Archive for September, 2012

  • A Big Decision

    Date: 2012.09.27 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Me, Travel, Work | Response: 10

    Sometimes life has a way of kicking you in the head and making you take notice.

    After high school, I wanted to go away to college. I applied in several different states, but after getting a full ride scholarship to a fantastic local, private college, I stayed put. While I was in college, I traveled extensively, even studying abroad one summer. I was terrified to do it, and once I arrived, homesickness reared its ugly head. I stayed though, and I’m glad I did. I learned a lot and spent a good amount of time in another country. But man was I ever glad to be home again when it was over.

    Similarly, after college, I was ready to pick up and move again. I even applied and got into a graduate program in another state. But then I got sick, really sick. Like laid up in the hospital for a week, constant monitoring for months and then eventually surgery sick. It kept me home for a year. And by then my fiancee had started his own business locally, so I stayed again, this time with a twinge of regret.

    But, staying allowed me to finally dip my toes into the field I was so interested in – the print industry. And eventually, I got a really great job in this field. A job that I’ve pushed and grown. A job that I’m passionate about. A job that I can continue to grow creatively in.

    Then we had our little girl, bought a house, and I’ve been happy. Really happy.

    Having close friends in states both near and far away, I’ve joked with Mark about moving, He, of course, lists a number of reasons why he’s happy we’re here, including his business, and I always laugh and then agree. We’re settled, we’re happy.

    And then, out of the blue came an e-mail. An e-mail from a very prestigious and large company that wanted to interview me as the editor of their weekly publication. Oh, and it’s only 20 hours north from where we live now.

    My heart stopped. First of all, I’m beyond flattered. Someone trusted by the company submitted my name for the job. But then, an onslaught of emotions hit me. Could I uproot my family and move them 20 hours north? Could I move that far away from Sarah’s grandparents? Was I an idiot for even taking all of that into consideration when such a big opportunity and “move up” presented itself? Make no mistake, this opportunity would be huge for me. I would take a giant leap up in the publishing industry and probably increase my paycheck substantially. And being “wooed away,” especially at 27-years-old, is a rare thing, especially in this industry.

    So I talked to Mark about it for several days. Leaving would mean closing down his business, something we’ve sacrificed years and lots of money for to get going. So if I did this, I would be effectively asking him to close it down and try to find a job 20 hours away. And to his credit, he honestly considered the move. He told me he didn’t want to be the reason I was held back.

    It would mean going through the daycare saga all over again. It would mean telling our parents that we’ll see them during the holidays at best, and telling my mother, who has an intense fear of flying, that she would need to make 20 hour drives to see her daughter and granddaughter.

    All of those are huge sacrifices. And most importantly, in my heart of hearts, after all those years of wanting to move, I actually feel at home here now.

    But the ultimate deciding factor was this. I love my current job, and have been working with them to have more time with my family. This new job would be a huge increase in work and stress load and take away all that flexible time I’ve worked to gain. When it comes down to it, my professional decisions have always come down to this: “Would I rather have a more successful career if it meant less time with my family?” And the answer, for me, every time is “no.”

    I don’t judge those who do what they have to do to meet ends meet, and I applaud those who take giant steps to improve their careers. And in this economy, I know the weight of turning down a “better” job opportunity. But in the end, I only get one life, and right now my family is at the center of that life, and I really don’t want it any other way.

  • Nina

    Date: 2012.09.24 | Category: Family, Mark, Photography | Response: 10

    It’s hard to believe Mark’s little cousin Nina, the same girl who was the flower girl in our wedding, is now a Senior in high school. Yesterday, she, her mom and I waded through the droves of people taking homecoming photos at a local park to take some senior portraits. She has blossomed into such a beautiful young woman. Taking her photos was easy and fun.

    I love how she looks like she’s out in the middle of the jungle in this one.

    This one is by far my favorite!

  • The Reunion

    Date: 2012.09.23 | Category: Friends, Life, Mark, Nostalgia | Response: 8

    My 10 year high school reunion is fast approaching, and I’ve been debating on whether or not I’m going to go. I’ve wondered, in the day and age of Facebook and social media, what’s the point in going? I keep in touch with some of my friends from high school already. Then I started thinking about the variables. My close knit group of friends I used to hang out with, I now just watch from a distance on FB streams. Some are active, some are not. And other classmates I wasn’t as close to have friended me since and talk to me more now than they ever did in school, sharing photos and stories about children.

    The other variable: me. Let’s face it, when going to an event to see people I haven’t seen in over 10 years, I need to show up looking great. We’ve all changed since high school (at least I hope), but what’s changed?

