Living free because Jesus Christ chose me. Wife to Anthony. Love reading, blogging, crafting & cooking! Sac State MA alumni, passionate about Special Education. 

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Tuesday
Mar252014

8 Years Ago...

I married my best friend.


I thought I loved him then! I didn't know you could grow to love someone more with time's passing. The weeks have turned into months and years. The time we've spent together causes my heart to grow more in love than I'd ever imagined.

We met a long time ago and started hanging out a lot in 2002 or 2003. The timeline is fuzzy, because it's hard for me to recollect being an adult and him not being around.


Our relationship has been through instant messaging, text messaging, emailing, phone calling, instagramming, and facetiming. We've been there for each other through marriages, deaths, moves, breakups, infertility, babies, and so many other things. We've been around for short hair, long hair, soul patches, clean shaven, beards, faux hawks, weight changes, and more!




There isn't a day that goes by that I don't talk to him. He's the first person I tell when something is good or bad. He's seen the best of me and sadly the worst of me too.



There have been Christmases and birthdays, steaks and cakes, feasting and eating, and coffee and coffee and coffee.


We've travelled along the entire West Coast, across the midwest, and down the East Coast. We've been on trains, planes, boats, bikes, ferries, and cars. We've walked and talked along the streets of Sacramento, San Francisco, Monterey, Portland, Seatte, Vancouver, New York City, Washington DC, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Durham.






There have been many, many trips to the Happiest Place on Earth.



There have been sleepless nights and long conversations into the wee morning hours. There have been prayers prayed, songs sung, tears shed. And there has been a lot of laughing and joking and smiling.

We've started and finished school. We've gotten into debt, we've paid off debt. We've saved up for things we needed to buy.


We've seen job: changes, successes, resignations, and hunts.

This last year has been our best and hardest one yet. Our family has grown!


We've stared together at our sweet boy and just smiled.

I can't imagine a life where Anthony wasn't in it and I'm so glad I don't have to!

Happy 8 years to my wonderful Hubster. I love you and can't wait to see what's up next.

Saturday
Mar012014

February 2014 Recap

This has been a fun month! Sisters, cousins, smiles and snow were the major highlights. I'm using my Instagram pictures to tell you about this past month. 

My sisters and niece flew in at the end of January and got to experience the craziest snowstorm Raleigh has had in many years. Lucky for us we had lots of food and things to do to stay busy. Olivia loved her cousin and calls him "Ssss" or "baby." Heidi knit Sammy the cutest green blanket. Heidi (on the left in the pic below) and Heather (in the middle) brought Samuel tons of clothes and he was able to celebrate the Olympics with his own sweater. We facetime each other quite frequently and Olivia is truly a little ham. In the picture, she thought it would be funny to have two hats on. 

The second week in February, Raleigh got hit with another snowstorm. Since we were going to be home for a few days, I finally picked up my knitting and finished a cabled headband I'd been working on since the beginning of December! I had two Valentines this year and in the photo on the bottom corner I tried getting a smooch from my little Valentine. :-)

 (click on the picture to make it larger) 

I've been inspired by my sisters to keep knitting, so I made this little green beanie for Sammy. He needed a hat for this unpredictable weather we have in Raleigh. Seriously, in one week we had snow and it was almost 70 degrees. Last week my cousin Rachel came for a week. We were spoiled by her doing so much for us. Cleaning, cooking, and calming Sam the main things that occupied her time. We took her to Bojangles, Ole Time Barbecue, and Rach ate her first hush-puppy. We also introduced her to the Godfather series and we didn't even finish the 3rd movie in a week since we kept getting sidetracked! We did create the most delicious cheesecake and ate lots of tasty desserts. 

 

Remember when I met Gretchen Rubin? Rachel helped us hang up many of our pictures/artwork while she visited. I have been so surprised at the happiness boost I've had from hanging the pictures up. Anthony is sitting in his favorite chair with a picture above him titled, "What Goes Around Comes Around". Our friend Terry made it and I have a love-hate relationship with it. It's in our front room to remind me not to gossip. 

