Monday, December 30, 2013

Being happy for others

Let's face it: we live in a competitive and superlative society, full of titles like "best," "biggest," "prettiest," "largest," "thinnest," "smartest," and so many more that it's actually kind of unbelievable how long it would take to list them all.

Add the concept of trying to come out on top to a world of ABCDFs in school, standardized tests, high unemployment, few jobs, siblings, scholarships, and parental/peer/sociatal pressure, and you've got a world of people perfectly bred to reach for their own ambitions without a thought to others' success--people who spend so much time tunnel-visioning their way through their own lives that they can actually grow to resent anything positive going on in the lives of those around them.

I'll admit that this is something I've struggled with throughout my upbringing. It's really hard to find your niche when you're a middle child, and you feel like you have to fight for your position among your siblings and peers. Yes, it seems unbelievable to some that birth order can have that strong of an effect on your psyche, but I'm here to tell you that it can...and very often does. I hesitate to say it, but unless you're a middle child, it's likely hard for you to empathize enough to fully grasp how middle-child-ness affects all aspects of childhood to the extent that it begins to shape your self. (But that's another story, and it's not one I harbor any resentment towards, in case your mind has gone there.)

So, on to my point. It took me up until the ripe old age of about 23 to begin to see the light. When I was pregnant, someone who has had fertility issues made a really snotty comment to me that was laced with jealousy and resentment and even undertones of "I don't feel you deserve to be a mother because you are unmarried, and your pregnancy was unplanned--HOW DARE YOU GET PREGNANT AND GET TO BE A MOM WHEN I'M STRUGGLING TO DO SO?" Even though being a mom has been a life-long goal for me and has made me the happiest person alive...and even though I'm a damn good mother because I love the living snot out of my child. (And, also, even though that person is now a parent.) No, I never called this person out; that's not in my character. But, I haven't said much else to them since that incident because I didn't appreciate having my success attacked.

I learned something, though. Something deep and profound and meaningful that has taken me to very happy places since it dawned on me. It doesn't matter who is better or smarter or faster or more successful. It doesn't matter who accomplished one of your goals before you got around to doing it. It doesn't matter whose kid learned something first. It doesn't matter which of your young-professional friends got a higher starting salary or a better job title. What matters is this: we're all on this journey of life together. We all have struggles. We all have hurdles, hoops to jump through, life transitions to maneuver, and, I'll say it, failures.

It matters how you treat other people's success. It matters how you talk to people. Because one day, all those people you supported and congratulated and were truly happy for...will do and be the same for you. They will make you feel validated, uplifted, and, beyond all, loved. And here's the kicker: those types of people--the ones who support all the positive in your life--will also be there for you when you hit rock bottom, without question or judgment. I don't know about you, but that's the type of person I want to both be and have in my life!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

This Christmas

Wow, where to start? The last week (or however long it's been since I last posted) has been so eventful--full of good and bad.

Miss Kimmy came down with a stomach virus on Friday. As soon as I left for work, she projectile vomited twice. Brooke is a saint for cleaning up that mess. Baby puke is no fun!

Little miss and I left for WV Friday after I got off work, and while she didn't puke in the car, she was NOT feeling well at all the whole weekend. She barely drank water on Saturday. She wouldn't eat. She finally started drinking water Sunday, except it made her vomit. Her poor little tummy was so upset. She must not have gotten too dehydrated, though, because she still went #2 just once a day. It was diarrhea, but still, much better than constant diarrhea with rash and all that. She's better now and has been eating like a little piggy!

I started having tummy troubles on Sunday that are still not fully resolved as of today. Jarrell, too. We're kind of a mess. I had to call off work on Monday, despite needing the money. Since Brooke was coming to watch Kimmy already, I used that morning to finish Christmas shopping, but I battled extreme nausea and bathroom runs all day. Ugh! We made a huge Christmas dinner yesterday, despite our stomachs turning us against even wanting to cook. Since our appetites are so dormant right now, we barely ate anything. We sat at the table forcing bites down. It was pretty pitiful! I must have overdone it because I threw up almost immediately after waking up this morning. (Sadly, I puked in the sink because it came up so quickly, and I'm pretty sure I clogged up the sink. Gonna have to call and have it looked at.) But, I'm sure we'll feel better in a few days.

