Monday, November 22, 2010

Our new apartment!

Hanging on our door right before you walk in

The hallway as you walk in the front door (the living room is the first room on the left, the bedroom is second door on the left and the office is first door on your right)

The living room (I was standing on the couch trying to get a good angle.. most of these pics don't do our apartment justice because I didn't know how to take the pictures.. duh!)

Living room

Living room





Bedroom again (notice our awesome bedding!)



Kitchen (reminds me of my nonnies house!)



And wa-la! This is our new place! These pictures don't really do justice to our awesome apartment, but it kinda gives you an idea.  I also just realized that I forgot to take pictures of the bathroom, I will take those at a later date.

Gobble Gobble

I am so excited that Thanksgiving is only a few short days away!  I love Thanksgiving simply because it's an excuse to get together with family and eat good food.  Speaking of eating good food, this will be my THIRD year cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family.  I have had so much fun cooking the past three years, and I love the fact that my mom gets a holiday off from cooking!  So I thought I would take some time to share some recipes that have been a hit in the past, and also ask for some new ideas from you guys!

I guess I should start with the turkey.. Now, this is something that my mom usually does because it's easier for her to just throw it in the oven when she wakes up in the morning.  I was planning on sprucing it up a bit when I get to their house, but I need help! What should I do to this turkey to make it fabulous!?

Moving on to the sides..
I usually make a baked Macaroni and Cheese, green bean casserole, yam casserole, garlic mashed potatoes, and a pecan pie.

I usually get most of my recipes from  It's a pretty good site and is fun to look at when you have nothing to do..

Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

Green Bean Casserole:

Yam Casserole:

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Please feel free to share recipes with me! I am looking forward to making some new things this year! Gobble gobble!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I just thought I would write a little update about what is going on with my life.  I guess I should start a couple weeks back and then work my way up to today.
So two weekends ago Jeremy and I went to North Carolina to visit family.  First of all, let me start by saying I love the fact that I now have more family!  Since marrying Jeremy I have gained a mother and father in law, four sisters, two brothers, three nieces and two nephews (if you count Rebekah and Will's dog Max, which I do because I love him and he is such a cute little baby!)

 Me and Jeremy with our nephew Max.  Aunty Nicole loves you Max!

I love this so much! They are such great people and I love hanging out with them and getting to know them more.  So Jeremy and I stayed with Will and Rebekah in North Carolina at their log cabin.  I absolutely loved it! I honestly didn't want to leave.  We had such an awesome time with them, laughing, talking, and relaxing.  They were such good hosts! It inspired me to be just like them (I'm sure most of this was Bekah's doing, but I give Will credit too!)  Next time we have guests over, I'm going to have the bed set up, towels out for them, and plenty of food.  I also had some great conversations with Rebekah.  I am honestly so thankful for her.  She is so caring and loving and I really love being around her and feel comfortable talking to her about anything.  She has probably become one of my "go-to" people when I have a problem, or need to talk (and we all know I don't have too many of these people).
On Saturday we drove down to Virginia to visit Matt & Tascha and the kids.  It was such a treat! I love this family so much.  I think that Matt is the funniest guy ever and I love seeing him and Jeremy interact, it's priceless.  I also love just being around Tascha because she is so laid back and fun.  Evan, Maya and Talia are the cutest little kids I have ever seen! I absolutely love being an aunt and I can't wait to see these kids grow up.  I'm hoping Jeremy and I can visit them more in the future.
The girls: Natascha, Maya, Rebekah, Natalia and me
Overall, this trip was amazing.  It was a wonderful time spent with family and I came back feeling refreshed and loved.  I can't wait until we go back for New Years.

Once we got back from North Carolina we hit the ground running.  Our days were filled with faith groups, navigate, and lots of packing for our upcoming move!  Well, we finally did it! We moved!! We now live in a two bedroom apartment near Dane street beach.  I am so in love with the apartment, it finally feels like it's our home.  I can come home and relax and unwind without feeling stressed or overwhelmed or scared.  I will post more about the apartment soon.  I want to be able to put pictures up to show you how awesome it is, but I have to wait until our internet at home is working.

