Thursday, October 31, 2013

Celebrating the Reformation

There are a ton of articles floating around the internet this week about why Christians should celebrate Halloween or why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween. I'm not going to argue for or against Halloween-- it's a personal decision and I see both sides. But, like many many other parenting decisions, I think its a gray area that two different people who both love Jesus can come to two different conclusions. I don't want to join the Halloween debate, it's not a fight I want to have, but I do want to share with you about another important holiday -- Reformation Day.
Full disclosure: I grew up in a home that was not allowed to celebrate Halloween. Instead we celebrated "Reformation Day" We went to Reformation festival with games and candy and a costume contest. We dressed up as bible characters and reformation characters and the games were "reformation or bible themed" (imagine "pin the 95 thesis to the door" - yep, can't make this stuff up) One year my family was the 6 days of creation -- I was the day God created the birds. We one the costume contest. I kid you not. I wish I had pictures to show you....
Not celebrating Halloween was fine. I still enjoyed fall traditions like pumpkin patches and candy and fall festivals. Despite teasing my parents with how bad my childhood was due to no Halloween, I truly am not traumatized in any way from lack of Halloween. But I did miss it....I wanted to dress up like a princess, not a bible character (bible characters don't wear pretty clothes....). I wanted to go door to door with friends. I wanted to go to halloween parties and carve pumpkins. It wasn't an essential part of my childhood, but it would have been a fun "extra" Luckilly, beginning mid elementary, we had church community and Reformation celebrations did fill the void of no celebrations.
Another full disclosure: I started celebrating halloween as soon as I was in college. I started going to costume parties, bought candy for dorm trick or treaters, carved pumpkins, etc. And although I'm not making any major parenting decisions right now since I don't have kids (no cart before the horse!) - but I will most likely let me kids celebrate some form of halloween -- no witches or zombies, but good wholesome superheros, firemen, cute animals and princesses!! Maybe they get to go trick or treating or maybe they just get to wear their non-biblical attire to the church Reformation festival. (No offense to biblical characters, but their outfits don't include pink and sequins and all things girly!) There is no denying that some aspects of Halloween are downright evil (and some parts of secular Christmas are evil too) -- but I think there is a way we can celebrate with pumpkins and costumes and not witches and darkness.
Although I differ from my parents on my decision to celebrate Halloween, one thing I would not change about my childhood and will not change for my children is the explination and celebration of the Reformation every fall. As a Christian, and particularly as a protestant, the Reformation is essential in the life and teachings of the church. It's an area of our history that many believers don't learn much about until their high school history classes, but I received lessons from the church and my parents beginning in elementary school. This explination and celebration was essential to my understanding of the gospel at a young age. Christ alone. Faith alone. Neither good works nor others could grant you salvation. What a freeing concept -- not an excuse for sin, but a comfort that our sin will not determine our eternal fate, that despite being so horribly wicked and evil, I am loved more than I could ever imagine and my sins have been paid for....not be works, not by indulgencies (or any modern day comparisons), but by the death and ressurection of my Savior.  I think many children don't completely understand grace when they are young, nor do they understand the importance of keeping the church safe from false doctrine.  I learned both concepts early on - in part- from my childhood celebrations of the Reformation.
We learned about Luther, his greivances, his 95 theses, etc. We also learned the 5 solae that summarized the big beliefs of the reformation:
(1) Sola scriptura (scripture alone)
(2) sola fide (faith alone)
(3) Sola gratia (grace alone)
(4) solus Christus (Christ alone)
(5) soli deo gloria (Glory to God alone)
These are biblical concepts, not newly created by Luther or other reformers, but highlighted during the Reformation and through our teaching of the Reformation. It is important to familiarize and refamiliarize ourselves with truth like the 5 solaes so that we are prepared to respond in courage and truthfulness when faced with false teaching. Since the church is made up of sinners like you and I, there will constantly be incorrect teachings and the church should always be reforming itself, to stay true to the gospel.
So, as fun as dressing up and candy corn and pumpkins can be, as a Christian, I want Reformation to always be a part of our family fall celebrations and more importantly, I want it to be the focus. Growing up, I celebrated Christmas - with gifts and good food, but this only came after a month of advent, Christmas communion, the Christmas story being read, etc. Certainly we can celebrate Halloween in the same way -- as a fun additive to a very important time of year. So, although I don't think it's wrong for Christians to celebrate Halloween, I do think we are missing out if we fail to also celebrate the Reformation.
I am thankful for Luther and the other reformers. I am thankful that they bravely stood for what was true. I pray that we also have the knowledge to give an account for what we believe and the courage to do so.
"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason those Scriptures that I have presented, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.” - Martin Luther
Yeah, even calvinists have a sense of humor....
NOTE: This is in no way a slam on the Catholic church who later reformed themselves. The Catholic church is older than most modern day protestant churches and it makes complete sense that after so many years of both good and bad teachings, there would be a need for reformation just like many different denominations need today. I also am in no way suggesting that Catholics are not Christians while Protestants are. I know many Catholics who love and serve the same Jesus I do and many protestants who don't. That being said, I am very very presbyterian and obviously do not agree with Catholicism - otherwise I would be Catholic. I do believe a Reformation was needed to correct some wrongs in the church (namely the selling or indulgences and any other implication that heaven was reached by works and not grace) and I do believe its a crucial part of church history. However, my post was only meant to express my belief that Reformation should be celebrated alongside Halloween. It is also a post expressing thankfulness for Martin Luther and his influence on the modern day protestant churches-- and ultimately, thankfulness for a Lord that saves based on the work of his son, not my works.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I love Monday Nights