We had a fun time in WV, despite Kimmy being so sick! We (really, Gugs and Mom) made Christmas goodies, like cookes and peanut-butter balls. Dad and I took my car to be serviced (state inspection, oil change, and tire rotation) and spent so much time farting around at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Rite-Aid that my car was done while we were still out, so we didn't have to go back out all day.

Kimmy and I had a LONG drive back on Sunday. I was so happy to get off the road and relax. It was also nice to get back to Jarrell.

Christmas Eve was spent cleaning, doing laundry, and making final Christmas preparations. Kimmy and I had a nice day together, but I kept thinking to myself all day, "I can't wait for her to open up her new toys tomorrow, so we'll have some new material to make believe and play with!"

We decided against going out to church, since Jarrell didn't get home from work until almost 8:00pm. Instead, I led a candlelight service in our living room right before Kimmy's bedtime. We prayed, sang, read Luke chapter 2, and took communion (saltine crackers and sparkling red grape juice). It was so nice! Kimmy whined the entire time because she was sleepy, so I was glad we were home, instead of being disruptive in church. It was also SO cold outside. I'm sure God appreciated the time we took to honor Jesus that evening.

I was giddy that night. I couldn't fall asleep until about 2:30am, and I was up by 7:00. I was just so excited for Kimmy's reaction! Santa Claus came around midnight and left Kimmy some great goodies: a play kitchen, a Mickey Mouse stuffed animal, and a Curious George stuffed animal.

Once my crew finally woke up a little after 8:00 on Christmas morning, we got to see how Kimmy liked her stuff! She didn't have much of a reaction at first--I think she didn't know if it was hers or not. Once she noticed her new babies in the floor, though, she went straight for George! I'm sad to say that after a long run in 1st, Mickey Mouse is now a strong 2nd place. Curious George and Kimmy have so much in common that I guess it was an inevitable switch.

She LOVES her kitchen! We had to pry her away from it to open up her play food, doll house, blocks, hug-me Elmo, 101 Dalmations Cruella DeVille car, clothes, books, and bath toys. She got so much awesome stuff! I'm glad it wasn't overdone, though. I saw so many pictures on Facebook of babies--little babies--with about 40 toys! I'm not judging; I think it's great to have new toys. For us, though, I just don't know where on earth we would store all that stuff. And does Kimmy tend to play with all her toys on a daily basis, but I think she would have been a little overwhelmed with more stuff than she got.

In fact, I think she was slightly overwhelmed. She woke up late last night crying and trembling, which is unusual for her. She remembered about her gifts and wanted to play, play, play into the night. I think she would've stayed up until about 4:00am if we had let her!

Jarrell got a 49ers jersey, Lord of the Rings extended edition Blu-ray set, The Heat on DVD, a calendar, and some yummy candy in his stocking.

I got way too much stuff. My parents and Gugs overdid it, as did Jarrell. Luckily, lots of it will experience shared usage. Here's the list: a beautiful gold-colored chenile throw for my couch, Downton Abbey seasons 1-3 on DVD, 3 cookbooks, a waffle iron, a toaster (YAY, finally! So tired of broiling and occasionally burning good bread), a 9x13 baking pan and lid, 2 round springform pans, a garlic press, a standing cheese grater, metal measuring spoons and cups, a jelly-roll pan with lid, a sweater, 2 tank tops, a pair of jeans, an IU hoodie, a calendar, the Divergent book series, Sophie's Choice on DVD, a stocking full of candy, and a few other things that aren't coming immediately to my mind. SO MUCH STUFF. I know it will all get used and am very thankful to have received so many nice things, but I feel bad that I didn't reciprocate the giving. Maybe next year I will have more money to do so.

