Brooke Layout

November 12, 2012

Number 1

So we all know that J-dubs loves sports. He could watch football all day everyday (if I let him). I like sports, but find them much more thrilling in person. Sports on TV are pretty blah for me. I'll watch a game, but it's mostly for the pizza and/or nachos that go along with a Saturday afternoon on the couch. That being said... K-State sports hold a very special place in my heart.

Yes, K-State is my alma mater. I spent four wonderful years of my life there. It is where I got my education and where I became an adult. I will always love Manhattan, KS and a piece of my heart will always be there. I found the artist in me there. I made lifelong friends who stood by me during some very tough times, and my spirituality grew. It is also where I met J-dubs.

We are the classic college romance. We met in the dorms through mutual friends and pretty quickly fell into a regular routine of attending KSU sporting events as part of our courtship. We didn't discriminate.  We went to men's and women's volleyball games, baseball games, but most importantly there was FOOTBALL. We both had season tickets all four years and spent a lot of sunny afternoons cheering on the Cats at Bill Snyder Family Stadium (it wasn't always called that, but we were there when they renamed it). We would show up 6 hours before game time just to rush down the bleachers and get in the front of the student section. Of course, I would always bring a bag full of granola bars and playing cards. I had to make sure no one got hungry or bored while we were waiting. J-dubs sunburned the letters K-S-U into his forehead more than once after painting them onto his forehead and not wearing sunscreen. Imagine a bright red face with a big white K-S-U across the forehead. A-dorable (or A-nnoying... take your pick). We drove all the way to Arizona to watch them play in the Fiesta Bowl. My sister Birdy met J-dubs for the first time at a K-State football game. He, of course, was wearing a purple and white wig, football jersey, and screaming at the top of his lungs. That's what a sister looks for in her baby sister's boyfriend, right?

Since it was so much a part of our romance, K-State football is a big deal to me. It's not just a team or a school, it's classic J-dubs and I. It takes me back to those carefree college days standing in the stadium and holding hands. Feeling those new relationship butterflies on top of game day butterflies. High fiving and hugging when they score, secretly being thankful for the excuse to be close to him. Decking ourselves out head to toe in purple and then walking together to the stadium. Listening to J-dubs sing the fight song and alma mater off key. Trying to Wabash with J-dubs, who can't keep a beat. Later in college J-dubs was up in the press box and I was in the student section. Even then he would find an excuse to leave his spot and come find me during the game.

This year K-State football is on the national radar. We have an amazing team. J-dubs and I have gotten to watch a few games together and have celebrated in our living room by singing the fight song and Wabashing. We've squeezed each other's hands during big plays and hugged during touchdowns. Tonight, I got the amazing joy of being able to wake up my sleeping husband to tell him that our team was number one in the nation. The look of joy on his sleepy, confused face is one I won't soon forget. We giggled like little kids and squeezed each other tight. All of our history with football came back to me and I remembered falling in love with a man and a team at the same time.

Kansas State University Football is undefeated. We are number one. Our team has a chance to go to a national championship. We could win it all... and I'll get the privilege of watching it happen with the guy who I fell in love with during my first KSU football season.

Go Cats!

October 22, 2012

Meal Planning and Keeping Score

Alright, friends. Let's take a break from the heavy posts. Today we're going to talk about a big fight that J-dubs and I had. Yes. Really.

Our marriage is like most marriages...at least I think so... We have both assumed roles based on our specific skill set and talents. For example: J-dubs enjoys mowing and keeping our yard nice is important to him, so he is the primary mower in our house. I enjoy cooking and having good things to eat is important to me, so I am the primary food maker in our house. That is not to say that I never mow or J-dubs never cooks. It's just that our lives have settled into easy patterns based on what is important to us.

Cue fight.

We got in one of those knock down, drag out fights that starts with something seemingly small (what to eat for dinner) and ends up ballooning into something completely unrelated (who does what around the house). I just want to defend us by saying that Manda was SUPER tired that day and it was Friday night and she hadn't been fed and J-dubs had just received a letter in the mail saying there was a warrant for his arrest. That was not going to go well for anyone.

