Friday, June 24, 2011

One of my absolute favorite things in California so far is visits from friends from back home. There's nothing that's quite as sweet as seeing a familiar face...especially one that you haven't seen in far too long...and feeling like you had never been apart in the first place. Today was one of those days that I was blessed with one such visit.

Next Friday will be five years from the day that my dad passed away. I do my best to be in good spirits and dwell on the good over the bad. I usually do a pretty good job of this, but I credit that to the friends and family I have that have helped me get to the point where I can. One of those people is my good friend Jason Whipple. When something like losing a loved one happens to you, there are very few people that can say, "I know what you're going through," that you'll actually believe. Jason's dad passed away a few years before mine did. Jason was bold enough to ask me to go to him to GriefShare, a support group at our church for people that were experiencing loss. There were so many people in the time shortly after my dad died that wanted to help but didn't know what to do or say. It wasn't their fault. I didn't blame them, but it did suck...and hurt a little...that I felt like I had no place to go. Jason's invitation changed that. I can't thank him enough for the invite or for sharing that part of his life with me. There were a lot of tears, a lot of stories, and more vulnerability than even I was used to. I would never have gone on my own...but I'll be eternally grateful that I did.

Anyway, it had been a long time since I had seen Jason. His wife Beth and he left Champaign long before I ever did. They had a baby, and I had seen Beth and their daughter Wren once when they were back to visit before we left, but that was it. Jason is in the Army and had a class to teach in CA last week and thought to let me know to see if we could meet up. That in and of itself meant a lot, but the fact that we actually made it happen was even better. I drove up to Tehachapi to meet them (Beth, Jason, and Wren) for lunch on their way back to New Mexico. I think we sat in Quiznos for almost an hour and a half just chatting, laughing, and hanging out like the good ol' times. Their daughter is 4 now. I can't believe that much time has passed.

Times like these make me a little homesick, though a good number of the people I miss from back home don't even live there anymore themselves. Jason asked me if I like it here. My answer was that I've decided to like it. I think that there's a lot here that I could complain about if I wanted to, but it's a lot easier to be happy if I try to find as many things to like as I can, the sunshine. I have many friends here, too...and a good handful of pretty close ones. I don't at all want to take them for granted, either, or make them feel unappreciated. Being that many of them are military or new transplants here, themselves, I think they understand where I'm coming from.

Long story short, let me know if you're ever in my area. (For all you midwesterners that haven't experienced desert life, my area is anywhere within a 2-3 hour radius :)). I would love to see you. At the end of the day, Adam often asks me what my favorite part of the day was. Today it was the Whipples. I'd love to be able to say the same about you. Thanks for the visit Jason, Beth, and Wren. You are more important to me than you'll ever know.

Friday, June 17, 2011

So, I don't usually blog about specific giveaways, but this one was just too cool to pass up! Mommy and Me Giveaways is doing a review and giveaway of customized postage stamps! You get to upload your own picture and they'll print off actual stamps that you can use. I used to collect stamps...and I love fun stamps. Can you imagine how fun it would be to be able to send someone a card with a stamp you actually created....or better yet...that had you on it?! Here's the link to the giveaway. The prize is worth $100 and is 100 of your own customized stamps. How cool?!

And along with that, they're also giving away a customized Yoga towel! You can choose from any of the tons of designs they already have or upload your own photo and have them put that on the towel for you. Adam thinks things like that are kind of corny and probably would never pay for to win either of these things would be kinda fun for me :). Here's the link for the towel giveaway:

Anyway, I'll do a more personal update here in a couple days, but for now, that's what made my day today. Have a great weekend! (And Happy Father's Day!)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Anniversaries, Giveaways, and Life

It's already June! That means that we've been married for over two years! This time two years ago, we were in Virginia Beach on our honeymoon. It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were back in Champaign, and yet, a TON of things have happened in our lives since then. In just a couple weeks, we'll have been in California for two years. I can't even begin to list all the adventures we've had here, or thank all the friends and family that have supported us along our way...both in CA and back home.

