Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1,000 Little Pieces

Sunday night, I got to Facebook chat with my sister, Kasie, for over an hour. It was amazing. Because a good conversation with her (phone, text, or FB chat) is a rare thing due to the fact that she works outrageous hours, and is living the glamorous life of a beach bum. So, even though I knew I should be in bed, I stayed up and had the first heart to heart with my sister in months.

We talked about love. Our current love lives, and ones gone by. We talked about heartache and tough choices.  We talked about happiness...real happiness, and how it's obtained. We talked about having a heart that is worth the effort...the chase. We resolved some things, and we left some pages un-turned...because, for some of her young heart's questions, I don't have the answers. But at the end of it, I promised her I would blog about what the majority of our conversation was about: loves lost.

Because right now she wants answers, and she needs to see that I can relate. That like her, I too have had my heart broken into 1,000 little pieces and I lived to tell about it. And while I've never been one to dig up old wounds, I will for Kasie. For you. Because even though I'm married, I am no stranger to being broken. And I still carry some of those aches with me. I still get a twinge of pain when a memory or a face creeps up on me, and there are still songs I can't listen to on the radio. Such is life. It truly is a beautiful mess, and this is the story of my heart.

My parents were very strict about when I could start dating. In fact, I didn't go on my first "real" date until I was 18 years old, and that date was with my husband. But, anyway, my parents just knew I would make choices that would alter my life, and in hindsight, I know now that they were right. But, at 16 years old, I thought they were stupid. The dumbest people on planet earth. And shortly after my family made the move to a new church with a new youth group, I started "going out" with my very first boyfriend: Dane*. Dane was two years younger than me, and we fell victim to the current fad that was popular among many of my other 10th grade girlfriends: dating middle school boys (don't judge me!). Dane was sweet. He bought me my first piece of jewelry ( a beautiful necklace), and he gave me my very first kiss in the back of the church bus on the way home from some youth group function...ice skating, maybe?! Anyway, it was awful. Most of his kisses were. And we lasted a record 3 months before he finally called it quits for another girl. I was heartbroken. I cried and listened to Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Cyndi Thompson for months! Here I was, my first and only time in the public school system, and I was official boyfriend-less. Something you DID NOT want to be in the clique I idolized from the outskirts. It was a tough time in my life: new school, new friends, first broken heart...awesome.

After the break-up, I visited my old school to watch a boys basketball game. I met up with all my old friends, and got to talk to the boy I had been in love with since I was six years old: Max*. Max was SO cute, and anytime that boy so much as looked at me, my heart would do somersaults. Our families had been friends for a long time. They came over to my Grandma's to go swimming, my sisters and I spent many summer afternoons over at their house, and his oldest sister was my favorite babysitter. We were already inseparable, so after that game when he started calling me and seeing me as something other than childhood playmate. I was ecstatic. I only spent a year at public school, and the fall of my junior year, I went back to private school. Max and I were together off and on for almost a year. I have some wonderful memories of him, and those seem to overshadow the terrible ones. We were so mean to each other after we finally broke up for the last time. We said terrible things, and in a small school I felt like Hester wearing her scarlet letter. He broke up with me, right as my parents marriage crumbled. It was truly a dark time in my life, but I feel like I grew from the experience. I still consider Max a good friend. We email occasionally, and as adults we've evolved into amazing people who can accept the role we each played in the others life.

After Max, there were the "flings". It was the spring and summer before my senior year, and I was finally old enough to date in my parents eyes, so I went crazy. First, there was Sam*: the sweet country boy who charmed me with horseback riding and the massive teddy bear he left for me at school on Valentine's Day. We barely made it a month, but it was a sweet month. After Sam, I met Christopher*. Chris and I dated briefly during the summer before my senior year. He was a musician. He played the guitar and sang me the sweetest songs. To this day, "Best I Ever Had" by Vertical Horizon is one of my favorite songs. He was SO cute, definitely one of the most attractive guys I have ever dated, and he liked ME. It was the best summer. We parted on good terms, and to this day I call him my friend. He was the first boy to give me confidence. He allowed me to see myself as beautiful, and for the first time, I believed it.

During my "relationship" with Christopher, my friendship with Randy started to evolve. At the time something was forming, and I didn't even see it. I didn't even realize it until months later when he told me how upset he had been when I agreed to date Chris. There I was thinking we were just friends, and he was waiting in the wings for more. After Chris and I broke up, thing progressed quickly with Randy.

I can remember everything. I remember the first time we held hands driving home in the pouring down rain. I remember our first kiss on the tailgate of his red Ford truck. I remember the first time he told me he loved me, and that afternoon, 3 months after we started dating, we he gave me my promise ring. And for most of the last nine years that boy is all I've ever known, with one exception: Kyle.

I met Kyle the summer before I went away to college. The summer that my sister and I bused tables at the same local restaurant. Kyle was a waiter there. Kyle was older, and even though I was dating Randy at the time, we became close friends. We flirted and our friendship turned into more. It was a time in my life when I was confused, and I wanted to be sure that the decision I had made at 18 years old wasn't the wrong one. I have never regretted my "relationship" with Kyle, but to this day I don't like to talk about it. But, I promised Kasie I wouldn't hold back, so here I am for the first time admitting that Kyle was a great love of my life. Next to Randy, he is the most memorable. He's the one I remember EVERYTHING about, and to this day the scar still hurts. I see him around town, and I still can't look at him...8 years later. I now know that he was just a chapter in my life. He made me ask questions of myself I had never asked before, and he helped me recognize what I truly want in life: to be loved completely for everything that I am. And as much as I miss Kyle, I know he couldn't of given me that. He wasn't the right choice.

