Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Some Links for You

I've got a few links for you today.  Free of charge because you are just that adorable!  ;)

And because I can't seem to do anything these days without the use of alliteration, I've got something for the home, head, heart, health, and your happiness.

How fun is that?

Here we go!

Home:  Apartment Therapy posted this question about adding color through the use of curtains.

Head:  This is an article about how the city of Columbia (South Carolina) plans to address the issue of homelessness.  Still on the fence about this.

Heart:  The tiny twig posted this great piece about moving out of "The Newlywed Phase" of marriage.  Five years in, and we'll still take all the help we can get.  ;)

Health:  Twelve Healthy Benefits of Zumba (Ole'!)

Happiness:  I thought it would only be appropriate to end with a "dog adoption success story."  Here's one from Petfinder's, "A Happy Tail" section.

Hooray!  

Love and take care of each other,
H.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Swings! Sushi! Sunsets!

     Recently, Tim and I went to a new area of town called The Banks.  Sometimes, I feel like Cincinnati is seriously lacking in the "entertainment" area, but after this visit, I just wanted to stand up and applaud.

Well done, Queen City.  Well done.

     It feels like they just cut out an entire neighborhood next to The Ballpark and just...dropped a bunch of restaurants and buildings in the empty spaces. I have lived here my entire life, and I just could not wrap my head around this new part of town.

Poor Tim.  I kept gasping as we'd turn every corner...

"It's so beautiful!"

"What used to be here?"

"...And...what used to be HERE!?!?"

They've also added a large, gorgeous park right next to the river with swings and fountains and other festive park-like-things.

Swings!  Sushi!  Sunsets!  It all still feels like a dream.

See what I mean????






How've you been spending your weekends?

Love and hoping for a warm fall season,

H.

Linked up with W & P! :) 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The More You Know

So.  I'm not teaching this year.  Let's just get that out there.  I'm not going to spend a lot of time fretting about the last year.

You know, water under the bridge, and whatnot.  But there were some situations that were not dealt with in an honest/ethical manner by another person, and I just felt that was another "sign" that it was time to move on.  The only reason I'm telling you is so that you can kind of have a better understanding of the yuckiness of it all.

It was a situation that took a very long time to play out, and it was very hard.

But, I recently looked back at my Instagram account....back to December....until the end of the school year...and you know what? Based on the pictures...it looks like I had a life.  And I did.  Even when I was right in the thick of it...The Lord was still there.  Even though it didn't feel like it at the time.

You know...it's like...one day, you look back and you know.

Today, I'm praising Him for all those photos.

So, if you are going through something really, really stinky right now.  I want you to know that The Lord will be there...

He will give you reasons to celebrate.



He will give you peace.



Believe it or not, He will even give you moments of comfort & joy.



Did you know that this is Betsy The Kind? ^^^^  She was my college roommate and is like, my best friend ever.  On a scale of 1-10, I love her an 11 (to the tenth power squared).

(cupcakes from SugarPlums CupCakery...pretty much my favorite cupcakes in the whole world)! 

Love and hang in there,
H.

     I'm really excited to be linking up with Amy today as she hosts her first Monday Praise link-up!  I found Amy's blog through the SheReadsTruth Community.  Maybe this will take the sting out of your Monday!  :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Uncrumple Me: A Post About Envy

     I want to start out by telling you, "This is not a post about babies."  But actually, it kind of is...actually...it's a post about whatever you want need it to be.

     For me, this is a post about a numerous amount of things on any one given day.  Houses and babies and fulfilling jobs and all those well-lit, expensively decorated houses everyone is always pinning the heck out of on pinterest.

First, and foremost, this is a post about envy.

Holy smokes.  There it is.

To be quite honest, this draft has been sitting for a long time.  It just takes a while to get all these things out, you know.

Then Sweet Erika from Rouge & Whimsy wrote a post, and I thought about this draft and muttered to myself, "Ok...what the heck?"

And then shortly there after, I ended up hitting "Publish."

What the heck, am I right?

With that being said...
   
