Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take Me Out to The Ballgame

Since it's spring training time in the world of baseball, I though I'd share some of my baseball pictures with you. My grandpa used to take me to one or two Diamondbacks games every year, and sometimes the whole family would go along. I used to be a HUGE D-backs fan, but the last few years have been really busy, and I've kind of fallen away (shame on me!). I do miss baseball, though, and I think I'm going to get back into the swing (get it? ha ha) of things this year. Now I just have to convince my husband... ;) (he's a football guy)

Jumbotron with Augie Ojeda... he used to be my sister's favorite

My grandpa and I at a game

My cousin (and my uncle's beard) at a game a looong time ago

My sister Noni and I at a game

Sandy Sidewinder- the mascot of the Sidewinders (the former farm team for the Dbacks)

Craig Counsell- this is an old picture! He hasn't been with the Dbacks for a long while
and those are their old colors.

Chad Tracy

Luis Gonzales- this was his second to last game with the Diamondbacks

Noni and I at a White Sox game

Another Chad Tracy shot... this one in the old uniforms

This was my computer corner when I lived in Huachuca City... I was a little obsessed ;)

I don't even have this shirt anymore! I wore it so much it got holes in it &
I had to throw it away :(

The Cardinals stretching before a game. I think this was the only game that my Gramps and
I sat on the first base side.

I used to remember who all of these players were... now, not so much!

Good times, good times... *grin* I miss going to games with my Gramps... it was a long trip (4 hours both ways), so we'd make a day of it. We'd get breakfast at this truck stop outside of Tucson, stop 25 times to use the restroom (that's only a slight exaggeration), get to the ballpark in time to get one of whatever they were giving away that day, and just have ourselves a good ol' time. We'd make new "friends" (my grandpa likes to talk to everyone around him), sing along to the National Anthem (I use the word "sing" loosely), drink $7 sodas, and root, root, root for the home team. Great memories! I hope that someday, when Nathanael and I have kids, we get to help them create such awesome memories!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's a Love Story, Baby, Just Say Yes!

Since it's Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share my love story with you. I promise to not be too ooey- gooey ;)! Let me start by saying that I don't buy into the whole commercialized idea of "you HAVE to have someone on February 14th or you are a loser and need to be consoled." Even since I've been married, I hate the idea of "singles tables" at banquets, etc. I just don't believe that if you're single, it means that there is something wrong with you and you need to be "helped" or "pitied." People are single for all sorts of reasons, but that doesn't mean they aren't loved. Anywho... I'll climb down off of my little soapbox there and get on with the story ;).

I think that one of the reasons I feel so strongly about "singleness" is because I was single (not married) for what felt like a loooong lifetime. I attended a Bible college where it seemed like everybody was getting married, but I graduated and still hadn't found "the one." I taught in a couple of different schools and waited a couple of years, and still... no one! I ended up in Sierra Vista, AZ working for a church as a teacher and secretary. After a couple of years, I got laid off from that job (there were no funds to support my job), but I still felt like God wanted me to stay there in Sierra Vista. I could have taught somewhere else, but I just felt a strong leading to stay there, find another job, and continue to attend church there. A couple of years went by, and still... no "true love" for me. It was around this point that I finally just gave in to God and told Him that whatever He wanted to do with my life, whether I ever got married or not, I was ok with it. I stopped desperately seeking for someone and tried to just be still and wait for what God had for me. Yes, I still got very lonely and impatient sometimes, but for the most part, I tried to stop yearning for what I didn't have and live in what God had for me at the time.

One Sunday in August of 2008, I looked up from playing the piano and almost fell off the bench... in the back of the auditorium there was a "new guy" and he was cute! I've always had a thing for redheads, and this guy had bright red hair and gorgeous blue eyes... and the sweetest, I mean manliest, shy smile I had ever seen. I had butterflies in my stomach and my face got all red and hot. I might have even found a way to take a picture with my phone so I could show my sister the new cute guy. No, I'm not a stalker... I was just very smitten! I soon realized, though, that this guy was really young, too young for me. I decided to just be his friend, though, and tried to make sure he was included in all of the activities we had at church, etc. The more I got to know this guy, the more impressed I was... he was smart, and funny, and kind, and thoughtful, and dependable, and faithful, and loved God... and so good looking.... and too young for me. I even tried setting him up with a couple of other girls (*cringe*). We became really good friends through texting and talking and spending time together at church activities. Somehow, we ended up texting almost every day. I still did not want to admit I had feelings for him, though, or that he possibly had feelings for me. Finally, I talked to my pastor's wife about it and asked her advice whether she thought that I should just leave it alone since he was (in my mind) too young for me. She told me that the Bible doesn't say anything about age difference, and I should just trust God to lead me to what He had for me.