I love Monday Nights.

I know, I am crazy. Monday is such a awful day of the week and Monday evening is such a ordinary boring evening of the week to love ....but I can't help it, I love this basic boring weeknight.

Monday is no one's favorire day - it's always exhausting and hectic after a relaxing weekend. You can literally see people moping to the metro, dragging their feet, hoping that the weekend hasn't really ended. And no day goes by more slowly than a Monday. The seconds tick by slowly, the tasks seem mundane and I feel a strong urge to nap by 2 pm.

And, thats why I love Monday nights. It's a welcome reprieve from that first day back at work, probably the weeknight I look forward to coming home the most. And I suspect most people feel as excited for the day to be over as I do as they wearilly hurry home. Everyone is longing for an easy night in with a glass of wine, warm dinner and maybe an early bedtime!

On top of being the best weeknight, I love that it's almost always a weeknight in for Dave and me. Rarely do we have meetings or Bible studies or obligations on Monday nights.....just an easy dinner of homemade pizza or a frozen casserole, a couple of our favorite TV shows, reading and maybe finishing up a few chores.

And then, after dinner and a bit of tidying up, we both end up sitting in the living room, one on the couch, one on the chair -watching our shows while Dave researches nerdy (I mean, cool) architecture websites and I play on pinterest. We chat a bit about the day, but we are mostly quiet. After all, we had the whole weekend together to chat and play - and after a long Monday, it's perfect to just sit together and be quiet. I know that when we are younger, everyone (myself included) thinks that LOVE is connecting so much that you stay have long late night chats and great conversations, but I think as we get older, we realized that sometimes its the opposite-- sometimes LOVE is connecting so much that you don't have to talk and maybe don't even have to touch because you just find comfort from quietly sitting there together. That's how I feel on Monday nights with Dave-- free to vent, free to chat, but mostly free to be quiet and relax.

But, after awhile, we always end up on the same couch, snuggled up quietly, finishing our shows -- usually one person falls asleep and the other one has to wake him/her up to head to bed.

A perfectly boring yet comforting end to the most horrible weekday. It seems so boring- and uneventful- but I love it.

It's my belief that these boring moments are the ones singles wish for the most. Before I was married, I had wonderful weekends with friends and great busy weeknights, but I would have loved to have someone to do nothing with on an average boring night. Lazy Monday evenings make me extremely grateful for a sweet husband and a home to relax in. That's why Monday night with Dave is fast becoming my favorite night of the work week!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making a Home

Last night we picked up a very simple used ikea table and chairs that we bought for $40 via craigslist. We plan to eventually IKEA HACK the table and add hairpin legs and a nice stain JUST LIKE THIS GIRL DID. Maybe I have eaten dinner in my lap a few too many times or maybe having something sitting in the middle of the dining room instead of an empty space, but the idea of having an actual (albeit only hand me down ikea) table made me feel a little more at home.

 Our new (used) table....

Our hope is to transform our table just like this...

