back in the blogosphere!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I know I have been missing from the blogosphere basically this whole summer.. Well, lots of things have been going on. Here is a quick little update before I get more indepth about summer travels and the SpouseLink conference in later posts. Things have been quite busy with painting, grad school, traveling, and continual spring cleaning (seriously).. so I'm finally back! To an extent.

First, Marshall & I celebrated our 3rd anniversary recently! 8.14.11 we were married in his hometown and have been enjoying every minute since then. It is hard to believe it's been 3 years!! But then again, time flies! I wrote a little bit about it in my last post and also, one our 1-year anniversary, posted wedding pictures here.

I am still painting and selling in my Etsy shop!! Feel free to visit & let me know what you think!! This Snow White canvas was a custom order for a friend of a friend & I love how it turned out! I also sold a Frozen print & have been giving some away to get my little shop's name out. I think soon is about time for a giveaway.. what do you think?? Your choice of a framed print of a painting, or maybe a custom order with a 12x16 canvas?? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! I would love to get a bunch of us bloggers together (especially if you have an Etsy shop, small business, are a consultant, or the like) and do a collective giveaway and post about all this fun stuff.

We have lots of books; this is one of 2 bookcases, both of which are jampacked with our reads. We love the wedding photo canvas my parents gave us that's on top, and Trouble loves being perched up there to see everything that's about in the living room. Yes, this happens daily.

This also happens daily: Scruffy Spice loves sitting in the windowsill/couch to look outside at all hours of the day, and makes the sweetest faces. We are just crazy about our pup! It's wild to think that we've had her for over 3 years now..

Also, yes, I am chugging along in grad school. These are the books I have been studying for 2 of my grad classes, and I'm a couple weeks in already. I have to work ahead since we will be going out of town soon, so within the next few days I will already be past midterms! (Thank you 8 week sub-terms!) Doing these classes online is really nice to be able to go at my own pace and work ahead if needed. I've also started a program to get my certification through the state of Texas, since that's home and where we will be once Marshall gets out in the future. It is a little surreal! A year from today I should be knee deep in student teaching/interning, and am very excited! In the meantime, working at the preschool is so fun! Those kids make it worth it and I didn't realize how much I would love that age group!
Ok, so some of these things I may have already touched on the other week. Next Im hoping to do a recap of our time at Disneyland, and finally of the SpouseLink conference. I promise I'm trying to be more disciplined in blogging consistently!!! Goodness, there is my word-of-the-year again: discipline. Until next time, here's a sweet picture we got of us at Disneyland! We went for our anniversary/birthdays and loved it. And I haven't even gotten to the part about the hotel on the grounds we stayed at....

during the hiatus...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Oh, I have been a bad blogger. I haven't spent some real time in the interwebs for weeks! (Months!) So here I am, and I promise I will try to be more consistent. This here is a little update on what's going on in this nest, and a way to ease myself back into a groove with this whole thing.
First, summer travel updates will come later. Because today is our anniversary - 3 years! Oh, it's hard to believe sometimes. Well, you know. It feels like it was just yesterday that we met - let alone get married - and then, it feels like we've known each other for-ev-er and maybe a bit too well. But we still surprise each other every day, and I know this will always be the case, even when we're old and gray! At least, while Marshall is actually home, since he's been away a lot lately with work. So when he gets back in a few days, we will really celebrate our anniversary - I think a trip to Disneyland is in order! We still have 2 days of our hopper passes to use within the next month before they expire in the next fiscal year, which is very soon. We will see what happens! I know this seems like it's all over the place, but here are a few of my fave photos over the years:
Wedding: 8.14.11

Wedding: 8.14.11

TBS Family Warrior Day (before graduation): September 2012

Elaina (Marshall's twin) & Dylan's wedding: October 2013
Ok, so only a handful of photos, because my favorite photos of ours are already on this site probably in the about tab, or any of the other pages with our love story I wrote out. Anyway. Happy Anniversary to my love! Never would I have ever thought that I'd meet my husband at a bar in a college town, of all places. I know it's because of our time in AIM (Aggies in Mission, on campus) that we started dating and built our relationship on a strong faith and identity in God - first and foremost! He is why we are here today. Never would I think that God would lead me to a club to meet my future husband, but hey, He works in mysterious ways, right?! More than we can fathom, indeed.
So, enough of that for now, I guess. I still need to get back into a writing groove. I've been writing in a journal lately - there is just something about pen and paper that you can't ever attain in the blogosphere interwebs, so that's part of the reason I've been absent. I decided during my hiatus that I will blog what I want on my own terms, and will not do any giveaways or product reviews unless it's something wholeheartedly that I believe in and that aligns with what I write (military life, married life, books, beach, crafts, pets, family, health, etc). Which means, I will mostly be writing book reviews on here periodically of my own accord, and if it happens to be of another nature it will align in this and be noted.  I even took a quiz and it said I was destined to be a writer. Time to take this little blog, and my journaling, a little more seriously.. We will see where that leads me!
Now that's out of the way....
I'll start getting ready for GRAD SCHOOL to start MONDAY! Eeee! So excited and nervous. I am taking 3 classes this fall in preschool/early childhood to finish with a graduate certificate in December. One more semester of school - bring it on!! It's been nice having a free summer ( I haven't had a school-free summer since high school, and that was still filled with marching band ). Honestly, it's been really weird not being in school. It's just a comfort thing I guess, I like being in school - having that schedule, always having something to read and savor, and all of that. So I'm excited to say the least. And maybe eventually I can add on to these 3 classes and finish it for a master's......eventually. But for now, this is more than enough! Below are the books I am very excited to get into, for 2 out of 3 classes:
Also, I'm certified to teach Pre-K to 6 in ACSI schools!! Which are nationwide. Which is awesome. And this is also framed by my diploma. Photo of that to come eventually. This took forever to get here, because as you can see, my name was misspelled. I finally got the correctly spelled certificate a week ago. This one I received a few weeks ago, which was still months after graduation. But nevertheless - it's here - and I'm certified! At least partly, cause there are many more credentials I need to get before I'm at any school, but this is a good, big step!

