Oregon, Photography, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Just Living – Golden Hour on the Farm

“I am tired.”

If you’ve spoken to me at all in the last two months, my bet is that this was said early on in the conversation. Usually I try to stay away from default answers like “I’m tired” or “I’m busy” when I’m catching up with someone, because the reality is we are all busy and tired, and we all measure those differently. Personally, I think we are all capable of being better conversationalists.

But the truth is in this case, when I finally made it home to Oregon for my vacation at home with my family, this was all I could muster up when my Grampy asked how my work meeting in Seattle, (that I had just traveled from) went.

My body was tired, my brain was tired and I’d even say my soul was tired.

Both professionally and personally, this season of life over of the past six months or so has really pushed me. Its tested me and even broke me a couple of times. And that’s all OK. These seasons come and go, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I believe that sometimes you just have to put your head down and work, and do what you have to do to get by.

That first evening when I got home I immediately jumped on my laptop to knock out a few things related to the meeting I had just traveled from. But the sun was starting to set and the scene I could see through my parent’s big kitchen window could not be ignored.

So I grabbed my camera and headed out to sit in the yard with our old family dog Jack and just paused for a bit.

It’s amazing how little things like that can refocus things for you.

It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear
Some days you just breath in
Just try to break even
Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest
Sometimes it’s just beatin’
Some days you just forget
What all you’ve been given
Some days you just get back
And some days you’re just alive
Some days you’re livin’
Some days you’re livin’

Career/Professional, Photography, Travel Journal

Travel Journal: Estes Park, Colorado

Seeing as I leave later today for another quick work trip, I figured I better get my act together and get something about my trip to Colorado up here! Because trust me, my lack of timeliness is not a reflection on the trip.

Every two years, my organization hosts a world staff conference that brings together all of our 15 overseas offices, along with our two here in the U.S. Two years ago (really!?) we traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, and this year our conference was in Estes Park, Colorado! Even though I grew up in Oregon and lived in Kansas for eight years, I actually have never spent any significant time Colorado, aside from the airport of course and passing through on a long road trip. Our conference was hosted at the famous, historical Stanley Hotel, which might be familiar to some because it was the inspiration for Stephen King’s book, The Shining, and a few other movies were filmed there, including Dumb and Dumber.

I’ve said this a few times before, but I really do love the organization that I work for and being able to get together and connect with our staff from around the world helps remind me why my job is more than just an 8 to 5. My co-workers are very passionate about the wheat industry and the people in it. They are intelligent, kind, supportive and… hilarious. I am a better professional, and person because of them.

One fun addition to this trip was that my mom tagged along!

My organization also values family and unique experiences, so I was able to invite my mom along to join us in Estes Park. While I was in meetings she enjoyed a spa day and lots of time outside, which was great opportunity for her to just relax because she had just wrapped her own busy couple of weeks at work. After I wrapped up with my conference we stayed an extra few days for a mini mother-daughter vacay.

Though I did take a lot of photos during the conference, I’m not sharing any of them here because I don’t think its the right platform, but if you want to see those then head over to our Facebook page HERE.

It snowed in Estes Park a few days before we arrived, so I had to pull out a few winter pieces that I had already packed away for the summer. Thankfully, by the time we arrived most of it had melted and the weather didn’t end up being quite as cold as we expected.

I loved getting to introduce my mom to my co-workers and our wheat farmers!

View from the front porch of The Stanley Hotel.

The “downtown” main strip was adorable, full of t-shirt shops, candy stores and YEAR-ROUND CHRISTMAS STORES.

Mom made me go in one. If you know me personally, you know I’m the Grinch in my family and being in that store was just too much for me.

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On our first full day after the conference we hiked up to Gem Lake. A few of my co-workers did the hike earlier in the week and mentioned that even though the distance was pretty short, that the hike itself should not be underestimated. The walk from the hotel to the trail head was 1.7 miles and the hike itself was also 1.7 miles. The altitude was definitely a bit a challenge from time to time, even on the walk up to the trail head but after a while we both felt a bit more leveled out. The trail wasn’t too difficult to maneuver until the last quarter mile or so where it got more rocky. But it was all still a bit steeper and slower than we first thought. It wasn’t until AFTER the hike that we learned that the 1.7 miles climbs 1,000 ft, so that explained a lot. But it was so much fun to enjoy the views, chat and just spend that time with my mom.

