Saturday, June 26, 2010

I go to the mountains...

I saw these 2 quotes today on one of my favorite blogs...
{Climb the mountains & get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. -John Muir}
 {God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars. -Martin Luther}
This was extremely timely, given that I had a minor freak out about our trip to Alaska this summer. I'm usually on the ball with planning, etc, but I booked our flight 6 months ago and I'd forgotten about the other details until, um, yesterday. We'll be camping, which usually means minimal planning & a lot of flying by the seat of our pants, but Alaska poses some planning difficulties:
  • my fear of losing our luggage/gear on our flight (flights rather - we have 3 legs to make it to Anchorage & one of our layovers is only 30 minutes, gulp)...*
  • packing for an airplane ride instead of just throwing everything in our trunk (condense! condense! condense!)...
  • coordinating getting our 'stuff' to Wonder Lake in Denali (5 hour trip accessible only by National Park bus - strategically difficult for us b/c we have a teeny weeny tent that we usually only sleep in & keep all of our stuff in our car)...
  • worrying about reservations at popular campsites...
  • trying to figure out how to pack & plan for Alaska's unpredictable weather...
  • the list goes on...
  • *Sidenote: has anyone ever shipped their luggage ahead of time? pros/cons? recommendations? Share your experience in the comments!
When I read those 2 quotes above I was reminded why we love camping so much:
  • to be in the midst of the beauty of creation, without distractions of email, blackberries, television, traffic, bills, dental school applications, etc....
  • to stretch our legs & seek out adventure not because we're worried about an exercise regimen, but because the mountains are there, begging to be explored & experienced...
  • to reconnect with one another (it's hard to avoid each other in teeny tent!)...
  • to go to sleep with the sunset & wake up with the sunrise (we may have to modify our sleeping regimen in Alaska given that it's light during most of the sleeping hours!)...
  • for the quiet & stillness that can only be experienced away from our everday life...
Although the logistics are difficult, I know they will be entirely worth it when we wake up to Mt. McKinley next month (that is, if the weather cooperates - and none of my planning is going to change our chances of seeing the mountain!). Even if it rains the entire time we're in Alaska, we will still be experiencing an entirely new part of our beautiful country & taking time to step away from the things that complicate our lives.
...Now... back to planning! & praying for good weather!
{Chorus of The Woods - Patchouli}
a.k.a. our roadrip/camping theme song
I go to the woods to feel good
I go to the river to let my mind run
I go to the mountain to gain perspective
I go to the fields to open up
I look to the lake to reflect
I look to the sky to imagine
I travel highways to go somewhere new 
I go to the woods...
{The earth & its fullness are the Lord's. - 1 Corinthians 10:26}
{You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. - Isaiah 55:12}
{The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. - Psalm 19:1}

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

3 Years {June 23, 2010}

Three years ago, I married this handsome fella....
 I must say, I am one lucky lady. I love you, Matt! 
 Happy 3rd Anniversary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Psst... if you want to see a glimpse of our wedding festivities, click here for a slide show (my favorite) & here for a blog post about our big day. Not tired of photos yet? Our engagement photos can be found here. Impressed with our fabulous photographer's work? Check out Scarlett's (new&improved) website.
(I would have posted some fun wedding photos on this blog, but we are housesitting and they're all sitting on an external harddrive at home....thankfully, Scarlett has us covered!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

{The righteous man leads a blameless life; blessed are his children after him. Proverbs 20:7}

Happy Father's Day, Dad Lo, Dad Mac, Gramps, Grandpa Bud, Matt & Carson!!! We are so thankful that the Lord put such men of integrity, leadership, and faith in our lives. We celebrate you today and hope you know how much you are loved!!!

Grandpa Lohuis, you are missed & I think of you often, especially today.

From the top: Suz & Dad Lo on Wedding Day, Matt & Dad Mac at Pebble Beach, Grandpa Lo w/ Katie & Suz, Gramps Kron with Hannah, Golfing buddies Grandpa Bud & Tommy, Matt & Hannah on Hannah's first swim, Carson & Liam hiking, Dad Mac & Matt at Stanford-Wake game, Dad Lo with Suz & Matt at UNC, Grandpa Neal playing with Hannah, Matt & Hannah, Dad Mac & Matt at Illinois game, Dad, Katie & Hannah at Strang Wedding.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life for Less: Where's your treasure?

{Where your treasure is...there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21}  

I read a lot personal finance press: one, because it's a job requirement & two, because I'm actually kind of into it. I found two articles this week that really resonated with our personal finance philosophy & got me thinking about how & if our values are reflected in our finances.

Does your checkbook reflect what is most important to you?
The inflation threat is real (this article is about lifestyle inflation)

I think it's a noble challenge to consider what your values are and then assess whether your personal financial situation reflects those values. What we say we value is validated by our actions. Here's some food for thought...

