Friday, December 31, 2010

Blessings Abound

Sam and I had a great time away for Christmas!  Time with the Swensons was really fun (as always) and we wish we didn't all live in different states so that we could see them more often.  We had a lot of fun with Wyatt especially, who entertained us all with his growling and happy disposition.  I, personally, am also rather thankful for Sara's cute curly brown hair!  Now I'm not the only one without straight blond hair.  :)  We got to have a big family portrait session with Tim and Shayne, so we're excited to see how those pictures turned out.  Most likely we got some ridiculous ones, which is awesome.  I'll put up some of those once we get to see them.

We were blessed to be able to head to Porterville to surprise my family on Monday, when they celebrated Christmas a few days late.  It was the only day the Wuth side was all together, so it was precious for me to be able to watch the nieces and nephew open their gifts.  Monday was also the day Sean proposed to Joni, so we got to be there to celebrate that as well!  I'm so grateful for the way it worked out.  Mischy (as I call Joni) will make a beautiful bride!  Here are a few pictures from the time in Porterville, stolen from Mike & Kristy's camera.

Speaking of ever-expanding families, Sam's Christmas gift to me this year was two adorable kittens!  We got them Wednesday evening, and have been acting like new parents ever since.  Don't worry, I'm not delusional and don't think kitties are the same as babies, but this is as close as we're getting to being actual parents for awhile!  We have so much fun watching them play together, and every time they do something cute we take a picture.  Sam's allergies have even seemed to decrease, most likely because they are too cute to be allergic to.  Here are Willow and Madmartigan (Morty for short) who are brother and sister.  They'll be 4 months old tomorrow (they share your birthday, Kris) and they are precious!

Could this be any cuter?

Their new favorite spot - a sunny windowsill.  That's Morty looking at the camera.

Willow loves when Morty snuggles her

They're best buds :)
I hope that 2010 has been a wonderful year for you, and that 2011 is even better!  I personally am looking forward to a less-eventful year.  2010 was amazing for me!  But I'm ready for some routine and normal life. :)  No more moving, no more wedding planning, no more starting new jobs.  Just living the simple life!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Blessed Christmas

Sam and I are here in Nevada hanging out with the Swenson clan, getting really excited for Christmas!  So far there have been lots of games, food, and laughs.  It's the first Christmas with a Swenson grandchild (Wyatt) so it's been pretty fun watching him.

I was thinking about how fortunate Sam and I are.  It's always hard around the holidays to figure out where to spend them and how to allocate the family time.  But the great part is that we both really like both of our families.  I know not everyone is that lucky, so I've just been thinking about how blessed we are in that way.  I honestly could not ask for better in-laws.  And though I really miss my parents, siblings, nieces and nephew, I'm so glad that I love this family, too.

It's weird knowing that I won't be in Porterville for Christmas morning, listening to the Sandi Patti Christmas record and devouring our traditional Christmas brunch, complete with Mom's coffee cake.  But to be able to share Christmas with the Swenson side is pretty wonderful as well!  I'm excited about the years to come as Sam and I develop our own little traditions and make new memories, and so thankful for two wonderful, amazing, fun families.

Merry Christmas everyone. :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Honor of the Birthday Girl

I apparently haven't done so well in my desire to write about one friend a week.  On second thought, the first time was about three people, so that counts, right?  Today I'm writing about my dear friend, Elise, who celebrates her birthday this week.  Happy birthday, Elise!  And thanks for being my friend.

Elise and I were thrown together almost two years ago when we started dating two guys who were good friends.  But she lived in Seattle and I lived in Porterville, so we only saw each other on weekends when we both happened to be visiting.  I remember the first time I thought I might be friends with Elise.  It was Superbowl weekend and she was wearing a really cute hat.  I know that sounds silly, but it looked like a hat I would wear, so I thought we probably had a lot in common.  (Don't judge my thoughts...because I was right!)

I love how purposeful Elise is about being a friend.  She is so great about inviting me to do things and really puts the time and effort in to let me know she cares about me.  I want to be a friend like her, because I know sometimes I can get lazy and just wait for people to call me.  She inspires me to be a dedicated friend.

A month before I got married, Sam moved down to LA county.  I was pretty sad to be away from my fiance for the last month before our wedding, even though I was pretty busy with work and wedding preparations.  Elise was so great about making sure to call me and hang out and make me feel included.  I doubt she even realizes how much it meant to me, but sometimes her calls came at just the right time when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed or sad.

Another thing I admire about Elise is how hopeful she is.  She and I are very much alike - we can be a little emotional.  But, unlike me, Elise is quick to think logically about her situation and change her thoughts into hopeful ones, rather than focusing on anything negative.  She has called me with bad news before, but she always follows the bad news with a comment like, "but I know it'll all work out because God is in control," or some such thing.  I'm always humbled by her optimism and trust.

I love how much she and I have in common - we have the same sense of humor, enjoy the same music (I found a fellow country fan in Sonoma county!), and even have the same silly arguments with our significant others.  But the ways in which Elise and I differ are definitely in her favor.  I am so glad we were thrown together, because I know there are a lot of great things I can learn from her.

