and the berry-picking was to be recorded in our history as our official first date.

The week night “non-first date” was so much fun, and all the butterflies and uncertainties I’d been feeling as I prepared washed away as soon as I saw him waiting on the curb outside, propped on his crutches. We talked non-stop during dinner, and reluctantly took a break during the movie. Tom, as he told me later, used the dark theater as an excuse to stare at me intermittently throughout. I was totally oblivious (I guess engrossed in the film I’d already seen? Oops!). We parted ways even more reluctantly that night, looking forward to Sunday and our first official date. Sunday came bright and early, as our date was to start with morning mass. I was still recovering from a pretty nasty head cold or flu, but I was determined. Nothing would get in the way of the date I’d waited to be asked on for 5 months, even if my internal temperature did feel close to that of the humid August air outside. The infamous Sunday date lasted from about 10:30 AM until 10:00 PM, and included mass, a fancy brunch at a French restaurant, berry and peach picking with our friends, and a barbecue at Tom’s friends’ from college. For some reason, this intense first date didn’t cause me to think twice at all. I felt so natural and right spending my entire day with Tom, and gladly assented to coming over to his apartment the following Tuesday to cook a meal with Les and Stephen using our farm pickings.

By this time, we were starting to rack up dates, and I knew my feelings for him were not just a passing fancy. I jumped at every opportunity to spend time with Tom, and when I was with him, time flew by at an alarming speed. He seemed pretty interested in me as well, and was being exceedingly gentlemanly about all our dates, setting up details and logistics and making everything absolutely a blast. Yet I still reminded myself to steady on; after all, the whole thing could fizzle out and I didn’t want to get overly attached. But on Tuesday evening when I went to Tom’s to prep our dinner, something did feel different. We grocery shopped and cooked together in his kitchen, and I sensed a deeper intimacy than casual friends dating. Maybe it was the chills I felt when I offered him a taste test off the spoon or the way we had to keep dancing around each other in the narrow kitchen. Either way, cooking with someone can be a very telling activity: do we collaborate well? Enjoy creating something together? Laugh over our inevitable mistakes? Yes to all. The evening was going well, and Les and Stephen arrived to eat and chat a while, but left soon after. I stayed and as usual, Tom and I talked for another several hours. He walked me out to my car and I started thanking him for the evening.

He said he had really been enjoying the last few days together, to which I heartily agreed. Then my heart stopped for a second, because suddenly he was asking if I wanted to make it more official and would I be his girlfriend? Thank God for straightforward men. I immediately said yes, and as I drove home that night, I suddenly realized the significance of the date on which we’d met: March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, patron of finding a spouse. I was truly still in shock about this dream that had just materialized, and tried not to over-analyze the St. Joseph thing.

But as the next few weeks rolled by, and we spent every day adventuring together before we both had to start teaching, so many things clicked into place. God may not create soulmates for us, but He absolutely creates and forms a person for us to marry, if we’re called to that. I was floored by how perfectly Tom had been prepared for me. Even the silly little preferences that aren’t deal-breakers, such as a man who loves music and singing and letter-writing and British period pieces; all were fulfilled in Tom. And the big things– a great sense of humor and fun, a (hugely) bright intellect, a compassionate heart, and an ardent faith, well, they were there in spades. He wrote me a beautiful letter the week we started dating that explained why he was dating me, which was essentially to see if we were called to marriage. For once, I had no doubts, didn’t second guess, or nervously over analyze the relationship.

Wine-tasting with my brother and sister-in-law (their way to see if To was "good enough". He passed!!)

Wine-tasting with my brother and sister-in-law (their way to see if Tom was “good enough”. He passed!!)

Marriage was talked of casually from the get-go, but it was around Thanksgiving that we really started to discuss it earnestly.

Here we are at Thanksgiving, where Tom met the extended Smith family

Here we are at Thanksgiving, where Tom met the extended Smith family

They all approved!

They all approved!

I tried to be frightened by the fact that I’d only known him for nine months and dated him for four, but I couldn’t be. Tom flew me out to visit his family in Southern California over Christmas, that being the last major “hurdle” for us to make sure this was going to work out.

