Monday, July 25, 2011

I Love Harry Potter

Yes, I love Harry Potter. And Hermione, and Ron, and Dumbledore. I also love Luna, Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Snape, and sweet Neville. I love them all. (Well, except you-know-who... obviously.)

I started loving Harry Potter in the summer of 2007 - right after graduating from college. I had just started my first job and was temporarily living back at home with my parents. Every day after coming home from work, I would grab something cold to drink out of the fridge and head to my back bedroom, lay on the bottom bunk, and delve into the world of Hogwarts, Quiddich, and flying brooms. During the week I would read a book and then that weekend I would watch a corresponding movie. I read all seven books that summer.

I loved the battle of good vs. evil, I loved the way the characters developed and grew up, and I loved the Harry Potter world my imagination created.

Obviously, in 2007, all of the movies weren't out yet - so I have watched them as they have come out - and this weekend marked my last date with Harry Potter. So, I did what every other loyal fan does. I bought tickets to the midnight showing and dressed up.

Here I am in my Gryffindor ensemble:

And here I am with my friend Elizabeth - we have on matching ties. (-:

We also have a friend who happens to be Harry Potter's look-a-like, so of course I got a pic with him.

Told ya - and here we are, all smiling:

Did we love it? Duh. I am sad it's over? You have no idea. And I have to admit that while I was skeptical of how the last movie would be (I didn't love the ending in the book), they made it incredibly awesome and I loved every second. We have spent way too much time talking about the characters and their roles and dissecting the movie since seeing it. It. Was. Awesome.

Another pretty great aspect of this fabulous midnight showing was that we got on the news. Seriously:

We are pretty legit. (-:

Since you are reading this blog, you must be somewhat of a blog reader, so you will likely enjoy this blog post  by Andrew Peterson entitled, "Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me". It's fabulous, and well worth your time.

So, do you love Harry Potter? Did you go to the midnight showing?

I can't wait to see it again.

Happy Tuesday!


Thursday, July 21, 2011


I've had several requests from people to explain who Karlie is and how she came to be a part of our family. So, I thought I would try my best to capture how our lives have changed over the past nine months.

As you know, we moved into our new home on September 30th of last year. We kicked off our first day in our house by eating wings from the local wing place on the furniture-less living room floor, and praying together that the Lord would use our home to honor him and minister to other people. We didn't have a clue that exactly one month from that day that the Lord would take us up on that request.

The first three weeks in our house were filled with a unpacking, a one week vacation to California, and a week of me being gone all day every day for opera. I had hardly gotten to even see my house during the daylight!

After we had been here three weeks, we found out about a girl who needed a place to live. Karlie was a 17-year-old high school senior with striking blond hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a laugh that you can hear from a mile away. Long story short, her father had unexpectedly passed away a couple of years before, and her new home situation since then was not ideal. So, it was a perfect storm. She needed a home, and we had three empty bedrooms.

We knew Karlie from church and knew she was a great girl, so after finding out about her need, Mark and I said "Are you thinking what I'm thinking", and within twenty-four hours we decided that we really wanted her to move in with us. (Crazy, I know, but when you hear that still, small voice, you listen.) So, that Saturday, she came over and we talked about what she could expect, and she decided to move in on a "trial basis". And, as they say, the rest is history.

We skipped the diapers and went straight to high school.

So, what's it like living with a teenager? Well, I'm definitely up on my cool youtube videos and lingo. Our front door is like a swinging gate, and our back door - well, let's just say we are air conditioning the neighborhood. (-: Our trampoline is getting used, and one bathroom could win a competition for the most toothpaste residue around a sink. Christmas morning became even better than I thought possible. I have a personal fashion consultant, and Melvin and Boo got a new friend named Bella. It means late and loud get-togethers, and lots of music. There's dance parties and lots of laughing. There's scholarship applications. Due to our house becoming party central, our refrigerator has become a free for all, meaning a half a gallon of milk might only last one day, and a pound of peanut butter usually lasts about a week. Ha. It means helping with homework, listening to lots of speeches for class, and holding up flashcards for tests. But you know what? I love every second of it.

Living with a teenager also means late night talks about boys and future husbands. It means dealing with hurting hearts and mean girls. It means curfews and an occasional broken curfew. (-: It means talking about dreams and college and aspirations and faith. It brings a close eye to the way Mark and I talk to each other. It challenges my fortitude when I sew a prom dress thirty minutes before the date gets there. And I love every second of it.

