burst.

The second law of thermodynamics states that there is a universal tendency for all things to move from order to disorder. I don’t know a lick about science, but I’m pretty sure I understand the bare minimum of this concept.

It’s basically what happened to our apartment last Friday.

Last week, I posted about the small improvements we’ve been making in our apartment. Pictures went up, decorative geese were purchased, and our apartment was finally starting to feel properly furnished. Apparently, it did not want to comply with these changes, and it retaliated with a fury.

That fury: a pipe burst.

We woke up Friday morning to a welcomed warmer day. The temperatures have been well below freezing and even in the single digits and teens lately. What we didn’t realize is that when it warms up, frozen pipes thaw, and all hell breaks loose. We thought we did everything right–let the faucets drip, filled the bathroom with space heaters. We basically created a sauna. Apparently, it was insufficient. Señor and I were both running late (this is nothing new), which ended up being our saving grace. While making his coffee and trying to rush out the door, señor was interrupted by a loud POP coming from our guest bathroom. And then…waterfalls.

Waterfalls on the floor. Waterfalls behind the drywall. Waterfalls into the spare room. Waterfallz for dayz.

Being the resourceful man that he is, señor immediately ran away.

No, really. He ran out of the apartment and gave me instructions to call the emergency maintenance line. Fumbling and yelling and on the verge of tears, I searched online to find it. It’s in moments like these that you wish you would have programmed the emergency numbers into your phone months earlier when you’re advised because they know what panic does to your fine motor skills and brain functioning. I was basically paralyzed.

Back to señor running away. He wasn’t actually fleeing the situation entirely. He ran outside to find someone who could help. A maintenance man arrived within a couple of minutes (faster than the emergency line could respond…), and basically swooped in Superman style. Luckily for me, señor warned me to put on pants a mere 10 seconds before the maintenance man walked through the door.

Oh, did I mention I wasn’t wearing pants this whole time? Because I wasn’t wearing pants.

Superman (maintenance man) rushed through the door, turned off the water, and radioed for back up. There was more water on the floor than our towels could dry up and it continued to leak out of the walls and pipes.

The exterior damage was minimal:

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But the interior damage (IN OUR HEARTS) has been detrimental. After hours of cleaning and organizing and pushing my limits of domestic abilities, our apartment was left in shambles from a 5-minute pipe burst. Maintenance has been in and out of apartment for the past 5 days, dehumidifiers have been blasting, carpet has been ripped up, drywall has been damaged, and half of our apartment has yet to return back to its normal state.

On the plus side, it’s only half of our apartment. Everything else is running fine. Plus, the maintenance people have been so kind. They’ve also thanked us for being nice. I can only imagine how many expletives and complaints they’re hearing from the other residents. Kindness matters, friends.

So far, there are two lessons I’ve learned from this experience:
1. Renters insurance is a must.
2. Put on pants as soon as you wake up. You just don’t know.

domestically challenged.

Until this weekend, one might walk into our apartment and have the following thoughts:

“Sweet baby Moses. How do they live in this?”
“I know Laura said she’s not a decorator, but not even Martha Stewart could help this woman.”
“So, you’re saying you’ve never been on Hoarders?”

It was not a pretty sight for months. And I mean MONTHS. Yes, we cleaned occasionally. Yes, we did our dishes. Sometimes we put up a wall hanging. Aaaaaand 99% of our apartment looked like we just moved in. Embarrassing.

I blame it on being domestically challenged.

I could have learned it. It’s in my genes. My mother has a gift for spatial authority. Every home I lived in felt like putting on your favorite sweater. Comfortable, cute, and worn down in just the right places. Unfortunately, I did not inherit the ability to walk into a home and Pinterest it to death. If I put a picture in a frame and set it on a dresser, I expected a neighborhood parade.

But all that changed this weekend.

Señor and I were struck with a bout of inspiration. It was like all the years of living together in our un-homey apartments and living spaces was pent up and released in an explosion of trips to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, World Market (THE BEST), and Target. We were machines this weekend. We trekked to consignment shops, furniture stores, and anywhere in the Denver metro area that might have a small piece to enhance our home.

We still have more to add (like wall decor…which is terrifying), but I’d say we were pretty successful.

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No, your eyes did not deceive you. I actually decorated. And I actually allowed Señor to buy a decorative goose (wife points).

