Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: New Year's Prayer

My wishes for 2011 are simple and basic: health, love, and happiness.

I pray for more faith, to grow with God, and live less according to my fears and anxiety.

I pray for good heath for loved ones.

I pray for less heartache for those I love as well. No more deaths or broken hearts.

I pray for many family moments, laughter to the point of tears, time spent with good friends, and peace - globally, domestically, and personally.

I pray 2011 is our best year yet.

New Year's Eve

My new year’s eve definitely turned out differently than I expected.

Nana had to go to the hospital on Monday night and my parents went to Long Beach to be with her.

Yesterday, Dad and I switched places and I went and joined Mom with Nana. She is doing fine, but had to stay for a bit because her blood pressure is too high. We were very worried that we’d spend New Year’s Eve in the hospital and our hotel room, but thank God, Nana was released tonight!

The good news of my stay in the hospital was the beautiful view of Long Beach Nana had in her room!

You could see the downtown sky line and sort of the ocean. Mom and I also went to the newborn nursery floor yesterday and today. That was definitely the best part! Today we saw the sweetest little baby boy. He was born at 2:20pm, weighed 7.8 pounds and was 19.5 inches. Too perfect. Nice to see a new born for the New Year.

Now, it is 10:43 and I am with my parents watching Ryan Seacrest's show, Carson Daly's show, and Anderson Cooper's show. I heart Anderson Cooper. I'm sure I'll be the only one up (in then house) at midnight, but I'll celebrate for sure! Haha.

Hope you enjoy ringing in the new year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: What others have to say...

One of my favorite things to do is read other's blogs. I especially love year in review posts. Here are reviews from some of my favorite bloggers (add them to your blog list for 2011, okay?):

 C Jane Enjoy It.

Naturally Nina.

Jasmine Star Photography.

Rockstar Diaries.

Noisiest Passenger.

A Cup of Jo.

Looking forward to reading more over the next couple days! I'll add them as I find them. :)

2010 in review

I’m not sure I have ever been so glad to see a year-end. 2010 was not my best year. Actually, it was not the best year for my family or many of my loved ones. The worst part of the year was losing Grandma. It basically shadowed all of this year. Ironically, as I write this year end post my Nana is in the hospital. Pray she heals and is fine.

Along with losing Grandma, my best friend, Rachel, lost her Dad and the Randant’s lost Marty. I have learned a lot about grief this year. I’ve learned how strong it makes people and how every person processes it differently. I’ve learned it makes holidays harder and can show up at the most random times. I’ve been reminded that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

This year has also brought personal struggles with anxiety and stress. It has brought tough work decisions and lots of difficult learning moments.

However, I hate to be “glass half-empty,” so I have to admit that there were good times in 2010 too. I wrote about some of these moments in November. The best part was my New York trip with my parents (only to be made better if my sister had been able to go). I also got to meet Anne Lamott and hear her speak, as well as attend the Glee concert. I spent a lot of time with good friends too. Plus, I graduated with my masters! So glad I am ending 2010 on a positive note.

This year I learned to be even more comfortable on my own. Learned to accept things as they are and react to minimal change in a minimal way, rather than dramatically. I cooked a Thanksgiving meal – and enjoyed it. And spent a lot of time relaxing, which sounds lazy, but is actually quite wonderful.

It has certainly been a year of change, learning, faith, and perseverance.

Happiness is...

Sitting on the couch, fireplace lit, reading with my sis (me: blogs, her: books), beloved dog at our feet, and now watching Sound of Music. All on a rainy day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The day after Christmas

Hope you all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations. We spent Christmas Eve with the Helton's, which is always a nice tradition. I had a great Christmas day. Spent time opening presents in the morning with my parents, Ashley, and Nana. The Tilton's came over in the late morning to celebrate. We ate lots of good food, opened more gifts, and laughed a lot. There were some tears as we said goodbye because we all missed Grandma so much. We knew the first Christmas without her would be tough, but I think we did very well. That night Dad and I went to the movies to see The Fighter (very good, by the way).

Here are some pictures (on my new camera, of course):

Made Christmas Cookies with Nana.

 The family room.

The extended Tilton family: me, Aunt Connie, Uncle George and my sis. Bottom row: Aunt Diana and Tiffany.

 Mom's dining room table.

Ash and I opening stockings.

My family.

Happy day after Christmas! Yay for a week of paid vacation.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Dear You,

Thank you for reading this blog! Thank you for spending time in your day with me. I really appreciate it. I wish each one of you a better ending to your 2010 than it began (even if it began happy). I wish you quality time with those you love, a house full of warmth, good food to eat, a visit to a church service, and I hope that you will be a Christmas miracle to someone else this season. I wish you a season of relaxation, laughter, friendship, good health (for you and those you love) and joy. Be happy and merry. 

Blessings to each of you and a very merry Christmas!


