Friday, November 19, 2010

A Little Break

In case you haven't noticed I've taken just a little break from blogging. The past few weeks have been a little chaotic and there really hasn't been much time to do a lot of blogging. I have a few blog posts in my brain that will eventually be typed out and posted. One of the posts that I am working on is a Christian perspective on racial issues. I guess it's more about my perspective on racial issues and since I happen to be a Christian as well...well you get the idea; it's more about my opinion.

We are in need of some help! This is something that is really hard for me to ask for. Both my husband and I are very independent people and have a hard time asking others for help. We are just a little over halfway to our home study goal. We have $1260 in already and need another $1240 to be able to continue onto the next step in the adoption process.

There are a few ways you can help us out. There are two links off to the right. One is a donate button for those who just wish to donate to us directly. The other button is for our coffee fundraiser. This button will take you directly to our coffee page where you can shop for some fantastic coffee. We get $5 for every bag of coffee that is purchased. I have it on good authority (my dad) that the coffee is excellent. I would like to point out that my father worked for a coffee company for 20+ years, and he thinks it's great coffee. Also, they have really fast shipping.

The other way you can help is if you attend church with us you can donate to the adoption fund that has been set up. This adoption fund is not necessarily just for us, however, we are the only ones right now that are going through the process.

If you can think of other ways you can be of help to us please let us know. Perhaps you would like to donate goods that we can sell, or maybe host a fundraiser. We are open to all kinds of ideas.

Thanks for praying for us!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blessings

Early last week I was a little bit discouraged, $30,000 is such a huge amount of money. I kept thinking about it as the big picture and it just kept getting me down. I will let you in on a secret about myself...I am a worrier. I worry about everything. This past week God has challenged me to give over my worries and fears to Him. One of the verses He brought to mind is:

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you, He will be with you, He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. - Deuteronomy 31:8

After I confessed my sin of worry to the Lord blessings came pouring in! Saturday we received the first donation to our adoption fund. This donation came from a very unexpected source and when I opened up the envelope I cried. The person who gave us this money doesn't have much to give. It was a great sacrifice on their part.

Yesterday we received a rather large donation that we were not expecting. With that donation we are now halfway to paying for our home study, which is $2500. We now have $1250 towards our adoption! Also yesterday it was mentioned to us that our church has set up an Adoption Assistance fund to help with those who need assistance with adoption. This is exciting because it is there to help with anyone in the congregation who has chosen to adopt.

My husband and I are humbled by those who are willing to help us out, whether it be by donation of money or time. The Lord is teaching us so much through this process. I am truly excited to see what else God has in store for us. It is only through Him that all things are possible no matter how small or large they may be!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five Years Ago...

....I married the most wonderful and amazing man. On October 29, 2005 at 2pm in the afternoon I married my best friend. We had met just 9 months previous, started dating 3 months after meeting. He professed his undying love for me just 10 days after we started dating. We were married just under 6 months later.

If you were a guest at our wedding you will recall how short the ceremony was; 10 minutes. I walked down the aisle at 2pm and we walked back up the aisle as Mr. and Mrs. at 2:10pm. If you were just a few minutes late, you missed it :). We had several comments that it was the shortest wedding that one had ever been to.

Since we have been married I have fallen more in love with my husband. We really didn't know each other all that well and it has been a great joy learning and getting to know my husband on a much deeper level. I am truly grateful for my husband and the way he challenges me to grow and to try out new things. Most of all I am grateful to the Lord for allowing such a wonderful man be apart of my life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October is Almost Over

Can you believe it? Where has this month gone? Matter of fact where has 2010 gone? Doesn't it seem that when one gets older time seems to fly by more quickly? October is my most favorite month out of the other 11. (February is my second because it is the coldest, followed by December because of the holidays.) I love the cooler temps, I love pulling out my sweaters and buying new ones. Although this year has been unseasonably warm, I am hoping that means February is unseasonably cold! (You can call me crazy but I LOVE winter and the cold!)

This October has been a busy one for us in the Barker household. There has just been so much going on. Most of it revolves around an upcoming family wedding, I love fall weddings, and an upcoming wedding which I am doing flowers for. I have to say that decorating for weddings in the fall is sooooo much fun! Everything else has been pretty much adoption stuff.

Speaking of adoption stuff, here is a quick update on how things are going. I am stalking bulletin boards reading all about how other people are travelling to get their cute little babies. My husband could have TB (long story) but probably doesn't and the doctors "just want to be sure." We plan on finishing the rest of our initial paperwork tomorrow and send that off. We would like to start our home study before Christmas. I added a "donate" button off to the right of this post, so it's even easier for you to donate to our adoption. Two fundraisers are in the works in addition to the coffee fundraiser...once again the button is to the right of this post. I personally like the coffee fundraiser because you get great coffee and we get $5/bag of coffee sold. Check them out and help us bring home baby Barker. There are also a couple of blog posts in works for raising awareness about international adoption and the costs associated with it as well as some info about the country of South Korea.

Sorry for the rabbit trail....I was talking about October...

Another thing that I love about October is that my husband and I were married in October. Yes coming up on October 29th we will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. I seriously can't believe how fast time flies. In case you were wondering we aren't doing anything for our anniversary, funds are tight right now with the adoption. We might make it out to dinner to Jimmy John's since that seems to be our favorite place to eat right now, probably because it's good and fairly cheap. I know, we are soooo romantic.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one of the best things about October...Halloween CANDY!! I could eat a pound of candy corn if given the opportunity. It's a good thing I am not allowed such opportunity, plus it might be a little bit awkward if I was at someones house and I ate ALL of their candy corn.


What are some of your favorite things about October?

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Fundraiser

Sorry to be talking about adoption all the time, but it just so happens that is what's on my mind. So in an effort not to bore you I will make this post short and right to the point.

We have started our first fundraiser! It's really easy. If you love coffee please hop on over to here or click on the the icon to the right and buy some. We get a portion from the sale of whatever you buy. Seriously, how easy is that?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adoption Update

I am going to try to post an adoption update at least once a week; the key word is try. We got our packet of paperwork from the adoption agency at the beginning of last week. We've already gotten through most of it. We have to submit this round of paperwork for home study. They will review the paperwork and then we can go forward with our home study.

Last Friday we got our fingerprints for our FBI background check. We mailed those off right away because it takes about 8 weeks for the government to pry into our not so sordid past. We also went last week to get our physicals done, we are still waiting for some test results for that to be all completed.

Next up on the list is to finish all the essay questions, we started on it last Saturday, but there are so many and after about an hour my head hurt. We will try and get this completed by the time our test results come back from our physicals. Once we get our paperwork completed we will wait for our background checks to come back as well as attend some parenting classes. I am hoping to schedule our home study for sometime in December, but it will probably be January since we have to pay for the home study before we can schedule it. I don't think that we will have the money until after Christmas.

Speaking of money... I have come up with some fundraising ideas so check back in about a week or so to see how you can help!

I think that is about it for the time being. If you have any questions about the adoption let me know, I'm more than happy to talk about it. Also if you would like to help us out please let me know; any type of help is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A New Adventure: An Announcement

Oh my goodness! Can I just tell you how busy we have been? It's a rhetorical question, I'm gonna tell you whether or not you give me permission. We've been super busy. I suppose I won't go into detail and list off all the things that have made us busy. Not that I'm complaining (okay maybe I am just a little bit) but I am a person who likes to take one thing at a time, get half done and move onto the next thing. Being busy is just not that conducive to me being a procrastinator and being able to read whole books in one weekend.

Remember last month when I said that I would like to lead a more simple life? Well I can tell you right now that simple life will probably never happen. I know by now that most of you think that our (my husband's and mine) big announcement is that I'm probably pregnant, well you would only be partially right. The big announcement is.....we are ADOPTING a child from South Korea! At least we hope to adopt a child from South Korea, we might get swallowed up by all the paperwork to never be heard from again.

We have started the paperwork process and hope to get that completed in the next 2 months. Then we will have a home study where we are asked all kinds of personal questions and someone comes to "inspect" our house(eeek!). After our home study we wait, and then wait a little bit more before a child is referred to us. Then we have to come up with a massive amount of money if we accept the referred child. After we accept the referred child he's ours, only we have to wait some more before we can go and bring him back to the States.

I'm referring to our child as "him" as the child referred to us will most likely be a boy around the age of 9 months when we finally arrive home with him.

There are still many unknowns for us like MONEY. We cannot afford the hefty price tag on our own. We will be applying for grants, doing some fund raisers, praying and probably a little bit of begging and pleading. But I do want all of you to know that both my husband and I feel 100% confident that this what God has in store for us. We know that He will provide the money even though we cannot seem to comprehend how.

We are already praying for our child. We do not know if he is born yet, or if he has even been conceived. We are praying for him, his birth parents and his foster parents. We are praying that he will be healthy and that his birth mom will have a good pregnancy. We are also praying that he will have loving foster parents who will be attentive and see to his needs. We are praying that we might be a testimony to his foster parents when we go to South Korea to meet our little one for the first time.

I plan on sharing more information, especially fund raising info, in near future. In the meantime we would appreciate your prayers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Aha! Ahhh!

