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Monday, December 31, 2012

And Then I Knew it Would Be Good

     About two months ago, Tim and I had the privilege of being invited to a wedding** in a very large, very old (read: very gorgeous) Catholic church.  We sat very quietly for a few minutes, waiting for the ceremony to begin, and I started doing that Sinking Into The Pews Thing I sometimes like to do.

Sometimes, I like need church because it just gives me time to think.

About Jesus and how much He loves me.

About how much I love Cincinnati and am so thankful for the call to Stay.

About all those "I knew it would be good....things."

For example, I knew Aunthood would be good....but I didn't know it would be this good.

For me, those things are Marriage, and Lucy, and dog-ownership.

When God is this good to us, why do we angst over the idea that He's going to give us anything less?

Love and I don't know either.

What are some of your "I knew it would be good...things?"

**The bride & groom love The Reds....and the wedding was baseball-themed.  It was one of the best receptions, but- being the photographer that I am (Read: am NOT), none of my pictures turned out super-great.  Use your imagination!

Friday, December 28, 2012

But first, this.

I am trying to do a Much Better Job of Listening to My Soul.  I have stifled it for far too many years.  The Stifling has resulted in everything from over-eating to under-eating to anxiety to an I-can't-put-my-finger-on-it sort of discontent at various times.

For months, I thought my soul was saying, "Baby."

But then, on a whim, Tim ordered a ukelele for me.  I know roughly 4 chords, but the second my fingers hit those strings, a sense of peace and contentment fills my heart in a way I can't explain.

Perhaps it was my head- looking at the calendar- and realizing that the number of rings on my tree wasn't getting any shorter- that was saying, "Baby."

And all the while, my soul and my heart were shouting,

 "Music.  Make Music."

So, music is what we shall make.

For now.

Love and his name is Eddy Finn,

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cut your Grocery Bill by 1/4 (at least!) with one piece of paper.

     Originally, I just cooked up this plan to save time at the grocery store.  I had no idea that it would also help save us money in the end- Hooray for new-on-top-of-new-ideas. 

I hope it helps you, too! 

     First and foremost, I started my "plan" by making a chart that I wanted to use for a grocery list according to the lay-out of our nearby Kroger Grocery store.  When you enter our store, produce is to the right- meat, on the back wall, etc.  

    After printing it as a word document, I write my meal plan on the far right rectangle (the one with no label).  As I write a meal down, I then divvy out the ingredients I need onto the list (if I don't already have them at home).

     Next, I write the estimated price next to each item.  I try to account for tax, things that are NOT on sale, etc.  I also try to over-estimate the price by about 50 cents, just in case. 

In other words, I round up.  

     Then, I add up each category (produce, meat, canned goods, etc.) and put it in the corner of the "aisle box" (so if I'm spending 10 dollars on produce, I put a number 10 in the bottom right-hand corner of the produce box).  Then, I add up my estimated total and write it on the lower right-hand corner of the page.  

      As I'm shopping, I try to take a different-colored pen with me to mark down "real" prices.  I also continue to check the estimated prices.  If it is something I have under-estimated in terms of price- I usually don't buy it if I don't absolutely need it. 

      For example- if I mistakenly think hummus will be on sale that week, but it's regularly priced, I will probably skip it. No big deal.  

     However, sometimes- the stars align and I undershoot many items.  Then I spring for the hummus, avocados and expensive creamer...cause that's just how we roll.

      Finally, I add everything up and see how well it matches.  I might be way off occasionally, but as long as I'm under the $100 budget, I don't stress too much.

Below, is a list I've recently used.  The items I needed/meals I planned to fix are in blue.  The accurate prices are in orange.  This week's list was SUPER short because of the holidays.  I already had a lot in the stock (like the tilapia).  Plus we've eaten with family a lot and shared leftovers.  And we may or may not have started sleeping through breakfast...

     If I know I am going to be UNDER budget (like this week- yipee!), I toss in a gift card for us to use so we have some extra room in our entertainment budget OR I go home and transfer the leftover grocery money into one of our other accounts (emergency savings, down payment for a car, travel, etc.).  