Enjoying the sun in Cali

Enjoying the sun in Cali

Ringing in 2012

Ringing in 2012

All went smoothly and we ended the trip by going ring shopping for the first time at a quaint little antique shop in the City of Orange. When we flew back to D.C., we got serious about the planning business. We chose about five or six churches in the area that were beautiful, so that we could pounce on one once we had a date in mind. Tom called his family to ask what they had thought of me, and let them know I would be a permanent part of the family. And then one night, Tom met me at his apartment and completely surprised me by telling me he’d just come from a dinner with my dad. Apparently, they’d arranged it all and Tom had asked for his blessing, which my dad gave heartily. When he asked Tom what our time-frame was, Tom mentioned next Christmas, a time we’d been discussing. My dad immediately told him it would be much better to do it that summer, as in just under six months away. I was floored that not only had my dad not thought we were rushing, but had actually encouraged us to shorten our engagement!

We ended up calling around to our churches with a late July date, and St. Rita’s, our top choice, was open. So we met with the pastor at the end of January, before we were officially engaged, and walked out of the meeting with a wedding date. It was surreal. And very difficult to keep secret! We also had to be quick about everything, since we had under six months to make it all happen. Tom did propose, of course, on a beautiful, crystal-clear winter night. He chose our favorite little park in Georgetown. And that’s all you need to know about that, other than the fact that our jeweler (a very old, scatterbrained lady) did not have the ring ready on Friday afternoon as promised, so Tom had to propose without it. I still said yes, and the ring made its appearance on Saturday afternoon, well worth the wait.

Under the gazebo where Tom proposed

Under the gazebo where Tom proposed

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The day after our engagement, celebrating with family

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All professional engagement photos by our fun and talented friend, Hannah!

Those six months flew by, or dragged by, depending on the day you asked us. I am so very glad we did NOT wait until that Christmas, though. Six months was plenty long. I also thought we would be judged or criticized for such a short dating and engagement period, but of course, we weren’t. Both our families were thrilled, and our friends were so happy for us. The only judgement we received was from a snarky clerk in Paper Source, who was shocked that our wedding was this July, not next July, and informed us that we couldn’t possibly get everything done in time. Well, we did. And we did a pretty good job, with the help of our family and friends.

So on July 28th, 2012, a week shy of our one year dating anniversary, we made our vows and began that great adventure known as marriage.

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 All professional wedding photos by Aaron Thompson

Did I ever think that I would begin dating, get engaged to, and marry someone in under a year? Not at all. Thankfully God had other plans. When you know, you know, and there was absolutely no reason to wait. We often laugh at how rapidly everything happened with us, once Tom finally noticed me and remembered my name. And we like to be consistent of course, so here we are gearing up for our second child in under two years of marriage. 🙂 Ready or not, here comes life!

 

St. Joseph’s Day: A Love Story, Part II

Part II of our love saga. Part I is here if you missed it!

So there we were, at the wedding…

Thankfully, probably due mostly to the grace of God, I was completely focused on the beautiful bride and her groom on the wedding day and my thoughts weren’t straying to speculation about Tom. I only allowed myself to look once into the congregation for a Tom sighting, but didn’t see him and thought they either didn’t make it or were late. Once all the bridesmaids had arrived at the reception, Tom and his two escorts, Les and Jackie, arrived, well before most other guests. To my surprise, Tom wheeled right up to me and struck up a conversation, as though we had just seen each other the other day. I told him how happy I was to see him out and about, and he informed me that he was really ready to break it down on the dance floor, wheelchair style. I kept a discreet eye on him once or twice through dinner, but I was honestly having so much fun with my closest friends that I thankfully didn’t get too weird about it. Then, they opened up the dance floor and we all commenced to have a blast. It was one of the most fun playlists at a wedding and I was so happy to be relaxing finally, after months of almost constant hard work and stress. I passed Tom once or twice, and we did some interesting wheel-leg hybrid dancing. He was actually just quite fun to watch as he did some crazy tricks in his chair.

What I probably did most of the reception...

What I probably did most of the reception…

Ok, please check out the awesome-ness. My friend Sara jumps clear over Tom, casts and all.

Ok, please check out the awesome-ness. My friend Sara jumps clear over Tom, casts and all.

I very consciously told myself to basically forget he was there, and just be myself, and only go near him if it happened naturally (i.e. he happened to wheel near me or be in my direct path to another location). That was a good decision. It allowed me to really enjoy myself and my friends, but it also allowed something else to happen.

