Iraq Journey

Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

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Currently, summertime equates more than your fair share of pictures

June 30, 2009

It’s official. The lazy days of summer have arrived.

I’m sitting on my living room floor during nap time in my favorite comfy sundress, typing on ye ol’ laptop, sipping ice water and watching mindless television while our beloved beach breeze cools the house. This morning involved a free summer movie at the theater near the pier and much popcorn munching. Yesterday was filled with such difficulties as conquering a morning kickboxing class followed by several hours in the kiddie pool and playing with turtle-shaped sprinklers.

I know. What a life.

Of course, keep in mind this is a blog. I’m telling you only what I want you to know and refraining from telling the things I don’t. So yes, life with my three guys here is wonderful, but I’m choosing to pretend summer is still as lazy as it was when I was 15 and spent all day on my twin bed devouring my latest book, and leaving out the reality of the laundry tumbling in the dryer right now, the sound of the dishwasher, the floors that need mopped and the dinner that still needs to be made tonight–you know, all the things the mom does when you’re a book-obsessed summertime teen. Things change when suddenly you realize that, HELLO, I am the mom. (Oh, and also, that ongoing Situation is, well, ongoing.)

So anyway. Our days are just kinda full o’ the fun right now. Lots of books are being read, swimming being done, and beaches being visited. And you will all be simply thrilled to know that for the first time in five years, my pasty white legs actually have some COLOR to them. And without help from Coppertone or Neutrogena. I KNOW. Somewhere out there, pigs are flyin’ and they’re flyin’ HIGH.

(John DID take a picture of the baby hand print, since you all begged. But I’m still working up the guts to actually post it.)

Speaking of visiting beaches, since I’m just sitting here crunching ice cubes while my children pretend to nap, I’ve been looking through the pictures from the anniversary getaway John and I took this past weekend. And because you’re my helpless victims, you’re now going to be subjected to every single one of them. Or not. But still, a lot of ‘em. Because I have TIME, people.

It’s summertime, after all.

Thanks to some dear friends and my mom, we were able to go away overnight for our anniversary–the first time we’ve been away, just us, since we’ve had children.

It was dreamy. Truly dreamy.

We stayed on Coronado Island–although not in the famous Hotel Del Coronado (above). We stayed right across the street from it, in a beautiful old Spanish style hotel with a view overlooking the adorable little main street and the ocean. We did tour the Del the evening we got there and it was as beautiful as ever. I kinda have a thing for this hotel, for a myriad of reasons.

We also ate ice cream. A big ol’ thang of ice cream:

I told him to “look crazy.” (For the blog, of course. He didn’t need to be told.)

He acquiesced. Clearly.

Yes, it’s true. We kinda like each other.

You’d THINK, that when we have the chance to actually, you know, SLEEP IN on a Saturday morning, we’d take it. Except for the fact that we’re parents. Who have early risers for children. And our internal clocks don’t realize when they aren’t with us. So, despite having every intention of sleeping in on Saturday morning… we couldn’t. We were up with the sun.

Beachcombing. Wading through tide pools.

And kissing. Cuz we do kinda like each other.

The beach was just breathtaking. We spent over two hours walking in the surf, talking, shell seeking, laughing and being kinda crazy.

After breakfast at a cozy little diner, we rode cruisers all over the island. I tried to get John to race up the non-hills, but he wouldn’t take the bait. What with my tad bit of running and little gym classes and those 130 miles a week he logs on his bike, he knew I’d totally CREAM him. The poor guy.

And THEN came the real fun. We rented a jet ski.

We did some serious white water kayaking on our honeymoon five years ago, so we thought speeding over the ocean on a water-propelled THANG and the flying off the crazy apparatus into the ocean qualified as the “this-time-we’re-parents-and-must-have-fun-while-thinking-more-highly-of-staying-alive” version of thrill seeking.

It WAS insanely fun. Especially for two people who haven’t been on one of these things in ages. And ESPECIALLY when we turned too hard at a high speed and flew into the water. I don’t remember when we’ve cracked up that hard, and we can do us some serious laughing now and again.

See that look on his face? That’s his “I really, really love this girl” look. And I’m always thrilled when it’s captured on camera… we caught it several times that day.

We sat on the beach until the sun set, before heading home to the little boys we were missing so much even after only one night.

You know what? We kinda like each other.

