Tuesday, October 5, 2010

End of the Road.

I just can't do Blogspot anymore. My ADHD can't handle all of this social media. Emma's farewell letter to blogspot.com inspired me...I already have a tumblr and she's right. It IS like cheating. I have to commit. I have to make a choice.

Blogspot always made me feel guilty. I wasn't giving enough. My pictures weren't edited or uploaded in time. Tumblr is easier, cleaner. This just come naturally. I can still rant & rave but Tumblr helps me check myself better. It can stay simple & sweet. I need this. We need this.

The best part is, I can take you all with me. It's not like horrific break-ups where you ultimately break up with some friends, too. Bloglovin' makes it all easy...we can all meet there. Kind of like the ecumenical, religious smorgasbord church in the Lost finale. Nobody's feelings have to get hurt here, nobody has to choose sides! Emma...YOU'RE A GENIUS!

Many thanks for Mr. Sean Manson who first told me about Tumblr many months ago...so much easier.


The initial easy layout stems from my love of Composition Notebooks. This will change...but for now it's just so clean and simple. And these days all I crave are clean and simple (don't let my hubs convince you otherwise).

See you on the flip side, Blogspot. Peace.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oops, I did it AGAIN...

So we fall off the map pretty easily. It's easy to when we're in Canada and detached from most of our family & friends. We've had visitors this summer and we've been fairly busy (and my face began reacting to whatever allergies Vancouver has to offer...took me out of commission a few times already) BUT...we don't want to fall off the map anymore! Blogspot has been difficult for me because I'm 1) overambitious but 2) exhausted when I come home. I want to add pics of our time and update frequently but I get so worn down I barely check my email anymore didn't even check Facebook over like, 2 months. Now I'm way behind on just about everything...how do I get back to now?

Twitter has been nice. It's quick and short and easy. But I rant about football more than anything lately, hee hee. Then I found Tumblr...much less daunting and needy than Blogspot. More interesting and user-friendly with their posting options. I'm also very fickle (surprise surprise) and find it hard to commit to one...which could lead me to forget it altogether.

But mostly I've been toying around with content. I like updating about our going-ons here and writing helps me organize my thoughts. I think more clearly and to be truthful, it helps my ADHD out....I don't get as much mixed up in my head. But I don't want an online diary...I have a tendency to ramble and I really have to keep it in check. So I'm working on a voice...one with honesty and sincerity. Mostly, at this point, I need to mainstream everything. I can link some of these social medias together but I need to figure out how to make it all flow...any ideas?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And I Am Telling You That I'm Not Going...

Happy February!

The problem with us (AKA me) is that I start these entries...then I have to edit because it's too long...then I'm tired so I leave it for later. I have so many "drafts", it's quite silly. Phew...dilemmas!

Things have been beautiful for us. A bit tiring, as we've made career decisions and working hard to get those moving along. I turned down a really cool opportunity to work with a small but successful consulting/coaching company in event planning/support to stay with Starbucks. You might be scratching the side of your head wondering, "what the...?" but YES, I did and I'm SO excited!

The company I was going to start with was pretty much the job I coveted for the past 5 years (minus sports)...domestic & international travel, event planning, small company with big impact. They even approached me out of nowhere. There were, however, a couple of rather big things that Matt & I took over a month to discern and pray about and, with a slightly heavy heart but plenty of excitement, I accepted. The day before I was supposed to be done with Starbucks, my district manager met with me and asked me to invest myself in Starbucks...to focus on management for now and showed me the corporate positions I can work & network toward. She offered to help me and...yada yada...all these nice things said were extremely affirming and honestly, I love this company. They really take care of their people, part AND full time, and once you learn about their practices and ethics; it's quite remarkable and inspiring (that's for another entry). Based on my gut feeling and the fact that Starbucks is everywhere (big thing #1) and won't be highly impacted whenever we start a family (big thing #2)...I was quickly sold. I retracted my acceptance of the other offer (which I had not-so-coincidentally not yet received to sign) and have been focusing on learning the business ever since & preparing for my interviews in a couple weeks. I have strong leanings toward marketing or partner/community outreach within corporate but for now, am loving learning the business side of the stores. I became a "Coffee Master" last week (black ninja apron, baby) and have emerged myself in the numbers, profits and losses side of the individual Starbucks.

