Our California Adventure

 I’ve had a lot of catching up to do this week, but finally, a week since my last post, here’s my first ever trip to California! Brace yourself for lots of pictures! 

We had an amazing vacation on Labor Day weekend! We both needed a break from our hectic work/school/sleep schedules. I only missed my computer a little bit, there was so much to see and do! And even then, it was just because I wished I could write about it right away and see what all my blogging friends were up to. I loved seeing tall trees, grass in everyone’s yards, and water. Everyone had roses in their yards, and on the street medians, and outside of restaurants. The weather was perfect; every time we walked outside Brian and I breathed a sigh of relief and commented on how cool it felt. I actually wore a light sweater and jeans for the first time in three months!

We were very thankful Brian only had a half day at work. Even at 1:30 p.m. traffic was already heavy in Phoenix. Soon we were on the open road, heading toward the ocean.

This is Arizona…
This is California. Notice the difference?

We didn’t talk much during the six hours there. It was hot in the car, even with the AC, since the sun beat on us through the windows. We also neglected to bring any water…just mountain dew and cream soda. As refreshing as soda may be, when you’re sizzling under glass and on hot leather for six hours, it just doesn’t cut it. On the bright side, we didn’t have to stop to use the restroom ever. When we did stop for dinner at Palm Springs, we got two huge cups of water and rehydrated.

We arrived at my sister-in-law’s at 8 p.m, and after the tour of the beautiful house she shares with three other girls,  we and her housemate Natalie all went to Yogurt Land. I love frozen yogurt places, I’d never been to one until we moved to Phoenix! It was delicious and as healthy as you make it. As we were eating, the ocean came up in the conversation, and I realized that we were really just a few minutes away. My excitement could hardly be contained, after we devoured our yogurt we headed to the pier on Seal Beach. Oh, the salty spray! The threnody of the waves! The cries of the seagulls! I have missed the ocean, and I didn’t realize it until I was there again.

Saturday we had breakfast at Mimi’s Cafe. The pictures speak for themselves! Mmmmmhmmmm.

Crab, asiago cheese, avocado, and bacon omelet with potatoes. 
Blueberry French toast, eggs and sausage

Then we headed to the beach, where we stayed all afternoon. Like, 5 hours or more. It was awesome, but we were without sunscreen, and with baby oil. FYI, that’s a bad idea. I got the worst sunburn in my entire life. Andrea and I burned on our backs and the backs of our legs, and Brian got it really bad on his stomach and face. Sitting, wearing a bra or jeans, and sleeping all became very difficult. With lots of solarcaine spray and aloe vera gel we survived.

We did swim in the ocean too, even though it was freezing. We just had to wait until we were numb on our legs up to our knees, then our waists, then our necks, and then we had to wait for a lull in the waves and swim past where they were breaking.  
That evening, after treating our sunburns, we went to Downtown Disney. It was magical, even though it wasn’t the actual park. The sounds of live music: Spanish, jazz, and classic mixes; swarms of people milling about, glowing store windows, and the smell of caramel popcorn.

We had a hard time choosing a restaurant, they all looked good and were expensive, but we decided on the Jazz Kitchen, which was really good. The decor was fancy and funky, tying in Jazz and musical instruments and notes with the Louisiana swamp in Princess and the Frog style while still being upscale. We went to the “California” letters and Brian and I were going to get our picture taken by the big “C” but I forgot my camera. So, I have no pictures of Downtown Disney, which means I’ll just have to go back sometime! I used my birthday present from Andrea, a Disney gift card, on a pair of really cute aqua sandals at the Disney store. We got to see some of the Disney fireworks too, which were really cool. I can’t wait to go back someday when we can get passes! 

