Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sing, Ye Heavens, and Earth Reply: Alleluia!

We just got home from performing in our Stake's (group of several LDS congregations) Easter Oratorio. What an experience! The choir director was quite ambitious: we had a full orchestra, children's choir, youth choir, adult choir, and several soloists and small group numbers. The music ranged from primary songs to selections from the Messiah. There were rough spots, admittedly, but overall it was glorious.

I love to sing with people who can sing. We actually pulled off O Magnum Mysterium a cappella. It has long been a dream of mine to sing that piece: the translation of the Latin text is beautiful, and the swirling harmonies are ethereal.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with singing. I have tried several times to cut it out of my life because it has been such a frustrating and emotional thing for me, but I keep coming back to it. For better or for worse, I can't live without it. And even though there are still some times that I struggle because my voice feels trapped inside me, strangled by my own psychological need to pathologically control things, there are also times that I can partially transcend myself, forget myself, and give myself to the gloriousness of inspired song.

I still have hope that I'll one day break through my self-erected barriers of tension and doubt, but until then I will sing anyway. I'll share whatever talent I have anyway. And sometimes I'll still probably cry in frustration, but I will also fully live those moments where music lifts me beyond myself, where it's not just my voice that's singing--it's all of me.

As my beautiful roommate Rachel often said, quoting Spencer W. Kimball, "Let us not die with our music still in us."

I don't intend to.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Because it Needed to be Done

I feel a little funny sometimes when choosing what to post on this blog.  I have a strong personality and strong opinions, and sometimes I can come across a bit, well, strong.  I don't ever mean to offend anyone by what I write, and I also hate knowing that some people are going to read this stuff and make innaccurate or uncomplimentary judgments about me.  I've decided, though, that if I can't write what I want here, on my blog, then where can I?  And if I can't write about what I'm really thinking or feeling or experiencing, what's the point in having a blog at all?
 
So where did that little disclaimer/justification come from?  I was talking to my mom today about how helpless I feel sometimes when I pay attention to the directions our country is headed politically, the epidemic of avalanching morals, and the increasingly offensive onslaught of programming and advertising.  The world is spiraling out of control, and there's nothing I can do about it.  Or is there?

I've decided to take pride in the fact that I actively participate in promoting positive change by making my voice heard through letters, emails, boycotts, or phone calls.  I've already posted a couple of examples, all rather silly, and had decided to forgo similar future entries because I didn't want to offend or be regarded as an obnoxious activist.  I have changed my mind.  I don't plan on posting about every phone call I make or letter I send (because I intend to do a fair amount: some trivial, some not), but I will write about some for two reasons: first, because I hope that others will be inspired to speak up too, and second, because I want to bring attention to some of the issues I feel strongly about.  

I am a letter-writer.  An email-sender.  A phone-caller.  A boycotter.  And I'm proud of it.  

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On Tuesday, February 17, 2009 12:34 PM (Pacific Time) you submitted the following feedback to American Apparel:

I think some of your clothes are stylish and fun, but I will absolutely never buy them because of your pornographic ads. Whose bright idea was it to have a bare-chested woman with a nipple showing through the advertised suspenders?? Disgusting. I can't even tell you how offensive that is. That's the raunchiest ad of yours that I've seen, though you've certainly had some other doozies. Maybe you think "sex sells," but certainly not to this customer. 


Tuesday, February 16, 2009 7:58 PM, American Apparel Response

Hi Lindsay, Thank you for expressing your concern, American Apparel At American Apparel, we respect diversity at all costs whether it be race, gender, sexuality, nationality, interest, or even occupation. We understand that beauty comes in all shapes and forms, and different people choose to display this beauty in different ways. Additionally, we find that most of our customers appreciate our unconventional means of advertising and photography, including our choice in models. Lastly, we also find that those who would be so offended by the details of our models personal choices must be familiar with their occupation, thus being a fan or at least a follower of their career, in which we would assume they appreciate their work outside of American Apparel. Thank you

Sarah Tompkins

Wednesday, February 17, 2009 10:46 AM

Sarah:
I agree with almost everything you said.  I think it's fine that you respect and promote diversity.  I am not complaining about your choice in models or judging their personal choices, and I respect the rights of other people to look at and enjoy the naked women on your website.  Your last sentence didn't make any sense to me, but I don't know who any of your models are and I'm not familiar with their personal choices, occupation, or work outside American Apparel.  