The "discussion" that followed was really eye opening for both of us. We try so hard not to keep score and give ourselves a tally mark for every chore that we do, but we both do it. It's hard for both of us not to feel like we deserve more pats on the back and recognition for our contribution. I guess that means both of us need to get better at being appreciative of the other persons' efforts. Marriage = Learning, folks.

What we discovered was that J-dubs does most of the tangible jobs and I do a lot of intangible things. J-dubs is the lawn mower, the dish washer, the dog feeder, the lunch packer, the practical guy. I am the grocery shopper, the meal planner, the budget watcher, the scheduler, the planning girl. Both jobs are equally important and equally exhausting, but they are very different. As a result of our "discussion", I am going to chip in more around the house with our everyday chores and be more appreciative of the things J-dubs takes care of for our house and he agreed to help me meal plan this month in order to get a better idea of what kind of effort it takes to make sure that our family is fed (including having the supplies for grilled cheese and tater tots on hand for his eating pleasure).

So that's what we did this weekend. J-dubs sat down with me and I walked him through the step by step process that I use to choose our meals for a week or two. This includes sorting through recipes (including the ones I've pinned on Pinterest), keeping a mental record of what food we already have on hand that HAS to be used, planning a meal or two that we like and/or are craving, having a knowledge of what spices and elements I have on hand that won't need to be purchased, being conscious of what budget I have to work with, and keeping track so that we don't end up eating a bunch of Mexican meals in a row. Needless to say, he was overwhelmed and impressed right off the bat. His eyes were opened to the world of my female brain. In the heat of anger I had used the phrase "It's not like the food fairy comes and magically makes sandwich fix-ins appear in the cabinet for you to pack in our lunches!"... which was not so nice, but J-dubs didn't understand (until I explained it to him) just how much effort goes in to making sure we have good food available. I'm sure this is not true for everyone, but it's a complicated process for me. I put a lot of effort into our meals.

He was a great sport and helped me pick a few new recipes to try. He patiently listened to me as I verbalized all of my internal thought processes and explained why I do the things I do and how I formulate a plan for the week. Then he and I went to the store together. It was a great bonding experience and one that really helped him understand how much I care about providing for him in this way. I love being married to J-dubs for so many reasons, but his willingness to learn and change is a true asset. He has never shied away from an opportunity to grow and improve, which has humbled my stubborn heart on many occasions. I know this will not be the last of our chore battles, but at least we learned something... and Marriage = Learning.

And just in case you're wondering, this is what we're having for dinner this week:
Long Boy Burgers
Chicken Tortilla Soup*
Ham and Cheese Bow Ties
Buffalo Chicken Salads (my own recipe... I'll fill you in soon)

*We actually made this yesterday and I didn't think that it tasted so great. It was SWEET. I don't know where I went wrong, but I'm going to have to change something next time. Jay, on the other hand, loved it. He will be in charge of eating all of the leftovers.



October 17, 2012

Generations

We lost my Poppa a few weeks ago. It was expected as he had been sick for quite some time. He was diabetic and in all honesty hadn't taken the best care of himself. But... who can blame him? A life without cake? No thanks.

I expected to be extremely sad, but was surprised at the other feelings that arose. This was my last grandparent. I am officially grandparent-less. I felt this overwhelming sense that the generations had officially shifted. I have been an aunt for a few years now and my mom has been a grandparent for a while, but she was still some one's daughter and I was still some one's granddaughter. Now that the top of the family is gone, we have all officially shifted up. Now my mom and her sibling are the top and my sisters and I are officially the middle. That is so weird to me. I knew it would happen some day, but I guess I thought that the shift would happen when Jay and I had kids.

