"Do You Sell Hot Apple Cider?"


For this story to make any sense, you first need to understand my dad's obsession with experiences. Other than the fact that it was cheaper, I think the reason we always drove and never flew to family vacations was because my dad holds a firm belief that the journey itself is half the fun. He would drive us all over the place looking for that hole-in-the-wall diner as we passed eight chain restaurants and shouted, "We're hungry!" from the backseat. 

In his defense, we ate some delicious meals on family vacations. We'll never know whether or not the diner food was actually delicious or by the time we found it we were just too hungry to care, but the fact is, we made some good memories along the way.

You can, then, understand why, when the seven of us set out to find a Christmas tree on the day after Thanksgiving, my dad immediately scoffed at the idea of going to Lowe's. "That doesn't count," he said, shaking his head in disgust. "We need to find a tree farm and cut down our own tree!"

Our Chicago family had done this many times before, so that in itself wasn't a crazy idea. But this was Texas, not Illinois. And it was 60 degree and sunny, not 20 degrees and snowing.

My dad spent a good hour or two on Thursday night looking for tree farms in the Dallas area and came to the unfortunate conclusion that the closest tree farm was an hour from our house. Apparently North Texas people don't do tree farms. 

We had limited family time on Friday before everyone scattered to their various places of residence, so we took a family vote on whether we'd rather spend the majority of our time in the car driving to and from the tree farm or go to the Lowe's five minutes from our house and spend our time decorating the tree with lights and ornaments.

Six out of seven of us voted for Lowe's.

I'll let you guess which member of the family was left.

"But don't you guys want to go chop down a tree?" my dad said. "AND..." He threw out his ace card. "...we'll have hot apple cider and spiced donuts." Tree farms in Illinois always had the most delicious hot apple cider and spiced donuts.

"I do love apple cider and donuts," I said. I'm easily swayed when there's food involved.

"Don't we have apple juice in the fridge?" my sister said. "Let's just heat up a glass of apple juice in the microwave when we get home."
My dad looked like he'd just eaten something sour. "That is not the same thing!" We all stared at him. "Fine. Just fine. We'll go to Lowe's."

We piled in the car, and by the second turn, we were headed in the opposite direction of Lowe's. My brother leaned forward. "Dad? Where are we going? We're not going to Denton are we?" That's where the closest tree farm was.

"No. We're going to Justin. I think there might be a tree farm there."
My mom had the resigned look of someone who'd been through this act before. "You think there's a tree farm in Justin? Or you know?"
"Well, you know, there should be one in Justin. Let's just see."
"So you're hijacking us," my brother said.

We drove for about fifteen minutes and soon found ourselves in the middle of Texas nowhere. And then, what did we see while barreling down the open road at 60 mph was this sign: BOWMAN'S TREE FARM.

"WOAH!" my dad said and screeched to a halt. "Tree farm!"

We pulled a semi-dangerous u-turn and headed back to the sign. And there it was: BOWMAN'S TREE FARM


We all cheered, and my mom looked at my dad. "How do you always find stuff like this?"

It was gorgeous Texas hill country, rolling green hills and trees filled with orange and yellow and brown leaves. We turned down a gravel road when we saw another Bowman's Tree Farm sign. My dad was nearing giddy with excitement at the thought of finding a hidden Christmas tree farm by accident.

We drove down the road until we came to our final turn. The iron gate was open, and the gravel driveway was lined with cedar trees. Or, I suppose I should say one side of the driveway was lined with cedar trees. 

On the other side, we saw this:

"Oh my gosh it's a nursery!" someone shouted. 

We all burst into laughter. The kind of laughter where people start snorting and crying.

What I can only assume to be the owner of the tree farm had come out of his house, and my dad drove up and leaned out the window. "Do you sell Christmas trees?"

Clearly, no.

"Naw," the man said. He was older, with thin gray hair and wearing overalls and work boots. 

"Well do you know where I could buy one?"
The old man scratched his chin. "Maybe Lowe's?"

At this, we burst into another round of laughter. Then, my brother leaned forward again. "Dad, ask him if he has cider."

My dad said later he almost asked about the cider but couldn't keep a straight face. "Okay," my dad said to the man. "Well we'll just turn around, then." The man stepped back inside, and by this point we were all dying laughing. DYING.

