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Today, Drew and I are moving out of our very first apartment. It’s very bittersweet. We’ve grown out of our lovely little place and are aching for more space (think a REAL desk) and the cost of living in Annapolis…well, that’s just a whole other story. We have noisy neighbors, no room for a kitchen table and a laundry machine that only fits 3 pairs of jeans. It’s time to move on.

It wasn’t all cramped and bad, though. This place was where our life together began, where we spent our wedding night, where we learned how to be best friends, where we celebrated our first anniversary. This apartment has seen the creation of uncountable inside jokes, belly laughs, good night kisses and stay-at-home movie nights. This is where I lived while I worked my first real world job, then quit it to pursue a dream. This is where Drew and I learned how to become one: one unit, one love, one family.

We are not just moving; we are moving on. We’re in our second year of marriage (year one seriously flew by) and picking up speed. Good grief, I love that man.

In honor of moving on, I thought I’d share a little of where we came from.

Growing up, our families camped together. This was the era when boys were of no interest to me…and vice versa. I’m around 8 or 9 and Drew is 10 or 11. (Don’t hate on how ridiculous we look.)

We started dating officially in 2005. Here we are at Tom and Renata’s wedding, about a month into dating.

Getting engaged the week of Thanksgiving 2006. Drew proposed at the piano. This isn’t actually a picture of the proposal…it was taken a couple of days earlier (we sat at the piano a lot), but it will give you the idea :) As crazy as this sounds for a photographer, Drew and I only took one picture the night we got engaged and I don’t have a digital copy of it.

August 10, 2007. That was a good day. :)

The last picture is of Drew the day we moved our stuff into the apartment. The first meal we ever ate here together was Wendy’s and, ironically (and not on purpose), so was the last.

Here’s to celebrating the past and moving forward! Cheers!

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Yes, this marks our 100th post on this blog!  According to my math, this means we’ve posted once every 4.11 days since getting married/merging blogs.  We have some friends who blog more often than that, but I think this is a respectable average for us!

Blogging is such a funny thing.  People do it for so many different reasons.  There are politics blogs, gardening blogs, photo blogs, travel blogs, cooking blogs, pastor blogs.  Many of them contain information that’s of tangible use to society.  This blog probably doesn’t fit in that category.  :)

I suppose our blog is sort of like that movie “The Truman Show” where we just share our lives with the general public, and people can “tune in” as they choose.  I guess one difference would be that we’re actually aware that our lives are being documented.  And it’s not documented 24/7.  And we’re not (I think) living in a gigantic reality simulation studio.

So in other words, it’s actually nothing like “The Truman Show”, and this is a terrible analogy!

In any case, this is our life.  Sometimes when I get ready to post something, I think, does anybody really care about this?  But the point is not to keep you people entertained.  (No offense – please still like us!)  This is our attempt to archive our lives, all the significant and even insignificant things.  Even now, I enjoy looking back over our posts from like a year ago, recalling all the nuances of life at that moment, and seeing how life has changed since then.  I hope one day we can show this blog to our kids.  (You know, so they can have proof that we had nothing approaching a real life before they came along.)

So here’s to the first 100, and hopefully hundreds more to come.  Thanks for reading!

If you think that I’m weirder than Drea, well, you’re probably right.  I’m pretty weird.  But perhaps providing a list of the books Drea and I are currently reading will bring newfound insight into our respective weirdness levels.

What I’m reading:

1) “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” – Bill Bryson.  Yet another indication of my growing appreciation for Bryson’s wit.

2) “A Generous Orthodoxy” – Brian McLaren.  His controversy-spurring confession of faith.  Don’t agree with all he says, but fascinated by his innovative take on Christianity.  (I might post on this book later.)

3) “I Am America (And So Can You!)” – Stephen Colbert.  HILARIOUS, and a total guilty pleasure.  I’m OK with it.

So my list is pretty normal right?  OK, here’s what Drea is reading (the first two are pretty normal; the last one will knock your socks off):

1) “A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael” – Elizabeth Elliot.  Sounds like a fascinating biography. Classic Drea book.

2) “Feminine Appeal” – Carolyn Mahaney.  Evidently, a highly beneficial look into Godly womanhood.  She’s actually done reading it, but I threw it in to help you absorb the shock of the next title…

3) “Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park” – Lee H. Whittlesey.  Red flags going up?  I THINK SO.  Ever since our vacation about a month ago, Drea has developed a morbid fascination with people dying in national parks.  After this book, she wants to read a similar one about happy tourists plummeting to their untimely deaths at the Grand Canyon.

People, should I be worried here?  Has my wife gone off the deep end?  Should I exercise more care than usual the next time Drea and I are near a precipitous ledge of some kind?

For good measure, I should mention that we both were fascinated by the Wikipedia article about unusual deaths.  So I guess we’re both weirdos in our own regard.  :)

So Drea and I are going with her parents to Nashville in a few weeks to celebrate her grandmother’s 100th birthday.  (And the woman is still in relatively good health.  Holy crap, right?)

