To Market

Today, after a couple of failed attempts and a bounty of good intentions, we made it to our first farmers market visit.  Today it was the Lakeside market, because that's the one nearest our house, and I think Lakeside is pretty cute.  We had to drive today, but my goal is to get my bike fixed up as soon as is feasible, and then we can bike there instead.  

Today's mission was to find some local honey and something for Brian's dad.  And we were met with some moderate success, not to mention a few extras.  We escaped about $13 lighter.

There's some major jalapeno potential for the husband, assuming my Black Thumb of Death hasn't rubbed off on him.  I've read that they're pretty easy to grow, and the farmer said that we just needed to make sure it stayed watered...  we'll see how this goes.  You'll also note some broccoli hiding behind the pepper plant because we eat lots of broccoli (and I like to hide from peppers as well).  

And, the piece de resistance, some BEAUTIFUL straw-berries.  I think I ate five on the way home.  I bet you'd eat five, too, if you had them in YOUR lap.  Seriously, these things are SO GOOD.  They're a little more expensive than the sales at the supermarkets, but they are a LOT better in the taste department.

Eli didn't make this trip.  He DID make the photo shoot, however.  This is him whining to go play with a dog that was walking by.


Can I just say, I love my cuckoo clock? I got it in ....Switzerland I think.... more than 10 years ago. It sat in a box, and then a shelf, for years. And now, finally, I have it mounted on a wall in my house. It sits in a spot where I can see and hear it all the time, and it makes me mondo happy every day when it chimes and sings.

Remember how I just said that I can hear it everywhere in the house? Yes. It's a small house. It's a small, miserable, cold house on those nights when I forget to put the bird to bed and tuck the songs away...to be reminded every half hour....

It doesn't take many sleepless nights for you to make the habit of turning the dang bird off....

But still. It makes me very happy. I'm glad I like it this much, a decade later.


Books I Want to Read

This is meant to be a running list of the books I want to read. It's compiled from a number of sources, including my half.com wishlist, lots of emails entitled 'book to get' and a number of scrap pieces of paper with titles scrawled across them. A lot of these titles have been on the 'to read' list for years, and to be honest, the list hasn't been updated much in the past while. You won't see many new titles, sadly. But, it's open to change!

I think I'm going to keep it relatively 'short' so that I don't feel overwhelmed and guilt-ridden every time I look at it. How's that, revolving door reading. We'll call it the 'priority list.' Excellent.

If you're interested in lending one to me, let me know! If you have one I should totally add, let me know! If there's one on here that you think is dastardly and should never be opened, let me know!

If you know how to request that the Richmond Public Library system obtain a copy of a book, let me know!

- Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas
- The American Porch, by Michael Dolan
- Cubicle Warfare, by John Austin (think Jim's pranks, but in a book)
- Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman, by Anne Ortlund
- Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs
- Little Heathens, by Mildrid Kalesh
- Here if You need Me, by Kate Braestrup
- Dances in Deep Shadows, by Michael Occleshaw
- The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

I love it when lists morph as you adapt their contents and shuffle the pieces around among do, doing, and done. And my, how this list will change! But seriously, send input, because I've been withdrawn from the realm of books for years, sadly, and I need your help.

the oldest has the hardest time

Just in case you were wondering, here's proof:


This past weekend at the cabin, I heard my aunt Jen explain to her kids, ages 7 and 3, that when they were 10 they could play Pass the Eights with the rest of the family. And I distinctly heard her say to the youngest that she, too, had to wait until she was 10 - that the rule is that they can play when they each turn 10 (instead of both playing when the oldest turns 10. Because that's how things usually work.). We'll see in a few years if this is actually how it ends up going!!

Because I was recently ordered to bed (and no I'm not pregnant), I'm having to come up with interesting ways to entertain myself. As a result, I am currently thinking of all the different ways I will inflict unfairness upon my own firstborn.

Do YOU have any good stories about the unfairness of being the oldest/the awesomeness of being the youngest?


greetings and salutations

One of the less exciting things I've had to do at my new job is sort through some merged lists of contacts and delete all the duplicates. I spent some major hours deduping. I am sure you all are jealous.

Because deduping is such not-exciting work, I keep thinking about random things that show up in this list. Like, for example, how awesome is "Buffalo Nickel" for a street name? How do you pronounce Marylva? Why did that person decide to hyphenate Smith-Jones?

Some of the lists had salutations - maybe you call them 'prefixes' or even 'titles.' It's the Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss thing. Sometimes I have to figure out if people living in the same house might be related, and how I should address them so we aren't sending 4 newsletters to the same family. That is about as exciting as this task gets.

I'm not as able to multitask as I was pre-fallingdownaflightofstairs, but I sure did get some good pondering in as I perused the list. Mostly I focused on the differences between Ms. Mrs. and Miss. By the time I'd graduated from college, I stopped using Miss because it seemed so juvenile and because I was working with academics who tended not to take "Miss Nonprofit Staff" quite as seriously. So I was Ms. for a while, when designating my own salutation. Wedding invitation etiquette demanded use of Miss a little bit, and I wondered if I was offending any women in a similar situation as mine - not married, but not wanting to tout the 'Miss' either.

How long as Ms. been around? I used to think it was a relatively new designation for divorced women. Miss was unmarried, Mrs. was married, Ms. was divorced. Widows somehow slipped under the radar - probably because I didn't know any and as a junior/high schooler, I didn't have much concept of mortality other than that of grandparents and other old people. (Granted, that all changed after Sarah got pummeled by an out-of-control Ford Explorer.)

