Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Secret Keeper

Throughout my life I've seen how "typical" siblings interact with each other. It's only been recently (college and beyond) that some siblings have become friends. Whether it's because they're older and more mature or what, I don't know. I have always been friends with my brother. 

I never understood the whole "not getting along" thing. Don't get me wrong, John was a complete pain in the rear when he was younger. He was a little brother, MY little brother and he certainly knew how to push my buttons. He still does. And he knows this. 

But we always got along. We didn't slam our doors in the other's face and stay mad at each other for days. 

Also, I had an amazing secret keeper. I could tell him ANYTHING and I never had to worry about him repeating him anything to anyone. Mostly, he may not have cared. Or understood. But sometimes...a lot of the time, it was just nice to be able to talk to someone and know they weren't judging you, weren't trying to think of a solution or wondering when you were going to shut up so that they could talk. I could just talk to him, tell him my problems, who I was mad at, the gossip around school, who my crush was and I knew all that would stay safe. 

He's still a pretty good secret keeper. And an awesome friend. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Passage of Time

A recent picture of a friend's youngest got me thinking about how quickly things go by. This little fella is 18 months yet I SWEAR he was just born this year.

I have been married for a year and yet I can still remember that day clearly.

My ten year high school reunion will be next year...this is a little more believable, but still TEN YEARS?? That means I'm almost thirty. We won't get into that right now, though.

My brother is 23 years old. TWENTY THREE.

I remember when he was just starting high school and was still pretty much a kid. Now he has a girlfriend, goes to college, does all these sports.

Ridiculous. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden all this stuff happened.

When I was little I still remember what it felt like waiting on Christmas and birthdays. Weeks went by so slowly. Now, I can leave for work on a Monday and come back just a few hours later and it's already Thursday.

Time should not speed up right when you start learning to appreciate it.


I am really not doing well with this whole blogging every day thing. It didn't help that we weren't at home for most of yesterday.

Yesterday was our one year anniversary. It was nice and chill. We didn't do a whole lot. We slept in until almost ten. For those who know me, this is not a surprise. For those who know Trey, this is a once every other year occurrence. In fact, I woke up BEFORE him!!

We went to eat breakfast at this cute diner that's near our house; Trey ate his weight in eggs, home fries and pancakes and I had pumpkin pancakes that were deeeelicious!

We then drove up to Charlottesville since we were planning on going to Carter Mountain--it rained and rained and was cloudy and miserable so we altered plans and went to King Family Winery where we were treated to a bottle of wine from the Leaches (thanks, guys!) and then went to hang out with our little nieces until it was time to go home. SO. ADORABLE.

I completely forgot about eating our wedding cake until Trey reminded me this morning. It's been in the freezer for a whole year (YUM!) so I took it out of the freezer to let it defrost. I don't know how long it takes cake to defrost but I'm thinking we probably won't be able to eat it until tomorrow.

I'm sure it will be delicious.

Friday, October 11, 2013

One year (almost)

One year ago we were at the rehearsal dinner. My family was there and Trey's family was there and I think they get along pretty well.

John was a groomsman, of course. He look so, so handsome in his black suit. But I get ahead of myself.

On rehearsal dinner night John wanted to sit with me, Trey, and my maid of honor, a long-time friend. John enjoys food and eating out so this was probably a great night for him. He had a blue jacket and khakis and he looked so cute I just wanted to squeeze him and pinch his little cheeks. But he's a man now, 23 years old, and you can't really do that anymore. *sigh*

I had been talking to him leading up to the wedding. I told him it was a very important day and that there were going to be a lot of people paying attention to me, Trey and probably him since my extended wouldn't have seen him in a while. I also told him that during the ceremony he needed to be quiet. No whispering to me at the top of the stairs, no Garys. He understood.

He walked my grandmother and mother down the aisle like a gentleman. He processed down the aisle in line with the other groomsmen like a pro. And he was very attentive and watched the whole ceremony better than anyone.

