December 29, 2015

rubix cubes and library books

donald is a very good gift giver. like, really good. i like to think i'm pretty decent myself, but honestly, he's a lot better. it is very rare for him to strike out. but even when he does, he does it well. which brings us to the tale of two christmases.

one summer, before we were married, i went on a mission trip to mexico. on this trip i learned how to solve a rubix cube. what can i say? i'm gifted. when i returned home i wanted to keep up with my new skill, but alas, i did not own a rubix cube. i went to the store to see about getting one but decided not to spend the money. which is exactly how 99% of my trips to the store end. donald, keenly observing my new found interest in the cube and aware of my penny pinching, started scheming. he thought to himself, if shelly would love one rubix cube, how much more will she love ALL THE RUBIX CUBES?!? so when christmas rolled around he excitedly presented me with my gift and i opened not one, not two, but three rubix cubes. the first was the original 3x3 cube. the second was the more challenging 4x4 cube. and the third was a rubix cube tissue box cover he had commissioned a coworker to make just for me.

it's at this point in the story when most female listeners swoon at his thoughtfulness. and i did. i swooned. but at the same time i was wondering what in the world i was going to do with all these cubes! since i can't hide my thoughts very well and donald can read me like a book, he knew something was up. we now know that while gifts is one of his top love languages, that one falls to the bottom of my list. 

i'm more of a quality time girl, so this christmas donald concocted a little adventure and combined two of my favorite things: scavenger hunts and the library. one afternoon he told me he needed to run a few errands and a little while later he called to tell me i should come find him at the library. so i hopped in the car and found him on a library couch with a basket and a book. he handed them over and said 'merry christmas'. inside that first book [snowball fight by jimmy fallon] was a clue, which led me to search the stacks for a book about another of my favorite things [corn]. there was a clue tucked in that one too and i zipped back and forth across the library as fast as i discretely could collecting a big stack of books about all my favorite things. it was awesome and i was smiling so big that my cheeks started hurting.

ultimately we did part ways with the mega cube at a garage sale, but we still have the original rubix cube...and i think that kleenex box cover will now live with us forever as a priceless dyer family treasure.

November 6, 2015

the day baseball shut down the city

let me first say that we are cardinals fans. first and foremost and forever. but as donald would say, the royals are our american league team. and that team has made life a little extra fun the past two seasons.

last year the royals ended a very lengthy stretch of being terrible by surprising everyone with a run all the way to game seven of the world series, and they did it with flair. so many games were won in extra innings and dramatic fashion. it was exciting, it was thrilling and it brought everyone together. people were smiling at each other in grocery stores and high five-ing in gas stations. the whole city was happy. it was a bummer not to win that year, but it didn't make it any less wonderful. and this year, they made it all the way.

the royals won the world series in new york city on a sunday night. the world series victory parade was scheduled for tuesday in kansas city. and i don't think anyone had any idea what was coming.

as cardinals fans, this really wasn't our party. but since we cheer for the royals too i was itching to get in on the excitement. pomp and circumstance has always been my favorite part of sports. early on parade eve i got word that the firm would granting a discretionary holiday on parade day. then donald's school cancelled classes. and the domino effect continued until most of the city had cancelled their tuesday plans in order to celebrate the boys in blue. while the news was covering the specifics of the free shuttles scheduled to take fans to the parade route, we naively made plans to drive down to the river market to park and walk a few blocks to the parade route the next morning.

the parade was scheduled to begin at noon and by 9am our plan was out the window. the highways were gridlocked and the downtown parking lots were already full. the free shuttles and city buses were overwhelmed. the whole city was trying to get downtown. getting anywhere near the parade route seemed hopeless and i was distressed. enter: donald the hero. he suggested we set out on an adventure and just see how far we could get. i'm so glad he did.

our game plan was to avoid the highways at all costs and see how close we could get using only side streets. we debated how many blocks we could realistically walk. [we suburbanites have no frame of reference for such things] we ended up finding free street parking a mere nine blocks from the north end of the parade route. we hoofed it over to davis park and found a lovely viewing spot in front of city hall.

we waved and cheered and got to be part of something way bigger than us. practically everyone in kansas city now has a parade story. some were relaxed and enjoyable like ours, while others were a bit more hectic. but we all made memories. all 800,000 of us. and it was a great day to be royal.

