Becoming Mrs. ______________

It is interesting, in American culture, once a woman becomes engaged it is all about preparing for a wedding.

It is only after you get married the government asks: “are you sure?  . . . is this relationship worth the red-tape?”.

I don’t question the decision to get married. But the weight of what I consider to be a permanent legal change did not hit until I had to fill out piles of government paperwork. (I even learned to bring a personal profile of all my legal documents with me places to show proof of my name change.)

For those of you who are/will be engaged soon, let me give you a heads up on the legal stuff required after you get married to become Mrs. ___________:

1.  Your officiant has to sign and deliver the marriage certificate to the country clerk within 10 days after the wedding. Then you can file for copies which includes having your paperwork notarized. Once you pay the fee and mail off the paperwork you wait.

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2. Eventually you receive copies (more than one is helpful) of your marriage certificate. You can then file to change your last name with Social Security. This  requires another form, another fee, copy of your marriage certificate, and your passport/birth certificate. Then you wait again.

3. When your new social card comes you can go to the DMV! At the DMV you need your social, copy of marriage cert., your license, and of course the name changing forms. You take a new photo, pay another fee, and wait.

4. When you will get your new driver’s license  you can apply for a new passport! For this you need copy of your marriage cert., your old passport, new passport photos, the name changing forms, and another fee.

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So yes becoming Mrs. __________ on Facebook is the easiest thing you will do.

You don’t know how many times I became confused as to when to write/sign my maiden name and when to write/sign my married name. (Let’s just say I had to fill out some forms more than once.)

For any women the journey of adjusting to a new personal identity, becoming  Mrs. _________ is greater than the legal name-changing saga. Every piece of paperwork in the name-changing process or new piece of mail addressed to a Mrs. ________ is a reminder of a permanent change in social and lifestyle status. After four months of marriage I am still asking myself: who is Mrs. A. Greene ? What is or will be different about my identity or roles as Mrs. Greene ?

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Although my name changing process is finally over my  journey to become Mrs. Greene, to adjust to the meaning behind the name-change, has just begun.

For those recently married: any thoughts to share on adjusting to new roles/identity?

Any other newlyweds find it takes awhile for the name-change to sink in?

Curb Appeal

Now that we are official in summer all of our trees are providing full shade and some of our flowers are blooming. We are excited that this year we have had the opportunity to watch the rhodi we bought last year bloom.

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What is even more exciting though is to see the tall Rhodi’s next to it blooming as well. These plants were sickly and dying in front of the house. Unsure if they would survive, we put in them in the burn pile, only to see one bloom! So instead of burning, we transplanted them along the roadside of our property. So it is exiting to see they are becoming healthy again.

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We are still waiting on the astiblie’s to bloom, the hostas to sprout their purple bells, and the peonies to bud as well. On the other hand the bleeding hearts have been amazingly beautiful this spring.

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One project we are trying this summer is to transplant a wild hydrangea plant from the backyard to our front bed. It was hard work because the location is on a hill. Trying to dig up the plant with enough roots from that angle took some hard work from both of us. We dug a good sized trench in the front bed and transplanted about a quarter of the plant.

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The first few days we were not sure how it would go but by this past weekend, it looked like most of the plants were recovering from the shock of the transplant. Now we just need to decided if it’s worth the effort to fill in more space along the wall.

We also bought some hanging pots for the porch this year.  I found a fuchsia plant in the discount section at the garden center for only 12! They add some wonderful color to the porch while we wait for everything else to bloom.

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The garden is doing well, all plants have sprouted nicely minus the basil. But it can be finicky and takes the longest to show growth.

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Another curb appeal project we finally completed is a path from the house to the gravel car spot. Last year we dug up large pieces of slate, perfect for a path. But we discovered they are too fragile and uneven on their own. So we bought a rubber stopper and pea gravel. I

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Since then it has worked out great and we are happy to not be trampling any grass.

House Hunting: The Grand Finale

For more on this topic see other posts entitled house hunting

I know I left you all wondering whether we had given up on this house-hunting thing after all considering our time crunch and frustrations. But as this post indicates the hunt is over!

