On Seasons and Sleep…and Giving Thanks

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It’s been a long time. A really, really long time.

And I don’t know why this morning is any different from the other mornings other than I feel like there are some words. So I should write them, yeah? :)

Potentially it’s because I browsed facebook for all of five minutes this morning and dissolved into a puddle of tears twice because of Humans of New York and CBS. (Thanks, guys.) And then I watched a story last night, too…this one. And it made me weep because that’s just what I do these days, apparently. (Though…major tissue alert. Just sayin’ that right now.)

Maybe those tears are pushing the words out, I don’t know.

Or maybe it’s that the last two nights I’ve been out cold before 9 p.m. (Actually, the first night was 6:30. SIX-THIRTY, y’all.) Clearly I’m catching up on sleep. This is sort of funny, but I fell asleep in my puffer vest and leggings last night…the night before it was in my jeans and hoodie. Who needs pajamas?! πŸ˜‰

At any rate, it’s not even 6:30 a.m. 7 a.m. and I’ve already had two three (and a half) cups of coffee and am considering stock in Kleenex.

So it might be that kind of blog post. We’ll see. But I haven’t written in a long time, and I miss it sometimes. So I’m guessing there will be a lot of words this morning. (You’ve been warned.) :)

It’s honestly been a random sort of existence lately.

I don’t so much remember this with Mae, but I’m sure it happened then, too. It’s just that with her, I never had to be anywhere. We never had to do anything. So our normal was whatever the day brought. With Mac…it’s different.

We have a first grader to keep up with…and she needs to get to school, be picked up, have her mama there for certain things. It’s all good and it’s all beautiful, but it’s changed the baby game plan I had in my head. The kind that looked like two solid naps a day, sleeping through the night…all that good stuff with which I was so incredibly spoiled with Mae. (But I’ve tried not too compare my kids. Too much.) πŸ˜‰

The truth is that I’ve loved watching my daughter grow up, even though it’s bittersweet. Every day I take her to school, and my heart pinches and explodes at the same time…leaving her there. Knowing it’s right, but accepting that it’s going so, so fast. I mean, look at this girl! Seriously. So. Grown. Up.

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She’s such a cool person, in my incredibly unbiased opinion. πŸ˜‰ She writes plays that make us laugh our heads off, she fills up journals at the age of six, she’s asked to “real blog” (though I won’t let her use her domain just yet), she’s rocking the big sister role, and she’s reading chapter books with her reading light, late at night when she’s supposed to be sleeping. She’s got such a tender heart, always praying for others and hurting when they hurt.

I don’t know God’s plans for her, but I know they’re going to be amazing. I just love this girl.

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And watching her be Big Sissy to this Little Man? Oh, my heart. (In a puddle all over the floor.) I was so, so worried about two kids, girl and boy, six years apart. And, yet…Mac completes our family…and these two. Just the best.

Baby boy keeps growing and changing because that’s what little boys do, and it seems like it’s already going way too fast. Flying.Β HOW is he four months old already?!Β  He’s rolling over and moving around tons, and I think he’s getting ready to crawl. OY. And, judging by the amount of drool he produces, I’m pretty sure that teeth aren’t too far off either. WHERE is time going? Ah, this face. Melting again.

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It’s Thanksgiving week, and I really love this time of year. It’s starting to get colder, which might not be my favorite…but a change in seasons always makes me stop and think about life and how there are always changes. Challenges. Sometimes pain. But a lot of joy, too.

On Saturday, fall-ish winter finally arrived. I (somewhat painfully) put the flip flops away and put on an actual coat as the temps dipped into the 20’s and 30’s…and I was forced to reconcile with the fact that my toes will now need to be covered for approximately five months. (Give or take. And here in the bi-polar Midwest, it will probably be give.) :)

Sometimes I gripe about change, but the truth is that I enjoy it most of the time. I like the surprises of life, and I love a good adventure. Sometimes change brings hurt, too…but I’m learning to deal with that. Just like I’m learning to put on a winter coat. Because…reality. I live in Illinois, and it’s November. πŸ˜‰

Our last year has been full of change, for sure.

Sometimes I look back and am amazed we survived. Or, me at least. πŸ˜‰ A year ago, I’d just seen the positive pregnancy test, and a few days later I was already vomiting my guts out. (Sorry for that bit of graphic information.) And as the weeks progressed, it became apparent that, if baby was going to make it, I needed help. (And IVs and lots and lots of medication.) We were scared…there are side effects and unknowns that come with those things, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was worried there would be something wrong with my baby boy. But God…He’s good, and Mac is healthy. Though I do wish he’d take naps! (We’ll save that post for another day.) πŸ˜‰

macmommy-finalSorry for my freakishly large-looking hand.
Selfies will do that to ya.
πŸ˜‰

I truly have so, SO much to be thankful for, and no doubt, topping the list is a sweet little boy named Mac. My little family, my friends…many of whom ARE my family, a place to live, more than I will ever need, prayers answered beyond what I could have imagined by a Father Who loves me more than I will ever understand.

Life is really good, even if it’s really random.

And thank goodness there’s coffee to help survive the random. πŸ˜‰

This has always been one of my favorite songs. It’s been around awhile now, but…I still love it. Maybe having a listen will bless your day, too.

I’m so thankful for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Sig

On Life and Road Trips (and Dill Pickle Peanuts)

mountain road finalphoto credit: unsplash.com

A sweet friend has been encouraging me lately to find my words again. I’ve known I need to, so why not today?

Oh, words. You are both a gift and my nemesis. Why must it be that way?

But I’m sitting here in my Superwoman t-shirt, the juniors size large that I bought and stretched over my belly even though it is SO. NOT. a maternity shirt, and maybe the silver logo is helping me feel a little more super-ish. So we’ll try and see where this all goes.

It IS May, after all. And baby is due in two months, and I haven’t written a word here in over four.

It’s definitely time to talk again.

