Saturday, November 24, 2012


By the time we arrive in Virginia for Christmas, it'll have been a year since I was last home.  It's kind of crazy, considering when I was single and lived in New Orleans, I found my way back to Virginia for any number of reasons... Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, weddings, bridal showers, etc.  But marriage and moving changes things- now there's 2 plane tickets to buy, 2 states full of people we love, 2 futures to save money for... and you know, the occasional cruise to go on.

All this to say, we didn't make it back home for Thanksgiving.  Of course, we were sad to miss out on time with our families and friends,  but we made the most of it.

We- along with the rest of Tampa, apparently- went to Cracker Barrel for lunch.  Seriously, it was crazy packed!

Can't go to Cracker Barrel without playing this game!
My meal- some of my faves- ham, green beans, and mac and cheese!
Cori's meal- the Thanksgiving special. Ham, turkey, green beans, stuffing, sweet potato, and biscuits- all for $8, I might add!

Dessert- SO yummy!  Pumpkin pecan streusel pie.

pretty much amazing.

 After our feast, we went camping.  We'd been talking for years about going camping, and we decided to take advantage of the long weekend to do it.  We drove out to Fort Desoto Park for the night and had a wonderful time.  We decided that next time, we'll have to stay a bit longer and bring some friends.

Our tent :)

Sooooooo... we didn't realize that in order to have a fire pit, you have to rent one from the camp store.  We didn't get there in time to do that, so we made do with this.  

Hot dogs = classic


....and dessert! Somehow s'mores are the best thing EVER when you're camping. Delicious!

me and my tentmate for the night :)

Definitely not your traditional Thanksgiving, but definitely wonderful all the same.  We have soaked up the long weekend with lots of quality time together, doing some shopping, movie-watching, sleeping in, reading.... and it's only Saturday!  We're heading off soon to play frisbee golf and then cash in on a gift card for dinner at Carrabba's.

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

pretty much the perfect weekend.

After the non-stop fun in New Orleans and then jumping right back into a week of work, I was more than ready for some quality down-time with the hubs this weekend.  And I'll be honest... it was pretty perfect.

Friday included Chick-fil-a, asparagus, and smoothies, not to mention the newest episodes of the Office, Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock, a good book (Insurgent, because yes, I do highly enjoy young adult literature), and an early bed time.

Saturday started off slow- sleeping in, going for a run, prayer time with Cori, and more reading.  But then we decided to take advantage of Tampa's streetcar, which was celebrating its 10 year anniversary with free streetcar rides.  We spent the afternoon/early evening riding the streetcar, walking by the bay, and eating dinner at a cute little restaurant called the Fly- which had some AMAZING shrimp and grits.

streetcar = love.  also, we met some new orleanians who were in town for the game!

streetcar celebration special = buy one get one free ice cream at coldstone! YUM!


I love living by the water!

We ended our Saturday night with a couple episodes of Friday Night Lights.  Perfect!  

Sunday morning started normally- we got up and went to church.  Buuuuuut we left a little early so we could go to the SAINTS GAME!  My sweet, sweet husband bought us tickets so we could watch the Saints play the Bucs and the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.  He also brilliantly decided we should avoid the costs and craziness of the parking lot, so we parked our cars in a nearby parking lot and rode our bikes to the stadium.  I'm honestly not sure what my frugal hubby was more excited about- the game, or our free front-row parking!

The game was AWESOME!  It was a little crazy in the 4th quarter and it took my heart beat a while to beat at a normal pace, but we WON and it was so wonderful.  I will say, it was weird to be at a Saints game with so many people cheering against the Saints- not to mention a little confusing for me, since with things like penalties I tend to just cheer when other people cheer since I don't completely understand- but it was SO fun.  The Raymond James Stadium is beautiful- Cori especially loved it- but we will definitely be sporting some sunburn this week.  I miss the air-conditioned Superdome!

Who Dat fans!

What's that?  Up by 7 at half-time?  Don't mind if we do!



