Archive | September, 2011

My weekend of relaxation is here!

9 Sep

{source}

That’s what I will be doing this weekend (except with a much less impressive view).

Against all odds, I have made it to my first free weekend in two months, and my second free weekend since the beginning of June. Woohoo!

I know that I said I was going to lay around and do absolutely nothing, not even clean my disgusting house. Yeah… that’s not really going to happen. Mostly because there are things that I would like to do this weekend that do not involve watching TV (and because I would feel disgusting if that’s all I did for 2 days… trust me, I’ve tried it).

So what is it I want to do this weekend? In order of importance (because free days fly by faster than I realize!):

1. Recharge, which means:

  • Sleep in. No alarm clock for me! (Except Sunday morning when I have to be at church by 9:15.) And if I feel like a nap, by all means.
  • Get in the Word for an extended period each morning with a cup of coffee. This is the thing that I have missed the most. I seriously haven’t done this in 3 months.
  • Read! I am currently reading Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn. I’ve really enjoyed it so far.
  • Take a walk outside in the cool(er) fall(ish) air with the pooches.
  • Drink a Pumpkin Spice latte from Starbuck’s.

2. Get caught up. Specifically:

  • Clean the house
  • Buy more dog food (and decide on which new food to buy) and treats
  • Organize all the mail, race stuff, and miscellaneous crap I’ve thrown in a pile in my office
  • Write Thank You to the Normans for a great Labor Day
  • Grocery shop
3. Train. I would gladly cross this one off my list, but alas, I have paid money for these races and would like to turn out a decent effort. My workouts look like:
  • 10 mile bike, 2 mile run tonight
  • 6 mile run + strength training tomorrow
  • 15 mile bike on Sunday
4. Go shopping. I need would like to buy:
  • Housewarming gift for friends
  • Shirt for my cousin’s wedding to go with the cute new skirt I got at the thrift store Tuesday (I’ll post my other great finds later)
  • Cute decorations and fabric for curtains for various areas of our house
If you think it’s weird that Travis isn’t involved in any of these plans, it’s because he’s going up to Wyoming antelope hunting this weekend. And then he’s going back out to Utah to count cacti next week. I’ll see him for a couple of hours Sunday but that’s it. I’m actually disappointed that he’s going to be gone so much (insert evidence of God’s grace in marriage here!).
Regardless, I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend! I may post tomorrow or Sunday but I forgot my phone in NC so I have no internet at home (gasp!). No phone and no Internet! What’s a girl to do?
See above.
Have a great weekend friends!

Labor Day in North Carolina

8 Sep

For the Labor Day weekend, Travis and I flew out to visit our good friends, Mark and Sarah, and their 2-year-old daughter, Ellie. They live in Charlotte, NC, but we actually didn’t spend much time there. Our flight left at 6:15 on Friday morning (meaning our wake-up call came at 3:30!) and everything went smoothly. We were relieved to not have to check our suitcases at the gate due to full overhead bins.

We arrived in Charlotte around 3 pm and Sarah and Ellie picked us up from the airport. Mark met us at their house and we spent the evening catching up and eating a delicious home-cooked meal – cheesy beer chicken and noodles, garlic bread, and cooked broccoli. It was so good, I went back for seconds. Even though in Denver time it was only 7:30, we went to bed at 9:30 Charlotte time. We were exhausted!

The next morning, we got up around 7:45, took showers, ate breakfast and packed up for our trip up to Sarah’s parents’ cabin in the Smoky Mountains. It’s in Transylvania County, which is also known as the Land of Waterfalls. The elevation increases 2,000 feet in 4 miles and it rains 80 inches a year, so it’s technically considered a rainforest (and it definitely looks like one with all the kudzu growing everywhere!).

{source}

On our way up to the cabin, we stopped at Sky Top Orchard to pick apples and eat some apple donuts. I hadn’t been apple picking in forever so it was fun to be there, but I have to admit that the humidity slightly ruined it for me. I’m not cut out for that anymore! It just makes me feel exhausted and sleepy. So we only stayed at the orchard for about an hour and a half.

Travis was the wagon puller.

Of course, we had to get some Honeycrisp. The orchard had actually picked all the Honeycrisp trees clean that morning but we found some decent ones on the ground and got them for 1/2 off. They were still delicious!

Some of the trees had tons of apples on them – very pretty.

They’re such a cute little family! Sarah is pregnant with their second child, due in February. She finds out today whether it’s a boy or a girl!

After picking apples, we ate the sandwiches we brought and some fresh, hot apple donuts. They were so yummy – I could have eaten all 6 of them.

