Happy Birthday, Beth!!

Break out the balloons and streamers, we're CELEBRATING here at Onward & Upward!!!

Today is Beth's birthday!!

*throws confetti into the air*

Please join the party! We're having cake and ice cream, and everyone gets to wear fun party hats. We're all dressing up like princesses, and Beth gets to wear a special tiara. What more could a girl want for her birthday?? Okay, that's the fun thing about blogs - we can pretend we're having a 6-year-old's "Princess Party" without actually having to do it. ;-)

So, put on your party hat, have a piece of cake, and let's giggle and chat before we begin fun party games! (I know, we just had a party 3 weeks ago, but whatever - it's Beth's birthday, which is a special occasion!)

Be sure to leave lots of comments wishing Beth a happy birthday and let her know how loved she is! :-)

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Just a wee bit late.

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Not So Great

While Paul and I had a long-distance relationship, one of the things we missed most was seeing each other every day. To make things better, I made a website for him called "An Ashley a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!" Every day, I took a picture of myself using my tripod and uploaded it. He got to see what I wore that day, how I did my hair, whether I wore glasses or contacts, and what current state my apartment was in. He loved it and looked forward to his daily picture. I loved trying to come up with fun poses for him.

The pictures helped make the distance geographically seem not so great.

A few years after my dad's parents passed away, he and his siblings got together one Labor Day weekend and went through a bunch of my grandparents' pictures. In the pile they found this one:
I like looking at it and wondering who the people were. They were my ancestors, and that was their store. Here is a piece of their life, a single moment captured in a picture that I can look at today and wonder. Some of the pictures we found were of my grandparents when they were young. Wow, us cousins look a lot like our grandparents! How my father and aunts and uncles looked like their relatives! How we all looked alike!

The pictures helped the distance in time seem not so great.

When I was in high school, I was close friends with two of the Peruvian girls who attended our youth group. Seeing pictures like the one above remind me of them, and of our friendship. We were quite different, culturally. I had my American ways and my English language, while they had their Peruvian customs and Spanish mother tongues. I grew up with hamburgers and apple pie; they dined on lomo saltado and chicha morada. Yet when I look at this picture, taken at the end of a weeklong youth retreat at the beach, I am reminded that they are girls just like me. We giggled and had crushes on boys and enjoyed lollypops just the same, no matter our skin color.

The pictures helped the distance culturally seem not so great.

My grandmother and I have always been really close, and it was hard on her being away from her grandkids the whole time we lived overseas. She always made us feel loved, though. She would send us packages in the mail of anything and everything. She would send us pictures of their house and changes they made, and of their gardens. She would write us each long letters wanting to know all about our lives and our friends and school. This picture is one that was taken during one of our visits to the States:

When I look at pictures like that, I am reminded of the happy and fun times I've had with my grandma. I can laugh with her, and tell her my hopes and fears.

The pictures help the generational distances seem not so great.

A picture is worth 1000 words, they say. And oh so true. That is the beauty of photographs! They can transport you through time and space. They are the bridge between the two cliffs. And for that, I am grateful.

This post is a submission for this week's Carnival of Beauty: The Beauty of Photographs. Please visit the other Carnival Posts on Amanda's blog.

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Women in the Workforce Pt. 1

I was once asked to elaborate more on what I do for a living, and it got me thinking not only about my own job, but what it means to me to be a working wife. I hope to cover this topic with a few posts on this subject, but first I'll explain more about what I do.

I think I've said before that I work in cancer research. It sounds wonderfully complex and difficult, but I assure you, it's not very hard. My main focus is to consent patients for the protocols we have, as well as making sure the urine, blood, and tissue samples get to the lab and the computer. I'm also responsible for processing and freezing the samples should the person who normally processes be out. It's a rather low job on the totem pole, and I'm not doing a lot of bench work (so I won't be finding the gene that breaks the code!), but it is a fulfilling and rewarding job.