"Christmas. Tree. Farm. FAIL," said my dad between laughs as my mom wiped tears from her eyes.

So we turned around, drove back down the gravel road, and past the sign for Bowman Tree Farm. By this time we were all hungry, so we stopped at a taco shack for lunch. That's how, an hour and a half after we left the house, we found ourselves at Lowe's Garden Center five minutes from our house, picking out a Christmas tree.

We found one we liked, and my brother held it upright while my dad got on the ground and pretended to saw the bottom. Then we counted down and yelled "TIMBER!" and my brother dropped the tree to the floor. We applauded and laughed some more, and an older couple stopped in the aisle to stare at us.

And just in case you thought I was kidding about the whole shouting-timber-in-the-middle-of-Lowe's thing, I have pictures. You're welcome.

The lesson in all this? Bowman's Tree Farm sells baby trees.
You're better off going to Lowe's.

* * *
Does your family do fake or real trees? 
Have you ever gone to a tree farm and chopped down your own Christmas tree?

Half #7 Recap: Where I Dominate Everything and then My Hands Freeze Off


So this happened.

If you read this post, then you know my goal was 1:55, so basically I nailed it! My official chip time was 1:53:02. My previous best was 1:56:47, which means I have an almost 4-minute PR! Woop! I'm only kind of annoyed that I was a silly 2 seconds away from going under 1:53. Next time!

For this recap, I'm just going to break down a few of the main points instead of going through the day chronologically.

1. The Hills

My "good" goal was to not walk the hills, and I'm happy to report that this was a success! The hills were tough, especially a pretty steep hill during miles 11-12, but it's 100% different when you're mentally prepared. Last time, I wasn't ready, and when I saw a hill I groaned and got defeated before I even started. This time, I attacked the hill and viewed it as a personal challenge. Running really is mental, and preparing yourself is half the battle.

If you ran the race and saw a crazy girl sprinting up the hill while shouting, "LET'S DO THIS. I LOVE HILLS."

That was me.

2. The Bathroom

The week before the race I was really careful about hydrating and not eating a ton of fiber. I also decided to forget everything I'd read in Runner's World about calorie intake the morning of a race and ate only half a chocolate Cliff Bar and a package of cherry-flavored energy beans.

I'm happy to report that I didn't once feel the need to hit the Port-o-Potty, which is honestly the biggest accomplishment of the entire day. Every time I passed a Port-o-Potty, I gave myself a non-literal pat on the back in sweet, sweet victory.

3. The 1:55 Goal

At first I thought about sticking with the 2-hour pace group for the beginning of the race just to get my groove. But then I realized that 13 miles wasn't quite enough to make up the time I'd lose if I didn't get out to a fast enough start. So I went at it alone until 6, when who did I meet up with but the 3:50 marathon pace group, which was also pacing a 1:55 half! I knew if I just stuck with them, I could get across the finish line and hit my goal no problem.

But then, after a few miles (I think around mile 9), I started speeding up. I was feeling really good at this point and knew that barring a major catastrophe, I had it. I gave the finish line a good old-fashioned fist bump as I crossed. 

I think this is my best race pic yet. Minus the crooked headband and the poofy hair.

4. The Frostbite

OHMYGOSH. Um, it was cold. There was actually a huge ice patch during mile 3. The race people did a great job putting cones out and alerting runners of the danger, so I don't think anyone got hurt.

It was so cold, I couldn't feel my feet for the first 5 miles. I passed the 5-mile flag and was like, Oh hello, feet! I was worried I was going to trip or something, because I couldn't really lift them too well.

But then my feet warmed up, and then it was my hands that were the problem. Once I finished and was in the food tent, my hands started hurting so bad. It was the weirdest, most painful feeling. I tried to flex them, but it was like they were moving in slow motion. I stood still for a good ten minutes just opening and closing my hands, and finally they slowly stopped hurting. I don't know what happened, but I hope it never happens again. Any of you ever tried putting those hand warmers inside your running gloves? I'm wondering if that's something I should do next time.

Other than the numb feet and the painful hand issue, the cold really wasn't so bad. Serious shoutout to all the volunteers who stood in the cold for hours handing out water and medals and working the medic tent.

And... just for kicks, here are my mile splits. Clearly I should never be a pacer.

