Five Things Friday

Ahhhh, another week is behind us and this is already the last weekend of September. This month has felt really full, and here are a few things that have been going on this week:

Free The Girls
Ever since I had Jonathan, I have had a bunch of old bras that no longer fit sitting around. They’re in great condition and really pretty, but unfortunately I can’t wear them. I had held on to them for way longer than necessary and finally decided it was time to do something with them. I wasn’t sure if it was considered kosher to donate bras, so I googled it. And this led me to a really cool organization called Free The Girls. “Free The Girls is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to provide jobs to survivors of sex trafficking in developing countries by helping them set up micro enterprises selling bras.  And, through the collection of bras in Western countries, we strive to educate people and organizations about the scourge of human trafficking worldwide.”
img_1504I looked up my closest drop-off location, which happened to be the Runners Roost in Lone Tree, and dropped them off today. I don’t know what rock I’ve been under that I haven’t heard of them, but I’m so happy to have been able to help an organization that is doing such good work!

 

Fall
Can we talk about Fall for a second? Cause the leaves they are a-changin’ and the weather is getting cooler so it’s definitely feeling like the season of boots and scarves is upon us! Jonathan and I spent most of the day outside today, enjoying a park play date with friends this morning and the dirt in our own yard this afternoon. I’m looking forward to enjoying more of the same in the coming months!


Kev & Britt’s Wedding
There are two things in life that always bring me joy: babies and weddings. I love them. And last weekend we got to attend our friends Kevin & Brittany’s wedding. It was beautiful, both in venue and in the words spoken. Stephen was a groomsman, and a mighty fine one at that, and I was asked to take photos of the getting ready process. What an honor to be invited into such a personal, once in a lifetime event.
img_1471More photos can be found at my photography site: Amanda Rabon Photography – I may have gotten emotional on more than one occasion!

Fitz & The Tantrums
This song makes me smile whenever it comes on the radio. img_1499
It’s definitely not my usual type of music, but it’s good for car dance parties with my boy. Jonathan claps along, though he hasn’t quite mastered the rhythm of the song. It’s REALLY cute.

BSF
I did my first Bible Story as a Children’s Leader at Bible Study Fellowship this week. And I wasn’t terrible at it! That’s a big relief. I feel a lot more confident having taught Hymn Time and Bible Story/Scripture each once and I’m hopeful to gain confidence each week. My co-leader is awesome, the kids are great and I’m looking forward to growing through this year as we study the Gospel of John.

Life Lately

Life is really starting feel full around the Rabon household, so I wanted to pause for a moment and document this time in our lives. Though there are moments that I find all of this overwhelming, I’m also searching for joy in the hardships and growth in stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Herniated Discs, Doctors and Chiropractors Galore
Back in May, Stephen hurt his back. After a few weeks of trying to rehab it himself and then making it feel even worse while volunteering at the Crossfit Regionals in Dallas, he went to a doctor in June. Followed by a chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, doctor again, specialist, different chiropractor, another chiropractor, an imaging facility, the last chiropractor again, his doctor again, a spinal specialist, and a partridge in a pear tree. After being misdiagnosed/assessed with a sacro-illiac joint issue, torn labrum, piriformis syndrome,  and hip dysplasia, an MRI finally confirmed what Stephen thought all along: a herniated disc.

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What a jerk.

So, we are on the journey of working with his spinal specialist (by we I mean that I drive the getaway car on occasion) to determine the next course of action. He’s attempted steroid injections most recently but surgery is definitely still on the table. 4.5 months of constant pain has been rough, so we are praying for an answer and treatment that will finally provide some relief!

House Hunters: Douglas County
As I mentioned in a previous blog, Mike and Marcie are moving back to Colorado. We expect them to arrive the weekend of October 1st, so we are just a few weeks out now. Though we will have room to stay here in the house for a period of time, we have begun the search for a house of our own. Which is both exciting, slightly stressful, and entirely too adulty sometimes. You know what really makes you feel like a grown up? Discussing debt-to-income ratios with a lender. That said, I’ve been doing some looking online and we’ve met with our realtor (while camping, in her pop-up-trailer, ha!) so hopefully once we have more information on where Stephen’s treatment is headed we can begin looking with more focus.

