Monday, December 27, 2010

Blitz/Bliss

I could start this off by mentioning that we went through December faster than my family can go through a bag of Fritos... but decided you probably experienced your own holiday blitz/bliss.
This year was a fabulous mixture of new traditions and old. The weekend before Christmas we celebrated with D's family. It was two straight days of games, food, and gifts. I am so blessed to now have TWO families to celebrate with! We had a fabulous time and would all highly recommend the game "Buzz Word" to anyone searching for a new game. I joined in on the family attire and received my first piece of Ohio State gear. I'm proudly rocking it today.
I did make cookies with a friend who is also new to her neighborhood. We made our deliveries and both found success with project "meet the neighbors." I met people in 6 of the 8 houses on my street and ended up receiving return gifts of banana cookies, homemade salsa, and brownie bites. D informed me that this was the first year he has ever received something from his neighbors of two years. I think we've only cracked the ice on this "knowing your neighbors" thing and I am VERY excited about it.
At the advice of several friends, D and I made sure to take a day to try and establish our "own" Christmas. We had great intentions for December 22nd. We made an altered version of our waffle recipe (flour is the same as Bisquick, right?), read from an Advent devotion book, spent a few hours trying to return our yard to the green-less rock pile intended by the builders (I think I pulled a weed that was a foot tall), packed for Texas, payed bills, went out to eat Italian food, watched some Friday Night Lights, exchanged gifts with each other, and read "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" aloud. It was a special first Christmas with our little tree, weeding, Luke 2, the Dillon Panthers, and Aslan.
We flew to Texas on the 23rd and had a whirlwind weekend with my family. Highlights included:
-The Nutcracker at the Houston Ballet
-Playing: Scattergories, Pit, Racko, Buzz Word, Funglish, and What's Yours' Like?
-Watching Home Movies (Husband of the Year goes to...)
-Time with Cousins and Grandparents
-Honey Baked Ham, Peppermint Cheesecake, Ribs, Egg Casserole, Brie En Croute, Fancy Grilled Cheese :)
-Showing D A Christmas Story for the FIRST TIME!
-Watching Clay view the Cardinals/Cowboys game (as he pulled out his hair.)
-Watching Val receive her present from my folks...


-Having someone to fly with (I don't think this will ever get old.)
-Reading "Imperfect Birds" by Anne Lamott
-Singing "Silent Night" by candlelight with my husband and family in church and feeling as if my heart would burst.

I am so thankful for the many gifts of this season and for the King who has come!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Very Raffi Christmas

I don't think anything can compare to the Christmas memories we formed as children. For my siblings and I, that includes our Disney Christmas VHS tape, Sunday school Christmas programs, Advent devotions around the Christmas table with the whole family, special Christmas tree ornaments, helping Dad hang the lights on the house outside, and of course, Raffi.

We have a very worn cassette tape that got a lot of play in our minivan, and you only need to say "Old toy trains" and any of us will chime in with "little toy tracks, little toy drums, coming from a sack carried by a man dressed in white and red..."

This one goes out to the Morbys:


"...little one, don't you think it's time you were in bed?"

Oh, and also this one!


Can't forget this song!


Okay, that's it- I promise. :)

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories and traditions? Do you remember Raffi?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Something had to go.

Where did December go? 11 days until Christmas, 9 days until we fly to Texas, 4 days until Christmas celebrating with my wonderful in-laws...

I took a vote, and Christmas cards lost this year. So if you are checking your mail for something ridiculous from me - you won't find it. I made a list of priorities and sending cards didn't make it. (I'm really excited that meeting my neighbors under the ruse of delivering cookies is GOING TO HAPPEN! With recipes thanks to Food Loves Writing!)

So, instead - I've decided to go with the green version and post one here.

Repeat the Sounding Joy!
"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

What a year filled with adventure, hope, and love. This Christmas our prayer is that your homes and your hearts may be filled with good tidings of the greatest joy!

photo by Jane Zarzynski.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Stray Thoughts

Person with a motorcycle in my apartment complex who constantly fakes me out and makes me think there’s an open spot by the front! Stop that! Or I am really going to… shake my fist at you!!!
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2011 is shaping up to be the year of the musical- it’s still December and I already have tickets to see TWO shows, and the possibility of a third on the horizon! First up is the touring company of West Side Story in Houston with my parents in January. When Dad called to see if I’d want to go with them, I paused and said, “Is this a trick question??” I’ve been listening to this version of “America” on repeat ever since. It’s going to be good.

Second will be Legally Blonde, which is coming to TYLER in April! Tickets to that one come courtesy of my fantastic sister and dashing brother-in-law, who know me OH SO WELL. I can hardly wait. Finally, my friends have been talking for ages about getting out to Dallas for their summer musical series, so I have a feeling this will be the year we will actually DO IT. Bring it on, Broadway.
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If there wasn’t enough evidence that Ginger and I are both turning into our Dad, lately I have been listening to more and more classical and pops music on my satellite radio. A lot of other music that’s currently playing ad nauseum on the radio just drives me crazy! Classical just tends to consistantly be a better option.
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This week in movie club we watched “Treasure Planet,” an animated film that has grown on me more and more since watching it when it first came out. Amazing score, incredible visuals, and an outstanding voice cast- what more could you want?? Read more of my thoughts here.
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Don’t forget to check out Ginger’s friend Carey’s blog. I subscribe through Google Reader and am always blown away by her creative craftiness. I am way too intimidated to try out most of this stuff (my Mom is the first to admit she didn’t have a crafty gene to pass on to us!), but I know several of you reading would get a kick out of her fun ideas like Christmas crayons and ornament wreaths. Click here to check out her holiday giveaway!
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And finally, apropos of nothing but Christmas, enjoy a little winter fairytale that my siblings and I have enjoyed every year in December for as long as I can remember!

