Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Closing the door on 2011 feels pretty good, personally. It wasn't an easy year for us, so knowing that when we wake up tomorrow we will be waking up in a new year feels AMAZING. But being the ever-optimistic person that I am, I find it fairly easy to look back through the year and see all the amazing things that went on in our lives.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

We saw a LOT of live music. To name them all would be tough.

I became a founding member of the Denton Women's Collective.

I donated my hair to Locks of Love for the second time.

My brother turned 25.


The Rangers went to the World Series for the second time.


My cousin got married in August.


One of my best friends, Kim, got married in November.


Ryan & I celebrated 3 years of marriage. I made a little slide show to celebrate our time together (since 2002) and realized I never posted it anywhere! Ryan & I watched it together on our anniversary, and even though its been almost two months, I am going to share it here anyway. It is nothing compared to what my immensely talented friend, Lindsay, can do, but it was so fun and emotional for me to do it myself.
(Video features "Next to Me" by Sleeping At Last)

So, 2011, I happily bid you adieu as I look on towards 2012 feeling hopeful. Happy New Year to you all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas

Christmas 2011 was a great one. It's been a tough year for us, so I think we went into it with some skepticism, but it ended up being one of the best Christmas', for me at least, in a long time.

Our tree was bursting at the seams with wonderful gifts.



It started with an amazing Christmas Eve dinner and the annual viewing of Home Alone with Ryan, Mom, Frankie & me. Then Christmas Day breakfast and opening presents with Ryan, Mom, Frankie & me, followed by our good friend Kevin coming over for a late afternoon finger-foods-feast and watching A Christmas Story and Elf. And our awesome weekend was closed out on the day after Christmas, opening gifts with my Dad and Donna, complete with an awesome sushi dinner. The whole weekend was just wonderful.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peppermint Platter

Oh, Pinterest. How I love you and your crafty ideas.

This morning, my friend and co-worker Heather greeted me with a smile and "have you seen the peppermint serving tray on Pinterest?"

My eyes grew. I hadn't. But I knew I needed to. I looked it up and saw image after image of these adorable serving trays made of melted peppermints.

So, of course, I had to try it.

I gathered my supplies. All 3 of them. Various peppermints, parchment paper and a cookie sheet. I pre-heated the oven to 350* and starting arranging. (I quickly learned that perfection had to be tossed out the window for this little project.) Once I was happy with the look, I popped it into the oven.

I waited.

And watched.

Once all of the peppermint candies were melted, which took about 10-12 minutes, it was ready.

I did my best to pop the little bubbles that had formed with a toothpick, but candy bubbles are stubborn. Then, I just left it on the counter to cool. It slowly became less sticky as it cooled, but I plan to mod podge it just to seal it before I use it.


I cannot wait to use this on Christmas - I am going to serve my homemade fudge on it!


Give it a try! It's pretty foolproof. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Christmas is here!!! Christmas is here!!!

Well, in 4 days anyway. But in my heart? IT'S HERE!!!!

I found this cute little Christmas questionnaire on Mandey's blog and you know how much I love stuff like this. I couldn't resist. I LOVE Christmas nostalgia, so this was extra fun. Enjoy - AND MERRY CHRISTMAS! :)


1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Both. I love both.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Well, Santa didn't put our presents under the tree. He filled our stockings (and some of THOSE presents were wrapped) and then left our big presents unwrapped and by the fireplace.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? BOTH! We always had colored lights on the tree and house, and then eventually went to colored on the tree and white on the house. Ryan & I do colored on the tree and both outside.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, but my Mom and Grandmom always did. Maybe I should…

5. When do you put your decorations up? Ryan & I decorate after Thanksgiving usually. I think we did sometime between Thanksgiving and the first week of December growing up.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Well, really my favorite thing to eat around Christmas is all sweet stuff. Homemade cookies, candy and fudge. And of course, a Stein’s coffee cake that is shaped like a Christmas tree that we have gotten every Christmas of my life. It is NOT Christmas without that coffee cake.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? I have several. (Mom, get out the tissues.) I had 3 jump out in my mind right away. 1 – My Granddaddy reading The Night Before Christmas to us on Christmas Eve. Sometimes he would read The Cajun Night Before Christmas. There was just something so magical about hearing that story in my Granddaddy’s sweet Mississippi accent. 2 – Making Christmas cookies with my Mom (and Grandmom on the years they came here for Christmas). 3 – The church we went to until we moved to Flower Mound when I was 8 had this big craft making event in December every year. We would go as a family and each station had a unique Christmas related craft; a necklace for Mom, an ornament for Dad and one year I made this thing out of newspaper and panty hose that hung around a door knob for my cat to play with. Then, after all the crafts were made, we got to sit in Santa’s lap.

I also think about my Gram putting bows from the presents in her hair, and my Gramp and Dad putting together our toys for us. Man…I love Christmas nostalgia.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don’t really remember actually. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ve ever FULLY stopped believing. Which is why I cry during every single Christmas movie. I mean, I remember when Frankie stopped believing and my Mom talking to us about Christmas Spirit being alive in all of us. But, yeah, there is still a part of me that so badly wants Santa to be real, that I’m not sure I’ll ever lose that feeling. (Go ahead, you can make fun of me now, I don’t care.)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? When we were kids, we got to open one gift on Christmas Eve. Our babysitter from when my Mom worked, Peggy, sent us a book for Christmas every year, and I always chose to open her gift every year so I could read a new book before bed on Christmas Eve. She passed away a few years ago, but as long as I live, I will think about her and her books every Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Growing up, it was a mixture of handmade ornaments and ornaments we got as gifts. Which is perfect, if you ask me. Theme trees are cool, but they aren’t for me.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? LOVE IT!!!!! But I live in Texas so, it’s rare. Someday I will live in a state where it snows on Christmas. Like, every year.

12. Can you ice skate?
I can, yes. But it’s been years and I bet it would take me a while to get the hang of it again.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
That’s an easy one. The year I got my American Girl doll, Molly, stands out as probably the best Christmas for me. I still treasure that doll.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? The time spent with family. And Christmas Spirit.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Fudge, Christmas cookies and my Mom’s homemade candy (Crème de Menthe balls, Bourbon balls and Buckeyes).

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Well, I already mentioned Stein’s coffee cake. That’s a big one. Also, we watch Home Alone on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day every year. And we have our “nice” dinner on Christmas Eve and then just do appetizer/finger foods on Christmas Day. And looking at Christmas lights! Ryan & I have started going to Deerfield in Plano every year. It makes you feel like a kid again. Oh! Oh! And I LOVE Christmas cards!