Every now and then I like to post an old picture on Instagram, for "throwback Thursday." The picture I put up was of Anthony and me in our backyard in Sacramento. It was in May 2011 and I had just finished my Master's degree. See that little picture of Sammy? He is wearing dark green overalls with a little fox on them! My mom got them for him and he wore them to celebrate his 2 month old birthday. Seriously, the time is flying by. Lastly, the picture of Sammy and me is to show a little onesie Heather bought him when she first found out we were trying to have a baby. It says "Here Comes Trouble" and it barely fit our little man. He's over 13 pounds now! Heather also sent us the Big Bang Theory on DVD to watch in the hospital when we were having Sammy. He came early so we didn't get to watch it then but now we're hooked. Bazinga!

In case you're curious, I used Instaport and PicMonkey to download my pictures and create the collages. 

Now March is here and begins a new month of family/friends visiting, Anthony starting a new job and more new experiences. Here's to a happy March, everyone!

Tuesday
Feb252014

Mom's Company Cheesecake

I love cheesecake, but tend not to make it because it's too labor intensive. When my mom was visiting after Samuel was born, she made us her cheesecake. It is super easy and isn't difficult to make. The sour cream topping hides any mistakes, bubbles, or variations in color!

My mom has an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's from the 70's, is hardbound and well worn. Inside this cookbook is a recipe for Company Cheesecake. I vividly remember eating this cheesecake over the years as we would have friends over for dinner or be guests at their homes. As you may know, I love modifying recipes. I didn't realize that characteristic was from my mom! Check out her recipe notes:

Mom's Company Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. Graham Crackers (aprox. 2 packages), finely crushed

  • 3 tbsp. Sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

  • 4 tbsp. Butter, melted

  • 3 (8 oz.) pkgs. Cream Cheese, softened (or whipped cream cheese)

  • 1 1/3 c. Sugar

  • 2 tsp. Grated Lemon Peel

  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

  • 4 Eggs

  • Sour Cream Topping: 1 c. sour cream, 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract, and 2 tbsp. Sugar (beat together)

Directions

Heat oven to 350. Mix cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon & butter. Press in bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool.

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Beat cream cheese in large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/3 cup sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add vanilla; beat in 1 egg at a time. Pour over crumb mixture.

Bake until center is firm, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least 3 hours, but no longer than a few days (if it lasts that long). Top with sour cream mixture.

Loosen edge of cheesecake with knife before removing springform pan. Cut and serve to friends and loved ones. Enjoy!

Sunday
Jan262014

A lot has happened...

...since my last post. 

To start we had our baby! Samuel Anthony Price was welcomed in to the world on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:11pm weighing 6 pounds, 14 ounces and measuring 20.5 inches.

 

The delivery was very fast and went as smoothly, especially since my birth plan goal was... to have a baby. We spent two nights at the hospital and were discharged in the afternoon on Christmas Day.

We celebrated Christmas at home as a family of 3 with a delicious meal Anthony made (heated up) from Whole Foods (thank the Lord for pre-made turkey, potatoes, gravy, and cranberry relish)! Our wonderful friends picked it up from Whole Foods for us and delivered to our house, so grateful for them. The next day my mother-in-law, Donna (or Grandma Don as we've been calling her, haha!) arrived and was our personal waitress, housecleaner, grocery shopper, and holder of the baby in the morning so we could sleep a couple hours. 

On Saturday, December 28, we received a phone call from my sister Heidi that my Grandma Coryell (Papa's sweetheart) had passed away in her sleep. We are so grateful she didn't suffer and was able to see a lot of pictures of Samuel. We also had the chance to Facetime with her on Christmas Eve and she was telling Sammy jokes. The next day, we found out Anthony's Grandpa Dave had passed away too. He had been suffering for some time and we are relieved he is no longer in pain. He helped raise Anthony and was always happy to share a bowl of French Silk ice cream and ice-cold Dr. Pepper with you, no matter the weather. 