     Right now, I am re-reading a book by Lauren Winner called Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life.  It is my favorite book.  It documents Lauren's journey from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity, and I learn something new every time I read it.

Lauren has a married friend named Hannah.

During one particularly awkward encounter, Hannah explains to Lauren that she *might* be in the beginning stages of an affair with another man and is...what's the word?

Oh, yes.

Blatantly unrepentant.

Or so it seems.

And Lauren, being in her mid-20's and "still" single, has a hard time getting over it.

Because it stinks.  It stinks when people make bad choices and, in turn, get the things we most want.

Houses and babies and new lovers alike.

Hannah is involved with two men while Lauren spends Christmas alone with a box of Lucky Charms and a scratchy afghan.

And then Hannah gets pregnant.  Unfaithful-fornicating-selfish-two-timing Hannah gets her very own bundle of joy.

Joy?

     The rest of this post is mostly just Lauren's reaction.  Someone once commented (on a separate blog) that posting quotes feels a lot like cheating.  And maybe it is.  Maybe I am cheating by posting such a large amount of content by another author, but right now, for some reason, it just feels desperately important.

So.  There you have it.  And below, you'll find Lauren's words. Not mine.

+ + + + + + + + + + +
 
  When I get home from coffee with Hannah, I sit on my bed and try to picture it.  I try to picture watching her be pregnant, I try to picture the baby shower, I try to picture the newborn, downy person in a pink blanket, and I try, while I picture those things, to picture myself being happy for Hannah, and I can't.  I can't imagine feeling happy.  I just feel jealous and pathetic and lame.  I feel miserable.  On top of feeling jeaouls and miserable, I feel like a bad, selfish person, so uncharitable that I can't summon even a shade of joy when my friends do great, joyful things like have babies.

     Sitting on my bed, I tell God bluntly that I don't have the resources to watch Hannah have this baby. "I really don't want to feel this way," I say.  "I really want to do right by my friend.  But I don't know how to be a friend to her, God."  I don't think I can stand even five mintues of her crib-buying glee.  I don't think I can give her a sympathetic ear when she complains about morning sickness.  I look at my icons.  "I am so jealous I can't stand up straight."  I say.  "If you want me to somehow look on during this pregnancy, you are going to have to give me the eyes to do it with."  If I am going to do something other than crumple up and collapse, it will only be because God does it for me.  Because He will gently pry me apart and prop me upright after I have crumpled into a ball on the floor.    
   
     Somehow, I know He will uncrumple me.  I will be jealous and miserable all through this pregnancy, but I have known God long enough now to know that He will give me enough respite from my jealously to go to Baby Gap.  He will give me enough respite to listen to Hannah talk about her ultrasounds.  If I ask for that respite and open my hands to receive it, He will give it to me.  He will give me enough peace to be her friend.  And knowing God, he might even surprise me.  He might give me, amid the months of envy, a few moments of gratitude and joy.  He might give me a little burst of affection and excitement when I first see that downy bundle of pink.

     Later, in the shower, I get it.  I get that Hannah's pregnancy is my own school of sanctification*.  God is sanctifying Jim and Hannah through marriage and parenthood, but he is not just blessing them and leaving me out in the unblessed cold.  He is using my ridiculous jealousy and my endless self-pity to sanctify me.  

     I will forget that, of course at Hannah's baby shower.  Sitting through that baby shower, I will forget about the sanctification and only remember the pain.  But then I will come home, and I will pray, and I will remember.  I will remember that God does not cause our suffering, but He uses it.

I will remember that He is using that baby shower to somehow grow me into the person He wants me to be.


+ + + + + + + + + + 



Love, and mine usually starts with attached garages, full, finished basements and spacious linen closets,
H.

...and en suite bathrooms....and large pantries.


* Sanctification:  to set apart for sacred use, to make holy

There are days when I have either lost this (haha) ^^^ or days when I don't have a clue, either.
Never want to take for granted that everyone who stops by speaks my language.  :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Summer Re-cap of Sorts

With the end of summer quickly approaching, I wanted to do a quick summary of two trips we took that have yet to make it onto the blog!  Hooray and stuff! 