The Route 66 website also included a really fun graph! At least, I thought it was fun, but maybe that's because the graph was all about me. The best part is the square at the bottom right. It's so much more fun to pass people than to be passed, which is exactly why you start out slow so you don't burn out at the end.

Half marathon #7 is finished, and now I just have one more race in 2013.

Quick holler to my running girls 
(if I forgot anyone, I'm so sorry!)
* * *
Kate is running her first half marathon in a few weeks.
Emily is running her first marathon in a few weeks.
Courtney ran her first marathon a few weeks ago.
Meghan has got marathon #2 on December 29.
Amber is going to run her first half marathon in 2014.
Tamara recently signed up for her first marathon in 2014.
Rachel recently ran a half marathon two weeks after her full.
Melinda recently ran 6 miles, her farthest distance ever.
* * * 
Anyone else have a race coming up or recently signed up for a race?
What motivational phrases do you say to yourself when you're running?

Three Goals for Half Marathon #7


I'm running half marathon #7 on Sunday morning! The second to last race of 2013. It's the Route 66 race in Tulsa, and I'm really excited to do this one because it's on my race bucket list. I've heard this is a beautiful course, and the medals are awesome. Like, these medals win awards awesome. (And yes, I realize the irony of a medal getting a medal.)

Anyway, for this race I have 3 goals. I'm not self-important enough to think you actually care about my race goals and times and all that (although maybe I am since I'm writing this), but I like writing them down and going back to look at them later.

I'm following the good, great, awesome method I told you about last time.

Good: Don't walk the hills

Last time I was not prepared for the hills, but Tulsa is known to be a hilly course, so this time I'm going to be ready. At the very least, I want to run all the way through the hills and keep a positive attitude about it. No dry heaving for me!

Great: Under 2 hours

Even if it's not a PR, I will be very happy with a sub-2 half marathon. It was one of my 2013 goals, after all.

Awesome: Half marathon PR (1:56 or under) and/or 1:55 or under 

1:55 was my goal for my last half, and we all know how that turned out. I'd still love to go under 1:55, and I know I have it in me. Maybe this will be the one! If not, I'd love to PR. Race recap to come. Hopefully it won't involve any port-a-potty stops! Cross your fingers for me.

P.S. It's apparently going to be freeeezing this weekend.  Like, snow and sleet and rain and possible death by hypothermia, so my SUPER goal #4 is to stay alive. Mom, don't worry. I'll be wearing leggings and ear muffs.

4 Things I Like about... Living in an Apartment


Following up on last week's post of 5 Things I Like about Budgeting... here are 4* things I like about apartment living.

1. Maintenance.

In May, when the tornadoes came through and we had to hide out in a damp storm shelter for two hours with twelve people and a dog, our roof leaked. But we didn't have to deal with insurance or contractors.... we just called our office building! Same thing when the toilet broke or the door jammed or the hot water heater when out. When you have a house, you're in charge of all that yourself. And that's no fun at all.

2. A year-round gym membership.

My apartment complex has a fantastic gym with six treadmills, multiple indoor bikes, and a large weight room. It's also a short jog away from my building. I am a huge wimp when it comes to running outside in the winter months, and I am thankful for the indoor treadmills, so I can run while watching reruns of 18 Kids and Counting, because at 5 a.m. it's either that or Wen infomercials. What up, Alyssa Milano!

3. A pool. 

Last summer I went to the pool at my apt complex approximately 0 times. But I loved knowing it was there if I wanted to use it.

4. Limited storage space.

Yes, I'm serious about this one. We do not have a lot of storage space (closets and cabinets and whathaveyou), and this is at once horribly frustrating and freeing because we do not have room for extra crap! Seriously, when I'm about to go on a Target binge, I just stop and think, Realistically, where will I store this? If the answer is, On the counter, I don't buy it. This lack of space has saved me from a number of useless purchases that waste my valuable space and my money (see #1).

*I fully intended on following the pattern and writing down 5 things I like about apartment living, but as hard as I tried, I could only find 4. The truth is, I am ready to be out of here. And yet, God has withheld the blessing of a house from us, at least for the time being. We're still saving up for a down payment, and as much as I would love a house, I've accepted the fact that we're here for now. It's really not so bad, and there are things to be thankful for. After all, that's the whole point of this post and this series.

