Monday, May 18, 2009

the glass blower

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Last year on this day, I told our love story.

Another year has flown by and today my beloved and I are thankful for 12 years of "us."

After getting married young and having a couple of rocky years at the beginning, we entered several years of growing and learning and trying and failing and trying and succeeding and finding our rhythm.

What I realized today, is that we have really entered a great season. It is definitely not without stress, conflict, or situations that highlight our differences.

But it is steady, strong, and full of grace for each other.

Over these years we have both learned a lot and changed for the better. That change has come with a lot of humility and hard work and the desire to always make our marriage better.

And all that change came through various avenues.

Through marriage counselors,
and books
and retreats
and sermons
and good friends who kicked our butts encouraged us to die to our selves.

Through this process, we have both softened. We've removed our heels from the issues that they were digging and dragging in and really worked hard to love each other in the way the other person would hear and feel our love coming through.

Not the way we ourselves would necessarily "hear" love.

It's been a long, hard process for me personally (can't speak for my beloved) because I am such a selfish person who likes to be "all about me."

I mean, it is all about me, isn't it?

But I've learned that a marriage this great takes every day self sacrifice and purposeful care and grace.

Tonight, my beloved sleeps in a bed in a hotel hundreds of miles away from me. We are delaying our anniversary celebration for the weekend, but he sent me a very heartfelt email tonight.

I won't share all the good stuff, but I thought he worded quite well where we are at after a dozen years:

blownglass The best way I can describe it is that we “fit together.” Not in the way a puzzle piece joins seamlessly with another, however more like two pieces of glass that have similar jagged edges and then are melded into one piece with heat and time by the glass blower to make a single piece that, while retaining some of it’s individual, original color and characteristics, has no distinguishable seam.

That is, a single piece of glass that has been tested and worked by the glass maker to create a piece that works together while looking different from most, if not all the other pieces of glass in the world.

I love you Kenyon. You are my Alpha and Omega on this earth.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

we know... big ben.... parliament!!!!!!

I would find it hard to believe if there was anyone out there who has laughed harder and has sweeter memories of the movie European Vacation than my sister Amy and I do.

Leaving Dublin was painful - literally - because we had to meet in the lobby of our hotel at 5:45. Yes, that was in the a.m.

Anyone who wasn't in a middle seat looked like this:P1030901

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Notice I took pictures, because I was one of the only ones NOT sleeping.

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P1030905We were SO pleased to check into our hotel and find this. What a romantic getaway!

Don't worry. Anyone who knows my husband knows he is not one to argue with. After one night in these beds I witnessed one suave sales pitch to the desk clerk who argued that he doubted the manager could get a different room that night because they were so full. Hmmmm....

We had a king size bed that night and the night after.

P1030908That night our group of six slept catnapped dozed nodded off a little sat in the nosebleed seats and enjoyed the musical "Wicked." I had read about 100 pages of the book for book club a few months ago and quit because the writing didn't appeal to me.

The musical was amazing. The script was humorous and the story made sense. The songs were mesmerizing and I wish the London cast had a soundtrack available because I liked it that much.

I won't spoil it, but our professor on this trip summarized it this way, "She was an animal lover who joined PETA and got in trouble with the local law enforcement."

Sidenote for Amanda and Carrie:
Do you notice that I'm NOT wearing the red coat??? I bought a lambs' wool sweater in Ireland (my little splurge, yes in my color) and ditched the coat for nearly the rest of the trip!

Unfortunately for my feet, we were ALL OVER London in the two and a half days that we were there. Here are some of the highlights:

Just for you Amy:

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P1030916Yet another show on our second night: The Lion King. You know the story, no need for me to write a review.

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Let me also tell you how fun it was to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace with about 5,000 other people.

Cute hats boys, but I couldn't wait to get out of there.P1030921

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Kenyon and Dylan had this bet about who could kick trap a pigeon. They would have done it here, but they were afraid the Queen might have been looking out her window.IMG_2015

Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye all in one shot.

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Honey, remember when we made out in the middle of London?

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Trying to soak up some sun on the lawn of Westminster Abby after a week of cold and rain.

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The Tower Bridge taken from the Tower of London grounds. This was the last day of our trip.

