Sunday, November 30, 2008

Closure

My Dad's sister sent me an e-mail the other day saying that she was going to drive out to the cemetery where my Dad and grandparents are buried for a visit. As most of you know, my father passed away this past June. Although I was at his burial, I never saw the gravestone, because that doesn't get placed until later. When my aunt was there visiting this week, she took a picture of his gravestone and sent it to my sister and me.


I like it, although it does jar me back into the reality that my father really has died. It is simple and clean, and the sentiment is so beautiful and true. "In God's Care".

I love you, Dad, and like you said, it will only be like the blink of an eye before we are reunited again. Until then, though you are in Heaven and I am on earth, we are both in the protection of our loving God's care.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" - E. Pola and G. Wyle

Christmastime really is the most wonder-full time of the year, isn't it?!

At this time of year, I like to read books, watch films, and bake cookies to get me in the holiday mood and to prepare my heart for the season.  These things feel like Christmas to me:




~Watching White Christmas with my sister

~Orange-iced cinnamon rolls a la Pillsbury with mimosas on Christmas morning

~Reading the story of Jesus' birth in the book of Luke

What gets you into the Christmas spirit?


Friday, November 28, 2008

Home for the Holidays


They had been married for just six months. She always wanted to be a June bride, and her dream came true. What she didn't expect was that marrying the man of her dreams would mean moving two states away from her dear parents. She was an only child, and leaving her mom and dad to start her new life with Hal was like adapting to a whole new climate and culture. Life apart from them felt unnatural.

Still, she rallied and made the best of it. Married life was certainly a joy, but when she realized that Christmas was just around the corner, she couldn't abide the thought of spending the holidays away from her mom and dad. Hal was a good-hearted chap, and he knew there was no way he could disappoint his brown-eyed beauty.

They loaded up the car and drove through blustery winds and a few flurries, crossing into Connecticut and finally arriving in Massachusetts. Hal felt smug, knowing that his new father-in-law was going to love the necktie that he picked up for him on his last visit to Brooks Brothers. Joan, though, didn't have words. When she walked through the door of her parent's house and fell into her mother's arms, nothing else mattered. She was home.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful...

~that even though I'm not going home for Thanksgiving, I still get to spend it with family. One of the miracles of marriage is that your husband becomes your family the moment you say "I do!".

~that even though I miss him, I have peace because my Dad is in Heaven.

~that my Dad lived to be at my wedding and to meet his first grandson.

~for my Mom. She loves me so much, and I'm so glad we get along so well. 

~for my sister, who is also my best friend.

~for Annie, who is my other bestie.

~for harmony in my life.

~for the chance to have visited my dear friends in Spain this year.

~for Hubs' new job (more on that soon).

~for the birth of my nephew Sam this year! I never knew auntiehood could be so wonderful. I'll never be the same again!

~for the past three years in Southern California. I always wanted to live where it's springtime all year round, and I have to say, it's pretty great!

~for having been in a play this year and for the film/tv opportunities I've had.

~for my relationship with Jesus, whose love and forgiveness makes life beautiful.

~for the cool air outside.

~for a new President-Elect, who seems to be humble and approaching his new role with wisdom.

~for friends, with whom I'll get to spend my Thanksgiving.

Father in Heaven,

Thank you for the blessings you have given us this year. You are good.

Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I hope you have a fabulous weekend! 

Hubs and I are planning to spend Thanksgiving with one of my dearest childhood friends in the morning. Her family has an annual pie breakfast with a kajillion varieties of pie!

In the afternoon, we're going to join some other friends for Thanksgiving dinner and watch Baylor U play some football! Sic 'em Bears!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is the most memorable gift you have ever received?

I guess I'm a typical woman because I love a little bling!  ;)

My engagement ring is the most memorable, because it was a gift that came with a proposal from the man of my dreams. Every time I look down at my left hand ring finger, I am reminded of the love of my sweet husband. And really, the gift that he is to me every day is worth far more to me than the ring on my finger.


