Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Chase

I wonder how many hours and tears and thousands of dollars I have spent in the pursuit of beauty.  

A lot of days (maybe... almost, most days) I feel like I keep my beauty cravings in check, but then a day like today comes along and I am reminded of the true state of my heart. 

Today was haircut day.  I intended to just look at a few pictures of styles before I went to my appointment, but before I realized what I was doing, I had spent an hour looking at pictures of Victoria Beckham's beautiful hair AND perfect face AND sculpted body and losing every ounce of confidence I've ever had, all the while forming a list of the items I simply must acquire to up my beauty quotient - none of which I actually need. Why do I so easily buy into the culture of beauty when I know it is not what I want? (actually, I really do want to be beautiful... just not in that worldly, expensive way)

The hope of coming home more lovely than I left is always there on haircut day. Sometimes I cry when I realize that a trim didn't change the scale or shrink my nose or give me more money to buy all of the high-fashion accessories that I crave. Sometimes I keep my head and heart straight and just go about the business of getting my hair cut.  And every so often I am able to be totally pleased with me, just the way I am. 

Today my hair turned out fine... but not like the picture of Posh (ya think?!).  I confess that left me disappointed.  Silly girl that I am.  Maybe one day I won't be won over by that foolish hope and cruel disappointment, but today, again, I was.

But here's the crux: 

I serve a creative God.  He thought of and executed everything beautiful on this planet.  I firmly believe that my love of beauty starts as something holy, delight in what He has crafted and designed, but it quickly becomes distorted, misplaced and cheap.  Instead of being in awe of HIM, the creator, I identify the creation and admire, verging on worship, it.  I want it to be the other way around.  I want to be transformed by the creator, not transfixed by the creation.

Oh Lord, please forgive me.  Change my heart.  Give me a new measure of beauty.  Make me aware of what influences me and what I allow to speak into my heart. Strengthen me to live in a way that admires beauty, but is not consumed by it. Thank you for your faithfulness.  And thank you for all things beautiful.

Sunday, September 21, 2008




(Thanks for the word MEH Rosemary.  It will come in handy often, I can see that.)

I am pretty impressed with how many people show up as "people you might know" that I actually DO know, but I'm not really sure what to do now that I have a Facebook profile.  

What's the  point?

In other news, I was struck today by the fact that every compartment of my purse has at least one lip product in it.  I have a total of seven.  I'm sure that compared to some people, that is not a lot, but I was kind of amazed at the discovery.  Especially when I found myself justifying every one.

Burt's Bees Honey Lip Balm I need this one for when I can't find any of the ones that I really like.  It smells strongly of baby powder so I can only wear it when I know I won't be kissing Andy. Who wants to feel like they are kissing a baby's bottom?  I actually can't wear it around anybody it smells so weird.  I put it on one time in the car while I was riding with a friend and as soon as I put it on she said, "Do you smell that?  What is it?!" in a grossed out sort of voice. I had to suggest that it might just possibly be my "just in case" lip balm, which it was.  Okay, so maybe it is time to get rid of this one.

Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with pomegranate oil My FAVORITE.  It smells so nice and makes my lips feel so smooth and fresh.  My best kissing option.  

Goldie Lip Plumper  Okay, this is my other favorite.  I put it on over any color I use and my lips look like I should be a lip model.  After a fresh application Andy says, "Ooh, your lips look all kissable!"  but they aren't really because it is a little sticky and leaves that tingling sensation that means my lips are being plumped. Good for girls, not for boys.

C.O. Bigelow Vitamin Menta Tinted Lip Balm in Glacial Mint AND Baby Pink Mint (I also have Brown Betty Mint in my make up bag in the bathroom) This is my favorite color to have on hand.  It keeps my lips from looking pale, as they are apt to do, but its best feature is that it is super minty, so if my mouth feels funky and I'm out of gum, this at least covers the bad breath long enough to get to a tooth brush or drug store. 

Liplicious Tasty Lip Plumper in Candied Apple  This was the color I used before Baby Pink Mint.  Now that I have that, it seems redundant to keep it in my purse.  It's plumping powers pale in comparison to my Goldie and the color is only so so.  I guess this is where we part ways Liplicous. 