17. What tops your tree? Ryan & I have a gold star that lights up. Growing up, we had an angel holding a bunny that my Aunt Judie cross-stitched for my Mom.



18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Giving, and watching the receivers open the gift by far. That’s a good part of the Christmas morning excitement for me.



19. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Yum. Especially the spearmint ones.



20. Favorite Christmas movie? I've never met a Christmas movie I didn’t like, but I’d have to say Home Alone. And tied for second place: A Christmas Story, Elf, This Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Oh, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. And Prancer! Okay, this is getting out of control, I’m moving on.



21. Saddest Christmas song? That Christmas Shoes song. I change the station.



22. What is your favorite Christmas song? I truly could not pick one. It would end up like the movies question. I LOVE Christmas music. All of it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

DWC's Very Merry Pinterest Party

Sunday night, the Denton Women's Collective hosted our first annual Christmas party. (Thank you Brittany for offering up your digs for the party!) Since most of us girls are obsessed with the virtual pin board Pinterest, we decided to make that the theme of the party. So, everyone picked a recipe or two we'd seen "pinned" to bring and share.

One thing I'd seen around the interwebs was a growing trend of collecting every one's cell phones during a gathering so that the attention was on the people you were with, not the things happening on your cell phone. I wrote a cheesy little poem and all the girls were excited to set their phones down for a couple of hours.

Back to the Pinterest part of the party. I had seen the cutest "Melted Snowman" cookies and decided to give it a go. I ran into some major minor stress over decorating their faces so I threw in the towel before adding their buttons, arms or accessories. But, they tasted great, which it always the most important thing to me anyway.

All of the girls executed their Pinterest inspired recipes brilliantly! Everything was delicious.


It was so much fun kicking back and just hanging out with all of these girls.


We also had a special guest; the head counselor at Flower Mound HS came to film a little short segment for the high school announcements to continue the good message of Finding Kind!


As part of our effort to better our community and the world around us, we collected Toys for Tots in lieu of the traditional "White Elephant" type exchange that might happen at a Christmas party like this. You can see some of the toys at the very bottom of the picture. :)

It was such a fun night with some really spectacular women!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Silver

"Silver" is a word that was introduced into my vocabulary at a very young age. Mostly because my maiden name contains the word. But, there were other reasons as well.

The (second) biggest reason I knew this word, this color, so well was because I recognized it on my father's head. I don't really have memory of my father without silver hair. When I was very young, he was salt & pepper but with each passing year it was much more salt than pepper. For the majority of my life, I knew I had 'my Dad's hair'. People would tell me how lucky I was when they would discuss my thick, naturally curly hair. Well, not a week after my 18th birthday, I got another taste of 'my Dad's hair' when I found my first. gray. hair. I plucked that sucker out and marched right up to him.

I waved the strand in his face and yelled, "DO YOU SEE THIS?!"

And then, he laughed at me. LAUGHED!

Looking back, I think he was laughing because he knew what the next 10 years would hold for me. Lots more where that came from. By 25, I had a noticeable amount of gray and could no longer pluck them out. So, instead, I started to color it.

Now, my hairdresser assured me years ago that my hair is not gray. She insists that gray is flat and dull. My hair is turning silver. And just over three years since the first time I colored it, I have stopped. (Which doesn't mean I won't ever again.)

My Dad says I look sad in this picture, I assure you I am not.


A lot of people ask me why I don't color it anymore, and it's a funny thing really. A NEW thing for me. All of the sudden, out of nowhere, I decided it doesn't make my hair less pretty. Or make me look old. Or is something I should feel ashamed or embarrassed by. Quite the opposite. It's a part of me. And more importantly, its a part of my Dad, of my Gram, that I get to keep forever.

So, this morning, as I was fixing my hair, I snapped a picture. The 'silver' isn't faithful to the front of my hair anymore. It's started to sprout all over. See?



And I smiled. Because I kind of love my silver hair.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

To My Younger Self

Last week, Mandy posted a letter to her younger self and it reminded me that I had done the same several months ago...but never did anything with it! After all the time we spent on Finding Kind, it seemed and appropriate time to make this letter public.

It was tough to write; revisiting the things that I've been through since I was a teenager. But then it was joyful, because those things totally shaped who I am today. I highly encourage you to do the same. It was extremely therapeutic.


Me, at 16 and 17.




Dear Teenage Rachel,
You know more than you think you do, if you’d just listen to yourself every once in a while. Music will never stop being important to you so don’t walk away from it…even when you really, really want to. Take advantage of your slim figure while you have it…because you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to get it back. You don’t need a credit card at 18 - You’ll regret it later. Listen to your friends and family when they tell you a boy is no good for you. They see things you don’t. You’ll waste too many years and tears. Money matters little in the grand scheme. Please remember that. You will be so rich in love and friendship, which will be so much more important than any dollar. You also need to remember how strong you are. You will experience a great deal of loss. You will lose a best friend to tragedy, and while it might never stop hurting, it will make you appreciate your life so much more. You will have your heart broken - more than once - and one of your broken hearts will be at the hand of the one person who was never supposed to do that. But, he will and you will survive it. You will also HEAL a broken heart, and you will fall in love with that heart. You’ll marry him, too, so don’t worry so much about your happily ever after. You’ll change a lot in your twenties, and you’ll be so glad you did, so let it happen naturally and don’t try so hard to grow up. Once it happens, you can’t go back. And most importantly, don’t ever, ever forget to love yourself and be true to WHO YOU ARE…’cause you’ll be great.

Love, 28-year-old Rachel

Friday, December 2, 2011

We Found Kind

I'm struggling to even find the right way to start this post...every time I start to write, I find my mind going faster than my fingers can keep up. ::Deep breath::

This week has been monumental.

Remember in September when I first talked about Finding Kind? After months of hard work, planning and meeting we, the Denton Women's Collective, teamed up with Flower Mound High School to present this amazing documentary to the female masses.

Promo poster hung in the hallway at FMHS - Photo credit: Lindsay Van Meter


It is no exaggeration when I tell you - my life changed this week. After two screenings, we got to share this film and its amazing message with roughly 1200 women and girls. My eyes are filling with tears as I type that incredible number. And being able to do all of this at my high school alma mater?! Words cannot even express how I felt. Seeing these girls who are walking the same halls I walked, being impacted by the Kind Campaign movement leaves me with a feeling I've only experience a handful of times in my life.


