Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jerry and Mel Say "I Do", Part 2

So 9 PM came and went, and I started to worry. My parents were supposed to have landed in Detroit (coming from Canada and transferring at Chicago) at 7 PM. They were planning to be in Ann Arbor around 9. Why hadn't they called yet? So I waited... and waited.... chatted up with Eunice and Irene as we lay in bed, just waiting. Eunice had drank a huge cup of coffee at Comet Coffee, so she couldn't sleep, haha! :) Anyway, around 11:00 - I get a call from my dad.

"Hi Mel. We are stuck. Our flight is delayed. We won't be there until midnight." My dad was on the other line, still sounding optimistic.

"Okay, we'll see you when you get here!"

An hour later...

"Hi Mel. Can you look up train and bus tickets for us? Our flight was cancelled and I don't think we will make it on another flight tonight or tomorrow."

Every bride's worst fear... or mine, anyway. Having my parents there was the most important thing (besides actually marrying Jerry) to me and to think that they might not make it... I was sad and upset. Irene prayed with me and we fell asleep eventually, but not for very long periods of time. I kept waking up hoping that my parents would call again, but they never did. Because my parents have international phones, they could call me, but I couldn't call them back. So I waited.

And waited.

Finally at 6:30 AM - a call.

"Hi Mel. Dad was in the hospital last night." This was my mom now.

"What?! Why?!" 

"He hurt his back. We are in the hospital now. But things are okay."

God, why did You allow all this to happen? During such an important week? Questions swirled in my head. What could I do? What could anyone do? It was that feeling of helplessness. My mom hadn't wanted to call me - she knew I would be worried. And she was right. There was nothing to do but pray and hope they would make it and my dad would be okay.

I remember just feeling waves of guilt. If they didn't have to travel all this way for our wedding, he wouldn't have gotten hurt. Why were they stuck in a place that I couldn't get to? I couldn't do anything. I hated that feeling.

Luckily, God works in the most amazing ways.

The next morning, we (Eunice, Irene, and I) got up and ate breakfast at Webers. It was nice to spend time with these girls and just take my mind off of things for a bit.

Eunice and I also spent part of the afternoon watching the Bachelorette. :)

We love our reality TV shows :) And the guy we were rooting for won in the end!

I spent parts of the day on the phone with the airline company getting my parents' luggage information and on the phone with them figuring out what was going to happen with their travel plans. At this time, my mom had contacted a family friend who was coming to our wedding from California. This is where the story becomes God-filled, because only God could have orchestrated such good timing. The couple had stopped in Chicago to visit some friends before making the drive to Ann Arbor, and when my mom called them from the hospital Tuesday night, they were still in Chicago! The next morning, they picked up my parents, checked them into a hotel to rest, and planned on driving together the next day (Thursday). This is one of the things that week where I look back and say, "That was all God."

That night was my bridal shower. Irene left with Tiff to set up, while Eunice stayed and hung out with me. We napped a little and then had dinner at Webers.

Meanwhile, the girls set up the Knox music room. :) It was so cute!
Haha, Sky! These balloons were so big!
Sky and Tiff.

Tiff and Irene!

Marylee - my wonderful discipler during grad school :) She got us the location for the bridal shower!

Too cute!   

Irene picked Eunice and I up and off we went for a night of celebrating and girl time! :)

Tiff explaining the rules for the games.

 There were games - "How well do you know Mel?" (which Eunice won!), toilet paper dress making contest (which Maggie won), and gifts :) Even though I told people not to bring gifts, there were still a lot! I am so blessed with the ladies in my life!

The food! Everything was so good. I wish I could've eaten more!

All the ladies :) Thanks for coming!!

Practicing for the big day? Hahah!

My girls... pointing to their favorite photos?

All the toilet paper dresses, haha!

Me with my now mother-in-law :) It was special that she came!


Our "silly" photo :)

My girls! (minus Jodi) Tiff got us all pins (bride-to-be and bridal party). It was too cute. I loved it all!
It was a lovely shower, and I was so happy to see all these wonderful ladies who have been a part of my life for so many years. It was great to be together again!