Like I said, baby is due soon-ish. Which means that Mel’s belly is more than a little big-ish. I feel huge, even if people keep telling me I’m all baby. (I’m not…there is definitely more in, AHEM, other places.) But in the interest of keeping readers and because I haven’t taken a single belly shot, here we all go. (At least my hair is/was sorta cute today.) :)

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I’m feeling a lot better. Two months of IVs and a medicine pump did wonders, and sometimes I’m just incredibly amazed at how good I feel. There’s nothing quite like feeling death-ish (man, I really like -ish today) for months to make a person appreciate the good days.

The coffee love is back (thank you, Jesus) as is the burrito love. And other things. Like baked potatoes and steak tacos and french fries. And salad because all things need balance, yeah? But I will just tell you that this little guy is making me HUNGRY. (He’d better be cute to account for all the extra pounds I’ve packed on.) πŸ˜‰

So now we’re really just in countdown mode. (And paint-the-nursery and buy-a-new-stroller-and-carseat modes.) Guess what? If you wait too long between your kiddos, their carseats expire. Who knew? Now we do. :)

Sadly, though, baby S will still be stuck with a pink pack and play. But I’m sure he’ll survive.

So I road-tripped it down south this past weekend. It was my longest to-date, and to be honest, I’m kind of surprised that I did it. And now that I’ve actually driven 13+ hours one way, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I met up with a friend in Chattanooga, and then we drove down to Auburn, Alabama, to meet up with a couple more friends. I had no idea how far I actually drove (1,798 miles round trip!) until I looked at a map. It was long! And, surprisingly…a lot of fun.

Honestly, I needed some good alone time…to process, to pray, and, yes, to hold my own little concerts. (Funny story…I forgot that my hubby’s dash cam records everything. Ahem. I made him swear he wouldn’t go back and listen.) πŸ˜‰ And by the time I’d survived (and YES, I mean SURVIVED) Nashville rush hour, I was so ready to see my friend.

Two more hours of winding mountain roads that made a gorgeous drive, and we were reunited.

We laughed, we talked late into the night…and it felt like I’d known her forever even if this is only the second time that we’ve met face to face.

coffee with Jenn finalphoto props to Jenn and her awesome selfie skills πŸ˜‰

LOVE HER. (This pic is from our first meeting…coffee several weeks ago.)

And the next morning we headed down to Alabama, and then our group was complete. We had three days of girl time and deep chats and laughter over some of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard, times of prayers and tears, and even a little shopping in one of the cutest towns I’ve ever seen.

Oh, and lots. LOTS. LOTS. OF. FOOD. (How did I not photograph this?) I guess I was too busy stuffing my face with mac ‘n cheese, chicken casserole, cinnamon rolls, pickle wraps, pepper jam on crackers, banana pudding…are you drooling yet? πŸ˜‰

In all honesty, the whole weekend was an incredible gift, one that I didn’t know I needed so badly. These women are such a sweet blessing.

GSD selfie finalphoto props to Jenn…again. πŸ˜‰

I hadn’t realized how lonely I was until I spent this time with friends. This pregnancy and all it’s brought with it…has been lonely. And just really, really hard.

That’s nobody’s fault, really. It’s just this phase of life and where we are. I choose to be content with the days as they fall, but sometimes it’s hard. And so when I get a gift like this past weekend, coming off it is almost a little depressing.

Distance is hard, and I miss them already.

But in the meantime, between visits…we pray, we Vox, we connect when we can. And you’d better believe I’ll be making some banana pudding soon…you know, in honor of my friends. πŸ˜‰ And I also got myself hooked on dill pickle flavored peanuts…I had no clue they would be so good, but I sort of inhaled them. πŸ˜‰ Sadly, I could only find the cashews on my drive back, but I’ve still got one bag left.Β  And, heck, they’re so good, maybe they’ll get their own blog post. πŸ˜‰

dill pickle cashews final

So life has been busy, it’s been full…and God is good.

In all seasons, in every day…no matter what it all looks like.

Here’s to words again…thanks for being here.

Sig

The Random of July…

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I really have no clue how today is August. Did this catch anyone else by surprise?

I knew time would fly this summer, but I didn’t expect it to go quite so quickly. But we’re coming to the end, and goodbye, July. :(

I usually close out each month with a list of favorite things. And when I started to make that list, I sort of started to feel guilty.

I haven’t read much of anything this month. (Though I have Wild in the Hollow sitting on the table next to me. Now I just need two or three, blissfully uninterrupted hours and a cup of coffee. I’m very much looking forward to it.) πŸ˜‰

I haven’t watched much, either. (Except season 7 of Little House on the Prairie. I’m watching them in order. It’s not my favorite one so far, but it’s good.)

Of course I have favorite things I wear because I’m a girl and I like clothes. And hubby bought me the uber cutest, most funky dress (it has POCKETS!) from my new favorite store as a late birthday surprise, and it will be making an appearance sometime over the weekend…either at church or on our anniversary on Monday. But, really, who wants to read about another dress?

Ok, ok, so maybe you do. I’ll share someday. πŸ˜‰

But I sort of feel like I fell off the favorite things bandwagon just a tad. So I’m going to sum up the month of July with the random of life. That’s good too, right? In this case, the random are also favorites. :)

Every July my sweet friend comes to visit from Texas for the month. Her parents live in our neighborhood, and so she brings her son with her, and they hang out here, visiting family while escaping the oppressive, summer-Texas heat. (I’m just guessing it’s oppressive…I’ve never actually experienced it.) πŸ˜‰ She and I have shared many coffees and long chats in the last weeks, our two kiddos have had a blast together, and we’ve so loved having them here. They’re leaving tomorrow to go home…and we’re really going to miss them. Like, the kind of missing where if I think about it too long, I’ll cry. Love you, sweet friend.

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I decided I needed a summer project so I built a picnic table. (Yes, you read that right.) πŸ˜‰ Other than minimal help from my hubby, this gorgeous, yellow-and-turquoise, work of art is mine. I love it…and I look forward to many, many coffees and talks happening here. It’s technically supposed to find a home in the side yard where anyone can sit down and enjoy it, but it’s been in our backyard since I finished it. It’s also become my sanctuary and my early morning happy place. And at least for now, I need it to be that way, and it’s right. (And, also, I pretty much finger painted that flower, and I think I love it.) πŸ˜‰

picnic table final

I tacked on another year this past month, and I confessed to my husband that 37 feels so much older than 36. I know it’s really all mental, but wow. I’m three years away from 40. And also three years away from a celebration of epic proportions. Let the planning commence. πŸ˜‰

My sweet girlie heads to Kindergarten in exactly 18 days. I don’t know what to do with this, but I know the sight of her adorable little uniforms hanging in her closet about makes the dam burst. Good grief, how are we HERE? And she’s so excited so I’m cheering her on with all I have, but some days it’s not much. I just can’t believe it’s gone so fast.

