Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tagged am I

10 years ago I: was 22 years old and in my (first) senior year of college. This was the semester in which I discovered that photography was my true passion. I had never felt the way I was feeling about any of my college classes, and when my photography prof could see that, he spent only a little time convincing me to switch majors (I was then in electronic media). It was a great decision, and he was an awesome adviser. He pushed me more than I wanted him to, but I needed that at times.

5 years ago I: had only been married for seven months, and was just beginning a new job within the same company I had been working for the past three years. I was blissfully happy in marriage, but I was struggling with my auto-immune disorder, which was at its height then.

3 years ago I: was living in a new state! I was working in a law school, of all places, and Casey and I were living in a rent house (I miss that huge porch) and had no clue we were about to find the house we're living in now. That's because we hadn't even planned on looking for a house to buy for another year! Also, at that time I was in full baby-fever mode, but I wouldn't be pregnant for another eight months. Currently I am in semi-full baby-fever mode again.

1 year ago I: had just had some minor surgery and was in a LOT of pain. I was dealing with way too many things physically, and I am so blessed I'm not there anymore! Miles was not quite one year old, had just started I was praying for a very peaceful year, but I think this one might be more peaceful for us. Only God knows.

Yesterday I: did a lot of knitting on some drawstring pants I'm making for Miles. Yeesh, these things are taking way too long! I honestly don't think they'll fit him by the time I'm done, but someone is going to wear these pants! I also did a lot of blog catching-up, which I am thoroughly enjoying.

Today I: haven't done too much yet. I haven't even had breakfast. Case left a little while ago for his weekly staff meeting, and Miles is busy watching Elmo.

5 snacks I enjoy: Brachs chocolate-covered raisins, 100 calorie mini-pack popcorn (the best), hot cocoa, vanilla latte, Cheetos

5 things I would do with $1 million: pay off mine and my immediate family members' debt (plus give them some extra), take all of my family to see other family across the world, give to something like Christian Relief Fund or 100x Missions, invest, get that deck built for Casey that he's been wanting for quite a while now!

5 places I would love to run away to: Hawaii, that horse ranch I visited in Hico back in 2000, anywhere with Case and Miles, did I mention Hawaii?, DisneyWorld (our honeymoon spot)

5 TV Shows I like: Lost (woohoo, starting back up again!), Intervention, Frasier, Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty

5 things I hate doing: going out in the bitter cold, trying to fix my hair when it's unfixable, getting out of bed really early, saying goodbye to Miles when he's oblivious we'll be gone for a while, cleaning out the coffee maker

5 biggest joys of the moment: Miles in his pajamas carrying around his Pooh-Bear, getting a chance to sit down at my new iMac and read fun blogs, seeing Case in his new Old Navy sweater looking so young and cool (he is a campus minister after all), looking forward to a cup of coffee, knowing that I can snuggle with Miles inside today while it's 30 degrees outside!

Monday, January 28, 2008

I don't care how we get there, as long as we get there

When Casey turned to me last night and said, "It's supposed to be in the 60's tomorrow!" I knew there was at least one thing I had to do, and that was take Miles on a walk. Or just take him outside, because it's been so cold and dreary lately! Any chance of sunshine means a chance of more smiles. (Incidentally, I'm wondering more and more if I am over-affected by seasonal stuff. I can get pretty down when it hasn't been sunny for a while, and then I feel so energized just by having sun stream through the windows!)

It's always much easier for me to make plans in the evening for the following day because I'm such a night owl. But when morning comes...I really have to talk myself into doing the things I want/need to do. I told Casey to take the pickup just in case Miles and I went out (the car seat stays in the car), all the while thinking to myself, "But first let me get some breakfast and then see how I feel." After eating breakfast -- and sharing part of it with Miles, the stinker -- I needed to prepare a new crockpot recipe for our evening meal (creamy red potato soup, yum!). After that was done...well, I could just see that what Miles needed was some time outdoors. What I needed was some time outdoors, and if tomorrow comes and it is gray and bitter cold once again I would regret not going out.

Sometimes (read: most times) it is a pain getting a toddler ready to go somewhere. Part of the reason is that you have to make sure they have a diaper that will hold for a while, you might have to put different or extra clothes on them (Miles was still in his footy jammies), snacks might be needed depending on what time you're going out and/or how long you'll be out, etc. And I don't even consider myself one who has to get lots of things together to go somewhere with him! Another thing is that, until your child can totally understand what's going on, he or she might not be as gung-ho as you are to get changed and get into the car. I can tell Miles until I'm blue in the face that we are going on a walk, but then all he wants to do is just go outside and go walking. He doesn't get the idea of driving to the walk park first. Well, he partly does, but there is an impatience factor in there. You get the idea.