Luke 2: 4-20
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

(photo here). 

Weather or not, here it comes!

Oh my goodness it is wet here in sunny southern California! 

It has been raining steadily since Friday. On one hand, I completely love it. I have often thought of moving to a place where it rains and is cloudy most days. I love cloudy days. On the other hand, driving in the rain is no fun. Plus, holding an umbrella and your purse and a lunch bag and five presents, is no easy task. Sigh. 

It is supposed to clear up tomorrow through Christmas. But I wouldn't mind if it stuck around for a while.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photos from my day

Today was so rainy! I love that the weather is reflecting Christmas-time! I braved the rain a couple times today, but most of today I was cozy in my room. Love a lazy day.

I experimented with my new camera today and here are some of my pictures:

The view from my parents’ hotel room.


My zoom feature. Love the way this picture turned out!


A quick tour picture tour of my apartment (for Amy, who wrote me about hers a while back).

The living room.


The kitchen.


My sister’s room.


My roomies’ room.


My room.


I re-did my bookshelves last weekend. Yes, I organized them in thematic sections.


The crazy rain.

DSCN0058(Sorry for the porch… it’s not jail). :)



Up next for the evening: wrapping gifts and watching Mad Men.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Master of Arts

I now have a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership.

I graduated today! Okay, technically, I am still finishing a class until the end of January. However, I did walk today! I am so happy. There is a kind of happiness when I graduate that is indescribable. You sort of feel like you're flying and seeing life through pink glasses. You feel complete joy and the whole ceremony seems surreal. I just smile the whole time. It is an incredible feeling. I wish I could bottle it up and give it to each and every one of you! It is awesome.

Today I had an early lunch with my parents, Nana, sister, her boyfriend, Chris, and the lovely, Nichol. I was so excited for my parents to meet Nichol. Then I went with my Mom early to graduation and showed her some of my favorite houses on the way. At the school I toured her around my office and then introduced her to some coworkers who were helping at graduation. After the ceremony I said hi to everyone and took pictures and then we went to dinner at North Woods. The group was my mom, dad, Ashley, Chris, Nana, my two aunts, my uncle, and my cousin. It was a fun dinner. I really did miss Grandma today though. I think we all did. 

When I got home from all the festivities I played with my new camera. It is a "real" camera with a lens and everything! I love it! My parents always buy me the best gifts. :) I think photography will be my new post-grad hobby.

(photo from Newsweek. Used during my capstone presentation).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Graduation: from the sandbox to the podium

This is a very special weekend for me. I am graduating with my masters degree. Pretty exciting. I don’t think I ever actually thought I would get a masters. Although I love school, I hate homework. Although I love reading, I am lazy and would rather watch TV. Although I get good grades, I always think the next section of school will be too hard to handle. Thus, although I had always considered a masters degree someday, I wasn’t always sure that day would come… especially three years to the day I graduated undergrad. I think that is the most mind boggling part of this whole adventure of an accomplishment!

Three years ago on this very day I was sitting in my favorite professor, Dr. Kern’s, office finishing up some grading for her (because I was her TA… probably the worst one she’s ever had because I had two jobs, 18 units, a sort of social life, and lived off campus with the best roommates in the whole world). Anyway, Dr. Kern was helping me apply to grad school. The plan was to start in the fall pursuing an English degree or an MFA in Fiction writing. As we were correcting one of my application essays, Dr. Kern stopped, looked me in the eye, and said “are you sure you want to do this? Because I don’t think you really do. It isn’t making you happy.” And with that, I broke down into tears told her I was very unhappy and really didn’t think I wanted to go to grad school yet, but didn’t know how to tell my parents or anyone else who believed I had potential. Plus, I was terrified about what life would look like without school. As usual, Dr. Kern knew all the right things to say and I ended up throwing away an application to UCI’s MFA program (including going back to the Registrar to request my money and transcript order back) and felt a huge sense of relief and excitement about what would be next for me. 

I had no idea three years ago that I would still begin grad school in the fall, but in a completely different field. I also never expected to work at APU still, nor did I expect to work in the department I am currently in. My life looks drastically different than it did that day and I could not be more glad. I can’t believe the paths God can lead you down in just three years. It is unfathomable how much I have grown through my job and my degree program, as well as my friend experiences and personal struggles over the last three years. I feel so much more confident in who I am and how I make decisions than I ever did three years ago. 

I do have to say that there are times in the last three years that have proven to be some of the most difficult moments of my life. But there has also been a lot of joy. And both have lead to a great deal of growth. I can’t believe how my life has turned out due to one beginning decision in Dr. Kern’s office and I am looking forward (with some hesitancy) to see where I am in three more years. 

