Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lord I want to go to heaven.... but I don't want to go tonight....

The title of this post comes from a Joe Diffie song called "Prop me up beside the jukebox if I die" - I think that it is pretty emblematic of a number of Christians that I know, and frankly, of myself on frequent occasions.

This morning I read the following article in Relevant magazine:

in which the author offers up an opinion piece about what it means to really be a Christian and look to heaven as our daily destination - rather than a place we'll go once we "reach our earthly goals."

This article really resonates with me, because so many of my friends have said things to me like "Well, I really want Jesus to come back - but I want it to be after I get married (read: have sex) and have kids." And my internal response to this comment (ok, sometimes my external response, too) is always, "Really?!?!"

I think that this shows how little we really think or know about what it will be like to be in heaven, or on earth for that matter. We completely underestimate the grace of God on earth and the presence of God in heaven.

In "The Four Loves" C.S. Lewis says "We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

When I first read the quote above, it really struck me how little I had been letting God infuse my day to day life. (I often still live this way, mud pies and all) And as I grew in Christ, I was continually reminded through scripture and prayer and experience, how much better heaven is and will be than this earthly coil.

As I experience my friends' marriages and learn about their struggles, I see that heaven will be a LOT better. (even better than the best marriages) As I play with my friends' children and enjoy their presence, I see the heaven will be a LOT better. Heaven will even be better than the feeling I get when my dog rushes to greet me when I come home.

I mean a LOT better.

But when we are living here on this planet, its really hard to remember that day in and day out. We get sort of coated with the reality of earth, lulled - like Dorothy in a sea of poppies - into thinking that the best of earth is the best there is anywhere. I think this is one of the devil's best tricks. If we can be convinced that the best there is is the best there is on earth, we will turn our heads aside from heaven, and ultimately God, and be satisfied with the mud pies.

My friend Karen always says that its like we are drinking glasses of toilet water when the freshest, coldest waterfall is right next to us just waiting to fill our glasses.

So for 2011, my prayer for me and for you, friend, is that we would enjoy what we have on earth, but only in the context of what we will have in heaven. That we will look expectantly toward God's coming with joy and not live in fear that God will return "before I have sex" or "before I get pregnant" or "before Baylor wins the Women's NCAA tourney" whenever any of those things may be. May instead we pray with the disciple: Come quickly Lord Jesus and do not tarry.

Monday, December 27, 2010

True Grit (Movie Review)

Last night my parents and I headed up over to the Cine Capri in Scottsdale to see True Grit. My mom remembered the original fondly, and was convinced that my dad and I would like it (despite neither of us having seen the original).

The story is that a man is killed by a drifter, and the man's 14yr old daughter, Maddy, decides that it is her responsibility to see the man caught and brought to justice - since no one else seems to care. She hires a drunken US Marshal, named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), to search for the killer. She says that he's the one she chooses because he has "true grit." Along the way, they team up with and spar with a Texas Ranger named Le Beouf (Matt Damon).

The dictionary defines grit as "indomitable spirit or pluck" - which ironically, is the thing that the young woman has in spades and that by her sheer presence others develop or display. In some ways, this young woman reminds me of Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame) whose very outlook on life causes others to reconsider how they've been living. While Maddy does not have Anne's happy outlook on life, she does have a courageous sense of justice and stubborn opinion about how justice should be pursued. When others balk at her resolve or question her decision to find the killer, she fixes them with a steely-eyed gaze that shames them into going along with her plan. Along the way, she grows up a bit, and melts the hearts of the hardened men along the road.

As expected from the Coen brothers, the cinematography is great, and the script is very tight. There are beautiful landscapes of the plains, forests, and mountains. There are lots of moments of silence and staring, but  somehow it doesn't seem uncomfortable or awkward. Maddy is charming and watching it, you desperately want her to succeed on her quest. Rooster is hardened, but as in all good stories, has a soft heart. La Beouf is a braggart, but funny, and brave.

