Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Heart Books

I'm a total bookworm. Always have been, always will be. Here's a list of what I've read these past few years, along with links to my reviews where applicable. I hope you find a book or two to try out, and I *ALWAYS* love to hear your recommendations!

What I Read in 2013
1. The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
2. The Silent Land by Graham Joyce 
3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle 
4. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay  
5. The Giver by Lois Lowry 
6. What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman 
7. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn  
8. And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman  
9. Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood  
10. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve 
11. The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley  
12. The Book of Secrets by Elizabeth Joy Arnold  
13. The Bear by Claire Cameron 
14. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple  
15. The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan 
16. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
17. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

What I Read in 2012
#1- What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith
#2- The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
#3- Legend by Marie Lu
#4- Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
#5- The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
#6- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
#7- Maine: A Novel by J. Courtney Sullivan
#8- House Rules by Jodi Picoult
#9- Diary of A Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee
#10- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
#11- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
#12- Pure by Julianna Baggott
#13- You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth
#14- Once Upon A Time, There Was You by Elizabeth Berg
#15- The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
#16- The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge
#17- You Have No Idea by Vanessa Williams and Helen Williams
#18- The Passage by Justin Cronin
#19-The First Husband by Laura Dave
#20- The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
#21 Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
#22- 11/22/63 by Stephen King
#23-Insurgent by Veronica Roth
#24- Gold by Chris Cleave
#25- The Understory by Pamela Erens
#26- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
#27- Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
#28- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout

What I Read in 2011
#1- Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
#2- The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
#3- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
#4- Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels
#5- The Story Jar by Deborah Bedford, Angela Elwell Hunt, and Robin Lee Hatcher
#6- Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
#7-The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
#8- Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo
#9- The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
#10- The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
#11- The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
#12-Under the Dome by Stephen King
#13- Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
#14- The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
#15- Posh by Lucy Jackson
#16- Rescue by Anita Shreve
#17- A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
#18- The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
#19- Little Bee by Chris Cleave
#20- If I Stay by Gayle Forman
#21- Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld
#22- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
#23- Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
#24- Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
#25- What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
#26- A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
#27- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
#28-The Kid by Sapphire
#29- Pretties by Scott Westerfeld
#30-The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi Durrow
#31- These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
#32- Room by Emma Donoghue
#33- Bitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong
#34- Slow Love by Dominique Browning
#35-An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
#36- The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
#37- 31 Days to Clean- Having a Martha House the Mary Way by Sarah Mae
#38-The Bake-Off by Beth Kendrick
#39- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
#40-Food Rules by Michael Pollan
#41 Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
#42- Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
#43-Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
#44-Love at First Bark by Julie Klam
#45- In the Woods by Tana French
#46- The Likeness by Tana French
#47-Faithful Place by Tana French
#48-Little Face by Sophie Hannah
#49-Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
#50- Matched by Allyson Condie
#51- Divergent by Veronica Roth
#52- Lunch Wars by Amy Kalafa

What I Read in 2010
#1- A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
#2- The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
#3- The Myth of You and Me by Leah Stewart
#4- The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve
#5- Talk Before Sleep By Elizabeth Berg
#6- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover
#7- Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
#8- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
#9-Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon
#10- The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
#11- The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski
#12- Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott
#13- The Help by Kathryn Stockett
#14- The Girls by Lori Lansens
#15-Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#16- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
#17- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
#18- A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve
#19- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
#20 The Host by Stephenie Meyer
#21- Never Tell Our Business to Strangers: A Memoir by Jennifer Mascia
#22- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
#23- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
#24- The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
#25- Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon
#26- Hector and the Search For Happiness by Fracois Lelord

Brief Reviews prior to 2010:
The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl by Susan McCorkindale
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
A Blessed Event by Jean Reynolds Page

The Kiddos

{A go-to, one-stop shop for all things pregnancy, baby, postpartum, and kiddo related}

Lizzy's Pregnancy


Letters to Lizzy


Pregnancy #2

PR

I'm thrilled that you're potentially interested in advertising or partnering with La Buena Vida! 
My little corner of the internet may not be breaking any records for monthly page views, but it does have a loyal following of amazing men and women who come here because of the real conversations and the community--don't miss out on them!

