Monday, February 23, 2015

Signs of Life

[Mr F and I on his 34th birthday in mid-August. Just before I basically fell off the planet.
Oh, this mustache also lives with us now.]
My last post was in August and it was about pickles. It's almost March. So much has happened in those six (+) months. Things that took precedent over my blah blah blah about Stitch Fix and random recipes and whatever else my previous posts consisted of. The purpose of this blog is to help me remember the small things that I've enjoyed along the way, but lately, living life has pretty much sucked the desire to keep up with this silly thing right outta me.

I left my job last July. A job I've had for seven years. I started working part time for our church as the Children's Pastor. A simple transition, but it was (and is) an entirely new way of life for us. My brain had to shift out of an endless cycle of full time-65,000 balls up in the air at one time-get it all done and ease into basically having time on my hands AND the ability to focus all my energy in one direction. It was amazing how many parts of "me" woke back up since I moved all of my "professional" clothing into the guest room closest and started wearing jeans every day [like the thoughtful side, the domestic side, the laid-back-laugh-at-my-husband's-shenanigans-instead-of-rolling-my-eyes-because-I-don't-have-time-side, etc]. I felt like a much better wife, friend, and human being.

The transition was basically my mid-year opportunity for a New Year's resolution type life overhaul. But just as I was supposed to be basking in my new-found part-time-employment-freedom, [like sitting around on our beautiful back deck, reading books, gardening, becoming a domestic BOSS, volunteering for various things, having leisurely coffee and lunch dates with my friends, working out regularly and being super hot, laying in the pool and sunning myself] my back forgot it was 29 and decided to behave like it was 164.75 years old.

It started out as a slight annoyance in mid June...feeling "tweaked".....but then it morphed into sciatica. I've had HORRIBLE experiences with chiropractors, so I decided to give it time to work itself out, which is the one of the dumbest things I've ever done in my entire life. Because it got worse and worse and worse and worse. And by mid-August, I was in so much pain. I couldn't sit, or stand, or lay down without pain and severe tightness in my hips/lower back/sciatic nerve. I couldn't lay down and relax...there wasn't a way to get away from the pain. It was constant and it consumed my brain. I couldn't sleep in bed and the only position that would "work" was basically sitting upright in the fetal position, on our couch, leaning to the left against an incredibly specific placement of pillows. This allowed me to sleep for an hour or so, before I had to get up and try to work out the stiffness. I slept in hour increments, getting about four to five hours each night. I took ibuprofen constantly (WAY beyond the suggested max daily dose) to try to control the inflammation but it would wear off after an hour or two, leaving another hour or two before I was "allowed" to take another does. After a few weeks of this (and spending an entire day SOBBING), Mr. F insisted that I go to the doctor for pain pills or a cortisone shot. ANYTHING.

Which is where I found out that I couldn't have a cortisone shot. Or pain pills. And I couldn't take ibuprofen anymore. Because I happened to be about four weeks pregnant [apparently my body has to be severely stressed and uncomfortable to be a hospitable environment for baby-growing].  I cried. Such amazing news but at the same time not the best news for a girl desperate for pain management options.

I finally broke down and decided to try a new chiropractor (who is AMAZING, by the way) in late August and he told me that my pelvis was so twisted that one of my legs was an inch shorter than the other. He couldn't do an x-ray to find out exactly what was going on (thanks, Baby) but he was pretty certain that there were herniated discs involved. He had to adjust my pelvis/hips/S.I. joint/L3, L4, L5 every time I went. I went three times/week for about three months and couldn't take ANYTHING to control the pain except for Tylenol (thanks again, Baby) and Tylenol doesn't touch inflammation. Like, at all. It's kind of a cruel joke. But then my OBGYN approved a cortisone shot at my first appointment, and I could have kissed her square on the mouth. It took the edge off of the inflammation and just that small "yes" was movement in the direction of feeling normal again...feeling like something could be done and a reminder that I wouldn't be in that much pain forever. I spent mid-June through mid-October basically living on the couch in the most pain I've ever experienced. And, because I was in my first trimester during most of it, I was exhausted, nauseous, and cried all.the.time. (Mr. F qualifies for sainthood).