Oh yeah... one advantage to cheering for the visiting team?  As we were walking back to our bikes, we noticed a crowd of people standing by the buses the Saints had arrived in.  We waited for about 45 minutes and our patience was rewarded because LOOK WHO WE SAW!

Yep!  That's my boy, Drew!

He signed our cup!  I'm just a little excited here...

Ahhhhhh it was just all so wonderful!  And of course, I had to cap off the day with a picture of our black and gold sporting kitten...


As always, the weekend went by way to fast, but I've got to say... it was pretty terrific. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

home sweet nola.

Last week, I went home.  

'Home' is a confusing word for me to use, because it could mean any number of cities and states- Tampa, FL; Richmond, VA; or New Orleans, LA.  And while all 3 are definite homes for me, this time, I mean New Orleans.  And the thing is, it will always be home to me.  I will always feel a familiar sense of belonging when I see the New Orleans skyline, I will always crave Snoballs when it's hot outside, I will always cheer on the Saints, and I will always love the precious city I spent five years living in.

But I digress.  One of my best friends in the world, Kim, got married last Saturday, so I took off two days of work and flew to NOLA on Wednesday night.  It was so precious to be there a few days early; because of the distance, I missed out on so many of the little parts of Kim's engagement and wedding planning, so it was such a joy to do random, insignificant things like go with her and her parents to drop off welcome bags for the out of town guests or help put together the bags of cookies they gave as favors.

We got manicures, ate poboys with her and Matt's arriving family, went to a food truck festival, and spent time at the Willow house.  Oh the Willow House... I lived there with Kim for three years before getting married, and having time with her and my precious former roommates, Amy (who got married after living there one year with us), and Laura (who moved in after Amy moved out), and of course, Katie (who was never actually my roommate but I've known forever and moved into my room when I moved), was just wonderful.  

I also managed to squeeze in time with two other precious New Orleans friends- a walk with my friend Shannon and her son Noah, brunch (and a ride to the airport to pick up Cori!) with my friend and favorite former co-worker, Sara.  I just love those friends!

Friday night we went to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  This is the only picture of me from that night, and shocker, I'm hanging out with a small child... also known as Ava, Kim's ridiculously adorable niece and flower girl.

I'm pretty sure she's giving me advice on something really serious.

After a sweet rehearsal and delicious dinner, we headed to the Columns to meet up with more friends.  The Columns is this beautiful, historic building and one of the classiest places to get a drink in New Orleans.  We actually returned there on Saturday morning for Kim's bridal brunch...

All the Willow House Girls! Laura, Amy, Kim, Katie, Me
The rest of the day was spent doing a little shopping and then getting ready for that night's festivities.  Kim and Matt got married at the beautiful Opera Guild.  Again, sadly, I have very few pictures, but hopefully I can post a few once Kim's photographer posts them.

me, Tori, Lindsay

As the wedding party was made up only of family members, Kim sweetly asked me to pass out programs, and let me say- this was pretty much the perfect job to give the girl who's moved away and hasn't seen anyone in a while because I got to be the first one to see some of my favorite friends.  After a high-pitched greeting and huge hug, my friend Arthur commented that I was a great greeter... but don't worry Kim, I was civilized with your family. ;)

After a wonderful ceremony, we enjoyed a fabulous reception, full of yummy food and dancing.  Lots of dancing!  And I have to share this... Kim and Matt invited Red, the 83 year old neighbor who lives across the street from the Willow House.  Red has been the kindest, sweetest neighbor... he always sits on his front porch and I think has adopted himself as the unofficial grandpa of all the Willow House girls.  At the reception, he told Cori to sit next to him and instructed him to take care of me.  He was just too precious for words and I'm pretty sure that this wedding was one of the highlights of his year.  Love it.

Katie and Red

Sunday morning, Cori and I went to Redeemer Presbyterian Church and then out to lunch with some of our favorite friends- Katie, Laura, Corey, Carl, and the Kostrzewa clan- Melanie, Ken, Avery (2 years old) and Eliza (4 months old).  I'm pretty much in love with these friends AND I'm just a little obsessed with Babylon, the restaurant where we ate.  I'm telling you, few things make me happier than a chicken schwarma with home-baked bread from Babylon.  Yum!