Monday, December 30, we said goodbye to Donna and were surprised by my Mom and Dad coming into Raleigh a day early. After many delays and trip changes, they finally arrived to see our new home. They came bearing gifts and helped us organize our house. 

New Year's Eve landed us in the children's emergency room as Samuel wasn't breathing properly.

After a night of observation and tests we were discharged on New Year's Day with a clean bill of health for our sweet boy. We were grateful my parents were in town and here for the moral support we needed.  

My parents insisted we try Bojangles, we've held out for 6.5 months but gave in to the pressure. We also went out to dinner at our favorite BBQ in Raleigh: Clyde Cooper's BBQ.

We introduced Sammy to our favorite bakery and our friend: Tanya of Yellow Dog Bakery. We took Samuel to church for the first time and he was the best dressed person in the building. The following week we said goodbye to my Dad and Anthony continued orientation for his new job.

Samuel got his first official bath and gave us the cutest little grin.

My mom stayed with us another week. Thanks to my traveling hairdresser, Nicole, I finally got my hair done (third time of rescheduling finally worked)! Sammy was entertained by his Grammy (my mom) who held him and cooked Aebelskivers (Danish pancakes) for us. 

Last Saturday, we introduced Samuel to coffee culture at the Big Eastern Coffee Championship which happened to be held in Durham this year!

This past week has been our first week on our own. I began my new career as a stay-at-home mom (or domestic engineer). My boss is quite demanding, but rewards me with love and the cutest face I've ever seen. 

We are grateful to have survived the past 5 weeks. We already have a huge support system here in Raleigh and, of course, back in Sacramento. The tangible way people have given to us has helped carry us through these challenging weeks. I do not feel nearly as tired or beat up as one would think considering all that has occurred. I have constantly been reminded of two things that are the theme of my life and writing:

  • The Lord has been with us and has not abandoned us
  • I can live free of worry because the Lord is with us and will provide for us

Each day, I look at Samuel and am reminded of what his name means: the Lord heard my prayer. Thankfulness for the gift we have been given makes my heart want to explode with joy. 

Thursday
Dec192013

A Knitty Christmas

I have been working at a local yarn store in Raleigh called Great Yarns. The owner Mary was kind enough to hire me seasonally knowing I was pregnant and could only commit to working there for a few months. I have truly enjoyed getting to know the fellow knitting/crocheting ladies, especially Pam and Ellen. They have taught me a lot of new skills, including how to crochet and have encouraged me to push myself and try new things. 

A few weeks ago, the Hubster was perusing Krochet Kids' website and stumbled upon a cream and white striped stocking. He said, now that's a stocking that I would like to hang up! I looked at the picture and said, I can probably make that. His eyes got really big and he said, really? I said, why not? I work at a yarn store and the ladies can help me figure it out!

I went back to work and asked Ellen and Pam what they thought. They said, I should get on Ravelry (my username is malisaprice) and look up a pattern. Then we'd pick out the yarn and they'd show me how to create the large "sock". I found this Striped Stocking pattern from Bernat. Having come to the realization that I knit a little loose, Ellen suggested I use US size 7 needles and Plymouth Yarn's Encore Worsted. I bought three skeins and got busy. 

Last week I had a really bad cold and didn't go in to the yarn store. It was a bummer because I had gotten done with the easy parts of the stocking and was to the Heel section. I needed Pam or Ellen's help. Alas, I turned to YouTube and found this wonderful tutorial from Very Pink Knits with detailed videos on Christmas Stockings. 

In case you're curious, I used Encore Worsted colors Merry (1001- green and red), Winter White (0146), and Regal Red (9601) for the stockings. 3 total skeins made 2 stockings and I'm working on a smaller version for the baby!

I also chose to make a fabric lining using a little tutorial I found on Pinterest. As you may know by now, I LOVE stripes, so of course I was elated when I found a stash of fabric in my sewing desk in Christmas red, green and white stripes. I made the fabric lining slightly larger than the stocking, as the tutorial said, put the right sides together, sewed about 1/4 inch from the edge all the way down one side, around the bottom, and back up the other side. I left the top alone until I folded the edge down about 1/2 inch and sewed across the top to make a neat looking fold. 

