lukeandmanda

The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Waiting, wishing, studying…Is it August 9th yet?!

I miss my boyfriend. And I miss the beach. Which do I miss more? That’s debatable! (haha just kidding.) Some days, I’d really like to go back to June, when Luke and I took a trip to Gulf Shores with two of our best friends, Will and Jessica. Here are a few pictures from that trip:

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Anyway, since time travel isn’t a possibility, I have to be content with the fact that Luke and I only have 11 more days until I am Lawton-bound! Thank goodness. We are starting to get into the part of the countdown where it gets easier, since we are on the downhill slope of 35 days spent apart! And, let me tell you, the days have honestly flown by sometimes since I have had plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime. My dark, handsome, largely unpopular GRE study book has been keeping me company every day.

Well, it’s the Sunday before test-time, and I still don’t feel as if I am prepared enough. SO for the next few days, enter GRE Study Manual Overload. Joy. But every girl’s gotta procrastinate take a short break every once in a while. Hence, this blog post!
Luke and I have been doing pretty well, despite a few small “discussions” when we were both either tired or cranky after long days at work and annoyed with spending time far apart like this again. Nothing major, though. We have adjusted back to long distance pretty well, which is a blessing, I suppose, since we are still living hundreds of miles apart for a few more months. By the time we see each other again, he will be 1/5 of the way done with BOLC though, which is pretty encouraging, when you consider that after Fort Sill, Oklahoma comes Fort Benning, Georgia! I cannot wait to start that chapter in our lives. Bye bye expensive flights, monthly airport reunions and saying goodbye; hello driving distance! OK, not so fast.
BOLC has been an interesting adventure so far, to say the least. I was really comforted when Luke and his roommate, Matt, felt the need to go to a gun show their first weekend in Lawton to pick up some more ammo and guns because of Sill’s notorious “crime rate.” Umm, what?? Lol. Apparently, many 2Lts have personal belongings stolen from their apartments out there! They are all stocked up now though, so any would-be thieves will hopefully stay far, far away.

We have managed to fit in a few web cam dates since Luke has been in Lawton, and we still talk on the phone every single night, although we both have been pretty busy with our jobs. I love that Luke never fails to wake me up with a sweet text message each morning, and that man says the sweetest things! He does a wonderful job of making me feel loved and appreciated, even from so far away. We try to make an effort to surprise each other once in a while, and I am happy to report that we have both pulled off successful surprises this month! I ordered and paid for two large pizzas one Monday night and had them delivered to Luke and Matt’s apartment for dinner, and they loved that. Then, today I found that Luke sent me a really sweet card and a package in the mail. It must have come in yesterday, so my parents had it laying on the kitchen table for me when I came home this morning! Such a great way to start my day. :]

Anyway, I think Luke and I are both looking forward to our Sunday night Bible study date tonight. That is always my favorite part of the week, by far. Since I am out of new LukeandManda pictures until I go out West, I am inserting a few of the “classics” from the early days of our relationship and ending this post with one of my favorite quotes.

“True love doesn’t mean being inseparable; it means being separated and nothing changes.”- Unknown

Our first Bama game together, and the first time Luke ever visited me in Tuscaloosa. (Labor Day 2010)

Army-Duke game in Raleigh, NC and Amanda met Luke’s parents for the first time!

The Cheesecake Factory in Birmingham, Ala. where Luke met Manda’s parents for the first time! (And we were running late to meet them; Insert gasp.)

Our first Christmas picture! Manda’s parents house, 2010.

More soon. :]

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A once-in-a-lifetime love.

So I have kept myself pretty busy since Luke has been gone (Yes, this is Amanda again. Luke will probably never write a post and it’s somewhat debatable if he even reads this haha.) But anyway, since he left, I have been able to spend lots of time with girl friends and lots of time studying for the GRE. We just completed the Command Inspection at work, so up until Friday, I was super busy there as well. I am starting a new project on Monday, so I doubt that I will have any time to be bored between now and when I see Luke again in just 19 days! (19..I LOVE writing that! We are down into the teens on our countdown now, people…)

I spent one weekend in Mobile, Ala. visiting one of my best friends from high school, Christian Motz (formerly Phelps.) I was a bridesmaid in her wedding last summer, and she and Ben have since moved to Mobile where he is completing medical school at USA. Sadly, I hadn’t seen Christian since her wedding last June, and that was simply unacceptable! So last weekend I road-tripped it down to Mobile and spent the weekend with them.