Are you sick of cheesy grins in front of major tourist attractions yet?P1030934

Another pigeon incident... hubby claims he was an innocent bystander:London 139

These men are all graduates of the Westminster College MBA program, so we had to stop in the corresponding tube station to get a group picture.

Congratulations guys!

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Friday, May 8, 2009

guinness for breakfast is not a good idea

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On the morning after our epic road trip we had our scheduled tour of the Guinness Storehouse.  Each group of MBA students had scheduled a visit to a different business in Dublin and London and my hubby had been part of Team Guinness.

My poor husband had been going through international calling cards like candy for weeks before the trip trying to get us more than just the standard guided tour through the brewery.  I overheard many conversations where my Beloved was trying to get anyone someone from Guinness corporate to come and speak to the group.

He made no progress and was given the standard line of, "The tour guide will be able to handle all that."  His emails went unanswered and conversations fell flat. 

An Irish name like Kenyon Sweeney didn't even help.

To the surprise of my proud little heart, Mark McGovern, the director of the Guinness Storehouse came in just to speak to our group.

My man delivers.

After Mark spoke to us we put on our headsets and was led through the storehouse by a tour guide (it's so loud in there that they have closed circuit audio so we could all hear her talk).

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Blah, blah, blah... AND here is the sample room.  A few ounces of the finest brew straight from the tap.

The majority of our group of 41 people belong to the LDS faith, therefore, when the bartender set as many glasses on the counter, less than a handful of us partook.

The funny part was that the bartender thought that the group didn't speak English because so few moved forward to grab a glass.  She said that had NEVER happened before.

Kenyon and I tried our best to make up for it.

Here is Team Guinness:  Nate, Brandon, Dylan, Kenyon and RussIMG_1922

IMG_1939As the tour progresses in the storehouse visitors go up one floor to the next until seven floors up there is the Guinness Sky Bar where your ticket earns you a free pint of Guinness.  And you get to drink it with a 360 degree view of Dublin (clouds and rain at no charge).IMG_1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our gracious friends Natallee and Dylan with their Cokes - cheering us on and laughing as we get tipsy.  Did I mention this was all well before lunch?
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This marked our final day in Dublin and that night the six of us walked our tired and aching feet back to the Temple Bar area for one last Irish meal together before we flew to London the next morning.

Irish Beef and Guinness Stew all around!

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

hold the mayo please

Frugal as we are, we had visited a mini-mart on the way to Giant's Causeway to grab some candy junk food coffee soda water sandwiches (and the equivalent of $120 USD to fill up the tiny little minivan's tank - don't complain about US gas prices!). Upon reaching our little van, we broke open our loot and inhaled it on the way to our next destination.

The Brits commonly take butter on their deli sandwiches, so maybe it was an omen when I received a crooked eyebrow from the woman behind the counter for requesting mayo.

Because after a few bites, I noticed a huge glob on my signature red coat. I soon noticed that it was not only on the collar, but also on my sleeve, leg, and the best part...

on my camera lens.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm pretty much blind to anything up close without my glasses. I did my best, but somehow missed the smear of mayo residue in the middle of my lens.

Hence the pictures. There are no ghosts in these areas, merely the mayo that made its permanent mark on our memories. Thank goodness for digital photography - most of these are stolen copied from our friends' cameras.

On our way to the rope bridge, we stopped at castle remains. I can't tell you anything about this castle except that it had a super-cool tunnel underneath that would have allowed boats to pull right in underneath the castle.

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After dodging a groundskeeper who didn't catch us ignoring the signs telling us not to go down in the tunnel, we got on our way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

This bridge links the mainland to a small island and hangs slightly more than 75 feet over the water below. The water was unusually blue and clear and we could see birds diving for food all the way to the ocean floor.

We walked about a mile from the parking lot to the actual bridge and everyone tried to make the crossing as scary and bouncy as possible, but I secretly wished it was a little more dangerous.

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Notice Brandon and Andy in the background screwing around!
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The Dali-Mama made an appearance waiting for the slowpokes on the trail. I didn't know what do do with all my weather gear when the temperatures got warm!
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This marked an end to our road trip. The GPS guided our drive along the country coastal roads all the way back to Dublin.
Our conversation between catnaps was filled with laughter and by the time we arrived back at our Dublin hotel, we all had one of those bonds that could only be created on an impulsive roadtrip adventure.
The next morning we had our official business visit to Guinness (this was an MBA trip, did I mention there were seven business visits?).
It was a true cultural experience to be drunk at 10:30 in the morning.
But you'll have to wait until tomorrow for that story.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

where were we?