Bible Study Fellowship
Another year of BSF is upon us and I’m really excited that we will be studying the Gospel of John this year. This year I was invited to join the leadership team and will be co-leading in the children’s ministry with the 5-year-old class! Tomorrow is our first day with the kiddos after a few meetings for training and I’m both excited and anxious. I can’t wait to see how much I learn this year both from the adult study and from preparing lessons for the children. While I really appreciated Jonathan’s teachers last year, I appreciate them so much more now that I know how much individual planning goes into each week’s teaching time. This is a big step out of my comfort zone, but I know God will bless it in ways I haven’t even thought of yet. I’ve always loved kids and have worked in schools for years but doing the planning and teaching is a whole new level for me and I pray that God will give me the words to reach the children effectively.

Time Management
My plate has gotten rather full all of a sudden and I’m hoping that I can settle into a groove quickly. I’m trying to work out with Fitness Blender 5 days a week, work part-time for Engrain, having BSF leaders meetings on Tuesdays and BSF class on Wednesdays, doing lesson planning for BSF during the time between classes as well as my adult lesson, feeding my family, packing to move, having upcoming photo shoots, and trying to be somewhat social. All really good things, so I’m happy to be doing them, but finding balance will be a continuous process. Starting with getting up at 5am on weekdays to fit in work outs and Bible study before Jonathan wakes up. Wish me luck.

Upcoming Excitement
In the midst of all of the above, we have these things to look forward to as well:

♦   Kevin & Brittany’s wedding this weekend, which includes one extremely good-looking groomsman that I happen to be married to and me taking getting ready pictures before the ceremony. Jonathan will be spending the day with his favorite person, our neighbor Gina, so he will be having way more fun than any 2-year-old should. All the neighbor boys are already planning to invade Gina’s house to play with him. We are blessed with a great community here.

♦   Halloween – I’ve never really been a huge fan, but now that Jonathan is in the picture and we’ve got a solid group of friends to trick or treat with who have kids, too, things are looking up. And I hear there may be another themed party this year so that ups the ante too.

♦   Thanksgiving & Christmas, aka the best holidays ever. Meghan and I have already started planning Advent activities for Jonathan and Camden, so things are already rolling in the direction of holiday joy. I may or may not have recently updated my address book in anticipation of Christmas cards. Oh what fun!

♦   Jonathan’s Third Birthday. I can’t even handle the idea of having a three-year old, when I look at him and still see my sweet baby. But, he’s also growing like crazy and learning something every day. He’s so smart, athletic, funny and wonderful.

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Jonathan’s First Camping Trip

Over Labor Day weekend, we took Jonathan for his first camping trip. This was also the first time in the almost ten years that Stephen and I have been together that we have been camping. Considering that Stephen’s family is very outdoorsy, it’s pretty incredible that we’ve made it this long without having camped. I went camping a bit as a kid, but it’s probably been since my freshman or sophomore year of high school since I last went. We headed up Friday afternoon and came home Sunday afternoon.

Our friends invited us to join them this weekend at Mueller State Park down by Woodland Park/Divide. Brandon, Meghan and Camden have a pop-up trailer, so we pitched a tent at their campsite and enjoyed going between their site and Brandon’s parents’ site right next door. Our biggest concern with taking Jonathan was the sleeping arrangement. He’s great at sleeping in his own bed at night, but he’s still in a crib because he needs to be contained. We weren’t sure how this would translate to a tent. He actually slept much better than I thought he would. The first night, he fell asleep in Rae’s arms – leave it to a kiddo to find the Nana in the group and cuddle in. Grandmas have magical powers of making little people sleep, even if they’re not technically related to the little ones. The second night he was starting to fall asleep on my lap watching the fire, so we got him to the tent before he was out so that we wouldn’t have to wake him transferring him. He wasn’t great at staying in his sleeping bag (he’d somehow migrate out the top during the night) but we had extra blankets that we kept him well insulated with. He also was quite the pillow thief. On the rare occasion that he ends up in bed with us, he and I usually share a pillow. But because he kept coming out the top of his sleeping bag, he’d end up above my head, making sharing the pillow rather difficult.

Overall, Jonathan did great. He LOVED that he could play with endless amounts of dirt and rocks. I brought him two tractors to play with and he spent some time both days loading rocks into his dump truck and transporting them to another place. He saw bugs, birds and dogs. He got to help Uncle Brandon start the fires and play with his bestie, Camden. He loved getting to wait out a little rainstorm in Rae & Larry’s trailer. He did end up clotheslining himself on the cord that runs from the trailer awning to the ground, but got back up and back to running around really quickly.

