Tuesday, December 29, 2009

love this video more now

Before I started watching House, yes I was happy this was the show's theme song :), I heard this awesome song by Massive Attack. I've liked it since college and, though I wish I'd heard it sooner, it's still a hit on my playlist. I like it even more after seeing the video, though. A little strange, but so cool!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's a...



It's a... Mirabelle ;). Well, that's HER name. We found out the good news on Friday, along with an update on how she's growing. All her organs are functioning as they should be and she's right on target. This is a shy little girl. Mirabelle had her legs crossed almost the entire time... I think she wanted to keep us guessing because seconds before she uncrossed her legs, and literally minutes before the doctor finished up the ultrasound, it looked like she opened her mouth a little and smiled. Take a look...



She liked keeping us guessing :), but now we know pretty much for sure and we couldn't be happier. Saturday we bought a couple of cute outfits. Baby clothes have gotten cuter over the years! I found some Hello Kitty baby socks along with some very fun looking shoes. Of course, the shoes won't fit her for awhile but they were definitely affordable and so so so cute! Can't wait to see the little feet that will fill these shoes.



Not only is this exciting for us because it's our first baby, but we're really trying to savor every moment of the pregnancy/ultrasounds/etc. because we aren't quite sure how many more kiddos we'll be able to have. Of course, we're already talking about baby #2 :), we'd love to have around 4 of our own, but I'm not sure what God has in store for us. Being pregnant has been such a fun experience so far. Thankfully, it's been a fairly smooth ride. But I'm starting to get to the point where I feel like I'm going to pop midway into my meals because my stomach is being scrunched up :D.

So how did we come up with the name Mirabelle? Well, we didn't come up with it :). Jose and I are both pretty picky about names. I'd had a handful that I liked, and he never really gave baby names much thought before. He wasn't a fan of most of the names I picked out when I was, hmm... how long have I been thinking of baby names ;)? Anyway, I noticed that we both really liked French names. We liked Isabelle, but that name is pretty popular right now and I wanted our baby to have a slightly uncommon name. Mirabelle means "of incredible beauty". The meaning isn't as important to me as the other things the name suggests/reminds me of. My mom pointed out that Mira sounds short for Miracle, which she definitely is. Also, according to a baby calendar my mom kept for me while I was growing up, my first word was "mira," which actually means "look" in Spanish. Her middle name is Sofia, Jose chose the name, I chose the spelling. It took me awhile to get used to the idea, but I thought it flowed well (the other option was Olivia).

More of a post later, but I just wanted to share the good news :).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why I love Christmas so much

Christmas in NY 2008

If you've ever been around me during the holiday season, you know I love to go all out (especially for Christmas!). Though some might say that celebrating Christmas, or the secular aspect of it, is superficial and insignificant--I don't believe that things like Christmas trees and nativity sets are bad, as long as you remember what Christmas is all about and that those objects aren't the only things that make your Christmas joyful.

I associate Christmas with happy times in my life, as most of us do. But the funny thing is, I learned to appreciate Christmas as an adult in a whole new light when it occurred to me that all those Christmases weren't quite so happy, just cleverly disguised as so.

One year, when my mom was single and raising me on her own, she was fired from her job on Christmas Eve. She didn't tell me at all. At this time, things were pretty tough financially, but she always hid it well and didn't tell me about our struggles until I was a lot older. There were times we got by on credit. I had no idea that my mom was struggling so much to make ends meet, and putting me through private school on her own just made it harder, I'm sure. When I had to quit ice skating lessons because we couldn't afford it and our old car couldn't drive that far without troubles, she just told me that it was too far away -- she left out the details.

Every year, until about late elementary school, I'd get a new doll for Christmas. I was a doll fanatic. I didn't like Barbie, she seemed fake and snobby. I preferred those baby dolls that did cool things like move, cry, take a bottle or wet their diapers. A doll was the one gift I looked forward to the most during the holidays (and yet I hated wearing dresses). I never really specified what kind of doll I wanted, but I remember one year I really wanted this doll called Twinkling Thumbelina (I still have that doll in her original outfit :P!).

Every Christmas Eve, my mom let me open one gift before bed. And it had to be before bed... and I wasn't allowed to stay up late just because it was Christmas Eve, my mom had her rules. I made sure to examine every box closely beforehand (those boxes that dolls come in are pretty easy to identify, after awhile :). The plastic on the front makes its own kind of noise compared to the rest of the box, which is stiff from the cardboard. (You see, I'd mastered the art of gift-shaking/guessing because I wanted to make sure I opened the right one on Christmas Eve!) So what about the year I'd asked for Twinkling Thumbelina? My mom pulled a fast one on me and said that she just couldn't find it, that she was so sorry but that I was going to have a doll-less Christmas. I said it was okay, but I was a little sad, too. I was still convinced there was a "doll-box" under the tree, though. I'd had my eye on it for days! So when my mom broke the sad news to me about Twinkling T., I figured she'd just bought me another doll.

What happened? Well, I grabbed the mystery box and opened it verrrrry slowly. Starting at one corner, almost afraid to take a peak. Who could compete with Thumbelina? Oh wait... there'd be no need to answer that question because... it was Thumbelina! (Years later my mom told me that she'd searched high and low for that doll; she said it wasn't until Christmas Eve that she found Twinkling T. in an aisle of a pharmacy, when she was running an errand.)

