how i almost got arrested in Italy

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Remember that time I went to Europe as a teenager? Twice?

A few weeks ago, I alluded to the time I *ahem* almost got arrested in Italy 8 years ago. A few of you begged to know the story, so I dug it out of the recesses of my memory.

It’s not what you might think, actually. In fact, there wasn’t even any alcohol involved.

Whew, okay, Dad, you’ve calmed down now.

My first time to Europe, I was 19 years old. I had just finished my second year of college, and I was (unbeknownst to me), 4 months away from getting engaged to my boyfriend, now husband. I was able to go on the trip in place of college credit, so it actually offset the cost quite a bit, making it more than worth it (like going to Europe isn’t worth it enough!).

The day we arrived in Athens, I felt like I was living in a dream. For a classically educated student who had been studying Italy and Greece since the age of 11, I couldn’t believe my luck. But there were a lot of new things to get used to. I got to experience jet lag first hand on the first evening when I accidentally tripped on a tall flight of marble stairs and fell the entire way down.

However “school smart” I was, I was woefully unprepared for the big bad world. We were given small bits of advice about how to deal with the local culture (in Italy, it was, “don’t look men in the eye or they’ll think you’re coming on to them”), but I underestimated some things about how extra vulnerable a small blonde haired blue eyed girl would seem. It didn’t help that our first week was all spent in Greece, mostly Athens, which is ranked as one of the safest cities in the world. The culture is super warm and accommodating, and most of the population are devoutly religious, keeping crime super low, especially for a large city. But we soon learned that not all Europeans were as respectful as the Greeks.

The first part of my education occurred when our cruise ship (yes, a week of the trip was a cruise around the Mediterranean!) stopped at the island of Rhodes. My friend and I were by ourselves, in the middle of shopping for souvenirs, and a local guy walked by us and made a comment about how much he liked my hair. “So BLONDE” he smiled. I laughed and said thanks, and kept walking. About 5 minutes later, my friend noticed that the guy was following us, about a block behind. We walked faster. He walked faster. It was a pretty crowded market place so we weren’t scared, but we didn’t want an awkward encounter. When he didn’t stop, we decided to run. We got some distance on him and ducked in a small alley/set of stairs. A few minutes later, we saw him run by us, shouting, “Wait! Blonde hair! Wait!” Creepy.

I acknowledged that this was a bit weird, but I thought it might have been a one time thing.

When we got to Turkey, our education continued when we got on the tour bus as a group. Our tour guide, a native, started talking about all of their tourist attractions as we drove around the city. At one point, he said, “Yes, yes, we were all very sad to hear about that 9/11 thing in your country. Very bad for our tourism business over here.”

You could have heard crickets on the bus– we were all staring him down. This was 2005. A bus full of Americans. Um, it was bad for business? How insensitive was this guy? He quickly added, “Uh, yes, we were also sad because it was such a TRAGEDY! Yes!” Jerk.

Later that day, when we were all buying souvenirs (and mom and dad wonder why I ran out of money!) on the main strip in front of the ruins, another friend and I stepped into a small dark shop full of rugs and started looking at their shoes. They had a BUNCH of rip-off brands, and we were mildly interested. After a few minutes, we realized that if we didn’t leave now, we would miss the ferry back to our ship. When we tried to go back up the stairs and out the door, the big Arab dude who owned the shop blocked our path. “BUY SOMETHING”, he said in broken English. We laughed, and said no thanks. But he didn’t move out of the way, he just kept glaring. We went back and forth like this for a few minutes, us trying to leave, him getting in our way in a menacing manner. So I found something that I liked and we bought it quickly, no longer having any fun whatsoever. In the end, we barely made it back to our boat.

I didn’t feel so bad about being forced to buy something when we heard that another Arab had tried to, get ready for this, BUY one of the girls in our group. He offered our leader a CAMEL in exchange for buying her as his wife. WTF???

All this lead to my education as we made our way to Italy. After visiting Rome, we made it to Florence. It was at this point, due to circumstances, that our leaders decided to cut our day trip to Pisa, a 2 hour train ride from Florence.

