Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Growing Up

Last week I had a big birthday. I turned (mumble)-ty. I can't say I've been looking forward to this birthday, necessarily, but I have been doing my best to proactively come to terms with the end of my youth (I'm not at all overdramatic)--Sometimes I even managed to forget that I wasn't yet my new age. I'm not really sure why this birthday seemed so ominous, but it did, for several months. And then serendipity placed this video in my RSS reader and I happened to come across it during my lunch hour on my birthday. Gaining another year isn't so bad, especially if I think of all of the cool things to come (and it's certainly better than the alternative, as my Grandpa used to say).


What does being lovely mean to me?

L- Being Likable. There are some people that are so friendly and kind that you like they automatically when you meet them. Be that person!
O- Being Open and Optimistic. Keep yourself open to new experiences and new friends. Be optimistic that life is generally good.
V- Knowing the true Value of yourself and others. We devalue ourselves and other so often with excuses and criticisms. You are worth every pound you weigh! Show yourself and others the true value of each person.
E- Having Empathy. Give others a break. We've all been there before and we know it's hard, so cut others (and yourself) some slack for when they aren't at their best.
L- Laughter. Learn to laugh at yourself and to laugh with others. Laughter is great medicine and kind brighten any day.
Y- Being Young in heart. It doesn't matter how old you are on the outside, but how old you are on the inside. Many people in their eighties say they are really a twenty year old soul stuck in an eighty year old body. Children are great examples- they are care free, happy, love to play and have fun, and they love people unconditionally. We should be child-like and young in heart, and lovely.

Monday, April 29, 2013

GIVEAWAY: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

“It's about living in the moment and appreciating the smallest things. Surrounding yourself with the things that inspire you and letting go of the obsessions that want to take over your mind. It is a daily struggle sometimes and hard work but happiness begins with your own attitude and how you look at the world.” --Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project is a memoir of a year in Gretchen Rubin’s life. Gretchen lives with her husband and two daughters in New York City. She loves her family, her job, her life, but she isn’t quite as happy as she should be. She decides to change her attitude by taking steps to help her appreciate life more.

When I finished The Happiness Project I had to resist the urge to buy a plane ticket to New York, locate Gretchen Rubin, and beg her to be my friend. This book changed my life.

It’s not that her book suggests anything earth shattering, but she presents her ideas in such a way that shifted my perspective. I found myself highlighting whole paragraphs, sharing quotes on facebook, calling friends and family to get their take on a philosophy, and giving my own perspective a makeover.  She does insane amounts of research on happiness philosophies, outlines a plan, and sets worthy, reasonable goals that are (mostly) small steps in achieving happiness now.

Along her journey, she discovers her Secrets of Adulthood, many of which I found to be very true, and I try to remember them in my day to day interactions. Here are some that resonated with me:

·         The days are long, but the years are short.
·         It’s okay to ask for help.
·         You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you LIKE to do.
·         Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.
·         What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
·         You don’t have to be good at everything.
·         It’s important to be nice to EVERYONE.
·         You know as much as most people.
·         Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
·         What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you — and vice versa.
·         If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.
·         No deposit, no return.

Gretchen is very intelligent, yet so down to earth. She keeps the narrative interesting and is an excellent writer. She is honest about her failures and missteps, yet she never gives up saying, “Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail, but every day is a clean slate and a fresh opportunity.” 

I felt happier reading this book. I appreciated my family more and I was happy to serve them. I took some things more seriously, and some things less seriously. I played more. I worked more. 

The theme of this book is basically being happy no matter what your circumstance is in the moment. It’s about accepting yourself, flaws and all, finding the good within your life, and changing your perspective if you fail to do those things. I loved it so much, I want to give YOU a free copy. Enter the giveaway below and start your own happiness project! What made you happy today?

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Screen-Free Week: A Pledge

A couple of months ago, I got a smart phone. And it is great. But I kind of always have this nagging feeling that it has taken over my life, and I haven't quite figured out what to do about it.

The other night I was reading an article on Power of Moms about Screen Free Week, which is next week, April 29th-May 5th. My daughter isn't old enough to have any screen time really, but I started thinking about my own screen time, and suddenly I really wanted to participate. At first I thought, "But I can't do that, because I don't really watch things on TV (just on Netflix and Hulu) and I need my phone and computer for . . ." I started thinking about the things I actually NEED to use my screens for, and I realized that compared to the number of things I actually use them for, the number is small.

