Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My current obsession: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Fast Dry Nail Color

{photo from sallyhansen.com}

I take that back: I'm not obsessed. I'm completely and utterly obsessed. This stuff is awesome and I can't help but feel like Sally herself made this polish for me. Who am I? Well, I'm impatient, use my nails for everything and have no coordination. This tends to make manicures a complete waste of money. I'd rather have nubby, awful nails with dirt from the garden under them, thankyouverymuch.

Then, a trip down the makeup aisle recently changed my life. This stuff is cheap (as in, less than five bucks) and it really does what it says. I let it dry longer for good measure, but really 60 seconds is all it takes--and just one coat. It sounds like this is an infomercial, but I just really love this inanimate object more than I can articulate at this moment. I of course followed it up with a top coat of my favorite OPI clear coat, just because I know how awful I am with my nails.

I bought two shades, because CVS was having a buy one, get one 50% sale. I went with Uptempo Plum and Petal Pusher, one that is incredibly dark and the other lighter and summery. I can't say that they lasted that long (3-4 days, tops) but when it's this easy to repaint my nails, I don't mind all that much.

In closing, I'm not getting paid to tell you this, but I'm obsessed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Letter to Myself

Did you know that the talented and lovely Tiffany from Mom-Nom and I went to college together? We did, and we had the same major. Heck, we even had an internship for the same organization, where she now works.

At any rate, she recently had me in tears over her "Letter to Myself" post inspired by Raising Madison. I will dub you a miracle worker if you can prevent yourself from crying over these things, they are just that powerful. It's a beautiful idea, and I'm jumping on board. Here goes:

Dear 7 year-old Emily,

Enjoy your youth and the complete ignorance about your body and your looks that it brings. Play outside until your mom screams your middle and last name for you to come inside. Don't be afraid to cry when you scrape your knee. Remember, life isn't all about always being in the spotlight and the middle of every conversation. Your teacher will say that you need to learn how to "mind your own business," but someday you'll have a job that welcomes your nosiness. Don't let others tell you not to be yourself. Your little brother is about to arrive and you'll think he's stealing the spotlight from you, too. He's not; it's time to learn how to let it go. Learn it now, because you're going to need it later.

Dear 13 year-old Emily,

Things are about to get awkward and likewise, awful. You aren't going to have a chest, straight teeth or clear skin for a long, long time. Your skinny, lanky body is always going to be skinny, lanky and uncoordinated.  Some things change, dear Emily, but this won't ever change. It's OK. Don't try so hard to fit in. Life isn't about being the prettiest or the most popular, it's about accepting who you are--whoever that happens to be. Those words? The ones that hurt so much? They are just words; don't ever forget that. Facing life's harshest critics, as painful as it may be now, will form you into someone strong someday. Someone with sharp wit and a fierce tongue that has good comebacks. This too shall pass.

Dear 15 year-old Emily,

You're entering a tough place; a place where you don't know anyone and you're a small fish in a large, public school pond. You will be scared. You will be tested. But in the end, you'll be OK. You are about to discover that writing is your talent, a gift that will take you further than you can ever imagine. You will struggle to find something to do with your thick, curly, insane hair. You will fail miserably and have weird bangs crusted with hairspray for years. Don't worry. You will destroy the photographic evidence later, I promise. You will have braces for 3 years, and it will be painful. Literally. You'll thank your orthodontist later. You will discover boys and have your heart broken. You will cry when your high school boyfriend breaks up with you before college and says it's because you're too good for him. He's right; you should be happy that he let you go. The perfect man is out there waiting for you.

Dear 18 year-old Emily,

SLOW. DOWN. Seriously, slow down. You've never had a drink before, I get it. But for the love of all things holy, at least try to learn your limits. Study harder. Party JUST a little less; you'll thank me later. This will be the most memorable and wonderful four years of your life. You will meet life-long friends. You'll make mistakes and you'll fall down (literally, but the desk underneath your bunk bed will be there to catch you) but let it teach you. Let it prepare you for what's about to happen: you will realize that your mom did know what she was talking about and she really was right. She was all along. I hope you're ready for what else is coming at you: you're about to meet your husband. He will catch your eye at a party and you'll make fun of him incessently. He'll hate you for it and think you're a miserable human being until you catch his eye and smile at him. The rest, as they say, will be history.

Dear 20 year-old Emily,

Are you deaf? I was serious about the slowing down thing. You're going to make some major mistakes, but someday you'll look back and laugh at this stage of your life. Soak in these years, they will be gone before you realize. Embrace all that life has to offer instead of focusing on how awful it is that you don't own your own car. In the big picture, it's not a big deal. Your future husband will tell you that you should "see other people" when he moves away for a job. Your heart will scream no, but your head will nod in agreement because it makes sense. In the end you'll be right where you are meant to be: together. Let this moment teach you an important lesson in something you've never had: patience.

Dear 23 year-old Emily,

Hang on tight, because life is about to take you for a ride. You're going to get engaged, and everything in your life is about to change. You will move from the only place you've ever known, to get married and take a new job. It will feel like you're living on another planet and some days, your anxiety about the changes will get the best of you. Take a deep breath and know that it will be OK. It won't be easy, but it will be OK. You're about to be tested, deep down to the core of your soul, and you need to ready your heart for battle. Don't forget about what life has taught you so far, you're going to need it soon. Don't forget to take the time to dream.