Below is a picture of us.  Thanks for being so awesome, friend!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Luma Loft

Tiny bathroom

Ridiculously amazing tub

kitchen...love all the yellow :)

other side of kitchen

notice that rocky counter :)

bedroom

our fort bedroom

We truly do love our little home!  It's definitely cozy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Swenson Loft

So my last blog reminded me that I never put up pictures of our home.  So here's our living room.  I'll put up more of the rest of the house later.  We have our table in our living room because the kitchen is just too tiny. :)  We love our quirky, cozy little place though!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's the Season of Thieves!

It wouldn't be Christmastime without someone I love getting robbed.  One year my dad's car was broken into, one year Joni's hubcaps were stolen, and this year Sam's bike was stolen.  This wouldn't be such a bad thing, except that it's Sam's transportation to work.  He rides his bike everyday.  And it's not just some random bike.  It was a very nice, quite expensive bike.  I really hope we find it because Sam's very bummed.

Well, Merry Christmas from the Swenson's.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Mama Says Idle Hands Are...

Has anyone ever felt that having too much time makes them more lazy?  Or is that just me?  What's the saying about idle hands?  They are the devil's tools, or the devil's workshop?  Either way, I don't like them.  Not being busy is not good for me.  I'd rather not be overwhelmingly busy either.  Just the right amount of being productive and having time to live life.

It seems when I'm really busy, I'm quite motivated.  For example, if I know I only have a small window of time between, say, work and class, I'll use it to work out or do homework or clean the house.  But when I don't have a job (such as the past month) and I know I have plenty of time to do things (such as tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day...) I end up being rather unmotivated.  It's such a silly thing, because you'd think with all my free time I'd get loads of things done.  This is not so.  When I'm given lots of free time, I waste lots of free time.

I don't like this.  I'd really rather just use my free time to do all the things I've always wanted to do (like learn the banjo or write a book) instead of watching yet another episode of Arrested Development while I halfheartedly dust the living room.  I never sleep in, which I am pretty sure is my mom's fault.  (We had to get up early every Saturday for chores, and she rarely sleeps past 6am.)  This means I feel like I'm wasting my day if I sleep past seven.  I usually make a list of what I need to get done that day (I'm pretty ridiculous and make lists for everything, especially my to-dos) and I always get started right away.  It seems like this would be a recipe for being extremely productive during my unemployed times, but somewhere around ten o'clock I lose steam and feel like I haven't gotten enough done and pretty much stop.

Why do I do this?  I don't know.  I think I can blame my dad for the need to feel productive, and both my parents for my perfectionism.  (Do you like the way I pass the blame onto everyone else?)  Regardless...I am very grateful to have started a new job today.  I already feel myself being more motivated (such as blogging tonight) and I'm pretty excited about the job.  School will start in January and then I'm pretty sure I'll be quite the productive little ant.  But I'd really like to conquer this silly pattern I've developed of being such a bum.  I'd like to be wise with my time and make the most of each day, whether or not I have a ton of things to do.

And now...time for dishes and laundry.  Look at me!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

An Ode to Friends

I'm feeling inspired today to write about a few people who inspire me.  I have many amazing friends - in fact, if you are my friend consider yourself to be a uniquely incredible person, because you surely are!  But today I want to talk about three people in particular that I admire and hope to emulate in certain ways.  Each possesses a quality that I feel that I lack that completely amazes me.

First up will be Monica.  Monica is an only child, and had, what I consider, a pretty radical upbringing.  She was raised on an ostrich ranch (um hello, how cool is that?) and her parents later opened their own drive-through coffee company (anyone in the Sonora area should go by Day-O Espresso & Smoothies because it's delish!).  Now, I think if my parents owned a coffee company, I'd be even more addicted than I already am, so perhaps it's for the best they didn't. :)  But back to Monica...she's awesome.  I think the only-child scenario really helped her become someone who is not afraid to put herself out there and can take care of herself.  She just tried out for the show Wipe-Out, and she's applying to work on a riverboat doing mystery dinner theater!  Both of those sound awesome to me...and even though I think I could do those things, I rarely put myself out there in such a way.

Monica is younger than I am, but in many ways far more mature.  She can parallel park (a skill I lost when I moved away from Long Beach) and just seems to be able to handle things well on her own, without much help.  I blame my position of being the youngest for my apparent inability to help myself.  I do think I can help myself when absolutely necessary (my proudest moment was when I fixed the credit card machine at Gilead all on my own without asking for help from our tech guy), but if I can get someone to figure something out for me, I'll usually take that route.  It is not a trait I admire in myself, and I would definitely love to be more like Monica in taking initiative and taking care of things.  I'd probably even be surprised by what I can do without help!  Her confidence in herself and her abilities is really inspiring to me, and I think she's awesome. :)

Next up will be Marci.  Marci and I have known each other since kindergarten, though we really became close in seventh grade in Mr. Greene's class.  Marci is another confident woman who goes after what she wants (and often gets it).  I admire a ton of things about Marc, but the one in particular today is her ability to communicate her desires.  If someone asks me what I want, I usually say, "whatever," because I want to be agreeable and easy-going.  Marci specifically says her preference, and does it in a way that sounds neither rude nor demanding.  I find that amazing!