Married in June

June 26, 2009

Five years ago today I was standing in a church, facing the man I loved with all my heart, vowing, covenanting to love him, honor him, obey him, and be faithful to him until death. We stood hand in hand on the platform, with so many dear ones watching, knowing this was the start of forever for the two of us.

But this wasn’t exactly how it was planned. Oh no, we weren’t supposed to be in that church at that particular moment. If you had asked us the day before, or even that morning, we’d have told you we’d be joining our lives before God that day in a breathtaking outdoor setting, with a back drop of snow-capped mountains, shining lake waters, surrounded by majestic pine trees. But God, in His wisdom, had other plans.

It started the evening before the wedding, with the rehearsal dinner… (Read the rest of this post at YLCF)

Just call me the lobster–I’ll be fine with it

June 25, 2009

You know that part of Peter Pan where the Indians sing, “What makes the red man red?” (“Alli-alli-bomba! Alli-alli-bomba!”)

(Clearly, I have toddler boys. I’m not ashamed of my Disney lyrical knowledge.)

I believe I’ve found the answer.

Three hours (only three measly hours, people!) of un-sunscreened sand castle building will make for a red man. Or woman.

Woe is the mother who takes her children to the beach as usual, but this time, forgets her sunscreen, and is much too desirous of a wee bit of sun-kissing to wear the 60 SPF she puts on her children. No, she thinks to herself, it’s cloudy enough and we won’t be staying long today.

Again, woe upon her. The sun shows no mercy and is not content to gently kiss her oh-so-fair-shoulders and the tip of her little nose, but instead it will EAT HER ALIVE… and get a good laugh out of the whole thing when her toddler puts his 60 SPF-ed hands on her back, and then his arms around her shoulders, and she is thus proclaimed as “MOMMY!” to everyone who sees (and thinks they have to comment on) the burn. Because nothing shouts mommyhood quite like five tiny white finger prints on otherwise tomato red skin.

What baffles me is why the entire top half of my body could be needing salve and bandaging and yet the bottom half (the part that’s uncovered, at least) is still as pale as the puffy white clouds that fooled me into thinking I’d be okay without sunscreen. How exactly does THAT work, I ask you? I haven’t had tan legs since the summer I got married, and even that was just a tinge of color and might have had some help from Neutrogena. I’m thinking perhaps my legs were made with built-in SPF. Perhaps they should share with my shoulders.

And also? The part that makes me really upset is when I realized, whilst standing in the checkout line with aloe vera last evening, that we’re going to be in a prime nearby vacationing spot this weekend and nothing shouts “TOURIST!” like a really bad sunburn and white legs in a sundress. I’m thinking a sign around my neck that says “I LIVE here!!” might do the trick. It might also distract from All The Redness, dontcha think?

But, ANYway. We’ve been so busy with all the sand castle building and pool going and such that I’ve just about plumb forgot this here ol’ blog. Okay, not really. Not at all, actually. I glance at my lonely laptop about five times a day and cast a small wave at her and all the active online people she houses.

Really, though, how many times do you want me to tell you about the three year old who dives and rolls in the smallish waves, then runs from the big ones, screaming “Jasmine! Jasmine!” despite the fact that we neither know anyone named Jasmine, nor has he ever seen any movies with characters of that name. (Again, I have toddler BOYS. Not girls.)

Perhaps the waves are all named Jasmine? I dunno, but I’m telling you, the whole beach is probably wondering along with me. The child has some lungs on him, and they get even more effective when he’s overcome with excitement.

I’m sure the rest of the beach go-ers are also probably wondering if I need a lesson on the dangers of skin cancer. Or at least some gift certificates to the tanning salon for the benefit of the white legs. Just know that if you’re at the beach in San Diego and see a girl with a small white hand print on her left shoulder surrounded by skin that matches her red tankini top? You might want to ask if she forgot her sunscreen.

Please tell me I’m not the only person with an early summer burn. Or who has white kid prints. Or maybe you should just tell me the name of your favorite self-tanner.

All Hail the Power of the Carpet Shampoo Machine Thang

June 16, 2009

Y’all are FUNNY. Hilarious, in fact. I loved, loved, loved and adored reading your answers to the lovey dovey quiz and am quite relieved to find out that I’m not the only one on this green earth who can’t resist answering a question relating to love and such. Or any question, for that matter.

