Good Friends, Good Music, Good Times

This weekend was a good one. We were able to catch up with friends, see one of our favorite bands preform and eat ourselves silly at the Orange County Fair; yeah, it was pretty awesome!

On Saturday night we put June in the car, drove down to the Irvine Spectrum and met up with our friends Jim, Kevin, and Gigi's sister Kat to listen to one of our favorite bands, PawnShop Kings, perform. As always they put on a great show and since it was Kevin's first show, they found themselves a new fan.

and we got ice cream too....

On Sunday we went to the early church service and then met up with our friends Brian and Jana and their son Hunter to go to the fair. None of us are really all that excited about the rides so we just walked around, looked at the exhibits, ate ourselves silly, went to the pig races, played with Hunter, and just all around had a good time.

Jana braved the newest fair food - the Crispy Cream Chicken Sandwich

and Brian had to have the giant turkey leg.

Hunter wasn't totally sure at first.

But he quickly warmed up to the idea.

Gigi got caught up in the excitement and had to have some meat on a stick.

Then it was off to the pig races!

Rounding out the day with good times, carnival games and good friends

And now for obligatory "cute kid in hat that's too big" pictures...

Thank you everyone for such a great weekend! Let's do it again soon!!!


oh my gosh, are you okay?

we bought a small portion of a cow at costco last week. last night was going to be THE NIGHT we threw that sucker on the grill, however, i was well aware we'd likely cook it, eat a tiny peice of it, refrigerate it, and find it again, covered in not-cow-but-rather-fungus-of-some-sort about 3 weeks later.

no, that has never happened before.

i called my mom and sister to see if they wanted to help us put a bigger dent in it. granted, it was 6:15 and dinner would be ready by 7, but i thought i'd throw it out there. mom picked up the phone and told me she was about to start a mentor class at church, and couldn't make it. bummer, but fully expected. all good. mom asks me how things are going, then immediately tunes out as i start to respond, only to say to the woman in the background, "oh, we're starting?--baby, i gotta go. okay? okay. bye. bye. bye." -click- "um, okay. bye, mom."

instead of cow, we cooked chicken (in corona and lime) and macaroni and cheese (homemade, whaaaaaat!). it was DE-LICOUS.

mom calls me back at 9. "sweetie? hi. are, are, are you okay?" i answer that i'm fine, and ask her why. "i was just wondering if you'd eaten." BLESS HER HEART. um, yes, i'd eaten. i know i'm only a few years out of the house, and i know i call her now more often that i ever did in college, but she seemingly thought i might have panicked SO MUCH when she hung up on me that i just COULD NOT POSSIBLY EAT DINNER THAT NIGHT, and that she should check on me. :-) uhm, no, not the case, in fact, i married a man that has made me well aware he needs to eat. often. and not even being hung up on by my mom would stop us from dinner.

she always tells me i'll forever be her baby girl. she reminds me by caring so much. even when its so funny that it's cute. (love you, momma. xoxo)

self image

josh often talks (in a girl voice, mind you) FOR june. i especially like it because i feel like i really have another girl in the house that understands me. because there are days that josh obviously doesn't. i won't go there, though. that type of day hasn't happened since, well, yesterday.

josh: you got a little scared trying to squeeze between the chair and the fake plant, didn't ya, june?

june: yeah, dad, i thought i was too faaaaat.

josh: you're not fat, june, you're just big boned.

seriously, honey, you're gonna give her a complex. sheesh.


HGTV Ruined My Life

My wife is addicted to ALL of the shows on HGTV; every single one of them. After getting married, my DVR went from being filled with shows like Rescue Me, LOST, Fringe, and the occasional sports documentary or History Channel special I found interesting, to being filled with shows like House Hunters, Color Splash, My First Place, and the latest, Design Star. Each of the HGTV shows is a variation of either buying a new house or condo, or renovating a current space. Luckily, my wife is extremely settled in our place and never wants to move or change a thing about the way our house looks. (Insert THICK sarcasm here.)

