Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review

Every year Dave Barry does a Year in Review. I decided to do one too only mine isn't nearly as wittily crafted. Since time was so elusive for me this year I wanted to remember the things that happened in my life. I meant to write more often but the unimportant things constantly got in the way. I am always amazed that the years go by so quickly and yet so much happens.


January
...started off with a bang. Instead of eating the traditional corned beef, cabbage, and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, I feasted on Gatorade, Sprite, Jello (not red or purple though) and lovely Halflytely Bowel Prep solution. January 2 brought a colonoscopy to check for signs of Ulcerative Colitis which I was diagnosed through blood test the previous October. I was told I was much to young to be there to which I responded, "all right, can I go home then?" No such luck. I started to wake up during the procedure and recalled a very unpleasant sensation down below and voices saying to knock me back out. After coming back to earth, I received wonderful pictures of my innards as the doctor explained everything to me and my husband as my mind wandered. She told me everything looked good and I wasn't currently showing signs of Ulcerative Colitis. The first words out of my dopey mouth were, "OK, can I try to get pregnant now?" She told me she wanted to do an upper GI series so coming off my BCP would have to wait a few more weeks. At the end of January I quit my BCP.

February
...was fairly uneventful, I mean how can you top a colonoscopy? We visited my younger brother, sister-in-law, and nephew up north for my nephew's first birthday. Their small town hadn't changed at all since we were last there for their wedding the previous year.

March
...marked 10 years of togetherness for Brandon and I. Later we ventured to the hill country for a family camp out.

April
...my partner in crime at work left me for greener pastures. I was tossed around from office to office. I was ignored. Then they realized how much work she actually did, realized they couldn't keep up and stayed permanently in panic mode. My mood started to dip.

May
...I realized that I needed help to get out of the disaster that was becoming my life. I researched counselors while all I really wanted to do was crawl in a hole. I found sympathetic friends who understood what I was going through. We flew out to Phoenix to visit my older brother and his family. It was a welcome distraction and then back to my crap-tastic life.

June
...I started counseling. She told me to see my doctor. My doctor put me on drugs. (Yippee!!) I bared my soul. I learned that I needn't call my self stupid.

July
...I paid off my student loans 5 years early, I was no longer a slave! It was cooler than usual. It rained a lot, which was nice. Our bills were cheaper and the weather matched my moods. I was starting to feel better, I no longer begged for God to take me home.

August
...after spending a good deal of money fixing something on his 1990 truck, my husband killed it on the way back from picking it up. Somehow the coolant exited as he drove the short trip back. His truck overheated and he blew the head gasket. I was glad to get rid of the POS although we planned to replace it in October and not August. Weeks of searching for a new (used) car ensued as we took turns driving each other to work in the opposite direction each day.

September
...we were still searching for a car. We finally found a 2002 in good condition and paid cash for it. This brought lectures on how we should have taken out a loan and invested the money we spent instead. (Talk about Stupid Tax) This really brought Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover into perspective. He said people would think us crazy and he was right. My other younger brother got engaged.

October
...I came to the startling realization that I needed to quit my job. I wasn't getting anything out of my job except for endless hours of banging my head against the wall and stress. I made plans for a departure at the end of the year. I needed to take a sabbatical and seek God's direction in my life. Surprisingly this left me feeling strangely optimistic (clearly the Lord at work) instead of the trepidation I felt months earlier when I "knew" I was stuck where I was and couldn't quit my job without having another lined up. I also informed my counselor and my doctor that I was quitting my antidepressants. My partner in crime who left for greener pastures decided to return from said greener pastures for a much higher salary. I questioned her sanity.

November
...brought the start of the preparation for the hectic holiday season. My older brother who in years past always waited until Christmas Eve to do all of his shopping bragged informed me that he was almost finished with his Christmas shopping. We attended our couple friend's destination outdoor wedding which turned out to be rainy and nearly freezing. We were of course attacked by the "pregnancy paparazzi" all weekend. The house we shared with another couple and college friends (mind we have all been out for years now) turned into an all night frat party complete with booze, stripping (by the guys), and guys banging on my door in the wee hours. I got lots of sheepish I'm sorries from my husband who had assured me when making the arrangements that his buddies had all grown up now. Apparently they never do.

December
...I announced to the head of my department that I was leaving for personal reasons. Everyone thought it was a huge joke. I later found out that my boss was let go that same day because her husband who also works with us announced he was leaving to work for a competitor. Seeing as we had been in panic mode since April, it was now stepped up a notch. I told them I would leave in January to give them adequate time to replace all of us. I was subjected to horrible group sales meetings in a clear attempt to motivate me and show me all the excitement I would be missing if I left; all of the "oh-we-are-just-too-busy-Rachel-is-faster-just-give-it-to-her-even-
though-it-isn't-her-work-and-she-is-overloaded-too," extra work; the hours of working late so I couldn't even attempt to do Christmas shopping; and keeping up with my extra-curricular holiday obligations. Luckily our company shuts down between Christmas and New Year's and I was told the Friday before Christmas that if I finished all of my work I could go early. Even more fortunately my counterparts in the eastern office had their lines of communication go down, so before they could send me anymore of their BS work I hightailed it out of there. The weekend before I spent helping everyone else get ready for all the festivities. Christmas found us united with my brothers who live out of town and a week jam-packed with family togetherness.