(By the way, have you ever heard me ramble? Oh, no, you haven’t? Word to the wise: never ask me a question. Unless, of course, you have three years to sit and listen to the answer. And never ask me to tell a story. That would increase the time to about ten years. But I AM trying to practice restraint, even if you can’t tell. You know, this one time I was talking to my mom and she asked about something and I started to tell it and about four hours later… oh, wait, restraint. That’s right.)

But all that to say this: tonight my knees are red and rather sore.

But not because of my carpet or because I spent so many hours telling God the story about my need for restraint. It’s all the fault of that ridiculously stupid stuff called GROUT. Why people lay tile–which always involves this thing called grout–on floors is beyond me. Especially floors of houses wherein live small children.

See, here’s the deal. Every other month some of the ladies in our church have a little get-together. We hop around from house to house and the whole deal always involves a few small morsels (which we all tell each other we shouldn’t be eating because, oh, the hips! the thighs! the waistline!), some sort of fun activity and, of course, just a whole lotta talking and laughing and such, which is all ladies’ activities usually are anyway.

I’ve been saying for two years that I wanted to have one of these at my house, and was, in fact, supposed to host the January get-together until unforeseen circumstances (ahem) got in the way. But now the time has come, and if you’re a keeper of any home, you know that sometimes having a special activity is just the kick you need to finally tackle that mental to-do list which grows faster than even our children.

Wipe handprints off the walls.
Take a magic eraser to the scuff marks on the doors.
Wipe the walls of the stairway from the floor to about two feet high. (Certain tiny people can’t reach the railing and use the wall instead. Those certain people don’t always have clean hands.)
Take a magic eraser to those crayon marks in the corner. (Where was I when that happened? IS that even crayon??)
Clean out the pile of magazines two years high sitting beside the couch.
Do something about them two-story-high cobwebs. (Cathedral ceilings are pretty, but impractical.)
Do something MAJOR and INTENSE about the carpet. (Who puts white carpet in a rental house?)
Wage war on the grout.

So. I spent Saturday morning tackling most of that to-do list, knowing that by Friday I’d still have some light cleaning to do, but at least the BIG stuff would be dealt with already. You know, like the crayon marks.

But today… TODAY was The Day of the Carpet and Tile and Grout–the horrible invention. I started off the whole schebang by going to the gym. I figured it wise to work out my frustrations in advance. I don’t know if it helped. Necessarily. Then I came home, told the boys they’d be spending much quality time with Winnie the Pooh and Veggie Tales today, and proceeded to pull out The Beast, otherwise known as the Bissell ProHeat Deep Carpet Cleaner.

Let me just state now, for the masses ten of you who care that I have witnessed a modern day miracle.

There were spots on that white carpet that I’d worked on for the past two years we’ve lived here, and I was certain would be the cause of me single-handedly losing the safety deposit we put down on this rental. Can anyone say, hello, Mr. New Carpet Installer Man! And, goodbye, safety deposit!

But that Beast did it. It took them out like magic. MAGIC, I tell you. IT is the one who single-handedly saved that deposit.

Oh wait–it took out all the stains except for the turmeric stains that appeared last week, courtesy of a very small hand doing some very sneaky work. Turmeric, in case you aren’t familiar with the spice, is a relative of curry and, when in contact with fibers of any sort, basically becomes a dye. Which is all, of course, another story for another day. (And a story it is, too, because it combines with a couple other things that were all a little crazy, but as my friend told me the day one of the things happened, it’s called HAVING BOYS.)

But, unlike God, who actually DOES do miracles, my Beast’s hand is a bit slack when it comes to tile and grout. Apparently there’s some sort of attachment needed for that job, and I didn’t done got the thang.

This was where the battle truly began. On my knees. On the tile. With a bucket of Oxy solution and a scrub brush.

Let me tell you, people, the flooring in my house–both carpet and tile–hasn’t looked this good since the day before we moved in. It was a team effort, that Beast and me. We did it together, we did.

You want to know what my biggest payoff is here? What another friend told me when I mentioned this undertaking.

“You know nobody would have noticed if you hadn’t done any of it, right?”

Yes. Yes, I do, thankyouverymuch.

But I notice. It’s worth it to me to know my floors are sparkling and stain-free (almost–not counting the turmeric). I know how hard I worked for that level of CLEAN. I know.