So here is some other exciting news! Awhile ago I was asked to film an Aha Moment for the Mutual of Omaha. I was very nervous about going in there and just being a blubbering idiot. It seemed to come out okay although I totally forgot to mention my blog address, that is how the ad agency for the campaign found me, and to mention anything about my faith in Jesus Christ. Yep, I totally blew it on that aspect. I really had good intentions and I kind of played out in my head what I would say. However, when the actually filming began my mind went blank. You can tell in the video where they had to edit out my really long pauses.

I got an e-mail form the ad agency handling the campaign letting me know I was selected for voting. Here is what the e-mail said:

"Congratulations! Your story has been selected as one of the semi-finalists. Your aha moment will appear alongside 74 others where visitors to the site will have the chance to vote for their favorites.

The first round of voting will begin on October 1st and continue through October 15th. After the first round, the top-25 vote getters will win an ipod Nano and move on to the final round of voting, which will begin on October 18th and end on October 31st. Check the website on October 18th to see which moments made the top-25. The top-10 favorite aha moments will be featured in Mutual of Omaha’s 2011 nationwide TV ads, which will begin airing early next year."


Here is the deal, I want you to vote for me. (You can do that here.*) I don't necessarily feel the need to be in the top 10 and be in the commercial because I didn't mention my blog in my video so really not going to build that much traffic to my blog, although you never know. What I really want is to be in the top 25 so that I can win an i-pod to raffle off and put the money from the raffle into our adoption fund. (Doesn't that sound like a good idea? I can't take credit for it, it was my husband's.) Please, please vote for my video. I believe you can only vote once a day, so vote today,then tomorrow and the day after that...


*Their website seems to be having some trouble, just refresh your browser and you should be able to vote.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Russian Remembrance: Nightmare Bathrooms

I have nightmares about bathrooms. This is probably going to sound strange to some people but when I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night I literally have a nightmare about a bathroom of some sort. Last week it was about peeing in a cup at the doctor's office. In my nightmare the bathroom was open to the waiting room and it was a disgusting bathroom, meaning it wasn't clean at all. Most of my bathroom nightmares revolve around the bathroom not being clean.

I think all this has to do with the bathrooms I encountered in Russia and most notably Sevastople, Ukraine. The bathroom at the Panorama Museum of Sevastople is a little building outside the museum. At least I think that was the museum bathroom. I'm not sure because this was out of the way and a good 100 yards from the actual museum. A group of us girls had to go, me being the oldest took charge and found this building. I would like to note that I was the only one who did not speak Russian at the time. I'm not sure why a group of 13 year old Russian girls just followed me blindly to this building.

Upon entering the building it was clear that there was no electricity. There were also no windows. It was also apparent by the smell that it was indeed a bathroom. There were at least 4 open rooms, one straight ahead with another behind it. The room straight ahead had benches and looked kind of like a locker room, at least that is all we could tell from the dim light from the open door. Off to the right was the toilets, well, the holes in the ground where you do your business, not actually toilets. Each hole was separated by a wall, there were no doors. Not that it mattered it was really too dark to see anything.

There was trash everywhere. We were stepping carefully hoping not to trample on anything that moved. Beyond the toilet room there was another room. But it was too dark to tell where that led or what was in it. There was also some movement going on in that room. I would like for you to take this moment and imagine five 13 year old girls and their leader (me) trying to go to the bathroom very quickly before anything came out of that back room to attack us. There was a lot of 13 year girl screams, then a little nervous laughter, then more screams. And to top it all off, we couldn't actually see the holes in the ground where were supposed to go.

I had my camera with me and wanted to use the flash so that I could at least see where were going and to get a picture of the nightmare bathroom. The girls begged me not to, which I'm sure was wise. They did not want to see what was beyond the toilet room. As I type this my heart rate is going up and I am imagining the fear I felt, which was probably greater than the girls since I lead them into this mess and I was farthest away from the outside door. I had actually positioned myself this way just in case something did come out of that other room and I had to be the one to stop it and the girls could get away. Yes, this bathroom was that scary, think horror movie scary.

I was the last one to go, I made sure the girls were done before I went, and before I knew it they had all left me in there ALONE! They all just ran out of there before I could finish, five 13 year old girls running, screaming as they went out of the most terrible bathroom known to man. And they just left me there ALONE! It took me about 10 seconds to run out behind them. I know that I had stepped in, ummm....something really gross. After making it out the front door I took off my shoes and just rubbed them all over the grass trying to get off whatever it was that I stepped in. Then I used an entire bottle of hand sanitizer all over my feet and my hands.

Now you know why I have nightmares about bathrooms.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Overcoming Rejection

I once heard that man's greatest fear is rejection. I don't know if this is true or not, but what I do know is that it is one of my greatest fears. I struggle with this fear everyday. I seriously just want everyone to like me and like everything that I say or do. I know it's kind of ridiculous and unrealistic. Sometimes I will not take a risk becuase the fear of rejection pops up.

Whenever I feel this way the Lord brings Isaiah 41:9,10 to my mind.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its remotest parts
And said to you, 'You are My servant,
I have chosen you and not rejected you.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'

Whatever the situation or circumstance I know that my Father will never reject me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I want a Scooby Doo Band-Aid!

Maybe you've noticed that there hasn't been any posts in the two and half weeks, or maybe you haven't. I wish I could say that I have a good reason, but most of it is just plain old ordinary laziness and procrastination. The other part is I've been a bit under the weather and have been on some pretty powerful drugs. I'm better now, by the way.

Last Saturday evening my husband and I decided that he should probably take me to the emergency room. (I'm not going to tell you why, so don't ask. Let's just say that you don't need to know everything about me and I really don't need/want to tell everyone everything about my life, and I'm sure you would prefer that anyway.) I was in some serious pain and the doctor said I could have some pain medication via the IV port they nurse miraculously got in my arm; I have deep veins that like to hide from nurses with needles. The doctor assured me that it would ease the pain in a matter of minutes. An hour later I was still in pain. I also had significantly less blood as well since the nurse took about 12 vials of blood.

The doctor came in to give me my lab results an hour and a half after the first course of pain meds. He asked me if I was still in pain. YES! After an exam and some signing of paperwork the doctor said I could have two shots of pain meds, but they would take an hour to work, but they're more powerful than the one given by IV and they would last about 12 hours. Umm, yes please.

After another 30 minutes the nurse came in and told us we could go home after she gave me my shots of pain meds. I started to roll up the sleeves on my hospital gown and she looked at me and smiled. She told me to stand up and turn around, these shots go in your bum. What?! Really? Tetanus and hepatitis, and even flu shots go in the arm. Maybe she thought I didn't have enough muscle on my arms to handle such shots, I assured I did. She was not having it.

I got up and asked her if I could at least have a Scooby Doo band-aid like they gave us as kids when we had to get shots in the butt. She thought I was joking, I was serious. I would've settled for Sponge Bob. She wasn't the most gentle and now I have a couple of bruises and I didn't get a cute band-aid :( On the bright side one of the shots was morphine and 20 minutes later I was blissfully unaware of my surroundings.

Monday, August 23, 2010

VACATION!!!...is over :(

Why does time leading up to a vacation seem to s l o w d o w n? And why does the moment you are on vacation time seems to speed up? Sigh, I guess that is something we all have to deal with (unless you are a weird person and you don't take vacations).

We were on vacation last week, in case you hadn't guessed. This year we went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my husband's family; all of the family. There were 10 adults and the one and only grandchild. I'm sure Sean and Cong will remedy that soon, I hope, because we will not be the ones to give that sole grandchild some cousins.

We left last Saturday and spent a week up on the Keweenaw Peninsula. If you are wondering where that is at, it's at the very tip top of Michigan on Lake Superior. The weather was mostly pleasant, although there were a few days that were extremely windy resulting in me having an allergy attack. But don't worry, even though I stayed inside all day on Wednesday I was able to read most of a 600 page book. I didn't feel the least bit guilty for doing nothing all day, I love vacations.

We stayed in a 4 bedroom cabin at Gitche Gumee Bible Camp and enjoyed the services and the food at the camp. You can't go wrong with homemade bread at every meal. My hips and thighs seemed to like the homemade bread a lot, I gained about 4 pounds this year. Last year was worse, I gained 8! My husband's family has been going to this camp for 40+ years, but this was one of the few times the entire family got to go.

I would like to say that we took fabulous pictures and that they are attached to this post. However, I think that you will be disappointed to know we really didn't take that many pictures. I am a terrible picture taker, meaning I just don't take them. My husband is a little better and the 7 pictures that were taken was when he had the camera. Below is the best one of the 7. Isn't it just beautiful? You might also notice a smattering of color in the trees, they were beginning to change into their Autumn hues.



We arrived home on Friday and went to go pick up the dog at the pet hotel. Here she is enjoying some play time with the other dogs. We got her home and she slept for about 12 hours. On Saturday she got up to go outside, came back in and ate some food. She then slept for about another 12 hours. I think she had a good time playing with all the other dogs.



Now it's over and we are back to our jobs and reality, counting down the days till our next vacation. At least Labor Day is just two weeks away!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Simple Life

I have decided I hate being busy. I am not one of those types of people that has to be involved in a lot of different things, going this way and that way all the time. I always wonder how it is that people that seem to always be occupied with an activity never get exhausted. Or, maybe they do get exhausted and I just never observe them in that state.

