Monday, December 14, 2015

Such a Good Day

Baby sister is home. (FINALLY!)

Blue Bell is back, and just as good as ever.

I saw four shooting starts tonight, all while driving and not even looking for them.

And that's about all, folks!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Where I Want to Be

Y'all.  It's Taylor Swift's birthday today, and she's two years younger than me.

And she's built an empire.

I, ummmmm, well... I own a car, so there's that.

Of course, that's mostly a joke, but I do sometimes envy people the things they have that I don't, so it's nice to remind myself that I wouldn't really want to be in T-Swift's shoes.

Remember when I decided I just wanted to disappear for a little while and live life beyond a screen, with real people?  Yeah, I kinda doubt there's much in Taylor's life that she can just cancel in a flash and run away to spend time with friends.  I mean, maybe, but I highly doubt it...

I, on the other hand, have that chance more often than not, and that time showed me I should take advantage of it more often than I do.

I visited my dear friend Kae, who is just a fantastic hostess, among many other things.  I love to pop in on her from time to time, and just be a part of her life - we don't make big plans for our time together.  She just has a peaceful, quiet, intentional way of life that I, in all my rushing, overly-social, never-take-a-breath, unpredictable intensity, need to soak up every once in a while.

I mean, the first night I was there, we finished dinner, and sat around talking for a minute, then, when I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water, I glanced over at the tabletop and realized it was a perfect still-life:

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Kae and her husband James have a little baby girl, Rose, and they like to carefully preserve and cultivate "Adult" things in their life after she's in bed by lighting candles and having long conversations over dinner.  They've done a good job of that from what I saw.

One night, Kae and I had a little tea party and read together - it was such a perfect re-set time and a reminder that this quiet little life is exactly where I want to be.

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And one night, we made homemade pasta, because if we don't cook together at least once a visit, something has gone terribly wrong.

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It's our happy place. Can't you tell?

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One of my favorite moments of the whole trip, though, was one afternoon when Kae was washing dishes and I was in the living room (probably having just finished my 14,973,587th reading of Rose's favorite "Mary Had a Little Lamb" finger puppet book) and Rose was just floating back and forth between us - she went into the kitchen with Kae, and Kae began singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to her in Chinese.

Just a normal moment in their day, but so incredibly poignant for me.
Yeah, there's something about music in languages other than English that gets me every time, but this was different.

When Kae and I first met, neither of us would ever have imagined we would be in that moment right then.  But somehow it was exactly right - exactly the way things were supposed to be from the very beginning.

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I don't think either of us would trade to be where we pictured ourselves 7 years ago.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Cooking Club, Round 1

So, today was my first "cooking club," which I'm trying to model off of Shauna Niequist's concept (at least my understanding thereof). By the way, if you've never read any of Shauna's books, double-time it to the nearest bookstore now, and get both Cold Tangerines and Bread and Wine.

Go ahead! I'll wait here til you get back...

Or if you don't go buy her books immediately, at least please follow her on instagram. She is a really awesome human.

She's done this thing called cooking club for years now, where the same basic group of women gathers once a month in a different person's house each time on a steady rotation, and each person brings ingredients for parts of a meal, centering around a theme (Mediterranean food, for example, or miniature food). Then they all cook and eat together. It's a great purposeful way to cultivate vulnerability and community and also to learn how to cook new things from each other, and not get stuck in a food rut.

So a friend of mine hosted cooking club tonight, and there were about 5 of us, and most folks brought already prepared things, so it didn't quite go as planned, but it was a really good group, so I'd say all in all it was a good start.

Next time it's making homemade pasta and sauces at my house!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Last of the Birthday Celebrations

Tonight, I went to a performance of excerpts from Handel's Messiah.

It is simply awe-inspiring.

Every year that I can, for at least the past 8 years, I've gone to this same performance, and for 3 of those years, I performed in it. There is nothing like that music.

It kind of accidentally became a birthday tradition for me, because it happens either the weekend before or after my birthday every year - one of those years, I even got to sing in it on my actual birthday!

Now I hope that, wherever I live for the rest of my life, there will be a production not-too-far-to-travel-to, because I honestly can't imagine the Holidays without it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Sometimes I get to this weird place where I feel completely overwhelmed, and there are a million things I need to do, so I don't do any of them.  Does anybody else do this?

Today, I needed to:
Buy more chirstmas lights
Finish trimming the Christmas tree
Drop off a package at Fedex
Finish knitting a hat
Clean my bedroom and bathroom
Do laundry
Buy groceries
Cook soup

But did I do any of these things? Nope.  There were other things that I needed to do that I did do, but I felt like I was only functioning on a survival level and nothing above that.

Finally, I just sat down for a minute, because I was even having trouble prioritizing - my list was just too big for me to deal with at that point.

Then, my wonderful Mom asked if she could take me out to dinner, and I said yes, and, suddenly, all was right with the world again.  It's amazing how Moms can do that!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

Confession: most of the last month, I thought my birthday was this Wednesday (as in today), but no. It was Tuesday...

Last week (on Cyber Monday, no less), I found a really great deal on a curling iron I've been wanting, but I wanted to do a little more research before actually committing, so I sat down and studied up on it, and decided that, yes. I wanted it.
Then, for some unknown reason, I decided I should get ready for bed before actually making the purchase, so I did. And, as I was brushing my teeth, I decided I needed an electric toothbrush, then and there, so instead of the well-researched curling iron, I bought myself an electric toothbrush.
It came today, and I'm interested to see if it was indeed a good decision.

I guess maybe this means I'm a real adult now? That I bought myself an electric toothbrush instead of a curling iron for my birthday?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

An Absence and a Birthday

You guys, really wonderful things happen when you choose to put people in a higher place of priority than blogs, and that's about all I have to say about my recent absence.

Just kidding - stay tuned in the next few days for further thoughts from my time beyond the screen.

However, since it is my birthday, and I made a resolution to post every day in my 28th year, here I am...
with another resolution. I'd say this is going quite well so far, wouldn't you? How about I just introduce you to another resolution every few weeks for the next year?

Nope, sorry - these are the only two you get.
Oh, you actually want to know what the resolution is? (I think it's a pretty good one!)
I am resolved to spend 28 Saturdays this year outdoors. This doesn't necessarily mean I'll be doing great big enormous things like camping every weekend, though I do intend to do that some. It just means that I'm trying to get myself outside more to remind myself why I used to love being out in nature so much. It may just mean I explore some new trails or state parks near my home on day trips, or it may mean I make a weekend trip and stay with friends near Austin and hike up Enchanted Rock, or it may mean I go ride horses in a friend's pasture.
Whatever it means, I'm looking forward to sharing it with you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How early is too early to talk about my birthday?

Three weeks ahead?  Too early?  Sorry - the train's already left the station...
I was on the phone with my sister earlier, and I said "Well, here we are, one day closer to my birthday!"
Can you say self-absorbed?

