Monday, December 30, 2013

Farewell to 2013

2013. Oh, what a year it has been! From sorrows and tears, to joy and laughter. It's been one heck of a ride, that's for sure. Thankfully, the good times far outnumbered the bad this year. Some days were a bit challenging. But, hey, that's life! There's really no getting around that, even when a new year rolls in. All we can do is allow those difficult times to strengthen us and help mold us into stronger people.

I had every intention of sharing a review of my year, but opted not to. I would hate to sum up all that's happened in the last 12 months, because there have been so many awesome moments. That post would have been a mile long! This year held many firsts for me, personally. Mostly little things, but a few big things as well. Whenever we plunged into 2013, I was mainly focused on simplifying our lives. I didn't expect to redirect my focus on a bigger problem area in my life — conquering my fears. And I did just that, with God's help. I felt Him with me every single step of the way.

From shooting my first gun to tackling my first job interview and landing a sweet position at Target. It's great to look back and know that I pushed myself to do the things I never thought I'd be doing. I feel like I found myself in 2013, as silly as that may sound. I have so much more confidence and I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. And that, my friends, is one of the best feelings I've ever experienced. You know what they say, "on the other side of fear lies freedom". If there's one piece of wisdom that I can take away from the entire year, that would be it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Cheer

Oh, Christmas. Your time has come and gone. In the blink of an eye, all the lights have faded and the sounds have died down. The hustle and bustle that once filled our December has come to a halt as we prepare for a new year.

Christmas Eve was spent at my Grandpa's house. My cousin, Kevin, roasted a pig (yes, a whole pig). It was a first for me. Before I was born, my family would do this every Christmas. Not quite sure why they stopped. I'm just glad that my Grandpa insisted we do it this year. Even though it was a bit awkward eating something that still had a face.

On Christmas morning, Garrett and I woke up super early. And by super, I mean 7:30. That's considered early in our household. After a cup of coffee and waiting for my mama to wake up, we exchanged gifts. I didn't ask for much, but I was blessed with a few things I had been wanting. Like a pair of stud earrings and some new country / worship CD's. I made brunch for the three of us and we watched a few Christmas movies as we ate.

Later that afternoon, we met up with my brother and his family at a Chinese buffet across town. Just think 'A Christmas Story', but unfortunately there were no Chinese men serenading us with 'fa ra ra ra ra'. It wasn't the best food in the world, but we tried to make the most of it. We spent a little time at my brother's house afterwards, opening gifts and reminiscing about Christmases past. It was nice, but it wasn't like it used to be.

The holidays are hard on all of us since my dad passed away last year. This was our second Christmas without having him with us. It's not the same and I know it never will be. I'm just thankful for the family members that I can still love on and wrap my arms around. I know I'll see my dad again one day, but not having him here continues to hurt.

 I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas this year

Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm ( 24 ) Now

It's official. I'm 24 now. I'm not sure if I should feel different. All I know is that I don't. I've changed a lot over the past 12 months though. And I can honestly say that I'm proud of the person I'm becoming. Only God knows what the next 12 months will hold, but I'm really excited to find out!

On Wednesday morning, G woke up early to fix breakfast for me. When I came downstairs and walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by a dozen roses, a plate of scrambled eggs + bacon and a fresh cup of coffee. He also had a very sweet birthday card waiting for me too. Such a nice gesture. Love that man of mine!

I will admit, I was a bit cranky when I woke up because of a phone call I had received from Target (sorry, babe). Long story short, there was some miscommunication and they forgot to take me off of the schedule, so I was still expected to come in. Eventually, they got it all straightened out and I did get the day off.

I was still trying to recuperate after being sick for nearly a week, so I didn't feel like doing anything extravagant. Time spent at home, lunch at Mellow Mushroom and a trip to my brother's house was all I needed. My sis-in-love cooked a nice dinner and we celebrated as a family. It was great. I'm all about low-key celebrations as I've never been into elaborate shindigs. It's just not my style and I absolutely hate being the center of attention.

All in all, I had a wonderful birthday. I was surrounded by the people I love most, I was blessed with some very thoughtful gifts and I ate yummy food all day without regretting it (haha). To me, it was nothing short of perfect.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

23 in Honor of 24

In a few hours time, I will say farewell to 23 and welcome 24 with open arms. Yes, folks. Tomorrow is my birthday (cue the confetti). It feels like I was just saying hello to 23 a few weeks ago. But, alas, I am here. Standing at the doorway of a new year of life. I've never been one to complain about getting older. In fact, I try my very best to embrace each and every birthday that rolls around. With age comes wisdom and I could sure use more of that! In honor of this quickly approaching day, I thought it would be suiting to share a few life lessons that I've learned.