Now, just to rewind slightly in the day, something happened to Tom at the very beginning of the wedding ceremony. He was stationed in the back at the end of an aisle in his chair. The bridesmaids began their march down the aisle, and there I went, joyous for Meghan on her most important day. Tom saw me, and suddenly wondered why he hadn’t noticed me more before this. Maybe it was because I was a little more spruced up than usual, but who knows. God opened his eyes, for real. He thought to himself that I was quite pretty and wondered if there might be a chance for him. He then thought immediately that there wasn’t; after all, who would date a guy bound to a wheelchair, for at least the next little while? He mentioned something of this to Leslie after the wedding, and she sagely answered, “Nicole’s a special ed teacher. It’ll be perfect.” (A sentiment oft repeated by Tom’s loving family!)

Blessedly oblivious to Tom's notice as I walked up the aisle

Blessedly oblivious to Tom’s notice as I walked up the aisle

So, back at the reception there was Tom, trying to talk to me and dance with me as much as he could, and there was I. What was I doing again? Oh yes, avoiding Tom with all my might so that a) I wouldn’t attract anyone’s attention and make it obvious that I was interested in him and b) I wouldn’t be self-conscious and end up making attempts to impress him. Tom felt that I was a little inscrutable but he also had a unique vantage point, at three feet high in his chair. He could much more easily see me in all my petite-ness on the dance floor. As I mentioned, I had really let loose and was enjoying the party. He apparently enjoyed watching me in my element, not at all self-conscious (for once) and really enjoying myself. It confirmed in his mind that this was a girl he should at least think about pursuing. I was, of course, blessedly oblivious to all this. I danced on.

The last song came on, and something told me to find Tom, because I really, really just wanted to dance that last dance with him. At the same moment, Tom had the identical thought. He saw me walking onto the floor and started wheeling toward me. My back was to him, and as he was about to ask me for the dance, my friend Tommy swooped in. I was disappointed but didn’t want to be impolite; Tom wheeled away (and I never saw him, he only told me all this later), no doubt cursing his temporary midget status. After the wedding, Tom initiated another conversation and mentioned that a group was going to a concert the next day and asked if I could make it.  I couldn’t, I had so many commitments, and I really thought he was merely being polite and inclusive. He was miffed; this girl was doing everything. How could the guy in the wheelchair compete?

Fortunately, just three or four days after the wedding, I had an evening off from almost constant rehearsal for the musical I was assistant-directing. Tom orchestrated a get-together at his place, and I went, almost ecstatically happy to be included and finally able to attend a more intimate hang-out with him. It was genuinely fun, and I knew I was still quite attracted to Tom– his sense of humor, especially about himself and his ankles, his hospitality, and a new aspect that came to light that night: the boy could sing! It turned out he was in a capella groups in college like I was, and we knew a few of the same songs so we had a blast going through some together. I was almost annoyed that I was still discovering so many things about him that were clearly what I had been searching for in a man. I didn’t notice that he paid me any special attention that night, but I did leave last of everyone there, and we ended up talking for a while and he said he’d love to see the musical if he could get a ride.

Ok, I get an embarrassing picture too...

Ok, I get an embarrassing picture too…

Assistant Directing

Assistant Directing

If possible, the next week of my life was even crazier than ever, as it was “Hell Week” of the musical, the week we dress rehearse and then put on the show, and during the days I was working at a kids’ Broadway camp as a voice teacher. On my drive home between the end of camp and before I had to head back for the show that night, my phone rang. Something in my head said, “Um, I think that is Tom calling.” I laughed to myself at the silliness, but I looked down, and…it was. I simultaneously got chills and a pounding heart from excitement. Tom asked how everything was going, acknowledged my crazy week, and asked if he could order tickets for the Friday performance. I was more than a little surprised. I’d thought he was being nice and polite when he offered to see the show. Apparently, he’d already worked out a ride situation and fixed it so we could also go out with the group of friends after the show. I told him I’d reserve the tickets, and warned him that they’d need to leave pretty early to mitigate the effects of the gridlock known as rush hour from D.C. to Manassas. I still couldn’t believe he was making such an effort. I concluded he was bored convalescing at home alone and just needed to get out. Just knowing he was coming really helped get my exhausted self through the week, and brought a little smile to my face whenever I thought of it.

