13 Things You Should Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013


Hello, friends! I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas! 
For Jordan and I, the celebration continues this weekend in the great land of Tay-has (that's how I like to say Texas sometimes). But before we leave to spend time with my side of the family, today, Beka and I are hosting a 2013 linkup!

Scroll to the bottom to link up your 2013 posts, 
and be sure and visit a few of your fellow bloggers.

* * *
I was going to write a letter to 2013, 
but I saw these questions on Kenzie's blog 
and was further inspired by Alicia's post.

The original post was for 25 things, but I just chose 13 for 2013.

1. What am I most proud of this year?
There are two things that make me the most proud:
a) Completing all my 2013 resolutions by September
b) Landing my sweet job and, most specifically, holding out for something great. You CAN find a job you love. It might take some time, but it's out there. I believe that 100%.

2. How can I become a better ________?
The first thing that came to mind was wife. You know how you guys think I'm hilarious and awesome? Well, sometimes I'm not so awesome, and Jordan does not always think I'm hilarious. Shocking, I know. 

In 2014, I want to be more intentional about being a better wife to Jordan. More posts on that later. Survey says you guys love it when I talk about marriage.

3. Where do I need to allow myself grace?
I am really hard on myself, so I don't allow myself much grace at all. I'm constantly down on myself about how I could be a better wife (see #2), a better Christian, a better friend, just a better person in general. 

And while self-improvement is a good thing, I do need to give myself some grace and remember that I am not going to change overnight. I'm not going to wake up and magically be more patient, less materialistic, and better at managing my time. I need to allow myself grace to make mistakes.

4. Am I passionate about my career?

At the start of 2013, I would have said my career looked like a black hole of awfulness. 
Now? I can happily and thankfully say yes (see #1b).

5. What did my finances look like?

Due to my job loss, our savings plan slowed down dramatically (aka stopped altogether), and our house buying plans have stalled for the moment as well. Actually, we've decided to rough it out in apartment life for another year, so there's that. 

But all in all, it wasn't so bad. Our budget saved the day, and even though it wasn't fun to pinch pennies, we made it without having to dip into our savings one time! Winning. You can check out my budgeting posts here, and one post I'm going to do soon is a short introduction to budgeting to just give you some easy tips on how to actually get started. The new year is the perfect time to implement some easy budgeting practices.

6. How did I spend my free time?
Mostly, running and blogging. And talking to my mom on the phone.
Oh, and thinking up hilarious tweets.

7. What projects have I completed?
Does my how to start running series count? Because that was a heck of a project!
I also crocheted some stuff like pot holders and scarves, bought a desk for myself so I actually have a home base for my computer and stuff like that, and I ran a marathon. That was a pretty labor-intensive project.
And I baked a lot of cookies. A lot. You could say my project was not gaining 28495 pounds.

8. In what ways can I restructure my time?

I go back and forth between feeling like, "I love my blog! It's fun! It's not a waste of time," to, "You idiot! You realize how much time you spend on this blog for no money? At least do sponsorships for pete's sake."

So there's that. I could probably restructure my blogging time, although I have no idea what that would realistically look like.

Still, in general I think I do a fairly good job of structuring my time. As previously mentioned, I am one of five people in the world who don't own a smart phone, so I at least have some freedom from social media when I am out of my apartment and/or not near a computer. But I definitely waste my share of time on the computer too. I guess I would just like to be more intentional about the amount of time I spend doing certain things and making sure I'm continuing to be productive and not just wasting time. Was that too vague? Probably.

9. When have I felt the most alive?
While running. Bet you didn't see that one coming, huh?

Specifically, running on a beautiful day with a good song on my ipod and the wind blowing at my back. It's those days that remind me why I love it so much. It makes up for the days where I get honked at by creepy strangers and chased by dogs and angry geese.

10. How can I improve my relationships?

I need to ask my friends how I can be praying for them, and then I need to actually follow through and spend time in daily prayer. That's the first thing.

Secondly, I need to remember things. Birthdays and anniversaries. I need to send cards and emails and make an effort to stay in touch. Because even though I have the kind of friendships where we don't have to talk all the time, those are the friends I want to talk to the most. So I should.

