Polishing Your Prose, Part 8: The Do and Don't of a Comma


This month I'm bringing you another short but very important grammar lesson concerning commas. Depending on whom you ask, commas are either used too much or not enough. I've seen authors take out commas because they claim there are too many, and I've seen authors add commas because they think there aren't enough. 99% of the time they're wrong.

So in this month's Polishing Your Prose post, I'm going to give you one DO and one DON'T of commas. 

The Do: DO Use Direct Address Commas

When I first started work as an editor four years ago, I didn't know about direct address commas. In my very first book, I actually took out all the direct address commas...and then had to add them back in later once I realized my mistake. So learn now and don't be like me.

A direct address comma is used before a direct address, obviously. It's what you use when you're talking to someone or, directly addressing them. 

Here's an example: 
Hello, Alice! Have you bought any more toilet paper lately? There's a sale at Target on Charmin. 

Okay, that was a weird example. It's just the first thing I thought of. I don't know. 
Anyway... did you notice the direct address comma? It's the one right before Alice.

The direct address comma is seen in dialogue, and when you're writing, you need to make sure and add a comma before and after the name if it applies. Here's an example of what that would look like:

When I ask you to do something, Jordan, I expect an answer immediately.
Or, what about in a letter?
Hello, Mom! How are you? 

Learning how to use a direct address comma correctly will help you polish your prose and be a rung above the rest of the lame grammar fools you know.

The Don't: DON'T Create a Comma Splice 

A comma splice is a basic and common mistake that just means you "spliced" together two complete sentences with a comma. This can be easily fixed by simply replacing a comma for a period, yet it's one of the most annoying comma mistakes I come across. 

The rules of a period are taught pretty much before everything else in, I don't know...first grade? Seriously, people. This is not hard.

A period ends a sentence. Easy enough. So I have to wonder why I see things like this: 

I might cry if I don't get more ice cream, please get me another bowl.

Oh no you didn't. 

What we have here are two complete sentences. 
1: I might cry if I don't get more ice cream. 
2: Please get me another bowl.

A comma should NEVER be used to combine two sentences. If you do, you've just committed a grievous error called a comma splice. Then I cry. So, how do you know if you should use a comma or a period? Ask yourself if you are looking at one complete sentence or two. If it's two, use a period to end the sentence and give yourself a pat on the back. (You could also use a semi-colon, but I don't really want to go into that right now.)

And that's it for now! I've given you a very short overview of direct address commas and comma splices. If you have any questions about either, or just about commas in general, leave a comment and I'll be sure to answer it! *And if you have a suggestion/request for a Polishing Your Prose post, let me know! I have 4 more posts to write until the end of the year!

Now go spread the grammar love, everyone! 

2 Ways Zumba Has Changed My Life


**Note: This post could have been alternatively titled: 
2 reasons you should immediately join a zumba class
or, where I show you embarrassing dance photos

#1: Zumba gave me the opportunity to upgrade my lame signature dance move to something legit. (Read: legit = still lame but not as lame)

I am maybe the worst dancer ever. Everyone who's ever seen me dance makes fun of me, and it doesn't even make me feel bad because they are right. I am awful, and I make fun of myself, so that's saying something either about my humility or my true lack of dance skills. Probably both. 

My signature dance move is some kind of horrible Macarena flashback. I'm wish I were kidding. Actually when I told Jordan what I was writing a blog post about, he responded with: “Are you going to talk about your dance move?” Then he started doing it in the middle of the kitchen.

Exhibit A--Macarena:

Notice how I'm basically all by myself, and my friend Alison (the bride) is just staring at me. Awkward. 

But I'm in a tough spot, really. It's seriously either the dance move or I'm standing on the outside of the circle looking confused because my mind has gone blank and I can't think of anything else to do. 

Exhibit B--Confused Face:
I suppose I should label my confused face a possible scared face as well. Or, frozen in time, perhaps? (And we're not going to talk about what else is going on in this picture. Just don't worry about it.)

The last half a year of attending a Zumba class once a week has revolutionized the meaning of the phrase dance party for me. Instead of people looking at me and thinking, "Hey, who's that weirdo making a gangsta face?" it's, "I want to steal those sexy dance moves."

Okay it's not really like that.
I'm still the worst dancer ever. BUT, at least I'm more confident. Because I'm in a zumba class that's a hip-hop hybrid, so I've got moves for all the popular songs. Now I can mix in my signature move with other moves so it's not so obvious. The dance floor is now a blank canvas. 

