Polka Dots and Pineapple: Life of Family P

Blessed to be a blessing...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Home is where the heart is.....

After our move to Charleston just 25 months ago, I can say that Josh and I know and believe that home truly is where the heart is.  In that short two-year span we left our "first house" in Kentucky for the coastal low country of South Carolina...and we've made our "home" in quite a few places.  From the original one-month stay at the Embassy Suites, to our precious two-bedroom island condo, and several other extended hotel stays in Seattle, we can now call home anywhere.  So this past Spring when our friends approached us with an opportunity to rent their gorgeous home while they RV the country for a year, we didn't hesitate to accept.  So the lovely home above became ours at the end of June and this is where we will be for a year.  It's actually just a few blocks away from the condo we rented.

The home is still furnished by the owners, which is great with us because she has a lovely decorating style.  Most of our belongings are stored in the garage.

We have no idea where we will go next summer when their travels are over.  It could be down the street, across town, across the country or beyond.  Either way, we are trusting God's direction and keeping an open mind to the ways He leads us.  In the meantime, we will continue enjoying life on the island and thanking God for the beauty that surrounds.

I took this photo to practice with my new external camera flash.  Too bad I didn't own this flash during the night sighting of wild elk at the Grand Canyon a couple months ago!  
A new house means a new address!  Be sure to message me for an update if I'm on your Christmas card list (which is my favorite holiday tradition - so much fun to check the mail and display cards all season)!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Is it just me?

 - Is it just me or has this year flown by extremely fast?  In my mind, it's still July.  Yet somehow the calendar says September. It's true what our parents and grandparents have said - each year goes by faster than the one before.

- Is it just me or do you believe that all women's shoes (excluding athletic shoes) should come with a box of bandaids and tube of Neosporin?

- Is it just me or do you ever find that the task/chore you've been dreading actually doesn't take long to complete once you finally get started?

- Is it just me or do you start checking out mentally when you know you have a vacation coming up?  My dear husband planned a trip for us coming up later this month over my birthday and we are both super excited!

For some odd and unrelated reason this post makes me think of the 90's Nickelodeon show "All That" which featured Amanda Bynes playing the skit "Ask Ashley".....Is it just me or did you also love that show?!  (and if you did, I know you can still hear the theme song playing in your head, which brings up the question - Is it just me or can you recall things from your childhood easier than what's current? I know I can!)  :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

a GRAND adventure

Two years ago today, Josh and I arrived in Charleston to call it our home after our whirlwind move from Kentucky.  We weren't sure where we would be living, so we were thankful to spend our first 30 days living in a hotel.  Josh started his job the next morning.  This info has nothing to do with the blog post other than I wanted to document and reminisce on the time because it truly was the start to the great adventure we are now living. :)

Last month I attended a work conference in Las Vegas, NV.  The conference was great - very informative and challenged me to think in new ways for my job.  I am so glad that I attended! However, I do not love the city of Las Vegas.  I had been three times prior and while glad I had seen and experienced that city to check it off the list, it's just not a destination I cared to revisit.  My precious husband had never been to LV before, so we knew this was the time.  But let's be honest, a week in LV is not an ideal vacation destination, so we decided to step it up a notch by flying out a couple days early and renting a car to road-trip it to the Grand Canyon.  This proved to be the best decision and highlight of our trip!  [Sidenote: We may have never before looked forward to a trip more than this one!  We were both giddy with excitement in the days and weeks leading up to our departure.  This is mainly due to the insanely crazy work schedule my dear husband is working.  I might share more on that later.]

We left Charleston early on the morning of Saturday, July 21.  Gaining three hours from time zone changes, we arrived in LV in time for lunch.  After many giggles, we loaded our luggage in a four-cyclinder convertible sports car (good thing it was just the two of us because the suitcases filled the car - ha!) and set the GPS to a local In-n-Out Burger where my husband checked an item off his bucket list since he'd always wanted to dine at this west coast fast food burger joint.

