Saturday, December 21, 2013

A simple holiday

I have been drooling over boxwood wreaths for years so when I stumbled on some boxwood sprigs at Home Depot, you better believe I snatched them up. I snipped the branches up with scissors and then hot-glued them to embroidery hoops and hung them with twine. They're so simple and cheery hanging in our windows.



(window pictures are hard)

This year we got our first real tree. We kept it small so our mischievous furry felines wouldn't be tempted to climb it (remember this?). There's something really lovely about having a piece of winter nature indoors. The grapevine wreath was made by my mom a few years ago and I finally actually did something with it, adding a touch of wintery green and calling it a day. I had been craving some simple, rustic decorations and these were just what I had envisioned.

Found this guy at the thrift store - one quarter for a touch of holiday romance.

I got this nativity set at a thrift store last year. It's white ceramic with gold detailing and about 100% cheaper than any nativity set at full price. Win, win.

Christmas has certainly caught up to us. I aimed to not make myself too busy so that I could focus on what it is really important with unneeded stress, but this year was particularly hard. Next year, right? It is now a few short days from Christmas and we are now in St. Louis with family to slow and down and really, we're truly grateful for our Savior and all the wonderful people in our life.

P.S. This is an unnecessary rant but I'm going there. Can I vent for one brief moment on all these tutorials popping up on "DIY wrapping paper" or "DIY your way to beautiful wrapping paper" or "Spice up your wrapping paper with paint and glitter and intricate drawings that only take a few or ten hours." I am all for beautiful things. But. Spending hours on art-making your way to beautiful wrapping paper is just beyond me. This is paper that covers a present that the gift recipient will tear into and throw into a pile of crumpled and shredded wrapping paper that will go straight to the recycling bin (unless you're my grandma who wades through this pile and pulls out pieces of paper that are reusable for the next Christmas, which is truly the gift that keeps giving). I mean no offense to those who have carefully crafted their wrapped paper. But you all know what needs to be said now. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Merry Christmas folks!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

There is beauty in winter

Silence cloaks the horizon beneath an ashen sky. Nature waits, solemn and expectant as the air gingerly, gently draws the feathery white downward. The wind whispers and licks the earth, dancing with the newborn powdery snowflakes. Windows become frames to a life-size snow globe and I am enraptured, breathless. Entwined in the falling snow is peace that spreads slowly over the ground and into my chest. This fresh peace, like drinking hot tea on a cold day, is a glimmer of a future, greater Peace. A wintery, holy promise.

In joining with a storm there is sacredness. In breaking the silence with an open door and movement and noise. In disrupting the resting place of millions upon millions of snowflakes woven together so delicately. The snow groans and compresses under my weight and I am an island in a sea of alabaster. Nature adorns my crown with glitter and my lashes cradle the falling flakes. My breath is full and smoky white and suddenly too loud.

In this moment, the boundaries blur between the storm and I and we become one. I am a funnel, gulping with my eyes and stuffing my lungs full and storing it all in my heart. I am communing with my Creator by celebrating his creation. There is beauty in winter and I writing myself into its story.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Annoyingly overdue vacation photos

Good thing my blog is not a library and posts aren't charged for being 4 months overdue.

Is it annoying to post pictures of a July lake house trip when it's November and snowing? (oh well). I got really behind with summer pictures so this is an attempt to catch up and remember warmer times.

My wonderful grandparents have started a tradition of renting a lake house each summer and for the first time, Jason and I got to join! It was as marvelous as the moose antler chandelier.

We stayed in a charming house in Ortonville, Minnesota, where we happened to be the only ones in town not wearing overalls. Kidding. Sort of. The house had huge windows so of course I was in love with the great lighting. 

Jason was really determined to catch a fish, so this is what he looked like whenever we were hanging at the house.

My gramps is a skilled fly fisherman so he gave us a lot of tips and pointers.

What's a lake house without an outdoor shower?

When we were out and about in town, we found a rummage sale. And these. We died laughing when we saw the "make offer" sticker on a particularly unfortunate looking plastic figurine.

My granny doing what she does best: shop. (why yes, I do believe I inherited this trait)

The other side of the lake is South Dakota so Jason and I are proud to say we kayaked all the way to South Dakota.

The moment after Jason caught a fish when my brother scooped it out. A jubilant moment.

I just...

Seriously, probably one of his happiest moments of 2013. The first fish he has ever caught. In his entire life.

It's not a McCalpin family vacation without copious amounts of card games.

This is my cute mom. We went to the local miniature golf course, and well, it was local. Each hole seemed designed to do to opposite of guide your ball into the hole, but it was a good laugh.

The town's old schoolhouse with dreamy windows.

I wanted to take this map home with me.

Jason asleep in an antique store (story of our life).

No summer post is complete without a campfire. Done.