I carefully stuffed the knit stocking into the fabric, wrong sides facing each other. I pinned the fabric to the knit stocking around the top.

Then I chose a thread that would blend in, for both stockings I used red, and hand-sewed the fabric to the knit stocking. 

Once done, I grabbed the bottom of the stocking and carefully turned it right side out, with the knit stocking showing. 

I still need to add a little ribbon to the left side of the top of the stockings to hang them up. The best part of this project has been how impressed the Hubster has been with my crafting skills. 

Amazingly, the finished size of the stockings are both very similar to each other and the pattern size! Yeah!!

One more thing, my sisters have both gotten in to knitting since I started this project and I think they'll be passing me up in knitting skills in no time. Especially Heidi, who has gotten a bad case of knitter's elbow due to knitting so much!

Monday
Dec162013

Defining Normal

Journal Entry: February 4, 2013 

"It's a normal night. I got home from work and asked Anthony if we could go for a walk. I noticed a package from Amazon sitting on the table. I didn't remember ordering anything, but, knowing me, that doesn't mean I didn't. I opened the package and found an item wrapped. It was the book, Jesus Calling, from my cousin Beth!

Anthony and I have begun to really enjoy walking together. It gives us a chance to talk without as many interruptions. I admit, we don't have as many interruptions as some people, but walking outdoors helps us focus on the conversation we are engaging in. We walked all the way to our friend Kelli's house. She gave us some water and we walked back home.

When we got home from the walk, I made dinner. Farro with Chicken Sausage & Apples. It was even better this time. We cleaned up the kitchen, got our coffee ready for tomorrow morning, and got my lunch ready for work tomorrow. We then folded our laundry.

Sitting down, I called my cousin to say thank you. Then I Facetimed my sister, Heidi, who told me about a doctor's appointment with Olivia."

Today: December 16, 2013

I'm sitting in my pajamas eating a huge bowl of oatmeal. It's 11:00 am and I don't have anywhere to go. Not because I don't want to go anywhere, but because we have one car and Anthony took it to work. I found this old post from February and thought it would be interesting to just write today and see the differences.

In February, I was worried we would never get pregnant. We had yet to visit North Carolina for the first time, but had already purchased our plane tickets to take the trip out here. We hadn't gone up to Portland for the second time in six months to meet the team of people that we would move to Raleigh with to help start this church. We hadn't started packing up our house, saying goodbye to everything that was normal to embrace a season of nothing being normal. Well, relatively nothing being normal. 

Normal is still being married to Anthony. Talking about the future. Dreaming about what our life will look like with the addition of our son any day. Normal in February was 3 day-shift workdays at the hospital for Anthony and a 5 day work week for me at the Department of Education. We were used to getting off around the same time each day, even though they were at different hours for both of us. With a few hours of quiet before Anthony got home from work, I would blog, clean the kitchen, make dinner, go grocery shopping, walk on the treadmill in our garage or a number of other things. Almost all of these activities would be done in silence. I would stop by Jackie's house to see her and talk about our life. I would visit with our wonderful neighbor, Stacey. I would also talk with Heidi about her experiences being a mom for the first time. 

Now, normal is Facetiming Jackie in the few moments she has free (she has 3 little ones under 2 1/2 now), discussing knitting problems with Heidi, phoning my Grandma to tell her we're thinking of her, love her, and are praying for her. It's long conversations with social services to check on application statuses. It's pouring over Instagram and thinking fondly of our family and friends. Trying not to be too sad that I'm not in the picture or around for when the picture was taken. It's discussing when my parents will come to visit, before the baby's born, during, or after. Arranging baby clothes, baby stuff, baby furniture. Scouring blogs to find out what I should pack in our "Go-bag." Texting Shannon to find out do I really need _____ baby item (she knows, she has 5 sweet children). 

