That lovely shot makes the perfect conclusion to this post! Thanks for reading, and happy Monday!
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.
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.
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.”
Close enough, Brian.
What was your all-time favorite costume?
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 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 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!
|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! 🙂
As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a couple hours exploring our neighborhood Goodwill. It was massive! They have a neat system there where all the tags are color coded and marked with a week number. When I was there, it was week 30, and so anything marked with week 30 and/or a purple tag was 50% off.
I was immediately drawn to the items displayed on top of the clothing racks. Then I noticed a whole section of the store designated for housewares. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of most of the items, the number of employees and restrooms, the cleanliness of the store, and the lack of weird odors that I’ve always associated with Goodwill.
Not everything was a crazy good deal. I thought $1.99 each was too much to ask for those classic coke bottles. But if you’re into the coke decor, it might be worth it to you. They also had six packs of coke with the coke still inside for $12.99.
I did like this jar. I thought it was pretty unique and in great condition. They’re asking $23 for it, so it might be worth getting when it’s 50% off. I think it would look great in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. I’m going for a French Country look myself.
There was so much fabric! I wanted to buy it all up and make dozens of pillows, or place mats, or curtains, or seat cushions, or table runners…I have all kinds of ideas! I found this cute shabby chic rose fabric and striped red, cream and sage fabric to match. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture but there’s a cute ruffle edge on the rose fabric. My pictures didn’t turn out very well because I felt really self-conscious about taking pictures in a store with people around!
Then I found these pillows that matched the shabby chic rose theme! I later found a matching bed-skirt.
What a perfect day!
It didn’t go like I planned. I figured: my birthday, my plan, my favorite food, I do what I want. But when I tried to talk to Brian about what I wanted to do for my birthday, it didn’t go so well.
“I’m going to plan it for you!” He insisted.
“But it’s my birthday, shouldn’t I get to do what I want?!”
“We’re going to do something cool for your birthday, not something lame like going to a mall.”
Ouch. That’s what I had wanted to do.
“Don’t you trust me to plan something you’ll really like?”
Waiting to find out what he planned for me was a good exercise in letting go of some of my selfish desires. My birthday really isn’t all about me, I realized, because now I’m one with someone else. After I stopped trying to control my birthday, I found I anticipated it even more.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so loved on my birthday. I’m loving this whole second-family package that came with marrying Brian.
I slept in later than I had wanted to, but I woke up feeling fully refreshed. I dressed up in my favorite dress, a little blue and white pinstripe cotton confection of cuteness. I put a bow in my hair, and fixed coffee for myself in my fancy mug. I put out a new tablecloth and added a centerpiece. Soon after I finished my morning Bible reading and prayer, my mother-in-law sent me a text wishing me a happy birthday, and so did my older sister. My older sister also texted me a picture of my niece, who is growing up fast!
My big plan for the day was to check out the stores on the fancy strip mall a block or two away. Thanks to our cell phone rebates, I had $50 that Brian said I could spend on whatever I wanted. As I was about to leave, my mother-in-law called me to wish me a happy birthday in person. We talked while I finished my coffee, got my purse, walked to mail boxes and checked the mail, and walked all the way to the first store. At some point my phone started beeping, and after hanging up I discovered a text from my father-in-law waiting, also wishing me a happy birthday.
Anthropologie was the first store on my list to explore. If you’ve never been to an Anthropologie, you need to go. Even if you don’t buy anything. It’s expensive, but it’s SO fascinating! In addition to fabulous clothes, they sell cosmetics, kitchen decor and utensils, wall decor, furniture, dishes, bedding, curtains, towels, tablecloths, jewelry, accessories, purses, stationary, books…all kinds of unique treasures. I had to look at everything- it was all artsy, indie, exotic, or charming, and it all had a special handmade or hand-designed feel. You just have to go yourself; I’m running out of adjectives to describe it! I snagged a couple steal-of-a-deals: a beautiful soft and flowy sweater originally $88 for $20, and a beautiful turquoise flower pot. I can’t decide were to put it; in the kitchen window, on the front porch, on the patio, or above the fireplace nook. It has a lot of potential!
After spending almost three hours in Anthropologie, I moved on, past beauty shops, Chico’s, and White House Black Market, to Barnes and Noble. There was a reason for this; I hydrated myself amply before leaving my apartment as a cautionary measure in this heat, but by the time I got to Anthropologie, I already had to go. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any bathrooms! They had beautiful dressing rooms with pretty candles burning and comfy couches, but nowhere to pee. I don’t know when I’ve been so happy to use a public restroom as when I arrived at Barnes and Noble!
