Halloween {History}

I don't do Halloween. And by that, I mean that we do not decorate our home with all things spooky or haunting. We don't anxiously anticipate what costume we will wear this year. We don't go to Halloween parties. We just don't do Halloween.

However, this isn't because I hate the holiday. I'm simply indifferent to it. It comes and goes year after year, and I watch as millions of people spend a fortune on costumes and candy, enjoying every spooky minute. I don't hate it, and I don't love it. It simply is what it is.  But it wasn't always this way.  As a kid, I remember dressing up in costume for Halloween with my brother and sister and go around town trick-or-treating with our parents. We loved it! My mom would decorate the house with fake spiders, spiderwebs, witches, and pumpkins...it was part of the 'holiday season' that came around this time of year. It was great! So, what happened?

I grew up. As a child, I didn't know the meaning behind the holiday. And to be honest, I still don't. Our parents made sure we participated year after year growing up, but now that I'm on my own, I don't make it a priority. It's not important to me. But that got me thinking - what the heck is Halloween anyway?! Why do we do what we do? Why do we go around begging for candy in crazy costumes? Well, that got me researching the history of Halloween, and thus, this post. The following information can be located here and here. As it turns out, there's a lot of information!

Halloween dates back to the anciet Celtic festival of Samhain (sah-win). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France celebrated their new year on November 1st. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year often assicated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31st, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble & sickness and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Celtic priests to make predictions about the future, which were an important source of comfort and direction during the dark, long winter. Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them. Children would go from house to house in costumes, asking for treats with the question, "Trick or treat?" The trick part of the question was a threat to the homeowner that if they did not receive a 'treat', a trick would be played on the homeowner or his property. Today, it has become socially accepted that if you live in a neighborhood with children, you better have some candy to give out!

By the 9th century, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with an supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2nd All Souls' Day - a day to honor the dead. It is believed that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, devils, and angels. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

Celebration of Halloween was very limited in colonial New England due to the rigid Protestant belief systems. It was much more common in the southern colonies of America. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups and American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween emerged. The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance and sing. In the late nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants, espeically of those fleeing Ireland's potato famine of 1846, and it helped to popularize Halloween nationally. In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, witchcraft, and pranks. Thus, Halloween parties became the most common way to celebrate, which focused on games, food and costumes. There was also encouragement to remove any and all things grotesque and frightening out of the holiday, which resulted in Halloween losing most of its superstitious and religious affiliations by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1950s, Halloween evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young {maybe that's where my lack of Halloween-ness comes into play...}. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved into classrooms and homes, where young children could be accommodated. By this time, the old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. In theory, families could prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it America's second largest commercial holiday {behind Christmas of course}.

Today, kids all over the world are super excited to dress up in costumes and go door-to-door to consume crazy amounts of candy. Today, Halloween is 'fun'. Businesses everywhere may have a fall festival, costume contests, and good clean fun. I know we are! I also know there are hundreds of thousands of haunted houses across America that you can visit. There are tons just in town! And I'm too much of a wuss {to be honest} to even step foot near one! Seriously...I don't do scary! But, no matter the reason you're excited about today {or not so excited, whatever the case may be}, be safe out there and have fun! I will be chillin' on my couch with my husband, sister, and our puppy watching Halloweentown movies on Disney. That's just how I roll! And I am not ashamed!

So, my lack of Halloween-ness isn't because I feel it's a strictly Pagan holiday or that I'm too religious to celebrate. It's because I'm lazy and I just don't do Halloween.  But, you can pretty much 100% guarantee that once I have children of my own, this will change! :)

And, I'm really loving Elizabeth's post about why she celebrates Halloween! Go check it out!

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It's About That Time...

And just like that, it's Monday, again! The weekends just fly by faster and faster. And because of that, I like to really enjoy the time I get with my family and friends on the weekend when I'm not worried about work. Which leads me to a weekend recap!  

My poor hubby has been fighting a pretty sick cough for the past few weeks, which intensified tremendously on Friday evening! Too bad it was too late to seek medical attention at an urgent care walk-in facility... He promised he was okay enough to make it through the night, although his wheezing progressively worsened {only he would know if he needed to go to the ER}. Luckily, he was able to get some sleep that night, but he had to be at work at 5am. He left early and I took him to the walk-in clinic inside of the HEB Plus - RediClinic. He was seen fairly quickly, was diagnosed, prescribed medication, and sent on his way. Poor thing has bronchitis and a sinus infection! Wowza! Once we went back to tell his boss he would not be working the rest of the day, I took him home, medicated him, and tucked him in bed! I think he slept for more than 12 hours straight - he needed rest! He's slowly been getting better over the past two days, but why is it that men tend to be such awful patients?! There's absolutely no pleasing him no matter what I do! And he said yesterday was a 'boring' day - we ran errands and took care of some chores that needed to be done. He felt awful but didn't want to lay around in bed anymore...ugh. I sent him to the redbox to pick out a movie, and that seemed to do the trick! But man! It reminds me to be oh so thankful that he doesn't get sick too often :). 