She’s going to LOVE that shared that. #sorrynotsorry

Gem Lake… which is more like a pond 🙂

So growing up in Oregon, I know that you’re not really supposed to feed the wildlife, but we didn’t go up there planning too. Another hiker near us had her granola bar snatched right out of her hands by a squirrel and when she got up to leave she left of with a few nuts she had leftover, so by then we were already too entertained and curious about how close they would get to us.

They got REALLY close.

Even after we were out of nuts the two squirrels kept come back to us to double check. One even tried to gnaw on my mom’s phone!

This isn’t zoomed in. It was sitting on my backpack which was sitting right next to me.

 

“Paul Bunyan’s Boot”

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We returned back to Denver the day before our flights out and I was able to catch up (very) briefly with two of my best friends!

Kayla is one of my best friends from high school and lives in the Denver area for school right now.

This little one is no stranger to the blog. Baby Robin and her parents, Leah and Ryan just happened to be visiting family in the Denver area and made a little time for a visit!

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 1 | Home & Wedding Prep

At the beginning of July, I went home to Oregon for a much anticipated vacation and family wedding. I mentioned in my last post that May through July was busy beyond reason in so many ways, and though this trip also added to the chaos, it was a great mental break and just the dose of home that I needed. On the day I rolled into town, I headed to U.S. Cellular for an upgrade on my phone, which meant my work email was no longer connected until I could hand it over to the IT guy at work. I was so thankful that my boss was perfectly fine with me completely checking out for a full week.

I have WAY TOO MANY pictures from my phone, Snapchat and my nice camera to share, so I am going to break the trip down into three blog posts. ENJOY!

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Seriously, though, one of everything from the Taco Truck is on menu for my “last meal.”

Both of my sister’s cats unexpectedly had kittens. It is well known that I am not a fan of cats, but they are adorable when they are little.

That would be my Mom you hear in the background. We were way too entertained by the kittens.

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Aside from the wedding, the highlight of my trip was that I finally met Wesley Ray! Baby Wes belongs to my best friend from high school, Richole, and he was just a day over 4 months when I met him. He is such a sweet, easy-tempered baby and has such beautiful, curious eyes like his mama. I was overjoyed to see how happy he makes my best friend and unfortunately its things like this that makes living so far away hard. I almost want to cry just thinking that he will be 9 months old before I see him again.

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The pictures in this post are a tad bit out of order, but it makes sense to group them together the way I did. I landed in Oregon on Saturday, July 2 and we headed up to the cabin the next day for a little wedding prep before heading back to Hermiston so my parents could work and I could visit with Richole and Baby Wes.

Regardless, I was perfectly happy to spend as much time up at “The Diggins” as I could since I only usually get to go about once a year.

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When Josh (my uncle who is more like a brother) and Sonia finally decided that they were going to get married up at the cabin I was so excited. I kept joking that I was going to be vicariously living through them because while I would love to get married there someday myself, I could never narrow down a guest list that small. #italktoomuch #invitationsforeveryone

There were many little projects to do for setup and decorations so my Grammy and Grampy put everyone to work. Notice though, how Josh and Sonia are nowhere to be seen in any of these pictures… #ahem.

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Grampy, Uncle Joe and Dad.

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Archway for the ceremony.

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Grammy staining benches.

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Up at the cabin we have named all of the buildings. The garage-turned large kitchen is labeled the “Cook Shack.” The shop that is converted into extra sleeping rooms and a playroom/common area is called the “Bunk House.” The shed is the “Jail House.” You get the picture. So when we put up the archway, my Uncle Joe joked that we should call it the “Gallows.” At some point, my Dad disappears and returns with some rope and starts making nooses and prepping some wood for my Grammy to use to make a sign. If you are wondering how my Dad knows how to make a legit noose, you are NOT alone. Let’s just say there’s a story about an intense game of ‘cowboys and indians’ from my Dad’s childhood. #wildwildwest

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daddys hands with namemark

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grammy painting with namemark

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Oh, did I mention that I celebrated my favorite holiday, while also at my favorite place? Because I did, and minus the fact that we did not do fireworks, it was great. #Merica

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Since it was a holiday weekend, we were able to catch the flea market in Sumpter, the nearby little gold mining town. There is a LOT of junk at things like this, but there are also many treasures to find, especially if you are into the whole shabby chic/rustic/vintage decor trend.

