Thursday, September 18, 2014

Coming soon...

Because I refuse to acknowledge the little voice in my head that keeps saying, "Face it, you're not really much of a blogger anymore," I am signing up again for the Nester's Write 31 Days challenge.  Last year I tried it, and I failed about halfway through.  And since then I've written LESS THAN TEN posts.  Seriously, not even a post a month average?!

Clearly, I need a little kick in the pants.  And I think I know why I failed last year: I made it too complicated.  My topic was too specific, yet also too vague, if that even makes sense.  (It doesn't, which is why I had such a hard time sticking it out.) 

So this year I've picked a topic that I think I can run with, and I think you might even enjoy reading every single post!  I have a plan, but I also have some wiggle room.  I have well over 31 post ideas already written down, so it will just be a matter of hunkering down and cranking out some simple little thoughts each day.

AND I'm thinking about it TWO WHOLE WEEKS before this thing even starts!  Which means I can actually pre-write some stuff for the days that I know I'll be way too busy to blog.  WHO AM I?!

I mean...don't hold your breath or anything.  But I'm gonna try!

Stay tuned, friends.  It begins October 1st.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Years!!

(And now for the happier update!  Rewinding back a few weeks...)

Joe and I just celebrated five years of marriage.  FIVE YEARS!  I know it's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it's still pretty exciting.  We went to Hawaii for our friends' wedding in July, so we didn't have a lot of time or money to do something "big" for our actual anniversary weekend.  Instead, I surprised Joe with a little "staycation" weekend in Ojai, which is only about 45 minutes from home.  And while I was tempted to try to plan out our schedule with all kinds of events and activities, we instead just had a really relaxing, laid back time there.  We ate good food, walked around town, and enjoyed our in-room jaccuzzi. 

But my favorite thing we did for our anniversary this year was a surprise photo shoot!  I realized earlier this year that Joe and I have almost no pictures together (aside from the occasional smartphone selfie) since our wedding day.  Plus, we had such a blast doing our engagement photo shoot; so I decided to surprise Joe by taking him on a little picnic at a local park and then having my friend (and amazing photographer) Becky show up after we'd eaten!

This whole story is pretty great, actually...

The photo shoot was a few weeks before our actual anniversary.  I told Joe several weeks in advance that we had "something" going on that I couldn't tell him about, and since the date didn't mark any particular thing he was supposed to remember, he had no idea what it was about.  That day, I spent forevvvvvver curling my massive amount of hair and getting all made up, trying on every dress in my closet, and packing up our picnic dinner.  I asked Joe to wear a very specific outfit (once I had figured out mine, so we would be semi-coordinated), and I thought for sure he would figure out that we were taking pictures since I was so concerned with what he was wearing.  Usually if we're going out somewhere fancy, I'll just ask him to wear something nice; but this time I was super specific, and I even stood next to him in the dress I picked out, to see if his shirt looked good with the dress.  But he didn't pick up any of those clues, haha!

About an hour before we were going to head out for the picnic, Becky messaged me saying it looked like it might rain and suggested possibly rescheduling the photo shoot.  I looked outside and sure enough, the sky was completely gray and you could smell rain in the air!  But I wasn't about to have to re-curl my hair again another day!  (I'm not even kidding, you guys, that was pretty much the reason I refused to reschedule.)  So I said, "The show must go on!" and prayed that if it did rain, it would be just the lightest of drizzles.  As I was driving us to the park, it did drizzle a little bit.  I told Joe, "Okay, so...I'm gonna ask you to be a trooper tonight, whatever may happen."  And he said sure, he'd roll with the punches (still totally unaware of what we were doing except that he now knew there would be some sort of picnic since I had a basket full of food in the back seat).  I was thinking it might start pouring and we'd be eating soggy pb&j sandwiches (because I'm super gourmet when I do picnics!) and sitting on a muddy blanket.

So we arrived at the park and had to walk a little ways to the spot where I had arranged to meet Becky, which was in a little clearing with a couple of tire swings hanging from a big tree.  By the time we got to the spot, it had stopped drizzling.  And by the time we'd finished eating, the clouds were clearing away and the sun began to shine!  Woohoo!

