Friday, October 9, 2009

End of Great Books Week

Well, I skipped yesterday topic as it was what book did I hate in high school but love now. I didn't have an answer for the question since the ones I hated then I still don't like (Lord of the Flies), and all the other ones I had to read I liked or loved then and now.

Today's topic is "When I want to give someone a special gift, I give them [name of book] because…"

This is a bit of a tough question as well since I don't really have a consistent book that I give people, but I can think of a couple possibilities. There are two specific children's books that I love to give to new parents - Guess How Much I Love You and Harold and the Purple Crayon. The first speaks of love and the other of imagination and creativity...all things I believe in and want to share. Most of the time if I give a book as a gift, it's something that I specifically think the other person would like and thus it is closely tied to their personality and/or favorite genre.

I've enjoyed thinking about books this week. I think about them often anyways since I work in a library and love to read...but it was nice to read what others think about books too. Any book suggestions for me?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Great Books Week - Day 3

Today's topic was hard at first since they asked for a classic book and I just couldn't think of one that seemed like my story. I tend to be drawn to characters and people who are more likely to be the opposite of me. But, then I remembered the character I felt the most kinship with and knew what to say. It isn't a classic book, but it's a favorite series of mine.

"I’d write my autobiography, but I don’t need to, because my story has already been told in…"

The Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn

I love these books, and thankfully for me this author just keeps writing more and more about my favorite characters and their continuing story. But it is Christy Miller who I have always felt most similar to. She is the main character of the first set of 12 books which detail her life in high school. My parents got me the series when I was abotu 16 or so and I quickly read through all 12 books and each one seemed to be so like my own life in so many ways. I could empathize with Christy Miller and there were even events that happened to her that were eerily similar to my life experiences. I love that it is a Christian series so God is always at the forefront of the stories, but the author's amazing detail and vivid descriptions and storylines kept me hooked. Christy Miller's story has continued on through other storylines and series which have a different main character, but she remains my favorite and the one I feel most reflects my life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great Books Week - Day 2

Today's question is "When I was a child, my favorite book was… because…." and I have four answers.

  1. You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye by Patricia Hermes. I'm not sure exactly when I read this book for the first time, but it has become one of my all-time favorites. It is very sad and always makes me cry when I read it. The story is about a young girl whose mother is diagnosed with incurable cancer. She struggles to feel normal and resists acknowledging that her mother is sick even though her mother writes her a journal (or letters) detailing things she wants her to know and remember. There are very humorous sections and other parts that just make me weep.
  2. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I remember devouring this series of books and being so excited about them that I asked my mom & dad to read them too so we could talk about them. I have a much beloved collection of the books and want to reread them soon to see what I can learn from them now as opposed to what I remember. My particular favorites were the stories about cooking, toys, and Almanzo's childhood. And though Laura's life was very different from mine, I felt like her family was very similar to mine and that was comforting.
  3. Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt. I'm not sure why I've always felt so strongly about this book as it is not a situation I've ever gone through personally, but it has always resonated with me. It is a book about a young girl who is in a car accident and one of her legs must be amputated. It details the struggles she faces with accepting herself, getting stronger, making new friends and moving on. I often reread this one and really enjoy it.
  4. There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar. I have always loved this's a short read, but meaningful. It is from a boy's perspective which is different for me since I usually feel more empathy for female main characters, but I just love Bradley Chalkers. However, my favorite character is his school counselor Carla and the relationship she builds with him. I also love his imagination regarding his animal figurines. It makes me laugh and it makes me sad sometimes too, but it has stuck with me over the years and I love it.

There really are so many other books I could write about since I have loved reading from the moment I could finally do it on my own and probably even sooner. :) I'm really enjoying this great books week and would love to know what book you loved as a child and why?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Books Week

Randomly, I just found out that this week (October 4-10) is Great Books Week through my friend Maggie's blog. Since I do love and adore books I wanted to join in. So here is my first entry:

Day #1: If I were stranded alone on a deserted island with only seven books to read over the next few years, I would like to have…

  1. Gone with the Wind - I've already read this one three times and would enjoy the time and opportunity to give it a few more good readings. I love the story and I'm sure that I would discover new things each time.
  2. The Post-Birthday World - this book was fascinating and definitely one I'd reread.
  3. You Shouldn't Have to Say Goodbye - it's sad and always makes me cry, but an all-time favorite.
  4. Bible - it would be good to finally read through all of the Bible
  5. The Historian - great book, a little creepy, very interesting and definitely time consuming.
  6. Nora Roberts trilogy - either the Three Sisters or Chesapeake Bay Brothers...both are favorites and come three books in one.
  7. I can't remember the title, but it is a Heartsong Christian romance novel that is one of my's a quick read, but I love to reread it.

Here's a link to the Great books Week facebook page for more info if you want to join in.

What seven books would you bring?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mamma Mia! It's my big fat Greek 30th Birthday and Housewarming!