I don't know what it is, but I really love my birthday.  I always assumed I would eventually grow out of it, but nope.  Here we are, pretty much grown up, and I'm still going strong.  This doesn't really mean I ever throw a big shindig or do anything super memorable, but I get just as excited about it every year.  There's something special about feeling like there's a day that's actually about you...
One year in college, I discovered two birthday twins - same year even! - and I was kinda weirdly sad about it?  I don't know what to say. Im ashamed of myself, but it doesn't mean I'm about to pretend like I don't care that MY BIRTHDAY IS COMING SOON!

I guess it's kinda like Buddy the Elf and his affinity for Christmas.
Except, actually, I get just as excited about Christmas.

December, in general, is just one of the best holidays months.
Yep, I just accidentally typed holidays there instead of months, because, really, December does sort of feel like one big holiday to me.

And?  I get to go to Lights of Tejas twice this year.  I can't wait.
The things to be excited about just keep multiplying.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let's Get Personal

You know what's really hard?  Facing yourself head-on, and saying "Self, you're afraid of these five things," then proceeding to talk about them.

Just as a note - I don't have a ton of "physical" fears.  I tend to lean very much on the idea that I am the Lord's daughter, and I'm immortal until my work here is done.  That doesn't mean that I'll jump off a cliff or drive my car down the highway at 120 mph, but it does mean that I'm not incredibly afraid of what people can do to me.
The fears I do have are ones I have to face pretty frequently, though:

1)Snakes.  I seriously have so much terror in my heart when it comes to these things - maybe it's because they are so incredibly unpredictable?  They slither, and their entire body is basically made of joints, so they can turn in any direction at any given time!

2)Guns.  They make me incredibly uncomfortable.  Like if I see one, even if it's in a cabinet or something, with no other humans nearby, I just want to quietly walk backwards out the door.  I live in Texas, where people carry guns around with them and in their cars, and I've had to face this fear frequently.  Thankfully I've never had to face a person with a gun in their hand, and I pray I will never have to.  I honestly have no idea what I would do.

3)Failure - and here we're talking specifically about failure in my own eyes.  It doesn't really matter if someone else would look at my life and say I failed in certain areas.  That already would have happened multiple times, honestly.  I'm talking about looking back and saying to myself that I failed at something and never redeemed it.  That would be a horrible day.

4)Not being liked - okay, so this one does have a lot to do with other people.  I realize that I have been incredibly fortunate to have a life where I've almost always been well-liked in the circles I've chosen to run in.  The more I've gotten older, though, the more I've realized I really don't like not being considered like-able.  Yeah, it's happened, and I've dealt with it, but, if possible, I'd rather never have it happen.

5)Not being a mother - probably the biggest on this list. I've heard people say they want to get married because they're "afraid of dying alone" or something along those lines.
I don't know - that's not really my reasoning for wanting to get married.  I have friends and family that love me and will be there for me, and that's not a big fear of mine.  I do want to be married, and I do want to have kids.  I want both of those things equally, and in very different ways.
Out of the two desires, though, the greater fear lies in not ever having kids.
And just for clarity's sake, when I say "having kids" I'm not really referring to the biological process of pregnancy and child-birth (though I think that would be a pretty awesome thing to experience, leading up to raising a child).  More than anything, I want tiny people in my life who call me mommy, and ask me crazy questions, who will grow up to be adult people in my life who still ask me crazy questions, because they know they can bring me their crazy, and still be loved.
In a nutshell, if I don't ever have kids, I will always feel like there was some part of me that was denied life.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Told you this posting-every-day thing wouldn't last.

I am pretty proud of the fact that I was able to do it as long as I did!
And don't you worry - I'm not leaving you for good.  But, really, the past couple of days' prompts for writing were just a little...immature(?)...for my taste (first love and first kiss/night of your 21st birthday/tattoos you have and their meanings [okay, so maybe that one wasn't immature - just not applicable here]).  I mean, I could tell you about my incredibly awkward first kiss, or about the recent realization I've come to that I've probably never been in love.  I could also tell you that I don't remember my 21st birthday - and not because I got drunk, just because I had no interest in celebrating it in a typical American-College-Student way, and probably went out for dinner with friends or something - but those just didn't feel like blog posts that anyone would get any enjoyment out of. Neither I from writing them, nor you from reading them.

So, we come to today's topic, which was definitely worthy:

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I always hated the "Where do you see yourself in five years?" interview question, because my heart answer was always "In a happy little home with 2 or 3 kids," while my mouth answer had to be something more like "In [insert name of leadership position] with [insert name of company], hopefully having used my creative abilities to add [insert name of program that would advance company goals]."

Oh yeah, I knew how to do it the right way.  After all, I worked in career services, and coached everybody else on how to be successful in their job search.

But my answer to that question has changed significantly.  I'm not sure there will ever again be that significant of a difference in my heart answer and my mouth answer.  At this point in my life, I don't really have a desire to ever enter the 8-5 office job world again.  I enjoyed being in that type of environment, being able to serve and help make other people's lives a little bit easier, but the way I answer this question now has much more to do with my heart than logic.

If threre's anything the last four or so years of my life has taught me, it's that you never know how things will turn out.
No.  That's too mild a way of saying it: Things will turn out differently than you expect.

So, now, I'm learning that I lean very heavily toward creativity.  I've got enough life experience under my belt to know that I cannot possibly predict where my personal life will be in seven years - there's no way of knowing where I'll be living, and with whom, and why.

But I do know what I'm working toward in my "professional" life.  There are three specific areas I'm working towards, but they all need more work than I'm giving them right now, so maybe this is me writing it out to keep myself accountable.

1)  I've recently been given an opportunity to work with a writing curriculum as a training consultant, which basically means I'll go to schools after they've adopted the curriculum, and train their teachers to implement the curriculum in their classrooms.
Writing and literacy are my passions, so to be able to do this for a company that I believe in is beyond amazing, but y'all!  It's almost like I've been afraid to make it happen.  I'm in the middle of training, and the next part is completely in my hands, and I'm just petrified to complete it...
I don't know what it is, but it's almost like I feel like this is too good to be true, so I don't want to invest in it for fear of losing something I've been happy about - like I'd rather leave it in my future, because as soon as I put it in my present, it'll be headed into my past.
But that is the WRONG way to look at this, and the job itself is one that requires a lot of effort on my part if I'm going to go anywhere with it, so I'd better start making efforts now, at the beginning.

2)  In case you weren't aware, I have an etsy shop where I sell homemade earrings (and, hopefully, sometime in the future, more than just earrings).  You can find it here.  Or just type in your browser.
The thing about that is, just like so many other things I do, I started it, and it didn't magically bloom into a thriving business, so I just set it aside and didn't do anything actively to make it grow.  I've recently begun studying up on how I can be more intentional and strategic in building it up over the next year - learning from other creatives and using marketing strategies that work for me, so hopefully you will hear more about that in the coming months.  I had big dreams of doing a Holiday marketing blitz, but I feel like I need to focus on other things this holiday season, and just steadily build up my little etsy platform with the goal of maybe doing something huge next holiday season after I've learned more about what actually works for me and my little shop.

