May 31, 2010

The One with the Memorial Emotions

I was just over at Ree's photography blog
where she was posting photos sent in under the theme "Coming Home."
There is post after post after post.
I dare you to not be moved by those images. Dare you.
Given the holiday weekend and 
the incredibly emotional response the photos garnered 
from yours truly, 
I thought nothing was more blog worthy.  

 Most every Memorial Day weekend, I think of nothing more than hotdogs, hamburgers, potato salad, warm weather, and family picnics. 
Are you, too, guilty of this?
-this apathy toward a national holiday commemorating the countless military men and women who have faithfully and fearlessly served to protect this United States of America.
I guess my only excuse for my lack of concern is the blessing that I have never experienced my own friends or family enlisting or serving. 
It doesn't hit home.

But yet.
In my inmost being I am moved to tears
every single time I see a photo or a video clip portraying poignant messages from servicemen/women to their families.
The wives who have been single and lonely and missing half of their hearts for months or years even. 
The children who miss their daddies and mommies to the point of heartbreak. 
The mothers and fathers who have cried many a tear over the thought of their precious child fighting on the front lines. 
I am immediately transported to the hearts of those individuals--the ones left behind.
I instantly feel an emotional connection. 
(I guess this is precisely why my husband refers to me as his "little empath.")
I put myself in their shoes.
And I cannot imagine going through that frightening separation.
I don't know how military families function.
I really don't. 

The thought of Kevin getting drafted scares me to death
And for that reason I am prompted to honor the memories of those who served our country with courage.
Those men and women who never made it home.
Whose loved ones received that dreaded knock on their front door 
and were handed a perfectly folded American flag
and listened to the 21 gun salute 
and cried countless tears. 
I thank the families who lost so much,
and I thank those lost ones who gave all they had for us

May God continue to bless America.

May 30, 2010

The One with the Tennis Volleys

Oh, tennis. 
The sport that always looked so appealing.
That I would love to play.
But the same sport at which I could never seem to be even remotely adept.

I'm not exaggerating, here, people, I stttttunk. 
The only redeeming aspect about the whole tennis aspirations thing is that my husband was just about as terrible as I was. 
I know that sounds horrible to say, but he'd say the same thing. 
The reason this made me feel "better"?
--normally he's way awesome at whatever activity I'm attempting to master.
Meaning if I don't catch on quickly, I get super self-conscious and way too frustrated with myself--
thinking he's hating every minute of my lameness.
Really, that's not true. 
But that's just the way I feel, ok?

We couldn't get a simple volley going for the lives of us. 
And we didn't try just once.
Nope, we've tried summer after summer. 
But we always give up because it's been frustrating and not fun in the least. 
Given our equally competitive personalities, royally stinking at an activity is not really high on our wish list. 

This summer we were dreaming of spending hours on the tennis courts.
Working up a sweat, having fun, bonding.
You know, all the good stuff.
We were "conditioning" all winter long.
Playing ping pong in our basement. 
Even when I didn't want to play pingpong because I stunk at that too.
But who knew?!
Practice really does make perfect less awful!

And in some strange, larger than life way, the lessons I learned on the ping pong courts
have translated at least in part to the tennis courts.
This afternoon we laced our shoes, 
tied back our hair (ok, so that was just me.), 
grabbed our rackets and a couple of terrible tennis balls, 
and gave it the ol' college try.
Sure enough, we had definitely improved.
Now, we're still no Venus Williams or John McEnroe, but at least we volleyed.
Quite a few times. 
We played for an hour and had a blast. 
I was huffing and puffing and sweating (mostly due to the 85 degree temps)
and I'd call that a win. 
Go us!

May 29, 2010

The One where She Works Solo

I did it!
I did it all by myself!
I worked solo in the Welcome Center office from 2-8pm.
I was a teensy tiny bit apprehensive
only because I'm certain there are at least a handful of tasks I'm not skilled in at the moment.
But with the votes of confidence by my boss and my coworkers and my husband,
I went in with my head held high.

