Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happies & Crappies! {link-up}

Totally have been forgetting about this fun link-up!  Well, it's officially summer and the days have definitely been blurring together just like they do every year around this time... so hopefully I can keep things straight!  So, without keeping you in suspense, here are this weeks high & low moments...

  •  The biggest happy of the week is definitely having my big sister & niece in town!  Yes, they just got in town today, but I'm obviously already enjoying them being here.
  • The weather!  Goodness gracious, I think we had the most perfect weather today.  The sun was out yet it never felt as if it were beating down on us.  It was warm enough outside to wear a tank top but there was a beautiful breeze all day.  
  • Having more CLEAN laundry throughout the house than dirty.
  • PROP8 being overturned in California.  One love, baby!  A childhood friend of mine said it best:
    "Let's get a few things straight... 1. We as CHRISTIANS are called to love one another. PERIOD. It doesn't say love your neighbor unless their gay, black, purple, ugly, etc! It says LOVE your neighbor as yourself. 2. We are called to love everyone not hate. Do you think acting like an ignorant, pompous jerk is going to win anyone to Christ?! NO! If Jesus would have acted like some of you, there is no way He would have had people come to Him. 3. AND ANOTHER THING, you CAN be a CHRISTIAN and be GAY! Believe it or not! The Bible tells us no sin is greater than another, so for people to say you can't be a Christian and be gay is just stupid, out of context and just plain ignorant. I know this will probably piss a lot of you off, but let's be honest, Should it? You don't have to agree with marriage equality. I'm not telling you to. But don't think for one second God doesn't love them less than any of you other sinners (myself included) Praise Jesus for His continuing grace and mercy on us daily. That is all. Have a great day!"
  • Finding this song by the Civil Wars:

    Just amazing.  Their talent absolutely knocks my socks off.
  • Speaking of talent... Tony & I have been watching "Marley" over the past few nights and let me just tell you... AMAZING documentary on that fabulous and talented Bob Marley's life.  If I wasn't a fan before watching, I sure as hell am one now.  Not only are his accomplishments grand but he overcame so much to get where he got.  Beyond that, though, his voice is so pure and so remarkable.  I consider it a complete tragedy to lose such a star so young!  Like I told my husband, it would have been such a joy to hear his voice age over time.
  • Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad - YES.  It is even better than it looks and sounds.
  • My husband remembering to take the extra car seat out of his car this morning before work so that we had it for my niece this afternoon!  Yes, sounds like such a little thing, right?  But to me, following through with even the littlest tasks like that means so much to me!!! 

  •  Missing my little sister!
  • We weren't able to get in a bike ride at all this week!  I really miss those.  Hopefully that just means we will be able to make up for it and ride twice as much next week.
  • The scary weather we had earlier this week.  No bueno.
  •  Hearing of the absolutely awful and just downright disgusting man criminal who was caught on nanny-cam absolutely annihilating the unarmed mother in her own home.  When Tony told me about the story and that he was watching the video, my first response was, "Don't watch stuff like that!"  And I knew I wouldn't watch the beating that was caught on camera.  The more I heard about it, the more sick I felt about it but also the more I felt like I should try to watch it.  I just didn't want to feel like a coward, like I was ignoring it because I couldn't handle watching it when this mother handled so. much. worse.  It just makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry just thinking about what I just watched from that video.  Hearing she suffered a concussion, bruises, chipped teeth, and needed stitches... she took over 16 hits from this guy before being thrown down the stairs.  Having to stay silent during the beating as her 3-year-old daughter looked on so she could ensure her daughter's safety.  The whole terrible, awful situation just kills my spirit.  Absolutely leaves me feeling so saddened and desperate in our current world.  Not only that, but I just feel so unsafe.  Where can we live and take care of ourselves, our children, our families that we are protected from things of this nature?  And why do I have the overwhelming feeling like owning a handgun is NECESSARY at this point in my life when that is the very thing that took my dad's life?  Would he be here today if he had had one for protection?  I just feel very confused on so many things after hearing about this story.  I know that is was an absolutely senseless act and to try to make sense of it is futile, but I can't help it.  There is solace knowing that the accused man has BEEN ARRESTED and that this woman is alive and so are her children.  Even still, I just literally can't imagine going through it.  I wish I could wrap my arms around that mother and her children and tell them it will be okay... even though I'm not sure that it ever will.