     All in all, the list saves me time because it is organized according to the lay-out of the store.  It also helps hold me accountable.  

     I enjoy the splurges because I've prepared for them.  

Also, I'm content to say "no" to certain items because I know that will free up money for other items I might encounter as I shop.  

     For example, if I skip the almost $4 hummus- but later I see that holiday coffee creamer is on sale for around $2,  I'll pick that up instead.  

Just remember to do this in moderation.  You don't want to spend $20 extra just because you said "no" to one or two items.

     Using this method, I have been able to build everything from potted mums to wrapping paper to holiday decorations into our grocery budget.

     I know it sounds like a lot of work up front, but you really will catch your stride.  I usually spend about 2 full minutes tucked away by the dairy aisle- checking over everything.  Once you start to see the savings AND see how much time it saves you, it really will motivate you to stick with it.  

     If you want a copy of my chart/list that you can edit yourself, I can email you an attachment and you can re-type your own aisles and categories in.  


What do you think of the list? Did I miss anything?  How are you going to make it work for you and your family/budget? 

Love and one dollar avocados,

Merry Christmas!

Lots of great changes to This Here Blog.

Truly the best is yet to come.
Wishing you a Merry & Bright Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Love and The Comforter has Come.
T, H, S & N.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

This December, I would like to:

Cook something super-easy for dinner and spend a good portion of our evening watching a movie and decorating the tree (real quick-like)!

Stop at Mariemont Starbucks and take the long-cut through our new favorite 'hood (shout out to Terrace Park)- looking at Christmas lights and collecting "new house" ideas!  A new-someday-house, I tell you!

Take a carriage ride downtown (and spend the entire time kissing in the back).

Ice skating falling flat on our faces in the middle of Fountain Square!

For the love of Pete, someone take this girl to the aquarium already.

Sushi & Wreck-it Ralph.  Best combination, ever?  Maybe.

What's your December looking like?

Love and this horrible photo features last year's tree,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

And then life was simple.

Tonight, Tim and I agreed that the idea is to live simply.  To always live simply.

Less stuff & even more less stuff...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One Thousand Square Feet

I'm not sure our kids will ever remember this house.  Truth be told, probably not.  Let's cut to the chase.  This is what I will say about The House in Which we Lived Before They Existed.    

     I will tell them that the bathroom was so small, you practically had to stand in the tub to get the door shut and there were days when I very well may have given my next paycheck for a linen closet or a garage or a basement should the opportunity present itself.  I will tell them that Noel's medicated shampoo made the entire bathroom smell like spearmint gum, and the scent of fresh breath will always remind me of her.

     I will tell them that our dishwasher had wheels and our neighbors grew weed in their greenhouse and we had numerous things stolen throughout our time there.

     And I will tell them that we loved each other very much in that tiny-red-front-door house and that we were crowded at times but the lack of overhead lighting made it easy to create a cozy, soft glow (oh yes, please seed lights).

I will tell them that the thing I remember most about that house is that when we lived there, 
we were happy.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

And then I planted seeds

     Last summer, (that feels weird to say.  How is it almost November already)?  I bought one of those dollar boxes of wildflower seeds.

Nothing really happened.

I think, if our yard/garden was full of cartoon plants, they would let out a collective "Noooooo!" as soon as they see the school buses coming.

You see, every April, I'm all....



And then school starts.  I get busy, and everything dies.

That's the short story.  Actually, that's the entire story.

With that being said, eventually- something grew in our wildflower patch.  It was weed-like for the entire season, but I refused to believe it.

It had to be something more.

And lo & behold...

it was.

And so it must be said,

I am thankful for our house and our yard and our blessings.

May they all run wild & free.  

Love and what the heck' are those?

Seriously.  If you know- let me know cause I'd love to plant them again.  My best guess is prairie rose....?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

And then the months passed

Circa August 2012

     And so it must be noted, there were days when I ached for things (which will not be mentioned here) so badly I could feel it in my teeth.

