Pregnancy is Crazy: Part Two

Here is the link to Part One if you missed it yesterday.  I’m blogging my thoughts on pregnancy this week.  A few more things about this experience that I want to remember…

I want to remember how pregnancy has changed my body image and taught me so much about self-sacrifice and humility.  Some days I feel cute or even beautiful with my curves, thicker hair, perpetually rosy cheeks.  Other days I feel huge and clumsy.  I’ve always thought of other pregnant women as beautiful, so I’m trying to see myself in that same light.  We are often our own harshest critics, aren’t we?  The comments can be disconcerting, too.  Last week someone told me I was going to have a big baby.  Rude.  Today, someone told me I’m only showing in my stomach.  Huh.  Thanks.  These contradictory comments happen all the time.  For the record, Bryan has told me often how beautiful I am to him, and that helps.  My body is changing rapidly, and it’s out of my control.  This is something that I must accept–even embrace–as I focus on my baby’s well being.  My priorities have shifted, and that’s a good thing.

I want to remember the pure, unadulterated joy of family and friends when we shared our news and as the pregnancy  progresses.  Nothing quite compares to being able to tell your parents that they are going to become grandparents and your siblings that they will become aunts and uncles for the first time.  Bryan and I both got to experience this.  Our families mean the world to us.  They have done so much for us and supported us so well in a million different ways.  I will never forget how deeply satisfying it was to share this good news with them and see their smiles and happy tears.  Now we watch their faces light up as they witness my growing belly and help us prepare for his arrival.  🙂  What a blessing.

I want to remember my sheer delight in preparing.  Now that we’re officially moved into our new house and getting settled, I am able to do something that I’ve been waiting to do since about September.  I am nesting!  I will do a future post about Baby’s nursery, but suffice it to say I am loving the process of planning it out and selecting his things.  We have some showers coming up in February, and I’m really looking forward to that.

I want to remember daydreaming about holding him and imagining countless details about the person he will be.  I often wonder what he will look like.  This little boy:IMG_0946Kara2and this little girl:eyesgrew up and fell in love.

What kind of tiny human will the combination of our features make?  I can hardly wait to see him!  I just keep picturing a mini version of my handsome husband, and I have to remind myself that we could have a blonde or even a redhead, and that would be okay, too.  Haha.  I know for certain that we will be completely in love with our little guy.  We already are!  If you read this someday, Baby, I want you to know how loved you were even before you were born.  Your papa and I (and the rest of your family and friends) can’t wait to meet you in just a couple of months!IMG_5586

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World Cup Fever & Sicilian/American Weddings: Romance+Food=Happiness

Today I continue my recap of our trip to Italy!  This may or may not be interesting to read, but I want to remember the details.  🙂  So, here we go…

The bride and groom, along with the groom’s family, were wonderful hosts.  They reserved rooms for us at a B&B in a great location with a big wrap-around patio.  That first morning, we had a Sicilian breakfast of pistachio croissants and granita.  Granita is like a snow cone, almost.  I had them twice in Sicily–coffee and amaretto the first time and strawberry and lemon for the second one.  We rented a car along with two other American bridesmaids, and Bryan masterfully drove us through the crazy streets of Catania, impressing everyone.  Driving in Costa Rica would make me nervous.  Sicily?  I think I’d just learn the bus system.  Dario’s mom made us a wonderful lunch of pasta with tomotoes, bread, fresh mozzarella with basil and chocolate for dessert.  Deliciousness

We arrived in time for me to attend a bridal shower.  It happened to be the day that Costa Rica played Italy in the World Cup.   The plan was for the men to go out for pizza while the shower was taking place at the house of Dario’s sister and her husband.  They had graciously offered to let Bryan watch the game at their house before the shower.  My brave (?) husband put on his Costa Rica soccer jersey.  For those of you unfamiliar with the World Cup, Italy has traditionally been a very competitive team.  Costa Rica was happy just to qualify to go to the World Cup.  So, understandably, Bryan thought he would be safe to wear his jersey.  Fast forward to the last half hour of the game.  Husband is perched on the edge of the couch next to me doing a good job of containing his sheer delight while Italian men float in and out of the living room, eyeing the screen with frustration.  “Feel my heart,” he says.  It was racing.  Moments after the game ended with Costa Rica WINNING 1 to 0, I watched him walk away with a group of twenty or so Italian men in his bright red and blue official Costa Rica jersey.  I was a bit nervous for him, truth be told.  Afterward, I learned that they were good-natured about the whole thing, teasing him that the winner buys pizza for everyone.

