Tuesday, November 29, 2011

{family photographs}

My mother used to torture us with family photos.  
We didn't have the money to have our photographs professionally done, so every summer we used my dad's trusty Ricoh to record history.   Mother would style us and pose us for several hours until she had enough good shots to adorn our home for the year.   My older brother barely smiled in any of them because he hated the experience so much.  My sister and I were made to wear matching outfits {despite our five year age difference} and matching hairstyles.  She despised this, while I loooooved looking just like my cool older sis.  My photogenic and easy-going little brother always just looked cute.  So annoying.

Here are some examples of such photographs...

Okay, the first one is NOT really an official family photo.  I think this might be a regular Christmas Eve photo...but you get the idea.  Plus, you can see real examples of the four of us on the wall in the background:

Oh, perms and poufy bangs...I do not miss you.
Despite the torture, I am so, so, so glad my mama took the time to do this.  The photographs are treasures.  Even the awful ones.  {case in point: the year she made us take them during our annual family camping trip.  we are all in flannel.  not good.}

I decided to continue the family tradition and take yearly family pics.  Sorry Baby Cormac...but the torture begins now.   I have lots of crazy prop ideas.   I probably will never do matching outfits, though.
Here are this year's treasures:

Here's to new traditions and embarrassing family photographs...
cherish them always!

Friday, November 25, 2011

run the race.

"Do you not know that in race all runners run, but only one gets the prize?
Run in such a way as to get the prize."
I Corinthians 9:24 {NIV}

 Okay, so I did not win any prize when running the annual Thanksgiving Day 10K yesterday; however, I would like to think I ran in such a way as to win.
I have mentioned in previous posts my love of running,
and thought I would share how I
personally run my race...
1. Carb up the night before!  I dined on pasta and a breadstick...and plenty of water.
2. Get a good night's sleep.  For a new mama, six consecutive hours is awesome! :)
3. Small, healthy breakfast...with a little caffeine!  I had coffee, half a banana and half a bagel with peanut butter...and I made sure I ate more than an hour before the race.
4. Get there early!  Or at least early enough to hang out a little with other runners and get pumped up.  Runners are pretty crazy, awesome people with a lot of positive energy!
5. Have a sweet playlist on your iPod specifically chosen for your race.  My picks this year included:  Good Feeling {Flo Rida}, Moves Like Jagger {Maroon 5} and Super Bass {Nicki Minaj.}  Music that motivates is a must!
6. Focus on something important to you...especially during those stretches of the race that seem the hardest/longest.  The last mile I thought about my baby.  How I want to set a healthy example for him.  How I want us to have a tradition of running this race together someday {hopefully!}
6. RUN YOUR HEART OUT!  "Run in such a way as to get the prize."  I have found that it doesn't matter how long your legs are, how skinny you are, or often you run...the main component for doing well is running hard and having a heart to win.  And by win I mean run your absolute hardest.  Competing with yourself and going for a personal record.   Or heck, if you are competitive like me, trying to pass as many people as you possibly can.
7. Celebrate post-race!  For me, this time, that meant quickly getting home to drive a couple hours to a family gathering...but my runner's high lasted at least until I had enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner and time with the fam.

Much love and Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all my blog friends...
I am thankful for YOU!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

mum overload

While one of the things I like most about autumn is the abundance of mums...I have found that there can be too much of a good thing.

I planted several mum plants that I had purchased a couple years ago in my perennial bed, crossing my fingers they would not die.  Well, they did the opposite.  
They went crazy and grew. And grew.  And grew!

Or at least the purple mums did.  They killed off the other two colors and became so large they were hiding my garden buddha statue and so heavy they no longer could hold themselves upright.

So I had to hack the mums in half.  
Yes, below is after I uprooted half of the plant.

Soooo many mums!

Our dumpster currently looks like a huge, brown plastic mum planter.

I know mums are not really ever used as cut flowers...but I couldn't resist sparing a handful 
for a pop of pink color in our bathroom:

 Love and MUMS!