11. What lessons have I learned in 2013?
Budgeting is important. Annoying sometimes, but always important.
Salmon actually is not disgusting. It's delicious.
Black olives, however, will always be disgusting. Stop trying to eat them thinking the taste has changed.
God is good.

12. What old habits would I like to release?
Being quick to speak. Not that I haven't been working on this my entire life. It would be really nice not to blurt out everything I'm thinking at any given moment. I am constantly offending people. On the bright side, I've gotten quite good at apologies.

Also, I pick at my face a lot, which I KNOW isn't good for my already terrible complexion. I'd like to stop doing that. Old habits die hard.

13. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

a) Daily prayer (see #10)
b) More strength training and other things like pilates or yoga.
I'd really like to be able to cross off "do a pull-up" on my 30x30 list before I'm too old to care about doing pull-ups.
I have tried to start a cleaning schedule since I moved out on my own. And I have failed miserably every time. Like, I don't even clean the first time. I can budget and wake up at 5am to run, but I can't get my act together to regularly clean my bathroom sink. It's a problem.

What do you have to say about 2013?
Write a post, grab a button, and link up!
The Lady Okie Blog

A Merry Christmas Postcard + 1-Day Linkup


The Lady and Mr. Okie wish you a Merry Christmas!

Postcard from Minted.
His and her shirts originally seen on Pinterest.
When I saw these t-shirts, I knew I needed them in my life.
Not wanted.

I chose to make postcards this year because stamps were cheaper and it was something different and fun than just a regular card. 
I love how it turned out!
Here are a few more pics from our Christmas photo shoot.

[Pictures taken by my dear friend Leanna.]

Merry Christmas, friends!
May your Christmas season be full of love.

* * *

I'll be taking the next week off from blogging, but I'll be back on Friday, December 27,
to host a linkup with Beka called Dear 2013.
We would love it if you wrote a letter to 2013, grabbed this button, and linked up with us! The linkup will be open through the end of the year, so link up any end-of-the-year posts with us, and we'll pop over and say hi!
The Lady Okie Blog

Outrageous Lies: Before the Proposal [Part 2]


When we left off in Part 1, Jordan had just arrived at my parents' house, and my dad was striding across the yard toward Jordan's truck. My dad is a nice person, and he and Jordan get along really well, but when Jordan saw my dad making a beeline for him, he started sweating.

"Hey, guys," said my dad. "What..." He paused. "Oh sh--." My dad doesn't usually curse, but desperate times and all that jazz. "Uh, come on in."

They'd planned on Jeff staying in the car, but my dad was staring them down, and neither felt like they could say no. So they both got out and followed my dad into the house.

"Look who's here," my dad said to my mom. "It's Jordan."
"Jordan?" she said and looked behind him toward the truck. "Is Amanda here?"
"No, she's... not," Jordan said.
Then realization dawned on her. "Oh." She turned around to look at my dad, but he had walked into the kitchen. He returned ten seconds later with a full glass of wine. My dad is not usually a cursing wineo, but desperate times and all that jazz.

"Let's get this over with," he said and took three large gulps. Then my mom started crying. While this was happening, Jeff was standing awkwardly in the doorway, and my sister had come out of her room.

That's how Jordan ended up sitting in my parents' living room, talking to them about proposing to me, with Jeff and my sister sitting awkwardly to the side. After it was over, my dad told Jordan that if he ever hurt me, he'd break his kneecaps. Then he reminded Jordan that he owned several hunting rifles and wouldn't hesitate to "make it look like an accident."

Calm down, Al Pacino. 

Jordan nodded and assured my dad that if he did do anything to hurt me, he'd be smart enough not to let anybody find out about it until he was halfway to Mexico.*
*There's a 99.43% chance he didn't really say that.

The deed being done, Jordan and Jeff headed back to Oklahoma. THEN, Jeff had his friend, let's call her Jenny, write on his Facebook wall. It said something like, "Thanks so much for the guitar! You're the best!" This was in hopes that I would see it and think, I guess they really did go to Texas to drop off a guitar.


After that, all Jordan had to do was sit back for the next two weeks and pretend like he didn't know what I was talking about when I told him my parents had gotten their Christmas tree (he'd already seen it) or that my dad had put lights on our house for the first time ever (he'd already seen them) or that my mom had gotten her hair cut (he'd already seen it). 