Christian and I in Mobile Ala. July 2012

We had a blast hanging out again, and even though it rained so we couldn’t hit the beach, we still had a ton of fun! We stayed up until like 1 a.m. on Friday night when I first got there just talking, and then slept late on Saturday and went to lunch at Zoe’s Kitchen. We shopped some and then rented The Vow to watch that afternoon since it was raining. We then met Ben at this really great Mexican place for dinner and went out to The Bicycle Shop for drinks afterward. It was so fun to meet some of their best friends from med school.
All-in-all, I had a great weekend visiting with them. On the five-hour drive home, I had plenty of time to reflect on ‘The Vow,’ and how Channing Tatum (gosh that man is sexyy...an incredibly talented actor) never gave up on Rachel McAdams and the love that they shared. When they got married each of them acknowledged that they were embarking upon a “once-in-a-lifetime love” and that they would go through life together no matter what challenges they may face. I, along with millions of other girls in America, love that line, and it made me realize, yet again, that true love is not always easy. In the movie, the characters faced so many obstacles when “Paige” got hurt in the car crash and lost her memory. She did not remember her husband anymore or the love that they shared, and yet, he never gave up on her. At the end of the movie, they found each other again (or so the audience is led to believe..I still hate how that movie ends with the two of them holding hands and walking away so it’s not extremely conclusive.) But, I believe they got married again and lived “happily ever after.”

See, here’s the thing about happily ever after. It doesn’t begin with a diamond ring or a fairytale wedding and a perfect kiss. It begins from the time you meet your significant other and commit yourselves to one another forever and ever, and let me tell you, the going isn’t always easy, and life is not always a fairytale. It takes commitment and hard work. There are days of sadness, challenges and sorrows, ups and downs, but it is that commitment to stay together and go through all of life’s joys and sorrows with hm by your side that really creates that perfect “once in-a-lifetime love” that  Luke and I share. God has truly blessed us by giving us each other, and even when we are far apart and I am missing him like crazy (like I have been every minute of every day since he left on July 5th), I am just thankful that we have each other to go back to at the end of every countdown.
This summer we were extremely blessed to spend nearly six weeks together in the same place, and we were actually able to fit in a vacation to Panama City Beach, where we had an incredible week soaking up the sun and swimming in the ocean.

Getting drinks at Oceans Grill, Edgewater Beach Resort in Panama City

That night he took me to a nice steak-and-seafood restaurant right across the street from our resort!

Heading out to Firefly for dinner. We are standing outside our cute little golf villa at Edgewater Beach Resort.

When we embarked on this vacation, we had heard tons of warnings about bad weather with Hurricane Debby scheduled to strike PCB on the day or our arrival. Despite one afternoon of rain though, we had perfect sunny skies the entire rest of the trip. We even got to swim in the ocean that first day after they changed the double red flag to a single red flag, which made the trip all the more interesting, in my opinion– bigger waves = more exciting swimming! Haha We were just so thankful to have beautiful weather when we had been told we’d more than likely have to evacuate due to the storm. God had other plans for us however, and we enjoyed a wonderful 5 days at the beach instead.

View from our condo after storms from Hurricane Debby cleared out

To me, there is such promise to be found in those glorious rays of sunshine that come out after every single storm. Yes, long distance relationships are challenging, and the military adds another interesting aspect to that challenge. You never know what the Army will throw at you on any given day, but that’s part of the fun. As Luke says often, our relationship certainly isn’t boring! We get to travel all over the place and eagerly  fly hundreds of miles to see each other month after month, even if our actual time together on the ground is only 24 hours or so. And we have been willingly doing this for more than 2 years now. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? haha it sounds like our version of “happily ever after” to me.

I would guess that at this time three weeks from now, I will be happily snuggled in his arms in Lawton, Oklahoma. But for now, I can just be thankful that I have him at all– through all of the missing him and the difficulties of being so far apart, I know that we will continue to love each other and endure any challenges life (or the Army) sees fit to throw our way. I am so thankful for my once-in-a-lifetime love.

The silver lining in saying goodbye…

It’s only “see you later.” 3.5 days ago I sent Luke off to Fort Sill with a forced smile on my face and a big kiss.

Goodbyes are never easy! But true love endures anything.

Luke preparing to hit the road for the next 13 hours, en route to Fort Sill, Oklahoma

I thought I would lose it after he climbed into his truck and drove away! But besides tearing up a little, I actually did pretty well. We only ran back for ONE more big hug, and then he followed me out of the neighborhood. We kept waving at each other and blowing kisses at traffic lights, and I am pretty sure all of the drivers around us thought we were insane. We finally split off though — me to go into work and he to hit  the interstate and head West.

