Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Impressive and Unimpressive: Session Six


1. I am always impressed by people who are willing to go to the most dangerous and volatile places in order to draw attention to issues and suffering that is all too easy to ignore. Even for those who are the most involved in global issues, there are still some places that are just pushed out of our collective conscience. That's why we need people like this guy.

2. My sister. Who has arrived safely in Costa Rica and I am sure livin' it up.

3. How quickly I managed to find a group of girls to go see Titanic 3D. And how quickly all the random crap I memorized as a seventh grader about the movie  came back to me. Like how it was actually James Cameron who drew the infamous picture of Rose. And how they only built the left side of the boat. I could go on, but I don't want to lose all four of my followers (hey mom!).

4. My husband. When I asked him how he knew we should be together he replied "Cuz you were the cutest thing since sliced bread". Yup. That's me. I've always measured myself against the seductive allure of baked goods.


1. The primary season we are currently entrapped in. There is no room to discuss current events without mentioning this guy, or this guy, or this guy. Again, any reasonable people out there?

2. My lent season. I gave up gluten this year, by far the hardest thing ever. Lasted about four days. I hate quitting things and hated pulling the plug on this one, but it was far too hard, causing too much stress, and I realized I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. Instead I will focus on being more intentional with my time and with my decisions. And my heart goes out to those who don't have the luxury of giving up on this after four days.

3. The people who drive from our apt complex to the bus stop ACROSS THE STREET. That's right, they drive across the street to catch the bus, saving themselves, oh, three minutes walking.

4. Public transportation in this area. It takes me almost and hour and a half each way to travel the 11 miles to work. Pain in the rear. Also a pain in the rear? Gas prices. Pick your evil.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bon Voyage Sister

My little sister leaves for Costa Rica for ten weeks on Saturday. She is going to study Spanish, and perhaps to take in a bit of scenery.

And as her big sister who has traveled quite a bit, it is my God-given duty to tell her what to do.

I mean impart wisdom.

I mean give some advice.

I mean, like, give some suggestions that she can, you know, follow or whatever, and if not, whatever, that's fine too...

1. Bring fewer shirts and pants and more underwear. At the end of the day your undies are the limiting factor. Trust me, nobody is going to notice if you only have two pairs of pants to last you ten weeks. This is especially good advice if you have to do your washing in a bucket or in a sink. Just pack a couple more pairs of undies and ditch that second pair of jeans.

Cautionary Tale: when traveling to a place that requires you to iron all your clothes (including undergarments) to kill bug eggs, don't bring synthetic underwear. They will melt bright purple onto the single iron in the house permanently and all the volunteers for generations to come will know that the bright purple smear perma-melted onto the iron once belonged to you.
A backpack on your front AND your back = too much stuff.
2. Get to know the local people around you. You will be pleasantly surprised at how much you have in common. Take risks and ask them questions about themselves. They will be curious about you and will no doubt ask you all about yourself, but turn the table and ask about them. When in doubt ask about their families and where they were born.

3. The transportation. The single most important asset to traveling is to have a good taxi driver who knows where you stay and that you trust to come get you whenever you may be in a bind. If your friends suddenly evaporate at a bar and you need a ride home, if you stay too long at school, if you end up in a place you don't know/don't like, this person can come and get you and bring you safely home. Don't be afraid to take a taxi home by yourself with this trusted person. It is better than waiting on loser friends to come with you. Put yourself first.

Cautionary Tale: Make sure the car you get in to is actually a taxi cab. It could turn out that the man driving is a nice guy who is amused by having his car suddenly filled with four white kids and will give you a ride home, (not before scaring the bejeezus out of you by reaching into his glove compartment for a gun - no wait, just a business card), and turn out to be a safari guide that wants your business. Or it could not turn out that way.
One mode of transport - a tuk-tuk.
4.  Beyond the transportation, the other most likely annoyance will be pestering by the other gender. Sister - you are cute. You are fun. You also appear like many many girls before you who may have had different priorities. So keep it polite, keep it short, and keep it simple. And smile while you tell them "No, thanks. I do not need another Eiffel tower that I am so sure you painted yourself".