Name suggestions welcome.

viva las vegas.

I have a total soft spot for Las Vegas.

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I know the stereotypes. Trust me, 99% of them are on-the-nose accurate. Watch Vegas Vacation and your eyes will be opened to the wonder that is Sin City. I swear it’s all accurate…if Vegas were stuck in 1997. My first time in the city left me completely entranced. Vegas is an anomaly. In the middle desert, it’s hard to believe anything exists outside of the flashy metropolis. However, if you extend your visit beyond the borders of the strip, you find treasures.

Like rugby. Brutal, bone-crushing rugby.

Since 2011, my family has ventured to Vegas for the USA Rugby Sevens Tournament. It’s basically three days of savage battles between the most elite countries in the world. Except the soldiers are athletes who wear short shorts and maintain Shrek-like physiques. These men could lift a bus with one arm while cradling a small child in the other–the perfect balance of brute strength and delicate form. Rugby is truly a gentleman’s sport. It’s also great for those whose love language is physical touch. I mean, look at those guys. SO MUCH AFFECTION.

baby, please don't gooooooooo.

Last weekend, señor and I made our fourth trip to the tournament. We made some goals in the past, but we’ve realized that our days primarily consist of rugby, shopping, and eating delicious food. It’s, like, a really hard weekend. Do you think it’s easy sitting through hours of rugby in a comfy box seat overlooking the stadium and stuffing your face with wings every chance you get?!

Per usual, the weekend certainly didn’t lack in entertainment. The highlight reel included…

// Learning Elvis drives a mini-van. Obviously, a disappointment.
// Watching a USA fan rush the field, retreat back to safety, evade security for 30 minutes, and get the entire crowd to cheer “LET HIM STAY!” before being thrown out of the stadium. Respect, drunken man. Respect.
// Celebrating South Africa kicking some New Zealand booty in the finals.
// In addition, celebrating the minimal amount of vuvuzelas this year. My ear drums are still recovering from years past…
// Confirming my claim that karaoke is not karaoke until someone sings Sweet Caroline. Bah, bah–STOP.
// Photo booths with dads. Specifically, mine.
// Sporting ridiculously patriotic rugby jerseys. Next year, I vote matching track jackets. ‘MURICA.

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The only true disappointment of the trip was learning that Britney Spears wasn’t performing that weekend. You think I’m playing, but you cannot deny how epic that concert would be. My next best option: Donny and Marie. Oh, sweet 1970’s throwbacks, NO.

Vegas is easily the most ridiculous, non-stop city I’ve ever visited. What it lacks in sustainability (on so many levels…), it makes up for in intrigue. Until next year, you unpredictable desert city!

breck my heart.

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To live in Colorado and not be a skier is to live a life unfulfilled. Or, so I’ve been told.

There are people who believe it is straight up blasphemous. “Do you ski?! Snowboard? Anything? No? Oh…hmm…” Nose crinkles, lips purse, and the glare you receive could pierce your soul to its clearly non-adventuresome core.

I get it. Skiing is a rush. You put pieces of wood on your feet and glide down a 12,000-foot mountain at speeds rivaling the Jamaican bobsled team. Look, I saw Cool Runnings. I know speed. I also know that the ability to fearlessly ski down a slope is a concept that I cannot fully understand. My fear of freak accidents causes me enough anxiety, thankyouverymuch. Put me on top of a mountain and ask me to go headlong toward the bottom? That’s cute.

My dramatics are getting the best of me. If I’m honest, I would love to go skiing while I live in Colorado. I just need some more experience and a heckuva lot more courage. This girl’s feet have not touched skis since she was a painfully awkward (and TINY) 13-year-old. Decked out in a silver metallic jacket, I looked pretty boss on my first skiing experience. If I got lost, my family could just describe me as the walking reflector.

I did not know the first thing about skiing then and still have a lot to learn. To help with this endeavor, we decided we should first get a glimpse of ski culture.

This Saturday, señor and I trekked to Breckenridge with our sweet friends. It was beyond worth the hour and a half drive. While most normal visitors to Breck are skiers, we opted for activities a little more low-key. Between the four of us, playing tourist and perusing the shops was the best we could do. There’s only so much you can expect from a pregnant lady (not me), two men with bad knees, and a woman who’s severely accident prone (that’s me). Nevertheless, we had a marvelous time in Breck. Delicious food, refreshing coffee, adorable shops, addicting games, the best of company–it was a total success.