There were a few times I had to direct questions to other staff,
but that's no problem.
I did well, I believe.
I'm praying I didn't make any grave errors--
seeing as how everything I do in here affects every branch of the camp's functions.
Talk about big responsibility. :)

But it was fun and I believe I'm rather enjoying my job.
Office duties are right up my alley.
And my personality suits a front desk position.
So I'm looking forward to a summer of becoming skilled at my job--
all while developing some great relationships
or reestablishing old ones.
In fact, in the three days I've been on the grounds I've had many deep conversations already
and my heart was blessed to discover what can only be described as a kindred spirit.
Now, if only I didn't have leave these relationships in a few months.

And just as I get settled here, we're off to our home church--
our 'regular' life-
discipling teens, leading worship, planning events, and more.

Happy weekend.

May 28, 2010

The One where She's "Home"

I'm home.
Well, home away from home.
As soon as I pulled onto the grounds at SBC, it just felt right.
Throughout the four years of college, this camp was the one place that stayed the same.
No matter how many dorms I lived in,
or how many camps I visited,
or how many times I moved in and out of my parents' house,
Somerset stayed the same.

I like that.

Do you have a home away from home?

May 27, 2010

The One Where We're Officially Cat Parents

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! 
This just in!
Butterscotch is officially ours. 
Since the beginning of February we've been cat-sitting.
And I was dreading the day we'd have to say goodbye.
But the owner seemed to have move on from the cat she owned for 13 years. 
She asked if we wanted to keep him.
We debated. 
We really love him
We'd love to call him ours.
But we debated.

After another conversation with said owner about the cat's pick-up date
(which was supposed to be 2 weeks into our cat-sitting duties...
and then a month...
and then two...
and then the end of May...
and then the first of June...
you get the picture),
we decided to tell her that we'd love to keep Butterscotch.
So that's what we're doing.
We love him.
He totally loves us.
And I am already dreading the day his little heart ceases beating. 
He's old after all. 
But for now, I'll just keep snuggling with his chubby self. 

May 26, 2010

The One with the Oil Cleansing

After reading my post on cleaning with vinegar and baking soda,
Laurie, a college friend of mine, gave me a great suggestion. 
She could tell I was leaning toward the more "natural" way of life, 
and thought I might be interested in an all natural facial cleanser. 
After check out the link for The Oil Cleansing Method she sent me, 
I must say, I'm sold.

I've developed some sort of inflammation or rosacea on my cheeks in the last year.  
It is only sometimes irritating but it is always obvious.
Bright red, rosy cheeks.
Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the splotchy bumps. 
They look like small welts. 
Or really freakishly large pimples.
Exact without the pimple part. 
Between that an my blackhead infested nose
as well as my occasional breakout, 
I figured it was worth a shot. 

It's so incredibly easy to mix your personal blend.
And the actual washing treatment is just plain relaxing. 
It's like a personal spa moment.
Not to mention it removes makeup--including that pesky mascara.
I love using the treatment right before bed.
It's ridiculous (and slightly frightening) to see what comes off of my face after a long day.

Sure enough, within a week's usage (every other day or so), I've seen a noticeable decrease in the rosacea outbreak. 
The welts are almost completely gone.
The redness has decreased tremendously.
My skin feels wonderful and fresh.
Not at all greasy like I anticipated with the image of cleansing with oil.
I thought it was counter-intuitive.
But I'm so glad I gave it a chance.

And I feel like I'm giving my Italian heritage (yes, I'm 25% Italian!) a shout out with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I chose that oil over the sesame mostly because it's what I had on hand.)
Woot woot. 

You should give The Oil Cleansing Method a try.
It works for me! 
works for me wednesday at we are that family

The One with the Anniversary Amusement

Yes, our anniversary was a lovely day spent together.
We went out for the best ice cream in town. 
We sat in the park and talked while enjoying the creamy goodness.
We took a stroll. 
We went out to Johnny Rockets for dinner.
We came home and read side by side.
And finished the night by watching Evan Almighty.
(which was actually quite good.
I was impressed.)

