Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm here.

Finally.  And I'm ecstatic.  And there will be posts soon enough.  :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Today

Well, say your prayers and cross your fingers, because I'm leaving the states today.  :)  I am pretty much one big bubble of excitement right now.  I can't believe it's finally here!

I hope you all have fabulous Christmases, and I wish you wonderful new years.  :)

And now, the squeal I know you all knew was coming:
EEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Packing

I sit down before my suitcase and wonder how I'll ever manage to stuff enough of my wardrobe into it.  I'm a heavy packer, and I'm only taking one bag.  This could be a problem.  I fold the first sweater, and as I lay it inside I'm suddenly transported back to the day I packed for our Senior Trip.  I was a bundle of nerves that day.  Kyle was still completely oblivious to my existence and I was determined that the next week of time together would change that.  I wish I could go back and tell myself that it would work out.  I spent altogether way too much time worrying and not nearly enough savoring those fleeting moments of tender uncertainty and hope.

A faded grey t-shirt comes next.  I feel its softness, hold it to my cheek, and remember that it is what I was wearing when we shared our first kiss.  God, I was so scared...  I was leaving his house to go to work.  He walked me out to my car and as I turned to go, he caught my hand, pulled me close and whispered that he loved me.  He said it slowly, earnestly, and to this day it is my favorite moment of my entire life.  It wasn't the first time he'd said it.  It was the second, but it was the first time I was convinced it wasn't a dream.  It was the time I believed it.  We'd both had time to think since that first declaration, and both still trusted that it was true.  We broke apart, but he kept both my hands in his. 

"Would it be okay?"  I love that he asked first.

I just nodded my head.  Honestly it was all I was capable of.  And then he kissed me.  And it was soft and sweet and sincere...but most of all it was perfect.

Into the suitcase the shirt goes, and with it a hundred other bits of my life, all trapped between the threads.

I'm digging through my closet, trying to decide if I have a dress that's suitable for winter weather when I find another moment tucked away:  A night just before we started dating.  It was the night after prom, and our entire gang of friends spent the night at Kylie's house because we'd been out so late.  Everyone else was upstairs sleeping, but Kyle and I were still in the living room, me stretched out on one sofa and him on another, staring at the ceiling and talking about anything and everything.  We traded secrets and dreams and fears, and when Kylie's mom came downstairs at six the next morning, we pretended to be asleep, unintentionally drifting off into what was the most peaceful rest I've ever known.

I smile as I tuck this memory away again, and venture downstairs to pick a book for the plane.  Here I find the volumes that kept me company while Kyle was away, the places I escaped to during our separations.  Here are the books I gave him for his birthday two months late when he came home this summer.  Here is the one he purchased for me the day we went shopping and said I didn't need it.  I couldn't justify spending $25 on a book just because it was new, but he wouldn't let me go without it.  He said I should let him do things for me while he was here...soon he'd be away again.  I stopped protesting after that, just like he knew I would.

I pull my robe around myself a bit tighter and select a book for the flight, and as I do so I realize that even this fuzzy pink monstrosity holds a bit of our past.  It was while he was home this summer.  We were at my house, and it was somewhere in the vicinity of 2AM when we both realized we were hungry.  A quick raid of the kitched turned up nothing of interest, and we were stumped.  I thought for a moment.

"What about pancakes?" I proposed.

"Pancakes are good," he said.  So I pulled down the flour and sugar and milk and such and went to work.  I spilled flour on my fluffy pink robe, but those were probably the best pancakes I've ever made.  Later that night, or that morning, rather, just as we were drifting off to sleep he laughed a little and told me he loved me.

"Why?" I asked, smiling.

"Because.  You just made me pancakes at two o'clock in the morning."  And then we both laughed.

I play those precious moments over and over in my mind, and I smile to myself, knowing that these memories are only the prequel to the story we'll share.  I can't wait until next Monday.  I can't wait to see what the next chapters will bring.  You know, if I ever manage to get packed.  :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blogger of the Month - December 2009

Photobucket

Hello, and welcome to the first announcement ceremony of the highly coveted Blogger of the Month Award!

First, a detailing of the standards of these winners:  The recipient of this award is a blogger who exemplifies the core traits of a good blog.  Their blog must be well written, clear, and must keep readers up to date.  It should exhibit a true story, not something fabricated, and should strive to reach out to its readers.  The  connections made by blogging are invaluable, and the blogger should seem to understand that.  It should be something that makes the audience want to hear more, and should in turn sate that curiosity.

This month I chose to recognize a blogger I have been following for a few months, and one that is highly deserving.  Her blog has really resonated with me lately, and I think there's a good chance you'll love it too.  So with no further fuss, let's give a big "Congratulations" to Whitney from Glamorous Life of a Housewife!

Whitney's blog is the poignantly penned account of the life she has created with her husband and baby son.  She discusses everything from mundane chores to the many stresses of being married to a man in med school, but through her words these things become filled with as much magic for us readers as they surely are through her own eyes.  It has been an absolute delight to accompany her through this precious but sometimes trying time in her life.

When you arrive on Whitney's blog, you are affronted by a quaint, fifties inspired header featuring the cliche pearl-clad housewife, feather duster in hand.  The subtitle makes us the immediate promise that she is going to reveal the "charm in chores and the magic in motherhood."  For anyone who knows anything about the day-to-day of a stay at home mother, those are bold words, but it's a vow she makes good on.   Each of Levi's accomplishments are described with charming adoration that is contagious,  each visit to her family is an adventure, and I've quickly found that Whitney's mother is a force to be reckoned with:  straight out of a...dare I say old-fashioned?...era and firmly set in her good natured ways.  Recently she engaged in a task worthy of my Making a Difference Mondays on overdrive:  hugging a completely unknown homeless man and contributing to his supposed dinner fund in the middle of what sounds like a very shady downtown area.  She is certainly among the bravest and most caring souls I've had the pleasure of knowing (sort of), and she's also the lady that supplied Whitney with her huge amount of housewifey-know-how.