I asked her once how she does it, and she said that she won't always get her way, but if she doesn't get her way because she didn't communicate it, that's silly.  She said it doesn't hurt to just say what she wants.  If she gets it, great!  If not, that's okay, because at least she communicated it.  I find myself keeping my mouth shut about what I'd really like and what I need, and then pout when I don't get my way because whoever I'm with didn't read my mind.  (Anyone care to find out more about this, ask my poor, patient husband.)  I don't know where I got the idea that being upfront and honest about things is pushy or demanding, but Marci proves that this notion is incorrect.  She does it all with gentleness and grace.

Last, but certainly not least, is JulieAnn.  I had the pleasure of meeting JulieAnn in high school and will always force her to be my friend.  She's the kind of person you want to be around because you leave her feeling better about yourself and life in general.  She is the eternal optimist, always encouraging, and always honest.  She asked me recently what she should say is her passion on an essay, and I immediately replied, "Life!  Your passion is life and helping the people you love get the most out of life!"  It's true.  She lives life to the fullest.  She is constantly wanting to learn new things.  She has been an exercise instructor (just for fun) and has talked about all the classes she wants to take and the things she wants to learn (from cake decorating to the stock market).

Just as an example, I was gchatting with JulieAnn whilst writing this, and was telling her that it's hard for me to figure out a major when there are so many different things I want to do.  (English, accounting, nutrition, etc.)  And her response was that the sky is the limit and I don't need to worry about doing only one thing because I have forty more years to work and accomplish all the things I want to do.  She truly believes you can do everything you want to do, so long as you put in the time and effort (which she does).  She is not limited by time, resources, or circumstances.  She makes life work for her, and never admits defeat or gives up.

Now, can we all see a pattern in what traits I'm particularly jealous of today?  Perhaps Kimberly is going through a bit of a struggle in going after what she wants and putting herself out there...I do see all the wonderful things in life and all that I can accomplish.  And I just wish I didn't give up so easily when circumstances aren't just right.  I'm far more capable than I give myself credit for (I think) and would probably greatly benefit from pushing myself just a bit more.  Sort of reminds me of one of my favorite verses: "Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds.  Those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops."  Time to start just doing.

So, I think I've decided to start writing about one friend a week - because I have lots of amazing friends with wonderful traits!  Stay tuned to hear about more people I'm blessed to know...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Randomness

Hey people...haven't written in a little while because we have no internet at our house yet...so I walk to Starbucks to come get online.  And the connection isn't great and the people watching is too tempting, so I get distracted.  I am still trying to find a place for everything in our home, so it's still not quite yet "photo ready".  I do plan to put up some pictures for you who are curious as soon as possible!  (Though we'd rather have you all come visit in person.)

Anyway, apparently the downtown Starbucks is the place for moms with young children to come congregate after their mornings at the gym.  It's pretty hilarious to watch all the small children interact.  And shoot, if all that moms do is go to the gym then sit at Starbucks with their friends, maybe I could do that whole mom thing!  (Kidding....please don't take offense, moms!  I know you work hard...harder than I care to work right now.)

Seriously though...has anyone discovered the perfect job?  As I job search, I find that I'm quickly turned off to lots of things...for example, I do not want to work nights or weekends.  I don't want to do any type of sales, because I happen to hate it when salespeople try to coerce me into buying things I don't need, so I think it would be hypocritical to do that to others.  I want to set my own schedule and have all the time off I want on holidays.  And I want to have all the time and energy I need to learn how to be an amazing cook, keep a clean house, and learn how to sew.

Yes...I'm feeling lazy today.  Really I'd just be happy with a job where I don't have to clean hot dog bins, wear a hair net, and work nights.  And where I can sit and write all day and read wonderful books.  OH!!!  I could be a publisher!  If anyone hears of any publishing companies hiring people with no degrees who want to work from home, let me know. ;)

Very much looking forward to the holidays.  We've had one of our three "Friendsgivings" so far...looking forward to the other two.  Looking forward to seeing family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I always wish I could stop time during the holidays and just stay hanging out with family and not working and drinking hot chocolate and eating cinnamon rolls.

Ok, the kids running around are getting loud and I think it's about time I move along to more unpacking.  Everyone have a great Tuesday, because God has blessed us with one more day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Moving Day!!!!

Sam and I got to Porterville around midnight last night so we could sleep in a super comfy bed as opposed to an air mattress.  We also wanted to break up the trip a little bit.  So I've already had the most wonderful start to our move! It began with an ice cream cake from Cold Stone that a friend at work got me!  It was perfect - cake batter ice cream with red velvet cake - mine and Sam's favorite!  The cake said, "We'll miss you," on it, and there are definitely people I will miss at work.  I'm hoping they'll all come visit up north, though. :)

This morning I got to have this:


my mom's homemade banana bread and coffee in a season-appropriate mug.  It's just fun to drink out of a pumpkin mug.

Also, this:

I didn't get to paint my nails at Costco.  Normally I wouldn't mind so much...but when someone tells me something is forbidden, it just makes me want to do it all the more.  So I painted my nails first thing this morning after my bubble bath. :) 

And this:

Can't go wrong with a super sweet niece.  So far, so good!

Ok, so I wrote the above yesterday, when it was actually moving day, and never got around to actually posting it.  Sam and I got to Petaluma around 6pm and were greeted by 9 of our friends who helped us unload everything.  With all the help it went pretty fast!  We are so close to downtown and I love that aspect of it!  I walked to Starbucks this morning to use the internet since ours isn't set up yet.