We drove another hour and a half on the windy mountain roads and then stopped at a roadside store that sells boiled peanuts. The store has been there since 1947 and is a tradition with Sarah’s family. All I can say is that I think boiled peanuts are gross. Travis said that he thought that when he first tried them too but he muscled through half the bag and then they started tasting good. I don’t know why he does that. I did not muscle through. I ate 2 and decided that they were not for me. Kind of like pork rinds. Ew.

Finally, we got to the cabin.

After we unloaded and chose our bedrooms, Mark, Travis and I took a walk around the neighborhood to see all the unique houses and pretty gardens while Sarah and Ellie napped. When we returned, we read and hung out for a while and then ate dinner – North Carolina-style BBQ, bean medley, and mac & cheese. We watched TV for a bit until I started falling asleep. I got my second wind to play 2 games of Scrabble and won the last game (though Mark would have won if he had remembered to play Qi, which is a special word for Chinese life force). Then it was off to bed.

The room that Travis and I slept in had french doors that opened out on to the screen porch, so we left the doors open at night to let the mountain air blow in.

We slept in until 9:30 both mornings we were there! That was one of the many great things about this trip – it was very relaxing. We got a lot of good time to just hang out and talk with Mark and Sarah and be amused by Ellie. She is so cute and hilarious. I hope our kids are as cute someday!

Sunday morning, we ate breakfast (banana pancakes made by Mark) and then hiked up one of the mountains nearby. The hike was no joke! It was challenging for me, I think mostly because of the humidity (it’s amazing how much that makes it hard to breathe just like high elevation), but maybe also because I hadn’t hiked since the Fourth of July. I have discovered time and time again that triathlon/running shape does not equal hiking shape. I must admit that I was very frustrated on the way up during this hike because it seemed like everyone else, including Sarah who’s pregnant, was in better shape than me! They were just moseying up the mountain while I was hacking up a lung. This just reveals my pride in being “athletic” – something for another blog post.

Nonetheless, we made it to the top. The view was definitely worth it.

I called this a Beach Project picture because it was so bright where we were looking (though you wouldn’t guess it from the clouds) that I could barely keep my eyes open. That’s why I look slightly weird.

I’m not particularly fond of this picture but I’m including it just to show the massive sweat stains on my shirt. I was disgustingly sweaty from the hike up. Ew. Ew. EW. Luckily my shirt was dri-fit so the sweat evaporated fairly quickly.

After our hike, we grabbed some snacks to tide us over and went to a place the locals call “Little Sliding Rock.” Instead of explaining what it is, I’ll just post pics.

It’s a rock you can slide down. Mark and Sarah said that this was the busiest they had ever seen it so I only went down twice. The first time, a couple of little girls starting sliding down from the deep hole (see below) right as I was coming down and I ended up running into one. I pulled her to the surface to make sure she was ok. (She was.) Whoops.

That’s Travis going down the rocks. In the upper right, you can see kids hanging out in the middle of the rock. That was actually a huge hole – so deep that kids were literally jumping off the rock into it. It was also a popular hang out spot although the water was so cold, I didn’t really see the fun in hanging out in it.

Travis and Mark went down several more times and even pushed each other down so they’d go faster. Boys.

Nice and refreshed, we went back to the cabin for a nap and dinner. We had steaks with sweet potatoes and salad. Another delicious meal! Mark and Sarah really fed us well. 😉 I also had about 2 Mike’s Hard Lemonades a day. Calories don’t count on vacation, right? After dinner, we got sucked into watching a Dateline Mystery. Sarah said that SNL has done a spoof on the narrator guy. He was pretty hilarious to listen to. I’ve never heard so many rhetorical questions be answered by the person who asked them. Then we played 2 more games of Scrabble and hit the sack.

I woke up around 4 am to what I thought was a really loud fan in our room. Nope, it was rain. We had known it was supposed to start raining during the night and continue all the next day – in fact, the weather reports listed the chance of precipitation as 100%. There was no chance it was not going to rain. And they were right. It rained all day. I welcomed it, though, because it was such a nice change of pace from Colorado where it has been 95 degrees and sunny everyday. (Who knew that cloudy days once in a while could be nice?)

We just kind of bummed around the cabin until late morning and then headed over to Highlands, a nearby town. We shopped for a while, ate lunch accompanied by delicious white hot chocolate, then went back to the cabin. The boys went to a waterfall and swam in the natural pool at the bottom while Sarah and I enjoyed listening to the rain and reading. When they got back, it was time to pack up and head back to Charlotte.

On the drive back, we stopped for a true Southern meal at Waffle House. There are Waffle Houses out here in Denver but somehow, it just doesn’t seem the same. I had an egg and cheese biscuit with a side of grits. You could not have fit one more plate on our table, we had so much food!

