Orange Juice, ETC

The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

Tag: birthday

31 Things: LB to ID


The last time I wrote one of these birthday posts (30 Things: Theresa) I opened it with the phrase, “So much has happened since 29 Things. Another year and a new city…” At the time I figured Theresa and I would settle into a 3-5 year stretch in sunny Southern California before resettling one last time in Priest River, Idaho, Theresa’s hometown and the place we figured we’d eventually settle down for good. I had no idea how much unexpected change the next year was to bring. Another year and a new (old for her) small logging town…

After a mere 11 months in the land of tacos, beaches, and eternal sunshine, tragedy pushed our Idaho timeline up far sooner than we could’ve possibly imagined. In the blink of an eye we relocated Priest River to spend as much time as possible with Theresa’s dad as he battled melanoma. We lost him in June, one day before my birthday. This year Theresa’s birthday will be bittersweet as well since September 25th is also Dan’s birthday, and this will be our first without him.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life so far, it’s that if you allow them to, difficult times make the good times just a little bit sweeter. It doesn’t make sorrow any easier, but when it comes time to smile, the smile comes from a deeper, truer place. I’m sure we will shed a few tears this birthday, but I know the smiles will quickly follow.

With that in mind, here are 31 of my very favorite things about Theresa, who more often than not is the reason I’m smiling.

1. She’s the kind of girl who’d leave the beach and the sunshine (her favorite things) at the drop of a hat and move across the country to support her family
2. Late night conversations about life, death, loss and God.
3. Sharing her small childhood bedroom in our future house
4. Armchair psychology
5. She’s just as excited about buying an old ’78 Ford F150 pickup as I am
6. When she makes me scoot closer to her on the couch so she can drape her legs over mine.
7. Her tenacity in cleaning a gross old buffalo skull so it will be beautiful enough to hang on our wall
8. Our future miniature donkey, Maraschino
9. Her worker bee attitude
10. How when she finds a new instagram of someone’s cute animal or child, and then proceeds to shove her phone in my face for the next 15 minutes so I don’t miss a single photo. Typically accompanied by, “Look at how wild (name of animal/child) is being in this one!”
11. One of her top priorities is making sure we have a 4WD vehicle capable of taking friends and family with us on our favorite hikes
12. Her unabashed love for the pickling cukes we grew in our garden
13. I just can’t wait to see what she does with a whole house, after all these years of making our apartments look amazing
14. She reads the social/political commentary I can’t seem to stop posting on Facebook and doesn’t think I’m crazy or weird, and always has insightful things to say about the topic
15. When we spend 2 days holed up in our tent for our anniversary she never complains and we still have a blast
16. Pony Draw Poker
17. She works as hard as any of the guys when we bring in the firewood for the winter
18. How much she loves Amos (the family black lab) and personally puts him to bed every night so she can get one last snuggle in
19. After 8 years of marriage she’s still letting me pull off the road in random places and patiently posing for pictures
20. She tried to get me to smuggle some driftwood out of Canada (I talked her out of it. This time…)
21. There’s no one I’d rather share a cup of coffee and a pastry with on a drizzly Saturday morning
22. Road trips to Seattle, just the two of us
23. How badass she looks in her dad’s old Frostline aluminum frame backpack
24. She always wants to watch TV while we work out, but she’ll put on music instead because she knows I can’t concentrate if there are bright lights and motion in my field of vision
25. Chinups
26. Her fine collection of animal skulls
27. The way she smiles at me when I do stupid dances to extremely un-danceable TV show theme songs
28. Trips to the Winter Ridge natural food store in Sand Point
29. Yard/Estate sale shopping on old country roads. Lots of duds, and a few gems
30. When I have to get out of bed to throw a tshirt over the tiny, faint LED light on her laptop because it’s keeping her awake
31. How adorable she looks in an oversized beanie (seriously, look at that picture)

30 Things: Theresa


Theresa is 30! You know what that means… It’s time for one of my favorite annual traditions: writing up a new list of favorite things about Theresa.

So much has happened since “Sad Songs and Birthdays” (AKA: 29 Things). Another year and a new city have provided numerous opportunities to rediscover all the ways Theresa surprises and delights me. Here are 30 of them:

1. Last year’s 29 Things #2 was this: “She wants to move to LA, or New York, or anywhere with me. Just because it’d be fun.” Well guess what. She moved to LA with me, just for fun. And it’s been wonderful.
2. Tously beach hair and salty skin.
3. She’s the best office mate ever (sorry Jeremy & Shaun)
4. Hole Mole (pronounced ho-lay mo-lay) Rosarito Tacos at least once a week, preferably twice.
5. How cute she looks in her banana rash guard.
6. Floating on our backs together as the waves wash over our bodies.
7. Carefully selecting songs for our seasonal playlists so that they don’t overlap
8. Outdoor showers under the Big Sur Redwoods
9. She makes me catch baby lizards because she wants to touch their warm dry skin
10. Learning to love a new city together
11. Mid-morning workouts
12. Leaving the air conditioner off all day out of stubbornness and then cooling ourselves at night by rubbing ice cubes all over our skin.
13. Long walks on the beach.
14. Traveling back to Seattle together to see friends and family, and visit all our favorite old spots.
15. That one time in Joshua Tree when she made us all stay up late saying nice things about each other.
16. California Road Trips!
17. She’s not afraid to learn new things like rock climbing and how to dive under the waves.
18. The upcoming Wes Anderson Halloween Party she’s been planning for the last year.
19. The way she smooths off my rough edges, and lets me smooth off hers.
20. Her undying affection for popsicles.
21. She’s on Joseph’s short list of “Women Whose Advice You Should Always Heed.” (And mine too, duh.)
22. New Chairs!
23. She’s turned our Long Beach apartment into a home just as wonderful as the one we shared in Seattle.
24. Cold Brews & Coconut Scone mornings at Lord Windsor
25. She’s the very best kind of friend, sister, aunt, and wife.
26. Her happy face when I get back from my latest trip.
27. Her instagram is always better than mine.
28. She patiently helps me shop for hiking gear when I’m completely unprepared and being a little silly.
29. She has the best ponytail.
30. After 7 years of marriage, and 30 years on this planet I find her as beautiful, witty, intelligent, wise, creative, and strong as the day I met her.

Sad Songs & Birthdays


Every morning when the coffee’s on,
I rediscover that color in your eyes, in its gold and its bronze

That quote is from a song on Foy Vance’s recent album, The Joy of Nothing. It’s a beautiful album that chronicles the various stages of the disintegration of his marriage. This may be odd, but I often enjoy listening to sad songs about divorce and the loss of love. Sometimes I like to imagine what life would be like without Theresa, and it makes me very sad. Since Theresa and I are happily married you might think this a little morbid. You may be right, but let me explain:

The other day I was watching a clip of Louis C.K. being interviewed by Conan O’Brien discussing his hatred of cell phones. He justifies this hatred by describing an experience he had while driving in which he became very sad for no particular reason. His immediate instinct was to reach for his phone, to create some kind of distraction. But instead, he embraced the sadness, pulled his car over and started crying. What he realized in that moment is that technology has a way of minimizing both our sadness and our happiness. You can’t fully experience one without the other.

Odd as it may seem, this is why I enjoy sad songs. The sadness they allow me to experience only serves to enhance the joy I feel whenever I’m with Theresa. Her presence in my life has made me so overwhelmingly happy, that at times it’s almost numbing. A little pinch of sadness allows me to appreciate her more fully. It helps me to once again marvel at the beautiful color in her eyes.

And since today is Theresa’s 29th birthday, it’s only appropriate that I list some of my favorite things about her. Our new favorite tradition.

29 Things
1. She is a voracious snuggler.
2. She wants to move to LA, or New York, or anywhere with me. Just because it’d be fun.
3. She could care less about sports.
4. But she loves hiking.
5. She likes to make fun of babies, but she loves our nephews with all her heart.
6. She is wise.
7. Milstead.
8. When she stands on the edge of the bathtub to get a better look at her outfits.
9. She folds a mean tshirt.
10. How she has made our little apartment into a home.
11. She always – Always – Wants Mexican food for dinner.
12. Popcorn Sundays.
13. She’s not afraid to call you out if you’re being dumb.
14. She’s always offers to help my mom in the kitchen when we visit.
15. She’s content with less.
16. She can appreciate a good Manhattan.
17. She’s never smoked ever.
18. She doesn’t mind if I smoke my pipe from time to time.
19. Her fit attitude.
20. Bright Pink Nikes.
21. Her love of excellent jackets.
22. She has never stopped encouraging me as I try to make it as a freelance designer.
23. She thinks I’m amazing. I think she’s amazing. It’s a vicious cycle of awesome.
24. She is generous and hospitable.
25. She accepts people of all kinds.
26. She gets really angry when slow people don’t move aside on the trail.
27. She loves to run back down the mountain.
28. She is endlessly creative.
29. The gold and bronze flecks in her blue eyes. 6 years and I still love finding them.

Happy birthday Theresa. I love you more than the moon and stars.

Instagram Assassins: The Great Oregon Coast Adventure

Joseph atop an ocean spire. Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

My brother Joseph has that look in his eye. The one he gets right before he’s about to do something awesome. “I’m going to climb that” he says. Theresa and I, along with her sister Andrea, and my friend Jeremy are halfway around “The Point” at low tide in Lincoln City, Oregon. The sun is nestling gently into the horizon line, wrapping the Pacific Ocean around itself like an oversized quilt. Behind us, “The Knoll” towers over our little group, awash in golden light.

