Wednesday, March 24, 2010

{ Seabrook, part II }

Words cannot do justice to the joy, beauty, laughter, and tears that made up that weekend. It was so beautiful.

Each photo is an infinitesimally tiny slice of those extraordinarily beautiful days.

Andi's darling knack for standing on chairs to get people's attention, make announcements, take photos...I think that secretly, she just likes heights...

Heading to the beach: Katie the Wild Aussie Bike-Rider, Chelle and Sadie~Rose, Fairlight on another bike, and Leslie.

I love how all the unpaved paths are covered with crushed white shells. Shiny mother-of-pearl bits, bleached white bits--breathtaking and unexpected beneath your feet. The seaside version of the Yellow Brick Road, perhaps? The White Shell Paths?

The banner Chelle made for Katie's surprise bridal shower

Quinn the Heartbreaker with his two "girlfriends," Dawna and Aminta. This little man is the strong, silent type: Mellow, sweet, laid-back, never complains, totally chill. He is so, so dear.

I think the Seabrook Beach Camp cabins, kitty-corner to our house, are the perfect place for a rustic seaside/forest honeymoon!

The morning Dawna and I spent holed up in the playroom upstairs, putting together our surprise lolly bar and happiness boxes for dinner that night. It ended up not being so much of a secret, since nearly everyone dropped in the playroom sooner or later. We talked and ate Jelly Bellies and laughed and talked some more...such fun! I miss you Dawna!

Not only is Dawna the Queen Mum, she gives grown-up girls piggyback rides! Over brush and roots and branches and mud and soggy swampy marshland and puddles. This was not your ordinary piggyback ride. I am still impressed.


Oh, Jack. You have won my love forever, small boy. Your million-dollar smiles, your snuggles, your growls as you power-crawl across the floor, your chubby thighs spilling out of legwarmers, your itsy bitsy toothies and the toothy grin you flash at everyone. How you spunkily crawl right into the middle of a kitchen full of fast-moving people just to hang out or chase a toy or peer up at faces, till someone scoops you up and loves on you. Those huge blue eyes. Your endlessly sunny disposition. I love you, Jackers, and I always always will.

Breakfast with Jack

Naptime with Jack--he fell asleep holding my necklace {a gift from Mike that says "i'm his favorite"}

~Ocean and Beach~

I took a stroll through Seabrook one bright morning and found many a house and cottage I loved. This one especially caught my eye, with its unusual windows and the round porthole by the front door. Do I sense a family vacation in the future??

A bicycle on someone's porch

A nearby street of sunny white cottages

How great is our God: That He knits together our lives in such beautiful ways!

Note: You can read more about our weekend here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

{ Cheeries }

Recently found increasing the smileage of my days:

Teeny-tiny desserts from one of our favorite restaurants. They have a wide and delectable assortment of miniature desserts, which I would love for their tiny-ness alone--but they are scrumptious to boot!

A few weeks ago, I walked into the living room relatively late in the evening and found Mike with an entire afghan draped around his neck. Only his neck. He said his neck was cold.
He makes me laugh so often and so hard! Do you think this could be the infancy of a new trend in men's neckwear?? See, I promised you a funny picture!

Daffodils! $5 for 30 stems at Safeway!
Need I say more?
I love love lovelovelovelovelove daffodils. Always and forever.
I wish their season lasted longer.
Forgive the crappy lighting, please? I wanted to show you my countertop corner of sunshine, even if the flourescent lighting makes it look like our kitchen is in prison. It's actually a very happy place.

I've repurposed some of the jars from our lolly bar at Seabrook and filled them with Easter goodies. Left to right: Cadbury's mini chocolate eggs {it seems Mike and I both have a terrible weakness for these}, Crunch bar chocolate eggs, coconute creme-filled Hershey kisses {divine!!}, and peppermint sticks. Left over from Christmas, but they look cute in the jar. I smile every time I see these on my kitchen ledge: such sweet memories of planning and decorating and filling them with Dawna and Katie...

