Friday, July 30, 2010

2 Weeks!!

Five months ago I wrote a post about how excited I was to go see Phantom of the Opera on tour in Cleveland. I have finally ordered the tickets, and the date is set! In 2 weeks (and one day, but who's counting? ;-)) I will be living a dream!

As much as I love the story of Phantom of the Opera, I think the thing that I love most about this musical is, naturally, the music. In college, I had a 45 minute commute to and from school every day, and the soundtrack to the Phantom movie is what was playing through my car speakers 90% of the time. And I may or may not have been belting out every word in my best opera voice (Okay, I was. I totally was! Haha)

That is why until I go see the musical, and maybe even afterwards, you will have the pleasure of hearing the songs every time you visit my blog (on the playlist on my right sidebar). I apologize in advance if that is a problem for you. But just listen to it. It's so beautiful! And if you absolutely can't stand it, I guess you can turn your volume down or hit pause :-P

Going to see this musical will help me cross off an item on both of my lists (bucket and 101 in 1,001).

And now, because I am so excited, I thought I would partake in some eye candy from the musical/film. Breathtaking...

Emmy Rossum is such a beautiful Christine...

A few from the stage production

I just had to post about this, because I'm so excited! I really hope you don't hate me because of the music I added to my page ;-) It will only be up for a few weeks! I apologize in advance!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My Parenting Philosophy: part 1 - Hot Topics

No, I do not have children yet. But there is nothing wrong with planning ahead of time, right? And this is my blog, and I will write what I want ;-) I don't care if children may be far out in my future.

So today I thought I would write some of my thoughts about the various issues of parenting and pregnancy that seem to be hot right now. I will write more posts like these as I feel like it. Probably a lot when I actually have a baby on the way :-) Some of these posts will be serious and some will probably be silly. But anyway, welcome to the first one!

Issue #1: Finding out the gender vs. being surprised. I have already felt a little judged about this one, and I'm not even pregnant! haha...I've always said that I will find out the gender with all of my children. I want to be able to buy gender-specific clothes and items for my babies (although I think I'll do a gender-neutral nursery, because I just like them. I bet those of you who know me irl are surprised that I wouldn't want to do a pink nursery for a baby girl ;-)). I want to have the name picked out ahead of time. I want to be able to visualize whether I am planning for a little baby boy or a little baby girl. And I think Luke will feel the same way. There is no way I would be able to wait the whole 9 months without finding out. Are you kidding me?! I don't know how some of you people do it!

2: Home birth vs. natural hospital birth vs. hospital birth with epidural. I have to be very delicate about how I speak about this issue, because I know it's a hot topic right now and people are very passionate about it. For myself, I know there is absolutely NO WAY that I would be able to birth a baby in my home. First of all, I want to be where there are lots of professionals there to help in case something were to go wrong. Also, I don't plan on doing the whole labor and delivery thing naturally. I have a VERY low pain tolerance, and I would rather get an epidural and be more present in the moment when I am in labor. I don't want the pain to be so intense that I can't concentrate on what is going on around me. My friend from work had an epidural before her contractions started to get too painful, and she said she barely felt anything. She jokingly said it was like a vacation. For me, I would much rather have labor and delivery like that than just a red wall of horrific pain lasting for hours and hours. Because that's what I think it must feel like. Although I see nothing wrong with doing it naturally. It's just not for me.

3: Cloth diapering vs. disposable. Cloth diapering seems to be the thing to do right now! And it's obvious why: it is much more economical in the long run, and obviously a lot better for the environment. Not to mention, are they not the cutest little things? (Picture found here ).
Will I cloth diaper my children? The answer is, I don't know. I've thought about it, and it seems like a great idea. But I don't know if I'll have the organization or motivation to do it. This one is still up in the air. I will have to do more research on this one, and then somewhere down the line when buying diapers is in my somewhat immediate future, I will do a pros and cons post :-)

4: Baby wearing vs. umm...Not. (...what's the opposite of baby-wearing??) (Image from the Moby Wrap website, here)When I first heard about baby wearing about a year ago, I really didn't even know what that meant. I thought it was just a convenient way to hold your baby. But then I found out that there was a whole philosophy that goes behind it (attachment parenting), about how it makes your baby feel so much more nurtured and safe and close to the mother/father. Which ultimately aids in their development in a lot of areas. My personal thoughts about baby wearing? I absolutely can't wait to be able to do it! I think it's a great way to carry your baby around, without having to worry about carrying a heavy car seat, or pushing around a big stroller. I think I will be able to do things around the house, at the store, or at church much more easily if I wear my baby :-) However, I am not going to do it allll the time. I think it's good for a baby to learn to be independent, too, and to be able to interact with others. So yes, I will wear my baby sometimes. But mostly because of the convenience/bonding aspect. Not because I think it will truly help with his or her development more than NOT wearing him or her.

5: Stay-at-home vs. work outside home. Obviously I would love nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom someday. I think it is the best thing any parent can do for their children. However, I understand that in some instances, it is impossible. I will most likely have to find something to do part time or at home. I'll probably end up substitute teaching a few days a week, and possibly giving piano/flute/(very basic)violin lessons from our home. But I am passionate about spending more time with my family than anyplace else.

I'm sure there are more issues than that, but I think that's enough for one day! This was fun :-) I will probably be adding more Parenting Philosophy posts as the mood strikes me. I always say it is never too early to start planning and doing research.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Make a Wish!