On Friday, I’ll have my red, aching knees to happily remind me from beneath a skirt just long enough to cover them.

And now, I’m falling–yes FALLING–into bed. John rode his bike over 53 whole entire miles this morning, and I’ve tried all day to convince myself that one hour at the gym plus a day of hard labor house cleaning was about equal effort. So far that logic isn’t working. To make up for it, I told John to get me up at 5am when he’s up so I can be running by 5:30, but I have to say that right this very moment, my knees are complaining they don’t like the idea.

Build a bridge and get over it, sore knees, or else I’ll find someone else’s grout for you to scrub.

I’m going to hit "publish" and not look back because, my word, THIS IS LONG

June 10, 2009

Most of you know I’m not real big on the memes around here. Not because I don’t like reading them–I’d actually be happy to read memes filled out by my friends for hours–I just don’t usually DO them.

(Which would, of course, explain why, if you’ve tagged me for one, I probably haven’t done it. It’s not because I don’t like you. Honest.)

Occasionally, in this great and vast interweb world, there is found a meme so wide spread, of such great proportions, so exceptionally grandiose, that it would almost be blogger sin not to complete it.

No, I’m not talking about the “25 Random Things About Me.”

The only other time I’ve done a meme in the history of this bloggity spot, it involved random things and while we all know I could certainly pull 25 MORE out of my fuzzy head, I’ll spare your sensitive hearts.

And besides? You want your fill of Random Things? Just log in to Facebook and you’ll read approximately 76,500 random things and ABC’s about everyone and their cousin, brother, uncle and long-lost childhood best friend. That’ll keep ya busy for a while and fill your need for The Random.

(Of course, if you actually log in to Facebook more often than once a week, you probably aren’t quite as overwhelmed with the number of Random Things out there as those of us who are members of the group “I’m a Facebook Slacker and Proud of It!”)

So ANYway. Now that I’ve talked about nothing, lost your interest and been completely RANDOM, I’ll get on to the meme I was planning on doing here.

(Clearly, I’m all about following the rules of writing and blogging today. Rambling, random-ness and memes. Notice a theme emerging?)

So all that to say I’m sure you’ve seen the Love/Spouse/Significant Other meme going around the past couple months. I mean, who hasn’t?

Oh. I’m the only one who’s seen it 50 billion times? Oh well. Humor me.

The truth is, I just feel like talking about my guy. Because I love and adore and fall head over heels for him every single day.

(And he went on a 44-mile bike ride this morning–BEFORE WORK–and he lived to tell about it and I’m so stinkin proud of him.)

So. THE MEME/QUIZZY thing. That’s right. That IS the goal here.

(Warning: the one or two word answers you’re used to on these things? Don’t expect them. Come on, people, this is me, the Queen of The Ramble you’re talking to. Keeping with The Theme and all that.)

What are your middle names? David and Marie. His parents just liked biblical names. (I think. I’m totally making that up, but hey, his dad’s a pastor and all their kids have biblical names, so, you know. It fits.) Mine first belonged to my grandmother and great-grandmother. For years when I was little, I actually planned to name my daughter completely after my beautiful great-grandmother, whose name was… wait for it… Mabel Marie. My Gram, great aunt and my mom eventually talked me out of it. I know–what’s wrong with these people?

How long have you been together? Together for over six years and married for four years, eleven months and 16 days.

How long did you know each other before you started dating? Weeeeell, if you want to be technical, we first met when I was 14 and he was 21. But, ya KNOW, there wasn’t much attraction there because, well, HELLO? The age difference. Being that I was indeed 14, wearing jean jumpers and oversized tennis shoes with my glasses and straight hair to my hips (all my own sense of what I called “style”–not my mom’s–she just paid for the clothes) John didn’t exactly remember me much that first meeting. So when we “re-met” several years later, it was only about a (gulp) month or so before we were officially “together.”

Who asked whom out? He said, “Um, what would you think if I talked to your dad about beginning a serious relationship with you that could lead to marriage?” You figure it out.

How old are each of you? Okay. You’re not allowed to laugh. Well, maybe you are. Anyway. I’m 23. And John is old. I won’t say just how old, but just know that as of a couple days ago, he left his twenties. I know. Discreet.

