Monday, February 17, 2014

Keeping it real. Actual occurrences brought on by baby

Just a little post to let you know what's been happening to me over the past month or so...

While folding clean laundry, the dryer buzzed, so I went to switch loads, then went back to the back of the house for another load to put in.  Ten minutes later I realized I was sitting in the living room FOLDING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY I had brought from the back.

Went into the kitchen for a snack.  Was feeling nauseous so I noted to myself that I must eat something with protein. Returned to my book with a plate full of nothing but pickles. Proceeded to eat all of them.

Turned on the stove and put the pressure cooker (empty) on to warm while I got out ingredients. Found myself lying in bed talking to Simon about 20 minutes later, when I remembered.  The pot was so hot it was bright red on the bottom and it broke in half after it cooled.

Painted my fingernails one evening. Woke the next morning to 8 red fingers and 2 naked, forgotten thumbs.  !!!

Took a shower and decided I should shave my legs.  As I was lotioning said legs post-shower, I realized that I had shaved about three strips of my right leg and nothing else. Including the left leg.  Do not remember making the decision to reverse mowhawk one leg.

While cooking, I had a thin plastic cutting board next to the stove. I took the frying pan off the stove to remove contents, and placed it (unintentionally) directly on the plastic sheet. Melted a hole in the board, which then stuck to the pan, and to the counter top. Eventually had to scrape the plastic off in small strips.

There are more...but I forgot them.

However, things ARE getting better around here, and I'll have more positive, interesting things to say soon!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

You're Barely Pregnant....Now What?'re barely pregnant.  Now what?

I know this feeling all too well.  You've taken the positive pregnancy test.  You've waited a few days.  You've taken another test (read: every test you have in your house).  You believe it.  You've told your husband and maybe even a few friends.

And now...what?  Especially with my first pregnancy, I walked through the house for a few days, in a sort of daze, feeling like I had nothing to do...but really wanting to do something involving the pregnancy.  I wasn't feeling bad, so I didn't need to eat differently, I wasn't showing so there wasn't any need for maternity shopping (not that I let that stop me from online window shopping), and not that many people knew yet, so I couldn't even really talk about it.

There are a thousand lists out there for what to do when pregnant, that cover the basics: call your OB/Gyn, figure out insurance coverage, read a bunch of stuff (that will probably freak you out) about how your body is going to change, and of course, immediately begin to think about your birth plan. Because, somehow, the Birth Plan seems to be the main focus of this pregnancy thing.  Not the child you'll have for fifty-odd years afterwards.  The one day of Birth.

Anyway, I digress.

Since I'm on the third go-round of this whole pregnancy thing, I found myself with a full list of things to do before I started feeling or looking pregnant.  And I wished I had known these things the first time around.  Or done them the second. This is for the first 2-3 weeks in between that Early Result test and the first moment of bone-tired zombie exhaustion, or the body-engulfing nausea that will, most likely, attack you out of nowhere one morning in the very near future, and be your constant companion for weeks after.

One more thing before I begin: fair warning.

Even if you have light, less-than-average symptoms, you're still in for a huge change in the way your body will work for you.  Pregnancy means that your body's priorities shift from being at your beck and call (and your willpower's), to being absolutely devoted to your baby. You're just along for the ride. Like to stay up late with hubs a few nights a week watching Office reruns and then have a few extra coffees to make it through the next day? No more. Hate making time in the morning to eat breakfast, so you just go on the cream in your coffee until lunch? I'd like to see you try that at 9 weeks. Wait till you have no more underwear and then do 15 loads of laundry all in one evening? Not. gonna. happen.

This feeling of powerlessness over your own self is especially frustrating your first time around. Plus, adjusting your brain to the new regime while simultaneously trying to fend off flu-like symptoms AND go on with your normal life (cause you can't call in "pregnant" to work!) is dang near impossible. Usually, what happens is, you surface a few weeks (or months) later, and look around you to find Disaster Zone. Your house has not been cleaned in weeks, laundry is piled higher than you have ever (even in college) seen it. The fridge is empty except for the things you forced your husband to go out and get you RIGHT NOW (pickles, chocolate, red meat, etc).Your husband, who is suddenly constantly eyeing you with a wary look, has made his own way through the last few weeks with takeout (which you made him eat in the car so you didn't have to smell it), rewearing clothes as he can. Your phone is full of messages and texts from friends, as is your email.  You have overdue library books you never read, your sheets only got changed when you couldn't make it to the bathroom fast enough that one morning (TMI?) and the dust on your shelves is half an inch deep.

THIS list is to help lessen the horribleness of that moment.

Not that, in that moment, you really will care. If you're anything like me, you'll be so relieved and so unbelievably grateful that you're well enough to smell toothpaste without gagging and make it through the day without needing a three-hour nap that even Disaster Zone can't kill your buzz.  And, in your new found lease on life (it's called Second Trimester, oh blessed, blessed time), you'll happily reengage and your life will be back on track fairly quickly.