Ever since I've been alive there have been three generations. Grandparents, parents, and kids. That's how it's supposed to be, right? Now, for me at least, there are just two. I have nephews and nieces, but I have no kids. I have no third generation. I am a middle without a bottom. Why does that feel so wrong? Why does it feel so imbalanced?

I hope and pray that children are in God's plan for us, but can only operate with what we have been given so far. I've learned in my young life that children are not a promise or a guarantee. I've known too many women who have struggled with infertility and loss. More personally, I have a medical condition that will make it more difficult for us to become pregnant. We have no idea what our journey will look like, as we have not yet started, but I'm trying to re-orient my thinking so that I no longer believe that children are a promise that has not yet been fulfilled. I've been forced to wrestle with the idea that we may not have our own biological children.

I firmly believe that God has set the desire in my heart to be a mother. That is all I have ever wanted. While my friends have dreams of climbing the corporate ladder or pursuing big dreams in the city, I have always dreamt of having a house full of children. Preparing big meals for my family to sit around the table and share our day. Watching football games and dance recitals. Cleaning cuts and scrapes. Making crafts and telling stories. Those are the deepest desires of my heart and, quite frankly, where my talents lie. I believe that God has equipped me to be a mother. What that looks like though, I have yet to find out.

With this generational shift and the passing of my Poppa, I have been contemplating my legacy. What will I leave behind at the end of my life? What will the generations of my family look like? Will my dreams be fulfilled? My hope is that no matter what our journey looks like we will have thankful and faithful hearts. That I will accept the blessings we are given, even if they don't look like what I thought they would.

October 15, 2012

Purpose

I'm a terrible blogger. I never remember to do it. I'm constantly remembering that I *should* have blogged this or promising that I *will* blog that. Never. I'm a failure. I only sit down to blog when I've been thinking deep thinks or feeling deep feels. It seems like I am drawn to this place when my heart is heavy or when I have philosophies about life that I want to think through. That is when I am drawn to this spot.

My tendency is to talk. You know me. This is not a revelation. However, I find that I am capable of being most vulnerable and most clear when I write it out. When I sit across the table from someone and feel the pull of my heart urging me to be transparent and to pour out my thoughts, I'm often stopped dead in my tracks when I look into the other person's eyes. I can't tell them *this*. I can't be *so* honest. I can't be *that* open. I can't. They won't understand. They won't hear me. They won't accept me. They won't. I just know it.

And yet...

It is the deepest desire of my heart to share real life with someone. To forge honestly into the future knowing that acceptance and grace will lead the way. To trust that no matter how hard and no matter how difficult, I will not be alone. I will not be rejected. That what I am will not be too much. My heart yearns for acceptance. Maybe it's because I struggle to accept myself. It could be that I feel like I am too much. It might be that I'm just too scared to find out the truth. The truth that I am too much. That no one will understand. That I am alone.

But still...

I hear a deep hope inside my soul whispering to move forward. Push through. Be courageous. I truly believe that real relationships are rooted in openness and vulnerability. That to know someone requires hard work on both sides. It is only when you step outside your comfort zone and choose to trust the unknown that real progress can be made. I don't want superficial friendships that stay on the surface where it is safe. I want relationships that challenge me to be better and push me towards knowing myself better. I want deep, meaningful, heartfelt conversation that inspires me to become someone who I can be proud of.

This is my goal. To be courageous. To move towards this kind of relationship and trust that it can be done. My hope is that my vulnerability will inspire truer friendship and a more meaningful existence. I want to learn first hand what it means to show grace to others in my day to day life so that I may find the strength to show grace to myself.

This is my invitation to you: come along with me on this journey. Allow me to share with you my struggles and my fears. Let me be vulnerable here. Help me find the courage not to shy away from being transparent. Encourage me to believe that this place is safe.

I will still share my day to day life and recipes I love, but I will no longer shut down my deeper desire to share my heart with you. I cannot allow my fears to follow me here. Step one begins with believing that I am drawn to this place for a reason. That what I need to say and feel has a place to go. Even if no one reads it or agrees with it, at least I will have had the courage to write it.

