Happiest Time of the Year Means Time For a Giveaway!

The happiest time of the year is among us, and I wanted to celebrate and show my appreciation for you. I was doing some Christmas shopping over the weekend and I had a great thought. I have shared so much of myself here on this blog over the past several months which has been amazing for me, so I wanted to share some happiness with you!

If you’ve been stopping by this little blog at all for the past few months, you know that I’m a big believer in following your dreams, and I really think that anything is possible. That is why I am so proud of my beautiful mother for starting her own soap business this year. She found something that she loves to do, she made a plan, and she took a risk. I’m extremely happy that she did, because I have probably never smelled better than I do now. This home will never be without a stack of ridiculously delicious soap.

And now, one lucky reader will also get the opportunity to smell magnificent over the holidays because I am giving away a stack of four Soap It Up, Gourmet Soaps By Di! I’m warning you though, you will most definitely want to eat the soap they smell that good. I would probably advise against it, even though they are homemade. Yes, homemade! The soaps make excellent stocking stuffers or little gifts, but you’ll probably want to keep them all to yourself!

There are three very easy ways to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment telling me what is making this the happiest time of the year for you!
  2. Like Soap It Up, Gourmet Soaps By Di on Facebook and leave a comment telling me  you did!
  3. Purchase a Soap It Up soap online (here) and leave a comment telling me you did…(and tell me which scents you picked because I want to know because I love them ALL!) Leave a comment for each soap you purchase!

You have until the end of Wednesday to enter (you must live in the United States…sorry!), and you must leave a comment for each entry. (I know that many of my family members like to read my blog, and I am really, really grateful for that. However, I know that my family also has easy access to these soaps and probably a stack at home already, so I’m excluding family members from this giveaway!)

Merry Christmas from My Pinky Toes and from Soap It Up!!! Thank you for being a part of my blogging journey so far!

ang

Weekend Recap

This weekend ended up being extremely successful, productive, and downright delightful!

I tried a new food (which I ended up loving!), I made a new food (smashing s’mores!), I got to see my family, I got to see all my friends, and I achieved one of my October goals! The only negative to the weekend is the fact the the Pretty Pretty Punters lost their first game to the Battling Bruisers, putting them in a tie for second place. I blame it on the Greenbay Packers. Catches by twelve different players…seriously? Why not just the three players I had? And Finley, why don’t you try not dropping so many passes.

Oh my goodness…where is this blog going?! When did My Pinky toes become a place to talk football and trash talk professional football players? I’m sorry Finley, but for real…try catching a few more, please…for me!

Now…back to where this post was supposed to be going…

Saturday morning I woke up nice and early to meet my running gals for a nice long run. I’m seriously in love with my running group right now…they helped my seven miles absolutely fly by! I really think a long run is the best way to start a weekend!

After my morning run I cleaned up and headed to town to make a visit to my mom and mamaw at their craft show, my sister, and then do some shopping! I have been dying to go shopping since my birthday back in August and I finally found some time to do so…and to make it even better, the shopping trip ended up being successful (more to come on that tomorrow!) After shopping it was time for some dinner club action!!!

(Left to right: Kellie, Heather, Casey-on top, Megan-on bottom, me, and Lauren)

The beautiful Lauren hosted Saturday’s dinner club and we had a bonfire! She made chili and chicken tortilla soup. I have never tried a tortilla soup before, but it smelled so good I knew I had to give it a try. After asking what all the ingredients were to make sure there’d be no surprises for me, I whipped myself up a bowl. It was delicious, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself for trying it! Thank you Lauren…I must get that recipe!

(Left to right: top row-Nate, Caleb, and Lance, bottom row-Brandon, JR, my hubs, and Seth)

As for my smashing s’mores (recipe from Jessica’s blog)…

…they were definitely a hit! I don’t have an after photo of them because they were all eaten!!! I managed to snag a couple for myself, and they were pretty darn good if I do say so myself! Make them…now!

We all had a great time catching up, meeting the new baby of the group, awing and googling over both babies of the group, eating, drinking, and of course, always laughing.

Oh, and for achieving one of my October goals…

…I tried something pumpkin flavored…pumpkin beer! Yummmm….!

How was your weekend?!

ang

Laugh in my Kitchen

This morning has been spent killing a few birds with one stone.