On April 6, 2009, I was texting my "friend" and he was teasing me about this baseball player that I supposedly had a crush on (I didn't!). I told him that I didn't want him to think that I had a crush on that guy and he asked me why... I told him that if he didn't know I wasn't going to tell him (brilliant, right?). Then, he told me "If it helps, I do have some feelings for you." What???? Wooo hoooo! ;) We ended up going to dinner a few days later, and from then on, we spent every spare minute either together, talking to each other, or talking about each other. I have to admit that I was a little wary at first... I wasn't sure where this was going to go, I still worried that he would think I was too old, I didn't want to get hurt, I worried that once he really got to know me he wouldn't like me, etc. But my new boyfriend won my heart by being the sweetest, most caring, most thoughtful guy I had ever met. He cared about ME and my thoughts and dreams and likes and dislikes... he was fascinated by my personality... he liked the things about me that others had made fun of or tried to change.... it wasn't too long before he had completely stolen my heart.

Before long, we knew that we were "the one" for each other and decided that we should get married. We actually decided this a couple of weeks before we had an official "proposal" or even a ring... it didn't matter to me, though! I was just deliriously happy to be marrying the man that God had picked out just for me! (He did get down on one knee with a ring, though, a few weeks after we decided to get married) On July 3, 2009, I became Mrs. Nathanael Caudill. It has been the best 2 1/2 years of my life! My marriage to Nathanael has been one of the biggest things in my life that God has used to change me and help me grow as a Christian. Nathanael encourages me to be kinder, gentler, less critical, more giving, more relaxed, and less stressed.  He has taught me so much about what it means to be a real Christian, a real follower of Christ. We've had some trials (his year-long deployment, major turmoil in my family), but they've just brought us closer and cemented the bond between our hearts even more. I love him more today than I did on the day we got married because I see that the man he is in public, the good man who works hard and tries to follow Christ, is the exact man he is at home, day in and day out. I'm so proud to be married to Nathanael Caudill.

I'm so glad that God made me wait. I would wait another 20 some years if I had to if it would mean that I got to be with Nathanael. I'm so glad that every time my path turned and twisted, and plans that I had fell through, and "sure things" didn't come to pass, that God was leading me to be in the right place at the right time to meet Nathanael. Our love story reminds me that, no matter what, God's way is ALWAYS the best way. Now, when we go through trials, and things aren't working in my timing or according to my plan, God reminds me that His way is best, and that He will give us His best when we wait on Him. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. We can't know the plans God has for us, but they're good plans, and if we'll just be patient, and wait on Him and His timing, we'll receive great blessings!

I hope this wasn't TOO mushy... I always love telling our "love story!" Not just because our love thrills my heart, but also because I love remembering how God worked in my life and showed me, once and for all, that I can always trust Him to do what's best!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

P.S. I'm participating in a link-up party over at Keeping up with The Cantelmos... go check it out!

Keeping up with the Cantelmos

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Date night ideas

I guess it's all the "love" floating around in the air because of Valentine's Day, but I've been thinking about some of the awesome dates that my husband and I have been on. We love just being together, so we pretty much love  any date, but we do try to plan little special things for each other. Here are some of our best ones:

1. The 12 Dates of Christmas Challenge (idea from this blog)- We each wrote down 6 dates and put them in a jar and then took turns picking them out. Most were very inexpensive, quick dates, but it was a fun way to relieve stress and stay connected during the Christmas season. Here are some of the highlights: Went to the theater to see "Fiddler On The Roof", took silly Christmas pictures- we ended up building a "campsite" in our living room and taking pictures around a fake fire, sang Christmas karaoke- there are tons of songs on youtube, went to Starbucks and made fun of people walking by people watched, went thrift store shopping, made hot cocoa and drove around looking at Christmas lights, went to Burger King and bought $1 ice cream sundaes, walked around a lights display downtown, had cookies & milk while we watched "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", built a "Christmas fort", played in the snow (El Paso had snow!), and drove around looking at Christmas lights in my hometown on Christmas Eve. See? They're all pretty "cheap", but we had a great time and made some great memories! 