Sunday we went to church with Andrea in the morning, and In and Out for lunch. We watched “The Nightmare Before Christmas” because I’d never seen it before. It was different, much more Tim Burton than typical Disney. We were happy to help her hang up some curtains and pictures and wall stuff in her room; she was such huge help with the unpacking when we moved. 
That evening we went to Hollywood. We had dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen, another amazing restaurant where I’d never been, and we used a mystery coupon that took 50% off of the total bill! That was the best barbecue Hawaiian pizza ever. The plaza area was really neat. 
We walked over to the Chinese Theater and saw the hand prints, footprints, and signatures of famous actors, actresses, and directors in the cement. I took far too many pictures to share here, but here’s a few of my favorites. 
Tom Hanks
Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren
Matt Damon. I have no idea why these pics are sideways.
The Chinese Theater
This is the first movie Brian and I watched together. 
From the souvenir store: life sized cardboard cut outs.
Edward does end up with Bella, but Jacob gets Marilyn! 🙂

Monday morning, Brian and I were finally able to sleep in! I did enjoy waking up at 8 a.m the two days prior, with the sunlight streaming in and the neighborhood noises and cool, almost chilly, breezes coming through the open window. But on Monday, we didn’t have any plans other than brunch at Schooner or Later. We bought coffee as we waited to be seated, and sipped it while watching the morning mist lift from the harbor.The food was delicious again, and after we ate we walked along the wharf a little, and I took more pictures! Last ones, I promise. 
I saved the best pictures for last 🙂 
Anyway, now that I’ve finally got all that off my chest, LA gave me lots of food for thought and ideas to write about, so the next few posts will probably reference this one. I already miss California and my sister-in-law. 
But, it’s back to school and work, grocery shopping, housecleaning, laundry…sigh. Ad despite the lathering on of lotions, my sunburn is peeling. But, I do have the most awesome California tan!

Joyness Journal: Thursday

Today, it has been even harder to find joy.

I took this picture in the parking lot after a storm. 

It’s not a boring day; it’s been stressful and frustrating. Mainly because for one of my classes, our assignment for the week doesn’t make any sense. No one really understands what we’re supposed to do, but we’re not getting any answers and it’s due Saturday and Sunday. And most of all, for my Adobe InDesign class today, I opened the program prepared to export my project as a PDF and turn it in, only to find that all my numerous copies had completely vanished, including my workspaces and preferences. It was as if I’d never used the program before. I’ve already gotten a few gray hairs and driven Brian crazy with all the frustrations I’ve had with the program, but after hours of labor my project was done, only to be sucked into the black hole of technological errors. To make it worse, the help desk was not being very helpful! I got the run-around, and then the issue was submitted as a “case” for a group to work on, and they replied:

Summary:
      user “my files” missing
Solution:
      The user’s AFS volume was created on 9-Aug-2010, and there is no evidence that files have ever been stored in the directory since its creation (nothing in backups). There is no system problem for us to resolve.
Your support case has been resolved. If you are still experiencing difficulty, please call us at (480) 965-6500 or send an email tohelpdesk@asu.edu to re-open the case

So, it’s back to the drawing board. I admit, I cried quite a bit over it. Like, grabbed a box of tissues and lay on the bed and wept. This is the second time I’ve had to re-create the whole thing, because the first time I was stupid and wasn’t saving it, and I joggled the computer and  unplugged it. Maybe it will just get better with every re-do!

There is something to be happy about though: I emailed my professor right away, and she made an exception for me and extended the due date. I really, really appreciate that. It’s teachers like that that make college bearable.

Then on the way home from work, Brian called me with some news. They’re moving him to a different position, “temporarily.” Basically, they’re desperate and need a shop foreman. He’ll have to get up at 4:30 and stay till 4:00 p.m. Brian was very close to completing a project that the company had been waiting on for quite a while, and they took that away from him and gave it to someone else. I started crying all over again, and for the first time since we moved, I wanted to go back to Iowa.

But, after Brian got home and we talked about it some more, I’ve come to the conclusion that it could be a really neat opportunity for him. He is intuitively good at managing, and exceptionally good at interpersonal relationships, which is exactly what the shop needs. He doesn’t have the required 5 years of experience, but he works very hard and learns quickly. So, we’ll see how it goes!