Here are some things that made me smile today :-)

This morning I made zucchini bread. I took the vanilla out of the box, and here is what the lid said:
I made a colossal wish :-P I sure hope it comes true soon! Hehe...You can probably make a with on it too since I took a picture of it ;-)

The zucchini bread itself made me smile. And it made the entire house smell delicious!

And when I got home this afternoon, I guess I had left my dresser drawer half open. This sight made me smile as I walked into the bedroom:
Doesn't she look like she's such a joy? :-P I guess she doesn't like having her picture taken. I'm surprised she didn't break the drawer! But it sure made me laugh!

I hope you have found many reasons to smile today, too :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


These days, distractions are what are keeping me going. My car is broken and in the shop again. So I am car-less and stressed out about that. My body seems to be all out-of-whack for some reason, and I'm having several problems related to that. And I have one, giant problem staring me in the face, 24/7. And the hard part is that I can't tell you what it is. It would be easier if I could, because I'm sure you would all have all kinds of encouraging words for me. But for now, I will have to bear this alone, for the most part.

Anyway, because of all the aforementioned JUNK, if I don't keep myself busy and distracted, I could very easily drive myself CRAZY. Without these distractions, I could let my fears, doubts, anger, and depression creep in and completely take over. But I am not willing to raise my white flag and let that happen. I really believe that all of these things that I have found to distract myself are blessings sent from God. He knows what I need when I need it!

My first distraction has been friends this summer. I'm so glad I've had friends who have wanted to come hang out at my parents' pool with me for the day, or just come over and watch movies with me or talk to me. Not only that, but a few of them are going through really hard times in their lives as well. Spending time with them has helped me see that I am not the only one with problems! And it has been a good support system, building each other up. I am thankful for my friends this summer!

The second thing that has been a good distraction, is blogging. And especially reading blogs. When I'm at home and my thoughts are getting the better of me, I simply go online and READ. I guess it's like a crying baby who needs a pacifier. All of you bloggers are my pacifier, so I thank you for that!

Another good distraction has been spending time with my family doing fun things. Like when Luke and I went out on a date Friday night, or to the fair Saturday. Or how my mom invited me over to watch a movie on Sunday night, and then to go shopping with her yesterday. It's all time when I'm so busy with other things, I don't dwell on my problems.

And the last one, probably the only unhealthy one, is food! And I don't just mean eating food, but preparing it, too. Lately I have found it to be so therapeutic to turn up some good music and go to town chopping vegetables, mixing ingredients, and preparing a meal. As long as I do it with music, it completely drowns out my thoughts. And sharing a good meal with someone is always a good distraction too. Like yesterday when my mom and I had a delicious meal at Ruby Tuesday. I don't think I thought about my problems at all during that time

How could I be depressed while drinking this delicious peach tea?! Happiness in a glass. Please note that those are real chunks of peaches down at the bottom of my glass
Or eating this delicious quesadilla?! Yum. I know it's not healthy to drown your sorrows in food, but it helps :-P Okay, so maybe I'm an emotional eater.

I don't know if distractions are the best way to be dealing with the issues at hand, but I think it's much healthier than sitting around and constantly dwelling on them. Especially the BIG one. I was always really good at moping around and feeling sorry for myself when I was younger, and my parents worked really hard to teach me not to do that. So maybe that is why my life has become a quest to find distractions so I'm not always thinking about these situations.

Anyway, I am thankful for them. And I know the BEST distraction is finding someone to help or somewhere to serve. When we help others fix their problems, ours shrink in the process. So I'm working on finding a place to serve right now.

I praise God for all of the distractions he has brought into my life these past 7 weeks. And although I don't want to wish summer away, working 7 hours a day with my students will be a really big distraction. And I'm basically ready for that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Redneck Post: Pig Wrestling

I live in the country. I've mentioned that many times, but I think this post will prove it more than any post before.

Last night Luke and I spent the evening at Mile Branch Grange Fair. I'm not sure how this thing qualifies as a fair, because after about five minutes, Luke and I were done looking at everything. The only reason people go is to see the tractor pulls, or the pig wrestling contest. Can you guess which one we were there for last night?

If you said "Pig wresting," then you are correct. That's right. My husband and I paid $5 to enter this "fair," and watch groups of three people jump in a pool of mud with a little innocent pig, and try to pick that pig up and place it in a barrel.

Before I go any further here, let me explain that I didn't really know what I was getting into when I agreed to watch this event. I had only gone once before when I was a lot younger. I don't think I'll ever be able to go to something like this again, because I literally couldn't watch it. I have been told over and over by various people that it doesn't hurt the pigs. However, as I watched them being wrestled to the ground and picked up and dropped in the barrel, I wanted to cry! Most of the time I would watch for the first few seconds or so, and then just had to look away. So I am anti-pig-wrestling in case anyone wants to tell me I'm a bad person in the comment section!

Okay, I just wanted to clear that up. The main reason we went last night was because a bunch of our friends from church entered into the contest.

When we got to the fair, like I said, we walked around for about 5 minutes to see everything. The only cool thing were the old tractors on display
Just a little side note here...My camera is broken. It wouldn't zoom/focus correctly, and then before we left, it completely froze. So if these picture are blurry and out of focus that's why...

I snapped a picture of the poor little pigs before we found our seats. And yes, that pool of mud is where the actual pig wrestling took place. Eww. (but there is only one pig in there at a time during the contest).