I made him pose for these pictures to capture the moment.  He does not always appreciate my camera in his face. :)

 (In his defense, this tray is holding our entire order - not just his meal!)

After lunch we hit the pavement for the start of our road trip to the Grand Canyon, which was over four hours away.  The scenic views were nice!

I had been to the Grand Canyon once with my family in high school.  I recall it being really awesome, but this trip I appreciated God's creation even more than I remembered!  It was absolutely breathtaking and we had the greatest time!
After our fun road trip, we finally arrived at the Grand Canyon!  We made reservations at a lodge inside the national park so that we would be right in the midst of it all.  It was worth every penny!  Once we arrived and  checked in, we hit the trails to see the sights of the canyon and sunset.  


We walked the trails for quite a while and then enjoyed a southwestern dinner at a restaurant in the park.  Later that evening when we were going to head back to our cabin, Josh noticed an elk in the grass not far from us.  We watched for a long time.  I attempted many photos but they didn't turn out well in the dark. [I've ordered a flash attachment for better range.]


 After only a few hours of sleep, our alarms woke us up so that we really hit the trails early and well before sunrise.  On our way to the canyon, we enjoyed watching more elk free-roaming through the park.

 We were pretty big fans of the wild elk! :)

We hiked the trails for miles and enjoyed the lovely sunrise!

Josh and I had the greatest time together!  Although we were only there for a very short time (15 hours total including sleeping, if I recall), we had the best time and now we're kind of addicted to National Parks and want to visit more! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Alpha Gam Always

Today is Day 1 of Sorority Recruitment at the University of Kentucky.  I remember that jam-packed, overwhelming day like it was yesterday.  But it's been slightly longer than just a few days or few years since I experienced that pivotal moment.  In fact, it's been a decade.  Ten years, folks.  Ten. Whole. Years. since I woke up for my first morning living on Big Blue Nation's campus. 

I simply can't believe how fast the time has flown.  The memories made.  The season of life has come and gone, yet leaves many fond memories, cherished forever friendships, life lessons learned, and t-shirts.....yes, many many t-shirts.  Many of which I have hung on to because I simply can't let them go - after all, they were the staple of my college wardrobe.

Not only does the realization of ten years passing since this significant event in my life bring obvious reason for reflecting and reminiscing, I have smiled even more so knowing that a very special person is going through the same thing today.  You see, she was only 8 years old when I had this experience in the early 2000's.  And now the time has come for my beautiful, smart and talented first-cousin Allie!

Yes, I know, she's gorgeous!  And she's super sweet too!  There's no doubt in my mind how I would love for her to become my "sister" as well.  However, I'm not being forceful on that - after all, I want her to choose the best sorority for her (although I won't say I'm not wishfully hoping for a certain set of letters!).

I have probably been bugging the heck out of her with my frequent text messages checking in on the day....and I have also stalked her Facebook profile just in case I could catch a glimpse at any part of her experience - and she and her roomie are adorable in their dorm room (which happens to be at the same university, in the same dormitory, and on the same floor that I lived in)!  While Allie made these decisions for herself and some were by "chance," I simply can't help but thank God for this sweet divine moment that I'm feeling as I know just what Allie is feeling, thinking, and seeing at this very moment. :)

Seriously, I'm just beside myself with excitement for her!  Streams of tears (happy sentimental tears, that is) roll down my cheeks as I type this post.....so proud of Allie and her many accomplishments, excited that she's going through UK's recruitment week, knowing that her life will be changed forever in a matter of just a few days.  It's about all I can do not to jump in my car and drive to Lexington, KY and sit on her little twin bed in her shared dorm room and laugh with her and cry with her and ask her so many questions about her first days as a college student....all while trying to impart some wisdom from my own experience.

I also think how my own experience did not include text messaging (let alone a smartphone), no digital camera, nor Facebook.....goodness, the dorm wasn't even "wireless" - I remember how impressive the "ethernet" was compared to the slow speeds of my family's internet service in rural KY.  All this makes me laugh as I feel so old! 