I like being a Mrs. and I kinda 'miss' (pardon the pun) seeing it in front of my new name. I like being married, I'm proud of my husband, and I don't think it's a professional hindrance in my particular circles. Most people who write me are actually writing 'us' and then they put Mr. and Mrs. - but when it's just me, it's just me. So if you're ever in the mood to address something to me, tack a Mrs. in front of it, and really make my day. I wouldn't even mind dups!

we live in our homes

One of the biggest lessons I'm learning lately is how not to be so hard on myself about the condition of my house. It's not a disaster, after all. No, it's not finished, it's not perfect, the guest room is still mostly boxes... but all in all, we're doing pretty well I think, especially for this being our FIRST home and we don't exactly have money for the 'perfect' furniture, let alone furniture that can be contorted into some form of usefulness.

It's hard for me to concede that houses should be lived in. I am always disappointed when I walk in and see things that are out of place. I still get dismayed about 'the state of things' when really, it usually would only take about 20 minutes of picking up to have things ready for company to come over - with the exception of the bedrooms and the office, but company wouldn't need to go in there.

I beat myself up over things that don't matter. So what about the pile of laundry? EVERYBODY has a pile of laundry! So I haven't entirely unpacked. Some people take YEARS to unpack! So what if the house isn't ready for a photo shoot. It's our first home, and it's my first house. It's not meant to be perfect.

All these people that I know and compare myself to...I need to stop doing that. I have peers who have it together better than I do. They got jobs faster, they got their first house faster, they don't have the worries we had when we first started out. They settled immediately, they got their artwork hung, they had all the right furniture. And no piles and boxes. Immediately.

I am not them. I have never been like them. I might not ever be like them.

I need to deal with this.

The pile of dishes are indicative of our living in our house. Ditto the laundry. Ditto the mis-aligned furniture and the piles of books and the stack of mail.

Yes, I have some bad habits to break. We all do. The thing is, I have a hard time remembering how far I've come. Floor space, if not visible, is always just a couple of minutes away. I'm finding things to sell or give away at a fairly rapid rate; I'm rediscovering things that I do love and will use.


hamburger cupcakes??

We at Chez Newlyweds hope to have a lot of cookouts and burgers and bring-your-own-meat and s'mores this summer. And me being the goober that I am, I disdain the whole 'pastor's wife' title and wanting to be Brian's Wife, or even Ashley, rather than a fifth limb. I'm always looking for ways to put a twist on the 'typical' thing. (I do this with most things, actually.)

In a seemingly unrelated vein, I've been reading the Cupcake Queen's blog for a while now. She is wildly inspring and makes me think that maybe I, too, could find my inner Martha Stewart and have a shot at 'coolest mom on the block' someday. The CQ does cool things with her cupcakes...you should check them out.

Some of her ideas have had me really jazzed before, but now, just in time for summer, she has REALLY inspired me, and I hope to be taking along some hamburger cupcakes to the next cookout or potluck or whatever.

Look and be amazed! Aren't these fantastic?

Definitely some 'cool wife' potential in these babies. My goal is to make all the guys jealous of Brian.

hazards of traveling (or is it travelling?)

with it being wedding season and all, I've had matrimony on the brain. It hasn't been that long since Brian and I exchanged wedding vows, and I have to say that marrying him is the best thing I've done, to date. We're happy so much of the time - and the times when we aren't happy, we do a lot of give and take about how to deal with it in the future. Our commitment to each other is unconditional.

Except that he informed me yesterday that if I ever did something that caused him to get a speeding ticket when he otherwise would not have, he would pack his bags and leave immediately. This was in one of those ridiculous conversations where I pointed out that he was driving faster than perhaps I would have liked, considering I prefer to be about 20 miles below speed limit on the highway (mild exaggeration) and he said not to worry, even if we did get pulled (which we didn't, by the way, despite my many dramatic exclamations that we were on the verge of doom) that he wouldn't get a ticket, because I would just cry and he would explain that he was in seminary and it would all be ok. I informed him that I would not, in fact, be crying, that I would probably be yelling at the top of my lungs non-stop to the point that he wouldn't even be able to HEAR the cop/state trooper/messenger of doom/what have you. At which point he informed me that if I ever were to cause him to get a ticket that he otherwise would not, blah blah blah eternal sadness and loneliness and despair.

Pretend you're a patroller of the streets and you pull someone over. Would seeing the 'little wife' crying and hearing a sob story about being in seminary and broke and trying to make it home to work on a sermon cause you to give a warning in lieu of a ticket? Would you be more, or less, inclined to ticket a guy who was already being lambasted by a VERY ANGRY WIFE going on and on about 'I asked you to slow down and we can't afford this ticket and with one car between us how am I supposed to get to work while you have your day in court' (and cleverly inserting all kinds of reasons why a speeding ticket would be nigh-on-disastrous for us) at the top of her lungs? Because me, I wouldn't buy into sob stories, but I would TOTALLY feel bad for the guy who was clearly being punished way more than a fine the size of a speeding ticket...


8 hours on the road recap

Pennsylvania has funny road signs. If only my camera had not landed in the way back. We saw entertaining sights including:

- CAUTION MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE (with the 'everywhere' blinking for emphasis)

We also passed a ramshackle roadside bar that looked straight out of a movie (which sparked debate about whether or not we would ever go there), Lovers Lane, and a building in Liverpool PA with the word NIPPLE written in giant letters.

