Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

When it came time to pick Ellie's costume this year, I knew I had a big task at hand.

For her first Halloween in 2012, she was an Elliephant. 

This brought me great amusement and I laughed at her all night.

Last year, she had just started walking and I chose a bee costume for her. Cause she was (and is) a very busy little bee.

However, she had no idea what was going on. And she also was annoyed by her antennae headband and refused to wear it.

I knew this year she still didn't know what Halloween is but I know she likes to dress up. And I know she would have an opinion and wouldn't wear just whatever I had picked out. I knew it had to be something she liked and would be proud to wear.

Which is why this year she is Minnie Mouse.

Words can not express how much she loves herself right now. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

This is a Shoe Saga

A few days ago, I was standing in my closet and realized that I officially do not own a pair of black high heels. How could this have happened? Doesn't every woman need some basic, black pumps? The thing is, I vaguely remember doing a closet purge about a year ago and my black heels were sooooo sad looking and the leather was tearing off and the heels were worn and I remember deciding that they looked too awful to wear so I tossed them and thought "I'll buy a new pair the next time I have an event that requires high heels."

Sadly, it's time to admit that I don't go anywhere anymore that is fancy. I don't wear heels anymore. Sometimes I wear heeled boots. And sometimes I wear a cute dress with flats. But I just don't go fancy places anymore. This is my life. The wedding season of my life has mostly ended. There were a few years there that we were literally invited to 8 weddings per summer, but that has died down and now we are in the never ending season of baby showers. And I can wear some cute flats to a baby shower. I used to wear heels to work almost everyday. Not so much anymore. My cowboy boots are the highest heel I get these days.

Today, while Ellie was at school, I decided to shoe shop for some black heels to wear on a date with my man this weekend. This search was a bit more in depth than I originally anticipated.

Stores I looked in:
Nine West
Famous Footwear
Another Marshalls
Another DSW

I spent my whole morning driving all over kingdom come. It's a black pump, y'all. A BLACK HIGH HEEL. Could there be anything more generic and common?

I kept running into the same problems over and over again:

Problem #1: The shoes cost a million dollars. Okay, not a million, but close enough. I was not looking to spend hundreds of dollars. I was looking to spend tens of dollars. Oh, look! This shoe would be perfect! Oh, look! It's three hundred dollars.

Problem #2: Heel height. Look, I know the higher the shoes, the longer your legs look but a) I greatly value comfort and b) my husband isn't all that tall and so if I wear sky high heels then we look a bit like Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. I don't want one inch heels, but why is the next option 6 inches? WHY?

Problem #3: Sizing. Sigh. We've talked about this before. I wear a size 5 shoe. Yes, a 5. I know. I know it's small. Sadly, most shoe designers don't make their shoes in a 5. Most start at a size 6. And the ones that DO make their shoes in a 5 only make about 3 pairs of that size to go around the whole country. I can not tell you how many times I have found the perfect shoe and then I am told that it doesn't come in my size, or that it's sold out in my size.


Often times, when I can't find a 5, I will go to the children's section and find a little girl shoe in a size 3 (it's the same thing) but unfortunately that plan works better with flats rather than heels. There isn't a big demand for black pumps in a children's shoe store.

At the first DSW I found a shoe that they actually had in a 5.5 and it felt super snug and so I tried it on in a 6 and it felt fantastic. Hooray! I can wear a 6! Sadly, they only had the 6 in Beige and so I had to drive across town to another DSW and I bought the shoe and then I rewarded my diligence with waffle fries and a Diet Coke. I was exhausted.

Has this been the most boring blog post you've ever read in your whole entire life? My apologies. I just have some feelings about the shoes.

Anyways, here they are, Calvin Klein's in a size 6 from DSW:

See? Why was that so hard? Why did that have to be so difficult? There's nothing overly exciting about them or unique. For the love.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

So Much Chicken Spaghetti

My darling husband does not have many flaws. He's pretty gosh darn wonderful. However, one big issue in our marriage is that he does not care for Chicken Spaghetti.

Let me just say that again. The man doesn't like Chicken Spaghetti.