That afternoon, my mom and her friend headed to Austin for a little girls' day with me and my sister! We went shopping, which obviously meant we'd be hitting up Maurice's. Favorite. Store. Ever! Afterwards, we headed to the mall for the rest of the evening, scoring some pretty awesome purchases along the way! It was fun, and it was great to just get out of the house for a few hours to hang with the girls. I also now have this here beauty gracing my new car! And, it smells like a frosted cupcake. Can we say amazing?! We wound down with dinner at Olive Garden, which was delicious! Their 'eat one, take one' option is pretty awesome! For $12.99, I was able to eat an entree & salad, and take home an entree for Colten! Win-win!

Sunday, I slept in late, and I'm not ashamed! I've been extra tired this past week and waking up super early every day has just taken its toll. I chose to not set an alarm that morning, and I woke up at 10am. It was glorious! Then, we went grocery shopping and took on a car repair ... it was only a headlight replacement, but in my new car, you have to go in through the wheel well, which was a total pain in the butt for my sick husband! Ugh! But he was a trooper, and after about an hour and two trips to the auto parts store {because the guy gave us the wrong bulb the first time...}, it was done! Yay! 

Last week was also a big moment for me, as I said goodbye to my trusty car! We definitely got our money's worth out of it, but it was time for it to go! She had over 270,000 miles on her and was still going! Pretty amazing feat if you ask me... I am completely blessed to have had it still going for as long as we did, and for God's favor and amazing timing when the new car came around. It's not 'new', but it's new to me! It is also truly glorious, as we were preparing {and saving} for a pricey car repair, but now we don't have that expense looming over us! God is so good! Although the car was still running, it wasn't dependable. I always worried every time I got in it to drive to work or to the store that something else would go wrong. Let's just say I was very cautious. Now, that burden is gone, and for that, I am so grateful! 

So, I took care of my sick husband, spent quality time with the girls, and crossed off several tasks from my to-do list this weekend. I'd say it was a weekend well spent! Here's to another great week ahead! 

Linking up with Sami.

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It's Friday! It's Friday! Hallelujah, IT'S FRIDAY! 
For some reason, this has been a particularly llooonnnnggggg week! And I, for one, am very happy to see it come to an end! But I also can't believe October is almost over! Eeeeek! Y'all, Thanksgiving is only a month away! And then it's Christmas! Why oh why does the holiday season have to go by soooooo fast?! I think I'm going to have a case of the holiday blues come January.  I digress.

And now, it's time for some 5 on friday, and all of its glamorous randomness!

1// Is it terrible that I literally cannot think of anything right now other than the fact that it's friday and the beautiful weekend is just around the corner? No? Okay, good!

2// I really don't understand why so many people are still complaining about the new iOS 7 for iphones. Yes, there are glitches. Yes, it's slow at times. Yes, it's annoying when you just want the thing to WORK. But, it's new. And as with all things new, it takes time to figure out the glitches and errors. I believe there have been two, if not three, additional updates to fix the bugs that were in the rollout. Be patient, people! {btw, I'm loving the new iOS. Change is good!}

3// Why in the world does being a cashier at a grocery store take such a huge toll on my nails?! Seriously! Not only can I not have my nails painted because they chip so bad at work, but when there's no polish, it dries out my nails and they look {and feel} awful! Ugh!

4// I created this little beauty to get me more in the Halloween spirit! It's been gracing my phone this past week and I love it! We can't really afford to decorate our home for every holiday, so this is about all the 'halloween'ness that is in my life right now.

5// I'm pretty sure this is the first time ever that I did not watch Grey's Anatomy the night it aired. Seriously! I usually come home from job #2 and stay up to watch it because, let's face it, I'm addicted to this show! But last night, I was just so tired and I let my exhaustion take over. I watched a quick show that was already recorded and went to bed. I think I'm having withdrawls from not seeing last night's episode! I'm doing my best to stay away from any spoilers!

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Roll With the {Punches}

Relationships are hard. And not just with a significant other. I'm talking about relationships with friends, siblings, co-workers, parents, aunts and uncles, significant others and their families...the world revolves around relationships. They're everywhere! And they're work. A lot of work.