Dear 26 year-old Emily,

You don't know it yet, but life is about to deal you a painful blow. It will cut you deeply, devastate and crush you, but I promise you this: it will not destroy you. In fact, it will make you stronger. You see, my dearest Emily, you are about to have a dream taken from you. It will bring you to your knees. It will feel like nothing makes sense anymore. You will be angry, but you have to learn to let it go. Cling tightly to your faith and know this: what is meant to be will always find a way. You won't see it now, but losing this part of your life will make the other parts better. Hold strong; I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.

Dear 45 year-old Emily,

Mind hopping in a time machine to 2010 and telling me how it all turns out?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down



If you can name that tune without the assistance of a web browser, I will award you eleventy billion dollars. In pennies. And nickels. Before you even begin to ponder how on God's green earth a 26 year-old can accurately name a song from a mere 12 years prior to her entry into this world, I would suggest that you don't know what it's like to be the youngest employee in your workplace. You know, by TWENTY years. I know all sorts of things that are completely ridiculous based upon the fact that none of my fellow employees are an age that begins with the number 2 or 3. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Because there isn't.

But enough about Karen Carpenter. I want to talk about me instead, because that's what I do. You could say that's how I roll. Realistically, I spent my three day weekend doing...well, nothing. Nothing at all. I watched TV, (Say Yes to the Dress marathon on TLC? Yes please!) played on my husband's new laptop, worked out and drank some gins with tonics. It was delightful, really. I even faked a sinus headache to get out of running a 5K, just because I thought it might throw my uneventful weekend out of orbit. The majority of my weekends are typically jam-packed with crazy activities, so I really enjoy the opportunity to spend an entire weekend looking like a complete bra-less, sweat pants-y, mess. Hot mess, even. But when you have insane hair, it's harder to NOT look like you just stepped off the Last Crazy Train to Clarksville than it is to rock the "natural" look. I am totally rocking the late 60's/early 70's song references today. Are you as excited about this as I am? Because I am really excited.

So, it's back into the groove of looking civilized and accomplishing to-do list items today. Talk about boring. I mean, I already drank two thermoses of coffee and am dry, just recently, from the cats and dogs pouring from the sky this morning. Oh, and I'm actually wearing makeup. Equally exciting.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What I do on sucky days

Yesterday sucked. I fell asleep knowing it was going to suck. I woke up knowing it was going to suck. And, well, it sucked. Shocker. In case you didn't notice, I'm trying to see how many times I can use "suck" in this post. Suck. That's seven.

I anticipated the day's suckage because I knew we were headed to the doctor for a follow-up visit. To discuss our "options" and sit around an illustrated book of reproductive organs and sing Stairway to Heaven while I played my acoustic guitar. I'm an awful singer and I don't know how to play the guitar, so you can imagine how pleasant the experience was.

I do, however, enjoy looking at x-ray photographs of my lady parts. Also, I have a ball (no pun intended! OK, maybe just a little intended!) comparing sperm to linemen on a football field. I told the doctor he needed to come up with an analogy for us ladies, because my eyes begin to glass over the moment I hear "quarterback" "strong safety" and "linemen."

So, after the day was done, what did I do? After eating mocha chunk ice cream for dinner and going for a 5 mile run, as the sun was setting down over the trees....


                                                                        I sat on this




In one of these




With a glass of this in my hand



With her at my feet




...and him by my side




With a life this wonderful, it's hard not to feel like life really is good. Even when it's awful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Window shopping

I'm totally not spending money on things I don't need right now, but if I was....


I totally would have purchased this adorable, incredible necklace from American Eagle. Seriously. This necklace is only $14.95 and ae has a "Buy one, get one 50% off sale" on all jewelry. Plus, it looks exactly like the $100+ J. Crew necklaces I salivate over every time a catalog arrives in my mail box.
So, if I had purchased this necklace, which I did not, I would have purchased another piece of jewelry, like this adorable peridot cocktail ring:


Very David Yurman-ish, no? It too is on sale for $11.95 and with the 50% off, would be just $6. A gigantic peridot cocktail ring (which is my birthstone, BTW) for $6? Shut the front door!

Then, because I have no self control, I probably would have considered investing in a fedora. You know, because I'm SUCH a hat person. Everyone I know says so. All the time. It gets pretty annoying. Kinda like this girl:



Wouldn't I just be the sweetest, sassiest lady you know in that hat? I'd be tipping it constantly, wishing everyone I pass a "G'day!" I would say things like, "Hello, kind sir!" and "Good day to you, madam!" and then I'd take out my pocket square handkerchief to blow my nose in public and tuck that snot rag back in when I was finished. Then, I would check the time on my gold pocket watch. Also, I would remove my cap as a sign of respect at baseball games during the National Anthem. Why? Well, because that is what us hat people do. We're hat people and we don't care what you think. Also, we have hat hair and are using hats to cover up the fact that we have bad hair or are balding. Slowly. Painfully.

 I tell you what, this not buying things thing is really exhausting. It's like I have to plan out all the things I was going to buy, but never actually buy them and then go into the corner and rock back and forth while I cry over $6 peridot rings and the ability to call myself a hat person. It takes up a large portion of my day. I really think I'd make a great hat person someday. Someday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life Aint Nothing But a Funny, Funny Riddle

View from the front porch


We’ve lived in our house for nearly 3 years, and I’ve officially been away from my home town for four years. I’m often asked if I miss living in the city and if it’s been an adjustment to live in a rural area. Yes and yes is usually my answer.

