Monday, March 30, 2009

Something Silly

Just thought I'd share a little silly something to start your week off with a smile. Thus, I give you Achilles sleeping with his little tongue sticking out:

Awwwww. Have a nice week, everyone!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Heather!

Me with my baby sister, 1985

My sister turns 24 years old today, which I can hardly believe. It seems like just yesterday that Heather was visiting me in Washington, D.C. for my 24th birthday! I wish I could be in Florida to return the favor and celebrate with her, but I'm thinking of her.

On my 24th Birthday, in Washington, D.C.


Thursday, March 26, 2009


I have decided that my favorite time of day to sit back and take in our view is dusk. Care to see?




I love the colors and the light. Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kristina & Frankie

Settle in, everyone, this post could be a long one! We're back from Kristina's wedding and it was wonderful, and I am fully armed with lots of pictures and details to share.

Our weekend travel really began Thursday night, when we dropped Achilles off at the kennel for the weekend. I was so anxious about it, because he has only been boarded once before, and also because I am apparently an over-protective doggy mom. The kennel does what it can to make psychos like me feel comfortable with it, though. For example, it's not a "kennel," it's "camp." And he's not a "boarder," he's an "overnight camper." He spends his days playing with other similar-sized "campers" in the playrooms, where they play doggy movies on large TVs. Every few hours he is given a rest break or walked. Then at night he has a "private bunk" for his sleeping pleasure. So, really, it sounds delightful, no? Yeah, I'm not totally convinced, but I appreciate their efforts.

We left for the airport early Friday morning to catch our 7:00 a.m. flight. The line at security was OUTRAGEOUS, but we made it through with enough time to even grab some breakfast. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale around 10:00, picked up our (light green) rental car, and started our fun!

I loved this little pull tab in the trunk of our rental car, which apparently opens the trunk from the inside so you can jump out and run away like the little man on the tab. Funny!

We made a quick stop at Target to pick up a couple things (man, I miss having a Target!), then had lunch at a little beach-side restaurant before checking in to our hotel. Unfortunately, the weather sucked. It was overcast and very windy, so my plans for some pre-wedding pool time fell through. We rested in the room for a bit, then Eric went for a run while I started to get ready for the wedding. I have to say, it took me forever to find a dress to wear to this wedding. But I finally found a beautiful blue dress, with lots of beading that I loved. I was feeling pretty great when we left for the wedding! (Remember this, I'll explain why in a bit.)

Eric on the balcony of our hotel

We took a cab to the wedding, which was only about a mile away from our hotel. It was held at a restaurant called The Addison. We arrived shortly after 5:00, and immediately saw an old college friend. I left Eric chatting with him, while I went off to find Kristina in the bridal suite. She had requested that I stop by, along with Shannon and Nicole, the other pseudo-bridesmaids. (Note: I say "pseudo-bridesmaids" because Kristina was blessed with the problem of having too many close girl friends and female cousins, so instead of having a full-blown bridal party, she and Frankie only had a best man and maid of honor. Had they gone for the big bridal party, Shannon, Nicole and I would have been included! So that's what that means.)

Kristina was beautiful! Her dress was gorgeous, her bouquet was stunning, she was an all-around lovely bride. I stayed with her until about five minutes before the ceremony began then went down to sit with Eric in the congregation.

Waiting for the ceremony to begin

The ceremony was held in a courtyard of the restaurant, with banyan trees on either side and a gorgeous floral arch for the bride and groom to stand under. Thankfully, despite the fact that it had rained for days leading up to the wedding, the sky cleared for the ceremony and it was perfect. It was a beautiful ceremony! Their vows were nearly identical to the vows Eric and I said to each other (although they are very traditional, so I'm sure this is not rare), and I got very teary-eyed during that part. Also, remember that "The Art of a Good Marriage" poem I included in my last post? They had the officiant read that during the ceremony! What are the odds?

Here comes the bride!

Isn't the skirt of her dress gorgeous?

Exchanging vows under the beautiful arch

First kiss!

Introducing the new Mr. and Mrs.!