  1. Life is better enjoyed at a leisurely pace.
  2. You shouldn't let the fear of failing hold you back.
  3. Every single event is a learning experience.
  4. You don't have to let your past define who you are today.
  5. Tough times don't last, but tough people do.
  6. Not all things in life go as planned and that's okay.
  7. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  8. Never compare your life to the lives of others.
  9. Don't save things for special occasions. Today is special.
  10. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  11. Give out forgiveness as freely as you have received it.
  12. The timing will never be as perfect as you want it to be.
  13. However good or bad a situation seems, it will change.
  14. Don't strive to be the best, strive to be your best.
  15. Uncertainty is caused by a lack of knowledge.
  16. You are always stronger than you think you are.
  17. Time is so much more valuable than money.
  18. Giving unsolicited advice to others is a waste of time.
  19. Love people past their flaws and weaknesses.
  20. Drink more water — it will make you feel better.
  21. Be nice, you never know what others are going through.
  22. Worrying is simply a misuse of your imagination.
  23. Good friends are worth their weight in gold.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Random Ramblings

I've been meaning to post about how life has been lately, or more so about how working at Target has been. Man, oh, man. Let's just say retail work is no joke and I've gained a ton of appreciation for those who are in that line of work. It certainly takes patience and dedication. It's a humbling job, that's for sure.

I hit my one month mark with Target a few days ago. I've learned so much within that month. It's been a challenge at times (I almost quit twice haha), but I try to remind myself that the whole experience will help me. I feel myself coming out of my shell a little more each time I'm there. And the people I work with rock! Seriously some of the sweetest people I've met. They have been so accepting, encouraging and helpful.

If there's one thing I've learned from retail work, it's that people are straight up savages when they shop. Haha. Really, though! Picking up after people tees me off, but that's what they're paying me to do. I just cannot believe some people. If you knock something off a rack (and know you did it), pick that junk up! And don't go behind me, unfolding everything I just took the time to neatly fold. Grrr. Drives me bonkers!

I lucked out on black Friday. My shift didn't start until 7:30am. By that time, all the crazy people were gone. The store was peaceful for the majority of the day. And Target was nice enough to provide breakfast and lunch for all of the employees, which was pretty sweet. All in all, it was nothing like I expected it would be *wheeew*.

I am sad that my time there is more than likely drawing to an end. I'll only be working there until January 14th. Unless, of course, they decide that they would like to keep me around. Even so, I'm not sure if I'd accept the offer. Once the new year rolls around, I'll be helping out with our family business more. We recently scored a new account that will give us 2-3x more work per month than we're used to. I'll just cross that bridge when I get there.

So, guys. In other news, I'll be 24 in 10 days. As I said on Twitter earlier, cue the MID-midlife crisis! Still trying to wrap my mind around that one. Didn't I just turn 23 a few weeks ago? No? Well, it seems that way. This year really flew by. I feel like I accomplished a lot this year, but there's a few things I didn't get to finish up. Oh, well. I'm excited about the new year and I'm looking forward to all that God has planned.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A Taste of Christmas

Our little tree went up last night. Now it's shinning bright in all its Christmasy glory. I used to hate fake trees. Up until last year, that is. Though, I must admit, it isn't as fun as picking out a tree and it certainly doesn't smell like pine (unless I spray it down with Febreze). It's just so easy to work with. No messy pine needles to sweep up, no watering it. Plus, our cats seem to leave it alone (they used to climb the real ones).

I tried two new recipes last night too! Kinda excited about that. I made cranberry orange pork in the crock-pot and baked my first apple pie from scratch. The pork was bangin', but I need to work on my pie baking skills. Just the crust, really. The recipe I was following called for lard (yuck), so I used butter instead. Well, it didn't turn out like I had hoped it would. But, the hubs liked it. So, there's that. I'm just glad I can scratch it off of my list now ;)

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Day of Thanks

Thanksgiving was filled with chilly weather, warm cups of coffee, delicious food and tons of laughter. I was planning on waking up super early to finish my cooking and baking, but that didn't happen (surprise, surprise). It was my first day off and I wanted to sleep in. My morning was kind of a blur. I watched bits and pieces of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade while rushing to finish everything up.