For screen-free week, kids are asked to give up ALL recreational screen time. They are allowed to use the computer when it's necessary for their homework assignments, and that's it.  My husband said he would go no screen with me, but his job relies very heavily on using a computer, so he'll just eliminate all extraneous screen use. For me, that's a little squishier, so I'm setting some specific limits according to the things that are "needs," sort of.
  1. I can keep this blog running by checking once in the morning to make sure posts go up, and once in the evening to make sure posts are scheduled for the next day. I will probably ask one of the other contributors to take care of the blog promotion via facebook and pinterest. I should limit this time to half an hour or less total for the day.
  2. I can send picture messages of CB to her grandparents, else they will suffer serious withdrawals. Other pictures and videos I want to take of her need to be done with my camera to keep my phone from being a constant temptation in my hand.
  3. I can check my email once a day to make sure I don't miss anything time-sensitive and essential, and I can reply to things that fall into those categories. 
  4. I can answer text messages, but not initiate long text conversations just because I'm bored. 
Here are some of the things I want to do during the week (which I am listing now so I won't suffer withdrawals and wonder what to do with my life.
  • Organize my closet and ditch the clothes I no longer wear because they are from my freshman year of college.
  • Use the fabric I've been saving and sew myself a bag from one of the bags I have pinned on pinterest (print before the week begins). 
  • Make the Mother's Day presents I've been wanting to make for my mom and mother-in-law.
  • Go to the library and check out books for myself and CB.
  • Start a new book to fill the hole left by my recently finished Malcolm Gladwell book.
  • Cook something new and exciting.
  • Finish getting the spare room ready for our home-stay Korean student, who will be here in a week.
  • Go for lots of walks.
  • Listen to more music and podcasts while working on things (rather than sticking the TV on in the background.) 
  • Finish/start my spring cleaning.
  • Spend time at the park with my husband and baby.
When I finish, I'm going to write a post about it, so look forward to that. And if you want to join me, you'd better tell me now before I unplug! 

It's Friday!

Whether you've had a crappy week and are praising the gods that it's finally over, or you're just feeling that good old TGIF glow, there is probably no better way to start your weekend than with the 30 happiest facts of all time. Don't believe me? Check out fact number fifteen:

Baby puffins are called "pufflings".

If you're ever looking for something fantastic to read, A Mighty Girl has an excellent collection of books starring—you guessed it—mighty girls. Princesses who do something besides wait in a tower to be rescued... Isn't that a lovely change?

And speaking of mighty girls... When you need to feel inspired, read the story of thirteen-year-old Marisa Martinez, who stopped a man from kidnapping her eight-year-old neighbor.

No dire warnings about the looming swimsuit season here; in fact, this meme might actually make me want to put on a swimsuit. It's an internet miracle.

If you'd like something brilliant to follow on Twitter, check out #EdgyHeadlines, which draw attention to media sexism by writing about men the way the media writes about women.

And if you have some driving or housework in front of you today, bust out iTunes (or click here) to introduce yourself to one of my new favorite podcasts. Stuff Mom Never Told You is a sister podcast to Stuff You Should Know, which is one of my other favorite podcasts. I submit that between these shows, you will never find people who are better at making absolutely anything utterly fascinating.

Want to paint your nails, but your regular polish just isn't nerdy enough for you today? Try literary nail art.

Finally, eight characters from television and movies you'll never believe were based on real people. (Spoiler/enticement to click over: One of them is Edna Mode. Yes. I'm serious.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to throw a party with Pinterest

I'm just going to come right out and say it.  I love throwing a party.  I'm using the term "party" in the broadest sense.  Gatherings, get togethers, movie nights, brunches, birthdays, book clubs, shindigs, etc. etc. etc. I love cooking and crafting and entertaining people.

Of course, with the introduction of Pinterest, my party-throwing desire has grown exponentially.  Any time a party is upcoming, I scour my Pinterest boards to find something new and fun to make.  After all, the point of Pinterest is not to just pin interesting things, but to use the pins to your best advantage.  Yes, sometimes you end up with this:

But most of the time you end up with pure awesomeness.  Or at least something kind of great that everyone is impressed you even attempted.

Using one of my most recent parties (my nephew's fifth birthday party with The Lorax theme), here is my guide to using Pinterest to its fullest potential to make all your friends think you are a domestic goddess who can fail at nothing.

1.  Start out simple. 

Work within your wheelhouse before you expand and try new things.  Horse before the cart and all that jazz.  It's tempting to go above and beyond on your first project, but if you can't bake, maybe intricately designed cupcakes are not going to happen for you, no matter how easy the tutorial claims to be.  My sister gets the credit for this one:

Super simple.  There is nothing above and beyond in the process of making this happen (unless, like my sister and me, you are a perfectionist who agonizes over the littlest of details, but that is a post for another time) and the finished product is impressive and whimsical.

2. Think about the money. 

I would also group time in with this.  When you are planning a party, you want to enjoy the party yourself and you don't want to be a crazy person making intricate party favors every night after work or during that oh-so-precious-and-elusive toddler nap time.  When you are scanning pins, look at the directions thoroughly to gauge how much time and money you will realistically spend on the project.  If it's high on your priority list, that will factor in as well, but I'm telling you now, party favors and activities for 5-year-olds should never be high on the priority list.  They will not appreciate handmade things, they will find the shiniest thing in the bag and immediately find a way to make that thing a magic wand or light saber.  Or they will eat it.  Edible or not.