Thank you, Pennsylvania, for being so weird and reminding me of what it's like outside of the city and the surrounding suburbia.


time out

I had all these high hopes for writing and scheduling posts to go up over the weekend, and then my job melted my brain. I'll be shipping off to a cell-free internet-free mountain range this weekend, leaving the blog to take a vacation as well.

Catch you on the flip side!


no more stuff n' things

Can I just say, it feels SO good to have unloaded all those things yesterday. I feel like I have my living room back! I can see floor space in every room!

I was also delighted as I went through the mail last night. Yesterday we received a small packet from something called 'Our Town Virginia' which contained a number of coupons and some GIFT CERTIFICATES for goodies, including a Little Caesar's pizza (hubby likes to go there) and an OIL CHANGE, which we'd been planning to get anyway. Nothing like a free oil change to cheer you up when 'replace timing belt' is looming on the immediate horizon!

A new reason to love Richmond: we found a couple of different garages who will replace the timing belt about 100 bucks LESS than the Consumer Reports estimate. Score!!


knitting the moderne

Since taking the new job, my knitting moved to the back-burner. The sweater I spent most of winter on has been hibernating for a couple of months - it has a front, a back, and about half a sleeve done. I lost interest and it's been neglected long enough to start making me feel guilty. And because I am a self-proclaimed monogamous knitter, I didn't want to start a new project until I finished this one first. HELLO, perfectionism! You are my unfinished object list's best friend!

I had to break the monogamy rule, though. Good reason, though! I got hired! Paid to knit! What could possibly be better??

Actually, getting paid to eat really good chocolate would be better. BUT, I digress.

My super rockstar friend and former coworker Lisa commissioned a baby blanket. She wanted 'lots of blues' and machine washability. She may or may not have also wanted to show up everyone else with a hand-made specially designed item...but who am I to surmise her thoughts?

We hemmed and hawed over patterns, and with me being a perfectionist and all, I was afraid to make a decision even though she said numerous times to make a decision. I finally found a pattern I could really get behind...and voila!

I was particularly stoked about this pattern for a number of reasons - could incorporate lots of blues, was mostly garter stitch (read: mind-numbingly easy) so it would be good for multitasking, included three new techniques for me to learn.

The church ladies were so excited to see a young'un knitting, and I'd take it to church every week and work on it in Sunday School and the non-interactive parts of the service, and they'd ask about the progress and ask to see it, blah blah. I had to do lots of reassuring/clearing up misunderstandings, and proclaim loudly that it was NOT for me NO I AM NOT A MOMMY YET no babies here PLEASE HIRE ME....et cetera.

I am now working up the nerve to invest in some stash-diving and work up a few (more) things to list on my someday-to-open Etsy shop. Love Etsy.

What do YOU think of the Moderne Baby Blanket?


I am SO excited. Today the Love of Jesus thrift shop is coming to my house and taking away a big box, 3 big bags, and a bunch of furniture. AWESOME.

I wanted to take the furniture to the Habitat ReStore, but it's just too beat up and in bad shape and frankly, given the nature of my relationship with them, I was too embarrassed to admit to owning such pieces. Everybody else, though, when you're doing your home repairs and rearranging furniture, call the ReStore! They will pick up whatever you've got. Bookshelves, drywall, pianos, half-used cans of paint...if it falls in the category of 'home improvement' then chances are, they want it.

They also love to recycle your plastic bags of any type.



field trip

There was something I'd been meaning to do for a while, as a new resident of Richmond - get a library card. As if I didn't have enough books as it is, I wanted a free pass to as many books as I could get my paws on (20 at a time is the limit, I believe).

As Brian is the son of a librarian, and sometimes works in the library at school when money is a little too tight, I thought he would want to make use of the Richmond Public Library system as well.

So I researched the requirements and I sent him a cutesy email, in which I informed him that we were going on a field trip this evening and he would need such-and-such documentation. And I must say, he was very cooperative.

I don't know if or when he figured out where we were going, but once we pulled up to the local branch, he was completely unenthused. Apparently I am married to a library snob, and he has zero interest in our library. None. At all. He didn't even get the card. Complete waste of wallet space. He managed to entertain himself with some magazine article about robots.

I went to town, though. Problem is, our local branch didn't have quite the selection I'd hoped. There weren't many knitting books (although tons of crochet ones) but definitely some things to get me inspired. I ended up checking out Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark (it's her memoir and I've already started it) but I will ponder the 'craft' books to decide what I want to tackle first - lace knitting, calligraphy, quilting or sewing.

I'll also try to figure out how to do the library transfer...and maybe how to request books. There are a couple pattern books I'd love to sink my teeth into while bypassing the $30 price tag.

drawbacks to celibacy

In keeping with the sex and babies theme from a couple weeks ago, I present to you my thoughts on the drawbacks to celibacy:

- Insecurity when you are dating someone. Some questions that plagued me include: Is he here just out of obligation? Is he thinking about (or going to) someone else? When will he get tired of waiting? Does he take me, and our relationship, seriously, or am I just a stop-gap?

- Not knowing where to draw the line. Sex is out of the question, but there's a whole lot that happens before sex. What else is out of the question? Problem is, there is no real answer to this, because every person you ask will give you a different answer. A lot of folks tend to try to figure it out as they go along, and inevitably when you aren't sure of something, you end up 'doing' more than you would if you had guidelines that you could stick to. This leads to guilt, all kinds of guilt, because you assume you crossed the line, wherever it was...