True Grit is definitely one of my favorites of 2010. I give it a solid 5 $10 ponies out of 5. See this one in the theater if you can!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Films of 2010

I've mentioned my friends over at The Three Hands ( before - they have a great movie review website (as well as other reviews, including books etc). They are total movie lovers, like me, and even though they like more zombie-related fare than I do (read: any), I find that for the most part, our movie sensibilities line up and so if the crew over there likes a movie, there is a good chance I will, too.

At the end of each year, the crew puts up their best/worst of 2010 lists. Included in one of the lists was the video above, which is pretty stinkin' awesome. Its a sort of compilation of clips and bites from this year's movies. TOTALLY worth checking out. You will love it.

Seeing their list made me think of the new movies that I've seen this year and what I thought of them.
(movies are listed based on their release date to theaters, not in the order in which I saw them - some of them were not viewed in theaters but instead on my DVD-player, laptop, or on an airplane)

Leap Year: Totally cliche, but still Matthew Goode is hot and it made the flight back from London almost bearable (despite my annoying seat-neighbor).
The Book of Eli: I loved it. You can check out my review of it on the blog. Others did not like it. They are wrong.
When in Rome: Totally cliche also, but Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel make up for it because of their combined hotness. Frankly, this movie was ridiculous, but it made me laugh a lot as I winged my way across the atlantic toward London.
Valentine's Day: Disappointingly average on first viewing, improves marginally with second viewing. A better use of your time would be to re-watch Love Actually instead.
Bounty Hunter: Average, but also improves marginally with second viewing. There are some funny moments, but mostly Gerard Butler is not a very good comedic actor - I think its the way he has to super-enunciate to try to sound American.
Babies:  OMG. My mom and I just watched this movie and it was so stinking adorable and fascinating. Makes me want to adopt approximately 12 babies. Loved it.
Clash of the Titans: I thought it was alright - not as cheesy as the original, and included some fun elements. I saw it in 2D (on the plane, with annoying seat-neighbor interrupting me) and thought it was probably improved by being in 2D rather than remastered 3D (even though a friend of mine worked on the 3D conversion).
Last Song: Cheesy but sweet. I cried at the end, and not because the movie starred Miley Cyrus.
Date Night: I actually saw this movie on a first date. I enjoyed it a lot - except that my date kept trying to do weird things like feed me popcorn. Yes, seriously. Steve Carrell is not the most believable actor, but because he and Tina Fey will pretty much say or do anything for a laugh, I liked it and laughed a lot.
Iron Man 2: Not as good as the first, but still entertaining and exciting.
Sex and the City 2: I was forced to go to this movie by the girls in my bible study. Pretty much hated this movie more than any other movie I've seen in the last 10 years, and I saw "The Forgotten", so you know that I hated this movie. Don't see it, and if your wife/girlfriend/sister/mom/friend wants you to see it, turn and run.
The A-Team: I loved it. Don't hate on me, haters, I laughed, I was suspensed (is that a word), and some of those dudes are hot. I will totally see at least one more in this franchise if not all of them (but I will not see any of them in 3D if it comes to that).
Toy Story 3: A sweet romp through childhood. I won't buy these movies, probably, but I enjoyed seeing it a lot.
The Switch: Now this is a Jennifer Aniston movie that I could love. I love Jason Bateman, and this story - though predictable - was also just so sweet and funny.
Social Network: Mixed feelings here. This movie was brilliant, and the actors were incredible. The story was good and at the end, you are left with a lot of questions and suppositions. For me, at the end, I had a spiritual lesson on the price of Pride and trying to prove your worth to someone.
Life as We Know It: OK, yes, I know this cheesy Heigel/Duhamel flick didn't look that great, and yes, it was pretty predictable. But I got some good laughs, and thought that Heigel's grief scene in the beginning after she finds out her best friends have died was really terrific. (Duhamel's? Not so much)
Megamind: I had high hopes, they were dashed. There were a few funny moments, and a good message, but overall just average.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (p1): Was pleasantly surprised at how faithful this movie was to the book, and at how they managed to recover after leaving out key info from book/movie 6. Not my favorite movie of the series, but still very good.

