Sunday, July 31, 2011

Memories with Katie: Locks of Love

A couple of weeks ago, my younger sister Katie (I'm trying to avoid calling her "baby sister" and "little sister" because she is neither of those things anymore!) got the idea to donate her long brown hair to Locks of Love.  It was a pretty big decision for a 15 year old girl to make, and honestly, I just don't know if I could do it!  After picking out a picture of a potential new 'do, we made the appointment at a local salon.  I'm pretty sure we were both nervous about it.  Her more than I, of course :-)  

On our way to the salon!

The big cut!

She did it!

Mission Accomplished. Brad also got a pretty drastic hair cut, but not nearly as intense as Katie's!  It looks super cute and I am so proud of her for having such a giving heart.  I just know that her beautiful locks are going to make some girl somewhere so happy!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Thoughts on Marriage: Expectations

Several weeks ago I wrote this in my journal:

"Unvoiced expectations that go unmet are no one's fault but your own."

Recently, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the idea of "expectations".  I've come to realize that a lot of my major disappointments and frustrations come from an expectation that I have that has not been met.  I could give you several examples from my life, but I simply ask that you consider the last several times you've been upset and see if it wasn't because you were expecting one action/outcome, and received another.  It's brought me on a journey of honesty with myself and with the people in my life. Most importantly, my husband.  I've realized that it is unfair to be upset over something that I didn't even share with him.  After all, Josh can't read my mind, and neither can anyone else.

So, I have been focusing on vocalizing my expectations to him.  Not in a, "THIS is what I expect you to have done when I get home...the dishes washed, the floor swept, my favorite movie waiting to be played and movie theater popcorn and a diet coke waiting for me. Slave."  

No, more of a, "Hey babe, I'm really excited about the Harry Potter premiere."  (This isn't a hypothetical example, ha, this an actual conversation we had.)  "I know in the past, you've been really tired/bored/uninterested at midnight movies, but I'm just so excited about this one that I am really, really hoping you will be excited too."

Before that brief conversation, I wasn't sure if he knew how important this silly movie was to me.  After it, though, I knew that he knew that it meant a lot to me that he was there, and that I felt like he was engaged in the experience with me. (Not just 'putting up with' the late night antics).  And you know what?  It turned out to be an awesome night.  Sure, it might have been an equally awesome night if I hadn't shared my expectations with him, but it didn't hurt for him to know, without a doubt, how much it meant to me and what my vision of how the night was going to go really was.

I am excited that this is something we're learning about.  I think it is an example of healthy communication and, if we continue honestly sharing our expectations with one another, this practice could save us from a lot of disappointment and arguments in the future.  

I highly recommend it!

"Anger always comes from frustrated expectations." 
Elliott Larson

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Friendship and Turtles.

"A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be."  ~Douglas Pagels

This is a picture of my best friend, Nicole.  

This picture was taken at a local golf course.   As she and I we were buzzing around hole #13(ish), we (Nicole) saw a turtle trying to cross the fairway.  This particular turtle wasn't in any danger, but we couldn't pass up the moment.  Nicole loves rescuing turtles.  More specifically, turtles that are crossing busy streets.  When she sees them, she pulls over and helps them.  When I first discovered this little passion of hers, I was amazed.  I don't have much of a 'heart' for animals.  I would have never considered stopping to help these slow little creatures who have a slim chance of successfully traversing a busy street.  But now, because she does it and she loves it, I do it now, too.  I must confess, though, I haven't saved a single turtle this summer.  I've seen several, but most of the time I wasn't behind the wheel, and my screams of, "THAT WAS A TURTLE CROSSING THE ROAD!  GO BACK!" are often ignored by... everyone.  My track record for the summer 2011 season is dismal, but I haven't given up yet!

  I think it's an important part of friendship to care about the things that your friends care about.  

And you know what? I love caring about what Nicole cares about. Not just rescuing turtles, but I love caring about her heart and her marriage.  Her dreams and her goals.  It is so fun to embrace someone else's interests.  I want to start noticing and celebrating the little things/quirks/passions such as this in all of the people I love.   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Still falling in love.

