Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Christmas: Draw a Name, Gain a Friendship

I love people. I love spending time with people, and I love getting to know people. Sure, sometimes when it's too crowded or too loud (mainly a lot of girl squealing) I get overwhelmed; but at the core of it, I would rather spend time with people than spend time with just myself.

So how does that figure in to Christmas?

Because to me Christmas is so much more than just getting a lot of presents we want (i think of it as a time to celebrate Christ and the friends and family He has blessed me with), when i do get someone a gift, i try to spend extra time looking for a present that reminds me of the gift-receiver. This isn't because I like to prove what a great gift-giver I am; it's because it forces me to put my love and friendship with that person to the forefront of my thoughts.

When someone receives a gift, they don't (i hope) judge it by how much money you spent, or how big it is; they are happier when they can tell you really thought of them and know them. Your attention to that person is often reflected in the gift you get them (which is probably why fruitcake, fruit baskets, and ties don't go over as well as we plan).

This Christmas I have come up with a plan to take the idea, of focusing on your friendship/relationship instead of the gift itself, to a new level.

I have never really liked white elephant gifts, and the whole drawing someone's name and focusing on gifts for them is a neat idea; but what if we were to use the drawing to build community?

This year i propose that everyone gather a group of friends (think a larger group or a home church... or a small church) and have a name drawing.

Everyone draws one name.

Yes, at the end of it you will get that person a small present that reminds you of them, BUT you must get to know the person whose name you have drawn better before you buy them a gift.

When you draw you must decide if you know that person really well already (and want to draw for someone else) because the main idea is to get to know someone better that you only kind of knew before. You can either hang out one on one (like over coffee), or you can hang out in a group and just focus on getting to know that person more (this is in case you feel awkward meeting up with the opposite sex in the one-on-one manner).

Remember, you don't have to make it a very big gift (in fact small gifts might be even more fun of a challenge). The hope is that, since everyone will be drawing one name, you will step into the new year with 2 more friends and an even stronger community.

Let me know what you think, if you'd like to take part, and if you do try this, how it turned out.

happy loving-on-one-another season!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Fun!

Fall is our favorite time of year! It starts to cool down (dear Texas, we are still waiting for this to happen), oranges and yellows start to take over decorations, and everything seems softer and cozier. Since we have had such a whirl-wind of a Fall so far, here is just a little photo wrap-up of our activities.

One of the best parts of the Fall: Denver Patrick Hines was born to our dear friends Caitlin and Austin Hines. Such a precious little boy! I encourage everyone to read Caitlin's blog at

For our 1 year anniversary (yes, it's already been that long!), Jayson and I drove down to Austin for a visit and a Blind Pilot concert. The Blind Pilot concert was amazing, as always!! Their new stuff is great, and I can't wait for it to come out. It was my 7th time to see them in a little over a year and a half.

Flowers Jayson had waiting for me in our hotel room (later he dropped that wine bottle on our drive way; so we never got to drink any of it)

If you know me, you know i LOVE Sandy Bullock (yes, I call her Sandy because i'm sure we would be friends). Jayson took me to both of her restaurants in Austin.

First stop, Walton's Fancy and Staple where I had delicious Whoopie Pie and a Chai Tea Latte.

Next day, Bess Bistro. They had a cute booth set aside for us, Jayson had surprise flowers for me, and then, they gave us free champagne in celebration of our anniversary!!

On our actual anniversary day, we stopped at a vineyard on the way home. We tried a lot of delicious wine (and even picked up a couple of bottles for Thanksgiving).

This is the view from their patio. Beautiful day!

Our cake top, 1 year later. Still delicious, just a little dry. (come on, admit it. who's jealous of how much cake we had left over!?!)

We took Adler to the dog park for the first time! She loved it, and she made a new best friend.

Jayson totally got her with those bunny ears.

Our friends Karen & Joshua got married on October 16th!! Long before the wedding, I had the privileged of hosting a shower for Karen at our house (50's house-wife theme). Here are a couple of pictures from the set-up.

And this is from the wedding! Jayson was a groomsman (wearing a vest and really tight pants)

Here are some of my favorite pictures of our Fall activities and Fall around our house!

We went to a pumpkin farm and went through a corn-maze! We made it out in just under 10 minutes!! (believe me... that is good time!)

Good prices, and pretty pumpkins!

This picture just makes me feel warm and happy on the inside.

My mother-in-law made this beautiful wreath for our front door. I love it because it's so welcoming.

The dollar bin at Target has the best decorations for fall. This gel clings are only $1!