Give Joy

Quick post to alert you to some absolutely free giveaways! One of my dear friends is hosting a blog drawing for three separate Christmas goodies this week. Head to her blog, check out the details, leave a comment and win yourself some Holiday cheer!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love is.


I have a confession. I have a bit of an anger problem... and a worry problem... and a fear issue... and a sensitivity button...

And it all seems to come out when I least expect it.

When one would expect frustration: driving, in lines of stores, forgetting to pull something that should not have gone in the dryer, walking away from the oven and having your food burn.

When one would expect worry: sick family members, someone being an hour late, thinking a bill payment didn't go through.

When I should worry: Never.

Darn you, Sermon on the Mount.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6:25-27

Our church is walking through the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 - exploring what it means for Jesus to be: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. I left service yesterday meditating on our Mighty God.

"Jesus' mighty power should radically shape my day-to-day life." - Scott Brown

Meaning - either Jesus is more powerful than my worries, fears, or frustrations... or He isn't. The way I live my day proves what I believe about his power.

I talked through this aloud with David in the car on the way to finish up some shopping. I was frustrated... frustrated that I spend time in the Word, read my Advent book, pray for friends... and still end up so royally screwing this up.

D was quick to remind me that God desires my heart more than anything else and that I can't tackle each day with the hope of perfection... only the hope of dependence.

So here's the game plan... I'm focusing on 1 Corinthians 13 this Advent. (D asked when the wedding was taking place.) One word per day. Yesterday the focus was love is PATIENT. How perfect for spending the afternoon at a crowded mall. I was amazed at my response to the long lines and ordinary scenarios that would have ordinarily left me completely frustrated.

Living and believing I have a Mighty God just by being patient sounds like a really small thing - but can I tell you that I made friends with the cashier at Bed, Bath & Beyond? A cashier we have interacted with for the past months as we worked with our registry... who ordinarily tests my patience...

Today the word is KIND. I'm working in a coffee shop and am trying to remember to give smiles readily and open doors for others as I prepare my heart for the coming of the King.

"Lo this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." Isaiah 25:9

(*For the record, love is not sending me a clipping from the cartoon "Love Is...")
(*And also - that ornament... circa 3 year-old preschool. I've always been really good with glitter.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You're a Mean One

I absolutely love Christmas music. It takes everything in me to wait until after Thanksgiving so I can start playing my hundreds of collected Christmas songs. But certain ones that cross my path on the radio or in department stores have no right to call themselves Christmas music- they are just that terrible.

These songs are somehow all the worse because they portend to be full of Christmas cheer, when in reality they really just make you want to stuff gingerbread in your ears so you never have to hear those songs (or really any sound at all) ever again. Quite the opposite of the Christmas spirit.

These songs are different for everyone. For me, the non-negotiable songs that I will not subject myself to at any time are as follows.

The Christmas Shoes: Just when you think this song can’t get any more sappy and insufferable, the children’s choir starts in. Shudder.

Wonderful Christmastime: The chorus tends to endlessly reverberate in my ear drums after I've heard this song… “Simply having a wonderful Christmastime! Simply having a wonderful Christmastime!” GAH!

Little Drummer Boy: Whenever I hear some pop star singing “pa rum pa pum pum” in a faux-sincere voice, my hand can’t hit the “off” button fast enough.

My Grown-Up Christmas List: "What is this illusion called the innocence of youth / Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth" Can’t… stop… gagging….

Where are You, Christmas?: You want to know where Christmas is? It's hiding from this terrible song.


Call me Grinch if you want to, but you know there's at least a few Christmas songs you absolutely can't stand. Let me know in the comments!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grateful


2010 brings with it a multitude of thanks, but this November I am especially grateful for:

Training. Even though I often despise it - I'm thankful for the health and ability to run.
Home. I now have a permanent residence... both now and in the life to come.
Abundance of friendships - both new and old.
New creative opportunities. (More on this topic in 2011.)
King that is coming... the Advent season is upon us!
Family - that doubled over the year!
Unbelievably wonderful husband. (Have I mentioned I love this man?)
Life. Rejoicing with those who rejoice this year and remembering those who grieve this holiday season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

This year, I am extremely thankful for:

The changing fall colors of East Texas. It really has been more breathtaking than usual this year, and I've been trying to soak in all of this natural beauty!

Good water pressure in my shower at my apartment. Seriously, not matter where I go, I can find no other shower that can come close to the fire hose-like tendencies of mine at home. Talk about blessings!

A group of friends that not only agreed to spend their Monday nights watching episodes of "Veronica Mars" bit by bit, but also genuinely enjoy it. I don't take their agreeable natures or their laughter as we watch the show for granted! This group makes Mondays all the more bearable.

V8 Fruit Fusion, because how else would I get soooo many of my fruits and veggies? Certain flavors are actually really tasty- I'm lookin' at you, Peach Mango.

A job that means something, where I do something that I'm really enjoying learning about that is a truly enviable job skill. AND I get to work with a bunch of my friends. AND I have my own office. AND I get to run our company Facebook Page! Can I get a holla?

My tall brown clogs that go with everything and look especially fantastic with a pair of jeans. And they've got quite a lift to them as well- you know, for when 5'8" just isn't tall enough.

Family, OF COURSE-- what else could I end with? Seriously though, I never tire of laughing with my entire family, and couldn't imagine being part of one that I didn't genuinely enjoy being around. We have good times. :)

Happy Thanksgiving, Blog Friends!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"WE HAVE TO GO BACK!"

D and I went to an island for our Honeymoon. Question: why doesn't the continuing "honeymoon phase" also come with an island?

Ok. Just a few snippets.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Book

My heart is exploding right now, because I am reading something extraordinarily wonderful for the first time in far too long.

The Book. (No, not that one.)

