Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I've never been more proud of my husband

Yes, it's been months. Let's just skip that for now.

It has been a stressful couple of weeks. Things at my job had gotten progressively worse, I recently started a new business venture parttime, and school has been reaching the boiling point. My job at NPUC has been the brunt of my stress recently. I won't go into that right now, but suffice it to say, that even though Jon and I were preparing to get me out of there and he had recently gotten a bunch of interviews and interest (which was a HUGE deal for us; he's been graduated for two years and not a single interview despite all of his efforts), we were comfortable, but not officially ready for me to quit. Well, it seems that God had other plans. And He wanted it done in such a way that I would A) not put it off B) not continue to try to work there full time, or part time, or even per diem and C) never, ever go back. For anyone that thinks God is hard to read, sometimes He's just loud and clear. And if you don't listen, He just gets louder and clearer. Thanks to Him for that!

Anyway, the situation was taken out of my control. Jon was researching two different jobs that were both interested in him and several different career paths. He met with several different schools, sought counsel from my dad, his friends, his CLC brothers and some of his professors at Seminary. We decided that we would wait until Friday when he got at least one official offer before I put in my two weeks notice, which I did. So he had two weeks to make a decision. He thoroughly and painstakingly researched all of his options and possible paths and spent a lot of time in prayer. It all came down to a prayer and then a  phone call with my dad last night before his meeting this morning. He went into it fairly confident of the outcome and he was right. The details matter too though.

The first job was for a management position at Taco Bell. There is nothing Jon wants to do less than work in food again. Even as a management position. But they really liked him and were willing to pay him way more than they probably should and most importantly, they were willing to bend over backwards to work around his school schedule while he completes his second degree in the next year. It's definitely not what we wanted. I know it's a stupid reason, but it's embarassing to tell someone that you work at Taco Bell when you're 24. Especially when you have a degree and you have a family to support. You feel like you have to justify yourself.

The second job was for a writing position at Guardian. The pay was good, and what's more, they really loved him. They appreciated his skill and ability and they loved his integrity. They would have even been willing to be flexible with his work schedule to allow him to take his classes. But they would not be willing to do all of this just to lose him in 1 year, which is our projected time table for him to finish school.

Just incredible. Had this offer come 24 hours ago, he'd have taken it. But after all of the prayer and guidance, he felt confident that God was leading us in a different direction, and we're trusting that. It's crazy to me that we wanted this for so long, worked for it so hard, prayed for it night after night for two long years, and He actually gave it to us. But He also let us know that He has something better planned, and He gave us the courage to follow Him. He never ceases to amaze me. If I believed He would give me what I wanted, I didn't expect He would give it to me like this. That always seems to be the way with Him, at least in my own life.

So, I'm done at NPUC in ten days, and will be self employed from now on as a Premier Designs Consultant, which pays better and allows me to spend 90.4% (I did the math) more time home with my daughters. I've wanted that so badly. Jon is going to finish out the fall semester at seminary, take the winter semester at seminary and then start at Pitt full time in the spring to earn his second bachelor's degree in computers.  He'll be working full time as a manager at Taco Bell until he completes his degree, which will hopfully be in a year.

Now I'm going to be praying for this next year to speed by, followed by an immediate resolution, and patience to last til we get there!

I'm going to leave you with an excerpt from lyrics to a song I've had on repeat for a while, but that also speaks a lot into our lives right now:  You Lead by Jamie-Grace

I've got waves that are tossin' me,
Crashin' all over my beliefs,
And in all sincerity, Lord,
I wanna be yours,
So pull me out of this mess I'm in,
Cause I know I'm wanderin'
Lead my soul back home again,
I've always been yours,

And this world may push, may pull,
But your love it never fails,

You lead, I'll follow, Your hands hold my tomorrow,
Your grip, Your grace, You know the way,
You guide me tenderly,
When you lead, I'll follow,
Just light the way and I'll go,
Cause I know what you got for me is more then I can see,
So lead me on and on, on and on,
Just lead me on and on, on and on

I'm excited to get started, to get moving. But I'm ecstatic to see and feel God working to strongly in our lives. I'm so proud that I have a husband who trusts and follows God, even when it's terrifying and not what the rest of the world expects of you. I'm feeling incredibly blessed and encouraged. Lead us on.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Earring Fiasco

I had my ears pierced for the first time when I was five. Unfortunately, one came out somehow and it was a horrible experience having my mother try to get them back in. Eventually, she gave up and they closed.