- Feeling self-consciousness around peers. The older you get, the harder it is to find fellow virgins. Not fitting in, not being understood (this gets worse as you get older, esp. in college) and also not being able to relate to an important aspect of your peers can get really challenging, especially when you reach the point where most folks feel comfortable making assumptions.

- Feeling tremendously self-consciousness the first time you're with someone. Lots of folks do end up having sex at some point. Sometimes abstaining is a clever way of hiding your insecurity and/0r low self esteem. So when it's time to do the deed, especially if you're with someone more experienced than you, there can be a lot of questions that get in the way at first. Am I doing this right? Am I letting him/her down? Is he/she being reminded of a past lover?

Now, with all that said, I'd sure take some insecurities and self-doubt over tremendous heartache, self-loathing and 'complications' ANY day of the week. Abstinence was definitely the right choice for me.


some ways I'm high maintenance

It doesn't take much to keep me content.

One of the things that I like about Brian is that he's pretty low maintenance. There isn't much that he 'requires' to be happy... basically he just needs a glass bottled coke and some iron transfer paper, and he's good to go.

I think I require a little more. Not much more, but there are some things that I've missed lately.

I would very much like, for example, to buy yarn. I love yarn. I love playing with yarn. I wish I could pick a project and then buy the yarn, instead of poking through my stash, which is getting less and less interesting, and then inventing a project. I would love to be able to pick up whatever I'd need for a cardigan, or bust out this shawl I've been eying for months and months. It's just a matter of not having the extra $40.

So yarn is something that I value. Something else I value is skincare. I wish I could get all the different washes and toners and creams and lotions. I wish I didn't have to stick to what's in the drugstore. I went to a mall a couple days ago with a friend, because she needed to get some new eye cream. We went to Origins, in Macy's. I'd never been there before. Aaaaaaand...it was amazing. The saleslady was nice even though Anna was giving her a little bit of a hard time, and the different kinds of products really fascinated me. I wish I could get the masks and the scrubs and the 'lip savers' and whatnot. But again, I don't have the spare $32.50 sitting around.

I'm really excited about the next few months, though. We've started crossing off all the neglected must-dos on the to-do list, and then maybe we'll have some actual disposable income...and I can start thinking about a yarn budget and a skincare budget and Brian can work on his DVD collection some more. You know, live like normal people do. Normal! Me!

It should also be noted that some of our 'must do' items include getting our bikes in working order and visiting our families. Almost like those "Mandatory Fun" nights we had at TIP camp. So it's not like we're miserable and lifeless and slumming it, right now.... more like, adhering to a strict list of carefully considered priorities. I'll defer my desire for a new moisturizer so that I can see all the folks.

PS, Richmonders, any tips on bike shops? Mostly we just need to replace some tires and have my old AutoBike checked out and put back in working order. I'm hoping new tubes is all it needs....

time for a trip!

I've been thinking for many days now about what kind of knitting I want to take on my upcoming trip to the Poconos. I'm hoping to finish up this life-long sweater project that I've been somewhat working on for months. I reached into my stash and started the project in Feb, and then kept getting other high-priority projects that interfered with me finishing it. So now that the knitting horizon is clear, I'm actually TIRED of this one and can only think of what ELSE I want to be working on. I've got 1.5 sleeves and some seams left to go, and then I can get on with some monogamous knitting glory.

PS, one of the projects I want to take is going to involve some yarn made from banana fibers. BANANA, how cool is that?? It's a deep royal blue lumpy shiny yarn and I'm stoked to use it. I think I'm going to make either a big loopy stash-bag or a nice shawl from it.



You know that feeling you get when you know someone is watching you but you don't want to let on that you know?

Anyway, hi.


Victor update

I recently received word that Victor had made contact with his family. They are ok, and they've found a safe place to stay.

Brian and I are planning to send money to the Gospel for Asia relief efforts in Burma...we both have fallen a little bit behind in the "give to God what is God's" department this year. Shame that it took a personal brush with a devastating cyclone to get us back on track. Some people just need bigger nudges than others, I guess!

In other news, it's Friday! Happy Friday, everybody!


insanity recap

I won't give a detailed recap of last night's insanity, mostly because it's boring. Cleaning is not-so-much exciting.

Somewhat more exciting is that I found a few old ceramic craft projects from when my brother and I went to camps. I now have a bright blue/green/yellow foot-long inchworm with buck teeth to greet me in the mornings.

I decided midway through the process NOT to go kamikaze crazy about it, and only work a decent amount of time to get things done (ie, 3 hours-ish). I can see a LOT more of my floor now. And the best thing is, we cleared the path back to the attic, so the decluttering process is MUCH less likely to get stopped up, as it had been for the past month.

t was probably kinda entertaining watching me make a couch turn somersaults to get down the skinny hall and through the tiny door. Fortune smiled upon me when it bestowed a small couch that is fairly light. And Brian was relatively cooperative when he got home as well, although his 'housework' tolerance is lower than the average woman so I ended up quitting before I really wanted to. Then again, he's cooperating more than the average dude would, so he still makes me grinny.

Even Eli decided to grant us with some quiet and stayed mostly away. Although, I heard he was a rascal yesterday afternoon. Something about eating his raw chicken wing on the couch, after he thought Brian had left the house. We're trying to train him to eat his chicken in his bowl.... but that's another papillon adventure for another day. Crazy little guy.

I'm feeling a little better today, and I hope to continue the process this evening. Tonite, The Clothes Pile will meet its doom.

