Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Traditions

I feel like Leap Year should be more than just another day of February. It only comes around every four years, unlike that predictable Christmas holiday that shows up on the same date every stinkin’ December. That was a joke. Think about it though. April Fool's gets more attention than Leap Year. That's weird to me.

I turned to trusty Google for Leap Year Traditions. I discovered that Greek people don’t like to get married in a leap year and Scottish people think the year of the leap is bad for sheep. Oh, and the origins are shaky but quite old that women are allowed to propose to men on leap year without being judged—and there is usually some penalty if a man refuses.

image from Wikipedia


Not a lot of ancient pagan ritual to work with here. Time for me to come up with some traditions of my own.*

Since we use leap year to realign man’s arbitrary delineation of time with nature’s natural order, I think symbolism around alignment would be appropriate. I also like the backward nature of women being allowed to do things they normally aren’t supposed to do, and the same for men.

I officially propose the following Leap Day Traditions

  • Holiday colors are black and white to represent the starry night sky and realigning time with the universe. Traditional gift is a houseplant (a bit of nature). If the houseplant survives until the next leap year four years down the road, it is a sign of good health and prosperity to come. 
  • Traditional activities—get an adjustment with a chiropractor, get a relaxation massage to align your body and spirit, rollerblade on in-line skates. Bars offer “Gentlmen’s night” where there is no cover charge for guys and guys get half priced drinks. Women get an automatic 25% discount with mechanics for being taken advantage of over the years. Pranks to test people's balance are encouraged - like tripping your friends or daring each other to slide on ice.
  • Traditional meal should offer a dish of every color of the rainbow—a balance of color. 
  • The traditional dessert should be chocolate cake. Seriously—why isn’t that the official dessert of any holiday yet? 

 Those are my suggestions. They will be in full swing next Leap Year. What else can we add to the list?




*Actually, the time is passed, since Leap Day is almost over. I should have started a month ago and this post would have gone viral and everyone would be wearing black and white and tripping each other. Oh well. At least I have four years to plan for the next one. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

On Being a Dog Person

Birds of a feather flock together. And dog people pack together.

I am a dog person.

Looking back, I think everyone on the street I grew up on had a dog. All my friends did and neighbors did. It was like this obvious unit to any happy home.

My freshman year in college was the only time in my life that I have not had a dog. My sophomore year after Justin and I had been married for about eight months, we got Katie, our small toy poodle. We weren't allowed to have her in our apartment. We trained her to use the litter box and no one ever found out.

Not every family has a dog. I have learned that. People don't like the mess or the responsibility (it isn't fun to find someone to take care of the dogs when we go out of town isn't fun, I'll admit it). Dogs just don't make sense in their lives for whatever reason. I get that.

There is a big difference between people who don't see themselves as dog owners, and people who readily admit they are not dog people.

My beloved pets

I posted on Facebook the other day that I don't trust people who readily admit they are not dog people. I've gotten a lot of flack, but I stand by my assessment.

Let me explain. I am not talking about those people who don't really seem themselves as dog owners. Two of my best friends are in this camp. But when they see a dog (or one of my dogs), they'll pet them. They'll say how cute a puppy is. They'll even briefly imagine life with a dog. "If I ever had a dog, I think I would be more of a cocker spaniel type."

Then there are those people who say out loud without any hesitation, "I am NOT a dog person." There's usually a lot of emphasis in this statement, as well as some underlying judgment.

I know people like this. I am friends with people like this. They are not bad people. But I don't trust them. This pretty much goes for anyone who rules out an ENTIRE species of animal or all animals altogether.

Judge me all you want, because I am judging you. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Celebrities I've Loved

Thank you, Rachel, for the letting me copy your post.


I "married" my brother's Bon Jovi poster as a little kid. Even to this day, he has such a charming smile.

Then there was Gary from Are You Afraid of the Dark? He was a little nerdy, but I fell hard for him. He was bold, brave, and a leader, but sensitive and smart.


And then Newsies happened and I lost my heart to Christian Bale. I memorized all the songs and would longingly warble "Santa Fe" in my backyard, fantasizing about running away to magical New Mexico with Jack. 