November 30th, we shared the message with 550 girls and women - Photo credit: Lindsay Van Meter



December 1st, we shared the message with 650 girls and women - Photo credit: Lindsay Van Meter

After the film, we held an open forum-type discussion. We were all so floored by the willingness of these amazing girls (and women) to stand up with a microphone and share personal stories, things they'd witnessed and ideas they had for changing the harshness of "girl world". During the post-film discussions, we asked them fill out a Kind Pledge card and an Apology card to pledge how they would become more kind and to apologize to someone they may have been unkind to at some point, respectively.

The Kind Wall, covered with Kind pledges, a sight that brought me to tears - Photo credit: Lindsay Van Meter

SO many people deserve thanks and credit for making this amazing event possible. First and foremost, to Lauren and Molly, the film's creators, for shedding light on this growing problem. And more locally, to one of my best friends since the 4th grade and fellow founding member of DWC, Brittany Sassaman, for spearheading this entire movement. Thanks to the other members of DWC for volunteering your time and being as excited and passionate about this as we were. And last, but most certainly NOT LEAST, to the counselors, administrators and PTSA members at Flower Mound High School for doing so much to make this dream of ours a reality. I can say without hesitation that this would have been impossible without their help.

I will leave you now with my favorite quote from the movie. "We may not all be beautiful. We may not all be smart. We may not all be talented. But we can ALL BE KIND."

If you would like to know more about the Denton Women's Collective or the Finding Kind movement, please click on the names above, or contact me via comments.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was particularly special.

It was the first time Ryan & I have ever hosted.

...And if I do say so myself, it was a success!

I watched the Macy's Parade as I put together a center piece and set the table with special napkins for the holiday.

The meal was split between my family. We (okay, mostly Ryan) did two turkeys - smoked and oven roasted. My Mom made cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce and apple pie. Frankie made loaded mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I made homemade mac & cheese, pumpkin pie and pumpkin roll. Ryan also made Yankee style stuffing, gravy and a brandy-butter sauce for the apple pie.

And we watched lots of football...not usually my thing but it just feels right on Thanksgiving.


The next day, we packed up the left overs and celebrated again with Ryan's family then came home, curled up in our sweats and watched the entire first season of The Wonder Years while working on Christmas cards.

It was a beautiful holiday that left my heart, and tummy, full and happy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

Hi. I'm Rachel. You may remember me as the girl who used to blog here.

Let's play catch-up, shall we? It's been a busy month. Here are the highlights...

One of my best friends, Kim, got married!!! It was such an honor being a bridesmaid and getting to share that special day with her & Jason!!


(I don't know who took these pics. I jacked them from her Facebook. 'Cause that's how I roll.)

We went to a really cool event at F.I.G. in Dallas for Windows Phone. It was a fun night (though I am 100% loyal to my iPhone) of free foods, drinks, pictures in Angry Bird costumes and most importantly - an amazing set from Young The Giant, one of my favorite bands!



Ryan met Ben & Jerry. Yes, THE Ben & Jerry. And yes, my husband is quite tall.




I also burst a blood vessel in my eye somehow. I'm not 100% sure how it happened, but after spending far too much time googling and on Web MD, I'm thinking its from stress/lack of sleep, possibly allergies. Luckily, its healed now, but for a few days there I was getting some strange looks and lots of people asking me what happened. How attractive...



Now, it's the week of Thanksgiving and I am so ready! We are having our annual Thanksgiving feast at work today, then I get to spend four glorious days off with my husband and family!




Monday, November 7, 2011

The Durability Anniversary

Tomorrow is Ryan & my third wedding anniversary. It's called The Durability Anniversary because it is often when a couple is aware of the durability of their relationship. (Settle in...this one deserves the long version.)

Since our actual anniversary is on a Tuesday, we decided ahead of time to celebrate on Saturday night. Ryan took the planning reigns. At first, he wouldn't tell me much. Just that I'd need a dress. Well, I love surprises as much as the next gal, but sometimes, we need details. What KIND of dress? Would a sundress be appropriate, or should it be more formal? Would we be inside or outside? Would I need a sweater? What kind of shoes would I need? As I overwhelmed Ryan with questions, he quickly realized he was better off just telling me the plan.

He was taking me to The Old Warsaw. A little background, this restaurant has always been "in" my life. My Gram and Gramp (Dad's parents) used to eat there. They took my parents from time to time...including when my Mom was pregnant with me. My parents went there occasionally when we were kids. And then, they took Frankie and I one year for my Mom's birthday. There is just some special about that place. I suppose I romanticize it to a degree, because it does hold some history in my life, but every time we would be in Dallas and see the billboard for The Old Warsaw, I'd talk about it. Ryan's a smart man. He listens when I talk. (Most of the time.)

We also decided to not exchange gifts this year. Our fancy night out was gift enough. Well...that and the new dress I bought myself, and the new shirt and tie Ryan bought himself.

I asked Ryan what color he'd like to see me in. He basically just said "No more black dresses". (All I own are black dresses it seems.) We discussed it further and settled on red. I found The One and hid it away in closest so he wouldn't see it until our date.

Ryan asked me what I'd like to see him in. I told him I had a weakness for tall, dark and handsome men in lavender. AKA, my husband in lavender. He bought a gorgeous lavender checkered shirt and a dark gray tie.


I started my date prep in the early afternoon on Saturday. I wanted to look 'perfect'.

The making of my anniversary look.
Fancy nails, curled hair, "sultry" makeup, The Red Dress.

When I was completely put together, lipstick and all, Ryan graciously posed for a few (several) pictures.



When we arrived at the restaurant, I was already filled with memories of my first visit there. I was so excited that I actually had butterflies! We were seated and immediately I was overwhelmed by the ambiance. It is such a beautiful, classy, romantic place. We ordered our 4 course meals, and soon the Maitre’D approached our table carrying a vase with 3 pink roses. I must have looked confused because Ryan leaned over and whispered "open the card".

Y'all. Ryan had flowers delivered TO. THE. RESTAURANT. The card expressed his love, and explained that the 3 roses signified the same sentiment as my engagement ring does. The Past, Present and Future. And for our 3 years of marriage. I was floored, and so touched.

