November 30, 2011


Chapter 1 of Atlas Shrugged:
"Who is John Galt?"
The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum's face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still - as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him. 
"Why did you say that?" asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense.
The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky. 
"Why does it bother you?" he asked.
"It doesn't," snapped Eddie Willers.
He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations and he had no desire to hear the details of this bum's particular despair. 

After I finished reading the Count of Monte Cristo, I have been longing to read another novel. Since high school, I have pretty much only read non-fiction when I'm reading for pleasure. If you're going to read, it might as well be useful, I think. But now every time I pick up a book I just wish it was the Count of Monte Cristo again! 

Last year I attended a seminar at Radiate about how to discuss Christianity with people who believe in objectivism. It correlated with the release of the Atlas Shrugged movie, which the father of the man giving the seminar helped produce. I had heard of Atlas Shrugged before, and even had a copy on my bookshelf that I had gotten for free in college, but I never knew that there was a whole philosphy behind the book. 

It was very intriguing but I felt like I wouldn't be able to understand it completely until reading the book myself. A challenge, seeing as my copy of the book is 1069 pages long and is probably written in size 8 or 9 font. I pretty much forgot about the book until I started organizing my books at our new living space. I decided to keep it out just in case I decided to read it. 

Like I said, since the Count of Monte Cristo I have thirsted for good literature and a good story. When I read the opening of the book, I decided I'm in! It's the best writing I've experienced since high school (when I actually read literature), or maybe ever. No detail is spared - I can completely imagine the scenario, including knowing exactly what each person is feeling. Plus I'm so intrigued to find out what Ayn Rand believes, and how she put her ideas into a story. 

Since raising support isn't always that demanding of a job (at least, we're working from home which is not very stressful - no commute!), and we're not fully engaged in our lives being in the midst of this transition, my goal is to finish reading it before we complete our support. So I've got about 3 months (hopefully)! If you want to read it too, let me know and we can talk about it together and keep each other on pace! If you've already read it, share that too! Whit only knows of three people who have read the whole book. Hopefully in a few months he'll know four! :)

Movie Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox truly is a fantastic movie. I picked it up on Black Friday from the $4 bin at Target, intrigued by the cast and Roald Dahl’s name on the cover. Despite not hearing anything about it beforehand, it turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. With an original film-making style and a solid cast, this PG, animated film breaks new waves in uncharted movie genre territory. It is strange, hilarious, and surprising. Yet it’s pulled together with well-developed characters that you fall in love with through their curious human-critter mannerisms and dialogue, and a storyline that carries consistent themes and supplies a resolute ending. 

I want to watch this movie again not only because the filming style won’t phase me as much since I’m more familiar with it now, but also to reap the benefits of the jokes and plot-line again, and especially to note once more all the quirky faces that are made off-side. The characters, lines, and gestures are entertaining throughout, which is much more than I can say for most movies which I re-watch simply because I have no other good options. If you need someone to watch it with, I would love to show it to a group of people – it would be just as enjoyable to listen to everyone’s reactions to the uniqueness of this innovation.

Score: A+

November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Highlights

- Standing out in the cold for half an hour, trying to bear the wind with only a t-shirt and cardigan, to shop the J.Crew factory clearance (It was worth it! I found a bathing suit for Whit that I wanted to buy there previously...and it was only THREE dollars!!)

- Had Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner with my family in Lynchburg (including Nathan, our other brother)
- Spent the night at Evan & Courtney's & played lots of Play Nine

- 48 people at my cousin Julie's house for Thanksgiving lunch (in Roanoke with my mom's side of the family)

- Baked my first tart! Chocolate was a success :)

- Drove for about 12 hours total between Richmond, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Nags Head

- Saw The Muppets (I definitely recommend it! I hadn't heard "The Rainbow Connection" since I was 5 years old listening to it in bed before I went to was so sweet to hear it again :))
- Shopped Black Friday midnight sales (When we got back to Richmond at 1:30am Friday morning there was STILL a line at Best Buy!)