When Little Women came out, my love for Christian Bale was still going strong. After seeing the movie for the first time, I cried for three hours. I was so upset that Jo had refused--not Laurie--my darling Christian.



Ever since I was a teeny girl, I loved Pirates of Penzance. But as a young teen, I suddenly fell hard for Frederic (Rex Smith). He had the most amazing mouth. The curl of his lips...my heart flutters. And the smooth seduction of his flawless tenor...

I just found this video on YouTube and I still swoon when I hear him sing. 




Then came Daniel Day Lewis. He is the child of a poet laureate, people. So hot. He starred in the movie adaptation of a literary classic. He has cheekbones you could cut a diamond with. This love affair is ongoing. 


TLC's While You Were Out introduced me to hunky Andrew Dan Jumbo. Gorgeous. Hilarious. British accent. Handy with power tools. Insta-crush.

One of my more current crushes is Ryan Reynolds. Hot as all hell. Charming, devilish smile. Funny. Intelligent. Just all-around yum.

Who are the celebrities you have loved?

 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just a Little Advice

Own your actions. Expect anything you say to be repeated to the last person on earth you would want to hear it. Expect anything you do to be discovered by those you would wish to keep in the dark. Own your actions.

I've learned that lesson time and time again. Usually when I feel betrayed that someone has "outed" me on something I said or did. People wiser than me have brought me to the understanding that my actions and words truly are fair game, even if I say something in confidence or do something I think no one will know about.

Yesterday I ended up hurting someone. Completely unintentional. I relayed information openly told to me, although the person telling me this intended it to be in confidence. I cross my heart that at no time did she say or even imply the information was told in confidence. And I "outed" her to the last person in the world she wanted to know that stuff. I felt horrible. Just sick. I couldn't undo what I had done. I possibly damaged the relationship between these two other people and I am certain I killed the relationship I had with this other woman.

Self-loathing is not a good feeling and I was drowning in it all day yesterday.

A night's sleep brought me a little perspective. I still feel badly for what happened, and though I caused it, it wasn't my fault. Communication is always a two way street.

Doesn't make me feel any better about hurting someone though. *Sigh.*

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mouse in the House

We had a mouse in our house!!!

We found evidence when Justin was cleaning the basement. I got a humane trap. Now, I am not necessarily against killing pests but when I thought about it, I was more comfortable with letting a live mouse scamper out of a cage than with prying a dead, mangled body out of trap.

We trapped a tiny, cute little rodent within two days. We took it out to the country and released it in a field full of mule deer where a falcon is sure to never, ever find it.




The mouse ate its way through the cracker - a nice snack - and darted off into the foothills of Idaho.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Found My Prince

"Don't let Disney screw you over...princes don't exist."

I read a quote similar to this on Pinterest tonight. At first, I was like, "Yeah! They don't! If I had known that at fifteen, I would have saved myself a lot of heartache!"



But then I really, really thought about it.

I have a prince.

I have a real-life fairy tale.

Yes, I consider myself lucky. But I don't think I consider my happy ending an exception. I believe and know that there are good men out there. Princely men. They'll be disguised in Polo shirts and faded jeans which isn't as easy to identify as a gleaming suit of armor, but they are there.

I just wanted to publicly honor my prince tonight. Here are a few glimpses of my love story.

We met at a croquet social in college. He was the referee. I kept cheating just to keep his attention on me. He knew I was cheating...and let me get away with it. He played his guitar and sang around a bonfire. He stole my heart.

Justin proposed after ten days of dating.

During college, Justin was the night manager of the school cafeteria. One Valentine's day, the school had a few big events. One included a blood drive. The other was a lobster dinner at the cafeteria. I donated blood for the first time that day and felt fine. At dinner that night, the cafeteria was packed and the line was hella long. My blood donation caught up with me and I passed out. Apparently, lots of people crowded around me - I was a spectacle. Justin hopped over the food counter in a daring leap, scooped me in his arms and rushed me to a booth where I could lay down (and he could pull my skirt down for modesty). He was my hero.

