Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

I wasn't here yesterday to do a proper Thursday Thoughts post (you know....on a Thursday) because I was out and about doing a newborn session!



Oh be still my heart! I seriously love newborn sessions so much, and it had been months since I'd done one previously. Not to be all melodramatic, but it felt like coming home :)

PS- funny story--this baby, Hannah, was in the hospital for a time with jaundice. Lizzy heard us talking about it, and now often thinks this baby is named John ;)

Man, it has been seriously difficult to make payment arrangements with OHSU regarding the skin cancer procedure back in January.  They told me that since what we could afford to pay each month was unacceptable, we'd need to fill out financial aid paperwork. Fine. I dutifully sent in the paperwork, two years of tax returns, and a letter giving a more detailed description of our budget and expenses since the "official" paperwork literally only asked about income and assets, and not at all about basic living expenses. Anyway, I got a letter back last week saying that I had provided insufficient proof of income and that we need to provide pay stubs from August-Decemeber of last year. Never mind the fact that in my attached letter I explained that of the two choices listed for verifying income (pay stubs for four months OR taxes), I had chosen taxes because in August-December, Justin worked at a prevailing wage job, which has now finished, and those four months of income have pretty much zero bearing on his normal, actual income, or consequently what we can afford to pay each month. Two years of tax returns gives a much more accurate picture of our income. But then again, I'm not sure that OHSU actually cares about having an accurate picture of our income.

Oh, and they are also making me send a notarized statement that I'm a stay-at-home mom, and don't have any income...which seems kind of silly, because they have my tax returns, which even include my HOBBY income...but whatever.

Our house is a dis-as-ter lately. I just feel like I CANNOT catch up! This is probably largely due to the fact that 98% of my day is still consumed with "Tell me if you have to go potty, okay?" and "Let's go sit on the potty!" basically every 15 minutes to half hour, lol.

One of my favorite parts of the day is in the morning, asking Lizzy about her dreams. She just has such a fun imagination, and loves to tell all kinds of stories--usually involving a 'not-scared' polar bear. Today, when I asked about her dreams, she told me all about a blue and pink rooster that was really gentle. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

BQOTD: Last Thing

I feel like I can't ask this set of five questions often enough--I LOVE seeing your answers every time! So, today's Burning Questions of the Day are:

1. What was the last thing you ate?
2. What was the last book you read?
3. What was the last movie you saw?
4. What was the last thing that made you smile?
5. What was the last thing you pinned on Pinterest?

My answers:
1. Some ceasar salad last night
2. Part of 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp, but it was due back to the library so I haven't finished.
3. Hunger Games! It's been maybe 2 years since I read the first book, so it's not incredibly fresh in my mind, but I really liked the movie! I really did NOT like how many 3-5 year olds were in the theater though.
4. When Justin woke me up to say goodbye this morning.
5. An entry-way photo from BHG. Love everything about it!

Source: via Meredith on Pinterest

What about you?!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Recovering | Monday Song

We went down to Mt. Shasta this past weekend for the band to play a set at a local coffee house. They told us that we're in the running for playing at a big event at a local park this summer which would be awesome.

Today, I'm still recovering--we didn't get home until about midnight on Saturday and then had the be up early on Sunday. Plus, add to that all the stuff I've got to do around the house today and the fact that Lizzy still needs to be watched quite closely with this whole potty training thing...and it makes it somewhat comical to do anything that takes more than 5 minutes at a time.

Anyway, my weekend was great, but I'm still recovering, so I leave you with this video, of a new original song, hot off the presses. I really like it...because hello, haven't most new moms felt like 'This day is never gonna end'? I hope you'll take a minute to listen, and to give them some love if you enjoyed too :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

From the back of the book: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.


Imagine being diagnosed with terminal cancer as a teenager. Imagine afterwards, where if you live your life as normal, you're an inspiration (but secretly others whisper that you're in denial). If you're broody and upset, you're obviously depressed. Hazel's mother thinks she's the latter, and sends her to Cancer Kid Support Group, which is generally the last place she'd like to be. 

But one day, in walks Augustus Waters--a former cancer-kid now in remission, although he lost his leg and basketball career in the process. Hazel and Augustus quickly strike up a friendship built on their mutual love of books and self-depreciating perspective. And like many teenage friendships, the often toe the line between being friends, and being something more. 

With all this talk about cancer, you'd probably think that The Fault in Our Stars was a book about cancer. Strangely, it's not. And I don't think it's a novel about death either. I think like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it's a coming-of-age novel simply about life as a teenager--and how you live it when you suspect that you may not live until 30. Or even 20. Cancer plays a large role in the novel, but it's almost as if its a supporting character rather than an overarching plot device. I'm not going to tell you that it isn't hard to read about two teenagers battling cancer--it is. At times, it's brutal. But, it's also got just the right amount of humor mixed in that allows it to be not only tolerable, but an amazing read.

