Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's blooming?

I used to think absolutely nothing could thrive in a cold winter, let alone lovely flowers, but (thanks to help from my mother-in-law and Lowe's), I'm happy to say I'm wrong! So, here's what's blooming in my cold January yard:

Stock - This is something that has continued to bloom since the fall. Out of all of our fall flowers, it has done the best and has held on the longest.
Dianthus, which I have learned are more commonly called "pinks" or "carnations" depending on the type. Carnations happen to be my birthday flower, so I thought it was neat that they are growing in January, my birthday month.
Cyclamen, one of my new favorite flowers. We have them in white and pink. The white ones were force-bloomed at Lowe's, but the pink were born in Debbie's garden and transplanted here just in time to get happy and bloom.Camelias - not all camelias bloom in the winter, but this variety does. They are a lovely pale pink.And last but surely not least, as these are my favorite, is the hellebore. Debbie introduced these to me last year, and I fell in love immediately. They are a pale green with dots of purple. Could anything be more stunning?Isn't God good? He makes it so that even in the cold, dreary months of January, we are given bursts of color to remind us of his joy and grace.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What a view!

Robby snapped this picture yesterday using my new camera. Views like these will make anybody stop in their tracks for a moment. Wow.

Hippo Birdie to Me!

On January 22, I turned 27 years old and celebrated my 27 wonderful years of life. The birthday fun really began the Wednesday before, when the praise team at church gave me a card and my favorite cookies to enjoy: white chocolate macadamia nut. Yum! Thursday night, Robby continued the pre-birthday celebration by giving me a birthday gift early, a fantastic photo calendar. Friday, my actual birthday, was a workday of course, and I think my students were more excited than I was that it was my birthday. That's all they wanted to talk about. I have to admit that they made it special by remembering and bringing it up. Gotta love 13 year olds!

I suppose the "true" celebration was Friday night. Both sides of family came over, which was a first for us probably since the wedding. I got off easy, not having to make anything at all with my mom and Debbie providing the tasty dinner (lasagna, salad, bread, bruschetta) and Rosalee making me a carrot cake. I handled the drinks all on my own, though. John and Kelly were also able to join us, and of course, Anna was quite the hit of the party.

Pre-dinner chatter
Enjoying the yummy food!We couldn't very well have a party here without playing a little Wii, now could we? We have pictures of everyone bowling, but my dad's photo takes the (birthday) cake. That is dedication!Dad takes a bowling break to take a picture with me and mom.A surprise present, after everyone left: Twilight Scene It! (Yes, Kelly and I beat John and Robby.)
I received so many nice and thoughtful birthday gifts, two of which were a camera (used to take these pictures) and a day-sofa. Robby had everything set up when I came home from school, including new curtains for the kitchen. It was so sweet.Think the partying stops here? Oh no! John and Kelly stayed the night, so we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and lounged around in our pj's until 11:00, finishing up our lazy morning with lunch at Henry Salazar's. They kept us company until the afternoon, and then Ben and Stephanie came over for pizza and more games.It was a great 27th birthday celebration, and I am so grateful for the wonderful family and friends who make my life -- and not just my birthday -- special and meaningful. Thank you all!

First Things First

This past Friday was my 27th birthday, and here I sit, ready to blog about the wonderful few days I've had. However, before I was the one who had the birthday fun, Robby got his much anticipated Christmas/birthday gift: a beautiful, shiny new guitar.

Robby has been "collecting" Guitar Center giftcards for quite some time now, and after much researching and browsing, he found an amazing deal on an amazing guitar. He ordered it a couple of weeks ago, and in it came on Thursday evening. Even I, one who knows very little about guitars, can see and hear the difference in this one. It is quite stunning.

I'm sure he'd love to tell you the whole story and play a song or two, so if you want details, you'll just have to ask him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A little sun and a little rain

We had another rainy day today, but when I got home from school, the sun finally began to shine...in the backyard, that is. The frontyard was still dark except for one lovely rainbow crescent across the sky.

Can you see the rain streaks? Sun and rain can only equal one thing:
Rainbow!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunshine Surprise

It has been dreary in Visalia this last week or so, and it seems the rain and gloom will just continue through this week, as well. However, we did have a nice surprise of sunshine on Saturday, so Robby and I took advantage of it and rode our bikes to Starbuck's where we met Ben and Stephanie. (She took the picture above and I snagged it off of Facebook.) I also coincidentally ran into two friends from high school, so all in all we had a nice long visit at the coffee shop.

Today, the sun also decided to shine its face on us for a short while before it set. After two long days of rain, it came out just long enough for me to absorb some light and vitamins, and then disappeared to make room for the moon.

I forget how much my mood is affected by the weather. I look forward to a few sunny days in a row to lift my spirits!

Traveling Sister (Again)

Our sister Chelsea (#2 in the line-up) is on another one of her adventures. If you remember, she was in Guatemala at this time about a year ago, and she currently is in the Netherlands doing some visiting and traveling. She sent an email and a few photos, and they were so lovely that I wanted to post them. I wish I knew where they were though. I know two of the main places she's visited is Rotterdam and Delft.