Besides that, things have been pretty good.  We are still leading faith groups, and I could not be happier.  I love faith group and all the girls in it! They are such special girls, and I really do care about them so much.  We are also still doing Navigate on Wednesday nights.  It has been a great experience and we have both definitely learned a lot! One really awesome thing that we just found out is... At the end of the year, our class is going to INDIA! Holy monkeys! I cannot wait!!  I will keep you posted as to what exactly we will be doing and how you can support us as we go over there :)

Another awesome thing is happening this weekend.. My family is hosting a fundraiser for my Uncle Bob who is currently fighting lung cancer.  It's going to be an awesome time! I am so proud of my family because they have really all come together to make this happen.  My dads band, Flounders in the Wind (don't ask me about the name..) is going to be playing and there will be awesome raffles and such.  I'm looking forward to it and I really hope a lot of money is raised for my Uncle and his family.
My awesome cousin Mark designed this flyer.  If you are around on Saturday and would like to come and take part in the festivities please let me know! 

Jeremy and I have been pretty busy the last few weeks, and I am definitely looking forward to a low key weekend with friends and family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Turns out i'm actually the "Biggest Loser"

Jeremy and I have our date nights on Tuesdays.  This is our night where just him and I get to relax and spend time together.  This summer we started watching the show "The Biggest Loser" together.  Now on Tuesday nights, we will have dinner together, hang around the house, and watch the Biggest Loser from 8-10.
Last night I realized I have a very serious problem.  I am actually the biggest loser.  I have a big problem with the show.  It's not that I don't like it, or don't like watching it, nothing along those lines.  I have come to realize that I actually like it a little too much.  It's no longer just a show for me anymore, I am actually invested in these peoples lives.  I can't just watch it like a normal show, careless and relaxed.  Instead, I am on the edge of my seat every Tuesday cheering them on, listening to their struggles, and learning about their lives.

I don't know what to do about this problem.  I almost knew this would happen when I started to watch the show.  I knew that I am a very emotional person,  I am empathetic and really care for people and their lives.  I just never thought it would carry over onto this show.  At the end of every Tuesday night you will find me on the couch curled into a ball crying.  Not just shedding a couple tears, but full out, hyperventilating, sobbing! I love the people so much that it literally makes me weep when one of them gets kicked off at the end of the show.  I cannot handle it! I think about their lives, and why they need to lose the weight and when I see that one of them has to go home it breaks my heart!

Although, I'm pretty sure last night was the worst.  Not one, but TWO of my favorite contestants got kicked off the show last night.  Jesse and Aaron were two of my favorites, they were personable, humble, kind, and funny.  They worked their butts off in the gym and were honest and true friends outside of the gym.  I couldn't handle seeing them get voted off.  I thought about Aaron's little son and how he needed to be there to set a good example for him.  I thought about how much I would miss seeing Jesse's commentary and how he always made me laugh.  Once the last vote was revealed that Jesse and Aaron would be going home I broke down into a sobbing mess.  I  pulled the blanket up over my head and SOBBED for about a half hour (not even exaggerating).  I am going to miss them so much!



So in conclusion, I really do have a serious problem.  I wish I could see myself through Jeremy's eyes when I am sitting on the couch crying over two people I don't even really know.  He doesn't even know how to comfort me because I'm crying over something a little ridiculous.  I just can't help it though! I don't know how to make this show just another show.  To be honest with you, I don't know if I would even if I knew how to.  I like knowing that this show is actually making a difference in peoples lives.  Maybe I'm a little over the top with my reactions, but I guess I would rather be the biggest loser actually watching the show than unattached and emotionless.  So, it turns out I'm the biggest loser, and I think I might be okay with that!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A love story

So I sometimes get in these funks where I am just blahhh.. I miss the big picture.  The picture of God's love for me.  The picture of my life and how far I have come.  I need to remind myself of the greatest love story of all- the one between me and God.  Sometimes when I think about my life and where God has brought me from I get overwhelmed.  I can see time and time again His faithfulness and love for me and it brings such joy to my heart! I thought I would take this time to remind myself of this love story..