I get to be one of the faces of the research side of our department to many of our patients. I get to meet with them and talk to them, something I wouldn't be able to do if I was confined to a bench all day. Since I can put faces to the names I see on the paper, it makes my job so much more, well, human. These are real humans we are dealing with every day, not just a sample. These are real people who are hurting and have come to receive help after the dreadful diagnosis of cancer. I can't even imagine such a diagnosis myself. I think I would have trouble being a nurse, since they just have to detach themselves from their patients, or their jobs would become unbearable. I don't think I ever could do that (but I sure admire the nurses who do!). I feel for the patients too much. After talking with many of these patients, I shoot up a quick prayer for them. Many of them are facing horrible diagnoses, and prayer is all that I can do. Even though my job is not very significant on paper, I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and I love that I can make a contribution to help fight this horrible disease. And I know that this is where God wants me, right now.

Even though I love what I do, for me it is transient as I wait (although not always patiently!) to move on to the next stage of my life (Lord willing). I believe my true calling is to be a keeper of the home and mother. While I'm not a mother just yet, being a homemaker is something I'm cultivating when I'm not at work. In the next section, I hope to continue this theme and discuss how I balance work and home life.

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Recommended Reading

So I've been meaning to highlight some of the sites that I especially like that are on our sidebar. These are rather recent websites and blogs I've come across, and I am eager to share them!

DesignTalk: Home Design Help
I came across this website/blog when I was looking for help with my living room, and I really like it! They answer questions about home design and have a lot of great ideas. They are clear, easy to understand, and illustrate their ideas with pictures which is nice for visual people like me.

PDF Online
Do you have a file that you need converted to a PDF, but don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro? Well this site is a great resource for you! It's fast, easy, and best of all - free. They do a variety of documents (including Microsoft Word), and there's no registration necessary. I used this service especially when I was searching for a job two years ago.

Since I work in the printing industry, I am often having to transfer really large files to and from clients. When something is too big to email, I recommend DivShare to them. No complaints yet!

What the Font?!
With a clever name, this site has been very useful to me as a designer! I can upload an image with the font I want to identify, and they come back with their options. If you don't have an image, check out Identifont for a similar service.

For those who are familiar with ChiliHead, she now has a new site with product reviews! I especially enjoyed her review of a just-for-redheads makeup brand. :-) I can imagine this site will be a valuable resource as I continue to learn about how to be a homemaker.

Number Gossip
Okay, this site is just for fun. :-) You type in a number, and it tells you all the cool things about that number. You might appreciate this more if you are a math lover.

Finding Contentment in the Suburbs
Started by Lindsey from Enjoy the Journey fame, a blog about avoiding the common pitfall of always wanting more-more-more money. This site comes at a perfect time for me, as my husband and I are approaching (albeit slowly!) that same quandary. It's not about get-rich-quick, but about being content with what God's given you.

Frugal Living Journal
While we're on the subject of finances, I have enjoyed this website which gives practical tips of living frugally. Being a good steward of God's resources and being content with what He's given to you go hand-in-hand.

Happy Tails
Animal lover that I am, I was excited to see that Mrs. B has a blog devoted just to animals! She already has posted some great advice about dogs, and I look forward to future posts. It makes me want to start a blog about my own pets...

Living in Peru
Okay, I'm not sure if ANY of our readers will find this interesting, but here is a site all about living in Peru - AND it's in English! As most of you know, I grew up as a missionary kid in Peru so I always enjoy finding resources like this. :-) You can read my 10 Things About Peru here to learn more about this beautiful country.

That's all for now! Happy reading. :-) And if you have a site you recommend, let us know!

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books, books, books

I saw this meme on Amanda's blog, and decided to steal it for myself. :-)

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I generally don't have a preference, since I buy most of my books used. I will most likely choose the cheapest option. However, if it's something special I want to keep, then I'll go for the hardback.

