Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Top 12 Albums of 2012 (In Ten Words Or Less...)

As you will see from this list...I may not be as varied in my musical tastes as I once was but I think this is a good cross-section of what my listening ears are enjoying these days. Here are my Top 12 albums of 2012 (plus some honorable mentions thrown in at the end) in ten words or less.

If you are so inclined...I have created a public playlist on Spotify. Please listen and enjoy.

1. Some Nights - Fun.

 Simply that. Fun. that doesn't get old.

2. Babel - Mumford & Sons

Lyrical and percussive intrigue in every song.

3. Gossamer - Passion Pit

Sarcastic, cheeky, and will make you dance.

4. The Carpenter -  The Avett Brothers

Songs you can hang your hat on.

5. The Peace of Wild Things - Paper Route

Beautifully crafted electronic rock from another world. 

6. The Lumineers - The Lumineers

Just try NOT to sing along. 

7, The Temper Trap - The Temper Trap

Layered vocal styling and 80's beats combine for excellent listening. 

8. Port of Morrow - The Shins

As usual, they deliver intelligence via melody and harmony. 

9. Rooms Filled With Light - Fanfarlo

Slightly off the beaten path ala Beirut.

10. Battle Born - The Killers

Sweeping synths and anthems abound.

11. Bloom - Beach House

Ethereal ear candy that gets better each time you listen. 

12. Transitions - El Ten Eleven

Instrumental power duo...sounds like eleven.

Honorable Mentions: channel ORANGE - Frank Ocean, There's No Leaving Now - The Tallest Man On Earth, Blunderbuss - Jack White, Passion: White Flag - Passion

Thanks for your time and attention! Merry Christmas y'all!


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Excellent Ending (a day late)

Jadyn has been learning about how to write stories at school and she has taught me that each story needs a bold beginning, a mighty middle and an excellent ending. So although the end of November has left me exhausted with very little reserve this is my attempt at an excellent ending. 

Since I dedicated a day of thanks earlier this month to our newest family member I thought these last few days should be about the rest of the members of my little nuclear family. I couldn't be more thankful for the people God has placed nearest to heart.  I also could never say enough of my love for them so these will just be the briefest mentions of one thing I have come to appreciate about each of them.

Day 27- A High Maintenance Son

A few months into Isaiah's little life we realized that we had gotten a little more than we had bargained for. (It didn't help that Jadyn had been a "non-baby") He didn't sleep for the first 18 months of his life. He was what I described as "needy". He needed to be held, rocked, talked to, sang to, etc constantly. And now that he is 3 years old, he still needs to be held, rocked, talked to, sang to, etc at times and I love it (but he sleeps now praise God). I hope that as he grows he will continue to need me to show him love.

Day 28- A Super Sensitive Daughter

Jadyn may not have inherited very many of my physical genes but she has definitely inherited my emotional genes. Although at times it can be rough I am so thankful that she cares so deeply. I believe it makes her a compassionate and passionate little lady. It also means that I "get her" in a way that others don't. I hope to help cultivate this precious part of her as time goes on and not stifle it.

Day 29- An "All-In" Husband

If you've met my husband you know he doesn't generally do things half way. When he is into something, he is into it. This means that he is able to have intense focus on certain things and really excel at them. The focus has evolved since we met, going from music to sports to politics to inclusive thinking, with many things in between. Right now he is passionate about inclusive education and raising awareness as well as providing resources. If you haven't checked out his website you need to, right now. Think Inclusive 

Day 30- Last List of Love
people that have read my posts, commented on them and encouraged me to keep going, that Tim still makes me laugh out loud, new co-workers, my welcome back banner at work, limited time ice creams (like the peppermint one I just ate), shopping on-line, Christmas cards coming in the mail, when friends know exactly what you need without you having to tell them (thanks Erin), funny new sitcoms, my nativity collection, the smells of the season like our cinnamon broom and fresh cut Christmas tree, Advent season, Friday and Saturday movie nights at work complete with movie theater popcorn, good books that don't make me think too hard, kisses, fresh food, hot showers, my boots from Nashville, healthcare, electricity, cute cloth diaper covers, being tired enough to fall asleep right after my head hits the pillow, coming home from work thinking that I did good work for the evening, laughter   

I'm glad I had the opportunity to see this month through. I've learned a lot about seeing the good in things I wouldn't normally see the good in. I hope the things I've learned stick. I am happy to report that our daily thankfulness seems to have affected our children in a positive manner. Isaiah approached Imogen the other day and kissed her on the forehead, looked her in the eyes and said ever so softly "I'm thankful for you". What more could I ask for? May I learn from his example and tell the people in my life I am thankful for them right then and there, every day throughout the year.

The Finished Product

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to life, back to reality...

I started back to work this evening, so bitter sweet and so conflicting. But I'm not here to talk about that, only to mention it as an excuse for why this will be very brief and possibly incoherent at parts. I want to stay on track and finish out the month strong but I also want to get sleep. Being that it is 12:53 am, my goal is to be sound asleep by 1:30 am. So here goes.

Day 23- Mild Sickness

Thanksgiving night, the night before heading back from Nashville, Tim got sick. I call it a mild sickness because it wasn't lethal but I'm sure he wouldn't call it that. Why am I thankful my sweet husband got very ill? It reminded me how important he is. I depend on him for so many things. When he is out of commission I am at a loss. I was taught this right after Imogen was born and he came down with a mysterious virus but apparently I forgot the lesson quickly. I was reminded that I don't like this life all that much without him fully in it and I am far from super woman when he is not around. It also makes me so thankful for the women out there who do it alone all of the time, or much of the time like my friend Amy Johnson. They are rockstars and I don't hold a candle to them.