    Well for one, I was heavy in high school. And while I’m certainly not thin now, I’ve slimmed down. I’ve traded sloppy, baggy pants and t-shirts for more fitted shirts and skirts. I make some attempt at my hair and even wear a little makeup from time to time. Plus, I’ve already booked my fashion forward sister to help me look fabulous for the event.

    Socially? I’ve married a great, handsome guy and have a beautiful, amazing little girl.

    Professionally? I feel like I’m successful and I love my job(s). Editing and graphic design are interesting, ever evolving and takes some skillz to do.

    In high school, I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but I wasn’t a complete loser either. Some of my best friends were a grade above mine. I had my group that I hung out with and went to Mardi Gras parades with. I didn’t have boyfriends though, and that was a sore spot for me. I guess I was just picky and a late bloomer. That turned out to not be an entirely a bad thing. I excelled at my telecommunications class and English, and had fun running lights for school plays. I was an academic overachiever and a great big book nerd (some things never change).

    Thanks to Facebook, I know that most of my group I used to run with in high school is going, so I’ve decided I’ll go. I even managed to talk my husband into going with me, though I didn’t think that was possible. I think I need to figure out some way to “live tweet” the event for some of my high school buddies who live in Seattle and New Orleans and won’t be attending (what do you think Kacie?)

    If all else fails, it’s at a neat venue and it will certainly make for a great story.

    Tomorrow’s goal: Find the perfect dress. Wish me luck!

  • Bookish

    Date: 2012.09.18 | Category: Books | Response: 9

    Despite my reading buddy Noel temporarily hanging up her fiction reading shoes for books she has to read for learning and teaching, I’ve managed to plow on with my book reading obsession. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

    The Maze Runner by James Dashner

    This story begins with a boy who appears in a world with bits and pieces of his memory intact. For the most part he can’t remember his past at all. He arrives in a world of teenage boys who have created a society to function in, all the while trying to figure out a giant maze full of machine-animal hybrids that attempt to kill them during the evening. What ensues reminds me of The Matrix meets Lord of the Flies.

    The bottom line: The story was good, different and interesting and spoke to my Matrix love enough that I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

    Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey NIffenegger

    I saw that a number of my Shelfari friends had read this book and given it great reviews, so I decided to give it a read. The premise is that when a woman passes away, she gives her London flat to her twin sister’s twin daughters under the condition that they live in the flat for a year and don’t allow their parents to visit the flat. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the separation of the twin who died and her sister who relocated to the U.S. This is a great, creepy, beautiful ghost story about the lengths people will go to get what they think they desire. There is a London cemetery and two sets of twins involved, as well as a little kitten of death. The background of the cemetery and the history of the departed buried there fills in the seams of this story and places it’s own grip on each of the characters. And when the story winds up to the-very-crazy-part-that-changes-everything, I found myself  flying through the book at a frenzied pace, gawking in horror and unable to put it down.

    The bottom line: Great book, especially for October. Be prepared to be a little creeped out, but intrigued.

    Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

    This book is a love letter to video gaming and the 1980’s and I absolutely loved it. The premise is that technology has evolved to the point that there is a virtual reality world called the OASIS that almost everyone spends all day inhabiting, escaping the slums of the outside world. When the guy who created OASIS dies without an heir to his billions, a video goes out announcing that he has hidden an “Easter egg” in the gaming world of the OASIS and the first to find it inherits his fortune. There are three gates and three keys that must be found first in pursuit of the egg, and the trick to deciphering the locations of each lie with the creator’s obsession with the 80’s.

    The bottom line: I loved this book and couldn’t wait to share it with some of my friends. If you like 80’s pop culture and have ever loved an Atari game, go get this book, sit down and relish it.

    Delirium / Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
    These are two separate books in a trilogy (the third isn’t out yet). I’ve been hooked on YA dystopian fiction this year, and these two books fall into that category. The premise in this particular society is that love is a “disease” and once teenagers turn 18, they have a surgery that “cures” them. The story follows 17-year-old Lena and her journey from being terrified of contracting the disease to slowly realizing that maybe love isn’t a disease and all the dangers that line of thought imposes.

    I was a little disappointed with Delirium. I think comparing it to others I’ve read this year, it came across as whiny and I didn’t feel invested in the characters. The ending was a doozy though, and when the second one became available at the library, I decided to read the opening to see how it would transition and I am so glad I did. The second book, Pandemonium, completely redeems the first book. The story is much more interesting, the relationships more tenuous and the main character is so much stronger.

