Verses to Remember

From birth I have relied on you; You brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you.

Psalm 71:6



Sunday, June 20, 2010

TGI Friday!!

Yep, it's that time again!

TGIfriday, a nice time to reflect on what's going on in our life, share what I'm currently interested in, and remind us of all the things we have to be grateful for! Feel free to add your own comments below of the things you are trusting for, grateful for, inspired about, or more!

Trusting that God has a plan for us regarding getting pregnant and starting a family. At times it is hard to stay optimistic since we don't know really what is going on with me and my hormones, but I started Clomid this month and have high hopes that it will help. Hopefully in the next couple days I will find out if it worked this month (causing ovulation) and we will go on from there, which will include increasing my dose for next month if I did not ovulate. It's hard to trust God and not worry about all the details, but I'm working on it! I know He has a perfect plan, and it will happen in the right time.


Grateful
that I can go camping this summer WITHOUT crutches, a walker and a big stinking brace on my leg! We already had a great time on our first of 3 camping trips this summer, out to O'dell Lake for some boating and fishing. Lots of sunshine and 6 salmon later, I cannot wait for our next trip! Luckily I don't have to wait long, since this Friday we're leaving for 4 nights in Bend with our Christian dirtbike group, RUTS, for their annual campout. And for those of you who remember, yes, this is the trip I broke my leg on last year... and no I won't be riding on any trails this time around! It's still a great time with a lot of great people!


Inspired to work on other rooms of our house, since we recently got our guest room all set up. I want to redo/finish/organize my craft room next. Currently the room is a pretty good size but has DARK wood paneled walls, a very low (6 ft) DARK wood paneled ceiling, two tiny windows and very little lighting, so it needs some help! It has good potential though, with lots of opportunity for storage and a good work space that I can just shut the door on :) I'm looking forward to getting all my gift wrapping, craft supplies, cardmaking and scrapbook supplies, and sewing stuff all put away!

(hey, I can dream, can't I?)

Favorite new breakfast/dessert/snack :) is a Dutch baby, aka a German pancake aka deliciousness in your mouth! It is a cross between a crepe and a pancake, and it's baked in the oven. Here's the SIMPLE recipe: Preheat oven to 425. Blend (or process in a food processor) together 3 eggs, 6 Tbls flour, 1 Tbls sugar, and 6 Tbls milk. Melt 2-3Tbls butter in a large oven safe skillet (stainless or cast iron work great- & at least 8 inches across, the pancake will expand!). Tilt pan to coat with butter, pour in mixture. Bake until puffy & golden, 12-15 min. Serve with lemon juice & powdered sugar (I also topped mine with strawberries!). ENJOY!! :)


Random - I have discovered that I quite enjoy Kokanee! Kokanee is a fresh water salmon that Jeff fishes for, and since he caught six (!) of them last weekend, I've been able to try out different ways of cooking them. I usually do our Alaskan salmon on the grill with a cilantro/garlic/lime pesto, so I tried that with the Kokanee and it was very good. Our favorite however, was grilled (on foil) with a mixture of lemon pepper, garlic, S&P, a bit of brown sugar and lots of lemon juice. Sounds like a weird combo but it was delish! Next up: smoking them!


Interested in learning how to do a proper Mini Schnauzer haircut. Key word being proper. Our little Heidi is a Mini, and while we are very happy that she does not shed (no Schnauzers do!), she does need regular haircuts. I have trimmed her hair many times, but I wouldn't say I've ever really done a "proper" Schnauzer haircut. And because our little darling lives on a farm, she actually could benefit from haircuts more often than most... at least if we want to keep her from bringing every leaf, stick and other farm "goody" into the house! And as for Heidi herself, while she loves having short, freshly trimmed hair, she really does not enjoy sitting still while Mommy trims it, so I do believe she also would want me to gain some new skills in this area, simply so we could get it done more quickly!


Dreaming about babies :) As you know, I am trying to get pregnant. As you may not know, I have recently been hired as a nanny for a 3 month old little girl named Ella! She is an adorable little thing, and her parents unfortunately have to go back to work, so I'll be watching her on the 4 days/week that they are both working. I'm already quite smitten but I'm sure it will be fun to hang out with her and watch as she changes so quickly these first months. She is precious and I feel honored to take care of her!


Admiring the new blog I found called Young House Love. The whole blog is great, but I particularly love all their more recent baby-focused posts, including all the DIY projects they did for their nursery! It's an adorable pear green and aqua colored nursery for a little girl--and it looks perfect! There are touches of pink and flowers, but it isn't overly girly and it definitely is a cheerful room any baby would be happy to grow into. You can check it out here, and pictures of their new little arrival here. Fun fun!


And last but not least. . .

Yay that my amazing and extremely generous parents, who like to make sure no holiday, birthday or anniversary goes by without being properly acknowledged, decided to completely splurge on us and bought us tickets to THE LION KING for our anniversary (this Wed, 6-23, will be 3 years!!), which we have been totally dying to see! It's one of few shows that both Jeff & I wanted to see, and we are SO excited to go to it! Plus I love an opportunity to dress up, especially since it's been an entire year since I've been able to wear heels! :) It's going to be the perfect way to end our weekend, and a wonderful way to celebrate our three years of being married, and 4 years of being together! Thanks again, folks. You guys really do spoil us! :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Q's than A's...

Hello, friends! I am alive! I apologize that my poor blog has been neglected for so very long, and that I have left you, my bloggy friends, without an explanation of what is going on in my life, and, yes, in my uterus.

While it is not a great reason, my excuse is that I never really was able to get the answers I was looking for, either. I kept waiting for a clear answer, an explanation, and a plan. . . and while the first two never really materialized, I at least do have a plan now. And I will try to offer an explanation, as best I can. I apologize in advance for the rambling post, but that is how my thoughts have been coming lately. I figure a rambling explanation is better than none at all!

**Warning: Due to the sensitive nature of this post, I am going to be using words such as "uterus," "ovaries" and even "period." If these words make you uncomfortable please feel free to substitute them with the words of your choosing. Consider it a Fertility Mad Libs, if you will.**

Let's start with the basics: I am not pregnant.

I might have been pregnant, but am no longer. (This is the theory I believe makes the most sense and explains most of the symptoms/test results. Wouldn't I know for sure if I lost the baby, you ask? Not necessarily. When it happens early on (under 10 weeks), sometimes the body simply reabsorbs the baby, which would explain why my pregnancy symptoms did not disappear instantly, but rather slowly went away. The ultrasound tech thinks this is the most likely explanation.)

My body might have just been super confused and thought I was pregnant. (Hmm did you know your body can think things? Well, probably my uterus was the ringleader if this is what happened... I should have known. I mean, really, all women know that their uterus can have a mind of it's own! And not just in regards to pregnancy. Every 28 days or so I believe my uterus throws a little hissy fit to let the rest of my body know it is NOT happy with what is going on, and this often results in me being banished to the sofa with a heating pad. So, really, I should not be surprised. You just can't trust your uterus as far as you can throw it...)