Granted, my new moves are all for arm and leg toning. But who doesn't need to do a few squats on the dance floor every now and then? 

#2: The Shimmy

Before I started Zumba, I could shimmy just as well as any other white girl. Which means I couldn't shimmy at all. But with all these Zumba songs that are all about the shimmy, I've slowly improved so I'm only like 90% white now.

Word, sista. 

So, to conclude, Zumba isn't scary. It's fun! And if you're worried about being bad and looking stupid, don't. Take heart knowing that there will always be someone with worse coordination than you. Case in point: the lady in my class who can't seem to figure out that everyone else is going to the left while she's going to the right. Just don't be that person, and you're golden. 

Well, don't be left-right lady or the girl who never wears an appropriate bra or uses a hair tie. I mean, seriously, who doesn't use a hair tie to work out? And who wants their ladies bouncing all over the place? 

[Here's the part where I write an anonymous letter to the annoying, too-tan Zumba girl]

Dear long-haired Zumba girl, 
When you don't put your hair up into a ponytail, it bothers me. I can see the band on your wrist, so I know you have a hair tie. Do you just like it getting in your face? And also, why do you think a hot-pink bra is a good choice for Zumba class? 

It isn't.
Love, Me

So to conclude, just know your left and right and use a hair tie, and you will soon have more dance moves and be on your way to an upgraded shimmy. Hallelujah. 

[Book Review] The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson


"In Chicago at the end of the nineteenth century 
amid the smoke of industry and the clatter of trains 
there lived two men, both handsome, both blue-eyed, 
and both unusually adept at their chosen skills."

--The first lines from Erik Larson's author note 

The Devil in the White City is a book that's been on my radar for a long time, but it just never made it to the top of my "must read" list until now. The devil in this story is a serial killer who went by the alias H.H. Holmes. The white city is the World's Fair that was built in Chicago circa 1891. It was called the White City because they painted all the buildings white. Daniel H. Burnham was the director of works. This is a completely true story, and the amount of detail that went into the research and writing of this book is impressive, to say the least.

The main story centers around the actual building of the fair and the lives of the designers and architects who were responsible for bringing to life a city within a city. The process itself of a city bidding to host the fair and then all the years of planning that went into it reminded me a lot of modern-day Olympics. The difference being, obviously, that the fair was meant to introduce new inventions (in the case of the Chicago fair this meant things like shredded wheat, a dishwasher, and lamps, among many others), whereas the Olympics is much more exclusive and solely centered around athletics. Well, that and the fair was open from May-October, something I didn't know before reading this book. 

I began Devil expecting it to be comparable to The Monster of Florence, which I read last year and is about a real-life serial killer in Florence, Italy. (This is only the second book I've read about serial killers; it's not a topic I read about all the time. You can read my review of Monster HERE.) Devil, however, was more about the fair than Holmes, which was completely fine, just not what I expected. This would be my only caution to someone looking for a page-turning psychopathic thriller in Devil. 

Interesting historical facts are abundant throughout the text, and I especially enjoyed it because it's set in Chicago. Early on there was a quote that excited me, because most people seem to not know the real story behind why Chicago is called "the Windy City."

Chicago had a hard time getting the bid to host the fair because no one thought Chicago would be up to the task. Chicagoans held the belief that "success [at the fair] would dispel at last the eastern perception that Chicago was nothing more than a greedy, hog-slaughtering backwater; failure [at the fair] would bring humiliation from which the city would not soon recover, given how heartily its leading men had boasted that Chicago would prevail. It was this big talk, not the persistent southwesterly breeze, that had prompted New York editor Charles Anderson Dana to nickname Chicago 'the Windy City.'" (Larson, 13-4)

I don't want to spoil the best invention of all (in my opinion) that came out of the fair, but let's just say that something was invented that we all know and love, and I was very excited to find out that this thing was invented in Chicago. I also didn't know it was named after the person who invented it, but I suppose I should have known that already. 

The chapters on Holmes are scattered throughout the book and are creepy in their own right. He is described as a man with a noticeable presence--an unknown quality that made people trust him and women fall in love with him. He killed nine people that we know of, though he likely killed many more. He lived in Chicago and seduced women who came to the city to see the fair before murdering them. Larson shows this evil as directly in contrast to the magic of the fair and the hope that such a beautiful display brought millions of people around the world. 