My problem with your company is that you place offensive ads on other, family-friendly websites (i.e. Facebook and foundmagazine.com, to name two).  Some of your ads are classy and fine, like the beret ad or most of the Get Toasty ads.  I don't mind seeing your models or ads for your company when they're modestly attired.  Save the pornographic ads for your website or adult and porn websites.   I can't believe that I have to explain this, but most people don't want to see breasts and nipples on their sidebars when surfing the web.  It's offensive.

Lindsay
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Yes, they just opened an American Apparel in San Antonio.  No, I will not be shopping there.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Strawberry Picking



We left at 6:50 yesterday morning with our friends Jonathan and Mandy to go to Marburger Orchard to pick some strawberries.  6:50.  As in, A.M.  On a Saturday.  In case I haven't yet mentioned it on my blog, I am the antithesis of a morning person.  Mornings in general are bad, but rising before 8:00 on Saturday or Sunday is on my list of Top Ten Things I Hate More Than Cough Medicine.  So my cell phone alarm goes off at 6:25 (A.M.! Did I mention it was Saturday?) and somehow incorporates itself into my dream for a minute or so.  I'm brought out of dreamland by Jay groggily trying to free himself from the covers.  As he stumbled toward the door, he croaked an appropriate get-out-of-bed battle cry: "For the strawberries!"

We picked up Jonathan and Mandy and drove for an hour before we finally pulled up to Marburger Orchard, only to be greeted by the signs: "Sold out.  Will re-open tomorrow."  I think the four of us sat there for at least a minute, just staring at the signs.  We had left early because we wanted to be there right when it opened--we'd heard that if you didn't arrive early, the berries would be gone.  

We didn't give up hope, though: the website said they opened at 9:00, but Jonathan had heard that they would usually open their gates an hour early (we'd arrived at 8).  Hoping that they really would be open at 9, we drove to Fredericksburg, a quaint town about 10 minutes down the road.  We stopped at a bakery that had a line that wrapped around the inside of the store and each bought a couple loaves of fresh bread and cinnamon rolls.  Mmmm.  We then turned around and headed back to the orchard.  

They were open!  I was so relieved (Even more than waking up early on weekends, I hate it when I make an effort to pull myself out of bed and it turns out to be for nothing).  



We had a great time and picked lots and lots of strawberries.  


The orchard was so picturesque with the peach trees covered in pink blossoms--I can't wait for fresh peaches!


Jonathan and Mandy.  


After we'd picked our fill, we went back to Fredericksburg.  It's a fun place: touristy and quirky with a main street lined with shops full of homemade goodies, antiques, art, vintage-y clothing, and unique gifts.  We had a delicious lunch at a little cafe, then did some window shopping and walking around.  

All in all, it was a delightful day.  Perfect weather, deliciously fresh strawberries, and a pleasant jaunt through town made for a fun day trip.  

Oh, and then we came home and had these lacy, delicate crepes for dinner with homemade whipped cream.  Heavenly.

This morning, we made strawberry muffins for breakfast--divine!  I was going to take a picture, but we ate them all too fast...

Stay tuned for more pick-your-own fruit pictures when the peaches come on in a couple of months.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Classy Kitchen

In a previous post, I mentioned the inside-out bowls and butter dish that Jay let me buy from Anthropologie.  I am still in love with them, so I decided to post a few pictures.  




The butter dish is small--probably two thirds the size of a normal one.  Love it.  Jay likes the bowls, too, because they are bigger than our former "ice cream bowls."  They're also the perfect size for fruit salad or yogurt.  


Anthropologie inside out bowl: $8
Anthropologie butter dish: $12
The feeling I get when I see them on my counter:  Priceless.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Office does "Classy"



I really really don't like TV.  The news is depressing and ridiculously biased, the shows are laced with bad language and innuendo, I think most sports are a waste of time (NFL, anyone?), the reality series are nearly all redundant and in poor taste--but despite all the bad programming, people get sucked in and spend a good portion of their lives sitting in front of it, even when there's "nothing on."  

As of now, we don't have a TV.  We'll get one eventually, but I really don't want cable.  Ever.  (Particularly Time-Warner, but that's another story.)  Being on "cable hiatus" for a few years has re-sensitized me to the foulness that plays 24/7 on television.  Even the ads are sleazy.  I don't want that in my home.  

(I know there are many people who view TV "responsibly" and am not meaning to criticize.  I realize there are a lot of good things that can come from TV and/or cable (discovery channel, history channel, and General Conference, to name a few).  I'm willing to bear the deprivation because I doubt I could be so disciplined in my usage.)

There are, however, a few shows that Jay follows and one show we watch together via the internet.  I really really like The Office.  (Yes, it has language and it's crude... I'm not perfect.)  At this moment, I am breathlessly awaiting Jay's return from school so we can watch yesterday's new episode together.  I cheated a little bit, though, and watched the 2-minute teaser they show before the theme song plays.  The premise: what it means to be "classy."  