I used to be that type of person, you know the busy one. I started to become the busy type when I was in my junior year of high school. I was home schooled and by that time in my high school career I really had finished up most of the requirements for graduation. I had just 3 classes left to do; Science and English for my junior year and then just another year of English for my senior year. I also took 4 different music classes at the local high school. I started working full time as well hanging out more with my friends in the evening. I was busy to say the least, but I enjoyed it. I think this was because of my new found freedom of being 16. I was able to pretty much go where ever I wanted as long as I was home by midnight (even on school nights) and I told my parents where I was going and whom I was going to be with. My senior year was pretty much the same.

When I got to college I started out by working 32 hours a week as well as taking 21, yes 21, credit hours. As a requirement of my major (voice) I also had to practice voice 10 hours a week. Plus there was the social aspect of college as well. It is no wonder that by the end of my freshman year I was exhausted. And I don't mean just tired all the time, which I was, but there were days when I literally could not get out of bed because my body would not let me. I had to learn to scale back and not be as busy. My sophomore year was more manageable with only working 25 hours a week and taking 12 credit hours.

After my sophomore year I did not return to college. I really just wanted to work for awhile and since I am prone to being a workaholic this worked out well for me. I ended up working three jobs, one full and two part time. You would think that I had learned my lesson from college, but I did not. It wasn't too long before I was just exhausted.

When I went to Russia I decided that I would make it a point to take one day off a week. When you are in full time ministry this is actually something that is hard to do. But I was determined. I figured I would be better used if I wasn't exhausted all the time. Every Saturday I unplugged the phone, slept till noon, and generally did nothing most of the day. This really spared me from getting too exhausted.

I should probably note that when I get exhausted I'm not just tired, I literally cannot stand or sometimes even sit up. If I do attempt this I will half faint, I know it sounds kind of silly but a doctor did tell me that is what it is called. Half fainting is like fainting only one does not lose consciousness. I kind of think it would be better to all the way faint because then I wouldn't feel myself hit the floor, because that is not fun. I think the record so far for me half fainting in one morning was 14 times. I know you are gasping right now. I assure you that after about the 10th time it was kind of comical.

I tell you all this because this year has been busy, very busy. I also have been reflecting more lately and have come to the conclusion that I want a more simple life. I do not want to be doing things, going here and there, just for the sake of doing them. I also do not want to be doing things just because I cannot say no (which I really have a hard time doing sometimes). I have decided that I like things simple. I like going home to my house after a day of work (at one job) and sitting down to dinner with my husband. I like putting on my pj's the moment I get home in the evening. On Saturdays I like sleeping in and not doing anything. I like to sit on Saturday mornings and sip my coffee while reading a book. As I have gotten older I have discovered my limits, both physical and emotional.

I have now decided to start a journey of leading a more simple less hectic life. I'm not sure what that will look like. I know that I want to get rid of some things within our home we really have no need for. We have 25 boxes of stuff that we packed up when we thought we would be buying a new house. That was a year ago and we have yet to really need anything out of those boxes. As I continue along this journey I will be sharing more about leading a more simple life.

What do you think? Are you leading a busy hectic life? Or do you think that I am crazy for wanting a less busy life? You can be honest and tell me I'm crazy. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No Time to Write - Love is in the Air

In case you haven't noticed I really haven't posted much in the past week. This is because of this happy couple:



This is my brother-in-law Sean and his lovely wife Cong. They are celebrating their wedding on Saturday and there has been a flurry of activity going on in preperation for it. This picture is from the day they actually got married. They had to get married a little bit sooner than anticipated due to visa issues for Cong. This Saturday is when they were supposed to get married. Now we are celebrating what has already transpired. I will do a full post on the wedding, including pictures (if I remember to take any), in the next week or so.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Tips on Buying and Selling on Craigslist

So this is more about personal experience with Craigslist, not necessarily something that will help you navigate/buy/sell on Craigslist. (I really cannot offer any advice on that terrible ugly dining room table that has been in your family for generations and that you want to get rid of now that grandma is gone. The only advice I can offer about that is: take low quality pictures and the first person to call about it get their address and just drop off in their lawn in the middle of the night, then it can be their ugly dining room table and not yours.) After our experience last night with a treadmill and combined with some of our friends experiences I thought a post might be necessary.

Tips for buyers:

Have patience, just because the person you are buying from is not at their house 30 minutes before their scheduled time to meet you doesn't mean you should call them every 5 minutes until they show up.

Don't expect a money back guarantee. You bought it, you exchanged cash for an object, you generally cannot get your money back. If you want to try and get your money back don't show up at the sellers house asking for your money back without the object in hand, seriously!

Be leery of going into certain neighborhoods after dark. If you must go and look at, let's say, a treadmill after 10pm be sure to have someone else with you, preferably a male with some martial arts training (like my husband).

Tips for sellers:

Don't give out too much personal information on the phone, some people might just be wanting to steal your stuff. If it's an item that you can take with you meet the buyer in a very open and public place.

Be accurate in your information. If you aren't sure of all the details of the object that you are selling, look them up before you post.

Don't smoke pot right before someone is supposed to come over to your place to look at...ummm... let's say a treadmill.

Have the right tools on hand so that you are able to take apart a treadmill, for example, to fit through the door. It's best that your buyers aren't waiting around in your pot smoke filled living room while you search for an allen wrench.

Don't have people come over to buy your stuff after 10om if you live in bad neighborhood. The drug deals that take place two doors down from you just might deter them from buying your treadmill. (But not us, because by golly we were not going to travel to a terrible neighborhood, risk our lives or money, and not have anything to show for it.)

These are just a few tips, not all of them happened to us. By the way we bought a treadmill last night, can't wait to use it. Although it does need a good scrubbing, kind of smells like pot....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quest for the Dress

It is the year for weddings in my husband's family. His oldest sister is getting married in November and his younger brother is getting hitched in just a few weeks. I have been to the bridal store quite a few times in the past two months helping the bride-to-be's pick out wedding dresses. That got me thinking about my own quest for a dress. Here is what I wrote about my experience five years ago when I was looking for a wedding dress of my own.

I do want to put a disclaimer on this post that this was my experience, if you had a wonderful wedding dress shopping experience than that's wonderful!

I actually started looking at wedding dresses before Michael proposed to me. I thought that it would be a good idea to go and look at them and see what was out there. This lead to frustration. I didn't want to try on a dress before I had a ring on my finger in fear that somehow he would change his mind and not want to marry me so I didn't want to start trying on dresses because that would be "buying the cart before the horse." I went to bridal shops and boutiques around the greater Des Moines area. To my disappointment there are not many around here. I could, if I wanted to, drive all over to the numerous small towns outside of the Des Moines area. I started wondering how women got married in this state, there is nothing out here. I was also very frustrated over the price of these gowns. I would find one that I liked and then I would look at the price tag: $1200!! You've got to be kidding? It's a dress that you will wear once for about 4 hours and never wear again.

This is what would normally happen when I would walk into a shop or boutique. I would walk in and take off my shoes (you have to take off your shoes at small bridal shops, don't ask me why.). I would then start to peruse the dresses. By this time very pushy sales women who weren't married would start asking me a whole bunch of questions. I would politely tell them that I was just looking. Then they would walk away for about 5 minutes. They would come back and ask me what style of dress I was looking for. I would respond by saying: "Something with sleeves and no beads. Also if its under $200 that would be great." They would look at me and stare at me for a few seconds before replying. I knew that they were thinking: "this girl is crazy". They would point to a rack at the back of the store, they would never help me or walk me to the rack; they would just point. I would walk to the back of the store where I was greeted by really hideous, awful looking dresses that were left overs from 1987. Most of them had big poofy sleeves and lots and lots of beads. While I wanted sleeves on my dress, I didn't want poof nor did I want beads, but all of these dresses were in the price range I had inquired about of the sales girl.

I would also get unsolicited advice about how my wedding should be, not my wedding dress, my wedding. At one shop after I had told one of them what I wanted my dress to look like she told me that I shouldn't put so many expectations on the dress. I should try on the strapless ones too and have a more open mind. This led into a whole talking to about how weddings will never turn out how we expect them to be and how I should just spend those few extra dollars to make my wedding the most important day of my life. I told her that while a wedding is an important day it will not be the most important day of my life. She stood back with a look of horror on her face. While I understood that I should have a more open mind I know what I am comfortable with and a strapless dress is not one of them.

At another shop I was looking around and one of them (sales woman) was trying to force a strapless dress on me. I was so tired of wedding shop clerks forcing the ever popular strapless dress on me that I said to her: "Why would anyone want to look like a slut on their wedding day is beyond me. A wedding isn't the celebration of what the bride looks like, but that she has abstained from sex and that two people are coming together in a union that was ordained by God. I don't want a strapless dress, I don't want everyone looking at my breasts, they are not there for everyone else, they are there for my husband!"* With that she backed off. I was really frustrated with her and everyone else trying to persuade me into something that I was not going to wear. After that experience I decided that I was should stop looking for awhile. I quit for about 2 weeks, in that 2 weeks Michael did propose to me and then I had a ring on my finger, it's a beautiful ring by the way.

