Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Year Later

This weekend I have been repeatedly impressed with the difference a year can make.

I don't remember exactly what Chris and I were doing the last weekend in September last year (I could probably dig around a little and figure it out), and it doesn't really matter.  What I do know is Chris and I were still figuring out marriage; What I do know is Chris and I were still figuring out our little house; and What I do know is Chris and I were a FAR CRY from being able to host three young men and my mother on the same weekend.

My mom is in town this weekend and she and I are headed to the Women of Faith conference in Denver.  Then we'll return to Rifle for a few days for "just us girls".  We've had this planned since last winter.

Chris and I are hosting some Young American Singers this weekend as they put on a musical workshop at Chris' middle school.  We have been excited to host some since last school year.

We realized that both of these exciting events were happening the same weekend about a month ago.

Last year, nothing was going wrong with Chris and my marriage by any means, except we were still really new at it.  We were still figuring out how we were going to arrange our kitchen, who would cook when and how much food to make, what our morning routine was and who was showering when...  In addition, the only bed in our house was our bed, where we slept each night.  We also had an air bed that was probably still packed away in an unknown box.  We would have had a hard time hosting even one house guest much less four a year ago!

Now, a year later, Chris and I are in our second school year together and we know each other's working routine, we know when the other one will shower, we know how much food to make and who is cooking when, we have MORE BEDS and can host people when we're given the opportunity.

This year, I had the guest room, and our downstairs ready for guests in record time.  It was SO NICE.

I just feel so settled compared to a year ago.  I enjoy routine and knowing what to expect, and this fall I feel like I have that.  There are still surprises, but surprises within our routine.

A year ago, I was so upset with myself because I wasn't the exclusive cook in the family.  Chris enjoyed cooking and I kept wondering what was wrong with what I was feeding him?  Why did he still want to do the cooking when I was here for him?

Now, I feel much better about Chris cooking.  I have learned that Chris likes to cook, whereas I cook because we need to eat.  I like to bake, but cooking is not my favorite thing.  We have a nice routine of each of us cooking a few nights a week.  There may be a season when one of us is cooking more regularly than the other, but for now, we enjoy the shared responsibility.

A year ago, we were praying about getting a puppy and visiting some shelters.  Time after time we would see a puppy and just not have a peace that this was the puppy for us, and we would have to leave the puppy behind, trusting the pup to the Lord, that he was meant for someone else.

Now, we have our puppy, he's over a year old, and we know what to expect from him.  He is a part of our family, and we know he is the dog God specifically designed for us.  Even he and Lexie are getting better and better about being siblings instead of sworn enemies.

Mom and I are headed to Women of Faith, and I am just praising God for the difference a year can make.

Have a great weekend.

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Home-making Hiding

I have a new favorite home-making practice...

I put up some colorful paper up before the baby shower, to add atmosphere, and to hide all my canning supplies in our sun room.

See the purple paper blocking the windows behind the chair for the baby shower?
It turns out, I really like it... it looks nice and I can hide all sorts of things in the sun room.

Here is our family room, ready for company...
No one can see all the clutter of our sun room!
 We have Young Americans staying at our house for the next few days, and it was so nice to get our house ready for them with a hidden sun room.  :-D

We're so excited to get to know these guys!
Have a great Friday!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thank You, Andy Williams

Andy Williams passed away yesterday.

Oh, that voice.  I grew up on Andy Williams one-of-a-kind singing.

Chris and I danced to Moon River at our wedding, and it is one of "our songs."  While Andy Williams didn't write Moon River, he made it famous like no one else could.  "Two drifters off to see the world"... those are magical lyrics when Andy Williams sings them.

My parents have always loved the song, Canadian Sunset and have considered it one of "their songs."

When I was a little girl -- elementary and middle school, when my parents and I would vacation in Florida, we would get up in the mornings and go running together.  Then, we would all go swimming together, and when we came back through the door after swimming, my dad and I would have a race to the CD player.  If Daddy got to the CD player first, he would put on the beautiful piano music of a pianist we've come to love who plays in Vail, Colorado.  If I made it to the CD player first, I would put on Andy Williams and the Henry Mancini Orchestra.