So, in honor of last week's post in honor of classiness, click here to see classy, Office style.  

"See, the thing about classy is, it's a state of mind."  - Jim

(Season 5, episode "New Boss".  Disclaimer:  I have not watched the entire episode and cannot vouch for it, but I highly recommend the bit at the beginning.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Competitive.

I don't like things I'm not good at. They're just not fun for me. I'm a teaspoon of perfectionistic mixed with two cups of competitiveness and a gallon of pride, and if I can't do something well, I'd rather just not do it at all.

So last week when Jay asked me for the hundredth time if I wanted to come play ultimate frisbee with him and his co-ed school intramural team, I said no. For the hundredth time.

He gave me his pathetic pouty face. For the hundredth... well, you get the idea.

The way the rules work for ultimate frisbee intramurals are as follows: 7 players are on the field at a time. Two of those players have to be female. Jay's team had only one girl show up for all their games, so even though they had an extra guy or two, they were a man short on the field and the girl never got any breaks. "We need you," Jay would say. "Come play."

But I wouldn't go play because I knew I'd be miserable. I wouldn't want anyone to throw the frisbee to me, but would feel embarrassed if no one actually threw to me, especially if I was the only one wide open. Does that make sense in a girly, oxymoronic way? And I knew that I'd get frustrated every time I dropped the frisbee or make a bad pass (assuming I got to touch the disc). And no offense to guys, but I really hate co-ed sports: men can get so involved in the game that they either get mean if you drop a pass, or they'll go sexist on you and only throw to boys even when some of the girls are really good. Then it's no fun playing with them.

For some reason last week, though, I decided to go play. I was dreading it because I was afraid my attitude would get in the way, but I've been wanting to get better at relaxing and just having fun, regardless of my skill level. Even when I'm the only one dropping the frisbee. Even when I'm losing a board game. Even when everyone else's craft project looks like it came out of a magazine and mine looks like a clumsy five year old's.

So I suited up and we went, with the condition that if there were two girls who showed up for his team, I wouldn't play. And as we walked to the field, there were two girls sitting with his teammates. I was off the hook! I was almost disappointed, but not quite. Turned out, though, that only 3 boys showed up. They recruited one more, but still only had 6 people. So I played.

We lost. Horribly. But you know what? I had fun. Got a little exercise running up and down the field. Missed the frisbee. Dropped the frisbee. And caught the frisbee! Threw it a few times. Even swatted it down once, right in front of the nose of the other team's arrogant, large, sexist, bossy captain (he claimed afterwards that he had "dropped" it before I touched it, but that was a lie).

Skill and winning are not prerequisites to fun. Happy is an attitude. I repeat these platitudes over and over again in my mind when I'm embarking on what I know will be a free exhibition of my lack of skill or coordination. Eight times out of ten, I still end up embarrassed and frustrated. But twenty percent of the time, I get the hang of it. Usually not the hang of the craft/sport/whatever, but of liking it, nevertheless. Enjoying myself, nevertheless. Having a good attitude, nevertheless.

All that said, however, I'd still much rather do things I'm good at. Bring me a novel that needs to be read fast. Give me a room of people who need bossing around. Ask me to point out spelling or grammatical errors in a newspaper. Challenge me to a game of Monopoly or Hand and Foot so I can trounce you soundly.

And ten times out of ten, I guarantee I'll have fun doing it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Reflections on the Parable

Why do bad things happen to good people?
This is a question I have been asked many times, sometimes by good people who are going through bad things, sometimes by people who doubt the existence of a loving God because of the tragedy that fills our world. So many of the "bad things" seem to be so senseless: hurricanes and floods, plane and auto crashes, neglected children and broken homes, pain and disease, war and terrorism, the crimes that people knowingly commit against one another.
"How," a woman once asked me, her voice trembling with passion as she pointed to pictures of tsunami victims on the cover of a magazine, "how could a loving God allow this to happen to thousands and thousands of innocent people?"
I told her that I didn't know why. But that I did know that there is a God and that He does love us.
I do not pretend to have all of the answers, but I wanted to share the thoughts I've had the past few days as I've been reflecting on my dad's parable. When God sees us floundering and crippled and unable to fly like the little bird in my front yard, why doesn't He prepare us a box filled with soft kleenex, hold us and pet us, and gently toss us into the air to help us strengthen our wings? Why is it when we are our lowest and plead with God for help that we often feel the most alone?

