Alison the Graduate

My baby sister is all grown up.

I guess it's about time since people have thought she was older than me since she was 12...and I was 18. 

Yep, it was good times when I took her to decorate her locker for middle school and some of her friends came up to us and asked what teachers I had gotten. "Well children," I replied, "I'll be in college in a few short weeks." (Insert awkward silence)

I blame it on her boobs. She's got them and I don't. Sigh...I digress. 

Well, we traveled to KC for her graduation. It was kind of surreal. It felt like yesterday that I was in my royal blue cap and gown sitting in the very last row just like Ali (thanks for the last name, mom and dad). And I'm sure - like my sis - I was also praying that I wouldn't trip in my heals when I walked across the stage. Although, that would have made for a good laugh.

I love my sister!

Al, you've already seen this letter. But just in case, it's going on the ol' blog to keep safe as a memory. 

Dear Ali,

Today is your day, tiny baby sister. Except you aren't tiny anymore. Your grown and unbelievably beautiful and on the brink of the rest of your life. How exciting! With the little wisdom I've gained, there is so much I want to tell you. I could never say how much I love you or how much good I want for you in a letter. But hear my heart for you today, and know that it is so full with joy and awe for the woman that you are and will become. 

I remember growing up that you were so bold. I mean, I'm pretty sure you used the boys restroom on more than one occasion just because you always wanted to. And you performed an improvisational dance for the talent show one year...who does that? At times, I was embarrassed by your boldness, but that was my own immaturity that wasn't able to appreciate the confidence you had in yourself. As with most of us, I think you've lost a little of your boldness along the path of ''growing up.'' 2 Corinthians 3:12 says, Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. Isnt that amazing? Because of the hope we have in Jesus, we are bold! Ali, I encourage you to be bold and confident in all areas of your life. Seek the Lord for his wisdom and then make the bold choices! It may mean uncomfortable moments and seasons, but you will surely experience the richness of life and the game rather than the safety of the sideline.

Toby, good job sneaking into this picture.
My cousin also graduated. Sarah, you looked beautiful!
Ali, I admire your loyalty to others. You cling tightly to your friends and family and guard them with a mother's love. Other than our personal relationship with Christ, there is nothing better in this world than other people. Think about it: people make life worth living. They help us, they love us, they bring us joy and sorrow. Practically every major life event involves other people.  Proverbs 27:17 says, As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Sister, I encourage you to remain loyal but also to invest in new relationships in your life. Friends should be fun and adventurous but they should also challenge you to be a better person. Your friends should ''sharpen'' you as you ''sharpen'' them. Seek out people  who are different than you. It may be unnatural at first, but their differences will grow your weaknesses and test your strengths. I just can't say enough how important it is to surround yourself with friends who will speak the hard truth into your life but still have the best of intentions for you.  And never forget that when friends fail you, your family will always be close. We will surely fail you as well, but we will learn and love you better the next time. Plus, it's not like you can get rid of us!

So many times, our strengths are also our weaknesses. You have such will power and determination, much more than I'll ever claim to have. That strength has brought you a lot of success: swim team, academics, getting what you desire from mom and dad ; ). You're best at that last one! The flip side of determination is stubbornness. John 15:13 says, Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Al, I encourage you to surrender yourself daily to Jesus and other people. Living life for Jesus is hard but so full of reason and purpose. He will make it worth it, and show you how to serve others along the way. 

Congratulations on this huge milestone. It's the first of many. The next fifteen years of your life will be so full of changes and moves and celebrations and hard times and good times. Hold on tight, it will go fast. Be present in every moment.

Bryan and I are so proud of you -  We love you so much it hurts! I would never want anyone else to be my sister and I look forward with anticipation to how God is going to use your life.

I pray for all the good things for you.
Enjoy the journey.
I love you to the moon!

No one loves you like I do, Al! 
So proud of you :)


Tradi-tion! (said like Fiddler on the Roof)

Warning: I'm going to gush about my husband and his charming good looks. 

He's the greatest, if I'm being honest. Last year towards the end of school, he mentioned that he wanted to take me out to celebrate the conclusion of my first year teaching. 

And I told him he was brilliant and said yes, please. Perfection in my life is my handsome husband and delicious food. Babe don't worry, you barely beat food ;)

So last year, we went to BoneFish. Mmmm, bang-bang shrimp. And he told me when we were at dinner that this would be a yearly tradition. I did not argue. 

This year, we wanted to try Redrock Canyon Grill. It was probably one of the best meals I've had since I've lived in Wichita. The mashed potatoes were sinful. And of course we got ice cream afterwards. 

Excited for date night!
Salmon with a sweet marmalade sauce, sweet glazed carrots, and mashed potatoes.  
Yes, we eat our ice cream with the taster spoons. It makes it last longer. Don't judge, You know you're going to do that now.