Soon our food arrived. I so wish cameras were acceptable in white tablecloth settings. This food looked as amazing as it tasted. I had a Creme Brie and Mushroom soup as my first course, followed by their famous Cesar Salad. My entree was Grilled Prime Filet stuffed with Lump Crab meat in a Madeira and Béarnaise sauce, with Whipped Garlic Potatoes and Sauteed French Green Beans. For dessert, the most amazing Chocolate Souffle I've ever had. (I can't remember all of Ryan's courses. I was too wrapped up in mine!) After dessert, we sipped our wine and listened to the gentle music provided by a pianist and violinist. Then, our waiter emerged with a single rose and a slice of Pecan Pie decorated with a single candle. He was followed by the violinist. The violinist serendaded us and wished us a happy anniversary as we "managed" to eat yet another dessert. (MORE dessert?! Oh, you twisted my arm, good sir.) In that moment, it just suddenly hit me, just how lucky I am. Ryan really pulled out all the stops...and sometimes I wonder if I deserve him. I sat, fighting (happy) tears, in that moment.

The whole ride home I was on, a very full, cloud 9. I was still smiling ear to ear as Ryan popped the cork of my favorite champange and filled our toasting flutes. (They were a wedding gift from Ryan's parents. We used them on our wedding day and every anniversary since.) Then we settled in for our other anniversary routine...watching our wedding video.

Durability indeed. After three years, I don't think I've ever loved my husband as much as I do now.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adventures in Beauty - Braids

I. Love. Braids.

I always have. If my hair was long enough to braid (it usually was, except for ages 7 & 8), chances are, I wanted a braid in it. My American Girl doll, Molly, came with braids...though I later took them out to practice OTHER braids on. For my 11th or 12th birthday, my cousin gave me a book of 50 braids and how to do them. I wore braids when braids weren't cool anymore. (Ask Ryan.)

So, how thrilled am I that they are now trendy and fashionable?! I get to pull out all my old braids from my arsenal and wear them with PRIDE! And I've learned some new ones too. Like this one...the "one sided" braid.

I saw this braid on Lauren Conrad's blog and tried it that very day. It is SO easy and SO cute. You'll see me rockin' this one often.

Monday, October 31, 2011

And So We Carved Pumpkins

This weekend, I was in a mood. Don't jump to conclusions here - it wasn't the kind of mood that comes along once a month. It was just...a mood. It's been hanging over me all week. It started Tuesday, I believe, and just would. not. leave. By Saturday morning, Ryan was ready to be rid of it. On Friday night, we'd decided to seize this (recently rare) Saturday together and carve pumpkins. It's always been one of my favorite things to do. I can still close my eyes and remember the first time that I got to actually HELP carve a pumpkin. I can see the driveway of our first house, my parents spreading newspaper on the ground, sitting in my Dad's lap squealing as I pulled the gooey pulp out of my pumpkin. Surely something that holds such great memories would cheer me up.

So, we hopped in the car and went on our pumpkin hunt. We debated driving out to THE Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch...but we decided the traffic + crowds wouldn't = an improved mood. So, we went to our favorite grocery store and found two pumpkins that would work perfectly.

I knew what I wanted to do. A cat sitting in the silhouette of the moon. So, I plotted out my attack and started carving. Now...here's the problem. I suppose I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I've always been fairly crafty, and have always had people TELL ME I'm crafty...so there is this personal pressure to make things "perfect". As I was sloooowly carving out my design (seriously, Ryan was moving at the speed of light compared to me), my mood was worsening. It wasn't going to be "perfect". At one point Ryan turned around, looked at my scowling face and asked me if I was even having any fun. I smiled and said I was and tried to loosen up. Once I carefully pulled the last bit of pumpkin out of my design, I WAS having fun. It was jagged and the cat's tail had broken (which is appropriate if you know our girl cat Chloe) but it was cute...and almost exactly how I'd imagined it.

Of course, Ryan's turned out better. He has better hand-eye coordination or something. But, I was good with that. My Dad was the better carver of my parents (though no one could hold a candle to my Mom when it came to dying eggs)...and maybe that's how it's supposed to be. My (future) kids will reap the benefits of his skills, just like my brother & I did. And by the end of the night, after several little tea lights illuminated our pumpkins, my mood was illuminated too.


My pumpkin, freshly carved.



Our pumpkins at dusk.

And after dark.
(Thank you Instagram for upping the creepy-factor of Ryan's pumpkin even more.)


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Adventures in Beauty - Marbled Nails

I love all things "beauty". Hair, make-up, nails - all of it. In my downtime, I have been known to read blogs, watch YouTube videos, and more recently stalk Pintrest, for hours looking at tips, tricks, techniques and ideas. I try a lot of them, and usually report to a handful of my friends on how it went. After many of them urged me to start blogging about it, I decided that would be a great way to get me blogging more often!

So...I give you - Adventures in Beauty!

This is my most recent (as in, yesterda) endeavor. I've always liked to have my nails done or painted. It makes me feel more feminine. And I have about 10 go-to colors that I alternated based on time of year. The problem? They were all a variation of red. Pink, reds, maroons...and one dark purple. They served their purpose, but as I scrolled through pictures on Pintrest, I found myself attracted to colors that were not in the red family. I found one post in particular that I knew I had to try. Nail marbling!

So, on Monday, I took my 20% off coupon to Ulta and I bought 4 new colors.

O.P.I. "French Quarter for Your Thoughts" (a lovely Greige, which is a mix of gray and beige) and Orly "Blue Collar" (almost a turquoise), "Lemonade" (obviously, yellow) and "Gumdrop" (seafoam green)

I was set and ready to tackle the daunting task. And I do mean daunting. This is a tedious, temperamental process. I'd tried it for fun once before, but with a couple of my shades of red, and it hadn't turned out great. But I was determined.

I got my little bowl of room temp water, my orange stick (or tooth pick), my lotion, a paper towel, some tissues and the colors. (Yeah, see, daunting.)

First, I painted my nails with the Greige color.

After it was good and dry, went one finger at a time. I applied a liberal amount of lotion, making sure to not rub it in all the way.


Now, I failed to take a picture of the next part because you have to move so fast...but I will explain it as best I can and link a helpful YouTube video below.


Next, you drop the colors into the water. I started with the greige, let is spread out, then dropped the almost turquoise on top, let that spread, dropped the yellow, let is spread, dropped the seafoam green, let it spread - and repeated the process. Once I had the number of layers I wanted (again, speed is key), I gently pulled my orange stick through the "oil spill" of nail polish until it was swirled to my liking. Then, I put my nail directly into it, waited a few seconds, used the orange stick to remove the color from around my finger, and pulled my finger out. Then, I simply wiped away the polish from my skin (thanks to the lotion, it came right off). I did have to clean up the close edges with nail polish remover (I snapped the picture before I'd done that).