First of all I have practiced what life might be like when I have a child someday. No, I’m sorry, this “someday” is not going to be any day soon, but when I am a mother, I will be forced to be somewhat domesticated. This means that I might actually have cook for my family and occasionally vacuum the kitchen floor. Yes, I vacuum linoleum.

True story: I cut all my vegetables with a steak knife. In fact, I cut everything with a steak knife.

Oh dear, my  poor future little family.

Secondly, I have started the process of redeeming myself with my mother…and aunts and uncles…

Um, I think you get the picture.

However, don’t let me fool you. I am not being creative and making my own recipe here. That typically ends up as a failure that only the raccoons outside at night would enjoy. My husband now knows that he needs to have a plan B in mind if I ever decide to “get creative” with food, but he knows to talk some sense into me before I hit up the kitchen.

Thirdly, I have had the opportunity to talk to my mom on the phone this morning, which I know she appreciates more than she lets on, even if it was just to ask her how long to boil the chicken. (I have another question about her recipe, but she is not answering her phone!)

Fourth of all, I have learned that even though Tia adores carrots that does not mean she likes celery. And in fact, I have also learned her secret hiding place for the foods that I drop that she does not like…under the kitchen table on the dark rug where I cannot easily see it.

And last but not least, I have created what is going to be a delicious dinner for tonight. My family will be so proud!

I think it’s very fitting that I have decor that says “laugh” in my kitchen.

ang

 

My Proudest Moment, Marathon Recap

My alarm went off at 4:25am Saturday morning with Willow Smith exclaiming she whips her hair back and forth. It is kind of the best song to wake up to on race morning because, while it can be startling, it’s upbeat tempo and catchiness makes you want to get moving and dance right there in bed. I would like to be able to say that I went to bed early the night before and had a great night sleep, but sadly that wasn’t the case. I attempted to finally fall asleep around 2:00am, but when Willow woke me up I opened my eyes and wondered to myself if I had been sleeping or if I had just been laying there with my eyes closed. I wasn’t sure.

I had everything laid out from the night before, so getting ready was easy. I made sure that I was well prepared because most of my anxiety was centered around being late or not making it to the start in time and with everything that I needed. I popped two pieces of bread in the toaster, made cinnamon toast, and pretty soon my ride was there to pick my girlfriend and me up!

One of the neatest things about the whole day was the fact that eight of my friends were running in the marathon relay (they had two teams of four), so they were all there with me at some point in the day, if not the entire day! We all met up, loaded up the cars, and carpooled out to the start of the race.

We made it there in plenty of time, so I had about thirty minutes for all my nervousness of being late to convert to nervousness that I was actually going to run an entire marathon. Now I just wanted to race to start…I was ready to run!

Because the it is late August in the midwest and the temperature was expected to get up to the mid to high eighties, each runner had to carry some sort of hydration with them for the entirety of the race. At first I thought this was going to be such a burden because I have never run carrying anything (or wearing some sort of hydration pack), but they gave out free NorthFace water bottles with a hand strap. It was kind of the coolest thing ever. I grabbed my water bottle (which was dark gray, black, and PINK…how meant to be since it matched my race outfit and nail polish?!), and soon enough Dean Karnazes was giving his motivational speech to send the runners off!

Right out of the gate, after only a few tenths of a mile, the hills started. They were only small rolling hills, so I told myself not to get scared. I practiced running all the hills of my little town so I was ready to conquer these rolling hills. Hills are my friend! (If you say that over and over it will come true, right?!)  Also during the first few tenths of a mile a nice (very muscular) man commented on my headband and continued to tell me and another runner about a marathon in a different state that the last mile is sponsored my Mary Kay and they hand out red lipstick to all the runners. He said all the lady runners have beautiful finishing photos with perfect red lips. It sounded quite intriguing!

Little did I know I was talking to Dean Karnazes…the Dean Karnazes who was named one of the hundred most influential people in the world…the Dean Karnazes who ran fifty marathons in fifty states in fifty days. A.MAZ.ING.

Everyone told me not to go out too fast, and amazingly I followed that advice. I finished my first mile at nine minutes and fifty-two seconds. The hills were still trying to scare me a little bit, but the first few miles were flying by. After the first mile, I averaged between a 9:13 and 9:30 minute mile which I thought was great, but I feared I wouldn’t be able to maintain. At mile five I took my first delicious mocha Clif Shot, and between mile six and seven I passed the first relay transition and was cheered on by two of my friends!