Whitney is quite open with her readers, responding to emails and comments promptly, which is quite a feat as she has more than six hundred twenty followers to date.  Despite her fame, she is down-to-earth and engaging.  She says that the "most rewarding part of blogging for me, is definitely the readers and the relationships I have built with them.  It is so encouraging to know that I can get on here and vent or just talk, and SOMEONE will always be able to relate." 

She stays true to her beliefs, and is a daily source of my inspiration, so, naturally, I was curious as to where she found her own.  When I emailed her to ask if she'd be the first recipient of my award, I asked her what things spurred her blogging, this is what she had to say:  "I draw inspiration for my blog through my day to day life.  Living life as a housewife and new mom is quite interesting as I try to balance being a good mom AND a good wife, all while trying to keep a nice home.  Sometimes that is a struggle, so I wake up every day trying to live as my tag-line states -- finding the charm in chores and the magic in motherhood."  She went on to explain that she had always "journaled and such," so when blogging became popular she decided to give it a go.  It was a more efficient way of documenting, and the reader response was a big plus.   That a statement to which I'd wager we can all relate.

I can only hope I will be able to meet the challenges of keeping a home and starting a family with half as much grace as this young woman, and even more challenging, that I can make it as entertaining for you readers!

Pop on over and give Whitney a congratulatory comment, and while you're there, take a deeper look.  Who knows, her blog might become one of your favorite places to visit as well.

Congrats, dear, and the very best of wishes in all you do.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Bargain

Today I watched a video from my Senior Trip.  My friends and Kyle and I were captured there on the screen, a permanent reminder of the way we were in the time just before our "real lives" began:  before Kyle and I were a couple, before I started on my way to be a librarian, before he chose to join the military, before some of us parted ways, and before we realized how much stress came of preparing for the future.  Sure, it was all looming there on the horizon, but we were 'blissfully unaware.'

My hair was longer then.  I miss it now.  Kylie looked happier than I've saw her in months.  I was still smiling and laughing with high school friends I no longer see.  And Kyle...  Kyle didn't really look alive yet.  There were glimmers of that beautiful, vibrant spirit in him that I already loved, but he spent most of that trip sunk deep in the old depression that took us months to overcome.  And there are even a few shots where you can see the pleading in my eyes, the desperate hope that one day he would look at me and see all the love I was harboring as the potential for another chance at being happy.

Seeing him like that, caught in the phase between longing for a girl from the past and learning to love me, made me remember how I felt in that torturously prolonged in-between.  Those few months were the darkest hell I've ever known.  I cannot count the nights I fell asleep with tears on my cheeks and a pillow hugged to my chest; I cannot begin to fathom the number of my smiles that were only half-felt; and I really don't know how I found the patience and courage to make it to the place I have reached today.

You see, I did not fall in love in any of the usual ways.  When I fell in love with Kyle, it was in one instant during the latter half of our senior year.  It was fast and sharp and without warning.  It took my breath away, and in that moment I knew my life was going to change.  I just didn't know how.  Oddly enough, until that moment, we had hardly spoken, and ever since I have been convinced that there is indeed a form of destiny or fate, perhaps even a "divine plan."

Kyle, however, didn't fall in love so quickly.  He had to fall out of love with an old idea first, and waiting around for that was wretched.  There were times when I would talk to him, and he'd look straight through me, and I would know he was thinking of someone else.  There were days when I could see the pain settling around him, and I'd want nothing more than to hold him and soothe it away, to see the suffering end no matter what it took.  At that point, I didn't really understand my love for him.  I didn't know where it came from, or what it meant.  All I knew was that I wanted to see him smile because that smile...it made the world slow down.  It made things make sense.  It made me feel at peace for the first time in my life.  And so I set out to fix his broken heart, and in the process mine came to life. 

Upon discovering the many trials that Kyle was experiencing, my friends and I brought him into our circle.  The initial goal was just to make sure he had people to lean on:  to let him know he wasn't alone.  However, as they discovered one by one the way I felt, that goal changed.  For the first time in my life, I didn't deny the feelings I was experiencing, not even to myself.  The stakes were too high this time.  I knew that graduation was quickly approaching, and I couldn't bear the possibility of not seeing him again.  (Not even a few weeks in and already life without him seemed impossible to face.  I never stood a chance, really...)  So I made sure that it wasn't an option for me to disappear from his life, and my friends helped push him in the right direction.  (What are they for, eh?)

Within a matter of weeks we'd become close, and I knew that while all I really needed was to see him happy, I'd be a fool to ignore that I ached to be the girl that kept him that way.  Eventually, I reached a breaking point.  Kyle was completely oblivious to the massive-yet-subtle effort at matchmaking, and I am not the blunt type.  I needed him to see me without me throwing myself at him.  I needed to know that if we were to be together it was because he wanted me because I am me, not just because I was the first opportunity to present itself.  I knew that something had to change if we were going to work...but I didn't know what to do.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the part of the story that I am most shocked by, even now, having lived it.  This is the part in which I did something I hadn't resorted to in years.  This is the part where I swallowed my pride, sank to my knees, and prayed that his broken heart would mend.  It may not seem like much to you, but believe me when I say that it is.  (My experience with religion has not been a good one, and I am more than a little reluctant to reimmerse myself in it.  This however, is food for a different post.)  I cried as I pleaded and hoped with the purest and most selfless of intentions I have ever had.  And you know, I honestly think that is what finally made the difference...the fact that my tears weren't only for myself.  You could call it talking with God, or you could simply call it some sort of personal catharsis...whatever you wish it to be, that act, recognizing what my heart really wanted, was what made me realize what defines a love as being true.