September 24, 2015

our ordinary time

a long, long time ago i was telling a friend what i liked about donald and i distinctly remember that one of the things i mentioned was that he did his very favorite things almost every day. if i were to dream up the perfect day or the perfect week it would involve a lot of activities that you just can't realistically insert into everyday life. taking a trip. going to the beach. having a big party with all my far flung friends. dancing. camping. some of my ideas are more accessible than others, but overall most of my activities are pretty lofty. donald on the other hand would list more everyday activities in his perfect day. watching his favorite movies. eating pizza. playing cards. fantasy football. these are things he can [and does] do on a fairly regular basis. i've always admired that about him.

while i definitely still have lofty dreams of a 'perfect day' crammed with as many wonderful things as possible, i think i am getting better at enjoying the little things in the everyday. sometimes it's just a matter of remembering that some of the things i love the most actually can be incorporated in to a regular day. like swimming and jigsaw puzzles and dancing around the living room. 

i haven't blogged as much in the past year or so. there seems to be less 'big flashy things' and more boring grown up full time jobs and a new roof. but it's still a whole heap of wonderful. at church on sunday we were reminded and encouraged to simply enjoy life where we are. throughout life we will all have low seasons of grief and high seasons of great joy. these are both good and they are both gifts from the Lord. but most of our time is spent in the in-between. the regular everyday living.

in the church calendar there is a season called ordinary time. in a very basic explanation, the church year starts with advent. a high season of great hope, peace, joy and love. it's a time filled with laughter and cheer. not long after advent ends, the season of lent begins. this is a somber time of remembering. it's the low. and then of course easter morning brings the celebration of the greatest news of all. it's like a roller coaster of emotions over those four to five months. there are ups and downs. but eventually we enter ordinary time. it's a time to rest for our souls. i feel like this season of our life is our ordinary time. we enjoy each other. we enjoy the time we spend with our family and our friends. we love and enjoy our church. and life is good. we are blessed.

" so i concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. and people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. and i know that whatever God does is final. nothing can be added or taken from it. God's purpose is that people should fear him."  [ecclesiastes 3:12-14]

July 30, 2015

the ardyer olympics

because the ardens have been coming to the midwest with such frequency the past few years, i was long overdue for a trip to see them. this was my first visit to their very own house, and i am now able to again say that i have visited them in every place they've ever lived. right after landing in sunny california we went straight from the airport to in-n-out. because of course we did. it's what we do. and spoiler alert: we stopped on our way back to the airport too.

after getting the grand house tour we settled in for a couple days of just hanging out together. which led to playing games. which led to the inaugural ardyer olympics. this is where one team [shelly, tara & sophia] competes against the other team [donald, matt & tori] in a variety of events over the course of our stay. the first official event was guesstures, which was also one of the most hilarious. there were also many other thrilling events like bocce ball, just dance and softball in the park.

as is our tradition during my visits, we also went on an out of town adventure. this time it was a day trip for a hike through muir woods and an afternoon in san francisco. we hit up the golden gate bridge and did a drive by of the full house house. we also rented a surrey bike for a ride through golden gate park. after our big loop of the park we ended up with some time to spare on our rental so we figured we should add an olympic event to our day in the form of surrey bike racing. we all came out in one piece so that's a win for everyone.

on our late night drive home tara had her heart set on stopping at a dutch bros. coffee because she'd heard such great things. siri helped us find one not too far off our route, but just as we turned into the parking lot they switched off the lights. it was so sad. and hilarious. so after spending saturday recovering from our busy day and lamenting the loss of a dutch bros. opportunity, we made the short trip to chico on sunday for not one, but two stops at dutch bros. we managed to fill up a punch card in a matter of hours. it was probably a world record.

we had a great visit and we're always thankful to get to spend time with our favorite ardens!

July 1, 2015

storms, star wars and summer

friday morning i rolled over in bed and noticed donald looking at me intently as if he wanted me to wake up.  i mumbled some incoherent jargon questioning why in the world he would be waking me up at the crack of 9:30 in the morning.  and then we had this conversation:

d: i think the power is still out.

s: okay.  did it storm?

d: yes, it was very bad.  it looked like a monsoon outside.  i considered waking you up so we could go to the basement.

s: [rolls eyes] i'm sure it wasn't that bad.

fast forward a few minutes.  donald looks out the window and sees that one of our [very large] backyard trees has fallen into the power lines that run parallel to our house and all the lines connecting the pole to our house had been pulled away and were lying in the yard.  i guess there was a storm after all.

this kicked off our already fun filled weekend a little early.  after a bit of sitting around and twiddling our thumbs [what did people do with themselves before the internet] we ventured outside and determined we would not be back on the grid for awhile.  so we packed up dag, along with the contents of our refrigerator, and moved in with biscuit and pep pep.  between that, swapping stories with the neighbors and trying to squeeze in a little homework it was all of a sudden time for jedi nights.

