lower expectations, part 1



Dirty Chevron by by Matthew Taylor Wilson



Dirty Chevron by by Matthew Taylor Wilson

Marriage and the adoption process have slowly made me more aware of the level to which I hold expectations. I just really need to lower expectations. At a conference I recently attended, the speaker said this:

Expectations are premeditated disappointments.

So true, so true. That has not left my mind.

Get this: Leading up to any non-routine social event, I am playing through the scenarios in my mind. Who will be there, who I’ll talk with, what I’ll say, how enjoyable or not enjoyable it will be, how delicious or not delicious the food will be, and whether or not I’ll regret attending.

Then, the whole time I’m there, I’m comparing reality with my expectations. And after I get home, I’m playing through who should have been there, who I should have talked with, what I should have said, and whether or not I’ll go to a similar event again.

It’s killer. Not only are these thoughts and scenarios a waste of my time, but they set me up to be checked out the whole time and disappointed each step of the way. I set my expectations so high for beautiful settings and thought-provoking conversation and James Beard-worthy food. Possibly exaggerating, but even the expectations I set to have really good conversation and eat really good food are sometimes a letdown. 

I’ve gotten the tiniest bit better at just saying to myself, Okay, let’s go to this. I won’t play through scenarios. I’m just going to show up and give my best attempt to enjoy myself. 

Late in dating and early in marriage, Dan and I — no, probably just I — struggled with expectations in one certain area of our relationship. I’ll share that in part two. And throughout our adoption process, I have learned a lot about expectations for right now and for after T+E are here. I’ll share that in part three.

Fun? Maybe? Not really? Whatever it is, I hope this is encouraging and eye-opening for you. 

one month later


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One month ago yesterday I had brain surgery to remove a meningioma (brain tumor).  I have felt 100% normal for about the past two weeks. And I have felt so fortunate and so loved throughout the entire experience.

I had an appointment on Friday with a “radiation therapist.” The surgeon recommended it to be safe and to lean on this other doctor’s expertise.

I have to be honest: The anxiety crept in big time as I waited for the appointment. I didn’t want to accept that I wasn’t home free. I asked Dan over and over again why I would have to go to this appointment, even if it was “just to be safe.” Those nervous feelings about stepping foot into the hospital aren’t gone. God’s still working, I guess.

I was nervous even to tell the doctor I’d experienced a few headaches in the past month, certain it meant radiology was a must. I was so relieved when he told me that even with the elevated rate of duplication the tumor cells exhibited, he did not feel radiation was at all necessary. And I almost hugged him when he told me he didn’t think we needed to nervously wait and see what would happen. He said he expected the tumor would never come back!

I‘ll go back for MRIs every three months for the first year. And a little less often — but still often — for several years after that. My brain will never look normal or symmetrical again. Even as a non-medical person, I could see significant difference on the post-surgery MRI images. This first follow-up MRI in June will act as a standard to which to compare all MRIs after.

Yesterday was wonderful, and I didn’t even realize I was at the one-month mark until after noon. I think I’m a little tired of thinking about brain tumors.

week in photos: 4.6.14



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A sweet friend from our St. Louis church (and wonderful illustrator!) sent me some of her headscarves, along with this letter and portrait. 



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It’s warm, and we need some life on our front porch and in our backyard. These three guys were purchased. I don’t know much about plants, but I do understand the rule of thirds.



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With the warmth (and some time off for Dan), we’ve taken more frequent walks. Oscar comes home tired and finds strange sleeping positions.



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Through Instagram, I volunteered Dan and I to model for a photographer from Louisville in a nearby town for a few days. It was great to get spiffied up to have her document our 2.5-year marriage. Photos to come!

stories tend to follow



Watercolor Series 301 limited edition print by Petite Papier


Watercolor Series 301 limited edition print by Petite Papier

When one begins to make claims about life and its storyness, one should be careful. Stories tend to follow, and stories involve unpleasantness. God calls bluffs, and makes narrative hypocrites of us all.

[from Death By Living, N.D. Wilson]

Found in this well-worth-a-read post from our wedding photographer.

Disclosure: Affiliate link used

my Stitch Fix clothes and prices

I’m not a Stitch Fix “regular” like many I know. I don’t need the service they offer at this point in my life. But it is so stinkin’ fun to get a surprise box of clothes and accessories. I got a little note in my box that my stylist had definitely look at my Pinterest clothing board this time, and I appreciate that!