I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that we were going to come ALL the way to Italy not to even see the Leaning Tower.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was super disappointed.  A group of 7 of us were given permission to skip out on one of our days in Florence and take the Fast Train to Pisa. We got instructions, and off we went.

Despite all of my sketchy encounters thus far, I figured I would be safe because we were in such a large group. We even had 2 big guys with us.

Buying our tickets for the Fast Train seemed easy. Too easy. But we didn’t know any better, because, for the first time, all of the signs were exclusively in Italian (everywhere else, especially at all the touristy spots, the instructions were also in English). We were about to learn the hard way why the government does this.

We got on the train. We made it to Pisa and had an absolute blast!

It was on our train trip back that we got into trouble. A security guard made his rounds on the train, checking tickets.

He made it to my friend and me first.

“Tickets, please.”

We held out our tickets obediently.

He grinned. “You did not get them validated.”

We were confused. “Sir, we paid for them. No one told us we had to do anything else?” Our friends across the aisle were equally perplexed.

He grinned again, and held up a laminated, ready to go card, ALL IN ENGLISH. It outlined how tickets are not valid until they have been hole-punched by a special machine at the gate.

I felt cheated, as well I should have. There was not a single English sign indicating this, ANYWHERE on ANY of the platforms. I knew then that this entire thing was designed to get non-Italian speaking tourist money.

“Sir,” I tried again. “We were not aware of this, but we DID pay for our tickets, as you can see!”

He grinned. “Rules are rules,” he said. “You have to pay the fee for not getting your ticket validated.”

I looked at the card. The fee was 30 Euros, PER TICKET. That’s $60! For a traveling student on a budget, this was basically my dinner money for the next two days.

But the evil man was not done there.

“If you don’t pay the fee,” he said, holding our tickets in his hands. “I am going to throw these away and tell the police you did not pay at all! How would you like that?”

My friend, who had been holding her temper this entire time (she was a bit fiery), lost it here. She reached up, and snatched the ticket back from him.

“No you won’t!” she hissed.

The guard looked astounded. He tried to grab the ticket back from her.

I kid you not, but they actually got into a tug-of-war contest with the ticket. After a few seconds that felt like an eternity, it ripped down the middle, both of them holding a different half.

Two of our friends across the aisle started singing, in loud voices, “God Bless America.” It would have been hilarious, if I wasn’t so scared.

“QUIET!” the guard snapped. Then he looked back over at us.

“You give me the money RIGHT NOW, or I call the police and tell them you never paid at all!”

I looked down at my purse, wondering if I even had enough money. I knew that my friend didn’t.

Then, I saw the scariest thing yet. My friend’s hand was clenched, fingers pulled in, ready to punch.

I freaked out. In that brief second, I saw us going to jail for assaulting a train guard.

I quickly pulled as many Euros as I could out of my purse and practically threw it at the guard. He laughed and didn’t even count it. At this exact moment, our train stopped at a station. He walked straight to the exit and got off at the platform.

As we pulled away, we saw him on the platform with one of his guard buddies, waving my money and laughing. My friend saw this and yelled some not very pleasant things out the window as we pulled away.

Later, when we got back to Florence and told our tour guide everything that happened, she shook her head sadly and said, “Ah, yes! I forgot to warn you about this. They set it up in order to catch tourists who don’t know any better. I am so sorry.”

Apparently, our professor used to tell this story as a cautionary tale whenever he took other groups of students to Italy.

So….there you have it. The time I was almost arrested in Italy! Anyone else have any crazy stories from traveling?

30 Things Even YOU Didn’t Know About Me

The good, bad and the ugly. Just keepin’ it real here, people.

1. I used to have a GIANT silver dollar-sized raspberry birth mark on my lower lip. It didn’t go away until I was 7.

2. I was sent home one day in Kindergarten for KISSING A BOY. His name was Todd. I remember the conversation with my mom, and I just kept saying, “But MOM! He was so CUUUUTE! I just HAD to kiss him!”

My 1st year of Kindergarten

My 1st year of Kindergarten

3. I attempted to try out for a musical in junior high. I got so nervous, that when it came my time to sing, it came out like a squeak. I ran off the stage crying.

4. When I got my Kindergarten shots, I was so scared and outraged that I kicked the doctor square in the nose with my shoe. They had to bring a few nurses in to pin me down and give the shots in my leg. They hit a nerve and I was unable to walk for a week.