But, friends, two days before our anniversary we headed to Sandusky, OH. 
To truly experience the gift we had chosen to share with one another.
A day at America's Roller Coast.
The weather forecast was threatening. 
Thunderstorms were predicted for the large majority of the day. 
But I knew it was the only day we could go. 
And so I prayed.
I even said, "God, I know this is totally selfish, but please please keep the rain at bay.
We need this day to celebrate each other.
Please, God. We will give you the glory."

And that is exactly what I intend on doing! 
Never once did it rain on us.
No rides closed down.
The 67-70 degree predicted temps were blown out the water by the summer-like 80s.
Besides the massive number of school groups, the day was quite perfect. 
Crowds were relatively low. 
We road every ride we hoped to. 
Laughed and laughed as we flew over and up and around at insane speeds. 
Sure, I got whiplash a time or two 
and I'm fairly certain the older coasters can't be safe in the least,
but who cares.
That's half the fun! 

And for posterity's sake, a photo journey of our day together.  

Why, hello there, Cedar Point. 
How are you doing today?


gotta start the day right. 
Blue Streak, here we come!

couldn't resist the old school Calypso.

yeah, Sky Ride!


Thank you, Cedar Point, for a memorable day. 
Thank you, AAA, for the discounted tickets. 
Thank you, Lord, for answering my prayers in such an evident way!

And thank you, husband, for enjoying every moment of our anniversary weekend. 
I love you.

Posted in conjunction with Wednesday's Walk

May 24, 2010

The One with our Second Year

 Last night was the series finale of the best television show ever made.*
*In my educated opinion, of course.
If you know TV and you know me, then you know I'm referring to LOST.
Unfortunately I can't say a whole lot about the 2 and 1/2 hour episode.
Because it started at 9pm.
And I was straight up falling asleep by 9:45.
Kevin was trying his darndest to keep me awake.
But alertness was not to be found.
So since he wanted to finish the episode before a day at school where anyone might ruin it for him, he came and tucked me neatly into bed and kissed me goodnight.
I was asleep before he crossed the threshold, I believe.

He came to bed close to midnight and as soon as I flinched he was wishing me a happy anniversary. 
And had this beautiful background greeting me first thing this morning on my desktop:
Along with a link to this beautiful letter he wanted to share with the world. 

That's right, folks. 
Today, May 24th, is our two year wedding anniversary.
In some ways it feels like it can't possibly already have been two years.
And in most other ways it feels like decades.
Not because every day has been frustrating and torturous.
But because the love we've experienced in the last two years has been richer and deeper than most people experience in a lifetime. 

I am so blessed to have a husband who loves me.
--who embodies the love of Christ in my life each day.

And now for some background music.
Click here to listen to one of my favorite bands.
Play one of the most perfect songs about our relationship.
And read on.

My darling, 

I've learned so much from you in the last (nearly) six years we've been in love. You've shown me what a life of peace can feel like when you sit back and trust God. Thank you reminding me that life is not about stressing over momentary glitches, but enjoying every moment we've been given. Over and over again you have proven your love to me by proclaiming my praises from the roof tops. Every time I turn around I hear you telling someone about how great you think I am.  But more than that, when I'm feeling defeated, useless, or unworthy, you shower encouraging words on heart. Words so life-giving, my spirit feels renewed. Words that could only come from a man who has the love of Jesus emanating from his inmost being. Who loves me for who I am now and encourages me as I become the woman God created me to be.

You are strong.
You are my protector.
You are my confidant.
You are my best, most loyal friend.
You are faithful.
You are honest.
You are hard working.
You are uber intelligent.
You are my favorite co-worker.
You make me laugh.
You hold me when I cry.
You take walks when me and don't complain.
You love everything I create in the kitchen.
You are my favorite person to talk with.
You tell me I'm beautiful.
And you mean it.
You are my prince charming.

But mostly I've learned that we are two parts of the whole--a union that cannot be separated. God created us to be together, to serve Him together, to be an example of αγάπη (agape) love together (I Timothy 4:12). Thank you, Babe, for showing me true love--that which is patient, kind, humble, selfless, pure, truthful, protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering. I am thrilled to spend a lifetime with you.