I was seriously feeling great! A little bit after the transition area I fell into pace with another runner…an older man from Mississippi who was training for an ultramarathon. He had just got back from Australia where he had ran a marathon and was going to be running a marathon for the next three weekends in a row. He talked to me for quite some time and really helped the time fly by. Before I knew it, I realized I was running just under nine minute miles with him by my side! I am so sad that I never got his name, but I did find his picture in the race photos…

If you ever see this, 26.2 tattoo man, thank you for helping me so much in the beginning. Good luck with the rest of your races!

While running with him, we rounded a corner, and all of the sudden I hear this loud, high-pitched shrieking. “It’s her! THAT’S HER! AAAHHH! OH MY GOSH! THAT’S HER!” I turned my head to see what that familiar voice was and I saw my little sister jumping up and down yelling for me and cheering me on! It was seriously the best feeling in the world at that point, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for a few more miles. She drove along and cheered me on two more times before she had to go to work. Thank you sis. 🙂

Soon after I spotted my sister, I saw a pretty, hot pink sign up ahead. This time it was my mom and her hubby! As I waved and passed by them I saw tears in my moms eyes as she asked me if I was feeling okay. I told her I felt great, beamed, and continued on. Again…I probably wore a silly smile for the next few miles!

Now, do you remember those “rolling hills” I mentioned early on? Well, I failed to mention that they started getting bigger and bigger…around mile five or so. Pretty much the entire course was full of crazy, insane, mean, nasty hills (and that is putting it nicely). I lost my 26.2 tattoo guy on one of these hills, but I was still feeling great so I continued on at a pace that felt comfortable. I was definitely afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep up my pace, but I just thought as long as I felt good I would just keep going!

The whole course was very beautiful. In the beginning we ran through to Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and through some beautiful neighborhoods. Part of the time we were running through the tall buildings of downtown and by Crown Center. Around mile ten I passed a water station that was supplied with Gu, so I took one and continued on a cute, little bridge that ran up to the Missouri River. The river looked beautiful from the bridge, but as I looked ahead I noticed that the bridge did not go over the river. It just seemed to stop. That’s strange, I thought, how does this bridge go down then?

Stairs.

That’s right, stairs going down right smack in the middle of a marathon. Just what my legs needed, right?! Actually, it did feel somewhat nice going down…however, there were a few steps up again a few feet later. Interesting.

It was worth it though, because running along the Missouri River for quite some time was very beautiful, peaceful, and calming.

From studying the course elevations before race day, I knew that there would be a steady uphill from mile twelve through fifteen. So far I hadn’t noticed any uphill…in fact, as I was running alongside the river it felt like the most level, un-hilly part of the course so far.

Pretty soon I passed the second marathon relay transition area at the halfway point and saw two more of my girlfriends waiting for their leg of the race and cheering me on! I truly felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have so much support!

I could feel more of the steady uphill now and my pace had fallen slightly, but I still felt amazing and like nothing could stop me. Around mile fifteen I saw my little worried mom and her hubby again with their “Go Angela!” sign in hand. I had told my mom before the race that I was scared of this particular portion of the course because of the elevation, and it was huge to see her waiting there for me near the top. I smiled and tried to reassure her that I was doing just fine!

Miles fifteen through nineteen went through a very shady (thank goodness) and tree-filled place. There was also a pretty little waterfall that sprayed a little mist at me! The truth is I had no idea where I was, and there were a few times I felt alone and a little bit afraid. I didn’t see anyone ahead of me and the road was so curvy that I didn’t notice anyone behind me either. The road was sprayed painted with arrows every so often and at every turn, but I was afraid I would miss one and get lost! I remember praying to God one time just to keep showing me the arrows!

I remember being so excited when I knew my mileage was in single digits to the finish. Nine miles? Nine miles is easy! I took another mediocrely delicious mocha Clif Shot, and I finally felt for the first time I was certain I would be able to finish the race. I definitely didn’t expect to feel this wonderful this far into it! There was no way that I would let anything come between me and the finish line now that I’d made it so far! I kept telling myself just keep going.