In the past, I have been blessed to be able to work with a select few brands to produce occasional reviews and giveaways here on my blog. If you're looking for a guaranteed good review, I'm not your girl. But if you're looking for thoughtful and honest reviews that your buyers can trust, let's talk. Email me any time at labuenavidablog@gmail.com

Sample Reviews, Giveaways, and Sponsored Posts

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Photography

The fall of my junior year in high school, I wanted to take yearbook as an elective, but my last name was at the end of the alphabet, and by the time it was my turn to register for classes, it was full. Like always. The only electives left? Metal Shop and Photography. I had zero desire to be in photography--who wanted to mess around with chemicals and be in the dark room? Not me....but I didn't have a choice. 

Much to my surprise, I loved everything about it. I loved the ancient old Pentax camera with film that I had to wind myself. I loved spending hours at a time in the darkroom, watching the images slowly develop before my eyes. So, for every semester after that until I graduated, I became the photography TA.


Then, I went to college. I'd mentioned to my advisor that I was thinking of minoring in photography, and somehow he pulled some strings and got me into a full upper division photography class. And then, I somehow acquired a work-study job running the darkroom. And the rest is history...

I still love film photography, and have almost a complete darkroom stashed out in our garage...but I just don't have the time for it anymore, and have almost exclusively made the switch to digital. 

I'm not a pro, and I don't have a fancy $5000 camera, but I love taking photos all the same. It helps me remember the beauty and blessings, even in the mundane. I don't think YOU need to be a pro or have a super-fancy camera to take great photos either...let's learn together. 

{Note: Photography has taken a bit of a backseat in my life lately, which I'm really bummed about! I'm hoping to start re-introducing photography tutorials here on my blog soon, but in the meantime, here's a few to get you started...}

Tips, Tricks, and Tutorials

Year in Review...

Well, 2008 has been quite a year, so I thought that maybe I'd do a Pictorial Year in Review.

In January, Payton was very excited by the snow

In February, we took my parent's German exchange student to the beach, taught her to play softball on the sand, and went to a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served the biggest bacon cheeseburger known to man. I ordered the "small".

In March, Renee and I showed up to hang out wearing EXACTLY the same outfit.

In April, J and I finally went on our very belated Honeymoon.

In May, we had a reunion with Kait and Jesse. We went out to dinner at our usual spot. Justin and Kait like the same desserts and Jesse and I like the same desserts, so we swap spouses for dessert (no Lisa, not like THAT). The waitress had no idea how to split the bill because she didn't know who was married to who. That's how you know you have good friends. And PS--I hated my hair at this in-between length most of all!

In June, we drove to Table Rock and hiked it. I didn't think about the fact that I might DIE because of my allergies. Still, pretty incredible.
In July, Lisa and I were reunited at a Mariner's game. And I met Lars. And I totally approve.

In August, we finally got the chance to wakeboard.
In September, we discovered a BBQ place that's to DIE for. And cheap, and they have live music!

In October, I had my first photography gig, and I got to do Kelsey's senior pictures.
In November, we bought our first house. Here we are looking like scrubs after painting all day.

In December, Megan, Kaitlin, and I sang the "Squirrley, Squirrley, Shake your bushy tail" song.

Overall, it was a great year. But as always, I'm sure the best is yet to come! Have a happy and safe New Year's everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

My lovely knee.

Is now in a huge freaking brace. As you can see, even my lounge pants don't really fit over the damn brace. My work slacks DEFINITELY don't fit over the brace (lucky me, they're letting me wear nicer yoga pants while I have to wear the brace). And it freaking hurts more to wear the brace than it did before I went it.

The injury isn't likely fixable by surgery. The doctor commented, "I've never seen anything like this before!" If only I had a dollar for every time a doctor had uttered that phrase to me. Appendix in the wrong place, scar tissue where I hadn't had surgery, strange reaction to anesthesia, incurable cough. Doctors always seem puzzled by me.