5. Soak it all in and allow yourself the space to process. Understand that this is a once in a lifetime trip. Perhaps you will go back to Costa Rica, or perhaps you will travel for this length again. But it is the only time you will have this perspective. Even when you are old and wrinkled like me in a few years you will look back on this trip and think about how great it was that you did that. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to think about what is happening around you. If you want, write it down.

6. There is value in staying home on the weekends. I know the temptation will be there to travel each weekend with new friends, and you should do that. But towns are different on the weekend. And families stay in and relax. This is a good time to get to know your surroundings. Don't stress out by thinking you have to see every freaking thing in the country. You can't and you won't. So pick a few things that sound the best and give yourself time to think, relax, enjoy, and just be.

7. Have fun. Dude. This is freaking rad you are doing this and you are going to have so much fun. When you are lonely, be lonely. When you are sad, be sad. Travelers fool themselves all the time into thinking every day is going to be an up and then feel guilty when they have a crap day or feel like they want to go home and eat a real cheeseburger and some fresh fruit. Its all a part of the process. Take a deep breath, get yourself a huge piece of chocolate cake, take a nap or a walk on the beach, call home. And then go back to having fun.

And you never know what kind of crazy stories you will have (the story from the above picture will be saved for another day).

Because, hey, you are in Costa Rica!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

That thing you would do if you didn't do the thing you did

So what would it be?

If you didn't do the thing you do, and instead did whatever you wanted? If you could be anything in the world, any job, without thinking about the money you need to make, the education you need to get there, or natural talent you need to be successful?

An astronaut? A football player? An artist? A ski bum?

I have been pretty certain about the direction I was headed in for a pretty long time and this path becomes clearer with each step. So I am quite happy being confident in what I am doing. But this is a fun game to play.

If I could be anything, what would I be?

I could never choose between two very different things.

The first - something with musical theater productions. If I had the talent, then I would be a star. If not, then the more likely choice of a stage manager. I love musical theater, love the leadership (shocking for a first born, right?), love the travel, and appreciate the art. Seeing my favorite show last night, Les Mis, really reinforced my love for all this - coordinating when the lights go on, when the mics go on, cuing the orchestra - every night you get to be successful at coordinating one perfect event. From start to finish. And troubleshooting the issues that come up.

The second - The President. I know, I know, that's super crazy, right? But this is my dream, not yours. Think of the people you would get to meet, the travel adventures you would get to have, the steaks you could order at three am. I am not under any delusions that this is an easy job. But it would be a great one. Being an example for people around the world, setting priorities and taking on the most complex problems. I am a sucker for working out puzzles - and what greater puzzle is there than running this country?

Sidebar: I was actually voted most likely to be president in high school senior year. When they give me the sign, it actually had "Mrs. President" on it, which technically meant that I was most likely to be married to the President. In this high school case, this guy actually was a great friend of mine and I actually ended up in his 
real wedding, though not as the bride. 

What would you be? If you didn't have the pull to be what you are now - and the pull can be a variety of things, a calling, a passion, or simply to pay the bills - what would you be?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feel Good Friday

Husband came home with these two dozen roses for me for Valentine's Day. First time he has ever bought me two dozen red roses. This is the upside of being married to someone who isn't a consistent romantic - you never know what you are going to get for special occasions, and you get to be wildly impressed when he remembers that this is your tenth valentine's day together (or that he also saw the deal for roses at the grocery store). I'll keep him around.

Also, we are going to see my favorite show tonight - Les Miserables, my birthday gift. That's a real feed good friday moment, for sure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Analogy in Baked Goods

I set out this Valentine's day to make a treat for M, a heart shaped cookie with his initial on it.

I set out to make this.


This is what last year's cookie looked it.

This is what this year's cookie looked like.

In honor of Valentine's Day, I have extrapolated a series of analogous lessons about relationships, some more meaningful (and silly) than others from this sequence of cookie attempts that did not quite, uh, turn out as expected. (Warning: This blog post is about as saccharine sweet at the cookies above.)

1. They tell you that relationships and marriage are perfect, they are displayed around us in couples that seem to embody total perfection. There is very little confession to imperfection, for fear of judgement. Or acknowledgement of failure. Lesson: You can never perfectly copy another's relationship. And what's the fun in that? Yours will be messy and imperfect. But its YOURS, and that's rad.