Adam and I celebrated our 2nd Anniversary in Las Vegas, this year. While this may seem somewhat out of character for the two of us, we both really enjoyed our time there. We actually decided to go because we found a great deal on The Lion King tickets and wanted to see it before it closed in Vegas in December. After comparing notes with my mom on the stage show versus the touring version, I am convinced without a doubt that it was worth going. If you have the opportunity to see it there before it closes, I would highly recommend it!

Other than the show, we ate at a few resorts, found a champagne buffet, and did some sight seeing of the free of our favorites being the Bellagio fountain! It was so cool to see the choreographed fountain shows. Adam got a kick out of how loud the water rockets were. There's a video of it on my face book, as well as some pictures of both that and other stops on our visit.

We also took our stab at a little gambling while we were there (not too much, though...we're cheap, remember? :) ). Adam won $50 in a slot machine pretty early on and gave me hope that I might have the same luck. As you could expect, I did not. We also had bad luck on video poker, table black jack, and our first go around at roulette. Adam's determined, though, to win more next time and has written a computer program to help him figure out the best way to lay his chips in roulette next time he plays. Crazy engineers.

I have found my stroke of luck elsewhere. My friend Kimberlie got me hooked on giveaway blogs. She has won so much cool free stuff just by entering giveaways that I decided to try my hand at it. Originally, I was just going to enter for dog and pet products. I was pretty convinced that, if I started entering all sorts of mommy and baby giveaways, people would surely start speculating if I was pregnant. Being that I'm not, I had said that I wasn't going to enter anything like that until I was both pregnant and ready for that to be public information. However, seeing how much Kimberlie was winning, I decided that it couldn't hurt to start entering for anything I think that I could someday use (or give as baby shower presents for the countless pregnant friends I seem to keep collecting). I mean, I wasn't going to win much (if anything), and some of them are really expensive products that I'd love to get for free! So...I started entering. I've had a few questioning minds and put them to rest, but I've also already won a few times (and it's only been a week!). I'm actually quite shocked that I've won so many times as I usually don't win things. With that kind of can you pass that up?! I've also gotten a few other people hooked. Anyway, I just wanted to put any inquiring minds to rest, and spread the word for anyone else who wants an easy way to win stuff they might not otherwise buy. There's a button at the bottom of my blog to my favorite giveaway blog (where I've won twice, already). You can also just google "giveaway blogs" and find all sorts of other blogs. I hope you have the same luck that I've seemed to have! (And don't worry...when the day does come that I am both pregnant and ready to announce it, there will be more of a formal announcement than implicitly mentioning it through mommy giveaways :)).

In other art classes have taken kind of a new path. While I don't want to go into much detail on here, my run at the Arts and Crafts center has come to an end (by no fault of my own.). Since I had to leave, the mothers of the children that were in my one and only class there have been very gracious and supportive. They have let me continue teaching in their homes to finish off the session we were on, and plan on continuing with that in the weeks to come. It also inspired me to start teaching lessons/classes in other peoples' homes. Since then, I've had four people independent of the classes I was teaching contact me to do lessons for their children. This week, I taught two classes and one private drawing lesson. Things seem to be going smoothly. While I'm not thrilled with how things fell apart on base, I'm excited to see where this leads me and had fun teaching this week. It's nice to feel like I've (at least for now) found a niche.

So, that's the past few weeks in a nutshell. I've definitely kept busy...not only with the aforementioned, but I've also started running more in preparation for a 1/2 marathon I'm planning on running in LA in October. My friend Dania and I are participating in the Rock'n'Roll 1/2, there. It should be a lot of fun. You get to run through downtown LA, and every mile, there's a live band. Bret Michaels is the finisher concert, so that could be entertaining. I'm excited to run my first 1/2 marathon...especially with a good friend. So, with that, entering giveaways, art, Zumba, and whatever else I can keep myself busy with, I've been passing the time (as evidenced by lack of journal entries.) Thinking about it all makes me sleepy... with that, I'm off to make some coffee. Peace out.