Day 24- My Home

I love vacations but I also love coming home. I sometimes have a love/hate relationship with owning my own home. It is a lot of work but there is nothing like coming home after a long drive to the familiar. I love how we've made it our own and used our spaces wisely and meaningfully. I love that we don't treasure it so much that we're afraid to paint words on our walls but that we also respect it enough to invest in major upkeep like our recent siding and gutter replacement. I love that after looking at houses all day back in May of 2008 we finally came to the last house on our list and it was the perfect fit. I hope to use our home even more in the New Year to benefit others, keep you posted on how that plays out.

Day 25- Family & Ancestry

I used to roll my eyes when my mom would try to tell me about my ancestry. Now, as I age and grow my family I am thankful for such an amazing heritage both Tim & I pass on to our children. I love the fact that we are adding to that. I love that I come from a long line of genius women and Jadyn is following right in those foot steps. I love that Tim has musicianship woven throughout his family history and Isaiah seems to have inherited that. I can't wait to see what parts of our lines Imogen manifests. I am thankful for our parents who have researched our family stories and have passed them on to us so we can pass them on to our little ones.

Day 26- Stretch Marks

Just the other day Jadyn was commenting on my stretch marks and I found myself not getting upset but instead telling her about them with pride (this is true). If you know me well you know this is no small feat. I explained to her that they went up to a certain point when I was pregnant with her and then grew a little more with Isaiah and even more with Imogen. (and yes, I tried magical cremes to no avail, it truly is in the genes). I remember the day clearly when I first realized I had stretch marks. Tim had been taking "belly shots" weekly through my pregnancy with Jadyn and it was about 39 weeks and I looked at the picture and yelled "when did those show up!". I had truly thought that I had made it through without stretch marks. Back then I was horrified, but now I'm just proud. And a bonus is that I have a great excuse never to wear a bikini again. The pressure is off.

And Nashville was a blast by the way, hopefully you got to see the pics from Facebook. If not, here are two of my favorite.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Confession Time

So I did not write this post today. I actually had the forethought to write it before we left on our trip knowing full well there was no way that I was going to be able to blog while on vacation and also knowing that I did not want to get too far behind as we finish out this month of Thankfulness. Go ahead, you can be impressed with me. I know I am.

Day 19- Consumerism
Since this is part of confession time, I have to admit I am really thankful for Target, the Mall (any one will do really), and shopping in general. I have a love/hate relationship with spending money that mostly comes from my inner struggles of what constitutes a real need and what is the most responsible way that need can be met. That being said I am a sucker for a great deal (not just a good deal mind you). I even like to window shop and "just look" a lot of the time. And as many other women (and some men I would guess) could attest to, there is something truly cathartic about shopping. I give thanks for the healing it brings during a tough week and for the jobs it provides.

Day 20- Another Stream (remember every 10 days I get to stop being Thankful for the hard things and just let loose)
Jadyn's artwork, Imogen's face when she sleeps, Imogen's face when she laughs, Isaiah's kisses (if you haven't had one you need to try it), backrubs from Tim, oversized hooded sweatshirts(usually Tim's), milkshakes with chunks of candy bars in them, Isaiah singing, a fresh haircut, health of myself, Tim and our children, electricity, freedom, egg nog, a good sitcom or drama on TV, rom-coms, being comfortable enough around someone to say most of what's on my mind, thoughtful and heartfelt gifts, dinners with neighbors, a full calendar, a not-so-full calendar, that I'm old enough to have nephews and nieces, friends who feel like family, our refrigerator magnet collection, clean water, pajamas, time away from home with family...more on the 30th

Day 21- Starbucks
I really should curse them since they end up with more of my money than I'd like. BUT, it does make my heart so happy when I get to drink a salted caramel mocha OR an egg nog latte OR a caramel apple cider OR....OK the list could truly go on and on. I know I shouldn't spend as much of our hard earned cash on such a trifle but I am thankful that I get to, especially during the wintry season when a delicious hot drink can change a day from hopeless to full of possibilities.

Day 22- Grocery Baggers & Checkers
Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm not sure if I just didn't pay attention before or if it is just different here in Georgia but my grocery shopping experiences are often the most pleasant experiences of my week. At the Publix grocery store right next to our house many of the checkers and baggers there know my family and I. They have seen Isaiah grow up and Imogen come into this world and they ask how the kids are doing. They notice when I change my hair color and they always ask if they can help me out to the car. And sometimes I let them. I understand that a lot of that they are required to do for the job, but it doesn't feel that way which means they are very good at what they do. When we first moved here it would drive me crazy how much small talk occured in the check out line but it has slowly become one of my favorite things.

We are having a blast on our trip. Hopefully you've been able to see some of the pics on Facebook. Wishing you all a Thanksgiving that fills your hearts with gladness and your bellies with goodness!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eking It Out

As this month progresses it seems to become harder and harder to do this. This is not because there is nothing to be thankful for but because time has become very precious as we come to the end of my maternity leave. We head to Nashville tomorrow for the break and then I start back to work one week after that. It blows my mind and fills me with a sense of excitement and extreme sadness. So here are a few work related thanks.

Day 15- Evening Shift
I truly am thankful that I work the evening shift at my job. There is a whole lot that I don't like about it but that's not the point of this thankfulness exercise so here are the things I love about it.
-It's not night shift (3:15-11:45p is doable)
-It is my most alert and productive time of day
-There seem to be less politics and I feel I have more autonomy
-The people who work this shift tend to be the younger crowd, they keep me fresh
-I get to be home with my kids during the day when they are young
-A lot of the fun thunder storms happen at this time and we have an amazing "sky light" in our lobby
-I get to put my patients to bed and they look like angels when I'm leaving as they sleep
-Totally against traffic

Day 16- Arrangement
Tim & I have a working arrangement that may not be ideal but I believe is the absolute best for our family at this time. He works during the day at a job he loves, is gifted in and excels at while I stay home with the littlest of our little people. Then we do the "hand off" as we literally have 10 minutes to go over our days and then I pass the parenting torch off to him as I head in to work the evening shift. This is good for us in many ways especially in that we both get a chance to parent our kids 1:1 (or 1:2, 1:3). This set up also opens up our budget since we are not having to pay for childcare and those precious resources can be used elsewhere. Lastly, we both get to do what we feel called to alongside raising our sweet children. And yes, the time we have together just Tim & I is rare but it helps us to cherish it all the more for now and look forward to when that time will be abundant instead of scarce.