Friday, November 18, 2011

{let's paint a chalkboard!}

Oh painted chalkboards, how I love thee!
And oh, how easy!

1. Go to Goodwill and find ugly, cheap art with glass insert and a frame that you like.
Ignore the condition of frame and ugliness of art.
(I paid 4 dollars for this 16x20 solid wood frame!)
2. Remove any inserts but do not discard. 
3.Clean and sand rough edges {if wood.}
 4. Paint frame desired color. Use several coats. 
 I used this olive green that I already had a sample of in the basement. 
You can also distress with sanding and antiquing stain, 
if you like that look and are crafty like that.
I'm not.
5. Paint the glass with chalkboard paint.  I did four coats.  I prefer actual paint vs. spraypaint for this project.  You can get a can for $15 at Lowes.  It will last you forever.  You probably can make about 50 framed chalkboards with it.  Another thing would be to first paint a coat of magnetic primer so that it can be a magnetic chalkboard.  A can of that is $20 at Lowes.  I was too cheap/broke to buy that this week.

6. When everything is dry, put your chalkboard {very carefully!} back in the frame, as well as any inserts you removed that will help hold the glass in place.

7. "Season" your chalkboard before using by taking a piece of chalk and rubbing long-ways all over the board.  {My apologies for not taking a picture of this!}  Then wipe away dust using a dry cloth.

8. Hang in desired location and write on your board!  I put this one in my kitchen for now...just in time for a UK game watch get-together!
 Who knows where it will end up though...
probably not outside, like in this photo:

Linking this here...
Make it Yours @ My Backyard Eden


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{day seven : one story you want to tell}

***Note: This is the final installment of my 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

For months I'd looked forward to seeing his face.

I had even convinced myself the process of meeting him would not be that painful.  Women give birth all the time.  I figured I would go into labor during the night, and he would arrive by morning.  It would be shiny and happy and lovely.  Isn't that how it happens all the time  in the movies?

I started feeling the contractions at around 9pm on his due date.  Real ones, this time.  Not the vague tightening that I had been feeling for months.   My husband and I decided to go for our normal nighttime walk around the neighborhood, trying to induce labor.  We were happy, smiling, thrilled at the prospect that soon, very soon, we would have our baby.  After forty weeks of anticipation.  My belly larger than life.
I would stop in my tracks along our walk, the pain now sharp enough to actually have to stop and grab Paul's arm tightly.  At about midnight, when the contractions became consistently 5 minutes apart, we decided to call the doctor and see if we should make that fateful journey to the hospital.  The answer was, "Come on in -- you're going to have a baby!"  Gulp.

We had been up since around 6am the previous morning, but adrenaline and excitement had us somehow ignoring our sleep-deprived state.  I felt ready for a marathon.  Paul was all smiles, asking me a million questions about how I was feeling, and of course letting me squeeze his hand with all my might during these early contractions.   We basically bounced gleefully up to the check-in desk in the "baby wing" of the hospital: "My wife is having our baby tonight!"  He may as well have shouted, "Yippee!"  The nurse gave a knowing smirk, probably thinking, Suckers! and had us wait in the Triage Room.  This took forever.  "Forever" meaning about 45 minutes, but believe me, when you are in labor that qualifies as "forever."

When the triage nurse finally came in to check how far along I was and decide if I deserved a room or not, I was extremely uncomfortable from the contractions.  I was already to the point where I needed complete silence during them and was starting to get a little nervous about my pain tolerance.  Yet, I put on a brave face and handed over my birth plan.

The nurse determined I was 6 cm dilated, which seemed like good progress to me.  Everything was going according to "the plan."  I had labored at home as long as I could, and now I was ready to finish the process, naturally and completely drug free, at the hospital.   We had remembered our bag {thank God} and I was armed with all that I needed: supportive husband, comfy "labor" clothes,  iPod with motivational birthing music mix, water bottle, and of course, the camera.  The blessed camera.  Between contractions I was teaching Hubby how to use the fancy thing. 