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After our hiatus from looking two weeks ago we decided to give it one more try: fifth times the charm right? Luke ended up having this past Monday off from work so we once again looked up what was available online, created a list of 11 homes, and sent it to our realtor (who rightly was becoming a little impatient). He picked us up at 2pm and we took the now familiar drive up to the Dansville area.

Of the 11 homes we wanted to see at only 7 were still available; of course this disappointed us. We hit six not so great options through the Dansville/Wayland area with major issues such as low ceilings, horrible updates, uneven floors, half done updates, unfinished (no drywall) rooms, and bad locations.

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House number one:

Fortunately we had two great options. One of the realtors in the Dansville area decided to show us a house that had just come on the market:  four hours before we saw it. House number one is an old 1900’s victorian in downtown Wayland that had been totally updated. The owners had had a fire and used the insurance money to invest in some major changes to the home: brand new roof, updated master bedroom with skylights, upstairs laundry in the bathroom, etc.

With four bedrooms and two full baths the house is larger then we need.  The kitchen is open and although there is not a lot of cabinet/cupboard space there is plenty of room to put in more. The yard is well kept although only .22 of an acre and has a new fence around the property (which is not standard out here for you west coast people).

Our concerns were mainly about the location: because of all of the updates this is the nicest house on the block. Plus many homes in the area are currently for sale; there is no way to tell the location’s value over time -a bit of a gamble. The other issue is  the house next door is a rental with four tenants and they share the double-wide driveway with this home.

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House number two

House number two was the first house we saw. It is an older 1800’s home with a more simple victorian style right about 5 minutes from the freeway  and 10 minutes from downtown Wayland. The home has three bedrooms and two full baths on an acre of property half wooded.

The previous owners had invested time to update the roof, vinyl siding, restore the floors or put in pergo, paint and update the water heater etc.. The current owners have been using the property as a winter/holiday house and so are not living in it.  The floors and ceilings do buckle/tilt a little in certain places because of the age of the home but the house itself is stable. The kitchen is large and open with plenty of cabinet and counter space and although there is currently no garage there is room to build one.

Our concerns with the place were mainly seasonal; about .25 of a mile up to the house is dirt/gravel road. We were not sure if in the winter we would run into problems being able to get to the main road. But after talking to Luke’s co-workers who live on such roads we felt confident that with a few adjustments (snow tires etc.) we would function just fine.

So which one did we choose? After all of our searching and options what do you think?

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We went with house number 2. We decided although house number 1 was wonderfully updated we were unsure about the location and what we would do with that large of an old home. Whereas with number 2 although it has less fancy updates we knew we could make it our own besides the fact that is has a better  location and more land.

We placed our first bid on Tuesday afternoon did one counter offer and re-bid and by Wednesday we had an accepted bid! By Saturday we were back up at the house with the inspector who said the place was great and  he was jealous. The current owners have already moved everything out of the second floor so we are well on our way towards a closing date and more than a little relieved that we have a hopeful house and the hunt if over.

 

Niagara Falls Anniversary Part 2: Wine tours and Italian dinner

In review, Friday night at the The Keg in Embassy Suites  we had a partial view of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Afterwards we walked around the  tourist area filled with haunted houses, wax and world record museums, children amusement parks and arcades, and much more! Although we are not into these tourist traps they are pretty fun to walk by lit up at night. Here are some pictures:

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Saturday (our actual anniversary)  we packed up our things at the Best Western and checked out. The Best Western had given us a 15$ off card to use at IHOP and although we do not often go there we thought we’d save the money where we could. So we ordered one meal to split of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and an omelet.  The waitress came back and said the fine print on our coupon said we had to order two entrees to get the 15 off. We understand having to follow the rules of the coupon but it was a little frustrating and disappointing to find this out after we’d already eaten.

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We then chose to walk off the carbs (and our annoyance) down the hill to the Canadian view of the falls along the Niagara River Recreation Trail. It was another beautiful sunny day and there were plenty of pedestrians and tour buses alike taking in the view. We followed along from the American Falls down to Horseshoe falls. As we got closer to Horseshoe falls we needed to put our sunglasses on the mist reflecting light from the sun was creating quite a glare. At the end of the falls trail it felt like we were back on the Maid of the Mist standing in a thin rain cloud as we listened and watched gallons of water flow over the edge is seconds.