i love our church for a lot of different reasons.  sometimes i like to think lakeland exists because God thought it would be fun to have a church just for people like donald.  the ratio of sci-fi/fantasy movie enthusiast to regular people is surprisingly low.  as you might imagine, the anticipation of the upcoming star wars movie is quite high and out of that came a fun event for kids and parents called jedi nights.  and when lakeland does an event like this, they do it up right.  donald was tapped to be darth vader and i know i am biased, but he stole the show.  the church rented a pretty serious vader costume and that combined with the light saber moves donald has been practicing for a couple decades made for an epic performance.  we did almost lose him to heat exhaustion a couple time [that costume was hot!] but he persevered and the kids totally loved it.

then came saturday and a day of lake fun!  scott and ali were in town so the king's invited a bunch of sbu-ers down for a little reunion.  i had been trying to concoct a plan that did not include driving down and back in a day, but with all the other excitement that's what ended up happening.  we left at 7:30am [yuck] and didn't roll back into raytona until 1am the next morning.  the drive was brutal but the day was awesome!  we spent twelve hours chillin' by the water with our college friends and their twenty six kids.  we took the boat out, swam off the dock, rode jet skis and laid in the sun [well, some of us sat in the shade].  it was good times.

by sunday i felt like a walking zombie but it was totally worth it.  our tree is still lying in its sad, mangled state but thankfully we hopped back on the power grid sunday afternoon.

June 22, 2015

the struggle is real

ah...nursing school.  such an elusive little thing.

donald has worked on the psych unit at ku med ever since he graduated from sbu. he likes it and he's good at it. [like, really good at it] the trick is that there is really only one position you can hold in a hospital with a psychology degree and he already has it. so in order for it to make sense for him to stay there forever, which he would love, the most logical option is for him to become a nurse.

nursing school was already on our radar when we were engaged, and we knew it would be a future goal for our family. however in my naiveté i thought we'd be wrapping things up in the school department by about year three of our marriage. donald didn't want to jump right into school during our few months of marriage, but i figured he'd just need a year of pre reqs and then a year or so at an accelerated program and we'd call it a day. that was so cute of me.

what i have learned is that attempting to complete nursing school as a non-traditional adult student is like trying to lick your elbow. it's nearly impossible.

here are some examples:

after spending two months incessantly attempting to get ahold of the supervisor of the nursing program to discuss donald's transcript were were finally informed that donald, who has a bachelors degree in psychology and has worked in the psychology field for ten years, needed to take psychology 101 before he could submit his application to the nursing program. this information was very conveniently shared 48 hours after the cutoff for enrolling in summer classes. so that was fun.

and while we're on the subject of silly, freshmen level pre-reqs...we both thought college algebra was going to kill us dead. it did not. but it was close.

then this one is my favorite [so far]. without going into all the specifics, as soon as donald finishes his rn program he'll need to begin a bsn bridge program right away. our track record being what it is, we decided to be as proactive as possible and once he was accepted into an rn program we turned our sights to the bsn bridge to see if we could get a jump on things. 

to back up, going into this whole thing there were two classes donald did not ever want to have to take again...speech and statistics.  the bsn program needed a stats pre-req and there was a question as to whether they would accept the credit he had from sbu.  so there was this exchange:

monday @ 2:12pm : your stats class won't transfer, you'll need to take it again .

[panic. sorrow. gnashing of teeth.]

monday @ 2:18pm : your stats class is fine, you don't need to take it again.

[relief. hesitant celebration.]

wednesday afternoon : we can't accept your stats, you'll need to take it again.

[confusion. defeat.]

later wednesday afternoon: oh, i remember talking to you!  you're fine.  you don't need to take stats again.

[blank stares.]

i'm sure that one day [i'd like to say five years, but i think ten is the safer bet] we will look back, laugh, and think it really didn't take that long after all. today is not that day, but i'm doing my best to just enjoy the ride.

