Saturday, July 31, 2010

God Made Dirt

A few years ago this tree was causing us major problems.

It's needles were dropping all over our grass. Mike decided a good solution (since we're pretty sure our neighbor wouldn't want to cut it down) would be to turn the area underneath it into a play area. We killed all the grass and intended on refilling the area with pea gravel or rubber chips but started on our journey to getting out of debt and the area under the tree was placed at the bottom of the "to-do" list.
This is what it looks like now.


I really don't care that it's an ugly, grassless patch in our backyard. It's fenced in after all, so we're the only ones who have to look at it.

The problem is ...



And the fact that I finally found our missing dishes ...




I don't really mind the dirt.



But I do mind when the dirt does this ...



And it really bothers me when this little girl

says, "Don't worry Mom! I cleaned myself all by myself!"
Because I know it means ... 



I gave the kids a bath before dinner. Just as they were drying off and I was draining the noodles for our spaghetti I thought ... WAIT! SPAGHETTI?!

Sigh...perhaps I am a glutton for punishment.

Reminder

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for my giveaway for a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover! My kids are very excited to pull YOUR number out of a hat ... uh, I mean, the computer generator is all warmed up and ready to go!

Tell your friends - send 'em HERE to enter!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Way We Vacay

We left early last Friday morning for Hamilton, Montana. It's this little town in the Bitteroot Valley; quiet and quaint and home to one of our favorite families - La Familia Lopez. Laura and Julian...they are some of the coolest people you'd ever meet. I'm not really even sure how Laura and I became so close but Mike met them when they were all in Maui with YWAM. When Mike and I were engaged they sent him a wedding invite and I thought that Julian sort of looked like Jesus and then they got married and we got married and every once in awhile I would email Laura and then we had a baby and they had a baby and Laura and I emailed a little bit more and then we had another baby and we emailed a lot more and then they had their daughter and named her my exact name and then I loved them beyond words. And now we all have a bundle of babies and email when we can find a minute to sit down and type and getting an email from her is like a lifeline for me. She is a kindred spirit to be sure.

Laura is just one of those women you want to be like. She is soft spoken and kind and comfortable in her own skin and confident in who she is. She is a friend who makes me want to be a better person, to follow God more, to be nicer. She encourages me to be a better mother and to walk more closely with the Lord. She challenges me in my marriage and my world view. She does all of this without even knowing it. Just by being who she is she encourages me to be a better me. These things are just the tip of the iceberg for what kind of a person Laura is. She and Julian have a nomadic kind of spirit and are willing to go wherever the Lord takes them. These last couple of years have been challenging for them; they have been wronged and discouraged and yet they take it all in stride, letting it make them stronger and draw them closer to each other and to God and they move on; keep seek God and what direction He is taking them, and honestly, I've never heard them bad-mouth anyone. Simply put, Laura and Julian are amazing.

A few summer's ago they came and spent a few days with us at our house. It happened quite by accident. Julian was a groomsman in a wedding that just happened to be in our neck (ish) of the woods and Laura emailed to see if we'd like to meet for dinner while they were here and we insisted they stay with us and let us host them. (Uh...you may remember how this visit impacted us if you've been reading along with our debt story. ) That was the first time I'd met them face to face and the first time Mike had seen them in about six or seven years but we just fit together like old friends should. The next summer they met us for a few days at the "Special House", the name reserved for the vacation home my aunt and uncle built and the few days we were together were amazingly refreshing for me.  Last year we meant to go out to see them but we were at the tail end of paying off our debts and decided we couldn't spring the money and my heart was quite seriously broken by the thought of not seeing my friend for another year. This year we made the plan to visit them, if for nothing else than my own sanity, and we finally made the journey over to see them. My only regret is not staying longer.

Within minutes of arriving Brooklyn and little Genesis were best friends. It didn't hurt that Laura had purchased them matching princess tiaras, wands and skirts.

This is the view from their living room window. Laura says their house is old and small but ... this view. I'm sure. They could live in a shack and this view would make up for it.

