Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vacation Thoughts

One thing a vacation should do for you is allow you space and time to experience. As I write this, I am sitting in a bedroom, in the dark, on the floor, in a cabin in Yosemite, as my family sleeps around me.  It is 12:01am and they are all sleeping soundly, but I am up thinking. It is so quiet that I can finally hear myself think.  It only took driving 300 miles away from home to make it happen :)

Tonight I am thinking some anxious thoughts...anxious about my baby - my 5 year old - starting Kindergarten next week. Who will his teacher be?  Will he know anyone in his class?  Will he feel nervous?  Will he feel sad? Who will comfort him if he is upset?  Tonight he is sleeping on the top bunk of a bunkbed- his first time ever doing that. He is growing up so fast.  I thought letting him go would be easier this time, since I already went through this once before with Micah. But it isn't any easier.  He is still my baby.

Tonight I'm thinking some proud thoughts... proud of Micah, my 7 year old, for all of the growth he has experienced lately. He has become very affectionate and loving, coming out of the stage where he resisted my comfort for awhile. He has overcome many of his fears this past year, and will be starting 2nd grade next week.  Instead of feeling anxious, I feel excited for him that he gets to go back to a school he loves and see his friends again. Tonight he won 2 games of UNO that we played in the cabin, and he said, "I love winning, because it makes me think that I'm going to win the Olympics one day!" :)

Tonight I'm thinking some thankful thoughts..thankful for my husband and all he does for our family, for his patience and love towards me, and his amazing fathering skills. He is such a great dad.  He woke up early with the boys at 7am and took them out fishing so that I could sleep in, then took them again the afternoon so I could get a nap. Seriously!  Don't hate me; I know it's rare but I'm so thankful!

As always, late at night my thoughts tend to drift towards the future... what will we be doing? Where will we be living?  Will our goals be reached?  Will certain things change?

But for right now... I sit in the dark, at midnight, in a room on the floor, feeling thankful for what God has given me.  We aren't perfect, we aren't rich, we have issues and needs and bills and problems, but God is.....near.  It's just nice to sit in His creation and be able to really see it and feel it.  And all that stress I felt last week with getting ready to come?  You guys were right, it was worth it :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Modern Inconveniences

My mind has been going one hundred different directions lately and I have been overwhelmed.  We are preparing to go on vacation, but there are so many things to take care of before we go that we have almost cancelled twice.  This is a month where everything seems to have broken in our house and with our cars.  One of our cars has been in the shop 6 times for all different issues in the last 2 weeks, and now the air conditioner is broken right before we take a trip. Our other car is literally too small to fit all of our stuff for our big trip.

First world problems, I know.  There are people with real problems and here I am complaining about luxury items - small inconveniences when you look at the big picture.  Today I realized that I'm really just spoiled - I have come to expect air conditioning when on a long, hot trip.  I have come to expect transportation and always having two cars available.  I have come to expect a new computer, even though I have 2 other backups.  I have come to expect shades on my windows (we woke up one morning and they were on the ground, broken).  We have come to expect so many things, and when those things let us down, we go into a tailspin.  It shows how much of our happiness revolved around stuff, and how easily we let these things affect our mood, our outlook, our relationships, and more. 

This is also how the consumer mentality begins, and how easy it is to get into debt if we don't stop our thoughts and just learn to be content.

I read this post by Tiffany Noth yesterday, and it came at just the right moment. I rarely have time to read blogs anymore, but when I do, I love when they speak directly to something my heart needs to hear. 

Then I read this post by Daniel Parkins, and it reminded me to be thankful for what I have - my health and my family.  My struggles are incomparable to what some are called to walk through.

In three days we will be in Yosemite, marveling at God's creation - and everything will fall into place.  His creation has a way of doing that to our outlook on life.  Lord, help me to find that perspective here in this place, and not just when I get away from it all.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Coming Home!

The husband returns today after 5 days of being away at youth camp with our church youth group.  He has not been away this long in a few years; the last time being 7 days away when both of the boys were 1 and 3 and simultaneously had the stomach flu. This time went MUCH better.

I decided to take off and go to my parent's house, mainly due to the fact that I do not sleep at all when my husband is gone.  I hear every noise imaginable and freak out all night long.  Twice when he was gone, I called the police because I thought someone was breaking into the house. One time I saw a figure in the backyard, and it turned out that it was the reflection of a large vase I had put outside to dry, reflected onto the garage door wall.  It was pear-shaped - totally looked like a large, pear-shaped man coming to get me. 

The next time, I heard footsteps and had a panic attack (literally), and finally got the courage to walk slowly down the hall.  I opened the boy's room expecting to find an attacker, and found Jaden sitting on the bottom bunk, sucking on a lollipop that he had gotten a hankering for at 2am.  He was sitting in the shadows of his bottom-bunk light that was turned on, and it was freaky

So, as you can see, I thought it would probably be best to steal away to my parent's house, where my dad's gun collection (and my dad) would protect me no matter what.  I slept soundly, other than being in the same room with the boys while we played musical beds all night. 

Since the boys are older now, things were much easier.  I did become quite lonely missing my husband, and having nobody to tell all my boring daily details too (except my mom, but she's not my husband).

It was over 100 degrees where my parent's live, so I went on the hunt for a small pool we could set up.  Finally I found one at Rite-Aid, of all places, and $29.99 later, we were in business.  The boys have been in that pool for 3 days straight now! 