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In particular, we were in search for some old bottles for wedding table decorations.

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Sumpter, OR

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I just moved at the beginning of the summer and purged many things before I did, so I have been really focusing on not buying too many new things or decorations. However, I made an exception when I found this gem. It is hard to read in the picture, but the little tag says “Bourbon” and it pumps the perfect amount for a shot. It will go perfectly on my cabinet where I keep all of different drinking glasses, accessories and you know… the actual booze.

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I had a fun afternoon browsing with just my Grammy and my Mom. There are so many qualities that I know I get from them, including our sassy attitudes. #igotitfrommymama

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I am convinced we should leave the light up year-round.

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That is it for today! My next two posts will cover the rest of the prep and the rehearsal, and then of course the wedding day. Excited to share!

Cheers!

Family, Washington D.C.

Brought to You by the Letter “M”

This blogpost was brought to you by the letter “M.”
Mom. Memorial. Moving. Monsoon…

Ok, that last one is a tad bit of an exaggeration but I’m all about dramatic effects in these parts. Moving along in my blogging catch this week (which I started yesterday), as soon as I returned back to DC from my Kansas work/fun trip, my Mom had already arrived to visit and help me move into my new apartment.

I feel like I’ve been talking about moving FOREVER. When I first moved to DC, I had to do everything online, find and commit to a place site-unseen, and move all within about two weeks. My roommate and I always knew that this gig was going to last through the one lease so I knew months ahead of time when I’d be moving.

The biggest difference when apartment searching in a city like DC, versus say, a Midwest college town like Manhattan, is that apartment managements usually only know when a space is coming available 30 to 60 days, which means you can’t look at or consider them until then. Also, the prices fluctuate on a scale based on demand, time of year, etc., so that price you saw online two weeks ago isn’t valid now.
Long story short, apartment hunting here is way more complicated and tedious than it really ought to be.

I actually got the keys to my new place in early May, but waited until the end to move because of my trip to Kansas and all the other life things (did I mention I’ve been busy?)

Now here’s where my Mom comes in. Somewhat last minute she decided to fly across the country to hang for a whole week and help me wherever I need it.
After she left I wrote on Facebook, “You all can argue with me another time, but this week there is no doubt that my mom wins the “Best Mom Award.” She came to DC to help me move to a new apartment during what has been a REALLY busy season of life and work for me. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.”

It was so nice to have someone help with all the loose ends, offer a second opinion on decisions and oh yeah… CLEAN MY OLD APARTMENT FOR ME because I had to go back to work.

Now my new apartment has this weird rule about no moving in on weekends and holidays, which gave Mom and I an excuse to be tourists for part of her visit.

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Union Station.
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U.S. Capitol.

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If you didn’t know my family has owned a flower shop for 27 (28?) years. It was actually pretty funny because somehow in the past year of living here, I had failed to mention to Mom about the U.S. Botanical Garden. Friends, my mom is not very good at remembering to take pictures or even actually taking them (her words, not mine)…. and she took pictures of almost every flower we saw in there.

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The tropics room was a bit humid. I actually wanted to go back outside into the DC humidity.

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On the National Mall.

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At the new apartment… oops.

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So we knew our tourist/fun time was going to be limited and since she was in town over Memorial Day we decided that we REALLY wanted to go to the DC Memorial Day concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It is a great event aired on PBS hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna (aka Captain Dan and Agent Rossi LOL). The weather that morning first said it was supposed to be a light rain before the concert and then clear up. So we didn’t taken umbrellas and headed into the district to get there at 5pm for a good spot for the 8pm concert and that’s where it went downhill. We get off the Metro and it is POURING. So because we have time, we decide to go back a Metro stop to where I think there are shops where we can buy umbrellas (and use the restrooms because HELLO priorities). Except the shops aren’t actually open and neither are the restrooms, so we head out in the rain following Google Maps to the nearest CVS… except it gets confused and takes us in the opposite direction. FYI, by now it was pouring even harder. At point, I actually realize I am near a hotel I recognize that has a restroom AND gift store where we paid way too much money for ridiculous ponchos and umbrellas.

