Monday, September 27, 2010

March 1 / 2, 2006: Our first real date

Our first official date was the evening of March 1, 2006, and it was to celebrate my new job at Saint Mary Cathedral!  Mark and I had spent time together before then, but this was our first official, "Let's go out on a formal date," date.

We first went to my favorite place to catch live music in Austin, the Elephant Room.  It's your perfect jazz club -- down in a basement, dark and great music.  I haven't been here in a while, actually.  I'm sensing a revisit sometime in the near future ...

Next, Mark suggested getting donuts at his favorite place near campus, Ken's Donuts.  Now, what's funny about this is that while he had suggested it, I actually didn't want any, but if he wanted one, sure, I'd go with him to get one.  I didn't think this would be a big deal until we showed up and he looked at me when it was time to order.  When I mentioned that I was just along for the ride and wasn't interested in eating any donuts, he couldn't believe it and didn't understand why we'd come in the first place.  I kept laughing and said that I didn't mind going and that I just wanted to be with him, so it didn't matter.  He still gives me a hard time about that to this day.

Lastly, we headed across the street to Spider House Cafe to drink some coffee and chat some in a quieter environment than the jazz club had provided.  This was the place where we also later took some of our engagement photos because of the sentimental value; if you received our wedding save the date cards, the picture on that (because I'm sure you all remember which photo it was, ha!), that was at Spider House.

 Engagement photo at Spider House Cafe, November 2008

We also call this our first official date because it's the night we had our first kiss ... awwww, I know.  It was actually Ash Wednesday that day, March 1, so unbeknownst to me, Mark wouldn't kiss me until after midnight because Ash Wednesday is supposed to be a somber day of self denial.  Ha, so after midnight, officially March 2 when it was no longer Ash Wednesday, he kissed me.

And we lived happily ever after. :)

On our first dating anniversary, we recreated this date, which was a lot of fun!  We visited each place and relived that first fateful evening.  I'm sure it won't be the last time we will have done that.

Yay for falling in love!

August 2009, Touring the Hill Country wineries

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Hey, honey, I want to marry you .... but let's purchase divorce insurance, just in case."

Wow, divorce insurance ... really?  A North Carolina-based insurance company offers a payout if your marriage ends in divorce.  Why would you even get married?  The money?  Those are marriages heading straight for doom.  In the back of their minds, the couple will always have the divorce insurance payout in their back pockets.  What reason do you have for confidence in your marriage, confidence to express your concerns and work through problems, confidence your spouse will stay with you "through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, until death do you part?"  None.  Boo.  Boo to you, insurance company, for being evil enablers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A top 10 list of top 10 lists

Some food for thought on a Monday morning.  In no particular order ...
  1. Top 10 marriage mistakes
  2. Top 10 marriage myths
  3. Top 10 [pieces of] marriage advice
  4. Top 10 marriage books to read in 2010
  5. Top 10 Bible studies on love and marriage
  6. Top 10 tips for a happy marriage
  7. Top 10 ways to destroy a marriage
  8. 10 awesome gifts for married couples
  9. The top 10 marriage blogs of 2009
  10. Top 10 reasons to communicate
Some of my favorites ...
  • 1. An overnight stay for the two of you or a Marriage Retreat.
    I love this.  This out-of-the-box idea came to me through Twitter, and it was my favorite.  In the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in consumerism and focusing on gifts.  While great gifts can be an asset to marriage (as I hope I’ve demonstrated above), why not surprise your spouse with plans to get away from the responsibilities of home for an evening away?  For a deeper experience, I’d highly recommend you try a marriage retreat.
    (10 awesome gifts for married couples)
  • 7. Quit dating. Saying "I do" doesn't mean that you should stop dating your spouse. You still need time together – time away from home, work, the kids and other responsibilities. My husband and I try to have a bi-weekly date night, and a once or twice-a-year weekend away without the kids. Even though we see each other every day, we need time to just concentrate on each other.
    (Top 10 ways to destroy a marriage)
  • 2. Grace
        * Say this again and again. “I’m not perfect and my spouse isn’t perfect.”
        * If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re bound for so much disappointment. I’m not saying that we should expect mediocre marriages, but we need to be realistic. This is another way of accentuating the importance of Grace.
    (Top 10 [pieces of] marriage advice)
  • 1. Lack of Respect
    Don't badmouth your spouse to your friends or associates. Spouses need to be thanked. They need to know they are appreciated.
    (Top 10 marriage mistakes)
 Destin trip, June 2008

Monday, September 13, 2010

Europe recap

As I sit on my lunch break eating a New York Italian sandwich from Thundercloud, I reminisce about our recent European vacation and can taste the salami and ham sandwiches we ate in Florence and Rome -- Thundercloud doesn't exactly measure up.  All I need is a glass of white wine and some olives and cheeses to complete my lunch.  Don't think I'll find any of that in the church office!