We spent some quality time with the Kostrzewas and other friends from my relief team- Danielle, her hubby Andrew, and Adelle.  And of course, we took a little walk so we could get a snack...


It was a non-stop trip, and I was exhausted this week... but it was worth every bit.  New Orleans... I will never get over you.  I just won't. :)

Speaking of which- we're going to the Saint's game tomorrow!  They play the Buccaneers here in Tampa, so we're donning our black and gold and cheering on our boys.  Who Dat!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Labor Day weekend

Phew.  I finally got to sleep in this morning, and it was glorious!  The last few weeks have been hectic, and every morning this week I would wake up and think, "I can't wait until Saturday morning when I don't have to get out of bed until I want to..."  I took this ambition seriously, and even though I woke up a little after 8am, I went back to sleep until 10:30.  It was glorious.

This relaxing weekend is a stark contrast from my weekend in New Orleans two weeks ago, and the whirlwind road trip Cori and I took last weekend.  Every Labor Day weekend, some of Cori's closest friends from Virginia Tech gather at a lake house in Tennessee, owned by one of his friend's parents.  We went two years ago and had the BEST time.  This was pre-marriage, pre-engagement, and this weekend was my first real introduction to his Tech friends.  It was so fun getting to know them and to see the ways they delighted in Cori.  Thankfully, I passed their inspection and was allowed to continue to date Cori. ;)  It was also a particularly fun getaway for me and Cori; we'd recently moved from talking about if we got married and started talking more confidently about it being a matter of when.

Unfortunately, due to the craziness of last summer- getting married, moving, starting new jobs- we missed out on this fun time.  This year, we were determined to make it happen. I wasn't able to get off work early on Friday, so we didn't leave Tampa until 7pm that night.  After a looong drive (and by long, I mean 7 hours, and Cori drove the whole way and I napped for a good chunk of it- oops!) we arrived in Atlanta.  Two of Cori's best friends, Seth and Tram, recently moved there.  It was great to spend the night with them and get some quality time the next morning.  Seth was one of Cori's groomsmen, and I'd forgotten how ridiculous Cori gets when he's with his college buddies.  This picture shows a glimpse...

Seth was the first one to put on this shirt, but when Cori realized he'd packed it, he excitedly put in on- and similar shorts- so he could match with Seth.  Let me tell you, it was REAL fun to go out to lunch with the Bobbsey twins. ;)

Dorchas (another VT friend who was visiting Seth and Tram that weekend), Tram, Seth, Cori, and me

We left Atlanta around 1pm, and made it to Tennessee by 6 that evening.  Unfortunately, we somehow managed to take absolutely NO pictures during this time, so you'll just have to imagine with me.  The rest of our group was already there- Paul & Cynthia, Cynthia's sister Julia, Gonzo & Sarah, Pete, and Jesse.  We drove into Nashville that night for dinner.  I really enjoyed walking around after dinner; Nashville reminds me of New Orleans in some ways- just a lot of culture and uniqueness there.

Sunday morning the boys headed out to play frisbee golf (which is pretty much Cori's favorite activity in the world) while the ladies lounged around the lake house.  It was so wonderful to spend the day relaxing amongst friends- I chatted with the girls, went for a run, read a good book (Divergent- it's a sci-fi young adult book, akin to the Hunger Games books- an engaging read, but not as good as the Hunger Games, in my opinion), and after the rain cleared up, played in the lake.  The boys played 'King of the Raft,' which basically entailed trying to be on top of the raft and throwing off anyone who got in their way.  This is an intense game for these boys, to the extent that Paul shared that he'd added to his workout routine over the past month in preparation.  SO hilarious to watch!

One of the funniest parts of the evening was our game of Balderdash.  I don't know what it is about this game, but every time we play it with Cori's friends, we just about die of laughter. 

Monday morning we said our goodbyes and took the 12 hour trek back to Tampa.  It was a long drive, but it was definitely worth it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

oh my nola...