I gave Devil four stars on Goodreads and listed it as a "one-time read." This was definitely a book I would recommend both for its rich history and its climactic mixture of triumph and horror, but it's not a book I would rush to read again. The research is, as I said earlier, magnificent. It is clear Larson left no stone unturned, as evidenced by the many pages of references in the back, and I did thoroughly enjoy learning about a period in history I previously had little knowledge about. 

I do, however, have a few critiques. He (or his editor, I assume) made a few copyediting choices I wasn't a fan of, mainly the lack of commas that in some cases made the sentences hard to read. Another issue is not necessarily Larson's fault but is more just a product of the story itself. There were so many players in both the building of the fair and Holmes's story that at times it was hard to follow one from another. Also, the account of the building of the fair seemed to drag in parts; but in that case I suppose you could say Larson gave a realistic account of what the architects themselves felt about the at-times frustrating process of bringing the White City to life. Despite these minor issues, I read this book in a little over a week. The pages turned quickly, and the story was engrossing. 

To close, I'll leave you with the final lines from Erik Larson's author note, which I also used to open this review: 

"Beneath the gore and smoke and loam, 
this book is about the evanescence of life, 
and why some men choose to fill their brief allotment of time 
engaging the impossible, 
others in the manufacture of sorrow. 
In the end it is a story of the ineluctable conflict 
between good and evil, 
daylight and darkness, 
the White City and the Black."

My Personal FAIL Blog--The Editor Fail Edition


Yesterday at work, I counted the alphabet in my head so I could figure out where Z was. 

Editor FAIL.

Here's to a less confusing Wednesday.

Miscellany Monday


--On Friday I left my keys at work, so Jordan and I spent all weekend trading keys. This morning I came to work and found my keys....in my purse. This may or may not have happened to me before. I don't want to talk about it.

--On Saturday I finished the last page in our wedding scrapbook! It took just over a year to finish; I think I started it last July. (See the whole thing HERE.) 
Here's the final page--a tribute to the parents we came from and the wonderful example of marriage they've set for us.

Here's the last page. Notice anything wrong with this photo? 
Like a dummy, I put the wrong wedding date in my own wedding scrapbook! Who does that?
Don't worry. I fixed it back to year 2011. But seriously. Way to go, me.

--I've absolutely loved watching the Olympics for the last two weeks, but it will be nice to get back to a normal bedtime routine--where I go to bed at 9:00 as opposed to midnight. Falling asleep at work hasn't been winning me any brownie points with my new boss. It's okay, though, because Jordan's so nice to me. When I told him I was excited to get to bed earlier, he replied, "Yeah, and now you can get more beauty sleep." 

What a guy.

Oh, and in spirit of the Olympics, a friend showed me this hilarious speed walking video from the 2010 youth Olympic games. If you think speed walking is funny, you should watch this. You're welcome.

--Last week I checked out the book Devil in the White City from the library. It's nonfiction, set in the 1890s in Chicago, and it's about the building of the World's Fair...and about a serial killer. It's really good, but I can't read it at night because it gets too scary. (I'm not a weirdo reading books about serial killers, okay. There's other stuff in it as well.) Anyway, I found the slip from the person (a Lee Wells) who checked out this book before me. Apparently this person checked out:

The Devil in the White City
Knitted Accessories
Wild about Flowers!

Anyone else think that's an odd pairing?

--THIS website is pretty cool. It tells you when the golden hour is so you can take outdoor pictures during the best light. 

--Last night I watched The Biggest Loser on Netflix while I made a pound of puppy chow. But don't worry. I ran a 5k on Saturday night so it's okay. Right?

Okay I think that's all the randomness I've got. Happy Monday!

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

OKC Bucket List: Pops on Route 66


Last weekend one of my best friends was in town visiting from Illinois with her fiance. I wanted to take them somewhere cool--something that was a local Oklahoma thing, and I immediately thought of Pops. It's a rather famous diner located off historic Route 66, but the really fun part is that they carry almost every kind of soda pop you can think of--more than 600 flavors. 
The food was good, albeit a bit pricy for a diner in the middle of nowhere. But the pop was the main event, and it did not disappoint. Jordan and I got a 6-pack of assorted sodas. Pops has regular flavors, but they also have weird ones. One time Jordan was working on a job in Arcadia and went to Pops on his lunch break. He brought back a bottle of Sweet Corn soda. I might as well have been drinking butter. Gross.
But it was a fun place to go to--definitely the Oklahoma tourist spot I was looking for and a check off my OKC bucket list. We went at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday trying to wait out the lunch crowd, but it was still packed. People drive from all over to go to Pops, so I guess there's no way around waiting a little bit for a table.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I didn't actually get any pictures of Jordan, Justine, Curtis, or myself inside Pops. Photography fail. 