Click here to read the story of our engagement!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bored

You know? I'm rarely bored. When I don't have anything to do, I tend to create. Whether that means writing a blog post, organizing photos I've taken, reading blogs, watching the news, watercolor painting or just calling someone up to talk; there is almost always something to do!

One of the most gratifying things I enjoy creating are photo books on Kodak Photo Gallery. I used to spend weeks or months creating a single scrapbook. Now, with digital photos and the internet, I can create a beautiful photo book in just hours!  And it's so nice to pull them off the shelf to look at and to share the photos with friends.  

So I guess for me, creativity is the antidote to boredom.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

If you woke up tomorrow and the news said that the internet would be down for the next twenty years, what would you do?

I would probably cry a little because my blog took a lot of time and work to create, and it's kind of like my journal/scrapbook/legacy all rolled up in one.

Then I would have to grieve the loss of e-mail, because that was one awesome invention, and it makes it so easy to communicate with my loved ones all around the world.

Then I would take a deep breath, and I'd walk outside and see the sun shining, and I'd feel a wave of relief come over me, because I'd know in my heart that I wasted way too much time surfing around on the internet, and it was definitely time to unplug anyway.

Then I'd be like, "Say what? No more internet?"  

Then I'd cry again. I can't help it...I heart the internet!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In ten years...

I think it would be neat to accomplish these things in the next ten years:

~become a mother
~learn to speak French
~still be acting

I could probably dig a lot deeper, but it would be pretty awesome if I can accomplish those three things during that time!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Old Friends

When Hubs and I were traveling in San Sebastian, Spain, these two ladies were having lunch together at the same cafe. When they were ready to leave, one of them stood up gingerly, but it was clear that her friend needed help. She helped her friend stand up and then offered her arm to steady her friend. They walked slowly away, arm in arm.

Oh, that we may all have a friend like that!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Curtain Call!

My freshman year in college, I lived across the hall from a girl named Jennifer Eitel. She was beautiful inside and out, and as soon as I met her, I knew we would be good friends. We are still good friends today! She is a talented singer and a class act, grade A human being!

About a year ago, I got a call from her saying that she was in Los Angeles visiting her sister, Stephanie. She told me that they were creating an idea for a television show, and they wondered if I'd like to be involved. I was so excited! Of course I wanted to be involved!  I met up with them at a coffee shop for a brainstorming session that left me feeling alive and inspired--I knew something special was about to be birthed!

After countless hours of their hard work, the idea for Curtain Call was conceived: a modern-day variety show with an emphasis on providing a platform for up-and-coming musicians. Of course, there would be a cast of characters who would be regulars on the show, too.  Think "American Idol meets The Office".

When the Eitel sisters told me that they were looking for character actors for their show, my jaw nearly came unhinged. I had just shot my "Wanda" videos, so I showed them to Jen and Steph. They loved my character and decided to write a part for me! The character on Curtain Call is named "Jonelle", and she is the hair and makeup artist for the show. Here is a video clip of Jonelle:

video

The show is being launched first on the internet. Once it takes off, we hope to make it a web series that will eventually be picked up by network television. 

Go check it out! And if you or someone you know is a musician/singer/band member who wants to get their work seen, definitely send them to the website! It is a great way to get some exposure!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Travel Story

I've posted this story before, but I think it's appropriate, since it is the funniest travel story:

In the summer of 1993, I spent half a summer in Eastern Europe. The other women I was traveling with noticed (as did I) that in broad daylight, various drunk men would simply walk up to us and grope us. Needless to say, it was very disconcerting. I decided that the next time it happened, I would do something strong like shove the guy away from me to let him know that his groping wasn't appreciated.

The morning after I made that decision, I was in a lovely bank with marble columns--the last place you'd expect any trouble--changing money. As I was signing on the transaction, I saw a stranger approaching out of the corner of my eye. I felt a tap, tap, tap on the side of my boob. Immediately, I went into denial. "Surely this isn't happening." But a few seconds later, I felt the tap, tap, tap again. So I turned to the strange man, shoved him away from me and like a polite Texan girl said, "Stop it, please!" In broken English, the man politely responded, "I am very sorry." I got a good look at him for the first time and noticed that he had a long silver cane in his hand. He was blind and just feeling his way along! My boob just got in the way! I then started apologizing and the poor man walked away.