We arrived at Lake Patsy, which is partially under some kind of construction, so part of it is blocked off. No prob, since the place is so big we just had to go a certain distance and then turn around and that was actually enough for me. I set Miles in his little fold-up seat in his wagon and buckled him in, then put his little knitted hat on his head (which was originally intended for Casey but it was my first attempt and didn't quite fit) and a blanket around his legs. This awesome wagon also comes equipped with cupholders, so I set his juice cup in one and handed him a small tupperware container half-filled with Goldfish. Is this kid spoiled or what? Really, though, I just want him to be comfy and enjoy the ride enough that I can get a good walk in myself. After all, this is not just about the kid. But oh, how I wished I'd had my camera with me! He looked so cute and funny all bundled up in there, especially with his little hat on his head while he ate his snacks and took sips of juice, turning to look around at all the trees and other scenery. I would check on him every so often, looking back and smiling, and several times he would respond with a little wave of his hand. All the changing, fussing, snack preparation, was all worth it in the end. Okay, maybe not the whining. The whining I can do without.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The slideshow

In case you didn't get quite enough photos in that last post, I have recently uploaded the "official" slideshow from Gulfcoast Getaway 2008 that our students watched two nights ago. There are lots more fun photos in there, plus it is set to Casting Crowns' Lifesong, which just makes the whole thing for me. Lots of fun, and not as much stress putting it together as I thought it would be!

Click here to watch.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We got Gulfcoast Getaway 2008!

Last weekend, Case and I traveled with about 25 of our college students (I know I'm getting the number wrong, but it's close) to Panama City, Florida for the annual Gulfcoast Getaway conference...on the website I like that it says: "More than a's a body of people undergoing radical transformation as we seek the ways of God." The theme this year was Freedom, and the scripture used was Galations 5:1 ~ "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." It was a really amazing experience. My first time there was in 2006, when I was pregnant with Miles, so at that time I was a little less energized and spent more time in the hotel room just relaxing. This time, however, I was able to do so much more (Miles stayed at home and his Grandma and Pops came to visit him) with the students, and even participated in the X-Games on the beach!

I wanted to share some pictures from GCG. These first few show a guy named John Ross painting, but what you need to know is that this was just one of four canvases he was working on during a time of worship. He completed them all in about half an hour, and of course everyone on each side wanted to see what he had painted on the other three sides. When one of the speakers got up, he made the point that this was a good representation of our lives and God's work in them. We are always wanting to see what God is doing, or what he will do, but we can't. It all makes sense when we can finally see it, but we just need to trust that he is doing the work and that we will see how it all comes together one day. Really neat illustration.

While the X-Games were going on, Case got in a lot of nice frisbee time.

Here we are preparing for tug-of-war. You can't tell, but I really, really did not want to be doing this (they needed five girls to enter, and I was the fifth). For one thing (and you can't tell this either), it was freezing out there! Yes, out in the sun, on the beach...very cold. I don't like the cold. Secondly, right before the tug-of-war stuff began, they made an announcement that everyone participating had to remove their shoes. What?!? I kept my socks on, but that did no good. I couldn't feel my feet and toes for a very long while afterward. Cocoa helped.

I was a little afraid when I saw my hair in this photo (Casey took it, by the way). And also...we did not win the tug-of-war. I think it's partly because every girl on our team, like myself, did not want to be there at that moment in time.

Even though it was freezing...the scenery really was nice. We saw a beautiful sunset. I greatly limited my sunset photos this time, because in 2006 I took over 300 photos...of the sunset. Three hundred. I don't even know how I did that.

Case and I. He is wearing the hat I knitted for him a few months ago. What a guy!

One of our guys decided, on the day after we arrived, that he would do the Polar Bear Club thing, and we all watched him race toward the ocean and dive into the freezing water (okay, it wasn't freezing...but would you do it?). So here on our last evening, Casey thought it would be funny to get a shot of him looking like he was doing that too, with a few friends cheering him on. It's still one of my favorite shots, mostly just because of the way he's picking those knees up.

I really missed my baby boy while we were away. We were all very happy to be reunited the evening we got home. Junebug doesn't look happy, but believe me...she's happy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Yes, thank you!