Moving away from the only city you have ever known is difficult, regardless of where you are going. Going from an urban area to a rural area is even more of a transition. However, the change, as changes often are, was not as bad as I had envisioned a few years ago. I pictured terrible withdrawal symptoms and a feeling of being lost in a maze of cornfields.

Some days, it felt like I was living light years away, while others were not so bad. There was quite a bit to become accustomed to at the time: lack of shopping, lack of entertainment options, farming equipment on the road, a new job and preparing to get married.

My true enjoyment of country living did not come until we purchased our home. After living in apartments, we were ready to have a place of our own. “The question” was one we discussed at length: Do we want to live out in the country or in town? My dear husband is a farm boy and I, as you are aware, am a city girl. Strangely, neither of us had a strong opinion either way. We reserved ourselves to one of my favorite concepts: what is meant to be will find a way.

We found what was meant to be in a country setting. We did not seek out either locale with gusto, but rather the locale seemed to choose us. Much like finding the right man or the perfect wedding dress, we knew immediately it was the one. Once that slice of heaven was ours, we moved in and began to make it our own. For me, there was much to learn. I have never, in my life, had up close encounters with sump pumps, water softeners, wells, septic and propane tanks and skunks. I can now say I have been successfully acquainted with all of the above.

One of my husband's aunts refers to me as “Uptown Emily.” It is hard to feel like a city girl when there is a cornfield behind my house. A field of corn has become something that I love, as strange as it may seem. There is something fascinating about the way of life paired with country living. One thing we could both agree on is our love of privacy and seclusion. In our search for homes, we found many beautiful specimens that were quickly tainted after walking into the backyard. From the back deck, the back of at least 5 homes were visible: not my idea of home. These homes were quickly crossed off the list.

I may be a city girl, but growing up there was a beautiful, lush wooded area and full-blown farm located behind my parent’s house. This provided a colorful backdrop as a child, and numerous memorable debacles along the way. The farm behind my parent’s house was complete with cattle, a pig, a golden retriever named Zero and some chickens. The cows would mosey up to the back fence to chew on the grass clippings after dad emptied the contents of the mower and before the fence was replaced, they once moseyed into the yard and ate my mother’s flowers. A chicken once became caught under the fence as well and there was a pig that chased my brother when he went exploring into the woods. As much as it may sound like I too grew up on a farm, it is important to note that a chain link fence separated us from the farm then; now there is no fence separating us from the farm and country life. We’re surrounded.

I still carry that love of seclusion with me today, and country living has begun to slowly seep into my blood. I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here. I am very social, but I secretly treasure not having an obligation to make small talk with neighbors. I can go about my business, pulling weeds and watering the flowers without a child or neighbor to pester me or discuss the weather.

If you sit quietly enough, you can begin to appreciate the nuances that accompany rural living. I never miss an opportunity to stare up at the sky each night, taking in every star I can see, and you really can see them all. I love to sit on the front porch in a rocking chair and take in the sounds of silence, sometimes accompanied by a lone goat or horse sound. I have no choice but to slow down and take my time, something I rarely do in my day-to-day existence. I often joke about living in the country, but the truth is that deep down I have fallen in love.

Over time, I have begun to embrace the country by taking baby steps. I planted a vegetable garden, I spend hours mowing the lawn and I have gotten over the shock of not having sidewalks when I take the dog for a walk.

There are still days I sorely miss the access to shopping and having numerous dining options, that I cannot deny. These necessities slowly fade away over time, and if times become desperate, they are only a 45-minute drive away. Now, if only we could find a way to grow our own gasoline…

Monday, June 21, 2010

Newsflash: I'm going on a diet

{Image from SELF}

No, not that kind of diet. A money diet. I've already begun my liquid diet cleanse and like anything new, the first few days are a real you-know-what. What? You want me to cut out all carbs, sugar and salt AND stop shopping at Banana Republic? I couldn't possibly bear that for longer than 24 hours. Seriously, the base of my personal food pyramid is composed entirely of pretzels. Removing them from this equation will cause an avalanche of salty deliciousness.

I mean, I can only drink a cayenne pepper-laced beverage stop buying things I don't need for a limited amount of time before I might potentially lose it. The funny thing is, like most occasions where we don't realize that we've put on a few pounds, I really don't know how this began. A quick stop at Target here and a fly by at J. Crew there, and before I know it I own 7 black blazers. All different styles and fabrics of course, but there are still SEVEN of the same basic staple hanging out in my closet. At least they are in good company.

I'm not in financial ruin over here, but I am spending money on things that I now realize that I don't need. Instead of socking away my dolla dolla bills for the 14 year-old water heater that is just waiting for an inappropriate time to die, I'm buying adorable shirts and dresses. I really didn't need them then and I don't need them now, either. I find that learning how to live with what I already have presents a challenge, but creates a healthier life in the process. Just because I want/like something and it's on sale, does not mean that I need it and should buy it. It's ideas like this that got us into the Seven Black Blazers Situation.