And, it's not just the table, it's the memories we will make and the events that will take place at the table....Wine and cake for birthdays,saturday morning pancakes, thanksgiving with my sister, brother in law and nephew. Even the chore of taking the table apart to sand, stain and add new legs seems more like an important memory to make as we put together our home.

And, so, of course, I was a cheeseball and hugged Dave and jokingly (not too jokingly) said,"Look Sweetie, we are making our little home"--and of course he responded by humoring me and saying," yes we are babe" (while simultaneously rolling his eyes -- if not outwardly rolling his eyes, he was rolling his eyes on the inside, but as I said, he kindly humored me!)

It got me thinking about how important it is to make a home - not just live in a house. We spent the first month of marriage without our stuff (and a grand 2 months without furniture, etc for Dave) and then spent a couple weeks unpacking and have slowly been purchasing additional furniture and hanging pictures and arranging and rearranging furniture (seriously, we live in 650 square feet max, how many ways can we "arrange" furniture??) And with each step towards making our house more "homey", I have felt more at home.

Humans are funny but unique creatures when it comes to living arrangements. All we tecnichally need is enough space, warmth, cover and a few practical furnishings. YET we long for so much more than functionality, we long for beauty. And even more importantly,we long for comfort and a sense of self in our surroundings. We could easilly get by with just 4 walls, a fireplace or heater and a few pieces of practical furniture, but we all want home to be more.

Homes tell you so much about the people living in them. I love clean lines and simplicity which is evident by my midcenturity pieces of furniture (slowly collected over the years). Dave loves modern touches. I love for spaces to feel warm and welcoming which is displayed through cheerful oranges, blues and greens in my living room. Dave loves to hunt and you can easilly see that in the framed camo pictures and gray and white deerhead pillow on our bed. Neither of us care for frilly or dainty which is why you see practically no floral prints or lacy decor in our house. We love our home state, Mississippi, which is why so much of our artwork is prints and paintings of Mississippi or from Mississippi. We don't have much money at the moment which is why there are walmart bookcases and craigslist finds mixed in with our leather couches, modern lamps and authentic midcentury pieces. If you combine our two personalities, they are so readilly apparent in our decor -- we are young, simple, warm, modern southern loving people. We aren't very fancy or wealthy, but we are welcoming (atleast I hope we always are welcoming) I truly think our home is starting to come together in a way that gives off that impression.

I love visiting people homes - small or large -- and seeing their personalities reflected through the small touches.  Sometimes the house looks exactly like I would picture it, and sometimes I am surprised and learn so much about them! (and I promise, for our friends and family far away, as our apartment is finally coming together, I will eventually post a blog picture tour and maybe you will see small touches of us in our home!!)

So, I will smile- with every piece of furniture we purchase, every picture we hang and every pillow we carefully place on the couch. DC is new, marriage is new-- and each is beginning to feel more and more like home to us -- imperfect but happy, with parts of both of us mixed in :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Defense of Stay at Home Mothers