I did get one of Justine and I, just to prove she even came to visit at all.

Pops on Route 66. If you're ever in Oklahoma, you should check it out. 

[Book Review] The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


When I started Gretchen Rubin's bestselling book The Happiness Project, I went into it knowing I would find it inspiring (I mean, just look at the title). But I had no idea just how inspiring it would be. Barely two pages into chapter one, I knew that I had rarely--if ever--read a book more perfectly suited for my current state of mind

For Gretchen Rubin, the idea of a happiness project was born while sitting on a bus. She decided that while she would call herself happy, there was no reason she couldn't try to be happier. This simple concept led her to evaluate her life in order to find ways to make herself happier without changing anything big. She had a job and a husband and children, so she couldn't just take a month-long hiatus; and she, admittedly, didn't like change, so she wasn't about to just stop her normal routine and do something completely out of character. So began a year where she made a new resolution each month--a resolution that attacked an aspect of her life she wasn't completely happy with: energy, marriage, friendships, passions, and so on.  

As I went through her resolutions and read about the things she worked on to make herself happier, I realized this: that I had, unknowingly, already been working on my own happiness project

I've been in a funk recently. Admittedly, I've been less happy and more grouchy and moody and emotional than usual. Last month I had two glorious weeks between jobs. I went into it determined to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment and productivity out of it that I could. I wanted to get back to my old self--a self who was more positive and joyful and just...happy. So I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish during those two weeks. There were 17 in all: activities, crafts, and errands I either needed or wanted to do that I previously had not had time for. I posted the list to my fridge and crossed off events as I completed them. By time I started my new job, I had all 17 crossed off. (Check out my two DIY crafts: necklace hanger and photo frame.)

My self-proclaimed "retirement" summed up one of Gretchen Rubin's discoveries about happiness: 
Being off work was a happy event, but I knew if I wasn't careful, I could easily sit around watching TV for 14 days straight and at the end of it feel out of shape and unaccomplished. Instead, I made a list and used every day efficiently, which I know doesn't initially sound like much fun, but for me it was the difference between insane boredom and being able to truly enjoy my time off work. This hit on a trait I've already realized about myself: I like productivity and efficiency. They make me happy.
At the start of her happiness project, Gretchen made what she called her "ten commandments" of the project. One of them was to "Be Gretchen." Essentially what she meant was that she wanted--needed, rather--to find her passions and embrace them. What she liked wasn't always going to be what someone else liked, and that was okay. 

To some degree I have trouble with this. I want to like everything and be part of everything, but there are just some things I don't like, and part of being happy is recognizing that and not forcing yourself to do things you don't like. To me this means saying no. I don't have to say yes to something if I really don't want to do it. I need to spend my free time doing things I want to do. Of course there are exceptions to this, but it's a good rule to keep in mind. I'd say over the past few years I've been more and more trying to embrace me and not let other people make me feel silly for being myself.
I was telling a friend about this book, and she wondered if it might get boring reading about 12 months of someone else's resolutions. Admittedly, in the last few months (of the book) I wasn't reading as intently or writing down as many quotes. I think that's because some of her resolutions are going to fit one person more than another, and all of my favorites were in the beginning. But I would most certainly read this book again, and I honestly cannot think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading it.

There's a lot more I could say about The Happiness Project. I had a difficult time even writing this review because I couldn't narrow down the list of things I wanted to talk about. 
So without further adieu, I'll leave you with 4 takeaways:

#1--Follow the one-minute rule 
Always complete a task that will take you less than one minute. Put away the Scotch tape, return your shoes to the closet, and place that bowl in the dishwasher. This will keep small tasks from piling up and taking ten times as long later on.

#2--Act how you want to feel
If I'm feeling grouchy, acting grouchy will only exacerbate that. I should do my best to act happy and therefore become happy. Sometimes I get annoyed for no reason, so hopefully acting not annoyed will help get over being annoyed. This doesn't work all the time, obviously, but I'm going to do my best to give it a fair try.

