Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I need to go to a beach so I can read these books

A Vintage Affair
Every dress has a history. And so does every woman. A treasured child’s coat becomes a thread of hope connecting two very different women.

Fly Away Home
From the #1 "New York Times"-bestselling author of "In Her Shoes" and "Good in Bed" comes a novel about a family of women who seek refuge in an old beach house.

We all experience times of hiddenness, when our potential is unseen and our abilities unapplauded; college freshmen, transplanted professionals, new parents, the widowed, the retired, the waiting.

God is Love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love.

In this landmark work, the author of "Blink" and "The Tipping Point" asks what makes high-achievers different Brilliant and entertaining, "Outliers" is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Picking up where her bestselling memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" left off, Gilbert details the extraordinary circumstances that surround her love with Felipe, the man she swore never to marry. Told with Gilbert's trademark wit, "Committed" is a celebration of love with all the complexity and consequence that real love, in the real world, actually entails.

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban's backyard.

The bestselling author of "Odd Girl Out" exposes the myth of the Good Girl, freeing girls from its impossible standards and encouraging them to embrace their real selves. At once expository and prescriptive, "The Curse of the Good Girl" is a call to arms from a new front in female empowerment.

A fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice makes an inspiring debut with this novel about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two cultures. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

a perfect KC weekend

This past weekend was one when I went to bed Sunday night in love with my life.

Friday we went to Theatre in the Park with a picnic of carry-out food from Ingredient, my new favorite place. Their leaf salad with strawberries, pecans and oranges is heavenly. And the show is only eight bucks each to get in, making it the perfect date.

{Hello! Gatsby moment!}

Our night was temporarily spoiled by the family next to us who were less interested in Annie and Mr. Warbucks and more interested in drinking, smoking and screaming at their wives. Pretty sure all three things are outlawed. At one point our drunken nemesis yelled at his wife that perhaps they should "have another f--- kid so we're happy." This is rockstar parenting at its best. Not to have our date spoiled, we tattled twice. And eventually dad of the year was escorted out by three cops.

Saturday I woke up and ran five miles. Considering it was very hot and very humid, and my water consumption was quite low this was a bad bad idea. As I got into downtown KC, I was weaving in and out of side streets to avoid the beating sun and secretly hoping Shea was worried about me enough to come pick me up. He was not.

We immediately went to the Lenexa BBQ contest because nothing cures heat exhaustion and dehydration like a little sun! We got free barbecue and then paid for frozen custard because have I mentioned that it was H-O-T?! Next year we're applying to be judges.

That night we went to Starlight Theatre to see Little House on the Prairie with my parents after a dinner of margaritas and enchiladas. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday we stopped by the Power and Light Art Fair and ended up buying this for a very discounted price. We're putting more of this art on our future Christmas lists!

Art, two live musicals, a barbecue-gorging festival and running. Look at us being all cultured.

Monday, June 28, 2010

versatile or entirely random?

Yay, blog award time!

There are some rules to this award:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award
2. Share seven things about you
3. Nominate 15 newly discovered blogs
4. Let your nominees know about the award!

So a big thank you to Naomi at Naomi Chronicles who writes about the changes in her life, her adorable son and her running journey. Check her out!

Seven things about me:
1. I have watched two seasons of Dexter in about two weeks. I enjoy it but still develop the need to "go brush my teeth" in the other room each time the chopping begins. I also have crime-solving dreams with completely different story lines than the episode we just watched. I think this is disturbing.

2. I love socks. My collection of socks includes cupcakes, ducks, stripes, polka dots, cats, raining cats and dogs, mice, ghosts, witches, turkeys, etc. Despite my very large collection, I can never find running socks when I need them.

3. My most hated chores are unloading the dishwasher (mostly because our kitchen is way overcrowded), matching socks (futile job) and the worst, putting new sheets on the bed. I HATE it. The sheets never fit correctly and it's a constant back-and-forth battle of "how long is it on your side?" When I have to help, my heart starts racing and I am pretty sure tears will burst from my ducts.

4. The three cars I have owned are: 1980-something Chrysler LeBaron: Hatchback. 2001 Ford Mustang: Red, manual and rear-wheel drive - the characteristic that ultimately led to it being disowned. 2005 Mazda6: Actually can drive in snow plus cute.