Last week, I wrote a post defending working moms - in response to other people's harsh words towards women that parent and work outside the home. In that post, I admitted that I wasn't pro working moms or pro SAHM's, just very pro today I will be singing the praise of SAHM's because it's  tough to be a SAHM! (If you need to ask anyone about the difficulties of SAHM's, talk to my mom -- my 3 siblings and I are quite "spicy" and being home with us daily was no easy task!)
Some thoughts in defense of SAHM's:
(1) SAHM's get very few breaks from kids. I realize that many working moms (and dads) feel they get very few breaks - with full work days plus time at home, there may be few nonbusy moments!! But when life is busy at work, I (not a parent) can close my door or put my earphones in- and so can most other working people. SAHM's get lots of quality time with their kids -- but we all know that kids aren't always happy and fun. There are tantrums, whining, the question "WHY?" 1000 times a day, etc - and SAHM's can't just close the door like those at work can. Working hard at all that needs to be done at home is difficult enough --- add a fussy two year old to the mix and you have a stressful day!
(2) SAHM's often sacrifice a career and other goals. Many moms who stay at home with their children once worked in offices, hospitals,schools, law firms, etc. Many have degrees, maybe multiple degrees. Several women developed a skill set from working for several years pre-babies. And these women gave that up for the time being because that's what they feel is the best option for their growing families. Even though I fully believe that you use your degrees and skills in a different way as a SAHM, the fact remains that sacrifice was made. Even if a woman loves being a SAHM and believes that its what is best for her family, giving up a career she worked so long to obtain is a difficult decision.
(3) SAHM's receive a lot of criticism too. I mentioned in my previous post that working moms receive judgment and criticism....this sad fact is true of SAHMs as well. Many people downplay a SAHM's responsibilities, assume these women don't have goals or ambition, or believe that they sit at home watching TV all day. Not only do you get judged by some for staying at home, you get judged by some for what you do while staying at home - allowing kids to watch tv, spending a rainy morning in pjs, not always having gourmet meals, etc. The reality is, that in a "working" world, I rarely have to justify what I do during the day to anyone other than my boss. I may have to justify my career choice and one day I may have to justify working while I have kids, etc, but I don't have to justify what I do during a work day.
(4) Many SAHM's feel called to stay at home because they believe it is best for their family and (5) Many women make sacrifices financially to live out this calling. I mentioned this in my post about working moms and my sentiment is the same when applied to SAHMs. If someone feels that this is what the Lord called them to do, who am I to judge that? I have great respect for anyone that is choosing to obey God in their actions - particularly when it's at a cost to them. Losing a second income can be financially difficult for a family and requires careful budgeting and smaller expectations --- it's no easy feat, so it's incredibly sacrificial that women who feel called to stay home do!
(6) Being a SAHM can be lonely. Staying at home involves a lot of interaction, but very little adult interaction. Certainly there are some areas of the country where many many women stay at home -- and there are play groups, bible studies, etc where women meet during the day. This is great, but in some cities, staying at home is not the norm and its much harder to meet other SAHMs and have daily interaction. My two months as a SAHW (Stay at Home Wife) made me incredibly lonely.  I couldn't even try to connect with SAHM's because there aren't very many in this area. This made me keenly aware that many women stay at home to raise children even if it may cut them off from the social world!
I've said this before so I will avoid being repetitive - but being a mom, no matter what, is a full time job - and each mother has her own unique challenges. We, as women, are shooting ourselves in the foot if we can't support and appreciate eachother and the hard work it takes to be a good mother! It's a temptation to throw our identity into our work and relationships (and as a result judge ourselves and others too harshly) - whether that be working as a SAHM or working in an office, whether single, dating, married, kids or not kids, but in reality, our identity should rest in Christ and Christ alone.
Can you be a SAHM that glorifies the Lord and is doing whats best for your family? YES!!! Can you work outside the home and glorify the Lord and do whats best for your family? Absolutely! What a comfort that we can all differ from eachother and still glorify the Lord in our actions!

Friday, October 18, 2013

To me Favorite Birthday Boy!

I wrote this BLOG POST last year (with all the annoying gushiness of a woman who was fully aware that this was the man she would soon become engaged to and marry) but even now, I believe what I wrote: I love celebrating Dave's birthday as much or more than my own, becuase his life has made mine better.  Obnoxiously cheesy? yes (which is why I don't go shouting this from the rooftops to people daily) But still very very true.  I am and will always be grateful that he was born 29 years ago today because (1) he is a wonderful man that blesses many and (2) selfishly, because I am one of the many people blessed by him, and likely the person blessed the most.

in front of the Mississippi river, probably one of my fav pics of all time

Somehow this man convinced me to go hunting early in the morning on Thanksgiving last year

Honeymoon in San Fran

Here are  5  6 of the things I love most about the Birthday Boy:

(1) He serves others.

Dave is not a guy that is overly emotional.  He certainly gives me a kiss and tells me he loves me each morning before he leaves, but you won't likely overhear him gushing sugary sweet comments on me all day.  In our two year relationship, I have received exactly one love note. But, Dave is a man who loves and serves others with his actions, not just his words.  It's not unusual for him to jump up after dinner and do the dishes or for me to find him vaccuming.  He's willingly picked me up from a meeting because it was rainy and I was nowhere near a metro stop.  He senses when you need a hug or some extra care. He has helped my dad with a broken truck in Mississippi heat on the side of the road. He gladly helps friends when they are building something or have car troubles, etc.  And he is great with kids. I love his servant's heart and am blessed by it daily.