So, joy. I think this week has been a test of my resolve to find joy every day. I haven’t given up yet! Here’s a few more for today:

  • Yesterday I discovered that Blogger has a “Stats” tab, right up with “Monetize,” that tracks how many people look at your blog, how they found it, and what posts they viewed. Not in a creepy way, like all I know is that 35 people viewed my blog today by following my facebook link, and if I was really interested, I could see what country they were from and what operating system they used. I was blown away by how many people view my blog! That is really encouraging to me, even though I know it’s not all about the numbers
  • My mother-in-law helped me get my wedding pictures ordered today! 
  • Last night I registered online at Better Homes and Gardens, and I’m still in awe at the sheer volume of decorating ideas. I could makeover my lamp in 50 different ways!
  • Today I get to pack to go to California tomorrow! 
I might not post tomorrow since we’re leaving early in the afternoon. I’ll try, but in case I don’t, have a joy filled Labor Day! Any fun plans? 

Joyness Journal: Wednesday

Today so far it has been a little harder to be joyful, mainly because it’s been a rather boring day. But,

  •  I did get a phone call from my Mother-in-law 
  • And an email from Melanie of  Elegant Custom Blogs with the first beta edition of my new blog design!
  • I’m almost done with the laundry for this week
  • I will get my wedding pictures ordered very soon
  • It’s a gorgeous day outside; not too hot
  • It’s September! Hooray for fall and cooler weather!
  • I’m going to be receiving my tax rebate soon
  • Brian is not gone at work all day today!
  • I cannot wait to go to California this weekend and visit my sister-in-law!
In my Bible reading today I started Philippians 1. In verses 3-6 Paul writes:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The whole chapter has  a focus on joy, joy in all circumstances, even imprisonment. I spent some time today reflecting on the above verses and thinking of people I remember with joy. I came up with a list:

My Bible study leaders- Nikki from Campus Crusade, Kim from North Myrtle Beach summer project, and Sabrina from Campus Baptist Church.

 For most of the time, I was the only one besides the co-leader attending the Bible study Nikki led in my dorm building, and I sometimes wondered if she was going to cancel it and decide it wasn’t worth it. She never did, and I learned so much as we studied Ephesians together. That Bible study was a blast, we always had so much fun sharing stories and just talking, and she always made treats of some sort. I learned a lot from watching Nikki about how to lead a Bible study and how to evangelize in a very natural and understanding way. Nikki didn’t seem much older than college aged, she was really good at relating in a way that wasn’t motherly but mentoring.

Kim was also on staff with Campus Crusade, but from a different college. Kim was so much fun! She was full of energy and laughter, but was very sensitive and thoughtful too. She had a huge heart for prayer and missions, and that definitely passed on to me and the girls in our apartment. She was awesome at one on one discipleship, and she inspired me to lead a Bible study and disciple others. She prepared me well to take over the Bible study and discipleship of the other girls. We were all thrilled when her boyfriend proposed to her on the beach. Throwing her a surprise bachelorette party was one of the highlights of the summer, and we all missed her terribly when the staff left.

Sabrina has been inspirational to me as long as I’ve known her. She was probably the first person to welcome Brian and me into Cyclone Bible Fellowship. I looked forward to Bible study with her every week my freshman year, and discipleship my sophomore year. Her insight and wisdom never ceased to amaze me, and our discipleship times especially helped to prepare me for marriage. She was so willing to serve around CBF, and so open and real. I miss her a lot, so I’m glad she has a blog so I can kind-of keep up with her :).

I can think of sooooooooooo many others too I’d love to mention, but I’ll just have to save it for another post!


Who are some people you remember with joy?

Joyness Journal: Tuesday

I love flowers! I’m glad there are quite a few flowering bushes around our apartment. I cut a few stems yesterday and put them in some vases around the house. Every time I walk into one of these rooms it makes me smile.