As you can see, I also "simplified" this photo.  I don't have one of all the pencils finished and looking cute. 

See the potential I squandered? Tutorial found here.

I simplified this project based on time and the resources available to me.  I had yellow and black paint (the trunks are yellow in the book anyway) and I didn't really completely cover the pencil with the yellow, just gave it a quick once over to hide the engraving.  I removed the erasers to make the gluing easier, and used the puff balls we already purchased for another project instead of getting the felted wool. All in all I spent about $6 and had 12 favors, with the extras to be used in other party projects, and it took me about 30 minutes total to finish. 

3. Try new things, but always remember steps 1 and 2. 

When you do branch out and try something that looks a little more difficult, always remember the first two steps mentioned.  Your product just needs to look good, not like the picture-perfect version on Pinterest.  Think of every tutorial as a recipe, there will always be room for substitutions, additions and subtractions.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to read through the tutorial so you know exactly what you are getting yourself into before you start.  Of course, even when doing this, you can end up spending more time and energy and money then you intended, but that also comes down to priorities.  For this I give you cupcakes:

Tutorial found here.

I saw these cupcakes and thought, "That won't be hard! You just stick the cotton candy to the straw and you're in business!"  Guys. STICK the COTTON CANDY to the STRAW.  I am an insane person. That is not an easy thing to accomplish.  The cupcakes are from a box and the icing was a quick homemade version we love, I made the characters out of foam and cut out coloring pages (there are no Lorax figurines on this planet).  But man, those Truffula Trees gave me a run for my money.  I ended up buying three times the amount of cotton candy I needed, including an extra trip to Wal-mart 30 minutes before the party guests arrived, and I spent the better part of an hour figuring out how to make the cotton candy stay on the straw.  Water melts it and molding it too tight makes it look dumb.  But, I made enough for each of the kids to get one and in the end, they looked so cool, I was happy to go through the effort.  The birthday boy was especially impressed and grateful.  He later wrote me a song thanking me and professing his love for me.  So really, that's all that matters.

And as a little bonus, this is the craft we did with the kids during the party:

This was a quick, easy project for the kids and a fairly popular pin from Babble.  Puff balls, string, glue and printed cardstock. Inexpensive and a fun activity during the party.

 And, of course, the birthday boy with his straw mustache.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Confessions of a Kitchen Klutz: How it Began

Editor's note: this is the first in what will be a series of Kitchen Klutz stories from Zaissa, as part of our larger Confessions series. Enjoy!

If it couldn't be microwaved, ordered, or pushed through a little window into our car, we didn't need it. That was our family motto when I was growing up. Our family was made up of an only child and a single mother, so logistically, this was reasonable.

So by the time I left home, my entire cooking repertoire consisted of this:  I could make really good cheesy scrambled eggs.

My other impediment to cooking is that I have a rebellious sort of character. Unfortunately it's paired with the fact that my only real passion is laziness. The result of which is that I am laziness revolutionary; the sort of person who would throw a pot away if scrubbing it were going to require more than 10 minutes of real shoulder work, which occasionally is a problem with really good cheesy scrambled eggs.

Rebellious and passionately lazy people are willing to rebelliously cut corners at great personal or financial risk. We will even put our dignity on the line if, in the end, we think there is a chance the gain is that we will have to do less stuff we don’t like doing.  This disposition sometimes has interesting results when following a recipe.

Over the last few years, as part of this adventure I embarked on called “learning to cook and bake things people will eat” I have made some discoveries about which corners can and which corners absolutely cannot be cut.

But I have gotten ahead of myself. I am going to go back to the beginning of it all.

As a young newlywed I was a full time student, with a full time job, and I was planning on a full time career. I warned him I would not learn to cook. And, this worked fine for the duration of my first marriage. We remained childless for a good while and when we were blessed with the pitter-patter of little feet, it was just the one set of them. And she was a huge fan of cereal, fruit, and cheesy scrambled eggs.

However, for non-kitchen related reasons (I assume) I found myself divorced and on my own at 30.

I had a lovely little apartment that had plush carpet, and a large—and, I am told, full of first-rate applianceskitchen of my own. I had, other than my own, only one mouth to feed, which I did well enough with fresh sliced veggies, fruits, cereal, a little lunch meat and bread, and of course, cheesy eggs.

Fast forward once more, I am happy to report the opportunity to live in wedded bliss with my soulmate enticed me away from my plush carpet and large, to me at the time, useless kitchen. In a whirlwind, the mouth count went up by one tiny perfect mouth. And just as we were recovering from the shock, we learned it would be going up by yet another.