What are you thankful for about your current living situation?
Any other things about apartment living I should be thankful for?

The One Where I Threw Tomatoes + More Awesome/Awkward


Remember when I posted about the Tomato DodgeWell, I did it, and it was awesome. Weird, yes. And awesome.

I got two free entries for blogging about it (yay for blogging!), so I invited my friend Natalie to join in the fun. The Tomato Dodge is a 5k where, instead of color or obstacles, you run through stations where people throw tomatoes at you!

I have no idea why this immediately sounded like a lot of fun to me, but it did. 

At the end of the race, you have a food fight with tomatoes! There's basically a huge area set up with piles of tomatoes, and you run around throwing them at everyone. Again, no idea why this sounded fun, but if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, I suppose this won't surprise you.

The only bad thing I'll say about the race is that at the fight part at the end, some of the tomatoes were, shall we say, not fully squished, so they hurt when they hit you! I'll be honest. Natalie and I feared for our lives a little bit. 

So to anyone interested in this race, my advice would be to fully squash the tomatoes before throwing them at other persons. And also don't aim for the head. Other than that, it was a new, fun type of race that I enjoyed. I did run the race for free, but I would have been satisfied to pay the $25. That's actually a good price for a 5k these days.

Would you ever do a race like this or am I completely insane?
Don't answer that last part.

Speaking of weird 5ks, shoutout to my IRL (in real life) friend Kalyn who ran a 5k this weekend called The Donut Run. She ate SIX Krispy Kreme donuts and ran a 5k. Six.

She might (will) kill me for stealing this picture from her FB page and posting it on this blog, but LOOK AT THE FINISHER'S MEDAL. It's a donut.
I want.

Kalyn is awesome and awkward (like me, which is why we're friends). She's currently blogging the hilarious story about this boy she flirted with at the mall while buying shoes. She wins the awkward award I promised in my last post. (Side note: Kalyn is training for her first half marathon, which makes me want to squeal with glee. Literally.)

Speaking of awkwardness, one more story, and I promise I'm finished after this. I totally forgot to mention one in my awkward/awesome post of the MOST awkward things that happened to me last week, which is that I made a phone call to someone on the editorial board of the journal I work for, and I was stupid enough to not consider a little thing called a time zone.

Me: Hello! This is Amanda calling from such and such.
Her: Hi. Um... You know it's 7:00 in the morning.
Me: What?
Her: I live in California. Pacific time zone. I was just about to head to the gym.
Me (thinking): Curse, you pacific time zone!!!!!

So yeah. I'm putting up a calendar in my office tomorrow and circling all the time zones. I'm totally ready for Monday.

Awkward & Awesome: I Love You, Whoever You Are


Awesome #1

Every so often I get a text from a wrong number. Once I got a picture text. It was a girl taking a picture of herself in the mirror wearing black leggings and a pink tank top. It was a while ago, but I'm pretty sure the caption said something funny. I laughed and showed Jordan.

But yesterday I got a wrong number text that I think was the best yet.

TEXT #1 
7:44 PM
Just texting to say hey and that I love you.

7:52 PM
Sorry wrong number. But I do love you whoever you are.


Awesome #2

So far we have almost 350 people registered for the turkey trot my family puts on in our neighborhood on Thanksgiving morning. This is the 3rd annual 5k and 1-mile fun run. If you live in a Dallas/Ft. Worth area (specifically Flower Mound/Lewisville), you should come out!

If you do, make sure to find me and say hi! All the proceeds support inner-city youth in North Texas. You can read more about how it all started, here.


Awesome #3, 4, 5

3: Last week, there was a taco truck outside my office building! AND, they were giving out free tacos! So, I got a taco from a taco truck in the city and ate lunch on the steps of the library. It. Was. Awesome.

4: Speaking of my office building, I have officially been working full time for two weeks! Thanks to everyone who's emailed me to ask how it's going. So far I still love it! Everyone is suuuper nice, and I actually don't mind going to work every day. Imagine that. A job that isn't sucking the life out of me. Brilliant I tell you.

5: Speaking of the library, I decided to beat the commuting blues by finding a good audio book to listen to on my drives to and from work. I chose The Help for my first book, and now I almost don't want my drives to end! Almost.

