Polishing Your Prose, Part 10: Repetition and Saying the Same Thing Again


Back in January, I published my first post in my yearlong "polishing your prose" series. It was about removing the "flab"; or, the unnecessary words and phrases that add bad fluff to your writing. For this month's segment (which is, again, sliding in just under the buzzer), I'm going to touch on repetition just briefly because I think it's an issue of concern in many of the books that are being published these days and goes hand in hand with the flab conversation. 

When I was editing books on a daily basis, I saw a lot of repetition with individual words and phrases and also with concepts of basic storytelling, plot points, and ideas. I would highlight the repetition for the author and suggest they remove it, since they'd already said it earlier in the book and, in case they hadn't noticed, I wasn't an idiot. 

The response I received usually looked something like this: 
The repetition was intentional for effect. 

This annoyed me to no end, because although they obviously thought their repetition was for effect, it was more often than not having the exact opposite effect on me. Namely, boredom. What I learned while editing was that it's actually not hard to write a long book. Just repeat yourself over and over and over again, and all of the sudden you're at 200+ pages and pretty proud of yourself. 

If you're willing to let an editor who knows anything take a look at it, they will cut your page count nearly in half, and there begins the real work of writing: choosing words, phrases, plot points, and characters well enough that you aren't repeating yourself unnecessarily. It gets harder to add pages when you're looking closely at repetition and flab. (On a personal note, this is often where I get trapped and a large part of the reason why I've never written a story longer than 25 pages.)

Repetition can be as obvious as using the same adjective to describe a noun (ie. saying "the black car" every single time) or as subtle as repeating the same tone or moral from character to character or even book to book (ie. creating each character in your book with the same flaw or constantly putting them in the same situations). 

There are exceptions to all of this, of course, because sometimes repetition is necessary. For example, say you have a character who's playing poker, and the main character realizes that every time that particular character winks his left eye, he's bluffing. Having a character wink his left eye a time or two during a poker game is necessary to prove a point. Just make sure you aren't copy/pasting the exact same lines or using the same words to describe the scene. There's a difference between necessary character development and unnecessary repetition.  

You have to create new characters and scenes and responses for readers to feel engaged. If every single scene has the same conversation, it gets boring fast. And if every single car is black and every single character's teeth are white, no one and nothing will stand out. 

Sometimes repetition is easy to spot, and sometimes it's more difficult. The first thing to do is put your writing away for a day or two--even a week or two--and when you come back to it, you will be more able to notice repetition both large and small. The next thing you need to do is give it to someone else to read. You would be amazed how much good a fresh eye can have on your work. 

I hope that's helped you understand the basics of repetition. I know that was a short overview, so let me know if there's anything I need to clarify. And if you're interested, check out my post on removing the flab for a more in-depth essay on trimming out unnecessary words and phrases (like really and other such adverbs). 


(Also, is it bad that I'm glad there are only 2 of these writing posts left? I feel like I'm losing steam...
Maybe it's because I changed jobs and no longer edit every day. Now I write every day, and I never feel like writing about writing. Sometimes I don't feel like writing at all. But that's a post for another day.)

Why I Run and a Recap of Half Marathon #4


Two years ago this month I ran my first half marathon in Wichita, Kansas. 

Running a half marathon was something I'd always heard about other people doing, and it was something I always wished I could do. Those people with the 13.1 stickers were legit and awesome, I thought. But I knew that would never be me. 

Until, with the help of a friend, I decided it could be me, and I ran my first half marathon in 2 hours, 8 minutes, and 20 seconds. 
And then I did it again in Kansas City. 
And again in Oklahoma City.
And then, just last weekend, I ran in my fourth half marathon in Dallas, Texas. 

I ran around the Texas Motor Speedway with about two thousands other runners--around the grounds and then the last 1.5 miles around the track. 
It was approximately 38 degrees outside, and Jordan was my sole spectator (due to my parents being on vacation in Cancun and my siblings having various weekend activities). Note: since most of the race was outside the speedway and Jordan had no way of getting there to watch me, he went back to the car and slept for an hour. But you didn't hear that from me.