My heart is swelling with excitement and thankfulness of my own experience and the start of Allie's collegiate years still to come! 

Gotta go.....just heard a text message come through! :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A little update on life

Hello! Whoa, what a whirlwind life has been lately and it's still going in full force. I want to do document this season of our lives right now - not necessarily because it is very interesting to others, rather because I want us to look back and see how God has poured out many blessings and extra doses of energy so that we can continue to push through. Life right now is very sweet....things are going quite well....just at a pace that neither of us wants to sustain forever. However, we are thankful that the Lord is proving that He can and will do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20) including when we need another boost of stamina to keep us in gear. ;)

I type this message from a hotel in Charlotte, NC where Josh and I arrived yesterday afternoon. We are in town for tonight's Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw concert that will begin later this afternoon. Josh was sweet to schedule this trip as a surprise to me. The days leading up to this weekend have been so hectic that we worried the timing was wrong to leave town; we even considered selling the concert tickets to stay in town. The reason is because this isn't just any weekend - it is the last weekend before we move into a new home. We left town with boxes still to be packed up and moved. We arrived to Charlotte exhausted and drained. We agreed to come enjoy this trip and rest up, making every effort to forget about the work ahead of us this week with moving while also working our full-time jobs and continuing to strive for our health (which doesn't include the conveniences of drive-thrus, food delivery,and slacking on our fitness). On top of that, Josh has been working third shift and many overtime hours. That pretty much means he puts me to bed each night and then goes into work while I sleep. Then I am at work when he is sleeping. It's been an adjustment to say the least since our schedules are completely opposite. However he is taking it like a champ and still being my awesome husband (pretty sure if the roles we reversed, I would not be so sweet).

Earlier this morning I visited the hotel gym on my own. You should know this is a pretty big deal for me, but in keeping with our recent efforts for overall health and well-being I made myself peel out of bed for at least a short workout of some cardio and strength training. Funny thing is that it is a little easier to do when my "reward" is hotel continental breakfast and fresh-brewed coffee waiting downstairs....I am a sucker for a real breakfast and someone else making my coffee. :) I want to show you my view right now but am having problems getting the photo to upload in this post. So picture me in the chair with my feet propped up on the ottoman, with a bag of ice stretching over both my knees. I laughed at myself that this very same chair I had used just moments before for reverse push-ups is now being utilized for my rehab. Unfortunately I have known for quite some time that my knees and ankles give me pain and problems, which is the very reason I have quit working out many times before. I am still not sure the approach I will be taking if this continues. I am a wimp when it comes to pain, however I am also more mentally committed to overall well-being now than ever before. I just have to find the right balance between challenging myself in a way to grow stronger while also not causing damage. My sweet husband took me a couple weeks ago to a running store where they performed an analysis of my running form, taking a video to show me how jacked up my ankles are. We purchased the overpriced shoes and inserts that will hopefully help stabilize my ankles. Right now I am not sure if it is helping or not so I will definitely give it more time. I joke (not at all in the make fun of way) to Josh that I probably needed braces on my legs (like Forrest Gump) when I was younger, but it might be too late for that now. To my surprise I am really enjoying the upper body strength training, which was the very thing I most feared when we began working out several weeks ago. I still can't do push-ups "man style" but I will get there eventually. Josh actually showed me how to do them using a staircase which has been my preferred method for now.

