Hop Over!

If you guys get a chance today, don’t forget to check out Newlywed’s Bliss today!  There are a lot of new blog posts up, and today I share about how I get my hubby to eat healthier without nagging.  Check it out and leave your comments!

Also, if you’d ever like to guest post on there, let me know and I’ll get you hooked up with Emily.  We’d love to have you!

This Christmas vs. Last Christmas

Last Christmas we spent here in Arkansas. This Christmas we spent with my family in Arizona and California.  We also did an early Christmas with my in-laws the weekend before.

We were living in a little rent home that was rather drafty. We’re now snug in our own house, very warm and toasty…and with two fireplaces.

We drove up to Northwest Arkansas to get a live Christmas tree and a few ornaments. We took a quick trip to Heber Springs to get one.  The one this year turned out ugly, so we’ll probably cut our own down next year.

Our ornament that year was “Our 1st Christmas Together”. We bought a house ornament at Silver Dollar City to represent our new home.  And my parents got us a “1st Christmas in Our New House” ornament too!

Since it was our first Christmas together, we had to get pretty much everything, which was expensive. We hardly had to buy anything this year.  We even had outside lights all ready to go!

Our stockings (which I made), were laid on our arm chair, since we had no fireplace or anywhere to hang them. This year we have a mantel to hang our stockings on!

I gave Andy a nice sport coat. I have lots of ideas this year.  The blu-ray player was our main present, but I also got Andy some nice leather gloves, a movie, and some golf supplies.

He gave me a ton of office supplies (and a new printer!). In addition to the blu-ray player, Andy got me a new camera (I was desperately needing one).  He also bought us a tablet computer!

Our puppy (still an inside dog then) even got a few treats in her stocking. 🙂 Both the cat and dog are outside animals now.  Andy was sweet and got them some stocking stuffers anyway. 🙂

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my in-laws. This year we spent with my family out west.

My BIL and SIL drove down from Missouri for Christmas Day. Our early Christmas with the in-laws was up at my BIL and SIL’s house in Missouri.

The day after Christmas, my mother-in-laws birthday, we threw a surprise party.  Unfortunately we missed her birthday this year…we’ll have to try to make it up!

The day after that, Andy and I took a spontaneous three-day trip out to North Carolina and had a blast. We were still out West this year, so no spontaneous trips!  We did get to go to Disneyland though.  Woo-hoo!

New Years Eve I drove down to Little Rock, despite tornado weather (eek!), to pick up my sister from the airport. New Year’s Eve we’ll be home in Arkansas, with one of my sister’s visiting.

New Years Day Andy dropped my sister and I off at the church at 3:30 am to leave for Passion 2011.  No, we didn’t stay up til midnight. We might stay up late this year.  We don’t leave for Passion until January 2nd.

Nothing to Do?

This weekend Andy and I are spending a little quality time with his side of the family.  We don’t live too far apart, but busy lives really cut down our time together.  Thankfully, we were able to find one weekend this month to squeeze in all most of us getting together and “doing” Christmas.

Right now, my dear husband and his brother are “blowing stuff up” in the other room…aka playing video games.  Unfortunately, no one else has arrived yet.  The boys very nicely suggested I “Facebook stalk” until some other girls arrive.

Thankfully, I’m kind of enjoying the time to just sit here and relax by myself.  I know that once some more people start pouring in chaos will ensue.  And the truth is, I’ve had so little “alone” time these past few crazy weeks that I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Sometimes it’s nice to not have anything to do.

Winter is Here

It seems like winter really is here.  It’s been chilly the past few days!  Thankfully, though, we’ve had some sun with all the cold.  I’ve decided that I really don’t mind the chilly air…as long as the sun is out!

Yesterday I was out in a long-sleeve t-shirt digging up garden beds and planting bulbs (that I never got to).  It was cold, but oh-so-good for the soul.  I needed to be out in the sun…even if it didn’t warm my skin.

Really, though, once I got over missing the leaves on the tree I’ve really been enjoying this transition into winter.  The mornings are so beautiful and frosty.  I look out our back window to see frost on the ground, and in the field behind us.  And beyond the field the bluffs are suddenly visible between the trees.  It’s beautiful. 

