March 31, 2010

The One with our Second Spring at Home

I can hardly believe this is our second Spring at our home.
This year I knew exactly where to anticipate all the beautiful bulbs blossoming.
Pushing their way through the cold hard sod long before the trees show their leaves.
The daffodils are beautifully yellow.
The lilies are beginning to strengthen their stems.
There is green everywhere.
And it's so beautiful.

We have made a home together. 
Yes, our first memories as a married couple will always be housed in that downtown Detroit apartment.
Hearing the traffic race by.
Seeing Canada across the river from our window. 
Getting attacked by angry squirrels in the dumpster. 
Walking to Tigers games. 
Biking to grad school with Kevin every morning. 
It was a great summer. 

::moving out November 2008::

::moving in November 2008::

But this, this is our home. 
We have made it together. 
Settled into habits and traditions together. 
Opened our bedrooms to family. and teens. and friends. 
Hosted two Pastors' Families Christmas open houses.
Had countless teens walk through our doors each week. 

Sure there's carpet I could do without and that insane rose wallpaper I was planning on taking down months ago, but this is our home. 
And we are thankful. 

how awesome is this!
We've officially made this a guest bedroom. 
With a lovely double bed. 
Creamy comforter. 
Cozy recliner. 
Chest of drawers.
It's always available. :D

March 29, 2010

The One with the Cat Poo. Eeew.

This is all TOO appropriate to not join in with MckMama's Not Me! Monday.
Which is totally unfortunate.

After noticing the cat scratching around on our office carpet in a digging fashion, 
I most certainly did not ignore this clear warning sign. 
Which is why, as I walked through office to open the curtains 
(post workout with tennis ON--thank goodness)
I did not step on something hard and undefinable as I plodded through the darkened room. 
And upon taking a gander at the carpet after flooding the room with daylight, 
I definitely did NOT realized I had stepped in cat poo!
And then take notice of the three nearby piles. 
Conveniently dumped in conspicuous areas. 
Thank you, cat, for making your point. 
This little episode did not cause me--a sensible human--to growl. GRRRR.

But the poop piles weren't the worst of it.
That came with the litter box cleaning. 
After this gag-inducing little exercise, I definitely did not boldly proclaim for all to hear 
(that is, me and the cat)
that I will never, ever EVER again clean a litter box.

But for some reason, I may or may not still love that little kitty...
...who was supposed to be back with his rightful owner over 4 weeks ago. 
I'm definitely not feeling a little bittersweet to say goodbye. 
We've become snuggle buddies, Butterscotch and I. 
He really loves me, I know it.

And now for some photos.
he likes the sun streaming in the window.

this is one of the reasons Kevin calls him "Reginald."
looking all kingly on our footstool.

he likes to climb up behind me while I'm at my desk. 

this is my favorite posture for Butterscotch. 

Oh, and about that "NOT ME, no never!" thing.
I've got another. 
I certainly did not have to drive our very loved '98 Civic to a highly recommended mechanic this morning.
And if I did I definitely wasn't ashamed as I drove.
Believing everyone to be glaring at me.
Me and this little car that sounds like a diesel semi-truck gone bad. 
Nope, not me--or our car. 
And upon turning the keys over to the mechanic, I'm not annoyed to discover that not one but TWO exhaust pipes have holes. 
Yes. holeS. multiple.
Each one costs $140. 
plus $26 for the 3 necessary gaskets.
and $23 for the bolt kits.
And then there's labor. Which he's really reasonable about. 
But our bill's gonna be over $400.
And I am definitely happy about that. 
Or not.
But I am surprisingly calm.
Taking it in stride.
Not my normal response, but I'll go with it. 
I'm just thankful for our savings account. 
Yay money management!

