Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in review

This year has gone by so quickly that I thought I'd do a year in review post! Our first anniversary is right around the corner, and I just love everything we have been through...together!

January: We got married! And, of course, went on our honeymoon on a cruise to Mexico! I also moved out to Washington and started this blog. I spent what felt like most of January unpacking!

February: We had our first Valentine's Day as a married couple! Sadly, I don't actually remember what we did. I also realized that I did not want to be home all day and I started writing about my depression. It was a difficult month.

March: Geoff's birthday is in March, and we celebrated with a friend who was visiting and a coworker/friend. I applied to be a census worker and mailed out numerous other applications.

April: I got a job as a census worker! This improved my outlook on life a lot. We started a small, patio garden, and I started babysitting.

May: I finished my training and went out on the field as a census worker. We received notice that our rent was going up and decided to start looking at houses. We headed down to Idaho for a wedding reception for Geoff's Idaho friends and family who couldn't make it out to Massachusetts in January.

June: We realized that we weren't going to be able to find and close on a townhouse before our lease was up, so we renewed it for 6 more months. We decided to look at houses instead of townhouses.

July: My sister-in-law, her husband and my mother-in-law came to visit and we went to a Red Sox/Mariners game. We narrowed down our choices and put an offer on a house.

August: My best friend came to visit, we added a new member to our family and we closed on the house! The last few days of August were spent painting and getting ready to move.

September: We moved into the house and I set to unpacking everything. My dad came to visit to help us move, along with Geoff's best friend. We got a couch from Freecycle.

October: My mom came to visit and we decorated! Thanks to her we got curtains in several of the rooms. A friend from school in Alabama also came to visit, and we did touristy things. I had a couple interviews that didn't pan out.

November: I (finally) got a job!! We hosted our first Thanksgiving and I adjusted to being out of the house for 8 hours a day for the first time in, well, 11 months.

December: We went away for Christmas and decorated our house (minimally) for Christmas. December flew by and I can't believe it is already the last day in 2010!

Here's hoping that 2011 is just as wonderful (but maybe not nearly as exciting, not sure I could handle that) as 2010!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I'm grateful Wednesday

This week I am again grateful that it is Wednesday! It came quickly this week because I had Monday off (I was traveling home from Christmas). So I guess I'm also grateful that it is a short week for me!

I'm grateful that my husband is home this week so I can give him a list of things that need to be done, like taking down the tree and laundry.

I'm grateful for the snow that isn't enough to be a nuisance, but enough to be pretty! I woke up to it this morning and it was a delight! Whenever I wake up to snow I feel like a little kid again.

I'm slightly grateful that Christmas is over because now I can finally get into a routine that isn't interrupted by a holiday every few weeks!

I'm grateful for the movie tickets I was given for Christmas because it means a fun (free!) date!

I'm grateful that my first anniversary with my wonderful husband is less than a week away!

What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm grateful Wednesday!

This week I'm so so grateful that it is already Wednesday, and that I have a half day tomorrow!

Even better, the first part of tomorrow's half day is going to be taken up with training for a new program we are using at my job. That means 2 hours out of the office! The change of scenery is going to be nice.

I'm grateful for my grandmother's ornaments that she sent us this year! I love having special ornaments on our tree not just a "theme" tree like we have had in the past. I'm excited to put up ornaments from both our childhoods on our tree!

I'm grateful that I'm finally being trusted to stay alone at work. Granted, it's a very very slow week, but still! I am being left alone to do my work and I am improving (I think!)

I'm grateful that tomorrow night Geoff and I will exchange our presents for each other! I'll admit it, I'm very excited to see what he got me, but also excited to see him open MY gift for him!

I was reminded again this past weekend how lucky Geoff and I were this year, so I am very grateful that we have a house, that we own it (or at least a small portion of it!) and that we can make our payments on it without worrying too much every month. Right now, there are so many people who will not be able to say that, this Christmas. I want to remember that when we're having bacon and eggs for dinner because it's cheap. We have so much, compared to many around us.