I emerged from the woodsy area around mile eighteen or nineteen still feeling ridiculously okay. At one point I had convinced myself that my hot pink nail polish had special super powers that gave me energy. It might have been true. The shade was becoming less and less as the sun was getting higher, and at one point there was a voice behind me encouraged me to head toward the side of the road that provided a little bit of shade. I turned my head to see the 4:15 pacer trying to help me out by giving me tips. He caught up to me and tried to give me some motivation. He said he’d be maintaining a 9.30 pace and that I could try to stay with him if I wanted to. He provided little tidbits of advice: relax your arms, take it easy up the hills, we’ll make in up on the downhills, loosen up your legs. He offered his extra Gu to me and ultimately he kept me from slowing way down once I was beginning to reach my limit. Again, I wish I had known his name and told him thank you again because he helped me so much for those few miles around twenty…

Thank you so much 4:15 pacer man! 🙂

Right before the water station at mile twenty my hope was again reignited when I saw the most handsome six foot eight inches topped with sweet curly hair standing at the top of a hill! The hubby’s proud smiling face put another goofy smile on my own face. He came prepared with more mocha gu (which I dreaded the thought of consuming at that point) and some raspberry Clif Bites. I was so grateful to chew on the little gummies instead of forcing down anymore weird gooey stuff! I was so happy that he was there, and that moment became even more magnificent as I passed through the third and last relay transition area, saw two more of my girlfriends cheering me on, then turned the corner to see my mom and her hubby one last time before the finish!

Did I mention that I am the luckiest girl in the world to have had so much support?!

I remained with my 4:15 pacer man for about another mile, but as awesome as I was feeling, I was beginning to feel the fatigue set in. He assured me that he was running with a four to five minute cushion, but pretty soon I couldn’t keep up a 9.30 pace anymore. I just kept reminding myself how close I was to the finish and to just keep going. I would be happy with simply finishing…I never expected to finish in 4:15 anyway! I was still feeling on top of the world!

Then mile twenty-three happened.

Remember those hills? Let me prove it to you!

Mile twenty-three was sometime 3:30 and 3:50. Do you see those elevation lines that go straight up? I mean straight up!

As I was already feeling quite a bit tired, I faced the biggest hill of the entire course…and it was big…never ending…ginormous…horrendous…and it was about three quarters of a mile…straight up! As I approached it I told myself out loud, “Angela, you can do this. Just keep going. You can do this. You can do this.”

The hill curved around and then I saw another Heaven sent gift standing with bad knees and a hawaiian shirt. It was the first time I had seen my dad on the course and he started running with my as soon as I reached him (for his knees’ sake it was a good thing that hill completely slaughtered my pace). I honestly don’t know that I could have made it up that hill without stopping to walk without him by my side.

I was finally to the point where I just wanted to finish. I was completely proud of myself and completely ready for the marathon to be over. I kept counting down in my head…thirty more minutes, you can do it…twenty more minutes, you can do it!

My sweet hubs was there every mile to the finish. He would refill my water bottle and tell me how much further I had to go. He was amazing there helping me get to the finish. He was carrying my phone for me, and I found out later that he did this…

Seriously. Can I get any luckier?

There were so many lovely police officers and volunteers along the entire course directing and stopping traffic to help all the runners. Near the end there was a lady cop who told me I was near the finish. She also said, “Your sister is going to be so proud!” She had seen my sister at the beginning of the race cheering for me, and that pushed me even more to just get to that finish!

Ten more minutes…seven more minutes…five more minutes…four more minutes…

I finally saw the street to turn on to get to the finish line and I was filled with so much excitement. I started to choke up but immediately made myself stop because I couldn’t breathe and I still had a few tenths to go. I saw my dad and he ran with me right up until the finish chute.

I finally left the knot in my throat take over and started crying as heard my mom and dad and Matt and girlfriends’ voices as I crossed the finish line after four hours, fourteen minutes, and thirty-one seconds.

I have never felt more proud of myself in my entire life. You really can do anything you set your mind to.

The icing on the cake? I finished 4th out of 13 in my age group, 8th out of 33 women, and 34th out of 92 marathon runners.

The giant pink frosting flowers on the cake? I had so many people who love me that supported me in so many ways throughout this entire process and through the entire race. I couldn’t have done it…any of it…without all this love in my life.

Thank you to everyone.

ang

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

Did you know I ran in a race last weekend?

Yep, that’s right. I ran a 5K! It was supposed to be the competition between my husband and me, but we decided a few days before just to run it for fun…especially since there were over 30,000 people registered for the race!

We woke up very early, loaded up the car, and headed toward Kansas City! We stopped to pick up our friends and made it to the race sight just in time to scavenger to find a bathroom and make it to the race start. I was so worried about making it there in time, especially with so many people, but of course I had to stop and have our picture taken!