And now that I'm writing again, I have been painting again! I am working on silhouettes (always), pet pop art, and scripted monograms, this one is for a nursery. I need to dull down the background to make the script more prominent, but it's getting there. I am crazy about these Disney silhouettes!! In earlier posts, and in my Etsy shop, you can see Belle and Ariel which I've already done. After I finish Snow White sometime this weekend, I'll make my way through the rest....
And if ANYONE likes what they see and are even remotely interested in a painting (or print of a painting) for yourself or a friend, please feel free to message me, comment here, email, or search on my Etsy shop!! Link in tabs and on the sidebar. Once these paintings are finished they will be listed as examples in the shop, and a print of Snow White will be available as well. Feel free to give me more work to do (love painting!) and place an order!! Let me know if you have any questions and I will be happy to work something out with you to fit any budget, timeline, or vision.

And of course, a beach picture. Because we live in southern California, and from our home we only have to walk 8 blocks to get here. Past a "highway" and some train tracks. Scruffy loves it so, and I sure do too! Also, by the train tracks there are bunches of groundhogs, and Scruffy gets all worked up, wanting to run around and chase those little creatures. She loves walking to the beach! But refuses to get anywhere near the water... we're working on that. Look a how happy that pup looks, though. That salty air and the sound of her waves just get to her- she has the biggest smile at the beach.

I aim to be back more regularly now! So until next time... I will be stating grad school and painting away!

..and here we are

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Well, here it is. After about a month and a half, I've come to realize that it's about time to get back into gear and end that blogging hiatus I went on. And there's been a lot of affirmation about it in the past couple weeks... I just had to get to a point where I would be in the right kind of writing mentality I suppose, because yes, I have missed writing. It's not that I haven't been able to, or haven't had anything to post (to be honest- there's tons! summer travels, book reviews, so much). I think it's more because of what I mentioned in my last post at the beginning of the summer- I just needed some time to focus on Marshall and I once he got home, and for some thinking time to myself. To take a break from this online world, and figure out what's next after graduating this past May. Also, the fact that Marshall was away for a while at the beginning of the summer just added to that lack of motivation. Many trips were taken to Downtown Disney and the beach to just get out!

So... affirmation. It's not a word we use too much, but it's there. When I hear that I always think of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman... One of them is words of affirmation. Last time I took that quiz, after we first moved to the west coast, this was tied as one of my top love languages. So... cool. I guess it makes sense, then, that because I was constantly asked about my writing, blog, and painting - by strangers and family alike -  that I finally realized it was time to get back into it all. Words of affirmation were/are just what I need/ed.

For instance, I know my dad has been asking about my writing - instead of being public lately, I've kept a few notebooks whenever I could. But I just got out of "that zone" for a while since summer has been extremely busy with family visits, Marshall gone periodically, and whatnot..... Motivation was close to nil. It seems like every few days since July came around (wait.. it's August already?!!) someone has asked me about my writing and painting. I haven't painted since the beginning of the summer, post-finals. But I am about to start that again, this week! So Chelsea and Holly - if y'all are reading this - those pet paintings are already traced (oh, they have been for months!) and will be finished (finally) soon!! I know it's taken forever, it feels like.

And yes, I was asked about this little ole blog at least once a week- by a friend, a family member, an email from a stranger, or a comment from a reader. I even met Diedre today about the local (soon-to-be-planned) If: Gathering (y'all gotta read Jennie Allen!) and she asked about my blog, since my email was linked to it. She is a part of the gathering in the Bay Area and was down here to visit with family. It was so nice to just chat! Since moving out here, and especially being so close to downtown, I've been much more open and approachable. I think a lot of it has to do with taking Scruffy for walks (she is a people lover, for sure), being downtown so much with the hustle and bustle, and also finding solace in coffee shops and book shops, asking like-minded people questions about their reads or drinks. I love to talk about books, coffee, and the beach, so y'all, if you're looking for a conversation starter, start there! (These are a few of my favorite things... Anyone catch that?)

As I said, after the beach, I met with Diedre - she is so sweet! I hope I can visit her when/if we make it up to the Bay Area! - Then I even went back to the beach for a little bit of last minute summer reading, and oh, was that refreshing. There is just something about the ocean. I just can't get enough. Afterward I went downtown to pick up some jewelry, did a little bit of walking around ,and also went to the Succulent Café - absolutely in love with this place- for a little bit of pondering and to finally buy some succulents to display in the window above our sink. I am crazy about it. Pictures will be coming soon.

So that was my day - wait, just my morning! I feel like it should already be dinnertime with everything I feel like I've done so far, but it's only lunch time. Funny how that happens. Now on to the rest of the day.. Writing, reading, and painting. Love that this is my life right now!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

My writing on this little old page has been very sporadic lately, and I guess there are a few reasons for that. In all, I'm really trying to decide what I want to do with this public diary of sorts. I mean, I know I don't want to go the route of hosting a giveaway each week with requirements to like or follow, just to get numbers up in "readers." I'm not really looking for my site to get thousands of likes or reads either. It's just an outlet of sorts. But then I start thinking, who am I to put my life out there, and post it online asking (sometimes begging, it  feels like, desperate to get at least one click) for other people to read it, family, friends, and strangers alike... and what is really my goal in that? I mean, didn't I start the Facebook page for this site because I was taking part in a mega giveaway with other blogs...Where the only goal is to get as many followers as possible while giving away a material item? I need to shift my focus here.