The only thing that I'd say as a potential criticism was that sometimes it felt like the book made some small digs at the Christian faith...which is something that I usually don't actually mind in novels, but I oddly found myself feeling a little defensive about it while reading this novel. I'm not sure why--maybe because I really liked everything else about The Fault in Our Stars, and wished that I could recommend it to everyone universally without wondering whether or not they'd ultimately be offended. Either way though, this was such a small complaint in the grand scheme of things that it almost isn't worth even mentioning. But I did, so there you have it.

Anyway, The Fault in Our Stars is billed as being Young Adult fiction, and it only takes one quick look at the reviews on Amazon to see that many teens are being profoundly impacted by John Green's latest novel. But really, I don't think I would have guessed that it was being billed as a YA novel--although narrated by a teen, it also dealt with some very adult issues, and didn't seem to include a lot of the angst that sometimes I associate with the genre. So, if you've been hesitant to jump into the YA genre, take a chance with The Fault in Our Stars. It'll be worth it...and if you don't think it was worth it, well, then you probably shouldn't be taking suggestions on books to read from me anyway, because I thought The Fault in Our Stars was one of the best books I've read in a very long time.

Intrigued? Join the conversation over at BlogHer Book Club, where you can also read an excerpt. Overall?

Disclosure Statement: This was a paid review as part of BlogHer Book Club. As always, the thoughts are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thursday Thoughts on Wednesday (Edited)

Last night, our BRAND NEW Vizio Blu-Ray player that we received as a Christmas gift stopped working. It turns on, and then turns itself right back off. Of course, it stopped working on the day that I rented a movie that I actually wanted to see instead of one for Justin. Unfortunately, Vizio said that it needs to be replaced, but that I'll have to ask the gifter for the receipt before they'll do anything (which was my parents, so that may not be an issue, but still). Is it just me, or is that a terrible policy? I'll definitely think twice before buying a Vizio anything in the future, especially if I'm giving it as a gift. And also, we're darn lucky that it stopped working AFTER we removed a Redbox, or we'd have one heck of a bill on our hands...which I'm sure Vizio would say was our fault! I'm a little grumpy about it!

ETA: Even after submitting the receipt, apparently in order to replace the blu-ray player, they have to charge my credit card the price paid, and then ship a new one to arrive in 8-11 days. They'll then refund/release the funds on my credit card once I send back the new one. If I don't want to provide a credit card, I have to pay for shipping and it will take 16-20 days to replace. REALLY? This is terrible. I think we're going to see if the store will replace instead. Why does this stuff always happen to me?

We've had rain all week. I keep trying to remind myself that rain = beautiful flowers.

Speaking of flowers, did you know that if you forgot to plant bulbs last fall, you can usually buy sprouted bulbs from garden centers for plants that flower this year? I bought some additional hyacinth and tulips that I think I may put into a pot on the patio this year and then transplant elsewhere in the fall.

I really didn't mean for this to be a negative "downer" post, but I'm pretty much ready to go back to bed and call it a day and it's only 7:56am. In addition to the Vizio irritation, in the past 5 minutes, Lizzy has full-on hit her cousin, refused to sit in a time out, and then dumped her glass of milk on the floor on purpose. When I told her that was naughty, she then started to scream "NO! I'M A GOOD GIRL!" at the top of her lungs, which she has continued to scream for the last 3 minutes. I'm straight up ignoring her right now.

Obviously, ignoring her was a bad idea, or maybe giving her more milk was...either way, she just dumped a second glass of milk on the floor. Awesome. Like I said, ready to call it a day here.

My date with Justin to see Hunger Games is in three days. All I can say is that if for any reason we do not get to go, I will cry. For REAL.

Lizzy just said, "Dora is my favorite color." I have no idea what that means, but at least it made me laugh.

Hope your Wednesday is off to a better start than mine! Man, what I'd give for some chocolate right now!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review: You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

Are you all familiar with the website If not, drop what you're doing and go there right now (really, I promise it's worth it).

If you are familiar with Incourage, you may also be familiar with one of its co-founders, Holley Gerth. Holley is a writer, licensed counselor, speaker, and much more...and she has a new book out right now called You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.


If you're anything like me, you may have looked at that title and thought 'I know. I'm amazing, and I love myself (most days), and yada yada.' But do we really? I'm not so sure.

