Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful family and friends, but I'd like to take today to recognize my mom. Here are just a few of the things I am thankful for about my mom:
- the way we continue to draw closer to one another, even with 3000 miles between us;
- my mom's loving and wonderful heart
- the love my mom feels for her children and how I know she would give her eye teeth for every one of us, including those that she's "adopted"
- her honesty
- her gentle prodding during my formative years, yet letting me find my own direction in life
- her health...I've been too close to losing her two too many times before
- her faults...because, after all, that's part of what gives us character right?

I found a poem that stated very well what is in my heart today and every day. So here it is:

You Were There
You were there when we took our first steps,

And went unsteadily across the floor.
You pushed and prodded: encouraged and guided,
Until our steps took us out the door...
You worry now "Are they ok?"
Is there more you could have done?
As we walk the paths of our unknown
You wonder"Where have my children gone?"
Where we are is where you have led us,
With your special love you showed us a way,
To believe in ourselves and the decisions we make.
Taking on the challenge of life day-to-day.
And where we go you can be sure,
In spirit you shall never be alone.
For where you are is what matters most to us,
Because to us that will always be home...
- Author Unknown.

So, Mom, I hope you enjoy your birthday. I love you and wish I could be there to celebrate with you, but know that I will be celebrating with you in spirit!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - OOPS! Almost forgot!

Venturing out this weekend, "B" and I found a butterfly house. Look at the beautiful monarchs!

I didn't know butterflies were part of the circus...

Close up...

Picture taken by Em on 7/27/08!

Join the fun on this Wordless Wednesday!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Relay for Life

On July 26-27, 2008, my mom, brother, future sister-in-law, and family friend will all be walking in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, in Milwaukie Oregon as part of the Curves for the Cure Too team. Relay for Life raises money to fight cancer and raise awareness of cancer. It honors cancer survivors and remembers those who have lost their lives to cancer.

I don't think there is one person whose life hasn't been touched by cancer. My family has experienced the emotional and physical challenges with two members of our family having fought the battle. My grandma lost her fight after a long, hard battle when I was only 7 years old. My brother never got the opportunity to know her. My mom will be honoring her with a Luminaria candle.

But cancer hit me the hardest when my brother Matt was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma at the young age of 8. I was 17 yrs old when he was diagnosed and it completely shook my world (as it did everyone in my family). When asked what the worst day of my life was, there is no question in my mind...I remember it vividly like it was yesterday. Shortly after finding out that his tumor was malignant, my brother was admitted to the hospital for testing. His tumor was in his throat and, since they couldn't start chemo until they finished testing, the tumor continued to grow until it nearly blocked Matt's airway. I will never forget one day toward the end of his stay shortly before they would begin chemo, my mom had gone down for coffee and I sat in the room alone on a counter. I was watching that little tiny boy with his "ET finger" on (the pulse-oximeter). In his sleep he would gasp for air, then hold his breath and I would just wait to hear him breathe out. That is probably the most scared I've ever been in my life. I truly thought I would lose my brother.

Now, when people ask me the best day of my life, I can also remember that day like it was yesterday. About 6 months after his chemo started, my brother's treatments were done. He had gone through the post-treatment testing and we were waiting to hear the results. My brother stayed with the next door neighbor after school and I would always come home after school, then go get my brother. This particular day, I went home and checked the answering machine. I'll never forget the voice of the doctor as she told how Matt was better, no sign of cancer anywhere! So when I went to pick Matt up at the neighbor's house, I was able to tell Matt that he was all better. Well, Matt is now a healthy 26-year old and has been clear of cancer for 18 years! His recovery was largely because of the new medicines, protocols and diagnostic techniques resulting from cancer research. If we had faced his Lymphoma 10 years earlier, he would not be here with us today.

Finally, my future sister-in-law I'm sure will be walking in honor of her dad, who lost his fight in the recent years. We all have family, friends, co-workers or acquaintances who are dealing with or have dealt with cancer in one way or another. There is so much work left to be done. The Relay for Life is a great way to participate physically and/or financially. All money raised is used to support research locally for all types of cancer and important patient oriented programs.

I am asking that you consider supporting this worthwhile cause. Either in prayer, by participating in a local Relay for Life, or by sponsoring one of my family members who is participating in this event this weekend. The donation is tax-deductible and can easily be made by clicking on the link provided above. Your contribution, large or small, will be greatly appreciated and benefit this very worthy cause.

If you would like to sponsor one of my family members participating in the event this weekend, please click on the link above before August 10, 2008 the click on one of the following names on team Curves for the Cure Too page and it will direct you to the individual sites where you can make your donation:
Ann Nodurft
Matt Arneson
Esther Duggan
Jeanne Lang

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Beauty

Picture taken by my Mumzie...I so DID NOT inherit her green thumb (bummer)!
Join the fun on this Wordless Wednesday!