Do these things now, and you'll be glad you did.

1.  Clean, clean, clean. 
Nothing produces housework malaise like the first trimester. Things that seemed non-negotiable, quality of life requirements suddenly seem utterly superfluous. Who the heck cares if the sink is full of dishes when you can't eat anything anyway?
A few specific suggestions in this general area:
The bathroom (most especially the toilet). It may seem clean enough for general, or even guest use, but when you have your entire face inside the bowl, and you're leaning on it, holding it for dear life, you want that thing to be spotless.  I promise.  That goes for the area around the toilet as well, which you may or may not be lying on for significant periods of time in the near future.  If you can, designate one bathroom as the Pregnancy Bathroom, and set it up spotlessly clean, with towels, antiseptic wipes, toothbrushes/toothpaste, paper cups, and maybe even a small pillow. Think I'm crazy? I lost 20 pounds during my first two trimesters of pregnancy with Caleb, and I threw up around 8 times a day.  I know what I'm talking about. Your husband will thank me, and so will you, when you have your own private, clean Throne Room to retreat to as needed.
A schedule. If you're able, design a routine for cleaning that gives you 20 or 30 minutes of housework a day. You can, most definitely, keep your home livable that way. Do a room-a-day kind of thing, or a task-a-day (like dusting, or floors). Regardless of whatever else, do a load of laundry a day (or every two if you don't need it that often). Check out for a ton of suggestions. Getting plugged into that NOW will do you good. No way will you choose, adopt and carry out a new routine once you're in the thick of it.
Iron, fold, organize, clean out: but please don't overdo it. What I'm talking about here is that pile of ironing you go through in the morning, grab a shirt out of, and iron right then. Or that clean laundry basket you just pile up and live out of until you get sick of it and fold the whole thing while watching a movie. Or the fridge that smells kinda funky but doesn't really bother you.  It will.  Ohhhh, it will. Basically, catch up on things that you need for daily life, but don't always stay on top of. I am NOT talking about the garage, the backyard, the attic or your out-of-season clothes. That would be a waste of the limited amount of time you have right now. Save those things for nesting in your last trimester, or for a year from now after the babe is sleeping through the night.

2.  Stock Up
On everything. The grocery store is a pit of torture and near-death in the first trimester. Smells, sights, long aisles...ugh. But there are lots of ways to keep yourself from having to go there (husband included).  Specific stock-ups:
Cleaning stuff. Dishwasher detergent, laundry soap, etc. You may have a shining hour or two of feeling great after that protein infusion, but if you don't have the tools on-hand, getting them will take it allll up. If you have everything you need on hand to wash a load of laundry or dust the living room when you feel up to it, you'll get alot more done.
Freezer meals.  Cook. Cook breakfast you can microwave, dinner you can crock pot, or throw in the oven. Cook things your husband can heat up and eat without bothering you in the Throne Room. Cook things for when you think, "ohmygosh I need a hamburger RIGHT NOW and if I have one I will feel great!" because it might work and, again, the trip to get it will probably be all you've got. Timing is crucial. A taco in the next 10 minutes from the freezer is heaven.  A taco in 30 minutes after a drive (or languishing on the couch waiting for it) may cause major problems. I kid you not. Also, think especially about protein. Nothing staves off nausea like a great protein infusion. And it's usually not the kind of thing you can make quick: meat takes time.  For some great ideas, check out Pioneer Woman's freezer meals, or Pinterest, where you can find thousands of recipes and ingredient lists.
Your Personal Needs. Know how successful it's going to be to send hubs to Sephora to get your eyeshadow? Or how much it stinks to finally drag yourself into the shower just to discover you're out of shampoo? Look through your personal stuff and see if anything is going to need replacing in the next month. Get it now. Also, think of the smell of things. Maybe grab an unscented body lotion or a soap that just smells clean instead of being pomegranate raspberry yogurt. Everything smells stronger when you're knocked up.
Your favorites. Love that specific tea in the morning? Or just one of those chocolates every night? Stock up, because even though there are no guarantees you'll want anything you love right now, at least you'll have it if you do.
Also, if you're an addict. (To caffeine). This has been a problem for me each time. I love coffee. Passionately.  Generally I like to maintain a fairly constant daily intake of the stuff. Except during my first trimester. Then it makes me want to rip off my own nose so as not to smell the stuff. This always becomes a big problem, because while I don't want anything to do with it, my body is still heavily dependent on the caffeine. Adding a serious withdrawal-headache to the other symptoms of pregnancy is a bad, bad idea. I found my salvation from the headaches with chocolate-covered espresso beans. 4-5 contain one cup of coffee's worth of caffeine, and, for me, 2 or 3 meant instant, literally instant relief of the headache. After the first day, I just had one every time I felt the headache coming on, and then weaned myself off from there. Another solution would be black tea, but that didn't get rid of the headache for me.

