Thursday, July 31, 2014

South Padre Island 2014

Somehow our annual South Padre Island trip this year got a little bit lost in the early pregnancy fog of being sick and exhausted, and I never blogged about it! For the sake of documentation and memories, here's a little recap of our 2014 trip to South Padre Island!

We spent lots and lots of time on the beach...



Those of us who aren't pregnant or underage enjoyed cold adult beverages at our favorite on-the-beach restaurant...



Our trip was over July 4th weekend this year, so we did something new and went on a boat cruise to watch the sunset, see the dolphins, and watch fireworks in the bay!








We drove out to the end of the island to see the sand dunes and have the annual race to the top of a big, big dune. :)


The general consensus of the group was that racing up a steep dune wasn't proper pregnant lady behavior, so I went ahead to the top and took pictures instead!


Karoline was the big winner... perhaps the rest of us are getting old? :)



We enjoyed a lovely evening hanging out on the beach on the far end of the island (and of course, having a little photo shoot with my dancer sister, Kristen) and grilling burgers for dinner...




See you next year, South Padre!


Four years ago today...

... in a little chapel, on one of the hottest days of the year, I married my very best friend and I couldn't imagine ever being more happy or more in love.

And then four years went by. We did law school and the Bar exam (I say "we" because you know, team effort). We saw the world. We moved into a new house and we made it our home. And sad things happened, and happy things happened, and eventually we were blessed beyond measure with a lovely little baby who will join our little family this winter, on one of the coldest days of the year.

And after all of that, now I look back on our wedding day and I think of how little I knew about happiness then, how little I understood about love. I loved my sweet husband so much on that day, but oh, how much more I love him now! And yet, part of me still thinks that at this moment, I must be the happiest girl in the world, and I still can't imagine how it could be possible to ever be more in love with him than I am today.

But the beautiful thing about fourth anniversaries is that after four years, you start to kind of sort of figure our how this whole love thing really works. And I know it only gets better from here. And I know that one day he'll love me even more than he does right now, and I'll look back and smile at how I thought I loved him so much today. And that makes me so, so amazingly excited about the next four years. And the four after that. And the forty after that.

I can't wait for years five through forever. :)

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Want to travel back in time? Here are my posts from our third anniversary, our second anniversary, and our first anniversary. And here's how we celebrated our first, our second, and our third.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Median Marriage Age

When you fall in love with your future husband at the ripe old age of 17 like I did, chances are you're going to end up getting married pretty young. I mean, who wants to wait years and years to be the wife of the man of your dreams once you've found him? I'm really glad I married Jeff relatively early in life for a million different reasons, but we were definitely on the young side of the curve. 
(Our wedding day - July 31, 2010)