And speaking of milestones, Tobin and I are celebrating 13 years on Monday. I know that in the grand scheme of life, 13 isn’t huge, but to me…to us…it feels like a place we weren’t always sure we’d see. This marriage thing is hard, and I’m pretty sure we’ve had more challenging days than easy ones. But I’m glad we stuck it out…and I’m truly looking forward to many more years with him. He’s smart, funny, an awesome daddy, takes care of us so well, and will do just about anything…however completely embarrassing and ridiculous…to make me smile. Blessed, we are. I think we’re kind of adorable, too. πŸ˜‰

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So here’s to celebrations and finding ways to squeeze out the last bits of summer. It’s been a good one…and I hope that for you, too. :)

Thanks for hanging around my space and for being here. Love and happy August all around!

Sig

Confessions from an Ominous Monday

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My 5 year-old has recently started using the word, ominous.

It’s hilarious…and also kind of impressive. I may be a writer and I may have even used the word once or twice in my life, but I had to consult other sources to make sure I actually knew what it meant.

Ominous: portending evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; inauspicious;
an ominous bank of dark clouds.

She was totally using it in the right context, and that made it even better.

So I bring you the tales…ahem, confessions…from an ominous Monday in the Schroeder house. (I think I might really like using this word…) πŸ˜‰

We were gone all weekend with some friends to their cabin in Wisconsin. It was fabulous. Good friends, sunshine, boats, tubing, food. LOTS AND LOTS OF FOOD. I gained five pounds. (I know, I know. Just stay off the scale, Mel.)

But of course, life had to return to whatever our normal is…and so I bring you the first ominous part of my Monday, which was also WHY I had to be on that darn scale.

Life. Insurance. It’s good and we should all have it. And, apparently, if you want to make sure things are in order if you die, they also make you get a physical. My hubby scheduled it for SEVEN A.M. ON. A. MONDAY.

Don’t worry, there is zero bitterness in my heart. Zero.

πŸ˜‰

And so I dragged myself out of bed way too early for the dreaded step on the scale and then the blood draw. (Yes, blood. Grrr…) And I got to be reminded (because I accidentally saw the number I didn’t want to see) that I ate entirely too many nachos and cheese puffs over the weekend.

But we survived, and my daughter slept in until 8:30, so Monday was still looking like it might have some promise.

And then I walked into the kitchen and realized we were out of coffee.

Friends, this is NEVER a good combination on a Monday. Especially on a Monday.

I panicked slightly and then accepted that I would just have to go to the grocery store, which is not my favorite.

And then I remembered the K-cups and the fact that on mornings when I have to be somewhere, I use the Keurig. However…I was going to be home for the morning, and I wanted A. WHOLE. POT.

Don’t judge.

And so? I emptied the K-cups into the coffee filter and made my coffee that way, thus creating the most expensive pot of coffee the world has ever seen.

And Maelie woke up, and we were both just trying to figure out life and mornings again since, apparently, when you remove yourself from normal life for 48 hours, any and all semblance of routine flies out the window. She made her way through a few My Little Pony episodes, I folded a few loads of laundry, and then it was noon, and I was like, OH.

Well, we should probably do something with our lives today.

And so we went to Menard’s because I like to walk into stores like that and pretend I know what I’m doing. I bought two quarts of mustard yellow paint that I had the dude at the counter color match for me. And he didn’t tell me that buying a whole stinkin’ gallon was CHEAPER than two quarts. (So maybe his day is about to get a little ominous, too…) πŸ˜‰

And then I bought a picnic table, too, and made grand plans to create the whole thing, in its mustard yellow glory, on my lawn this week.

Except I can’t get over that I spent $36 on pAinT. I’m not entirely sure that’s ok.

Thus, the ominous Monday continues.

And Maelie and I manage to dash in and out of the grocery store, buying only what’s on the list…holy miracle of miracles, to be sure.

And we came home, and I realized that, due to my incredibly lazy morning, my step count was ridiculously low for the day. And yet, it felt like it was about 110 outside, and the pool was just begging for our presence. And so I dragged the cover off and we jumped in.

Except I still needed to get my steps in.

And so I ran laps. LAPS. In my daughter’s 12-foot-wide, 30-inch-deep pool.

And then I texted a friend and confessed the awesomeness embarrassment of lap running in a tiny pool with no privacy fence, and she told me how much she wished she was home and sitting on her front porch to watch the whole thing. See? True friends will always be there for you…and maybe laugh at you just a little, too. πŸ˜‰

And my daughter, as AWESOME AS EVER, actually took a selfie with me because she hasn’t quite reached that, please-may-I-hide-and-then-die-under-a-rock, phase.

And so…that was my ominous Monday, though I’m not really sure it was very ominous. (It was really fun to overuse a new word, though!) πŸ˜‰

And it’s about to get even more ominous because I’m tackling a new recipe, and while I am over-the-moon, excited about zucchini noodles, I’m pretty sure my hubby and daughter won’t be entirely on board with the whole, let’s-turn-our-veggies-into-pasta, thing. (Remember how I said I gained five pounds? I sort of wasn’t kidding. And so I’m determined to shed it THIS WEEK.)

For all the ominousness…there I go again…I’m smiling.

It was a really wonderful weekend…worth every pound. My daughter just continues to sparkle up my days, and I feel so incredibly thankful to have her in my life. And my husband…when he’s not grumpy with me about how much I spent on paint…is pretty great, too. (It’s gonna be 13 years in just a few weeks, and I kind of can’t wrap my head around that. How are we at 13?!?!)

It’s just been a good summer. And maybe next week I’ll write more about why that means so much.

