Sunday, January 22, 2012

engagement elves

We got some snow on Friday evening, so Richard and I had grand plans to spend most of Saturday inside and see a movie Saturday night. But at about 2:30 on Saturday afternoon, our day got a little more exciting when our dear friend Jon told us he was planning on proposing to his girlfriend Amy that night. This was in response to an invitation to the movies we had sent via text, so we immediately called Jon and asked how we could be of assistance. He had everything pretty much under control, but he did let us come over to his condo after he and Amy left for the night to set a few things up.

We put champagne in the fridge...

roses and pictures on the table...

And hoped that she'd say yes! Jon had planned for he and Amy to get drinks at their first-date spot, then propose back at his place. After Jon asked and Amy accepted, (woohoo!), they joined her family- who live close by and had intentionally not answered their phones when Amy called with the big news- for dinner. We excitedly met them for dessert and a round of in-person congratulations. We're thrilled for our friends and so excited for their big day! 2012 is shaping up to be a year full of fun weddings.

blurry iphone pic- was in such a hurry to get to Jon's in time that I forgot by camera! but you can see Amy's beautiful bling!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

toasted marshmallow milkshakes

I have always struggled with January. I don't like Christmas being over, and I really hate the cold weather. Richard has a big exam at the end of the month (and has for the past four years of his residency) which puts him in stressed-out, study-mode. And so to not get bogged down by the winter doldrums, I've tried to spend more time at the gym, plan fun activities, make travel plans, and find the positive in each day. Today, it was the absolutely delicious toasted marshmallow milkshake today at Spike Mendelsohn's Good Stuff Eatery. Good Stuff is one of Spike's DC restaurants (the equally good We the Pizza is also his), and I met a few friends there for lunch today. I have really been trying to watch my calories this New Year, but the turkey burger and milkshake I had were totally worth the splurge (I am still thinking about the milkshake 8 hours later!). I hate that I didn't get a picture- the milkshake is topped with a perfect toasted marshmallow. Try this recipe- it may change your life!

A few more January highlights that have helped brighten this blah month?

A great tour for our office of the National Archives. We saw the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and several other historical pieces relevant to South Carolina, including a letter Daniel Morgan wrote to Nathaniel Greene with his first-hand account of the Battle of Cowpens. Fascinating, National Treasure kind of stuff. And we capped off our Archives visit with lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl. Delicious!

National Archives building- because of the fragility of the documents, no picture-taking is allowed inside

Mary Anna and Patrick at Ben's Chili Bowl

I also got to see three of my favorite USC Law girls. Ryan, Caroline and I celebrated Caroline's recent engagement, and I caught up with sweet Whitney while she was in town visiting.

Dinner at Palena Cafe

loved seeing sweet Whitney!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Happy MLK Day!

On my way home from work this past Friday, I stopped by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. It opened in August of 2011 and I drive by it every day, but I hadn't actually been inside to give it a closer look. I thought it was only fitting to do so since today was MLK Day!

It's different from the other memorials, but it's a nice tribute to a great man. There are three large stones peaks, two at the opening and one with a carving of Dr. King. Several King quotes are etched into the surrounding inscription wall with two waterfalls beside the two stones that anchor the inscription wall. The memorial was designed to be on an axis between the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, with the statue of Dr. King looking out over the Tidal Basin.

Memorial inscription with the Washington Monument in the background

entrance at the opening of the inscription wall

one of my favorite MLK quotes

the Jefferson Memorial

The Memorial is not without controversy-a quote on one side of the stone with Dr. King has received a great deal of criticism. It says, "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness," which was a very loose paraphrase of what Dr. King actually said. The quote was taken out of context, and the Secretary of the Department of the Interior has ordered it to be changed after months of discussion and attention has been paid to the error.

Despite the controversy over the quote, it was wonderful to see a memorial to a man who has meant so much to so many people. It was freezing when I was there, but I watched a young lady who was also visiting moved to tears, standing still and just taking it all in. The monument was designed to convey four essential elements of Dr. King's message- justice, democracy, hope and love- lessons and a legacy that we all still benefit from today.

Friday, January 13, 2012

a different kind of army life

Kelly of Kelly's Korner is doing a link-up today for military families, and I thought it might be interesting to share our story. My husband Richard is an Army officer and a general surgery resident at Walter Reed, now in Bethesda. His father served in the Army (as did both of my parents), and though Richard wasn't involved in ROTC while completing his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, he decided to pursue a military scholarship for medical school. He finished medical school in Charleston, SC, then began his surgical residency at Walter Reed, where he is currently in year 5 of 6. We got married at the beginning of his 4th year, and I left SC, where we both grew up, to join him in Washington, DC.

I know our military experience is a little different than other active duty military families. Because Richard is still in training, he will likely not be deployed until he finishes his residency next summer. We don't live on base, and we lead fairly normal lives (despite him taking in-house call every third night!). He wore a tuxedo on our wedding day, and his hair is probably a little longer than it's supposed to be. I do shop at the on-base commissary, and when I am there, and at Walter Reed, I see military families who have sacrificed SO much more than we have. Many of Richard's patients have lost limbs or have been through other severe trauma. They are ones who are actually on the front lines, who face deployments for years at a time away from their families. It only seems appropriate that Richard and others seek to give them the absolute best medical care possible.