I'm the one that people go to - I listen and give advice when it's asked of me. I'm always willing to lend a helping hand or do favors for people when in need because I know that I'm being helpful. I'm nice. I do my absolute best to keep my plans and be on time when I say I will as to not inconvenience those around me. But not everyone is this way. In fact, a lot of people aren't. They don't mull over their words before they say them as to not hurt others' feelings. Sometimes it makes me think if they care about anyone other than themselves at all...

Normally, I just accept what others say and/or do, knowing that that's just how they are, and I am how I am. But every now and then, I try to put my foot down and push back against those that are hurting me. But every time I stand up for myself or call someone out on something, I feel terrible. And by terrible, I mean that I will dwell on my force words and/or actions for hours and hours later, sometimes even days later if I don't have contact with that person. It's happened twice recently, and what I said to stand up for myself wasn't even that harsh. I'm a wuss...

But, I take the abuse over and over again because I'd rather my feelings be hurt or me to be put out than for it to be the other way around, which often results in my sadness and resentment against others for continually treating me badly. So let's face it, I'm a people pleaser. I show up. It's what I do.

People pleasers "want everyone around them to be happy and they will do whatever is asked of them to" keep it that way.

I struggle with this. Daily.

No matter how I feel, though, I continue to roll with the punches. These people are my family. These people are my friends. It's my problem, right?

Yes, it is my problem. But it's also up to me to do something about it. But that can also be tricky. What if I try to change things and it results in lost friendships and bad blood? What if the other party doesn't understand where I'm coming from and gets their feelings hurt? What if I stop hearing from these people? What if they begin to think of me as a bad friend? What if... What if... What if... I could drown in the what ifs. But it's got to stop.

I recently looked into this and found that consistently putting others' needs above my own could develop into some negative consequences, therefore causing other problems:

Neglect of self. People pleasers devote very little time to taking care of themselves. This can cause me to be more prone to health problems. Umm, no thank you!

Passive aggression and/or resentment. Being passive aggressive is making sharp comments, crack sarcastic jokes, or make subtle actions that let a little of our negative feelings seep out. Check! And apparently, this is the biggest destroyer of relationships. Awesome...

Reduces ability to enjoy other people and activities. Constantly thinking of all the things that need to be done, especially for others, leads us to be disengaged. What good does that do?! None, that's what. Being present but disengaged is not better than being absent.

Stress and depression. The definition of stress is having more demands than you can handle. This website says that people pleasing can turn into a vicious cycle of chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors. And who wants that added with other stressors of the world?

Be taken advantage of. By always saying yes to requests for favors, people may begin to take advantage of your kindss by asking for more than is reasonable. Even worse, you may become the target of exploitive people because they will quickly see that you can't say no and take as much as they can from you. {Okay, this one maybe takes it a little far, as I haven't personally experienced this yet, but I'd rather keep from doing so!}

So really, I must stop this behavior before it really causes chaos in my life. I tend to lean towards being passive aggressive with those that I feel are hurting me. I stew over it and don't let it go. But luckily, it hasn't developed into anything super serious where I'm constantly resenting those that I love or truly neglect myself {hey, I've recently lost 11 pounds, so you can't say I'm neglecting my health!}. But, why not just nip this in the bud right here and right now?! Well, it may take time, but I'm determined to do it. I've got to teach others that my opinion is important, too, and that my time is valuable. If I'm upset about something and feel the need to talk about it, I have to do so without letting the other person turn the focus of the conversation on them. Although this is hard to do with the elitists of the world, it'll be a work in progress. After all, there's a difference in being nice and being a people pleaser. I can still be me without being mean!

And the thing is, these people most likely don't even know that sometimes their actions and/or words hurt me, as I'm so used to just bottling it up and hiding my hurt feelings from everyone {besides my husband of course}. It's time to make some changes in this aspect of my life, and I've found 8 ways to be a God pleaser and not a people pleaser that I'm keeping close by:
  1. Be honest; no matter how hard it is to face the truth, remember that the only person you're cheating is yourself.
  2. Be humble; never get ahead of yourself and allow yourself room for growth.
  3. Dedicate time for God; dedicate a portion of your free time to God. Go to church. Pray. Allow God to be present in your life.
  4. Don't change who you are for others; you do not pray to your friends and family; therefore, you shouldn't change for them either. God wants you to be the best version of yourself. Do not be influenced by the people surrounding you, instead be influenced by the man who gave up everything for you.
  5. Hold on to your values; do not cave into temptation or evil. Deep down, you know the difference between right and wrong. Don't lose yourself trying to be something that you're not.
  6. Live every day like it's your last; never let a single second or minute get away from you. Live each day like it is your last because you are blessed to be alive with your family and friends. Life is unpredictable and will throw you curve balls, but remain appreciative to God for giving you the opportunity to live your dreams.
  7. Put others before yourself; God sacrificed himself so you could have a fulfilled life. Help others that are in need of assistance and charity. Your good deeds will not go unnoticed because God is always amongst us.
  8. Put your faith in Him; it may not always seem like he's listening, but God has a reason and a plan for everything. No matter how hard a situation may be, you must put your faith in God. He is the one person you can always count on.
Being aware of this 'problem' of mine is the first step. The second step: put a plan into action! It'll be a work in progress, but I've got to start somewhere! :) I got this. And until then, I'm just going to keep rollin' with the punches!