You can barely see Bryan in the back left corner wearing his Costa Rica jersey proudly.

You can barely see Bryan in the back left corner wearing his Costa Rica jersey proudly.

All the ladies got our hair done for the big day.  I was glad Andrea advised me to bring a picture of the style I wanted since my Italian is not so good.  I went for a kind of Elsa from Frozen look.  Simple, elegant, and lasted all night…Elsa hairWedding date

I loved the bridesmaid dresses, too.  The wedding was outdoors, overlooking the Mediterranean (I know!!).  Wedding aerialThey wrote their own vows, and the ceremony was in English and Italian.  It was so emotional and just super romantic.  I love weddings.  (sigh)  The groom’s two nieces and two nephews could not have been any more adorable.  Pre-weddingThe ceremony was followed by appetizers, then we moved inside for a four or five course meal.  Then there was dancing with a live band.  I have no skills, but there was still fun to be had.  Dancin'Then we went back outside for a feast of desserts.  Wow.  The whole thing went from about 6:00pm to about 2:00am.  One thing is for sure.  Italians know how to throw a wedding!Toast

Most importantly, I was so honored to be a part of the festivities, and I’m so, so happy for my friend.  Dario is head over heels for Andrea, and I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me to see them so happy together.  Husband & Wife

In the next post, we’re off to Venice!  🙂

Edgewalkers

When I read this article on race and identity and the “changing face of America”, I was completely riveted.  I sometimes talk here about my experience of being married to someone from another culture.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s an adventure that I truly love.  I also work with refugees and have two brothers from Uganda, so I spend a lot of time pondering diversity, cultural/racial heritage, the acculturation process, etc.  Each of us has a complex and multifaceted cultural identity.  My future kids will have two distinct cultures they can claim.  We want them to know both and be able to weave them together in a way that makes sense for them.   In the article, Michele Norris goes into the statistics on interracial marriage and discusses her findings on the experiences and struggles of people who identify with more than one ethnic group.  I highly recommend reading it in it’s entirety (the pictures are stunning!!), but here is an excerpt:

Edgewalkers are like happy ambassadors who “move between cultural traditions and cultural communities with some level of ease, comfort and enjoyment.” Edgewalkers welcome questions, even when the query is boneheaded or uncomfortable (“Ooooh, is that your father?”). They are calm when people stare or ask about their suntans or light eyes. They enjoy confounding people. Humor is always in their toolbox. Patience too. They see these encounters as a chance to chip away at a tortured history.

Isn’t this what we want for all multiethnic children?  Oh, that we could all be comfortable in our skin and well-adjusted enough to laugh ourselves when the occasion calls for it.   (i.e. http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/)  It’s a work in progress for many of us.  We live in a fallen world, but, at our best, we are able to see the beauty in each other’s unique features AND our own and to laugh at the humanity that makes us assume things about each other, trusting that our assumptions don’t come from a place of malice.  I will say that since changing my last name to Rodriguez, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some less-than-subtle surprised reactions when people who have seen my name meet me (with my blonde hair and blue eyes and pinkish skin) in person for the first time.  It’s occurred to me that it would be really great to obtain a PhD and have a guest speaking gig where I was just introduced as Dr. Rodriguez.  How many people do you think would be expecting a middle-aged Latino man to walk out onto the stage?  Note to self:  This is probably not a legitimate reason to pursue a PhD.  

I am thankful for the diversity in the US.  In my job, we talk about our mission to “welcome the stranger”.  The US resettled almost 60,000 refugees in 2012.  (from the ORR official website)  People from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and other regions who have been persecuted and endangered are brought here each year to begin new lives full of hope.  They start businesses and pursue degrees and live out the American dream.   I am inspired and privileged to watch this happening for my clients.  Their children can grow up free to pursue their dreams and fall in love with anyone they choose.

