Monday, February 23, 2009

Titanic Dinner!

One of my favorite PEF yearly traditions is the Titanic dinner thrown for the freshmen. Jamie Rankin, a professor at the university (and pianist for PEF and for Westerly, and marathon runner, and gourmet chef) invites groups of freshmen over to his home for an amazing ten-course meal, based on the last meal served on the Titanic before it sank. And wow, is it a decadent meal!

It's also a really great way to help freshmen get to know each other a bit better -- after all, you're at the table with each other for upwards of five hours! :) Jamie can handle 10 at his table, and there are sometimes dinners where there are fewer freshmen than that, so he invites some of the younger staff to fill in the seats... So David and I have had the honor of being guests to this dinner for five years running now. :) Last Saturday was the first Titanic dinner of 2009, with five freshmen, Aime and Greg (another staff couple), and the two of us -- and fun times were had by all!

Just wanted to upload pictures of the food (the ten courses, plus extras) for posterity...

Apéritif: Sparkling cider with dried cranberries

Individual salt cellars at each place setting

Course 1: Chèvre Soufflé

Course 2: Tarragon Pea Soup and Beet Vichysoisse

Course 3: Salmon with Mousseline Sauce

Course 4: Chicken Lyonnaise

Course 5: Merlot Sorbet with Frozen Sugared Grapes

Course 6: Beef Wellington with Wild Rice and Haricots Verts

Course 7: Spring Mix Salad with Glazed Walnuts, Bleu Cheese and Dried Cranberries (I was so into the meal at this point that I forgot to take a picture of the salad before I started digging in!)

Course 8: Assorted Cheeses, Crackers and Grapes (with the maestro himself explaining the cheese course)

Course 9: L'Orange Surprise

Course 10: Tea, Lemon Shortbread, and Assorted Chocolates

Snuffing the candles in the chandelier (that's right, real candles in the chandelier!)


Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome to the world, baby Luke!!

Our dear friends Erik and Erin just welcomed their first, a beautiful baby boy named Luke Robert!!

Luke Robert N., born 2.19.2009

What a precious little bundle of joy! :) Erik and Erin are our closest friends to have welcomed a baby, and we're so incredibly excited for them! We're just sad that they've moved out to New Mexico (Erik finished his Ph.D. last spring, and is now working for a lab out in Albuquerque). We're hoping to go out and visit them soon -- and meet little Luke!

We know they read this blog (hello, dear ones!), so we thought we'd create a little celebratory post in their honor. :) Feel free to leave them a congratulatory note here as well!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Weddings, weddings everywhere...

For a while, it looked like the spate of weddings in our friend circles was finally dying down. Last year, we had two family weddings and the wedding of a friend of ours from college (and law school!), but that was it for 2008. At one point last fall, we knew more women who were pregnant than were engaged -- and if that's not a sign of growing up, I don't know what is!

But slowly, the wedding invitations started trickling in again. And now, 2009 is shaping up to be our wedding-est year yet -- how exciting!

Here's the lineup of weddings so far:
  • February 28: Jenitta and Stan
  • April 4: Myun Hwa and Rob
  • May 17: Elaine and Ed
  • May 30: Tae and Jeff
  • July 4: Jamie and Jeff
  • August 8: Carrie and Matt
  • August 29: Diana and Brian
And these are just the weddings we've been invited to. We know of at least two more weddings in our friend circles coming up this summer...

We're really excited to be kicking things off next weekend by celebrating with Jenitta and Stan. :) And you better believe we'll have tons of pictures of all of these events!

And, um, if any of our friends out there are planning on getting engaged soon and married this year, please pick a different weekend, okay?* Just to accommodate us? Thanks!
* Because in August 2006, we were invited to six weddings. Three of which fell on the same weekend -- one in Pennsylvania, one in New Orleans, and one in Scotland. Guess which one we went to...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Saints Faustinus and Jovita Day!

We were hosting an old friend over the weekend, who was in the area for a conference. He's recently engaged, and depending on their job situations (he's a newly minted professor, and she's finishing her Ph.D. and applying for faculty positions), they're hoping to get married either this summer or next.

