Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hanson...Yes, I said Hanson

My darling friend/coworker Cathryn is from North Carolina. She is an avid Hanson fan. I truly don't think I can convey the extent to which she loves Hanson. Yes, I'm talking about the 3 brothers, "Mmbop"-singing, instrument-playing Hanson. Did you all know that Hanson still tours and records? SURPRISE! Cathryn has not missed a Hanson concert yet. The issue that Cathryn has found is that it's difficult to find friends to accompany you to a Hanson concert, but that it's also not fun to enjoy alone. So, Cathryn has some friends who like her enough to accompany her to Hanson concerts. Last weekend, that someone was me and Susanna. Kathleen met us for dinner, but she moved to Indiana a couple days later, so she had to return home to pack (I don't want to talk any more about that...).

So Susanna and I attended the Hanson concert at Club Nokia with Cathryn. Words cannot express the events that ensued that evening...

More pictures to come as many were on Susanna and Cathryn's cameras. I'll pass them along as I get them.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Movember is a tradition originated by some men in Australia. In order to raise awareness and money for prostate cancer research, they do funny things with their facial hair for the month of November. That is why it's called "Movember" -- mustache + November = Movember.

So, in light of this tradition, for the second consecutive year I'll be participating in Movember. To see what I did last year, click here. This year, however, I decided, with my wife's misguided consent, to grow only a mustache.

Since Halloween is the day before Movember began, I first had a bit of fun with my facial hair, rocking the walrus-style fu manchu. Goose Gossage would be proud!

The following day I shaved off the bottom portions, and moved my sideburns up a bit too. So now I'm sporting the "I look way too much like my dad at this age" facial hair do.

Last year I did this to raise awareness for autism (click here to read more about that). This year, however, I want to shed light on another issue: namely, child mortality. While the rates of infants and under-five children who die in the US are relatively low (6.3 and 7.8 out of 1000 live births respectively) [SOURCE 1, 2], there are many places in the world where this is not the case.

In fact, there are five countries who have under-five mortality rates at or above 20%. Those countries and the number of under-five death per 1000 live births are Mali (199.7), Liberia (205.2), Angola (230.8), Afghanistan (235.4), and Sierra Leone (278.1) [SOURCE 1, 2]. Here is a map [SOURCE] which highlights well the areas of our world that are struggling with this issue the most (dark red indicates the highest rates):

What are the causes of death for these children? Lots of things, many of which are preventable, such as infections, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and malnutrition [SOURCE]. In other words, with the provision of medication and educations, some of these deaths could be prevented.

In the remaining days of Movember I am going to be thinking about how I can get involved in the solution to this issue. I hope you'll join me on this journey!

For more information on child mortality, I recommend the World Health Organization's website as a starting point.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween ends and MOVEMBER begins

As many of you know, I LOVE Halloween!!! I think it's so much fun to get all dressed up and welcome autumn into our lives. I've always lived in the south, and Halloween usually is the time when Indian summers are over and the cooler weather comes along (except, of course, in LA, where we only have 2 seasons--really really hot and slightly less hot). I love love love chilly weather!! I know there is much religious tension wrapped up in Halloween, but I choose not to get fussied up in that aspect. I love celebrating the fun that can be found in pumpkin carving, scarecrow decorating, dressing up, and eating candy! Growing up, my parents always made it about fun and family. I have lots of fond memories of Halloween. I could go on and on about my love affair with Halloween, but I'll spare you.

This year, we attended the Crossroads Halloween party at Hai's house. There were some fun times, yummy food, and creative costumes. Matthew and I decided to go as hippies, complete with Matt's facial hair. We also decided to implement an act of improvisational hippy singing. It was quite excting, I'm sure.

Mummy Dogs I made for the party

Joe and Ginger as rockers (Bono and Fergie-ish), in honor of the U2-Black Eyed Peas concert
Elizabeth the peasant
Nick as Superpoke
Postman Hai
The Nishizaki's as Japanese tourists
Carol and Mike (he's not so into Halloween)
Our hippiness
Our improvisational singing...
November 1 also marks the beginning of Movember. Matt's coming along with another blog about this, so just stay tuned...