Hilton Head with Tim's Family 

Highlights //Dolphin Cruise// Baking with The Kids// A visit to Savannah Georgia// 







Indiana Beach with My Family 

Highlights  //Riding The Sky Lift with my dad//  funnel cakes //visiting the park at night
//watching Lucy ride rides//







    In some ways, it feels like we travelled a lot this summer, but in other ways, those trips feel like they happened a long time ago.

Thankful for this little space to document all the bits & pieces as they land.

What happened this summer that you haven't had the chance to share?

Love,

H. T. S. & N.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life Lately #453

If this post needed a new title, it would be called, Dogs! Soup! My Hair!

So, now you know what you're getting yourself into.

I know that a little part of Tim dies every time I post crummy iphone pictures.  "Lifestyle" blogging at it's finest! ;)

     I had "homework" this week.  Hence, the lack of blogging if we really want to place blame here, which I think we do.  I took a Professional Development course in the winter so I could get credit towards the renewal of my teaching license (woop-woop!), and the work wasn't due for...oh...six months.

And like any insane person who has had three months off work would do...I put it off until the last few weeks.

This has resulted in multiple trips to Starbucks/Panera and about 1,000 I-don't-want-to-do-this-anymore-selfies.

It's either going "really well," or I'm just dying a slow death.  I'll let you know.


I don't know who's in charge of hiring the kitchen staff, but as far as floor-cleaner-uppers go, we  seem to have found a keeper.



Noel isn't much of a cuddle-er, but when she is...it's so good.  The paw-on-chest move...classic!




I just liked this.



I found these guys on Petfinder, and it was all I could do to keep from applying.  Tim and I laughed and laughed at these two.  The underbite!  Also, it must be noted, I like animals with food names.  (Shout-out to Lemon the Cat).



I don't mean to brag, but I make pretty good vegetable soup (soup-weather in August?  I know, right?)  My recipe includes directions like (Let it simmer for one hour like the original recipe suggests...then get distracted by Pinterest for two hours and forget that said soup is simmering).  Yum.


Twinsies!  Pardon the uncovered "vintage" chair.  The slip cover is in the wash which may or may not have been the case for the past...oh...three weeks?  


Texting while mowing.



While we're at it...the photo on the left is from our anniversary in 2012.  The one on the right?  2013.
My hair!?!?!  Discuss.  I much prefer it long, blonde and Disney Princess-esque.



I think there's just the perfect amount of dogs in this post.  Sigh.  It's always a fine line.  ;)

Thank you for indulging me for this long.

Love and I think key me ask maybe puzzle, too!
H.

Excited to link-up with W + P  and lowercase letters  for the first time ever!











Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This is the Sound of Settling

     I'm going to warn you right now....it might take you about two minutes to read this...and that's two minutes of your life you're never going to get back.  So...you know, you've been warned.  ;)

      Every afternoon, without fail, our neighbor takes her basset hound for a walk.  She does this, while also carrying a tiny, froo-froo dog in the crook of her arm where her elbow meets her ribs....and every afternoon, without fail, my dogs bark wildly as if the entire cast of Walking Dead is knocking on our door.

Or maybe....

Bark! Bark! Terrorists!  Bark! Bark!

     But then, yesterday, we had people come work on the yard, and Scarlett was not having any of it.  Her little muzzle was wet from outside...and she was all crazy-eyed.

Noel was just beside herself.

     Those girls were bringin' the noise at Them There' Strangers, and I have to admit, I didn't really mind it, and the truth of the matter is, it made me feel really quite safe.

      I am following both Kylie & Kendall Jenner on Instagram, and I HATE MYSELF for it. I'm stealing this from a t-shirt I saw on Pinterest, but good grief, someone needs to get those girls bath robe and a Bible. Also, there are days where I feel like 3/4 of my Instagram feed is nothing but French Bulldogs.  So. There's that.

      This is the first August since I was 5 years old that August means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  No school supplies...no Open House Nights to attend.  No class lists.  No schedules.

