Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brief update

My parents came for a visit the early part of this week, and just left this morning.  We had such a good time with them, showing them around Miami, opening more wedding gifts, and turning our little place into more of a home.  It was really nice setting up our little kitchen and bathroom more with our wedding gifts... and I'm really excited that I can now make coffee in our apartment.

My husband and I have both been a little sick for about a week now, but we tried not to let that get in the way of my parents' visit.  They met Israel's extended family, and we had dinner at his mom's house one night.  We even took them to IKEA!  It truly was a blessing to have them here for just a few days.  I will update more tomorrow!  :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Out of the Closet

My husband and I like to watch Project Runway.  What started as sort of making fun of the judges’ comments and the contestants’ hairstyles turned into a secret liking for the show.  We actually cheered and gave each other double high fives in the air when the show’s drama queen was kicked off the show in the most recent episode.

I would never mock my husband’s masculinity, so I asked permission to bring up his name in this blog. :) Israel is confident enough in his manhood to admit that he does like fashion and enjoys watching Project Runway (but probably not as much as I do).

We like to teasingly criticize the designers’ pieces with strange correlations before the judges do:  “It’s hard but soft, edgy but feminine, dark but light, warm but cool, flashy but demure…”

Anyone else a fan?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today I went to church in a movie theatre...

... And I liked it!

Israel and I are looking for a Biblical church to attend in Miami.  I'm really excited about going to different churches here and to ultimately get plugged into a church where we can experience true fellowship with other devoted Christians.  I really like the idea of finding a new church where people will know us first as a married couple, and not as Israel's new wife or Elena's new husband, but as a unit.

Today we went to Christ Fellowship in Kendall, only about five minutes from our apartment.  It also happens to meet in a movie theatre!  We arrived ready for service at 10 this morning, and when I spotted the treats table set up in the lobby, I eagerly grabbed a cup of coffee.  We were greeted by many friendly people, and made our way into Theatre 10.  Worship was already in progress, and we recognized many Hillsong worship songs.

The pastor was direct and clear about a passage in James about temptations and faith.  The church is in the middle of a series called Authentic Faith, based on the whole book of James.  I was amazed by how God really used this particular sermon to speak to me about different things going on in my life right now, and I was very encouraged and refreshed.

What I really liked about the church was that not only do they talk about serving and loving your community, but they are actually doing something about it.  They have something coming up next month called LoveMiami where they go out into the community and serve with different projects.

I came away from the service feeling very renewed, and excited to get into the Word and study these passages more.  Israel and I looked up some information about getting involved in a small group, and they have groups meeting almost every day of the week for fellowship.  We're going to try out some other churches before we commit to joining a small group, but for our first church, this was a good one.  I could definitely see us coming back here and enjoying the church very much.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Miami Spice Restaurant Review

For the months of August and September, there is this special program going on called Miami Spice in which really high-dollar restaurants offer a 3-course menu at a much cheaper price.  There are a lot of participating restaurants, almost too many to choose from!  Even one of Emeril's restaurants in Miami Beach was on the list.  The husband and I opted for this place called Smith and Wollensky right by the waterfront, overlooking the whole cityscape.

We ate there last night, and it was really our first time going out in Miami as a married couple, so it really was a lot of fun.  We made reservations the night before, and requested outdoor seating in order to get the amazing view.  When we arrived at the restaurant, we were seated almost right away after handing over the keys for valet parking.

Israel and I had to wait a few minutes for them to prepare our table, so we kind of observed the people around us on the deck.  I think we were both amazed by the fact these people probably eat out at places like this on a regular basis.  Although I'm not sure how someone can feel justified by buying a $3000 bottle of wine:

Pretty outrageous!

We opted for Coke products and water.  :)  We ate some rosemary-sprinkled rolls as we waited for the first course.  I ordered a watermelon and feta salad, and Israel ordered pea soup.

I'm pretty sure I've never had anything like this one before, so it was very entertaining for my taste buds: Watermelons, feta, olives, mint and tomatoes.