Hard times build character
My mission president's wife often told us to use our pain and disappointment as sandpaper to smooth the rough edges of our character. I have found that trials of all kinds are often a catalyst for growth. If we allow them, they can help us refine our very natures and develop Christlike attributes like patience, humility, and love. As I finally reach the "other side" of my trials, I am consistently amazed to see the changes in myself. Crucibles and refining fires are not pleasant experiences, but as we emerge from them we are purer, we are stronger, we are more humble, we are more grateful.

Tragedy humbles us and causes us to draw nearer to God
There is something about the nature of personal tragedy that drives even the most faithless or most complacent among us to our knees, searching for relief. Tragedy puts us in situations that are impossible to handle by ourselves, brings us pain that is too great to be borne unaided, gives us wounds that seem too deep to heal. It can be the great isolator, causing us to feel utterly alone. In desperation, in pain, in fear, in longing for comfort, we turn to the only One with the answers, the only One who can completely understand our pain, the only One with the power to heal and soothe our spirits.
So why, then, when we need Him most, does God often seem to leave our prayers unanswered? I do not know all the answers to this question, but I have come to know through personal experience that there is something to be gained from pain, loneliness, and soul-searching. In those defining moments, as we wait for the pain to end or the situation to resolve or the comfort to come, as we sit in spiritual silence and wonder if there really is anyone listening when we pray, it is in those moments that we discover our faith, our trust, our hope in God, our belief in and dependence on the healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. During times of pain when we feel we have no faith, when we pray and receive no answers, we have an opportunity to exercise our faith and hope by relying on the faith we had and witnesses we've received in the past. And as we stumble falteringly forward in the darkness, we will find, if we allow ourselves, that we are not alone. Our faith will flood back to us, tested and validated. We will ultimately receive the peace and healing we so desperately craved, but in the time and the way that is most beneficial to our individual growth and need.

Trials give us experience we can use to help others
I think one of the greatest acts of love the Savior demonstrated was His willingness to suffer the pains and trials of all people, not because He needed the experience, but because He wanted to know how to help us (Alma 7:11-12). The people who have helped me the most through my difficult times are those who have gone through something similar: they were able to relate to me and comfort me much more effectively than just a compassionate ear and kind words ever could. Since the Savior knows us perfectly because he has experienced our pains and afflictions, he knows how to help us according to what we're going through. Likewise, while I believe that we learn from each of the trials we pass through, one of the highest callings that we can receive from God is to endure a trial that will give us the experience that we need to one day help someone else. I have had hardships that I could not understand or find meaning in at the time, but much later I was able to use my experiences and the lessons I'd learned to help other people who were going through similar difficulties. By serving others in this way I not only realized one reason why I had been given that trial, but I also felt the joy that comes from being used as an instrument in the hands of God.

Sorrow is prerequisite to joy
There is a balance and order in the universe that includes opposition in all things in both spiritual and temporal realms. Without injury or sickness, we could never appreciate the blessing of health; without the pain of sorrow, we could not appreciate or know the sweetness of joy. It is a paradox, but it is true. I have come to believe that the deeper the pain and sorrow we have felt, the greater our capacity to feel joy becomes. Almost as if each trial and hardship empties us of something, deepens us somehow, and when the time comes, the void carved out by pain and sorrow is filled with joy--more than we've ever felt because before we never had the capacity for it previously.

A life of goodness does not equal a life of easiness
For some reason, many of us subconsciously feel that if we are "good" and meet expectations by living right or keeping the commandments of God, we should be blessed with an easy and carefree existence, free from devastation, pain, and fear. One only has to look as far as Jesus Christ to see that even a perfect life of righteousness does not guarantee a charmed life of material wealth and bliss. We know that keeping the commandments is the only way to be truly happy, and we also know that although making righteous choices isn't aways easy, in the long run it's much easier than dealing with the consequences of sinful choices that were initially easy to make.

God gave us the free will to make our own choices
It can be tempting sometimes to blame God for the hard things in our lives: "Why did He let this happen?" is an easy thing to say. Especially when we have no idea how many times He has reached out to prevent trials and accidents and pain in our daily lives. In the end, though, we are responsible for not only the choices we make that sometimes cause tragedy in our own lives or in the lives of others, we are also responsible for our reactions to whatever situation we may find ourselves in. As we "endure to the end" of our trials (a comforting phrase, for it implies that there is an end), we become stronger and develop confidence in God and in ourselves. God respects us. He wants so badly for us to be happy, but even more than that He wants us to choose it for ourselves. He loves us so much that He wants us to have what we want even more than what He wants for us. Salvation, happiness, and peace are all things we have to choose for ourselves.