Jarrell and I had a lazy Christmas, full of bathroom trips (I know...sorry), cooking, watching Downton Abbey and The Heat, playing with Kimmy, and napping. Well, Kimmy and I napped; Jarrell stayed up. We did manage to tidy up the living room, though, and we also did 2 loads of dishes!

Here's what we cooked:
  • breakfast casserole (tater tots, sausage, onions, eggs, cheese)
  • spinach-artichoke dip (SO GOOD!)
  • roast duck
  • Yukon gold potatoes fried in duck fat
  • sauteed green beans and asparagus
  • homemade yeast cloverleaf rolls
  • broccoli-rice casserole
  • deviled eggs
  • red velvet cupcakes
We were also supposed to make roasted acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, as well as rice pudding. I just knew it would be futile, since we were so non-hungry already. I'll make those things in a few days when we're feeling a little better.

It was so nice not to have anywhere to be on Christmas day. We've always been obligated to family in WV or PA on holidays. Not that our visits haven't been nice, but it was wonderful to not even have to leave the house! We literally woke up, walked down the hall, opened gifts, cooked in our kitchen, ate at our table, and walked to our bedrooms at bedtime. I hope every year is this easy!

I had an important meeting on Monday, and I'm waiting on the results of that. Yes, I'm being cryptic; I know. I just don't want to be too verbal about it just yet, and I also need to wait to hear something officially. But, I *think* I will be getting some big, giant, GOOD news soon! I hope.

That's all for now, I suppose. I think I'm going to start keeping a running list of topics to blog about. Things come to me occasionally before I've had time to properly gather my thoughts about them. Then as quickly as they enter my head for brainstorming, they're forgotten. Hence the big gaps in posts sometimes. So, I think a list will help.

If anyone is reading, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christian love

I've struggled to find these words all day, and I pray that God has pointed me in the right direction and will allow me to deliver a message from the heart.

As Christians, our lives are a quest. We are on a mission to find our purpose on earth--to live out our lives according to God's will and grand plan for our lives. We read the Bible and pray and worship and attend church and participate in philanthropy and ask for forgiveness. In so doing, we take pride in our good works and hope that we live lives pleasing enough to God to get us into heaven.

How often, though, do we stop doing and going and moving and simply love?

It's called The Golden Rule for a reason, right? We are called to love our neighbors as we would have them love us. We are called to treat others with the utmost respect and fairness. We are called not to judge or out-do or berate or belittle...simply to love.

We love our families, children, friends, pets, and mentors. Why, then, is it so hard for us to love strangers, criminals, liars, the homeless, homosexuals, the terminally ill, people of other races?

Jesus loves EVERYONE. Ceaselessly. Unconditionally.

Here's my take on this bizarre feat of human neglect for others. We fear that which we do not understand; therefore, we preach at, judge, and spew forth our ignorance.

(Yes, I will say "we." I am not infallible--it happens to each of us, being that we're human and all.)

The truth is, if we are judging, we are not loving. If we are condemning, neglecting, mocking, and otherwise showing disdain, we are not loving.

If you need a good read on human hypocrisy and the absence of love in the presence of ill will, read 1 John. I dare you. Go ahead: dust off that Bible. It's in the New Testament, right after 2 Peter.

Want a sample? Check out chapter 2, verses 9-11:

He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Seriously, this whole book is golden. It contains some of my favorite words in the entire Bible.

If you think you're doing good by spewing verse at someone who practices a different lifestyle or has different morals than you, you might consider this: is that action truly fulfilling your Christian obligation to love, forgive, and accept...or are you fulfilling a purely human and self-created obligation to try to share a very pinpointed belief with someone, and in so doing, potentially pushing that person further from Christ, further from feeling loved and accepted, and further from ever living in The Light?

I personally don't feel it is my duty to condemn another for how he or she was created. Just as I was born with a congenital skull deformity, so are homosexuals, for example, born with a propensity toward others of the same gender. (Disclaimer: no, I am NOT comparing homosexuality to a defect or illness; I'm simply pointing out my belief that all people are created exactly as God intended them to be.)