To add insult to injury, the doctor also said, "While I've never seen anything pop like yours does, even in a brace, the overall injury is common in rather large girls with wide hips." I seriously almost cried. I think he probably was referring more to height with the "rather large" comment, as he then said that this is the injury that female basketball players over 5'10" have 9 times out of 10 (and I am over 5'10"), no girl likes to be called "rather large". Additionally, I'm a little sensitive to the weight that I've gained in the last 3-4 months since I haven't been able to move much with the knee injury. However, the doctor gave me the okay to go spinning again (though I don't know that I'd be able to wear the brace while I'm spinning--it doesn't give much range of motion), so hopefully I'll do that tomorrow.

Just Another Manic Monday

Wooooaaaahhhh oh Woaaaaaahhhhh.

-1 I learned a new knitting stitch. It's called horizontal herringbone. I'm making a scarf for my momma out of it right now, and I have to say, my yarn (purple, blues, and teal) is much prettier. I just must figure out how to do a border on the next one, since the edges are a little uneven for my liking. Anyway, this is a big accomplishment for me because it's the first thing I've done that isn't just some variation of knit, purl. It's the first stitch I've done that made me bust out a knitting dictionary to find out what s1, wyif, kftb meant. It's like learning texting language all over.

2- I got up way too early for my ortho appointment. I can't go back to sleep though because if I set my alarm for 8am, it won't go off until TOMORROW at 8am, even though it isn't 8am yet today. Once it's gone off once in a day, it won't go off until the next day. Unless you're my hubby hitting snooze 100 times.

3- Ryan told me yesterday that he doesn't think I want a cat, he thinks I want a baby, and I'm just hoping that a cat may tide me over. He thinks this because I haven't ever talked about wanting a cat before, which I haven't, though I have wanted one since we've been in the apartment. Still, his assertion may have some merit of truth in it. But the fact of the matter is that we can't afford to live on Justin's salary alone, and judging by the history of really difficult pregnancies in my family, I feel like we can't consider being put on bedrest a remote possibility like most couples would--it's a REAL likelihood. I know, as J always tells me, if we wait until we can afford to have kids, we'll never have kids. But, I'd still like to go into it having some sort of a plan where income minus expenses might realistically allow us to break even.

4- My allergies SUCK today. BAH HUMBUG!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thoughts & Sunday Song

J and I watched the documentary "Jesus Camp" tonight. I had watched part of it in my Sociology of Religion class, but had never finished watching it. I found it on YouTube, so I decided to finish it. I asked Justin to watch it with me because I wanted some feedback from him about the movie. At first, he had a few comments about how "that's kind of cool". I remember having the same feelings. But soon, he started having the intensely negative reaction that I remember having when I saw the movie for the first time. It's just so ODD to watch a group of people who classify themselves as being the same religion that I would classify myself (albeit different sects), behave so completely differently than I would. To say things, justifying them through faith, that I would never say. Personally, I have strong feelings about evangelism, and do not believe that evangelism should happen the way that it does in this movie. I also believe that just because I'm a Christian, I don't have to denounce the idea of global warming, as individuals in this movie suggest. They CAN co-exist. I do not believe that CHILDREN (nor anyone for that matter) should be forced to publicly confess their sins. Yes, confess your sins, but confess them in your heart, not publicly. And I'm sorry, but I absolutely do not believe that praying over and then compelling a bowling ball to make a strike before bowling is necessary.

Towards the end of the movie (the part that I had missed), they show Ted Haggard giving a sermon regarding the evils of homosexuality off his Palm Treo at his home church. He made several completely inappropriate comments during his sermon to the camera-man, including, "I know what you did last night. Give me $1000, and I promise not to tell your wife." Justin didn't immediately pick up on the irony of those comments, but when I told him that Ted Haggard has since admitted to his own homosexuality AND purchasing crystal meth (I know that he claims he didn't actually use it, but judging by the change in his facial structure, I'd beg to differ), J became pretty irate.

