Monday, September 30, 2013

Honeymooners: NYC Edition!

I am not sure how I am going to write anything right now because my husband just taught me how to use the TV so I can "ffwd" commercials and change back and forth between the football game and The Voice blind auditions, sooooo ... ... this might end up being a LOT of pictures. I mean really, how can you expect me to tear my glance from the kaleidoscope of black/white/gold/teal/green that is MNF (Dolphins v. Saints) alternated with firefighters and 16-year-old girls indulging their secret wish to become famous singers??

Confession: I am ready for a coach besides Blake Shelton to win The Voice (no offense Blake -- you brilliant businessman). But I am not ready for Drew Brees to stop winning. Just keep that trend going. We'll see what happens.

Anyhow, last week my husband and I took our Honeymoon. Sure, it was our first anniversary, and yes -- I am 6 months pregnant. So if you think that bloating, constipation, regular charlie horses, hormones, lots of naps, and eating small meals constantly is sexy, then yes -- we had an incredibly sexy honeymoon!

But seriously, it was awesome. I loved every single minute we had together on this trip, and I don't want to forget it. My husband has many great qualities, but one thing I can't get over about him is the way he makes life fun. I can be serious and think too much -- and he thinks a lot, too, but usually it's about how to make today more fun than yesterday! He is always amazing me with the ideas he comes out with and I just get to enjoy the ride!

First stop was New York City. I have been there once, but it was over 10 years ago, for a few short hours, and I can't remember much about it except for bus smog, so this felt like a first-time visit.

Saw this and I thought "I'm in a movie right now!"

Our dog met his altar ego on the street --  I assume this happens a lot in NYC
What dreams are made of
This photo taken by our awesome friends David and Crystal, who took us around and fed us and we repaid them by rudely forgetting to take their picture in return. Gotta love them!
Proportion of taxis to regular cars is obscene -- embarrassing show by regular cars
Excited to take my baby bump to see Rafiki -- she looks flattered
So, a lot has already been said about the Lion King on Broadway. All I can say is that it's worth a see. I am not sure I should overhype it any further. It did draw tears to my eyes. I did audibly "ooh" and "ahh" at unexpected theatrics. I had a great time -- and this is coming from someone who had no love for the Disney movie as a kid! You might like it too.

The Lion King was when strangers first started getting really vocal about my obvious pregnantness. I have definitely crossed that threshold and people who've never met me before no longer have any qualms about judging my proximity to alcohol (can it be absorbed by holding hands with someone drinking a rum and coke?? might not be good for the baby!), and offering me things like congratulations and extra cushions. In general, it's fine. Just weird. 

I kept feeling like I was in the opening scenes of Moulin Rouge with CITY STUFF coming at me in my face and disorienting me. Either that, or Blade Runner. Not in a bad way, just in a CONSTANT STIMULI sense.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the best thing that ever happened to me...
Hands down, the best breakfast I have ever eaten. Buttermilk blueberry pancakes, complete with lemon peel and wild Maine blueberry compote on top. Served with homemade whipped cream and applewood smoked bacon. You CANNOT miss this if you are in NYC. Just don't do it to yourself. I wept for joy over this food. And not just cause of the pregnancy. 
This is what "magical" looks like -- above the escalator at the Disney Store-- where we stopped to find Mickey things for my nephews, a.k.a. "Mouseketeers"??
And finally, ENORMOUS Calico Critters, just to bring your nightmares to life.  Love these little guys!
NYC was a great time. I don't think I could live there, but I sure did stare open-mouthed the whole time. I would go back for a few days, very intentionally to "do NYC," and hopefully stop and meet Stephen Colbert next time.

All in all, a great way to open the honeymoon/anniversary/babymoon trip.

PS - while writing this, I have chosen Preston Pohl with Team Adam to go all the way this season. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Five Faves (vol. 1)

Linking up with Hallie for the 1st time ever today! She is super fun and reminds me to celebrate the small joys of life and share them with others. By reading hers and Grace's, I have made several discoveries of awesome in the world that I never would've known existed otherwise. Power of blogging, guys.