 Dave and his niece getting ready for the wedding

Always willing to give a hug- to cheer you up or celebrate :)

(2) He's loyal

He's loyal and enduring which as a wife, is a very comforting thing -- to know that he will be a strong support whatever challenges we face in life. I've seen how he has stuck by friends, family and my even my family through good and bad times, and love that he is loyal and strong for those he loves. He's a good friend and always has been - which is great because marriage is first and foremost, the best friendship.

Dave's longtime best friend (COLE), his wife (Whitney) and US

(3) He's hardworking

Dave works hard...and he is always looking to improve. He knew he wanted to be an architect and was willing to go BACK to college again to do it.  I know he would do whatever it took to help provide for us and our family.  So many people don't have that strong work ethic these days and I am blessed to have someone willing to work so hard.

Dave and his sister, Kim, and his graduation from ARCHITECTURE school this spring

Dave and his 2 sisters (Beth and Kim) on our wedding day

(4) He has a great sense of humor

I could never have married someone who wouldn't tease and joke with me back and forth.  I like to laugh and I like clever people who make me laugh.  Dave teases me -- which always makes me feel loved because he wouldn't pick on me if he didn't care. We laugh every day -- and his ability to make me laugh brings joy to ordinary typical days.  I know there will be hard times, difficulties, struggles, but I hope we always can always make each other laugh.

Dave and his mom having a good time at the wedding

(5) He's adventurous and Funloving

Dave always wants to explore. He loves to see new things and learn.  I love to see new things and learn so we are great together! And he LOVES to have a good time. Its fun to be with someone who enjoys life so much!

What did I say? This boy loves to have a good time and goof off!

(6) He challenges me.

What I love (and sometimes don't love) about Dave is that he sees my flaws and points out how I can improve and challenges me to do so.  He would be a horrible husband if he wasn't willing to be used by God to help shape me into a better person.  And, frankly, I have a lot of flaws so he has his work cut out for him ha! But I do love how he affirms and loves but points me to Christ and encourages me to not only rely on my Savior, but to also work on areas that should be worked on. And he usually does this so graciously!

Day trip to Annapolis

So, that's just 6 things I love about my Birthday Boy (although I love probably 100 more things!)  I am lucky to be his sidekick in life and grateful for his character and personality.  Every day is better with him and he sure brings out the best in me!! HAPPY 29th BIRTHDAY DAVE!!!!! I hope this is the best birthday yet and a wonderful year for you!

P.S. Did I mention that he is adorable too? (ok, thats 7 things I love about Dave!)

Mistletoe Preview Party, 2012

Monday, October 14, 2013

In Defense of Working Mothers

There's a popular blogpost on SAHM's being posted and reposted on facebook. (Many of you have probably seen this post...I'm not going to link to it here because I don't want to attack someone, just disagree and throw a little support towards working mommies)  The author's intentions were good: to defend his wife, a stay at home mom.  But in the process of defending his wife, he was condescending and hurtful to working moms....and thats not even mentioning the many hurtful comments posted by his readers claiming working moms had it easier, didn't spend quality time with their children and could stay at home if they made the right financial choices, etc. I must admit, I'm not even a working mother, but the tone of the article and comments rubbed me the wrong way, and it obviously rubbed others the wrong way because many many people commented in disagreement and in defense of working moms. Although I saw many SAHM's posting this article and claiming it defended the hard work of motherhood, not a single working mom posted the article because the article didn't exactly throw any support or appreciation their way.

 Maybe it's because I am on the outside looking in, but  I don't understand why an article supporting SAHM's has to be condescending towards working moms or imply that SAHM's have it harder....why can't we just be supportive of motherhood in general? (and yes I realize that this is a problem that goes both ways...) Is this not a tough enough world on women already without us turning on each other?  It's tough to be at home with kids all day.  It's tough to work at an office 8-10 hours and then come home to kids who need you.  And, goodness, for those who work and long to be home, it's tough to wish you were somewhere else.  It's tough to be a good mom, period. SO WHY IN THE WORLD WOULDN'T WE ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER IN THIS DIFFICULT TASK OF MOTHERHOOD??