When I had Ella, I decided against getting her ears pierced as a baby. I thought it would be better to let her decide for herself if she wanted them, and I figured it would be a good idea to wait until she was old enough to clean them herself, twist them herself, change them herself, and not accidentally rip them out with flailing baby hands.

So when Ella turned five this past July, I offered to take her to get them pierced as a birthday present. But I warned her it would hurt a little and she would have to be responsible for taking care of them. The mention of pain was enough to deter her for a month and a half until, this past Sunday, when she saw a little girl about her age wearing pretty dangly earrings. She decided it was worth it. We took her right away, before she could change her mind.

She handled it so well! She didn't cry and she's been a stickler for making sure they get twisted and cleaned twice a day.

Then disaster struck. This morning, she was laying on the couch and one of the prongs of her earrings (she chose princess crowns) got stuck on the couch pillow. When she jumped up, it yanked the safety back off and ripped the earring out. Her ear was bleeding a little and it was nearly impossibly to get the earring in at all, as any parent who's been through this can attest. Luckily, I work at an urgent care, so that's where I was when this happened. My husband brought her to my work and if this has happened to you I suggest you do the same. It was simple, easy, took about 2 minutes, and Ella came out smiling.

First, the doctor quickly put a lidocaine filled needle through the hole (Ella barely protested), kept it there for a minute and then took it out. Then we gave her the original earring (with the pointy tip for piercing). Ella flipped. She screamed, struggled, and kicked. Rather than continuing to try to hold her down, I held her hands and explained that the medicine they just used made it so that she wouldn't feel a thing. I told her to close her eyes and I talked to distract her and the doctor took another minute while she slowly worked the earring through. Then she snapped the saftey back onto the back of the earring and we were done.

I would advise going to an urgent care, doctors office or even the emergency room rather than trying to put it back in yourself. It really is painful and traumatic and it's just not worth it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ella's 5th Birthday: Cooking Party

...to continue...

For Jon, most of June was spent finishing up all the reading for his spring semester at RPTS and planning Ella's 5th birthday party. She'd asked for a ballet party, but we talked her into a princesses/knights theme instead since she had 12 boys in her class and only 4 girls. He put a ton of thought and work into it. However, the week of her part soon arrived and I started panicking about the possibility of rain (there was a lot of cardboard involved in the plans), the feasibility, the difficulty of some of the games, and the amount of kids required to play them since only 3 had rsvp'd.

We quickly changed it to a cooking party and it was a hit if I do say so myself! We picked 3 recipes: Pizza Bubbly for lunch, Funfetti cupcakes (we actually made these in advance so they would be ready to decorate) and homemade soft pretzels if we had time (we didn't). The pizza and cupcakes were easy, simple, and safe to sample as we made them.

Making the Pizza: the kids took turns contributing toppings. We picked extra cheese, pineapple, and pepperoni. Sadly none of them wanted tomato slices, black olives, banana peppers or mushrooms.

Pizza Bubbly before it went in the oven

For party favors, we opted for recipe cards, placemats and their pizza and cupcakes. We got plain fabric placemats and markers for fabric and had the kids design their own to take home. I wanted to have them decorate their own mini aprons, but they were much more expensive and the craft store only had a couple.  For the recipe cards I used a bunch of 3.5 x 5 inch blank colored cards, put a small, typed and cut out recipe in the center and then taped the entire thing with packing tape (it looked laminated). Ella had gotten a Princess and the Frog cook book for christmas, so we picked an easy dessert and dinner recipe from there and the third recipe card was for the Pizza Bubbly they made at the party.

Some of the party guests: Ella's preschool buddies

While the food was cooking, we played food related games in the living room. These were some of the ideas we came up with (big thanks to Kristyn on this one!):

*Fill a large bowl filled with malted milk balls and m&ms (although I suggest a pretzel combo, if you want less sugar). The kids sit in a circle. One gets to eat as much of the candy as they can grab while wearing oven mits, while the rest of the children take turns rolling a die. The first one to get a 6 gets the bowl and mits passed to them and it is now their turn. This continues until all the candy is consumed or each kid has had a turn.

*Blindfold the child and have them try a sample of something they would be able to recognize on a
cracker or spoon, such as a piece of chocolate, a strawberry, peanut butter, and other things that a preschooler would easily recognize. They will have to guess what they ate. (Check for no allergies!)