Well, it appears I've made a habit of being late on this blog, but better late than never! :) On August 29 we celebrated my 30th birthday and our housewarming with a Greek-themed open house. Over the course of the day (from 1-9pm) we had 93 family and friends join us in our double celebration. We felt so blessed to see so many loved ones and to share our joy with them in our new home. I've included some pictures of our house and the party.We do have photos with every guest, but that would take too much space...but you can check out the photos on facebook if you'd like.

The house is no longer empty - our furniture is there! It's feeling more like home, but sometimes I still get the sensation that we're somehow on vacation yet we brought everything we own with us! :)

Our living room has since changed due to the wonderful addition of a large entertainment center - a hand-me-down gift from Uncle David and Aunt Rasa - thanks! :)

Birthday balloons leading up the stairs, and looking through the living room into the dining room.
Another view of the stairs, this time looking through to the kitchen past the bathroom.

The extra part of the living room...will eventually hold a nice desk and a large shelf for the stereo.

The kitchen is mostly moved in we're just still trying to find the best location for some items with less cupboard and drawer space than we had previously.

One half of the dining room - one of my favorite rooms in the house

The other half of the dining room - the loveseat is under the window and since the ceiling fan is just above it's one of the coolest parts of the house. :)

Our Greek extravaganza - Kelly cooked Greek chicken and soup and hot diggity dogs, Mom cooked more hot diggity dogs, and we made Greek meatballs, hummus layered dip, Greek roasted potatoes, Greek salad, watermelon feta salad, and pasta salad.

We also had flavored hummus, pita chips, tzadziki, fresh pita bread, marinated olives, Mediterranean salads, fresh fruit, veggies & dip, marinated peppers, fresh tomatoes and homemade vinaigrette. Kelly was our living menu and showed every guest the bounty of the table. :)

My wonderful friend Mandy made two cakes which were themed from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The lamb cake was red velvet and represented Tia Voula's decision after hearing that Ian "won't eat no meat"..."that's ok, I make lamb!" :)

Mandy also made a lemon bundt cake which was also in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding..."Bun, no a bundt, bung, no a's a cake...I know" :)

Later in the evening our wonderful friend Gracie from church showed up with this beautiful and yummy cake version of our house. We hated to cut it up, but it was quite tasty. :)

It was a great party and we felt so blessed to have so many wonderful guests in our new home. We look forward to having people over again individually so that we'll have more time to chat with them personally.
It's hard to believe that we are now homeowners and we still have a garage full of boxes to unpack! :) We are so grateful that God has blessed us with a lovely home, wonderful friends and family, and so many other amazing blessings. Thank you God!

Friday, August 7, 2009


I'm a little delayed in posting the good news...but as of Friday, July 31 Josh & I became homeowners for the first time. Hooray! We had spent the day in great anticipation of when we might officially get the keys but did not get the call until after 5:30pm when we hurried over to our house to meet our wonderful realtor and friend Rob May. We took the obligatory photos and were just so excited to be able to say we own a house! :)

Saturday was spent scrubbing every surface and cupboard and wall with some wonderful friends. Angela and Robin showed up first thing along with my sister Kelly. Kelly, the queen organizer, had made a detailed two-page list of everything to be cleaned and her housewarming gift to us was all the cleaning products we could possibly need. We worked on the kitchen first - Angela stretched to reach the highest shelves and even got just about right into the oven in her goal to scrub it clean. Kelly scrubbed walls and shelves so she could lay lovely fruit-themed shelf paper in all my cupboards, drawers and pantry. Robin patiently scrubbed walls, windows, and even crawled almost completely into huge dark cabinets. I cleaned out drawers, scrubbed cabinet doors, cleaned all three bathrooms, including all the toilets and also wiped down walls.

Meanwhile, Josh and his parents got to work on the yard. His parents had offered to do our landscaping and share some of the lovely plants from their backyard since they will be moving later this year and hated to leave them all. His dad quickly dug up the ugly cactus front the front walkway and his mom pruned our hugely overgrown rose bushes. They weeded, raked, and basically made the front yard so much lovelier. Josh was able to mow the lawn, clean the garage and thanks to our friend Jerry, was also able to trim the edges of the yard with a weed whacker.

Soon after Josh's parents headed home, our dear friends Melissa and Alicia arrived with little welcoming gifts and were prepared to immediately get to work helping us clean. They even took some time to run get lunch for everyone and decided to bless us even more by paying for it themselves, even though we had planned to pay. With their help added to everyone else, now also including Angela's husband Jerry and their son Michael, we were able to clean the entire house. Michael helped by scrubbing the banisters and some stariway walls, then protected us from the bad guys with a Star tours play gun we found hidden in a cupboard. Melissa and Alicia helped me to completely scrub the upstairs bathrooms along with mopping high walls and scrubbing windows. By 4pm, we had accomplished everything on Kelly's list - we were tired, sore and sweaty, but we were finished. On the way home, I had a bit of an emotional breakdown and just sobbed happy and thankful tears thinking about my wonderful friends who were willing to give up their day off to help me clean my beautiful, once dirty and now clean, house.