Awkward #1

So yesterday I woke up at my 5:15 a.m. alarm to head to the gym for a run. I'm kind of a zombie until I actually start running, and apparently I was too tired to realize that one doesn't need to wear sunglasses outside at 5 in the morning. 

I walked outside and was all, "Is it darker than normal out here?"

Take off your sunglasses, Kanye.
That's better.
At least I had pants on.
Not that that's happened to me before.*
*It's happened.

Awkward #2

Trying to unlock your apartment door with your car clicker. 
And then your neighbor sees you.

Awkward #3

Sitting at a stop sign for a full 2 minutes waiting for the light to turn green.
If a car hadn't pulled up, who knows how long I would have sat there.
I blame the audiobook.

-->And just for kicks, here's another awesome for all my runner friends.<--

Anything awesome or awkward happen in your world recently?
Tell me about it, and I'll give my favorite a shout out in an upcoming blog post!

5 Things I Like about... Being on a Budget


So I had this idea for a new post series dedicated to things I'm thankful for. As I look back on 2013, I realize that I've spent a lot of time this year being envious of other people. It's really sad to say that out loud (or write it/whathaveyou), but there it is.

I don't do drugs or smoke or have a diet-coke addiction, but I have a problem with envy. And peanut butter, but that's a post for another day.

Ergo, I have decided to focus on things I LIKE about my various spots of envy. First up: budgeting

Let's be honest: budgeting is horrible! It's no fun at all, and I am envious of people who have enough money to not care about budgeting. If it were up to me, I'd buy the most expensive brand of ice cream and stop at Panera every day for a bread bowl. And I wouldn't care that the nearest Panera is a half hour from me, because gas budget what? And I wouldn't care that eating expensive ice cream and bread bowls is going to make me fat because as a budgetless person I will PAY Jillian Michaels to come to my house and yell at me in her scary man voice.

But once I talked myself off the ledge, I realized there are a few good things about budgets: 

1. Having a budget helps you buy only things you need so you don't fill your house with crap.

You all know my feelings about Target. But it's also a good thing, because when I go into Target I only buy the things I need. (Most of the time. I am still a human.) Do I stop at the dollar spot? Of course. But just as I'm walking toward the register with my arms full of one-dollar placemats, I realize that I already have placemats! Oh, and also, I live with one other person and never host dinner parties. 

2. When you have a budget, you value the things you buy.

I saved up for almost an entire year to buy my fancy camera. And I saved for three months for my latest pair of running shoes. And when I was finally able to buy my camera and my shoes, I was so much more grateful for them than I would have been had I just been able to buy them outright in the first place. 

Not to say that rich people don't value their things, but when you have to save up for something, it makes it all the more sweeter when you finally get it.

3. A budget allows you to do fun things without worrying about how much you're spending.

Jordan and I have a "travel" fund, which means we put money aside in an envelope that's specifically designated for travel expenses. Most recently we drove to Springfield, Illinois, this summer for a friend's wedding. Springfield happens to be the home of a man called Abraham Lincoln. Maybe you've heard of him. So of course we visited the museum, saw his tomb, and all that. We also had gas, a hotel, and food to pay for.

This could have freaked us out, but thanks to our trusty travel envelope, we didn't worry about a thing! In fact, we were much more open to eating out at a fancy restaurant than we would have been if we hadn't already budgeted for those expenses. Budgeting isn't fun, but it allows you to have fun without the stress.

4. Budgeting keeps buyer's remorse at bay.

I used to get buyer's remorse a lot. Like, I'd buy something on a whim "because it was on sale," and then all of the sudden it was a year later, and that stupid cheap shirt was hanging in my closet with the tag still on it. Then I'd be all "WHY????"

Since I started budgeting, that doesn't happen! At least as often. Because when you have a budgeted amount of what Jordan and I call "blow money" every month, you really think hard about what you're buying (see #1). 

Honestly, I think I'm a closet shopaholic. Remember my confession a few months ago? Well that happened again! Good grief. I've already spent November and December's blow money! Jordan just shakes his head. 

So obviously I have issues, but the fact remains that I really do only buy things I really want. I've come *this close* to buying a lot of crap lately, but then I stop and think Do I really want to use my last $10 on this? Answer = no. This is why I haven't done blog sponsorships in like a year. I have a small amount of money to spend, and I'd rather use it signing up for races! For serious. Plus, who needs to pay for a blog sponsorship when my posts are going viral thanks to the Canadians? Free advertising! 