We went sapphire mining. How awesome is that? We are now officially 5 carats richer in uncut sapphires than we were a week ago. Sa-weet.

I totally forget the name of these falls. It starts with an 's'.

Wouldn't this be the best family picture if we only had three children? And if everyone were wearing pants.

I still can't get over the view. Seriously. Playing in the kiddie pool with this view? Do they even get how cool this is?

And Judah threw a fit. Odd.

And Brooklyn tried to play the guitar. I'm framing this picture.

Ezra. Ah. Dorable.

Cheeto baby. My baby. Kiss kiss.

These boys ... oh boy. Trouble.

The little girl who was named for me. At least, that's what I tell myself. Laura let's me believe it.

Mike and I got up one morning and this is what Laura was doing. Reading a book to 7 children. Did I mention she's an amazing mother?

First theme park ride.

La Familia Lopez. This was taken at the end of a 10 hour day of riding rides, water slides, and eating insane amounts of sugar. Also, Julian has West Nile Virus. Did I mention that? Yeah. Literally infected with a deadly disease and trucking along at Silverwood like it was no big deal.

This vacation was good for my soul. It was good for my marriage. It was good for my family and it was good for my friendship.
Laura, my dear friend, I already miss you and I cannot wait for our next visit.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Morning

We have been gone on a wonderful fabulous relaxing exciting amazing vacation.

And, since we think we are still teenagers, decided we could make the five and a half hour drive home after spending the entire day at a theme park.

Next time, will someone please remind us we are in our 30's?

Thank you.

What 3:30 a.m. looks like.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 6

I wandered through Target with the gift registry in hand; I finally had a few dollars to buy someone a wedding gift but was frustrated that I didn't have enough to buy a nice gift. I settled on a cookie sheet, then purchased some flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking powder. I planned on giving my cousin Mike's sister's recipe for the best snickerdoodles ever. It felt cheap but it felt better than showing up at a bridal shower empty handed.
I walked into my mom's house and was greeted by cousins, aunts, my sisters and mom. I always love when my family gets together, especially when we are celebrating something so special like a baby or a wedding. My cousin, Jessica, was glowing with excitment. There had been some awkwardness between us for a bit as she had asked me to be a bridesmaid and I'd had to say no because I knew I couldn't afford it. It was difficult for me and I tried to explain that with the pregnancy, the three kids, Mike's work schedule and finances I wouldn't be able to. She was gracious about it but I knew she'd been disappointed.
We all settled into our normal family get-together routine quickly. Telling stories, laughing, teasing, laughing, crying followed by more laughing and of course, lots of eating. We ooo'ed and awww'ed at Jessica's gifts, cried and laughed while she talked about how she met Doug and knew he was 'the one' and asked all sorts of questions about the wedding ceremony. My aunt's all cried when my Grandma who had recently passed away was mentioned and as things began to wrap up everyone settled into separate conversations.
I began talking with Marci. She was always such fun to talk to. She was married to my cousin Jesse; he's a pastor and she's a pharmacist. Jesse and I had been close since childhood and I really loved to call them Mr. and Dr. Jesse just to get under his skin. I began to tell Marci about our finances and how finally we had some breathing room. I told her quietly about our mountain of debt we were trying to escape from and how far we'd come since the beginning. I explained that Mike had recently got a raise and that our refi had gone through so we had more money every month to play with and we had decided to add to our credit card payment and to give ourselves a bit more spending money. She listened to my story and expressed excitement at what we were doing.
Then she said something that would change the course of my life and forever alter the way I viewed finances.
"Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey?" she asked.
"Huh-uh," I replied, "who is he?"
"A financil advisor. He has a radio show and helps people get out of debt. Gen, you have to listen to his show. It's amazing. He has this book that I've been reading, The Total Money Makeover, and it is full of stories of people who make hardly any money and pay off insane amounts of debt. I have seriously cried reading some of these stories. If those people could do it, then we can...and so can you. How much debt do you have?"
"I guess I really don't know. Maybe $10,000 on the credit card. We have a car payment too but doesn't everyone?" I asked.
"Yeah, um...you should get his book."
"Do you really think we need it? I mean, I told you all we've been doing...savings, budget, paying extra on the credit card. What more is there?"
"Dave has Baby Steps," she explained. "You've already done the first one, which is establishing $1000 in an emergency fund. The next one, you're also working on, paying off your debt. But Dave's plan, it's intense. He talks about gazelle's, how the run away from danger. He says we should be gazelle intense about getting out of debt. He says "Live like no one else, so later, you can live like no one else." I think it would just ampliphy what you and Mike are already working on."
"Do you have the book with you? Can I borrow it?"
She paused for a moment before saying, "I'm pretty sure my brother has it but I think I have the workbook in my car."
"Well, I could take a peek at it, if you don't need it, and see if I even want to read the book."
Marci ran out to her car and brought back the book. She sheepishly handed it to me. "I've marked it up. It has how much I make and how much debt we have and stuff. Just ... you know, ignore it?"
I laughed as I grabbed the workbook from her. "Do not worry Marc."
I could see other people, watching us, listening to our conversation. I was proud of what Mike and I had accomplished to this point so I wasn't embarrassed, but I could see a few people roll their eyes as Marci talked with excitement about working to get out of debt. Her enthusiasm was contagious to me though and I thought that perhaps this Dave Ramsey would have something to offer us. When people started leaving the shower I walked Marci out to her car.
"Gen, read the book. I mean it. Dave Ramsey...he will change your life. He's changed ours."
I didn't really think our lives could change anymore than they had during the last six months but I appreciated Marci's encouragement so I knew she must have a lot of debt, having gone to the University of Washington to get her degree, and if she thought Dave Ramsey would change our lives, I was apt to believe her.
When I got home I got back into the grind; making dinner, bathing the kids, getting on the jammies, putting them to bed. After everyone had settled in for the night I remembered Marci's workbook. I sat down on the couch, turned on the TV, and began reading.