But beware, having a teenager become part of your family will change you. It will stir these protective and fierce feelings of love inside you. It will make your heart melt when a phone call ends with "I love you, Kathryn". It will make your heart ache with the thought of her going off to college and leaving the house too quiet. It might give you some rose colored glasses - as Mark would say, "she's perfect". It will teach you to make your marriage one that is a witness and an encouragement. It will scare you when you get asked really deep and meaningful questions. And it will make you want to go postal on anyone who is hurtful to her. And it teaches you even more about sacrificial love. And you know what? I love every second of it.

We are so thankful the Lord has allowed us to have this girl become part of our lives, and couldn't imagine life without her. We always knew we wanted daughters, but didn't expect to get one quite so soon. And it doesn't hurt that we have the same shoe size. (-: As much as we are dreading her leaving for school, we take comfort in the fact that she will be coming home for weekends, Christmas, and summers, and she will always be a part of our family.

I love you, my little lamb chop!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Staycation

I took a staycation. And it. was. awesome. I have been wanting to take a staycation for a while, but wanted to do it at the right time. After working 29 days and only having two days during that time where I was off work and home, I figured I was overdue. So, I took advantage of the free Fourth of July holiday, and took almost a full week off of work! Here are some pictures from the week:

Fourth of July and our awesome outfits:

And here are Mark and I at another Fourth of July gathering, watching fireworks:

I feel like I need to add that Mark and I met at a fireworks stand back in 1998, so he always says our relationship "started with fireworks". This gives every fireworks display more meaning. (-:

I planted some beautiful flowers:

Someone got too friendly with the sprinkler and had to get blow-dried:

Someone else got groomed and is officially the cutest poodle ever:

I had girl time with lots of friends - and one friend and I happened to both have on polar bear pajamas, so I figured that was photo worthy:

I watched lots of Harry Potter in preparation for the newest  movie this week:

Cookie baking definitely took place (more than once):

Mark and I attended a wedding reception and they had cupcakes that we got to eat and decorate:

And last but not least, I got to spend extra time with Jesus, and that was wonderful:

One of my favorite things was not setting my alarm each night when went to bed, and not waking up before around 10:00am. (-: That was pretty awesome. 

So, I am a lover of the staycation. It was super cheap (I only spent money on flowers to plant, one skirt I bought, coffee at a coffee shop, and baking ingredients). For a vacation, you really can't beat that. And it was nice to slow down and not be busy. 

Have you ever had a staycation?


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Thing About Hope

Mark: "What do you want to do?"
Me: "Let's stare into each other's eyes and talk about our hopes and dreams."

I don't know how or when this ridiculous conversation started, but it was before we were married and it takes place semi regularly. We like to talk about our hopes and dreams. And those big brown eyes are awful dreamy. (-:

I've been thinking a lot about hope lately. We've been talking about it too - Mark and I take walks regularly, and we talk about all kinds of things, including our hopes and dreams. Sometimes we talk about happy things, and somethings things that aren't as happy. Things other people would likely think are weird - like if hope is really a good thing or not. We always hear people talk about it, and I've started realizing that I have quite a love/hate relationship with hope. All you have to do is look at a few quotes about hope to see the extremes through which it is viewed:

Some people love hope:
Once you choose hope, anything's possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

The miserable have no other medicine but only hope. ~William Shakespeare
Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.  ~Author Unknown

Whereas some people don't:

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

There is nothing so well known as that we should not expect something for nothing - but we all do and call it Hope.  ~Edgar Howe

Hope is independent of the apparatus of logic.  ~Norman Cousins

And then we all know those sayings - like about how "hope is not a strategy", and how we should "never deprive someone of hope because it may be all they have."


I've always considered myself a hopeful person. I've "hoped for the best", and when things haven't been the best, I've hoped they would change. I've felt that sometimes hope really is all a person may have. And that when things are a real bummer, there's always hope, right?

But hope has been on my mind lately, because sometimes, hope hurts. I'm starting to understand what Nietzsche said when he said it prolongs torment and is the worst of all evils. It seems like hope doesn't allow for closure in a terrible situation. I mean, really, how long should a person hold onto hope before letting go and moving on? Sometimes hope really makes my heart ache. Wouldn't it be easier to just give up hope? So what about when hope starts to seem unrealistic and hurts more than it helps?

But isn't hope itself unrealistic by nature? It's thinking about something completely turning around in a direction we want. And generally, it's something that's out of our control as well. It's like this longing, deep within us, that we choose to keep alive.

It seems like sometimes if it weren't for blasted hope we could just move on. We could "get over it". We could have more realistic expectations. We could heal.

But can we have it all? Healing, realistic expectations, and hope? I mean who wants to be the person that gives us hope? And isn't there always hope through Jesus? And isn't hope like faith? That's what makes it tough for me. Even in the most "hopeless" situations, while hope is definitely not a strategy, it can be a comfort.