Here is our test picture...you can tell it is around 2am and I was mid-labor.  This was before the contractions had become extremely strong, but still. Not pretty.  I can remember the pain just looking at this picture: 

Very quickly all my plans went out the window.  

The contractions started coming extremely hard and fast about 3am.   Little did I know, baby was facing "up" {posterior position} and I was having the most painful of labor: back labor.  Each contraction felt like I was getting hit by a truck.   Or that a truck was trying to exit my uterus.   I absolutely could not lay down -- that only doubled the pain.  I labored standing up, in my hospital gown, butt sticking out, leaning against Paul in those wee hours of the morning on July 13th, breathing as evenly as I could, moaning and groaning as quietly and calmly as I could.

For one hour I labored on the "birthing ball."  When a contraction would come I would try to control my breathing the best I could during that minute of intense, mind-numbing pain, while swaying in all directions on that ball, praying with every ounce of my soul for the Lord to get me through each one.  When I finally stood up from the ball we realized my water had broken.   I remember vividly that the water that was all over my gown and the floor was ice cold, so really we had no idea at what point it broke.

The nurse checked me again at 4am and I was at 8cm.  Not progressing as quickly as I would have liked.  For how intense and closely the contractions had been coming I thought for sure I would have been at 10cm.  Even the nurse seemed a little surprised.  But everyone tried to remain positive, for my sake: "You're doing so great!" and "You can do this!"  I had somehow managed to remain rather calm and quiet during the labor process thus-far.

But now I was tired.  So tired from the breathing and swaying and hanging on to Paul's shoulders for dear life during each contraction that I was literally falling asleep between contractions.  Yes, falling asleep.  Strangely, the contractions were slowing down.  Still every bit as painful, but coming a little less frequently. Something was wrong.

So when they checked my cervix again at 6am and I was STILL at 8cm, I started to panic.  How was it possible?  All that work I'd done the past two hours and my cervix hadn't budged.  I felt like I was going to die.  Not from the pain of the contractions specifically, but because I was too exhausted to go through that kind of immense pain for an undetermined amount of time.    I was having dark premonitions that I would simply shut down from exhaustion and not be able to push the baby out.  There did not seem to be an end in sight.

I felt physically at the end of my rope from exhaustion, and no one seemed to have any answers for why my labor had stalled.

I wanted the epidural.  

As per my birth plan, both Paul and my nurse gently tried to talk me out of it.  Told me again I could do it.  At that point there was no doubt in my mind what I wanted.  

Every woman has their limit:  ten hours {and God knows how many more} of back labor was mine.  Birth plan be damned.

So after 45 minutes more I got the epidural.  Those were the longest and most gut-wrenching 45 minutes of the entire labor process, because I now expected relief, and it was slow in coming.   I don't even remember the needle going in.  It could have been a foot long for all I know.  I just knew that once the contractions disappeared my panic about not being able to push the baby out subsided as well.  Praise Jesus Almighty.
After the epidural we spent the next three hours relaxing.  Yes folks, relaxing.  My body labored away, unbeknownst to me.  I could not feel a thing.  

My epidural was super-strength, apparently.

I slept.  Paul slept.  We played a game or two of cribbage.  I talked to one of my closest girlfriends on the phone.  All was glorious.  And very odd.
Then my doctor came in.  Finally.  This was the first I had seen of my doctor throughout the entire labor {which didn't strike me as weird until later.}  

He checked me:  I was STILL at 8cm.  He seemed puzzled.  He looked the handy-dandy printout that showed my contraction pattern.  They had definitely slowed down even more...yet had kept the same intensity.  

Upon further inspection {read: poking and prodding my lady parts} the doc came to a revelation:  my water had NOT broken.  Or perhaps there were two, um, "waters" because he had to break it again.  Another clear gush of fluid.

"Now we're cooking with gas," he said.  Well, not really, but something like that.

Another helpful revelation:  "Your baby is facing the wrong direction."  Thus, the back labor.  Even more fun news from the doc: "I will probably have to try to turn him."  That didn't sound good.

