Sunday, June 30, 2013

six years

Six years ago we made our vows.

Each year since, I've taken a minute (or sixty) to write down my thoughts about that day, or the previous year, or life and love and marriage and hope in general. Today won't be any different. Except I couldn't figure out what to write about. I didn't want to just repeat stuff I've already said. And last year...well, I said it really well. I half wanted to just say 'DITTO TO LAST YEAR' and call it a day. So despite thinking (and mildly stressing) about it all week, as of yesterday morning, I still hadn't figured out what to write about.

So we went on our little 'anniversary adventure' late yesterday morning. We'd decided to check out Treetop Quest, a 'treetop obstacle course and ziplining' place in a nearby city. I don't know what sparked our desire to go spend a day doing this, other than the fact that we're on a 'do fun stuff' kick lately, and this seemed like it might be fun.

We took a quick class where they got us all strapped up and showed us how to use the various pieces of our harnesses/caribiners/things I don't remember the names of, and then we were off to conquer the 5 different courses on our own. Don't worry, there were always staff people nearby to offer assistance (or climb up and rescue you, as we saw one girl take 'em up on).

 I'm not necessarily scared of heights, but I have a pretty intense lifelong fear of bridges and a healthy desire to not plunge to my death from any height, so I wouldn't say that this whole thing was exactly in my comfort zone. I do, however, have a deep and burning desire to be a badass (see: trying to do a triathlon), so I was determined to complete all five courses, panic attacks, weak upper body, and tears be damned. 

And here's what I realized as I bravely fought my way through the course (you knew a metaphor was coming, right?): this is just like marriage.

It sounded like it would be fun. There were a lot of great opportunities for photos. And the first few things were fun and easy. But then there were hard things. And then it turns out that- heck, I'm scared of normal, regular bridges- the kind with 4 lanes and twenty tons of concrete holding you up- but now I'm supposed to cross a 'bridge' made out of 4-inch squares of wood suspended 70 feet above the ground, and that is too hard for me. That isn't fun. And so I cried, and I wanted to quit because I don't like this part. But then I dried my tears and crossed that bridge. With shaking legs, and no shortage of fear, and no attempt at looking brave...I did it. And then you get to a zipline, which is relatively easy and lots of fun...but then the next thing is some other sadistic bridge-type thing that is not fun. And now my legs are tired and I'm sweaty and if I weren't stuck in a tree 80 feet in the air, I really might have just said 'peace!' and sat that one out...but I wanted to finish the course. I said I was going to do it. I know I can do it. I know the equipment is safe, my harness is secure, and so instead of submitting to what I felt like, I did what I knew I could

And you know what? When you complete a section that was fun or relatively simple, you feel pretty good. I mean, it's fun to have just done something fun. But when you complete a section that was more than you thought you could handle? A section that you really thought you might die on? You feel incredible. You high-five your husband and you fist pump and you feel a little bit better about tackling whatever thing comes next.
It's just like marriage. It's just like life. There were sections of the course that were really hard and scary. There were sections that were super fun and had you flying through the trees. You never knew which section was coming next until you got there, and by the time you were there it was time to do it. Maybe it would have been nice if the whole course had been easy. I mean, I could have stuck with the children's course the whole time...the one where no obstacle or zipline is higher than about 6 feet? Where my feet would have drug the ground the whole time? There'd have been no fear of heights there. No fear of plunging 80 feet to paralysis or death. No sketchy bridges. But it also wouldn't have really been fun. There'd have been no exhilarating flying over the treetops. No triumphant high-fiving when you conquer something hard. No opportunity to cheer on your partner, to offer tips to passing strangers, to ask advice from the freakishly strong and fearless 8-year-old following you around. 

The last six years have had more than their fair share of obstacles. I've been stuck on a swinging rope bridge, living out my greatest fear, with nothing but a couple cables keeping me from falling off. I've envied other people on the lower, easier courses. The people who somehow found the course with all ziplines and no bridge obstacles. And yet we keep climbing. We keep going and going, and there are sections of absolute joy and exhilaration, and there are sections of fear and trembling. But when it's over, and we look back at what we've been through and accomplished (or survived) in a week, or a season, or several is worth it. Somehow the memories of the hard times fade a bit, while the pride in overcoming obstacles and the happy memories of the fun sections stays in the forefront of your mind, and you say it was awesome. I can't wait to do it again. You HAVE to do it. 

Our six years haven't always been easy ones. But they have been worth it. And we are getting stronger, and our marriage is getting stronger, and now I've been on the swinging rope bridge enough times to know that I may not always enjoy it, but I can do it

Happy Anniversary to you, Mattie. You are the best partner I could have ever picked and I am thankful every single minute that you still choose me.

Anniversary Meditations from Previous Years: Five Years, Four Years, Three Years, Two Years, One Year.

For your bonus viewing pleasure, here are a few videos we took on some of the obstacles. (And sorry they're not aligned correctly...Blogger is being a pain in the butt.)

This one is me on my most-hated obstacle, a very high swinging log bridge. There's a separate video of me getting on and getting off the very first step about 3 times, freaking out, and trying to quit. Then I just did it. Like a boss.
Matt on a similar obstacle. I hated this one, too.

 This one was really fun, but TOUGH! Had to swing (like Tarzan) and then land and grab onto the net and climb up a ways, then sideways over to the landing. Climbing nets is HARD!!!