We have experienced many “countdowns” in our 25 months of dating, but I have found that the hardest time to say goodbye is after we have spent a long time together in the same place such as this last time. We experienced almost 40 days together as a “regular” couple, and now we must transition back to a “distance” couple. I’m not saying it’s easy because it really, really isn’t, but I am trying to have a positive attitude as we start this new chapter in his Army career. In the process, I have uncovered a silver lining in being hundreds of miles apart once again:

1. I get a sweet, romantic text message from him every single morning once more. (It’s like West Point 2.0)

2. I know that we will get to talk on the phone at the end of every day. When you are far apart, you find that you actually TALK and LISTEN to each other a lot more! Therefore, I feel like we are even more emotionally connected than close-distance couples most days.

3. Web cam dates! It’s so cool to be able to see him from so far away. We are planning for our first one at BOLC tonight, and I cannot wait to “see” him while we watch a TV show together.

4. A renewed commitment to couples’ Bible study and praying together. We have a Bible study book that we go over every Sunday evening, and we make sure that nothing distracts us from this. When he was down here visiting though, we forgot the book a couple of weeks and kind of fell off the wagon a little because we were so busy with worldly things. Now, I know we will be able to commit wholeheartedly to our joint study of God’s word.

5. More time to study for the upcoming GRE/focus on work for Business Executive magazine. I am looking forward to acing the GRE on August 3rd (I hope!) and I know that this distance will give me plenty of time to study and prepare as well as write a couple of magazine articles that are due. At the same time, I know that Luke will be able to focus on BOLC much more as well.

6. Time with girl friends! I have seriously missed all of my girls and had so much fun hanging out, shopping and getting my nails done with Katlin Baugh and Chelsea Coggin this weekend.

Chelsea, Manda and Katlin. Gotta have “The Barnes and Noble Picture” haha. Bridgestreet- 2012

I also got to spend last night with Jessica Belue, and I have road trips planned to see Christian Motz in Mobile and Lauren Killen in Tuscaloosa during July.

7. Our next trip is already booked! That’s right — I never let him leave without booking the next trip so he cannot get rid of me haha Just kidding. But seriously, we are already looking forward to spending a few days together in August before I go back to school.

8. Awesome memories. Let’s face it — his graduation leave was seriously epic. And I am going to be busy editing pictures from our time together, finishing up his West Point scrapbook with pictures from Grad Week, and reminiscing with him about all of the fun we had.

Speaking of memories….

Two nights before Luke left, I planned something of a “serial date” for him, where I surprised him by taking him to a whole bunch of different places scavenger-hunt style. At each place, I would give him a clue about where we were headed next.

I tried to make it as “manly” as possible, since he has planned so many romantic dinner and movie dates for me. I was thrilled when he said it was one of his favorite dates EVER at the end of the night! Here’s a glimpse into what we did:

First, I handed him a sheet with “The Rules” of the evening.

After I made it clear that he would NOT be able to guess our next destination, I handed him the first clue. Remember: “Manly date” haha :]

Now, I know I am clearly not the best at coming up with these clues (as you will see) haha It is really difficult to make them rhyme. But, even I wasn’t expecting Luke to take one look at this one, glance up, and yell.. “CAT!”

I was like Umm…noo??? haha “Read it again, babe.” He claims he only read the first line and was picturing a lion or something. Needless to say, this activity did not, in fact, require him to catch our cat Lucky for a game. Instead we played a game of HORSE in my driveway for about 20 minutes, during which, this former high school basketball star promptly kicked my butt.

The next clue led us up to Monte Sano Mountain for an “evening stroll.” We went up there once before when I was Christian’s bridesmaid, so he knew the general area, and we loved hanging out up there for about an hour.

Such a pretty date location! I grew up going to Monte Sano and just love the curvy roads and walking paths. We also got to swing for a few minutes on the playground.

Manda and Luke- Monte Sano in Huntsville, Ala. July 2012

Next, up: dinnertime!

I took him to Dreamland for ribs! I have been promising to take him there forever and am glad we finally got the chance to go.

Just me! I think he liked this a lot better than some of the fancier places we usually go to on date nights.

And we just so happened to pick a booth with the following sign:

Yes, the ever present elephant in the room. This was totally not on purpose either! OK, you can have him for 5 months, but then he is all MINE :]

After dinner, we headed to Barnes & Noble so that I could buy him the next book in the Sharpe historical fiction series that he is reading authored by Bernard Cornwell. I figured he’d have a lot of downtime in the evenings and might have time to read during BOLC.  Sure enough, he told me he started it last night!