How do you balance others' happiness and your own?  
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Today, I'm saying SO WHAT if:
  • I'm practically wearing shorts and it's 50 degrees outside. It's only cold in Texas for like a month, so I'm soaking up every second!
  • I'm ready for lunch and it's only 10:00am.
  • My hair is in a sleek ponytail for the third day in a row. That's how I'm rollin' this week!
  • I'm jamming out to some Evanescence, Linkin Park, Maroon 5, and Hoobastank - it's getting me through this week! {thanks YouTube mix!}
  • I'm excited that Christmas is only 63 days away! It's my absolute favorite time of the year, and I wait patiently through Spring and Summer to get here every.single.year.
  • Life After I DewI'm unbelievably tired. I have yet to catch up on sleep and I have two more {double job days} left this week ... praying this weekend brings some sort of rest!
  • My co-worker and I are going to HEB on our break in like five mintues to buy spinach dip - I'm totally in love with the stuff!
  • If I haven't blogged much this month {sorry!}. I'm still working on the whole Operation: Life Management thing. Like me, it's a work in progress, people!
  • My husband just had to have customized {frog} shoes! He has waited a long time for them to come in and they finally did! He's so happy, and it'll get him out of the house to go run more often! Win-win!
  • I'm counting down the days until friday! I'm super excited for what all this weekend holds!

What are you saying {so what} to this week??

And just for sheer enjoyment {and a smile...this gets me every.single.time!}

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Life {Lately}

Life lately has been hectic! I keep drifting back to this ol' blog of mine and wanting to fully immerse myself in all of its glory and amazingness {hey, to me, it's totes amazing!}, but then life gets in the way. But, at least I have a life!
Well, that's not a good excuse anymore! The point is to blog about this great life of mine, so I need to figure something out to where this ol' blog gets more of my attention! Thus begins Operation: Life Management. Seriously. My life needs to be managed much, much better!
Why is it that I have an amazing Erin Condren life planner and I still seem to not be able to keep up with the days and weeks and blogging and living and being a wife and being a friend and being a daughter and a sister and a cousin and having relaxing days and catching up on television shows and providing ample doggy time with Ace and keeping up with house chores and helping my hubby with schoolwork and work two jobs?! Oh, because that's a LOT! That's why. Okay *exhales*.  But wait, doesn't this only get worse with kids?! Joy...
And although I'm not doing so well with this whole 'management' of my life, I'm definitely not complaining! So much has been going on and I'm loving every bit of it! And I need to blog about a lot of it still {it's coming, just you wait and see!}. So, I won't spoil the lovely surprise of what is to come in future posts, but I did post about some of the exciting things that have happened recently, like that time we went to Dallas to support our cousin in the only way we know how - stand out and quite possibly be a little bit super embarrassing, and my birthday was this past weekend! With my birthday came my 30 before 30 list, so be sure to check that out! 
Some not-so-great things have also been going on recently, and I'm still working through those. I pray about them daily and turn over my hesitation, anger, and frustration over to God, for I know that he's got it all under control. Hey, I'm learning! I used to try to fix everything on my own and in my own way, only to have it backfire and cause more stress in my life. One step at a time. God's got me! And while He does, I continue to pray, because prayer is powerful, and in some moments, prayer is all that I have. BUT, I will not allow for these negative aspects take over my life, so I'm pushing to work through them in a positive manner and learn how to dance through the storms instead of drowning in them. :) 
I struggle with control. I apparently strive to control every aspect of my life {at least the important aspects}. But I've learned from experience that the way to make God laugh is to make plans, and boy has God been laughing at my expense lately! This is a learning process, and I'm figuring it out along the way, so bear with me!
I took to running recently when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry hysterically over something I couldn't control. That's right - I ran! It might not have been for very long, but it was therapeutic! I ugly cried as I ran in the country, with nothing but nature surrounding me, and it was great! I took my headphones and ran. Literally. And every single song that came on was perfect for the emotions I was feeling. Did I know that this too, shall pass? Yes. Did I know that those words weren't absolutely true? Of course. But I was able to release my feelings and do so in a positive manner, so it was rewarding! Boy do I wish I still lived in the country to take to running each and every time that I needed to release my frustrations. But, it's a step in the right direction, and I felt much better afterward.
So, as with all things in life, I've got some positive and some negative things going on, all which make up my crazy world. I wouldn't trade it for a single minute! I know that the trials and tribulations that I'm experiencing are only going to make me stronger and better equipped for what is yet to come. And I know that I must cherish every minute that I get to spend with my loved ones because time is precious and is not guaranteed.
So...life lately has been pretty typical, with highs and lows, tears of joy and tears of sadness and hurt, and mixed emotions. Isn't that what it's all about?? ;)  But Operation: Life Management is definitely going to happen so that I can at least feel in control of what I can.
And in other, super awesome news, it's COLD today! Okay, not 'cold', but it's super cool outside, the wind is blowing, and the sun is hiding behind clouds and stormy weather all day long. I'm one happy, happy girl!