I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I think I did a little of both.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Joy!

Joy is getting to hang out with my adorable nephew...


...which is who I am hanging out with TODAY!!!  I love him!

(Hubs and I are in Texas for a long weekend.  I'll be posting new Sammy pics when we get home!)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Eiffel Tower


When we were in Paris last month, we decided to take a Seine River boat cruise at dusk. This was the awesome sky as sunset. The entire city of Paris is architectural eye candy, and the Eiffel Tower is the crown jewel. It is romance, looming high over the city, beckoning lovers all over the world, to come and be inspired by it's beauty.


We totally took the bait.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tell About a Book You Really Enjoyed


Ladies, get thee to a bookstore or library, and pick up a copy of this novel! (Or buy it online here.)

Warning: You may be up 'til all hours reading, because it is impossible to put this book down.

Set during the days of the California Gold Rush, Francine Rivers beautifully crafts a modern-day retelling of the biblical story of Hosea, whose love for his unfaithful prostitute of a wife just won't quit. (And you thought the Bible didn't have stories like that!) 

Historical fiction meets romance in this heart-gripping story that you won't soon forget. I actually read this book in 2001, and seven years later, the story is still with me. I know a lot of women who have read this book, and every last one of them raves on and on about it! If that's not enough of an endorsement, it has a five star rating on Amazon.

I loved it, and I hope you enjoy it, too!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rainy Day


Instructions for a rainy day:

~Let the sound of the rain drops serenade you as you sleep in as long as you want to.

~Stay in your pajamas all day. Coziness is the goal.

~Pop a favorite movie in and enjoy it with some popcorn.

~Curl up with a good book. If you have a fire place, by all means!

~If you must be industrious, organize all those photos you've been meaning to get to and start putting them in albums! It's so much fun to get those albums out to share with your friends.

~Soup. Warm, comforting soup.

~Call a friend who will be happy for you that you're still in your pajamas at 3pm.

~If you start to feel guilty for any lack of productivity, tell that voice of yours to save it for a rainy day...er, you know what I mean.

~Enjoy the restfulness of a day indoors. Rainy days are God's way of telling us its okay to chill!

Note: If you live in Southern California or other arid climes where rainy days don't come very often, you may have to schedule a "rainy day" on your calendar, just 'cuz.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gym Class

True confession: 

I liked gym class in elementary school, back when gym class was all fun and games and square dancing. Once I started middle school, though, I was never a big fan. I've never been a naturally good distance runner, so trotting around the track was not my idea of a good time. 

I had exercise-induced asthma as a child, and I used to leisurely meander from gym class to the nurse's office every day to take a hit off my inhaler, and then find every excuse imaginable to dawdle on my way back to class, to miss as much of it as possible without getting into trouble. 

"Oh, look--there's a water fountain! Better take a sip."

"Hmm. I better stop and read every flyer on that bulletin board."

You get the idea. Thank goodness I have Hubs to motivate me to go to the gym with him. It's still not really my idea of a good time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Soulful

Saturday started off typically enough, Hubs woke up early and went out to the living room to read while I slept in. Then I woke up and summoned him to come cuddle with me, as per our usual routine. But things immediately got interesting when I asked him what he wanted to do that day. He said, "I want to drive to the mountains." It doesn't take much to twist my arm to go on a spontaneous road trip to a beautiful place with my hubby, so I  immediately said, "Let's go!"

I took this photo on our drive up the mountain. Isn't it cool when the moon rises mid-day?! It looked so big when it was low on the horizon!  



After our gorgeous drive up the mountain, we arrived at Lake Arrowhead. I love going there in the fall. The crisp air just makes you want to walk around outside.


We wandered in and out of several shops and even discovered that Mrs. G's husband has a toy store there!  ;)


At dusk, we decided to take a drive around the lake. It was so beautiful. The beauty of nature refreshes my soul.


