Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lock-Ins Where We Weren't Locked In

Some of my favorite memories are from my time at church, in our youth group. In particular I loved being apart of the lock-ins. Staying up all night long, hanging out, playing games and munching on snacks, what teenager could ask for more?!

(This was much of our youth group, I was one of the youngest- in yellow, in front of the building we used most often for our youth group meetings. It actually burned down, though I can't remember which year- I think it was when I was 17 or 18. The roof had caught fire and it was bad enough the building became unusable- at the time I was in charge of our AWANA store also housed in that building. I remember going through everything and it reeked of smoke, we couldn't use any of it.)

One of my favorite games was a form of hide and seek. Though the concept of a lock-in is being locked inside the church, our church was actually four buildings spread out over the church grounds, so we usually just took it as being 'locked' into the church grounds. So in the dark night, we would have 1 person go out and hide somewhere- inside or out. Then we all go out in search of them. The first person to find them is officially the winner, but once they are found instead of announcing it, you would join them in hiding until pretty much everyone was hiding there. One time when we were playing, it was my friend, Coley's, turn to hide. He found a great spot because we were completely at a loss and eventually had to start searching for him for real- game officially over. As it turned out, he had fallen asleep where he was hidden!! From then on we only played in partners.
At another lock-in, when we were playing that same game but in partners, it was Steve and Joe's turn to hide (at least I think it was those- but really any of the guys in youth group would've had this exact idea!). On our church property there was a huge back lot where a new building was always planned to be built (as of now I still don't think it has happened yet!). The ground was very uneven. Mounds of earth here and there, between ditches. During our normal youth group time each Sunday evening, we would often play capture the flag up there. It was perfect for it. Well the lot is surrounded by woods. Well Steve and Joe went out to hide, and pretty soon we all went out, in pairs, to search for them. After not too long, we started hearing this loud crack, I mean really loud hard to ignore, and if I remember right, there was also a bright flash of some sort. It seemed to be coming from the back lot, so my friend Shannah who was my partner, and another pair of girls, Deanna and Emily, all went up to the back lot. Of course it was dark and the ground was uneven, so it was creepy back there, but we walked along the edges, though not getting too terribly close to the woods. We were talking about how they better not be back in the woods, because that would be out of bounds. And then all the sudden they jumped out from the trees (well, not so much jumped as, set off whatever toy they were using to make the loud noise and bright flash of light, and they yelled something from up in a tree right at the edge- in daylight they would've been completely visible), catching me and the other girls off guard as we screamed and jumped back- me unfortunately into a huge puddle! I wasn't very happy at the time, but I smile when I look back and think of it now.
Why can't adults have lock-ins and play games like that?!! I totally miss it!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: My Plans While We Are HOME!

I am home for my sister's wedding and some much needed time with family and friends, most of whom I have not seen in 2+ years!! So while I plan to be checking in occasionally and maybe blogging a little, Jon and I have a lot of things we want to cram into a 3 week window while we are home. We aren't planning another visit to the states until our return home in mid 2012! Here are some of the many things we hope to do during the 3 weeks:

1. Obviously, I will be doing all the wonderful duties of not only sister to the bride, but a bridesmaid. Including throwing a bridal shower myself, attending another pajama party and a ladies luncheon in my sister's honor- complete with getting my nails done at the salon with the ladies before the luncheon, the rehearsal and dinner, then the actual wedding itself!

2. At my sister's request, we will be having either a double date with our men, or just some sister bonding time. I believe we will be going to Seattle!

3. At my insistence, Jon and I will be getting a date night of our own. If finances and timing permit, it will be a dinner cruise that we have both longed to go on. In fact, it the same one he had hoped to propose on if I hadn't been so impatient!

4. This is not only a trip to go for the wedding, but also our own family vacation. We haven't been on one of those in a long time!! So we are hoping to take the kids up to the Woodland Park Zoo in the Seattle area, which I have never been too. As well as the Aquarium which is in downtown Seattle- though they will probably need to be separate trips, because we will take the ferry on foot for the Aquarium. Though Jon was disappointed I had taken Natalie on her first ferry ride the last time just us girl visited, this time it will be Zachary's 1st time and we will all go!

5. Family pictures!! I already found and bought coordinating outfits for all of us, to do some in studio pictures at JCPenny. This is were we used to do all our pictures of the kids and family, but there isn't one in Guam! I have this framed print from them in our hall from right before we left, but it is missing our newest member- so we really hope to get something similar to add beside the earlier one when we get home! (Though I am still hoping to also do family pictures on the beach in Guam before Jon leaves for 3 months next year, I don't think you can ever have too many pictures!!)

6. A girls night, or day, with my best friend, Shannah!! We have been best friends for over 10 years, and I miss her a whole lot!! I plan on spending as much time with her as I can between all the wedding stuff and other plans, as well as have Natalie spend some time with Shannah's 3 girls!

7. We will be celebrating Christmas on Thanksgiving with my family! I am looking forward to it, even if there won't be a tree or many decorations up yet, we will still have the big meal surrounded by our family, and exchange gifts all together instead of through the mail!

8. A tradition my mom started when I was young, was that every year we would go see Zoolights at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. In general I spent a lot of time there growing up with my mom and sisters, so it will be a great blessing to now share that with my kids. Zoolights is a lot of fun, it opens the weekend after Thanksgiving and the whole zoo is decked out with Christmas lights! We bundle up, go buy hot chocolate and walk through the maze of displays lighting up the night! I have missed that, I haven't been to it in about 6 years!

9. I will be getting my craft on! I am looking forward to not only trying to creatively and inexpensively decorating for my sister's bridal shower, but also picking up the stuff I want/need in order to decorate Zachary's toddler bedroom- monkey themed! I almost all of the decor in my daughter's ladybug themed bedroom when we switched her to her toddler bed and took out the old nursery decor, and I can't wait to do the same for my son as he approaches 2 years old! And also I will be finishing up last minute touches on the homemade Christmas gifts for my family. We don't have a very great craft store here on Guam- there is one, but the selection isn't great and it is seriously expensive, so this is a big priority for me, I miss running to Michael's (or even Walmart sometimes) for all my crafting needs!!

10. I will also be trying to visit with many other friends I haven't seen in a while, including my friends Chris, Victoria, and Bethany. As well as family, my brother Daniel and my niece Miranda, and all the family attending my sister's wedding.

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another New School and Meeting New Family