The first page began;

Key Concept #1
No Money ... Is No Fun
      I remember the feelings vividly. For several years in my twenties, I faced the end of every month with dread. I had too much month left at the end of my money. I was not having fun.
     I wasn't afraid of hard work and sacrifice. I didn't need a secret formula for making money; I didn't need a positive-thinking guru to pump me up and tell me to have a positive attitude. I was simply sick and tired of being sick and tired when it came time to "do the bills." I fet hopeless, as if I were running a financial race with no traction and no ground covered. Money came in and money went out, with nothing REAL to show for my effort or income. (The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, Ch. 1)

Whoa. I felt like he knew me, like he knew our struggles and what we were going through. I felt as if I could have written that first page. Although we were finally using a budget and able to pay our bills I still felt like there was nothing real to show for our effort or income.
I kept reading. Every page talked to me. Dave indeed used words like "gazelle intensity" when he talked about getting out of debt. He said all debt was bad, even a car payment. I was shocked. Everyone has a car payment, don't they? He said to sell whatever we needed to sell to get out of debt. He said that being "normal" was bad when it came to finances, that we should desire to be completely debt free, to be "weird". He said most people, following his baby steps, could be debt free (minus their mortgage) in two years or less.
I was hooked and got online to reserve the actual book at the library; I was number 347 on the holds list. Apparently Dave was popular enough and knew enough about what he was talking about that other people were listening to him. I ordered the book from Amazon instead and returned to reading the workbook. I finished a 245 page workbook in less than 24 hours.

When Mike came home from work the next night I asked him to read the workbook too.
"It's uh...life changing," I said.
"We already changed our life," he said.
"Yeah, but...this is...different. Really different. More intense, more focused. Just read it. Please?"
"Just tell me about it. Please?"
So I did. I gave him a brief rundown of the book. I told him I wanted to rework our budget, that I wanted to get intense about paying off our debt, that I thought we could pay off our credit card and our car in less than two years.
"Less than two years?!" he cried. "Are you kidding me? Do you even know how much debt we have?"
"Think of how much money we'll have every month if we don't have any debt payments," I pleaded. "Think of it...what, an extra $500 at least, probably more. Wouldn't that be nice? No more wishing for things, no more daydreaming about vacation...we'd really get to do it! Just read the book. Please. Read the book."
He sighed heavily, took the book from me and headed for the bathroom.