My mother, who lived in another state, called me one day, while I was home and about to burst out my third child into the world, and  suggested, as she had multiple times before, that fast food was not going to cut it forever with a family of soon-to-be five, and that for the health of all of them and myself, I needed to learn to prepare meals at home, and probably buy groceries too, and she also suggested I get a haircut, because evidently in my most recent blog post of family photos I was looking “kind of ragged.”

I believe that with this phone call though, she was staging an intervention.

She demanded I go to the kitchen and get a casserole pan of some specified size. I snapped a photo on my cell phone of a long, rectangular, glass bowl thing I found in the cupboard that I had had for years and I text messaged the image to her. She said it would do.

Then she told me to turn on the oven to some temperature, which I did, after checking inside of it, where at that point in my life I sometimes stored things like extra plates or cups that didn’t fit any place else.

As instructed I then opened the freezer and found the meat she assured me she put in there on her last visit. For about 30 minutes I read the names of spices I had on hand (though had no idea where they came from) and chopped and arranged things into the pan as instructed, step-by-step. I did things with tin foil, and seasoning, and spoons until she instructed me to put the pan in the oven. And set the timer.

And when it beeped, from the oven came something I had never (ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever) pulled from the oven before. It was a family meal. For a while, I think my husband and I just stared at it. Of course we had had proper meals before, each of us, him at home growing up, and me, at extended family occasions – but never with our little family, not in our little home.

Something about that moment lit a spark. I think it must be akin to what a young wizard feels at Hogwarts on his first day if his first spell works. Like, he’s seen this stuff before, sure, but actually making it is, well, magic. And the first time you perform magic is, even if you live in a world where it’s all around you, nothing shy of empowering … titillating … amazing!

And so it began. I resolved that I would become competent—nay, GREAT in the kitchen.

My first attempt at cookies was days later. Without technical support from my mother by phone the attempt ended with these little mounds that were kinda heavy and exploded into a sugary dust upon impact of any surface they were propelled at. It turned out, that particular use was the most enjoyment anyone got out of them.

I’ve gotten better.

I have made some terrifying mistakes along the way.

Sometimes my shortcuts pay off.

Substitution has often been the mother of invention.

 I have learned some hard lessons.

And I have made some hard pastries. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Babies, Dogs, and Laughter: A Perfect Tuesday Distraction

Because it's Tuesday and babies and dogs and baby hiccups are adorable and we can all use a little adorable in our lives right about now, I give you "Baby laughing hysterically at Old English Sheepdog."

Fred Rogers: Teaching me to be a neighbor

TV was a carefully rationed treat when I was growing up. But an exception was made for Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which I could watch every day. What parent wouldn't want their child learning about kindness, gentleness, tolerance? What other TV persona could soothe fears ranging from the shower drain sucking me into it to the scariness of what to do when I got angry? There are few television shows that I have continued watching from childhood to present day, but this is one of them. The more I learn about Fred Rogers, the more I respect him and hope that my life can reflect his spirit; I hope that the young people in my life can see some of the facets of Rogers' life and values in my interactions. Perhaps most importantly, I hope that it's clear what I believe in and that I clearly reflect my beliefs and values in the way I live. From what I understand about Fred Rogers, he lived what he taught.

I love this video by John Green (also linked under the photo) that showcases Rogers because it's told with Green's typical humor, but I also learned even more about the man on the TV who has been such an influence. I learned, for example, that Fred Rogers:
  • Religiously practiced self-care and the discipline of slowing down: insisting that the stoplight featured in the opening sequence always be yellow as a reminder to slow down, playing piano and swimming when he felt overwhelmed and praying for hours each morning
  • Showed genuine interest in the journalists and taxi drivers who worked with him, listening to their life stories, and following up with them later; he also responded to every letter from fans
  • Was known for being authentically himself both on and off the show, modeling kindness, and standing firm for causes he believed were important
I don't want to put Mr. Rogers on a pedestal; I know he was human, and I also know he wouldn't like being on a pedestal anyway. But I do want to recognize the power of discerning what's really important to us--and then learning how to faithfully incorporate the things that we hold are core and sacred into our lives. For me, Fred Rogers was one such person who managed to model authenticity and both knowing and living core values. 

Photo by KUHT [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Who inspires you? What gives you life and energy and make your soul dance? And perhaps equally importantly, how can you reflect your values and the best of your core identity to those in your  neighborhood?

Monday, April 22, 2013

6 Nonfiction Books about Strong Girls

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough

As someone who works in a library and takes my son to many children's programs there, I loved reading about the librarian who helped make it all possible. Anne Carroll Moore became a librarian at the Pratt Free Library soon after the first library room designed specifically for children was opened. She implemented many changes to make libraries more kid-friendly and also wrote what is likely the first book list for children's book recommendations.

"She urged the librarians to take down the SILENCE signs and spend time talking with children and reading them stories. She wrote book reviews and made book lists to help parents, librarians, and teachers find good books for children- and to encourage book publishers to publish better children's books."