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I do indeed love Breckenridge now. Just not for the same reasons as the jokester below. Oh, Colorado.

Until next time, fancy ski town!

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pause.

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Remember when Christmas break made you straight giddy in college? 2-3 weeks of no homework, responsibilities, or proper hygiene. All adult living expectations were thrown out the window because you were on break. Family didn’t judge you. Family lovingly accepted your unbathed appearance and said, “This is a safe place.” You want to stay up late watching Netflix until 2am? Go for it. You earned it, hard-working student! Your months of relentless homework culminated to those few weeks of pure bliss.

I am proud to report that our Christmas break looked a lot like this. Sometimes, it’s ok to live like you’re in college again.

Señor and I were total jet-setters. Not that traveling is unusual for us, but spending three weeks away from home as a married couple was certainly new. Luckily, my family is 100% amazing and allowed us to rest most of the time. Oh, how needed that was! From the beauty of North Carolina to the frigid coast of New Hampshire, there was never a dull moment while visiting the fam.

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It was so refreshing for us to pause and take in our first semester of living in Colorado. We celebrated the victories (like our rockin’ GPA’s!). We laughed at our mistakes. We evaluated poor time management skills and made plans to fix them. We spent hours with family sharing all the blessings and challenges of adjusting to a new way of life with one another.

Our break was altogether marvelous. And the best part–it isn’t over!

Don’t be too jealous, but we still have another week and a half until classes start. I can see your face turning green, and it’s embarrassing for you. Turn that frown upside down and just come visit us in Colorado, mmk?

God bless not taking classes during J-term! We love having the chance to play, work without homework distraction, spend guiltless time with friends, and get caught up with our apartment to-do list. Just like in college, I wish J-term could last forever.

Starting the new year with such an extended time of relaxation feels like we’re being spoiled and not fully acting like adults. I feel that way for about 2.8 seconds and then realize that this is a season I will never have again. It should be embraced to the fullest.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have approximately 10 days to accomplish an inane amount of items on my to-do list. Cheerio.

three years.

Three years ago today, I made an epic commitment to my favorite man.

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With friends and family by our side and Beyoncé lyrics in our vows (no lie), we promised our lives to one another. We had only 11 months and 16 days of dating under our belts, and it’s likely that people thought we were slightly crazy. Yeah, we were.

And I wouldn’t change a single ridiculous moment of our imperfect love, señor. You are my forever best friend.

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You believed in us even when I was scared. You pursued me with fervor and never let fear drive our decisions. You were a risk-taker. You used to tell me that big risks yield big rewards. You may have sounded like a businessman to some, but to me, you sounded like my perfect fit. I always prayed for a man who ran toward commitment and not away from it. You are that man, and I could not be more grateful. You are still my dream man.

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You often tell me that marriage is about holiness, not happiness. It’s never said in a way that triggers guilt or implies that marriage should be a drag; rather, it’s said in humble admission of our naturally flawed nature and desire to be like Jesus. You practice forgiveness in the most inspiring manner–a characteristic of pursuing holiness. Without realizing it, you embody Christ in your actions.

Your consistency in our marriage provides me with such security and safety. I know you aren’t going anywhere. Besides–who would love you with your beard as much as I do? But seriously, I trust you. Not only am I confident in your commitment, but I trust and respect you as a man. We always viewed marriage as a union of equal partners with equal voices. I feel so undeserving of the way you love me.

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There are serious things about you that I love–far too many list here. But if I could pick one part of you for which my appreciation has grown the most, it would certainly be your humor. You are completely hilarious, señor. Although my response to you generally involves a befuddled look, a snicker, and a head shake, I love your silliness. Thank you for helping me let loose when I get anxious or too serious. You make me smile, giggle, and laugh out loud at your antics. Especially your outlandish freestyle rap.

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And here’s to those of you reading this super mushy letter to your and my favorite 6’4″ bundle of hilarity and genius. Your prayers, love, intentionality, support, laughter, and presence are indispensable to our marriage. We live our lives in community on purpose. We value your input. We respect your opinions. Thank you for loving us well enough to speak truth when we need it–both individually and as a couple. Our marriage could not survive without you.