I perused the sale bins, shelves, and piles, but nothing really jumped out at me until I found my way to the journals and sketch books and decided on a journal with a striking bright blue butterfly on the cover. If you know me, you know how obsessed I am with butterflies! And, as an extra bonus, it was on sale 🙂 My lovely sister-in-law texted me and told me she’d call me tomorrow to find out how my whole day went. About that time, I got another phone call, this time from my father-in-law! He took time while he was working to give me a call and wish me happy birthday. While we were talking, I got that call-waiting beep in my ear again, and discovered after the call ended that it was Brian. He picked me up at the bookstore so that I didn’t have to walk back in the heat.
Then, I made my birthday cake while he took a nap. Ok, not this cake, but I wish!
| Nati’s Cakes
I LOVE cupcakes!!! I made myself a dozen pink roses! The pink frosting is strawberry flavored. Brian didn’t want to eat pink cupcakes, so I frosted some with white confetti frosting just for him.
Then, it was time for the Big Birthday Surprise! Brian packed a cooler and tote with food he’d bought on the way home from work and paper products, and off we went!
We drove and drove, out of Phoenix and into cowboy country. No seriously, we passed several Man on Horseback Crossing signs!
Finally the secret came out: I saw a sign that read “Canyon Lake.” We twisted and turned up the mountain, and I tried to snap pictures along the way.
This surprise picnic was reminiscent of the surprise picnic Brian planned for me after he proposed! I never would have dreamed that we’d be having another picnic in Arizona almost a year later!
The spot we picked was picturesque, but we were pretty sure we could hear a couple rattlesnakes close by!
After the picnic, we came back to the apartment to eat the cupcakes and open presents. Brian sang “Happy Birthday” me; it was so sweet!
I had two presents to open, both from my mother-in-law. Brian’s present to me was all the thoughtful planning and preparation he put into our lovely picnic. My grandmother-in-law also sent me a card with a present in it!
In case you were wondering, I do have a biological family too, with a mom and dad, two sisters and three brothers. I assumed they’d forgotten about my birthday, since I didn’t hear anything from them all day, even though I got text messages from acquaintances, and a facebook wall full of birthday wishes, many from people I hadn’t seen or talked to in a long time. I finally did talk to my family, but I cheated. I texted my dad a picture of the cupcakes, and he then texted me “Happy Birthday.” When I replied that I thought they’d forgotten it was my birthday, he decided to call me after all. He wished me a happy birthday, and I told him about my day, and caught up on goings ons at home. He eventually gave the phone to mom.
“What do you want to talk to me about?” she almost snapped.
I wanted to say, Uh, it’s my birthday! I’m twenty! All grown up! Are you…glad? Proud? Do you care? But instead I stuttered, “Well, I just, um, figured I hadn’t talked to you for a little while…”
“Yeah, I was starting to wonder because I hadn’t heard from you in a while, and I heard about those inmates that got out.”
“Huh? Inmates? In Phoenix?”
“They got one in Colorado, but they think the others are hanging out there in Phoenix. You better get a newspaper.”
Ok, mom. I listened as she told me all about how the boys were doing, especially Ethan, my middle brother who suffers from epilepsy, how they were installing a security system, and redecorating the basement bedroom. She told me she mailed a car for me the day before (Birthday shopping happens the day before in my family!). Finally, I had to go, because it was much past Brian’s bedtime, and he really needed his rest before getting up at 4:30 for work.
She never said “Happy Birthday.”
But before she hung up, she did say, “I love you.”
And that was the best birthday present she could have given me.
I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was Wednesday and Thursday with all the love and thoughtfulness behind all the text and facebook messages, phone calls, and cards. You showed me God’s love through your actions! I know that I’m not alone, and He will continue to supply my needs.
Today is our one month anniversary! It feels like one week since I walked the aisle, but it’s been one week that Brian and I have lived in our apartment! We are still adjusting; adjusting to the heat, to the early morning job schedule, to the commute to the said job, to making an apartment a home, to being alone in the said apartment most of the day, and to being married, and mainly, figuring out how to sleep comfortably in the same bed. (A double bed. It’s smaller than it sounds.)
Dry heat or not, it’s hot. Lucky for me, I haven’t really had to adjust to the heat, because I can hide in air conditioning most of the day. Brian has no choice, because for the two months he while he works in the maintenance shop, he’s practically outdoors.
