Monday, August 4, 2014

it's been hot here, as of late.  as i write this, sweat is pooling at the back of my knees.  i always say i love summer and the heat it brings.  mostly, i do.  on Saturday night, Ethan and i went to the park nearby to go skateboarding until 8:30 when the sun set.  i don't want to wish away this season because i know once winter comes and the sun is setting before 5pm, i'll be longing for these days again.  still, part of me can't help longing for the cool.  for leggings and flannel.

we've had some chilly mornings lately.  i've gone out to my car to find frost gathered on my window, and the smell of fall clinging to the grass.  everything in its time.  i'm trying to appreciate what i have in the now.


this past weekend had some really wonderful moments.  we started Friday by sitting on my floor eating sloppy joes, and then Ethan took me to a new cafe nearby.  the place was empty and we ordered our espresso and pulled up high chairs next to tall tables and held hands and talked.  we ended the evening by curling up in bed and watched episode after episode of The Office.

on Saturday, i got a fresh haircut in the morning, and then we spent the afternoon at the flea market.  we were looking for beach cruisers, but ended up with different treasures like used DVDs and a new skateboard for me. :) in the early evening, we went to our favorite Mexican place only a block from the beach and told stories over chips, salsa, and margaritas.  then, we walked to one of our favorite coffee shops for toffee lattes:)  after we got back to my house, we hopped on our skateboards and scooted down to the park and skated till we were sweaty.  we watched the sky change from a light blue to bright purples, pinks, and oranges.  it was easily one of the more breathtaking sunsets i've ever seen.

on Sunday, we did a whole lot of nothing, besides sit on my floor and watch a lot of The Office.  mostly, we got ready for the week.  laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning house, meal-planning.  the highlight was barbecuing carne asada and having a little picnic in my room.  the weekend ended with us sprawled out on my floor--candles lit, my head on Ethan's chest, Gregory Alan Isakov playing softly in the background, and talking about dreams and our future.  it was sweet and romantic, and i never wanted it to end.


finals weeks is this week.  i have to admit that i've enjoyed the essays i've gotten to write for my English class this summer semester, such as why schools should require uniforms, stereotypes surrounding introverts, a film analysis of the movie Prisonersa satire paper on why guns should be banned;) (probably one of the most fun essays i've ever written), a research paper on the destructiveness of Westernized beauty ideal, and an analysis of Ernest Hemingway.  my last paper will be due this Sunday, and Friday will be my math final, which i am dreading.

today, i also got to meet with my favorite counselor at school, and he helped me map out the rest of my educational plan.  i may not be able to graduate in December, as i had hoped.  right now, it's all hinging on one psychology class that i'm trying to get into this upcoming semester.  but, worst-case scenario, i will for sure be graduating in June with TWO AA degrees: one in psychology and one in social and behavioral science.  and i can still apply to transfer to a university for next fall.  the end may not be as close as i wish it was, and that is a little discouraging.  but, at least it's still in sight.

my classes are also pretty much mapped out for the fall, and i am REALLY excited about that.  good things are ahead<3


other good things from this past week have been: chocolate peanut butter ice cream.  splurging to buy a new sports bra;) (the one i had before i've had since freshman year...yikes!)  phone dates with (best) friends.  chocolate porter beer.  a clean room.  skirts and ankle-high boots.  magazine reading.  lit candles.  hand-holding.  painting.  good dreams.  drizzly days.  making time to blog;)

happy Monday, friends<3

i  hope your week is sweet and easy.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

that one time we went to Vegas.

i was teetering on the edge of my 26th birthday when Ethan and i went to Vegas for the first time.  most people's responses to this have consisted of serious disbelief, a tad bit of a judgement, and responses of, "seriously??? you have to go like, right now."