On page 16, Holley writes, "You're not only amazing. You're enough. You're beautiful. You're wanted. You're chosen. You're called. You've got what it takes...not just to survive but to change the world." Inexplicably, with a toddler under foot, dinner half cooked, and the dishwasher half unloaded, I sat down at the table, and teared up. I don't think of myself as an over-emotional person, but after a day where it felt like the triumph of all triumphs to have even taken a shower (please tell me you have those days too!), those words were balm to a soul that was at that moment feeling a little weary.

You guys, there's so much here. So much. You're Already Amazing isn't just a book, it's also interactive with many 5 or 10 minute exercises that allow us to each delve a little bit deeper (as well as an additional section at the back of the book with more reflective exercises), identifying not only why we may tend to feel less than amazing, but also to begin to identify our own unique spiritual gifts that will allow us to do the work that makes us feel fulfilled in God's purpose. And also about the self care that needs to take place in order for us to do that work.

As women, we often sabotage ourselves with false guilt. We tell ourselves that being married is a privilege, having children is a joy, going to work each day is a blessing--so we just need to suck it up and stop being tired all the you feel is legitimate. What takes away from your emotional energy isn't bad or good. It's neutral. It's just reality. It usually doesn't say anything about what kind of person you are, how much you love the people in your life, or how much faith you have. It's just part of the way you're made. ~Excerpt from You're Already Amazing
I'll be totally honest--Holley is clearly more of an emotional personality while I'm definitely more of a logic-based personality. Sometimes thinking in a more emotional way was a bit of a stretch for me...and while sometimes it toed the line of being a little more puppies and rainbows than I'm used to or was worth it. It was worth the step outside my own comfort zone or preferences to work some of these hard issues that I think a lot of us deal with.

As I read, I kept thinking that this would be a perfect book for a Bible Study or book club. And lucky for you (and me!), You're Already Amazing has been selected as the next Bloom Book Club book, beginning March 26th!

Overall? Read it.

Disclosure Statement: I received this book for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my review. I was not compensated for the review itself. As always, all opinions expressed are my own--I don't think I could lie about a book even if I wanted to.

Our experience with Potty Training in a Day

Sometime last week, I saw this on Pinterest:

It was a link for potty training "in one day". I knew that Lizzy was 100% capable of going to the bathroom in the toilet, but just preferred to be able to play all day. Also, in our previous attempts, I hadn't done a very good job of being really, really consistent. I also hadn't done a great job of giving Lizzy my absolute, undivided attention. So, I thought this might be a good fit for us, and immediately started telling her that on Friday, we were going to have a "special potty day". On Thursday, we went to pick out special snacks and juices, and started talking about how the day was going to go on Friday.

Honestly, I was totally skeptical that it would work. I thought the method was pretty corny, and couldn't imagine myself running back and forth 10 times every time she had an accident. But, I did it, and I do think it worked.

The first day we had lukewarm success. I felt like we'd have strings of successes and then strings of accidents, and it drove me crazy. But overall, she really seemed to "get it", and by the end of the day, Lizzy was hopping up and running to the bathroom on her own whenever she needed to go, not just when the timer went off.

The second day was great--Lizzy had no accidents all morning and so we celebrated with lunch at Taco Bell (her choice). We had no accidents into the evening as well. I was shocked that this was working!

The third day we began to encounter some resistance. Lizzy wanted to do everything all by herself and wanted no one in the bathroom with her,. Only sometimes she wouldn't sit on the toilet long enough and would go as soon as she hopped down. Also, I was totally stir crazy--I had pretty much been sitting on the bathroom floor since Friday morning. We went on a few errands while she wore a pull-up. Lizzy did a great job sitting on the toilet in public, but didn't ever actually go. She did end up going in her pull-up without telling us, but I think that had more to do with the fact that we ended up staying out longer than anticipated and sort of lost track of time and waited longer than usual to take a bathroom trip.

A few things:
-We elected to continue doing diapers at night for now, even though the plan recommends against it.
-We also elected to occasionally do a pull-up when we're out and about (or when one of us isn't the person who is responsible for her primary care, such as in nursery or at Mom's Group). This is partially because Lizzy still isn't great at actually telling someone when she needs to use the toilet. But we do strictly underwear at home when it's not time to sleep. Honestly, I feel like this is a good first step!

So, is Lizzy 100% potty trained in a day? Nope. But she's miles away from where she was last Thursday, and I'm happy with that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review(s): Baby Lit Books by Jennifer Adams


It's no secret that Justin and I are both total book nerds. We both love to read, and can easily get lost in a book for the better portion of a day. One of my favorite activities is browsing the library or used book store, hoping to find a hidden treasure.

It's also no secret that we hope to facilitate that love of books in Lizzy as well. We go to story time in the library weekly, and many of our household traditions revolve around books.