5. I used to take my brother’s stuff and sell it back to him in order to get his allowance money. When that didn’t work, I would convince him that nickels were worth more than dimes because they were bigger, thus our “trades” were in his favor.

I convinced Keith to do many things, back in the day...

I convinced Keith to do many things, back in the day…

6. I was once a cheerleader. I was also politely asked to quit. Long story.

7. I did gymnastics for a few years as a child, and then again in college.

I was always doing flips off of furniture...

I was always doing flips off of furniture…

8. For a few years in a row, my friends and I pogo-sticked the entire Templeton parade route!  I mastered a few tricks, like jumproping while pogosticking! I actually tried a cartwheel with the pogostick…didn’t end well….. My goal was to break the world record, which was something like 15 hours straight. I made it to 2.

pogosticking, 1995?

9. I have always been gung-ho about the pro-life movement. When I turned 8, I had all of my friends bring baby stuff for the pregnancy care clinic instead of presents for me.

10. I hated jam, yogurt, and pizza growing up. My mom used to pack me special lunches whenever I went to birthday parties because I was so picky.

12-13 years old, inner tubing

11. I have been reading since I turned 3. I used to bring chapter books to preschool because I wanted to impress the snot out of people. Instead, I was always alone.

12. I went to Europe on two different occasions. Both times, I spent over $300 in phone calls to Jesse.

On the Eiffel Tower, 2006

On the Eiffel Tower, 2006

13. I couldn’t figure out what to title my first Torrey paper. Jesse threw out “Destiny’s Children” as a joke, but I thought he was serious. I failed that paper. The title also made the “Top 10 worst Torrey paper titles” list for the program. Yup, I’m kinda famous.

Big Sur 2003

Big Sur 2003

14. My friends and I made it a point to go clubbing in every major city that we visited in Europe. We nearly succeeded, until we got lost near the Moulin Rouge at 1am. As a mom, I look back and can’t believe how stupid we were and that we survived.

15. I was heavier in high school than I was in college. Kinda bass-ackwards.

16. When I was 12, I wrote a letter to the CA state senator asking her to make abortion illegal.

17. I interned at a pro-life clinic for 2 years in college.

18. I used to be really good at the violin. I played for 4 years, and even used to perform on Saturday nights at a local bar with my fiddle teacher!

19. I won a magazine story writing contest when I was 10.

20. I was always coming up with ways to earn money. Once, I convinced my friend to dress up like an orphan with me. We went door to door singing for money. We made like $10! My mom made us give it all back when she found out.

21. I was homeschooled for 4 years and loved it!

22. I broke up with Jesse for 3 weeks at the end of my freshman year of college. I had just turned 18, and I was super scared about how serious our relationship already was. Those were the most miserable 3 weeks of my life. When I told him I wanted to get back together, he said, “Well, I’ll have to think about it”. OUCH.

2 years later! So glad he didn't give up on me! :)

2 years later! So glad he didn’t give up on me! 🙂

23. I FELL ASLEEP during my second don-rags (read: massive final that decides your semester grade) in Torrey. Years later, I heard freshmen talking about, “that one student who actually fell asleep” and I said, “Hey, that was ME!” They were not impressed.

Freshman year, 2003 with roommates

Freshman year, 2003 with roommates

24.  I was almost arrested in Italy. Long story.

25. I used to go swing dancing 3-4 nights a week.

26. As a kid, I was bit by a dog. I was terrified of them for YEARS, and would even walk the long way to the mailbox so I didn’t have to pass by our neighbors who had a dog.

27. My first year of life, I had 2-3 ear infections every month. I was ALWAYS sick. No one knows why, I just eventually grew out of it.

1989 Kelly

28. I was bit by a spider in high school and had to go to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics several days in a row.

29. I used to have dozens of pet rats! I loved them so much!

30. My left foot is HALF A SIZE bigger than my right!

The Story of Our House

Everything from November-February was kind of a blur in our lives, and I’ve recently realized that I never wrote out the story of how we found our house.