After dinner, I went to Cabela's with Bry. I can honestly say that is one store where I want to buy absolutely nothing. But my husband turns into a little boy at a toy store pointing out everything he wants. So I enjoy that. Then I went to World Market where I pretty much want everything.

To my surprise, the night didn't end after dinner. Bry reserved a night at a hotel. He knows the ways to my heart. I don't know what it is, but there is something about sleeping in a big comfy bed and not having to clean anything and relaxing in a hot tub and getting breakfast in the morning...the hotel could be next door to my house and I'd still want to stay in it. 

This was in the hotel parking lot. We slashed their tires. Okay joking, we didn't.
Robes! I wanted to steal mine but I refrained.

Our evening was spent swimming and watching In Time (interesting movie, pretty good). I also ate BOTH of the chocolate chip cookies the front desk gave us when we arrived. Good job, ash. 

The next morning, we had an awesome breakfast. I love Eggs Benedict. And then we played Monopoly Deal in our room until we had to check out. 

Breakfast time!
I beat him 2 out of 3 games. Booyah.

It was an all around lovely date and perfect mini-getaway. Babe, thanks for being so thoughtful, you know just how to love me. 
You da best.



Heyo! I'm back like the Backstreet Boys. Except I didn't have to go to rehab. Let's all be thankful for that.

I saw this update idea while blog-stalking. And since there is a lot to catch up on, I thought I'd give it a go. I did add a few ings of my own...

listening: to the Amos Lee station on Pandora. My favorite station - so chill. 

watching: nothing. I don't think I've ever watched less tv in my life. Maybe it's because we get two channels? Or because the weather has been so nice I want to be outside? Whatever it is, I'm fine with it. I guess we have watched a few movies...like Real Steel (good), and Drive (weird), and The Descendants (weird again). 

We've also been watching my sister swim. She's an Olympian. Well not really, but she is in my heart. The swimmers wear these crazy-tight suits to swim in. They cost a mortgage payment and can only be worn a handful of times before they are no good. But it takes like thirty minutes and several people to help Ali get into it. So yes, several people have been up-close-and-personal with Ali's nether region.
Basically Spanx has nothing on Skins

I may not make it to many of your meets Al, but I am one of your biggest fans!
She's always been a fish.
State Qualifying. 

reading: various things. nothing of importance except my bible. For some reason, I really like to read articles from yahoo. Probably because I can't get on anything at school so I have to go to very safe websites. Yahoo has a lot of random articles...some serious, some sports related, some currently trending, and some extremely shallow. 

growing: a tree with our home team (or life group, whatever). We planted a tree on our church property. Or I should say that the men planted a tree and the women stood to the side. We are really loving our group. We're all in similar life stages and everyone is really committed to being transparent and engaging. I've loved getting to know the women and look forward to every Sunday evening. 

Supporting the men. 
Yes, that is actually a tree. 

wanting: a never ending list. I want my house DIY list to be done. This would include new windows, the bathroom remodel, the basement remodel, the range hood and chandelier installed, a new deck, and landscaping. Just to name a few. Oh and I'd love a vacation with just the hubs. He has been extra busy. I guess "wanting" should read: money and time. Isn't that what all of us want?

needing: okay, moment of truth: nothing. Except more quiet time which is totally in my control. I mean, I just don't need anything. I have so much. I need to make sure that I'm using what God has given me to bless others. 

partying: What, you don't think we party? Think again, people. I guess I should use the word celebrating. We threw a big graduation bash for my sister and cousin at my parent's house. A lot of cleaning and prepping followed by a full house with lots of eating, talking, laughing, reminiscing, picture viewing, picture taking, and trampoline jumping. 

Dad, the yard looked beautiful, nicely done.

Sarah is my beautiful, super smart cousin. Sometimes I think we look more alike than Ali and I. Genetics are weird.

Ali and her frans.
Lookin' good dad.
the best looking. 
churchy friends.
Father-daughter pic!
My momma and her two friends...love you Janelle and Patti! 
getting out from behind the camera.

hoping: constantly. I've been really leaning on the hope I have in Jesus. I'm not quite ready to share with the world, but it's been a challenging several months. Some days, I don't feel like hoping. I love having control and I love getting things done.  Having to wait and hope for things makes me feel useless. But seriously, I don't know what people do who aren't relying on Jesus and his never-ending, steadfast, sovereign HOPE.

Romans 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

anticipating: SUMMER! Hot days, tanning poolside, house projects, evenings on our deck, bike rides, morning runs, sleeping in, vacations in Texas, Arkansas, and Colorado, reading, kids' camps, and in general, breaking...from the norm. I am SO thankful I have summers off. I truly love my job, but who doesn't want a break? Now if only pastors got the summer off too.

leaving: this post. I'm done. But I will leave you with some random instagram pics. Love that app. Enjoy :)

On the lookout for Thing 2.
Enjoying my centerpiece.
Hair that was washed and twisted into a bun...gotta love curly hair. That's Ali creepin' in the back.
Hat day at school.
Errand running is fun with this man.