We sat in the bleachers and listened to a band play some country music while we waited for the contest to start (Luke was not happy about that! He hates country music). And I admired the sky. It started out as a really beautiful evening. FINALLY at 8:00 we got things rolling. Luke and I sat with some friends, and I think the guys enjoyed it, but my cousin Sarah and I had trouble watching, like I said before. After a few groups had gone, the clouds started rolling in... (Check out the muddy guy who did a belly-flop right into the mud. Crazy.)
We were really afraid it was going to rain, so we got up and watched the rest from a wagon on the side. This meant that we were much further away and it was very hard to see. But I did end up getting a very blurry picture of this group...our friend Jordan from church is in there somewhere. I can't tell which one she is because of the blurrinessIn case you are wondering (as I was) this is how the pig wrestlers cleaned themselves off afterward:

That picture was one of the last ones I took before IT happened...the clouds burst open, resulting in a torrential downpour. I'm talking rain and hail, thunder and lightening. EVERYONE ran for the buildings. It was kind of fun hanging out in there with everyone! Once it let up a little bit, Luke and I grabbed each other's hand, and ran toward the car as fast as we could. It was not a short run, either! We had quite a long way to go. But I loved that moment! It was still pouring, but it had lightened up a bit and the grass was extra green. Every few seconds lightening would flash and thunder would boom, but Luke and I were holding hands and laughing as we splashed through the puddles and finally made it to his truck. To quote Brad Paisley, "I live for little moments like that." ;-)

So ANYWAY, even though the fair was LAME, I almost cried during the pig wrestling, my camera broke, and we got completely soaked, I had a fun night :-) I guess after the rain stopped they finished out the rest of the groups, and unfortunately most of our friends ended up getting their turn after we left. Oh well, I didn't really want to watch anymore pigs suffer, and I was glad to be in my nice, dry house in my pj's, watching a movie with Luke when we got home!

I hope you believe me when I say I am not a redneck! Haha...but once or twice a year I guess I partake in redneck activities.

Just wait until a month from now when I visit the Canfield Fair. Now that's a REAL fair! I'm super excited for that one!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Trying New Things

This post is actually going to be a mish-mash of lots of different things: The new things I've tried recently, our dinner last night, and an incredible movie I saw last night.

I haven't been much of a weekend blogger lately, but this morning I'm feelin' the itch :-) So here goes...

The other day I tackled another item on my 101 goals in 1,001 days list along with Sarah. I am lactose intolerant, so one of my list items was to try soy milk. Sarah was nice enough to pick up some Silk at the store the other day, and then she came over to be adventurous and try it with me. We had no idea there were so many different kinds and flavors! We chose vanilla. As you can see, the color is a little "off" from normal milk...
Here we are trying it out. Don't let the big smiles fool you. Simply put, we did not love it.
(Please do not mind my disheveled appearance. I was bummin' it that day. And pretty much every weekday now that I don't have to go to work. Only one month of that left!)

As we took our first few sips, we decided it reminded us of something, but we couldn't put our fingers on what, exactly. Then it hit Sarah like a ton of bricks as she shouted, "Maalox!" Yes, now that she mentioned it, I felt like I was drinking a glass full of Maalox. Eww.

We decided that soy milk is not for us. I think instead of spending money on soy milk, I will spend it instead on those little pills you can buy that help your body digest milk. Then I can enjoy all the milk with cereal, chocolate milk, or Steak and Shake Special Dark Milkshakes I want, without feeling like I'm going to die afterwards! (Those are three of my favorite things, and I don't want to give them up for soy milk).

And as if that were not enough, I tried a new vegetable this week too, compliments of Luke's parents' garden: kohlrabi.There it is sliced up and ready for us to enjoy with dinner last night. But this is what it looks like before you peel and slice it:I had personally never heard of this mystery vegetable before. It is similar to radish if you are also not familiar. I don't like radishes, but I did like this! So thank you, Tom and Patty :-)

We had a delicious dinner, almost all compliments to their garden last night. Kohlrabi, fresh green beans, and Parmesan chicken breasts (also my mother-in-law's recipe).
I knew it was good, because Luke went out and got seconds. I think I've only seen him do that a few times with the meals I've made: always with chicken stir fry or my parsley potatoes. I know it's taking me awhile to get the hang of this whole menu planning and cooking thing. But it feels good to know that after two years, I think I've at least improved a little bit :-)


Now onto the movie I saw last night: Inception. Wow. It was so good! I really didn't want to see it because I heard it was 2.5 hours long, and my attention span does not last that long during movies. But I was completely intrigued during the entire movie, and it didn't seem that long at all. The plot was just crazy. There was so much going on! There were so many layers to the story and it was so complex. But still easily understandable and not too confusing.

The ending was, in the words of my husband, "EPIC." really was incredible, and I will be thinking about that one for a long time. It left room for a sequel, but could also just end there. And in addition to all that, it was only rated PG-13. There wasn't much bad language (if I remember correctly), no real sexual content, and although it was violent, it wasn't overly graphic. It was a real thinker, and one of the best movies I've seen in a long time! The previews look weird, which almost made me not want to see it, but trust me, you don't want to miss it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

This Would be a Lot Less Weird...