3.  Look ahead.  What's happening in the next two months.  Christmas? Hubby's birthday? Anniversary? Get the gifts now. Get the decorating done (if it's not too ridiculous). Plan now to simplify whatever you'll have to do then. Get the anniversary dinner frozen and the gift wrapped. Order your mom's birthday present to be delivered to her on her day. Schedule alarms in your phone/preferred electronic device for friend's birthdays, work deadlines, bill deadlines, etc. But again, don't overdo it. This is the stuff you can't NOT do, or your water will be turned off, your boss will be furious, etc. If you put too much silliness into your calendar or you'll ignore it all.
Practical stuff: renew your driver's license, have your car inspected, etc. Don't put yourself in a position to have to deal with more rather than less (like a ticket plus getting your overdue car registration).
Now, obviously, a good bit of these things can be done by hubby if he's willing.  But, for things you usually take care of, it's helpful to be able to say to him, "Hubby, the cable bill. Would you go online and pay it tonight? It's due." Instead of going for your next recorded episode of Downton Abbey and not having any tv at all.  Horrors.
Also, look ahead and cancel things if you can. Have a monthly at-school serving lunch? Switch with someone and cover two this month. Bring breakfast to your co-workers? Reschedule. People will be much more forgiving of you taking something extra on now so you can flake later than they will be of you just constantly flaking for a month or two later. Plus, bonus, you're warning people now, when you can actually tell them respectfully and appropriately, instead of "Ohhhh, guys. I'm so sorry. I don't have breakfast...I threw up on it."

Speaking of Downton Abbey,
4. Entertain yourself.  Stock up on books, tv shows, movies, crafts. Think about what you'd want to do if you had the flu, and then get lots. When I was pregnant with Caleb, I read the entire, 7 book (then) series of Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon in a matter of weeks (that's somewhere around 1,000 pages per book, give or take).  I was so sick it was all I wanted to do. I may or may not have read a few chapters on the bathroom floor. I was blessed to have been lent the entire series by my mother in law just before I got sick. I would never have gotten them myself. Also think through your happy movies or shows. I could watch The Office any time anywhere for forever. Anything like that, get online and order. Get a kindle and get books magically.  Amazon prime and you can order movies the same way.

5.  Don't expect anything. Of yourself, of your body. Don't be upset if you can't stick to the routine you carefully post on your fridge. Don't tell yourself you're going to be one of those women who doesn't have this kind of a pregnancy. Don't tell yourself you're going to die. Just wait it out, you'll know quite soon enough.

6.  Remember to say "thank you." Hubs will probably be doing more for you than ever, ever before. Maybe other people, too.  My mom went grocery shopping for me and fully stocked my kitchen when I was pregnancy with Caleb. Heaven. Your coworkers will probably be picking up a little slack for you. I had a teacher friend who would see me racing down the hall to the bathroom, and would immediately head to my classroom full of kids to take over until I got back. Multiple times a day.  For months. Peer through the haze of sickness and exhaustion, remember how to smile, and thank these people sincerely and warmly. They will make your life livable. Remember what they've done and, when you're feeling better, thank them better, with a coffee or a candle or note or something.

Good luck!

Friday, October 18, 2013


NANOWRIMO!  Say it.  I dare you.  So fun.  "Naaa-No-Rye-Moe."

You may have already heard about this; it's pretty big in the writer-blog-world.

November is National Novel Writing Month.  Who knew, right?  And NaNoWriMo (said it yet?) is a "nonprofit that believes stories matter."  It's yearly challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

That's somewhere around 175 pages.

Which amounts to about 1600 words per day, give or take.

Intimidated yet?  I sure am.

Basic principles include the idea that everyone has that awesome story locked inside themselves. Also, that writing slowly, inch-by-inch of page, constantly editing and reworking is maaaaybe not the best way to slog out that novel.  I can definitely attest to that.  Anyone else have somewhere around 20 pages of several different novels here and there, on different computers?  Also a bunch of documents a page or two long just about one incident you had every intention of working into your novel?

I actually took a novel writing class in grad school, and wrote about half of one.  It sucked.  It is most assuredly never going to be finished or published.  You're welcome.

Anyway.  I fell in love with this NaNoWriMo idea.  Here's why:

1.  The list of authors who have PUBLISHED the novels they wrote during NaNoWriMo.  One of my favorite books ever, The Night Circus, was written this way.  It took her 2 Novembers, but, hey, it's a seriously amazing book.  If you haven't read it, go. Do. It's like candy for your brain.  If this kind of thing is written during NaNoWriMo, sign me up.