3)  Grad School is still on my horizon as far as I'm concerned, but it's probably going to have to wait at least another five years, if not seven, for too many reasons to list here.  But here I am, putting it on this list, because I really do want to make it happen one of these days.  The nice thing is that my goal isn't grad school for grad school's sake.  I want a Master's Degree because I would love to one day teach college writing.  I don't know what I mean by "one day" - Lord willing, maybe it won't be until after I've raised a passel of kids, and taught them how to write.

Nonetheless, someday I'm going to wake up and realize that one day is here, and when that happens, I want to have the skills to meet the day confidently.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

When your blog prompt is completely lame, it's okay to desert the expected for something way better.

I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life this weekend.  My friend Christa (one of the six best friends, and one who might as well be a sister - I can honestly say she and I have been friends longer than I've been friends with my actual sisters...) had a baby, and invited me to be her official photographer at the hospital.  She ended up having a C-section, and I didn't document that part, but I got to be at the hosoital with her family the entire time, and capture so many sweet moments that I will never forget.

She's given me permission to post a few photos here, so I'm actually delivering on the promise I made y'all the other day!

Join me and Madeline's family in welcoming her to this wide world:

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Little cousins meeting for the first time is the cutest thing!

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I promise everybody also loved on her, but this moment, with everybody pulling out their phones hit my funny bone, and I just had to capture it.

Oh my word, watching my friends become parents has been so incredible.  The way they looked at her is something just as new as she is - it's a fierce, deep, protective love I can only assume you never feel until a tiny human suddenly belongs to you, and depends on you for their every need.

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I really didn't want to leave at the end of the day when the nurse finally told us we couldn't come back into the room.  Something about being in the presence of such a new person just slows down time and makes life seem utterly peaceful.

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I went to a friend's house afterward, and just sat there in a chair, processing and soaking up all the little left-over bits of the day.

I went back to the hospital to document the morning they were released, and when I walked in, it was the same calm - just Mom, Dad, and Baby, together in a quiet, dim room - and I almost hated to disturb them, but they told me to hold her (didn't have to twist my arm for that) and before I knew it, an hour had passed of us just sitting there, soaking up her delicious new-born-ness.

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When Christa's mom walked in, I had to hand her over, but I didn't do it til then...
Seriously, would you just look at these happy people!

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Okay, okay.  In case you're dying of curiosity, my prompt was "a fruit you don't like."
Y'all, I cannot come up with a fruit I don't like.

I'm at a loss, because I just really love fruit.
Maybe more often than not with a little sugar alongside it...
That's all I have to say about that.

But I really am kind of wondering if there is a fruit I don't like?  Anyone who actually knows me want to weigh in and remind me if there is one?

Monday, November 9, 2015

Do I really have to choose just one?

Today's prompt is "A book you love and one you didn't" - seriously?  "A book?"  Only one?

This bookshelf sits in my home patiently holding books that are high on my to-read list, books I'm in the middle of, and books I read/refer to often enough that they need to be handy:

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One thing that isn't on this shelf is my Anne of Green Gables series - I finally had to put them away because I would have just re-read them over and over, without ever reading anything else.  Rilla of Ingleside, the last in the series is probably one of my all-time favorite books.  I've read it at least twice as many times as the rest of the series.  It's just so wonderful, and though the story itself is a little too full of coincidences, it appeals to the entire range of human emotions.
Really, though?  I'm just a sucker for a good coming-of-age story.
I think I read it at just exactly the right time - I was the same age as Rilla when I first read it, and I understood literally everything she felt.  As much as it is a little bit less than believable as far as story-line goes (thanks, writing classes for knocking a tiny bit of magic out of my ability to read light fiction), everything about the teenage main character is S-P-O-T O-N, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a sweet, comfortable, feel-good story.

One Thousand Gifts is one of the few books I've ever read that I just really didn't like.  I've read blog posts by Ann Voskamp that I really enjoyed, but I just couldn't enjoy her writing style translated into book form.
I also may have read this one at the wrong time - I had just been through my own journey of learning to be grateful for the little things in life, so I really felt like the book wasn't showing me anything I didn't know.  Also, I didn't sense any real story arc going on, and I just felt very stuck in the middle while reading it.  I eventually came to a part where she spent way too much time describing rainbowy soap bubbles, and I just put the book down, feeling like there were better ways to spend my time than reading the same thoughts over and over.

It's still sitting on my shelf, though, in hopes that maybe there will come a time when I'm in the right frame of mind to pick it up again.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Interloper

Today my subject is "a family member you dislike" - not exactly the best choice for a somewhat public platform.
Hi, family reading this blog!

Really, though, there isn't a single member of my family, immediate or extended, that I don't like.  I sat for a little while, trying to come up with one, but I just couldn't do it.  And I'm not saying that because they may or may not be lurking around reading.  Even if I was doing this challenge in a journal, with the guarantee that no one would see it, I wouldn't be able to come up with a single family member I dislike.

When it comes to pets, though, there is one who is less than my favorite. dun dun dun.

A certain cat joined the family after I moved away.
I don't know that I really dislike her.  I just don't like her.

Actually, rewind: let's just establish that I do have a mild cat allergy, so liking a cat in the first place is rather an up-hill battle for me.  Despite that fact, though, I really have loved two of the several cats who have belonged to my family over the years.

The First One came into our family shortly before I moved to college, and he very quickly wriggled his way into my heart.  I can't spend much time with him because of being allergic, but he is so very wonderful.  He just wants to love and be loved.  He has never shown the tiniest bit of feistiness toward anyone that I've ever seen.
Ironically, the other cat whom I have loved couldn't have cared less whether or not I loved her, and would frequently box and bite my ankles just because I walked past her...

A few years ago, the Interloper joined my family, immediately adopting our home as her realm, and never minding how we felt about it.  She reigns supreme, and if her servants do not feed or pet her as required, they will know her disapproval by unidentifiable sounds and unnervingly steady eye-contact from the largest green eyes you have ever seen in the face of a petite cat.

All this, really, I could be fine with, and still like her fairly well, though probably not as much as the precious First One, but there is a portion of her behavior that is just inexcusable.

She is constantly mean to the First One, and he is too sweet and yielding to stand up for himself.

It's really the saddest thing in the world to me.  She doesn't even need provocation - he can be innocently minding his own business, and she just ambushes him to make sure he still knows she's in charge around here.  She torments his poor little heart out - as soon as he's settled comfortably in a sunny spot for a little nap, she pushes him out of it, sits in it for two minutes, then moves elsewhere, because she didn't really care about that spot in the first place.  She just wants to constantly aggravate him.

Honestly, I live in constant fear he'll decide one day that it's too much to deal with and he's just going to move in with the neighbors...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My First Attempt at Being a Fashion Blogger

Well, I knew it would happen eventually, and tonight's the night.  I drew the slip that says "What You Wore Today."
*Insert monkey-covering-eyes emoji here*
Despite my feelings regarding selfies, I do follow a number of fashion bloggers, so I figured I might as well do this thing right, hence, my first attempt at fashion blogging:
and a few things I learned while I was at it

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Y'all.  It is NOT easy to take self-portraits.  As natural as I hope this looks (who am I kidding...) it does not feel natural at all.
Also, you'll have to try multiple different camera angles, and move every lamp in your house to different locations.