     Hm.  I am still trying to decide how I feel about that, but I am putting up The Bravest Front I can manage.

     I am honestly kind of having an identity crisis...to the point that I am worried people are going to start screening my phone calls.

I want to send a text message to the world, "I JUST DON'T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE!"

But I know, Holy Smokes,  I am the only one who can answer that.

     I went to Starbucks...and then later Panera because Starbucks was absolutely freezing (as was Panera, by the way) to work on some thangs' that just weren't getting done at home .

I am, in a word, overwhelmed.  But...we'll get there.

     This morning, I woke up with a weight on my shoulders and a cloud over my head, and I ordered a venti iced coffee (again, Brrr.....) and thought about how nowadays, I just need a healthy dose of courage and enough Avett Brothers to appease the masses.

Love and Play on, Boys.  Play on.

H.


Hi. I feel like I have been over-the-top-dog-mother this week.  Have you SEEN my Instagram?  I'm totally-totally sorry but kind of not that really.  This is an old shot (hence the winter wear).

Togetherness.






Thursday, August 8, 2013

No Need to Get Over Alarmed, I'm Coming Home.

I will gather you together and bring you home again. Zephaniah 3:20 


✈    ✈    ✈    ✈    ✈       


So, here's the thing.

People are coming home.

 

 It's just as easy as that.

      I have a cousin (and his sweet wife) who has now moved about 5 states closer.  Tim's brother has moved his family here from overseas.  One of my friends has moved just down the street while another is moving home after 5 years away, and still one more has committed to at least a few more months here.

     I am over-the-top-excited about it.  I feel like this is a season of "coming home," and I have to say, I quite like it.

Love and what else can we wish for?
H.

Welcome home Darren/Susan & The Young's & Carmen/Family & Kitty/The Smiths & JMP.  You are loved.  

     Also, it must be noted that I cannot stop listening to The Avett Brothers thanks to two of my best pals.  I always hate jumping on a band AFTER they "make it big," but I'll put my pride away just for them. Like.  I physically cannot stop.  I almost got up in the middle of the night just to turn their music on.  It's a bit ridiculous.  Honestly, usually when someone posts a youtube video, I'm like, "Oh. That's nice."  But I never listen.  Trust me.  Just hit play.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Vacation Update!

     Hi.  Here is the (I'm sure) long-awaited Vacation Update.  It is incredibly detailed (I'm not sure why I was so concerned with telling you guys what we ate?), not my best writing, loaded with pictures, and slightly longer than necessary as almost all vacation updates should be.

Get comfy.

     We arrived on Saturday, but it was just a hard travel day. We had a little snafu with the key code to get into our place (we were originally given the wrong one, just a misunderstanding) so the majority of our afternoon/evening was spent picking up the rental car, getting into the condo and getting groceries. We ended up eating lunch at what would end up being my favorite hang out (a parking lot bar/grill called Duffy's Love Shack).


We grabbed a rotisserie chicken and some rice from the deli to end our day.

All our exhaustion was totally worth it, though, once we realized this was the view from our complex driveway/parking lot.  



Day One (sunday)

     Even though I'm not working outside the home right now, I thoroughly enjoyed NOT setting an alarm, especially for Tim's sake.

     I really wanted to have brunch. We are always in church during most restaurant's brunch hours, so while we were on vacation, I wanted to take full advantage of the brunch-ortunity. That's right. I just mixed the words brunch & opportunity. Take that, English Language!

     We had brunch at a place called Pesce (it had gotten really good brunching reviews). It cracked me up because the inside looked NOTHING like the outside. The outside just looked like a little hole in the wall kind of place, but the inside was really elaborate...big columns and mirrors and pretty windows (they are known for their Italian food).

I thought the food was really good. (Me: an omelet & home fries, Tim: Banana's Foster French toast, in case you were wondering).

We spent the entire rest of the day at the beach right outside our condo.

     That night I burned dinner (why try to blame-shift, right?) so we ordered a pizza. Tim was like, the best sport ever. We ate on the back porch and learned that, apparently, ducks can smell pizza as they all came running as soon as the box hit the table.