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel

Like many others, I learned briefly about the beginning of unions and the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in a school history class, but I don't remember being taught about Clara Lemlich. She was an immigrant girl employed at the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist factory who proposed a strike at a mass meeting. Her words led to 20,000 garment factory workers walking out in protest. By the end of the strike, hundreds of garment factory bosses agreed to allow unions, shorten the work week, and raise salaries. This book does a great job of simplifying things without minimizing the importance of the story.

"And the strike convinces Clara to keep fighting for the rights of workers. Her throat is hoarse, her feet are sore, but she has helped thousands of people. Proving that in America, wrongs can be righted, warriors can wear skirts and blouses, and the bravest hearts may beat in girls only five feet tall."

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone

Sometimes judging a book by its cover is a good thing. After seeing this whimsical cover and title on display at my library, I immediately snatched it up. This book is about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to graduate from medical school.  It tells Blackwell's story and teaches children how allowing women to attend medical school and become doctors has made our world a better place.

"I'll bet you've met plenty of doctors in your life. And I'll bet lots of them were women. Well, you might find it hard to believe, but there was once a time when girls weren't allowed to become doctors."

Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo

I learned about this book when it was nominated for Utah's 2013 Beehive Book Awards. This book is beautifully illustrated and gives a wonderful look into the life of a woman who was so much more than just a pretty face.

"Audrey often played characters who went through some kind of transformation, both inside and out. But in real life, Audrey always knew just who she was, and just where she had come from."

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming

Like Just Being Audrey, this book was a Beehive nominee. I wish this book had been around when I was a young girl. I had such a fascination with Amelia Earhart and could never find anything that expanded beyond the very basics of her story. Fleming writes about Earhart's life and disappearance in alternating chapters, including interesting tidbits from people who claimed to hear her radio signals.

"Amelia was excellent at math- even if she did refuse to show her work. "Why bother to write out the steps if I can deduce the answer in my head?" she asked. Wrote her obviously exasperated third-grade teacher, Miss Walton, "Amelia's mind is brilliant, but she listens to another drummer."

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland

I am amazed at the treasures one can find in a library, like this fun biography of Julia Child in graphic novel form. I love her story for many reasons. She broke cultural norms (such as marrying later in life and never having children) while still making a connection with women and mothers across America.
This book is just plain fun to read!
"They arrive in France on a rainy day in November 1948.
"Paul, how do you say 'I'm hungry?'"

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Gaggle of Links

Happy Friday! Thanks for making our first week back so wonderful. We love what's happening here on the blog, and we've got more great posts ready to go up in the coming weeks that we can barely wait to share with you.

In the spirit of love and sharing and community, we want to finish up the week by sharing some links that we've loved on other sites around the internet lately. Enjoy!

This beautiful post from alphamom about being the helpers (based on the Mr. Rogers quote that's been going around all week) was just so perfect in the aftermath of Boston this week. I hope I raise a kid who is one of the helpers, and I hope she sees me as one.

If you haven't read the Drops of Awesome post at Daring Young Mom, you should. It will change the way you feel about yourself and think about your day.

This is a really interesting post about the Dove Real Beauty video we posted earlier this week. It makes some good points. Yes, we do undervalue ourselves, and yes, we don't see our true beauty. But this is a good reminder that our physical beauty is not the most important thing about us.

Watch this video called How to be 2. It is adorable and will make you happy.

I love this list of 6 Tips for Raising Strong Daughters. It's not earth-shattering, but it's full of good reminders.

I can't decide if this is slightly creepy or just wonderful, but I love these pictures of old people wearing vegetation.

This is a lovely post from bodyheart.com about learning to be proud of our bodies by changing our conversations about them. Below is the picture that led me there, with a lovely quote by Kate Winslet.

And finally, doesn't this pistachio-encrusted salmon look divine? (In the spirit of full disclosure, my sister-in-law made up this recipe - but it made me immediately go and buy salmon, which is in my freezer dying to be turned into this deliciousness.) I vote that everyone who likes fish make it for Sunday dinner. Yum.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How To Be Lifelong Friends Based On Childhood Awkwardness

Megan: When I was four years old, I really, really wanted a friend who was a girl. I had four older brothers and a neighbor friend who was a boy, and I was just really sick of playing ninja turtles and GI Joe. It so happened that the house across the street was for sale, and I started praying with all of my little four-year-old heart that a little girl my age would move into that house. In what was the first miracle of my life, when a family did move in, they had a little blonde girl just my age, and we immediately decided, in the way that children do, to be best friends. And then, for some reason, we decided that this meant we should dress in matching clothes a LOT.

Melissa: Megan and I were fairly different as personalities went. I was a wild soul, my mom used to say my spirit was too big for my body. Megan proved to be a calming factor in my life, she balanced me out pretty well, and I probably did the same. She was the youngest child, with four older brothers in a family who was pretty established. My parents were relative newlyweds with three very young children.