Saturday evening we celebrated our becoming homeowners with a big dinner at our favorite once-in-awhile restaurant Outback Steakhouse. Since my grandparents are visiting to help Mom & Dad while Dad is recovering from his surgery they were also able to join us along with my parents, and Kelly & David and the kids. We had a wonderful dinner (I sure do love their steak, bread, and broccoli) with wonderful fellowship. What an amazing God we serve!

Then Josh and I decided to head to PetSmart to buy a new kitten. We had always wanted another cat, but in our apartment we were limited to just the one. We really wanted an all white kitten since our cat Cyrano is all black and we were trusting that God would provide just the right pet for us when we were able to get one. Well, we got a bit more than we bargained for! :) There were two all white female kittens - littermates, about 9 weeks old and one was deaf. The pet adoption lady really wanted her to find a good home and though we intended to get just one, we decided why not? So Talia and Marilyn Monroe became part of our family.

Talia (closer to me) loves to snuggle and bite my chin (why?), loves to eat and often pushes her sister aside to have the food to herself, and can be a little whiny when she wants attention.
Marilyn Monroe is deaf, wears a pink collar with a bell, is curious and fearless, loves to attack her sister and has a loud purr which she does the minute you pay her any attention.
They have not been properly introduced to Cyrano yet, but they currently live in my closet and bathroom at the apartment so he can hear and smell them through the door. Once we are moved into the house, we plan to introduce them to him while he is in his carrier and then let them roam the house together. We will leave the kittens closed up in a room when we are at work or out of the house until we can trust them all together.
After church on Sunday, we were able to borrow a power washer from our realtor Rob and Josh spent the afternoon cleaning the outside of the house. I spent that time playing with the kittens and snuggling them so they could get used to me. This week we have spent time in the evenings packing more boxes, loving on the kittens and trying to get prepared for the big move on Saturday.
On Tuesday, we had the carpets cleaned. Though they ended up coming much later than expected, and it ended up costing more than we thought due to some very tough stains, we now have clean carpet throughout the house and it looks so much better than it had. Wednesday, Kelly helped us by packing all the guest bathroom and our Tupperware cabinet in the kitchen. I also packed everything else non-breakable in the kitchen and we took a load over to the house and spent some time putting it all away. So part of the kitchen is done, and Kelly got the upstairs guest bathroom completely decorated and pretty. Josh spent that time placing our computers, TV's and phones around the house in preparation for the Verizon guy to connect our phone, internet, cable and DVR throughout the house on Thursday.
We still have so much to pack and it can seem quite overwhelming to me at times. But, I spent yesterday afternoon packing the pantry and was able to put 4 bags of food aside to take to our church pantry and unfortunately had to throw away a lot of past-expiration date food (even back to 2005) as well. Josh worked on the kitchen making sure all the dirty dishes either went into the dishwasher, or he hand-washed it. Kelly came over and we took down all the pictures in the hall, dining room, living room and office and packed those up. Then we packed all the breakables from the curio cabinet in Josh's dresser drawers, using his clean clothes to cushion them.
Today we plan to pack up my bathroom and closet, the china hutch using my clean clothes in my dresser drawers, and at least the rest of the kitchen. His parents are coming over to help take loads of boxes to the new house and put things away. Josh will pick up the U-Haul truck this afternoon and our apartment neighbor Robby, who is a handyman, is going to help him fix some little issues around the house - replacing acrylic panels from the kitchen and bathroom light fixtures, buying new lightbulbs, fixing the downstairs toilet and some faucets that leak. Tonight our Bible Study group will help us with more packing, taking stuff to the house and putting it away.
Tomorrow is the big move and we should have 7-10 people there to help out. Due to prior plans, I will not be able to be there the whole time, but thankfully Angela has offered to take over for me and direct the movers as to where furniture and such will go in the new house. Josh will pick someone to direct movers in the apartment so he can pack the truck which he is very good at using the space wisely and efficiently. We hope to get it all done by the afternoon. We will spend our first night in our new house tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it finally feeling real...we own a house and we live in it, you know? :)
I'm sure over the next few weeks, months, and years we will find many things that need fixing, replacing, redecorating, etc but I still can't believe how quickly we became homeowners. Just 6 months ago I was so dead set against buying a house and didn't think there was any way we could afford it and why did we need to even try. But God spoke to my heart at a little church in central CA and reminded me that I needed to put all my trust in Him and that if it was time for a house then He would make it clear to us and He would provide a way. And oh how He did! We have been truly blessed and it's been so clear from that moment that this is what God had planned for us - every door opened and everything came together to become this miracle of a new beginning for us. I am so thankful and grateful and happy...God is soooooo good, all the time!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Almost there!