I grew up in Salem.  My life growing up was okay.. I didn't grow up a Christian, and didn't come to know the love of God until College.  I'm not really going to go into much detail about growing up just because it's pretty personal.  My parents did the best that they knew how to at the time and I am so thankful for them.  I can say with all my heart that God has restored my relationships within my family.  I no longer hold any grudges with my dad, I can fully love him and my mom without expecting anything in return.  I have been set free from the desire for my family to look and act a certain way and show love a certain way.  I treasure the relationship I have with my sister and I find myself more and more being able to respond with love and kindness as opposed to reacting out of insecurity and anger.  God has done a lot of work in my family and I know He isn't stopping here!
 (My family)

Growing up there were a few negative things that were kind of engraved in me.. These things play a huge role in who I am today and how I operate.  The first being, I always thought I had to take control of every situation.  If I wanted to get something done, I would need to do it myself.  I saw a lot of failed promises and from that place of disappointment I decided that I would need to be in control of everything.  Because I saw time and time again promises that weren't fulfilled I started to believe that people would just say things to make you happy but wouldn't really follow through with those things.  From that place of brokenness I started telling myself that I could do everything better by myself anyways.  I convinced myself that I didn't really need anyone's help even though I desired it, I just didn't want to bring myself back to that place of being let down by another person.  So two things that even still play a big part of my life are trust and a spirit of independence.  Now don't get me wrong, I think independence is a great quality to have but when it comes from a place of insecurity and thinking you can do everything better than everyone else and wont even listen to authority or peoples input that is now rebellion. Anyway, God is doing so much healing in my life in these areas.  I thank God for Jeremy, because I know for a fact that God is using him to sift through these areas to bring full healing and restoration.  That is one of the joys of marriage.  It's hard though! It is so easy to respond negatively to that person and to just shut down when the areas of deepest hurt and pain are brought back up.  I know I am guilty of that and I just thank God that He has given Jeremy and I grace to learn how to be married and lovingly deal with each others junk.  I am so happy to be married though, besides the fact that I love Jeremy so stinkin much I really believe that God uses marriages to restore your ideas of family and He also gives you the gift of starting your own family.  Alongside with that He uses the person that is closest to you in the whole world to be your partner in working through your pain and hurt.  It's a beautiful thing!

I try to forget all the years before high school, mostly because I had no friends, watched wrestling, wore shirts with horses on them and spent most of my free time convincing myself that I was going to be a professional wrestler.. Bad I know.

High school was better for me.  I started to get friends (once I got my braces off and learned that horse shirts were NOT cool).  I also got my first boyfriend.  Things were good.  I lived in my little world, thinking things were perfect.  I wasn't a terrible kid, I did things mostly by the books.  Although I wasn't really a girl with much character, I wasn't kind to my family, I made fun of people who weren't as "cool" as me, I spent my high school years being comfortable because I was finally accepted.  I did have some good friends though.  This was my new family, and outside of this group of friends I was lost.  I am so thankful for the friendships I made in high school and I am still good friends with some of them.  My best friend Jess in high school was my matron of honor at my wedding!  Because I was so comfortable with life, I thought that nothing bad could happen to me.  I thought that my life would be how it was in high school forever and I was excited about that.

When I was 16 I was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember going away with my family around Christmas time.  I had lumps all up and down my neck and ignorantly I thought they were just swollen lymph nodes.  After all, nothing bad could happen to me I finally had the perfect life.  I was hoping for mono or cat scratch fever, anything besides cancer..  Turns out I had Hodgkins lymphoma, a type of cancer.  I was knocked off my feet.  Me, the invincible girl had cancer.  I was scared and insecure and even though I was surrounded by friends and family, I have never felt more alone.  I started my treatment right away.. At the end of everything I had received 8 rounds of chemotherapy, 12 of radiation, 4 surgeries, and more CT scans than I can remember.  But I was done!! Or so I thought.  During this whole time of treatment I very rarely got sick, I didn't lose any of my hair and my life was still pretty "perfect".  I thought I was untouchable because cancer couldn't even shake me!  Three months later I felt another lump under my armpit.  My cancer came back.  Once hearing that I had to do all of this again I became depressed.  I no longer wanted to see any of my friends, I didn't want to talk about it or do much of anything.  I was finally knocked out of my perfect little world.