Full disclosure: I had a SAHM and it was wonderful.  She was plenty busy with 4 kids, running a home, volunteering with the Jr League (not just volunteering, leading projects) and at church, etc. I have nothing but utmost respect for SAHM's - it's hard work, often thankless and sometimes probably drives one crazy due to little adult contact daily.  I might one day be a SAHM (I haven't decided...I don't yet have kids so I don't yet know what is best for my children) although if I continue to live in expensive DC, then my chances of staying at home decrease.  My sister has spent most of her motherhood days working. I ALSO have the utmost respect for her.  Her days often included a full day at "work" followed by cooking, mothering and house duties. It is also hard work. I think that this was ignored in the previously mentioned blogpost and I want to add a few points in defense of working mothers.

(1) Many women have to work.  Large numbers of women have to work part time or full time for a portion or all of their children's lives.  Many women work only while their husband is in school or working his way up the corporate ladder.  Many women work because they are single moms.  Many women work because in this economy, one income is not enough.  Some strong SAHM advocates claim that if these families chose to live a cheaper lifestyle then the mother could stay home, but that claim is simply not always true. If the husband's income is quite limited, it might take 2 incomes to pay rent, buy groceries, etc.  These women may long to be home and being judged for not being home is like salt on the wounds.

(2) Many women feel called to work.  There are women who are gifted nurses, teachers, lawyers, musicians, etc.  Many feel that they are called by God to work and parent in the same way that other mothers feel called to stay at home and parent.  If this truly is what the Lord calls these women too, why would we scold them?  Many women believe that working outside the home teaches their children the value of hard work, discipline, passion, etc. Each family has to do what's best for their family which may include a wife staying at home with kids, working part time, working full time, working from home.  We should be grateful that women have so many options on how to support their families at home or at an office!

(3) Being a mother is a 24-7 job.  Those defending SAHM's often claim that a these mothers' jobs are never done. While working moms have an office job that they can leave at 5 or 6, the implication is that mothers who stay at home never get a break.  The unending commitment of motherhood is true of all mothers, not only SAHM's. A working mother must finish up office work and come home to do parenting work and housekeeping work in the same way a SAHM's at home work never ends.  Being a lawyer, nurse, doctor, etc may end after 8 hours, but motherhood does not.

(4) Therefore, being a father should ALSO be a 24-7 job.  Parenting is all day, every day - and it shouldn't just belong to one spouse.  A husband may be the financial provider while the wife is home with the kids all day, but his job as daddy never ends.  Likewise, a working mother should not be the only parent coming home from her desk job to take care of the kids.  I always find it funny when men refer to their job as ______ (insert lawyer, doctor, trash man, whatever) and their wife's job as a mother.  He may very well have a career, but his job title  should include "daddy" as well. Both parties are parents and both are obligated to parenting long after working hours are over.  

(5) Being a working mom is what you make it.  Are there some people that fit the stereotypes? OF COURSE.  Are there some working mothers who value career over kids? definitely. Just like there are some SAHM's who don't do much but go to lunch, get their nails done and play tennis. However, these stereotypes don't fit every single person in a category - or even most people in a category, so we should be careful to assume that working mothers don't have their kids best interest at heart.

(6) Not every comment from a working mom is an insult.  When a working mother says, "It must be nice to stay at home with your kids", she may not be implying something negative, but may literally mean that must be nice.  Many women want to stay home, but can't. Many women feel called to work, but sometimes struggle with that decision. While working mothers should certainly be kind in what they say, not every comment, even comments that are ill-worded or ill-received, is meant to be cruel. Not every comment is an attack, some comments are just comments.

(7) SAHM's aren't the only women being attacked. Many SAHM's have felt insulted by society, including other mothers - specifically working mothers.  No doubt that is wrong, but working mothers are also often times insulted too and what's sad is many of these attacks come from those within the church making broad generalizations of women who supposedly career climb and value work over children, who don't know their role in the family, who fail to be good mothers because they also have outside jobs, etc.  Harsh words go both ways, sadly.

I wrote this post in a fierce desire to defend working mothers, but as I wrap things up, I realize that I actually want to defend all mothers.  Being a mother is hard.  Being a good mother is even harder.  Society isn't always supportive and encouraging of families and parents and its a very hard world to raise children in these days. So, why are we choosing sides or attacking each other? Why aren't women supporting each other and just trying to be the best mothers they can in the circumstances presented?  Why are we so black and white - believing that either staying at home or going to the office is the only right answer? Surely families are complex and different with various circumstances and what's right for one family might not be right for another family.  Maybe we, as women, can quit attacking and start encouraging.