Sometimes I stare at the computer screen for hours, editing pictures, writing, editing, re-writing, and finally publishing something.... And never go outside the entire day. That's not how I want it to be- technology needs to take a backseat for a while. This goes for my smartphone too, which means no more words with friends and minimal social media scrolling.... It's definitely a discipline. Look - there's my word of the year again (And yes, it truly has been my word of focus since writing out my resolutions in January) - discipline! I'm sure there are others out there who can relate with this media takeover our culture has experienced and ingrained in us within the past decade alone.

I haven't been writing much not because I don't have anything to write about (yeah, there's definitely plenty to write about!) but rather because I'm not sure what I really want to do. I guess you can say I'm looking forward.

I did start selling my paintings on Etsy, and so far I've gotten a few inquiries and lots of "hits" as you can see in shop stats, but no orders. I guess I haven't sold any then, so maybe I should re-word that one. Should I really sell my artwork and creativity to strangers, or am I just pushing it? Sometimes I wonder if maybe I'm trying to force this little blog and my paintings on others. But I don't want to do that, at all, and that's not my intention - forcing. On the other hand, sharing is, but maybe I should think on that one, too. Both - the painting and the writing - are more of just hobbies, hobbies that I wish I could get paid to do full time - so maybe that's where the unintentional pushing came from. Oh, it would be so nice to get paid to write and paint - perhaps even enough to make a living on that alone. One can dream, right? But no more forcing this stuff on y'all - self-promotion, in so many words. I want to associate furthest from the Pharisees as possible... Not giving in to pushing an agenda here!

This is, in many ways, why I haven't been around much on this blog lately. I'm not sure what I want to do with it - if I want to post the bare minimum -twice a month sounds reasonable, perhaps -mostly pictures and a few sentences about happenings in our nest... if I want to post purely book reviews (because let's be honest, I have enough reviews in the works to post at least 2 a week, or maybe one each day with the amount of books I read), or if I want to go all-out with this thing and try to build a brand and start sponsoring, to make a living through writing here, which will come with a lot of changes, I'm sure. Oh, there are other avenues or ways to blog on the side, but I guess these are the three "extremes" in any direction I'm deciding on taking as a path. Maybe more options, maybe less. I'm not sure where I see it right now. Though I think I'm leaning toward the pure book review site option...

But there is more to the crickets other than this contemplation about the future of this blog site.... We've been pretty busy around here, and that's part of the reason I haven't been around in the interwebs much lately. The stud was overseas on an exercise for a month and got back recently, so during that month my time was full of puzzles, movies, books, and the hammock in our yard.

After the preschool graduation (I'm off until summer camps start soon) my days consisted of church and small group twice a week, going to the beach with Scruffy, cleaning the house and de-cluttering.. Which means boxes of stuff (how did we accumulate so much stuff?) going to the donation truck down the road, and a lot of time of reflection and relaxation.  I did go on a milso retreat for SpouseLink, which I still need to blog about, and that will hopefully come soon!! After graduating, I've been looking forward to next steps - getting certified in Texas and finding a program to allow me, or qualify me, to teach preschool, not just as an assistant (since my major is elementary & special ed.. early childhood is pretty different in a lot of ways).And I've really just been taking a much needed break. It feels good for the first time since grade school to not have any homework to do!

Since he's been back we explored downtown Del Mar, had dinner in downtown Carlsbad, went to the beach, and spent a lot of time in the backyard. It's been nice and relaxing, and we've worked through minor adjustments in each of our schedules since we were apart for that time. But really, a month is nothing compared to what it could have been, so in that respect, we were blessed.

But I'm getting beside myself... Time for some more coffee and to finish cleaning, I think. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks, and if I still feel complacent about it, by fall I may just look toward writing in a moleskin journal for each month with print-outs of pictures to go along - a hard copy blog, like before computers were a thought (so a scrapbook to keep it simple) -  instead of a public online diary. If you did get through all of that, I am curious as to what (if any) readers think! My summer will consist of pondering these thoughts while preparing for family visits and looking toward our next steps in my education, our time in the military, and more. And of course plenty of socal beach time! So no promises on future posts, except of course it is of a SpouseLink recap or a number of book reviews!! I will get to SpouseLink soon!!

And in case you want to know, I titled this reprise, partly because I couldn't think of a name, partly because I feel my head has this thread or chorus repeat (reprise) until I hear it enough times in which I'll know what to do. A reprise essentially means repeat (any musicians out there?), and these thoughts are on repeat and probably will be until I figure out what to do! Perhaps that makes sense to someone who's musically inclined!

Book Review: Spoken For

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A few months ago, I was getting ready for my last leg of finals fast approaching and was really in need of a break. During those breaks I read, and could do so for days and nights and on again. So sometime in April on one of those breaks, I decided to read a recent release at the time (well, this was one of those that I picked up the day it released!) and read the night away. From what I remember this was the same week as Disney week with Dancing With the Stars (which I only watched because of Candace Cameron Bure! Love her!) and I read this during the commercial breaks! It was a good time with hot tea, dances to Disney classics, and a good dose of Jesus books. I loved it.

Robin Jones Gunn & Alyssa Joy Bethke are two incredibly gifted writers and sweet souls whose God-centered love and friendship in fellowship is so evident in the pages of Spoken For. I soaked up every single word - oh, so refreshing!

Photo: So I took a break from studying and prepping for finals to read, as I do often. Spoken For was released today and I snagged it up as soon as I could. I just finished this book and absolutely loved it. Robin Jones Gunn & Alyssa Joy are two gifted writers whose God-centered love and friendship in fellowship is so evident in these pages. I soaked up every word! We are chosen and spoken for in God's image.. This book will lead you to discover that identity in him and learn to live in that truth each day. I encourage all you readers to grab a cup of coffee and turn these pages - It was a perfect way to spend my night. My own review coming soon on a blog, when I find the time that is!
So now for my thoughts...

We are chosen and SPOKEN FOR in God's image... The premise of the book... and in these strings of words you will be lead to discover that identity in him and learn to live in that truth each day. In these sweet pages you will learn to embrace who you are and whose you are... What it means to belong to Christ, who you are because of His love, and how that affects the way you live.