And now on this last day of the year I am sitting peacefully relaxing with my wonderful husband with no commitments and no where to be but right here. The year has had it's ups and downs. I have laughed and cried and I have learned. 2008 is a year of change for me. I'm starting the year by finally taking some time for myself. I am going to seek God's direction and purpose for my life. I am excited for the possibilities. Who knows what the year will bring for us? A career change? More growth? A new title of mommy? Bring it on!

Monday, December 3, 2007

I Did it...

I Quit my job!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Dark Side of Me Continued

...I continued going to therapy once a week. I found it very difficult at times. She asked me hard questions, questions I couldn't answer. She prescribed journaling , she wanted me to keep it with me at all times and to just write whatever was in my head. She also gave me many assignments that I found difficult; recalling first good and bad memories, recalling when I did something good that deserved merit. I found that doing these exercises didn't help me all that much.

I soon discovered that I had entirely unrealistic expectations of myself, that I didn't know where they came from. I have always seemed to have high self-esteem. All through school growing up when I was teased I would brush it off or completely ignore it. (I learned a thing or two growing up with brothers.) I didn't ever care what anyone else thought of me. If they hated me, thought me ugly, that was their problem, not mine. I didn't suffer from peer pressure, I didn't have to keep up with societal trends. I was my own person, the world be damned. What I discovered is I am entirely too hard on myself. I had lofty expectations that

I could never meet. So I constantly put myself down. I was filled with "negative self talk." At one point I was told to wear a rubber band and snap myself every time I thought or said something negative about myself. Yeah, not so much.

I also discovered this wasn't the first bought of depression I suffered. I was able to clearly identify periods in my life where I was depressed. Those 2 months in college (I remember the winter Olympics were going on.) I distinctly remember riding in the car around town and wanting to open the door while it was moving and jump out. When I graduated from college during a huge slump in the economy and couldn't find a job. I did some seriously destructive things during that time. Soon after I was married. My husband was working night shifts because he was having difficulty finding a job in his degree field. He would leave for work before I got home from work. I would come home and lie on the couch flipping through channels until about midnight when I would get up to go to bed. I wouldn't cook dinner for myself, what was the point. And I couldn't tell him how unhappy I was because I knew he already felt bad himself. (I did tell him about it much later when we learned to communicate better.) I remember at one point taking my wedding ring off and throwing it across the room. He got up and started to walk out on me.

So now that I knew this had been a recurrent problem, I knew that I was going to overcome it. I was not going to let this define me as a person. Now that I was discovering what some of my problems were and where they came from I knew more what I needed to do.

First, I needed to stop the medication. In replacement of my constant anxiety I became completely apathetic. I didn't worry about anything anymore because I found myself just not caring about anything. I felt numb and I didn't like it. I also suffered other annoying side effects that I didn't want to deal with anymore. I firmly told both my doctor and my counselor that I wanted to ween off the medication. They both agreed with my judgment and allowed me to come off. What an exciting time that was! After completely coming off the medication, I felt like I was constantly hit with low-grade electrical shock especially when I was tired. I would get sudden spells of dizziness and feel off balance. When all of this finally went away, I was a happy person.

My next job was to let go the "rules" I had put in place for my life. I needed to stop with the unrealistic expectations and just live my life as best I could. I needed to stop expecting myself to be so perfect.

The whole journey has been difficult, but now that I know what I am dealing with, I am able to face it head on rather that piling it all up in the back of my head somewhere. I still have difficult days when the darkness overwhelms me, but those days are fewer and much farther between.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Dark Side of Me

This is a post that I have been working on for some time. Admitting that I was depressed was very difficult for me. In hindsight I don't even know why because it definitely isn't something to be embarrassed about. Everyone goes through depression at one point of their life or another. Anyone who says otherwise is, well, in denial.

It was about May that I felt like I was losing control. I didn't cry all of the time or stay in a dark room. My mind was constantly going, I would go over and over things in my head to the point of exhaustion. I was physically exhausted all the time. Work became overwhelming, being a "good" wife became overwhelming. I started to ignore all of my friends and family, I stopped talking honestly with my husband. Nobody could understand me, what was the point. I remember closing the door of my office several times to break down in tears hysterically, telling God that I just couldn't handle it all and begging to please, please, please take me home.

At some point I thought that maybe I needed to seek professional help, I still didn't think I was depressed but finding a counselor to talk to couldn't hurt me, right? The next step of trying to find someone to talk to while I wanted to crawl into the deepest and darkest hole was difficult to say the least. I shared with Brandon that I thought I needed help, he looked weary and told me if that was what I needed that he supported me. I felt he didn't understand me at all.

Some time during my search I received a phone call from a good friend that I hadn't talked to in a while. My life had been so busy, hers had been busy, no excuse was a good excuse. She commented that something sounded very wrong with me. On the phone I had always tried to be pleasant and not give away that I had the weight of the world on my shoulders, but she could tell. So I spilled out everything that I was going through. She told me I sounded depressed and that she had gone through some rough times herself. It was this more than anything that convinced me I needed to get some help sooner than later.

I found a counselor and kept convincing myself that she would tell me that I was wasting her time, I was so nervous about it. I found the thought of sharing everything with a total stranger difficult. She was pleasant and asked me a few question, why I was there, what I wanted to accomplish, what was going on in my life. She then told me I physically looked depressed, my facial expression, my body language. She wanted me to take the Beck Inventory. I ended up scoring pretty high so she suggested that I make an appointment with my physician to discuss possibly going on anti-depressants. My stomach sank, anti-depressants, I couldn't take those.