Yesterday, I received two books from the Baby Lit: Classic Books for Brilliant Babies series, and I literally squealed with glee. I mean, how could you not? The two books that I received to review were Alice in Wonderland: A Colors Primer and Jane Eyre: A Counting Primer both by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver. Pride and Prejudice and Romeo and Juliet round out the other Baby Lit books. In a word? They are STUNNING.


The illustrations are absolutely beautiful, bright, funky, and fun. I could absolutely picture some of them framed in a nursery.



The content is age-appropriate for Lizzy, but also kind of fun for me--number 9 in the Jane Eyre book is "9 pearls", which Lizzy can easily understand, but then tucked away in the bottom corner of the illustration, it also says "I have as much soul as you--and full as much heart," which is a quote that adult lovers of Jane Eyre will appreciate as well.


Overall, I really, really, really love these books, and want to go buy the other two immediately. As I mentioned before, they're a little for her and a little for me--because what bona fide bookworm wouldn't get a little kick out of their toddler reading Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, or Romeo and Juliet to a couch full of their stuffed animals?!


Disclosure Statement: Both Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland were provided to me by Gibbs Smith for review. I did not receive any other compensation for my review, and all opinions about the books are my own. I don't think I could like about a book even if I tried.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

So, my local Target store never called me back. Ever. I called them either six or eight times during this whole process and was always told someone would call me back, but I never received a single call. BUT, after calling the 800 number again and shooting off an email to the CEO, someone from the executive office called, apologized, and said that while it is the policy to review the tape, it shouldn't have happened like this, and that she'd be sending me a $15 gift card to go get another tank top. I truly appreciated the sincerity with which Nancy and Sandra (Saundra?) at the executive office and 800 number handled the situation, and I consider it to be completely resolved. Now, I just hope I'm not treated like a total pariah the next time I'm in the local store!

We took the plunge and went out to put the down payment on the Longhorn cow on Tuesday. We should have it in two to three weeks, and I'll probably post more about it then. But in the meantime, how crazy are these longhorns? I'd never seen a cow quite like it!


I have flowers sprouting! I believe these are grape hyacinth. I'm so excited that some of the bulbs I planted last fall are taking off!


Justin has been home sick since Tuesday with a stomach bug that I am DESPERATELY hoping Lizzy and I don't get. His work stopped giving sick and vacation time back in 2009, so he's essentially missed three days of work unpaid. And coincidentally, this is also the month that due to a switch in where he's working, he drops back down to his regular wage instead of a higher wage that he'd been receiving since about August. Talk about slamming us back to reality. I wish we'd done a better job of budgeting the whole time he made the higher wage, but we didn't. Still, I'm so glad that we got on the budget train in January--since then, we've almost completely funded our emergency fund, which is a huge blessing, as we may need to dip into it to make up for what could turn out to be a one-day work week since Justin often has Fridays off. I hate dipping into the emergency fund at all, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is what it's there for.

Is there anything better than a fort? I was trying to keep the kids fairly mellow yesterday since J was home sleeping. A fort seemed like the perfect solution.


We have a movie gift card, so you better believe we've lined up a babysitter (thanks Kelsey!) to go see The Hunger Games next Friday. I even made a shirt. You can't tell from the photo, but the letters are glitter. Oh yes. I'm THAT nerdy.


Yesterday, I met some friends at a local McDonalds that has a HUGE indoor play place. Long story short, due to sick kiddos, they ended up having to leave, but Lizzy and I stayed to run off some energy and hopefully secure a nap for the afternoon. Lizzy ROCKED the playplace, climbing all the way to the top by herself. I broke out a book and enjoyed some unexpected reading time. I settled in, enjoying the moment, and realized something that I've never noticed before--the playplace was playing the Christian radio station. And the song that was on was just like balm to my stressed-out soul. This isn't a manifesto about how all fast-food restaurants should play the Christian radio station (I actually don't think they should). This was just to say that in that moment, it was just miraculously, exactly what I needed, and I'm thankful.

Lizzy loves talking on the phone. Last night, she was talking to my sister, and I snapped some photos, 'cause she was cracking me up.




Two fairly recent BUDGET purchases that have made me happy on a daily basis? $1 turquoise mason jars, and $5 red shoes (JC Penney, after they slashed prices).



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

BQOTD: Text or Phone

Today's Burning Question of the Day was blatantly stolen from one of the recent BlogHer Book Club discussions about Diary of a Mad Fat Girl. And it's a simple one, but a debate for the ages:

Would you prefer to call or to text someone?

My answer is to text, and it's not even close. Justin doesn't understand this AT ALL, and would generally rather call. I've never been a big phone person, but between the long-distance relationship with Justin in college, a couple customer service jobs that involved a LOT of phone time, and a screaming toddler, I usually would rather text than talk on the phone.

