We're not really tree huggers.

Whew, I'm barely making this post in time. Christmas decorations. Although truth be told, they will stay up far beyond the big day. 

This is my third year to use these decorations and here are three reasons why: 
1. I like what I have...why change it?
2. We are beyond BLESSED, but preachers and teachers aren't made of money. I'm a thrifty nifty girl (I just like to say nifty).
3. I like being creative but it takes a lot of time and that's not how I want to spend it.

I took these pictures with Instagram because again, I don't really know how to use my camera.

I painted the picture on canvas. To me, it's totally obvious what it is but some people (dad...men in general) just don't get it. It's half of a Christmas tree, and I like it. Thank.you.very.much.
I still don't have stockings yet...sigh.

O Tannenbaum...I use red and gold ornaments with our own personal ones sprinkled in. 

This is my centerpiece. I found the idea in a Pottery Barn magazine a few years ago. Mine doesn't actually look much like theirs, but I should give credit where credit is due.

I basically bought the bucket, fake moss, sparkly sticks (great terminology, right?), and ornaments, and found the branch in my yard. I did some sawin' and put it all together.

So there you have it. I didn't take a picture, but Bryan brought home a soap stone nativity from Africa that I love. 

I may not change my decorations for next year, but I do want to add a few things to show that Christ's birth is our focus. He really is, even though it may look like we praise Christmas trees.

Isaiah 7:14 ...Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

I'm so thankful God kept his promise. 
Merry Christmas :)


It's all about...


I have a tendency to complain too much, so I'm always telling myself that. Case in point: Living in Wichita.

I'm kind of obsessed with our families. Can somebody say momma's girl? We have lived in Ta-town for three years and sometimes I wish so badly that we lived in KC and could see them on a weekly basis. Even if I see them once a month, that's only 12 times a year...that's not enough!!

Perspective, perspective, perspective. We almost moved to Kentucky. And Arizona. And North Dakota. North Dakota?!!! Does anyone live there?

So really, a three hour drive isn't much...at all. And we have come to love Wichita...or love the people of Wichita. And our church. People make the place. I know this to be true. 

All of this to say, we make that three hour drive A LOT. We have drove up and back in a day more than a handful of times this year. This past week, we headed north for a Christmas celebration with my dad's side of the family. 

On the road. Stretching out his "tightness." Who does this?!
My grandma was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her behavior can be funny, but mostly it makes me really sad that it's taking her mind. We made sure to make it to this Christmas. I'm not sure how much longer Grandma will remember everyone.
My cutie cousin and aunt. Grandma's on the right. 
My aunt Vicki was the hostess with the mostest. Her and my uncle made a delicious meal and welcomed everyone into their beautiful home. We talked and played b-ball and ate and opened presents. It was good times. 

Al and her boyyy.
Sayin' Grace.
The whole gang.
Dad and his sister and my cousins.
These people fill my cup. Family time is the best.

I think I'll always have a desire to live minutes from my fam. 
But I'm going to take my perspective and be content and know that God has placed Bryan and I here at this time for his purpose. 

Cheers to the faithful Corolla and I-35 Northbound. 


Births and Babes

Are all women great at multi-tasking? And all men are bad, right? That's the way it is here. I can do several things at once or carry multiple conversations...Bryan not so much. That's okay babe, you keep my head from spinning off :)

I'm on Christmas break and loving it. I'm serious, everyone should be a teacher. It's the best. Today I'm knocking out my list. Multi-taskers love lists...duh.

Christmas grocery shopping & rando errands
My birthday was last week, yayyy. I'm 24 but according to my students I look like I'm 16. Awesome. More than ever this year, I've felt like time is speeding up as I get older. It just seems like time is so fleeting. I've also been reading Ecclesiastes so maybe I keep remembering that "everything is meaningless." It makes me very thankful that I have hope in Jesus.
While Bryan was in Africa, I bought myself  this  hair curler. I got it for $100 bucks. Dave Ramsey would be proud. Rarely do I spend a hundred dollars so this is kind of my birthday/Christmas present. It's amazing, people. Go out and get yourself one and master your haggling skills.