I made the appointment anyway. I was slightly amused that when I called to make an appointment with my very popular doctor that she didn't have available appointments until at least 2 months from then. They then asked the nature of my call and I told them. Obviously the D-word is a magic word as they quickly transferred me to one of her nurses who worked me in for 2 days later.

I brought my Beck Inventory with me and she asked me what seemed like hundreds of questions about what was going on in my life and what brought me to her. I told her it was the recommendation of my counselor. She told me she was very happy that I was seeking counseling and not just a quick fix. Judging by my answers she decided I was suffering from anxiety and depression. She wanted to prescribe and anti-depressant that also works with anxiety, and she prescribed exercise. She wanted me to wear out my body as much as my mind was worn out so that I would be able to get good sleep. I told her I was weary of going on anti-depressants. She told me about all the side-effects and that I likely wouldn't have to use it indefinitely. I left with my RX and cried the whole way home.

To be continued....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Art of Restraint

There have been few instances in my life where I have needed to use restraint. This evening was one of those times.

Whenever I get home in the evenings, I park near my apartment on the edge of the complex and walk towards the center to get my mail. Tonight was no different. As I walked towards the steps where the mailboxes are located, a car came barreling through the front gate apparently in pursuit of the handicapped loading zone that I was walking across. This "lovely individual" wanted to park her car there because she is too lazy to park a few feet away in a real space.

I continued on and was pulling the last of my mail out when this "lovely individual" walked up and in all of her older, much wiser glory said, "Do you have any idea how close I came to hitting you just now, literally?" I glanced up at her a bit incredulously, glad my hands were occupied by mail and keys. I clamped down hard on my tongue because the first thing that came to mind was, "Do YOU realize how close I am to hitting you right now, literally?"

I am definitely not violent, I would never even think of hitting someone else, tonight I came close. But I am also able to slay with my tongue. The next thing that popped into my head was, "Is the reason that you had to have the handicapped spot because you are blind?" It was growing dark outside but I wasn't dressed in all black, in fact I had khaki pants on and was carrying a rather large white tote bag on my shoulder that was facing toward the gate.

At that point I figured there was nothing productive (or polite) that I could have said to her so I shut my mailbox, turned on my heal and walk right by her. As I rounded the corner I heard her murmur, "That's right, keep on walking." OOO mean things in me were fighting to come out but I just kept on walking. I realize that it isn't very polite to ignore someone but in this case I had to bite my tongue like nobody's business.

One consolation was that Brandon said he was proud of me for not rising and that he doesn't know that he could have held his tongue. At least my husband loves me. :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Song of the Saints

Song of the Saints

Tell the loved ones we are safe now.
Tell them we have no more pain.
Do not hurry heaven's journey,
but do not fear it just the same.

All will go through times of grieving,
every tear must be released;
but live a tribute to our memory,
heal your pain with holy peace.

For our faith was never futile
as we trusted in the Lord;
every word now has been proven:
all we knew and even more.

Every promise Christ has given
through our voyage was proven true.
Christ prepared for us a mansion
and a mansion waits for you.

So do not faint from earthly challenge,
hold your faith and live it strong.
Years on earth are but a moment,
days in heaven go on and on.

Years on earth are but a moment,
days in heaven go on and on.

-Pepper Choplin 2002

I have sung this song twice now and think the message here is powerful and meaningful. I can't hear this song or read these words without feeling great joy. Today I honor all of those who have gone before me. Some have touched my life directly, some indirectly, and some not at all. But every person has meaning somehow, someway while they are here on earth. They have all made a contribution no matter how great or how small. And I know they are all smiling down on us as they wait to welcome us home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mischief Managed

Brandon's co-workers decided to dress up and have a costume contest for Halloween. At work they have nicknamed him "Harry" because he bears a slight resemblance to Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. He even has one thing in common with Harry that Daniel Radcliffe does not, green eyes. He figured he wouldn't disappoint his co-workers.

He seems to love to wait until the last minute for everything and this was also no exception. Yesterday evening he went around to a party store (jam-packed of course) for face paint, hair dye spray, and a robe. He wasn't able to find the robe after looking there and a few other places so he decided to just where a hooded sweatshirt. He also stopped at a home improvement store to get a dowel, duck tape, and electrical tape. He then stopped at an office supply to get laminating strips.

When he got home I decided to take on the challenge of fashioning him a wand. I took the dowel and wrapped it in many layers of black duck tape, then finished the top with brown electrical tape. I wrapped many more layers at the bottom for a handle. It was quite fun to make and turned out looking pretty good. He couldn't find a red and yellow striped tie so he stuck with a red and used yellow tape to make stripes. He also made his Hogwarts patch by printing out the logo, laminating it and pinning it to his shirt.

This morning I helped him coat his hair in black spray, that stuff gets everywhere. I even found some when I went to blow my nose later (ew!) I also painted on his scar using red face paint and brown and beige eye shadow to make it less glaring.

He ended up tying for 3rd place. When he got home that evening he had black dust everywhere. His face looked sooty and the back of his collar had collected a bunch as well. It looked like he traveled home by floo powder.

I'd say we did a good job, especially since he waited until the last minute. I was just sorry that he didn't have a robe, that would have been the perfect final touch. Oh well, next year!

(Sorry for the picture quality)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Life...

Life has been overwhelming lately. I have dealt with more in the last few months then I ever knew I could deal with. But once again I have come out stronger and grown.