A new year and another new school. Shortly after my mom had us move from the nice big blue house to a small 2 bedroom apartment, I started at a new school, and not just any new school, a brand new, just built, middle school! It was only a year or 2 old and the first school I would be attending without my younger sister Carolyn. There was 5th through 7th grade here before moving up to the high school which started at 8th grade. To prepare us for high school, we actually had our classes set up a little differently then I was used to here. Our teachers were in pairs, and as my home room was Mrs. P, she would have us most of the day for math, geography, and history, we would go over to Mrs. S room next door for her to teach us reading and writing, while her class was in our room learning the math and history from our teacher. Our classes did a lot of the other 'extra' stuff together as well, like art, typing, library time, etc. I had great friends in both rooms, though my closest circle of friends was in Mrs. S's homeroom. Actually overall, I liked Mrs. S better then my normal teacher. Not that Mrs. P wasn't nice enough, but I found her boring- though it may relate to the material she was teaching as well. I adored Mrs. S, she was more personable, kind, uplifting, encouraging, and she taught my favorite subjects! She was probably the earliest teacher I remember having that really helped me develop my love for the written word- both the read and write.
Though I had many more friends in this new school, I was still not very good in the social area. I often was teased as I would wear the same over sized white Halloween sweatshirt, over one of 2 turtle necks with one of 2 pairs of stretch pants I owned, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Don't get me wrong they were clean. Every 2 days I did a very small load of clothes. But this was a time when jeans were the 'in' thing to be wearing, and fashion was becoming quite the social status as we entered the preteen years. To me, jeans were the most uncomfortable piece of clothing ever. I couldn't stand them, and being comfortable was more important to me then being socially accepted- though I longed for that too. Luckily I did have some very good friends who didn't care what I wore!
There was Lydia, she was in Mrs. P's class with me. She was a wonderful artist, she could draw a perfect picture of Bambi completely freehand! I thought she was amazing, but she wasn't a fan of my ever changing mood swings, and we often weren't talking for one reason or another.
There was Shardae, she actually lived in the same apartment complex as me. She was also in Mrs. P's class but she was a social butterfly, and between her and another friend of hers named Jenna, we too were on and off a whole lot. It didn't help that her brother who was 2 years older didn't like me and often threatened me. Funny because honestly if anyone was the bad influence it was her, not me! But she did teach me how to roller blade which we would do a lot in the parking lots of our huge apartment complex.
Then there were my friend's in the other class, the ones that were truly my closest friends that year, Rachel, Katie and Katie. I remember once going to Rachel's house for her birthday. 2 of us (me included) decided we would head bang for as long as we could- don't ask me why. We head banged to some music I wasn't familiar with for an hour straight. That was when I had my first migraine I believe and I ended up going home SO sick. I threw up more then I ever did with the flu in that one time!!
Katie M. was the one I would end up missing the most when we moved yet again at the end of this year. I always thought she was so pretty with her dark short hair, and she was the sweetest girl I had ever met. Before I moved away she even made me something she said she was going to put on a pillow but ran out of time, one of those yarn things (you knot it onto a piece of plastic?? Not sure what it is called but I still see the kits for it at craft stores now) with Winnie the Pooh's face on it. She also gave me a large Mickey Mouse she had gotten at Disneyland the year before, so I could have something to remember her by (I collected stuffed animals). I was so sad we never ended up keeping in touch, but I think we both knew it wasn't likely.
Half way through the year, we actually moved again. This time to a bigger 3 bedroom unit and either my grandma moved in with us or just visited A LOT!
Over spring break this year, for the first time, I went on a trip to see my dad's parents. I had not spent much time with them up to this point, so this was a new experience. They owned an RV, so they came all the way up from California to pick up my sister Carolyn and I and drove back down. I enjoyed the road trip most. I had never been in an RV before and I thought it was the coolest thing. We had to stop for something to be fixed on the RV in Oregon and my Granny taught us how to play Rummicub. We also stopped in southern Oregon again were my Papa went fishing and we picked blackberries. It was beautiful were we stopped in Brookings. I think it was by a river in this RV site, and I only wish I had had a camera back then!
When we finally made it too their house in California, we met our Aunts and Uncles for the first time. There was Aunt Jane & Uncle Leon who lived on the same property (there were 3 houses on the property). Then Aunt Leila who lived out in town and we didn't see much of. Our cousins, Mary, Leon, and Elizabeth came over to play often though. We even went to one of Mary's swim meets.
This is also where I learned almonds grow on trees! In fact my grandparents had at one time had acres of almond trees. Unfortunately most had died and the land was sold, but there were still a few trees behind my Papa's shed. They also had citrus plants in their front yard with oranges, lemons and limes. And my granddad (Granny's father) who lived in another of the houses on the property, had his own garden which grew pretty much everything I could imagine! There were even little fig trees (though they looked more like bushes to me). I tried one, but I thought they were disgusting. The thing I enjoyed most were the grape vines though, those I definitely ate and loved!
Another new thing I learned about on our trip was black widows. Now I had grown up with a healthy fear of spiders (still very active today in fact!), and in the RV on the way to California, we had seen a show about some of the world's smallest but deadliest predators, one of them was the black widow. I was terrified! I imagined seeing them all over the place when we got there and wondered how anyone survived living in such a place! My grandparents warned us about not putting our hands places we couldn't already see first, particularly when we were outdoors. But I had so many nightmares of them the whole trip.
Another part of our trip was going to visit my Aunt Terri and Uncle Nelson. I loved Aunt Terri from that very first time I met her. She is my dad's older sister, and she lived hours away from my grandparents. At her house was a pool, and we went swimming and had virgin strawberry daiquiris. During the day at one point I made a comment that I really liked her little green flower earrings, so she took them off and gave them to me! I felt very special and instantly her kindness comforted me and I felt closer to her then any of the other relatives I had met.
When it was time to go back home, my Granny talked to my mom, then to us girls. She wanted to fly us back, but we had never been on a plane before and I was scared of heights and flying in general! Eventually she convinced us, how could I pass up being home in a few hours verses a few days? We left from the Oakland airport. This was of course when others could walk you all the way to the gate, and wait with you. We waited and I watched the airplane get hooked up to the tunnel with much anxiousness but also excitement. I was scared of it, but it was a new experience and seemed so grown up, especially since we would be going alone, just me and my sister. All I remember about the flight is that we didn't sit together. We both wanted a window seat, so she sat behind me. I remember the rows were like 4 or 5 people in on each side of the aisle. And though I have never seen this set up in a plane since, there was a table and every other row faced each other. So I was sitting in a seat across from a middle aged woman. Ideally my sister would've sat opposite me, but we didn't board in time to find any seats like that both with windows. After that I don't even remember taking off or landing, accept that it was difficult to get off once we did land as EVERYONE was trying to get their bags down and rush off the plane, so we had to wait.
That following summer we moved back into my grandma's house where we had lived from 1st to 4th grade.

To read more about my relationship with my sister Carolyn and what NOT to do with scissors, check out my 5th grade post from last session. (I promise it is shorter then this one!!)

This is the 7th post in a series of 12 I am doing to record my youth to share with my children and grandchildren someday at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shaking the House Down!

Fourth grade was first year we moved that I remember actually being effected by it socially. From 1st through half of 4th grade we had been living at my grandma's house, not far from my school. I had so many wonderful teachers at the school, and great friends from my years there, I don't know that I was 'popular' but I was comfortable for certain. Then we moved as my mom and stepfather tried to reconcile, he even bought me a puppy at Christmas and my little sister a nice CD player, which I always suspected as a way to get back on my mom's good side. And apparently it worked, as we moved closer to their job, a computer type of business (think Kinko's)about half an hour away.
My sister and I began attending a school we had passed many time in the past and always thought looked old fashioned and run down compared to the nice, new and clean facility our prior elementary school had been. I don't think it was a bad part of town, but the school hadn't been updated in a long time, evident by one example- they still used the card system in the library instead of computers. Our old school had taught us how to use it, but only as a formality because we rarely ever had too.
Growing up at my grandma's house, I remember always being jealous of the kids who lived so close to school they could walk. We were close enough, but not quite that close. My feelings towards that all changed when we had moved just up the road from this new old school, and now I actually did have no other choice but to walk. It was also the first time I had to worry about carrying a house key with me since my grandma didn't initially live with us, so we came home to a big empty house most days.
It was another big blue house, one of the biggest and nicest I remember living in, with a huge fenced in back yard and a basketball court too. I remember being excited about it, but then rarely going out to play. I was definitely an indoors kind of girl.
As for school, I was in a split class. I was in the older group of 4th graders which was just a handful of kids compared to the 3rd graders in our class. I don't know if its just a part of the 'oldest sibling' syndrome, but I was very upset at the fact that I was better friends with the younger 'little' kids then those my own age. Apparently at this school, by 4th grade most students had already learned about the 'birds and the bees' but I hadn't yet. I was considered very naive by my 4th grade classmates, and I always felt so small in that class. Thankfully it was the one and only split class I was ever in, but it began a pattern of a lack of self confidence in myself which continued and contributed to the rest of my school years.
At home, it didn't take very long for my mom to decide that her marriage was beyond reconciliation. I barely remember my stepfather being around when we lived in that house. One night, I think it was somewhat stormy outside, so my mom decided we would all sleep on the pullout sofa in the living room for fun. I don't remember if it was just me and my sister Carolyn or if the 2 youngest of my siblings were there too, but we waited on the couch as my mom ran upstairs to get some linens. Then there was an earthquake. Not surprising for the area, and to a kid it was great fun! And from upstairs my mom yelled down to us- "Hey girls, stop rough housing, you're shaking the whole house!" And we were just sitting on the couch laughing at our little secret because we knew it had been an earthquake and she didn't! We told her when she came back down, but I remember wondering how she could possibly have thought it was us since everyone knows you can't shake the house from the downstairs, just the upstairs!!
Well at the end of the school year, since my mom could no longer afford to for us to live in such a big house, it was time for another move. This time to some apartments in a different part of the city, where we would go to a brand new school, and I couldn't be happier!

This is the 6th post in a series of 12 I am doing to record my youth for my children and grandchildren to read someday at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Gift of Hospitality

So this week I am going to focus on some dear friends of ours, whom we miss dearly, but even that is so broad because we have many friends we wish could be closer to us! I will never forget Mikayla and Jason's wonderful hospitality towards us as we prepared to move from our East Coast home, to Guam.