After another hour, I was finally at 10 centimeters and the doctor gave the okay for "us" to start pushing. Regarding pushing: when you've had an epidural you can't feel anything.  Which is good.  Also, it is bad...because you can't feel anything.  It can be very difficult to push out a baby you cannot feel.  The only way I knew to push was to pay careful attention to a very faint pressure I would feel somewhere in my uterus.  A tickle, really.  When I felt it, I would exclaim to Paul and the nurse who was only sometimes present during my "pushing process" that I had to push.  Whoever was there {the doc was off delivering other babies} would hold my feet so my knees were nearly touching my face and coach me through.

"1 - 2 - 3 - PUUUUUUUUUSH!"  sometimes twice during each contraction.   Paul kept excitedly telling me he could see the head, that the baby was getting closer and closer to coming out, that he had hair!  Lots of dark baby hair.  I could only nod.  I was in the middle of something, after all.

It took me two full hours of pushing before the doctor was able to turn the baby into the correct position and baby's head came out.   Quickly the doctor said, quite seriously, "Greta you better push again right now -- he's not taking this very well."   No problem, Doc.  With one final heave out came his wet, slimy, wriggly little body.  

During those first few seconds I felt nothing but relief.  I saw him.  He looked perfect.  He was alive!  

Paul, on the other hand, was on pins and needles until he heard the baby's first cry...which occurred after a minute of vigorous suctioning of mucous out of the throat.  Paul says those were scary moments for him.

Immediately after that first cry the baby was placed on my chest.  He was not wiped off, he was not weighed...just given to me, his mama, immediately.  Finally, something went according to plan!

I did not cry.  I was not scared.   I knew him already.  "Cormac Landon Ford," was all I said, to no one in particular.  For a full hour and a half we snuggled together, I fed him, and just looked amazedly at this tiny boy who needed to be close to my beating heart, that familiar sound.
Perhaps some forget the pain of childbirth...but you never forget the way your heart swells when you hold your baby the first time.

For months I'd looked forward to seeing his face.

It was worth every moment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

{day six : two things you want}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

I want...
2.  ...to be more mindful.  Being a notorious planner I feel like I am always looking forward to something, and never just focusing on where I am in the present moment.  Then when the event I've been planning for and anxiously awaiting finally arrives I tend to be a little let down.  I want to just be satisfied with where I am at...not continuously trying to fit more in and get more done.  I think many women are like me and try to "do it all."  While I love the things I do, I am many times exhausted at the effort I put forth to do so much.  I find it very difficult to just be.  To live in the moment and delight in every little thing.

2. ...my son to grow up healthy and happy.  I pray for this every single night.  That he grows to up to be a strong man, both in body and in his convictions.   That he knows the Lord.  That he lives life to the fullest.  That he is kind.  That he makes smart decisions with his time and money.  That he chooses a career he is passionate about.  That he doesn't date until he's thirty {half kidding.}  That he still calls me to talk when he is forty.

Monday, November 14, 2011

{day five : three things you miss}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

Source: imgfave.com via Jaime on Pinterest

I love the quote above.  It is a good reminder to enjoy what you have.  To be grateful for the amazing things in life right now.  Many things in my life have changed over the past decade...I graduated from college, moved across the country away from my family, I got married and now am a mother.  However, with those changes came things that have made my life even more beautiful...that I never even knew I was missing...that I love deeply.  I would never want to go backward.  That being said, here are a few things I "miss" from days gone by...

1.  I miss school.  I should say specifically: I miss attending college classes.  I miss writing papers and reading literature I wouldn't normally read.  I miss participating in intellectual discussions about said literature.  I wish I could justify spending more money on college courses, but I cannot.  Maybe I should find {or found} a book club?

2.  I miss sleeping in.  Or at least the knowledge that I could sleep in, if I chose to.  These days, with Baby, even on the weekends when Hubby gets up when the baby gets up to, in theory, allow Mama to sleep in, I don't.  I may linger in bed awhile, listening to the noises of my family beginning their day, writing in my journal a bit...but then I am up as well.  I can't help it, I want to spend time with them, too!  Before long I am up out of bed, may make some coffee first, but then I am right there with Baby and Hubby.  It is a pull I cannot resist.