    Bottom Line: The first one is an easy read, and while it teeters on whiny, it’s almost worth it to get to the second one in the trilogy. I’m looking forward to reading the final installment.

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

    I was recently talking to a friend of mine about the next book she should pick for her book club, and this immediately came to mind. It’s been sitting at number one on the top 10 fiction book lists for weeks, and with good reason. The writing and descriptions in this book are divine, and the plot twists knocked me off my feet. The premise is that a girl disappears and her husband is blamed for her disappearance and the chaos that follows. While you may have seen the plot point before, trust me when I tell you that you probably haven’t seen all that follows in a story before.

    Bottom line: The writing in this book is delicious, and how the story unfolds is jaw dropping. If you love good writing and mysteries, this is your book.

    So tell me, what should I pick up next?

  • The Beauty in Ordinary

    Date: 2012.09.10 | Category: Family, Food, Halloween, Home, Life, Mark, Sarah | Response: 21

    The first spark of fall sifted it’s way into the air this weekend. I know it won’t last. The weather will spike up and down for a while still before it settles into a few crisp, beautiful days. But just the hint of this gorgeous weather sent my mood soaring this weekend.

    I find that I always keep myself busy, looking forward to the next big thing or trip. But this weekend, I stayed put and enjoyed every moment of it.

    Sarah is such an amazing little person now, and hanging out with her can be so much fun! I think our good moods were feeding off of each other. We went grocery shopping at Target, where several strangers commented on her personality. The fact that they can see her spunk in just a few quick moments makes me laugh. She murmurers this phrase now that sounds like, “what is it?” and points to objects around her.

    We visited my parents, cleaned house, folded laundry and cooked. I made pumpkin gingerbread, one of my all time favorite recipes. We went on a walk with the dogs and Mark “revved up” her stroller and sent her into a cascade of giggles. She ran outside and dumped buckets of water on herself.

    I set up an art station for her with big sheets of blank newsprint paper and lots of crayons and she colored for a solid 30 minutes. As she was coloring, I leaned over to Mark and said, “that was one of my secret hopes, you know, that she would love to color and make art.” I don’t know if it will stick, but right now it makes her so happy.

    Even at church this morning, after Sarah rebelled against sitting in the pew, she calmly and happily went to play in the nursery – that was the first time she went and actually seemed to enjoy it. And the homily spoke personally to me today, easing a worry I’ve been gnawing on for several months now.

    I picked up pumpkin spice lattes during Sarah’s nap today (with a gift card no less) and enjoyed the start of the football season with my husband.

    This weekend was ordinary and entirely perfect.

  • Look Ma, I’m Famous!

    Date: 2012.09.06 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Home, Me, Photography, Sarah, Style, Work | Response: 17

    Guess what guys, my mom and Sarah are locally famous, at least for a month. They’re on the cover of a local magazine, The Best of Times, (and in the inside story along with my friend Susan’s baby and dad).

    I had a great time taking photos for this story. Here are a couple outtakes that didn’t make it into print, but made me smile.

    These two little girls did an amazing job during their photoshoots. Though that may have something to do with how often they’re already photographed!

  • A Different Take on Austin

    Date: 2012.09.05 | Category: Family, Food, Friends, Sarah, Travel | Response: 18

    Mark and I go to Austin annually to visit our friends who live there. Prior to having kids, our visits usually meant floating down the Comal river with an ice chest of beer, going to bars on Sixth Street, frequenting the hip local restaurants and checking out the amazing music scene.

    And now? Well we have a busy 17-month-old and they have a four-month-old and we’re all just very tired. But that doesn’t mean we sat at home and did nothing.

    We did, after all, manage to go downtown and hit up the flagship Whole Foods store and raid their amazing, organic buffet. Sarah ate over half of “my” food and we learned that she likes pot roast and Indian food. Who knew? The store was really amazing. Triple decker parking garage, countless fresh prepped food counters, chocolate truffle center, fresh bakery, produce for days and great shopping.

    The kids thought it was ok too.

    The other thing that happens is that I now take lots of pictures… all of children. Sorry about that, but you’ll just have to live our trip by staring at photos of little ones.

    Sarah suddenly started talking more during the trip too, which floored me. “Good girl,” “Yay, slide!” and a form of her own name all emerged while we were there.

    Maybe she was just trying to get our attention because the baby was stealing her thunder in the bouncer.

    And even though the heat of the day was brutal, the mornings in Austin were divine. Upper 70’s, wind and no humidity. And since Sarah likes to attempt to wake the household at 6 a.m., we spent a lot of time outside in the mornings.

    Yep, things were different this time around, but I loved seeing a little bit of Austin with Sarah in tow.