A Valentine’s Day Survey

…because everybody likes taking surveys 😀  Feel free to re-post and answer for yourself…or answer any/all the questions in the comments section!

1. Valentine’s Day:  Love it, hate it, or something in between?
I don’t have super strong feelings towards the day.  If you have a significant other, celebrate together;  if not, it’s not a big deal.  I really don’t get the whole, “Singles Awareness Day” thing, and I didn’t when I was single either!  It’s like Mothers’ Day.  We childless women don’t turn it into “Childless Awareness Day”–the holiday simply doesn’t apply to me at this point in my life.

2. Most memorable Valentine’s Day you’ve had so far (good or bad)?
Two years ago Andrew had to have a minor surgery… on Valentine’s Day.  I spent the day in the waiting room, driving to the drug store, and playing nurse while Andrew came down from his pain medication high.  Yaaay. 😉  He did think ahead and bring me flowers and chocolate the day before.

3. Do you have a Valentine this year?  If so, who is it?
Andrew, my handsome husband.

Catherine & Andrew Storey

4. Favorite love songs (cheesy or not)?
“I’ll Stand by You” by The Pretenders
“(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” by Bryan Adams
So good.  So cheesy.  Don’t care.  😀

5. Worst pickup line you’ve ever received or used?  (And did it work?)
-A (very inebriated) guy walked up to me at a bar one time and said, “We’ll have to think of a different story to tell the kids.  We don’t want them to know we met at a bar.”  It didn’t work.
-My junior year in college I was studying at Panera one afternoon, and a guy walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, I don’t usually do this, but I was just noticing you from across the room…”  Once I realized he was serious, I was flattered and went on a date with him.

6. What’s your favorite gift to receive on Valentine’s Day?
Flowers.  Cliche?  Maybe, but I love flowers.  Chocolate is a close second.

7. If you were a conversation heart, what would you say?
I think I’d just be a winky face:  “;-)”

8. Favorite flower?
Tulips.

9. Favorite candy?
I’m a chocolate girl.  I love anything mint chocolate or sea salt caramel chocolate.  Mmm…

10. Most meaningful way someone could show you they love you?
Quality time.  Simply taking time to do something with me is better than any gift in my book!

11. How are you planning to spend tonight?
Andrew and I are having a nice dinner at home–we are making steaks, sweet potatoes, and green beans, with chocolate fondue for dessert!

IMG_4043Rice Krispie treats for the fondue… but we may have already eaten a few 😀

Happy Valentine’s Day!

-Tell me your answers to any or all of the questions above!

Advertisements

Late Wedding Photos + This Week Randomness

This week has been a bit hectic, so I haven’t had much time to blog.    Here’s a quick recap of our week, as told mostly by the photos on my phone:

1.

Jenny1Andrew’s sister, Jenny, is in town from Denver this week, and it’s been so great to spend time with her!!  In the photo above, Andrew is giving her the extensive tour of our garden.  We’ve also been able to do dinner a few nights, and we convinced her to come to yoga with us last night. 😀  We love you, Jenny!

2.

datenightdinner

For date night dinner Saturday we opted for (mostly) convenience– Applegate Farms chicken tenders (GF nuggets for Andrew), Alexia spicy sweet potato fries, and roasted beets.  Mmm.  I love to cook, but sometimes you just need to pull a box out of the freezer.

3.

heart monitor

I’ve been having weird heart palpitations the last few weeks, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday to get it checked out.  It’s probably nothing serious, but they hooked me up to this lovely heart monitor (there are five more electrodes stuck to me in places you can’t see…all I can say is, “TGISS”–thank God it’s scarf season. ;-)) I had to wear it for 24 hours and record when the palpitations occurred and very specifically what I was doing.  How did my dear, loving Andrew respond to this?  He tried to do as many weird things as possible so that if a palpitation occurred I’d have to record, “Having my face licked,” or “Watching my husband dance with a shirt tied around his head.”  (He did not succeed, so I did not have to write anything weird :-D).  Anyway, I should get the results within a week, but, again, I’m not super worried, so you shouldn’t be either (I’m talking to you, Daddy ;-)).