With a text, I don't have a screaming toddler running about begging to talk on the phone. Being able to actually HEAR is not a requirement, and I have the time to actually compose a coherent thought. Also, if the person I'm texting has kids, I don't have to worry about the call waking someone up at nap time.

And if it's too long to text, I generally prefer email or Facebook for all the same reasons. Plus, when it comes to making plans with friends or scheduling a photo shoot, I have a record of what and when. 'Cause if I'm talking on the phone, I'll probably have to get off abruptly due to a tantrum, and probably forget to write down what I've just agreed to. Though, I do probably need to get better about getting on the phone with people about photo shoots, since I do think the phone can sometimes build a relationship more quickly. Similarly, Kait and I usually text, but end up getting on the phone once a month (or sometimes once every two months), and I do like catching up with her occasionally on the phone like that.

But for day-to-day stuff? Texting, hands down. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

More of the "Give Me My Tank Top Back" Saga

On Friday, I blogged about my experience on arriving home from Target on Thursday to discover that an item was missing from my bag. In a nutshell, initially I was told to come on in and they'd replace it, no problem. So, I made a special trip back in to town, only to essentially be told that that they didn't believe me, and that they had to "review the tape" to make sure I was telling the truth (and wasn't a thief, apparently).

I tweeted about it, and @Target responded promptly, but I was told that all they could do was file a complaint about the local store, so that's what I did.

I heard nothing until Sunday, when I realized that the manager who'd treated me like crap on Friday had only taken down my phone number, and no other information like when I'd visited. I called at about noon on Sunday, explained the situation, that I was checking in to see if the tape had been reviewed and to provide any additional info needed if it hadn't been reviewed. I was told that a manager would call me right back...only I never received a call yesterday.

This morning, I called the store as soon as they opened, and explained that I was following up again, because I'd really like that tank top. You know, the one that I paid for. The customer service rep sighed heavily and said that yeah, they had my name and phone number at the desk, but that they can't actually do anything until I provided a string of numbers at the bottom of the receipt along with the date and time that I'd been in the store...I'm not sure why they didn't ask for this information the first time I came in with the receipt. I'm not sure why they didn't ask for this information when I called to check on the status of "reviewing the tape" for the first time. But somehow, it seemed that this lack of info was my fault instead of theirs.

Anyway, they now apparently have all the info they need, and will review it when their loss protection person comes in...though customer service couldn't tell me when that would be. But really, after this whole experience, I honestly don't have any confidence that they will ever replace this tank top. I'm not sure whether or not they'll even watch the video, and if they do, I'm sure it will somehow end up being my fault, as has been my experience thus far. 

I'm not upset that they need to review the tape before replacing the item.

But I AM UPSET that I was given incorrect information initially by a Target employee, and drove back into town for no reason.

I AM UPSET that after driving back into town, I was essentially treated like a thief (which is particularly ironic, as during this shopping trip I got out to the car and realized that I hadn't actually paid for a $2 item, so I went back inside to pay for it) while standing in the Target store.

I AM UPSET that the manager on duty (do I ever wish I had his name now) didn't even pretend to believe me, and didn't take down the appropriate info to even review the tape.

I AM UPSET that my contact info, including my phone number, sat at the customer service desk all weekend, and no one called to say that they needed additional info from me.

I AM UPSET that when I called and asked if any additional info was needed, I was told I'd be called right back and received no call.

I AM UPSET that throughout this whole process, no one at Target had apologized. Not for being given the incorrect information initially. Not for any of the other numerous ways that customer service has dropped the ball since then.

I'm sorry if you guys are tired of hearing of this saga, but I honestly feel like I'm being stonewalled by the local Target store, and my blog is the only outlet I have left to talk about this. Because it sucks.

My initial gut-reaction is to say that I won't shop at Target until this tank top is replaced. And since we often buy diapers there, it's not beyond the realm of possibility to say that we spend $100 a month there on average. Yeah, that's only $1200 a year, which is probably small change to the big-wigs at Target, but that's $1200 that they potentially may not receive because of how I was treated over an $8 tank top. I hope it was worth it Target.

Honestly, I can't say that I'll never shop at Target again, but after this experience, I don't think it will be the first place I go anymore.

This sucks, and I want for Target to make it right so badly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bummer, Target.

Yesterday, Lizzy and I went to Target. I bought one of their basic white tanks--I don't own a white tank top, so I was pretty excited about it. As we were loading stuff into the car, I realized that this pretty turquoise cutting board that was on clearance for like $3 had fallen into the side of the cart and I hadn't paid for it. So, we went back in and I paid for the $3 cutting board, and we went on our merry way.

