Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Burke

Since school has started, the blog gets moved to the bottom of the totem pole of priorities. My days once again are consumed by grading, uploading assignments, scheduling makeup work, and trying to manage a room full of 15 year olds.

But one thing is different this year.

I'm not doing it alone.

Evan is with me.

My talented husband became a full time teacher about 3 days before school started. Yep, talk about adding some crazy to our lives. I remember how big of a stress ball I was that first year, so I've been even more amazed at how Evan has handled the work load, the stress, the hectic-ever-changing schedules, and the kids.

He's done fantastic. Somehow this job combines everything he's good at in one. He honestly might be better than me at classroom management. After two weeks of school, kids were coming to my room telling me they "loooooved" my husband. "He's so funny, Mrs. Burke!" "He's my favorite!" I know in the back of their little heads they're thinking, "why weren't you fun like him?!"

I love working with Evan. We get to drive to work together. He now understands all the situations I talk about, my frustrations, funny moments, etc. I love walking into his room during snack (between 2nd and 3rd period) and just talking about our mornings. I love having him come to my room and pray for me before a parent conference. I love that he comes in to say hi to me during lunch since I eat with the ladies in the work room.

And the best part?! We haven't gotten tired of each other! While I knew we loved each other and that we were best friends, I had a tiny fear that we wouldn't love each other so much if we were together all the time.

Having Evan at Liberty has actually made me like the job more. For the past two years, I'd been frustrated that school took up so much time... that it took me away from my family. Now, even though we're there so much, we're doing it together. It's not frustrating anymore. I get more time with my husband than ever before. Plus, we get the same breaks! Hello, summer!!

What is crazy, is that this was NOT our plan. We had moved to Keller, fully intending on spending a significant amount of time with Evan in the youth pastor role at a church. God surprised us big time. As insane as that last week of August was with the full time job offer, talking with the church about the change in plans, and then focusing all our energy on Liberty-- it all felt right. We weren't panicked. We prayed and discussed the pros and cons, but I think we both knew right away that God's hand was all over this.

 As I look at the boxes that fill my apartment again after only 5 months, I have my theories about why God took us on this seeming circuitous path. We needed to try something new. We needed to move away. We needed time to asses our passions, our priorities, and think about the future. I needed to learn to let go of control and trust God's plan.

And now we're ready to be back in Denton. Working together. At Liberty. As teachers. Married to each other.

I so wish God would give you previews of your life sometimes. I think Evan and I would have bust out laughing if we had known this was the plan. That's why God is so, so good. He knows better than us.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Princess and the Pea

Last weekend our little diva forced me to get creative.

After sewing her a dog bed cover several months ago (which proved how lacking my sewing skills really are in comparison to Evan's), Marin decided she didn't like that bed anymore and had taken to sleeping in our basket of blankets when we weren't looking.

This was problematic for a few reasons. As much as we love Marinara, we do not want her little black fur all over our comfy blankets. Sweet MD also has a slight "leaking" problem. It only happens when she is napping. Who wants a basket with "leak" covered blankets?! Not me.

So, after trying to take cues from our little diva dog on what she likes about the basket, I decided to try to please her and save our blankets.

I needed a space that felt enclosed and was really plush... these were her demands. I wanted something cheap and easy to wash.

Enter the suitcase.

I got this suitcase from my grandma. It has her initials from before she was married. R.C. = Ruth Campbell. I love that detail. But, as sweet and sentimental as this suitcase was to me, it is not in good shape. The back panel is peeling off and all the lining (green silk) had started to fade to an odd rust color. It had just served as a storage place.... until now.

I ripped out some odd metal pieces that I could never figure out the purpose for and covered the rusty silk with material from an old skirt. I have long loved the pattern on the skirt which I bought in a flea market in Italy. You may be thinking, "Wow, how cool. Vintage Italian fabric." Not quite. I found the H&M tag after I purchased it. Nevertheless, good memories.

Had to make sure she fit!

Enclosed space = check.

For the plush part, I took Evan's old comforter and shoved it inside a random silky pillowcase I've had for years.

Voila! Bed is complete! Totally free! My fabric hoarding came in handy.

Ms. Marin loved the suitcase. She has slept in it and napped in it for the past week.

She loved it so much.... she ate it.
Comfy AND tastes good. Who knew?!

Now we have little clumps of old green leather on the floor.  Ah, well. It was a cute while it lasted. 

Her next bed will just come from Walmart.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The First of Many

For the past 20 years or so Estes Park, Colorado has been a part of my life. A big part, actually.

