Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas, brain surgery and a love list

This is our first Christmas season as a married couple. During our engagement, we had many many couples tell us that  their love for each other had grown so much through the years, that they couldn't believe they fancied themselves in love on their wedding day. Their perspective on the depth of love had grown. 

We've been married for slightly less than 4 months, and I'm already noticed this happening. Each morning I roll over and see my husband and think, "There's no way I loved him this much yesterday." 

A recent trial in the life of our church has made the life I share with my husband even more precious. Our pastor, Matt Chandler, had brain surgery on Friday to remove a small tumor on his frontal lobe. The mass was discovered on Thanksgiving morning, after Matt suffered a seizure. The response of Matt, his family, and our church has been amazingly encouraging and a strong reminder of God's goodness and sovereignty. 

Here are some things that have impacted my heart lately:

Lauren Chandler's blog

Matt's blog

A video from Matt to the church

I've been reminded of how fleeting and fragile our lives are, how Almighty God is, and how consuming His love is. I am called to love those around me, including and especially my husband, how God loves us. I've been reminded to PRAY - for the Chandlers, for my church, for my heart and for my husband.

We're slowly learning each others' love languages and finding new little ways to serve one another. For example, I did not know there was an upside-down and right-side-up way to load a roll of toilet paper onto the holder. But the upside-down way really bothers Jeremy, so I make it habit to load the toilet paper correctly. Not because I care, but for him.  

Taking any chance available to brag on my wonderful husband, here are some ways Jeremy constantly shows me his love. A love list of sorts:

*** Before we got married, Jeremy rarely drank coffee and never made it for himself. Now, he goes downstairs before I do to start the coffee pot so that I'll have some waiting when I come downstairs.

*** He plugs in the Christmas tree when he comes down before me so the house will be pretty and Christmassy for me.

*** He always pulls the shower button out after his shower, because he knows I hate having cold water land on my head when I turn on the faucet.

*** He makes up silly songs that encompass the words "I love Kelley Rae Irwin because...". It's especially endearing to hear the "Irwin" part, as the songs used to be about Kelley Rae Howard :)

*** He HATES HATES HATES long shopping trips, but last Saturday he came Christmas shopping with me for 7 hours and didn't complain once.

*** I frequently come home to the dishes already clean and put away, laundry already started, or the floors already swept and mopped. Just because he wanted to do it for me.

*** When I decided I wanted to start a vegetable garden, Jeremy went along with spending the money for the soil and making the above-ground bed for me. Then, on the very frequent days when I didn't want to go out and water it because of the heat/mosquitoes/cold/darkness.... He did it for me. 

*** He massages my feet/shoulders/back/neck whenever they need it. Many times he offers without me asking. 

*** Whenever we take long trips, He always drives so I can read/sleep/play on my phone/watch movies on my laptop and he NEVER complains.

I am so blessed to have such a loving man to grow old with. 

Merry first Christmas!

Jeremy assembling our first Christmas tree, given to us by The Wrights. 
Our super-awesome tree is 9 feet tall. Our ceilings are 8 feet 11 inches.

On the square at Denton's annual Wassail Fest

WONDERFUL friends and mentors - John and Ann Wright

First fire in the Irwin home :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Irwins vs. The Wasp-Monsters, Part 2 AND Kelley vs. The Mosquitos

Well I promised a part 2 of our wasp-invasion story, but I'm afraid it might be boring :(

After the original post on the wasp-monsters, I BEGGED Jeremy to find out where they were coming from. Look in the air vents, climb in the attic, check the windows! His response was that he was not going to crawl into a small confined space looking to find a wasp nest. Can't argue with that. I concluded that they must be coming from a nest in the chimney. This had only one remedy..... Smoke 'em out.

BUT... it was 75 degrees in November, so we decided that it wasn't really economical to turn on the air conditioner just so we could have a fire.

A few more wasps later, we realized that the chimney flue blocked off nearly the entire chimney from the house when closed - which it wasn't. So we closed the flue and haven't seen a wasp since. 

Such a simple solution. And MUCH more effective than my attempt to rid the backyard of mosquitos this summer....