5. I hate being cold. My ideal temperature is 85 degrees and sunny. At work, I have a space heater six inches from my body at all times.

6. Sometimes I want to move to Brazil and eat cassava and fruit all day. That sounds like an ideal world.

7. I love running outside. It clears my mind and starts off my day more centered. Unless it's humid. Then it starts my day off with exhaustion and heaving.

I'm nominating the following ladies. You should check out their fantastic blogs!

I could keep posting links but I actually want you to visit these.

Friday, June 25, 2010

fridays are always happy

To make you question your decision to have kids, click here.

To help you understand how the new financial bill affects you.

To track your running/walking/biking work outs.

To check out some other gals' stories about life and running, check out this blog and this blog.

To read about a newspaper that still holds on to good journalism ethics, check this out.

To take you back to your childhood, remember this?

Finally, this dog video will make you laugh out loud. Guaranteed.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

neighborhood baseball

Last night we went to a baseball game for a charter school in our neighborhood that has a close relationship with my employer as well as the Kansas City Chiefs. We're hoping to get more involved since not only is it just a few blocks away but one of the teachers and baseball coaches is a member of our church.

I know this is super awesome photography. Be jealous.

Shea is hoping to be able to coach at this inner-city school next year, but first we will get training as a YouthFriend volunteer, which is a Kansas City organization dedicated to provided mentors to local school children. The Derrick Thomas Academy is a public charter school with free tuition with a 92 percent African-American student population. The school is set up as a local educational agency so its federal and state funding don't have to be funneled through the failing KCMO school district. Over 75 percent of the students are on a free or reduced lunch plan.

The parents we sat with at the game were way fun but I am sure were completely baffled as to why we were there. Especially considering Shea was whispering his baseball strategy after each play. He's a coach at heart!

Plus there was this amazing sunset.

Hopefully next spring I'll be there as the coach's wife/team's biggest fan.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the one where I publicly declare I will run a half marathon

In a few weeks I am starting Hal Higdon's half marathon training officially. I'll be doing 12 weeks of novice training because the intermediate version includes speedwork, and that does not sound like fun to me.

I never really liked running until recently. I'd much prefer inline skating but turns out people in Kansas City don't live in the 1980s and they are befuddled when I ask about a rollerblade marathon? ("How many miles is that?!") 

{That's me at the North Shore Inline Marathon in Duluth, Minn. in 2007.}

During our get-skinny-for-the-wedding-day training plan, I loved running on the treadmill. I could watch TV and there is something about the numbers methodically switching that soothes me. Recently I started running outside and realized I didn't suck at it as much as I thought I would. I always hated outdoor running because not only does the ground not move, but the cold air makes my lungs scream. Yet I have found that heat and humidity make my lungs scream in an opposite, but more tolerable, way.

Plus there is this camaraderie with the other runners out at 6 a.m. We say "morning" as we run up a large hill, proud that we're enduring summer. Little do they know that as soon as they are out of sight, I immediately halt and begin heaving. When it's this humid, I don't really sweat. Because where would it go? Until I stop and get into a less-humid place. There, Shea will find me sitting in front of the laptop trying to map my run but completely unable to get traction on the mouse pad because of the pooling sweat. This is probably the sexiest thing he could possibly imagine seeing first thing in the morning.

Anyway, back to my plan. I'm planning to run the Kansas City half on October 16. And I am scared because not only is it my first big race, but there are two huge hills - one in the first four miles and one at almost nine miles. This means I have to train using hills, which really kind of zaps the fun out of my day. Also it'll probably make my calves more humongous than they already are. I don't have time goals yet and may not ever make them because mostly, I just want to see the finish line. 

This morning I ran at 6 a.m. in temperature of 81 and humidity of 80 percent. I know there is a heat advisory but seriously, this is only June. There is more inferno to come.

So begins the journey!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

only God knows

When Shea had a job that involved frequent travel, we got to rack up Hilton points as if we were Paris' cousins. We got a free week of honeymoon hotel out of it which freed up our money to buy me a lot of popcorn and lemonade.

We have a few points left that need to be used up by the end of the year. So we've been watching the Hilton rewards site waiting for them to post the "point stretcher" weekends that basically means we go when they tell us to and our one night worth of points turns into two. Since we're cheap but fun we're all over it.