August 24-26 I had the enormous joy of going to one of my favorite places in the world: New Orleans!  It was a quick trip; I got in on Friday night around 11and left Sunday evening at 8:30.  The nice thing is, I'm heading back in October for one of my best friends' (Kim!) weddings, so I didn't feel a huge amount of pressure to do everything and see everyone.  

I met up with Kim, Laura, and Katie at the airport.  Kim and Laura were my roommates in the Willow House, and Katie is a dear friend from growing up who has since moved to New Orleans.  She actually took my place in the Willow House when I got married... because as sad as I was to leave my roommies, most people recommend you live with your husband- even if he doesn't have cute shoes in your size and sassy accessories. ;)  I spent the first half of the weekend just soaking up the Willow House girls... laughing, chatting, walking around Uptown, doing a few wedding errands with Kim... and of course, getting  chicken schwarmas from Babylon!

SO much happiness right here!  I miss this sandwich so much!

Then, we headed out for our main event of the evening: a girls' night out in honor of Kim, who's wedding is less than 2 months away!  After a year of living with a boy, I forgot how much fun it is to get ready with other girls... we seriously spent 2 hours getting ready.  SO much fun!  Then we enjoyed a yummy dinner at Domenico's and headed to the Goldmine to dance it up.  We topped the evening off by spending the night at a swanky hotel in the French Quarter.  Wonderful!

Katie, Corey, Kim, Laura, me, and Maria

Sunday morning, Kim and I walked around the Quarter, looking at some of the fun shops and checking out the revamped French Market.  My super healthy breakfast that morning?  Diet coke, a praline, and 3 beignets.  Was it delicious?  You bet!  Did I experience a sugar crash later in the afternoon!  Absolutely! ;)

I enjoyed a late lunch with Katie and our friend Arthur at Parkway Bakery and Tavern, which has some of the best po'boys in the city.  LOVE their shrimp po-boy!  Afterwards, we had a mini-relief team reunion and I got to see Danielle and her hubby Andrew, Mel and Ken, and these two cuties....

Avery, you are ADORABLE!

Meeting sweet Miss Eliza Page was a definite highlight of the trip!
Soon afterwards, it was time to head back to Tampa.  Thankfully, there were no problems with my flight; I had initially been worried about Hurricane Isaac keeping me from getting back to Cori, but all was well.  Of course, Isaac caused many to evacuate NOLA, which was crazy.  My friends were fine, but had to deal with power being out for a while.

My weekend in NOLA was wonderful- so lovely to have some quality girl time with my friends there.  I will say, it was weird at times to be somewhere that used to be so my home- but it wasn't anymore.  Anyone else experience that after moving away?  I'm sure I felt that way after first leaving Virginia, but it's been so long.

It's hard to believe that it was just a week and a half ago that I was in New Orleans for the weekend!  Things have been busy, busy around here!  Seriously, I got back into to Tampa around 11 pm on a Sunday night and we've hardly stopped since then.  Cori did some public health surveillance for the Republican National Convention that was in town, so last week he worked from 3pm to 11pm, which meant that we were basically ships passing in the night.  And then last Friday, the moment I got off of work we headed out for a Labor Day weekend road trip- which I'll have to detail more in another post!  We're thankful for a chill week and weekend ahead.

I'll end with some lyrics from Harry Connick Jr's song, 'Oh my NOLA...'

Oh my Nola
Old and true and strong
Just like a tall magnolia tree
Sit me in the shade
And I'm right where I belong
Oh my New Orleans
Wait for me

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

finding love in a hopeless place.

I'm big into anniversaries.  I amuse Cori by keeping him updated on a million little anniversaries: our first kiss (the night the Saints won the NFC championship game in 2010), the night he first asked me out (December 16, 2009, after a sushi dinner celebrating Laura's birthday), the day we moved away from New Orleans (Saturday, July 30, 2011), and on and on.  I'm not exactly sure why I care about these things; I think I just like to give weight to the events of life by remembering them.  And especially with the more profound anniversaries, like that of the Virginia Tech shootings, I want to talk about them so that others will remember and honor the sacredness of these days, too.  So, just as Cori remembers with me the anniversary of our first time going to church in Tampa, will you join with me in remembering one of the most profound anniversaries?