We had met Mikayla and Jason in our young adult couple's Sunday school class at church. It was around September 2007 when we first got back to the East coast. I had spent the time Jon was in Cuba, living with my mom across the country, but it was nice to be back to the first place we had really had to establish our home as an independent couple. I admit while I loved being home and all the familiar things where I grew up, the business and wide range of city life had grown on me. I enjoyed being in a 'mega church', which was a huge change from my small town church of maybe 100 attenders on a very good day.
I don't remember exactly the how fast it all happened, but we clicked. We had finally found friends we felt comfortable with, that were at a similar point in life. We enjoyed having Mikayla and Jason over for dinner, and we spent time at their place, or out to eat as well. In fact, they introduced us to the Wii. It was New Year's Eve, we went over to their house for dinner and ended up staying until 1 am (I don't remember if that was actually the plan). For hours we played Wii Tennis, Bowling and Boxing. I felt like I was in youth group again, at one of our regular lock-ins! I had never had so much fun on New Year's Eve before! Natalie behaved quite well, even into the lateness of the night.
Fast forward to February, Mikayla was quickly approaching the due date of their first child. We had invited them over for dinner one night, and Mikayla was complaining of back pain. Well the next morning I got a call from Jason asking what was in that dinner because Mikayla was in labor!! They asked us if we could bring our camera because they didn't have theirs, you see Mikayla had been going to her morning OB appointment and the doctor was concerned about the baby's heartbeat, so she was sent to the hospital right from the clinic. So Jon stayed home with Natalie, as I went up to the hospital. Jason's sister was supposed to be there for the birth, another person to help Mikayla and the baby, but since baby Hannah arrived a few weeks early, his sister hadn't yet flown in yet (I think she was coming within a few days). I was only too happy to help when I got the the hospital, and whether it was from so much pain, Mikayla just didn't care, or because she really did want another woman there, she let me stay to help however I could. I considered it an honor. And I guess it was a help, because I was able to take pictures of there first moments as a family together! I wish someone had been at the births of my children to snap some early photos, but it just wasn't a priority for me or my husband to be taking pictures at the time!

About 4-5 months later, as we prepared for our move to Guam, leaving Mikayla, Hannah, and Jason, they were kind enough to let us stay with them. When it comes to overseas moves with the military it can take up to 2 months for our household goods to make the long journey to us, so we wanted to send it as soon as we could. What better time then right before I would be gone myself, with Natalie (2 1/2 at the time) to visit my mom for her wedding for 3 weeks the month before our overseas journey truly began. And when I returned home our apartment lease was ended, our stuff was gone, and Natalie and I stayed with Mikayla and Jason in their brand new house (which they were remodeling at the time!). Jon stayed with another friend, Eric, from his from work (who also had a young baby born the same month as Hannah), and who lived much closer to work, and he came over during the day to help with Natalie and Hannah when he wasn't babysitting Ava as a favor to Eric. Of course, I was in my 1st trimester of pregnancy with Zachary, which meant I was often nauseous, but as much as I could during the days while Mikayla was at work, and Jason was working on the remodel I played with Hannah and Natalie. It was actually a lot of fun, though it was cramped, during these few weeks. There was no one I would've rather spent so much time with before we left Virginia.
During our few weeks there we even went all together to Busch Gardens for the 4th of July. It was Natalie's first time at an amusement park and boy did she love the rides! And would you know, of all the years we spent in Virginia, so near to Busch Gardens which we could get one free pass to each year (military special), and both time we went I was in my first trimester of pregnancy!! The other time was when my mom and sister had visited us and I was 12 weeks pregnant with Natalie, and though I begged the doctor, they said I should NOT go on ANY rides at all! With my fear of miscarrying again, I did not dare to question that as much as I wanted too, and it was the same way the second time around. So though I enjoyed the shops and shows and even fireworks Busch Gardens had to offer, the closest I got to any ride was the train that ran through the park to shuttle guests from one 'country' to another.

Another fun story from while we stayed at Mikayla and Jason's house was first discovering Natalie had inherited my fear of bugs. While I am really only particularly scared of spiders and any bees or wasps, Natalie couldn't tell the difference at this age. One day when I sent her to the room we were staying in because she was in trouble, almost as soon as the door closed I heard the most ear piercing scream. When I went inside, Natalie was climbing from her small toddler size air mattress onto the taller queen size one, as fast as she could move. When I asked her what was wrong, in her panic she cried "There's a bug!!!" And I looked to see a housefly on her pillow! I couldn't stop laughing as I tried (and still try today) to convince her that flies and ants won't hurt her!

This is a post to record my Young Adult years at

Friday, October 22, 2010

Little Moments of Life On Base

Around the age of 6, my mother had recently had a new baby girl (this made me the oldest of 3), and my grandfather and cousin had passed away, it was quite a year. But I still remember some little moments of everyday life surrounding those giant ones.
My stepfather was in the Navy on submarines, so we had the privilege, I always thought, of living in a house on base. It was situated on a col-de-sac, which was neat because it gave me plenty of space to ride my bike. That was the year I learned to ride a 2 wheeler, and boy did I! Growing up, we rarely lived in communities I was able to do this in very much- busy, crowded apartment complexes, or my Grandma's house which is out in the boonies surrounded by trees and a road with many steep hills. But on base, I enjoyed many fun pastimes that year.
Once we got invited to a friend's pool party. I remember being in awe that that had a pool in their very own back yard! It was above ground, and I just remember thinking it was huge!! To a six year old, it was very deep and plenty of space to swim and play. In the future when I saw above ground pools, I always thought they were lame and not deep enough, but this one stands out in my memory as being the biggest one I have ever seen (because I was so little at the time!). I even imagined what it would be like if we bent one of the sides over, like you could in the little kid pools, and the water flooded out. I pictured it being so much, it would wash away the cars from the street!
Then there was my own backyard, or it may have been our neighbors. I just remember that as it had a decline into the trees at the back, there was a little fenced in area, and steps cut right into the hillside. No wood, or stones, just the dirt, like someone took a shove at a perfect 90 degree angle to make steps up into the yard in the steep grassy hill. That part must have been on our neighbor's side, because I remember trying to get my stepfather to do it in our yard but he wouldn't.
Another brief glimpse from my life as a submariner's step-daughter, was going down to meet the submarine when it pulled in after a 3 or 6 month departure. One time particularly, my mom dressed me in this very patriotic dress, with red and white stripes along the bodice and a puffy skirt of blue with white stars. We got on a bus that took us into the restricted area where the submarines docked, though I don't even remember seeing my stepfather get off, just being on the bus in a dress I actually really liked that was perfect for the occasion.
I also remember listening to a lot of Ace of Base in my grandma's old white Subaru as she drove us everywhere. She lived with us here, as well as almost anywhere else we went, and she took care of me and my sisters.

This is the 3rd in a series of 12 posts I am doing to record my youth for my children and grandchildren at

What's Up?

Well, that week seems like it was closer to a month long! As I sit down hoping to add a new Mommy's Piggy Tales for this week I am struggling to think of anything since I have been out of writing and remembering mode for 'so long'! Don't get me wrong, I truly love writing, but it was nice to not worry about it for a week, not wonder what to write about next. And honestly I don't think I could've kept going as last week wore on even if I wasn't having some technical issues, because my cold really bore down hard on me. Now though I am feeling physically better with only a lingering cough as a reminder, though this week has brought new challenges as my husband had to go off island for a week, and this is the first time since Zachary was 3 months old that we have had any time apart, though luckily by the time I even begin to adjust to being the only adult in the house, my Jon will be back, and soon we will be off to my sister's wedding!
I am so excited for our trip home which has all ended up coming together perfectly (despite much stress early on). Our whole family is in the wedding, my daugther is a flower girl, my son is a ring bearer, my husband is a groomsman, and I am a bridesmaid! And as of yesterday, I guess I will be singing in the wedding as well. I am honored she would ask me, but also quite nervous. I haven't sung on stage by myself in about 3 years. At least in my case, for a while I had built up to not being so nervous about it when I was regularly or occassionally singing at church for solos, but over such a time period having NOT done it, the butterflies are bunching up in my stomach when I think about it! Luckily the song is familiar, I just hope I do it some justice- From This Moment On, by Shania Twain, one of my sister's favorite singers and one I enjoyed when I was younger though I haven't listened to her very much in recent years.
Now that you are formally updated, and my new computer power cord is plugged in and ready to keep my laptop from dying down, on to my next post! Thanks for understanding my absence!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Technical Issues

I am experiencing some technical issues with my computer, so I may not be on for a week or so! I promise to read all the posts of my Mommy's Piggy Tails group when I get back up and running! I haven't forgotten you!!

Who Wants to Marry Me This Time?

I am honestly not sure when exactly this was, but I do remember I went to a school of some sort- whether is was preschool or grade school is sorta jumbled up in my memory.
I do remember that my mother and stepfather were managers of an apartment complex and while they lived in an apartment close the the front of the complex, beside the office, I actually lived with my grandma in a small two bedroom unit towards the back. It was just her and I, as my sisters (I think this was before my youngest sibling was born) lived with my mom.
I remember coming home from school and watching Care Bears in my Grandma's living room with my sister Carolyn. And sometimes if we were really good, we would get to have some fruit snacks, something my mom never kept in her own home.
And one of the good things about living in an apartment complex is having friends who live right outside your very own door! There were two little boys, brothers, who lived just across a small courtyard type area. And as any little girl, my favorite game was pretending to get married! In fact I had my first kiss (just a little peck on the lips- but that was a big deal to a very young girl!) with the older of the brothers. Though in fact, they would argue over who got to play the groom, and boy did that make me feel good!! Probably the only time in my whole life I had boys fighting over me!!

