April 30, 2010

You and Me Together.

(one of our engagement pictures)

Ok, so tonight I've read two different friends' blogs about their "first dates" or when they first got together. They also posted old photos of them and their spouses.

Tonight Anthony isn't here. He's in Ocala, FL with my dad preparing to play guitar at a church up there on Sunday. I realized when I was putting our boys to bed tonight that I would be going to sleep alone and it immediately made me miss Anthony and wish he were here. This post is long, but I'm feeling sentimental...

While I read my other friends' posts (thanks Anna and Elizabeth!) I got to thinking...

"What if on our first date, or the very beginning of our relationship, someone from the future could have told us what our life together would hold?"

Like a big Future-man Life-Spoiler Alert...but in a good way. I don't know if I would have believed half the stuff Future-man would tell me (with his own commentary on my feelings about my future-self)... something along these lines...

*"You'll fall in love with him during a 'break' even though you won't be getting much break from each other. He's so patient, you're getting yourself into the right thing here."

*"Y'all are so alike, for your first Christmas you're going to get each other the same thing without even asking or talking about it. And the gift will be going skydiving."

(me skydiving. Anthony bought me the package where I got a video and photos from my jump)

*"Your Grandmother is gonna call him "Shirley Temple" for the first few years of your marriage."

*"Oh, yeah, marriage. Yeah, he'll ask you to marry him just 10 months from now."

*"Sorry, but one of the proofs that you chose a man worthy of your love will come when your little sister Veronica will die in a car accident 2 weeks after you get engaged. Trust me. He's a winner and you'll be blessed to have him by your side."

*"Your wedding will be beautiful. It'll be Asian themed. Which is ironic because just a few months after getting married you'll decide together that Asia is where you want to live. Yeah, he's got it in him to take on Asia."

(Us engaged and visiting a school for our Masters, posing with the president)
*"You'll learn together from the start. You'll take on debt together and beat it. You'll be amazed at how he leads in your marriage with such strength when it comes to stuff like that."

*"You two will walk on a plane in Miami with excitement and joy and get off in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia ready to meet adventure head-on."

*" Your first baby will be a boy and he'll be Asian. Well, according to all your friends in Malaysia he'll be Asian. His passport will say, "United States of America" on it and his hazel eyes might beg to differ, but the number of languages he'll hear in his first 48 is enough to make him Asian."

*"You'll give birth half-a-world away from what you know and it won't even phase you. Mostly because Anthony will be such a loving and supportive friend that you won't ever feel like you've left behind much. He'll be there and that's more than a lot."

*"One warning. He'll like curry more than you will. As long as you let him live in Asia, you won't have to learn to cook it."

*"He'll be your reality check when you think you want to get pregnant after you two decide you're going to adopt your second child. You see how much thought and time he's taking into just making it 'official' with you? He'll have that same steadiness of character in moments when you need it most. It'll be a good thing he reminds you that adopting is enough...you'll love him for it."

*"You will hold your second baby, another boy, in your arms before you even thought you would. He'll be gorgeous. Anthony will be amazed at your family of 4 right along with you."

*"If you want a "push prize" for the second baby when you, in fact, had nothing to do with his birth, it'll take some convincing. But by then, you'll know he'd give you the world if he could, and does when he can. So just ask sweetly when you do."

*"At almost 6 years of marriage, you'll be even more excited when he gets home everyday than you were when he agreed to go with you tonight to St. Augustine."

.....and of course since Future-man doesn't really exist, I can't say much beyond that...

But what would you have done if someone could have given you a run-down?
I don't mean in the , "Would I want to know?" sense, but in the "I am so amazed at all God's done in my life simply by giving me my husband as my mate" sense.

So, what was our first date?

I'm not even sure if the night I'm about to describe officially counts as it. But it was important, so here goes.