Just being out in nature seemed to turn my heart and mind toward God. I was reminded of this quote from Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What that I find both profound and comical:  "If you don't get to a beautiful place every couple of years, you get to thinking everything is urban, as though when God made creation He just made some medium-size buildings, a bowling alley, and a burger place."


We decided to pull off the road and sit to watch the sunset, and wow, did God show up!



It was soulful, as if the artist in God was speaking to the artist in me. "Let me show you My majesty through this ever-changing painting. You think these colors are brilliant? Just wait five more minutes!"



I wish I could say that I responded in worship or even thanks, but I didn't. For some reason, my heart was a little cold toward God that evening--resistant toward Him--even though He was calling to me with His magnificent brush strokes on the celestial canvas. I didn't like the attitude of my heart, but I was aware of it. I am struggling with God a little bit, but He is being so patient and loving toward me. (I only share that because I think it would be disingenuous to paint a totally rosy picture, when that wasn't the truth of what was going on in my heart.) Thankfully, He is patient with me, even when I am resistant to Him.

As we drove down the mountain to head home, the sky was a bright glowing red, kind of like the color of a cigarette lighter in your car when it is primed and hot. It was breath taking. I'd never seen the sky that red before. It seemed to be a once in a lifetime thing to witness. 

Thank You, Lord, for the beautiful ways You remind me that You're here, even when I'm not the most grateful recipient of your gifts of grace.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Flawed and Oh So LOVED!

For those of you who are new to this blog, you might not know that my husband and I met on eHarmony. Yep! We're an eHarmony success story!  :) We received an e-mail from eHarmony a few months back telling us that if wanted to be considered as a couple for their commercial campaign that we should send in a video of ourselves answering certain questions to a local ad agency. We did it, but we haven't heard anything. But don't worry, you don't think I'd let you miss out on this, do you?

When I think back on our love story, it is pretty remarkable that God used a computer program to bring us together. I don't think even five years ago that I ever would have guessed that I'd meet the love of my life on the internet!

One thing I noticed on a lot of the eHarmony commercials is that people talked about how wonderful it was to meet someone who loves and accepts you just as you are. I couldn't agree more. It is so wonderful to be married to a man who loves me with all of my flaws, just the way I am.



Monday, November 10, 2008

Inner Child


There's no place to bring your inner child out to play like Disneyland! So when my friend Kelly came to visit me from Texas last week, we got to let our inner-children run wild at Disney!


We went the day after Halloween, and it was a perfect Saturday to go to Disneyland. The lines weren't too long, and with the fast passes, we got to go on every ride we wanted without having too long a wait for anything!  We even rode Kelly's favorite ride, Indiana Jones, three times!


These wily pirate musicians really hammed it up for the camera! They were great!


Kelly even took time out to be with her thoughts.  :)


I really liked this hat, but decided not to buy it. Now I'm wishing I did!


Kelly decided to buy this Indiana Jones leather hat.


And I opted for this Ed Hardy inspired hoody!


If it weren't for my blog buddy, Saucy, I never would have known who Ed Hardy was! Now I see his stuff everywhere! I love the style of his art work, but I'm not a big fan of scull-n-crossbones, so Ed Hardy-gone-Mickey Mouse suits me much better!


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Vent

As I wrote here, I recently had to let out the fierce angry woman within when I had a bad experience at my local Toyota dealership. 

At the encouragement of Hubs and one or two commenters on that post, I decided to send a letter to the dealership's customer service department.

It felt good to have a place to go with my frustrations. I'll let you know if anything comes of it. Even if nothing does, I'm glad I wrote it.  

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Silly

Two years ago, I had so much fun dressing up in my Wonder Woman costume for Halloween! Last year, Halloween came and went, and we didn't do anything.  BOOOO!  So this year, I planned ahead and told Hubs, "I don't care what we do or where we go for Halloween, as long as we I get to go somewhere in costume!"

We did a little research and realized that there was going to be a Halloween Swing Dance at our local favorite place to go dancing! Woo hoo!