I discovered the joy of gardening early this summer, and we planted a large vegetable garden in our back yard in July. However, I found myself covered in mosquito bites daily, just from spending a few minutes outside watering the garden. I already knew that mosquitos will fly a mile to drink my blood, but to make matters worse, our yard seemed to be the site of a local mosquito village. I tried dousing myself with heavy-duty repellant each time I went outside, but to no avail. I spent most of the summer puffy and itchy, but as our wedding neared in August, I realized I had to find a way to avoid the mosquitos. 

I received an email forward one day raving about Listerine mouthwash as a solution to mosquito problems. A little desperate, I foolishly tried it. I purchased a HUGE bottle of Listerine and a spray bottle, and misted the entire back yard with it. And you know what I learned?

Mosquitos are attracted to Listerine.

The day after I sprayed the yard I was bitten about 752 times in a 5 minute time span. Ok I'm exaggerating, but hardly. The mosquito village had evolved into a huge, sprawling metropolis. 

Good news is the yard smelled minty-fresh for 2 weeks.

New solution. I bought a spray bug repellant that attached to the  end of the hose and, positive that it would do wonders immediately, tried it myself instead of waiting for Jeremy to come over and help me. Turns out there was a reason it was on sale, because as soon as I turned on the hose, the connector exploded, and in a matter of seconds I was soaked in water and bug-poison. 

To make things SO much better, I pulled the hose across the driveway just in time for a neighbor walking through the alley to see me dripping with water and white-foamy poison, in addition to the ridiculousness that is my normal gardening attire (workout clothes, post-workout, and nearly-knee high polka dot rain boots).

So the moral to the story? Close the chimney, spray all the poison that you want, but the bugs will most likely always still win.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Irwins vs. The Wasp-Monsters, Part 1

I am not very good at dealing with spiders, snakes, bees, creepy crawly things...... to save myself from continuing this very long list, basically anything that can bite/sting/poison me and/or that scurries/flies/darts.

I grew up in the Canadian rockies. We did not have a wide variety of spiders and nasty flying things. We have cougars and bears. I'm okay with cougars and bears - they don't sneak into your house through the crack in the door and crawl up your leg during dinner. 

Then I moved to Texas. Bug-Central. Lucky  me.

When I moved into our first house together in May, it had been vacant for a few months. I didn't think about the repercussions of this fact until the night I pulled a wine glass out of the cabinet with a live brown recluse sprawled out inside. After finding six more in a week or so, we invested in a heavy-duty pesticide called "Demon WP". I'm pretty sure that stuff knocked out everything living on our property besides us and the dog. Good stuff. 

We thought that the disappearance of bugs meant they'd finally realized who was boss and vacated our property. Then last week I noticed a wasp-like hornet dirt dobber thingy (not sure what it was, but it DEFINITELY had a stinger and wings...) flying around the living room. My stealthy husband killed it skillfully with one slap. 

The next day we found two more in half an hour. We had no idea where they were coming from, but Jeremy assured me that there are usually only three or four to a nest, so no matter where this nest was we'd pretty much obliterated all it's inhabitants already. 

Then we found six more over the next few days. Luckily Jeremy was home for all of them and killed them before I had a chance to shriek girlishly for too long.

Last night I came home late from work, caught up in traffic, to hurriedly prepare dinner before our friends came over. Jeremy was still at work. About halfway into breading the chicken, I heard the familiar tink tink tink of a wasp-monster flying up against the ceiling light in the quiet room. 

I moved silently for my phone and called Jer. He was half an hour from home. I could wait half an hour, right? I continued breading chicken while constantly looking over my shoulder in fear, making sure I could see the wasp-monster and that it was across the room from me. Any time it got a little too close to my work space I would fly to the other side of the room, flinging butter and bread crumbs from my hands everywhere. I couldn't wait half an hour.

Problem - I was far too chicken to kill it like Jeremy did. Only a thin paper towel between my hand and the wasp-monster? Psssh, ludicrous. 

Solution - wooden spoon. 

Problem - putting a hole in the wall of the rent house trying to kill the wasp-monster. 

Solution - wrapping the spoon with a kitchen towel. Result? Ultimate monster-killing weapon. 

I stalked the thing across the room until it landed on the wall. I swung and hit it. It flapping around injured and ANGRY. Crap. 