One broccoli casserole, two pumpkin pies and two dozen deviled eggs later, we were ready to head to my brother's house. It was finally cold enough to throw on a jacket and pull out my boots. I even tossed on a scarf (for like the first time, ever). I was so incredibly thankful to be surrounded by the people I love most. Before everyone filled their bellies, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for. Some were goofy, but others were heartwarming. It was nice to focus on our blessings instead of the hardships this life can bring.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Disney Vacation · The Parks

After checking into the lodge on Monday morning, the three of us headed to Magic Kingdom on the ferry. Once inside the gates, all of these memories came flooding back. We made our way down Main Street, reminiscing about times we'd been there in the past. Eagerly grabbing a map, I scoped out all of the rides that I wanted to revisit. There weren't as many people there as I thought there would be, so the waiting wasn't so bad.

Walking around a bit after riding a handful of rides, we all decided it was time to get lunch. Since Disney recently expanded Fantasyland, we wanted to try a new restaurant. Fashioned after the castle in Beauty and the Beast, Be Our Guest had been on the top of my list. The food was good, but the atmosphere was fantastic.

Growing tired, G suggested that we take the ferry back to the lodge for a couple of hours and then return to watch the fireworks before the park closed at 10. It couldn't have worked out better, really. The sun had set and the temperature dropped. We were able to quickly find a spot to stand for the show once we were back. I have to admit, the fireworks were my favorite part. Disney really knows how to put on a great show!

On Tuesday, we hung around the lodge for the majority of the day. Around 4, we took a bus over to Downtown Disney. I've been wanting to ride the Characters in Flight balloon for years, but it was always closed when we would visit. Thankfully, it wasn't too windy and we were finally able to ride it. After we were back on the ground, we had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and walked around for a little while. But there were so many people! We ended up leaving earlier than planned. I can't stand crowds! When we were back at the lodge, we got some hot cocoa and relaxed for the rest of the night. All in all, it was a nice little getaway :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Disney Vacation · The Resort

Last Monday, we packed up and headed to Orlando for a couple of days. As I mentioned on Twitter, I was a little too excited about going to Disney World again. I have only been about 10x in my life (far more than the average person, I know). What can I say? Living an hour and a half away from Mickey certainly has it's perks!

We only stayed for 2 nights, but it was fun while it lasted. My mama had been saving up money since last year so that we could stay at Disney's Wilderness Lodge together instead of booking a room at a regular hotel. We used to stay at the lodge almost every year after my 12th birthday. It became somewhat of a family tradition. I have to admit, being there this year brought back so many memories of my Dad. I really wish he could've joined us.

If you're ever visiting the Orlando area and have an opportunity to stay in one of the Disney resorts, I'd highly recommend staying at the Wilderness Lodge. Its rustic charm and tranquil ambiance will captivate you. Quaint little alcoves accompanied by toasty fireplaces and snug chairs are nestled into different areas of the lodge. And when Christmas rolls around, they really deck the halls. Wreaths and garland adorn the walls while a 60-foot Christmas tree takes center stage in the lobby. It's really a sight to see!

I was bummed when we checked in on Monday morning. I walked in hoping to see that giant tree, glistening in all its glory. When the automatic doors slid open, my heart sunk. But, upon check-in, I was informed that I may be able to see it during our stay. I shrugged it off since we would only be there for 2 nights. What were the chances? G said, "watch, you'll wake up in the morning and the tree will be there." Little did I know, he was right!

Whenever we went to grab dinner on Monday night, a women who worked there told me that they would be setting the tree up at midnight. She told me that every year, after her shift, she would get some hot cocoa and watch the team set it up. After years of admiring its beauty, we were finally able to see how it was assembled. We couldn't stay up the entire time since it takes all night, but it was very cool to witness.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing about our time at Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Lazy Weekend

Last week was a whirlwind of sorts. Tuesday was orientation, but I already shared about that here. Wednesday wasn't so bad. Two hours of learning the cash register. I would say "training", but handing me a book and telling me to figure it out with a fellow new team member isn't really training. Haha. Thursday was kinda rough! I worked from 4:30pm-11pm. My trainer had an important project to work on so I was left alone the majority of the night. She was helpful, but I would have liked some more one on one time. Friday totally made up for the night before. The lady who trained me was the sweetest and she stayed with me the entire night. I was even recognized during our end-of-the-shift "team huddle" for being a quick learner and for working hard. So, that was neat.