This is my 2nd post in a 12 week series I am doing to record my youth for my children at
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

WFMW: Travelling with Necklaces

I am very excited to share that very soon we will be making our nearly 16 hour trip home for a much needed visit with my family and friends! Let me clarify, I am excited to be at home for a while, not quite so excited for the travel itself with 2 young children! (Pray for us as we take the kids on some long international flights back to the states- my big boy Zachary is going as an infant in lap which should be interesting!)
But it had me thinking, how am I going to get my jewelry there without all my necklaces turning into one big tangled blob! That's when inspiration struck! I don't see how I didn't think of it sooner... snack size Ziploc baggies!!
After reading a post by ohamanda, and hearing her own tips for using large Ziploc bags for the children's outfits (tip #7), or to keep delicates separated from everything else neatly, I thought why not use the teeny tiny ones for my necklaces! Now I haven't done this yet, so I don't know how well they will stay untangled from themselves, but at least if you ask me, it is a lot easier to untangle one necklace from itself then from a wad of 10 others!!

I have no doubt this will work for me! Do you have any travelling tips or tricks you would like to pass on to me? I would appreciate any helpful suggestions, particularly for flying with young ones!

This is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Contact Me!

Well, I have heard many other bloggers share their own disappointments when they find they are unsure of how to get ahold of a fellow blogger who doesn't have any contact info on their blog. Well I don't know if that is me or not, but I am guilty either way! At least until now!

I have added a new "About Me" page, and at the bottom is my new email address! So please feel free to email me directly with any questions or comments, I would love to hear from my readers!!

My new email address is crystalizedreflections@yahoo.com. I can't wait to hear from you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Surviving Sickness

Well I have been the latest victim of a cold in our household! It has been sort of up and down, today is a down day, and appropriately, if you ask me, it has been raining! I actually enjoy the rain here as long as I don't have to go out in it. And honestly I prefer it be rainy when I am sick, don't ask me why, but it just feels more appropriate to me!! (I never said I was normal!) So here is my list of what I like to do when I am sick...

1. SLEEP!! Of course, being sick complicates that sometimes. For example, I can't stop coughing! And being a mommy further complicates it because I still need to take care of the kids instead of nap (though I will be napping during the nap time when both of them are down today).

2. Drinking nice HOT cups of tea. My favorites right now are Sleepy time, which has chamomile in it and relaxes me, and Orange, Passion fruit, & Jasmine Green Tea. That last one may sound a little different, but it is awesome!

3. I pull out some DVDs and just relax and watch them on the couch. While the kids aren't in the room, I watch Monk today, when they are with me, I am watching Disney movies- which are some of my favorites! Normally we really try to limit the TV time, especially for the kids, but when someone is sick- me or them- I tend to enjoy the little distraction that keeps them from driving me nuts!!

4. I pull out the soups and chilis! Tonight for dinner, we are having a Turkey & Black bean Chili from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. Takes me half an hour in the morning to throw together in my slow cooker, then we are set! I had already planned this for today, but now I am really looking forward to it. For lunch I will probably have some traditional chicken noodle soup- and since we all know I am a little strange already- I actually really like the condensed Campbell's one instead of the Progresso one with all the extra stuff in it.

5. I pull out my softest blanket and curl up under it. Sometimes Natalie even joins me, she likes blankets too. I don't know what it is about blankets, but I just LOVE soft, warm, cozy blankets!!

6. Time for the soda crackers! Or some of you may call them saltines, but I grew up in a house that always called them soda crackers! The first time I asked my husband to pick some up for me, he just looked at me funny and said "WHAT are SODA crackers??"

7. I pull out a good book. If I am not able to sleep while the kids rest, then I at least enjoy a little bit of my own quiet time with a good story. Right now on my list (for fiction) is one of the few Nicholas Sparks books I have tucked away for just such a day! And I can usually finish these in just 2-3 days, perfect time to recuperate from a cold!

8. I take my vitamins! I am terrible about remembering to take my vitamins, but if I am sick, I really try to put the effort in to remember so my body can be in the best condition to fight whatever bug off! Though if I really want to do myself a favor, maybe I should try harder to remember regularly so I won't get hit so bad in the first place!

9. I take HOT showers! Okay, so I actually do this regularly anyway, but I especially enjoy them when I am congested and get that temporary relief the steam and heat brings!

10. What do you do when you have a cold? Any tips or tricks you can pass on to me? I could use all the help I can get while I am feeling under the weather and have to care for 2 young kids still!

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Our First Big Military Move

As our first anniversary was only a month away, it came time for our big move out into the world. After the wedding we had decided to save money by continuing to live with my mom since the downstairs acted as almost a duplex. My sister's were on one side, then Jon and I shared the master on the other side of the house. We had our own kitchen and shared a bathroom with 2 of my sisters. I look back and think, POOR Jon! He was the only man in a house full of women for almost a year!
But after Thanksgiving in 2004, we packed up my silver Escort and said our goodbyes. With Diamond, our little black Pomeranian, and a map, we made our way from Washington state to Virginia. It took us a week. We took the long way going down through Oregon and California then crossing into states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. That part of our journey was fairly uneventful. Though at a gas station just before hitting California, a gentleman was nice enough to point out that our tires looked like it was about to go flat. Luckily where we had stopped sold tires and it was early in the day, so we hung out a little bit as they replaced the tire, which I am sure saved us a lot of grief later down the road had something happened to the tire while we were out in the middle of nowhere at night!
We made no stops to rest until we were in Oklahoma, where we visited with Jon's family for a couple of days. We were quite anxious to make it to our new home and find an apartment. We made the rest of our journey going through Arkansas and Tennessee before finally reaching the Western tip of Virginia. Now reading the map, I thought it would be quicker to take a smaller rural highway through the bottom of the state to the coast, rather the go up and around, then back down to our final destination in Hampton Roads. So following the map we got off the interstate and looked for the rural highway. What we hadn't noticed was that this road was twisting and winding its way through a national forest!
We happened upon this portion of our journey as it had just begun to get dark out. So in the dark of night, on roads that were unbelievably twisting and going up and down the heavily forested countryside, we made our way going about 25 miles per hour. There were few and far between buildings of any sort. It was like something out of a horror movie. We had to stop once on the side of the road as the roads were making me dizzy, and already 9 weeks pregnant (with my first pregnancy which I miscarried), I had to throw up. It was the worst part of our whole road trip. We happened upon this old gas station, that didn't even take any credit cards, but luckily we had enough cash on us. The machines were dusty and had the sort of numbers that flipped down instead of something digital and technologically advanced! Even the men behind the counter looked like a cross between comical hill billies and horrifying mountain men.
Just as I was about to need another stop for my protesting stomach, we stumbled out of the dark woods and onto civilization of some sort. It was a small little town with very few hotels, but we quickly got checked into the Holiday Inn, where I continued to feel sick, but finally got some much needed rest.
I woke up feeling much better the next morning and ready to hit the road again. After the continental breakfast we received directions to get back onto the interstate going north, where it would intersect with the original interstate we never should've gotten off of. After that our journey was much easier for the last few hours.
When we arrived in Virginia though, we were greeted with the new problem, finding an apartment. This proved to be difficult since not many places took pets. And the best looking ones had income restrictions which we only barely exceeded. In fact all the places I had looked up prior to leaving fell in that category though none had that specific requirement listed on their websites. I had even called some to find out more information and still had not been told this rather important detail. But on our second day there, we did manage to find a suitable apartment which was our home for the next 2 years.

This is the 1st post in a 7 week series I am doing to record some memories from my young adult years at .

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In Labor? Let's Go Eat!

Though I think most women when they are at the end of their first pregnancy would be anxious to get it over with, from the stories I have heard, I don't think my mom was. When she went into labor with me, instead of worrying about making it to the hospital, she went out to eat! No wonder I love Chinese food, because that's where she went. It's very hard for me to imagine this, the last thing I was worried about when I was in labor with my first child, was food. I just wanted to get checked into the hospital!! But knowing my mom, she is a much stronger woman then I am.
I have been reminded much throughout my life, that she was in labor with me for around 36 hours. A number I feared, since I have been told a woman takes after her mother when it comes to how long labor may last- and yes, my first was around 32 hours or so. I had an epidural, I am not sure if my mom did or not, but I know she had back labor. I was a pain in her back from the beginning!
As for breastfed or bottle fed, a very hot topic for moms now, I was bottle fed. My mom tried to breastfeed me, but it was too rough on her and she was in a lot of pain, so it didn't last long. And again, like mother, like daughter, I was unable to breastfeed for similar reasons.
For the short story of how I got my name, check out this post.

This is the 1st in a series of 12 posts to record my youth for my children at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My Gifts from God



Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. ~Psalm 127:3





AMEN!