August 01, 2012

Chock-Full-A Controversy

We're all friends here. So let me start off by saying that I'm not going to debate about gay marriage. I'm also not going to tell you which side I stand on or what political party I affiliate myself with.

What I am going to do is try to explain why I find the controversy surrounding a certain chicken restaurant so culturally fascinating. I'm a student of the world. I try to remove my personal beliefs from the furor surrounding controversy and try to examine the "why" of what's going on. Why are people reacting the way they are? Why is this news? Why now?

It has never been a secret that these chicken nuggets are the product of a company with conservative beliefs. If you've ever stepped foot in one of the restaurants you've heard Christian worship music. If you've ever craved a chick-n-mini on a Sunday morning, you know that they close for the Sabbath. Is it so surprising that a high ranking official in this company has conservative Christian beliefs? Is this news? I would argue that we are more surprised because we are not used to CEOs being so bold as to voice controversial beliefs in a public forum. We're shocked by that behavior. Similar shock reverberated across the Christian community when Target refused to allow Salvation Army on their premises during Christmas. As a culture, we do not like it when businesses have opinions and I would go so far as to say that we would tolerate their opinions if they would only keep them to themselves. Why is that? I find that so intriguing. It stems from neither agreeing or disagreeing with their right to say it. I just find it culturally stimulating.

I recently read an article called "In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A". While the author is writing from the Christian conservative perspective, he brings up some interesting cultural points. I'd recommend reading his article. Even if you disagree with his stance on the company's beliefs or policies, you could take something away from his article. You'll find it here.

I'm not interested in publicly debating political or religious beliefs, but what I do find fascinating is the responses from both sides. I thought this article brought up an interesting point in calling it "boycott culture". I had never thought of it that way. That the boycott itself is part of a larger group mentality. You can easily call it "support day culture" to acknowledge both sides. I would never ask someone to do business with a company that they disagreed with, but I do find it interesting that we think it's normal or even commendable to refuse to do business with people who have different beliefs than our own. If we coninue to spiral down this staircase, we will soon only be doing business with ourselves. It will be a sort of financial segregation. A reverse back to times where you can only appreciate things that are just like you. I've been through my more conservative times and my more liberal times, but as I mature I'm realizing that it's much more productive to learn to co-exsist with people you disagree with. Afterall, it's more likely that you'll spend your whole life surrounded by people who disagree with you on something. Now, all of that being said, I feel like everyone has a right to go or not go to C-f-A. Spend your dollars where you see fit. Personally, I don't go to C-f-A very often because we don't have a large "eating out" budget and it's not so good for my girlish figure.

I'm challenging myself to learn to debate hot topics without reverting to accusations or bullying. A challenge that will include learning to express my beliefs without feeling the need to belittle the opposition. We've all experienced someone arguing for tolerance while openly speaking hateful or hurtful things. I find those people the most frustrating of all (and I've met some from both sides). I will move forward believing that the way to a brighter future is through understanding. While I don't have to agree with you, I can at least understand you and together we can go to eat Mexican food. Cause who really wants a chicken sandwich when you can have a taco. Am I right? 

July 29, 2012

Not Your Average Cupcake

Alright friends, this foodie post can't wait til Friday. It's that good. J-dubs could not stop raving about it the entire time we were eating and even high-fived me at the dinner table. Are you ready? Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes. Bam. We're big on sack lunches in this family, so I love a dinner that is cheap and can be stretched for multiple days. Individual servings? Even better.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and am so glad I re-pinned it. The original link is here.

This is the result:

Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? Pleasing to the eye and the tummy.

Two was enough for me and J-dubs ate three. He thoroughly enjoyed himself, but I have to admit that he was in a little bit of pain after they all settled in for the night. 