Finally we made the trek back toward the Capitol and still sat for almost two hours in the pouring rain, where we played “I Spy,” for at least one hour. I think its important to note here how much my mom and I both hate the rain and hate being that cold. But at that point we were committed.

And it was worth it. The concert was awesome, and the rain eventually did let up.

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Monday was mostly spent doing apartment things, but we did walk to Arlington National Cemetery.

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And then Wednesday was officially moving day. I just want to throw a quick shout out. If you are moving in the NOVA/DC area, I HIGHLY recommend the My Truck Buddy moving company. Moving in a city is just a different kind of beast, and these guys made my move so much less stressful and so fast! It was worth every penny, and really, their prices were pretty reasonable. Though I seriously would have paid them just to move my couch that I’m a bit attached to and apparently unable to fit into any DC apartment. That’s a story for another time…

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Hi, my name is Amanda, I’m 25, and have no shame in admitting that I totally still need my mom. I loved being able to finally show her my life here in DC and am so, so, so, so, so thankful for her help that week!

Friends, if your mama is anywhere near as awesome as mine, give her a big ol’ hug, because she deserves it.

On a side note, I am so in love with my new apartment and can’t wait to eventually show it off to you!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a “So There’s That” post to wrap up my blogging catch up.

Cheers!

 

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 11

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}

1. Happy Birthday Mom!

With my Mom at Kyla's wedding.
With my Mom at Kyla’s wedding.

 This lady.
Whoever says that parents can’t (or shouldn’t) become your friends are just plain wrong.
She’s funny, sassy, hard working and has a heart of gold.
Today is her birthday and I wish more than anything that I was spending the day with her.

2. Buzzfeed Roommate Video

After I could see straight from laughing so hard I cried I started to get concerned that someone was spying on me and my roommates back in college. My college experience was better than I could have ever asked for and it was because of Kyla and Megan. We had some great laughs and this video, as embarrassing as some of it is to admit, just about perfectly describes what life was like in our apartment.

3. #JanciandJordyDoVegas

Catching a few last rays.
Catching a few last rays.

Last weekend I took my sister to Vegas for her 21st birthday.
I wrote about it and shared some pictures in yesterday’s post.

4. James Corden Carpool Karaoke

I’m really not sure why I am just now getting around to including this. I LOVE James Corden. I’m a Doctor Who fan and his character “Craig” is by far my favorite reoccurring guest. I was pretty excited when he got his own talk show except for the fact that its the late late show, which is a bit much for me. So I watch a few every now and then online and catch a few clips on YouTube. My favorite bit is his carpool karaoke. Now I have never been a Biebs fan but people, this video is hysterical. I also really enjoy his carpools with Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson.

5. Food For Thought
farmer info graphic

6. Friday Jam Session

Friday Jam Session
I started up my Friday Jam posts again after realizing that it was something that I missed, but decided to change the format a bit to hopefully make it a bit easier to stay consistent. So my question is, what are your thoughts? What questions need to be added to the list? What should definitely stay?

7. Good luck Janci!

Jancz & Sissy

My baby sister is leaving home today for her senior year of college at Lewis-Clark State. She’s a kinesiology major and on the women’s golf team. We’re proud of you Janci L’Amour! Good luck this year!

8. K-State Football
Ok two things…
So Jordy Nelson was before my time as a Kansan and K-Stater, but like most things in Kansas, that is a detail that has become a part of the grey area where I feel like I have always been connected to Kansas in some way. And even if that weren’t true, how could you not like Jordy Nelson?
See what I mean in this article:
An NFL player who has made $28 million spends 12 hours a day working on his family farm in the off-season

And speaking of K-State Football…
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We are down to 17 days until Gameday people!!
#besttimeoftheyear
#whycanteverySaturdaybeGameday

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So, There’s That

So There's That Series

So There’s That: Vol. 8

 {Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife.}

1. Resident of Virginia

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So this finally happened, and my new driver’s license is on its way in the mail. All I can say is that since the Virginia standard plates are so boring, it’s a good thing I have that purple frame to help spruce it up.