David asked him yesterday whether he was doing anything romantic for his fiancee for Valentine's Day. The following conversation ensued:
FRIEND: No, of course not. We'll be celebrating tomorrow.
ME: Tomorrow? Is February 15 a special day for you guys?
FRIEND: Oh no, it's just Saints Faustinus and Jovita Day.
ME AND DAVID: Saints who?
FRIEND: Saints Faustinus and Jovita. They were martyrs who were beheaded for their faith.
ME: ...
Note that none of us is Catholic. This friend of ours is just a quirky kind of guy, which his friends are all used to by now... But could any girl really be okay with not celebrating Valentine's Day with her fiance?
DAVID: So, um, is [friend's fiancee] cool with this?
FRIEND: Oh yeah. She even bakes me these little people-shaped cookies and then beheads them.
Proof that they're really meant for each other, I guess... :)


As for us, though, we're both happy to be prosaic and go with the whole Hallmark-inspired Valentine's Day thing. For which I'm very thankful. :)

He had these beautiful roses delivered to my office on Friday:

The only problem, though, was that I was actually in Philadelphia all day on Thursday and Friday for a deposition... I told David Thursday night that the deposition, which was only supposed to last one day, was going to continue on the next day. He looked all concerned, and asked whether that meant I wasn't going to be in my office at all the next day, and then told me he had ordered flowers to surprise me.

He's been sick all week, so I figured we weren't going to do anything for Valentine's Day this year. Which would have been fine with me -- this bout with the flu is probably the worst sickness David has had since we got married. But even though he's been weak and feverish all week, he still made the effort to surprise me with pink roses... I have the best husband in the world. :)

So I ended up dropping by my office on Friday evening just to pick up my Valentine's loveliness. :)

Hope you all had a great Valentine's Day -- and that your Sts. Faustinus and Jovita Day is going well! :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In sickness and in health

One of the things marriage counseling books tell you is that you'll both come into the marriage with different "normals" -- i.e., different expectations of what constitutes "normal" in different situations. For instance, in my family growing up, it was "normal" for us all to have dinner at different times, given the high number of activities we were all involved in; we would have family time together late in the evening while watching TV and/or reading together. For David's family, though, it was "normal" for the evening meal to be a time of family togetherness. While this may seem a relatively easy thing for me and David to reconcile in our new family (it's pretty easy for the two of us to decide to always have dinner together), the differences in our "normals" manifested in my not being used to talking over a family meal -- I never realized this until I was with David, but mealtimes are generally quiet times for me. I'm slowly learning to not shut down completely when I have food in front of me!

The marriage books never went into how different people deal with sickness, though. I think we had both assumed that David was the stronger, healthier one of the two of us. But what we've discovered over the last few years is that I definitely have a stronger constitution than he does. While I tend to complain of low-level (likely stress-induced) illnesses year-round, David is more susceptible to real illness. He tends to get flu-like symptoms about twice a year -- he gets seriously laid up with a cold, fever, weakness, etc. The poor guy has to shut down, and only occasionally feels up to forcing down some soup.

I have to confess, I wasn't the most understanding or nurturing wife when David first got sick early in our marriage. Especially when his sickness coincided with times we had planned to get together with out-of-town friends... It's "normal" for me to just power through my perceived sicknesses -- if something is important, I'll just choose to put aside my headache or queasiness to get that thing done. So I projected all of this onto David -- why would he "choose" to stay in bed rather than do the things I had wanted us to do??

But I'm learning! When David's running a temperature of 102 degrees, and is feeling clammy, and looks like this:

he certainly doesn't need me nagging him to get up and do stuff with me...

That's right, David's been sick this week. :( I'm doing my best to help nurse him back to health -- I came home from work early today to bring him some soup, and I've been running errands for him as needed this afternoon.

Here's hoping he's back to his normal, healthy self soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Young Adult Connections

Last weekend, we had the first real leadership team meeting for the new ministry we're helping to start up through our church, Young Adult Connections, or YAC. And trust me, we're totally going to have fun with the acronym -- we've already found a bunch of great yak pictures, including this one for our Facebook group:

Huddling for strength and warmth as they face the rest of the world together...

But I digress. :)

YAC is aimed at the 20- and 30-somethings at our church and in the broader Princeton community. This is the demographic that tends to fall through the cracks at most churches -- and in Princeton, it's even harder to build community given the transience of the young professionals in the area. Our hope was to create an official ministry of the church (with a name, and with pastoral support -- important for creating a sense of permanence), that would be an obvious gathering point for people in this demographic. Something that would provide support for small groups, get people plugged into the larger church community, and create fun social outlets and regular gatherings.