2.  A dear author friend of mine wrote much of HER first book during one.  Holy cow.  And BONUS, she's going to do it with me this year, working on her THIRD book.  If you're interested in this genuinely amazing woman (she homeschools four delightful boys AND writes novels.  Actually, the only thing she DOESN'T probably do is sleep!), her new book, The Wife the Maid and the Mistress is due to be published in January.  I've read it, and it's gooooooood.

3.  Writing leads to more writing.  Duh.  You've heard alllllll the quotes from alllllll the old famous guys.  How do you write?  Get up, have coffee, write.  Every day.  No matter what.  If you have no ideas, that's when the best stuff happens (sometimes).  So, if you're committing to NaNoWriMo, you're going to be mimicking the working habits of writers you'd kill to be able to do ANYTHING like.  Done deal.

4.  Writing leads to better-ness.  It's true.  If writing is your thing, actually WRITING makes life better.  I find I'm far more likely to have a clean kitchen, do some laundry, have a happy heart, be a good mom, be kind to my husband, etc., on the days that I write.  That seems absurd now that I've actually said it, but it's true.  Not every single one of those things every time, but, seriously, alot of them.  It's why we do what we do, right?  If you spend some time doing something that you love, it helps order your brain, your heart and your soul.  I'm much more willing to get back to the realities of life once I've spent some time in my happy place.

5.  It scares me.  Seriously, it does.  The fast-approaching First of November gives me the same kind of nerves as the idea of an upcoming audition or the opening night of a show I'm directing.  That feeling which is awesome and horrible all at the same time.  Lovehate that feeling!  Here's the thing: anything that produces that kind of nerves HAS to be worth doing. It means I'm emotionally attached to it enough to enjoy it, but it's challenging enough that I'm unsure if I can succeed.  What could be better?  Also, the fulfillment of accomplishing that 50,000  I can't imagine!

6.  This is the weirdest one:  I've got nothing.  No story, no plot, no ideas.  (Yet!)  I've had lots before; written some of them, etc.  But this is going to be a new story....and the challenge of finding one before November is huge, but it's something I really want.  I want to find that story and want to get it going!

So there you go.  6 reasons to join me!  If you're interested, check it out at, and let ME know you're doing it.  I'll be posting about it a bit between now and then (I've got some books to recommend, some writing challenges I'm doing, and more).  I'll also be updating as to my progress in November.

Come know you want to!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Worldly Woes

I have birthday posts and photos to upload and share...but for now, this is what I'm thinking about today.

The Lord has been teaching me something for a long time now.  I've only recently come to be aware of it.  Isn't it frustrating how dumb we humans can be?  If I could only see the Lord's purpose more clearly, I feel like I would be alot better off.  But obviously that's not true, as His ways are perfect and his plans were established long ago.

Anyway.  The lesson is (has been) letting go, more and more, of my own pride in my self-image, as attested to by my nice things,  And, oh, how hard my sinful little soul holds onto my pretty things.  I relate completely to the "My precioussss" of Gollum.  Sadly.

These are out of order, but the way I became aware of them as lessons.

First, the couch.  Oh, the couch.  We had a lovely couch and chair set, bought with money from my grandparents, when we were first married.  Brown leather, expensive looking.  They were kind of sealed with this great top layer thing that made them super tight and slippery.  And we thought, "Hey, someday these will just shed the drinks/food/messes that kids make.  Great choice!"  They were very impressive. Then. About a year ago, they began to...slough.  To peel.  To...lose the top layer of their shiny brown leather.  Underneath, I kid you not, was a layer akin to....raw cow skin.  Pinky-pale and the texture of suede.  Hid.e.ous.  They almost hurt to look at.  There was this human, painful aspect to their underskin.  Ugh.

Second, clothes.  I love clothes.  Dearly, with an affection that would do any style icon credit.  I have an extraordinarily lovely grandmother, with the most classic and beautiful taste.  Over the years, she taught me to dress and to buy clothes in a way that I am very proud of.  She still--always--looks flawless.  Her favorite designers are Ralph Lauren and such.  Think the styles of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly.  She's amazing.

Also over the years, she bought me things.  Quality, lovely, classic things that are still as perfect for wear today as they were when she bought them--some of them 15 years ago.  So I have a literal wardrobe full of gorgeous, expensive things that I could never afford to buy myself these days.  Which was the point of her (and of course, my parents, who added to her purchases) buying them: develop a classic wardrobe that will always serve you well.