2. Window Garden

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When I moved out here from Kansas I got rid of the three little plants I had, but knew that I would want to eventually replace them.
I may have went a little overboard (you can stop rolling your eyes at me mom)…but I’m so excited!
This time I got some mint and basil, and have already started to use them!


3. Spring/Summer Silk Arrangement

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Last fall I got this cute butter crock at an antique store in Kansas and designed a silk fall/winter arrangement to go in it that also went along with my normal living room dĂ©cor. Since my move I had been dragging my feet to replace and update it. I already had the red daisies, wheat and some of the sunflowers from a different decoration that I didn’t put up in my new place, and the rest I picked up at Michaels. Because the flowers were smaller, this one was a lot more difficult and the wheat was a pain to work with because it sheds easily. But I was extremely happy with the final result. It even reminds me a bit of Kansas!


4. Shut Up and Dance

Walk The Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” is definitely my jam this summer, so this video,  compiling dozens of infamous movie dance scenes with this song, just makes my dancer heart happy. It was fun to see how many of the movies I could name.


5. Mondays

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Last week I shared this meme from my co-worker on Instagram. This is usually how I feel about Mondays. Later that day I read this article, “What Successful People Do On Monday Mornings.” Pretty general, but solid advice. All things that I could definitely work on.


6. Gilmore Girls Reunion

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Twitter: @thelaurengraham

To know me, is to know how much I love Gilmore Girls. I grew up watching (and re-watching) it with my mom and sister, and really think it was something that helped us grow closer together…and vicariously become a little too sassy for our own good. Soon after I left for college, my mom got both Janci and I our own full series set, just so the three of us wouldn’t have to share the set that was being left at home.

Anyway this last weekend there was a Gilmore Girls ATX Festival Reunion Panel featuring almost the entire regular cast. As a true fangirl I watched the entire 45 minute video and spent most it shamelessly freaking out a little. If you don’t care for Gilmore Girls, we can’t be friends I don’t know if I’d recommend it, but if you’re fan I suggest busting out the popcorn! Now to decide which of my favorite episodes to go back and watch…


7. National Gallery of Art

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Since my move, I’ve been dying to get to the museums. I’ve previously been to a few of them during my trips to D.C. as a student, but those visits were always rushed and in my mind, museums are not really group activities. These museums are HUGE, so I’m pretty excited that I now the chance to go at my own pace, see what I want to see and come back if I want to. I know…major nerd alert. Anyway, this past weekend I went to the National Gallery of Art, which is just one of many art galleries/museums here in D.C. It was great, but after three hours, I had to give up and resolve to come back another day. There was just too much to see!

So There’s That

( Linking up with Momfessionals, A Little Bit of Everything Blog, and Grace and Love Blog. )

Family, Love Letters

Livin’ on Love for 25 Years

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Today is my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary.

I’m living out here in D.C. and my sister is currently in Utah at a college golf tournament.
It’s the middle of the school week, so Dad was at work before the sun comes up and it’s also Tuesday, so Mom might be prepping the weekly shipment of roses to go into the cooler at the shop.
Life will probably go on as any other day, and I know my parents wouldn’t have it any other way.
But it’s important for them to know how important this is to Janci and I.
Words might be a strange gift, but it’s the best kind that I know how to give.

Mr & Mrs Tom Spoo    Cake

You know when you are growing up, you don’t really think much about love, marriage and your parents as a couple. They’re Mom and Dad. They’ve always been a part of your story, there to do what parents are supposed to do.

It wasn’t until I left for college that I started to see who they were from a different perspective. As I met new people, I saw different family dynamics, examples of love, marriage and ways to raise a family. And while I have a lot of respect for those differences and families, I began to realize the significance of what I had and how much it had impacted who I was.