He loves me!

This race was very special to me because my mother battled breast cancer eleven years ago, and I thank God every day that she kicked it’s booty!

Somehow we made it near the front of the pack before the race started, and before we knew it we were off! It was the perfect weather for a race, especially considering the fact that it’s mid-August! Running through downtown was absolutely beautiful and it got me really excited to be running my marathon through the sames streets. There were bands on every corner, and there were several times I wanted to stop and start dancing! (The other racers probably wouldn’t have appreciated that!)

I was feeling amazing as the tenths of miles just kept passing by.  There were a few times the hubs told me to go on ahead of him, but all the fun of this race was running with him! After twenty-seven minutes and thirty-one seconds we crossed the finish line together, and he officially finished his very first 5K race! (I’m working on getting him to run a half mary now! Ha, wish me luck!)

Go Matty! (He probably wouldn’t be too happy I posted this picture! 🙂 Good thing he doesn’t read this!)

After we finished we headed back to watch all the thousands of people cross through the finish line, and especially to find these three people…

…Rob, my momma, and my sister! They all did the 5K also!

I am so proud of all of them for participating and completing the race! My mom looked especially ravishing sporting her special Susan G. Komen survivor t-shirt!

It was truly a special event…at the finish volunteers handed out a pink rose to all of the survivors…and let me tell you, there were tons of ladies in pretty pink survivor shirts throughout the entire race.

It was just so good to see so many people of all ages, races, sex, ability, ect. coming together for an amazing cause. It truly strengthens one’s hope in humanity. So inspiring!

And again, more so than running the race with the goal of setting a new personal record, I was just so excited to get to experience this with my husband by my side and with my family there, too! I am so proud!

The hubs and I still will compete in a 5K, we are just going to pick a later date and hopefully a little bit smaller race! I think he’s a little more nervous now, though!

ang

People Need People

(From The Girls From Ames, a note from Kelly to Angela)

As I finished reading Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Girls From Ames, I couldn’t help but keep thinking the same thing…

People need people.

It’s a simple concept really, but I don’t think that people rely on each other enough. I could be biased, though. I know that I am so unbelievably lucky to have all the people and support in my life that I do. My husband, my dog, my mom, my dad, my sister, all my girlfriends, guy friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, Mamaw…Lord knows that I’ve used each and every one of them to fall back on time and again. My hearts hurts for those people who may feel like they are alone. If you feel that way, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I am here for you! It doesn’t matter if you have just one person or ten people like the Ames girls…we need each other.

Reading about Kelly and Angela’s journey and struggles with breast cancer was very eye opening for me. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a freshman in high school. I think I was a freshman. I remember when she told my sister and me that I felt sad, but I the thought never crossed my mind that I’d ever be without her. It’s strange how somehow I just knew she’d be okay. I feel bad though, now looking back, that I was so caught up in my own life that I wasn’t a big support for her. I mean, I can’t even really remember what grade I was in. I know by just being her daughter that gave her something to live for, but what I mean is that I wasn’t there for her to cry to or to vent to or just to be whatever she needed to be. I just didn’t know back then that she needed that or how to be it. Just like the Ames girls, as I’ve grown older I realize I may do things different now. Different situations throughout your life make you stronger, more ready.

My mom had many, many, many (and still does) people looking out for her and praying for her. See…people need people. And luckily, she kicked cancer’s booty and will be walking this weekend in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure! Go momma!

As Kelly mentioned that her friends, sisters, are there to catch her if she stumbles, “catching” someone can have so many different meanings. Sometimes it means lending an ear to someone…sometimes it means giving advice…sometimes it means throwing a party for someone…sometimes it means providing the bottle of wine to share…but whatever the case, the same things rings true…

…people need people.

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for me finding the Operation Beautiful note in the bathroom at my gym. I needed that person to put that there. I know I wouldn’t be so happy and in love if it weren’t for my husband. I needed him. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have the guts to say what I need to say sometimes if it weren’t for my little sister showing me it’s okay. I needed her…

…and I still do, and I always will.

It’s just so true. We just need each other.

Thank you to my dear friend Casey for giving me the idea of starting a book club through my blog, and thank you to all my friends and family for reading this book with me and commenting when you were able. Thank you for bearing with me as I skipped weeks, slacked on reading a little, and took three months to finish one book! Thank you Zaslow and the girls from Ames for sharing this story and helping me to open my eyes to so many different things. I needed you all!