Here's how my mind works: I see. I like. I want. I obsess. I find. I buy. Granted, there are occasions where I don't buy, like when the thing I covet is really expensive or impractical. I'm not over here buying lavish flat screen televisions, diamond encrusted tennis bracelets, mink stoles and CRUNK!!! Juice. No, I'm hitting up the clearance rack at the Gap and loading up on flash-in-the-pan trends from Forever 21. But like anything, a $25 purchase here and a $43 "investment" there adds up. I am the queen of "But, it was ON SALE!" which really is an excuse that no one believes, including my husband who loves things that are on sale. Like that fence we constructed along the US border, I can't get anything past him.

So, I've vowed to give serious (er, more seriouser?) consideration to the establishing of a stronger line between "want" and "need." For example, I need food. Also, I need water. I need to wash my hair and my armpits every once in a while. Additionally, I need wine. Whoops. No, I want wine and I need to whine. All the time. About everything. Like a big, gigantic baby.

I'm only a few weeks into my new diet and while I have wavered here and there, I'm doing pretty darn well in a "big picture" kind of way. Besides, knowing that the money I'm NOT spending is going towards a trip here is excellent motivation. Aloha!

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Uh, wouldn't YOU sh*t yourself?"

A long time ago, I was a college student. I was an awesome college student, truly the envy of my fellow academics and binge drinkers alike. I had many proud moments, but one shining example really shines brighter than the rest.

My senior year of college, 4 of my dearest friends and I rented a 3-story house in a super sketchy neighborhood. The house was fantastic, but the neighbors were mildly insane. There was Jerry Springer Fighting Couple across the street, who once had the police arrive because the male counterpart of JSFC ran over the female half of JSFC with his 1982 Buick. Drunk. And high. Then, there were our next door neighbors, Crazy Family with Eleventy Billion Children on Welfare with Annoying Chihuahuas. They used to dance in the street when their Welfare checks arrived and send their children, who wore only diapers and nothing else ever, over to ask if they could "Borrow some of our electricity." Strangely, we did allow them to borrow electricity. Dagnabbit, they never paid us back!

Then, there was my favorite moment on a cold December morning as I headed out to my internship at the Zoo. I pulled up to the stop sign at the end of our street and like my mother always taught me, I looked both ways before turning. Left side: all clear. Right side: all clear except for that old man who is naked from the waist down drinking a hot cup of coffee in the parking lot of the doughnut shop. All systems go! What?

So, as you can tell it was a very classy neighborhood. Which is why you will likely be surprised by my next entertaining tale. Soon after we moved into our awesome house in the Maury Povich "Who's My Baby's Daddy?" neighborhood, we realized that our house was infested with mice. Not just a mouse, but mice. There was a dad mouse, mom mouse and like 5 million babies. No, not the babies wearing diapers that lived next door, mouse babies. They were everywhere. And they were not wearing diapers. I know this because their poop was everywhere.

Now, if you know me well enough (which you don't, so just play along) you will know that I'm totally a girl when it comes to wild animals, creatures and bugs. They are disgusting. And scary. And stinky. And full of disease. They make me say things like, "Bleck" and "EW!" So, it will shock you even further to know that amongst the 5 female residents of our house, I was the most courageous when it came to trapping and killing mice. While the rest of those giant babies were jumping on chairs, toilets and screaming bloody murder, I was running swiftly with a cup to catch the beasts. I was awesome. I was the mouse wrangler. I roared. Loudly.

Eventually, we caught all of the mice and life was back to normal. Well, as normal as a normal episode of the Jerry Springer Show. Which is not normal.

So, fast forward 5 years (jeez, I'm getting old) and rewind to Sunday morning. I walk out of the door on my way to church, into the garage and a mouse RUNS ACROSS MY FOOT. As in, I was touched by a mouse. It was much less spiritual than an episode of Touched By an Angel. I screamed bloody murder, much like I had been shot. My immediate thought was, "Gee, I hope it didn't poop on me." Because that's a normal thought when you're Touched By a Mouse.

My husband, who often hears me scream this way about things that don't deserved to be screamed about in such a manner came running and asked if I "Saw an ant." Um, no. No. I did not see an ant. I SAW A MOUSE AND IT TOUCHED MY FOOT. I NEED TO DUNK MY FOOT INTO A BUCKET OF BLEACH NOW. DO WE HAVE TIME TO DISINFECT MY FOOT BEFORE MASS? NO? OK.

I know this is wrong, but I spent most of mass thinking about the mouse. And my foot. My poor, poor foot. And that mouse! Is he trying to get into the house? Why would he want to get into my house? Does he want to eat my Old Fashioned Rolled Oats and my Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal? I hope not! Those are my things, mouse. You cannot have them.

So, like any rational human being I declared it my mission to trap this mouse. I purchased some lovely "Tom Cat" brand glue traps (now with a natural anesthetic for a less painful death!) and placed them in the offending area. I checked my traps daily, like a good hunter. Days passed and I began to think that maybe I was as crazy as my husband thinks I am and I was just Touched By a Cobweb instead of a Mouse. That is, until Thursday rolled around. I headed into the garage to take out the trash when I heard it. The screaming. The writhing. The horror!

I had caught that bastard and he was stuck in my evil glue trap, clearly not being lulled to sleep by the natural anesthetic. Clearly. I ran back into the house to report to my husband my great find. Keep in mind this really is how we talk to one another.