Once the weekend rolled around, I was ready to be lazy relax at home for a bit. G and I went out to dinner with our friends on Saturday night. Yummy sushi and lots of laughs makes for a pretty great night. I'm surprised they didn't kick us out because of how loud we were! I intended to go to church yesterday morning, but I didn't make it there. I must have been tired because I turned my alarm off and didn't wake up until 11am. Yikes! Between working and just not feeling it (bad excuse), I haven't been to church much this year. Need to go soon!

I spent the day being a bum, not even gonna lie. I stayed in an over-sized tee and sweatpants all day long. I managed to get some laundry done (washed and put away). I cooked a pot full of creamy chicken tortilla soup for dinner (and by pot, I mean crock-pot ... love that thing). Needless to say, it was delicious and I'm planning on sharing the recipe with y'all. I watched television, played Call of Duty and unfollowed 50+ blogs that I had been following (new recommendations are appreciated). It was a lazy Sunday, no doubt about that. But, I enjoyed it.

This morning I woke up around 7am after going to bed after 2am (crazy, I know). My alarm hadn't gone off. I just felt well rested, I suppose. G was already still up (he's a night owl, I tell ya). He put a fresh pot of coffee on and we headed back to our room. I basked in the comfort of our bed, with a cup of steaming pumpkin spiced bliss in hand. Slow mornings are the best, aren't they? I plan on being productive today (to make up for the past 2 days I've wasted, of course). I'm guessing step one would be to wrap this super long (sorry, not sorry) post up!

But first, I would really like to say how thankful I am for each and every (past, present and future) veteran that has served our country. Thank you for your bravery, your dedication and your sacrifice. I would especially like to recognize my Dad on this day of remembrance. He is loved and missed by many! Freedom isn't free, friends.

Don't forget to thank a vet today (and everyday, really).

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Every Dream, Every Plan

Dream after dream, plan after plan. Journal pages filled with a life I imagined I'd be living. Where I would live. What I would be doing for a living. When I would have children and the names I would give them. It's all there, crashing about in a sea of hopeful pursuit. I've been a planner for as long as I can remember. Although it comes in handy sometimes, it's also caused much disappointment in my life over the years.

Looking back, there have been many times that my plans fell through. In those moments, I was disappointed (and upset) about the way things turned out. That is until I saw what He had to offer. When I saw the bigger picture, I was relieved. God can see what's around each corner, which is an ability that we lack (unfortunately). We should find comfort in knowing that He can see what's going to happen next. He's working behind the scenes no matter how things may look from our perspective. I'm glad He has my life in His hands, every dream + every plan.

I'm glad I didn't end up marrying my high school fling or any of the other guys I could have sworn were "the one" at the time. Because I would have never met my husband. I'm glad we didn't end up having a "honeymoon" baby like I had hoped for. Because starting a family in that season of our marriage would've been too hard on our relationship. I'm glad our plans of moving out of my parents' house in 2011 didn't work out. Because we wouldn't have been here to help my mom after my dad passed away last year. It's like this quote says: "God will wreck your plans when He sees that your plans are about to wreck you." I believe God was protecting me (and my family) during all of these instances. Next time your plans don't work out the way you'd like them to, remember that it could be a good thing! God's "NO" isn't a rejection, but rather a redirection.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love
him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Target Orientation

Y'all, it's official. This morning I had my orientation for Target. There was a lot of information to take in, but besides that it was great. We introduced ourselves, watched some videos, filled out a ton of paperwork and took a tour of the facility. We were given our schedules as well. I'm training the next few days, then I'm off all next week. I'm so happy to be working for one of my favorite stores. Not just that, but the more I learn about the company and what they stand for (integrity, diversity, teamwork, etc.), the more I love the fact that I'm working there.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

I'm Choosing to Grow

It's kinda funny, you know. Looking back at who we once were and being aware of the fact that we've changed. I'm not the same person I was years, months or even weeks ago. Change is inevitable, we all know that for a fact. But, growth? Growth is a choice, really. We can choose to stay the same, always wondering what we could be. Or, we can choose to grow and learn from each experience. Leaving what we've always known and reaching towards something greater. I don't know about you, but staying the same doesn't appeal to me much anymore. Embracing change, however, seems to be a daring adventure. One that I'd like to experience day in and day out.

"Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely."
Karen Kaiser Clark

I used to be one who despised change. I loved routine. I clung to it like a baby holds tight to a security blanket. I found safety in the ordinary. Until I came to the conclusion that God hasn't called me to live that way. Life is always changing, always adapting. So, I shouldn't be afraid when these changes impact me. On the contrary. I should be thriving in every season, welcoming change with open arms (and an open heart). Coming to that realization has helped me.

Now I find myself craving opportunities for personal growth. I'm pushing myself to go further, to reach higher. I don't want to waste the days that I've been given. The changes I face will only mold me into a stronger and wiser individual (if I allow them to do so). I want to be all that I can be and do all that I can do. What a shame it would be, to look back on this life and realize I was too afraid to grow. I refuse to live like that and so should you.

Friday, November 01, 2013

So Long, Comfort Zone

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram already know this. On Wednesday, I landed my first "real" job (I mean real as in not managed and/or owned by my parents). I'll be working a seasonal position at Target. I know. Pretty sweet! But also a bit dangerous since I love pretty much want everything that's sold there.

The funny part? That was my first interview, ever. That's right. I'm 23 years old and I had never been interviewed. Talk about having a mini-heart attack! I nearly fainted after hanging up with the HR manager on Tuesday. I quickly sent text messages to all my friends for advice. What the heck do I wear? How do I act? What do I say? Yeah, you get the picture. Thank God for awesome friends! Each of them had great advice and really encouraged me.

Come Wednesday morning, I was a nervous wreck. I had been up all night, tossing and turning and over-thinking. I even contemplated not showing up at all (so lame). But after praying about it all and pulling myself together, I decided to just go for it. I mean, I'm twenty-freakin'-three years old. Gonna have to come out of my shell at some point, right?

I showed up 20 minutes early and filled out a questionnaire on one of the computers. I was then sent up to HR where I patiently awaited my interview in one of their conference rooms. After watching a short video and being asked a series of questions by a woman who worked there, I was escorted to the managers office. And that's where it all went downhill (or so I thought). I answered most of the questions to the best of my abilities, but was at a loss for words on some of them.

I'm pretty sure the manager could sense my nervousness, because it seemed like he was coaching me through the whole thing. When it came time for me to share my strengths and weaknesses, I simply told him the truth. I'm a hard worker and I'm extremely reliable, but I do have a hard time talking to people sometimes. I'll do it since I have to, but it still freaks me out. It's something that I'm working on and I actually think that this job will be very beneficial for me.

After the interview had finished, he asked me to take a seat in the employee break room. I really didn't know what to expect. I thought he would thank me, tell me he would be in touch and send me on my way. Well, I was wrong. I guess he liked my honesty and saw potential because he offered me a position on the spot. I was shocked (and very thankful).

I know, I know. Some of you are probably thinking "it's just a seasonal job", but to me it's really so much more than that. It's about taking a step giant leap out of my comfort zone and working on improving myself. I can honestly say that I'm proud of myself and I haven't felt this way in a long time.

I passed my drug test, purchased red tops + khaki pants and my orientation is on November 12th. I'm still a tad bit anxious about the whole thing, but that's normal since it's a new experience. I'm looking forward to meeting new people, learning the ropes and pushing myself to do things that I never thought I could do :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

P is for Pumpkins (and Panera)

Well, this happened yesterday. Garrett and I went on a quest to find a pumpkin. With 3 days until Halloween, I was sure there wouldn't be any nice ones left. I was wrong. There were big ones, small ones, fat and skinny. Row after row of bright orange resting on wooden pallets. There aren't any real "patches" around us (none that I know of at least), so we tend to stick with this huge Catholic church down the street that sells them every year.

Does anyone else find it funny that churches sell pumpkins for Halloween? I guess it just boils down to my beliefs. I've never celebrated the "holiday", but I won't go into all the reasons why we choose not to. That's another post for another day! The only reason we buy pumpkins? So I can make fresh pumpkin pies and roasted pumpkin seeds ;)

We stopped to grab some lunch at Panera. Nothin' like a pumpkin spice latte, broccoli cheddar soup and half a turkey bacon bravo to make your tummy happy. After we had our fill, we headed to the pumpkin "patch" and I managed to pick one of the biggest pumpkins there. Gonna be making lots of pies in the weeks to come with that big ol' thing!