It is very easy to take for granted that I still have so much growing to do. Just when I think I have figured one thing out, something else hits me and I stumble. Really I would have it no other way because I am grateful for the chance to be better armed the next time something hits me hard. It is far too much to write down all at once so it will come in pieces.

For the longest time I figured I had nothing to contribute to this journal, who would want to read the insignificant things I had to say? But I have learned in the last few months that sometimes all it takes is to know some other human being has gone through what you are suffering to make you feel a little less like a complete mess. So I will share my experiences in hopes that maybe I can help someone else as much as others have helped me through these difficult times.

I haven't been able to fully express myself. So much of it I have kept in, kept away from others, kept away from myself. How could others know me when I really didn't know myself? Now I realize I want to live life to the fullest instead of merely existing in it.

I have much to add in retrospect so that I can remember some of the things that have happened in the last few months while I have been so silent. I find that the older I get the harder time I have recalling details or events. Needless to say, I need a little help.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Congratulations!!

...to my little brother Matt and one of my good friends Jess. May your life be filled with joy always! It is so nice that my brother is marrying someone that I have gotten to know as a friend before they started dating. I'm glad you are going to be my sister.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wonders of God's Creation

Today we left to drive even farther north to the Grand Canyon. I naively believed the Grand Canyon wasn't all that great and definitely wasn't on my list of must sees. Oh how wrong I was. Pictures definitely don't do it justice. (So now I will post some pictures.) Going out to the edge of the rim I was blown away by the expanse of it all. I never expected it to be so big. You look over the edge and are at a complete loss for words. It did kind of look false to me, like it was the backdrop on a movie set. It's just completely unreal.

When traveling to the Grand Canyon you must take a few days to truly see everything that you want to see. You can not see everything in one day. There is a bus tour that takes you to different photo spots along the rim which you can only see on this bus ride. We did a bit of hiking down one trail. I only went about halfway down because Jessica started to get a bit winded and I didn't want to make anyone else turn back.

I was amazed at how different the same spot could look at different times during the day. Brandon and I have decided that someday we want to go back and take a backpacking trip down to the bottom of the canyon. It is the only way you can get to the bottom as it takes several hours to get down and twice as long to get back up.

I was also surprised to hear that if you want to take a mule down you have to book it a year in advance.

In the picture of Matthew to the left if you click on it you will see some local wildlife. Unfortunately I didn't get very many good pictures of Joseph and Noe was particularly elusive it seems.

In Grand Canyon National Park I saw the greatest number of foreign tourists I have ever seen in such great concentration anywhere in the US. We came across quite a few Germans and saw a great many Asians. They came from far away to see the grandeur.

It is definite must see on the list of places to visit before you die. Now go book some tickets, I'm sure it's not at all busy during the summer.

Friday, May 25, 2007

On the Road Again...

Today we woke up bright and early and headed north to Slide Rock State Park. It was definitely nice to see some trees again.

Slide Rock was pretty cool. First we hiked around and climbed the rocks a bit because the water was super cold. A couple of the kids were brave enough to take a slide but I'm not that nuts. When I finally did get in it was breathtakingly cold. I mean it was so cold that you feel like your insides are freezing. We did have a blast.

I didn't take the big plunge though. There is a big rock cliff under a bridge that makes boys into men. It's a good 40 foot jump. Many climb to the top and look down in fear. They sit on the top trying to psyche themselves up only to climb back down in shame. My nephew Joseph decided to become a daredevil and took the jump quite a few times. There would be all of these trash talking guys standing up there calling each other wusses (and far worse) and here comes this skinny little twig of a 12 year old who doesn't hesitate and runs clear off the end. If I learn how to post video I will add one of his jumps.

We spent most of the day there and moved on to Sedona for a bit of site seeing. It's a very artsy place with lots of big houses and resorts. I got to test my parenting skills when we went into a "glassables" shop. My SIL Jessica sent her three boys to sit outside as there were plaques throughout the store reading, "You break it, you buy it." Turns out I should have sent my "boy" out too. He was admiring a glow in the dark glass cube and decided to show it to Kat. When he was setting it back on it's precarious corner it fell off onto the shelf with a loud thump. Yes, he broke a great chip out of it and ended up having to buy it. The store owner was very nice and only made him cover her cost of it (about half) and sent him on his way with it. I kept my cool and didn't yell at him because it was only an accident. He said to me later, "Why couldn't I have chipped a neat looking one. Instead I get stuck with an ugly cube." Oh well.

We stopped at Jessica's favorite, Cracker Barrel before heading to our hotel to get some much needed rest.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Arrival

We arrived in Phoenix this morning to visit my brother and his family. Boy is it hot here, I don't want to hear anything about it being a dry heat. It's still hot!

As we pulled into the gate and waited to get off the plane I caught sight of this and Brandon convinced me to take a picture. For some reason I thought it was hilarious, Brandon thought it was too so at least I'm not alone.

The first thing that stuck me as we drove around town is how bright it is outside. I mean, we have full on sunshine here but it is nothing compared to there. We were told to keep our sunglasses on while outside so that we didn't burn our eyes. We were also informed that we needed to carry water with us at all times so as not to get dehydrated. When my sister-in-law Jessica first started working outside soon after their arrival she had to go to the hospital for heat stroke. Her doctor informed her she needed to find a job working indoors.

Another thing I noticed was the lack of trees. You can see cactus and hills for miles but no naturally occurring trees. I would miss that if I lived there, and changes in weather, sometimes having a cloudy day is nice.