3. I miss my mama.  Okay, my dad, too, and the rest of my family -- whom I moved away from six years ago to be near my now-Hubby.  However, the bond between a mother and daughter is unique, I think {read more about her HERE.}  There is something very comforting about my mom...she loves to tell stories, give advice, and feed you.  When you are with her you know you can just relax and not worry about anything.   Even now, at thirty years old, I can go home to the farm and sit at the kitchen table, drink coffee, and talk to my mom for hours about anything.  We don't always agree, but there is such comfort being around her that any disagreements are forgotten almost immediately.  It is interesting that I married a man who is the same way with his mom.  I love that my Hubby calls his mom frequently to tell her all the exciting {and mundane} news in our lives...and I see when they are together that he has that comfort with her as well.  I really hope my son is the same way someday.  I hope I am that comforting mama.  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

{day four: four confessions}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

Source: google.com via Paul on Pinterest

None of these are very flattering...but confessing awesome things doesn't make much sense, does it?  :o)
1.  I have pretty bad road rage I am the driver that will put her car half in the right lane and half on the shoulder to prevent other cars from passing on the shoulder in a traffic jam.  I will stop my car in the middle of the street so that you cannot go any further if you are driving the wrong way on a one-way street.  I do not normally use much profanity, but I curse like a sailor in the car by myself.  At other drivers.  Bad drivers.  I will give dirty looks and have been known to flash the middle finger in extreme circumstances.  Shameful, I know.
2.  I am a closeted Garrison Keillor fanatic.  If you have no idea who Garrison Keillor is, then never mind.  If you do you might be surprised that I love his novels.  They are not really what you learn to love as an English Literature major in college.  His stories gently poke fun at midwesterners and tend to be very tongue-in-cheek.  Usually I go for pretty dark, very metaphorical literature.  Keillor is just fun...and he reminds me of my home state of Minnesota.
3. I believe in ghosts.  Or perhaps it was an angel.  In any case, when I was eight years old I saw an apparition in broad daylight in a cemetery, no less.  It was only for about five seconds, then I looked away to tell my friend to also look up and see the elderly woman, bathed in sunlight, reaching down and touching a gravestone.  By the time my friend looked up the hillside towards where I was pointing the woman was gone.  I have never seen anything like it since, and I don't know why I saw it then, but it thrills me to know I got that glimpse of the "other side."
4. I have chronic depression.  Now before you start feeling sorry for me...don't.  I don't "confess" this for any type of sympathy, but to perhaps bring to light that depression is more common than most realize.  Also, a person with depression is not necessarily an unhappy person.  In general, I am very happy.  I love my life, and find great joy in many things.   Depression, for me, does not stem from any sad event that has happened in my life, but is simply something genetic that I've always dealt with.  Sometimes, for absolutely no reason at all, I feel sad and perhaps a little hopeless.  Call it a funk with no situation that caused it.  It might last several days.  I will first sit and try to figure out why I feel sad.  When I come to the conclusion I have nothing to feel sad about I realize it is just my depression kicking in.  Depression, depending on the severity and situation, is treated various ways.  Though I have contemplated medication over the years, I am personally not a fan of taking pills.  So instead of medication, I have learned what works for me.  One major thing is exercise.  I run or I go to the gym.  I work out a lot...always have, for this reason.  It makes me feel really good, no matter how bad I felt before I started.  I try to eat fairly healthy, and include food that are known to be "mood-boosting."  I also spend time outside and try to take in a lot of natural light...although even ten minutes in a tanning bed helps!  Sometimes I just need to ride it out...curl up in bed, perhaps have a good cry, armed with the knowledge that I will always feel better in a day or so.   I also find that writing helps -- I will pour my feelings out into my journal and usually then I can look at things more objectively...or at least I feel that I have gotten a lot off my chest.  I have learned to be open about my depression with loved ones.  I simply tell my husband how I am feeling, so he knows it is not him or anything else...it is just the depression.  This is something that has taken me a long time to be able to do.  When I was a kid I didn't understand depression, because no one talked to me about it.  I am pretty thankful that at a fairly young age I was able to acknowledge there was something wrong, seek counseling, and be strong enough and self-aware enough to choose a plan of action that would work for my circumstances.  I think every person is faced with hurdles in their life and you can either stop running forward or learn to leap.

