This is my friend Shannon with her two youngest, Tabitha and Scotland. She makes the best nachos on the planet. Also, she makes cute babies. I mean, just look at all that adorableness in those sweet faces. (I purposefully didn’t post a picture of all four of her children because I thought that might just be too much cuteness in one post and if you haven’t built up a cuteness tolerance it might give you the ultimate cuteness hangover tomorrow morning.) She introduced me to the game Monopoly Deal, which Adan and I are addicted to. And though she and her husband also love to play games and amicably talk trash while they do so (it’s a family rule that you have to say things like, “You’re going to get served a big helping of humble pie!” while playing games), I have never heard her say a single mean thing about another person in real life. She gets sarcasm. She is a great hostess. Not in the Martha Stewart-candles-and-table-settings-fine-china kind of way, but in a making-everyone-comfortable-and-welcome kind of way, opening up her life as it is. I remember when her eldest Adara was born, friends from church would drop off meals and she would often just put out extra silverware and invite said friends to stay and enjoy the meal with them. Isn’t that awesome? She is never “too busy” to help out or make time for you when you are going through a hard time. I hope to be like her when I grow up. Happy birthday, sweet friend!
In case you were wondering, this is what a perfect fall day in Chicago looks like:
Adan and I were up there last weekend and we had unbelievable weather considering that it was mid-November. We spent the entire day walking around the city, we could not get enough of the views.
The city is in a state of euphoric jubilation because apparently this happened not too long ago, after a rather long dry spell:
We kept seeing homages to their victory:
We were the walking definition of tourists. Witness Exhibit A: the Bean. Believe me, it does not get any more touristy than this. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a local Chicagoan to be found within a five mile radius.
Exhibit B: stopping foot traffic in all sorts of inconvenient places to take pictures. (Not pictured, the multitudes having to dodge around us as we posed for this shot)
Exhibit C: eating all of the typical Chicago foods.
(We, of course, also ate and loved deep dish pizza. We are not stupid.)
Exhibit D: riding the L to get downtown from Marisa’s house:
The perfect fall day was followed by perfect fall night in Chicago:
As if all this were not enough my-cup-runneth-over, I also had a few days with my friend Jess:
Not pictured (because it was way past her bedtime) is her youngest, Gracie, who is two years old and has the vocabulary and verbal skills of a trial lawyer (not even joking), the face of a baby panda (is there anything cuter than a baby panda? This is not a rhetorical question, I really do want to know.) and the energy of the Energizer bunny (would probably leave him behind in the dust). I had the best time hanging out with them.
As you may have guessed from the title, Adan and I decided to take the bus to the beach this time rather than driving because we were mistakenly under the notion that we would arrive more relaxed that way. An hour an a half on the side of the highway made us see the error of our ways. When we finally made it to Puerto Vallarta 8 hours after we’d set out in the morning, we were suffering from hunger, low blood sugar, bus fatigue (a disease similar to Garlic Bread Deficiency in that it just doesn’t get enough attention from the press due to it’s lack of sexiness), restless leg syndrome, and, in my case, extreme crabiness.
Totally worth it, though.
These two pictures above sum up the entirety of our trip. All we did for four days was to enjoy the view of the ocean and eat shrimp. (Sidenote: if you ever go to La Lagosta Loca in Vallarta, you must try the coconut shrimp). In my humble opinion, what really makes for a stratospherically amazing beach trip is the company that you’re with, so this definitely qualified as such.
In stay-cation tradition, we decided to visit the ruins of Guachimontones over our New Year’s break. It is the kind of place that most tourists to Guadalajara have been to, but that natives just don’t get around to unless you are entertaining out-of-towners. The Guachimontones were a complex tribe of people that used all sorts of advanced (for their time) tools like Windows 95 and Blackberries. That was before they all died off due to sun exposure. As you can tell, there is no shade at this UNESCO World Heritage site. Shouldn’t the UN be giving priority to archaeological sites where you can safely visit without having to worry about joining the ancient people in their fate?
Truth be told, I was a little underwhelmed by the ruins. I don’t mean to sound snooty or anything but they didn’t really compare with the pyramids outside Mexico City or Cancun. Or, for that matter of pictures I’ve seen of Stonehenge, Machu Pichu or Cairo. Thinking about it, I realized that it’s because all of the above mentioned sites are so impressive considering the tools and the technology available to them that it seems almost natural for conspiracy theorists to claim that they had help from the aliens to build them. Guachimontones on the other hand seems like the kind of perfectly feasible task that a bunch of people lacking the kinds of distractions provided by the internet and surrounded by rocks might achieve. This is mainly just impressive because it’s old and because it really reinforces how important it is to be always hydrated and wear sunscreen when leaving the house.
Also this past week, I had a girl’s night out with some of the ladies from my small group. It reminded me that, yes, men are great. But they are from Pluto, that huge rock that got it’s planetary status taken away, whereas women are from Earth, so sometimes we can’t fully understand one another. Seeing as how I primarily work with men, there are times when I really miss being around girls. We went out to an Italian restaurant to celebrate Marichuy’s birthday (the one on my right) and we had a great time staying out way past our bedtime.
I remember when I was younger Brenda always used to say that Matt (her husband) liked to have monogamous long term relationships with his shoes whereas she preferred to have one night stands with them. In that vein, can I just say I am having a fling with these boots?
But this isn’t just some superficial infatuation; I see this relationship getting really serious, really fast. Adan got them for me for Christmas and they are the perfect marriage of cute and comfy. What can I say? He’s got great taste in shoes.