After the ceremony, Kristina and Frankie went off for pictures with their families, and later with friends/pseudo-bridesmaids (that's me!). In the meantime, the guests moved to the lower level of the courtyard for the cocktail hour, which was wonderful. There was a gorgeous fountain in the center of the courtyard, and pink and green paper lanterns hung in the trees. There was a live guitarist, delicious hors d'oeuvres, and of course, an open bar! We had a great time sipping champagne and catching up with friends. Eric even saw a girl he had in his flag football class in college! Eventually, Kristina and Frankie joined the party and we all swarmed them for pictures.

At the cocktail hour

General shot of the cocktail hour merriment

Eric with the blushing bride

Old college roomies!

Soon it was time to move in to the reception. Let me just say - the table setups were stunning. The centerpieces were amazing! They were tall branch/tree things with flowers scattered throughout the branches. Just gorgeous. At each place setting there was a menu for the dinner, which included a salad, and choice of filet mignon (my choice!), salmon, or chicken. They also had a favor for each guest, which was a pair of chocolate Gators! I loved that. Another detail that I loved was our place card, because this was the first wedding Eric and I have attended together since our own, so it was our first time being seated as "Mr. & Mrs. Eric W." Hooray!


Menu/place setting

Chocolate Gator favors

Showing off our "Mr. & Mrs." place card

The parents and bridal party were introduced, then Frankie and Kristina made their grand entrance and went into their first dance. They then opened up the dance floor for another slow song for all the couples to dance to, before picking up the tempo a bit!

First dance

Quick pic with Kristina

They then had everyone be seated for toasts and dinner. The toasts were great, and the food was excellent too! While we finished up dinner, Kristina did her dance with her dad, which was very sweet. Her mom cried through the whole thing! Then Frankie danced with his mom.

At our table

The newlyweds at their sweetheart table

The other main events of the reception were the cake cutting, which was so sweet, and the bouquet and garter tosses. The garter removal was awesome - the DJ had Frankie do a little dance up to Kristina before going in for the goods, and it was hilarious!

The cake table

Cutting the cake

Preparing for the garter removal!

Go, Frankie!

So funny.

Preparing to toss the garter
(Eric took this one especially because there is a similar picture of him looking down at my garter at our wedding before tossing it, and he loves that picture! He did a great job recreating it for Frankie.)

From there, the reception continued with dancing, drinks, and lots of fun for the rest of the evening. There was also a cheese and fruit table if the guests were looking for a healthy snack, and a dessert table (in addition to the wedding cake, of course) that included little shot glass desserts, miniature Key Lime pies, miniature peanut butter pies (my favorite), and the largest chocolate covered strawberries I'd ever seen. Delicious!

On the dance floor


Eric dancing (and laughing) with the bride

Recreating the picture below, which was taken on Eric's birthday in 2001. It's one of his faves from college!
Another thing that's awesome about this picture: those shirts Kristina and I are wearing are basically the only shirts we ever wore out for the first two years of college. We were awfully stylish.

With college friends Jordan and Sleimen

The last picture above brings me back to that point about how good I felt about my attire for the evening. Take a nice look at my friend Jordan. Does her dress look familiar? Yes, it's true. All my agonizing over what to wear resulted in me wearing the same thing as my friend. Ironically, we both had other dresses all picked out, but decided at the last minute to wear this one because we were afraid someone else would be wearing our other option. Nice. But, we embraced it, and laughed it off. We decided our story was that Kristina had asked us to be bridesmaids and made us buy that dress, but then changed her mind about it at the last minute and didn't tell us we could wear something different. Ha! Blame it on the bride, I say.

Two ladies with impeccable taste

We left the reception towards the end and caught a ride back to the hotel with Kristina's friend Shannon and her boyfriend. We spent some time sitting on our balcony and looking at pictures, before crashing in our Sleep Number bed (yay!).

Saturday morning we were desperately hoping for more beach time, and it was actually sunny when we got up around 9:00. But, we could see clouds moving in so we decided to just go for a walk along the beach right away instead of hoping to lay out later. It was a good plan, because after walking for about an hour, we got caught in a downpour on our way home and the rain continued off and on for the rest of the day.