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Happy 3-year anniversary, Grant Thomas. I love you more now than when I walked down the aisle to you on that chilly December day. And I promise to love you (and your beard) until we’re old and fat.

all photos are © of the über talented Chris McGuire Photography.

shell yeah.

Extreme couponers are nuts.

I do not need nor do I have the space to hold 1,200 rolls of toilet paper and half a million jars of peanut butter. Saving money–yes. I’m all for it. But not for the sake of sacrificing my living space. I like to use my home for other activities. Like, hosting people without making them feel like they have to sit on a throne of paper towels.

However, I credit the extremers with a great strategic move: stroking companies’ egos.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of extreme couponers, one of their strategies of saving money is to write a letter to a particular company raving about their product. The company’s ego is inflated, and they see it as an opportunity to keep a good customer. “Thanks, loyal customer. Here’s some free stuff.”

GENIUS.

Implementing a version of this strategy, I recently had my own extreme coupon moment. Well, it was more of a post-purchase thought.

Over Thanksgiving break, my family set out to make tacos. Not fancy, extravagant, pinterest-esque tacos. Just tacos, plain and simple. We thought purchasing some stand-n-stuff shells would be a nice break from our traditional flour tortillas. I know…wild, right?

So, imagine our absolute HORROR when this is what we saw when we opened the box:

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I mean, the audacity of Old El Paso. Every single shell was broken. Stand-n-Stuff? More like Break-n-Stuff (minus 30 points for that horrific joke). I was livid. And by livid, I mean I was mildly irritated that I had to make a taco salad instead of a normal taco salad. Gracious, life can inconvenience a lady.

As soon as my mother-in-law and I surveyed the carnage, I had a stroke of extreme-couponer-inspired genius. I was going to write to Old El Paso. I went online to fill out a pre-made form (this wasn’t their first rodeo), and proceeded to write my overly dramatic reaction to the shattered shells. I can imagine the customer satisfaction department had to have thought, “This pathetic woman needs help.”

Yes, I do, Old El Paso. Because your shattered shells shattered my heart. But who got the last laugh?! THIS GIRL.

Saturday’s mail brought nothing but smiles and sweet victory. Not only did they apologize, but they also decided that they might as well appease the whiny girl with some free merch.

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While I was hoping it was free taco shells for life, four coupons for free shells and discounted shells will absolutely do. I love this country. Shell yeah.

final-ly.

This week marks the end of our first semester in graduate school. I’m going to allow that to sink in for a moment.

Studying

I’m sorry. Where did the last 5 months go? Oh, right. The library.

Señor and I have sifted through pages upon pages of commentaries. Our hot Friday night dates generally consist of sitting across from each other in the student center. Want some cool suggestions of what to do in Denver?! Ask someone else. Because we are slaves to learning. We drink from the sweet nectar of books, lectures, and Biblical Analysis Papers. We are grad students. Hear us roar.

Let’s get real. This semester has totally kicked our little tooshies. In the midst of insanity, I am grateful to have learned a few lessons that should be helpful in the coming semesters:

  1. It takes approximately 3 cups of coffee consumed in a matter of 2 hours for caffeine to have an impact on me anymore. My tolerance is much too high.
  2. Sleep. I need more.
  3. When writing a paper that exceeds 1 page, it is best to start prior to the day before it’s due. In other words, start EVERY paper prior to the day before it’s due.
  4. Starbucks is a black hole of inefficiency. It is impossible to accomplish anything well or with focus. Especially when the choice of music is typically jazz that is played at a decibel sure to rattle the tables.
  5. Sabbath.

How’s that last one for a doozy? I cannot remember the last time in my life when I truly honored the Sabbath. Stopping for a whole day makes me anxious and guilty. I think, “I don’t have time to rest. I have things to do.” So, getting on Facebook for 30 minutes every day is top priority now? Solid life choice.

The truth of it: I cannot sustain my current lifestyle. It involves too much strain, not enough rest, and an incessant amount of homework that’s not going away. In fact, it is only going to increase. Excuse me while I go throw up, have a heart attack, and pass out from a nervous breakdown. *gulp*

I’m terrible at New Year’s resolutions…as is 99% of the population. Let’s be real. So, this is not a resolution. Rather, this is a commitment to have a day of total and complete rest. I need to be willing to surrender control and recognize my own limitations. If I don’t practice self-care now, how can I expect to do so when I’m in the thick of my profession?

Plus, I really want an excuse to sit on the couch, eat carby food, and watch TV without guilt for a day.