This is a long post, but still an incomplete answer to my initial questions. Life can be hard. Sometimes it's our fault, sometimes not. Sometimes we feel God's love and comfort, sometimes we don't. But He is there. He loves us. And He loves us enough not to hold us and pet us and fix us immediately during all of the hard times. And because He knows what's best for us much better than we do, even in loneliness and pain and trial we need to move forward with the faith that, someday, He will help us learn to fly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Parable of the Little Bird

I'm at home this week for spring break, filling my time with cleaning and projects (today's project: a quadruple batch of Amish friendship bread, a.k.a. Grandma's cinnamon bread by my fam) and trying not to spend too much time on the computer.  As I was sitting on the couch, waiting for the timer to go off, I started thinking about my time as a missionary and a particular letter my dad sent me.  

I served an 18-month mission in Portland, OR for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2004-2006.  I loved it.  As a missionary, I had limited contact with my family: I could only email/write them once a week and call them on the phone twice a year (Christmas and Mothers' Day).  It was hard, but it was for the best.  My family was really good about writing to me often.  My mom sent me long, newsy emails every week.  My grandma sent me a letter in her flowing cursive that arrived every Tuesday or Wednesday.  My dad, surprising both of us, I think, wrote to me frequently: most weeks would bring 3+ letters from him.  I looked forward to his letters the most because I never knew what I would find when I opened the envelope: random $1 bills, Far Side comics from a daily tear-off calendar, jokes, uplifting articles, programs from events, and pictures often accompanied his letters, usually written on lined yellow notebook paper in his masculine, slanted script.  

I don't know how he did it, but he always managed to share something insightful.  His way with words is very straightforward, but is somehow very tender at the same time.  I could feel how much he loved me in each letter, and I became increasingly humbled as I realized how proud he was of me.  I think that time apart while I was on my mission brought us closer together than I ever thought possible.  

Sometimes his letters made me cry, usually because of how touching they were.  I received this letter in May of 2005, about 7 months into my mission.  My youngest brother, David, would have been 8.  My sisters Sara (16 at the time) and Lisa (11) are also mentioned in the story.  

The Parable of the Little Bird

A few days ago, I noticed a little bird in front of our house.  The little bird couldn't fly; the mother bird was hovering.  It appeared that maybe one wing wasn't as strong as the other.  When David came home, I told him about the bird.  When we went out to look, it was still there.  We watched it for awhile, then David wanted to hold it.  We cornered it and gently held it for a minute.  Then we let it go.  David took a chair out so he could watch and "take care of it."  I explained that he needed to let the mother bird take care of it.  David said, "It needs me."  

A few minutes later, David came in and asked if he could put it in a box.  I explained that the more we kept the bird away from his mother it would probably die.  David teared up and said, "I will be careful--it needs me."  

As the day went on, David was so attentive to the little bird.  He got a box with soft towels and grass, he had a lid with water in it, he would gently toss the bird in the air to help it learn to fly.  I had to leave for several hours and upon my return I noticed a very carefully crafted bird box on the deck that Lisa and his friends had helped make.  I asked David about the bird.  He said, "Mom and I let it go in front of the house so it can be with its mom."  

That could have been the end of the story, but when I mentioned the bird to Mom, she lowered her voice and said, "The bird is dead."  Sara had found it dead on the driveway, probably from dehydration and handling.  Mom said when she had David let it go he pleaded, "But Mom, it isn't strong enough to fly yet--it needs me."  

The next morning, David came to me and said, "Dad, I got to see the bird one more time.  Last night it was in my dream, and it could fly."  

I suspect there are many times when our Heavenly Father and Jesus want to take care of us and spare us from the hard things in this life, but they know for our own good they can't.  

God loves you, Lindsay.
So do I.
Dad

Monday, March 9, 2009

Classy.

Every once in awhile I'll go through a "I want to change" phase where I look at myself and my life and wish that I were better in certain areas. Sometimes this is a good thing because it inspires me to improve. But sometimes it's unhealthy because "better" in my mind isn't always actually better: sometimes it's just different. And often the "different" that I want to become isn't a realistic reality for me because it's just not who I am, and I'd do a lot better just being me rather than try to be something I'm not.

The current phase? I really want to be classy. I know you're probably thinking that I am ridiculous for desiring this since I am already so classy (especially if you've seen me wear my brown dress with my new pearls). So before everybody gets all up-in-arms about that and starts writing "stop hating on yourself" comments, let me explain that "classy" is just the word I picked to encompass the following:

· I want my house to be cleaner. It's hard to entirely eliminate clutter in a tiny one-bedroom apartment (there's just nowhere to put anything), but I want to have neater habits.