 After a month of going to the chiropractor with what seemed like no improvement at all, several women from our church came over several times/week to pray for me. And once that started happening, there was finally noticeable improvement. Every two weeks or so, there would be some sort of relief. First, Tylenol started helping. Then, I was able to move back to sleeping in the bed. Then I could sleep in four hour increments (taking Tylenol). Then I was able to make it through the day without taking Tylenol until it was time for bed. And then I was able to stop taking Tylenol completely. And I could walk without pain. Then I could sit without pain. I could sleep through the night. I could finally lay on my back again. I could ENJOY laying in bed, relaxing. I could ENJOY being pregnant. I could bend over and touch my toes (that probably won't last much longer, but that's because there's a person in the way).

Since mid-October, my second trimester and [thus far into my] third trimester have been all sorts of heavenly. I forget that I'm pregnant sometimes. Until she moves and I catch a glimpse of my bulging mid-section. We're even back to our usual, busy pace:

  • We went to Colorado in October to celebrate our 6th anniversary. We went on a short-long hike (as in, it was short, but it took a while because I was still moving pretty slowly because of being on the couch for three+ months) in RMNP. We got to hang out with my BFF from college, her husband, and her baby bump and we visited my old college stomping grounds. 
  • I got to "do" Thanksgiving preggo (basically eating the same amount that I do every year but with way less guilt). 
  • We flew to AZ to surprise my brother for Christmas (SUCCESS!). 
  • We spent a weekend in Dallas visiting my family and went to IKEA to get stuff for the nursery.
Now I'm prepping for being gone from work once the baby comes, getting her room ready (it's a girl), and keeping an eye on the scale to make sure she's the only one getting fatter. I'm hoping that I get to go to Colorado again with Mr. F (the band he plays in has a house concert that they're playing) in a couple weeks so I can meet my college BFF's ridiculously adorable baby in real life. I'm making a list of things I'd like to get done before our girl shows up (getting the garden ready for planting, getting some house projects done, etc.) and I'm getting ready for baby showers. 

I'm not sure if I'll pick up posting more regularly again or not, but I thought this season warranted a post. As hard as it is to believe, I may not remember it very well in a few years. And I want to remember how awful it was but that it didn't last forever. And I want to remember how much good was in the midst of all the mess. I was loved well, the church was the church, and we're about to be parents.

[College BFF, coffee, and a couple baby bumps at Union Station in Denver.
Mine was still in the "is that girl pregnant or pudgy?" phase.] 
[Enjoying a Azteca D'Oro Mexican Spiced Hot Chocolate with two shots of [decaf] espresso,  and coconut syrup from the coffee shop where I worked during college.]
[Pink icing. It's a girl!]
[Pre-pregnancy, I had kicked the soda habit for the most part. Now, I crave coke. Like, walk to the store when the roads are covered in snow because I NEED one kind of craving.
I'm sorry, Baby Girl. Mama is trying to quit. But to be fair, it's also kind of your fault.
[Me, my Baby Daddy, and Mustache.]
[See you in a couple months, Baby Girl!]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pickles, Hold the Vinegar

This post is late. But I made pickles. I learned this method/recipe from a fabulous woman that lives in our antique town who knows how to do all sorts of stuff that my great grandmother would have done on a daily basis (i.e. milk cows, use every single part of a chicken, make butter, make cheese, basically homestead the crap out of everything) and loves to teach younger women how to do it all. 