Question: what's the one cleaning/decluttering thing you've been putting off for forever?


insanity ensues

I have lost my freaking mind.

My house has driven me to the edge.

I plan on spending the next few hours solid, doing some cleaning/picking up/decluttering.

I've called the Love of Jesus Thrift Shop to come take away as much as I can get ready for them to take. I can't take it anymore.

This means, dressers GONE. SOON. NOW if possible.

It feels good thinking about it, and picturing a much friendlier home. We'll see how this goes!

No more CHAOS please.

(CHAOS = Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Thanks FlyLady!)

Here endeth the boring blog post.


pray for victor

One of Brian's seminary friends is from Burma - or Myanmar - the site of the big devastating cyclone and the junta that's making it difficult to help.

He's been here in the States a couple of years for seminary, and hasn't seen his family since coming over. He was set to graduate the end of this month, travel for a little bit, and then head back home in the middle of June to found a Christian ministry, including a church.

He has a wife and kids - a little girl and boy, I think - back home. He hasn't heard from them since the cyclone. So if you're the praying type, pray for Victor's mental and physical health while he finishes up here, and pray for the safety and well-being of his family.

infomercials fix

Can I just say, I am a complete sucker for infomercials. I LOVE them. I could watch them for hours - in fact, I have.

The very first infomercial that I remember is some hand mixer. I don't remember much about it - I was probably 6 or 7 when it came on. I DO remember that you could make your own mayonnaise with it, though. Mayo! In your own kitchen!

A couple years ago when I was awake at nights sleepless over a breakup, I loved watching the Magic Bullet infomercial. It was fantastic, and it involved a guy with an accent - I don't remember if it was British or Australian. I wanted one ever since (the machine, not the foreigner), and my mom ended up getting me one as a wedding gift! Rock star! I haven't quite mastered it, but the day will come!!!!

Brian got burned by the Infinity Razor last year. It majorly sucked. I sold all of the 'but wait there's more!' on Ebay for 9 bucks a few months later. Suffice it to say, it was NOT the last razor we ever bought.

Much joy and excitement: I saw a whole slew of new ones yesterday. The new objects of my affection include ShamWows (their 30 second stint was a way better production rip-off of the the Zorbeez one) and Fix It! scratch repair kit. And the fitness enthusiast in me is a new fan of Perfect Pushup and that little ab cruncher green ball thing that I can't remember the name of.

Also intrigued by the Hercules Hook. Billy Mays, you are my hero.

Do you have any as-seen-on-tv experiences to share?


bringing home the orient

I've sent off my oriental rug for a deep cleaning. It had a few disastrous run-ins with full doggie bladders...and it made the whole house smell like stinky.

This is the one I got in Turkey right after graduating high school. It's beautiful. It's silk. It's handmade. It feels soooooo good on the feet - soft and cool and like nothing else. I've thought about it for years....I was so excited to have in my house "someday;" in the meantime, it lived somewhere else. I cried when I got it back and realized just how strong of a liking their dogs took to it.

It's been away for more than two weeks now, with a nice guy named Mark working on it. He called this afternoon to say that the 'usual' methods for delicate fibers aren't working, and do I give him permission to use something stronger. The options are, get it back the way it is, and it'll be much prettier but still smell like pee, or give the green light for a stronger cleaner and risk some bleeding/discoloration AND it might still smell like pee. I haven't decided yet, but I'm leaning toward risking the discoloration. It's ALREADY had some nice yellow and brown tinting...what's a little more, right? I'm scared, though. It was so beautiful before.

At this rate, it's probably going to take a month to get it back. But compared to the 7 years I've waited, this means it will be back soon, and I'm having fun thinking about where to put it. It feels good. It feels like progress.

A week ago, it was going to cost me $150 total for the pickup/delivery, cleaning, de-urine treatment, and a protective coat. I'm scared of what 'further treatment' will do to the tab, but at this point I don't have much of a choice. And Mark was delicate enough not to mention any extra costs in the voicemail.

Either way, my little own four-legged cutemonster better stay away from it.

i want to be harsh

sometimes i wish i could be one of those awesome tough girls. chicks from raiders of the lost ark. lois lane. princess leia. that girl you know that you're thinking of.

maybe i need a good cool-runnings variet dose of self esteem. I see PRIDE. I see POWER. I see...chocolate! brb

i don't think i'm the other end of the spectrum - you know, the screamer-wailer chick you see in every tv/movie group of hostages.

no...i freeze up, get flustered, turn wimpy.

maybe i should get a metal bikini. psych myself into the role. boxing lessons or maybe some aikido too.

what do YOU like most about tough girls? what are some of their characteristics that can be...erhm, acquired?


going shopping in my mind

Dear Universe,

I would very much like to have this dress. K? Perhaps you could make it go on sale very soon so I could use my birthday present from my brother (thanks poopie!) on it. You know my size!

And some super cute shoes to match would be fantastic...I will leave those up to you to find. Isn't my flexibility endearing?

your bff

today's big news, and the name game

Today begins a stretch of two days in which I interview candidates to see who will be my new intern. Can you believe it? Interviewing...supervising....college intern...I'm excited.

Three girls and a guy are applying. Today is the guy, tomorrow is 5.5 hours of femality, one after another.

That reminds me. My 10th grade English teacher had us talking about names one time (I don't think it was part of the lesson. We were chatty in that class). She said she knew someone named Female ... pronounced fuh-MALL-ee.