Monday, January 11, 2010

School's In

Today was my first day back at school, so it marked the end of my fabulous three week break. I'm not complaining - I know most people get a few days off here and there during the holidays, and I get three beautiful weeks of freedom. Still, I usually shed a tear or two the night before it all starts up again. I was good last night, though, feeling incredibly refreshed and grateful for my vacation.

Here are my top 10 moments/experiences from my break (in no true particular order):

10. Sleeping in, even if it's not like it was when I was a teenager (Seriously, how did we sleep in until the afternoon? That's absurd.)
9. Enjoying my Christmas decorations and lights
8. Wearing sweats or pajama-like clothes for a majority of each day, and wearing jeans to "dress up"
7. Reading, writing, enjoying the things that made me love English in the first place
6. Watching New Moon (again) and Sherlock Holmes (awesome!) with good company
5. Spending time with wonderful friends and family, and filling that time with games, movies, Wii, dinners, and other lovely things
4. An extended New Year's celebration with the deGrassie's
3. Celebrating Christ's birth with our families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
2. Being a hermit for a few days...feeding the needs of my introvert self
1. Getting to spend nearly every day with my husband

By the way, my day was good today. My students were happy to be back and were excited about the new seating arrangement. (Isn't it funny how even the slightest change creates excitement with middle school students?) I think we're off to a good start...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shopping at its Finest

It is surprising to ever find anything "new" in Visalia. We seem to know (or at least have heard of) pretty much every restaurant, shop, park, etc. Imagine my surprise, then, as my mom told me about this supposedly great antique shop out in the country. She had heard of it from my aunt in Redlands of all places, so we (Mom, Robby, me) decided to venture out and see what this was.

The antique shop -- or group of shops, to be more accurate -- is located in the middle of an orchard, and is in reality a set of Victorian homes and an old Victorian barn (photo above). My mom and I wandered around the large barn and the two small homes open for shopping. It was a much more pleasant experience than most antique stores because it wasn't overly crowded with stuff, which seems to be a problem many shops have.

My purchases were simple: two moss covered (fake moss, of course) urn like containers and a little bird to add to my collection. It was definitely worth the trip, and worth another one soon, especially since the Christmas items will be put away next week.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy 22! (To Carly)

Carly, the third sister in the line-up, turned 22 yesterday. This is amazing to me because I don't feel like it has been that long since I was 22, but I guess it really has been five years! We celebrated with the family at Henry Salazar's. They gave Carly a birthday fried ice cream, which we all passed around and tasted.
Chelsea and Camille smile sweetly. Chelsea is getting ready to leave us again for another one of her adventures. It was nice we could all get together before she heads off.
The whole family, minus Robby, who was taking the picture. I'm not sure where my dad is looking, but it seems he is avoiding the camera.
Happy birthday, Car!

Happy 200! (To me)

This is my 200th blog post. I have been blogging for two years now, and it stemmed from one small New Year's resolution in 2008. (Probably one of the few I have actually kept!) I didn't know if I would be able to keep it up when I began, but it has actually become a welcomed part of my life. It has served to be a memory book, a journal, and a form of communication between me and friends.

It is, then, at the top of my New Year's resolutions for this year to continue this blog even when I have very little to say to a very small amount of people who read this. Other resolutions are:
1. Work out. (Every year I say this, and every year I fail. Perhaps this is the year!)
2. Write more, and finish many of the things I've started.
3. Cook two new things each month. (See how I changed this from last year? I'm making it more attainable.) If I can do more than two, I get extra points.
4. Save money. Spend less. Enjoy what I have and who I have in my life more.
5. Set aside daily time with the Lord. (Okay, this probably should be at the top, but I don't want to rearrange my numbers.)

I could go on, but less is probably more with resolutions. Here's to an exciting year!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

We have known John and Kelly for five years now and spent four of those five New Year Eve's with them. (Last year, Tsunami affected our plans.) This year, we said good-bye to 2009 and hello to 2010 with our friends by our side once again.
There have been many, many changes that have happened to all of us over the last five years, one of which being JK making an addition to their family: baby Anna. I'm happy to say Anna spent her first New Year's celebration with us.
So, what else did our New Year's "party" include? Well...

1. Wii - and plenty of it. We played Brain Academy and the new Mario Bros Wii, which is super fun.
2. Food - and more of it than anything else! From the eve's snacks to the incredible feast we made for New Year's brunch, there was food, food, and more food to be consumed. Kelly and I were thrilled with how our brunch turned out.
Course 1: Cranberry-orange scones and coffeeCourse 2: Mediterranean strata dish
Course 3 (AKA dessert): Crepes filled with berries and other yummy thingsAnd what brunch could exist without a mimosa?
3. Endless Twilight talk and a second viewing of New Moon (for Kelly and me, that is)4. And Fugazzi's as our first out-of-the-house meal of 2010

It was a fantastic end to 2009, and a wonderful beginning 2010. Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tsunami 2009

Now that we're at Sierra Baptist Church, the end of the year is always culminated with a trip with the youth group to the Tsunami youth conference held in San Jose. Nine students and three adults joined 2500 others at the conference. Although I (as usual) was not exactly looking forward to giving up three of my days of break to attend such an event, it turned out to be a nice time. The speakers and worship were good, all focusing on the theme of being "marked" by God (Eph 1:13). It was a good way to end the year and has helped focus our attention on God as we begin 2010.
And by the way, happy new year!