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After our walk, we got back to our car, found directions, and drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake to local wineries. We first went to Pellar Estates Winery. This large vineyard/winery is probably one of the oldest in this area known for it’s fertile ground and good weather. We brought our groupon vouchers to the front desk after wandering the tasting room and got set up for the winery tour. At 1:30pm we went with a large group to learn about the Pellar winery. The tour was extremely educational, out in the vineyard we got a change to hear about how the soil is conditioned differently for each type of grape, how the grape vines are kept and pruned, when the grapes are picked based on the varieties and how they use a eco-friendly pest control prevention system.

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Next we were  taken into their wine cellar were the wine barrels are kept. Our tour guide informed us about the different barrel types used, the varieties in woods/materials the wine is fermented in, and changes in fermenting times.  Last of all we were taken to a table to taste their wine. The tour guide explained the wine connoisseurs process of three tastings for each wine: one to clean the palate, one to taste the oxygen in the wine, and last to get the full flavor. We tried three varieties, a pinot noir, a chardonnay , and one of their regionally famous very sweet ice wines.

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Getting back in the car, we followed the wine trail to Trius Winery, another winery owned by the Pellar family. This tour was less formal or informative but we did get a chance to learn a little about Trius’ specialty which was sparkling wines and see where these wines are fermented in the bottle. We were then taken to a garden to taste another one of their ice wines, and their traditional white and red. This was my first day doing a wine tasting at an actual winery but I was grateful for having experienced tasting wine where we live in the Finger Lakes area (for more on this see 2300 degreeslocal food and winecabin fever ). We decided that the Niagara area wine was not for us, they were either too light and acidic or too sweet. It may be that we are becoming partial to our local region.

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We decided to not drive another half hour into the country to check out the last winery and instead headed back to the Falls area. We checked into the Sheraton hotel around 5:00pm; in time to relax a little before getting ready for dinner. In contrast from our previous hotel, this place was large, spacious, and connected to a casino, a Starbucks in the lobby,  several stores, restaurants, and even a water park! Dressing up for a wonderful dinner out we took the walk way to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and up to the 10th floor to Massimo’s Rainbow Room, a more formal Italian dinning room.

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We made reservations months ago when we got the groupon for $40 towards a dinner there to celebrate our anniversary night. We were ushered in low lighting to a white table clothed table for two right up against a glass window over looking the falls at sunset. It was beyond beautiful. Sadly we did not bring a phone or camera with us to dinner so we will just have to keep that dinner and moment in our memory. When the sunset we enjoyed watching the falls light up with varying colors as we ate a delicious dinner. Luke ordered the steak I ordered a rack of lamb but we shared. (for a more detailed description of the menu click here ).

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What the restaurant looks like in the daylight

After our wonderful dinner, we headed back down the elevator and on to see what our other vouchers for the evening would get us. We started at the Hard Rock Cafe  where we had two free cocktails at the bar. After enjoying our rum and cokes by lava lamp (seriously they had mini lava lamps all across the bar) we headed over to Hershey’s for a sweet finish.

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After standing in line at their candy store we turned in our voucher and out came a box that the cashier said contained two cupcakes. We walked back to our hotel room and opened our dessert to find one chocolate and one white cupcake with vanilla frosting topped each with a Hershey’s kiss. After dessert we cuddled up on our king size bed to watch our wedding video for the first time. It was great to look back and laugh at the small details or reactions from family and friends we were too nervous or preoccupied to notice the day-of.

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I didn’t get a picture of our actual goodies but here’s what they had in the store

Sunday we slept-in, Luke tried his luck at the casino for a brief hour  and then we checked out of the hotel. We hit the road back home in the middle of surprising noon traffic back over the bridge to America. After a long wait at the border we were on the road to Buffalo and eventually back home. It was one wonderful weekend to celebrate a crazy busy and challenging first year of marriage!

6 months =100 posts

 Hard to believe I started blogging A.Greene’s Adventures 6 months ago. 100 posts later, I have shared with you the ways I have transformed, transitioned, and transcended, into married life in Corning NY.