Can you believe?

What's the weirdest name you ever MET? (and I don't mean lemonjello)



I'm working on a list of real ideas we can use to save some money around the house. The car, after all, needs its 90,000 mile service, and it's going to set us back about a thousand dollars. HELLO, economic stimulus package, it was nice to have you in my hands for TWO SECONDS.

We're renting, so there are some things that we can't/won't do. Such as converting the back yard to a sustainable vegetable garden. I'm all about making things myself, though - I can't wait til I'm done with the current bottle of laundry detergent so that I can make my own!

Read on, and then be heard!

- collect warming-the-shower water in a bucket and use that for flushes, for watering the plants, for bathing the dog, for mopping...
- drying clothes on a line
- lowering the water heater to 130 or 140
- fans instead of AC; closing the blinds on the sunny side of the house

Pretend I don't know anything. What would you recommend?

Also, what are some hardy vegetables that grow well in pots? I have a keen interest in growing things but I also have a black thumb to the extent that I even killed lucky bamboo but not by letting it dry up. (Sorry daffodils! Sorry poinsettia! Sorry all those seeds that didn't make it!)

babies Rn't us

My husband and I want to start a family, but not any time soon. (My new employer is not saddened by this fact.) He's still in school and we might have some big changes on the horizon. The timing isn't right. And gosh darn it, we're newlyweds! Good thing our families aren't rushing us....altho I'm sure they'd be thrilled...or at least most of them would be. I'm not sure my dad is quite ready to be a grandpa yet, not that that would hold him back any...

We employ a preventative method or two, and I try to keep aware of the calendar, so I'm not too worried. Nothing is 100% effective, though, so I'm prone to being a little bit anxious from time to time. Especially now. We are not in a good place for kids, not yet.

I, personally, have always been afraid of having a baby. Part of the reason I embraced abstinence before married was because I was dead terrified of ever having to tell my family I was having a baby. Terrified.

In the environment I grew up in, unwed mothers were derelects, caused shame for their families, deserved to be criticized and their families should grieve. Girls in my church who got pregnant were supported, once they 'confessed' to the church body. They would stand up, usually with their families and close friends, say what was going on, say their plans, and we as a church would commit to supporting them. A lot of people in the church didn't like this. Some people thought we were TOO supportive.

By the time I'd developed a mind of my own and didn't necessarily buy into the whole 'don't have sex because God says so' mandates all around me, I was old enough to appreciate the smarts of not having sex until I was in a position to be able to handle it. IE, married, husband working, enough money for me to stay at home, stable life. So I waited. And that was smart. And I'm proud of myself for waiting.

I know the vast majority of people wouldn't, and don't, make the same decision. I hope my kids will. I haven't quite figured out how to teach them this, and I don't plan on raising kids in an aggressively evangelical environment. I don't want my kids to be taught that modern science is out to get them, that the world is a dangerous place, and that we need to be constantly on the defensive. The messages really hit home with me...but I wasn't your average kid. I took everything to heart and believed it fervently. I'm old enough now to recognize the wisdom in what I was taught, but not respect the method in which it was delivered.

Having a healthy skepticism is good. Avoiding things that are dangerous and destructive is good. Living as the best you can be is good. Knowing who you are and why you are that way is good. Avoiding the pain and drama that sex brings is good. It was perhaps the best decision I ever made.

But writing off heaps of modern science is ridiculous - It took me getting to IB Higher Level Chem in high school to acknowledge that acid rain can and does exist. Vowing to exclude myself from the mainstream because 'drugs and alcohol were everywhere, and that's bad' led me to being judgmental and solitary, and relatively friendless, with huge misgivings about peers who didn't necessarily deserve that. Studying the Bible and learning about my faith and trying to find practical applications was a very good thing - and it helps when people ask you about your faith and you can respond and discuss it without being too theological or doctrinal or dogmatic - but approaching the world as a scary, harmful place that you need to defend yourself from is NOT a good way to live. You're operating out of criticism, judgment, and ignorance, instead of out of acceptance and love.

Growing up, I was taught to embrace what was right, and reject what was not. I wasn't taught how to filter this modus operandi. I never learned to coexist peacefully with my surroundings. I spent so much time judging and condemning and protecting myself that I missed out on a lot of fantastic opportunities to reach OUT with God's love and embrace people, real people, average people.

I was taught that there is always a right and always a wrong and that the Bible is definitive. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Bible. And it's pretty definitive about some things. But a lot of things are not quite as black-and-white as some folks had me believe. I do believe in absolutes, in truth, in right and wrong. I am not a relativist by any stretch. I am very comfortable with rules and standards and merit. More recently, though, I'm about using my own head.

Not everything is black and white. There's more than one way to make a pie. There's more than one way to wash dishes. And there's more than one way to make a family.

I've been reading this blog on Glamour Magazine's website. I know...Glamour isn't really my scene ... but this particular blog has really captured my attention. It's written by a woman who found herself pregnant at 26. The dad was her boyfriend, and they were committed, but not THAT committed. And he was not interested in being a part of what she calls 'Team Baby.' So she informed her parents and then moved home for a little while to get her new life together. Her folks seemed to get on board pretty fast (and actually were quite unhappy when she got her own place a couple months before the baby was born) and she has a really supportive network of family and friends.

She seems like a pretty tough cookie. She's had a lot of criticism and no shortage of hard times. But she's determined to be the best she can, and she doesn't seem to have succumbed to victimizing herself and agonizing (too much) about her situation. She's up front about saying she was stupid for not using a condom. Now she's making a good life for herself and her son. She's happy now, and I say, good for her.