Fifteen minutes later Joseph and I are both seated atop a craggy ocean spire, seventy feet above the ocean, watching the last few rays of sun flickering across the face of the sea. I’d like say this was an idyllic close to a perfect 30th birthday weekend. The crazy thing is we still had the next day to enjoy at Cape Kiwanda, twenty minutes north of our epic perch. So much goodness was packed into our three short days I can only begin to share it with you here.

For our first installment, we thought it would be fun to share a few highlights from the trip using only Instagram photos. My good friend Jeremy Spyridon shot the entire weekend using just his iPhone, capturing some fantastic moments. Naturally I was burning through rolls of film on a mission for our upcoming KAVUpulse blog post. However, I still managed to squeeze off a few rounds with the ol’ iPhone. I’ve compiled a selection here for you to enjoy. As you’ll see, we spent the weekend in epic fashion, hiking, climbing, relaxing, and generally marveling at the beauty of the Oregon Coast.

More to come…

All of these photos were taken using Instagram by either Jeremy Spyridon (@jspyridon) or Elias Carlson (@eliascarlson).

Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Photo by Elias Carlson

Elias and Theresa together

Three - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Sea Cave - Photo by Elias Carlson

Balance - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Theresa Sunset - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Sperrys above the ocean - Photo by Elias Carlson

Joseph Carlson - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Drift Creek Falls - Photo by Elias Carlson

Silhouette - Photo by Elias Carlson

Tiny Figures - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Backflip - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Clifftops - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Joseph atop the spire - Photo by Elias Carlson

Leapers ETC - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Pacific Sunset - Photo by Elias Carlson

Arms Outstretched - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

Cape Kiwanda Cliffs - Photo by Elias Carlson

The Ascent - Photo by Jeremy Spyridon

The Most Beautiful Girl

Today is my wife Theresa’s birthday. I sit here typing in a vain attempt to capture the gravity of this day as it pertains to my life. On this day twenty-six years ago, the love of my life was born. I was two years old, and undoubtedly had no idea that three hundred miles away the woman who would change my life forever was taking her first few breaths. This was and is a blessed day.

Theresa has always been to me as a ray of sun bursting through the clouds, turning despair into hope and gloom into laughter. She loves me with an exuberance and passion that is as irresistible as the ocean tide. I daily find myself swept away in the waves of love she unceasingly lavishes upon me. Try as I might I can never out-love her because she just keeps giving. It is the great joy of my life to try to love her as much as she loves me, because even in my failure I am loved all the more.

I have often wished I could have known Theresa during the 20 or so years we were apart. I think that we would have loved each other all along if we had. In truth, we did. Both of us grew up knowing that we couldn’t wait to meet the person we were supposed to marry. When I finally met Theresa it didn’t take me very long to figure out that she was the one I’d been loving all my life. If I ever doubted true love, or destiny, or the providence of the Lord, she shattered all of those doubts when she walked into my life. I am a blessed man, and Theresa is my daily reminder of just how blessed I am.

Happy birthday my love. You are the most beautiful girl in the world, and always will be to me.

28 things

Today after work we are headed out camping with a few good friends to celebrate Elias’ 28th birthday. Though I have only known him for roughly 5 and a half years, it feels like I have known him my whole life.

In honor and celebration of the glorious day Elias was born, here is a list of 28 things that I love about him:

1. He gives everyone the benefit of the doubt whether they deserve it or not.
2. He doesn’t care for celebrities.
3. He notices small things that are often looked over.
4. He is a perfectionist.
5. He likes hats but believes that his history with baseball caps ended when he graduated from college.
6. He gives compliments.
7. He writes everything with small, neat capital letters.
8. He has a callous on his knuckle from resting his tooth there at work.
9. He is generous.
10. He loves his family and mine.
11. He likes the scratches on his wedding band.
12. 12 is his lucky number.
13. He likes babies but pretends to hate them.
14. He says that every consecutive meal I make for him is the best he has ever had.
15. He works hard.
16. He hates “Top 40” music.
17. He would like to learn how to play the piano.
18. He learned to play the guitar when I asked him to.
19. He has a heart for those who have less than him.
20. He hates tiny dogs with sweaters and sparkly collars.
21. He likes to try new things.
22. He has dimples when he smiles.
23. He is responsible.
24. He likes estates sales even though he has to monitor the physical size of my purchases in consideration for our tiny apartment.
25. He takes interest in the things that I love.
26. He can do graffiti, and he’s good.
27. He writes me tiny notes on tiny paper.
28. He loves a weasel.

These are only a few of the things that I love about Elias, that make him who he is. I am so blessed to share my life with him and you are indeed a lucky person if you are part of his life as well.