It's funny because it came out of nowhere but it fits. I've always said that I wish I could have nine careers (like a cat has nine lives) but that's not possible. Well, I guess I've done a couple things at this point but still...there's so much more! I want to do more event planning (because I love it) and I want to work in sports again and when oh when can I be a high school guidance counselor? I guess we'll see what's in store through the years...

Otherwise, Matt and I have both been sick (something going around), threw a Super Bowl Party on Sunday with some great Vancouver friends (and a couple of them from Seattle) and are gearing up for our first anniversary. CRAZY! It's hard to fathom that it's been a year. It hasn't been easy but aside from my mullet haircut (consult Facebook if you're that curious), but it's been incredibly special. There's been lonely, there's been sad and compared to my old self, I've become a bit of an introvert and slightly socially awkward. BUT, there's been an significant bond created between Matt and myself that would have been much more difficult to obtain in Austin with all of our beloved distractions. There's been a heightened sense of appreciation for people in my life who, even though I've barely spoken with some of them, mean more to me now than ever. There's my time with Matt that, though never enough, is always significant and special. There's been a continuing inner-reflection that I still have yet to dive in as deep as I need to. (Scared? Absolutely.) And my knitting skills have increased! I have begun to follow patterns...which is truly an accomplishment for my ADHD self.

All in all life is incredibly beautiful. God's hand has shown itself to Matt & myself continually over the past year, especially in the past couple of months. Every little thing is intentional...whether it's in line with what you thought would happen or it's nothing like you expected, in the end it all comes together. And a river runs through it. Okay, not really but I couldn't resist.

Now if I could only get both nostrils to function...it's the little things, right?

Peace & lots of gooey sorts of love to you & yours!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Don't Die

SO tempted to use, "Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" for the title of this one...

Every year I'm overwhelmed by the abundant outpouring of love and blessings from friends and family on December 2nd. This year was no different, especially being away from home for the first time in my now 27 years. My two favorite moments of the day:

1) Lunch. Now, Mexican food up here just isn't good enough. It's a valiant effort at times but, that's about as good as it gets. I've been craving Mexican food lately (more so than the usual) so Matt found a restaurant named "Primos". As we sat down he "bragged" that this was the first Mexican food restaurant in Vancouver...which is why it's named Primos.
Me: "Cousins?"
Matt: (deer in headlights look, followed by embarrassed look) "Dang it, you know more Spanish than I give you credit for. Never felt more like a white guy married to a Latina than I do right now..."
Now he really did think his story was accurate...he just made up the last fact on the fly. Adorable, isn't he?

2) Talking on the phone with my sisters. Victoria and I laughed a lot (she knows why...mutual confessions) and Lina added another glory moment similar to the day where she thought she could find Turkey on a map in a Spanish textbook. My sissies...they're such lovelies.

I'm sorry I didn't get to answer every call...I went to class in the morning and Matt stole me for most of the day. Everyone who called absolutely made my day. It's funny how much a call, even a missed one, can mean. And let me just say, any day that begins with breakfast in bed and ends with a foot rub is a birthday-worthy day, indeed!

So, many thanks to all of my sweet friends and family for the well wishes and blessings this year. 27...wow that sounds old but I know it's not but I remember my oldest sister turning 27 and me thinking "YEESH! She's an ADULT!" Little did I know...