Landed again. Smacked again. Knocked it onto the ground - woo hoo!! I couldn't let it get up again, so I went to town hacking the monster into the floor with the spoon for quite some time while the poor dog watched my massacre in horror. 

So now 10 wasp-monsters and counting have found themselves into the Irwin abode. There is no moral to this story yet.... we have yet to figure out where they're coming from.

But rest assured, Part 2 is coming.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Irwins vs. Hair Disasters

This weekend two dear friends of ours were married. We were in the wedding, and thus our appearance seemed important. Bearing this in mind, I decided Friday night after the rehearsal dinner that Jeremy desperately needed a haircut. So after borrowing scissors, an electric trimmer and a cape from a friend who is actually talented at cutting hair - me, Jeremy and our friend Robby headed to the garage to trim away the fluffy length that was Jer's head. 

I should preface this story with the fact that I've only cut human hair once in my life. Eight grade. Ashley Lundin. She cried and wore her hair in pony tail for two months. I did not tell Jeremy this before I set out to make him look studly before the Jacobson wedding....

Thirty minutes into the haircut, I was still nervous, Jeremy was still relaxed, and Robby was stifling giggles. Ok wait, Robby doesn't giggle - he guffaws. It's actually quite entertaining. I was doing great rounding the back and sides of my hubby's head, until I accidently took quite a chunk out of the top center. Bad news bears. 

Robby was laughing uncontrollably by then, so Jer decided to get up and check the apparent damage. A bald spot. Right in the front. Oops.

Jeremy, being so calm and not concerned about such trivial things as hair, laughed and demonstrated that if he fixed his hair just so, the bald spot wasn't visible. Crisis avoided.

Next day. Wedding day. Teagan had been staying with us that week, so I woke up to have a leisurely breakfast and chat with her before her hair appointment, and then flew into a whirlwind upon her departure trying to get ready on time. 

Shower. Blow dry. Trying to put my hair up in some elegant way.... (outdoor wedding = wind = eating hair is never fun) ..... time passes and I'm supposed to leave in 10 minutes.

Jeremy comes home to find me frantic, frustrated and half-bobby-pinned up in the back exclaiming that my hair is ruined and I'll never make it to the hotel in time to help Teagan. My ever-calm and collected husband picked up a few bobby pins, soothed me, and went to work pinning my hair. As he finished, a quick glance in the mirror revealed a perfect updo. Couldn't believe it. I think my husband is superman (or grew up with 4 sisters - same thing). 

I got compliments on my hair all night and loved shocking everyone by saying that my husband had done it.

Moral of the story: Kelley creates hair disasters and Jeremy calmly fixes them. Good to know.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Secrets of a Pandora Junkie

I love Pandora. For those of you not in the know, Pandora is a wonderful online radio website that allows you to create your own stations based on artists you like ( I have somewhere in the realm of 12 stations, and pride myself in being a connoisseur of great music: John Mayer, Sigur Ros, Ingrid Michaelson, etc. etc. 

Then I was suckered. I don't know when it started, but one day a Miley Cyrus song didn't make me immediately cringe, change the radio station, and grunt something about "teen pop music". Then I began to actually LIKE the song - then to hope that it would be on when I got in the car! I was ashamed. Eight year-olds everywhere idolize this girl. That alone means I should NOT be a fan! One afternoon when preparing dinner while Jeremy was still at work, I couldn't get it out of my head. I needed to hear it. So I stooped WAY low. I created a Miley Cyrus Pandora station. 

I got past the guilt of the situation and was enjoying my time cooking and jamming to Miley and Jonas Brothers, when I heard the garage door raise. I could NOT be caught jamming to such an abomination!! I sprinted to my computer, sliding across the wood floor, just in time to click the "Michael Jackson" station as Jeremy strolled in the door. He was thrilled to find me listening to his favorite station, and I got a big kiss and major props for musical good taste. 

I was a faker. 

Later that evening I felt so guilty for deceiving my husband, that I decided I had to confess. As we climbed into the car, I began "Babe, I have to tell you something. But you have to promise not to think less of me, ok?" A look of slight panic and worry spread across Jeremy's face..... "When you came home earlier, I wasn't really listening to Michael Jackson. I changed it so you wouldn't catch me"..... long pause before I gathered the guts..... "listening to my Miley Cyrus station!!" 