He came and found me later.
"Honey," he said, "if you think that we can do this, then get it started. It seems impossible to me, but I'm on your side and I will work with you to get every penny paid off."
"Ok. As soon as the book arrives I'll read it to see if it's more in depth than the workbook and we'll get started. Tomorrow though, I'm reworking the budget. It's only been a few weeks since we increased our spending money and other things, so I think we could go back to where we were. Are you ok with that?"
His eyes widened as he thought about only having $20 to spend every two weeks.
"Remember the $500 you could have if we do this? That's worth it, isn't it?"
"Like I said, I trust you. Rework whatever you need to rework. Just tell me what I have and don't have ... and I'll finish reading the workbook."

I smiled. I knew we were headed into another financial adventure and this time, we were going to be in control. We were going to tell our money what to do. I could not wait to sit down with my budget in the morning.

To be continued...

*As a reward for reading this far...
I'll be doing my first ever giveaway! I will be sending out a copy of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover to one lucky winner. Click HERE to read a brief rundown of the book.
To enter simply leave a comment saying what your biggest hurtle to getting out of debt is.
Entries will be accepted until 9 pm PST on August 1 and a winner will be announced during my Remember When Wednesday post on August 4.
The winner will be selected at random. Good luck!
**Dave Ramsey has no clue who I am and therefore, has nothing to do with this giveway. All costs will be covered by yours truly...well, Mike actually since he's the one who brings home the bacon. But I'll take the credit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First Family Photo Shoot

I did my first family photo shoot for my sister the other day. It was tough for a couple of reasons...ok, really only one reason.
Aaron, my brother in law, has tall hair. It always looks good. And it is always tall.

I'm not a professional yet AARON! I can't always get your HAIR in the shot! ARGH!

But it's still a cute picture.

Here are the rest of my fav's. I know I've got a ways to go as far as how the technicality of everything goes, and especially how the editing goes, but it's coming along. I'm thankful for all the friends and family who are letting me experiment on them.

My sister is amazing. She gave birth to this little chub-a-lub at home. Her first labor and delivery and she breezes through it. Perhaps breeze is a bit of an understatement...regardless, she's amazing. You should meet her.

I know these pictures are kind of cliche and everyone does them, but I think the reason everyone does them is because they are really cute. Especially when you are a fat baby and your parents like each other. And your dad has tall perfect hair.

Ahahahaha!
I can't decide if she is praying, tolerating, or wincing. Or all three?
 Either way, this one's getting framed.

My sister has a thing for feet pictures. I wanted to get hands in there too. 




Happy families are the best, aren't they?


And thumb's up to you too Boo. Thanks for letting me take pictures of the fam.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jamie the very worst missionary

Recently whilst purusing the site Stuff Christians Like I somehow happened upon Jamie the Very Worst Missionary. I really really like her. A lot. I like her in the sort of, "I wish you could be my BFF" kind of way. She's honest, and funny, and a Christian ... and well...a missionary. I'll admit that I'm sort of a stalker and I hope she'll post something today because I really want something to think about and laugh about and say, "Oh Jamie...you are so funny and SO right!"
Lucky me because she did post something today so I had a little laugh before getting my family ready for church. I think you should check out her blog, especially today's post, if you need a good chuckle. And also if you need something to mull over and challenge you. Ok, maybe the mulling should be reserved for some of her other posts...regardless, check her out!

If you can't spank 'em, join 'em. By Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer! ... or ... Summer?

Why my bathtubs are never clean... OR ...

Why my children are never clean ... OR...

Both.