It was something out of a book. We had been spending extra time together that whole summer despite us both having summer "jobs" that took us out of town. I worked at a camp that traveled to different locations and he played guitar at several camps and also traveled. By Labor Day, summer's end, I knew Iiiii wanted to keep hanging out with him, but still wasn't sure what he was thinking. It took a lot to let him lead...but I'm so glad I did!
(Anthony from the summer just before that Labor Day with the band)
Labor Day, Monday, we had gone with a bunch of friends to the beach in Ponte Vedra. That night, my good friends and I cooked dinner for the whole group at my house. My younger sister was there and left to drive back home in the late afternoon. Shortly after leaving she got into a fender bender (but bad enough to not be able to drive her car home) and I had to drive down to near St. Augustine to meet her and be with her until my dad made it up there with the big huge trailer to haul the car back.

Of course, I didn't want to go alone.
I'm sure I probably asked him to go, but didn't close the invitation to anyone else either. But as I hoped, it ended up being just him and me. I'm sure our other friends saw what was happening and also wanted to finish their spaghetti dinner and watch whatever movie we had rented.

So we drove. Waited for my parents to get there. Then drove back.

On the way back (so he told me later) I called a friend from the camp I had worked at that summer to give my condolences for her grandmother's death. I didn't reach her and left a voicemail. I quoted some Bible verse in the process. Anthony later told me that that did it.

"I have to marry this girl." he thought.

Well.....maybe not marry, not that night anyway, but he knew he wanted to make it official.

(in case you were wondering what Shirley Temple was in reference to. Us weeks before we were "us.")

We hit traffic on the interstate and decided to take A1A back up to my house. For those of you unfamiliar with Northeast Florida's map, we took the road up the coast.

I can't remember if he suggested it, or me, or both of us together, but we decided we wanted to stop and walk on the beach. We found a public beach (it was night by this point) and set out. We didn't get very far. Mostly because of the thunderstorm just off the coast. It was incredible to watch it out there. So very "Florida." Mesmerizing.

We had grabbed beach blankets and sat and talked for awhile. The little we did walk, we looked down and noticed that the beach was glowing. Glowing blue. And not just glowing, but more pulsating or twinkling. I had lived in Florida my whole life and never seen anything like it. When we raked our feet or hands across the sand, the trail lit up and sparkled. Crazy. Like the beach and the thunderstorm were giving a clue to the incredible journey ahead of us that was starting that very night.

We didn't talk too much. Anthony was planning to move to Nashville later that fall to pursue music. I didn't tell him at the time, but I knew he wasn't gonna move. Don't know how, just knew. I think the Lord had really given me a peace about letting go and giving him the reigns on what would happen with our relationship. I think I knew (and definitely hoped) somewhere deep that he was it and whatever had begun slowly that summer was important.

What he did manage just a few minutes before the storm closed in on the shore was, "I'm really gonna miss you when I move to Nashville."

What did I say?

At first nothing. For once in my life I was speechless. Literally. Could. think. of. nothing. to. say.

After a few moments all I managed was a frail, "Me too."

We were staring out into the ocean. I guess my response was enough to make him brave.

"I've really liked hanging out with you." he said.

Again with the speechlessness and uncreative response. Get it together Sharon! I should have known then only the love of my life could have the power to leave me without words.

"I've liked hanging out with you too."

Then I don't remember, but it started raining and cut the conversation short. But he had said enough. It was enough for my heart to know he was gonna miss me. Which he never had to do because he never moved to Nashville. (Duh. He could've just asked his future wife and she could have told him)

We got back to the house and to our friends. But man, that night changed everything. Or so it seemed. I guess the truth of it is that God was working his plan for our lives all along and that night was the first real glimpse (however brief and speechless it might have been) into the life he had ahead for us.
Later on that week (I'll have to ask Anthony if he remembers if it was that night or another) we were on the phone talking about the Sunday School lesson we were to teach our respective Middle School classes the coming week and somehow we got to talking about "us." We made it "Official" official then. Funny now when I think the telephone helped him to be a bit more brave, and me to be more composed to answer.
(the night he proposed...July 5, 2003)
I am SO thrilled we took the scenic route home that night! I can't believe we've been married almost 6 years now. What sweet memories to think on as I'm not with my Love tonight. Can't wait to see him tomorrow!