It had seemed like nothing was ever going to happen with the house. For the past month we hadn't heard much except what financial paperwork we needed to get to our mortgage guy Brian. I admit I was getting impatient and a little frustrated by the seeming lack of forward movement with the house. But...that has changed!

Last week we found out that our loan was approved and the loan documents were being sent to the escrow company. We called them repeatedly on Monday hoping to be able to get in to sign them. Finally around 2pm they were finally ready and so we stopped at the bank to get a cashier's check for the remainder of the down payment. It ended up being almost $1000 more than we had expected, but God provided and with us needing to only pay half our rent in August, not having our first mortgage payment until September, and the fact that we had started saving up some excess money we were able to handle the surprise. After getting the check we drove to San Bernardino to visit the escrow company.

We met with Linda, the notary public, and spent just over an hour signing and signing...and signing :)...our names. It was quite a stack of documents, but we got them done. We were told that the next step was to find out if the two broken windows had been fixed. They had not, so both Brian and Rob called the seller to make sure they were on top of getting it done this week. We've been told that the window will be fixed today, so that hopefully it can be appraised this afternoon. Next we make sure everything is signed and that the money is transferred and then hopefully by Friday we will get the keys and actually be homeowners!

Though it seems to me sometimes that this process has taken a long time, I can look back and see that it really happened so quickly. We began looking in March after God spoke to me in late February and let me know that He would provide a house for us and that I needed to trust Him. We found several possible houses in the next few months, and then on June 9 our offer on Via Apolina was accepted. And by the end of this week we will be homeowners...just 5 months from when we began! What an awesome God we serve! He is so worthy of our trust and adoration...what a blessing He has provided for us.

We began packing a few weeks ago, but as we are both procrastinators, it is of course no where near being complete. Our goal is to have the big move-in day of Saturday, August 8 when we hope to get all the furniture and all packed boxes moved into our new home. We will still have our apartment until at least August 15, so we have some time if there are a few things left over. If we do get the keys this Friday, then we are hoping to have a cleaning weekend on Saturday and Sunday, August 1 & 2. If any of you reading are willing and able to help with either cleaning or moving - or even packing! :) - ...please let us know as we would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for your prayer and support as we've gone through this process. We look forward to celebrating with you at our housewarming/Mamma Mia, It's my Big, Fat, Greek, 30th Birthday on August 29!

Prayer requests:
  • Pray that the window will get fixed, the appraisal will go well, and that everything is complete so that we can get the keys on Friday
  • Pray that cleaning will go well prior to moving in
  • Pray that we get packing and have most, if not all, accomplished by moving day
  • Pray that we have lots of energy to pack after working all day and that we get enough sleep as well
  • Pray that moving day goes well with nothing broken, lots of help, and no complications
  • Pray that we are able to get our full deposit back from our apartment and that move out goes well
  • Pray for patience, kind words, and peace as we go through this major change in our lives - I have been very stressed about much of it and worried about many things
  • Pray for anything I can't think of that I'm sure will pop up unexpectantly :)

Love you all! *hugs*

Friday, June 26, 2009

Things are happening quickly

Last Friday we had our house inspection and appraisal. Both seemed to go well. Our inspection paperwork has already been emailed to us and all is well with the house. The biggest concerns were the two broken windows which we already knew about and which the seller will need to have repaired. Everything else mentioned is fairly cosmetic and easily or inexpensively repaired like leaky faucets, tiny rips in the kitchen linoleum, tree debris on the roof to be cleared, etc. All the appliances work, including the a/c, which I was concerned about as it isn't necessary by FHA rules that it be functioning - only that the heat works. :) There aren't any plumbing or electrical problems which is also an answer to prayer.

On Wednesday, we met with our realtor to give him a cashier's check for the the deposit. Right before we arrived, he received a bunch of information regarding our house - disclosures, escrow instructions, etc. This was the next step we were waiting for in the process. He needed some time to read and reveiw everything and we will meet with him either this afternoon or tomorrow to discuss it all and sign all the paperwork ready now. Things seem to be moving along pretty quickly which is exciting and also a bit nerve-racking as it means we are this much closer to being responsible homeowners. :)

I've included a few new pictures of the house - mostly of the upstairs since I didn't have any to post last time. There is also some updates to prayers, and some continued prayer requests. Thanks for supporting us with your love, prayers and encouragement...we appreciate it. *hugs*

Looking into the master bedroom, just beyond the door is the closet on the left side, and to the right is the master bathroom. The windows look out into the back yard.

Another view of the master bedroom.

Looking from the master bedroom toward the extra bedroom to the right and the office to the left. Stairway looks down into the entryway.

Looking into the guest bedroom - it is quite small, but has a large walk-in closet to the right behind the door. Cute windows overlook the front of the house and along the front walkway.