I've run a lot over the past two years. In 2011 I logged over 150 miles, and I've already passed the 200-mile mark for 2012. Not much compared to the "serious" runners but a lot from where I was three years ago. I enjoy running for the most part, but without fail--on each and every run I've ever done--there comes a point during which my lungs are burning and my knees are hurting, and I have this vivid thought:

I'm never running again.

This thought is immediately followed up with:
I spent miles 9-13.1 of half marathon #3 telling myself I would never run again. It was terribly, horribly awful, and I decided I wasn't going to pay money to put myself through this type of torture ever again. Only idiots and Biggest Loser contestants did that. I spent miles 11-13.1 thinking the same thing during this latest race (see above photo). Yet, sure enough, a day later I was online looking for the next race to sign up for. Why?

I've asked myself this question many times. One thing running is NOT is easy. For one thing, I've had my share of close calls with the bathroom. I've also made myself nauseous a time or two from a hard run or a training workout (aka Jillian Michaels DVD), and I have gotten up way too early on more than a few Saturday mornings.

Still, I keep running, because when I finish a race, I forget all about the early mornings and the sweating (and showering, which, if you don't know, I hate) and the sore knees. I forget about everything except for the fact that I am so freaking proud of myself for doing something I never thought I would be able to do. 
It's the best feeling ever, and maybe that's the endorphins talking, but I'll take it. 
As far as time goes, I've talked about running pace before. I'm not slow, but neither am I fast. My goal for this half marathon was one of the following: 

1: My ultimate goal--a sub two-hour half marathon (9:10 min/mile pace)
2: My minimum goal--10 minute/mile pace, which would equal a 2:10 overall time
3: My serious goal--get a PR (personal record) by beating my best time of 2:07:19

I felt good pretty much the whole time. I didn't stop once, even for water; I just grabbed a cup, tossed it back, and kept going. Like a dummy, I forgot to charge my Garmin watch, so I had absolutely no idea how long it had been, how many miles I'd run, or the pace at which I was running. But I kept at it, and when I finally crossed the finish line, I nearly threw up. Seriously, I was so close to embarrassing myself. 

After I caught my breath and decided I wasn't going to barf, we went to check out my time. When I saw it, I got tears in my eyes. 2:03:34.  All the training and hard work had paid off, and I improved my time by nearly 4 minutes! 

Now I feel like my 2-hour goal isn't so far out of reach. I haven't signed up for another race yet, but I am pretty sure I will be registering for a full marathon in 2013. Here's to nausea and sore knees. 


I'm weird. I like going to the dentist.


Jordan and I both went to the dentist on Wednesday. Aren't we cute having appointments on the same day or what?

When Jordan and I got married, one thing he made sure I knew (a deal breaker, if you will) was that we HAD to go to his dentist. His family has been going to see Dr. Vincent since Jordan was 10 years old. Dr. Vincent and the rest of his dental crew were (so I hear) very excited when his mom told them about this girl he was dating (ie. me).

By the time I went in (my first appointment in over three years...don't judge), Jordan and I had been married just under a year, and the receptionist, the dentist, the dental hygienist, and everyone else in the place poked their heads out of wherever they were to get a glance at me. It's the most popular I've ever been in my life. 

Then, what should have been a regular 45-minute visit turned into a TWO-HOUR ordeal where Stacy, the dental hygienist, asked me a ton of questions about myself and then went on to talk about what it was like to have 10-year-old Jordan grow up right before her eyes. Then the dentist came in and talked to me about my hobbies and my family and other random stuff I don't remember. 

Again, it was the most popular I've ever been.

I left that day feeling confused about how I felt. 
On the one hand, that was a really long appointment. Crazy long. At one point I even looked at the clock and thought, Do you people not have any other patients to see? Are there no more teeth to clean? 

On the other hand, that's what the south is all about--people chatting you up everywhere. (And yes, I consider Oklahoma south. When you're from Chicago, everything is south.) I learned that when I moved here: people talk slow and chat you up left and right. Case in point: I stopped at Panera for a muffin the other day and got an earful from the cashier about how she had found a turtle in her yard that morning; she continued to hold my muffin hostage while going on about how she put the turtle in a box and fed it mandarin oranges, because apparently turtles like mandarin oranges.