Normal is sending pictures to my close friends of my stomach and stretch marks and saying... "What the heck?!? Will this go away?" It's a long conversation over the phone with my Aunt Becky to find out how she's doing, the kids are doing, and for her to say, "Keep going. We love you and are here for you." It's answering for the hundredth time, "We don't know if or when we'll every move back to Sacramento. We don't know what we're doing tomorrow."

It's thinking about when the baby will come. Will I actually know when I'm in labor or will I be surprised? It's having friends over for dinner when we don't have a table and trying not to apologize about the lack of furniture. It's being hospitable and generous. It's being ok with things that are uncomfortable. It's learning that life isn't what I planned and accepting that God has not forgotten us. No matter how we feel about it. 

He is Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting God, the Mighty Counselor, and the Great Comforter. He is familiar with pain, He is with us, He is probably even carrying us. It is remembering that Christmas isn't a failure if there are no presents under the tree. Or there's no money to buy gifts for family and friends. It's about the gift that we were given. Peace. God being with us. God being for us. God working through us. God using the mundane to capture my heart and say, Be Still and Know

Normal is all of these things and more. And what's so shocking is that it's in the normal, everyday life, that the Holy Spirit will speak and say: 

Do not worry about tomorrow. I take care of birds and grass. You are my daughter. How can I not take care of you? Just as you are making preparations to take care of your son, that's what I, the perfect parent, do for you. You are loved. You can never be forgotten. You are my child. Rest in me. My yoke is easy. My burden is light. I will teach you what that really means.

Is your normal any different today than it was in February?

Joining Heather for Just Write Tuesday

Friday
Dec062013

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I'm back at it again! Last time I made bread pudding, I had a little accident and ended up cutting my finger. I wrote about this tale at the beginning of the year. When I made the delectable bread pudding this time though, I did not have any emergencies!

Anthony has been working at the most amazing bakery called Yellow Dog Bread Company. I will be sharing more about the store in the next few weeks, as they deserve their own post, they're that good! Matt and Tanya Andrews, the owners, have been incredibly generous to both of us. One benefit of working at Yellow Dog is the free bread at the end of the night. Recently, Anthony texted me and said, Tanya wants to know if you can make pumpkin bread pudding out of cinnamon rolls. I said, I can't guarantee anyting but I will try it out. Worst case scenario: it doesn't work. Best case scenario: they are amazing. The best case scenario prevailed!

To start, you'll need 4 large cinnamon rolls. I cut the rolls in the morning and put them in a pan to dry out for a few hours. 

Once they've dried a little, add melted butter to the bread.

Stir the pumpkin mixture (recipe is at the end of this post), being careful to not topple over the mixing bowl with your baby bump.

Add pumpkin mixture to the cinnamon rolls.

Bake and add warmed maple syrup to the top once finished. 

Bon Appetit! The best part about using cinnamon rolls is the frosting will run to the bottom of the pan. When you take a bite, you'll get a burst of sweet.

Thank you, Tanya for the awesome idea. Here are the recipe details:

Cinnamon Roll Pumpkin Bread Pudding

(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 4 large Cinnamon Rolls, cut in to bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk (I used 2%, use whatever you'd like)
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 3 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tbsp. Vanilla Extract

Directions

Cut the cinnamon rolls and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Let the rolls sit out for a few hours to dry.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and add to cinnamon rolls. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Then wisk all other ingredients (except maple syrup) together in the same bowl. Pour over the top of the rolls. Using a spoon, make sure all bread has some of the pumpkin mixture. 

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the pumpkin mixture is cooked. Add maple syrup to the top once out of the oven. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

Enjoy!

Also, the Hubster said he wants to apologize for the photos. They do not make the bread pudding look nearly as appetizing as it was. This stuff was GOOD!

Tuesday
Dec032013

A Change of Heart

Trying to celebrate the small things has been the anthem of the past six months of my life. Many, many things have seemingly gone wrong since we moved to Raleigh. We didn't get jobs in the time we had hoped. We have burned through almost all of our savings. We both accepted non-career jobs to bring in money. In the midst of all of this, we are still rejoicing about being pregnant. 