I’m including pictures of myself in my Stitch Fix clothes and prices this time. I think, unfortunately, Stitch Fix is not feasible for some women because of the prices. And seriously, some people are just really, really good at bargain shopping.


Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Pomelo Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress, $68



Pomelo Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress, $68

I loved this dress! I initially told Dan I was keeping it, then I glanced in my closet and saw two very similar dresses. And I have mixed feelings on chevrons. I’m tired of them, but these really were a new take on chevrons. This is one of my favorite colors, so that was a huge bonus in my book. Also, though not pictured, the length was perfect — hitting right above my knee. It just came down to this dress not adding anything new to my wardrobe and being a little above what I felt comfortable spending on it. 



Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Under Skies Grayson V-Neck Pointelle Knit Sweater, $58



Under Skies Grayson V-Neck Pointelle Knit Sweater, $58

I also loved this sweater! It’s super lightweight, and the material is soft and seemingly high quality. I think it will work well for most seasons! I have so much gray in my wardrobe, and I don’t hate it. Gray makes it so easy to pair accessories of many colors. I plan to try it with different colored tanks with different width straps underneath. Though kind of wrinkly in the picture, I like how this fits. Keeping it! (Hello and thank you, store credit.) 



Stitch Fix clothes and prices: Pomelo Lydia Faceted Stones Long Necklace, $36



Pomelo Lydia Faceted Stones Long Necklace, $36

And this necklace. I was okay with it, but not crazy about it. Similar to the wrap dress, I already have several pieces like this in my closet. And goodness knows I don’t wear those often enough to justify getting another. I have been loving purple lately, so that was a nice choice by the stylist.



Stitch Fix clothes and prices: 41Hawthorn Berkeley Lightweight Aztec Print Infinity Scarf, $32



41Hawthorn Berkeley Lightweight Aztec Print Infinity Scarf, $32

Pretty, isn’t it? I have been drawn to Aztec prints lately, so I was happy to get to try this! It’s also lightweight and appropriate for spring and summer. Because of its lightweight nature, I again doubted that the quality was worth the price. It seems with a little looking I could find something really similar for quite a bit less. (I don’t know who this money-saver is. She has only appeared since marrying Dan!) I sent it back, but I’m still a tiny bit sad about it.



Stitch Fix clothes and prices: TCEC Roxanna Chevron Open Knit Cardigan, $58



TCEC Roxanna Chevron Open Knit Cardigan, $58

This was my least favorite. So bold, but also kind of grandpa-looking. I love this shade of blue, but I don’t care for the off-white/taupe color at all. I also really love cardigans, so this was not too far off. It has a chunky open weave, which I don’t have in my closet. It was a little too bulky, though, especially as the temperatures start to warm up. I sent it back without too much hesitation.

So, I kept one thing and sent back four. My reasons were mostly around duplicating pieces I already own and not being able to justify spending what some of it cost. That being said, my boxes are getting very close to things I actually like! I’ve also noticed that the wait times for a “fix” have decreased, and the range of sizes carried has increased. These are things I had previously disliked about Stitch Fix.

And I don’t remember getting this before… A little note and photos of how to style my items. I appreciated it!


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I still have some store credit, so I’ll be back, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a monthly fix kind of girl.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? Would you like to?

Disclosure: Referral links used

five ideas for successfully working from home


5 ideas for successfully working from hoome


I threw up my hands in defeat and searched out a flexible part-time job in October. (I thought T + E would be here in May or so, and I wanted to stay home with them. They weren’t home. And they still aren’t.)

I was really happy to learn my position could be done mostly from home. And my supervisor recommended I come into the office as little as possible? Well, okay! Then I was given my first assignments. And I got nervous.

I love jumping from task to task. I love doing lots of little things for a short amount of time as opposed to one big project all day long. It was fairly easy to focus in an office staring at a wall. It was harder to focus at home looking out the window. 

I asked other work-from-home friends for advice, and I’ve picked up a few things along the way. It’s April now, so go ahead and calculate… Yes, it took me about six months to hit my stride. So hang in there! Here are five ideas for successfully working from home. 

1. Schedule the time you intend to work. Though my day is fairly fluid, it generally looks the same. Exercise, errands, and lunch in the morning. Work in the afternoon until my husband gets home. This changes depending on the amount of work I have, of course. I set a mental goal to sit down at my desk by a certain time each day. By doing this, I don’t find myself starting projects or going places I hadn’t planned.