I made a sort of bargain that day, whether with God or myself I'm not entirely sure, but either way it stands:  If I could have this one thing, if I could have his love in return, then I would withstand whatever else was thrown at me.  Having him beside me would make me strong enough to face any obstacle.  This change of attitude is the final straw to which I accredit our coming together.  (Well, you know, when you set aside silly, romantic notions like fate and destiny.)  Because of it, I knew I could not give up -- that I was in far too deep to walk away without a real effort.  I think in some of my darker days of lonliness I forget that.  I think I honestly forget that I knew what it was like to really be alone once.  Even now I am not in that horrifying a place.

One day, not long after we first started dating, while I was still basking in the shock of it all and not entirely convinced it was really happening, I remember telling Kyle, "You could break me."  He just kissed my hand as a reply, but I don't think he really knew what I meant.  I didn't only mean that he could break me...I meant that he was the only thing left that could break me.  Life without him was something I had already faced, and something I knew I couldn't survive while still remaining whole.

Eventually, with time, he grew to understand exactly how deep my love ran.  I don't think he quite believed me at first.  I can't really blame him.  I wouldn't have believed it either, given the circumstances.  And now I think we both share a faith in our love that keeps us strong. 

It is miraculous, the way we came together (both so quickly, and after a lifetime of waiting), and at the perfect time:  just as our childhoods closed and the next chapter in our lives began.  Just barely at the point at which we were both prepared for a real commitment.  I honestly believe I am the luckiest woman in the world to have found him, and to love and be loved so deeply.  I know it's a rare thing, a bond like ours, and I don't take it for granted for a second...  I can't.  Not when I know how empty life would be otherwise.  It's a prize worth every bit of its price and more, because with his love I can meet every demand of our sometimes enormously challenging life.  That was, after all, my end of the bargain, and I wouldn't trade what I have for anything.

Typed:  12/15/2009

Welcome to the 1st Annual Blogging Birthday Bash!

I can hardly believe this day has arrived.  When I started this blog, I thought it would be just like any of my other projects:  I thought I'd give it up within a few weeks.  Surprisingly, I didn't.  I commited to it.  I commited to you readers.  ...it was the best decision I ever made.

This blog has changed the way I live my life, and most assuredly for the better.  But lets skip all the sappy mumbo-jumbo for now, shall we? 

Without any further ado, come on in, one and all, and lets have some blog-hoppin' fun. =)

---

I awoke on the morning of my Blogging Birthday with a smile.  It was finally here!  When I descended the stairs, prepared to conduct a last minute clean-up before you lovely people began to arrive, I found that there was nothing to be done.  I nearly fell down the stairs when I saw what used to be my living room.



I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my apartment, I do, but it's no where near this lovely.  Something very strange was going on.  I know how big my downstairs is.  It couldn't possibly hold all this!  I opened the front door and looked around outside.  The building didn't appear any larger...

About the time I started to scratch my head in wonder, a tabby cat with spectacle markings came running around the corner.  Then I realized what was going on. 



"You didn't think I'd really let you host a party in that, did you?" McGonagall said, raising a brow.

"That?" I responded with a scowl.  "What do you mean by 'that'?  I happen to love my living room."

"Yes, well, it's hardly practical for a gathering of this magnitude."  She had a point, so I conceded and she continued to tweek things until the place looked simply smashing.  Meanwhile, I teamed up with some very friendly house elves to do the cooking.

This was the fruit of our labor:



And the glory of the evening, the cake, in carroty colors, of course:



There was just enough time left over to change before everyone started to arrive...



Is this not the most gorgeous dress you've ever seen?  Ever???  It's a vintage 1950's Kathryn Kuhn Gown, and it's an absolute dream come true.  For all intents and purposes, we're saying that this is what I wore.  :)

Within moments of my descending the stairs once again guests began to arrive.  Some came by car, but some came by more conventional means.  Some arrived in a hot air balloon, and one man even arrived in a carriage pulled by alligators.  That one caused a bit of a scene...  We ate, we danced, we laughed, we cut into that marvelous cake...and we celebrated.  And at the end of the night, just before we all went home, I made the following birthday speech:

"First and foremost, I'd like to thank you all for coming.  Your being here...it means the world to me.  To know that so many people actually care astounds me each and every day.  This past year has been full of changes for me.  Some were changes of circumstance, but others were changes within myself, and I am so glad that you all were here to help me through them.

Having this blog has been a blessing I did not expect, but it is one for which I am constantly thankful.  So...here's to one wonderful year of friendship and discovery, and to many more to come."

And I meant every word.  I do owe you all so very much gratitude.  So on with the festivities!  Let's hear from the guests shall we??  Start popping around the guest list on the right to see what they were up to!  :)

---

::NOTE::

The give-away drawing will be conducted on Saturday to give everyone plenty of time to get their posts up.   Only guests who participated are eligible.  Good luck everyone!  :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Patchwork Post:

I have completely checked out of blog-land for the past few days, and below is the reason why.