I was worried he wouldn't understand what was happening. I wasn't worried that he would think I was leaving him; I know he knows better than that. In fact, he knew he was getting a brother so he was actually quite pleased with the whole deal. I was worried that he wouldn't understand how BIG of thing this was. But he did. He does. He knows that getting married is a big deal.

It was a great night. Both of them were, the rehearsal and the wedding. I couldn't have had a better, more wonderful sibling to have take part in it and share it with.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Yikes! I think I skipped a day...maybe?

I hope you'll forgive me...we just moved into a new house and are trying to get everything in order. It's busy and there's a lot to do, especially since this Wednesday we leave for San Francisco!!!

My brother goes to camp. A lot of them. Several sleep-away camps, in fact. He loves them. And he always does really cool things.

Unfortunately he takes after his sister in that he often leaves things behind. I myself have left socks and other bits of clothing behind. I think one time John came home with two pairs of shorts and nine socks. And that was it. It was something like that.


He just recently got back from a camp called Camp Blue Skies. It's somewhere in the mountains of NC. It's a week-long overnight camp for adults who have cognitive and intellectual disabilities. There are a lot of outdoor activities, boating, fishing, swimming, and other various sports.

This afternoon while on the phone with him, John told me he went down the zip-line at camp. The ZIP-LINE??? I asked him. He said "Yeah! It was fun!" He told me he also went on the big swing, which I'm not sure what that was and he didn't explain further.

I asked him if any of that was scary. "No, not too scary."

I've got pictures of John climbing up those climbing walls. He's really good at that actually.  He's told me about some other activities at other camps (challenger course, rope something or others) that he's done that I would probably hesitate before jumping in with both feet like he does.

He may love playing on the iPad and watching movies, but put a physical challenge in front of him and he'll probably take you up on it.  And it's not because he wants to impress a girl (though he is a ladies' man) or that he think it will make him look cool, it's because he wants to do it. For him. And that's the coolest thing of all.

For more information on Camp Blue Skies and to donate or volunteer visit this website: 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Just a quick one for today since it's late and I am exhausted.

John hates getting his hair wet. Unless he's in the shower or in the pool. If it's raining, even if he only has to go a foot or so to get to the car or house, he will be stubborn and make you get him an umbrella.

Trey was telling me a story yesterday of one time when he took John to some museum and it started raining. Of course they had no umbrella so when it was time to leave John let Trey know he was not going out in the rain. So, Trey offered a piggy back ride and out into the rain they went. The whole time John was yelling that his hair was wet.

Funny guy.

Brotherly Love

I asked Trey just a few minutes ago if he remember any conversation I had with him about my brother, right when we started dating.

He said he didn't remember any specific conversation about that, just that he would be meeting him along with the rest of my family for the first time. It wasn't a big deal to him that my brother had Ds.

He does remember going to eat lunch with my family and my brother telling him to "stop screwing around." He told me that looking back on that day, John seemed really calm.

We started sharing silly and funny John stories, some of them Trey will share in a later post this month.

They have a good great relationship. Even before we were married and John and Trey were brothers-in-law John would call Trey his brother. He still does it now and my parents and I have tried to get him to add the "in-law" part, but it's no use. In his mind, Trey is his brother.

They wrestle, they argue, they hang out together.

I don't remember ever worrying about ending up with the right guy. I do remember worrying that I would have to meet some awful guys to get to the right one, but luckily the first one was a keeper :)

I love watching them interact with each other; most of the time it's hilarious, but the rest is sweet and melts my heart.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Gary is a red straw. The best Garys come from Sonic or Burger King.

I don't understand my brother's love of red straws and naming them Gary, but I don't need to.

So what if he has made a non-human, inanimate object a huge part of his life? It's not like he's carrying around a 9mm or a machete. It's a straw.

And yet, I am somehow annoyed by this.

I need to learn to be more tolerant. I need to work on being more accepting. I need to work on not needing to understanding the reasons behind my brother's wants, actions, connections.

He wants to carry around a red straw named Gary? Fine. Great, he should!

I mean, I still sleep with my husband's old tshirts so who am I to talk?