2010 movies I will be seeing in theaters in the next two weeks:
True Grit
Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

There were also a lot of 2009 movies that I watched in 2010. The best of them are the following:
The Hurt Locker
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Whip It!
Crazy Heart

Movies I should have seen (or want to see) and which are already on my Netflix queue so that my errors can be rectified as soon as they are released on DVD: (or which I may see in theaters, should they still be around when I get my act together)
The Town
Despicable Me
King's Speech

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Dad on TV!

Hi Friends!!

I'm so excited to tell you that my dad was on TV this morning, singing with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Dad has been a part of a number of choruses. He was part of the Seattle Symphony Chorus when we lived in Seattle and then in Phoenix was a part of 4 or 5 different choruses, including the Phoenix Symphony Chorus, which sometimes performs with the Phoenix Symphony but frequently performs together without the symphony.

The Symphony Chorus has been featured on a number of local morning shows the last few weeks, in promotion of their upcoming series of concerts performing Handel's Messiah. However, today was the first day that my dad was free from school (its finals) and able to be there. Check out the interview below with the director of the Symphony, Michael Christie, and an excerpt from the Messiah performed by the Chorus. My dad is in the back row on the left!

Just in case you aren't sure what my dad looks like, here is a photo of me and dad from Ben's recent wedding.

Friday, December 3, 2010

"My name is ____ and I'm a ninth generation circus performer"

I struggled with even how to title this post. I didn't it to be just about clowns or my long-held desire to be a clown. But I didn't know a circus-y phrase that would capture the spirit of what I'm about to tell you about.

People - listen to this: There is a miniseries on PBS (6-1hr episodes) called "Circus"  - which documents the life in one year of the Big Apple Circus.

If you are like me, that sentence alone should be enough to make you want to check your local PBS listings and figure out how to carve 6 hours in order to watch this really fascinating show.

Just in case it isn't... here's a more elaborate review after having watched 2 gripping hours of this journey.

The Big Apple Circus is a "traditional one-ring European-style circus." This series is the story of all the people it takes to make a circus - from the talent who are the most obvious members of the circus troupe (trapeze artists, equestrian, clowns, jugglers, etc) to the producers and directors to the "ring crew" the people who really make the magic happen as the circus moves from town to town. You learn about their history, their lives, their performances, and how it all comes together. And its magical.

I'm not kidding - MAGICAL and fascinating. I wondered if watching this documentary would sort of ruin it for me. You know, that if I saw the "man behind the curtain" I would no longer believe in the Wizard. But if anything, it actually makes me love the circus MORE by seeing how it all comes together. The series gives you a glimpse into how the "circus people" live: the ring crew and staff live in basically "walk-in closets" (bunks and shelves, with no internal bathrooms) - food is provided for them by the circus; the producers/directors/performers live in RV's. The children attend school in a one-room schoolhouse (which is also a trailer). And people have real lives throughout the year, as you watch (one gets arrested, another becomes ill, etc). It gives you a glimpse into how the acts come together, how new people are trained, and how the show itself is shaped.

You can buy the series on PBS, if you know someone who would like it. Since PBS is in jeopardy around the country, it would be worth it to do so. But you can also watch full episodes online (as well as some exclusive web clips).

I give "Circus" five big tops out of five - for compelling drama, exciting athletics, and entertaining people. Check it out.

First - respond in the comments about what performer you'd like to be in a circus (if any) - or what your favorite part about the circus is!

Next - check out this clip, which is about clowns (because I've always wanted to be a clown and go to children's wards and cheer up kids):

Watch the full episode. See more Circus.

Finally, you can go to this website for more clips and full episodes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Week in Review

Some of my blogging friends post review of their weeks or months and since my life has been so crazy lately that I haven't even been able to write the posts that I've started, I thought it might be fun to do a some week in review postings over the next few weeks just so that I can keep the blog updated.

So, here we go!

Last week was crrrrrazy!