While other girls my age were blaring "New Kids on the Block", I was making my parents listen to Andy Williams.

God Bless You, Mr. Williams.  Rest in peace.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Treasuring the Present: Singing in the Shower

Yesterday actually started pretty lousy... and got worse... and got worse... and then had a really surprising upswing and the evening and last night were wonderful.  :-D

By the evening, I was SO relieved and grateful that my day was looking up, that I walked Lloyd to the river to swim and put on my "Fun" playlist on my phone to listen to with headphones.  I had forgotten how fun my "Fun" playlist is.

By the time I arrived home, I wasn't ready to stop listening to my music.  I unplugged the headphones, and let the music ring out (gotta love the iPhone).  I got into the shower and kept the music playing... and before I knew it, I was singing at the top of my lungs, dancing with the soap and shampoo, and really belting it out like I haven't done in years.

I used to sing in the shower all the time -- middle and high school were really my prime years.  My parents' shower has AWESOME acoustics and so I took showers MUCH longer than necessary because I just wanted to sing and sing and sing.

I sang some in the shower in college... but since then, it has pretty much dropped off.

Last night, it felt SOOO GREAT to sing like crazy in the shower.

Even once I got out of the shower, I found myself picking up my (unplugged) curling iron and using it as a microphone.  There I was, my hair wrapped in a towel, my body wrapped in a towel, and singing my heart out into a curling iron.  It was so much fun.

I encourage you to do the same -- get into the shower with a song in your head, a song in your heart, or a song playing out of you iPhone or stereo... the just let it rip!

I felt SO wonderful during and after my shower sing-along... and I hope you do too.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Act of Valor

A few weeks ago, Hubby and I rented the movie Act of Valor.

I was not excited to see this movie... but it was a movie I felt I owed it to those who serve in the armed forces to see.

I didn't know a lot about this movie before I saw it.  I watched a few trailers and I had a few assumptions.
I assumed I would cry.
I assumed I would hide my eyes.
I assumed there would be some action.
I hoped there would be a happy ending.

This movie was AWESOME!!!

A unique war movie, actors did not act in this movie, real, active service Navy Seals were featured in this movie.  You HAVE to see this movie!!!

Here is a short trailer...

I will say, there were parts where I had to hide my eyes, but the movie was NOT as gruesome or violent as other movies I have seen.  They did a good job of keeping the action high, but the violence and torture scenes low.

As I'm typing this sentence, it sounds really lame, but this movie was SO COOL!  I have to admit, I have always been very impressed by how military airplanes can fly over athletic stadiums perfectly timed to the last four measures of "The National Anthem".  Well, after seeing this movie and peering through the portal of the precision demanded from military missions... suddenly, the National Anthem fly-over is not nearly so impressive!  When they're on missions, life and death is determined by timing and precision.

I watched some of the pieces required for one mission, and imagined how long it would take me to learn just one step of the mission.  How long would it take me to learn how to lower myself from a helicopter via a single rope into a raft, which is hanging below the helicopter, which the helicopter is flying.  Okay, 12 weeks later, I've mastered that, now how long would it take me to learn how to properly un-hook the raft from the helicopter and drive it into enemy waters.  Alright, 2 weeks later, I've mastered that... and hopefully I haven't forgotten how to lower myself from the helicopter...

I just sit in awe of what these men and women do every day.  Most of the missions they carry out, most of the threats they disassemble, and most of the bombs they deactivate, we never hear about.

When I thank a Veteran or a Serviceman, I am thanking them for everything I do not know that they do, but I know they do it.

This movie is one we all owe it to our Armed Service Men and Women to see.  It is that good.  It is that respectful.  It gives us a rare window into everything that happens that we never see.

This movie will most likely be under our Christmas Tree this year... because our household needs this reminder; because our future children need to know the great honor it is to serve our country; because we need to remember that Acts of Valor happen every minute of every day to keep us safe.