Day 17- The Brain
As I was coming towards the end of nursing school I thought I had made a huge mistake. It wasn't that I didn't feel competent doing the job, it's just that I didn't seem to like it all that much. That was until I hit my psychiatric rotation. As I watched a schizophrenic woman do the cha-cha for what was probably the hundredth time that day before she sat down (she was compelled to do it with any change in position) something woke up in my soul. I knew these were my kind of people and I loved them. As I've moved further into the world of mental health I continue to be fascinated with the mind and how mysterious it is. I love that God has made these people so special and that He allows me to see the potential that He sees. It is a privilege to be able to try to help those afflicted with mental illness in their times of crisis and if I can't help to just show them they are loved and cared for.

Day 18- Holiday Traveling
Many people would not have this on their lists of things to be thankful for but I guess I'm not those people. I love holiday traveling first and foremost because I rarely get to do it. When you work in certain fields, nursing being one of them, holidays are just another day to work. It is hard to get time off during the holidays and so, more often than not, we end up just staying close to home. Thanks to the birth of my 3rd being when it was I was able to stretch out my maternity leave to just past Thanksgiving. So of course we are headed out. We are taking a road trip to Nashville with my Mom and brother and sister. My sister is checking out Vanderbilt and we (as in Tim really) have been dying to go to Nashville. I have many a happy memory of family road trips despite all the craziness that went along with most of those trips. I love being able to create those kind of memories in my own family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The First Quad

Up until this post I had been tackling three days at once but things were a little busy around here (and will be from here on out) so I've bumped it up to four. Here goes...

Day 11- Charity

Our church is ALWAYS asking for something and I am truly thankful that they do. I mentioned Northstar briefly in my day one post. Both Tim & I have been a part of and visited a wide array of churches (really great churches and some not so great) and we can honestly say that this church is the most "out reaching" church we have been a part of (if that makes sense). Almost every day they provide opportunities for you to give and serve. It might be time, money, diapers, food, backpacks, lunches for school kids, scarves and hats, baked goods and the list goes on and on. They are always practical things and more often than not benef those right here in our community.

There are many reasons we stay at this church rather than being a part of some of the other really great options in this area but this is the number one reason. The church functions to serve the community rather than itself and that feels right to us.

This last week we finished up our boxes for Operation Christmas Child and also our Thanksgiving dinner bags. We get the kids involved and they love it.

Day 12- Diego & Dora

I confess that I let my children watch more television than I believe to be ideal (especially Isaiah in recent weeks). I won't give my sob story of why I think this is necessary in my life at this point but only tell you that sometimes I need a nap.  So...Dora and Diego entertain my child(ren) while I rest (along with a smattering of other shows including but not limited to My Little Pony, Yo Gabba Gabba, Backyardigans, Wonder Pets, and Dinosaur Train ) I am thankful that since I feel the need to utilize the television that there are these wonderful and educational programs that I can opt for. My kids are constantly telling me about stuff that I know I didn't teach them but they have absorbed from these shows. I could be shamed by this but instead I choose to be grateful.

Day 13- In Laws

Yep, I'm thankful for my In-Laws...all of them. There have been some amazing people that have been added to my life through marriages. This has ranged from my own husbands family (Papa Mike, Nana Ivy & Raymond, Selena and all the extended Villegas and Murillo sides) to brothers and sisters in-law (Adam & Veronica), and even the aunts, uncles and cousins in-law if you can call them that (too many to list). I love the diversity it has added to my life and our families.  I love all the new things I learn from these people. I love how they become family in my heart even more and more as time passes.

Day 14- Being Stretched

Today I am thankful for opportunities that force me to "be stretched". Believe it or not I have a very small "comfort zone" generally speaking. I'm shy even though I try to present as out going. I'm often insecure though I try to present as self-assured. I don't like things that mess up my schedule. I don't like getting out of my pajamas before I'm ready and on and on and on.  But there are times when I go ahead and choose the uncomfortable route and more often than not I'm glad I did.

Tonight I'm thankful that we drove longer than we normally would have on a school night to go to the house of a couple we just met to be a part of a group to discuss intimate issues including family, marriage, God and other such things.

Since the end of our last group that we had been with for 3+ years I have been reluctant to be a part of something like that again. Having to start fresh, to be vulnerable and get to know people again has not sounded appealing to me. But my friend Liz encouraged us to come and I'm really glad she did.
I'd like to think that these times of validation will encourage me in the future to choose the uncomfortable and be stretched. How else can I truly grow?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Third of the Way There

(this title is in homage to my Dad who used to say that to us on every road trip if we ever asked "are we almost there?")

Day 8- Houseplants

When we rented our little home in Altadena, CA one of the things I cherished was having a gardener. I've never had much of a green thumb (that's Tim's specialty). When we bought our home here in GA we decided that we would do the yard, lawn, plant, etc maintenance ourselves to save money. It has been quite the learning curve and I have learned to truly love our outdoors but I think it is still Tim's forte. BUT, the indoors are all mine. Thanks to inspirations from the Botan and Lowes clearance section our house is now it's own mini "garden". It helps the air and it helps my soul. I've had some casualties as I've learned what likes to live in my house and what doesn't but here is a snapshot of what's thriving today.