Except that was a good 30-40 pounds ago, and I cannot wear a single stitch of that clothing.  I haven't for years.  I honestly can't even believe I am confessing this to you.  It's so awful.  I can hear you thinking, "Hellloooo, Abbie.  Go on a diet (another one).  Get outside and go running, etc. "  I know.  I'll get to that (in another post), but stick with me for a minute on the lesson that this baby-and-all-that-follows weight has helped me learn.  Because, like my couch, those lovely clothes sit in my house, unable to make me look good.  Unable to be produced as an indication of our personal success in awesomeness.  In fact, they do the opposite: that couch made us (and the whole living room) look like what we were: a struggling family, unable to replace the raw-skinned monster.  And the zippers on those clothes are constant, unchanging testament to my failure to revamp myself and Get My Body Back (although it is very much still here, in excess!).  It's also evidence that I can't replace those clothes.  I go to Target instead.  And believe me, THAT is a humbling thing: wearing fat, Target jeans with a closet full of skinny designer clothes.

Another clothes-oriented occurrence:  laundry disasters.  I asked for and received several items of clothing for my birthday last week.  I spent waaaay too long on Pinterest and the internet, deciding what things I needed to spruce up my fall wardrobe, where to get them least expensively, etc.  Like I said, I love clothes.  So.  The first time I wore the cute, navy-and-white striped long sleeved tee from Gap that I LOVED, I splattered bleach all over it.  Now it is striped and also spotted.  Then Mom bought me a light-blue chambray blouse from Gap.  Which I washed according to directions (CAREFULLY keeping away from the bleach!).  There was a green crayon--just the tiniest tip of the point--in one of Caleb's pockets.  All over my new shirt.  Soooooo very frustrating.  I may have used some colorful language, slammed some dryer doors and generally thunked around in a bit of a fit when that happened.

So even my new, nice clothes are unable to make me look good.

And now, The Car.  Actually, it doesn't deserve capitol letters.  It's bad.

Simon bought a Honda Accord when we were dating.  It replaced a really, truly awful car, far worse than the one I am about to describe, but that's another story for a different day.  Anyway, we've had it since; it's now the kid car, and I drive it.  It has acquired a very distinct flavor over the past 8 years.  First, a year into our marriage, a tree hit Simon on a camping trip.  Three days after our car insurance expired (unbeknownst to me!).  The large dent in the back driver's side door has never been repaired.  Then, the car sat out in the Insane Sun in Wichita Falls, and instead of remaining a respectable black shiny color, the paint has sort of faded away on all the corners, so it's got these large silver splotches all over.  But why repaint a car with a dent?  Silly.

Then, the car began to make this...noise.  I noticed it when I pulled up to drive-throughs.  It's not super loud but it's a revolving sort of ksss-ksss-KSSS-ksss noise that has something to do with belts but isn't an actual problem.  It's worst when idling.

And finally, the spoiler.  THIS is kind of awesome, in a redneck way:  One day, I was driving along and I heard a knocking, banging noise every time I went over a bump.  I could see in the rearview that one side of the spoiler had disconnected and was kind of flapping in the wind and bumping the trunk.  I called Simon and asked what I should do--I think I was on a road trip to meet my mom and I was worried it would blow off and go through someone's windshield and decapitate them.  Conversation as follows:

Me:  So...what should I do?

Simon:  Just get out and pull it off.

Me:  A piece of the car?  Just...pull it off?

Simon:  Well, yeah.

Me:  Can I DO that?

Simon: If you pull hard enough.

Me:  That's not what I meant.

Simon then basically used his kind, wife-appropriate words to tell me to Man Up and get it done. So I did.  I pulled over, I kid you not, onto a dirt road off the highway.  I got out.  I approached the spoiler.  I inspected the situation.  I put my hands on the spoiler.  And I basically pulled and twisted and yanked on the thing in a very ungraceful and mostly out-of-control manner, which resulted in me suddenly freeing the thing, finding it up over my head as a result of the over-pull that finally wrenched it off, and taking a rapid succession of steps backward to maintain a standing position.  Then, perhaps, a victorious yell of accomplishment while brandishing it midair.

At that point, I had an unexpected quandary.  What to do with this thing?  My first instinct (Lord knows why) was to throw it into the abundant brush nearby and drive away.  That, I reasoned with myself, was not a good idea.  So...I put the spoiler in the trunk.  A sentence I never thought I'd write.

By the way, it's still there.  Where else am I gonna put it?  It...belongs with the rest of the car, right?

Okay so all this car discussion to give you context for the first time I pulled up and stopped (ksss-kssss-KSSS-ksss) in the carpool line.

This is a very nice private school.

There were alot of very nice vehicles in line.  Actually, only very nice vehicles. (kssss-kssss-KSSSS-ksss) And I opened the door and got out to meet my son (that's how they do it there, and all the other mothers got out, too).  And it sounded like this:  kssss-kssss-KSSSSS-kssssss, kssss-ksssss-KSSSS-kssss.... 

And, sigh, there I was again, unable to be perfect or show off.  In fact, just the opposite: my little, paid-for, low-gas, low-maintenance, perfectly good and actually a wise financial choice car, was attesting to my own inability to replace it.  To have something better than anyone else.  Or even equal to everyone else.