I gave up my tumblr a while back, but I've fallen in love with it again.
It's so much fun, and such a great way to share beautiful things with a huge audience.
Do any of you guys tumbl?
If so, add me here and I'll return the favor.  :)
Also, I must announce:
I am going on a sort-of-kind-of leave of absense.

I leave for Germany in 13 days,
(eeeeeeeeeeeeeekkk!)
I have finals all this week,
and I have a very busy cookie-baking schedule coming up.
(We poor college kids have to home-make our Christmas gifts. =] )

I'm not saying I won't be popping in,
I'm just saying that I won't be able to give this blog the attention it deserves.

So, I'll be frequenting my tumblr.
And I'll do my best to keep you guys updated here.
It's a very hectic,
and extremely merry,
Holiday Season around these parts.

To keep you occupied until I'm back,
check out my Resolutions guest post over at Novelista Barista!
(Thank you so much, Jennifer!)

Happy Monday, everyone.  =)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nineteen Days

Nineteen days!  I'm not imagining it am I?  You guys can see that number on the countdown, too, right?  I don't know where the days went, but I'm glad they've left the calendar.  I don't think I have ever been this excited for anything.  Not even the last time he came home.  This time is...different.

I mean, I was ecstatic to see him last time, but I was also a little afraid. So much time had passed, and though we did our best to communicate through letters and a phone call each week, it was difficult.  I was terrified that we'd have changed...  But I was worried for nothing, as usual.  We did change, but we did it together somehow.  We managed to stay in perfect balance, maturing and growing together even though we were apart.  This experience has been every bit as much as journey for me as it has been for him...

Anyway, now I have none of those fears.  Now I am completely consumed by excitement and anticipation.  I am not nervous or apprehensive in the least, and in only nineteen short days I will be in the place that is the closest to heaven I have ever known.  And what with the stress of finals and my first ever time on a plane and the fact that Christmas break means a solid month without pay for student workers...  It can't come fast enough.  I need a break from Kentucky problems right about now.

And a little bit closer to home, I've finally caught Christmas fever.  :)  The tree is up, the first presents are underneath, and I'm breaking out the Christmas candy recipes.  It even snowed for the first time a couple days ago.  It was beautiful, and I hope it keeps on coming.  It might be nineteen days until heaven, but it's only sixteen until Christmas, so in honor of both looming dates can we get a holiday themed happy dance over here?  Yes?  Why thank you!

HAPPY DANCE!!! 

PS.  Also, don't forget about my Blogging Birthday Bash on the sixteenth!  There's still time to sign up if you want to be entered for a chance in my giveaway!  :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Blogging Intrigue


I have been doing a lot of thinking about this blog lately, and about what it is that makes me love it so much.  And you know what?  It's so many things.

It's the complete and total freedom.  Here, I am entirely myself, with no mask to cover how I really feel.  When I am sad, I express that.  When I am afraid, I admit it.  When I am happy, I smile, and you all smile with me.  I don't have to worry about seeming strong or mature or prepared.  I can be honest here when I cannot be anywhere else.  It's such a relief sometimes.  There are days when all I want to do is lock myself in my room and just scream at the top of my lungs because of the strain from all the pretending.  Those are the days when I come here with an open heart and let however I'm feeling pour into this little composition box.  When I am worried or terrified or overwhelmed I can tell you, and you don't look at me like I'm weak or judge me because I have a complaint.  I don't have to look at the pity in your eyes, because it isn't there.  Instead I find acceptance and comfort in your words, and that is an exquisit thing for which I cannot thank you enough.

It's about the connections, too.  I have found so many people here, people I couldn't have met otherwise.  People who write beautifully and eloquently.  People who have been through the same kind of separations.  People who have taught me to try and live in the present rather than spend so much time looking ahead.  People who have given me more comfort than my friends ever could, because they can understand exactly how I feel.  People with whom I have so much in common.  People that could have been my best friends had we grown up nearer to one another.  Here, the world doesn't seem so very large.  It is amazing to have bridged such gaps with technology.

There is also a sense of total control here that I love.  So much of my life is dictated by school and work and the Army. So much of it is out of my hands, taken only on faith and hope.  It is quite the comfort to have this one place where I get to call the shots.  I decide what I want to talk about.  I decide that this blog is an honest place.  I decide that I want to do something worthwhile to me, and I act on my decision.  I can't tell you how sweet a satisfaction that is on days when I'm feeling stuck.  Sometimes trying to balance my life and Kyle's makes me feel like I'm involved in an elaborate circus act:  juggling the different and opposing rules by which we live.  Here though, I lay those fears and problems bare, and instead of my issues being up in the air they're spread out on a table before me where I can work them out at my leisure...and usually with some good advice from my readers.

However, this blog is also the one thing I have that is truly mine.  It serves as the place I go to talk about things that have absolutely nothing to do with my impending marriage and move.  Here is where you get to know me.  Here is where I can discuss things like recipes and books and my friends and my opinions and reactions to things happening around me.  Here is where I take my stand against what I consider the problems of the world.  Here is where I talk about the things I want, but know I may never have, or at least have to wait to get...the sacrifices I make for what is more important.  It helps to talk about those things.  Here is where my voice is heard not only as a daughter, sister, friend, fiancee, or student, but as a person:  a human being in my own right.  Sure, it is evident that parts of me belong to those I love, but I like to think that you can also find the sacred parts of me that belong only to myself.