Randy has always been the one. He is my safety net. The one who knows me better than anyone else. He is an amazing provider and father, and in many ways he is everything my parents ever wanted for me. The last year has been rough, but we are still moving forward. Friday is our 5 year wedding anniversary...5 years! (How can I possibly be this old?!) And the last 5 years have been the best years of my life in many ways. I don't regret the other boys, or the roles they played in my journey. They each played their part beautifully. And it's just like the song says, "God bless the broken road that lead me straight to you." Every lost love, and every heartache lead me to the boy who would take all my pieces and put them back together. The boy that would fight for me...for us. The boy who still gives me butterflies every time he looks at me.

I guess that's what life is about, Kasie. It's about the journey. The journey we take that gets us to the right place. The place we are SUPPOSED to be. And the truth is that true love is not butterflies, flowers, and sweet nothings. It's that comfortable silence. It's being able to laugh with and at each other. It's fighting until your too tired to say another word. It's making up. It's holding hands while you look fear and doubt in the face. Because even when the fire blazes, and the world threatens to turn you to ash...you know you will always have each other. It's not supposed to be perfect. It's just supposed to fit. And when you find the one, he won't care about how many pieces your heart is in, he will just get to work putting it back together for you. Trust me, when you find that you'll know. And if you've already found that, but lost it, don't worry, you'll find your way back someday. Trust me.

*some of the names have been changed to protect their identities. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Diamonds Aren't My Best Friend...

Well, THIS diamond could be my best friend!
I think I'd make an exception :)

Truth: I am NOT a jewelry person. I'm just not. My husband complains constantly that he never has any idea what to get me for my birthday/anniversary/Mother's Day gift, because jewelry is always kind of out of the question (unless, he's planning on getting me a bigger engagement ring...hint, hint ;) . Yep, it's true. Except for the jewelry, I'm your typical girl: I love a fantastic pair of shoes, shopping fixes everything, and dark chocolate is the fastest way to my heart. But, jewelry and I just don't mesh. Bracelets annoy me. Necklaces get in the way or make me feel claustrophobic. And I only wear three rings: my promise ring, my engagement ring, and my wedding band, because other rings seem to fit awkwardly on my short fingers. Sure, I have necklaces, bracelets, and other rings. And sometimes I wear them, but none of them ever last longer than a few hours, before they are off and in my purse. I just can't do it.

I'm a simple girl. I like simple clothes: jeans and my favorite t-shirt (I am a disgrace to my sisters!), I wear minimal make-up (I have mastered the natural look), and with the exception of the ring above, I don't have extravagant tastes. For instance, date night doesn't have to be fancy for me. I don't need white linen table cloths, fine wine, or a bill that is equivalent to half of my husband's weekly salary. To be honest, my favorite place to eat is Applebee's! I'd rather eat wonton tacos, and afterward he could take me to my favorite place to karaoke. That's just me. That's my perfect date night. I'd much rather do that and skip the awkward four course meal, because simple things make me happy.

So, what is my perfect birthday/anniversary/Mother's Day gift? Well, unless I mention something ahead of time, I absolutely LOVE to get flowers. My husband hates to buy them, because they are KIND OF a waste of money. But, for me, that's what gets my little heart going. That's all I need to put a smile on my face-not a fancy dinner, or the most beautiful jewelry money can buy. Just surprise me with flowers, take me to eat my wonton tacos, and you can have my heart forever. That simple.

And that's why after 9 year, my husband is still learning. I'm not like any other woman he has ever known. But, he accepts me and all my crazy antics, and somehow he always manages to put a smile on face without diamonds.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The House That Built Me

As many of you know, I karaoke. It's a passion for me. One of my favorite songs to do right now is the "House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert.

I love this song. Not because it's a huge vocal challenge or anything, but because this song tugs at a very special place in my heart. I'm sure we all have people and places in our past that we cling to, that have helped us grow into the people we are today. For me, it's my grandma's.

My grandma has lived in the same house FOREVER. My mom, my aunt, and my uncle all grew up in that house. It's not an old farm house, or anything fancy. It just a small 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home that sits right along what used to be a major highway in my hometown. It's right next to a small airport, which isn't as noisy as it sounds like it would be. We used to ride our bikes and four wheeler over there, until the airport came under new ownership and they fenced everything off (Yeah, I'm pretty sure they suck! But, I'm not bitter or anything...). It has a huge side yard with big oak trees. Most of their limbs are bent from years of tire and rope swings, and too many children playing games of truth and dare. You know, sometimes when I walk through the yard I can see my cousins, my sisters, and I running from tree to tree. I can almost hear our laughter and arguing-a distant echo of a time long ago when things were easy and life wasn't as hard as it is now. Sometimes I just go sit on the old swing set and think. Sometimes I just smile and remember. Those were truly some of the best days of my life. But, you know, the thing I love the most about my grandma's is the huge, in ground swimming pool in the backyard.

My grandma's house used to be the club house for a local golf course and country club. When they moved the golf course to another end of town, the airport bought the land, and my grandparents bought the house. I don't really know a lot of the history behind it, but I know that my mom, my aunt, and my uncle made some amazing memories at that house, and most of them revolved around the swimming pool. It's the same for my sisters, my cousins, and I. Ninety percent of my childhood memories are about the summers I spent at her house swimming, running barefoot and bathing suit clad through the yard, and then jumping on our bikes (still in our bathing suits) and riding down the airport road. We would swim until we couldn't swim anymore. We would gorge ourselves on watermelon and sweet tea (to this day, I LOVE the taste of a good watermelon). We would have cannon ball contests and dive off the roof of my grandma's house into the swimming pool when she wasn't looking (it's a miracle that ANY of us are still alive). I know more swimming pool games than any normal human being should know, and most of them are games we made up! We would dry ourselves with towels that were warm-line dried in the sun.And then we would lay on the hot concrete, bake ourselves until we were red as lobsters, and laugh. There was so much laughing...and fighting...and just being a family. It was perfect.