Finally, I am grateful for two kitties who curl up with us in bed and while we are watching TV. They are so soft and cuddly and they make our evenings fun!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The First Carpenter

Joseph. Do you ever think about what he gave up to become the father of Jesus? A child who was 100% not his, yet who he raised as his own. He is the one who taught Jesus to be a carpenter, his own trade. What must it have been like to know you are teaching God a trade that He created Himself?

When Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary, he probably thought she was a nice woman, and that they would have a routine life together. I don't kid myself to think they were in love, since they were betrothed, but I do think Joseph cared about her, after all he wouldn't have planned to "divorce her quietly" if he did not care. What must Joseph have thought when "it was discovered" that Mary was pregnant, before she even got married? I can only assume that she was pretty far along, at least far along enough that people noticed, by the time it was discovered. Joseph had every right to keep the dowry Mary's father gave him and turn her out to be stoned for what she did. Mary's life would have been ruined, and her family shamed. But he didn't do that. Joseph probably realized that people make mistakes, and he planned to divorce her quietly so she would be able to move on without the embarrassment of the whole village knowing what happened.

Of course we all know that God had other plans for Joseph, however. He was visited by an angel in a dream, verifying the story that Mary had told him herself. Now this is where Joseph amazes me the most. He risks his own reputation to marry Mary anyway, despite the obvious fact that she was carrying a child that was not his own. I wonder what the villagers thought. Did they assume Mary and Joseph had slept together prior to getting married? Did they think that Mary was just sleeping around and that the true father was somewhere out there? Either way, it didn't matter, not to Joseph. His reputation and Mary's were going to be ruined now, but he didn't care. He was going to be a dad...he was going to take on the biggest responsibility of his life. He was going to raise Jesus, God's son, as his own.

Talk about pressure.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mary did you know?

I've been thinking a lot about Christmas, of course, because it is right around the corner. While it seems like it has snuck up on me, I am trying very hard to consciously remember the real reason behind Christmas.
Of course, everyone thinks about Christmas day, when Jesus was born. Some people think about the way Mary and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. But how often do you think about Mary and Joseph's life before the baby was born? Before the angel came to Mary and told her the news that would not only change her life, but change the world.
Think about Mary. She was probably about 12 or 13 when she became engaged to Joseph. Though the bible does not talk about Joseph in a lot of detail, I get the impression that he is an amazing man. For Mary, this was not unusual. Mary would have been helping her mother around the house, of course, but a grown (hard to imagine that 13 is grown) woman is better served starting her own family.
So, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. I have no idea what weddings were like at that time, but I can only assume that there was some amount of planning going on before the actual wedding, before the time that Mary and Joseph could actually live together. I don't know how Mary was feeling, but I can tell you how I was feeling in the days and weeks leading up to my own wedding. I was a bundle of nerves, anxious to start my new life with my husband, and I was (and still am) deeply in love with him. For Mary, things would have been slightly different because, being betrothed, she most likely wasn't in love with Joseph. But I do think she would have been nervous about setting out on her own. I can't help imagining her as a young child, setting out on her own. Joseph was probably older, but not significantly. Two children, starting out on their own.
Then, Mary has a visit from an angel. I'm not sure if this was a regular occurrence, but if my friend came up to me and told me they had been visited by an angel, I would have thought she was crazy, and that's just the beginning of the story!
If it was me, and an angel came to me and told me that I was going to have a baby, I'd be terrified. Just because Mary knew she was a virgin didn't mean everyone else did, too, or would believe her when she told them the story. Poor Mary, a young woman, suddenly pregnant, with the eyes of everyone in the village on her.
It's Mary who I like to think about when I ponder the Christmas story. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to feel that baby growing inside her, knowing that he was God's son.
Whether you are a mother or not, whether you have carried a baby or, like me, never have, think about this story this year as you are unwrapping presents, and watching the joy of recipient's faces. Think about what Mary went through as she approached the time when she would give birth to the reason for this holiday.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Every good blog needs a miscellany post, right? (Humor me even if it doesn't!)