Looking into the office (middle doorway) which is larger than the guest bedroom; and the bathroom to the left.

A better picture of part of the kitchen. To the right is the door to the garage and walkway to guest bathroom and front door. To the left is the sink and counter. Behind is space for the refrigerator and a walk-in pantry, and opening to the dining room/family room.

Prayer Updates:
  1. House inspection is finished and requires few repairs. Cost was much lower than we expected as well.
  2. Paperwork is coming in quickly and seems to have few problems if any.

Prayer Requests:

  1. That all repairs would happen quickly, inexpensively, and easily.
  2. That any and all paperwork involved be handled with no complications or problems.
  3. That cleaning and preparing to move into our new home go smoothly.
  4. That the move process from our apartment to house go smoothly with little or nothing broken.
  5. That we get most, if not all, of our deposit back from our apartment complex.
  6. That there be no financial, spiritual, emotional, or physical setbacks or problems in the next few months as we prepare for this big change.
  7. That God will bless our realtor for all his help in this process, and also that he bless his wife and their new baby girl.
  8. For anything else that I can't think of or just don't know about yet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

House update

Last weekend we were able to visit the house to remind ourselves exactly what it looked like take measure all the room dimensions...and to enjoy that it looks pretty much like it's going to be our house. Josh's parents came along to see it, and Kelly & David and the kids stopped by too. Katelyn & Jonathan loved the stairs most of all and went up and down them at least 20 times in between hiding in the closets, running around in the empty bedrooms and laughing a lot! :)

We signed some additional papers yesterday (not sure exactly what they were, but basically they started the 10 days countdown of time to have a house inspection done). Tomorrow is the house inspection and we meet & pay the inspector at 3:30pm. Hopefully all will go well and once this is completed the seller will fix the two broken windows (in formal dining room and kitchen), and we move on to the next step of the process. Our realtor expects that escrow should close by the end of July and we should get the keys by early August hopefully. If this happens, we hope to have a big moving weekend on August 7-9 and we'd love any help we can get. We also plan to have a housewarming/Keri's 30th birthday party on August 29 at our new house. Invitations will be on the way next month, but please put it on your calendar as everyone is invited! :)

Here's some more pictures of the house, followed by some updates to the prayer requests.

Front door - needs to be sanded and we plan to repaint it a lovely dark blue color. Roses need to be pruned, but they smell divine and I love the pink, red and purple colors!

In the kitchen looking toward the back door, through what we will use as our dining room. To the left is where the fridge will go, next to a great walk-in pantry.

Front door is to the right with the half bathroom (open doorway) across from the stairs to the left...then leading into the kitchen with garage access.

Looking up the stairs to the two bedrooms and bathroom to the far right. The room with the large window will be the office, and next to it will be our guest bedroom (Winnie the Pooh themed). Master bedroom is behind and to the right and has a nice sized master bathroom (no pictures of it for now).

From the stairs looking down into the living room - our realtor Robert May in the picture.

Looking down into the formal dining room, but we will use it as an additional part of the living room making it kind of L-shaped.

Lovely staircase...can't you just imagine it wrapped in Christmas lights and greenery? :)

Some of the beautiful and delicious smelling roses along the front walkway.

Looking into the backyard at the giant shady pepper tree. There is a also a peach tree just out of the picture to the left full of ripening peaches. :)

Our soon-to-be house...isn't it lovely?

Prayer Updates:
  1. Immediate financial costs (deposit, house inspection, closing costs, etc) have been generously loaned to us by Kelly & David and Uncle David & Aunt Rasa. We are so grateful for their help. Thank you!
  2. We've spoken to one of the manager's of our apartment complex and discovered that we can give our 30 day notice at the beginning of July and still have a week or more past the 30 days in the apartment if necessary and only be charged a partial amount. This will help since we need to "live" in both places for at least a week or more to give time for cleaning and moving.
  3. The process has moved along fairly quickly so far and we are currently busy collecting financial documents that our mortgage guy Bryan needs, and as mentioned will take care of the house inspection tomorrow afternoon.

Continued prayer requests:

  1. That all inspections, repairs, etc would happen quickly, inexpensively, and easily.
  2. That any and all paperwork involved be handled with no complications or problems.
  3. That cleaning and preparing to move into our new home go smoothly.
  4. That the move process from our apartment to house go smoothly with little or nothing broken.
  5. That we get most, if not all, of our deposit back from our apartment complex.
  6. That there be no financial, spiritual, emotional, or physical setbacks or problems in the next few months as we prepare for this big change.
  7. That God will bless our realtor for all his help in this process, and also that he bless his wife and their new baby girl as they adjust to being a family.
  8. For anything else that I can't think of or just don't know about yet.

Thank you for all your love and support and prayers. We love you! *hugs*

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Offer accepted!

