Akward and Awesome Thursday: Seaweed Salad

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After the Marriage Adventures retreat, Josh and I were encouraged to go on a date to put into practice some of the communication and romance tips we had gleaned from the conference. We opted to go out for unlimited Japanese food at Osaka Sushi!

Awkward:

  • I asked to have my pickled salad over rice, and the little Asian waitress literally raised her eyebrow at me and said “Really? Over rice?” I wanted to be all like, “Well, you guys are the ones who pickle your salads . . . and squid . . . and probably cats and stuff!”
  • My mom keeps trying to give me her old clothes. I hate to tell her this . . . but I’m not quite that old yet . . .
  • Okay, so the polka-dot shirt I’m wearing in the above pics used to be hers, and I’ve worn it three times this week . . . but that’s the only thing!
  • Except for a nice tan polka-dot skirt . . . but that’s it . . .
  • The table across from us was full of kids who seemed to be from Japan. They kept ordering their “favorite” foods . . . like bright orange fish eggs.
  • I tried the bright orange fish eggs.
  • At Marriage Adventures, the oldest and most . . . ahem . . . experienced couple there were also the most recently wed. So much sex talk, lol . . .
  • This picture that Josh loves:

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Awesome:

  • I have literally been trying to figure out what the above fluorescent green substance was ever since tasting (and loving) it at an international business dinner at Messiah in 2010. Thanks to Osaka Sushi, I have found you, seaweed salad! So good!
  • Sushi. Just sushi. All sushi.
  • The only flavors of ice cream Osaka has for dessert are vanilla, chocolate, red bean, and green tea. The two weird ones are absolutely to die for.
  • One of the kids at the table across from us hid some bright green wasabi in his friend’s green tea ice cream while the guy was in the bathroom. It was hilarious.
  • I love dating my best friend 🙂
  • Oh, hey! I’m married to my best friend!

Our Marriage Adventure

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Josh and I had the privilege this weekend of participating in the second annual Marriage Adventures retreat.

You may remember my review of Cheap Love by professor friends Carrie and Erv Starr. Well, they rewrote the book with the title Marriage Adventures, adding lots of information and tips for a splendid married life in every aspect of a relationship–not just finances. This year and last, they held a small marriage retreat on their property, bringing to life a lot of concepts inspired by the new book.

We joined four other couples (who we hope to count among our new friends beyond this weekend) to learn and talk about communication, finances, and intimacy in our marriages. There was home-roasted coffee, date ideas, tools for avoiding unnecessary arguments, and more shameless sex talk than I can ever remember being a part of . . . It was awesome.

The one great tool that Carrie and Erv taught us about made Josh and I absolutely giddy with how well it worked. The Starr’s called it the Couple’s Dialogue. It’s this simple:

1) One spouse “has the floor” for 2-5 minutes. He talks, uninterrupted, about an issue in the relationship while the other spouse listens.

2) The second spouse mirrors back what she thinks she has heard. For example, “What I’m hearing you say is that you feel attacked when I confront you about financial problems.”

3) She validates what her spouse has expressed about his feelings and empathizes with him. “I understand why you would feel that way. If I were you, I would be frustrated in that situation.

Framing the issue in terms of “If I were you . . .” really helps Josh and I remember that we are not each other. Even if we don’t process situations in the same way, we can imagine what it would feel like to experience a situation through the other person’s shoes. We tried the Couple’s Dialogue technique with a topic that we had fought about in the past, and we were amazed at how talking in this way kept the hostility out of the disagreement. We couldn’t believe we had never tried anything like this before!

Just a few more things to carry with us on our own marriage adventure.

“In a Cabin in the Woods” (Naples, NY)

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Josh and I were blessed beyond belief by a graduation present in the form of staying for four days in a rustic cabin owned by our pastor’s family. The property is in Naples, NY overlooking Canandaigua Lake–an area that I have loved as I’ve grown up because it is near my grandparents’ beautiful home. The above photo depicts the view from our front room during our stay.

That’s not even the best part. Josh and I left the laptops at home and only brought one of our two phones along (with internet capabilities turned off.) We wanted to get away from everything during this first week of freedom from college life.

And, boy, did we.

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Took this picture by accident while trying to take one out of the bedroom window . . . and Josh loves it

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We talked for long hours, wrote poetry, photographed and sketched pictures of nature, cooked and ate great food, chopped wood, drove down winding roads around the lake, and cuddled. There was a lot of cuddling. It didn’t get above forty degrees while we were out there! Thank God for wood stoves . . . both for warmth and for making my husband feel like a dashing woodsman.

So yeah . . . that’s where we have been 🙂

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The best woodsy little brunch I have ever had

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The view out of the window of the best cafe Josh and I have ever had the privilege to enjoy . . . and it’s in the middle of nowhere

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We Did It Together: Marriage and College

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Josh and I graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College today–pomp, circumstance, tassels and all. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and he in Spanish. We were surrounded by friends, family, and mentors . . . and we were absolutely honored.

There was a moment during the commencement ceremony in which the speaker asked all of the parents and spouses of the graduating students to stand and receive thanks for the support they had given the graduates throughout the years. Seated at the very front of the crowded gymnasium, I leaned forward and prepared to hammily stand in support of my spouse a few rows back (who would undoubtedly blush, groan, and pull his mortarboard down over his eyes in embarrassment.) As I rose from my seat and peeked over my shoulder, there was Josh–already standing and beaming at me.