- Saw ALMOST all of Whit's extended family in Nags Head

- Finally went to see the sand dunes!

- The Hokies creamed UVA! As it should be ;)

November 21, 2011

Thankful for Family

Ugh, I feel like I haven't updated in forever. I was on a roll for awhile there! Sometimes there's just not much to say, you know?

Today was a full day, about to give way to a full week, but I'm so happy about it! My dad's new job is in sales, which enables him to travel more to see his children! Since my mom's job is home-based, she gets to travel with him! This week my dad had to be in eastern Virginia for business; my mom is traveling with him and they decided to stay at a hotel by the mall about ten minutes from where we live! 

Last night I went over to the hotel and hung out with my parents for a little while, and today Whit and I got lunch with my mom, hung out a little, and for dinner we all went to my cousin's restaurant, Chiocca's. Tomorrow I'm getting up early to go shopping and get lunch with my mom! We'll take Lady (their dog) too - girl's day out! :) 

I looking forward to the rest of this week, too, when we'll get dinner with Evan & Courtney and my parents in Lynchburg, spend the night at  my brother's, and see our extended family in Roanoke for Thanksgiving. Then we'll go to Nags Head to spend time with Whit's extended family! It'll be a busy week, but I'm so glad I have great family to spend it with! It was such a special blessing to get to see my parents before Thanksgiving, too, since they live so far away now. Thanks be to God! :)

November 19, 2011

Christmas Card Sneak Peek!

Twice As Merry Christmas Card
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November 16, 2011

Thankful for Rain

Is there a better way to wake up than to the calming sound of rain outside your window? Correction - is there a more lazy, snuggly way to wake up than to the calming sound of rain outside of what would otherwise be a too-bright-for-morning-eyes window? It makes me want to sleep in and pretend like it's the weekend. ;)

I'm thankful that God nourishes the earth with rain. It's wet and cold and sometimes dreary, but it causes the fruit of the land to grow and quenches the mouth of the thirsty. In the midst of rain in our lives we can look to a glorious mighty God who is working for us.

May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. - Deut. 32:2

They waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths as for the spring rain. - Job 29:23

The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. - Deut. 28:12

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. - Isaiah 45:8

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. - Isaiah 55:10-11

November 15, 2011

Wait and Hope

"All human wisdom is contained in these words: Wait and Hope. - Edmond Dantes, the Count of Monte Cristo"

How true are these last words from Alexandre Dumas' the Count of Monte Cristo. I just finished reading this book a couple of days ago. I thought I had read it in high school, but when I started reading it again a few months ago I remembered that our teacher only assigned us a few chapters (makes sense, we were only in 9th grade), so I had never read the whole book! I knew I loved the story though, and couldn't remember much of it, so I decided to read it since I have a little more time on my hands in this stage of life. 

I got to the end and as the last chapter wrapped everything up in these words, I was amazed. I never knew it was a Christian book! I knew it was a book about vengeance and anger, and honestly wasn't looking forward to the end very much because I thought I would disagree with the moral. I was pleasantly surprised when I read Dantes' summary of his experience - how he trusted in God, sought revenge on the part of the Lord, overstepped his bounds, and yet God was still with him and pardoned him despite his mistakes.

I don't necessarily agree with Dantes that the sum of all wisdom is to "wait and hope," but these words definitely resonated within me. As Dantes waited on God for many long years trapped in his dark cell, as Valentine spent the night in a coffin, as the Count of Monte Cristo had patience in taking his revenge, so do we wait and hope for God to rescue us. All of history is built around earthly patience, waiting for the redemption that will save us from the curse. Now that Christ has come, we rely on the hope that He gave us that He will return and take us to the place He is preparing for us.

I'm thankful that God can use a fictional novel to encourage me in my walk with Him, that I can be reminded to continue to wait on God for all the provisions He will treat us to in the future. I was encouraged to think that even though I don't know what our life will be like in Philly, if I'll like where we live, or if I'll make friends, I can trust that God is writing my story. He has a good plan for me, and He will take care of me if I wait and hope on Him.