But I digress. 

Two days ago was my second appointment at Dr. Vincent's office, and it was yet again another longish affair. Among other things I don't remember, the dental hygienist and I talked about: having children, my job, Jordan's sisters, her daughter, and beer. The dentist and I talked about running and skydiving. 

Yet despite all that, and despite how crazy this probably sounds to most of you, I actually do like going to the dentist. I don't mind the poking and prodding, and I like getting my teeth cleaned. 

But what I like the most about the dentist is getting a clean bill of teeth health. I've never had braces, and while my teeth aren't as perfectly straight as my brother's are (or my sister's will be in another year or so), I'm pretty proud of my teeth, strange as that may sound. 

There's not one cavity or filling in this mouth, people. And among all the other things, I really like talking to the dentist about that. 

Like I said, I'm weird. 

dear jennifer garner,


dear gas,
you are crazy cheap right now. i don't understand it, but i love it.
p.s. dear 1960, i bet you never thought $2.96 a gallon would be cheap gas, did you?

dear inflation, 
you suck.

dear apple,
an ipad mini? really? just so you know, i'm over you and your constant improvements to perfectly good gadgets. you're taking the niki slogan to a new level. sometimes you don't have to do it. sometimes you can just say no. 

dear mom and dad,
hope you're having fun in cancun! don't get kidnapped by foreign smugglers, pleaseandthankyou.

dear husband, 
good job making dinner last night. you totally rocked that boxed mac 'n' cheese.

dear alias, 
thanks to netflix instant play, i've rediscovered my love for you. i hate you for your cliffhangers on every episode, and i hate you for [SPOILER ALERT] killing off francie. but i can't.stop.watching.you.
p.s. dear jennifer garner, where did you get your abs?
p.p.s. dear netflix instant play, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me. you've ruined my life. i hope you're happy.

dear half marathon,
tomorrow we meet again. this time in texas. you will be my fourth half marathon in my fourth state. please consider making miles 9-13 flat, preferably downhill, if possible.

- - - - - - 
linking up with ashley for some letters on this lovely friday!

- - - - - - - - - -

p.p.p.p.s. dear everyone, i'm 92.6% sure i forgot to brush my teeth this morning.
sad face. 

2012 Reading Goal Book Giveaway! ***CLOSED***


For those of you who were keeping track (which I'm pretty sure is no one but me), a few weeks ago I completed my 2012 reading goal! I read 30 books this year---that's over TWICE as many as I read in 2011 (14).

This impressive number is due in large part to my fast and furious reading of the entire Harry Potter series back in February/March, where I knocked out all 7 books in one month. Of course, I didn't eat or sleep or shower that entire month either, but sometimes these types of sacrifices need to be made for literature. Amen.

Next year I've already decided I'm not going to have a reading goal. Having one was a bit stressful. Still, I'm proud of myself for completing my goal. To celebrate my accomplishment, I am giving away a book from my reading list! 

All you have to do is leave a comment with the book from my list that you want to win!

Here's the list: 
A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin (Book #2 in The Song of Ice and Fire series)
Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
11/22/63 by Stephen King

Home by Marilynne Robinson
Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich (Jordan and I read this over a 7-month span--one chapter per week.)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print by Renni Browne & Dave King
Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
Murder in Manolos by Lindsey Mastin
A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Helen Keller: Rebellious Spirit by Laurie Lawlor
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I was going to pick a favorite book from the list, but I just can't. I think I got lucky: most of the books I read this year were really good. You can go here and check out some of my book reviews if you're so inclined.

Giveaway will be open until October 31.
Winner will be chosen via Random.org and notified in this post and via email on November 1. I will then mail you the book of your choice. Yay! 

A Country Wedding in West Texas


This weekend, the seven of us drove west to Amarillo for my cousin's wedding. For those of you who are new here, "the seven of us" = me, my husband (Jordan), my parents, my two brothers, and my sister.