Background: I was ridiculously close to my roommates in college. Like, RIDICULOUSLY. I know I’ve alluded to it on here before, but I don’t think you realize the full extent of it. Julie, Dani, Kisha, and myself were friends ALL FOUR years of college, and lived together for a huge chunk of that time, including two years at our lovely little rent house dubbed "House 9." Also including our semester spent in Oxford, England. And if living in a foreign country with your BFF’s doesn’t bring you closer, I don’t know what will. (It’s either that or kill each other, and we very nearly did that too… (aside to the roommates: Camping Fusina. Am I right or am I right?))

At the end of our four years together, we had far too many inside jokes, stories, and tidbits about the people we had come across to ever hope to remember. We never wanted to forget and not be able to remember. So while they were still fresh in our brains, we wrote them down.* And put them in a book.

It’s 150 pages long.

Reading through it now, I know this is quality stuff, and honestly, it's not all inside jokes or things you wouldn't get! I think you'd like this even if you didn't know us. :)

There are sections on…
The Stars of the Show
Supporting Cast
House 9 Culture
Appendices

Etc.

The Supporting Cast is the people we came across, written in glossary style entries, complete with cross references. For instance…

John Doe**: aka Mystery Man, who Julie stalked from afar for a couple years. A design major who resembles the child of Lex Luthor and Shawn Hunter. His hotness is so overwhelming that Julie almost forgot that she had a boyfriend at the Graceland Too volleyball game in 2005.

James Smith: aka Magic James, who Valerie, Julie, & Kisha loved and hung out with for a chunk of sophomore year. James does cool magic tricks and once stole a squeegee from a Shell Station. He is friends with Robert Thomas and Richard Jones.

Guy Peterson: Famous for voluntarily sporting a very Brokeback looking GAP sweater around his shoulders during pledging his sophomore year. He is also Jane Smith’s celebrity crush. (Ex: at the grocery store…)
Guy: Hey! What are you guys doing?
Jane: Um… juice.
Val: We’re buying juice.

Joey: Handsome and adventurous descendant of Italian gypsies and Mexican Vaqueros with a political mind and a sensitive stomach. Boey fixes things at Houst 9 without being asked, writes magnificent blog entries, has been known to tame a mountain bike or two, and is half the reason why everyone in House 9 adores the Britney Spears song, Toxic.

David: Brother of House 9 who has been Supreme Chancellor of Christmas Decorations and basically one of our favorite people ever since Fall of 2004. D-Pok is the best, most responsible driver in Abilene and guards House 9 with an iron fist and an arsenal of airguns. When necessary, he can maintain a pretty fierce what-what face, and also has more cool points than anyone on record. D-Pok is engaged to Stephanie.

Lara: The baby and our 5th roommate. Truly one of the most creative and unique and awesome people you'll ever meet. Loves Ramen and stopped shaving her legs in 2004. (Umm... as of 2006.)

Katie: An English major, awesome scarf maker, other 5th roommate, realist, and Oxford junkie in every way you can be.

Jill West: ACU poster girl with big hair, perfect boobs, and a beautiful voice. Much to Kisha’s chagrin, she once washed her sweaters one at a time in the Gardner laundry room.

Bottom line: if you crossed our path in college, YOU are in this book!

We kept track of the sororities and fraternities (“Famous for being bubbly and sparkly, wearing yellow, and always winning SingSong.”), popular songs sung at chapel, broken down by category (ie “Chapel songs that you have to sing standing up or you’re a bad Christian…”), memorable professors, and landmark House 9 events, and so much more.

There’s a section on who we’d be if we were _______, such as cars, office supplies, Disney princesses, or characters in "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants."

There are yearbook awards (Dani: Most likely to never have her electricity shut off because she didn’t pay a bill) (Val: Most likely to marry a man with really nice teeth and a polo shirt), nicknames, and pages upon PAGES of general House 9 memories (The Fusina debacle- all of it, but particularly the morning from hell where Julie tried to by Macguyver and use pretend sign language to communicate with a man who only spoke Italian, and Dani, speaking of the pay phone, said, “I’m sure I can figure it out, it’s not like Julie’s a genius!”)

We scanned in notes we passed in class, the box art for our “favorite movie,” and an extremely sexist flyer: “Women of ACU, serve your campus by inviting young men to these free events!” Mocking. SO much mocking. (Jaded? Me?)

There are heartfelt emails, things we love about each other, and so, so much more. Someone should seriously publish this thing, because it's absolutely real, strangely intriguing, and frankly, hilarious.

It's a book that means so, so much to me, and I wish I had one of these things for every stage of my life. Not many people have such amazing catalogs of... memories they can just literally flip to whenever they want.

I can't believe I do.

*Actually, Julie did about 95% of the writing and ALL of the design/layout/printing, so infinite hats off to her!
**Most names changed to protect the (mostly) innocent!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Behind the times.

I've always been ok with being a bit behind the rest of the culture curve.

I modeled my wardrobe after a cousin who was four years older than me. Only problem with that - I generally wore clothing that was in style 4-5 years prior.

I happen to be wearing a hand me down shirt from that cousin today. Not a big deal, right? I'm pretty sure I pulled it out of a bag of clothes in 1995 and I've been wearing it proudly ever since. I've also been informed that she was not the first owner of this shirt. Oh yeah.
I'm catching up after 2 years of no fiction reading and a year of no T.V. outside of LOST. Here's what I've discovered...

1. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS = AWESOME. We've watched six episodes of season one in the past week. We casually ask each other if maybe we could just do one more... who needs sleep?

2. "The Outsiders" by NEEDTOBREATH = Toe-tapping goodness. Loving this album. I've been listening to it nonstop while I write.

3. MATT COSTA = Good listening. My good friend Whitney brought me roughly 20 cds when she came out for the wedding. She informed me that it was all music I SHOULD know... but didn't. She was right.

4. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson= good beach read. This was the only book I read on the honeymoon. It was intense and made my head swim with information about Swedish business journalism. Not a "must read" in my opinion, but definitely intriguing. I will be reading the rest of the books in the trilogy.