Other than our families, of course, this is what I miss about Florida.

Standing in the ocean

After the beach, we went to get some lunch then went back to the hotel to get ready for the Post-Wedding Brunch Kristina's family was hosting at their house. It was amazing! They had a drinks served by a bartender, and more food than I ever would have expected. They even roasted a whole pig! (WARNING: If this thought grosses you out, I advise you to skip the pictures below.) We had a great time talking with Kristina and Frankie some more, before we had to leave for the airport.

The main food table

The pig!!!!!

The dessert table...this was BEFORE everything was even put out!

The newlyweds, and the old married couple!

Our flight home was perfectly pleasant, and we were even treated to a spectacular sunset out the window, followed by a night-time view of NYC before we landed. I love flying in the evenings! We got back into the city around 9:45p.m., grabbed a cab back to our apartment, and spent the evening relaxing and eating sushi. Mmm.

Sunday morning we were finally able to pick Achilles up from camp! He seemed no worse for the wear, other than being very, very tired. He put on quite a display when we first saw him (see video below), then we walked him home through Central Park, which he always enjoys. As soon as we got home he passed out and slept all day. He had a busy weekend, too!

VIDEO: Achilles' response when we picked him up from "camp." Think he was excited?

As you can see, he was pretty pumped. He couldn't even calm himself for a serene "Imagine" picture. Maybe he's singing?

And that was our trip! It was a wonderful trip, a beautiful wedding, and a great celebration. Congratulations, Kristina and Frankie! Thank you for everything, and best wishes for your life together. Hope you're enjoying Peru!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Never Too Old to Hold Hands

Across the years I will walk with you -
in deep green forests; on shores of sand:

and when our time on earth is through,

in heaven, too, you will have my hand.
"The Promise," by Robert Sexton

Eric and I are leaving first thing tomorrow morning for Kristina's wedding. You know by my post about my own bridal shower and bachelorette party that this wedding has been stirring up memories of my own. Not only that, it has inspired me to reflect on marriage a bit.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I love being married to Eric. When we got married, we were already living together, sharing many expenses and the housework, and had been dating for years. We felt like everything was perfect, and I did not think much would change after we exchanged vows. But really, something did change. I can't even explain what it was, but since our wedding, our relationship has been better than ever. Things just feel different. It's amazing, and it is a feeling that I pray will last for the rest of our life together.

I came across this writing about marriage the other day, and it really appealed to me:
The Art of a Good Marriage
by Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
I know I'm still new to the whole marriage thing. I know I still have a lot to learn. Things have been nothing but smooth sailing for us, really, since our wedding. I know that we will face tough times someday. I'm sure there will be times when we want to give up. But I believe that, as the poem above describes, happiness in a marriage doesn't just happen. And I believe that both Eric and I want the same future together, and are willing to work on it. I once read somewhere that marriage isn't a 50-50% partnership. Rather, each partner must give 100%, because there will be times when one person can't give their full share. If things are 50-50, then when one person falls short, the relationship will be lacking. If things are 100-100, then even when one person struggles, the other makes up the difference and pulls their partner through. I love that way of looking at it, and I think we're a 100-100 marriage thus far!

When I think of true, till-death-do-us-part love, I always think of my grandparents. Both sets of my grandparents were married over 50 years, until death parted them. That is something that is becoming increasingly rare these days, and something to be admired. I was there for my maternal grandmother's last days before she passed away, and I will never forget my grandfather during that time. He almost never left her side, but I remember one time that he did. I was sitting with her and playing with her hair, which was short and white as it was growing back after chemotherapy. She was always beautiful, but this new hair was a far cry from the perfectly-styled blonde she had always been. As I sat with her, my grandfather came back into the room and said something along the lines of, "There's my sweetheart. Isn't she beautiful?" His love for her just filled the whole house. You could feel it. His words and his undying devotion to his wife left such an impression on me. It's what I strive for in my own marriage. Not only do I want that for myself, but I also want to be that example for my children and grandchildren someday.