 

Jonathan playing with tractors/rocks

 

Jonathan helping Uncle Brandon start the fire aka Fire Mountain

 

We had a lot of fun getting to spend time together and with the Atherton side of our family.  We even got to play some cards while both little men slept with Meghan while simultaneously polishing off a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Actually, all camping food is good in my book. Rae and Larry made these crazy good pies on the campfire – I was most definitely a fan.

We started our camping adventures pretty late in the season, so I don’t know that we would camp again this year due to weather, but would do it again next year. Maybe by then we’ll invest in some of our own equipment, instead of mooching a tent and sleeping pads/bags off of others. This level of camping — at a campsite that has toilets — is about my speed. I’m not sure I’m down to do the whole hike in and cop a squat under a tree type of camping. That sounds like some father-son adventures that Jonathan and Stephen can look forward to later.

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I have big plans to visit some national parks, so knowing we could handle camping was a good test because that’ll be the cheapest way to experience some really beautiful places. I want to visit: Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park and Banff National Park (especially Moraine Lake) because I’ve seen some amazing photos lately and I want to see/photograph that beauty for myself. And we could hit all three of those on an epic road trip.

 

 

Things I Love Lately

Here are a few things that have been making me happy lately:

Results!
I’m not one of those people who loves to work out just for the sake of working out. I really wish that I was, but I’m not. If I’m putting in the work, I want to see and/or feel something  happening. With that said, my current routine of Fitness Blender’s 4-Week Booty Boot Camp and their 4-Week Upper Body Program is not only challenging me but also making me feel stronger and notice some increased muscle definition. I saw this great thing on Instagram that I loved and am trying to embrace:

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I had some great talks with my sister-in-law while she was here about how great it is to see athletes in the spotlight, most recently in the CrossFit Games and Olympic gymnastics team, who show an alternative female body type than mainstream media promotes but  that is beautiful, capable and strong. And I’m all for that. After all, thick thighs save lives.

If you’re looking for a great lower body workout, this one is my favorite. If you really push yourself, you’ll be good and sore for a few days.

 

Instagram: elisabethontheroad
I am so in love with this instagram account.

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The photography is top-notch, the locations are beautiful and it’s really making me want to go out and adventure. I first encountered this account when looking up information about going to Iceland (someday, maybe!) and her photos were amazing. Most recently she’s given me the desire to go to Glacier National Park and Banff.

 

Doing Nerdy Things
Sometimes I feel like I don’t spend enough time doing things that challenge my brain. I haven’t read nearly as much as I used to since I became a mom and sometimes it just takes a small thing to make me feel like my brain isn’t atrophying.
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Rebekah made Dan and Joanna this really cool world map, and to do so, she needed a full-sized map to base it on. When she was done, I grabbed it and tried to name as many countries as I could. I was loving every minute of it. I’m pretty proud that I could correctly place 33 countries in Africa as well as most of Europe and Asia, from memory.

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My sister Nikki introduced me to this game and it’s kind of embarrassing how much I enjoy getting to use my random trivia knowledge and problem solving skills. Monkey Wrench is my new jam.

 

This Dry Rub Recipe
IMG_1100The Country Basket nailed this dry rub. I randomly found it online and it’s become part of our regular rotation. I’ve both grilled chicken and baked it using this rub and it’s been so good both times. Try it – you won’t regret it.

 

Christmas Shopping
Yes, you read that right. No, I’m not crazy. Well, maybe I am. Thanks to my handy-dandy countdown app (another Nikki recommendation), I know that there are 125 days until Christmas.
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And while that is still a lot of time, the next few months are about to be crazy with Stephen’s annual guys trip, a wedding, football, packing & moving, potentially buying a house, etc. So, in an effort to save myself a little stress, I’m compiling a list now and purchasing items as we go. Which just means I get to enjoy the process a little longer and spread out the layout of cash.

I’d love to hear some things you love lately!

 

Five Things Friday

It’s been a little over three months since my last installment of Five Things Friday, so now seemed like a good time to pretend like I blog on a regular basis.