In spite of what was going on around us or how much we were struggling, there was always a doll under the Christmas tree. There was always a Christmas tree to decorate, even if he was so small and twiggy that we had to decorate him with mini ornaments and place him on top of the table just so he would look rough and tough. There was always a smile on my mom's face when I opened my presents, when we decorated trees together, when I woke her up on Christmas morning... even though she had her own struggles to deal with. This was a time of selflessness, especially for my mom.

Oh, but don't worry. I didn't let her get away with thinking I didn't appreciate her. Though I had a mouth and liked to talk back more than I should've, I loved giving my mom more than just a headache :). Christmas shopping! Yeah, I'm still a fan. Isn't it fun when you're convinced that you finally got that special someone the perfect gift and they'll never guess what it is? Being sneaky never felt so good, right? That brings me to another story. How did I pay back my mom for dealing with me? I bought her a fake goldtone "xoxo" bracelet with tacky fake rhinestones from the "Santa's Shop" store that my school had temporarily put into business in order to raise money, because Catholic schools don't charge enough in tuition ;). She still has it in her jewelry box, to this day. I think it's the most hideous bracelet I've ever seen. But, man, I was so impressed when I laid eyes on that glimmering gaudy piece of costume jewelry. I thought to myself "Yeah, my mom will looove this, she'll never believe that I could afford a gift this pretty with the allowance my grandpa gave me last Sunday!". Of course, when my mom opened it up there was a smile on her face...but I think she was holding back a laugh, now that I think about it. :D

This is just a glimpse of my favorite Christmas memories, things that still make me smile today. My mother's selflessness, desire to make me happy in spite of life's difficulties, and need to protect me from life's "bad news" are things that weren't so obvious to me growing up. I loved Christmas for other reasons then. As a kid, I knew that it was Jesus' Birthday, but I'm still learning about its significance to this day. Still, when I think of former Christmases now, I'm able to see the connection between her love and God's love for us--she wasn't perfect, like any parent, but she tried and gave so much. He sacrificed a lot, too, a perfect baby (not a doll :) that became the perfect sacrifice for us, so that we could experience the joy of Christmas every day, even when times are tough.

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Exciting Life!

3 month ultrasound

I purposely titled this entry An Exciting Life because life is actually quite slow for me right now. Well, maybe life itself isn't necessarily slow, but I feel like I'm moving in sloooow motion. To be honest, I'm pretty lucky that I didn't suffer from much morning sickness the first trimester; there were those few revolting smells that made my stomach churn, and a bit of heartburn, but that only lasted a few weeks. My biggest symptom was/has been exhaustion.

I can sleep 8 to 10 hours and still feel like I need a nap, come 3PM; the rest of the day I'm just dragging. This is pretty funny, since I used to be the type of person that could sleep less than 6 hours and still have energy. Now, just the thought of preparing dinner makes me yawn ;). But... if sleepiness is all I'm dealing with, then I am still very, very lucky!

On top of that, I haven't been baking very much because I don't have a desire to eat sweets (biggest surprise)! My biggest craving? Salty, spicy and sour foods... and cold fruit. Sausage, cheese, ribs, cheetos, sour cream with pretty much anything, salsa and salty chips, french fries... almost any dried fruit like mango, cold pears and grapes... oh yeah, and mexican food, but no desserts.

There is a reason why the word "Exciting" is in this post, though. Every day, something new happens! It isn't necessarily something visibly new, but I wake up every morning knowing that someone is growing in there the way they should be. I love sneaking a peak during the ultrasounds. It always feels like getting to unwrap a Christmas present! There's something slightly different at each appointment, so it's like opening a different gift each time :). And in December, the week of or before Christmas, we'll get to find out if we're having a girl or a boy; that's my kind of present!

Slowing down gives me the chance to think about all of this more. The thought of being a mom is very exciting. Getting to share this experience with Jose is such a blessing. As cheesy as it sounds, sometimes when he's busy with school during the week, I get a warm feeling inside (literally haha!) knowing that a mini-Jose is in my belly.

Before I got pregnant, I used to ask God if I could please, please just have one biological baby. I knew I'd be happy adopting, and I'd still like to, but I really wanted a little piece of my best friend. I know life doesn't last forever, and with my pessimistic/creative mind, I have ways of imagining scenarios where I become a widow (silly, I know). I just feel like it would be easier (if easy is even the word) to endure the loss of your best friend/spouse if there's a child there to remind you of them.

Now that I'm in the second trimester, I feel like I can relax a little more and really enjoy this time. Though I'm not on my feet so much, I'm finding that activities like crocheting and working with clay are ideal pass times. I'm not the world's best crochet-er (?), but thankfully the blanket I'm crocheting isn't crooked :) (it's taken me awhile to get to this point! Ha!). As for working with clay, nothing fancy... Christmas (my favorite holiday) is right around the corner! My mom appreciates homemade gifts, so I made her some kitschy festive figurines (I also made a little sign that says grandma and grandpa to go along with the Santa/Mrs. Santa figurines :P; the uncle JD is for my little brother). I feel like a little kid doing this, but it's really fun and keeps my hands busy!
Right after Christmas is our wedding anniversary! So another trip is in our future. Hopefully it won't take me that long to write another blog post, though! :O)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall trip


Things have slowed down a bit around here. We decided to get out of the house last weekend (we've been cooped up for about 2 months!)... it was time for a trip, a low-key one. The fall foliage is at its peak, the weather is crisp and things, really, couldn't be better. I appreciate all of your comments and kind words/thoughts/prayers. Thankfully, everyone's doing well. The appointment last week went smoothly; we got to see our kiddo wiggle, he was asleep but the nurse insisted on waking him up so we could catch of glimpse of the baby in action. It's so cute and little! This ultrasound was from last week, I took the picture with my phone which is why it's a bit blurry:


I have a feeling I'm going to be one of those moms that takes too many pictures of their kids :P... but at least he/she doesn't mind now :)!