In the mornings, I try Very Hard to listen to The Voice of God. Pressing my cup to the door of heaven.

     After I've showered and dressed and my hair is dry, I get back in bed with Tim and I pray. Because that is what Holly's are good at- the getting back in bed. The prayers are for him.  For our dogs.  For our marriage and his business and for Lucy.  I practice gratitude.  I muster the courage to (for the love of Pete) get back out of bed.

During the day, I pray as people and situations pop into my head.

And at night, I repent.  I reflect on my day.  I pray for peace.

     And sometimes, if the mood strikes, I thank Him for not having those unmentioned things above.  I thank Him for the waiting.  For the no's-when-I-don't-understand-the-reasons.

This too shall pass

or so I've heard.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Closer than ever

My books are late.  My library books are late.  Tim and I joke that my late fees alone funded the fancy new digs our library's got going on.

It just kind of is what it is.

And that fact alone used to hold a lot of weight.

I would get really mad.  At myself.  At the stupid library.  At the calendar in general.

Today, we discovered that a bill of ours had flown under the radar for the first time in the four years we've been married.  That's a pretty good track record, if you ask me.

And I got in the car with 2 late notices in hand (book. bill.)  And I thought....

"Why am I not freaking out about this?"

Because usually (and this is ridiculous)...I get Very Frustrated and I chalk this up to yet again something negative about me/us and parenthood.

i.e. people who don't tie up these kinds of loose ends have no business having babies.

And it was then that I realized my perspective has changed....I'm not that upset about it because a.) no one died and  b.) I'm starting to identify myself as The Daughter of a Heavenly King rather than just as someone who doesn't always get their i's dotted on time.

And that thought was perhaps the most profound thought I've had in a good, long while.

I think we will look back and say that we knew we were ready for a baby when we started changing the way we talked to ourselves and that, in turn, changed the way we talked to each other.

We're not completely there, yet.  At least I'm not, but we are closer than ever.

Love and I didn't even read the book,

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And then I trembled.

In the year of 30, I have learned 4 things about myself based on what my body and my heart have told me.

1.  There are days when I would gladly trade My Favorite Record Player for a chubby, red-haired baby and nothing has ever surprised me as much as that has.

2.  My joints have officially stopped coming to my defense.  As much as everyone jokes about their age, it's true.  It is a quiet protest, but there are still, occasionally New Aches.

3.  I can no longer "do" action movies.  The absolute worst parts are when someone's all, "Hey, that one Russian Guy actually works for the CIA and how 'bout  Those Redsox" and without warning, someone goes and literally shoots the poor messenger mid-sentence.

That one's a complete date ruiner for me. 20 minutes into our latest film venture Tim looked at me (eyes covered, breathing heavily) and said, "You've gotten worse."

  And then this happened.

It was supposed to be a quiet night.  A nice night in.  I was sick...and tired.  Tim had been on his feet.  We made Chinese Food and watched a movie. And during one particular action-packed chase scene a bad guy gets hit by a car.


And then I remembered this.  And then I travelled back in time and thought about this.

Poor Angry Russian.  Cause you know, that's me.  In the gray suit. Carrying the gun.  Breaking the headlight and denting the hood.

And the scene had not even ended, but still, I said-twice.

I'm done.  I'm done.

     And promptly left the room. For the first time in roughly 8 years, I thought about the accident and I cried.  I cleaned the house for about 45 seconds until the crying turned into those snotty, gasping kind of sobs and then I found myself leaned over the dresser, trembling.  

     I don't think I have ever trembled before.  It wasn't "Wow, that deer came out of no where and now my hands are shaking."  It was something deeper.  Less easily controlled.  It had nothing to do with hands, either.  It was all in the biceps and forearms.  If life is a story, this was The Baby Bear of panic attacks.  I'm sure.

And I Pictured the whole movie scene over again.

 It happened, you know.  

Tim said when we first met and I came to an intersection, I used to cower. Is there a sadder word in the whole wide world? 