We spent a very long time listing all the places that are within eight hours driving of us. Memphis, Louisville, Little Rock, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Dallas. But because we both have this incessant pleasing need, we had to play the "pick your top three, type and send" on G-Chat game.

Me: Memphis, St. Louis, Louisville.
Shea typing. Shea stops typing.

Me: If you change your answers, God will know.
Shea typing.
Shea: St. Louis, Louisville, OK City

I will never know if he changed his answers. He really probably wanted to go to Omaha. For the furniture store. Needless to say, we're going to St. Louis in November sometime. Because Hilton told us we had to. Your suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

smarter than a plant

One time someone called into our college newspaper forum and claimed I had the IQ of a houseplant. Most likely in response to me writing something about being against war or guns.

Luckily for my self-esteem, I know my exact IQ, thanks to the gifted education system, and it is in fact much higher than my potted plants. Even the bamboo one.

Writing in a public space takes courage and a general disregard for judgment from strangers, or even friends. I share much less of my life and heart than many bloggers I read and admire. But I still let you see a lot. My fears, my happiness, my sadness. Writing that is muted or censored is just way less fun.

Then I let you comment on it because a public forum and sharing each other's lives is part of the fun of blogging. But there are some who take things literally instead of sarcastically, take offense easily, or lack understanding of the blogging world. And then they get mean.

Fortunately for me, I know who reads this. Who comments. Where they came from.

So to the person who thinks I lead a "sterile and uneventful" life and would be hurting the world by having children: I have no idea why you spend so much time daily reading about my world. By all means, please get back to living your exhilarating one and move along. I can't wait to instill my children with the values of open-mindedness, kindness and discretion. Clearly the world needs more people like this.

I will not apologize for being honest about my fears of the future. My fears are no commentary on other people's choices, but a genuine expression of my heart. I'm not sorry for frequently writing about myself on my own blog. I use this space to record the events of my life. Express my emotion. Praise people I love. Share my faith. Tell the funny moments of my routinely awkward life.

But I write this blog for me first. If you don't want to read about it, I respect that. Take the first exit and be gone. For those of you that take the time to share your life and read about mine, thank you. It would be a lonely place if we lived this life without others to share in our journey.

Friday, June 18, 2010

100 things my father taught me

1. Stress can be relieved through fidgeting.
2. Keep your elbow up when you bat.
3. Place your fingers along the softball seams to pitch a curve ball.
4. Keep your hands away from the saw blades.
5. Needles are most effective for removing splinters.
6. Education is the key to your success. Keep learning.
7. Science trumps popular opinion.
8. Teaching others ensures your legacy.
9. Pursue your passion with all that you have.
10. Love of a sports team can lead to high emotion.
11. There are many highly effective habits, and they are all hard to master.
12. Wrap vegetables in foil and throw them on the grill.
13. Enjoy the early morning.
14. Movies are best watched standing up, in the middle of the living room.
15. If you can work on your computer AND be outside on a summer day, do it.
16. Don't just be good, be the best.
17. Leadership starts when you're young and continues all your life.

18. Make it a point to go to church even if you are only in town for a few hours during the weekend.
19. You can pitch five innings when it's 115 degrees outside.
20. Your heat exhaustion because of said pitching can be relieved by laying on the pavement and having someone feed you Snickers bars.
21. Love other cultures. Love their food. Love their people. Love their cities.
22. It's good to have friends in the State Department.
23. Taking slide film and trying to project this on your living room wall is not the best way to show your family your trip photos.
24. Don't let Dan near your appliances.
25. If you want to look like you're cleaning up, put your clutter in piles.
26. It's the dad's job to pull the guts out of the turkey.

27. It's more fun and much cheaper to wash your car in the driveway.
28. Cheer for your team. Don't sit on the bench and sulk.
29. Scoop baked beans with Ruffles potato chips - tasty!
30. Have your ID and ticket ready to show the TSA agent at the airport. Not being prepared for this airport routine is unacceptable.
31. When traveling, try the local restaurants.
32. Eat crab cakes when in DC.
33. Politicians are just normal people who work really hard.
34. Be both proud and humble.
35. A glass of wine after a long day works wonders.
36. There are many types of soils.
37. You can identify crops in a field from your car window. At age three.
38. Start with the coarsest sandpaper and work your way toward fine.
39. Boulevard Wheat is the best beer.
40. A father's pride can be seen in his eyes.
41. Plant a tree when you're young as a marker for the years. Name it something like Ashley the Ash Tree.