4.

 bobcat goat1

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I love goats and that there is this beautiful park in Richmond (Maymont) that has goats and other animals.  My friend Kate and I walked there yesterday for exercise and to enjoy the fantastic fall weather.  In addition to the goats, we were able to see the bobcat, which I had never seen there before!  It usually stays in the indoor part of its habitat.  Very cool. 🙂

Kate took our late bridal/wedding photos a few weeks ago, and she gave me the disc with all the photos yesterday when we got together.  They. Look. Awesome.  Here are some of my favorites (sorry in advance for the photo overload) :

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey   Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey

A huge thanks to our friend Katie for giving us this photo shoot as our wedding gift, and thanks to Kate for being so talented and working with us!  After doing this, I think everyone should take after-the-fact wedding photos–no wedding day stress, no rush to get to the reception so guests aren’t waiting, a chance to put that dress back on… 🙂  Yeah, we waited a while to actually take them, but we don’t look that different from our wedding day, and I know ten years from now we won’t be able to notice the 1.5 year age difference.

You can check out more of Kate’s work here.

That’s been our week (so far) in a nutshell.  Have a great Thursday!

-Has anyone else taken late bridal portraits/wedding photos?
-Heart palpitations: have you ever experienced them?  Were they anything serious?

Heaven’s Gain

On July 4, I awoke around 8:00 AM.  I made breakfast, poured my cup of coffee, and sat down at the computer to write a blog entry that I never posted (or finished.)  Around 8:20 AM my phone rang.  When I saw that it was my dad, I knew it was the call that I had been expecting and dreading.

My sweet grandmother passed away in the early hours of this Fourth of July.  She was 90, and lived the fullest life a person could dream of living.

At some point in the coming weeks I will write a tribute that hopefully conveys, in some small way, the greatness of this woman, but this morning I am not emotionally ready to do so (and writing such a piece is a task that will take weeks, not minutes or hours.)  For this morning, I will simply share what I posted to Facebook yesterday:

Heaven gained an incredible lady early this morning. Words cannot do Grandma Tudor justice, and those of you who knew her (or have heard my infinite stories about her) know what I mean by that. She always loved and served wholeheartedly, putting herself before no one–family, friends, or complete strangers. After battling Alzheimer’s in her final years, today is truly a day of freedom for her. We miss her tremendously, but we know that she is (probably line-dancing) with God today.

If you had the pleasure of knowing my grandmother, please feel free to share your favorite memories here. ❤

GrandmaTudor

What followed was an unbelievable outpouring of love, memories, and testimonies of how this tiny lady had touched so many lives.  My friend Katie wrote:

“I don’t think I have ever told you this but Grandma Tudor is who I envision when I think of Mother Theresa…everything I have read about her was embodied in your grandma: loving, always busy taking care of the poor, full of wisdom, but delightfully humorous and full of spunk! I hope they are in heaven swapping stories right now!”

(Katie: thanks for bringing me to tears when I read this as well as ever time that I’ve reread it. ;-))

grandmatudor

 I know there will be plenty more tears shed in the coming weeks, but as my sister said yesterday, we are the only ones crying… not Grandma.

Thanks to everyone for the love, encouragement, and kind words on what was a very tough day yesterday.  We take comfort in knowing that Grandma Tudor is finally free from the darkness that is Alzheimer’s and dancing with her Heavenly Father!

One Year

One year ago today, I married my best friend.  I know everyone uses that terminology (“married my best friend,”) but I mean it.

Tudor & Storey Wedding

We had a gorgeous day in April (every other weekend that month was rainy and cold.)  The months leading up to the wedding had been rough in other areas of life, but with the help of family and friends, everything came together perfectly for the day.  I walked down the aisle to a song written and played by our friends Chelsea and Josh.  The flowers in the bouquets were grown and arranged by Andrew’s cousins Stuart and Alice.  We truly could not have done it without the help of, oh, everyone we know. 🙂

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding Tudor & Storey Wedding

Tudor & Storey Wedding

 

(Photos by Rob Jefferson and Kate Magee Photography)

It’s hard to believe an entire year has passed since that day.  So what have I learned in one year of marriage?  First, the power of apologizing and forgiveness.  There is nothing like marriage, being with someone every single day, to bring out the faults in both parties.  Being quick to say, “I’m sorry,” even if it’s only for a snippy comment made while in a bad mood, goes a long way… as does not holding something over the other person’s head or guilt-tripping.