To be continued!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jerry and Mel Say "I Do", Part 1

Hi friends! So I thought it was about time I sat down and started to blog about our wedding. :)

 Jerry and I left Alexandria the Tuesday before our wedding. We drove to BWI because we decided to fly Southwest, and our flight was smooth. We got to Ann Arbor and it was pouring rain! We had forgotten an umbrella, but luckily we didn't have to be outside to get our rental car. We ended up with a black car that looked sort of like a newer Rolls-Royce. It was really long and boxy, but perfect because we had a lot of luggages! :)

We headed straight back to Ann Arbor to apply for our marriage license (we cut it close!) and meet with our coordinator at Knox to finalize our ceremony details. This was a very interesting meeting, because I had never met with the coordinator until now - everything was through email. She was very insistent about some things (candelabras - I had written we didn't need them, and we ended up with them because she said it would be pretty. It was, but she was a little pushy about it). After the meeting at Knox, we headed back to Ann Arbor and had sushi with Eunice and Irene! It was so good to see them again and for us all to sit down for a meal together.

So lucky to know these girls!
Excited to be married in a couple days!
Sadako - one of our favorite sushi places. We still crave it sometimes!

After lunch we went and checked into Webers Inn, where all of our wedding party stayed and some family, too. It was really nice. We got a room next to the pool. 

Eunice and I rested a little bit, and then we went back to campus to have dinner with my sister at Sava's! Still love their sweet potato fries :)

After that, Irene picked Eunice and I up and the three of us headed back to Webers to rest for the night. I put on my dress so they could take a look at what the bustle looked like. This was also a moment where I was praying the dress would still fit me! The last time I tried it on was at my fitting, which was half a year ago in January. Luckily, it fit perfectly! :)

Tuesday night was not quite as fun. It became the longest night ever... to be continued! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Normal

Well, this weekend ends the first week of Jerry and I being back in Virginia and both being back at work! It was mentally and physically exhausting for me. I slept 9 hours last night and then just took a 3 hour nap from 11 AM - 2 PM. Oops.

Anyway, we went to Taiwan for 10 days for our reception there! It was great fun, and the trip was way too short, it seemed! It was really great to see all my relatives and meet Jerry's relatives. My aunt sang for us at our reception, and so did my sister and cousin Angeline. It was beautiful. Our reception there was really different from the one in the States - I got to wear 3 dresses in the span of 3 hours, and there was a lot more structure (like, after I changed into the second dress, we had to do another entrance, so Jerry and I had to wait outside for like 10 minutes until our "cue" to go in). The only downside was we didn't get to eat any of the delicious food at our reception. :( It sure looked good, but between everything, there was just no time to eat.

This past Monday I started going back to work. It was teacher work week this week, so no students yet, but we had to get our classrooms ready and attend professional development sessions. Wow, I was really exhausted and overwhelmed! Still being jetlagged, Jerry and I would wake up around 4-4:30 AM every morning, regardless of when we went to sleep (usually around 10, though!). Jerry would go to work and I would try to sleep some more before waking up for good and going to work as soon as the building opened. This always ensured I had a good parking spot, though, so there were some positives. :) I got my room into acceptable shape with some decorating, but it took so long! I was pretty excited going into it - I didn't know how much work it takes to get a classroom into order! There's so much to think about - functionality, accessibility, aesthetics, etc. Just to name a few. I must have rearranged the furniture like 5 times! Luckily, because Jerry went to work so early, he willingly stopped by after work everyday to help me do random things in my classroom. I will be always grateful to him - such a sweet husband :)

Well, back to relaxing this weekend - Monday will come soon enough! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Life Lately

The best shot I have of our rings so far, from my iPhone. :)

So Jerry and I were counting... as of today, we have been married 12 days. :) We've really enjoyed newly married life so far ... there's been a lot of food:

Zucchini casserole, grilled asparagus with mushrooms, homemade mashed potatos, and fresh squeezed lemonade! Perfect dinner for a hot summer day.

Yesterday I attempted the macaroni and cheese recipe from Ree Drummond's "The Pioneer Woman Cookbook". I substituted cheddar cheese with pepper jack and mozzarella for some spicy flavor, and skim milk for whole milk to make it less fatty, haha! It was delicious!
We are enjoying this season of our lives for the time that we have it. We leave for Taiwan on Saturday and I go back to work 6 days later, so summer is almost ending for me as well! I haven't started thinking much about next year yet - I know that time will come soon enough, and I just want to enjoy this time right now where we don't have a whole lot to do and can just enjoy each other.

We're big homebodies - after Jerry comes home from work, we treasure the time we can spend together at home - eating a home-cooked meal, enjoying each other's company, sometimes just cuddling and not saying a word. We are really enjoying the "togetherness" of marriage - it's new, and it's comfortable. Something I treasure deeply.