April 11, 2010

Gettin' my Craft on...

Ok so after THIS post on our sons' blog, my friend April Eve (aka- the Carseat Natzi ...I do know how Nazi is spelled I don't really want to equate my friend to that, but still want to make a Seinfeld joke, so there) who has also lived in a part of the world where car seats are not in any way mandatory for children, told me I should probably check Florida Laws to see when I could turn Isaiah around.

And I learned something new!

In Florida children must stay facing the rear until 1 year of age and 20 lbs in weight. When Isaac grew out of his infant carseat in our former country of residence, we just turned him around because that's all that was available. So we did the same for Isaiah, ignorant of the law. So, to correct our mistake we went to a consignment shop in town and found a rear-facing seat for $20. It was faded and had cat hair on it. So to remedy that for a good bargain, my first craft project of the week was born...
A carseat cover. (cost $13. Total cost of seat, $33...cheapest we could find at Wal-mart was $50!)
(Here it is pinned in kinda the shape I wanted. I got my fabric from JoAnn Fabric)Really I just kinda went piece by piece and figured it out. I won't type out all the steps here, but if you'd like to make one for your child and don't wanna pay money for a pattern, just leave a comment and I'll reply with my "instructions." So here are some pictures that make it look straightforward.
(Here it is all sewn together but without the elastic)
(Here's the detail stitching I picked to go on the arms where I folded the material to shape around the edges)
(Here's me sewing elastic on. Definitely a job for the determined!)
(Here's how I kinda sewed up the holes for the straps. NOT as easy as it was in my mind! And yes, I'm showing you one of the "better" holes I stitched up...good thing Zay will be sitting on the other ones!)
(The plastic hole-keeper things on that come on the seat. Pop them in and it really makes the seat look detailed and nice!)

(See? Other than maybe it's not as smooth on the side as I had hoped, I think it looks alright!)
And here's us piled in my dad's truck for the maiden voyage. And how fun too that I picked a Houndstooth (sp?) print and Isaac's chair is houndstooth too! I'd forgotten about it and chose the colors I did because the middle section is quilted material so there's more padding and black as the base color so his little shoulder bears we have for his straps would match.
And here's Zay and his new seat and his new trick of sticking out his tongue (I can do it to prompt him and he'll copy! TOOO cute!)
But my craft-week wasn't over yet.
I saw this blog and thought my young cousin Kate would love this bag for her birthday. It's a bag for library books.The tutorial is HERE. I did a couple things differently (added a bow, and got her name professionally stitched instead of putting the word "books.")

What specifically makes it a library bag you ask?
The handy dandy card and library receipt holder that's on the bag.And no! It's not just a pocket:) It's clear! :)

So, I improved some of my sewing machine skills and learned a lot about my machine this week, and I think the products of my labor - and frustration, especially ALL those times the fabric folded on the carseat cover underneath what I was sewing and I had to go back and take out the stitching- turned out pretty well. Crafting is soooo cathartic for me!!

April 07, 2010

Easter 2010

So after living outside of American culture I feel like I got a chance to breathe and really see a holiday for what it is and what Iiiii have the ability to make it. It's almost TOO easy in America to celebrate Easter. Which is great. You can't forget it...though you may lose it along with an egg or two in the tall grass. In places where it's not "automatic," it takes more effort to make it something special and we found ourselves deciding the ways we had always done things weren't absolutely necessary to make the holiday special. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the American way is wrong, it's just that when Jesus died on the cross and rose again to life on Sunday, there wasn't anything "inherent" in how we were to celebrate that (except for the Lord's Supper...but we do that on more occasions than just Easter..and now we have church on Sunday instead of Saturday) just that we remembered God's love and sacrifice for us.