Here's a long trailer...

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pictures of Saturday

Our Saturday was really very enjoyable... except for Michigan's HORRIBLE performance in their football game Saturday night.

My Hubby's 4am hunting alarm didn't go off Saturday morning, so he opted to spend the day at home with me and we had a wonderful, productive, fall day.

Here are some pictures of our September Saturday:

We can always tell when Lloyd is in trouble because he stays just outside the dog door, and just pokes his head inside as if to say, "Am I still in trouble?"  Just to be clear, we have never actually banished him outside... it seems to be his punishment for himself.

While I was taking picture of the guilty-faced Lloyd, Lexie came into the room, and looked at him like he was crazy.

Saturday morning meant College Gameday and canning peaches!

And two peaches-and-cream pies


We've gone a little peach-crazy this fall.

My hubby even made some peach freezer-jam... so jam, canned peaches, and pies.  Whew!  What a productive Saturday morning!

Michigan game time -- representing our favorite teams with my drinks.

My hubby cooked a wonderful dinner.  Eggplant parmesan, grilled salmon and caprese salad!

Eggplant Parmesan

Caprese Salad

Grilled Salmon

My husband seems to think that Lloyd needs ear-plugs when I'm cheering for Michigan.

Very funny, Guys.

In all seriousness, Lloyd does seem pretty scared of me during Michigan games.  His name is Lloyd Carr, we've go to work on his loyalty!

Obviously I do not cheer as loud as I've been accused, if my hubby can fall asleep during the Michigan game.  This was his idea of our "watching the game together".

Eventually, Lexie took charge of the remotes.

All-in-all, a great family Saturday.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Michigan v. Notre Dame

Today is a big day...

Today, Michigan plays Notre Dame.

Michigan has three BIG rivalries.  Michigan has two HUGE rivalries -- Ohio State and Notre Dame.  We also really like to beat Michigan State... but our two HUGE rivalries are Ohio State and Notre Dame.

Tonight, Michigan plays Notre Dame at Notre Dame.

The Michigan v. Notre Dame game is ALWAYS exciting.  It is ALWAYS a game where students dig deep, play better than before, do more than they thought they could, and legends are made.

LAST YEAR... this game was UNBELIEVABLE!!!

Last year, Notre Dame v. Michigan 2011 was played at THE BIG HOUSE.  It was a night game.  Three touch downs were scored in the last 1:12 of the game.  It was the MOST exciting football game of all the college games last season.

This year, Notre Dame is playing well -- they are 3-0.
This year, Michigan is playing okay -- they are 2-1, and their one loss is to the #1 team in the nation (Alabama).

This is going to be an important game for both teams.


Here is a clip from last year's Michigan game.  Notice, to start the clip, Michigan is down 28-31 with 0:23 left in the 4th quarter on their OWN 20 yard line.  Here are the final 0:23 of last year's game:

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Perfect Moments

I don't think it's any secret that I have had a rough week.  I missed the gene that some of my family members have where they can just hide their rough weeks, rough days, disappointed expectations under a beaming, radiant, sparkling face and personality.  I pretty much wear my heart of my sleeve... all the time.

That being said, Thursday started looking up.
It started with a headache... but it diminished as the day went on.
My day flew by with my students and meetings going smoothly and then ending in no time!

In addition, I began re-listening to an awesome audiobook I just finished in the car (Pioneer Woman, From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, if anyone is looking for a book recommendation), and she runs over her sweet Pug with her car.

I had heard this part of the story before, but yesterday, when I heard, it I made a mental note to spend some special time cherishing my animals that afternoon.

I usually try to enjoy my animals... but this week, with my stress level on overload, some big disappointments, some rough meetings, and what feels like more work than I can complete in two full-time jobs, I have not been cherishing my animals.  More often than not, I've been annoyed with my animals.

Yesterday, after vowing to especially love-on my animals, I arrived home in a flurry, picked up coolers and drove them to school for my hubby, then promptly came back home and started working again!