I bring this up now because I find myself so grateful for God’s providence in this area. I told Jesse the other night that if I’ve ever had a “Gideon and the wet fleece” testing moment with God, it was this past year. At one point, I actually told God in no uncertain terms that He had abandoned us, and there was no hope, despite how hard we had worked to follow His direction.

I’ll get to all that in a moment. I documented a few of our housing ventures (here, here and here at the beginning of this year, including our desire to wait until summer 2013 (now) to start house hunting again, after our first escrow in April 2012 fell through, just DAYS before Anthony was born.

All that resolve to “wait” changed when we met Caitlin and we decided to become her parents. Legally, we were not allowed to be her guardians if she had to share a bedroom with the boys in our 2 bedroom townhouse (which we loved so much! Only $1100/month, most utilities included, walking distance to work! Talk about a money saver!).

So we jumped the house hunt into high gear. That’s when all the devastation started. Every offer we made was rejected. And housing prices started to rise– FAST. I felt like we were on the Titanic, watching the water rise around us, unable to do anything about it.

We had our offer finally accepted on the “Bedbug House”, as we affectionally started calling it. As problem after problem started to surface with that house (it was even involved in a lawsuit, which meant that no escrow company would even secure the title! Talk about sketchy/scary!), we made some drastic changes in our approach. We were tired of living in Limbo, tired of trying to parent a very troubled teen from afar, while living mostly at my parents’ house once again (even though we were still paying rent at our place).

That’s when Caitlin’s old foster mom of 7 years, also a realtor, offered to start bidding on homes for us ALL CASH (she’s quite wealthy). The plan was that she would pay all cash for a bank owned property (90% of the market here were short sales or foreclosures), and then we would buy it from her. This plan gave us a few huge benefits:

1., With an all cash transaction, the process is quite fast, usually 7-14 days. Our situation with Caitlin was becoming SO volatile (more on that someday), that this became a priority.

2. Banks love all-cash offers over FHA or even conventional.

So we started bidding. There were 2 houses in particular that we tried really hard to get. Reasonably, we should’ve gotten them. On one, we bid ALL CASH, no contingencies, $30k over the asking price! But there were 14 other bids in just 3 days, and we lost. How’s that for a crazy housing market???

Nothing. Things fell through time and time again. We were now well into November, 3 months into the process. We were starting to get desperate. We even started putting in bids on homes we hadn’t even SEEN.

Then we found what we thought would be the PERFECT situation for us. A short sale in Paso Robles, built in 2006, around 2200 sq. ft. Due to extreme circumstances, the house was only 2 weeks away from foreclosure. If you know anything about how short sales work, this was BAD NEWS for the seller. All conventional loans take at least 30 days to go through, meaning that the only way to save the house from foreclosure was to pay ALL cash.

Enter us, right???

It looked as though the bank was going to accept our offer. There was nothing else on the table, they started asking for extra paperwork that showed they were serious. Our realtor was 99.9% confident that we were going to get the house and be able to move in 2 weeks.

So, we put in our 30 day notice on our apartment. Only 6 months after moving in, we were packing up again, just a week before Christmas and RIGHT during Finals week at school. We were more stressed than we’ve ever been in our lives.

And then.

The bank shut down our offer. Told us they wanted $25k more than we had agreed on or they were going to auction it off.

We were devastated. The house was already at the top of what we were comfortable paying. $25k more was just not doable. We knew it. We had a sleepless night or two, making the final decision, but we knew we had to walk away.

There were so many tears over packing up our apartment, homeless once again, nowhere to move but back once again to living with my parents (who were complete troopers about the whole thing!).

Merry Christmas, right?

That week, we started looking for house rentals. Our hearts were broken over losing yet another house, one that we thought was so perfect. We had even showed it to Caitlin, something that we had refrained from doing since we knew how hard all this was on her. It had always been our dream to own a home, but we were now realizing that we couldn’t ignore the obvious– NOTHING was working.

And then we got rejected for rental after rental. Someone always beat our deposit by a few HOURS.

This was when I had my “Gideon Moment”. I cried out to God, asking Him how on EARTH this could be happening! “We were willing to wait for a house, for the right time”, I would say. “But You told us to adopt! To take this hurting teenage girl! How are we supposed to do that, without a roof to put over her head?”