Thanks for being here. I hope your Monday was a little less ominous than mine. :)

Sig

Just Life on a Friday

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I know myself well enough to realize that when the blog has been quiet for too long, I just need to write.

Something.

Anything.

Well, not exactly anything…but at least sentences that tell a story or two.

The truth is that the last few weeks have been full of writing for myself…but not for anyone else. I think I intended to share more than I actually did (which would be No.Thing.) but life just got in the way, I guess.

But words felt necessary today…and so here are some. They’re random, but it’s been a random week, so I’m just gonna roll with it.

πŸ˜‰

My girl finished PK this week, and I honestly have no idea what to even do with it all.

I cried because who doesn’t cry when their sweet kiddo reaches a milestone? Plus, Kindergarten? How is she old enough for this???

And then the two of us went out for frappuccino minis, which really translated to I-needed-to-go-to-Target-for-shampoo; how-convenient-that-Starbucks-is-here-too. That kind of thing, you know?

And we smiled and laughed as we walked through the store, and I thought about how awesome it is to have such an amazing little girl to share my days with. (I just wish those days didn’t fly by quite so quickly.)

A few days ago, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. It was also 46 degrees, according to my iPhone. I didn’t really believe my phone because Mae and I were both outside in tank tops and we weren’t cold AT ALL. And also, my shoulders turned a shade of red that I don’t usually see until that day mid-July when I forget to reapply the sunblock.

Yeah, I got fried in May. IN. MAY.

And also I’m pretty sure the weather app was broken because No. One. Burns. In. 46. Degree. Weather. (Just let me be right here, ok?) πŸ˜‰

I am more than ready for warm weather to make an appearance for longer than a few days at a time.

And if that randomness doesn’t scare you off… πŸ˜‰

I spent three days eating red meat for every meal this week. (As in, to the point that it was becoming gross.) Before you start thinking that I have weird eating habits, let’s just say I wanted, in the worst way, to get my iron levels up so I could donate blood. Because, yeah, they stink, no matter how much steak I eat. You know it’s bad when I walk into the room and tell them to do the finger prick part before I sit through all the paperwork.

And also, I failed again. (My husband asked me if I was ready to give up yet. Never.)

And after my last few end-of-the-month blog posts…you know, the ones when I share all my favorites? Yeah, I decided I needed to read more books. So I’ve been reading a lot.

I laughed my way through Sophie Hudson’s A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. I cracked open A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the second time…I didn’t finish it the first, and I’m actually almost done with it. And then a few days ago, I finally opened Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, and an hour later I looked up, and I was almost on page 100.

So I think it’s safe to say I’m doing just fine in the reading books department. And also, yay for expanding my reading horizons. I feel proud of myself. :)

And I’m also really looking forward to summer with my girl.Β 

We’ve got a whole summer, friends! It’s been fun to hear her talk about the things she wants to do. Parks, picnics, play dates, swimming, froyo, birthday celebrations…she’s an easy (and fun!) kid to please.

She’s not asking for the moon, though if she did, I’d probably try to find a way. πŸ˜‰

So I’m praying that God will give us an extra wonderful few months together…and also that He’ll redeem last summer.

It feels like we’ve lived a lifetime since last July. And, maybe in some ways, we have.

We’ve seen loss and walked grief. We’ve found joy on the other side of it…and days that still hurt and pinch in painful ways.

I suppose it might be how this life looks from here on out.

We’ve found ways to surrender dreams and keep walking with Him. And Trust.

That’s been the hardest part of it.

But in the midst, there’s been so much good. And He has been good.

The other day my girl was picking “all the pretty yellow flowers” in our yard, giving them to me one by one. And I thought about how God has been so good about giving us those pieces of tangible beauty despite the pain of the journey…a verse, a text, a prayer, a flower, a surprise coffee from a friend, sweet time with my hubby and girl, friends who have loved us so well.

We’re really blessed…even if there are days when it’s hard to see purpose.

And I hope this Friday morning finds you counting your blessings, too. Thanks for being here, even when I take huge, bloggy vacations. πŸ˜‰

Sig

April Friday Favorites {+ a GIVEAWAY!)

NYC family final
Well, given that I’ve barely written a single word this month, I figured I’d better get my word quota finished in one post.

Sorry about that…this one’s pushing has long passed 1,500. (But I think it’s worth reading, just for the giveaway at the end!) πŸ˜‰

Some months are like that…and, honestly, there’s been a lot of processing going on…just not a lot of sharing the words. I’m finally good with that, I think.

But I really love this end-of-the-month post…the chance to update and just share my faves with y’all. And there were a ton this month because, between Easter (helllooooooo, cute dresses!) and a crazy-busy, FUN week of vacation for the three of us, there are just lots of stories to share.

So let’s get to it?

OH. And I’m throwing in another category…EAT. Because…NYC and Philly. πŸ˜‰

I’ve also got a few fun things to share and a giveaway and the end of this post. Because one cannot travel and discover so many awesome things and NOT share them with the rest of the world, or at least her ten readers, ya know?

I know! (And also, I just love presents.) :)

I bring you the April faves…there are some goodies!!!

Read

So I finished The Hardest Peace. There were a lot of tissues involved…it was one of those books. Heart-wrenching, painful mixed with absolutely beautiful. I recommend it. Read it.

This, too…a friend shared it with me last week, and it’s spot on. Plus, I had a conversation with another friend before she even sent it to me that was basically the same thing. Will you pray for me, friends?

Right now…I’m a mama. And I want to love it completely without wishing for more. My more will come someday.

Also…I’m dying to read the latest Shopaholic book. Just because I haven’t read it yet, and she is stinkin’ FUN. NY.

Watch

My hubby and I have been sorta-kinda-addicted to Flip or Flop on HGTV. Seriously…I have no idea why watching a couple buy houses in absolutely disgusting shape and transform them into stunning beauties is so enthralling, but it is. (Psst…Netflix has the first season available for streaming.) I mostly-seriously said to my husband earlier this week,Β I think you should quit your job and we could flip houses! Wouldn’t it be fun?!

He didn’t go for it.

Ahem.