5. Training for a 1/2 Marathon = ask me in three weeks. D and I are training for a January 1/2 marathon. I've never run more than a 10k in my whole life. D has run 2 previous 1/2 marathons. We are on a training program that adds one mile a week. This weekend we hit four miles. It was fine. In three weeks we will hit 7 miles. Ask me how much I hate it then.

6. Cooking pork chops = intimidating. I'm trying this out tonight. I've only cooked NEW recipes since coming back from vacation. So far almost everything has been a success. Tonight: pork chops with cider glaze. I can do this.

7. Recognizing that I'm really emotional = annoying. Imagine the conversation in which I admit to my husband that I am much more of a girl than I thought possible. I think I still pictured myself as the tomboy that I tried to present in 6th grade.

8. Taking a giant leap of faith = exhilarating and terrifying. I'm taking steps towards making my lifelong dreams a reality. Confession: it's harder than I thought it was going to be. I am easily frustrated. I don't like having an ambiguous due date. Basically I'm not a fan of only having to be accountable to myself for this. I would like a manager asking me what I've accomplished and guiding me along the way. Instead, I have me. Why am I not a good personal manager? I doubt that I can do this. I doubt my abilities. I doubt my drive. I question my motives.

But I'm going to keep at it. Time to play catch up on completing this project.

"Our value is not dependent on our ability to earn the fickle acceptance of people, but rather, its true source is the love and acceptance of God." - Robert S. McGee

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Casablanca en Mexico

My parents and sister and I were in Mexico a year ago this month. And I was just thinking/remembering/dreaming about this most magical moment, when I found "Casablanca" being projected onto the side of a building. I couldn't hear the dialogue from street level, but the most unlikely music serenaded the moment, and it just... fit! Who would have thought that the faint strains of mariachi music would be the perfect and unexpected soundtrack?

I happened upon the entire scene quite by accident, and stood transfixed for far too long.

An old movie playing outside? On a building? In Mexico? Accompanied by mariachi music? I am just not aware that life gets much better than that.

Sometimes its just nice to stop and remember the unexpected fun/magical/perfect moments we are blessed with.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving at the speed of really good.

Life is flying. In the past month I ended a chapter of employment with a great church, moved across town, celebrated with family and friends, married my best friend, and then went on vacation for two weeks.
It's a lot of change. I'm adjusting to a writing schedule, a 1/2 marathon training schedule, meal planning, attending church on Sundays and living with a boy. I changed my name last week and now have the new Social Security card and Drivers License to prove it. I picked up a library card, a credit card, and a dining room table. I don't really know what to say. It's good. Really good. And at times I feel guilty because it's good.

Some of my favorite people in the world are going through really crappy times right now. So I pray. I pray by myself in the shower in the morning and with my husband before bed at night. I pray in the car on my way to write at a local coffee shop and in the aisles of the grocery store. The prayer is that His good would be done... even if it looks different than the good that we thought that we wanted.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." Romans 8:28-29, NIV

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Titles Are Hard

I am a huge fan of Arrested Development and Extras. The Office is one of my all-time favorite shows. I think that Community is the best series currently on the air.

I don’t think my taste in comedic television should be called into question.

That being said, I not only think that Cougar Town is one of the funniest shows on TV right now, but I also think that YOU should be watching it.

Plagued by a terrible name and a premise completely ditched during the first season, Cougar Town is now simply about a group of friends in their thirties and forties who hang out, talk, and… that’s about it. Oh, also? Be hilarious. That’s what they do. They be hilarious.

In the first line of their review of this week’s episode, New York magazine said, “Cougar Town may have an unfortunate name, but it has become a truly wonderful, hilarious television show that everyone who likes funny TV shows should be watching.”

See??? Even New York magazine agrees with me!

Still not convinced? Okay then, consider this. The creator of the show also created a little show I like to call SCRUBS. Yep, the one and only Bill Lawrence created Cougar Town right on the heals of Scrubs.

Lawrence has had a lot to say about his regret about the original premise and title of the show. He admitted in an interview that: “We gave the show a title that not only is horrible but that, for someone who hasn't checked out the show, it's a title that says to them what the show is — even though it isn't.”

He also told Entertainment Weekly, “It might be the worst titled show of all time.”

It’s actually become a great recurring joke, and above the title on each week’s credits is a small joke that’s a fun little wink at the now well-known title gaff, like “Titles Are Hard,” "Badly Titled, or “100% Cougar Free.”

Still still not convinced? Consider the cast, which in addition to Courtney Cox includes Busy Phillips (Kim Kelly on “Freaks and Geeks”) and Christa Miller (Jordan on “Scrubs” and Kate on “The Drew Carey Show”). You’d probably recognize a lot of the rest of the cast too, and again- they’re all hilarious.

If you don't take my advice and at least try just one episode, consider the fact that you're missing out on the show that brought us the truth gun, penny can, "Slap out of it!", and the homage to a certain movie in this week's episode:




Boom. Roasted.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Other Side


After the planning, the prepping, the dreaming, the praying, the vow exchanging, the dance partying, the picture taking, and the adventure memory making...

Mr. & Mrs. and back to the real world.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wedding Recap

Ginger got married.

There are... no words.

So instead, I put together this video about my weekend trip to Phoenix for Ginger and David's (GORGEOUS) wedding!

Enjoy....


The Wedding Trip from Val Mae on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

By Tomorrow

This blog is written and shared by two sisters.


By tomorrow, one of those sisters will be married.

One half of this blog will be part of a new half forever.

(And ever.)

(Amen.)

I couldn’t be happier.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And so it begins.


Big weekend.
Yep.
See you on the flip side... the side where my name changes.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Using My Daily Allotment of Exclamation Points All in One Place

By this time tomorrow, I will be IN PHOENIX.

ARIZONA.

For GINGER’S WEDDING.

And I am SO EXCITED!!1!!!!1eleven

I am unbelievably happy that the trip is finally here! And I am so ecstatic for GINGER! GAH! MARRIAGE!!! WEDDING! FAMILY!! FRIENDS!!!