Sunday: I had my last Sunday with the Growing Kids Sunday school class for a few weeks - it was INSANITY - 30+ kids and for a while, no parent helpers. Needless to say, I almost fell asleep during church I was so exhausted. Later, my friend Jessica and I watched Amazing Race together.
Monday: I worked a long day to make up for going out of town. I was asked to talk on the phone and to my coworkers less, which left a bad taste in my mouth as I headed home to pack for a trip to Phoenix.
Tuesday: 7 hours in the car with my dog, followed by a shopping trip with my mom where we found a great wedding outfit for her, jewelry and makeup. After grama went to sleep we got blizzards and it was like the best blizzard EVER! (It had truffles in it - enough said)

Wednesday: We celebrated my mom's 40th service anniversary with her company. We had a great time at her work, meeting her coworkers and hearing anecdotes about her awesomeness.

Thursday: Shopping with Grama at Goodwill stores around town. We had a good time and got her a pair of winter boots for $8 - score! Later that night, all three of us got dressed up and went downtown to hear my dad sing with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. The concert was really good and we had really terrific seats on the main floor!

Friday: Grama, mom and I packed up the dogs and the car and headed to El Centro to get ready for Ben's wedding. (Dad joined us in the afternoon) We had a fun lunch with Ben, Isabel and Angel (my new nephew) and later, mom, dad and I took Angel out to dinner and a movie.

Saturday: My brother got married!!! Before that we had a fun lunch with some of my aunts and uncles, and we helped get all the details set up for the event. It was really awesome to see Ben so happy and in love and to know that he and Isabel are a good fit for each other.

Sunday: I had driven with my aunts back to San Diego after the wedding and so we spent a relaxing day exploring La Jolla and Coronado Island - the weather was great and we had some great laughs! Later, we watched the Amazing Race together.

It was a kind of exhausting week, but also really fun. This next week promises to also be exhausting but fun. I'll be posting about it next week.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Friday Fun!: Double Trouble

Admittedly, these videos may only be fun for me, since I know all the people involved. But I have to say that the JibJab videos ALWAYS make me laugh and so I'm glad they have them for times other than just at Christmas.

Hopefully you don't hate "The Monster Mash" since both of these videos are set to that song...


Video #1: My brother, his wife and my new nephew, me and my mom.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Video #2: the Ferg kiddos. Pixie, the "evil scientist" is only 20 months old, so I find this one particularly funny...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bonus Saturday video fun!

Y'all know I'm a fan of the David Crowder*Band. For lots of reasons, but mostly because I think they make smart music that talks about God in ways that a wide variety of people can understand.

Well, recently they completed their music video for the song "SMS(Shine)" from their Church Music album which came out last year. The video has been getting a lot of notice because it was created using stop-motion animation and Lite Brites - over 700,000 pegs! I want it to keep getting noticed and I think you'll think it is as cool as I thought it was. Check it out, below!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Funny! (10/22)

I haven't posted a Friday Funny video in a while. Today I was thinking about the importance of punctuation in clear communication and it reminded me of this comedy routine by Victor Borge. Borge is quoted as saying, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." - an idea I can totally agree with.

Enjoy today's video!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Murders and Mysteries (or: Why I will be a Flapper for every costume party for the next 4 years)

My friend Jessica recently celebrated her birthday. I felt pretty excited to be invited to her birthday celebration which she decided would be a Murder Mystery Party.

First - it is important that you know how much I love murder mysteries.

I love them a lot.

I started reading Agatha Christie mysteries in 5th or 6th grade and never looked back. Since then I have read a ton of mysteries - though Agatha Christie and Dick Francis are still my favorite authors. (If you like mysteries, check out Break In and Bolt by Francis - two of my all-time faves)

Second - in the winter of 1998 (I think...) my friends and I had a murder mystery party set in the 1970s to celebrate New Year's Eve. We had a lot of fun and there were pictures taken, but sadly as they were in the days before digital, I am totally not sure where I could find one to scan and put in this post. The point of this second point is this: I like murder mystery parties!

Third: After purchasing all the ingredients for this costume, I decided that the financial investment means that I must be a flapper for at least the next few Halloweens (provided I dress up) and for any other costume-y adventure that comes my way for the next few years. Luckily, I love the costume!

So Jessica planned this party - set in the 1920s, during Prohibition. Her role was a Rosie Marie, the widowed owner of a speakeasy, The Juice Joint. Originally, I was slated to be the "Chief of Police", but because of a person getting sick, I ended up in the roll of "Molly Moll" - fiancee of Notorious Nick - mob boss of the Northside of town.