Garden Botanica lipstick in Sweet Joe The color standby.  I'll keep this one on hand because it also doubles as a little cheek color if I need it, which I always always do.  Poor pale me.

So anyway, now that you are up to speed on my lips, how 'bout that Facebook?  Lame, eh?  Or do I just not know it's connective powers?  Will I ever be as interested in FB as I am in lip gloss? I suppose only time will tell.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Grass is Greener

I miss having co-workers.

Don't misunderstand me.  I am SO thankful to be able to focus my energy on my family and not have to divide my attention between a profession, or even "just" a job, and the boys I love best.  I know being a "stay at home mom" is a coveted position and I do my best to not take it for granted. However, there are a few aspects of having a real (as in paid, with set hours and a specific location in which to do your work) job that I am coveting this morning:

1. COWORKERS: Mal, Christy, Marli... I miss you!  When I worked, there was always someone to talk to, to bounce ideas off of, to laugh with... now to have those relational moments I have to be very intentional.  The fact is, most of the United States is busy.  To schedule time with people involves two or three phone calls/text messages/e-mails and the examination of several calendars.  So much simpler to just walk down a cubical or two and say high or share some tea with a comrade. 

2. HAVING A BOSS:  A boss tells you what to do.  If he's a good boss, expectations are clear and you know what you are responsible for.  Motherhood is pretty much a guessing game for me.  There is lots of advice out there, but nobody is laying out the plan... that's my job now.  Man!  It takes so much mental energy.  There are days when I just wish that someone would tell me what to do and save me the effort!

3. PROJECTS WITH A DEFINED END: I miss the satisfaction of knowing that I have accomplished something.  There is instant gratification in saying, "Yes!  That task is done! For good!  And done well!"  There is no end, finish, time off or checked box for being a wife and mom.  

4. FEEDBACK: Jack really isn't at the stage yet where he can say, "Wow.  You're a great mom.  You are really instilling strong values in me and teaching me how to one day be a happy, successful adult.  Thanks mom!"  At work, if you do a job well, you usually hear at least a "thank you." But at this point in my life I have to keep doing my best with little feedback or affirmation.

Friends, this whole motherhood gig is hard work.  With the strength that God provides, I will face the challenge, but I have to accept the fact that life is full of choices.  To follow one dream you often give up another.  Luckily I am pursuing this dream with a dear husband and delightful family and friends.  There may not be the instant praise that I crave or the simplicity of executing someone else's plan, but there is the sweet satisfaction of know that I am where I need to be for this moment and that there is grace for each day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dreams Really Do Come True

First things first, let me just exclaim again that I must have one of the world's most amazing babies!  Truly! 

When I get him up in the morning, after a few minutes of cuddling and feeding, I take him to his changing station, which happens to be in our living room, on the floor.  I change his diaper and we make goo goo faces at each other and I tickle is tummy.  Then, he really loves it if I just leave him there.  

He rolls himself over and explores his own little corner of the house.  I usually stash a few toys in the vicinity for him to find.  He turns in circles and rolls around and occupies himself for a good 15 minutes while I brush my teeth, make some coffee, or blog!  

What a baby!

In addition to a dream baby, I have had a couple of exciting moments in the past few days.  

I'm thrilled, because fall has finally settled into my heart.  Our days are still warm and more beautiful than anything we had this summer, but the mornings are foggy and cool.  I ran out to my car this weekend with bare feet and found the pavement cool and delightful.  Not only that, I could see my breath!  Happy Sigh.  I love you fall.

Another reason I'm excited that fall is here?  My new fall jacket!!!!!!!!!! (that is 10 exclamation points! ) Ladies, it is lovely.  It was also expensive.  In general, I'm a cheepy when it comes to buying clothes.  I shop at Kohl's, Target, T.J. Max and the clearance racks.  I'm okay with that.  I'm even a little proud of it.  