And now, I shall eat lunch. 
And catch up to current episodes of season 6 of LOST. 
Eeek. *Squeal*

March 24, 2010

The One on "The One"

Youth group has been super entertaining lately.
We've been doing a Relationships 101 series.
It's so great being able to share our experiences with these teens in hopes of encouraging them to be faithful to God's plan for their purity and their future marriages. 
One of our students posted an anonymous question to us on our youth group blog.
It was a great query and one which both Kevin and I responded to with our personal opinions.

Today, as I was thinking of a "Works for Me" topic, this occurred to me.
It's much more weighty a subject than I usually address, but definitely a useful topic for discussion.
Shall we dive in?!

"So I'm wondering what is love to you guys? Don't just give me the 'Bible' answer either. And how do you know that you've found someone you think your in love with? Is there a way to know for certain or is it all just guess work?"

Answer via Kevin:
This question requires a different answer from Mel and I guess I'll give my half first while I wait for a job call this morning.

For a guy, Love is self-sacrifice for someone you admire. It has nothing to do with how cute you think they are (although it helps). When you realize that you'd do anything to brighten their day (like when I go on a walk with Mel) even if you don't get anything out of it...that's Love.

Even more than that, I think that Love is a commitment even more than that. I didn't want to tell a girl I loved her until I was ready to go buy a ring and pick her till I died. For me, love means that for better or worse, richer or poorer, cuter or mid-40's when you're gaining're going to be there.

The guy's job (in my opinion) is to make the money, take care of the provision, love the wife, make her feel valued, and keep her from any harm while giving her the world.

When you find a girl that you've known long enough to see her at her worst...when she yells at you and says stuff that cuts your heart out...when you've seen the worst and still think she's the best and you can't imagine life without're almost in love. The only thing left is to take the plunge and decide that no matter how you feel about it 20 years from now, you'll be as dedicated to her then as you are in that moment.

That's Love.

Answer via Melanie
First and foremost, I think dating (and marriage for that matter) involves endless prayer. If you are not bathing your relationship in prayer then it is impossible to know what decisions God would have you make. Be willing to just listen to him. There were many times I was afraid to listen...afraid His answers would be different than my desires. But I forced myself to be quiet and hear His will for me. 

Being in love is definitely multi-dimensional. It involves a deep commitment. You must believe that no matter what the other person says or does (good or bad) you will be faithful to them for always. This makes love a CHOICE. So before you get to this point when you're asking yourself, "Do I want to stand by this person no matter what?" you should see if these are true:

1. Do both of you challenge one another to grow and mature (relationally, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually)? If neither (or only one of you) is seeing growth then it's not worth committing to for a lifetime. To sharpen and encourage one another is sometimes painful, but oh so necessary. And the alternative is being stagnant (seeing no change) or even "lukewarm" which is just not an option. 

2. My second point relates closely to the first. The most important aspect of growth is spiritually--in communion with God. If your relationship does not make you MORE EFFECTIVE as a minister of the Gospel then it is time to say goodbye. This is why Paul taught us that it is better to stay single--for the sake of the Gospel. But if the two of you become an unstoppable force for Christ, then by all means come together as husband and wife!

3. Do you continually learn more and WANT to learn more about the other person? Do they always hold your attention and interest? This is not just physical. Do you never tire of talking with them, hearing their ideas, their dreams, their philosophies, their frustrations, and their successes? Then you've probably got something good. 

4. Time. Though I don't think it is essential to date for eleventy billion years before you know you're ready to marry, I do think there is wisdom found in a longer-term dating relationship. You can't possibly know and experience everything with this person that you will see in 50 years of marriage, but the longer you date the more chances there are to see one another sick, cranky, angry, excited, weird, emotional, passionate, etc. You each have SO many dimensions and the longer you spend getting to know one another, the more educated decision you will be able to make. 

And after you experience much of the good and the bad that comes with the package deal you have to ask yourself, "Would I rather spend a terrible day with this person than a fantastic day with anyone else?" If the answer is yes, then you may be looking at your forever Love. 