I guess maybe I am still a child at heart. There are a lot of things that I love doing, but end up thinking to myself, "This would be a lot less weird if I had kids." Is anyone with me? ...I guess it's okay to be childlike. In the Bible it tells us we should be childlike in accepting Christ, after all! Life would be boring if we all acted grown up and serious all the time! I think as long as we are child-like, and don't cross over into immature, it is a good thing. Although, sometimes it's almost embarrassing and socially weird to enjoy some childlike things like I do!

Anyway, just for fun, here are a few of the things that I've done lately or want to do, that I've thought to myself, "This would be a lot less weird/more acceptable if I had a child with me."

1. Listening to Disney music on Pandora while I do housework. Please don't judge. brings me to a happy place, and makes cleaning much more fun! You should probably try it sometime ;-)
And while we're on the subject of Disney...

2. Watching Disney movies. I have been dying to see "The Princess and the Frog," but have been too embarrassed to rent it at Family Video! A child would make this a totally acceptable movie selection. Although I will probably eventually watch it anyway ;-) Oh, and I can't forget about how Luke and I went to see Toy Story 3, 3D and all, on our anniversary. Definitely would have been a little less embarrassing if we had had a child or two in tow!

3. Going to The Walt Disney World Resort. I want to go here more than anywhere else in the world (well, besides maybe Universal Studios Florida, to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. See? there's another one right there). I want to go now, just as badly as I wanted to go when I was 8.

4. Going to the zoo. I do this anyway, usually every other year or so. But I have to say, it is a little more fun when I get to go with a class full of third graders on their field trip.

5. The National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. It's just a few hours from where we live, and I have a few friends who have been there. It looks amazing. But again, I would feel a little weird there unless I was bringing someone under the age of 10 with me :-)

6. Reading the Harry Potter series. I am doing this right now, and am currently in the middle of The Prisoner of Askaban. I know the HP books can be controversial in the Christian community. I don't plan on letting my children read them when they are super young, but I think they are truly fun books if you give them a chance! Purely make-believe. I don't really see a child becoming interested in witchcraft from reading these books. I used to think they were "bad," until I had to read one for a children's lit. class in college. I guess I was literally judging a book by the cover and what I had heard about it. ha! But anyway, if you read them you will probably understand. I think it would be super fun to read through the books with my kids when they are old enough (probably when they are preteens). Anyway, I could go on about this forever, but I'll just leave it at this: I feel sort of funny enjoying them as much as I do at 25 years old!

So while I do indulge in most of these things now, it will feel more "normal" when I have kids. Which is part of the reason why I can't wait! Haha.

What kind of "childlike" things do those of you without kids let yourselves indulge in? I can't be the only one, right?!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


It has always been a goal of mine to visit all 50 states (51 if you count The District of Columbia) and experience something new and different in as many cities as possible in each one. I have not gotten very far in this goal yet. I've been to:

1. Ohio (umm...duh, I live here!) and visited Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Canton, Youngstown, Cincinnati, and Dayton. And LOTS more, but those are the biggest cities I can think of.

2. Michigan: Detroit and Dearborn

3. Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Seven Springs Ski Resort (umm not really in a city I guess)

4. New York: Niagara Falls and Jamestown (what is in Jamestown, NY you may ask? The I Love Lucy Museum! It was my favorite TV show growing up, and I went there with my cousins when I was about 13 ;-))

5. Kentucky: Cumberland Falls

6. District of Columbia: Washington, DC (The way I wrote that seems redundant).

7. Virginia: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Williamsburg

8. North Carolina: The Outer Banks

9. South Carolina: Myrtle Beach, Cherry Grove Beach, Charleston

10. Tennessee: Memphis, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg

11. Illinois: Chicago

12. Florida: Sanibel Island, St. Petersburg, Orlando

I've also been to various cities in Canada, Belize, and Guatemala.

So...around 30 cities or so, in 12 states, and 4 countries.

Hmm, not too bad I guess. If you look at a map (or if you just know your geography. ha!) you can tell that I've been on a lot of road trips, because most of these places are easily within driving distance (except maybe Florida. But I've made the trip by car/bus at least twice). But that's okay! Like I was saying last week, there are fun places to explore right around every corner in any city, anywhere.

All that to say that in a couple of weeks, I get to add another city/state to my list:

Baltimore, MD!
Technically I guess I was in Maryland when I went to DC, but I'm counting them separately. I am so excited! It is going to be a girls' roadtrip, and it is somewhat spur of the moment. I am so excited! Did I mention that? haha.

Why Baltimore? Because it is just a six hour drive from here and it just sounds like a fun place to visit on the harbor!

And I really wrote this post to ask if anyone has ever been there? Do you have any tips? What about places we absolutely can't miss? Thanks in advance for any and all advice you can give!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome to Reality

Knowing how out of hand my baby fever has become, my friend Sarah thought she would help give me a dose of reality. (Check out her blog!) I love it when friends know what we need better than we do! She invited me over to help baby-sit her 18-month-old nephew.

Sidenote: Sarah lives on a huge dairy farm, so it was fun to spend the evening there! I wish I had brought my camera, because it was so beautiful!

Anyway, I hung out with Sarah and her adorable little nephew for about four hours. She warned me beforehand how tiring it would be, but I guess I didn't get it until I really experienced it. I'm just not around toddlers, so I don't know how much energy they have, I guess!