This is the theory my doc thinks is most likely, because according to her, it is impossible for someone to be pregnant and not test positive. Well then I guess my brother and my 2 cousins don't really exist, because their moms did not test positive, so it must have been impossible that they were pregnant, even though they all had healthy babies... Couldn't she have just said it would be very unlikely? I mean, come on.

My doc did say that 1)I could have been pregnant and the timing of the tests was just off enough to not catch the rise in the hormones that indicate it (meaning I wasn't pregnant very long, which could be explained by a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage) or that 2) there is a very slight chance that the hcg produced by my body is a different strain of hcg that does not show up in standard testing. She said if that was the case then I could qualify for being written up in the New England Medical Journal... well in my mind that is the ONLY explanation that really explains why all the women in my family have tested negative when they were indeed pregnant!

Whew. Thanks for letting me get that out of my system! Now, for the plan.

Even though no one knows for sure if I ovulated during that last cycle, my doctor did say that we needed to get my body and hormones back into a normal cycle. The best way to do that is to take a couple of different hormones at specific times, which will hopefully result in basically restarting my hormonal clock. Like Ctrl Alt Delete for my ovaries. Sorta. :)

She first prescribed me Provera, which is a type of progesterone. This is a hormone that is typically made by a woman's body each month after ovulation, and then when these levels drop it signals that it's time for your period to start. When you take synthetic progesterone, it tricks your body into thinking you just ovulated, and when you stop taking it after 10 days, your body (hopefully) is tricked into welcoming your friendly aunt flo.

That's where I am now, done with the 10 days of Provera and waiting to start. (Can I just say, I am not really loving the side effects of this one- I feel like I've been PMSy for almost 2 weeks... the cramps, the bloating and the moodiness... sorry Hubs!)

She also prescribed me Clomid, which is a medication used to stimulate the ovaries. Stimulating your ovaries can cause a few different things to happen, the most common of which is that it "helps" your body to ovulate regularly. It also tends to help your ovaries to create better eggs so that when you do ovulate that egg has a better chance of becoming a baby. :) And yes, it can cause you to ovulate more than one egg, meaning instead of one bundle of joy you have a small chance (10% or less) of having two bundles... and a tiny chance of even more bundles. This used to be more common, however in recent years the drug has been improved to the point that it's now less than a 1% chance of having triplets.

My husband keeps saying that maybe we do want to have twins, because then we only have to go through this trying to conceive stuff one time, and I'd only have to be pregnant one time, and the best part as far as he is concerned, I'd only have to deal with the newborn-staying-up-all-night, not-getting-any-sleep-stage once. Hmmm. Forgive me if I'm not convinced! As for me, I don't really enjoy the thought of never sleeping for our babies' first few months. I'd like to enjoy that time, not be struggling to stay awake!

(Please do not be concerned that I won't be happy if we do get twins--of course, if it happens, I will be thrilled, but the thought of trying for twins is not something I think we are really ready for!)

My husband did offer one condition to this twin idea though (as if we have any choice in the matter!). He really only wants twins if it is two boys or one boy and one girl. He thinks twin girls might be the worst possible outcome ever-- silly man! What he doesn't realize is that yes, it may be more drama, but it also gives you the highest potential for adorable matching outfits!

Anyway. . .

Back to the plan. I take the Provera for 10 days, wait until I get my period and then take the Clomid starting on day 5 of my cycle. I take it for 5 days, and hopefully if all goes well it will cause me to ovulate. And then pretty much we keep up this cycle until I get pregnant. My doctor seems to be very optimistic that this will happen soon, if not the very first month. I am trying to be a bit more realistic and not get my hopes up too much, but the facts of the matter are that many people do get pregnant on their first round of Clomid, and for 90% of all the people who ever get pregnant on it, it happens within the first four months. I'm praying we are in that group! Of course I'd love LOVE for it to happen the first month, but I don't want to be crushed if it doesn't.

I am also hoping to not have to take the Provera every month, and that this little "cocktail" of hormones the first month will be enough to jump start my system back into regularity (no, not that kind of regularity!), meaning I will get my period on a regular monthly basis and not need help in that department. In that case all I will have to take is the Clomid to assist regular ovulating.

So that's where I am at.

I am sad that we are seemingly back where we started without any real knowledge of what happened, but I am anxious to get "trying" again. I am doing my best to trust God that he has a plan for me and that my next pregnancy will be healthy. It is sometimes hard not to worry, not to think about all the "what if"s, but I truly do believe that God has our best at heart and he will not give us more than we can handle. I know that we will have a family of our own. I just pray that it's sooner and not later.

Thank you so much for wanting to know what is going on in our lives. The last few months have been rough, and certainly were not resolved in the way that I'd hoped for or expected. It has been hard to recognize the fact that this whole trying to conceive thing may require more time and assistance than we'd hoped for initially. But I'm not discouraged, and I'm still hopeful that it will happen for us soon.

As for those of you out there who have been dealing with this issue for months or even years, I have all the sympathy for you that I possibly can. It is a very difficult thing to realize you have this problem, and that the solution for it is mostly out of your hands. All the infertility forums and blogs wish *babydust* to all trying for a little one, but I can do one better. I will be praying that the God of the universe, who created your body and knows your baby even before he/she is conceived, will be with you during this time, give you peace when it does not make sense to have peace, and heal you so that you can bring a healthy child into your family. I would love to hear your stories, and be able to walk this journey with you.

And something to leave you with, what I see as a small gift, a little reminder to us that God is still on his throne and still has the power to make things happen; in the midst of this confusing and unsure time, we have found out that someone very close to us is newly pregnant, as well as that another dear friend just gave birth to a healthy baby boy. While I am still longing for a baby of our own, I know God will also give me joy just by being involved in the lives of these friends, and their little ones.

God bless!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

To Be or Not To Be... Pregnant, that is!

Hey there, folks.

So, as the title of this post indicates, I MAY be pregnant! (little woo hoo!)

If you ask me to go by my womanly intuition (or a new mothers instinct?), pregnancy symptoms and timing, I say definitely yes. I'll go into the details of that below.

If you go by those pesky little tests, maybe not.

Thing is, I am almost 3 weeks late, but my body has not produced enough hcg yet to get a positive pregnancy test.

There are many possible reasons for this:
  • One of them is that I might not be pregnant. I don't love that reason, but it is still a possibility. Though I would like to know why I'm not having a period. . .
  • Another reason could be that it's still too soon to tell if I am pregnant or not.
  • And the last reason for the low hcg could be that my system is the same as my mothers was during her pregnancies, and I am pregnant but not producing enough hcg to register positive yet.
My mother did not test positive until she was more than 2 months pregnant. And according to my research this is not all that uncommon! Not only have I found numerous stories online of women in this same boat, but even when I was at the hospital taking the test, the lab tech told me that her daughter did not test positive during either of her pregnancies, and her doctor did not believe she was pregnant until she was showing, at almost 4 months along!