I also completely adore our home!  It's an older place so it has so many fun charming things about it, like random shelving, a claw foot bathtub/shower, and a slanted roof.  It's definitely small, so we're going to have fun finding a place for everything.  But it's perfect!  Also, something that I think is just so cute (and it's from Friends) is that there are curtains on the cupboards instead of doors!  Love that!  Ok, as soon as we get somewhat unpacked and settled I'll put up pictures.  Just so excited to be here!  And happy to be celebrating our 3 month anniversary here today. :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Simplify!

Howdy friends.  Tonight Sam and I are enjoying a night at home.  By enjoying I mean we have both been sick, so he's playing video games and I'm ordering our thank yous for the wedding.

We're basically all packed and ready to leave on Saturday!  Grandma Oda and Sharon came by to help me box up our kitchen stuff today, which was so helpful!  It's so funny how much time and effort I put into setting up everything...and then all the effort it took to take it down.  It makes me realize how silly all the "stuff" is that we pile up in our lives.  Don't get me wrong - I want to create a nice atmosphere for my husband so that he has a cozy home to return to.  But knowing Sam, I doubt he cares if it's set up perfectly to look like a Martha Stewart magazine.

Our new place is much smaller than this place, which I'm grateful for.  It forces us to really figure out what we need and eliminate all that extra junk.  I tend to be a "don't-throw-it-away-what-if-I-need-it-tomorrow-even-though-I-haven't-used-it-in-five-years" type of person, so it is difficult for me.  I just never want to be wasteful, so I don't want to throw out something I might one day need.  But...I also don't want to end up a hoarder, so it's good when life forces us to clean out the crap.

I want to do that with everything else in my life, too.  What do I need to simplify?  What am I making too complicated?  I know one thing - I'm giving up on trying to fit some image of a perfect homemaker.  I don't know what it is about getting married, but it suddenly made me worry about that stuff, which I never did before.  I was always more of a "Mary" than a "Martha" (look up Luke 10:28-32 if you don't understand the reference) and suddenly I've switched.  It's a change I am not proud of.  I used to be more concerned with seeing friends and cultivating relationships, and suddenly I find myself worried with what people will think when they come over.  Is my house clean enough?  Is it decorated cute?  Um...who cares?

I want to blame society for it.  First they convinced me I needed to have a perfect wedding and stressed me out with it.  Now I feel like they've convinced me that if I'm not sewing homemade curtains while my homemade bread is baking in my spotless oven, I'm a failed wife.  I don't like that.  Here's the real story.  I love to bake, but Sam and I are trying to be healthy, so I don't do it often.  Cooking is not nearly my strong point, but Sam is thrilled if I put together a simple meal of cous cous and chicken.  I would love to learn to sew to make my own clothes, but I've had a sewing machine sitting in my closet for almost 2 years...and still haven't learned.  I love to knit but haven't done it in forever.  So there you have it.  My name is not Martha...neither Stewart, nor the one from the Bible.

So...sorry my blog is not full of ideas for centerpieces for Thanksgiving, or recipes for homemade pumpkin muffins.  Maybe some day that stuff will have more of a place in my life...(like if I ever become a mom, which is another foreign idea to me).  But for now?  I'm going to keep it simple.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Packin' Up, Movin' Out

Yep...we're moving back to Sonoma County!  If you've read my previous posts, you'll know what a difficult time Sam and I have had here in Southern CA.  I'm not planning to put all the details onto my blog for the world to see, but if you're interested in knowing specifics, I'll be glad to tell you personally.  Ultimately, we finally felt that last straw that broke the camel's back.  It came in the form of a leaky condo roof.  Yes...we came home Tuesday night after a particularly hard couple of days to find a soaked through roof.  We realized we did not want to purchase a place that would need so much extra work and money.  And that was it!

After a lot of prayer, we felt that moving back would be best for us at this time.  And since we've decided, things have progressed rather quickly!  Sam was already offered a job (before he even began searching!) and we already found a new place to live.  Praise God!  My friend told me that she'd prayed we would feel peace about the decision and confirmation that we did the right thing - and that's exactly what has happened.

We just keep getting more and more excited as we think more about it.  But that's not to say we won't miss people here!  My aunt and uncle live here, as well as my cousin and her husband.  My college roommate lives here with her family as well.  We've really enjoyed being around all of them, and if it hadn't been for them we wouldn't have even made it this long!  But even they have all been encouraging in our decision.  Something my Aunt Sharon said to me was especially encouraging.  She said it's hard to know what to do in these situations...do we wait through the hard times and learn, or does it come to a point when all the doors keep closing and we take it as a sign to move on?  We certainly feel that many doors have been shut tight for us down here.

Having said that, I do believe we were brought here for a reason.  Sam and I learned so much living here the past few months, and I am so grateful for the strong foundation it has been for our marriage.  I'm a big believer that God always has us right where we're supposed to be in any given situation, and for our first 90 days of marriage, that place was in the Antelope Valley.  I wouldn't give up these experiences for anything.  Though they were hard, they made us strong.