New love: Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Basil Countertop Spray. The Mrs. Meyers products were on sale awhile back, and I've been curious about them...I won't lie, the packaging is what snagged me...and ohmygoodness, the basil-scented countertop spray is sooooooo lovely! My heart hurts a little bit every time I use it, because I love it so much but really don't want to pay that much for clean counters. This whole anecdote probably tells you more about the carnal state of my soul than what cleaning products you ought to try out next, eh?

The Mr. and I spent over an hour at the paint store yesterday, eyeing all sorts of delicious chips of color. I'm busy taping on walls and cupboard doors and imagining all sorts of color combinations, come warm-weather-time.

{ He really is my KISA }

You, Dear Husband, amaze.
I daresay that most college-age young men in America are content with choosing from a fairly limited number of options regarding their immediate future: Get a job, quite possibly of the grocery-checker/McDonald's-burger-flipper variety. Take a few college classes. A road trip, maybe. Girlfriends. Minimal effort for maximal enjoyment, you could call it.
Not so my Knight in Shining Armor.
You started an IT company while you were still in high school. After graduation, you continued working at your business full-time and took a 2/3 or full load of college credits simultaneously.
Your business grew to the point where you had to hire an employee.
You've always wanted to get married young, and during your single days you were looking for a wife, not a good time.
{That's the Space Needle, not a UFO, behind us}
You started pursuing me with the intent of marriage at the fresh-faced age of 21. You decided to try out the corporate world and spent a year working at Microsoft before deciding that you really are an entrepreneur at heart. You're now re-launching your business with a fresh perspective, sharp focus, and the kind of knowledge and experience that no classroom can provide.
You not only decided to marry me, you decided we should start out our married life as homeowners. Multiple acts of God got us in our condo just a week before our wedding.
And now, at just 23, you are hard at work running your own technology company. You are married. You are a homeowner. You lead a serve team at church.
And you have completed your associate's degree. You did it!!
It's something I cannot fully wrap my head around: working {let alone starting a business!} and taking college classes. I could barely handle community college and a very part-time job.
But for you, my Knight In Shining Armor, my KISA, it's all in a day's work.
P.S. I love you. You are my Knight in Shining Armor in every possible way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

{ Today }

Today I had a dental appointment. I chipped a tooth last week, just a little bit; a few seconds of grinding and it looks {and feels} good as new! The really exciting part is that our dentist is mere minutes from home, so by the time I was done there was no point in driving back to work for 15 I got home early! It's a brightly sunny afternoon with a nippy breeze, and I went on a walk. We've lived here eight months {today is our eight-month wedding anniversary! O happy day!}, and I've never once gone on a walk. Well, Mike and I went on a walk that one time, but it doesn't count. It was a date. Point is, I'm a lazy bum and I finally pushed all my other priorities aside and took off on a jaunt.

This is the water feature behind the community building. You can see the golf course on the other side. We've learned that walking on the golf path isn't exactly kosher. But we're not Jewish, so it's okay for us to do it, right? The sign in front of the lagoon cracks me up:

This photo is for you, Mom. Be kind to our ducks. Especially your Duck. For the good of wildlife everywhere, but especially in the protected wetland next door to your eldest child's home, be kind to your Duck!

The golf course is on both sides of a fairly major street, so the golf path winds its way under the street. I wound my way under the street, too, and was completely delighted with how secret and hidden this tunnel seems. I think I'm going to start calling it The Rabbit Hole, as in "Alice in Wonderland." I like the book and the old cartoon--the new version looks scary.
Look what I found on the other side of The Rabbit Hole!

Immaculate streets lined by immaculate yards situated around plush mansions with views of the Puget Sound, Whidbey Island, and the Olympic mountain range.

'Cept I didn't technically find these neighborhoods, 'cuz I know they are there--Mike and I have even taken the occasional Sunday afternoon prowl to pick out homes we like and grab fliers for houses that are for sale {the latter is always followed almost immediately by gasps and shrieks of horror, followed by a discussion of whether or not we ought to buy lottery tickets}. Sometimes I forget, in my rut of work-housework-church-etc., that we live across the street from a lot of really posh digs. They are too McMansiony and cookie-cutter for my taste, but the ones that have views of the water--oh my! I'd take one in a heartbeat, even if it's not quite my dream home.