Me: I caught me a MARLIN!
Him (watching sports, half-listening): Good job.
Me: It's gross.
Him: I'm sure.
Me: You know what's the grossest of all?
Him: No.
Me: I think the mouse sh*t itself. There is seriously sh*t everywhere. And not normal sh*t, like "I had way too much Mexican last night sh*t." He has mouse diarrhea. Should I feed him Pepto Bismol in an eye dropper?
Him: Well, if you were stuck in a sticky glue trap and you knew that you were going to die, wouldn't YOU sh*t yourself?
Me: Probably.
{Silence}
Me, using my unspoken mind powers to imply that I want him to come out and do something: Soooo, what am I supposed to do now?
Him: Throw it in the trash.
Me: Right. Of course. Good thing it's trash day!

So, I manned (womaned?) up and covered the mouse in a t-shirt and threw him in the trash. Mouse diarrhea and all. And I didn't even sh*t myself once!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There's a screw loose

You won't believe this, but I really and truly think I have finally lost my marbles. I did something completely out of character yesterday and subsequently, I have begun to wonder what has become of me. Not long ago I was all bragging about how awesome I am and how great my willpower is. Now I'm a weak, shriveled up shell of my former self.

You see, I went to Wal-Mart. Yes, I'm actually saying it. Using its real name, not some awful moniker born of my hatred. I went there. Purposefully. Even though I said I hated it and refused to go there ever again. I enjoyed my visit. Skipped down the aisles. Went to the electronics department. Purchased a kettlebell (which is awesome, BTW).

While I was there, I bought some things. Things that are embarrassing.

I meandered into the clothing section. THE CLOTHING SECTION. While there, I lovingly admired clothing designed by Miley Cyrus. BY MILEY CYRUS. I admired--then purchased! PURCHASED! What did I buy, you ask? Oh you know, nothing big. Some leggings, a tank top and this one other thing. Nothing big. Just uh, um, A ROMPER. Yes, a romper. Like a thing that a child wears. A one-piece body suit with shorts on the bottom that makes me look even more like I'm 18 years old. There are no snaps on the crotch, but it was cute! C'mon!

Pardon me while I go hyperventilate in the corner momentarily.

I willingly went to Wal-Mart. I purchased clothing there. I bought a romper. I bought clothing designed by Miley Cyrus. 

In conclusion: I went to Wal-Mart yesterday and while I was there I found the cutest romper designed by Miley Cyrus. It was so adorable that I just couldn't leave the store without it!

OMG. Who am I? Well, I'm someone who loves a good, old-fashioned, Miley Cyrus-y, romper that was on sale for $5 from the Awful Superstore.

Just how cute, you wonder?

Almost this cute.


I kid, I kid. I wouldn't be caught dead with hearts on my butt.


Now if you'll excuse me I need to go romp around and play four square. That's what people who wear rompers do, right? Right?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Clearing the clutter

(photo from messfreestress.com)

If there's anything that is likely to push me over the edge and result in full blown insanity, it's clutter. I like stuff and I know we need things, but we need them to be organized. And, we need to not throw them on the kitchen counter when we come home. Or on the dining room table. Or on the bedroom floor. Really, as long as everything is in a neat pile, I can stop breathing through a paper bag and catch my breath.

Often, clutter is an outward display of inner turmoil. When things are haywire and life gets stressful, our home begins to reflect our angst. For me, stress and angst result in an even cleaner house based upon a bizarre, cathartic need to clean everything in sight when I'm bothered. However, it's another story when it comes to the closet. The answer to the "Where does this go?" question typically means that thing goes in the junk drawer or one of our 234897234 closets. We'll just deal with it later!

Well, later comes around sooner than we think and it becomes time for a house cleansing. This incites some bizarre excitement in me, as I have a great love of baskets and plastic containers. Also, I love my label maker. And my Swiffer duster. And organized piles. And being anal-retentive about everything. Oh, and throwing junk away. I like that, too.

I recently embarked on a closet-cleaning journey, starting with the coat closet by the front door. It's a hodge-podge of 5 million coats (seriously, there are only 2 people in this house that wear coats, how many do we really need?) hats, gloves and biking/running paraphernalia. The situation was quickly remedied with a trip to heaven (AKA Target) for some baskets and 5 minutes later we looked like The Organized Family. That's a name we can stand behind.

My next task is one I have been dreading: organizing our walk-in bedroom closet. It's a clothing tsunami in there, I tell ya. I have so much crappy clothing from Forever 21 that I rarely wear because it's stuffed in the corner like a scared puppy clothing in random, non-sensical piles that looks like it threw up on itself after a long night of drinking whiskey that I have no idea what options are available to me when it comes to dressing myself. I just stand there in my underwear, like I'm hypnotized, while I try to find some semblance of an outfit to slap onto my body. Then, I hate the first 5 things I put on and go back to standing in my underwear until I realize that we're now 15 minutes late for something. It's a delight, really.

So, Friday will be devoted to organizing, pile creating and shipping items to Goodwill for processing. If I haven't worn it in a year, it's time to say so long, sucker. Based upon how crazy my closet looks currently, I have a feeling that I'm actually the sucker in this situation. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grace

(photo from www.philosophy.com)

It's funny how things work sometimes. Funny because sometimes we know ourselves too well, and it makes us laugh when we realize how often we set ourselves up to realize the important stuff. It's almost as though we intuitively sense something and cling to it, only to realize how wonderful it is years later.