Here I find love and compassion on a monumental scale.  This blog, all of you people, you restore my hope when it is failing.  In a world like ours it is easy to lose faith, but here I can remember that having faith is a part of who I am.  I do believe in the essential inner goodness of mankind.  I do believe that every piece of life has its purpose.  On certain dark days I owe my continued inner-optimism not only to my friends, family, and Kyle.  Sometimes I owe it entirely to you readers.

So thank you.  Thank you for opening your arms and taking me in when I needed a shelter.  Thank you for building me up and teaching me that it is okay to use my voice.  Thank you for simply being yourselves.  You guys will never really know how much you mean to me.  I wish more than anything that there was a way for me to meet you all face to face and give you the hug that you deserve so very much, especially those of you that have been with me since the beginning.

To get to the heart of things, I think that the true intrigue of the blog world is that it can be the polar opposite of networking sites like MySpace or facebook.  There is no need to photoshop your photos to make yourself look more attractive.  You don't have the pressure to spruce up your hobbies or interests lists to be "cool."  You're not trying to fit a mold.  Instead, here you can just let your real self shine, and eventually people with truly similar hearts stumble along and find you.  "Friend requests" here aren't just a button click away.  They're carefully generated bonds that began as just a few random comments.  And the way we are all brought together, the way we help each other...

That is absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fact or Fiction

I was over at Willow's delightful blog today, and she had the wonderful idea to play this Fact or Fiction game with her readers.  It looked like such fun, so I thought I'd give it a whirl and see how well you guys really know me.  Below are ten statements about me.  One of them is fiction and the other nine are facts.  Can you guess which one isn't quite true?
  1. I am allergic to mushrooms and blu cheese dressing.  One decent-sized bite will have me puking like crazy for hours.
  2. I wrote my first short story when I was six years old, during a winter snowstorm that caused a week-long power outage.  I was so engrossed while writing that my hair caught fire in the candle I was using for light and I didn't even notice.
  3. Kyle's sister Courtney and I have become best friends and have almost everything in common, but during our ten years of school together in our tiny hometown we somehow managed to never cross paths until Kyle and I started dating a year and a half ago.
  4. I have fallen down a staircase and acquired a semi-serious injury no less than four times, but have somehow managed to not break a single bone my entire life.
  5. I wrecked my first car by hitting the side of a bridge while the roads were wet and was then rear-ended the day I got it back from the repair shop, totalling it.  Then, after I got my replacement car, the stereo was stolen within the first week.  Both cars were four-door Saturns.
  6. I've had the chicken pox twice, and have a large number of tiny, white scars covering most of my body.  They aren't very noticeable unless you're looking for them.
  7. I left a Post Secret book in a Borders bookstore with an extra secret of my own slipped iside the pages.
  8. My mother named me Carrie after her best friend who moved away to Arkansas when she was sixteen, despite my father's pleas to name me after his great-grandmother Ilene.
  9. When I was a baby, I loved carrots.  In fact, I ate so many that the tips of my fingers and nose turned orange.  However, this has nothing to do with how I got my nickname.
  10. I never learned the "proper" way to swim, to ride a bike, or to do a cartwheel.
  11. (Bonus Fact)  My favorite flowers are dandelions after they've turned white and puffy, and I believe the wishes you make on them come true, one way or another.  :) 
Well?  What do you say?  Which one is not quite the truth?

PS -- If you guys decide to have one of these Fact or Fiction games on your own blog, please let me know by leaving a link in the comments section of this post.  I'd love to try and guess for all of you guys too!

PPS -- People who know me in real life:  No spoiling this for everyone else, pretty please.  :)

[**UPDATE**  Thanks so much for playing along, guys!  This was fun.  :)  The only question that was false was #8.  My great-grandmother's name was Carrie.  The name was also one my mother had picked as a child, and continued to love until she was pregnant with me.  It was a pretty nice coincidence.

Contrary to popular belief, you can contract chicken pox twice.  I had a mild case as a baby, so I wasn't given the vaccine, and then I caught it again in the fifth grade.

And yes, I did write my first short story at the age of six.  It was about a bunch of girls that went on a camping trip and found a cave full of dragons.  My grandmother had it published in the local newpaper.]

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Finally

Finally I have a set date to offer.
Finally my countdown means something.
Finally I know I'll get to leave.
Finally I can really look forward to Christmas break...
in Germany.

If everything goes according to plan, I'll arrive there on the 28th of December for about a week-long visit.  I could not be any happier about this.  It will have been exactly three months since we've seen each other, and while that doesn't really sound like a long time, I assure you that I've felt each day of it with the same impact as I'd feel a year when we're together.

It feels like it's been forever, but it also feels like it flew by.  ...like things were happening without my notice.  Like I'm waking up from the longest, deepest sleep to find that life has gone on without me.  Like I need to catch up fast so that I'll be ready when the time comes to leave.  Like it was yesterday that we had to say goodbye, and yesterday that I began an emotional hibernation.  But it also feels like yesterday was ages ago. 

It is a contradiction, I know, but that's just how it feels.

But that feeling isn't really important.  It's fleeting.  The pain and disorientation is only temporary.  In the end it is replaced by something much greater.  This other feeling is contained in that first glimpse of each other after so long.  It's full of all the smiles and laughs we've missed, saturated with the longing and the love, fueled by faith and patience, and punctuated by sweet, quiet relief.  It comes with the first easy breath in a long time, the first one I don't have to think about, and I'd almost swear that everything else stops for that one glorious moment.

