Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The only thing that tastes better than diet coke...

 To celebrate the holiday weekend and the Christmas decor we put up on Saturday, we decided to have a few friends over for a night of fun. Somehow, early in the night, we got on the topic of my addiction to McDonald's diet coke.  It's pretty much the same conversation every time.  It starts off with some variation of, "Diet pop is soooo bad for you" and the conversation quickly webs to, "There is NO difference between McDonald's diet coke and any other pop out there".  

Well, the fact that diet coke is bad for me isn't breaking news or anything.  I'm trying not to drink it as often as I usually do because I'm aware that it's basically like drinking poison every day.  I get that.  I understand. I've read the articles.  What I will never compromise on is that all diet coke's are created equal.  Primarily, that there is nothing 'better' about the diet coke that comes from McDonald's.  To my delight, everyone decided that we finally needed to put the debate to rest with a little experiment on Saturday night.  

A taste test to prove that McDonald's diet coke is the best!


I was thrilled.  It was finally my chance to prove myself correct in front of everyone!   Nicole, Lindsay, and myself drove all over town (all three of us sat in the front bench-seat of my car and jammed to BSB, of course) and proceeded to buy diet coke in a can, a plastic bottle, from Burger King and finally one from McDonald's.  We brought our spoils back to the house and Josh prepared the drinks.  To ensure that I really couldn't tell the difference, we got four straws from McDonald's, poured the can and bottle into cups, and removed the lids from the samples from BK and McD's.  Obviously this was a very serious situation.


Instead of a blindfold, I just pulled my sparkly hat over my eyes and got ready for the most important taste test of my life!  Josh and I knelt in front of our coffee table, and he guided my hand to each different straw (I wasn't allowed to touch the cups, of course).  Drinking in front of a silent crowd was a little uncomfortable, but after trying all four drinks, I had to make my decision.  


Now let me tell you the truth, there was a lot riding on this moment!  Mainly, the future of my justification for going to McDonald's every day.  I took a couple of moments to think things over and made my announcement:

"The first pop was from McDonald's, the second from a can, the third from Burger King, aaaand the fourth is the plastic bottle."  

Stunned silence.  Then giggles.  Then a chorus of disbelief and "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!"'s from everyone in the room.  I was 100% correct on all of them!   It turns out the only thing that tastes better than McDonald's diet coke is the taste of sweet victory!


Naturally, Josh decided he wanted to give it a try and after switching the order of drinks, he got them all correct too!  This was almost better than my victory because Josh finally believes and agrees that McDonald's diet coke is the best.  Lindsay and Nicole ended up taking the test as well, though they weren't correct with their guesses :) 



All in all, it was pretty flippin' awesome you guys.  I'm still trying to drink less diet coke, but being in the hot seat and getting all four correct was one of the highlights of my weekend!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Birth Control Quest Update.

Well, since I've invited all of you into this private part of our life (here and here), I figure I might as well keep you up to date on it.  Josh and I have officially been practicing the Fertility Awareness Method (slightly modified version of "Natural Family Planning") since the beginning of July. 

I'm here to say that we have been quite successful with it!  I am a person who is downright rotten at following-through on things, but this is something that I have done an excellent job of consistently keeping track of.

Every morning for the last 5 months an alarm on my phone has gone off and (almost) every morning I have taken my body temperature.  Often I am half asleep and nearly passed out with a thermometer sticking out of my mouth, but I do it.  I don't usually look at the results of my temperature until late at night when I sit down to chart it out.  I keep track of my body fluids as well, and just by keeping track of those two symptoms, I can tell so much about my body.  Primarily, when I ovulate.  I am happy to announce that I have fairly consistent cycles and I am getting really quite good at figuring out when I am most likely to get pregnant and when I am not.