There were a few people who I felt like being around and a few of them were from my hospital.  Finally I had someone who I could relate to.  I didn't have to feel different any more, like I was the cancer girl that everyone stared at. I had a friend who understood me and could relate to me.  Her name was Alison.  We would spend many hours together in the back room playing Uno together, or just watching a movie.  She was always so happy and secure.  There was something different about her and I wanted to be around her as much as possible because she made me feel better, she made me feel alive.  After I had relapsed and started more treatment I lost all my hair (and I mean ALL of it), I was sick all the time, very weak, very pale and very skinny.  I looked like I was dying.  But when I was in the hospital I felt free, I didn't have to think about how I looked because I knew there were people there who looked and felt just like me.  After months of chemotherapy at my hospital I felt like the hospital was my home.  I had my family of friends and nurses and I felt safe there.

(My hospital friends, me, Bruno and Alison)

Alison and I both were scheduled to have transplants after our treatment of chemotherapy.  I was scheduled to go in first.  Transplant was like a jail cell.  First they lock you in a hospital room with only a bed, nightstand, chair and TV.  They put an exercise bike in my room too, wishful thinking on their parts.  I could barely focus my eyes enough to watch the TV let alone ride a bike.  Although, it probably gave my visitors something to do while they visited because most of the day I was sleeping and could barely string together coherent sentences.  You wern't allowed to leave your room the whole time you were in there.  I stayed in the same room for almost two months.  I felt like I had all of the life that was in me sucked out and all I could do was lay in my bed while being kept alive by the different tubes and machines that pumped little bits of hope into my body.  And then, once I got my new stem cells things began to get better.  Slowly I began to be able to see straight and walk around without feeling like I could collapse.  Getting up to brush my teeth was no longer a chore.  Then, one day I was strong enough to leave.  I could finally pass through the doors that felt like a prison.  I was on my way to recovery.  I no longer took life for granted anymore because I came so close to death I could literally taste it.  I tasted it when the chemotherapy came into my body and tried to kill all of my living cells.  I tasted it when the inside of my mouth was so raw that I couldn't even swallow.  I tasted it when all I could do was throw up.  I tasted it the most when I saw my family and friends cry over me.  It did not taste good.

I remember visiting Alison when she was in her transplant.  My hair was finally starting to grow back and I was able to rock the afro for a short period of time.  I came into her room and felt my heart fall to the ground.  The gifts I brought for her were suddenly meaningless and I started to wish that I didn't bring them.  I then realized as much as it hurt laying in the bed being the one getting the treatment, it hurt even more seeing a person you love go through it.  I sat with her on the bed as she held her nose to try to stop the nose bleed.  I only stayed a short while because I knew the pain she was in.  I left the gifts that I brought for her.  Things I thought would comfort her- a journal, a cd, a teddy bear.  I told her to write down all the things that she wanted to do in that journal.  It was something that kept me motivated during my transplant.  I told her that it would get better and that she would be able to accomplish the things on her list. That was the last time I saw her.  Everything I said to her was a lie, she didn't get to check off things from her list, she didn't get better.  That was it.

I cannot even express the pain and guilt I felt after this.  I was alone again and no one knew how I felt, no one could relate to me or comfort me.  I was back at the same place I was in the beginning.  A few weeks later I went to Alison's memorial mass with my best friend Jess.  I went expecting to feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow and pain but I was surprised when I was met with the feeling of hope even through my sadness.  I sat there and listened to the pastor talk about Alison and her love for God.  I watched as her family sat in the front and had confidence that Alison was in a better place.  I was met by the love of God and I was transformed.  I knew that there was something different about Alison from the first time I met her, and I finally found out that it was God living inside of her that made her different. 

My life has been drastically different from that day.  I have now found security in God.  My identity doesn't come from my family or friends.  It doesn't come from the title "cancer survivor" or what I do.  My identity comes from the fact that I am Gods daughter.  I am loved, and known and understood by Him.  I always have someone who can relate to me.  I have someone who fights for me, who believes in me, and who is faithful to me!  I have been transformed by the love of God because He truly loves and cares for me and because of that love my life will never be the same.

This love story is real, and it puts all the "blah" moments to shame.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

College Retreat

This weekend we went away for the Harbor College retreat! It was a lot of fun!! We grew closer together (especially as a faithgroup) we learned about our identity in Christ and we got to be surrounded by amazing fall foliage.  It was a pretty awesome weekend.  Here are some pictures from the trip:

Some of the girls from faithgroup (Rooted 2010)

Silly and in love!
Me and Jer!