· I want to have a nicely decorated living space. Complication: I am truly one of those people who cannot "decorate" to save my life. I know what I like when I see it, but I can't "visualize" where things would fit (or if they would fit) in my house. So I go visit friends and look around in jealous admiration at their beautiful-trendy-chic rooms with wall hangings/valances/shower curtains they have made themselves but have no idea how to implement their ideas and style in my own space.

· I want to make some of my own stuff for my house. Complication: I am also one of those people who is not good at crafts. I have given up on scrapbooking as a lost cause and am at peace with that decision, but I want to make other stuff. Like, I want to learn how to quilt and sew (mostly simple) things (complication: no sewing machine and no "project" room; one bedroom apartment, remember?), make folksy seasonal/holiday decorations (which I do on occasion, with help, at church activities), and hang my own window treatments. The "not crafty" gene I inherited from my mother, but I really can't be angry about it because I did inherit her brain (well, a combo of hers and my dad's), and not to brag, but my parents are seriously geniuses. For reals. I, myself, am not a genius, but I did get a pretty smart brain. So I'm grateful. (And I am not, I repeat, not saying that people who are crafty are not smart. I am just saying that since I don't have both, if I had to pick between the two, I'd pick smart. So you crafty and smart people can all just put those threatening exacto knives and pinking shears back down now.)

· I want to take more pride in my appearance--sometimes I am down-right dowdy. I am blessed to have a husband who likes me better without makeup than with it and who is always very complimentary about the way I look, but I believe God is in the details and it really wouldn't kill me to change my earrings or get a pedicure every once in awhile.

So for the last week, my "classy" cravings have been to go to a flea market or Anthropologie (opposite ends of the spectrum, but equally vintage-y) to try and snag a cute dress or something fun for my apartment. I finally caved Saturday morning and went to Anthropologie, husband in tow (long story; I wasn't planning on bringing him), and we also hit up Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn. Reality hit, fast, when I started looking at price tags. I've been in Anthro before (once) and knew what to expect, but it still came as a mild shock to see dresses 50% off that still cost $120 (or more). And one hundred and fifty bucks for jeans?? I rarely buy a pair for over thirty. Suffice it to say that I did not revamp my wardrobe. Instead, I focused on their fun home decor/kitchen items. Fell in love with the prettiest little "inside out" bowls you've ever seen, along with a darling butter dish (which we actually need). None of them match, and that's my favorite part about them (see first bullet below). I will post pictures once we get our new camera in the mail. I wasn't going to buy them because they were all a little pricey and because I'd really just wanted to go look. But Jay liked the butter dish, too, and he saw how much I loved those silly, precious little bowls, so he bought four of them for me, along with the butter dish. He is so good to me.

We also picked up a stoneware bread pan from Williams-Sonoma (picture later--it's so pretty) and while we were there I fell in love with this. I think I haven't been shopping in awhile, because I was falling in love a lot that day. I know it's random to covet an apron. I know I'm ridiculous. But I love the blue-on-ivory "airy pastoral design." It's just so... Classy. No, I did not buy it--the Anthropologie dishes were enough splurge for one day.

What I'm doing to achieve the dream:

· I decided to stop worrying so much about "themes" and "matching" when it comes to decorating my space: from now on, within reason, I'm going to get what I like and my theme will be "because I like it."

· I have a goal this week to finally get some pictures in the frames that have been leaning against my wall for the past 5 months and get said frames on the wall somewhere. Or at least pick out the pictures that will go in the frames and have them eventually photoshopped (not by me--oh, no--by the beautifully artistic and incredibly classy Katie).

· I am going to attempt to step out of the box a bit when it comes to my personal style, with decorating and also with my clothes. I am generally a very casual dresser (trademark: jeans, ratty t-shirt, 6-year-old flip flops) and too lazy to accessorize. But I want to be a little more vintage-y, a little more daring, a little more, well, classy. This does not mean that I am going to start wearing stilettos, but it does mean that I may try to branch out my shoe collection to include red pumps or something (since my shoe "collection" right now consists of running shoes (2), "dressy" platform sandals that I wear 4 days a week (2), flip flops (1), and a box full of other old or painful shoes I never wear).

· I'm going to be neater. I know I need to break that down into more specific goals for it to become a reality, so I will. Someday.