One day I got an e-mail from one bridal store announcing their annual $99 sale. I was actually excited about this, even though I hate this store because its huge even though there is a lot of selection, but with a larger store there are more of those pushy sales ladies who aren't married. So I enlisted the help of two of my friends here in Des Moines and we came up with a game plan. The plan was to get in and get out. The store opened up at 10am on Saturday. Michael, who had been in Washington DC all week was coming in and was expected to be home around 11am. I really wanted to see him, but I wanted a dress so I set a really strict time frame. Besides you can't stay too long at those stores because you can get overwhelmed very quickly. My plan was to be done by 12pm.

Brenna, Angela and I met at 9:30am and drove to the other side of town. We arrived at the store and already there were a lot of people looking at dresses. We started looking at dresses, we found a few that I wanted to try on. So we went to go put them in a fitting room, we were greeted by one of the them. She told us that I needed to register with them to try anything on. So I went, not too happily, to "register". I had to give my name, address, phone number and date of wedding. We didn't have a date set yet so I didn't put one down. I also didn't include my phone number. They immediately asked me about my phone number. I told them that I might give them my number if I bought a dress but I wasn't making any promises. I didn't want one of them to call my cell phone in the middle of the day and waste my precious minutes. They never asked about the date. I went into the room with 4 options; 3 of them fit my criteria, one them didn't because Angela wanted me to try on a strapless dress just for fun. So I put on the first one. It fit and was beautiful. I came out of the fitting room and Brenna zipped me up. I stood on the little step and then did numerous spins for Brenna and Angela. Then Angela went to find me a veil to try on with the dress. While she was doing this one of them came over to see how I was doing. She told me that the dress would need alterations and that they could do that for me. I told her that it just needed to be let out a little through the waist and that it wouldn't take much to do that. She told me that it was a very complicated process and that they would be happy to do alterations there at the store, for a fee of course. I asked her if she knew how to sew, she told me no. I assured her it wouldn't be that complicated and that I would find someone to do it for me, like my mother. She also told me that I could get 15% off of the veil. I looked at the price of the veil $70!!! No way I could make one for $15 that looked exactly like the one that she was holding. Thankfully it was busy and she had to rush off to someone else who was spending more money than me. I had found my dress!

I went back into the fitting room and tried on the other dresses, they didn't "feel" right. I got dressed again and got my dress and went to go pay. At the cash register the woman checking me out started to ask me if I needed this or that. I told her all that I wanted was my dress, that's all. She then asked me what my wedding colors were. I started to say white, black and dark red, but I got out white before she started talking to another one of them. She then said to me that that was nice and she liked those colors. I only mentioned one. She then told me that she has been a bridesmaid 22 times. It actually re-enforced my suspicions of them, they are actually never married women who live vicariously through others in a business that can be ruthless, thus making them rather pushy. I paid $115; $99 for the dress and then $10 for the heavy duty garment bag, $5 for tax. I made it over to Michael's by 11:30am.


Did you have a similar dress experience? Did you know it was "the one" the moment you put it on?

*I also want to note that while I will probably never ever wear strapless you may feel very comfortable in a strapless dress. If you do happen to wear a strapless dress while in my presence I am not thinking that you are a slut; I did say this to a sales woman out of frustration and if I had to do over again I probably wouldn't have said it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Random Russian Remembrance

The hallways are filled with music. Children of all ages are singing as loud as they possibly can. It's about 11am and almost time for lunch. Their chapel is just after our chapel and for some reason they sing much louder than the children in our chapel. In this school there are actually two schools; one American and one Russian. I happen to lead music for the American school chapel hour, and yet I cannot get our children to sing as loud as the Russians. They are full of energy, perhaps this is due to having to sit still all morning in class, now they are able to move about and release some energy. The school I teach at is mostly made up of missionary children from Korea, there are a few Americans, a few Germans, a few Indians, a few Japanese, but mostly Korean. I pause at the chapel/gym/choir room/band room/classroom doors. I look inside and I see happy faces of about 35 Russian children. They are singing in English, or at least trying to. Their music leader for the day is Sam, he is a single man. He is tall with blonde hair and brown eyes, I think he is about 40. I think he is originally from California, but is a bit of a free spirit and moves around a lot. I'm in love with him, as is every other single female teacher in both schools.

A boy of about 12 steps out to take a phone call. He is wearing navy blue dress pants that are fraying at the hem. His brightly colored knit sweater has a few holes in it. In Russian I hear him say: "Grandma, you can't call me at this time I'm at school." I hear her voice on the other end of the line, but can't make out what she is saying. "I know, I'll come by and bring you some food and make you dinner after school." He pauses again to listen. "I love you too grandma." He hangs up his phone and puts into his pocket, he pauses and takes a deep breath. I see a little glisten of wetness in his eyes. I realize that this child is probably the only one who takes care of his grandmother. I imagine that after school he will go to the local market and pick up some tomatoes, cheese and brown bread. He may stop in at the butcher and pick up some sort of meat. I imagine him going into a dark building with no lights on in the hallway and climbing up five flights of stairs because the elevator has not worked in about 30 years. I imagine him pulling out his key and unlocking the steal door that provides some security for his grandmother's apartment. I imagine him entering a 300 sq. foot apartment with a small kitchen, a small wash room, and a room that is for both living and sleeping. I imagine him cooking a delicious meal for his grandmother and after they have eaten he finishes up his homework. Such is the life of many people in Russia, they bear one another's burdens and mostly without complaint. The boy goes back into the room and joins the other children in singing this American worship song: "Forever God is faithful, Forever God is strong, Forever God is with us, Forever, Forever..."

Yesterday Chris Tomlin's song Forever came on the radio and this lead to a Random Russian Remembrance.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I've Rediscovered the Library

When I was a child my mom would take me and my sisters to the library all the time. Our local library was within walking distance and sometimes we would all take our bikes, sometimes we would walk or, if we were in a hurry, we would drive. I knew our local library like the back of my hand. I remember going to the library for everything. If we needed to write a research paper, we went to the library. If we needed a good book to read during the summer months, we went to the library. If we needed to use a computer to type up said research paper, we went to the library. The library had so many interesting things in it. There were so many books to explore, not just fiction but also non-fiction. When I was in high school I would often stop at the library on my walk home from my choir classes at the local high school. (I was home-schooled in high school but took music classes through our local high school.) I could spend countless hours in the library just hanging out and reading. Then I discovered Barnes & Noble.

I don't know why I decided that buying books was more fun than just borrowing books for free. But by the time I was a senior in high school I was working a full-time job and had the money to buy the books I wanted to read. Over the years I kept going to the book store to buy books. The book store was just as interesting as the library, but I could keep the books and never return them. You know what's funny? I very rarely read the same book twice. There are only a handful of books that I've read twice and most of them were checked out from the library. For approximately 15 years I've supported my book addiction by purchasing books. You know what that gets you? A lot of books that I will probably never read ever again.

Last August my husband and I wanted to get our house on the market to sell. We decided to par down on our books. We donated about 4 large boxes of books. Now that we have lived without those books for almost a year, I don't miss them. I have decided I'm not going to buy books anymore, okay maybe I'll buy a few but only if they are used ones off Amazon. Since this declaration I have started to go to the library more frequently. I have to admit that the library in our neighborhood is no where near the size of the one that was close to the home I grew up in. The Central library downtown isn't as big either :( but it's library either way and I get to check out books for FREE!

Do you have any fond memories of your local library?

Monday, July 12, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog?

To blog or not to blog? I was faced with this question this past weekend at the Savvy Blogging Summit in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado. I was there with about 65 other bloggers; 65 other bloggers that, whom I think, have better blogs than I do. At the beginning of the weekend I was ready to throw in the towel. I went through the sessions thinking there is no way I can devote this much time, or get my blog to same level as the other bloggers at the Summit. I was kind of had that "whoa is me" type attitude. I was comparing myself to others. You want to hear something kind of ironic? I prayed to be invited to this summit. Guess what? The Lord answered that prayer. Yet here I was wishing that I could just go home and cry on my husband's shoulder. I was lamenting some of this to one of the women I was rooming with at the resort. She just asked me one question: "Do you want to write?" The answer is yes! After she asked me that I started the next day with a new attitude. All of the sudden I thought: "I can do this, with the Lord's help." I may not be as a successful blogger as some of the other women (and 3 men) there, but I can at least give it a try.

I now have more focus, I don't seem to be floundering around trying to figure things out on my own. I now have the knowledge and tools to take the next step. As I said in my previous post I plan on making some changes to the blog. I would like to focus more on stories about our lives without a television, since that is the intent of the blog. I will continue to write a little bit about being frugal, some granola tips as well keep the Random Russian Remembrance series going. I plan on keeping up on posts so that only a few days lapse between posts and not a few weeks or months. I would like my following to grow and so I will be putting my blog "out there" a little bit more. There are plans for a new design and a new domain, but that will take a little bit of time. Over the next few months I will be implementing these changes. I hope that all of you are as excited for the changes as I am, and I really hope that you like them. Thanks for your patience with me as I travel along this blogging journey.