Megan: Because my brothers were between 8 and 14 years older than me, it was like I was an only child sometimes - except that my wonderful brothers were all teenagers who occasionally got a little impatient with a couple of little girls bugging them. I think once we accidentally killed my brother's lizard, and another time a different brother tied Melissa up with duct tape and hung her upside down because she was being annoying (which she thought was hilarious until the duct tape ripped all of her arm hair off - then she went home crying to her mom.)

Melissa: Megan and I were quite the pair. We recall frequently one of our not so finer moments when we dug up a giant hole in her parents lawn to make alligator soup. We also tried to invent mosquito repellent using sugar and water. Not sure why that didn't work. My mom loves to tell the story of when Megan’s mom Judy called her up to congratulate her on becoming pregnant with my sister. My mom hadn't told a soul she was pregnant, she was only a few weeks along, but Megan and I had noticed she was acting weird. The only possible explanation was that she was going to have a baby, so I marched over with Megan to Bert and Judy’s to ask if they would mind taking me trick or treating that year since my mom would probably have a newborn by then. She did have a newborn, and they did take me trick or treating.

Doing "The Monster Mash" in ballet class
Megan: I don't remember that Halloween, but I do remember Melissa's mom showing us her pregnant belly (as the youngest child in my family I'm pretty sure this was my first close encounter with pregnancy). I had my first bee sting in Melissa's back yard (I think I was trying to get rid of it and I caught it with my hand, which I probably couldn't do again if I tried.) I'm also pretty sure that the alligator soup was some kind of witch potion that we were going to feed to (imagined) unsuspecting children.

We just "happened" to dress alike.
Melissa: Not only did we share an affinity for hideous fashion, (okay, that was our mothers) we also bonded over tree climbing, trampoline jumping, make believing, and common toys. We went through phases that basically started with Mattel and ended with American Girl dolls.

Megan: Plus we were always acting out anything we could think of. I remember using my blankets to play Batman and Robin (on the trampoline, of course, so we could fly), making up our own story lines for the characters in all Disney movies (Melissa was a really good sport about being the male characters more than her share), Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, and I'm pretty sure there was a phase when we were Fairy Princess Kitties, because we couldn't decide what we wanted to play.

What's funny about pictures of us from this time is that they start out pretty cute. I mean, when we met, we were four. But then our teeth fell out and grew back in all big, we both got awful 90s glasses and had ridiculous bangs, we started wearing jeans with zippers that were like 18 inches long. The years between about 8 and 15 are just rough, people.

Melissa:I'd like to emphasize the fact that we lived right across from each other, in a very small cul de sac. We were constantly running back and forth. In those days, the biggest problems in our lives were whose house we would meet and what we would play. I don't recall many instances where we would call and make arrangements to play, rather we seemed to be such an important part of each others lives that we were constant fixtures at one another's homes.

Megan: When we were 9, Melissa's family moved to another city. We were devastated. I remember sitting on my mom's lap for what felt like hours, holding my favorite doll and bawling.

Melissa: Moving was the most devastating thing that ever happened to me. It still brings tears to my
27 year old eyes, remembering the day I drove away from Megan. I sobbed the whole 45 minute drive
away from Bountiful. Even at 9 years old, I knew things would never be the same. Our parents were
always good to let us make long distance phone calls, and make the drive from Bountiful to Pleasant View (or vice versa) in order for us to continue to have our stylish and coordinated sleepovers. Over the next two or three years, the phone calls became less frequent, sleep overs were few and far between, I think there was a letter or two in there somewhere, but as we grew up we grew apart.

We were trying to be really cool.
Megan: We kept in touch, but eventually, we had our own lives and our own friends and just didn't make the time to see each other as often. I think we had a double date with our high school boyfriends to watch Psycho, and then I just didn't see her again until her bridal shower.

Melissa: Enter Facebook, and blogs. Of course we had to add each other. You can’t spend the
ugliest years of your life with someone who loves you and not be eternally endeared to them. We
reconnected. Melissa Marsden became Melissa Turney, Megan was there with her parents. Megan Winegar became Megan Long, unfortunately I was out of state, but my parents were there. We have been able to continue to watch each other’s lives, and once again, we've become good friends, thanks to facebook and texting. Recently, Megan and her family were driving through Las Vegas and stayed with us over night. Once again, we found ourselves having a sleep over. We stayed up for longer than we probably should have, laughing ourselves silly with our daughters and husbands close by.

Megan: I think one of my favorite parts of this whole story is that somehow, we have ended up with a lot of the same interests. We watch the same TV shows, we recommend books to each other because we tend to like the same ones. We realized the other day that we inadvertently bought the same car seat for our daughters. I find her family completely delightful, as does my husband, who got a taste of playing zombie dollhouse with Melissa's oldest daughter. Putting my baby to sleep in Melissa's baby's crib gave me a tiny glimpse of the life we imagined as little girls, where we would live next door to each other and have daughters who would be best friends.