Hear me. Let us walk with love in our hearts. Let our actions show our true tenderness towards all people. Let us learn to embrace, rather than fear, that which we do not understand. Let us preach the good news that God will forgive anyone of his or her sins if they only ask; let us not, instead, put others down or push them away. Let us hold our tongues from judgment and listen to those around us. Dear Lord, help us eat, breathe, sleep, speak, and be love.

For me, true love and compassion for others is what this quest is really all about. I will continue to pray for my ability to embody that love.

More later.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas, ahoy!

This month is FLYING by. Seriously. You know it's bad when my response to someone asking Kimmy's age at Picture People yesterday was, "Uhhh, 16 months...I think. Wait, it's December! Wow, yeah, she is 16 months."

I'm so excited for Christmas! That being said, I must express my disdain about something. IU doesn't close for staff on Christmas Eve, meaning that's not a paid vacation day for full-time staff. Not that that would apply to me, anyway, since I'm part time. But how are you gonna make Black Friday a paid holiday and not Christmas Eve? Really? Black Friday over Christmas Eve?! If not for the fact that it's a major Christian holiday alone, then at least for the sheer fact that so many employees will take that day off, most offices will get none to few phone calls, and the cost of opening the campus that day will probably outweigh any money brought in by productivity.

This whole thing made me realize that I'm very strongly opposed to working on Christmas Eve. My sincere empathy to anyone in retail or the medical field forced to work. I'm sorry.

So, I took Christmas Eve off! The $40 that I would have made from working is a small price to pay for spending my day with Kimmy (and Jarrell, after he gets off work), enjoying our new (and old) holiday traditions, like going to a candlelight service, baking, watching Christmas movies, and talking about Jesus.

I've been making lots of fun lists, and I've got our holiday festivities all planned out!

Christmas Eve:
• homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast
• appetizers all day...sausage balls, cheese ball, summer sausage, crackers, buffalo chicken dip, etc.
• baking pies and Santa's cookies and doing cooking prep
• candlelight service in the evening
• open 1 gift (Kimmy's gift is a Little People nativity)
• egg nog
• enjoying a fire in our fireplace

Christmas morning:
• breakfast casserole and fried apples and sparkling cider
• presents
• cooking
• family nap time

And here comes the best part!

Christmas dinner:
• spinach-artichoke dip with toasted baguette slices
• roast duck
• duck gravy
• potatoes fried in duck fat
• Lisa Haddox-Heston's broccoli-rice-mushroom casserole
• roasted acorn squash
• sautéed asparagus and green beans
• deviled eggs
• Mamaw Mabel's famous yeast rolls
• rice pudding
• bread pudding
• red velvet cake
• iced tea
• wine

I'm so excited to eat! Yes, that's a lot of food, but quite unlike our Thanksgiving feast (which Jarrell assured me several of his work friends would attend, despite my strong [and coincidentally valid] belief to the contrary), we are keeping the dishes small this time. Hopefully, we'll only be left with 2-3 days of leftovers.

I am eagerly awaiting Christmas morning! I'm curious to see what Kimmy thinks of her gifts, sure, but I'm also excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus and read some of my favorite scriptures from Luke to my Kimmy.

1 week left!


In other news, we got our family Christmas picture made last night, finally! We don't have time (or money) for personalized photo cards this year, but thanks to a great Groupon for a photo package, we have plenty of wallets and 4x6s to send to family and friends tucked in Christmas cards! For everyone else, I am going to make an e-card to send out. Gotta spread Christmas cheer as well as I can!

Kimmy and I are also going to WV this weekend for a quick trip. I've got to get my car's annual state inspection done, as well as an oil change and tire rotation. I think we are also going to do a little pre-Christmas celebration on Saturday. Should be lots of fun, minus that long drive!

More later.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Picking and choosing

I am a constant observer. People-watching is actually one of my favorite hobbies. I find people very entertaining. Ah, the life of an introvert!