Sigh. This is a problem mainly because CHICKEN SPAGHETTI JUST HAPPENS TO BE ONE OF MY FAVORITE MEALS OF ALL TIME. And I can't make it for us to enjoy together cause he really would prefer not to eat it. The horror, y'all. The horror.

Perhaps he feels the exact same way about my dislike for any kind of seafood. He feels I am missing out on some of life's greatest joys. And I agree on my end as well. Chicken Spaghetti is a gift from God and all he has to do is receive it. Why won't he receive it?!

So, when I found out that Grant was not going to be around much on Friday or Saturday, I decided to get my booty to the store to get the necessary ingredients for the glorious Chicken Spaghetti.

Grant was going Flounder Gigging on Friday night with his friend Ricky, and Ricky's darling wife Olga and their baby girl came over to hang out with me and Ellie. So I made the Chicken Spaghetti and there is SO MUCH LEFT OVER so now it's just sitting at the fridge, calling out for me for every single meal.

Fact: A few years ago, Grant was going to be gone for an entire week for work. On Monday night, I made a giant pot of Chicken Spaghetti and ate it all the week long to make up for all the lost time over the last year that I could've made it but didn't. I ate it 5 days in a row. That's how much of it there is.

Tonight we were talking about what we are going to do for dinner. Grant mentioned that he was fine to just eat leftovers and such. Fine by me. Tonight will be serving #4 since Friday of my delicious Chicken Spaghetti.

Here I am with the precious.

A little behind-the-scenes scoop: I handed my phone to Grant and said "I know this sounds weird... but I need you to take a picture of me with this Chicken Spaghetti." Before I could add "I'm writing a blog about it..." he jumped with "That doesn't sound weird. That sounds pretty typical."

Real life, y'all.

Also, I just ran 4.5 miles today and so I'm rewarding myself with carbohydrates galore. 

The bottom line is, this week is off to a fantastic start. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Really Need to Talk About This

Today, I used some of my childless time while Ellie is at school to do important things like get Starbucks and a pedicure with a girlfriend. And then I figured I should do some responsible things like go to the grocery store and vote.

I vote early. I always do. For a few reasons:

1. I am over eager because anytime an election is approaching we hear about it non-stop for the 8 months prior and I AM SO TIRED OF THE ELECTION COMMERCIALS AND FACEBOOK FIGHTING. Over. It. I feel like the quicker I vote, the quicker I feel like this could all end soon.

A few years ago, during the Obama/Romney election season, I remember Facebook was just nothing but people arguing over politics and taking unnecessary jabs at one another. Aside from the fact that I don't think anyone has ever changed political sides because of a Facebook argument, I also just get really irritated at everyone claiming they know everything about everything. Anyways, I remember I posted something along the lines of: "Hey, it seems like everyone is really passionate about who our president should be. If only there was a way we could take a vote....."

And I stand by that.


Jen drops mic, gets off soap box.

2. I vote early because if I wait until actual voting day, I run the risk of that being a day that Ellie is sick or I am sick or I have car trouble or whatever and then I don't vote and then if my person doesn't win I will wonder for that entire term if I was the cause of the other person winning. Look, I'm not saying it makes sense, I'm just saying that's where my crazy brain goes.

So, I went to vote today. Surprisingly, there was a line. It wasn't too bad though, and it seemed to be moving along pretty quickly. So, I stood there along with my fellow citizens. And then I started to look around me and I started feeling all warm and fuzzy because I was surrounded by someone of every age bracket, every socio-economic class, every gender, every race, and I started feeling like we're all in this together.

But then, I made another observation. First of all, the 2 men directly in front of me and the 2 men directly behind me all had mullets. Like, legit, Billy Ray Cyrus, Achy Breaky Hearts Mullets. It was a mullet convention in the early voting line. Secondly, we were all in a rather small hallway and SOMEBODY SMELLED LIKE BUGLES. AND ALSO GRASS.

I'm not lying.

It was Bugles. And Grass.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thank You, Social Media Friends

Last night, in a moment of exhaustion and frustration, I did a little bit of venting on the Facebook and the Twitter about the fact that my dear sweet darling toddler girl WILL NOT EAT FOOD.