Mmmmmm, sexy!!!
I didn't realize how cold the wind was, and even with my hood up, my ears were so cold they ached. Note to self: The world on the other side of The Rabbit Hole is still stuck in winter. Wear totally unflattering headband/earcover thingy next time you go on a walk, even if it dents your forehead semi-permanently and wreaks havoc with your curlies.
I saw lots of interesting people along the way, too: A pack of high school boys jogging. An older-ish lady wearing a shirt about marathons, running like the dickens. Two standard-issue Mormon boys in suits and wearing backpacks. Dogs of every shape and size. {I really felt rather naked without a dog. It seems that exercise or dog-walking are the only legitimate reasons to be afoot in these parts.} I even learned that we're almost smack-dab across the street from a middle school. Imagine that! It is the direction I don't normally drive, but still! I didn't know!
Stay tuned for the next installment of Nikki Nikki Timbo's life. I have some funny photos you will want to see. But I may post something else next. I have to keep us on our toes, you know.
P.S. For those of you who are confused about the whole duck thing, my Mom has called my Dad "Ducky" for as long as I can remember. So much so, that a number of people actually refer to him as Ducky, instead of Steve. Which is all fine and good until your younger cousin calls your Dad "Ducky" instead of "Uncle Steve." That is a little funny. I wonder what Dad thinks of all this?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

{ Seabrook, part I }

sometimes i forget that our God became flesh
that He hungered, thirsted, rested
that pleasures and harmonies of the senses
are His creations and His gifts to us
that His heart is glad
when we enjoy what He gives us

a gracious house
babies to love
exquisite meals
a lolly bar
Gerber daisies
canning jar vases
a tackle box of embroidery supplies
yellow walls
the roar of the oceansometimes
Jesus fills my heart
sparkling delight spilling over the edges
bubbling joy seeping into all the chinks of my soul
way down deep
saturating my roots
strengthening and refreshing me
joy that gives roots and wings
all at once

all unexpected
un-asked for

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

{ Stud...found! }

There totally aren't enough photos of this hottie on my blog.

Earlier this week he put up curtains in our bedroom. Or are they called drapes? I'm not sure. Either way: YAY!!! We now have something more than bare blinds which I feel sure the neighbors can occasionally see through. This man blesses me so much. He even borrowed a studfinder from his dad to make sure he screwed the brackets into studs. In the above photo, he is demonstrating that, when he holds the studfinder over his chest, all sorts of beeps and excitement happen. The studfinder gets very excited that it has found a very studly stud.

Lemme tell you a funny story: A few years ago, my brother Joe gave me a studfinder for Christmas. Yes, a purple studfinder. With batteries. His comment: "It looks like you need some help!" We all laughed so hard, my Dad harder than anyone else. I never used the studfinder {it actually appears I gave it away or lost it, which is why we had to borrow one}, but perhaps it gave off studfinding vibes. I met Mike less than ten months later. He is definitely a stud. And I found him.

I'm thinking about renaming March "The Month of Love." Spring is my favorite season: the smell of new grass; gentle whispering showers; the blossoming newness of cherry trees and apple buds, tulips and daffodils and crocuses. March in particular is dear to my heart. It's the month Mike and I started dating {2008}, and the month we got engaged {2009}.

We had been flirting for months when he sneakily got my parents' phone number by having my roommate Lizett ask for it {under the ruse that if anything happened to me, she wanted to be able to get ahold of my family}. I totally fell for it, never guessing she'd give it to Mike, who would call my Dad {whom he had never met} and ask permission to date me. After Bible study a couple weeks later, Mike asked if he could stop by Liz's and my apartment on the way home; he said there were some things we needed to talk about. I had that sinking feeling in my gut: "Oh no...he's going to say we need to stop talking on the phone so frequently...he's going to stop texting...he's going to totally break it off with me!!" I was very hesitant and somber on the drive back to my place. I was pretty sure this was not going to be a happy conversation.

Walking across the parking lot to the apartment, Mike pulled a long-stemmed red rose from behind his back and asked if I would go on a date with him.