This past week was weird. I honestly forgot about my birthday, seeing that I've been preparing for Matt's birthday next Monday. Matt and I met three years ago on December 9th, two days after his birthday. He was in Vancouver the next two birthdays which means I've never celebrated a birthday with him. I still can't believe our roller coaster of a time together and that somehow, we're now married and living in Canada. I'm silly excited to share a birthday with him, finally. December is full, indeed. Considering all the birthdays we'll postpone celebrating until we're in Texas in two weeks...we really should try to avoid having kids in December, if we can help it!

It actually is a good thing we're here, as homesick as we are. We're able to focus on tasks preparing for Christmas more so than we would in Austin, one of those being an online Advent Study that we're participating in led by "Dr. Mom"...AKA Matt's mom. We're having fun experiencing her in her element! It's already been an incredible way to focus on what this season is really about. If you haven't found a way to take time each day and reflect on what Advent means, I highly encourage it. My dad has also been sending out some beautiful reflection emails that greatly compliment our study...it's been a very filling time.

As mentioned many times, it's been a crazy year and I know I haven't always handled it well, communication-wise. I haven't known how to live here and stay in touch. I love my life here, because I love my life with Matt, but everything outside of that realm has had its touch and go moments. How do I tell people I'm happy but I'm sad and I miss them and I don't know how to be a friend right now? I suppose I could say it just like that. I'm so grateful for those who have pursued me and reminded me that I can live our life here and still stay in touch with Texas (and Boston and L.A. and Chicago...etc). Community is one of the most important pieces of life to me but I have such a misinterpretation of what that should/can/does look like at this time in our lives. I confess there's jealousy, too. Jealous of friends who get to see each other, jealous of others who have also moved and immediately found a career job or settled into their community. I have failed to handle this move and communication with community the way I hoped to and I can only pray that I have the opportunity to do better, especially with a few particularly special friends whom I've lost touch with, in 2010.

Precious Pug (if you don't know him, you should) says it takes 9 months to acclimate and I suppose that's true. I've been here about 9 months now and I'm beginning to get a feel for this town. It's beautiful, to say the least, and we've made some friends that are pretty great. I know both Matt and myself will be sad to leave here when that day comes, especially sad to leave certain people. But there's something about Texas...something unique about our community in Austin and our family/friends all around Texas that neither Matt nor I can shake. Whether it's one month or three more years here (don't read into that...there's definitely no glimmer of a plan to return to Texas in January!), we can only find peace in knowing that we are where we're intended to be and that He has great plans for us in this place.

All that being said, please keep us in your prayers and thoughts the next couple weeks as we prep for Texas Christmas Extravaganza and discern a few options. I promise to take more pictures...I know those go over better than a jumble of words :)

Peace & Blessings to you and yours!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Everywhere You Go, Always Take the Weather

Happy Turkey Weekend!

I don't leave the house without my umbrella these days. Or rain boots (including my red Hunter wellies that Matt surprised me with right before fall started!)...or my rockin' fleece behind-the-neck earmuffs (thanks again for last Christmas, Vic!). It's wet & cold and I've never been able to use my coat collection quite like I do nowadays. I've made more soups than I ever have before - including a Mexican tortilla soup that's missing something I can't quite figure out (not cumin, got that). This past fall, however, was gorgeous. Through all of our visitors and trips we could not have asked for better weather to showcase Vancouver. Everyone joked that they brought the mild Texas fall with them to balance out for a beautiful Vancouver autumn (instead of just plain wet)...I agree! I didn't get as many pictures as I hoped (which sounds stupid considering how many pictures I DID take) but there's always next fall, right?