For me, the part that's so difficult about this whole thing is that for many, this movie is a portrayal of Christians, as a whole. I know that many people in my Soc. of Religion class didn't know or understand that the people profiled in the movie were a fairly extremist, though growing, sect of Christianity. And I'm sure that this movie repelled many a person from Christianity. Hell, it repelled ME, and I AM a Christian. Ugh.

So, without further adieu, the Sunday Song for this week is "Instead of A Show", by Jon Foreman. Now, I know that I just did a song by Switchfoot last week, and that's kind of ironic since I haven't been listening to Jon Foreman (who is the lead singer for Switchfoot) OR Switchfoot much recently. But, the lyrics to this one particular song kept popping into my head while watching "Jesus Camp". Taken from Isaiah 1:11-17 (A Message for Rebellious Judah), the lyrics say, "I hate all your show. Away with your noisy worship. Away with your noisy praise. I stop up my ears when you're singing them, I hate all your show. Instead, let there be a flood of justice."

This particular sentiment flies right in the face of what those in the movie portrayed. In fact, one little girl who appeared to be 9 or 10 suggested that God doesn't like to visit quiet churches. He only likes to visit churches where the worshipers are loud and 'on fire'--where people lift up their hands to praise Him. Sigh.

I might throw up.

J is currently cooking eggs, and it is the most gawd-awful smell I have ever smelled in my life. I seriously want to throw up. I was going to go in and cook some rice for dinner, but I think I might have to wait awhile.

Justin said that if the Twilight Cat is still available for adoption when we receive our rent refund, I can adopt her. I should really contact the shelter and find out what the cost of the adoption is for her. My only concern is where I'd put the litter box...there isn't really room in any of the bathrooms, and we don't have a pantry or utility room or anything like that. My parents don't even have a litter box because the cat wanders in and outdoors so often. I always worry that the cat will get outside and just try to go back to its old home.

I feel terrible today. Serious sinus and allergy crap going on. I just want to go to sleep...but that's already what I've been doing on and off all day.

I think that I might fast tomorrow. I feel like my stomach was stretched over the holiday, and I'm eating more than I really need to because I don't feel FULL otherwise. I remember doing the 30-hour famine for church, and I was always amazed at how in-tune it made me to the different stages of hunger--hunger twinges don't necessarily mean that I need to feast. It's okay if I let myself get really hungry before I eat. I also remember how much smaller my stomach seemed the day after the 30-hour famine. Suddenly, the "correct" portion sizes actually satisfied me. Still, I don't want to deprive my body of important nutrients, so I may consume some V8 Splash in the morning or eat Emergen-C packets through the day. I don't know...maybe I'll wait until Tuesday. In a lot of ways, I find it much easier to fast during the work week, opposed to the weekend.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oh, and also...

I am SERIOUSLY trying to convince J to let me adopt this sweetie. He said that he almost got me a kitten for Christmas, but I don't want ANY kitten, I want THIS kitten. Who is adorably named Twilight, and is just waiting to be brought home from the shelter. Seriously, I am in love with this darling sweetie.




I'm still wishin', hoping, and praying for our rent refund check to arrive soon--though I know it probably won't arrive until the last possible day they have to return it to us--the 10th of January. Especially since they haven't re-rented our unit. But it would be an AWFULLY nice late Christmas present if it were to arrive early.

Christmas Cheer

Well, I hope that everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Here are a couple of pictures from my side of the Christmas Bonanza...I have no pictures from Justin's side because they never have any lights on in the house, and all the pictures consequently look terrible.


My sister and I. At a later date, you'll see just how far I have to scrunch down to be shorter than she is!

My sister, J, and I. Kevin was also in this picture, but I cropped him out because he was a punk and had already changed out of his dress clothes. Mossy Oak sweats and an Old Spice T just don't belong in a dressy-clothes picture.

Here I am, slightly inebriated after a few Huckletinis and other various drinks. I was happy, and enjoying my buzz until my little brother decided it would be fun to tackle me because I was apparently in his "spot". My varsity linebacker brother. Yeah.