I absolutely dislike ending this entry with something so awful.  So here is a video that moved me to tears in a wonderful, beautiful, encouraging way.  There ARE great people out there who do so much to just to bring joy to others.  I am going to do all I can to be one of these people to everyone as we all have so many crappies going on in our lives on a daily basis.  Here's one last happy:

The Vintage Modern Wife: Happies and Crappies Link Up

Monday, June 24, 2013

10 Things... {Blogging with Purpose link-up}

Several of my blog friends are linking up with Becky today for the "10 Things I Live For" link up.  I love the blogging with a purpose idea and even love this link up... but I think the wording is a little drastic... so I am going to write about 10 things that make me really really happy!  PS, two blogs in one day?!  Who am I?

10.  STARBUCKS.  How different can coffee from a magic drive-thru window really taste that different from coffee at home?  Who knows... but Starbucks is definitely one of my favorite pick-me-ups every once in a while.  My favorites?  Tall coffee frap with whip - this is my go to... mostly because of the taste and the low price!  Venti black tea lemonade with half the pumps (of sweetener) - this became my obsession during my time working at Build-A-Bear in the Collierville Mall (thanks to the best boss EVER, Paula!) and the taste of this drink is pure summer to me.  Venti Tuxedo (hot) with 2 pumps of each syrup - I only get this drink when I have earned a free drink at Starbucks!  Otherwise, if I'm in the mood for a tuxedo, I will typically get a tall!

09.  My first family.  Nothing can replace your first family for you.  They are a part of you just as much as your blood and DNA is a part of you.  Or at least that's how it is for me.  My sisters and parents really make me happy.  Whether it's reminiscing over old memories (like LIVING in the playroom on the pull-out couch every summer or watching dad feed all our leftover vegetables to Scrappy) or making new ones - the love and loyalty I feel for my "first" family will not ever fade.

 08.  Pinterest.  I'm currently embarking on a Pinterest-worthy DIY craft here at home that requires some "up-cycling" and I'm pretty excited about it!  It will probably be finished tomorrow so be on the lookout for a new post about that here soon!  I really just love all the beautiful, creative ideas out there.

07.  My extended family.  My in-laws.  Our aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  I love spending time with family and when that's not possible, I enjoy keeping up with them via preferred social networks!  Meeting extended family on my dad's side last summer for the first time in many years was something I enjoyed so much more than I could have ever imagined.  Spending time in Mississippi with Tony's family 24/7 for several days while we're in town.  Family holidays at my Aunt Jills or Uncle Jeffs and laughing about anything and everything over and over again.  Visiting my Gramma in Florida and having a Thanksgiving feast right on the beach.  Spending the weekend at Breanne & Dustin's in Wisconsin.  I mean... those moments are made by the company we are with, not by the activities we do or the movies we watch or anything like that.  All those moments are legendary because of the love and laughs we have shared together.

 06.  Walt Disney World.  Okay, even though I just said it sounded dramatic, I swear WDW is something I literally live for!  Does that make me awesome or pathetic?  Well, that is for you to decide but personally I think it makes me AWESOME!  I am always thinking of cool things for us to do the next time we visit the Disney parks... rides to ride, attractions to visit, restaurants to sit at while a parade goes by or during a fireworks show, resorts to stay at, characters to see, etc... Disney is one of my favorite and probably most frequent day dreams.  I cannot wait to see Presley experience the Disney magic for the first time and just can't wait to go together as a family.  Do we have any plans to go anytime soon?  Not necessarily (we are going to stop in Orlando & do downtown Disney towards the end of July during our family beach vacay) - but it is something that we will absolutely do one of these days!

05.  Our friends.  Man oh man.  Our friends has seen us through some of the most hilarious times and some of the most awful as well (and vice versa) and we are so lucky to have them all.  Our lives are all going in 295787460 different directions and yet we still find ways to bring our lives together and that is what matters!  I am so thankful for the happiness each and every one of our friends bring to me!

04.  Netflix streaming.  I've written about it numerous times before... but man oh man... what did we do before we had this??  Tony gets to watch Top Gear every night before bed (what is he gonna do once he is all caught up?!) and I get to watch whatever I fancy once he goes to bed... and of course througout the day Presley gets to watch her beloved "ABBY!" (aka, Sesame Street) - so we are all pleased!  And at $8 a month you just can't beat that price.  Who needs to pay a hefty cable bill when you have this?