That evening we went to the baseball game. It just so happened that our home team was playing there. We were treated to a complete slaughter, thanks Astros. They have a swimming pool out in right field which I have never seen at a ballpark. I was unimpressed when I actually saw it. I expected something more than a dinky little pool. They pulled out all the stops on that one.

My nephew Matthew was the only one of the three kids who was interested in going to the game. All he needed was his bag of was roasted peanuts and he was all set. He cheered on his Astros to the bitter end much to the amusement of the adults sitting near us. They were impressed with his enthusiasm and dedication and told him they would do better next time. After the game was over we headed back. Time to get some much needed sleep for our early start tomorrow.

Friday, May 11, 2007

She Really Took the Wind Out of Their Sails

There once was a potentially wild woman called Andrea. She was really special because she was ahead of her time. Everybody awaited her arrival with baited breath. Then she decided she wasn't ready for her close up and turned and fled. All the world's a stage and there is always a fresh excuse for some drama.

The meteorologists and media were becoming quite giddy that there was a sub-tropical storm brewing and it was going to hit land! They dug out their dire predictions about how this is going to be the worst-possible-hurricane-season-EVER!! Everybody panic!!!! And then, the storm was downgraded and not expected to hit land. You could hear the utter dejection in the meteorologist's voice as he forlornly proclaimed, "Well, (sigh) Andrea isn't doing to well..." (His exact words.) He really did sound like someone had just shot his puppy.

Because a storm of any kind raining down its fury on anyone is a good thing? The total destruction and devastation it can bring is a good thing?

And thank you for personifying a storm.

Friday, May 4, 2007

This Just In

News anchormen never cease to amuse me with their wit. Yesterday afternoon we had some spectacular thunderstorms. In our northern counties there were even tornado warnings. Since tropical storm Alison hit a few years ago any kind of weather is a major event in the local media. We like to poke fun when we see a reporter standing in ankle deep water, gravely speaking of wide spread street flooding in all of their dramatic glory.

I had Brandon pause the DVD we were watching just so I could see what they would come up with on the 10pm news. I wasn't disappointed. They reported high winds, hail, and an unconfirmed twister. They showed clips of limbs laying across roads, uprooted trees, and damaged houses. They aired interviews with overly excited, cream of the crop eye witnesses.

Then came the gripping, ratings catching, Emmy winning commentary;"Nobody was seriously injured but a tree branch did fall on a man's head."And then they segued into another story. That's it? We looked at each other and both burst out laughing. Brandon kept repeating, "This is so wrong, but I can't stop laughing." And they make the big bucks.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A Well Deserved Night Off

Earlier today my wonderful husband informed me that he was taking dinner duty tonight and I had the night off. Of course I happily agreed. I was able to come home and at my leisure finish the book I had a few pages left of, do my cardio salsa workout, and sit around. It's nice to not rush-rush for once.

Brandon has been wanting to try the absolutely delicious looking Steak Sandwich courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. The smells coming from the kitchen are absolutely divine.

I always feel very special when Brandon does the little things for me. Cooking is not something that comes naturally to him. The man can multi-task on a computer to the point he has so many tabs and programs open it makes my eyes water and my head spin. He can write complex programs and edit pictures quite deftly but nearly loses his head when it comes to recipes. Knowing that he is sacrificing his precious time to make me some yummy food which I could probably do in half the time makes me feel pretty darn special. (Can you tell that "acts of service" is one of my primary love languages?) So I have given him some helpful pointers and left him to work some magic. Did I mention how wonderful it smells?

Growing up Brandon wasn't given many opportunities to help out in the kitchen. One of his "favorite" phrases is, "Watching is helping." When I tease him with it I get the sarcastic smirk and annoyed eye-roll and coming from this easy going boy, that is saying something. His PSA is: Parents let your kids help you out no matter how much time you "waste". Who cares if you can do it twice as fast. By helping out as a wee one it builds skills and confidence. (And character, mustn't forget character.) It makes for a self-sufficient child who when he grows up doesn't have to subsist on ramen noodles, corn dogs, or pre-shaped beef patties. And he is able to give his loving wife a break on the cooking once in a while.

I have to go, I hear him scooping that tantalizing meat on the rolls.

Edit: All right, you HAVE got to go try those sandwiches!! Good stuff!!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Time Keeps on Slipping...

I can hardly believe that the year is a quarter of the way over. Spring is almost over and summer will soon be upon us. Time for heat and humidity and much longer days. And I always look forward to those brief afternoon thunderstorms. I realize that only contributes more to the humidity but somehow I like watching those brief angry bursts of clouds.

May shouldn't be too busy for us, we have two events planned. I say that now and things always end up much more busy then I expect them to be. Why is that? My sister and I are organizing a family get together for my parents 30th anniversary. It's not going to be a huge blow out, just family time since everyone gets more and more busy as we get older. It's pretty sad but I have some family who live in town (more or less) that I haven't seen since Christmas.

Then for an extra long Memorial weekend we are flying to Arizona to visit my brother Jeff and his family. I'm looking forward to getting away for a little while and getting to spend time with all of them. They came home for Christmas but we didn't get to spend a lot of time with them. Now we get to go see them on their turf. The only times I have been to Arizona was just passing through on connecting flights to California. We will go to the grand canyon, even they haven't been yet. And it just so happens that our home baseball team will be playing there while we are visiting so everyone but Brandon is looking forward to that. Also they just moved into a house with an outdoor kitchen and a pool. Can anyone say Party!!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Love vs. Sentimentality

Sentimentality is sugar-coating the truth to spare a person's feelings. It is about feeling good right this minute. It is about delaying facing reality.