There are many symptoms I am having that lead me to believe I am actually pregnant, and they are increasing by the day. The first symptoms were an insatiable hunger (particularly for Frosted Shredded Mini-Wheats--I go thru a box every couple days!), extreme exhaustion and funny twinges behind my belly button. I threw up while out to dinner the first week (barely made it out the door to the bushes... hmmm). My headaches have changed and are worse at times, like they often are at certain times of the month. Most recently I have been feeling queasy in the mornings and evenings, am getting heartburn at bedtime, and my chest is tender, swollen and covered in blue veins.

If I was the first person in my family to not test positive when pregnant, I would be more hesitant to believe that was the explanation. If I had not heard from the lady at the lab that her daughter tested negative into her 4th month, I would be more hesitant. If we were not trying to conceive and I did not have increasing symptoms of pregnancy, and really just feel different, I would be more careful to not get my hopes up at all.

But because of all those reasons above, I do feel that the most likely explanation is that I really, truly AM pregnant, even though the tests have not yet confirmed it.

I know what you are thinking. I need to be careful, need to not put all my eggs in that basket (pun intended). Nothing is for sure yet. Don't let myself get too carried away until we know.

Just about all of the people I have told about my current situation have reminded me that I don't know for sure yet.

As if I don't KNOW that.
As if I don't think about that possibility every single day.
As if I am not praying every hour that God will keep me from being completely crushed if I'm not actually pregnant.

Because the truth it, though we have only been trying for a couple months, I really really WANT to be pregnant! This is something I have wanted for years, and now that we have finally decided to try to conceive, I don't want to have to wait any more!

I know that no matter what the odds are or are not, I will be sad if this turns out to be some sort of flukey hormonal thing. Especially now that I know how it might feel to actually be pregnant! Now that I am watching my body for any changes, learning what stage a baby is at during each month of pregnancy. All of those things make me want to be pregnant more than ever!

So. That is my story.

As of the end of this week, if I am indeed pregnant, I will be 7 weeks along. At which point the baby will be able to be seen on an ultrasound, and the heartbeat can also be heard.

Because what I have read says that ultrasounds are much more indicative of pregnancy than blood tests, if I continue to have symptoms and don't start my period, I have decided just to skip the next blood test and wait for an ultrasound in order to know for sure. I'm hoping and praying my doctor will see the wisdom in this, and order and ultrasound sooner than later.

Because, really and truly, I just want to know! Is that too much to ask?!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What in the bloggy world is going on??

As you all know I am new to the wonderful world of blogging. One of the things I like about this world is that it's so easy to navigate. Hit New Post, type out a few things, hit Publish Post and viola! A new post. Well, that is how it is supposed to work. My blog apparently has a mind of it's own! Why you ask? Well, let me tell you.

First, the font. When I published yesterday's blog I noticed that the first couple paragraphs were in black, instead of the typical teal I have always used (because isn't teal a happier color? I mean, really.), and that the font was larger as well (I wasn't trying to yell, I promise).

So I went into Edit, selected the entire post, changed the color to teal and the size to normal. There. That seemed like it should solve the problem, but when I hit Publish again. . . same thing. Grrr. I tried it one more time, first selecting only the offending (offensive!) text and changing it, then selecting the whole thing, turning it black and then back to teal...each time it looked correct in the preview (I believe it was mocking me.) but when I published it, same old, same old. Lame.

At this point I gave up. If you are going to judge me on the mismatched size and color of my blog posts, I guess I have other things to worry about.

Secondly, my last post was written and published (3 times, mind you) YESTERDAY. April 10th. Not, as my blog now says, March 15th. What the heck?! I wonder if that is only showing up incorrectly on the blog itself, or in everybody's readers and emails? Who knows.

If any of you vastly more experienced bloggers care to tell me what might have possessed my poor little newby blog, I would appreciate it. Keep in mind, however, that I am a template kind of girl. No programming for this chica. I speak English (and a little Spanish) and that is IT. No programming languages of any kind.

And I like it that way.

Except when my template acts up, as it has been doing lately. I have tried to give said template a stern talking to, to whip it into shape, however all my attempts to do so have failed. I think this is because I speak English and my template speaks computer and apparently the translator has taken a little vacation.

So apparently, until my translator returns, or my template learns English, I am stuck with a rebellious template for my poor little blog. If I could speak to my template, which we know I cannot, I would simply say: Hey. Don't take this out on my blog. She hasn't done anything to you. If you have a problem in computer-land, take it up with them. Leave my blog alone. Thank you very much.

(It always pays to be polite even when you don't know the language. Maybe especially then!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

I am . . . BACK!

I am... blessed.

I think... it's been way too long since I last blogged! A quick recap: In the last few weeks, I have traveled to Coos Bay for my nephew's 1st birthday, to Grants Pass to help my parents pick up my elderly grandparents for an extended visit, my husband flew to DC for a week-long business trip/conference, I have repainted my entire dining room, tried to get a job (nannying), found out my MIL's multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood and bone, similar to leukemia) is back, had Easter dinner with my husband's family, and lastly, got the good news that the cancer is most likely localized and will only require radiation treatments as opposed to chemo. Whew. So, as you can see, I have been busy, but that is no excuse for neglecting you, my happy bloggy community!

I should... be painting. The walls are DONE (ever painted over wallpaper? Don't.) but I've got a chair rail to finish. And then a door frame. And a door. And. . .

I dream.... of being a mom. Enough said.

I want... more days of sunshine! We've been having typical Oregon Spring weather-sunny one minute, thunder storms and hail the next... I'm ready for a bit more consistent sunshine!

I know... Jesus loves me. For the Bible tells me so.

I don't like... waiting. I've done a lot of it, and I don't think it really gets any easier. Right now we are waiting for more test results for my mother-in-law, as well as waiting for me to get pregnant, and neither of them are very fun.

I smell...
coffee :) Mmmmm. Tell me, why is it that no one has perfected a "freshly brewing coffee" air freshener? I'd be all over that.

I hear...
frogs. That might seem all nice and charming to you city folk but when you live out in the country, especially near water, the frogs can get SO loud that you have to turn up the tv to drown them out, and they can even wake you up in the middle of the night. Frog leg soup, anyone?

I fear... not being able to get pregnant. And ants. I have nightmares about them.

I usually... talk. Just ask my family.

I search...
for new recipes. I'm tired of having the same thing for dinner every week, but it's not always easy to find things that my picky hubs likes (or thinks he will like, since if he doesn't think he is going to like it, there is really nothing I can do to persuade his taste buds). Some of our new favorites: trout (courtesy of my husband's mad fishing skills), chinese chicken salad (a la applebees), and green chile chicken enchiladas.

I miss....
my 2 yr old nephew Caden. I always have love seeing him but the last time was just the most fun. He is growing up so quickly and I adore his sweet little personality (as he would say, "because you are my best friend!") I also miss being able to walk to a coffee shop from home.

I always... kiss my husband goodnight. We received a plaque for our wedding with our names painted on it, and in front of our names it says Always Kiss Me Goodnight. It hangs above our bed and we've certainly taken it to heart. (Thanks Christy!)

I regret... not painting our living room & dining room trim white sooner. It's made SUCH a difference! I just love the crisp white and it has made the rooms feel much brighter. Yay!