Probably at least once a week I hear about how we need to paint the walls, rearrange furniture, or tear down a wall in our two bedroom condo to open the kitchen to the living room. Most of the time we go for a long walk with June and talk about all the reason we should or shouldn’t do any of these things and by the time we are back home (plus or minus an evening of me pushing the sofa to various areas of our 15 foot living room) we realize that we have things pretty well figured out and changes aren’t necessary right now. We should probably just wait until we purchase our next home and then we can do all the things we’ve wanted to do to a house.

Yesterday we hung out with my folks for the afternoon. We went with them to their new house and gave them our input on some of the decisions they are making in their new house. Then Gigi and I walked through a few of the model homes and talked about what we want in our next place and then we went to Room and Board in Costa Mesa to look at a few of the furniture pieces they were planning on putting in their house. It’s official; my life has turned into every show on HGTV.

After we got home last night we kept looking at the Room and Board catalog dreaming of stuff we could do to our house. Then we watched not one, but two episodes of Design Star. The final words my wife said to me before she turned over and went to sleep were, “I think we should use the Rothko painting in the dining room as inspiration for the rest of that space.” I am pretty sure that I had dreams of designing houses last night. This morning I can’t stop thinking of different ideas that we can do to our living room/dining room areas. Crap, I’m getting into this. Luckily there will probably be a few new tools involved.

It’s a good thing we both like DIY projects and enjoy spending time together, otherwise this could get ugly. Thank you HGTV for making me constantly insecure about the way my house looks and giving me a man-crush on David Bromstad, you have officially ruined my life.


Freedom: A Short Story

It’s dark out. Without even opening my eyes I can tell that much. Any other day the darkness would be unwelcome. Not today. Today it means freedom. I slowly crawl from the dark and narrow space I’ve been confined to for the last 8 or so hours and begin preparing myself for what lies ahead. I know today won’t be easy. I managed to sleep most of the night despite the cold air and the lack of proper sleeping arrangements. I rub my eyes and try to take in my surroundings. As far as I can see, in all directions: dirt, cacti, mountains and a seemingly endless sky. The thought runs through my mind briefly, “I wonder if anyone could hear me scream right now?” I tell myself not to think about such things and begin to prepare for the day. The sun will be up shortly; I need to get going. I clean up my temporary home and begin walking. “Keep moving,” I tell myself. “It won’t be long now. Just keep walking.”

This is my third day out here and I’m tired. For the first two days it was pretty easy to keep going. Now, after two cooler than normal nights and warmer than normal days, my body is bruised, my hands and feet hurt, I long for shower and an indoor place to sleep and am getting wicked hungry. I keep telling myself I can endure another day of this; another week if I had to. I was quick to leave where I came from and didn’t bring much with me. I knew I would meet up with someone in a day or two. I was sure of it. I was able to grab a few things before I left. My inventory consists of an extra pair of shoes that are too small (but have been a Godsend many times), a large piece of covered foam I’ve been able to wear as a backpack while I walk and sleep on at night, a small bag with a drawstring that carries a toothbrush, a bottle of water, a few strips of beef jerky, a light jacket to protect me from the wind during the day and to use as a small blanket to keep me covered at night. I knew when I left I would need to travel lightly or I would never make it.

The sun starts spilling over the mountain to my left. As desolate as this place is, and as tired as I am, I can’t help but notice its beauty. I have never seen such colors before. The light dances across the desert and all at once this barren field comes alive with beauty. Each of the last two mornings has amazed me with the spectacular spectacle of the sunrise. Its beauty has made this trek a little more bearable. I stop and stare at the ever changing landscape as the morning light hits my face. The warmth is welcomed for the moment. It won’t be long before I will want to escape from it.

“Just keep walking. It can’t be much farther.” I have to keep motivated or I’ll never make it. I just need to reach that large rock on the horizon and I can rest for a while. It seems like a million miles away. I take a sip of the water I have left. It feels like silk against my dry lips. I’ve rationed what I have left to get me as far as I can go. It would be deadly to drink it all now. I’ll save what’s left of the jerky until I can rest. I tuck the water between my foam pad backpack and my neck. It’s still cold from last night and acts as a great cooling system for my body. I daydream of sitting on the beach with an ice cold beer for a moment. I can almost taste it. “The rock is getting closer, don’t lose your pace now.” I come back to reality and concentrate on my walking. The rock that seemed so large from so far away is becoming more monstrous the closer I get. It looks as if God was playing Jenga and didn’t clean up after it toppled. The rocks seemed precariously perched, yet incredibly stable. I’ve seen others like it on my two day trek, but this one seems particularly terrific. There is a large middle section that is perfectly stacked; one on top of the other. All around are piles of rocks that lean against and support this enormous tower. I hope I can find a small place to sit and rest for a while.