Love is being able to tell someone the truth even though you know you will hurt them. It isn't always easy but in the end it is always worth it.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves." -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Topsy-Turvy

I have been thrown for a loop. My work world has been turned upside-down and inside-out. I have wanted to throw tantrums, tear my hair out, chuck my computer out the window, and get up and walk out among other things. My partner in crime abandoned me to the wolves. She was tired of the abuse by our super-star, micromanaging boss (who is in one of our other offices in a totally different state; great for communications and all) and accepted a much better offer from what sounds like a much better company. I wish her all the good wishes in the world and have nothing against her except one thing: she didn't take me with her. (Though she did some fishing to see if there could be a position for me there, mighty nice of her, I should say.) Now it remains to see the fallout from the little bomb she dropped right before she left. There has been a lot of scrambling to cover some high-up butts which has been THE only entertaining thing about it. It's hard to believe this only happened about a week ago. Already I have been uprooted and moved to a different location, assured by the president that I'm not going anywhere, and given vague details by one of the VP's about a new project he wants me take on. I have been a little stressed out to say the least. I'm beginning to wonder if I want to stay with the company at all after all of the mess. All I can think of wanting to do is find some remote island and curl up and go to sleep for at least 3 weeks and then maybe come back to the real world. Sometimes being a grown up is just no fun, why can't we just throw a temper tantrum? I want to know.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why Is...

..the thought of cleaning out the closet so horrid you would do all the laundry, clean every single surface, paint the entire house inside and out, balance all your accounts and do your taxes rather than face the daunting task? But, once you have completed the task of reorganizing and purging you feel like even your soul is a bit cleaner.

...it you check on your toast in the toaster oven and find it is hardly tan only to come back a mere minute later to find it a lovely shade of charcoal?

Life's burning questions! I hope you have enjoyed today's journey in randomness, you can go back to your regularly scheduled day now.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Family

Without further ado, all of us in our camping; make-up-less glory!!



Back row: "Little" brothers Matt & Bryan
Middle row: Jess-(Matt's GF) Kay-(little sis, Bryan's twin) Collin-(nephew, Bryan & Lindi's) Lindi-(SIL, Bryan's wife) Mother, Dad
Front: Brandon and Me
(I need to find this picture, again lost in the "move")

The only family missing are my older brother Jeff & Jessica, and their 3 kids, Noe, Joseph, and Matthew who live in Arizona and weren't up to the drive. I can't say that I blame them there.

I have a big family and it gets to be more and more fun each year with the new additions. I am the 2nd oldest of 5 kids who are fairly close in age. Jeff is 13 months older than me, Matt is 21 months younger than me, and the twins, Bryan and Katherine are 18 months younger than Matt.

Growing up was interesting to say the least. Jeff was kind of a bully, I was always moody, Matt was into everything, Kay was whiny, and Bryan was sick a lot (thus grouchy). It is a wonder that my parents never had a breakdown. But for all our faults we all turned out pretty well. We get along great and annoy each other a great deal less than we did growing up.

I enjoy seeing the dynamics of how larger families interact and evolve through the years. It was definitely a different experience growing up then many of my friends experienced. As crowded and loud as it could be, always having to share, having to sacrifice certain things, I wouldn't change for the world. I am close to my brothers and sister and I truly love them all and count them as friends.

Friday, March 23, 2007

One of Those Weeks

I am glad that Friday is upon us. I have had quite a week. It is always fun to come back from a long weekend of vacation and get back into the swing of things.

First of all, spring is upon us. Warmer weather, beautiful flowers, longer days, and oh yes that lovely buttery yellow substance that has decided to take up residence in my lungs. We decided to go for a nice jog in the park on Tuesday evening only for me to wake up Wednesday morning with a very irritated throat and dry cough. Nothing makes me more grumpy then a sore throat. So that has decided to linger with no other symptoms to indicate cold or flu or even traditional allergy symptoms. No itchy eyes, no runny nose, nope just cough and sore throat.

Thursday presented a battle royal at work. I got caught in the middle of some office politics. After a long day of email wars and being accused of doing something wrong it was discovered that I was perfectly inbounds and those accusing had actually made the mistake. (I assure you I was as diplomatic as can be ;) ) Brandon had a right little ray of sunshine to meet him when he came home.

I have been managing my accounts in a spreadsheet that I personalized for quite some time now. Recently with the purchase of the PC I decided to try Quicken because it could integrate my account balancing along with budgeting and such. After trying to learn this program I have just about had it. I don't want the software selling me stuff, I don't want the complicating investing junk. I just want it to be customized to my simple little world and apparently that is asking way too much. I'm not a dunce when it comes to the computer but I'm certainly no expert. I usually can pick up and figure out most programs fairly easily but this one is a no go for me. And I feel particularly stupid after reading all kinds of reviews saying that this program is THE top program and so simple to use. Thanks a bunch

Ranting is fun, it feels so good to do so sometimes. Now I can go back to my regularly scheduled weekend of relaxing, feeling better and forgetting about all the trash from this past week.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Texas Hill Country

A View From the Top
Matt, Me, Jess, Kay, Brandon
(I need to locate this picture)

We are back from our camping trip in the hill country. We started out at Garner State Park. I have been there as a wee one but couldn't remember much about it except that it had "mountains." The above picture is from our half day hiking adventure. The weather was actually quite cool and the sun only came out a little. But we had a good time hiking, exploring, and making camping stables like silver turtles and s'mores.