Some of you may have heard about the Tumblr called “We Are the 15 Percent” that was started in response to the sweet Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family.  The 2008 US census reports that 15% of new marriages in the U.S. are interracial.  My friend, Julie, and her husband were featured there, and I loved scrolling through and seeing the beautiful families.  I submitted a photo of me and Bryan on our wedding day, and they published it on our anniversary.  Here it is.  I know I have a lot to learn, so here’s a shout out to the Edgewalkers among us.  🙂

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My Costa Rican siblings 🙂

Day Fifteen: Juan and Douglas

Douglas and Juan are two of my husband’s best friends in the whole world.  They’ve all known each other since they were young chicos in school, and I know that Bryan wouldn’t be the man he is today without their support and encouragement.  Their loyalty means a lot to him…and to me.  Douglas is hilarious and fun-loving and has a huge heart.  Juan is pensive, sweet, sincere and steady.  They are good people that I am proud to call my friends.

I have so many great memories with these guys, and I love the time we’re able to spend with them whether in Texas or Costa Rica.  They watched me and Bryan fall in love that autumn when I was in language school, and they made an effort to get to know me—helping me with my Spanish, enjoying my cooking, making sure I found the right bus routes.  🙂IMG_2002Having both of them travel to Texas to be groomsmen in our wedding was a blessing I won’t ever forget.  wedding -23 reception-46They have always been supportive of our relationship, and that means more to me than they probably realize.  I know they miss their friend who lives in Texas with me now, but what makes their friendship genuine is that his happiness is their happiness.  Juan is coming to visit in December, and I can’t wait!  They are welcome in our home anytime.

Day 2: The Friends Who Help Us Get Where We Need to Go

I think God knew that I would need Jordan with me in Costa Rica.  When she found herself with a few months to travel before joining a law firm and I found myself wanting to study Spanish again after a missed opportunity following college graduation, we booked our tickets and set off on an adventure.  She and her cousin, Shannon, are the reason I met my husband.  (You can read that story here, if you’re interested. ) And she is a big part of the reason I dared to hope that we could be together.  

Taxi in San Jose

Jordan is vivacious, spontaneous, outgoing and smart as a whip.  She set up our first meeting and affirmed my attraction to him along the way.  She encouraged me when I doubted that I should open my heart and celebrated with me when I started to realize that I had found something very real and special.  Jordan and I traveled and studied together that semester and talked about everything.  I trusted her, and having her support gave me confidence in my desire to spend time with Bryan.  Along with him and his two best friends, we had a blast exploring and practicing our Spanish.  When my rational side started to battle with my heart reminding me how crazy it would be to get involved with someone from a different country, Jordan was there to remind me that he was a really good guy.  She saw something between us, and she knew that it was worth pursuing.  Before too long, I couldn’t deny it, and the rest is history.  

I owe Jordan so much gratitude for her encouragement during what I now know was a very important time in my life.  It was incredibly cool to share in the joy of her wedding and have her there to celebrate with me at mine a few months later.  

Jordan and Shannon

When I think about what she did for me, it makes me want to be that person for my friends.  I want to really engage in conversations with the people that God places in my path and pay attention to what is going on in their lives so that I can help them identify goals and desires and give my encouragement.  I think a lot of us need a little nudge or validation or show of support during those crucial crossroads moments.  Obviously, I know firsthand what a gift that is, and I want to pay it forward.  So, friends, if you need someone to listen and walk with you through a confusing time, please know that I’m here.  🙂

Fireflies

One of the best, most magical parts of summer is when the fireflies come out.  As a little girl visiting my grandparents in the piney woods of East Texas, I would stand beneath the weeping willow tree in the backyard with my sister and cousins forever holding my breath and waiting to see them glow.  My mom helped us poke holes in a baby food jar lid so that we could capture some to keep as pets.  The next morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I would cradle the jar on the nightstand.  They usually hadn’t survived the night, so I waited for dusk to catch a new batch.  I loved them so.

