Friday, May 24, 2013

the biggest spectacle in racing

There's no better way to end a work week than knowing that you are coming up to a three-day weekend.  Happy early Memorial Day!  Here are my 5 silver linings this week (linking up with Lauren):

1.  Indy 500 on Sunday.  Aka the Biggest Spectacle in Racing and the most exciting event in Indianapolis all year.  We live for Race Day here, y'all.  We'll be sitting right across from the pits - my favorite part is to watch the cars come in & out of the pits (and nearly crash into each other every time).

2.  A taco date with some of my favorite ladies this week was a great mid-week break from work and led me to write this post on the importance of gal pals.

3.  Steve and I were in Houston this past weekend for a college friend's wedding (I wrote about it in this post).  So good to see old friends and stomp around my hometown with my sister for a while! 

4.  Pacers v. Heat.  George v. Lebron.  I've never been a big NBA fan... until Steve and I started dating.  Now, the Pacers are my boys.  I may have the slightest obsession with Roy Hibbert.  But anyway, Games 2 and 3 of the Pacers v. Heat playoffs are this weekend, with Game 3 here in town on Sunday after the Indy 500.  I'm stoked.
Roy dominating Lebron... NBD.
5.  Only 1 week until Steve and I head down to Florida to celebrate our first anniversary!  Until then, I will be daydreaming about this view of our resort.

Enjoy your long weekend! 

girl talk

Marriage has taught me a lot about myself.  It's taught me how I like to love and be loved, how I tend to fight, what little things matter to me (like putting the toilet seat down, ahem Steve!), what I cherish in friendships both with my spouse and with others, how I actually need alone time every once in a while - seriously, this came as quite a shock to me because I am a huge extrovert -  and when I need to just sit back and relax. 
One of the biggest things I have learned over this past almost-year of marriage is the importance of girl friends in my life.  You'd think that once a girl marries her guy, he fills the "best friend" spot in her life and she doesn't need her girl friends as much any more.  Couldn't be more wrong.

When Steve and I first got married, we felt that we had to spend every waking moment together.  We were married now, so of course we should be inseparable, right?  After all, weren't we each other's best friend?  If we ate out for dinner, we did it together.  If we watched a movie, we watched it together.  If we met up with friends, it was for a double date.  Now I am a big fan of quality time - it's actually my primary love language - but this approach to marriage was not sustainable for us.  It wore us both down and actually ended up driving us apart.  I began resenting all the time we spent together, and Steve, the natural introvert, felt overwhelmed by the constant togetherness combined with the pressures of living up to the "married life" standard, and withdrew into himself as a result. 

The truth is, for a marriage to thrive, both husband and wife need to thrive individually in it.  We left no time in our married life for us to continue to grow as individuals, and the effect was that we drained each other.
I am glad that we learned this about ourselves so early on in our marriage.  Sure, it wasn't fun working through this stuff when we were supposed to be in "newlywed bliss."  But I think our relationship is healthy and sustainable because we experienced what was not sustainable (for our relationship, not necessarily for others) so soon after our wedding. 
Once we realized what was happening in our relationship, Steve and I both began taking steps to regain a sense of "self."  One of those steps for me was reconnecting with old girl friends of mine.  Setting aside time to grab coffee or dinner with the ladies.  Starting a bible study with two wonderful sisters in Christ.  Calling my long-distance gal pals and checking in more than once every few months.  And let me tell you, I didn't realize how much I had been missing those female friendships until they were back in the works again!   
 Last night, I met up with three dear friends at a local taco bar for happy hour and dinner.  There was warm weather, good food and great conversation.  The perfect girls' night.
We all became friends when we worked together - our first law firm jobs out of law school. 
Three of us have since left that firm, but we still stay in touch and now try to get together at least once a month.  We may no longer be work colleagues, but I think we will be great friends for years to come.  I'm so thankful for these ladies.
Girl friends are good for the soul.  I'm so blessed to have such lovely ladies in my life who can walk beside me through my career, my marriage and the general ups and downs of life.  And the best part is, spending time with my girls has helped me grow and mature... which in turn has strengthened and blessed my marriage.  It's a win-win-win!

There's real truth to "girl power."  Cherish your girl friends, ladies.  They are a blessing.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
― C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

weddings, tacos and andrew luck

This past weekend was great.  We headed back down to Houston for another wedding - this time, one of my dear friends from college, Jessie, got hitched!
Jessie and I first became friends at Rice U. when we lived at Brompton Apartments.  She has such a kind heart and I'm so happy she has found her Stephen, who is her perfect match.  The wedding was beautiful and Jessie was such a gorgeous bride!  Sadly enough, I didn't take many pictures over the weekend and the ones I did take were on my phone. Oops.  But my roommate did so if/when I get more I'll add them!  

The weekend was jam-packed with great memories.  Here are a few of the highlights:
-Staying with my college roommate and looking through tons of old pictures
-A trip to Rice Village, complete with an awkward drooling pig fountain
-Lots and lots of Mexican food.  Seriously - Steve managed to have Mexican food at every.single.meal.  Only in Houston... 
-Reminiscing on the good ole' days with the old college crowd   
-Delicious brunch at the Hobbit Cafe (the entire restaurant is LOTR themed!)
-Seeing Shelby multiple days in a row (I miss my little sis like crazy)
-Late night taco trip
-Baker kids reunion
-Going to my old college church with my little sister 
-Soaking up that Texas sunshine
-And of course, catching up with old friends at the wedding!  

One of my favorite things about weddings is the chance to reunite with old friends.  I was lucky to have a great group of close friends in college.  Even though I left TX after graduation and don't make it back home very often, any time we all get back together is so much fun.  