One of my most frequent observations is the pick-and-choosy-ness of people: more specifically, the die-hard following of one idea, juxtaposed with the blatant ignoring of one of its key components. It's a complex phenomenon, which always leads me to think, "What on EARTH is that person thinking?"

Need examples? No problem!
• exercising and eating healthy with a goal of reaching optimal health...while chain smoking on a daily basis
• strictly representing one political opinion without ever thinking through another alternative, when said alternative may negate the former idea
• complaining about never having any money, but constantly making stupid purchases like eating out every day
• religious denominations that are based solely on one idea from the Bible and pass said idea off as pure gold, while discrediting other denominations for being based on a different solitary idea...all while worshipping the same God
• being a germaphobe, but cleaning with germy things, like sponges and dish rags and dish towels and mops
• choosing one style of parenting and downing other methods, while having actually never tried them

That's all my sleepy brain can come up with right now, but there are actually zillions of other examples floating around in my head somewhere.

Anyway, I'm not saying I'm above the human tendency towards occasional hypocrisy. I'm simply pointing out an observation I see a lot.

I wonder what causes us to have such intense preferences for things? I wonder if some people realize they're ignoring key details in their quests for "the best _____" or "the most _____"?


In other news, I've been quite the dreamer lately, stewing on grand plans of novel-writing, children's-book-writing, re-honing my talent for sketching and watercolor, and learning to crochet. My problem is just that I never actually get started. If I were rich, I'd go on a writing retreat in some fancy-schmancy, tropical locale. Maybe I'd learn how to get started on item #1 or #2. One day.


Friday, December 13, 2013

The search for stability

Although I love my job, I think most people know that I'm actively seeking a full-time position. I'd love to stay at IU and particularly the office of admissions, but no matter where I end up, I really just NEED health insurance. I've grown tired of the uncertainty of Medicaid, and I'm definitely at my wit's end with the amount of debt I've accrued. My credit is wrecked--I don't even want to know how bad it is now.

Anyway, my suspicions were correct that lots of IU positions are opening up for January start dates. I've applied to 12 full-time jobs over the course of the last two weeks. TWELVE! Those odds have got to work in my favor, right? I'm feeling optimistic, and I sincerely hope that this round of applications contains my answered prayer. Tis the season; I hope Jesus agrees and will work favorably on my behalf. (I could also use your continued prayers!)

I have finally come to the conclusion that this period of unemployment and financial hardship has been a blessing in disguise. I've realized just how supportive my parents are and that they always have my back. I've been forced to spend lots of time evaluating myself and my spending habits. I've had sufficient time away from my lines of credit and have gotten into the habit of being scrupulous with my money. I'm ready to budget and make smart choices once I get a higher stream of income and can start the journey into the black. And, most importantly, I've had hours and hours, weeks, months, nights, and days of uninterrupted time with my Kimmy-girl. I've gotten to watch her learn and grow, conquer milestones, see the world through her own creative perspective, and enjoy each moment of her every day. She is the biggest blessing, and throughout any storm, I am always thankful for her light in my life.

I'm here. I'm ready! Hit me, life (in a good way)!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A favorite poem

I regret to admit that I am terribly behind in my readings of classic, romantic, and contemporary poetry--an activity that I could probably spend entire days doing, if only I had the time.

Thanks to my background in music, my studies in song have been directly linked with poetry for years. I have walked parallel to beautiful poems and become entwined with their meaning for years. It is not always the music in a song that tugs at my heart, but the words. Not always just the words, though, but the way the words are linked with the notes and the harmony. This symbiotic phenomenon is what gives song, and poetry, meaning to me.

One of my favorite choral pieces is Randall Thompson's "Choose Something Like a Star," titled after Robert Frost's poem of the same name. I think this poem is actually one of my favorite ever. In fact, when prompted to create a screen name for anything web-based, I frequently go with "talkfahrenheit." This song was one of the first things I ever sang that moved me so deeply I got chills and felt my eyes filling up with tears. I think the words are profound, and they inspire me to think about life beyond the routinized daily bubble.