You see, 2 years ago, we felt we should stop procrastinating and trying to prevent expanding our family (as if we actually had any control over that). Things did not go as we anticipated. We didn't get pregnant until April, a year and a half later. In that time frame, every one of our married friends got pregnant and most of them had their babies. Some of our dear friends even had twins, a dream I have always had. When we did get pregnant, it was the opposite time frame of anything I would have planned. 

We gave our notice to our landlord and employers on May 1st and 2nd. On May 3rd I took a pregnancy test and thought my eyes were broken. It was positive. I took two more that day because I was in utter shock. There was no way we were pregnant when we had just given up all the security in our life. When Anthony got home from work that Friday night, I gave him a Baby Taylor guitar, the way I had planned to tell him for years. I told him I thought I was pregnant and he was elated. After taking a total of 5 tests, I started to think this could be real. On Mother's Day we told our families we were expecting. They were so happy for us, yet disappointed we would still be moving to North Carolina. 

I didn't write about expecting a baby here on my blog for fear that a potential employer would Google me and not hire me because I was pregnant. Now, I wish I had written about our great news when I first wanted to. I didn't get the career job (aka higher paying with benefits) I applied and interviewed for. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, maybe it's because they weren't what God had planned. I hope someday I'll know the answer to my questions. In October, Anthony interviewed for a job at a large hospital in the area. Two weeks ago, they called him and offered him the position. Next week that job will start. It isn't exactly what we had been hoping for, but it will pay our bills and maybe even afford us the opportunity to travel again. 

I've always been a planner and an organizer. With the end of my pregnancy rapidly approaching, those 2 characteristics are in hyper-mode. I have lists and lists for lists. My inlaws came for a visit the week before Thanksgiving and my mother-in-law, who I fondly refer to as Grandma Don (short for Donna), helped me decorate for Christmas. Our Christmas decorations are all ready in case the baby decides to come before December 25th. Until then, we have been fixing burned out lightbulbs, getting the car serviced and detailed, and preparing for our little boy in every way we can.

As the month of December begins and the beautiful, shocking story of Christmas is told, I can't help but relate with Mary. How stressful it must have been to be so close to having Jesus and travelling so far. We are in a predicament with insurance. The baby is due New Year's Eve, will he come in 2013 or 2014? If he comes this month, it means we'll get a tax write-off, if he comes next month...if, if, if. I wonder if that's how Mary felt when there was no room for them in someone's home? Friends have often said they look forward to seeing me as a parent. Could that be they want to see how this organized, needs-everything-planned-out, person will handle the biggest variable ever? 

This day I reflect on the beauty and incredible challenge uncertainty has had on my "plans". I'm learning to believe that God really does take care of me. He might only let me see how his provision is for this day only though. In the past 6 months, Anthony and I have relocated across the country, found out we were having a baby, quit our jobs, applied for hundreds of new jobs, interviewed and started new jobs, left our community, started a new community, changed churches, and experienced the shock of a new state. When I list all of the changes we have made, becoming parents doesn't seem that major. Today I'm reflecting on the growth that change brings. I've discovered with my rapidly expanding body, growth leaves marks and is often uncomfortable. But there is the promise of something new on the other side. 

Joining Emily for:

Monday
Oct282013

California

We've lived in North Carolina for almost five months. At the end of September, we were able to fly back to Sacramento to visit family and friends and celebrate our baby with two baby showers!

A while back there was a prompt to write about California for 15 minutes on The Write Practice. We had lived in North Carolina for about 6 weeks when I wrote this: 

California

The Sunshine State, the 7th largest economy in the world, home of many liberal thinkers. Your beauty is renown. Some of the world's most beautiful coastlines, vineyards, trees, Home of the Happiest Place on Earth (aka Disneyland). Land of oranges, avocados, and everything in between. Where else can you go within one state and find deserts, oceans, lakes, snow, vineyards, forests, mountains, and plains? We cannot forget the beautiful bridge seen below!

photo credit: The Hubster

Plays, art, music and movies were made on your soil. You are home to many different nationalities and extremely varied cultures. So many songs have been written about or inspired by you. Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego. Each big city is so uniquely varied but calls you, dear California, home. Who can forget your golden, velvety poppy?