 After dinner, we went for a walk.  We found a lookout point with a seating area and watched the lights of St. John. It was so beautiful, I wanted to cry, and I don't know any other way to explain it.








Day Two (Monday)

     The weather was a bit overcast. We had cereal on the back porch and chatted with the neighbor. We relaxed all morning while the clouds passed and had grilled ham/cheese for lunch. We were able to do some snorkeling off the beach, but then it started to rain.




 We did a whole lot of NOTHING in the condo (and it was fabulous).

     And now, to celebrate the end of the day on Monday... a photo collage of iguanas, for no apparent reason at all! Is it terrible that I actually had to NARROW down which iguana pictures to use?  The fantastic thing about iguanas is that they each look they they are intentionally posing for a Senior Photo, and it cracks me up. They are so darn photographable.

     That night (if you're still even reading this, poor you),  we drove to The Crown Bay Marina to look at the boats and eat Chinese for dinner.

 For the record, boats and chinese food are two of our favorite things.... making Monday Night a roaring success. ;)

Day Three (Tuesday)

On our honeymoon, Tim made pancakes one morning, and the tradition lives on.





      After our pancake breakfast, we decided to explore some other beaches. We went to Lindquist (Smith Bay Park) because I had read somewhere that a Corona Commercial was filmed there, and I was honestly curious because the beaches in those commercials are always so fabulous.

  I was right....!!!

We “liked” Lindquist. Don't get me wrong, it is gorgeous. We just loved Sapphire Beach SO MUCH...I couldn't stop thinking about it.




     We also stopped at Coki Beach, and we were asking a police officer where was the best place to park. Then a *gentleman* started directing us to an open spot. He started asking us if we needed to rent beach chairs, etc. and promptly offered to sell us weed (with the police officer standing about 15 feet away). And we said to ourselves "Adventure Awaits!" (while politely ignoring the offer for weed).  

     All joking aside, Coki Beach was probably one of my favorite experiences....not because of the beach at all (or the illicit drug use...haha)...but because of the overall atmosphere. It was so crowded, we didn't even put any of our stuff down, but we enjoyed walking around, eyes wide, jaws hanging open, taking in all the sights.

      There are a few cutesy little beach shops,food places, waitresses taking orders everywhere....tons and tons of locals....loud music, the list goes on.

(Lindquist on the top, Coki on bottom)

We came back to our place for a late lunch and spent the rest of the day at Sapphire.

     Before dinner, we quickly changed clothes and drove up to Paradise Point to watch the cruise ship leave and take in the amazing view. They are doing renovations, so the restaurant/bar was closed.  Tim and I were actually the only people up there, which was really nice. 



Then, Tim made a really yummy dinner which included pork chops and snap peas.

We spent some time at Duffy's, buying souvenir mugs, listening to music and eating really yummy tacos.

For the record, I think we both saw 1:30am which I don't think has happened since we've been married.

A second honeymoon, indeed. (hee hee)!

Day Four (Wed)

     We took the car barge over to St. John. The trip over was about 20 minutes, but it was just really pretty and fun.

     We spent time at Trunk Bay which had some fantastic snorkeling. It's just so peaceful being able to watch the fish. It reminded us so much of Finding Nemo! There were THOUSANDS of really little fish that would just swim right by...their little scales shining in the sun.

     After Trunk Bay, we had lunch at a little pub in Mongoose Junction. Yummy meatball subs, but they lose points for no free drink refills! (Glad we packed a cooler of drinks to enjoy later).

     After lunch, we drove to Hawksnest, The snorkeling was *ok* but not as good as Trunk Bay. However, we did see a stingray and some huge angel fish.

     We took a super-quick trip up to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation Ruins because we didn't want to miss the last car barge back to St. John. This is an awesome place to take pictures, and I'd definitely like to go back again.  