*Please Note: This is hit and miss, so, as with most how-tos on the internet, please use good judgement...if the pickles smell or taste weird-DO NOT EAT THEM. 


grape leaves (whatever it is that makes pickles crunchy occurs naturally in the grape leaf)
2 quarts of purified water
bunch of fresh dill
1/4 C pickling salt
4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
little cucumbers

1. Pour in purified water and mix in the pickling salt (regular salt makes the pickles mushy...ew)
2. Line the bottom of a large jar with grape leaves (wash the leaves first)
3. Cut the ends (just the tips) off of the cucumbers and put them in the brine (doing this first helps hold the grape leaves down because they like to float up)
4. Peel and gently mash garlic cloves and add them to the brine
5. Chop the ends of the stems off of the dill and break the stems in several places, releasing the fragrance. Chop a little, then add the chopped dill and the bunch with broken stems to the brine
6. Make sure the future-pickles are covered by the brine (use a bowl or something weighted if needed to keep them submerged) and cover top of container with cheesecloth or thin dish towel and leave them out on the counter, out of the sun for at least three days (naturally extremes in temperature are not good for this process)
7. There will be "scum" that grows on top of the brine...scoop it out each day
8. On the third day, if you prefer a more cucumbery flavored pickle, after you scoop off the "scum," your pickles are ready. You can slice them or leave them whole. If you prefer a more pickle flavored pickle, just leave them in the brine for a couple more days. (I do five days total but then the "scum" starts to really sick me out and I can't take it any longer). 

Comment below with any questions or let me know how yours turn out!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Farewell


As I mentioned in a previous post, I am leaving the wonderful job that I've had for the past seven years. In fact, today is my last day. My boss has always said that he hopes that anyone who works here looks back on the job as the best one they have ever had, and in many ways, I think it's going to be hard to top.

This job has been fabulous...I've been working for the BEST university in the entire world-a private Christian University in NWA [I drank the Koolaid, ya'll-even though I don't work there anymore, I'm pretty sure I'll never stop recruiting] and I think I could have stayed forever. But in July of 2013,  I felt like the Lord told me that this would be my last year working in the admissions office. 

My "job" was basically to serve people...help students and parents figure out the whole college thing....and I often found myself in the middle of helping them figure out very difficult parts of their lives, like adjusting to college life after the loss of a parent, or balancing school and taking care of a baby as a single parent. Or making difficult financial decisions. 

I have seen the best in people, the worst of people, and found myself in some pretty ridiculous situations. I had a mom tell me with pride that her son had broken up with his girlfriend because she put his hand on her boob (he was sitting right next to her and this was the first time I had met either of them). I had a dad yell at me for a good half hour because his daughter's ACT score wasn't high enough for an academic scholarship. I had a mom make a quilt for me when she found out I was getting married. I was promised homemade salsa grown out of a family's garden [I later prayed that they would forget to deliver on their promise after they told me what they use in their compost pile. That prayer was answered]. I had a parent send me a plant after her son closed his application to attend another university. I had a man call to talk about going back to college and subsequently tell me that "I looked like a girl who wore my hair up during the day and let it down for her man at night." I had a student take off his shirt in the cathedral during a tour to show me his tattoo and his mom spent quite a long time touching his fleshy back explaining the meaning of each image to me (it reminded me of bread dough). I've had baked goods galore show up on my desk from parents after new-student move-in. I've read some of the most bizarre essays on the planet and seen some email addresses that were clearly not thought through before creation. So many things that I remember and even more that I've forgotten. I basically missed the opportunity to write a very entertaining book. 

As cliche as it sounds, I can't even begin to describe the blessings that I have experienced working there. And the people that I've worked with really are like a second family. There is a lot of turnover admissions offices in general, but in a rare stroke of luck, I've worked with the same group of people for two years in a row. Of all the teams I worked with over the past seven years, this one was THE.BEST by far.

A month or so ago, we all got together for a going away dinner since several of us are leaving...one going off to Duke for grad school, one moving to Tennessee, on starting a teaching career, and me moving into children's ministry at our church [talk about the Lord using the least likely...but that's another story entirely]. There are several little traditions that we have when saying goodbye, like hanging our desk name plate and magnetic name tag from the ceiling (yes, it looks horrible) but this group of my favorites got creative on me. Since I lasted seven years (5 years past the normal "life-span" in admissions), they decided to do something a little more elaborate. As a farewell, they surprised me and all got tattoos. 