There is a very unflattering photograph of me, taken about one minute after this shock, which my dad asked Mike to take, since he couldn't be there to see my face. I shall not post it online. I look vaguely like a hypnotized cow.

Three days later, March 29, Mike took me on The Most Epic First Date Ever. I am still blown away by how much thoughtfulness and attention to detail he exhibited in planning this amazing, amazing day. He took note of so many little things I'd mentioned in passing since we met, and worked them into the day. Let me show you:

It was a stunningly clear, sunshiny morning. I love going places on ferries, and sometimes refer to sunny days as "perfect for a ferry ride." Our first destination was a ferry dock. We took the ferry across to a rustic little town and had coffee at a quaint little waterfront crepe-and-coffee shop. Mike loves to dance, and we danced on the ferry dock, on the ferry, on the sidewalk. Back on the mainland a few hours later, Mike drove us to Costco, where we walked up and down the aisles, hand in hand. This was too sweet: As a teenager, my dream date was to walk through Costco holding hands with my sweetheart. Apparently that's a rural-Idaho-homeschool-girl thing, because years later I told Chelle about my secret 16-year-old-dream-date, and she gasped, "That was my dream date, too!" So here I was, almost 25, and experiencing my teenage idea of bliss walking through Costco holding hands. We danced down a few aisles, too.

{I look at this photo and my first thought is: "We look so young!" Mike is one of those men who will age exceptionally well; he makes me glad that I'm still occasionally mistaken for a high school student. We were young...I was not quite 25, he was 21. Yes, I'm a cradle-robber. It's the best way to be! Oh yes, and my hair is all over the place because we were on the ferry. Ferry-hair is an unavoidable side-effect of ferry journeys.}

Next we went to my house, where Mike instructed me to dress up. He changed into a suit. Our destination, unbeknownst to me till we arrived, was the Columbia Tower Club at the top of the Columbia Tower {Seattle's tallest skyscraper}. Only those with memberships are allowed into the club, and you can only obtain a membership if a current member extends you an invitation. As an entrepreneur with many business connections, Mike had a membership...and up we went, dancing in the elevator for 76 stories. In the club, surrounded by rich mahogany, we sat at a little table in glowing candlelight and drank wine. Below us, out the windows, was a glorious tangle of freeways ribboned with headlights, soft dusky twilight over islands and water, twinkling city lights, and fog creeping in from the Sound. It was magical.

This was not, however, Mike's final destination for us. Oh no! When Mike decides to woo a lady, he woos her. We danced back down the elevators and made our way through twilight fog to a classy restaurant on the waterfront of Mike’s hometown—his favorite town in the world. We ate a delicious dinner looking out over the marina, watching ferries glide over silken waters in the starlight. After dinner we walked out to the end of the pier and danced.

{I told you it was Epic!}

I think I am even more overwhelmed now than I was then by the tenderness, care, and detail that Mike invested in that day. He pulled out all the stops. He showed me, in every way he possibly could have, how much I meant to him. Even though it was our first date. Even though we'd first met less than six months earlier. He was a 21-year-old Casanova, in only the positive senses of the word! And I—the homeschool graduate, the absolute nerd in college who had no life and a GPA to prove it, the happy workaholic, the girl who at 25 had been on only a handful of dates {including the Blind Date from Purgatory and a breakup that involved being told the Pope was "my type”}—I was left speechless. Overwhelmed by the undeserved grace of God, shown me by this man.

I had no idea that exactly 365 days later, Mike would take the term "Epic Date" to a completely different level.

{ Why }

During last weekend's adventure {entire posts on that coming soon!}, a question was posed: Why do you blog? Honestly, it's not a question I've directly answered--either internally or publicly. Several intertwined roots have blossomed forth in this public, online portal of my life. "Why" is inexorably connected to "how," so I'll begin there.