#3--Hug for 6 seconds
One of the things I appreciated and enjoyed about this book was the research Gretchen weaves throughout the text. She read a number of books on happiness and includes interesting facts that are relevant to the particular resolution. I learned that six seconds is the minimum amount of time necessary to promote the flow of oxygen and serotonin—mood-boosting chemicals that promote bonding. So I've decided that when Jordan and I are upset with each other, I'm going to try hugging for at least six seconds. Maybe a few extra seconds will help lift the mood.

In the end, it's more selfless to be happy. We pick up on the moods of people around us, and even though being happy is so, so hard sometimes, choosing not to be happy is selfish because you bring other people down with you. So I'm going to try to be happier. Which brings me to my final application. Easy to say, some might think, but impossible to practice:
#4--Choose happiness
One thing Gretchen talks about is being ready for the storm when it comes. I know that someone might read this or any other post on this blog and think, Well what do you know about being unhappy? You have a great family and a husband and a good job. Why do you need to work on being happy? Well don't be fooled. I have many struggles, personally and professionally and with all of my relationships, including my marriage.
What I appreciate is that in her book, Gretchen asks herself this same question. The reason why we need to work on happiness now, she says, is so when we are faced with times of unhappiness, we will have already been practicing happiness. And so the people we've made happy with our happiness will be ready to lift us up as well. Jordan even said that he feels like my period of being so down and negative has actually helped him learn to be more positive--an unexpected yet encouraging result.

So read this book. There's a lot more good stuff I didn't even mention here. And comment below if you'd like with some things YOU do to make yourself happier.

{also, a quick note about joy vs. happiness: I personally believe there is a difference between joy and happiness. True joy comes from a relationship with Jesus. Happiness, however, is a choice. I believe even when I'm unhappy, I should still remain joyful. That is, to me, one of the biggest blessings of my faith.}

Streaking, Zombies, and NASCAR


Question: what do streaking, zombies, and NASCAR have in common? 
Answer: each of these are, in respective order, some part of a race I've signed up for in the coming months.

I haven't posted about running in a while, maybe not even since I wrote about my third half marathonYou know, the one where I swore off running forever. Instead of quitting, I did the exact opposite and signed up for two 5ks and my fourth half marathon. Because despite what I like to say when I'm being dramatic, I really do like running.

Here's what I've got lined up this year: 
Race #1: 
August 11--5k Midnight Streak
[go here for more info]

This race is actually neither at midnight or a literal streak. It's at 11:00 pm, and it's a streak because of how fast I'll be running...faster than a cheetah. And my brother is going to run it with me! I know a 5k isn't anything to write home about, but I wanted to see how it was to run at night in OKC. I'm considering borrowing Jordan's headlamp to wear. 
Good idea?

Race #2: 
October 6--The Dirty 30, Zombie Edition
[go here for more info]

This race is going to be epic. EPIC I tell you. These are the T-shirts, if that's any indication:
It's basically a three-mile obstacle course. Ropes and mud and whathaveyou.
Oh, and there will be zombies chasing us. You can sign up to be a runner or a zombie. If you're the latter, you get dressed up with face paint. The runners are wearing belts with flags on them, and the zombies try to steal the flags. I signed up to run, and hopefully I'll escape the zombies!

Did I mention this is going to be epic? And Jordan's doing it with me! You can't understand how excited I am about this until you understand how many times I've failed at getting Jordan to sign up for things with me. 

Race #3:
October 27--"No Limits" Half Marathon in Fort Worth, TX
[go here for more info]

This race is going to be pretty cool. It'll be my fourth half marathon, which is awesome, and it's held on the Texas motor speedway. I don't watch NASCAR, I still think it will be fun to run on the track and cross the finish line at the checkered flag. At this point I'm not planning on trying to get a certain time like I did for my third half. I want to enjoy it and have fun and not worry about time. Plus, the race is only a 5k or a half marathon, so I'll be doing the longest length and feel extra awesome. 

So that's what's going on in my world of running.
If you're interested, read about my other half marathons:
--Wichita (October 2010)
--Kansas City (October 2011)
--Oklahoma City (April 2012)

Where I Pretend I Take Good Pictures


Over the past few months I've gotten the opportunity to practice my photography on some live subjects. I am by no means professional. Not even close. But it's something I enjoy doing and learning about. Maybe someday I'll find a way to combine my love of editing and photography into an awesome job where I get paid a million dollars to eat ice cream and watch Netflix. I don't know. Just a thought. 