Friday came, and I was paranoid that they would not make it, due to leaving late, the traffic, or whatever. I took extra care in getting ready that night, and all the people I was working on the show with noticed…I just said I wanted to dress up because it was Friday (??). Tom called me about 10 minutes before the show and asked where they should park. He was really here! I grabbed their tickets from will-call and paid for them so they could skip the line. Nothing would get in the way of me seeing him! I was unreasonably happy to see him down in the audience and talked to him during the whole 15 minute intermission and we planned the after-party. After the show, we were divying people up between the cars, and Jackie, who was in on the scheme, enthusiastically told Tom to keep me company in my car. That was easy! I was hoping I’d somehow get him there, but I didn’t have to do anything. We arrived at the restaurant about 10 minutes later, and then I thought I’d lost my phone. We (though I tried to tell him he didn’t need to come with me) immediately turned around and went back to the church to look, but it was nowhere to be seen. Back to the restaurant, on the way to which he casually informed me that he had tickets to see Peter Pan at Wolf Trap, though he didn’t actually offer to take me. Once at the restaurant, he sat across from me and we continued to chat, and I noticed that more than once he asked me when I was going on vacation with my family, exactly. I thought it was odd, but told him the dates. A few seconds later, literally right after something totally unrelated, Tom looked at me and blurted out, “So I really want to ask you out on a date, but I can’t drive anywhere because I’m broken. Do you want to go on a double-date with Stephen and Les to a berry-picking orchard?”

Part III/The End will follow! 🙂

St. Joseph’s Day: A Love Story

Disclaimer- if you already know this story, feel free to skip it. If you hate detailed narratives or love stories, skip away!

Happy Solemnity of St. Joseph, the patron of so many things: the Universal Church, finding a job and a house, husbands, fathers, and maybe the lesser known invocation– finding a good husband. And on this feast, I have something to be especially thankful for. Today, three years ago, I met my husband. In honor of that felicitous event, I’m finally writing up the whole story. Here’s how it happened…

The night Tom and I first met, I was certainly not expecting to lay eyes on my future spouse. For one thing, I was trying quite consciously to adopt an attitude of abandonment, in order to cease wondering and worrying about Mr. Right’s existence (well, more like I was trying to convince myself I didn’t care one jot while still caring deeply somewhere in the recesses of my heart). For another, I had on a highly unusual outfit– more a costume, really– and suffice it to say, I looked (intentionally) ridiculous.

 My life at that time was also a bit messy; I held a teaching job I wanted desperately to leave, I was eager to be out of my parents’ house and living independently, and just in general felt muddled up about what I should do with my life. It wasn’t at all the “self” I would’ve imagined presenting to and attracting my future husband.

But there I was on March 19, 2011, at the birthday party of a college friend, recently relocated to D.C.. Tom had known her since high school, and was helping her become acclimated to the area. I had heard about this Tom Cox fellow but had no idea who he was. I do remember my first sight of him and of Leslie’s introduction at the party. Nothing magical happened, though I did have to explain my odd attire (we were all supposed to dress like a crazy aunt or uncle in honor of Les). He wasn’t fazed.

Throughout the party, I ended up seeing more of him, especially his extremely excitable side during a game of Movie Charades. He was rather impressed by my skills and his excitement was pretty contagious. Later on, we ended up sitting on the same couch and chatted about our lives; I told him why I was so unhappy at work…so unlike me to share something that personal with someone of two hours’ acquaintance. But he was  incredibly comfortable to talk with, and I didn’t think twice.

 I remember feeling particularly drawn to him throughout the rest of the night; something about his obvious enjoyment of life, his spastic antics, and the way he just was who he was, without caring what others thought– a trait my super self-conscious nature both envied and admired. Like a moth to a candle, I was drawn to his effervescence and without fully realizing it, I wanted what he had, or rather, who he was. The night ended, but the memory of Tom stuck annoyingly with me over the next couple weeks. I found myself hoping to see him at social events, but disappointed when he wasn’t there. I told Les vaguely that I liked her “guy friends”, trying to hide Tom in a cloud of anonymity, and that she should include them in all future hang-outs.

Tom right around the time I met him...how could I resist??

Tom right around the time I met him…how could I resist??

