Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrap Up

These are some favorite pictures from our walk to the beach and trip to the Long Beach aquarium the day after Joni's wedding.

I was pretty excited about Coffee Bean.
Me and my good friend Jason, who helped coordinate Joni's wedding
My dad wanted to pretend like he was holding the whale...I thought it was funnier that the picture wasn't even close. :)
Samantha and a shark
Speaking of sharks, this one was really creepy and kept swimming straight towards my dad, very slowly.  He reminded me of Bruce from Finding Nemo.
Sweet boy.
Another sweet boy.  Too bad he's walking with such a weirdo.
A bird bit Mike, which made Samantha very unhappy.  It was pretty adorable how worried she was about her daddy.

She loves animals, just like her aunt!
Here's Sam with the "Puffins", which happens to be the brand name of our favorite Petaluma-produced cereal.

T.J. and Becca's family aren't in these pictures because they had already gone home by this point.  They needed to be near a hospital because Becca was due any moment with baby #3.  I am thrilled to report that baby #3 is now known as little Charity Rose Wuth.  She was born today at 12:12 and both Becca and Charity are healthy - praise God!  If you can't tell from these pictures, being an aunt is one of my favorite things in the world, so I am very excited to have another niece.  I can't wait to meet the little sweetie!

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!  Hope you all have a safe celebration!

Friday, December 30, 2011

3-week Vegan

I officially have my list of New Year's Resolutions completed, totaling thirteen.  I don't know why I enjoy making resolutions so much, but I do.  Perhaps it is the thought that whatever bad habits I formed last year can be remedied and replaced with good habits this year; that I'm given another chance to start fresh and make better decisions.  Any fresh start is a fabulous thing, in my opinion.

One of the resolutions I am most excited about is doing a vegan challenge for three weeks.  Sam and I are doing it together, and I've been studying up for it and preparing over the past few weeks.  I plan to try and follow a mostly vegan diet throughout the year, but after the three weeks Sam can decide if he wants to introduce cheese back into his diet.  Sam and cheese are best friends.

I was recently diagnosed with a gluten allergy after having felt sick for the good part of the last three years, and I am enjoying the fact that every day is no longer plagued with a stomachache.  During the process of figuring out what was wrong with me, I became very interested in how the foods we eat affect how we feel.  It has been surprising to me that gluten doesn't just affect my digestive system.  Gluten has given me insomnia at times, and at other times it made me tired, zapping my energy.  Before this process, I never gave much thought to what food did to my body except in how it might make me gain weight.  After being somewhat forced to pay attention to my symptoms after consuming certain foods, my eyes were opened to the fact that we really are what we eat, and food does, in fact, play a huge role in our well being.

Sam and I think sitting at home watching a documentary is a great date, so a few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives.  It was fascinating, educational, and eye-opening. Two medical doctors, both of whom were raised on farms where animal products were the foundation of all diets, discovered separately that food plays a huge role in the prevention and reversal of degenerative diseases.   In the film, Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell perform studies in which they prescribe a plant-based diet to their patients suffering from heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and more.  In every instance, the results are astonishing, and it seems that the root problem is the consumption of animal products.

I decided I wanted to try the 21-Day Vegan Kick Start just to see if I could do it, and to see if I felt any differently after the three weeks.  My wonderful husband decided to join me, providing I help him and tell him what to eat.  That's one of the things I love about Sam - he is willing to try anything and is not picky at all when it comes to food.  He acts as though every simple meal I feebly create is a gourmet masterpiece, so believe me, he is a willing participant.

I want to stress the fact that the reasoning behind this experiment has nothing to do with losing weight.  I am not in a position where I think I need to lose weight, and I wasted four years of my life on an eating disorder where I was focused on food in a very unhealthy way.  It was a long, painful lesson learned, but I can tell you it is not about the number on the scale for me.  It is completely about health.  Right now I assume I'm fairly healthy, and I am thankful for that.  I'm not doing this for the present - I'm thinking more about the future.  The books I've been reading offer information regarding treating Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, those illnesses that often appear later in life and that we assume are simply part of our genetic makeup.  Sam and I are enjoying life now.  I want us to still be enjoying life when we're seventy, not suffering from one of these ailments that may not kill us but will certainly decrease our enjoyment of life.