Her circumstance isn't ideal. It's not what she envisioned. She doesn't have the husband she thought she'd have by now and she doesn't party it up in the City, either. But she loves her son, and she loves having him in her life. She made a mistake. A big one. It changed her life forever, and will always impact her son's life as well. So...what then? Does she deserve to be condemned? Should she be criticized and judged and rejected? Is she wrong?

What about me? Would I be wrong for having a baby now? Because even though I'm married now, it would be disastrous. Suddenly, because I have a husband and a wedding band, it would be deemed acceptable in the eyes of God...and God's people.... Even tho the kid would spend the first part of its life in a low-income home with me shipping it off to daycare because I had to work and Brian would be troubled either because he would be finishing his last year of school and thus not working to support his new family, or he'd be prolonging his education for the sake of working - a scenario that we both know would not be conducive to good mental health for either of us. But because we're married, baby = fantastic news and celebration?

To be honest, I'm scared of having kids. I'm scared of the responsibility, of the time commitment, of the distinct lack of sleep-in mornings. I'm scared of the money-sucking aspect. I'm scared of tantrums and choking and SIDS. I'm scared of the heartache. I'm scared I won't be able to keep up. I'm scared of being invisible.

In other words, I am not in the position to have a kid. But folks who criticize unwed mothers, babies out of wedlock, blah blah blah, wouldn't bat an eye at me. Even when a lot of these women are in much better positions to care for a child than I am. But because I say a vow in a church that I'll love my husband forever, I am passed over by the critics?

We, as Christians, should be showing God's LOVE, not speaking judgment on his behalf. Having a baby when you aren't ready is SCARY, husband or not. What better time is there to swoop in and show compassion and love? Why do so many Christians get it so wrong?

I could go on forever...oh wait, I'm already halfway there! Many props to anyone who read this far...you are the true trekkers. Either that, or you are THAT BORED. Either way, high fives! I have a feeling this won't be my last musings on the subjects of 'good families' and 'Christians who screw it up.' No shortage of opinions here!!


the bucket list!

So my dear sweet husband surprised me tonight with a DATE NIGHT...on a Tuesday! Who ever heard of that??? He cooked dinner while I tried to get some work done, and then told me to get dressed in ANYTHING I wanted. (Being someone who thrives on direction, this was NOT my idea of helpful...which I'm sure is part of why he did it that way!)

So I changed from my black silk work skirt into a dark denim one, and threw on my trusty but falling-apart birks (HELLO Germany I would like to come see you now and buy more of your awesome shoes!), and off we went. To the Byrd Theatre. To see the Bucket List! I even got special Byrd popcorn...mmmm.

Good movie. I recommend it. That's the extent of my review. It's the kind of movie that you can see with your inlaws and not feel awkward and also have good conversations about later. I may or may not have cried, along with most other female people in the theater, and I didn't have tissues. Brian may have offered me a crumpled up napkin with butter all over it.

I called it used. He called it scented.

in which we bore you to tears

I thought it might help kick-start the motivation to make sporadic public declarations of my progress in settling into the house and simultaneously preparing for our next move, whenever/wherever that may be.

Last month I got rid of a lot of things - about two plastic bins worth of stuff, and a crap-ton of plain old trash (and recycling). I still have half of one bin that nobody seems to want, so it'll be making its way to the thrift stores...eventually...

The one room in the house that I can consistently keep up is the bathroom. Honestly it's just too small and used too frequently to allow it to get out of control. Being forced to cut back on all my 'bathroom stuff' has been really good for me, though, seeing as I've long been one to collect lotions and gels and goops of all sorts. It's easy to say no, now. (For the record, soap is most likely to get used, and I love special soaps! Lotions, on the other hand, have a sad sad history with me.) Because this room is so small, it's not intimidating. I can handle it. And it never gets messy enough to get scary. The only time I spend more than about 6 minutes cleaning the bathroom is when I'm scrubbing the tub.

A couple of rooms are in ok shape and aren't ideal, but usually still functional. One is our bedroom. There are always piles of clothes and a little bit of other misc, but we rarely have trouble walking...my how low the standards are... I'm working at reducing the clothing piles bit by bit, and if nothing else, maintaining them instead of making them bigger... It's slow going, but bite by bite it's coming along. There's one corner of my dresser that I saw almost every day for a week. (granted, it's gone now...but not for long!) It's not much, but it's something...and I'll take anything right now. It's coming along. And we make the bed almost every day, which is nice. It's like an oasis of clean and smooth...

Another room that's hit-or-miss is the kitchen. There are just some days when I plain old forget to do dishes. Other days, I am too busy or just undisciplined. In the winter, we could eat dinner there. In January, I felt like things were coming together. Somewhere in there, it all fell apart and I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't even handle going into the kitchen. It was terrible...I felt terrible. I'm not sure when I decided to buck up and handle it, but it happened a few weeks ago maybe, and since then it's been a slow steady climb toward having my counter and table back. I realized the other day that it would take maybe 5 or 6 minutes to get it to the point where we could start eating dinner in there again. That's becomig important to me. It will happen, maybe in the next day or so even.

A couple of big but simple things need to happen for the rest of the house to come along. I have a pile of dresses that I need to find something to do with - old prom and bridesmaid dresses. As soon as they go off to consignment or charity land, and this old dresser set sells, I can arrange the guest room...which means that the guest room furniture can go into its room and out of my dining room, which means I will once again have access to my attic, which means that more sorting and settling and tossing can occur. It all depends on me deciding what to do with these dresses.