Well into my work emails, my puppy came up, rubbed against me, and put his nose under my arm in an effort to get my hand off of the computer keyboard and onto him for a loving rub-down.  My first instinct was to push him away, make him lay down, and get to him later... until I remembered the Pioneer Woman's story and imagined my life without my wonderful dog.

I disengaged from my emails and hugged him like I haven't in weeks.  I let him jump up on the couch next to me (a special treat for him) and just pet him and hugged him and cherished him for these perfect moments!  He hadn't been on the couch more than a minute when his sort of got his weight off-balanced and then leaned toward me... and before I knew it, I was pawed/pinned to the couch and he was on top of me with a great puppy smile on his face.

It was as though Lloyd was saying, "I finally have your undivided attention, and I'm not letting you get back to work until I've had my fill!"

It was such a perfect moment of just treasuring my dog.  Stopping my work right where I was -- it was there when Lloyd wandered away -- and loving on my dog that moment he was asking for it, and cherishing that I have a wonderful dog to cherish.

And I typed that sentence, Lexie just came up curled up on my lap.  My animals do have a knack for knowing when I have work to do.  :-D  Now it's time to cherish here for a few moments!
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Fun-ness!

So, this week has been hard.  There is just no other way to spin it.

This week,
Small things have seemed huge,
Off-handed remarks have felt like personal attacks,
Simple emails have felt like bombshells,
Every challenge has been met with a handful of Peanut M&Ms,
Routine tasks have felt like drudgery,
Work has felt like warfare,
 Daily 180-mile drives are full of tears...

So, in an effort to try to shake this dark cloud, I thought some good 'ole random blog fun was in order:

You Would Be a Crafty Superhero
You are naturally curious and even a bit of a snoop. You like to have dirt on everyone - both enemies and friends.

You need a lot of freedom in your life. You like to do your own thing, and you don't fit into any normal mold.

You understand people quite well and often know what others are thinking. Because of this, you can get people to do what you want.

You tend to feel apart from the rest of the world. You don't really fit in, and you don't try to!

You are a true intellectual. You are thirsty for knowledge, and you are curious about the world.

You Crave a Cultural Adventure
Life has gotten a bit routine for you lately, and you'd like to broaden your perspective.
You want to learn and grow from your adventure. You want to know the place you visit as well as your home town.

You are an open minded and curious traveler. You're all about immersing yourself in local customs, no matter how foreign they are.
Whenever you're in a new place, you try to speak the language, eat the food, and meet the locals. After all, that's what traveling is all about!

You Are a Blackberry Smoothie
You are mentally alert and curious. Your mind is always at work, even when you're resting.
You produce valuable and original works. You are quite the creator.

You are insightful and astute. You are quite savvy when it comes to most things.
You are probably an expert in at least one field. You love gaining deep knowledge.

You Are a Straight A Student
You are highly observant and mindful. You take in a lot of information, and you're very perceptive.
You are smart, clever, and perceptive. You know how to synthesize and process information.

You have excellent people skills. You can talk to anyone.
You are high achieving without being too competitive about it. You simply like to succeed.

That's probably enough for now.  I do feel better, but PLEASE, Lord, let today and Friday be better days.

Happy Thursday.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sometimes and Always

Sometimes: I cry after work meetings
Always: At least I don't cry during the work meeting
Sometimes: I eat or drink in an effort to control my life because there is so much I cannot control in my life
Always: I wish I would abstain from eating and drinking to control my life... so far, no luck
Sometimes: I want take new mothers and people grieving a nice dinner
Always: I'm never really sure how to deliver dinner... am I supposed to cook it first and deliver it ready to serve?  Am I supposed to leave it uncooked and have them bake it?  Am I supposed to cook it and move it to a freezer-safe container so they can heat it up and eat it when they want to?  I just don't know.
Sometimes: It annoys me that, in my work car, I have to get gas about once a day
Always: I'd rather get gas then run out of gas
Sometimes: I look to the future with a great sense of hope, joy, and anticipation
Always: I know my future is in God's hands
Sometimes: I look toward the future with a great sense of dread and trepidation
Always: I know my future is in God's hands
Sometimes: I look at cars with out-of-state license plates along I-70 with great disdain -- what are they doing passing taking up space along my daily 90-mile commute?
Always: I was already in a bad mood that day they annoy me
Sometimes: There is only one cure for a hard 12+ hour day...