Yes, it's taken me a bit to post a recap, but I've slowly been getting back into my routine since our return and feel I'm (almost!) there.

Where do I begin?!  Europe was just fabulous!  Food?  Good.  People?  Friendly (mostly).  Weather?  Superb.  Didn't even rain in London, really! 

We started out in Rome, which provided the highlight of the trip for me: we were 20 feet away from the pope!  We were worried that we wouldn't be able to see him at all since he was supposed to be staying at his summer home, Castel Gondolfo, 30 minutes outside of Rome.  Thankfully for us, we'd booked a tour for the Papal Audience, and since we'd done this, the tour took us on a bus to the summer home where Mark and I were probably in the last 100 people of about 400 who got into the small courtyard of the home to see the pope for his Wednesday audience.  We debated even booking the tour since you don't need tickets to go to a papal audience, but with tickets, you supposedly can sit closer so we went with it, and I'm so glad we did!  We wouldn't have had another way to get out to the summer home or as close as we did without having done so.

Mark and I as we waited (in the stifling heat) in the courtyard for Pope Benedict XVI, August 2010

Many folks were left outside the home; you had to be pretty fierce to get in.  There were quite a few feisty little Italian ladies who were determined to make it in there!  Being in front of them, they pushed Mark and I right on through, ha.

Pope Benedict XVI, August 2010

Unfortunately, he didn't give his message in English, so we have no idea what he said, but we're sure it was very holy. ;-)  We do know that he gave us all a blessing and that it extended to our families at home, so that was very special.  Therefore, family, considered yourselves personally blessed by the pope!

The next stop was Florence, which was mine and Mark's favorite city we visited.  It was a cinch cooler than Rome (though not by much) and was our ticket to wine country!  We toured the wine country two different days -- one visit to Chianti and another visit to Montalcino and Montepulciano.  We made it home with seven bottles of wine (one 5L), all intact!  

Chianti region, Italy; August 2010

We enjoyed the many squares in the city we could just sit in and people watch.  One night we made ourselves a picnic dinner and played "Pick out the Americans."  So many interesting people!  Thankfully, it wasn't a problem we spoke little to no Italian.  The Italians were the nicest of everyone on our trip!

Next stop was Paris.  Since I'd been before and seen all the major sites and Mark didn't really care to sight-see too much, Paris was where we tried to catch up on some sleep!  We slept in the two days we were there, which was heavenly.  One thing I did want to make sure to do was to go up the Eiffel Tower at night since that was supposed to be the best time to see the city, and, boy, it was.  When I'd gone up before in the daytime, all you see is a bunch of concrete, aka the city of Paris.  Nighttime, though, was just beautiful!  The City of Lights, indeed.

 View of the Seine River, Paris, September 2010

Paris was also where it started to get much cooler, most especially at night.  A welcome change!

Atop the Eiffel Tower, September 2010

Classic Eiffel Tower photo, September 2010

Last stop was London, where the weather was significantly cooler.  We toured Bath, Salisbury and Stonehenge one day while there.  We loved visiting Bath as it was modeled after many of the little Italian cities we'd just visited!  London was clean, and it was great speaking English again.

Stonehenge, September 2010

At Wicked!  The Musical, September 2010

While our trip was amazing and memories that we'll forever treasure, it was good to come back to Texas, too!  Two weeks, I've found, is a good amount of time to be away from home, as I'm usually ready to come back to the place I fondly call home.

But, if you know me at all, you'll know I was already planning our next trip abroad mid-vacation!  Mark had to remind me to just enjoy where we were.  The planner in me. :)

I feel so blessed that we had the opportunity to travel to Europe and I know we'll be rehashing the precious memories for the rest of our marriage.  God is good!

* To view all of our photos, visit here.

Paris, September 2010
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