We had a really fun time dancing and eating brisket and cake. Beyond that, honestly there isn't much to do in west Texas. It pretty much looks like this everywhere: 
As it always is when the Reese clan is together, it was a whole lot of crazy. Here are a few notable moments:

1. On the drive there we passed the largest cross in the United States...or so an old man told us at the rest stop we stopped at. The jury is still out about whether or not I believe him.
2. Also on the way there, my dad got a speeding ticket. The cop was going the other direction on the highway and turned around to come chase us. It was a tense couple of minutes where my dad unsuccessfully tried to talk him into just giving us a warning. No luck. Texas State Troopers are serious.

3. Apparently on Saturday night after the wedding, my uncle and a few cousins found themselves in the middle of an almost brawl on the hotel patio. Some lady slapped my uncle or punched him or something. I didn't get to hear the whole story. But they said the cops came. 

My dad was really sad he missed it. He spent all day Sunday telling us what he would have done had he been there. Something about how he wishes he were a ninja. I don't know.

4. My brother saw my sister using her eyelash curler and wanted to try it out. He almost lost an eye. Newsflash: it's really not a good idea to attempt to try out an eyelash curler if you: A) don't know what you're doing and B) are in a moving vehicle. 
Other than those minor hitches, everything went off just fine. It was a lovely outdoor wedding in west Texas...with some glamour shots added in. (See top right. I'm calling this Blue Steel Meets Crazy Eye.) 

My Style: A Splash of Purple


Last week I made a visit to the outlet mall and snagged these--wait for it--PURPLE skinny jeans for 70% off! You don't have to say anything. I know you're impressed. 

I've been wanting to find some colored jeans for a while, and these dark purple jeans were perfect. I sure do love the outlet mall. Although the fact that it's 5 minutes away from my house probably isn't good. 

Jordan wasn't sure what he thought of them at first. (Actually, he called me a "hipster." What the heck, man?)
I just told him he's a guy and doesn't get fashion. Colored jeans are in right now, you know.
{necklace found here.}

P.S. Taking pictures of yourself is awkward. Most of the time I'm fighting the urge to do this: 

Have you added color to your wardrobe lately?

Dear Wedding Ring,


 {i know i just posted this picture yesterday, but i just love my little oklahoma tree! did you  know this is the only tree in oklahoma to change colors? 
okay, maybe not the only one, but one of the few.}

Dear Bananas, why must you ripen so fast? I just bought you and now you're brown. What the heck?

Dear Oklahoma City Drivers, you get one skyscraper, and all of the sudden you think you're in Dallas. Not cool. Leave the crazies to Texas and Missouri. We be normal up in here. 

Dear Wedding Ring, I left you at home today on accident. Oops! I guess that means I can let all the boys flock to me when I go out for lunch at Subway today. Didn't they do a study on the Subway smell and how it makes you appear more attractive? I thought I read that somewhere. I guess we'll see.

Dear Readers, that was a joke. I don't pick up guys at Subway. Only at Whataburger.

Dear New 55-inch TV, so far you have surpassed my expectations. Your remote is a slide-up keyboard and you came with 3-D glasses. Of course, we can't use them because we can't get far enough away in our apartment, but still.

Dear Husband, your beard is at optimal scruffy cuteness. Please don't change anything. Oh, and sorry your Yankees self-destructed. Don't worry. They'll be back next year.

Dear Fantasy Football Team, so far you have redeemed yourself from the last fantasy football disaster. Let's win this thing. Reese bragging rights are worth more than gold, you know.  

Dear Readers, I have TWO giveaways in the works. Get excited. 

P.S. Dear Infinity Scarf and Favorite Necklace, I am wearing you again today. You are cute.  


