Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Connecting and Disconnecting

This weekend's girls' trip was a reminder of how important it is to catch up with people face-to-face. Technology makes it easier to stay in touch with loved ones, but it's no substitute for "real life" interaction. Texts and emails and Facebook messages just don't cut it.

We got to spend time together, just hanging out, and I laughed harder than I have in a long time. (Have any of you read some of the personal ads on Craigslist? Read with caution but they were so funny, we were practically in tears!)

And getting out of the city allowed me to disconnect. The quiet of the lake, the snow, was a departure from all the city sounds, computer, and online chatter I'm used to. Aside from our spa appointments and a dinner reservation, there wasn't even a reason to keep an eye on the time.

Since I didn't take pictures this weekend, here's a peek at the desserts I baked and brought: compost cookies and brownies with Reese's peanut butter cups inside!

I also had lunch with my best friend N. yesterday, and we had a long-overdue chat about everything going on in life. Just what I needed. I've been a bit overwhelmed with thoughts of the future, both near and far, and all the uncertainty and where-do-I-start? feelings have made the planner in me a little crazy.

Preparing for the baby's arrival has stirred up all kinds of thoughts and questions about our future plans (how long will we stay in our condo? where would we move? what's the state of our finances?). And it's hard to know what will happen when and what we need to do first. Because most of these things are new for us, they involve a lot of steps, research, Google searches, and tapping into friends and family for advice. We have to decide what to keep, what to store, what to sell, what to buy. We have to think big picture and long term.

When I got home from lunch, I made a long list of all the to-dos in my head and broke things down as much as I could so that I can cross off even the small accomplishments and see my progress. I've already checked a few things off, and it makes me feel good that I'm taking action rather than worrying or wondering. After all, we have a lot to celebrate these days.

I know we'll figure everything out as we go, that we don't have to (and can't!) plan everything. So I'm working on taking small steps and focusing on what's truly important... because connecting with people and disconnecting from the "noise" of daily life will help carry me through anything.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Book Club: Little Bee

This week is flying by! I took Monday off to hang out with Scott as his office was closed for the holiday. And I'm taking tomorrow off to head out of town for a girls' weekend. So looking forward to it... and hoping the weather doesn't interfere with travel plans. My family in Kansas City got about a foot of snow, and the storm is heading our way...

I wanted to pop in and chat about our latest book club meeting. We got together at J's apartment last Friday night. She served up salad, stuffed shells, and wine (none for me, of course). The five of us ended up catching up until around midnight!

Our discussion about State of Wonder covered a lot of the unexpected events of the book's second half (we all felt one "surprise" incident wasn't exactly necessary!). Some felt it was tough to get into the story, and others felt like it pulled them in from page one. A novel about medical research and the Amazon isn't my usual cup of tea, but I found it to be fascinating and well-written. As I got into the latter part of the book, I was genuinely surprised at times and loved how the story twisted and turned. I'd recommend it!

Next month, we'll be reading Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave. One of the girls had picked it up recently, so we decided to make it one of our book club picks.

Amazon.com Review:
Amazon Best of the Month, February 2009: The publishers of Chris Cleave's new novel "don't want to spoil" the story by revealing too much about it, and there's good reason not to tell too much about the plot's pivot point. All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls. The tide of that event carries Little Bee back to their world, which she claims she couldn't explain to the girls from her village because they'd have no context for its abundance and calm. But she shows us the infinite rifts in a globalized world, where any distance can be crossed in a day--with the right papers--and "no one likes each other, but everyone likes U2." Where you have to give up the safety you'd assumed as your birthright if you decide to save the girl gazing at you through razor wire, left to the wolves of a failing state.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What if We Celebrated Valentine's Day Every Day?

I'm a lover of romantic gestures, love stories, and happily ever afters. While I like to celebrate Valentine's Day and tell or show the people I love how much they mean to me, I think this can also be a holiday of over-the-top plans, high expectations, and a bit of loneliness too.

Sure, today is an opportunity to show you care and say "I love you." But let's also see it as a reminder that loving others should happen all the time. We can give our love in small moments and everyday waysand it's just as powerful, if not more.

Valentine's Day isn't exclusively for lovers. There are people in our lives who need to feel our love, even when they frustrate or disappoint us (perhaps especially then!). We also don't know what others are dealing with, so let's be kind. Let's show patience and care, not just today but every day.

Scott and I are celebrating by making dinner at home and exchanging cards. I couldn't resist picking up a little dessert at the grocery store (see below). Scott, if you're reading this, you know I've been wanting one of these lately... and I think your sweet tooth and mine will enjoy this treat!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Thank you for reading, sharing, and supporting me and this blog.

I guess this is what happens when the pregnant lady goes grocery shopping...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Our Big News!

As some of you already know, Scott and I are expecting a baby! I'm moving into the second trimester and finally feeling a bit better (which explains some of the sporadic posting over the past several weeks). We can't wait to meet our son or daughter in August!

It's a bit unusual these days, but we're waiting to find out if the baby is a boy or girl until s/he is born. While it's tough to wait, the surprise factor makes the birth-day funand might help me get through labor and delivery...

I can tell you... this process is truly a miracle. Even though this pregnancy was definitely planned, every milestone makes it seem more real... the positive pregnancy test, telling our families, seeing the baby and its heartbeat on the first ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat. It's amazing how two people, with God's help of course, can create another life. And the baby grows without any conscious effort from me (just a lot of resting and nausea!). All the major organs and systems are already in place; now it's time for growing and developing.

I've learned yet again that I'm not in control. Like so much else in life, I can only do so muchin this case, I can make healthy choices and take care of myself. We don't know what the future holds. This time requires a lot of faith and trust that everything is going as it should, that we'll be able to handle whatever happens. And as they say... you'll never stop worrying. There is always something to worry about, but I also know that's no way to live, especially when something so wonderful is going on. So I place my trust in God's plan and try to enjoy every moment (easier said than done when you're feeling queasy, but hey, I try).

Already this baby has changed my life. The past two months have been a little frustrating. I haven't been able to do as much as I usually can, so I just did what I had to do and tried to be patient with myself. I ate small amounts every hour or two, drank tons of water, and spent more time in bed and on the couch than I care to admit (a nice perk of working from home!). It's all worth it, but I realized a baby can change your life before it's even born! I also know that everything will continue to changeour home, social life, sleep, work. But this is something I've wanted my whole lifea family of my own.

So happy to share the news with you all!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Writing is a Lot like Love

I've been in a relationship with writing since I was about four years old.

We've had our ups and downs along the way, like any long-term relationship. There were times when I filled journals and papers and Word documents with words and other times when I didn't write for months at a time.

Writing is a lot like love, a lot like a relationship that requires effort and commitment. But the rewards are great.

Sometimes writing is just an everyday thing, a commitment, like running errands or making dinner. And other times, it feels new and inspired and sparkly, like a great date or a good conversation. It's both familiar and not.

Writing frustrates me sometimes. I can't get the ideas in my head into words. I can't express how I feel exactly right. I can't get my point across as eloquently as I would like.

Writing exhilarates me too. When the words come together easily and clearly and it just feels right, I find joy.

A bridesmaid's bouquet from our wedding.

This month, Sarah and I will be sharing inspiration to help you cultivate your own relationship with writing... so February's theme for our Create.Compose.Communicate newsletters is fall in love with writing.

If you haven't signed up yet, our first newsletter of the month arrives in inboxes tomorrow (Thursday). Sign up here!

Check out Sarah's blog, Inspiration-Driven Life, for her thoughts on this month's theme.


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