Day 9- Geek Friends for my Husband

Hopefully this will not be taken the wrong way but I am SO thankful for men in my husbands life that he can just "geek out" with. Geek here is being defined as "A person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest". You'll be hearing more about this amazing man in my life in the days to come but today I am thankful for the people in his life that help him obsess on his passions. Some examples of this are music with Marco and Naveen (although they may refer to themselves as music snobs instead of geeks), sports with Scott, technology with Micky, and politics and theology with Lee (though it's been awhile) to name a few. You men make my "geeky" husband happy and that makes me happy.

Day 10- Self-indulgent day

So if you've been following these posts since the beginning of November you know I'm trying to find things every day that I wouldn't normally think of first when "counting my blessings". But I figure every tenth day I can just let loose. So here goes

Tim (duh), Jadyn, Isaiah, Imogen, my parents and siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and all other family, friends that are like family, making new friends, sunshine, fall smells and colors and tastes, naps, music but especially with a good drum beat or handclap, a good cry, a shower all by myself that is uninterrupted, my sofa, salted caramel mochas, my yellow front door, vacations, the new unplugged venue at church, ice cream, pictures, connecting with people, letters in the mail and packages, my job, my education, books, pancakes, my baby's new laugh, other cultures, our map of the world, fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate, crisp mornings, an open field, chicken biscuits from Mountain Biscuit, camping, our cars, scripture, gourds of all colors, the artwork in my home, back rubs, health (mental and physical), pants that fit just right, incredible wealth, people I want to end up like (Miss Tricia), my phone, household conveniences like my washer and dryer and dishwasher, the wildlife in our backyard, routine, serving others with my family, the crazy things my kids say, really liking the person I'm married to, where I live, where I've come from.

OK, I better stop there so there will be more for days 20 and 30 but how's that for stream of consciousness. I just had to get it out of my system.

And I leave you with an update of our thankfulness tree.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Unexpected, Diversity & Storms

Day 5- Unexpected Major Life Changes
I wrote a few blog posts ago here about how Imogen came to be a part of our family.
Often when I would casually mention to people that the pregnancy was an unexpected one they would launch into their own stories of unexpected children and how they were the "biggest blessing".  I would listen graciously and then turn away and roll my eyes because of course that's what people have to tell you when you're lamenting to them about the seeming wrench in what you thought was your life plan. BUT I have to concede, despite how cliche they all sounded (and I now sound), that they were right. I am SO thankful for this little girl.
I prayed hard before she joined our family that God knew what He was doing because I was sure that He did not. Even this early on in Imogen's life God is showing me that He does know what He's doing and what a gift He has given me in her. For example. she gives me this face not only once a day but hundreds of times a day and has been since day two.
Seriously, can you stand it???

(I am not exaggerating, she has been "real smiling" since her first week of life. By the third child you can tell a real smile from those gas smiles.) She sleeps like a dream for us and looks like an angel while doing it. She is goofy and fun and beautiful with her wild hair and grey eyes (for now).
My heart is over full with aching love once again and so I give thanks that the unexpected is possible despite my Type A personality planning and attempts at total control over this life of mine.

Day 6- Diversity In The People In My Life
Be it friends, co-workers, family or just people I run into frequently I appreciate and give thanks for the diversity. There is diversity of thought, background, ideas and ways of living. If I had my way I would be surrounded by people who looked at life like I did and lived like I did but how would I learn, grow or be stretched without different kinds of people around me to inspire me, challenge the way I think or just give me a different perspective. It is often hard for me to give thanks and appreciate this, but today especially (election day) I choose to give thanks for the differences.

Day 7- Storms
I am not talking about metaphorical "storms in our lives" and definitely not about "super storms". Hurricane Sandy has just ravaged the east coast like many other hurricanes have done to other areas before it. These storms I do not give thanks for.
I am talking about storms like the beautiful rainstorm we had today with the sudden downpours and smatterings of thunder and lightening. I am like a giddy little school girl when we have rain, thunder and lightening (or even a little hail). I tend to squeal a bit (ask my co-workers). Perhaps it comes from a life lived in southern California where thunder and lightening are akin to unicorns, practically mythical creatures. I just love the raw power of a mild storm and how it generally refreshes things, helps keep things growing and sends a little thrill throughout me. It's been a little over four years now and that thrill hasn't worn off and I'm hoping it never does.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Aging, Distance & the Interweb

Day 2: Aging
When I was studying the older adult population in nursing school they had us participate in a mental exercise that almost sent me into a full blown panic attack. The instructor told us to close our eyes and imagine ourselves at age 30, 40, 50 and so on. I think I barely made it to 40 before I began hyperventilating. I just could not wrap my brain around the idea of being older than my parents (at the time). Now I am less than a decade away from 40 and it's not at all how I pictured it. I still fear much that comes with getting older but am so very thankful for the place I have come to in my life so far. Examples?
-I am now one of the more experienced nurses at my place of work instead of the one the doctors confuse the adolescent patients with
-I worry less about making every person happy (because I've learned no matter what I do I can't)
-I am more forgiving toward myself (never before would I have allowed a picture of myself without make-up, sticking out my tongue and showcasing all my wrinkles to be front and center on my personal website)
-I feel more at peace in general
-I have been able to keep and cultivate the things that matter and let go of the things that don't (always a work in progress)
-I still learn new things but now they are the things I want to learn about instead of the things I have to learn about
-I look forward to what the next decade will bring and then the one after that and so on (no more hyperventilation)

Day 3: Distance
Our move to Georgia rocked my world and still does. We moved away from almost every person that was dear to me, that I relied on, and that I needed. After 4 plus years it is still one of the hardest things but here are some examples of things I am thankful for with the distance.
-my best friend Erin & I get to have Skype dates frequently. Hours of conversation, generally with a glass of wine in hand. They are honest and real and essential to my survival
-we carve out a few weeks each summer to "go home" for vacation and spend some concentrated time with our loved ones
-family takes vacations to see us and spend concentrated time with us. This was most recently my sister Tiffany, her husband Adam and my nephew Caleb (and that was Adam & Tiff's third time out to Georgia!)
-it has forced us to be more intentional in our relationships (not take them for granted) and has revealed the ones that matter most and will last despite the distance