I’ve never been in so much despair. I mean that, in all seriousness. I will look upon those 2 weeks as the hardest to date (and if you know anything about how hard things got with our foster care situation, you know that this is a serious claim!).

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Christmas Eve, I spent most of the day in tears and despair. In an absent minded attempt to distract myself, I start browsing Craigslist (hey, it usually makes me feel better!).

On a whim, I decided to check the real estate page. I hadn’t done this in months, because I figured that anything worth seeing would pop up on the MLS page sent to my inbox.

I’ll never forget this moment. I ran across a hastily written ad for a house that was in the middle of renovation. There were only 4 pictures, mostly of the outside.

And then I saw the price. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Why on Earth is it so low, I thought to myself. It was just a tad more than most of the “fixit uppers” we had bid on, only the ad stated that the kitchen and bathroom would be renovated by the end of the month.

I RAN outside to Jesse and showed him the ad. I could see how excited he was.

“Call the guy right now” he said.

“But it’s Christmas Eve!”

“Call him.”

I called Ken, which was his name. He talked with me for a while, heard our situation, and offered to leave his family gathering and meet us at the house in 30 minutes.

Excitedly, we packed up the family and went to see the house, which, as you may have guessed, is our current house. Jesse and fell in love immediately. The entire walk-through, we kept turning to each other when Ken wasn’t looking and making shocked faces.

We told Ken that he would be seeing an offer from us within days. 2 days after Christmas, we sat down with him and drew up an offer with the escrow office. All parties involved decided that we would do the transaction withOUT a realtor in order to save even more on the price. It was a risky move, but we got advice along the way (for the record, I wouldn’t recommend this route for a first time homebuyer. We had been through so many offers and escrows that we knew the process inside and out).

Ken was so great to us throughout the process. For example, the pantry that he installed didn’t come with doors. I told him that with 2 toddlers, the pantry was virtually useless to me without doors. In exchange for us doing the wood staining, he went back to the cabinet maker and had him custom-make some!

Another deal we made: since moving in was our first priority, he let us move in a full 40 days before the escrow was finalized. In exchange for our “rent”, we bought our stove and fridge (we paid around $500 for each of them, so it was a GREAT deal for us!).

And, despite all the hiccups in the escrow process, Ken stuck with us. A fellow scholar (he studied Latin and Greek at UCSB!), he wanted US to have the house, and stopped answering calls from other people who were offering to buy it.

In the end, we got a house for $30k UNDER the market value from the outset. We locked in a great rate, around 3.7%. We moved in middle of February and didn’t pay anything until May, enabling us to do lots of home renovations and projects.

I especially wanted to document this journey because it is such a testimony to me of God’s faithfulness. We ended up with a home that was a million times better than ANY of the ones we bid on. Right after we bought, the market rose 25%, meaning that if we had waited until this summer (OUR man made plan), we would be looking at small condos due to the price change. Also, in the middle of June the feds raised the mortgage rates up to nearly 5%. While that may not seem like much, it would’ve added $100/month onto our payment!

I hope I always remember that despite how hopeless and abandoned we felt, God was right there creating a better plan than we could ever have hoped for.

Valle 31

Mother’s Day

This past weekend, we travelled up to Sacramento to visit Caitlin, our someday-to-be adopted daughter. I haven’t really blogged about it, but about 2 months ago, Caitlin left us to stay in a group home for a little while. She is making significant progress, however, and will hopefully return to us soon!

Until then, we are allowed to visit her as much as our schedule can afford. We decided that since every weekend until mid-June is packed, now was the time! We drove the 6 hours up on Saturday morning, only stopping one time for lunch. The boys were amazing– we couldn’t have asked for more. They slept the entire way!

In the afternoon, we picked Caitlin up for snacks at Jamba Juice, then played at the park. After a little while, we went to dinner at Panera Bread, where we ordered something like 30+ servings of mac and cheese 😉

All of my kiddos, together :)

All of my kiddos, together 🙂

After dinner, we dropped Caitlin back at her house, then drove 10 minutes to our hotel. Surprisingly, the boys did quite well sleeping in the same room as us! Gregory got his own queen-sized bed (he was facing a different way each time we checked on him!), and we put Anthony in a pack n play. We have a little trick for making it feel like his own room– tucking it against the wall/ac unit, and pulling the heavy hotel curtain around the sides! Blocks the light and keeps him from seeing us.