4. As a girl, I must say that a woman must be certain that she trusts this man with everything she has. Trust that he has her best in mind even if she gets hurt by something he said at times (knowing he wasn't INTENDING on hurting her.) Trust that he will provide for her and their future family. Trust that he will be forever faithful. Trust him with her inmost thoughts. Trust him to be the spiritual leader of their future home. 

5. And finally, don't be afraid to seek godly advice--from mature friends, godly mentors, parents, grandparents. If there are red flags thrown by these people then you might want to take a second look at your relationship. But if everyone is overjoyed with the love you have found and is whole-heartedly rooting for you, then the future of your relationship is most likely going to be blessed.

I know that's a LOT.
I know it's not necessarily scholarly or peer reviewed.
But it's what I've learned.
And it's what I believe (though there may be more thoughts about this in my brain somewhere).

The One with My Best Girls

I have really fabulous friends.
The four years I spent in college are completely unforgettable and irreplaceable.
And sometimes...I wish I could go back.
I miss my friends.
But even if they lived next door to me now, it wouldn't be the same.
Nothing can compare to dorm life or sharing a house with 6 other girls. 
Being able to walk "next door" in your socks and pjs.
Always having someone to talk to, laugh with, watch a movie with.
A shoulder to cry on, a prayer offered. 
Stressful exams to complain about. 
I absolutely love the life we have now. 
But girls, I miss you like crazy, and will never ever forget our years together.

Freshmen year floormates.
We were insanely crazy.
The entire campus knew about THAT floor. 
We were a blast and a half that's for sure. 
I didn't think anyone else in the world was as ridiculous as I was. 
I was wrong. 
And I'm so glad I was. 

Freshmen year homecoming. 
Friends don't come any prettier than that!

more lovin' and snugglin' freshmen year.
There was a LOT of that.

My surprise 20th birthday--sophomore year.
The four of us were suitemates.
I can hear Emily (the one on my back) laughing.
It's unmistakable.

Most of sophomore year was comprised of this.
Sitting on our couch. 
Talking and laughing.
That's about it.
And we loved every minute of it.

Junior year required me to tromp across campus to visit most of my friends.
Our campus is HUGE by the way.
Or not.
But in either case, it was totally worth it.
Wedding Shower season--a new stage of life.
Angie's (grey and white stripes in the middle) shower junior year.

And the weddings begin!
Angie (not pictured oddly enough) was the first one we married off!

We had a girls' only Valentine's Partay in mine and Britt's room.
Just like old times.

Senior year. 
One house.
Two bedrooms.
One bathroom.
Two showers (yeah).

Slumber party at Emily's one weekend.
That was a blast and half.

We hosted a number of BonFires our senior year.
Or "BombFires" as we referred to them.
This was post marshmallow roasting.

Oh dear.
Graduation 2008.
What a proud moment.
Thrilling. Yet sad. The end of an era.

But alas, friendship crosses time and distance. 
We slumber-partied it up at my place last summer.

Still as ridiculous as ever.

Thank you, girlies, for the best memories and the greatest sisterhood. 
Love you all!

March 22, 2010

The One where I Totally Took Care of the Fish Water

I will not admit my shortcomings.
I will not prove to you how I am totally human
Emotional, irrational, ridiculous, silly. 

A few things I may or may not have done this past week.

::admitted that it is sheer laziness that we haven't cleaned out the fish tank since Fishy died. 
(And to make matters worse, it certainly isn't me who can't even remember when that fateful day occurred. 
I'm not a terrible person.)

::accepted and then turned down multiple sub jobs after realizing I love being a house wife and work from home youth pastor more than substitute teaching and dealing with completely unpredictable but always charming children. 

::thoroughly cleaned my bathroom sink with bleach.
And then proceeded to lay my good bath towels on the sink's edge.
Subsequently facing the awful bleach marks in those lovely sage green towels. 

::eaten almost all of the leftover chocolate dipped pretzel rods from my girls small group Saturday. 

::totally blocked from memory all other inadmissible actions as of late. 

That is all.