Looking back, since January we:

Survived our first NY winter

our little home covered in snow
our little home covered in snow

(See: A lesson in Independence2300 degreesmy new hometown)

Settled into our home, state, and name change

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(See: I miss my old lifeBecoming Mrs. ________________Passport to new beginningsThe Game Chest, The front porch project

Celebrated first married holidays just the two of  us

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A very Irish dinner complete with Luke's Irish red ale (I had hard cider).
A very Irish dinner complete with Luke’s Irish red ale (I had hard cider).

(See: Valentines Pie a new traditionHappy St. Patrick’s Day!A (new) Easter traditionHappy Mother’s DayHappy Memorial DayHappy Father’s Day4th of July funfetti cookies,)

Discovered the job market and applied to teaching positions (me).

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(See: The future ispatience: giving myself timeSummer projects, the waiting gameContentment is)

Enjoyed spring and summer festivals:

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(See: Strawberry FestivalStars hollow, fireworks, and minionsTwo festivals,

Learned from each other what our married life looks like:

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(See: Dispelling Marriage MythsMarriage myth busting round 2Sleep after Marriage isn’t always a Dream come TrueHappily Ever After is only the Beginning

Explored the area on drives, hikes, and kayaking

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(See: kayaking and BBqAn Ithaca Birthday Adventure,)

Checked out the best local events and food

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(See:  Sorge’s: local food and wineCabin feverGlassfest, )

Brewed our first homemade barley-free beer

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(See: Why I am barley free part oneA chemistry lesson for a B-day PresentThe home-brewing has begunBottling our first homemade brew,

Created and experimented with many new dinners

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(See: A Vegetarian Mediterranean meal,   A good Spring QuicheGreene’s Tilapia fish tacos

and dessert recipes and found our favorites:

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(See: key lime chocolate cupcakescookies n’ cream pudding popsMocha cupcake oreo brownies)

Reflected back on our wedding as we celebrated each new month of marriage

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(See: Who to choose for your bridal partyWow it’s been 6 monthsThe DressA pictures worthTo the Brides to be . . .)

Spent quality time with family and friends in Oregon

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(See: Our first VacationVacation highlights: Date Days,

Shared in the excitement of my brother’s graduation and engagement

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(See: Wedding Season has BegunFamily Time Vacation Highlights)

Celebrated our birthdays

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(See: Cinnamon Roll Bunt B-day Cake25 is Goldenbirthday in picture review)

Paid off all credit card debt and learned ways to save money after completing a budget class at church

Learned how to maintain and live with one car and no dishwasher

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(See: I’m a New Yorker?!Living without a dishwasherLiving with one car,)

Made new friends

Went to Washington to celebrate my brother’s wedding

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(See: Pre-wedding Jitterscongrats matt and stina! and I promise pictures and details from the wedding are coming soon)

And so much more. Thank you everyone for your encouragement, your comments (here or on facebook), and most of all for sharing in Luke and my lives through reading about our adventures.

If this is your first time exploring my blog, first of all welcome! Also to learn more about my last 6 months  click on the links above, check out the calendar archive ,or look into the categories on the right of my page.

Looking forward to sharing many more adventures,

-A. Greene

A Picture’s worth: Heritage and Sentimental Wedding Details

picture above our bed in our bedroom
picture above our bed in our bedroom

Luke and I love to plan and host events and at these events we feel it is important that people are comfortable being themselves. When planning our wedding, it was just as important that our friends and family felt welcomed, like they belonged, they were home. But how do you make a wedding venue feel like home? In the family heirlooms, the personal crafted gifts, or the framed pictures of significant moments. Here’s what we did:

Significant Pictures:

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picture sitting in built-in bookshelves in our living room

We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. Taking that to heart, we let several frames placed throughout our wedding space tell stories for us. Borrowing mismatched frames from family, we printed pictures highlighting significant moments while we were dating. Moments that display our interests, values, and the type of events that marked our relationship. Such as a picture of us on a morning kayak venture on Yellowstone Lake, or a snapshot from our MA graduation. Pictures as simple as these showed guests our love for being outdoors and time with our families or our how we shared in celebrating and encouraging each other’s personal goals and accomplishments.