"Choose Something Like a Star" - 1916
Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)
O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud –
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.
Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.
It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.



An unwelcome guest

Hey, today's Jarrell's 25th birthday! But that's not the point of this post.

So, last night I was taking a shower. It was just before midnight, so I was really enjoying getting to unwind under the super-hot water before bedtime. I was washing my face early on in the shower, and when I turned around to shampoo my hair, there was a giant spider hanging about an inch from my face!

I'm actually not afraid of spiders, bugs, or snakes. Give me ample time to observe a critter, and I'll take it down with stealth and not a twinge of fear. I just don't like being taken by surprise. It makes me panic, and I'm not always quick to adapt in such situations. Last night, though, I was lightning quick! I swatted that sucker down into the soapy water and let it drown.

I think it was some variety of daddy long-legs; although, it didn't have the super-long spindly legs and signature round, reddish-brown thorax. May have just been a Midwestern variety--I haven't done much Girl-Scouting-type nature exploration in this area, so I'm not sure what's indigenous and what isn't.

Anywho, I'm glad I didn't encounter the spider with my fingers while I was shampooing my hair. I probably would have fallen down and taken the shower curtain with me on the way.

Oh, the adventures of my life.


Today's agenda = finishing out my shift at work, running a few errands with the Kimmy, baking Jarrell some birthday cupcakes, and taking them to work for everyone to enjoy. Then tonight, I'll be making baked BBQ chicken leg quarters, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and probably some steamed spinach, too, just to get it out of my fridge.

I'm sure it'll be a great birthday for Jarrell--heck, any birthday would be nice and relaxing after the huge surprise I gave him on his birthday 2 years ago (a positive pregnancy test)!

More later.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cocoa brownies: v.4738192847651

I'm always on the hunt for a brownie recipe I actually like. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, so I've really struggled to find a recipe that strikes a nice balance for my taste. I've tried about half a million recipes, and none of them seem to do anything for me.

Here is a summary of my preferences in the brownie-making journey so far:

• oil > butter
• cake texture > fudge texture
• cocoa powder > melted bittersweet chocolate
• 1 c. sugar is plenty
• 1/2 c. cocoa powder is plenty
• walnuts + cake texture = very unappealing

Like I said, I've done my fair share of experimentation, so imagine my surprise when I came across the most delicious recipe yesterday!

Let's have a look:

1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
*secret ingredient TBA in a bit*

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oil, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Fold in gradually. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake about 20-25 minutes.

Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, yeah...brownies, schmownies. What's so special about this recipe?" Well, for one, these brownies have a great texture with just a little crunch on the edges and a cakey, but moist texture inside.

Here's the kicker, though. You ready? Top these babies with 1/2 a can of sweetened condensed milk as they're cooling! Talk about YUM.

If you didn't know, sweetened condensed milk is like a raw version of caramel. You've got dairy; you've got sugar. There's actually a crock pot recipe for overnight caramel sauce that basically just tells you to cook an unopened can of the stuff completely submerged in water, then open up a surprisingly gooey can of perfectly golden caramel. Neat, right?

Well, sweetened condensed milk on a pan of warm brownies sets up like an icing-caramel-glaze hybrid. It's absolutely delicious!

My only complaint with this recipe is that it makes a rather small pan of brownies. I don't mind because brownies aren't something I can eat a lot of at one time. However, my next project is to figure out how to double this recipe without making anything disproportionate, flavor-wise. I guess that's a story for another day.



Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday's snow adventure

Friday was quite an extraordinary day. We had heard the weather forecast of Winter Storms Cleon and Dion all week, and, sure enough, we woke up to several inches of snow on Friday morning. IU hadn't cancelled classes, so I went about my business as usual and got ready for work.