March 21, 2010

The One with the Weekend WrapUp

My parents came for a 3 night visit this weekend. 
It had been too long since we last saw them.
Christmas I do believe. 
That's crazy.
I rearranged our office twice since they'd last been here.
At Thanksgiving. 
Either that's a long time or I'm really restless about decorating and furniture arranging. 
Or both. 

Either way they arrived late Thursday night and we started catching up at warp speed. 
They came with overflowing arms as per usual.
Mom's always finding this and that to make us cozy and happy and healthy.
So thoughtful.
Before we knew it it was past 11pm and beds were calling our name. 
I love having a guest bedroom (complete with a bed!) for our visitors!

Friday felt like Saturday as Kevin didn't get called to work.
I think he enjoyed watching lots of college basketball, though. 
And my dad was loving the first day on the golf course.
It really was amazing weather. 
Mom and I found time to race through Goodwill right after I had pulled Dad's belated birthday apple pie from the oven. 
We found some great deals!
I haven't had such clothing success in...well..I can't remember when. 
I fit into almost everything I tried on.
And did I mention that last week I tried on all my pants and skirts (9 total) that I haven't fit into since April 2008?
I've tried to squeeze into them multiple times since that long-ago spring.
But to no avail.
One pair of black slacks and a black dress skirt still had tags on them.
Yeah. That's how fast I apparently gained weight.
But last week, they all fit!  What in the?! 
I was ecstatic, but I'm sure you cannot imagine why.
All that to say in these last two rummage sale trips I've had SUCCESS.
Multiple dress shirts/tops and sweaters, 4 pairs of bermuda shorts, 3 pairs capris, 2 pairs of lightweight dressy-casual pants, a brown corduroy blazer and a genuine leather sage green blazer. 
All for around $45. 
Favorite thing ever! 

All that to say Mom and I had a blast rummaging together. 
It's really one of our favorite pastimes.
And I think we would both admit that we are each other's favorite shopping partner. 
It just works.
And it's just plain fun.
(And neither of us are much of a "shopper" in the traditional sense of the word. 
But Goodwill?! Bring it!)

We got back home at 3:55 and by 5:00 I had dinner on the table.
My dad's belated birthday dinner.
Homemade ravioli (as in, homemade pasta with homemade filling).
Fresh garden salad (complete with green peppers, pepperoni--it's an Italian thing, tomatoes, mozzarella, spinach and red leaf lettuce). 
Homemade wheat bread turned garlic toast. 
My mom joked that by 5pm she wouldn't have even had the ingredients out of the cupboard. 
She'd still be trying to decide where to start. 
It was quite delicious (though I must admit, having a pasta machine would make the pasta that much more amazing.) 
And by 5:45pm we were all four walking out to the car to head to a dollar movie.
The dollar theater was surprisingly busy (but it was Friday night and I don't think I've been to a Friday night movie in ages.) 
And get this, we almost went broke having to pay $2 for our tickets. Eeek. 
All of us were really looking forward to seeing The Blind Side and we're so. glad. we did! 
It was phenomenal. 
We didn't get home till 10pm, but we made a quick stop for vanilla ice cream and were soon enjoying a late night plate of homemade apple pie with Breyers vanilla ice cream.

Saturday morning we decided to sleep in. 
I still woke up at 7:30am, but managed to snuggle back up until 8:40am.
Dad was apparently waiting for me to wake up so I could show him where the coffee was. :) 
I went out for a great (albeit brisk) run and came back to start on our brunch.
French Toast. 
Apple Raspberry juice.
The rest of the late morning, mom and I looked through the family photo session we had had with Emily back in October and finally placed our order.
Then us girls decided to wander around our quaint little downtown.
It was unfortunately much cooler than the previous days, but we still had fun.
We found more great rummage deals at the downtown thrift store.
Then shared some Aaamazing ice cream at a new venue called Craving
(VERY aptly named establishment. I hope they do well.)
We wandered through a new and used book store that had been around since '69 and were soon ready to head home.
Mom and Daddio headed back for a nap and I started getting ready for another dinner.