It kind of feels like this:


Or this:


It is an incredible feeling, and it is coming in just 27 more days. :)

[images via sabino]

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wedding Update #1

On Thanksgiving day my mom, aunt and I went location browsing.  I've always thought I wanted to be married outside in the summer, so we focused mainly on searching for a large open field that wasn't too far into the middle of nowhere.  Before we went home, I took them to this adorable church.  This is where Courtney and Ryan were married.  :) 

Mom and Aunt are completely sold.  They don't even want to look anywhere else.  In fact, they're trying to convince me to move the wedding inside instead of outside.  "But what if it rains?"  "Won't it be too hot?"  "What about bugs?"  (They're rather convincing.  The inside is pretty.) 

Anyhoo, the bottom two images are of the field outside to the left of the building.  The bottom one is an outdoor reception area.  If you look closely you can see snow in the photo of the pretty field.  It was cold

What do you guys think?  Opinions?  Arguements about the benefits of either an indoor or outdoor ceremony?  Just remember that it's almost winter.  Everything will look more alive and green in the summer time.  :) 

(You can click on the image to make it bigger.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Celebration is in Order

My first Blogging Birthday is right around the corner, and in honor of it I'm hosting my very first blog hop!  :)  You are all hereby invited to my Blogging Birthday Bash

We will meet up here on December 16th to celebrate so many things:  the birth of new friendships, the blogging outlet for self-expression, the invention of birthday cake, and,  of course, some free and easy publicity for all of you fantastic readers. 

I'll upload my own party post, and you guys get to play along by creating yours.  What will you wear?  This is, after all, a black-tie event.  We must all be looking fab.  Who will you bring as a date?  How will you arrive? (Floo power?  Limo?  Hot air balloon?)  Who will you mingle with; do you have any friends coming?  Will you experience celebrity sightings?   Oh the possibilities...

Anyhoo, please RSVP to me before the party day via email with your name and the link to your blog and I'll add you to the guest list in the right sidebar so that you partiers can get to know each other.  :)  Then on December 16th you'll upload your party posts, and we'll all jump around the guest list to say "How do you do?"  (See?  Easy publicity.)  The guest list will remain in my sidebar for a week after the party date, just to be sure you all have enough time to visit each other.

If you'd like to participate, please steal the invitation below and spread the word, and on the party day please don't forget to link back to my blog in your post so that all of your readers can come as well.  EVERYONE is invited.  :)



And one more thing... 

This is a birthday party.  All birthday parties have presents, right?  And this one in particular has a present for one of you.  I have a pretty little box that's wrapped very nicely, and in that box is a special prize that I'll be giving away.  The winner's name will be randomly chosen from the guest list.

Wondering what's in the box?  Well I'll tell you:  One lucky reader is winning gift certificates to the wonderful worlds of Wal Mart and Starbucks, a copy of one of my favorite books of all time (no worries for my few male readers, it's not Twilight), and a "just for fun" surprise.  Or two.

Want the pretty box full of goodies?  You do?  Well then come to my party!   (Apparently I'm not above giving bribes...)

**NOTE **
If anyone needs help learning how to create a link, steal the banner, or complete any other seemingly simple task that's proving troublesome, please contact me via email for directions.  I've only beginning to realize how many of you lovely readers are new to this blogging thing.  ;)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dear Future Baby,

I am positively longing for the day I get to hold you in my arms.  I watch other mothers and I press my hand to my unoccupied stomach and wish that you were in the world.  I want to experience everything about you.  I want to comfort you when you cry, laugh with you when you're happy, and support you in your goals.  I want to sit up with you when you're sick, and take you to school in the mornings, and bake you cupcakes for your birthdays.  You are going to be the most incredible blessing.

I want to watch you learn to walk and talk and read and explore.  I want to watch you discover your passions and dreams.  I want to watch you become a person completely independent of me.  I will rejoice and mourn in equal parts when that happens. I'll cringe when you get your driver's permit, and make your father take you out to practice as to avoid my inevitable panicking when you miss a stop sign.  And I can't wait to see you learn to love.

I hope you have his freckles and good luck and beautiful eyes...and perhaps a small portion of me.  Maybe my love of words and aversion to the military.  That would be nice.  I'd hate to have to miss you too.  I don't think I could handle worrying this much twice in one lifetime.  I hope my cooking has improved by the time you can eat solid food, and that bedtime stories are a good thing, because I'm really looking forward to telling them to you.

I can't wait to meet you, but I will wait, as patiently as possible, because I already love you enough to readily admit that I'm not at all ready for you.  I'm going to have to do quite a bit of growing first.  And besides, I want you to grow up in the midst of the very large family that will love you more than you'll ever know.  That can't happen if you come to me while I'm a whole ocean away from home.

I can feel you though.  I know that you exist in some future world I haven't reached yet.  I can practically hear your laugh and see your smile.  And I know you're coming, someday.  It will probably feel like the time flew when it gets here.

So...I'll see you soon enough, Sweetie.

All my love,
Your Someday Mom

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blog Love

What can I say, the awards just keep coming in.  :)  I have two more to share today.  The first one is this Gorgeous Blogger Award from Avery over at You Don't Know Me.  Isn't this the cutest little award button ever?  This one is as simple as it sounds, you pass it on to other blogs that you find gorgeous. 

Thanks so much Avery!  I'm sorry it took me so long to get around to posting.

The second award comes from a blog that I'm new to, but one that I already love.  Clandestiny from Naked in the Closet is quite the intriguing writer.  Her posts are brilliantly written, entertaining, and thought-provoking, a trifecta that equals perfection in my books.  She is new to the blogging world, revealing bits and pieces of her true identity to us slowly.  ;)  If you haven't stopped by her blog yet, I am highly reccomending that you do so immediately.