This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday

WFMW: For the Splatter

When my daughter was first learning to feed herself, I rushed out to the store to buy a $15 splat mat to put under her high chair to spare as much of the carpet as possible from any stains her food may leave.

Honestly I wasn't very impressed by the overpriced piece of vinyl. It was never big enough to cover the range of my daughter's throwing arm. I often imagined I had a baseball star in the making for how far she managed to chuck the raviolis!

Now I know better, I need something, wider, longer, and cheaper!

For my son I went out and spent about a third of the money to get a vinyl tablecloth. It works wonderfully! I have more options in size, and it can still function as a tablecloth when I need it to (if I give it a good wipe down). It actually seems to even stay in place better since the underside isn't vinyl (at least on carpet). And I can choose the pattern and color I want as well, so it can match my decor or rotate with the seasons, if I feel the need for a change (or if I just get tired of looking at one particular design).

Tablecloth splat mats work for us! How do you keep your floors clean with toddlers pitching their food all over?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Kind of Man are You?

At some point in this past week, I was loving on Zachary and called him, "My little man!" And Natalie elaborates my statement with, "A cute, fluffy, little man!"
Needless to say, daddy wasn't a huge fan of Natalie's choice in adjectives for his son!

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Though I didn't catch much of what was said, in a case of what I am sure was being overtired after a later then usual night at church, Natalie began to chatter to herself...and kept going and going and going. She sat on the potty talking away, then moved onto her bedroom, and held a steady stream of one-sided conversation with whoever was listening, and didn't go silent until the lights were out! If I hadn't known any better, I would've thought her daddy had given her a cup of coffee with the buzz of energy she was running off of!

This post is linked to

Top Ten Tuesday: The Power of Prayer

I know prayer is a very powerful tool. In fact it is one of the easiest things a Christian can do, but also something we tend to neglect so often. These are the burdens on my heart today. I have prayed over these all weekend, and continue to throughout this week. I want to be a prayer warrior for God. Will you pray with me?

1. For my family: Our family has been in waiting to get approval from my husband's job for an opportunity to go home for my sister's wedding. For over a month and half we have been praying and waiting- sometimes patiently, sometimes not so patiently- to receive our answer so that we may buy tickets. We are reaching the point though when we will have only 1 month to go and a decision must be reached on our part, whether or not to go. Pray my husband's work will give us their answer this week, before we have to make the final decision to cancel the trip.

2. For my extended family: This past week there was a birth on my husband's side of the family. Without going into too much detail, the pregnancy was hidden and there are still concerns of possible rape that may have occurred. My husband's family needs prayers for wisdom and healing during this time.

3. For my friends: A particular friend from church shared with me this past Sunday morning about another friend of hers who had passed away very suddenly. She leaves behind a husband and a 3 month old baby. It breaks my heart to think of a child growing up without a mother, yet so many do. Pray for those she left behind to seek the Lord's comfort in this time of grief.

4. For my church family: In our church this week, as I shared on my last Top Ten Tuesday post, we are having Summit Meetings with a guest evangelist, Harold Vaughan. It has been wonderful to hear the Lord speak through his powerful messages. Pray as the week goes on, more visitors may come and hear the Gospel, and more may find an eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.

5. For other moms: I read about Leslie Evans this weekend, and my heart was broken for her and her family. You can read more about her story here. Please pray for healing of her body as she is in a coma after giving birth to premature twins at 21 weeks pregnant, both babies have gone on to be with the Lord, and pray for wisdom for her family and doctors in the decisions to be made.

6. For missionaries: We are all called to share the Gospel as Christians. Each in our own way, but there are those who are specifically called as missionaries. Our church supports many, but in particular, there is a family on another of the Micronesian islands who are working on getting a radio tower built. Please pray for their safety in the construction of this tall structure using limited equipment.

7. For our leaders: I am not a fan of our nation's leaders at the moment, but I respect that they are in those positions. Positions I could never fill myself! It can't be an easy job, and I pray that God will give them the wisdom to make the right decisions for our country.

8. For our country: As a nation we need prayer. Beyond prayer for our leaders, but prayer for the people. I pray for people to come back to God, so that as a nation we can come back to God and remember what our great country was truly founded upon. We need to constantly keep the people our our nation in prayer.

9. For the world: There is so much in the world today that brings such sadness to my heart. The world is so ignorant and blind to the perversion all around them, that nothing is shocking or surprising to anyone anymore. I pray that God will lift the ignorance from their eyes and that they may see Him and see a better way to be living. And I pray that God's people will have the courage and passion to go out into the world to share His message of hope, the only real hope.

10. For YOU: What has God placed on your heart this week? Is there something or someone you need prayer for? Feel free to share in the comment section, and I will pray for you as well.

I know I shared this verse last week, but it is so important to remember...
Pray without ceasing... ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17

And remember, it is just as important to say thank you as it is to say please. So don't forget to praise God for the many blessings He bestows on you as well. And for that matter, praise Him for the trials that come as well- they come so that we may be broken and used by the Lord, and that should always be our heart's desire.

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: My NOT Camera Shy Guy!

Zachary has been particularly adorable lately! And he is starting to say "Cheese!!" whenever I pull out my camera. Sometimes he even starts 'running' for the camera! I just LOVE it!!



And he is really walking now! Won't be long and I won't be able to get anything but a blur as I try to snap a picture of my speedy little guy!!



This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.

WFMW: Journaling for Our Children

It is so nice to know the things I try to teach Natalie do get through sometimes, at least the most important things.

As we were leaving for church one night last week, I looked up at the sky in which the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sight, pink and orange stripes ran across the sky from the horizon. I said, "Look at the pretty sky, Natalie!" and then she looked up and exclaimed, "Jesus painted the sky!"

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A few weeks ago Natalie had her blood pressure taken for the first time at the doctor's office. She did not like it, and now asks if she has to do that everytime we go to the doctor's....

Well as we went out to the car on our way to church a different night last week, I was holding Natalie's hand in the parking lot of our building. I gave her hand a little squeeze, and in a silly but curious way she asks, "Mommy, are you taking my hand pressure?"

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While I love sharing these funny and cute moments with everyone out in the bloggy world, I have decided to start a journal for each of my children- though Zachary isn't talking quite yet. I will record all the funny things they say and do, so not only I can look back on them when I need a laugh, but also so they can have a treasured keepsake someday to share with their own kids as they too discover the joys of parenting a child who speaks their mind- however silly or goofy the thoughts may be!! I already bought the cutest little journal for Natalie's cute words!

This works for us! How do you record these treasures for your own children?

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And if you are a sentimental sap like me and love that idea- you just may love recording your youth with Janna over at Mommy's Piggy Tales beginning October 7th! It will be a 12 week session (though you may write as often or not as you choose), and each week we will be sharing memories from a different age inour lives! Just think about having your story written out to share with your children and children's children!! What a great way to leave a legacy!! Check out one of my posts from the last session.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family and

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Treasures in Scripture

At our church this week, we are approaching the 'summit'. Actually we are going to be having the annual summit meetings, in which a guest speaker comes and we have church services each evening of the week, Sunday through Thursday. It is a time for revival and being refreshed in the Holy Spirit, and I really enjoyed it last year and look forward to it next week. There are usually very dramatic messages that are truly convicting to me, which is just what I need right now. I have been feeling very unsettled, there has been a lot going on in our household, too much to truly explain. So as I pray this week for the meetings, and look to the Lord's Word for peace, here are some of the treasures He has given me to truly apply to my own life recently:

1. "...[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered..." ~1 Corinthians 12:5b, I shared about this particular topic not long ago. I am still working on it though. My scope has widened though, and I am reminded of it as I sit in traffic, fuming over the car who cut me off, or as yet again my husband has gotten called into work on his day off. I don't get to pick who I practice love towards, and God makes it easy to remember- EVERYONE, even those who may make it difficult for me.

2. "..for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." ~Matthew 6:21, this has always been one of those verses for me that gets me every time I read it. What am I holding as treasure- money, my home, my hobbies, or most importantly, God? Is He my treasure above all else, or am I more focused on the things that will eventually pass away? I know where I want my heart to be, on the things of Heaven that please God.

3. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo. I am with you always, even to the end of the age." ~Jesus, Matthew 28:19-20, A few weeks ago, while praying for the summit meetings with some other ladies, the first question they asked as we prepared to bow our hearts and heads, was "Who are you going to invite?" and I was caught completely off guard. In my defense, it was still weeks away, and had only been announced the week before, but I hadn't really thought about it. And God used that moment, to make me realize I need to always be thinking about it, I should be constantly inviting others to church. We are commanded to go out and share the Gospel, the very least I could be doing is actively and regularly inviting others to join me at church on Sunday, and it wouldn't even take much effort on my part!