Currently: feeling, drinking, looking for, dreaming of, making


this week i am currently...
feeling pretty honored that the ONLY tree in Oklahoma to change colors is right outside my apartment! seriously, isn't this gorgeous? you michiganites can have your forest of beautiful leaves. i'll take my tiny charlie brown tree. (but seriously, fall in oklahoma is stupid. have i mentioned that yet? high of 70 degrees today, people.)

drinking chocolate milk. they (whoever they is) say chocolate milk is good for you to drink after a run. something about your bones maybe? i don't really know, but i've got two half gallons of chocolate milk in my fridge that i've been drinking from straight out of the container. sometimes being an adult is awesome. 

looking for things to take pictures of with my brand-new camera lens! i've been saving up for this beauty since february. it's so much heavier and larger than my 50mm lens. i pretty much look legit now.

i took this picture last night just as the sun was going down. i keep forgetting my new lens has a zoom.

dreaming of showers. like, i actually had a dream about taking a shower last night. i think i might have taken a few showers in my dream. dreaming about teeth means you're stressed out. anyone know what dreaming of showers means? hopefully not something weird.

making meals in my crock-pot. even though it's still 70 degrees in oklahoma these days, you just can't go wrong with dinner in the crock-pot. you get home, and dinner is done! genius.

5 Ways to Make Running Feel Easier


Earlier this week, while browsing the internet during work hours doing job-related research, I ran across this article on running. Interestingly enough, I already had about 12 drafts of running posts half-finished, and this article hit on a little bit of everything. 

So obviously there was only one thing to do: I stole the title of the article for my own post.
But I'm not really stealing, okay? I just want to touch on the 5 points the article makes and offer my own input on the subject. I'd love to hear yours too if you have anything to add!

1. Pencil It In

The article says: "Instead of fitting in random runs whenever you can or when the weather is nice, it's imperative to stick with a weekly running schedule that includes running at least three or four times a week."

I say: 
Scheduling my runs has proven to be a lifesaver, that's true. However, to be fair, I wouldn't say scheduling my runs makes them feel any easier. It's still dang hard. The only difference is that I have a specific goal in mind to hit and I know what I need to do, so I actually go do it.

Case in point: at the end of August, I realized I needed to get moving or I wasn't going to be ready for my half marathon on October 27. Running 3 miles is nice, but I knew my knees would hate me if that's all I did before the half. So that night, I wrote a running schedule for myself that would take me through September and October. I penciled in runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, gradually increasing in mileage when necessary. 

Having a set mileage for the day and week has kept me motivated. I've learned that when I leave it up to myself, I get lazy and either don't go running at all, or I do a few miles and call it good. Let's be honest: who really wants to go out and run 10 miles on a Saturday morning? Not many people do. Certainly not me. But if the calendar says I should, I get up and I do it. My reward? A very satisfying checkmark next to that 10 on the calendar and a trip to the ice cream shop. (I know I'm weird that a check mark excites me. Don't judge.)

Also, don't feel like you have to run 3-4 times a week. If you're actually training for a run, then yes you should. But if you're just getting into it, going a couple of times a week is great. Just don't think that if you don't have time to run 4 times a week you shouldn't run at all. 
2.  Slow Down

The article says: Slowing down will allow you to focus on correct running form, which can alleviate common running aches, and you'll also be able to take in the scenery or have the energy to chat with your workout buddy, all of which can actually make you love going out for a run.

I say:

Trying to run too fast will only injure your body and leave you feeling depressed. I touched on this more in this post, but basically, everyone has their own running pace. Trying to do too much too soon isn't good, and sometimes my best runs are those where I just go out and do a few miles at a slow jog, not even worrying about pace. 

That being said, I am super competitive and love trying to beat my old times while on a run, so don't rule that out. But if you're just starting out, don't feel pressure to run fast. Even stop and walk when you need to. The important thing is that you're outside being active. 

 3. Make It Fun
The article says: Find ways to make it fun either by bringing your dog or best friend along, exploring running in new places, listening to your favorite tunes or a book on tape, or splurging on new gear.

I say:
I know some people like to run without music because it gives them time to think or enjoy nature or whatever, but I personally always run with music. I have running playlist on my ipod, and each song has a nice running beat so I can stay on pace. (I wrote a post about 10 favorite running songs here.) 

I've also found that running with someone is really the best way to make the run fun. I've had a few different running partners over the past few years, and it's a great way to make a new friend while you push each other to run faster and harder than you would if you were on your own. 

However, I should note yet again that having a friend doesn't necessarily make it fun. More enjoyable, yes. But fun? Maybe not. 
[My dad and I after our half marathon in April of this year.]