Julie & Tom dad grin

It’s hard to summarize who my parents are in one blog post.
You know my dad as Tom, the ag teacher turned principal, who enjoys cooking for people and wears a flat brimmed cowboy hat. And you know my Mom as Julie, who owns our family’s 3rd generation flower shop and drinks endless amounts of Diet Coke.

But together, they are our parents. Dad is our superhero and Mom is our very own Gilmore Girl. They certainly are not perfect, and thats what makes what our family has, so special.
Our parents have never really sheltered us. The world is big, scary, confusing and unfair. But they’ve shown us that it is also bold, beautiful, forgiving, kind and full of opportunity.
We’ve seen them yell, struggle to communicate and both be stubborn to a fault. But we’ve also seen what it means to work as a team, to trust and forgive, be patient and to always, always give each other grace.

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Over the years, I’ve gotten some weird looks and rolled eyes when I tell people that my parents truly are two of my best friends. But to be honest, I don’t really think that was their true intention, it just sort of happened that way. Janci and I practically grew up at the flower shop and when we weren’t there, we were in Dad’s classroom or riding along in the truck on his endless errands. No, we didn’t have a lot of fancy vacations or structured cookie cutter family time – what we had was better. Our parents shared themselves with us. Their careers, passions, habits and interests.  There is a reason Janci and I have creative minds and can’t sit down during basketball games. It’s for the same reason that we listen to Kris Kristofferson and eat tacos when we are homesick.

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In return, our parents also invested themselves in the things that made their kids happy. We became curious about the world around us because we all talked, shared and listened to each other. Dad learned to enjoy jamming to Kelly Clarkson and Mom fought through her late summer allergies to spend the week at the county fair. They made sure we knew that they were always in our corner, no matter what.

My parents have built their marriage and our family on laughter. So much so that I’ve found that elsewhere in life, the people I can laugh with are the people that I trust and respect the most. Laughter should be easy, cheesy and shared. In our family you have to be witty, onery and willing to laugh at yourself, if you are going to keep up.

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Above all though, the most important thing that they’ve taught us through their 25 years of marriage, is what it means to live on love. They taught us to believe in it, value it and to live for it.  There may still be lot that Janci and I both have left to learn about love, but in my mind we have the best teachers because theirs is mushy, steadfast and shared.

Love is my Dad not turning in for the night before grabbing a cold Diet Coke for Mom, who has already gone upstairs. But in return, she will be expected to be able to hold a conversation with him at 5 a.m. when he’s up and getting ready for work.

It is the way my Dad giggles when Mom gets really irritated with him and uses “Thomas Spoo” like he’s a four year old in trouble. And its how she knows exactly what volume to talk at so that he can’t hear her because he refuses to wear his hearing aids at home.

Love is the fact that my Mom will never stop blaming Dad for saving the dog before her when the truck caught on fire. And it’s also why she took Janci to get her ears pierced as a toddler just to spite him.

It is the reason I get a phone call every year on her birthday or Christmas when he is clothes shopping for her, because he thinks that magically through the phone I am going to be able to tell him that yes it will fit and yes, I think she will like it. I am not sure why he does that, because it is always perfect.

Love tastes like chicken and dumplings, sour dough cinnamon rolls and taco soup. It’s the sound of the truck pulling in the drive, the way Mom always smells like a bouquet of flowers and the feel of crisp, newly ironed button up shirts.

It is the reason my Mom has not had a real garage in 10 years, and Dad faithfully hauls in the mass amount of Christmas decorations each year.

Love is the reason that our living room doesn’t get used much. Because no matter how many times they said “no more,” the four of us are always most at home sprawled across their bedroom in the evenings to watch a movie or TV. It’s a good thing that as we grew up, their master bedroom got bigger.

 It’s 25 years of  a lot of big, proud moments and even more little ones everyday. It is all of the stories that Janci and I do know, and the ones that we don’t.

Dear Mom and Dad,
Because of you, we believe in every cheesy country love song that we hear on the radio.
Someday Janci and I hope that we can have 25 years that look like yours.
We love being your baby girls.

Happy Anniversary.
– Mandy and Jancz

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