I didn’t see Tom again until early April. Several things were going on for me– I’d just that day had my first interview for the teaching job I would end up accepting, my spring break had just begun, and my Dad’s older brother had just died of brain cancer. The next afternoon I was to fly out to Portland, Oregon to spend time with my cousin. So that night, a few close high school friends and I decided to spend the cool spring evening in D.C. We drove out to the Lincoln Memorial, and as we were walking towards it, someone in the group asked who else would be meeting the four of us there. One of my guy friends mentioned that Les, Jackie, and Tom Cox were coming (among others). And to my dismay and horror, my heart skipped a beat. Or two. “Stop. Stop that right now!” I chided myself. “He doesn’t even remember who you are! This guy is Mr. Social Butterfly; he probably has at least three girls after him right now. He knows everyone in the entire world! Why would he remember your silly conversation at the party a month ago?!”

With these encouraging thoughts battling my unbidden excitement at seeing Tom again, we approached the marbled steps of the Memorial. Tom and the girls showed up, and I really thought he didn’t remember me for a while (because, honestly, he probably didn’t). But, maddeningly, I found myself veering towards him as our group sauntered over the green grass, and we struck up a conversation about all manner of things: our spring breaks, Disney classics and our favorites, the story of my uncle’s death, Tom’s passionate love for Portland and ensuing excitement for my trip. Again, I was struck with how naturally and glibly I could chat with Tom. We all made our way to a pub, and I forced myself not to even look towards which chair Tom was heading at the table. Lo and behold, seconds after I sat myself down, he plopped down in a chair right next to me. I swallowed a happy smile. We continued our conversation and eventually everyone paid the bill and we made our way back towards the car.

Tom brought up Portland again right before our group parted ways: “I’m so excited for you! You’re going to love this city! Here, give me your number, and I’ll text when you’re there about some great places to see.” Score. We texted each other our numbers, and I felt unreasonably happy about this little event. I also told myself that most likely, he would forget all about me in the next 24 hours so I should just get over whatever excitement I was feeling. I left the next day, and was immersed in spending quality time with my grieving relatives. My cousin did ask if there was a boy in my life, and I actually told her that yes, there was one who I thought I could like (read: did like), but it was a very, very remote possibility. On my last night there, we were eating dinner at a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Willamette River, when suddenly my phone buzzed, indicating a text. Could it be…? Yes! Tom Cox had texted me. What was more important was that he really had remembered me and reached out. I was, again, far too ecstatic about it.

My life was running at a frenetic speed of busy-ness as the school year drew to a close, and my next interaction with Tom wasn’t until about two or three weeks later, in the first week of May. I was trying to decide whether or not I could make it to my friends’ wedding in Ohio, and texted to Tom on a whim to see if he was going. He said he was and offered to carpool. I enthusiastically responded I’d love to, and then he called me to more easily work out the details. We talked for a few minutes and worked out the travel plans, though neither of us had a place to stay while there. I could not wait for this to transpire! Six hours in the car each way, just the two of us! Perfect time to get to know him even better. The wedding was to take place at the end of May, but a few days before the event, I received a terribly shocking call from my friend Tommy, who told me that Tom had just fallen 30 feet in the Shenandoah Mountains on a hiking trip, and broken both ankles. He was still in the hospital. I felt awful for him, but we weren’t close enough for me to actually do something for him or insert myself in the stressful time of recovery he was undergoing. I was also, selfishly, rather disappointed that our little trip was off, and most likely, all my chances with him.

After this, both our lives became crazy, though in totally different ways. I was juggling many, many things, and Tom was stuck in a bed, and then a wheelchair, nursing his broken ankles. The rest of May went by, and all of June, and I think our only interaction consisted of my posting on his Facebook, asking if he was doing ok. My best friend Meghan’s wedding was coming up and she offhandedly mentioned on the way to setting up the reception hall that she had sent Tom Cox a last-minute invite, since she felt so sorry about the circumstances which led him to miss our mutual friends’ wedding.

When she told me this, that silly heartbeat-skipping phenomenon occured again. I was terrified that my face was showing a reaction of joy and unbidden excitement. I tried to remain cool as a cucumber, even when Meghan glibly talked about how he was “an eligible young bachelor” and suggested him to my other closest friend as a possibility. Despite my stern self-reminders to play it cool and be realistic, I definitely checked the name tag table to see how close his table would be to mine the next day: two away, so I could totally spy on him. What was I thinking?! He wouldn’t remember me anyway.

Part II to come…stay tuned!

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Yesterday, though we are only 3 days away from the beginning of spring, a good 7-10 inches of snow fell and killed whatever spring-like thoughts we were thinking:

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It was, of course, wonderful to have Tom home so I can’t complain (too much). But really, we’ll all be really, really happy to bid winter goodbye ASAP.

