Saturday, July 26, 2008

"This smooth operator can do two things at once"

Will someone please tell me why my Herbal Essences 2-in-1 Shampoo + Conditioner is marked with these directions:

"hurry. let your hair drink up. rinse and repeat. it's twice as nice."

Isn't the point of using shampoo + conditioner that you only have to put it on once?

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Family Vacation!

We had our first ever family vacation this weekend. We drove down to Milwaukee to attend a family wedding (Jared's cousin, Staci). It was a mini family reunion, as we saw most of Jared's relatives (Jan's side) that we haven't seen in a few years. It was a very fun weekend catching up with everyone. We were a little uncertain of how Sophia would do since we have never traveled with her, but she blew us away. She was a little trooper and did GREAT the whole time.
Starting the 5 hour road trip

Jared drove the whole way. Thanks honey:)
Passing the time on Sesame Street
Stretching her legs at the hotel!
"Hmmm....What can I get into next?"
Playing with the ever-fascinating drawers

During the wedding ceremony, Sophia and I had to watch through a window. Sophie thought it would be fun to talk to the bride and groom as they walked by, and everyone else in attendance. We had play time in the hallway where she found two other babies to talk to. One would babble, then the other would respond with babble, then Sophie would babble. It was actually quite funny.

Family photo after the ceremony

Mr. and Mrs. Butalla

Jared and Sophia at the reception

Me and my girl at the reception

Eating our yummy dinner

Family dance

Sophia jivin' with her Daddy

When the music started and the disco lights came on, Sophia was totally amazed. She just couldn't get enough of the swirling lights.

Dancing with Cassie and Brandon

Congratulations Staci and Eric!

Ooooooh yeah. I'm ready to hit the road. Let's go home. (At McD's on the way home.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Work In Progress

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lately, I have allowed myself to be caught up in the busyness of life. I have let the demands of motherhood distract my heart from truly engaging with Christ. For this, my heart is heavy and sorrowful.

I am feeling unrest. I know the Spirit is moving and working on my life in unseen ways. I feel like I'm nearing the point of understanding what is going on within me, but God has not opened my eyes just yet.

I have gone through a vast range of emotions including consuming sadness, to fear, to abundant joy. I am delighted to learn from, and see the result of this spiritual work, yet so frustrated that I can't grasp it.

I have a deep longing to know and be intimately close to God. There are times when I feel in communion with God, and times when I feel completely detached. I am praying daily that these walls of stubborn resistance will crumble and allow me to run to my Savior wholeheartedly.

I have been soaking up words of wisdom like a sponge. Today, as Pastor Tim spoke in church, my heart was thirsty. I found myself wanting more. I could have sat there all day.

There is so much I don't yet understand. I know my life has a deeper purpose in Christ. Lately I have just been living. I know He will give me courage to fulfill His purpose for me. One of my biggest faults is that I try to do it all on my own. I don't ask for His help, which always leads to failure. Realizing this fault, however, and praying against it, is the first step toward progress. I'm walking forward.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mexico IIII

Last Day
By Thursday, we realized we had not even seen the beach or pools that our resort offered. We hadn't yet laid eyes on the Caribbean! So Thursday was devoted to relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun and splashing in the pool.

Ring around the sun

After breakfast we headed straight for the beach. We found some comfy lounge chairs under a palapa (grass umbrella), right on the beach. It was wonderful to finally dig our toes into the soft, white sand. We laid in the warmth of the sun, while a cool breeze swept over our white bodies. As I lay looking up at the sky, I realized that it was so humid that there was a ring around the sun. It was actually kind of beautiful. We were also visited be an enormous iguana. It was about 2 feet from Jared's head at one point, but I couldn't get my camera out fast enough.

This huge iguana was about 2' from Jared's head
Very large iguana

After two or three hours, we went back to the room for a little break. Both of us still looked at white as the sand we were laying on, until we got into our room. Our skin slowly turned pink before our eyes. We grabbed a quick snack, then headed for the pool. We relished the coolness of the water, then found some lounge chairs and read for another hour or two.

We both felt we had gotten enough sun, and went to do a little last minute shopping. We had rescheduled our dinner reservation for a Mexican restaurant called the Tequila, at 7pm. The food was delicious, and we had a great meal of beef fajitas and marinated pork.

The special virgin cocktail the waiter made just for me.