You know what was REALLY fun? The obstacle course 5k my brother and I did a few weeks ago. If you're looking for fun, sign up for one of these bad boys. (Here are a few to check out: Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Dirty 30).
4. Hills & Squats

The article says: Running uphill will feel incredibly challenging, but as soon as you get to the top and start running on a flat surface, you'll be amazed at how much easier running feels.

I say:  Running hills is very hard, so that part isn't fun. Brings me back to college soccer practice where we had to sprint up hills. Not fun at all. But the article does have a good point. When I run on the treadmill at the gym, I always run at a "grade" (or incline) of at least 1.0, usually 2.0 or 2.5. That way, I'm training on a hill, and when I do run on a flat surface like a track or just a flat stretch of land, it seems much easier. 

Another great way to mix up your runs is to speed-walk up hills or set your treadmill at a steep incline like 5.0. You'll tone your calves while getting in some great cardio.

5. Don't Just Run

The article says: Mix up your cardio routine with biking, hiking, dancing, or swimming.

I say: Find some classes at the gym to go to on your days off from running. I have been regularly attending a zumba class, and it's so much fun. I hold 2 or 3 pounds weights during class, so I'm toning my arms while working on cardio and shakin' it to Usher.

Running itself doesn't actually burn that many calories, so if you're looking to lose weight or tone other parts of your body, alternating running with weights or other types of cardio (like the article said: biking, hiking, dancing, or swimming) is the answer.
No matter what, though, the long and short of it is running is hard. But it's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. I used to think running more than 3 miles was impossible. Now I believe anyone can do it if you just put in the effort. Last year I read the book Born to Run. If you ever want to read a really inspiring book on writing, that's the one.

Do you have any other running tips or tricks? Do you love or hate running? Tell me about it in the comments!

My Style: A Cute Fall Outfit for Date Night


I never do style posts. 
I'm just not the take-a-picture-of-myself-and-post-it-on-the-internet type....not that there's anything wrong with that.

You don't see style posts on this blog mostly because I don't think I ever look cute enough to justify it. Well, that and I just don't think about it. My insecurity with my wardrobe started 26 years ago when I was born. It continued through high school, where I wore sweatpants and sweatshirts a lot. Back then I was a huge dork, so I didn't really care what I looked like because I didn't talk to boys. 

Then I went to college and started talking to boys, so I tried to step up my game. But to be honest, I still don't feel like I have a handle on my style, and I pretty much think everyone else is a cuter dresser than I am. I scorned skinny jeans for a long time until I finally succumbed earlier this year and bought a pair I found on super sale. Then came the brown boots, which I just bought a few weeks ago. Apparently skinny jeans and boots are a thing now. I hate spending money on shoes, but I can already tell I'm going to get a lot of use out of these.

And behold: I actually put together a cute fall outfit for date night! High school me would be so proud.
P.S. My mom got me this necklace for Christmas last year from Noonday. (I originally saw it on this blog.) Buying from this site directly impacts impoverished women around the world. I love the necklace because it goes with almost everything. You can find it and other unique pieces here.

P.P.S. Here's what I did to my hair. After 800 tries, I finally figured out how to work a tiny side French braid. 

Dear Friday


Dear Friday, 
Thank you for arriving on time, as discussed. Please come again next week. Same time. And if you'd like to come earlier, I would be okay with that too. 

Dear Lady in the Nike Sweatsuit Who Finished the Zombie Run Completely Clean, 
You straightened your hair and put on makeup to run a 5k obstacle course where the first and last obstacles involved mud. Newsflash: trotting up to the finish line without a spot of dirt does not make you ultra chic. It makes you silly. The point was to get dirty. I feel sad for you. You did not have nearly as much fun as I did.

Dear Scarves,
Welcome back into my life. I have missed the kiss of your cotton lips upon my neck.

Dear Readers,
I apologize for the above letter to scarves. That was weird. 
But seriously, I love scarves. 

Dear Husband,
I am excited to go on our date tomorrow night. I like when you dress up and pay for my dinner using money from our combined bank account. On that note, we really need to start going on more dates. Let's make that a goal for 2013, mkay?