Now, I didn't have any "Herbs de Provence" so I used some sage, Italian seasoning, and basil. I also added a little bit of milk. I was afraid it would get too dry. It was a pretty fantastic recipe, but these are the changes I will make next time:
-  Garlic powder instead of garlic salt and low sodium cream of chicken soup. It was a bit salty for me.
- More chicken. This girl needs a healthy serving of protein.
- I used mostly buttermilk biscuits and a couple of "flaky layers". I only tried the buttermilk, but Jay tried both and he preferred the flaky layers. I'd go with your favorite biscuit. (Also, the recipe calls for 10 biscuits, but you can definitely get 12 out of it. Have extras on hand so the filling doesn't go to waste)
- Add some pepper to the mix. How could I have forgotten that? Rookie mistake.
- Put more filling in the cupcakes. I was worried they would overflow, so I erred on the side of caution. Next time I'll pump them up a bit more because they definitely settle once they cool. 

  Enjoy these beauties! I know I did!

July 28, 2012

Of rings and things

The summer Olympic games have officially started and so has my snarky commentary. I have many thoughts about the opening ceremonies, so I'll do my best to keep my opinions short-ish.

1) First off, let's just say that the meadow was beautiful. That pastoral scene with the giant tree was breathtaking. Two thumbs up to the set designer on that one.

2) Why in the world were there a bazillion people wandering around? No matter what part of the show we were at, there were large crowds of people everywhere. WHY? Personally I would have preferred a less cluttered English countryside, but maybe that's what the English countryside looked like and I'm just an ig'nant 'Merican. It's happened before.

3) Do they not have any sense of urgency? I mean, it's Friday night. Most people aren't rushing off to emergency meetings, but that doesn't mean I want to spend 30 minutes watching English peasants drag around AstroTurf. Let's get some hitch in that giddy up. I would have been much more impressed if things would have moved along at a quicker pace.

4) What was with that freaky nightmare scene? Those crawling monkey creatures with the neon eyes??? Really??? Does that foster the Olympic spirit? Cause it almost fostered the pee out of me.

5) I did really like the part where the glow in the dark butterflies rode around on bicycles. Those were pretty. I could have watched a 30 minute performance of some synchronized butterflyin'. That would have been something to marvel at. And then the E.T. butterfly bicycle? COOL.

6) Thank goodness the athletes know how to move. That parade of nations was quick! Well done international athletes, well done.

7) Let's all be thankful that I do not have supernatural powers, because if I did I would have reached through the TV and strangled the NBC commentators. In the words of J-dubs "LET IT BREATHE". Do you really have to talk con-stant-ly? Can you not just be quiet for two seconds and let us enjoy the spectacle of the giant baby? Just. Shut. Up. (This goes for the sporting events I've seen so far as well. The theme of jabbering seems to be what NBC is sticking with)

8) Seriously, giant baby? Wtf.

9) The torch was pretty cool. Each angelic little English kid carrying those copper petals and then putting them all together to form the torch was my favorite part. I really enjoyed the camera shot from inside the torch looking up at each individual tube/petal. The torch guy should get a high five today.

10) Lastly, the "independent Olympic athletes" by far stole the show. Those three kids were having the time of their lives. I wanted to watch an entire 4 hour parade of them! I have no idea who they are or what sport they compete in, but I would guess that their pastimes include being awesome, killer dance moves, and not giving a rat's patootie about behaving while on national television. I want to be friends with them. I want to invite them over for drinks. And nachos. I bet they love nachos.

Ok, this blog post is almost as long as the opening ceremonies. Time to end it. In conclusion I'd like to say "USA! USA! USA!".

July 27, 2012

Foodie Friday

Maybe I'll have one of those blogs with theme days... we'll see. For today though, it's Foodie Friday.

Last night I tried a new way of making a baked potato and it was YUM-O. I've been trying to find ways to cut a few calorie corners in our house, without making the Mr. feel like he's missing out. So when I saw this recipe, I knew we had to try it. Now I'm fully aware that it is NOT healthy and that butter, salt, and oil are not diet foods. However, when you eat a baked potato with sour cream, butter, cheese, and bacon like we do, this is a slightly lighter version.

