|Phone pictures. But this is outside the Straz center for the orchestra concert. They were also playing The Lion King Broadway. Too bad when we looked at tickets they were upwards of $400.|
Life is so many, many things. Even when you think you are doing things in the right way, with the correct intentions, and with strong faith, life just surprises you. I think I made it pretty clear in my New Years Resolutions post that this past year was really hard for us. It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do. When you go months without one because of your fussy baby and then add hours and hours of screaming. Add the pressure of med school. Two other kids. Hospital visits. Property manager head aches. Gluten free cooking. To put it accurately, a few weeks ago on the phone my mom said "I have just never seen so many things happen in one stretch of time to a couple!" Yeah.
We needed a break. In fact, we needed a break six months ago, but when you're barely surviving, it's hard to make that decision. Luckily, our anniversary, my birthday, and Valentine's day all fall within eight days of each other in February and we just took it. We took advantage of our lovely friends here that we trust with our lives, we took advantage of Sterling's schedule right now, and even though it didn't seem like we had the money or the time, we just did it.
And Tampa, you were everything we needed you to be.
We signed up for a marriage conference. At the beginning of the conference she said "Every couple should do this every five years or so. Just schedule it in." And boy, is she ever right! The amazing thing is, we just feel so strongly it was all so inspired for us. There aren't any LDS functions in Florida, so we went through a nurturing medical marriages conference because I thought the outline of the weekend sounded pretty in-line with our ideas. Turns out both presenters were LDS, and almost half of the couples were LDS. That is UNREAL in Florida, so we just couldn't get over it. (Neither could the other LDS couples, we chatted about during pretty much every break, haha.) It made the discussions and presentations ring with so much more power. After one particular speaker another couple raised their hand and commented on the amazing insight the two presenters had. Sterling leaned over and said "It's because they are speaking with the spirit, but those other couples don't even realize what they are benefiting from!" It was just phenomenal. It was powerful.
As with all truths that we learn, I feel myself applying the highlighted ideas from the conference to everything. Especially parenting. In fact, one of the most powerful videos they showed us was a parenting video, and then they asked us to think of that as how we act as couples. But I can't get the parenting side of it out of my head either. Which just makes the circle complete, right?
One of my favorite quotes from the weekend was "The real voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." -Marcel Proust (I think? I can't read my own handwriting on that name, haha!) More than anything, I think this weekend gave us the break we needed to really focus on us again, realize we're both still here, and just ENJOY it. That quote makes the conference sound misty and lovey-dovey. It was actually incredibly practical and real. Which is why I loved it so much.
At the very end they showed a clip from Forrest Gump in Vietnam and after all this rain and mud and rain and mud and horrible conditions it's night and his buddy says "I'm going to lean against you and you lean right up against me and that way we don't have to sleep with our heads in the mud." I just loved that. We came home with some amazing insights and tools to hopefully keep our heads out of the mud. :)
While there we also ate INCREDIBLE food. We had some gift cards from Christmas and the lunches by the conference were all AMAZING. I was so glad we found such fabulous gluten-free options, because we haven't been out to eat very often since Sterling has had to go gluten-free. I don't know if I have ever eaten so well as this past weekend. Unreal deliciousness. Also Thai food. Heaven.
|This was right before I ate the best Thai food of my life. Thank you, rice paper, for being gluten free! Also, due to the candle and flower, we made it our designated Valentine's meal!|
|That almost empty pan in front of his fajitas? The WORLD'S BEST cheesy, bacon fries I have ever encountered. And have been hoping to encounter ever since. Sigh.|
Sterling was the man of the hour and got tickets to the Florida Orchestra. That's the other thing about not having kids around--you remember how much you love to do together that you don't normally get to do! We spent the whole night fantasizing about our retirement and how we'll have season passes to Tuacahn, Hale Center Theater, Capitol Theatre, we'll go to the Shakespearian Festival every year, etc. etc. HAHA. We love music in any shape or form. The symphony was such a HUGE reminder of how much I love instrumental music. Oh it was HEAVEN. It was their Valentine Pop's concert-so all of the popular love songs. They did a Beatle's medley that was hands' down their very best piece. LOVE. They also did Theme from Love Story (a childhood favorite of mine, I also imagine it in my sister Andrea's voice), Moon River, and then the guest conductor was just a riot! He kept the whole thing lively and hilarious. They also had a guest soloist who was a little opera-ish for my taste (I'm a little more broadway lovin') but she was also quite the actress and HILARIOUS so it made the whole concert fun and enjoyable. Also, the rest of the crowd was drinking alcohol, so everyone was having a great time, haha!
We thought about waking up early Saturday before the second day of the conference and walking Tampa's boardwalk. It's supposed to be the third prettiest in the country. I believe it. We could NOT get over Tampa! We even talked about doing residency there because it was just so GORGEOUS! First off, it looked like an American city (breath of fresh air coming from Cuban Miami), and it was beautiful. So, so beautiful. Instead we slept in, which, on a weekend without any kids, has it's own huge merits. We also ate haagen dazs in bed while watching Hitch. Good times.
Then it was back to reality. Molly was not too happy with being left for two days. Sterling and I traded off holding her for about eight hours (sleeping and waking) on Sunday before she was finally convinced we weren't leaving again. Ruth was sobbing that she had to LEAVE Claire's house--hahaa. It's good to be back.
|This was while I was still teaching Sharing Time and Sterling was needing to start teaching Elders Quorum and Molly was still VERY clingy. Obviously not in nursery, haha.|
I don't think we've ever had a better time. We've never really had a 'get-away' that we can remember. We did a quick night in SLC before moving to Florida, but this--we already want to go back. We even talked about flying back for the Hold Me Tight Valentine's conference every five years for forever!!! Gosh, I love my man. It was such a great time. So happy six years to us! And happy Valentine's day! And happy birthday to me!