The sun has been up for an hour or so now; the warmth I once welcomed, I now wish would go away. The rock I’ve been admiring is now about 100 steps away. I can’t wait to find a nice cold rock to lie on and get out of this sun for a bit. I walk around the base of the tower and find a small alcove where the sun hasn’t yet touched. As I crawl down into it I find an empty beer bottle. “At least someone else has been here before.” Yesterday I found a Wheat Thins box; it has been a great motivator. I lay as far down into the alcove as I can and lay the foam pad along the ledge above me to keep the sun out as it moves across the sky. “I’ve made it.” I take a bite of the jerky and take another sip of water and close my eyes to rest.

I awake sometime later to the sound of footsteps on the loose gravel outside. I don’t want to make a noise. They sound like they are getting closer, or maybe it’s just my imagination. I see a shadow from around the edges of the pad, but the sun is still pretty low and I can’t make out what it is, but it IS getting closer. Two days across this desert without seeing anything else alive so I am just hoping it’s friendly… and scared to death it’s not. The footsteps stop right on the other side of my foam shield. Then… a knock, and a voice, “Dude, are you in there?” I throw the pad to the side and crawl out. “Holy shit, dude! You scared the crap outta me! Thank God you made it. I was worried I was going to be out here forever on my own!” My climbing partner showed up right on time. We arranged to meet here three days ago but without a watch I didn’t know what time to expect him. We walk together to his truck and I suck down what feels like a gallon of water. He had been there for a while already. “I saw you sleeping about 30 minutes ago and by the dirt on your face I could tell you needed a good nap, so I let you sleep. I’ve got the ropes and gear ready to go. Drink up and grab a donut on the front seat. Just let me know when you are ready to climb this beast.” He knows exactly what I want after two days hiking through the desert. I devour the donut and drink a ton of water he brought for me and I feel like a hundred bucks all over again. He tosses me a hat and a pair of sunglasses; I give him a brief nod, slip on my climbing shoes and my chalk bag and let him know I’m ready. We walk together to the base of the large rock that had been my destination during my trip, rope connected between us and protective gear strewn about. I watch as he starts climbing up this amazing rock formation and can’t help but smile and think to myself, “There is no place I would rather be than right here, in the middle of nowhere.”



last october, josh and i took a week off and drove to colorado to visit our friends, kristy and jj, and their lovely kids, braylon and jaxten. since then, the two of them have been blessed with another little one--a precious girl this time--taytum faith. how old are they, you ask? well, 5 months, 19 months, and 3 years. yes, three kids under three. all at once.

i've known kristy since our early days of high school. she was that total hot surfer girl that all the boys went crazy over. don't get me wrong, she's not the girl other girls often despise--she didn't MAKE the boys go crazy--they just did. it was natural! as a matter of fact, you couldn't help but love how much she DIDN'T care that her hair was knotty and full of sand and that she hadn't showered in a day or 3, because it was funny and light hearted, and so is she. but messy hair or not, this girl is drop dead gorgeous.

some 3 years after high school, this wacky, life-loving friend of mine, kristy, stumbled upon a 6'7" basketball player. now, when i say basketball player, i mean, basketball player. yes, he walked and talked like kobe. yes, he wore gym clothes and carried a basketball under his arm all the time. and yes, he loved every minute of simply being a "basketball player". rightfully so--he was good--really good. and in the midst of his international career, he invited his girlfriend, kristy, to join him for a few weeks in italy. kristy, the biggest home-body i've ever met and the first one to get homesick on our weekend getaways to vegas, nervously accepted. a few months later, she accepted an offer to join him for a few months in mexico. the homesick issue dissipated quickly--she thought the world of this stud, and nothing else mattered.