Well...time to start packing.  I'm a little overwhelmed by that - I just unpacked everything and decorated our home!  And our new place is much smaller than this one, so I get to go through everything and figure out what we really need.  Perhaps I need a lesson in simplifying and getting rid of our overabundance of material things???  Guess I'll always be learning. :)

P.S. I'd love prayers for a new job! :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Friends!

Went to Calabasas last night to meet up with Marci & JulieAnn, two of my best friends from high school, and their respective husbands, Josh and Robert.  Calabasas is central for all three of us, since JulieAnn and Robert live in Santa Barbara and Marci and Josh live in Orange.  It was a good time of great food and frozen yogurt.  I love these girls!  And the boys, too. :)  We took some pictures, so I thought I'd include them.  Randomly we all showed up wearing blue and white, so we thought that was fun!
I can only take one serious picture before this starts.

Marci told me to be serious...

Our cute boys...notice which husband also doesn't do a normal smile for the picture. :)

Robert was against this picture.

Robert, JulieAnn, me, Sam, Marci, Josh.  Ridiculous matchers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

God's Funny

When I was nineteen, I started compiling a stack of notecards.  On each notecard were verses I'd written that I really wanted to memorize.  I like to go through them when I'm praying for people.  I've found that if I just sit and pray for even more than a couple minutes without something else to break it up, my mind wanders and I'm suddenly thinking about kittens when I had been praying for my friend's marriage.  Silly me.

So the notecards...I love them.  Different verses really meant a lot to me during different times in my life, and sometimes the same verse will be applied in a whole new way depending on what I'm going through.  Sort of like how you just think a song about breaking up has a nice melody until you break up with your boyfriend; then the lyrics immediately mean so much and you listen to it over and over and over.

This morning I was praying when I was very much not in a mood to pray.  These times, I've learned, are when I need to pray the most.  I was irritated because I didn't even get an interview for a job that I am completely qualified for (other than the fact that I speak our country's national language and nothing else - fail) and feeling discouraged, as though God doesn't see or has forgotten how ready I am to move on.  I had my notecards face down, sort of like a deck of cards when you're playing blackjack and you don't know what's coming but you hope it's something good.  So I was praying for myself (because yes, I'm selfish and pray for myself first) and feeling defeated in the whole job realm.  And what's the first card I turn over?  "He will not let you be defeated.  He who guards you never sleeps." (Psalm 121:3).  Oh.  Right.  Thanks for that.  Moving on...

I kept praying, wondering how long Sam and I would have to go through this stupid time of growing (yes, if you've read my previous posts you'd know that I had a good attitude about it before and today I'm just feeling lousy).  And what verse do I turn over?  "Wait for God, wait with hope!  Hope now, hope always." (Psalm 131:3)  Dang it!  Okay fine, I'll keep waiting, even with hope!  I had told JulieAnn yesterday I was tired of getting my hopes up about new possibilities.  And now I'm told to wait?  With hope?

So then I start praying for my husband, my wonderful husband who I snapped at last night and who I am particularly stubborn with.  And guess what card I get?  Psalm141:3, which reads, "Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say."  Very funny, God.  We've already established I am the last person who can control her tongue.  That was affirmed when I got the "Most Mouthy" award from my coach freshman year of water polo.  And I'm supposed to be controlling my tongue in my marriage?  Even speaking somewhat respectfully to this man I'm now sharing life with?  Come on!  I learned all these lessons years ago when I first copied down these verses.  Surely I don't have to learn them again.

Ahh, but sadly yes, I do have to learn them again.  I seem to always be learning old lessons; lessons I've already had great epiphanies over, that I've already written in my journal about, saying things like, "Oh, I finally get it!  Now I know how to handle this!"  I wonder when any of them will finally stick.  I'm thinking when I finally am refined and changed and it's real and I apply it to my life, maybe that's when I'll get a new job.  So okay people, time to really focus and learn!  And laugh when God gently (or not so gently) reminds me of things He's been patiently trying to teach me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Workin' for a Living

I would like to discuss the subject of jobs today.  Jobs are on my mind specifically because I highly dislike mine.  Don't get me wrong - I'm extremely thankful to have a job in this economic climate, and I will work there as long as I need to in order to contribute to my family.  However, I still really don't like it.

It's not that the people are bad.  Actually, I like all of my coworkers except for one specific woman, who thinks she's really special because she's worked at Costco for four years.  Hi-five, lady.  You rock.  And you are ever so much smarter than the stupid new girl, so you totally deserve to treat her like crap.  The work itself is mostly fine, except that a monkey could do it.  If my goal in life was to find a job that required little to no intelligence, I have succeeded.  Hurray.

What I really hate is the hours.  I go to work sometime in the afternoon until around 10pm.  I used to think it would be great to have a job where I could have mornings off to get things done and run errands.  This was before I got married and realized I like making dinner for my husband and eating it with him.  I don't get to do that anymore.  Also, everyone I know works during the day.  Should I ever choose to call someone or visit them, I remember they're working and won't be available until I head off to my own job.  Insert sad face.  Also, I'm very much a morning person and not so much a night person.  Really after 8pm I'm worthless anyway, so my employers aren't getting much for their money either.