Also, with the loss of my childhood TV crush last week, Jonathan Crombie (aka: Gilbert Blythe), Anne of Green Gables has been on my TV a lot this week while I’ve drowned my sorrows in red currant wine. (Ok, not really. But someone tweeted that, and I thought it was insanely clever.) πŸ˜‰ I totally bought the DVD trilogy back when…I don’t even know. When it first came out on DVD. Gotta admit that I’m a little devastated. I loved him. I think we all did. :( Rest in peace, Gil.

jonathancrombiephoto credit: IMDB

Wear

I’m still rockin’ the earrings. (At least I think I’m rockin’ em.) Golly, where have I BEEN? Now my ears feel naked without them. I’m loving this pair from Work of Worth, an awesome fair trade company. They’re huge, and these Might. Actually. Take. Over. My. Head.

But I don’t care because they’re so cute. (And I also realized that you can’t see them too well here, but it’s late and I’m lazy. But I did manage to take this in my kitchen. Really, Mel?! OY.) :)

another earring selfie final
And, this dress. So, funny story. I ordered it from Maurices a week before Easter, which is a lot in the ordering-online-from-Maurices, world. (They are usually up there with Amazon Prime in terms of shipping. Yep.) But it didn’t even ship by Thursday night, even though I’d ordered it Sunday. And so I dashed…dashed…out of the Maundy Thursday service and sped (just a little) my bum over to the closest Maurices, skidding in the door ten minutes before they closed.

Aaaahhhh…breathe. They had it in stock. In my size. And, I LOVE it. It’s my new favorite dress. Maybe forever. :) Also, if you want one, you should buy it pretty fast because it’s selling out quick. I’m a 6ish, sometimes size 8, and I bought a medium. It was perfect.

Here we are on Easter. We’re cute, I know. And also, these two are my favorite favorites. :)

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Eat

Ok. I’m a world traveler, and I love…LOVE…seeing new places. But my husband and I have confessed, many times, that while we’ve seen the world, we haven’t exactly seen our own country.

And so we added a couple new places two weeks ago…and the whole vacation deserves its own post, which it’s going to get…but I couldn’t not mention how much I now love the East Coast. Philly was fun, the bit of it we saw, and the friends we saw it with were even better. My introduction to the city happened at Reading Terminal Market in the form of this donut.

And, really, there’s a REASON there’s already a bite out of it. Warm, gooey, cream filled, salted caramel-ly…it was beyond delicious.

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Go ahead. I’ll wait while you clean the drool off of your keyboard.
πŸ˜‰

That was the best donut ever. I’m still thinking about it. Often. (The coffee there was pretty awesome, too.)

And when we decided to do NYC for a day, I knew I couldn’t go there without getting a bagel with lox. Dude, I’ve read about these forever, and I had to try one. Had To.

And so when we stopped in a little deli for lunch, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. $3 for a bagel and cream cheese…and I added some smoked salmon. Never even LOOKED at the price.

I figured I’d get a slice or two of salmon, eat my bagel like a real New Yorker, say yum, and call it good. Bucket list, check.

Nope. Tobin comes over to the table with our food. Um, Mel? I’m not even going to tell you how much that bagel cost.

Huh? It’s a bagel with cream cheese AND. SOME. FISH.

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Nope. Apparently, adding TEN INCHES OF SALMON to my bagel shot the price up FOURTEEN DOLLARS! Dude, we’re not poor, but really?! And so, the saga of Mel’s $17 bagel began. (And ended rather quickly because there’s no way I could eat all of that. Or even half.)

It was good. Not the best thing ever, but it was good. And if it happens again, I will specify…how about $2 worth of salmon instead of $14? πŸ˜‰

But there was plenty about New York food to love, and the roasted cashews at Battery Park were a favorite, too. But I’ll get to that all next week. Aaahhh, New York, you now hold a piece of my heart forever. And, also, I need to come back for your pizza. I ran out of stomach space for that one.

But I’ll be back in October, and I can’t wait!!! (More on that one later.) :) :) :)

Listen

God gave me a gift while we were in Pennsylvania…the chance to attend Winsome, a retreat that is the God-sized Dream of a dear sister, Kim. It was a God-thing that the timing and location worked out, and being there was such an amazing gift. I got to reconnect with dear friends, share heart chats and LOTS of coffee, go deeper with friends I didn’t know as well, worship with my hands raised, listen to Truth from women who are doing such incredible work for God…

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The tears are running down my face right now because I just want to go back and do it all again.

One of the moments that weekend that meant so much was when a friend just asked,Β How ARE you?Β And she listened while I went on and on. πŸ˜‰ And she had no idea how much I needed that. And now I miss her like crazy, too.

I also need to write more about the weekend.

So clearly, I have a lot of writing to do. Someone please make me do it? πŸ˜‰

And how ’bout a giveaway? Golly, I love to give presents. :)

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Last week, I was exploring a little town in Iowa when Mae and I made a quick visit there to see some family, and I wandered into a little store, The Silver Spider. I fell in love with pretty much everything there, and it’s a miracle that I walked out without more treats. But I did discover Blue Q bags, and am now carrying a messenger one that I adore. (I also have the bicycle print one on my please-buy-me-this-for-my-birthday, list. Just fyi in case that’s important information for any of you.) πŸ˜‰

But because I loved the bags so much, I bought this zipper pouch for one of you to win! Because, hello. Bicycles = SO. CUTE. and this pouch is awesome. It would work for makeup or a Kindle or your chocolate stash. (An iPad mini fits in there, too, if that gives you an idea of the size.)

And I’m completely on an earring kick lately, in case you haven’t noticed. πŸ˜‰ These are from ViBella, one of my favorite fair trade organizations, and I think they’re adorable…as is pretty much ever piece of jewelry on their site. I hope you’ll give their facebook page a like and then hop over to the site to do a little shopping! Seriously…there are some gorgeous pieces there, and your money is going to provide jobs and education for people in need. Win-win. :)

And because it’s spring (YAY!!!!!!!) and that really deserved more exclamation points, but I’m trying to show some restraint, and because Dunkin’ has their any-size, 99 cent iced coffee between 3-6 pm back…a $5 gift card, which will cover your caffeine fix for a week. (Grammar people, please don’t pick apart that last sentence.) πŸ˜‰

I’m throwing caution to the wind and using Rafflecopter for this one. (Rafflecopter and I have a love/hate relationship.) Click the link below and follow the instructions to enter. Good luck! And I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning.