*Have a couple of plates filled with snacks. Kids will have to pick something they want to eat from the plates & either act like the snack or act like something that would eat the snack (you might have to give
them some ideas) in order to get to eat it. On the plates put things like gummy worms, scoobydoo snacks, etc- basically anything that might spike their imagination.

The rest of the time was spent eating, singing happy birthday, opening presents and running around playing with balloons. It took up the 2 hour time slot easily and the kids had a blast! Our first party with Ella's friends went off with a bang. I have to say I'm really relieved. We managed a group of 6  five year olds (+ one 3 year old) with relative ease. Although, we did it with Kristyn's help and both Jon and I present. I'm hoping Lily wants a party like this in a few years, because the leftovers were delicious.

Making a wish

Birthday girl (with gummy bear cupcake)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The new place

June and July were busy months! I am still trying to get caught up on posts I promised a while ago, so hopefully those will be popping up in the near future. I really want to get them finished before Jon, the girls, and I are all back in school. Here is a brief rundown on the things that have been keeping us occupied, complete with pictures!

Most of June was spent on unpacking all of our stuff. I started packing to leave our townhome about 4 months in advance. And some of those boxes loaded into the moving van had never been unpacked from when we moved in 4 years before that! This time was completely different. Our new place has about 1/3 of the space our last place had, so the boxes were really making me feel claustrophobic. And I was eager to have a home again. Two months later, and things are still coming along. We have a particularly difficult wall to hang thingson; it's made of brick-like plaster or something. It's been incredible frustrating trying to decorate, but we just bought a special drill bit that will hopefully make things a lot easier. Here are a few pictures of the finished rooms:

View One of the bathroom, minus the commode, which is hidden beside and behind the shelf Erica helped me put together (okay, she built it).

View 2 - the shower. Our bathroom has a lot of personality, haha. It's dark red for one, so it was hard to find anything that I liked and that also matched. But somehow it works. It's also big, I think, but kind of narrow.

This is our backyard, before Jon cut the field. We had quite a few animal residents including the doe and fawn shown here, as well as a groundhog, a family of bunnies, outdoor cats that like to pass through and lots of birds. It's pretty nice because there is a lot of privacy, its completely level (which is a rare find in our location), and the best part is that it's all ours. Our upstairs neighbors get the front porch and we get the back.

View 1 of our kitchen. I shouldn't have been surprised, but our dining room table fits really nicely in our kitchen, even with the butterfly put in. It probably was a bad idea to buy our first furniture sets right before we moved, but God provided exactly what we needed.

View 2 of the kitchen

The girls' room is about done, the living room is almost there, ditto our bedroom, so more pictures will be coming soon. I really wish I would remember to take before and after shots on projects like the one I just completed (our room) but eh hindsight, right? Hopefully I'll keep that in mind when I start some of the bigger ones, like our backyard. I don't know yet if we'll be here one year or two, so I'm still debating about how much to invest in the backyard. But I'd really like to plant a garden (right now I have a garden growing in 4 large pots), put in a small fire pit and put up a swingset.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cheers to my Heart-Muffin!

Tomorrow marks one of my favorite days of the year. Jon is a very low key, low maintenance person (which balances my excess of each), which is why there is not a whole lot of fanfare on his birthday. Sure, he has come up with ideas to have a Renaissance themed banquet where everyone is served turkey legs and drinks out of pewter goblets, and when he was planning Ella's birthday party he found some ideas for a pirate themed one he wanted to try out for himself. But none of these, like so many of his grand schemes, have ever come to fruition. This is partly because I have to bring him back down to reality and remind him that getting the guy who plays the bells to perform at your birthday, might be a little pricey and difficult to fit in our back yard.

For him, I believe it's the one day a year where he can be a little materialistic and point out the things he wants and the things he'd like to try. It's the one day a year he can ask to sleep in, have breakfast made for him for a change, and go on a dinner or movie date and not feel guilty. I hope that in the near future our situation will be able to accomodate all the things I want to give him and do for him, and in the meantime I'm keeping a list. And, in the meantime, his humility and selflessness are precious to me. It's easy to give someone the world when you have it at your fingertips, but when you're stretched thin and still make sacrifices for someone else, those acts are infinitely more valuable. He's given me enough of those to last a lifetime, and yet somehow, he continues to find new ways to amaze me.