After we ate, we just relaxed and played around on the swings while I waited for the arranged time that Becky would show up.  I kept kind of looking around because I wasn't sure where she'd come from, and then Joe jokingly said, "Are there paparazzi hiding in the bushes taking pictures of us?  If so, I hope they get a picture of THIS!"  (And then he grabbed my butt.)  So I figured that would be a good time to let him in on the surprise.  I told him that actually, although no one was creeping on us YET, Becky was on her way to take some five-year pictures for us. 

We had SO much fun with Becky during the shoot!  She took us to a bunch of different areas of the park, and just made us feel totally comfortable being our weird selves while also managing to catch some sweet, romantic moments, too.  Here's a link to her blog post with a bunch of the best shots.  And here are a few more of my favorites!

I was so thankful that we didn't reschedule and that the weather turned out to be absolutely perfect for both the picnic and the shoot.  I'm pretty sure we will have to make this an every-five-years tradition so we can look back on all the milestones of our marriage after 50+ years!  Something about taking pictures together makes me feel extra connected with Joe and grateful for how well we fit together.  Heck, if I could afford it, I'd do photo shoots with him EVERY year!

{All photos by Becky Davis Photography -- don't steal 'em!}

Dolores Mae Lund Palmquist

(Two posts coming your way today -- one happy, one sad, both updates on life as of late.  We'll start with the sad one...)

On August 17, I wrote:

My grandma went home to be with Jesus today. I'm thankful that I got to see her a couple of weeks ago, but also sad and sorry I didn't make more efforts to spend time with her while I could. She loved her big family fiercely, worshiped the Lord with a joyful heart, and has left a legacy of 5 children, 24 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren (and counting). I hope we will all strive to be like Dolores: faithful, loving, optimistic, creative, and full of inexplicable joy in the face of trials. Please send prayers to my mom and her siblings for peace and comfort.

This was the last time I saw my grandma;
I was showing her pictures from our trip to Hawaii.

On August 22, I attended my grandma's memorial service with most of my extended family and many of my grandma's close friends.  It was a beautiful service, and I learned that my grandma was a lot more amazing than I ever really recognized while she was alive.  I mean, she was a human being who messed up a lot just like I do all the time; I don't want to act like she was perfect even though it would be easier to only remember the good things and forget the hard stuff.  But I spent a lot of time during my childhood and teens thinking, "Ugh, Grandma is so crazy; why can't she back off with that darn camcorder?" (and other such cluelessly mean thoughts), and in retrospect I see that most of the "crazy" or annoying things she did, she did because she was so passionate about her family and about preserving our memories for future generations.  She loved every person in her great big family, even when we rolled our eyes or gave her sass or did something that strongly saddened her conservative heart.  She loved her husband even after he had an affair and ended their 56-year marriage.  My grandma was so passionate about her faith in Jesus, and she was always excited to see that faith being carried on in her family line.  Yet, she also tried her best to be forgiving and full of grace whenever she was wronged or offended.

The day after the memorial, my cousin Micah got married to a lovely young woman named Christy.  And the day before the memorial was my uncle Steve's birthday.  My uncle made a very good point about how appropriate the whole weekend was, because my grandma always loved to celebrate multiple occasions while the whole family was together, in order to make the most of our time.  I remember at least once having a cake that had both mine and my uncle Phil's names on it because we both have April birthdays.  So while some may think it strange to have a funeral and a wedding a day apart, it was perfectly fitting that we said goodbye to my grandma and welcomed a new member into the family at the same time. 

And even while I cringed a little as so many photos were being taken during the memorial service -- of my grandma's five children next to her coffin, next to her open grave, etc. -- I knew that it was being done because she would have wanted it.  She believed that even sad occasions were worth remembering and documenting.  (Side note: special thanks to my cousin-in-law Holly for taking on the challenge of photographing both the memorial and the wedding!  Holly was poised and professional, even when she had to step in front of the guys getting ready to lower the casket to get a final shot.)