Justin trying his first "Arrogant Bastard Ale".

Overall, Christmas was lovely. Many of the presents we received this year were handmade, which I usually like more than store-bought anyway. For example, Renee gave me a huge bucket of homemade things, including awesome monogrammed dishtowels and a scarf/hat combo. Kev gave us a wine stopper that he made in woodshop. My parents gave me some photography equipment, as they know that I'll be getting a DSLR camera in February or so. I hope that I have it in time to take some family pictures for Ryan and Renee. I really want to do those for them with the nice digital rather than the film. It's probably too cold to do them outside, but I've been tossing around the idea of having them come to our house and doing them on our bed.

Our bedroom already has the best natural light, and one of the things my parents gave me for Christmas was a photography light reflector. I think we could get some really fun ones.

Anyway...J is still sleeping, even though he's supposed to be going with me to the gym. Why? Because he was up all night playing Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, which he received from my parents. Yay Justin.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Blast From The Past....

Tonight, Justin and I went to a Christmas Program for one of our nieces--she was a present in the Christmas play. The program was not in the town that we live or work in, nor was it in the city that I grew up in, so I wasn't expecting to see anyone that I knew, and just threw on ratty jeans and an old sweatshirt to go.

Much to my surprise, I saw at least 15 people that I knew, including the boy that I had the BIGGEST crush on through pretty much all of middle school and high school. His name was Matt Martin, and I used to love to think about how we could get married and we'd be Matt and Meredith Martin, and have all sorts of babies who also had names that started with the letter M. His whole family went to my church (we actually went through Confirmation together), and I absolutely adored his mother.

I didn't say anything when I saw him at first because a) he definitely knew that I had a crush on him in high school/middle school, and it was NOT reciprocated (I distinctly recall one particular youth group meeting where I'm sure I was swooning all over him, and he actually turned to me and said, "Meredith, you don't have to sit so close to me. There's a whole bench open." Doh.), and I didn't want to seem all stalkerish; b) I was pretty geeky in middle school and the first couple years of high school. We're talking permed bangs (and the bangs were the only things permed), braces, and sports player who wore sweats everywhere, and I honestly wasn't sure that he'd even recognize me; and c) I was a bit in shock that he was now over 7 feet tall and looked like he was 30.

So, I didn't say anything to him, but I did point him out to Justin, since he's heard some pretty funny first crush stories about the guy. Including the fact that the reason Matt and I never dated in middle school or high school was a pretty hilarious love-rectangle. See, Matt had a friend named Jason. I had a friend named Sara. Jason liked Me, I liked Matt, Matt liked Sara, and Sara liked Jason. Still with me? Gotta love high school.

Anyway, after the program was over, much to my surprise, Matt came over and said hello, that it was good to see me, and asked how I've been. He was very kind, and looked genuinely happy to see me. I introduced him to Justin, and then he took me over to say hi to his mom and introduced me to his nephews (I knew his brother as well growing up). It was such a weird mix of emotions--first an foremost, I was just so absolutely thankful for my wonderful husband, and that he's the one who I ended up with. My husband is so wonderful that he even shook the guy's hand and made small talk with him, knowing that this guy was definitely my first real all-consuming CRUSH, if not a bit of unrequited love (though looking back, I don't think I'd classify it as love anymore). And he wasn't even the slightest bit jealous or possessive about it.

But at the same time, it was weird because talking to Matt almost reverted me back to a giddy 14 year old again--I was having trouble forming sentences--which was definitely a weird emotion. I felt slightly guilty about it (J just laughed when I told him), but I do realize that it was probably because I always felt so awkward around the guy--it's hard not to revert back to that now. It really did make me appreciate how comfortable I feel and have always felt around Justin!

I have a feeling....

That today is going to drrrraaaaaggggggg. I just have to get through today, and I have 6 days off work. Then I go back for two and have another off for New Year's Day. But in the meantime, I have absolutely nothing to do today. Which is how I know that the day is going to drag on and on.