Since Hubs decided to go as a pirate, I put some black eyeliner and eye shadow around his eyes to give him that smoldering pirate look. Hubs isn't a big fan of makeup, but he knows that my skills are far superior, so he trusted me...sort of. I think when this pic was taken, he was probably saying, "This better make me look like a pirate, and not a drag queen."  Ha ha!


I think I did him proud! Here's my swarthy pirate!  


My friend Kelly came in town for the weekend. Her mom made her this cat in the hat outfit! Aren't her whiskers a hoot?!


This is my friend Jennifer, who came as the game "Twister". She made this awesome costume!  Isn't it ingenious?! She has become one of my closest friends here in So Cal.  :)


Here are some shots of Hubs and I doing the Lindy Hop:



It was a fun night!  Arghh, matie!


Friday, November 07, 2008

What is she smiling about?


It's simple really: "Maybe if I sort of half smile at him a little flirty-like, he'll be too distracted to hear me when I break wind riiiiiiight now.  Phew! It was a silent one. Why did I cook chili for dinner the night before my portrait sitting? That's right Leo! Here's lookin' at you, kid."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Generational

Yesterday, I had to go my local Toyota dealership to have an extra key made. When we bought my car, it only came with one key, and we decided it would be wise to have a second key for Hubs to have on his key chain, especially if we were to lose the only key we have.

When I arrived at the dealership, I was informed that the make and model of my car was manufactured to require a key that has a special chip inside that must be programmed for my car. The bottom line was that the key would cost $200, but they would be kind enough to sell me the key at cost for a mere $137 + tax!  *GULP!* I called Hubs and we decided to go ahead and get it.

Then I waited for two hours, after they told me it would just be an hour.  

And then, they decided to throw me a curve ball that I was not at all prepared for.  Apparently, there would be an additional $100 labor charge on top of that, bringing the grand total to $247...for a key!

I am a real sweet girl, but I have learned that if you put me in a pressure cooker situation, if you try to take advantage of me, or if you cross me, all of that sweetness just melts away, and a fierce angry woman emerges. And she is a force to be reckoned with. 

My heart started beating, my face got hot, and my voice was shaking. But that shaking voice was powerful and firm as it told the slick car salesman that I would be happy to walk out of there without my key. And I would be happy never to bring my business there again. And I would be happy to tell my friends and neighbors to bring their business elsewhere.

Gentle reader, I am pleased to tell you that the dealership decided to hand over the key and told me that they would take care of the $100 labor charge.

As I recounted this story to my sister, I told her that as awful as the interaction felt, something about it showed me my own strength. It showed me my limits and who I am. And it showed me what I have inside. Power to say "Enough!"

My sister replied by saying, "Maybe God is using the experience to prepare you for motherhood."

I had to laugh because my mom always said, "I'm a real nice lady, but if anyone messes with my baby bears, they will have Mama Bear to deal with, and it won't be pretty!"

I'm pleased to be realizing that the apple doesn't seem to have fallen too far from the tree! 

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

If you could tell the newly elected president one thing, what would it be?

Dear Barack Obama,

Congratulations on your win!  Even though we don't see eye to eye on all things political, I'm very happy for you. When I was watching news coverage of election day, tears of joy filled my eyes as I saw scenes of African-American voters hugging one another at the poles after they cast their votes for you. Tears filled my eyes again as the throngs of people filled that Chicago park and celebrating commenced. The tears in Jesse Jackson's eyes said it all, and it was truly beautiful. This historic victory has been a long time coming, and it is something I absolutely celebrate with you!

I thought your speech tonight was inspiring and full of hope. Thank you for saying that you would be hearing the voices of all Americans during your time in office. If we were to meet personally, this is what I would want you to hear from me:

During your presidency, you will likely have the opportunity to appoint a few Supreme Court Justices. During this campaign, I heard you voice how important it is for you to appoint justices who will uphold Roe v. Wade. I heard you say that one of your reasons for being pro-choice is because you are the father of two daughters and that if one of them ever made a mistake and became pregnant, you wouldn't want her to be "punished" with a baby.