Saturday, October 5, 2013


These are those points in development when you are "supposed" to achieve something, whether it is walking, talking, feeding yourself, being potty trained, cleaning up after yourself. Some of us never achieve the latter.

These are things that parents, doctors, specialists focus on when they are talking to a family with a child with Down syndrome, in that they usually say something to the effect of "don't expect your child to reach these milestones on time." On time. What does that even mean? As a "typical" child I refused to learn how to read; I loved having my parents read to me and so didn't see the point in making myself do that. Now I can't stop.

It took my brother about a year long to begin walking and now he plays football, tennis, soccer and volleyball. He will go outside and play basketball in the driveway by himself. Sometimes it's hard to get him to come inside.

I can't remember at what age he started talking, but for the longest time I was the only one who could understand him. He used sign language for a little while, which is a fairly common practice with any family with a child with any disability. He still uses signs sometimes. But, most of the time, he does not.stop.talking. You get him in the car and it is just constant chatter.

So, my point is, yes, there are goals to work towards. But no one should ever be discouraged from meeting any of those goals, "typically" developing or not. Doctors should never tell a family "Don't expect to understand her verbally" "Don't expect him to be able to live by himself." That is discouraging. That is why parents worry their hair out about their child not walking when their other child started or not being able to tie their shoes at age 10. It might be difficult, you will probably need some help, but everyone EVERYONE is different.  Things happen when they happen and if they don't, they don't.

"Gond, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference."

Friday, October 4, 2013


Responsibility is a big word, with a simple meaning: being accountable for YOU, YOUR STUFF, anything you OWN, and ANYONE (or anything) that you caused into being.

This means: you don't want to pay for the upkeep of a house? DON'T BUY ONE.

You don't want to make sure your child has a safe home, food, appropriate clothing? DON'T HAVE ONE.

I am so sick and so tired of reading all these stories about these mothers who don't feed their children, let them live in infested, dirty, absolutely disgusting places, and then have the nerve to whine and plead to the court and judge not to sentence them to a lot less than they deserve.


On a different, happier note, we are spending the second night in our new house. The movers come tomorrow with the rest of our furniture and then I can finally start getting things into their places. We have internet (yesssss) and TV. We have a dishwasher, dryer and washer. Though, when I went to do laundry this morning I actually looked at the dryer. This thing looks almost identical to the one my parents had when I was little. And I mean *little.* I used to "help" my mom with laundry by pushing the clothes into the dryer after she laid them on top of the lid. 

I got to sit on the porch swing again tonight. It was GREAT. I can't wait until we get to decorate for Halloween; I'm going to put our big pumpkin on the swing!


So I know I said I would blog everyday for 31 for 21 but I had a good reason to not blog yesterday: no internet!! That's right everyone, we moved into our new house yesterday and (through no fault of my own) Verizon could not come out until today to install the services.  So, today, I will be blogging twice to make up for it.

This house is pretty awesome (especially compared to the one we just left). I think the first floor is bigger than our WHOLE old house. And guess what? We have a PORCH SWING. Harley and I sat on the porch last night waiting for Trey to come home from school. It was nice, except for the mosquitoes which we will be spraying for this weekend.

And that's really all the news, for right now.  Oh, except that we couldn't get our box springs up the stairs. Let's hope the movers can maneuver it up there. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 for 21 Blog Challenge

As I mentioned yesterday, October is Down syndrome awareness month. The 31 for 21 challenge is blogging in support of Down syndrome awareness. Everyday in the month of October (31) anyone can blog in support of Ds (21). You don't have to write about Ds every day and you don't have to be a family member of someone with Ds. The idea is to just dedicate your October blogging to Ds awareness.

Today, I'm ashamed to admit, I didn't really think about much at all. All I really thought about was how bad my muscles were burning and how exhausted I was in response to moving crap belongings to the new house. By myself.

I'm at the (old) house and looking at the pictures that we've put on the wall and am realizing (again) that my brother is incredibly photogenic. There is no pose or face that he has made that does not look cute, handsome, and perfect. I, on the other hand, can make some awkward and unusual faces in photos. Especially candid ones. It's unfortunate since I do enjoy taking pictures.