4. "Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her..." ~ Proverbs 31:28, I am constantly striving to be a better wife and mother. Although my husband has been acknowledging my efforts much more recently, I still know there is more I could be doing, I should be doing for both him and my children. I don't think I will ever rest from striving to be the Proverbs 31 woman, just as I will always strive to further and better serve the Lord- there is just no end to those tasks while we are on this earth!

5. "Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb..." Psalm 37:1-2, Just as in 1 Corinthians 12 (see #1), I am called to not only forgive and love someone who has wronged me, but not be envious of them either! How hard is that?! If I feel wronged, the last things I want to do are love that person or to let it go. I want to hold onto it and find a way to repay them which I believe is rooted in being envious, jealous, of their power, position, or something they have that I do not. And yet God tells me I am to let it go, and love them. Definitely something the Lord continues to show me as He works in my heart.

6. "A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind." ~Proverbs 18:2, We shouldn't only be interested in sharing our own opinion, but also willing to listen to others to find understanding and wisdom. As a very opinionated person, this is something I always need to remember, it isn't just about me sharing my thoughts, but also about understanding those of others, so that I can see from all sides and perspectives (which is why I will always encourage comments and ask for your opinions as well). I sure don't want to be that fool!!

7. "Rejoice always..." 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Did you hear that? ALWAYS, we are to always rejoice as Christian believers. Not complain, grumble, or whine, but rejoice!! I think many of us have a habit of seeing the negative things as we struggle or stumble through them in life, but God commands us to be always rejoicing. I believe it was last year's speaker at the summit meetings who put it something like this- what truly is the worst thing that could happen to you? You lose your job, lose your family (on this earth at least), and have to live under a bridge where maybe you get very sick and you die- but then you get to go to your Heavenly home, and what is not to rejoice about there?!! In the end, the worst thing that can come for us as believers is the physical death, but what a wondrous occasion it will be to go be with God in heaven, so truly we have nothing to whine about, do we?!

8. "...Pray without ceasing..." ~1 Thessalonians 5:17, This is another part of the above verse, another command from God. I thought both deserved their own number on my list because they truly are so important, but also very overlooked in our day to day lives. At our church's ladies night this past week, one of the things the pastor's wife touched on, was that if we are all being completely honest with ourselves and God (because lets face it, He already knows), we could all do better in terms of our prayer life. Note this passage- we are to pray without ceasing, it should be continual, and just a part of who we are to be in constant communication with God. I know I can always improve in this area- one way that has helped me recently is carrying a prayer journal with me in my purse and pull it out whenever I hear something I need to remember to pray for- also just stopping to pray for it right away before the opportunity to forget arises at all!

9. "A friend loves at all times..." ~Proverbs 17:17a, I have often taken advantage of this verse, I have many friends who have seen me at my worse and still loved me through it all. But do I remember to love all my friends with that same attitude? I hope I do! I like to think I will, not much has come to test me in this, but it is often something I try to keep in my heart. So that I may remember, if any circumstance comes up that is less then easy to deal with, I may be a friend in times or difficulty as much as in times of joy.

10. "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." ~Psalm 139:13-14a,16, I watched a moving testimony of a woman who was an abortion survivor. She survived a horrible abortion procedure in which saline is injected into the womb for the purpose of burning the baby and killing it, before inducing labor (late term abortion), and she was born alive still!! Now she knows the Lord and His purposes for her and she shares her story. I have always loved these verses, and I try to apply them to my own life, to remember God has a purpose and a plan for each one of us. He is in control, He will sustain us, just as He sustained that little baby girl who was unwanted by her own mother, she survived only through God's powerful hand intervening in man's cruel plans. (Her name was Gianna Jessen if you want to goggle her, to hear her story!)

I hope somewhere among those verses, God has touched your heart.
This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday}

Friday, September 24, 2010

Are You More Popular than Christ?

Jesus was not very popular.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him, and they blindfolded Him, saying, "Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?" And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming. ~Luke 22:63-65


He didn't take the easy road or follow the crowd.

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." ~Matthew 9:10-13


And He is to be our example.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. ~Ephesians 5:1-2


We should be walking in His footsteps.

And He [Jesus] summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." ~Mark 8:34


Not trying to be popular so the world will like us, but being set apart so the world can see a difference in us, as children of God.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:1-2


Do you look more like the world, with its popularity, doing what's easy? Or are you different, even unpopular, for NOT following the crowd?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Join Me in Recording My Youth!

It is weird to NOT write a Mommy's Piggy Tales memory post this week! I have enjoyed so much sharing my own life but also reading about other people's stories as well. No two stories are the same, God gives us each a very unique and wonderful life that can never match up perfectly with anyone else anywhere or any time!! How awesome is that?!!

I am so excited though that Janna will be starting a second session of Mommy's Piggy Tales beginning October 7th. So if you didn't participate (or even if you did!) in the first one, you have a second chance!!

I am a very detail oriented, and sentimental person. I wish my own mother and grandmother had a copy of their life stories to share with me! I would love to read about what like was life for them growing up and see how it differed from mine. It has been a huge blessing to write out my own, so that someday I can leave a legacy for my children. Maybe they will learn from some of my mistakes, or maybe they will just have a more clearer picture of me, not just as their mom, but as a woman who once was a girl. It's so hard to believe that huh? Our mom's were once girls, and they felt some of the same emotions we felt in our own youth!

Now, to participate is so easy! All you have to do is share a little or a lot each week about a different year of your life. I know personally, just reading through some of the other ladies post's helped me trigger some memories of my own that were buried in my mind. Or look at a picture album, pictures capture moments in time and help us to look back and remember, use them! Talk to your family, see what they remember about certain events in your personal history. Maybe you have a recipe that trigger childhood memories, share that! Or a favorite childhood toy or book. It is so open-ended, anyone can do it!!

If you want to give it a shot, contact Janna at
and link up on October 7th. Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WFMW: Tired of Snacking on Smashed Up Granola Bars?

I always find other moms using something in a different way then it is meant, but still making life easier for them, and think "Wow how creative and clever!"

I walk away wishing I had thought of that myself!

Well now it is my turn!! Even my husband has been pretty proud of me!

My problem: I throw granola bars, the soft kind, into my purse or the diaper bag, for a quick snack later. Sometimes later is a matter of days, sometimes weeks even, but I like to carry some with me for that moment when I need an extra pick me up, or the kids are getting hungry as I sit in traffic. BUT no matter how recently I added them to my bag, they get smashed by the ten million other things I 'need' to carry with me as well!
My solution: While cleaning up a few weeks ago, I picked up my husbands glasses case. It is one of the hard kind that snap shut. I looked at it more closely as a light just went on inside my head! It was the perfect size for my granola bars! I can even fit two of the kid's bars inside one, so I only have to carry around one to two of the cases (the extra for my own snack). I am quite pleased now to be able to pull out a bar for the kids and not have to carefully peel the sticky goop that used to be a granola bar off of the wrapper! YAY!!

Try it and tell me what you think! Do you have any other tips or tricks for totting snacks around for the tots without them getting smashed or demolishing them into crumbs?

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rings Aren't Tasty!

Natalie and I played a game of Pretty, Pretty Princess before lunch yesterday. We went around the board slowly collecting a necklace, earrings, a bracelet, a tiara and a ring. Natalie won the game by being the first one to be wearing each piece of jewelry all at once. Then after being declared the winner, she took the tiara off, and said, "Your turn to be the princess, Mommy!" And handed it to me. What a sweet little girl I have!!

(This picture is actually from last Christmas when she got this game as a gift. We forced Daddy to play it with us, and he actually won!)

But I was still missing the ring, so I slipped the large fake jewel on my finger and showed it off to her. Pretending to admire it, I teasingly said, "Oh, your Daddy has great taste!" Of course I did not expect my 4 year old to find the humor in that, but I got a smile out of it myself. But then Natalie pipes in with, "Rings aren't for eating silly!!" Then I got a really good laugh out of it! And she was right, rings are not for eating, and in all honestly, probably taste horrible.

This post is linked to

Top Ten Tuesday: What I Want From Guam

We have just under 2 more years of life here on Guam. And that is assuming our extension gets approved- which my husband insists should not be a problem (yet they are only supposed to take about a month to go through, and its been closer to 2 1/2 for ours with no word yet...). There is so much to do on Guam, and I want to take advantage of all of it before we leave- somethings with the kids, some not.

1. First on my list, my newest adventure I am so longing for, is to go boonie stomping to an underground lake we have been told about! Doesn't that sound awesome?!! Note: Boonie Stomping is a term basically meaning hiking. "Boonie" is a word that everyone uses on Guam, which I have been told basically means 'jungle'. So you have a boonie car (something you buy here, only to use here to get from point A to B, nothing fancy or expensive), boonie dogs (one of the many dogs you see who roam around in town and on the back streets who were most likely abandoned by there owners when they left Guam- there is no animal control service here)...