So our trip last week... it was so fun and relaxing. We wanted to go apple picking again this year, but with the clot issue creating a need to rest/not walk around so much, Jose and I thought an adventure to the Berkshires would be appropriate.

Stockbridge, MA

Located in what I'd call the East Coast countryside/mountains, the Berkshires, home to a group of small cities, is the place to visit when you're in Massachusetts. We spent most of our time in Lenox and Stockbridge, where we wandered over to the Norman Rockwell museum. (FYI, this is where Rockwell's Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas painting comes to life every year around Christmas time.) Then we headed over to The Berkshire Scenic Railway for an old-time train ride. Literally old time! No heating, rickety and a little rusty... the whole shebang, so fun! The scenery distracted us from the bitter cold :), especially during the train ride.


The drive up there was an experience in itself; it's going down as one of the most scenic drives I've ever taken. Ah... and dinner! Instead of staying over night and spending more money, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice but affordable meal. I just can't wait for Thanksgiving, so I had turkey, veggies, cheesy mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce and the best butternut squash soup! Jose enjoyed a yummy pork/date stew with a potato cake, veggies and broccoli/bacon soup.


The restaurant is part of a cozy bed and breakfast! It was freezing outside when we arrived (I was wearing long underwear, makes a big difference!), so the warm vintage cottage-like restaurant/inn was extra inviting. We made reservations, got there right at 5, and had the whole place to ourselves. Mr. A and I got to chat and enjoy a good meal, with tea and hot chocolate... I love dates :). So what's the name of this restaurant I keep going on an on about? It's Rumplestiltzkin's (cute name), located in Lenox, MA!

View during the train ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Praying for another miracle

Life is one trust-fall after another. When we think we're standing tall and confident, God's down below ready to catch us. Even though we can't see him, he's caught us plenty of times before. So why is it then when we have to take a new plunge, we hesitate as if it's the first time? As if a human with arms that can easily break is standing in God's place?

I've had a love-hate relationship with doctors, well maybe not hate ;). They can be such pessimists, quite cocky too. They'll tell us we have no chance at life sometimes, then God miraculously intervenes and they're left speechless. They'll say we need surgery for our bodies to work... then, after much prayer, our bodies kick in to gear -- God's responsible for those gears, but most doctor's won't admit that.

My reproductive endocrinologist laughed when I walked into her office a few days ago. She said "I guess I just had to scare you about the surgery ;)." I was a little irked, I know it was a joke, but little did she know about all the praying taking place behind the scenes. The fact that I conceived this baby has nothing to do with her and everything to do with God. But whatever, I laughed too and held back my human need to lash out like a smart aleck. And like the surgery is a laughing matter, in any context?

I hold the same bitter feelings toward the curt radiologist who's been analyzing my past two ultrasounds. Yes, the guy knows what he's talking about, and I guess I can't blame him for being the temporary bearer of bad news. The first ultrasound revealed a large cyst on my left ovary; thankfully it's gone now. But there was something a little more worrisome in this last ultrasound. A blood clot between the placenta and uterus, or what they call a subchorionic hematoma; they happen in about 1% of pregnancies.

It isn't tiny but it isn't huge... but it is three times the current size of the baby, which is scary. Sometimes these blood clots will be reabsorbed by the body; other times, the body bleeds them out... unfortunately, other times there's a total loss because the clot causes the placenta and baby to totally dislodge from the uterine wall. I had some cramping and mild bleeding before the ultrasound, but the nurses said it was "normal." The radiologist later said it was the clot causing the bleeding. I'm praying my body's getting rid of it, but I do freak out every time I start to cramp. Needless to say, I'm taking it very easy until the next ultrasound. This clot could grow or disappear, I'm hoping it'll disappear without any more bleeding. Let's face it, bleeding during pregnancy is scary.

So here I am again, at God's feet. Praying for a different miracle this time... I know he can sustain the life of this child. When doctors say they can't do anything more, that's when he intervenes (but, obviously, he's been known to intervene a lot sooner). My mom had full placenta previa when she was pregnant with my brother, then the placenta moved "by itself" (aka thanks to God's hand). I was born with a hole in my heart and that "magically healed on it's own" ;). Who am I to question God's omniscience now?

I've already had the talk with Him. This is his kiddo before it's mine, I know, so if he wants it back in heaven, I can't argue. It won't be easy to deal with, but he has his reasons... and so far, all the reasons for the previous ugly situations in my life have turned out to be pretty good ones :). For instance, I wouldn't be married to my best friend if not for some other ugly occurrences in my life. I've learned that nothing is a coincidence.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's been too long...

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's House (& George Washington's :)

It's been too long since I've written a real post :). I was full of energy and doing all sorts of things last weekend, but oh how things can change over the course of one week! One day pregnancy hormones are barely at 100 and three days later they're around 1000, no complaints! Thankfully all is well, I'm just a little tired these days :).

I did want to share a few photos from last week's trip to Longfellow's house. Well, I guess it really wasn't a big trip, considering we walked there :P. I can't believe how long it took us to find out about this place, we've lived only a few blocks away this whole time! It's definitely one of the most beautiful and well-maintained historic homes I've ever visited. They've done such a great job of preserving it (by they I mean the family). All of the furniture is original and only the window treatments and carpets were restored (but in one room everything is the same!).