We are not doing a particular diet or fitness regimen; we are not counting calories or following a structured meal plan. Instead, we are combining cardio and whole body strength training for fitness and eating more wholesome foods such as lean meats, lots of veggies, fruits, and nuts (basically limiting processed/high-sodium foods). We still enjoy some indulgences (like yesterday was our cheat day and I am not even going to name what we ate). The coolest part is the changes in the way my body feels.....well, other than the soreness that is. ;) I am feeling more energetic and just a lighter feel (I am really not even talking less pounds so much as just more free and peppy). And now that I have been in this new way of health for a few weeks now, it's funny that when we have our cheat meals my body doesn't feel as great. I don't get sick or nauseous feeling, just feel more lethargic and fatigued...plus I can tell when we've consumed sodium (ahem...chips & salsa....cough, cough) because my fingers swell and I just feel weighed down. This is obviously just the beginning of many new things in my life. I am certainly no expert - just a simple girl trying to make good lifestyle choices that will have long term effects. My encouragement to you (and the lesson for myself that I'm still learning) is to get back to the basics and simplify by shedding the excess. This can be the junk we put in our bodies as well as the junk we find stuffed in closets and drawers when it's time to move out. Both situations really are similar because if we protect our bodies and homes from the things that cause them harm and clutter, we can focus on what makes them thrive. I know all of this, yet I still struggle with committing to this very beneficial lesson. It helps to remember that every little bit makes a difference. The healthy meal with a short workout is a step toward my goal, just as cleaning out one drawer. I need to not view life as all-or-none and rather see it as every good process is letting me step closer to my ultimate goals. Feel free to hold me accountable to this - I need all the help I can get! :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On the Road & Relationships

Happy 2012! :)  I haven't posted in a very long time.  Honestly, I had many ideas for posting and would sometimes log in with the intention to post, only to see the photo in my last post and decide I loved it too much.  (perhaps a little slow to change?!)

Since that last post in October 2011, there have been so many exciting things going on and thoughts and revelations and moments and trips that I should have captured in print and shared for the few of you out there that read this blog.  But alas, I just kept on keeping on living this blessed life.  Pictures pile up, life happens, and special moments soon become memories.  It has been a cycle, but not a vicious one.

Maybe I'll catch back up someday, but for now I can recap the last couple of weeks.  In the past two weeks (well, two and a half now that I'm settled back in), I have traveled over 2,500 miles on my own through eight states in two different rental cars and completed three audiobooks....and that doesn't include the round trip flight I took from Charleston, SC to Nashville.  I traveled to two weddings, a baby shower, a Mothers Day family gathering, countless work events, visited friends, new babies of friends, family, and friends whom I count as family; yet I won't dare try to count the numbers of loved ones I've seen lately.  There was one stretch in the first week where I channeled my inner Goldilocks and slept in five different beds over five nights.  I've laughed, I've cried, I've gone through way too many drive-thrus and pumped so much gas it's probably hazardous to my health.  And somehow I only missed two days of work.  Sure, I'm worn out from it all....but it's a good feeling of tiredness because while I know I haven't done it all just right, I can rest in the fact that I've given it all I had.  Relationships with friends and family are extremely important, they reap many rewards, but one lesson I'm learning as I grow older (and wiser) is that they don't keep themselves going.  They take investments of time and effort. 

But now the time has come [well, almost].  It's a moment I've been waiting for.  Through the absolutely wonderful times I've had the past two weeks, I am looking for a fun adventure this weekend....getting to spend the first full weekend with my husband since Easter.  And that's putting it pretty lightly since I haven't mentioned that he has been attending grad school since January, worked second shift the month of April, is putting in crazy amounts of overtime hours, and has had extensive work travel in Seattle, San Antonio & Cincinnati during the semester.

My hard working husband takes care of our family and makes our adventures possible.  I am so grateful for him and how he leads us.  He is extremely caring and protective of me, which I'm extremely okay with. ;)   In the midst of his recent jam-packed schedule, he made the effort to book all my hotels and rental cars (not based on the cheapest choices as I would have arranged, but with my safety and comfort as priority), he took money out of the bank so I had cash on my trips (he knows I wouldn't do this on my own), and he has been earning awards and recognition at work.  His work ethic and humbleness are models to strive for.  Multiple times each day I am overwhelmed with the blessings we share and I can't believe just how God laid out this path for this life of joy with this man.  It's not about the stuff he does for me  -- not at all.  These are just recent examples of how he goes over and beyond to show love for me on a regular basis and even during hectic times.  He seems to naturally understand that our relationship takes time and effort.  I guess I'm a slow learner because I'm just now really starting to understand how vital they are to maintain.