2. I want to go parasailing! Now when my mom and her husband visited last April they did this through a local beach club- but it was fully clothed sitting in some seat with a parachute attached- they didn't even really get wet. While it sounds interesting, if I had to choose, I want to go parasailing by being attached to a harness, directly attached to the chute. I want to feel a rush of adrenaline, not just sit in some ride like at a carnival!! So far though I am not sure if anywhere around here offers that.

3. I want to learn how to windsurf. There is a little resort island just off the southern tip of Guam called Cocos Island. All it is, is a resort because it is just a tiny strip of a beach basically! (And though I have heard it called a 'resort', I don't believe there is any actual hotel on the island, you just go for the day.) They offer lessons and then rental of the equipment. It happens all in one day- not like a lesson each night for however long, so all we have to do is get a babysitter for the day!

4. I would like to go to one of the water parks here (we have 3 I believe). Though I doubt they are anything super special compared to ones in the states, it has been so long since I have gone to one and I miss the thrill of dropping down twisty slides into a big pool! This is one I think the kids would also enjoy. Once Zachary begins walking more regularly out and about, we will definitely have a family day at one of these!

5. I want to go explore the tide pools! Now we tried this one right after labor day, but my kids didn't have as much interest in it as I did. Apparently next time we go, I will have Jon play with the kids in the sand as I explore a little!!

6. I want family pictures on the beach!! By this I mean good quality professional type ones, and I want to be in them, not taking them!! I know this may not sound like something 'to do on Guam', but with all the awesome beaches and weather, what better place could there be to get pictures done as a family to represent our time here on Guam!!

7. I have been told there is a botanical gardens somewhere on the southern end of the island. I have been to a few back in the states, always so beautiful. I would love to see if Guam's could rival those, in such a gorgeous tropical evironment, how could it not have some of the most beautiful flowers!!

8. Now on the top of my husband's list would be scuba diving. I don't know how much it would cost in the states, but I have been told it is dirt cheap here compared to stateside when it comes to getting certified to scuba dive. And here, as military, we can do it for the discounted rate of about $75!! And that certification is good for the rest of your life, anywhere you go!! How cool would that be?! Not to mention actually getting to go underwater in different areas of the island to see historic boats now resting on the ocean floor! And there are PLENTY here, after all Guam played a role in World War 2 against the Japanese. I think it would be awesome to see, the only reason it isn't higher on my own list- I am petrified of sharks!! I do hope to get over it though and go scuba diving sometime....lots of people do it each day around here and I have never heard of any attacks before, I am just so freaked out by the thought though!! I am such a wimp!

9. Back to the boonie stomping, I also want to go boonie stomping to the rugged coast lines! I have seen some great pictures, and I would love to know how to get to certain spots, just to see it for myself and take my own pictures! Words can't even describe some of Guam's beauty. You just look around in awe of our mighty Creator, and wonder how anyone could possibly think it is all just random!!

10. Lastly, but most importantly, I just want to spend more time at the beach in general. I want to explore different beaches, play in the sand with the kids, splash in the salty seawater, watch a sunset over the ocean. I want to enjoy it as much as I can before it is time to leave our tropical paradise!!

This post is linked to Top Ten {Tuesday} .

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Clear and Familiar Voice

Lately I have been hearing God speak much more clearly to me. It has been so refreshing and I keep thinking, why haven't I heard Him this often before?

He is everywhere. He is in every little crevice of my life, encouraging me, guiding me, loving me.

Just the other day, I was feeling down. I felt like I would never have the opportunity to truly grow my friendships, that have lasted bordering the acquaintance/true friend line for over a year now, in fact almost 2 in some cases. I have often wondered why my children don't seem to get invited to many other kid's parties or gatherings. But I had to realize, I bring it on myself. I can get so caught up on whats easy, staying at home, adhering to nap times that could really be more flexible, or worrying about the kids behavior. These all are great reasons to stay home, but they are also poor excuses to never get out.

(Sometimes I do forget that though I enjoy hanging out around the house well enough, I have a 4 year old full of energy who just wants to be a kid and have fun, preferably with other kids just as silly as her!)

I am normally a planner, but I could not ignore a phone call from a friend one morning after a lonely evening the day before. She wanted to give me a ride to a play date. My number one excuse, I don't have a car, blown completely away. And as I considered her offer, my mind instantly came up with a list of other reasons I shouldn't go; my stomach had been hurting since I woke up; I haven't showered yet, nor had I quite gotten the kids fully dressed and ready for the day; Zachary would need a nap soon and surely without his nap, or sometimes even with it, he can get pretty cranky when we go out; and then my usual excuse since this is sometimes an outdoors adventure- it is way to hot on Guam, and I hate being sweaty! But I also heard God speaking to me about even this 'little' opportunity. How could I be upset and complain about not being as welcomed into circles of friendship if I turned down every chance I got to spend time with these ladies? How can I let inconveniences ruin my opportunity to grow friendships with good, Godly woman who I admire? So I said yes! And though it did feel inconvenient at times with a mildly cranky toddler, it was well worth the time to talk and enjoy watching the children play together. Natalie needed it too, it is good for her to get a little time to socialize since her best friend (and neighbor) has recently moved away.

(Remember kids are 100% washable! I had to keep reminding myself of that as the dirt clung to Zachary's every inch...its easier for me to keep in mind when they are a little bit older and have a better sense of it themselves. For example, not sticking your filthy hands into your mouth! Zachary had his first taste of actual dirt!)

And during the fellowship I received the answer to my first question, why haven't I heard God speak so clearly before? Because I am constantly growing closer to Him, and the more I do, the more loudly He speaks, and the more familiar I become to His voice. It is a wonderful feeling to constantly be able to listen to His direction and know I am following in His will as He shares it with me, whether it is something that may seem trivial, such as whether or not to go to a play date. Or something huge, like whether or not we should extend on our time on Guam. Life may not always be perfect, but if I am following in His will, I know my life will have that bigger purpose that I so long for, as well as peace, even in the storms.

How clearly does God speak to you? Only in nearness with God will you find true purpose and everlasting peace.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. ~Romans 8:8a

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. ~1 Corinthians 2:12-13

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Six Word Saturday

CLEANING, COOKING, AND CONFUSION FOR DESSERT!

What a day! All week I have been working towards a little 'fall' cleaning. Maybe I shouldn't even call it that, since most people probably regularly mop their floors, but I don't. I just sweep and spot wash. But not this week! I have been dusting, mopping, tidying, and laundering everything I could think of!! Today was my big day of it because not only was my husband home to deal with the kids, but we had guests coming over for dinner...or so I thought!
I had talked with a friend of mine on Wednesday, but she needed to talk with her husband before confirming anything for the weekend. We have been trying to do dinner since around late June!! Something always comes up, something at church, or Jon's work, or just the craziness of life with toddlers! But she messaged me on Facebook Thursday evening to confirm, and I replied...I did reply, I swear it, I remember distinctly what I wrote and hitting reply, and feeling confident we were set, nothing was going to come up this time!!! Well Saturday is here, I made a cheesecake last night, and I made my meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs, YUM! 10 minutes to the time we had discussed Wednesday, I begin looking for my phone just in case they forgot which unit we were in. I find it in the depths of my purse...OFF. Uh-oh! I quickly plug it in and turn it on to find a message from my friend asking if we were on left at lunchtime!! I called her but didn't get through. I checked Facebook to discover my reply was not on the message she had sent me as it usually shows up! Luckily they hadn't made dinner yet or other plans and we did reach them, but what a crazy evening!! I don't know what I would've done if they hadn't come...I have a LOT of meatballs cooking for just us, even with leftovers!!
It was a great time of fellowship though as we ate dinner and watched the kids play. Well worth any 'drama' or confusion that may have come up if you ask me.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

I Will Meet You in Heaven Someday

Loss of any kind is difficult. It isn't something most can anticipate, and it is often hard to accept, especially when the wounds are still fresh.

Although my family picture only has 4 individuals in it, we are actually a family of 6. Two of my precious children went to meet the Lord before I even got a chance to meet them.

Jon and I had tried for about 8 months before conceiving our first child. That baby would have been due around July 10, 2005. I have tried to match a reason to my loss, but that early, there is just no way of knowing for certain. Was it the drive Jon and I made at 9 weeks, from one side of the country to the other? It was a stressful time, those days were the first I had ever been away from my home without the intention of soon returning. Still nothing happened to indicate any problems until 12 weeks, when some spotting and a panicked trip to the ER resulted in the tragic news that I would not be meeting my first baby here on this earth. What made it more difficult was the month that followed as I literally went through the birth pains as my body did what it was intended to in this situation. I wish there had been a way to know if I had a little boy or girl then. I wish I could've named them and given them a proper goodbye, but for some reason, the world doesn't hold these very young ones as actual babies, little souls once alive inside of their mommies. But I know I will meet this little one again someday in my heavenly home.
About three months later, I discovered I was pregnant with my Natalie, and a year after first feeling what birth pains were, I had my second baby in my arms.