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For those guests who didn’t know our story well (or knew only one of us) these pictures provided an opportunity to glimpse into our relationship and personalities. Our wedding venue had an outdoor fireplace with a natural stone mantel perfect for placing these snapshots where guests could notice them as they warmed up by the fire.

Family Heirlooms:

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Heirlooms are valued items or memories passed down from one generation to another. For us this is not confined to physical trinkets. I requested a framed picture from Luke’s parent’s wedding, collected one from my parents as well, then placed both on either side of an engagement photo of Luke and I on the guest book table.

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These pictures signified and celebrated a great heirloom passed down to us: strong marriages; a relational heritage we plan on continuing. To guests viewing this memories it was clear: Luke and I valued our wedding day as the celebration of two families permanently becoming one with our marriage.

Memory scraps and well wishes: the guest book

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I gave my maid of honor, a talented scrapbooker, creative license to make my guest book. She bought a picture album and filled it with engagement shoot snapshots. When I told Luke about this he came to me with an additional idea. Handing me an old hiking boot box (the contents of which he had been keeping a secret), he told me he thought it (whatever it was) might be helpful for the scrap/guestbook.  My mom and I were shocked when we opened it to find concert tickets, our school ID cards, amusement park passes, movie stubs, and metro passes  memorabilia present from our first date to the weekend we got engaged.

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So while the bridal party was doing their photo shoot, guests wandering the terrace took cards and pens from a mason jar and wrote personal well wishes to Luke and I, which later were fitted into the spare photo sleeve slots. As they wrote, guests flipped through pictures from our engagement shoot and saw glimpses into our dating life.

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Framing the Reception:

Since heritage and pictures were central to our wedding, we continued the framed theme throughout the reception space. This included the table numbers, favor dessert bar instructions, and the guest seating chart table, all displayed in an eclectic collection of vintage frames.

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Personal crafted gifts:

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In other blog posts I have highlighted my families personal talents such as: upholstery see sleep after marriage . . . ,  woodworking see happy father’s day,  and quilting see happy mother’s day . In addition to these hobbies my mother also avidly crochets.  So to highlight my mom’s work, like you would in your own home, we made crochet doily runners for the guest book table, the guest seating chart table, and welcome/gift/program table.

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The venue also provided us with a few comfy couches facing the dance floor. To personalize the space I asked my  mom to bring two of her homemade crocheted afghans to the wedding. She topped this off by making some neutral toned pillows. Between the pillows and blankets these couches were very popular lounging spots for guests to cuddle up on during the crisp fall night reception.

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Being surrounded by items familiar to me on such an important yet stressful day provided me with confidence and a peace reminding me I was surrounded by a great collection of family and friends who cared about me and about us as a couple.

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If you are wanting to make your wedding venue comfortable and welcoming think about your hobbies, talents, interests, values, personality, or interests. What physical objects or pictures could say better than words these concepts to your friends and family? These small items are usually not expensive and although they may require   digging up an old photo, visiting an old candy shop, antique store, or digging a box out of the attic they may help make your venue feel like home on your special day.

Patience: giving myself time

We live in an impatient world. We are used to instant gratification or easy access to all commodities we would need (and almost all we would want). We are constantly being told we deserve the best, fastest service in every industry from drive-thru coffee, vending machines for movies, to self-checkouts at grocery store.

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This makes it rather difficult to teach, learn, or live-out any form of patience. Patience is more than a virtue-it is a mostly forgotten way of life. There are many areas I desire to learn to live out patience, but today I am writing about patience with myself.

As you probably know by now, I am working on transcending this issue of self-judgement. (see self-judgement a story definition) I wrongly accuse myself for circumstances out of my control. I expect the world of myself. So you can imagine I do not show myself much patience.

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When I moved this past November to New York, I was like a dog chasing it’s tail. Luke started a job right away. But I had hours upon hours by myself, with no particular agenda or aim. I kept trying to accomplish everything and anything but got nowhere. Slowly I began to discover what roles/responsibilities to take on: to maintain the home and to support Luke as he worked. But I expected to find a job,  set up the home, find a friend network, get involved in church and be established within the first two months. (If any of you have moved  you realize how impractical these expectations were.)