2. Things change over time. You learn to add the right amount of food coloring. Last year I had to leave a note saying "It's an M!" This year he got it was a letter, although he guessed the wrong one. That's progress and I will take it. Lesson: Things take time. You can't learn it all at once, and each go at it will have its own set of problems. 

3. Looks can be deceiving. These cookies are just plain ugly under the frosting. Especially this years. But as my mom used to say, its all flour, sugar, and butter. It's going to taste fab. And you can't judge a relationship  (or a cookie) by what it looks like. Which leads me to another mama truism, you never know what goes on between two people. Lesson: Don't worry so much about how you appear to the outside world. Its whats on the inside that counts (and having the right amount of red dye, because too much of that is just gross).

4. When I unveiled this years cookie to M, this is what happened:

         M: "Oh! That is so sweet. And you put a W on it!"
          C: A W?
         M: Yeah! for "We!"
 Lesson: We all see things differently. But sometimes in our differences we can find the sweetest sentiments. 

To recover from the impending sweet hangover of this post, here's a little laugh for you. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines to my Real Loves

Happy Valentine's to the Real Loves of my life - my girls. 

Your family is required to love you because you are family.

Your husband is required to love you because you took an oath before God and it is legal obligation (among other things). 

But your girls (and you all have them) love you because you have been through thick and thin, because you have grown up together, and because they know exactly where you come from. 

I have been beyond lucky with some amazing girls in my life and doubly lucky because most of them I grew up with. So I don't have to explain to them about my impossible high school crush(es), my awkward seventh grade stage, the dog I had growing up, my family's quirks, or the time I played the Wicked Witch and was dyed green for three weeks. These girls live far and wide and are accomplishing great things. 

I can honestly say that my life would not be the same without them. 

I rely on you, even just knowing you are out there, more than you know.

Happy Valentine's Day Loves!

Things we have done together...

--Survived Middle School (with some lasting consequences)--

--Survived High School (with even more)--

--Taken life changing trips --

-- Visited cool places (like the Guiness Factory in Dublin)--

--Married best buds--

--Made silly wardrobe choices--

--Made great wardrobe choices--

--Made, uh, silly choices (this one caught us in a downpour)--

--Took beach vacations--

--Survived college (and took awkward photographs)--

--Stood up for each other on big days--

I love you guys. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Birthday Shout-out

Here is a birthday shout-out to my mother-in-law, Holly. Although that term sounds  a bit formal, and a bit forced. And I can't get behind the mother-in-love trend, because I just  think "mother in love with what?" And then I think that I love my mom too, so that's confusing.


One of the best things about marrying the guy you started dating when you both drove your mama's mini-vans is that you know your soon to be in-laws all too well before you tie the knot. Before I even agreed to marry into this family, I had many occasions (family vacays, a wedding, too much wine on friday nights, many an after church  Sunday dinner, and a few embarrassing encounters) to be scared away, to get to know them. And I am happy to call them family now.

So Happy Birthday to You! Cheers!

Thanks for being awesome. I am glad you are in my life.

And thanks for this guy:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Congrats Rick and Go.....

Today is a very very important day.

Duke and UNC play at UNC. This year's game will be quite good, I can feel it.

It is almost a coming out party for the entire community, in which your true (blue) colors show. And I learned quickly that you can't have it both ways. You MUST choose. Will it be the Heels or the Devils? Will it be his alma mater or mine? Ha, you ask that as if there is any question.


And, in honor of this crazy political season that it is impossible to escape from, and Santorum's win in three primaries yesterday, here's a little something to add to that absurdity.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Feel Good Friday

Hand Mixer Print for Bakers Partner in Crime 8 x 10

Buy this print on etsy. 

I have quite the addiction to making baked goods.

And when I am out of work it gets a bit out of hand. Like, woah. 

I have made the following things in the past two weeks. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe

DSC 0177 Moist Chocolate Cake

Sour Cream Banana Bread. Photo by JanuaryBride

 strawberry lemonade bar recipe

Also, I have managed to be invited to a few more social events and make a few new friends in the past two weeks as well. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection? 

What will it be next week?