And so we have it…we’ve shared our final book club blog post on The Girls From Ames…our final cup of coffee together.

ang

 

 

Three Girls and a Plumber

The hubby is away this weekend. While I hate being away from him for any amount of time, his overwhelming excitement for a weekend full of camping in 100 degree weather, sharing a tent with three other guys, and attempting for the second time to make gravy on a barbeque grill, I can’t help but be excited for him too! (Should I also add that he grew out his beard so that he’d be able to sport a “Keith Stone” mustache and soul patch for the weekend? Maybe not!)

Instead of sulking around my house by myself, talking to Tia like she has a vocabulary that is larger than “treat,” “hungry,” “outside,” “go poddy,” “go poopoop,” “ball,” and “I love you little Tititititititititititiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii,” I decided it’d be the perfect time for a girls night with my madre and sister…

…and mom’s hubby, the plumber!

And in case you didn’t know, if it weren’t for me and my sister, this marriage may not have even happened. Why? Well, let’s go back in time…

Uh oh. The basement drain is backing up (for reasons only left to your imagination…three girls, one house), and my sister and I don’t know what to do! We call mom at work…she calls a plumber.

Well, she doesn’t want to leave two girls at home alone with a strange plumber man in the house, so she comes home on her lunch break. Mom walks in, comes to Maggie and me and says, “Man, that plumber is cute!”

Mom decides he’s safe, goes back to work, and leaves Maggie and me at the house alone…with two wild imaginations, some brains, some brawn, and one crazy idea.

“Maggie,” I say, “Go give him mom’s phone number!”

Maggie replies, “NO! I can’t do that!”

“But Maggie, what if he’s the one?!”

Seriously. Valid question.

The plan: I write down mom’s phone number on a piece of paper. Maggie brings a glass of water downstairs to offer to the strange, but cute, plumber man. She asks if he’s single…then when he replies yes, she gives him mom’s phone number…and well, the water, too!

And the rest?

History!

Fate? Or the work of two genius, smart, beautiful, caring, loving, grateful daughters?!

I say both! 🙂

ang

A Life Too Blessed For One Girl

This week’s chapter, Coorporation and Appreciation, from The Girls From Ames was a lot about family, and family is so utterly important to me. I am so grateful to have grown up in such a loving home and to have such amazing relationship with my mom…

…like Jane, I can imagine her saying, “I want them (my kids) to become happy, fulfilled women who feel a sense of pride in themselves.” Her happiness and pride for Maggie and me was/is contagious, and she has always made us feel like the two smartest, most beautiful girls in the world. She has a humble smile and a spark in her eyes when she looks at us. I think she can look at us and know she’s done a wonderful job raising us. I hope she knows.

Because I’m not a mom yet, I cannot give myself a grade on motherhood like the girls from Ames did in this chapter. I’ve always been somewhat of a perfectionist, and I rarely accept anything less than an A. I know, though, that when the time comes and I have the opportunity to be a mom, if I put in just half the love, caring, determination, dedication, and hard work that my mom put in, an A will be a walk in the park. When I look back and think of everything she did for my sister and I, I almost can’t believe it. A+ for you mom.

I have a beautiful relationship with my dad…

…as mentioned in the book, studies show that most men would prefer to have sons. I know my husband has dreams of raising boys and coaching them to become  team of elite, professional athletes (which is why I’m pretty sure we’ll be having all girls!). However, I think for my dad it was different. I don’t actually know, because I never asked him if he ever wanted to have a son, but the way he interacts with Maggie and me made me believe that God meant for him to have girls. I think from the second I was born he fell completely head over heels.

Like the girls’ husbands and daughters, I think my dad and I also bonded a lot through activities. I can remember when I was younger (and had dreams of playing in the WNBA…true story) my dad and I would play game after game of one on one basketball in the driveway. He made me feel like I was really good by letting me beat him over and over. Thanks pops.

And then there’s my sister…

…she is my best friend.

When we were little, though, I kind of considered her a bully! I mean, she hit me with barbies, made my nose bleed, and threw spoons at my friends! She was always grounded for doing something bad, while I was a perfectly-behaving princess. 🙂

As we have grown a little bit older, we have also grown so much closer. I think Jane wishes are right on when she says, “…and most importantly, I want them (her daughters) to really love each other. I always say to them, ‘Friends come and go, but you always have your sister.'” As I’ve come and gone through different stages of my life, my group of friends have always come and gone, as well. I will admit that a lot of that is my own fault, just not staying in touch well enough. But through everything, my sister has been there. Everything.