I’ve missed you all. A lot. Thanks for being here. :)

The happiest of weekends to you. May you find some sunshine and a quiet spot to enjoy it all. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Day Hillary Clinton Made Me Wait For My Coffee

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I’d never been to Mount Vernon before, a teeny little town in Iowa. And I probably wouldn’t have ever entered its city limits except it’s where my brother lives, and so Mae and I hopped over there for a quick visit last week.

I pulled into town on the main street and noticed that the corner, where I needed to turn, was blocked off.

There were lots of people and a few police officers directing traffic, which is kind of a big deal in a little town.

I smiled, took a detour and a few extra turns, and found where I needed to go.

We said our hellos and then we all decided to take a little walk. Little because it is a small town (have I mentioned that?) but it’s a cute small town. If I had to live in one, that might be it. Anyway.

One thing I’m a sucker for is a unique, non-chain, coffee shop. They usually have the best coffee, hands down. And so when my brother and sister-in-law were telling me about this one, Fuel, only a block away, I had to try it.

We wandered toward there, and the crowd I’d seen before was now surrounding the door to this place.

What’s going on?! Move! I’ve got coffee to drink at 4:30 pm!

Ok, ok, so I only thought it… πŸ˜‰

But a girl standing in front of a store informed us that, OF ALL PEOPLE ON THE PLANET, Hillary Clinton was in town.

And? She was drinking coffee at the place that I wanted to go. (Correction: according to Fuel’s Facebook page, she was having tea.)

πŸ˜‰

So there was this day in this little Iowa town. And while there was a lot to love about it…especially the uber cute store I wandered into and walked out of with the current-most-adorable-bag-ever…Hillary Clinton made me wait for my coffee.

Yes, yes she did.

Hubby and I had this little tongue-in-cheek text exchange after it all…I was proud of my wit. πŸ˜‰

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And I’ve got nothing against Hillary, really. I probably won’t be casting my vote for her but that shouldn’t shock any of us. Though, she might have had a better chance if I hadn’t had to wait a day for my brew from Fuel. πŸ˜‰

Which, by the way, was awesome. I had it twice the next day. If you’re ever in Mount Vernon, swing by this little place and say hello. The coffee is yummy, and the people working there were incredibly sweet.

There was also a horse for my girl to ride…the kind when you put in a quarter? YEAH. I hadn’t seen one in ages. Mae loved it, too.

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A total win for this coffee-lovin’ girl and her sweet daughter. :)

P.S. Thank you to almost the entire population of Mount Vernon for letting me get a photo of you. I got impatient waiting to actually get one of Hillary and decided to take your picture instead. πŸ˜‰

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February Friday Favorites

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The longer I write the more I realize how much I love random.

Often, my favorite posts come out when I plan absolutely nothing. I just sit down and dash off words…because that’s the best way for me to be me, exactly as I am. And that’s where I am today.

As I’ve started to write a few more words this year…and we’re getting there…I’m realizing how at home I am with my keyboard and my thoughts. And, of course, my coffee.

Can I just confess right now that we have exactly enough Indonesian coffee to make ONE MORE POT, and I’m heartbroken. I literally can’t bring myself to use it up. And so I sit here, drinking my random, donut shop blend. And it’s still ok, but it’s definitely no Aroma Kopi, which is the best there is. Ever. (Can we just go to Indonesia? Seriously, I’m headed back next year for a visit…I’d love to take a friend along!) :)

So I love Crystal‘s Friday Favorites linkup at the end of every month…just a chance to share some favorites. It’s fun, it’s one of my favorite ways to write and share, and so I’m jumping in and hanging out at her space today. I love it. :)

And now, I bring you some of the current faves.

And I’m sorry there’s no giveaway this month, but I AM giving away something completely awesome on God-sized Dreams in a few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that one. (You WON’T want to miss it!)

Read

I haven’t done much reading lately. I’ve bounced around several of my favorite blogs and caught up with some dear sisters. That’s probably been my favorite reading for the month. Here are two that spoke to me so deeply.

My friend, Gindi, was featured at Kristin Schell‘s blog this week. I completely adore her story of community and how God is weaving that into her heart and life. I’m also completely jealous that it is warm enough in Texas to have a turquoise table in her front yard, year-round. I have to wait until spring, but I’m hoping there will be one in my front yard soon, too! Gindi is one of my dear friends, and I hope you will stop by to read her beautiful words.

This post really got me. Hard. God has been working on a lot in my heart lately…I haven’t really talked about it here because there are times when there just isn’t a way to process it all. (I did just try to process it and just ended up with a tangle of words. So we’ll talk later.) :) But you should read it.

And maybe the most reading I’ve been doing lately has to do with my Bible. I’m really trying to be in the Word more. Oh, I fail sometimes. But the times I do spend there are so sweet. So precious. So needed.

Watch

I pulled out an old favorite series and shared it with Mae a week or so ago. I was completely impressed that she sat through two episodes and laughed at the funny parts. (And she also continues to talk about the time that Sara smeared a cherry pie in Felicity’s face. Ahem. I don’t think that was exactly the takeaway.) πŸ˜‰ I’m a bit of a goof, but I love older tv, the good stuff, when I know I don’t need to worry about what my daughter will see.

Also, anything remotely related to Anne of Green Gables always. wins. Always.

You can watch the first episode free here…which is all kinds of awesome. :)

Wear

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My favorite thing to wear right now, hands down, is my heart necklace. Since last summer, I’ve been looking for the perfect necklace…a sweet way to remember the babies we’ve lost and to honor our precious daughter. I looked everywhere and finally settled on this one from Etsy. It has Always Love stamped on the outside and Maelie’s name with the initials of our two little ones in heaven,Β I.M.Β andΒ C.K., on the inside along with a stamped dandelion and their three birthstones. The dandelion was part of the original design, and I thought it was the perfect hug from God since a dandelion was the image that came to my mind just days after we lost our sweet Carly.