Fireflies

credit

They still hold some magic for me.  When I was in college, a friend introduced me to the lovely, mellow music of Mason Jennings.  He has a song with these lyrics…

And honey I’m sure
That you’ve been in love before
Plenty of men have held high places in your eyes
And jealousy has got no use for me
The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies

I saw my first fireflies of the season last week, and I’ve had this song in my head ever since.  What an image, isn’t it?  A dear friend of mine is getting married to someone she met while working as a missionary overseas.  In some ways, thinking about their situation and impending intercultural marriage has really taken me back to the past…the early months of my relationship with Bryan.  I emailed her recently about something entirely different and found myself writing about our joys and struggles during that beginning phase.IMG_1539

The fact that we need plane tickets and a passport to travel from one of our families to the other is something that will always be a challenge for us, and we’re constantly trying to balance and reevaluate (especially me).  I want to make sure that he never resents the choice he made.  People often say to my  husband, “Wow, I don’t know how you handle being so far from your family and friends…” or “You moved from Costa Rica to Texas?!  Why?  It’s so beautiful there!”  (only causing me to further despise small talk).  I try to keep my cool on the surface, but those comments really sting.  He moved here to be with me.  We Skype with his family at least once a week and see them as often as possible, but we still miss them so much.  And, yes, he misses the natural beauty of his homeland, too, but there are plenty of things he loves about Texas.

I told my friend that if her fiance ever wants to talk someone who fell in love with an American and moved to Texas, I know Bryan would be happy to listen, empathize and be a source of encouragement.  I wrote that I think intercultural marriages can end up being  strong in a unique way.  There are things that we are hypersensitive to that couples from the same country might take for granted.  We work on our communication constantly because of our cultural and language differences.  [For example, when he looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask about our plans for the following month, we talk through our different cultural perspectives on making plans.  :)]  It’s affirming, too, that we have made sacrifices in order to be together.  Knowing that we chose each other even though it wasn’t the easiest road really gives us confidence in our relationship.  We believe that God brought us together and it’s SO worth the sacrifices and inconveniences.

When I look back on what we’ve come through in order to be together—our first Valentine’s Day via Skype; countless hours of studying for Bryan in his second language; financial hardship; being separated from family; waiting and trusting that God would provide a student visa and, later, a green card; my frustration with not being able to communicate well enough in Spanish to really get to know my husband’s family and friends; so many misunderstandings and moments of confusion or frustration due to cultural differences…God has brought us through all of it.  We all can relate to the idea in the song, I think.  The darkness brings us to a place of light.  We have been through darkness that makes us stronger and more grateful.  So, wherever you are this morning, friends, (literally and figuratively), please be encouraged.  Here’s hoping we see more fireflies before the summer’s end.

Still Celebrating

My one word for this year is celebrate, and I’ve had some great opportunities recently to do just that.

What a memorable couple of weeks it has been!  We have shared lots of celebrating, family, food, siteseeing and Spanish speaking.  Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are a few thousand…

The graduates being hooded--this is actually the morning ceremony.  My cousin is the redhead somewhere in the front section.  :)  Proud of you, Zack!

The graduates being hooded–this is actually the morning ceremony. My cousin is the redhead somewhere in the front section. 🙂 Proud of you, Zack!

We loved hosting everyone at our house for lunch between ceremonies.  One last family gathering at Casa Rodriguez before we move (sigh)

We loved hosting everyone at our house for lunch between ceremonies. One last family gathering at Casa Rodriguez before we move (sigh)

A much anticipated moment

A much anticipated moment

My husband is a rockstar.

My husband is a rockstar.

We toured Fort Worth with Bryan's mom and grandma.

We toured Fort Worth with Bryan’s mom and grandma.

Ladies and gentlemen, my awesome Mother-in-Law.  :)

Ladies and gentlemen, my awesome Mother-in-Law. 🙂

Abuela wanted to arrive at the airport in Costa Rica wearing a Texas shirt.  She's a fan.

Abuela wanted to arrive at the airport in Costa Rica wearing a Texas shirt. She’s a fan.