I've been crying at unexpected moments since my grandma's passing.  Of course I bawled through most of her memorial service, and I cried a little harder than usual at the wedding because it was the first of all the grandkids' weddings that she wasn't at.  But I'm also finding myself crying whenever I think about how this is affecting my mom and her siblings, especially my aunt Carol who was taking care of my grandma the last couple of years.  I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent, even when you know it's coming because they're getting old or have been sick for awhile.  I can't imagine it, but I saw it in my mom's face.  I cried when I saw a picture of my nephew Levi heading for his first day of Kindergarten.  I cried in church during worship this past Sunday, I guess just because I was thinking about how much my grandma loved singing songs to Jesus.

And although I'm sad for all of these reasons and more, I am also so thankful for the comfort of knowing that my grandma is not in pain anymore, and she is rejoicing and singing praises right at the feet of Jesus.  There is no more fear, no more sorrow, no more suffering for my grandma.  Praise the Lord for that!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

From the archives: June 12, 2008

My five year wedding anniversary is coming up in a couple months, so I've been all sorts of nostalgic lately.  Plus, this year, the dates and days of the week line up exactly with the year we met;  for example, we met on Sunday, May 11th -- Mother's Day --and this year May 11th and Mother's Day also fell on a Sunday.  (You may or may not know that I have a thing with dates and symmetry, so this is all very exciting for me.) 

Our second date was Sunday, May 25th (which was also the day I met Joe's entire family), and this year we were in the exact same place on that exact same Sunday with the exact same people.  We became "official" (boyfriend/girlfriend) on Father's Day, June 15th.  And Joe told me he loved me the first time on Thursday, June 19th, the night before I would hop on a plane to spend three weeks in Romania.

A few people have asked me recently about the early days of my relationship with Joe.  When did I first see a possibility of a future with him?  How did it blossom so quickly?  And since I don't have the best memory, I couldn't really say exactly when or how things became so clear.

So today, I was thinking, "I wonder what kind of Gchat conversations I was having with Joe at this time six years ago."  (Because the first 2 1/2 months of our relationship were almost entirely comprised of chatting all day online and talking on the phone at night, since I lived in LA and he lived in Santa Barbara, which means I have a record of most of our conversations those first weeks of getting to know each other.) 

And lo and behold, I found a gem from exactly six years ago today!  It was a few days before we would become official, and a week before Joe would say those three special words for the first time. 

Hopefully these snippets from that conversation will give you just a glimpse into how and why we were ready to say "I love you" after just a few weeks of knowing each other.  (Although, for the record, I didn't say it back to Joe until AFTER I got back from Romania.  But that's a story for another blog post...)


(FYI, Sarah is my cousin who is essentially the reason we met, since she's known Joe since they were teenagers.)

me: sarah just asked me if i'm gonna miss you while i'm in romania
Joseph: you said, "no, not really", right?
me: lol
  i said i'll miss you a lot
Joseph: I'll miss you too
  but maybe you'll come back after having fallen in love with some scruffy romanian herding boy
me: haha
  nope, not a chance
  no one falls THAT fast for people, right? ;)
Joseph: of course not
  you need 2 months at least before you can even say you are interested in someone :)
me: haha
  well...anyway, rest assured. i like YOU. i'm not falling for any romanians while i'm gone.
Joseph: well, women do tend to go for the unemployed bouncer gets all the chicks... ;)
me: lol...wait, are you calling yourself a loser? or the romanian boys?
Joseph: no, I'm a winner
  but the losers get all the girls :)
me: lol
  you are one winner that this girl is definitely going for. boo on losers.
Joseph: awww

(later in convo)