So this year, Easter was great. Last year was low-key but also great. We went to an Easter Egg Hunt put on by our college students at our church on Saturday. This is Ava Grace, too sweet! Isaac got into it as he had had a practice round a couple weeks ago at a friends party. He did great and loved it... we only had one meltdown at the end when he realized there was candy in the eggs and Mama wouldn't let him eat every bit of it at once.Isaiah didn't hunt eggs, but he seems pretty fearless when it comes to the Easter Bunny.Then on Sunday we got all dressed up. Which even the fact that last year I mentioned the possibility of it happening this year means that my culture really is ingrained in me! But what I didn't realize last year was that I'd have TWO boys to dress up!

After not even going to a church last year for Easter, I can say I didn't think twice when my dad suggested we head to Disney after church. We had a GREAT service (it was our Pastor's last Sunday at our church...bittersweet for sure) and worshiped our Risen Savior. After we did "Easter Dinner" at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom. Last year we had monkeys in our backyard, and this year we had fake ones swinging over our heads in a jungle room! So here's the pictures... Every mommy bone in my body LOVED dressing my boys up like this!Isaiah slept in the nursery along with Parker and Cohen. TOO cute!All the cousins who were at our church that day. The Rivers boys were not in a photo-op mood by this point!Our family of FOUR! LOVE IT!And on to Disney. Rainforest Cafe and "The Festival of the Lion King" show and rode a couple rides. At the restaurant our we had a great chat with our waiter about Easter. Apparently another Christian family had sat at his table before us and left him a note encouraging him to know Christ as his Savior. He was already a believer (had even gone to church that morning but couldn't stay til the end because he had to be at work) but we had a little "church" (in the verb tense) right there at our table talking to him and encouraging him. Sorry no pictures!Our battery died before we could get pictures of Isaac crushing the slides in the "boneyard" playland. He was fearless!A slightly atypical Easter, but altogether a fantastic day celebrating an empty tomb and being with family!

April 03, 2010

Solomon's Castle

So you've heard of "Solomon's Temple" and maybe "The Palace of Solomon" or even "Solomon's Porch" or the "Song of Solomon"... but I bring you "SOLOMON'S CASTLE!"
(Cue Trumpety music)My Dad and Mom have lived here for basically forever and I used to live here for forever... and NONE of us had ever gone to Solomon's Castle...and now that I've been there, I can't for the life of me, figure out why!?Solomon's Castle is built waaaaaay out in the swamps and countryside of Florida. It's still a "local attraction" for our little town though. A man (I guess Solomon?) built the whole thing from recycled stuff. Ol' Sol went green ages ago. He built the castle up there from old tin (or was it aluminum?) You can tour the castle for $10 a person. We decided to save the tour for another day and opted for dinner at "The Boat in the Moat."That's right folks. Bathsheeba's boy doen't just build castles... the life-size boat in the swamp (aka, Moat) , the castle, and all the other "decor" is built from found, recycled stuff too. Reminds me of the Black Rock in LOST. Good show. Speaking of cult-classics, I figured there'd be no more appropriate place (other than maybe comicon) to debut my new Star Wars tshirt than at such a fine establishment. Isaac donned his too. There is something strange and fun about wearing a Star Wars shirt while dining at the Boat in the Moat at Solomon's Castle. Poetic really. I'm sure the castle has a whole room dedicated to the Rebel Alliance.

After a quick look-see inside the air-conditioned dining room in the Boat, we chose the dining tables inside the lighthouse.
That's right folks. The fun never ends in Lily, Florida.We chose it because it looked out over all the scenery. (Told you we were in a swamp!)The food was good (not super great, but quite a good selection for being what it is) and the staff was friendly. The waitress even played peekaboo with Isaac through the open window in the lighthouse dining room. Didn't get a pic of the peekaboo but I did of the High-5 my mom gave him for staying dry on the long drive out there- moments later he spilled water all over his pants and we had to change him anyway.Isaiah had a good time too (he did that himself)...as did we all. That's a horse face, not a sad face. I give two thumbs up to Solomon's Castle!