I mentioned we're new there, right?  That I know almost no one, and that I'm pretty much depending on the school to provide friends and community.  And, luckily for me, I was able to laugh in that moment.  And to reason through my situation, which is that, were we NOT attending this lovely school, we would probably be able to afford a new car.  But that I wouldn't--really, truly wouldn't--make that trade for anything.  And that it's worth it, so worth it.  Even if it's not just the price of a car, but also my pride.

There are more of these kind of stories.  Lots more.  Money we don't have, a rental home that I can't change or fix up (good grief does it NEED it, though), kids' fits that happen in front of the wrong people)...all of it, to me, making me look bad.

And that's exactly why God gives it to me.  Because I care way, way too much about the way I am perceived by others.  If you're a people-pleaser like me, you get it.  It's a motivating factor in my life. shouldn't be.  My purpose, as beautifully worded by the Westminster Catechism Caleb is so awesomely learning at his school (brag!), is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him.  Not to glorify myself and enjoy myself, which is my natural tendency.  To get gloried up and then enjoy the showoff.

He's teaching me, by means of rust and bleach and bad leather, to step back, set my eyes on him and pull them away from my mirror.  Not to worry about what others see; only to worry about where my gaze is trained.

And here's the other part.  The reason I can write this--is that, now, I get it. And getting it means I can (try to!) react differently to these losses of self.  It's still a terrible shame to ruin a new shirt (I colored in the bleach spots with Sharpie...just so you know), but is it truly meaningful?  Is it an occasion to sin?  Nope.  Easy come, easy go.  This world is not what matters.  These people, the people of this world, their high opinion...not my "end," my audience, my reason.

My end is to obey, love and thereby glorify the Lord.  And so I struggle to--and to keep myself from these other distractions.

Headed out to my God-glorifying car to get the kiddo from his awesome school.

See you soon!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Birthday Candles

This weekend...

Was Simon's 34th birthday.  It was happy, happy!  And (aside from slightly sick kiddos), very relaxing.

A cool front blew in on Saturday and it was in the mid-sixties all morning.  We opened the kitchen windows and the kids played in the backyard while we drank lots of coffee.  Ahhhhh.

I made Simon a huge Mexican dinner (at his request).  It's Pioneer Woman's Shrimp Quesadillas, and Simon's mom's Spanish rice (which is unbelievably good...I'll have to share that recipe with you soon).  Yes, very unhealthy.  But that's what birthdays are for, right?  Oh, also margaritas.  Can't have the Mexican food without those!

Blowing out the candles.  Watch Lyla's face in this progression.
"I didn't blow any out!!"
Poor Lyla.

And I'd like to share one of Simon's birthday presents:  The Best Candle Out There.  I've written about this before, long ago.  Woodwick.  They rock.  Especially their fall and winter lines.  You always know you can pick up a vanilla or a cinnamon candle at any basic grocery store and it'll probably be okay.  (Except I actually hate any and all sweet-food-related candles.  Cinnamon, okay.  Cinnamon bun with gooey maple sauce?  I feel like they make the air sticky.  Also, who wants another reason to crave baked goods?  Anyway.  Sorry for that rant.)  Back to these: really good, more complicated scents are hard to get just right.  Fireside smells like smoke, clean-soap, autumn leaves,'s gorgeous.  Lighting that baby up each fall ups my happiness level by several notches.  Oh! AND they crackle, like a real fire.  Bonus!

This is my favorite, Fireside, recommended a few years ago by a high school friend (hi, Katie!).  Still the best fall-winter scent EVERRRRR.

Okay on to Simon's favorite.  Wait, first, disclaimer.  Simon is NOT the kind of guy who would normally care AT ALL about a candle.  Or spend this kind of money on one (they ain't cheap--20 bucks for a 10 ounce candle).  The story of the Candle Development is as follows:  I forced him to go with me to buy ME a candle for MY birthday last year, mostly because I wanted to hang with him, but also because my summer favorite (the Anthropologie blue volcano one), he HATES.  I used to burn it when we were dating and he always wanted to go out on the balcony of our apartment.  Only told me why after we were married, when he banned that candle from use during his at-home hours.  Soooo, I wanted one I could fire up without spoiling my joy in the candle and/or chasing him outdoors.

He obligingly smelled and sniffed and discussed all kinds of candles with me (poor guy).  And voted, unequivocally, for this:  Woodwick Redwood.

See how he's already burned through half a inch?
And then he burned it every.single. night.  All fall and winter.  He took to pouring himself a drink and settling in with candle burning right next to him.  Guys.  HE lit it.  HE took deep, affectionate breaths of the candle.  HE even began to comment on how much he loved it.

All of this was totally my goal in dragging him to that girlie store, and I was happy.