Look, I've blogged about her food issues before. I'm not going to spend 3 paragraphs rehashing them. If you're new here, just know that she used to eat a wide variety of foods and now she eats about 5 foods and over the last few weeks she has eaten about 4 bites of food all day long. And last night, we had an all out battle over the food and there was kicking and screaming and crying and big tears. And Ellie was worse than me. She was sent to bed without dinner.

So, I took to the world wide web to express my emotions on the subject. And then the most wonderful thing happened. I was met with a chorus of "me too!" and "you're doing the right thing!" and "my kid did that too!"

Y'all. I had literally 40 of you on Facebook tell me a similar tale to the night that I was having. 

Cue Michael Jackson's "You are Not Alone"

And tonight, as I was bathing Ellie, I was overcome with glorious hope because I knew that somewhere out there, at that very moment, one of my friends is bathing a wriggly toddler too. And somewhere, someone I know is banging their head against a kitchen countertop because your kid is refusing to eat something that they've eaten at least 4 times a week for the past 2 years. Somewhere out there, one of you is picking up toys at the exact same moment that I am. 

And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby, it helps to think we're sleeping UNDERNEATH THE SAME BIG SKY!!!!

Anyways, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement and reminders that I am not alone and that she will not starve. 

For the record, today Ellie ate half a banana, half a container of yogurt and some grapes for breakfast. For lunch she ate 2.5 chicken nuggets, a handful of blueberries, 4 strawberries and some snap pea crisps, as well as a cupcake since we were at her Fall picnic. And for dinner she had half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a whole banana and a "Milk shake" which is really just a PediaSure drink I'm giving her to add some calories. So, she ate more today than she's eaten in the past 5 days total. So it was a day of victory.

Especially since there was a moment today that I sat on my couch and ate 6 Hershey Kisses. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Whatcha Watchin?

I just feel like it's been awhile since we've talked about television. If you've been reading over the years, you know that I am a big time TV watcher, and an unapologetic one at that. I love my shows. And I like to think that they love me too. I follow all of the shows on Twitter and watch as the cast live tweets their shows. I've also been known to follow the writers and I once tweeted at Shonda Rhimes (writer and creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal) (I asked her a question about Scandal) and SHE REPLIED TO ME. I just needed her to know my opinion and she heard me and I felt much better after that.

I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to march into some Writer's Room in Hollywood as a table of talented writers sat around brain storming a season finale and yell at them and tell them what they need to do and how they need to do it. I'm talking to you, Julian Fellowes, mastermind behind Downton Abbey. I'm talking to you. 

This Summer, I watched every season of The West Wing at lightning speed. I LOVED THAT SHOW AND I WANTED MORE. Josh and Donna forever.

I have been SO ready for my shows to come back, and they have. Let's take a little journey through what I'm watching right now.  Starting with....


Criminal Minds is one of those shows that I am surprised that I like. Some of them are a little too much for me. For example, this next week's episode seems to be focusing on a serial killer whose MO is insects. Um, no thanks, I think I'll skip this one. Also, this new season stars Jennifer Love Hewitt which I was irritated about at first but she's growing on me as a member of the team. 


Y'all KNOW I love ancestry stuff. I love ancestry shows and Who Do You Think You Are? (or WDYTYA) is on hiatus right now so I'm now watching this show on PBS. It's not as entertaining as WDYTYA but it'll do in the meantime. It's like a little history lesson in every episode. Hi, I'm Jenny and I'm a nerd. 


Sigh. Y'all, I'm kind of over this show. I'm ready for it to be over. But, I've watched it since the first night it was ever on in my college apartment in Denton, Texas and I just can't walk away from it entirely before it's over. I've spent years of my life watching this show and I'm going to see it through to the end. And I miss Cristina Yang. 


Okay, honestly, the jury is still out on this show. I'm not loving it. It's new and I'm willing to try new things and I normally like legal dramas but this show is not clicking with me just yet. Everything is really long and drawn out, I am not really rooting for any of the characters because I don't like them, and it's a pretty graphic show as well. I'm gonna give it a few more episodes and then make my decision. I might be walking away from this one. 