Jeremy laughed so hard he didn't speak for 5 minutes.

So now it's out in the open. I kinda like Miley Cyrus. Just had to write a confession to get it off my chest. 

Don't judge too harshly ;) 

Monday, October 5, 2009


I really need to be grading papers. Like really, really, REALLY (ya, 3 reallys) need to be grading right at this moment. But I've had a thought running through my mind that I feel compelled to share, so I will spare 5 minutes :)

My mind is very musical. This is both a blessing and a curse, because I don't think I'm ever awake without a song in my head. The curse comes in when an absurd song like MC Hammer's "You Can't Touch This" rules my brain for DAYS. The blessing is when something like this happens.

My brain has been playing Ingrid Michaelson's "Breakable" on repeat for a while. Excuse the graphic-ness, but these are the lyrics tumbling around in my brain:

"Have you ever thought about
What protects our hearts?
Just a cage of rib bones
And other various parts.
So it's fairly simple
To cut right through the mess,
And to stop the muscle
That makes us confess.

And we are so fragile
And our cracking bones make noise
And we are just
Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys..."

This skips my mind to Psalm 103... "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more."

Funny thing is I think about this more than I think is normal. I can't help it, I study anatomy. It baffles me that anyone can study the intricacies of our bodies and doubt that there is not only a creative designer of it all, but One who actively continues to make us function!

They say you should never buy washing machines with the fancy computerized buttons, because they're so complicated something's bound to go wrong soon, and it'll cost a bundle to fix it. Instead you're better off with grandma's old crank-the-dial washer, because it's simple and solid as a rock. Our bodies are more complex than millions of expensive-computer-washing-machines put together. Why don't things go wrong more? Why don't hearts stop beating more often when there's so little to protect them? What keeps us from just falling apart at the seams?

This has been mulling in my mind.... breakable...breakable...breakable girls and boys....

I woke up this morning genuinely thankful that the Lord allowed me to keep breathing through the night. Today I'm keenly aware that the only reason my lungs still fill is because He continuously wills them too. My heart still beats because he breathes into it. And for a purpose. He breathes into me for Him. How do I miss this so often?

Tonight the house is quiet - Jeremy's working late and the dog is at my sister's - yet I can hear a complex symphony in the silence. My heart beats rhythmically because it's still in my chest. My lungs fill and empty because the air is still allowed in. My soul flutters and dances and sings a beautiful melody for my Creator and King, because I can't leave out the rest of the verse:

"But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments."

Breakable...breakable...breakable girls and boys.... Saved from perishing for a purpose.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When God sends blessings through US Post -thy mailbox runneth over

We received our fourteenth anonymous letter in the past six weeks today. We don't know who or where they're from. They have our names and address as the return address - everything is computer-printed. We are baffled. Each letter contains a Target gift card. The letters are funny, sweet, cute, quirky - you name it. These people are undoubtedly creative - and incredibly loving.

We intended to hit marriage with our feet on the ground, but as we're quickly learning, life and circumstances sometimes have other plans. Immediately after the honeymoon, we hit one financial roadblock after another and finally realized there was no way we could make ends meet on our own. We have been absolutely blown away by how the Lord has provided for us. When we didn't know how a bill was going to be paid - money showed up. When we weren't sure how we were going to pay for school - we were able to obtain a low-interest loan. When we were positive we'd have to eat ramen noodles for months - Target cards started appearing in our mailbox.

I am thankful for these tight times - the times we have to scrimp. I love that we have to supplement our meals with squash from our surprisingly superfluous squash plant and deer meat from Dad. I love that we can't afford cable, so we talk to fill the silence. I love that we can't eat out, so we cook together. I love that a meager bank balance means we learn to communicate now about our money (i.e. "Honey do we have enough for me to buy a pack of gum today?") We are so very blessed.

It's been humbling to have to admit that we are dependent when we'd planned on being self-sufficient "adults". One day soon we'll have our feet underneath us, and somewhere along the way we may do well financially. If we do, I will think back on the blessings we received in this season and bless others. But I pray that we'll never think we are completely independent - completely self-sufficient. May we always be in need of the Lord who gave us life and who continually blesses us.

Wedding Photos!

We finally have some AMAZING wedding photos to post - compliments of Ryan Ray (

Take a peek!