Friday, October 30, 2009

A New Addiction...And Other October Fun!

The past few weeks have been riddled with excitement. The weekend after our anniversary was our friends' Joe and Ginger's wedding. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!!! I think Ginger was such a radiant bride and the event was just all-around good fun! Matthew was a groomsman (I love him in a tux!), so I had a lot of downtime during the rehearsal and the pre-wedding pictures. Well, thank goodness I did!!! I got to entertain the 3 most fantastic children I have ever met, Hope, Ella, and Nate, who just happened to be the 2 neices and nephew of the groom. Now, I know I 've met some phenomenal children, I mean I work with them every day. But I really don't think anything compares to the 6-year-old, 4-year-old, and 2-year-old that I had the privilege of entertaining for most of the day and into the evening. I'm now obsessed with these children--as the pictures below will convey (posted with their parents' permission, of course). This, my friends, is why I love other peoples' children. I am now completely in love with, not only these children, but the bride and groom's entire families. They were so sweet and so much fun to be around! Check out the pics...


Our friend Sarah was also in the wedding (as was her husband, Joe, not pictured)
The Rehearsal Dinner at Texas Barn Burner, baby...mmmmmm


Matt and Joe, the groom
Matt and Joe, the groomsman
Matt and Nate
Alida and Nate
Alida, Hope, and Ella
Alida and Ella

Hope getting the dancing started at the reception
Nate, quite the ladies' man
Alida dancing with Ella
Alida teaching Ella to snap (this is a hard skill to learn)
Dancin' the night away...
The handsome couple....Mr. and Mrs. Joe Demers!!!!

The following weekend, we got to go to the U2 concert at the Rose Bowl. We were very smart (and lucky) in that we decided to not even try to battle traffic and just walked the 2.5 miles down to the Rose Bowl. The concert was AMAZING! At one point, Bono asked that all the lights be shut off and we all just held up our cell phones to light up the stadium. It was really neat-o!
The stage was crazy!
Bono doing his THANG
There were over 100,000 people there. It was a crazy mass of folks. Good thing I don't mind crowds!

This weekend, we also carved our Halloween pumpkins. I love love love Halloween and carving pumpkins is one of my favorite parts. A picture of Humphrey, our pumpkin from last year, is one of the first posts on this blog! This year, Matthew got quite creative and carved Aloycious, Mortimer, and Orville. I just scooped them out and made lots o' yumminess with their seeds (a la Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Peppery Pumpkin Seed Toffee).

Friday, October 16, 2009

7 Year Itch

This past Monday was our seventh anniversary. Wow!!! We've been married 7 years. That's crazy!!!!!

Matthew planned a surprise trip to Solvang, a precious little Danish community north of Santa Barbara.

We just hung out around town, looked in all the CUTE little shops, had some yummy Danish food, and enjoyed being together. Matthew is adorable and found this website called to find out all the things we can do with Sunnie so we didn't have to leave her behind. Here are some pictures of the trip...
While I realize this is more Dutch than Danish, I just couldn't resist!

The dog-friendly horse-and-trolley tour of Solvang was definitely a highlight!Sunnie in her pink camo polo shirt. I think it's so not right that our sweet little girl has chest hair poking out...

Every year, our anniversary tradition is to not get one another gifts. We feel that it's one less thing to stress us out. Instead, we go shopping for a gift together in that year's traditional gift. Here are our 7 anniv gifts thus far and something exciting that happened that year.....

2003; 1st anniversary: Paper: Matt wrote a poem for us and set it to music. So I guess, he actually wrote a song. Our first year of marriage we survived the first year of our Master's Degrees and we got our precious puppy, Sunnie Bernice Barnes.

2004; 2nd anniversary: Cotton: Comforter and sheets. We had moved into the 3-bedroom house in Speegleville and were using Matt's old college sheets in the guest room. We decided to buy a cotton comforter and sheet set that looked a little more grown-up. We actually use it on our bed now since we don't have a guest room and the cotton is easier to launder than the fancy comforter we got for the wedding. With no A/C, that makes a big difference! Our second year of marriage, I graduated with my Master's Degree and entered the workforce!

