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I was in a scholarship pageant–not a big-haired, swim-suit clad, beauty pageant–but a scholarship pageant in high school. Our opening dance number was to that song, and it was indeed, 1999. Prince never ceases to amuse me. By the way, I have no clue what’s going on in that video, but that was the only place I could find the 1999 song.

Anyhow, partying like it was 1999 is precisely what David and I did from Thursday of last week until Sunday night. Thursday was, of course, Valentine’s Day, and Sunday was our one-year anniversary, so we had plenty to celebrate.

On Valentine’s Day, my mom’s birthday, we exchanged cards in the AM over homemade blueberry muffins. Mmm! I got really dressed up and surprised David at work for lunch, and little did I know he had to quickly hide the flowers on his desk that he planned to give to me that night. Oops. I didn’t see anything, though, so it worked out.

That evening, we ordered take-out Chinese (delicious) for dinner for a treat. Afterward, David made Mexican hot chocolate from scratch–lots of spices and such. It turned out pretty good. We then made “decadent chocolate truffles” (aka Oreo balls) made from crushed up Oreos mixed with cream cheese, rolled into balls and dipped into chocolate. Amazing. We got to savor those treats with a fire in the fireplace in the background. So fun!

For our anniversary, we went to NYC as noted in a previous post, but we wanted to celebrate on the actual day of our anniversary too. So we went to dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in downtown Pittsburgh. Unbelievable steak, let me tell you. They actually served the steak on a 500F plate so that the meat was hot from the first bite to the last. A-mazing. For the first time ever, I didn’t have any room for dessert, and for those of you who know me well, I can always make room. Not Sunday night, though. We enjoyed leftovers from dinner on Monday, not quite as good reheated, but still tasty.

We came back to the apartment and watched our wedding video from the rehearsal all the way through the ceremony. It was so neat to relive that day–that perfect day. To all of you who read this who played a part in our wedding–whether as a wedding party member, a guest, a vendor, etc, thank you so, so much. You made that day one of the best days of our lives and the perfect way to kick off our married life together. Fantastic.

After the video, we read back through a journal that we kept during the honeymoon. Once again, incredible to relive our fun times in Stowe, Vermont. I so wish that we could go back to the Green Mountain Inn and go cross country skiing through the three feet of snow that Stowe got just days before we arrived. Spectacular memories.

Now we’re starting into our second year of marriage, and we’re more in love now than we were last year. It’s kind of crazy how that happens, but we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Just wanted to take a second and share that David and I have been married a year as of today. We are beyond excited! This time last year, I was still memorizing my vows and getting my hair fixed for our afternoon wedding.

This will be a marvelous day.

As David very well knows, I have an issue blocking out other people’s conversations around me. I just pick up some random sentence and get intrigued. I call it my brain’s “selective eavesdropping” because it doesn’t happen all the time, but on random occasions.

It happened today. This morning, actually.

I was at the gym, and at the end of my workout, I hopped on an open treadmill for a brief run. There were two people on treadmills to my left, a man and a woman, having a conversation in which I wish I had had the guts to participate. It was a sad talk, really. From what I gathered, the man’s daughter was having issues with guys. Ok, what girl hasn’t had issues with guys, right? That wasn’t the sad part, though.

I’m not sure how old his daughter was, but from the context, I would guess in her mid to late 20s. I had missed the beginning of the conversation detailing what I would guess to be a list of the types of guys she’d dated and what didn’t work with each one.

When I joined in (listening of course), the man was lamenting the fact that his daughter is still single. “Do you think she’s a diva or something?” the man asked. The woman responded, “No, she’s not a diva, she’s just got the wrong sort of expectations as far as men go.”

I thought to myself wrong sort of expectations? Is she over-demanding? High-maintenance? Too clingy? Hmm…I wonder…

Nope. Turns out she was looking for chivalry. And today that constitutes the “wrong sort of expectations”? Yikes.

The woman continued, “What your daughter wants is one of you. A man like you. Men like you don’t exist anymore. This young generation is used to women striving to be equal with men in the workplace and just in society as a whole. Women are encouraged to be independent. You know, the ‘You don’t need a man to take care of you’ mentality. Your daughter can’t expect a man to care for her and treat her like a queen while at the same time treat her as though she were his equal.”

I was dumbfounded. Really? A woman can’t be treated like a lady and pursue her own dreams like everyone else? Interesting.

“Really?” the man inquired.

“Oh yeah. I mean, she’ll have to change her expectations to have a shot at marriage…”

I think what she meant here was “lower her standards.” But even so, she’d have to do that just to have a shot at marriage? Whoa. No wonder the divorce rate is so high…seems like some have lost faith in the concept of married for life. Now it’s more like a lottery or something. Maybe you’ll get all the right numbers and win society’s “big prize” (a perfect mate for life in a flawless marriage), or maybe you’ll keep buying new tickets…dissatisfied with the result of the most recent one you purchased.