I am still falling in love with this man.

This is a picture from the other night. Josh and I went to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie.  Josh and I both enjoy the books and movies a lot, but I'm pretty sure we can classify my affections for the HP series as "obsession" while Josh's is a "healthy appreciation" for it.  Being the extrovert that I am, I love to be any place where hundreds of people are gathered.  There is something about being in a crowd that just energizes me and replenishes my soul.  Now, being any place where there are scores of people gathered for a HARRY POTTER premier?  I'm in heaven.  Josh, being quite a bit less extroverted than myself, isn't super crazy about going to midnight showings of popular movies.  The crowds and lack of sleep leave him prefering to see new movies at a more reasonable hour.  However, he decided to come with me just so we could have the night as a shared experience.  He got dressed up, told me my costume, a Snitch, was cute, and he sat with me in the movie theater for 6 1/2 hours waiting for the movie to start!

Fortunately for him, with a few hours left before the movie, he was asked to help photograph the event with Brandon Mulnix from Modern Photographics.  As the theater was buzzing with wizards and house elves, Josh and Brandon were running around taking picture after picture.  I think they ended up getting close to 700 pictures or something crazy like that.  Josh said they were able to go into fully seated theaters and get the crowds going with shouts of, "Who loves Gingers?!" and other hilariously potter themed chants. Our theater was seated quite early, but the sanguine in me couldn't sit still knowing there was so much fun going on in the lobby, so I decided to go out in search of my husband. 

As I walked towards the main area of the theater, I saw a bright flash of light from a camera and new exactly where to find Josh.  As I approached, I saw him with a huge smile on his face, taking picture after picture of excited movie-goers.  As I watched him in his element, I began smiling too.  In that moment, I fell even more in love with him.  I literally thought to myself, "I am so thankful he is mine."  He looked so happy and handsome.  I was sure that every girl in the room was wondering who this tall, dark, and incredibly good looking man who was taking so many pictures was. 

Before we were married, I had hoped that we would be able to maintain our in-loveness.  I had dreamt that maybe it was even possible for us to love each other even more.  I am so happy to be three years down the road from the day we said "I do" and to find that being in love is something that hasn't faded, and that there are moments when falling even further in love catches us by surprise.

All that to say, I absolutely love this picture of us that Brandon took.  Josh looks so happy in it.  I have never seen a picture that has captured him this happy and excited.  I love that it was an experience that we shared together, and that Josh is willing to do things that he doesn't always want to do, just for the sake of making me feel loved and having another string/shared experience to deepen and strengthen our bond even more.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Fourth.

I love celebrating the Fourth of July.  It's the perfect holiday.  No work, stress, or gifts.  Plenty of sunshine, family, and fun.  There is just so much to celebrate and be thankful for! As usual, I spent the weekend at my parents' cottage.  It's a short 15 minute drive North of the little town we live in, so it has made for the perfect getaway place for my family since I was 10 years old.  I consider it my own personal little heaven on earth, sometimes.

The day started off with a few laughs.  We put the boat in 150 yards from our shore... but it didn't start. So Brad, Brian, and Josh swam it to our shore to get it working.  

Smoke Bomb.

Slayton Lake's very own "Nessy"

 Brad and his friend, Nick, building a sand fort.  Can you see the bottle rockets sticking out of the sand?  They are aiming in every direction.  I think it's pretty hilarious how much boys love blowing stuff up.  It just isn't something I enjoy, but my goodness the boys enjoyed it all. day. long.  After several near heart attacks, the ladies on the beach requested that after the lighting of any explosive, the boys yell, "FIRE IN THE HOLE!". They obliged, and our hearts were able to calm down a bit.

I really enjoyed taking pictures.  I think that photography is something I could really enjoy! 

The prettiest girl I know.

Sweet Summer Sunsets

Katie was taking this picture, and, well, I wasn't ready. and I was making a funny face.  Mostly I just love how you can tell my Mom is laughing in this photo. 