But you know, we just don't swim together. My family eats together. Yep, we eat lunch at my grandma's EVERY Sunday. And I'm telling you, nobody cooks like my grandma...nobody. Her food is the embodiment of comfort food. It's hot. It's filling. It's always just what you needed to get you through another week. We used to celebrate every single birthday and holiday together. I can remember as a kid thinking that my birthday was never over until we celebrated it on Sunday at my grandma's. All I ever wanted to do for my birthday was swim, open presents, eat cake, and swim. They were some of the best birthdays I have ever had, and I have the pictures to prove it.

 But, of course now that we are all older and some of us are married or living 3000 miles away, there are fewer and fewer of us at Sunday lunch, and there is always somebody missing from one of our holidays or a birthday. I guess, it's the cycle of life, but I don't think I will ever stop missing those days. Those times when we were all together.

My family is a huge part of who I am. I love them. I would do ANYTHING for them. We laugh. We cry. We fight. We make-up. We play cards. We eat good food. We're a little crazy, but we love each other. And as a mom, there is nothing more important to me than being able to raise Emma in a family that will love and support her no matter what. She is a blessed little girl, and I am blessed to call them mine. They are my family. They are apart of my make up. And while all those summers and Sundays I've spent at my grandma's  will always be a huge part of me, it's not just her house that built me...it's the love and devotion of my caring, crazy family that made me who I am today. And I will forever be grateful to them.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dear 15 Year Old Me...

"Be confident. Too many days are wasted comparing ourselves to others and wishing to be something we aren't. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses, 
and it's only when you accept everything you are-and aren't-that you will truly succeed."
 ~ Unknown

I love this quote. I found it one day while perusing Pinterest, and I fell in love. I love this, because while it's something I have to remind my 26 year old self about everyday, this is really something I wish I could go back and tell myself when I was 15. 17. 21. I wish I could sit my awkward, high school self down in a chair, and look her in the eyes. I wish I could show her the woman she is becoming...the woman I am STILL becoming. 

I wish I could tell her...

- Lay off the bright blue cream eye shadow...it's not a good look for you. You will regret it.  

- Make your mother take you to have your eyebrows shaped and waxed, because honestly, you don't know what you're doing. Trust me, you'll thank me for helping you avoid that summer before you turn 16. The summer you pluck your eyebrows into tiny squares above your eyes. Those babies take FOREVER to grow back! 

- When you're 16, a boy is going to give your first kiss in the back of the church van on the way home from a youth group function. You will think this boy is the one, and you will lock yourself in your room and listen to Cyndi Thompson and Carolyn Dawn Johnson for months after you break up. Honey, that heartache will pass, because he's not even your first love. 

- At 17, you will finally get to date the boy of your dreams. The one you've been in love with since kindergarten. The one you spent every summer with since you were 6. He will be you're first love, but he's going to break your heart. You will want to hate him. You will say the meanest things to each other. Try to be nice. Even though it feels like it, that heartache isn't going to kill you. And someday when you're my age you will look back and smile, because he played a huge part in shaping your into the woman you are today. 

- You're curly hair isn't so bad. It's one of the most beautiful things about you. Quit spending two hours trying to straighten it. It looks awful straight-you will have the pictures to prove it. :)

- Spend more time with your grandparents. They will be gone before you know it. 

- Also at 16, your dad is going to leave. It's going to rock you to your core. It's going to break you in places you thought would never be touched by heartache and pain. Trust me, you are going to be okay, even though it doesn't feel like it. And this is only the beginning. The next few years are going to be a roller coaster of ups and downs. Lies, betrayal, and heartache. That will eventually end in their divorce. But, know that through it all you will become strong. You will find that you can weather anything. And from the ashes, you will get a much better father, who will actually spend time with you and support you in all your crazy antics. Just hold on...there are bluer skies ahead. 

- That summer, before you turn 18, you are going to fall in love with the boy who will eventually become your husband. Enjoy those early years. 

- As much as you love Randy, you need to finish college BEFORE you get married! Your mom is not crazy! Trust me, you don't want to have to take classes when you're 26...they're hard!

- Wait to have sex. Your youth pastor wasn't kidding. I know it's hard, but you will regret it.

- Try harder to make friends in college.

- There is a great big world out there beyond your hometown...experience it before you get married.

- I know you hate your sister, Randi. I know you fight ALL the time. But, be nicer to her. There is coming a day when she is going to be your best friend. 

- I know you and Kasie are 5 years apart, but make more time for her. Get to know her. Don't wait until your 26, and she's getting on a plane to move 3000 miles away.

- I know you get tired of being a second mom to Faith, but know that little girl looks up to you, and someday you are going to be her lifeline. You two are going to have a bond that no one will ever replace. 

- You're weird. It's better if you start accepting it now. But, I actually prefer "quirky"...it's more endearing. 

- Your clothing choices will get better with age. Too bad, you'll be 25 before you FINALLY figure it out. 

-  Quit trying to fit in with girls who will never accept you for who you are. People who laugh and make fun of you all the time ARE NOT your friends. 

- Quit comparing yourself to other girls. The truth is that even the prettiest, most popular girl is trying to be something she's not. 

- Don't ever forget that you ARE beautiful. You ARE one of a kind. A true original. Embrace it. 

- Enjoy every season you get to play volleyball. You are going to miss playing, and you will miss the girls you get to play with even more. 

- Someday you are FINALLY going to figure out the whole singing thing. You've got a good base, you just need to figure out your range. Quit worrying about it. Remember that time you, Randi, and Charissa were fooling around, singing in the youth room and your inner soul singer came out?! Sure they laughed at you, and told you that you sounded ridiculous, but THAT sound?! That deep, soulful sound that comes from your tiny little body? That's your range. Embrace it. 

- Also, embrace your love for Broadway. Don't wait until you are 26 to audition for your first musical. 

- Leave your heart open. You are going to meet people and find amazing friends in the most unusual places. 

- Quit letting other people define you: friends, the media, boys. Define yourself. You will be happier when you can finally smile at the girl in the mirror. 