Now that Jeff is 27 and I'm 25, we're officially the average age of couples getting married in Texas. Nationally, the average age at marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, but here in Texas it's slightly lower at 27 for men and 25 for women. (Here's a fun graph of marriage statistics by state, if you're fascinated by that kind of thing like me!)
When we got married, I didn't think I was really young (although, in hindsight, I guess I was!). Our families and friends were always really supportive of us getting married, and no one ever told us that we were too young to get married or anything like that, so we just didn't really think of ourselves as "young." I knew objectively that I was one of the first of my friends to get married, but I wasn't THE first, and I think we were looking at it more in terms of life goals being met rather than how old we were. 
When we got married at just barely 21 (me) and 23 (Jeff), we both had our bachelor's degrees, and we had been together for four years. We had decent-sized bank accounts and even some small investment accounts thanks to working during college, and we were debt-free thanks to some wonderful blessings - sizable scholarships, great college jobs, and some financial support from our parents during college. We just didn't really feel "young," even though we technically were. 
But, regardless of all that stuff, marrying young makes our lives different from couples who marry closer to the average time. It's fascinating to me to think about how our first few years of marriage would've been different if we had been getting married now (at the average age of 25 and 27), rather than four years ago. 
Because we got married so young, we've had to sacrifice things for each other. There were a lot of great law schools I wanted to go to that weren't in Houston, but I decided to go to UH instead so we could be together. Jeff sacrificed things too. He was married to me throughout those law school years, and he dealt with all the stress and insane amounts of study time. He even missed attending his brother's college graduation because I had final exams at the same time and he wanted to be home to support me. If we were just now getting married, he'd have missed all that unpleasant stuff. I've seen Jeff give things up for the sake of my happiness (and he's seen me do the same for him), and because of that we have the sort of mutual trust in each other that can only be created over time. Marriage involves sacrifice at any age though, so I'm sure this is one of those things that happens regardless of when you get married.
(Law school graduation - 2013)
Because we were relatively young when we got married, our first few years of marriage were also the years when we were getting established on a practical level as adults. We figured out how to file taxes together. When we bought cars for the first time, we did it together. We bought our first house together, we started planning financially for retirement together, we figured out our priorities for budgeting/saving/spending together, and the list goes on and on. If we were just now getting married, those are all things we'd have done on our own already, and we wouldn't have those shared experiences. Once you have a spouse, you have more motivation to save for things like future kids' college educations and house down payments. We started thinking about those things at a really young age, which has been a big blessing to us. When we merged our bank accounts when we got married, our bank accounts were really small. We've come a long way since then, and I love that we built all of that together. 
(Moving into our first house - 2011)
I'm glad I went into law school and my legal career with a husband by my side. It forced me to wrestle with the work/life balance issue from Day 1, and I've learned how to prioritize my life and say "no" sometimes even when it's hard. I think I'd be a total workaholic if I wasn't married. It's something that would be really hard to adjust at this point if I was just now starting to balance family with lawyer-stuff, so I'm glad we were married from the beginning. 
There are definite downsides to marrying young though. If we were just now getting married, we'd have plenty of "couple friends." When we got married four years ago, most of our friends were still single. We would get really excited when we met a young married couple we liked, or when one of our single friends was getting married. We felt a bit like an anomaly during those first couple years (me particularly, since I'm a couple years younger than Jeff) because we didn't have many friends who were in the same sort of life situation as us. I do think it would've been nice to have a larger network of married friends during that time. It's something we do have now, and I really like it. 
Sometimes people say you shouldn't marry young because you should "see the world!" or "live your life!" before you "settle down." I'm going to go ahead and say that I think that's completely ridiculous. :) We've had so many adventures in the last few years, and I'm so glad we did them all together! Memories of exploring Singapore or seeing gigantic glaciers in Alaska with my husband are way better than memories of doing those things on my own. Getting married doesn't mean you can never get on a plane again. It just means you have a wonderful partner to share your adventures with!
(Alaska - 2013)
People also say that you shouldn't marry young because you're still going to change a lot. Jeff and I have definitely seen each other change since we first started dating, but I love that we've been through those changes with each other. We're not the same Jeff and Katie that we were in high school, or in college, but that's totally okay (actually, I'm really glad Jeff's not still the same person he was in high school or college! haha). I was really comfortable getting married even though we were young because we'd already grown and changed a lot throughout our relationship, and I knew we could do it together. Plus, do people ever really stop growing and changing? My parents and Jeff's parents are still growing and changing and adapting to life together. If we were just now getting married, I think we'd still have to adapt to that. That's the beautiful thing about marriage... you grow with your spouse, and you experience an infinite amount of things together, and you know that you'll always be committed to each other no matter what changes. It's amazing. 
Anyway, I don't think there's a right time or wrong time for getting married in general, but it is funny to think about how our life would be different if we were just now getting married. I sure am glad we tied the knot when we were 21 and 23!
If you'd like to read more thoughts and musings on marrying young, here's a wonderful series of blog posts by a lot of different women on the topic!  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Baby News: How I Told Jeff

After I saw the positive pregnancy test really early on a Saturday morning (I think it was around 6:00am), I started setting up a little surprise for Jeff. I'd had all the supplies ready to go for months, so it felt very surreal to actually be getting everything ready!

I hung a banner that said "Congrats, Daddy!" on the wall in the future nursery, and I clipped little South Carolina Gamecocks and Texas A&M Aggies baby booties on either side.




Underneath the banner, I set up a couple books - Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad and The Catholic Baby Name Book - and I put the positive pregnancy test on the desk with them.


I was intending to just wait until Jeff woke up and then tell him I wanted him to see something upstairs, but by 7:30am I was getting really impatient, so I decided to go wake him up. I knew I'd have to have a good reason to get him out of bed and upstairs so early on a Saturday, so I woke him up and told him that our wi-fi wasn't working, and that I needed him to come fix the router (our wi-fi router is in a closet in the future nursery). Jeff came upstairs with me, and when we walked into the room I just pointed at the wall with the banner.


Jeff was still in the process of waking up, and he just stared for a second and then quietly said "Wow!" I was laughing at how sleepy he was, and after staring at the wall for another few seconds he said "We're going to have a little?" and I said "we're going to have a little!" I told him he didn't seem very excited, and he said "well I only woke up a minute ago... I take it the Internet isn't really broken?" Poor guy... perhaps I should've given him a little more time to wake up. :)

Eventually he looked at the pregnancy test and said "We're gonna have a little! Yeah!" and did a little celebratory dance, so I did end up getting the excited response I was hoping for! Then he read the entire  Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad book the next week on a business trip, so for the first few weeks of the pregnancy he was much more informed about what was going on with my body than I was!

