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

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


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!


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}