The second thing I’ve learned in marriage (and I use the word, “learned” loosely; it’s more of a “learning process,”) is the value of putting the other person first.  By nature, we are self-serving beings.  When I come home from work, I want to sit on the couch and watch TV, or read a book, or do something that want to do.  But what if there’s a pile of dishes in the sink?  If I choose not to do them (which would by my preference 100% of the time,) Andrew will likely end up doing them.  If I choose to think of him first, suck it up, and just clean the dishes, then Andrew will have a chance to relax.  Sometimes I choose to serve myself, and sometimes I choose to serve him;  when I put him first though, I never regret it (and I bet he’d say the same thing about putting me first.)  Marriage, love, requires sacrifice.

Our marriage is far from perfect (as is any marriage, I assume,) but I sure do love that guy.  I wouldn’t trade the last year of my life for anything, and I look forward to 75 more (I’m optimistic ;-))

Andrew, thanks for letting me fall asleep on you on the couch most weeknights and for letting me hug you at inconvenient times (“It’s your cooking dinner hug.”)  Most of all, thank you for loving me so well all the time.  I love you… Happy Anniversary!

 

 

Et Tu, Dairy?

At 4:15 Wednesday afternoon I was enjoying frozen yogurt with the youth group.  At 5:15 I curled myself into a ball on the couch.

At 5:00 Thursday afternoon I made a snack that was a favorite among my college housemates–salsa+cream cheese+shredded cheese, melted and blended, eaten with tortilla chips.  At 6:00 I curled myself into a ball on the couch.

At 6:01 that day Andrew insisted that I place this note on the refrigerator:

 

Dairy

 

 

Andrew has been telling me for over a year that dairy is to blame for my somewhat regular stomach discomfort.  I thought it was a “misery loves company” kind of thing, but the evidence is becoming too compelling to ignore.  I halfheartedly gave up dairy a few months ago, but the thought of never eating ice cream again brought me back.  The problem, I think, was that I didn’t set a time limit on it, and that made it seem overwhelming.

So, with all this in mind, starting today I am embarking on a 30-day dairy-free challenge.

If I don’t notice a difference in the way I feel after 30 days, I will welcome dairy back into my life with open arms.  This is not going to be easy for me, especially as we enter ice cream season (…nah, ice cream is an all-season kind of food 😉 )  I do already eat some things dairy-free–when I last attempted to give it up I made the permanent switch to soy milk, and most dinners we cook are dairy-free (although I might put cheese on my tacos.)

I will leave you with a related joke from my favorite comedian, Brian Regan:

“I have to lay off the dairy though.  That’s what my doctor threw in as I was leaving the office: ‘Oh, and uh, lay off dairy!’  I’m like, what the…?  What kind of blanket sweep is that?  He should have just said, ‘And no more happiness!'”

😀

Family, Flowers, and Yoga (Valentine’s Days)

We spread our Valentine’s Day over a few days this year, and every component was awesome.  Here’s what the last few days entailed:

Andrew and I have no problem celebrating events not on the actual day, so our plan was to celebrate V-Day on Wednesday the 13th.  The primary reason?  We just joined a gym, and they offered a yoga class on Wednesday night, and I really wanted to try it!  Andrew agreed to go with me, for Valentine’s Day.  If that’s not love as I described in my last post, I don’t know what is 😉

First, we grabbed a quick dinner at Whole Foods.

Andrew wf           wf

Then we made our way to yoga– Andrew’s first time, and my first time in years (and maybe fourth time ever.)  Despite being the worst in the class, we both enjoyed the experience and will probably do it again.  At the beginning of class the instructor urged us to focus on how we felt as opposed to how we looked because everyone looks different during yoga.  Throughout class I was glad she clarified that because with my eyes closed, this is how I felt:

chairpose

When I opened my eyes and looked in the wall-to-wall mirrors, this is what I actually looked like:

?????????????????????????

Minus the nakedness and excess body hair, of course.

On the 14th, we received Valentines from each of our Mamas (thanks, Mama and Donna!)  That night Andrew had a basketball game (he plays in a church league,) but first, he brought home flowers.

DSCN7435   DSCN7439 DSCN7440        DSCN7443

Now, when I say to Andrew, “Don’t get me anything for Valentine’s Day,” I mean it.  I really do.  If he gave me absolutely nothing, he would not be in the proverbial doghouse.  However, I do love flowers, and every year I am thankful when he gives me a bouquet anyway 🙂

photo      photo (1)

Andrew played very well in his basketball game (they won,) and I had some quality time with the other wives and kids in the bleachers.

photo (2)Sinking a free throw.