In these pages we read of Alyssa & Jeff's love story, how she and Robin met, and different life experiences that lead to the place these ladies are today in their walk with Christ. I don't know if anyone else has connected the dots... but Robin Jones Gunn is an incredible author of over 85 books, which are all spectacular! And you bet I am on my way to reading all of them! Her best-selling books include the Christy Miller series and the Sisterchicks series, either of which I haven't read yet. I have read Gardenias for Breakfast, Victim of Grace, and the Hideaway series, which were all so wonderful. I just really enjoy her way with words and how she sets up a story with so much depth and emotion.

Besides the point, this book was an incredible reminder of my identity in Christ, and how he longs for an incredible relationship with his children, his creation. I like how the back summary states that...

A great romance was set in motion before you were born. A relentless Lover is pursuing you, and He has made His intentions clear. He wants you to be His forever. How will you respond to the One who longs for you to be His with your whole heart?

It's not just a perspective, it's a way of life, of thanksgiving, of being ever-present in the situation knowing that God is in control and knows our desires and hearts. He wants to be included and reached for in our everyday lives, and the kind of relationship a Christian has with our God is an incredible, close, relationship, where each know where he belongs. We were made in His image and we belong to Him - the maker of the skies! How incredible is that?! We are spoken for by the creator of the heavens, made in His image all for His glory! If you read these pages you will truly discover your identity in Christ and learn to live by these words.

You Are...
Have Been Called
Of Great Value
A Peculiar Treasure
Set Free
Spoken For

Re-Blog: Getting My MRS Degree

First off, I wrote a guest post for Chelsea over at Anchors Aweigh a few weeks (months) ago. She is a fellow milspouse to a Navy pilot and both are also fellow Aggies...And from what I collect our husbands knew each-other to some extent while in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M, so that's fun! There are a lot of mutual friends, here. (Both were in Navy-Marine outfits, too --- Marshall was in Trident P-2 and her husband Parker was in N-1 Knights. Is it weird that I just typed his name even though we haven't met? Maybe..)Though, I didn't know either of them while we were at A&M, we actually met through blogging. She was actually one of the very first milso bloggers I connected with back in the day! Small world, right? I'm sure I've seen them both at march-ins before games and even at commissioning ceremonies, but that whole acknowledgement just wasn't quite there yet. Anyway. They lucked out and have been in schools in Texas lately, home sweet home, but are now settling in to a (very) recent move to the east coast, home sweet Virginia; I know they're excited! Read up on Chelsea's blog for more!

Anyway again. I really truly LOVED this post I wrote and knew right away that I wanted it on my own blog, too. So I asked permission (if that's even a thing for this kind of thing) and timed out to re-post this later on...Okay, so I wrote this originally for Chelsea in March, and it's mid-June when I'm finally getting around to it.. But, hey! At least I'm writing again, right?!

So here we are. Getting my MRS Degree...Read all about it: It's a real thing, yall!


I was just barely over 19 when we were married (2011), and Marshall was 22, by only a few days. We were babies. And anyone who didn’t know us thought we were cra-zay to get married so young. If you actually did know us and spent time with us, then there was no problem to be seen. We are thankful our parents and siblings saw the love and understood this all. Perception is everything. (And to this day, people still think we’re both 18 and in high school- I’m sure this will be the case for some time...Good genes!) 
We got engaged right after spring break my freshman year (his senior year...I know, right?) at Texas A&M, and decided we were getting married that summer 2011. Why such a short engagement? It happened this way because Marshall was on contract and was commissioning into the Marine Corps upon his August graduation. We didn’t know what would happen next. So we decided to have the wedding 2 days after that. And honestly – who wants a long engagement? When you know, you know- you know?

If you’ve been following along, you will see that I’m still in school. If you are any good at math, yes, I am (was) in my senior year now, right on track with where I would be otherwise. I continued at Texas A&M the fall we were married, then that spring we moved to Virginia, so I took that semester off while searching for options to continue school. Everyone who didn’t know me well and saw that I was leaving school said that I would never go back--- um, excuse me? I knew I would never let that happen, proved them wrong, transferred it all over to Liberty, and jumped back on board the next summer, 2012. I only took one semester off. And yes, I am on track to graduate right on time, same as before, this May- in less than ONE month!

So if you’ve got any of that so far, I am still getting my academic degree. But I actually already have a degree! I picked up my “’MRS degree” when I married Marshall, and this was set in stone when we moved away from our home state in 2012. (Because I was married and so young and hadn’t finished school at that point!)

I was SO confused the first time I heard the term, because you really have to think about it. M-R-S – what’s that spell? Mrs? Mrs! I have a strong feeling my dad is the one who coined this term, because I have heard it countless terms throughout my life via him only. It was often a topic of conversation when talking about my future- My mother and paternal grandmother did the same thing – they each found the man of their dreams while at Texas A&M, got their “MRS degree,” and moved away, leaving school and their sophomore year behind (Yes- same school, age, and timeline, too. The coincidences are a little freaky, to say the least)

Back to the point – My dad always told me that I would never do what my mother and grandmother did and get taken away from school because of a boy. Under no circumstances! My mom also helped this along by telling me to finish my degree all at once, because if I leave, who knows when I’ll be back? She was originally class of ’91 at A&M but finished as class of ’98 at Mary-Hardin Baylor, after moving with my dad in the Army many times and having babies (my brother and I), of course. That was her big selling point! To this day, I don’t know how she finished her degree in Math, of all areas, as a military wife during a deployment with two toddlers in tow, not to mention all of our activities like T-ball, soccer, and dance. But she did. Military spouses have to be superwoman sometimes (many times) – it’s in our job description (yes, like a real job – we wear a lot of hats). And keeping busy never hurts, too!