Dear brand-new 55-inch TV,
You cost a lot of money. Did you know we bought you instead of a new couch? Don't make me regret that decision. I expect you to last at least 42 and a half years. 

...now if you will excuse me, I have to go back to watching the clock and waiting for the weekend. Is it 5:00 yet?
 Linking up with Ashley for some Friday letters.

To All the Single Ladies: 4 Marriage Truths


When I got married, I understood that I was forever giving up my right to discuss the single life with my girlfriends. Telling someone who desperately wants to find "the one" that they just have to wait it out and that they will find someone eventually and that God has a plan for their life doesn't mean squat coming from someone who already found their special someone and doesn't have to wait it out anymore.

When you're single and talking to another single friend, you can say things like: "Just stop looking for your husband. That's when you'll find him." Or, "Don't settle for anything less than the best." These are, of course, the encouraging things people always say to one another, but when it comes from someone in the same single situation, it's a lot more encouraging because you both are in that spot together. 

I knew that once I got married, those words would sound silly and lame, even patronizing, coming from a married person. So I've tried my best not to be that person and simply accept that I am no longer a reputable source on the topic of singleness. 
But I do have one thing to add before I silence myself forever: To all the single ladies out there--my dear friends who have stopped talking to me about relationship stuff because my status has forever moved to the "Mrs." box--I want to let you know what you're not missing out on so you don't mistakenly believe that marriage is all vanilla cupcakes and lucky charms*.  

1. The Absence of Leftovers

Gone are the days when I could make a quiche and eat it for a week. When sharing every meal with a boy, I don't even have time to get sick of the leftovers! This is bad both for my mental health and my budget. 

At least when I lived alone the hours spent cooking a homemade chicken pot pie paid off when I ate it for the next twenty-three meals. Now a pot pie lasts us for one day. One, I tell you! It's ridiculous. No matter how much I think I've made, it lasts at most one more meal before it's gone like a hot girl in a single's Sunday school fellowship. (See what I did there?)

But seriously. I really do miss leftovers from the bottom of my heart.
And a night where it's acceptable to eat a bowl of oatmeal and half a bagel without someone (ahem) asking me what I'm making for dinner. I blame his mother. Darn her and her delicious Crock-Pot meals! 

2. The Abundance of Laundry

I used to go weeks without doing laundry. Weeeks. Typical girl that I am, I own enough pairs of underwear, socks, bras, pants, and shirts to last at least two weeks, if not three or four depending on how often I showered (see #3). 

But Jordan's a man's manly man. The kind of man who works a trade job and gets dirty and sweaty at work and needs to shower every day. Enter: laundry. Lord have mercy the laundry. 

Now it's at least once a week that I'm doing a load, sometimes two, even three. And there are only two of us! I don't even want to know what it will be like once we have kids. 

(On that note, I'm thinking we might just have to buy a trailer home and park ourselves next to a creek so we can rinse our clothes in the cold stream water redneck style. I don't exactly know how that would help the laundry problem except that if we did live in a trailer by the creek we could probably get away with just being naked all the time and therefore eliminate clothes/laundry altogether. Just something I'm thinking about. Feel free to discuss.)

3. The Need for Attention to Personal Hygiene 

Question: when you live alone, who cares how often you shower? 
Answer: nobody cares.  

You might find the fact that there's no one around to care about your personal hygiene a depressing conclusion.
I myself find it freeing. 
Trust me: showering is overrated. When you're single, you don't have to worry about judgement from your spouse if (to insert a hypothetical example that in no way relates to my personal life) you haven't showered in four days. Stunk up the bathroom? No problem! Hair turning to dreadlocks because you stopped combing it? Who cares? Not me. I didn't care one bit. 

Until Jordan moved in. 
Then he was all, "Umm, are you going to shower? You know you just played tennis and you're all sweaty. You really should shower."
Psh. Whatever.
Except then I started thinking that maybe I should shower. I didn't want my husband to be disgusted by me. Then I started getting disgusted by me, which was really bad for my self-esteem. See, when you live alone, you can believe anything you want about yourself--anything like the fact that you don't really smell bad from the lack of showering. When you live with someone, you can't ignore your own flaws so easily (see #4).