Later that night, my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces spent the night with us on their way through town.  It was late when they arrived, and Kendall and Lauren were in that funny, tired-but-silly-and-about-to-crash-hard stage.  Exhibits A-D:

photo (3)   photo (4) photo (5)   photo (6)Their hair in all its car seat nap glory 😀

The next morning, we awoke to the sound of children who do not yet know the beauty of sleeping late when possible, and we quickly discovered how child-unfriendly our house is (“Where’s your swing set?”)

Unfortunately, they couldn’t stay long, and they packed up soon after breakfast… But not before squeezing in some quality time with Uncle Ross:

photo (7)(Please note Lauren’s wet, tangled hair in this photo.  When Whitney began brushing it, Lauren frowned, covered her eyes with her hands, and said, “Tell me when it’s over.” :-D)

Family, flowers, and yoga… I could not have asked for a better Valentine’s Day(s!)

Love is a Big Bucket of Fried Chicken

“What comes to mind when you think of Valentine’s Day?”

This is the question I asked the middle school youth group on Sunday as a lead-in to a lesson about love–specifically love as an action word.  I received many of the answers I’d anticipated: chocolate, flowers, hearts, etc.

One girl raised her hand and said, “A big bucket of fried chicken!”  I laughed (who thinks of fried chicken when they think of Valentine’s Day?) and asked if that was a family tradition.  She shook her head, no.  Then I asked, “…or would that just be a good way for someone to show you they cared about you?”  She nodded her head with a big grin and wide “I love fried chicken” eyes.

As a side note, this is a prime example of why I love middle school youth.  You never know what they are going to say.  You think you know, but you don’t.

I laughed to myself and mentally filed that gem away as Reason # 5723 why I love middle schoolers, but as I reflected on it later it occurred to me that what this girl said went deeper than the bottom of the bucket.  In fact, she pointed to the very core of our lesson on love.

Dr. Gary Chapman is a world renowned expert on love and marriage.  In his book The Five Love Languages he describes five general categories, or “languages,” in which we communicate love: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts.  The idea is that every person speaks one or two of these languages stronger than any of the others, and when that person is loved in that particular language, they feel especially loved.

For example, a person whose primary love language is words of affirmation might melt upon receiving a sappy love note for Valentine’s Day, whereas a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts might think, “Are you kidding me? Where are the roses?  Where are the chocolates?”  Someone whose love language is quality time might feel most loved by taking a walk together; a physical touch person would need to hold hands on that walk to feel really loved.  Someone whose love language is acts of service might feel most loved if their spouse watches the kids so they can take a walk by themselves.

I have found this concept to be true, not only in marriage, but in non-romantic relationships as well.  Regardless of a person’s love language, however, I think the underlying truth is this:

Love is a choice.

Love is an action word.  In John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  You see, Christ demonstrated the greatest love by dying on the cross for us.   Love doesn’t get any more true than that.

There’s no question that when God commands us to love our neighbor and love our enemy, He is not suggesting we attempt to conjure up a warm fuzzy feeling toward them, but rather that we choose to love them in an active way.  In the same way that Christ loved us by laying down His life for us, we must love others by choosing to lay down our lives and put them first.

I don’t scrub the toilets because I enjoy doing so;  I do it because… oh, who am I kidding?  I don’t scrub the toilets.  Better example: Andrew doesn’t scrub the toilets because he enjoys doing so;  he does it as an act of love, because doing so means that I don’t have to.  And I hate scrubbing the toilets.

Loving someone could mean taking them on a picnic.  It could mean giving them flowers.  It could mean doing the dishes. Giving them a foot massage.  Cooking dinner.  Writing them a heartfelt note.  Sitting on the couch and talking.  Holding hands.  Telling them you are proud of them.  Buying them an unexpected gift.  Taking out the trash.  Answering the phone when they need to talk.  Giving them a ride when their car is in the shop (even if it requires you to wake up 30 minutes early.)

Loving someone could simply mean putting a big bucket of fried chicken on the table for dinner because you know they’ll love it.

DSCN7414

Today–and tomorrow, the next day, and so on–I challenge you to love the people around you.  To lay down your life for theirs.

It’s easier said than done, I know, but what a beautiful example we have in the One who laid down His life for us.