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 5


As a segue into the next chapter of our journey to debt freedom I wanted to post an email that I sent to Dawn, the woman who helped us start our path to debt freedom, at the beginning of April 2008. It is difficult for me to remember the order of events accurately for the first four months of that year with the pregnancy and a whirlwind of other things going on in our life. I thought I would share the email to give you a quick glimpse into what we had accomplished to that point. Next week I will begin to share about the major turning point in our journey. Thanks for reading! - Gen)

Hi Dawn!


I wanted to update you on how Mike and I have been doing financially since we sat down with you in October.

Our first success came when we needed to buy new tires for our car. Since we'd been putting Mike's extra into our savings account we actually had the cash to pay for them. It was the first time that I could remember paying cash for a big purchase like that. It nearly cleared out the savings we had, but it felt really good to get our credit card statement and see the balance was actually going down still. At Christmas we followed the "plan" and used all of Mike's overtime and holiday pay to pay for gifts. We still probably overspent but everything was done in cash, and once again, when Januray came around it just felt so great that we didn't add to our debt.

At the beginning of Januray, Mike got a cost of living raise and we were able to start having some flexibility in our budget and we were no longer dependent upon him receiving overtime to meet our budget. We decided with whatever extra he earned over our minimum we would take 10% of that and tithe it, and the rest would go towards our credit card. It feels funny sometimes to make a tithe of less than $10, but it has been so wonderful to see how God has blessed and honored us because we chose to obey Him in getting our finances under control.

With our tax return in February we finished filling our savings to $1000, put $500 towards a clothing budget, took our mini-vacation (We were going to stay in a hotel in Seattle, and decided instead to stay at home w/o the kids for a couple nights and then spend less money and take the kids to Leavenworth to play in the snow. It made for some good memories. Although Mexico would have been nice we had such a relaxing time and the kids still talk about how much fun they had) We were able to pay cash for every little bit of it, and we were able to put some money on the card to lower the balance.

This month, Mike got his step raise at work, and this coming Monday we close on our refinance, our first EVER with NO CASH BACK!. Mike's income has increased by over $300 a month and our mortgage payment is dropping by nearly $200 a month. With his raise we were able to add money into our grocery, spending money, and credit card payment so my stress load has highly decreased. With our new mortgage payment we will be able to add nearly $200 extra a month to our credit card payment. It has been so incredible for me to watch the minimum payment due decrease every month and knowing that we are paying MORE than they expect and are actually lowering what we owe.

In January we found out we are expecting again (in August) and I told Mike I'm so amazed that we will have 4 children and one income, and we will be doing better financially than when we had no kids and a dual income (In fact, this year Mike will probably make what we did on a dual income, but he hasn't quite yet. It's amazing to see how much we wasted) I'm hopeful that with our stimulus and our month without a mortgage payment we can throw a good chunk against the credit card and also be able to buy the things we are going to need for baby. Our insurance also doesn't cover well child check-ups or physicals so we are planning on setting some money into an account so we will always be able to pay cash for our doctor visits. We've talked a lot about what we will do with the money we get (laptop, treadmill, new lawn mower, etc.) and for the first time I can think of we decided we have credit card debt because we were impatient in getting things and weren't willing to wait for them - and that we need to pay for THOSE things before we buy new things. It's been a total change in mindset and it feels good!

Anyhow, I just wanted to thank you again for teaching that class. We needed it so much and like I said before, God has blessed us beyond what we thought simply because we chose to obey. It has been a wonderful experience and I look forward to continue living this way. I have had a few people, who don't even go to our church, ask me to keep them posted on when you do the class again. In fact, one of my cousins visited with me and told me later she went home and actually set out their budget. She was so excited about it! Kind of like me.

Thanks again Dawn. You have been a huge blessing our family.