I was honored when she gave me this Super Scribbler Award.  (THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!!)  This one comes along with these rules:

- Properly thank whoever gave it to you. [check.]
- Snitch the button and put it on your blog. [check.]
- Tell your readers seven things they don't know about you.  [below.]
- Pass it on to seven more blogs.  [below.]
- Notify the winners. [as soon as I post.]

Now the tough part is trying to think of seven things I haven't already told you guys...oh bother.  (Yes, I did just quote Pooh Bear.)

Okay, here goes

  1. I dislike the smell of vanilla scented candles and lotions, but love vanilla ice cream, cake, and just about anything esle vanilla flavored.  It's weird, I know.  I just think the scent is too strong.


  2. I may seem like I have a lot to say here in my own little blog-world, but in real life, I positively shake when put in front of an audience.  Stage fright gets the best of me every time.


  3. If I could be play any character in any movie in the whole wide world, I'd play Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter.  I have always preferred the evil characters to the good ones.  It just seems like they'd be so much more fun to play. 


  4. I do not understand society's idea of what love is.  Nearly everyone around me is in a relationship, but very few of them are really happy.  They bicker constantly, hurt each other without thinking twice, flirt with other people openly, lie about silly things and major issues equally, and show no signs of remorse for any of it.  I cannot even fathom calling a relationship like that "love."  I know that no couple is perfect and that problems will arise, but it seems like most don't even try to make things work.  It's like there is this universal attitude that real love doesn't exist anymore, and that makes me sick.  Real love only ceases to exist when everyone stops believing in it.  We all deserve it, but we also all need to be willing to work for it.  (Am I alone in this?  Anyone else fed up with how ridiculous this is getting?)


  5. I take more responsibility and initiative with this blog than I do with my classes sometimes.  (You guys rock!)


  6. I am addicted to post it notes.  It could become an unhealthy habit...


  7. I read Post Secret because the rare occasional happy secret renews my faith in mankind.  :)

Whew.  That's tougher than you would think.  And now for the nominees!  If you're blog is mentioned here, you may accept the award of your choice, and if you prefer not to, that's fine too.  I just thought you guys deserved the shout out.  :)

Nicole Addison from my teacups in peony
Elaine from A Heart 4 Heaven
Heather from Heather & Rick.
Amy from My LaLa Land
Natalie at Nat The Fat Rat
Postman from The Sentitous Vaunter

--

Also, some of you may remember Rachel from Confessions of a Virgin Blogger.  I showcased her here during the last awards post.  She is starting up a new blog project that I think is fabulous!  She's heading Prom No Go, a place for all those crazy prom photos you vowed you'd never show anyone.  ...except you have to show them.  On the internet.  It's for the good of society.  Everybody knows that laughter makes you live longer.  :)  For more details, or to submit your incredibly awful photos, click here

Friday, November 20, 2009

Proud to be a Twitard

Last night was the most hellish experience at a theatre EVER.  But you know what, it was worth it.  Because in the end, we watched Twilight and New Moon back-to-back in priority VIP seating.  Because we're just cool like that.

We arrived at 8:00pm, four hours early for the midnight showing, but there was already a gigantic line.  We bought tickets to see an early showing of Twilight, which scored us wristbands that gained us entrance to reserved seating.  (Perfect location:  First three rows of the upper section.  We were the first to arrive from the Twilight showing, so we were sitting front and center.  :] )

Our good luck ran out around the middle of the movie though.  Apparently the film was delivered wrong to theatres all over the state.  Half the rooms showing New Moon had film that was incorrectly spliced and the last half of the movie was shown upside down and completely backwards.  The dialogue was even reversed.  The problem could not be resolved, and we were given two options.  We could stay and watch the movie after it was finished playing in the theatres that were still working, or we could come back another time for free. 

We stayed, of course, because we're just hard core like that.  ;)  We didn't leave the theatre until 5:30am.  The staff gave all of us "rain check" cards to make up for the disappointment and inconvenience.  I now have five free movie passes to be used over the next six months.  I'm thinking it's a fair trade...

But back to the movie... Can someone say INCREDIBLE!  I thought it was a wonderful balance of "doing things by the book" and spicing up the action scenes for the screen.  My only complaint was that so much time was dedicated to the action that much the relationships were left to be assumed.  Not enough time was spent building the bond between Bella and Jacob, and the one between Bella and Edward was left completely to the imagination until their reunion at Volterra.  Even then, most of the beautiful heart-wrenching dialogue was cut.  :/ 

However, the chemistry between the actors was wonderful.  Kristin and Rob work well together, as does the pairing of Kristin and Taylor (*squeeeelll* for Team Jacob!).  The rivalry between the boys was portrayed wonderfully.  Both actors did their parts well:  Taylor as bitter and rejected, and Rob as calm and reserved.  The characters' personalities from the books showed through.  Edward is a bit more mature and willing to accept Bella's decision, whatever that may be, and Jacob was more determined and demanding, though without Edwards pathetically twisted idea of what is in Bella's best interests.  He at least knows Bella well enough to know that the worst thing he can do is abandon her, even if his presense is dangerous. 

And Victoria?  Ohmigosh.  :)  She was wonderful this time.  Her hair is finally the right color and her acting is superb.  She's a terrifying opponant.  Dakota Fanning made for a pretty creepy Jane as well.  I was really surprised.  She made a BIG step out of her "little kid" roles for this one.  The girl looked positively evil.