It's far from perfect, but I love it anyway. Be patient with it...it's going to take some time...but the end result is so, so cool. And if you want to SEE it done, or if my directions confused you (very possible), check out this video tutorial. (She uses tape instead of lotion, but I found lotion much easier.)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Will I Ever Blog Again?

That's what I've been asking myself.

"Will I ever blog again?"

I WANT to. I MISS it. But...I am suddenly at a loss of anything for substance to write about.

I thought about doing an iPhone dump. But none of my pictures are worth sharing.

I thought about talking about my favorite sport, baseball, and the Rangers. But I've done that already.

I thought about posting a recipe. But I don't have any new ones to share.

I'll think of something. I hope. Maybe. Eventually.

Until then...I don't even have a clever closing statement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Take A Step Back

We have been BUSY. And when life picks up and calendars get full, it's easy to become overwhelmed by it all. [Not me of course. I never get overwhelmed. ;) ]

It's easy to overlook the good things in your daily life when you are suddenly so activity-driven. Sometimes, amidst the chaos, you have to take a step back and remember to take it all in, and be grateful for it.

I've been busy with conflicting work schedules. I work the standard 8-5 but Ryan has been working mostly at night. This is tough...but it makes us appreciate the time we DO get to spend together, that much more.

I've been busy with concerts, birthdays and dinner dates. Yes, I've lost some sleep, but is there any possible way to NOT feel grateful for a calendar full of those things? Those things mean quality time with my closest friends - the amazing people I love so very much.

I've been busy with all the things that come with being a Bridesmaid...but let's be honest, that's nothing but fun! (Kim - you are getting married in less than a month!!!)

I've been busy...I've been a tad overwhelmed at moments...but I've also been extremely grateful.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Something Beautiful

I know I've been blogging about the Denton Women's Collective a lot lately, but it's been a very active part of my life for the past year or so. Over the summer, I hosted a meeting and talked about something that is very important to me.

Something beautiful.

Operation Beautiful.

It's a wonderful movement in which women post uplifting post-it notes in places for other women to see. Bathroom mirrors, inside magazines, at the gym, in the airport, in dressing rooms, etc.

At the meeting I hosted, I told the girls about this movement. I gave them each the necessary utensils and asked them to participate. And they did. It was so moving for me to get new pictures from the girls, showing their post-its. I made a collage and sent it to Operation Beautiful founder, Caitlyn. And today, she emailed me. She thanked me for my email and expressed how awesome she thinks we are. And said "It's going up today!"

As if posting the notes on their own wasn't fulfilling enough, seeing OUR post-its on the site filled me with joy. I just hope that the women who saw our notes were positively impacted...and maybe they even posted a note of their own.





And I challenge YOU to give it a try. It really makes you feel good, thinking of the next women who will see your note.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Kind

Has it seriously been over 2 weeks since I last blogged? Oops! Well, have no fear...I'll jump right in and try and make up for it.

As I've discussed a few times, I am a member of a group of amazing women. We are the Denton Women's Collective...and we are bound and determined to make a change in the world of women. Recently, we've taken quite a giant step towards that goal.

Over the summer, we watched a documentary called Finding Kind. You can watch the trailer here. It really talks about how mean girls (and women) can be to each other. How hateful, hurtful, vicious and cruel things can get. Especially in middle and high school. It was SO moving and made such a giant impact on all of us...and we knew we had to get it in front of teenage girls in our community. So we pooled our resources and Brittany took the lead. Well, on Wednesday, we met with many of the administrators and counselors at the high school that many of us went to as well as members of the PTSA and screen the film for them.

And it went SO well! Most of them seemed as affected by it as we were and seemed to agree that the need to show this film was there.

Without saying too much or jinxing anything...I see big, wonderful things coming from that meeting. And if we change just one girl's life it will be totally worth it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Life Well Lived - Ryan

I haven't done a Life Well Lived post in a while, but it just so happens that on LWL Wednesday, I realized that I've sort of "over looked" the thing that probably makes my life the MOST well lived.

Ryan.

Ryan on our wedding day. Can we please talk about his ADORABLE dimple?!

I don't know why, but typing his name and then seeing ^this picture just made me get all teary-eyed. I guess that's love for ya, haha!

I've talked about our story before, and have even mentioned him in a previous LWL post, but I'm feeling very reflective today and it seems like the right time to dedicate an entire post to him.

First, I want to brag on him a bit. Seems like the right thing to do. ;) He is a really talented guy. My Gramp used to call him "a jack-of-all-trades". He totally is. He is a talented musician - he plays piano, guitar and drums. He's great with cars. He can fix just about anything. He can build just about anything. He is probably the smartest guy I know when it comes to electronics. He is a great cook.

Ryan building a deck (photo by Jim Wall), Ryan getting "kisses" from our furbabies.

But he's not just those things. He does things to help my friends. He goes out of his way for my family. He is also thoughtful and kind (most of the time, hehe). He does really, really sweet things for me. He brings home flowers, cards and little gifts just because. One night a month or so ago, Ryan couldn't sleep so he cooked me an amazing lunch (grilled chicken pasta with a light garlic and parmesan sauce and a spinach and raisin salad) then wrapped everything up in a bag. When I opened the fridge the next morning to get the creamer for my coffee, I saw a bag that said "Rach" on the front. Inside was the surprise lunch, my yogurt and banana that I take for snacks every day and a sweet note that is still in my drawer at work so I can read it whenever I want. This man of mine also sacrifices a lot and works so hard to give us the best life possible.

He's not perfect. He can be stubborn. Sometimes we fight. But he makes me feel so safe, so loved, SO happy.


Knowing him, loving him, being married to him...that makes my Life Well Lived.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bon Iver - Concert "Review"

I've been starring at my computer screen, trying to find the right way to start this post. I'm still feeling a bit "floaty" from the show last night. As in...cloud 9.

For those of you who may not know, Bon Iver is an indie-folk group, lead by Justin Vernon. That's not to take away from the other eight members of the band...they are all incredible musicians. But, in my opinion, Justin Vernon is a bit of a genius. I know, I know. Bold statement. Blame it on the cloud 9 brain if you must, but if you'd been there....

Let me explain.

There is too much. Let me sum up. (Anyone?)