42. It's possible for classical music to be exciting.
43. A man can be measured by his collection of books.
44. Former presidents' estates, gardens and graves are great tourist attractions.
45. Argentine barbecues cannot be effectively replicated in the U.S.
46. A "movie kiss" can be executed on demand.
47. Don't fight in front of your kid.
48. Making pancakes in the shape of letters and animals is a big hit.
49. It's OK for fathers to cry. Even while watching movies. Especially if it's Father of the Bride.
50. An orange hunting hat can satisfy the "orange day" rules at preschool but probably doesn't impress the boys.
51. Sometimes a hug is better than words of advice.
52. There are some conflicts that are best forgotten and not discussed.
53. It's important to wear purple on game day.
54. Red cars fade faster, and they should be washed AND WAXED often.

55. If you have strong teeth, it's OK to only brush right before you eat breakfast.
56. You can ride in the car for 10 hours and only stop once.
57. Scenic drives and tourist attractions advertised on interstate signs are not for you.
58. Always charge your phone.
59. Stamp out the small prairie fires with running shoes.
60. Water the lawn early in the morning.
61. Mow early, mow often.
62. Use your skills to make life better for others.
63. Remember to bring back souvenirs if you leave your family to go on a trip.
64. Don't eat while working at the computer.
65. Almost everything can be recycled or composted.
66. Invest your money wisely. Save for retirement.
67. Don't be petty and critical. It doesn't impress people.
68. Love yourself more than you love a boy.
69. You're beautiful even during your awkward middle school years.
70. The concierge floor at the hotel has free happy hour, snacks and internet.
71. Being successful often brings you more work.
72. Don't shy away from hard work.

73. Be careful studying with your spouse for the GRE. They might beat your score.
74. It's OK to let your daughter sue your employer if it's the right thing to do.
75. Keep your eye on the ball. Release at the hip.
76. Living a thrifty lifestyle early in life leads to rewards later on.
77. Laugh with your whole body.
78. Gestures like a card just from dad on Valentines Day can stick with your forever.
79. Show up for the airport early. They make those recommendations for a reason.
80. Paint the trim first. Roll evenly.
81. If you snap or yell when you are angry, apologize.
82. If you are going to steal a base, it's better to be wearing long pants.
83. Live up to your commitments. If you say you'll go, go.
84. If you have to choose between a big house, fancy clothes or travel, choose travel.
85. Watch the evening news.
86. The local weather comes on at the 8's.
87. A father walking his only daughter down the aisle is both a heart-wrenching and glorious moment.

88. Listen to NPR.
89. Get an oil change regularly before you engine blows up.
90. Invest in an AAA membership.
91.Wheaties is the breakfast of champions.
92. Leave your sweaty running clothes in the basement, not in the laundry room.
93. Chess is a hard game to love.
94. There are some evenings when frozen chicken nuggets and crinkle fries are an acceptable dinner.
95. Children, including strangers, love certain people for no particular reason.
96. Orange juice is best with the pulp strained.
97. Dried spaghetti dances when placed in vinegar, baking soda and water.
98. Working and living alongside others can be a lot of work.
99. Great speeches don't always use powerpoint.

100. A daughter needs her daddy no matter how old she is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

five of five

Five things I am reading:
1. My Real Simple magazine.
2. This super fun comic that accurately explains my current work life.
3. Wonkette, my favorite political blog which makes me laugh out loud. Which leads to embarrassment.
4. The Reason for God, as part of our church small group.
5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

Five things I am eating:
1. Peaches. Grapes. Watermelon. Anything that tastes amazing in the summer.
2. Couscous. I love it. Usually with lemon juice, basil and sliced cucumbers.
3. Homemade guacamole. Our first attempt and definitely a win. We used an Oprah recipe.
4. Chicken breasts with feta and grape tomatoes. Amaaaaazing. Make it.
5. Coffee from beans we bought at Mud Street Cafe in Arkansas. Yum!