I wanted to write something for you, because I think that's how we communicate best, but for some reason, it's all coming out trite, so that will have to wait until the pressure is off.  I feel like we're entering a phase of blissful simplicity, so instead I thought I'd tide you over with something I know you (and probably only you, although I do know of one Kerouac fan who might read this) will enjoy. I think Haikus are generally untitled and I believe some portion of mystery is largely the appeal, but in case these are too vague, each is a memory from the two brief weekends away that we've had since the girls have been born. I hope they take you back.

Pink cherry blossoms
Soft petals fall, intertwined
Hands, weathered and worn

A rush of water
Deafening, thunderous, drenched
A stolen moment

Here's to celebrating the day my best friend came into existance! Happy birthday Snuffy, I love you! :P

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Great Grandma Ruth

My great grandma Ruth passed away a few months ago. I mentioned it briefly when every thing was happening, but I hadn't really had the time to wrap my mind around it. It didn't come as a shock; my grandmother had been getting progressively worse in her ailments, including some bad falls. She had put her house up for sale, although I found out about this way after the fact. She didn't wait very long before packing everything up and moving down south with my great aunt. It struck a chord with me then, just as it does thinking about it now. It seemed to me that she knew intuitively that her time here was drawing to a close. I think that's the best comfort I have. She knew and I'm hoping that she spent a lot of quiet time with God before he came to take her Home. After a good, long life, I think that's the best gift any of us can be given, especially those of us who haven't given our lives completely over to Christ. I hope to see her again, sooner or later.

Unfortunately for me, my parents have never been very interested in preserving and passing on family history. My grandmother had an extensive collection of photo albums that spanned several decades with pictures of all of her descendents. I couldn't tell you who half of them are. It makes me feel orphaned, to an extent, because I don't know my own history and ancestry. I don't know my own (extended) family. It is partially my fault because I didn't ask enough. But I always felt uncomfortable asking who someone was when I was expected to know and remember  them, especially if there was other family close by, listening in. And somehow, there always was.

While my grandmother's hearing wasn't perfect, her mind and memory were as sharp as ever. I definitely regret not getting to ask her every question I had. But most of my questions didn't come until adulthood and I didn't feel I had been close enough to her for long enough to be able to ask the kind of questions I really wanted answers to. For most of them, this was probably true, and to my credit, I had been trying to build up trust, confidence and friendship over the last few years by visiting and writing her letters. I was touched to see that she had kept them all. And while I did get to delve into her fascinating past on a couple occasions, there were always distractions (my daughters always came with me) and time was always cut too short. Over the last year my letters and visits became almost nonexistant due to school, work, and the chaos of daily life. I hope she knew then how much I loved her even though I didn't show it as much as I wanted to.

The question I find myself wishing I'd asked was one of faith. I wish I knew with confidence where she was headed. I don't know why I always felt an obligation to be politically correct; I cannot pinpoint a specific lesson in my childhood to be sensible of accidentally offending someone. However, that sensitivity has lead to walls where there should be openness, and a consciousness of things that, in a perfect world, would garner no notice, no question at all. I'm working, slowly, at learning to tear down my own walls, in the hope of being able to tear down others as well. Not only was I left with the tortured feeling of not having the slightest inclination of where my grandmother was, but it also brought to light how little she could have known me, for all the things I was afraid to say to her. I wish I had been raised the way my daughters are- Ella recently initiated Grace over lunch at her 5th birthday party. Of the 7 kids seated around our table, the only other one to hear her and join in was my 3 year old daughter Lorelai. I guess the moral of the story is that God's grace will right the wrongs from generation to generation if we trust in him, and though it may be a struggle to break the bonds that try to tie us, we have a savior who is strong enough to carry those loads for us.

I can't finish the things I left unsaid and undone, but I can make every effort to not make the same mistakes again. And for every misstep, I can trust.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mount Vernon

If you're not really interested in history, you'll probably want to skip over this post.

This is somewhat of a continuation of the last post; while we were in DC, we made a day trip to see Mount Vernon, also known as Washington's home. I love pieces of history that have been restored or recreated so that they are as close as possible to what they were in their time. So as you can imagine, Mount Vernon was my favorite place that we visited. If only I had been allowed to spend hours there by myself, going in the roped off sections and touching the paintings and fabrics and china for myself. Ah well.