That's how I feel about how strongly I've been drawn to the product, company and idiom above. I love the company Philosophy for many reasons, but primarily because their packaging is so fantastic. Each of their product lines are emblazoned with inspirational sayings and quotes--so great that I find myself buying things just to enjoy the inspiration. The products aren't so bad, either.

One of my favorites is the "Grace" line. It smells fantastic, but mostly I love what's written on the bottle.

It says:

"How you climb up the mountain is just as important as how you get down the mountain and in living life, which becomes one big gigantic test followed by one big gigantic lesson. In the end, it's all comes down to one word: grace. It's how you accept winning and losing, good luck and bad luck, the darkness and the light."

It was today that I realized this quote has been proudly displayed on the bulletin board in my office for the past 3 years. Only today that I realized just how fitting it is and how funny it is that I was drawn to this idea then only to realize how important it is now. Funny.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Throwing in the towel




In life, it sometimes takes us a few tries before we are able to grasp the lesson embedded within our mistakes. For us, it took just twice before we finally got it. You see, we have spent the last 3 years in the throes of a battle that has finally caused us to completely give up: the endless quest for a halfway decent lawnmower.

Lawnmowers, as you likely realize, are expensive. Especially the mowers that possess the capability to efficiently mow 1+ acres of grass. We are the people who need said mower, yet somehow we have repeatedly ignored the call to become the proud owners of such a machine. We began our journey with an awful, used, old and crusty mower that lasted roughly 6 months while in our care. It died frequently before being declared "un-fixable" by the local lawn service. Instead of holding a funeral service, we just left it there and never returned their calls to come pick it up.

After that foray into crappy mowers, we began another soon after by purchasing a 25 year-old John Deere mower. It worked for about a year before also meeting the same fate. Often, it met that fate in the middle of our yard and stayed there until the situation could be remedied. By remedied, I mean pushed back into the garage by my large muscles while my husband spewed obscenities because it refused to start. Or, we covered it with a blue tarp to protect it from the rain, which made us the classiest people on the block.

There was a lot of cussing. There were frequent oil spills. There were flat tires. There was more cussing. There was me breaking my promise not to go to Awful Superstore to find parts that didn't exist. The last "dying in the middle of the yard" situation was the straw that broke my husband's back. When we finally got the hunk-o-junk back into the garage using only our glute muscles, he dramatically wiped the sweat from his brow and declared that it was time to buy a new lawnmower, otherwise he was going to have a mental breakdown and do this to it:




After doing massive amounts of research, we finally bit the bullet and bought a new mower. It's really shiny, quite pretty and red and I'm not allowed to touch it. Which is probably a good thing, considering that my ability to operate heavy machinery leaves much to be desired. Plus, it's a valid excuse to nag my husband. Always a good thing, right?


Friday, June 4, 2010

My Current Obsession: Giving road trips a chance

We aren't going to this vineyard, but isn't this beautiful?

I'm not a big fan of road trips. I liked the movie of the same name, but I can't say that I enjoy sitting in a car for hours on end. Perhaps it was the overabundance of car trips I suffered through as a child, but I'd rather fly if given a choice. I'm fairly certain that I still have phantom pains in my back from being kicked repeatedly on the way to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in 1995 by my brother.

My husband, however, is a major fan of road trips. You could even say he's in love with them. Wants to marry them. He loves driving in a car so very much that a few years ago he drove all the way to Colorado and back for fun. FOR FUN! Well, and for baseball games, but you get my point. Keep in mind that he started this little trip in Ohio--that's a whole lotta driving, my friends.

So, because I love him so much I finally submitted to his incessant requests to go road trippin' together. It probably helps that I get to depart on said journey behind the wheel of my new car, complete with XM Satellite Radio and the ability to listen to my iPod through my car's speakers. I haven't broken the news to him yet, but the first 2 hours of the trip will be all Lady Gaga, all the time. Anyone who complains will listen to "Poker Face" on repeat ten times as a penance.

We have a week of relaxation, spa treatments, wineries, B&B's, breweries, baseball games and relaxtion planned. Seems worth all that driving, no?

Also, per request, we will be making frequent stops for bathroom breaks and assorted fun. Not for snacks though, because I totally have that area covered. Covered in peanut butter-filled pretzel nuggets, almonds, trail mix and animal crackers, that is.

But not these animal cookies, which I am totally obsessed with. No, I bought the crappy ones because I know myself and myself would have already eaten the entire bag if I had bought the Keebler pink icing variety to snack on. Those are an entire meal, not a snack. If it were socially acceptable (and provided even a shred of daily nutrition) I would eat them for dinner every night.

So, we're hitting the road in my new ride and seeing where the asphalt takes us. Actually, that's a lie: We know where it's taking us because my husband has created a detailed itinerary complete with bullet points to guide us. Isn't it fun when your OCD/Type A tendencies rub off on others? Personally, it causes me to squeal with delight.

The best part of every trip is being guided by the GPS, of course. We don't have a Garmin, but I kinda feel this way about my Tom Tom GPS, too. Except when it's instructing me to drive through a field of cows. That's not exactly helpful.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The time has come for my confession

What scares you the most? Being alone? Heights? Spiders? For me, all those things scare me. Turns out the one thing I am most afraid of is actually confessing a personal struggle. I like to fancy myself a strong, independent person who doesn't give a you-know-what about other's opinions and could care less about criticism. But, this seems to have a way of changing all of that. When things go wrong and life doesn't seem to be fair, it softens us in some weird way. It makes us take a step back and realize that ultimately, we do not have control over our lives. I'm scared of what this problem makes me--I'm scared of being broken, and weak.