My Fall table setting.

Our neighborhood cat. We call her flat-face.

This is how Adler spends most of her time, when we sit out front with Flat-Face.

Pumpkin carving is one of our favorite Halloween activities! Unfortunately, we've had bad luck the past two years; and our pumpkin collapses almost immediately. This was Adler's first year seeing a pumpkin, and she loved it!

Here she is peering over Jayson's shoulder trying to figure out what's going on.

Our finished pumpkin before it collapsed!

My brother and family came into town, and we all went to Dallas Fan Days. We saw William Shatner, Christopher Lloyd, and the kid that played Draco Malfoy! Here is a picture of my bro getting Christopher Llyod's autograph!

For our Halloween celebrations, Jayson and I came up with our costumes the best way: last minute. We used a lot of stuff we already owned (almost everything of Jayson's was stuff we already owned), and then we ran around town for a couple of hours to find the last few items.

I'm Greta from Chuck (interchanging CIA agent at the Buy More/Nerd Herd) and Jayson is Scott Pilgrim!

My home-made Nerd Herd name tag

Finished product. Real tough.

Thanks for keeping up with the Hamiltons!

And a little sneak preview, next blog I write will have some big news in it (no I'm not pregnant and hopefully I won't be for a LOOOOONNNG time). Still, it will be life-changing news. We just have to tell everyone in person before I blog about it. You understand, right? Thanks!

Praising God for the blessing that is Fall, family and friends,

Friday, September 3, 2010

dog owners vs. DOG OWNERS

Confession: I love my dog. She is a fantastic dog. Neurotic? yes, after all... she is MY dog (this is where Jayson steps in to protest she is "our" dog).

But since owning Adler, we have discovered there is a difference between your average dog owner and your DOG OWNER.

Now, I'm not just talking about the advice giver. Almost any dog owner you'll find can be an advice giver... even the creepy ones. Adler, being as pretty as she is, is often surrounded by people (making her cower in the corner) who tell us exactly how to get her over this. Though there are some that just stare at her, saying over and over "man, i've never seen a dog so scared of humans before," most people just ask us, "have you taken her to the dog park yet!?"

DOG OWNERS have a little something special added to the mix. The feeling radiating from them that this dog is all that they're living for (yes, i know this is sad and feel for these people; but i'm going to make fun of them first)

The almost DOG OWNER (more of a dog owner) spends hundreds of dollars every month on the most organic, and the closest to raw, food. Yes, obsessive; but the DOG OWNER skips over the dog food, and just fixes another plate of their food for the dog.

ex. We had the joy of running into one PetsMart worker who insisted that we start making Adler taco salads and steaks. "Just throw another steak on the grill for her, next time you cook out!" (she then continued to explain exactly HOW to make the taco salad and in what layers to add the ingredients.)

I like to think of us as more dog owners that love our dog and want her to be healthy (so we can keep vet bills down). We buy her healthy food, which is a little more expensive; but hopefully, worth it. She really likes the food too; so i think for now we are safe from fixing an extra helping of Chicken Kiev for her enjoyment (not that i actually make Chicken Kiev for us...)

The everyday dog lover, slowly approaches a dog with their hand outstretched (which by the way doesn't work with Adler... she's more of "i'll sit and take the pet and be nervous about it" type of dog); but the DOG OWNER gives me one of my favorite stories, and the reason that I am writing this post.

Tonight, we decided to take Adler to the First Friday on the Green (a local charity event inviting people to come out, listen to music under the stars, and buy food where the proceeds go to a charity for that month). This was a big undertaking because Adler was in a shelter for the first year of her life, and she is still learning to trust people. We've taken her to several places and socialized her quite a bit (no, we have not been to the dog park), but this was still a big night because there were hundreds of people out.

She did really well, and we decided it was probably time to go home. Don't worry though, on our way out we were found by the strangest man in the crowd (the very one who, earlier, walked by and offered his dog some of our dog's water). Sweet dog, crazy man.

Approaching Adler, anyone can tell she is shy. After pointing this out, he did something that officially pointed him out to be a true DOG OWNER. He explained to us that dogs can get scared if they see a person waving their arms about (he showed us by proceeding to do 'the robot'); so we should instruct people to back their bottoms into our dog's snout so she will feel more comfortable around them. He then proceeded to back into Adler's face at least two, but i'm pretty sure four, times. The rest of our conversation went on to include "have you taken her to the dog park?" and to Jayson, "sorry my dog peed on your leg. it just happens, you know?" (we're pretty sure it didn't happen, but the jeans are being washed right away... just in case) We soon escaped, but with very important knowledge...