Three years ago I decided to pursue happiness. I took a risk to take the path less traveled and it lead me right on to the same path I was originally going to take (i.e. get a masters degree, live on my own, have a full time job) but from a very different route. It was as if I was traveling and my destination was the 210 freeway but instead of taking the 5 freeway to the 57, I took the 15. Looking back on my whole journey since undergrad to now graduating with my masters degree just makes me realize that God can do amazing things in our lives. There is no one formula or one sequence to get us where we need to be. As long as we obey God, keep the faith, and live within His guidelines, we can do whatever we want. I always say we are all in God’s sandbox, and God doesn’t mind if we want to build a sand castle, or sit to the side, or dig a hole, or play with a sand bucket, as long as we don’t step outside of the sandbox, we can choose what we do. 

In the same way, what I have learned is that as long as you let God direct your steps, you can step however and wherever you want. You can even sprint, dance, or somersault.

Who knew a masters graduate could still learn so much from a sandbox? :) 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Taylor Swift,

I get it. Completely understand. Totally.

And, I'm jealous.


Monday, December 13, 2010

The house on Falcon

Last weekend my sister and I had quite the adventure. Actually, my whole weekend was an adventure, but this one with my sister takes the cake! Ashley and I were in Long Beach and while we were there we decided to go by our old house (we have two in LB, but one we remember much more than the other). Once my directionally talented sister got us to the right section of the street and we drove up and down it once, and then we found it! The house we lived at from '94-'96.

The house where we...
Played on the front porch before dinner.
Shared a room for a brief time. 
Created "Barbie city."
Had a small fire in the furnace and had to evacuate.
Watched Club Dance.
Had family movie nights were we charged our parents 50 cents and made popcorn.
Learned to love country music.
Made a lot of formative childhood memories.

So, here comes the real "adventure" part of the story... as we stared at the house, walked up to the house, took pictures of the house, and talked about the house, two men walked up the street with their dogs. I walked back to the car and Ashley said hello before also walking back to the car. When we turned around we realized it was their house! I nearly died of embarrassment since they completely saw us stalking their home! We hopped in the car, but weren't quite ready to leave, and before we knew it, one of then men waved us over and Ash bounded out of the car. (I, being the more cautious sister, locked the car and grabbed one of our cell phones just in case we had to call the cops... sorry, Mom!). He asked if we wanted to see the house and we said yes and then he let us come in! Craziness.

It was so unexpected and kind of awkward, but also wonderful and fun. We compared notes about the house and got a full tour. We ohh-ed and aww-ed about the changes they've made and I nearly cried when we talked about the neighbors (they were such a nice couple). It was too fun and a total God thing as far as timing goes. I mean really, when do you get invited into your old home?

It was all very much like the Miranda Lambert song "The House That Built Me." 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A quick hello

 (I am missing NYC today). 

Hello Blog! 

It feels like forever since I've written. Life has been very busy and I have plenty of blog posts to come about all that I have been up too. But for now, I am saying a quick hi (because my lunch break is almost over). 

I have finally caught up on my favorite blogs (haven't been reading just as much as I haven't been writing) and I must say that reading blogs is like coming home and catching up with a very good friend. I know we are strangers (well, most of the bloggers I read and I are), but I have grown to love them and miss their blog updates. Blogging really does make the world feel smaller. 

So, I hope that you are having a good day and week in general. Hallelujah, it is almost the weekend! 


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Part II

Highlight of the weekend: I cooked the entire Thanksgiving (part 2) meal. So exciting and fun! Didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. My mom supervised and before I knew it, the food was made and quickly devoured by the family.

Here are the pictures to prove it and to reveal what I made:








(butter, celery, and onion: my Mom’s favorite holiday smell).


Broccoli casserole:


Mashed potatoes.


My sister peeled them all.



The finished product (before):




In addition to the fabulous meal, we “decked (most of) the halls” by putting up both trees. Decorating one (so far).



Ashley and Chris (her bf) hung the lights.




It was a great weekend and got the holidays off to the right start.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

(cousins: me, Sarah, Tiffany, Mitch, and Ashley)

It went much better than I thought. Turned on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade first thing.

Today my Dad's side of the family got together at my Aunt Connie's. We do every major holiday together, but this was our first one since Grandma passed away. It was tough at times, but we kept the mood light and happy. We also invited some extended family down to join. Grandma would have been so proud, I miss her. I left first, but my Mom told me that my two aunts and Dad cried when they said goodbye. The reality of Grandma's absence hit them. Grief is such an interesting thing, I said a prayer for the Randant family and the Kennedy family, both of whom lost their Dads this year. It is a little comforting to think all three families (mine included) are dealing with loss. Holidays are tough the first year... or so I've heard and am learning.

Then I drove down to San Diego to stay at my parents' for the weekend. It is so nice to be home!!! Ash and I went to Michael's tonight (Thanksgiving sale). Driving home and around the neighborhood on such a beautiful cold night was perfect. And now Sleepless in Seattle is on! What could be better?

Happy Thanksgiving.