2. Play non-distracting music. I have always listened to music when I wrote in college, and it’s carried over to writing for work. I didn’t feel comfortable playing music when I worked in an office, and I missed it terribly. I really do believe it helps my focus. But the trick is to choose music that’s not distracting. So, for me, no to One Direction and yes to instrumental music. (A post with my recommendations is to come!) Keep yourself from constantly changing the song on whatever player — iTunes, Pandora, Spotify — you choose.

3. Drink lots of water. I drink water, because otherwise I’d be snacking. But really, water increases your energy, reduces your tiredness, prevents headaches, and keeps off hunger. I’ve been prone to all of these when working. Staying hydrated has truly helped.

4. Use Toggl. I’m an hourly employee now, as opposed to salaried, so the time sheet is my friend. My agency requires me to record when I started working each day and when I stopped, taking note of the “breaks” I took. I had scraps of paper with times all over my desk until a friend told me about Toggl, a free mobile and/or desktop stopwatch to track your hours and clients. I’ve only started using it this month, and it’s been great!

5. Buy attractive, appropriate home office supplies. I enjoy my work more if I have pretty things to use. And I work longer if I have the supplies I need. Target’s one dollar section is key for this, since no one is giving me money to buy office supplies. I’ve found myself using page flags, sticky notes, a stapler, white out, notepads, a notebook, file folders, and highlighters most often. My page flags, sticky notes, notepads, notebooks, and file folders are all from the one dollar section!

Now, what ideas to you have to share? I think I still have a ways to go before I’m ultra productive!

Disclosure: Affiliate links used

mother-daughter brain tumors

Exactly two weeks after my surgery, my dad called me. “You’re not going to believe this. Are you sitting down?” he asked. 

That morning, my mom had woken up to balance and vision problems worse than she had experienced. With the increased headaches she had been having in mind, she told my dad she needed to go to the ER.

After several tests — all the same tests that were run on me — the doctors told her they believed she had a brain tumor. And they believed it was a meningioma — a usually-benign tumor growing from the lining of the brain. Just like mine, but in a different location.


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I’m not sure I was really so shocked. It quickly made sense to me that God would give me Dan to walk me through my experience and my experience (and my dad) to comfort my mom as she walked through hers.

He knows what we can handle, and He does not give us more. He knows what we need, and He does not give us less. 

My mom’s treatment took a bit of a different path. My hometown is small, so she was transferred to a larger hospital for evaluation and admitted overnight. She was discharged for several days to go home, rest, and attend a few appointments with doctors. Due to the location of her tumor and a few other factors, her surgery was to be slightly more complicated than mine. 

She had surgery on Thursday morning. I received updates from my dad throughout the day and posted updates for my mom’s friends to read. The doctors were able to remove 100% of her tumor! She does have some peripheral vision issues that have not yet resolved themselves, but we’re hopeful they will.

She skipped the ICU (jealous!) and improved quickly and steadily. She was discharged on Saturday, and I have to tell you: She’s doing better right now than I was at this point!

She is awesome, and I love her and respect her so much. Leading up to and now after her surgery, she has shared very openly about the existence of God and His goodness. She has reached out to others who have experienced more challenging health issues. She has sacrificed worldly possessions for those who will get more use out of them during her recovery time. She has called me, concerned about how I’m doing and when my next appointment is.

So, it’s been a weird few weeks. Really weird. Weird mixed with crazy mixed with surreal mixed with a little bit of scary. But not outside the realm of God’s sovereignty over our lives and bodies and health and surgery outcomes. 

I didn’t share this earlier, because I wanted to let my mom tell her story to friends and family as it was playing out. I’ve learned how therapeutic it is to share your own stories and receive direct encouragement from others!

April goals


April goals


January and February were great for goals. March? Not so much. But March was good in its own right.

I’m back at it this month. Here are my April goals:

+ Complete the four foster care home studies I’ve been assigned at work. I’ve been a little surprised by how difficult it has been to get back into the swing of meeting families, collecting their paperwork, and quickly — but thoroughly — completing their home study. My supervisor would like me to get these finished by the end of the month, and I would like that, too.

+ Finish at least two books. I’m at the beginnings of two books right now — Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew and One More Thing. I’d like to finish these two and possibly make some headway on a third yet-to-be-decided book.

+ Burn at least 500 calories at least five times a week. Two weeks without exercise sent me into a bit of a slump. It’s been hard to get back to it, but it starts today, and I’m determined. The weather is getting warmer and our dog is feeling neglected, so I might combo up some Y workouts with dog walks. What also starts today? The Jillian Michaels Diet Bet challenge Dan and I join.