We had been married for a couple of years when the topic of a certain pond near Troy, Idaho, came up. Justin had been there a few times and I never had and expressed a desire to go. Justin told me to get my coat. We were going. It was probably one o'clock in the morning. Snaking through the thick northern Idaho forests, we came upon the pond. Thick mist had settled over the water and a full moon illuminated the fog with a fairy tale glow. Geese and swans swam gracefully across the pool. It was spontaneous and beautiful.

Justin proposed to me twice. He thought his first spontaneous proposal on the sidewalk in front of his dorm wasn't romantic enough so after we were married, he asked me again at my parents' house on Christmas Eve. Down on one knee. The speech. The Christmas tree glittering behind him. And yes, I got another diamond ring.

This Valentines we decided not to do too much for each other. Still, I came home to a giant box of chocolates, a rose, and bottle of perfume.

Another Valentines Day I came home to Winnie the Pooh (one of my favorites) Valentines all laid out on the floor in the shape of a heart. On the back of each Valentine was written a reason why Justin loves me. I taped them all in my journal and have them today.

In New York, after I felt like my birthday had been a bit of a letdown, Justin managed to sneak away and surprise me with a really sweet note and an amazing box of chocolates.

I remember doing a 9-hour drive once and not turning on the radio once during the whole length of the trip. We talked the entire time. Proof that our relationship is super solid.

There are big stories like that. But the little things mean so much.

Justin has never called me a name. Well, only good names like sweetheart. He's never once said I am being a jerk or even a dork or anything along those lines.

Justin treats my parents with love and respect. There are no "mother-in-law" issues there. I love that about him.

Justin trusts me with his tools and "guy stuff." When I say, "I can't do that," he always responds with, "Sure you can. You just haven't learned."

We go to bed together every night.

We watch our shows together. I would never dream of watching the latest episode of New Girl before he got home and he wouldn't do it to me. Sometimes we are weeks behind the airing schedule (thank goodness for DVR!) but we'd rather watch TV together.

Justin has written several amazing, amazing songs for me. And the sweetest lullaby ever for our daughter.

Not once has Justin come home to a messy house and said, "What have you done today?"

No matter what budget we establish for a gift giving holiday, Justin blows it on me.

Justin makes my birthday cakes every year. Whatever I request. I've had German chocolate, red velvet, cheesecakes and more. The frosting is always homemade too. :)

I really could go on and on. But I'll spare you. The point is...I found my prince.





Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Details About Our Adoption Match


I suppose everyone wants details about our adoption match. I love how when adoptions come together, they are just so meant-to-be.

I love this quote by Hugh Jackman who adopted his two children due to infertility. “Everyone’s in the right place with the right people. It sounds airy-fairy, but it’s something we feel very deeply.”

Yeah, it kind of does sound airy-fairy...but I know God has a hand in how this all happens. Anyway...on to the details! 

Remember my last adoption update? I mentioned we were working with a lawyer who specializes in private adoptions? This is the route we are taking.

Let me back up a little…

Back in the beginning of January, a friend from high school named Nicole messaged me on Facebook saying that her brother-in-law is an adoption attorney and was looking for more families to represent. Nicole knew my husband and I wanted to adopt through my incessantly self-serving Facebook and blog posts. :) She asked if she could forward our info to her brother-in-law. Um…let me think about that for .00041 seconds. YES!!!

The next day, the lawyer called and explained how he connected birth mothers and adoptive families through private adoptions. He spent two years serving a mission in the Marshall Islands and speaks Marshallese. There happens to be a significant population of Marshallese people living in Arkansas, including a woman he knew during his stay on the Marshall Islands. The woman he knows refers women in unplanned pregnancies considering adoption to this lawyer because he speaks their language. (BTW, the lawyer is Paul Petersen. You can contact him at pdplaw@gmail.com.)

We gave the lawyer the go-ahead to show our website to potential birth moms.

We were presented with a match on February 1st and took some time to get some questions answered and search our hearts. I discovered that two women I know from my childhood also went through this lawyer. It assured me to know that people I personally know have had upstanding, good experiences with this lawyer.