Oh well. At least I have a good subject who is willing to have pictures made of himself :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Sister's Point of View

Today is October 1st, which means Down syndrome Awareness month is upon us. For many people, that's not even on the top ten of what October means to them (Halloween, breast cancer, fall, etc). For many people, Down syndrome Awareness month is something to shrug at.

Not for me.

My very first memory is when my parents went to the hospital to have my brother. I can't tell you the specifics of that day, when my parents left, if they were nervous or excited or if they even had a feeling that their lives were going to be incredibly different when they left that hospital.

I don't remember if they ever had "the talk" with me, about how it would take John longer to do things, that he might need more help with walking, talking, feeding himself. I really don't know.

All I know is that on March 23, 1990 a wonderful person came into my life. This person, just by being himself, by being my little brother, changed my life in such a wonderful way, made me a stronger person, showed me how to love, unconditionally. I don't know what or who I might've been without him, but I know, I KNOW that my life is so much more than it ever would have been. Just by being his big sister.

I'm sure that there are parents, right now, who have just been told that their baby has Down syndrome. They may have other children and may worry that their baby with Ds may take away time from their "normal" children. They may worry that their "normal" children may lose friends, may have a harder life than if their baby didn't have Ds.  I would like to tell those parents, those siblings that it IS a different life. Not unfullfilling, or horrible, or inadequate. Just different.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Moving On

I hate throwing things away.

Trash, I get it. The box is empty, it goes in the trash. The mushrooms have mold on them-DEFINITELY in the trash. Preferably the outside trash can.

But clothes? Books? It hurts.

Trey and I are getting ready to move, because, y'know, it's been almost two years since we've done that. And as part of the preparation we are going through our books, clothes, household goods and setting things aside that we no longer want or need.

Trey says I have a lot of stuff. I tell him it's OUR stuff, now that we're married. But we do, indeed, have a lot of things.

Ask my mother and she'll agree that I hate throwing things away. I get it from my dad. He can find sentimental a piece of paper with a scribble or some random phone number on it. Ergo, clothes that I haven't worn in years (literally) have made their way from North Carolina to Virginia with me. Books, too.

It was pretty easy with the books, though. Any textbook got pulled off a shelf. Even I do go back to school it'll be for something for which my archaeology book is irrelevant (I kept one, though).  Any novel/memoir/etc that I didn't feel the need to reread got pulled off a shelf.

Clothes were different. For some reason I hold on to clothes. Especially clothes that are a size or two smaller than the me now. My excuse is "I'll be able to wear that someday!" I've been saying that for a while now. So, I sucked it up, pulled them out of the drawer and put them in a bag.

My mom cleaned out my childhood room a few months back and brought me eighteen years worth of stuff. I really think I cleaned that stuff out TOO well. Every now and then I'll think "Omigosh did I throw _____ away? Do I still have it??!!" and I don't want to crawl through the crawlspace to find out that I did throw it away.

I still have my Beanie Babies, Barbies and American Girl stuff. I will NOT give that away. At some point in the future I might have a child or two you could potentially be interested in playing with it. Or laughing at how his/her mother could have possibly played with something so definitely not AI.

Good luck to me.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rent A Kid

There was a movie, sometime in the mid-1990s called "Rent-A-Kid." The premise of the movie is to rent kids from the local orphanage out to families, I guess to "test run" them before adopting them. I vaguely remember watching this movie, but I remember at the time I thought that was stupid. Why on Earth would you want to rent a kid? I mean, you either wanted kids or you didn't.

HOLY COW it is SUCH a good idea!!!

Trey and I are now at an age where family and friends are having children and those children are having birthday parties. We are even invited to them! In the last two years, I have been invited to so many kid birthday parties. It is amazing to me how many.

So, today, we were at the birthday party of the little girl I babysit, who just turned two. No joke, we were the ONLY ones there without kids. Yes, some parents are baby babies, but they all had kids. All of them.

