New Job!

I am excited to have begun my new job at Westover (our church)! What a blessing to have received a job opportunity to work at such a wonderful and meaningful place in my life! I spent the last two weeks training the new person at my old job; its nice to leave on such good terms with all of them.

I will have to write lots about all the ministries that I'll be involved in...but for now, the headache of "first-day overload" is making my temples throb...so its early to bed tonight! 8:41 pm or not, its time to turn in soon! ;)


My growing garden!

I worked in my garden this weekend, pulling up all the unwelcome weeds and grass attempting to take over the bed. It was pretty hot out, but I never knew I would enjoy digging in the earth and a sweating brow so much! Eric was doing yard work: mowing the grass, using the weed wacker, and laying new mulch. It was fun to be out there together.

I am so encouraged by how much my veggies plants are growing!! I am so excited about veggies fresh out of my garden soon and have already enjoyed having fresh herbs on hand. So far, gardening for me has been so worthwhile - it is relaxing to be out there, a definite stress-reliever. I look forward to honing my gardening skills in the years to come - already a life commitment after a month off the ground? Premature euphoria of my success? Perhaps - only time will tell! ;) I have already started my planning for what will go in for the fall harvest...but I'm trying not to get ahead of myself. For now, I will wait in anticipation for those fragrant green tomatoes to turn a rosy hue. I forgot how amazing tomato plants smell! On that note, let me share a little something I learned this week about commercial tomatoes that you buy in the regular grocery store. Those tomatoes have to be picked while they are still green, since they have so long to travel from the vine to your shopping cart. Then, to get them to turn prematurely red, argon gas is used, which, coincidentally is also used to slaughter poultry...huh?? Someone want to explain that one? Anyway, now you know why tomatoes from the farmer's market (aka fresh) taste completely different than tomatoes from the store (aka unripe, unnaturally processed!) Still no denying it, tomatoes are delish no matter what, but now you've heard my two cents on where you should buy them... ;)

Woah...can someone say long winded? *tap, tap* this thing on? Are you still with me?


Dill - this one has grown out of control!

My mint...isn't it gorgeous?

Fresh thyme

My green/red peppers!!! These are the biggest triumph so far! They are just babies right now, but I flipped when I first saw them!

My little cherry tomatoes...I have clusters of these all over the place!

Look at this adorable sweet banana pepper!! Eric is really excited about these!

My cucumbers...aren't these unique, beautiful leaves?

My watermelon plant...yet to bear the first bloom. I have faith it's coming though! ;)

And finally...the big mamas. The early girl tomatoes that are just waiting on their crimson kiss before their big debut!

Well that's all you'd want to know and then some! I will keep the updates coming, hopefully a recipe will be coming one day using them as ingredients! ;)


Sweet baby Oliver

My time in Seattle with Luca came and went all too fast and I have literally hundreds of pictures I've been waiting to display, to convey how proud I am to be his Aunt. He is just cute as a button - my favorite nickname that I couldn't hold back calling him is Luca Bear. He is just as soft, cuddly, and fuzzy (that soft head of hair!) as a little bear cub. I can't wait to show you how much fun we had together.

But the joy of being home again, with my husband and kitties, was dampened Saturday night. The unthinkable happened. My sweet, baby Oliver died in Eric's arms. It was a blur...a dream...a nightmare. Eric and I were relaxing on the couch; watching some Friends. Oliver was cuddled up to my legs, laying on the blanket on my lap. He jumped straight up 2 ft into the air, looking as if something had spooked him (cat's have freaky senses and sometimes get scared by something we can't even see or hear). As I looked to make sure he was ok (he had jumped off the couch), I saw his poor little body was continuing to freak out! I leapt to my feet and yelled to Eric that something was seriously wrong...both our stomachs jumped into our throats...No, Oliver, this couldn't be happening! I ran faster than the wind to our neighbor's house, who is a vet. Though it was the least of my concerns in that moment, I later apologized for having interrupted his dinner with his family. He told me where we could take him to an emergency vet (which thankfully was less than 3 min. from our house). As I sprinted back in our house, we gathered Oliver up in the carrier and rushed to the vet...but Eric already knew what was true: Oliver was already gone, having died in his arms within 2 min. of his body's initial reaction. He was taken and rushed to their examination room, and we were brought into a private waiting room. Moments later, the vet came to tell us that Oliver had passed on. The world was spinning - I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see straight with more tears streaming down my face than I knew my tear glands were possible of making. I wanted her to check again, and to keep checking until they found his pulse. He couldn't be gone - he was my baby and I couldn't bear leaving without him purring in my arms, having been assured that he would be ok. But instead, I was having to sit in this waiting room, having to say my goodbyes to the most affectionate, sweet spirited I've ever known. I feel like it is amazing how much we, as humans, can learn from our dear pets. Oliver did not know the emotion 'mad' or 'mean'. He had no concept what a grudge was or how to hold one. He only knew love and affection, comfort, and joy. Those traits of his character were the contributions he made to my life. His soft, tender purring never failed to calm my anxious or sad heart on the hard days. He would just come and sit with me, purring to soothe my concerns. On the happy days, he was a hoot - trying to show Marzell who was boss (hilarious) and barking at the birds outside. He loved to play, chasing toys up and down the hallway in his distinctively erratic and uncoordinated way. He loved to burrow under blankets or anything separating you from him, in order to get himself as close to you as he could manage. We miss the pitter-patter of little paws following us around the house; Oliver defined the essence of companionship flawlessly.

Eric and I have been considering so many reflections of life out of our unexpected loss of Oliver. We cling to each other with a renewed value on just how fragile life is. It is not something to take for granted or to expect control over, no matter how healthy or young we think we are. We are but a breath; James 4:14 says, "Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."

The Lord gave us the blessing of a lifetime having Oliver and we will always treasure the precious memories and photos we have of him. I know time will heal and believe me, I am counting on it, because right now my heart feels broken in pieces.

My sweet baby, Oliver, you will be missed.