See...told you it would get deep. :D

Saturday, November 12, 2011

{day three : five things you hate}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

Source: 9gag.com via Kim on Pinterest

Hate is such a strong word.  I'd like to think these are things I strongly dislike.  I really don't like being negative on my blog, but I guess this is my opportunity to vent unapologetically.  So, I "hate"...

1. Clutter.  I refuse to watch even a moment of Hoarders because it will give me a tick and most likely an anxiety attack.  I am a tosser.  I will get rid of anything that is not serving a specific purpose.  I have to either use it or LOVE how it looks or it is gone.  I think there is a saying "Cluttered house, cluttered mind" and it applies to me.  I remember in college I could only do my studying if my workspace was clear and it was perfectly quiet.  I like things very simple, very tidy, very organized.  When I am stressed, I clean and end up taking a bunch of stuff to Goodwill.  Makes me feel liberated.

2.  Stray cats in my neighborhood.  Call me an evil person, but the fact that people constantly leave food out for stray cats, thus causing them to live in our neighborhood, thus causing them to poop in my flowerbeds, thus causing them to breed more illegitimate kittens, has me steaming mad.  Did I mention they poop in my flowerbeds?  I like cats, if they are contained and cared for by actual owners.  I can't let my dog roam free and poop wherever he wants to.  Plus, if there were stray dogs everywhere the local animal control would be out regulating in a heartbeat.  For some reason they ignore the growing population of unclaimed felines.  Stepping off my soapbox now...wait, no I'm not...

3.  Unrealistic expectations of beauty.  There is not one type of beautiful.  For example, skinny does not = beautiful.  There are beautiful skinny girls,  but as women we have to be careful that we do not try to dictate what constitutes beauty.  The truth is: beauty comes in all forms.  You can be short and curvaceous or tall and very thin, and both can be beautiful.  This is one of the fears I have about having a daughter...that some ignorant person will remark to her that skinny=pretty {or tall or voluptuous} and she will either strive desperately her whole life to achieve that very superficial goal, or will simply feel bad about herself if her body type is not what one person thinks it should be.  As women we need to build each other up, strive to be healthy, and watch our words.  Beautiful can be any size.

4. Mean girls.  Specifically those that cut down other females behind their back.  I tend to tune out when I hear one woman insult another woman who is not there to defend herself.   I have had people that I've not liked, but I will not say nasty things about them to other people.  It screams insecure.  Plus, I know how much it can hurt, because I've had some extremely nasty things said about me.  If someone really has an issue with another person and want it resolved, they should confront that person like an adult.  Otherwise, end the relationship and quit talking about them behind their back.  It's not flattering.

5.  Debt.  I have no interest in paying interest on anything besides our house...and even that isn't very appealing.  I'm perfectly okay driving a modest vehicle, buying my clothes at Target, and living in a house that requires a much smaller mortgage than what a bank will approve us for...if it means we have no debt and are living well below our means.  Less stressful that way.   Guilt-free vacations that way.  Earlier retirement that way.  Happier marriage that way.

Wow -- that felt good!
Thanks for letting me rant!