Bryan took me to Sabor for my birthday dinner. It's a Latin Bar & Grill. I got the churrasco steak and he got tilapia. Then we went to ColdStone. I may or may not have gone there 3 times while Bryan was gone. I need an intervention...

It was a great birthday. I'm glad to be alive.

We miraculously had a free night this past weekend and went to the Hat (Manhattan) to see our brand-spankin-new nephew.

Introducing mj gant:

Bryan's sister and I have known each other since we were 11 and we were roomies in college. It's ridiculous that she's a mommy...I just can't get over it.

MJ is delicious. We both got lots of snuggly holding time and even went to breakfast with baby and the new parents.

Don't be fooled, behind those smiles is sleep depravity.

We love being Aunt Ashey & Uncle Bynan
 Mark & Laura, we are so excited for your little family! We love you guys :)

Time to knock a few more things off the ol' list.


Puddles in Prague & No Place Like My Driveway

The Europe Finale has arrived. Our last city. Done. Finished. It feels like we're leaving all over again.

Our last train pulled into Prague on Tuesday morning. We found our way to the B&B we were staying at: Villa Sarka. It was very quaint with orange clay tiles and ivy growing up the side. 

We set out for the Prague Cathedral and Castle which were beautiful and very Gothic. An overlook on the outskirts of the cathedral gave us a panoramic view of Prague and included the oldest vineyard in the Czech. 

This stained glass was unbelievable. It was made up of a million tiny shards.

Bryan wanted to take some of these used bottles. My husband the pilfer, I mean pastor.
Dinner time called and we randomly picked Svejk. And, man it was a delicious choice. Bryan ordered beef sirloin with Czech cream sauce and bread dumplings. I got chicken wrapped in bacon with green beans and roasted potatoes. I think I only got to eat half of mine because Bryan kept stealing bites. I'm sensing a trend...

Go here.
Stop drooling.

Unfortunately, on our very last day in Europe, we woke up to rain. It was a bummer. But we braved it in our rain coats sans our nice camera. It wasn't worth hiding it under our clothes or ruining it in the weather, so iPhone pics it would be. We set off to meet up for a free walking tour. Just like the one we did hereHowever, I am a total lamo and looked at the wrong meeting location. So no one was there. And it was way to late to make it to the right place. 

I was so mad at myself and the cold rain didn't help. But Starbucks did and after we shopped around for souvenirs for the fam, we warmed up with a cup of Joe. Thanks, Joe. 

We screamed "tourist" in our rain coats. Worth it. Bryan, you are freaking cute.
Bry has been to Prague before in high school for a missions trip. So we met up with his friend, Joanie who is the director his group worked with. Joanie was better than any free walking tour! She walked us all through downtown and showed us great Czech places and things, like the Old Town Astronomical Clock. It's the oldest one in the world that's still working. Every hour, it "chimes" and the twelve apostles come out. 
This was weird. I guess the fish eat the bacteria off your feet? I'm sticking with soap.
Joanie took us to Havelak for dinner. I forgot to take pictures of what we got, but Bry had fried pork schnitzel with potato salad and I had roasted lamb with garlic, potato dumplings and spinach. Again, we ate well :)

Over dinner, we were able to talk to Joanie about her ministry. She has lived in the Czech for 17 years. She was so down-to-earth and encouraging and asked us about things she could pray for us. Apparently not having my camera really threw me off, because we forgot to get a picture with her :(

After dinner, we went back to the B&B and packed up. Our initial flight back to the states was delayed by an hour. We were certain we'd miss both of our flights in New York and Hotlanta, but God really had his hand on the situation and knew how excited we were to get home. We made both of them!
Is this picture creepy? I can't decide. Anyways, it's the only one we got on the journey home.
Wichita came very late at night. When we got to our house, we were locked out. Seriously. It was SO not funny. It was so funny I was laugh-crying, sitting on our driveway next to my huge-@%# backpack. There's an amusing mental image. After trying to go through several windows, we remembered a friend who had a key.  Thank the Lord!

Our Adventure to Europe was just that: an Adventure. We saw so many incredible sites, met wonderful new friends, ate phenomenal food, and experienced so much. Both of us are immensely thankful that our employers let us take the time off. And we feel so blessed to have been able to save financially for this trip. 