And all my family had to do was play it cool when I told them that I would TOTALLY know if Jordan was planning on proposing and that there was no way he was proposing at Christmas.

So we all spent the day in Chicago on December 26, and Jordan proposed at the Bean while my dad and sister hid behind a bush and took creeper pictures. It's a running joke in our family that my dad is terrible at taking pictures, so the fact that he actually got a shot of Jordan down on one knee is the crowning photographic achievement of his life.

And then a few months later, Jordan and I took engagement pictures with some friends of ours. In some of them we actually smiled. In this one we did not.

And the rest, as they say, is history.


Outrageous Lies: Before the Proposal [Part 1]


There's one topic (besides my marathon and my wedding) that I don't think I'll ever get tired of talking about, and that's the outrageous lies that were told to me by my future husband and loving family to hide the fact that Jordan was going to propose to me in Chicago the day after Christmas.

I've written about the actual proposal on this blog, but I've never talked about how the whole thing came about. I am now choosing to document the story on this blog for historical purposes. This will be in two parts, because I know some of you skimmers won't last through the whole thing if I didn't break it up.

This past weekend, Jordan reminded me that December 14 was the three-year anniversary of the day he drove to Texas to talk to my dad about proposing. This isn't an anniversary we celebrate or anything like that, but every year Jordan reminds me about it because, as he says, it was one of the scariest moments of his life. (Possible slight exaggeration.)
Our very first picture together ever!
Proposal stories are funny if you really think about it. We're beaten over the head from the time we're two years old with all this crap about telling the truth and never keeping secrets from your spouse or family, but then all of the sudden it's totally okay to pile lie on top of lie to keep the proposal a secret. 

I love it.

My mom likes to remind me about how I was all, "Oh I am SO going to know if Jordan is planning on proposing. He's a terrible liar." Yeah, apparently I don't know anything, and Jordan is, in fact, a fantastic liar. I'm only slightly concerned.

It was December 2010.

Jordan and I had been dating for almost a year and a half, and I asked him to come with me to Illinois for Christmas. My whole family was driving up, and I thought it would be fun to have Jordan come with, since he'd never been to Chicago before or met the majority of my extended family.

Jordan will tell you that he'd been saving up money for a ring for a little bit and started thinking about when and how he would propose to me, and when I mentioned Chicago, he knew it was perfect since Chicago is my favorite place in the whole world. So he told his mom, and they went ring shopping together, and then he had to find a way to ask my dad.

I know some people scoff and say the whole ceremony of asking for the girl's dad's blessing is outdated and ridiculous, but my family is such an important part of my life that it was less about getting permission and more just about including them in the excitement. Plus, I do personally like the tradition. I just think it's nice.

Jordan considered just calling my dad up on the phone, but he said that he felt like he needed to make the three-hour drive to Texas and talk to my dad in person. The problem now was how to make that happen without me knowing about it, so he enlisted the help of our friend Jeff. 

They concocted a story about how Jeff needed to drive to Texas to drop off a guitar for a (girl) friend of his, and he wanted Jordan to come with him. Not only that, but Jeff needed Jordan to drive because he (Jeff) didn't trust his crappy car to make it all the way there. 

When Jordan told me about it, he made a huge deal about how annoyed he was that he had to give up his entire Saturday to drive to Texas just because Jeff had a crush on a girl. This story was 100% believable because Jeff is the sort of guy who routinely has crushes on girls and does ridiculous things for them. Driving six hours round trip just to drop off a guitar was only slightly unusual, but Jordan's seemingly honest irritation sold me.

I even got annoyed at Jeff myself and told Jordan what a great friend he was being!
What a sucker I am.

So on December 14, Jordan and Jeff headed south. (Jordan decided to have Jeff go with him on the drive for moral support, so at least that part was true.) My aunt and uncle live on the same street at my parents, so Jordan had enlisted my aunt's help to make sure my parents were home when he got there. He didn't want my parents to know he was coming in advance, because they'd guess what he was coming for, and it would ruin the surprise and negate the whole point of driving all that way in the first place. So Aunt Mindy stalled them while my mom kept trying to leave to go to the grocery store.