Five things I am obsessing about: 
1. Etsy. I love it especially since I have become a strong advocate against white walls in our bedroom. You can see my favorites here.
2. Farmer's Markets. We have a great one here in Kansas City called City Market. This week we're trying a more neighborhood version in the Westport Plaza area.
3. Running outside. I've been a treadmill girl. This morning I ran five miles outside and fell in love. Plus I met some crazy characters not to include the 50 men outside the plasma donation center vying for spots in line.
4. Trader Joe's women's formula vitamins. They make my nails thick and grow like weeds.
5. Our new church. Love it. Love the people. Love the message. Love the service.

Five things I am thankful for:
1. Hot weather. I like 90s. It's like the earth is grabbing me in a big, comfy blanket.
2. My neighbors who remind me that stopping a second to talk means something.
3. No cable, more talking.
4. My space heater at work to offset the 65-degree work environment I am subjected to.
5. Dental insurance as we are now on root canal number two.

Five movies I watched recently:
1. Young Victoria. Liked it.
2. Havoc. Good acting by Anne Hathaway. But I care about your peace of mind, so I cannot recommend it.
3. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I imagine this is only good if you're on drugs.
4. Invictus. Love, love, loved it.
5. Away We Go. Weird but good. But weird.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

i am...

trying to figure out how to finish my master's degree before I am 30. I like how that sounds. (I, however, do not like the sounds of 30 when associated with my age.) Unfortunately I am turning 28 this fall, which poses a challenge and potentially a lot of work and dedication.

not very good at letting go of hurt feelings. It doesn't matter if I even like the person or not. I still get hurt. Especially when it's intentional. I wish I could purge mean people from my awareness.

now clear that I don't really enjoy working as a general activity.

dying to watch Invictus. Luckily it comes out at RedBox today.

trying to get better about answering my phone and calling people back. I'm horrible at this. 

glad the Big 12 is staying together so that I can finally stop reading about it. I am quite disturbed though by the fact the Big 10 has 12 members and the Big 12 has 10 members. There should be a law against this irony.

in love with my husband. Amazed how our relationship grows as our faith grows.

really developing an annoyance for drama and unnecessarily high emotional responses. It makes me tired. I will use this as an excuse for why waking up to go run has been an insurmountable challenge this past week.

finding a lot of peace in reading the comments on this Mental Floss blog post.

missing my old job and friends but finally starting to develop a rhythm in Kansas City where I have people that greet me with a hug instead of a handshake. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

culture of me

As marriage is redefined into a casual commitment, so are ideas of parenthood. Gone are the days of having children after the wedding. Or even having children at all.

The most recent report from the National Marriage Project, says that "legally, socially and culturally, marriage is now defined primarily as a couple relationship dedicated to the fulfillment of each individual's innermost needs and desires." The researched much of this shift to the new societal norm that we are all "bowling alone." We rely less on friendships and other communities and therefore turn to marriage for emotional security that is missing from other areas of life. Only 40 percent of Americans polled said children made a marriage happy.

We're getting married later. Average age for women to get married in 1970 was 21, now it's 26 and closer to 30 if you have a four-year degree or more. Back then, women had a child within three years of marriage. In 1990 only 37 percent did. Now, it's closer to a decade of child-less years.

And many of us who do have children, are not married. Yet studies show these cohabitating, unmarried parents are five times more likely to breakup. All this means we're living in a more adult-centered culture as homes with children make up less than 30 percent of the population. That means more focus career achievement. Gambling, pornography and sex are the fastest growing sectors of the consumer economy.

We're turning into a culture of me, me, me. Though I think society has made it nearly impossible to get married and have kids at a young age. Finishing college in four years without student debt and gainfully employed after graduation is a dream of the past. And not getting a quality master's degree won't get you very far in many career fields. So we go to school longer, go in debt deeper and we decide we'd rather enjoy our young years child-free.

But as much as we use money as an excuse, I don't think that's it. I think it's about not growing up. It's about wanting to go to the bars and not having to come home in a responsible state so you can pay the babysitter and kiss your kid goodnight. Not wanting to give up nights at the casino or trips to Cancun because your money is already budgeted for daycare. It's about putting career advancement above all else. 