In other news, I got a job this week!  It’s been quite a whirlwind.  Driving back yesterday after saying goodbye to Bryan’s mom and grandma at the airport and house hunting in the afternoon, it started to hit me how soon we are leaving (and how much we have to pack).  Also, we saw a tornado.  The wide open West Texas sky was a spectacular backdrop for the stormy sunset as we drove along the familiar interstate highway.  My whirling thoughts stopped for a little while, and I was just present; experiencing the storm with Bryan and marveling at the power of God.  I embraced my conflicting emotions and made peace with the silence as we watched the lightning flash in the orange glow of the sinking sun.

"That almost looks like a tornado." I said.  A few minutes later, we saw car after car pulled over and people snapping pictures with fancy cameras.  "It IS a tornado!"

“That almost looks like a tornado.” I said. A few minutes later, we saw car after car pulled over and people snapping pictures with fancy cameras. “It IS a tornado!”

Stormy sunset

I've never seen anything quite like it.

I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

More thoughts on the upcoming move soon…  I hope you all are feeling as blessed as I am this afternoon.  🙂

Aliens and Strangers

Buenas tardes, amigos!  So, here we are at the beginning of March.  February 22nd was a much anticipated day for the residents of Casa Rodriguez (which include me, Husband, and most recently–my hydrangea plant whom I affectionately call Cici because the word for hydrangea in Spanish is hortensia).  Can plants anticipate something?  No?  Well then, moving on…

Bryan and I got married at the tail end of 2011. Once we were married, we were eligible to start the process of obtaining permanent residency for my husband–a document commonly referred to as the Green Card.  We know several couples who have been through this process, and we heard that it could take several months.  While you are “in process” with the government you cannot leave the country.  Therefore, we decided to wait until last fall to start the paperwork.   I get a month off in the summers, and we wanted to spend last July in Costa Rica with Bryan’s family.  We saved our pennies and filed the (very expensive) applications jointly in October.  Several appointments and several months later, we made it to final step at last–our interview with the immigration office–this past Friday.  It was an interesting experience and not entirely like I expected.

Immigrants face many challenges today when trying to achieve legal permanent residency.  I don’t know what the process for getting a green card was like before 9/11, but I’m guessing that it’s gotten more complicated.  Getting a green card through marriage is one of the least complicated ways to stay in the U.S., so the government screens couples very carefully.  Having worked in refugee resettlement, I am not a novice in dealing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office.  I think I was able to be more patient than normal because I knew what to expect.  Bryan, bless his heart, is always patient.  We knew about our final interview for more than a month.  I had time to think about what it might be like, and I was actually a bit excited about it.  I was curious to see what kinds of quesions they might ask to prove whether or not our marriage is legit.  Any process that brings together government offices and love stories has to be fascinating, right?  It wasn’t like this…The_Proposal Green Cardor this.

But it was interesting.  As we sat there in the lobby area, I looked around at the clusters of people waiting with us.  Some had attorneys.  Most had large files of documentation with them.  We had a book bag full of photo albums, wedding announcements, shower invitations, the guestbook from our reception, our lease, bills, evidence of the massive undertaking it was for me to take his name (I wanted to take only his primary last name so our future children won’t be the weird kids in class whose full names have 75 syllables.  Latin Americans have two last names.  My local social security office and DPS seemed baffled by that.), etc.  A general feeling of nervous excitement silently filled the room as people filtered in, and I thought dreamily about how we were not alone.  This day was much anticipated by all of these hopeful immigrants.  The promise of the future hung in the air.  We were the first appointments of the day.  No one dwelled on the possibility of devastating disappointment.  We might all be separated from the crushing of our dreams by mere minutes, but there we sat with our carefully gathered documents, waiting to prove our worth.  Waiting to show the powers that be that we deserved to make a life here.

It’s overwhelming to consider the thousands of people who wait and hope and work so hard to make it to this point.  How often to we as citizens of this great country take our blessings for granted?  Safety and prosperity are our norm.  It’s too easy to focus on our issues with government policies and the material things we don’t have.  That room was a jarring reminder that it is an honor and a gift to have been born here.  And I’m thankful for that.  We have a responsibility to use our status to serve those around the world who don’t have what we have.  No matter our spiritual beliefs, we should be motivated to make the world better simply because we were born here where we have more, and it’s not fair.  What can each of us do to promote justice?  Please, please find a cause that speaks to your heart and get involved.  As Uncle Ben says to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  There are a million ways to give to populations around the world that are suffering from hunger, disease, poverty, civil war, human trafficking and other terrible issues.  Here are a few of my favorites:

http://www.compassion.com/

http://www.ijm.org/

http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/

http://www.rescue.org/

http://www.redcross.org/

So, back to last Friday.  When our Olive Garden-like buzzer went off, we were finally called into an office for our interview.  We told the very polite government official (an immigrant herself) the story of us.  We told her how we met and fell in love and got Bryan a student visa against all odds.  We told her how he moved here and how our relationship grew stronger.  We told her about the proposal and the wedding and our first year of marriage.  She examined all of our evidence and even requested to keep a few pictures for our file.  We could tell that it went well, but it was such a relief to find out officially on Monday.  Knowing that Bryan can live and work here legally is like clearing the final hurdle in a long-distance race.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  It’s been quite a journey.  God has opened doors for us every step of the way, and we couldn’t be more grateful.  A verse from Ephesians has been bouncing around in my head the past few weeks as I considered that Bryan’s status will be changing from “Non-resident Alien” to “Legal Permanent Resident”.  The first version of this verse that I became familiar with had the word “aliens” in it, but I like this version from The Message.  Living in the U.S. is great, but ultimately, this world is not our home.

You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.  Ephesians 2:19

The Saga of the Two Dresses: Part Two

[If you missed part one of this story, you can catch up here.]  We left for Costa Rica, and I found myself thinking a lot about the dress I had picked for my “big day”.  Was it really me?  It was so far off from what I had imagined, but then again life is like that.  I pulled up pictures of the dress on my computer at night and wondered if I would really feel my most beautiful in it on my wedding day.  I couldn’t picture it.  It didn’t seem right.  I told myself for weeks that I was being silly and it would be fine.  It’s just a dress, after all.  As they say, it’s about the marriage–not the wedding.  I tried to convince myself that my concerns were shallow and materialistic, but I couldn’t shake this feeling of dread.  I had the groom I’d always wanted and the colors I’d picked out years ago.  Our family and friends including Bryan’s family and two best friends from Costa Rica and all four of my grandparents would be there–just like I had dreamed.  I just couldn’t help but struggle to imagine myself experiencing it all in that dress.

It became clear after about two weeks of this inner struggle that the situation must be remedied.  After all, if there was ever a time to splurge on fashion in order to get exactly what you want this was IT.  It was time to stop worrying about being THAT girl.  I wrote a long email to the owner of the boutique explaining my hesitation and asking if store credit would be possible.  I told her about the kind of dress I had imagined.  She graciously agreed to let me pick out another dress when we returned and apply what I had already paid toward it.  Immediately, I felt lighter and happier.  There was hope!

I returned to the shop in August with just my mom and sister.  The shop owner helped me pick out a couple of dresses that were more in line with what I had envisioned.  I put on a lace gown that was understated and classic looking.  IMG_1297
IMG_1295She added a bit of sparkle at the waist for a subtle touch of glamour and suddenly the clouds parted and a light shone down from heaven.  This was me at my most beautiful.  I could see it.  My mom and sister confirmed that the dress was beautiful and much more me.IMG_1315

We ordered it and did the fitting.  I am pear-shaped (maybe some of you can relate), and I’ve been different sizes on top and bottom for years.  What a wonder it was to have a dress that fit me so perfectly!  Can you tell I don’t usually spend money on tailoring?

On my wedding day, I felt amazing in my dress.  My girlhood fantasies of my wedding day were fulfilled with this gown, and I felt like my best self walking out to meet my future husband.  The added bonus was getting to wear my dress twice!  Bryan’s family threw us a beautiful reception in Costa Rica for everyone who couldn’t make the trip to Texas for the wedding.  DSCN1801If you saw a tall, dark and handsome man and a pear shaped blonde girl running through the Miami International Airport with a huge white garment bag last December, that was probably us.  It was quite a conversation starter in boarding lines.