We are home from our trip now, hanging on by a thread in a jetlagged haze.  I realize that I left you all hanging when our days just got too long and nights too late to adequately update you.

Then we flew to London and the Hilton wanted to charge us the equivalent of $23 per day to have internet access at the hotel.

No thanks, I'd rather have a nice dinner out.

Anyhoo... so there we were on the verge of 36 hours of free time in Ireland.  We'd seen some basic sights in Dublin and the surrounding areas and had the itch to get out of the city for a while.

At this point we'd already made some great new friends who we really enjoyed hanging out with.  Kenyon's two buddies from various classes Brandon and Dylan were on the trip and Dylan brought his delightful wife Natallee, who is just a sweetheart and we became fast friends.  Brandon's wife did not come on the trip, but his cousin Andy is in the Westminster MBA program as well and completed our "sensational six" that ate and traveled together for the majority of the trip.

The six of us decided that we really wanted to go see the coast of Northern Ireland during our free day, but being a three hour drive, we thought it would be less exhausting more relaxing if we left Monday, spent the night and toured the coast Tuesday.

Commence:  The road trip.

I've decided that the only difference between a road trip at age 19 and one in your mid-30's is the fact that you can rent a car and stay in a nice hotel.

Because for sure, there are very little changes in the conversation and
the humor.

So, we contacted our friendly Dublin Enterprise Rental Car and reserved a Ford Galaxy (minivan that is nowhere near the size and comfort of an American minivan) AND a GPS system.

The GPS was worth more than the car itself to us.  We were not interested in the Grizwald type of travel - arguing over maps and winding up in neighborhoods where we didn't belong.

Only the GPS didn't work when we got in the car.  Our non-deodorant wearing Enterprise rep declared that it was a simple repair - just needing a new fuse - and we'd be on our way shortly.

You can see below how simple it wound up being:

Left to right:  Dylan, Andy, Natallee, Kenyon, and Brandon all waiting patiently anxiously in the repair shop for our trip to start.  We were NOT leaving without a GPS.

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Finally after begging for a different car with no dice, we were sent on our way with lies promises of discounts being given to our bottom line upon our return.

Dangerous crew:  Dylan took the wheel and Kenyon was the navigator (to aid the GPS and remind Dylan to stay on the left).

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I sat with Natallee in the middle.  Natallee is 17 weeks along with their third child, so I think Brandon and Andy felt guilty and gave us the middle row.

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Yeah, they deserved the back row!

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We drove two hours to Belfast, which is not too impressive of a city from the drive through point of view.  After a series of hilarious and indecisive stops, we navigated our way to a McDonald's (free wi-fi) and got on the internet to find ourselves a hotel for the night.

IMG_1820To our surprise, we found ourselves at a BEAUTIFUL Hilton out in the countryside of Belfast set on a gorgeous golf course.

Cheers!  I decided to celebrate with TWO long island ice teas in a row.  See, I told you it was the same as road trips in college!


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The next morning the guys got up early to play a little golf at the hotel while I slept off my hangover got a little extra sleep.  Natallee and I joined them when they were all done and after a nice Irish breakfast we set the GPS for Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway.

Giant's Causeway is an area of Northern Ireland's northern coast where the Irish Sea and the North Atlantic meet.

IMG_1880The Causeway formed as a result of volcanic eruptions. The lava cooled and hardened, it formed layers of basalt rock to become the Giant’s Causeway.  It is by far the most unique natural land formation I have ever seen.

We started out walking on the high cliffs above the coast and then down a steep stairway down to a trail that took us right to the water.  The pictures don't even do it justice.

Here are some snapshots (side note:  this was the only sunny, dry, and relatively warm day we had during the entire visit to Ireland):

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Here is the stairwell we came down:

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This is called the Giant's Boot:

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This is the pipe organ:

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We finished up by taking a bus ride to the cliff tops and getting back in our little blue van to venture to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.  That was an adventure... but it will have to be a post of its own.  I need sleep!

About Me

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Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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