This is a new show and I've only watched one episode, but it made me laugh. It's full of quick one liners and the characters are funny and likable. It has a fast pace (much like 30 Rock, which I loved) and I'm excited to keep watching!


I love Mindy Kaling. Oh yes, I do. She's hilarious and her show is so light and fun to watch. Plus, she is kind of my kindred spirit. 


All the kids are growing up which is weird to watch. I love Phil and Claire Dunphy. And Gloria cracks me up. This is another light show and has great, great writing. 




This is another one of those shows that I kinda want to stop watching but I feel a loyalty to Olivia Benson. And she's a mom now which is weird to watch. And I miss Eliot Stabler every minute of every episode. And Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows need to stop being so awful all the time. 


Y'all. I am so, so hooked. I kind of love Mellie. And I'm enjoying this season as we are no longer trying to hide Kerry Washington's incredibly obvious pregnant belly with giant handbags. And Olivia's dad is awful. 

What are you watching? Any new faves? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Waiting on the Front Porch

My husband works from home.

He in sales for a technology company, so while he is in meetings in and around Houston all the time, his home base is our home office. He doesn't go to an office every day, he goes to the study at the front of our house. Because his meetings are usually over a meal or in a client's office, his company just doesn't see the need to have a physical location for everyone to go to. If he's not in a meeting, he is either on the emailing or on the phone or doing a video conference call of some sort... all of which can be done from our own home. He's either in his office or out on the road. 

This is a wonderful, beautiful thing. I love this set up. It means he's home more and not fighting that awful Houston traffic. He is present and can have lunch with us most days. When Ellie was younger, there were major milestones in her little life that he was present for because I could just holler for him and he could come see her roll over or sit up or crawl. It is such a blessing for him to be home so much. 

However, it is not without its challenges. He has to work. He's WORKING, he's not here to talk with us or play. He has to stay in work mode and I have to try my hardest not to distract him. To complicate matters further, his office is not far at all from the kitchen and living room which is kind of me and Ellie's home base. We have to keep the volume down. We have to not play instruments (one of her favorite things) during work hours. There are days I wish we lived in a two story house so Grant could work upstairs and that could be his domain and we could be downstairs and that could be our domain. Just a little bit of separation. Grant often has to take phone calls outside or in his car or in the garage or literally pacing the driveway or the backyard so that he doesn't wake Ellie up from naps. So many times she'll hear him say "Hello, this is Grant" as he answers the phone and she will look at me and put her tiny little finger up to her mouth and say "Shhhh, Mommy... Daddy's on the phone."

"Shh, Mommy... Daddy's working okay? Let Daddy work."

His office doors are french doors with little windows and if I'm not careful, she'll walk over and put her little face against the window and say "Daaaaaaddddyy! I SEE YOU!" 

And sometimes, he can pull himself away and eat a sandwich with us. Sometimes he'll sit on the back porch with Ellie in between phone calls and share a popsicle with her. I try really hard to be aware of his schedule and let him work and we try to keep our distance from 8:00am to 5:00pm. But sometimes it just doesn't work and sometimes he has to go to Starbucks and work from there just to get away from the noise of a very busy little toddler girl.

Yesterday, around 5:30, Ellie and I walked outside to get the mail and Grant's truck was in the driveway. He had been out at meetings all day and we hadn't seen him. "Daddy's home! Daddy's truck!" He smiled and waved at us, but he was still on a phone call. Even though he is home, sometimes he is still working and needs to finish the call in the quietness of his vehicle. So we started walking to get the mail and she started saying "Come wif us, Daddy! Let's get-da-mail!" But he was not coming. She was sad as we walked to the mailbox. Head down, shoulders slumped... "Oh gosh... my Daddy in the Daddy's truck, oh gosh, Daddy's on the phone!"

We walked back up the driveway and she said "Daddy, get OUT!" And he smiled and waved. I told her he would come inside soon.

And then she plopped her little butt on the porch and asked me for a cup and a snack. She was going to sit there and wait for him. And since the weather is finally acceptable for human beings to sit outside in, I decided we could do that.

So that's what we did.