Sunday morning, we woke up early, checked out of our hotel, picked up Caitlin, and made it to church in downtown Sacramento (we were even early! Surprises!). Once we were done, we ate lunch at The Habit (such yummy burgers! ILOVEMEAT!!!!), then headed to the Sacramento zoo.

The giraffe came RIGHT up to the fence!

The giraffe came RIGHT up to the fence!

It was about a million degrees hot at the zoo, so although we had lots of water with us, we still headed straight to the nearest Jamba Juice for another “fix”. YUMMM.

After a tearful goodbye with Caitlin (we already miss her soo much!), Jesse and I headed home. We stopped at the Gilroy Outlets (love me some Gap Outlet! Bought some awesome skinny jeans!), and ate a Mother’s Day dinner at Mimi’s Cafe.

We are so exhausted, getting back at 11pm and then heading back into such a busy work week, but we are so glad we did it!

Don’t Let The $&*#s Bite!

And…the adventures continue!

We had an appointment this morning to tour our “Maybe” House with a friend of ours who just got his contractor’s license. He took measurements in order to make an AutoCad drawing (so we can play around with knocking down walls), and did some inspecting for foundation and roof problems. Our “official” inspection won’t happen until we are closer to having the deed in hand.

He didn’t find anything majorly wrong (no leaks, no cracks), but what we DID find was disturbing…

Let me back up. The saga with the current tenants has been a bit epic. We were due to tour the property last Thursday, and the tenants gave our realtor a super hard time about it, cussing her out, hanging up on her a few times, etc. The ironic part was that once we toured the home, we saw tons of Hume Lake and Christian posters everywhere!

Then today when we showed up, the tenants were still there. Super awkward. They had been given 24 hrs. notice to clear out for an hour or two while we conducted our investigation. They were still in the middle of breakfast!

As they were leaving, one of them (the girl who had cussed out our realtor), explained that there were bedbugs on the property.

FUN.

Our realtor decided not to go in, but our contractor, Jesse, my dad and I all went in on a rotating basis, so that someone could be outside with the kids at all times. When we were done, we put trash bags over our seats for the 5 minute drive home. Upon arrival, we all stripped down in the kitchen and took turns bathing the kids and ourselves.

We have a pest inspection guy coming to do a termite and bedbug examination next Tuesday. Bedbugs can cost thousands to eradicate, so we will get a quote from him and simply ask the seller to lower the purchase price by that amount! We never actually saw any, and the tenants have proved that they want to make the house “undesirable” for purchase, since they’re mad about leaving, but it’s good to take threats like these seriously.

Exciting times for the Cones! Here are two pictures that our realtor took of G during one of my “shifts” with the kiddos.

I win “Mom-of-the-Year” award for today. Not only did we rush out of the house without a proper breakfast this morning, but I let him snack on goldfish crackers, AND he drank some of my coffee…

This was when I tried to take the mug away from him. Terrible Twos? BRING IT ON.

Anniversary #6!

6 years ago today, Jesse and I vowed to spend the rest of our lives together. Boy, do we have plenty of adventures to show for those years! Not to mention our adorable offspring.

Jesse knows me so well that he picked the best restaurant ever for the occasion– Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso. They grow their own produce at their farm outside of Paso, and buy everything else locally. Their menu changes weekly, depending on availability. SO ME right now!

After a great dinner with one AWESOME glass of wine and even some beer, we left to rescue my mom and sister from AJ…you see, they offered to babysit. I left a frozen bag of milk, PLUS I pumped some right before leaving (he was asleep). Well, whaddya know, he doesn’t want to take a bottle anymore? Hmm. Granted, he’s only had 4 in his entire life, but his last one was only a few days ago! This little development should make things scary interesting for the next 8 months! Although it has the potential to be a logistical nightmare, a part of me kind of likes that he only wants me…

Anyways, back to rescuing my mom and Janelle from the screaming baby. They drove the 15 minutes to meet us in Paso, so we didn’t need to go far. I was able to nurse AJ (he nursed like he’d never nursed before, seriously. The kid GUZZLED like a tropical fern suddenly transported to the Sahara Desert), then give him back to my mom who drove him home.