Although my focus the past week or so has been on material things (cough Anthropologie cough), here are my long-term goals for enduring classiness:

· I want a usually mostly clean, welcoming living space that feels like home; a place full of love and laughter and music and the Spirit of God. I never want to be afraid of letting children play in my house, though: messes = learning + fun

· Even if I end up hiring an interior decorator (which will probably be the case as I really am hopeless), I will find joy in filling my house with beautiful things

· I’m going to take care of my body by eating healthily and exercising regularly

· I’ll take care of my appearance by keeping on top of the little things and by buying myself some nice new clothes once in awhile, even when I’m busy with kids

· I will find joy in the daily activities of life with my family, including cooking, cleaning, and caring for children

Friday, March 6, 2009

Houston

So we went on a trip to Houston a couple months ago to visit Jay's beautiful sister Andrea and her husband David.  We like them lots.  Jay's dad, Tony, made the drive from Louisiana to join us.  We played games (ironically enough, we played online--every single one of us had a laptop, and we were too lazy to set up Ticket to Ride (or "Trains," as Jay's fam calls it), so we played each other on the computer.  I should have taken a picture...), watched a movie, went to church, and hit the Houston Zoo and Holocaust museum.  

We loved the zoo, and, thanks to my trigger-happy husband, we have over 150 pictures of the animals.  He had to take a picture of everything we saw.  I told him he should probably save the camera battery (and save me from having to sort through them later) and just take pictures of his favorites, but he consistently replied, "but this one is so cool" as he put his finger to the shutter once again.  I guess it was kind of endearing.  He also took some video of a few of the animals, but he didn't tell us when he was videoing, so sometimes there is pretty funny background dialogue.  Here are a couple favorites:

The elephant with the itchy rump:

The hungry giraffes: social grooming (check out those lips)

One of the first things we did when we got there was go through the aquarium building.  As we stood looking at fish, I told Jay about how my mom would often take me and my sister to the San Francisco Bay Aquarium when we lived in SF as little tykes.  I loved looking at all the fish, but my favorites were the lionfish and the stonefish because they were poisonous.  The stonefish was my very favorite because it was the most venomous fish in the world and because it always looked so grumpy.  Right after I finished my little reminiscence, we turned the corner and there they were in two aquariums right on top of each other!  I was so excited.  

Stonefish
Lionfish
I also liked these fish because they were big and looked really jovial--see him smiling?  



Tiger, crazy multi-colored monkey thing 

Me and Andrea (sulking because Jay made us pose next to the ugly monkey picture), Jay's and my hands as compared to a great ape.  Note how my fingers barely clear the palm, while Jay's hand looks like a long-lost relative of the great ape.  I could delve further into this comparison, but I shall refrain.  

How tall are we?  
Lindsay: 5'5" (normal)

     Jay:  6'5" (freakish giant)

Gotta love the zoo propaganda.  


I wanted to ride the turtle...


David and Andrea, me and Jay.  It was a chilly day, especially for Houston, so David was kind enough to lend Jay his hot Abercrombie sweatshirt.  

We had so much fun in Houston!  Thanks to Andrea and David for their hospitality: we are so jealous of their house.  Andrea cooked for us while I was a lazy bum and chilled on the couch and browsed her awesome book collection.  Tony was a great chauffer in his sweet Avalanche.  

Now it's y'all's turn to come visit us.  I think it's time for a Six Flags trip...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Engagement

Since I haven't been so good at keeping a journal (understatement), and since I missed writing about some fairly major life events (another understatement), I'm going to be playing catch-up for awhile. My plan is to try and write about past events on/near their anniversaries. Maybe even more frequently if I get ambitious.

I had moved to San Antonio at the end of December after graduating from BYU (December 2007). Jay and I met January of 2007 and had been dating since that April (more on that later). When I graduated we knew we loved each other, but since 90% of our relationship had been long-distance and the longest we'd ever spent with each other at one time was two weeks, we wanted to spend more time together before we decided if we should get married.

By about mid-February, we were both pretty sure. Rather, Jay had been pretty sure for awhile; I was the one vacillating. But I was sure enough that I knew I would say "yes" if he asked me. We had looked at rings a couple times and he knew the style I wanted, but I had no idea if he'd actually bought one yet. I was super scared to get engaged, but I still started telling Jay that if he wanted to get married in May/June, he needed to be popping the question ASAP (I know a three-month engagement sounds insanely brief to many of you, but it was just about perfect for me; if I could do it again, I would prefer 3.5-4 months just so I would have had time to track down a few more addresses).

On March 1st, 2008, a sunny Saturday morning, Jay picked me up for a date. The night before, we had gone to Fredericksburg, a quaint town about an hour and a half away. He had been very secretive about the whole thing, and I was mildly suspicious, but apart from having a great time and realizing once again how much I loved him, it was an uneventful evening. So I was entirely unsuspicious the next morning for our outing to the San Antonio mission trail. Even when he showed up with a gorgeous bouquet of pink tulips.