Melissa: This summer, my daughter will turn four years old. I can’t help but wondering if she will find a Megan. I hope so. I pray for it. Having Megan was one of the greatest blessings of my life. Even though we never lived close to each other again, and we are adults, we can still be found on occasion, chatting via texting or facebook laughing ourselves silly to jokes that would only be funny to us.

Megan: Because really, when you have this many ridiculous pictures together, you just have to stay friends forever. You can't risk the blackmail.

Have you ever had a best friend? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments!

Follow us on Instagram @becominglovelyblog to see the awkward photos that didn't make the post - and then share your awkward childhood photos with us! #tbt #awkwardandlovely

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Confessions of a Pregnant Texter

So today my baby was taking an abnormally long time to put down for a nap and I found myself reading old text messages I sent to my husband while I was pregnant. I think when you're pregnant you are kind of living in this alternate universe where you think that you're rational and normal when in fact you are quite the opposite. But no one tells you that because they don't want to make you cry even more. Anyway, thought I'd share some of these precious gems, which in hindsight are all super ridiculous and I don't know how Josh put up with it for nine months! Enjoy!

Me: So my baby shower is postponed because my grandma's aunt died and that's when her funeral is and now I bet no one can come. Everyone gets parties but me!
Josh: Paige, people can't help when they die.
Me: Stupid Aunt Sue. I just want to open presents all day long!

Me: One of my co-workers just started eating some weird meat that's been in the fridge for two months and it just made me sick. And she eats louder and more aggressively than anyone I've ever seen, man or beast.

Me: One of my co-workers is eating a muffin that looks so good I think I'm going to leap across the table and snatch it out of her hands. Is it weird if I ask her for a bite?
Josh: Yes Paige, that's weird. Stop asking your co-workers for their food.

*Story time: One day one of my co-workers got chocolate covered strawberries delivered to her from her boyfriend. They were from Edible Arrangements, I'm sure they weren't cheap, and there weren't very many of them. Anyway she offered a strawberry to a girl sitting by me (they were close, and we were not) but crazy pregnant Paige turned around and stared at them until the girl said "Oh! Uh... Do you want a strawberry too?" And then crazy pregnant Paige was like, "Yes please, let me gobble down your birthday present!"*

Me: Josh my co-worker is eating some mystery food that I can't identify and it's making me throw up! I think if I knew what weird food it was I wouldn't be so grossed out. I'm going to try and find out.
Josh: Did you find out what it is yet?
Me: It smells like a spicy shepherd's pie
Josh: Is it?
Me: No, it's fettucini alfredo.

Me: (Picture message of my poop)
Josh: I don't think constipated pregnant ladies should be eating cracklin oat bran

Me: It smells like old tuna fish in here
Josh: Yummm
Me: Old expired tuna fish

Me: Do you think we should teach our baby sign language?
Josh: Why? Are you deaf?
We are teaching Cooper sign language so I won that battle!

Me: Josh I want to hire someone to make me muffins
Josh: How are you going to go about that?
Me: Can I just put an ad on craigslist?
Pregnant white female seeking one muffin maker
Bran muffins preferred
Blueberry muffins forbidden

Me: I think Cooper has fashioned a shiv during his time in confinement and is now using it to jab me in the ribs.
I am going to crawl up my own vaginal canal and put this baby in a straight jacket.

Me: I'm sleepy and I want a cinnamon bear.
And I want a hot dog. I want a hot dog and cinnamon bears.

Me: I smell like a wet washcloth

Me: Oh my gosh Josh I cannot watch this girl like feast on her cranberries. It's like a monkey foraging for fleas on other monkeys.

One day I sneezed and peed my pants at work...
Me: Josh!! I just had to take off my underwear in the bathroom cuz they're soaked! And now I have to work the rest of the day wearing just shorts and no undies!!
Josh: Are you serious?! Go home and change!
Me: No! I only have an hour left and I pretty much pee my pants all the time anyways! I'd have no vacation time left if I went home every time I peed my pants!
Josh: Oh Paige... Do you need me to bring you some underwear?

Josh packed me lunch every day and I guess some days I wasn't as grateful as I should have been...
Me: You said you packed me crackers and that was a dirty rotten lie.
Josh: Oh no! I'm so sorry!
Me: No crackers! And no pickles and no cheese! I just want to go home and cry!

Me: 1. I'm going to die if I don't get scrambled eggs. 2. I want a teardrop trailer!
Josh: We can look at trailers, that'd be fun
Me: What about my eggs????????
No answer
Me: !!!!!

Me: Someone is eating chick fil a and I want to body tackle them and take their chick fil a for my own.
Josh: Poor crazy baby.

Me: So I'm watching grey's anatomy and when I die during childbirth you should move in with your parents to help you with the baby and then when you get settled you can find a nice new wife ok? Just keep your hair trimmed and wear clothes that fit and you shouldn't have a problem.
Josh: Please stop watching medical dramas.