A few more tidbits before I share pictures from the closing fall season with you:
  • We finally settled on a church this summer - Our Lady of Perpetual Help (www.olphchurch.ca). It's a smaller community than Matt and I have been involved in the past several years, a Redemptorist parish. Though the young adult ministry in the Vancouver Diocese isn't exactly thriving, we're beginning to meet more people. Now that we aren't traveling every month (or every other week!) we're attending on a weekly basis and I will begin reading for Liturgy of the Word. It's been a long time since I was able to truly be involved in Mass in any aspect other than the congregation (though that role is NEVER to be understated...theologically speaking...ask if you are curious as to what I mean!) so I'm very excited.
  • I keep forgetting that tomorrow/today is Thanksgiving, considering that we already celebrated Canada's Thanksgiving in October (Fr. David said at Mass the day before that we need to remember that Thanksgiving isn't only the 2nd Monday in October...Matt and I giggled...OF COURSE it's not, it's the 4th Thursday in November!). We'll be celebrating with several other Americans at Desiree & Anthony's place tomorrow, turkey and all. Football will be on and we'll be cheering for the Horns. So no worries, Mom...it may not be as delicious as your food but I won't be deprived of a Thanksgiving feast :) UPDATE: I began writing this the other night and then our Internet went out...we did celebrate Thanksgiving and it was SO great! Desiree & Anthony made their first turkey - a very impressive success. Overall, a great night with friends, turkey and Taboo. Hope everyone had as great of a day as we did!
  • If you didn't already know, both Matt and myself are big musical theatre nerds. It's one of the first things we bonded over and if I had a voice half as as great as Matt's, I would still be doing it. It is something that Matt would love to continue with as soon as his grad studies are over. I have secret dreams but lack the talent...so I'll live vicariously through my husband, someday soon :) Needless to say, we LOVE Glee. If you don't watch Glee, you should. This isn't really an important update as much as a random fact about the Howeths, enjoy!
Okay...we proceed with Fall 2009:

Regent Retreat was a weekend for Regent College students at Warm Beach Camp. We got to camp together for the first time with surreal weather. One of Matt's fave profs was the keynote speaker throughout the weekend and on Saturday night, Regent students find the only bar in town and sing "Country Road" at the top of their lungs while the locals stare...it's great!
September 2009, Stanwood, WA

Julie was here! Sweet Julie visited me (okay...us) from Austin and we got to see lots of "pretty" sights :) Most of these pictures are from Queen Elizabeth Park, close to our house. There's about a billion more flower photos I'm still playing with but the white flower was one of my faves. The sunset with the tree is from this night, as well as the owl picture (most likely prey of the coyote we failed to get a picture of). Julie's visit was such a treat and we got to indulge in her love of sunsets in Vancouver and in Seattle. There's a lot more pictures from her visit because, well, there were too many good ones to pick just two!

The pictures of Matt & myself and of the ski runs are from us driving up to Cypress Mountain and checking out the view and where some Winter Olympics events are going to take place. The trees surround where freestyle skiing, snowboarding and something else I can't think of are happening next February (remember that picture for later). After a few days here, Julie and I went back across the border to Seattle, but not without stopping for Julie to stage some pics on both sides - one of me running away from Canada and the next with me running towards The USA. I think she wants me back in Texas :) The next sunset picture is from Seattle...shortly before I nearly burnt out my clutch on an extremely angled street by Pike Place Market that led to me practically hyperventilating and getting us lost in downtown Seattle. God bless Julie and her calming presence!

September/October 2009, Vancouver, BC/Seattle, WA

The next weekend, Michelle visited! Michelle is one of my extremely mature yet only 16 year old girls from Austin whose parents trusted Matt & myself enough to allow her to visit on her own. We did the usual showing off around town but also made a special trip to the outskirts of Vancouver to a pick apples and pumpkins. How very "autumn" of us, eh?

We climbed up on pumpkin painted haystacks, very different than any Texas hay experiences of Octobers past (it wasn't so hot that the hay itched) and Matt frolicked in the pumpkin patch (kinda looks like me running from Canada and to the USA, right?!). We walked up and down rows of apple trees, took some Twilight-inspired pictures along with other pretty pictures of apples. We chose our orange squash and Matt, ever chivalrous, carried our pumpkins.