Adler doesn't like it when people back into her face, we won't be allowing (much less telling) our friends to do this to her in the future, and we are definitely not DOG OWNERS.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Almost 11 Months, Where Have I Been?

Sorry little blog, i had to take a break for the summer. Another, more expensive, blog courtesy of the Apple chaps took me away; but alas, i am back.
To catch you up, i'll do a little review:
We have a dog now. Did we have a dog before? She might be my favorite.

Here she is in her most favorite place in the world... our bed. For all wondering, she is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix; and her name is Adler, as in Irene Adler, from Sherlock Holmes.

Since I last wrote we've been New Orleans (BEAUTIFUL!)

and just a couple of weeks ago, we went to Los Angeles to visit our friends! (love it so much more than I used to!)

But most importantly, and most heartbreaking, we had to go home to Arkansas because my pappaw passed away about a month ago.

I don't know if many of you ever heard me tell stories about my pappaw, but he was a person I always admired. He was in WWII; so he had the chance to travel and see the world (which has inspired me to do the same). He always told great stories (luckily Jayson and i were able to tape a few), and he was a very creative man. For much of my life, he had a craft shop behind their house. I would go and visit them and spend what felt like hours (to a little kid) in their watching him create.

At his funeral, Marines honored him with gun fire and the flag folding. It was such a beautiful ceremony, and even more comforting knowing that pappaw had planned it out all himself. The area firemen came out because my pappaw started the fire department in Higginson, AR; and at city hall they lowered the flag to half mast.
The hardest reminder i've had over the last month has been in my own genealogy. I had been telling my pappaw that i was researching our family history. Being such a story-teller himself, he was really excited about it. I promised to bring him the few documents I had found next time I saw him.... I, instead, brought them to my father when I came into town for pappaw's funeral.

Even more, since then, I have traced pappaw's family back and I have even found the family member he always told us about that fought in the Civil War. It brings me heartache that I can't share this with him.

Here is one of my favorite photos of him:

So a lot has happened! Some happy, some sad; but so very thankful that the sad is tinged with joy, knowing that pappaw believed in Christ and is there celebrating with him now!


In honor of this amazing day in history:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

80's Family Sitcom

It's true, this Saturday will make 6 months of marriage for Jayson and me.

That's 6 months of figuring out how to share a bed and blankets, 6 months of learning how to regulate the temperature for both of us, 6 months of sharing household responsibilities AND 6 months of laughing.

We have been super blessed in the fact that we don't fight. We spend too much time laughing to fight, and i guess that is the key for us. But boy, does it confuse the heck out of me! Leading up to marriage all we ever heard (besides "don't go to sleep angry") was how hard the first year of marriage will be. So I've just decided... maybe it doesn't have to be hard; maybe it doesn't have to be full of fights.

Luckily, Jayson and I both over-think things and both have Psych backgrounds. And because of how wonderful and fightless marriage has been for us, it's caused me to think a lot about the cause and preventions of fights. In all my thinking, the one thing I can really say is... maybe we could learn something from those 80's family sitcoms.

Remember the 80's? You turned on a show, there was a disagreement or a mistake; but then 30 minutes later, it was solved. What the lovable, but mislead, character did was take responsibility in the end; but what if we take responsibility BEFORE the fight.

The way I see it, all fights stem from three things:
  • insecurities
  • the perception of selfishness (founded or unfounded)
  • miscommunication
So, if you are facing a fight right now (or in the future), which one of these applies to your situation? Does your partner feel left behind or left out or unsure of your future? Do you? Are your decision making skills leaving out your Love? Did they just forget to tell you something really important, or did you tell them something vaguely and expect them to catch on?

There can be a million more examples; so over-think it this time.

Then, the most important part, find your contribution to this situation AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR IT! Have that nice, warm, inviting, 80's family sitcom talk. Figure it out, and change what needs to be changed.

Oh, and don't forget to laugh!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Sure, i have quiet a few recipes to put up (i created a delicious soup just last night!) but i had to share that Jayson and i have been married for 4 months today. That sounds and seems like such a short time, but i can't imagine life before marriage. It suits me/us.

So this is what i woke up to this morning, next to me in bed:

Now i am watching Bonnie Hunt, waiting for a wonderful breakfast in bed!

So yes, i promise: lots of recipes and updates on our home improvements coming soon!

But for now... i smell bacon and cinnamon rolls!