Prayers for Tricia please

Please keep Nate, Tricia and family in your prayers today and for the many weeks to come. I have been following their story since April, when Tricia received her new lungs. Nate and Tricia have graciously shared their story with the world through all their ups and downs, but they have continuously put their lives in God's hands and will. This new development is just a reminder that it is important not to take any day for granted...every day is a gift from God.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wedding Update #5 - Gown down

My major achievement this week: wedding gown is ordered...woohoo!!!

It really took a lot less time in stores than I ever could have hoped or imagined. That is probably due to the countless hours browsing the web. In the end, the dress that looked the best on me was the one that I fell in love with online. It is a beautiful Alfred Angelo design which is so incredibly flattering, it looked great even a few sizes too small :) Did I mention I LOVE the Alfred Angelo designs?!? The dress is scheduled to arrive in mid-October, so now the waiting begins.

Work has let up a little, which has helped lower my stress level a bit. That, and the fact that I discovered that I have 4-1/2 vacation days which I still have to plan against. I'm looking forward to taking a day off here and there just to keep the sanity and I might need them to go meet with florist, photographer and the like.

I'm actually really enjoying the wedding planning right now. It's fun to think of the fun details and find the best bargains, while not skimping on taste. I've found that I do best by taking all the big pieces one step at a time. First I worked on determining the reception venue, then the ceremony location, then the dress. Now, it's engagement photos (this weekend), following by "save the date" cards. In conjunction, I'll be working on narrowing down the photographer, florist, and DJ. I'm hoping to have most of those selected by end of August.

I also find it helpful to have a target date for finalizing certain details. It helps to keep me on track, especially with such a busy schedule with work, volunteering at the pet rescue, visiting my love, and house hunting. I missed my target for booking the reception venue by about a week (no biggie), but was way ahead of schedule on the gown (target was end of July:)

I can totally see how people can get overwhelmed and hire a wedding coordinator, but I don't think I could ever be satisfied doing that because I would miss out on the fun of planning.

"Green" with envy

I can't wait to have a house of my own so I can have a garden. I've been hearing from Dirkey and my mom about how beautiful their gardens are this year and then I see pictures and I'm "green" with envy (not really, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to throw in a terrible pun).

Starting in my high school years and thereafter, we always had a garden. Then I had to go and move 3000 miles away so now I cannot enjoy the spoils. Leave it to my mom to make me homesick:) Although I didn't fully appreciate at the time all the benefits of having a garden (maybe it was the incessant weeding, canning, etc...hmmm). But now that I'm older, I am looking forward to having one of my very own. Not sure about the canning, though...jury's still out on that one.

Check out Dirkey's blog to see pic of her beautiful garden and first harvest. And here are some pics of my mom's garden:

My brother put the stone wall up...talented, huh?

And check out the green beans...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Is there such a thing as a safe house?

In addition to planning a wedding, "B" and I are also looking for a house. We're hoping to have something that he can move into sometime in the Fall (sooner if we find a "gem"), then I'll move in once we're married. We went to 5 open houses on Sunday and only one of the houses was even worth considering. However, as we were leaving we decided to check out the sides of the house and "B" noticed a Radon-elimination system. Yikes! We had already decided not to go to one open house that day because it stated that it had one of these. So, we were starting to wonder a little more about the whole Radon thing.

I did some research today and found that pretty much all of Eastern Pennsylvania averages higher than acceptable levels of Radon (a naturally occurring radioactive gas that is tasteless, odorless, and invisible that can cause lung cancer when not detected and in higher than acceptable levels). Every home has some level of Radon, the question is the amount. So, in my research, I learned a lot more and I'm thinking that maybe it's a GOOD thing if a house has a Radon-elimination system, instead of a bad attribute of the house. This way, we wouldn't need to install's already set up, especially with the elevated levels of Radon in many homes in Eastern PA.

What an eye-opener, though. A few days ago I had no knowledge of this house problem and now I know probably more than I ever would have liked. It got me thinking of all the crazy things that you have to keep your eyes out for when looking at houses: Radon, mold, foundation and/or sinking problems (we actually looked at a house where it was evident that the garage had "sunk" about 4 inches!), vermin (the same house with the sinkage also had a dead mouse on the back porch...hmmm, somebody needs to watch "Sell This House"), etc. There is just so much to think about that it can be overwhelming.

I don't think we're being overly picky, but we certainly want a house that will be safe for our future family. And, although neither of us minds doing a bit of work, we don't want to have to do a major overhaul either. It's fun to look at the houses but, when you are looking seriously and want to buy one in the next 4 or 5 months, it can be a little overwhelming, especially with the additional stress of wedding planning activities.

