The last time I dressed up for Halloween, on Halloween, was when I was probably around 5 years old. I tried to find a picture, but I think it’s scanned onto my parent’s computer, which is broken right now, and possibly in my older sister’s scrapbook.
Anyway, I was Snow White, and the skirt was the most twirly skirt known to man. My mom actually made the costume, and my older sister’s. She was Dorthy from the Wizard of Oz, with an adorable blue checkered jumper (also with a twirly skirt) and red glitter encrusted slippers. My younger sister was Ariel, and I actually wasn’t jealous, because I remembered wearing that fake red hair when I was three and tripping over my feet in the tight green skirt.
I remember that Halloween because we went to Nana and Papa’s house, and it SNOWED. On Halloween. Halloween in Iowa is always freezing, but this time really took the cake. We stayed warm and dry for the most part, since we were only trick-or-treating for our grandparents. For some reason, maybe as an alternative to going outside and ringing the doorbell, we performed a play for the adults. Papa was the narrator, and I think he made it up as we went along. I remember that it was something along the lines of “Ariel decided to go visit Snow White. While they were chatting and drinking tea, they decided to call on Dorthy. So they went over to Dorthy’s house, and drank more tea…” And at the end, Nana taught us to bow, holding each other’s hands, standing in a line, and raising our arms and then bowing together, repeating at least twice.
But, since I don’t have pictures of that story, I thought I’d share some others from costume parties past…actually just last year.
I don’t know who took this…I got if off facebook. The date is obviously off…
My mom gave me that colonial ball gown for my 16th birthday, I believe. I never thought I’d have any use for it, until the Cyclone Bible Fellowship costume party.
Both of these dresses are actually mine…I was loaded with costumes. I didn’t even wear either of these the year before…
I just wanted to put this one in, since I think it’s really cool. But you can see who I actually was in this picture:
Yep, Princess Peach, with Mario and Luigi! FYI, Brian’s mustache is real.
But back to the nearer past:
This is seriously the most gorgeous fabric ever.
I know what you’re dying to ask. Did Brian dress up like a colonial man? French Revolutionist? Minuteman? Red coat? Did he wear breeches and tights?
Nope. I didn’t think he was going to dress up at all: he shot down my idea of dressing up like an old man and an old lady, or a farmer (using the overalls from last year) and farmer’s wife. But he didn’t let me down. He was late to the party, and then showed up like this:
What is he? (clue: spiky hair, sweat band, blue underarmor shirt)
If you said “ping pong player,” you’re right! (Notice that although we were from different eras, we were still matching color-wise)
Brian made the comment: “You should wear that dress sometime after we get married.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because…it would be fun to kiss a Victorian.”
Many thanks to all who entered my first ever giveaway for a $35 gift card to CSN Stores! I’m so glad so many people entered! I’ve passed the 50 followers milestone! I’m working on finding all of you new followers and following you back.
Shoot me an email to confirm that you’ve seen this, and I’ll email you your gift card code!
Thanks again to all who entered! This was really fun, we should definitely do it again … maybe at 100 followers?!
While that’s in the distant future, Halloween and Holidays are not. Coming up next, some fall themed posts, because it’s FINALLY feeling like fall here!
But while we’re on the subject of giveaways, I won one! Out of the hundreds, literally, hundreds of giveaways I’ve probably entered, I’ve only won two, and they happened to both be ones I REALLY wanted! I won a custom blog design awhile ago, and this week through the Blog Guidebook I won two e-books from Ella Publishing!
I’m super stoked to be able to take more professional looking pictures for this blog, scrapbooking, and projects! Be sure to check out Ella for adorable e-books on design, scrapbooking, journaling, and photography if you’re into any of those.
This is a letter I wrote to you during my senior year of high school. I’ve added some to it since then, and so I’m giving it to you now for your 18th birthday.
Four score and eighteen years ago…
Our relationship has evolved so much over the years! Almost from the time mom and dad brought you home from the hospital, I was jealous of you. I felt robbed of my position, and all the love and attention that was due me. I allowed that bitterness to grow and shape my whole perspective of you. I thought everyone babied you, and gave you special treatment because you were younger and cuter. As a result, I was over-bearing and insensitive; although… you did provoke me frequently and sometimes deserved it a little, maybe? For six or seven years, our relationship consisted of constant bickering, sometimes resulting in fist-fights, and making each other’s lives as miserable as possible.
Sisters and our Snowman
As the years passed, I started to enjoy playing with you. I’ll never forget our doll adventures! Those were good times. But as I got too old for dolls, I mostly ignored you, unless you bothered me. Then I informed you that you were an immature annoying copy-cat, a huge show-off, whose jokes were dumb and whose stories drier than the Sahara. This stage of relative indifference lasted three or four years, about to my sophomore year of high school.
