Sunday, October 16, 2011

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Monday, August 1, 2011

2011


 I had all the intentions in the world of posting here on a regular basis in an effort to chronicle our lives and the memories we are making. But then, as always, those intentions were ruined by law school and the bar exam. 

So here I sit, August 1, 2011, having taken and survived all three grueling days of the South Carolina Bar Exam, gearing up to start what can only be described as a dream job at the South Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday. The bar was over on Wednesday at 4:30p.m,., and I have slept a lot since then. I have caught up housework and laundry, run long-neglected errands, been to many appointments that I never had time to schedule, and even let myself go shopping. All because I have time. I don't have to study. And my word, that is a glorious thing.

In an effort to catch up on my original plan of writing down the things we have going on in our lives... here goes the longest recap of all time. Starting where I left off, back at the end of February 2011.

February 2011:

We had the privilege and blessing of becoming full members of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on February 26. We had been visiting ever since we moved to Columbia, and finally decided that we wanted to pursue membership at Trinity. It was an amazing day for us individually and as a couple, as it was a step together towards the lives that we have imagined, and it was the culmination of a lot of prayerful consideration by both of us. I am so sad that I don't have any pictures from that day!

We also decided to take the Inquirer's Class that lasted the whole Spring and is the required course for Adult Confirmation in the Episcopal Church. This was another exciting decision for us because we have committed ourselves to the Episcopal Church and are so happy to have found a church family that believes what we believe, that is so welcoming and warm, that is so historical and beautiful, and that we know will be available to us no matter where we may live. The Inquirer's Class is an intense overview of the Episcopal Church’s beliefs, values, missions, and fellowship opportunities. It met every Thursday night for 8 weeks and culminated in our being confirmed in April {pictures below}. 

March 2011:

We had a fairly busy March this year, with Spring Break and Super Weekend, as well as the beginning of the end of the school year. 

For my last Spring Break ever, we decided to spoil ourselves with a weekend away at Kiawah Island. It was more than I could have imagined and definitely lived up to its reputation. We stayed in one of the Premier Villas that was straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog and had the most perfect view of the ocean. We lived life at a slower pace for 3 days. We ate ourselves silly, walked all around the resort, sat on the porch at the Sanctuary staring at the ocean, stayed up way too late talking about our plans and our dreams, and reconnected without the disturbance of cell phones. It was glorious and exactly what we needed. I came back refreshed and ready to tackle the end of law school. Here are a few of the over 200 pictures I took that weekend.



Our condo from the beach

Love a self-timer!

The Sanctuary Hotel from the beach

Club House at the Ocean Course

Ocean Course




After breakfast on our last day.

Quick stop to see the Angel Oak.




Also in March we traveled to Garden City Beach for Super Weekend with our Byrnes family. It was, as always, a wonderful weekend with people we adore and admire and do not get to see nearly enough. We enjoyed unseasonably warm weather, fellowship, and laughed so hard that we were sore. It is just the best weekend spent with some of our mentors and people who have loved Tyler for almost 8 years now and have welcomed me from day one with open arms. I always leave having been greatly affected by the conversations I have there, completely in awe of the bravery and strength of the Byrnes family members, and feeling extremely blessed and lucky to be part of such a wonderful group. I hate that we only get such little time with these folks throughout the year and that our time together goes by so quickly, but we definitely make the most of the time we do have. Every year I vow to go to bed at a decent hour and get my regular night’s sleep, but every year I am reminded that sacrificing a little sleep for more time with these people is such a good trade! I have no idea where our pictures from this year ended up, but here are my favorites from last year.

Troublemakers.



Some of the young alumni/spouses. I adore this picture.

 The end of March culminated with Brackett's 1st birthday. We did it up right for the sweet little dog {I still call him my puppy although I know he is not anymore} who has made our lives so happy. He is smart, funny, and oh so cuddly, and we are so glad that he is ours! I ordered a birthday cake from PupCakes Barkery and decorated the house for our party for three. It was hilarious and fun and such a sweet memory for me. Of course he thought we were insane, but it was awesome, and your first child only turns 1 once, so you have to do it up right!

Such a good sport.