I wonder... how my latest baking endeavor will turn out? A fudge brownie crust covered with a chocolate hazelnut swirled cheesecake filling and topped with our very own fresh roasted and chopped hazelnuts. It's cooling now and I cannot wait to try it! The spatula I licked was a very delicious preview. If it is wonderful, I might bring some to the baby shower I'm helping with this afternoon. . . maybe :)

I crave... power. No, not really, it just sounded good :) Something I really do crave is creamsicles. Not only are they delicious but they are the perfect for springtime! I know, random.

I remember... when my friend Emily said she was never going to have children. She couldn't imagine having little ones of her own and swore it would not happen. Now she is pregnant with little one #4 and could not be happier! Silly, silly girl. Miss you Em!

I need... to finish the laundry. Is it just me or is laundry one of those things that is NEVER finished? I love that feeling of accomplishment that comes after finishing ALL the dirty laundry... but I do NOT love the sense of defeat that comes shortly after when the nice, empty laundry basket is half full again before the day is even over... I can remember actually telling my husband to put his dirty clothes in the bathroom so that I could go to bed in a room with NO dirty laundry. . . *sigh*

I forget...
what it is like to not have high-speed internet, or much less an internet connection at all! How is it that something has changed our lives so completely, yet it was non-existent 20 years ago? How long has it been since you've used a real phone book, a dictionary, a map, or the newspaper to look up movie listings? I forget what it was like to NOT be dependent on the internet for pretty darn close to everything!

I feel...
grown up. Some days, anyway. Other days I cannot believe that I am almost 30 years old. Thirty. That's like the age of the people in Seinfeld, and Mad About You. Thirty. I thought I would have a whole gaggle of kids and more than a few gray hairs by the time I was thirty. Not that I would
only be a mommy to my 2 yr old puppy, and still be asked if I had graduated yet. (Yes, that really happened just a few months ago. And she did not mean from college.)

I can...
WALK! Praise God! This may not seem like a huge feat to some of you, but it is one that I do not take for granted any longer. Being unable to put any weight through my left leg for over 4 months, not even able to put my foot flat on the ground, has made me so completely grateful that I am now recovered enough to be able to walk. Unassisted. Without crutches. You don't know how much you take for granted until you can no longer do so!

I can't...
make rolls from scratch. I have tried many times, and each time there is some different problem. The entire situation stresses me out so much that if there are roll-making-items out on the kitchen counter my husband knows not to say a word. I blame it on our oven, our drafty kitchen, the weather, the humidity...but I'm trying to face the fact that me and dinner rolls just are not made to be. At least not at this stage in my life. I'm hoping that once I have kids I will be endowed with that magical roll-making-ability that all old-fashioned mothers seem to have. But until then. . . Rhodes are good enough for me!

I am happy...
that in 2 months my hubs and I will have been married for THREE WHOLE YEARS! Crazy. But crazy good!

I lose... at Rummykub. It's a fabulous game with little tiles kind of like dominoes, but its played sort of like Gin Rummy is with cards. You have to get runs or 3-of-a-kind, and whoever plays all their tiles first wins. I have been playing this game for years with my family, and I taught this game to my husband, happy that I might be able to actually win a game against him (not the case with most other games we play). However, it did not take my engineer-minded, photographic-memory husband long to figure out how to beat me at it. Grrr. Now each game can take well over an hour, and most of them end with me accusing him of cheating. . . which he doesn't (usually!) do, but he allows me to accuse him because he knows it helps me save just a little bit of my dignity, after losing yet again. That's what I get for picking a smart one, I guess.

I sing....
in the car. Lately I've been loving Chris Tomlin's praise songs and whenever I'm in the car alone I turn them up and sing along. It never fails to lift my mood and put my worries in perspective... even if it's only for a ten minute drive to town.

I listen... to tv shows while I paint. I don't usually pick those with a difficult plot because I only pay about 50% attention, but I enjoy having something to listen to to keep my mind from wondering if this is the 4th or 5th coat of white paint. Current favorites include American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and the Amazing Race. Apparently I enjoy the competition aspect :) And a bonus with this season of Amazing Race, the contestants are so "amazingly" blockheaded that whenever I watch it I end up feeling so very intelligent! Gotta love that!

I shop... at Target. Pretty much only at Target. But where else can you find string cheese, an Easter dress and painting tape? I kinda love it. I am, however, NOT a fan of Target pharmacy. I have tried 3 times now, and not once have they gotten any part of the order correct. They tell me it will be ready at X o' clock, so I drive the 20 min to get there and is it ready? Nah. They say it's going to be $X amount, but then when it's ready, its much more. So, sadly, I will not be adding "pick up Rx" to the growing list of things I can do while at my friendly local Target.

I eat... Frosted Mini-Wheats bite-size cereal. Dry. Sans milk. Out of the box, even. Yes, they are a bit dry at first, and they can be a tad bit hard to swallow, but for some odd reason I really enjoy them! So much so that I often have a baggie of them in my purse or in my car, or even on my nightstand. My husband, who has some of the oddest eating habits around, likes to make fun of me for my odd choices, but I do not mind. I choose to take the high road. With my baggie of cereal :)

I love... All of YOU! Thanks for hanging in there with me over these last few crazy weeks, and I will do my best to not leave you all hanging for so long again. I hope you are enjoying the first days of Spring, and that you have a lovely weekend. Go enjoy the sunshine while it lasts!

Take care!
♥♥Julia

Friday, March 12, 2010

TGI Friday!!

Yes, it's that time again! TGI Friday, Spring Edition!

Trusting-that God knows the future, and will let me know what I need to know, when I need to know it. Sometimes I worry that I am missing something; that there was a step I was supposed to take or a fork in the road that I might have missed, but I need to trust that not only will God not tell me things I don't need to know, He will tell me the things I do need to know. If I am listening to Him and tuned in to His direction, He will guide me and give me enough light to see the next step along our path- whether it's the next job to apply for or the timing for a trip.

Grateful-for SO many things! That SPRING is coming, that I am finally making some progress on projects around my home, and for my Wonderful HUSBAND who has been doing so many sweet little things for me lately "just because."

(Like what, you ask? Well, he installed ALL of the baseboards I painted last weekend in one fell swoop, he has brought home flowers for me 3 times in the last month, AND after I mentioned that his mom had found some pretty pink branches
around the farm to put in her house, he went out and cut a bunch to surprise me, including some with bright yellow flowers and adorable little white flowers. Just cause he thought I'd like them. SO sweet!)

Now when I look around my house I'm not only thrilled by my new baseboards, or happy that spring is almost here, I am also reminded of how lucky I am to have a hub who loves me as much as mine does!


Inspired- by a couple of home decor blogs I've been reading lately: both Our Suburban Cottage and It's the little things that make a house a home have me inspired for some springtime updating with lots of bright & airy rooms, white cottage decor, and making the best of what you've got to work with (such as vanity lights from the 70's and unattractive laminate countertops!). Go ahead and check them out--and then check back here for updates on the projects I'll be taking on! Some likely possibilities: kitchen cabinet makeovers & a new window seat!