Shea and I have always talked about putting our relationship before our potential future children. Not because we're selfish, but because we believe the best thing for kids is to grow up in a home with a stable, loving marriage. And when we decide to have kids, it'll be when we're ready to give up happy hours, random weekend trips, spending our money as we please.

I do think marriage is about fulfilling desires. But this trend toward selfish gain will lead to no where. I get amazing rewards from marriage, but I give and give up. A lot. But I believe two are greater than one. I think that someday three or four are better than two. (after we become five, snip-snip Shea.)

I value my marriage. My education. My career. My friendships. And God-willing, my future children. I think I can have all that and more. I was not put on this earth to serve myself. My education and career will give me the tools to live a life greater than what I want at any given moment. And if there are children, that means there are more people to share and multiply the joy. Even if they are declining in number, I still believe in the power of a family with strong values, faith and love.

Friday, June 11, 2010

ice in the underwear

On one of our recent road trips I was reading blogs on Shea's iPhone. And several posts about what life is like after giving birth - the physical part - made me have to put my head between my knees. On more than one occasion.

I am not seeking these blogs out. They are finding me at every turn. Haunting me.

I have spent the last few weeks asking everyone I know who has had a child if this horror is really true. My mom rolled her eyes (OK, it was on the phone but I guarantee she was doing it) and told me "that's ridiculous." Mother-in-law says I'll just love my baby so much that I won't care. My friend Kristin says it's just like a bad period. I also think they are all lying.

But these blogs, yikes. There are tales of wearing ice packs in your underwear. One girl took notes on her iPhone each time she went to the bathroom. Blood. Tearing. Pain. Fear. I can't tell you more. My breakfast is now in my throat, and I am crossing my legs with alarming strength.

Then there are the picture of stomachs that look like cottage cheese. And in all honestly, I am quite fond of my tummy. I don't mind having to workout to lose weight but if the texture of my skin resembles curdled milk...ACK.  My mom says this is also silly. I was born in November and she was back to her starting weight of 110, and then five pounds lighter by spring. With no trace of a stretch mark. Thank God we share genes.

We're not even talking about babies really. Which is why I emailed Shea this morning to tell him I'd like to wait to have kids until they develop a way to have children pain and gross free. But also naturally because despite all this information, I am still determined to give birth naturally. Because if you couldn't already tell, I am crazy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

at a stalemate

Maybe it's a slow recovery from wedding activities or the insane jealousy I feel that I will not get to have another honeymoon.

Or maybe I'm getting sick because even though its June, I have a sore throat and sensitive sinuses. It's my body punishing me for eating Oklahoma Joe's (still the best barbecue on planet Earth) and Town Topic burgers in a 24-hour time span.

Or maybe it's the fact the temperature is hovering near 90 degrees and there are nine straight days of thunderstorms in the forecast. Added stress since I have no idea where I am supposed to go when the tornado sirens go off.

Or maybe I'm just a big fat whiner.


I ran Monday and haven't been back to the gym since. The best I have managed to cook is spaghetti and tonight the plan is the ever-so-gourmet baked potato. We had church small group Monday, grocery shopped Tuesday (an all evening event) and had missions committee meeting Wednesday. Tonight, after cleaning our mess of an apartment, I am going to fall asleep while the hubs watches Shutter Island.

Now go watch this video and you'll be convinced reading all that whining was worth it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

one of my favorites

One of my most favorite people in the world is this little girl, Shea's cousin Audrey.

When we lived in Minneapolis, we would frequently take her for sleepovers at our condo followed by trips to the zoo, lake, park or children's museum. We played "Shea's a goober" and sang songs in the car. And for some reason, it stuck. Though I am not sure what makes us so awesome in her mind, we did something right and earned her love.

She was the perfect age to be our flower girl last August. During the ceremony she whispered in her sing-songy voice, "Sheaaaa aannd Saaarah" just loud enough for us to hear.

During the reception, she out-danced everyone else in the wedding party.

After we moved to Kansas City, we would hear the stories of how Audrey sang to herself, "come back Shea and Sarah. Come back to me." We send her things in the mail. Talk to her on the phone occasionally, which usually sends me to tears. Out of everyone, I miss Audrey the most.

This weekend we surprised her by showing up with a knock on her door. There was a scream, a huge smile and then little arms wrapped around my waist.