With all our questions answered, we took a few days to search our hearts and pray about the situation. We officially accepted the match last week.

Here are frequently asked questions for all my hungry readers:

Due date:
June 19, 2012

Gender:
Ultrasound happened on 2/7 and says the baby is a girl.

Where will the baby be born? 
Arkansas, United States

What are the birth parents like?
Birth parents are in good physical and mental health. All indications say the adoption will go smoothly with no contestation. Both birth parents are from the Marshall Islands and have lived and worked in Arkansas for some time, so our baby will be of Pacific Island descent. We do have other details on the birth family, but these details are private and it’s not my place to share them with the blogosphere.

Will we have to go to Arkansas?
Yes. We will need to be in Arkansas for ten days (let me know of any fun things to do in that state) and then we will bring the baby home.

Will we have an open adoption?
Yes. I haven’t been in contact with the birth family yet, but hopefully I will soon. We will meet and spend time together at the time of the birth and hopefully will continue contact and openness.

Is this through the same agency we used for Jocelyn's adoption?
No. Although we were listed with them, we never stopped our personal finding efforts. About half of all adoptions happen through word of mouth and this proves it. This is considered a private adoption because it is facilitated by a lawyer, not an adoption agency. 

Where are the Marshall Islands?
The Marshall Islands or, more accurately, the Republic of Marshall Islands or RMI are located in Micronesia, west of Hawaii, east of the Philippines, and north of Fiji. Basically, WAAAAY out there in the South Pacific.

photo from Wikipedia


What do Marshallese people look like?
They are Pacific Islanders like Hawaiians, Tahitians, Samoans, etc. They have brown skin, big dark eyes, and black hair. The RMI was governed by Japan for quite awhile, so some Japanese ancestry is there as well.   

I have found a few blogs of children of Marshallese descent. If you want to take a look, check out these links.

Link 1  


How does Joci feel about becoming a big sister?
It depends on the day. When I ask her if she wants a baby sister, she often says, “No.” But when I ask her if she wants a baby to come to our house and if she wants to help change diapers and feed the baby bottles, she gets excited.

What happens next? 
Like any expectant parents, we get things ready for the baby to arrive. We will correspond with the birth family as much as they want and plan our long trip to Arkansas in June. We will fly out there for the birth, stay ten days in the state per Arkansas law, possibly finalize the adoption (Arkansas let's you finalize right away), and come home and have a big party. 

We are thrilled and very fortunate. A four month wait seems so long compared to our seventeen-day wait for our last adoption, but it will be nice to have extra time to prepare (and hopefully not stress out too much). Adoption plans are fragile and fall through all the time. Yes, I am worried about that. It is a risk of any adoption and we are keenly aware of what could happen. But worrying doesn't ever do anyone a bit of good. :) For now, we are just enjoying the emotions of today and praying for this beautiful baby girl and her expectant mother. 

Did I cover everything? What else do you want to know?




P.S. I've been getting a lot of Google traffic on this post. If you have any questions for me or want any more info about my experience with my adoption, don't hesitate to contact me. Leave a comment or message me on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jocelyn's Valentine Message

Jocelyn's grandparents got this Valentine today. It's a 7-page booklet if you can't tell. We thought we'd share. :)









That's right...a birth mom has chosen us to adopt a baby girl. Due date June 19th.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Miss Music (and Running...kind of)

Music used to dominate my life. From the time I was about 12 on, I listened to music every moment I could. I had a radio in the bathroom and I gauged my morning routine by songs. Brushing teeth = two songs. Shower = three songs. Makeup = three songs. I took my discman with me on the bus and on school trips so I could listen all the time. In my room, I always had the radio going. I had this awesome digital boombox with a remote control so as I laid in bed I could flip radio stations (I have always been more of a radio listener than an album listener).

Kids these days get mp3 players for their fifth birthdays. Not so when I was a kid. I think I was eleven or twelve when I got my very own radio to go in my room. It was like this rite of passage. I was no longer a kid. I could listen to the radio!!!

Remember that first song you ever connected to? Your soul just clicked with it and it was your song? For me, that song was "Don't Get Me Started" by Rhett Atkins.