Do you have any children together? Troy, three and Merritt, one. And two little ones waiting for us in heaven.

What about pets? Fat Cat, otherwise known as Gracie. Our Australian Shepherd went to live with her Border Collie cousin when John was deployed and I lost my sanity, what with the two babies and wild dog. I needed help.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple? The one we’re in the middle of right now. But you know what they say–what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and we’re definitely–DEFINITELY–stronger and closer than ever because of it.

Did you go to the same school? Heh. Being that I was starting kindergarten when John was in junior high… nope.

Are you from the same hometown? Me=California desert. Him=the tip top of the Rocky Mountains. Opposites attract and all that. I also like to say I married him for his hometown. It’s my personal happiest place on earth.

Who is the smartest? I’m not saying I’m stupid or anything (hey, my grandpa–an engineer for Boeing–used to send me money as congrats for my standardized test scores. And I did graduated with a 4.0. Not that I’m bragging. Of course.) but, BUT, John is the brains around here. Like, as in, SERIOUS brains.

Who is more sensitive? Ha. Haha. HAHAHA. Me.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? Alaska. Honeymoon. Heaven. On. Earth.

Who has the craziest exes? Can I plead the fifth? There are people we know in real life who read this blog. And they are all laughing right now. Cough. Cough. Choke.

Who has the worst temper? Being that John doesn’t have one–AT ALL–and, you know, opposites attract… ahem. Let’s just say that when we let God work, He does great things. (Although it is all relative–there aren’t many true temper tantrums around here. Well, if you’re only counting the grown-ups.)

Who does the cooking? Typically me. But John loves to cook and, if he’s around, is right over my shoulder trying to help, smelling the food and taste testing. And taking over if given the opportunity.

Who is more social? Social Butterfly meets Mr. Epitome of Quiet.

Who is the neat-freak? We’re both pretty neat, but, wait, do you see that stray shoe over there? Twitch, twitch. And, um, someone left out a cup. And, oh my word, DID YOU SERIOUSLY JUST EMPTY YOUR POCKETS ON THE TOP OF THE PIANO?? Complete convulsions begin.

Who is more stubborn? I just love these questions. It’s always pleasant to think about how good both of us are at holding our ground. The truth is, there is one of us who usually, you know, LISTENS TO THE LORD and SOFTENS HIS HEART first. And it’s not me.

Who hogs the bed? Hey, it’s not my fault. He was in Iraq and I got used to sleeping diagonally.

Who wakes up earlier? 5:00am. Every day. He’s downstairs with his Bible and his tea. I know. The crazy guy prefers his focused time with Jesus to sleep. What’s up with THAT? (i.e., the sound of that alarm=conviction to me.)

Where was your first date? A hike in nearby desert hills. In the guestbook at the top of the trail, we wrote, “John and Ash–Day One.” Everyone together now. Awww.

How do you spend the holidays? With the fam. And lots and lots and LOTS of tradition.

Who is more jealous? One word: ME.

How long did it take to get serious? If you count the first time we met, it was two and a half years. If you’re going from when we “re-met” it was (cough and choke) about a month.

Who eats more? John. Unless it’s ice cream we’re talking about.

Who does/did the laundry? I do, typically, unless John remembers at the last minute that he needs work clothes washed and we’re about to head to bed and he (sweetly, kindly) sticks his own load in the washer.

Who’s better with the computer? Being that he gets at least one or two phone calls a week from friends or family needing “technical support” and he, you know, keeps the Marine Corps’ computers and networks running FOR A LIVING, I’d say he is.

Who drives when you are together? He’s a man. It’s his job. Except when we’re on an eighteen hour trip. I take a shift here and there, though he usually can’t sleep when I’m driving because he’s afraid I might be driving along and watching the road, and the cars, and the people in the cars, and the scenery and… oh, pretty flowers…

Who is the romantic one? It depends on whatcha mean by romance. I’m the mushy one, but he’s pretty fantastic when it comes to melting my Jane Austen-raised heart.

Did you make it to the end? I heartily applaud you. Now, purty please and if you feel like it, pick the two questions that correspond with your birthday (i.e.–mine is 4/1, so I’d do question 4 and question 1) and answer them in the comments. And if you aren’t married or don’t feel like obeying my orders, go ahead and tell me to cut out the narcissism and STOP WITH THE TYPING ALREADY.