Jordan got lost on the way to my parents' house and started freaking out, but after a quick stop to check the GPS, he finally made it. He pulled into the driveway, put the truck in park, and looked up to see my dad striding purposefully across the yard...

Check back on Friday for Part 2!

5 Things Other People Like that I Don't



As previously mentioned, I do not like coffee. Sometimes wish I did because then when I said "let's meet for coffee" I could actually drink coffee. Plus it usually smells good and it's a really easy gift. 

I hear it's an acquired taste, which leads me to believe I could like it if I tried it and/or loaded it down with enough sugar and cream, but that honestly just sounds like too much work, so I'll stick with my tea, thankyouverymuch.


You guys, I want to like wine SO BAD. You all look so mysterious and fashionable, swirling your wine and drinking out of one of those long-stemmed glasses. I hear people mention the luxuriousness of going home to a glass of wine and a bubble bath, but I just don't get it. I use white wine for cooking, and that's about it. Occasionally I'll drink half a glass of sweet wine, but the dry stuff? No thank you. 

Speaking of bubble baths...

I cannot describe with human words how much I hate baths. Hate is a strong word, and yet it's true. I hate everything about them. 

First of all, you spend an hour filling up the bathtub, by which time the water is cold. And if it's not cold yet, it will be five minutes after you get in. And then even IF it says hot and you manage to not get soap in your eye, what are you doing?

You're lying in a tub filled with rapidly-cooling water.
Eye level with the toilet, which, by the way, probably needs to be cleaned.

Someone explain the desire to take a bath, because I don't get it.

Staying Up Until Midnight

I could probably get a lot more done if I stayed up late. Read more blogs. Keep up with the Kardashians. Eat more cookies. You know, the important things in life.

But I like going to bed at 9:30, dang it! When I was in college I thought going to bed before 1:00 in the morning would mean I was a short fuse away from death, so I don't know what that says about me now, but whatever. It's 8:36 right now, and this grandma is getting tired.

I WISH I could stay up until midnight, and I suppose I could if I wanted to. But I don't. I really am not sure how I will have children some day, because I've heard you don't get much sleep when you're a mom. I might kill someone.

Saturday Night Live

This one might end our friendship, but I'll say it anyway. I don't think SNL is funny. 
I feel like Chandler saying he hates dogs.

The Sarah Palin bit a couple of years ago? Hilarious. Need more cow bell? Heck yes. But most of the skits that I happen to catch in passing on the off chance I am actually awake after dark I do not find funny. I can't explain why, but I just think it's dumb. I want to like it, because then I'd actually "get" all the SNL references. 

If I had a dollar for every time someone started a sentence with, "It's like that SNL skit where..." Yeah, no. Haven't seen it. And if I did, I probably didn't think it was funny. 
I think something might be wrong with me.

What about you? 
Is there anything everyone else seems to like that you just don't?

My Favorite Cold-Weather Running Gear


It sucks to run when it's hot out, but sometimes I almost prefer sweat dripping off my eyebrows to the painful tingling of frostbitten fingers. When the temperature drops, it's hard to muster the energy to get all bundled up to hit the pavement when your fuzzy socks and sweatpants are calling your name. Especially if you don't have the right clothes to keep you warm.

Since I live in Oklahoma now (I've been here 5 years, and it's still weird to say that), I can't really claim to have the freezing weather of the northern states or my Canadian friends, but the half marathon I ran in Tulsa at the end of November was 20 degrees, which is pretty dang cold no matter where you live.

As we're all (or a lot of us, anyway) in the throes of winter, I thought it would be a good time to share my favorite cold-weather running gear, the majority of which you can see in the above picture, which (sidenote) is the first and probably only official marathon picture I've ever bought! This is just as I crossed the finish line of half marathon #7 and got a 4-minute PR! I'm still not quite sure it was worth the ridiculous scam of a price tag, but I guess those photographers have to make their money somehow. I like to think I'm keeping it local.

Anyway, back to the real purpose of this post: 
What I wore to run in 20-degree weather

As I always do when I'm racing, I wore my favorite pair of running socks. Not only do I not get blisters wearing these socks (even during my marathon!), but the double layer keeps my toes warm. Or, at least as warm as they can be in twenty degrees. Which is to say, not all that warm. But really these are just freaking great socks.