Vegas has been on my bucket list for as long as i can remember, but even though i've lived only a handful of hours away for the past few years, i never had the strongest desire to go.  so when Ethan got time off after his last deployment, we decided it was now or never.

it's been almost 4 months since that time, and i figured it's about time to share the pictures.

we spent the afternoon of our first day just driving there, and we got to our hotel and checked in around 4pm.  we stayed at the Flamingo which was PRETTY AWESOME.

that pink fuzzy blanket was my fave.

the view from our room.

happy to be starting our vacation:)

we didn't waste any time beginning exploring.  after throwing our bags in our room and checking out the view, we immediately began touring the grounds around our hotel.  there was an awesome pool area, waterfalls and waterslides, and, of course, real pink flamingos.

after checking out the hotel, we hit the casino to grab some humongous alcoholic beverages, then headed straight to the strip.  Paris was the one place i wanted to go to, and that was our first stop.

the inside of Paris was honestly my favorite thing we saw the entire trip. (pictures to come.)  the ceiling was painted like the sky, and the hallways inside were lined with some kind of stone to make it feel like you're walking on a real Parisian street.  it was slightly magical.

the rest of our evening, we walked all over the strip.  most of our time was spent exploring the inside of the Cosmopolitan and the Aria, but we did get to see the outside of MGM, New York, and watch the Bellagio fountains.  (there were probably other landmarks we saw, but i don't remember.) 

it was only 10pm when exhaustion hit both of us hard.  the party in Vegas was only getting started when us old folk headed to sleep;)

our second day started off in a terrible way, with some crazy man banging on the hotel door next to us at 3:30am, threatening to murder the person inside.  he spent about 30 minutes cursing and raging in the hallway.  i called security, but i don't think anything came of that.  it happened again around 5am, when the same insane man came back with a pack of his buddies, got into the hotel room he was trying to get into earlier, and cursed and laughed and made the most obscene comments about women while we lay in bed next door.  THAT was pretty terrible, and i actually felt slightly terrified.

needless to say, once he shut up, i was exhausted and proceeded to sleep in late.  Ethan and i got huge breakfast at a cafe inside our hotel, then headed straight to the pool, where we spent a few hours laying by the water, and drinking margaritas under the palm trees while the DJ blared hip-hop music for the whole world to hear.

i have to admit that that was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip.  it felt like the quintessential Vegas experience--the one you see in movies and on the covers of magazines.  and it honestly felt pretty dang cool;) the only bummer was that Vegas was not at all hot enough at the beginning of May...barely 75 degrees, and not nearly warm enough for a swim.  so we dipped our feet in, drank margaritas in the water, and enjoyed a little bit of the hot tub.

later in the afternoon, we decided to head back out to the strip to do some more exploring.  we saw more of Paris, checked out Rio, and then walked REALLY far just to see Mandalay Bay and the Luxor hotels. (outside of Luxor seen below.)

during this time, we were exploring the different hotels to find a cool place to go to a nice dinner.  but by the time, we headed back to our hotel to get ready, both of us were completely sweaty and exhausted. my feet were killing me, and i could've gone for a hot bath and room service, instead of a fancy dinner.

BUT, we pushed our way through it.  Ethan put on a suit, and i put on a fancy dress, and we walked a torturous number of blocks to go back to the gastropub we had seen on our walk earlier.

we both ordered beer, and comfort food, and watched soccer on the TV, mostly eating in silence.

looking back on the pictures from dinner, i'm really surprised that we looked as happy as we did!  maybe we were just happy to be sitting.  or eating.  or both!  the beer WAS fantastic, and the chicken pot pie i ordered was to DIE for.  so, not a total failure;)  but, i'd be lying if i said my favorite part of the evening wasn't going back to the hotel, taking a hot shower, and falling asleep watching crime stories on TV.

the next day, i think, was my favorite day.  for breakfast, we headed to Paris, which was nothing short of magical.

i don't remember what we ate, but i remember the coffee was divine, and the conversation was lively and relaxed.

after breakfast, we checked out of our room, and then headed back to the pool, where we spent a couple more hours wading in the water, and soaking up the sun and tequila;)

after we both had our fill of the pool, we headed to Caesar's Palace for the last of our exploring, and then finished up with their famous frozen hot chocolate. (and i know i realize why it's famous.  ohmahhhlawwwwd.  it.  was.  heaven.)

this was our last picture of the trip before we walked the several blocks back to my car, and headed home.


while i'm fond of the pictures of this trip, i can't say that i loved Vegas.  or that i even LIKED Vegas.  i can honestly say that i really did enjoy our last day because it felt relaxed and effortless.  breakfast, the pool, a tad bit of exploring, frozen hot chocolate...all good things:)  but the best way to describe our entire time in Vegas would be that it was an experience.  