I know we all have to pay our dues.  I know sometimes we have to suffer through jobs we don't love.  The problem is that I'm one of those weird people who thinks life is too short to waste it on a job you hate.  Yes, I'm very much a dreamer.  I think if you're going to spend the majority of your time doing something, it might as well be something you enjoy, or at least something you can tolerate.  Poor Sam has tried to convince me that some people go through life just doing a job and they don't like it and it's just the way it is.  My dad used to try to tell me that, too.  "That's why it's called 'work'," he'd say.  Much as I'd love to adapt to this way of thinking, my mind refuses to cooperate.

There are just tooooo many cool jobs out there, people!  I know - I've had them!  Just for funsies, let's go through my list of employment.  Bear with me; this could take awhile.

  • Cleaning my uncle's house and the office building he owned, once a week (pretty swell job, just cleaned every Saturday while performing entire musicals for my mom, who cleaned with me.  Some favorites were Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Les Mis, and Bye Bye Birdie.)
  • Cleaning the lodges at Hume Lake (pretty much the same as above)
  • Lifeguard/swim instructor (SUPER fun!  Played with kids, laid out in the sun, hung out with all my awesome friends, didn't have to go inside once.  HIGHLY recommend this position to any 16-20 year-olds out there)
  • Student assistant, CSULB (got to do my homework when there wasn't work to do, worked with one of the coolest people ever, Kidada)
  • Lifetouch Portraits, JC Penney (loved taking pictures, hated how fast and non-creative it was)
  • Main St. Coffee Cup (got to deliver coffee to businesses on Main St. in Porterville, one of the cutest streets around - great times!)
  • Fashion Network (wasn't so good at putting together outfits, but basic retail clothing store, working with one of my best friends)
  • New York & Company (clothing store in the mall, HATED this job, mostly because I hate malls)
  • Rainbows Florist (delivered flowers to crazy expensive houses in Seal Beach, assembled bouquets - toooo stressful)
  • In-n-Out corporate office (temp job with my cousin.  Worked in the accounting dept. Good money and a free burger, fries, and drink every day!) 
  • Christmas Tree Lot - (HANDS DOWN BEST JOB EVER!!!! I sat at a cash register all day surrounded by Christmas trees and Christmas music.  Did nothing but hang out with my aunt, eat candy canes, knit 50 scarves, and drink hot cocoa allll day.  GREAT money, too!)
  • Forward Advantage, Inc. (pretty sweet job working for a medical software company, got to do some marketing as well)
  • Starbucks (flexible and loved all my coworkers.  Tons of free coffee and hung out with friends all day.  Only drawback was the hours and the fact it was open 365 days a year)
  • Bank of the Sierra (LOVED counting money! Sort of stressful handling so much cash, though)
  • Mt. Gilead (bomb people, free food, and in the middle of the redwoods in Sonoma County)

I think that's everything, though I'm probably forgetting something.  I also think the only person who can rival my list of the most random jobs would be Sam.  But most of these jobs had some great things about them.  Even though there were difficult things with each one, the pros outweighed the cons.  This is one of those jobs that I'm finding difficult to tolerate.  I've tried everything I can think of.  I try to be as positive as possible, have as much fun as possible with coworkers and customers, and try to focus on why I'm working - for Sam and our family.  But for some reason I'm having a hard time not dreading each day I go to work!

So help, people!  How do you all deal with jobs you can't stand?  What little sayings do you repeat over and over until you can make it?  I don't know how long I have to be at Costco, but I don't want it to be this miserable forever.  Help me make the best of it!

I do know what one of my dream jobs is (believe me, I've got at least twenty).  I would LOVE to be a freelance writer.  Sitting at coffee shops tapping away on my computer, creating my own schedule (or maybe following one set up by my editor).  That sounds like heaven to me.  Maybe someday...I can dream.  Insert smiley face.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh there you are, Peter

You know those things in life that it seems like we can't live without?  Things that just make us feel complete, like we are home, like we're doing what we were created to do.  For everyone I would assume there is at least one thing that feels like breathing to them; something that, if they've been missing it for too long, feels so refreshing once they return to it.  For me, there are at least seventeen of those, activities I must daily partake in or I will go crazy.  (Obviously we all now know why I'm crazy, because it's impossible to fit in that many activities in one day in addition to normal adult responsibilities like laundry and working and whatnot.)

Today it was a George Strait song.  I hadn't listened to music for awhile, and I put an old CD in my car and thought, yes, this is what I needed.  Truth is, if I go to long without music - listening to it, singing, playing my guitar, or creating it - I feel a bit hollow.  The same goes for reading and writing.  When I'm not doing it very often, I feel okay, and it's not completely obvious to me why I don't quite feel right.  But when I return to it and make it more of a priority, it all makes sense. I realize what's been missing and that I must always return to it.  And then I wonder why I let silly things get in the way, like facebook and television and non-essential, day-wasting activities.

Reading my Bible and praying is non-negotiable.  From the time I was about nineteen years old, I started making this a habit, and you better believe I feel it when I slack on this one.  (You all probably feel it too, you just don't know it.  If Kim is crabby, impatient, or pessimistic, maybe remind her to bust out the Bible or her stack of verses.)  Exercise is a big one, too.  I tweaked my knee about a month and a half ago and haven't been able to run since.  Poor Sam doesn't realize it, but he has no idea what a happy, nice wife he'll have once her stupid knee gets better.  (Or once I figure out I can do something else, like Pilates.)