Joseph: so...walk me through how you got interested in me :)
  I'm curious to hear your thought process
me: lol
  well, the day i met you i thought you were interesting, and i had a slight sense that you were intrigued by me when you asked if i was married and then backpedaled with, "ring by spring, right?" :-P
  but i was seriously telling myself the last like week or so before meeting you, "okay...romania is coming soon, life is totally crazy right now...not gonna meet any boys until at least after i get back."
Joseph: lol
  should we call it off until you get back from romania? that means you could totally go for the romanian herding boy if you wanted...
me: lol
  so when sarah said you wanted to get to know me, i was like, "gah!" but also like, "hmm..." because i always like to meet new people, make new friends, etc., and it IS very flattering to know that someone is interested in you.
  so i told her i'd be happy to talk to you but that i wouldn't promise ANYTHING happening and i wanted you to know that
Joseph: I see
me: but as soon as i started talking to you, i kept thinking "this guy seems really great. WHY, God, are you making this happen now?" lol...but i've been around enough to know that God really knows what he's doing and that if i kept liking the things i was learning about you, maybe he put you in my life at the perfect time.
  and honestly...ever since that first date, i can't think of a single thing that i DON'T like about you. (not that there was anything before that, but that was the first time i really let myself think, hey, something could happen here.)
Joseph: really? nothing?
me: nope. i like you for exactly the person you are, for everything i know about you, and with excitement to keep learning more. :)
Joseph: wow...I'm humbled...honestly...
me: ...why, cuz you have a list of things you don't like about me? :-P
Joseph: well...since you asked...
me: lol
  fire away
Joseph: I find it really annoying how you know the perfect thing to say...and you accept me, faults and all 
  you need to be more judgmental
me: lol
  umm...i'll work on it?
Joseph: please do....such perfection just makes me look really bad
me: oh no no, i am SO not perfect. don't get that thought in your head cuz you will be severely disappointed
Joseph: perfect for me silly
me: ah

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Arizona Trip!

(Lots of words in this post, but also lots of pictures!  Feel free to skim and scroll.  This is mostly for my own memory, but if you enjoy the word parts too, yay!)

Our trip to Arizona was fantastic.  It was so great to spend a weekend away with my immediate family -- which has grown from six to twelve -- and explore a place most of us had never been before (or we had gone so long ago that we barely remembered it).

My parents took Josh and me* to the Grand Canyon in 1991, six months before Lydia was born, and 2 1/2 years before Ben was born.  Back then, we were a family of four.  I was 6, and Josh was 7 1/2.  I remember pretty much nothing about that trip, except a few vague impressions that are probably more a result of seeing photos than they are actual memories.

*Grammar lesson!  Yes, this is grammatically correct (vs. "Josh and I").  Take out "Josh and" and read the sentence; it should make sense.  Case in point:  "My parents took I to the Grand Canyon..." = nope!  This has been your daily Nerd Moment with Tabitha.

So this time, I tried to soak it all in, and capture as much as possible with my little phone camera.  (I actually brought my "real" digital camera with every intention of taking most of my photos with it, but then I realized that my phone camera is actually BETTER than my digital camera.  Ha!)

Now I will attempt to capture the weekend in words to go along with all the photos.  (And let's not talk about how I never finished my Scotland recap series and probably have already forgotten most of the second -- unwritten -- half of that trip.  Gah.)

Joe and I decided to take a train because it was (going to be) less expensive than flying, and less stressful than driving.  Let me sum up our train experiences (there and back) by saying this:  if you are going to be on a train overnight, splurge for the full ROOM, not just the "roomette."  The roomette is more like a creepy, claustrophobic closet that is impossible to sleep in and even more impossible to cram two small overnight bags into.  We learned this lesson on the way out, and after sleeping for mayyyyyybe an hour total on the ten hour train ride, we opted to upgrade our return trip to the full room.

The room on the return train was still not huge by any means, but it was much more spacious and comfortable than that awful roomette.  We had our own toilet, sink and shower.  We had seats that folded out into a full-ish sized bed, so that we could snuggle up and sleep on the same surface rather than using the teeny weeny fold-down top bunk.  (The top bunk will totally come in handy someday if we take a small child or two on an overnight train!)  AND there was an extra little seat in case one person wanted to sit while the other slept.  So, our round trip train fare probably ended up being about the same as if we had flown, but it was a fun experience, and now we know what's up if we ever do it again.

Teeny weeny "roomette" - this is how close
we were when it was in seat position...

Here's Joe on his top bunk. I could reach
him from my position laying down on the
bottom bunk. TEEEEENY weeny.