On a much lighter note, so far our marriage has just been fun. Eric and I really have a great time together. Sure, we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to do lots of fun things thanks to our city of residence, and we try to take advantage of that. But I don't think our relationship would be any less fun no matter where we lived. I enjoy my time with him just as much at a Broadway show or fancy dinner as I do with pizza on the couch while we watch American Idol. This line of thought reminds me of a response to a question I once read on a questionnaire I was reviewing. I saved the response because I just loved it. Of course I didn't save any identifying info about the person who filled it out, but if memory serves it was an elderly gentleman. I loved what he said about his wife, and hope that in 50 years Eric will be writing the same thing about me on some questionnaire:

Isn't that sweet?

I wish Kristina and Frankie all the best in their marriage. May they always hold hands, have fun, and be the right partner for each other. And to my own husband - thank you, Eric, for getting our marriage off to such a wonderful start. I'm looking forward to many, many more years of being your wife, and if I can help it, we will never think we're too old to hold hands.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I [Shamrock] NY!

How was everyone's St. Patrick's Day? I had a very nice day, myself! I would definitely say I enjoyed my first St. Patrick's Day in New York City.

My day started with a walk out to the East Side to watch some of the St. Patrick's Day parade. Before the parade, I did a little research just to find out the parade route but learned a lot about the parade itself in the meantime. Apparently, the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade is a very long-standing tradition. It has taken place every year since 1762! It has always been a "true marchers'" Parade, meaning that there are no floats or vehicles. Instead, it is made up entirely of 150,00-250,000 bands, pipers, and marchers. The parade is led by a unit of soldiers ("The Irish Infantry" 69th Regiment), and followed by the various Irish societies of the city, the 32 Irish county societies, and various schools, colleges, Emerald societies, Irish-language and nationalist societies. The parade begins at 44th Street, and then they march up Fifth Avenue past St. Patrick's Cathedral (where the Archbishop of New York reviews it from the steps), ending up at the American Irish Historical Society at 86th Street. Interesting!

Anyway, the parade was very fun. I will say that I was amazed at how many people were already drunk at 11:00 in the morning. I guess that's the true Irish spirit? People were all decked out in their green, waving Irish flags, and cheering like mad. You'll be SHOCKED to hear that it was very crowded. Ha! Eric took a long lunch and met up with me to watch a little of it, and we walked for nearly 10 blocks before we could even find a place to get in to see the parade. We finally made our way in but were still very far back for a bit, until we moved further up the block. Then we were finally able to see something!

The parade had lots of bands and bagpipers, which I love. There were also LOTS of policemen and firefighters from all over the NYC area. (We were standing next to a couple of elderly women who just loved hollering out at the "cutie patootie" firemen as they passed!) I tried to watch for the county society for County Mayo, which is where my Irish ancestors are from, but didn't see it. I may have missed it before we arrived, or may have left too early. Eric stayed with me for a while, and after he left I stayed another hour. Here are a few pics from the parade:

Me at the parade

One of the MANY pipe bands

Flags being carried by firemen

Festive horse!

Irish dancers

He wasn't part of the parade, but I loved this little festive baby! Awwww.
(Yes, I took a picture of a random man and his baby on the street. No, I am not embarrassed.)

After I left the parade I walked downtown a little and did some (unsuccessful) shopping, then headed home and waited for Eric to get off work. When he was done, we wandered around our neighborhood a bit, looking for a place to eat. Naturally, all the Irish pubs had lines out the door, so we ended up at our neighborhood saloon, that did have a St. Patrick's Day menu. Eric had shepherd's pie and I had fish and chips, with NY cheesecake for dessert. It hit the spot! Then we made our way home, stopping to take some pictures of the Empire State Building, which was lit with green lights in honor of the day!

Out to dinner

Eric and the Empire State Building (the green lights to the right of him), taken from in front of our building

Taken from our living room

So that was our St. Patrick's Day! Hope you all enjoyed your day, and your week is going well. For us, only two more days until we go to Florida for Kristina's wedding!