It's called a "hasselback potato" and from what I can find, it's a Swedish cooking technique. What I liked about the recipe that I used was that it was simple and easy to adjust to my tastes. I see lots of possibilities for variations!

The recipe I "followed" was here.

Now, I only made one potato for J-dubs and I to split because I'm not too sure that these will reheat well, so I just eye-balled the amount of "i can't believe it's not butter" and oil. Also, I used pre-minced garlic instead of sliced and I had to cook mine at a lower temp because it was baking alongside some tasty chicken. I also decided to take the potato out halfway through cooking time and use a spoon to re-drizzle the oil/butter over the spud because it had pooled in the bottom of the pan. BUT, other than all of that... I followed the recipe. Hah. My potato wasn't exactly as crispy as I would have like, but it's the chicken's fault. What a jerk. (that would have been a much better joke if i was making jerk chicken, but I wasn't).

This potato was ah-mazing. We added no extra salt or butter and it was super tasty. J-dubs was wishing he had his own and didn't have to share. Too bad, so sad buddy. There was no way I was missing out on that deliciousness.

So, if you're looking for a new way to cook up a good spud, I give this recipe two thumbs up.

July 26, 2012

Something to Ponder

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel." - I really should have paid attention to who said that...

Regardless, it's a quote that made me go "hmmmmm". I think this statement is pretty true. I know I forget that we all go home to our own dirty laundry. What would it look like if we could see everyone's behind-the-scenes. Or maybe it would be more impactful to be able to judge ourselves by our own highlight reel.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. Agree? Disagree? Don't care?

July 22, 2012

Greener Pastures

I went to get my hair cut a few weeks ago, which happens to be one of my favorite activities. I would get a haircut every week if I could afford it. I'm currently growing my hair out in order to donate it, so I'm limited to seeing my hairdresser about once every 4-6 months. NOT my idea of fun... but I digress...

When I sat down in her chair we were beginning to chat about life and catch up on the past 5 months (sigh) and as she was talking I began daydreaming about how wonderful it would be if my hair would do what her hair was doing. It was beautifully tousled and had this great shape. It was voluminous, but not frizzy. It was wavy, but controlled. About the time that I started feeling self conscious for staring at her, she started to play with my hair as we discussed what I wanted her to do. Then, from out of nowhere, she says "I wish my hair would do what your hair does". Um, WHAT? After the initial shock wore off, I explained to her that I was just dreaming about having her lovely style. We kind of stared at each other and laughed for a few seconds before going back to idle chit chat, but that moment hasn't left me.

In that moment I realized that it could be very possible that while you're coveting someones lovely button nose, they are in turn coveting your long sloping nose. While I'm aware that envy is a very real thing, I guess it never crossed my mind that it could pass between two people who were wishing for the identical thing on the other person. Don't get me wrong, I'm a girl, so I've spent many an afternoon at work having that conversation where you're saying "I wish I had your wavy hair" and they're saying "I wish I had your straight hair". Everyone knows that you always want what you don't have. That's not revolutionary.

What became revolutionary in my mind is that it just might be possible that we're all walking around wishing away the qualities about ourselves that someone else is wishing for.

It reminded me of a time in high school when I confessed to my best friend that I was so envious of her. I wanted her athletic ability and thick beautiful hair (hair is a theme of envy in my life). She was taken aback and confessed that in reality she had been similarly envious of me. It was another WHAT? moment. How could someone so cool want to be me?

This is what I'm learning as an adult: the grass only looks greener on the other side because you're looking at your own grass through cheap gas station sunglasses. We view ourselves with a blurry filter of self loathing and discontent, but when we look at our friends (or even strangers) we take that filter off. Why? I'm not sure. Maybe it's because we love our friends and only want to think the best of them. Maybe it's because we don't spend hours looking at our friends in the mirror and scrutinizing their every feature. Maybe it's just easier to believe good things about other people.