I'm already imagining the craziness that this coming weekend will bring. "B" is working to schedule appointments to view some homes we're interested in (2 or 3, I think), we are finally getting our engagement photos taken on Sunday afternoon, and I'm going to a BBQ at a friend's house. Whew! I don't think I'll be getting much rest:)

As I write this I realize it sounds like I'm complaining about the stress, but I really am SO incredibly thankful for these events in my life. I mean, I asked God for all of this...loving husband, family, home of my own, friends...ALL of it. Yes, it's a lot of life change in the course of a year, but it is also very exciting and, dare I say, fun?!?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wedding Plans - Update #4

Well, it's been a couple weeks since I've posted an update on the planning, not because there hasn't been any progress, but because of my work schedule and the holiday weekend (which seems a million miles away at this point!) So here are the updates for the week:

Guest List:
I have to give props to the "B" man. He gave me his list a few weeks ago, so we've had a consolidated list for awhile. Both of us pared down a few names at the beginning so we really don't need to do so at this point. I read a great tip for estimating a percentage who will actually attend instead of the random flat percentages you hear that vary about 20 points. This method is to assess your OWN probably percentage for each individual and calculate the cost as a percentage of the per head based on the probability. It's actually quite clever and makes much more sense than a random guess.

My bridesmaids and I are all going out this Saturday for me to try on bridal gowns. I have a pretty good idea of the "tone" of my dress but have been frustrated that I can't find a single store in the area that carries 2 dresses that I fell in love with on a designer's site. Yesterday I emailed the designer's consumer service to find out if there's a way for me to locate a store with the 2 dresses so I can try them on, but I haven't heard back yet. We'll see. I'm ready to try on dresses on Saturday and am actually getting excited. Still a little nervous about fit because I'm short and curvy...what a lovely combination. I'm obviously expecting alterations, I just hope that I can visualize the dresses.

Other "stuff":
I've started researching some photographers and florists and will probably start calling around next week. I've expanded my color palette a little to make it clearly spring and it will also give the florist a good idea of the color of flowers I want for the girls. In order to actually show people my colors, I went to Wal-Mart and picked through their paint swatches, picking the approximate colors that I want. I'm LOVING the combination.

Engagement Photos:
Oh, and don't let me forget the engagement photos. "B" and I are getting our photos taken next weekend. Once we get those back, we will be getting the "save-the-date" cards out in the mail.

A little anecdote to leave you with:
I was at Party City the other day looking at invitations and there was a couple there also looking at invitations. They were having some difficulty agreeing on a style and pricing seemed to be an issue, so I mentioned to the bride that there are DIY invitations that you can buy much cheaper than the printed. She said they don't have time to print their own because they need to get the invitations out the door. They are getting married in OCTOBER!!! Wow! It may be a bit painful for me some days as I stay up late at night doing my research and planning, but I think it will pay off in the end...I pretty much on target with what you're "supposed" to do by certain dates. I just can't imagine being in this couple's shoes and I could tell they were both stressed. Not to mention that their 2 kids were running around the store playing with all they stuff while they are looking at invitations. Wowee!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quote & Scripture of the Day

I read the below "Quote of the Day" and "Verse of the Day" on the Lancaster Church of the Nazarene website and it felt that God was speaking to me. Boy, I really needed these words! Check them out...I've included the links as well:

Quote of the Day: “The church of Christ has been founded by shedding its own blood, not that of others; by enduring outrage, not by inflicting it.” —Jerome

Verse of the Day: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” —Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Simplicity of Childhood...ahhh

Last night I visited my aunt, uncle, and 2 no-so-little-anymore cousins for dinner. I also had on my "to do" list to personally ask each of the girls to be in my wedding (the 9-yr-old as my Jr. Bridesmaid and the 6-yr-old as my flower girl). I had been perceiving that the 9-yr-old (we'll call her "Kat") has been fully aware that the 6-yr-old (we'll call her "Ky") would be the flower girl, especially since Kat has already been one before. Although Kat was completely accepting of this, I could tell she was sad because she wanted to be a part of the wedding.

So I took Kat aside and explained how a Bride needs to pick certain very special people to stand by her when she gets married. Then we talked about how Ky was going to be the flower girl (and Kat got sad) and then, I asked Kat if she would be my Jr. Bridesmaid. She gave me a funny look, not really knowing what that means. Then I explained that she would walk down the aisle by herself, that she would wear a dress similar to that of the big girls (little grin), and that she would carry the same bouquet as the big girls (eyes open wide). Here's the dialogue that ensued (approximately):

Kat: Real flowers?
Me: Yes.
Kat: Do I get to keep the bouquet?
Me: Yes.

Then Kat was smiling ear to ear and she became very excited. There was a little more discussion about how she had just turned the right age to be a Jr. Bridesmaid and she was SO thrilled about that too.

I knew that I had to make asking her a little more special and to explain the importance of her role. What I didn't know is that the thought of carrying a REAL bouquet and getting to keep it would be the final selling point. It was a sweet moment that I will treasure always!