Interstate 5 runs through you, which may be the most boring freeway in the entire world. Some of the craziest people reside in your lands, yet the natives all know, there's something that connects us all, even though there's such diversity.

The food and coffee can hardly be replicated. Fresh, simple, delectable. So many reasons why people flock to you and choose to stay. Your people. Sometimes you love 'em, other times it's hard to. But there just something about a Californian.

What else can be said of this fair state? The way you attempt preserve the air is a little obsessive, but you're helping everyone breathe easier, through the smog. No one can forget your wildlife, especially the research done at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and various sanctuaries for creatures. 

To me, you'l hold a special place, one that others might not know until they've live there. 

There must be a reason why the Beach Boys once said "I wish they all could be California girls." My husband, Anthony, is lucky enough to have one and says he wouldn't want it any other way!

California, thanks for being yourself.

One more thing, GO GIANTS!!!

Monday
Oct212013

Remembering Papa

We've always called my Mom's Dad, Papa. He grew up in New Jersey with his parents, grandma, grandpa and aunt. In a house with 5 adults, he was the only child! That's a huge reason why, during the Great Depression, Papa was one of the very few kids that had braces on his teeth. He loved riding motorized things, especially Indian Motorcycles. Papa's dad owned a bicycle store and he loved helping in the shop. Papa got polio in his right arm which later prevented him from joining the military. This was a lifelong sadness for him because he loved the United States. He attended Colgate University and achievied a degree in Psychology.

He was a Republican through and through. But not just any old Republican, a Reagan Republican. In his den at my grandparents house, he had a huge poster of Ronald Reagan wearing a cowboy hat. He loved listening to Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio. I have many memories sitting in the backseat of Papa's yellow Volvo, VW Vanagon and pickup truck listening to El Rushbo. 

He retired from Liberty Mutual after 35+ years of working for them. He met my grandma at a company picnic and left a big impression on her by throwing her in to the pool. Little did he know, she didn't know how to swim. Amazingly, this was the beginning of their short dating and engagement. They got married February 19, 1949. This past February they celebrated 64 years of marriage.

It was Liberty Mutual that caused him, my grandma, mom, and her brothers to move from New Jersey to California back in the 60's. When my grandpa retired from Liberty Mutual he bought a convertible Volkswagen vanagon. He and my grandma spent a few weeks/months traveling to the East Coast to visit all of their relatives the summer he retired. When they got back home, he would take my sisters, brother and I camping, excursioning, and exploring in that vehicle. We fondly called it the Campening. 

Papa loved exploring nature and learning new things. He always loved medicine and I think if he could go back in time, he would have become a doctor. After he retired he logged more hours volunteering at Kaiser Permanente than any other volunteer in their history. Volunteering kept him thankful of his age and his health. He also loved music. He had many different guitars. My personal favorite was his Hawaiian guitar. He had a slide and would play it for us frequently. 

My siblings and I were picked up by Papa on Thursday mornings. We then spent the day doing schoolwork, eating lunch, and activities in the afternoon. Papa would take us on adventures. One time, we went in the Campening and he blindfolded us. He was teaching us about our taste buds. He had small bags of little treats and things to eat. Sour, sweet, savory, etc. He taught us about moss growing on the North side of trees. He taught us how to use a compass. He didn't want us to get lost if we were ever stranded in the wilderness. 

Papa and Grandma taught us about money too. They had a banking system called Coryell's Bank and Trust. It consisted of 4 ledgers with each of our names on the books and little banks they would put money in. We would earn money for chores or various projects they assigned. The point of these little banks was learning that money doesn't grow on trees. It was a fun way to learn about earning, saving and spending. 

Papa had three primary areas of the house that belonged to him. His den: where he always had a computer with games on it for us kids. His shed: where he had woodworking equipment and tools. His garden/the backyard: where he had a giant garden, fruit trees, and a big tree-swing. He was also in charge of the wood-burning stove and kept us SUPER toasty in the wintertime. 