Favorite-dessert lately is . . . drumroll please. . . tapioca pudding! Don't judge me. It's a delicious, sweet creamy treat, already portion-controlled (unless you eat two of them ...which of course I would never do!), and it just reminds me of being a kid! Now what's so wrong about that? And in case you need to be reminded -- no, tapioca pearls are NOT fish eggs or fish eyes or whatever your big brother told you they were, they are completely natural and yummy. So there. :)

Random-I have always enjoyed scrapbooking, stamping and card-making... and I have quite a collection of supplies to prove it! However I often find that it's just not that fun to work on cards or scrapbooks by myself. Well lately I've rekindled this hobby by helping my MIL out with a project she's working on.

Together we've gone shopping for supplies, coordinated ribbons and papers, and done the trial & error that's always necessary when deciding on the best possibly layouts. And I must say, we are a pretty good team, because the final product that we've come up with has been really adorable!

I'll see if I can take a few photos of the final product to show y'all (we aren't there yet)
, but let me just say that they are some of the CUTEST baby (girl) shower invitations you've ever seen! And it is most certainly inspiring me to get out my supplies and put them to good use!


Interested-in how to get back my previously well-mannered, easy-going, social-butterfly of a puppy! That dog seems to be AWOL and in her place is a neurotic, hyper-sensitive, bark-at-everything, friends-with-no-one, naughty puppy! I am having to spend most of my days scolding her for growling ferociously at the heater vents (?!), barking at every (even imagined!) sound she hears, and sneaking around in order to avoid the mysterious other-dog-in-the-mirror.

Dreaming- of going camping!! Because of an unfortunately-located tree, last year's camping season was cut quite short. I have since put in lots of time, and lots of work, recovering from the interaction with said tree, and I am really looking forward to this summer. Camping, grilling, fishing, going for long walks, heck, just sitting outside NOT in a wheelchair. It's going to be good!

Admiring- my newly painted and installed WHITE baseboards!! And my current project, white-painted door and window frames! Already these small changes are making SUGH a difference in my large living/dining room.

We have wood floors, dark wood and brown leather furniture, a dark wood-paneled wall with a brick red fireplace, wine colored walls in the DR half, and latte colored walls in the LR (yes, I know, pictures are worth a thousand words. However I'm preparing a dramatic before and after post for this project, so I can't give the punchline away ahead of time! Patience, people!). If you can try to imagine it, it's a pretty dark picture.

Before this project, there was NO bright white in these rooms to balance all the dark. The baseboards themselves have made a big difference, and I am already LOVING the white door frame. They both bring a nice breath of calm and cheer to the rooms, like a happy spring breeze. . . Okay, so maybe I'm over-exaggerating the effect of a little white paint (or a lot of white paint!), but if you were in my shoes you would understand. It is exactly what these rooms needed and I really, truly love it. *sigh*

Yay
- I'm going to finally get a rug for my living room!! I've been wanting a rug for our living room floor for just about forever. Or at least since we moved in and refinished our floors :) However big rugs are not only expensive, it is also difficult to find a style that both the hub and I like. Well a couple weeks ago a good friend of mine (you know who you are, T!) mentioned on Facebook that she was bringing home a new rug she bought at Costco.

So of course I had to get the details (price, size, all that good stuff), and trot on off to my favorite warehouse store to check it out. And lo and behold, I found one I really liked! And even more amazing, the hub liked it too! (He didn't love it, and he made sure I knew it wasn't his absolute perfect dream rug, but hey, if he liked it at all I figured we're making progress here!) So we took a few days to think about it. . . and we still like it, so-- we're going to get it this weekend! I'm really very excited.

Now don't get me wrong-- I love LOVE hardwood floors, but I've learned that I also really love having something soft and warm under my feet, especially when it's drafty (and especially for the future when we have little ones here, with as often as they and their tiny feet are on the floor!). I also really like light and color and coziness, which are three things our living room does not currently have an abundance of (see above). So based on all that, I'm thrilled we have hardwood floors (that my brand new husband and I sanded and refinished ourselves, when we very first moved into our house!!), and I'll be even more thrilled when we've balanced all that wood out with a little bit of softness and warmth. Like our new rug will provide. Yay!

I hope you all have had a great week, and are making some fun plans for the weekend, even if it's only trying to work out in the yard between rain showers! Spring is on it's way, trust me! Until next time--take care!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pasta-Making Adventure

A couple of weeks ago my MIL and I decided that we would take on the challenge of making homemade pasta, something neither of us had done before. She had found a delicious-sounding recipe, and being inspired by it she researched and found a great deal for a pasta-roller. Once it arrived, we gathered the ingredients and went to work on (attempting) to create
a delicious dinner of homemade
cheese ravioli with mushroom sauce.
(yummmm!)

I wasn't able to take pictures while we were working (It was just too difficult to try to document at the same time! My brain was already stretched to capacity!), but I found some images that do a great job of depicting the
pasta-making process we endured.

We started with some of this:

which is flour, eggs, salt and evoo (extra-virgin olive oil for those of you who aren't aware of Rachael Ray's now infamous abbreviations!). You mound the flour into a big circle with a hole (or well) in the center. You crack the eggs into the well, add the salt and oil, and then attempt to beat the eggs without incorporating the flour. Yet

After the eggs are beaten, you slowly add the flour in,

trying to create a mixture that gets progressively thicker, with the goal of incorporating the flour in such a way that once the rim is broken, the mixture is thick enough that it will not slip through the now-breached border and run down the counter and onto the floor.
It took us a while, but we were able to accomplish this:
It took us a while but we were just happy
not to end up with egg on the floor (or on our face...hee hee).
After working and kneading the dough ball for, oh, about 20 minutes, or until our arms felt like rubber, we wrapped it in saran wrap and let it rest for an hour.

We thought it might also be good if we took that opportunity to rest ourselves :)
It was at this point in the process that we decided it would go more smoothly with a whole bunch of this:
Mmmm, coffee!! And not just any coffee, but delicious homemade illy brand espresso added to perfectly frothed milk (all made possible by Bonnie's Christmas present of a delightful new Breville espresso maker...seriously, the thing coffee dreams are made of!), creating a
completely delightful and perfect cappuccino. Yum!

If you are wondering what had exhausted us to the point that we needed to rest right along with the dough, that would be the large amount of kneading needed. It was not a pretty thing to watch, nor was it our favorite step. We had to switch back and forth for the kneading a few times-- pasta dough is t.o.u.g.h. at this stage, and kneading it for more than 5 minutes at a time would require much stronger arms than we apparently had...whew!

We did rationalize, however, that the work we were putting into this dough completely justified the delicious high-calorie, cheesy, carb-loaded meal we would (hopefully) be consuming in just a few hours!