I'll be sure to take some photos of our place to post soon - it's looking more and more like home :)

Friday, July 1, 2011


Our first kiss as a married couple! We did not rehearse this or talk about what kind of kiss we wanted, but I think it happened pretty perfectly :)

 Well, friends, we did it! Jerry and I flew back to Ann Arbor, MI last Tuesday in preparation for our wedding. I plan to blog a lot about the week leading up to our wedding, but I'm waiting for some photos so I can make my posts more interesting. :) We were married on June 25th, 2011, and despite the crazy week leading up to our wedding, our wedding day could not have been more perfect! It was better than our wildest dreams, and we partied until almost midnight before going back to the hotel! It was awesome.

We are now back in VA, settling into our new "normal" life. It definitely feels subtly different - I no longer need to leave to go back to my own place at night, we are sharing closet space and a bathroom, and we eat dinner together every night (and I get to cook daily! So much fun - I am trying out some new recipes and Jerry is being a good sport about it, haha!). I don't think it has really sunk in yet - we are just enjoying ourselves completely. 

This blog will now also contain stories of our adventures as newlyweds, as we want to keep our friends updated on what's been going on! So check in often! :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections of a 1st Year Teacher

I am sitting here tonight, honestly in awe of how quickly this first year of teaching has been. What a year! There have been many successes and many "I-can't-believe-I-just-did-that" moments. There have been smiles, hugs, and tears. I have been stretched and challenged in ways I did not anticipate, and yet I have come out of it, even more appreciative of this calling God has instilled in me.

I remember hearing the calling the first time at Urbana 06 (oh, what a long time ago that was!). My heart was drawn towards God's mission for urban children. I had my heart set on it and my plans all drawn out - I would go to grad school somewhere, get my teaching license, and teach kids that needed an opportunity to succeed. He ended up placing me in Alexandria, VA.

At first, it really didn't seem to match up. Urban kids? My school is located in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in this city! However, the more I got to know my students and their stories, the more I see why God has called me here to serve these particular students. Many of my students are those students I desired to teach - the ones with less opportunities, the ones with burdens you could not even imagine. I have seen them all persevere and make incredible progress, and I am blessed to be a small part of it.

Friends, I so wish you could have been there with me today. Knowing that my time with these students is drawing to a close, I used a small grant from the school PTA to buy my students two books each that we had read together over the course of a month. These were beloved books to us, and you should have seen their eyes light up when I handed them the books.

"Are these from the library, Ms. Pan? Where did you get so many?" One student asked.

"No, I bought these, and these are for you to keep. They are yours." I smiled.

One student clutched the books to her chest. Another couldn't keep from flipping through the pages and reading the familiar story. All of them gave me hugs. But what mattered the most was not the appreciation from the students (although that was so sweet!) - it was seeing them get excited about books and excited about reading. For some of my students, these are the first books that they have ever owned. It gave me such joy to see them so excited to get the new books. One of my students even closed his eyes tight and said, "I can't wait for the surprise, Ms. Pan!" He was delighted.

And that is truly special. This is why I love what I do. I have learned and grown so much this year. I have made many mistakes, but also learned how to be a better teacher and a better learner myself. I am looking forward to what next year brings. :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Changing Identity

As our wedding approaches in two months (!!!), I've had a lot of time to think about the issue of identity. Our identity changes so many times in life - but some things remain the same. We will always be sons and daughters of our parents, no matter our age, and we will always be boys and girls. Some identities do become part of us as we get older - student, our professions, wife, husband, mother, father, etc. You get the idea.

So as I think about our wedding coming up and being married to Jerry, a part of me wonders how my identity will change. I will no longer be "Jerry's girlfriend" or "Jerry's fiance"... I will become "Jerry's wife." Now that's a weird thought. It's strange to think that 5 years ago when we met, I was just 18 years old, and he was 20. And look at us now... both working (by the grace of God), living in a new area, becoming real adults in the real world. Jerry will also no longer just be Jerry, but he will be my husband. Weird. Definitely exciting, but weird to think about. We will no longer live separately - we will have place that will be ours.

Over breakfast the other day, we were talking about what we will miss after we get married. Marriage is a wonderful, blessed thing - but it does come with sacrifices and many changes. Jerry said he would miss having money to spend on things just for himself (and I agreed). I told him I would miss having my alone time - although we both agreed to give each other space everyday just to clear our heads after work alone.

I'm nervous for this new identity to become a part of me, but definitely more excited than anything. It will be a huge transition for both of us, but one that I think we are both ready for!