people have always told me that i'm young and that i HAVE to go to Vegas because it's so fun and alive and there's so much to do.  but for me?  Vegas was sweaty and crowded and exhausting.  there were boobies on pamphlets galore, and half-naked men on billboards, advertising for sex and cars and gambling, and a lot of other bullshit that i frankly don't care about.  the Bellagio fountains were nothing to write home about.  casinos weren't filled with young, glamorous people, but with the pungent smell of too much cigarette smoke, and old people with big bellies, where they would rest their drinks, drool hanging out of their mouths, as they pushed button after button on mindless machine.  it didn't feel glamorous, or like i was part of something bigger than me.  mostly, it just felt like i was suffocating.  yes, some of the hotels were amazing, but i'm not easily impressed by man-made things.  i don't know why.  maybe i should be.  but i wasn't.  

part of me felt bitter coming back to work my first day because everyone wanted to know how Vegas was.  and i had always had a feeling that i wouldn't like it that much, and i would tell these people that.  but they would tell me, "no, you just have to experience it first-hand."  aaaand, i did.  and i was right.  i didn't like it that much.  it made me wish that people would listen to me.  it also made me realize that just because something is popular does not mean it's for you.  

i wondered if maybe it's because i'm a nature girl.  and oh, i am.  but i love cities, too.  cities make me come alive in a big way.  like, i love San Francisco.  i love the chilly air, the hippies on Haight and Ashbury, the crooked streets with the colored houses.  i love the scarves people wear, and their different colored hair, and pierced up faces.  i love how artsy and hipster-y it feels.  i love San Diego, and how relaxed it feels.  how it's the quintessential beach town where you can stumble upon the best hole-in the-wall cafes for breakfast burritos and coffees, and how people do yoga on cliffs overlooking the beaches.  i love the Gaslamp district at night...the city lights and the smell of the ocean and how everyone seems to be talking to each other.  i love how it feels very big city and small town all at once.  i love Philadelphia.  the cobblestone streets and the colonial-style buildings and the feeling of history.

but Vegas was different.  it didn't feel cultural or refined.  it felt fake and showy and numbing.  and i don't miss it.  and i'm not the only one, either!  the night Ethan and i got back to my house, we had barely unloaded all the bags into my room before he pulled me into his arms, and just held me.  i smiled and asked him what got into him.  he pulled back, and with the biggest smile on his face, said, "i'm SO. GLAD. we're HOME."  

sigh.  just one more reason this man and i are so good for each other.

all in all, i am glad i went to Vegas.  after all, it's one more thing crossed off my bucket list!

would i go back?  maybe.  but next time, you probably won't find me doing very much exploring.  instead, check the pool.  because that's where i'll be...with drink in hand;)

until next time Las Vegas...

sunset on the drive home.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Writing feels foreign, uncomfortable, almost painful, these days.  but i'm writing anyway, because i need to.  because i don't want to let one single thing get missed or go unnoticed.

so here goes.

this past weekend started off rough, but ended up being pure magic.  on Friday, Ethan and i spent the evening on the beach, eating cheeseburgers and watching the sunset.  and on Saturday morning, i didn't want to cook breakfast, so we went to one of our favorite cafes for breakfast burritos and toffee lattes.

the sad part about all of this is that i spent most of that time being angry.  on Friday night, Ethan held my hand in my bed while i vented about a lot of things i'm struggling with.  and on Saturday morning, he listened while i cried over my latte and into my burrito.

i can't really put what i'm struggling with into words.  it looks a little bit like missing home, and missing my family, my friends, my dad.  it looks like feeling stagnant and stepped on.  it looks like days where my thoughts are filled with turmoil instead of peace.  as Francis Anfuso, one of my favorite pastors, put it: in a lot of ways, i have been playing the victim, instead of the victor.  i have been striving too hard and my expectations have been too high.  i have spent a lot of time complaining, instead of acting on what i'm complaining about.  i have been trying to harness things into my control, instead of giving up control.  i could go on, but i digress.