Five dollars if you can say that 3 times fast. ^

But still...

For years, I did approach the accident with the easiness of a Hawaiian Surfer.  With the wave of a hand on the way to Red's Games and the comment, " can't happen twice." 

I was cocky.  Arrogant about the whole thing.  

The truth is, it hasn't bothered me.  Until lately.  Which, I admit, is weird.  A random bad dream here.  
A sigh at the same intersection there.   

But strangeness aside, it was over, and I was over it. 

Surprise.  Surprise.  

And hunched over the dresser, I knew 2 very distinct things.  Like a moth to a flame, a deer to water.

  I needed to take a shower.

     I scrubbed down in 11 different ways and pretty much spent the rest of the time staring into space, listening to the distant gunshots and fist fights in the background.  I'm not even sure I rinsed my hair.  I tried to pray.  I did.  I tried to recite Psalm 23, but my brain wasn't having any of it.  There was no possible way to bring up the scripture verses I have committed to memory.  Something about a cup....and a valley....and a house.  And then, in that moment, I knew... He was gone.  The Lord had left and surely that can be labeled as The Loneliest Shower Ever Taken.

After that part was over, I foolishly shook my fist at the sky.  Don't. you. ever. leave. me. again. And The Lord, in true fashion, has never been so quick to give a response...the rest of Psalm 23.

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

And then I remembered that I am loved and that I am bought with a price and that nations have been given in exchange for my life and I was finally able to unfold myself and get out of the shower.

 And the next thing I knew was that I needed to write.

In that moment, I desperately wished Charlie was there.  To listen.  To chat.  To give.

Charlie was my late-50-something Post-traumatic Stress Counselor.  He wore Hawaiian print shirts and loved Ohio State football.  He lost his dad to a heart attack while they were out golfing.  He tried CPR.  It didn't save him.  And I cried.  A lot.

Referred to by a friend, he really counseled at a Drug Rehab Center.

 A second grade teacher?  I was a welcome change.

As part of the "Rehab Paperwork,"  He had to ask me all sorts of awkward questions and apologized in advance.  My drug habits. Alcohol.  How many sexual partners I'd had.

I told him we didn't even keep cooking wine in the house and that I was a virgin and he looked at me like I was made of gold.  A lone violinist in a room full of drummers.  Because that was how my stories came out.

Loud and choppy, sad and hopeful and slow.

I wore my pink converse tennis shoes and a  hoodie and listened to The Shins in the waiting room. Trying to channel my inner Natalie Portman.

And then there's number 4 from the first list above, lest we forget.

I need to be humbled.

Oh. This is just so IT, isn't it?  A lesson in humility.

And earlier....when I found myself leaned over our dresser.  Palms on my forehead. Trembling.  Staring into my closet...He spoke.

Behold,  I am making all things new.

Maybe this is just my new normal for now.  Taking a break from the Jason Statham's and the Bruce Willis's for a while.

My name is Holly Young, and I like movies with dogs, jazz music and kissing.  Lots of kissing.

Behold, I am making all things new.  

Love, and surely He is.

P.S. There were a lot of numbers in this, which confused me. I still don't feel like it's the "right order," but if I've learned anything- it's that you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

P.S.S. When I got out of the shower, my make up literally looked like this. It. was. awesome. Where is a camera crew when I need one?

***It must be noted that a few weeks ago, I told someone on Facebook that the accident opened me up to beautiful things.  Amidst all of this, that still holds true.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm Right About This One

 Dear Future Maybe Daughter,

     I pray that when the time comes, you will marry a boy who brings a pen.

Bank meetings. Financial Planning.  Lease-signings.  Car loans.

I pray he brings his pen and a working knowledge of business and finances.

IRA's.  Escrow.  Interest Rates.

     Not because I'm not all for women's rights or paving YOUR OWN way or women becoming financially independent.

(Thank you Susan B. Anthony)

     It just lets you rest.  When school has started and you wore The Wrong Shoes and you get a blister on your thumb from sharpening pencils.  