7:00am rolls around, and Brooke (Kimmy's sitter, cutie Korbyn's mom) was running late. Understandably so, since the roads were AWFUL, and the snow was steadily coming down. We told her to take her time and not even worry about being late. (She made it here safely, thank god.) Meanwhile, Jarrell and I decided it would be foolish for me to drop him off at work and drive back across town to work, then come back out with Kimmy in the evening to pick him up. So, I rode the bus to work.

Now, the bus doesn't stop right at the Office of Admissions. It's about a 5-minute walk from the bus stop to work. Not a bad or strenuous walk in normal weather. Not such an easy walk in 4-and-counting inches of snow. Not only had I already made the 7-minute walk to the bus stop from our apartment, but now I had to walk in the snow some more to get to work.

I ended up being 10 minutes late, but here's the best part: I didn't have snow boots! I chose the pair of shoes with the best traction, given my track record of epic wipeouts in the snow. By the time I got to work, both shoes and socks were absolutely soaked. I had to take them off to let them dry. I even had to wring water from my socks. I was frozen all morning at work.

5 out of 11 of us showed up. It was an especially slow day, so it was easy to be there. All in all, an enjoyable Friday shift.

By the time I left, my socks and shoes were mostly dry. But guess what I did less than 2 minutes after leaving? Yep, stepped right in a puddle of slush. This time the snow was 7 inches and counting. I made it to the bus stop, caught the (heated--woo-hoo!) bus, and made the trek back up the hill to my apartment.

Whew! What an adventure. The babies, Brooke, and I bundled up, and we all drove to the leasing office so that I could drop off my rent check. (Thanks, Brooke!)

Once we got back home, I was feeling pretty over the snow, to be quite honest. But, this was my Kimmy's first big snow! I couldn't pass up the opportunity to bundle her up and go play in it! We ate lunch and did just that.

I took the obligatory indoor pictures of her all bundled up and layered in, stuffed like a sausage in her snow suit, face covered in Vaseline to prevent windburn. Then, out we went!

She was a little top-heavy in her gear and kept falling over. Haha! She didn't know what to think at first, but being creative and curious like the Kimmy always is, she started eating the snow and having a great time! We only stayed out about 15 minutes, but I know it completely made her day. I love making my girl smile.

Once we were inside, wet layers stripped and left in the bathroom to dry, we had a yummy treat. I had to carry on Gugs's tradition with my little miss. She used to always make us soup and hot chocolate after playing in the snow, so I did a toddler-friendly play on that for the Kim-bird: chocolate milk with a little egg nog! She loved it! We both took a long afternoon nap after our outdoor adventure--very enjoyable. 

Total snowfall: about 10 inches...maybe more, since I haven't been back outside to find out. It was definitely an unforgettable day, but I think I will just call off work next time!

More tales later.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mortality and going with the flow

Ever since I had Kimmy, I've become equipped with an ever-growing sense of mortality (and a steadily-increasing anxiety level). Granted, I've always been somewhat of a worrywort, with my Type-A personality and all. but it's tangibly worse now that I'm a parent.

It's amazing how many mundane, harmless things become dangerous once you have a little one walking (more like running...constantly) around. Outlets, toilets, corners, walls, cords, anything smaller than a ping pong ball, cold weather, viruses, and on and on and on. I'm constantly having mini-freakouts about my daughter's safety. I still even catch myself rushing in her room at night if I wake up to pee, just because I want to make sure she's still breathing and that a kidnapper hasn't broken through her window and snatched her from her bed. Crazy, right?

(Believe me, I'm getting to a point, eventually.)

I think I also have a heightened sense of mortality, due to losing my sister so suddenly, so young. Add to the list of deceased loved ones and friends: my Nunu ("nuh-nuh"--great-grandmother), Grandaddy, aunt and grandmother who I never met, a 4th grade classmate, several fellow high-schoolers when I was in high school, a friend's husband of less than a month (whose wedding I was supposed to sing in, except we had to move apartments that weekend, instead), and a classmate from college (who knitted Kimmy a beautiful baby blanket and pair of booties just one year before she passed from cancer)...