Then, I thought back to the other parties we have gone to. For probably 98% of them we have, again, been the only people without children.

And let me tell you, it's a little awkward. I don't have any "my kid did/said/pooped the funniest thing the other day" stories. I don't commiserate about toilet training, changing clothes every couple of ours, or talking about why my child has started biting the dog.

Don't get me wrong; I absolutely love that I get to be a part of this. It's fun, I get cake and the kids are just so adorable.

But...I wish there was something like "Rent a Kid" that allowed people (background checks, of course) to rent a child for a couple of hours for events, like birthday parties where they are going to be only childless person there. Trey and I joked about this on the way home from the party, and of course a company like this would never, ever happen. But still...the idea is appealing.

We also "joked" about borrowing our oldest niece for things....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Outings with the Newells-Pocahontas State Park

So, at the beginning of the summer Trey and I had said that each Thursday we would go out and explore Richmond and the surrounding area we live in. Since then, I think we've done one of those Thursdays and that was antique-ing.

Earlier this week Trey was planning a fishing trip for today and he asked if I wanted to come. I told him that I wouldn't fish, but I would go and sit with him and read.

Today we drove out to Pocahontas State Park in southern Chesterfield County.

It was a gorgeous drive and the park was beautiful. We had never been and so had no idea where in the  park we should go or what was there.

We ended up following the signs for the boat ramp, our rationale being that both boats and fish are in the water so wherever boats were going, that was where water would be.

As it happens, the boat ramp was next to the water park and we found a nice, shady spot to camp out for a few hours.

Trey didn't end up catching anything, but I finished a book I had started!

There were other really neat things at the park, other than the water park.

There's a campground and also cabins that you can rent and camp in.

There were a lot of hiking and biking trails and lots of picnic shelters for parties and get togethers. There's even a gift shop!

On site they had a museum, CCC Museum (Civilian Conservation Corps) as well as the Algonquian Ecology Camp.

It seemed like a really interesting place and I hope we get to go back soon.

For more information go here.

Monday, July 15, 2013


It's not Thanksgiving and nothing has happened but...

I was sitting on the couch watching TV with Trey a few minutes ago and I looked over at him asleep on the couch and Harley asleep on the floor and I thought to myself "I am so lucky."

I need to remember this whenever I get sad about what I don't have (ie-children).

I have a job (two actually). I am married to a man who loves me and who always knows how to get me out of a bad mood. I have a sweet little puppy who is always happy to see me when I get home.

We have a place to live, nice things, and a (small) disposable income.

Sometimes it's hard to see how great things are when you're focused on what you don't have.

It's something I'll have to work on.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Catching Up

Well, it's been awhile since anyone's written on this thing and it SEEMS to me that a lot has been going on.

Trey finished his first semester with all A's of course. He finished his first summer class a few weeks ago (another A) and starts his second summer class a week from Monday. In the meantime he's been building tables, doing stuff around the house and just being Trey. Here's the first table he built (came out really good!):

In the first part of June I traveled up to Baltimore for a week-long forensic anthropology course. The course was really interesting and fun and I am so so glad a co-worker went with me because we were pretty much the only non-MDs at the session. I had a great time, though and it was really nice to attend some lectures. I had forgotten how much I missed going to school. The course was a great refresher course for bone anatomy, osteology, and forensic anthropology and I've been keeping up with it, too, studying skeletons at the office and reading some of my textbooks. If we had the money I would definitely go back to school; not for a degree or anything, but just to go and learn. Here are a few pictures from the trip: 

At the end of June/beginning of July we went on our first road trip as husband-wife.  We left Richmond and traveled to Charlotte and stayed with my parents for one night. Then we drove across the rest of NC all the way to western Tennessee and spent two nights with my uncle and grandmother. THEN we traveled another 6 hours to get to the central part of Arkansas where I had to navigate narrow two-lane roads that winded through the Ozarks. Roundtrip we put about 2200 miles on my car. 