David and I have been "rebranding" a lot of our normal small group social events as YAC events over the last several weeks -- a Sunday brunch, our Superbowl party, etc. But there's only so much that the two of us can do.

At the inaugural leadership team meeting, we've sketched out a skeleton plan for YAC as an umbrella ministry. We're going to shoot for twice-monthly Sunday brunches, with different people taking point each time. We're also hoping to plan a retreat over the July 4th weekend. We're creating a Google group along with our Facebook group, to facilitate easy communication within the group. And there were so many other ideas for more casual events -- game nights, service projects, happy hours -- all of which were suggested by people who have the vision and the energy to bring these things about.

It's so encouraging to have others confirm this vision for this ministry! And it's so exciting to see the ways God has already started building community and using these events to reach out to others in the area.

Please be praying for the growth and development of YAC. And stay tuned for posts and pictures of future YAC events!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Love and LOST


Seriously -- don't read this post if you haven't seen the latest episode of LOST (season 5, episode 4), or if you plan on ever watching it in the future.

And if you're not planning on ever watching it in the future -- might I gently suggest that you do? :) It'll take you a while to get through all four of the previous seasons, but wow, is it worth it... You just have to power through some of the scariness of season 1, and some of the floundering in season 3 -- but then it gets awesome again.

And I really, really loved what they did in this last episode.

But okay, if you're not going to watch the whole series, you can still read this post -- most of my reactions to the last scene in the latest episode are more universal than fan-girl, I think... :)

I've really enjoyed watching the development of Sun and Jin's marriage on LOST, over the course of the entire series. At the beginning of the show, it seems like they're just your stereotypical traditional Korean marriage -- emotionally distant and controlling husband, cringingly submissive wife, and no real love to sustain the relationship. But then you start getting flashbacks that slowly flesh out some of the backstory to their marriage. You see that they were a love match from the beginning, and you go through Jin's struggles to be able to support his wife, his efforts to please his father-in-law, and how their relationship slowly started falling apart.

And then you see how they find each other again on the island. How after so many years of miscommunication and hurt, they finally learn to speak truth to each other again. What seem like irreparable cracks in their marriage, the hidden secrets and lies, are finally disclosed -- and healed. It's a beautiful picture of redemption and love -- it's not just about the happy giddy feelings of infatuation, but about the hard work of forgiveness and grace. And it's wonderful seeing it bear fruit in this particular marriage.

Then you get to season four. The major twist in this season is that you get flash-forwards throughout the season -- you know that some people have made it off the island, but you don't know who until near the end of the season, and you certainly don't know what's happened to the rest of the survivors.

Episode 7 of season 4 starts out with Sun in a Korean hospital, about to give birth. You also have flashes of Jin trying frantically to get to the hospital, trying to buy a huge stuffed panda bear and get there in time for the birth.

And then at the end of the episode, you realize that the scenes with Sun were flash-forwards, showing her giving birth to her daughter after she was rescued from the island -- and the scenes with Jin were flashbacks, with him trying to impress his father-in-law's Chinese business contact.

And then you see this heart-wrenching scene:

I wept buckets when I first saw this. Jin's gone? Is he dead? Or was he just left behind on the island? Why isn't he there??

The show is crazy loophole-y enough for you to still hold out hope -- surely Jin is still alive somewhere, just not with his wife and child, right? Right??

And then you get to the season 4 finale. And if you thought that last scene was heart-wrenching, wait until you see this one:

No! No no no, that can't be! The pure anguish on Sun's face really got to me. And again, I wept buckets. After all the growth and hope and joy in Sun and Jin's marriage over the course of four seasons, I couldn't believe he was gone.

So here's why I loved the ending of this week's episode:

Jin's ALIVE!! There's still hope for a family reconciliation!!

Okay, so all of the above clearly shows that I get into my favorite television shows. But I also found the intensity of my reaction to be interesting. I've always been swept up into fictional characters, whether in TV shows or movies or books. And I always react as part of the target demographic -- shedding a tear when Walter Blythe dies in "Rilla of Ingleside," or when Allie finally remembered her husband at the end of "The Notebook." But weeping? That was something new.