 

1. By far the craziest thing that happened this week is that after 31 years of hair virginity, I dyed my hair. Well, to be fair, this is really how it went down:
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After discussing dying my hair on multiple occasions with my sister-in-law, I finally pulled the trigger. Stuff like this is totally outside of my comfort zone, but let’s face it, my comfort zone has only gotten smaller as I’ve gotten older. Joanna showed up at my house with Starbucks and 3 shades of dye in hand and then we sat down with Rebekah and discussed my options. Though we had planned on a semi-permanent, the only option there was not really the color I was looking for. So, I committed and went with permanent.
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Aaaaand now I’m a redhead! It took me a few minutes to process having hair of a different color, but I really like it. It looks totally different depending on where I am standing and the lighting, which is pretty cool. Stephen likes it. Jonathan could not care less, haha.

2. It’s Summer Olympics season, which is amazing. I look forward to these couple of weeks every year, because even though I don’t care about most of these sports any other time, I do enjoy watching the USA dominate. ‘Merica. Gymnastics is by far my favorite, and watching the Final Five crush their routines the other night and take home the gold was incredible. I still remember watching the Magnificent Seven in Atlanta in 1996, when I was 11 years old, and thinking Dominique Moceanu’s floor routine to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” was the best thing I had ever seen. In the spirit of the Olympics, and watching more Olympic Weightlifting this year than ever before, this image made me laugh entirely too hard:

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Well played, Crossfit South Bay, well played.

3. Stephen’s sister, Rebekah, has been living with us this summer before she goes back to Baylor for her junior year. We’ve all loved having her here, but none so much as Jonathan, who LOVES his “Uncle Bekah.” From the moment she walks in the door from work it’s “Hi Uncle Bekah. What are you doing Uncle Bekah? How are you doing Uncle Bekah?” Watching those two together has brought me so much joy. He wants to sit down and eat “milk and Cheerios” with her in the mornings and sit in her lap as we watch Harry Potter in the evenings. He’s going to be so sad when she goes back to Texas, but it’ll just make Christmas that much sweeter.

 
4. Our summer has been so crazy with vacations and family in town that we haven’t spent nearly enough time at local splash pads or any time at our neighborhood pool! It’s crazy to think it’s August and the local kids are back in school already after what must have seemed like the shortest summer in history. We’re looking forward to taking advantage of some splashing with friends before they close on Labor Day.
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5. BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) starts in September and I can’t wait for it to get here! Having that weekly Bible study last year was such an amazing part of our week and I am so looking forward to studying John this year. The kids ministry is so great for Jonathan as well. It’s the one “standing appointment” Jonathan and I have every week and even that one little thing is really grounding for us. Okay, maybe only for me but Jonathan loves it too. And now that he’s a little older and will be placed in a group of older children, I can’t wait to hear all of the amazing things he learns!

 

 

 

 

6 Years in Colorado

Six years ago today, we arrived at our home in Colorado. Married for not quite four months, Stephen and I were newlyweds embarking on a big adventure in a state with no family close by and for me, none of my closest friends. Over the last six years, we’ve grown and changed as individuals, a couple and a family. We’ve added a precious son. We’ve had every one of Stephen’s siblings live with us at some point along the way. We’ve gained a new sister. We’ve made or maintained great friendships. We’ve had a lot of visitors and seen some pretty beautiful things.

Five years ago, I wrote a blog about what I had learned since moving to Colorado. A lot of those things still hold true. I still haven’t skied or snowboarded. I still have no plans to do so. The Denver Aquarium still has tigers and I still don’t know why. People from Colorado still really love being from Colorado. Except now it annoys me because “natives” are constantly complaining about people who have moved here, especially from California, ruining their state. It’s obnoxious. I still miss my friends and family back home, and am acutely aware of all of the things that I miss out on. The older our children get, the more I feel like I am missing in their lives, which really sucks. But, I am still very grateful for the friendships that I have made here and their children that get to grow up with Jonathan. We’ve been very blessed.

Since moving to Colorado, we’ve had some pretty big life changes. Stephen left his job at Starbucks after 11 years to pursue a new career path at Engrain. I became a stay at home mom, then went back to work for a while, then returned to staying home. Now I’m working part-time from home for Engrain, which will soon be renamed Rabon as four of us now work there. I started my own photography business, a huge step out of my comfort zone. We bought our first new car together, our first “major” purchase since we got married. Stephen started CrossFit in Colorado, a decision that shapes our lives daily.

We’ve explored some of the state, but honestly probably not as much as we should have in six years.