 This one I thought I would HATE. I'd seen other people really struggle with it, and it falls in the whole 'swinging bridge' category of things in my mind...but actually I ended up doing really well and conquering it pretty quickly! It was a pleasant surprise.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

the only time I will ever say 'soda'

I know, I know. Nobody blogs on Saturdays. And nobody reads blogs on Saturdays (except me). But I figure...maybe if you do happen to read blogs today, maybe it's cause you're bored. And if you're bored, you probably want to eat, right? At least that's how it works for me. So I figured a Saturday morning would be the perfect time to share a very fast, very easy, very tasty dessert-type drink (non-alcoholic).

When I saw this picture and recipe in the Better Homes & Gardens magazine that came in the mail this week (yes, I am four hundred years old), I knew I had to try it. It spoke to me. Loudly. So last night we made it and DANG...was I right. This is a big winner. And super easy! So here we go.

Strawberry Coconut Cream Soda (from July 2013 Better Homes and Gardens)

You need:
3 cups fresh strawberries, halved
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup refrigerated coconut milk (like the kind sold by Silk or So Delicious) *I used the unsweetened and shelf-stable kind, from the section w/ almond and rice milks...worked great*
3 to 4 cups of club soda or carbonated water, chilled 

1. In a medium bowl combine strawberries and sugar; stir well to combine. Using a pastry blender (*what the heck is a pastry blender??! I used a regular blender, worked fine), coarsely mash the strawberries.

2. Place 1/3 cup of the mashed strawberries in each of six glasses. To each glass add ice, 2 Tbsp. coconut milk, and 1/2 to 2/3 cup club soda. Stir drinks just before serving. Makes 6 servings.

We basically followed the exact recipe, except we didn't add ice and we halved the recipe since there are only two of us. It was daggum delicious and Matt requested more for breakfast. I feel rather awkward saying the word 'soda,' since it's basically not a part of my Southerner's vocabulary, but I feel like 'Strawberry Coconut Cream Coke' sounds extremely unappetizing, so I'll deal.

Anyway. I think you should make this-- for the record, it's gluten-free and dairy-free (not that I care, exactly, but worth noting) and it would probably be excellent with a little vodka or rum mixed in...not that I plan on doing that anytime soon or anything.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 28, 2013

awesome at math

The other night I woke up in the middle of the night (kind of like in January...let's hope I don't have to resort to such drastic measures again!) and couldn't fall back asleep. After trying a few other tricks, I decided to try the ol' counting backwards trick to see if that would put me back to sleep. I mean, I've always found math to be dreadfully boring. And I'm pretty bad at it (see: counts on her fingers at age 30). So I decided to give myself a real challenge by upping the math-ante and counting backwards from 1,000 by eight. Does that even make sense? You know...subtracting 8 each time. Right.

Things started off pretty rough but surprisingly by the time I got to like 800 I'd figured out a PATTERN!!!! I felt like the guy in The Davinci Code or some other code-solver-mystery-thriller. I almost wanted to wake Matt up just to give him my insight about counting backwards by eights! But I didn't, because I'm really kind like that. But anyway. I just thought you should know. PS- it didn't help me to fall asleep. But at least it made me feel really smart.

In honor of that breakthrough moment, today I shall be presenting a backwards-counting list. But only by ones, because I can't assume that everyone is as awesome at math as I am, and I don't want you to hurt your brain on a Friday.

10- The approximate mile-marker of our bike ride last night when we realized we'd taken a wrong turn, really had no idea where we were or how to get home, and also the sun was setting. Cue slightly panicked riding. Luckily we found our bearings shortly thereafter and were home before mile 12.

9- The number of weeks until I will be in a delightful and perfect tropical haven, where the ocean is crystal-clear turquoise and the waiters bring beverages out to you on the beach. Not that I'm excited or anything.

8- The number of fried bananas (pieces, not whole bananas!) I ate when we met Matt's parents at a Chinese buffet for lunch yesterday (or a close guess. I didn't actually count). Yall. Someone stop me. I'm a disgrace to humanity.

7- The approximate number of attempts it took me to get this scarf to look right today. For some reason I think that summer scarves (oxymoron) need to be wrapped differently than winter scarves, and I can never get mine quite right.
Just pretend those aren't giant bags under my eyes. BE DAZZLED BY MY SCARF INSTEAD.
6- The number of years of marriage we'll be celebrating on Sunday! Happy 6th anniversary to us!!

5- The number of different farm animals we saw on our bike ride last night: Cows, baby cows (counted separately because they are substantially cuter than regular cows), chickens, horses, pigs.

4- The number of cantaloupes our really nice next-door neighbors randomly gave us yesterday. Apparently someone had given THEM 24 they were spreading the joy through the neighborhood!! Yum!!

3- The time that half-priced 'Refreshers' drinks at Starbucks start today! (3-5 p.m. through the weekend)...meaning, the time that my co-workers and I will be taking a field trip across downtown for some tasty treats!

2- The number of Fandango movie tickets I purchased using a Groupon yesterday (for a total of $12). And I also earned 2 Swagbucks per Groupon dollar spent. And I'll get 1% back in credit card rewards. That's a lot of degrees of separation and companies between me, my money, and going to a movie, but whatever! Somewhere in the math, I feel like I'm coming out on top.

1- The number of workdays left until WEEKEND! We have some fun adventures planned and I can't WAIT to get them started!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

has money, will buy makeup

I am happy to announce that I earned my first $5 gift card from Swagbucks after only about 5 days of...what do you call it? Swagging? Whatever. After 5 days of using Swagbucks. And when I finally earned enough 'bucks' to get a gift card, you would have thought I'd just won the lottery by the amount of excitement I was letting loose in our living room. Matt was all scornful, like 'it's only $5, you do realize you have an actual JOB where you get paid a lot more than $5 a week, don't you?? You don't even get this excited about REAL paydays...' and I'm like...whatever. This was thrilling. I can't even decide if I should go for the Amazon gift card or the Starbucks one!!! 