We talked and waited and enjoyed the beautiful Fall day. And then we heard the door open and we heard him saying his goodbyes. And he walked up the sidewalk and said "HI, beautiful girl!" And she ran to him and said "Daddy! No more phone! Daddy come inside! Daddy have a popsicle!"

And he did.

And she was pretty happy about that. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why I'm Writing

It's a beautiful, beautiful day. The temperature has dropped below 80 degrees... below SEVENTY degrees, even! I'm venturing into parts of my closet that haven't been touched in about 10 months and I am just thrilled about this. It was a joy this morning to walk outside with Ellie who genuinely does not remember a time that she walked outside and found it to be crisp and cool. She said "Ooh, Mommy, it's nice!" Yes, baby. It is. And the clothes are about to get so cute and Mommy ordered you some boots so your life is about to get significantly better.

I've got a bit of a head cold/allergies/exhaustion so I'm not running today. I decided, instead, to do something I've been wanting to do for awhile, which is head to Starbucks and do some writing. Blog writing. Writing for something else I've been working on. I just wanted to come sit and drink coffee and not be staring at piles of laundry.  When I got here, the only table available was one of those really long tables with 8 chairs. I chose a chair in the corner and got to work. However, as the morning as gone on, more random people are joining me at my table, including one man who sat directly across from me... and a few minutes later I had to put in my headphones which is the universal sign of "Not here to talk." I'm usually a friendly person but I need to focus when I have an hour all to myself to be creative.

Someone asked me the other day why I'm writing again all of a sudden - why I'm posting on my blog so frequently and what it is that I'm trying to accomplish. The truth is, I kind of don't know. I'm writing again, and it makes me happy to do that. I'm in a toddler season right now at home and I'm doing very few things that are any kind of release in a creative sense. And I'm a creative person. I also have a lot of words to say (it's just how God made me) (I wish I could tone it down, but sometimes I can't) so writing is the best way for me to do this. I'm not really singing any more, so all of my energies are focused on this. I have stories to tell and opinions to share and thoughts to unpack and this is just where it happens to be.

Plus, I have some little dreams of grandeur that pop up from time to time... thoughts about writing something a little more substantial and lengthier than this blog. I'm not even really sure what that would look like or when or how one even goes about doing something like that... but it's always in the back of my mind. We'll see what happens. Until then, I'm just going to keep writing until something more solid starts to shake up in this bizarre little brain of mind.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bittersweet: A Going Away Party

Some of our sweetest friends are heading off to a new adventure in Fredericksburg, Texas. The truth is, I am beyond excited for them and know that what they're off to is absolutely perfect for them. Plus, they're going to an awesome town with great food, great shopping, great wine, great scenery, so I know that we'll go visit. But, the fact they won't be able to grab lunch or come over for dinner or be so easily accessible is a little bit sad. Or, a lot sad. Sigh. However, that wasn't going to stop us from throwing a party sending them off and having one last night of fun with our friends!

Me and my friend Liz (and our husbands who were an amazing help as we got ready for the party yesterday) sat down and planned a fun night for our sweet friends. Neither of us are experts at this sort of thing but Liz came up with the cute idea of "We'll be so BLUE without you!". It was perfect. The party theme was a color. My kind of theme.

We had blue decor, blue cheese salad, blue velvet cupcakes, Blue Bell ice cream (but, let's face it... even if the theme was something else, we still would've had Blue Bell ice cream) and blue hydrangeas. For dinner we served lasagnas (when your friends are moving away, you need comfort food) and it all went so smoothly! We had a great turn out with lots and lots of babies and kiddos (I think I counted nine?) so it was a little bit of a madhouse but so fun nonetheless. In my mind, when planning this little shindig, I imagined a lot of people congregating in the backyard, kids especially, but it rained yesterday so that was not an option.  But we packed everybody in and had a blast. Here's a few pics of the event!

The guests of honor (left) with their hosts. And all those baby loves!