And here's the ROOM!  Joe is modeling how
spacious the lower bed is, and you can see
the top bunk pulled down.

Here's the view from the lower bed when it's in
the upright seat position.  You can see the extra
seat on the right, and the white space on the left
is where our little toilet/shower was!

Friday we arrived, noodled around town for a bit (in a sleepless zombie state), and then went to the rental house my mom had arranged for the family.  This place was lovely and huge and perfect, and my parents graciously covered the full cost of us all staying there!  Mom did a great job scouting the place out, so I might just make her plan all of my trips for the rest of eternity.  (kidding, kinda)  She also set up a meal sharing plan so that each adult couple provided a meal for everyone.  I loved getting to cook for everyone, and I loved that I only had to do it once!  We made dinner Friday night, then enjoyed breakfasts and dinners made by other family members the rest of the weekend!  (We packed easy lunches for Saturday and Sunday since we'd be out and about.)  Once the rest of the family arrived, we settled in and just hung out together.

My baby siblings with their significant others!  
(I still can't quite accept that they are adults...)

The cutest little one-year-old, Ezra!

Saturday we visited a couple of places in/near Sedona, famous for its red rock formations and general amazingness.  First we went to Slide Rock State Park, where it turns out there's a big creek that people can swim in!  Sadly, none of us brought bathing suits, so we didn't end up going in the creek.  But we got to walk around the park, through various trails and paths, and then had our picnic lunch and played Frisbee and velcro catch for awhile.  (Has anyone else ever played velcro catch?  It's these velcro "mitts" that you use to catch a fuzzy ball!  My mom found a set in a store recently and brought it along out of nostalgia, and it was THE BEST.  I've never been much good at playing catch, but I can stick my hand up and aim in the general direction of the ball flying toward me, and most of the time it'll land on the big velcro mitt.)

This is my favorite.  Jumping pictures with Zion (Ben's girlfriend)
and Braulio (Lydia's boyfriend), with a Levi cameo!

Panorama of the cool creek at Slide Rock, where lots of people were swimming and playing!

I love adventuring with this guy!

Ben and Levi playing velcro catch.

Serena and Ezra hanging out in the shade.

Playing velcro catch with my pops!

After Slide Rock, we headed further into Sedona to look for a good place to do a light hike.  Somehow we ended up in a residential neighborhood (I think my dad said something like, "I saw a cool looking mountain/rock and drove toward it until I couldn't get any closer."), and then Josh or someone figured out that there was a public trailhead nearby.  We ventured onto Sugarloaf Trail, which crossed paths with several other trails, and just followed the large rock markers set up to help people from getting lost.

After awhile, everyone except Ben, Zion, Joe and me decided to head back (some to prep dinner, some to not die of exhaustion/bad knees/etc).  The four of us attempted to find a spot that a nearby hiker said would provide a 360 degree view of Sedona.  We ended up making it to a spot with about a 270 degree view, realizing the summit was a bit farther than we had anticipated.  Zion was coughing up her lungs (she was getting over a cold), Joe was SUPER over it, and the water in my bottle was jacuzzi temperature (blech).  I forgot to track the hike from the beginning, but I turned on RunKeeper on the way back down, and I think the whole hike was about a mile round trip.  (IT FELT LIKE AT LEAST THREE TO ME.)  I'm sure it had something to do with a) being at a WAY higher elevation than I'm used to, thus having more difficulty breathing, and also b) the HEAT.  It was somewhere around 90 degrees, which I absolutely love when I'm standing still with a slight breeze at my back...but it's a whole different story to hike in that kind of heat when I'm used to Santa Barbara's 60-70 degree hiking temperatures.  Anyway, I was extremely proud/impressed/grateful/happy that Joe was such a trooper since he's a self professed Hike Hater.  I know he probably would've picked something else for us to do than hike, but he was a champ and I loved getting to do one of my favorite things with him in a new place.

Checking out the trail maps so we wouldn't get lost!


The whole group on our little hike!

I can't even.  How did my silly big brother
make such beautiful babies?!