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my pocket watch necklace

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The truth is, I was not ready to take on the world the second that we moved. I needed time. Time to adjust to dramatic change, to let go of the life I had in California. Time to embrace life here in New York, to adjust to married life away from family and friends. Everyone told me to embrace this break, to enjoy it: after a chaotic year I deserved it. But that was hard for me to hear. I love having a schedule, having routine, feeling involved and connected.

Once I began to embrace the time I had,  a flexible routine formed. Now six months into marriage and more than 5 months here in New York, some of my expectations have been fulfilled; (see spring is coming) the home is (mostly) set up,  the name changing paperwork complete (see Becoming Mrs. ____________), and we are getting involved in church.

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Still my patience is being challenge all over again as I work through job searching. It is a challenge to find a job in a state where you have no connections. Job searching feels often like a rush and waiting game. You find a position you are interested in, you turn in the paperwork and forms-then you wait. If the door closes then you start over. If the door opens you set up time for an interview and wait. Then you have then interview and wait. It can be an exhausting process of elimination.

At times I worry about having a more than 6 month long jobless gap on my resume. But I have to believe the right job won’t care. I have to keep moving forward toward what is right in front of me.

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 What I struggle to see is that giving myself time is not wasting time. By not insisting that I accomplish my daunting list of expectations right away, I learn flexibility, to not try to control what is out of my control,to trust, and that time to learn more about myself is a blessing. Being patient with myself is recognizing the time in the waiting room is not wasted. Giving myself the gift of time helps me understand myself better and it is in the waiting that I am prepared for what I am waiting for.

Any of you waiting on something important?

Do you struggle with our instant-gratification society?

In what area of your life do you want to learn patience?

Passport to new beginnings

                  Part of the name-changing process, as I mentioned in Becoming Mrs. ___________, is getting a new passport. Although I was a little sentimental about my CA drivers license and license plate, as made obvious by my I’m a New Yorker?!  post, I’m even more sentimental about my passport.

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                 In case you didn’t know, I traveled quite a bit in college. In fact 10 countries in 3 years!
My first time off the North American continent was in 2007. I embarked on a seven-week global internship backpacking through Guatemala, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. It was a humbling experience being apart of lives of many who have less than I do and therefore have more: gratefulness, humility, generosity, patience, and gentleness. The people we stayed and volunteered with treated us strangers like family.

Coral beach in the Philippines
Coral beach in the Philippines
Hong Kong's busy streets
Hong Kong’s busy streets
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Passport stamps from Guatemala, The Philippines, and Hong Kong.

                A year later I went on a two-week summer performing tour of Italy with my College Concert Choir. I got the opportunity to visit many famous historic locations and sing in many as well including San Marco’s Basilica in Venice and Mary Maggiore Basilica in Rome! I now understand the pride these people have for their native language, culture, food, history, and beliefs.

Siena in Tuscany
Siena in Tuscany
rehearsal in San Marco's Basilica
rehearsal in San Marco’s Basilica
Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice
Me holding gelato in front of San Marco Basilica in Venice

                 Skip ahead to 2010,  I am off to the Middle East for a semester abroad. I lived in Cairo Egypt for two months studying Arabic, Egyptian current events and history, and Islam. Then we traveled to Turkey, Syria, The Kingdom of Jordan, and Israel where we met with many local politicians, religious leaders, non-profit workers, university students, writers etc. who share about their country’s history, current events, politics, and religion(s). If you want to know more about my semester in the Middle East click here!

Me  . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol
Me . . well I hope you can guess where I am here lol
Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Me at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem
Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria
Me at the Krak Des Chevaliers in Syria
Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul
Me inside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul
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Visa and stamps for Egypt

         My passport is marked up; but it is not full. Many of the people I know from college, my Master’s degree, and my semester abroad  have chose to teach, volunteer,  study, and explore other countries. It is hard at times to not be jealous.

                But I don’t regret the choices I have made. I love my husband and being married. We are here in New York for now. We both have a desire, after a few years, to move to another country which could put our knowledge, experience, education, and careers to good use. The new Amanda Greene passport will be used for that purpose. For now it’s blank pages will be a reminder to have hope in the many exciting adventures I know are ahead of us.