We started taking our annual family vacation there when I was in elementary school, we quickly fell in love with the YMCA of the Rockies and just kept going.

Those trips form some of my fondest memories from my childhood.
Horse back riding.
Putt putt.
Wildlife sighting.

I am so thankful my parents exposed Laura and I to those essential elements in life: rest, simplicity, quiet.

Through the years, our activities have changed a bit. We're no longer spending a week at day camp singing songs about bumblebees and Pizza Hut. We don't spend as much time with the park rangers... because we already got our Junior Ranger badges. Oh yes....I have proof.

We've grown up. We have new interests. (See all these amazing photos as evidence of my dad's new found photography talent.) We bring spouses and dogs now!

But some things will always stay the same: Quality family time... Reflecting on God's truly amazing creation... LOVING cool weather in July... Realizing that life is pretty great without TV... My obsession with the Arts and Crafts Building...

Here's to dreaming about next summer... and the chocolate pie at the Baldpate.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mondays with Marin...the Graduate

After two months of practicing, clicking, treat bags, a barking fiasco and lots of hard work.... Marin graduated!!

She passed her intermediate class with flying colors. She is an excellent student, I must say. So without further ado, here are the ridiculously cute and "only for the humans" pictures from graduation day.

We probably should have had a practice day with the hats....she's not used to accessories.  
The graduate! 

Marin with her diploma.

I'm such a proud mom! 
We had to go through stations that asked for different commands to get MD's diploma.
We "waited" at the door with no problem.
She "heeled" without blinking.
The "come" from 20 feet and "stay" from 20 feet were both equally easy.
Marin loves "going to bed" on her blanket.
The only one we had to repeat was the "sit" for one minute. Sixty seconds is a really long time if you're a dog... on the cat food aisle... with other dogs barking at you... and people walking by. Who could blame her for needing a second attempt?!

Ah, the blooper reel. Her face cracks me up! 

Overall, I am very proud of MD and very proud of us for sticking it out and raising/training a loving little terrier mix. We are well on our way to the Canine Good Citizen certificate. Onto the advanced lessons!

But first, our little meatball will enjoy a much deserved peanut butter-filled Kong. You go girl.

Doesn't she just look smarter already?!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mondays with Marin- Vacation Dog

We just got back from a week long trip to Estes Park, Colorado. I grew up going to the YMCA of the Rockies each summer with my family and this year I got to bring along both a husband and a dog!

Marin did great in the car for 15 hours and was a wonderful source of entertainment since the cabins have no TVs. I'll write more later about our trip, but since its Monday, I'm focusing on the four-legged member of the family.

Road trip dog. She had more room than anyone else!

I am convinced that Marin was born to be a cool-weather, outdoor dog. I have no idea why she was picked up as a stray in Texas. Her fur is black. She hates the heat. She whimpers when she's away from the AC. She refuses to get in a hot car.

Now, Colorado is in her blood.

She got to hike, chase ground squirrels, watch hummingbirds and deer, attend her first parade, and jump up on all the couches and beds. It was vacation, after all. And the bonus: all activities were done in about 70 degree weather. Perfection.

First hike. At the summit of Bible Point.

On the way to Homestead Meadows, a dog friendly hike in the National Forest.

At one of the old homesteads. 3 miles in.

On our daily walks in Texas, Marin Dog usually lasts for about 45 minutes on a good day and then lays down in whatever shade she can find and does not move. In Colorado, my girl hiked for 6 miles and had energy to burn. It was great to see her truly enjoy herself.

Crashed out after a long day with the backpacks.

Finding a comfy spot on my parents' bed.

Most of all, I was really proud that all our hard work in obedience class and the training Evan and I have done paid off. She was the perfect guest. Friendly, calm and well behaved. I was a very proud mom.

Now if we could just find a way to move to Colorado....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mondays with Marin- The School Edition

For three weeks now, Miss Marin has been attending classes. Her new Sunday activity is obedience classes at Petsmart.

We talked with the trainers about a month ago, brought Marin in for a little parent/teacher conference, and all agreed our girl was eligilbe for the intermediate class! What a genius! We couldn't have been more proud. Evan and I were fairly smug that whole week leading up to the first class. We had been such awesome dog parents that we skipped the beginner class entirely. Marin is a champ at sitting, laying down, staying and she can even charm a stranger with her shake.

MD on her way to class.

At the first class, we shared how we wanted Marin to become a Canine Good Citizen at the end of her training. In our minds, we were winning Dog Owners of the Year.

And then it happened...