I never saw Papa get mad at Grandma although he did raise his eyebrows at her many a time. He would try to help her make dinner, but she would always shoo him out of the kitchen. She would use his vegetables to make her salads and lemons to make lemon bars. Papa always had a garden outside in the backyard. The soil in that garden was premium quality. He would use cow manure and horse manure to ensure it was pristine. He had lemon and orange trees in the backyard too. I've never seen anyone with as many zucchinis, lemons, and oranges, as Papa. He loved garlic with his salad, but it would always give him gas. We were all ecstatic when a company invented Beano. 

When Grandma would let Papa in the kitchen, it was primarily for breakfast. He made the best eggs you've ever eaten. They introduced us to Taylor Ham, a very salty meat that is fried and served alongside pancakes, eggs, etc. The other tasty thing Papa would make is his spaghetti sauce. This sauce took all day and was full of meat and everything Italian. It is best with angel hair pasta. They also made the BEST cold cut sandwiches because they always bought fresh meat and cheese from the deli. 

Papa has always been one of the most generous people I've ever met. He would give you the shirt he was wearing if you were to tell him it was nice. He had a tendency to spoil us. He would try and sneak candy to us before dinner to hear Grandma yell at him that we better not spoil our supper. Papa was always supportive of any endeavour we would try. And not just verbally supportive, financially too. He and Grandma paid for the majority of all of our braces, helped my parents with extra-curricular activities, guitar lessons for me, piano lessons for Heidi (thank God for that or I would have never met Anthony), voice lessons for my sisters and me, and even helped pay for our college. I could hardly drive to their house without them trying and mostly succeeding at giving me money to help pay for gas. They would always treat our family to dinner whenever we would go out and get mad if my parents tried to pay. 

Papa and Grandma welcomed everyone in to their home. They had a prayer list that lasts for about 30 minutes when prayed all the way through, maybe more. Before we started dating, they had a soft spot for Anthony. I think it's because he and Papa shared a love of guitars. When I told them we were together, they were elated. Sadly, Anthony was with my sisters and cousin when we found out my Uncle Ray had died. At his memorial service, Anthony, Heidi and Heather all played and sang. I remember how much it meant to my grandparents, especially Papa, they had played for his service. At our wedding a few months later, Anthony and I honored them for being the longest married couple in attendance. And, it was only fitting that the true Patriot Papa was shone through. He wore a suit and his tie had the United States flag on it!

Seeing them age has been one of the hardest things about being an adult. When Papa fell a year ago, that began his health decline. There were times when I didn't want to see them age, so I would let more time go by in between visits. I then realized I would regret not seeing them. I loved visiting them because they would always encourage me in my faith. They would tell me about times they heard the voice of God and listened to his leading in their lives. It was sad when we told them we were moving to North Carolina, but they said that if God was telling us to go, we had to listen. They faithfully prayed for Anthony and I in whatever area we needed prayer. When we had trouble getting pregnant, our baby was prayed for daily by them. It was a huge answer to prayer when I told them we were expecting our first baby. 

On May 27th, the day we started our move to Raleigh, we stopped by their house and gave them hugs and kisses. When we visited Sacramento at the end of September we also saw them. We told them how life was in a new city, how the church was going and that Anthony was playing on the worship team. That made Papa very happy. He tried to give us a number of items in their home, but we said we couldn't fit them in our luggage. We also got to tell them what we're planning to name their great-grandson and they thought it was a strong name. When we left, I said, I love you and I'll see you soon. I hadn't expected that it wouldn't be so soon for me.

Papa passed away peacefully on October 19, 2013. He is in heaven rejoicing and playing his guitar with a host of other musician friends. He is in no pain, physically or emotionally. I rejoice that he is reunited with his two sons, Ray and Mark. And that someday we will join him.

I will always remember my loving, generous, compassionate, and caring, Papa. I wish he would have been able to meet our son.