And I don't think that's because LOST is just that much greater than anything else I've ever seen or watched. (Though seriously, it's a great show!)

It's really more a function of the fact that I'm married now, and just can't imagine my life without David. I tend to project my own life into the things I'm watching or reading -- and this kind of projection now has devastating effect.

And then David tells me that none of this is real, and that if you squint, you can make out the reflections of the sandwich truck just off-camera... Which makes me giggle and helps restore my equilibrium.

Yet another reason why I love this husband of mine. :)

So watch LOST! And tell me if you're with me on any of this, or if I'm just crazy...

Monday, February 2, 2009

TONS of pictures, now that David's back!

As you all probably guessed from my blogging silence this weekend, David made it back home. :) It's so good to have our home complete again! So in celebration of his return, we're posting tons and tons of pictures, from the retreat and from this past weekend... Enjoy!


David took Zaphod, our new camera, with him on the retreat. Because I couldn't go this year, I asked him to take a few representative pictures. And wow, did he deliver -- he came back with over 2000 pictures! Many of these were continuous shots taken of various action scenes (snow football, basketball games, etc.), and others were part of David's learning curve with the camera, but I love all of them. And I posted 500+ of them on Facebook -- so you can see all of those if you're my Facebook friend. (And I'm an equal opportunity Facebook-friender, so feel free to friend me if we're not already Facebook friends!)

Here are just a few of our favorite pictures from the PEF/Manna winter retreat:

Camp Spofford was beautiful and snow-covered this year -- and got a lot more snow mid-week during the massive storm that hit most of the eastern US.

The main chalet

No need for lifeguards on the very frozen lake...

Some of the awesome action shots David was able to get:

Snow Bowl 2009: seniors vs. underclassmen

Snow tubing (and taking video on the way down!)

The annual PEF vs. Manna basketball game

I just love the motion stop on this one!

Had I gone on the retreat this year, I would have hung out in the chalet all day with these folks:

Melissa teaching Molly how to knit

Playing cards -- I love Alison's "sneaky" face!

Teaching Lydia, age 5, how to "shoot the bunny"

Drew in the second-semester senior thesising zone
(I remember writing the first chapter of my thesis in these very booths...)

And a few photos of other representative retreat happenings:

Mike and David, Manna staff, leading worship

Bill on the grill -- this time making egg McMuffins

Telephone Charades -- the laughter proves my point about this being the best game ever!

It really looks like everyone had a wonderful, refreshing time on the retreat! And I'm seriously considering taking a week's vacation next year to be able to come along...


Sometimes, it really feels like we live in a Norman Rockwell painting. This weekend was one of those times. It's been cold enough long enough for Lake Carnegie to freeze over, so there were a bunch of people out on the lake on Saturday afternoon. We decided to take a photography walk with the express purpose of taking pictures of frozen lake fun. There were kids playing hockey, figure skaters, families taking their babies and their dogs out for a walk -- seriously, Norman Rockwell winter painting material!

The snow-covered tow path, next to the frozen canal


And, of course, we've picked right back up into our regularly scheduled busyness... Yesterday, we helped organize a Superbowl party for the new 20s and 30s ministry at our church. We had a live internet feed of the game (which was, curiously enough, streaming from a Canadian station, complete with Canadian commercials), set up in a local Christian bookstore/coffeehouse. And we brought tons of food... It really is extraordinarily easy to host an event for this crowd. People bring more food than promised, are all great conversationalists, and stick around to help clean up afterwards... It makes for a great party!

And it helps, too, that the Steelers won. :) What an exciting fourth quarter!

Our projection setup

Carrie's seven-layer dip

Matt's sesame chicken drumsticks

Anna, the Cardinals fan

A bitter face-off between a die-hard Cardinals fan and a die-hard Steelers fan
(Anna, next year, I'll make sure to at least learn a few of the players' names beforehand!)

Carrie and Mimi in the food and conversation wing

Matt and Nicole, a lovely engaged couple

You could feel the tension building during the fourth quarter...

The Cardinals fans couch during the last 35 seconds of the game...

There were only actually about six people at the party who really cared about the game... The rest of us were just there to hang out. :) Good times were had by all, though -- we're looking forward to the next big event!