03.  Body Escentials by Partylite.  Ladies and gentleman, I am pleased to introduce you to the best lotion... in the world!  And yet, I hate to tell you, it is DISCONTINUED.  Once I learned that PartyLite was getting rid of my beloved lotion, I bought 3-4 bottles.  I should have bought 20!  I didn't believe they would really discontinue the lotion and there was an expiration date on the bottle so I didn't want the lotion to go bad (whatever that means).  As my supply is dwindling, I am getting so sad that I will never have this product again!  Anyone have a favorite lotion they recommend?
RIP best lotion, ever.

02.  Photos.  Old ones, new ones, candid, professional portraits, action shots... you name it.  Can you tell that I am just in love and obsessed with pictures and picture-taking?!

01.  My tiny family.  I really do live for days that we spend with each other.  A few days ago when Tony was mowing the grass and me and Presley were playing outside - it just all felt so awesome.  Every time Tony would move out of our sight Presley would stare off in his direction and wait patiently for him to reappear just for her to scream and wave at him!  It was so precious.  There is nothing better than feeling loved by the people you love so much.  But really, an even better feeling is knowing the ones you love most love each other so completely as well!  It may not always be so picture perfect around here, but those moments when it is perfect is enough to keep you running on the days when it maybe doesn't feel so blissful.
Nursing Presley in the bathroom during the extreme weather we were having this afternoon. In my head, I was doing this to keep Presley calm, but really, I did this to keep MYSELF calm! :)  And yes, Presley is playing with my phone while nursing. Hello 21st Century.

  Hope you enjoyed the photo overload tonight.  If you'd like to link up, click the button below!

Marriage Monday: Ashley's Guest Post - How Divorce Has Shaped My Marriage

"I was feeling pretty good. You see, I've been lifting weights all summer for football. So yeah, I was feeling pretty good when I marched into that classroom on the first day of classes. I saw this really pretty girl sitting in front of the classroom. I noticed that there was a woman sitting across from this pretty girl, and figured that this woman was our professor. I approached this girl, cleared my throat, and gave my best smile while saying hello. And...nothing. This girl didn't even look up at me...didn't even acknowledge me at all. That was a blow to my ego, and I played it off as if it was nothing. I muttered, what a witch (okay, I may have used a different word that rhymed with a witch). I sat all way back in the classroom, and tried to feel better about myself. Suddenly, I saw another woman entering the classroom, and announced herself as our English professor. I was quite confused. Wasn't that other woman sitting across from this pretty girl our professor? I looked again in that direction, and saw that woman interpreting in American Sign Language (ASL). Then it occurred to me that this pretty girl was not intentionally ignoring me...she was Deaf. Suddenly, it came to me that I had to learn ASL just to get to know this girl..."

This is Stu's, my husband, favorite story to share when an opportunity arises about how we first met nearly 9 years ago. He claims that he saw this aura around me when he first saw me, and that was when he knew he was going to marry me. As for me, I wish I can say that I felt the same right away, and had this conviction that I was going to marry him, but I did not. 

I was more cautious, and reserved when it came to dating, and falling in love. You see, I came from a divorced family. My parents divorced when I was very young, and I was blessed to have parents that behaved very civilly around my brother, and me. My mom moved us in with my aunt and her children. I was lucky to grow up with my cousins, and my aunt. We were, and still are very close. While growing up, my mom, and my aunt often told us kids that our education came first, and marriage came second. My mom stressed it with every chance she had--go to college, get a good job, and find a good man after you've accomplished all that first. Take your time dating. Have fun. Don't be in a hurry to marry. 

My mom did not want me to make the same mistake that she did. She married at twenty-one, had me at twenty-four, had my brother at twenty-five, and got divorced at twenty-seven. Her twenties were over very quickly. Because of my mom's experiences, I knew that I wanted to enjoy my twenties as much as I could before settling down.

At a very young age, I viewed marriage as a very serious commitment, and knew in my heart that divorce was not in my cards. Marriage was something to be protected, cherished, and embraced as a gift. It was not something to be frivolous about. Too often than not, I saw among my family members, especially my dad, that marriages fell apart, and they had married for wrong reasons. Do not get me wrong; they did love each other, and even with that, love was not enough because the reasons behind their marriages were not strong enough to sustain the marriage. I saw how miserable people were in their marriages, and did not understand how they came to be in that position. I saw how divorces tore the kids, and parents apart.