     Once we came back to St. Thomas, we had dinner at Fish Tails and got some ice cream. We also had one last visit to Duffy's. We chatted with a few people there, and enjoyed the music (they played a lot of late 90's/early 2000's music, so I feel like they really cater to the 'people in their early 30's' demographic, haha).  It was a perfect night to end our stay.

(Who doesn't love a good self-timer shot?)


Day Five (Thurs)

     I was really glad we booked plane tickets with a departure in the late afternoon (4:35pm). This made our departure not quite so devastating as we were able to enjoy ourselves before actually leaving.

     After cleaning up the condo, we spent the morning at the beach. I was originally worried that I wouldn't be able to relax because I would constantly be watching the time (I hate that part of my personality...but it just is what it is....I'm getting better, I promise)!

     However, Tim was great in the sense that he was really good about communicating (after five years, he's learned how to 'reign me in,' so to speak). Together, we decided when we wanted to eat lunch, when we wanted to switch to the pool, and when we wanted to get out and air dry (we didn't bring our own beach towels). Then, Tim set his phone alarms accordingly. We were like a well-oiled machine!

Team Young, for the win! :)

     In short, we ate our packed lunches by the pool, swam for a bit and changed clothes in the restroom.   We caught our flight with ample time to grab the pre-flight necessities (i.e. candy & Diet Coke).  Even though it was our last day, I thoroughly enjoyed it.










And now, closing statements....

     I think what made this vacation so successful was the fact that we were determined to have a good time (and it wasn't hard)!

We didn't let anything get to us (read:scorched Alfredo).

     Also, I also made a conscious effort to just live in the moment.

    I tried really hard not to say things like, “I can't believe this is our last night here....” or “....but I don't WANT to go home....” Our last day in St. John, I looked forward to going out to dinner that night....that night...I looked forward to spending some time at the beach before our flight left....and so on.

     We kept telling people this would probably be our last *big* vacation before we have kids, but truthfully, the prices were surprisingly low.  We had such a fabulous time. We are scrimping our pennies, and hoping to go back within a year (Christmas, anyone)?  :)

Trip Details below (because I know  you're all curious).  ;)

Flight:  U.S. Airways, $1,300 (both of us, round trip, no checked bags)

Lodging:  About $850 for 6 nights, this included a cleaning fee.
                 Sapphire Beach Resort ( unit # 344926, vrbo.com)

Car:  Budget Rent-a-Car ($300 for 6 days, not required to re-fill gas tank) (side note:  they gave us a tiny, white Toyota Yaris which was just hilarious, and our inside joke for the entire trip.  A far cry from the large, manly, Dodge Ram Tim is used to driving).

Food Center:  $173 (ouch, but that got us at least 2 meals a day all week plus razors, shaving cream, conditioner and a few other toiletries that didn't make it into our carry-ons)

Restaurants:  prices vary, one example- Fish Tails (Fish & Chips, $18)

Car Barge to St. John:  $50, this was our only "entertainment" expense

     We kept the budget low by packing our own lunches, enjoying the free amenities  the resort offered, and ordering on the cheap at restaurants (i.e. sandwiches, burgers, and wraps, and no alcohol).

     It took us less than a year to save up (I don't remember exactly).  I set up an automatic deposit, and just let it build up month by month.


Thanks so much for reading along.  Feeling humbled and blessed by such a wonderful experience with my husband!

Love and the iguanas don't bite,
H. 

*Also, I feel like a spoiled brat when I say, "Oh, we're going back at Christmas, we saved up so quickly!"

     For the record, if/when we do go back (if it is just the two of us), I doubt we will rent a car (or pay to take it to St. John).  We will also pack a checked bag with most of our groceries and limit our eating out.  It will not be the glamourous pizza-and-fish-sandwich-eating excursion that it was last time...haha.  

     Also, we don't have cable, Tim is selling his iphone, and EVERY clothing item you see me wearing in these photos came from the Gap Distribution Center (like an outlet FOR an outlet!)

...all sacrifices we are willing to make if it means we can do fun things like travel together.

     I just never want to give off the impression that we have more money than we actually do. She says, while petting her rescue dog and typing on a Macbook that a man in the airport called "Vintage."