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August 22, 2012


Who would have thought that after  731 days -- two years -- of marriage, that one could possibly have writer's block?  Oh, don't get me wrong, I have plenty to say. But how can I organize it? How can I make it concise?  How can I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys?) in order to tell a story when that story has just begun?  Yeah, I don't know either.

But what I can say is that I love being married.  It's hard to describe sometimes, this communion of everything incredibly important and everything so simply mundane, a daily dance that reveals not only the best of you, but the worst of you as well.  

It's not every day that I would find myself quoting a romance novelist on matters of love, but I think Jodi Picoult really penned truth when one of her characters said, "Maybe you expected marriage to be perfect - I guess that's where you and I are different. See, I thought it would be all about making mistakes, but doing it with someone who's there to remind you what you learned along the way.”

Seeing yourself reflected in a marriage relationship is often a more accurate mirror than an actual piece of reflective glass itself.  And sometimes that's painful. Because sometimes we are ugly.  We make mistakes.  But other times... other times the companionship and covenant between us is so sweet that I can't help but think I couldn't possibly love him more.  And then the next day I do.  Nothing will teach you more about forgiveness -- both the asking for and the giving os -- than marriage.  It's a sweet juxtaposition of receiving love and receiving grace that teaches one how to give love and grace as well.

I suppose I could continue, but I think most people come here for the photos, so considering I never posted a wedding blog (would YOU sit in front of your computer uploading photos just days/weeks/months after moving to Europe? Yeah, me neither), here are a few of the actual day in all of it's [sweltering] glory.  If you missed it, be glad you stayed inside your air conditioned house... it was crazy hot!

Our invitation, designed by David Duong,
Programs and American and Portuguese flags to wave at the recessional
Isn't my dad so handsome?
The joining of two cultures: as sand from the ocean's shore in Portugal and red clay from the soil in Georgia are impossible to separate once poured together, so is the bond of two people united in marriage.

Did anyone end up with all these flags after the wedding?  I still have no idea where they went!
He makes me laugh every day... 

Fabulous friends... two of which flew across an ocean to stand next to us on this day!

We chose this historic plantation house as our wedding venue because we were able to
personalize every empty space as if it was our own!
Luis dancing to Portuguese music with this mom
The disco line dance, made famous by my college roommates, has now officially
been danced at each of our 5 weddings. So thankful to have these girls at my side!
I think everyone would agree that the highlight of the night was both of our dad's dancing together. As you can see, they were the center of attention!
My extended family, all the way from up der in da nort'!
The beautiful historic plantation house 

For more photos, visit Rosanna Marie's blog, where our wedding  was documented: Part 1 & Part 2.

Upon our arrival to Portugal just 9 days after the wedding, I met a lot of Luis Miguel's extended family and friends who weren't able to come to the States for our wedding.  We were blessed that even after helping us with the cost of the wedding, Luis's family threw us a fabulous reception for next to nothing!  Everyone contributed by bringing food, wine, and desserts.  Luis's godparents supply a large metropolitan hospital with all the pastries in their cafe, and they operate their business out of an in-home warehouse, which they so kindly donated for our reception.  We draped sheets over the ginormous shelves of flour and sugar and they set up quite a lovely dinner considering it's... well... a warehouse!  It was quite overwhelming, as everyone felt the need to meet me (and touch me a lot while doing so... they're freindly people, those Portuguese), but it was so fun to have a peek at how a Portuguese wedding reception could be! And let's just be honest... not every girl gets to wear her wedding dress a second time! Unfortunately, the day we planned the dinner for ended up being the same day as the wedding of the son of the most well-known wine producer in Pinhel, and it just so happened that ALL FIVE photographers were booked months in advance for his wedding that night!  Bummer.  Thankfully I had brought my own camera and snapped a few photos, then a kind cousin carried it around all night so that we could be included in the photos!  We even managed to sneak outside before the party started ans snap a few that "looked European"! :)

The wedding cake!  And yes, those are huge chunks of shaved white chocolate!

The Portuguese frequently have 3 or 4 desserts at a normal dinner party, so obviously we had like 20!
That's 3 tables of desserts, people.

Lots of Portuguese food!
Dancing with Luis Miguel's parents
This guy played for us and is extremely talented!
One traditional Portuguese dance puts the couple in the middle of the circle while
all the others  walk and dance in a circle around them, clapping and singing...
...and then they all come toward the middle in one big squeeze!
cousins and friends
Really love the doors in Pinhel...

Couldn't resist... it was like a human picture frame!  Wish we would have stood up as well!
I'm all "Does it look European? I need it to look European..."
And then... a little over a year after, we were crazy blessed when we actually got our real European pictures!  Our American friends hosted some American photographers here in Coimbra to do free photo sessions, and they invited us to be a part of it!  Since we had planned our wedding, I had always wanted to get photos in Coimbra with me in my dress and Luis in his suit, so this was an opportunity that I would not let slip away!

This was parked all by itself outside of the train station, and asked Luis if he thought I would get shot if I just jumped on.  He was skeptical, and I glanced at an old man sitting on the stairs, he nodded, seeming to give me his approval.  After asking if it was his and receiving an affirmative response, of course I asked if I could get on.  Aren't you glad I did?

Our little corner of the world...

And then a bird pooped on my dress and in my hair, signaling the end of the photo shoot.  Good thing I was in Portugal, because the Portuguese say it's a sign of good luck!

All photos by Kim Lewandowski
This year, we spent the weekend before our anniversary in London visiting my dear friend Ang from high school. What a blessing to still be in touch,  not only for friendship's sake, but also to share experiences: 5 years before I did, Ang married her very own European and moved herself 'cross the sea as well.  And how lovely it was to reminisce, share stories of being foreigners abroad, and just simply be ourselves together. There is nothing like living in another culture to make you realize how valuable the friendships are with people who knew you when you were young and remained friends with until now.  So thankful for this family for hosting us for the weekend and for making our trip so enjoyable!

Pete, Ang, Madeline, and Nate, rocking a PB&J like it's his job...
Their personalities in a nutshell...
Friends for the last 15 years... and as Ang said, we haven't aged a bit!
Since we love the ocean and, well, it's free to enjoy, we decided to spend the afternoon of our anniversary there.  It was the most brilliantly sunny day near our house, but unfortunately the beautiful, white puffy clouds turned low and grey at the shore. We still enjoyed ourselves as we relaxed and read on the sand, though!  

I'm so thankful for you, Luis Miguel Almeida! And just as I mentioned on our anniversary last year, being in love with you did not arise from a single moment, but in many moments strung together, constantly arriving one after the other, like ocean waves on this very shore. And the best part about those moments that arrive like constantly rolling waves?  From where we stand now, it's impossible to see the opposite shore; these moments will continue to roll in, day after day, year after year.  The opportunities to fall in love again and again will never end.  And for that I am forever grateful.  Thank you for showing me what unconditional love looks like every day.

Happy anniversary, my sweet Love!


  1. love this latest update on your married life...happy 2nd wedding anniversary! I/we remember it like it was yesterday! love and hugs to you both, Paula and Denny