Always: My animals remind me I'm still the Mama, and my job isn't over when I get home...

 What is Sometimes and Always the case in your world?

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Treasuring the Present: Fun, Busy Fall

We love fall around here... but we stay so busy in the fall, we feel like we blink and it's over.

Vail mountain... starting to change color
Today, here are some of my favorite parts about our busy, wonderful fall:
  • Cool nights, Cold mornings and Warm afternoons
  • Michigan Football and Cardinal Baseball
  • Hiking and Hunting
  • Full, BUSY days, which means my hubby and I treasure our nights together all the more
  • New exercise routines and the hope that I'll stick to it from now until Christmas
  • A new batch of students, teachers and colleagues
  • The promise of Daylight Savings Time ahead (eventually)
  • The season premier of tv shows we came to enjoy last spring
  • Teamwork with my hubby as we are both pulled in a million directions
  • Feeling proficient in Braille again
  • Enjoying Words With Friends and Draw Something during my brief minutes of down-time (feel free to start a game with me!) :-D
  • Trying to organizing a semi-regular weekly doggie day-care so Lloyd can play/tire himself out with friends during the day.  A tired puppy = Brooke getting more work done
What are you treasuring about Fall?

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Monday, September 17, 2012

My Advice to Brides

Over Labor Day Weekend, Chris and I attended the wedding of my good friend from college, Katie.  She and Jeremy met in law school and then moved back to Michigan, where his family is from.

Katie is such a great friend and it was great catching up at the rehearsal dinner, wedding reception, and a brunch the day after the wedding.

Katie, the beautiful bride, and I in the fun wedding photobooth
As, I'm sure many of you know, when you zip into town for a wedding, you don't get a LOT of time visiting with the bride and groom.  A few quick conversations, expressing your best wishes, hugs and good-byes are pretty much the most you can hope for.

That being said, I am learning that when I attend the wedding of a friend, I need to at least get her undivided attention for 1 minute to give her my advice for the wedding.

Before the wedding fun, I shared my Advice with Katie at the Rehearsal Dinner
I KNOW everyone has their wedding advice.  I know new brides get advice from every direction, and I don't want to add to the multitude... however, I had one big regret from my wedding and I cannot NOT pass my advice on to my bride friends.


Ask the special men in your life to dance at your wedding.

Simple, to-the-point, I can deliver it in less than 30 seconds.  If a bride wants more of an explanation and has more than 30 seconds to spare, I can give the rationale behind this advice.

At my wedding, I always assumed I would dance with my grandpa, my new grandpas, my new father-in-law, my brother, my new brothers-in-law, my uncles, possibly some cousins, some groomsmen... I really imagined myself dancing the night away.

The truth is, these men did not ask me to dance.  In hindsight, I understand why -- I was very busy at the reception.  It was a wonderful night... but I was pulled in one direction to sign the marriage license, another direction for the W&L Swing, another direction for pictures with my new Hubby on the balcony, another direction to chat with guests, another direction to dance with my dad, another direction to cut the cake... It was a wonderful, WONDERFUL night... but the men with whom I always imagined dancing at my wedding did not bother me to ask me to dance.

If I had only known, I would have asked my Grandpa, my new Father-in-law, my Uncles, my Brother to dance.  I didn't know, and so I did not dance with any of these men and more the entire night.

I did dance with my Daddy, my new Hubby, and my parents' next-door neighbor who is a really good friend of our family, and I am so grateful for those dances.  I really would have loved to dance with a few other special men.

The 3 men with whom I danced at my wedding.  I wish there had been more.
That is my advice -- Know that these men WILL NOT ask you to dance because so much is going on.  YOU, The Bride, Need to ask these men to dance at the reception, if its going to happen.

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