Anyway, It was a busy few hours chasing Nicholas around, keeping him entertained, playing peek-a-boo, pushing him around in the wagon, and walking with him on top of the hay bales (which was surprisingly such a cool thing to do! I had never done it before as I have not spent much time around farms, but it was just fun. Except that I somehow very ungracefully fell as I was getting down from them. Luckily I don't think Sarah or Nick saw me!! haha).

Nick went from one thing to another very quickly, as all toddlers do. I had trouble keeping up. We had to constantly keep him entertained to keep him happy. It was physically tiring just holding him and chasing him around the yard. And it really was a big job! And Sarah's mom was there too, which made it a little easier. But wow, we were going, going, going, for four hours. And apparently Nick was in a better mood than normal, so it was actually a lot easier than normal.

I think it actually helped my baby fever a lot. Nick is sooo cute, but he really is a lot of work! Sometimes when I imagine myself with a baby, I don't see past the sweet little infant sleeping in my arms. I forget that they get bigger, and that it is NOT easy! So thanks so much, Sarah, for giving me a dose of reality last night! It made me a little more thankful for where I am in my life right now.

That being said, I still think the trade off will be totally worth it, and I don't think I'll ever wish to be back here once I do have that sleeping infant in my arms. Or even once I'm chasing around a rambunctious two-year-old! It's just something I want more than anything. But last night did make the waiting a whole lot easier. So thanks, Sarah!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekend Happenings

We had a pretty great weekend this past weekend. Here are 4 highlights:

1. Friday night Luke and I had a date night. We went out to dinner at Grinders because his parents had gotten us a gift card there for our anniversary. Then we went to the mall so Luke could buy some new shorts. In the whole Lebron debacle, Luke has been forced to burn and/or sell a lot of his wardrobe :-P When we were at a sports apparel store at the mall, they had these signs hanging around:

It says "Clearance LeGone apparel." Ha! We thought that was funny. And everything was around $4 or $5. I bet they are STILL having a terrible time selling it. I don't know anybody in the state of Ohio who would buy that! They better just ship that all down to Miami!

Anyway, on the way home from our date, the sky looked absolutely beautiful. It was full of pink, puffy clouds.
2. Saturday I spent most of the day at my parents' pool after a baby shower. It is always so relaxing. I think I've spent more time at the pool this year than in the past three years combined.

3. Saturday night at our church, we had a Princess Party for little girls 8 and under and their moms. There were crafts and snacks and each girl got to get her picture taken sitting on a little throne. And the main purpose of the evening was to show a new Veggie Tales movie geared toward little girls. (It will be released to the public on July 31, I believe!) I got to take pictures of the night, and it was so much fun! I think everyone had a great time, and I believe there were somewhere around 70 ladies there combined. I have to share a few pictures :-)

There were lots of sweet snacks there, most of them made by my my mother-in-law and sister-in-law...they did such a great job! I love the chocolate crowns in the cupcakes
More cute treats
We got all the little girls in their princess dresses to come on stage for a cute
And here is my cousin on stage...she pretty much headed it all up and put it all together

4. Yesterday, Sunday, was such a wonderful, relaxing day! After church I went over to my parents' for lunch. We sat around, ate, and talked for a long time. My aunt and grandma came over to spend the day with us, too. After lunch, some of us hung out in/around the pool for hours, eating melted M&Ms that had been sitting in the sun (Aunt Viv's favorite!) It was such a relaxing day, and I loved it! I think every Sunday should be spent like this, fellowshipping with friends and family.

I hope your weekend was blessed as well!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Food Network

Lately I have been unable to pull myself away from The Food Network in my spare time. I go through phases where The Food Network is like my drug. Right now is one of those times.

I don't care what's on that channel. I could turn it on any hour of the day or night and be completely mesmerized by what I see. (Well, except for those few hours every night when they show infomercials, but you know what I mean!)

I don't know if I just like watching people make such beautiful dishes in such a short amount of time. It is rather amazing. Or maybe it's because I feel like if I watch it enough, I will inevitably become a better cook. I mean, it couldn't hurt, right?

Either way, I can't stop watching. This will probably last for a few days until I've gotten my fix.

Anyway, I have to sign off now. I have to get back to watching Rachael Ray make a meal in 30 minutes. (Although if I were on speed like she seems to be, I could probably do what she does in 30 minutes too :-P)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday with a Dose of Honesty

I have never participated in Thankful Thursday before, but today I feel like I need to. I'm just going to be real here and say that I've really been struggling with envy A LOT lately. It seems like we go through different struggles based on where we are in our lives, and right now I seem to be in the season of envy. How ugly is that? I spend a lot of my time feeling resentful and wondering why God seems to be blessing everyone around me so abundantly and it feels like he is holding out on me. So I'm two years old then, right? :-P That's how I feel. As I wrote last week sometime, God is probably just working in me to teach me to trust Him. But it's hard to be in the midst of that sometimes.

So how do I combat this ever-encroaching envy? I dwell on things that are good. Hence my first ever thankful Thursday post. Here goes nothin':

1. I am thankful for long talks and text sessions with a somewhat new, but great friend. We are in different places in our lives, but feeling some of the same feelings, and it's nice to have someone who totally understands. You know who you are :-)

2. I am thankful for such a supportive family. And especially a mom who lately seems to be able to read my mind and has the perfect things to say at the perfect times.

3. I am thankful for my husband, and that we celebrated two years of marriage on Monday. I don't have enough great things to say about him.