We got back to Charlotte around 10 pm, just in time to go to bed. The next morning, we showered, ate breakfast and left for the airport around 10:10… we were supposed to leave for the airport at 9:30 for our 11:30 flight but that didn’t happen. The security line was ridiculously slow – I get so frustrated at the security personnel. They lolligag and take their sweet freaking time while the rest of us are frantically trying to get through because we’re about to miss our plane. To add to that, I forgot I was wearing a belt and didn’t take it off when I went through the full-body scanner (that’s the first time I had to do that!) so I required an additional pat down. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had to stand there for a couple of minutes while the security lady watched another guy go through the scanner. I wanted to be like, “Hello! I am going to miss my plane. Can you hurry the eff up?”

Travis and I ran to our gate and arrived just as they were starting to board. Whew. We made it.

Our connecting flight in Minneapolis was only slightly less eventful. When we got off our plane from Charlotte, I looked at the departures board and I swear it said our gate was C4 – on the complete opposite side of the airport. Since we had an hour and 15 minutes, we decided to eat lunch at Wolfgang Puck Gourmet Express. Despite the debaucle of their ordering system, I had a very delicious Chicken Tortilla soup with avocado and goat cheese – seriously, I will use that idea myself. The goat cheese melts so it’s like sour cream, only healthier.

Lunch eaten, we headed to our gate. Only it wasn’t our gate. It was for a flight to Philadelphia. Maybe it was C7? Nope. Hmmm… we went and looked at another Departures board.

Our gate was F9.

Are you joking?

We had to walk all the way back around the airport. Travis was mad. I was mad at his being mad, in addition to my mind reeling. What? How did I think it was C4? Did I remember that from the Charlotte airport – no, that was an A gate. Did I look up Charlotte instead of Denver? No, that gate was for a Philadelphia flight. Do I even remember looking at the Departures board? I must’ve because Travis said I did. 

A slight redemption came when we made it to F9 and there was a little old lady who was also at the wrong gate. The airline employee said that the gate had been switched and she now needed G17 instead of F9. Maybe that’s what happened to us?

Either way, we made our second flight as well. The only bummer was that they made us check our suitcases at the gate, and then proceeded to let people on behind us with their luggage. We were slightly annoyed. I am not impressed with Delta’s overhead bins at all. But they do give out free pretzels. Bins or pretzels? Bins or pretzels?

Overall, our trip to NC was very fun and relaxing. I hope to see Mark and Sarah again soon!

{Just a quick note – things at work have finally picked up, so my blog posts and comments will probably be a little more sporadic. But I’ll still try to post and keep up with your blogs as much as I can!} 

Pay no attention to the cowpies behind the curtain.

1 Sep

I feel like I am finally at a point in life/maturity/Christian growth that I can focus on my marriage because I want to and not because “I probably should.” That never lasts as I’ve found. I mean, it’s not hard to find marriage advice. Marriage is hard and everyone has their own theory as to what works. Well, newsflash. It isn’t cut and dry. There is no black and white, cookie cutter “This is what you do for a good marriage.” There are principles, yes. But the nitty gritty details specific to your marriage take a bit longer to hash out.

That’s where Travis and I are.

While our first year of marriage was extremely rough, things have gotten progressively better over the last 3 years. I personally have made grand strides just since March of 2010, when Travis and I were going to be apart for 3 weeks and I was like, So? Travis said it was unacceptable. That incident made me realize that I was kind of a cold-hearted bitch when it came to my husband. Through much prayer and grace from God, I have made it to where I am now – still a work in progress but trying more and more each day to make sure my husband knows that I love and appreciate him.

As I’ve been reading the Bible and some marriage books, I have felt God leading me to focus on a few specific things. The first is my speech. I am horrible at not only guarding my mouth from saying stupid, hurtful things in the heat of the  moment but also at affirming Travis or wording things in a way that he would receive well.

But I have two amazing examples of grace from just last week! The first was during the week when Travis was out in Utah. He called to ask if it would be ok if he stayed out there another week because he still didn’t have anything to do back in Denver. My normal response would’ve been either, “Yeah, sure whatever.” or “Ugh, that means I have to keep watering the yard!” My response last week was, “Sure, that’s fine. I mean, I’ll definitely miss you but I understand that it’s important for your job that you’re billable.” What a difference, both in my words and in my heart!

The second example is from Saturday when I was talking to Travis on the phone about the Focus crapping out on the way to Steamboat. I wanted to complain and exaggerate the situation by saying, “Freaking A – this is why I just want to get rid of the Focus and get a different car. We should’ve at least taken the Check Engine light seriously instead of just waiting for it to go off by itself.” Somehow in that moment, I had the clarity and foresight to know that saying that would have made Travis feel horrible, like he had failed me. He has said numerous times that he would feel better knowing that I had a reliable car, a bigger car with 4-wheel drive, etc. So instead, I simply said, “I’m very frustrated right now.” I was still honest, but in a way that didn’t aggravate the situation by pinning the blame on Travis.