Whichever one I choose, I definitely informed Matt that I would be spending it on ME ONLY ME. Please. He didn't put in the hard (haha) after-hours work of like...filling out surveys...and searching stuff...and stalking Facebook to find extra 'codes'...this is some hard-earned money, and I fully intend on blowing it as I please at Starbucks or Amazon. BOOM! Anyway. If you're easily as amused and willing to do stupid stuff for approximately 10 cents per hour, you should sign up too. BE RICH LIKE ME.

Speaking of being rich (I'm not), yesterday I happened upon a message board thread (who knew those still existed?) of ladies discussing the best splurge-worthy and cheap-o beauty products. Naturally I had to waste a few hours reading the whole thing, because I am all about beauty products. Lately, due to my unhealthy obsession with Ulta and Sephora, most of my beauty purchases have been tending towards the 'splurge' side of things...but now I have a serious mind to head to Target and try a few apparently tried-and-true cheapie products that people are swearing do even better than their upper-class counterparts. And also, I thought I'd share a few of my personal picks for both sides.

-I've already talked at length about my most favorite concealer and my beloved Naked Palette, so I'll skip out on rehashing those again and share something different.

This purminerals 4-in-1 tinted moisturizer is amaaaaazing. It has the perfect amount of coverage and goes on really well. It also doesn't sweat off (although I do put a powder over it, so maybe that helps). I love that it makes my getting ready 10x faster (than applying 5 different products) only complaint is that I can never decide if the color I have (medium) is exactly right for my coloring. In a lot of lighting and in pictures, I think it looks great. But for some reason, in my car vanity mirror it looks TERRIBLE and then I fear that I have the dreaded mis-matching face/neck situation going I don't know. Since they only have 4 shades, there aren't a lot of options if I decide this is actually too dark. So I don't know. But other than that, I totally love this. BUT-- tinted moisturizers were frequently showing up on the 'best cheapies' list, so I may have to try a drugstore brand just for the sake of fairness.


These e.l.f. oil blotting sheets are fantastic. I just grabbed the pack out of my purse and took a photo, can you tell? Ha. Anyway, I am slightly addicted to oil blotting sheets. I don't know if I'm just oilier than the average person or if it's a wicked cycle between bangs making my forehead greasy/ greasy forehead making my bangs greasy/repeat repeat repeat, but if I don't intervene early, bangs can look BAD quickly. And I guess my forehead does too, but since it's will only notice the disgusting bangs. But I've loved blotting sheets since high school, when I ordered them from Mary Kay for like $10 a package or something. And then when I stopped ordering Mary Kay, I found some on Amazon that I would order. And then there's a Sephora brand, but still for like $5 a package or something. And then I found these at Target for ONE DOLLAR and don'tcha know, they're exactly the same as all the other ones??!! So I can use like 20 a day and not feel the slightest bit guilty! And I can buy back-up packs and keep them all over my house/car/purse/office! In other words, I really love these and I will never go back to buying expensive ones again.

So there are your beauty recommendations for today from me. But now you owe me: what's your favorite splurge/cheapie products? I mean, Matt can attest...I have just hardly a THING in my makeup cabinet, I am really in dire need of buying a bunch of new stuff....hahahaha, that's a lie. He's going to be so mad when he reads this, especially when I tell him I plan on trying everything yall recommend! Wooo!!

Oh, and now that I've written all of this, it seems obvious that I should use my Swagbucks to get a gift card for Amazon or Target instead of Starbucks so that I can use my 'free money' to purchase all the great new things I want. Look how smart I am! It all comes full circle!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

the very ugly caterpillar

If you're a parent or a teacher (and I'm guessing that describes 90% of my readership), you're probably familiar with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

It's a cute enough story about a (what else?) very hungry caterpillar who is so hungry he basically spends the course of the book eating All The Things, including very non-caterpillar-like foods. It's sort of a personal story for me, as I feel like it could just as easily be called The Very Hungry Erika, but whatever. The caterpillar is way cuter.

I must confess, though, that the cuteness of Very Hungry Caterpillars is limited. To books. In real life? Not so cute.

Please feast (haha) your eyes on what we found in our garden this weekend:

Do you see him? He's very camouflaged. And not at all technically a caterpillar-- technically he's a Tomato Hornedworm. Check out that reddish horn!! 

He's a creepy looking GIANT little thing for sure. And he can wipe out your tomato plants pretty quickly. We found and eliminated about 5 of them on Saturday. They are too creepy to touch, so Matt used pliers to remove them from the plants, and then his boot finished the drill.

But last night my mother-in-law was over and checking out our plants. We found 2 more of these dudes and she was so brave she pulled them off with her FINGERS and stomped them with her FLIP FLOP. I was pretty dang impressed. I obviously need to up my gardening game.

Although there are definitely signs that these guys have been happily chomping away on some of our leaves and tomatoes, we still have TONS of tomatoes and they're just starting to turn red! So I think as long as we remain vigilant, we'll be okay. I just thought you would like to spice up your morning with a picture of a really scary worm. RIP, scary hornedworms. Your horns are nowhere near as awesome as a unicorn's horns, so...sorry bout that.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

a rant, and some good news

I really need to get this off my chest. Or my lumpy, bumpy, cellulite-ridden abdomen, as the case may be.