I have started commuting a lot, so I've been trying to find things to listen to while I drive in order to cut down on the wasted time / stress / boredom of the traffic jungle.
This podcast is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I don't know about you, but some days I just crave the opportunity to hear 2 women speak in a Southern twang to one another about their opinions on all subjects from what they're cooking for dinner to what Hillary Clinton's hairstyle says about the administration. Quote of the day had something to do with how there are certain things we don't need to see, and the underside of a man's arm is one of them. Come ON. How much truer does it get?


Again with the commuting! A friend recommended the Waze GPS app to my husband and me and we have been using it faithfully since relocating further from our jobs. My husband knows his way around the area pretty fantastically, so he can almost always devise a back way around bad traffic if need be. I am a different story. I am the type of person that can't remember how to get somewhere until I've actually driven there myself once or twice -- don't expect me to find it just 'cause I've been there before if someone else was driving!

Waze helps me get around, but most importantly, it finds the fastest routes and sends alerts about hazards, accidents, police traps, etc. I love when it re-routes me due to morning traffic -- I swear I've taken 6 or 7 different routes to work in the past 3 weeks. I never get bored!

Not to mention that it's social, and I love feeling the kinship with other commuters as we go bobbing along our merry ways.

Drive safely!


REVLON ColorStay Aqua Mineral Makeup

I love love mineral makeup, but it gets a little $!$!$! I have been trying to find little ways to save here and there, so one morning I rolled up my sleeves and started researching the best drug store cosmetics on the Wonderful World of the Web (WWW).

I then ventured bravely into the local CVS and made some experimental purchases. The Revlon mineral makeup is reasonably priced (under $15, and sometimes under $12, depending on where you buy it!). It matches my skin tone beautifully, gives a cooling sensation upon application, and even has a little shimmer to it! The other true story is that it lasts pretty much ALL day, but doesn't get all weird on me if I reapply.
(My least favorite part is the brush, but you can't have everything for under $15.)



This CCM is called "liturgical post-rock," whatever that means, and I find it very pleasant and challenging to my sensibilities. Honest lyrics and brightly skillful instrumentation caught my ear and my soul. It is not what you're probably expecting of CCM, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Give it a listen for free on Spotify!

Apparently I am just discovering them as they are about to come out with a new release! Sorta cool.


Vacation!! Pretty soon, I get to go to Cape Cod. I told someone this was in Maine. It is not in Maine. I really badly want to go to Maine, but just saying that the place that I am going in Maine does not actually get me there, I've had to tell myself. Maybe next time.

Currently I'm looking up things to do and clapping my hands gleefully at the prospect of a whole week traveling with my husband and dogs, far away, to a place we've never been before. Welcome, Autumn!


I think it is the only decent thing to do here to add that I discovered something truly disgusting in the food department this week. I won't tell you not to try it yourself, but if you don't love gross things, I advise against this. And if you try to feed it to me at your house, I will NOT eat it just to be polite. It is Almond non-dairy "yogurt" substitute. And it is foul. I'm not going to name any brand names here. But you've been warned.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Spirit Had ACL Surgery

The question of how spiritual growth happens is a very compelling to me. I am trying to wrestle with the question for myself, and figure it out as I go along in my writing. I hope you will share your feedback!

I believe in the idea that as a Christian person, it is a good idea for me to read and study the Bible and pray. In fact, I love doing those things! Disciplines cause growth, right? And yes, I would love to grow. Yet when I honestly examine my crazy, out-of-control schedule and the impact aforementioned lack of control has on my psyche, I realize that I really don’t a) study the Bible or b) pray much at all anymore.

Eleven years of age seemed to be the pinnacle of practicing spiritual disciplines in my life. At that time, I was a reader, studier, pray-er, and journal-er. I would definitely say I got a lot out of those disciplines, and I enjoyed them. I could FEEL the growing. I felt “close” to God. Perhaps it was my innocence, but those were certainly “times of sweet refreshing,” and I miss that.

At first I thought that the problem was just the lack of disciplines at all, so I’m trying to pick those up again. Not out of guilt, but out of desire. Sometimes out of desperation, piled on top of the desire. 

Maybe I’m rusty, or maybe this year and all its joy and tragedy has left me completely emotionally drained, but I just don’t feel the spiritual life that I remember feeling in the past when I would approach these disciplines. I have felt this way on and off over a period of years, and I think that’s why ultimately I let my routine fall by the way-side – it wasn’t having the same impact, or I wasn’t feeling the right feelings in response to what I was doing, and that sense of deadness scared me so I just decided to shut it down. 