I am excited to one day have babies but I am also scared of motherhood -- for all the normal reasons (childbirth!), but also, partially because these "Mommy Wars" seem to divide and split women up. Mothers- even working mothers - are trying their best to do their best. It's VERY HARD to be a mother - so why would women make it any harder on each other???

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Patio Envy

Friends, I have a confession. I'm struggling with envy...


I love our little place. It's tiny but cozy and perfect for two newlywed lovebirds. We still have pictures that need to be hung, furniture that needs to be purchased and some better organization that needs to occur to make 2 lives (and all the stuff that comes along with those lives) fit together well into 650 square feet. But it's coming along and its feeling more and more like home to us.

I've gotten used to no dishwasher or central air.  I've come to terms with the lack of cabinet space and walking down three flights of stairs to do laundry.  But I have yet to quit mourning our lack of outdoor space.  Maybe it's the Mississippi in me, but this girl needs some type of patio, deck, porch, courtyard or outdoor space to kick back with a glass of wine after a long day or work or spend a relaxing saturday morning sipping coffee and reading.

At my last house, we had a great, albeit buckled, porch where we spent many nights enjoying adult beverages of choice and laughing and chatting - even when it involved bundling up in sweatshirts in chilly fall weather!! My parents' home has a great back patio where we ate so many summer meals (grilled by my dad and brother) and a large front porch where much "front porch sitting", watermelon eating, visiting with neighbors, cocktail drinking and family chatting occurred. And, my nana and papa have a screened in front porch in Florida with a swing and my cousins and I used to push that swing so high and so hard that we'd hit the screen and tear it - until my papa put up boards on the screen to keep us from causing any more damage!

My sweet Nephew eating breakfast on my parents front porch

So, I suppose it makes sense that one of the homey touches I miss the most is a patio or porch of some many of my happy memories revolve around outdoor space! When Dave and I go walking, I notice and point out every apartment or condo building with patios.  I always request (with puppy dog eyes) that the next time we move, we find a place with a patio or deck!

And I love almost all types of patios - those that are perfectly decorated with pillows and an umbrella table - and those that look like college apartments with christmas tree lights hanging and tailgate chairs.

It's funny what you miss the most when you move into a tiny old apartment.  I thought that surely it would be a dishwasher (and I do miss the dishwasher!) But, truly, what I miss the most is nights outside on the porch. So, I promise, friends, once I have a patio, however small it may be, I will enjoy it often and invite you all over for perfect outdoor evenings of wine and friends (and if its big enough for a table, I'll even feed you outside too!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bacon, Caramelized Apple and Brie (Feta, goat cheese) Pizza

Last night Dave's friend came over for awhile and we made this delicious pizza dish for dinner and I loved it.  The contrast of bacon and caramelized apples was the perfect salty/sweet mix.  I made this pizza because Dave loves apples, but he didn't like the apples on the pizza because they were sweet. Oh well, not everyone likes the contrast.
***Note the original recipe I used actually used goat cheese, but to be honest, I am not a huge goat cheese fan and we had leftover brie.  I'd love to try this recipe with feta.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large, crisp apple (i.e. Golden Delicious)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • several sliced of bacon
  • 4 ounces of brie cheese (or feta or goat cheese)
  • premade (or homemade) pizza dough
  • 8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Flour for rolling out dough (if needed)
  • Salt & pepper
  • tarragon leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. 
2. Mince 3 heads of garlic and add to a small bowl with ¼ cup of olive oil. Add teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of oregano; mix together.
3. Wash and slice apples into thin wedges and cook with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and reduce heat to low, cover and allow to cook  5-7 minutes, until sugar has caramelized.Apples should be soft when done. Remove from pan. (the apples are a bit soggy - they look like caramelized onions)
4. Cook bacon over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until browned, but not too crisp and then cut into bite size pieces.
5. Take a few ounces of brie and cut into small pieces. (I actually cut the harder exterior off as I was not sure the texture would go well with the pizza)
5. Sprinkle flour on counter top, and roll dough to ¼-inch thick and place on a greased pizza stone and stretch to fit the stone. Drizzle half of the garlic oil on dough. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan to cover the pizza dough, reserving a few tablespoons of Parmesan for garnishing. Top with bacon, caramelized apples, and tiny slices of brie.