The trip to Arkansas was to spend time with my Dad's family. Trey hadn't met most of them as they weren't able to come to our wedding and enjoyed, I think, getting to know them. Apparently my dad has hilarious cousins. It was nice seeing everyone; the last time we had been there was in 2009 when we had gone to say good-bye to my uncle. It felt really weird being there without him this time. I really think he and Trey would've gotten along...or he would have scared the bejeezus out of Trey. :) 

The tradition, at the Buffalo River (in Yellville, AR population around 2000) is to spend a day canoeing down the river, from the bridge on Highway 14 to Rush, an abandoned mining town. Trey and I shared a canoe and my parents and brother were in another. Trey loved this and I didn't mind it so much either as I didn't have to paddle all that often! 

Another day we spent going to some old haunts: Blanchard Springs and some swimming places in the area. We also went to Mountain View, which I don't remember having gone here before. It was a cute little town with one of those Main Streets that seems like it's out of a movie. There was chocolate covered bacon and huge rocking chairs that you could sit in. 

On July 3rd Flippin (another small town, located about 6 miles from Yellville, population around 2000) has their fireworks. This is because they have them at the dam on the 4th and I guess Flippin doesn't want to detract from that? Anyway, it was FREEZING that night. It got down into the low 50s. Actually, the weather on the whole trip was pretty mild. Usually I sunburn and end up sweating the entire time on the river and I didn't get hot once. The river was really cold to swim in and I didn't stay in long. Plus, there's snakes and bugs and fish in it and that's gross (see-not an outdoorsy girl!). 

On the 4th we traveled back to Dyersburg and had a cookout with my mom's brother and his family and some of their friends. The next day we spent lounging around their pool and the NEXT day we spent a hellacious amount of time on the road trying to get home at a decent hour as I had to be at work at 6am the next morning. 

I wish I had some pictures of Rush. It is this really cool abandoned town. We never have the chance to walk around it as we're always on a bus at the end of canoe trip trying to get back to the cabins to take showers and whatnot. But if you're interested in the history of it here's a link.  

There's really a lot of Frame/Burch/Rae/etc (all family names on my dad's side) history in these small towns in Arkansas. Always at the end of our trip we go to the Flippin Cemetery. This has somehow turned into a tradition of my dad and I walking around the cemetery and me trying to figure out the relationships between all the different families. 

For Labor Day we're going to the NC mountains, but it's my goal to post something between now and then. It's been a busy last few months in the Newell household and now we're getting back into the grind of working and going to school!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Review: This is 40

"This is 40" is from the director of "Knocked Up" and "The 40 year old virgin." It's about Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) who we met in Knocked Up in 2007. 

Pete and Debbie are approaching a huge milestone: their 40s. The movie follows their marriage's ups and downs, their two very energetic children, and their own parents. Pete's record label is failing and Debbie is struggling with body image issues and relationship troubles. 

After watching this movie Trey asked me why I had gotten it from Netflix. I explained that this was a "sequel" of sorts to Knocked Up, it was written/directed by the same guy and  had some of the same cast in it. We both loved Knocked Up and thought it was hilarious. 

We did not like This is 40. Neither of us found it funny and to be honest, I thought it was really depressing. As we were watching it I thought to myself "Gah, I hope we are not like this after 20 years of marriage." I also told myself that my children will NOT be like Sadie in this movie (I used her as an explanation to Trey of why I want boys, not girls. He understood). 

I really just felt like the movie was two hours of how-can-this-marriage-get-more-screwed-up and not-funny jokes. I did not enjoy the plot, most of the characters got on my nerves, and, like I said before, it was not funny and quite sad (not emotional sad, just pathetic). 

The only saving grace was Charlotte, the youngest daughter of Pete and Debbie. She was cute and her lines were short and quite comical as I could very well see an 8 year old saying the things she said. 

On a scale of 5 stars, I would give this movie 1 1/2 stars. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Growing Up Girl

I just came back from the gym having achieved my fastest pace on a mile...EVER. And yet, I am still not proud of myself.