Kimberly

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Savvy Blogging

I just got back from the Savvy Blogging Summit in Breckenridge, Colorado. For a newbie blogger like me it was a fantastic way to meet other bloggers and see what they are doing in their own blog. I was able to get a little bit more focused with what the vision is for my blog as well as where I would like my blog to be in the next 6 months, as well as where I would like it to be in the next few years. For the 10 of you that actually read my blog there will be some changes over the next few months. You will see a switch to a different platform. You will also see a new design, it will be a lot prettier :). You will also notice more posts (hopefully) with better content as I have been pretty lax in my posting and content. Thank you in advance for your patience and I am excited to take my blog to a new level.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I ♥ Holidays

Yesterday was the 4th and normal people go and watch fireworks and go to bbq's on the 4th. You know what my husband and I did? We went and saw a movie in the afternoon and then went home and read until about 10pm and went to bed. We kept all the windows closed last night and left the air on even though it was a cool evening. We didn't want our slumber to be bothered by all the illegal fireworks being set off. This morning we got up at 7:30am and really have done nothing all day and really don't plan on doing anything all day. We did go for a 2 mile walk this morning with the dog and let me tell you no one was out and about. As I sit here and type there is still not a whole lot of activity in our neighborhood. I assume everyone was up late shooting off fireworks while we blissfully slept.

There are a couple of things that I need to get done today. One of them is this, blogging. In case you hadn't noticed I took a four week hiatus. It wasn't an intentional hiatus, time just gets away from me. I have this problem of not really keeping track of how much time has passed and what seems like just a few days for me really has been a month. This personality flaw actually drives my boss crazy, if I was my boss it would probably drive me crazy too. The other things that I need to get done revolves around the blogging summit that I am attending in a few days. There seems to be quite a bit of homework. I actually haven't done any homework for anything in about 12 years. Unless you count my Russian language classes, which I don't because that was out of necessity; I needed that skill to survive and to stop telling people I was naked when I was really hungry (they are very similar words in Russian). So now I must force myself to do something that I haven't done in a long time. I'm sure that I will of course wait until the last minute to do this homework, like when I'm on the plane. Hmmm....that seems like a good time to do it, maybe I'll just procrastinate wait until then. I will be updating my blog before and maybe during the summit. There will probably be a lot of changes to the blog after the summit, because I'll be trying out some new things that I've learned. For now I am going to continue what I set out to do today, which is not much.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How We Met

I often get asked how my husband and I met. This question is usually after I let people know that I am a Colorado native. It is usually asked with a "why in the world would you move to Iowa?" type attitude. (I often ask myself that same question.) Here is the story of how my husband and I met.

I arrived back in the States, after living in Russia for a year and a half, in June of 2004. I moved in with my parents and really hadn't figured out what I was going to do. I think the ultimate goal was to move back to Russia, so I just took a retail job and I started saving some money to move back. In September of that year my sister called me and told me that her husband was going to be transferred back to Colorado. She wanted to know if I would come and live in the house that they just purchased. This house just happened to be located in Des Moines, Iowa. They didn't want to sell the house just yet because they needed to build up some equity. I said sure, but I would need a job. She said that I could have hers. Hmmm...I'm thinking the Lord was at work here...

I moved to Des Moines, Iowa on November 1, 2004. I still had the intention of moving back to Russia in about a year or so. My plan was to live in my sister's house while they built up some equity and then they could sell it in a year and I would move back to St. Petersburg. My sister and her husband moved back to Colorado right after Thanksgiving and I was living alone in a new city. This might scare most people but I really like moving around and meeting new people, life is more fun that way. I started attending a church that was about a mile from my new home at the beginning of 2005. On January 23, 2005 I met my husband for the first time. I had actually seen him singing in the choir and I honestly had the thought: "He's kind of cute, but he's probably married." He came over and introduced himself to me and sat next to me during that particular Sunday school class. We chatted for a few minutes and that was the end of the conversation. The next time we talked wasn't until the middle of February when the singles group went on a ski trip. By this time I had my eye on him and thought that maybe some day in the future we could get to know each other a little better. I really had no intention of dating him, I just wanted to get to know him better. During that ski trip I got to visit a good friend of mine from back home. I told her all about him, but didn't really want to make a mountain out of a molehill and pursue a relationship with him. I should also mention that at this point in time I had sworn off dating for a year. I really didn't want to get involved with anybody when I was just going to go back to Russia. After the February ski trip we started talking to each other a bit more, but it was always with a group.

The week before Easter there was a knock at my door. It was 12am and I was already in bed and asleep. I didn't get up. Then the motion light at the front door kept going on and off. I was a little bit nervous. I called the only person I knew that would be up: my soon to be husband. After an awkward conversation with his housemate, whom I hadn't met, I finally talked to my soon to be. I explained the situation to him and he came right over and took a look around. There was no one out there.

Easter Sunday came and I thought that it would be a good idea to have some of my new friends over to watch a movie. I hadn't had anyone over since I moved there. Everyone came over including my soon to be. While everyone wanted a tour of the house he just sat on the couch and really didn't talk to me at all. I was kind of disappointed. But I soon got over it because I reminded myself that I had sworn off dating. Later on he told me that he didn't want it to look like he was too interested in me, because he really was.

On April 24th my soon to be and I had a long conversation. I'm not entirely sure what the conversation was about, but he did tell me that he "wouldn't be opposed to dating me." I still really don't know what he meant by that. Whenever I ask him he just says: "Why does it matter, it got the job done, didn't it?" A couple of days later we went out to see a movie. There is still some speculation as to whether or not this was our first date, but he did pay for me and it was just two of us...(he doesn't think it was a date) On April 29th it was official, we decided that we would start dating and see where that led us.

Now is where you will have to fasten your seat belt, it's a fast ride...

After we decided that we were going to start dating we spent every moment we could together. On May 8th he told me that he loved me and that he would do anything for me, he also said that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. If you are counting that was 10 days after we started dating. While this wasn't exactly a marriage proposal, it was him letting me know that he planned on marrying me. A few days later I agreed that I too wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. During that conversation he told me that he wasn't sure what kind of ring I would like and if I would be willing to pick out my own ring. I asked how much I could spend, he told me, then I really had fun picking out my own ring. We aren't really romantics and I really hate surprises so this worked out well for us. I officially got my ring on June 20th. I would've gotten it sooner, but there were several things that were going on in our lives at that time and that's when we finally got around to getting the ring. We were married on October 29, 2005. I wanted to get married in September, but due to people being out of town and other things going on we had to get married in late October.

While I don't absolutely love Iowa, I do absolutely love my husband. He is a sweet, wonderful man, and I'm glad that we get to share our lives together.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

List

I must apologize for not posting for the past couple of weeks. I have found that since not having a television that we are more busy. Huh, who would've thought that? I kind of thought that life would slow down and we would be sitting there staring at each other wondering what we should do with ourselves. Not that I couldn't just sit hours on end staring at my husband, he is rather dashing, but there are more productive things I could be doing.

A couple of weeks ago I asked my boss if I could have Friday May 28th off. He looked at me and said: "Why would you need a day off?" I couldn't tell if he was joking or if he was serious. Either way I still begged to have it off. I got it off and was super excited to have a four day weekend. I began making a list of all the things that I would accomplish this past weekend. Here is that list:

1. Clean the house top to bottom.
2. Vacuum all the furniture
3. Sand down the deck
4. Stain and paint the deck
5. Cut down all the "mini" trees in the back yard
6. Wash all the bedding and prepare the guest rooms for my family, who are coming this weekend for a visit
7. Make cakes and treats for my husband's 30th birthday party this coming Saturday
8. Prepare some meals to freeze and eat later when I don't feel like cooking (which is all the time)
9. Run to various stores and get things in preparation for this weekend
10. Get my haircut
11. Go to 3 different cookouts
12. Create several blog posts to post when I don't have much time to write one

So that's kind of a long list. Guess how much of it got done. Well...I did manage to get my haircut and we went to the cookouts, oh and some of number 5 and 9 got done. I'm not really sure what happened to the rest of the list. I didn't just sit around and do nothing all weekend. Matter of fact I was kind of exhausted come Monday night. Since my list didn't get done at all I actually have to do most of it tonight, because my family arrives tomorrow and I am sure they would like a nice place to sleep. I might be up a little bit late tonight. Now would be a good time to let you in on a little secret about myself. I love lists and making lists, but I very rarely accomplish everything on my list. If I don't accomplish everything on my list I make a new list and the cycle continues. Now I'm off to make a list of things I am going to get done tonight...sigh...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Russian Remembrance

Most of my readers know this, there are probably a few of you out there who don't, but I used to make frequent trips to Russia in my early twenties. I also lived there for a year and half about 7 years ago. Oft times I will be going about my day when a random memory of my time there pops into my head. Because I really wasn't all that consistent in keeping a journal of my experiences there I thought it might be a good idea to blog when I have a random Russian remembrance. Here is one that I had recently:

A friend of mine from India who was temporarily working in St. Petersburg had a really nice apartment in the center of the city. He also had a satellite dish which meant that he could get 4, yes 4, channels in English! That is very exciting to someone who liked to watch countless hours of television. The channels were BBC News, a sports channel (wasn't ESPN, I didn't spend anytime watching it), CNN World, Cartoon Network/TCM. Cartoon Network was on from 9am to 9pm and Turner Classic Movies was on from 9pm to 9am. I would find ways to just pop in and watch television. I even offered to cook him dinner just so I could watch his T.V. The channel I watched the most of, besides the news, was Cartoon Network. The shows that just happened to be on in the evenings was Samurai Jack and Teen Titans. If you haven't seen Samurai Jack you are soooo missing out on a clever cartoon. Watching Teen Titans prepared me to be able to carry on a conversation with my husband about, well, the Teen Titans. And for those of you who don't know my husband he is a major comic book nerd. (By the way in case you didn't know the Teen Titans are superheros, I won't tell anyone that you didn't know that, although I don't think most people do.) One day about a year after I had moved back to the States I was watching the Teen Titans and my husband, who was not my husband at that time, came over and noticed I was watching Teen Titans. He told me the other day that he feel even more in love with me that day.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whew!