Years and years ago--four? five?--my dear chum-since-childhood Chelle told me about her blog. Chelle and I grew up together, and in God's good providence, when I moved out-of-state after high school, I landed in the area where all the extended family of Chelle's future husband reside. A couple years after I moved, Chelle and David married and moved over here. I was beyond shocked and delighted. Even though they lived about an hour away and we still didn't see each other often, a one-hour drive is much better than eight hours. Which it had been before. Long story short, Chelle's blog was a sweet little peek into her sweet little life. I think she was pregnant with Annabelle, her firstborn, when I started reading. Eventually I began to explore Chelle's links to other blogs that she read. Many of them were, like her, stay-at-home wives or mothers, around our age. For a single college student whose dream was to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, these blogs were glimpses into a future I hoped and prayed and dreamed would be mine someday: a loving husband, chubby babies, a home of my own filled with beauty and blossoming creativity.

On numerous occasions, Chelle would mention that I should start a blog. She never pestered; she'd just say that I would be good at it, she'd love to read it, that my posts would make people laugh and that I'd enjoy it. In my senior year of college, I took her advice and started one, the name of which I cannot even remember. Petrified of being stalked by online lunatics, I created a pseudonym and was as vague as possible about all details of myself and my life. This puts significant strain on one's writing, to be sure. Had I set out to blog a novel, this would have presented no roadblocks. However, if you try to write about your life whilst changing all details that might possibly give readers an inkling of who you really are, where you really live, and what you really do, you will see that it is no easy task. How can you connect with readers and develop relationships when everything you are presenting is a facade designed to mask the real you from the internet public? You can't. At least, I couldn't. I wrote maybe three posts before deleting the blog.

Fast-forward several years to 2008/2009. Mike and I were dating, and we had a discussion about God's giftings to us and how we utilize them. Writing is one of my gifts, and I shared how I have not used this gift fact, I have pretty much silenced it because I don't know how to implement it. {I don't want to boast or sound prideful by saying that I'm gifted in the area of writing. I state it as a simple fact; much as I would say I have curly hair or green eyes. None of these attributes are things I asked for or sought, but curly hair and green eyes and a forte for putting together words are all gifts that God has bestowed upon me. There are innumerable people, both alive and in ages past, who are incalculably better writers than I. All I'm saying is that I have some talent, however small, in this area.} But...I didn't feel that I had anything worth writing; I had nothing to write that was worth other people reading. We talked about blogging. Working in the information technology industry, and always concerned for my safety, I expected Mike to react negatively to the idea of having a blog. After all, he knows firsthand the crazy things people can do online to hurt others.

In one of those twists that shows God is clearly the author of humor, Mike encouraged me to start a blog. I hesitated. I hemmed. I hawed. I was too busy. I was too afraid of crazy internet people. I prayed, too. I was convicted about neglecting my writing skills. I was reminded of the parable of the servants who were given the talents, knowing that I was the servant who buried his one talent.

And in October of 2009, this newly minted Mrs. set up this blog.

That's how. Now why, in no particular order:

  • To better keep in touch with family and friends who don't live in the area. All my family, and many of my friends, live in another state. I want them to have a feel for the rhythms of my life; to be part of the ongoing story God is writing in Mike's and my life. A blog, I think, forges a stronger connection than Facebook or the occasional mass e-mail. It is the perfect way to keep faraway loved ones in the loop of our lives. And I love that I can make it pretty. :-) The number of photos I've shared via this blog just since October probably exceeds the total number I've shown my peeps in the previous year!
  • In my increasingly busy life, it is harder and harder to find time to record the days. I was a prolific journaler up to the point when Mike entered my life. Now that there is much more living going on, my life is much more interesting but there is also much less time for reflecting. I don't want to forget the richness of God's daily graces and mercies to us. I want to glorify Him by sharing His work in our lives. My hope and prayer is that this blog will stand as an Ebenezer, a memorial of God's grace and goodness. The word Ebenezer comes from 1 Samuel 7, where God routes the Philistine army before the Israelites. Samuel set up a stone in memory of God's work on behalf of His people, and named the stone Ebenezer, which means "stone of help."
  • In a similar vein, I simply want to record this season of my life. I love scrapbooking. I started scrapping in college and love love love it. It is one of the few crafty areas I'm good at, and I enjoy it so much! But it's expensive, and time-consuming, and when you're approximately three years behind, it's overwhelming. Blogging by no means replaces scrapbooking, but it provides a similarly verbal-and-pictoral record of my adventures.
  • Blogging is a creative outlet. Writing is one of the ways I process things, and it is incredibly cathartic. I often struggle with the idea that what I write needs to be perfect and polished before it is shared. One of the reasons I have been so hesitant to write in any public form is because I'm afraid it won't be "good enough." {Good enough for what, I don't know--I never said this would make sense, I'm just being honest!} Which is why writing consistently is challenging, humbling, and also rewarding. It's me exercising long-unused muscles. It's me stretching my wings--maybe only a centimeter at a time, but eventually I will be limber enough to attain the full wingspan given me by my Creator. It's me being brave enough to be vulnerable by sharing what I write. Vulnerability is a very great struggle for me. Coupled with my insecurities regarding writing itself, the transparency inherent in blogging honestly is huge. Even though this exposure is through the filter of a computer screen.