This morning, I went up to the hospital to take some more pictures of my dear friend Christa and her brand new little family of three.
A sampling of those pictures may be forthcoming! But no guarantees around here...
I don't know about y'all, but I always freeze in Hospitals, so I opted for long sleeves and boots.  Good choice, considering that it turned out cold and rainy all day.

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After about 20,385,830,257,943,750 pictures, you might begin to feel a little more comfortable.

Shirt//Belk   Jeggings//J.C. Penney   Boots//Sold Out Similar Here

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If you do this long enough, you'll end up just laughing at yourself, and that, my friends, is the sweet spot.
And you might even finally understand why your dance teacher always said you had chicken arms...

I was so excited to finally have the chance to wear this shirt, because the sleeves actually fit my crazy-long arms.  I always end up cuffing the sleeves on button-downs because they end just above my wrists in a super awkward spot, but these - no such thing.  They end exactly where they should!

On an entirely different subject, please excuse the less than stellar carpet and wall color in my dwelling... I only rent, so tearing up and replacing permanent fixtures is frowned upon.
Someday, I will fulfill my dream of flipping a house or two, but, sadly, this is not the time or place.

Friday, November 6, 2015

I'm Probably Crazy

Today, I drew the paper that said "Something you miss."

The fact is, I miss a lot of things.  Some of them are actual physical things you can hold in your hand, and some of them are more figurative, and don't even get me started on the people I miss...

But the paper asked about a thing, and as materialistic and silly as this may seem, my first thought was this dress.

I only got to wear that dress once - on my college graduation day.  I paired it with my string of pearls, and felt exactly like Audrey Hepburn.

It was the perfect little black dress for me - simple, clean, and classy.

Unfortunately, though, in the post-graduation-moving-halfway-across-the-state shuffle, it (and several other nice dresses) got donated instead of packed.  Camp life didn't require me to attend a ton of events with the little black dress uniform, so I didn't discover that it was missing until several months later.  I actually went to the Women's Shelter store to see if I could find it, but no such luck.  I told one of the employees what had happened, and how long ago it had been, and she looked at me like I was truly crazy.

Maybe I am crazy, but 5 moves later, I still find myself hoping it might mysteriously turn up again one day.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sometimes Things Just Work Out Perfectly

Today, my childhood best friend had a baby, and I was the designated photographer at the hospital, which was a complete joy, but I am tired - I can't even imagine how exhausted she is!

As a result of that tiredness, I'm grateful that the slip of paper I drew for tonight's blog said "Put your music player on shuffle and write the first three songs that play and what your initial thought is."

Easy breezy lemon squeezy:
Not entirely sure I've ever said that in real life, but I'm going to leave it there anyway.

  1. Next to Me - Emeli Sandé - I have a very distinct memory of taking the backroads home from a friend's house in my early years post-college, feeling entirely young and wild and free, with this song playing on the radio - that memory is the reason I bought the song, so that's what I thought of.
  2. Movie Loves a Screen - April Smith and the Great Picture Show - This song is just a make-you-happy-no-matter-what song, also, my go-to dance-like-crazy-in-the-kitchen song, so just a general flood of happiness ensued.
  3. Put Your Records On - Corinne Bailey Rae - My ultimate favorite song ever.  If I tell you a different song is my favorite, it's just a temporary thing, and I will eventually return to my first love.  Really - this is the first song I ever fell deeply in love with.
Aaaaaaaand, that's all, folks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Reality Check

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Well, I could tell you about what I'd like to think my morning routine looks like
I could tell you how my morning actually went down today
I could do both:

I've never been super attached to the idea of a set-in-stone routine, and though I've been at the same job for a little over a year and a half now, my schedule has pretty much changed constantly over the course of that time - nothing that could be helped, and quite frankly something I've enjoyed about my job.  As much as I'm really not a fan of change (I like to have a plan), I do tend to get bored with the same thing over and over.  All these schedule changes gave me the opportunity to pursue various new things as different time-frames during the day opened up.

With my most recent schedule change, I ended up not going to work until 11, and I know myself well enough to know that, just because I could, I would sleep away my morning until such time as I had to get up to go to work.

That being so, I designed this morning routine that would make me actually get up at a decent hour, and laid it all out in my journal:

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  • My alarm goes off at 6:45, and I let myself snooze it until 7ish - I'm working on learning to get up before my alarm goes off if I wake up feeling rested
  • I always keep my water bottle by my bed at night, so first thing when I get up, I drink whatever water is left in there
  • Make coffee and have a quiet time - write out gratitude/answer Bible Study questions for the week.
  • Make a green smoothie (theoretically, every Sunday, I stock the freezer with "smoothie packs" for the week - all the fruit I need for a smoothie in a plastic bag with the amounts of liquid base I'll need and any ingredients that shouldn't freeze listed on the outside of the bag)
  • Get dressed + ready for the day + make bed + tidy bedroom and bathroom
Sounds pretty great, right?  And it really is when I actually carry through and make it happen, but some days that just doesn't work out so well for me.  As an example, here's what my morning actually looked like today:

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  • Dragged myself out of bed at 6:45, drank my water, and discovered that I was out of coffee creamer.  Now, my love for coffee is pretty strong, but rather conditional on the availability of cream and sugar...
  • Curled up on the couch, mourning the loss of morning coffee, checked emails, and might have dozed off for a minute or two?
  • Looked at the clock to discover that it was 7:41! (Yoga class is at 8...)
  • Suddenly realized I was starving, and hadn't made smoothie packs for this week, so raided the cabinet and found graham crackers and almond butter
  • Threw on work-out clothes and headed out the door, except no!  The "tidying" part of my routine hasn't been happening this week, and I just tossed my keys somewhere when I got home last night, so I can't find them now
  • Found my keys on the bedside table, and looked at my bed, considering whether I should or should not make it - I'm washing linens today and I'm already late, so might as well not.
  • Hit the gym
Side note:  I just really wanted to say that... I'm still such a newb at the whole "working out" thing.  This month, I bought my first gym membership, mostly for the fact that there are yoga and ballet exercise classes in the morning, but I have some time between the two classes, so I'm trying to learn how to use at least the basic equipment.  
This morning, I felt like I was handling the treadmill like a boss, then I did the whole fall off the back of it thing, so that was great...
  • Ran to the grocery store for creamer, and while I was there, remembered I need toothpaste too.
  • Felt like I finally got my life back on track, then got home to realize it was body wash I was out of, not toothpaste...
I guess you win some and you lose some.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Let's discuss the fact that I'm not married.

My topic for today was "Your current relationship; if single, discuss that."
Well, I'm single, and I have a lot of thoughts about that, and I actually already had a draft all about it, so here's a long-winded post for your Tuesday:

*I wrote this a while back, hence the titles of old articles that aren't really floating around any more.  It took me awhile to decide to post it because hurting anyone who loves me is the furthest thing from my intentions. But sometimes people who love us say things with the best of intentions and still end up hurting us, so here I am, hoping that I can be gracious and make my point at the same time.*

Lately there have been a lot of articles and blog entries shared on Facebook about marriage - "5 Reasons I Got Engaged Before 23", "23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23",  "26, unmarried, and childless", and "I Wasn't Ready For Marriage" to name a few.