Anyhow, if you weren't able to see it last night, you should definitley go.  It was worth the lack of sleep and frustration at seeing a few spoilers upside down and backwards...  :)

Below are some photos of our Team Jacob awesomeness:




[Pictured: Me, Kylie, Courtney, Ryan and the line of dedicated fans that showed up around 8:00.]

So which team are you guys on?  Do you have pics to share?  Let us know by linking up your own New Moon post in the Mcklinky below.  :)



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prepare Yourselves

Tomorrow night is the one we've all been waiting for.  Tomorrow night, we'll proudly don our Team Jacob tees, tie red ribbons in our hair, squeel like 12 year old girls, and make a mad dash to the theatre for the midnight premier of New Moon

[insert:  Baskets full of credit to Courtney Spradling for being amazing enough to score us 4 of the last 6 tickets sold to the premier nearly a month before the movie's release date.]

We are ridiculously excited for this, and somehow completely un-embarrassed.  Then again, we do have the right to be proud.  We've been around since the beginning.  And, you know, two of us kind of met Stephenie Meyer pre-movie deal.  (Yeah, I know I mention it a lot.  It's, like, one of the shining moments in my life...)  That makes us kind of awesome and old school as far as Twilight fans go.

Here is the trailer one more time for all you blogging lovelies.  I hope to see some of you out tomorrow night!  ;)


Also, if you guys are a Stephenie fan like me, you should head on over to her website pronto!  She mentioned something in the latest post about making The Host into a trilogy.  :)  Can you say EXCITEMENT!?!?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Behold: Courtney's Epic Birthday Post

This past Saturday was a very important day.  It was so important, in fact, that we started celebrating it on Friday.  :)

[gift #1 = Coldplay]

Happy 22nd Birthday Courtney!

Courtney's birthday lasted the entire weekend.  She got to open one gift each day from Friday until Sunday, and on Sunday Kylie and I threw her a tea party dinner party.  (Psh.  You all know we're to old for tea parties.  Maybe.  Kind of.  But not really.)

[gift #2 = one of a kind coasters from B.B. Bellezza's lovley Etsy Shop.]

Ryan (the husband) took her out for a lovely evening Saturday, and they looked so smashing that I had to take some photos.


For the previously mentioned tea, uh, I mean, dinner party on Sunday, Kylie and I prepared a smorgasboard of delights.



[Yes, those are indeed home made tacos and pizza, and yes, the cookies were fabulous.]


[Courtney is not a fan of cake.  So she had a birthday cheesecake instead.]

It went off without a hitch.  In fact, Kyle even dropped in via webcam for a bit.  :)


And look at Courtney and Ryan's sensational party outfits.  Aren't they perfect?!?!


Courtney recently did a blog post about some of her favorite childhood toys that have been lost over the years.  She's been looking to try to regain some of them, and luckily for her I happened to have one of them.  By some divine act of God I was able to keep it a secret until her birthday.

[gift #3 = Polly Pockets.  Only the coolest toy on the planet.]

Now then, please leave some love for my soon-to-be-new-big-sister Courtney on her birthday! (Okay, okay, late birthday.)  =]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Perfection Has Its Faults

"I have to speculate that God himself did make us
into corresponding shapes like puzzle pieces."
-Iron and Wine, Such Great Heights

I am perfectly content in my little home.  I love it here.  I love almost everything about it, and I am ever grateful.  There is only one thing that makes me discontent, and it can't be helped.  I hate that I am sitting here alone.  I hate that I have made a home that I cannot share with Kyle.  I play his songs.  I snuggle up in his hoodies.  I remember the feel of his arm draped around me as I drift off to sleep:  the sensation of being his fragile girl, protected, warm and at peace, and sometimes it is so hard to hold myself afloat.  Sometimes I am drowning in the lonliness.  Sometimes it feels like my lungs can't function without him beside me, and not only is not beside me, he is 4,416 miles away from me.  (Yes, I googled it.) 

How can I possibly go on like this?  How can the world keep turning when a love such as ours is split?  How can people on the street not see how things are all broken while we're apart?  It doesn't seem possible that we should be able to fall asleep and wake up and go to work and come home and go through the many motions of smiling and frowning in turn.  It doesn't seem like we should be able to live apart.  It doesn't feel as if things are in balance this way.

And yet we do.  We do all of those things and so much more.  And we wait.  We wait for the day when it won't just be "going through the motions."  My God, that day cannot come soon enough.  Because when that day comes...  The world is not enough to contain the happiness that fills me.  Everything is light and good and pure and perfect.  And we are happy: one single happy entity that swallows up all the despair in the world and spreads smiles that infect even the bitter and the angry and the hopeless.  And it is beautiful, that feeling.  It is the most beautiful thing in life.  I hope that each and every one of you experience it.

It's like the first blossom of spring:  a rainbow bursting open against the grey that winter has left behind.  It's like the fleeting moment at the top of a particularly big swing when you believe with all your heart that if you'd just let go of the ropes you'd go flying off into the clouds.  It's like the innocent glee that comes of a cold puppy nose pressed to your cheek.  It's spinning in circles with your arms out wide, taking in everything at once so that all you see is a palette of swirling colors.  It's the first crisp and cool sip of water given to a man dying of thirst.  It is the bungee cord catching just as you begin to wonder if you'll live to see another morning.  It's the view from the highest mountain:  all encompassing and majestic.  It is perfect, simple, complex and wonderfully flawed love, and it is magnificent.

Unfortunately its absense is felt with all the same intensity.  Yet for all this pain, it is worth it, without question or doubt.  I wish that made it easy.