6Bake pizza for approximately 15-20 minutes. Pizza is done when crust is slightly brown and crispy. Remove from oven, place on cutting board and top with tarragon leaves, a drizzle of remaining garlic olive oil, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Cut with a large serrated knife. (WE HAD NO TARRAGON LEAVES SO WE SKIPPED THIS STEP.  I THINK IT WOULD MAKE THE PIZZA EVEN TASTIER, BUT IT WAS STILL DELICIOUS WITHOUT IT)

***I got the recipe from this website, but edited it a bit for our personal tastes.  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

FALL Weekends are perfect for....

Although this weekend wasn't very COOL and FALL-Y, We lived our Fall weekend to its fullest.


.... Friday evening rooftop Happy Hour!

...Saturday Morning Bike rides along the Potomac! 

... Wine Tastings  at Virginia Wineries.

...Auburn football victories while eating Jimmy John Subs (one of my personal college favs!)

...Sunday Morning Apple Doughnuts from the Apple House!

...Sunday Night Grilled Pizzas and Back Deck Sitting with new friends.

All in All, a lovely weekend!!  Throw in a Sunday full of chores, grocery shopping and church and you have the makings of a successful FALL weekend.  Only one problem... the temperature was back into the 80s again.  Fall comes and goes here, but we didn't let the warmer temps spoil our Fall weekend fun!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Learnig Flexibility

I'm not the most flexible person. I like schedules. I like group outings and date nights and meetings written down in my lovely Lily Pulitzer planner. I like knowing what I will do on Friday evening long before Friday hits. I love lists and I love crossing things off. I like handling some of these "to-do's" along the way so I don't feel overwhelmed later on (I have started my Christmas present list for this very reason, no need to be buying 15 gifts the week before I go home!). I look up the menu of  a restaurant online before I go.

This is quite funny because the rest of my life is not super organized.  We keep the dishes washed and the living room fairly tidied up, but I don’t have a color coordinated closet and perfectly organized pantry with neat rows of canned goods and spices. I think I just like plans because I gain such excitement from the waiting (Ironic huh, since I used to have a blog where I openly discussed how waiting could be, well…annoying!) BUT SERIOUSLY, for me, half of the excitement of a vacation is the planning…looking up restaurants and tourist sites, making reservations.  I like to count down to something – be it a holiday, vacation or Friday night plans.  I like structure and think that most of the time, having a plan means you end up doing something – rather than wasting most of your weekend because you had no plans to go out to dinner or clean or watch a movie.  Sometimes you gain so much more from life because you plan.

Dave is quite the opposite…and it’s so good for me, and actually so good for us that we are different.  He goes with the flow much more than I do and is perfectly content with letting plans come to him, rather than making plans.  He’s always fearful that I will overbook myself with too many obligations.  He’s the type of person who doesn’t understand why you would make reservations ahead of time or discuss Friday plans on Tuesday.

But, we are slowly influencing each other. Dave asked me on Tuesday what we wanted to do this weekend.  TUESDAY!!! That’s HUGE for him.  He later informed me that we needed to start research things to do in Philly (a day trip we are taking later this month) WHAT? PLANS FOR A TRIP??? And then I willingly cancelled our plans (outdoor movie/drive in movie at Union Market) when we got last minute invitations for Friday Drinks on a Rooftop Bar. (HOW FLEXIBLE OF ME!!) It's perfect weather for outdoor drinks and the bar is near our home....How do you pass that up? Sometimes going with the flow is best.

I don’t want to miss out on life because I never have a plan or agenda.  I don’t want to make every weekend a lazy one because there was no prior discussion on what we should do.  BUT I don’t want to miss out on life because I over planned it.  Sometimes plans change.  Sometimes better plans come up. Sometimes you make no plans and end up staying in, enjoying a lazy evening at home.

Hopefully, due to our 2 different personalities, our lives will include many planned vacations, special date nights, celebrated birthdays and holiday traditions, as well as some spotaneous last minute road trips and flexible weekends of relaxing and last minute plans.  It's good to be different :)

I am thankful that my sweet husband is helping me learn to go with the flow a bit more ….
…and maybe, just maybe, I am teaching him that the occasional preplanned evening is wonderful as well.