Today was a good day. I was able to dispatch at work with little help, and I was even left alone for a couple hours! This doesn't seem like much, but it was definitely an exciting moment in my new job. Unfortunately, I accidentally made one of our drivers work much longer than he needed to...and even though he was cheerful about it, I felt very bad. I am hoping future work days go better and that I am allowed to dispatch again.
When I got out of work, however, I realized just how tired I was! I fed the kitties, fed myself, put on my pjs, wrapped up in a blanket (we're cheap so we keep the house freezing pleasantly cool, even in the winter) and settled down on the couch to watch bad tv and relax. Geoff is out for the night, so I'm alone...and I actually don't mind it. After talking to drivers all day I was ready for some quiet and zoning-out.
I think I might be getting tired of Facebook games. When I was home all day I enjoyed them, but since I've started working and actually have a life...well, it doesn't seem like they are worth my time anymore. I'm glad that I am moving on. Even if it is to Plants vs. Zombies, a game my sister got me hooked on recently.
I've been toying with the idea of taking The Compact, but I find myself also worrying about what I do want to buy new. Most specifically, a worm bin, which I'm not sure I can buy used. This would be very green, because it helps with composting, and I most definitely wouldn't put it in my kitchen like this picture did, but the fact remains, I may not be ready to take The Compact just yet. I may try it for a month though, to see how I like it and go from there.

Speaking of The Compact and non-consumerism, I have been feeling very overwhelmed with consumerism lately. I attribute most of it (well OK, all of it...) to the fact that Christmas is right around the corner and everyone is promoting something. It still bothers me, and I feel very aware of it this year. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is uncomfortable. And I can't wait for Christmas to be over so the commercials will stop! Though there will always be commercials promoting things I don't need.

And with that...I have to say thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday rush

I made the mistake of going to the post office during my lunch break on Monday. This was definitely not my intention, but I had been putting this off for long enough that I really needed to get a few things in the mail. Two of those packages were Mary Kay products people had ordered, and a third was for the Pet Swap I am in (I thought the recipient of that would like to receive it before Christmas!)

I accidentally got a little lost on my way to the post office before work that morning, which meant I was headed out during my lunch break. Lets just say I was less than pleased. I arrived in the parking lot which had cars lined up in the street trying to park. Once I got in and managed to get my recycled mailers taped and the correct addresses on the correct packages, I was finally ready to stand in line.
Though the line moved fast, it was still about 5 minutes before I got to the front, and about 25 minutes into my lunch break. My, usually 30 minute lunch break. So I admit, I was pretty grouchy.

Now, imagine the poor person behind the counter. I can only imagine how their day was going. Unfortunately for me, I did not think about them when I walked up to the counter. In my defense, I can at least attest that I was not rude...but I don't think I was very pleasant, either. The woman behind the counter was pleasant, however, and I can't help thinking how hard she was working that day. Certainly harder than I was anyway. And yet, she didn't snap at me, and her manager was cheerfully saying "Happy Holidays!" to everyone leaving. Everyone working in that post office was working hard to make it run smoothly, and even though I didn't appreciate or notice it until later, they actually had holiday cheer, rather than the holiday rush I was feeling.

I feel a little guilty for being so rushed, and not even noticing, or taking the time to stop and realize that I need to be exhibiting holiday cheer, instead of my usual holiday rush.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm grateful Wednesday

Every week I post things I'm grateful for in the hopes that I will be constantly reminded of the good things. Some days everything seems to be too much, so finding the good is very important to me!

This week I'm grateful that it is Wednesday! Last week seemed to go so slowly. Though this week isn't flying by, at least it's not dragging like the last one!