At the root, it all comes back to obedience, doesn't it? My main incentive for blogging has always been to use the skills God has given me--the fact that it enhances communication with others is a nice bonus. Why is it that I feel that the daily use/cultivation/growth of other skills {echocardiography, being a homemaker, being a good wife, etc.} is good and profitable, while with the skill of writing I feel that daily use ought to be leading up to a grand finale? That I ought to have some sort of magnum opus in view, with every jot and tittle drawing me closer to that final crescendo? Perhaps God calls me simply to write. Not for the purpose of someday penning The Next Great American Novel, or sharing some phenomenal spiritual truth, or becoming famous, or anything else. Perhaps He simply wants me to write.

Regardless of where God may lead me in the future, I know this is where He wants me today. It is so beautiful how God weaves together the many {seemingly separate} cords of our lives into one perfect whole. "Obedience in blogging" sounds funny and rather oxymoronic, but that's really why I'm here. I don't know where this path may lead, but I'm confident that I'm following One Who does.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

{Adventures }

Tomorrow I'm embarking on an adventure.
I'm going to leave my husband for three days and two nights
--the longest we have been separated since our wedding! Woe! I miss him already!--
to spend a weekend on the coast with ten other ladies.
There will be eleven girls and four babies.
Most of us have never met "in real life" before.
We're blog-friends.
I've been reading their blogs for years, so I feel like I know all of them already.
As you can see, I've only had a blog of my own for a few months, so they don't know me as well as I "know" them. But I've graciously been invited to this meetup that they've been planning for nearly a year. And I'm so looking forward to it!!
But honey, I will miss you.
I will miss snuggling for an hour before we go to bed.
I will miss snuggling for an hour before we get up in the morning.
I will miss you telling me that you love me more.
I will miss distracting you from whatever you're doing.
I will miss you praying for me, speaking softly into my ear, before we fall asleep.
I will miss you asking if I approve of whatever you're wearing.
I will miss sneaking some of your coffee. {There's way more in that pot than one man should drink, anyway.}
I will miss you.
And I will miss the stash of Cadbury's Easter eggs in our junk food drawer.
They will be all gone long before I'm back, won't they?
Golly, I'm not even departing 'til tomorrow morning and I'm already getting all choked up!
I think this whole getting-married thing was a good idea. I get to spend much more time with you this way. But the flip side is that even the joy of a girly weekend on the beach is dimmed by the thought of how much I'll miss Manly.
I'm so glad I get you for, like, every other weekend. And please don't have a guys' night too soon in the future...I think it will take me awhile to be all stocked up on Mike-time again.
Maybe forever.
Maybe I'll ask you to let me tag along to guys' night.
I'd bring you tomorrow, but I can just hear the other girls squealing. You would be deafened by the combined estrogen of 11 women and 2 baby girls. {Poor Jack and Quinn, come to think of it--the only boys and they're so small! I'm sure they're too young to mind the extreme femininity of this weekend. They will probably be dazzled by young Sadie~Rose and Jillian, anyway.}
So honey, have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. I know you'll probably miss me more than I miss you, because that's just the kind of wonderful you are.
Mrs. Mike