For the main course, Israel ordered a filet mignon and I originally ordered the lemon-pepper chicken, but changed my mind at the last second to the filet mignon also.  I've never had filet mignon before, so while I really liked it, I had nothing in my mind to compare it to, unlike Israel who says he's had a bit better before.  We also ordered a nice side of mashed potatoes to accompany the filet mignon.

Are you noticing the size of the knife??

For dessert, I was pretty excited about my White Chocolate Creme Brulee, and Israel was equally excited about his Molten Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean ice cream.  When the desserts arrived, I tapped my fork on the surface of the creme brulee like Amelie, and Israel dived into his cake.  However, we were both a little disappointed.  His Molten Chocolate was not so molten, but a little cold and my Creme Brulee was also on the colder side.  On our honeymoon, we ordered the Crunchy Molten Lava Cakes from Dominoe's a couple times (which is AMAZING-- go order and eat it right now, and you will die of pleasure!), so I think we got spoiled.

Although we were disappointed with the desserts, something then happened that ironically became the highlight of the evening.  

As we were commenting on the couple across from us, I see this cat come out from under their table and head right towards us, looking directly at Israel.  Of course, it knows my dislike for cats, so it comes over to my side of the table and plops down right beside me.  The cat started to look very, very intently at me with the most hungry eyes and it really seems like it's going to pounce on me.  I start freaking out, so Israel tries to shoo it away with no luck.  

He calls over the waiter, and says "Excuse me, but there's a cat hanging around our table."

"...Yeah?"  The waiter asks, as if it's the most natural thing.

"Is that part of the experience?" asks my husband.

The waiter then said that this particular cat just happens to come around a lot, and shoos him off.  But I captured a quick picture of him first.

Although Smith and Wollensky didn't live up to all of our expectations, it was still a really nice experience to eat at a fancy place like that.  It was enjoyable to get out with the husband for a night in the city and to experience more Miami night life!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Wedding

People always tell you that your wedding day will speed by before you even have time to realize it.  Because of how cliché that sounded, I didn’t know if that would actually be the case for our wedding.  However, clichés often have a lot of truth in them!  It really did go by entirely too fast.  Our wedding was so special and so beautiful, that I wish I could have slowed it down at least a little bit.

We were married on a Thursday night (yes, a Thursday—why discriminate days of the week that aren’t on the weekend?) in front of friends and family who traveled near and far.  Israel’s closest friends, mom and brother all came from Miami to Kansas for the first time.  They were so fascinated by the strange and different Kansas landscape, they had various photo shoots in yellow cornfields and farmland.  I even had a friend from high school travel from D.C. just to come to our wedding.  We were both so blessed by everyone around us that day.

My husband and I had planned to have the ceremony outside at my aunt and uncle’s house, because they had a lot of land and a beautiful pond in the back.  There are always weather risks when you plan for an outdoor reception, and we did keep this in mind as we continued planning.  I’m so glad that we had a backup plan, because during the week of the wedding, Thursday was the only day with predicted heavy rain.  Still, you’re not always sure with Kansas whether it’s really going to do what it says it might do, so I was still hopeful on the rainy morning of our wedding.  I was beginning to accept the fact that we might not get to have our wedding in the intended location when I went to my nail lady that morning for an emergency repair job on two badly botched French tips. 

She told me that if it rains on your wedding day, it’s actually good luck.  I’m not really a believer in luck, but I began to really love the whole idea and the beautiful symbolism behind a renewal and cleansing rain on the day you become one with your spouse.  Suddenly, rain didn’t seem such a bad thing after all, but actually, quite lovely.

Since the wedding was at 6 PM, we had the whole day to get ready.   I was a bit overwhelmed before I left my house, because not only was I preparing to leave for our honeymoon, but also Kansas and a whole life behind me.  I had tried to pack as much as I could during the first part of the week, but like most projects, I waited until the night before to finish packing.  I began to get really nostalgic as I sorted through old notes and pictures, and I felt very strange leaving the bulk of my winter clothes there, as I wouldn’t be needing much of them in my new warmer climate.  