Highlights of the evening included:

* Jessica required a password for entry. Though many did not investigate to find out what the password was, I did, and it was fun to find the back entrance to the apartment and use my password to get into to the party.

* Everyone came dressed in costume and did a great job of being "in character"

* Getting to know some of Jessica's other friends and having a great conversation about religion with one of them.

Here are some photographic memories of the evening:

The Hostess and Molly

Bootleggers sometimes need some time alone.
I wasn't the murderer, but not for lack of trying....

Molly was an aspiring actress - here I am, ready for my closeup!

Me and my bohunky fake fiance. It was nice to be engaged for an evening.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bat Mitzvah Fun (part 1)

On Saturday, I was privileged to attend the Bat Mitzvah events of my faculty advisor's daughter, Sami. The events included the Shabbat (Sabbath) service on Saturday morning, followed by a luncheon for those who attended the service. And then later that night there was a party/dinner for Sami's friends (and some of Linda and Norman's family and friends).

Late last spring, Linda asked me if I would be interested in helping her with the Bat Mitzvah details. Now lets be clear - she did all the work of planning and organizing. My role was simply this: help design/create the centerpieces (she even did this - I just took her ideas/vision and refined it), be at the temple on Friday to set up the tables for the luncheon, and then be present at the events on Saturday to make sure that everything went smoothly and ended up in the right places. This is the kind of job that, frankly, I do well - I'm good at details and I'm good at knowing what needs to be done and good at observing what is happening around the room. I don't always like to do it (like its not always my favorite job at weddings) - because to do it well, you have to be necessarily outside of the event. In this case, it was perfect, because I was outside the event - so I was able to observe and help while still enjoying the food and meeting people, but not feeling bad when I had to leave to run errands or take stuff to the car. For this particular job, we agreed on a fee that I would receive. We also agreed that if I could find a helper for Friday and/or Saturday that they would also earn a small fee.

Linda gave me some supplies to work with in designing the centerpieces. Because Sami had asked all the guests to bring art supplies to donate to a local not-for-profit organization, The Friendship Circle, the centerpieces were to be primarily art supplies (with three gerber daisy's each). I created a few design options for her and sent her the pics. We decided on one that she liked and then later she came over and we played around with it a bit in person.

Above is one of the centerpieces. You can see that its like a little garden of art supplies with three tall gerber daisies. For the luncheon, my friend Lisa was my helper. We set up an assembly line for the centerpieces and once they were done, we set them all on purple squares on the tables, with jelly beans. Adorable!

The reception hall looked totally beautiful after we got it all set up.
kids tables

the pretty purple tables

I loved that the tables for the kids just said "Samantha's Friends"

And the Jelly Belly's added so much brightness and fun to the table decorations.

the whole room

We used the extra centerpieces on the table-card table.

the table cards were adorable.

After the luncheon was cleaned up and loaded into the car and van, I went to Lindas and switched out the daytime stuff for the night time stuff. Then I ferried her and Sami on some errands. Later, I had about an hour break and so I stopped for a pedicure (in Beverly Hills, so I felt swanky). I really needed that pedi by then. The finished product looked great and I got to wear my DKNY shoes with pride. Double pride, really, because I only paid $8.50 for them at Ross!

Before I put on those dancing shoes, though, I helped set up for the dinner events. This deal was pretty easy (comparatively). I created centerpieces using the recovered daisies from the earlier luncheon, and using candy for the kids tables.

Tables for the grown ups....

Kids' tables
I think that Sami ended up having a really terrific time. She smiled non-stop the entire night - and most of the night I marveled at what it must be like to be 13 years old in 2010. Those kids were crazy!!

Linda and Sami

Sami and her brother, Jeremy
(another post to come about the Shabbat ceremony itself)

My commitment to ME!