The mantle! I took down my Fall decor and replaced it with the blue hydrangea, a blue vase that I got from my Mom's house, that blue mosaic candle holder also from my Mom's. (When I am throwing a party, I go "shopping" at my Mom's house. She has tubs and tubs of party decor and I just like to go borrow from her. It's the best!  Also, I made that banner. Y'all, I know. ME. BEING CRAFTY. It was very foreign to me but I got some guidance from my Mega-Crafty friend Charlotte who coached me and told me what to buy and how to do it. And one night I sat on my floor while watching Scandal and I made this banner out of fabric and I tied it around some rope that looked like an albino dreadlock.

Fun fact: using all this bright blue brought back lots of memories as these were my school colors for high school. I  felt like I was decorating for homecoming! I wanted to get out all my mums!

Look at this cute sign that Liz brought! She said she found it at a garage sale for $7 and has used it again and again. I'm gonna need to get me one of those.

I did little with the dining room table as I assumed that I needed as much space as possible for a whole bunch of people to crowd around that table to eat dinner. But do you know that not ONE person sat at that table? It cracks me up. Everytime. Our dining room is a little removed from the kitchen and living room and people feel like they're leaving the party, I guess. So we just crammed people around and they ate on the floor and at the countertops, but that big dining room table and chairs are rarely used. Makes me laugh :)

Our front porch.

The fake bluebonnets and silver buckets were borrowed from my Mom. For those of you non-Texans, the Bluebonnet is the Texas State flower and were perfect for the evening since our guests of honor are moving into the beautiful Texas Hill Country!

I made this wreath. I KNOW. Who am I? This was another thing Charlotte told me I could do, so I tried it and I did it. Styrofoam wreath from Hobby Lobby, blue silk and chevron burlap ribbon, wrapped tightly around and stuck with pins... and that flower is actually a barrette and I just took off the hair clip part of it and glued it to my wreath.

This was on the entry way table. We bought a coffee table book about Houston and had all the guests sign the inside. It kinda felt like signing a yearbook. "Don't ever change! LYLAS!"

Liz made these and they were DELICIOUS.

Not pictured: Blue Bell Ice Cream. Also delicious.

The yummy salads that Liz made. Not pictured: Lasagnas. 4 pans. Almost all gone. SO. GOOD.

Also not pictured? The bread. Wanna know why? CAUSE I NEVER SET IT OUT. I REALIZED THIS MORNING THAT THERE WAS NO BREAD. And the bread was my responsibility. (Bangs head on table.)

It was such a fun, low key evening and we will miss our sweet friends! Now get these leftover cupcakes OUT OF MY HOUSE.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Family Activities

Here's what we've been up to:

Ellie: Singing into her Sofia microphone. Feeding imaginary food to stuffed animals. Dancing. Requesting the same thing repeatedly - about 47 times every half hour. Refusing to eat. Being adorable. Saying new things. Watching "Despicable Me" approximately 900 times per week. ("Watch the minions, Mommy? Minions? Minions, Mommy? Again, Mommy, Minions?") Going to school twice a week. Giving me a report on each child in the class and telling me whether or not he/she cried and whether or not he/she pooped. Coloring. Play-Doh. Singing and making up words to new songs. Demanding different food than what I have served her. It's a charmed little life she lives.

Grant: Working his butt off. End of quarter was last week so he is still detoxing from all that. Being a great husband and a great daddy. Taking Ellie to feed the ducks and such. He's also been spending some time doing a little activity called "Flounder Gigging." Basically, he drives to the coast really late at night... wades into the water... and sticks a knife in sleeping fish. And then he drives back home somewhere around 2 or 3 am. It's good times, apparently. However, I've been quite sad about it as whenever he says the word Flounder, I think of this little friend:

And that is just a tragedy.

Grant has also been doing a lot of the cooking here at the house lately and I have thoroughly been enjoying that little change of pace. Otherwise, he is watching football and just being the handsomest.

Jen: Aside from my daily allergy medicine upkeep, I am staying indoors as much as possible and patiently waiting for the legit cool temps to arrive. My use of the word "patiently" might be arguable. I am playing with Ellie and tending to her every whim and feeling. I've been writing. I've been running. I had been running 2-3 times per week but that is kinda halted right now as yesterday I was running and I felt something not pleasant in the side of my knee. I immediately went to Dr. Google and all his spot-on, never-wrong wisdom and learned that it's quite possible I have something called IT Band pain which is totally to be expected of someone like me who is a reputable and competitive athlete. Anyways, I'm just taking it easy for a few days and not running anymore which isn't that hard to give up to be honest.