There is a part of me that believes that if we would all be honest with each other and speak openly about the things we admire in other people, we would collectively lift ourselves up. We could begin to form a more complete view of ourselves based on the feedback of our peers.

However, what I'm hoping for is the ability to assume that people think the best of me and therefore begin to think the best of myself. Instead of sitting and wishing away my every physical quality, I want to be able to be content with what I was given. After all, the very thing I'm wishing away could be someones favorite thing about me. See? Revolutionary.

July 21, 2012

Summer

I have always been a winter girl. I love scarfs, coats, layering, and snuggles. Is there anything better than a cold winter's night where you get into bed underneath a huge fluffy comforter and cuddle with your sweetie? I submit that there is not! (Especially if you have a belly full of comfort food and hot chocolate). I love watching snow fall and I get particularly excited when there is enough on the ground to go sledding or have a snowball fight. I have wonderful memories of moon-light walks through the snow with J-dubs in college. On one super romantic night we walked all the way to the old football stadium and ended up dancing in the snow. Are you rolling your eyes and barfing a little? We are particularly cringe inducing at times. Let's move on...

In recent years I have learned to have an appreciation for summer. It's still not my favorite time of year, but we have come to an understanding. I like watching my garden grow and the smell of something delicious on the grill. I enjoy a trip to the lake and I happen to be a champion camper. I can make an impressive meal on a camp stove and our s'mores are always made with PB cups instead of plain chocolate. Try it. You're welcome.

The thing I hate about summer is that it often feels like summer is out to get me. Last summer, after an incredibly fun camping trip, we found out that Manda happens to be super allergic to poison ivy and subsequently breaks out into an additional rash when given medicine to treat it. I would rather stay home forever than experience that again. Meanwhile, anytime I step outside our door it becomes open season for mosquitos on Manda's skin. Ten minutes outside sans bug repellant and I look like I have the chicken pox. (The only upside for you is that if you are with me when I'm outside, you wont get bit. Ever.) My pale white skin needs layer upon layer of sunscreen in order to not be angry and cripsy. Let's also not forget that summer's uniform requires us all to squeeze into bathing suits, shorts, and tank tops, none of which are a curvy girl's friend. Am I right?

In conclusion:
Summer means so many layers of bug spray and sunscreen that every dirt particle in the wind sticks to me, I break out into gross rashes, I'm squeezed into something inappropriately tight, AND on top of that mental image I'm sweating. Try to sleep tonight with that image floating around in your brain.

Can you blame me for looking forward to the gentle hug of winter?

July 18, 2012

A home of her own

In recent times, our ridgeback has learned this new trick.



So we've been formulating plans in order to curb this behavior. We've had lots of suggestions and have come to the conclusion that the solution has to be a combination of things.

Step One: figure out WHY Daphne feels the need to jump.  
Answer? She's scared. (We were able to confirm this theory by sending J-dubs into the front yard with fireworks) She will spend all day in the yard until something makes a loud noise and then it's adios backyard, hello freedom!
Solution? Make Daphne feel safe.

Ok, how do you make a dog feel safe? You give her somewhere safe to hide, of course! Brilliant! We have one doghouse sitting in the corner of the yard unused, but never felt the need to train the dogs to use it. I mean, they dug themselves a nice dirt pit to hang out in, and we were always able to keep them inside when it rained. Mistake made. In my defense, how do you train two dogs to use one dog house? Right? Right?

Unfortunately, the Dillons are financially burdened right now due to numerous unfortunate life events (see previous post) and are unable to purchase a second doghouse. I talked to my sister, like I always do when life gets complicated, and told her about my theories and about how our plan was to work on training two dogs to feel safe with ONE dog house until we could afford to buy a second one. I'm sure dogs have the ability to understand the complex concept of sharing.  

Fast forward a few days. I come home from work and there on my porch is a big box. The picture on the front? A beautiful dog house. I know what you're thinking, and you're right. My sister is AWESOME. She and Whatahusband had sent us a doghouse! J-dubs and I ate dinner as fast as we could and scrambled outside to start building.