2. Bookstore Scavenger Hunt- I got this idea from The Dating Divas blog. They have tons of cute date ideas- I've actually used several, and have several more bookmarked for future reference. Basically, you just make a list of things to look for in the bookstore- a funny joke, a book from somewhere you want to travel, a quiz in a magazine, etc. (The Dating Divas post has a list you can copy, or tweak to make your own). Then, you go to the bookstore together and complete the list. I think we ended up taking Star Wars quizzes (I held my own, thank you very much!), and laughing ourselves silly in the joke section (I thought we might get kicked out!). Another VERY cheap date (free!), but so fun!

3. Movie theme date nights- I've actually done several of these. We've had a Captain America night, a Pirates of the Caribbean night, and most recently, a Star Wars night. I didn't take pictures of the Captain America night, but I wish I would have!! I made "patriotic" food (Star Spangled Sliders), served Super Soldier Serum (blue Jones soda), and dressed up in 40's (ish) clothes. I even found a super cool Captain America shirt for my husband on sale at Walmart. Oh! And I downloaded some 40's music free from Amazon. It was a lot of fun! You can make these movie theme nights as elaborate or as simple as you'd like. My rule of thumb is to try to just use what I have at home. There are all kinds of websites out there that you can search for themed parties that will give you tons of ideas for whatever theme you want to go with. One of my favorites is Tip Junkie- they have tons of do it yourself ideas for parties!

4. Special dinners- Right now, I'm working on planning our Valentine's Day dinner at home. I'm planning to decorate our little dining room like a fancy(ish) restaurant and serve Italian(ish) food. I even have name for our little "restaurant": Posto Della Tartaruga, which is Italian for Place of the Turtle. Our turtle tank is in our dining room (that's just where it fits) and I'm NOT moving it just for a dinner, so I plan to just incorporate it into the general scheme of things. I found some beautiful pictures on Pinterest that I'm using for inspiration. I'll definitely share pictures of whatever I come up with. 

I hope this gives you some good ideas of fun (& inexpensive!) date ideas. I'm always looking for ideas & things I can tweak to make work for us, so if you have any ideas, feel free to share them with me in the comments! Remember the main thing is to have fun and connect with your loved one. Happy Dating! ;)

P.S. Don't forget to check out the "share the love" link party over at Keeping Up with the Cantelmo's!

Keeping up with the Cantelmos

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Brown ideas

Brown ideas

Note from me: I didn't actually mean for this to post to this blog... this was actually a project that I was working on for my other blog, but since it posted on here, and people like it, I'll just leave it! ;)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Reminders of love

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I was getting ready to go to bed after a particularly rough day. I don't remember all that had happened, just that I felt like nobody loved me. As I crawled into bed, I saw that my mom had made my bed for me (yes, I was old enough to make my own bed and I was supposed to, I just hadn't that day... maybe my disobedience was why I was having a bad day). I know that's a little thing, but as I snuggled under the covers, I thought, "Wow, my mom really does love me." Now, both of my parents have always shown their love for all of us kids in many different ways, over and over, but for some reason, that one incident really stuck with me. It made such an impression on me that, as I got older and went through other rough days, I remembered that one incident, and knew that no matter what, my mom loved me. Each time I remember that night, I can feel the snuggly blanket and cool sheets, and the comfort of knowing I am loved.

My mom isn't the only one that I have that sort of memory of. God has also proven to me over and over that He loves me. There are so many things that I can look back to that remind me that He will take care of me- the time that I was scheduled to have a very expensive dental procedure, and God healed my tooth... the time that I prayed for a blender and God let me win a better, fancier one than I had ever imagined... the time that I waited and prayed and waited and prayed and waited and prayed for "the one" God had for me and He gave me Nathanael... the looong year that Nathanael was deployed that I thought would never end, but God brought us through it. God has worked out so many situations for me, and proven over and over that He loves me. Those memories give me hope and strength that whatever happens in the future,  I can rest in the assurance that He knows, He cares, and He loves me enough to do what's best for me.

As Valentine's Day gets closer, I want to remember to focus on love. Not just my love for my husband and all of those mushy things ;), but the love that God has shown me... and the love that He wants me to show others. What things am I doing for others that will serve as a reminder to them that they are loved? And am I using the blessings of love that God has already given me to remind me that He is gracious?