5. Budgeting keeps you out of debt.

This last one is obvious but needs to be said. After all, why DO people budget? 
It's so you don't end up on an episode of Castle where Castle and Beckett are trying to figure out who broke your kneecaps and then stuffed you in a garbage can.
It's so you can be in control of your own life while acting like an educated human being and not a layaway-obsessed robot.

It's so you can lose your job and not freak out about continuing to pay your credit card bill because, oh yeah! you don't have one!

Believe me, if it's only for that last reason, I'm thankful to be on a budget. You can read more about our budget binder and how it works here.

Now who wants to buy me a bread bowl?

My Victory Lap


I think I forgot to tell you guys that I signed up for another marathon. So that's happening. I'm calling it my victory lap, and here's why. 

A few weeks ago I wrote about how 2013 has been a weird and terrible and awesome year for me. It started out terrible; then the middle part was stressful and really fun at the same time. And now I'm working full time again to round out the year, and it's all very strange.

Not everyone will be able to understand this, but running has been a lifesaver for me this year. It gave me a purpose and kept me active during my days of unemployment/part-time work. And it made me feel good about myself.

One thing running helped me realize is truly how grateful I am to be healthy at this point in my life. I am able to get outside and be active and do something good for my body, and although I have no idea what will happen even tomorrow, when I am running I know that at least for right now God is offering me a blessing I would be stupid not to take advantage of. (I'm not saying people who don't run are stupid; although I would say healthy people who don't do some type of exercise are majorly missing out.)

So naturally I got it into my head that I should sign up for another marathon while I was still mostly in marathon shape. The list of possible races narrowed down pretty quick because it had to be:

1) cheap
2) in the month of December
3) in my area(ish)

As soon as I found the New Year's Double, I knew it was the perfect race for me. It's a two-day event of 5k, half, and full marathons on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. You can sign up for one day or both. I chose to run my marathon on New Year's Eve (morning) 2013. I know this sounds insane, but I honestly could not think of a better way to end my year than with marathon #2, or what I'm calling my victory lap. It's kind of an "in your face, 2013" race.

Training is going well so far, although I'm doing it mostly on my own instead of with the running group I was training with in January. This is only because I've been too lazy to wake up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday to run. So I wait until a normal time to be awake on a Saturday when you don't have kids.
[After our 14-mile training run! At that time the longest either of us had ever run.]
I've been doing this training solo, and this time I don't have my dad to compare notes with, which has been more of a bummer than I anticipated. It's nice to have someone share your training pain. Luckily I have all of you runner friends. Hashtag run. Amiright?

Anyway, that's mostly it on the running front. I have half marathon #7 coming up on the 24th of this month (Route 66 in Tulsa!), and I just passed 700 total miles for the year, so that's pretty dang awesome considering my original goal was 500.

Basically, I can't remember a time when I wasn't running at least 2-3 times a week. I'll come back from a run and see I have a missed call (usually from my mom). When I call her back, she says, "I figured you were out running."

You know you're a runner when people stop asking you how much or how far you've run that day or that week because they just assume you are running. 

I love it.

Thirty Strangers Holding iPhones


So, last week something exciting happened other than this exciting thing. (Btw, you guys BLEW MY MIND with all your amazing comments! Seriously, thanks so much!)

My little brother got engaged!

I'm so happy I was able to drive to Texas to help my mom decorate for the surprise engagement party we were hosting after the proposal (Jordan couldn't get off work to come with. Boo!). I'm a little sad Jordan and I will no longer be the cute, young married couple, but I'm so excited for Austin and Amy! They're so cute together, and I already can't wait for their wedding, which will be sometime in 2014.

We probably had at least thirty people in our house, and Amy was shocked to see so many people there. She probably would have been more shocked had my other brother Daniel not arrived from Arlington five minutes earlier and sort of spoiled the moment.

He had a class that night and left during the break to speed to our house. We were all in the living room, cameras posed, ready to document Amy and Austin's triumphant return, when Daniel came up the walkway. He walked in, and everyone cheered! 

Was he phased by 30 strangers holding iphones and staring at him?

Negative. He took it like a champ and started dancing in the doorway before everyone told him to sit his bearded face down because the newly engaged couple was coming quick.