As I was thinking about this, I wondered what activities everyone else would say they really need to be more at peace.  For some people it's cooking, for some it's gardening, for some it's taking pictures.  Often it isn't something that's completely necessary - it's more of a hobby, something we wish we could get paid to do, something that makes us lose track of time.  And, unfortunately, it's often something that gets pushed to the back burner when life gets in the way.  Can't paint that picture today, gotta pay the bills and do the dishes.

Maybe you all have your lives together and are great at making priorities and doing the things that are important to you.  Or maybe you don't have any of those hobbies.  If you don't, I highly suggest you find something.  And if you do have something like that but have been ignoring those urges or have been putting it off until a day when you have more time, I am encouraging you to do it today.  You'll suddenly realize what you've been missing and you'll be so glad you took the time to create or learn.  And maybe we'll all be just a little bit happier with ourselves and each other.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Growing Pains

I remember a season in my life that was really wonderful.  I was dating my first love, I had a fun, easy job where it felt like I just hung out with my friends all day, and I had my own cat, an awesome little guy named Harrison (who was indeed named after Harrison Ford).  Harry was the type of cat that even cat-haters loved.  He was very mellow and hilarious to watch.  He was my first pet that was my own, not a family pet.  And I vividly remember the night he got hit by a car,  I remember my dad saying, "You've had a very good summer.  This must be really hard."  And he was right, you see, because when everything in your life is going very well and is rather easy, even what seems like a light rain feels like a torrential downpour, complete with winds and hail.  My poor Harry being hit and killed by a car was the first in what seemed to be a season of storms, full of lots of pain and hurt.

The funny thing is, once the storms subsided, I realized how much I had grown.  I liked myself so much more than when everything was easy and comfortable.  My character grew, I matured, and the little bumps in life didn't send me into a downward spiral anymore.  That time in my life, almost exactly two years ago, I can say that I was very joyful.  Things weren't perfect, but I could see why God brought me through such difficult situations, and I could be grateful for everything I had experienced that had brought me to such a content, trusting place.

I feel like the past year and a half of my life was another "easy, comfortable, fun" season.  We'll call those the summers of my life.  I lived in northern California where the attitude is much more relaxed.  I had an amazing boyfriend/fiance who I felt completely blessed to have in my life, and who introduced me to a huge number of friends.  We always had interesting things to do and wonderful people to do them with.  I lived with a friend who I've known since I was quite young, who understood me and who made me laugh constantly.  My commute to my job took me through beautiful vineyards and some of the most gorgeous places I've ever seen.  My job was fairly simple, I got to pray every morning with my coworkers, and my boss cared more about me and how I was doing than about the job in general.  I really had it good.  I am very thankful to have experienced this "summer season" of my life.  And yet I don't feel like I grew much at all.

Currently, my life is in very much a "fall" season, where change is abundant.  My husband and I moved to southern California, which is so much less the type of atmosphere where we feel we belong.  We went from a huge group of friends to just a couple of friends, which was very hard for a social couple.  We left our flexible, pleasant jobs for ones that are a lot more strict and unforgiving.  I had to stop going to school, since I was enrolled in classes up north and have not been able to enroll here yet.  It has been very, very hard; much more difficult than either of us imagined.

And yet, we're learning so much.  I refused to cooperate for awhile, but now that I've been here for a couple months, I've started allowing God to use these challenges to shape me and mature me once again into the type of woman he wants me to be.  Already it has been incredibly amazing to see how much Sam has grown, and I admire him everyday for his willingness to use this time in life to learn.  It would definitely be the easy way out for us to move back up north (and I've tried to convince him to do it multiple times, believe me), but I'd much rather be gritting our teeth and growing than sailing through, remaining somewhat stagnant.  I haven't always had this attitude, but I've been greatly inspired by my husband, who has been incredible in his desire to honor his commitments and God, and to learn whatever lessons we need to be learning.  I even feel guilty now for the times I've told him we should just move back, because I realized that God is working in him in really amazing ways down here.  My desire for us to just be happy might sometimes get in the way of necessary pain that will promote growth.

A lot of people don't understand our decision to move, and our decision to stick it out for the time being.  We'd love to move back up north and might do so one day.  But I can say without hesitation that these challenges have strengthened our marriage more than I thought possible, and have given me renewed love and respect for this man I'm blessed to share life with.  We never would have been stretched so much if we'd stayed in our comfort zone, and we feel that these challenges are preparing us better for whatever lies ahead.  I can actually say that I'm thankful we moved and I'm thankful for the job that I hate and the friends that I miss because these things are making me a stronger person, and helping me see the good things in life so much more clearly.  I wouldn't appreciate the summer nearly as much if I didn't have to go through the winter.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very much looking forward to the day when we love our jobs and we have lots of friends and feel more comfortable where we are.  But for once I'm trying to stick it out and make the best of something, rather than giving up and taking the easy, more fun way.  I have to remind myself daily that this is a time of refining, and I'm thankful to be doing it with a husband who understands that and encourages me to be a better version of myself.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Home :)

Sam and I have been pretty busy.  We've been working hard getting unpacked and getting settled into the condo.  It's taken awhile but it finally feels like home.  I thought I'd put up some pictures for those of you interested.  This is just the downstairs of our condo.  There are tons of mirrors and all laminate floors.  I'm thinking by the time we move I'll be rather sick of cleaning mirrors and sweeping. :)

But we really love our new home!  There is a lot we still need to do in terms of home improvements.  The walls badly need paint, and the floors need lots of work.  We're looking forward to really fixing it up - and it's nice to have a husband who knows how to do all those projects. :)  We're really anxious to get started but we can't until the sale goes through.  This whole thing is definitely teaching us patience!