His pen and his knowledge lets you sit quietly and eat your apple (and 1/2 of his Panera cookie).

It just lets you rest.

Love and I'm right about this one,
H.   Mom



Monday, August 20, 2012

There were Germs Involved.

For such a long time, our bedroom has reminded me of college.  No bed frame.  Bare walls.

With good reason.  If not for Tim, my bedroom would look a little like this....

While Tim would much prefer....

Source: via Shantell on Pinterest

Vastly different tastes. Imagine my dismay.

So we've procrastinated quite a bit in the bedroom decor' department.  Until recently.

A lamp was purchased.  Pictures were hung.

It is funny how two or three items can just make you feel human again.

Who knew such comfort could come from the soft glow of a $6 Family Dollar Lamp.

In other news,

Tim is sick.  Not SICK SICK, but like 24 hour bug, don't get off the couch, sick.

 I used to resent the size of this house, but lately I am oh-so thankful for it.  Were our house much larger, we'd probably be much farther apart.  Him on a basement in some Master Suite, two flights up.   After a horrible night's sleep, he is finally sleeping on the couch in the living room not 15 feet away from me and I am holed up in our bedroom with my Bible, my blog,and my New Favorite Lamp.  There is also a Rather Pitiful Pile of Fur snoozing next to me.

I like the fact that I can so easily check on him.  Yes.  On more than one occasion, I have peeked around the corner to ensure that he is still breathing.  I am my Mother's Daughter.

This morning, a tiny house is our blessing.

With that being said, I am waiting.  You know.  Waiting to get it.


Germs.  Ugh.

     I have said it once, if not a million times, and I will say it again.  I feel as if my life is just a series of moments in which I just give everything over to something so much bigger than myself.

So much bigger than any of us.

There it is. The word Surrender.

Read: There isn't enough Lysol in the world to save me at this point.

I don't know much these days, but I do know that The Bible says that  nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. 

Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.   Hebrews 4:13

I don't know why, but I am taking so much comfort in that ...and my tiny blue lamp. 

Cautiously Optimistic, 

Friday, August 10, 2012

A short summary of Aunthood

I am a sucker for church rituals. Sometimes to a fault. 

I envy other religions/denominations.  I covet their rituals.  

 Communion. Ash Wednesday.  Baptisms.  I'm there.  Give me a good baby dedication any day and I may  bawl tears of joy through the majority of it.  

For me, rituals are a way of making the life of Jesus tangible.  

In teaching, when you are covering the subject of apples, you bring in apples.  You taste apples.  You make graphs about apples.  You draw apple trees and write apple poems.  

I think Communion was Jesus' way of bringing the apples.  

Sometimes, I find myself in church just needing Something Very Important to happen.  Comfort.  Patience.  An Outpouring of Peace.  

One Midnight Christmas Eve Service, I found myself sinking Very Deeply into the seats.  It was something reminiscent of Flat Stanley.  

And I prayed.  I prayed that I would be able to end  the coming year a kinder, gentler version of myself.  

And Aunthood has done that.  It has done that to us all.  

Thanks be to Lucy. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We have a winner!

Kaitlyn Winn from the blog, "We are all untamed" is the winner of the "7 book giveaway!"

Congrats, Kaitlyn! :)  You are going to love it...and then you are going to hate it because there are some very hard truths hidden in there...and then you are going to love it again. :)

Please email me your shipping info.!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

7, A Book Review and a Give away!


Ok.  Here's the deal.  You guys.  Seriously.


Do I have your attention, yet?

Ha.  But seriously. Guys.

Over the summer, after some prompting by my friend, Courtney, I read a magical little book called 7 by Jen Hatmaker.

Long story short, the book details Hatmaker's attempt at getting rid of the excess STUFF in her life.

No area was safe.

In less than a year, Jen overhauled her everything from her closet to her pantry to her wallet.

An excerpt from the Book Trailer explains,

"By living a deeply reduced life, [her family] hoped to discover a greatly increased God."