Newsflash: the secret to having the same spouse for life is not throwing in the towel–ever. Always work through problems. My parents taught me that true, lasting love is work. I never really understood them when I was dating David–even when we got engaged. I was just so lovestruck and giddy. Love was easy.

Then we got married. No, it all didn’t go downhill. It’s been amazing, honestly. But we’ve had to work at our relationship in this past year of marriage. When two imperfect people come together, what’s the result? An imperfect marriage. Once you get to that point and understand that marriage isn’t going to be all sunny days, and determine that you’re willing to work at it to make it last, you can do it. It’s a commitment that’s sometimes rushed into without thought. Be cautious. But once you do make that commitment, stick with it.

The woman went on, “That’s why I thought setting her up with an older man, a more traditional man, would be a good move. He’d treat her the way a lady is supposed to be treated. She won’t find that in a man her age.”

That’s where I wanted to jump in. “Well, I’ve found it. I’ve found a fantastic man that lets me be the driven, independent, strong woman that God made me to be while still treating me like a lady and making me feel special. He opens jars, carries my suitcase, surprises me with cards and flowers, scrapes the ice off my car and leads our family in so many ways–spiritually, relationally, financially–while still encouraging me to pursue my dreams and believing in my abilities as a woman.

It is possible. Oh if only I could have coffee with that man’s daughter. I’d look her in the eyes and tell her to never lower her standards. I’d tell her that no man is worth lowering your standards for…any such man doesn’t deserve her. I’d tell her that marriage for a lifetime is the most amazing commitment that a person can make and that it is possible to do. It’s just a matter of making divor** an off-limits word. We have. It never comes up, ever. It’s a matter of committing your marriage to God and relying on his strength and guidance to keep it together.

It’s a matter of never, ever, giving up. Why? Because your spouse is worth it. You fought to get them, right? Now fight to keep them.

Just before our run this past Sunday. It was (with the wind chill) subzero, snowing, with 40+ mph winds. We were insane.

So what do you think? Ninjas or robbers?

Ninjas or Robbers

What a wonderful trip David and I had. Thanks so much for your prayers for our safety as we traveled to NYC recently for an early wedding anniversary celebration. We were only in the city for a total of 45 hours, so it was definitely a whirlwind of a couple of days, but we wouldn’t trade our time for anything!

Friday
We left our apartment and were greeted by a -2F wind chill. It should be illegal to be that cold. That said, though, it was -14F outside this morning (2/11). My blood isn’t thick enough for this! Whew.

Anyhow, we stopped by Panera to get some super hot drinks, and they did the trick. At the airport, the security guard at the metal detector gave me a hard time. I went to walk through the detector, and the guard stopped me to insist that I take off my shoes. They were off. He insisted another time, so I reached to take off my socks, then he just laughed. “I give everyone from South Carolina a hard time!” He had seen my ID. It’s funny now, but then, I was flustered to say the least.

We flew to NYC via JetBlue and highly recommend it. A one-way ticket to NYC was only $49, and JetBlue not only has the most leg room in coach of any other airline, but each passenger has a personal TV with 36 channels to watch. How fun! I mainly watched channel 13 – the live map showing where the plane was, how fast we were going, etc. So I like maps, ok?

Once in JFK, we took a death shuttle–I mean a shuttle–into the city. What a crazy ride! I had ridden in taxis before, but I really didn’t think the driver of our 10-passenger van would drive the same way. He did. Possibly even more erratic. It was an exciting introduction to the city for David, though.

We got to our hotel, the Marriott Marquis (in Times Square) early afternoon, and after dropping off our bags, we headed out on a foot tour of the Times Square area. After checking out the largest Toys R Us I’d ever seen (it had a Ferris wheel inside), M&M world, the Hershey store, a NYC gift shop and after buying tickets to “Top of the Rock” (Rockefeller Center), we got ready for our evening.

First up, dinner at City Lobster & Crab Company. It was restaurant week in NYC, so a lot of the pricey restaurants put together their own fixed-price menus. After tantalizing our senses with delicious wine, lobster bisque and shrimp ravioli, David–clad in a fantastic lobster bib–started in on a 1.25# Maine lobster with mussels and scallops. I enjoyed my fair share of jumbo lump crab cakes, and we finished off the meal with a slice of chocolate decadence.

You know how the movies show people whistling to hail a taxi? Well, it doesn’t really work that way unless you’re on a main street or something. Even then, you have to wave like mad or stand in the road to get them to pull over. We were freezing, so after several failed attempts to get a taxi, we opted to book it on foot to the Nederlander Theater to see RENT.