Online purchase or brick and mortar?
I love Amazon and get most of my books from there. I do like walking around bookstores, though. I will buy books on clearance from stores.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
I really have no preference. Aren't they the same store? ;-)

Bookmark or dog-ear?
Oooh I hate dog-eared books! I always use a bookmark. Usually whatever is lying around. It's not too uncommon to see me using a piece of Kleenex as a bookmark. :-)

Mark or not mark?
I like to mark my Bible and I did underline my college textbooks, but just normal reading-for-pleasure books I tend to leave clean & pure.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
I usually group my books by subject.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Well it depends how often I am moving. There is no better way to pare down your unnecessary books than to move a lot! I tend to keep everything, though.

Keep dustjacket or toss it?
I usually keep it, unless it's not in good condition. When I worked at the library in college, I would cover the dust jackets that I particularly liked.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?
I always remove it. I'm scared of bending the edges of the dust jacket and causing it to look ratty.

Short story or novel?

Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)?
I really don't have a preference!

Lord of the Rings or Narnia?
Narnia Narnia Narnia. :-) Although Lord of the Rings certainly isn't bad.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
Chapter breaks. I need some sort of closure.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
I think I prefer the former - it's more dramatic.

Buy or Borrow?
Depends on what kind of book and if I'll get a future use out of it. If it's something I will want to refer to often, or something I want to take my time reading, then I'll buy.

New or used?
It doesn't matter as long as the book is in good shape!

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
Either recommendation or browse. I rarely read reviews, unless they're written by someone I know. (As in, I'll read a review on a blog, but not necessarily by a professional reviewer for a newspaper.)

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
I can't stand loose ends not being wrapped up. So tidy ending unless it's just a part of a series.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or night time reading?
Nighttime reading, right before bed. Unfortunately Paul doesn't like the light on and he always goes to sleep before me... Must come up with a solution for that...

Standalone or series?
Either, as long as the series is ended in an appropriate time.

Favorite series?
Anne of Green Gables. Chronicles of Narnia is a close second.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Hmm how to choose... Letters Never Sent by Ruth Van Reken really, really impacted me... Oh and I'm a HUGE fan of Mary Stewart! My favorite is definitely The Moon-Spinners. When I was younger, I really enjoyed Enid Blyton's Adventure series. They were great! Now I want to read them again...

Favorite books read last year?
Hmm... Well it's hard to say. I really liked The Cat Who Came for Christmas. And I finally finished the Anne of Green Gables series, although technically I read the last book or two in 2007. :-) I also found Taking Charge of Your Fertility really eye opening.

Favorite book of all time?
Anne of Green Gables.

Three questions I am surprised not to see . . .

Fiction or NonFiction?
It depends if I am reading for pleasure or for research. For pleasure I enjoy fiction, especially historical fiction. If I'm trying to learn something, then I will pick up and enjoy a nonfiction. Nonfiction books that I read for pleasure are biographies and historical events.

One book at a time or have several in process at the same time?
Usually only one, although I will have several sitting out waiting to be read.

Crack the spine or leave it unbroken?
Hmm I seriously never think about this. I guess I like the book to remain as pretty and untouched as possible, but I also hate reading a book where it takes all my finger strength just to keep the pages open.

Yeah, that's right, we are bibliophiles--not just readers, book-lovers.

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It's Been Fun

Today is the last day of the Ultimate Blog Party. It's been fun, y'all! Thanks to all who stopped by for a visit. We enjoyed having you. :-)

For now, an Audio Adrenaline song is running through my head. I think it's a bit appropriate! Enjoy. :-)

"It's Over" from Audio Adrenaline's "Underdog" album

Farewell, so long to you
We've come to the end of the night
It's all been wonderful
A lovely and wonderful time
Say goodnight to
All the friends who
Rocked and rolled beside you
It's over
It's all over now
Is it all over?
Or has it just begun?
By the way, what do y'all think of the new header? Those pictures were taken the summer before Beth and I entered our senior year of high school. Despite deceiving appearances, the first picture on the left and the last picture on the right are indeed two different pictures. :-) I like how we were able to start and end in the exact same positions!