We left around 11 and started visiting some of the old missions around town (though the Alamo is by far the most famous, I think the others are much more impressive and interesting).

We had fun admiring the old architecture, and we decided that people back then were significantly shorter than we are now (or, at least, significantly shorter than Jay).













This mission was the most impressive, in my opinion (I don't remember which one was which--I think this one was San Jose?)--it even has a dome!


Call me a snob, but I've never been much impressed by "old" American architecture: the oldest of it is mainly only 200-300 years old, and most of it looks incredibly primitive. I guess I'm guilty of comparing it to ancient Greek and Roman architecture from literally thousands of years ago that still looks better than our "ruins." That being said, I was moderately impressed by this facade: if you squint your eyes and ignore the rough cement/adobe walls on the sides, you can almost imagine the statuary is from a small European church. It really is beautiful, and the fact that it is "old American" (albeit with a distinct European influence) makes me like it even more.

After visiting a couple of missions, we somewhat randomly found a secluded little aqueduct. It's technically part of the mission trail, but since it is off by itself (about a mile from the Espada mission), there weren't many people there. It featured a river flowing under the aqueduct: a double arched bridge-type thing that had water flowing in the channel on the top. The stones it was constructed from were old and moss-covered in places. It was a romantic spot: dappled sun and shade and the sound of rippling water. We decided it was the perfect place to eat our picnic lunches.

(Self portraits by the river just before lunch)


We talked and laughed over ham wraps and granola bars, sitting in the cool shade with our backs against the inner part of one of the arches. It was a pleasant and peaceful afternoon, and we were the only ones there. Once we finished eating, we walked through the arch and stood by the side of the river with our arms around each other, just looking at the green and the water. After a few moments of contented silence, Jay said, "So, what would you think if I proposed to you right here?"

I got really confused, thinking he wanted me to help plan it out for sometime in the future, and said, "Like, right now?"

And then, in what felt like slow motion, he knelt down, took my hands, and said those four words that every girl, secretly or not, has looked forward to her whole life: "Will you marry me?"

And typical, unromantic me, instead of melting into a little pool of sentiment around his semi-recumbent knees, was still confused. I was smart enough not to open my mouth, but here's a glimpse of what was going on underneath the surface: Is he practicing?

Almost as an afterthought, with a practically audible "oh yeah," Jay let go of one of my hands and reached into his pocket and pulled out a black shoelace with something sparkly tied in the middle of it. And suddenly, with that black shoelace, reality crashed through my stupor. (Apparently Jay had worried that I'd notice if he had a big square ring box in his pocket, but he didn't want the ring floating around by itself in case it fell out, so he tied it to a shoestring. Such a problem solver.)

I looked at him with wide eyes, my mouth slightly open. His smile was a mix of nervous, expectant, and pleased for so obviously surprising me. He held the ring up to me.

I didn't answer immediately. This was a big moment, and I didn't want my response to be a reflex. I thought about the decision I'd already made to marry him and the reasons why. I thought about how much I loved him and how good he was to me. I thought about starting a family with him and raising our children together. And then I looked into his eyes and smiled before leaning in for a slow kiss.

"Yes," I said. And then, with trembling fingers, he untangled the beautiful ring he had picked out himself from the shoelace and slipped it on my finger. He kissed me then, and I pulled him to his feet so I could wrap my arms around him. I rested my head on his chest as we held each other and gazed across the river. I was scared down to my toes, as I always am at crossroads in my life, but I felt a sense of wonder at the commitment I had just made and the miracle of true love reciprocated. I felt like everything in my life--all the choices I had made and courses I had taken--had culminated in this eclipsing moment.

A few minutes later, just as a couple of cars pulled into the parking lot, we turned to leave. As we crossed under the arch, we asked a woman to take our picture. I wanted to announce to all the new arrivals that we had just gotten engaged, but I restrained myself--anyway, I felt like they'd have been blind to not see the neon sign blazing on my left hand. (We got engaged right about where Orange Shirt is standing.)

We hit another mission or two, and then, again somewhat randomly, found this small waterfall on our drive home. We pulled over and took some pictures. A month or so later, we returned to this spot for our engagement photo shoot.

In transcribing all of this at last, I feel like parts are missing and that I haven't done it justice. I've included a few pictures in this post; for more, click here. I can say, though, that it was a beautiful, exciting day.

And that today, one year later, I would say yes again in a heartbeat.