Both George Washington and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived in this gorgeous house at one point, though at separate times. The deed didn't actually belong to Longfellow, though. When it came time to purchase a home for his new family, Longfellow was struggling to make it financially as a Harvard Professor by day and poet by night (this was before he made it big) . So Longfellow's wife's father stepped in and purchased the home as a wedding gift. What a gift!

Years before that, Washington lived here (I think it was around the time of the American Revolution). The neat thing is, he also fought alongside Longfellow's grandfather, so the two were coincidentally connected.

My favorite room is Longfellow's office or "poetry room". This is where he did his best thinking and writing. I instantly felt like a giddy little kid at Disneyland when the guide told us about this room's significance. It's pretty cool because Longfellow wrote his poems standing up behind a podium, not sitting down. And the original podium is still there! :) And this is where the magic happened, the podium is in the second photo.




Below is the dining room area and the exact table where Longfellow entertained guests like Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Below are photos of Martha and George Washington.


Everything is original in this room, from the window treatments to the wallpaper (sorry it's crooked, the area was roped off :)


Here's a small glimpse of his huge garden:



A blurry picture of Longfellow (poor lighting, sorry no flash!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Miracle




This is the 4th picture of this darn test I've taken. I'm gonna be a mom! Honestly, this news took Jose and I by surprise, but not in the way you might think. This was definitely planned...

2 weeks ago I went to the doctor and was told that my hormones were so outta whack that I was going to need 1. Either IVF or 2. Surgery (a procedure called ovarian drilling). The doctor was convinced I would not be able to conceive on my own! At age 17, I was told that I would need medical intervention to have a baby (I have polycystic ovarian syndrome). I even took Clomid, a fertility pill, for 3 months and it did NOT work. I was convinced that God would certainly have to intercede, I was praying for a miracle.

I had a set date to see the reproductive endocrinologist this Wednesday, I was going to tell her that I wanted to have the surgery done.

Can you believe it?!

For the past two weeks I'd been praying that God would literally put something in the way to stop me from having this surgery if I wasn't meant to go under the knife...

Well, a bun in the oven is certainly a sign that I don't need to have the surgery!!!!!!!

... Cuz, ya know, that's the whole reason why I was gonna need to have the surgery in the first place!! THIS IS OUR MIRACLE!!!!

It should be due around mid May!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Weekend Project

Want a work-out? Forget about using an electric sander and sand that piece of furniture down yourself! I did a lot of sanding this past weekend. I have to say it was pretty intense, considering how hot and humid it was. But I had so much fun!

I spend a lot of time in front of the computer for work, so the slight exhaustion I felt after completing these two little projects was actually nice! The first piece of furniture I made-over is at the bottom, it's the white bookshelf. I didn't get a chance to take a before photo and I almost forgot to take an after picture. The after picture was taken at the last minute, in my poorly lit kitchen, so I cropped-out the yellow-tinted background :P. The paint color I used is called white cotton. I put on 2 heavy coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. Other than the sanding, rolling on the primer took quite awhile. I think I primed it too much? Not sure.

The second piece of furniture that received a quick weekend make-over is the abandoned 2 drawer end table pictured directly below. I found it next to someone's trash can last year when I was taking a walk, so I picked it up and carried it home. It was too cute to throw away because it had potential. I was initially thinking about painting it white, until I saw what it looked like after a bit of sanding. It was even cuter than I thought it'd be and the wood smelled so nice! I didn't add a drop of paint or primer to the wood after sanding it down; instead, I focused on roughing up a few of the edges to give it a rustic look. I then replaced the ugly metal knobs/handles on each drawer with two vintage spools (I used two because each drawer has two ugly holes where the old knobs would be).

Before:

After:

Materials:

This primer is awesome!:
Bookshelf after (before it was a not-so-pretty light brown particle board color):

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Choices

Are you a planner? I sure am. Boy, do I love to have control over every little detail of my life. Mostly because my life has always been a bit of a roller coaster; lots of moving around, lots of unexpected surprises, etc. So I like to think, and this is a flawed way of thinking, that if I plan something just right, things will work out. I know God sympathetically shakes his head back and forth when I do this, but I also know he has a loving heart and understands my obvious insecurities and fears.

These days, in spite of a situation that I don't really have much control over, he's giving me peace. Maybe I should say that he's using this particular situation to mold me into a person who trusts him and can receive peace, as a result. So why don't I cut to the chase, what's the situation?

I guess I've been giving in to societal norms; Is this what people talk about openly? I ask. I feel like I'm hiding a part of myself in doing so. It shouldn't make me feel uneasy; it's not like it's some kind of behavior I can modify or even an issue that has a quick-fix. In fact, it's just a condition, a very common one that many women are diagnosed with. I should not be ashamed to discuss it. Funny thing is, in having to preface the issue so much I'm revealing that it does, in fact, make me insecure, even now. I'm still a bit hesitant to share this so openly, as you can see. But the big loud-mouth in me is ashamed for being such a dull coward; I want to keep it real.

About 8 years ago, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I'm what they call a thin cyster. Nope, it isn't supposed to be spelled sister and you probably know this if you've just googled PCOS :). Basically, my ovaries produce cysts instead of the monthly golden egg. Why does this happen? This Thursday I found out, thanks to a great reproductive endocrinologist, that one of my hormone levels (LH) is 3-4 times higher than it should be, and this leads to cysts, irregularity, anovulation (infertility)... and acne, and a host of other fun conditions, but these are the only ones I've dealt with.