I also want to share, I don't believe it is ever to early to share the news of a pregnancy with your friends and family. When I first discovered I was pregnant with my little one, I immediately shared our joyful news with our entire church, and much to the surprise of some, I was only 5 weeks along. I was told I should wait to tell others until I had 'made it through' the first trimester in case I lost the baby. Well I did lose that precious little one, but just as my friends rejoiced with me in the news of the pregnancy, they also were there to mourn with me the loss of my baby. If I hadn't shared, then no one would've known to pray for me. No one would've known to comfort and encourage me in my time of sadness. I have no regrets about sharing my news early.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. ~Romans 12:15


It was the week of Thanksgiving, and I started it with much gladness. On a whim I bought a pregnancy test on my way into work. I wasn't really late yet, but somehow I just felt like something was different. We weren't trying, though we weren't actively trying to prevent anything. Jon and Natalie were with me. It was a Monday night, and I was working childcare while Jon went to a men's bible study group. Before I clocked in, I ran to the bathroom with my digital test- I didn't want any questions in my mind, just a 'pregnant' or 'not pregnant' reading very clearly displayed in words. After a few minutes I emerged and gave Jon the exciting news before sharing it with my boss and good friend Angela. I was overjoyed, around July 26, 2008, I would have another little baby to call my own. Despite my first miscarriage, and careful concern while first pregnant with Natalie, I thought miscarrying was behind me, but I was wrong. I spent one night sharing the good news with all my friends and family back home, only to have to place the calls again with tears barely a week later. Thanksgiving day I began spotting, and spent most of the afternoon and early evening in the ER. All the doctors could tell me, despite a pregnancy test done at the clinic the day before confirming my pregnancy, was that now all tests were coming back inconclusive as to whether I was even pregnant or not. My heart fell, and given my experience, my hope was snuffed out. Sure enough over the long weekend, it was confirmed by my own body, which I felt betrayed by, that I was losing my third child. And though I realize now that I will still meet them someday in heaven, during my time of grief, I was not comforted by it because I still did not understand why once again I had lost my baby. Because God's ways are not our ways, and we can't always understand or see what good can come of it. That's when faith comes in.
And sure enough 7 months later, when we had committed to not trying to get pregnant in anticipation of our big move to Guam, God surprised us with a wonderful gift, in the form of a 4th pregnancy, my little boy, Zachary. And though I feared another miscarriage under the stress of another military move, this time overseas, Zachary stayed right where he belonged during our travels which happened again around 9 weeks along, all the way until well past his due date.

I still don't understand God's ways in the loss I suffered. But I do realize I wouldn't have either Natalie or Zachary if God hadn't called my other babies home so early. And I hope that maybe somehow, by sharing what I have been through it might bring peace and comfort to others who have suffered this type of loss as well. It is never easy to lose a child, no matter how early. Pregnancy is a time of rejoicing in a new life about to enter this world, and no one expects to have that cut short so quickly. But if we remember to look to God, and find our comfort in Him, knowing His plans for us are bigger then our own, we can find peace in our grief.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." ~Jesus, Matthew 5:4

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:8-9

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working with Jeff

This is the final week for session one of Mommy's Piggy Tales! YAY! I made it!

This week's post is actually during my senior year and the summer following (though this week is 'post' high school), this is what truly stood out in my mind when I sat down to write, and since it is work related not school related so much I thought it works still. But I plan on continuing on with more post high school memories on Mondays with Janna starting in October.

My first job was at a thrift store. I got the job just before I turned 16 because my mom was the manager. I will save the details of it for another day (in session two of Mommy's Piggy Tales). When I was 18, and still in school, there was a new guy at work. His name was Jeff. He was handsome, with dark brown hair, and the type of eyes that always had that sparkle in them. And yes, briefly I had a crush on him. He wasn't too much older then me, and he made me laugh. I enjoyed working even the night shift if I was closing with him. He worked hard, so I wasn't picking up someone else's slack, but he also made it fun. But as for the crush, I knew it was just that, and I didn't agree with his lifestyle choices by a long shot. Lets just say he would not have been attracted to me no matter how beautiful of a girl I was. But we were friends, not close, but work friends. Though we had never hung out after work before I had actually asked Jeff to take me to my prom before I had gotten up the courage to ask Jon (see last week's post). Jeff agreed to be my 'date' if Jon couldn't go, but luckily Jon said yes, and Jeff was genuinely excited for me when he did.

One night Jeff and I were scheduled to work the closing shift with our supervisor Shawn. These were my favorite nights because Shawn was pretty laid back and one of the nicer supervisors. She didn't get mad or irritated when you needed help, she just helped you. And she wouldn't give into the customers who were being ridiculous asking for things to be marked down, at least not as much as some of the other supervisors did.
My night started right after school around 3, but Jeff wasn't supposed to show until 5, which is also when our second supervisor Sharon would leave for the night, and only the 3 of us would be left. it was shortly before 5 and the phone rang. I happened to be at the registers beside the phone, so I answered it. It was Jeff, he sounded...different. His emotionless voice told me he wasn't coming in again, ever. I was so confused, the way he was talking scared me. I don't remember who ended up taking the phone from me, Shawn or Sharon, but one of them did.
Later Sharon pulled me in the back, I was upset because something was obviously wrong. Though Jeff and I weren't very close, I still cared enough about him to want him to be okay. I don't remember exactly how much Sharon told me, but basically that Jeff wouldn't be coming back to work, but that he needed help. It was decided since it wasn't very busy, that Shawn and I could close just the two of us, though Sharon stayed later then planned. Once she left Shawn made more phone calls to Jeff to see how he was. Shawn and Jeff were close, at least for how close they could be as a supervisor and employee, they hung out after work sometimes with some other co-workers, doing things I would never have even if I had been old enough. I was always the naive and innocent manager's daughter, but I was okay with that- I knew I didn't want to know anything about that other life.
Shawn was getting very worried about Jeff, and told me she decided to go check on him after we closed (9 pm). Though she fought me at first, I told her I wanted to help him too, and if she didn't agree to it I would just follow her there anyway, so she caved. We rushed through all the after hours tasks, preparing for the next day, and were out the door pretty quickly. Jeff's place was actually right on my way home, though we had to park on a different road since it was only street parking in that part of town. I was glad Shawn had agreed to take me since I probably would've chickened out just realizing how dark that area was and parking a whole street away to walk wouldn't have seemed safe alone. We got to Jeff's house, his parents were across the country visiting family and this was actually one of the rare times he didn't go with them. He let us inside. I was shocked at how he looked, I don't think I had ever seen someone look that pale before. Like all the life had drained from his face, and the sparkle in his eyes was gone, in fact he didn't really seem to 'see' anything, just stared. He moved so slowly and steadily, as if just on auto pilot. Shawn told him to get his things, she didn't want to leave him alone, so he would go home with her. I don't remember what his reasoning had been, but he had locked the basement and thrown his house key down the laundry shoot, so we had to find a way to get to it before we left. The whole time I don't remember saying much. I cried, I hugged him, and just watched in shock at how different this person was to me. Like night and day. I helped Shawn eventually get him to the car and I got in my own and went home. I don't think I slept much that night.
Jeff never came back to work, though he stayed with Shawn and her family until his own came home. I wrote him a letter, which Shawn gave to him. His parents had decided to move him back to the East Coast where they were originally from and he had more family and friends. I hoped to keep in touch, and continue trying to witness to him. I had always snuck it into our conversations at work, inviting him and anyone who would come to church with me.
Sometime the summer after my graduation, Jeff came into the store. I can't remember if they had decided not to move, or just hadn't yet, but he found me in the men's department cleaning up and stopped to say hi. I remember showing off my engagement ring, and telling him more about Jon and prom. He promised to keep in touch (doesn't everyone- I know I do sometime realizing it may not happen!). I still think about him sometimes and pray for him. I know now what was going on that night. Jeff is bi-polar, and was having one of the lows because he had stopped taking his medication. Bi-polar is a form of depression, characterized by exactly what I saw in him, extreme highs and loads of energy, and then falling so low you don't even want to live anymore. This was the first time I truly witnessed that face to face with someone I knew and cared for and I will never forget it. It isn't just one of those things you read about, and this was just one more step for me in realizing how much I still someday hope to become a psychologist, to help others, to help more people like Jeff.

This is my 15th of 15 posts in a series to record my youth with other woman at
. Would you like to record your youth for your children and grandchildren to read about someday? Janna is beginning a second session on Oct. 7th for those who would like to join! I know I will be there sharing many more of my memories!!