I wear it every day, and I honestly can’t imagine a day when I won’t.

I’ve also been wearing more workout clothes. Two weeks ago, I just decided it was time. Time to eat better and work out more, and it’s good. It’s amazing how drastically reducing sugar (it helps that I gave up dessert for Lent) has also made meΒ want healthy food. Case in point? It’s 8:30 a.m. and I want grilled chicken and avocados. (No lie.)

Ok, that was random. πŸ˜‰

I also vowed that this month I would wear a pair of earrings. Um…I bought a pair and then chickened out of wearing them in public. I promise I will wear them this weekend. And, of course, I’ll document it for next month, too.

Listen

One of my favorite things is to have coffee with a friend…just to chat and listen and be. Not kidding, if I were given a choice of anything, that’s what I would choose to do with a free hour or two. (If I were given a day full of coffee dates for my birthday, I would completely be in heaven. Just fyi.) πŸ˜‰

I love this song, too…I’ve basically decided it’s the soundtrack of my season. I’m working on it in voice lessons…not sure I’ll ever do anything with it, but it’s beautiful. And a reminder I need every day. So have a listen and then download it at iTunes if you so want. (I may or may not play it on repeat often.) :)

And that brings us to the end of the favorites, at least for today.

What are some of your current faves?

Happy weekend to you all. Hugs. :)

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On Coming Out of Hiding… {and a GIVEAWAY}

fair trade friday final(Ok, so I wrote this yesterday. Words are still good a day later, right?) πŸ˜‰

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the urge to just sit down and write.

Write with no plan, no agenda, no pressure of publishing something.

It feels really good.

I think part of it is that we’re hunkered down on a below-zero day with no school (I think this is day FIVE in 2015?) and there’s not a lot to do. We’ve built a fort and played games and it’s already the incredibly late hour of 8:30 in the morning. I finally talked my girl into finishing her breakfast inside the fort while watching a movie. (Don’t judge.)

And, in a strange way, I feel like I’m coming home when I sit down at the keyboard and tap out thoughts. I’m not sure where we’re going with all of it exactly, but I’m good with that. Sometimes coffee and a few free moments is all I need to just…be.

The truth is that I’ve hidden myself somewhat in the last month or so. I’ve made it to the blog on Mondays long enough to dash off a few thoughts and copy/paste a chapter of my Indonesia story. By the way, thank you for reading. Seriously, from the bottom of my heart. It brings tears to my eyes when someone tells me they’re enjoying my words. This process has given me a whole new kind of respect and admiration for authors who hand chunks of their heart on paper over to people to critique. Scary.

So it’s been easy, in this season, to hide and pretend a lot of things. So many of my dear friends know me more through computer screens than they do in real life…and so I can easily share what I want to and leave the rest buried somewhere, probably under a pile in my messy house. (Why is it that with a four year-old, my house is never clean?)

πŸ˜‰

I don’t necessarily want to hide…I just want to figure out when it’s ok to share and when it’s not. That’s something I’ve been trying to do for the last year. Pretty sure I’m still in the figuring-out mode.

But, in no particular order…a few things. An update. And maybe a giveaway because I love you all…just for being here and reading my really, really random ramblings. πŸ˜‰

Maelie is growing up so fast. People warned me, and I always knew it in the back of my mind. But, seriously. I’ve got an almost-five year old on my hands, and it’s wonderful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. Seeing her become the person God intended is awesome…and knowing that the years are flying makes me cry. Right now, we’re just trying to soak up the sweet moments and beauty in the normal days. She’s wonderful. Well, most of the time. Let’s not forget that she IS four. πŸ˜‰

Our hearts are finding a new normal. Not gonna lie, it’s been a rough year…yearish. Whatever. I’m not even sure what constitutes a year anymore. Our house is just a lot quieter now. It’s amazing the change and silence that two dogs to one brought. Oh, we miss our Andre boy and the way he loved winter and snow…and life. His doggie dish still sits in its place in the corner, and I sometimes wonder if it’s time to put it away. But it hasn’t been that time yet, and so we just leave it and smile at the memories when we see it. The tears are fewer now, and while that hurts, it’s right. He wouldn’t want us to cry forever.

And along with loss, her due date is coming up. Too soon, and it’s always on my mind. I find myself wishing for a hugely swollen belly and the hope that would have been here so soon. It’s hard when there are so many reminders of what would have been…and instead we still try to wrap our minds around what won’t ever be, at least here on earth. It’s a tough season and the tears really aren’t fewer right now. Not when it comes to the little one we ache for so much.

And yet there’s still joy…truthfully, it’s been tough to believe that God is good this year. It feels like His goodness has been wrapped in pain and we’re struggling to see purpose. The one thing we do still see is the little joys He brings…through a silly-sweet girl, a doggie cuddle, words from a friend, a moment that brings a smile. We’ve had to be intentional about finding joy…and maybe He wanted that for us.

Our family is doing ok. Even better than that, most days. Sometimes I think Tobin and I are at a better place than we’ve ever been…and I have to be careful saying that because I know we will always…every single day…have to work at this thing called marriage. It’s not easy, and neither is this journey of parenting. But it’s a tough kind of wonderful, and though life doesn’t look at all like we’d dreamed, we’re finding some pretty incredible beauty in what God has given.

Finding the gifts in today…that’s what we’re trying to do.

And I just feel like giving away a gift. Because I’m Mel, because it’s what I do, and because this is really, really beautiful. (I’m not sure why I’m not keeping it for myself, but I’m not.)

About a month ago, I ordered a box from Fair Trade Friday. I ordered the trial box (just a one-time), which you can find here…and then I loved it so much that I signed up for the monthly subscription (which is even cheaper with free shipping!), so you can bet that there will be more goodies on their way to me! For $35 + shipping, I got a bag of fun surprises. (Picture at the top of this post.) :)

The yellow and white key fob, I gave away to my dear friend. :) The little bracelet I kept for myself. The necklace…I have to confess, it was a little funky for me (which is surprising because I breathe funky) but I adore the beads and the colors, so I’m restringing it so I can wear it and be reminded of some amazing women around the world and how God is reshaping their lives and teaching them that they have value.