Apparently 23 is a trendy age at which to get married?  I remember when I was 20, and signed up to work on Sumer Staff at camp, and a well-meaning friend of my Mom's said to me "That is such a great idea!  You could meet a really nice man there!"

I was recently asked "So, are you engaged or married?"
Apparently there wasn't a "single" option.

Once, I off-handedly mentioned to someone that three of my closest friends were married to men they'd met at camp.  She replied "And I'm sure you will be too, one day."
(Not the point of the conversation, in case you were wondering.)

Some time back, at a wedding shower no less, I ran into someone who hadn't seen me in a while, and she innocently said "I can't remember, are you married?"
Before I could even open my mouth to respond, another lady jumped in and said "No. She's still waiting."

This list could go on...

Really, though, I know that none of these women meant any harm by their words.  They were just trying to be friendly and encouraging.  Regardless of the intentions, though, it's hard to hear things like this all of the time.

If I'm honest with you, as I try to be on this blog, I have to admit, sooner or later, that The-Thing-I-Really-Want-To-Do-With-My-Life is to be somebody's wife, and mother to a few somebodies.

That's it.
Yes, I want to write and write, and write.
Yes, I want to get a Master's degree eventually.
And yes, it is a big dream of mine to someday teach college students who hate English to love it and express themselves well through writing it.
These are dreams and goals that I have, and am pursuing.

But the biggest dream is one I can't accomplish on my own.

It's one I may not accomplish.

Did you catch that?  I just said I may not ever get married or have kids.
If you think that was easy for me to say, let me tell you right now, it wasn't.

The fact is, though, that I have no assurance, no firm promise, that I will have those things that I want so much.
Jesus and I have had a lot of conversations about this, and my poor mother has had to answer her fair share of weepy phone calls about it.

And you know what?  I've received a lot of encouragement through those conversations with Jesus, and phone calls with my mother, but assurance that "my turn" will, in fact, come "one day"?  There's none.

Zip, Zero, Nada.

I'm learning that just the fact that I have a desire for something doesn't mean it's going to be a part of my life.

I may end up being the awesome old English teacher who lives in a house full of windows, where the tea kettle is always boiling, with a Cottage Garden in the front, and a yard full of dogs in the back.
(I'm allergic to cats.  Otherwise, I'd probably include "Cat-lady" here...)

Right now, as I write that image, I'm smiling.  I'm learning to be okay happy with it.

Ultimately, friends?  Jesus is enough.

I am, in fact, happy with this point in my life, with the extended (maybe life-long!) chance to invest in the girls that surround me without feeling guilty about taking time away from a family, to speak truth into the lives of many others, and be available 24/7.
I am happy to play "Auntie" to my friends' wonderful children - those who are already here, and those who are coming.
I am happy, so happy, that I have the freedom to travel whenever I like, and visit my friends who have gotten married and thus been scattered to the 4 Winds.

That has not been an easy road.  I didn't willingly rush into the arms of this new kind of happiness.

I have drug my feet, and this road has even been made a little harder by all the well-meaning women in my life who tell me things like "Don't worry.  Your turn will come."

Simply put, I'm happy here now.  I'm not worrying.

But if you tell me not to worry, I'm going to start worrying, and I'm going to fix my eyes on things other than Jesus and where He's leading me.  If you tell me my turn will come, I'm going to start clinging to a false assurance that is not from Him. 
The hard thing about all of this is that these people who love me may be fully convinced their words are true, but the fact is, at this point in my life, those words are not true for me, and are not what I need to be focusing on.

My family and my friends have never pushed me into matrimony.  They've never told me that it was my only choice, or even that it was the best choice, but, regardless, we live in a world where marriage is such a huge focus.

It's such a huge focus, that we're choosing sides about whether we should be engaged before we're 23.
It's such a huge focus, that we assume everyone who wants to be married is going to be married eventually, and we talk in those terms.

When I say "we," I'm talking to myself too.  I'm just as guilty of dishing out these platitudes as anyone else.  It's almost an automatic response in our society.

But, I want to suggest a better way.  Let's not discuss the fact that I'm not married yet.
Let's just discuss the fact that I'm not married.
Let's discuss the fact that there are lots of good things about this time.
"But that's the discussion we've always had," you may say to me.
Yes that's true, but these discussions almost always end with "And when you are married..."

Let's not do that.

Also?  Please tell me funny stories about your kids and grandkids.
Tell me about that hilarious moment you had with your husband last week.
And, if you're really ready to trust me, tell me about that argument you're in the middle of.

I have friends who are married, and who have children, and I've managed to keep up these friendships through receiving and giving this type of transparency.  It may seem weird to talk to a single, childless woman about your marriage or children.  But really, think about how boring life would be if we only talked about things we both fully understood or were comfortable with.

A dear friend of mine put it perfectly the other day when she said "Sometimes I feel like a non-person."

We're not Moms, or wives, but neither are we just waiting around or in between.
We are people, fully formed adult people with intelligence, and self-control, and understanding, and empathy.

Even though our lives now look very different, there's no reason we can't relate.  We're both human, and, ultimately, have the same struggles, just in different environments.

And when I trust you enough to bring my heart to you, handle it with care, knowing that you (and I) have no idea how my life will turn out.

I will try to give you that same respect, because, honestly, we could have this discussion about any number of life stages.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Let's Talk About Social Media

For my first topic in this November challenge, I ended up drawing the slip of paper that corresponded to the first day of the challenge - what are the odds of that?

Seriously, somebody *cough* mathematician-brother-in-law *cough* figure that out and tell me, because I actually kinda want to know.

I'm supposed to write about "Five Problems with Social Media" and it shouldn't be too hard for me to come up with those, but really?  Could we not start this out on a more positive note?

Let's just see what I can do with this:

  • We're constantly competing with our friends' phone screens/social media accounts for their attention.  I personally don't watch movies for entertainment.  I could count on one hand the amount of times I have sat in my house by myself and thought "I really want to watch a movie."  This is something I do with friends as a way of spending time with them, but lately I've noticed every time a friend suggests movie night, we're not sitting around looking at a glowing screen and talking about what's happening 10 feet in front of us.  We're really just each individually absorbed in the glowing screen one foot in front of us instead.  Same goes for dinner out - this was once a time reserved for spending face-to-face time with people, but no more - we're constantly checking our instagram, twitter, facebook, blog, etc.
What is the deal here?  Are we afraid they're going to disappear if we don't connect with them every 5 minutes?  What about the actual friends in front of us?  What'll happen if they really do disappear because we ceased connecting with them in significant ways?

  • Social media is a great vehicle for jealousy.  We're all putting our best foot forward, so to speak, and we're all afraid to put our mess out there for everybody to look at.  Consequently, we think we're the only ones in the world that have a mess, because we don't see anybody else's mess on social media.
Preaching to the choir, but seriously.  What kind of messed up logic is this that we assume we're the only ones masking our life here.