And this tiny little book has changed my life.

You guys.

I feel super cheesy saying that but...

In the words of Salt n' Peppa, Let me take you back to the subject.

My mother is a saint.  She is a saint.  I have called her, many a times and bemoaned.  That's right, I have bemoaned, in reference to not being able to keep my house clean...

"We just have so much stuff!!!!!"


And usually, I'm crying.

It's a real treat.  Surely.

In my experience, when in need of a picture that represents the word bemoan, the best thing to do is Google Image, "Girls crying on The Bachelor."

My conversations with my mother sometimes look a little like this:

**The first one's for you, daddy!**



I am so completely embarrassed to admit this, but the fact that we have so much STUFF overwhelms me to the point that I do wonder, "How are we ever going to make room for a baby!?!?!"

And then comes the guilt.

Oh. Hello, Guilt.  Didn't I just see you yesterday?

The Guilt comes when I start doing The Math.  You know.  Math.

How are we TWO people who have lived in a THREE bedroom house for only FOUR YEARS and we have already outgrown it!?!?!?!

And Guilt always brings his pal Fear along for the ride.

Fear that I will stay overwhelmed and motherhood will just amplify the fear and the guilt and the stuff.


And it never occurred to me to get rid of any of it....

Until I read 7....and got real about the STUFF that had crept into our lives. And the money we were spending on STUFF we don't really need....or even want in the end....?

And I started doing a new kind of math.

I'll give you a few examples.

This summer, I have discovered that we own the following, ridiculous items:

Measuring spoons: 3 sets

Bakeware:  11 pieces  (not including cookie sheets or pots/pans)        

Towels (bath and beach): 15      (!?!?!?!?!?!?)

Sheet sets:  5

And then I honestly quit counting everything and just started trying to get rid of roughly 1/2 of everything we own. (I'm kidding. Kind of.)

But seriously.  The towels alone were enough to do me in.

We are Tim and Holly Young, and sometimes, when we are in a pinch, we use beach towels for our bath towels.

There have been many days when Tim has a towel and I have a towel...and that's it as far as clean towels go.


You guys.

Seriously. Guys.


There have been times when we are down to our last sheet set.


And there are people who don't have towels or sheets or beds for that matter.  

Are you with me?

No wonder I am stressed out and cluttered and childless.

Holy Smokes, I need some iced tea. (Ironically, I just gave away our iced tea maker).

So.  That's kind of where we are.  I'm on my 3rd trip to the Goodwill  drop-off.

  And because the book is about more than just our STUFF...

     I am taking my own grocery bags to the store. I am trying to (more often) strip our grocery budget to the bare bones so we can donate the difference.  I am researching re-usable...everythings... from straws to produce bags to baggies.  We're researching rain barrels.

 It's really kind of amazing.

I don't say all this because I want people to think we are good and noble and awesome.  I don't want a medal or a sticker or a prize.  I just want...?


And less stuff.

For Pete's Sake, less stuff.

And to always have the realization that someone, somewhere is *literally starving to death* flying on my radar.

And the willingness- and know how- to help.

And for my baby not to have to sleep in a dresser drawer surrounded by my husband's socks.

I don't think that's asking too much.


     With that being said, again- inspired by Courtney The Kind, I am purchasing my own copy of 7 and one to give away as well.

Leave a comment here or on my Facebook Post Link.

Tomorrow night (8/8), I'll choose a number using, and that person will win their own copy of the book.

 I'll count the Facebook comments first and the Blogger comments next.  i.e., If there are 10 FB comments, but you are the first Blog comment, your number in the drawing would be 11.

If you want to tweet about it, FB about it, reblog this, or write a letter to your grandmother, that's cool too.  Feel free to holla' at me in the comments section below or on FB and that will win you an extra entry....or four.  I'm not real big on putting rules on these kinds of things.

Hope that's fair, simple, and makes sense.

So, what are you getting rid of? :)

I just tried to give away my husband's Dreamcast.  It's not going well.

Love and whose got a couch I can sleep on?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012