Tomorrow marks the 7 year anniversary of an event that forever changed my life.  On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf and changed everything.  Over 1,800 lives were lost.  The devastation was so impossibly far-reaching.

I've been sitting here for 10 minutes, typing and re-typing, unable to communicate what it was like after the storm.  I was in Pass Christian, Mississippi for a week 4 months after the storm, and then moved to New Orleans 7 months later.  Houses were on train tracks.  Cars were in houses. The dreary X with numbers that signified that houses had been searched for survivors (or bodies) marked houses everywhere.  Neighborhoods that you knew had once bustled with life were like ghost-towns.

It was devastating.  And while I do want to remember that, what I want to focus on is this: I saw Jesus there.  Forgive the irony of quoting Rihanna in such a serious post, but it's true- I found love in a hopeless place.  And while it's true that I did meet Cori in New Orleans, what I mean in this moment is that I found Jesus.  I saw Him everywhere.  I saw Him in the quiet servitude of the people we worked with in Pass Christian.  I saw Him in the strength of New Orleanians, determined to rebuild.  I saw Him in the laughter of my teammates.  I saw Him in the story of Aldo, one of the first homeowners we helped, who rescued people on his boat when the levees broke.  I saw Him in Augustine, our friend who spoke confidently of the Lord's love, despite the fact that she'd lost her mother and her husband to Katrina.  I saw Him in the ways my heart, beat down after a rough senior year of college, started to come alive again.  I saw Him in the homes we gutted, the churches I attended, the volunteers who selflessly came to help, and the children I taught.

You only have to go as far as the weather forecast that predicts that Hurricane Isaac will make landfall in New Orleans at 1am on the 7th anniversary of Katrina to remember that we live in a broken world.  But what I know to be true is that God's goodness is over it all.  My life verse, my Katrina verse, is Jeremiah 31:3-4.  

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again,
    and you, Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. 
Again you will take up your timbrels 
    and go out to dance with the joyful. 

Tonight, as I pray for my friends and the city that will always hold a piece of my heart, I am choosing to believe in God's everlasting love.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

thoughts on marriage.

I met Cori in August 2009.  At the time, I had no idea how important that cute boy at the Bulldog would become.

In August 2010, Cori had just gotten back from spending two months in Ecuador, and our conversations turned from if we would get married, to when we would get married.

In August 2011, Cori and I were newly married and embarking on a brand new season of life.  We had left behind our schools (Cori, as a master's student, me as a teacher), our homes, our friends, our favorite restaurants- pretty much everything familiar- to move to Tampa for Cori's fellowship job with the CDC.

And it was hard.  Really, really hard.  The conglomeration of that many changes at once was stressful and infused a huge dose of reality into our newlywed bliss.  I remember one of our first few days in Tampa.  At that point, we were spending our days driving around Tampa, trying to find a home to rent.  In an effort to save money, we had recently downgraded from a Holiday Inn to a Super 8.  Cori and I had gotten into a fight about something- what, I have no clue now, except that I'm sure it was something completely inconsequential- and I was sitting outside our little room, staring across the parking lot of the Super 8.  I was hot, homesick, and irritated.  I thought something along the lines of, "Is this marriage?"

Fast forward a year to now, August 2012.  I've journeyed far as a wife in the past year, gaining perspective and wisdom.  And what I've learned is this- yes, that lonely night at the Super 8 is marriage.  It's not what marriage is intended to be of course, but as Cori and I live life on this fallen earth, those moments of despair are just as much a reality of marriage as the giggly, can't-stop-grinning-because-I-love-Cori-so-much moments.  

Marriage is beautiful and wonderful, but it is also a tool that Jesus uses to sanctify us.  When Cori and I were engaged, we heard the phrase (I believe from The Sacred Marriage) that 'marriage is about your holiness, not your happiness.'  That truth pretty much rocked me.  For example, I've seen my selfishness in a whole new light this past year.  I mean, I always knew I was selfish, but sharing my life so intimately with someone else has made that so much more clear... but it's also forced me to deal with it, to examine myself, to repent before Cori and the Lord, and to make some real changes.  And that, my friends, is beautiful.  