Only I got home, unpacked everything, and realized that I didn't have the white tank top, even though it was on my receipt. I called the store right away to ask if I'd left a bag, and they said no, but to come on in any time and they'd replace the tank top anyway. I wasn't expecting that to be the outcome, but I was so impressed with their customer service. It felt awesome to be trusted and believed. And really, it was probably a win-win for Target because while they may replace an $8 tank top, I'd probably spend (at least) another $60 while I was in the store.

So today, we made a special trip into town. We really try to conserve our trips into town, but thought this was worth making the trip two days in a row. I told Justin I wanted to do some more shopping while we were there. Only, when I got to Target and explained the situation, I was told that no, they would NOT replace the tank top, regardless of what I'd been told the night before. They said that they'd need to review the security tape in order to make sure that I hadn't actually taken the tank top, and that when they got around to it, they'd call me and tell me whether or not they'd replace it.

I'm not upset about the fact that they have to review the tape--though I do wish they would have said THAT and not "Yeah, come on in and we're happy to replace it!" over the phone, because now I'm out a tank top AND the gas that it took to drive in to town and back a second time. But I am upset about the tone that was used towards me through the process this morning--I didn't even feel like they were pretending to trust what I was saying, and that sucked. I felt treated as someone who was trying to steal from them ( 'We'll have to review the tape to make sure you didn't actually take it. And when we get around to that, we'll give you a call'). I'm not trying to steal from them--heck, I even came back in to pay for a $3 cutting board. I was just kind of excited about actually having the white tank top that I paid for.

Target saw me Tweet about the issue and asked me to call--I did, and they lodged a complaint...but I'm doubtful that anything will come of it after my experience in the store today (none of the three people I spoke to seemed to care, or believe me)...which is really a bummer.

But really, it's their loss--because I walked out of the store without a single other thing, despite the fact that I had planned to buy quite a few things while there. I just couldn't do it with the bad taste that this experience left in my mouth, and I'm not sure how long it'll be before that taste goes away.


I made a couple of Pinterest-inspired recipes in the past week. I thought both were yummy, even though I over-cooked the chicken in recipe #2. Justin did NOT like the first, but I was not all that surprised as it doesn't include meat.

I am really, super hopeful that we are going to be buying part of a cow. We went out and visited the ranch on Wednesday and I think we both really liked the couple and are excited to sample the beef (we're trying to get a group of the family together to sample it since a few of them may be interested too). This particular ranch raises Longhorn beef, and I am SUPER excited about this prospect--check out the comparison from the USDA between regular lean ground beef and longhorn beef:

Lean Ground Beef (per serving): 272 cal/24.7g protein/ 18.5g fat
Longhorn Beef (per serving): 140 cal/ 25.5g protein/ 3.7g fat

Literally everything is a battle with Lizzy right now. It's a battle to get her to eat anything (other than fruit). It's a battle to get her to even sit on the toilet. It's a battle to get her to bed. It's a battle to read her a book. This stage of parenting is so hard! But then again, the other night I wasn't feeling great, and Lizzy came and snuggled with me on the couch and gave me kisses for over an hour.

I got the new Jillian Michaels Kickbox Fastfix DVD. I like it. It felt like it went really fast, and I probably could have done back-to-back workouts. Also? It's easier on my knees than some of the other Jillian videos.

I have been reading up a STORM lately, so you'll probably see once-a-week (if not more often) book reviews for the next few months. The book review posts are consistently the least popular in terms of comments, so I'm not entirely sure whether or not you guys like them, but the bottom line is that I'm a book worm and I like them.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Book Review: Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee

From the back of the book: Graciela "Ace" Jones is a sassy high school teacher, known in her small town of Bugtussle, Mississippi, for an outsize presence and a mouth to match. But this time that big mouth might get her into big trouble...

Ace knows that something bad is brewing when her best friend and co-worker, Lilly, cancels their annual spring break trip to be with a man--a man she's kept a secret for months. But the real trouble comes when Lilly is fired by their horrible principal--under suspicion of sleeping with a student of all things.


To be honest, initially I wasn't sure that I'd like Ace Jones and Diary of a Mad Fat Girl by Stephanie McAfee. I love sarcasm as much as the next girl, but sometimes when I feel like a character is always snarky just for the sake of being snarky, I get a little fed up. I didn't like it on The Bump, and I don't like it now. To be honest, had finishing the book not been a requirement of BlogHer Book Club, I'm not sure that I would have. From the first 10 pages of dialect, I wasn't particularly sure that I even liked the main character. I also did NOT understand how the snippet on the back of the book could relate to a novel that was billed as being funny. That said, I'm really glad it was a requirement to finish and that I did, because somewhere along the line I honestly grew to like both Ace and the book as a whole.