This is going to be. So much fun.

The wedding and trip have been taking up more and more of my brain power the closer it has gotten. At work it’s all—internety stuff! weddingweddingwedding Meetings! weddingweddingwedding Big emails! weddingweddingwedding WEDDING!!!!

I’ve been on the phone with the bride nearly every day, and with my mom SEVERAL times a day. I’ve been in constant communication with other bridesmaids and friends flying in. Joey even helped me Facebook-stalk the best man so I could send him a message! ZING!

Even as you read this blog entry, I am on the first leg of the trip,* driving to Houston and staying the night with my parents, so that in the morning the three of us can hit the airport and actually get to Phoenix!!!!

*(Thank you, blog scheduling gnomes, for making this blog possible.)

Ginger's getting married.

**Squeal!**

WEDDINGWEDDINGWEDDINGWEDDINGWEDDING!

Sigh.

See you on the other side….

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Red Shoes

Yesterday was my last day at work. It's not a leave of absence or a vacation. I'm leaving the job I've had since moving to Arizona four years ago next month. I'm moving to the other side of the city to be with my (almost) husband. We figured that once we were hitched it might be nice to live in the same house. The commute to my old job would have been at least an hour each way and up to two hours in traffic. It wasn't practical. But that doesn't mean I won't miss the people and the place terribly... because I will. I was showered with love and kind words (and incredible food) all day yesterday. These are the co-workers who became my friends and then became my family out here in the desert.

While change brings grief it also brings... well... change. New church. New friends. New creative opportunities. New home.

Can I brag on the man who will become my husband in 9 days? He came home from work late after a long meeting and still insisted on taking me out to dinner. When we returned home he casually handed me a box from Amazon and said, "Sorry. I accidentally opened it and I think it's for you." I opened it and found a card with LOTS of words! (My true love language) In it D thanked me for all the sacrifices I am making to be with him - and his pledge for us to see my friends often and to help me adjust to all the changes in whatever ways I needed.

If that wasn't enough... below the card I found a box... that held these:
Yes, the shoes are super cute and a pair that I've been eyeing for months. But more than anything these shoes remind me that we are in this change TOGETHER.

New page. New chapter.

And for the WIN: A man who is always finding new ways to show me love.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pal

Hey blog world, what up. What’d you do for lunch today? Oh, really? That’s cool, I guess. What did I do? Oh, not much. You know, just WENT OUT TO LUNCH WITH MY AWESOME MISSIONARY FRIEND AMANDA.




BAM.

What up NOW, blog world?

Let me tell you something about my pal Amanda. God most definitely knew what He was doing when He put her in my life. Amanda is one of the sunniest and most sparkling people that I have ever been around. I met her nearly three years ago when I first started working at my current job, but we didn’t become “besties” until a fateful trip to Six Flags.

Even though Six Flags is ALWAYS super fun, for me the best part of that particular trip was actually the drive home. Amanda drove our group, I provided the tunes, and we just clicked. Song after song, musical after musical, Amanda knew every. Last. Word. Moulin Rouge, Oklahoma, Chicago, and everything in between. We sang our hearts out to every musical you can imagine. But the best moment came at the verrrry end of the trip, when it was just the two of us in the car. And a certain song came on, and I started apologizing for the randomness even as I reached to skip it. That’s when SHE STARTED SINGING ALONG.

To this.









I know. I nearly died too.

After that it was OVER for us. We bonded over our love of musicals, our love of FUN, and our love of anything and everything CHEESY, including Glee, Twilight, High School Musical, you name it.

She constantly left sweet notes for me on my desk at work (notes that I saved and still have even in my new office!) and did fun things like call me and leave voicemails with her singing at the top of her lungs just to make me laugh.

Amanda and I also both LOVE to dress up in costume and, of course, DECORATE! Here we are last Halloween-- Veruca Salt vs. the pirate:















We LOVE going to midnight movies together! Here we are at the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last year:












Amanda is also an incredibly Christ-like woman, and last December she and her husband Shaun heard the Lord’s calling and packed up their lives and headed to Peru to be missionaries! They are so faithful to follow where He has led them, and I am constantly encouraged by their obedience and love for their Savior.

It was incredibly hard for me to watch her leave, but thankfully Amanda is a big time BLOGGER and also stays in touch over Facebook. And while I know she is where she needs to be, I still miss her loads every day! Even my college roommate knows how close I am to Amanda, and soon after A first moved we were talking on the phone she said, “So I know Amanda left… how are you doing?”

This past May Amanda made a SURPRISE visit back to the states and nearly gave me a heart attack when she popped up to give me the shock of my life! Apparently all I did was scream and not breathe for a while, and made her think I was going to pass out. Awesome.

Of course I wasn’t able to decorate for Amanda’s birthday this July like I did last year (a musical theme of course!), so instead I was able to get this little birthday box in the mail for her that included some American necessities, sure, but also some non-essential fun, like Twilight bracelets and a Twilight card game. Huzzah!!!



















And she arranged to have a PINK LLAMA show up for mine, not to mention a SECRET MESSAGE in CODE. What more could a girl want???? OMG. Loved it.















I am so grateful that I got to have some one-on-one time with my pal today. She is one of the easiest people to talk to, and I always find that conversation with her makes the time go by in a FLASH. I am always able to lose all the pretenses with my fun friend and just be real and share things with her that I have not been able to share with many people. She is definitely a “haven” friend! I'll be sad to see her return to Peru again, but am blessed to have gotten time to hug her neck while she spent time in Texas.

I love you SO MUCH, Pal!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

His Good.


I'm not technically supposed to be posting again, but I couldn't just leave things as they were. Things really do look better in the morning. Once again... hope comes to the rescue and won't let me wallow any more. As you take on the day and the challenges that await - may you have hope in knowing that THIS day His compassions are new for you.