+ Track my calories at least five days throughout the month. Valentine’s Day, birthdays, vacation, brain surgery recovery. These were huge challenges in the healthy eating department, and I’m not feeling stellar about how I did. Though I’m not beating myself up over it, either. To help calibrate again, I’d like to track calories using My Fitness Pal for just five days. I don’t believe calorie counting will be a long-term, sustainable thing for me, so that’s why it’s not a daily goal.

What are you goals for April?

Linking up with The Tiny Twig!

Disclosure: Affiliate links used.

Louisville city guide

We were so pleasantly surprised by Louisville. I had never been there or thought about visiting, and Dan had only been when he was a child. We chose it out of convenience — driving distance — and we’ve been talking about returning ever since our visit. 

Here’s my Louisville city guide!


Louisville city guide


Eat
Mayan Cafe: An upscale South American restaurant. Reservations are certainly recommended, and I’m not sure you can go wrong with anything on the menu. It’s the sort of place you go and order without fully understanding what you’re ordering but believing it will be amazing. I got the cochinita pibil, and it was fantastic.


Mayan Cafe in Louisville


Sunergos Coffee: Delicious, unique coffee spot. The decor isn’t the cutest I’ve ever seen, but it does seem like a place you could sit for a while. There’s a bit of outdoor seating at the location we visited.

The Holy Grale: Bar and restaurant in an old church. We went here for the atmosphere and were pleasantly surprised by the food and drinks. We ordered the pretzel with beer cheese, fritjes, and grilled cheese with apples. (I don’t see that on the menu right now, but I think they’re always changing it!)

Do
21c Museum Hotel: An art-filled hotel. We didn’t stay here, but the hotel had no problem with us wandering around the art spaces. Art can be found in the lobby, downstairs galleries, and some hallways. It was all contemporary paintings, photography, and sculptures. The hotel has great reviews, if you can afford to stay there. And we ran out of time, but the hotel restaurant, Proof on Main, was named one of Esquire magazine’s Best New Restaurants.


21c Museum Hotel in Louisville


Cherokee Park: A huge, beautiful park. We drove through once to see where we wanted to spend more time. We got out at a fountain and walked on some trails snaking through the woods. We used the geocaching app on our phones to find a few caches while hiking. We also saw a playground that would be great for families traveling with kids.

Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory: Worth it, even if you don’t love baseball. And I don’t love baseball. I do love factory tours. This one was fun, even for me! It’s very child-friendly but still interesting for adults. There’s a small museum with interactive exhibits at the end of the tour. We had no problems showing up and getting tickets for the very next tour.

Churchill Downs: Typical, but fun. Though I don’t love horse races, this was pretty interesting, as well. There are several tour length options, and we opted for the shorter (and cheaper) tour. There’s a fair amount of walking, so this wouldn’t be great for those with mobility challenges. Like the Louisville Slugger tour, there’s a museum with interactive exhibits to browse before or after the tour. Our favorite was a horse betting exhibit. My horse lost every time.


Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft


Stay
Airbnb has some lovely Louisville options, such as this and this.

Live in Louisville? Been to Louisville? What else do you recommend?







Disclosure: Affiliate links used. 

 

lists: places I want to go

Moorea Seal’s list project topic today was also the marriage challenge topic Dan and I discussed a few nights ago. It’s quite fresh on my mind, and it’s fun to think about.

I have always enjoyed traveling, and it’s become even more special since being married to Dan. I loved it with my family and friends, but sharing first-time adventures with Dan has been so much fun. I count it a true blessing to have been able to travel so much in my short life. I know that’s not an opportunity many people get.  



The Worldwide Web by HUNT GATHER



Places I Want to Go

+ T+E‘s birth country!
+ Ireland: urban and rural areas
+ Denmark: heard it’s really clean, and I’m partially Danish
+ Iceland
+ Puerto Rico
+ Charleston, South Carolina
+ The Hamptons: to stay at this beautiful Airbnb place!
+ Hawaii: I’ve been, but I want to go with Dan
+ South Korea: to visit my college roommate
+ Singapore
+ Eugene, OR
+ cabin on Lake Michigan
+ Grand Rapids, MI
+ Lisbon, Portugal
+ Santorini, Greece
+ New Zealand

Here are other lists I’ve written.