For most of my life I have had a weight problem. It has just been recently, looking back at photos from high school and college where I realized that I DIDN'T have a physical weight problem, but an emotional one.

You see, I never thought of myself as skinny, thin, or even of average-where-you're-supposed-to-be weight. I always thought I was overweight and fat. Oh, if only I knew.

If I had known that in reality I wasn't fat, that I wasn't overweight, I probably would have loved myself a whole lot more. I may not be where I am today. I may not be having to work so hard every.single.day. But if I ever get down to a weight and size that I'm comfortable with, I will love myself and love being me and I will NOT take it for granted.

People may think, "Well, your parents just didn't instill confidence in you or help raise your self-esteem."

Not true.

My parents always supported me, told me I could be and do whatever I wanted (even if it was out in left field) and always told me how pretty and beautiful I was. Even now they tell me that and so does my husband, but it is still very, very hard to believe.

And I can't exactly pinpoint what it was and or when it was where I started feeling this way. I'd like to be able to point to a specific magazine, television ad, or person who might've influenced my self image, but I can't.

For those of you who don't know, it is really hard to be a girl. I know, I know, we make it look easy. But what you don't see is the countless hours trying new hairstyles to see which one frames your face. Or changing outfits seven times because you just can't find something that makes you feel pretty. Or sneaking makeup behind your mother's back because you're "too young" but those red blotches aren't going away by themselves. And what you really don't see is all the internal conflict.

It's hard.

And even when all that awful puberty, middle school and even high school stuff is over it's still hard.

I think that most girls have gone through this at some point in their lives. I think it's hard not to when we are constantly seeing girls with 0% body fat (thankfully this is not as prevalent as it used to be) on the cover of magazines, in TV and movies, etc. We think that if we can't feel or see all of our bones poking through our skin that something is wrong, that we're overweight and that we need to starve ourselves in order to be loved.

For me, it is a constant struggle. A daily struggle. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Each day when I wake up and I stand in front of the mirror to brush my teeth I have to tell myself "You are beautiful. You are getting there." because sometimes that feeling just isn't there.

It's a daily struggle to get to where I want to be and some days it feels far easier to just give up. But I've got willpower now and I have a support team. I've already given up on myself once and I made a promise to never do that again. So no matter what, I keep going, keep trucking and keep pushing myself. And eventually something will happen, something will change.

Eventually, I'll get to where I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Getting to know me better

Kelley over at Over the Threshold nominated me for a Liebster Award. No idea what this is, other than some sort of blogging something...?? 

Anyway, in her nominating post she asked 11 questions of all her nominees. Another part is to nominate other bloggers, but I don't really know any bloggers except for the book blogs I follow, so I'll just answer the questions. They're pretty good questions, too. Maybe you guys'll know me better after reading this post!

Here are the questions and my corresponding answers: 

1. What is your favorite season of the year and why?

I think it would have to be summer. By then, my allergies are (mostly) gone. It's not cold. I can spend a lot of time outside without freezing and without sneezing my brains out. Plus, I love going to the beach. My favorite place is sitting in a beach chair, feet in the surf, a beer in my hand and reading a good book. 

2. How many siblings do you have?  Brothers or sisters?  Are you the youngest, oldest, or in the middle?

I have one younger brother. 

3. Beach or mountains?

Beach, no doubt about it. 

4. What is your favorite dessert?

Chocolate merengue pie. My grandmother used to make this every Christmas when I was little. I only had it once a year during the holidays and it was delicious. Now that she's getting older other family members help out with desserts (but chocolate merengue pie is still my favorite)

5. What is the most unusual illness or injury you've ever had?  Were you in the hospital?

Can't say I've ever had an unusual illness or injury. I think probably the most "interesting" thing that's happened is that I had my tonsils out at age 12. 

6. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

My in-laws got me a stand mixer as a wedding present. It is pink. And I love it. 

7. What is the last song you sang out loud?

Trey and I were driving back from Concord, NC this past weekend and we sang "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" in our most loudest, most ridiculous voices (Trey won, of course). 