the phone rang one day while kristy was in mexico. "UHM, HI GEEG, SO...JJ AND I JUST GOT MARRIED!!!" "oh my crapness, kristy, i talked to you 3 days ago and didn't even know you guys were engaged!!!" "yeah, i just found out last night, myself. isn't it amazing?" "why, yes, of course. wow. i mean, WOWWW. that's...great. yes, that's GREAT!!!..." i called our other close friends immediately after hanging up. "guys, this is great, right? shoot. i'm not sure. that was....FAST. hmmm. okay, we're all okay with this. he's a good guy... we can support this, for sure." when jj and kristy returned, we welcomed them, excited about their new venture, but already praying hard that she'd/they'd made a smart decision.

then they got pregnant. and sure enough, 9 months later, a baby came. imagine that!!

then they got pregnant. again. and sure enough, as if it were natural, 9 months later, another baby came... i'm seeing a trend here.

with 2 kids under 2, and a 3 year old marriage, and two young adults that were still learning new things about themselves and each other on a daily basis, kristy and jj pressed on. an international basketball career ended sometime during that time, and jj, at a fork-in-the-road-moment of his life, decided to join the army.

i don't know anyone in the army. i know i drive past camp pendelton every so often hopeful i won't accidentally get run over by a rogue humvee, but that's about as close as i've come to armed forces in my life. oh yeah, i went to an airshow at edwards air force base once. i was 10. so, i hear the news, and of course, i call up my close friends. "guys, is this okay? i mean, i'm scared for them. jj's going to have to wear green and brown camo EVERYDAY. like, is he gonna be okay with that? and you know, what if he gets deployed? can jj and kristy handle this? and the kids???" i couldn't tell kristy how nervous i was. she was in the midst of mentally preparing herself for these next few years of uncertainty, and spiritually preparing herself to support her husband in his every need as they decided to take their family down this unexplored path. but jj had made this decision with a clear head. he needed to support his family, and he wanted to do so in the most honorable way he could think of.

last july, jj and kristy moved to fountain, colorado, just outside fort carson, where jj had been stationed. 5 months ago, baby taytum turned the sola family into a five-some, and 3 months ago jj, dressed in his finest camo and boots that were bigger than his smallest child, waved goodbye to his family as he left for a 13 month deployment to iraq. can you imagine? thankfully, a beautiful little invention called skype allows jj to see his kids grow up on the other side of the computer, but it's obviously not the same. 13 months. the sola's just take it one day at a time. and time will pass. and they'll be together again soon.

i now know someone in the army. i know someone brave. i know someone selfless. i know someone honorable, someone strong. and i know someone who is and continues to grow into a strong man of God. i am beyond words when i try to describe how much he and his sacrifices impress me.

i'm equally impressed by my crazy, funny, loving, sweet friend kristy, as she gives her three kids all her love and attention day after day, and as she remains the strong and loyal rock that jj yearns to come home to.

kristy spent the early part of summer here in orange county, and just this week, started the same trek josh and i did last october to return home to colorado with her three kids. they get to see jj for 2 weeks in another 3 or 4 months, as he takes his leave.

this family has been on my mind and in my prayers for weeks now, as my heart is humbled by their story, their hard times, their good times, their strengthand faith found in the Lord, and their beautiful attitudes of gratitude. may they know we love and admire them. and when i say we, i mean more than just josh and i.

jj, thank you for your service and your sacrifice. kristy, thank you for your friendship. bray, jaxy, and tater tot, thank you for the simply joys you bring to all of us. go solafamfam!!

and how's this for old school?


problem solving

a: do you have a funny taste in your mouth today? from the juice or the pizza last night?

j: no

a: oh. yeah, me neither......

j: what kind of taste?

a: i can't tell. not iron, like when i eat cinnamon toast crunch. more like... aluminum... i think...

j: weird. did you eat a tin can?

a: oh crap, i totally did

j: well there's your problem

a: thanks


a saturday spent in the laundry room...

i. am. an. hgtv. junkie.

i've never tried my hand at design, nor do i have the creativity to pursue anything as artistic as design, but, i did have a large empty laundry room screaming for a little love and attention. this past weekend, i rallied up two of my (sweet, sweet) girlfriends and we managed to squeeze the three of us into a little 7x7 room, along with rollers, brushes, paint trays, ladders, and a washer and dryer.