The best part was being with my best friend. Had we EVER spent two, solid, never-apart-from-each-other weeks together? I think not. Someone asked me when we got home if we had any major fights. Major fights, no. Moments of frustration, yes. Bryan and I are a great team. We LOVE being together, doing whatever.

So here's to Europe 2011. We've already got a new list going for next time. Right, babe? ;)
A girl can wish. 


Basil in Basel

Basil has nothing to do with Basel or this post. It just worked and I'm not feeling very creative. Go with it!

It's Sunday evening and I'm gearing up for the week back to school. Thanksgiving was a treat. We were with Bryan's fam. 12 people in one house - that's a lot of family love. It was actually Thanksmas for us. We celebrated both because we won't be together for Christmas.

The hubs is in Africa for two weeks. I like being by myself and getting Cold Stone ice cream whenever I want, but goodness I'm missing him. He definitely makes life fun. I'm exited to hear how God is going to use him and his team to serve the people of Nairobi. 

While he's gone, I'm going to remodel my basement. Okay, not really but this is going to be done soon. I am going to finish Europe blogs though...

After Venice we set off for Basel, Switzerland. Basel is located in the North part of Switzerland right by the Rhine River and minutes from Germany and France. We stayed with Fred and Christina who are the parents of a woman we go to church with. I am so thankful we were able to connect with people over in Europe. It definitely made those places so much sweeter and it was great to make new friends!

Fred and Christina have a separate, awesome guest quarter in their house and we stayed there.
The corner room is the guest quarter.

That first morning, I woke up and went on a run through the Swiss countryside. It was one of the best runs I've ever had. The scenery was breathtaking and it was a perfectly sunny day. Christina made a great lunch for us which we enjoyed with her, Fred, and their son Andreas and included: egg noodles and meatballs, salad, fresh bread, and cranberry sauce. 
Taken with my iPhone on my running path. Mountains in the distance.
The view from Fred and Christina's home.

Their home was gorgeous and they had a saweet IKEA kitchen.

The rest of the day was spent touring Basel. Fred and Christina took us to Dreiländereck. This means Three Countries' Corner and is literally where Switzerland, France, and Germany all meet. We walked in a circle and went through three countries...kind of like Four Corners. From there, we went down to the Rhine River and we took a ferry across to see some extremely old, historic buildings. Many dated back to 1200 and 1300. America is still such a baby nation compared to other parts of the world.

Fred and Christina took us to Les Trois Rois which is the Three Kings Hotel, for coffee. It's a five-star hotel. I think Bryan and I felt like the Beverly Hillbilly's it was so fancy. We had such a wonderful time getting to to know Fred and Christina. They are so passionate about their faith and their ministry and it was refreshing to hear how God is moving in Basel.

The ferry...really cool because it's completely powered by the current.
Our Ferryman. Really cool because he's completely powered by his colors. Taste the Rainbow.

Basel City Hall. In old times, if someone broke a law they stood here and passerbyers made snarky comments to them. I think we should start this again with children. Yes? Anybody?

From the hotel, we walked through downtown Basel a little more. Fred is/was a professional tennis player. Like, he's kind of a big deal. He showed us where he grew up playing tennis at TC Old Boys which is where he won his first national championship and went professional and also where Roger Federer grew up playing. Fred knows Roger. For reals. 

On our last day in Basel, Bryan woke up early to play tennis with Fred. He came back very sweaty so I think Fred worked him pretty hard, haha. I went on a rainy, yet gorgeous run and Bryan and I headed downtown to do some shopping. Mostly, everything was woah expensive, but we did go to H&M and and I got a dress. We also bought some swiss chocolate and cheese, of course.

When we got back to the house, Fred and Christina were gone so we went on a walk and came upon a fun park with a zip-line and a farm with cows. moo. 

Apparently zip-lines make him feel barbaric. Please appreciate his mullet tuft blowing in the wind.

Our walk was so nice and when we got back, Christina made us pumpkin soup. It was so indescribably delicious my mouth is watering just thinking of it. Then we said our goodbyes and Fred took us to the train station. He prayed over Bryan and I and we felt so incredibly blessed to have gotten the chance to know Fred and Christina. Basel was perfect and we are dying to go back.

Our new friends and hosts. Thank you so much!