Dear Old Navy,
  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE MIRRORS IN YOUR DRESSING ROOMS??!?!?! It's just wrong. It's sick. And I don't know why you would do that to the innocent citizens who merely want the privilege of buying your cheaply-made, mass-produced, overwhelmingly cute wares. It's not right. Where on earth do you find the lights for your dressing rooms? Specially tinted to create the appearance of lines, bumps, and creases on skin? Instantly bestowing humans with a grayish, death-like pallor? Why would you do that? And those mirrors? Now I'll be the first to admit, the full-length mirror at my house is tilted against the wall at the Optimum Skinniness Slant...and I fully recognize that it doesn't reflect reality, but I leave it that way anyway because IT MAKES ME HAPPY. Don't you want people to be HAPPY when they're trying on your clothes? Why would you put your mirrors at the Optimum HORRIBLENESS Slant? The one that magnifies fat rolls by a factor of 7.9? The one that superimposes cellulite onto areas so incredibly cellulite-free (such as wrists. And earlobes.) that it's not even remotely realistic? Do your dressing room attendants really like listening to women sob behind their closed doors? Isn't that sad for them, too, to be handed a huge pile of crumpled-up clothes, damp with the tears of defeat, as people miserably leave their oddly-lit lairs of self-loathing and sprint towards the safety of their cars? me to understand. I'm struggling here. And I bought your stupid bikini anyway, because despite how nauseating it looked on me in your dressing room, I have the years of experience to know that when I get home, where the lighting is normal and the mirrors are won't be nearly as bad. So despite my anger, your bottom line is still gonna be okay. And maybe mine will too...because as soon as I got home, I made my bottom run 3 miles. And as I ran, I screamed at the top of my lungs, for all the cows to hear, "I HOPE YOU APPRECIATE THIS, OLD NAVY MIRROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" So thanks for the incentive to run, but seriously. You gotta do something about your dressing rooms.

With much love and a mean side-eye,

Thanks for enduring that. It's just been weighing heavy on my heart since yesterday's unfortunate experience. 

In more positive news, I have two things for you. Of course, neither of them can I really claim as my own, but that won't stop me from sharing.

Great News The First: You know my friend Colleen? The one who wrote Elly in Bloom? And [one of] my blogging soulmate[s]? If you don't, you should, so get on that. But anyways. Like many of us, Colleen has been awaiting her first baby for years and years. And years. And then some more years. And they've been sitting on an adoption agency's 'approved and waiting' list (process complete, waiting to be picked) for TWO YEARS. So you do the math-- first there's infertility (long period of time), then there's deciding to adopt and choosing and agency and fundraising and home studies and paperwork and classes and paperwork (long period of time), and THEN you're approved and waiting and then they wait TWO YEARS, during which time their paperwork expires, they have to do stuff OVER again, and just try to think about how miserable and anxious you might be feeling in the midst of all this...and how much you might want to punch in the face any clueless person who suggests that someone might 'JUST ADOPT!'...grrr...but anyway. I am thrilled beyond belief to tell you that on Saturday morning, Colleen & Ryan's son was born and that THEY ARE PARENTS now!! Obviously there are a lot of things that still have to happen before it is official, but there's a baby in their house and they are over the moon. I just wanted to tell you so that you could a) go offer them some congratulations and b) pray for them, that everything would go smoothly and well during the next month or so, until parental rights are terminated and everything is complete. But also I've just had this ridiculous perma-smile on my face since Saturday, and in case you wanted to know why I'm looking so goofy, this is why. I am so thrilled for them. SO go read Part 1 of her story and get your very own perma-smile! We can be twinsies!

Great News The Second: I read a really great blog post that someone shared on FB yesterday. As I was reading it, at first I was kinda mad because I was like dude, this totally sounds like what I think...and he even writes like me...THIS SHOULD BE MY BLOG!!!! But, it's not, and I got over it pretty quickly so now I'm good with just sharing it and hoping it brings some inspiration or peace to someone else. Confronting the Lie: God Won't Give You More than You Can Handle...go check it out.

That's all, folks. Have a good one!

Monday, June 24, 2013

our weekend 'staycation'

It was a gorgeous weekend in, but not unbearably so...and it actually managed to stop raining for a few days, so we tried to make the most of the weekend and spend as little of it indoors as possible. For as much as I don't like to sweat,  I sure do love spending all day long out in the sun on the weekends. Which means that by all accounts, this was a great weekend.

Saturday morning we rolled out of bed in a timely fashion and made our way out to The Sandbar to spend the afternoon kayaking down the Broad River. We've kayaked the Broad each of the last two summers, but both of those years we were in the midst of a deep and long-lasting, Code Red, Level 10 (ok, I made that part up) drought. Meaning that there was barely any water in the river and we basically had to walk 5 miles dragging our kayaks behind us. It took forever and it was a whole lot of exercise. But THIS YEAR, thanks to days upon weeks of rain, we are officially OUT of the drought and the rivers are FULL! Everyone I know who's gone kayaking this year raves about how awesome it is getting to actually FLOAT the whole time, and how it's way more fun that previous years. So obviously we needed to get on it, and the time is now...before the rivers dry up again! Don't delay...row today. Something like that.

You know how sometimes smart people do dumb things? Well here's Exhibit A from my personal experience this weekend. I decided to take my iPhone kayaking with me. In a (non-waterproof) Otter Box. But I put it in a Ziplock bag for protection, which is obviously brilliant. Or...not. I don't know what I was thinking. I definitely wasn't thinking about GOING OVER RAPIDS and GETTING DUMPED OUT OF MY KAYAK...along with all of my possessions. I need pictures! I'll take my phone!...was about all I thought of. Not smart. Big shout-out to God for keeping me (and my phone) safely in the kayak the whole trip. Please try to picture me each time I approached a rocky section/rapid, wrapping my Ziplock-bagged phone in my tank top, squeezing them between my knees, praying that my knees didn't flail apart as I tried to keep my balance over the rapid...sheesh. I think it took a few years off my life, but at least I got some fun pictures. And I won't be repeating that idiot move in the future. Trust me. 