I don't know why that LH hormone is so high, and neither do the docs. In fact, they don't really know what causes PCOS... yet. I'm not banking on my docs finding a cure any time soon, so when it comes to having a kiddo, my options are a bit limited. Remember all that planning? I've recently thrown all my plans out the window. Instead of making plans, I'm praying for grace, peace and wisdom on a daily basis.

My options are IVF and an interesting procedure/surgery called ovarian drilling (or ovarian diathermy). The first? Not sure I'm a fan. Don't know if I like the idea of freezing some of my babies in a test tube, donating the spares to science, or reducing. The second? To be honest, the name totally freaked me out. The idea of my ovaries undergoing electrocution doesn't exactly sound fun to me. I also googled it and freaked out when I read the potential risks (early menopause, scarring etc.).

After my doctor appointment this past Monday (before receiving the test results), I came home feeling defeated. What am I going to do? Was the question of the day. The doc says I'm resistant to Clomid (a fertility pill that didn't work for me), and now my options are pretty limited. Yuck, I don't like surgery. Blah, IVF?! I let myself freak out for a little while, then reality stepped in and slapped me silly: All things are possible with God.

So I said: God, I don't know what to do. Give me your wisdom so that I can make the right decision. I know I'm scared about the surgery, but I also know that your perfect love casts out fear. So if I'm meant to undergo that funky procedure, replace the fear with peace.

What happens?

When the nurse later calls on Wednesday to tell me the bad news, she finishes the call with: You're in the hands of a great doctor, she's really going to help you out. Let it be known, before the nurse said that, I was thinking about ditching that great doctor. Part of me was mad at her (the doc) for limiting my options, I thought maybe she could do more. Who cares if she's a Harvard Med school graduate and a director at the top gynecology hospital in the world... and has 20 years of experience, on top of that? That, my friends, was cynical and peace-lacking Sophie talking.

God uses people to talk to us. He also answers prayer. I don't know if God is going to take this thorn from my side, but I do know that he will give me strength and peace I need to make it through any situation, if I ask for it. I've been doing a lot of asking and even thanking. Thanking? Yes. This is a situation that God can use, it's a blessing in disguise. I'm ready for anything, with him. I have to admit, I was scared out of my mind at the thought of ovarian electrocution (that's not the medical name for it, but it sounds kinda exciting saying that :P). But ever since that phone call (and ever since I've been talking to God more about it instead of coming up with more things to worry about), I have a new sense of peace when I think about undergoing the procedure.

That procedure sounds enticing because, right now, with this funky hormonal imbalance, I have about a 40% chance of suffering a miscarriage. That is, if I can even get pregnant. (After the procedure, my risk goes down to about 12% and there's about an 85-90% chance that I'll produce my own eggs without further medical intervention.) Not only that, but IVF is risky for many reasons. One of those reasons is: fertility shots. Because I'm small and young, the doctor thinks I'll over-respond and produce too many eggs. (She even mentioned octuplets; I told her my life is exciting enough without a reality show, thank you very much. :P) With the shots, I risk developing ovarian-hyperstimulation syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition which can be exacerbated by my size.

Nothing is written in stone just yet. I'm also taking the proactive approach by starting a 5 day/week exercise routine, eating a little better, and signing up for acupuncture. Those things can improve the situation and help me feel better, in general. My main source of strength? The only certainty I have: this did not happen by accident, it is a part of God's plan, and he'll work it all out if I'm willing give him the go-ahead by relying on his strength and perfect love.

This is what it's all about, after all:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Beggar

I'm usually the beggar instead of the giver; asking God for more with an ungrateful heart instead of offering what I already have, the little that can be used. I'm still learning that it's when I've given myself over to him, weaknesses and all, that I can receive the greatest blessing.

What good of me is there to give?
A failed attempt to change or
the change, in my pocket?
A few quarters and pennies?
I have more than that.

My head knows what it means to bow
but, truly, only in fear;
reverence is a place I have not arrived at.
Trust is weakened with my plans.

I
look up only to ask
and other times
I
forget WHO is there.
(I
don't always say thank you
because
I
Usually ask why?

...I, I, I instead of
You.)

You will give
When I have given
More than I have offered or sacrificed.

I've lived my life in alphabetical order:
Me comes before You.
But You ask me to break the rules of convention,
Open my heart to only you and
an intervention

where

holiness replaces all the holes
and fills me with
You,
Then I will have enough
because
It will be your
love
I'm
giving.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Love without talking

A facebook friend of mine just commented on this, had to watch it. So cute :).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fun Finds: Places to shop in Houston, TX and cute sites to visit online


If you ever find yourself in Houston, Texas, be sure to visit Texas Junk Co. You'll find an assortment of random and original treasures, from cowboy boots to frames and embroidered tea towels. I stopped by yesterday and found all of these photographed items. Texas Junk Company is the place to go if you love experiencing the joy of finding a good deal after really searching for it, as in literally getting your hands dirty. Think grandma's garage -- dust, rust and all :).


For those who prefer a cleaner environment (one that's nicely air conditioned, not dusty and big like Texas -- it is the biggest antique mall in the Lone Star State, after all) visit Market Place Antiques. You're basically paying for them to do the dusting, cleaning and hand-picking. They know what they're selling, so it isn't as easy to find a good deal. What's fun is coming across a sale! The market place is sectioned off into booths, each one operated by a different seller, which means you'll find anything and everything here. Need a 100 year old hand-carved bread box from France? They've got that. Looking for an old Charles Dickens book? They've got you covered there, too. They even have their own little diner, so the whole place smells like a dreamy meatloaf sandwich (dreamy if you like meatloaf sandwiches, that is :).