This past weekend was a very busy one. There was a baby shower, a birthday party, a meeting of new family, a bible study, church, new furniture, getting a dog run half set up, a movie, and wedding cake tasting. That last one (the cake) kind of was today, Monday, but it just seemed fitting to tack onto a busy weekend. Tomorrow evening we just have to finish up the dog run and I need to plant some flowers, other than that we don't plan on doing a whole lot. I am excited for this coming weekend, we don't have anything planned, not that I am complaining about how busy we were, just stating that we were busy. I enjoyed all the things we did this weekend, my favorites are a toss up between the new furniture and the wedding cake tasting, yummmmm.....Now I am off to bed and thus ending this very short post. But don't worry I'll be back tomorrow, or Wednesday with a post that I've been thinking about for a few days.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Weekly...er...Monthly(?) Granola

Sorry that I haven't been posting my "Weekly Granola" series. Once again I have all these posts in my head, but they never seem to make it onto the blog. So here is a little bit of granola for you.

Two years ago my husband thought that it would be a good idea that we got a lawn mower of our own. He had be borrowing his brother's lawn mower for the previous 5 years. The more frugal side of me came out and I thought that it would be a great idea to get a push mower with the blades that spin when you push it. We used to have one of these at the house I grew up in. It worked just fine while mowing until a stick got caught in it and then you ran into the thing and just about broke a rib. I did remember those painful experiences while mowing the lawn as a kid, but I figured since it was my husband that would be mowing the lawn we could get one. The idea was vetoed pretty quick. Instead I bought the cheapest motorized lawn mower I could find. When my husband went to put it together the screws that came with it wouldn't fit in the pre-drilled holes. We finally figured out that they sent American screws when the holes were drilled for metric screws. He finally got it put together with the help of some zip ties and a hammer. For two years my husband mowed the lawn with a mower that had a wobbly wheel and a loose handle. After every mow my husband came into the house smelling like he had just took a bath in gasoline. Yeah, this mower was pretty bad. Last week the cheap little red mower bit the dust, I was actually surprised it had made it this long. I told my husband that we could splurge a little bit and get a better mower, one that would start (hopefully) and wouldn't make my poor husband high from fumes. We went to the store and looked around. I picked one out that I thought would be decent. When I turned around my husband wasn't behind me. He got distracted by a mower that I totally thought he would not be interested in. My husband, who doesn't have a single granola bone in his body, picked out an electric mower. His comment to me was: "I don't want to smell like gas and I want the darn thing to start." I still secretly think that the push mower with the blades, I think it's called a reel mower, would've been the best option, but this one will do.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Big Decisions

This past Tuesday a guy in my office brought in some foster pups that he was helping the local shelter with. Me being the animal lover that I am immediately fell in love with the puppies. I took a picture and sent it to my husband, whom mysteriously did not reply. I started asking my co-worker all kinds of questions about the puppies and found out that the mother was staying with him as well. I went home after work and told my husband about them. I also asked if we could go see them. For some odd reason he agreed. My husband really hasn't ever had a dog before although he said that he has always wanted one. The next evening we went and visited 4 Siberian husky puppies and 1 mother. The mother came right up to us and just kept coming back. The puppies could've cared less about us, they were content with wrestling with each other and stealing each other's toys. After about 30 minutes of debating and conversing we decided that we would get at least one of them. We really hadn't decided at that point whether or not we would get a puppy or the mom. We filled out an "application" and told my co-worker we would get back to him about which one we wanted. So without further adieu I introduce to you...Nissa the sweetest Siberian husky around.



We went with the mom.



Isn't she just beautiful?



Here she is being put in her place by Walker, the bully.



We are excited to have her apart of our family. (Please disregard our very overgrown backyard.)


Another decision that we made on Wednesday evening was that we plan on taking our house off the market. So if you are one of the many people praying that it sells you can stop now and thank you for praying for us while we went through the process of trying to sell it. It won't officially go off the market until Monday, but we don't anticipate any offers between now and then. One of the reasons we decided to take it off was that I feel that the Lord is teaching us to be content with the things we have. Also He has blessed us tremendously with this house. We have a good fixed rate on our mortgage, we have a decent amount of equity. We have a ton of space and because of our low mortgage payments we can afford to fix it up the way we want. I know you are thinking: "Why in the world did they want to sell it in the first place?" The answer is: YARD WORK! We abhor it. My husband more so than me. We have hired some people to trim our massive tree in the back yard and remove a 10 year old wood pile that seems to have grown. After that we are hiring someone to come and put in a new fence for our new dog. Then maybe we will like our yard a little bit better...maybe. Then again I could just hire someone to do all our yard workl...hmmm...that might be an option...

Monday, April 26, 2010

T.V. Update

My husband reminded me the other day that my blog is actually about our lives without television. He seems to think that my posts really haven't been about that. Hmmm...I gently, okay bluntly, reminded him that it's my blog and I can blog about whatever I want. But it did get me thinking that I should probably update on what our lives have been like since giving up the T.V. three months ago. I find myself making dinner more often. We also sit down to dinner and look at each other and open our mouths and converse. I know it's weird. We used to just eat our dinner in front of the T.V. and never really talked to each other. We read more. We went out and got library cards and actually check books out. Although sometimes I have a hard time returning books in a timely manner. We also find that we hang out more with friends or do more things at church. After the first couple of weeks it just kind of seemed like we had always lived this way.

There are times when I feel a little bit out of the loop on things, but that's not neccesarily a bad thing. I totally missed out on the 24/7 coverage of Tiger Woods. It was a few days into the whole ordeal before I knew what was going on. Then becuase I wasn't reminded of it every minute of the day I forgot about it. I figure if something happens that I need to know about someone will be talking about it and I can make the choice as to whether or not I want to look it up on the internet. I do scan the headlines every couple of days to make sure that I don't miss anything important. I've also felt sheltered from all things political. For those of you who know me real well know that I am kind of a political junkie. But it's kind of been nice not having propoganda being spewed at me left and right. Sometimes I get: "Hey have you seen...? Oh wait no you haven't, you don't have a T.V., nevermind." It's kind of funny. My co-workers still don't understand how we could possibly live without television. Well we are still breathing, we have survived this far.

There are three positive things that I've noticed since giving up the television, there are actually many more but I think these are the most important. One thing is that I have time to concentrate on living more healthy. I can spend time researching exercise equipment, food and just living a more healthy lifestyle. Another positive is my husband and I communicate significanlty more. We did communicate before when we had a T.V. but no where near the level that we are now. We talk to each other during dinner and afterwards. Sometimes we just sit down and talk. We never seem to run out of things to say. Our improved communication has also lead us to a more fufilling spiritual life, which is the third positive. We find that our topics of disscussion revolve around God. We talk about the bible, or we talk about what we are studying in our bible study groups. I feel that since we have given up the T.V. we have drawn closer to God, and I think because of that it was more than worth it to give up the television.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Bit of Randomness

I realized this morning that it has been awhile since I have posted. I have actually been working on a post in my head, but it is not quite finished. Of course by the time I actually go to write it I won't remember anything that I was going to say. In the meantime here is a bunch on random things that have been going on.

Weight loss

This has been on my mind lately and I have been diligently keeping track of what I eat and making more of effort to exercise. This morning I had a very strange thought as I was getting ready for work. Usually in the mornings I am not thinking about a lot of things so this really surprised me when I thought it: "I can't wait to get home tonight so I can work out." What? Where did that thought come from? I was so surprised by it. I have been going through a boot camp dvd and I am ready to go onto the next level, obviously it is kind of fun otherwise I wouldn't be looking forward to it. I have never looked forward to exercise. I'm not sure what is wrong with me. It could be that I have been praying diligently that the Lord would give me motivation and the will power to exercise more and eat the right foods. Hmmm... seems to be working.

Speaking of weight loss, last night I lamented to my husband that I have a muffin top, to which he replied: "I like muffins, I also like muffin tops too, they are just as good as the rest of the muffins." My husband really makes me laugh. I'm sure that it's not as funny when you are reading as it was at that moment, but just take away from this little story that I really appreciate my husband and that I like the fact that he makes me laugh.

Savvy Blogging

I received an e-mail last week letting me know that I was invited to the Savvy Blogging Summit in July in my beautiful native state of Colorado. This particular summit is limited to 60 people and you had to submit an application. They did not, however, check out your blog, which is a good thing because I don't think I would've been accepted. They accepted me based on my answers to the questions. They were your typical application questions. Still not sure why I was accepted, but I am happy to be going. I'm excited to learn more about the blogging world. I told my husband that they probably only had 40 people apply so by default they had to accept me. He told me it didn't matter they still invited me, they didn't have to. I think my husband is a keeper. I guess I'll let him stick around for another 5 years.
By the way, does anyone out there know of anyone attending this event? The hotel rooms are a bit on the expensive side and it would be nice to find someone to share a hotel room with. If you know of someone please let me know.