As I grew older, some of my friends married at a young age, and regretted the decision to marry. I did not want to be in that situation where I came to regret my marriage. My feelings about marriage grew fortified as time went on. Sure, I dated guys that I had no inclination of being with long-term, and I learned from those experiences. I was not pressured to get married, nor was I in a hurry...until I met Stuart. 

On the other hand, Stu came from a family that valued marriage. His parents recently celebrated 35-years anniversary. Needless to say, divorce was a foreign concept to Stu. He placed a great value on marriage, and viewed it as a life-long commitment. It was not something to be taken lightly of, and when there were bumps in the marriage, then it simply meant that the bumps needed to be worked on instead of smoothing it over, and pretending that all was good when it wasn't. It was one of the reasons why we fell so naturally into our relationship was because we held similar values despite our drastically different backgrounds.

A month after getting to know Stu, he put down the notebook, the one we used to write back and forth because he did not know how to sign at that time, and started signing (which took me completely off guard because none of the guys I had dated in the past did this for me) - this was the exact moment when I knew I was going to marry him. Getting to the place where we finally exchanged our vows was a journey in itself!

We dated for six and half years before tying the knot. It was not because we did not want to get married. We had individual goals that we wanted to accomplish before entering a life-long commitment. We felt that by doing individual goals that needed to be accomplished strengthened our relationship. After our college graduation, I went to graduate school in Washington DC, and interned in Twin Cities while Stu worked toward his teaching, and coaching careers for two years. It was difficult to be apart, and maintain our relationship long-distance especially with so many of our friends getting married. For a short period, we were uncertain of where our relationship was going because our goals became so individualistic. We remained each other's biggest supporters, and that helped us to remain committed. Love was what held us together despite only seeing each other twice or three times a year. 

Stu, and I had our bumps in our relationship that we had to overcome as individuals, and as a couple. We felt that a part of reason why there were so many divorces among people we knew was because they did not address their personal struggles which ultimately effected how they related to each other, and it effected their marriage. We bettered ourselves for our relationship, and it made the world of a difference - especially with how we communicate with each other when we are upset. We focused on our health, amending our communication, finding a healthy balance of sharing similar, and personal interests, and strengthening our bond by using humor. We started looking at things with a sense of humor. When things went wrong, instead of harping or bickering, we figured that it could have been worse, and laughed it off. It was not that we didn't take things seriously when a situation called for it. We did. It was also so vital not to take everything so personal. All of these became our buffers against the big D word.

It  helped tremendously to carry this attitude into our marriage. Sure, we were not always perfect. We still made mistakes. We had our bad days. Instead of holding resentments, and scores of what had happened, we let it go, and forgave. Good days far outweighed the bad. We were blessed with our newest addition to our family, our son, and he became our daily reminder of how blessed we were to have each other to lean on.

By recognizing that we are not always perfect, we are more prone to be forgiving, and understanding when we make mistakes. We are confident that we can get through snags, burls, and bumps that may crop up in the course of our marriage. We believe strongly in the verses, 1 Corinthians 13: Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not rejoice in evil, but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails. 

We are fully committed to each other, and that is what makes our marriage strong. 

Quick Questions:
What do you admire most about your significant other? Stu has a very big, open heart. He would gladly take his shirt off his back to anyone. It is one of many things I love about him. 

What was your first dance song? We made an agreement that Stu was going to pick the first song, and I was going to pick the last dance song for our wedding. He ended up choosing My Best Friend by Tim Mcgraw. He said that he felt that it described our relationship perfectly. 

Describe your significant other in 3 words. Determined, loving, and altruistic. 

If you could redo one thing from your wedding day, what would you do differently? I would change how big our wedding was. As an oldest kid in my family, there was an expectation to have a large wedding, and while that was wonderful, and a beautiful day, I would have liked to downsized the wedding attendance. I would like to make it more intimate, and just about us. Perhaps renew vow ceremony someday? :) 

Ashley's Blog: Every Beautiful Little Piece
Easily one of my favorite blogs (and bloggers!) that I keep up with - Ashley shares so much about the many facets of her beautiful life.  First of all, there is her wonderful self.  She frequently posts topics in her "It's a Deaf Thing" series, which is getting much attention these days - as it should! Next, the hubby, Stu.  And then, her lovely son, Forrest (and nope, he isn't deaf, in case you were wondering).  And I can't forget about their three fur-babies, Layla (the basset hound) and two cats Missy Girl & Mr. Jinxy.  The house is full, yet Ashley still has tons of love to spread around.  I am a huge supporter of hers, am thankful to call her a friend, and enjoy following in her beautiful life.  Thanks for stopping by & sharing, Ashley!  Don't be a stranger.  :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

What's New?!