We got some great news today from our realtor - one of our offers on a house was accepted! We are cautiously optimistic that this may be the house God has for us. They also accepted our original offer of $171,500 instead of our more recent highest and best offer of $175,000...this is an answer to prayer as we weren't sure if the higher offer was truly something we could afford.

The house is in Moreno Valley - 10173 Via Apolina and here is a picture.

It is 1,600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2 & 1/2 bathrooms, fireplace in the living room, on a just under 5,000 square foot lot in a very nice neighborhood called Sunnymead Ranch.

We received the acceptance of our offer this morning and will be visiting our realtor tonight to sign the offer and see what needs to be done next. A house inspection will need to occur and two windows need to be replaced (most likely by the seller), but provided all goes well and there are no complications they want escrow to close by August 14. This answers a particular prayer of mine that we be in a house before my 30th birthday on August 28.

We would deeply appreciate your prayers about the following things:
  1. That this is the house that God has for us and if it is not, then prayer that we continue to have faith that it is out there and not be too disappointed.
  2. That all inspections, repairs, etc would happen quickly, inexpensively, and easily.
  3. That any and all paperwork involved be handled with no complications or problems.
  4. That the immediate financial costs (down payment, closing costs and home inspection) be provided.
  5. That cleaning and preparing to move into our new home go smoothly.
  6. That the move process from our apartment to house go smoothly with little or nothing broken.
  7. That we have no problems giving 30 day notice and that we get most, if not all, of our deposit back from our apartment complex.
  8. That there be no financial, spiritual, emotional, or physical setbacks or problems in the next few months as we prepare for this big change.
  9. That God will bless our realtor for all his help in this process, and also that he bless his wife and their new baby girl as they adjust to being a family.
  10. For anything else that I can't think of or just don't know about yet.

I know things can change and this isn't set in stone yet...but I want to thank God and share this wonderful news with all of you. God does answer our prayers and He does it just in His time. Even if this doesn't work out, I will still believe that it true. Thank you for your prayers up til now, and those that you continue to pray. I'm so blessed to be surrounded by such a warm, loving and caring crowd of family and friends and that is all due to the many blessings of God in my life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

House Hunting and the Farmer's Market

We are still in the process of looking for a house and have gone most Sunday afternoons to look at possibilities with our awesome realtor Robert. This past Sunday, he had chosen 4 houses that he thought we might like and took us to view them. We ended up liking three of the four homes so much that we decided to place offers on all three. We haven't heard any news yet about any of them, but whether we get accepted or not we continue to have faith that God has a house out there for us and it will happen exactly when it is supposed to happen. :)

In other news, we have found a new hobby that keeps us busy and healthy on Saturday mornings - the Farmer's market! :) We went to the local farmer's market for the first time the weekend of Easter. Josh's parents have become vegan and they were coming to our house for dinner. Since we had to eat all veggies for dinner I wanted to find the freshest and yummiest ones possible! :) It was an amazing experience to see all the piles of delightful fruits, vegetables, fresh bread, and much more! It smelled sooooo good and really makes you want to buy everything! We ended up cooking a delicious meal of french onion soup with soy broth, fresh tabouli, cucumber salad, whole-wheat pita bread, mixed green salad with radishes, cucumber and homemade vinaigrette, roasted asparagus and carrots with lemon vinaigrette and a grilled veggie salad full of red wine vinaigrette marinated portabellos, zucchini, red onion, olives, fresh tomatoes and red, yellow and orange bell peppers. We ended the evening with fresh strawberries and fresh fruit juices (apple cherry pomegranete or passion fruit apple carrot). Since that first Saturday we have been back several more times and tried many more delightful things - fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh tdaziki and pita chips, garlic rosemary bread, fresh olive oil, more strawberries, and much more. Now I look forward to Saturday mornings spent at the farmer's market, followed by several meals of delicious, fresh, local produce! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Celebrating Angela

Today is my best friend Angela's 30th birthday. I was sitting here thinking about our friendship over the years and wanted to share some memories of the past 16 years. I think I will do 16 memories - one for each year that we've been friends, though not necessarily specific to each year. Enjoy!