I think I could go on and on. I often think about that girl-that awkward girl I was at 15. I think about her glasses, her make up, her clothes, her insecurities, and her desperation to fit in-to be accepted. My heart aches for her. I know that adolescence-the "teen years"-is something we all have to endure. But, if I could turn back the hands of time, I would want to go back and help her figure it out. I would help her brave the waters. Because maybe, just maybe, if I could have overcame some of those insecurities at 15, I wouldn't have to fight the urge to cringe at the girl in the mirror even now at 26. 

I'm getting better. I'm finding my way. As I blogged before, my re-introduction  has been a process. Definitely not something that just happened overnight. I still struggle with self-image. I still look at the girl in the mirror and in my pictures and my first thought is ALWAYS something I want change about her: her crooked nose, her flat chest, her 60 year old woman lips :)  It takes a lot to fight back the urge to NOT see myself that way. It takes a lot to just smile at her. To tell myself I'm beautiful every. single. day. Yep, self-love and acceptance have never been easy for me, and I wish I could of started this process 10 years ago when I think it would of made a huge difference. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Q & A

Well, I just did this the other day and received very little response :( But, I will not be discouraged, because Nicole over at The Marine Wife Unplugged tagged me again, and since I like her, I'm gonna give this little game another spin! :) 

The Rules
1. You must post the rules (and link up who tagged you).
2. Post eleven fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
4. Tag however many people you want
5. Let them know you've tagged them!

Well, since I'm tired and I would have a terrible time coming up with 11 NEW things about myself, I'm just going to use the 11 facts I posted the other day. Feel free to skim on down if you've already read them! :)

11 Facts About Me

1. After an almost 4 year hiatus, I have returned back to school to finish my education.
2. My major is Healthcare Management.
3. Someday I WILL run a hospital...err, or maybe just a department IN a hospital. 
4. I love the medical field, but I could never be a doctor or a nurse. 
5. I'm also not smart enough to be in the IT department.
6. Therefore, I will opt to boss people around.
7. I'm good at being bossy...it's kind of a problem.
8. It's probably because I'm an oldest child.
9. Tomorrow I will inflict some of my bossiness on my college bookstore who has now messed my book order up for a class TWICE
10. TWICE?! How unprofessional is that?! And because of them, I was not able to finish or submit my homework tonight! Grr! 
11. Yes, I realize all of these things are about school...you were warned. 

Nicole's Questions For Me

1. Have you ever told a stranger about salvation through Christ? Yes. I had the privilege of attending several mission trips when I was high school and I was able to share the message of salvation with several children. 

2. Have you ever been to a chiropractor? Yes. My chiropractor is the only reason I slept AT ALL during my pregnancy with Emma. 

3. When you first learned about PTSD, what did you think of it? I learned a lot about it through Nicole's blog, and I can remember thinking how sad and painful it must be that so many military families are dealing with this mental disorder. It still breaks my heart that these men and women sacrifice their lives everyday for this country, and come home so broken. 

4. Have you ever regretted being married? (If you're single, skip this one.) Yes. I have expressed multiple times through my blog, this past year has been really hard on my marriage. I would be lying if I said I hadn't thought this at least once over the last year. But, I am fully committed to my marriage and doing everything I can to make it work. Sometimes my flesh gets the best of me. 

5. If your spouse said they wanted you to wear skirts for the rest of your life because he loved how you looked in them, would you have a problem with that? I would not. As I have expressed before, my husband and I have a very Biblical marriage and I believe that it is my job to respect and honor his wishes. Even in my clothing choices. 

6. What are you most thankful for today? My daughter. My relationship with my sister, Randi. The amazing friends I have around me to lift me up and see me through even on the roughest days. 

7. How often have you been angered by things you have read on my blog? Never. I appreciate your honesty and how you speak the truth. I have looked to you as a spiritual mentor for quite sometime! 

8. Describe a time you helped someone out anonymously and did not seek recognition for it. I work in the Healthcare field so I feel like I am constantly going above and beyond to help patients, even in the little things like opening up an unavailable appointment time for them or listening to them. I never do it for recognition. I love my job and I love helping people. 

9. What household chore do you gripe about performing the most? I actually LIKE to do housework. I have expressed before that I am a little OCD about my house :) But, if I had to pick  something, I would say laundry. Sometimes running my dryer multiple times to get my clothes dry, folding everything and then putting it away can get a little tedious. 

10. How can you tell if someone is really following the Messiah? Through their actions. The way they live their life. 

11. Do you think that Barack Obama is a good president? No. I don't. I disagree with a lot of his views and policies, but I try not to push my political views on anyone. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that no matter what, the Lord has called us to pray for the leaders of our country whether we like them or not. 

11 Questions For You

1. If you could vacation anywhere in the world and money was not a concern, 
    where would you go?
2. Whose your best friend? Why?
3. Facebook addict or Twitter addict?
4. Where is your favorite place to shop?
5. What is your go-to clothing item?
6. If you had to read one author for the rest of your life, 

    whose books would you want to read?
7. If you only had one day left to live, what would you do and who would spend with?
8. Tell us the top 3 items on your DVR list?
9. Tell us the color of the dress you wore to your senior prom?
10. What is your favorite childhood memory?
11. Mountains or the beach?

Yeah, these are TOTALLY my questions from the other day! But, nobody answered them! So, I'm good...right?! ;)

Now for the fun part! I tag the following lovelies to complete this challenge! 

Michelle over at Along Came Ellie
Brittany over at Living In The Moment
Rachel Joy over at Cool Beans Mommas
Katie over at A Southern Soap Opera

Okay, girls! Take it away! :)

Blame It On The Rain

I'm feeling a little broken today. Broken over a situation that is completely out of my control. And yet I still find myself grasping at nothing...wanting to do anything to make it better. Unfortunately there is no balm for this wound. No magical cure. And so today, I'm just sad. I'm going to curl up in my warm bed, shed a few tears, and find the strength to make it through today, tomorrow, the weekend, and the weeks ahead. It's gonna be rough, but I can do it. I will do it. I'm tougher than I look, you know?