In other news, I’m really excited about it being the Christmas season.  I’ve been browsing the Christmas section at Walmart since October.  Seriously.

Although we don’t have our Christmas decorations up yet, we’ve been blasting Christmas music, breaking out the hot chocolate, and feeling altogether in a Christmas-ey mood. 

No, we may not have snow, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 🙂

Being Thankful

This past week as been wonderfully crazy.  We didn’t really do anything that hectic…we were just busy with life. And if you haven’t noticed, I didn’t even get to counting one thousand gifts yesterday!

Thanksgiving was wonderful, and the weekend was great for catching up with family, watching a chick flick late at night with my SIL, and, yes, even some Black Friday shopping (Blu-ray player=$49…score!)

And now, I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things.  I promise I will soon. 🙂  How as your Thanksgiving?

Those Winter Blues

DSCF2031 (2)

As I’ve mentioned before, I come from a place where blue skies outnumber grey ones 100 to 1.  It rains and snows, but five minutes later the sun is out.  And aren’t those skies the bluest!  Even in the winter, there wasn’t a place that could beat Arizona for blue skies.  I loved it.

And then God moved me to a place where the winter is always grey, and rarely blue. 

Last winter was good at first…at least I could feel all cozy and Christmas-y!  But then Christmas passed, and the grey days continued.  And pretty soon, I found myself struggling with depression.  It was awful.

The winter blues are normal for anyone who experiences a grey winter.  The long, cold days without sun can just get to your very soul!  But there are things you can do to beat those winter blues.  This winter, I’m building up my defenses against seasonal depression.  Here’s what I’m doing, and I encourage you to try them too:

1.) Get your vitamin D.  One of the biggest reasons people get the winter blues is a lack of vitamin D, which you get from the sun.  This winter, get all the sun you can get.  Don’t waste those rare sunny days!  Get out there and get some sun.  Trust me…you will feel so much better.  You might also consider taking a vitamin D supplement.  Whatever the case, make sure you’re getting enough.  Vitamin D improves your mood, and is also very important to your health.  It even combats cancer!  So don’t skimp on the sun.  Make it a priority.

2.) Exercise.  Don’t let the short, dreary days of winter hinder your exercise routines.  If anything, exercise more.  Exercise will get your blood flowing and keep your body healthy.  The “high” you experience after a set of cardio will also combat against feeling sad.  Exercise is a mood booster!  I would recommend exercising outside, where you get the double-benefit of getting in some vitamin D.  Yay for killing two birds with one stone!

3.) Eat Right.  Just like exercise, the holidays can be a real downer for eating healthy.  Now, I don’t expect you to pass on all those delightful holiday goodies.  But when you do partake, do so in moderation.  Be sure that the majority of the time you are eating fresh, healthy, whole foods.  There’s no mood downer like an overage of carbs and sugar. 

4.) Focus on the things you like about winter.  Here in Arkansas, spring, summer, and fall are pretty much wonderful to me.  Winter?  Not so much.  There’s something about the grey days without any green that just gets to me.  But guess what?  There are things I like about winter.  What about getting to snuggle by the fire with a warm cup of tea?  Or how about all the warm, comfort-food that you can make?  There’s even something beautiful about the barren, rolling hills.  Learn to delight in the things you love about winter, instead of focusing on the bad.  This winter, I’m even making a list of winter projects I want to do, like sewing, crocheting, or baking.  When you have something to look forward to about winter, the doldrums are less likely to creep in.

5.) Focus on others, and not yourself.  Sometimes sadness and depression can be very hard to shake.  If you feel this way, then a good dose of helping others just might do the trick.  When you’re busy helping others through their problems and needs, then you won’t have time to focus on your own sadness.  Volunteer at church or for a community organization.  Sometimes when I’m feeling a little down, rocking a sweet baby to sleep is just the trick.  Don’t have any more time on your plate?  Look for little ways to serve others.  Bake a busy mother a meal or take a plate of cookies to the older gentleman down the street.  Shift your eyes off of your own problems, and shift them to Jesus…ask Him how He can use you to help others.