In protest, I don't think I'm going to shower today. My hair still looks relatively okay and I don't smell. Ha.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Song

Life and Love and Why by Switchfoot



In high school and college, I used to LOVE Switchfoot. I've seen them twice, and they were pretty great live both times, which is a MUST for me when it comes to music. That said, I haven't ever really gotten into any of their new stuff. But this song is still one of my favorites, and it's been running through my head a lot lately. It's a song that I tend to listen to whenever I'm feeling a little down, and it gives me hope.

Things have felt a little weird with Justin's family lately. I really noticed it yesterday when everyone was together. It's almost like there's this deep underlying tension running through everyone. People were pretty snippy towards each other. Justin and I both commented on it yesterday. That, and that things seem to be very...superficial. We both used to have deep, meaningful conversations with various members of Justin's family, but lately the conversations seem to revolve around the weather and 'how the house is doing'. Maybe it's just that we haven't been out there lately. I don't know that we had seen Ryan and Renee since the weekend after Thanksgiving, which may be a record, and we hadn't really seen Justin's parents in a couple of weeks either. Usually, we see them both every week if not more frequently. Or maybe something else is going on, but things just seem weird. Like there's an elephant in the room that people are tip-toeing around.

So anyway, I felt like I needed a hopeful song.

Weekend In Pictures

Justin's side of the family all got together over the weekend to celebrate three of the many December birthdays. Afterwords, we decided to play in the snow that had accumulated on the driveway.


The gnarly trees. This was early on in the day before the snow really started to fall...

Renee and I watching the kids sled.

Logan

Safety First! You'll see why later...from L to R, you've got Justin, James, Justin aka "Stump", and Ryan. Only my Justin and Ryan are actually in the family, but I wouldn't be surprised if the other two eventually are, as they're both dating the sisters. And guess what, James and Stump are cousins! That's how redneck we are!

This is my favorite picture of Payton...not exactly sure what's going on, but isn't this priceless?

Hubs and I

The girls were being sweet for a second.

Hubs sledding on the inner tube.

Logan showing off his new "choo-choo".

Baby, it's cold outside!

Okay, now here's why safety first is important with these guys. The day after Christmas a few years ago, I spent much time in the ER with Justin getting his head stapled shut after a sledding accident from a sled that they made from the back of an RV. In fact, that was probably my first bonding session with Renee. Anyway, yesterday the boys decided to make another sled. There weren't any big accidents...looks fun!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Confession--Edited


This is the only piece of Christmas decor up in our house. Nope, we don't even have our tree up. And honestly, I'm okay with that. If it makes it up, that's nice. If it doesn't, that's okay too. Justin has been so sick for so long that I'm just not going to push the issue--especially since a tree isn't that important to me anyway. I'm allergic to Christmas trees, so I don't really have any positive memories of them growing up. I just remember a lot of coughing. Sure, I enjoyed putting up ornaments to some extent, but it wasn't an activity that I actively looked forward to.

I'd much rather spend my evenings going to Dairy Queen and trying to talk them into adding chunks of chocolate into their Peppermint Blizzard.

LOL...and with THAT, I've been tagged by sweet Emily to share about my Christmas Traditions.


1. For the past 10+ years, my whole family gets together for a fancy dinner at a VERY fancy restaurant on Christmas Eve. I always look forward to it because we're all dressed to the nines, the food is GREAT, and it's the one time that we really go all out--apps, drinks, dinner, AND dessert. For that one night, everyone on my dad's side of the family plays nice.

2. We used to participate in the "German Pickle Tradition" growing up.

Legend says that the pickle, a symbol of good luck, was the last ornament to be placed on the tree. The first child to find the pickle on Christmas morning was rewarded with an extra gift left by St. Nicholas.The tradition encourages children to appreciate all of the beautiful ornaments on the tree, rather than rushing first to the presents that Santa has left them.

3. Justin's family loves to drink Eggnog with SPRITE in it on Christmas (how weird is that?!).

4. Much to Justin's dismay, if we have a Christmas tree, it has to be fake. They used to go out in the woods and cut their own.