Other than phone-related stress, it was a wonderful and fairly easy ride down the river. We stopped to swim a bit and watched lots of turtles getting suntans. Afterwards we were starving, so we stopped for Mexican at a hole-in-the-wall and had some amazing puposas (me) and tortas (Matt). I swear that Athens (and surrounding small towns) has some of the best Mexican (and Salvadorean) food in the world. And I've actually been to Mexico a few times, so obviously I'm an expert. Boom.

After arriving home, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and fact that we were already sweaty and gross and knock out some other sweaty/gross chores: mowing and washing our car. It was a very productive afternoon.

Sunday after church we decided it was time to make a big purchase we've been debating all summer: the inflatable pool for the backyard. Since all of you were wholeheartedly supporting this purchase, it made it pretty easy to convince Matt that it was a great idea. And then we found a $22 pool at Aldi and it was a done deal. We even sprung $5 to get a pump to blow it up. I know...we're high rollers.

After a tasty lunch on the grill, we spent a relaxing afternoon in our backyard resort.

Pretty much the only thing missing was a waiter bringing us drinks. Oh, and water over 6 inches deep. See, our preferred location (see how nice it looks from my bedroom window?) wasn't exactly what you'd call level. I figured this would not be a problem. I didn't mind if it was deeper on one side. We'll call it the 'deep end' and be done with it! Unfortunately, that's not how it works in the world of inflatable pools. What happens is the 'deep end' caves in and your water dumps out everywhere. Who knew? So after enjoying the pool for about 30 minutes in that location, we had to empty it, move it to the far back of the yard where it's a bit more level (and way more visible from the road/neighbors' houses) and start over.

It's not in as pretty an area now, but at least the sides aren't collapsing, so I guess we'll call it a win. After we were done swimming (hahaha) we decided to fashion a pool cover out of a plastic dropcloth, Ziplock baggies filled with rocks, and duct tape. It was pretty brilliant, if you ask me, and very effective. So now our pool won't get grass, leaves, and bugs in it. And it'll be all ready for us to cool off in after work (and working out)! I can hardly wait to embark on this new life of leisure...a home swimming pool...whatever luxuries will befall us next??!

We patted ourselves on the back for being 'adventurous' two weekends in a row (last weekend biking the Augusta Canal) makes you feel like you didn't totally waste your days, you know? Matt called our weekend a 'staycation,' since we did fun and relaxing things while basically staying at home. I thought that was a pretty fair assessment! We're looking forward to ANOTHER fun outdoor adventure next weekend for our anniversary!! Apparently we're hitting up every single fun outdoor thing in the state...if you're familiar with Georgia outdoor attractions (with an emphasis on FUN and SEMI-ACTIVE), feel free to recommend any we're missing!! Have a happy Monday!

Friday, June 21, 2013

infertility link-up...and serious Man Fashion.

Today I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner for a little show-and-tell about everyone's favorite topic: INFERTILITY! And the crowd, well, not so wild. Whatever. So-- regular peeps-- I'm just going to do a quick intro/infertility bio and then I'll get back to your regularly scheduled programing. If you don't wanna listen to me rehash the sob story...scroll on down and I'll meet up with you in a minute.

Soo...hello, new people! If you're here cause you're experiencing infertility, then I'll start by saying I'm sorry and it sucks and I wish you didn't have to know what it was like...but finding people in my same boat to commiserate, swap stories, and cry with (as well as laugh, congratulate, and vent frustrations to!) has been one of the best things to happen to me during my rather lengthy journey towards building a family. And now I'm going to stop wasting time and being awkward and hokey and get down to the nitty-gritty brief overview of my IF story.

My husband and I have been TTC for 4.5 years. In 2010 we were diagnosed with severe male-factor infertility. We had three failed IUIs in late 2010. In 2012 I was diagnosed with stage III endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserve. Last August I had the laparoscopy/hysteroscopy/D&C to clean out the endo; in December, Matt underwent surgery to repair some of the veins and varicoceles causing his sperm abnormality. We have been told since 2011 that our only option to achieve pregnancy will be IVF, which may be true. It has certainly proven true thus far, but we hold fast to hope in our God of miracles and pray that there may be one for us someday. We may still choose to do IVF at some point- right now we are still 'waiting and seeing' as Matt's body continues to improve its capabilities post-surgery...and mine seems to get worse by the month. We are also actively pursuing private adoption. We desire a child more than a pregnancy and will be absolutely thrilled no matter what route our family grows through.

For extra credit, you could read the unabridged version of our TTC story. I have handy little categories for my posts regarding infertility in general (both ours know, REALLY general...) and endometriosis. Sometimes I'm full of hope. Sometimes I'm teetering on the edge of despair. Sometimes I write you letters and tell you how it really feels. Frequently I overshare. Although my medical experiences and treatments are far, far less extensive than many IFers, I do my best to share information in hopes that the things I've learned along the way can help someone else. 

Although infertility tries hard to become my whole life and absorb all of my brain, I do my best to fight back, so I don't blog about only infertility. My husband and I are currently beating our bodies into submission and training for a triathlon, which is pretty laughable since we're not exactly athletic. I also have a deep passion for gardening, cotton candy, manatees, and reality TV, so I try to focus on those things (instead of sperm fragmentation) on occasion. 

So...that's kinda me in a nutshell. Feel free to stick around for the ride (and contact me if you have any questions) if you think you can handle my long-windedness! I promise that sometimes I'm's kind of like your prize for reading all of my words. Or at least that's how I think of it.