November 12, 2011

Foggy Fall Morning

I love rain. Particularly because right after it rains, the world is so much prettier. Somehow the rain has the magic to make colors so rich, and everything looks beautiful. The other day I woke up in not-too-great of a mood. I went downstairs to eat breakfast and looked out the window, saw this, 
and immediately cheered up. I grabbed my camera and took a stroll around "the plantation" to capture some of the vibrant colors on this subdued morning. I love little blessings from the Lord, who knows just what I need - in this case to get outside and refresh by taking in His lovely creation!

November 11, 2011

Classical Woodland Christmas Tree Theme

I was browsing Target today on my day off, just taking in all the things they recently put out for Christmas. I saw this lovely rattan star and got a great idea for a Christmas tree!

Last year we just had all my old childhood ornaments. I love them, but I think our family needs a tree that doesn't have plastic Sesame Street characters! Sadly, this year we won't get our own Christmas tree, but it is kind of nice that I'm not obligated to buy any ornaments before Christmas, and after the holidays I can buy everything I want on sale!

I'm the kind of person who likes to buy one of every random thing I see that I like, and it's fun that way, but doesn't look very coordinated. I'm trying to get better about that! Whit would love a beautifully decorated tree, so I wanted to come up with someone that he will think looks good! 

I call the theme Classical Woodland (it's fun to name it). It will have rattan ornaments, solid red decorations (like a garland), and sparkly silver ball ornaments. This way it will have all the classic Christmas colors, with not much distraction. Of course, the green will be the tree itself! I was just going to call it the classic woodland tree, because I think this idea will last for a long time without getting old (the woodland comes from the homey feeling it will remind you of). However, there are two other ideas I want to incorporate! One from Pottery Barn, and one from Pinterest. They both involve Christmas sheet music! Thus, the Classical Woodland tree.

Here's the inspiration board! Come quickly, next year!

November 10, 2011

Anniversary Design

Pinterest has certainly inspired me to be more creative lately. It sparks my mental energies! (What am I, an elementary school art teacher? Please excuse that last strange sentence.) I like it though, because it gives me something to work on that isn't researching vacation spots, housing for next year, or making an album on Shutterfly. 

I was thinking it would be fun to have something from each year of our marriage to look back on, to see how our lives were at the time. I came up with a bunch of questions that would be consistent, fun things to know about our lives that we could answer each year. Call it a Life Assessment. What did you do during the year, what is your life like now, where do you want to go? 

The original idea was to make a cute graphic chart with space to answer each question, without having the actual question written down because a picture would illustrate it. It looked cute on paper, but my graphic art skills are zero. I haven't ever done anything graphic artsy, except for the occasional random picture on paint. See? This is what I came up with:

I figured it would still be fun to fill out though, and I already made it so what the heck. Then I found this fun graphic design poster someone had made for their friends to display at their wedding, so I used that for inspiration to create this poster, using the answers from our questions!

I'm planning to repeat this each year, because we had a lot of fun talking about our year! Maybe we'll print out the graphic chart again, and I can make another text page afterwards. 

I'm excited to get this printed and framed with the picture(s) we took for our anniversary! I can't wait to have a house to hang it in. :)

November 9, 2011

Thankful for Opportunities to Serve

I wasn't sure if it was ever going to happen again...but I am doing another "thankful" post! I guess posting our anniversary counts, but I did want to do more explicitly thankful posts about more random things in my life.

Anyways...tonight we helped out with the high school youth group at our church. I shouldn't even really call it helping out...we just showed up and didn't do too much, just led a small group breakout session after the lesson (hellooo rhyme). We didn't get there early enough to hang out with the students beforehand, so I was hoping they would break out into groups afterwards so we'd get a chance to talk to them. 

One of the adults that had led a group before wasn't there this week, so we got her group, and they were so great! They just opened right on up to us! Like I mean, sharing real, personal stuff. It was so awesome! It was so different than when we were in youth group. The time was focused on Biblical knowledge way more than what's going on in your life. And as far as my friends and I went, we didn't have that serious of problems going on. But these kids felt totally comfortable sharing with us, which was really cool. They also sounded very serious about their faith, talking about praying more throughout the day, sharing their faith, and just encouraging one another. 