A few random snapshots from December:
But my personal favorite by far?
Usually as this season wraps up, I want it to linger just a little longer, but this year I feel ready to move on, proceed, go forth, break new ground. I still haven’t taken down the tree, I don’t know at this point if it’s laziness or because I’m just not done enjoying the lights. Maybe a little bit of both?
And because my friends’ typically adorable children never stop in their quest to slay me with their typically adorable antics:
Hope everyone had a truly wonderful holiday season and that if you were truly good this year, that Santa brought you a cute new pair of boots!
Give and take is the lifeblood of married life and these are a few of the ways Adan and I negotiate that:
He makes me watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and I retaliate by making him watch Pitch Perfect.
He thinks we should give whole wheat pasta another chance. I say we should kindly show it to the door and say, “don’t call us, we’ll call you,” then promptly sever all ties. Sometimes, virtue is it’s own reward and I have made plenty of changes to our diet that were filed under the “virtuous” column. Whole wheat pasta and brown rice are where I draw the line, though. Not on my watch.
Each Christmas, we debate what kind of tree to get, fake or real. He lists all the practical and financial reasons for the former and I point out that, sure, real trees are messier, but they smell intoxicating and say, case closed. And, we end up getting what I want because he knows that it means more to me than to him. Clearly he’s an A plus husband.
Speaking of Christmas trees, does ours seem to be… slanting…?
Let’s look at that from another angle:
Yes, it’s the leaning tower Christmas tree, but we love it.
An ode I’ve composed to it, sung to the tune of Our God is an Awesome God:
Our tree is an awesome tree
it smells of pine and Chai
and makes our house all cozy
our tree is an awesome tree.
We made Chai lattes and decorated the tree on Sunday, which always starts with half an hour of untangling lights and figureing out why they all worked when you put them away last year and now half are dead. Thank goodness for Adan’s engineering background.
We pick up a new ornament each year, as per Rosales Kim tradition. That would be the bling-y mini tree. Our tree looks a little minimalist but that is because last year was the first time either one of us had set up our own tree so we didn’t have a lot of ornaments.
I have been battling a rather un-Choong Sil-like-bah-humbug-Debbie-Downer attitude towards Christmas this year. I told Adan that I didn’t even want to put up a tree, but that I figured instead of waiting to feel Christmassy to put up decorations, maybe I should just go ahead and up put them up, banking on a shower of warm touchy-feely-ness afterwards. And it did work, kind of. I pulled out our Christmas mugs this morning, the ones my friend Liz Q. gave me a few years back and the coffee tasted better. Also, this improves my holiday cheer:
Pink poinsettias, my favorite thing about this season after turkey, hot chocolate, soup, rich desserts, pozole, tamales… okay, maybe it’s more accurate to call it my favorite non-edible thing about this season. I spent last year coveting my neighbor’s poinsettia, which is a sin according to the Ten Commandments, so this year I sprang for my own.
Often when this happens, and by “this” I mean apathy, with a side of restlessness and a dash of boredom, I turn to the Book of Psalms, just start at the beginning and work my way through, picking them up whenever I have a spare moment or half hour. Sometimes I just pause and meditate on a verse (or verses) that really seems to capture my specific thought or prayer or doubt or feeling. Because I find that when it is hard to pray in my own words, the best recourse is to pray through the psalms. Some of them I read straight through and nothing resonates with me but I keep going. I depend on psalms at moments like these because there is no continuity from one to the next, perfect in my ADD state, when I can best focus on encouragement in the form of small nuggets.
Also, it helps to quote from the “These are a few of my favorite things” song from The Sound of Music, but customized to my own tastes, of course, like the above mentioned things for which I’m grateful for (trees, coffee, poinsettias). Another one of my favorite things at this moment is good news and shared happiness for the Powell family, who lives in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
The day after tomorrow they will be arriving in London for a two month visit with their extended family and friends. Ben and Roz moved out from England to help with the church in Santa Cruz when Chloe was just a year old. They now have three more kids and have not had the opportunity to go back as a family to England in all this time. On my trips to visit the church there, I usually stay part of the time with them and they are an example to me in their married/family life and Christian devotion and service in the church. They have left much behind for love of Jesus and His name and glory, yet when you talk to them, they consider it a joy and privilege to be called to serve Him. So this awesome, fantastic, marvelous, wonderful news makes me very happy indeed. I hope you have a truly meaningful and fun time in England and get to eat sausages every morning with your loved ones!
You might think this is creepy, weird and morbid, but I actually think it’s fun and whimsical. Chapultepec always has the best holiday decorations, and in November it’s skeletons dressed up in a million different costumes.
And, in a new segment called Friends’ Babies, here is an adorable picture from Kassi’s Halloween. Because I don’t have children yet, so I have to co-opt and brag about my friend’s progeny.
They named the newest edition of their family, Sydney, ignoring every one of the suggestions I gave them here. (I totally forgive you, Kass, just means I can name my daughter Nebuchadnezzar). Now I go way, way back with their mom (Kassi’s house is where I got ready for nearly every dance I attended in high school. Her mom makes the best fried rice, and this is coming from me, the world’s foremost fried rice expert. And I was a bridesmaid in her wedding. I should also mention that Kassi and I are the same age, but she is impossibly mature compared to me and the rest of our generation), so possibly I’m a little biased, but are these not perfect and angelic little people? Don’t tell me your day didn’t just get better.