6.) Take your concerns to God.  Ultimately, there is only One who can help you get out of the pit of depression.  When you’re feeling down or blue, take your troubles to God.  He longs to hold you in His arms and be the balm to your heart.  Read through the Psalms, spend time in prayer, or set aside some time to just sit at His feet and worship.  He really can get you through…and He’s the only one who can!

6.) Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help.  If your depression is something that you just can’t seem to shake, is very severe, or lasts longer than winter, then I would encourage you to seek help.  Being sad all the time isn’t something God intended us to live with.  Sometimes He puts people in our lives to help us along the path.  Whether it be through medications, herbs, or counseling, help can be found for our sadness.  Just know, you don’t have to go it alone!  Sometimes the best medicine on an Eeyore day is just talking through it with someone.  Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to ask for help from others!

Will you join me this winter in combating the winter doldrums?  That’s a pit I just don’t want to enter again.       

This Thanksgiving…

If you haven’t already picked up on it, my family lives far, far away from Andy and I.  As it, driving would take over 22 hours.  Andy’s family, on the other hand, lives 15 minutes from us.  So, as you can imagine, being with both families on certain holidays is impossible.  We can’t do the “one house Thursday, the other Friday” thing for Thanksgiving.

While Andy and I were still engaged, we decided how holidays were going to work for us.  We’d spend Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other, and then trade off every other year.  This helps alleviate any arguments about holidays, as well as lightens the budget because we only have to travel for one holiday.

This year, we’re holding down the fort for Thanksgiving and going over to Andy’s grandma’s house (she lives 20 minutes from us).  We’ve never spent it there before.  I do know that there will be millions of aunts and uncles and cousins running around.  But other than that, it’s anyone’s guess.

I just got asked to bring plastic forks and napkins for 50-60 people.  I’ve never eaten Thanksgiving dinner with plastic forks.  But, I guess when you have that many people, you run out of china plates. 🙂

Although it’ll be different from Thanksgiving’s past, I know I’ll still enjoy it.  Thanksgiving may just be my favorite holiday (yes, more than Christmas), mostly because it’s all about family.  And family doesn’t mean that you have to eat with Great-Grandma’s silver or on the pretty china.  

Andy and I are our own family now, and with that we have an extended family as numerous and spread-out as can be.  Melding everyone’s traditions and ideas is what it’s all about.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful to not only have my family out in Arizona, California, North Dakota, and Maryland, but also my new family here in Arkansas, consisting of one very welcoming grandma, 5 uncles, 6 aunts, 19 cousins (not including Andy’s brothers and sisters), and numerous spouses, second cousins, in-laws, and cousin’s kids.  Have I mentioned that Andy’s related to pretty much everyone in our county?

This Thanksgiving, I may not be with my mom and sister’s cooking up a flurry in the kitchen.  We may not watch the Macy’s parade together, eat Mom’s yummy sweet potato casserole, or make a cornucopia out of breadsticks.  But I’ll still be with family.  And for that I am thankful.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year?    

Even Amidst Stress…10 More Things

As I said yesterday, the past week has been crazy.  All the stress of deadlines has really brought to light the differences between my husband and myself.  I’m not a procrastinator.  In college, when a big assignment would be looming in the distance, I’d start freaking out, hoping I could get it done.  I would rarely finished early…I just wasn’t that diligent.  But, I will say, I can count the times I stayed up late working on an assignment on one hand.  And I never “crammed” or pulled an all-nighter.  That would have just sent me over the edge of the stress chasm.

Then there’s my husband.  He’s not a procrastinator.  Yet, he has no problem doing something up until the last minute.  It doesn’t even worry him.  Somehow, he just knows he’ll get it done.  Stress is nowhere to be seen.

And so, you can imagine how one-sided the stress has been this week.  And then, the stress of one person (me!) weighs down the other (him!).  But I guess we balance each other out.  If we both freaked out, we’d be a puddle of stress on the floor.  And if neither of us freaked out, we probably would be up until 5 a.m. the night before.  I’m so thankful for a man that is different from me.  I think one of me’s enough.

DSCF2070 (2)

And so, I’m thankful for you, Babe, because:

1.) You bring spontaneity into my life.  Without you, I’d never know what it feels like to just get up and go somewhere on the spur-of-the-moment.   