We don’t talk or see each other quite enough for our liking, but when we do get that quality time, we can stay up for hours on end just talking. I think we “get” each other in a way that many people just don’t understand.

Now those were just the people who were put in my life without a choice! You all probably get tired of reading about it, but I still cannot truly put into words how lucky I am to have found the perfect person to spend the rest of my life with and someday start a family with.

Like the girls, I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to make a marriage last forever. I like all their line of questioning…”How does he make me feel about myself…how attentive he is…the quality of life he brings to my family.”

Well, he tells me how smart and pretty I am about a million times a day, he still gives me butterflies when I see him, and I am always ecstatic when he comes home…so I’d say I caught a good one! 😉

And as always with The Girls From Ames, this chapter placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of friendship.

I mentioned earlier how my friends have always come and gone throughout my life. I truly believe now that I am in a place where my friends now are friends for life. These beautiful girls are always there for me, waiting to lift me up, give me hope, make me laugh, or just make me feel awesome in general! I have also had the opportunity recently, living in a new town, to make new friends…something I’ve always been somewhat afraid of.

Also mentioned in the chapter is an organization called “Girlfriends For Life,” an organization that emphasizes how important women’s relationships are in times of depression or crisis. I think they put it just right when they say,

“Sometimes the only think keeping a woman from falling over is the girlfriend right beside her.”

Thanks Zaslow and the girls from Ames for another delightful week of reading, and reminding me how important everyone is in my life.

I live a life too blessed for one girl.

ang

“Honey, Are You Crying?”

That’s what Matt asked me last night as I was reading this weeks chapters from The Girls From Ames.

“No,” I replied as a wiped the tears and snot on the sleeve of my oversized night shirt.

“Yes you are. Why are you crying?”

“It’s just so sad!”

This weeks reading made me think a lot about my beautiful Wish Kid Gabi. And it made me think about her gorgeous mom…and her dad and all three of her adorable sisters. I’ve only met them all a handful of times, but they all have an amazing, unmistakable presence about them. They all seem so positive, even with that evil cancer invading their lives. They all seem so grateful…grateful for Gabi’s good days, grateful for their good health, grateful for their blessings, but especially grateful for their families’, their friends’, and perfect strangers’ prayers for Gabi.

While I have had the opportunity to be a part of Gabi’s wish experience, I have thought  lot about what it would be like in her mother’s shoes. Then, reading the chapters Their First Child and Tears in the Ladies’ Room, I thought even more about being a mother. Maybe it’s because of my age, maybe it’s because many of my friends are having babies soon, or maybe I just have a bad case of baby fever, but I worry more now about something happening to my future children than something happening to me. I guess that’s just a mother’s instinct. If only I had a nickel for every time my mom said, “Just wait…when you have your own kids someday you’ll understand why I worry,” I’d be a rich girl right now.

So when I hear these stories of daughters being diagnosed with cancer, yes my prayers and thoughts go out to these girls, but my heart just breaks for these mothers. I’m sure the only thing they want to do is just take all the pain out of their child. Gosh, I want to take the pain out of their daughters so that they won’t have to feel that burden!

My heart goes out so much to Karla and to Gabi’s mother. I truly can only imagine their pain…and I’m sure that doesn’t even come close to the reality.

As for these two amazing girls, Gabi and Christie, their courage is outstanding and beyond admirable.

As Zaslow writes about Christie’s positive outlook, I can’t help but read in disbelief. How could she be going through so much, yet always find the silver lining. I was touched when I read one of her quotes from her Caring Bridge site, “Life is good, and you just need to take it day by day. Be thankful to see the sun rise and set each day.”

Honestly, there is probably not a better piece of advice in the world.

And then I think back to a quote from Gabi on her Caring Bridge site. Let me back up a bit and give you a small history on Gabi. She is a ten year old girl who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her leg earlier this year. After much consideration, Gabi and her family chose to have rotationplasty, a rare surgery to cut out the tumor and to give her the best chance to continue to do the things she loves (she’s a little dancer). This is not a small decision for a ten year old girl, and her mother was worried about her self esteem, how other children might take it, and how Gabi would feel about it in the future. Gabi’s reasoning (as quoted from her Caring Bridge site),

“That looks really weird, and it will probably take me a year to get used to it.  But at least I will be able to dance again.”