So that happened. 
It was hilarious.

Amy heard the cheers as they walked up the driveway, and Austin said, "Well, I guess now you know people are here."

But don't worry. Amy was still surprised, as you can see.

It was a great night. People were crying and laughing and taking pictures. Speaking of pictures, this next one is the perfect example of why Amy will fit right in with our family. Look at her, right in the middle of the pack, with a huge smile and a thumbs up. Love it.

Welcome to Crazy Town.
Where the pictures are weird and the laughs come easy.

If you walked into a room full of strangers pointing cameras at you, 
what would you do?

An Exciting Life Announcement Unrelated to Pregnancy


[From a high school football game we went to a few weeks ago.]

I have an important question.

Can't a girl just have an exciting announcement that is NOT a pregnancy? 
Come on, people. Ladies between the ages of child-bearing and menopause, can I get an amen on this?  

An actual conversation between me and everyone:

Me: I have something to tell you!
Everyone: Are you pregnant?
Me: No.
Everyone: Well I can't think of what other exciting thing could possibly be going on your life if it's not a pregnancy.
Me: Get out of here before I punch you in a place that would keep you from ever having or making children.

I'm sort of kidding, obviously. But sort of not. 

I DO, however, have an exciting announcement, which is unrelated to pregnancy and also unrelated to the fact that I found mint and made a mojito! AND I dropped off my clothes and Goodwill a few days ago, so I'm totally winning on my goals from two weeks ago. I'm delayed, but I get around to it eventually.

I digress.

Here's my announcement: I got a job! 

A legit, full-time, salary, benefits, working downtown j.o.b. 

I started on Friday, November 1, and I don't want to get too excited yet, but I love it! At least, I loved my first day. You can't tell everything from the first day, but here's what I know so far: I have a great office with a huge window, a nice boss who's also a Christian, and--the best part--I get to edit ALL DAY LONG.

I don't want to get into too many details on this blog about what the job is specifically (not because I work for the CIA but just because this is a blog, and I know for a fact my employers have read this blog), but I'll be editing full time and interacting with writers, and I'm really excited about it. It's a job I applied for on a huge whim back in April, I went in for interviews in July, and now I have it! 

I have no choice but to look back on this past year and see God's hand in it. I know that sounds cheesy to some of you, but Jordan and I have experienced his provision in an amazing way, and it's actually been really cool to see.

On another note, I read a post on Melinda's blog recently about pursuing your dreams, and I did wonder if by taking this job I was giving up on my dream of freelance editing. But I ultimately decided that editing itself is my dream job. It doesn't matter if it's working from home or at an office. I've spent the past 8 months making my own schedule and working mostly from home (with 2 other part-time jobs outside my house as well), and let me tell you: it's not easy.

People like to act like those who get to do freelance or contract work from home are "living the dream." I've said that myself. But there's something to be said for structure, a set schedule, going to an office and working hard all day so you can come home and enjoy your time off work. It's not a bad thing. Or, it doesn't have to be a bad thing if you can find something you love.

I'm hoping this job is that for me, and I'm going to do my best to make it that for me as much as it's within my power to do so.

As soon as I told my friend Liz that I had gotten a job, she texted me and said, "I'm really happy you got a job, but PLEASE don't stop blogging!" That was nice of her to be so concerned.

So in case you're interested in the answer, I won't lie to you and say The Lady Okie won't be affected in a small way by my new employment change. I've had a lot of extra time over the past couple of months to blog and read your blogs and schedule posts and take pictures and all that good stuff, and now much of that time will be taken up with a morning and evening commute. And I still need to fit in my Bible study, cooking meals, and running in there somewhere along with my TV watching of The Voice and Parenthood and The Biggest Loser. And, you know, hanging out with The Bearded One (aka Jordan).

But I have no plans to quit blogging.

I might not post as often, but I still have a list of post ideas, so don't worry about me going anywhere. I just might be less quick to reply to your comment or to comment on your blog. Just know I appreciate every comment, and I'm reading your blogs and telling Jordan, "It's kind of like a book full of short stories!"

So anyway, thanks for following along this year as I tried to figure out what was going on with my life. I still don't really know what's going on, but, to borrow the old cliche, a new chapter is beginning. I don't know what it will look like, but I hope it's awesome. And I hope you join me. 

Here's to November!