An interesting thing has happened the last several months, though, as I have embarked on this journey.  I have never been more proactive about NOT having a baby, and I haver never wanted a baby more in my entire life!  This, it would seem, is a bit of a paradox, but a delightful one to be sure.  I just know that right now, as much as it's up to us, is not the best time to bring a child into the world.  The result every month of my efforts to naturally plan our family is that I am happy with what happens no matter the outcome.  It sort of feels like a game, actually.  Did I do it right?  Did I get the timing correct?  If I do not get pregnant, I consider it a success.  If I do happen to get pregnant, I will be one happy, happy FAM 'failure'.  It is an entirely "win-win" situation.

The best part about this is that I have a feeling as soon as we start actually trying for a baby, I'm going to REALLY enjoy my FAM planning method.  I will have almost a year's worth of charts which means I will know exactly when to "try" for a baby once the time comes.  This is worth the daily efforts at 7:00am!

So that is the update.  It's going well.  It's not that hard.  I feel healthy.  I feel empowered.  I feel amazed at what my body does every single month, and I have never felt more in tune with what is going on inside of me!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thoughts on Marriage: I choose the worst.

I would rather be in the worst of circumstances, but married to a man who is being obedient to what God has called him to do (even if it's tough and hard and scary and not always safe), than to be in the best of circumstances and married to a man who is being disobedient and whose heart is not following his passions or his dreams or his God.

This is a hard statement to live but it is my truth and it's something I feel very strongly about. Even when my own strength fails and moving overseas seems like the worst idea ever, I know that it isn't.  Because I will always choose the "worst" with him and God, than the "best" with me and my fears.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Art of Celebration: A Birthday Fiesta!

Josh and I have recently decided that we want to become really good at celebrating life.  If you've got good news, we want to be there to share in your excitement with you. We kicked off this new season of celebrating with our friends Rob and Kate, who drove up from Kentucky for a quick weekend visit!

Kate's birthday was Thursday, but we celebrated allllll weekend long.  Rob asked us to get goodies for a birthday party, so Josh and I decided that we wanted to throw Kate a 'birthday fiesta'!  We went to Party City on Thursday night and raided their "Fiesta" section, picking out the perfect decorations. 

Once Friday night came around, we kicked them out of our apartment for 20 minutes and transformed our little home into a birthday party fiesta!  We invited dancers....



and a mariachi band!



We got dressed up in sombrero's and mustache's and grabbed dinner at Taco Bell :)





We put up streamers everywhere, and even had the door to our kitchen covered so Kate had to charge through them!


(Peekaboo)


We had a couple of leftover mustaches and a maraca to spare.



Kate got an instax-mini for her birthday, and took duplicate pictures to give to me! Welcome to the instax club, friend!




We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends!  It was so much fun celebrating Kate's birthday with her and making new memories with friends we cherish!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Huntresses.

It is true when they say that opposites attract in marriage, but it turns out the same can be true for friendships as well.  I've often blogged about my best friend, Nicole, and about how much I enjoy the healthy, fun friendship that we share.  Nicole and I are opposites in a lot of ways. However, instead of keeping our separate interests separate, we like to try to combine them.  For example, a couple of months ago she asked me to go hunting with her.

Yes, hunting. On every Michigan man's favorite holiday: Opening Day.

I decided I would do it on one condition: She had to watch my favorite movie, Moulin Rouge, with me.  She isn't a big fan of musicals but I'm not a big fan of early mornings, walking through woods, sitting in silence, and killing animals. So it seemed like a fair trade.
Because opening day was on Tuesday the 15th, she and I spent Monday night watching Moulin Rouge. (She liked it! Success!) We said 'goodnidght' at midnight and went to our separate homes, but just 5 1/2 short hours later, were driving out to her parents house for my very first hunting adventure!  I was actually quite honored that she invited me to be a part of it because hunting is a big deal in her family.  Sometime around 6:00am, we forged our path through the darkness to what I affectionately call, "The Hunting Hut"; a small gray-ish shelter made of 2 x 4's and leftover house siding.  We crawled in through an entrance fit for hobbits (not a 5'8 girl in oversized camo pants) and began our wait for the sun to rise and the deer to move.