Courage.Out.Of.This.World.

So during times of my own trials and when I feel like I’m being tested, I will try to remind myself that life is good, and at least I can dance.

ang

Rest in peace Christie Rae Blackwood, and to all those who read this, please keep precious Gabi in your prayers during her recovery!

 

Book Club Post…Five Hundred and Thirteen Pages

Finally…book club is back (like, four years later)! And since nearly half a decade has passed since I have written about my girlies from Ames, I have four whole chapters to recap (yikes!) So, I’ve decided to do this post a little differently so that I don’t end up writing a nine-hundred and seventy-three page book report!

For each chapter, I will pick out my favorite quote, and then write about what that quote means to me…then you can do the same (if you want to)!

The Intervention

Studies suggest that the average girl today is likely to grow up to be a lifelong dieter, to have a distorted body image, and to be emotionally scarred by cliques.”

Poor Sally to have to go through that. It takes a very strong person to come out of such a devastating situation with so much forgiveness.

And, of course I’d pick this quote in this chapter. The most disturbing word here is “likely”…the average girl is likely. A couple paragraphs later this “likeliness” is referred to as a “national crisis”. A national crisis indeed!

When did we (girls, women, media, people) become so mean…so comparing…so judgmental?! I’m not saying I’m innocent either, although I like to think that I keep other peoples’ feelings in mind before I speak. But again, I’m not innocent. I catch myself making comments about people on television, about people I see in a store, about myself. Then I feel like a hypocrite for preaching about owning your beauty here on my blog.

However, I do think if we all (as in everyone in this world!) could make a conscious effort to change the way we talk about other people, change the way we talk to ourselves, and stop comparing ourselves to other people (easier said than done, I know), then we could change this “likeliness”.

I read a quote from Lolly on twitter today that read,

When you know who you are~you are more accepting of others.”

This sentence is so true. Live it…..and remember that you are deserving and beautiful and admirable…and you will see those traits in others, too!

FBB and Other Secrets

There were times when they felt humiliated or ashamed and kept it to themselves.”

I chose this quote because it is so me. I definitely find it hard to talk about the difficult things in life, and I’d rather people view me as a happy person! But I have learned to keeping up a happy face is not always possible…..and that’s okay! The funny thing about it is, whenever I actually have talked to someone about my problems, I always feel better afterward…then I can actually go back to being happy!

Defining Love

“‘I think we’re meant to truly love one person, to have a life partner.'” 

Okay…so I loved this chapter!!! (Of course this sappy, lovey-dovey chapter would be my favorite!) I feel like I can relate so much to Karla in this chapter. I feel incredibly lucky to have found my life partner…my soul mate…my one true love! I agree with Karla in that I believe God put two people in this world who are just meant for each other!

And I can partly agree with Kelly. I don’t necessarily agree that a person should have a new love with every stage of their life. But, witnessing my mother get married last year to a man that is not my dad has made me believe that it is possible to love more than once in a lifetime. I know that my parents loved each other, and without that love, my sister and I wouldn’t be here. But I also know that after so long, my parents were not right for each other. Now my mom is happy in love again (and I’m working on my dad…anyone know any lovely, single 40-50 year olds?! Hehe!)

And although I don’t have children yet, I admire Karla’s love for her daughter, too. I believe when I am a mother I will feel that same way. I also loved the quote in this chapter, “The girls watched her snuggle with her baby, partly envying her and partly wondering about the ways in which loving feelings would swell inside them when their time came to be mothers.” I feel the same way when I watch other people with their babies, and I just cannot wait to be a mother someday!

“If Not for You”

Women need other women.Dare I say…sometimes women just understand better than men. I adore my husband, and I will always tell him everything, but I will always need some lovely lady to rely on. I’ve always had my mom and sister there for me if I ever needed anything, and now I feel like I have a strong core of girlfriends that are always there for me, as well. I know that my mom feels a lot of the time that I am grown up and don’t need her anymore…but mom, I will always need you. (And you too, Maggie, and all my girlies!) Always.

Sorry…this did end up pretty close to a five hundred and thirteen page book report! What were your favorite quotes of these chapters? If you aren’t that far, or just aren’t reading the book, what do these quotes mean to you?

ang