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Musical Meme

What's a party without music? Enjoy this little meme, which I got from Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer

Favorite Song From Childhood: probably a Psalty song; I think my favorite was "My Hands Are the Hands" (from Psalty Kids' Praise! 6)

Favorite High School Dance Song: I was a big fan of R&B music... the one band that sticks out is Destiny's Child.

Senior Class Song: "With A Little Help from My Friends" by the Beatles

Song That Makes You Think of College: Hmm it's hard to narrow it down to one but I think I'll go with "The Remedy" by Jason Mraz

Favorite Rock & Roll Song: okay I'm super bad at genres so I'm going to skip this one

Favorite Disco Song: skipping this one too

Favorite Country Western Song: yep, you guessed it! skipping

Favorite Pop Song: skipping this one

Favorite All Time Love Song: “All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera

Favorite Break Up Song: “Never Ever" by All Saints

Favorite Slow Dance Song: "The Way You Look Tonight" sung by Tony Bennett

Song That Always Makes You Cry: "He" by Jars of Clay

Songs About Your Kids: N/A

Song That Reminds You Of Your Husband: "Amazed" by Lonestar :-)

Favorite Christmas Song: Christian song: O Holy Night, secular: Sleigh Ride

Favorite Gospel/Praise Song: oooh I don't think I can name one "favorite", but I really love "In Christ Alone"

Favorite Ringtone on Cellphone: I actually have a really cheap cell phone that doesn't allow me to change the ringtone (so sad!) but if I could, then I would change it to the Futurama theme song

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Puppy Chow

What's a party without food? One of my all time favorite party foods is "puppy chow," and it's not as gross as it sounds. I promise :-). I'm sure I could eat a whole bowl full of this stuff myself. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe I use:

6 cups rice and corn cereal (such as Crispix)
1 pkg. (6 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 peanut butter (crunchy or creamy, but I prefer creamy)
1/2 cup peanuts (optional)
1 cup confectioners' sugar

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and heat for 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in peanut butter. Gently stir into cereal until well coated.

Place sugar in a 2-gallon storage bag (I can use a 1 gallon bag just fine). Add coated cereal and shake well, until well coated. Store in bag in refrigerator.

Yields ~8 cups

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It Figures

So it figures that right after I join the party, I get sick. I have been struggling with a cold and now have completely lost my voice, as well as feeling other yucky sinus pressure in my head. I'm sure in a few days I'll be fine, but in the meantime I am trying to save my energy to be with my sister who is visiting for the week!

Thanks for all the wonderful comments we've gotten so far, and I look forward to spending time visiting all the great blogs! But for now, I am going to let Beth take care of this blog, and hopefully return soon!

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Party On!!

Thank goodness it's Friday! Time to party!!

All this week is the Ultimate Blog Party! To celebrate, we decided to do a complete blog redesign, including a special header just for this week! :-) We look forward to meeting some new people, and exploring other great blogs.

For those who don't really know us, we are Beth and Ashley. We met in 7th grade at a small Christian school, where we quickly became close friends. Ashley moved away a year after we met, but we've kept in touch since then and have always been able to pick up just where we left off!

We are both Christians, married, and pre-children. We love cats, the 1940s, and hot tea. Beth lives in Texas with her hubby and cat Lucy, working as a cancer research assistant. Ashley lives in Georgia with her hubby and 2 cats and puppy, and she works as a graphic designer at a local advertising agency.

We started this blog because we both like to write, but didn't necessarily have time to keep this blog up full-time by ourselves (in addition to our personal blogs). We enjoy the Christian blogging community, but we wish there were more blogs that were in the same place in life as us. While we are both intending to be mothers in the future, currently we are both working outside the home full-time. We would love to meet other working Christian wives, so if you are one please introduce yourself! We find it's a challenge to balance working full-time with taking care of our homes (no matter how small they are!), and we would love to know how others are able to do it.

We'll be posting more this week, so be sure to come back to read more!

Other party posts:
It Figures
Puppy Chow
Musical Meme
It's Been Fun

See more party participants at 5 Minutes for Mom

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