Hopefully someday she'll spend a weekend in Kansas City so we can stuff her with barbecue and shower her with love. And if we ever have a little girl as cute and as wonderful as her, my life will be a dream.

Monday, June 7, 2010

the people we call gatsby

Every time we walked out our condo front door, there they were. 

In their fancy cocktail dress and dapper suit. Always looking perfect. If they did wear jeans, they cost more than my car. One time they were on their way to a baby shower with the most perfect looking gift bag and hand-painted gift tag and I had to wipe the drool from my chin.

They were never in over-sized sweatpants and t-shirts. They probably didn't OWN t-shirts. Definitely not ones from pub crawls.

Mrs. Gatsby always had perfect blonde hair with perfect loose curls. Mr. Gatsby was thin, but with just enough perfect muscle that his suits fit perfectly. Their condo was probably perfect, too, like a William Sonoma ad. They were the epitome of young and fabulous.

We always imagined they were going to fancy wine and cheese parties. Or vacationing in whatever was Minneapolis' version of the Hamptons. They probably went to brunches with mimosas and brought home fresh flowers for their bedside.

Every time we dressed up, we said "ooh, we're like the Gatsbys." Or when we ordered a cheese plate and had champagne sent to our table, "this is what the Gatsbys do!" 

We took wedding pictures that are slightly Gatsbyish. And we danced to Gatsby-like songs.

We don't even live next to the Gatsby couple anymore. Now, we just enjoy saying things like, "Hey let's do something Gatsby this weekend."

So instead of sweatpants and Netflix, we go to a wine bar. Or dress up for dinner, even if it's not required.

And next year, you will find this Gatsby couple here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

tis the season for bubbles and white gowns

Tis the wedding season! We're headed to Minnesota this weekend for the first of seven. Ours was only nine months ago but it's interesting how I already have a different perspective on weddings.

Things I would have changed.
I would have video-taped the rehearsal dinner. I know, weird, but our dinner turned into a speech-fest. In that two hours, I do not think I've felt more loved in my entire life. Also would have brought more kleenex.

We love all our attendants, and they were all wonderful and fabulous every step of the way. These people can make or break your planning experience. They get you Starbucks on your wedding day, create a no-drama bubble of protection, hold your hand during toasts and teach you to suck through an imaginary straw so you don't cry. But we would have probably considered different factors when choosing who would stand up for us from the beginning. There are friends of the moment and friends forever. Friends that are tied to you by blood and those who may not be family, but feel closer than that. But, relationships change so much at our age -  a fact neither of us really considered.

I would have bought less bubbles. Seriously.

I would have checked to make sure that the "modesty patch" that went in the back of my dress was there when I picked it up from being steamed. Doing that would have made sure my heroic friend Johanna didn't have to book it six blocks, five minutes before photos so that my butt crack wasn't showing.

Things I'm glad we chose.
We chose to see each other before the ceremony - something I was extremely unsure about. It was a courtesy to our guests who were already giving us so much. But also for each other. It meant less stress and less ugly-crying face in pictures. And I assure you the moment when I saw Shea as I walked down the aisle was no less special or emotional. I was just more lucid to be able to take it all in. And the 45 minutes we had together for pictures after the ceremony was perfect and fun. And one of the few "just us" moments we got those three days.

No kids under three. We provided a babysitter for the kids that did attend because we love their parents and wanted them there. And we welcomed them to the reception complete with a candy buffet. But the majority of our wedding planning went into the short 30 minutes we got to stand at the altar. It was the reason for the day, and in a hot, quiet church, the last memory I wanted was a baby crying during our vows. Those are the best, and most important, 30 minutes of my life. And I am glad I protected them.

We had breakfast with our families the next morning. It's one of my favorite memories because in the flurry of the day, there were things I missed. Compliments I didn't get to hear. Crazy stories I wasn't present for (layne elizabeth). So while still in the emotion of the day, we got to hear everything. And it was the perfect ending.

In the end, the flowers were beautiful, I weighed the perfect amount, the food was tasty, the cupcakes delicious, the colors complimentary. Not because I did a good job planning, but because they were good enough to not be a problem. Because what mattered at the end of the day was we left as husband and wife.