But, today I'm not okay. Blame it on the rain, but today I hurt. I just hurt. And for the moment...for the time being...I think that's perfectly okay.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Here! It's Here!

After begging and pleading for over a year, we finally had the extra money for a new bedspread!

 Randy and I received a beautiful quilted bedspread for our wedding shower 5 years ago, and trust me that bedspread has seen it all...toe nail polish/glue, kid puke, grown-up puke, food that was NEVER supposed to be in the bedroom, etc. After five years of washing, drying, and wear and tear that bedspread has finally seen it's last days, and I couldn't be happier!

So, drum roll please...

Ta da! I bought this bedspread today at Target, and I couldn't wait to get home and put it on my bed! In fact, my old bedspread is still laying on the floor in my room...LOL! I couldn't wait to show ya'll! So, be impressed! Feel free to leave plenty of ooh's and ahh's in the comments for me! ;)

Anyway, Randy wasn't too thrilled with the birds, but I LOVE them! I keep telling him, "At least it doesn't have giant flowers on it!" or "It could be pink, you know?!" :) That has hushed him for the time being! LOL! Plus, in an effort to "save money", I bought a bedspread that went with the paint in our bedroom and sheets we already have...SCORE! We do need new flannel sheets for the winter months, but I can wait until those go on sale to buy some for next year! Maybe that will be my "so-glad-you-passed-your-midterms" present! We'll see...;)

Yes, today I am one happy girl! I am so grateful that my husband was able to pinch our pennies so that we could finally afford this! We are blessed! And I am blessed to have such a wonderful hubby! Love you, babe! :)

Happy, happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Pencil Gender Test

My grandmother is the queen of old wive's tales. We always eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day, and we always waited at least 15 minutes after eating before we were allowed to get into the pool. But, probably her most popular old wive's tale is the pencil test.

If you aren't familiar with the pencil test, it's a gender prediction test that originated in Hungary. You take a sharpened pencil and stick a needle into the eraser on top of the pencil. You then thread a piece of sewing thread through the needle. The thread can be of any thickness, but it has to be long enough so that the pencil can hang freely with the tip of the pencil touching your wrist. You then lay your arm on a sturdy surface, palm up, and wrist exposed. Be sure that you are not performing the test outside or near any type of fan, because any type of wind can change the results of the test. You then hold the thread, so that the tip of the pencil is barely touching your wrist. The pencil should begin to move in small circles, and eventually it will start swinging up and down, or side to side. If it moves up and down the length of your arm, you are going to have a boy. If it moves side to side, then you will have a girl. If the test is performed correctly, it will move small circles between each prediction. So, if your first child is supposed to be a girl, it will move side to side for a while, and then it will start swinging in small circles again before it tells you the gender of your second child.

Also, for the record, you do not have to be pregnant to have this test performed. So, before anyone makes this post into something it's not...I am NOT pregnant. Just so were clear. We were just fooling around yesterday at my Grandma's. That's it. Don't call my mother-in-law and tell her I'm expecting, okay?! Okay.

Anyway, it's silly, right?! Well, the funny thing is that this test has been preformed on EVERY woman in my family, and so far it has been correct. In fact, yesterday my mom sat down at the table and the pencil swung side to side four different times to indicate that she had given birth to four girls...and she has! We proceeded to perform the test on several of the girls in my family (Lord, there are a lot of girls in my family! 8 grand daughters total!). I even consented to have it done again, since I didn't remember my results from the last time.

The pencil test indicated that I would have a girl first, which I do, and then it said I would have another girl, and then a boy. So, that's 2 girls and a boy for me. Wow. I'm interested to see if it's true, especially since it was so accurate for my mom! But, to be honest, I really only want to have two kids! Man! Decisions, decisions! :)

Also, just for fun we attempted the test on my husband. And guess what? That pencil stayed perfectly still! It didn't move AT ALL! How weird is that?! Huh. It definitely makes you think! :)

Have any of you ever heard of the pencil gender test? Has anyone ever performed it on you?

Anyway, I don't know if it's true or not, but I did kind of smile when my husband wasn't looking, because I think another girl...a sister for Emma...is exactly what I want someday.

Thank you, pencil test! :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Light The Bonfire, Then Call The Girls..."

I love the song "Dirt Road Anthem" by Jason Aldean. I just love it. If you haven't heard it, here's it is:

This song perfectly describes my life and what my husband and I consider to be a good time. Gravel roading late at night and bonfires that consist of a couple chairs and a Ford truck backed up, windows down, and music blaring-no fancy sound systems and no bartender-just our friends, a couple coolers, and good conversation. I love it. Around here that's a Saturday night done right.

Last night was one of those Saturday nights. Yes, it was 30 degrees and VERY cold, but we managed to get several of our friends together and Randy was able to light a big enough fire to keep us all warm. I made a crockpot full of chili, a pot of coffee to chase away the chill, and we sat around in our warmest clothes listening to country music and just talking. It was awesome.

In the summer things get a little more rowdy, and a good bonfire might turn into an evening of gravel roading, but even in the dead of winter we know how to have a good time. We know how to come together after a hectic week of work, school, and busy lives to relax and unwind. There is nothing better. I don't care who you are.

What about you? How do you like to spend a weekend with friends?

Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 20, 2012


See this boy. 

One of the bestest, most amazing things about him is that he trusts me. Completely. And you know what? I trust him too. Completely. 

Yes, the past year has been a struggle. Yes, there were days that I wondered if I'd ever see the light at the end of the tunnel...and to be honest, I still have those days. But, no matter what life throws our way, I know I can trust him. Always. Our marriage may have been shaken, but it has not crumbled. We are still clinging to the foundation of honesty and trust that we built this marriage on, and nobody is going to change that. Period. 