Kevin's family were enjoying a three hour high school production of Peter Pan at a school just 30 minutes from us so they were bringing burgers to share at our first cook-out of the season. 
Kevin fired up the charcoal grill, I baked brownies and whipped up another salad and we were soon sitting down to dinner.
I devoured my food and ran out the door just 45 minutes later to head to small group.

Yes, I'm so thrilled to be a part of a small group Bible study.
My friend Amanda invited me and a couple other girls who invited a couple other girls to start a weekly group. 
We're all 20 somethings in similar stages of life and needing some solid friendships and accountability.  
I think this is going to be amazing. 
I loved getting to know the girls last night and I don't foresee any problems in developing some great relationships.
I've been praying for this type of opportunity for the almost 2 years since we were married and out of college. 
It's so essential for growth on every level. 

I made it back home at 8:30pm and both sets of parents were still sitting around the dinner table enjoying conversation. 
Some of them were anxiously awaiting the brownies and ice cream, so I served it up as soon as I got my coat hung up. 
We had another hour or so of solid fellowship and said goodbye to Mom and Dad E. 
Brian stayed the night and the boys had their usual guy fun for the evening.
I spent an hour or so of unwinding and preparing for Sunday and soon hit the sack.

And that brings us to today.
God was so present in the worship service this morning. 
We were challenged. moved. experiencing Him.
I pray we were not alone in that. 
We waved farewell until next time to my parents after church and now it's off to wrap of youth group agenda for the night. 

That was supposed to be a 10 lined post. 
Sorry. ;)

March 17, 2010

The One with the Sisters' Walk

I love being a big sister. 
But even more than that, I love my baby sister. 
We were best friends from the moment I first held her in my arms.
She was always a strongly independent person.
Which didn't pair well with my bossy, motherly tendencies. 
I wanted to do things for her and she wanted to do them herself
You can imagine the chaos that insued.

We fought a lot, but that didn't matter.
We'd rather play Barbies or "house" just the two of us than have loads of friends around. 
She is my jewel. 
And on this day, just a week before her 20th birthday, I celebrate us.

The moment I became a proud sister.
Check out that gorgeous dark head of hair on Ash.
We were as different as night and day from that moment. :)

The girls and Grams.
Precious, isn't it?
And check out the furniture. Oh yeah, 70s!

Ashley and I with Gramma Mary.
We spent many a Friday night at their house.
It was mom and dad's date night.

Swim time!

Sister snuggles.
I distinctly remember the smell of her poopy diaper in this moment.
But besides that we loved jumping on my mom and dad's bed.
And dancing on it in front of their large mirror.
We were performers.

Family photo circa 1990.
That dress I'm wearing had a little schoolhouse with a real ringing bell on it.
Super cool.
And check out the blowing-bubbles face Ash has going on.

Watching a movie all bundled up together in my totally rad Little Mermaid sleeping bag.

Daddy and the girls at Niagara Falls on my 11th birthday.

Rocking the sponge rollers. 
Dad loved this picture and had it mounted for his work locker, I believe.

Mom and Ash and I visiting Grams and Gramps at their Orlando, Florida home. 
I'm thinking this was just before my senior year of high school, 2003.

Right before I left for my Senior Prom. 
She had convinced me to go tanning for a month.
Oh the things I do because of her recommendations. :)

The summer after my senior year was unforgettable.
Ashley spent every day hanging out with me and a handful of some good high school friends.
Bonfires. Trampolines. Sleepovers. Pools. Movies.

During one of my visits home from college. 
Sophomore year, possibly.
And apparently that birthday sign in the background indicates it was probably my birthday.
So November 2005 (or 2006?)
I think we girls went to our first pilates class right after this.
THAT was hilarious.

Sisters on the day of my wedding. 
She was my maid of honor, just as we always planned.

I love you, Ashley Nicole.
And I wouldn't trade you for the world.

Your big sister,