1 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."

25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3

My bad.

me: shoot!
Valerie: but i like it!
me: it's my turn to post!
totally forgot!!
i've been waiting
Valerie: haha
yep
lol no way!
thats too funny
me: i will do that tonight!! my bad
Valerie: no prob :)

And here I sit... "tonight" with nothing to say.

Other things that are my bad: being selfish, crying on the phone with D twice today, not taking a shower, worrying rather than trusting, eating Mexican food for dinner and not having any leftovers to go into a box when the waiter came with the check, wearing frustration on my face for far too long, acting like I'm bi-polar, forgetting to be thankful... need I go on?

Thank the Lord that tomorrow is INDEED, another day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This: That

Ginger’s wedding: Is in 25 days!

Meant to type: BOO.

Actually typed: Something closer to BOOB. (Luckily this was just to G.)

This week in movie club: Terminator 2. Our take.

You don’t have to come and confess: We lookin’ for you.

God is good: All the time.

All the time: God is good.

Life as We Know It”: Who is going to see that movie??

Can’t wait for: Amanda to come visit all the way from PERU!!!

Song I am currently loving: 15 Minutes, by The Yeah You’s.

The ocean: Is calling my name. (It’s beach time!)

Finally joined: Twitter. Finally.

Seriously: 25 days.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The latest and they happen to be the greatest...

-We are getting gussied up and going to THIS tonight. It's a theater awards show. I might be up for something. I'll let you know the verdict.

-I am happy to report that there have been ZERO breakdowns in the past week! Thanks for the encouragement.

-I WON a drawing! This almost never happens. I love my little blog world.

-TWO fabulous showers this weekend. I am so blessed to have such loving friends and family.
-You know when radio stations say "caller number 9 wins"? Apparently they mean it. David called in on Sunday afternoon and we won tickets to a small Natasha Beddingfield concert. So maybe we had to google her to remind ourselves if we knew another song other than "Unwritten" - turns out we know one other.

-This week: speaking at a "Christian Club on Campus," meeting up with students on Wednesday morning at 6:45am for "See You at The Pole," and lots of little things to accomplish.

Seacrest, out.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Armed and Rangerous

"36 Hours till Daybreak"
Installment #3 in this thrilling short story
by an 8th grade me
(Start with parts one and two and get caught up.)

New York, 6:30pm

"Blair?"

"Oh yeah, hi Kurt!"

"Sorry to call again but this was an emergency."

"What is it?"

"David Bradley is dead."

"Dead?"

"Yeah. It looks like he was shot while he was starting his car."

"What a way to go."

"Talk about it."

"Well anyways, I wanted to let you know that I might be a little bit late coming home."

"How late?"

"Maybe another week."

"Blair, you know I need you back here to present the story that you did over the air in the subway."

"Get someone else to introduce it."

"Darnit Blair. Carol is on her honeymoon, Jerry already has three stories at once, and Angela... well you know..."

"Yeah I know. Look, I'll do my best to get back by Saturday and you, in the meantime, should look for a sub."

"Okay."

"Well, I need to get outta this house."

"What? You're at Bradley's house??"

"Apparently I was the last person to speak to him, so the police want me around for a while."

"You're not a suspect are you?"

"Heck no. I'm just... here."

"Blair?"

"Nothing. Oh, by the way. Call Nick for me and tell him I won't be able to make it to the marriage counselor on Friday."

"What? You can't call your own husband?"

"I don't need this from you Kurt! Bye."

"Blaire!"

"What?"

"Be careful."

"Good-bye."

Blaire got off the phone feeling very guilty. Her marriage was on the rocks and she couldn't even call her husband. "I am such a coward! It's not that I don't love him, I do... we just are too strong-willed for each other's own good," she thought. When they were first married life was fine. Nick had his job at the college and she was an anchor woman for channel 6. That was in Connecticut. Then she had a miscarriage and Nick decided to go back to school, and they saw less and less of each other. Blair got a job with ABC on Nationwide as a reporter in New York. She had a two hour commute to work. But now she and Nick had been separated for two years.

Her story was her life... but now with David Bradley's death her ticket to the top had been stolen from her. And from what the chief had told her, Blair was beginning to conclude that this murder had something to do with her. Blair was the only one in the house. It was beautiful. Now she had a chance to view it at its full. She had called Kurt while she had been sitting on a white leather couch. The hand of a decorator had graced the walls with flower arrangements and black and white pictures. Rugs lay across the white tile floor. A friendly portrait of the family sat over the fireplace. "Now their world is shattered," thought Blair.

Blair knew she should tell the police everything, but then there would be the risk of her story leaking to the press. She yawned and glanced at her watch - it was almost 7:00 and she was hungry. Maybe tomorrow she would tell Chief Conol.

"Mrs. Stevens," the young sargeant called. "You have a phone call."

"On the Bradley's line?"

"Yes."

Blair walked back into a bedroom where the second line of the house was.

"Hello?"

"Yes. Blair."

"Yes, who is this?"

"I think you know!"

Suddenly the line broke and Blair was left with her fears and a dial tone. It was 6:58pm.

* * * *
Wowsas. I know I can't wait to find out what other things innanimate objects can do. How bout that dialogue? Oh Blair... at least you have your fears AND a dial tone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yeah.

So maybe...

-I had a meltdown on Sunday evening and my sweet fiance found me in a hallway quietly sobbing in the dark.
-I purchased the 6th and 7th pairs of shoes that I might "possibly" wear on my wedding day.
-I just had the 8th consecutive month of not winning ANYTHING at Bunco night.
-I didn't run this morning in hopes of preventing another meltdown.
-I drank 100 ounces of liquid in a 2 hour period. (No really - 2 Route 44s and a 12 oz of water.)
-There are 33 days until a celebration and I am so ready.
-Maybe that's all I've got tonight. First dress fitting is in the morning.

Then again... maybe not.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Please Be Our Friend.