I attended this concert with 3 of my favorite girls. Brittany (it happened to be her birthday!), Katelyn and Lindsay. When we pulled into the parking garage, we all immediately starting talking about how beautiful the building was. That only increased as we walked inside. It is a gorgeous facility. We took the elevator to the upper grand tier and found our seats. There is not a bad seat in the place, although I'd be lying if I said we didn't experience a bit of vertigo at first.

Our view of the gorgeous opera house.

Soon, Kathleen Edwards (the opener...who also happens to be Justin's girlfriend) took the stage. She was really good. Her tone was so pure, and the acoustics served her well. After her 45 minute set and a 30 minute intermission, we settled back into our seats just in time for the lights to dim.

The group took the stage and seemed to take it all in for a moment before Justin strummed the first few chords. Within seconds, we were all captivated. It's seems that a common misconception (for a few of my friends) is that Bon Iver is a dude with a computer. WRONG. And hearing this nine piece band play all its parts in an opera house known for its uncanny acoustics...well, I'm going out on a limb here, but it was a bit life changing. Their sounds just filled up the room and you realized exactly how complex the music was, and how talented the musicians were.

This is a crappy iPhone picture. But, you get the gist.

As the set went on, it only got better. He played all of my favorites and based on my friends' reactions, they aren't just my favorites. They were also so gracious. Justin kept thanking us for "letting" him play for us, and seemed to sincerely mean it. I truly respect that in an artist. On the ride home, we discussed where it ranked in our concert history. At first I said "Top 5"...but soon realized I could only name a couple of concerts that came close. Last night was Top 3, for sure.

I did not take this picture. It's from a friend's Facebook. They had better seats. ;)

And as I try desperately to concentrate at work, my mind keeps going back to last night...and I'm cool with that.

Musical Musings

I don't listen to a ton of "mainstream" music on the radio. Especially country. Quite frankly, I find most of the "new" country they play on the radio a bit repulsive. (Sorry.) But there are a few country artists I really love. I've purchased exactly one country album this year...and it's this one.

This song hits really, really close to home with me (pun intended?). I can't listen to it without tearing up. It's like she climbed inside my soul to write this song. (It's also refreshing that someone else feels this way.)

The House That Built Me
Miranda Lambert
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQYNM6SjD_o&ob=av2e

I know they say you cant go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma'am I know you don't know me from Adam.
But these handprints on the front steps are mine.
And up those stairs, in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
And I bet you didn't know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here its like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I'll leave
Won't take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From 'Better Homes and Garden' magazines
Plans were drawn, concrete poured, and nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama's dream

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here its like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I'll leave
Won't take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here its like I'm someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around I swear I'll leave
Won't take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Musical Musings

I haven't done a Musical Musings post in a while, because I don't want them to be a forced thing. Like, "Oh I have to do one every week." I want it to be when music hits me a certain way.

Sometimes I think my iPod can read my mind. It's like it knows exactly what to play (note: sometimes) exactly when I need to hear it. I've had this album since it came out in 2007 and I wore the actual disc out. I know every word to every song on the album...but have a few favorites. This is one of them. I hadn't heard it in quite a while because I'd taken it off my iPod. I decided to add it back on and am so glad I did.

The Minnow and The Trout
A Fine Frenzy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2_3feh6O4A

Help me out said the minnow to the trout
I was lost and found myself swimming in your mouth
Oh, oh, help me chief
I've got to plans for you and me
I swear upon this riverbed
I'll help you feel young again

Not your every day circumstance
The humming bird taking coffee with the ants and I said
Please, I know that we're different
But we were one cell in the sea in the beginning
And what we're made of
Was all the same once
We're not that different after all

Help me up said the eagle to the duck
I've fallen from my nest so high above
Oh, oh, Help me fly
I am too afraid try
Now saddled with a fear of heights
I'm praying you can set me right
Not your everyday circumstance
The elephant sharing peanuts with the rats and I said
Please I know that we're different
We were one cell in the sea in the beginning
And what we're made of was all the same once
We're not that different after all

We are tied in history
Wide-connected like a family

So please, I know that we're different
We were one cell in the sea in the beginning
And what we're made of
Was all the same once
We're all the same
We're not that different after all

This song strikes a chord with me. It's a view I've had for a long time - "we're not that different after all". I just find it to be such a good reminder and I'm so glad my iPod shuffled it into my morning mix.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Beautiful

Warning: I'm about to go on a tangent.

This morning, while eating my cheerios, I opened Yahoo! to see what was going on in the world. One of the stories featured was this one: http://omg.yahoo.com/blogs/thefamous/what-did-ali-lohan-do-to-her-face/2012?nc

Take a second. Soak it in.

Upon clicking on this story, I had to put my cheerios down. I felt physically ill. I just...I don't understand it. I don't understand how we've done this to our daughters, to our sisters, to our friends...to ourselves. How did this beautiful 17-year-old girl come to believe that she wasn't good enough the way she was? That becoming gauntly thin and altering her face would somehow make her better? Honestly, I think she barely looks alive.

This makes me so sad. And, frankly, it scares me. I'm scared to someday bring a daughter into a world that makes woman feel this way. Like they have to be waif thin and change their hair color, body, FACE, to get society's "BEAUTIFUL" stamp.

We all have days (or weeks or months...) when we struggle with our own self-image. I certainly battle it...and often. And I can honestly say that most of my insecurities come from comparing myself to other women. Women in advertising, on TV, even my peers. We are constantly told what we "should" look like. If you wear a size bigger than this, you should lose weight. If you don't have hair like this, then you should cut/color it. If you don't have boobs that look like this or a nose that looks like that, then you should alter them surgically. And if you don't have the money to do those things, then you just won't be "beautiful".

What ever happened to individuality?! Since when do we all have to look the same to be beautiful?! That is so much pressure to put on an adult - let alone a teenager!