Then we can tackle the office. And after that, we can go back through what's in the attic and clear out even more.

A plan, see? A plan!


celebrating celebacy

I came across this and thought I'd share:

“A great way for both single men and women to celebrate their celibacy is by mentoring teens in their church or local community,” suggests Shannon Ethridge, author of the Every Woman’s Battle series. “Teach young people that they don’t need to have sex to be worthy of love. If anything, knowing how to have a healthy relationship without sexual involvement sets them up for faithfulness in future relationships—we all have to learn to say ‘no’ at some point. You will also help them avoid consequences that can negatively impact their lives such as unplanned pregnancy, STDs, infertility, low self-esteem, etc. As you pour wisdom into impressionable minds and realize what a difference these values could make in their lives, you’ll feel proud that you’ve made the commitment to celibacy and can be a great role model to others.”

Also, this:

“Celibate singles are free of encumbered relationships where they are unsure if someone really loves them for who they are or because they are participating in a sexual relationship,” explains Sean Covey, author of The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make in Life. “They don’t have to worry if someone is using them for sex because their relationship is not based upon the physical but upon true meaning and care. In particular, if you are a woman, you don’t have to wonder if he loves you just because of your body and because you are having sex with him. You can know that he is attracted to you not only physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This also applies to men, as well.”

When I chose abstinence, I did it for the wrong reasons (rejecting a culture that had been defined as 100% depraved, wanting to be 'holier' than everybody else). The quotes above, in my opinion, capture some of the RIGHT reasons.


best turkey ever

I just have to say. Yesterday we went over to Kyle's because he was making a turkey breast. He did it on the rotisserie on his grill. He basted it in this home-mixed herb butter.

It was amazing. Probably the best turkey I've ever had in my life, and I've had a lot of turkeys.

We sided it with some grilled asparagus (tossed in oil, kosher salt and pepper) and some wild rice.

Fresh strawberries for dessert. Oh, and some 'Reese's peanut butter cookies' from Kroger.

I say again, amazing. I don't want to eat anything now, because it will just be a disappointment.


waiting for....

Sometimes I feel stuck. like I'm treading water. like I'm waiting for something that's coming, but I don't know what it is and I don't know how long it'll take.

For a while, it was "after I move, I'll..." Then it was after the wedding. Then it was after I found a J-O-B.

Now, I've got it all. The house, that I'll be renting for at least the next 14 months. The supportive husband. The job. The stability. I have everything I thought I was waiting for.

I don't know why I still feel so stuck. And I'm tired, all the time. There is no inspiration or motivation or anything useful. I'm not sleeping well - something I'm used to when I'm anxious about something. But where's the anxiety now? What do I have to worry about?

I've been in this house since August. And yet, it feels like I just moved in. My artwork isn't hung. My clutter isn't sorted. My spare room isn't arranged. There are still boxes. Brian's just as unhappy about his office.

We finally have enough money not to worry, and I can even afford things like buying our FICO scores and Rescue Remedy for the dog. I can make doctor and dentist appointments. I can get my shoe fixed. We can get our suits and our wool coats cleaned. I can get some of my artwork framed or re-framed. I can set aside money for the car's 100,000 mile tune-up and STILL grow savings, if only just a little bit. Soon I'll be able to open a retirement account.

The things I don't want around are slowly going out the door. Not as quickly as I'd like, but leaving nonetheless. Sometimes they even leave cash in my hand! But why am I waiting until I "finish decluttering" to make my house beautiful? Why is all my artwork stacked along one wall until I'm ready to hang it? Why have I not yet felt ready to stop treading water and start moving forward?

I know a lot of people get stuck in ruts lasting much longer than 8 or 9 months. Some people get stuck for decades. I desperately don't want that to be me.

I feel happy right now. I feel really content. Things are going so well for us right now and I'm not scared of the future anymore. I'm also not so obsessed with the past. Stuff that used to bother me a lot just doesn't seem important now; I don't get overwhelmed as easily, either.

Maybe I lived in such a "can't act now" mentality long enough to make it hard to get going again. Maybe somewhere deep down, I'm scared that things could get just as bad, or worse. Sort of like the folks living in the Great Depression. Or could it be that I'm so used to being anxoius about the future that the fear is so deeply ingrained now that I don't even recognize it anymore?

I have nothing to be afraid of. I have more stability now than I've had in a long time. I even have a bit of a goal or a game plan - the next time we move, I want to take a lot less with us. Simple, yes? But shedding pounds and boxes of 'stuff' takes time and persistence and a steady hand.

I've spent the majority of my years dealing with something my mom once called 'emotional inconsistency.' In my world, it almost always felt like I was either heading into a storm, surviving it, or recovering from it. And the times when I didn't feel like I was in survival mode, I felt the way I do now...disoriented. It's almost like I don't know what to do when I'm not plodding along. I'm good at the grin-and-bear-it routine. I'm good at forcing myself to 'keep moving.' I just don't know how to run free, or even coast.

I LOVE this quietness, the simplicity, the ease of a daily routine with no major issues hounding me. It's just a foreign environment and I don't know how to fit in. So I feel stuck.


good news from the home front

for those of you wondering about the progress bobby frasor is making while rehabbing his knee, have no fear. seems like he's doing jusssssssssssst fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.