*this is not me, in case you were wondering
Admittedly, I don't have much experience with leggings. My only pair before this was a pair of yoga leggings from Hollister that I got for Christmas a few years ago, because apparently Hollister is still a thing? I don't know. I was always too scared to go in there what with the darkness and the cute preppy boys and the overwhelming wave of spicy cologne.

Anyhoo, I finally decided that maybe I should by myself an actual pair of leggings specifically for running from a store that isn't managed by high schoolers. Enter: Old Navy active wear. These leggings are actually quite warm and fit really well! I love that they're tight on my legs. I'm not a loose-fitting running legging sort of girl. (I wear a size medium in these, just for reference.)

I do not. Repeat DO NOT like spending money on running clothes. I love Under Armor, but that crap is expensive, and I don't make a habit of purchasing such things for myself. However, I had a gift card to Dick's from my birthday and was on a mission to find a good long-sleeved running shirt.


So worth the price tag, in my opinion. It's got the thumb holes in the sleeves, which I love, and it's warm and fleecy feeling on the inside. The half zip was a requirement, since I hate wearing anything with a hood while running. I can't stand all the bouncing. I've actually worn this a few times just as a regular shirt, and it's awesome. (I wear a size medium in this because I want to have room for my sports bra and also a shirt underneath if I so choose.)

Nike Thermal Tech Gloves ($25--similar)
These gloves are the best! They are comfortable, warm, and easy to take on and off if I get too hot while I'm running. There's also a handy key pouch built into the palm of the glove, which would be a brilliant idea for anyone who's not me and doesn't have a car key the size of a giant.

Under Armor Headband ($20-- similar)

I couldn't find my exact headband online (and actually [full disclosure] at the moment I can't find my headband in my apartment, so that's cool), but this is pretty close. My headband definitely helps keep my ears warm, and I personally like headbands like this when I don't want to wear a full-on hat or visor. And I really do love the Under Armor brand; I just wish it weren't so expensive.
* * *

So that's what I wore! Not to say I wasn't still freezing, but once I got going it wasn't so bad. The Running Powers That Be recommend dressing for running as though it's 10-15 degrees warmer outside than it actually is. After the first 10 minutes, your body will heat up, which is why if you've ever gone to a race you see piles of clothes that runners have shed during the first few miles. Of course, if you're wearing a $55 shirt, you probably aren't going to be throwing that out.

If YOU have any cold-weather running favorites, please leave a comment! 
If there's something better I should be wearing, I want to know about it.

I'll Have a Tall Chai, Please


If you and I were meeting for coffee, the first thing I would do is order a chai tea latte because I don't like coffee.

Then we'd sit down, and I'd tell you that my new job is going great. I would say I can't believe that I actually have a job I like, where I enjoy being there. The people are so nice, and I'm really having fun. My drives to work and back really aren't so bad because for the past two months I've been listening to The Help on audiobook. Sometimes I don't even want to get out the car at the end of the drive because the book's at an exciting moment.

Then we'd take a sip of our drinks, and I'd ask you how your job is going, because talking with a friend means not only talking about yourself the whole time.

If you and I were meeting for coffee, I'd tell you that I've been having so much fun wrapping Christmas presents. My small living room is filled in what seems like every corner with cellophane and tissue paper and bags and ribbons. I love finding the perfect gift for someone. I'd really almost rather spend money buying a gift for someone else than I would for myself.

Gifts are my love language, and as much as I appreciate and understand the people who talk about the sad materialism of Christmas, I love the giving and receiving of gifts as a way to show my appreciation and affection for someone. This is one of the few times I have little concern for a budget.

Then I'd tell you about our tiny fake tree that my grandpa gave me when I moved to Oklahoma five years ago and how much I love it and the way it leans to the left. Always to the left.

If you and I were meeting for coffee, I'd tell you that I've been missing my friends. Good, long talks with girls I've been friends with for years. Girls I've been friends with since high school, since college. Girls I don't even need to talk to every day, but when we see each other, we jump right in without missing a beat. I think maybe that's the thing I hate the most about growing up. Your best friends are no longer a short drive or even a walk down the hallway away---they're across the country, even across the world.

Then I'd tell you that I'm so glad we're meeting for coffee, because it's nice to have a friend to talk to. And then I'd ask you how you're doing, what you're missing, what you're loving, if there's anything I can be praying for you about.