2.) You like my cooking.  Especially my chili.  Which really makes me happy because I know you’ve had a lot of chili in your life, and you still like mine the best.

3.) You’re so good with kids.  I know without-a-doubt (and have since one of the first times I ever met you, at the outreach in Michigan) that you’re going to be a wonderful dad someday. 

4.) You don’t like baked potatoes.  Our kids will be the freaks who don’t know what a baked potato is.

5.) You like to snuggle.  Yes, I had to throw that one in there.  I always used to hear that guys don’t like to cuddle…but my manly-man does and I’m so glad!

6.) You like to dress up for church.  I’m always proud to have such a handsome man by my side!

7.) You don’t have an addictive personality.  Video games or anything else will never be a problem with you.

8.) You love to travel as much as I do.  I don’t know what I’d do with a man who didn’t value traveling as much as I do.

9.) You balance me out spending-wise.  Sometimes I can be a real Scrooge!

10.) You always look for sweet ways to show me you love me.  I love coming in to find a bubble bath waiting or one of my chores done for me!

What do you love about your husband?  What are you thankful for?  Join up over at Newlywed’s Bliss!

This Little Baker Went to Market

The High Point Furniture Market.  For those in the home furnishings business, it’s like drawing lots…telling you what the next few months look like for you.

My husband is the Product Development Manager at Stone County Ironworks, a very unique company that makes hand-forged iron furniture and accessories.  Yes, they employ big, burly blacksmiths, and, yes, they really do have forges.  And their livelihood depends on the ever-changing and unpredictable economy.

Twice a year, my husband and several other SCI employees make the pilgrimage out to High Point.  Good or bad, they know that their success there will determine their future.  This fall, I got to go too.

I’ve been to furniture shows before.  Having the husband I do, I’ve learned more about the furniture business that I ever would have in a lifetime.  I know all about wholesale pricing, and rep commissions, and bed dimensions. 

But still, the High Point show is like a whole other world.  High-dressed women tramp around in skinny stilettos, and men wear only the finest in suits.  Coffee is a necessity, and most attendees are a bit tipsy by early afternoon.  You never know what to expect.  All you can do is put on your best high-brow face and try to get people in.   

Yes, it’s a whole new world, but a fun one.  I’d never want to live in an environment like that, but twice a year it’s not that bad.  It’s kind of fun getting asked if your boots are Armani (hah!) and shaking hands with Dale Earnhardt’s son. 

All in a day’s work at High Point.     

The Escalator

I have a fear of escalators.  Not a huge fear, as in I won’t get on them, but my stomach definitely drops out before I step on one.

I know they’re perfectly safe, and that if I step on that moving step I will be quickly deposited on level ground.  But still, every time I step on I grab a hold of the railing and look down until my feet are firmly rooted on the ridged stair. 

My life is like an escalator sometimes.  Many times, I have to step out in faith.  I know that I can trust God, way more so than I can trust an escalator.  But still, it’s scary.  My stomach drops out, and the pain of worry cuts deep within. 

The question is, will I step out and trust Him? 

Shakily, I grab the railing and step on.  I push through my fear of the unknown.  The great drop to the bottom floor scares me, but I know that I can’t get to the next level any other way.  And I know that if I step out in faith, God will safely carry me there.

A year ago, I was going through a very confusing time in my life.  On the one hand, I was incredibly happy and enjoying newlywed life with my hubby.  On the other, there were problems and worries back home in Arizona that I had no control over.  Most days were busy enough that I could get through them without thinking of the worries far away.  But then something would remind me.  My stomach would tie itself in knots, and the pain of not being in control would seem almost too much to bear.

It was then that I had to grab a hold and step on anyway.  I had to trust God, knowing that He would carry me through.

Today, things have changed, but they’re no less confusing.  I’m still not in control, and things are far from perfect.  Yet, I’m learning that God truly does have an awesome plan through all of it.  I’m learning that I don’t have to be in control.  I’m learning that the pit in my stomach will go away, and that God will carry me through.  Worrying about it won’t help anything.

So, like stepping on the escalator, I press through my fears and worries.  I trust Him—He who is able to supply all our needs.  He who is watching over those I love.  He who has a plan through everything.

So, I ask you…will you step on with me?