2005; 3rd anniversary: Leather: Photo album. We bought a red leather photo album which I used to put our pictures of our dating life in, kind of our little love story. Our third year of marriage, we went to London and Matt graduated with his Master's Degree and was ordained into the ministry.

2006; 4th anniversary: Flowers: Green flower pot with faux flowers. We can't keep real plants alive to save our lives (although, we've gotten better lately), so we went faux. Our fourth year of marriage, God sent us packing to live in Pasadena, CA so Matt could work on his PhD. This was also the year Matt officiated his first wedding.

2007; 5th anniversary: Wood: Wooden salad bowl and serving spoons. This was the year we went to Hawaii for our anniversary. While there we found the salad bowl and thought it would work nicely for us. Our fifth year of marriage was also the year we went on a mission trip to Cambodia, which changed so much of our outlook and our relationships with the Lord.

2008; 6th anniversary: Iron: Cast iron griddle. Matt has really gotten into cooking, so he discovered that he could definitely use a cast iron griddle. It's come in quite handy! Our sixth year of marriage, I received a promotion at work and became the head of the speech department as well as experienced several other career firsts. Matt also stuck with me and encouraged me as I trained for and completed my first half-marathon!

2009; 7th anniversary: Copper: Brass cross with copper bells. Matt and I started collecting crosses when we got engaged. It just kind of happened, we didn't plan it. Now we look for unique crosses that really speak to us about some aspect of our relationship with the Lord. We saw this cross at a store manned by a gentleman who was wheelchair-bound. He was so nice and great to converse with. As someone who works with people with special needs, I felt that this would remind me of the success that can be found despite internal or external limitations. Our seventh year of marriage has been one of change, challenge, and education. Matt has completed his proposal and has turned 30. This has been a great year! I can't imagine my life without Matthew. He is the man who compliments every part of me. He is loving, thoughtful, encouraging, and comforting. He makes me laugh, holds me when I cry, and allows me to write random songs when I'm stressed. He understands the parts of me that don't even make sense to me. God absolutely created us for one another and I'm so thankful!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

THE PROPOSAL IS IN!! (and other excitement of September)

The rest of September has FLOWN by!!! What a crazy month! Some fabulous blessings for this month include...

Matt completed his dissertation literature review and proposal!! He emailed it to his mentor, who is currently in Cambridge, but there was not rest for the weary, poor guy.

We attended the engagement party of our lovely friends, Joe and Ginger. It was a beautiful evening and the food was quite yummy!

That same weekend, Matt's parents came in for a visit. What a blessing they are! How did I get so lucky to have such fun, understanding in-laws? We had a great time. We went to San Diego for a day trip. We took a trolley ride around town, hung out in Little Italy, and watched the seals in La Jolla.
Mike and Karen were so understanding on Saturday, they let Matt sleep in a little. We hung
around the apartment for a while and then took a tour of the Gamble House (the winter home of the Gamble family, of Proctor & Gamble fame).
Karen wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner on Saturday for her and Matt's birthdays (which are both in September), so we went to Malibu and ate at the delicious Geoffrey's right on the beach. What a lovely sunset!
We also got to hang out with them, watch football, and just generally converse. Matt also took them shopping while I was at work. They are such a blessing to us in so many ways!

The following weekend, we supported the Living Well Pregnancy Center's fundraising walk. It was really hot outside!

Then we went with several friends to the USC/Washington State game. Despite some poor sportsmanship on the field and some ridiculous traffic issues (gotta love LA), it was fun! We really enjoy being with our wonderful friends.

This past weekend, Matt and I got to go to another movie at the Santa Monica Pier. We met some of my coworkers there and watched Ferris Beuller's Day Off. What a great flick!

On Saturday, Matt and I went to San Bernadino County and went raspberry picking and to a pumpkin patch. It was a lot of fun! Although, we learned some things to do differently next year, the berries are DELICIOUS!!
So, now that we're all ready for fall, what with our pumpkins, football, and such, I wonder what October will hold...