I've always had a hard time closing the door on a good season and throwing myself completely into the next. And the past seven years has been a particularly amazing season. But, as impossible as it may seem in the transition, I have to remember that there has yet to be a new season that hasn't been better than the last. 




Sunday, July 6, 2014

Projects


We've lived in our antique house for six years and besides putting the privacy fence around the back yard and painting a few rooms, we haven't really done much to it. Apparently we're trying to make up for lost time because we've had my dad slaving away over the past couple of months (hello tax refund), knocking out projects left and right. He single-handedly built us a beautiful new deck, put a fence around the garden, fixed a hole in our front porch, and replaced half our roof (Mr. F did help with the roof..... #mancard ). 

Long story short-my dad is a stud (and the one responsible for the most popular post on this blog thanks to google image searches and pinterest pins.)


This project frenzy may have something to do with the fact that I'm leaving my full time position of the last seven years in a little over one week (one week-good grief). I'm trying to get a bunch of stuff done before we have to adjust to a smaller income. We've worked on paying off our debts the past few years (we're not done but we're close enough) and because of that, we can live on less. And I'd like to do things a little bit differently than we have. We may have a smaller income, but I'll have more TIME. And with that time, I have plans (I'm excited to kick off said plans with a much-needed deep cleaning and organizing of our antique house). There are plans to work out regularly. To learn how to sew. To volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center. To spend less-rushed time with my friends. Plans to spend more time in the Word. To clog up the world wide web with more blog posts. More time cooking. More time doing the things that I feel like I was built to do. More time being me. 

I'm sure I've romanticized it but I'm convinced that I'll be a better version of myself than I've been in a long, long time-a better representative of Jesus, a better wife, a better sister, a better friend, etc. -but the bottom line is that I'm so thankful for this new season. I've been given a gift-and I can't wait to live it. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tip: Mascara

I think the cosmetic gurus suggest replacing your mascara every three to four months. Hygiene. I get it. I typically just wait until it's so clumpy that it's not usable before I'll replace it. Because I'm lazy (and by cosmetic guru standards completely gross). I use 'Big Sexy' by Urban Decay, and it's $20/tube. If I replaced it as often as suggested, I'd spend $80/year on mascara, which isn't that much in the grand scheme, but kind of ridiculous at the same time.

So, I stretch it. Heat up some water, drop your mascara tube in, and wait a few seconds. BOOM. No more clumps. Mascara-life expectancy just doubled.



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Relationship With Tequila


It all started when my friend Melissa sent me a text that read: "How do you feel about tequila?" 

I mean.....

---
I didn't drink in high school or college (except for the time that I spontaneously went to Mexico with some friends during Spring Break of my freshman year -without my passport- and I had a tequila sunrise) and I hadn't really worked out my feelings. So, Melissa and I went to a tequila tasting going on at a local restaurant that would help tequila and I have the DTR that had been postponed due to my rule-following-adolescence (again-with the exception of that Mexico thing...that was really out of character for me...Oh, hey Mom and Dad! Did I ever tell you about that? Whoops)

[fish tacos]
[chile rellano]
[mole rabbit tamale] LAWDY, LAWDY this was delicious.
[layered popsicle]
---
In the end, I didn't learn anything I didn't already suspect. Food and I are BFF. FF. FF. FF. 
Tequila and I? I mean, I don't hate it and I don't love it. It exists. I exist. We occasionally travel in the same social circles, and I'll politely nod in acknowledgement, but that's about it.
That was one heckuva DTR.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Should There Be Recipes for Salad?


I feel weird about posting a salad recipe. I mean, you just put a bunch of stuff that you like together and eat it. So, here is a list of things that I like to put together and eat:

Lettuce (Spinach in my preference, but Spring Mix will work)
Feta Cheese
Raspberries
Blackberries
Almonds (or pecans)
Brianna's Poppy Seed Dressing

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Backroads

Small towns.
Delicious burgers and shakes.
Beautiful scenery.
Sometimes it's more fun to take the backroads.