From the time we arrived at John and Lavina's house right up to when we walked over to the barn, time really flew by.  I had a whole entourage helping me get into my very fitted dress, with at least 30 buttons down the back.  Everyone was so great at keeping me calm and making sure everything was going smoothly.  My personal attendants were wonderful at seeing to tasks I still don't even know about, and just being all-around awesome.  Israel and I had decided for him not to see me in my dress until I was walking down the aisle, and I am so glad we decided to do that.  

It was finally time to walk down the aisle with my dad to greet and marry my groom.  The barn doors had been opened up, so there was this very comfortable and lovely breeze as I walked through the line of chairs.  My eyes were fixed on Israel, and I could not stop smiling the rest of the night.  I just felt so blessed to have all my close friends in attendance of our wedding, and it really was an honor to see everyone there supporting us.  

There were definitely some comical things that happened during the ceremony, such as the communion cup of wine spilling all across the front of the communion table, leaving a red stain that really looked like a lamb had been slain there!  I'm just glad we were able to light our unity candle despite the wind.  

Although a lot of the day feels like a blur, the part that stands out to me the most is when Israel and I were saying our vows to each other.  The reverence in saying those vows hit me almost for the time as we were declaring our commitment to each other.  That is one of the most beautiful moments of my life, declaring a lifetime loyalty and faithfulness to my husband in front of God and in front of many witnesses.  

We wanted our wedding to be non-traditional and different, because the way we met and our whole relationship is different than most.  We had my Maid of Honor and Israel's Best Man read a passage from Song of Solomon, alternating between English and Spanish.  This communicated not only the union of Israel and I, but also two families from different backgrounds and countries coming together as well.  

The reception was a lot of fun, and it really did feel like a joyful celebration as we danced, ate pie, took pictures in the photo room, and talked with friends.  It was the most joyful day of my life!  :)  I'm so blessed to be married to Israel, and we continue to learn more about each other and the joys of marriage.

A few pictures from our wedding!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In the life of Mrs. Sanchez

I would have been shocked if someone would have told me that I would meet, get engaged to, and marry my current husband all in the span of a year.  As miraculous a story it is of us meeting through my previous blog, it really did happen!  I married the man of my dreams two weeks ago and moved to Miami.

The first time I visited Miami, I was fascinated by the cultural melting pot there.  I met my Cuban in-laws, struggling through my broken Spanish and trying to grasp some kind of understanding despite the language barrier.  Although I studied Spanish in high school and college, it is a totally different thing when you actually have to engage in fast-paced conversations.

Aside from the language issue, Miami really does feel like an entirely different country to me.  It has a very tropical and romantic feel to it, and I'm still amazed by the amount of palm trees here.  Coming from one of the flattest states in the U.S. to one with a very diverse environment, I find it pretty exciting!  I was born and grew up in Kansas for my entire life, so moving to a huge city is going to be a pretty big adjustment.  I'm not only adjusting to a different city, but to a new culture.  I'm hoping to be fluent in Spanish after a year of living here.

As I type, I am sitting at the very spot Israel used to sit every night (which we like to call The Last Supper) when we talked on Skype.  This is at his grandma's house, and Israel's adorable great-grandma Ofelia keeps coming up to me, offering me different kinds of food and juice.  When I'm here, we usually don't exchange more than a few phrases and lots of smiles, gestures, and nervous laughs.  But today, I was on my computer and she asked to see a few wedding pictures.  She was most interested in seeing pictures of my family.  I really can't wait for her to meet my parents when they visit next week.  :)

I'm both excited and a little scared about living in a totally new environment, but I'm up to the challenges, and so grateful for my husband's support and encouragement.  I will be using this blog to write about my experiences with my new Cuban family, living in a new city, writing about different restaurants we will try, and life in general.