...finally, my former Girl Scout leader, who just so happened to be one of my very favorite people on this earth, Deana Morgan. Her sense of humor, intelligence, wit, resourcefulness, demeanor, faith, and love were (and still are, and probably always will be, at least in my mind) unmatched. I found out about her death right as I was wrapping up my bedtime routine the night of Kimmy's birthday party. She was such a good friend and person. Thanks to her genorosity, we were able to purchase the car seat we wanted for Kimmy. We didn't have to buy diapers from the time she was born, basically, until she was a year old. She helped us so much, even if it didn't seem like much at all to her. She made such a strong and lasting impact on my life.

(Getting there...)

Death affects me very deeply. It drills down into my being and tries to uproot the soil in which I am rooted. I don't have to be close with someone to be very strongly affected by his/her death. That's the empathy in me, I guess.

What I'm getting at is this: life goes on. People move on and forget, and life's tide brings them nearer and drifts them further away in different seasons. Kids grow; new things happen. The only way to move forward is to LIVE. I'm talking with no regrets, right now, in the present, good and bad. Take it all in stride and keep moving forward. That doesn't mean you can't be sad or worried or cry your eyes out some days. It just means that you have to be resilient and push through it!

That's what I'm trying to do. Some days, I'll admit, it's a terrible struggle. Some days, I have no faith in humanity and want nothing to do with anyone, other than my child. In reality, though, I've got my God, my family, my friends, and my faith, and that's really all I need to be happy.

I'm alive; you are, too! Live it up and enjoy each moment!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Follow through

My friends love me. My family loves me. God loves me. But all of these people know that I have trouble following through with things. One of my biggest weaknesses!

I absolutely love writing. After my sister died in high school, writing became a release for me. It helps me clear my head, and I love the imegery and stress-relieving feeling I get from my thoughts escaping my head out of my fingertips. It doesn't get much more cathartic for me, especially now that I'm taking a hiatus from music for an undetermined length of time.

Lots of new things have happened since I last posted. My baby is 1--well, 16 months this Saturday. She has learned SO MUCH. I can't even list all the things she has learned in the last 3 months. People say babies are little sponges, and it's the absolute truth. I also have a part-time job now at IU undergraduate admissions. Love it, but I wish it was full time. I really crave that stability, especially for health benefits. I'm still looking for a full-time position, and I trust that God will point me in the right direction soon. (Maybe I can make it a point to start blogging again, since I usually have some downtime between phone calls!)

Jarrell and I are good--we will have been together for 6 whole years in March. 6 years?! Can you believe it? I can't. Well, I can, but I can't. I love him. I have never found a closer match. I strongly believe he is my true intellectual counterpart and the person God picked out just to be my companion. He has taught me so much about people. We may look completely different on the inside, but it doesn't even matter. One of the best life lessons I've ever learned!

I'm thankful for the moments in the present right now. I've been able to get a decent amount of presents under our Christmas tree. Rent is up to date. Power is on. Insurance is paid. Things could definitely be better, financially speaking, but we are okay right now. It's been about a year since things took a downward turn for me with school/unemployment/moving to Indiana, etc. I'm trying to keep my head on straight and nip that depression/regret/anxiety in the bud and continue moving forward.

That being said, I have some big plans for 2014! I'm going to try my hand at direct sales. I know one product line I want to sell, and I am debating among several others for a 2nd product line to sell. I think I can do really well with this. I have the motivation to make more money, and I have learned a lot about product promotion from hosting a few parties under my friend-consultant's names. I'm also pretty persuasive, I've discovered. I'm excited! Now I just have to wait until I have the money for start-up costs.

Oh, I should also mention that we have found the best babysitter for Kimmy!!!! I come home to a smiling baby every day, and my miss loves her little almost-2-year-old playmate, too. We are blessed with a trustworthy sitter, but we are also blessed with our growing friendship with her! I just wish we could afford to pay her more. She definitely deserves it; that's for sure.

Anyway, I'll wrap this up now. Happy reading, anyone who may be reading this.