after a coat of paint, and mini shopping spree at tjmaxx homegoods, i now have a cozy lil' spot in my house to clean clothes. i had a great time with my laundry room make-over and my husband is stoked because he'll have clean drawers-in-his-drawers more often... ;-)

nicole and kym workin' hard--thanks girls!
before and after: the shelf area
before and after: the bare left wall
the finished product. so cozy!


snappy snappy

it's been a while since we've thrown some photos up on the blog, so here are a few snapshots from the surprise birthday cruise josh planned for me. we had a beautiful night--enjoy the pics!


a lost art

my birthday fell on father's day this year. ahem, correction--father's day fell on my birthday this year, thank you very much! in an effort to celebrate the grand feat of having raised my brother, sister and i for the past 25+ years, i made a concious decision to focus sunday's celebrations on my dad. after all, he IS the most incredible dad in the world, and i love the gosh darn heck out of him...

here's to you, dad...! nmw...

josh, being the ever-so-loving-and-thoughtful-guy-of-a-husband he is, thought it was important we still celebrate my birthday. i didn't push back. shocking--i know. fast forward to the following saturday, a 20-minute westward drive with a quick stop for fancy food-to-go, we pulled into newport harbor where we found a duffy boat waiting for us. yup, for US. josh and me. i didn't know you didn't need a captian on those things! better for us--it was PRIVATE. wink wink.

anywho, josh had planned the boat, the dinner, and obviously the drink selection, because he pulled 2 bottles of my favorite cabernet out of his backpack, along with (plastic) wine glasses and a bottle opener. because that's how we roll :-) i was SO IMPRESSED by his thoughtfulness, and i absolutely adored the surprise factor of it all, but it was what he popped into the cd player on the boat that really stole my heart. leave it up to josh, he made me a MIX TAPE for my birthday boat ride. I LOVE HIM!! :-)

josh is album centric. if you know him at all, or have done a decent job of keeping up with his blog posts, you'll know he is not a "shuffle songs" kind of guy. no way. because that entirely negates any effort put forth by an artist to consciously arrange their music as they wanted it to be heard--as a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. therefore, i can only imagine what a struggle it must have been for him to put multiple songs and artists on one disc, visciously tearing them away from the cozy, assigned spots on thier respective albums. it must have been heart wrenching.

unless.................. unless this was josh's way of creating his own album. and btw, whether it's true or not, this is the story i'm going with. because it's my birthday. and i can.

josh has a library of over 85 days worth of music. 85 DAYS OF MUSIC. we could be stranded on an island together for 2 full months plus a february, eating maggots and drinking salt water, and as long as we had his ipod (and a charger... oh, and speakers, too...) we'd be able to dance to a different song the whole time we were there. it's almost stupid...but it's mostly cute. :-) it also comes in handy when i'm ready for an ipod mix change. i just love that he sat down and intentionally pulled 16 different songs from 16 different albums and 16 different artists and placed them all side by side onto one, single cd. these were 16 carefully chosen songs that made him think of us as a couple, as a family, and as two crazies that love to have a good time. he thought about what songs we'd enjoy on a birthday boat ride at sunset down newport harbor over dinner and drinks, on a night full of cuddling and day dreaming :-) this mix tape was a piece of art--it was wonderful, and it melted my heart. i (un)secretly hope for another one someday (honey...) ;-)

here are a few of my favorite lyrics from the disc, for your artful reading pleasure.

...sailing around the world, please know that i'm yours to keep, my beautiful girl...

...but there ain't nobody that can sing like me, ain't nobody that can sing like me, way over yonder in the minor key....

...that i am, i am, i am the luckiest...

...i wonder everyday as i look upon your face, everything you gave and nothing you would take...

...and then when we get to the ocean, we're gonna take a boat to the end of the world...

...you and me together, we can do anything, baby, you and me together, yes, yes...

...watchin' the fire as we grow...

...ahhhuhh, ahhhuh, ahhhhhuhh...

...happy birthday, beautiful...

look for some of the birthday mix songs on our blog playlist, soon!