Such a great weekend.  Oh, and did I mention that Andrew Luck just happened to be on our flight back to Indy??  The perfect end to a great trip.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

happy mother's day

“There's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. And behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin.”
―    Mitch Albom
Happy Mother's Day to my sweet grandmothers, each of whom I admire very much and, most importantly, to my dearest beloved mom, who has the biggest heart of anyone that I know. 

I am honored to be a part of the legacy you all have passed down through the women of our family - one that centers around love of Christ, love of family, kindness, respect and a quiet peace that can be found only in a woman who places her life and her heart in the Lord's hands.

I love you very much.

Friday, May 10, 2013

high five for friday

1.  Spring has arrived in our backyard!  Such a great reminder of how God is making all things new.

2.  I finally got around to seeing Silver Linings Playbook and let me tell ya, it was fantastic.  Steve and I rented it for a date night over the weekend and were both blown away.  If you haven't seen it, you should. 
I have to admit I pretty much knew I was going to like the film even before I saw it, since its title is so similar to that of this blog, but still - it's excellent.  Oh, and Jennifer Lawrence is superb. 

3.  My love of running has returned along with the return of warmer (and sunnier) weather.  I think it's mainly that I can't resist the chance to get outside and soak up some Vitamin D.  Here's my view from an after-work run this week.

4.  Steve surprised me with Ritters on an impromptu date night.  I love all kinds of ice cream, but Ritters has been a life-long favorite.  (And for the record, it's frozen custard - not ice cream!)

5.  I'm heading up to northwest Indiana this weekend to visit my grandma, Gannie, for Mother's Day while Steve is out of town on a fishing trip with his brothers and dad.  I'm really looking forward to a ladies' weekend and hope to make it down to the beach (where Steve and I got engaged) once or twice while I'm there. 

Have a good weekend!

Friday, May 3, 2013

what a hoot

This week has worn me out.  Work has been very intense and I haven't kept up on sleep.  I've found myself extra-crabby the last several days, and I feel like I've been running on empty.  But I made these little guys my desktop backround in the office and any time I minimize a window, I catch myself smiling at just how cute they are (especially the little upside-down guy!).  I have a special love for owls since they were my college mascot... but don't think there is a single person in the world who can see these little fellas and resist grinning just a little bit.  These little owlets are getting me through this long week.

You can read more about them here.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

camping 101

Steve and I embarked on our second camping adventure this past weekend.  The first time we went camping, we did pretty much everything wrong.  We arrived at the campsite after dark so putting up the tent was...interesting to say the least.  We brought expired food and ended up having nothing but chips for dinner.  It rained pretty much the entire time.  So this time, we were determined to do it right.

For those of you ever contemplating camping, don't be scared!  I have never been much of a camper but Steve and I have found a way to make it enjoyable for both of us.  Not to mention it's a great way to really get out in nature and experience it to the fullest. 

If you're thinking about giving it a try, here are my top 10 camping tips:

1.  Pick a pretty park.  We ventured down to McCormick's Creek State Park in southern Indiana.  It had great hiking trails and bike paths, and was just a short trip away from home.

2. Pick a cozy campsite.  At McCormick's Creek, you can choose to camp "modern" style or "primitive" style.  While "modern" lets you have access to real bathrooms and showers, we found that the campsites were much smaller and filled with RVs since each modern campsite has an electric outlet.  We opted for a "primitive" site, which was further back in the woods and offered a lot more privacy.  (Sidenote: you still get a bathroom in the primitive sites... it's just not as nice :) )
3.  Bring a good tent. I bought this one for Steve for his birthday and it snuggly fits two. It has a rain cover so that if stormy weather arrives, you aren't soaked. See how excited Steve was to use his tent!
4.  Tarps are incredibly helpful.  We laid one down underneath our tent to keep any moisture in the ground from soaking the tent floor.  You'll want one that is just slightly larger than the size of your tent. 
We had an extra, so Steve staked it down in front of the entrance to our tent.  It gave us a clean(-er) space to take off our shoes, etc. before climbing into the tent.
5.  Go overboard on supplies.  No, really.  We were thankful that we decided to bring those extra sleeping pads underneath our sleeping bags, that third flashlight ("just in case") and that extra bag of ice.  Since you're technically in the wilderness enjoying nature, the last thing you want to do is have to drive to the nearest town to pick up something small like paper plates.  Also - bring your own toilet paper.  You'll thank me later.
6. Bring lots and lots of firewood. If you're like us, you'll want the campfire going all evening. It's key to the entire camping experience. Not to mention camping in April can be really cold at night!

7.  Bring your bikes.  It's the best way to get a feel for the land without driving your car everywhere.  It's also a good way to exercise before you eat tons of "camping food" (see #9!)

8.  Plan out your hikes.  The last thing you want to do is get lost in the wilderness miss a big landmark, so get a map from the park office and plot out your hikes or nature walks. 
9.  We didn't want to have to pick just one classic "camping food," so we ate our dinner in multiple courses.  Course 1: hot dogs & baked beans.  Course 2: grilled cheese.  Course 3: smores (of course).  

10.  Take the time to look and listen for God.  There's something about being surrounded by nature that makes me feel closer to the Lord.  I feel as though I can sense Him in the breeze or in the fresh greenness of the blooming trees. 

Go on a short walk by yourself.  Take some time alone to reflect on God's glorious artwork and to commune with Him.  Steve and I both were blessed to really experience Him on this trip.  We now each have places in the Park where I know we will return one day and remember how He spoke to each of our hurting, broken, sinful, human hearts and reminded each of us of His love and faithfulness.  This was by far the highlight of our trip and something I wish for each of you.
Good luck, and happy camping!