  • Social media inhibits our ability to acknowledge each other's basic humanity in a major way - it's so easy to shoot off a quick, maybe cruel, comment or message when all you're looking at is a perfect smiling face on a 4.7-inch screen.
Let's all just agree to take a breath and re-read before sending anything that could be even slightly hurtful. Just consider for a minute how we, in all of our tender thin skin, would feel if somebody said exactly that to us.

  • People find you.  Creepy people can find you, and you can even engage with them thinking that they're harmless.  This is a reality a lot of us become numbed to, because social media is so easily logged out of or locked, but it's also super easy to unwisely put too much out there and get into trouble for it.
Sometimes even, as sad as this might sound, you just need separation from a person in your past - maybe a past relationship that will keep holding you back unless you cut ties, or just someone who has hurt you emotionally.  These ties to our past are So. Much. Harder. to cut than they were before the advent of facebook, etc.

  • Social Media is MURDERING good grammar.  Maybe I punctuated that last sentence in the above paragraph the way I did because I wanted to make a point here, or maybe I did it just because it somehow seems appropriate since everybody else does it.
I'm as guilty of this as the next person, but that doesn't mean it doesn't make me sad that "proper grammar" may be a thing of the past by the time my children are old enough to learn about it.
People, what if a sentence someday becomes just an old-fashioned convention nobody uses anymore?!

Somebody please stop me before I really become a drama queen about this.

Whew!  I just wrote a list of five negative things about social media!  Where's my award?

But really, I couldn't close this post without saying a few good things too:

Social media keeps me in touch with people I would have lost contact with by now if I'd lived a generation ago.

In my past, I was blessed to work with people from all over the world (I'd like to think I'd have housing, or at least connections, if I wanted to travel almost anywhere on this big planet).  My mom at my age would never have been able to keep up with as many people in as many different places as I have.

I can make friends with people anywhere - I'm not restricted to meeting people in person.

Before I say anything else about this, let me be perfectly clear - no one should ever have only online friends - there is no substitute for an actual make-eye-contact, touch-your-hand, buy-you-ice-cream friend in your real world, but I am learning that online friends are fun too.

Remember pen pals from when we were little?  I have one of those that I met on Instagram, and I am so happy we're in each other's life "for real" now.  Maybe I'll actually get to buy her ice cream someday.
Also, no one should just throw personal information out there willy-nilly because they think they made a friend - always always be careful and wise in your actions and words.

And finally, networking! Most of us could theoretically get a job anywhere on this green earth through just putting out feelers to our friends on social media. 

In more personal aspects of life, even - tonight, I sent an email to a random blogger, just to tell her she'd sprinkled a little inspiration onto my life, and she actually replied, expressing interest in supporting me along the way.  How wonderful is that?

Social media is truly amazing if used wisely.

Wow. It has been a little while.

And I have seriously missed blogging, but obviously not enough to take a stab at creating more than one measly draft in the time since my last post...

I think I miss blogging in a weird way - I don't necessarily think about it when I'm not working on it, but I know my life is just a little happier when I'm taking advantage of this great creative outlet.

I recently happily discovered this blog where a fellow alum of my University is chronicling one year of her life.  I don't know what she'll do on her next birthday, but I seriously hope she'll continue.  Everything I've read so far is delightful, and she has inspired me to do the same with my 28th year.  I've heard that each decade's -9 year is the most difficult, but I have a sneaking suspicion that 28 may not be my favorite, just because of the fact that my worst years have generally been the even ones.

All that to say, making a point to write once a day will only make it better, no matter how it turns out.

I'd been tossing this adea around in my head, and looking forward to starting on December 8th, when I saw that another friend was starting a November writing challenge - not NaNoWriMo, which I have never tried to conquer - just a simple topic each day, all except one of which looked like they would be fun to write about.  Since I'm starting on November 2nd, I figured I'd just leave out the one that seemed less-than-pleasant to me...

Theoretically, there's a topic for each day of November, but I decided, rather than following the pattern (because really, when have I ever done that well), I'll just write each topic on a slip of paper and draw one topic a day.

So I've got that going for November, but then I have 7 intervening days before my birthday.

What to do, what to do?

Friends, I have 10 drafts sitting in this entire blog, three of which were never really intended for publication anyway.  What's 10 minus three?



So, you can now look forward to hearing from me every day until New Year's Eve, 2016.

Bah!  We all know that's a lie - I'll fail and skip days in there somewhere, but if there's one thing I've learned from past resolutions, it's how to dust myself off and pick up where I left off instead of just sweeping the whole idea under a rug.

Here's hoping you'll join me on this little adventure!

Monday, March 16, 2015

The One About Motives

There's a pretty strong theme in the scriptures, and in the Christian faith in general, of checking your motives.  The Bible talks frequently about how God searches the heart, and judges by that, rather than the outer appearance.

There's a pretty strong theme in my life too - checking my motives too much.  Many times, I just don't make a decision I should make, for fear of making it based on the wrong motives, regardless of what might be considered right or wrong.

Should I be friends with this person I just met? Well, what are my motives?  Am I selfishly seeking a friendship for proximity to others, or social standing, or solid style advice?  Or am I selflessly seeking a friendship to be an encouragement to others, or to help somebody learn helpful life skills (knitting and efficient dishwasher-loading seem to be my areas of expertise, in case you were wondering), or to share this love that has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit?

Should I post this picture?  Well, what are my motives?  Am I selfishly posting this picture to get people to notice how cool my life is?  Or am I selflessly posting it to spread a little more love and light (and coffee, if we're honest here) in the world?

Well, Es.  How about you stop questioning so much, and just DO THE THING.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether you're doing it for the "right" reasons or not, befriending someone is always the right thing to do.
And, as far as pictures go, I can't think of a reason to ever not spread beauty in this world.  We always need more light.

Should I pick up this hitch-hiker?

Bet you didn't think this post would go there, did you?

The fact is, more often than not, what stops me from picking up random people on the road is not the fact that my responsible safety-conscious parents drilled it into my head that I should not pick up strangers on the road when I was first learning to drive.  It really usually just ends up being a question of motives, and, by the time I've finished questioning my motives, I'm five miles past the hitch-hiker, and it's not really a question at all anymore, unless I'm not late to anything (which is never, in case you were wondering)...

This past weekend, on my way to Austin for a lunch date that I was barely going to be on time for, I saw a man on the side of the road, standing in the rain, holding out his thumb.  He was an older black man with a short thick mop of graying curly hair.  He smiled, looking open and friendly as we drove past, the whole train of us stuck behind that one 18-wheeler going 10 miles below the speed limit.

I was the caboose of that train, and I felt an overwhelming urge to stop when I noticed the hope in his eyes, even as I, the very last car, drove past.  He looked like such a kind man, I thought.  But did I stop?

No. I didn't.  I began questioning my motives, because, evidently, that's what I do best.

I looked in my rear-view mirror and watched him slowly put his arm down by his side and drop his shoulders in what looked like utter defeat.  But did I turn around?  No.

Instead, I questioned myself further.

Y'all.  The man needed a ride, and I didn't give him one, because I was busy trying to decide if I was going to do it for the right reasons.  I'm pretty sure it didn't ultimately matter what my reasons were. I ignored the urging of the Holy Spirit, choosing instead to have a fruitless conversation with myself.