 So on Wednesday afternoon we decided to stop by the pool on our way home from work for a quick swim. Let's be honest: it was no less miserable than last time. Something tells me that 30 years of drinking daiquiris by the pool did not give me the swimming skillz necessary for this tri. Bah. But anyway, we did it. And didn't die, which felt like an accomplishment. After getting done with our laps, we hopped back in the car for the 10 minute ride home. It is important to note that we weren't really pool-ready for this excursion. We hadn't thought past throwing our swimsuits in the car that morning, so we didn't have any other clothes to put on besides our work clothes...and since it was such a quick ride home, we didn't see any reason to put work clothes back onto our wet bodies. We just hopped in the car in our wet suits and went on our merry way.

You can see where this is going, right?

Of course we needed gas. Of course we did! Of course the gas light was on and we'd gone like 20 more miles than we ever get on a tank...there was no way we could not stop for gas.

Matt bravely pulled up alongside the pump at the gas station in our small town. 

"I really do not want to get out of the car. I really canNOT get gas like this..." he whined. Ever the assuring wife, I was all "sure you can, babe! You got this! No one will even notice or care! No one pays attention to other people at a gas station! Just hurry and do it!!" 

I could write the textbook for How To Be a Supportive Wife, right?

And also probably the one for How To Be a Jerk Wife...because as soon as he was out and pumping, I was all over that mess...paparazzi-style. 

These were the best shots I could get because shockingly, Matt wasn't terribly enthused at me falling out of the car trying to get pictures. There may or may not have been a slight wrestling match over the phone, but luckily I prevailed. Because the world needed to see this. It was too amazing not to share. The avant-guard way he paired those striped swim trunks (ON TREND!) with the business-y shoe and sensible sock? Amazing. This man needs his own Fashion Week.

As I was hooting and crying with laughter, he was pouting that no one wears dress shoes with a bathing suit. I tried to make him feel better by reminding him that yes some people do. Miss America contestants. I don't think it helped.

After awhile he forgave me for my raucous laughter and abundant joy over his silly outfit. I offered to delete the picture from Instagram. He said I didn't have to. I gave him about 24 hours, and then I asked if I could put it on my blog. I said "THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE IT! PEOPLE LOVE TO LAUGH!" and he said he had to think about it. An hour later, he said I could put it on the blog. For you. Because he knows I like to make people laugh. And he's a damn good husband like that.

So there you have it. I hope you're able to make equally amazing fashion statements yourself this weekend...or find someone else doing it and subtly take a picture. If you want to express your appreciation for Matt's willingness to take one for the team here, I would suggest leaving a nice haiku or perhaps a stock market tip for him in the comments. You know. Something he would enjoy. Because after I thanked him for letting me post these pics, he said "YOU OWE ME BIG TIME," a sister out.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

the end of the internet

Does anyone remember that commercial from a few years ago that had some guy sitting in front of the computer, blank stare on his face, clicking...clicking...and then you see this window pop up on his screen that says "YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF THE INTERNET!"? Sometimes I feel like that guy. Or like I will someday. But not this week. Luckily, this week I discovered some pretty quality things on the internet. Lemme share.

First of all, did yall read about the most amazing roommate prank ever? Apparently it's viral now, so most likely you have (also I think it was on Good Morning America yesterday?)...but I would just like to say that people like these guys are my people. I really love a good prank and folks that can laugh at themselves and band together in the name of doing something extremely ridiculous. So high five to my people...and also, Matt's Father's Day present would feel right at home in the newly designed room!

[Random side story: During high school, the girls in my youth group had a long-running PRANK WAR against the guys. It was pretty brutal. One of my favorite pranks that we pulled off was one weekend when we were going on a retreat. We pre-planned our pranks to the hilt and were ready for war, which meant that before we left for the weekend, one of the girls had stopped by a bait shop (in case you're not from the south/sticks, that would be a place where you buy fishing bait & tackle) and asked if she could have all the...ummm...unsellable bait. AKA the dead minnows. They float to the top of the tanks, so she just skimmed off a few dozen dead fishies and they let us have 'em. We put them in some opaque water bottles and headed to the mountains for our retreat. On Saturday afternoon while the guys were all out hiking or something, we sneaked into their room and put dead fish all over all of their stuff. It was disgusting and amazing. It was the best prank ever. Except for a few hours later when we discovered that unbeknownst to us, the guys had actually switched dorms with another church (while leaving a few of their personal items in highly visible places so that we would still THINK it was their room) the previous day, since they'd anticipated us coming in and doing something to their stuff. So that meant that what we'd actually done is put dead fish all over some random people's stuff. And guess what? They were MAD. And their chaperones were MAD. And we got in big trouble. (and had to clean up our dead fish...and a lot of other horrible stuff we'd done in there)...and one might think that that would have ended our prank war, but obviously it did not. It just made us a little more careful the next time we decided to strike.]

Anyways. Back to the internets. (Let me know if you want more prank stories. I have plenty.)

I signed up for SwagBucks the other day. Am I the last person on earth to do this? Do any of you do it? I've concluded that it isn't going to be my ticket to vast riches and the easy life of travel & leisure, but it's been fairly amusing to me so far. Plus I just love filling out surveys. I fill like I have the best opinions (and obviously the right opinions) about everything and this is a great outlet for people to benefit from knowing them. And I can make the equivalent of like 4 cents, so I

If you find yourself bored with the world and the internet, I would like to offer one final recommendation and antidote: This blog, It's a Dog Lick Baby World, is one of my recent BEST DISCOVERIES EVER. I'm serious. This girl is one of the funniest people I've ever met (read?) and also she might be certifiably insane when it comes to running. Her blog is a hybrid extreme running/mommy blog, and even though I can't identify with either of those things, I keep coming back because I kind of want to be just like her. Even though she might be crazy (exhibit A: in a few weeks she will be running a 50k (yes, 31 miles) race and then a 6 hour distance race WITHIN SIX DAYS OF EACH OTHER. Even she admits that this is probably not a great idea, but her concern is not with the running or the possibly dying of a heat stroke or legs is with how she's going to manage to pump during the races, since she's still BFing her 6 month old. Let's talk about BFing problems most people never run into...) I must admit that I feel like my lame 3 mile runs are pretty terrible now, but whatever. You should read it. 