I think things turned around for me on page 19, where Ace's not-yet-best friend Lilly is described as being "as coordinated as a newborn giraffe" on the basketball court...because really, that's my life. I played tournament basketball for most of my life, and my coach used to say that I could trip over the lines on the floor. In college, my nickname really was "giraffe", taken after that newborn giraffe clumsiness. And really, when someone so perfectly captures your life in novel form, how can you not continue to read, if not only to try and discern whether the author was secretly spying on you and crafted a novel about your life?!

Anyway, what I came to find was that Diary of a Mad Fat Girl was a really fun read. In my head, I sort of likened it to some good reality TV--you know, like Top Chef or Project Runway. It was funny. There was some drama. Some competition. All the major issues were wrapped up at the end of the night. And you all know reality TV is my guilty pleasure, because sometimes, you just need something light and fun, and that's exactly what I found in Diary of a Mad Fat Girl.


Join the discussion at BlogHer Book Club, or read an excerpt of Diary of a Mad Fat Girl here.

Disclosure Statement: This was a paid review as part of BlogHer Book Club. As always, all opinions regarding the book are my own and have not been influenced in any way. I don't think I could lie about a book if I wanted to.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

11 Things--Random Facts

I was tagged by Leah, Ashley, and Laura (and I think I may be missing a person, so if that's you, I'm sorry!) for the 11 Things Meme. I've been waiting until I had a brain funk day to participate, and that just happened to be today, so here you go.

The Rules
  1. Post these rules
  2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
  3. Answer the questions set for you in the post you were tagged in
  4. Create 11 new questions for your tagees to answer
  5. Tag them on Twitter, Facebook or your blog
11 Random Facts About Me:

1. I was 5'8" by 4th grade (I'm at least 5'10" now). I've spent most of my life feeling like I'm a giant, comparatively!

2. My thumbs are double jointed. I can pull my thumb backwards down to my wrist and then rotate it 360 degrees until it's back in the normal position again.

3. Although I'd occasionally eat chicken, I was essentially a vegetarian from sometime in high school up until my freshman year in college. My dad usually cooked our meat well-done, and I didn't like how it tasted, so I stopped eating red meat and didn't miss it.

4. Now I know that I like my steaks medium-rare.

5. I am not a naturally tidy person. I usually wait until our house gets to be a total disaster to clean.

6. I absolutely HATE cilantro.

7. I absolutely hate writing thank you notes, and I personally believe that if the gifter watched you open the present and you said "thank you", that should be sufficient.

8. Justin and I got married when we were 19 and 20 (ps-I added a wedding post in the "Our Story" tab up top if you're interested).

9. Growing up, I always thought I'd be a marine biologist. Then I discovered I hated science.

10. My mom used to drink tea almost every single morning. I used to HATE how it tasted, and never understood tea drinkers. But, I'm a recent convert to Good Earth's Sweet & Spicy tea.

11. When I moved up to Tacoma for college, I came from a very small town in Southern Oregon. I was absolutely FLABBERGASTED that you cannot see the stars inside the city! I honestly had no clue that some people don't see them every night.

11 Questions (I just plucked a few from each):

1. If you could spend $200,000 at one store, where would it be? What would you buy?
Well, I should probably be practical here and say Lowe's or Home Depot, because Lord knows we could do a TON of house projects (table, headboard, landscaping, backyard, patio furniture, kitchen backsplash!) with $20,000. But really? You know I want to say Target!

2. What is your all-time favorite quote?
It's from The Perks of Being A Wallflower: "There is nothing like the deep breaths after laughing that hard. Nothing in the world like a sore stomach for the right reasons. It was that good."

3. If you had the choice, would you rather be a famous chef or a famous movie star?
A famous chef! Because not only would I have access to all the best ingredients to cook with, but I'd also be able to do "restaurant swaps" with other famous chefs, and finally eat at Tom Colicchio's restaurant!

4. Did you go to public or private school?
Public school. Honestly, I think private schools are a little overrated--they come with their own problems and issues in my experience. But that said, I have a feeling Lizzy will end up going to one since there's a school at our church.

5. What is your favorite pen to write with?
Pentel has these really thin pens that are almost like markers, but work much better for writing than markers do, and I LOVE them. I almost bought a turquoise Le Pen over the weekend--are they worth it?! Also, does anybody else remember that set of 36 Pentel markers that came in that yellow case? I *loved* those!

6. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?
An at-home Yumm-Cup--black beans, rice, a little cheese, Cafe Yumm sauce, spinach, tomato, and peppers.

7. If you won the lottery, what would you do first (besides paying off any debts)?
Go to Hawaii. Every year when we get our tax return back, I usually find myself thinking 'why don't we just forget all the things we've budgeted and go to Hawaii instead?!' I love the beach, and Oregon is definitely the coast, not the beach.