Always your girl,

May 21, 2010

The One with the Rainy Day Sales

Another day of rain. 
I thought April showers were supposed to bring May flowers.
But I don't remember April having much rain at all.
And I'm pretty sure rain has dictated the forecast for this pre-summer month. 
At least the temps are almost where they should be.
I'm finally realizing SUMMER is just around the corner.
I start at SBC NEXT Thursday.

And tomorrow my darling husband and I are hitting the road and heading to America's Roller Coast.
Cedar Point, people!
Ahhh, yeah.
We are totally stoked.
This is our way of celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary.
A whole day of fun together.
Screaming at the top of our my lungs.
We're just praying the rains are religated to sprinkles.
We want to ride the rides like pros.
And hoping that the threat of showers will keep the crowds low.
I'm pumped just thinking about it!

But today, in the rain, I found some amazing garage sale deals.
Items we've been on the hunt for.
The looking finally paid off.

A mountain bike for Kevin.
Used twice by an older gentleman. 
Sold for $30. 
And the profits went to Relay for Life to boot!
The thing almost didn't fit in my Escort trunk. 
But thankfully I have my parents' amazing packing skills in my blood.

A five-octave electric keyboard for my brother-in-law.
He mentioned wanting one.
I found one.
It even came with the box.:)
I gave it a good cleaning and tried it out.
It sounds great.
It's super fun to play with.
I'm kinda jealous. heehee
And I got the lady to come down to $25 from $30. 

And lastly, we officially have a second spare bedroom.
The last sale I stopped at was hosted by the most lovely older woman.
We chatted it up.
She showed me a baby quilt she's working on.
And then I overhead her telling another woman about the bed for sale.
I thought it was just the frame so I hadn't bothered asking.
But no.
The headboard. footboard. box springs. mattress.
For TEN dollars. 
Say, what?
I said I couldn't possibly take it home in my teeny tiny car.
She asked where I lived
and when she found out it was only 2 miles away, she offered to have her husband drive it over for us in their van.
Kevin set it up for me and I already made the bed.
(With the only bedspread that covers the box springs.
I'd like something less country and more contemporary.
But that can come later.)
So bring on the guests! :D  

May 20, 2010

The One with the Big Five-O

Yesterday I was delighted to discover I had reached the "fifty followers" mark. 
I should probably give Number Fifty a prize don't you think?
Get this.
It was my HUSBAND
I know, right?

Two things come to mind.
1. How did he wait this long to become a blog follower?
2. How in the world did HE manage to be number five zero?

Sheesh. Of all the gin joints in the all the world.

(name the movie(s) anyone?)

May 19, 2010

The One where Twitter Deals Work for Me

You all know I'm all about the good deals, right?
I mean, seriously. 
That's pretty much the first thing people know about me.
I am a bargain hunter.
I hate spending money.
But when I do I shop for THE lowest price.
And I won't stop until I know I've found it. 
Thanks, Dad, for this little trait of mine, 
that both drives Kevin nuts and makes him thankful we're so frugal. :)

This is why I want to let you in on two little secrets of mine. 
Which may actually lead to more spending than would occur normally.
But that's totally up to you.

Every day hosts the "deal of the day."
And every 2 hours they post a special "lightening deal."
These are typically items sold for a steal.
A price you can't beat.
My only caution is, don't buy everything.
Because then you're not saving money.
Just keep an eye open for those items you've had on your wish list.
Or on your need list.
Or on your "My sister will definitely want this for her birthday" list. 
The easiest way to be aware of Amazon's great deals is to follow amazondeals on twitter.
Such a lovely (and potentially dangerous) feature. 

This is how I found my Gilmore Girls collection I'd been wishing for.

The same goes for
I used to check this lovely little ridiculous website company every once and a while.
But now I keep up to speed on their deals by following them on twitter.
I'll never miss a deal.
And you won't either!