 Time to empty out the brain!
  • Feeling guilty for not blogging more often.  I feel like I'm really going to regret not writing more about the happenings going on around here every so often.

  • Weather is finally HOT here.  Like, hot hot.  Presley has been loving her little pool.  I keep trying to talk Tony into getting one for all three of us to at least sit in (like this one)!  So far, no luck.  I think he has the right idea, though!  We've been spending lots of time outside these days as a family between our fun bike rides to local parks and spontaneous happenings like the Greek Festival!  It's never a dull moment here and I live for times as a family.

  • Presley got her first molar - up top on her right side!  It was poking through her gums when I checked the other day... but I'm not sure of any of the others because she absolutely hates when I fish around in her mouth.  I know they're all very close, though.

  • Oh, and while we're talking about some of Presley's firsts... let me just mention she pooped in the bath tub for the first time.  That was definitely interesting!  She is such a good kid... handled the whole thing great.  And thankfully, so did I.  I just kept repeating to myself, "I love being a mom... I love being a mom..."  ;-)
  • Last week I went to a "Vino Van Gogh" night with my friend Jess.  We painted our versions of the Eiffel Tower which was really neat but so much harder than I thought it would be!  I was definitely happy to spend some time with Jess, too. 

  • My big sister, Amanda, & my niece, Anne Marie, will be visiting towards the end of next week and I can't wait to see them!  It's always such a happy occasion to get together!  We will have several family members in town to celebrate my cousin, Brett's, graduation from college and my Uncle Chuck's retirement.  It should be a great time.  However, it's definitely bittersweet since my little sister, Ashley, will be missing (and her fiance Jonathan as well as Amanda's husband, John).  It's great when any of us can get together... but there is nothing like a full-on sister reunion.  Life is just complete with my sistas.  Even more complete when the six of us (well, EIGHT now that we have Anne Marie & Presley plus our significant others!) can get all together.  And an even better time?  When all the cousins and all of our significant others & kids get together.  That is a RARE occasion but always a wonderful time.  I just wish that was happening this upcoming weekend!!!

  • We have much to do around here before we have visitors!  One of the things on my (random) to do list is to finally finish Presley's 12 month picture frame.  It's so cute - it's got a space for monthly pictures from birth to 12 months and I've been DRAGGING my feet about putting the last two photos in there.  I guess I am in denial about it all?  Anyways, the last photos are ordered and will be getting picked up tomorrow.
  • She is walking so great these days!  Also doing an excellent job of feeding herself.  We've slowly been trying to incorporate utensils at mealtime, but she still sees them as toys.  Presley also thinks brushing her teeth is HILARIOUS and loves "brushing" her own teeth each night.  So easy peasy at bedtime and still going through this phase of throwing her bedtime buddies out of the crib.  She usually seems to do this in the morning if I don't get her out of bed soon enough - she doesn't get mad or anything, just does it as a game, I guess.  And sometimes she'll do it after we tuck her in and leave the room if she's not totally sleepy yet.

  • I feel like it's been a while since I did my own Marriage Monday post.  To be honest, I've been enjoying these guest blogs so incredibly much - I hope you guys are as well.  Is there any specific marital topic or issue you'd like to see discussed in a future Marriage Monday post?  I'm hoping to get a marriage-related post written from a male's perspective here soon... so if there are any takers out there or any wives who would love to volunteer their husbands, shoot me a comment or e-mail and we'll set it up!

  • Had a GREAT Father's Day weekend in Milwaukee visiting my cousin & her beautiful family!  Tony got to drive a Ferrari around a race track and we went to the Milwaukee Zoo as well.  I think my favorite part was staying up to talk and laugh soo much with Breanne, Dustin & Tony Saturday night.  At one point I was laughing so hard I was definitely crying!  It was great - we absolutely had a blast.
  • Presley and I went swimming with my friend, Ashley, this week who is 38 weeks pregnant and just absolutely gorgeous.  I am so excited for everything lying just ahead of her and Jake!  They are expecting a baby boy and you better believe there will be a post once he arrives!!!  The swimming experience was the first time Presley has been in a big pool since she was just a few months old and she did really great.  You could tell she wasn't too sure about the situation, though.

And that's what's been happening with us lately!  Hope you're enjoying the summer as much as we are - gotta soak up the sun while we've got it.