Lovingly, Genesis

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Unpopular Voice

The other day I was chatting with our neighbor. She's a great lady, older, single. She raises her great-grandson. Her daughter, Cynthia*, actually has custody of him, but she works full-time with a second part-time job so Judi* takes care of Jacob* quite a bit of the time. Jacob's mom, MaryAnne*, is a mess. She's in and out of drug rehab, in and out of jail, never has any money, etc. etc. Judi and her daughter are great women but totally enable MaryAnne's choices. Thankfully (and hopefully) I haven't experienced that with my own children so I can't really pass any judgement, but it is difficult to see how MaryAnne's choices affect not only her son, but her entire family.
A few months ago MaryAnne's boyfriend overdosed while at Judi's house. We came home and there were ambulances and police cars everywhere. Less than two weeks later Judi came home and found MaryAnne near dead in her bathroom; another drug overdose. Thankfully, both times, Jacob wasn't there. But the last time, MaryAnne's last overdose, was it for Judi. She hasn't really talked to MaryAnne or given her money or shelter since. I know it is painful for her, but I'm proud of her for taking a stand. Someone needs to.
So Judi and I were chatting and she was telling me about what was going on and we were talking about Jacob, who my children love, and she mentioned that MaryAnne had come by the other day and told her she was pregnant.
What's difficult for me was giving my condolences about a pregnancy. It should be a happy time, even if it's unexpected. There's always reason to be joyful about another life. I know though, that MaryAnne is incapable of raising a child and that Judi, poor Judi, will be raising another great-grandchild. It's too much work for someone her age.
Judi informed me that MaryAnne didn't think she would keep the baby and we talked about how that was probably the best decision. That way no one had to answer questions from Jacob like, "Why is the baby with Mommy but I'm not?" or have to figure out who's going to watch the baby over the weekend or how to pay for immunizations. I was glad for Judi, thankful that MaryAnne was finally making a decent decision, thankful that Jacob would be spared just a little more pain when Judi said, "We're hopeful she has the abortion next week."
Wait. What?
I admit, I'm sheltered. I walk around in my little Christian bubble with my stay-at-home mom friends and every time there's a pregnancy we giggle and touch bellies and compare war stories.
As a teenager I was a very loud proponant of my Christain beliefs. I was totally one of those people. I had little compassion for what others were going through, I thought I knew better, I thought I had all the answers...I was probaby a pretty typical teenager. Abortion has always been something I've been against. Since I learned what it was it didn't sit right with me. As an adult, I've learned not to pass judgement. Not everyone has the kind of family I have, not everyone has the kind of health that I have, not everyone has the kind of support I have. I've learned to be less harsh, less direct, yet still maintain my beliefs. I never have, and never will, think that abortion is an answer. Even as a teenager I remember thinking about the what if's and wondering what would I do ... what if I were raped? What it it were my dad that raped me? What if I didn't love the father? What if the father wanted custody? What if the father wanted me to get an abortion? What if the father wanted nothing to do with me?
It always boiled down to this one thing for me :
Making a child pay for my own, or someone else's, poor decisions or mistakes wasn't ok. A child should not be punished for something he has no control over. Violence against children is wrong. End of story.
I know this isn't a popular thought, especially in today's world. I know most people, at least publicly, say that a baby isn't really even a baby until it's viable. I know I'm on the unpopular end of the spectrum.
My heart is heavy today as I think about MaryAnne and the choice she is making. I think about that precious heartbeat she carries around with her, the heartbeat she's most likely already caused harm to with her addictions and choices. I think of how much God loves that little baby and how I am thankful that even though that child may not experience the daylight or know his mother's love that he will be held and comforted by a God who created him, who is waiting on the other side of eternity with a name for him and a place for him to call home. I think about MaryAnne and how she too is precious to God. How he loves her - how even though He knew she would continue to break His heart He willingly laid down His life for her, hoping that one day she would call His Name so He could save her. I think of Jacob and all the terrible things he's experienced that he thinks are normal. I think of Judi and Cynthia and all the pain they endure, watching children they love waste away, as their decisions rob them of life, fulfillment and happiness.
Judi and I, we were having two different conversations. The whole time I thought we were talking about adoption and we weren't. When I finally figured it out I was so taken aback that I could hardly finish the conversation. To say that it caught me off guard is an understatement.
The opportunity for saying what I should have said is long gone and really, a moot point. The decisions that are made in that family are none of my business and even though I don't agree with them, trying to tell them that I know what is best for their family is just too presumptuious.
Although many people look at the pro-life movement as a bunch of right wing conservative wackos, I see it another way (although, unfortunately, there are wackos out there). I just see myself as someone who's heart breaks for for what people must go through; both babies and the mothers that carry them.
I can't make decisions for anyone other than myself. I can't pretend to understand every situation. I can't even tell you I've found a great solution. I don't have much to offer.
The only thing I bring to the table is Jesus and what He has to offer. What He offers is everything. And He's not the only thing I bring to the table - He's the thing. I know He's the only One with the answer. Until everyone, including myself, learns to listen to Him the way we all should, I just have to pray that His love, kindness and humility reign in my life so that those that would feel judged, those who make the decisions we disagree with, would get the chance to know Him.
After all, that's what life is about right? Pointing people to Him?
So maybe that's the next conversation I can have with Judi. I can just talk about Him. And He will work out all the details.