  1. Angela and I met in our freshman year of high school in 1993. We immediately disliked each other for one reason - a boy. I had dated him the year before and she was dating him then. I kept trying to get him to talk to me and get back together, so of course she had no reason to like this girl who wanted to steal her man. Eventually they broke up and we became friends...though exactly how and when it happened has never been quite clear. I'm grateful that in his own way, Brett was able to bring Angela & I together as friends.
  2. One year for Angela's birthday, she had a slumber party and several girl's from school came over. We had a fun evening talking, giggling, eating, doing makeovers, etc. But one strange thing I remember is that we tried to make it look like a homeless man was asleep on the couch. We used pillows, a hat, a huge dog bone for the leg, tennis shoes and a blanket and I remember it looking pretty convincing. Why we would do this, who can remember?
  3. Yes, we were a bit boy crazy in high school. But we got creative and came up with nicknames for the boys we liked so we could talk about them around them without them knowing who we were discussing. I particularly remember often discussing them in Geometry class for some reason...probably because Jordan and Scurvy were nearby. :)
  4. My first trip to Las Vegas was a memorable last-minute trip with Angela, her mom and her younger sister. We stayed at the Golden Nugget, went to the amusement park at Circus Circus, walked around the Strip and memorably walked one very long evening walk from the Golden Nugget to the Stratosphere late at night and thankfully safely. It was a wonderful first visit and great time spent with my best friend.
  5. Once we got to college, we had originally intended to be roommates, but Angela wasn't able to live on campus. But we had a lot of fun getting to know fellow new students at retreat, in class, and in the dorms. There was one memorable time that Angela moved into my dorm room for a few weeks, hush hush, but we eventually got caught and she had to leave. But it was fun to have her around more often.
  6. One thing I've always loved about Angela is her joyful, silly and happy personality. She can never fail to make me laugh with either something silly she'll say or do and just laughing so hard and happily that you can't help but join in. You never know what will set her off, but you can be sure that life is more joyful with Angela.
  7. We have both always loved the movie Beaches and have nicknamed ourselves CeeCee (Angela) and Hill (me). Though our lives have not completely mimicked the movie, our friendship is in many ways very similar. We are remarkably different from one another and these differences both draw us together and also cause conflicts...but we love each other and do our best to be there for each other.
  8. The beginning of our friendship we were in many ways very much like big sister (Angela) and little sister (me). She was more experienced and more protective of me. This fit who we were at that time and worked for us for a long time. But as life is always changing and we with it, this began to have an effect on our relationship. I was experiencing more things and grew unappreciative of the protectiveness that I had once enjoyed. It caused little ruptures in our friendship. We weren't sure how to interact with each other in many ways and decisions we both made caused us eventually to have a falling out.
  9. Though a dark part in our friendship, it is still an important memory to me to remember what it was like to not be friends for a time. I think it gave us both time to evaluate who we were now and not just who we were in the past...and so about a year after my wedding I sent an email to Angela asking for reconciliation. Being able to forgive and move on from the past allowed us to come together as stronger and closer friends who had gone through more similar experiences and now had a more equal friendship. I am grateful that we had the time apart to realize how important our friendship was and that we were able to work out our differences to be there for each other now.
  10. A happier memory is of Angela's wedding. I remember planning her bridal shower - making tiny tea sandwiches, rose cupcakes that didn't rise and had shriveled sugared rose petals, and buying a gorgeous dark red rose corsage for her. Shopping for bridesmaid clothes with Angela and her sister Jeannie - I have often reworn the beautiful black velvet pants and shimmery black top. Angela & Jerry's beautiful outdoor wedding in Las Vegas - it was windy, chilly, and she was an absolutely beautiful bride! I was so happy to be able to be there to love and support her & Jerry on their special day.
  11. Another thing that I love about Angela is her honesty and openness. She is pretty much an open book - openly sharing her thoughts, feelings, emotions, up and downs with people through conversation and her blogs. She isn't afraid to share her opinion and will listen to yours even if you might end up disagreeing. We don't always think the same way, or agree on the same issues, but she doesn't let things like that stand in the way of friendship. It is refreshing to see her honesty and it makes it easier for me, and others I'd think, to be just as open and honest with her. I'm grateful that she brings this out in me as without her I'd be more likely to keep things to myself. In this way, one of our many differences is what brings us closer together.
  12. Another special memory I have is from when her son Michael was born. He was born two days before Christmas and I remember going with Josh to see him for the first time on Christmas Eve. He was such a cute little tiny guy and I loved holding him and spending time with them that day. Michael has grown into a super sweet little boy who is such a mixture of his parents - quiet and contemplative, yet also silly. I loved all the moments I've been able to spend with them - lunches with Angela & Michael at the CBU cafeteria, birthday parties, Halloween, and just evenings spent at their home or ours. He is a precious blessing to his parents and to all those who get to meet him.
  13. A couple year's ago, Angela began a monthly Girl's Night event. It was a time to come together with other girl friends and watch a movie, eat some yummy snacks and talk. We've alternated whose house we meet at (though most often at Angela's), what kinds of foods we eat (Mandy always makes us a feast with multiple desserts! :), and have watched many great and not-so-great movies over all these months. Some favorite evenings have been 80's night for Angela's birthday, princess tea at Mandy's, Christmas baking day, and many others. I think we have all benefited from the opportunity to spend one evening a month just girls. We've been able to love and support one another and just plain have fun together.
  14. One of my most recent memories with Angela happened last October when we got to go back to Vegas together and see Bette Midler in concert. We enjoyed yummy dinners, shopping, trying Coca Cola's many varieties, flirtatious merchants, and of course, the Divine Miss M! :) It was the first opportunity we'd had to take a vacation just the two of us and we had a lot of time to talk, laugh, cry and enjoy time together as best friends. I hope that in the future we'll have the opportunity to take another best friend vacation.
  15. Something else that I admire about Angela is how she will always follow through on what she decides to do. If she says she'll do something then you can be assured that it will happen. She decided to start exercising and training to do the Mud Run and worked so hard to accomplish it. She decided to walk in the Breast Cancer 3-Day and not only raised more than the necessary fundraising, but she also pushed herself to walk all three days. She has continued to set goals for herself to do another Mud Run and who knows what else. I am also so proud of her for her dedication to completing her college degree. Though it is challenging to combine being a wife, mother, full-time employee, and have any kind of social life - she adds in being a student and working hard toward obtaining her degree within the next year or two. I love that she works so hard to achieve those things that are important to her and it inspires me.
  16. Though Angela and I are very different, I love that we support and love each other in spite of, and sometimes because of those differences. She helps me to see things from another perspective, she allows me to be more open and honest, she makes me be silly and have more fun, and she encourages and listens to me. I am so grateful for her friendship in my life and I hope that this special birthday post helps to remind her why she is so important in my life and how much I love her.