Growing up with brothers, (and a really impatient father) I didn't really get much of a chance to help set up the tent. Matt assures me that it wasn't any fun to set up the huge bulky tent and that I was lucky to get a reprieve. I was happy to set up the tent that Brandon and I received for Christmas a couple of years ago. We have a simple to set up dome tent that sleeps 4 adults comfortably and allows a 5'10" person to stand up fully. I figured I should get used to setting it up as we would have to take it down to move to another park in a few days.

The absolute best part of Garner is seeing the night sky. We live in a major city so we have horrible light pollution. In Garner you can see more clearly and if you look close enough you can see bits of the milky way. There were even shooting stars though I couldn't seem to be looking up when any of them passed.

And none of our travels would be complete without Chu II. My mother gave her to me a year and half ago when we traveled to my brother's wedding. I was really sick and had lost my voice and was feeling pretty rotten so she bought me a stuffed cat to cheer me up. Since then we have taken her with us wherever we happen to go and include some pictures of her. We are making a little scrapbook of her travels.

After a couple of days in Garner we packed everything up and drove 3 hours to Inks Lake State Park where my brother Bryan and his family were meeting us. It was much too cold (IMHO) to go swimming there so we occupied our time with canoing and rock climbing at the devil's waterhole. We don't have any pictures of Inks Lake because our camera decided to suck the batteries dry and we didn't bring our recharger. I will have to get some pictures from Jess and my mother.

All in all it was a nice, relaxing trip though I thought we spent way too much time in the car. By the time we finally got home late Sunday evening my body had had enough and I was ready to collapse in my nice, cushy, warm pillow-top bed. The Chu made sure to let us know that she was so happy to see us. She made sure to let us know all through the night by pulling things off the desk and "going shopping" in the shelves.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Weekend Fun

For someone who always tells everyone that "nothing much has changed" and "we're boring," We sure had a busy weekend.

First we started by hosting dinner for a couple of friends of ours on Friday. Brandon told Brian that I would make my world famous stroganoff for him since Brandon is always heating up his "yummy" leftovers at Brian's store.

Then Saturday we tried to get up early so I could make my triple chocolate brownies for the season's first afternoon BBQ and swim at my aunt and uncle's house in Brenham. My brownies were actually a flop because I tried to do well for all the dieters by using splenda instead of sugar. I have used splenda a number of times in baking with great results. This time when I pulled the brownies out of the oven, all the butter rose to the top and was bubbling there. I felt pretty bad because they are so good and it was a waste of good chocolate. I suspect maybe my baker's chocolate may have been bad.

After that we drove back home and dropped my grandma off before going over to Brian and Rainy's new house for a BBQ with some college friends we haven't seen in years. It was lots of fun as we told stories of a legendary friend from college who didn't make it over. I always seem to miss him, he's hilarious and fun to be around.

Sunday was church as usual but with the time change we got really confused. We didn't expect our cell phones to change automatically and we use those for alarm clocks. Well they did change at 2am and Brandon had set mine an hour early just in case, needless to say it was pretty early and I kept hitting the snooze. After church I spent the afternoon shopping with Jess and a friend of hers. We walked all over the mall and had fun goofing off like a bunch of teenagers.

While I was shopping Brandon decided to spend his $250+ Walmart gift cards that he has accumulated over the last few years. He is now boycotting Walmart over some confusion with them saying they would hold something for him. So we are now the proud owners of a PS2 and Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero II. He is currently out there still playing. So addictive.

This week will be a short work week for me. This coming weekend we are going camping with family in various parks in the Texas Hill Country. I am hoping for some beautiful weather, good exercise and the opportunity to take some good pictures.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

2nd Place

Our church's annual Chili/Gumbo Cook-off was held this past weekend with great success. We raised over $10,000 which will go to help the local mission team this spring to Comunidad de Gracia and the 2 Mobility Project mission teams this summer to Mexico.

I am proud to say that our team took 2nd place for chili!! It was some of the best chili I have tasted and I can be unbiased because I didn't cook it. Unfortunately I didn't get to taste the winning chili, that team was all they way on the end of the last row and by the time I rounded that last corner I was pretty full of chili and side dishes.

I did our teams side dish of mexican cornbread which didn't turn out as well as it could have. That is usually the way it is for me, I make something then taste it and immediately devise new ways to make it better. For the record I think it needed more jalepenos then the recipe called for and it definitely needed some corn.

In all there was an interesting assortment of things to eat. I got to try "armadillo eggs" which were hard to describe but very good and bunuelos and ice cream which hit the spot after all of that hot chili. All in all it was a great night of fun and fellowship. It was a perfect opportunity to raise money for truly worthy causes.

Friday, March 2, 2007

My Very First Computer

I finally, finally got my first computer. I made it through college without one; I simply trekked across campus to use the labs. So now, nearly 5 years after graduating I got my first computer. Brandon has an old mac lappy that while using it I always get an urge to drop it from great heights. I got so frustrated with it that I simply boycotted the computer at home, hence the lack of posts for a very long time. I don't hate mac's, but his is so ancient and sooooo s l o w. When it was announced that he was getting a nice bonus this year, he told me I could pick out our next computer and it is so nice. I can actually type sentences and not have to wait for the letters to appear while the computer strains to keep up with me. We have spent the last week or so getting everything set up and installed and now I am on the computer as much as he is. I don't think he likes that too much. :)

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Our Wild Ride

Ten years ago I was a senior in high school. I had sworn off dating until college because the high school guys I dated were "like" so immature. I figured I didn't have much time left and college guys would be so much more mature. (I'm rolling my eyes right now, how stupid was I?) I was having the time of my life though, senior year was so much fun. And the anticipation of what was to come was exciting.