April 2011:

We started April off celebrating Tyler's 25th birthday on the 5th. I cooked his favorite meal- chicken parmesan with marinara and alfredo sauces, spaghetti, and salad. As it was a Tuesday night, we couldn't exactly paint the town red but I made a point to make sure he was very celebrated. He is such a blessing to me and I am so thankful for his 25 years on this earth and 5 years in my life. We are committed to making this year his best year yet and look forward to celebrating him again next year. Just two days later, we paused to remember the day his sweet mom was taken from this earth. It always makes his birthday a very bittersweet day, as we know that our celebrating will quickly turn to remembering and celebrating her life, but we are thankful for the time she was given here and for the chance to celebrate her every year. {I could, and plan to, write another post about this, and maybe one day I will find the words.}

April is pretty much a blur for me. I know it was a mix of job searching, exam season crunch, end-of-school celebrations, and gearing up for the next phase of my life, but I have very little recollection of the actual month. I very clearly recall turning in my last exam on April 29 {a take home exam for Bankruptcy} and will never forget the feeling of the weight of law school lifting off my shoulders. 

April 30 was Confirmation Day at Trinity Cathedral, where we made our commitment to the Episcopal church and were blessed individually by Bishop Waldo. It was a very moving service and a very exciting and monumental day for us as a couple. Our sweet friend Adam came to watch and support us, which I thought was so kind, and we were welcomed into the Trinity family with open arms. I am not exactly sure yet what God is doing with Trinity in our lives, but I am excited to see where it leads us and in the meantime I remain very thankful that we found a home there.

Talking to Adam at the reception.

The fall and spring Inquirer's Classes with Bishop Waldo

Us with Bishop Waldo of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina


May 2011:

I have been looking forward to May 2011 since the 8th grade. I distinctly remember counting ahead and realizing that I would graduate from law school in May 2011, which at the time seemed like a lifetime away. And it feels like I have lived a lifetime since then. Ready or not, May 6, 2011, arrived and with it came our families to celebrate my graduation. Next to our wedding weekend, it was the most emotional weekend of my life so far. I took time to step back and really absorb what it was that we were doing and exactly what I had accomplished. It was very similar to our wedding weekend, with everyone staying at the Inn at USC and the main event happening on the Horseshoe, but also because I felt overwhelmed to have the love and support of so many people who have known me for different times and all came together over the last 3 years to help make my dream a reality. I was emotionally exhausted at the end of the weekend from smiling and laughing so much, relishing in the company of those we love the most, and really trying to soak in the fact that I am a law school graduate. I will let the pictures do the rest of the talking because at this point, I am not sure that words can adequately describe the moments for me. It started raining at the very end of the ceremony, so I don't have all of the pictures I wanted to take, nor is everyone represented in these, but here is a sample:

Present from mom the weekend before. Heck yes!
Super bright flash but still love her.

Thursday night dinner at Blue Marlin

Friends!

Oh hey, law school boyfriend! Love the IPTAY shirt.

More beautiful friends. 





United States Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor
and United States Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina



Love this picture with all of my heart. 
Post-rain outfit change for Tyler, but still love this picture so much.


Living room photos with the Gaileys




  
Me with Justice Sotomayor. Love her!

Two days after graduation, I returned to the law school to start my BARBRI bar exam review course. There is really no need to describe that other than to say it was a very, very long 9 weeks which I hope to never repeat. The months of May and June are also a blur for me, as I literally spent every waking moment studying for the bar. We knew that we would spend this summer hunkered down at home with very little fun planned, but that is to be expected when you are studying for the biggest test of your life. It was a long, hot, boring summer but hopefully the hard work paid off. The BARBRI lecturers kept reminding us that "a boring summer will pay off with a very good fall", meaning we will {hopefully} be rewarded for our hard work in October when bar results come out, so that became my motto. This is how my sweet Brackett spent his summer, loyally by my side at all times whenever I was at home studying {all of these were taken on different days}:






June 2011:

We did have 2 events in one June weekend that helped save my sanity a little- the James F. Byrnes Foundation June Luncheon and my Mimi's 85th birthday party. We look forward to the June Luncheon every year as it is another chance for us to see our Byrnes family in our own backyard at the Columbia Marriott. Tyler just completed his 2 year term on the Scholars' Board and was very involved in this year's Luncheon, so we got to run the Byrnes Store, which I love because it lets me talk to pretty much everyone in attendance while selling t-shirts and tote bags, among other things. We enjoyed another fun afternoon and are very much looking forward to the Fall Dinner.