Our waiter came and put sombreros on our heads for a picture!

Last night in Mexico!When we got back to our room that night, we looked in the mirror and both looked like fried lobsters! We packed up our bags, and eased into bed, moaning in pain. I tossed and turned all night, sore with every movement.

Our room is the lower left door you see under the palm tree. It was beautiful there.

The alarm went off at 5:30am to began our journey home, and back into Sophia's arms. Our flights went fabulously, and we even got upgraded to First Class again for one of them! When we arrived at the MSP airport, I had never been so eager to get to baggage claim. My eyes scanned the crowd, and finally rested on the most beautiful sight I'd ever little Sophia. I ran to her, and as I approached, she looked at me with curiosity. I could tell she recognized me, but that my face was unfamiliar. She couldn't stop staring at her daddy and me as we showered her with kisses and hugs. We were so happy to be home.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mexico III

Day #2
We slept hard Monday night, and awoke refreshed and ready to go. First stop, a morning cocktail. We both got different tropical fruit slushies (non-alcoholic of course) that were delicious but waaaaaay too sweet. Then off to breakfast. We found the buffet and enjoyed a delicious meal of eggs, bacon, hash browns, caramel sweet rolls, and french toast.

After several very frustrating moments using the manual pump, and several tears later, Jared decided he could rig the manual pump to my electric one. We had to run back into Wal-Mart (about a 20 minute drive) to get a few supplies for the project. While we were there, we browsed the store a little longer and found a very interesting take on a bakery. There was a huge area where trays of breads, donuts, cookies, pizza, rolls, and several other food items we could not identify were laid out, open to the air. We saw people poking at the food, lifting a piece for inspection then putting it back, etc. Next to the bakery was the deli, where raw pieces of unidentifiable meats hung in the open air as well, dripping blood in pools on the floor. The whole experience looked very unsanitary. I am quite sure there are no FDA-type regulations governing here.

Holding a "Mr. Big" Mexican candy bar by our car. Not so much.

We gathered our necessities, stopped in the candy aisle to grab a sampling of Mexican sweets and were on our way. We got back to our room, and within one minute, Jared had my electric pump up and running. Once again, I burst into tears, then commenced to stare at him starry-eyed for the next ten minutes. He was truly my hero in that moment.

We went to lunch, and grabbed a light snack. We had reservations for dinner at 6, and it was already 2pm.

Squid pizza. Ewww!

Around 5pm, we got dressed and headed for the Gourmet French restaurant. We arrived very early, and had time to relax in hammocks for awhile and enjoy the breeze. At quarter to six, we went to the restaurant and browsed the menu. There was a large selection of fancy seafood dishes, but that was it. No good red meat for this meat-and-potatoes couple. We decided that nothing looked very appetizing and cancelled our reservation.

We found a beautiful hibiscus bush on the way to dinner.

Relaxing in the hammocks

The rest of the night was spent talking to Sophia, eating a late dinner at the buffet, discovering that the waiters knew how to make cappuccinos, and escaping the heat in our air-conditioned room.

Enjoying my cappuccino. Pretty much my favorite discovery of the trip!


More beautiful flowers before heading out to shop.

Shopping day! We got up early, ate breakfast and grabbed a cappuccino, and headed for Playa Del Carmen. There is a huge shopping area where vendors line one long street called 5th Ave. (probably 12+ blocks long). We spent nearly 5 hours walking and inspecting all the local goods. We found several treasures to bring home with us. We also tried our first taste of gelato-- it was delicious and refreshing!

Shopping on 5th Ave.

Our lil Atos next to a Chrysler

We really couldn't get over how small it was!

That night after dinner, we went to one of the nightly shows. It was a Latin show, where colorful dancers paraded to loud, festive music.

Mexico II

Upon arrival in Cancun, our first order of business was to get our rental car (which we rented for $9/day! Awesome!). We found it quickly and I was thrilled to see the smallest car I've ever laid eyes on. It was totally hilarious.

We jumped in our zippy little Hyundai, and were on our way. We had an hour-long drive to get to Akumal where we were staying. Since my boobs were literally about to explode I hand expressed as best I could in the car.(Anyone ever tried this? Oh my gosh.)