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The One With Vacation and My Creepy Hair

Mr F. and I just got back from a trip to Arizona to visit my brother and his family. It was a great trip-naturally over too soon-and I somehow didn't end up with very many pictures [or a single picture of my beautiful sister in law. Or Mr F. and I together]. Evidence of a good time, I guess. 

---
  1. As we were sitting in the airport waiting to board our plane to AZ, we got a FaceTime call from my SIL. I recently got a haircut and decided to get bangs. This was new for my four year old nephew, so after talking for a few minutes, my nephew asked, "Annie, why is your hair so creepy?" Given the picture above, he has a point. But, the bangs are gonna stick around for a bit. 
  2. We spent the first two days and one night at the Sheraton Wild Horse Hotel and Spa. Time by the pool. Sleeping in. A couples massage at the spa. A pedicure for me. Food and drink on demand. Started vacation off well. [We did have a ridiculous experience at a restaurant at the resort, Ko'Sin. Aside from the horrible food that we waited an hour and a half for and the alarmingly sweaty manager we talked to, the waiter carefully put full place settings in front of all of us. Including my nephew and my almost-two-year-old niece. FULL place settings. As in, SHARP STEAK KNIVES in front of children. We couldn't stop laughing. It was all so bizarre.]
  3. THE FOOD. My SIL is a fantastic cook and there were so.many.restaurants there. A few favorites were The Keg, Joe's Farm Grill, Maricopa Taco Stand, and naturally, we got our In & Out Fix. Mr F. really loved Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. It was red meat and carbohydrate week on accident. Carne Asada Tacos. Steak and potatoes. Burgers and fries. [I picked up a sinus infection on the way home and had to go to the doctor...where I was weighed. DO NOT WEIGH PEOPLE AFTER VACATION, DOCTORS! IT SHOULD BE A LAW.]
  4. Nephew and niece time. I cannot get enough of these kids. They call me "Annie" and Mr F. "Uncles." It's the cutest thing in the world. Also, now, when anyone references 'Frozen,' Wreck it Ralph,' 'Monsters University,' or 'Despicable Me 2' we'll know what they're talking about. 
  5. Family time. Aside from my brother, SIL, and the kids, we got to see my Aunt LaNora and my cousins and their families. My heart is full [and hopefully still healthy despite the accidental red meat week and my summer of McDonalds cheeseburgers.]






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sometimes I Move My Body

Exercise.

Sometimes, I feel motivated. Not motivated enough to actually eat well for an entire day or leave my house after getting home from work to go to the gym, but motivated enough to roll out the mini-trampoline and pop in my new (to me) Tracy Anderson Total Body Mini-Trampoline Workout DVD (available on TA's site or amazon).

Mini-trampolines can totally be en vogue. It's not all leg warmers, scrunchies, and leotards. This, my friends, is the year of our Lord 2014.

Before getting into the jumping, the workout starts out with a quick pep talk and some stretching followed by a routine that uses the mini-trampoline for stability during leg and ab exercises.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pros:
  • 51 (ish) minutes of non-stop moving (well, at least she's moving the whole time...I needed frequent "water drinking/breath catching breaks" but hopefully that will improve over time)
  • Working out AT HOME. I can dress how I want and spaz out as needed. 

Cons:
  • She doesn't talk you through the exercises or the transitions, you just have to watch and hope that you're getting the moves right.
  • I need a mini-trampoline that is a little less mini.
 ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Honestly, I had to tell myself not to stress out trying to match her move for move the first couple of times. Give myself some time to learn the routine and build up my endurance for the 1.6 million leg lifts that she does prior to actual bouncing-on-the-trampoline-time.

Bottom line: I was plum WORN OUT when I was done. It's a keeper. It met my standard for being added to my own "sometimes-motivated-to-work-out-at-home" collection-I didn't hate it.