I made dozens of mixed tapes...each with a theme. One was a soundtrack for girl's night. One was a soundtrack for a broken heart. One was a soundtrack for a newly blossoming crush. And on and on...There was a song for every moment of my life.

 My music habits diminished when I got to college. Why? Roommates.

And then I got married and I could have my radio in the bathroom again, but had to be conscientious of a sleeping spouse. In the car I had to compromise for my husband's music tastes too. My love affair with music was strained.

My job doesn't allow for it either. While I sit surrounded by designers in their cubicles listening to their favorite artists or audio books, as a writer, music interferes with my creation of meaningful, cohesive sentences. Alas, I sit in silence for nine hours every day.

And then came the baby. My last music holdout--my drive to and from work--was invaded. With the radio on, I couldn't hear the baby fussing. Or talking to me. Or whatever. She couldn't hear me singing, cooing, and talking to her, which was necessary to minimize her screaming.

I live in an age where music is more accessible than it ever has been. And I often feel I live a music-free life. It bums me out.

A year ago when I was training for my 5k, I listened to my iPod nano as I ran a couple miles around the river every night. That was awesome. I got my music back for that small stretch of time. And I got to enjoy it outdoors (I miss the outdoors too, but that's another post). Lately I've found myself missing my daily runs. Perhaps as the sun is staying up longer, I may have to pick up running again...but let's not get crazy.

Am I crazy? Am I the only one who feels like she gave up music with marriage and kids? What was the first song you really connected with?


Monday, February 6, 2012

Success: It's Not Always What You See

The reason I love blogging so much is because a few simple words can mean a lot to a reader. Inspire, uplift, entertain, comfort, and embrace. I have found it when I read other blogs. I am always humbled when people find it through my simple words.

I shared this story on Facebook the other day and my friend Ashley insisted I blog about it. (Ashley is one of those bloggers who have touched me. I have never met her IRL but I truly consider her a close friend. Love blogging!)

Perhaps this story will inspire others as it has apparently inspired Ashley.

Excellent book. You can read it in 30 minutes. 


This story was told by Carlfred Broderick in his book The Uses of Adversity. He was my mom's cousin. We always just called him Uncle Carlfred. He attended Harvard and got his Ph.D from Cornell. He was a relationship and child development therapist and expert. He was a renowned professor at several universities throughout his career and was the executive director of the Marriage and Family Training Program at USC. He was renowned writer and authored everything from college textbooks to scientific journal articles to religious books. He was a bishop, a stake president, and a stake patriarch in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

My uncle Carlfred

My memories of Uncle Carlfred are very old and faded, but I remember him being an excellent story teller. As such, I will let "him" tell this story and just retype it verbatim. Here he is talking about how much he learned by administering blessings to others as part of his religious callings. (And the woman he is referring to here is actually a family member, so he is actually closer to the situation than he implies).


...A sister whom I'd known for many years...who, in my judgment, had made some very poor life choices. She had married a handsome, charming man who...joined the Church for her. She waited a year to marry him and went to the temple. It was the last time he ever went to the temple. I knew he was a flake from the beginning. Out of my wisdom it didn't surprise me that he soon returned to his pre-Church habits....

There was great pain for this woman. A good, good woman, she kept in the Church; she kept in the kingdom; she suffered enormous pain because her husband went back to gambling and drinking and other things that were unhappy and unwholesome. But the greater pain came when her children, having these two models before them, began to follow him....They gradually seemed to adopt his lifestyle, values, and attitude toward the Church and toward sacred things. Although the mother never wavered from her own faith and faithfulness and her own commitment to Heavenly Father, her family was slipping away from her

As she asked me for a blessing to sustain her in what to do in this awful situation in which she found herself, my thoughts were, "Didn't you ask for this? You married a guy who didn't really have any depth to him and raised your kids too permissively. You should have fought harder to keep them in church rather than letting them run off to the racetracks."