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Also...happy 21 months to my precious boy Miles -- I love you!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Twenty-One Months (tomorrow)

Miles is 21 months old tomorrow, which didn't used to seem like a big deal to me until I realized that it was just three months from his second birthday. So I thought I would share some things about this amazing little person:
  • Miles is a very determined young boy. If he can't figure out how to do something, or how to accomplish it like, now, he gets very frustrated. And I mean very frustrated. P.S. -- he gets this totally from his mother.
  • Something new we've noticed is that, when Miles is losing his patience over something (usually something we are not doing fast enough), he will clap his hands to show his impatience. It's really hard not to laugh when he does this.
  • We are trying to teach our son some manners. The basics are saying 'please' and 'thank you.' We still have to tell him to say these things at the appropriate time, but when he does either one, he also nods his little head. So it's "Pweace" (with a nod) and "Kang-kuh" (with a nod). I'll confess that sometimes we ask him to say please for no other reason than to see the head-nod thing...poor kid.
  • Miles is what I would call 'aggressively affectionate.' There are times when he will turn and give me a sweet little kiss, but there are other times when he will put his face against mine and just push against it as hard as he can. Sometimes this is funny, but most of the time it just hurts. And then some of the time...he has a runny nose, and it's just nasty. I try not to discourage his affectionate side, but I have to get him to stop injuring me!
  • We have a cat named Junebug. Miles thinks she hung the moon. Whenever he sees her, he happily says, "Zhe-zhees!" (we call her 'Junies'...or 'stupid cat' but thankfully he hasn't picked that one up) and runs over and plants a kiss on the top of her head. In his world, they are the best of friends, and he will sit and put his arm around her and smile at her and laugh. Meanwhile, Junebug -- usually having just been woken up -- is trying her hardest not to reach out and scratch someone, because she knows what we'll do if she does scratch our boy. She's given in to temptation a couple of times and left some marks on his arm and leg, but just hours later he will smile and run over and give her that kiss.
  • Casey's parents gave Miles his own little piano for Christmas. It looks like a baby grand, so cute! We set it up next to Casey's piano, and sometime I will have to get them playing on their respective pianos so I can get a picture or video or both. Anyway, Miles sometimes needs a little assistance getting set up to play at his piano, so Casey will sit him on the little bench and get him all ready. Then he will step back to watch, at which point Miles will look up at Casey and wave bye-bye meaning, "Okay, you're done here, move along!"
  • The other day I noticed that Miles needed a diaper change, so I said, "You're stinky, let's go change your diaper." I thought he would shake his head no, but instead he ran into his room and into his little 'reading corner' and picked up a book. He then proceeded to the changing table, and when I put him on it he opened his book to read while I cleaned things up! Usually he is very unhappy about his diaper changes, but I guess he's come to accept them, and not only that, but he is using that time to engage in some reading time.
  • I like to watch Miles try to figure things out on his own, and sometimes he seems so scientific about whatever he is doing, but then he'll turn around and become a little artist. I just don't know where his interests are going to lie, but it's fun just watching and waiting in the meantime.
I'll try to add more little stories as I think of them. I know there are hundreds of them floating around in my brain, but it's very difficult to access them whenever I want. Ah, a mother's memory!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

ITube, YouTube, WeAllTube

Well, I caved and uploaded my first YouTube video. Hopefully Miles won't hold a grudge in the years to come, but it really is just a precious video...nothing embarrassing as far as I can see.

Click here to view the clip.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Updates, Organization and Some Ramblings

Since sorting through my thoughts on the New Year, and then sharing them here on Trace Talks, I have been in a much calmer state of mind. I am handling Miles the way I really think I should -- not that I never did it before, but now I'm just more consistent about it -- and I am in a more positive state of mind. I am delving into the Word each evening as well, which is always such a peaceful way to end the day.

Casey and I have been super-busy-bees since we arrived home from visiting family just a few days ago. Normally I am so spent that I just want to lie down for the next week before I get back to any kind of normal routine. But for some reason the organization bug hit me, and off I went, clearing out one corner and then another. We decided to change up our bedroom just a bit and finally have the reading corner we've wanted for so long (the corner has actually been sitting bare, waiting for it's chair). Having a sort of 'sanctuary' we can go to, where we really enjoy how everything is arranged, is such a great feeling. Okay, the walls are still pretty bare, but we'll get to that someday. One step at a time, people!

But seriously, it's crazy how I've had all these space-saving ideas come flooding into my head in just a few days. All I did was go through a little three-drawer storage thing (which now doubles as my nightstand), plus we moved the bookcase and hamper to new locations -- and I cleaned out and organized the bookcase -- and then an idea for the laundry room hit me as we were strolling through Casey's favorite store: Home Depot. Shelves! I'll put these shelves in the laundry room, and I can store things here, both for the laundry room but also from our pantry (which really doesn't exist; we just use the cabinets). Woohoo! And so I was off and running, although we still haven't purchased the shelves because the money's not quite available at the moment. Hopefully I won't lose momentum before they're here and put together.