I've been watching my shows and folding laundry and planning a going away party for our sweet friends who are leaving us (I AM SO SAD) and trying to eat better which is good some days and miserable other days.

Last night, for example, Grant asked me if I would be okay with him missing dinner so he could drive down and go flounder gigging. He didn't have to ask me twice. I really needed a night to unwind (this week has been exhausting in so many ways) so he left and I put Ellie to bed and I turned off my phone for a bit and watched "Finding Your Roots" on PBS (because I'm super hip and exciting) and I ordered Chinese food because I NEEDED IT. I NEEDED THE CHINESE FOOD. A sweet, elderly gentleman brought Beef Lo Mein to my doorstep. And also some steamed pork dumplings because I needed to meet the minimum delivery requirement. And he also brought 2 fortune cookies and I ate them both. And I fell asleep on the couch and Grant woke me up when he got home around 1 am and really it was just a stellar night.

I know they say that money doesn't bring happiness but I really think that food does.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Face is On Fire

Oh, hi, hello. Hi there. I'm just sitting here in a sea of kleenex. What are you doing?

I had a fantastic, refreshing, rejuvenation, fun time at the Women's Retreat this weekend... packed with truth and a good Word. Just what I needed.

And then I walked out of that hotel and my face exploded.

The allergies have arrived. They are here with a vengeance.

My allergies are all like "Oh, look, it's finally cool enough for Jen to tolerate being outside and enjoy God's creation with her family! She's gonna bask in the sunlight and celebrate Fall! Let's attack her and make her decide to stay inside till December!"

I sneeze approximately 51 times per hour.

I am super attractive.

I am overdosing on drugs like I'm at a rave in the late 90's. Hard core Zyrtec and snorting that nasal spray like I've hit my rock bottom.

Perhaps I shouldn't have gone to Dewberry Farms today with my family and stood around animals and hay and grass and pastures. It was like Allergy Mecca.

Also, antihistamines make me hungry with a hunger that can not be satisfied.

I'm supposed to be making a grocery list right now so I can go to the store tomorrow with a plan. However, I don't think I can go outside anymore because I am afraid I might die. I want my groceries delivered. And yes, I looked into that grocery delivery service but they don't deliver to my zip code yet (WHY? I live in a highly populated neighborhood in Houston... GET IT TOGETHER INSTACART)

Anyways, I'm gonna go sip on some Benadryl with a straw.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

When The Days Aren't Always So Sunny

I'm hopeful. I really am. I always lean towards optimism and positivity. I'm a glass-is-half-full, Pollyanna, look at the bright side kind of girl. I might be this way to a fault as I sometimes live in my own little HappyLand and try my darndest not to let anything filled with sadness into my world. If I read a horrific headline, I choose not to read that article. Sad story on the news? Change the channel. If I'm reading a novel and I get to the end and the author chooses to have the heroine die, I am angry for weeks. Weeks, I tell you. I surround myself with happy people and I purposefully create a little circle of bliss. Yes, bad things happen, yes, I acknowledge them.... but I try to find the humor in everything and I try not to let it affect my day. I just choose joy 90% of the time. 

Unfortunately, sometimes, I can't ignore things. The bubble has burst. Sometimes the pain is so close to you that you can't turn away. I don't know about you, but 2014 has been a very heavy year. Not necessarily for me personally, but for many of my nearest and dearest.... and if my people are hurting, then I am hurting. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy, thankful, and so grateful to walk through life with my friends and family - even the hard seasons - but still, when everything is piled on into one calendar year... it's just heavy. Heavy, heavy, heavy.

I know all of us experience seasons like this. People lose their jobs unexpectedly. Children get sick. Parents get sick. Infertility. Marriages fall apart. Cancer. Diseases. Someone is pregnant one day and then the next day they just aren't anymore. A phone call that changes everything, forever. We all have experienced it or held the hand of someone experiencing it. It's what friendship is, it's what family is. It's what you do. 