Going to buy “Sharpe’s Prey.” He is so sweet! It was HIS date, and he even bought me a book while we were there, as well.

After B&N, we went on to Target to buy some ice cream so that we could make Captain/Coke floats for dessert. (Surprisingly good if you like sweeter drinks..)

Picking up a pint of good old vanilla Haagan Daz ice cream.

We headed to the pool in my neighborhood for the final stage of our date, and a neighbor just so happened to be shooting off fireworks for the 4th of July a night early. We sat back in the water and enjoyed a really neat fireworks show, while sipping our drinks. It really ended up being such a perfect night!

Luke at the pool in Greenlawn- July 2012

Looking forward to many more nights like this! After all, it’s really only “see you later!”

“I don’t want this night to end.”

West Point graduation and summer leave

Well a LOT has happened since I last blogged. I am not the best at keeping up-to-date in the huge, wide world of blogging, but at least my habitual procrastination allows me to post a mega update on the life of Luke and I. So it is July 2, obviously, and Luke has graduated from West Point and is now serving as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. I would be remiss if I did not post some pictures from USMA Grad Week, so see below.

Friday was the graduation parade, where all of the cadets marched onto the parade field, and then the graduating class of 2012 symbolically separated from the Corps of Cadets. After the parade, we had a photo shoot with the famous Jill Knight!

Group picture! From L to R: Uncle Tom, Aunt Brenda, Kevin Bradshaw (Luke’s dad), Samuel Bradshaw (brother), Amanda Sams, Luke Bradshaw, Sally Bradshaw (his mom), Aunt Susie, Aunt Mary and Milos
Photo Credit: Jill Knight (jillographyblog.com)

This is one of my favorite pictures of Luke and I while he is wearing his cadet uniform.
Photo Credit: Jill Knight (jillographyblog.com)

Photo Credit: Jill Knight (Jillographyblog.com)

That night was our last West Point formal banquet. Such a bittersweet time.

After a very late night, we got up early the next morning and were in the stadium by 7 a.m. for the graduation ceremony itself. Despite an extremely hot day, there was nowhere else in the world I would have rather been. I know that we will remember this day for the rest of our lives.

A few hours later, he was officially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Colonel Crowe (Luke’s mentor in high school) flew all the way up from North Carolina to perform the commissioning ceremony. It took place  in front of the George Washington statue at West Point.

His mom and I pinning the “butter bars” on his uniform!

It’s official! Luke Bradshaw is an officer, and I have never been so proud to be his girl.

And then the rain came pouring down, so his first picture as a 2Lt was taken quickly when he was already soaked, but I still think he looks very handsome.

After graduation, we took a little road trip down to Annapolis, Maryland to watch Luke’s childhood best friend, Jon Teague, graduate from the United States Naval Academy. We really enjoyed spending time with Jon and his girlfriend, Laura.

We then headed to Hickory, NC to see Luke’s parents for a few days. After a short stint in Indianapolis for a leadership conference, I went back to work in Huntsville, and Luke joined me a few days later for our two-year anniversary of dating.  We went to Connor’s Steak and Seafood at Bridge Street and then went to see the movie ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ with Cameron Diaz (such a funny movie!). It was a pretty great date, since our first date ever on June 5, 2010 was actually dinner and a movie at Bridge Street.

He has been spending the rest of his summer leave with me at my parents’ house, and we have had many adventures in our month together including (but not limited to): meeting two of our best friends, Will and Jess, at this cute French restaurant in Birmingham, going to a wedding celebration BBQ for friends from work, cooking together, eating Mexican several times (yay for me!! Not so exciting for him), and spending a weekend in Gulf Shores with Will and Jess. Luke actually got the worst sunburn of his life during this trip, but it was wonderful, just the same.

We have also fit in a week at Edgewater Beach Resort in Panama City Beach, a birthday celebration dinner for my younger brother, Ethan and a surprise visit up to Hickory, NC to see Luke’s parents again. (Pictures to come later!)

We have three days left until he has to leave for Fort Sill, Oklahoma to begin BOLC (basic officer’s training). We are planning to make the most of these next few days, including a date tonight (You guessed it: I want Mexican again lol) and a 4th of July celebration. I am off of work all day on the 4th, so we will get to spend the entire day (and Luke’s favorite holiday) together. It has been so fun to be a “normal” couple for this past month, and I know it is not a month I will soon forget.

More later.

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