I'm not so motivated these days. I want to be, but I'm not. I think because there is a lot for me to do:

1) finish the CENS report for my summer job. (we'll say due 10/18)

2) finish the statistical analysis and writing of my Campus Spiritual Climate paper for the ASHE conference (due 10/22)

3) come up with some research questions/ideas for my dissertation (personal goal: due 10/28)

4) figure out how to do my dissertation (methods) (personal goal: due 10/28-ish)

5) finish the other two ASHE papers that I am presenting at the conference (due 10/22)

So here is my new commitment to me:
A) I will work diligently on these projects daily, following my pre-outlined schedule.
B) If I do work diligently, then I don't have to work in the evenings and I don't have to feel guilty about not working in the dark hours.
C) If I do work diligently, then I get to work on making some awesome sewing projects as my ministry to me. I just purchased the book Sew Serendipity and am excited to make some new clothes over the next few months.

On that note, I better get to work! I have 2 1/2 more hours before I get to stop for the day. Peace, peeps.

Rearranging (my secret love)

If you've ever lived with me (and most of you haven't) you would know how much I like to rearrange furniture. Since you generally have to live in the same location for at least a year and often much longer, rearranging makes me feel like I"m in a new place. I love that with 30 minutes or so of work, you can gain an entirely new perspective on the room: what you see, what you don't see, and how much space you have.

On Friday morning, I helped my faculty advisor set up the reception hall at her Temple, for the luncheon that would follow Saturday's Bat Mitzvah. Afterward, I had to stop by Joanne Fabrics for some ribbon and then I knew that I should do some work on my conference papers.

But I had a wild hair (that's what we call it in my family at least). I had a vision for how the living room could be rearranged and I was unable to resist the siren's call to rearrange. Seriously, impulse control when it comes to rearranging is a weakness for me. The real problem is that I am the most effective worker when I am inspired, thus if I am inspired about the room, I need to just do it. The same is true with my writing - if I'm not inspired, it is drudgery and does not go well - however, when I am inspired, or have a vision for what I'm writing, it flows like crazy. 

Well, here is a short video tour of my newly arranged living room. I'm not 100% sure that it will stick this way for three months (which is how long I have lived in the apartment and thus how long the original configuration lasted) but I do think that it will last until after Thanksgiving, as it seems to give a lot more space to the living room, where grama and I will be sleeping when I host the holiday weekend events.

What do you think?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What has two thumbs and 8 questions to answer? This girl!

My friend Carrie tagged me in a post and assigned me 8 questions to answer. Here you go.....

1. What are five things in life you have not yet experienced that you definitely want to experience?
Italy - in particular the wine country of Italy
A Cruise
Fly internationally in First Class

2. If you could be from anywhere in the world other than your hometown, where would you be from and why?
Well, the fact is that I love my hometown, so I don't really want to be from anywhere else. BUT - if I had been born somewhere else, I would want to be from Atlanta, Georgia. I think from the instant I read Gone with the Wind in 7th grade, I loved the south and wanted to live in Georgia. As an adult, its the people from the south - their friendliness and warmth - that really attract me to that area.

3. What scares you?
I watch too many police procedurals, I think, because one thing that really scares me are poorly-lit parking lots.

4. What is one vice that you know you could never give up?
 Well, part of me says that I should say "TV". I think I could totally limit the amount of TV that I watch (often I have it on just for background noise) - but I don't think I could ever give up my TV completely.

5. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
 I was having a really rough time and one of my mentors said to me, "Your time of greatest trial always comes before your time of greatest use." At the time it was a good word for me, to help me see a light at the end of the tunnel and to remember that God can use all of our experiences for his good; he will redeem all things for His good and glory.

6. If you could do life all over again and only change one thing, what would you change?
I would have kept playing either the violin or flute through high school and beyond.

7. Who was your favorite celebrity as a child?
100% Kirk Cameron. I had a poster of him... on my ceiling. 

8. What is your mission?
I prefer to think in terms of calling, rather than mission. I feel like my calling is to help college students discover their calling and a sense of purpose in their lives. Where possible, I want to help college students grow in their relationship with Jesus, or discover a relationship with him. I want to help them find freedom in Christ.
This response is also a little bit disingenuous because I actually do have a mission statement (see sidebar) but now that I am halfway through my PhD program, I am only certain of my calling - but not so certain about any specific mission. Hopefully in the next two years I'll be able to figure all of this out!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ben's Getting Married!

