Started as Pen Pals
I fell in love with my husband’s writing before we met in person. The modern Kate & Leopold? Not quite. We used to be fans of an Asian TV channel, which was our only source to watch shows in Vietnamese. One day, after Googling an upcoming grand production from this broadcasting company, I stumbled upon Thanh’s blog. It was a satirical piece that drew me in. I found myself laughing at all the witty humor he injected. I ended up reading his entire blog and was amazed with the insights he shared about some of my favorite TV shows. We began communicating via his blog. Then, MSN Messenger (does it still exist?!). And soon, he asked for my number. Our first phone call lasted 6 hours long. To say we had an instant connection was an understatement.
Meeting in Person
Months later, we decided it was time to meet in person and to put a label on our long distance relationship. I was working post-bach for a research lab at the University of Minnesota. He was going to pharmacy school in Philadelphia. Our first kiss (pictured here) was at Centennial Lake. After that, we entered a stretch of 8 years in a long distance relationship. Thanh flew to visit me on a monthly basis. When I began graduate school at Penn State, he started a residency in Michigan. That’s fate for you. During that time, Thanh would drive 12 hours round trip to visit me every weekend. If you thought that was crazy, wait till you read about our year of daily 3-hour commute!
Upon my arrival in Philly, Thanh took me to The Franklin Institute to catch the last planetarium show. Instantly, I knew I was experiencing part one of his proposal plan. Next stop? His apartment. The front door had a sign that read “The Sky Tonight” (which was the title of the planetarium show). On its handle was a rose wrapped in Tiffany blue ribbon. Welcome to part two. His unit was lit by candles that intermingled with roses to form a heart. Shimmering lights behind sheer curtains added to the romantic atmosphere. Then, lights off. The walls illuminated with numerous glow-in-the-dark stars. “Are you ready to apply what you’ve learned? Let’s test how well you can read the constellations.” I laughed and he helped me trace the stars. Each constellation was a symbol of a chapter in our love story. They combine to form a home – “to build an everlasting haven”. Thanh got down on one knee, yet directed my attention to the ceiling. The stars spelled, “Will you marry me?” To him, our story has always been written in the stars…
The Tea Ceremony
We held our tea ceremony on May 20th of 2012, during the auspicious Year of the Dragon. [The numbers 520 also phonetically sound like “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese.] The tea ceremony serves as a way of praying to the ancestors/heavens to bless the happy couple and to officially announce the expansion of the family and the receipt of the bride and groom as a new daughter and son.
Our Castle Wedding
I planned our wedding during my first year in grad school, while Thanh was completing his residency. We were still in a long distance relationship and entertained the idea of a destination wedding since our families are all over the states and the globe. I had envisioned a private beach. Perhaps next to a willow tree. But then, Thanh found my wedding dress. Yes, you read that correctly. 😛 And that dress led us to a castle wedding, complete with a Cinderella coach. I was only missing some glass slippers. 😛 Our wedding was everything we wanted and more: intimate, meaningful, and a true celebration of love.
Our Honeymoon in Europe
Like many, we dreamed of romancing around Europe for our honeymoon. Still jet lag, we took a stroll along the Seine River, ate crepes near the Eiffel Tower, took a selfie next to the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and explored all the iconic monuments in Paris. We ate our way through Venice, starting our day at Café Florian and enjoying a much needed, slower pace. Shout out to Ristorante Trovatore for feasting our stomachs every night. Rome was our last leg. This city captivated us from night one and offered a romantic aura we actually did not find in Paris (surprisingly). I cannot put into words how magical it felt to take a walk through the ancient ruins, flooded with torchlight, while live music played in the background. Rome after dark was grandiose and intimate all at once.
Welcoming Baby Khai
Determined to not have a long distance marriage, we each commuted 3 hours each day for work / graduate school. Thankfully, a year and hundreds miles later, Thanh found a career at Mount Nittany Medical Center. That’s when we decided to start a family, given all the free time we now have. 😛 Khai was a pure delight from the very beginning and we remain ever hopeful he will live up to his name – Chánh (a person of integrity) Khải (joy & success).
Welcoming Baby Khang
In the midst of preparing for the arrival of our second baby, we built a house, I received my PhD, and Khai read up on all the “big brother” books. Weeks before I go into labor, Khai would walk around the house and baby proof it for us. 😍 We were prepared for a difficult baby simply because Khai was, by all accounts, easy. And we couldn’t be lucky twice, right? Well, baby Khang proved us very wrong! He ate and slept well since day one. I especially savor all his cuddles and giggles, knowing he is my last. Our family is so blessed and complete with Khang’s arrival. His name also holds very special meanings – Chí (having grit & perseverance) Khang (joy & peace).
This is us. ❤️