My problem is devastating, life-changing and painful. It's one that I have hidden for some time. One that I pretended wasn't a big deal. It elicited shame, anguish and anger. You see, for most people these things just happen--no thought, no pain, no thinking, they just occur. When things that just "happen" for other people don't happen for us, it's devastating. It changes us, shapes us into someone else and makes us realize just how precious the gifts that seem to be simply handed to others are to all of us.

I have lamented, for what seems like forever, coming out with my admission. I have written and re-written this post so many times, attempting to make sure it was perfect. I don't know what I was waiting for in particular, but I now realize that I was waiting for my heart to be ready. I was waiting to understand that we are going to be OK and then--and only then--would I be ready to be OK publicly. Being open and honest is scary.

You see, we were recently told that we are unable to have children. Well, we are unable to have children without undergoing one very major (read: very expensive, very traumatic, very only 50% successful at best) medical intervention. There have been countless tests, doctor's visits, tears and anguish over the past year, to say the least. We have only a few options and some big decisions are yet to be made. But, we have time to decide which path to take.

I won't go into the details. I won't talk about who has what problem, but I will say that the odds of us naturally conceiving a child are basically nil.

Now, let's pause for a deep breath and take it in for a moment.

That's better.

This has not, by any stretch of the imagination, been an easy pill to swallow. It's more like swallowing a pill wrapped in barbed wire and coated with poison and scorpions. It's awful. It's horrible. It's painful. More than anything, though, it's just not FAIR. The idea of fairness has truly been the hardest of those pills to swallow. It's the one that makes us realize that this is what's happening to us and there is nothing we can do about it. We won't wake up tomorrow and realize this is a dream. It's reality. This is the hand we were dealt, for some reason, and we must continue to play the game.

To be very honest, I have spent a long time being very angry. Angry at God, angry at myself, angry at doctors--just really angry. I've asked "Why us?" more times than I care to admit. It was like a huge wave of bitterness had just swallowed my entire body, wrapping itself around me and pulling me deeper into the abyss. I didn't want to go, but I didn't have the strength to fight it either. I only stopped being angry when I realized and came to understand that I didn't have anyone to be angry at--not even God. It has been said that being angry and bitter is like swallowing poison and expecting someone else to die. It truly only makes YOU miserable.

More than anything, I felt ashamed. I didn't know what to say--how to say it--because I didn't have the words.

How do you bring up the fact that you can't have children at a social function?

How do you tell your co-workers, friends and family, who expect you to have children after nearly 3 years of marriage, that it will never happen and to just shut up about it already?

How do you talk about the fact that the only way you'll ever have a child is if you pay for one?

How do you come to terms with the idea that you may never know what your biological children look like?

Is it possible to live a full, complete life without a child?

What now? What are we supposed to do now?

It's awkward, it's shameful and most people don't know what to say to someone who is having trouble conceiving a child. So, they usually say something dumb. Or thoughtless. Or sorta well-meaning. So, we don't tell people about our "issue," or we make jokes or pretend like we'll just have children someday. We know that day will never come, but it's easier to turn the conversation another direction than it is to tell nosy Uncle Larry that we have been trying unsuccessfully for years to have a child. Thanks for asking!

Infertility is defined as 12 months of "actively trying" without success. Statistics say infertility affects roughly 1 in 6 couples. It affects men just as often as it affects women. Of those approximately 7.3 million people, I wonder how many of them choose hide their devastating problem from the world. I wonder how many are too ashamed, too fragile and too damaged to talk about it so they spend their days pretending it doesn't bother them. Then, they spend their nights crying themselves to sleep and wondering why people won't stop asking them about having children.

It makes sense, though. It's just the way things work--the way people expect you to live your life. It's like some weird recipe for a coffee cake or something. You just need to add all the ingredients: handsome man, engagement ring, marriage certificate, mortgage, dog, happiness and a baby. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and TA DA! Perfect life, coming right up, hot out of the oven!

This is not how anyone--including us--thinks things will work. We never assume they won't work; we take for granted that for most of us, they just happen. For us, it's just not working. The reality, however, is that life is NOT perfect. It's messy and full of unexpected surprises, devastation and heartache. Life is not all awful, but it sure as hell isn't ALL great ALL the time either. For me, everything in my life is wonderful--perfect even--except for this one "thing" that isn't.

Realistically, I am still a work in progress; I will always be a work in progress. It still makes me cry--sob even--to think about how I felt "that day" when we were told that we couldn't have children. It's a feeling I will never, so long as I walk this Earth, forget. It's one I wouldn't wish upon anyone--and I mean anyone--because I wish I could save the rest of the world from knowing what it feels like to witness the death of a dream. That's what it is; a death. A death of everything you have ever wanted for yourself, something that you never thought could be taken away from you. That day, it was taken from us. It felt so sudden, so abrupt--it was taken from us before we had the chance to realize there was something to take. I still find myself desperately trying to catch my breath each time I realize that I may not know what my beautiful little blue-eyed, blond-haired children will look like.