Then one day, you began wearing make-up, mascara and foundation, and lip gloss. I couldn’t believe my eyes; the immature little tag-a-long had morphed into a tall, slender, attractive teenager. Not only had you gone through metamorphosis physically, but you developed talents for drawing, singing, and dancing, with a sparkling wit and keen sense of humor.
But you are also beautiful where it counts; you are compassionate, loyal, and selfless. (What teenager do you know has a ministry of visiting the older ladies without nearby family on a regular basis?!) How did you grow up so fast without me knowing? I must have been far too focused on myself to appreciate the beautiful person that was emerging in you.
I loved taking you to high school and back, jamming out in the car, dancing to our Toby Mac song. I loved making you laugh, because you always brightened my day. I could always go to you for fashion advice, and I still do! I’ll never forget the time I told that boy I’d kick his butt if he ever bothered you again!
You became my companion, my comic relief, my ally, and my fellow schemer. Most importantly, Evi, you became my friend.
Model posing with our sort of matching hats
Caught in the rain soon before I left for college
And of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without the song!
I love you Evi! 🙂 Have a wonderful 18th birthday!!!
Kitchen: one shopping list, one menu list, one recipes-to-try list= 3 lists
Dining room/living room: one list of meal plans for Brian, one list of house hold projects for Brian, one list of wedding gifts, one list of addresses for thank you cards for the wedding gifts = 4 lists
Bedroom: two camping packing lists, 4 lists in the nightstand drawer = 6 lists
Guest bedroom: six sticky note lists, one weekly cleaning list, one to do list, one calender, 5 sticky note lists in the desk drawer, one notebook with probably a hundred daily to do lists = 114 lists, approx.
Pretty much, the only place in our apartment where I’m safe from the barrage of Things-I-Should-Do is in the bathroom.
Each line on each list is one pang of guilt. I didn’t sweep the kitchen yesterday, I’m not going to dust today, we didn’t hang the valance last weekend, I haven’t written that blog post yet, I meant to have half of my thank you cards mailed by October, and now I’ll probably be lucky if it’s done by Christmas.
Not everything is time consuming, not everything is important. I know that, but I still feel like everything should be a priority. I feel like I should have more crossed off at the end of each day. I feel like I should have made progress by now.
It got to the point where I felt so overwhelmed and guilty that everyday around 4 p.m, I curled into a ball on my bed and cried. I cried because I can’t do it all, and I really want to. I cried because everyone wants something from me, and I don’t have anything to give. I cried because I’ll probably never accomplish half of the things I want to, and people will be let down, and it will be my fault. I cried because the more time I take to recharge and relax, means the more hurried and stressed I’ll be when I come back.
Jesus admonished a stressed-out and overwhelmed Martha:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, 42)
I thought and prayed over this verse, and I finally told Brian that I feeling overwhelmed, and a little depressed. He asked me lots of questions, all beginning with, “Do you feel like…How does it make you feel when…” in true psychiatrist style. But actually it really helped me to pin-point my problem: prioritizing and delegating. After we’d established that, Brian had me gather all my lists from throughout the house and combine them into one big list, not including the 100 daily to-do lists. It took up three pages of notebook paper! Seeing all the tasks together in one place was at once overwhelming and soothing, since I didn’t have to try to remember where they were written down anymore.
Like the engineer he is, Brian had me put them into an excel document and number each according to priority, 1 being past due. This was hard. It took me a while, but I realized how much weight I’d been giving to less important things, and re-evaluate things I’d been neglecting. Brian also encouraged to delegate to him anything that he was capable of doing. When I only assigned him installing the valance, he was actually offended, and insisted he could do the laundry, vacuuming, taking out the trash and newspapers, and washing dishes. And he did!
Am I a blessed wife or what?! I’m so grateful that God used my husband to help me get my priorities straightened out. I know it will be a struggle still to stay focused, but with practice and His help, I can stop worrying about many things, and choose the one thing that is needed.
Have you struggled with being overwhelmed? How do you prioritize?
Yes siree, I’m having my first ever giveaway! CSN Stores contacted me and offered to giveaway a $35 gift card to their stores. If you’re familiar with the blogosphere, you may have heard of their network of 200+ stores, where you can buy pretty much anything, from furniture,
Johnson Brothers Old Britain Castles Pink Christmas Collection: Cookware.com
The holiday’s are coming up! A $35 gift card could definitely help with the shopping. Is using a free gift card to buy someone a gift considered re-gifting?!
I’ll let you decide for yourself. Regardless, there are two simple steps to enter this giveaway:
1. Check out CSN stores, come back and tell me what you’d like to use the gift card on. I know it’s hard to choose!
2. Follow my blog, or subscribe via RSS, or to emails. Or all three. Leave another comment telling me which of the three you’re doing. If you’re already following, that counts.