Love, love, love hiking in new places!

I took this panorama to show that this hike is literally right above a neighborhood.  How cool to live so close to a trail!

Let me take a selfie!

Once we got home, we relaxed, had a delicious dinner made by Serena and Josh, and mostly vegged out.  (Veg'd? Veged? Whatever.)  I got to play with Levi and see more of his fantastic imagination at work.  We played Vehicles, Microphone Foot, and What's the Password (wherein I trap him in a big bear hug and won't let go until he says the password, which is usually "Aunt Tab is awesome" or some variation, but he always tries to get away with "Aunt Tab is crazy!" or "Aunt Tab is NOT awesome!" before he gives in and says it right)I just love that kid!  Once the kids were in bed, eight of the ten grown-ups played cards for a bit.  Serena taught us "Jerk" -- and I won the first round! 

Sunday we visited a local church that Serena found through a friend (I think?), and that was a lot of fun!  The church is comprised of 65% college students, so obviously a very young crowd on the whole.  We felt very welcomed, and I think my parents liked it even though they were some of the oldest in the room, haha.

Then we grabbed lunch at Cracker Barrel, because that's what you do when you are in a place that has a Cracker Barrel, right?  My mom and I played a game of giant checkers in the store while we waited for our table, and I probably would have won if we had played to the end.  May not sound too exciting to you, but I have played checkers against small children and almost never managed to win.

Anyway, after a delightful lunch, we set out for the Grand Canyon!  We parked at the Visitor's Center and took one of the shuttle lines to a couple different viewing spots.  Both spots we checked out were not fenced off (like the place in the photos from my childhood trip was), so it was kinda scary/exciting to be able to walk right to the edge and look out over the canyon.  We definitely kept a good grip on the kiddos!  It was such an awe-inspiring thing to behold, and I couldn't stop taking photos and audibly "wow"ing every few seconds. 

The thing about the Grand Canyon is, it's so enormous and deep and wide that it's kind of hard to really focus on any one part of it without getting dizzy or going cross-eyed.  (At least, that's how I felt about it.)  I felt so tiny, and God felt so very big in that place.  This is why I love being outdoors, you guys.  Witnessing so many different aspects of creation, realizing every bit of it was handcrafted by a Creator, is just...well, there are no words to adequately describe it.

The original four who went to the GC 23 years ago!

Petrie Clan without all the significant others and kiddos.
(Someone got a picture of all 12 of us at the GC, but not on my phone!)

He was happy, I promise.  :-)


The ladies!

Ben, Josh and Levi.

The boys!

Sadly, Joe and I had to leave the Grand Canyon ahead of the others, since we had a homebound train to catch.  Everyone else stayed behind to watch the sunset (can't WAIT to see those photos!), and we made the drive back to our Flagstaff home to load up our stuff.  Wouldn't you know it, five minutes before we arrived, we got an email from Amtrak saying our train was delayed by over two hours.  If we'd known before we left the canyon, we could have totally stayed with everyone!  So that was kind of stupid.  But we just took the opportunity to relax for awhile in the house, then set out to return the rental car and get to the train station.  (We saw the rest of the family pulling up the street as we were leaving the house, further exacerbating the frustration of knowing we could have been with them!  Such is life.)

The return train, as I mentioned earlier, was much more comfortable.  We managed to sleep pretty well, and even though the long train from Flagstaff to Los Angeles was SO delayed, we still somehow managed to make our connecting train from LA to Goleta!  We literally walked off one train and onto another, though, because the Goleta-bound train was about to depart in two minutes!  Once we got home it was Monday afternoon, and though I had thought of going in to work for the second half of the day, I made the obvious best choice and went home to do a whole lot of NOTHING (except a 30 Day Shred because, oh yeah, I'm doing that -- did I mention I also brought along my DVD, mat and 14 pounds' worth of dumbbells so I could fit in a couple more Shred workouts while we were in Arizona?  Yep).

 So there's the recap for our Arizona trip!

Phew!  That felt good.  Can someone remind me of this next time I do/see/experience something great and DON'T immediately write about it before it fades from my memory forever?