Incidentally, I am not under any illusion that I think I can conclusively protect myself from sickness.  Obviously it is not completely under my control.  I believe in God, and I believe He has plans for each of us, and perhaps mine includes an illness.  But that doesn't mean I am free from my responsibility of taking care of myself.  If I were to say, "It's God's will anyway, so I'll just keep living how I want and He'll either protect me or not," I might as well drive recklessly in a car without a seatbelt, saying, "God will protect me from dying in a car accident if it's His will."  I think God gave us brains and the ability to make decisions for a reason - we are not helpless sheep.

This post wasn't meant to try to convince anyone else to do this three-week jump-start, although I hope some consider it.  I felt convicted to do it, but it is not my place to force it onto anyone else.  Rather, I hope to use my blog to document our next three weeks as a way of keeping myself accountable, so I just wanted to explain what it was all about and why we decided to do it.  Maybe it will be really difficult, or maybe it will be really easy and I'll love all the food I'm eating.  In fact, I haven't thought much about the food I'm giving up because all the menus look so delicious that I can't wait to start trying the new recipes!  And if this gluten allergy has taught me anything, it is that you can live without the food you think you could never give up.  Bread used to be my main food group, especially sweet breads like cinnamon rolls and scones.  I never ever thought I could stop eating bread, but I am living proof that one can learn to live without anything if it is worth it to him or her.

But I hope no one ever asks me to live without coffee.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What I like, what I miss

These are the things I'm loving about Christmas this year, mine and Sam's first Christmas just the two of us:

Morty thinking he's a present again this year and sleeping under the tree.  (He was the present last year, silly kitty.)
 Sam's wrapping job.
Drinking coffee out of our new mugs (Thanks, Mom & Dad Swenson!)
Sam in his new jammies - there are penguins on the pants. :)  He's so cute.
Snuggling on the couch watching Home Alone, with kitties on our laps.

Listening to the NSYNC Christmas CD Heidi and Brady sent us, which I made Sam put on immediately upon opening.

Singing "No Longer a Baby" with Sam, one of my dad's many Christmas songs.  It reminds me of our first date, when Sam started singing it and I wondered how on earth he knew one of my dad's songs.

Of course, there are a lot of things I miss this Christmas.  We couldn't go to either of our parents' homes this year, so we're missing our families a lot.  I miss listening to the Sandy Patti record I used to blast every Christmas morning.  (Yes, I'm old, and not hip enough to call them "vinyls" so to me they're still "records".)  I miss my mom's coffee cake.  I miss Noreen's kringla.  (I particularly miss both of those things now that I couldn't have them even if I wanted.  Stupid gluten.)  I miss Christmas brunch with my family, and playing Crazy Rum with the Swensons.

But mostly we miss Sara.  It's decidedly bittersweet around here; remembering the past with joy yet  feeling sad about the present and future, knowing that we can't share them with her.  It seems fitting that Sam and I aren't having a "traditional" Christmas.  I don't think we're ready for that.

So today we'll eat tamales and go see a movie.  And we'll be grateful for the birth of Christ, and that by His coming and giving us hope and everlasting life, we can rest in the knowledge that Sara is rejoicing with her Savior. 

Merry Christmas.

(We're also hoping a certain Rebecca goes into labor and gives us another niece or nephew!  Becca, if baby is born today please name her/him Noel or Leon.  Sam thinks Yule would be a good boy's name, too.  Just throwing it out there.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Part II

In my last post (this morning) I forgot to talk about my delightful Monday morning.  I had really wanted to write about it Monday, but of course I had no computer and, unfortunately, no notebook.  I already put a blank notebook in my bag to carry with me always - you never know when inspiration will strike.

I got up pretty early Monday because a.) I couldn't sleep and b.) it takes about seventeen hours for my hair to dry, so I wanted to wash it early.

Marci was up early for work, so I asked her to drop me off at the Starbucks in the historic downtown, since it's just down the street from her house.  I have noticed that I like to start big days by going by Starbucks, sometimes with others, but usually alone.  I enjoy the familiarity, the solitude, the warmth of the coffee, and knowing exactly what I'm getting.  I started my past two birthdays like that, as well as my own wedding day.  I sat for a bit, then leisurely walked back to Marci's house through the adorable neighborhood that reminded me a bit of Petaluma.  I wanted to stop and take pictures and just absorb everything, but I realized I will be back to visit Marci in February, so I can explore more then.