*Names changed

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Three things. Oh wait, four things.

Ok, a couple of things. First, I got my hair cut yesterday. Since Evil Jen left and moved to Texas... four years ago ... I still haven't found anyone to cut my hair. I've certainly had it cut - I've paid good money and not so good money - but never ever ever has it looked as good as it does when Jen cuts it. So usually I just wait until they come up for a visit and let her sleep on my kids' bedroom floor and then let her repay my generosity with a free do. But, I haven't seen her since November and she's not coming here until September and my hair...oh my hair. So, I went and got it cut. It's ok. Nothing a visit in September won't make better.
This morning on our way to the beach I told Mike, "I realized this morning I look like a 31 year old ... gulp ... mom." (um...I'm only 30 so I was feeling preeety old.)
He snickered and looked at me and said, "I don't know what that's supposed to mean. What made you think that?"
I sighed, rather loudly and poignantly, and replied sorrowfully, "My haircut. And bathing suit."
He just snickered some more and grabbed my leg and said, "Honey, you don't look like a 31 year old mom to me." Which may not sound very romantic to you, but it meant the world to me.
Then Brad Paisley's song One in a Million came on and I started to cry (ooo...that's out of the ordianary.) and I felt very stupid because, it's not like it's my actual husband singing to me but I couldn't help but think that if my husband were a famous country singer, that's the song he would sing to me. (I think this because one time it was on the radio and he said to me, "Honey, I wish I had written this song for you." It's not that my thinking is all out of whack.) Anyway, I'm in the car, crying, trying to hide it so I don't get teased when I look at my husband and he is smiling at me adoringly (I swear he had a tear in his eye) and says, "I think the timing of this song is perfect." Then I really started crying and I think if the kids weren't in the car we probably would have pulled over and had a mad make-out session.
Second, I think crying at Brad Paisley songs probably makes me old.
Third, we went to the beach today. It was wonderful. The thing about living in Western Washington is, yeah, we get a lot of rain, but the sun - oh, the sun. It really doesn't get better than here when the sun is out. You have two sets of mountain ranges, gorgeous views, and water just about every which way. We went out to Kayak Point and you would have thought we took the kids to Disneyland they were having so much fun. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday.

Oh, and fourth. I do look like an old lady in my bathing suit. Whatev's. After seeing other women in their bathing suits though I am rethinking my angst at wearing a bikini. Also, tanning oil with SPF 8 is not good sunscreen. After removing my suit I still look like I'm wearing one. Yikes. Thank God for aloe.

Was that five things?



I would just say that this picture makes me smile. A lot. It's just all summery and beachy...and all the shoes are in one location.

This is a shrimp. I can't remember the type. Regardless, the kids thought it was awesome and seeing it made me a little hungry.
The real reason I love this picture though is the hands. I love Mike's hands. Manly. Strong. Thick. Not afraid of working hard or getting dirty. And never without his wedding band. I just really really love his hands.

This is my life. Right here. If this is all I have, then I have everything.

See? Mountains, trees, water, life. Love.

I can't help but hope that someday Simeon's wife will love his hands as much as I love his dad's.
The next few pictures are just my attempts at being artsy-fartsy.