I've seen a lot of the forts and battle sites thanks to living in Pennsylvania, but seeing peoples' homes from various time periods is infinitely more fascinating to me. I love being able to see the fullest picture of how people lived back then. Washington's house was built in the mid 1600's but is currently restored to the last year of Washington's life: 1799. I took tons of pictures, but I'll limit the following to a handful.

This home is set in by the Potomac River and surrounded by luscious, rolling land. It's pretty easy to see why Washington wanted to retire here so badly. After a few minutes of walking in the orchards, you're in love.

These were the buildings around the main house- the stables, smokehouse, salthouse,  washhouse/laundry yard, etc.

Washington's port on the edge of the Potomac.

Bird's eye view of the estate

Some of the stained glass at the admissions building depicting the signing of the declaration of independence

Smokehouse. The lack of modern plumbing and electricity definitely would have been annoying, but man it would have been cool to live during this time. Or at least to go back in time and visit for a bit.

I love the way these quarters are stocked with period-appropriate materials, and plaques that explain their uses.

These are all of the outter buildings. Photography was prohibited in Washington's actual home, unfortunately.

Mount Vernon Squirrel. He was super cute and friendly.

This is a picture of Jon and me with our grandparents. We got to visit them briefly on our way to and from DC.

If you get the chance to go, Mount Vernon is worth the trip. The website is informative and interesting too, if you'd like to learn more:

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In April, Jon and I took our vacation. We went to Washington D.C. for the cherry blossom festival, which was actually an idea Jon took from my best friend. We went the weekend before our 6th anniversary. We decided together when we would be going, but I let Jon plan everything else, including the location. I'd never been to DC before so I was really excited. We had so much fun taking the metro, walking around together, taking pictures, and site-seeing.

Jon picked some awesome places to eat. My favorite was a spanish restaurant where we had the most delicious lunch. I'd never had them before, but tappas and sangria are a new favorite of mine. The atmosphere was really cool, too- very laid back, with tons of decorative pillows to lounge on, and live local music. I wish we had something like that here. If I could cook, I'd do it myself!

This weekend was when I converted Jon into a coffee drinker, which is definitely a milestone for me!

I got to see all the major monuments but three (I had to settle for seeing them from a distance because my feet hurt too much by the end of the day), and now I feel like I can truly call myself an American, haha. It was a beautiful time of the year to capture them on film.

Looking at the war memorials really made my interest in looking up my geneology flare up again. Hopefully I can hold on to that feeling and get into it this summer while I'm not in classes. I think the hard part of undertaking such a huge project is getting it started. My parents have never been much interested in family history, so unfortunately I don't even know the names of most of my second cousins and great aunts and uncles. I'm hoping to remedy this with my girls and I hope that they share my interest in our roots and traditions.

Anyway, it was a really fun trip for such a history-lover like me. And even though we missed the girls like crazy, it was so good to get away, just the two of us. While we were there we realized we hadn't gone away together in two years. We are going to have to work harder to find the time to make sure we make it an annual thing, like we wanted.

About half of my pictures are missing, including those of La Tasca, which are really cool. But these should tide you over!

This is a chaotic shot, but they had the best subs I've ever tasted and I wanted to chronicle it.

US institute of Peace. Pretty neat architecture.

Lincoln's memorial is definitely the best, in my opinion.

Better picture of the detail at the top.

Initially I thought Washington got ripped off, but I came around by the end of our trip when I had been able to see it all over the city, from just about any distance or height.

I think it's such a wonderful testimony to the memory of these loved ones that there are always tons of people visiting the Vietnam veterans memorial.

Passed a wedding by the water. What a great idea- I'm sure their photographs are going to be gorgeous.

The WWII memorial was so vast that it required many photos to give an accurate portrait. Here is a taste.

Small glimpse of the WWII memorial

Everyone was flying kites. Most of the cherry blossoms were white, so the colors from the kites really popped.

White house.

Me and some random cute little kid, ha

Flowers may be cliche, but they're jsut too pretty to pass up. God is such an artist.

My man.

Love this one.

Jefferson monument.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day at the zoo!

Here are some photos from about a month ago. Jon took the girls to the zoo and got some really cute shots with his fancy camera.

Sitting on a termite mound.

Cat nap.

Baby elephant footprint

That's lunch.

So cute!

Baby sea lion!