So, what I learned from this experience, and what I hope we will all remember, is that it’s important to trust your gut.  In stressful situations, we mustn’t allow ourselves to get overwhelmed and make impulsive decisions.   We should hold strong to our ideals, and ultimately, go with what our hearts tell us even with little things like this.  It’s worth it.first look -16Surely I’m not the only one with a dramatic wedding dress story.  I’d love for you to share your own saga in the comments!  🙂

On Bonding Experiences

The weekend before Thanksgiving something crazy happened while my sister, Katie, and her boyfriend, David, were in town.  We had been looking forward to their visit for weeks, and Saturday was the perfect fall day.  We took advantage of the nice weather with a late lunch picnic on campus.  Golden sunlight streamed down on our quilt, mingled with that thrilling crispness in the air that served as a reminder of the approaching holiday season.  We drank sweet tea and ate barbecue and then tossed a frisbee for a while.  Husband decided to grab his soccer ball out of the car.  Being from Central America, he doesn’t have a lot of frisbee experience but shines with a soccer ball at his feet.  At one point, he kicked the ball super hard, and it went all the way up the steps of the administration building (pictured), hit the doors and bounced back to where he stood.  He was pleased with the impressed reaction he got from the crowd and decided to try this again.  I’ve told you before about his boyish nature. 

On his second attempt, the ball rested too close to the edge of the sidewalk.  He kicked the ball and then the concrete, so his big toe had a head-on collision with the edge of that concrete at full force.  None of us really saw this.  He just rolled onto his back.  I thought he had lost his balance from kicking so hard, and I walked over laughing to help him to his feet.  He didn’t get up, and I heard him moan.  Something was wrong…maybe his knee?  He was holding it and wincing.  Then he told me that he hit his toe and that he could feel his shoe filling up with blood.  The mood changed quickly, and I yelled over my shoulder, “Time to go!”  Katie and David gathered our things and met us at the car.

My big, strong husband grimaced with each step as he leaned on me for support.  This was something new.  I’ve now know him for a little more than three years, and up to this point he hadn’t had much more than a cold during that time.  I had never seen him so physically vulnerable before.  I have to say, it kinda freaked me out.  When we got to the house, he took off his sock.  I’ll spare you the gruesome picture that he captured, but suffice it to say it took about three seconds to decide that we needed to take him to the walk-in clinic.  It was bleeding profusely, and I was apparently so flustered as I filled out his paperwork that I wrote down the wrong address.  I lived at 1109 when I was in college, but somehow that’s what I wrote on the form.  It’s funny what our minds do in these situations…or maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know.  🙂  They assessed the injury and determined that the cut was too deep and the tissue too damaged for them to repair.  They took an x-ray, gave him some shots to numb his toe and sent us to the ER.

We left our guests to find alternate plans for the evening and drove to the hospital where we spent the next five hours, mostly waiting.  Thank goodness they numbed his toe.  They gave us a wheelchair, and he sat playing on his iPhone and not feeling any pain.  The ER on a Saturday night is a wonderful opportunity for people watchers like myself.  I observed a young couple with a cheerful little boy who coulnd’t have been more than 2 and wondered what must be wrong with him.  He was so animated, toddling around the room, lighting up the faces of everyone he passed.  I saw an older woman slumped over in her chair, head down, distraught look on her face.  She got in quickly.  When they finally called us in, I held my husband’s hand while he received more shots and five stitches.  He looked pale and his normally warm skin was clammy and cold.  I tried not to seem concerned.  I smiled and asked him questions to distract him from the scene going on at his feet.  He gazed up at me smiling weakly, and eventually it was done.  

Husband is healing well and got his stitches out yesterday. It has been incredibly hard to see him hurting, but he has handled the whole thing with great courage.  He’s been telling people in an excited tone, “I learned a new word in the ER.  Mangled!”  The nurse must have used it five times.  I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to remain calm and not get squeamish at the sight of the “damaged tissue”.  I learned that I can be strong when someone I love needs me.  I have enjoyed taking care of Bryan while he recovers.  It can’t be easy for an independent, hard-working guy to relinquish control and let someone serve him, but I’ve only caught him hobbling around doing chores a couple of times.   Situations like this remind us not to take our health for granted.  I am thankful for that reminder.  And, yes, this experience brought us closer.  But let’s not make trips to the ER a regular thing, ok honey?