Entries are limited to the US and Canada. The winning comment will be chosen using Random.org, so the more comments with entries you leave, the better your chances. The giveaway will be open for one week, starting Wednesday, October 20, until Wednesday, October 27th.
Monday after we’ve just started back to normal life after our camping trip, Brian had the opportunity to go on a business trip. He called me and asked if I was ok with him going, and I encouraged him to go.
I was all by myself for two days and two nights. It was kind of like being single. Almost. But not really.
I could have called someone to hang out, but I decided I wanted to see how I did alone. I did get a little freaked out at night, after dinner, when it was really, really quiet. But overall, I enjoyed it. I took advantage of the time to get a lot of things done, and watch movies I knew Brian would never want to see with me. Each day besides working on school, writing, and the mountain of laundry, I had some fun time! Popcorn, chocolate, and chick flicks, oh my!
The last day of our trip, written after we arrived home.
We slept in until 9 a.m. again, and while laying in bed, we realized that we would need a new pass to park at the trail where I wanted to hike, so I contented myself with exploring the trails around our camp ground.
Campfire picture that was supposed to be in the last post
Exploring the trail by our campsite
Raspberries! I ate one, but it didn’t taste very good because I’d just brushed my teeth
The cave for which our campground was named. It was blocked up and fenced off.
“1915 Fred Barrows” was here
By this time, I’m feeling very itchy and greasy, despite the babywipe spot cleanings. But I’d also perfected my squatting pee over the toilets; a very useful skill.
After our little hike, we packed up and said farewell to our campsite.
We drove down to Sedona, found some free parking, and just walked up and down mainstreet, looked at a few western ware shops, listened to a native American performance, admired the mobiles and sculpture, and got some Starbucks! Normally, I’m not a fan of Starbucks. I’m a Caribou Coffee fan myself, but after roughing it with coffee we’d made ahead and kept in a bottle in the cooler, I was ready for something civilized. I’d never tried the Pumpkin Spice Latte before, but having tried it, Starbucks has finally recruited me as a fan.
Brian stopped to use the restroom, and after an uncharacteristically long time, he reappeared. “They have real toilets! And sinks!” Ahhhh. It’s the little things in life that we don’t appreciate until we don’t have them, like being able to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, and looking at yourself in a mirror, and sitting on a toilet seat that looks clean, and not gagging from the stench when opening the bathroom door!
After Sedona, we came home. I slept in the car, and we were both so exhausted when we got home, that we left all our stuff in a big pile on the floor. (Brian took care of it the next day and cleaned up for me!) Brian fixed hot dogs while I finished that school work, and then we just chilled. It was so nice to sleep in our own bed again!
I hope you enjoyed our camping chronicles. Let me know in the comments which day’s pictures you liked the best and why!
Our camping adventures continued, from my notebook:
We didn’t get up until 9 a.m. Brian had been awake for awhile, and I’m glad he let me sleep. It as still cold, but once the sunlight reached over the canyon walls, it warmed up. I couldn’t wait to see what our campsite looked like, since it’d been too dark to tell the night before. It was perfect! It smelled strongly of woodsmoke and pine, a creek ran along both sides, and the canyon walls stretched up on either side.
After breakfast, we took a walk around our campsite, and I took more pictures!
That’s right, no fireworks in the bathrooms!
Cliff walls on both sides
We drove down to Sedona, filled up on gas, bought firewood (it’s much cheaper there than at the campsite), and took a few detours.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
We found this castle like house! See the telescope on the roof?
We stopped for lunch after buying a day Red Rock Pass, then we drove up past our campsite to the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Point. It was incredible!
We planned to walk a nearby trail, but neither or us felt very good. It could have been the altitude, or dehydration. We filled our bottles and drove back to our site, and decided to take a nap. I slept long and deeply, and woke up around 4 p.m. Brian suggested we check out the creek. Beautiful!
For dinner, we drove down to a Dairy Queen practically in the middle of nowhere and Bri got a cookie dough blizzard and I tried the pumpkin pie one. Delicious! I definitely recommend it if you’re a pumpkin fan! I needed a taste of fall, since I didn’t see many changing leaves.
The campsite was full when we got back, and very hazy from all the campfires. We lit ours and roasted hotdogs and marshmallows, and just sat and watched the fire burn down, talking to each other now and then.
Brian was beat, so when the fire burned down we put it out and made trip #1 to the bathroom. He’s already sleeping, but I think it’s about time for trip #2 and then bed. Tomorrow I hope to see that trail, and Brian suggested window shopping in Sedona. He knows me well! When we get home, I have a quiz and a project to finish and turn in and a song to practice for Sunday morning. Yikes! I better enjoy the rest of our vacation while I can.
Packing the picnic basket…It was even more full when we left
These are the thoughts I jotted down in a notebook during our camping trip last weekend, with pictures added, of course! Day 1 of our camping adventure:
With each mile we drove further from Phoenix, the stress of the past week melted off a little more.