My feelings exactly. :)
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A Quarter of a {Century}. Hooray!

It's my birthday! And, I expect lots and lots of birthday wishes today! Seriously. Get to it, people! Okay, okay, I don't really expect it. But, it'd be nice :). It is my day after all...

I am blessed to be celebrating 25 amazing years today, even if that does mean I'm a quarter of a century old! Thanks, family. Just thanks. However, I do get to constantly remind my mother that it means she's going to be half of a century old soon. *mwahahaha*

These past 25 years hold so many ups and downs, it's ridiculous. But without them, I wouldn't be who I am today. And today, I'm celebrating my birth. I'm celebrating the day that I entered into this world, to be held in the arms of the most amazing parents and awesome big sister (even if I didn't know it at the time). I'm celebrating the good AND the bad. God has only prepared me for what is to come, weathering every storm that comes my way with the support and love of my husband, my family, and friends. I couldn't and wouldn't have come as far as I have without any of them. For that, I am grateful. I'm a pretty lucky lady! 
And now, some highlights of the past 25 years in no particular order:
  • Holidays with family, including with those that are no longer here such as my Granny Getschmann, Granny Mendel, and Pops. I miss them so much and cherish every memory that I have!
  • Every St. John 4th of July Picnic we've attended {that I can remember}
  • Vacation to Big Bend National Park
  • Vacation to Missouri
  • Numerous camping trips to Lake Somerville and Lake Belton - even the few trips to Lake Medina!
  • Spirit sprinkles :)
  • Countless sporting functions, from volleyball (varsity team as a freshman and being named to the All-State team), to softball (soooo many cold days/nights and Coach Oden driving me from a band competition to a district game in which the Ganado coach's windshield was shattered...oops!), to track & field (regional track meet that I participated in for shotput...), to two-a-days (I was usually injured...ha!), including Little League - I believe there was even some soccer in there!
  • Vacation to the Frio River
  • Memories from being on the drill team
  • Band. 'Nuff said! ;)
  • The friendships through it all {and for those of you that stuck around all this time...thank you!}
  • Leaving home and moving to a big, new city for college, in which homesickness kicked in
  • Marrying my best friend
  • College hardships
  • Sexy Hexy 
  • Concerts
  • Trips to Corpus to visit my sister on the weekends
  • ROAD TRIPS! {especially our recent trip to Dallas}
  • Club Volleyball {including the bajillion photos that were always taken...thanks Mom! And, I cannot think about those days and the pictures without thinking of Stacie laughing at mom harassing her with the camera!! Great times!}
  • C.C.D. in St. John
  • Jumping into freezing cold water at the lake in the middle of winter for $5
  • Every injury I've ever experienced playing high school sports
  • The joy that high school sports brought me, especially volleyball 
  • Confirmation 
  • Birthday parties, especially my 21st and the one we had at Ariel's house in high school...so fun!
  • Friday night football games
  • The unending support of my family to every sporting function, football game to watch me dance/play in the band, support through school, especially through club volleyball and when I made the choice not to continue collegiately 
  • Scrapbooks 
  • Summers at home doing chores and eating fabulous homemade lunches at my grandparents' house
  • Soaring with the eagles ;)
  • The loss of my grandmother
  • The loss of my other grandmother
  • The recent loss of my grandfather
  • But honestly, the weekends at home with family just hanging out, watching television or into our normal, random shenanigans around the farm were and always will be my absolute favorite memories that I will forever hold near and dear to my heart {not to get sappy or anything}. Seriously. To you, it may sound boring and no fun, but trust me, it's far from both! I love just spending quality time with my family {and extended family} just being ourselves and doing nothing fancy. So amazing. {I'd totally link to some blog posts here, but it's pretty much every.single.one, so...yeah. Just go check out my blog archive!} 
These are only a few of the life events that have brought me to where I am today, and for each one, good or bad, I cherish. In my short 25 years, I've accomplished a lot. I'm married. I've graduated college. I've begun my career. We're getting more and more financially stable. And most importantly, I'm happy. I know there are rough days, but the good days far surpass them! I hope and pray {and know} that the next 25 will be just as amazing, if not even more so! I know God has a plan for my life and that this is only the beginning.