What is most important to you? 
It's not my job to pass judgment on your values or your spending (that's your business), but you need to be honest with yourself. Where do your dollars flow? Are you foregoing retirement savings so that you can have the latest & greatest iWhatever? Are you living off of credit cards, but spending like you have a load of cash in the bank? Do I think you're morally depraved just because you have cable or like to eat out? Not at all!! Nor am I suggesting that it's selfish to enjoy the fruits of your labor... I'm just challenging you to think about where there may be excesses, what you truly 'need,' & if you really spend according to your values.
Do you value truthfulness? 
I think we would all say "of course!" Really? Here's an example -- do you report & pay taxes on all of your income? Just because your employer doesn't withhold, doesn't mean you don't have a tax obligation (that means the cash from your nannying, yard work and tutoring jobs is taxable & you should be reporting it). If we're honest with ourselves, we may find that we are quick to excuse or ignore our own personal un-truths.
Do you value generosity?
This is an interesting question especially in the context of a Christian community, where we are called to give and care for the oppressed. Even if you don't make your personal finance decisions based on your faith, you may say you're charitable or philanthropic, but do you actually live like that? Do you cry out about the injustices of the world, but then fail to step up to the plate in order to do something about them? I've heard folks say, "we'll give when we start making more money." Really? If you aren't faithful when you have a little...will you be faithful when you have a lot?

Bringing it home...
Matt & I made the decision to live simply in order that we might live out our values financially. That means over the course of our marriage we've foregone frivolous spending and redefined 'necessities' so that we can meet our financial goals. Do we always do a perfect job? No. Do we expect everyone else to share our financial values? Certainly not. Is our life less fulfilling even though we rarely go shopping or eat out, line dry our clothes, have hand-me-down furniture & a TV that's not high-def, only pay for basic cable, drive used cars, read library books, eat leftovers, rent a modest (but cute) apartment, pack our lunches, don't belong to an expensive gym and have cell phone plans that don't include texting? Not at all! If anything, these 'sacrifices' have allowed us to do amazing things like pay for all of Matt's schooling over the past 2 years without dipping into our savings once, continue to give, save for retirement, travel to some beautiful places (often in our tent!), and splurge every once in awhile for something that's important to us (like our new camera). I know there will be a day when we buy ourselves a new couch, upgrade our  TV, and move into a home of our own, but until then, we are content living simply....

How about you? Are you satisfied that your finances align with your values? Or is it time for some self reflection?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Exclusive Interview (Part 2)

So after a few days break from baby & blog-land....I'm back with the little lady! (Here's part one if you missed it). I just can't get enough of these photos & I had to share them! It's a riot imagining what in the world is going through her little head, what she'd say to us if she could. So, here's my continuation of Hannah's commentary on life:

Do you have any hidden talents?
As a matter of fact, I do! I'm only eight & a half months old & I can drink out of a straw! That's right, give some h2o in a big girl cup & I'm a happy baby! I don't do sippy cups or bottles. I can also drink like an adult out of a cup, but sometimes I get too distracted with splashing around that the straw is the best way to go.  Here I am before I learned to suck through the straw all by myself:
Here I am in action:

I also can smile on command... Just give me a "one, two, three!"

See, I'm flashing smiles all over the place!
Lastly, I know how to brush my teeth! I know I only have 2 teefers, but Uncle Matt reminds me that dental hygiene is so important, even at my young age!
What is your biggest pet peeve?
This one's easy... when strangers stick their fingers in my mouth! Seriously, who goes around putting their grimy, germy fingers in other people's mouths?! No, thank you. I know I have cute teeth, but keep your hands to yourself. People assume I like to put my fingers in my mouth for comfort. No siree, it's a protection thing.
What's your favorite time of the day?
Naptime! I'm a growing girl & I require lots of sleep!  For all of the excitement & entertainment I provide during my waking hours, I'm pretty peaceful when I'm sleeping...
Describe your perfect date.
My daddy says I'm too young to date. He thinks I should be at least 30 until I even talk to boys, but if you want to get my attention, I'd recommend bringing me some beautiful flowers.
Then, take me for a nice, relaxing stroll.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
My mom thinks I should be a model. I have pretty sweet fashion sense, plus the camera loves me.
I can do cheerful... or stoic.
I think a modeling career looks optimistic. Don't you?
Of course, if modeling doesn't work out, my dad thinks I should be a musician. He's a violinst, but I think I might enjoy playing the drums. Uncle Matt tried to teach me guitar, but I couldn't get the hang of strumming, I preferred to bang on it instead.
Plus, I have the rockstar look.
Maybe I should follow in Aunt Suz & Grandpa Neal's footsteps & be an accountant. I think I got a hang of how business goes down while visiting Aunt Suz. Here I am, just checking my email.
If you work with Aunt Suz, I assure you, my brief stint on her laptop was not the reason for all of the recent web site issues. Promise!
I do have some killer athletic genes, so maybe I should play basketball. Check out my mad ball skills:
Secretly, I think I'd be pretty happy as a plumber.
Hannah, thanks for your time. You're the cutest little girl I've ever met & I love you & miss you to pieces!
Aww, shucks, Aunt Suz. You're embarrassing me. (Love you, too!)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Another Brother...Another Graduate! Congrats, Tommy!

It's been a summer of weddings & graduations, & we have one more special person to celebrate today.... our brother (well, Matt's, technically, but I like to claim him as flesh & blood), Tommy, who graduated from Stanford today! He managed to get two Stanford degrees under his belt  (bachelor's & master's), while also playing football for the Cardinal. He's a talented and special guy and we are so impressed by all he's accomplished.
Congratulations, Tommy! We are so proud of you & excited to see what's in store for you next! All our love, Matt & Suz
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