First there was my dad, who wanted some pictures for his blog. 
Then I took family pictures for a friend from church. They just found out they are expecting their third baby and also requested some pics to use as announcements. (Don't worry, the cat's out of the bag, so I'm not ruining anything.)
Finally, my best friend and her fiance were visiting this weekend, and we had a short photo shoot before the Oklahoma heat got us and we had to run back inside to the blessed air conditioning. 
I'm still trying to figure out photoshop. I personally love black and white pictures, but I'm trying to learn how to get good colors, composition, and all that. 

What do you think? Like b&w? Like bolder colors? Softer? I'm learning that there's not really a wrong answer. I'm also learning that it's harder than it looks. 

You Know He's an Okie When...


I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, a train ride away from scrumptious deep-dish pizza and the Magnificent Mile.

Over the past four years it's become a normal sight, but in the Chicago suburbs, cowboy hats and boots stood out in a crowd. I have actually pointed at someone in the parking lot of a Target and said, “Hey look! That guy has a cowboy hat on.” (Quietly to myself, obviously. I'm not rude.) People were, for the most part, either clean shaven or sporting normal face scruff. No one used southern slang or had an accent (unless you actually were from somewhere else), and a burrito from Chipotle was the closest thing to Mexican food.
Then I moved to Oklahoma, and everything changed. 
When I say that, people smile and nod, but I don't think they believe me. And it's true: on the surface, it's not like Illinois is that different. I mean, if you've ever driven through Illinois, you've no doubt seen the cornfields and the tractors and the tiny towns set back seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Insert wheat for corn, and Illinois and Oklahoma aren't all that different, right? My friends probably thought, It's not like you moved from LA. Calm down.

I admit that in general I'm slightly more dramatic about my move south than some people would be. Most likely the biggest factor to making sure I noticed the obvious differences between where I'm from and where I now live was marrying an Okie. A born-and-raised-in-small-town-Oklahoma boy who loves all things Oklahoma and, let's be honest, probably would have fought Confederate back in the day. (Granted, he is insanely patriotic, so don't be thinking he has it out for the Union. When we watch the Olympics, he'll randomly jump up and fist pump the air while shouting, “America is awesome!”) He owns guns, likes fishing, and can list every famous person who was ever born in Oklahoma. (Including his great-uncle, the actor James Garner. I like to throw that out there every once in a while because it makes me feel cooler.)

Anyway, with all that said, here are a few things I've observed about Jordan over the past few years. Things that show he's a real Okie. Basically, things I would never say about a Chicago boy. Of course, I realize these won't apply to everyone, maybe not even most people, but they're funny nonetheless. Believe me: if I had a nickle for every time Young Me thought, Maybe I'll live in Oklahoma some day, I would have as many nickels as I have Olympic gold medals.

You Know He's an Okie When...

1: His idea of normal facial hair consists of mutton chops and/or a style akin to something you'd see in the Civil War era. 
Last summer was the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and in honor, he and a few friends grew “Civil War beards.” Since then, every so often he has the urge to shave something strange. A few months ago his mutton chops were out of control. It wasn't my favorite look (read: I hated it), but I decided I wasn't going to be that girl. I can do what I want with my mustache, and so should he. Amen.

2: I have to explain why wearing cowboy boots and jeans to a Catholic Illinois wedding is inappropriate. 
 I'm all for wearing a pair of nice jeans and boots to a wedding...in Texas. That's what people do, and it's not weird. But like I said, boots stick out, and when we were packing for our trip to Chicago for my friend's wedding, Jordan acted like I was trying to pretend we were something we weren't when really I was just trying to act like something we were—aka, people who wore wedding-appropriate attire to a wedding.

3: When I leave for a week of vacation, his one request is that I cook a Crock-Pot full of beans and fry up a pound of bacon for him to eat every night for dinner. 
This is real life, people. Last month I flew to Saint Louis for a friend's wedding and was gone from Wednesday morning to Monday afternoon. Jordan has proven to be completely untrustworthy when it comes to sticking to an acceptable diet while I'm away. Either he snacks all day and feels sick, or he gets too lazy to cook anything and ends up finally getting around to cooking up a packet of ramen noodles at 11:00 at night. After Easter, his mom had given us the leftover ham bone, which we'd tossed in the freezer. So I fried up some bacon and cooked up 4 cups of pinto beans in a Crock-Pot (with the ham bone), and he ate it for over a week. Beans and bacon. I didn't even leave vegetables. I am an enabler.