Marin lost her mind, forgot all her "rules, boundaries and limitations," and went barking bonkers.

Jesse the Weimaraner, Bentley the Llahso Apso, and Chloe the mutt were peacefully laying down as the trainer explained our first lesson,  but Marin was barking, no- howling. At everything.

Imagine Petsmart on a Sunday. Weekend errand runners. Dogs everywhere.

Marin's uncontrollable urge to "speak" set off an explosion of yapping, barking, meowing.... utter chaos.

I was beside myself with embarrassment. Evan was sweating profusely. We were both staring holes into the floor. We kept trying to get Marin to stop.... lost cause. The trainer finally ended our misery and called break time.

We slunk into one of the cat product aisles (aisle of shame) and debriefed. "What happened to our perfect little angel?" "Are we gonna get kicked out of class?" "Why is it so unbearably hot in here?!"

The patient tranier came over and comforted us. She assured us it was normal, the barking didn't bother her and that we needed to calm down. Marin was just overstimulated. Reward good, calm behavior and wait until the loud, bad behavior stopped.

Easy for her to say. She wasn't the owner of the barking pariah.

I'm not sure how that first class ended. And we definitely didn't learn anything. I was too busy thinking of ways to escape than to pay attention to how to "sit with distractions."

We came home totally defeated. I think we both lost sleep wondering if our perfect dog had just morphed into a Dog Whisperer case.

After some practice and lots of prayer, Marin and I braved the next class. I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the chaos and embarrassment solo, since Evan had to work, but I was at least prepared to handle it.

The trainer was prepared too.

She had chew sticks, the dog version of cheese whiz and lots of distractions for Marin. As soon as she started barking at something we just gave her something to eat to change her focus. Worked like a charm.

Now that the barking was under control, I could actually see the smart side of Marin again. She picked up on the skills faster than the other dogs and was very eager to please. She is learning a lot of useful things like going to her bed, leaving treats on the floor until she is allowed to have them, and spinning in a circle.

Evan and I learned our lesson too. Never before has "pride comes before the fall" been more real or more mortifying. We have a good dog. She's not perfect. And that is okay.

Tiring her out before class. One-eared wonder.

Maybe some day she'll be a Canine Good Citizen and show the world how awesome pit bulls can be, or maybe she'll just be our sweet, lovable girl with a penchant for barking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Love in a Jar

My friend Hayley sent me this idea while Evan and I were engaged. If I can find the original blog it came from, I will link it here. The idea is simple, find a jar and throughout your first year of marriage write little notes about why you love your spouse and drop them in the jar. On your anniversary, you get to dump them all out and read them!

Evan and I really enjoyed our love jar. We kept a pen and note pad on our dresser throughout the year and we wrote down funny moments, inside jokes, sweet things the other one had done....things we wanted to remember or tell the other person. Last week we got to laugh a lot and cry a little as we read through our first year together.

I'll share a few...

"We don't get good night's sleep right now. Too much tossing and turning and considering the other. We're two weeks in or so."

"I love you for not staying mad at me when I made you put back the avocados because they were too expensive. $1.79 each."

"I like not having to text you that much. Living with you makes that unnecessary."

"I love when you sweet talk flight attendants on our way to California and manage to get everyone free drinks!"

"I love having real conversations with you about our struggles, what we want to work on as individuals and getting to do it together."

"Remember when I had the hiccups and you scared me so bad I cried?!"

We talk often about living a simple life- one that is focused on the things that really matter and not cluttered with the unnecessary. This little project/game/whatever you want to call it fit in well with our motto. This was just about us, our year, and what the Lord had done, plus this precious, personalized gift was totally free. We even borrowed the jar. (Thanks Phillip.)

I love extravagant things every once in a while... and I'm holding out for a great anniversary getaway one of these years... but this was perfect. Just the two of us, reading our notes, eating year-old cake and laughing.

And just in case you think I'm overly sappy, Evan liked it so much that he suggested we do it every year!

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Year Anniversary

Sunday will mark our one year anniversary.
One year.
Of being married.

Is that possible?

This past year has been wonderful.  I woke up this morning and just laid in bed thinking through all the perfect moments, vulnerable conversations, funny memories, and overall sanctification that Evan and I have shared over the year.

There have been brief, fleeting moments this year when I felt like an awesome wife... I have managed to cook a decent meal, make the bed, "spot clean," throw in a load of laundry, feed the dog, and be a good listener all in one day.

Those are the days that I think, "Yes, of course, he loves me. Who wouldn't? I am amazing."