 They really brighten the house and give it a fresh and homey feel. Flowers are proven to help people relax and boost moods. Studies show that when someone is in an elevator holding flowers, the other people who get on are more likely to talk to each other and be friendly. Someone did a study on it, I know I read that in a reliable source. 
At the Park
I had a great time today; Brian was going to be gone all day since the CEO is visiting and taking the management all out for dinner, and it wasn’t worth making the drive from the West side to the East and back again. So, I decided to take Honormommy up on her suggestion, and gave her a call. We and the kids went to Taco Bell and a playground, before going to their house, putting two of the four down for naps, and breaking out the scrapbooking. I didn’t get too far because I left all my stickers and tags, and after a recent scare when I thought I’d lost all my childhood pictures, I really wanted to scan these before doing too much to them. I also realized how rusty I am at scrapbooking! But I am very thankful for the conversations we had and the time out of the house and being craft-y. 
To The Rescue
What brought you joy today?

The Search for Joy

It’s almost too ironic: after a week when I’ve been very worried and stressed, Pastor Joel Tetreau preaches on anxiety and worry. After a difficult week when I’ve been particularly frustrated, disgruntled and sorry for myself, he teaches on Joy. Funny how that works!

But it’s definitely to my benefit. Like me, you may have heard before that JOY stands for “Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.” Simple, but true, and very hard to live. You may not have heard this (I’m quoting from the handout):

  • Joy is a by-product of “Living in Christ.” Sometimes Joy is “felt” as a gift from the Holy Spirit (Phil. 1:3, 5,10, Gal. 5:22, Ps. 4:7)
  • Joy is a tool for “Living in Christ.” (Sometimes Joy is not “felt” but determined based on the facts of our faith, not the feelings of our faith.)
I thought the second point was aimed right at me. I tend to focus  A LOT on my feelings, not on what I know to be true by faith. I tend to forget the John 13:17 principle I talked about some before, where right thinking leads to right doing, and then it’s followed by right feeling. 

“The crossroads for many believers is this. Satan has stolen their joy using the same technique he did on Adam and Eve. First, he built up “unfair expectations” toward God and others. Second, he tempted (and succeeded) Eve and then Adam in not being content. Notice the result when this happens: You loose Joy, You find Sin (or it finds you!)” 

The above quote really caught my attention. I’d definitely built up some unfair expectations of God and Brian, and felt let down and discontent as a result. And as I wrote on the side of my paper, according to Psalm 16:11, we don’t have any excuse for not being joyful. We like to tell ourselves that we can’t be joyful because of _______. Maybe our marital status, job, finances, health issues, etc. But Psalm 16:11 says: “You make known to me the path of life:  in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” If we are God’s children, we have God’s presence with us always! We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, and God promises never to leave or forsake us. 

I made a lot of excuses for why I wasn’t joyful last weekend. In fact, even Sunday afternoon, I was back at it.  I’d written Brian an email the night before with all the things I’d wanted to express all week when I didn’t think he was listening, so we went to our complex’s pool after Sunday lunch for some couple’s time. Brian finally told me that he had a hard time wanting to listen to me because I’m “always negative about everything.” Despite the superlatives, there was some truth to the statement. I shot back: “Well, I had a really hard week! It’s easy for you to be positive! You get to leave and go to work every day, where you have friends and everyone likes you. I’m stuck here all day by myself with lots of dirty dishes and laundry!”

We had a good talk I think, and it clarified for me that I was just not being content with where God has me right now. Sometimes I feel stuck…not stuck as in I wish I were single, but stuck at home doing school until Brian gets home, fixing dinner, cleaning up, and going to bed, day after day after day. After all the frenzy of school where I actually had to go to campus, involvement with our college group, teaching a Bible study, wedding planning, the wedding, honeymoon, and move, this seems really boring! I’m ready for another adventure! 