It was SUCH fun experience, one that I am so glad I took part in. We didn't end up killing anything, but saw several doe throughout the morning.  
  



For the record, I was unarmed during this experience.  As my friend Emily tactfully (and hilariously) pointed out, the girl (me) who doesn't remember to check the oven for pans and dishes before turning it on to 400 degrees resulting in gravely distorted tupperware lids prrrrrobably shouldn't go wandering through the woods in the dark with a rifle....

We did manage to take a couple of videos from the Hunting Hut.  My efforts to come across as a very serious hunter were all in vain as I struggled to get through either (especially the first one) without laughing hysterically.  Honestly, these videos are priceless to me and I giggle profusely every time I watch them. 


and....


I am blessed to have people like Nicole in my life.  The unconditional love and acceptance of my closest friends allows me to feel free to be myself and try new things, like hunting, fearlessly.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life Lately: An Autumn Film

Here is a glimpse of our life lately via a lovely little video that I put together today :) Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Grace in Tears.

Within 30 seconds of getting in the car, I had started crying. It was going to be a brief car ride, maybe 15 minutes long, and I ended up crying for about 13 1/2 of those minutes.  Considering our destination was a church we were going to speak at, the timing couldn't have been worse.  I fanned my face.  I forced myself to smile.  I stuck my head out the window.  I talked it out; reasoning with myself as to why I was just fine.

Except I wasn't, and just when I thought I had myself under control I'd start crying again.

It was awful.  I wouldn't say I'm a hard-hearted person and that I never cry, it's just that, I'm really good at not crying.  I'm also really good at 'faking it' when I need to.  Faking happy.  Not that I need to 'fake it' very often (I have a blessed life), but even Josh has remarked at how good I am at compartmentalizing.  For example, if we're arguing but guests are about to walk in the door, by the time they walk through the threshhold of our home, I've tucked that anger away into a little corner of my heart to be dealt with later.  So not only was I crying on this occasion, but I was frustrated with myself.  Why couldn't I get on top of this?  I wondered. Why couldn't I logically walk my way through the emotions I was feeling?  I'm so good at that.  I'm SO GOOD AT THIS.

Except I wasn't.  I was a wreck.  Wounds I didn't even know existed were opened and my heart hurt and as much as my brain tried to tell it what's really going on and walk it through the steps of healing, my little heart would have none of it.

We pulled into the church and I started getting things out of the car, trying not to make eye contact with anyone (yet another reason why long hair is awesome).  I made brief eye contact with Josh where he politely informed me that "yeah it's pretty obvious you've been crying".  Great.  Time to make a decision.  Fake it or be transparent.  Fake it or be transparent.  Hmmm. Tempting.

Once we got inside, I went to the bathroom to assess the situation.  I definitely couldn't hide it.  The evidence of tears was hot on my face, streaking pale through my blush and forcing my eyelashes to bunch together; bonded by tiny droplets of emotion.

We went to meet the Pastor, a very nice young guy whose eyes lingered on me in confusion for a couple of seconds and then quickly transferred to the much happier husband standing next to me.  I understood.  No need to talk to the one who is clearly dragging some sort of baggage inside with her.

I began putting packets of information together and found healing (and a few more tears) speaking with a couple of my Aunts who were there to listen to us share.  With a renewed resolve I stepped into the world and struck up a conversation with a group of teenage girls who had come specifically to meet us.  I stood there chatting with them, learning their names, proving to them how cool I was, until finally I couldn't handle it and said something like this:

"Hey girls? Can I tell you something? Yeah, ok, um, I just thought you should knowwww that, yeah. I've been crying for probably the last 25 minutes straight. And I just wanted to tell you that. Because you could probably tell anyway, and I just wanted to let you know that everything's really ok now, but I just didn't want to be fake.  Sometimes life is difficult and sometimes hard things happen and it's really ok.. it's a part of life... and, well, I just wanted to be real with you.  Because it's pretty easy as Christians to put on a front and pretend that everything's alright when really it isn't.  So.  I'm ok.  We're ok.  Everything's ok.  But I just couldn't keep talking with you until I had told you."