After we had sufficiently rested our arms and the pasta, we cut the dough into 4 pieces, took one and rolled it slightly so that it would fit more easily into the pasta roller.
We were surprised and very pleased to find that the dough had softened up significantly during its rest, because neither of us were looking forward to working with, or, frankly, eating, dough that was as tough as quick-drying cement.
We then fed it into the newly-acquired pasta roller,

for it's virgin voyage.
And while I'd love to tell you it looked like this right from the beginning:

(Doesn't that baby look happy?! I would, too, with yards of pasta dangling over me!)
In truth, it actually looked more like this. . .
This process took us a while to master, and our first few attempts left us with lumpy pasta with uneven, curly edges, and a large rounded crescent shape

instead of the long, smooth rectangle they showed (flaunted) in the recipe.
However after the first 2 or 3 runs, we finally created something that looked a bit more like this:
We did learn a few things about the art of pasta rolling, however, that I will pass on to you. First is that you have to be skilled/experienced/have 3 hands if you are going to attempt to do it by yourself. We thought it worked very well to have one person feeding the thicker dough in from the top, and catching the thinned out dough from the bottom, while the other person turned the crank, while trying to keep the crank itself from falling out and smashing unsuspecting feet.

Our recipe said to continue passing the dough through the increasingly thinner settings of the pasta roller, until you reach the second-thinnest setting. For our machine, that meant starting at setting #1 and continuing to setting #8. Which is not only a lot of passes through the machine, but also results in a v-e-r-y thin ribbon of dough, hard to handle, quick to dry out and easy to tear.

After processing all our dough to this level of thickness (or thin-ness), we decided that next time we'd stop at level 6 or 7 in order to have dough that is easier to work with. Nevertheless, we covered all but two sheets of our pasta with damp towels, and began to squeeze the chilled filling (a delightful mixture of ricotta, eggs, parsley and 2 kinds of cheeses) onto the sheets:

This was by far the most time-consuming of the stages , and we would have given anything to have one of these:
or even one of these:
If we had one of these tools, it would have made our lives easier, the filling step much quicker, and our finished ravioli might have looked like this:
instead of this:

The important thing, however, is not how it looks, but how it tastes, and we were certain that our lumpy, torn, misshapen raviolis would taste just as good as the pretty, uniform type. One upside to the good, old-fashioned way we filled our ravioli was that we ended up with lots of scraps of dough... which may or may not have been eaten by the cooks as a (we felt) well-deserved appetizer! :)

To complete our process, we whipped up a delightful sauce of pancetta (a cured ham like
bacon but not smoked), three types of mushrooms:

and
chicken stock, cream and green onions.
We boiled our ravioli, piled them into a serving dish, poured the wonderfully rich sauce over top, called our men to the table,

and devoured it!
(*Happy sigh just remembering the deliciousness...*)

Not only was the ravioli perfectly cooked, and the sauce to-die-for, we felt very proud to be eating such a luxurious dish that we made entirely from scratch!
It's true it was a lot of work, and it's also true that we decided that next time we might just add all of the ingredients to a layered lasagna-type dish to avoid the most time-consuming part of stuffing the raviolis, BUT the end result was most satisfying!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures in pasta-land, and that it didn't scare you off but rather encouraged you to try some culinary adventure of your own! I'd love to hear what you are dying to make, and how it turns out!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The power in praise!

*Okay so this post is kinda long, but I kept finding more things to add/share with you! I hope you guys enjoy it in spite of the length!*

Lately I've been reading a new devotional, called One Minute of Praise. It has a scripture for each day, a short story from the author's life, tied into her own journey of learning to praise God throughout life's circumstances, and then ends with a prayer and journaling section to help you praise God "for one minute a day."

When I first started reading it, I thought it was a one-minute devotional, and that that might be a good thing for me :) I've been trying to find something I can do consistently to get my thoughts centered and start my day with the right priorities and perspective. So far I've found that when I do this shortly after I get up my entire day seems to go so much more smoothly, I'm able to better handle normal ups and downs, and the entire day turns into one big conversation with the Lord, rather than just a few short prayers here and there.

Turns out this book is not only a really good way to get myself in the right frame of mind, it also has been teaching me a lot about the power that exists in praising God.

You are probably familiar with the scripture that "God inhabits the praises of His people," but if you were like me, you didn't really know what that meant. How can God inhabit, or dwell in, our praises?

As the author Darlene McCarty explains, "Praise is something He can work with. Praise gives Him something to inhabit in order to change a situation... Praise releases the very presence of God Himself. When the presence of God comes to dwell with me, my enemies have to retreat. Every weak area in my life had to flee when it was faced with my joy-lifted praise."

Psalm 8:2 says "You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise. They silence your enemies..." Darlene quotes a translation that translates the same verse as, "When the saints of God praise God, the devil has no voice." I love that!

She then begins talking about how praise is the key to victory in our lives. She says, "The most powerful tool that I have, though, is praise. My Heavenly Father walks with me, talks to me, encourages me, tells me I can make it, and promises me He will never leave me--and He has kept His word."

Since I have started reading this book and applying the principles it talks about (praising God everyday, no matter how I'm feeling or what my circumstances are; praising God for even just one minute straight, without any requests or complaints, only praising and giving glory to Him), I have noticed a definite change in my attitude and my outlook. It is much easier to see the positive in things, and even to see the silver lining around what previously only looked like storm clouds. I began with only a minute of praise at a time, and now I find myself spontaneously praising God many times throughout the day. It is a great way to put an end to a bad mood!

One of the biggest changes I've noticed that has really affected how I pray is that instead of telling God what I see as problems in my life and asking God for things, I find myself praising and thanking God for bringing about a positive outcome, in ways I have not yet seen. This helps me to believe that God does do what he said he will do, that he will work all things together for good, and it helps me to believe that through him I will have victory.

Praying in this way has increased my faith and helped me to stay positive rather than dwelling on the what-if's. I hope that you will try some of the ideas from this book. Praising God is a powerful way to invite God into your circumstances, to gain a more positive outlook and be able to see past the obstacles to the victory that is waiting.

If you do challenge yourself to praise God everyday, to thank him for what he is doing and will do in your life, you will notice a change! And I would love to hear about it!! I'll leave you with this final encouragement:

"The next time the devil tries to brainwash you with failure, turn him back with your powerful weapon of praise. Lift your voice, your hands, and your heart to God and shout your praise until it lifts the roof. Your willpower will strengthen, your decision-making will improve, and your self-worth will return. You will be so proud of yourself because you have become an overcomer!"

Take care!

Friday, February 19, 2010

TGI Friday!


And what a Friday it is--not only do we have beautiful sunshine and blue skies, but the entire weekend ahead of us is supposed to be just as nice. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do- such a nice and welcome break from the typical rainy Oregon February!

Today I am going to take a page from my friend Patti's book and give you TGIFriday.

Trusting-that God has a plan for our family and that it will begin in His timing! It's hard not to get excited and rush now that we're ready to get started, but I know that it will happen at the right time, and that it will be so much better than if I tried to rush ahead of God.

Grateful-for the beatiful weather and sunshine!! Also grateful for the time I got to spend with my new little buddy Emersyn this week--she is such a sweetie. I'm in love :)

Inspired-to get my house in order! I've been meaning to paint and reinstall our trim for a while now, and I'm also going to update the paint in a few rooms that have been neglected since we moved in. Don't know if it's spring cleaning or what, but I'm excited to get going on it! Before and after pics to come!