I pretty much can't put into words how I feel about my husband and our family and friends.  I'm so thankful - a blessed girl for sure!  So I don't get too sentimental, I'll leave with a few fun photos from the last couple of weeks:

Amy's Wedding in Cincinnati, OH

Catherine's Baby Shower in Northern KY

My work trip to Norfolk & Virginia Beach, VA

 Jillian's Wedding in Lexington, KY

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Glorious afternoon

Sunny day, jumping fish, singing birds, playing squirrels, swimming ducks, laughing children, comfy jeans, bare feet, bare face, sonic drink, happy heart, blessed life, God's grace.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Something I'm looking forward to!

Josh is leaving again for Seattle soon.  A big downfall to my job now is that I no longer get to go with him for weeks at a time (I know, a good job is not a real problem.  So thankful I had the opportunity for uninhibited travel twice earlier this year!).  To make a long story short, I have been sad about Josh leaving for several weeks on the west coast.  He departs on my birthday and will be gone for three weeks.  I realize that this is a short time compared to military deployments and I am very respectful of those who serve our country (and the families left behind), however it is still hard for me when he leaves for these trips.

A few days ago Josh knocked my socks off with a surprise.  It was an after-work early-evening Wednesday.  We had plans to head out together for a couple of errands before our monthly evening Church service.  (Actually it marked a dozen days before my birthday.....so I could sing "the 12th day before my birthday, my true love gave to me....." but that is actually irrelevant, plus I don't sing well!).  :)

Josh told me to stay there (I was sitting on the couch for the couple of minutes before we would have to be gone the rest of the night) and he said he had to tell me something.  I told him that made me nervous, so he replied that was going to give me my birthday present early.  For starters, Josh and I are not really gift givers for each other - we would much rather decide something fun to do together.  Bless his heart, he has learned my not-so-sweet natural reactions so well that he prefaced the gift by telling me not to get upset about logistics because everything is worked out; I promised I understood, although I wasn't too sure.  He reached into his backpack then pulled out a card and gave it to me.

I opened the sweet card and a piece of paper inside caught my eye.  The paper was a printed confirmation for two tickets to go whale-watching in the San Juan Islands (Bellingham, WA) for the last weekend in September.  Hmmmm....that's funny because that's exactly the excursion I wanted to do when we were in Seattle in the Spring, however their tour season had not yet opened.  Only one problem....now I am back in South Carolina and working a job!  I was a bit puzzled about this until I turned to the other side of the paper for a flight itinerary showing my name and round trip tickets to Seattle for the weekend.  He even arranged with my supervisor (whom he's never met) for the short time off of work that I will need to take.  Yes it's going to be a super short time to make a coast-to-coast trip.....BUT WE ARE BOTH SO EXCITED!!!

We know that me being there over part of his trip will make things so much easier for us the following two weeks that he's still in Seattle.  Plus.....WHALE WATCHING WITH MY HUSBAND....definitely on my bucket list!

I am so thankful for my sweet and thoughtful husband.  He is such a blessing to me every day and shows love to me like none other.  I could brag on him all the time, however I usually keep many of his sweet acts between us.  I just couldn't keep this story to myself because two weeks from today I will be with my sweet husband in the Pacific Northwest trying to catch sight of whales and other wildlife.  WOO HOO! :)

If you have been whale watching, please share any tips or advice because I want to make the most of this excursion!  It's an all-day trip to the islands.  There will be a snack bar available plus one meal is included.  I plan to take a backpack with some snacks as well as jackets, umbrella, camera, and other essentials because I want to be prepared no matter the weather.  Since I learned of this surprise on Wednesday, not a single minute has passed that I haven't thought of whales.  SUPER EXCITED!  27 isn't an age I'm too thrilled about, however whale-watching is exciting me something fierce, so at least I get to start off my new age with a bang.