Anyway, since it’s like an 11-hour drive from DC (hell, no), I’ve been trying to figure out the most time- and cost-effective way of getting there.  Flying is way expensive, so I thought, hey, why not take Amtrak?

Until I learned that Nashville doesn’t have an Amtrak station.  That’s right.  Nashville, the Athens of the South, the Country Music Capital of the World, this mainstay city of our land, is obviously not important enough to be serviced by our nation’s main rail transport provider.

This might not seem like such a big deal, but to put it in perspective, here are a few places that DO have Amtrak:

Winnemucca, Nevada

Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Yazoo City, Mississippi

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

What, you’ve never heard of any of these places?  EXACTLY. 

I’m going to try to convince Stephen Colbert to give a wag of the finger to both Nashville and Amtrak for this shameful debacle.  Deterring rail travel is bad for traffic congestion, bad for the environment, and (infinitely more importantly) bad for me because we now have to fork over $300 a piece for airfare!

Drew starts hitting his stomach to the beat. The car begins shaking.

Me: Drew, stop! You’re shaking the car!
Drew: Really? I’m shaking the whole car?
Me: Yes.
Drew: Man, I’m powerful!
Me: Or fat.

**As posted on the photoblog.

Last night at 9:01pm, Renata finally gave birth to sweet Jack!  Drew and I went to the hospital with some of our friends to see Jack for the first time, just an hour after his birth.

Without further ado, here is Jack.

Even though Renata looked fantastic, I want to respect her privacy, so here’s the closest shot you’ll get of mom and baby for now.  :)

I got to hold Jack!  He’s a whopper baby at 8 lbs. and 11 oz!  I could have held that sweet baby forever.  (Thanks for taking this picture Emily!)

Drew, Emily, our friends Patrick and Tif, and I tried to help Tom and Renata celebrate.  While we were waiting for Jack’s appearance, we made a welcome sign.  This actually said “Happy day of birth, Jack!” in it’s full form.

Mom, Dad and baby are doing great! 

Happy birthday, Jack!  We’re so glad you are here!

I’ve personally enjoyed watching Coldplay‘s style and musicianship morph and develop with each of their albums.  2000’s “Parachutes” had a raw, understated feel to it.  2002’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head” could probably be considered their break-out album, with radio hits like “The Scientist”, “In My Place”, and “Politik”.  I was slightly disappointed with 2005’s “X&Y”, which was catchy and certainly crowd-pleasing, but a little predictable.

Enter “Viva la Vida”, in my opinion their best effort yet.  It took me some time to get used to it, which is usually a sign of an eventual favorite album for me.  We downloaded it from iTunes in July, and it wasn’t until a bunch of repeat listens on our vacation in August for me to realize that this album is incredible.

“Viva la Vida” manages to incorporate a great variety of moods and textures without seeming schizophrenic or indecisive.  The bright optimism of “Life In Technicolor”, the dark, aggressive “Cemeteries of London”, the sonic hugeness of “Lost!” (and it’s stripped-down piano-led counterpart “Lost?”), the brooding, in-your-face quality of “Violet Hill”, and the lighter-than-air “Strawberry Swing” are all tied beautifully together.

Coldplay also tactfully borrows from Asian musical traditions, using a Middle East-esque hammered dulcimer in “Life in Technicolor”, seductive Arabic-flavored strings in “Yes”, and an East Asian pentatonic theme in “Strawberry Swing.”  This diverse, world music feel seems to work well, particularly with the album’s peace-oriented political messages.  (“I don’t want to battle from beginning to end, I don’t want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends.”)

I love moments during an first-time listen to album when I’m caught completely off-guard.  There are many such moments on “Viva la Vida”, where you see that Coldplay has taken a significant risk, and then realize the brilliance of the album because they’ve gotten away with it.  I always feel a little let down when I realize that an album was written and produced for the main purpose of cranking out radio singles and filling arenas.  Not so with “Viva la Vida”.  While I’m sure it will have mainstream commercial success, this album stands out.  Coldplay has outdone themselves.

Go.  Buy.  It.  Now.

…Andrea is still around.  And here I am.

Drew’s been hinting recently that I haven’t posted on this blog for some time and something needs to be done about it.  Relishing in a little extra time today, I’m posting.  (Happy, Drew?)

I have been super busy the past month!  I just launched my photography website and have been trying to keep up with my photography blog, in addition to actually BEING a photographer and doing the duties that come with the job.

I’m at home full-time now and LOVING it.  Having just passed our one year anniversary, I think I may have learned some things about wife-ing.  I think the #1 thing I have learned is that I know nothing of wife-ing.  Oh, this little girl has been wrestling with a lot of things this month, in the BEST WAY.

I am reading the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney.  If you are a wife, almost a wife, or have ever entertained the idea of being a wife, you should read this book.  Not only is it excellently written, it is thought-provoking and, more than that, HEART-provoking.  Reading the book, I have been forced to look at myself soberly, all the way down to my smallest motives.  It’s horrifying.  It is sort of like looking at a scary monster in the mirror.  At the same time though, I feel such a hope of change and confidence in God about the kind of woman I want to be.