There wasn't any brilliant way to capture Mount Baker, clear as day across the border in Washington, but Michelle saw it and that's what matters :) She also caught a glimpse of my madness as I was determined to get these fiery orange leaves against the bright blue sky!

That weekend, we continued our tour of Vancouver to a few different beaches and Vancouver landmarks, including the West End where Vancouver's "Inukshuk" stands. This stone man, with his arms outstretched, is a symbol of welcome and hospitality, very fitting as an emblem of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The picture of Michelle and I in the shadows of the sunset is blurry but a shot I'd like to perfect. Suggestions are very welcome :)

Michelle also celebrated my very first Canadian Thanksgiving with us at Matt's boss's house. It was 49 degrees that day (colder than it is in Texas on their Thanksgiving, today!) and we got to play with cute little kids after eating our first dose of turkey for the year. This whole USA/Canadian stint DEFINITELY works in our favor sometimes!

This picture of the obscenely large Canadian flag is with the official Olympic countdown clock by the Vancouver art Gallery. On Michelle's visit, we were 124 days away from the Opening Ceremonies...pretty cool huh??

October 2009, Vancouver, BC

The NEXT weekend, Matt and I headed to San Francisco for Brandon and Kelly's wedding. The wedding was actually in Alamo, CA and we stayed with my aunt & uncle in Fremont, CA but who's REALLY checking?

My Aunt Martha took us to the Stanford campus on a free day where we walked around...it was beauuutiful. That night we went to Kelly & Brandon's rehearsal dinner and when we came home...Heather & Lucas were there! They drove up from LA to see us & the Quijanos (and the trolley cars and Golden Gate Bridge...nothing could distract Lucas from his goals). I got to go around with them, Tia Martha & Uncle Husband the next day while Matt tended to wedding day groomsmen duties (in theory, Alcatraz is behind Lucas and Heather in the pic). That night we witnessed the union of Brandon & Kelly Gaide. Some friends from Austin were there (well, now the Grells are from Iowa!) so that was definitely an extra treat.

After a night of great food and dancing, Wedding Season 2009 was complete.
In all of those, adding in the ones we've attended together since 2007, Matt and I realized we have only sat together at two weddings (well, 1.5...he was way too sick at Trent & Amanda's for that to count). My sister asked the total tally for weddings attended in 2009...final count...7, I think? And those are only the ones we attended, yeesh!

Congratulations again to Kelly & Brandon Gaide!
October 2009, Alamo/Fremont/San Francisco, CA

Our most recent visitor to Vancouver was Matt's mom on Halloween weekend. She flew into Seattle on Thursday and stayed through Monday, when she flew out of Vancouver. She came to see what our life was like and to see a bit more of Vancouver than her first visit last year. On this trip we got to drive around and just stare at trees...beautiful trees with leaves on fire. Again, the weather was absolutely out of this world, on its' best behavior for another Texas visitor :) We managed to locate the work-in-progress Olympic Village (even closer to us than we thought!) and returned to Cypress Mountain (where we visited on Julie's trip...reference photos from above). The picture of the signs to the right were from our Cypress visit...we ventured past the point we stopped at a few weeks prior. These signs are located at each Olympic site to indicate the events taking place there.

The next pictures are closer, more recently updated photos of the ski run that we took a picture of with Julie. On the left, the stands are being built and to the right, you can see some snow on the ground. Since the weekend of these pictures, the mountain is now pretty much covered in snow so it's already progressed much since then. Basically, we're standing just outside the lodge, somewhere we can't afford to stand at in February :)

We returned to the Olympic clock exactly 21 days after our first visit with Michelle, getting a picture of this all lit up this time. We also stopped by to say hello and introduce her to "Inukshuk". Great pic of mom & son, right?

It was a very sweet trip, with lots of conversation and good food. Can't wait for a reunion at Christmas!

October/November 2009, Vancouver, B.C.