Friday, November 11, 2011

{day two : six things you love}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

There are the obvious things...my husband, my baby, God, family.  Let's skip those.  They know it, and it is not a challenge for me to write about my love for them.  For this post I tried to think of more revealing loves.
1. I love light. 
Ever walked outside, stopped mid-stride, closed your eyes and faced directly into the sun, soaking in the warmth for a moment?  I do this regularly.  People probably think I'm nuts.  I have never been officially diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure I have seasonal affective disorder.  I need light.  I realized this fact very keenly since becoming a stay-at-home mom.  For the past 15 years I have worked jobs in which I've been bathed in fluorescent light for 8+ hours a day.  Now I spend the majority of my day indoors...and I realize the value of light.  In the morning I turn on all the lights.  I frequently have to go on walks outside with the baby, whether it is sunny or not, just to be in the light.   Too much darkness and I get very down!

2. I love being alone.
I am not a person who likes a ton of people around me.  In fact, crowds sometimes give me a bit of anxiety {oh yes, the list of neuroses goes on, and on, and on...} Like the light, I also need time by myself to be in balance.  When I was a teenager I would come home from school and literally spend hours walking around the perimeter of our woods, just thinking about life.  It's hard to get alone time these days, but a couple days a week my husband takes the baby for a few hours at a time so I can venture out on my own, to wander solo with my thoughts...and very often a latte.

3. I love photography.
My love for photography began way before I started blogging.  Years before I owned my DSLR {with which I'm still shooting on the automatic setting.} Before I took art history classes in college and learned about composition, light, and subject matter.  I have always loved pictures.   I would pore over my older sisters snapshots of her and her friends, and spend hours sifting through my mom's trunk of old photographs.   My love for photography began as soon as I owned my first camera.  I would cry at Kmart if my 35mm film that I had waited two whole days as it was sent to the lab to get developed somehow came back "damaged..." meaning I had loaded it incorrectly or it had gotten wet or some other tragedy that meant none of my photos would ever come to be.   Yes, I would literally cry tears of grief over lost photographs.  It made me feel like the stories told on the film perhaps never happened.  Even now I kick myself if I realize I forgot my camera.   They often show the photographer's perspective of life.  Photographs can tell a story that often words cannot adequately convey.

4. I love oddballs.
In a world where people try to fit in, blend in, appear as though everything is perfect...I am drawn to those who will openly show their inner oddball.   Who don't seem to care too much what others think.  Those who admit their life has some crappy aspects...and they are OK with that.  I love an odd fashion sense {even though I dress pretty conservatively.}  I love a off-beat sense of humor.   I even have a little oddball in me...and I am so thankful to have my husband, my best friend, with whom I feel completely comfortable being as odd as I want to be.  

5. I love flowers.
Not in the sense that I love receiving flowers {though, of course, I do.}  I love flowers because they are art.  Flowers are art without even trying.   I am always in awe of the subtle ways in which God shows his awesomeness through creation.  Flowers are my favorite subject matter in photography {read: they are very easy to photograph...naturally beautiful and they don't move!}

6. I love reinvention.
If you know me, you know I like to move.  Literally.  While single I lived in more apartments than I can count, and my husband and I are already on our second home, contemplating a third...and we've only been married four years.  I love taking a space and making it my own.  I love painting walls.  I love change.  I have no problem changing the cut or color of my hair.  I feel no attachment to any particular city.  I am a firm believer in the saying:  "If you don't like something, change it."  Or just change something for the fun of it. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

{day one : seven things that cross your mind a lot}

***Note: I am currently doing a 7 day blog challenge, where I blog based on writing prompts from this post***

1. My baby. Okay, I know I said I would be blogging about something besides my baby...but this one is a given. I stay at home full time to care for this little person. It's an investment, so I put in a lot of effort. I think about how he is developing, his sleep patterns, his eating schedule, new things we can do that will be stimulating for him.  I used to have a lot of time to think about myself: how I look, where I should go out this weekend, whether to do strength-training or cardio at the gym, and where my next vacation will be. Now those things all take a backseat to thoughts about the baby.  I have no idea when I'll get to the mall next to buy a hot new outfit.  I have no idea when I will fit {like I used to} in said "hot new outfit." I have no idea when I'll get to try that new restaurant or go on a movie date with my husband. What I do know is that I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who is dependent on me. The other things are fun and lovely when they happen, but don't seem that important anymore.