The book has been one of those life-changing books for me.  You know, the ones that define a particular season of life when you think back.  The kind that speaks directly to the situation you are in.  The one that might as well have been written FOR you RIGHT NOW.

Pair that book with daily visits to the book of Matthew (particularly the Sermon on the Mount, talk about heart changing), day-long listening to Sara Groves (that woman speaks to me), and night-time reading of the biography of Amy Carmichael (the woman who gave up everything – including marriage – to serve as a missionary to the poorest of the poor in India) and you might have a slight idea of how I feel.  Talk about tearing a girl up inside!

It’s difficult, wonderful, overwhelming, frustrating.  But colorful.  And vivid.  Things I have been aching for this past year.  An ice heart melting slowly.  The best kind of life.  I’m back.

This Japanese steakhouse is one of the things we’ll miss most about Annapolis.  It’s about a 45-second drive from our apartment, and we have frequently over-indulged ourselves there.  We used to just go for special occassions, but now we pretty go pretty much every couple of weeks.  And we recently discovered that for $1.50 extra, you can get a double-portion of fried rice.  (A major score, because no joke, it is the best fried rice in the world.)

Sakura is one of those places where the chef cooks all the food on your table right in front of you.  The routine is usually the same: the “volcano” of onion rings, the “egg roll” joke, the twirling and tossing of metal spatulas and knives, and the humorous (I guess) adding of “Japanese” before each noun (i.e. chef pours delicious creamy sauce in your tray – “Ah, Japanese mayonnaise.”  Or chef accidently impales a kid in the face with a kitchen knife – “Ah, Japanese mistake.”)  But the routine never gets old because it comes hand-in-hand with the tastiest Americanized Japanese cuisine money can buy.

We’re pretty much addicted to this place, and I doubt that moving from Annapolis will prevent us from continuing to enjoy it on a regular basis!

As we prepare to move in a few weeks, I thought it’d be fun to reflect on our time living here in Annapolis.  I shall do this by conducting an analysis of certain aspects of Annapolis living, while also paying tribute to (or perhaps ripping off) the comedic genius of the Fail Blog, by assigning each topic one of two rankings: WIN or FAIL.

Downtown: WIN

200-year-old red brick buildings line the streets.  Annapolis isn’t like most state capitals.  Instead of impersonal office buildings, the “skyline” consists of the 236-year-old State House (oldest in the country), tall trees, church steeples, and of course the sailboats on the Chesapeake.  The Naval Academy sits right on the bay, giving the place an established, respectable quality.  We particularly enjoy the gelato and coffee at Aromi d’Italia, the sushi at Joss, and of course breakfast at the timeless Chick & Ruth’s Delly.

Annapolis Mall: FAIL

We live about a quarter-mile from the mall, and have frequently enjoyed the close proximity of such fine dining establishments as Noodles & Co. and Chick Fil-A.  This would have made the mall a “WIN”, but things changed around November, when they opened a huge new section, making our mall the largest in the state, and thereby prompting people from Delaware and Pennslyvania and Yukon Territory to drive to Annapolis to do their Christmas shopping.  The traffic congestion added 10 minutes to our drive home for the whole month of December, and my dislike of our modest-shopping-mall-turned-gargantuan-cesspool-of-consumerism began to take root.  During one particularly lengthly parking-garage-exiting ordeal, I turned to Drea and said with complete sincerity, “I freaking hate this place.”

Sailing Culture: WIN/FAIL

Yes, this is a two-sided story.  Annapolis is sometimes called (fanfare, please) the “sailing capital of the world.”  While this may sound like a slight exaggeration (San Diego or Sydney seem to have a more legitimate claim on that title), there certainly is a distinguishable sailing theme in Annapolis.  The harbor is beautifully littered with sailboats of all shapes and sizes.  There are boating shops all over the place.  Our freaking apartment complex is called Regatta Bay.  This is definitely a sailing town.  Which I like.  Gives the place a nice old-fashioned seaport feel.  The flipside, however, is that we also have what I’ll call “sailboat snobs.”  These people are ridiculously rich, and are happy to drop untold amounts of cash on a pimped-out sailboat, not necessarily so they can enjoy sailing, but so they can sit in the downtown marina (aptly nicknamed “Ego Alley”) and watch passersby envy their wealth.  It’s quite a spectacle.

All things considered, we’ve loved living in good old Naptown, and even though we’re only moving half an hour away, it will be a little sad to say goodbye to our first apartment (which we love) and the memories we’ve made here.

But we’re excited about the next phase of life too.  Drea’s parents are going to rent out their basement to us for significantly less than we’re currently paying to live in our apartment.  While having our own place for the past year has been great, this will really help up to save some more money to buy a house.  We’ll also be closer to pretty much everything (church, friends, parents, etc.).  Plus, Drea’s mom’s cooking is the bomb, so hopefully we’ll score some benefits there too!

Even though we don’t have a whole lot, God has certainly shown His faithfulness to us this first year.  We have everything we truly need right now, and are excited about what’s to come!