Because everyone was off from work and school, we forgot about St. Paddy’s day until late in the morning. My dad dutifully fetched some Irish beers from the grocery store across the street. Tom enthusiastically put green dye in his first, Guinness, with the following result:

Green on top, brown on the bottom still...oh well

Green on top, brown on the bottom still…oh well

Later, he tried again with a Harp. Much better!

Kartause represent!!

Kartause represent!!

I made potato leek soup for dinner and we also had sausage and greens (um, kale, not cabbage!). Tommy’s finger is fractured so he couldn’t take up his fiddle and play Irish tunes.

In other news, watching clothes in the dryer is newly fascinating:

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Today also marks 24 weeks for the Coxlet, and he/she is really starting to become a little more active, and has moved up closer to my ribs, making the kicks less fun for me! I’ve been really bad about taking belly shots, but the ol’ belly is getting pretty round, so I’ll try to get one together and up here soon. 🙂

Lucy 11 month update and photo dump!

Just a long overdue update and slew of photos from the last couple weeks!

1. Lucy enjoyed her first taste of King’s Cake on Fat Tuesday (don’t laugh at it, it was a homemade gluten-free version, and it’s just complicated stuff to bake …)

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She was also smeared with her very first ashes the next day, and it was so cute to see on her chubby face. However, she rubbed them off before I could document them.

2. Lucy turned 11 months at the beginning of the week, and she is certainly changing every day. In the last two weeks, we’ve noticed how much she can really understand and respond to us. She is often able to point to the person when we ask where they are, although she has never been able to point to me when asked, “Where’s Mama?” Evidently, we are still one and the same. She will crawl to and grab specific toys when asked, and is definitely starting to understand the meaning of “no.”She’s not too happy about that one!

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Still one entity, she thinks...

Still one entity, she thinks…

3.

The wonders of a cardboard box. Lucy sporting a new dress that is way too big and way too cute.

The wonders of a cardboard box. Lucy sporting a new dress that is way too big and way too cute.

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The wonders of a paper bag!

The wonders of a paper bag!

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4. Lucy is starting to show more maternal instincts. I’m hoping that’s a good sign for the little one to come in less than four months! She has started actually playing with her baby doll, and even hugging/putting her face against its face. We didn’t teach her this at all… and it’s absolutely endearing! (Though I will have to teach her that her baby sibling’s pacifier is NOT magnetic like Baby Stella’s, and she can’t just pop it on and off at will…)

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I caught her taking care of her baby across the room.

5. Wednesday was a windy, but mild and pretty day here. We went to a local farm/park and met up with Alicia, Nathaniel, and Jonah, and another family with little friends!

Going for a tractor ride

Going for a tractor ride

Lucy screamed until I let her down on the floor of the wagon, and then she immediately laid down on it...

Lucy screamed until I let her down on the floor of the wagon, and then she immediately laid down on it…

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Tuckered out after a big day!

Tuckered out after a big day!

Jonah!

Jonah!

What a handsome, windblown boy!

What a handsome, windblown boy!

6. Family Time:

Hmmm...let me think...

Hmmm…let me think…

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The queen of all she surveys

The queen of all she surveys

Wearing a hand-knit sweater and hand-knit blanket-- a sweet gift from a family Tom used to tutor

Wearing a hand-knit sweater and hand-knit blanket– a sweet gift from a family Tom used to tutor

7. Happy one-day-late birthdays to both of our big brothers! Uncle Dan and Uncle Chris share a birthday on March 13th. It’s great to only remember one birthday for our eldest brothers. 🙂

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uncledan

 

A Seven Quick Takes Post with Conversion Diary.

 

 

 

Reflections on warmer times: The Honeymoon

In this, the eternal winter, which is finally starting to thaw (I think…I hope!), it is necessary for the soul to think about warmer, sunnier times. So I present to you some highlights of a time that was exceedingly sunny and exceedingly warm…our honeymoon in the Mediterranean, nearly two summers ago. I also realized I have never disclosed the pictures to the public, because they were on my dad’s camera mostly, so here we are!