It didn’t feel hammy at all.

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Being college graduates is a very strange feeling in light of the fact that up until now, Josh and I have never been together when we were not both students. We have never been married and not been in college. School has been a part of our relationship for as long as either of us can remember–a big part.

We both work (or used to work) very hard academically. We have forever been in competition for ultimate academic excellence. In high school, Josh edged me out as valedictorian of our class. I took salutatorian. In college, he landed Cum Laude while I managed to eke out Magna Cum Laude. The meaning in our accomplishments is clear, even more so since that moment when we stood and honored each other at commencement.

We never could have done it without each other.

What started out as just a playful rivalry turned into precious and invaluable support for four long years. We saw each other through six finals weeks, dozens of projects with both each other and others as partners, countless papers, and a whole lot of stress. And no matter how much we felt like ripping out hairs (both our own and each other’s), we always emerged loving, needing, and appreciating each other even more.

Josh would quiz me on communication theories, not letting me off easy because he really did want to learn more about my field of study.

I would sit him down and have him talk me through nerve-wracking oral presentations, helping him form neat outlines complete with examples.

He would chase me away from the textbook- and paper-piled couch to the bed and make me snuggle at least five minutes a day “for mental health.”

I would chatter at him in Spanish, making him practice even when he didn’t want to.

He would search for assignments I had long-since lost, always taking the blame for their disappearance.

I would meet him with a hungry gleam in my eye when he would tease at 1:30 in the morning, “Taco Bell?”

He would heat up my cornbag on the way out the door to class when IC flareups would keep me at home.

And we would get through it.

And we have gotten through it. As surreal as it seems, this chapter of our life that has meant so much to us is over, but what isn’t over is how much we have meant to each other during this season.

I reflect back on the judgment for our decisions that Josh and I received over the years. I can see in so many people’s eyes the meddling mindset of

“There go those poor, married college students that couldn’t wait any longer to have sex and will spend the rest of their lives paying for it.”

I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but do people our age realize that there is more to marriage than sex? Then let me just take this opportunity to say, there is so much more to marriage than sex!

There’s friendship, fights, prayers, problems, trust, travel, work, play, adversity, adventures, backrubs, back-seat driving, campfires, picnics, late-night swims, sushi, sing-alongs,  midnight premieres, nightmares, deep thoughts, theatre, Thanksgiving dinner, pregnancy tests, plans, failures, fears, hopes, dreams, desires, days, nights, today, tomorrow, and forever.

There are, in fact, a lot of things that come with marriage that have made our college experience what it was. So you know what I say to people who think it unwise to marry during college (as if it’s any of their business)?

“There go those poor, unmarried college students who will never know what it’s like to have the ultimate supporter and soulmate walk them through every step of their adult journey.”

I love you, Josh. We did it, baby!

Spider-Man 2 Filming in Rochester

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An image taken today by the local newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle

I’m ashamed that I haven’t posted about this sooner, but my humble hometown of Rochester, NY has been graced by the presence of film crews from Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

While I received an audition to be an extra (eeeep!!!) I ultimately wasn’t able to participate since the filming happened right in the middle of finals week. Insert heavy sigh. An opportunity that will likely never reoccur in my life just happens to land during the one week when I can’t jump up to answer it.

My boss at my internship was actually offered a crew position, believe it or not. Even more amazingly, he made the excruciating decision to turn the offer down. His pastor at the church where he is employed as head of videography needed him for the day, and he “chose God over man.” Now that is dedication.

Since today is the last day of filming, I’m kind of saying goodbye to this exciting era for Rochester as well as to the chapter of my life where I neglect my adult responsibilities to chase impractical projects with the slightest hint of a possibility of fame on the other side . . . ’cause yeah . . . I tend to do that. With graduation a mere two days away, it’s time for me to pair my dreams and my somewhat fantastical passions with a means of helping to support my family.

I may need to say “no” to some of my own interests, but hopefully doing that will mean that I never have to say “no” to wonderful opportunities for my family.

Thanks for the life lesson, Spider-Man! I hope Rochester looks great onscreen and is everything you are hoping for.

Arts Fest and Farewells

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There were a lot of mixed emotions this week. With our last finals week coming up starting Monday and spring formal scheduled for tonight as sort of a last hoorah, Josh and I were already experiencing a lot of stress–both good and bad.

Mid-week, we found out that Josh’s grandma had seriously deteriorated health-wise, and she passed away shortly after we received this news. We dropped everything and made a trip down to Pennsylvania for the funeral.

As sad as it is to lose Grammie, it was really a blessing to be able to reconnect with family who we haven’t seen in a very long time. I know it did a world of good for Josh in terms of grieving. We had just arrived in Spain when Grammie’s husband Poppy passed away last year. We were unable to attend his funeral, so we weren’t about to miss this one.

We all grieved together, said our goodbyes, and were then able to enjoy our family members. Josh’s parent’s and sister took us to the local Arts Festival today, and we were reminded of how important it is to make and cherish memories with the loved ones still here on earth with us.

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