I'm grateful for free coffee! I went to get coffee yesterday (I was really debating because I've been spending too much on coffee recently) and discovered that my stamp card was full and I had a free drink!

I'm grateful for a short week next week!

I'm grateful that I haven't messed anything up at work in a week and a half! I think I'm starting to learn.

I'm grateful for a husband that works hard to support us. He's been working a lot these last couple weeks on a big project.

I'm grateful that work is keeping me busy, which is why I can't add more today!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Unfortunately, I can't show you how our house is decorated for Christmas, because the camera and I are disagreeing. I think the memory cards should work properly, and it disagrees. I also think that when I take pictures without the memory card the camera should show up on my computer desktop when I plug it in. The camera disagrees. Sadly, the camera is winning.

So you will just have to take my word for it when I say our house is decorated for Christmas! Minimally decorated, that is. I have found myself becoming more and more of a minimalist over the past few years. Partially because of the blogs I've started reading in the past year, but I also blame the fact that I was quite transient for about 2 years before settling down here in Washington. If course 8 months after I settle down in our townhouse we bought a house and moved, but I like to think that we are at least going to be staying here for quite some time! Especially considering the rent isn't likely to go up like it did in the townhouse!
Since I have been so transient lately, I haven't really collected many Christmas decorations. What I did have is stored at my parent's house, so I am limited this year. Luckily Geoff bought a Christmas tree and ornaments when he first moved out here, so we do have a lovely blue and silver Christmas tree (which, coincidentally, were our wedding colors almost a year ago!) We also have two stockings hanging on the mantle, and a lovely winter table runner that I will be able to leave out as long as it's cold because it has snowmen on it!

I'm sure, in years to come I will build up my stash of Christmas decorations. In fact, this year after Christmas I'm already planning on buying lights for our house on major clearance. But this year I'm enjoying the simple, minimalist look in my brand new (to us) house.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I was so proud of my youth group girls a few weeks ago. Well, let me back up a little. Ever since I started my new job I haven't been able to go to La Mesa, the weekly youth group small groups at our church. I've been volunteering with youth groups since I graduated with college, and it was one of the first things I did when I moved out here and started attending our church. I co-lead the high school girl's small group and though this is a very small, small group, we have between 3 and 5 girls who do come regularly, and I love every one of them. I love seeing them grow, and ask questions. I love that our group is small and intimate, and that we feel free to go off the beaten path when we are in a lesson. Heading off topic is a regular occurrence, but it is never an issue; everything we talk about is important, interesting and relevant. I just love these girls.

One of the missions Robert, our director of youth has taken on is to do more local mission trips. Our church is located in a very wealthy area of the Seattle suburbs, and as such I think the teens sometimes forget or don't realize quite how lucky they are. Recently they did something called a Box Out, where they slept outside and didn't eat for 24 hours in an attempt to see what it was like to be homeless. They were even featured on our local news! Raising their awareness of the many homeless people in the Seattle area is so important. This brings us to last Wednesday.

Like I said, I haven't been able to come around on Wednesday nights since I started working. I've missed coming terribly, but with my new schedule it just hasn't been do-able. I am hoping, of course, to start up again in January. Anyway, at church the other day, two of my girls approached me and told me the idea of passing out hats and gloves to the homeless had been tossed around as a local trip they would do the following week. The girls wanted to let me know that we were doing that, so I decided it was important enough for me to try and get into work early so I could leave early so I could go with them into Seattle. It was tough, I was stuck in traffic on my way to the church, and I just barely made it before they left, but I was so glad I did, because the experience was well worth the rush, skipped dinner and traffic.