There's something incredibly charming about old neighborhoods.  If Sam and I ever buy a house, I would much prefer something such as this beauty I ran across, rather than a newer home:


In case you can't see the sign, it indicates that the house is 125 years old.  Amazing!  I'd love to live in a place with such character.  Speaking of buying a house, I walked past one that was for sale.  Thinking it would be fun to live near Marci, I took one of the information packets out front and learned that for only $329,000, Sam and I could own a 750 square foot home with two bedrooms and one bath.  Anyone want to give me $329,000?

And back to the wedding, and reality.  Here's Joni and my grandma.  You can see where we all get our good looks. :)
Ashley and Samantha were sweet flower girls.
 Joni was a stunning bride.

My dad did a great job officiating, and of course made me cry.

And some pictures from the gorgeous reception.  I love this picture of Joni:
T.J. with his beautiful daughter.
 Kristy and Mike with their cute son.
I almost made it through the toast without crying.  Fail.
The fun table.
Me and Marci.
I think we're dancing here.
Definitely dancing here.
 Apparently dancing with Rusty looked like fun, because as soon as I put him down, Samantha came over and wanted to dance with him.
They spent the next few minutes dancing together, super excited and completely cute.
It made my heart melt a lot.  When Ashley and Rusty left, Samantha kept trying to follow them and was saying their names, looking for them.  I love that they love each other.

And the sister is a Mrs. (Part I)

My sister got married on Monday.

I got to see some of my favorite people.

I had a Reese's McFlurry, a strawberry shake from In-N-Out, a peanut butter milkshake from Ruby's, and a Strawberries-n-cream tea latte from Coffee Bean all in the span of four days.

It was a great trip.

I will need to split this post into several posts, because there are so many pictures I want to share, and so much I want to say.  So we'll see how far I get before I get tired of typing and uploading pictures, and finish the rest later.  And since I'm fairly certain that most of the people that even read this blog were at the wedding, this might be totally pointless.  But, you know, we'll do it for posterity and everything.  And for JulieAnn.  Hey, JulieAnn.

Sam and I arrived in Long Beach Saturday afternoon, and when Joni and my mom picked us up from the airport, I threatened to start kicking people in the shins if I didn't get fed soon.  This was my way of being the supportive, helpful matron of honor for my sister.  So we picked up my dad and Sean and headed to Ruby's, a fun little fifties diner, where I quickly consumed the aforementioned peanut butter milkshake.  Then Sam and I were dropped off at Josh and Marci's, where we stayed for a couple nights.  Marci is one of the cutest people I know, and she has an adorable house that smells really yummy right when you walk in the door, and she scurried all over the house in her stockings like a little mouse and she was just too cute.  We were very grateful at their hospitality and had fun staying up late talking and laughing with them.  Unfortunately, no pictures.  All the pictures you'll see from this trip were either from my mom or Kristy, except the ones from my phone.  Our camera's battery was pretty much out the whole trip. 

Sunday was the rehearsal at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, which is a completely gorgeous venue.

Ashley and Nathan, showing each other love.
Kristy and I, rehearsing.  We really didn't need to rehearse much though; this was her third time being matron of honor and my fifth.  We're old pros.  Also Jason in the background, pretending to be secret service.
And Uncle Sam filling in as babysitter, since most of the parents were in the wedding, or are 9 months pregnant.  Good thing everyone loves Uncle Sam.

Next was the rehearsal brunch, where I discovered my niece loves taking self-portraits as much as I do.  She's a lot like me, which is probably why I like her so much.
Every time I tried to stop, she'd say, "Again!"  So this is what we got.  Her silly faces make me really proud.

Ashley loves my locket with Sara's picture in it, and every time I see her she begs me to open it so she can look at Sara.  She says how pretty Sara is and asks when she can see her.  It's very sweet.  So Ashley wanted Sara in the picture, too.
I love being an aunt.
And, of course, the happy couple.
The rest of Sunday was spent driving all over gathering supplies for the flowers, and putting together bouquets.  But I also made time for this little love bug.
This is me when I started putting the flowers together - perfectly serene.
And here's me towards the end.  I'm pretty sure I was not making this face on purpose.
At least the bride looks relaxed. :)  Here are the finished bouquets.  The big red and white one is Joni's.
And these pictures just make me happy.
These are my parents with their favorite people.
I just really like this picture of the Wuth men.
Monday - the big day!  Guess who is really good at tying bows and tulle onto chairs?
Joni, getting all bridal.
And here are some pre-wedding family pictures.
I promise you he loves me.
And I promise the three of us love each other.
See?
How cute are these children?  Like, not even biased.  They're cute.
And, I'm spent.  Wedding and reception to follow!
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