What if you want eye candy without having to leave the comfort of your own home? What if Texas is just too hot to visit? (It is! :P) Then stay home and check out these lovely sites!:
Nest Decorating (My favorite jewelry designer!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nothing fancy

It's late, but I feel like writing. Funny, sometimes I find that I actually think clearer when my eyes begin to get heavy.

I was just thinking about learning how to be. How to be? What does that mean? Read on...

When I first started college, I was always thinking about how to be. It seems that's the time we think about such things the most. I was excited because I was finally gonna get the chance to attend one school for four years! Growing up, I went to 13 different schools. Part of it was because I had a mom who liked to move from suburb to suburb (when we lived in Southern California), and the other part had to do with the fact that my step-dad was in the military. I always felt kind of like a little weed, to be honest. Despite being uprooted time and again, I always found a way to creep back up and not let the fact that I moved so much get the best of me. But, honestly, it was tough at times. I turned to writing and music for comfort. Yes, I was a dork and still am. It's something I actually like about myself now. It took awhile to get here.

The awkward phase definitely lasted a long time, mostly because I couldn't just be. Let's go back to the part where I talk about college. I remember the first week very well. My neighbor was locking her door the same time I was, so I decided to be friendly and start a conversation with her. We walked down the hall, got on the elevator together and then, before she got off the elevator, I suggested that we get breakfast some time. We eventually became friends, but she later told me that she thought I was a little weird because I was too friendly. I have to laugh when I think about it now, I think I was just overly excited. I wanted to hurry up and make friends because I'd finally be able to "keep them" for 4 years, and that was a long time for me.

But I have to admit, it was a bit out of character for me to be so bold. In high school I was somewhat introverted, at least to the outside world. I had my reasons, but I was stuck and it took me awhile to be able to move, emotionally speaking. I decided to be more outgoing in college, but it didn't last long. I eventually embraced the fact that I was more of an introvert than an extrovert. But to be honest, I now call myself an introverted extrovert. I really do enjoy being around people and talking, but I'm just hesitant to open up to certain folks. I had to learn how to read people at a young age because I didn't have time to make friends with those who weren't genuinely interested in a real friendship. I didn't learn that until after middle school, though.

Not worth keeping? What does that mean? I liked people who just were... themselves. Not trying. I admired them for that quality because it's what I didn't have. I couldn't just let go. Metaphorically speaking, I lived life with my shirt tucked in. I wanted to stop judging myself based on how I thought others viewed me. That's what kept me in my shell for so long, I was afraid of what people would think of me when I opened my mouth. What would they say if they found out that I actually liked to go to the library and borrow poetry books? What would they do if they found out that, instead of going out drinking, I was at home writing, painting or searching for another song to add to my never-ending playlist because I was music-obsessed (and why is that so bad anyway ;)?

I learned how to take a deep breath in college. I came to know God more and how that should define my worth more than an opinion or my own ideas. I found someone who loved me for me, someone who also went through a similar phase; he's now my husband :). Learning how to just be is not so hard, after all. The only thing standing in the way of myself and the feeling of acceptance is me, my own mind and negative thoughts. It's interesting, God says he is the great "I AM"; God defines ultimate peace. Learning how to be for us humans is an on-going process, we will never be God but we can strive to live the way he did. We can learn how to be in him because he already is, that's why he says "I [just] AM".

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Up and coming summer/fall project!

We're heading back to Boston in just a few weeks... back to our little 100 year old cozy apartment! Jose and I have been thinking about what we can do to brighten up the place a little more when we get there. This time last year, we had no idea we'd spend so much time indoors (this was obviously before our first snowy winter!). We now realize it'd be a good idea to work on making our living room a little more bright and cheery (it's so dark when the sun sets around 4pm for 1/3-1/4 of the year!). By the way, that picture on the left, that's Boston... well, it's really the bridge we cross (on the T) to go from Cambridge to Boston.

Before we considered changing up the color scheme, we thought about just buying a new and bigger couch. Then we realized it'd be better to enhance the overall look of the apartment in a more affordable and fun way, by hand (we'll also buy a chair instead)! We'll make pillows, frame some of the colorful artwork I've collected, and paint some of our furniture. That last one is probably going to be the most challenging, since neither of us has painted anything before. But thanks to the internet (and the nice folks at Home Depot who gave us a few helpful tips), it isn't going to be a nightmare but an adventure... we hope :)!

I'm so excited! Now we have to decide if we are going to strip one of the items of furniture we have (a plain solid wood desk in our bedroom) or just sand it down before painting and priming it. Hmmm... I'm still a bit worried about using paint stripper, so we'll see how we move forward with that project. The other items are a little cheaper/smooth and made of mostly particlebored, so we'll only have to prime and paint those (says Home Depot).

Here are a few helpful furniture painting tutorials/sites that I've come across so far (feel free to share any tips if you have them! :).

By the way, I just emailed the blogger (Cindy) and asked her a few questions. She was nice enough to respond very quickly! I asked her about stripping (paint! :P silly!). She says she's read of people successfully painting furniture without stripping or even sanding, priming is the most important thing! She says the paint will chip if you don't prime first... good to know. Also nice to know I don't have to strip the desk, I think I'll just spend a day sanding it down.