Day 4: the Interweb
How else could I video conference with friends and family, check facebook to see what EVERYONE is up to, look up anything I want on Wikipedia, get inspired by other blogs, websites, Pinterest, check the weather and read news from sources all around the world. That's obviously just a smattering of things I do on the internet. Sure, there is a lot of bad that has come from the rise of the internet but for me the good has outweighed it and I would be lost without the world wide web.
Here are a few links to some sites you might want to check out that I like to look at frequently (aside from the blogroll on our front page).
Relevant Magazine  entertainment pieces, thought pieces, theology pieces...good reads
Acts  World Vision's activism page
100 Days of Real Food good whole foods recipes

PS- the thankfulness tree is already starting to look amazing

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Not something I like to do in general. In this case though, I have a feeling it's going to be a good decision. Thanks to a few facebook buddies (Kelly Mellen in particular) I was challenged to participate in 30 Days of Thankfulness.

Last month I discovered a gem of a book and blog called This Ordinary Adventure written by the Jeskes which I highly recommend. I was needing some inspiration in a bad way and got it in droves. They have a thing called "Amazing Days" and challenged people for the month of October to live out 31 Amazing Days. You'll have to read for yourself but their definition of "amazing" is very loose. They basically encourage you not to try to be "amazing" but to recognize the "amazing" in each day. I jumped on that bandwagon a little late in the month but this exercise will be a natural extension of that way of thinking and living.

My challenge to myself this month is to recognize something each day that I wouldn't initially say I'm thankful for but in reality I truly am (see more below).

My challenge for our family was to name something we are thankful for each day and write it down. We created our own version of a thankfulness tree and started it tonight from branches in our backyard and leaves cut out from construction paper. (Our pumpkins are still alive and well as you can see but Tim has some pumpkin chunkin plans for tomorrow.)
A little bare now but will look amazing by the end of the month

On our leaves tonight you ask???
Tim: that mommy (that's me) is home (for now)
Briahnna: a heater that works in 30 degree weather (this SoCal girl likes to be cozy in the mornings)
Jadyn: a delicious dinner (I cooked so that made me happy because we all know Tim is the chef)
Isaiah: that hurricane Sandy wasn't as bad as it could have been (he didn't come up with that on his own, his sister gave him the idea)

I won't be posting every day, but frequently I hope. And they won't be as long as this one (you can breathe a sigh of relief) or necessarily written beautifully or even grammatically correct for that matter. But I hope to finish out the month with an understanding of just how good life is and share it with you. So here goes.

Day One: I am thankful that I live in Georgia. If you know me you know this is often a hard thing for me to say and to really mean. So why am I thankful to live in Georgia?
~Because we are able to own an amazing home with amazing neighbors like the Jayasekars and the Newlands.
~Because we get to have jobs doing things we are passionate about and feel called to AND work with incredible people (too numerous to list but you at Kincaid and Ridgeview know who you are). ~Because our kids can be in class sizes under 30 students (for now).
~Because there are actual seasons, Fall is my favorite.
~Because we found a church Northstar that is the most giving church we have ever been a part of and through our time there have met our substitute family in people like the Furrs, Kaisers, Nelsons, Kibbes, Torberts, Fishers, and Kehlers.
~Because I met my MNO buddies Carrie and Emily (also GA transplants)
~Because I get to live closer to my Mom and Avalon and Gabriel than I can ever remember being

I know there are probably many other reasons but it's almost midnight and my brain is getting foggy so I'll end this here and hope that as others have inspired me this will inspire you (if even just for this moment) to take stock and be thankful.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

And then there were five...

Plus a dog of course. And the dog should not be discounted since I believe the dog is having the hardest time transitioning to our new status of "family of five" and thus making it extra difficult on the rest of us. Just ask Jadyn's hairbrush, Isaiah's cup, and Papa Jim's sunglasses which have all met their demise at the teeth of Sherlock along with countless other items since the arrival of Imogen Marielle.

And we're back to the point of this post...Imogen.

The back story you ask? Christmas Eve 2011, the test has a plus sign. Despite us having decided that a family of four was just right. Despite the fact that we had just finished donating all our baby stuff (crib excepting). Despite the fact that adding a new member to the family meant a HUGE wrench in our over-all timeline (you know, since we have control over that sort of thing). And still, there it was, that plus sign. Deep breaths and lots of "but Lord".

Fast forward to now (we'll skip all the fun details of morning sickness, a car accident resulting in a totaled vehicle, pre-term labor, etc.) and this beautiful little person has entered our lives. Imogen Marielle. Despite my attempts to pretend all of this wasn't happening (for a very long time), and despite my total lack of enthusiasm, she came.

And now I'm home (this is Briahnna of course), with time (in between feedings and rockings and cleaning and loving two other children plus a maybe not that much time) to re-evaluate. To take a step back and consider what this means for our family, for myself. This seeming disruption in my timeline may be my redemption. Maybe this timeline is the one that leads to the world becoming better instead of leading to destruction (can you tell I'm a sci-fi fan?...any Fringe watchers out there?)

I do believe that things happen with purpose and I'm hoping during these next few weeks of maternity leave I'll have time to really explore that. Maybe it's as easy as Imogen is going to do something amazing and my job is to love her in preparation for that.

In any case, I also plan to revive this website since it has been growing cobwebs for awhile now, thanks for listening and please join me in welcoming the newest miracle on earth....Imogen ("Immy" for short).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Proposal (30/30)

Most likely you have to be from California to recognize the reference to the Getty. It is an art museum that opened while Briahnna and I used to live in SoCal and it probably is one of the most beautiful places in the world (especially on a clear day).