And speaking of the future, in light of my milestone birthday {can you even call 25 a milestone?? I am anyway...it's my birthday after all!}, I've been working on and have finally completed my 30 before 30 list! And now, to share with all of you, because I know you're just dying to know. :)

I know God has a plan for me, and everything happens in His time, but here are 30 things that I want and aim to do in the next five years, before I'm thirty {in no particular order}:
  1. Kayak on Lady Bird Lake
  2. Make zucchini bread {and have it be amazing, duh}
  3. Create a routine of regular family Scripture study & prayer, and stick to it
  4. 'Tour' the capitol in Austin
  5. Be intentional in my marriage
  6. Be a homeowner
  7. Build up to and consistently work out at least four days/week
  8. Visit another country
  9. Donate money to charity
  10. Take a cooking class with my husband
  11. Learn German
  12. Participate in a 5k
  13. Work only one job
  14. Build up our savings account {no goal amount at this time, but keep a lookout for it to come!}
  15. Spend the night under the stars
  16. Project 365: blogged.
  17. Have a paint fight with my husband & photograph it
  18. Pay off at least two student loans
  19. Become a mommy
  20. Fill all frames in our home with actual pictures of people that we know
  21. Learn more about Catholicism
  22. Visit New York City
  23. Buy a DSLR camera and learn how to use it
  24. Lose a total {at least} of 60 pounds
  25. Take a trip with each of my siblings
  26. Learn to crochet
  27. Attend a small group Bible study regularly
  28. Read 100 books in a year
  29. Become a runner
  30. Visit a winery
I look forward to the next five years to see just how many of these I can accomplish! Some of them will be easy and some won't, but I'm excited to see it all play out. I know that I will continue to have the love and support of my family and husband to encourage me daily and keep me focused on what's important in life. So, whether it be the good, the bad, or the ugly, I say


Here's to the next twenty-five years! :-)
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We're {BLUE}!

This weekend was a blast! Exhausting, but a blast nonetheless. And yes, it's a weekend recap on a Tuesday! I know, I know...the nerve! Oh well :).

This weekend was based solely on the #cousinfanclub. Yep, that's right! Our cousin, Haley, plays college soccer and we spent the weekend in Dallas supporting her! We're awesome, I know! We left Friday afternoon {we're seriously devoted, because we all had to be at work early in order to leave early to make the game! And by early, I mean like 5:30 people!}and drove to Commerce for the 7pm game. Of course, we hit serious traffic in Salado and we were struggling to make it to the game on time...which meant this girl had to get aggressive {cue cheer: be. aggressive. b-e aggressive. b-e a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e. be. aggressive!} with my driving skillz. Luckily, it worked, and we made the game! ASU won 1-0. :-) and we even were able to get a super close-up of her actually looking at us! Hooray for grass seats!
Since it's a super long drive for the team to travel and the next game was in Denton, the team stayed in a hotel. Well, we did too, but not the same hotel. We stayed in Lewisville. Luckily, we were able to spend some time with Haley while they had some down time - score! So, we hit up the mall for a while, and entertaining it was - to say the least.

I just love my brother's elephant ring...super sexy! And, well, Haley was rockin that bowtie! Seriously, fun times with all of us around! There's hardly ever a dull moment. We were able to take her out to eat and we ended up at Olive Garden. Is there really anywhere else that would do us justice? Nope. We didn't think so, either. Moving on... We then watched a movie in our hotel room until we had to take Haley back to her team :(. It was pouring rain at this point and we had to find one of her teammate's house, since she lives in the area. Eventually, after several different people with phones to map out the drive, we made it! Whew!