(They chose to just sand and it looks pretty good to me :)


Artsparx.com is another great place to check-out...
Info on sandpaper

Tips from the folks at Home Depot:
For particleboard you can just prime and paint; be sure to use an oil based primer for particleboard, though. Water based can cause it to swell and bubble. Oil based by Behr/semi-gloss is a good one. If a hard veneer surface is involved, you can go ahead and use water based paints. But make sure the primer is also oil-based if you ware using oil-based paints. There are primers that say they don't require a sanded surface before applying, but it's a good idea to sand it a little bit anyway, to rough it up so the primer adheres.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Peace


Building is
tearing down a foundation
made of the uneven ideas we've collected
to hold ourselves
up.
Falling down
to our knees, that is moving
forward.
Walking confidently, we trip.

I've walked so far, there are blisters on my soles.
A blister on my soul
growing smaller in the sun, my goal.
Permanent scars on my palms, not nails.

I arrived at the major crossroads
When I abandoned myself at the fork in the road,
Giving up the heaviest load.

The other day I was thinking about how much I used to like writing poetry. I still enjoy it, but now I only write a handful of poems a year. Writing used to be more of a cathartic experience for me, but I think I focused too much on the negative. These days I write when I feel thankful or grateful for the way things are, and the way I've been blessed.

Though it might not sound like it, this is a "happy" poem. I don't usually break down my poems, but feel it's a good idea to do it sometimes, so I'll do it now :).

To put it simply, this is a poem about God and growth. So many times we think we have all the answers. We get caught up in ideas and theories that don't offer us very much hope, when we really think about them. As a result, we develop a blind confidence that doesn't become evident to us until we're hurting. But it's when we cry out for help that we're strengthened. This is what the first stanza suggests.

I've done this many times, like the second stanza says. Scars? I definitely have those, I am human after all -- no godly nails on these palms (last line). The blister on my soul represents my weaknesses. The sun? The light, God. The only one who can strengthen even the weakest of souls.

The major crossroads? The cross and everything it represents. That's where I rest my heaviest burdens.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A story of two monks

"I need oil," said an ancient monk, so he planted an olive sapling. "Lord," he prayed, "It needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers." And the Lord sent gentle showers. "Lord," prayed the monk, "my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray thee." And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. "Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues," cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.

Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. "I, too, planted a little tree," he said, "and see! It thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. he who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. 'Lord, send what it needs,' I prayed, 'storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou has made it and Thou dost know.'"

Story taken from this book (again :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Vintage projects and lots of sewing!

Best place to get vintage fabric? Estate sales! I always feel bad digging through the personal belongings of folks who've passed, but I'm sure they'd appreciate that someone is putting their stuff to use, at least I'd feel that way. And guess where this fabric is from? Old sheets and pillowcases! I plan on using them to make new curtains for our room when we get back to Boston, but I think I'll have quite a few left over for throwing a few tote bags together... or maybe a skirt!

Great tutorial for using pillowcases? Check this one out, it's from Craftzine. Instead of making a shirt, I decided to make a skirt with an elastic waist (still can't do zippers on clothing!)... then a summer tote bag...


All of the sewing classes I signed up for in Cambridge were canceled last year, I was so disappointed :(. Lucky for me, I've been able to take 2 different sewing classes here in Houston for the price of one! One of my new favorite Thursday night hangouts? I love the look and feel of Sew Crafty. How cute this craft studio is! And they're moving to a bigger studio next month! I can't wait to take more classes next summer when I come back to Houston.

image from here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More thoughts on forgiveness

...forgive your brother from your heart.
Matthew 18:35

...you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
2 Corinthians 2:7
I did not want to get out of bed this morning, and it's my own fault :). I lowered the AC to about 65 degrees last night. Even though it's a hot July here in Texas, I love falling asleep under a pile of blankets (about 3). How do I survive a brutal summer with that habit? I lower the temperature in the apartment considerably. But I lowered it too much last night. So instead of jumping out of bed this morning, I nestled further into my cocoon of blankets and came up with an action plan.

This is all I came up with, it isn't very impressive: Run to the thermostat when the AC stops, the break between the cold blasts, then jump back into bed for just a few more minutes (or until it no longer hurts to think about leaving the cozy cocoon).

You know what I realized? I hate to admit it, but that's kind of how I am when it comes to giving and accepting apologies.

Don't forgive until you're ready, that's what most folks will tell you. When the tables are turned, the world will say you don't have to apologize to anyone. That last one sounds pretty good (until the guilt sets in). At that point you can choose denial or acceptance. But I know I'd rather stay under the covers a little longer. Saying I apologize or I forgive you can feel as uncomfortable as crawling out of bed when the room is freezing cold. But the day will go on whether or not you choose to leave the cocoon you're struggling to get out of.

Forgiveness is the basis of Christianity, both giving and receiving it. I've often heard it said that true freedom comes with knowing Christ. Knowing him means acknowledging our weaknesses as human beings and asking for forgiveness on a daily basis. But the bible also says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ; we're not supposed to dwell on the times we've failed (Romans 8:1). So it's easy to see how we can know freedom when God forgives us. We're no longer in bondage to our guilt or sin and we can easily move forward. But how can we be free if we also do not forgive? This is the other part of the deal.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14
God calls us to forgive and, like all commandments, God has our best interest in mind when he tells us to do it. Lack of forgiveness alters our ability to make the right choices. For instance, take the cycle of abuse. Abusers usually come from abusive homes, and if they fail to acknowledge that abuse as sin, and also forgive their abusers, the cycle will inevitably continue. The abused abusers won't see anything wrong with the way they were treated, and they will treat others the same way. OR they will see something wrong with it, but they'll hold on to the resentment and that will interfere with all of their relationships.