Ali Lohan, my heart is breaking for you. I'm so sorry that no one made you see that you were perfect, just the way you were. And the Denton Women's Collective and I are going to work hard to help other girls realize the beauty they each posses. Because this? This can't keep happening. My soul can't take it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Behind the Blog - Part 2

So...I didn't mean to spread these out quite so much. Oops! But, I started a short little "Behind the Blog" series a week ago and totally spaced on posting Part 2 on Tuesday! So, better late than never -

Part 2

What are you really good at? What are you really bad at?
I’m really good at: baking, writing (says my Mom), doing (other people’s) hair, and I think I’m a good listener
I’m really bad at: math, directions, interrupting Ryan when he talks (but I swear I’m a good listener!), running (plan to work on this)

Have you ever been in a car accident? What happened?
I’ve been in a couple of fairly serious accidents, but the worst was my freshman year of high school. It was the Friday that Spring Break started and we got out of school early so my Mom picked me up. As we were sitting on the two lane road to turn into our neighborhood, we were suddenly airborne. We had been hit from behind. My Mom checked to make sure I was okay and told me to stay in the car until police and paramedics arrived. In the minutes between impact and the arrival of the first responders, a white pick-up truck pulled up alongside us on the grass. Two men hopped out, grabbed the guy out of the car that had hit us and tossed him in the backseat. The driver of the pick-up motioned for me to keep my mouth shut (you know, finger to the mouth) and then made a threatening gesture. Being 15 and terrified, I did just that as I watched them drive off. Once the police and paramedics arrived and got us out of the car, the man hunt started for the driver. (For the record, he was never found.) As it turned out, he left his wallet in the car – and he was NOT the owner of the car that had hit us. He and his buddies in the pick-up had just stolen BOTH cars from a neighborhood down the street and were fleeing the scene. The guy driving the car that hit us was looking down while driving and did not see us stopped to turn. He hit us at 55 mph. My Mom’s minivan was an accordion. The back was smashed completely up to the front seats. Had we been in a smaller vehicle…well I might not be writing this today!

Why did you attend your college?
I hate writing this because I know at least one of my parents (Hi Mom!) reads my blog…but if I can’t be honest on my own darn blog, then what’s the point? I went to college because it was important to my parents, mainly my Mom, and because it’s what you are “supposed to do” after high school. Sadly, I have yet to finish a 4-year degree. But maybe someday?

Describe your morning routine today.
My alarm went off at 6am. During the summer I sleep with my wet hair tied into a bun, so when I wake up its still damp, so I blast it with the blow dryer, then plug in my Chi straightener. While it’s heating up, I make coffee. Then, I straighten my hair while listening to the news. After my hair is done, I sit down at my make-shift vanity and do my make-up (still listening to the news). Then brush my teeth, get dressed, put on my jewelry, pack up my lunch and snacks for the day and hit the door at 7:40am. Yes, those seemingly easy tasks take almost two hours. I have a lot of thick, curly hair. It takes a while. Haha.

Have you ever snooped through someone else’s things? Did you find anything interesting?
Yes…when I was a teenager, I did a lot of snooping through my Mom’s stuff when she wasn’t home. I know this sounds weird, but I went through a stage in my late teens (like senior year of high school) when I had this fascination with knowing who my parents were before my brother and I came along. It felt important for some reason. So, I would look through old pictures she had in a drawer in her closest, then I’d try on her old clothes and jewelry (she still had some stuff from college in the back of her closest). I know, I know. I’m totally weird.

What do you think happens when you die?
I believe in Heaven. I have to. If I don’t, then it’s too hard to think about the loved ones I’ve lost. Thinking that there is a place where our souls will meet again allows me to grieve those people. If I thought that they were just “in the ground”…well I couldn’t handle that. I can barely even type it.

Are you superstitious?
Ryan would say I am. Some of it is just habit.

Do people think you are younger or older than you actually are?
People usually know how old I am, give or take a year. I think I pretty much look my age. Minus the gray hair. ;)

How did your parents’ relationship influence you?
Wow. This is complicated. Haha. My parents got divorced in 2006, and it was HARD. I know, when divorce is ever easy, but the circumstances around it made it really tough. I really try not to air that stuff on the web so I’m going to leave it at this – their relationship during my childhood taught me a lot about how to be friends with your spouse, which is so vitally important, in my opinion.

What were the three happiest moments of your life?
Funny, the first three that came to mind all involve Ryan!
1 – When Ryan & I moved in together
2 – When Ryan proposed
3 – Our wedding day :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Soul Meets Body

Lately, I've been pretty down on myself. Mainly, my body image. Even though I am part of this amazing Denton Women's Collective that is all about building women UP, I can't help but still compare myself to everyone else and feel discouraged as my weight fluctuates. It's gotten to a point where even Ryan has taken serious notice. Yesterday, he said "I love you, even though you don't love yourself."

Ouch.

That sucked.

Hearing those words, I realized that my negative body image has become SO apparent and that it just unacceptable. And then I found this:

Wow.

I am overwhelmed with emotion as I type this. Realizing the mistakes that I've made in my constant struggle with my weight...I think it's the reason I continue to be unsuccessful in permanent weight loss.

My soul needs to be in tune with my body.

I have to stop trying to lose weight because of vanity. This choice, this need, this desire to lose weight can't be solely based on changing the way I look. It has to become about the way I feel. My health. It's time for me to finally embrace the curves that God gave me. I'm never going to have a "small" chest or straight hips. So why do I let myself dwell on those things? What good does that do? Those curves are part of who I am, so being mad at them is only going to hinder my progress.

I have a new attitude today. I'm going to try harder to love and appreciate my body as it is while working towards a healthier life...if that means a thinner life, then that's great, but my focus can no longer be on what I hate about my body. It has to be on taking CARE of my body...loving my body. Then, maybe soul and body will be one.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Life Well Lived - Vol 10

Click the Life Well Lived logo above to see past posts and how it all started.


I have participated in a Texas high school tradition.
Growing up in Texas, this tradition is nothing new. Girls start talking about it in middle school and it was one of the things I was most excited about when I started high school. But people who move here from other states seem to be baffled by it. I'm talking about Mums. I had a Mum every year for homecoming and it was such a fun tradition. And, why yes, in case you are wondering, yes I am wearing one of my Dad's button downs to hold that monstrosity (of high school awesomeness) up right.

I threw my brother a surprise 18th birthday party.

I love my brother. Like, a lot. If you haven't already gathered from this blog, we are super close. Like BFF close. And we have been for most of our lives. So, when Frankie was approaching his 18th birthday, I decided we needed to pull out all the stops. I asked my parent's for a budget and I organized the whole thing. I rented a karaoke machine and a bouncy house and bought 2 sets of hulk gloves for "Bouncy House Boxing" (it was as awesome as it sounds). I gave his closest friends invitations to give out and crossed my fingers for a good turn out. My parents took him to a movie while I set up the party and waited for guests to arrive for the big reveal. As his friends arrive by the car full, I handed out silly string and BEGGED this group of teenagers to stay in one place and be quiet. My parents pulled into the driveway with a blindfold over Frankie's eyes. (They told him his present was in the driveway.) As he got out of the car, his friends and I yelled "SURPRISE" and completely doused him in silly string. He was FURIOUS at first, until he caught a glimpse of all the people and the set-up in the backyard. It was SUCH a fun night. I wish I could find my pictures from the evening, especially of Frankie covered in silly string, but the one above will have to do. As a way to remember the night, I had all his friends sign a happy birthday poster (only about 1/2 actually signed) that he could keep forever. I just hope he has as much fun reminiscing from that night as I do!