I've also learned that my marriage isn't going to work when I depend on Cori to meet my needs.  The reality is, despite the fact that I married a wonderful, kind, servant-hearted man, he can never be the one to fulfill me.  That's Jesus' place, and His alone.  Bit by bit, I'm learning to seek satisfaction from the Lord, so that I can love my husband selflessly and without expectations of what I can get out of the deal.

I've loved so much of the last 3 years with Cori.  The excitement of the pursual, the joy of falling in love, the giddiness of engagement.  And now?  I love him more deeply than ever.  I love him with the depth that comes from commitment, from fighting through those nights at the Super 8, from spending the day doing chores around the house, from dancing around the kitchen, and from falling asleep with him beside me every night.  Marriage isn't always easy- but it is always, always worth fighting for.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

tampa top five

Sigh... I spent a long time on Saturday night putting together a post with pictures of my time in NOLA, with plans to post it yesterday- the year anniversary of moving... and then it didn't save.  Sadness.  We'll see if I decide to re-do it at another point.  BUT, I had already decided to post today about Tampa.  So, without further ado- in honor of 1 year living in Tampa...

Top 5 Favorite Things about Tampa

1.  Our house!

Can I just say, I love where we live?  Our little corner of Tampa has a unique feel to it and reminds me a bit of NOLA in that sense.  There are some fun little shops and restaurants nearby, there's differing architecture, and we're not far from the interstate.  And our house- well, I may be partial, considering it's our first home together (not counting our month-long sublet in N.O.), but it's pretty darn adorable.  We also happen to have the best neighbors with the 2 sweetest little boys.

2. Our church.

I blogged here about why I love our church so much, so I'll hold back my gushing.  Suffice it to say- I love it and the friends we've made through it.

3. The BEACH!

It takes us 15 minutes to get to an okay beach, and 45 minutes to get to a really wonderful beach.  I LOVE it!  Seriously, my idea of an amazing day is to spend it lying on the beach, reading, journaling, napping, and listening to music.  I'm trying to take advantage of our close proximity to the beach as much as possible.

4. Our jobs.

For the most part, our jobs seem to be good fits for us, especially Cori, and we're thankful for that.  I've been able to work with younger kids, and Cori's fellowship has been wonderful.

5. This guy!

As hard as it was to leave behind our friends and lives in New Orleans, moving to Tampa brought us closer together.  We've been able to spend tons of time together, and I'm so thankful for it.  What can I say?  He's pretty much my favorite.  :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012


As I was running tonight, I started mentally writing a blog post (yes, I do that- and if all the blogs I thought out while in the car or on a run actually got written, I'd have way more posts!) about my favorite parts of life in Tampa that I want to write when we hit our one year here in a week.  It got me thinking about my church, and I quickly realized that I could just write a whole blog post about why we love aletheia- so I'm going to!

From day one in Tampa, aletheia has been a blessing to Cori and I.  And I literally mean day one.

I attended the original aletheia church for a season when I went to JMU.  Since then they've planted churches in Mexico, Richmond, Norfolk, St. Petersburg, Gainesville- and Tampa.  When Cori and I first found out last July that his fellowship with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) would be taking us to Tampa, my sweet friend Caitlyn reminded me that there was an aletheia here.  I quickly realized that a few people I knew- and even more who I knew of- were part of that church plant.  Cori and I made plans to attend aletheia our first Sunday in Tampa.  After leaving New Orleans on Saturday afternoon, we rolled into our first 'home' in Tampa (and by that, I mean the hotel where we spent a few nights before we found our rental home) at 3:30 am Sunday morning.  Hours later, we pulled ourselves out of bed and made it to church by 11am- one of few times we've actually been on time for services!  We walked in and were greeted by aletheia Tampa's pastor, Aaron, who I knew from JMU.  Let me tell you something about the Proffitt family- they remember names and they remember people.  Even though it had been years since I'd attended church in Harrisonburg and even longer since I was a freshman in the kinesiology class that Aaron taught, he hadn't forgotten who I was.  I introduced him to Cori and met his wife, Ashlee, who was someone I knew of but didn't actually know at JMU.