My grandma and David each had their very first s'more, ever. It was an important night for all of us.

Just so cozy!

My hair grew 3 sizes. Thank you, lake breeze.

And of course, me and Suzy. She's my mom, in case you didn't notice the genetic resemblance.

Hey McCalpins, let's do this again in 2014! Might I suggest Hawaii? ;)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

sick day

I happen to be sick today and have found myself alone cuddled under a blanket with kitties on either side. I'm not puky sick where I have to live by the toilet but my body is all achy, in particular my stomach, and my appetite has all but disappeared. When my mind feels okay but my body does not, what is one supposed to do?  Sleep and watch a lot of 30 Rock. And blog, I suppose.

As a side note, there's this strange thing about being a female with nausea because every time I have to call in sick to work or tell anyone about said illness, I wonder if there's an underlying question raised by the other person that perhaps I am pregnant. Is anyone really thinking this when I tell them? Who knows, but I always have to swallow the urge to blurt out it's just nausea, not morning sickness. Not that it's really anyone's business whether I am or not. It's silly, I know.

Anyway, one of my couchside companions is a little pipsqueak named Harley.

Jason saw on the news that the Iowa Rescue League was in need of foster parents, and well, one thing led to another and we now have a sassy little kitten in our home. Of course we are totally attached to her but realize that she will definitely put us over the quota of cats needed to be crazy cat people so we cannot keep her. Alright, so our reasons are a little more practical than that but I would be lying if that wasn't in the back of my mind. ;)

The Rescue League found her on the street so she's our little urban princess. The first few days she was terrified of us and her ears seemed to be permanently horizontal but truly, she warmed up to us surprisingly fast. She's losing her purr now but at first she purred in constant streams for hours on end like a motorcycle engine. Thus the name.

Obviously our other cats weren't thrilled at first but they are all mostly friends now and will chase each other around the house in good fun. She is cuddly and sweet and spunky and we're surely going to miss her when we take her back. But we also know she'll make another family very, very happy.

Even though it sucks being sick today, I've enjoyed being at home to see Jason's routine. He usually studies from home unless he has a required class (The rest of his classes record the lectures so he skips class and listens to them online at double speed. Such is the life of a time-crunched med student). Jason generally sleeps in later than I do as I have to get to work on time. He rolls out of bed, gets a warm drink, and sips it while watching the morning news. He then digs into studying - listening to lectures, making study guides, and reviewing reviewing reviewing. At 11:30 he turns on PBS and watches whatever painting show is on. He can discuss with you all of the merits and weaknesses of each painter. Bob Ross was the one who first got him interested in painting, but Yarnell, with his variety and style, is what got Jason really hooked. The lady painter is just "okay", and he misses the other guy who would always paint outdoors or old, renovated cars.

Jason has somewhat the freedom of one who works freelance. What I admire about him is that yes, he studies all day, every day, but he also recognizes how nice it is to have this flexible schedule where he can go grocery shopping or work on his car at 10:00 in the morning. This is a brief piece of his life where he gets to decide what the schedule of his day is. Soon it will only be a memory when he is working endless shifts at the hospital. So when asked about his current lifestyle, he will tell you he's living the dream.

To be honest, it's been a rough week or so. Jason has a lot of intense classes this semester and lately it has taken its toll on us (mostly me). Sometimes I forget what Jason looks like without notes in his hand or headphones and a computer in his lap. Sometimes I crave a weekend where it can be just the two of us. Jason hasn't taken a weekend off in a long, long time. I'm grateful to have friends and other projects to fill the spare time, but by golly I just really want my husband sometimes.

It's so, so easy to go down that path of self-pity. I have so much good in my life and so much to be thankful for, but the human side of me starts to compare and envy and pine for something different. How do I be content with the current amount of time I get with my husband and still work to grow and improve our relationship without growing bitter or distant? How do I know when to ask for more and when to accept life as it is? Folks, I have no idea.

So, in spirit of Thanksgiving and my past week, I am thankful for my Savior who promises constant companionship. Who promises that nothing else in life will satisfy me unless I am recognizing him as King and Lord, and yet still loves me when I fail at doing this. I'm thankful for a husband who listens and learns, and I'm thankful for this hard but completely sweet life we have together.

And this is apparently my sick but therapeutic blog post. The end.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The pumpkin post (when everyone is already sick of pumpkins)

So I know pumpkin pictures are pretty much old news but I'm going to add more to the mix. At least I'm not posting this in December... right??

My friend Kristina and I went to a pumpkin patch about a month ago. We made friends with the man who ran the pumpkin canon (although sadly not enough to get him to launch a pumpkin for free), cheated our way through a corn maze, and of course, picked ourselves some pumpkins.

P.S. Pumpkin is a weird word. The end.