I don't know everything, I am just a twenty something year old who is still trying to figure it out one prayer at a time. But I am sure of one thing, every day I have to remind myself that I've been called to forgive anyone who's ever wronged me. When I'm reminded of something ugly, I really have to make a conscious effort. I tell myself that I have already forgiven the person and I should not let their past actions interfere with my present life. I take lots of baby steps. Choosing to forgive was just the first one. Even that took a small miracle because I couldn't do it on my own; I still don't know anyone who's done it alone.
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Mark 11:25

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.
Colossians 3:13

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Taking a moment...

Earlier this morning, I read about The Simple Things blogging event on my friend Tracy's blog, Pink Purl. It's now 4 PM and the hectic day is finally beginning to wind down. I'm usually the least thankful on days like this because I forget about the simple things. Now's the perfect time to list them. Seeing these simple things typed out in black and white letters seems to make them more important, bigger, or even more powerful than all the other insignificant events of the day. After reading through the list, I feel more calm; the good things are more concrete and tangible. The events that contributed to a hectic day? They become part of the soil beneath the wildflowers, simple things we love the most.

Big, suffocating hugs.
The feeling of dough between my fingers.
Surprises, giving and receiving them.
The first snow but also stepping out of a Texas airport in the middle of summer after freezing all year in Boston =0).
Little drawings my brother gives me.
Snail mail!
Smiling at random passers by.
The smell of books, old and new (is there a candle out there that captures this scent?).
Receiving and giving mixed CDs.
Staying up late to chat in bed with the hubby.
Homemade with love anything, from food to socks :).
Christmas tree and burning fireplace smell (not christmas trees burning in the fireplace!)
The cozy feeling of the sun on my back when I step out of a cold pool.
The smell of cilantro (reminds me of my grandmother's food).
Hearing an old song on the radio I haven't heard in 5-10 years.
Trips to big libraries.
Mixed fruit in a bowl.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Exciting!



Lexi from Love. Obsess. Inspire. featured me today in her new printable goodies posting series! Yay! So excited! Check it out here.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Freedom

They took away what should have been my eyes,
(But I remembered Milton's Paradise)
They took away what should have been my ears,
(Beethoven came and wiped away my tears)
They took away what should have been my tongue,
(But I had talked with God when I was young)
He would not let them take away my soul,
Possessing that, I still possess the whole.

Helen Keller

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stuck

Here are two separate but related quotes from a book I've been reading; such insightful information. I've been posting it everywhere:

[Contentment is] a soul sufficiency, a peace separate from circumstances. Most of us base our contentment on our circumstances, on our feelings, or on other people. However, true contentment is separate from our circumstances. Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs.

When we take over and try to control what happens, we take our focus off the One [God] who is in control and put our eyes on our circumstances.

Though I completely agree with those statements, I think another reason why we can't be content is because we aren't willing to live in the present, obviously. It's so much easier to be resentful toward someone or unhappy about something that happened to us in the past than to forgive the person and move forward. Funny thing is, even though it's very human for us to like the false feeling of security that comes with "thinking" we've got it all under control, in these moments we're far from in control; we're slaves to our past when we can't acknowledge our present blessings. Even if we're not mentally dwelling on the former events, if we are stuck in the same mindset, we're just stuck. We can't become better people, we can't help anyone else, and we really can't be content or at peace.

It's during these times that we think God hasn't listened to or answered our prayers, so we also become resentful toward him; we pretend we don't need him when we're in the most needy phase of the healing process. I don't think having these feelings is wrong because they can open the door to healing, that's why I consider them part of the process, but when thinking negatively becomes part of our everyday routine, the event or person that triggers the feeling becomes an idol and there's no room for God. We then take matters into our own hands and things fall apart, if it's not evident in our life then it becomes evident in our thought life/hearts. We become calloused and unable to love.


(There have been moments in my life when I've let myself get stuck. I continued praying during those times, more out of desperation than anything else, but there was still a tiny bit of faith that God could work with. I'm still very flawed in this sense, but the healing process is life long because I am human. These are just some things I've thought about along the way. Funny thing is, they didn't actually occur to me until I tried helping a few others going through a similar situation. I realized I needed to start following my own advice! :)

Life is hard. We pray. But God isn't going to come down and shout from the rooftops: "Hey look, here's your miracle; here's your answered prayer!" We're the vehicles he uses to answer our own prayers. But if we're driven by negative thoughts, he can't steer us in the direction we're supposed to go. (Yes, bad pun! But at least I didn't say Jesus, take the wheel -- that would've been really bad. :)

It even makes sense that the answer to our prayers is revealed to us in the moments when we can see how the obvious blessings of our present override the memories of a difficult past. But we can't see how our prayers have been answered when we're asking God why he hasn't answered our prayers; ungrateful souls are blind.


So whether the memory is attached to a person or event, it all comes down to this cliche: life's too short to dwell on it. There will be blessings we'll miss out on and there will be people we'll miss out on loving, even if one of those people is the person who hurt us. I've had to make amends with those who've hurt me so that I could love them through forgiveness; sometimes that meant just apologizing for the small (or big) hurtful role I played in the situation without receiving an apology in return. But in the end, they aren't going to be here forever and neither am I.

When we're face to face with God, he's going to ask us if we lived for him -- that means loving the way he loved us, that's what we've all been called to do. If I can't say that I loved everyone I came across while on earth, because there was resentment preventing real love from existing in my life, then I didn't really love anyone at all, not even myself.
 

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