I remember that feeling, that horrible, awful jab in my chest like someone had died that day. You know the feeling: The disbelief, the painful twist of the knife protruding from your heart, that you feel when you are told that someone you love is gone forever. You quietly wait for them to walk around the corner, to still be there, but know in your heart they aren't coming back. That wound is still as fresh today as it was just a few short months ago. I don't know if it will ever heal completely, but a paper-thin scab has begun to form.

I have come to realize that, for some reason, this was meant to be. God has a plan for us, for our little family that consists of just two people who deeply love each other, and this is all part of the plan. Once I opened my heart to that idea, my black-and-white world switched back to technicolor. It doesn't make sense, but this is happening for a reason. This much I know is true.

If I'm brutally honest, I will say that I still struggle with the idea of living the rest of my life with infertility. I struggle with the realization that I may never be pregnant. I grapple to come to terms with never being able to say, "Oh, he has his father's eyes and my nose." It's difficult to always be so "OK" and it's a choice I have to consciously make each and every day. I've made it part of my morning ritual: I wash my face, do my hair and makeup and tell myself that I'm fine. This is OK. It will all work out. What's meant to be will be. Some days, I believe myself. Other days, I pretend like I do. It's what I have to do in order to be happy.


I find my mind wandering, asking myself what's worse: never knowing what I missed or losing what I already knew. My child hasn't died, but the idea of my child has died. I don't know that the painful jab I feel each time I see a baby, a pregnant woman or hear a pregnancy announcement will ever subside. It's just the reality of the situation--those things will probably always sting a little. Those moments, those ugly feelings? They remind me that no matter how hard I try, how often I make the conscious choice to be at peace with this situation--I am still a human being with real, human feelings. That will never change. It's just part of accepting something awful.

It would have been so much easier to hide, simpler to not talk about it, but it always ends in making me feel worse. I have come to realize that revealing this to the world is the only way I will find balance, because carrying this "secret" is like ignoring a tumor. It festers and grows at an alarming pace, threatening to cut off my air supply with every passing moment. I just cannot ignore it.

I have to open my heart, I have to say it in order to be OK. It's scary, because I'm offering up my fragile heart to you on a platter. Opening your heart will always involve risk, because you're exposing a protected part of yourself to be trampled upon. But that's a risk I am willing to take. It's selfish, but I offer you my heart because it has grown tired of carrying this burden alone. It is weighed down, blackened even, with the strain of words unspoken.

More than anything, I just need to talk about it. I need to be open and come out, guns blazing, on a megaphone to announce this to the world. I need to let it go before I can let go. I'm still holding on, but barely. I'm just waiting for someone to give me permission to let go of this dream and face the reality that has become my life. It has been said that when we let go, we make room for something else, something that couldn't fit in before. My prayer each night is that my heart has enough room for what is yet to come--whatever that may be.

More than anything, I need to know that everything will be OK.

I will be OK.

We will be OK.

Life will be OK.

My goal isn't for you to pity me--that's the last thing I want. I don't want you to think I'm pathetic. I don't want you to feel guilty for having children. I don't want you to tell me that it will happen someday, because I know it won't. I can't live my life thinking I will get pregnant some miraculous day, because I will eternally be disappointed. I need to live my life believing it won't happen, but a miracle wouldn't be so bad either. That's the only way that I know how to protect my heart from being broken over and over again.

Maybe this is just our burden to carry. Maybe we'll have kids someday. Maybe some random day I'll know why this is happening. Perhaps I'll live the rest of my life continuing to ask why. The tricky part of all of this? I just don't know. I don't know why, I don't know how and I can't explain anything. No one can; not even the overpaid doctors we've been seeing for months on end. It's the unknown, the senselessness, that makes this a heavy load to bear. Regardless, I know that God has given us this burden because he knows we're strong enough to carry it. And I know that we're only strong enough because we can carry it together. It has made us--our marriage, our relationship--stronger than ever. It could have torn us apart just as easily, but it didn't. It made us realize that when things don't make sense and it feels like we're all alone, we still have each other. We will always have each other.
All I want is for you to know that this is just a part of who I am. It's not all that I am. It's not who I am. It doesn't define me. I have infertility, but infertility doesn't have me. This is what I'm going through. What we're going through. And I'm going to be OK.

So, what's next? I don't know. All I know is that wherever we go and whatever we do, we will be exactly where we're meant to be. And that's OK.

Someday I know
It'll all turn out
You'll make me work
So we can work
to work it out
And I promise you kid
I'll give so much more than I get


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Could you do me a solid...




...and remind me what an awful idea it is to do the following:


-Buy a new car the day before leaving for vacation

-Get 2 hours of sleep before leaving for vacation

-Going on vacation to Las Vegas, Nevada on 2 hours of sleep

-Pack heels to wear while walking around Las Vegas, Nevada


As you might guess, the first few nights of vacation were a bit exhausting to say the least. Vegas was fantastic, if not cooler than Ohio. Weird, huh? It was, however, not Ohio. Oh, and owning a car for less than 24 hours before parking it in the lot at the airport can make it difficult to locate after a long Vegas vacation. Just a heads up.

Also, because I'm completely insane, I'm taking a few days break from vacationing and then heading out on another trip Friday morning with my husband. That's how we roll around here.

Oh, and don't worry--I still remember that I promised to make a confession. It's coming. Soon.

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