After dropping Haley off with her team, it was time for the #cousinfanclub to get to work! We headed to Wal-Mart {where else?!} to buy supplies for signs. As soon as we walked in the door, we saw it - the hair dye! They had all of their Halloween stuff out and there was a giant display of spray-on hair color. And of course we jumped right on that! We bought several cans of blue and one of gold glitter. Yes, this was about to happen. We also purchased several posterboards {in bright neon yellow}, sharpies, glitter, and then we saw them - the tie-dye kits and shirts! We ended up with white shirts and blue tie-dye supplies - we went all out!  There was no holding back. Once we got back to the hotel room, we got right to work! Yes, we tie-dyed shirts and made glitter posters in the hotel room, and it was awesome! None of us had ever tie-dyed shirts before, so it was pretty amusing to say the least.  The next morning, we had to be up at 5am to rinse out the shirts that had to set for 6-8 hours according to the instructions. Then, we set out {at 6am in Dallas} for a laundromat to wash and dry the shirts. So, just picture it. We're sleep-deprived, none of us are morning people anyway, and we are hunting down a laundromat to wash tie-dyed shirts to wear to our cousin's soccer game. :) 

The shirts came out okay for the first time doing it - none of them really ended up being what we had in mind, but they were cheap and it was just to support the blue ASU team, so they worked out just fine! Then, it was time to dye our hair blue. And blue it was! That stuff smelled so terrible...we had to run out of there on multiple occasions just to breathe in fresh air. According to my sister, it smelled like cancer. That was the only way she could describe it, although cancer doesn't have a smell. Just typical 'us' being us. NBD. So, at that point, we had blue hair, and we were covered in glitter. Josh was taking a nap and it was time to wake him up and blue-ify him. Yes, it's a word, just go with it ;). But before doing so, we set out to Wal-Mart again {after we were blue, mind you} to search for blue lipstick. Lucky for us, we didn't find any, but the stares we got for having blue glittered hair and blue tie-dyed shirts were hysterical! It's definitely a must and we'd highly recommend it. Ha! So, back to the hotel we went to recruit Josh to our blue group. Once we were all blued out and packed up, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Chili's to eat, since we still had a few hours until the game started. More stares. Awesome. But I don't blame them, there was a pack of blue people just chillin' out, eating some lunch. Ha! And we kept commenting, "We're BLUE!" to each other, because every time we'd look at each other, we'd bust out laughing because we couldn't believe just how blue we were! Seriously funny stuff. The things we do for family! :)

We headed to the game to cheer on #26! And we definitely stood out - I mean, we were BLUE! And not just blue, but bright ass blue. Sooo much blue. And sooooo much glitter! We could probably be seen from the space station. Ahahahhaa! Funny stuff. Seriously. So we sat through the game on a grass mountain and cheered on for ASU. It was a great game! Both teams were aggressive and were making great plays. Ultimately, however, ASU lost 2-1. And as soon as Haley walked up to us, her words were, "Y'all look crazy!" Ha! Success on our part :). Crazy and supportive and blue was just what we were going for! Winner winner, chicken dinner. She took a super quick shower so we could talk with her a while before they had to load up the bus and head home. It was so good to see her again and to be able to support her in the only way our family knows how: show up, and be blue! No other way to do it, in my opinion. She of course had to get a picture with her blue #cousinfanclub...memories we'll cherish forever!!

We then started on our 4 hour drive back to the ATX and got home around 9pm. We made the drive entertaining as to stay awake and not be bored out of our minds with the lack of things to look at - there were so many small towns and just openness...we kept spotting La Quintas {because that's the hotel we stayed at} and Cracker Barrel's {because that's the restaurant the team ate at on Friday night} all the way into Austin. It made for some laughs. 

In all, we had an awesome weekend all hanging out and supporting Haley on her soccer venture. She's a great athlete and we love watching her play! It was great to get out of Austin for a weekend and just have some crazy, random fun. :) I think she appreciates it, too.

And, just to give you a few close-ups of just how blue I was....

*And it did wash out pretty easily! Just two shampoo's and a lot of scrubbing took care of it!

Dallas soccer weekend was a huge success! :)
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Government Shutdown 2013

There has been so much drama and craziness surrounding the current shutdown of our government. I, for one, am no political genius or political anything for that matter. I know enough to understand the current events {well, most of them anyway} in our society and I move on with my life. And honestly, the only reason that I know as much as I do about this whole 'government shutdown' thing is because I work for the government. Consider this my disclaimer. :)

First of all, it's been 17 years since the federal government last faced a partial shutdown because Congress and the President couldn't agree on a spending bill. Basically, Congress must pass laws to spend money. If Congress can't agree on a spending bill {or if the President vetoes it}, the government does not have the legal authority to spend money. Not okay. The current shutdown revolves around this: the Republican-controlled House has passed a spending bill that maintains spending levels but does not provide funding to implement the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The Democratic Senate insists that the program be fully funded and that Congress pass what they call a 'clean' CR (continuing resolution). 