Then, on my way home from work tonight, I saw this lady huffing and puffing up one of the biggest hills in town, and thought to myself, as I really often do, "I should give her a ride."

And you know what I did?

I questioned my motives - am I only thinking of offering her a ride in some confused effort at redeeming myself from a bad decision made this weekend?

I bet you thought I gave her a ride immediately, huh?  No.  I'm not that great.  But I did catch myself - I thought, you know what?  I can keep doing this all day, or I can just listen to the Spirit in me, waiting to speak.  So I stopped, literally at a stop sign, and figuratively in my heart, and I listened.  A second later, I was rolling down the window and asking her if she needed a ride.  She did, and she hustled over to my passenger side.

You know, I really wish, for my sake, more than anything, that I could say it was the best experience ever - that I got to share Jesus, and help her feel better about life, and any number of other good things.

But, really, she just sat there, listening to Andy Grammer on my radio and enjoying my air conditioning, and we chatted a little bit about the weather, and how cute her little neighborhood was.  Then she got out, and I noticed that my car smelled like cigarette smoke, which invariably gives me a headache.  So, no, it definitely wasn't a glowing experience, but at least I finally just took action when it needed to be taken, instead of trying to figure out what my motives were for said action.

This is by no means a call to pick up every random person on the side of the road, or a call to start making rash decisions, but rather an invitation to believers to embrace the freedom of listening to the Holy Spirit inside of you rather than drowning Him out with your own arguments and opinions.

Sometimes you just need to do the thing, regardless of why you're doing it.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Crunchy Chronicles Continue

Evidently, despite my supposed problem with making resolutions, February has become my "big hygiene changes" month.

Last year, it was starting oil cleansing, and trying no-poo again.

The oil cleansing is still showing incredible results, and I could not be more thrilled with it, a little over a year later. I don't think I'll ever buy another bottle of face wash again.

The no-poo, however? Not so much.  I LOVED it for quite a while, but was never able to find a satisfactory way to deep condition my ends, and I knew they needed more than just apple cider vinegar to be healthy.  By August, I'd really begun to feel like my hair was in trouble - the ends were incredibly dry, despite the fact that I had even caved and begun using a commercial deep conditioner.  The rest of it was beginning to feel rather dry and brittle as well.  I eventually just decided to return to regular shampoo and conditioner.  My hair began to feel stronger, and I went to the salon to get the ends cut off.  I told the girl to cut off whatever was needed to make it healthy again, and she held up about three and a half inches and asked if I was okay with that much coming off.  I reiterated that I wanted her to take whatever was needed, and she said if I really meant that, she'd like to take off about five inches.

Yikes!  But I said yes, because I wanted my hair healthy.  Then and there, I decided no-poo was not for me.

Whew!  Maybe I'll never have to say "poo" on my blog again!

Shortly thereafter, a friend posted this link on facebook and tagged me.  If you've done your research, you know that I was thoroughly convinced that the science behind the original no-poo (Whoops.  There it is.) article I read was legitimate, and, really, who knows, maybe it was, and that girl is still thrilled with her hair.  If so, more power to her, but the science in this latest article seemed pretty legitimate too, and also happened to be corroborated by my own experience.  If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that we all have very different needs for our skin and hair care. (Seriously, why else are there sooooooo many different options in that department at Target?)

So, I began to get stir-crazy for a different way to take care of my hair without a ton of chemicals.  Then, Baby Sister suddenly announced that she was going to go a month without using any shampoo, so she did, with lots of dry-shampoo, baby powder, and corn starch usage.  I tried it along with her, and decided I really didn't want to do that, because I still felt like I was putting a bunch of unnecessary junk in my hair.

But then I did my research, and found a whole community of people who have stopped using shampoo, and have started using... Nothing!  That's right. No shampoo, and no replacement either.  This caught my attention.
It seemed that most of these folks would use apple cider vinegar every once in a while if they "needed" it.  But none of them explained exactly what constituted that need.  Many of them also conditioned with coconut oil, and quite a few of them washed with an egg every once in a while.

Yep.  They washed their hair with eggs.  Weirdos.

But hey, I'm a weirdo too, so I decided to try it.  Y'all.  My hair is amazing.  As you know, I'm not into selfies, but I posted this picture on instagram recently because, seriously, look at that fantastic un-washed hair!

20 days with no shampoo!

Alright, so I'm sure you want to know the actual routine.  Caveat:  I didn't go into this specifically trying to simplify my routine or save money, or anything like that.  I just wanted to get unnecessary chemicals out of my life as much as I can.  So this isn't the kind of thing that is going to make life easier because you suddenly just never have to wash your hair.  I still spend basically the same amount of time in the shower.  I just don't use shampoo.  Instead, I give myself a serious scalp massage under hot water - like I probably "scrub" more than I did when I was using shampoo.  And that's it!

I tried to use apple cider vinegar, I really did, because I felt like it was necessary since so many other people said they used it when "needed."  But every time I used it, it just made my hair oily really quickly.  I do like what it does for my ends, though, so I think I may try just putting it on them.

This is really just one big experiment, and I'll hopefully be putting more updates up here about what works for me.

One thing I've discovered is really essential to make this work is a boar-bristle brush.  I brush my hair with mine every day, and it helps distribute the natural oils through my hair so they can help it stay healthy.  And I'm talking a real brush-through every evening.  This takes time!
One bonus about a boar-bristle brush is that it works really well for pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail or bun, if that's something you like to do.  It just makes my hair lay so smoothly against my head!

I've also discovered a good way to deep condition with Coconut Oil!  Every 10 days or so, or whenever my ends begin to feel a bit dry, I take a tiny tiny bit, and massage it into the ends of my hair in the evening, then bundle it all up on top of my head in a high bun, and sleep on it, then I wash my hair with an egg yolk the next morning, and it washes the coconut oil right out. Crazy, right?

The really crazy thing is that I really don't see much difference in how the roots of my hair look after just scrubbing them, and actually washing with an egg - they're equally clean both ways!

A note about washing your hair with eggs:  You certainly can wash your hair with both the yolk and white, but I've heard that this can actually leave cooked bits of egg white in your hair if you use really hot water, so I'm not about to do it.

If you're at all like me, though, and really hate the idea of wasting anything, have no fear!  You don't need to throw out that egg white.  Just put it in an air tight container, and use it as a face mask.  Seriously, just smear that plain egg white all over your face, and leave it for 10-20 minutes.  (You will feel your skin getting tight!)  Then just rinse it off with water and a rag.  Your skin will feel so soft and moisturized afterwards!  You do need to store it in the fridge, and use it pretty shortly after cracking it, because it will start to smell truly rotten if you don't watch out.  I usually can get 2 or 3 masks from a single egg yolk.

While we're on the subject of faces and not wasting things, let's also go ahead and talk about exfoliating with coffee grounds.  Y'all.  It's seriously the best thing.  I sort of forgot about it because I had a semi-traumatic experience:
The fact is, I drink way more coffee than I will ever be able to use to exfoliate my face, but when I began this particular regimen, I got really excited about the prospect of not throwing out coffee grounds, and saved all of them!  They collected in a container in my fridge, and began GROWING MOLD.  If there's anything I hate worse than not wasting things, it's mold, so out they went, and I decided this just wasn't a good idea at all.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, my life is basically a series of dramatic ups and downs...