Favorite-dish is still cottage cheese & canned pineapple. Much to my husbands chagrin (he does NOT mix sweet & savory!) I'm still completely addicted to this treat. It's so refreshing, creamy, and really not such a bad vice to have!

Random- I'm learning how to use my new-to-me breadmaker and the results of late have not been spectacular. I'm blaming the failures on bad yeast (didn't rise, rose too quickly & then fell...) but the pressure I'm putting on myself to make a successful loaf is definitely rising! If I can't pull this off soon, I may have to turn in my title as a good baker. Let's hope it doesn't get that serious. Any & all suggestions are welcome!

Interested- in the Olympics. I love the skiing, skating & snowboarding, but I really love hearing all the come-from-behind stories from the different competitors. I was thrilled when injured Lindsay Vonn won gold in downhill skiing, as well as for speed skater J.R. Celski who took bronze after suffering a horrible crash when he sliced his thigh open at qualifiers in September. I just love happy endings!

Dreaming-of catching skunks! Unusual, I know, but right now I'd do pretty much anything to get them to move out of our crawlspace. So far the only thing we've caught in our live traps is... a big black cat. Boy was he mad! Better luck next time?!

Admiring-the roses my sweet hub bought me for Valentine's Day! They are GORGEOUS, yellow with red tips, and they are still going strong. I re-arranged them into 3 separate vases (well actually 2 vases full of the roses, and the third with the filler flowers--bright lime green & bright purple--fun, but not so much with the yellow/orange roses!) and they look -and smell- so wonderful. I love having fresh flowers in every room!

Yay-My little nephews are coming to spend almost a week with my parents, and I can't wait to see them!! They live in CA so I don't get to spend nearly as much time with them as I'd like. 2 year old Caden (from Tickle Tuesday!) and his little (by age only!) brother Lincoln are SO much fun to hang around, and we get to play with them while their parents are taking a much deserved trip to Hawaii.

Happy FRIDAY to you, too!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tickle Tuesday!

This is my nephew Caden. He's two.
He really likes to be tickled.
Especially on his feeties :)
Hope this makes you smile.


Happy Tuesday from Julia & Caden!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 6, 2010

So now I know.

**As a favor to my male readers, since there's so many of you :) I'd like to warn you that this might be one post you'd like to skip, or just scan for the highlights. That is because I am going to be talking about "girl-things"- most of which you probably won't appreciate since you are, of course, not girls. (Yes, Sweetie, you can skip it too! :) Of course if you do choose to read it, that's wonderful and I'm happy to have you. Just don't say I didn't warn ya!**

Alrighty then.

Now that I feel I've been fair to the two or three men who might actually read my blog (and that's including my wonderful hubs and my dear old dad), I can get down to business. The reason I have not written anything for over a week now is that I have been prepping for, and then hosting, a visit from a long-awaited friend.

Well, maybe friend isn't the right word... and while long-awaited (which in case you are wondering, means to "wait with expectation") is technically accurate, the word dread (meaning to "anticipate with horror") might be a more accurate description. Yes, if you haven't guessed it by now, I'm talking about Flo. The once-monthly "friend" that all us humans blessed with ovaries "await." Or "dread."

It doesn't really matter how we feel about her, she's going to come whenever she darn well pleases. And not only is her timing often, shall we say, inconvenient, she of course brings along all of her baggage; including shortened fuses, water-retention, muscle-spasms, hyper-sensitivity and the most fun of all, hormonally-charged mood swings. I do believe that most, if not all of the fairer sex's bad press has been due to this little visitor. If it wasn't for her and her "gifts," women would not get the bad rap that we do!

And even though she makes us uncomfortable, irritable, weepy and irrational, there are still times when we're happy to see that's she's finally arrived... in town. This is what has happened in my house this week.

Now let me give some background. I am currently 29 years old. When I was 17 I began having horrible headaches. They started becoming more and more frequent, made me miss a lot of school, and eventually I had a headache all the time. I started seeing lots of doctors who tried lots of treatments, and lots of medications. One of the treatments was to put me on birth control pills to try to regulate my hormones. This seemed to help a small amount, so I stayed on them.

Off I went to college, still fighting the headaches and still on the birth control pills. At the end of my sophomore year I started having stomach cramps, which quickly progressed to severe abdominal cramping and spasms. Off I went to the ER where they suspected appendicitis but soon found a grapefruit-sized cyst (mass) in one of my ovaries. Off to surgery, where they discovered that the cyst was a borderline ovarian cancer growth in my right ovary.

Not what I was hoping for. However, the doctor on call in the ER that night for gynecology turned out to be an amazing woman and an amazing surgeon and she was able to remove the cyst from the ovary, whole, as well as leave the ovary itself in tact.

This was remarkable because 1. most surgeons would simply remove the ovary as well as the cyst in order to be safe and be sure of getting all the cancer, and 2. removing the cyst in tact prevented the cancer cells from being able to spread, which saved me from having to do further treatment such as radiation or chemo. All in favor, say aye!

So I did not have to have any further cancer treatment, but to prevent me from forming another cyst, they immediately recommended I be put on birth control pills. Since I was already on them, they played around with dosing and options and told me to not stop taking them for any reason other than actively trying to start our family (after which they told me I'd need to have a total hysterectomy). There is much more to this story, including another cyst removal 5 years later, but suffice it to say I have been on birth control pills ever since.

However birth control pills have this funny way of also preventing... birth. Or, more specifically, pregnancy. And since my husband and I have decided we want to try to get pregnant, being on the pill would definitely need to change! So I met with my Ob-Gyn and stopped taking it at the first of this year. Because I'd been on it for so long, I really did not know how stopping it was going to affect me. When you have been on birth control pills for more than a few years, it can take quite a while for your body to regulate itself into having a normal cycle again once you stop taking them.

Suffice it to say, Flo's vacation plans can get pretty messed up!

And of course when you are on the pill for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, you have those factors to deal with as well when you do stop taking it. In my case that meant that I had no idea what effect stopping it would have on my headaches, the formation of cysts, or having a regular cycle. Because of all these unknowns, I have been carefully watching to see how my body will react to the new hormone-free me. And I certainly learned a few things!

My headaches were pretty normal for the first 2-3 weeks after quitting the pill, but after that I started noticing that I was having more painful and more consistent headaches... day after day. They continued to worsen until I started to wonder if this was how my life was going to be now that I was off the pill. Needless to say I was not really thrilled with that idea.

Then, one day last week I woke up and realized that my headache was not nearly as intense as it was when I went to bed. And, as my husband and mother had been predicting (hmmm wonder how they knew?!), I began to wonder if the change might mean I was about to receive a visit. Sure enough, by lunchtime, my visitor had arrived; and this was one time I was actually happy to host her.

Not only was this good news because it meant my worsening headaches were a temporary thing, it was also good because a regular cycle is one of the first steps to accurately predicting and recognizing ovulation, which makes things a lot easier when you are trying to conceive!