And now, a little history of government shutdowns. Usually, shutdowns last no more than three days, with some even lasting less than a day. There have been 17 government shutdowns since 1977, per the Congressional Research Service. The longest shutdown was also the most recent: from December 16, 1995 through January 5, 1996 - 21 days. So far this time, we're on day 3.

Now, how does that affect us? Well, let's take a look. National Parks and monuments are shut down - yep, that includes Yosemite, the Smithsonian, the Statue of Liberty, and Holocaust Museum. Tax returns would possibly be delayed, especially if you file a paper return. The IRS will suspend all audit activities. The WIC program will take a hit - no money will be available to pay the administrative costs of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The National Institutes of Health will not be able to accept new patients or begin clinical tests. New gun permits won't be processed. Call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans understand their benefits close. New applications for small business loans and loan guarantees will be immediately halted. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees including many charged with protecting us from terrorist threats, defending our borders, inspecting our food, and keeping our skies safe will work without pay until the shutdown ends. And hundreds of thousands of additional Federal workers will be furloughed without pay - it just depends.

So, what's not affected? Well, social security beneficiaries will continue receiving checks. The U.S. Postal Service will continue delivering mail. Active military continue serving. Air traffic controllers, prison guards, and border patrol agents will remain on the job. NASA Mission Control will continue supporting astronauts serving on the Space Station. The majority of Homeland Security will stay on the job. The President's $400,000 salary is mandatory spending, so he will be paid.

Want a more specific list? Check out CNN's article on What's closed, what's open? 

This morning, my coworker talked about some reports her friend saw on the news regarding children being turned away from Cancer centers and having to perform certain medical procedures from home. Sickening.

I believe part of the importance of this situation is really understanding it! I have done so much research and talked to attorneys and higher-ups this week regarding all of this that it's unreal! It's taken over. And God only knows how long it will last. So, education is key!


But with all of that going on, today, I am thankful.

I'm thankful that I still have a job to go to. In fact, I have two. Yes, I work for the state, but I am not furloughed. I continue to go to work every morning knowing I will get paid as usual. For that, I am thankful.

I'm thankful that I do not have any serious medical problems that are affected by this shutdown. And I pray for all of those out there that do. I cannot even begin to imagine how stressful, frustrating, and miserable it must be to figure this all out. Who is open? What benefits will you continue receiving? Will you have to figure out an alternative to something? God bless the men and women out there struggling with this new 'normal', however long it lasts.

I'm also thankful for a wonderful, loving family. I've lent an ear and shoulder to cry on recently to more than one person struggling with family issues {completely unrelated to the shutdown, but still}. It reminds me that I am blessed with amazing, supportive parents and quirky, loving, caring siblings. We have and will continue to go out of our way to help each other, even if we're getting on each other's nerves. The petty fights are nothing. We have love. And we show love. And we are blessed. For that, I am grateful. Every single day, I thank God for his mercy and blessings bestowed upon my family.

I'm thankful for the opportunity that I have to assist victims of violent crime. No, we cannot help everyone, and yes, I get yelled at daily by victims and grieving loved ones, but it's worth it. It's not easy, but every time that I tell the victim or grieving loved one that we will be able to help them financially with the evil that has burdened their life, hearing the tears of joy and unending thanks that has hit their hearts, it makes it all worthwhile. The good outweighs the bad. We do help. We do good. For that, I am so thankful.

I am most importantly thankful to God for my faith. I know that I am saved and that I serve an awesome God. In good times and in bad, I know that it is His will and His plan. That faith continues to grow each and every day, and for that, I am thankful. I am thankful for all that He has given me, for I know that I am undeserving. I am a sinner. But He forgives me for what I have done. He knows the path that lies ahead for me, and having unwavering faith in Him and in His plan for my life, whatever purpose He has me here for, it leaves me with peace. Peace in knowing Him and serving Him. I know from experience that life is not easy. And this government shutdown is another example for those that are affected by it. God never said life would be easy, but He did say it would be worth it!  For that, I am forever thankful.

So, I challenge you. Today, be thankful. Even if it seems the world is crashing down upon you and you carry the weight of it on your shoulders, find something to be thankful for. Let go of the festering anger and hatred and resentfulness that you carry for whatever it may be, and just be thankful. We need a little happiness to go along with the doom and gloom of this shutdown. No, we don't know what lies ahead for our country. But in the face of it all, give thanks for the blessings in your life.

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