If this is the worst post ever, I apologize. At least I pointed you in the direction of something more quality to read/do, though, so that should count for something, right?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the next thing

I've been occasionally wondering what my next 'thing' will be after we do our triathlon in August. As I've mentioned ad nauseum a few times, having this goal to work towards has been extremely motivating and fun in terms of getting me to enjoy working out again. Assuming the novelty doesn't wear off, I still have 2 whole months to enjoy my motivating workouts with a goal in mind. But what then? Once the tri is over, what will keep me going? I guess maybe if we really like it (and don't fail miserably), we could find another one to sign up for (maybe a full length tri!) and work towards. Or something else? But what?

I haven't known. Until last night, at the gym, when I saw this poster. And I knew.

The next thing.

I mean, obviously. Because nothing says sexy quite like...that. Just think of all the amazing photo shoots Matt and I could have if we were both scary ripped like those folks! Wow.


Question: if you noticed a friend started looking like that, would you stage an intervention? I kind of think you should. People should not look like that. It's unnecessary and frightening. 

In conclusion, this is not going to be my next thing. I tried to keep a straight face and convince Matt that it was, but I failed miserably after about 4 seconds. Because seriously. Wow. People.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

seven things

1. I've had the 'Elephant Love Medley' (from Moulin Rouge) stuck in my head for about 4 days. Continuously. It's not bad, since it's one of my favorite songs ever, but it's when I am forced to sing through the whole thing over and over (doing both parts, of course), it just takes a lot of time. Oh well. Over the weekend my sister and I did one of our usual dramatic sing-throughs and it was as spectacular as ever. (Best part: We could be heroes...forever and EVERRRRRRR with that amazing high harmony? Gah. Amazing. We are amazing. Nicole and Ewan, eat your hearts out.)

2. It has rained a RIDICULOUS amount this summer. On the one hand, it's nice that I haven't had to water my flowers basically at all. On the other's always raining.

I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever see anything else out of the front door. Blah.

At least the flowers like it!!

I might look ridiculous, but so would you if your tomatoes were growing like freaking mutants. When they start turning out, world.

3. Due to Zack K's untimely departure on The Bachelorette last night, my bracket is officially wrecked. It's okay, though. Now I am free to cheer for whomever I want, unhindered by my bracket. Now that we're a few weeks in and I feel like I 'know' the guys a little better, I'm a big fan of Chris, who displayed the talent of twirling hula-hoops while in heels last night during the 'Mr. America' pageant. I love a guy who can look like a huge goofball and laugh at himself. He also writes poetry, doesn't look like he takes 'roids, and makes really hilarious comments...therefore, current fave. I'm patting myself on the back for not yet having looked at spoilers...can you believe I've made it this far?!

4. Our sixth anniversary is just around the corner. Matt is occupied with trying to make some kind of plans for us. I am occupied with trying to figure out what to write about. I re-read my previous year's posts (last year's is here) and I don't know if there's anything left to say. I think I set the bar too high for myself. Also, I can't read that one without crying. Bah.

5. Since I had to go look up the 'Elephant Love Medley' to put a link in the first paragraph, I've been listening to it continually since then. I must say, actually listening to it is even better than just having it stuck in my head!

6. I've been occupying my time lately with daydreaming about vacation-- and making plans! Even though it's a reeaaaaalllly long way off still...oh well. Since we have friends going with us this year, plus we have a better idea of where we're going and what there is to do, we are really excited to up our vacation-game. Therefore I've already started a running list of things to take (or think about the logistics of taking). And I'm keeping the list on the resort's stationary that I have left from last year. Obviously. Can anyone think of any other small/light/easily packable beach games or other games (to play at night)?

7. I'm going back to Trappeze today to meet another friend for lunch. This will make the third time in less than a week for me and my main love, the veggie reuben sandwich. I can't help it. Don't be surprised if I weigh 2840218 pounds by next week. IT WILL BE WORTH IT!!!!

Lucky seven, I'm done. Have a wonderful (rainy, if you're in GA) Tuesday!

Monday, June 17, 2013

the good life

We spent the weekend with my family in Augusta. My family has never been the type to argue or feud (the three children during the years prior to their high school graduations being the obvious exception), and I think I've discovered that the secret to this is that we pretty easily all agree about what constitutes a good time, and we stick with doing those things. 

Things We All Think Are Great:
1. Holding babies.
2. Eating.
3. Being outside.
4. Shopping.
5. Holding babies.
6. Eating.
7. Jesus.
8. Being pampered.
9. Eating.
10. Taking pictures.
11. Laughing.
12. Holding babies.

Seriously-- stick to doing the things everyone likes and you are guaranteed to have a fabulous weekend. Unless you start fighting about whose turn it is to hold the baby (mine, always mine)...and then you can just appease yourselves with food and get back to the good times. So here's what our weekend looked like.

Saturday Morning: Matt and Erika Bike the Augusta Canal.
 It's been years since I've biked or ran the Canal (and Matt's never been), and it was as fabulous as I remembered. I'd be lying if I didn't catch myself thinking I want to move back to Augusta a few times as we rode...there's just nothing like this in Athens! Sigh.