Sure, I know we're young. Very, very young. I also know that we have a long way to go. But, you know, I've loved this boy since I was 17 years old. I know him better than anyone else. And no one knows me like he does. Our love is 10 years in the making and counting, and we would of never made it this far if we had built it on a foundation of lies and broken promises. Yes, we're definitely made out of the strong stuff. The good stuff. And for us, that's the key. 

We may not have all the answers. We may not have a perfect marriage...in fact, ours is far from it. But, I do know that no matter how rough the waters get, our mutual trust and respect for each is what keeps us afloat and helps us weather the storm. Because some days that's all you have to cling to: trust, respect, and honesty. And no one is going to take that from us. No one. 

Don't worry, I'm not naive. I know it would only take a moment to shatter years of trust into a million tiny pieces, but I also know the Lord is protecting us and our marriage. He is blessing us for walking through the fire, instead of running away from it. For giving this marriage everything we've got to give and then giving it more. For our commitment to make something beautiful out of our ashes. And that is all the reason we need to keep moving forward. To keep hoping. To keep trusting each.

So, do you see this boy?
Yep, that's the boy who has my heart,
and every ounce of trust I have to give. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012


I found this cute post over at  Lucy's totally awesome blog! After I read her's, I just knew I had to participate, especially with the craziness that has been this week, and I really don't have anything substantial to offer you! LOL! :) I hope you all will play along! 

1. Post the rules.
2. Post 11 things about you.
3. Answer the questions the tagger asked you.
4. Write 11 new questions for those you tag.

11 Things About Me

1. After an almost 4 year hiatus, I have returned back to school to finish my education.
2. My major is Healthcare Management.
3. Someday I WILL run a hospital...err, or maybe just a department IN a hospital. 
4. I love the medical field, but I could never be a doctor or a nurse. 
5. I'm also not smart enough to be in the IT department.
6. Therefore, I will opt to boss people around.
7. I'm good at being bossy...it's kind of a problem.
8. It's probably because I'm an oldest child.
9. Tomorrow I will inflict some of my bossiness on my college bookstore who has now messed my book order up for a class TWICE
10. TWICE?! How unprofessional is that?! And because of them, I was not able to finish or submit my homework tonight! Grr! 
11. Yes, I realize all of these things are about school...you were warned. 

11 Questions For Me

1. If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be?  My grandpa. I want to hug him one last time. 

2. What's your favorite smell? I love the smell of clean sheets. Love it! 

3. If you had to choose 3 bands to listen to for the rest of your life, who would they be? Sugarland, Augustana, Adele

4. Chocolate Frosty or Vanilla Frosty? Chocolate

5. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher

6. Ice or no ice in your drink? Lots of ice! 

7. If they were to make a movie of your life, who would play you? Emmy Rossum

8. Guilty pleasure food? Oatmeal cream pies...yum!

9. If you had to choose between having perfect health for the rest of your life or having an unlimited supply of money, which would you choose? Show me the money! I'm shallow like that! ;)

10. How would you describe yourself in 3 words. Crazy. Goal-oriented. Self aware. 

11. Most important accomplishment you have done thus far in life. My beautiful daughter.

11 Questions For You

1. If you could vacation anywhere in the world and money was not a concern, where would you go? 
2. Whose your best friend? Why?
3. Facebook addict or Twitter addict?
4. Where is your favorite place to shop?
5. What is your go-to clothing item?
6. If you had to read one author for the rest of your life, whose books would you want to read?
7. If you only had one day left to live, what would you do and who would spend with?
8. Tell us the top 3 items on your DVR list?
9. Tell us the color of the dress you wore to your senior prom?
10. What is your favorite childhood memory? 
11. Mountains or the beach?

I'm tagging anyone who wants to be tagged. Feel free to answer my questions and make some up of your own...don't be shy! 

Happy Thursday! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My First Day

Today is the day! Today is the day! Today after a 3 year hiatus, I am officially a college student again. I have already been busy this morning finding my way around my three online classes and working on my introductions for each discussion board...yes, things are definitely in full swing already.

I think the thing I am most excited about this semester is the opportunity to finally take classes that have to do with my major! As boring as Business Communications and The Legal Environment of Business sound, they are classes that actually pertain to my future career and that is so exciting to me...I'm pathetic, I know.

Anyway, I just wanted to relish in the excitement for a moment, because I know the weeks to come will not only be overwhelming, but frustrating at times, and probably over the next few weeks you will notice that I'm not around here very much anymore, and when I am you won't be able to sense the excitement in my voice. Yes, I know learning to juggle school, work, and full-time motherhood is going to be a huge challenge, and to be honest, I really do welcome it. I welcome what these classes- the beginning of this journey signifies for my future...for Emma's future. I know that no matter how hard the next few weeks are, no matter how many times I want to cry, no matter how many nights I'm up late finishing assignments and taking quizzes...that in the end it will all be worth it. Every single minute of it.

I hope that all of you will keep me in your thoughts and prayers over the next few months. I'm going to need all the encouragement I can get.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Things "What To Expect" Never Told Me

Like most of you, I lived by my "What To Expect When Your Expecting" book while I was pregnant. I would excitedly wait for each month of my pregnancy, so I could pour over a new chapter and take to heart everything the author was telling me. I read as she put my worries to rest, and gave me insight into my baby's development. It was my pregnancy Bible.

After Emma was born, a friend loaned me, "What To Expect The First Year". I gratefully accepted it, but I didn't have as much time to pour over it, as I did during my pregnancy. I still eagerly checked each chapter that corresponded with Emma's age just to make sure she was on target. I found it to be a valuable resource, but I never expected it to have all the answers...well, maybe I did.

As a first time mom, I relied on books, friends with multiple children, and my mother to guide me through that first year and on into the toddler years. I took everything they said to heart, and I expected Emma to respond accordingly. Unfortunately, there is only one truth that applies to every child and that is, "Every child is different. Just because something works for one, doesn't necessarily mean it will work for another." Of course, I was young and naive, and I didn't realize how true this statement was until after Emma turned 2.