Later this week I will be posting what I have been composing in my head, that's if I can remember it.

That's it for the randomness, at least for the time being.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New Goal

I woke up January 9, 2007, looked at myself in the mirror, looked at the clothes in my closet and thought to myself: "I need to lose weight." I seriously had no idea on how to go about doing that. Of course I knew that I needed to exercise more, who doesn't know that? But I had never counted a calorie a day in my life. So I did what I normally do when I become more interested in something...I research. And boy did I research. There is a ton of information out there. I first started off on ediets.com. I paid for a three month membership and was able to start a foundation for my weight loss. After my three month membership was up I thought that I could research some more and come up with my own meal and exercise plans on my own for free. By August of 2008 I had lost more than 50 pounds. Before you congratulate me and say: "Way to go!" I must admit to you with some embarrassment that I've gained 15pounds back. Now you may not think that is a whole lot, but if you've just spent almost 3 years of your life working hard to lose and maintain that lose it's kind of a bummer. I know that I am not anywhere near where I used to be. I am still active and I still eat fairly healthy, but I know I could be more active and eat even better (read: Now that Easter is over I have to stop eating Cadbury Creme Eggs mmm....). There are two weddings coming up in my family in which I am apart of. One is in September and the other is in November. I already know what we attendants will be wearing for the November wedding, let me tell you my arms need a workout in order to look fabulous in that dress. When I originally started losing my weight I decided that I should lose between 70 - 80 pounds. So minus the 50 pounds lost add the 15 pounds gained that puts me at 35 - 45 pounds I need to lose (GULP) before September. Okay I know it's probably not realistic to lose that much weight before then, so I guess 20is pounds before September...maybe...? The reason why I am sharing this with all of you is because it will help me be more accountable. Maybe if I have everyone asking me about it I'll not want to let you down and actually do it. And maybe I'll use that gym membership that I pay for every month but haven't stepped foot in in over a year. I know, not very frugal of me. Also helping me stay accountable I've enlisted my cousin Ashley, who is also on a weight loss journey of her own, to be my accountability partner. I have also turned to sparkpeople.com to help me with keeping track of what I eat. It's a lot easier just to prepare and eat what's on a list then have to keep a running tally of calories in my head; I tend to "forget" some calories that I've eaten. So that is my new goal. By the way I want to say congratulations to my brother-in-law Sean on his upcoming wedding (September) and congratulations to my sister-in-lay Heather on her upcoming wedding (November). I'm so excited for you both!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Only 6 More Months

This is the time of year when everyone is getting outside and enjoying warmer weather, green grass and sunshine. I, however, have to watch everyone from the window of my home because this is the time of year when I cannot go outside. Usually I have to avoid going outside the entire month of April and the beginning of May, and even in the summer I have to limit my time outdoors especially if it's windy out. Why? You may ask. Well I suffer from severe allergies and I mean severe. I seriously have to run from my front door of my house to my car while holding my breath so as not to breath in any tree pollen. If I don't do this I have a sneezing fit about 5 minutes later and almost hit ever unsuspecting motorist who happens to be in the near vicinity of my car. My very first spring in Iowa 12 years ago while I was in college was the most miserable spring in all my 19 years. I had never experienced such miserableness. I would have an allergy attack followed up by a sinus infection. I had about 5 sinus infections that spring alone. I was told that they would have to scrape my sinuses if I had another miserable spring like that one. Thankfully by the time the next spring rolled around I had some immunity built up and I only had 2 sinus infections. After I moved back to Colorado I vowed never to move back to the mid-west because I knew that I would have to endure springtime allergies. (Maybe I was being a little dramatic about vowing never to move back...) Wouldn't you know it, I moved back. This year is bad, I'm pretty sure that I already have a sinus infection and tree pollen just started flying last week. So while all of you are enjoying the sunshiny outdoors, frolicking around having picnics and playing in the park, I'm inside counting down the days until the October frost, which is approximately 190 days away. This is why I love winter.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Weekly Granola

Last year I started to think of ways I could save some money. One of the ways that I came up with was not purchasing shampoo and conditioner. I started out looking for coupons and signing up for free samples. I wanted to make it the whole year without spending any money on shampoo and conditioner. For Christmas I had gotten some really nice smelling shampoo and conditioner and I still had some left in the bottles I was currently using. With a little creativity I knew I could go the whole year without buying shampoo or conditioner. Last April I came across a coupon for $1 off shampoo at a local grocery store. I wanted to find some that smelled good and didn't leave my hair feeling all wierd and limp. I lucked out and found some V05 shampoo on sale for $0.97. I was paid $0.03 to take this shampoo home. From April to September I rotated between the shampoo I had gotten for Christmas and the V05 as well as samples I got in the mail. In September I came across an article about going poo-free. I must admit this piqued my interest. I was very curious on how one could not use shampoo and still have pretty, shiny, clean hair. I decided to give it a try, since this fit in with my challenge of not buying shampoo or conditioner. Now I have been poo-free for over 6 months and I really like it. My hair feels more clean and stays cleaner longer.

Here is how...

Did you know that you really shouldn't wash your hair everyday? Washing your hair everyday strips your hair of oils that help nourish and protect your hair and scalp. Up until September I had washed my hair everyday. If I went a day without washing my hair it would be really greasy. When I read up on being poo-free I realized that my hair was really greasy because it was overcompensating for the fact that I washed the oil out of my hair everyday; it was producing too much oil. I started out with the poo-free method and started going every other day without washing my hair. This is what I used to get my hair clean: baking soda and water for shampoo, apple cider vinegar and water for conditioner. That's it. I fill a squirt bottle with water and about 2 tablespoons of baking soda and shake it up. I filled a spray bottle halfway full of cider vinegar and filled the rest of it with water. Every other day to every three days I wash my hair with this. I wet my hair and then squirt on the baking soda, massage it in, wash it out. I then spray the cider vinegar on my hair, not a lot, just enough to be able to work it through my hair; then rinse. I know what you are thinking..."Doesn't her hair smell like vinegar?" No it does not, matter of fact it really doesn't smell like anything at all. It smells like hair.

You can find more info here

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Busyness

Last Friday my boss gave me wonderful news! He told me I needed to be on a 3 hour conference call about new ways he would like to start marketing. Ugh! I did sit through all three hours listening to the presenter talk about different ways to grow the business and what practices he has implemented in his own office. After the call was over my boss asked me what I thought about the presenter and his ideas. My first impression? Busy. I told my boss that this guy must not have a home life whatsoever because he was always on the go. The rest of the day I thought about how busy our lives are. For some reason us Americans have to be doing something all the time. It seems that if you want to get ahead in your career you have to work amazingly long hours and always be available to whomever needs you at that exact moment. We cart our children to the numerous activities they must be enrolled in. Well not us because we don't have any of those miniature human things (a.k.a children). Why are we always busy? I cannot seem to answer this question or understand why we would want to fill every waking moment of our day with an activity that requires some form of work. I think we should work to live not live to work. Yes, we are put on this earth to work, we have to do some level of work, but our whole existence should not resolve around being busy and acquiring more things. When I get to the end of my life I really don't want to look back and think: "I was too busy." I want to look back on my life and remember the relationships I was able to build. The time I spent with family and friends. If I have to be busy in my life I want it to be in building relationships and in things that last an eternity, not in things that are fleeting and meaningless.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Granola

For now my weekly natural/frugal living posts are going to be called "Weekly Granola", until I can come up with something a little bit more clever.

There are a few reasons why I have started to make changes in my home life towards the more natural. One of them is that it's cheap! A box of 2lb baking soda is currently selling at Wal-Mart for $2.12, combine this with a coupon and you get wonderful multi-purpose product (more on baking soda in a future post) for next to nothing. Another reason is that most products on store shelves these day have an amazing amount of ingredients in them not to mention that most of those ingredients are chemicals that are created in a lab. Not that I have anything against chemists, they need jobs too, I just don't really want to use all the products that are created by them. Another reason for using more natural products is that it's just plain simple. I posted last week that I have about a bizzilion cleaners under my kitchen sink. One day I dream about having just 3 or 4 cleaners, imagine all that storage I would then have under my sink! (If you saw my kitchen you would that the one thing I lack is storage!)

