I know it's been weeks since my last post, but I haven't been in a blogging mood. As per my last post, my youngest brother was shipped to Afghanistan. That kinda took a little bit outta me emotionally. BUT, I'm happy to report that I received a phone call from him while he was laying over in Turkey. He's tired of traveling, but doing well. I'm excited to put together his first care package! If you want to write letters to a soldier, he's a great one to write to! Let me know if you want to donate something to the care package.

My birthday party was SUCH a success! Thanks to all who came out, I had a fantastic time! We played volleyball, night disc, buried people in the sand like five year olds, braved the icy waters, strolled along the boardwalk, and last but not least, had a wonderful bonfire.

Later in the week my sweet baby sister came to visit me, and I was SO excited! We had a PACKED weekend ahead of us, but after a million delays, she was finally in California! I quickly rushed her to the nearest In N Out and she fell in love and had her way with the classic Double-double. Friday we were up and at 'em for a quick morning run down to the local coffee and bagel shop. We were both scheduled to race on Saturday morning, and I didn't want to run a full run the day before. After bageling and coffee'ing up, we made our way down to Newport Beach for some sightseeing and lunch. My friend Matt met up with us and took us to a fabulous place called the Bluewater Grill. Nestled back in the cove of Newport Beach, we sat on the terrace and had quite the fanciful lunch. I can't wait to go back!

Friday afternoon we headed out to Disneyland, and promptly picked up Steph's "1st Time Visitor" pin and set out to conquer the park. Sadly, the conquering didn't take long. After our morning jaunt, early afternoon lunch, Disneyland was whooping our butts left and right! We were trying to conquer both Disneyland and California Adventure, but I think every other person in California had the same idea. We had a great time, even if it wasn't as long as we would have liked.

Saturday was the Great OC Eco Mud Run. I've been training for the past three months for my very first race, and the day dawned bright and early. I thought that I would be nervous, but surprisingly, I wasn't. I think all the pain-filled days of running had finally prepared me. We met up with other runners we knew, and filed in to the starting area. THAT'S when the nerves hit. We moseyed our way to the front, not where I wanted to be! The race officials encouraged us to dress up, and Steph decided it would be hilarious to dress as a cop and escape convict. So, there we were, duct taping white stripes to my running outfit. I even bought handcuffs to wear! As we started running, my nerves went away, and were replaced by concentrating on not falling on my face. Slowly, we got a pace, set it, and ran our little hearts out.

I can't wait for the next mud run! Wanna get muddy with me?

My younger brother Sam deploys to Afghanistan on Monday, April 26th. I've never been a delayed reaction person, but I have totally delayed my reacting to his deployment. When I think about it my heart beats a littler faster, the tears come a little easier, and my brain moves a little quicker. I've even kept quiet on the deployment date (even though I've known for a while), just to avoid talking about it. Even now, as I type, I'm blinking through the tears falling down my face. I'm still torn with the feeling of being so incredibly proud of him for serving our country, for protecting us, for keeping us free; and by the other part that so selfishly wants him to stay home. Behind the border, away from war, terrorism, violence, and the reality of the harshness of this world.

Christmas 2009

I know that God is bigger than this. He is bigger than the war, bigger than any person wishing harm upon the United States. He's seen Sam going into that country, and He knows the outcome. I won't lie and say that I haven't thought of all the what-if's. I can't even type them out, but I'm sure you know what I'm speaking of. But God is bigger than that. This is where faith comes in. Because I know what I believe, I know what's true. It's when the time comes to TRULY believe it is the strength of your faith. And I'll be honest, I'm a little weak today.

Sam's Basic Training Graduation

I just wish I could hug him one more time. I wish I could tell him it's going to be ok. I wish I could wipe the fear from my heart. I wish I could stand at the airport and wave goodbye. I wish my brother Scott could see him one more time. I wish he wasn't 19. I wish he didn't have to leave his new wife alone.

I wish he wasn't going.

Sam's first meal out of Basic Training-HAHA!

So, if you will, say a prayer for him. Fly a flag today. Thank a veteran. Stand a little taller knowing you are protected by our amazing Armed Forces. Never take for granted what we have in America. There are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have sisters whose hearts are breaking, just like mine.

I love you Bubs. Be careful, see you soon.

Ok, I'll admit. This birthday, this YEAR, this number, kept haunting me. Now, I'm a lover of birthdays. It's that one day a year that everything is all about YOU! I love to celebrate others and make them feel like a king or queen for a day. And, you know, it's nice to feel pampered on my birthday too. However, this year I wasn't looking forward to turning another year older. I know I'm only 26, but for some reason I had some serious struggles. Serious as in, while walking down the street I pause, consider, cringe, and keep walking. THOSE kind of serious issues. :) But, as I suspected, my fears were eased as the week went on.

It all started on Monday evening, when my dear precious life group friends surprised me with not one but TWO cakes! They were delicious and I felt so loved and honored. Tuesday morning (my actual birthday) I woke up to James singing 'Happy Birfday' at the top of his lungs while dragging my gift bag behind him. Danielle had made a Happy Birthday banner for the kitchen; and I don't know who was more excited about that, James or me!

I was so incredibly shocked by their gift...I'll let the picture do the talking.

Yeah. Not gonna lie, I cried!! I am so excited! I can't wait to go!!

My mom sent me an AWESOME gift this year too. As I've posted before, I'm really getting into cake decorating. She sent me a clear tub with all kinds of little tubs to keep my tools organized. Being a neat freak, I absolutely loved getting everything organized and put together.

Tuesday evening a small group of friends went with me to my first ever swing dancing lesson! It was an absolute blast, and I went from nervously wringing my hands to being twirled around in circles by the end. We capped off the night with yummy tacos from Fresca's, and yogurt from Golden Spoon. I had a fantastic night! All throughout the week I was overwhelmed by the sweetness of my family and friends. I recieved so many heartwarming cards and gifts; I am truly touched.

I've mentioned her before, but my closest friend Katie also shares the same birthday. While it was the first year we didn't celebrate together, it was so fun to swap gifts through the mail. I sent her a hilarious box of random goodies, filled with an entire bag of confetti. She sent me (along with our dear friend Jenni) a wonderful bouquet of fruit from Edible Arrangements and an awesome thing called the FitDeck. I'm so excited to try out the FitDeck for my workouts at the park! What a great way to shake up your workout routine!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! I had a fun-filled day of church, lunch with friends, a mean game of softball, and ending the night with game night at the Runyan's. I usually don't stay up very late on "school nights", but since I didn't have to work on Monday, I decided to be rebel and hang out late. I didn't go to sleep until almost 2:30am!! EEEEEK! That just doesn't happen to me, ever. I woke up day feeling like I was hit by a truck, and remembered why I don't do this! It's just too painful. BUT-great fun, great conversations and great friends were totally worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The family I work for surprised me yesterday with an Easter basket, and I was so thrilled! I received a fantastically awesome gift of how-to's and tools for learning to create gum paste flowers. For those who do not know, I've become a bit of a cake freak. I love to create and decorate cakes. I'm a little intimidated about gum paste flowers, but now that I have to tools to try, I think I can do it.

My favorite part of the basket was this adorable apron. I've been thinking about just making one for myself over the past few weeks, but now I don't have to!! It's too adorable! Check out the stripes, polka dots and flowers! I love it!

I hope you had a wonderful time with family and friends, ate boatloads of chocolate (I actually did not!), and watched the Yankee Opening Day Game. I won't say the score. It's a shame in our household.

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