We heard rumor of a Wal-Mart in Playa Del Carmen, on the way, and decided we needed to make a stop. We arrived in Playa and drove around for about 30 minutes until we finally found the Wal-Mart. Once inside, I could not believe the prices! They were outrageously expensive for some things, and pretty normal for others! Example: A sundress was $35.00, and a can of soda was 55 cents. Anyways, we headed for the baby section and bought a manual breast pump for $20. After hand-expressing, a manual pump was sheer heaven.

By 5:30pm, made it to the Gran Bahia Principe, and checked-in. The resort was HUGE, but luckily our room was close to the center of the resort, which contained the buffet, pools, beaches, and bars.

After settling into our room, I couldn't fight the tears any longer and burst into tears. I was exhausted from the long day of travel, exhausted from the heat (92 degrees, 100% humidity!), starving, frustrated beyond belief about the breast pump, and most of all, missed my little girl.

Jared held me until the tears subsided, then he surprised me by grabbing the laptop and bringing me to an area of the resort that had free wireless! (He had talked to customer service during check-in without my knowledge. I didn't think we could get internet access at the resort!!!) Internet access meant we could talk to Sophia! Using Yahoo messenger, we could call my parents using free PC-to-PC calling. Hearing Sophia squealing in the background made me tear up again, but I felt much better hearing what a little angel she had been all day.

(Having a much needed drink before dinner. Orange Fanta. Mmm.)

That night we went to a Japanese restaurant (one of the 9 restaurants at the resort) for dinner at 10pm. We got to sit at the table where the chef cooks our meal right in front of us. It was a great end to our first day.

Waiting for dinner at the Mikado

At the chef's table

The HILARIOUS shuttle buses that took us around the huge resort

Relaxing on the shuttle

Our first night in Mexico

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mexico I

Jared and I returned yesterday from an amazing vacation to Mexico. I will post several times about the trip to cover all the highlights. Let's start at the beginning...

Jared and I left Monday, June 30th, at 5am. I made a huge mistake before we even got to the airport that changed our trip slightly. I did not even realize my mistake until we were in Memphis, TN headed for the bathroom during our layover. On my shoulder was my electric breast pump. On my chest were my engorged boobs. I got all set to start pumping and realized I did not have the bottles that attach to the breast pump. I used them that morning, washed them out and set them on the counter to dry. They were still on the counter 4 states away. Tears have never sprung to my eyes so quickly. What would I do for the next 5 days? What would I do now to relief the pressure? How could I make such a stupid mistake? I ran to Jared and bawled in his comforting arms as he whispered assurances into my ear. Everything will work out. Don't even think about it right now.

(Entertaining ourselves during our layover)

After the initial devastation and conclusion that I had ruined our trip, God helped me calm down and had a very nice surprise in store. When our plane started boarding for Cancun, we had seats in an exit row, and went up to board early. The gate agent glanced at me briefly and announced for everyone to hear that I could not sit in the exit row because I'm pregnant and I might hurt the baby should anything happen to the plane. (My thought: If anything should happen to the plane, who cares where I'm sitting? Lifting a 33lb door isn't going to hurt the baby more than a PLANE CRASH!) I admit that I got a little grumpy at this point. Another young couple heard the loud gate agent and offered to switch with us. Of course their seats were about 5 rows from the back of the plane. After we were wedged into our new seats for about 10 minutes, the same gate agent came and found us. She looked at us and asked "Are you Jared and Naomi?" We nodded. With a very monotone, she said "You are supposed to be up here. You're in the wrong seats." I huffily told her that she moved us back here because I am pregnant, making sure she knew by my tone that my current level of discomfort was entirely her fault. She replied, "Yes, I'm moving you again." Then she led us to FIRST CLASS! She was very sweet and said she just found out on her computer that Jared was an NWA employee. With her kindness, came a wave of guilt for my bad attitude.

(Meal in first class!)

We had an amazing ride in First Class, and shared our wealth of space with only one other couple that made the ride even better. They were from Arkansas, in their early 50's and as wild and fun as any newlywed couple. The man turned and asked us if we liked his hair. He was wearing a red visor and his hair was dark brown with bleach tips, all spiked up and crazy. We told him it was wild. Then he took off his visor as he said "Well, thank you!" The hair came with it. He was as bald as Sophia's bottom! The hair was sewn into the visor. The wife giggled and laughed, thinking he was so funny, but so cheesy. THAT is the kind of couple they were. We were entertained the whole 2 hours.

(Click on the picture to enlarge and see the funny guy's hair visor!)