So, actually getting my MRS degree? What’s that? Does anyone see something in that title… a title in itself, perhaps? I left school without a degree but with a new title and name – as a Mrs. Thus, my dad has always called it an “MRS degree.” He even spelled it out (M-R-S) while telling me to never follow in my mother’s footsteps by running off with a boy before finishing school. It usually took me a while to realize he was actually saying “Mrs.” He was pretty adamant about that not happening to me, even though he did so with my mom and took her out of school (See the irony?) He even had me promise all while growing up that I would never get my MRS degree, and being the daddy’s girl that I am I would ecstatically say “I promise I will never get married and always be your little girl, daddy!” Not an exaggeration, y’all- this is what my childhood was like! With him being gone quite a bit with deployments, drill, etc. while I was growing up, I was attached at the hip. Which is why it was so hard to tell my parents that I had gained a boyfriend my second week as a freshman at college and he just so happened to be a senior and was also just coincidentally in the same Corps of Cadets outfit my father was during his time at Texas A&M, Trident P-2, and was also on a military contract. WOAH. Those senior boots get ya every time. You can see where I’m headed with this.

Naturally, after Marshall proposed to me in Corpus Christi (March 2011), I was ecstatic. Then it set in. I would become a Mrs. I knew what was happening soon – he would graduate, commission, and leave for training in Virginia soon after. What kind of a timeline does that look like for us? Would I stay behind at school until I finish, or leave and go with him- then when would I finish my degree, if ever? I surely didn’t want to take 8 YEARS to finish it like my mother did. I always knew I would never take that long! But wait, I have to tell my parents I’m engaged! Of course they have to know. My dad would be so upset! He made me promise I wouldn’t get married and run away before I get my degree. I am his only little girl, after all. He surely isn’t going to give me away just like that! What am I going to do?! You can imagine how nervous I was making that phone call to my parents (I called them in Whataburger- have to get some honey butter chicken biscuits for breakfast, y’all! We went there to celebrate after we got engaged that morning at the beach...Corpus Christi is the birthplace of Whataburger, y'know, so we went to the original 2-story location which is pretty much epic).

All that to say, that this is all worth it. That internal battle I know I was going through when the engagement sunk in that morning was only a shadow of what was to come – the uncertainty, the excitement, our future. At this point in time Marshall and I have been married for over 2 and a half years. We are both still young in our marriage and have a lot of learning to do, but it’s so wonderful to be able to learn and grow together. We love where we are now in our relationship and work, and we both know that this growth wouldn’t be possible without what brought us here – getting married young, moving together; Putting my husband’s career before mine. Now, I have his support while finishing school, and he has my support while leading his platoon. Yes, I have an “MRS degree.” I use it every day in marriage (do you ever use your degree?) And yes, I’m also getting my actual bachelor’s degree in education in just a few weeks (So as of this posting, yes, I have graduated!!! On time!!! Blog to come soon all about it!), and I will use parts of that every day in working at a preschool, as I do now. But the fact of the matter is, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I take pride in my “MRS degree” because it is who I am – a Mrs. and a wife!