2. Minnesota.  I miss my home state.  I miss the lakes, the clean air, the frigid winters {yes, even those} the farm I grew up on, my family, camping trips to the bwca, the "uff-das" and the "yah sures" and the church potlucks with the hotdishes galore.  I love that I have lived in different states and would be completely open to moving to other states and even other countries.  But my heart and soul will always be in Minnesota.
3. Food.  I try to eat healthy...but I love food.  Not fancy food, necessarily...just food in general. I catch myself looking forward to my morning coffee, bagel and yogurt.  I scour the internet for restaurants with interesting cuisine that I want to try {you know, on all those nights out I get now that we have a baby...} I will sometimes chug a Red Bull in the late afternoon just so I can have the energy to try cooking a new recipe.  My idea of the perfect night is great conversation, a bottle of wine, and some very simple, very good food.  

4. Tomorrow.  They say you should live for today.  Enjoy the moment you are in.  I am not so good at that.  I am always planning, plotting, dreaming of what I can accomplish in the future.  I make lists of goals, long-term and for the very next day.  I love to physically cross things off these lists.  It gives me a strange sense of satisfaction. 

5. Time.  I am very schedule-driven. I watch the clock like  a hawk.  I appreciate things occurring at their regularly scheduled time. I'm very punctual. I like to be early for things.  Except things that you really should not be early for...like parties.  Parties you should always be late.  {Believe me, the host appreciates people not arriving early or even right on time!} But I digress.

6. Mortality.  I often wonder how I will die.  I'm not exactly scared of death, but I would prefer to live a very long life. I also pray constantly for the safety of my husband and baby.  Morbid, right?  

7. God. What I mean is, I pray a lot. In my head.  Out loud.  While I drive.  While I'm brushing my teeth.  While I'm listening to my baby cry while he learns to self-soothe.   I pray that I make it to the end of the day with my sanity.  I pray that I can savor the happy moments. I pray that bad moments pass by quickly. I pray, as I said, for my family.  I pray for those that I know are hurting.  I pray that they pray, too.  Sometimes praying is honestly the only thing that gets me through the day...and I can't imagine not having that peace.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

seven day challenge: let's get real

I want to be challenged.  In my writing.  In my relationships.  In my life.  Due to this desire to be challenged I tend to challenge others.  Press them for honesty.  Try to break down the wall that so many put up.  Some people are very put off by this.  Others gravitate towards it.  I have had many people unexpectedly tell me their life stories, their deepest secrets, their greatest downfalls.

The very first night I met my husband he told me something extremely personal that he says he never talked about with anyone.   Years later I asked him why.  He still has no idea. In any case, I loved that we were able to connect on that level so quickly. 

Maybe it's because I've always been a button-pusher. A question-asker.  As a young kid I could easily get each of my siblings, in turn, to want to punch me in the face with my annoying button-pushing. {They never did...but there were a lot of close calls.}   I've never been much of a people-pleaser.   You know, keeping it surface-level and withholding my opinion so as not to cause any waves.  I can only stand so much small talk...then it's got to get real. When it comes to relationships,  I love happy people but you can't be happy and "roses and sunshine" all the time...you've got to show me a little darkness.  We all have it.  It is what gives us depth as humans.  If everyone was perfect and had no idiosyncrasies in their personality or heartache in their story what a very, very boring world it would be.  Differences are interesting, and happiness is only that because we have sadness to compare it to.

So the next seven days I will break from my typical "roses and sunshine" posts about cooking and babies and decorating {p.s. all things I genuinely do love} and go a little deeper.  Get more "real."  A little more revealing.
I came across a tumblr.com page {found here} dedicated to challenges. Hundreds of writing prompts, or, at the very least, questions to get you thinking.  I liked this one because it didn't seem too overwhelming or too silly,  and is relatively thought-provoking:
I figure this is a nice way to get back to creative writing and delve a little deeper than my usual posts.
So starting tomorrow things may get real. 
You ready?