But on Sunday Andy took Jack for the day (which was wonderful in itself) and I went shopping with my sister. We were blessed with a little extra money this month and Andy and I decided that we could both have a little "treat" for being so diligent and frugal the last few months. Lizzie and I were hunting for shoes (I am notorious for only wearing flip flops and I'm working hard to acquire suitable cool weather alternatives) but spied some lush looking jackets in a window and went in to have a closer look.


I tried on an orange tweed one first and was immediately in love with it.  Unfortunately the price tag was quite a bit more than I had planned on spending.  We continued to walk around the store while I clutched the coat, refusing to set it down, even though I was fully aware that I wouldn't walk out of the store with it.  I think I tried it on about four times in a half hour.  

So in one hand I had the fabulous orange.  A few minutes later I spied a bright green jacket.  A little more appropriate for winter, and... on sale!  So I tried on the green.  It was lovely, but it just didn't have the WOW that the orange did.  

So I continued to carry both around, weighing my options.  In one hand: a jacket that is so "me" it makes me want to cry, but that will probably only be warm enough for the fall and that is more money than I want to spend... but I LOVE it.  In the other hand: a jacket that I really, really like, that will make it through fall and winter and that is right in my price range.  But isn't the orange jacket.  Hmmm....

So I asked the sales associate to put them both on hold while I took a walk and thought about it.  

Eventually, practicality won over vanity (but just barely).  As I purchased the green jacket I did one of those prayers.  You know, the one where you say, "God, if you felt like it, and you decided to give me extra money, some how, some way, for some reason, if you did, could I please come back and get the other coat?"  It is like praying for your sports team to win, or praying that you pass a test in school.  You know that in the scheme of life, it really is very minor, but you can't stop yourself from praying anyway.  

So I went home, fully content with my purchase.

Then, yesterday Andy was looking through some medical bills that we had.  Most of our "extra money" this month was going to be for paying those bills.  As he was getting ready to write the checks he was commenting on how silly some of the charges were.  So with great resolution he said, "I'm going to go talk to them in person.  These are just ridiculous!" And he did.

Within the hour he sent me a text message.  Our bills that were over a $1000 were reduced to less than $300!!!  Way to go Andy!  My hero!

You can guess my first thought.

Last night we went back to the store and now I have both jackets!!!  Very happy sigh.  Thanks God!

I thought about having Andy take a picture of me in the jackets last night, so I could show you how fabulous they are, but I decided that he might have had enough of my raving and dancing and cheering about the jacket.  I'll save that request for another day.


Since I spent so long talking about my new fall clothing, I'll have to be quick with my final wonder-moment.  I'm sure I'll expound later, so I feel safe in summing it up.  If all goes as planned (which I know it doesn't always) I will meet CLINTON KELLY!

In November my mom and I are going to a fall-fashion preview he is doing at Macy's.  I can't wait!  Oh Clinton Kelly.  I'm so glad you are gay because otherwise I don't think my fondness for you would be appropriate. This way, we can just be friends.  I really hope you like my new coat.  

Contented sigh.  I am one lucky girl.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does Anybody Know?

I'm trying to do my part and be a little more eco-conscious.  Aren't we all?

Now that Jack is making a mess of his face a few times a day I'm working hard to use a washcloth to wipe the gunk off, instead of paper towels. But here's the thing.  Washcloths stink.  They do.  

I use one once, hang it flat to dry, and the next time I go to use it it smells so gross! GROSS!  The stink sticks to my hands and every surface it comes in contact with.  Let me say it again, GROSS!

So, what's the deal?  Am I washcloth challenged? Am I doing something wrong?  Or do you just have to pay the price of stinky... everything... in order to save the planet?  

Help me please, someone help me.  

Annie, I have high hopes that you have the answer to this one. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Baby Blues

I made a very important discovery this evening.

The intense color of purred butternut squash really brings out the blue of Jack's eyes.

That's it.  That's all I've got today.

But since we're talking about Jack's eating habits, I might as well innumerate on his growing menu options.  He now eats: green beans, peas, broccoli (only once - it made him really tooty and uncomfortable), sweet potatoes and butternut squash.  

The next foods to try are: avocado and carrots.  After those I think we'll try some fruit!

For a while the sweet potatoes were his favorite, but he tried peas the other day and seemed pretty amazed by them.  They might be his new vegetable of choice, I'll keep you posted.