5. Now, our Christmases look like this: Christmas Eve Dinner with my family, spend the night at my parents' house and open gifts early in the morning. We jet back over to our house to shower and exchange gifts to each other, then we head over to Justin's family and have Christmas Dinner with them. Usually, J has to work the next day, so we end up jetting home kind of early.

Now, I want to hear about YOUR traditions. Here's the deal, I'll tag you and link to your blog. Copy and paste the above image into your own blog, and then lather, rinse, repeat!

I'm tagging: Laura, Kait, Lisa, and Chelsie.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Interesting.

So, today I was talking with this lady that I supervise about an 18 month old. She didn't understand why she actually had to go do a face-to-face visit with the 18-month old, and said that she wouldn't learn anything that the mom couldn't tell her. Okay, well other than the fact that it's your JOB, and BY LAW, you have to visit her at least once a month, it's an opportunity to see what this girl's personality is like. The woman I was talking with is in her 50's, and has 4 kids of her own. She asked me what she was supposed to do with the girl when she visits. She said, "Well, it isn't like she has a personality or can talk yet. What am I supposed to do with her?"

Um, I don't have kids of my own yet, but by 18 months, they definitely have a personality, even if they aren't doing much speaking yet. That's like THE time that they begin to really develop their personality. How could she NOT know this after having 4 kids? I won't even address the fact that she didn't know what to do with the child when she was visiting. She was like, "Well, what if she doesn't want to play with me? Am I supposed to just watch her play?" Um, yes. Yes you are.

The other day, I was browsing MySpace, and was SHOCKED at how many people my age (and younger) already have babies. One girl that I knew growing up is 2+ years younger than I am (putting her at about 20), and she just gave birth to her SECOND baby. It was just kind of a crazy eye-opener for me because I still feel way too young and immature to have kids. And not to sound conceited here, but I am probably WAY more mature than most of these girls that I went to high school with.

Anyways, the whole point of this is that I don't know if it's just that I'm scared of being pregnant because it's something that I will have absolutely no control over, or if I'm really, genuinely not ready to have kids. I'm definitely becoming more open to the idea of having a baby--while we're not actively trying to have kids (TMI!), I would probably be pretty darn happy and excited if I were to get pregnant. Though, I would also probably freak out due to the massive financial burden called a mortgage that we just took on!

You are all forbidden to tell J about this or he'll start trying to sweet talk me into it right now. And I will probably give in because he is the master of sweet talk. Seriously. Silence, or I kill you 'til you're dead. Bonus points if you can name that quote.

Things

Ahhh...I think I'm doing pretty good with this no complaining for a week thing. I'm sure it's a much happier blog to read too! Anyway...just a few updates:

1. Kait's husband is going to be home from Iraq in less than a week! I am just so stinking excited for her! Kait is one of my best friends, and her hubby is one of J's best friends. We have this running joke that when we grow up, we're going to buy a duplex, and Kait and I will get to decorate one side and the boys (the two J's) can have the other (we haven't quite figured out sleeping arrangements yet, lol). The boys like to say that when they get old, they'll sit on the front porch in rocking chairs with shotguns on their laps, and Kait and I will be inside cooking. In all seriousness, they're one of probably three people that I could share a duplex with and not go insane. Anyway, I'm hoping that sometime in the next year, we'll have another picture of all four of us:



And not one like this (from earlier this month):

2. I finally have a hair appointment for Friday! Whoop whoop!

3. Last night, Justin coughed so hard he threw up. Poor guy. I totally know how he feels, because this is the first year that I HAVEN'T coughed like that all the time. The allergy shots are finally working, thank the Lord! Now, I just have to battle colds instead.