I had all those judgments in my head. I laid my hands on her head, and the Lord told her of his love and his tender concern for her. He acknowledged that he had given her (and she had volunteered for) a far, far harder task than he would have liked. (And, as he put in my mind, a harder task than I had had. I have eight good kids, all of whom went to the temple. All of whom would have been good if they were orphans.) She, however, had signed up for hard children, for children who had rebellious spirits but were valuable; for a hard husband who had a rebellious spirit but who was valuable. 


The Lord alluded to events in her life that I hadn't known about, but that she confirmed afterward: Twice Heavenly Father  had given her the choice between life and death, whether to come home and be relieved of her responsibilities, which weren't going very well, or to stay and see if she could work them through. Twice on death's bed she had sent the messenger away and gone back to the hard task. She stayed with it.

I repented. I realized I was in the presence of one of the Lord's great, noble spirits, one who had chosen not a safe place behind the lines pushing out the ordnance to the people in the front lines as I was doing, but somebody who chose to live out in the trenches where the Lord's work was being done, where there was risk, where you could be hurt, where you could lose, where you could be destroyed by your love. That was the way she had chosen to labor. Then I thought, "I am unworthy to lay my hands on her head..."


Like the image of the bunnies with the carrots at the top of this post, this story reminds me that life...that success...isn't always was we see. We shouldn't be too proud of our accomplishments, we are often given much help. We shouldn't be too hard on ourselves for our "failings"...our battles are not equal. And while this truth was revealed to the woman in the story, I fear that many of us go through our hard, hard tasks without this divine knowledge, compare ourselves to others, and consider ourselves failures.

I guess the moral of the story is don't judge. Don't judge others...don't judge ourselves. Success is ill-defined by what we see. The Lord has great plans for all his children...including you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Would It Be Like to Have a Mormon in the White House? Round 2

More rhetorical questions all in good fun. Read round 1 here.



Will the Romneys serve funeral potatoes and Jell-O salad at the inauguration?

For the Presidential swearing in, will Mitt Romney place is right hand on a quad?

If the red phone rings during family prayer, will everyone ignore it until "amen" is said?

Will zucchini plants and rows of corn start to show up in the Rose Garden?

Which of the kitchens will be transformed into a cannery?

How epic will Romney family reunions on the South Lawn be?

Will President Romney open each staff meeting with a spiritual thought?



Look for round 3 next week!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beauty Tip: Eye Primer Is Magical

Did you know I work in the beauty industry? That means—in theory—I am up on trends and tips and tricks and all things beauty. While I am not a Vanity Fair Fashionista, I am more of a real-world beauty maven. Someone suggested I share some of my beauty insights. I guess I’ll give it a go.

Don’t you hate makeup touchups? When I was in high school with fragile self-confidence I packed my makeup with me EVERYWHERE and did makeup touchups during nutrition break, during lunch, AND after school before catching the bus. Sad. Granted, cheap teenager makeup was a big factor.

 As I grew older, I stopped packing my makeup with me. Sure, I kept a compact and lip gloss in my purse, but I didn’t touch up absolutely everything. Still, there were many nights when I would get home from work and wonder where my makeup went. Why had I even bothered?

I bought more expensive makeup. But it only helped a little. My biggest concern was my eye makeup. Especially eye liner. I tried the long-lasting 12 hour pencils, liquids, gels, everything.

And then I discovered…

Eye primer.

I asked for Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion for Christmas. I told my husband time and time again, “If you get me nothing else, get me this!” He did and I LURVE it. (Yes, I just said “lurve.” That ought to tell you something.)

A good primer does 3 things:


  1. Makes the color of your eye shadow more true to what you see in the eye shadow compact
  2. Prevents your eye shadow from creasing no matter how greasy your lids are
  3. Keeps your makeup perfect ALL DAY. No more disappearing act. Seriously. I always wash my makeup off before bed but I have a feeling that if I slept in it, it would still look perfect the next day.


The moral of this story is that this primer is amazing. I can even get all day perfection from $4 CoverGirl eyeliners and shadows. Seriously impressive. Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion is $19 on Amazon.com (plus shipping) but it’s totally worth it because I am using half the makeup I used to and I can actually get a lasting look from less expensive makeup.

 

This is my own opinion. I was not compensated in any way to review this product or endorse this product or any eye primer product.

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