Lover of Coffee, Part 1 (...Well, Mostly Titanic Day)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Somehow, over the years I've grown to be a coffee lover. More-so just recently. I guess you can say it's been a gradual process, and over time I've been drawn to the smell of freshly ground beans and the soft noise of chatter and pages turning that you find just so pleasant in a local coffee shop. Favorite place ever, beside Texas and (generally) the beach, of course...
Here is where it all began...
During Titanic Week in May of 6th grade... Just week before school was out for summer... We had a fun project in math class where we mapped out the length and width of the Titanic in real life, using the school football field. (So it sank April 15, 1912, which probably means that Titanic Week was mid-April..) 
Intermission: Now in Sugar Land (and most of Texas for that matter) it was called middle school, and it went from 6-8th grade. There was no intermediate school (names depended on district, I guess), and yes, unless you were in a private school, you left elementary after 5th grade- and generally had a fantastic graduation party and ceremony that was a huge deal, seriously. Class soundtrack, slideshow, awards, singing, dancing, skits - the whole shebang. And I still have the CD with the slideshow - love the music of my youth! I'm pretty sure one of the biggest songs of the year was "All Star" by Smashmouth and "World's Greatest" by R. Kelly. Yes, it was the early millennium, I guess you can say (I know I'm a youngster). It's also when the first Pirates of the Caribbean came out, well around that time... Fifth grade was probably my favorite year of elementary school though! Mini society and learning how to write checks correctly (anyone else?) were the best of times. So much fun.
This and the fact that it's a school in Texas means that football is a huge part of it. Which is why school football (and cheerleading) starts in middle school... Well, in 7th grade, but still middle school. And so do pep rallies... so fun!! I point this out because I split middle schools when we moved to Wisconsin for 7th grade and partly on, and there wasn't a football team. Not even soccer, at that school. At least from what I recollect. Just volleyball, basketball, wrestling, and snowboard/ski club. And a few others, but the point of the matter is that football isn't much a big deal for schools (that I experienced) in places other than Texas. At least, not as big of a deal. Same with pep rallies- instead of one before every football and basketball game, there was maybe 2 a year. Crazy talk. We really should just stick in Texas..
So we had football in middle school, which ran from 6-8th grade, and there was of course plenty of interest to make an A and B team (at least) for EACH grade level. Yeah, big deal. And it was a big school too... Bigger than the high school in Wisconsin that my brother and I both went to, as well. A nice building, two stories, never-ending rows of lockers, ridiculously wide hallways, amazing cookies (on Fridays only.. The cafeteria always sold out; They were very delicious and gooey... Still not able to duplicate them, I miss those cookies! They compare to the Sbisa cookies at A&M, y'all, that's how good they were), and the best vending machines ever (I loved Fanta! Anyone remember that drink... and the fun commercial jingles?) in the cafeteria...Everything's bigger in Texas, y'all.
Anyway, for a day during Titanic Week in 6th grade math class we went outside to the giant football fields (there were at least 4...) to measure the length and width of the Titanic, to get a bigger picture of just what we are looking at and studying. This is seriously the most vivid recollection I had of something I did in a regular class in 6th grade, save reading Tuck Everlasting (and watching the movie after) in ELA, which was a sweet and wonderful book (And also where I got the name Winnie for my piccolo). And watching Mythbusters in Science. Of course, I say general class, because I remember every little thing from beginner band in 6th grade with my precious Walter... My flute, which I still play now and then.
So we were told to dress the part, and that we did. We each picked an individual who was actually living and breathing when on the Titanic maiden voyage. We picked numbers out of a hat, and this stood for which class/type of passenger they were. So we picked names that fit the bill from a running list and got to researching. We wrote in journals as the person depending on the stories and artifacts we found online, and our studies of the Titanic throughout the week. There were a couple journal entries a day. And we decorated the journals in ways so that it looked straight from back in the day in 1912. Meaning that at home, we burnt pieces off cardboard and brown paper bags, taped them to the composition books, and glued old flowers and lace onto the front.. Maybe adding a few pictures and things on there, too. Probably one of my favorite parts was decorating the journal. And I still don't remember where I got the clothes to look like (whomever I was supposed to be.. I think her name started with a W, and she was a 2nd class passenger). I know that Titanic journal still exists somewhere, bound and in my parent's home.. If only I had it here with me, I'd post a picture of it!
Anyway, on this day, we- the entire 6th grade - dressed the part. In math class we measured the size of the ship outside on the football fields; In social studies we read journals from the people we picked online; In science (with Mrs. Veneziale.. Fun that I still remember that name. She was new that year, and no one liked her at the beginning, but I know we really enjoyed that class by this time in April) we watched documentaries of submarines or what have you excavating the remains of the ship in the deep ocean blue; And in ELA we wrote journals and things about our studies, and read them to each other. Of course, there was more than that, because we also had music electives (band was mine, duh) and P.E. but that's the essentials of it.
Titanic Day was kind of like a giant fun field day. In every class we were doing fun projects and kind of had free reign in creative problem solving, how we finished it. The point was that we learned a thing or two about the Titanic's maiden and only voyage, and we immersed ourselves in that history in all these different ways. It was pretty awesome, if I say so myself.
So at the end of Titanic Day.. School let out at 3:50 (It started at 8:50, which was awesome, because I could sleep in!), then I generally found my brother in the band hall, practiced Walter in the practice rooms if I had to (if he had concert or ensemble practice or something) then we walked home. It's fun, from our kitchen window, we could see the middle school across the levee. Which meant it took minutes to get there, which made my mornings easier. That house was probably my favorite we ever lived in! And that's a lot saying since we lived in at least 9 (yes, nine) different homes throughout my childhood years. At the end of the staff parking lot at the school, which was right outside the band hall, there was a bridge/road going over the levee, then we were on our side of town, I guess you can say... 'Cause that levee separates two different elementary schools in that area, and whichever side you lived on determined which school you went to. And we went to both, because we lived on one side renting before my parents bought the house with the kitchen view of the middle school on the other side. It was an awesome house, right next-door to a giant park, with a pool we built, backing up to the levee - which gave us many visitors over the years, including giant turtles (seriously, like a foot in width.. We couldn't get into the pool those days!) and tons of frogs... The visitors mostly came on days is was raining, which happened quite a bit, actually. (The levee grew in capacity by feet on days it rained, since when it rained in southwest Houston, it poured. I'm pretty sure if we didn't have that levee there, the streets would flood every time!)
Talk about throwback! Each instrument/group had it's own beginner class
I usually stayed at 6th chair but periodically made it up to 2nd chair.
Music was extremely competitive in Texas!! And so fun.
Huge difference once we moved to Wisconsin since there I was generally 2nd or 1st chair.
Beginner band was very thorough: My freshman year of high school I played better than most seniors!
But I said that I generally walked home with my brother - well, this day was different. Goodness, it was Titanic Day! It was almost as great as a field day! It was a big day, y'all! So instead I met with some friends (Kathryn and Kaci.. Haven't heard from them for a while) and one of their parents took us out for snack and a movie. It was pretty cool, to be honest...
This is where it all started. We went to Starbuck's for that snack. So this is my first memory of going to Starbuck's, or at least of getting a drink there. I know, Starbuck's is basically the coffee shop guru company.. Huge deal now. Well I probably went there a few times with my dad but didn't think much of it. I had no idea what to get, and I didn't really like coffee at the time, so I just got what my friends were getting - Vanilla Bean Frappuccino. It was delicious. Like a vanilla smoothie. I loved it. I went back with my dad, but he didn't like it. Too sweet for him, and no coffee. If only I had tried a shot of espresso with it then... How much time with coffee I have been missing out on during those years! But I did love the smell of the coffee shop, it gets me every time. Such a warm, happy smell.
All of that to say how I first made my way into a coffee shop, and was exposed to this incredible, smelly (but in a good way) world of coffee grounds and soft music, light conversation, and the turning of pages of glorious books. I'm thinking there is going to be a part 2 soon... On how, in the 10 years since then, I've gone from vanilla smoothies, to mochas, to coffee with just a smidge of creamer and milk, occasionally a cup of joe by itself.. And somehow I like it....Yeah, I like it a lot! I can't get up in the morning without getting some coffeemate in a cute mug and filling it with blonde roast or a vanilla blend from our Keirug. I seriously use that thing daily, yall. But since this is getting long... It will be continued... Part 2 to come soon!
Pictures via
Did anyone else have fun "field days" like this in school? Or a unit that expanded throughout every subject and class? Or what about your first experience with coffee, or just being at a coffee shop? Stories are fun!