8. What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV. I know a lot of it is garbage, but sometimes I just want something that's mindlessly entertaining!

9. What do you hope your life looks like 5 years from now?
A lot like it does now, but hopefully with more kids, less debt, a designated family night, and living in a house with less "stuff".

10. If you were the mother of the Duggar children, what is one rule you would set in your home above all others, with that many children?
You must at least TRY a bite of everything that I made for dinner. If you don't like it, make your own.

11. Where is your fast food of poison?
Taco Bell. Hands down, by far. I could go years without McDonalds, BK, Carl's Jr, etc. But I LOVE Taco Bell!

And my 11 Questions are:
1. Where is the last place you went on vacation?
2. Where is the place you'd most like to go on vacation?
3. Are there any foods you want to like but don't?
4. What's the last thing you ate?
5. The last movie you saw?
6. The last book you read?
7. Do you paint your fingernails/toenails?
8. What's your least favorite color?
9. What's your favorite kind of exercise? How often do you do it?
10. What's your favorite alcoholic beverage?
11. What do you like on your pizza?

And I tag: Kristal, Sar, Lisa, and Kait

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BQOTD: The Christian Church

We've slowly been working through Lord Save Us From Your Followers by Dan Merchant during Adult Sunday School at church. I've mentioned my absolute, undying love for the book on the blog before, and I'm so glad Justin's dad was willing to try something that's a little out of the box for a few weeks--it has been such a blessing to me, and fits so well with our last study on Galatians.

Anyway, if you've not read the book or seen the movie, the catch-phrase of sorts is "Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?"...and I think that's definitely a question worth asking. It NEEDS to be asked. Anyway, during one portion of things, Dan Merchant goes out to ask people on the street a series of questions, and I'd like to steal two of them here today for my burning question of the day, as well as to add a third:

1-What's one thing that Jesus is known for?
2-What's one thing that Christians are known for?
3- Overall, have your experiences with people who identify themselves as being Christian been positive, or negative?

Answer these however you wish, with the first thing that comes to mind! Please feel free to be honest here, even if you think what you have to say isn't necessarily what I hope to hear. My hope is just simply to start a conversation about how people both in and out of the church view Christianity and Christians...because I think it's important.

Also, this should go without saying, but be kind to each other in the comments. Disagreeing with others is fine, but I simply won't tolerate bashing, from either side of the equation.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mundane Beauty: Version 2.0

Living in Oregon can be a little different than living anywhere else--we have snow here almost all winter, but it's up in the hills, not often on the valley floor. It's easily accessible almost any time you'd like to see it, but also doesn't often intersect with everyday life.

But last week, it snowed. Just a little, but more than I think it's ever snowed in this particular city since we moved here in 2008. We'd taken Lizzy up to the snow just before she turned one, but this was probably the first snow that she remembers.








Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday Thoughts

Can I ask a favor of y'all? There are so many of you who have left comments over the past couple of weeks that I've wanted to respond to, but many of you haven't had email addresses associated with your accounts, and it just makes it much harder to get back to you! It's really easy to add an email to your account--in blogger, from your dashboard click on "edit profile", and then add an email address to your profile! With so many free options for email, you could even create a separate email just for your blog :)

I am so happy about the Top Chef finale. I don't want to spoil it in case there's anybody who hasn't watched it yet, but I really thought the other person was going to win and it was making me nervous! I'm glad the one I was rooting for pulled it through!

Thank you guys for the thoughts and prayers about my dad in the hospital, he went home last week, and then had been back in again since Monday of this week, but got to go home yesterday! Hopefully he's recovering well and can say out of that place!

I'm thinking about re-instating "Photography Fridays" on the blog, which I haven't done in awhile, but in the past has included the 12 Weeks to Better Photography course. That particular course isn't available any more, but I think there are others we could do, or that I could come up with something. I'm just jonesing for more photography and need an excuse! What I'd like to know is if you're interested in participating, what sort of tutorials would YOU like to see--very basic, beginner, more advanced, etc?

Lizzy had been doing pretty great with potty training. And then all of a sudden, I'd tell her that it was time to sit on the toilet and she'd start to scream, "NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I too BIG!" (I think she actually means she's too little). I've been trying not to push it because I know she'll do it when she's ready and blah blah blah. But seriously, I'M READY.

I have Mom's Group this morning, and I *really* should shower, but I just don't want to. Most people at this particular Mom's Group usually come pretty dressed up, but I think that I may end up going in a sweatshirt and yoga pants today. Oh well. I'm feeling lazy. Plus, if I go out dressed ready to work out, I may actually be more likely to do Jillian's Yoga Meltdown later today like I'm supposed to, you
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