Emma's 2nd year has been...interesting. We have struggled with everything from picky eating to discipline techniques to potty training. I know these are normal things that most parents struggle with. I know I'm not the first person to have ever experienced these things, or to write blog posts with a unanimous theme: HELP! But, I can think of several instances just in the last year when I was looking from Emma to my blank page with the blinking cursor and thinking, "Where was this in the 'What To Expect' books?" 

Here are just a few examples:

- Nobody EVER told me that my husband would have such a pathetic avoidance to puke. I've heard him say on multiple occasions that he "does not do puke", however I never really believed him until last January when Emma and I both had the stomach flu . Since my 20 month old had no idea what vomiting was or how to tell me she needed to go to the bathroom, I spent my evening cleaning up the trail of vomit from the living room to the bathroom, all while taking breaks every 30 minutes to go puke myself. Now before you think that my husband is some kind of insensitive jerk who just sat on the couch while I did all of this, he did TRY to help me by putting Emma in the bath while I cleaned up the puke...even though I still had to go in there and wash the puke out of her hair. He's so sweetAnother instance happened recently, when during a coughing spell, Emma puked all over her bed. Instead of immediately putting the sheets in the washing machine AND washing them...my husband stripped her bed and laid the sheets in the floor of the laundry room, so the puke could dry on them overnight. Awesome. Now where was the chapter about how to make your husband mind over matter puke? Because after all your in this together...right?! :)

- People always sugar coat how difficult potty training is. Sure they tell you, "Potty training is hard. But, if you stick with it, they will eventually get it!" But, they never tell you how SICK you will be of cleaning pee out of the carpet...after only the FIRST DAY. They never tell you about the beast potty training will bring out in you, or that you will find yourself sobbing to your husband that...after only one day...you know for a fact that your child is simply NOT ready. But, if your husband is smart, he will tell you to take a break, go for a drive, and encourage you to stick with it. And in the end, after two weeks (instead of the one week everyone promised you), your child will eventually get it and you will laugh at the crazy woman you let it turn you into.

- My nephew was a picky eater. He still is. When Emma became picky, I thought I knew what to expect and Randy and I both swore that we would never let Emma be that picky. Boy, were we wrong. We tried everything: we fought her, we begged her, we caved...I even quit making spaghetti, because she hated it so much. No one ever tells you how picky eating will take over your life. It will affect everything from your cooking to your marriage. It is a struggle. And for the record, a picky eater with a sensitive gag reflex is NEVER fun. I feel like we've made huge strides in the picky eating department over the last few months, but in the beginning, I didn't know if we'd ever make it. If it would ever get better. Let me be the first to tell you, I don't know when it will get better, but it probably will. You just have to keep trying.

These are only a few of the instance I found myself thinking about Saturday night as I stood in the middle of an indoor swim park while my nephew puked all over me. Yep, in that moment, I was definitely wondering, "Where was the chapter about how to handle puking in public places? I must have missed it." Well, I managed to pull myself together, and thanks to a gracious stranger who handed me several towels while smiling sympathetically at me, I was able to get my nephew, myself, and the area where we were standing semi-cleaned up, as well as inform the staff that they may want to disinfect the entire water park. It was a definitely a learning experience, and I will never again underestimate a four-year old with tummy ache. EVER.

I'm sure we've all had moments like this. Moments that just weren't in any of the books. How did you handle them? What are some of the things you wished someone would of told you about motherhood or parenting? I would love to hear about them. Who knows, maybe between all of us, we could write our own "What To Expect" book! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why I Don't Think Jesus Hates Religion

As many of you already know, this video has gone viral on YouTube and Facebook. I first encountered this video Wednesday morning when my cousin re-posted it to his Facebook wall. I thought the title was interesting, but I didn't bother to watch it until another blogger I follow decided to share it as her Wednesday blog post. I was intrigued and clicked play. The emotions that followed were indescribable.

At first I felt convicted. I was convicted by several of the truths I heard in the video. I was convicted about my relationship with Jesus, and about how the world views Christianity. As I've mentioned before, I attend a very conservative Baptist church. So, I have had a front row seat to instances when minor issues like dress code and music preferences can over shadow the hope and truth that is Jesus Christ. So, I am well aware that most of the world view Christians and "religious" people as snobs who are constantly trying to pass judgement on other people. That is why how I portray myself and my relationship with Jesus is a huge concern in my life. I never want people to perceive me as perfect or self-righteous, but as a sinner saved by grace. I try not to pass judgement on anyone, because I am well aware of my own faults. Sure, I'm the first to speak up and out against something I think is wrong or something I don't agree with, but I would never look someone in the face and say, "I'm better than you, because I disagree with you or my religious perspective disagrees with you." 

With that said, my initial conviction was followed by concern. I was concerned by some of the things Jefferson Bethke was claiming to be truth in this video. I wasn't quite sure why I disagreed with him. I mean, after all, he does make a great case, and even I was caught up in the "emotion" and "hype" of the video. I just knew that there was something off about it and I couldn't put my finger on it. 

Well, this morning an old youth pastor of mine shared a great article. An eye opening article by Kevin DeYoung. I was blown away by some of the things Mr. DeYoung was saying and I just knew I had to share it with you. So, please take a minute and go read THIS ARTICLE. I'll wait for you to come back, so I can share the rest of my thoughts with you. Go on...I'll be here. 

Okay, did you read it? What did you think? Did you agree with what Mr. DeYoung was saying or did you think that he was sharing some things that only solidified Bethke's video? 

In my opinion, DeYoung was saying a lot of thoughts I was having out loud, but that I didn't know how to put into words. Even though I was raised in the church and I have had an extensive Christian education, I still don't know my Bible like I should (shame on me, I know). But when he started mentioning verse after verse that were valid arguments to Bethke's claim, I felt myself going, "Yes. Yes. Yes! Exactly!" Now don't get me wrong, I realize that this is just one man's opinion, and I will be investigating these verses for myself. But, in my opinion the Bible is the ultimate truth and you can't argue with Scripture. I think that's were Bethke's argument falls short...where is his Scripture to back it up? I think that's a valid question. 