Both of those advancements were inspired by reading the book For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you’re married and haven’t read it, I recommend you do so. As you can see, it’s been an eye-opener for me!

The second thing I’ve felt God leading me to focus on is making Travis a priority. I have had a tendency to just let Travis fit in wherever in my life, instead of molding my life around him. While I’ve been mildly majorly obsessed with thinking about my life, what I want to accomplish, and what I’m doing to do, I have spent hardly any time thinking about how I can be a better wife, create a warming and inviting home, and support my husband’s ambitions. How can I help Travis succeed? had never been a conscious thought in my head. 

Both Travis and I have also been guilty of letting chores, obligations and hobbies rob us of intentional time with one another. On weekends, we’ve started asking one another, “What are you planning to do today?” instead of “What should we do today?” While Travis and I are independent people, and I’m glad that we have different hobbies and responsibilities within our family, I think it would do us good to be intentional about spending time together, just the 2 of us, doing something fun and out of the ordinary – like taking a walk, going on a picnic, doing something new, visiting a new restaurant, etc.

Another aspect of making Travis a priority and focusing on our marriage is making time for romance and sex. The biggest source of conflict in our marriage has been different styles of physical affection. That got a lot better after the first year but I think one unfortunate side effect of that has been we just aren’t physically affectionate anymore. God is slowly revealing to me that I have some unresolved issues with my sexual past. I hesitate or refuse to do certain things because I associate them with the promiscuous lifestyle I had before I became a Christian. Therefore, I haven’t felt complete freedom with Travis. Even just knowing this has brought about healing.

The more I learn about marriage and my husband, the more I’m convinced that the biggest thing that I’ve learned in marriage is that I can’t do anything right without God. Marriage has shown me what an incredibly mean, selfish, crabby, stubborn, pig-headed, messed up person I am apart from His work in my life and it is only by God’s grace that our marriage is what it is today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I have no idea how people make it through marriage without Christ. No idea whatsoever. I don’t think I would have. If I had not believed in something bigger than our marriage, if I had not believed that the Author of the universe had been in control of bringing Travis and I together, I think the first year of our marriage would have done us in.

But praise be to Christ, we weren’t done in. And He has brought me from wondering if I even still loved Travis to this place of being so incredibly, authentically thankful to have my wonderful, amazing husband in my life and growing to appreciate him more and more each day. It’s felt like a long journey (I know those who have been married 20+ years would say we’re still newlyweds!) but it’s been worth it.

If any of you readers are in a place where marriage is rough and you’re wondering who the heck this person is that you married, I just wanted to offer these words from John Piper, Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church. They really encouraged when I first heard them when Travis and I were engaged and I have thought back to them often throughout our marriage. Even if you’re not struggling, they’re still true! The truth of them is even more evident to me today than it was then.

Picture your marriage as a grassy field. You enter it at the beginning full of hope and joy. You look out into the future and you see beautiful flowers and trees and rolling hills. And that beauty is what you see in each other. Your relationship is the field and flowers and the rolling hills. But before long, you begin to step in cow pies. Some seasons of your marriage they may seem to be everywhere. Late at night they are especially prevalent. These are the sins and flaws and idiosyncrasies and weaknesses and annoying habits in you and your spouse. You try to forgive them and endure them with grace.

But they have a way of dominating the relationship. It may not even be true, but it feels like that’s all there is—cow pies. I think the combination of forbearance and forgiveness leads to the creation of a compost pile. And here you begin to shovel the cow pies. You both look at each other and simply admit that there are a lot of cow pies. But you say to each other: You know, there is more to this relationship than cow pies. And we are losing sight of that because we keep focusing on these cow pies. Let’s throw them all in the compost pile. When we have to, we will go there and smell it and feel bad and deal with it the best we can. And then, we are going to walk away from that pile and set our eyes on the rest of field. We will pick some favorite paths and hills that we know are not strewn with cow pies. And we will be thankful for the part of field that is sweet.

Our hands may be dirty. And our backs make ache from all the shoveling. But one thing we know: We will not pitch our tent by the compost pile. We will only go there when we must. This is the gift of grace that we will give each other again and again and again—because we are chosen and holy and loved. {source}

Such a good reminder to focus on all the good things. Even if the only good thing you can think of is that he brushes his teeth in the morning, or goes to work and earns a paycheck. Start appreciating the small things and God will grow your affections. My life and heart – and ultimately, my marriage – is living proof of this.