The end of our date consisted of getting some frozen yogurt and reminiscing about the past 6 years and setting relationship goals for the next year (c’mon, it’s not a “Cone” date unless there are goals…).

As we drove back, I remarked to Jesse how COOL it is that we have 9 years of memories (6 married, 1 engaged, 2 dating) to look back on. Yup, it’s pretty neato.

Just so you can see how awesome and creative the menu was!

It’s such a cute little restaurant!

The wine was absolutely incredible.

Kale/avocado/mushroom salad

Jesse’s pizza with amazing cheeses that I can’t even pronounce

Rachel’s Water

You should really see this. It will make your day!

 

Sunshine

I just made this and hung it up, all by myself. So.proud!

I got the most beat up board I could find at Home Depot, white-washed it with a light gray and green (2 coats), sanded it a bit, then stenciled the letters on with $2 paint from Michaels! I also bought a 50 pound hanging hook from Home Depot and screwed that in. I made the stencils using, get ready for it, a piece of paper traced over Microsoft Word on my laptop.

I almost went with some “french” saying, since that’s all the decorating rage right now, but nixed it for two reasons. 1. I don’t speak French. 2. Pretentious much?

Instead, I went with one of my favorite lyrics from one of my favorite songs. There’s actually a “Jesse/Kelly” romance story in this one. The fall of my first semester at Biola, just weeks/days before we started dating, we went to Lake San Antonio with our church youth group (warning– people actually DO fall in love during youth group events. Don’t let any teens try to assure you otherwise).

Jesse and I got into a horrible argument while driving up (which poor Tim can attest to, since he carpooled with us). It all started with my need to find a suitable public restroom during the 6 hour drive. Jesse was on a “schedule” and couldn’t be bothered to find a decent one. He wanted me to use the poor excuse for a poo-hole at a gas station. I refused, saying I didn’t want to get HIV from the toilet seat. He wouldn’t budge. So I had to use the gas station toilet, and I was spitting mad. The seat was complete with carvings and tattoos from gang members. There was poo smeared on the walls. I still remember it vividly.

So, by the time we arrived at the lake, we weren’t really on speaking terms. We’d been flirting for weeks, when all of a sudden we just stopped talking to each other. Like that. Over a gross bathroom incident. Haha, actually sounds a lot like marriage…

During “campfire time”, Jesse tried to talk to me, but I deliberately ignored him and even went so far as to start flirting with other guys (did I mention that I was in a bit of a rough place at that time in my life?).

All of a sudden, I heard it– Jesse had picked up his guitar and was singing, “You are my sunshine”, looking right over at me.  Months prior, I had told him that it was one of my favorite songs, mostly because my mom would always sing it to me. I had mentioned that I always felt loved when I heard it.

He totally remembered. It wasn’t quite an apology, but it was close enough for me. 🙂

Our First Day In the Townhouse

We got up and went to church– my first day back!!

Fr. Lawrence met us at the door for the “churching” prayers

Next, he took me around the church to the different icons

After communion, we realized that G was tired when he fell asleep in the laps of two of his “friends”. Everyone thought this was so cute, they all grabbed their cameras and started taking pictures. I don’t think the back half of church heard ANY of the post communion prayers– they were all too busy awww-ing!

We got home, ate some lunch, and then went on a walk to the school in order to time it for Jesse. Just 3 minutes, WITH toddlers in tow! What a tough commute, don’t you feel sorry for the poor guy?

You can see our townhome behind the fence

Then it was time to buy some groceries, so we headed to our trusty Trader Joe’s.

Seriously, how did we ever survive without this store??? How??

Taking a picture of the fam for our friend, Fr. James, who was on the phone with Jesse at the time. Btw…I’ve since told Jesse that he needs to pay more attention to what’s in the background. Awkward.

After Jesse and I unloaded our groceries, I decided to take a picture of our master bedroom, “en-progresse”.

Our duvet cover was just taken from the package yesterday, so it obviously needs a good ole’ trip to the ironing board.