I'll never forget what happened next.  My friend Lindsey- who was one of those college friends who you've always really liked but never quite had enough time to get to know- comes running up to me, excited but confused as to why this girl she knew from college but hasn't seen in 5 years is at her church in another part of the country.  She says, "Rebecca Taylor!?  But wait, that's not your name anymore!"  After a week of painful goodbyes to some of my closest friends in New Orleans, it was beyond wonderful to see people I knew within hours of moving to Tampa.  The Lord's kindness in that blew me away.  That first week, people from aletheia helped us move into our home and on Friday- less than a week after we'd moved- Lindsey and her husband Matt had us over for dinner.

And that was just the beginning.  In the year that we've lived here, aletheia has blessed us and challenged us in ways we couldn't have imagined or asked for.  Last fall, I was part of a Bible study for married women.  When it started, I had been married for 2 months, and showed up every week with an attitude of 'please show me how to have a Christ-centered marriage because I sure as heck don't know what I'm doing!'  Learning from and with women in so many different stages of life- some married for not much longer than me, others married for years and with kids- was beautiful.  To be honest, there are ways that aletheia has blessed us that we didn't want, but as it turns out, needed- like challenging us by example to step out of our comfort zones and more boldly share Jesus- but it is always rooted in the underlying, beautiful reminder that everything we do is based on the Lord's merciful, undeserved love for us.  We have loved worshiping amidst such sweet sisters and brothers, and I cannot say enough how much we enjoy the worship band.  

I could go on and on about aletheia.  I could talk about the sweet prayer times I've had at Bible studies or the men Cori's gotten to know (and play frisbee golf with!) or the way I'm absolutely loving the series on Jonah we're going through right now.  But instead I'll just end with this- the Lord has blessed us with aletheia tampa.  To Him be the glory!


I've been completely MIA here since I finished blogging about our cruise; primarily because our lives have been fairly routine and unexciting since we got back, especially in comparison to our vacation.  Definitely no kissing dolphins or swimming with sting rays.

We had a pretty great weekend in the Pflugradt household.  That's not to say that it was wild and crazy- but it was the presence of down-time that helped make it wonderful.

Friday night we relaxed... watched tv, surfed the internet, and read.  Cori kindly kicked dinner- mandarin pork chops, yum!- and we were thrilled to be in bed before 11.  Call us lame, but our work weeks have been extra hectic recently, so we were beyond thankful for this time to be still and sleep.

Saturday morning was similarly chill- we got up around 9 and spent the morning reading, spending time with Lord, chatting with one of our neighbors, etc.  Then we headed off to meet some of Cori's co-workers to see newest Batman movie.  My opinion: definitely a great movie, although not quite as epic as the first two.  There was just something so engagingly chilling about the Joker as a villian, and I just don't think it was possible to top Heath Ledger's performance in the second movie.  All the same, we really enjoyed it.  After the movie, we ate dinner at Mr. Dunderbaks.  Dinner was delicious, and we loved the live German accordion music.  Cori even requested the Scnitzelbank song, which of course reminded me of when we first started dating.  After telling Cori's coworkers about our cruise at dinner, I started craving ice cream, so we stopped by Bo's Ice Cream, our fave local ice cream shop here, to get twist cones.  Yum!

Today, we went to church and enjoyed time worshiping with our church family.  Afterwards, we went to lunch with our friends Wes and Steph.  When our original plan to go to Ella's, our favorite restaurant in our little corner of Tampa fell through (an hour and a half wait when you're already starving?  no thank you!) we ended up eating Chinese food at Yummy House- and yes, it was yummy!  Amusingly enough, we stopped by Bo's again to get more ice cream, and spent some time hanging out at our house with Wes and Steph.  

It was definitely a wonderful weekend- the perfect mix of active fun and chill time.  Tomorrow starts another busy work week- here's to soaking up the last few hours before the craziness starts all over!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

cruisin' back home

Wednesday, July 4: Day five.