They responded with several seconds of stunned silence. (Had an adult ever talked to them like this before?) They said a couple of encouraging, sweet comments and then we went back to our normal conversation.   From that point on, I felt so free, and so proud of myself for resisting the temptation of looking like I have it all together all the time. How come no one ever talks about how tempting that is?  Does anyone else struggle with it or am I the only one?

Because no one needs someone "cool" who has it all together, especially not teenage girls.  They need someone who is going to look them in the eye and say that hey, sometimes life stinks, and it's all a part of it, and it's ok to show it sometimes, even if it's five minutes before you're about to go speak in front of sixty people.  Really, it is.

I found grace in tears and I found meaning in sharing them.

Do you want to know the most ironic part? Josh said it was the best I've ever spoken, and I knew deep down he was telling the truth because I could feel it too. Somehow, by opening myself to pain and feeling and healing and transparency, it was easier to find my voice and share confidently from a whole heart. 

Imagine that. Grace in tears.
Photo Credit

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Nuts.


On Sunday, my family celebrated my Mom's birthday by picking out and carving pumpkins.  It was a grand adventure and there is nothing that makes me happier and come more alive than spending time with my family.  We usually end up laughing.  A lot.






I spent forehhhhver picking out my pumpkin, but isn't it beautiful?  However, when we got back to the house Josh decided to change his pumpkin design to something that required more of an oval shape, so I graciously let him use my pumpkin.  I feel like there is some kind of marriage lesson in there somewhere, right? 



Me and my Mum, aka the birthday girl :) She is the source of my red hair, extroverted personality, and ability to see the good in others.


Somehow, Brad and Katie didn't get the passion for carving pumpkins that the rest of us have.  Ever since Brad was a very little boy, he has disliked the pumpkin 'guts'.  Hence the disgruntled look on his face and the pumpkin's stab wound.  In a moment of sheer brilliance, Katie (being the sly fox that she is) chose a very small pumpkin and was finished carving before everyone else.  


Despite its imperfections, Lindsay practically imprinted fell in love with her mole-y pumpkin.  Once she found it, there was no going back.



I wasn't joking when I said Brad hates the pumpkin guts.  He even brought gloves.  Kyrie drew that cat pattern by hand and yes, she is every bit as sweet as she looks in this adorable picture!


Now, for the final pumpkin product and introductions:


From left to right:
Mom's Pumpkin: Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants.
Lindsay's Pumpkin: Rico Suave ("Heyyyyy baby, how YOU doin?")
Josh's (::ahem:: my) Pumpkin: Voldemort reaching out his hand.
Brian's Pumpkin: "The Angry Asian". (Ok, seriously, this is the name Brian gave it when he turned it around to show everyone.  I really hope that it isn't offensive to anyone!)
My Pumpkin: You're BEAUTIFUL!
Kyrie's Pumpkin: The kitty.
Brad's Pumpkin: At the Doctor ("Say Ah" -- "Ahhhhhhhhhh")
Katie's Pumpkin: _____________ (Insert your own caption here, cause I couldn't come up with anything hahaha)


The twin's pumpkins.  This is a pretty accurate depiction of out personalities portrayed through art.


Kyrie decided to bake some pumpkin seeds.


We finished the night by eating a huge lasagna dinner and singing "Happy Birthday" to Mom.  We had a bit of a candle situation that was remedied by the three spare candles I could find in the 'Drawer of Requirement'.  Of the three candles on the cake, one belongs in a pumpkin and one is a trick candle that kept re-lighting itself.  Not too shabby, If I do say so myself!