It was getting close to our first year anniversary and I was ready to pop the question. In fact...I had been feverishly working on my special project.  I had the ring (an english poesy ring that Katy was so kind enough to drop a hint) and a carved wood box with about 100 slips of paper of all the things I loved about B written on them. The ring was to be nestled in the middle of all the rolled up pieces of paper (they looked like little scrolls).

I even knew I wanted to do it at the Getty (but had not picked out my spot yet).

What I did not plan for was our actual one year anniversary.We were going out that night and on my way home from work...I picked up a card, some flowers and a bottle of ginger ale (because I had drank all of hers the night before). I must admit that looking was a pretty boneheaded move. Imagine my surprise when she pulls out a journal where she chronicled the past year with little vignettes and special moments we had together. I was beautiful. I on the other hand felt like a heel. I knew that in just a few short days...I would be asking Briahnna to marry me but for that moment...I had to live through the disappointment I caused.

At least I picked out a cool restaurant. It was a little place called Bahooka in Rosemead next to where my parents used to live when they were first married. It was always a place where my family celebrated big occasions so I was carrying the torch.

After getting past the initial hurt feelings...dinner was excellent and I was ready to finish out my plan.

A few days later I had my friend Jeff drive me to the Getty and I picked out the perfect spot to propose (see the 1st picture in the post). It had a view of the gardens and Santa Monica beach (see 2nd picture in post).

Jeff later helped me surprise her by dropping me off at her work (UCLA) and I used her car to drive over to the Getty. We made it up to the balcony area and I knelt down on one knee and asked her to marry me (probably in front of some Chinese tourists). She said yes...and the rest is really history.

I know this is my 30th post...but there are so many more things I could write about Briahnna, us, and our family. When you take all the little moments that happen and piece them all together you get a really extraordinary thing (a life). It has been an unbelievable pleasure to be a part of B's life for nearly a decade. I know there will be many more memories in store for us.

This is for you my darling. Happy 33rd Birthday! I love you immensely.

Your Tim

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mall Rat/Deal Shopper Extraordinaire (29/30)

Something you may know about us... we like to hang out at the mall.

In fact, on days when we have nothing to do...sometimes we like to walk around the mall and just window shop. Including people watch. This was true even before kids. On a side note...Briahnna is a huge fan of Cinnabon which are often located at the mall. Even on our recent trip to California we hung out at some of the more famous high-end outdoor malls in Los Angeles. This is probably totally uncool to you...but it turns out to be a safe and fun place for us.

Above all of this is Briahnna's uncanny ability to sniff out a deal. She is the queen of the clearance racks/aisles. We can be anywhere and if we are not getting at least 50% of something...B is not really happy with the purchase. This is something I really appreciate about her because while I like to take my time with a purchase...Briahnna can really score some good finds. This is especially true with the groceries. She has been the main grocery buyer since we got married but in the last 5-6 years she has also become quite adept at using coupons. You know...the "I took 75% off my grocery bill" coupon stories. This is something that I just don't have the focus to I am very thankful to my wife for being so good at what she does...

And of course that she loves a good mall...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Geo-momma (28/30)

File under...adventurous momma. One of our hobbies is geocaching. If you are not is the link ( Here is B with a Batman and Robin theme "cache" that she and Jadyn found in a hole in the side of a dirt wall.

This is my last photo entry. The last few will be longer.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

See-food (27/30)

At Joe's Crab Shack...

One of B's favorite thing is seafood. Specifically crab... Something about her and food that takes lots of effort to eat. The same thing goes with artichokes. Deliciousness...

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Year's Day (26/30)

Also...a favorite photo of mine. Taking a walk on the first day of 2012. Lots of personality in this group right here. I wonder where the kids get it from...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Katy (25/30)

Such a beautifully mundane moment in Phoenix, AZ.  The person in the background was one of B's most beloved friends and college roomates (she was quite special to both of us).  She passed in January of 2006 due to her battle with cancer. Kaite undoubtedly changed B's life with her example of living and loving like Christ. We can only hope that we can follow her example.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

City Slicking (24/30)

This was taken at the Los Angeles Farmer's Market on Fairfax. One our favorite places to people watch. We also loved to hang out at the Grove (super posh outdoor shopping area) that was right next to it.  She is always game to explore our local environs. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Caddy (23/30)

During an anniversary  trip up to San Simeon, CA we scheduled a round of golf for me at a course that had great off-season rates (see brown fairways). Briahnna was a trooper and served as my chauffeur and caddy.  She looks pretty good behind that wheel.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bo-tan (22/30)

Love this one. I don't even know why Briahnna has a surprised look on her face...but believe me...there are always lots of surprises when we are together. This was taken at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2011.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

iMac (21/30)

Before Briahnna, I was a PC/Windows person. Since we have been married...we have bought almost exclusively Apple. This was our office/workstation at our first apartment in Pasadena. I know you can only see a sliver of the iMac but...don't we take a pretty good picture?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

St. Paul (20/30)

This is B on top of St. Paul's Cathedral in London...we had just hoofed it to the top and were taking a much needed rest (as well as enjoying the view). London...still one of our favorite places.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tom's Favorite (19/30)

Around my work Briahnna is known for her baking prowess. This includes her butterscotch/chocolate chip cookies. One of the paraprofessionals I work with at Kincaid practically begs B to make them every year. She is happy to comply.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Teeth (18/30)

One of the more famous Briahnna faces. As I was perusing the photos this one came up more than once.  She's got some spunk...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Puzzler (17/30)

Briahnna loves has been a long time since we had the time/room to work on a large puzzle together but this is how us young marrieds tackled a night in Pasadena before the kiddos came around. By the way...she also loves Boggle (aka Scramble), Sudoku, and it is/was (probably still is) to finish a LA Times Sunday Crossword puzzle in one day. Love that woman.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our First Baby (16/30)

Our first baby. This is Dante our first dog (Italian Greyhound) who is 8 weeks old in this picture. Briahnna (and me) would love to take naps with our doggie. This is one of the more special photographs. This photo project is turning out to be too much fun.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Date Night (15/30)

One of my favorite pics of Briahnna (you have seen this on her Facebook profile). We ate at Red Sky Tapas Bar (not topless bar) and dreamed...planned...and reminisced. Those are usually the best dates.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Inception...Blog Edition (14/30) we prepare for our California trip...I am up against a time crunch. Here is what I am going to do...