Tools + Box = Mess

Mess + Effort = DOG HOUSE

Happiness is a surprise from your sister.

We introduced Daphne to her new Outback Cottage. She was less thrilled than we were, but after lots of coaxing (and maybe a little pushing) she was in!

And we can't leave out her brother, OP, who had no trouble conquering his hand-me-down doghouse.

It's going to take lots of training and time, but I have faith that Daphne will learn to love her cottage.

Stay tuned for "Step Two: create an impenetrable force-field like barrier in order to give Daphne no choice but to run to her cottage to hide because even though it's scary, it's slightly less scary than the force-field". Wish us luck.

This post is brought to you by my wonderful sister, without whom my life would be incomplete. She is my best friend, my confidant, and my trusted adviser. Lofa. 

July 15, 2012

Times, they are a-changin'

My supervisor recently sent out an email with that title. It immediately made my heart stop. My first thought was "more change??? really?". Thankfully, the email was an announcement regarding my new position at work (which is a positive change hopefully), but the phrase has stuck with me for days...

After a recent string of horrible luck following close behind a difficult season in life, I am done with change. It seems as if I'm continually walking on quicksand. What new thing will break today? What new pain awaits around the next corner? When will the floor drop out from underneath me? I'm continually waiting for the next bad thing and they just keep coming.

While I am thankful for our many blessings I cannot keep my heart from feeling like I am owed more. I'm feeling like my blessing card is scheduled to be punched and this punch is LATE.

I finally felt like life was going well. I felt comfortable and confident in my friendships. I was proud of my work and sure that I was integral to the work environment. My family was as stable as it could be. My marriage was happy and healthy.

Then friends began to journey through change and loss. My support system needed to be supported. I gladly jumped in and began cheering for job interviews and scheduling lunch dates. I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to be an important part of their lives. I didn't want to get left out.

Then my job changed unexpectedly. I was thrown into a dysfunctional situation, but persevered thinking that this new challenge would teach me to grow. I was hopeful that I would be stretched and be able to use this time to work on some of my less than favorable personality quirks.  I wanted to be recognized.

Then my family began to transition. We've faced sickness and uncertainty. We no longer function as a unit, but as individuals. So many family members are going through big life change. I have tried to hop on board and be supportive. I decided to figure out my new role in their changing lives. I didn't want to get left behind.

Then our healthy home began to fall apart. Progress we had made toward financial stability got set back. Things kept breaking or running away and hopes of starting a family soon were pushed back. Our relationship became one of co-workers and warriors. It was us against the destruction and we were losing. I wanted to be supported.

Things got messy. There have been tears most days and little to laugh about. I am carrying sorrow over many things. I've felt unimportant, overlooked, left behind, and unsupported. I feel defeated.

I keep looking at Jay and saying "I'm done. I've had enough."

I'm battling feeling terribly sad and alternately feeling guilty that I feel terribly sad. I know I'm not enjoyable to be around and I feel myself beginning to pull away, but I can't stop it. This is when the insecurity rears its ugly head and I begin to believe that I have no value. That my presence at work and in the lives of others makes no difference. While I know I'm being selfish and self-centered, the emotion will not leave. I keep telling myself that they are just lies. That my friends and family do care. That the blessings will cycle back around.

So I continue to wait. I'm waiting for this season of life to end. I'm waiting on the promise of change and hoping for good things. I'm hopeful that my friends and family will be blessed, as my heart hurts deeply for many of them. Mostly... I'm waiting on my heart to mature. I want to be the kind of woman who is able pour unending love and time into others and more importantly to do so without the insecure need to have it reciprocated or appreciated. I want to be able to face the challenges of life without falling apart. I want to be a blessing to others and not a burden. I want to feel deeply loved and valued.

After all, as much as I dread it, times they are a-changin' and so I will hope that I will be a-changin' too.