March 16, 2015

eat like you mean it

our spring break adventure was a seven day caribbean cruise with my mom, donald and i. while the ports are great and all, i honestly have to say we were mostly there for the 24/7 food [and i was also in it for the sunshine, though not everyone shared that sentiment]. some friends of ours recently went on a 'love like you mean it' marriage cruise, so it obviously made sense for us to name our voyage the 'eat like you mean it' cruise.  our days at sea looked a little something like this:

  • wake up
  • eat breakfast
  • attend trivia activity
  • grab a snack
  • find a comfy chair/bed in the quiet zone and lay in the sun [one of us did not participate in this activity]
  • eat lunch
  • attend trivia activity
  • grab a snack
  • lay in the sun and take a dip in the adult only pool [see note above]
  • get ready for dinner
  • eat a three [or four or five] course dinner
  • go to a show or watch an outdoor movie
  • eat second dinner [always heavily revolving around nutella crepes]
  • play cards [specifically mastering the art of three handed canasta]
  • go to sleep
i’d like to say this list is exaggerated, but that would be lying. we did meander off the ship a bit when we were in port. donald stuck with me for an adventurous climb up dunn’s river falls in jamaica, and he also loving endured a day at the beach in grand cayman…i was in my happy place strolling the beach and floating in my tube, he and my mom were under an umbrella in their beach chairs. 

we spent an extra night in miami on our way back home and i managed to coerce my two compadres into accompanying me on one last outing. we requested our first ever uber, rode over to south beach, ate some delicious burgers from the shake shack and strolled to the beach for one last chance to get my feet in the water and sand between my toes.  [full disclosure: they later both admitted to enjoying the excursion]

February 10, 2015

the eateries of raytona beach

while driving down 350 the other day donald decided that as a lifelong resident of his beloved raytona, he should make it his personal mission to visit every dining establishment this fine town has to offer. we figured he must have a pretty good head start from his first thirty eight years, specifically in the pizza and fast food categories.

when we got home we set up shop on the couch and got our google on. first we mapped out the boundaries based on the raytown city limits, and then proceeded to list and categorize all the options. we left no stone unturned and ended up with a total of 54. in the midst of our searching we discovered that las chilis, a long standing mexican restaurant, is actually known for their cheeseburgers. i know. it's weird. but we were pretty excited to check them out and don senior was kind enough to oblige. so the three of us went to a mexican restaurant and we all ordered cheeseburgers. and they were delicious.

honestly we don't eat out much unless it's initiated by friends or family, so it may take us awhile to get through the list. or i may get wild and crazy and create a special envelope just for the eateries of raytona beach.

January 26, 2015

anniversary number two

for the second birthday of our marriage we kept with tradition and opted for one of the fancier establishments on our 'fried chicken of kansas city' list. i wanted to figure out a way to make it feel like date night as opposed to just a dinner out so i pulled up a list of fun date questions i had recently come across and we started in. we predicted each others answers to some of the questions, but we both learned some new things too. we were only two thirds of the way through the list when we finished our chicken, so we scouted out a swanky coffee shop to hang out in while we finished up the list. it was a really fun date with my very favorite husband!

January 14, 2015

the dark sides

we all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies. sometimes these peculiar behaviors of ours even start to rub off on the people around us. specifically the people we live with. this happened to us.

donald has this one particular trait that seems to rub off on his roommates without fail. that would be his sleeping pattern. the one similar to that of a bat. to be fair, he has worked the evening shift faithfully for over ten years, so i can't say that i blame him for his tendency to go to bed just before the sun rises. his roommates over the years have had normal people schedules, but that doesn't seem to matter. slowly but surely, he brought them over to the dark side one by one. this usually resulted in everyone who lived with him being sleep deprived, but they also amassed a large collection of movie watching and video game playing i suppose it evens out.  

now i have never been accused of being a morning person, but before getting married i was typically in bed by eleven and sleeping in usually meant nine. not so much anymore. i won't disclose our wake up times here because it makes us sound lazy and i'm not trying to make anyone jealous. but let's just say, i've stepped over to the dark side as well.

it will come as a surprise to no one that one of my delightful qualities is my inability to spend money quickly. or you could call it my innate ability to hold onto money for as long as possible. that sounds better. either way, cash certainly does not burn a hole in my pocket. 

prior to marriage, donald was a bit of the opposite. he loves trinkets, obscure snack foods, and any random thing at walmart he thinks might get a laugh out of someone someday. he also has a soft spot for electronics, namely televisions and smart phones. so when we got married we put some of our monetary gifts into a special tv fund, just for him.

fast forward almost two years. that's right...two years, and we're still watching the old television.  to be fair, donald had his eye on a couple of options that were slightly out of our current price range, so he used the first year to add a little bit more to the tv fund. but then, nothing. he googled. he browsed. he watched the sales. but he just couldn't pull the trigger. at this point i was actually encouraging him to just spend the money and get the tv already! in a recent television conversation he turned to me and said "i don't know how you did it. i don't know what's wrong with me. how did you turn me into you?" i just smiled. he had arrived on the dark side.

there is a glimmer of hope for him though. after giving myself a pep talk, i tagged along as donald picked out his beloved new tv and now i have a very happy husband.

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