You will soon be a man with a lot of power in your hands. Please be sober and thoughtful with how you wield it. When it comes to the abortion issue, I ask that you be mindful of the unborn lives that are taken each day because of abortion.  They are the ones being punished when they haven't done anything wrong at all, and that's not right. To quote you with my absolute favorite thing you said at the Tarheel State rally in Raleigh, NC, "Not only is it not right, it ain't right!"

May God guide you and bless America through you during the next four years.

Sincerely,

Starshine

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Political

Have you voted? I did!

Yahoo! Avatars U.K. & Ireland

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shhh!

"To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." -Elbert Hubbard

I've spent much of my life being a people pleaser, with a bit of an approval addiction. If I just do, say, be what is expected of me, I will be liked. No waves will be made. I'll keep the peace. 

The problem with that line of thinking and behaving is that it doesn't exactly promote a very strong sense of self. It makes one vulnerable to being controlled, and worse yet, not very interesting.

There was a time in my life when I really had to dig deep down inside and ask myself, "What are you so afraid of? Why is the approval of others so important to you?"

Then I took it a step further and realized that the people who I most admire are not the ones who tell me what I want to hear, but the ones who have strong opinions of their own and who aren't afraid to make them known.

Keeping quiet out of a fear of disapproval might be the solution to avoiding criticism, but it certainly isn't the path to really LIVING! One of the ways I have sought to establish my voice in the world is through my blog. There is still the temptation to self-censor out of a compulsion to please others--the temptation will always be there. Still, this is my forum for self-expression, and it has been useful in giving me a place to make my voice heard.

"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through and other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open." -Martha Graham

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Winds of Change

After my parents split up, it was eight years before my mom met anyone she was even remotely interested in. He happened to be our next door neighbor--a single gentleman with a warm heart. He noticed how cute my mom was one day when she was out in her front yard doing some gardening. The next thing I knew, my sister and I were helping her get ready for their first date!

It was such an exciting time. When John came to pick her up for their date, my sister and I let him in the front door and told him how spiffy he looked. "Well, I hate to brag!" was his affable response. It didn't take long for John to win my mom's heart along with the approval of Jilly and myself. We all just adored him.

My mom and John got married on the one year anniversary of their first date. And just like that, a wind of change blew through our home. It was a warm and balmy breeze. John loved us girls like we were his own daughters. I had never seen my mom so happy. After being a family that had been split apart by a divorce, our little trio had become a quartet, and life somehow felt complete and secure again.

Damn that awful cancer. We only had a year and a half with him, and just like that, a cold wind took him away. The quartet was again a trio. It felt like a slap across the face. We were still basking in the joy of mom and John's sweet love story and in the wonder of being a family of four. We couldn't remember what life was like before John, and now reality was forcing us to remember.

Life goes on and time heals. God sustains and comforts our hurting hearts. The trio survived. It has been five years since his passing. We miss him, but we are okay.

Last night, I had a dream about John.  It was so great to see him alive and well, I didn't want to wake up. He looked young and healthy. I've felt so sad today, missing him. I feel gipped that our time with him was so short. I'm sad that he and Hubs never got to know one another. I think they would have liked each other a lot. I can just hear John congratulating him on having the good sense to pick me!

John left an indelible mark on our lives. He spoiled us with his love, and we'll never be the same. I only wish our time with him wasn't so short. 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

First Kiss

Based on a true story...

It was the day before Easter 2006. The boy and the girl had been dating for about a month. They had just spent the whole day together, and the feelings growing between them seemed mutual. He walked her to her door, and --SNAP!-- the girl realized she had locked her keys inside her apartment. She called the landlady, but she wasn't going to be back to the apartment complex for at least an hour.

"That's alright," the boy told the girl. "I'll wait with you 'til she gets here."

"Yea!" the girl thought. "Maybe he'll finally kiss me."

The boy and the girl talked and flirted, and he started to look nervous. He leaned in close and said, "I really like you." Then he kissed the girl. He kissed her good, and she liked it. And she liked him. And she hoped it would be the first of many kisses to come.

And it was.