I hope this summer's wedding couples have the experience we did. I hope it's the very best day of your life. I hope you are overwhelmed with joy. I hope you feel loved by so many people from all stages in your life. I hope you realize the seriousness of the commitment you are making. I hope you know you are beautiful because even if you didn't lose all the weight you wanted or get the toned triceps you hoped for, a bride is always the most beautiful person in the room. I hope you are sincerely grateful to all the friends and family that helped make this day possible for you and the sacrifices they are making.

And most of all, I hope that this day is the day in which you love your spouse the least. I hope that every single day after this your love only grows. And I hope that at the end of this amazing day when your adrenaline finally runs out and you are alone together, you don't have a single doubt that this is where you belong. Forever.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

i'm blaming this on eve

This post is going to be about cramps, the girl kind. So if that makes you weak in the knees, go read someone else's blog, reconsider the fact you want to be married to a woman someday, and come back tomorrow. 

I used to get cramps really bad. One of my first memories is sitting in zoology class and not being able to stand up to walk to the lab tables because the pain was so bad. My mom would often have to pick me up from school and greet me with a heating pad.

Then I got on the pill because that helps. And for the most part, I don't get that kind of pain anymore.

Until yesterday.

I take Imitrex for migraines when Tylenol won't do the trick. I am guaranteed an intense migraine the day I stop taking my pills as my hormones switch over. So right on cue, Monday night I had to fumble around in the bathroom cabinet for my magic yellow head pills.

Tuesday as I was walking out the door for work, they hit. Like a baseball bat to the knees. I managed to drive to work, but sitting up straight in my chair was a lot to ask. I took three Tylenol, which might as well have been candy. I swear that for a brief second I considered the fact that perhaps I had been pregnant the last nine months without knowing it, and this was the beginning of labor.

Turns out, the medicine that narrows the blood vessels in my head to stop the migraines also narrows the blood vessels in my woman parts causing P-A-I-N. This is extremely convenient since both things always happen at the same time every month.

Seriously, if being a woman wasn't hard enough.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

camping trip report: eureka springs, ark.

Last time we went camping, I cried that I wanted to go to a hotel because there were ticks everywhere on my body, and the dog would not stop barking. This time I thought I was going to cry because we had to leave.

After dropping Mac the dog off at his own canine resort, we headed south down Highway 71 to Arkansas. We stopped in Carthage, Missouri for the town's best burger.

Driving through the Ozark mountains was reminiscent of my experience driving through on a youth group bus where half the kids were throwing up in bags. I did keep my hamburger in my stomach but a few close calls. We stopped in Eureka Springs to walk around, get a smoothie and stretch our legs. The town is super cute but strikingly similar to a Sturgis rally.

Our campsite was south of the Beaver Lake dam. So clean and completely gorgeous. It is the "natural state" after all.

Sunday we rented mountain bikes - something I was very apprehensive about considering I haven't been on a bike in at least a decade. But the saying is true, and I did remember how to ride it. Denton from Adventure Mountain Outfitters fitted our bikes and dropped us off at the trail heads. We had bikes worth over $2,000 each which makes a big difference in shock absorption. And the gloves and helmet seemed rather necessary as well. The paths, which are single-track, unpaved, rock, tree root infested (and snakes!), went around Leatherwood Lake.

We went through creeks.

Stopped at the dam for lunch.

And then over bridges.

And eventually popped a tire. Luckily less than half a mile from our car.

And also luckily never ran into these.

We did have to walk a lot because going up a mountain involves a lot of inclines. I know, I was shocked, too. But, we figure we biked/walked 10 miles total. Now two days later, sitting is still painful. But we are so glad we did this - totally worth the pain and money!

Sunday night I got my ice cream and watermelon, for another weekend goal accomplished.

The only failure was my blood-sucking tick. I would post a picture but it was not in a blog-appropriate place so you can use your imagination. I prevailed though and removed it all by myself without a tear.

Monday morning we at breakfast at Mud Street Cafe, which has been featured in Southern Living and National Geographic. It lived up to its hype on every account. They even let us eat our breakfast in the favorite spot of the locals - a table and sofa pit, and we were declared officially "pitted."

Even better than the mountain biking and watermelon was spending three solid days with my best friend.

It's weekends like this that make me realize how wonderful it is to be married to your very bestest friend who you are completely obsessed with spending every second with. There is absolutely no place I would rather be.