More often though, I am what I don't prefer anyone to see. Stressed out. Cranky. Emotional (blame the meds). Not a neat freak... not even a clean person really. Forgetful. Lazy. The list goes on, but I think you get the picture. The point is, Evan sees all of this.

These are the days that I think, "Why would he love me? I am a mess...just like our house. I'm not even particularly fond of myself."

It is in those moments that I realize what a treasure I have been given.
I have a man who loves me for me, yes. But it's more than that. He loves me despite me.

He loves me because he's been loved, saved, redeemed and transformed by Christ into a guy who can look beyond the crying, stressed out wife in front of him and see her heart and just hug her. Snot and all.

As I sit here and think about this milestone in our marriage, I am most grateful for a Gospel that affects real life, real people. I'm thankful for a God who loves reconciliation, who saw fit to save us while we were still messy, and longs for a deep, intimate relationship with us. He paved the way for beautiful marriages by showing us how to love. How to sacrifice. How to forgive. I would seriously botch this thing up if it weren't for Him.

And I know I am beyond blessed to have a man who loves the Lord enough to pursue his wife when things are perfect and even more so when things are not perfect.

Evan, I love you with my whole heart. Thank you for marrying me, for loving me and for making me laugh. Thank you for loving the not-so-put-together version of me. You are my best friend and I wouldn't want to eat a year-old cake topper with anyone else!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mondays with Marin 3.0

Well, Marin lives in a new house on this lovely Monday.

She is also a new breed of dog.

Meet the Terrier Mix.

She got in on the moving action... literally.
Our sweet girl needed a new identification on her paperwork to be able to live in the apartment complex. Praise the Lord all the details worked out.

This first week in our house, Marin and I got to bond all over again since Evan was at work and I'm on summer break! We ran errands together, ran around the new neighborhood, and even made curtains for Evan's new office.

How am I supposed to work with this cutie in the way all the time?
Marin is adjusting well to her new place and "broke in" our new rug right away. Good thing we love our Terrier Mix!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Daylor" Wedding

Our good friends Darrell and Taylor were married last week. I often have issues speaking and for some reason couples names run together in my head...therefore they are lovingly known as Daylor. My sweet friends Gabe and Megan are Gaben.... you get the picture.

They're married now, so its okay to combine their names. They are one.

Way back when, Taylor had asked me to help with the flowers at the happy event. I eagerly said yes, because I love any excuse to decorate, arrange and have fun with flowers. Plus I knew Taylor would be a great bride to work with. The first project was her bridal bouquet for pictures. This was the test run. I think it turned out gorgeous. So did her pics by Matt McElligott.

For the wedding, she decided on a very eclectic, laid back look. I loved her take on "colors." She chose a palette of colors and just let everything fall into place. For the table decor nothing really matched per se, but we had a general theme. Glass bottles and burlap. Twine and baby's breath. Herbs and rustic colors.
The baby's breath hanging out in the fridge. 
We started by collecting tons of glass bottles. Beer bottles, wine bottles, mason jars, anything really. This meant the boys got to play a part in emptying the bottles, so they were on board instantly. I soaked so many labels off of bottles my hands were pruny and I know Taylor did even more. But it was worth it.

Lots of bottles all over our porch. One man's junk....

Can be used beautifully! 

This was the lay out for the tables... just to make sure I had enough to go around.
I really enjoyed the whole process of planning, set up, arranging and being involved behind the scene. Evan was a huge help and our home group really came together to throw a great party. It was a super fun weekend!

My sink full of FLOWERS. Best its ever looked. 

Bridesmaids putting together their bouquets. 

The finished bouquets... so much happiness! 
The next day, Evan and I packed up to get to the venue bright and early.

This is where the husband and the truck came in handy. 
The work station. I took this kitchen over! 
This was a true family and friends affair. As soon as I had a few table setting arranged in kitchen, there were about five girls ready to run them out to the tables. So fun to work with all those friends.
A few pics of how it looked: The cake and desert table. 

A few weeks before we made the moss balls. The hard work paid off, they add a fun touch. To make: get styrofoam balls, moss and lots of hot glue. Make huge mess. Done. 
Very laid back and natural... like Taylor!

Bride and her maids with their personalized bouquets. 
Luis and Anna (our good friends) and my wonderfully helpful husband. 
Happy wedding and marriage to Darrell and Taylor! Thanks for letting us be a part of your big day! I think the best part of the wedding may be their video by CandleLight Films. Here's a sneak peak of all the action. Watching this makes me wish I had one of these!