Brian’s early morning start to work hasn’t been too hard on me either; I’ve been able to sleep through the alarm at 4:30 a.m., Brian getting ready, eating breakfast, and only waking up for the goodbye kiss. Until today, at least. At Brian’s urging, I’m trying to get up at the same time, so that we can be on the same sleep schedule. Laying awake at night isn’t fun, so I’m trying to get on board, but 4:30 comes around fast!
We were happy to find that commuting is shorter than we thought it would be, mainly as a result of the early morning, and afternoons getting home haven’t been bad. Except for the day there were two accidents: a nine car pile up followed by one with six cars…scary! Both accidents were ahead of Brian, and he was fine.
I’m figuring out this home-maker thing. Brian’s oldest sister was here for the worst part of the unpacking,-those initial stages of circular confusion, the can’t-unpack-the-ten-boxes-of-books-until-the-shelf-is-put-together-and-you-can’t-put-the-shelf-together-until-it’s-in-the-right-room-and-you-can’t-put-it-in-the-right-room-until-your-husband-gets-home-because-it’s-heavy stage. It’s very livable now! There’s pictures in this album as well as many more pictures from our trip. It looks a little different today, since I hung a few pictures on the walls and did more unpacking yesterday with Brian. I am so thankful that Andrea was able to come last week – she kept me company while Brian was gone and provided transportation to get things we needed: basic groceries and my hair cut 🙂 Getting my hair cut was definitely a need, in this case, because it has been in the 106-118 degree neighborhood all week. We also had fun swimming and tanning and going to Barnes and Noble. And, she showed us how to program the coffee maker so that it starts on it’s own, which is invaluable.
I’m doing well so far with cooking, which is one of the things included in my moving resolutions. Our first dinner in our apartment took place Thursday night, and it consisted of spaghetti (one of the few things I can make without a recipe) lettuce salad, and apple sauce. Friday night we had tacos, and Saturday….we bought Little Cesar’s Pizza. Hey, it was Saturday! I made barbecue chicken for Sunday dinner, and if I must say so myself, it was delicious, and I totally made it up as I went along.
I’ve only been home by myself for two days, and I’m already getting lonely! I called home and my older sister Friday, and I found a Christian radio station and blasted it until Brian got home Saturday while I did my Saturday cleaning. I’m not too worried about making friends, I know it will take time, and probably won’t happen until I get involved at school or in small group at church. At least, I’ve been far from bored. I get up, read a text from Brian, text him back, eat breakfast, read my Bible, get dressed etc, call someone from Iowa, work on my online classes, make lunch, text Brian, email people from Iowa, unpack, text Brian, facebook people from Iowa, unpack, answer Brian’s phone call, do laundry, and greet Brian at the door. That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.
The Married Life
There’s a few things I’ve learned so far, in my short married life.
- One is to have most of the stuff I want to do done for the day before Brian gets home, and save what’s left for tomorrow. That way I can focus on making him comfortable and relaxed after a long day in the heat, and making coming home a highlight for both of us.
- Two, I’ve also learned that my priorities aren’t his priorities, and if I push my priorities, I’m nagging. Brian offered to take care of the lunch dishes yesterday, and it drove me crazy. Not because I enjoy doing dishes, to the contrary. But after lunch he worked on the internet, was on facebook for awhile, caught up on emails, and unpacked the book boxes in the spare bedroom, all while the dishes were still sitting on the table and counters. Every time I walked by, it took effort to not say something, or just do it myself. Why? Because I knew that Brian probably hadn’t forgotten, at least not entirely, but from his perspective, fixing the internet and taking care of those boxes was more urgent. If I had mentioned, he would have felt I was nagging him, and if I’d done it myself, he’d be offended that I didn’t think he was capable of doing it himself. At least, that’s what I imagine he was thinking. And in the end, he did do the dishes, and they were none the worse for not being done right after lunch.
- Three, I’ve discovered that sleeping in the same bed takes skill. We’d been so spoiled with king and queen beds all during our honeymoon and the week we stayed at Brian’s parents’ that the double bed felt pretty small. But, I’m not opposed to cuddling, and neither is Brian. Unfortunately…. he snores.
But laying awake at night, with Brian almost sleeping on my face, making me uncomfortably hot and sticky, and barely able to hear my thoughts over the grizzly growling-mountain slide sounds, I watch him sleep, and the realization washes over me that I’m so very lucky to have such a wonderful man; a man who works hard to provide for me, is thoughtful and affectionate, fun, and wise. And every once in a while, he wakes up, and kisses me before rolling over and going back to sleep.
Yep, we’re still adjusting. It’s been a crazy month, with lots of changes, but I’ve loved every minute of the adventure. The best is yet to come!