I can breathe again!!!
It’s been such a busy whirlwind since December – all good things, but it is wonderful to finally feel settled in our sweet city of Charleston.
To catch you up:
Matt finished up SOS training in Alabama with flying colors (no pun intended) and met up with me in Seattle for Christmas! The season was as warm and bright as we had hoped back in Seattle and we were able to spend time with lots of friends and all of our Seattle family. I fell more and more in love with my nephew Brooks Joseph and already miss his squeals and butter-soft skin… Things that stand out for me about our time there were going downtown to meet Dad during his lunch hour at a Starbucks in a skyscraper, a candlelit Christmas Eve service at Bethany Community Church after a Christmas Eve party at the Eernissees’, yummy family meals, and a mandatory trip to Pike Place Market with the whole crew in search of brandy bing cherries and Market donuts – DUH! (I just realized after re-reading this that all of my favorite memories have something to do with food… YIPES)
Overall Christmas with our Seattle family and friends was precious and we are grateful for the time we had with everyone!
After a flight back to Atlanta and a 6 hour drive to our final coastal destination we spent one night in our new, empty, echoing, Charleston house on an air mattress. The next day we had a whirlwind of movers who were – to the dismay of our new neighbors- blocking our alleyway with a huge moving van. It being New Years Eve for these fellas, they seemed a bit rushed with our precious cargo, but who could blame them! They ended up piling everything in corners for us to sort through and thankfully took every last box and piece of cardboard we could scramble up so that we didn’t have a mountain of recycling! New Years evening we spent at a friend’s house and we watched small children light off fireworks in their cul-de-sac. ARE WE IN THE SOUTH OR WHAT?!?! No one was injured in the celebrations.
We had one week to sort through items, take MORE stuff to Goodwill, figure out storage in this old 1850’s home (did they own any CLOTHES back then – where are the closets people?!), and to get to know neighbors before I headed off to Italy for two weeks.
Thankfully by the sweat of our brows and my determination to have things settled by the time I flew out, we had everything in place before my European adventure!
My trip to Italy was fantastic – I went with my good friend Kim Popek, who is studying in Dublin Ireland. We agreed to spend a few days in Ireland and then the rest of our time exploring Italy. We went to Venice, Florence, Siena, and Rome. We saw beautiful architecture, STUNNING churches, ate delicious pasta, drank inexpensive wine, marveled at the amount of pastries and goodies available on every corner, and spent hours in museums full of paintings, tapestries, mosaics, statues, and frescos. Venice was beautiful, but did feel like an abandoned city except for the hundreds of tourists who visit everyday. It was amazing to think about Venice’s glory days in its prime – a rich city of the arts, romance, and entertainment. Florence had a much different feel than Venice, first of all because people actually live and work there. It was also much more cohesive than Venice with a distinct color palate (muted golds, creams, yellows, greens and browns). It flaunted works like Michelangelo’s statue of David which was incredible to see in person and gigantic! During our time in Florence we took a day trip out to see the countryside with a tour company. We were really glad we did because we explored medieval castles, saw miles of olive trees and vineyards, quaint hill-top villas and did a wine tasting in Chianti. We stopped in Siena which was my favorite city of the entire Italy trip because of it’s history, layout, quaint shops and huge farmer’s market. After our time in Florence we headed to our last stop in Italy – Rome. Kim and I took a tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. It was incredible to be in a place where so much had happened in the world, and where biblical characters had walked. I had such a hankering to see the movie Gladiator again after our trip to Rome.
A few things we noticed about Italians during our travels – they drink coffee from tiny cups standing up at the counter. They never take left-overs from a meal. Shop-keepers make you put your wet umbrella in a little container in the front of the store – always. Waiters NEED you to have wine with your meal and if you don’t order it they get huffy or just bring you a glass for free because “wine gives you a good life”. Italians let you order your item and give it to you and then only later do they ask for your money- makes for a really awkward period where you’re trying to give them money and they just flat-out ignore you.
Kim and I made great travel buddies, we had similar interests, budgets (cheap!) and energy levels. We did so much walking everyday and would know when the other needed food or rest or shopping because that’s exactly how the other felt too! We both came away with some goodies in the form of boots, or leather, or treats, or artwork or coffee.
Our travels in Dublin and the Irish countryside were amazing and I was thrilled to get to see the Cliffs of Moher and other very very old sights in Ireland. We went to a few restaurants in Dublin and a fun bar with live Irish music – classic and so layed back… Aaaaahhhh.
As wonderful as traveling was, I was anxious by the end to get back to my new house and to Matt in Charleston. My trip home was a bit delayed however, as I woke up the morning of the flight and fainted after my morning shower (that’s never happened to me before)- hitting my head on the bathroom floor and requiring a trip to the ER and three stitches that stung a “wee bit” as my MD said as he sewed me up! It caused me to miss my flight home but I was able to hang back in Dublin for another day, relax, and watch Waking Ned Devine (highly recommend it) with Kim while eating all kinds of yummy novelty treats.
Being back in Charleston and finally feeling able to settle in is so amazing! I love being here with Matt and establishing how our new marriage flows – discovering quirks about one another: Matt drinks liquids with dinner, I do not. Matt is usually the last person to leave any event because he’s chatting. I can cook, Matt cannot. 🙂 We’ve gotten to know some amazing people already through our church and are involved in a small group. We go out to lunch every sunday with a mixed bunch of people after church and we’ve had people over for dinner and vice versa. Matt and I will start helping with kids ministry once a month, and I’m going to start getting involved with some of the women’s ministry at College of Charleston – at least in meeting with a few girls who attend there. It’s so nice being so close to everything and to the students downtown. I hope our home becomes a second home to many of them. We’re gonna have to have some parties to kick it off right though! There are already rumors of a Gatsby party happening at our place – I can’t wait!
We feel incredibly blessed and while not every moment or day is peachy-keen, we know God is here at work in Charleston and has us right where He wants us. He has taken care of every one of our needs, and continues to be faithful. We know the prayers of those who know and love us are precious and we are so thankful for your support, love, conversation and interest in our travels and adventures so far. There is so much more ahead of us, but we trust that God knows, and give it all to Him. He continues to work in our hearts individually and as a couple and I’m discovering that in marriage I need Jesus more than ever and that’s a really wonderful place to be…
With love I leave you with many many pictures!