Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Home is where the heart is.

Watching the sunset from the second floor
Sometimes the best moments happen right within the home. For an extrovert such as myself, I used to dread staying home on weekends and enjoyed filling my days with events and outings. These days, I find myself relieved when we have an open Saturday to ourselves to lounge around and dilly-dally while savoring a morning latte. I guess your priorities do begin to shift after having a child (or it could just be age). Even though I still enjoy being out, I'm learning to savor solitude, as much of it that's available when you have a 1 year old crawling about. However, the scary thing about solitude is that once you have it, your thoughts can run wild. Perhaps that is why some unconsciously choose to remain busy, as it is a way to drown out the other voices that remind us of what is really going on inside. 

With less than a month left of my shopping challenge, I'm beginning to feel the pressure- not as much with spending, but more of what God has been revealing to me through this whole thing. If any of you decide to follow suit in this challenge, please be aware that there may be hidden curveballs thrown at you (not as intense as The Hunger Games). I came into this challenge feeling as though my main struggle would be preventing myself from purchasing a new pair of shoes or item of the moment. Mind you, it has been difficult at times to remain focused on the goal, especially when there are amazing deals or designer collaborations staring right at me through the computer screen (I enjoy dangling the carrot). I'm discovering more and more that this challenge isn't entirely based on me trying to tone down a life of excess. This process has led to the peeling away at the outer layers of my soul to reveal my internal weaknesses. Being a mom does reveal much of my own selfishness, but if there was a year that blasted this trait (one of many), 2013 would be it. Just as fasting from food can cause you to become impatient and irritable, I feel as though refraining from shopping has had a similar effect on me. Never have I had this much impatience for other people's flaws and quirks. And then I realize some of these flaws are staring right at me through the mirror. It's true, sometimes the things we despise the most in others are found within ourselves.

Learning to find remedies for these nasty episodes has showed me much of God's grace and provision in my life. He has taught me how it truly is better to give than to receive, but it isn't always so easy. I cannot recount the number of times I've wanted to purchase an item for myself, but a little voice in my head reminded me to give. And even when our minds don't always agree, I find that our heart will follow suit with our actions. On the flip side, I have also been in the place of being gifted. Having someone gift you something you love requires much thought, and is more of a blessing than purchasing it for yourself. 

At the end of the day, everything becomes part of our mountain of "stuff." New items lose their novelty after a given amount of time. I see the same thing happen with our child when he receives new toys. Within a half hour, he's over it and moving onto the next thing. I've learned from my mom to hide his old toys and bring them back out after he has forgotten about them. Works like a charm. Perhaps we as adults should do the same.... 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Aloha Love

This is a rather delayed post from our summer trip to Maui. Yes, we're back to the island of beauty, love and heartaches. I feel as though this place grows with me, yet remains the same. This solidarity is comforting, because I am usually the one that has changed each time.

My first time to Maui was with my family when I was at the sweet age of sixteen. I clearly remember thinking, "this is what paradise must look like." Never had I seen clouds so fluffy white and meringue-like. The shadows they casted on the lush mountains as we were driving were stunning. The glassy ocean, with its jewel-like tones of blues, turquoise and aqua were the most breathtaking part of this island. My fondest memory was when my dad would make random stops and pull over to the side of the road for us to jump into the ocean and go snorkeling.

The second time was on our honeymoon as we dove into the depths of marriage full speed with excitement, anticipation, totally in love and with just a little bit of naiveté (okay, maybe a lot). During this trip, every song on the radio became "our" song. We didn't do much but lounge around as newlyweds do, sipping Blue Hawaiians and swinging the night away in hammocks.

The trip after was bittersweet. It was our fourth year of marriage, and the most difficult. Things unraveled while we were on this beautiful island, and I remember expressing to the Hubby at the top of The Road to Hana, the irony of the beauty around us versus what was going on within our souls. It pained me to think that the previous time we were in Maui was when we were hopelessly "in love." What a contrast that was to where we were at the time. We were fighting hard, but feeling as though we were losing. However, we tried to make the best of our time there, but it became the start of a challenging journey ahead.

With that said, our most recent trip was what the Hubby called a redemptive one. It was our first time with our little one, and being in a much better place than we were previously, we wanted to recreate new memories. Though we had painful memories to remember, they were important in shaping where our marriage is today. Marriage doesn't run on auto-pilot, and it constantly humbles us to think that we could always return to that state. But by God's grace and redemption, he has brought us out of the darkness and back into the light. Our journey back on this island was a reflection of just that. As imperfect as we still are, we are reminded of how blessed we are to have a God to walk with us and teach us how to love. And if it weren't for that, our precious little one wouldn't be here today (just a small perk).

Here we are as honeymooners, circa 2007. Oh to be young again. : )

Monday, October 14, 2013

Finding Autumn

 Autumn is my most favorite season. It always feels like a fresh start and prelude to all the holiday festivities that end the year. Living in sunny Southern California (aka: the desert), we don't get to experience it the way most people do. I'm always envious of New Yorkers during this season, and to quote my Hubby's favorite movie, You've Got Mail: 

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." - Joe Fox 

 My remedy this year was to go find Autumn for ourselves by taking a family day trip to the Oak Glen apple orchards. This quaint little area full of Fall-worthy trees is tucked away in the hills, offering cooler weather and a slight countryside feel. Going apple picking is rather nostalgic for me. I had fond memories as a child, visiting the apple orchards in Northern California. I wanted our little family to share in a similar experience.

We packed our lunch and had a picnic on the benches near Riley's Apple Farm. The weather was beautiful - sunny, but with a cool breeze. It was nice to escape the October heat back home. Unfortunately, as much as we were looking forward to picking apples, apple season had ended early this year, and they told us there were no apples to "pick." So instead, we walked around some orchards we found across the parking lot, and even spotted several apples which I may or may not have picked...
Still drooling over the mini cider donuts found at Snow-Line apple orchards!
We also visited Oak Tree Village (their little downtown), where we were greeted by peacocks! By 5, most of the stores were already closed, especially for a weekday. The place was a bit of a ghost town by then, I guess we'll just have to come back and visit! 

On the way home, we stopped by my old college town for dinner at The Salted Pig. I was quite impressed with this gastropub (yes, we are unfit parents). Their filthy fries and jalapeno burger were pretty tasty, as well as their pork belly sandwich. If only this place existed when I was still attending college, it would've been a Freshmen 25 rather than 15.

The day ended much too quickly, but as always, we have photo memories to look back upon!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ahoy mateys!

We threw a Sailor-themed 1st belated birthday party for the little guy, with a group of people who have played a special part in the early months of his life. How strange it is to think that over a couple years ago, he never existed in our lives. It almost feels as though he has been a part of our little family this whole entire time. Life felt tremendously different before him-- I was different, our lives were different. It's incredible to see how much a little person can change the way you live and view life in general.

Much of the decor used for his party were things I found lying around the house. I tried to be resourceful by tweaking old decorations in order to fit the theme. Simplicity seems to be of the theme of my life these days. Pinterest also sparked some ideas such as hanging baby's onesies on a clothing line to use as a banner across the room. My version involved hanging some of his sailor-inspired outfits from birth-now. The rest involved construction paper and good ole Elmer's glue!
Bebe J was such a trooper and partied until his eyes grew heavy as it was way past his bedtime. I'm sure he didn't know this was exactly a party for him, as he was overwhelmed with all the extra attention (which did involve a "minor" meltdown). I guess first birthday parties are more for the memories down the road, and we made sure to take a ton of photos for him to "remember," so that he can thank us later ; )