So far I've been making all of his food.  I have to tell you, it is so, SO simple and makes me feel really...fancy. I really, truly am considering selling it to moms who wish they gave their baby homemade food, but for whatever reason can't.  So if you know a mom, or are a mom, who wants some, let me know.  I'll just whip up a double batch!

Okay, I told you.  Matching food colors to Jack's eyes is the best I've got for tonight.  Thanks for indulging me. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A successful party

I'm trying to ignore the scattered glasses and plates that cover every available surface in my living space.  It is impossible.  They are everywhere!  EVERYWHERE!

Just a few short hours ago my house was clean and I had a beautiful spread of appetizers and sparkling drinks adorning my dining room table.  No more.  In the wake of a bride to be and her entourage there is just chaos.  And me to tame it.  

I'm not very good at house chaos.  I just don't care enough.  On the list of all the things that could vie for my attention each day, a clean house is just not near enough to the top to make the cut.  

That is probably why I really don't enjoy the prep for parties.  I hate noticing all the dust and mystery fuzz that has made its home in the corners of my house.  In my normal, everyday life I just ignore it, but a few days before guests are due to arrive, suddenly my abode appears filthy.  Filthy!  As in, "I really let my innocent child scoot around on this floor?"

However, I do enjoy celebrating, and to be 100% truthful, I sometimes like to show off.  Gasp.  Yes, it is true.  Since my stellar spread has been devoured and my party drinks have been drunk and all that is left is for me to dive into the aftermath, let's just pause and review the few moments of gastronomic glory that I had a hand in creating.

Recipes available on request *wink*

The Drinks
At the groom's request, this was a Mocktail party (I wanted to do fun drinks, he asked for them sans-alcohol).  And boy were the bevies good!  

A virgin mojito, a hibiscus spritzer, a sweet blend of peach nectar and sparkling cider (the crowd fav) and sparkling ginger lemonade.  

Tasty Bites

Crusty bread topped with honey goat cheese, seasoned nuts, bruschetta, baked ravioli, and my personal pride and joy, finger salads: 

Yes, you are actually looking at bit-sized pieces of lettuce lovingly wrapped around a cucumber spear and shaved carrots, tied with a sliver of green onion and drizzled with sesame ginger dressing. Yes.  That is what you are seeing.

I'll let your eye linger on the beautiful salads for one moment longer...

Okay, now I must bid farewell to this reminiscing and set in on the job before me.  I at least want to look like I've been working while Andy has been away.  And since I'm pretty sure it is only girls who read this I feel safe in confessing that I'll be cleaning in my underwear... just to make sure he doesn't notice the mess first.  *smile*  It's great being a girl.  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Good Tidings or Fall Is Here: Part I

Yesterday I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte (two actually, but I was REALLY excited).

I also wore a scarf (which I had to remove because it is still too warm) to a high school football game (Who rocks the house?  The Panthers rock the house!).

So you do know what that means?  Pumpkin Spice + Scarf + Football = FALL!!!

It's here!  It's here! *Little prancing circular dance to commence after I press "publish post"*


Friday, September 5, 2008


A few days ago I met some pre-baby friends for lunch.  Of the four of us I was the only mom with a baby in tow (I think they are all moms in their heart, but just without the baby yet).  As the meal drew to a close Jack started to fuss.  Personal and significant stories were shared and as much as I wanted to support and tend to my friends, Jack's cries were louder than theirs.

I left the restaurant feeling discouraged and "out of commission." In the past two years, my life has completely up-ended.  I've gone from being happily single, to happily married, to happily caring for a family.  Each addition to my life has been full of joy, frustration, acknowledgements of my shortcomings and all the things that come with significant relationships and changes.  Each transition has also transformed my perspective and what I think of as my "reach."

As a single woman I had time, money and energy to share.  Those things are still there, but as a wife and mom my first priority is to share those things with my husband and baby. What remains is what I have to give and some days it feels like so much less than what I would wish.

But here is the conclusion I've reached.  It is okay.  It is okay to mourn the loss of what I was once able to do.  It is okay to be family-centered.  It is okay to say "no" once in a while. 