Reflections from Salinas (and everywhere else)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I posted a few weeks ago part 1 and 2 about our trip up the California coastline to the Salinas Valley, and I have yet to do a third and final recap post. Well, that final volume is still to come, but what I have to say is still relevant. We were in Salinas for Easter weekend, and were blessed to be able to find a local small-town feeling kind of church to attend. We were also blessed to be able to drive all through the area and see the vast array of agriculture land, then drive a little further and see the ocean cliffs, and maybe spot a few whales out there. There were a few other things we noticed too, and this is something that I have been struggling to come to terms with the past few weeks and months.

Homelessness. There is so much homelessness in Salinas. Shopping carts filled with all one's possessions are present at practically every street corner, and so is a beggar asking for some spare change to buy some breakfast off the McDonald's Dollar Menu. Being the sin-nature humans we are, we might see one of these individuals and think less of them, or even worse see right through them - there's this ragged man in the way of this view of the hills! But let's think about it, seriously this time. All of man is made in His image, in God's image. We all hold intrinsic value and no two people are alike - even identical twins! We all have worth. God knew us before we breathed our first breath, he knows everything about us - even those things we are too shamed to admit. He sees us all. He even sees the beggar on the street corner, or the homeless sleeping by the dumpsters, too ashamed to scavenge for food in others' trash until night falls.

It was incredible and eye-opening to see this side of life all over the Salinas Valley. Homeless were literally everywhere you look - I have never seen a city or town or area that was so desolate, in many ways. Looking for work, looking for food, looking for life.

But many are looking for money. Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I have also seen many who say they are homeless with gold watches on their wrists and smartphones in their hands, begging for money, saying that food is a cost that's too much to bear. This is where  I draw the line. I gave it some thought and found that if you were really that desperate for money to buy food, you'd sell literally all that you have - including that gold watch and even the shirt off your back -to get something to eat that day. A kind of day-to-day existence. The Salinas Valley is agriculture-run --- there are hundreds of farms looking for workers. There are jobs out there, too, and one needs to make an effort to truly survive by their own hands, instead of rely on other to supply.

I have also personally witnessed a man be given a ten dollar bill outside of Walmart, then walk right into the register and buy a pack of smokes before heading back to his post outside. I do know that we live in a fallen world, and that's why this is present. And I also know that because of our sin, there are people out there who just plan to exploit others. The homeless man who is begging for money but has a gold watch on his wrist could just be one of many workers or actors, who pose as something they are not in order to scam money out of unsuspecting humans with good intentions. Yet he also may not be - but you do have to be aware. I know it happens. I know it's out there. So we have to be on our guard.

This is why I told myself long ago that I would never give out money: I'd give out necessities. Kind of like grab bags. I read a book last year called Seven by Jen Hatmaker, where she deciphers seven areas of her family's life in which they have too much - have no want - are excessive - and live like typical Americans, This includes money, food, housing, clothing, and more - yet these 4 are the basic needs we have, and needs that many others in this world are in desperate need of. I also read a book called Faithprints by Rebekah Montgomery last year where we yearn to find tangible ways to leave our "faithprints" on others, and bless others, by how we interact - giving to others with no expectance of a reward, return, or the like.

So these two thoughts come together here. Instead of giving money, we give food. We give our time, an ear, a lending hand. We give our excess - what we don't use, others can put to great use. Seven. Some fellowship is good, too.We invite others to our church, or if we feel very trusting we can even offer to take them home for dinner and treat them as a guest of honor. Faithprints.

Jesus' ministry said to bless others and give to the poor - this can be in tangible ways too, not just monetary. What I've come to find is that it is better to trust your wealth and monetary resources to the church or to a ministry such as Compassion or Mercy Ships - where you know it goes direct to the source - and to give your other pertinent resources - your time, food, and love - to the desolate in the streets. Because let's face it, people will post and ask for money, then turn around with a Starbucks cup in their hand and ask for food. It happens. But for those who are truly needy - well, wouldn't you think that they would take the food, water, and clothes you offer directly to them? If there was such a need, wouldn't this person feel thankful for anything at all that is offered, and not deny some crackers and Gatorade I offer? This is that thought that has bothered me since we were in Salinas, and it's something that I've wanted to put into practice. Because, yes, someone was asking for money for food, and when I offered a perfectly good sandwich and some Gatorade, it was denied. It truly makes me wonder how hungry, if at all, that person really was.

For instance, in a similar fashion, the last day we were in the Salinas Valley, we got lunch at Taco Bell (cause we were on vacation) and were walking back to our car. There was a man asking for money for his own lunch, so I instead offered my own taco to him instead. He declined. But was he truly hungry - and if he was wouldn't he take whatever food I offer, instead of looking specifically for money? Of which he can literally buy anything he wants, with a Walmart right up the road. You never know what someone would use that good-intentioned cash for - especially if it was given to them for free.

I'm not trying to be a Debbie downer here, just realistic of our sin nature. We live in a fallen world, and sadly, this is something that's present.  So now, every time  I see one in need, I offer hope. Specifically, I offer food and water, a few kind words, and say a prayer. Sometimes the individual is grateful, sometimes the individual just asks for money, over and over again. But that's all I can do, is give something tangible that I know will be used in the right way, then say a prayer and never overlook a beggar anywhere I go. Yes, see the best in others - but also guard yourself from being exploited, too. This is where that grab bag comes into play, and these are all things you can find at the dollar store: A tote/backpack with non-perishable foods, water, and a gift card to a restaurant.

This kind of grab bag for those in need you encounter on the streets is a concept I've found in many books I've read lately, and is really something thoughtful. Because if someone declines a gift like that - a bag full of food, water, and gift cards for more food - then are they really in that kind of need, or are they hiding something and trying to exploit their neighbor? I'm not so sure, though that itself is not for me to decide or judge on.  I can only put my best foot forward, and not ignore the hungry man beside me - look to bless him and others with such a gift and resource, instead.