But it broke during the move, earlier this summer (all two inches of wax that were left were destroyed).  Hence the present.  Which he loves.  (But he did reject the idea of bringing one to the office.  I guess that's where he draws the man-line.)

Anyway--sorry if that was too much discussion of candles.  But...they do merit it, I assure you.

That's about it for this weekend!

My mom is coming tomorrow and I plan to show her around OKC a bit (though I make a rather inexperienced guide!).  I'll be back to share our excursions later!  Also, MY birthday is this weekend, and I've got a list of Virtual Presents I'd Give Myself If I Were a Millionaire.  See you soon!

Bonus Cutie Pie Pic:

Saturday, September 14, 2013


GUYS.  Oklahoma is different from Texas.

Didn't you know?

Loooots different.  And I intend to write a post on all the fun ways it's different, soon.  Working on it.

But for now, this.


Now, wait.  Before you think to yourself, "Oh.  Or it's just her.  And she can't drive," let me tell you.  I CAN drive.  So there.  No, but really...I'm not a bad driver.  No tickets since 2008!  No wrecks since before that.  (Despite the huge dent in my side door.  I actually didn't make that.  A tree ran into Simon.  Or so I hear.)  Anyway.  This is a cultural thing.

In Texas, I'm pretty sure that getting honked at means one thing, and one thing only:  *&*#%!!!!  It's like car-ually flipping someone off, or cursing someone out.  And people don't usually just sort of "beep" at each other.  It's almost always a long, double or triple, hate-fueled blast that puts your teeth on edge and makes your heart beat faster for several blocks after that.  It often signals a near-death experience, whether between your car and another car or you and another driver who would really like to kill you.

It's angry.

It's horrible.

I HATE HATE HATE being honked at.  Is that dumb?  I always feel like I've been super-chastened.  I try to car-slink away, and I keep tabs on the Honker until they're gone...I've even turned down streets I had no need of just to get away from Honkers.  If I hear a honk, I jump involuntarily and jerk around, desperately hoping it's not me who has incurred the honk.

Okay.  I'm not insane.  I swear.

Anyway.  It's not like it happens alot, in Texas.  Once a month?  Honking is reserved for SERIOUS emotions and/or situations.

But here.  HERE they honk ALL THE TIME.

3 instances for your consideration.  TWO of these happened TODAY!

1.  As I was pulling out of our driveway today, I was focused on not hitting Simon's car, which was parked to the left of me.  As I neared the street (NOT in it yet), I turned back to the right and saw an oncoming car.  BEFORE I hit the street, I quickly stepped on the brakes.  AFTER my car had come to a complete stop, that car swerved a HUGE swerve to the left (as in, into potentially oncoming traffic), and then after it had gone past my house and well gone, it HONKED.  WHaaaaat???  What did THAT honk say?  "I saw you almost not see me and I swerved and way overcompensated for your proximity BUT I still know you could have backed into me at 2 miles per hour!"  ummmmm....what?  Yet, still, I was blushing and sweating and super embarrassed.  Honking stress!

2.  Leaving the (very crowded) mall today, I got Lyla into her seat, and got into mine.  I reached into the passenger side to grab phone and arrange my things a little before I pulled out.  As I did so, the car behind me, which had pulled up and was waiting to take my space, honked.  A little "beep!" honk.  And I JUMPED out of my seat and did the whole look-around-ashamedly-even-though-I-have-no-idea-what-I-did thing.  And there was this nice lady, sitting, waiting.  She'd just good-naturedly honked at me!  I had no idea that was POSSIBLE, but there she was, just letting me know she was there!  So...what does one DO at that point?  I had this insane urge to honk back, just a little "Hi!  I see you there!  Coming out soon!" beep.  What in the world...?!?  But still too much in Texas mode, I sped (safely) out of that parking lot as fast as I could (again, safely and DRIVING WELL), horrified that I just been honked at for the second time today.

3.  This next one encompasses the 32 times I have been honked at at red lights, waiting to turn, etc, over the past few days.  It's CRAZY.  It's as if they have NONE of the same context for honking as we do, 100 miles to the south.  Not meant to be offensive or even impatient, just...little, communicative honks.

Yall.  This FREAKS me out and I drive around in a constant shame-haze, hyper-aware of my driving, worried that I've become the worst driver EVER.

Yes, it's me.  I'm the one with the problem.

But still...honking.  Do you do it?  Lots?  Or do you reserve it for emergencies?  And...shouldn't we??  If you honk all the time, if you become immune to the Honk, what happens when we REALLY have an emergency?

I am not a fan of the overuse of the honk.  Maybe it's just the Texan in me.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Loving Living in OKC

Well, hello there.

This is me, returning, with lots to say and share.

Let's just jump right in, shall we?  Lots of news, and an "R" theme to organize it all.