Anyway, it was a really wonderful morning. We went to a family wedding that afternoon/evening, and it was so hard to keep ourselves from just telling everyone immediately! We kept the secret to ourselves though, at least for another few weeks. :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lemon Basil Grilled Salmon

Summertime is grilling season around here, and this is one of the best grilling recipes we've ever come across! The salmon is so flavorful and just perfect for a light, summer meal.


Recipe adapted from here.

1 tbsp vegtable oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger root
2 tbsp honey
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 salmon fillet with skin (about 2-3 pounds)

1. Cover a cookie sheet or large pan with two layers of foil. Lay the salmon fillet, skin side down, on the foil.
2. In a small bowl, mix together oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, ginger, honey, basil, and shallots. Pour mixture over the salmon.
3. Preheat a grill for medium-low heat while the salmon marinates. When the grill is ready, slide the foil with the salmon onto the grill. Grill fillet for about 20 minutes, or until salmon flakes with a fork.
4. When serving the salmon, use a spatula to separate the salmon from the skin (which will stick to the foil).

(salmon inside a double layer of foil)

(marinade mixture)

(marinating salmon)

(after grilling)



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pregnancy Q&A

Thank you so much for all of your kind words after our announcement on Monday! Sharing the news makes everything feel even more real, so it's been exciting for us. Here are a bunch of questions and answers to hopefully tell you everything you'd like to know about this little baby!

How far along are you?

The baby is due January 8, so I'll be 15 weeks tomorrow.


How are you feeling?

Honestly, it's been rough. Nausea kicked in around week 6. From around week 6 to week 10, it just felt like I was carsick all the time. I'd start feeling bad around 10:00 or 11:00am and continue until I went to bed (usually super early because I was SO TIRED). It was really a blessing though, because I spent the first few weeks of the pregnancy being SO worried about whether the baby was okay, and the sickness was like a little reminder every day that yes, baby was doing just fine and my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to.

Around week 11 the carsick feeling turned into multiple-times-a-day vomiting, and that's still going on, despite the fact that "morning" sickness seems to end after the first trimester with most pregnant ladies (It's slowly getting better though... I usually go 2-3 days between throwing up now!). Heartburn started around week 11 too (which was super odd because I've never had heartburn before in my life and thus had no idea what it was!). Jeff has done such an amazing job taking care of me while I've been sick and exhausted, and I've never been more thankful for my sweet, selfless husband. He's a wonderful daddy already. :)

I'm getting some of my energy back after being totally exhausted for the first few months, so that's good! And honestly, as not-fun as it can be to feel sick all the time, I feel so blessed to be carrying a healthy baby and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Getting pregnant didn't happen super quickly for us, and during those months of negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test, I would've gladly traded it all in for a pregnancy with much worse symptoms than I'm currently having! 

How did you find out?
I was feeling really, really thirsty one Thursday at work (I re-filled my big 20-oz water cup seven or eight times), and it was odd enough that I started thinking maybe this is a pregnancy symptom? Thanks to the wonders of NFP, I knew that I was only 7 days past ovulation (so it was really, really early to be taking a pregnancy test), but I took one anyway on Friday morning. The faintest of faint lines showed up, and it was so unclear that I didn't even show it to Jeff. I was pretty sure it was a positive (I'd seen enough negative tests to know that this one was different), but I didn't want to surprise Jeff with a test that didn't really look positive. I was super thirsty again all day on Friday, and I woke up really early on Saturday morning ready to take another test! Sure enough, that one showed a nice, clear positive! I was definitely pregnant!


Are you doing weekly belly photos?

Yes and no. I knew there was no way I could keep up with photos every week, so we started doing biweekly photos around 7 weeks. We took pictures for weeks 7, 9, and 11 (although I'm pretty sure my belly was barely growing at all during any of those weeks)... but then we were on vacation and then Jeff was out of town for work, so we totally skipped week 13. We'll do week 15 this weekend though. I'm not really worrying about it... if we get a photo at least once a month or so, I think that'll be plenty to see the baby bump growing!

We're doing one set in front of our crape myrtle tree, with me wearing whatever I have on that day (I figured it would be fun to see the tree change with the seasons, and I wasn't sure I could keep up with consistent outfits):


And we're doing another set in front of the fence with jeans and a black shirt (Jeff wanted a set of photos that were consistent and matching):


Will you find out if it's a boy or a girl? 