Miles is just a week away from being three months away from his second birthday. His second birthday! It is just too much. And the hair on his head seems to grow exponentially by the day. I know that he will need a little trim in the back before too long, but I am holding out as long as I can. Once you start cutting that baby hair, that is it -- it's never that fine again. Well, maybe some people get lucky, but with Casey's hair being as coarse as it is (and I mean that in the best way, believe me), I don't think we'll be those people.

I think about having a second baby a lot. Maybe not as much as I thought about having my first baby, but it comes pretty close. It's so crazy how a mother can so easily forget all the pain and just see the beautiful baby...but that's where I am. And no, we don't have a definite plan for the next one. We sort of have this tentative plan out there, but Casey and I have talked about it, and we just really want this to be very God-based. And yes, it should be anyway, but we didn't focus on it that way the first time. We want to spend more time in prayer about it -- not overthink things as best we can -- and see where God's will takes us. That doesn't mean I won't stop occasionally wanting a baby now, but it will help.

Speaking of babies, it's time to go wake my boy from his nap. There's not a whole lot more beautiful than Miles just woken up...except maybe Miles just fallen asleep.

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year...New You?

For quite a while now, I have done so much reflecting as one year would end and another would begin. I'd pull out my journal on December 31st and write about everything that had happened, or I'd pull out my journal on January 1st and write about everything I wanted to see happen. And I can say that some of that was just for posterity, and that it was a chore in a sense. But for the most part, I really did try and reflect on things. Either last New Year's Eve or the one before, I wrote down this long list of the things I wanted to change about myself. I don't strongly recommend doing that, especially if you expect to read over that entry later and happily check each item off the list. Okay, it might work out for you, but I am personally taking a lot longer in my striving to 'become.'

It is so hard to accept that, as a Christian, I will always be striving, working and allowing God to work in me -- that I will never, as a human, be perfect and see the reflection in the mirror that I want to see. Yes, I know that I have changed over the years in some better ways, but you know how it goes: you are your very worst critic. Thankfully I am surrounded by so many examples of Christlikeness, every single day! And I confess that one of my struggles is in not letting myself feel overwhelmed and discouraged when I inevitably mess up.

My biggest faults? I'll share some of them. I find that I am easily irritated by the smallest of things, and I can't even name them all. It really just depends on my mood, and so just a tiny thing that might not be the way I want it becomes this mountain of irritation. Now, that's not so much the fault, but what is the fault is the way I react to the irritation at hand. I frequently allow that irritation to spill over, and who do you think hears about it the most? That's right -- the two guys I love more than life, Casey and Miles. And oh boy, do I ever beat myself up over hurting either one of them! Fortunately I can ask for their forgiveness and for God's, but I really do hang onto it much longer than I should.

I complain too much. I think I got into the habit of being able to talk about my physical pain with Casey, and I wouldn't so much whine about it, but I just needed to say out loud that I was hurting. And that's okay, and Casey was fine with it. But it has become a habit to the point that I am finding things to complain about since I stopped dealing with those physical problems! I think I have always been a complaining kind of person, but it has become worse this past year. And you know all those things about yourself deep down, and you can ignore it every now and then...but then someone you love tells you with love (and that is the most important part, because otherwise it's not effective) that you do this or that, and there is absolutely nowhere to hide. In my case, I am so sensitive, and so I will be hurt about it for a while. After that is over, I will do one of two things: I will just not want to even deal with it or care about it, because hey, I've tried to change that before and it is just too hard...or, I will be motivated to begin trudging up the hill of change.

I am slowly coming to accept that what I want changed in me is not going to happen overnight. I mean, it's something I always knew logically, but I was still upset when it didn't happen. Now I am able more to look at the baby steps of becoming who God sees that I can be. And today probably could not have gone any better than it did in all of that, and I know that is because I am not just relying on me to make it so. I have God giving me strength, Casey encouraging me, and Miles doing the same in his way, which means randomly squeezing my neck and planting kisses all over my face.

Back to the journaling thing. This year was the first in many years that I did not write in my journal on either New Year's Eve or Day. For one thing, I kept forgetting at various times on both days, but when I would think about it, I knew that I didn't really know what I was going to write about. I have been disappointed in myself, in my attitude as of late, and I just didn't want to write about that disappointment. And now that I am past those feelings, for the most part, I feel good just sharing a couple of my imperfections with whomever cares to read about them!

This year I want to be physically stronger and healthier. My body has been weakened by all that has happened, and I am now able to get out and exercise more often. And I know that by doing that, my overall mood will be lifted by those crazy endorphins. But emotionally and spiritually? That is where I will be striving for gentleness and self-control. I know that people think nice things about me, and they tell me these things, but I know in my heart that I am not always the 'nice' person that they see, and that is who I most want to be. I know she is in there somewhere, and I plan on getting to know her better.
cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

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