Jokes. I know Sabbath is about more than being lazy. There’s also sleep. Which is spiritual. Look. It. Up.

reality.

“There is no guarantee that life is fair. The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change. Complaining may feel good for a short time but it is a completely ineffective behavior. If complaining were effective, there would be a lot more happy people in the world.” – William Glasser, Reality Theorist

Garden

There’s a theory of counseling called Reality Therapy.

I’m not a fan.

One of the core premises of Reality Therapy rests on the idea that we completely choose our own behavior and emotions. There is no mental illness; there is no psychopathology. If you are depressed, you’re actually “depressing” yourself. If you’re anxious, you’re actually “anxietizing” yourself. Thanks, Will. You just made me feel like a big, fat failure. I’m going to go “comfortize” myself with chocolate now.

Fundamentally, I disagree with Mr. Glasser. I believe there are certain mental illnesses and psychopathologies one cannot control. It’s biological, hereditary, or we are so susceptible to it that we can not help but fall prey to its power when triggered by an emotional disturbance. Give us a break, Will. My conclusion on Reality Therapy: I’ll only use it on clients I don’t like.

Jooooooookes.

The only redeeming quality of Reality Therapy is its focus on choice, personal responsibility, and freedom. The reality is that, in most cases, we can choose how we respond to situations.

I’m challenged by this notion. I like to blame my emotional reactions on external forces. I’m all like, “Gosh, if this person would just do what I want them to, I’d be so much HAPPIER” or, “This situation sucks. I just want life to be EASIER.” Ok, 12-year-old. Chill out and eat a bon-bon.

Selfishness is innate, is it not? Gracious, am I ever quick to think of myself before others. Before señor, before my family, before the Lord, before the homeless man in the coffee shop, before the hurting friend.  Everyone is in second place. Did you not get the memo?

SNAP BACK TO REALITY (oh, there goes gravity…sing with me…)

“The only guarantee is that you are the only person whom you know you can change.” Ok, Will. I get it. You’re right. Life is about more than me. Complaining won’t help anything. Expecting others to change is generally an indication that I’m unwilling to change something in myself.

Like, oh, I don’t know…my attitude?

I’m ready for a change, friends. I’m ready to stop living with the expectation that others determine my attitude, emotions, and behavior. I am responsible for me. I am called to live accountable to my actions in accordance with God’s commands. I expect this process to be slow, like most long-lasting change does. I expect it will wreck me for awhile, humble me, and silence my complaining.

I am only capable of changing myself. And oh, how irrefutably God is reminding me of that today.

grown-up lincoln logs.

Señor is a man of many talents. He’s also hot. Note picture below.

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If you’ve ever met him, you know he knows a lot about a lot. Ever wonder how many licks it really takes to get to the bottom of a tootsie pop? Curious how they discovered jell-o? Are you dying to know the history of Djibouti? Not my booty, but Djibouti. Perhaps you’ve been wondering the secret behind why  why coconut oil is a miracle worker. For everything.

HE PROBABLY KNOWS. The man already has an MBA and loved learning so much, he’s back for another master’s degree. Genius. Absolute genius.

He’s also ridiculously handy. He can fix anything lickety-schplit. Seeing as I’m the kind of person who would call a mechanic, maintenance man, plumber, and maybe even the fire department if my microwave stopped working, he is a breath of fresh air. I’m grateful for such a competent man in my life.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, señor and his dad set out to create a beautiful and desperately needed piece: a maple wood bookcase. Seeing as we are both in seminary, we have accumulated an inordinate amount of books already this semester. And yes, we’ve totally skimmed read every page of them.

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The process was arduous and rewarding for señor and his dad. Luckily, I had his mom to keep me company during the week. There was lots of sawing, cutting, gluing, and other processes that probably would have resulted in the loss of a limb if I was involved. Thank goodness for a father-in-law who knows his stuff. I think we tried to help once. By “help,” I mean we brought out coffee and breakfast burritos. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!

I’m not sure what excites me more: having a place to store all our books, or actually having a decorative item in our home. I wish I could channel my inner Martha Stewart (minus committing crimes) and be a decorator. Help.

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I am so proud of their work, and señor will probably make a few more after the holidays. I can’t wait to sand and paint those bad boys. Color/finishing suggestions, oh masterful DIY-ones?