Thus concludes Fall 2009! For the past month we've been studying (I'm auditing an Old Testament Foundations class from Regent and I LOVE it!), working and NOT traveling. We've been able to spend more time together, just Matt and myself, while working hard before the Christmas trip. We've also been able to spend more time with Vancouver friends and couples...actually live here. We're starting to get a handle on things and now that the big catch up is done...it'll be easier to update about life. We want to be more intentional about exploring Vancouver and getting to know the town better, hopefully after finals are done :)

Peace & Blessings to you & yours...Happy Black Friday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough

Oh boy...it's late but I can't sleep. My sweet husband is passed out and usually that's enough motivation but there's stuff on my mind. It's strange - the last 4 months have gone by relatively slow. The days are longer; they're not as crammed as life in Austin was/is. There's more time to think and the essential task of focusing on my newborn marriage. Matt and I have shows we've been watching (including Lost...he's catching up). We get home from work/school pretty late and after some time catching up, no laptops or phones are generally allowed (unless I'm texting his sister about SYTYCD).

Tonight we finished the 4th season of The Wire. Over time we've put in some late Vancouver nights to get this far but it's straight up one of the best shows on TV, ever. Well, was...it was a 5 year series on HBO up until about 2006 or 07. It's basically about the affect of drugs on a city - specifically Baltimore - on all facets. The streets, the police, politicians, media, schools...nobody is untouchable. We have one season left but man, it leaves you thinking. And hurting, too. It's too real and though it's just a show - there are kids out there and people out there who live this life.

I don't know why some things touch me so deeply but they do. To see a depiction of neglected and hurting kids out there, knowing that the number of actual kids is beyond my comprehension...well, I can't sleep. I know these are actors but I can't stop mourning. As Mother Teresa said, we belong to each other. I do a lousy job of even allowing myself to belong to someone else, me and my pride. Sheesh.

Michael Jackson died today. Farrah Fawcett, too. Ed McMahon earlier this week. Celebrity deaths do happen in threes (I said that today before Nigel Lithgow did, thankyouverymuch!). These three names make me feel older. I know none of them were particularly young or incredibly unforeseeable but all of these names have been around my whole life. And they were still young!

I've rambled a bit now and it's time for me to try and sleep again. I've been discerning my career path...and I'm still discerning...but it's evident more and more everyday that I must return to working with kids. Elementary Education perhaps wasn't my demographic but...I can't write it off yet. We'll see where the Lord leads me this summer while I patiently listen. You see, I've realized how much He loves me. Remove me from my distractions...take me to the "wilderness" (AKA Canada)...draw me closer to Him so I can stop and sit. Look around. Listen.

I'm working on it...I really don't sit very well, yet.


(sorry for all the ellipses, blame it on the 3AM posting!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oops, I did it again...

Life gets crazy and apparently I stink at keeping up. Since I've written, Matt and I have traveled back to Texas twice, people have gotten married, many pictures have been taken (though not uploaded), people are pregnant (not me) or have had babies (again...not me), Swine Flu has hit closer to home (very possibly me...I'm okay and alive, no worries) and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE has started! Matt goes back to Texas next week for his great grandmother's 100th birthday - a remarkable woman indeed - and I begin a detox and will tackle sewing. More on all of this...soon.

For now, I am looking for everyone's favorite kitchen device. Matt and I liquidated our wedding registry for the move to Vancouver (easier than shipping!) and have already begun to repurchase our presents. We of course know several of the items we are going to buy (from the registry) but we have several gift cards that give us some freedom of choice as well. I'm trying to figure out if we should get a food processor or if we should choose a blender instead that has those functions...is an expensive slow cooker much better than a mid-range price...will a good toaster oven serve us well after we get a place with an oven (it's a tragedy...we have no oven...more difficult than I ever anticipated)...etc etc. I've even tried to find a "Top Ten Kitchen Appliances List" but, nothing very helpful has come up yet. Thoughts and feedback?

Cheers and love!