I had met Brandon our junior year when our class was punished for talking. As a punishment our teacher sat us in alphabetical order. I sat directly in front of Brandon who at his first opportunity decided to tease me. (They never change, do they?) We became fast friends as we were "kindred spirits." He would steal borrow books from my locker and leave funny notes in the pages.

We didn't really become friends outside of school until that summer when he wrote me letters while I was away and talked on the phone. I soon became interested in him but the timing wasn't right as he was chasing some other girl. And of course he always wanted girl advice from me. So I was patient.

Fast forward to senior year, around new year's he called to get more girl advice. The girl he had been seeing dumped him and he wondered what he should do. As I did a silent happy dance I gave him good (unbiased) advice telling him to move on. ;) I then waited a good bit as I wrestled with the idea of dating him. I didn't want to lose his friendship because it was a special bond, but at the same time I just kept thinking, "What if?" I finally decided that it was senior year and he well worth the risk. So I spent the time around his birthday and Valentine's day trying to devise clever ways to let him know. It took writing him a blunt note so all my creative ventures were all for naught.

So, ten years ago today I was standing in line at the movies with a big group of friends waiting to get in to see The Empire Strikes Back. We decided to go with a bunch of friends on our first date to make things a bit more comfortable. We had a great time together, holding hands, being silly teenagers. I remember the ride home was interesting because we had to drop a friend off first. When he got me home we did the uncomfortable, awkward first date thing. I knew he was a keeper that first date despite the awkwardness. And he must have thought the same thing because he decided to stick around.

We have had a wild ride in these past ten years. We finished high school together. We spent the first year of college apart, I joined him a year later. I finished college first and moved away. He proposed just before he graduated a year later. The economy was not so good and job hunting was a real challenge but we decided to not put off getting married.

Our first year of marriage was the biggest challenge I have ever faced but we made it through even stronger than before. We have been tested in the "sickness" vow of our marriage. We have laughed and we have cried. And through it all we have had a blast.These ten years have been such a blessing. To be able to grow and change together has been so much fun. I am truly grateful and blessed to have a wonderful husband like Brandon in my life. It is so much fun to be married to my best friend. He takes care of me the countless times I don't feel well and when I am feeling down. He puts up with my sometimes incessant chatter. He truly loves me for who I am. Even though I'm not perfect, he treats me as if I were. Thank you for these 10 years Brandon, I love you and I look forward to 10 times 10 more.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Golden Weekend

I was astounded to find a great, shining, yellow orb in the sky this weekend. It has been long since I was able to enjoy the warmth of the sun as my ghostly moon-tan can prove. I believe spring may just be here. Spending an afternoon of backyard lunch, gardening, and soaking up some rays was just the thing needed this weekend. I like all the seasons for their own merits and feel pretty content when they start to change.

This weekend was a nice lazy weekend, the kind where you don't really have anywhere to be or anything set to do. We ended up running a lot of errands on Saturday and getting through some ongoing projects at home. Sunday we always start by attending church. We were able to sleep in as I won't have to sing in the 8:15am service until Palm Sunday. When I sing we have to be there at 7:30am which means leaving home at 7:00am at the latest. Afterwords we were able to visit with my parents and brother for a little while. After that we went to visit Brandon's mother and also his grandmother who came down from Minnesota this week to stay for a month or so.
Our lazy weekend ended up being not so lazy after all as is usually the case.

Next weekend we are on a chili team for our church's annual chili cookoff to support the mission trips in the church. Our team leader says he usually wins every other year and this year he is due. It should be fun helping out more this year, I am making a side and hopefully it will be submitted for the side dish prize. I have to find the perfect recipe for some yummy jalepeno cheese cornbread which I plan to make from "scraps" as my uncle likes to say. No cutting corners for me, I'm a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Birthday Boy

Cutie Collin
"Oh, did you guys want some cake too?"
(I will have to locate these pictures, they got lost in my "move")

We ventured to the attic of Texas to help celebrate my dear nephew's 1st birthday this past weekend. He is actually a Valentine's baby. It was so good getting to see them all again. Now that they live 6 hours away we don't get to see them much. Bryan pulled out all the stops and made some awesome fajitas for all of the adults to enjoy. As you can see Collin much preferred HIS cake. He took to it like a champ, smashing both fists down in it as soon as Mommy set it down in front of him. The cameras flashed as he smeared himself with the cake. He was really enjoying himself. When Lindi took the cake away he gave her a glare and a grunt as if to say, "Hey, I wasn't finished with that." He has really turned into Mr. Personality since we last saw him around Christmas time. He isn't walking yet but he can stand by himself if he doesn't realize he's doing it. He doesn't speak any intelligible words yet. He babbles with great intent to himself and anyone who will listen. He likes to wrinkle up his little nose just like I remember his daddy doing when he was a wee one. And he sure has a temper; (also like his daddy) we were treated to a throw-back temper but it didn't last very long. The weekend was entirely too short and we didn't get to spend nearly enough time visiting. Hopefully we will get to see them all in two weeks when we are supposed to be doing a huge family camp out in the hill country.