4. I am thankful for Luke's family. As far as in-laws go, I pretty much hit the jackpot. It's been fun this week because he has family visiting from NC, so we've gotten to hang out with them a lot.

5. I am thankful for summer vacation. But also thankful that school starts in a month-and-a-half. I'm ready to be on a schedule again.

6. I'm thankful for a sunny day today so I can go weed my flower beds and lay out in the sun later.

7. I'm thankful that my little sister beat 6 other people out of the spot to an interior design internship which may turn into a job. (had to get that little brag in there! haha)

8. I'm thankful for fun plans this weekend, including photographing a princess party for little girls and their moms at our church. Seriously can't wait ;-)

9. I'm thankful for dinners made out on the grill, and delicious veggies to go with it.

10. I'm thankful for all of my blog friends. I love having friends scattered all around the US and beyond. Anyone who says you can't be friends with someone you haven't met face-to-face does not understand us ;-)

I feel more content already :-) Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Silly Dream

Lately I have had such a silly urge to travel. And not somewhere extravagant and out of the country. Although I certainly wouldn't mind going out of the country! No, instead I have been wanting to travel around the US, finding hidden gems in every city and town, and experiencing all the different subcultures and temperatures of each place.

If I could, I would love to buy a nice, big RV, pack up the bare necessities, and just hit the road. We could go wherever we feel like going, experiencing small towns, beautiful beaches, majestic landmarks, and big cities. It just sounds like so much fun to me!

I think there are so many places to see and things to do no matter where you go. In just the past couple months, we've experienced a lot of fun things just in Ohio and Western PA. We have gone to Cedar Point twice, and ridden some of the biggest, fastest rides in the world:
We traveled to Kelley's Island and saw a beautiful, breathtaking sunset.
We visited Cleveland for a fun baseball game with the city as the backdrop
And the other day we spent exactly 1 hour in Pittsburgh visiting IKEA. And bringing home these delicious Swedish Cookies that I showed yesterday

Traveling awakens all of your senses, and I never feel more alive than when I'm in a new or different place. And there are new things to experience right around the corner, very near home, wherever home might be for you. So I have decided I want to experience as many of them as I can!

There is a small chance that this urge to travel is a result of the fact that I can't keep my mind off of my problems right now. Getting out and trying new things is not just a good distraction, but it helps my problems seem so much smaller.

Hopefully I will be lining up a few more traveling adventures before the summer is over. I have one or two in the works right now.

Where is your favorite place to visit that is close to your home?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Anniversary Date

Luke and I celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary yesterday. We originally planned to celebrate on Sunday, but instead we ended up going to Cedar Point that day again since Luke has family visiting from out of state. A group of ten of us went, ant it ended up being sooo much fun, but sooo exhausting!

Anyway, back to our anniversary. Luke used his comp. time to take the day off on Monday. So we got to relax and sleep in. We got up late and headed out to see Toy Story 3 in 3D. Oh my goodness, it was such a great movie! We laughed so hard, and thought it was fun to see so many old toys we remember from childhood. And to be honest, I almost cried at the end! It was just great. I thought it was funny that when the first Toy Story came out, I think Luke and I were about the same age as Andy. And now we are 25/26 and Andy is 18. I told Luke I guess he aged much slower than we did. Ha!

After the movie, we headed to Chili's for lunch. I had a delicious Santa Fe chicken wrap, and we got free chips and salsa. I had not been to Chili's in a long time (years), and it seems like the menu has changed a lot. But it was still very good! It was our one and only meal of the day. I guess it really filled us up!

After Chili's was my favorite part of the day: a trip to Pittsburgh to visit IKEA! I love IKEA. I hadn't been there in a couple of years, so I felt like I was long overdue for a trip. Luke had never been there before, so I had fun bringing him for the first time :-) I don't think he enjoyed it quite as much as I did, but I think he still liked it! My favorite part was looking at the cute baby/kids stuff. I cannot wait until I have a nursery to decorate someday! Or rather, a reason to decorate a nursery someday. We also really enjoyed looking through the kitchens...I think that was Luke's favorite part. Which is funny, because he really doesn't spend very much time in that room. We found a few things we might keep in mind for later when we have a little more money saved up ;-)

In the end, we only ended up buying an egg slicer (I've wanted one for so long because of the insane amounts of egg salad I make. Egg salad sandwiches are my favorite thing to eat for lunch!) And these delicious Swedish cookies which cost way too much money. My mom always buys them every time we go, so I thought I'd keep the tradition going. Have you had them? I'm not even really sure what they are, but I LOOOVE them. They're very crispy and crunchy and chocolatey. Delicious!We would have probably spent a lot more time at IKEA, but Luke had to get back for softball games. So we hurried back, and Luke's team annihilated the other team in 5 innings both games. So it was a good evening!

Our anniversary was fun! I can't believe we've been married for two years already! But I can honestly say that it just keeps getting better and better, every single day. I feel so blessed that God brought Luke into my life six years ago, and even more blessed that I became his wife two year ago.

But the Best is Yet to Come


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Camera Talk

Yesterday I saw a commercial for the Olympus PEN camera. As much as I love taking pictures, I know absolutely nothing about cameras. I have a simple point and shoot camera, and for the most part, it serves me well. But I have been itching for a new, nicer camera.