Me: I think I'm going to kill someone if I don't get a cookie in the next few minutes.
No answer
Me: Maybe one of my co workers has a cookie hidden in their desk and then I can create a diversion and search their things and eat their cookie?
Josh: Yeah?
Me: I feel like I can sense there is one near by.
No answer
Me: Found some old Easter candy in an old box of holiday decorations! Score!
Josh: Are you seriously hunting your office for candy?!
Me: Well not anymore.
Josh: Enjoy your spoils.

Me: (Picture message of a dark spot on our couch)
Me: Unfortunately I happened to sneeze while sitting on the couch in my underwear. You can guess the rest.

Me: Did you make a pizza at lunch? Is there any left over?
Josh: Two slices
Me: What kind is it?
Josh: Cheese
Me: Ok I eat it
Me: These are the smallest pieces of pizza I've ever seen!
Josh: Sorry baby

Me: Well I am deciding what to do. I was going to make a pizza but then some girl went to Culver's and I smelled her onion rings and then she gave the rest of her onion rings to this guy that eats a lot and he gets all her extra food and I'm pretty sure I can eat more than he can! So I don't know what to do.
Josh: What?? What are you talking about?? Are you talking about dinner?
Me: Yes dinner. But also that that girl never gives me her extra food.
Me: What'd you eat for lunch?

Me: I drank my diet coke and I've already fallen asleep at work twice.
Josh: Go buy another one at lunch
Me: I don't think that's going to help. I think I need a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart like that dying man on Downton Abbey.

Me: So every day I see this girl's pizza in the fridge and I think man I really want to eat a slice, she might not notice... And then I sit there and look at her pizza for a while. But I think my judgement might be slightly skewed, I should probably not eat her pizza right??
Josh: No pizza

Me: The baby has been scissor kicking my lady parts all day

Me: Everyone else got Rio for lunch and I'm sick of eating my sandwich every day and my feet are cold and I'm super pissed!
Josh: Baby I'm sorry. Let's make larger dinners so you can take them for lunch.
Me: I try to! But we always eat it all! And making dinners makes me really tired and swollen footed and I just want to cry!!
No answer
Me: Josh?
Josh: I'm so sorry baby, I can make dinners. Also what's the plan for tonight?
Me: Well we need to go to the store and get treats.

Me: Every time the baby gets hiccups it feels like my lady parts are in a popcorn popper.

You'd be crazy too if these were your feet!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Self-Perception versus Reality

I came across this Dove ad campaign video and knew I needed to share it with the women in my life. So often we find ourselves fixated on the flaws we think we see; how can we open our eyes to the beauty we all possess? How do you turn looking in the mirror from a potentially negative experience into a positive experience?

(This post is in no way sponsored by Dove, just inspired by the positivity of their message.)

You'll be as lovely as can be

This is quickly becoming our new favorite motto. It's amazing when seven little words can pack such a big punch.

(Lyric from On How to be Lovely from the movie Funny Face)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hello there!

You may remember this message from September 2011....

Dear Lovely Readers,

We just wanted to let you know that we still love you. We're still here for you. We all just kind of ran out of things to say every week, so at the moment we're on a (hopefully) temporary hiatus.

Lin and I were barely blogging at all for a couple of months in there, and although Miri's blog has continued going strong, she has taken some periodic internet fasts to regroup. We don't know why we all suddenly ran out of blog steam (especially at the same time), but we kind of did. It may have had something to do with the number of blogs we were trying to maintain.

We've been working our way back up. I've been starting to post more regularly on my blog since summer ended. Miri's written several posts as part of an amazing philosophy series on her blog. Lin is blogging some and also making amazing Star Wars knit hats for her nephews. We're all still trying to live lovely lives, and we feel pretty confident that at some point in the near future, we'll start wanting to write about them again here.

In the mean time, if you'd like to submit any stories, we'd be happy to post them. Check us out on our blogs if you just miss the melodious flow of our musings.

Stay lovely.

Well, the time has finally come.  Our (not so) temporary hiatus is coming to an end.  We did all run out of steam, that is true, but when Megan posted on here a few months ago, the thought of maintaining this blog again started to stick with me.  I kept thinking of how wonderful it felt to spend time on posts and to read our guest posts and to just generally feel like we had created a little community.  I remembered how excited and inspired I felt when we started this blog and I started to feel that way again.  After casually mentioning this to Megan, I found out she felt the same way and we found out that Miri was also on board.  So here we are, at it again.

The most exciting part of this relaunch is that there will be some lovely changes. We have decided to add more contributors in an effort to liven things up and help keep our own ideas and posts fresh.  We will also be adding more features and broadening our horizons across other social media sites.  We hope you have missed us these past nineteen months (it seems so much longer), because now you won't be able to get rid of us.