Here’s a picture with a little more light. I haven’t unpacked the lamps that go in this room yet– that silver one was stolen from the living room in case I had any midnight-feeding-mishaps with Anthony

And now, we’re back at my parents for the evening. We don’t have internet until tomorrow, and they were grilling steak, so we couldn’t resist…plus, it’s a 5 minute drive! Why not?

Anthony, aka, King of the Painful Looking Sleep Positions. You can’t have my chiropractor– SHE’S ALL MINE, KIDDO.

Mother’s Day Weekend 2012

This is my second real Mother’s Day, even though I also celebrated one in 2010 since I was pregnant with Gregory at the time. We didn’t have much planned– I’ve been so busy getting things ready for our move this weekend (!!!) that the days have flown by.

The whole weekend was rather nice. Jesse has this wonderful habit of waking up with the kids every weekend and letting me sleep. I didn’t wake up until 11am on Saturday, and when we both woke up with sore throats on Sunday, Jesse stayed home from church and let me sleep in until nearly noon! Moral of the story: sleep=awesome.

We lazed around all day on Saturday, then got “gussied up” and went to our school’s benefit auction. I went a bit late in order to put G to bed (Janelle “sleep-sat” him thereafter), but it was really easy since the auction was literally a 2 minute drive away. Small town living– LOVE IT. It was a fun evening filled with desserts and coffee (as a teacher, my ticket was paid for!), hanging out with Tess who helped me change Anthony’s diapers and kept me company while I nursed in the foyer, and listening to Jesse’s 5 minute speech/introduction to the school’s promo video. So proud of that guy 🙂

As I already mentioned, Sunday morning consisted of me sleeping in, yet again, and Jesse getting up with the kids. Right around the time I rolled out of bed at noon, Brooke texted us saying that the family brunch for my Mother in Law was ready to go. We gathered the kids in quick fashion (aka, it took an hour) and made it to Paso for a lovely breakfast cooked by Brooke! We lounged around with the family, opened a few presents, and even took a nap on the couch (Jesse).

My gorgeous Mother in Law, sporting her new hat!

Sunday evening I finished round 2 of painting our apartment with Janelle and Rachel as my sidekicks. It’s looking so gorgeous….I can’t WAIT to show pictures! All in good time….I still have about 30 minutes worth of edging to do. But I got to meet the owner on Friday evening, which was great because he did a walk through of the apartment with me, asking what type of blinds I wanted, which walls I wanted him to paint, showing me the brand new stain he’d put on the kitchen cupboards and the backyard fence, etc. It was nice to put a face with the word, “landlord”.

Back to Mother’s Day festivities: even though Jesse didn’t have any physical gift for me, he did tell me that he’s arranged for us to go beachfront horseback riding in June once the Dr. gives the “okay”! This is a big step in our relationship– normally, Jesse overthinks the whole “gift giving” side of things and becomes paralyzed. I’m pretty used to either telling him exactly what I want with giant hints, or we go shopping together and he buys me something that I pick out 🙂 He blew away all of my expectations this year by arranging something ahead of time! Again, did I mention that I’m proud of him? 🙂

Lest you think that you might get through one blog post without having to deal with my crazy postpartum sentimentality, I thought I’d throw in a little something about Motherhood. I love it. These boys are crazy, but in such a good way. Every night I fall asleep, wondering if there’s any way I could love them more! And then the next day comes, and, somehow, I fall even more in love. I cannot begin to describe how mushy it makes my heart to see G grow into such a caring older brother who runs to Anthony’s side when he starts crying. I love all his crazy antics, the way he reads his books and says his letters, his adorable chubby cheeks and his HUGE blue eyes and curly blond hair……..and then there’s Anthony, the newest love of my life, who is so cuddly, so tolerant, so serious, and already so handsome! Maybe it’s his full head of hair, but I can totally see what he’s going to look like as a teenager, and we’re going to have to institute a no-dating policy early, I’m sure. In fact, even though they look so wildly different, both of our boys are abnormally good looking, I must say 😉

Overall, it’s a huge challenge, but Motherhood truly is the greatest gig ever.

Sigh. It’s so hard to get G to look at the camera these days! What happened to my little boy who loved to ham it up for the camera? 🙂

The best family pic we could come up with!