Is it just me, or when your husband goes out of town, do you automatically start having more appreciation for military members and their wives?  And single mothers, too?  I don't know how they do it.

While nothing exciting happened (thankfully - we don't need anymore trips to the ER), we had a good week and I am sure it made us all appreciate being together more.  We have 3 short weeks left until school starts - until my baby (age 5) starts Kindergarten, and Micah starts 2nd grade. I am cherishing each and every moment until they go.

Welcome Home, Dad!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Top 5 Favorite Beauty Products

As I age, I have noticed that it is getting harder and harder to look presentable.  Seriously, folks.  If I wake up and go to the grocery store without doing my hair and makeup (which usually entails just some cover-up, lip gloss and throwing my hair in a ponytail), I scare people.  I used to be able to get away with it, but not anymore.

Here are 5 of my favorite beauty products:

1) The Brazilian Blowout.  Two friends and I bought a "Groupon" coupon, and paid $99 for lunch and a Brazilian Blowout.  It was....amazing, to say the least.  For almost 3 months I could wake up in the morning and not even have to do my hair.  My hair did still have some wave, but no frizz, and it only took about 10 minutes to flat-iron my hair (usually it takes about 45).  It would then stay completely straight for the next 2-3 days.  Yes, it has formaldehyde in it (which they promise does not touch your scalp), so I would not do it all the time. I might never do it again because of that (there are many warnings about the Brazilian Blowout).  But now I'm looking for safer versions of this amazing hair product, because now my hair is back to it's frizzy, dry, funky-curly state. (For me, the Brazilian Blowout lasted almost 3 months).

This is my hair. Do you see the funk I currently have to deal with??
2)  BB Cream. I'm still looking for the perfect one, but I read about this cream in the newspaper.  It is basically a foundation, primer, sunscreen, and skin-brightener all in one.  You can put it on and go out without any other makeup on (if you want to).  The more expensive versions run about $30-50, but there are some great ones out there for only $12-15 as well.

3) Bare Minerals.  I can't rave enough about bare minerals.  It leaves my skin feeling fresh and looking smooth.  Their eye shadows stay on all day long.

4) Summer Soles. These may not officially qualify as a "beauty product," but I LOVE these.  As a lifelong sweaty-hand and feet survivor, I cannot live without these.  These are shoe inserts for people with sweaty feet - only these are not Dr. Scholl's, my friend.  These are pretty and fashionable, and I can now wear sandals!  Previously I could not wear 99% of sandals that did not have a cloth sole, because I would slip right out of them. I know this is way too much information, but if you suffer from hyperhydrosis too, you need to look into these.  (Get 20% off by using code "jackandhill")

5) Nail Polish.  Okay, I have never been one to wear nail polish in my life.  But this summer I found the perfect shade, and was amazed at how much different it made me feel wearing it!  I still won't put it on my fingernails more than once a year (I do dishes way too much), but I wear it on my toes constantly.  I feel like a completely different person when I have pretty nail polish on!  I don't go to a nail salon; I just slap on a quick coat and I'm good for about a week.  I bought a mauve color at Target for $5 and feel like a new woman!  (The color I bought looks just like this):


Friday, August 10, 2012

Advice to my Younger Self

Last month I turned 36.  No big deal to some, just "a baby" as others would say, but to me it was a big deal.  35 was the last year that I felt young.  All of my life -for some odd reason- I have seen 36 as the official "middle age" number.  Once you turn 36, you are closer to 40 than you've ever been!  Your twenties are officially behind you, and your thirties are closing in as well!  You have to start thinking about life insurance, retirement, and nursing home options!  Kidding, of course.  But seriously.  36 has always been old to me, and now I'm 36.

I was looking back at my life, reminiscing about my younger days, and started thinking about what I would say to my 25 year old self (why 25 and not 26? It just sounded better).  The year was 2001.  At age 25 I had been married for 2 years.  I was almost finished with my Master's Degree. I had already been a Licensed Minister for 4 years, and was working at a University pursuing full-time ministry on the side.  I was an ambitious girl.  My husband and I were living in a cute little 750 square foot apartment in Costa Mesa, and life was full of working, school, cooking dinner every night, and staying up late watching Friends re-runs.

Here are 10 things I would say to that girl:

1. Chill out a bit.  Ambition is good, but it isn't everything.  Your accomplishments don't define you.

2. Even if you don't end up doing what you set out to do, you are still important and valuable.

3. When things go wrong and you feel forgotten by God, remember all the times He was faithful to you, and He will continue to be faithful to you in the years ahead.

4. Life is not all about you.  One day you'll have kids and they will throw up on your cute clothes and you won't be so self-centered anymore.  Get a head start and start liking kids now. Be kinder to those moms you see in Target who have kids throwing tantrums.

5.  Be patient with your husband. Cut the guy a break.  He puts up with a lot from you.

6.  Invest in your friendships, because they will last as long as the effort you put into them.  Cut off the ones that drain you and leave you feeling empty. Pour your energy into the ones who make you feel alive and refreshed, as well as the ones who challenge you in your walk with God.

7.  Find a good counselor, for you will need her over the years.

8.  Handle your money wisely now, because your life 10 years from now will be affected by those decisions you make today.  Don't just take out loans without thinking of the long-term consequences.

9.  Forgive others. Show more love.  Be less harsh. 

10.  You are passionate.  Be more passionate about God than you are about His causes. 

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?  I'm curious to know!