What I don't want is to fall into the trap that says that I'm not as good as I once was.  It is so dangerous for me to look back at a different season and say one was better than the other.  God has given me a wonderful life that I LOVE, how ungrateful of me to say, "Why thank you God, but are you sure this is as good as what I used to do?  Are you sure I am as usable or as interesting, or as ... whatever?"

I trust that I am where I need to be.  I am thankful and amazed.  I am making time and space to listen to God's promptings and practicing discipline in prayer and study.  I'm learning to trust that He is good and faithful.  

And seriously, how could anyone regret trading singlehood for this...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If You've Ever Wanted to be Fancy

What I really wanted to write today was an ode to Fall On Its Way, but to be perfectly honest, the autumnal feelings haven't hit in full force.  So I will save my emoting about the smells of cinnamon and clove and the perfect orange of pumpkins until the mood is just right.  I refuse to risk under-exclaiming about the most glorious of seasons.  

However, there is another topic that is near and dear to my heart and that I believe warrants reflection:  Fancyness.

I first discovered the power of "fancy" when I was spending my days with two tiny British dolls.  Olivia and Lauren, age one and two.  Anything that inspired awe, was lovely to see, smell or feel, any object or person that was better than good... received an exclamation of "FANCY!"  

Upon returning to The States I kept the word as an active part of my life and vocabulary.  An all-encompassing declaration of, "I love it!"  I have considered it not my own treasure, but have accepted the mission of sowing seeds of fancy and watching them bloom, bringing beauty, laughter, gentle teasing, and delight to the most ordinary of days.

You too can embrace the fancy lifestyle.  I am here to help.  Follow these simple tips and you too will soon be declaring, "How Fancy!"

#1: Believe it!  Fancy is a mindset.  Look at yourself in the morning and say, with conviction, "I am fancy!  I am fabulous!"  Don't be surprised if after a few days you start walking with a little extra swish.  Here comes fancy!

#2: Accessorize!  Fancy is all about making the ordinary special.  Take a white tee-shirt and a pair of jeans.  Alone, the combination is a little timid.  But add a dash of "something extra" - perhaps a turquoise beaded necklace or a great scarf, and you suddenly have Fancy! My personal favorite from the accessory world is a pair of giant earrings, but you could decide that you are more of a bangle gal, or that a really fantastic handbag is what makes you feel fancy.  Whatever it is, go for it!  If you are new to the world of flair, feel free to start with one piece.  Before you know it you'll be pairing dangly earrings with great heels or purchasing a pair of white sunglasses.  Watch out!

#3: COLOR, COLOR, COLOR.  Use it, love it, play with it, never fear it!

#4:  Develop your vocabulary.  After you have adopted the fancy mindset, you find that ordinary words like "nice" just don't convey what you want to say.  Make friends with the thesaurus and begin using less-common words.  Instead of nice, try agreeable, charming, or delightful.  Instead of funny, try droll.   Instead of grumpy, try peevish.  An interesting sentence always attracts attention.

#5:  Enjoy simple pleasures.  Simple pleasures are those moments that you want to share.  A quaint scene that you talk about at the end of your day, or a private moment that makes you smile as you remember it.  They happen every day, we just need to be looking for them.  Set a goal of sharing one simple pleasure with a friend each day.  You can increase your capacity by adding the number of friends you share with, or trying to increase the number of simple pleasures you identify during the day.  I will share with you that today, my simple pleasure was seeing a white-haired man driving and eating an orange popsicle!  I was also pleased to notice that my refreshed hair color happens to be a near-perfect match to the interior of my car.  Oh what delights! 

These are the bedrocks of living fancy, however other simple practices can advance your study of this lifestyle, should you choose to employ them.  Additional recommendations: wear dresses as everyday clothing, learn to walk in heals, smile as often as you can, spend time doing something interesting, learn a new skill, compliment others on their fancy attributes.

Please know, I am simply a student like you.  I welcome tips and tricks you have found helpful and am comfortable in the fact that there is always more fancy to be gained.

So from one life-lover to another I say, "Eat, drink, and be Fancy!"