I guess, like everything, it's a balancing act. We have to balance hope with each situation. Maybe we should never give up hope, yet we should be realistic. We should allow ourselves to heal by accepting our situations as they are, and keep that little flicker of hope alive. 

Because just what if, what we hope for actually happens some day, but we gave up on it long ago? What then? 

So, even though it hurts an awful lot sometimes, I think I will choose hope. A realistic hope. A hope that allows for healing and moving on. 

What about you? Are you conflicted about hope? Has it been good for you, or painful? What do you think?

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.
Psalm 71:14


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DIY: Mud Pit Be Gone

As you know, we own a home... or least we probably own the porch swing by now. I think the other 99% of the house is still owned by the bank. But you get the picture. Along with the awesomeness of having our own home means that I can't just call the apartment office when I need a light bulb changed. Those were the good ole days. Seriously. Because right now, I can think of about six DIFFERENT kinds of light bulbs that need to be replaced at my house. This is going to require me personally going and buying said light bulbs and figuring out how to change them. And while that might sound ridiculous, some of them are inside light fixtures. So not only do I have to buy the right size light bulb, I have to figure out how to get it in the fixture. This is a goal of mine for next week. Anyway, I have completely digressed.Bottom line - there's no apartment office to fix things. I am the apartment office.

So, owning a home also means I own the mud pit that has made itself right at home in my backyard. The mud pit that has become the personal playground of Boo, Melvin, and Bella. The mud pit that has made certain that grass has no chance of growing. The mud pit that laughs at me when I fork over money to yet again have Boo groomed because he decided to lay in the mud pit. This is the mud pit:

See that green square? Yes, that's a French drain. Unfortunately, that French drain is just slightly off from the mud pit and the water flows away from the drain, meaning, it's not really helping out. Everyday when our neighbors water their flowers, the mud pit returns.

So, the other day, my hero, Jeff, looked in our yard and was like, "You know, I think I can fix that". I, of course, got really excited because (A.) I clearly have no clue how to fix something like that - I mean, I'm having light bulb anxiety over here, and (B) I really wanted the mud pit gone. In fact, I got so excited that I started bragging to my neighbor - the neighbor with the flower bed and the sprinkler. He was outside, and I was "checking out" some drainage stuff,  because I'm a drainage expert. He inquired about the drainage, and I started making all these proclamations about how my boss Jeff could totally fix the drainage problems easily, and he could do it for like $40. I think I might have even waved my arms around for extra dramatic effect. You could tell my neighbor was skeptical of my proud claims, but I knew it my heart Jeff could do it - so I told him I'd "keep him updated" - code language for "I'll let you know when I prove he can do it".

A couple of days later, the project started. We started digging (okay - mainly Jeff and Mark dug). Our goal was to put in another drain along the same pipe thing so the water wouldn't just pool. After finding the pipe thing, I got out all my fancy pants tools and started digging. myself. Here was my work site:

I love my pink tool kit. It's awesome. Here's what I had to drink while I worked:

Yes - sweet tea - with lip gloss marks. Because if you can't look good while digging a French drain, why do it?

And here I am, glad to be working outside on a beautiful day:

After making it completely through Joni Mitchell's "Blue" record and through most of James Taylor's "New Moon Shine", I had made some seriously impressive progress:

Yes. I dug all the way under the drain pipe thing and around it so that we could fit another drain in. This was pretty much the extent of my expertise. Digging. After that, I needed help. So, I took a break and waited for the expert.

Once the expert came, things started happening really quickly. There was a lot of sweat and grunting - it was like Bob Vila on steroids. Things just magically went into place. I clearly wasn't needed, but I watched and it was amazing. This is what the hole quickly looked like:

After cutting the pipe thing, Jeff stuck the new drain on there. We poured some water in to make sure it worked, and sure enough, it did. Then, I got to pretend like I did something really awesome:

Okay don't judge me. Someone has to put the lid on. And really, who's more qualified than me?

Clearly no one.

So, after the lid was on, we filled in the hole and smoothed the dirt around it, and this is what it now looks like:

Legit, huh?

So, the mud puddle is no longer. We are still watching to see how it holds up and if we need to put in one more. Either way, it's already way better, Mark and I learned a new skill, and I'm basically a professional drain digger. I know you are all so impressed. Might I add, this only cost $16 to fix - less than the originally estimated $40.

I hope everyone had a wonderful fourth of July. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the mommy bunny took the babies and moved them - probably because we were a little too friendly with them. Oh, well. (-:


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