Monday, August 20, 2012

Visiting Frank's Family!

Frank finished up his seminar last Friday and I traveled to Princeton for the closing barbecue to meet all of his new friends. It was fun to meet them (they were awesome!) but a little overwhelming, especially since they all wanted to hear the full story of how Frank and I met, fell in love and got engaged. I was all, "But I just met you!" It felt funny sharing our story with so many strangers. Frank pointed out afterwards that I don't mind doing that on my blog. But writing comes so much easier to me than speaking... somehow it doesn't feel weird to share our story on here.

Hanging out at the barbecue with Kelly and Octavia
We spent the weekend staying at Frank's parents house. I've had some reservations and worries over the past few months that our religious differences would make it hard for me to bond with Frank's family. This trip set my fears at rest. I really love them! And I feel really comfortable around them. I'm excited to become part of their family. :)

The best part of the trip was Saturday night. Remember a while ago, when Frank and I had just started dating, and I wrote about the time he sang Irish ballads to me from an old cassette tape... and won my heart completely? The singer from that cassette tape is from New Jersey and by an awesome coincidence was giving a concert in Frank's neighborhood on Saturday night. So we went on a double date with Frank's parents to a charming Italian restaurant and then drove out to the concert. It was held in an old historic whitewashed church and Frank and I were the youngest attendees by several decades. The music was toe-tapping, fiddling, Celtic-ballad stuff and we were having so much fun listening.

After a few songs, the singer made an announcement. "There's a young man in this audience named Frank," he said. "Frank's been coming to my concerts since he was a little boy. He fell in love with a girl named Theresa and on one of their first dates he played this song for her - although I can't imagine why he would play my music on a date!" Everyone laughed. "She's Spanish," he continued, "and Frank is Irish. They just recently got engaged." Everyone craned their necks to stare at us and Frank waved while I buried my face in his shoulder in mock-embarrassment. "So here's to the happy couple," the singer finished, "this song is for them." Then he played our song! The Spanish Lady song! I couldn't believe we got to hear it live. I was so happy I couldn't stop smiling. 

We got our picture taken with him in the intermission.

After the concert lots of the elderly couples came up to us to congratulate us. It was darling.

Frank's little sister Jenna works at Starbucks and after the concert his dad suggested we stop by and say hi to her at work. So we did.

She made drinks for all of us. When I went to the counter to pick mine up, guess what I found written on the side.

Tess, future sister-in-law
That made me so happy.

Sunday morning Frank and I went to Mass and then met up with his little siblings for our engagement photo shoot. Jenna and Ethan were incredible. They positioned us just so and set up each picture beautifully. We were enchanted with the final results. I'll be sharing more of those on the blog over the next few months.

Ethan took this iPhone photo of Jenna getting a shot set up jusssstttt right. She's a natural!

Later on Sunday I wandered around their house taking pictures of decorating stuff I like. I LOVE Frank's mom's style.

The hallway leading to the dining room:

Blue and white china collection on a shelf above the dining room table:

Cute little accents on the kitchen chandelier:

Even the curtains and little nooks and crannies are delightful!

The decorations alone should have clued me in that she and I would get along just fine. I believe that two women who share the same decorating style must be soul mates, somehow or other!

Frank worked at Starbucks in high school and college and of course Jenna works there now. This is a family that loves their coffee. In fact they  have a whole station in the kitchen dedicated to it:

Here I am with Frank's sister. It's crazy how much she reminds me of myself at 19. We like the same kinds of books (Betsy-Tacy, Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen...) and have similar personalities. We even look alike! (Don't you think?)

Although we haven't yet spent that much time together, I already love Jenna. I'm encouraging her to talk to me if she needs advice on boys/fashion/school/whatever... I want to be the best big sister for her! I'm happy to say that we stayed up til 4 am on Saturday night chatting about everything going on in our lives. I loved it. I felt so connected to her and happy to grow closer to Frank's family. Frank was also thrilled about it when he found out the next morning!

One of the very best parts of the trip came in a little talk with Frank's dad. We were all hanging out in the kitchen when he told me he had something to say to me. "Ever since Frank was a baby," he said, "I've been praying for his future wife and future marriage. I've done that for all my kids." Frank's brother Ethan started to interrupt at that point to show me something online so I (nicely) said, "Shut up Ethan!", knowing that what their dad was saying would be important. Their dad continued, "I want to tell you how happy I am that you're joining our family. When I look at you and Frank together, and see how much you love him, I know that my prayers for him have been answered." I was so moved that I began to tear up. It was one of the sweetest things anybody has ever said to me.

Afterwards Ethan told me that he was so glad I had told him to shut up... because it proved to him that I felt comfortable and was really becoming part of the family! That made me laugh. Boys can be so funny sometimes!

Their family has two lovely dogs, Duke:

And Lady MacBeth aka "Bethie":

They are adorable. Frank trained Bethie himself so she just adores him and obeys only him when he's home. Every time he leaves for Virginia she lies on his bed for three days pining for him.

Frank's mom is an avid gardener and we feasted all weekend on the amazing produce from her garden. Of course I had to take pictures of it.

Best tomatoes of my life:

One of several vegetable patches in the back yard:

And best of all, they keep chickens! I feel like I was meant to be a part of this family.

Here is Ethan showing me the chickens.

I look like such a city slicker, all nervous to pet the chicken! It was so fun though. Frank wants to eventually own chickens too and I'm all for it.

A million chicken pictures:

Then I hung out on the swing with Jenna, Ethan and Bethie until it was time to leave.

Best trip ever.

Man, I love that family. After all my worrying, you can't imagine what a gift that is. Thanks be to God.


  1. So fun! I'm glad meeting the other side of the family went so well!

    And please do tell, where do you find all of these cute dresses you are always wearing?!

  2. Thanks Allie! I'm basically obsessed with cute dresses... my girlfriends joke about how I should start a boutique called "Tess's Dresses." I order most of mine online from Shabby Apple (greatest company ever - modest yet really cute) or Modcloth. This one in particular can be found here: http://www.shabbyapple.com/p-926-pina-colada.aspx

    The downside to those companies is the dresses are kind of expensive, so I only own about 3 dresses from each site and I saved up for a looooong time to buy them. But I think it's better to have one amazing, modest, high-quality dress from Shabby Apple than 5 cheap ones from another store that are too short or low-cut... so I think it's worth it!

  3. Can I just like and relike this post?! :)

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