I will be posting a series of photos for the next couple of weeks as we are on vacation (a series within a series) with only a few sentence commentary (twitter length).

Here is the first one... Just like this one because my kids can't stand to be away for their Mommy. We met B for dinner at her work last night.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Weeding (13/30)

Today the family did some yard work. And my wonderful all her pregnant glory was out there with the rest of us pulling, chopping, pruning and clearing. Even in midst of the chaos of getting ready for our trip she is ready to work...not to mention she is at work right now. Thank God it is the last day before she is off before our trip.

We have talked about how weeding is a good spiritual does not take long for things to get out of hand if you are not willing to do some maintenance. Very thankful for this reminder.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Morning Person (12/30)

It is funny that I am writing this post on a day that Briahnna is working the day shift (working a double) and actually got up earlier than I did...but here it goes anyways.

Normally, Briahnna is not a morning person.

We do not have your typical schedules...and because we work opposite schedules (I work days and Briahnna works the evenings) we don't have to have any childcare.

So when you add up the time that we are actually together...B and is not a whole lot. We have to make our time together count and with everything that we have to do it can be a challenge. The truth is that Briahnna gets the short end of the stick. She has had to work every Friday night for the past four years. Because I have a staff meeting after school every Tuesday...B chose to take her days off on Tuesday and Wednesday. This creates a problem with schedules and routines coupled with her working every other weekend. I know it gets confusing to try and plan anything with our friends.

We thought that there was a light at the end of the tunnel because Isaiah will be turning 3 this September and we could think about what B was going to do when the kids became school age. Now that numero tres is coming...the clock has started over.  I think it has taken some time to make an adjustment mentally to what this will mean for our family.

All I know is that Briahnna is a rockstar for continuing with our schedule the way that it is...she cares about our family and we all have become stronger for it.

Oh Briahnna is not a morning person. Definitely a night owl...I am fast asleep by the time she is starting to get tired. Me on the other to get up early and enjoy the stillness of the morning. Suffice it to say...our schedule is not for everyone but I am happy to be on such a great team with my wife.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guns N' Roses (11/30)

Okay...picture this.

It is 2002...out on my first date with Briahnna. I have my CD player that is connected to my truck stereo via tape adapter (incidentally - still using the tape adapter for my iPhone).

What CD do I bring that will surely impress her?

Why Appetite for Destruction (Guns N' Roses) of course...

Here are the ones we keep coming back to.  Briahnna has told me on more than one occasion that my choice of music sealed the deal.



In the words of the always articulate Axel Rose:

"Now and then when I see her face

She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o' mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Good, The True, and The Beautiful (10/30)

The Good
The True
The Beautiful

If you only knew how hard it was to get these pictures centered and in the right order. 

When Briahnna graduated from Torry...they gave her a ring with these three words on it. Last year when we were in major reevaluation mode we decided to put things on our walls to remind us what was important. I say we...but this was definitely Briahnna's idea.  She strategically placed them in our foyer/entrance area on each portal. The Good/Bonum (pointing to our main living area...hopefully because good stuff was going on and a place where people could come and feel loved), The True/Veritas (pointing to our library - the little library as our kids like to say - hopefully to show that the search for truth resides in scholarship and the words written on the pages in our library) and The Beautiful/Pulcher (pointing to the outside or God's creation). 

I thought it was genius...which is often the case when I speak of my wife. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Garden States (9/30)

Did you know there is a botanical garden at UCLA?

Yeah...I didn't think so.

Here it is:  Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens

This is special...because when Briahnna worked at UCLA's psych hospital she showed me this very cool and hidden place. In the middle of a University a place of serenity. On more than one occasion we strolled and talked with coffees in hand.

To this day we like gardens. B and I have had many conversations about where we really see God. Being outside...within natural beauty. Even more sometime than the pages of His Word.

This botanical garden was also the place I hung out just before that fateful day I picked B up from work to go to the Getty.  I'll save that for another post though.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Boxing Day (8/30)

One of my favorite moments at out wedding. was staged but the sentiment sticks with me to this day.  You have to  be willing to lose. Sometimes even lose badly. have to be willing to fight. I am not good as this...the losing or the fighting really.

Briahnna is a born fighter. But not in sinister the best way. A prize fighter way. It goes along with her commitment for excellence I believe. She fights for what she believes our marriage. When things get a little stagnant and we have not connected in a while. She fights for us. Another lesson that I need to learn. I am very much a status quo kinda takes considerable energy to fight and I often let it go for too long.

As far as this picture goes...our photographer (Jerry - loved that guy) wanted to set this photo up. I thought it was brilliant. I love that our wedding party is behind us cheering us on...cause we can't do it have to have support. Thank God that we have had it and I pray we will continue to have it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Moving to Georgia (7/30)

I have eluded to this in the previous posts but it was not Briahnna's idea to move to Georgia. Many people assume that B was the one who wanted to move closer to her Mom...while it was a selling point...the catalyst was me and planting the seed after our second visit to the Peach State. There are a couple different reasons why we moved...if you want to hear the long story you can look here.

Now...I am not perfect. There are lots of things I want to work on in my life and one of them is starting things (or initiating things) for our family. B has mentioned to me that Georgia was something that I pushed and pursued and she did have to lead as we moved out here.