Saturday brought about change, though, and i think my tears took away poison.  Ethan and i spent Saturday afternoon going through a box of old family pictures together.  all of them made me smile.  plus, i found some really cool vintage pictures of my mom and dad, which i will be keeping forever:) the rest of Saturday was equally magical.  i spent some time cleaning the house, while listening to sermons from my old church.  i did this until the sun began to set, when Ethan and i walked down to the park nearby.  there, we swung on the swings, and Ethan taught me how to skateboard! :D that was honestly one of the biggest highlights of the weekend.  i have always wanted to learn how to skateboard, and i never thought i would.  even better was how spontaneous it was.  we decided to take a last-minute walk to the park, and as we headed out the door, i asked Ethan to grab his skateboard.  and i actually got on it, and i actually didn't do half-bad! :)

after getting back from the park, i baked lavender cookies and Ethan helped me turn a tree branch into a clothes hanger:) which was fan-freaking-tastic.  we ended the evening by watching Nonstop while eating crockpot steak-and-potato stew.

it was the most magical Saturday<3

Sunday was just as lovely.  we spent the morning drinking coffee in my backyard and watching the squirrels, then spent the first half of afternoon at the flea market, followed by more blended coffee. the rest of the afternoon and evening looked like me writing an essay, eating more stew, and watching Heaven is for Real.  overall, it was one of the sweetest weekends ever:)

-- there are so many words i want to write, and yet, no words feel nearly enough.  despite my struggles, the light has been shining so beautifully lately.  the way the sun pours through the clouds at both sunrise and sunset have been stunning.  some mornings, my car is covered with frost, or i drive to work in the rain, but the time i leave the office at the end of the day, summer heat is alive and well.  and i'm loving all of it.

-- i have been listening to Nichole Nordeman's "My Offering" on repeat lately.  it makes me feel like i'm 10, 11, 12, again...when i used to lock myself in my room for hours and just BE with Jesus.  i would listen to my favorite Christian songs on repeat while i cleaned my room or laid on my bed.  sun would pour through the windows, and there were no checklists or preconceived notions.  just a knowledge and truth.  even if i could paint the perfect picture of how that feels, it still wouldn't come anywhere close to portraying how those moments made me feel.  and how that song makes me feel now.

"And if You made me
to be a cloud in the sky
Found the perfect place way up high

where I could hover
And maybe

I would pray for skies that were blue
Or a sunset or two

to show Your colors..."

-- i'm learning to make peace with my body these days.  i don't love it.  seeing pictures of myself can induce the deepest self-loathing.  but i am trying.  i'm working on not feeling guilty about eating donuts or fresh bread or drinking beer.  to stop worrying about calories and start enjoying tastes.  why do i feel guilty about enjoying?  who am i worried about letting down?  maybe myself?  maybe i fear that the next time i see a picture of myself, i'll be an unrecognizable blob.  i'm not even close to that, but i fear it.  i'm trying not to, though.  i'm teaching myself to taste and eat and enjoy.  to savor the gifts God has given...both donuts and my hips.

-- despite the distance from most of them, friends and family have been amazing lately.  there have been phone dates, and texts galore.  i miss them, but they never cease to make me feel happy and loved even from 300 to 3,000 miles away.  

-- God is moving hugely in me these days.  oh, if only i could DESCRIBE it.  as i mentioned above, i have been listening to sermons almost nonstop for the past week.  this is very unlike me, but i am liking this change in season.  right now, i am working through a sermon series called "Numb," which has been everything i need and more.

some of my favorite quotes that i've written down:

"Your soul, your mind...that's where the battleground is."

"God does not want to be led.  And sometimes i need to get out of the way to let God move."

"We think that what WE have is the deciding factor.
If we become empty vessels,
He will fill us."

--Francis Anfuso

these quotes are only the shallowest of glimpses of what these sermons have been doing to my heart.  they have been opening my eyes, making me feel alive, shedding light on how i have accepted things as true which are counter to who God is... these sermons have been felt like a shield of armor surrounding me...a reminder of what the God i serve looks like, and who i am in Him.  they have been bringing me to my knees, pruning me, making me new.  oh, i wish i could show you.  all i can say is that it's just so good<3

that's all for now friends<3  thanks for reading.



p.s. if you're interested,

this is my favorite sermon i've listened to so far.  

i don't agree with everything the introductory speaker talks about, but the statistics at the beginning are staggering, and some of them made me weep.

Rock of Roseville: Numb