Our last full day of cruisin' was Wednesday as we headed back to Tampa.  Our morning was pretty chill... we enjoyed breakfast in the dining room (the other days we'd opted for the buffet- similar food, but they had french toast, which is Cori's favorite), looking at some of the pictures they'd taken of us on the cruise (but chose not to purchase any), played a game of air hockey, and attempted a game of Phase 10 (which we didn't finish because I potentially got too competitive and got mad when Cori was creaming me... evidence that just because I go on vacation, my sin nature does not- definitely in need of a Savior!).

We spent the afternoon reading and napping, but while I was eager to soak up more sun, Cori had had his fill of being outside while we were in Cozumel and opted to stay inside.  Buuuuuut he did join me later so we could finally check out the water slide at the pool. I think both of us had low expectations for it, but it turned out to be AWESOME!  We went down twice, spent a few minutes in the hot tub, and then decided it was time to get ready for dinner.

We settled down for our last dinner- I got the mahi mahi and saved enough room for dessert- chocolate melting cake.  We had this earlier in the week and I knew I needed it one last time before we left.  It is AMAZING!  Apparently it's been rated as one of the best desserts- by whom, I have no idea, but I believe it!  The middle is all warm and melty and gooey and... I'll stop salivating now, but just trust me.  SO. SO. GOOD.


Afterwards we headed to a family comedy show.  It was pretty funny, and while we waited to start gave us a good opportunity for a mini photo shoot...

attractive, i know.

Punchliner Comedy Club

After the comedy show, we headed to a singing/dancing performance.  It was country themed, which we didn't realize going into it.  Great for me, not as exciting for Cori... but he still enjoyed it.  My favorite part was when the fiddle player played 'Devil Went Down to Georgia.'  It was beautiful!

After the show, we decided to walk around the top deck for a bit.  It was a beautiful night, and we spent a long time just peacefully watching the ocean and looking at the stars.

We also chatted with a kind woman for a bit, and she was so sweet- she told us we were a cute couple and offered to take a picture of us.  I know my hair looks a little crazy in this picture- windy!- but it was great to capture such a beautiful night.
We finally left the top deck and went to check on the other festivities.  We danced it up at the on-board nightclub, Rex, for a bit.  The evening was a great combination of two of my favorite sides of Cori- I love that we can be chill together yet also be silly and crazy.  I was reminded of our second date- we went to our friends' Scott and Rebekah's wedding and afterwards went to the Bridge Lounge.  At both places we spent hours dancing and I remember getting home and being on cloud 9.

Finally, we called it a night.

our last towel creation!


Thursday, July 5: Day 5.1

We docked in Tampa around 6am, and it was a noisy arrival.  Cori and I took advantage of being up early and watched the last bit of the sunrise.  Then we filled up with one last yummy breakfast.  Seriously, I've realized that Cori LOVES french toast, but it's only when we go out, like on our honeymoon or on this cruise.  I think the difference is that when we make it at home, we just use regular bread, but other places use thicker bread.  Anyway, I digress.  After breakfast, we gathered the last of our things from the room and spent just a little bit longer on the top deck while we waited for our debarkation zone to be called.

nom nom nom

seriously, this kid loved his french toast!

...and one last ice cream cone before leaving the ship!
We got off the ship, went through customs, took a shuttle to the lot where our car was parked, and were home around noon on Thursday.  We've spent the weekend catching up on life things- grocery shopping, laundry, mowing the lawn, etc.  We've also enjoyed some fun things, like eating some New Orleanian food at the Second Line Cafe with our neighbors (can't pass up an opportunity to have crawfish etouffee and beignets when you're in Tampa... also, seeing 4 year old Jude eat a beignet was one of the most hilarious things ever... sugar EVERYWHERE), napping, cuddling with Willow (who has been extra affectionate since we got back), seeing the Amazing Spiderman, running (did you catch the part where I ate 5 million ice cream cones on this cruise?), and I obviously have spent a lot of time blogging!

Tomorrow is back to work, but hopefully we'll start the week refreshed!  We had the most wonderful week! :)