Buddy didn't like the guys fishing behind me.  Neither did I.  I think it's because they called him a rat dog and said something flirtatious like, "He must think we're cute."  Um, no, fisher man.  He doesn't think you're cute, and neither do I.  Dogs don't bark at things they think are cute, they lick or hump them.  I rescued him from the evil fish-killers just as Josh was returning to the beach.  The flirtatious "quips" and barking from our very own protector stopped at his arrival. Ha.

Little Miss Katie has quite the eye for photography herself!  The next four pictures were taken by her.

We purchased several of these lanterns.  These are the type of fireworks I love.  They slowly blow up and magically float across the sky until you can't see them anywhere.  Delightful.  

This one was shaped like a big, red, heart.  Mom, Kyrie, Katie, and myself released this one together.  

A fountain of sparks.

What animal do you see?

A Giant Sparkly Octopus, of course!

We then decided to re-enact the final battle scene at Hogwarts.  

Unfortunately, Voldy is just off to the left of these pictures.  It's really too bad we missed getting a picture of him.  Now no one will believe us!

Little Miss Katie.

It was such a beautiful weekend and I had so much fun resting and relaxing with my family!  We live in such a beautiful, free country.  It was our last Fourth of July in the States for a few years, so we really tried to make sure it was a memorable occasion!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Birth Control Quest.

Well, this is going to be a bit of a personal post.  I have been on a quest the last few months to discover what type of birth control method I would like to use.  Josh and I aren't quite ready to have children.  (Although watching him play with children the last three weeks convinced me that YES that man is going to be such a great father we need to start reproducing IMMEDIATELY.)  Still, I know that this just isn't the right time to get pregnant.

A few months ago, I started feeling uneasy about being on birth control.  I finally realized that I had no idea what I was doing to my body by taking The Pill.  I seriously had no clue.  When Josh and I got engaged, I just went to my doctor and figured out how to get on it.  I didn't think to ask some important questions like:

"Is this healthy?"
"Is this safe for my body?"
"Exactly how does this work?"

I just blindly hopped on the train that says this is the only way to prevent having a baby until I'm ready.  Now, I think it's one thing if you are completely educated on a birth control method and still decide to use it.  Good for you.  It's another thing to take a pill for 2 1/2 years and not know what it is or how it works.

Needless to say, as I have researched those three questions, I have not been happy with what I've found. Despite my discoveries, I continued taking it because I just didn't know what else to do. Four weeks ago, though, I finally stopped taking the Pill altogether.  We were heading out of town for a solid three weeks and I honestly forgot to grab my packet of pills.  It was the day I was supposed to be starting a new pack, so we just decided that now is as good a time as ever to stop taking them.  (Hello, condoms! See? I told you this was personal.)  

I'm still on the journey of researching what route we are going to go with for preventing pregnancy right now.  My current dream is to save up and buy this.  The Lady-Comp.  Every morning it takes your temperature, tells you if you're fertile or infertile, and keeps a record so when you decide you DO want to try for a baby, it will help you with that, too.  Oh and it's more effective than the Pill.  and condoms.  However, it's $450 so we'll have to wait on that.

Then I found this book: (cue a heavenly chorus)

I'm only on chapter 6 but you guys, this book is amazing.  I am learning so much about my cycle, about my body, and about the miracle that takes place in every woman's body.  I feel so much more equipped to stay healthy and be aware of what is happening in my monthly cycle.  I found it on amazon and it had 5 star review after over 1300 reviews.  Kyrie, my sister in law, started reading it the other day and could NOT put it down. It's that good.  She's going to go get her own copy tonight and has been texting it to friends of hers who have struggled with infertility or uncertainty of  other birth control methods.  

It teaches the Fertility Awareness Method.  It charts temperatures every morning (I'm going to go get myself a thermometer tonight!), cervical fluid, and cervical position.  I am feeling so excited and empowered to master my own body and to do it in a natural way.  I'm no where near finished with the book, and I'm not ready to put it fully into practice yet, but I am so excited about this.  

Anyway, I just had to share it on here because I'm feeling very excited and encouraged by it.  I also know that a lot of my friends are on similar journeys of discovering what works for them, so I wanted to be sure to share it with them as well.  Only good can come from being on this kind of self discovery journey!