Eventually, I realized I just had to resign myself to not using all of them, but just keeping them on-hand in small batches, and using up each small batch before I replenish them.

I've just had to learn the hard way that, when I'm using mostly natural things in my hair and body care, they're going to behave as natural things do without any preservatives - they're going to get stinky and gross if I don't use them quickly.

So, I'm sure now you're naturally wondering if, in reality, I'm stinky and gross.  Don't worry - I've wondered that myself quite frequently, because I've always heard that you don't really notice your own smell.

So, today, I did all of us a favor, and asked one of Baby Sister's friends to smell my hair.

She said it smelled like hair - not like shampoo, just like hair - but not bad either, so there!

Maybe I'll come back sometime soon and tell you about my homemade deodorant...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So There's This Mid-February Phenomenon

I have a friend who works at Starbucks, and last week, she expressed it quite nicely:
"On Friday, we'll be super busy, because everyone will be trying, up until the very last minute, to meet someone in time for Valentine's Day. And on Saturday we'll be super busy because everyone else will be treating their Valentines."

Every year, around this time, I get a little touchy.  I try not to offend people, because I totally support people who are happily in love and want to take a special day to celebrate that fact, provided they continue to celebrate that fact, perhaps in less elaborate ways, throughout the rest of their lives...

But, y'all, this problem of people having a freak-out or getting super down in the dumps because they don't have a "Valentine" is so troublesome to me. Let's just pause and think through the idea of a "Valentine" - he's actually a person.  Did you know that? I don't know a ton about him, but I do think I remember hearing that he performed marriages for people in the Roman army, who were technically forbidden to marry, which is, you know, incredibly romantic and all.

BUT the holiday bearing his name was not romanticized until Chaucer got a hold of it and made it a generalized celebration of romantic love.

You know what else Chaucer helped to generalize?

Yep, the fart joke.

If that doesn't help you understand my opinion of Chaucer, you don't know me very well.

To be fair to both Chaucer and Valentine, I don't think either of them really meant for people to get so incredibly sad about their lives on this day, but it is an unfortunate side effect of our Disney-saturated, Chick-Flick-watching, Diamon-ring-advertising, First-kiss-idolizing culture.

Believe me, I'm just as subject to this culture as anyone else. In searching through my February archives, I found this gem, and I have a feeling that some of that emotional instability I was feeling may have stemmed from the surplus of romantic imagery and themes that inundates advertisements and every corner of our little world during this time of year.

It's just basically unavoidable, and really, who am I (or any of us single people who all feel a bit of "poor me" this time of year if we're honest with ourselves) to take this day away from the lovers? So what we really need to work on isn't changing, or even "boycotting" Valentine's Day (as much as I am tempted to, some years), but investing in the people that we love on this day and always.  Whether they're technically a "Valentine" or not, is really beside the point.

You know who I love?  Baby Sister. Poor thing.  She's gonna be Baby Sister even when she's old and gray...

So, I took her to a concert of her favorite musician this Valentine's weekend, and we stayed the night with an extremely motivated writer friend of mine, who inspired both of us to start writing more.

We drove up to Dallas together, and got turned around more than once, because that's the way I travel - some GPS, mostly I-know-better-than-that-machine... She may or may not have thought I was about to drive off a cliff at one point, and also may or may not have been pretty close to correct.

She made us a road-trip cd, which was missing 5 songs, mysteriously, and gave us a good chance to listen to other music we both love.

We got to the concert early, and had 45 minutes to waste running around the cutest downtown you ever did see in Wylie, TX. (So many places were open, even after 8!)

We made some new friends in this little combination Coffe Bar and Antique Shop.  And, wouldn't you know, they were camp people too, so we had lots to talk about.  Of course they were there for the concert too, so we stood together.

After getting to my friend's house way too late at night, we went to bed and woke up to a homemade breakfast and 20 acres of woods, just begging to be explored.

Do you see what I'm saying? I refused to be quietly down in the dumps, and also to loudly protest.  I simply made memories with someone I love on a Saturday that could have been any Saturday, but happened to be February 14th.

I think this may have been the first time I got Valentine's Day right.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What's in My Bag, aka I Want a Diaper Bag SO Bad Right Now

When I became a nanny, I had no idea how difficult it would be to find a bag that would suit my needs.

Frequently, I go straight from work to run errands, or to exercise class, or to Bible Study, depending on the day, so carrying everything I need, plus the things I need for the kiddos has become quite the challenge.  And it only gets harder in the summer when we head to the splash pad, etc...

I started off with backpacks, but, y'all, I may be willing to wear shorts, t-shirts, and ball caps all day for work, but carrying a backpack on top of all that?  I honestly felt like I was 12, and probably looked like it too, thanks to my great non-aging genes, which I'm sure I'll be grateful for when I'm 50 or something...

So it became necessary to carry something a little more mature.  Plus, I realize it may murder my back, but I've always loved over-the-shoulder bags more, simply because they can be accessed without ever taking them off - just pull out the sippy cup and voila, you never even had to stop walking - look at me being all practical!

I found this Fossil bag, which I can't complain about, because I know it will serve me well for many years, and I scored it at the outlet for only thirty-something bucks, but it's better for carrying around a lap-top and a few books than all the things I need with the kids.

Sometime after I found this bag, I discovered Lily Jade, and immediately began jonesing over their beautiful and practical Caroline.  I mean, goodness gracious, the thing is red, not to mention exactly my style.

You can imagine when Lily Jade announced that I could make a blog post and be entered in a giveaway, I was all for it, so here you go - What's in my bag:

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Notebooks of all kinds (planner, meal-tracker, sketchbook, you get the idea), and usually a few letters to reply to or a knitting project to catch up on in case I get the chance during nap or something. (Doesn't really ever happen, in case you were wondering, but a girl can hope, right?)

Tissues and Lotion for me, wipes for the kids in case of ice cream stickiness and what-not.

Honestly, there are usually way more kid's meal toys floating around in my bag than just those three, but most of them are in the back seat of my car right now along with last week's potato chip crumbs and fruit roll-up wrappers...

Anybody who knows me much at all, knows that I always have more pens than any one person has good use for, and it seems that I either have zero lip balm/gloss, or a ton.

I've learned that it's best to keep a smaller bag in my big one, packed with "purse essentials," (phone, keys, wallet, glasses, more pens and lip balm) so if I'm going straight somewhere after work, I can just throw the big bag in back of my car and carry my valuables around with me.

I also usually have a sippy cup or two, a water bottle if the big boy is with us, a special blanket, a diaper, and the toy of the moment (the size of which I heavily regulate). But I leave those things at work for obvious reasons, and this photo was taken at home.

Imagine adding all of those things, plus my water bottle, to this:

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Yeah, I need a diaper bag.
Never thought I'd say that at this point in my life, but I guess you never know where you'll be...