Saturday Afternoon: Sarah and Erika Get Their Nails Did.

I laugh hysterically as I watch Sarah laugh hysterically as her pedicure guy evidently TICKLES HER TO DEATH. It was ridiculous. And Sarah's a VERY LOUD laugher, so I'm pretty sure everyone in the shop hated us was highly amused. [my toes- Essie 'in the cab-ana', my fingers- Essie 'clambake']

Saturday Night: Sarah and Erika Have a Photo Shoot in the Back of Dad's Truck on the Way to Dinner.

 Having photo shoots in the car has been our tradition since about 199whenevertheyinventeddigitalcameras. I'd like to think we've perfected the art. I'd also like to say that the front-facing camera on the iPhone leaves something to be desired.

Saturday Night: We Have a Surprise 60th Birthday Party for my Dad at a BBQ Restaurant!

We have fun celebrating my dad (who was TOTALLY SHOCKED, which was extra fun!), eating, and holding Carley slash taking pictures of ourselves holding Carley. 

You know all those years of childhood you spent making sure that you and your siblings got the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF TIME doing something limited/coveted (sitting in the front seat of the car (before that was illegal), playing video games, choosing what movie to watch, holding the new puppy)? Well, this skill comes in super handy again once there is ONE baby and FORTY-SEVEN hands that want to hold her (rough estimate). Sarah and I can shut down pretty much everyone else in the room pretty fast (Jake & Emily- out, they get to have her all the time. Our parents- out, they live 2 miles away. Emily's parents- out, they live 10 miles away. Anyone else- out, they don't love her enough) so we have just the two of us to share her between. So far we've kept things moderately friendly, although we certainly keep tabs on who's had the most time and who is proving she does/does not love her the most [for instance, while I was holding Carley, Sarah accidentally bumped (barely brushed) C's head with her elbow. CLEARLY SARAH HATES HER AND IS A TERRIBLE AUNT OMG HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?!??!]. Obviously I'm winning, but Sarah keeps it a pretty close race. 

Sunday Afternoon: Father's Day Cookout at Jake & Emily's House.
 I'm sure you're all shocked to think that we might spend the afternoon passing around the baby and taking pictures. Matt even got some turns this time...sometimes Sarah and I are saintly like that.

Later Sunday Afternoon: I Woo Carley to Sleep Using my Top-Secret, Patent-Pending, Highly Effective Baby Whispering Techniques.

Everyone else ate, I spend 20 minutes convincing Carley that life isn't completely terrible and that she won't miss anything fun if she closes her eyes for a few minutes. As soon as I got her to calm down a little in my arms, Sarah decided that my time was up and more or less snatched C away. Then, 5 minutes later, when she puts the sleeping baby into her crib, she tries to steal all the Baby Whispering credit. The nerve, right? It's okay. We all know who the Best Aunt really is.

All in all, it was a completely delightful weekend. In case you can't tell, I absolutely love spending time with my sister and my family, and I am head over heels for that precious one-month-old (!!!!), 45-lb (ish) chunk of baby. And I have the photographs to prove it. Boom.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

it's a gift, really.

Today is Father's Day, and I'm happy to claim my dad as the Best Dad Ever in the Born in 1950s Division (it would be 'ever, period' except obviously Matt would also need to hold that title, so I created divisions based on birth-years so that they can both simultaneously hold the title). We were thankful to get to celebrate the weekend with him (and the rest of my fam-- much more on that tomorrow!) and give him silly gifts and have yummy food.

But as you would probably expect, Matt and I also exchange Mother's and Father's Day presents with one another. Call it 'from Lola,' call it 'consolation prizes for infertility,' call it 'we want to be parents more than anyone on earth ever,' or just call it 'we like excuses to buy presents for each other!''s just how we roll. 

Sometimes our gifts are traditional (flowers, chocolate), sometimes practical (beach towels), and then sometimes you just shop where the Spirit leads you...and you come up with the Best Present Ever. For your husband. For Father's Day.

When I saw these *cough*ontheclearancerackatTarget*cough*, I knew. I knew. Matt needed them.

#1) We've had a ridiculous, sappy, stupid-to-anyone-except-us inside joke about unicorns since before we were married. Unicorns are equal to love for us, but they've never managed to make it into our home decor...or kitchen utensils...or anything, really. Until now. WHAT AN OPPORTUNITY!!

#2) Matt really likes corn handle thingies. We got some a few years ago as a part of a BBQ set. They were some kind of cheap dyed wood and the color bled onto our fingers as we used them. I never used them again. It doesn't really bother me to touch my corn, so it wasn't a big deal for me. But Matt...he missed them. A few weeks ago he actually dug through the drawers and found those holders. He started using them again (we eat a fair amount of grilled corn). I tease him every time, but he doesn't care. So in a way, these are actually rather practical.

#3) Read that description on the card!!! I mean...hilarious. How could I not purchase them?

Obviously, I was going to wait until Father's Day to give him this amazing gift (along with some other treats). But then on Friday night, we were at my parents' house and we were having a fish fry and my mom grilled some corn. As we sat down at the table, I noticed there were no corn holders...and I knew. I just knew. It was Time.

Basically, everyone died laughing. Even if you don't have inside jokes about unicorns...or care about touching your corn...these are just dang funny. SO funny. Matt generously allowed everyone else to use them, long as he got the green ones. 

They made a fun dinner even better, and I'm just gonna have to say...uniCORN holders are a way better FD gift than ties. And now we have to find a place of honor for them in our kitchen. Forever and ever. Amen.