Rather than dealing with my sense of spiritual deadness, I stopped engaging in the activities that were forcing me to confront it.

Lately, I have been bombarded with messages of Grace. Our pastor is preaching a sermon series on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he’s talked much about grace. I participated in the Living Proof Live Simulcast this past Saturday, and Beth Moore’s entire teaching was about grace. Ann Voskamp writes about applying grace to ourselves in everyday life, pretty much nonstop. 

I think part of what made me feel good about my spiritual disciplines in the past, was the feeling that I was a good little girl for doing what I was doing – I felt good doing it all because it made me feel good about myself. Once that delusion is dissolved in the wake of grace, what is left?
I sit down at the Bible to start reading, and it sort of feels like chewing on rocks. I’m not getting anywhere. I’m a churched girl, I’ve read this book all my life, and yet somehow the passages seem disconnected from me and over my head. It’s like watching RGIII try to play football this season – it’s bewildering because we all know he knows what he’s doing, but somehow, going through the motions isn’t getting results. At least, not yet. 

But I am tired of spiritually living vicariously through spiritual teachers, when I know that I have the tools that I need right in front of me. I don’t want to do what I’ve done so many times in the past, and walk away from the pieces when the puzzle gets too frustrating. I believe that the Word is Life, and that Jesus left me His Spirit that I might HAVE life, and have it abundantly. 

Today I am frustrated trying to engage with Scripture. But I will keep it at it, as authentically as possible. I would love to hear from others if you’ve ever felt this way before, and what did you do about it?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Place & Time -or- A Memory and A Place

I grew up viewing the coffee shop and the bookstore as the two ultimate destinations in life. I usually looked forward to going to the bookstore to admire all the different types of blank books or journals I could lay hands on. I'll never forget my first blank book -- it was covered in 90s faux denim. The pages were lined. I wrote about everything that came to my funny, prepubescent mind and I loved it. I used it when we moved across country via mini van. Im still addicted to the blank book. Until high school I didn't like coffee, so I would drink tea whenever I had the privilege of visiting the coffee shops with my dad. Back then Starbucks had the Tazoberry frappuccino. Back then I was too little to know that the whipped cream on top was more than half the calories, and I had no idea what an annoying drink I was asking the baristas to make me. I was just a little girl enjoying Daddy time. Now I've worked in a coffee shop for years at a stretch, and I still go back as often as I can, both to chains and independents. It keeps me connected to my roots, to my dad, and to some of my dearest childhood memories.

A few weeks ago someone took to Facebook strongly criticizing northern Virginia and Washington, DC.  Apparently, Baltimore is superior. I won't argue against the charms of Charm City, which I happen to adore myself, but I got thinking about how much I really love DC and Arlington. My husband is tired of hearing me tell him how I privately vowed to myself on a 6th grade family field trip to a museum (which I hated!) that one day I would live in the glamorous national capital. As I grew older I began to see that might be unrealistic, and I dropped the matter. Through no searching of my own, a job opportunity landed in my lap and I've been living and working in Arlington since 2011. Loving every minute! I love walking wherever I want to go. I love all the runners and bikers -- and bike share! I love the sports bars and the way little villages of restaurants and shops sprout up around popular metro destinations. I love DC sports teams. I love how generous the wealthy can be. I love the ethnic restaurants and the myriad food trucks. I love the FREE museums (now!), and endless free cultural experiences in DC. I love going running through the monuments and admiring the architecture. I adore the crazy hundreds who play in kickball rec leagues on the Mall. I love the craft beer scene, the street festivals, and the fact that I can score a quick Guinness after a 10-mile training run. I love, more than anything, the amazing friends I have made living here, and that I met my husband here, and that he proposed to me with the backdrop of the Washington Monument and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. I love the cherry blossom trees! Peddle boats! Crazy tourists! Hot dogs! 4th of July. Chinatown. Every village in Arlington. Fro yo. Access. I love the controversy and the energy and the thousands of genuine people for every one politician. I love that Children's is where my precious baby nephew's life was saved. The place feels like home, and that's one thing I've not regularly been able to say about anywhere.