I guess I say all of this to say, that I do realize that there are churches and "Christians" out there who give Christianity and religion a bad name. Shame on us who see these faults in the church, yet choose to sit idly by and allow them to continue to happen. Shame on us for not making more of a stand. But, I do believe that too many young Christians or "modern-day Christians" are caught up in the "feel-good" theology that too many churches are preaching today. False doctrine that says things like "Jesus is never angry or hurt by your choices" or "It's perfectly okay to act one way throughout the week, and then act a completely different way at church, because Jesus loves you". Churches who only preach the parts of Scripture that never step on anyone's toes or draw true conviction out of them. I believe that the Bible gives very clear and distinctive guidelines that we should strive to live our life by. I don't think that we should pick and choose only the "rules" that make us feel comfortable in our lifestyle. We should strive everyday to be like Jesus, not just in the way He loved the unloved or fed the needy, but also in the way He turned His back on sin and encouraged everyone to truly repent and make God changes in their lives. 

Like I said before, I know I'm not perfect. I have un-confessed sin in my life as we speak. I am human. Everyday I try to embrace the huge lump of gratitude I feel in my chest toward my Savior who took all my sin upon Him and died on the cross for me. He was sinless and pure, yet He loved me so much that He made a way for me to spend eternity with Him despite my faults. Mercy and grace are truly beautiful things. Gifts I don't deserve, but that Christ freely gives to me every. single. day. He loves me in spite of my mess, and that is a beautiful. Truly beautiful.

So, I do believe that when He said, "It is finished"...He meant it. But I don't think He was abolishing religion with those words. He was simply saying, "Here, my child. I've made the way. It is finished. Come to me and I will give you rest." And no matter whose right or whose wrong, we can all agree that rest and peace are two of the best things my Jesus is offering. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Top 10 Favorite Christian Songs

I grew up in a Christian home where I was not allowed to listen to secular music...AT ALL. In fact, I still change the station to our local Christian station when my mom is in the car. Despite the fact that I got tired of Christian music growing up, I will say that now that I am able to choose, I often find myself listening to the local Christian radio station, downloading uplift Christian music for those really bad days, and perusing iTunes for songs I can sing in church.

Christian music is very much apart of me, so I knew I couldn't do my top 10 lists without giving a shout out to some of my favorite Christian artists.

10. "All I Need"- JJ Heller

9. "Enough"- Barlow Girl

8. "Love Song For A Savior"- Jars of Clay

7. "Restless"- Audrey Assad

6. "Lovely Day"- Out of Eden

5. "This Little Light of Mine"- Addison's Road

4. "Draw Me Nearer"-Meredith Andrews

3. "Here I Am To Worship"- Chris Tomlin

2. "Blessings"- Laura Story

1. "If You Want Me To"- Ginny Owens

Like my Christian education, I am extremely grateful for the emphasis my mom put on Christian music in my life. I know that all of the values and beliefs I have now are a result of my mom's continuous effort to keep Christ at the center of our lives. So, this post is dedicated to my mom. Thank you.

I hope you are all enjoying your Friday! Any big plans for your weekend? I know we have several dinner dates with friends this weekend that I am really excited about, and I'm going to pick up my books for school on Saturday! I can't believe classes start next Tuesday! Ahhh! This momma is not quite ready for her juggling act, but hopefully I'll get the hang of it before too long! :) Say a little prayer for me if you think of me this week! 

Happy Weekending! 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Top 10 Favorite Country Songs

As many of you know, I'm a country girl at heart. When I'm not listening to my iPod, my radio station is fixed to  our local country music station. I love bonfires, tailgating, and back roads with friends. I love to dance to a slow moving country song, and I'm a firm believer that only country music can express your heartbreak just right. So, I knew while writing  yesterday's post, that I would have to have a separate list for my Country Music Top 10!

Now, for a disclaimer: I love Sugarland! I LOVE them! Probably my #1 highlight of 2011 was going to their concert in concert in St. Louis with my cousin, Taylor. I have some amazing memories of that night! I loved standing in that pit and singing every word of every Sugarland song with people I didn't know, but who I knew had great taste in country music. It was a moving experience, one I won't forget. And since I love them so much, it would be easy for me to turn this Country Music Top 10 into a Sugarland Top 10 list. But, since I've already shared my top 5 Sugarland songs, I will spare you this round. You will not see a single Sugarland song in this list, because there is no way I could pick just one or two.

So, without further adieu, my Country Music Top 10 List!

10. "These Days"- Rascal Flatts

9. "Landslide"- Dixie Chicks

8. "Livin' Our Love Song"- Jason Michael Carroll

7. "More To Me Than You"- Jessica Andrews

6. "Dirt Road Anthem"- Jason Aldean

5. "Better In The Long Run"- Miranda Lambert with Blake Shelton

4. "In Terms of Love"-SheDaisy

3. "Breathe"- Taylor Swift

2.  "Tennessee"- The Wreckers

1.  "When You Got A Good Thing"- Lady Antebellum

This list was hard for me. I think I could do a Top 20 or 30 List for country music and still not tell you absolutely every country song I love right now. So instead I tried to pick one song that I love from each of my favorite artists, and I tried to pick ones that not everyone has heard, just to keep things interesting. I hope you enjoyed listening to them, and who knows maybe you found a few new favorites to add to your list. 

I am still taking blog topic suggestions, so feel free to leave me a comment and let me know what you would like to see more of around my little corner of the blog-o-sphere! :) 

I hope everyone is having a beautiful Thursday!

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I do not receive monetary compensation from any of the products, companies, or organizations I promote through my blog, unless otherwise specified during a giveaway or promotion. I am just your average mom trying to share products that I enjoy with other moms, as well as organizations and charities I believe in.