Working at Walter Reed does have its perks- Richard has met several celebrities who come in to cheer up or perform for the wounded warriors. The First Lady and President Obama have both come to visit, and high-ranking government officials often come to the hospital to both visit and for treatment.

Once Richard finishes he residency, it remains to be seen where we will go next. He'll stay in the Army for at least four more years, and there's a good chance that a portion of that time will be overseas. I work on Capitol Hill for a member of Congress, so I'll have to find a new job when we move. That uncertainty is probably one of the most stressful parts of military life! But we are excited to see where God leads us.

We have been so blessed by the friends we've made through Walter Reed- medical residents from all over the country. The Army has provided Richard with wonderful training and unique experiences that he would not have had in a civilian residency. Though I miss my home state, I am thankful for our life in the DC area and am so proud of my husband and others who serve.

Richard at Officer's Basic in San Antonio, TX- summer 2004- my two-shower-a-day husband had a hard time spending 5 days in a tent without one!

completely posed shot after a simulation, again in San Antonio- Richard on left

sweet Walter Reed friends who came all the way to SC from DC for our wedding- combination of general surgery, internal medicine, and orthopedic surgery residents

Thursday, January 5, 2012

new year's resolutions

Better late than never right? I did hear on the radio that you are more likely to keep resolutions if you don't share them, but what's better than having a whole host of blog readers for accountability (or the few of you sweet friends who check this little site on a regular basis)? So in no particular order, here they are:

1. Resume strength training. I had a wonderful trainer before my wedding who taught me whole to use the gym machines I was always afraid of. I only worked out with him for thirty minutes twice a week, but I noticed a huge difference in my overall tone. So I am hoping to do weights at least twice a week. With a gym membership near our house and at work too, I don't have an excuse not to!

2. Do at least one DC-specific activity a month (and blog about it). Our time in the Nation's Capitol is probably limited to another year and a half, and I want to make the most of it. There are SO many fun, often free activities here that I'll need to do at least one a month to take full advantage of them all.

3. Unplug- especially when in the car. I sometimes check email while driving. And I am terrible about checking Facebook, twitter, etc if I am in the car while Richard is driving. It's just not safe to have one eye on the Blackberry screen and one eye on the road, and my time with my husband is so limited that I should be giving him my undivided attention in spending one-on-one time with him.

4. Bring lunch more often to work. It's so much cheaper. And healthier. And the selection in the Longworth cafeteria is getting old.

5. Expand friendships in the DC area. Richard and I have "couple" friends here, and at least one half of the couple is generally a resident at Walter Reed. Those friends are SO dear to me, but I don't have many girlfriends of my own. For the first year I was here, I was kind of reluctant to make new girlfriends because I was missing all of my great friends in South Carolina. That reasoning is kind of skewed, but I guess I thought those relationships and my new relationship with my husband were enough. Now I realize how much I need good girlfriend relationships here with ladies who have similar interests as me. I hope to deepen the few I do I have and expand my circle a bit.

6. For every item of clothing I buy, get rid of one I don't wear in my closet. I have a ton of unworn items that I need to donate or sell, and it only seems right that for every new piece I add, I get rid of a piece I don't wear.

In addition to those, I have the standard ones- grow deeper in my faith, be a better wife, daughter, and sister, and get our budget and eating habits under control. Those are a little more amorphous but are important nonetheless. Here's hoping for a great year of personal growth in 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012

a year in review- 2011 in pictures

2011 brought a lot of firsts- first job on Capitol Hill, first real snowstorm, first full year of marriage and living in Maryland and first wedding anniversary. Below are some of my favorite pictures from the year and highlights from each month. Overall, it was a great year. Goodbye 2011, hello 2012!
an 80's New Year's Eve, then New Year's Day in New York, starting a new job, a MLK weekend trip to SC to spend times with friends on the coast, and a terrible snowstorm and visit from fun SC girls to end the month

waking up on my birthday in the Marriott Bethesda because our house was without heat, a surprise 30th birthday fiesta, and our first married Valentine's Day

cherry blossoms and Mom and Meghanne to DC

Molly and Josh's wedding in SC, Easter and birthday and baby celebrations there too, Kelly and Lauren's wedding in Philly, and a quick end of the month trip to the Jersey Shore

a great visit from Kim, Brian and Jackson, Richard's 30th birthday and party at our house, Matt and Gus's wedding in Baltimore- and a few frustrations too- no AC, carbon monoxide leaks and a bit of food poisoning

a mini-retreat to Asheville, Richard's family reunion, Wicked at the Kennedy Center and a quick trip to North Beach, MD before the end of Richard's research year

first anniversary celebration in St. Michael's, Maryland and adjustment to Richard being a true general surgery resident again and a low-key Fourth of July

Suzanne visits DC, a full, two week tour of SC, and a glorious month long Congressional recess

a great Clemson win over Auburn in Death Valley, and the Tigers go 4-0 to start the season, the arrival of sweet baby Anderson Pusz

a trip to Blacksburg to watch Clemson beat the Hokies the first time around, a trip to Charleston for Ken and Heather's wedding, pumpkin carving party at our house

a great party with friends for Jess and Robert, seeing another Clemson win over Wake Forest and a fun reunion tailgate, Thanksgiving in SC with family and friends

a lovely Christmas cruise with family, the beautiful wedding of Jess and Robert, a quick trip to NYC, a visit from Richard's parents and our first real Christmas tree