I know I promised that I would let you in on my hair cleaning routine this week, but I am not motivated to really elaborate on this post at this time. So stay tuned next week when I truly promise I will tell you how I get my hair so clean.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Weekly Blog

This evening I was in one of those rare moods where I actually wanted to wash the windows and base boards. My husband gladly volunteered to play Xbox and stay out of my way. When I went to pull out the glass cleaner and the wood cleaner from under the sink I realized I have way too many cleaners. Seriously, I don't know why I feel the need to buy so many different cleaners when I am confident that I could make my own multi-purpose cleaner on the cheap. Even though I plan on doing this I cannot justify throwing out a bunch of cleaners and start a new with just two or three different cleaners. I decided that I would use up what was under my sink. I did manage use up one can of Lemon Pledge, just three more different wood cleaners to go! As I was washing and scrubbing I had an idea! Why not start blogging about inexpensive all natural products. I could call it, cue awe inspiring music, I could call it...ummm....awe inspiring music fades...I have no clue what to call it. I was thinking it could be a weekly thing where I share what granola, er...natural things that I have incorporated into my daily life. I would like to point out at this time I am from Colorado. If you have spent anytime in Colorado then you know that there are some umm...interesting people there who are actually 100% crunchy granola. I am not one of them, however I have started to lean more that way as I increase in age. Also my mother is pretty granola herself. I remember one time after she finished reading her "Mother Earth News" periodical she wanted to build a house out of recycled tires that were really just old tires stacked on top of one another. She had to settle for a terraced hill out of old tires, pretty sure my dad was not going to go for a tire house. Anyway she has bestowed some of her granola wisdom on me and some of it I have just picked up here or there. Now what to call these weekly posts? I still don't have a clue, but maybe by next week I'll have something. And you'll have to come back next week when I let you know how in the world I haven't used shampoo in more than 6 months. There are more of these kinds of adventures I have to share with you, and let me tell you some of the natural things I've tried have been pretty adventurous.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day Part 2

Freezer Cooking Day almost did not happen. I woke up and Saturday morning feeling dizzy and exhausted. I really felt run down and was not looking forward to spending part of my day at the grocery store and the other part in the kitchen. Because I wait until we have run out of everything in home before I grocery shopping we didn't have anything in the house for breakfast on Saturday. So I suggested to my husband that we go and get breakfast at IHOP. I love IHOP by the way, well I love breakfast food. After breakfast, it was really more like brunch because we didn't get out of the house until after 10am, I asked my husband if he would accompany me to Wal-Mart and then to Target to do the grocery shopping. I really felt like I needed his help because I wasn't feeling very stable on my feet. If for some reason my body decided that it didn't want to upright anymore he would be there to catch me, or at least cushion the blow of my body falling to the floor. It was slow going but we managed to get everything on the list, plus the one item my husband added when I wasn't looking (Cadbury Eggs). We managed to stay under budget until we went to Target to buy kitty litter, our cats seem to poop a lot and we go through litter like it was going out of style. So I ended up just a few dollars over my budget, but I feel confident I won't have to go to the store for a few weeks. After we got home my husband disappeared into the basement to feed his Xbox addiction and I went and rested for a few hours. I knew that if I just laid down for a little bit I would feel better. I got up at about 3:45 with my Freezer list in hand and I started in on the tortillas. While I was working on those I got the Brown Bag Burritos going.

After that I chopped up the potatoes, carrots and onions.
After about an hour and a half I really ran out of steam, I decided to call it quits. This is what I ended up with.
And also a sink full of dishes.
I know it doesn't seem like a lot, but this was my first time trying this and I didn't want to be overwhelmed. I think all in all I ended up with about 5 meals ready to go. I got about half of my meals done that I wanted to.

What I learned

This is something that I definitely have to plan for and make sure that I have all of the ingredients on hand. I ended up not making pizza dough because I forgot one of the most important ingredients that goes in pizza dough - yeast. I really thought I had some, but didn't check before hand, of course I didn't have any. Also my tortilla recipe didn't make as many tortillas as I had hoped. I guess I could call it a success, but really won't know if it was a success until the end of the month.

One last thought...since we have gotten rid of satellite I have noticed I have become very domesticated. I'm not sure how I feel about this, I think I will be discussing this in a future post.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day Part 1

I have often read other people's blogs and thought to myself: "I would love to do what they do, if only I had the time..." Well now I do! There is a particular blog that I read everyday and that is Money Saving Mom. She has over the past couple of months posted how she plans and accomplishes her once a month Freezer Cooking Day. Basically she picks a day makes most of the meals for the month and then freezes them. Then when dinner time comes all she has to do is pull something out of the freezer. Brilliant! But however brilliant this idea is it does take some planning. On Saturday I am going to try my very first Freezer Cooking Day. Now I am not a mother of three children or even one so there is significantly less food that I have to make. I am, however, a mother of two mischievous cats, but meal prep for them easy and my husband takes care of that. The first thing I did to prepare for this day was take a survey as to what I already have on hand. I looked at recipes that have items in them that I already have. Then I printed out a blank calendar and planned our dinners for the rest of the month making sure that each meal uses something that I already have, that way I won't need to spend as much at the grocery store. I created a grocery list based on my menu planning calendar and have matched up some coupons with my grocery list. I am not as thrifty as some of my friends, especially not as thrifty as The Sneaky Mommy, but I do know how to find good deals. I am hoping that by doing the Freezer Cooking Day I can make my bi-weekly grocery budget stretch through the entire month. I know I have high hopes for my budget, but I think I can do it!

I only need to come up with 10 dinners for the rest of the month, which is not a whole lot as far as freezing goes, but it's my first time ever doing this and I don't want to over do it so that I will never want to do it again.
Here is what I am going to make and put in the freezer:

20 Tortillas (10 of them will be used in the Brown Bag Burritos)
10 Brown Bag Burritos
2 things of Pizza Dough
brown 3lbs of ground turkey
peel and slice 1lb of carrots
peel and slice 10 potatoes
peel and slice 1 onion

That should do it. Some of my meals incorporate the crock pot so I really do not need to do a whole lot of prep for that ahead of time. I'll use the vegetables that I chopped up in those crock pot meals, so I'll just drop in a bag of veggies and other ingredients and press start. I ♥ my crock pot!

I'll post an update on Saturday with the results of how I did as well as my thoughts on the whole process. I'll also let you know if I was able to stay within my budget :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Abode, Commode, and Ski Slope Mode

Okay I realize that it has been 3 weeks since I posted. I know, I know I said I was going to try to post at least once a week. Well, the key word is try. I did think about it, but that's as far as it got. We did have some "adventures" over the past couple of weeks though. Now I will bore you with all the details.

After I posted my last entry I got a phone call from our realtor saying that the nice pretty place, which will now be referred to as NPP, people accepted our offer. Wooo Hoooo! Er...just one teensy weensy little problem we still have our current place, which will now be referred to as CP. I have felt every emotion possible over the past couple of weeks, mostly the feeling-sorry-for-myself emotion. I know I need to be content with what I have in the CP but when one gets to look at a NPP and knows that it could be theirs I kind of start to get down the dumps. I'm not sure if I could classify wanting a NPP over our CP as a trial, but sometimes it feels that way. I know that the Lord has something wonderful planned for us and hopefully it's the NPP!

We got a new toilet in our second bath. I know that this doesn't seem like an adventure but I think it was for the plumber! He is young and I'm pretty sure has not been a plumber for very long. As he was working on the bathroom I kept hearing him call someone else and ask questions. He then would ask me to come and look at the bathroom. Well wouldn't you know it the toilet that was there was not installed correctly, and there was something weird stuck in the drain. Neither one of us had a clue as to what it could be. All I can say is that it might have been some insulation? but not really sure about that. So problem solved, we now know what was the cause (maybe insulation) for such a slow moving toilet. The adventure really wasn't the toilet it was the fact that my husband and I got to see Travis the plumber a lot that week. Because the original toilet was not installed correctly he needed to get some sort of fancy part. So he got the part and and was supposed to come back in the afternoon, but his truck broke down. He came the next morning with the new part but realized he had forgotten to put the floor leveler down. Then the floor leveler wasn't dry in the afternoon when he came back to finish the job. He then came back the next afternoon and finally finished the job. I kind of felt like just giving him a key and telling him to make himself at home. Needless to say we did get a discount for all the times we got to see Travis.

This past weekend my husband and I took Friday off from our jobs and went skiing!!! I know it's silly for me to get excited about going skiing in Minnesota, but I was super excited. I finally got to test out my new-to-me skis. I had purchased them off of Craigslist about 7 weeks ago but I haven't been able to test them out. They are a little bit longer than what I am used to, but I know that if I use them I will get used to them. We drove up Thursday night and stayed with some friends. We then skied, well I skied my husband snowboarded, for a good chunk of the day. I'm sure my husband will love me for saying this but he kind of wimped out towards the end of the day. We had planned to make our way back to the car via the chair lifts and runs, not by walking halfway across the base of the "mountain" to our car. There was a run near our car and we had mapped out which lifts we were going to use and which runs to go on that would get us the closest and then we would call it a day. We were two lifts and two runs away from getting there when I was waiting for my husband at the next lift. I had beat my husband down the previous run, of course. He fell about 30 yards away from me and the lift line. I looked at him and he looked at me and he made the hand at the neck motion meaning: "I'm done." I would've gone and done those two runs but really didn't want to look like a dork riding the lift alone. So I sacrificed my calves, which are still sore, and walked in my non bendable ski boots next to my husband all the way back to the car. Other than quiting earlier than I anticipated we had a great time! After skiing we went to our hotel and sat for a good 30 minutes in the whirlpool. It felt wonderful after being on the slopes all day. After we returned to our CP we went out to an early dinner in hopes of beating the state wrestling crowd, ummm...not so much. We finally found a restaurant that had some parking. We enjoyed our dinner and then like the true nerds we are we hung out at Barnes & Noble picking out books that we can either get at the library for free or purchase for a fraction of the price at Amazon. It was a good weekend.