4. In exactly one week, I get six days off work in a row!

5. I did something really bad yesterday...I went tanning. I haven't been since we got married because I don't want skin cancer. But yesterday I was feeling bitchy, and thought "If Justin can do something that could potentially give him cancer, so can I!" Obviously, not my most mature moment. That said, it felt so wonderful. I was in such a better mood immediately than I have been in weeks, which isn't surprising since doctors are now saying that tanning can create the same high that nicotine does. I burned my butt though. Also, it got me thinking that maybe I should take Vitamin D, since during the winter I go to work when it's dark, leave when it's dark, and rarely step outside during the course of the day.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Peppermint Oreo Truffles.


Aren't they pretty? They're extremely yummy too. And extremely bad for you, which is why this batch is going to my parents/Justin's work. Here's how you can create your own peppermint/chocolate/oreo goodness. Eat dessert first, and often. Lisa, you're going to love this post because it's just FILLED with our little inside jokes.

Oreo Truffles:
1. Box Oreos
2. 1 bar cream cheese, softened.
3. 1 box Baker's semi-sweet chocolate
4. A dab of butter
5. Sprinkles/ Peppermint/ Extra Crushed Oreos to top.

First, stick the whole box of Oreos in a ziplock bag. Give it many good whacks with a rolling pin until the Oreos are in little bitty bits. Next, use a fork to combine 3 cups of the Oreo crumbles with the cream cheese. Stir and mash it up until they're well combined. You shouldn't see much white--it should be mostly gray/blackish. After that, use a spoon, your fingers, or (my favorite) a small cookie scoop to scoop little balls of the oreo mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Make sure to keep the bottoms as flat as possible so that they'll sit nicely on the cookie sheet. Pop the cookie sheet with the oreo balls in the freezer for about an hour or so to let those puppies firm up. DO NOT SKIP THE FREEZER STEP. Seriously, I've done it to try and save time, and it just makes a big mess.

After they've been in the freezer for at least an hour, follow the directions on the Baker's chocolate package to melt the chocolate. I usually add a small dab of butter to the melted chocolate to make it a little more smooth. Next, take one of the little oreo balls and use two forks to roll it around in the chocolate to coat. Use the fork to let any excess chocolate drain off. I usually don't worry about coating the bottom, because who sees the bottom anyway? Don't be like Meredith and attempt this chocolate-coating feat while wearing your favorite white sweats. Once it's covered in chocolate, transfer it back to the wax lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes/sprinkles/leftover oreo crumbles unless you want your truffles to look like crap--literally. Once all the oreo balls are dipped and on the cookie sheet, stick the truffles in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (I usually do all night).

Remember that these babies have cream cheese in them, so if you're giving them to other people, you should probably mention that they need to be refrigerated!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hair...

So, I desperately need my hair to be re-highlighted. I've called in to the beauty school to try and get in either on Saturday or Christmas Eve, but I'm doubting it will actually happen. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to review a few of the many hairstyles I've had over the past 5 years or so...I don't have any pictures from when I was younger on my computer, but I will say this...I had permed bangs. And ONLY permed bangs.

This was one of my senior pictures in high school. I dyed my hair dark the weekend of the pictures, and I think my mom was pissed because it really didn't look much like ME.

In college, I used to highlight it myself with "Frost N Glow". My hair is THICK, as you can see here.

This picture was only a couple of weeks after the one above. Looks like I did some self-highlighting again.

Then later (still in college), I went DARK again.

And then light again. You can see the thickness again here. This was after a weekend at the beach, so I hadn't flat ironed my hair like I normally do.


At some points, I embraced my natural color, which is more of a dirty dishwater blonde. I usually only like this color on me when I'm really tan. This picture was from the day before the wedding.
Just a few weeks after the wedding, in NOLA. Humidity and my hair are friends. My natural color, but after being in the sun a bit more. Once we got back from NOLA, I chopped it all off, thinking it would make me look older. I HATED it short--it took forever to "do", and I always felt frumpy.
This past winter (my hair grows fast, doesn't it! The above picture was Aug '07, this one was April '08), I went seriously blonde again.

This past August, I had them add some espresso colored low lights in. I think that I'm going to have them do this again. I liked my cut here much better than my cut now. The last girl that I had sucked, and the layers are all effed up. I think I might just let them grow out for awhile.

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