I'm so glad we got to go tonight; we're normally working Wednesday nights but this week was slower for us. We're trying to help get a mentoring program started with the high school students, so we wanted to kind of scope out the situation. I would definitely say there are some guys and girls would benefit from it and be interested (hopefully!).

I am so glad tonight went so well, and even though I was looking forward to getting involved in our church more through the mentoring program, I'm even more excited about meeting with the girls now because the ones I met are wonderful! Praise the Lord that this is working out so well - the lady from our church is trying to start this up and we are here at just the right time, to offer help to them with what mentoring looks like (because that was our job the past two years!), and it's the perfect way for us to get involved for the time that we're here.

November 8, 2011


Let me take this opportunity to give your day a break and make you go "aww" a million times over the adorable-ness of these precious critters! Simply for the sake of cuteness.

For more animals to melt your heart, click here!

November 7, 2011


We celebrated our anniversary a day early so that we could still work Saturday morning and Sunday evening like we normally do. However, that meant coming back on our actual anniversary day and not having that much to do. Fortunately, our wedding album arrived the day before (right after we left actually), so we got to look at it on our anniversary day!! Praise the Lord - great timing! :)

We are getting an awesome album from our wedding photographer, but since we only got to have 50 pictures in it, I wanted to go ahead and make my own album that showcased all the pictures from our wedding that I love. Now I have all my favorite pictures in one place (and not on the computer!). I love our book, it turned out great. The 12x12 is way bigger than I was expecting (the other books I have from Shutterfly are 8x8), but it's perfect for a wedding album.

Here's a peek!

(I would include more pictures of layouts, but Blogger flipped them vertically! Does anyone know if there's a way to rotate pictures on here??? I don't know why it will just randomly decide that one of my pictures is vertical when it is not!! Seems like I could decide that for myself.)

November 6, 2011

Anniversary Celebration

To celebrate our anniversary, yesterday we went to 3 Lakes Park to walk around. We had a mini photo session.

Then we checked in at Hotel Sierra, the hotel we stayed at last year on our wedding night. We didn't get as sweet of a room this time around since it wasn't free via skymiles, but our room was still very nice.
I love this hotel - it's so modern and clean. They did such a good job with the design and aesthetics; there's nothing at all that is unattractive or annoying.
Our room had a little kitchenette. I loved it! It was like one of those little kitchens in Ikea. It was so tiny but had everything - microwave, stove, dishwasher, fridge, pots & pans...I would have been completely satisfied had it been my own kitchen.

Then we walked across the hallway, down the stairs, and it was a straight path to Pottery Barn in Short Pump mall! I showed Whit their beautiful Christmas set-up that I had checked out the day before, and we relaxed on their couches before it was time for dinner at Casa Grande, which is now Mexico..what?

Since we're hoping to go to Phish's New Year Eve shows, we decided to not spend so much money on our anniversary, so we got Mexican - perfect because we love it and it's cheap! I ordered a Malibu & coke to remind me of our Jamaican days lounging in hot tubs and at the beach. 

We went back to the hotel to cozy up by the fire pit before getting dessert.
Then we walked around the mall to find Cold Stone, where we shared a delicious banana ice cream creation. Since we had Cold Stone ice cream cakes for our wedding, I thought we could just buy another cake for our first anniversary, that way we could re-create the experience like most people do, but wouldn't have to worry about transporting the cake after our wedding. After looking at the price of the cakes and thinking about the future, we decided we'll just buy Cold Stone ice cream every year on our anniversary! That way we save money this year and get lots of ice cream!

Back at the hotel we enjoyed the hot tub before getting a good night's sleep due to my friend Daylights Savings Time! Yes! 

This morning we enjoyed the delicious free breakfast buffet before heading back to reality. We got to do everything we wanted to, and it was great to get away from our routine and spend some time together. It was a great mini vacation and a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary! :)