But I think I’m beginning to see God’s plan for this time of inactivity. I got way too busy for a while there, and I was neglecting the most important thing: spending one on one time with God, really listening and learning and  worshiping. I think I’m “stuck” so that I can learn to be still and appreciate who God is

And so, this week I’m going to be looking for joy. I’m going to pay closer attention to the everyday things that God has blessed me with. Every day (hopefully) this week I’ll post something that brings me joy. I’m going to focus on the positives and delight in the simple things of life. 

Do you have joy? Often, seldom, or never? What’s keeping you from experiencing joy? What brings you joy?

Thrifty Thursday’s Fun Finds

You know, there was once a time when I didn’t enjoy shopping. I found it tedious, frustrating, and time consuming. And then I discovered the adrenaline rush that accompanies getting a good deal. The thrill of thriftiness, the excitement of the hunt, the serotonin burst from a steal of a deal…it’s addicting, and I’m a total junkie.

Thursday night after Brian got off work we did a little “toy” shopping. We went to Harbor Freight Tools for Brian’s, and Michael’s for mine. We each had some spending money and coupons. Harbor Freight sells all kinds of tools and other manly things at discounted prices, and when you bring in the coupon insert from the paper, it’s almost ridiculous how much you save. We may have Michael’s in Iowa, but all I remember is Hobby Lobby and Joanne’s Fabrics, so for those of you who don’t know, Michael’s is right along those lines. This week all my favorite things were on sale: scrapbooking paper, albums, picture frames, canvas, and acrylic paints.

We went to Harbor Freight first, and Brian picked out a cordless drill and flashlight set for $18.99, a multimeter for $2.50, an angle grinder for $14.99, a drill bit set for $7.99, and a screw driver set for $7.99.

Then we went to Michaels. My goal was to get some wedding themed scrapbooking supplies, so we looked through the on sale paper and picked out whatever seemed to be kind of romantic, mostly Valentine’s Day themed stuff, and a lot of other paper I can use in my other scrapbooks. In the clearance bins, I found a scrapbook paper box for $5. I’ve been needing one for a long long time! 

 
Here’s the screwdriver set, Brian got it for me 🙂 And we also bought sandpaper for my future painting projects. 
Then we looked through the stickers- my favorite thing about scrapbooking! Unfortunately, scrapbooking stickers are really expensive! We picked out the best priced ones we could find, when Brian saw a wedding scrapbook kit, album and all! We used the 40% off coupon and got it for $30! And we put back all the Valentine’s Day paper and wedding stickers. 

I can’t wait to get started! If I make any really good layouts, I’ll be sure to share them with you. 
What projects are you looking forward to tackling? Did you have any thrifty finds this week? 

Rainstorm

Yesterday, it started raining while the sun was still shining. 
The phenomenon brought out our neighbors. We stood on the porch and enjoyed the cool breeze.
Then it really started pouring.
I tried to capture the rain as it landed, but it didn’t turn out, as you can see. 
This picture did! 
I don’t think I’ve seen any houses with gutters here in AZ.
 As a result, it puddled up on the ground right away. AZ has clay ground, so water doesn’t absorb well.
 
There’s the sunshine again!

What Not to Write

To those who voiced your concerns about my blog, thank you! I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and I know you had the very best intentions. Your concerns have been duly noted, and you will see that the offending posts have been removed. Your comments were very correct, and in the future I will be sure that all my posts are previewed and not written at times when my critical thinking skills are compromised, such as late at night or early morning, and I’ll remember that not just my followers are reading, obviously, since those of you who voiced concerns are not followers. And I will strive to make all my posts edifying and encouraging.
While I really appreciate your input, in the future I’d appreciate it if you’d give it to me, instead of to my mother-in-law. While I agree that she is a great mediator, it’s unfair to her, and I think it’s Biblical and logical to contact me. My email is not hard to find, and you can actually leave comments directly on the blog where I’ll be sure to see them.