And the last thing? This gorgeous, gray hat with a flower…seriously, I adore it. But since I crochet, I also have A. LOT. OF. HATS.Β And so I’m going to give the hat away, along with a $10 Starbucks card, because it’s cold right now, and all I can think of is being warm and drinking coffee.

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To enter…leave me a comment. Tell me something that brings you joy. I’ll pick a winner on Monday and email you. And that will be that…cute hat and a gift card on its way to you. (U.S. residents only, please.)

I hope this mass of words finds you all well…sending virtual hugs. Thanks for being here. :)

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January Friday Favorites {and a GIVEAWAY!}

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Ok, seriously, y’all. I win.

It is 3:40 a.m. and my eyes are W.I.D.E. O.P.E.N. so I win something.

I’m not sure what that is exactly…perhaps an extra cup of coffee?Β Because I’m definitely going to need it. πŸ˜‰

And you can definitely believe that the coffee is flowing this morning, thanks to my new, awesome-and-slightly-obnoxious-aqua-colored, Keurig. Yes, friends…dreams do come true in the form of coffee makers. I finally have my Keurig!!!

Cue happy dance at 3:45 a.m. πŸ˜‰

So I am completely in love with the Friday Favorites linkup my awesome sister, Crystal, is hosting at the end of each month. I just HAD to participate! Plus, it’s always fun to share my favorite things with you anyway. And I love to give things away because giving gifts is my love language times about a thousand. (Ok, ok, yes cake is my love language, too. And if you’d like to send me some, Please. Do.)

Here ya go…my current favorites. And, keep reading for a fun giveaway at the end! :)

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Read.

I love books. A little too much, perhaps, which I would realize if I took take the time to count the number in my house or on my Kindle. I guess if I’m going to do something with my free hours, (haha…free?!) reading is potentially the best thing I could be doing. Or, one of them.

The Best Yes (Lysa TerKeurst) is the book my Thursday Morning Moms’ Bible Study is going through. It’s good stuff, and I love the discussions we have. I feel like that book choice was a God-thing as I’m really trying to have better priorities.

Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things (Sara Hagerty) Oh, good grief, I have cried more than I haven’t cried reading this. (I even broke down in front of the neighbors’ dog during the first chapter and freaked her out a little. Not kidding here.) I’m about halfway done, and it has been a process…each chapter leaves me feeling wrecked and it takes a day or two to be able to pick it up again. And, yet? One of the best I’ve ever read. I can’t put it down even when I can’t pick it up.

The Hardest Peace (Kara Tippetts)Β I’ve had this book for a few months, but it’s honestly taken me awhile to begin. It’s just been a hard season, and I knew this would be an emotional read. I’m not too far into it yet, which means I’ll need to give you an update next month. Also, would you say a prayer for the author, Kara, and her family? You can catch up on a bit of her story here. Also, the Kindle version of this book is just $2.99.

Back Home (Michelle Magorian) I loved the Disney Channel movie in the early 90’s and can’t find it anywhere on DVD. So I figured the next best thing was getting the book. (I’m a sucker for the used books on Amazon that cost a penny plus some shipping.) Good book and it gives me a change of pace. I normally prefer nonfiction, but occasionally I’ll pick up a fiction book. I like this one.

Watch

I’m not a big TV watcher…I’m just not. Sometimes I’ll turn on a movie just to fill the empty. (Yeah, I’m an extrovert and noise is my friend.) But other than a few guilty pleasures that go in spurts, I’m pretty out of it most of the time when it comes to TV.

Also, Tobin and I have been discussing the kind of things that happen on our TV screen, and we want to be careful and show integrity whether our daughter is in the room or not. We have seen a couple good movies lately, though. :)

The Impossible was a really intense movie we watched early this month. It’s about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and a family that miraculously survives it. It’s powerful and a tear jerker and makes my heart pinch because you all know how SE Asia holds such a special place in my heart.

The Good Lie was a powerful one, too. I watched it twice in the span of 24 hours because I wanted to get my money’s worth from my Amazon rental…and because I wanted my hubby to see it, too. (I watched it alone the first time.) It’s one of those that made us stop and remember how blessed we really are. There is suffering in the world that we cannot even imagine…it made me look at some things differently. Just be warned…I’m pretty sure I cried all over the couch the first time. (You’ll need tissues.)

Also, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl. With friends, and I honestly like that part more than the actual game. πŸ˜‰

ipsy final JanWear

One thing I’ve really started loving lately is eye makeup, and Ipsy has helped with that.

Ipsy a monthly subscription for $10 (free shipping!) and you get a beauty bag with 4-5 items, some sample-size and some full-size. My latest bag (picture above) was awesome…and, actually, I haven’t had a bad bag yet. They sent me some gel eyeliner and an eyeliner brush…those were my favorites this month, some eye shadow, eye cream, and some sheer glo cream. (That was the only product in my bag I was a little meh about…I’m not exactly sure what to do with it. But it was sample size, so I didn’t care too much.) πŸ˜‰

To sign up, you answer some questions about your preferences and are sent the items from a pool of 20-30ish different options, based on the products available for the month. You don’t get to choose, but honestly, the items are so awesome that I’d be happy with almost all of them. And for a cool $10? What’s not to love?! (But be aware that there is a wait list for this. There are things you can do to bypass the wait list, but I chose not to and waited about two months.) And if you sign up through this link, I get some bonus points for freebies. If you feel so inclined. πŸ˜‰

Also, I’ve been eying this dress…but alas. I don’t really need another dress. It is cute, though. (And maybe my hubby will read my blog today, too…size M, darling.) πŸ˜‰

Listen

I’m a music girl, and there are a lot of songs that have resonated lately. This one is probably one of my favorites…and I need the reminder on a daily basis, too. Have a listen. :)

And…A GIVEAWAY!

So I kind of love to give gifts. I just do. Plus, it’s been a long time since I’ve given anything away here.

So…leave me a comment and share one of your current favorite things with me, and I’ll enter you to win a $15 Amazon gift card so you can order a new book or watch a new movie or find some new makeup. Something fun. :)

I’ll email the winner on Monday. Good luck! :)

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