Yes, and we can't wait! We never even considered not finding out... we think it's a wonderful surprise whether you find out in the delivery room or in the ultrasound room, and we're such planners that we both really want to know! I can't wait to start saying "he" or "she" instead of "the baby" or "it." Our 20-week anatomy ultrasound is in August, so we're planning to find out then.

Do you have names picked out?

We're about 99% settled on a boy name, so if baby's a boy, we'll likely share the name before he's born. We're having a harder time picking out a girl name, but we have three that we really like. If baby's a girl, we might end up taking a couple names with us to the hospital and just deciding when she's born which one we'll choose. Or maybe we'll decide on one sooner. We'll see!

Which room will be the nursery?

One of our upstairs guest bedrooms will be the nursery. Of the three bedrooms upstairs, one is my craft room/office, one is the loosely-Texas-themed guest room with an attached bathroom, and the third is the aqua, red, and black guest room. My office gets used way more than any other room upstairs, and it's considerably bigger than the other two (and kind of huge for a nursery), so we decided to keep the craft room intact and give up one of the guest bedrooms instead. Since the Texas guest room has the larger, more comfortable bed and is attached to the bathroom, we figured we should save that room as a guest room, so the red/aqua/black room will become the baby's room.

Future Baby's Room!

I think that covers everything! I'll do posts about how we told our families soon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Little Surprise

We have a little surprise.

A really little one.

Say hello to the newest member of our little family...


We feel so, so amazingly blessed and excited to be welcoming this little baby into our family, and we're so happy to finally share the news!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My 25th Birthday

Speaking of things I forgot to blog about, I turned 25 back in May! When I was younger (like elementary school and middle school), I remember thinking that 25 would be the perfect age. I figured that by the time I was 25, I'd have a wonderful job, a super-cute boyfriend or husband, a closet full of stylish clothes, and a totally confident glamorous life like the heroines in all the chick flick movies. Haha! I don't think that I've quite made it there (I still stand in my closet most mornings thinking what on earth am I going to wear today?!?, and although I'm very grateful for the job I have, the long hours sometimes really stress me out), but overall - I'm just really happy with my life at the moment, and I feel very blessed, so I think 25 did live up to my childhood expectations! 

I always forget to write anything on the blog about my birthday, but this year I wanted to make sure I did because we had such fun little celebrations! The night before my birthday Jeff cooked dinner (what a treat!) and we had Jeff's family over (minus Jeff's mom, who's currently living in South Carolina in their fancy new lakehouse!). I just felt so loved to have everyone together AND to not have to cook dinner! Haha. 

I spent the afternoon of my actual birthday at a bridal shower for a dear friend of mine, and I honestly thought no one there would even know it was my birthday (which was totally fine with me!), but when I showed up the bride and her mom both immediately wished me a happy birthday, and I just felt so special. I've been blessed with such sweet friends. 

My grandparents happened to be in town for the weekend, and my birthday fell on a Saturday, so my parents had a wonderful birthday dinner for me at their house. Such a treat! 

One of my little sisters made this awesome birthday poster for me. I almost cried when I saw it because isn't that just the sweetest thing? I loved it!

Mmm, red velvet cake!

I did at least manage to get myself a super-cute husband by the age of 25. Teehee.


My Parents

My Grandparents

Anyway, it was just a really special weekend for me, and I felt so loved by all of my sweet family and friends! I think 25 will be a wonderful year!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Easter 2014

Oh goodness, y'all. I never blogged about Easter! Life has just been so busy! Anyway, I figured I'd do a quick little post just so everything is sufficiently documented!

We went to church in Cypress with my parents and my littlest sister on Easter Sunday (such an enjoyable Mass, especially after last year's disappointing Easter at church!), then went back to my parents' house for a delicious Easter lunch.


My other sister, Kristen, is living in New York now, and she wasn't able to come home for Easter, but we made sure she didn't feel left out by dressing up a dress form and taping her photo to the top of it. :)


Jeff and I hosted Easter dinner for Jeff's family at our house again this year, and I managed to get exactly zero pictures, except for a couple photos of the carrot cake I made:



I always forget to take pictures when I'm hosting something at our house. I just get caught up in decorating and cooking and totally forget to grab the camera! Jeff's mom brought over a ham, and I made this pork tenderloin with dijon marsala sauce, these roasted potatoes, these green beans, this orzo salad, this rosemary bread, and a baked pineapple dish to go with the ham. Plus that pretty little carrot cake, of course!

It was wonderful to spend the holiday with both of our families, although we definitely wished we could've had real Kristen rather than fake Kristen there!