RENT is actually leaving Broadway in June, so if you’ve wanted to see it in NYC, the time is now! You know you’re in a classy Broadway show when a drunk audience member and his date are thrown out at the beginning of the show. Ha. The music in RENT was really great, but the content was a little tough for us. A lot of people love it, though; it’s been running for 12 years!

The show ended around 11:15pm, and we had to be back to the Rockefeller Center by 11:30pm to be able to go out on the roof and see the city. Failed to get a cab again, so we walked really briskly. Keep in mind that we’re dressed up at this point, so I was booking it in knee-high stiletto boots. Not smart. I almost fell once, but David kept me off the ground. Whew. We finally got to the Rockefeller Center and took the glass-topped elevator (very weird to fly up 67 floors and be able to see the elevator shaft and cables above) to the top of the building. The view was breathtaking–as was the wind. We snapped several photos before heading back down and successfully getting a cab. Hallelujah!

Saturday
Tourist day. We got started at 9:00am by taking the subway down to lower Manhattan. We grabbed a quick breakfast and coffee at one of the 147 Starbucks locations in Manhattan. Yes, 147 locations. For a Starbucks lover like myself, it was fantastic!

We walked down to the former site of the World Trade towers (Ground Zero), and it was pretty intense. The last time I was in NYC was two months before the 9/11 attacks, and I was in the top of one of the towers looking out over the city. We went into the Tribute Center (temporary memorial and museum until the actual memorial is constructed) and signed up for a tour. In the time before our tour, we ran down to Wall Street to see the NYSE, the bull and the “Wall Street” sign, of course.

Our noon tour was really sobering. Each of the tour guides that volunteers at the Tribute Center had some sort of personal experience with the events of 9/11. Our particular tour guide worked on the 82nd floor of the north tower–the first to be hit. The plane hit on the 92nd floor, and our tour guide immediately left his office to head down and got out four minutes before the building collapsed. He pleaded with coworkers to leave with him when he went to leave his office, but several hesitated and didn’t make it. Unreal. The tour took us around the outside of Ground Zero and into several of the neighboring buildings. The tour only cost $10 and was incredible. The events of 9/11 are part of our history; it’s so vivid in our memory. If you get the chance to go to NYC, be sure to take a tour. It makes everything that much more real.

After the tour, we walked through the gallery/museum. Also an intense experience. Hundreds of “missing persons” posters collected from around the city were on the walls along with quotes from phone calls made from the airplanes to family members…and phone calls from those trapped in the towers. I’m so glad we went.

We headed from there to Battery Park to take the Staten Island ferry across the river so that we could get a better view of the Statue of Liberty. It was a relaxing ride, and I actually napped on the way back. We headed back to the subway and rode up to Central Park with intentions of ice skating at Wollman Rink (outdoor). We quickly changed our minds because of the cold, but we still walked through the park for a little while. To warm up, we got hot dogs from a street vendor–delicious!

By this point, it was around 6:15pm. We headed back to the hotel and passed The Lion King‘s theater on the way (it’s right by the hotel). On a whim, David said, “Let’s see if we can get tickets for tonight’s show!” Keep in mind, this is less than two hours before the show. I was sort of convinced that they wouldn’t have any tickets available that were worth buying. Boy was I wrong. We got fourth-row, center section tickets to a sold out show! Apparently someone didn’t pick up their tickets or something. Incredible!

In the little bit of time we had left before the doors opened, we ran to Tuscany Cafe for some Manhattan slice pizza. Absolutely delicious! And gigantic. I’m a gal who can eat four slices of pizza easily, but I could only down one that night. It was as big as my head. Whew.

The Lion King was phenomenal. I had seen it when I was 16, but I couldn’t remember all the details. David and I really enjoyed it–from the music, to the costumes, to the acting…extraordinary! So moving. It ended around 11:30pm, and we headed up to The View restaurant at the top of our hotel for dessert and drinks. The dessert buffet was to die for, and the view over the city was amazing. The restaurant rotated a full 360 degrees so that if you stayed an hour, you’d see the whole city. We did just that.

Sunday
We only had until 11:00am this day before our shuttle picked us up to whisk us back to the airport, so we opted to go on another walking tour. This time, we headed up 5th avenue. Even though most of the stores were closed (i.e. Tiffany’s, D&G, Armani, etc), it was fun to window shop a bit. We grabbed some brunch before heading back to the hotel to catch our shuttle.

All in all, we had a fantastic time. It was great to spend so much uninterrupted time together, and it was really neat to experience NYC with David who had never been before. Can’t wait for the next trip!

I’ve got a nice long NYC entry in the works…sorry for the long delay. I’m hoping to have it up by the weekend! Keep checking back…