I think I’m going to work on a “Colorado Bucket List” of things I want to do here in the state to work on over the next few years. Be on the lookout for a new tab on the top of this page. Though mine will probably be much different from most Coloradans as I have no intentions of hiking every 14er in the state. I haven’t assimilated that much.

Mike and Marcie are returning to Colorado in October, which will give us a new adventure to embark on. We’ll be moving out of the house we have called home for the last six years and either becoming homeowners or renting an apartment in preparation of buying a house. This is yet to be determined. By the seventh year of life in Colorado, I hope to be able to say we are settled into our own home and learning all kinds of things about the joy of home ownership. I might even actually decorate Jonathan’s room to celebrate. Poor baby still has a very gender neutral room from us not finding out his gender prior to birth. I’m foreseeing Star Wars everything.

So here’s to you, Colorado, for six years and who knows how many more to come. I’d raise a Coors Light to you, but beer is gross. So maybe next time we have some Stranahan’s available I’ll raise a glass to six years together. If you could go easy on the snow this year, it’d be much appreciated.

 

Two and a Half

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It’s hard to believe two and a half years have passed since Jonathan came into our lives. He’s such an incredible kid and my little best friend. When he’s not performing a death-defying feats of climbing, he’s trying to keep up with his daddy and uncles by trying to CrossFit with them. He loves books and reading, but also needs a lot of gross motor stimulation. Running, jumping and lightsaber battles are often the name of the game. He loves music and can be found conducting some Bach along with the conductor in Fantasia, dancing to upbeat songs or humming along to the Star Wars theme song. He especially loves when his Uncle Matt lets him play his piano or guitar. His favorite song is the Disturbed cover of “The Sound of Silence,” which he tries to sing along to including making his voice raspy when needed.

An airplane and a rock, what more does a boy need in life?

An airplane and a rock, what more does a boy need in life?

Jonathan’s vocabulary is extensive now and he’s speaking in full sentences more often. It’s amazing how much this little sponge absorbs from our conversations, the shows he watches, the books we read and the world around him. Some of my favorite Jonathan-isms are:

  • He calls berries, “babies.” Ex: strawbabies
  • Thanks to one of his favorite shows, Trotro, he sometimes calls water “WAH-ta” (water in a British accent) and occasionally calls things “lovely”
  • “Fall down the window” = roll down the window
  • He calls Stephen’s sister “Uncle Bekah” – the kid has a lot of uncles, so obviously that’s what all people he loves are!
  • “Jonathan Strong Baby/Daddy Strong Baby/Mama Strong Baby/Uncle Dan Strong Baby, etc” : Basically what he calls anyone who is working out/stretching
  • “Strong Baby” also refers to him holding two people’s hands and then removing his feet from the ground so that those two, often unsuspecting, people have to carry him
  • “Mamas Carry You” = he wants me to carry him
  • “Say Hi” – our little extrovert needs to say hi to everyone and everything. If we go through a drive thru, he wants me to roll down his window so he can say hi to the person working the window. He saw guys outside working on our lawn, he asks to say hi. Sometimes we also say hi to trucks and tractors.
  • He calls the Cat in the Hat “Kitty Cat the Hat”
  • He tries to sign “I love you” and then whispers “I love you” while he does it
  • He’s still obsessed with the moon and when he sees it, he emphatically says “moooooooooooon!”
  • He shakes people’s hands now and says “Nice to meet you”

The best thing of all are those completely unprompted I love yous that he’s started giving out. Melts. My. Heart.

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In his brief two-and-a-half years, he has been to:

  • 6 weddings (+2 if you count when I was pregnant)
  • 14 states
  • 9 airports

He’s a pretty well-traveled kid. And he does pretty well traveling. He was a total champ on our 18 hour drive to my cousin’s wedding in February. And on planes he does great except for having to put on his seat belt. He is decidedly NOT a fan.

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We’ve had to lower his crib mattress to the floor to prevent break outs. While we were at Mom’s house he learned how to escape from the pack & play, a skill which he easily translated to his crib back home. Hopefully this buys us some time as I am not prepared for Jonathan to have the freedom of movement that a toddler bed would allow him. Maybe when we buy a house and have fully anchored all items to the walls and have figured out the best way to keep him in his own room so that he isn’t wandering the house at ungodly hours of the morning. MAYBE.

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He loves rocks, dirt, cars, trucks, airplanes and tractors. He’s 100% boy. He also really likes barns, hence the location of this photo set.

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