4. The Inability to Be Hypocritical

It's easy for me to tell Jordan to put his stuff away and clean up his messes in the kitchen, but when you don't live by yourself, you have to practice what you preach; otherwise you get called out. It will sound/look something like this: "Remember when you told me to put my dishes in the dishwasher?" he'll say while raising his eyebrow at me and pointing at the dish I'd left in the sink three days ago. 

When you live alone, you can do what you want when you want all the time. It's awesome. You can leave your stuff out and know that when you return (pending an invasion of some kind be it alien or just your regular burglar) your stuff will be exactly where you left it. 

When you live with a boy, you have to do all the things you tell him to do, lest you get called out for being hypocritical. And, he moves your stuff if he wants to sit on the couch and watch TV and you have it covered in, say, crochet yarn or scrapbooking materials. 

Let me ask you a question: guys get man caves. What do I get? The kitchen table. That's where I do all my creative, crafty things. When we buy a house, I'm taking an entire room for my woman cave.

* * * 
These are just a few things you can--and should--appreciate about the single life. And I didn't even mention the joys of total TV remote access, extra spending money, and getting the bed all to yourself. 
I really should just stop now before I get myself in trouble.**

For those of you who like the Spark Notes version of things, here's what I want you to take away from this post: if you're single, don't shower, do laundry, or buy groceries. All of these actions are completely overrated. 

Trust me. I know stuff. 
I'm married.

*This post was meant to be humorous and full of hypothetical examples that in no way resemble my own personal life.

**No husbands were harmed during the writing of this post.

Dodgin' Zombies, Gettin' Muddy, Bein' Awesome


So I survived the zombie run I told you about a while ago. 

The zombies were a gimmick for Halloween. If you registered to be a zombie, you got dressed up and had your face painted, and then you chased the runners. I was a runner being chased by said zombies.
To put it simply, it was the BEST. RUN. EVER. The only bummer was that Jordan was supposed to run with me, but he hurt his knee a few weeks ago, so my brother filled in. Jordan and my mom were rockstar cheerers/picture takers/purse holders. The only other bummer was that it was dang cold. Like, below 50 degrees. It might as well have been snowing. 
Despite being the best run ever, however, it was also an eye-opening experience about how not in shape I am. This was a 5k obstacle course. Usually, a 5k would be a very short run for me. I hate to say it, but when we first started, I was all, "We are so not walking at all." But then I started the race, and I was all, "ARE WE ALMOST FINISHED!?!" after 2 minutes while panting like a dog on a hot day even though it was 47 degrees outside.
Here's why: there were hills, it was freezing cold, and there were some really tough obstacles. The very first one involved racing up a muddy hill and then sliding down into a very large, extremely muddy hole. My shoes were coated in mud and gained 10 pounds each. Right after that we jumped over bales of hay, so our feet and legs were coated with hay and weighed even more.

(This picture was taken at the very end, after water had washed away pretty much all of the mud and hay.)
There was also this 10-foot wall we had to climb over using a rope ladder. My shoes were muddy and slippery, and I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it, seeing as how I have little no upper body strength. My brother helped me, kind fellow that he is. 

The other obstacle that was really tough were these 6-foot walls we had to hop over. In my brother's case, I mean he literally planted his hands on the top and hopped over the wall. Because he's tall and, you know, a boy. I, on the other hand, did a totally legit (read: very awkward) one-leg over maneuver that almost lost my leggings. (Seriously, Jordan had to pull up my leggings for me after I finished. That's true love right there.)

I also ripped my shirt on the barbed wire we crawled under, got a splinter in my left hand, three bruises on my left knee, and a large scrape on my right leg. 

Like I said, it was awesome.
The very last obstacle right before the finish was another muddy hill with another muddy hole. I like to think we dominated it.
Or...maybe the hill dominated us. Whatever. 
Basically, you should do a 5k obstacle course. It's what awesome people do. 

Oh, and I finished in 35:38. That's 13th out of every female who ran (almost 900)! Booya to me.