Happy 30th Birthday Angela Rose!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

7th Anniversary Vacation

This February 25 was the seven year anniversary of when Josh & I met online through and we decided that we wanted to celebrate by taking a vacation to the central coast. We've been wanting to take a vacation to this area for several years now, but it finally was a possibility this year. We each took 3 days off work and decided to visit Atascadero/Paso Robles, San Simeon, Cayucos/Morro Bay, and Solvang. The beginning of our trip was spent staying at my good friend Jeff's apartment in Atascadero. We've known each other for almost 13 years after having met on a mission trip in 1996. He generously offered his extra bedroom for two nights and from there we were able to visit San Simeon - specifically Hearst Castle where we took two of the five tours offered. We also had the opportunity to go to church with him and he took spent an afternoon taking us on a driving tour of some picturesque country roads with lovely green valleys, beautiful old trees which sometimes created tunnels over the road, a pretty creek and gorgeous ocean vistas. Then we spent an evening in Cayucos at a quaint little hotel right on the ocean. It was a wonderful place to stay and we both wished we could have stayed longer enjoying the ocean views and the constant sound of waves crashing. After we Cayucos, we had lunch at a yummy BBQ restaurant in San Luis Obispo recommended by my boss Erica called Mo's Smokehouse. It was delicious and definitely someplace we'd like to visit again. We spent the night in Lompoc before spending several hours touring quaint Solvang. It was full of beautiful architecture, amazing bakeries with delicious pastries, and cute little shops including one called the Sock Loft which was full of adorable socks and foot-related items. We had a wonderful vacation that was very relaxing, very peaceful and very beautiful. We would love to go again so that we can take the additional 3 tours offered at Hearst Castle and spend a few more nights in Cayucos.

Waiting on the bus to take Tour 2 - Upper Floors of Casa Grande including Hearst's bedroom & study and the kitchen.

The Enchanted Hill - Hearst Castle as viewed from the Visitor Center (with our super zoom camera)

Casa Grande - the main house. Hearst Castle was built over a 28 year period and is uncompleted but full of amazing architecture and art and is a neat glimpse into life in Hearst's time.

The meeting room - guests were expected here each evening for cocktails before dinner and a movie.

Hearst's personal study

The dining room - dinner was served between 8:30 and 9pm and all guests were required to be there. Food was served on fine china, but paper napkins were always used.

The kitchen - it had some neat displays of the china, liquor cabinet, medicine cabinet and ovens/stoves.

One tiny corner of the huge library - thousands of beautifully preserved books.

One of the bedrooms in the Cloisters - every bedroom in the main house and 3 little houses had its own bathroom with flushing toilet and shower or tub. This is amazing since at the time most homes across America still had outhouses and one communal stand alone bathtub.

One of the ceilings in one of the main house bedrooms.

Another ceiling - this one is in Casa del Sol.

Pretty pink tree in the gardens.

Casa del Sol - one of the little houses. Each little house had several bedrooms and bathrooms, but all meals were served only in Casa Grande. No room service here!

Neptune Pool

The indoor pool - everything that looks like gold is 24 karat gold!

Ocean view coming down from Hearst Castle - at one time Hearst owned over 50 miles of coastline among many other properties.

Beautiful view

Shoreline Inn...on the Beach in Cayucos, CA.

Ocean view from our room - so beautiful!

Gorgeous ocean vista!

Elephant seals sleeping on the beach near San Simeon.

This one was flirting with the camera!

Pretty creek

Friends for almost 13 years - Jeff & Keri

Montana de Oro park - beautiful views!

Friends at the ocean - Josh, Keri & Jeff

Happy 7 years!

View of Morro Rock (means rock rock :) from our dinner at Embacadero Grill.

Kissing on the beach in Cayucos :)

Solvang, CA