And we'd just sit and talk.

No phones out. No expectations.
Just two friends.
Drinking tea and talking.

What would you tell me if we went on a coffee date?

OMG so many pie charts! (aka survey results)


See that tiny orange slice between the pink and green?
That was ONE person who found this question insulting. 

I have no idea why I think it's hilarious that only one person out of one hundred and ninety-eight clicked that answer.
But I totally do.
I seriously chuckle out loud to myself every time I think about it.
It's the little things.

Considering I have done zero sponsoring in the past year, I find the fact that almost half the responders found me from another blog kind of awesome.
In other news, I had a couple of people comment that this question wasn't worded very well. 
My bad.
For one thing, I forgot BlogHer as an option, which is how a few people found me from a few features articles I've had on there. 
Also, I didn't give anyone the option of knowing me in real life but actually finding this blog some other way like Pinterest or Facebook. Imagine seeing a link on social media and realizing it's a blog of someone you know! That would be weird.
Has that ever happened to you?

A good number of you visit every day. That's so nice! 
Sorry I don't have new content for you all the time.
Speaking of new content...
Who's the 1 person who said I should post less?
Just kidding.
But seriously.

I bet the people who want me to post more often are the same people who show up here every day.
Get a life, people!
Just kidding.
But seriously.

I actually had no idea anyone got emails of new posts, so this is news to me.
What's up, email readers!

So, first of all.
There were eighteen people claiming to be my mother, which tells me that either:
a) my mother took this survey 18 times
b) you guys are all a bunch of dirty little liars

So... yeah. That's all I'm going to say about that.
(P.S. I think it's hilarious.)

I should also mention a few write-ins I got for the "other" category on the 
least favorite post question:

I am Amanda's father and refuse to choose a least favorite.
(Dad, is that you?)

I'm kind of in love with you so I like them all. Not creepy, I swear.

I could be your mom because I like all your posts!
(Oh yeah? Well I could be YOUR mom. What now.)

* * *
As you can see, I had a third more votes for the posts you liked versus the ones you don't like. You guys were probably just trying to be nice, but I'll take it! 

I actually thought these last two question were the most interesting and proved what I already knew: that you aren't going to love every single post I write. And that's okay. Really, it is. Apparently most of you do like it when I talk about marriage, which I don't do a whole lot, but I'll keep that in mind and try to add a few more marriage posts in my rotation.

You also like funny family posts, which, I mean duh. Of course you do. Except the single, lonely person who said my funny family posts are their least favorite. I think maybe you just got confused by the question. For those of you who are new around here, here are links to a few of my favorite funny family posts:

Someone wrote in that they don't like when I blog about blogging. 
I completely agree. 
What is that about? Bloggers love to read blogs about blogging. 
Me included. It's so lame. Hashtag stop the madness.

* * *
I also want to share a few of the comments you wrote in the box for "do you have anything else you want to tell me?"

*So, I realized after I posted this that I spelled "destroy" wrong. 
I'm horrified, but I'm also lazy, so it's staying that way now and forever. 
I just wanted you to know that I know.

Finally, let's have a moment of silence for the hours I spent making stupid pie charts on the internet that I'll never get back. I hope you all are happy.

Finally x2, I got some great feedback for future post ideas, so thanks for that! 
Here are a few of the ideas mentioned:

Writing tips
"Local" places/restaurants/etc.
Treadmill vs. Outdoor running
"More about your wonderful husband" (*cough*that was Jordan*cough*)
Why I love playing the violin (that one was my dad)
Staying positive through a hard time like a job transition
Marriage and family planning
How I fuel for races and training
Holiday posts
More embarrassing stories
* * *

All that and more to come in 2014!

In conclusion,
THANK YOU to the 198 people who took the time to check a few boxes and bring me much happiness. I had no idea so many people were itching to take a survey. I thought I'd get lucky with 50 responses. Mind = blown. In May I will have been blogging for four years! I'll stop before I get all nostalgic and simply say that I appreciate each and every one of you who takes time out of your day to visit and read and comment.

Until next time,
The Lady Okie

P.S. If you didn't get a chance to take the survey and want to: go here
I'll open it back up for another week or so!