What starts to happen though, at least to me, is that a dark cloud comes over my household. Grant tells me that my demeanor has changed. "I'm just sad" I'll say to him. It's not like I walk around crying (although I have my days) but most of the time I just feel heavy and burdened. Again, it's not even "my problem", but I hate when those I love are hurting. And I spend a lot of time asking the Lord for guidance and answers and healing and it's just a different look than my usual, blissfully unaware state of living. 

It also brings fear. Fear of what could happen next. Fear that something more serious is coming. Fear that it could happen to me next. 

But I don't want to be that way. I don't like it. I don't like sitting around and worrying about what news the next text message to pop up on my phone might bring. So how do you choose joy when you can't ignore or get away from the heaviness? How do you smile and play and live a normal life while the elephant in the room is standing there, being very stubborn, and will not leave no matter how much you pray him away?

Trust Him. It is so hard to do sometimes. Trust in God. Trust that His ways are better than Your ways, His thoughts are higher than Your thoughts. Trust that He sees this, He knows, He saw it coming, and He has a plan. He is with you through the fire. He is Sovereign. He exists outside of time and space, He knows the end of this story. He knows the final destination of whatever the issue is that you are facing. Just walk with Him as he guides you down this path, as twisty and confusing as it is.  I remember a song from many years ago that I sing to myself sometimes when I'm panicking:

God is too wise to be mistaken. 
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don't understand,
When you can't see His plan, 
When you can't trace His hand,
Trust His heart. 

Know that He has plans for You, plans to prosper and not to harm. He is for you, not against. He is love. 

Pray. When you're feeling dark and heavy, pray for peace and hope. Pray for a glimmer of light. Sometimes I feel so burdened that I don't even know how to pray. I don't know what to say or do. "Jesus, please...." is all I can muster at times. But that is enough. Romans 8 says that when we don't know what to pray, the Sprit intercedes for us in groans that words can not express. Your prayers don't have to be well thought out or eloquent. Just pray.

Try not to dwell. Try not to live there in that space, in that sadness. Sometimes, Grant will tell me "we're not going to talk about any of that tonight." Turn it off for a bit. Talk about something else... something other than the junk you're in. Look, I'm not gonna sit here and try to tell you to "think happy thoughts!", but seriously, try to choose joy. Try to find something good everyday. Bring some joy back, somehow, even if it's just for a few minutes.  

And one day, you'll come out on the other side of this season... and you'll have the answer... and maybe it will be the one you want, maybe it won't be... but you will be okay and He can make beauty from ashes. What was meant for evil, He can turn to good.

We are being refined. 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." - Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello October, It Took You Long Enough

Oh, friends. It's here. October is here.

You know what October means? It means we are pretty certain to have at least one chilly-ish day. I can't wait. I have mentioned before that I feel like I am more attractive in clothes that are more covering, so I am ready for the boost of self-esteem that cooler temps bring to my everyday life. There are darling outfit combinations in my closet that have been crying out to be worn since February.

Also, I haven't gotten the Fall decorations down from the attic yet, but I did throw some pumpkins on the mantle.

Tonight, Grant and I had a lovely little dinner conversation. We discussed one of those hypothetical, never-gonna-happen scenarios... I asked him the following:

If you could take 3 trips in the next year, the first being within your state, the next being within your country, and the next being somewhere internationally, where would you go?

(Fair warning: this conversation topic will undoubtedly lead to you looking at flight costs online.)

His answer:

In Texas: Some small town somewhere that we haven't heard of
In America: Boston
Internationally: Ireland, Scotland, or "somewhere with cliffs that I can play golf"

My answer:

In Texas: Round Top
In America: Washington DC or something historical (I've got a bit of a history bug lately... I need to go to museums or historical places that have been around since before 1900. I'm weird.) Or, on a totally different playing field... Los Angeles.
Internationally: LONDON (again, my need for somewhere with a lot of history)

In case you're wondering, flights in November to Boston on United are actually quite reasonable!

Anyways, it was a fun conversation over a delicious meal cooked by Grant and it was a fun little journey across the world. We spent a lot of time on Google Maps!

So where would you go?