I think that most of you who are regular readers of Tiff's Life have only known me in my adulthood. That being the case, very few of you have met my younger brother, Ben. After college, I moved back up to Seattle while my parents and brother lived in Phoenix. Ben lived there until just recently and only visited me a handful of times in my various cities.

Ben has gone by a number of names over the years. Growing up he was Benji. In middle school, he switched to Ben. I have called him Benny, though, for a number of years. (And he is one of a very few people that I let call me Tiffy) Growing up, we both loved each other a ton and fought like cats and dogs. As adults, I love him so much and am super proud of him.

Wow, all that to say that just over 6 months ago, Ben got engaged to Isabel.

Isabel is a terrific woman - she's a great communicator, loves her family and is loyal to them, and she loves to have fun. Also, she really loves my brother. Isabel also has a young son named Angel, who is the sweetest and most enthusiastic little 7-year old I know.

Last weekend, I drove to El Centro (which is near the Mexican border in the southern tip of Cali) for Ben and Isabel's wedding shower. It was also my opportunity to meet my soon-to-be nephew for the first time. There aren't words for how excited I am for Ben and Isabel to get married, for Benny to be a dad, and for me to be an aunt. My mom drove over for the shower also (dad had a retreat for chorale so he had to miss it) and we had a nice mini  girls weekend, also.

It was great to see Ben, who has lost about 70 lbs since I saw him last! I hadn't seen him in months and although he has been much better about calling and texting since he moved to EC, its not the same as seeing him in person. Isabel has also lost some weight and they both look really great!! I'm so impressed with the work they've been doing!

The wedding is November 13th. I'm super psyched to be able to attend their wedding and share that event with them. I'm even more excited that not only will my parents and I be there, but also my grama and a few of my aunts and an uncle. It will be great that so many of us will be there to celebrate with Ben, Isabel, and Isabel's family and all their friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Even more haps! September Edition

The great part about September was that I didn't have to travel anywhere until right at the end.....

Here is a look at some of the September adventures!

Tiny and I went with some friends to "Dog Beach" in Long Beach.....

My parents came into town for Labor Day weekend and we went to "Let's Make a Deal"! Mom and dad dressed waffles and syrup. Jessica dressed as a Shark (her last name is Sharkness, so it was fitting) and I dressed as a referree!

Some adventures happened in the middle of September but I have no photographic record of them and my planner is far away, so I can't even tell you what they were....

Then I went to the Fergason's!!

 I love them so much....

they blessed my heart with their smiles and laughter...

 they shocked me with how big they are getting....

they blessed me with their total love of me and excitement with me being at their home...

and their gratitude for the gifts I gave them...

And then I got back to California and it was so hot my thermostat maxxed out.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More haps... August ed.

August went by super quickly - before I knew it, it was over. But here is a quick recap of the happenings in August!

It seemed like Tiny might be getting cold on our morning walks, so I bought him a little fleece outfit. He subsequently stood and stared at me while wearing it - as if to say, "I hate you so much right now." After taking the picture, below, I got rid of it and decided that no cute outfit (or warm dog) was worth enduring that look again... :)

I flew to San Francisco in the 2nd week of August to participate in another wedding! Bethany and Ryan got married in a cute little wedding in a park in the city, near Lombard Street!
(at the bachelorette party, above)

The wedding crew visited Alcatraz - it was one of the best audio tours I've ever taken!

Bethany and Ryan bought us all San Francisco t-shirts as a "thank you" for helping with the wedding.

... and then they got married!

Near the end of the month, President Obama visited LA - his visit messed up the commute and we ended up walking halfway home from UCLA (below - the crew who joined me). We made it a fun experience by stopping for fro yo along the way.

To close out the month, my friend, Shark, and I headed to Griffith Park to see one of my favorite Shakespeare plays: Much Ado about Nothing!! She had not seen it before and we both enjoyed it a ton!

Last but not least, I bought a table!! Woo hooo!!!!!