So now I know what I can expect, and how my body is reacting to the new system. It may not be the most fun of changes, but at least I know. And now you, my faithful readers, also know what to expect; in that if you don't hear from me for a few days, or my musings seem particularly cynical or cryptic... I am probably experiencing my new tell-tale warning system, letting me know that a particular friend is going to come calling.

It's really too bad she couldn't just call.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Five Question Friday!


Since I am new to the whole blogging world, I hope I am doing this right! I've read Five Question Fridays for a while now, and today I'm excited to finally be able to do one of my own! On my very own blog, too! Woo hoo! (If you have any suggestions for how I can do the links better or more effectively or anything else about my blog, please let me know! I want to learn!)

So now, thanks to
Mama M here is my very first Five Question Friday!


1.
Would you ever vacation alone?

Well, hmm, would I or have I? I have not ever gone on an entire vacation by my lonesome, although I have gone on day trips by myself (to the beach, to the city...), I have traveled by myself to go visit or meet up with friends (Emily!), and I have struck out on my own for the day while on vacation with others (in Scotland, for example).

But the thing that strikes me most about all of those times is that at the end of the day, I knew there would be people for me to be around. I wouldn't have to spend the entire day by myself. I knew that I would be able to sit and chat and tell them all about my solo adventures. I knew that when I get off the plane, the train (or the automobile) there would be a familiar, friendly face to greet me. I knew that once I meandered back to the hotel, I wouldn't have to
eat by myself, entertain myself, or end the day alone. And, to tell the truth, those times when I reunited with others were some of ones I enjoyed the most!

During the day when I was on my own, I'd continually be thinking of things to share with my friends or family once we were back together. Sometimes I'd take pictures or even jot notes to remind myself of what I wanted to tell them about. And knowing that they were having different adventures at the same time, and that when we got back together we'd be able to discuss our different experiences, made it that much more enjoyable.

So, considering all of that, I think that taking an entire vacation by myself would mean neglecting the part of traveling and experiencing new things that I enjoy the most: sharing them with the people who are closest to me. Whether or not we experience the same things, at the end of the day we are there for each other, and retelling our adventures makes them that much more exciting and meaningful. So, I suppose my answer would be: No thanks :) But if you want to share a hotel somewhere while we each explore in our own ways, sign me up!

2. Do you go the speed limit?

I try really, really hard to! I must admit that I found quite the kindred spirit in Mama M when I read her answer. I, too, can fall off the wagon on those beautiful back roads with no other cars in sight. I, too, will set my cruise control to try to "control" myself. And I, too, think that many of those speed-changes are set up just to trap us unsuspecting motorists who are possibly too busy enjoying the beauty of God's creation around us to pay attention to silly little things like speed limits! How can you fault us for that?!

Just kidding, of course. I do value our speed limits and do my very best to follow them. However I do think that airplane surveillance, cop cars that look like completely normal vehicles and red-light-cameras are tipping the scales
just a bit towards the police. As my mother would say, that's hardly sporting! ;)

3. Why did you start blogging/following blogs?

Because all my friends are doing it! :) Just kidding (sorta)! I started my blog (just this week!!) so that I would have a convenient venue to let my friends and family know what is going on in our life (have I mentioned that I sometimes feel isolated out here in the country all day long by myself??), as well as to keep and share a written record of all the blessings God is giving us, the challenges that we face and overcome, and all the ways that we are slowly growing into the people He wants us to be. We are also going to be starting our family sometime soon (Lord willing) and I love the idea of creating something that my child can one day look back on and read how much we were anticipating their arrival, and how they changed our lives for the better (Lord willing!! :).

Oh, and cause it looked like fun :) I have my friend Patti to thank for that. Her two blogs make me smile and often make me laugh, no matter what kind of day I might be having. I feel closer to her by following her blogs, and love learning so many of her quirks and what makes her tick. It gives me an easy way to know how to pray for her, and to encourage her on things she is working on. I also love the way she shares her heart regarding what she is learning in the Word and how she is growing in her walk with Christ. I thought if she can influence me for the positive just by reading her blog, there must be something to this blogging business!

4. Where do you shop for yourself?

That's a tough one. I shop at WinCo for groceries but I do tend to share those with my hub. I often shop at Target for one or two things, and end up leaving with a few bags, usually including something for myself. But I'd have to say the top two places I shop just to make myself happy would be Hallmark and Craft Warehouse. Yeah...happy sigh.

I love Hallmark because I love giving people gifts as well as cards. Not only can I find lots of both there, but being at Hallmark just fills me up with ideas of how I can bless those close to me.

(However, if I don't happen to go to Hallmark for a while, I can sometimes forget the most obvious times for a card. I have given my husband dozens of cards in our 2 & a half years of being married, but, true story, I completely spaced getting him a card for his birthday this year! I did buy him presents, but a card just did not occur to me, which is SO odd, I cannot even tell you! Thankfully he thought it was funny, not offensive, and I rooted around in my well-stocked supply for a card that would work. Didn't really matter that it was originally an anniversary card...)

And Craft Warehouse is just a happy, happy place! I love being creative, and whenever I step through those doors I know I will find some new way to express myself creatively, whether it is thru making a scrapbook for someone, finding some adorable fabric to use (I am a beginner to the world of sewing but have high hopes for myself!), or just finding a new item or technique to use in decorating my home. It makes me so happy to find something that I have just the right place for, or learn how to re-use something I already have in a new and fun way. I can literally spend hours in Craft Warehouse, and fittingly, it was the first place I went to by myself once I got the clearance from my surgeon to drive again after I broke my leg. And it was lovely!

5. What was the song that you danced your first dance with your spouse to at your wedding...or...what song would you like your first dance to be to?

My husband I had a difficult time picking what song to dance our first dance to, since there were quite a few we loved at the time. The song we ended up picking still makes me tear up when I hear it, but in a very good way. It is Lost in This Moment, by the country band Big & Rich. It had just been released a couple months earlier, and even though it has now been used at many of our friends' weddings, I was happy that we were the first. One of our other favorites, that we actually used in our wedding ceremony, was Keeper of the Stars by Tracy Byrd, a really great song.

Our wedding really was simply perfect. Even after 2 1/2 years, I am still in that silly newlywed phase of gushing about how wonderful our wedding was. Neither of us would have changed a thing about it, even though there were a few sizable blunders such as the rental company not showing up with the tents & tables until one hour before the wedding (thankfully they were for the reception only, and we had some great friends who skipped the ceremony to be sure everything got ready), and the generator we needed being accidentally sent back home, leaving us with ZERO power about halfway through the evening reception (thankfully we had already gotten the main dances in before the music went away, and the rest of the night we just did our best under the candlelight!).

My mother worked for months to give me, actually to give both of us, the wedding of our dreams, and it payed off! Everything was magical, and it was the most amazing way to start our lives together. Even after attending dozens of other weddings together (some costing much more than ours), both my husband and I feel that none of them could hold a candle (no pun intended...) to ours. (Thanks, Mom!)

Okay! So, friends, this is my first official blog hop! I think the last step is to post this link to the hop? If I'm not doing this right, feel free to let me know! Have a great Friday, folks!!