The drive reminded me of a similar one, but going the opposite direction. Almost three months from the day we drove into Phoenix, we were driving along the same way we were when we first saw our new home.
We stopped at Walmart for a few necessities: a tarp, hotdogs and marshmallows, baby-wipes, and roasting forks. And, we couldn’t forget some Mountain Dew. Brian needed it to stay awake, and I just wanted Mountain Dew because we were going to be camping in the mountains… and I’m super cheesy like that.
The two and a half hour drive flew by. I took as many pictures as I could of the setting sun on the cliffs.
Me being cheesy…and after drinking Mt. Dew
Highway into Heaven…actually just the top of a hill
And then, the sun went down. We knew it would before we reached the campsite, even with Brian leaving work early. Things got a little exciting. The roads were narrow, two way, with glaring headlights coming at on one side and a sheer drop off or cliff face on the other. To make matters worse, the roads curved sharply, so that we couldn’t see what was around the bedn until we were practically past it. We were looking for Cave Springs Campground and had a map with the others along the way, so when a sign flashed past we had some idea of which one it was, but we were thrown off by all the resorts and houses.
God was for us, because we rounded a bend and saw the sign in time to slow down and pull in. We were very glad we came on Thursday because there was still plenty of room. By the light of our flashlights and the headlights we set up our tent, air mattress, figured out how to light the propane lantern, found the restrooms, and then I could think about dinner.
Brian set up our borrowed campstove and I broke out our new camping dishes and a can of chili. We were both starving, and one can didn’t look like enough, so I tried cooking some of the vegetables I’d brought. This is what I did: I wrapped the potatoes and a carrot separately in aluminum foil and set them on the stove top grill, but not directly over the burner, so as not to burn through the foil. We devoured the chili, so Brian ate Oreos while we tried to get those vegetables to cook. Either the foil would burn, or the vegetables would burn, while still being as crunchy as could be. We finally succeeded in cooking one potato and charring the carrot. With the Oreos and chips, we had enough to eat, and by the time we gave up on the other potato, we were ready to crash.
Flashback: I looked up from messing with the vegetables and movement caught my eye. Cat?Wait…“SKUNK!”
“Where?!” Brian asked. It had just walked out of lamp range.
“There!” I pointed into the pitch darkness. Brian switched on a flashlight, spotlighting the plum striped creature as it waddled past our tent and into the bushes.
It was cold. It was freezing cold. I wore sweatpants, a tank top, tee-shirt, and one of Brian’s sweatshirts with the hood pulled up and a winter hat. I was fine as long as Brian cuddled with me with his arm over me and my head on his chest, except that my face was still freezing and I had to sleep with the blankets over my head. And at some point Brian rolled over and left me shivering, huddled against his back. I woke up at every loud car, or Brian’s snoring, and I worried that a bear might mistake the sound for a potential mate. To make matters worse, I really had to go to the bathroom, but I didn’t want to go alone, and I didn’t want to wake up Brian. He would really be bear-like then! Thankfully, we both were awake at about 3:30 a.m., and Brian had to go to the bathroom also, so we made the frigid trek.
It was pitch dark. The stars were breathtaking. On the way back, Brian stopped in his tracks. The flashlight illuminated the skunk, scooting along ahead of us. He didn’t stop at our campsite, luckily.
Well, there will be no book review Friday, because Brian and I will be camping all weekend. We’re leaving today as soon as he gets home, which will probably be in 15 minutes. I think we are finally packed. I made a list of things we will have to stop at Walmart for on the way out of town. As a result, we will probably not get to our campsite until after dark, which is definitely not preferable to me. So far, this trip has been really stressful for me, and it hasn’t even started yet! I haven’t contributed much to the planning since I’ve been swamped this week with school, so we didn’t really prepare ahead of time. Hence, frantic packing last night while I’m trying to attend an online Chemistry tutoring session, fixing dinner, and doing laundry all at the same time.
I am looking forward to getting away. I’ve been spending too much time on the computer, school has been beastly, and my patience is totally shot. It’s probably due in a large part to the fact that I can’t sleep at night. I was up until after 3 a.m. the night before last, and last night it was probably 1:30 a.m. when I finally fell asleep. As a result, I feel like a wreck! I need some rest and relaxation. I hope camping will provide that, but there’s a lot of things that could go wrong, and generally I don’t sleep well in tents.
I’m not sure I like camping. I have vague memories of camping when I was little, and feeling itchy and dirty all the time, having to pee outside, and waking up in the night to a scary noise, and asking,
“Mom, is that a bear?”
“No, it’s some kind of bird. Go back to sleep.”
I can’t wait to see leaves actually changing color! It will be great to spend time with Brian and enjoy the scenery. I’ll take lots of pictures! Of course I’ll share them with you!