Tom surprised me with the whole honeymoon. We went on a cruise that took us through the Mediterranean, stopping first in Venezia:

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Weary but happy travelers

Weary but happy travelers

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The green dome is Santa Lucia's

The green dome is Santa Lucia’s

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St. Mark's

St. Mark’s

A beautiful sunset gondola ride

A beautiful sunset gondola ride

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Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

Crusin'

Cruisin’

Our ship, the Holland America, with Tom for some perspective

Our ship, the Holland America, with Tom for some perspective

The next day we sailed to Dubrovnik, on the gorgeous Croatian coast:

The water was absolutely amazing. We snorkeled at the beach and saw so much underwater life!

The water was absolutely amazing. We snorkeled at the beach and saw so much underwater life!

View from the boat

View from the boat

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Ancient cloister in the city

Ancient cloister in the city

Next up were three Greek islands, the first of which, Corfu, was the most well-preserved ancient little village:

Old fort in the background, and more beautiful water

Old fort in the background, and more beautiful water

Winding streets

Winding streets

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Argostoli, mostly a beach town:

We pretty much hung out here all day...

We pretty much hung out here all day…

And we saw these enormous sea turtles near the dock on our way in!

And we saw these enormous sea turtles near the dock on our way in!

Last of the Greek islands was the famous Santorini:

Perched on the top of the caldera...shall we take donkeys or a cable car up??

Perched on the top of the caldera…shall we take donkeys or a cable car up??

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Catania, Sicily:

Ancient amphitheater, still used today

Ancient amphitheater, still used today

Inside a beautiful, but sadly defunct church. That red rope was the line we couldn't go past.

Inside a beautiful, but sadly defunct church. That red rope was the line we couldn’t go past.

Just a few of the tasty sights at an open air fish market we stumbled upon...

Just a few of the tasty sights at an open air fish market we stumbled upon…

Sea urchins!

Sea urchins!

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We also hired a car to drive us up Mt. Aetna...said car had no AC and the very windy roads were a little ick, but beautiful views awaited!

We also hired a car to drive us up Mt. Aetna…said car had no AC and the very windy roads were a little ick, but beautiful views awaited!

Craters!

Craters!

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Then Naples, where we spent a half day in Pompeii, but were too tired and sweaty to tour Naples at all…

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My intrepid explorer/Roman Empire expert

My intrepid explorer/Roman Empire expert

The next day, possibly our very favorite, was none other than Rome. Little did we imagine we’d be there just one year later!!

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We found a marker for the exact center of the courtyard...

We found a marker for the exact center of St. Peter’s

And then as Tom stood on it, a very eager group of tourists see it too, and began to swarm him

And then as Tom stood on it, a very eager group of tourists saw it too, and began to swarm him

Enjoying a leisurely lunch on a side street somewhere

Enjoying a leisurely lunch on a side street somewhere

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On the Bridge over the Tiber, with Castel St. Angelo in the background

On the Bridge over the Tiber, with Castel St. Angelo in the background

Our next stop was the port “close” to Florence, meaning two hours away… so we opted for a closer day trip to Pisa, which neither of us had visited.

Thar she be-- you're welcome for NOT taking any obnoxious pics

Thar she be- you’re welcome for not taking any obnoxiously posed pics

Killing time in a cafe. Tom takes stealthy photos of me in a heap of exhaustion (heat, early pregnancy symptoms...)

Killing time in a cafe. Tom takes stealthy photos of me in a heap of exhaustion (heat, early pregnancy symptoms…)

And our final destination was a day in Barcelona. We had a great tour of the city and then spent a few hours wandering around before taking a quick flight to Madrid overnight, and heading back home the next morning.

Gothic cathedral in the city

Gothic cathedral in the city

A view of Barca from the top of Mt. Juic

A view of Barca from the top of Mt. Juic

Inside Sagrada Familia, Guadi's masterpiece!!

Inside Sagrada Familia, Guadi’s masterpiece!!

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Oh and of course, there was a bit of this while onboard the ship:

Fancy, delicious dinners

Fancy, delicious dinners

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High tea on our little verandah looking over the ocean

High tea on our little verandah looking over the ocean

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And plenty of sunshine lying out on the many decks of the ship. It was such a lovely and easy way to travel to several countries at once and see so many beautiful sights, without having to pack and unpack more than once. We highly recommend cruising in that part of the world, though if you could ever do it in the fall or spring, you might have more energy to make it through the day trips without being scorched to death. But that heat sounds really, really great right about now…

PS- I chose the best pictures (in my opinion), but if you want to see them all, you can go to the photo site here.