About a month ago, I borrowed a Nikon D90 from a friend. It was my first experience with an SLR. I loved the pictures it took!
This one was taken with my p&s
And this one on the SLR

See? Huge difference! I know the lighting is different, but I think it still gives a good idea of the differences. Some people wonder why I want a nice camera, but when they see the difference in picture quality, they usually understand.

Now, I am not looking into becoming a pro photographer or anything like that. I don't have the knowledge or expertise for that. I just want to be able to take pictures of my children someday that look like the latter and not like the former picture. I mean, I hope my children don't look like animals, but you know what I mean ;-)

Anyway, the commercial about the Olympus PEN yesterday made me really interested. Apparently it is as simple as a p&s, but the quality of an slr. Simplicity is important to me, because like I said, I want to use it purely for my own personal use. I don't need anything too fancy. It also looks somewhat small to me, which is also something I want. It has to be easy to carry around, because I literally bring my camera everywhere with me. And the last thing I really like about it is that it is also a video camera. I've been wanting to buy a small video camera too before we have kids, and this way, I'd be killing two birds with one stone. Because I think the video camera is pretty good-quality on this thing. I'm not sure I buy that they shot the commercial with it, though...what do you think?

I don't know if this commercial is just sucking me in with it's pretty colors and scenery, or if this is really a good camera! Haha...I looked up the prices, and it is about in my price range. So it seems perfect.

I guess my question is, do any of you own this camera or know anything about it? If you were me, would you buy this? And do you know of any other dslr cameras that are more for amateurs and that aren't super fancy or huge?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice you can give me! Have a great Saturday! I will not be back until Tuesday, because we will be traveling all over the state this weekend :-D

Friday, July 9, 2010

Just Pulling the Knife out of my Back...

I don't know why I care.

Maybe it's because I've been with Luke for so long.

Maybe it's because I just don't like arrogant, selfish sports stars who are paid way too much.

Whatever the reason, I was MAD last night when I heard Lebron James's decision to join the Heat in Miami.

Lebron has lived in Akron his whole life, and has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the past 7 years. He started fresh out of high school (actually graduated the same year as me, just an hour or so down the road). He has a lot of talent, and really helped to build up the team.

Apparently his biggest dream was/is to win a championship. The Cavs have been close now for the past couple of years, but have choked in the end.

The weird thing is that as much as he wanted to win a championship, Lebron sure CHOKED in the playoffs this year. He played so bad it was almost like he wasn't even there. There was a lot of speculation, and some people think he blew it on purpose.

So last night when he decided to leave Cleveland, I felt a little betrayed. In my opinion, we would have won the championship this year if Lebron hadn't choked or quit trying or whatever he did. He would have even made more money if he had stayed in Cleveland. And now he has a whole city/state of fans here who really never want to see him again.

But that's not really the bad part. The bad part is that ha has been dragging out this decision for the entire summer so far. And he went on national TV, on an hour-long special, to make his decision. So for me it wasn't so much that he did this to us, but HOW he did this to us. This isn't just effecting the fans. It's going to effect the economy of Cleveland, an already tanking city. So sad...

I've actually never liked Lebron. I don't like that he calls himself "King James" and that he makes such a show at the beginning of each game. I don't like how arrogant he was during interviews during the games. So this not liking him is really nothing new. But now I really, really don't like him, because he betrayed us all on national TV. Not very classy, Lebron.

This morning, all of us in North-Eastern Ohio are collectively pulling the knives out of our backs. All we can do now is hope that the Cavs somehow miraculously beat the Heat next year.

At least our city is joining together over something! Even if it is burning jerseys :-P

Okay. End of vent. This is probably the last time I will ever devote a whole post to pro basketball or any other professional sport. You all probably don't care about this at all! haha but I couldn't not post about it this morning.

I guess we will see what happens from here! Now that this decision has been made, I'm actually wanting to watch The Cavs more than ever next year. I'm rooting for them, even if they are all a bunch of underdogs now!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pure Joy...?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
~James 1:2-4

Okay, so trials = pure joy according to the NIV? That is both frustrating and amazing at the same time. Frustrating because it means that we will inevitably face trials in our lives or else we will never have faith. Amazing because God can use the worst times in our lives for such good.

What a bold statement. Any type of trial we face should be considered pure joy. So if I lose my job, I am supposed to trade all my anxiety and upset for joy. Because obviously God has something better in store. If I have an illness, I am supposed to trade in my worry and pain for joy, because I know God will not give me more than I can handle. Or if something that is beyond my control is absolutely destroying me, and I so wish I could get past this thing and be able to see the whole picture, I am supposed to trade in my panic and heartbreak for joy. Because God is bringing me through this situation to build my patience and faith, and He will bring me through it.

That last one is me right now, and probably a lot of you, too. Patience has never been something I've been good at. However, it seems like my patience is being tested this summer. It would have been easier if it were happening during the school year, because all 24 hours of my day would be busy with work, housework, spending time with Luke, and sleeping. There would be plenty of distractions then, and this thing that is eating away at me would not be staring me in the face. all.the.time. But this thing started right when summer did, and I have a lot of time on my hands, all by myself. I spend my days working around the house, alone. No distractions. And on the contrary, these mundane tasks around the house and yard make my thoughts seem so much louder.