We've bought Kevin's extra large widescreen monitor from woot.
And our dvd player.
And my parents HP slimline computer tower. 

It's totally legit. 

The One with a Walk Down the Aisle

You may recall my look back on college graduation last week
Well, it's only appropriate that today, just a week later, I share my beautiful memories of our wedding day.
Because, two years ago, that's exactly when it happened.
We graduated Saturday, May 17th, 2008.
We were married Saturday, May 24th, 2008.
It was a bit of a whirlwind, but I had everything planned out so the week in between was enjoyable and relaxing as I tied up final details at home with my family.

And sure, it may seem like we rushed into marriage.
But we had dated since November 28th, 2004. 
A near record long relationship for aChristian college like SAU. 
Where the themes are "A Ring by Spring"
and "SAU is like a shoe factory. Make up soles/souls. Send them out in pairs."

The pressure to get engaged and married is quite heavy in this environment.
As soon as the public thinks a good match has been made they start in on the engagement.
Sheesh, people, take a chill pill.

Sure, there were times when even I wanted to get married before we graduated.
But I'm so glad we waited.
We will never have those four years of college life and friendships again. 
But now, as husband and wife, we have the rest of our lives to spend together. 

Side by side.
A match only God could make. 
And quite a pair we are. :)  

And Monday will be our 2nd Wedding Anniversary.
We're celebrating Saturday with a trip to Cedar Point!
We took photos in my parents' beautiful backyard 
as well as on the shores of Lake Erie. 
It was a beautiful day.
Weather was perfect. 
Spirits were high.
Stress was low. 
LOVE was bursting from our seams. 
::moi. a bride. ready to marry my groom::

:::Kevin's family::
Brian. Kevin. Mom (Linda). Dad (Gordon).

::Melanie's Family::
Ashley. Mel. Dad (Dan). Mom (Karen). 

 ::mother and son::

::father and daughter::

::the boys. always playing frisbee::
(they didn't.)

::the lovely ladies::
Britt. Ash. Mel. Maria. Magan. Brooke.

::the boys::
Brian. Nick. Kevin. Dave. Gavin. David (Kevin's cousin, our ringbearer)

::my groom was SO ready to be married::

 ::walking down the aisle to a dramatic piano rendition of "Be Thou My Vision::
(this was seconds before I started bawling. 
I saw families and my pastor from my childhood.
Friends from high school.
Friends from college.
And I realized everyone from every walk of my life was supporting me.
And it was emotional.
By the time I got to the altar though, the tears had ceased.)

::my dad pronounced a blessing and prayer over us::

 ::wiping away his dripping tear::
(He's not a crier. But he had this steady stream of one tear that kept coming.
It was so precious.
But at this moment, I thought everyone had bowed their heads to pray.
And I reached into the bodice of my dress to grab my hanky.
Everyone was not praying. They were all laughing.)

::our good friends, Ephram and Kay, lead the congregation in singing 
Kevin and I held hands and sang it to each other.
It was one of the most moving parts of our service. 

::lighting our unity candles::

 ::THE Kiss::
(This was the first "public" kiss we'd ever shared.
I was a bit nervous. Kevin said "It'd better be good." :D
In the video you can see me ask him, "Was that good?!" And then I went in for another.)

::our wonderful wedding party::


::our cake emulating our theme--simple elegance::

::we are totally unconventional::
at the last second we realized we hadn't decided how to serve a piece of cake to each other.
So one of us put the piece in our teeth and the other bit off a bite. 
The crowds loved it. :)

::at the end of our reception, when 99% of the guests were gone, 
we still hadn't really tried the cake. 
So we grabbed forks.
and dug in. 

::and they lived happily every after::

Marriage is not always sunshine and roses.
But we knew that going in.
And we spent 9 months in pre-marital counseling with Dr. Brewer. 
It was so great.
We love being married.
It's even better than we imagined. 
And our goal is to keep our focus on Jesus.
And give HIM our hopes and dreams. 
Our resources and our hearts.
Complete control.
And the blessings will continue to flow. Malachi 3:10