When we arrived at the spot, an intersection where Robert knows some people regularly hand out sandwiches and warm drinks, the girls dived right in and started handing out hats and gloves and chatting with the homeless men and (few) women there on the sidewalk. There was never any hesitation, any concern that they would be in danger. They chatted, smiled, offered as many gloves as they wanted, and generally seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Two girls and I headed down the street to find a few more people who were rumored to be there, and that is where we met Jordan. Jordan looked to be in his early 30s, and he was wearing a hat and a suit which was in excellent condition, aside from the fact that it had graffiti on the breast pocket. He was cheerful and friendly, and the two girls I was with took to him right away. We asked if he needed any food, and he replied, kindly, that he was all set, but did need some place to wash his clothes and a sewing kit. After chatting with him for a few minutes, we headed on our way and continued to look for people who needed the hats and gloves we were offering.
What touched me the most, however, was how touched the girls were when visiting with Jordan. They wanted to go back, they couldn't wait to tell everyone else about their new friend, and they wanted to help him in any way they could. "Do you think he'll still be there later? Maybe we can come back and help him." Their enthusiasm was contagious, but most of all their love and concern for those who have much less than them was evident. These are girls who live in a well-to-do part of Washington, in a wealthy area of the suburbs of Seattle. I'm pretty sure visiting with these homeless people changed them, but even more, watching the girls visit brought tears to my eyes. If only all teenage girls could be as caring and openminded as the ones we took into the city that night.

Sometimes your heart just needs to be broken a little in order to see beyond.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm grateful Wednesday

I've been struggling with knowing what to write lately, as well as finding the time to write. If I'm going to be perfectly honest I'm also struggling a little with the depression that comes with the winter. There's nothing sadder than sitting at work, watching it grow darker and darker at 4 pm. Because of all this, I'm going to try a new series that I've entitled I'm grateful Wednesday. Every Wednesday I'm going to list a few things I'm grateful for, in an attempt to keep myself upbeat and, of course, update more often and regularly.

I'm grateful for Raisin Bran cereal. It's so delicious AND healthy, and I can often find coupons for it, which is always a bonus.

I'm grateful that I'm learning more and more at my job, and being given more and more responsibilities.

I'm grateful for the wonderful church family I've discovered at our church. Especially the youth group girls I work with. More on that to come.

I'm grateful that Christmas is coming and we will be able to go away for a little bit and see family, even if it isn't mine!

That's all for day...what are you grateful for?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday blues

It has not been my intention to completely ignore my blog over the past week or so, but I have felt like I've been pulled in so many different directions that simple tasks like planning dinner and cleaning out my email inbox was so overwhelming that my blog was pushed to the side. All around me I have been reading Thanksgiving recaps, seeing people put up trees and Christmas lights and it's overwhelming me. It's stressing me out because I feel like I need to be there too...and I'm not.

If I was to be perfectly honest with you, I would tell you that I'm just not feeling this Christmas season. Due to a combination of non-consumerism and a lack of money, we don't have very many Christmas decorations this year. We have stockings (hung by the fireplace with care, of course) and a table runner, both thanks to my mother-in-law (I do so love when she visits!) and the Christmas tree that Geoff bought his first Christmas out here. I'd love to blame the lack of decorations for my lack of Christmas spirit, but I don't think that's it.

I'm trying to remain upbeat, I really am, but to be honest, I'm missing my regular routines...a regular routine that I haven't had in years. Do you ever wish you could just go back and relive a year again? If I could I would relive 2006. It was the year Geoff and I started dating, the year I started working at the newspaper and the year that I was happy, before my depression set in for the long haul.

It's not 2006, however, it is 2010. It is the year I got married, the year we bought our house, and it's been almost a year since I graduated with my masters. It has been a good year, even if I can't always see it. So this year I'm going to put up our tree, return the phone calls I've been avoiding, enjoy my job and the creativity that I am discovering in finding frugal, yet thoughtful gifts for my friends and family. I'm going to curl up in bed with a warm kitty between my feet and a husband to cuddle with. And I'm going to enjoy it, because one day I'm going to miss the simplicity of my life right now.

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