I was voted Best Actress by my peers.

I don't think there is a bigger honor than being voted on by your peers. As I mentioned last week, I was very involved in "the arts" in high school. I rearranged my schedule and took classes with under-classmen so that I could be in both drama and choir. I LIVED for the stage. And, I guess others noticed? Because in 2001, I was voted Best Actress. I was so humbled, honored and floored. It still ranks as one of the best nights of my well lived life. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Behind the Blog - Part 1

I have seen this on several of the blogs I read and thought it was a fun way to get to know "the girl behind the blog". Most of the questions are light-hearted, though there are a few that dig a little deeper. Enjoy, and if you blog - you should play along too!

What do you have on your bedside table?
A lamp, alarm clock, TV remote, sometimes my glasses and a book, and a bottle of water (or 6).

Do you have a tattoo?
I don’t, however I really appreciate tattoos. I have a few that I’d like to get, but Ryan isn’t sold on the idea…even though he has some ink of his own. ;)

Do you believe in abstinence prior to marriage?
This is kind of a baited question for me.

What is your worst habit?
Just the one, huh? Do you remember a couple of questions back how I said “a bottle of water (or 6)”? Well, I try to drink a lot of water and I usually drink a bottle with dinner and then ½ a bottle from dinner to bedtime. So, when I head for bed, I grab my ½ finished bottle and it goes on my bedside table so when I wake up thirsty in the middle of the night, I have water. The problem? I forget about said bottle until I get into bed the next night…with another bottle. They tend to collect there for days…or a week. It drives Ryan CRAZY, poor guy. I should really make a more conscious effort to grab my empty bottles in the morning…

How do you handle finances in your relationship? Or, how would you like to handle money in your future relationship?
We don’t have “his'” or “her's” money. Our money is in the bank together and is treated as “our” money. I do all of the bill-paying but we budget together.

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
When I was in middle school, I wanted to be anything BUT a “Rachel” and even tried going by my middle name for a while but it never stuck. Today, I don’t think I’d change my name. I like Rachel…and really I like “Rach” better, which just about everyone calls me anyway, so I’m set!

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?
I have two places in mind for 2012. Colorado and Costa Rica. Here's to hoping we make it to both places.

What is one political cause you feel strongly about?
Health care. I feel really, REALLY strongly (in favor) about this particular subject. I’m not going to go off on a rant here, I promise, but I feel that all taxpaying citizens have the right to healthcare. Period. (Just as fair warning, this may prompt a post where I discuss this in more detail.)

Have you ever stolen anything?
Yes, I have. It was long ago and I’m not proud of it, and that's all I'll say on that subject.

Tell us something embarrassing about yourself.
I slept with my childhood teddy bear, Snuffles the Polar Bear, tucked under my arm until Ryan and I moved in together. And really, I think it wasn’t until about 6 months in and Ryan said “It’s me or the bear.” ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life Well Lived - Vol 9

Click the Life Well Lived logo above to see past posts, and how it all started.



I was an assistant in a Special Ed class. I realize how vain it seems to only have my face in focus, but there is a legit reason. I didn't feel right posting children's (and teacher's) faces on my blog without permission...and since I have no way to collect permission from everyone, I decided to play it safe. Which sucks because I WISH you could see all their sweet little faces. Especially the little guy in my lap. Let me back up - While I was still in college, I worked as a nanny, but decided to assist in a classroom for the summer program that my local school district does for children with special needs. This was taken my first summer with the program. This program really made a GIANT impact on me...one that has had lasting effects. Working with these kids taught me so much. One in particular; The little boy in my lap. His name is Jake and I think about him often. He was 5 in this picture and has Down Syndrome. I learned (just enough) sign language to talk to him, because he didn't speak. He couldn't tie his shoes. He didn't like people to touch him. But for some reason, we connected. Since it was one lead teacher and 3 assistants (one was taking this picture) we were able to give them lots of one-on-one attention. The lead teacher automatically noticed my connection to Jake and had me work with him every day. By the end of summer, he could tie his shoes. He could say SIX words (!!!!) and had expanded his signing vocabulary. And most amazing? He ran to hug me every morning, and cried when it was time to go home. (I am almost crying typing that part.) Jake was in a foster home. A GREAT foster home, for the record. The Mom was a saint and I have no doubt he had a great life there...but he hadn't bonded with anyone quite like he bonded with me. I went home crying almost every day because I wished so badly that I was older, married, in a different place in my life so I could have adopted him. And I was serious. I really would have adopted him, if I hadn't been 19. The next summer, he wasn't there. His foster family had moved out of the district...and I never knew what came of Jake. BUT, that experience...that connection to this little human being...it was an absolutely priceless experience that I would never give back.


I played a role that allowed me to wear some AMAZING dresses. When I was in high school, I got to play a lot of really, really amazing roles. Of the plays I was in, I had three roles in particular that rocked my world. Martha in Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf, M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias and Lorraine Sheldon in The Man Who Came to Dinner. It's really hard to pick a favorite role because they were all so different...but the wardrobe? Hands down, Lorraine Sheldon wins every time. The pictures don't show up very big here, so feel free to click on them to blow them up...but I digress. It is based in the 1940's so, my theater teacher and I went vintage dress shopping for the role. Let me just say...the clothes from that era fit my curves like a glove. Nothing had to be altered. And it was so much fun playing "dress up" in clothes like my grandmother's wore. I really wish I still had that black dress on the end...it was my favorite.

I went to a high school dance with my husband. There is a perk to living in the same town for most of your life. History has its benefits. (And it's downfalls...for the record.) Ryan & I were dating when he entered his senior year of high school and even though I had graduated and started college, I was still happy to go to his senior Homecoming dance with him. In fact, I think I was more excited than he was! I was friends with a lot of the people in his class, so getting to see them all was great. But more than that, the memories make me smile. Knowing that someday we can show our children pictures of us, all dolled up for a high school dance TOGETHER. I think that's a pretty cool thing. :)