4: Even after a year of marriage, I sometimes still ask him to clarify his southern slang.  
He's got a gosh darn cute southern accent, and it cracks me up sometimes. (And cute dimples, but that's not the point.) We were talking about his mom once, and he said, “Yeah, she was up there cluckin'.” Umm, what? Yes, “cluckin'.” It means talking with a bunch of women—like hens, apparently. I don't know. Other phrases: “Are you fixin' to go?” “I'm plumb wore out.” Ah yes, and the favorite “y'all.” He also has a funny way of saying his days of the week. It sounds like he's saying “Tuesdee” instead of “Tuesday.” And that, I've discovered, is something a lot of people do down here. 
On the flip side to that is my so-called Chicago accent. I've been told that I pronounce words like mom, pasta, Wisconsin, and Chicago with an exaggerated a. But there's no slang involved, I guess unless you count saying “you guys” instead of “y'all.” 
Another Oklahoma thing I've picked up on is the use of the word whenever. Grammatically speaking, you should only use whenever when it's a common occurrence. Use when if you're referring to a specific instance. 
Example: Whenever we go to my parents' house, my mom cooks really good food.
Meaning we go there a lot, and I'm not thinking of just one time.
Example: When we go to my parents' house on Friday, be sure to bring games.
One specific time. 
Only people use whenever in place of when all the time. Actually, they pretty much don't use when at all. I know it's a regional thing, and I know it's the typical editor in me to get all up in arms about one word; but it's incorrect, and it annoys me. 
5: His mom made him a birthday dinner consisting of fried pork chops, fried okra, sauteed squash, and rice.  
Unless I'm just forgetting, I don't remember my mom frying anything when we lived in Illinois. She cooked in skillets and pan-fried pork chops and whatever else, but using cooking oil and breading to actually fry something was not on our radar. And okra, no less. I don't think I ate okra until I moved to Oklahoma. I didn't even know what it was. It still amazes me to see how much fried crap there is down here. Sometimes I just want a delicious hot dog! And don't get me started on the pizza. Let's just say Domino's has become my friend.
* * * *
Now whenever I drive, it's not unusual to pass horses and cows grazing in a field. Mexican restaurants and fried chicken fast-food are never far away. I cook beans and cornbread for dinner and have made my peace with ridiculous facial hair, and I don't even think twice when I see a cowboy hat. These days I'm the one with the accent.

A friend of mine recently wrote a blog post about living a great adventure. She asked about our “what if” dreams. I realized one of mine could have easily been, “What if I lived in Oklahoma?” Well here I am, and at the risk of being terribly cheesy, I think I'm living a pretty great "what if?" adventure.

Chops and all. 

The Triple Baby Book Shower!


First things first, because I don't want any confusion: this was not a baby shower for someone carrying triplets.

It was a shower for three separate but equally lovely friends of mine! I helped co-host the shower along with two other friends on Saturday. We called it a book shower because we asked everyone to bring a few of their favorite baby books to give the new moms. We're editors, so it just made sense. Plus, we obviously hope the kids grow up to love reading.
Unfortunately, the third mom was on bed rest this week and wasn't able to come to the shower. Boo. If you haven't heard, it's dang hot in Oklahoma, so our friend had to stay inside and out of the heat. We made sure to bring the loot to her house after the party ended! 

We made baskets for each mom to take their books home with them.

Shower attendees could write a message and glue it inside the book. 

For party favors and prizes, my talented friend Laura made "book" birdhouses and filled with candy. 

The guests of honor enjoyed going through their books.

Then we ate some food...
And played some games...

Game #1: Guess how many ribbons are in the jar.
The 3 people closest to the correct number (which was 22) got to play in the next game for a prize...

Game #2: Who can suck 2 Tb of milk out of a baby bottle the fastest.
This game was pretty funny to watch. Apparently it is much harder than it sounds.
After a couple of minutes, Kalyn won.

Game #3: Guess the baby food without smelling or tasting.
I kept the tops closed cuz I'm tricky like that.

Game #4: Race to pair the baby socks

Then we ate cake. It was a book cake. 
Harry Potter fans should recognize The Monster Book of Monsters. 
It definitely looks a bit scary, to be honest; but again, we're all editors and it was a book party, so it just makes sense. Plus, Kalyn is a baking genius. 

So that's what a triple baby book shower looks like. It's books and babies. Tripled.