I love this awkward picture so much.


That same evening, I headed to Greenville to help prepare for my Mimi's 85th birthday party the next afternoon. It was a really sweet celebration and of course my mom thought of everything which made it that much more enjoyable for everyone. Being that my mom is an only child, Melissa and I were recruited to help behind the scenes, which I just love. This was an especially fun time for the three of us to put together a beautiful afternoon of celebrating. It was so much fun for me to help in the preparations and see the older folks enjoying themselves so much. I found myself serving drinks and waiting on them at one point, letting my own burger get cold, and I realized just how lucky we are to have them all and what a treat it was for me to be there helping them enjoy the party. I know that many of my peers do not have such large families or so many of their elderly family members still alive, so the fact that we have so many of them {in such good health, no less} makes my perspective and experience so special.

My Mimi is one of 11 children, 4 of whom are still alive, which means that she has one heck of an extended family. We had multiple guests who are over 90 years old {yay for good genes!}, yet aside from the very loud talking/yelling they all do, you would not know that they are that old. They are a very boisterous, independent, hilarious group. I relish any opportunity I have to sit with them and listen to their stories. Our family has lost a lot of great people over the years and I have attended more funerals than anyone my age, guaranteed. I can’t help but think that the worst is yet to come. I am not na├»ve enough to think that they will live forever, but my word I wish they could. Having spent so much time away from Greenville lately, I am acutely aware of the little time I get with them these days and try my best to study their faces and commit their voices to memory. For me, this party was the perfect chance to step away from bar review and remember where I come from and what really matters in life, and to celebrate my Mimi.


Total age of these two ladies: 181.

The original four.

Plus Tony {just missing Tyler}

Can't get this to rotate but loved the roman numeral candles.






July 2011:

The highlight of July for me was getting my job!! I interview with Judge Few and he offered me the job on the spot, and I really have no recollection of anything that happened after that. I am so excited about starting at the Court of Appeals tomorrow and am seriously blown away by this opportunity. 

Just as I had been looking forward to May 2011 for so many years, so, too, had I been anticipating July 2011, but with slightly less enthusiasm. I knew that the bar exam was looming and that I had been working towards this time for so many years, but the reality hit me on July 8, our last day of bar review. I knew I had 2 weeks left to study on my own and with a few select friends whom I trust, and then it was go time. And go we did. After 11 weeks of flash cards, lectures, practice tests, practice essays, too many mnemonics to count, and a lot of prayer, it was finally the weekend before the bar. I studied until Friday, July 22, at which point I made Tyler take me to Target to shop off some of my nervous energy. My mom came down to stay with us for the week in an effort to save my sanity. She was a blessing and cooked for us, played with Brackett, brought me lunch every day during the exam, and helped Tyler keep me calm. I know it was a hard job but they managed to keep me sane and I am so very thankful for that. After the longest, hardest three days of testing, I finished the bar exam. While I did not leave the exam jumping for joy as I had imagined I would {thanks, MBE, for killing all of my confidence}, I can now relish in my accomplishments and say that I did it. I didn't let it get the best of me and I truly feel that I did the absolute best job that I could, so the rest is out of my hands. 

The final thing I need to mention to catch us up to today is that we celebrated our second wedding anniversary! Our actual anniversary, July 25, was the first day of the bar so obviously we didn't celebrate on time this year. I did remember to give Tyler his card on the 25th, which is a miracle in itself. We celebrated with an amazing dinner at Ruth's Chris, where we dined on our wedding night and also celebrated our first anniversary last year. It was fabulous, as always, and the perfect reward for both of us after the summer we have had. I could go on for hours about my sweet husband and how thankful I am for him and for our marriage, but I will just say this: I love and appreciate you more than you will ever know, and I know the best is yet to come for us. Thank you for loving me and putting up with me, especially this summer. I would be lost without you. 



Now we are finally caught up and I will hopefully become a regular blogger now that I have a real life!