I hope that I have learned some lessons along the way about leading our family. I know that it is what we both want for our family.  I don't foresee us going anywhere else in the near future but I know how it works...there may be something else out there for us that God has prepared...we just don't know what it is yet. For now...B and I will continue to miss home and love the experiences we have had here in Atlanta.

I am so glad I am married to someone who is willing to take a chance for our family.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hair (6/30)

In case you did not know...

I have not paid for a haircut in at least 9 years...probably 10.

You may did you accomplish this feat? Well...something you may not know about my lovely wife is that not only does she cut her own hair 99% of the time...she also cuts everyone else's in the family.

I suppose this is not a huge revelation to some of you but I think it is pretty cool. The fact that she is confident enough to cut our hair and that she has been so consistent over the course of our marriage. She started the practice before we met but I have been the main beneficiary.

There is something pretty cool about trusting someone to cut your hair...whether on purpose or has encouraged this in our relationship.

Speaking of haircuts...think I will be ready for one soon.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pinning Ceremony (5/30)

Briahnna might be the best nurse ever...

No seriously. Not even joking.

Everywhere she has worked...and I have been there since the beginning...has given her accolades, awards, raises and of course more responsibility.

I am proud to say that I was able to see her pinning ceremony at BIOLA (enemy territory - see 3/30 post) and subsequently see her receive her VW Golf at the same time. She literally was floored...I think I have a picture. But she absolutely deserved it...just like she deserves to be esteemed everywhere she has worked.

At her current position...she has created special projects, helping with the facility's nursing blog and is always getting called in to take more shifts. She manages people very well (something I admire very much about her)...which is why they keep talking to her about future management opportunities. Of course she doesn't want it because she likes to be in the thick of things and not lose touch with the patients.

As with teaching...nursing is collaborative and a practice and you have to like people (or you should). I am glad that B continues to love her job and not only use it as part of her ministry but that she can be such an example of excellence to others (and to me).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TV (4/30)

Okay...enough of the deep stuff.

Here is another reason why I love my wife.

We like the same TV shows. Superfical? Shallow? Maybe... Essential? Absolutely!

Here are a smattering of what we are watching now.








You get the idea...if you ever want to nerd out and chat us up about any of these are most welcome.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rivals (3/30)

Some of you may know that B and I went to rival universities.

Out of all the rivalries...I suppose it is pretty tame (except if you are talking about Basketball). Briahnna attended Biola Univeristy in La Mirada, CA a private Christian liberal arts college and was enrolled in the Torrey Honors Institute (which would take a whole blog post to describe). Basically...the smart kids. I went to Azusa Pacific University and according to Biolans the among the heathens of Christian college students (you know all of our loose theology). :)

The reason I bring this up is because I am the first to admit I married up. :) In might actually cause me to live longer. Having similar college experiences has been important for our relationship since the way we interact with knowledge and truth informs us when we are working something out in our own faith journey. B is a constant inspiration as we try to follow the heart of God and love people like He loves us. The last couple years especially.

I should be more intentional...I should be more of the spiritual leader in the house...I should be more present with our family. Briahnna encourages me to be the man she knows that I can be. goes with marrying a smart women. The man that I am reflects the support that I receive at home from Briahnna.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cake Pops (Day 2/30) no attention to the boy who has his arm around my daughter...not the focus of this post. The cake pops are (or more cream cone cake pops).  I was reminded of something today when Briahnna dropped them off...

B doesn't do things half-way. If we are going to bring special treats for Jadyn's unbirthday party at school...then we are going BRING them. :) was Jadyn's idea but this is one of the things that I love about my wife...she is not afraid to try something difficult. We like to say we are a little "risky".

I believe it was before we were actually married but I remember sitting with her as she did some health risk assessment. Something you engage in "risky" behavior and they gave a bunch of different examples... To our surprise we were both labeled as risky. I would like to think that "risky" is the same attribute that allowed Briahnna to be convinced to move across the country to Georgia...or to get a tattoo that really meant something to her "de profundis"...or to get a dog right before the birth of our third child. Nevertheless...I was reminded that I value B's risk taking adventurous self...because after is a grand adventure.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

30 Days of Briahnna (Day One)

So today is exactly 30 days from Briahnna's 33rd birthday (sorry's out of the bag). This year I have decided to start my gift a little early and attempt something that seems like a rite of passage for some bloggers. The 30 days of...(fill in the blank) series.

The next thirty days (up until B's big day) I will be blogging about her. This really is not hard to do...I feel  like I have lots of wonderful things to say about my amazing wife...the mother of my two children and soon to be third child! Whhhaaaaat!?! (Said with Shawn and Gus emphasis)

Let's start at the beginning shall we?

The day I first met B. You may have heard the story before. I was going to see my roommate's band (Misc. X) play at a club "the Garage" in Silverlake, CA (really hip part of Los Angeles - Beck lives(ed) there you know). I came with my other roommates who also happened to be in a band at the time (my band Paloma). Briahnna was with her roommates (one of who was dating the guitar player of Misc. X - my roommate). Are you following? The place was an absolute dive and there were rumors of weed being available via the sound guy...of course I didn't! Anyways...I spied her amidst her friends and they were talking about her interview at UCLA for a nursing position. She was very positive that she got the job and was in a celebratory mood. Besides just because gorgeous...she was filled with self-confidence and a sense of purpose. Someone who knew where they were going. We struck up a conversation at the end of the night and I told her that I worked with children with special needs as a one-on-one therapist. She told me about her half-brother who was autistic.

It was one of those the time everyone was ready to leave...we were still talking. I left the club and could not stop thinking about her. I totally remember...being totally consumed with wanting to know everything about her (her likes/dislikes) and I made it my mission to find out. I know our friends made fun  of us that night but I felt not embarrassment.  I knew I had found someone special...turns out very special indeed.