After Movie Club this afternoon (today's movie: Contact), we kept the TV on, and after watching some ungodly amount of golf (?), we transitioned to our lovely local news station and were sucked in by the interesting circus that is small-town local news. Particularly the weekend edition.

They threw the story to a reporter who was standing by at the local TGI Fridays (approximately a mile away from where we were sitting watching the news), who was reporting the groundbreaking story of the expectation of a very large crowd to watch the Cowboys game in the bar area.

After watching this young reporter, with his loose tie, electrical taped-microphone, and devil-may-care attitude, we came to the very logical conclusion that he is probably a lot of fun to hang out with in real life. And I then took the very logical next step of looking him up on Facebook to get some further info on this local newsman. Well guess what- he is totally our age, and has awesome taste in movies (Inception! Moon! North by Northwest!), television (Whose Line! Lost! LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON!) and general interests (Film! Television! Theatre! Deloreans!). Yes- this guy was definitely someone we want to hang out with.

Also: he looks just like hilarious Alex from Alex Reads Twilight.

We got another sign that we should totally be friends with this guy when we arrived for dinner at IHOP (Yes- it IS open during daylight hours! I was shocked too. Aren’t you only allowed to go there when everything else is closed? (Apparently not.)) and saw the news van driving away from TGI Fridays back to the studio! This is totally meant to be.

After that we talked about him like it was a foregone conclusion that we’d all soon be fast friends. “I bet Casey would think that’s funny.” “Casey would probably love to come to Galveston with us.” “Casey would never call me sweetheart.”

I don’t know how often reporters Google themselves (probably pretty often, right?), but Casey Claiborne, if you’re reading this, we totally want to hang out with you.

And to the young waiter who accompanied handing me my drink with a “Here you go, sweetheart”: No.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Moved, Mover, Moving

It's a little late - try two weeks to the day... but that's all I've got. Forgive whatever you just saw. It's been a long week. Anyone else feel like time is going both at warp speed AND slow motion at the same time?

It's true. There was a scorpion. I have photos, but I don't have the camera. David ended up taking the cover off the light and my sweet friends who came to help me move took it home as a pet. That's right. Elliot the pet scorpion. Erin gets mother of the year award for that one.

I moved out of my apartment but now I'm living as a gypsy. My furniture is at D's house, my clothes are with me here at my Arizona Family's house, and my books are at the office. One of these days I will have one home... maybe.

For now I'm off to my work home and then to my theater home tonight to see "Into the Woods" with some friends from "Camelot." That's a fun sentence. Ok... moving on.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Band

One time when I was a junior in high school, band class was a little bit extra boring and slow. So my awesome Mormon friend Johnny decided to put his extraordinary powers of hilarity to good use and entertain the band.

He organized it with the entire trumpet section ahead of time, and then just waited for Mr. Reynolds to get mad at one of them (a regular occurrence anyway). Then Johnny just said "I'm sorry Mr. Reynolds" and another trumpet guy sang "oooo!" in a falsetto voice and all of the trumpet guys sang "I am for reeeeeeal!" (Do you remember that song? "I'm sorry Miss Jackson?" Well it was very popular when I was in high school.)

But Mr. Reynolds was not in a jolly mood that day, so he just threw his baton on the ground and stomped away from the podium for a little bit. I tried not to double over laughing (that was my usual reaction around Mormon Johnny) because COME ON, Mr. Reynolds. You have to admit that was funny. And it took planning, so.

Friday, September 3, 2010

36 Hours Till Daybreak* (original spelling)

Sometimes 'til just needs a little umph. I provide that.

I'm continuing the little trip down memory lane with part 2 of my short story from 6th... ok, maybe 7th or even 8th grade. You can find part 1 right here.

* * * *
"36 Hours till DAYBREAK"
Part 2
DFW Airport, 4:42pm
"I look like a mess," thought Blair. She was in a crowded restroom trying to bring life back to her face. She had not taken well to her flight, and now the thought of her flight to New York put more sag into her shoulders. She grabbed her earrings out of her purse and pushed them through her ears. She quickly dabbed powder to her nose and put on some lipstick.
"At least now I look human," she mumbled under her breath. As her shoes clicked along the floor, she realized that she needed to confirm dinner with her source. She looked for her cell phone, but it was roaming.
"Great!" She glanced over at a pay phone, forcing a quarter into it she dialed the number. After three rings a male voice answered.
"Hello."
"Yes, this is Blair Stevens. May I please speak with David Bradley?"
For a while there was no sound.
"Mam... I'm sorry but Mr. Bradley is unable to speak with you at the moment."
"Well will you confirm with him our dinner plans for this evening?"
"One sec."
A muffled sound came through the receiver.
"Ms. Stevens?" A new voice rang out.
"Yes."
"I'm sorry to tell you this... but Mr. Bradley was killed in his car this morning."
No sound.
"Mam?"
"Um. Yes. I'm here. This is just shocking news... I... um..."
"Yes?"
"Well, I just talked to him this morning over the phone."
"Ms. Stevens, I'm Jack Conol, the chief of police and I was wondering if you would mind coming over here for some questions?"
The home of the Bradleys, 5:36pm
"What am I doing here?" though Blair as she pulled up to the crime scene. She got out of the red Accord she had rented. Her long legs ached as she walked up the sidewalk. Several cops looked at her. She knew even at 35 she could still turn heads. She purposefully directed her gaze forward as a balding man came towards her.
"A smart looker," thought Jack. "Ms. Stevens, sorry to inconvenience you, but since you seem to have spoken to Mr. Bradley many times recently, and you might be the last person he spoke to, we had to ask you to come."
"I understand," said Blair.
"Good. Now let's go inside to talk."
As Blair and Conol quickly walked into the house he smiled. He was glad the two were talking... glad Bradley was dead. Now it would be that much easier to get rid of Blair.
* * * *
I hope that I too can one day be like Blair - pushing earrings through my ears and still making heads turn at 35. HAH.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baby We Were Born to Run

I had such a blast watching the Emmys on Sunday night. (Truly just as fun as last year's amazing show.) Is it any wonder? JIMMY was involved!