It has taken me about four weeks to realize that I am going through this for a reason. And as hard as it is, I should be happy about it. As much as it hurts, and as impatient as I am, God is using this to bring me closer to Him. He is in the middle of showing me that I can trust him with anything. Instead of constantly asking, "Why me? Why can't things come easy for me?" I should feel honored that the Lord is not just handing me everything on a silver platter. He wants me to grow and become closer to Him. He wants to build my testimony so that I can help others in the same situation someday. He is making me mature and complete.

He is doing the same for you. Our pastor always says there are three kinds of people: people who are in the middle of a troublesome situation right at this moment, those who just went through one, and those who are about to go through one. And that is because God wants to bless us. He wants us to experience pure joy.

Remember the last time you saw a rainbow? Did it take your breath away? I know I'm always in awe when I see one. In that moment, you realize the rain was TOTALLY worth it, because it brought you something so beautiful.

(Sorry to be so mysterious and not letting you know exactly what it is that I'm going through. Someday I will explain it all :-))

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Year 2: The Memories

I'm posting this as my Wedding Wednesday post this week, even though there are no wedding pictures here!

As I mentioned yesterday, our 2-year anniversary is coming up this Monday. Last year I really enjoyed listing my favorite memories from each month, and I've even gone back to that post a few times throughout the year just for fun, to remember some of the fun things we did the year before. So I thought, why not do it again for year 2? Although, it was admittedly probably a little less exciting than the first year! Although this year, I have added links to my memories for my own future reference...yes, I have too much time on my hands.

July 2009
- Celebrating our 1-year anniversary by going out to dinner and a movie. We ate our extremely dry year-old top layer of our wedding cake.
-Using our tent for the first time when we went camping for a weekend at Berlin Lake with friends.
-We went to town working on the landscaping of our house

Picture Memories:
Happy Anniversary to us! ;-)
The guys cooking during our camping trip

August 2009
- Luke had softball tournaments, and I had lots of fun making us picnic dinners and eating them at the park with him, and then watching him play in his softball games
-Spending a week-long vacation together with my family in Virginia Beach.
-Buying a new (to us) car.
Picture Memories:
One of our many picnic dinners
On our Virginia Beach Vacation
Our new VW Passat (which has given us way more trouble than it's worth! literally...)

September 2009
-Having our first OSU football game party of the season
-Bringing our second kitten, Ellie, home
Picture Memories:
Baby Ellie ;-)

October 2009
-Going to the Ohio State/Wisconsin game at The 'Shoe.
-Having our car break down and finding out the engine needed to be replaced (okay, not a highlight, but definitely a memory that really sticks out!)
-Helping out at the church while The Power Team was there. And spending every night that weekend at Applebees with our friends after the performances.
-Making our first trek to White House Fruit Farm for pumpkins and donuts
-Decorating a vehicle together for Trunk-or-Treat night at the church, and then spending the evening passing out candy there.
-Spending Halloween evening carving pumpkins and eating the roasted seeds
Picture Memories:
OSU/Wisconsin Game
At White House with our donuts
Our Trunk for Trunk-or-Treat night

November 2009
-I turned 25! I spent my birthday with my family.
-I got to go with Luke to Youth Explosion where Luke's band played for their biggest group yet.
-We decided to turn our Ohio State room into a nice living room, and started working on it.
-Spent Thanksgiving running around like crazy, going from one family gathering to the next.
-Bought our second real Christmas tree from Sanors, and set it up the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Picture Memories:
I'm 25!
Here we are at Youth Explosion, backstage with the famous people ;-)

December 2009
- Spent many nights Christmas shopping and looking at lights
-Attended our annual Christmas TSO concert
-Spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after, traveling all over Northeastern Ohio visiting family for Christmas.
-Rang in the new year with each other at a quiet gathering at my parents' house.

Picture Memories:
Our tree
Our Second Married Christmas Together

January 2010
-Spending lots of time shut in the house trying to stay warm and cozy together!
-Continuing to work on the attic room
-Having random date nights
Picture Memories:
Here is Luke on one of our date nights. This one consisted of shopping, dinner at Chick-fil-a, and Avatar in 3D.

February 2010
-Finishing the new living room in the attic
-Having a Super Bowl party at our house to break in the new room.
-Snowmageddon kept us pretty much confined to the house for a week or so. We had so much fun watching movies and just hanging out together. But the most fun was the Saturday we spent sled-riding and 4-wheeling at his parents' house!
-Spending our second married Valentines Day together having dinner at home, with delicious fondue for dessert.
Picture Memories:
New living room
Our day of fun in the snow during Snowmageddon ;-)

March 2010
-Helping together at 30 Hour Famine one weekend
-Going to another TSO Concert...their first spring concert
Picture Memories:

April 2010
-Once again, spent Easter Sunday running around visiting our families.
-Luke finished landscaping our house, and it now looks beautiful!
-Had a lovely drive-in date night
Picture Memories:
Easter Sunday

May 2010
- Luke turned 26, and we celebrated with our families.
- Had a fun weekend getaway to Cedar Point, shopping and a movie in Cleveland, and a Cleveland Indian's game on fireworks night.
Picture Memories:
Happy Birthday, Luke
Indian's game during our weekend getaway

June + a litte July, 2010
-Spending lots of time at softball games
-Grilling out on lazy summer evenings
-A spontaneous weekend trip to Kelley's Island for the 4th of July
-An early anniversary celebration with my parents and grandparents at Caffe Capri

Picture Memories:
One80 Softball game
Kelleys Island

Here's to many, many, many more years like this one! :-)