Here's our bar. Ignore the picture frames without our pictures in them. :)


Here's our view from the bar.

This is our fun kitchen...which needs to be painted. :)  I'm not a fan of the oddly colored wall.
And our dining room.  We can't wait to replace the light fixture!
Another view.  The huge mirror on that wall came included...and actually makes the place look bigger!

Our living room.  Lots of random shelves! 

Hope you enjoy the pictures!  I'll add pictures of the upstairs rooms soon!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nike Knew

I read an interview with an actress in which she was asked how she stayed in shape.  She said she ran three miles everyday.  When she was asked how she stayed so disciplined, she replied that she didn't think about it - she just did it.  It reminded me of Nike's tagline "Just Do It."  I've decided to make that my own mantra in my life.

I'm one of those people that thinks too much.  I think about everything, analyze everything, and plan everything.  I think this can be a good thing, but it can also be pretty paralyzing sometimes.  The more I think about something, the bigger it can become.  If I think about a task I need to accomplish that isn't exactly pleasant, I think about it and think about it, and end up putting it off.  It becomes a form of procrastination.  I build it up so much in my time that I think it will take forever and be so hard.

When I eventually make myself do whatever it is I've been avoiding, it's rarely as difficult as I've made it out to be.  Usually it takes half the time I anticipated, and sometimes it's even enjoyable.  I often end up wondering why I thought it would be so hard.  I'm writing this blog to remind myself of this, and to maybe encourage anyone else who behaves the same way.  Rarely are things as hard as I make them out to be.  And I'm actually stronger and more capable than I think!  What do you know?

I had a pretty stressful summer.  When I think about it, I wonder how on earth I made it through.  I moved four times, got married, relocated to a new city, and lost my grandfather.  All the while, I was in the midst of my busiest season at work.  But I didn't really stop to think about it all.  I didn't really have time.  I went into auto-pilot.  I knew what had to get done and I did it.  Sam and I both talked about how we couldn't stop to think about how hard something was - we just had to do it.  And I want to be sure I keep doing that.  Really, my strength comes from God.  And I know without a doubt that He will provide me with strength when I need it.  Those times when I look back wondering how I made it through that hard time in my life?  Those are the times I know God was really doing His thing, carrying me along the way.


So there it is people, just do it.  Don't think about it; just do it.  It won't be that bad, you need to do it anyway, and you'll feel so much better once it's done.  By the way, I'm really talking to myself here.  And all of you are authorized to give me a swift kick when you notice me "thinking" instead of "doing".  The end.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Married!

I thought I'd start blogging again now that Sam and I are married to keep everyone updated on everything.  Also, I haven't found a new job yet so I have lots of time. :)  It's very weird to go from working full time and going to school and wedding planning, to going into my busiest season at work whilst wedding planning, to suddenly being married with no job.  I'm very excited to find a job soon so that I don't go crazy!  Don't get me wrong - it's nice to have a little break after being so non-stop for the past seven months, but I do need to feel productive!

Sam and I are hoping to move into our own place September 1st.  That will be fun and will give me something to do - setting up our home!  We're both adjusting to the move.  It's definitely different being in the desert.  I learned the hard way that the desert is hot (which would make me want to wear a light summer dress) and also windy (which blows that summer dress right up while my hands are full).  We really miss all our friends up north, but we're thankful we have some family and friends here so that we aren't completely alone.  Gary and Sharon have been extremely generous in allowing us to stay here while we wait to move into the condo, and it's been fun for me to be here with the kitties Erin and Seth left behind!  Sam's even enjoying the cats (he's holding one right now!) and if it weren't for his allergies he would be loving it just as much as I do. :)

We had a really great time at our wedding and we hope everyone else did too!  As we drove away from our reception, I was completely overwhelmed by the love that everyone showed us.  All of our friends and family did so much for us to make it all come together!  Everyone was so generous with their time and with gifts - and I wish I could really express just how much we appreciate everything!  We feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people who have really helped us start this new phase of life together.

We had a great time on the honeymoon, too!  We took a cruise to Mexico, which stopped at Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.  I had never been on a cruise before but LOVED it!  I did learn a lesson though - just because they constantly bring you food, doesn't mean you have to eat everything they put in front of you.  Also, don't go snorkeling in Cabo or you could perhaps aspirate a ton of water and sand and bruise a rib.  Yes, that was the great thing that happened to me in Cabo.  Thankfully it happened Friday, so it was towards the end of the trip.  I can already tell that Sam and I will most likely be frequent "cruisers" because it's such a great vacation.  It will be fun to bring friends and family along, too! 

I've included a few pictures from the honeymoon.  Thanks again to everyone for all your love and support!  We'd really appreciate prayer as I try to find a job and Sam adjusts to his new job.  And I'll hopefully continue to write now that I don't have much else to do! :)
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