If you missed it, check out his awesome opening number. I can't get enough:



Later in the show he did a hilarious tribute to some of the shows that finished their runs this year:



Of course, you can't forget Jimmy's appearance at last year's awards!



And all of this reminds me of one of my favorite Emmy moments ever, the intro Conan O'Brien made when he hosted in 2006!



What's YOUR favorite Emmy moment?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthday Cake and All that Jazz


Here's to Valpal and Dad:

Happy Birthday!!

Watch an old movie, have some BBQ, dance to mariachi music, go see a play, sing to the Beach Boys, play a game, laugh so hard you hit the table, view some home movies, strain some orange juice, drink a malt...

AND KNOW YOU ARE LOVED!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shame.

Ginger: Sadly, I have started watching a show at the gym. "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." I have sunk to new levels.

Val: I'm about to block you from my chat list.

Ginger: "BACHELOR PAD?"

Val: Touché.

Ur...

This is it. My last night in my own place. I keep expecting to have really strong emotions - but they aren't coming. I feel tired. I took off from work both today and tomorrow so that I would have time to pack and clean prior to heading into the weekend. I'm working both Saturday and Sunday.

In an effort to process what this evening actually means - I pulled out my journal from the summer/fall of 2006. The pages covering July through September told me this:

1) I had decided it was possibly time to leave the place I had been living/working since graduating from college.
2) I applied for an awesome job in Dallas and then turned it down even before they offered it to me.
3) I started to wonder what the future could possibly hold. (If you had offered me $1,000 to guess which state I would be moving to in a matter of months I'm close to 100% sure I would not have said Arizona.)
4) I was going through Beth Moore's Patriarch study and finding myself identifying with Abram.
5) September 5th I found the job where I currently work and sent my resume. I had never, ever considered living in Arizona prior to that moment. Even then... I didn't really think I would do it.

Here's what I wrote four years ago this week:
__________
8/23/06

As I think about where my road may be leading me, I am reminded specifically of Abram. The Lord called him to leave it all and come into the desert. I examine my own comfortable suburban life and wonder if I am willing to leave. Will I really pack it up as eagerly as I make it seem? I think I am ready. Good-bye Ur, hello desert. The desert is hot and flat and I have no idea where we are going. But I'm excited because my story is not the same as Abram's. We are not going to Canaan... but God's promise to finish his work in his people applies just as much to me as it does to Abram.

P.S. Don't miss out on the journey by being so caught up on the final destination. This may be your only time on a camel - so open your eyes to the story. Allow His story to saturate your story and you will end up in the most dangerous place possible... His will.
_______

I had no idea when I wrote that how quickly I would have to live those words. I am so thankful for this time of independence... this time of dependence. My emotion tonight is landing right where I started. "I think I am ready... but hey... don't be so caught up in the destination 51 days from now that you forget to enjoy this journey!"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tear-Streaked

You may have already seen this sweet little video, but if not-- treat yourself. It is lovely.

And maybe don't watch if you don't have a tissue nearby.

"I could write on and on about her.... She lights up my life when she says to me at night, 'Wouldn't you like a little ice cream?' or 'Would you please drink more water?' I mean, those aren't very romantic things to say, but they stir my heart. In my mind, in my heart, there has never been, there is not now, and there never will be another Annie."
-Danny


Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I got nothing.

-I left the rest of the short story (36 hours to Daybreak) across town at the house. I know the suspense is killing you.

-I found myself leaning over the sink in the bathroom at work today. I was trying to make my tears fall into the drain and not on my face. "Pull it together, Morby!" (It was a mixture of work stress, moving, and still being 7 weeks away from seeing D every day... nothing new... the usual concoction of tears.)

-I have roughly 4 days of living alone left. (I hear a grandfather clock ticking somewhere.)

-There's a family at church with three kids that I've known for the past 4 years - I've taught at least one of their sons every year since I started. This year I have the two oldest boys in Youth. Last week the oldest runs up to me and says, "Miss Ginger! My brother is passed out on the floor!"

I look over to see his younger brother (6th grader, mind you) lying on the floor and trying not to smile. The older brother looks at me with the sides of his mouth curling up and proceeds to say, "He's not breathing. I'm pretty sure you need to give him CPR."

Listen, Squinz. I wasn't born yesterday. I told them that hands-only CPR was what the Red Cross now advised... and that you break a few ribs in the process. Both boys began laughing and ran off.

The End.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No Really, I'm Totally Laughing

Now that I’m in my new office, a nice side bonus (in addition to having a door) is being in a suite with a new group of people, including a few friends of mine.

Everyone in our building that needs to talk to someone and doesn't necessarily want to, you know, walk, uses the office’s communication tool of choice: the blessed gchat. I had just gotten off the phone when Stephen told me that it was kind of creeping him out that he could hear my voice from his office. (Sidenote: I don’t think a girl can hear enough that she sounds creepy.) Later on I absentmindedly typed “lol” in the chat box to something that he said, but didn’t actually laugh in my office. He noted that he liked being able to tell whether I was actually “lol-ing” or not, which naturally made me genuinely laugh out loud. Then I heard the laughter coming from his office, and naturally then REALLY got the giggles.

It’s true, though. I am definitely guilty of overusing “lol” (which, for the uninitiated, means “laugh out loud.”). You’d think I’d be stingier with my useage of the phrase, but truthfully I just use it mostly to acknowledge that I find what the other person is saying is funny. Then I just try to alternate its use with that of the very eloquent “hahaha.”

Very occasionally I really am laughing out loud, in which case I attempt to tell the other person this fact, usually by typing out “I really am laughing out loud right now!”

It certainly would be nice to know when people are truly laughing.

They should really invent an acronym for that.