Yep, it's big.  And wonderful.  We've moved from Wichita Falls to Oklahoma City.  Been here almost two weeks now.  The short story is this:  Simon got a job.  In the oil and gas industry.

Reaction to Relocation:
This:  WOOOHOOO!  We love it.  We are grateful to the Lord for the blessings he has given us in this opportunity.  Simon is LOVING the job (this is his fourth week), and we have the promise of continued and growing career and abundance in this thriving field.  Again, may I say, woohoo!

Results of Relocation:
There are many, of course.  Far too many to share right now.  I'm already brain cataloging all the things I want to write about since we've moved.  But here are a few:

1.  We are no longer actually Texans.  This has been big for me, mentally.  I absolutely love Texas, and it's a prideful thing to be from there.  When I lived in Italy (for a semester in college), the Italians were always delighted we were from "the Texas!"!  It was like an old western movie to them.  Loved that.  Loved telling them I rode a horse to school as a kid (sorry, scuzzy Italian guys...but you kind of deserved it).  However, I wear the tiny Texas necklace my sweet sister gave me and keep it thereby literally close to my heart.  And, as far as I can tell, OK isn't a step down by any means.

2.  We found the most amazing school for Caleb.  It's called The Academy of Classical Christian Studies, and, oh, be still my classically-educated, scripture-loving heart.  Seriously, check this place out:  This is the Dream School, one that we were hoping to imitate with home school if we'd stayed in Wichita Falls...but, no WAY could I ever have done it like this school does.  The entirety of the education is designed with the end of creating careful, independent thinkers who live and think and see the world through the lens of the truth of Scripture.  I desperately wish I could return to school and be educated in this way from the ground up, so to speak.

This has been THE thing I have been most excited about, in our move.  Nothing else even comes close.

3.  The school has provided an almost instant community. If you've ever moved to a new city, you know how difficult it can be to "break in," and find like-minded friends, fill your days with ANYTHING, and generally feel like you're actually LIVING there.  Wichita Falls was especially difficult for me (though that was due, in large part, to the almost immediate pregnancy and the resulting months of sickness that kept me from making friends or even leaving the house!).  This place has been the absolute opposite, and it's because of the school.  An immediate, welcoming community of moms and dads who value classical Christian thinking!  It's almost too good to be true.  Except it is true!  I've already been to playdates, the zoo, an amazing coffee place (coffee slingers), and a Bible study.  And...less than two weeks, like I said.  Awesome.

4.  We have been camping out for, again, almost two weeks.  Our furniture?  Still in Texas.  At our old house (anyone need a cute little 3/2/2?).  We intended to only live with our current possessions for a few days.  That turned into longer.  Currently we have these things in our house:
2 pots
1 coffee maker
2 coffee mugs
Washer and dryer
Paper plates
Plastic silverware
4 large blue plastic cups
Cleaning supplies
One laptop
I literally can't think of anything else.

Things we DO NOT have here:
Things upon which to sit.  Of any kind.
A microwave
Non plastic table settings of any kind
Almost ANY toys.

So.  Needless to say, the last few week have been interesting.  Lots of picnics.  Lots of lying on the floor, dragging pillows around so we don't have to lie down completely.  Lots of inventing creative things to play instead of having toys. (Who can sweep up the most dead bugs in the enclosed back porch?!?)

Just yesterday, we got the internet and oohhhhhh my goodness what luxury.  The iphone was getting pretty old.  You just can't stalk people on FB with a phone, you know? ;-)

And the 5th RESULT:
5.  Joy!  I have been joying in the newness, in the excitement of discovery, in the school, in the new job (which hubs loves), and, more importantly, struggling to joy in the unknown, the looming, the scary and the downright not good (two house payments?).  It's been SO easy and SO hard, simultaneously.  Seriously, I can go from the highest level of thankfulness and enthusiasm, just to crash (so hard) three seconds later, worrying, worrying, worrying about any number of things. And these are not small things--most of them.  And the Lord has been so faithful to help me SEE myself slipping into doubt and worry, and even more loving to offer forgiveness, and the sweet hand of grace, to help me out of my muddy, slippery pits of despair and worry.  He is so faithful, so abundantly full of grace.  He grows me so minutely and so largely all at the same time.  My soul thrills with joy, joy, joy at the thought of all that he has given us in this new season.

More to come--so much more!--as we move and settle in.

For the future:

1.  A tour of the most 1960ies house still in existance today (our rent home).
2.  A discussion of the road habits of Oklahomans.  I am surprised by the differences.
3.  Photos of the cutest little kid in a school uniform you ever did see.
4.  A list of mistakes I have made in moving.  Adding to this list this upcoming weekend, as we get our stuff.
5.  Lots of growth and changes--and continued struggle to reform myself in the lovey image of our Lord!

See you again soon,  I promise!