So how do you look to bless others? Do you give to charities that feed the homeless, or do you do so directly? What have your interactions been like in giving and blessing others on the streets?

The Time Is HERE! Etsy Paint shop NOW OPEN!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Well hello there! I am finally kind of back, I know I've been missing the past few weeks or so! I will try my best to post more regularly - I should definitely have lots more time this summer! I have officially graduated from Liberty University and am awaiting for my degree to get here... I know that will have a post of all it's own once that day comes! Should be here soon!!

Other than that, I do have some news: With all this time freed up since I'm no longer studying for finals (thank goodness) I have done some crafting! Specifically painting. It's been so fun, seriously, I love it.

And this brings me to my next point. I have loved searching Etsy for SO long - seriously, years! I found out about it sometime in high school and have always dreamed of the day when I can open up a shop, share my craft, and support all these fun crafters. Today is the day! Well, I have opened up for orders, and there is a turnaround wait time until I have more in stock (made to order, currently, y'know).

Also note that prices are subject to change and for opening there is a $10 off coupon code: "OPENFORBUSINESS" I will be announcing coupon codes periodically through this blog so keep a lookout! I am sort of testing out the prices; I made them based on cost of materials, time, comparable paintings, etc, and note that prices are subject to change. If you have a specific situation based on the cost please let me know and I will accommodate you. My main goal is to share these paintings and my craft with all - so please don't be discouraged - just shoot me a message! Also please allow 3-5 business days to create and ship your order!

My goal is to create at least 2 paintings a week. I am going to do a silhouette of each Disney princess to have in stock, and then start on silhouettes of other Disney characters. I am also doing scenic paintings, "Home is where the Heart Is/Military Sends Us" signs, and "family name" signs (seen below!). I'm also working on Aggie barn paintings (Ags know what I'm talking about!) Any special orders, scenes, or characters are available by request - again, just email me or message the shop and I will get back to you promptly! Right now the shop is solely painting, and soon I will be adding some sewing and latch hook projects - it is going to be a smorgasbord of crafts and projects!

For now, feast your eyes on my crafty creations! Anyone interested just shoot me an email, check out the Facebook page, or search the shop for yourself! Also note that soon I will have a banner and button for the shop - currently in the works! But I couldn't wait to open it, so here it is, y'all!
Disney Princess Silhouette Painting:
Ariel, The Little Mermaid
Original made for Erin

Disney Princess Silhouette Painting:
Belle, The Beauty and the Beast
Original made for Holly

"Home Is Where the Marines Send Us"
Wood Plaque with Wall Hook
Customizable: Available for Any Branch/Wording
Family Name with Est. year
Wood Plaque with wall hook
Custom: Any colors, name, year, etc.
Any questions, comments, concerns, inquiries? Let me know!!
Email me at or find me on Facebook!
Have a blessed weekend y'all! And if I don't get back before then, Happy Memorial Day to all those who serve! Even as a military family we are truly grateful for all the sacrifices made stateside and beyond. You are what makes this country great!

While I've Been Away...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Well, it looks like I've taken an unintentional hiatus from the blogosphere interwebs lately - or maybe it wasn't?! I've needed a bit of a break to unwind, finish finals strong, and relax after over 17 years straight of being in school, and always having something to study for or some sort of test in the near future. I finished finals on May 9th (yay!) and celebrated by going to a local craft fair, conference, bookstore, and more. I'm still awaiting final grades (they seriously take this long?! I can't believe it. That was over a week ago now!) and then once those are in, my degree will be conferred and arrive at our doorstep shortly after! Yay! In the meantime, I've been keeping busy by reading, cleaning, sightseeing, beach-going, and simply relaxing. Oh, and job-searching! I need something to supplement my time at the preschool, so there's that too!

Anyway, here is what I've been up to while I've been away from this blog, in pictures!
Queen Bee Market in Oceanside! This was a craft fair with local vendors, selling some cute stuff! I took a picture of my find to put on Instagram (check it out there!), but let's just say I love my new watercolors and wall décor!

To celebrate finals, I did a little more than window shopping, actually..
I ordered a "grab bag" from Sevenly. This amazing company sells custom shirts and homewares to fight different causes out there; the 3 shirts in this bag donated proceeds to behavioral therapy services, adoption companies, and autism awareness. Check out my picture of the shirts, also on Instagram!

San Diego area Blogger Brunch! This is such a fun group of ladies and has grown so much in the past few months! We had a new few faces that recently joined the group or moved here, like Jasam and Sarah. I can't believe how much this group has grown! Excited to see what's going on next!

A view from a lookout point.. Driving through the deserts! I attended a conference at Palm Springs a few weeks ago, of which a blog post of its own will come soon - I know, I'm behind! But I needed that break, y'all, and this was a fabulous conference where I found out and gave input to this GREAT resource! Check it out milspouses!!

Fires are showing up all over North County.. So scary! This one was near Escondido off the highway, there was stop and go traffic for a few miles because everyone was slowing down to look at the smoke! Schools are closed, business are closed, neighborhoods are evacuating (we're safe though!) and everyone is at the beach to get away! Prayers for San Diego are much needed, yall!

Trouble's portrait! This was my view waking up the other day... She's getting close enough to tell me that it's tummy time. Sweet animals.

I took Scruffy to the giant park at south o again, and she loved it! She had the place to herself, and looked so happy.  Here she is taking a little break from running all over the place and sniffing everything she can find. Laying on the cool grass during the 90 degree days that have shown up lately with all this crazy weather (hence the fires) was a nice break, indeed.

Speaking of window shopping, at one of the local consignment/antique boutiques downtown I found this fantastic mug and a beautiful painted stone coaster set. I love this! Seashells and paisleys!

I recently finished (finally) a Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers, so decided to jump on her latest book release (as of a week ago maybe!) - Bridge to Haven. Going to be a fantastic read, y'all! Soon enough, after I finish all my in-depth recap posts, there will be some book reviews coming up!
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