8. If you had to eat at one fast food restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Hmm. I don't really eat at fast food places anymore. Does Panera count as fast food? I mean, there's no drive thru or anything, but they're fairly quick. 

9. What do you most hope readers will take away from your blog?

The main reason I (we) started this blog was because we had just gotten married and I figured we'd be more interesting. Turns out, we're not. But it's still a good way for friends and family who live away from us to keep up with what we're doing. 

10. What is one brand to which you are loyal and why?

I can't really think of anything that I am particularly loyal to. I prefer Kraft cheeses, and will usually get that since they often have coupons and in general they're not much more expensive than store brand. But in general, not loyal at all. We stick mostly to store brands unless there's a big sale and there are coupons. 

11. What would you do if you had 6-8 months to do anything you wanted and only what you wanted?  (so you don't have to work)

Travel. I would spend 2-3 weeks in each destination (Rome, Naples, Greece, London, Egypt, Beijing, Brazil...) Of course, this would also require an unlimited amount of money as traveling is expensive.  If unlimited money is not part of the deal then I would probably spend a lot of time reading, maybe take a class at VCU, go to various wineries and spend time with my husband and family. 

And I had to post this picture:

Thursday, February 28, 2013


On April 20th, 2013 I will attempt to finish my first 5K.

I am very nervous. I want to do well and run the whole thing. I'm doing well with pacing myself and knowing my limits, but I also know that if I can't finish this I will be very disappointed in myself.

Yesterday I ran 2.25 miles. I sprinted the last 1/4 mile, completely draining myself of energy. I was able to walk another 1/4 mile before I could feel muscles tightening up and knew that I needed to stretch. But I did it. And I ran farther and for longer than I ever have before (including when I was back in my ultra fit/in shape days).

I admit, I am still not a huge fan of running. It doesn't take a lot of coercing or forcing myself to start, but if I'm not in the right frame of mind at the time I place my feet on that treadmill belt, I find I can't run more than a mile.

If I DO finish a run that's more than a mile I feel fantastic. I'm sure I look like a goofball, walking out of the gym with an enormous grin plastered on my face, but I'm proud of myself and I've worked hard to get to this level. I'm still not where I want to be, but I'm not going to stop trying and I'm not going to give up on myself.

I have a friend who worked at the gym I go to and was pretty much my sole motivation for the first 6 months I was trying to change my life. She used to teach weight-lifting classes and if we had two more minutes of something she would said "Two minutes! You can do two minutes of anything!" I switch the numbers up to match the time I'm trying to achieve, but when I need to push myself five, ten, or another 1/4 mile I hear her voice in my head saying "You can do anything for ten minutes!!"

And I find that I can.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tolerance. Inclusion. Acceptance. Understanding. Love

My brother has Down syndrome. This should not be new news to any of you, but just in case it was, now you know.

He is an extremely important person in my life; there is nothing I wouldn't do for him. From the time he was born I was involved in a world that a lot of people don't get to see or experience. It's not easy; the road is very rocky, sometimes impossible to travel, many times so dark you think you'll never get to see light again. But sometimes, oh sometimes, it is the best place in the world and you think to yourself "No one else will never know what this feels like. What this means." It's not an easy road, but no one ever said life was easy, right?

I worked with various agencies who provide services for children and adults with special needs. Throughout this work I have met some truly incredible people. But most of all, through getting to know these parents, I feel like I have gotten to know own mother a little bit better.

When I was younger and my brother was just starting school, my mother would spend hours on the phone, usually with school officials, teachers, social workers, etc, and most of the time she would be livid. You see, 15 years ago schools were not the accepting places for children with special needs that they are now (yes, you read that right, but we'll get to the present in a moment).  There was a school in Charlotte that was just for kids with special needs. No "typical" kids, no "typical" activities. And the school board wanted my brother there. My mother did not. She understood he needed to be included and not secluded. She understood that in order for him to grow, to change, to learn from his peers, he needed inclusion. It was a constant battle to get him placed into schools and while I'm not really sure of all the specifics, I know that she had to fight for his right to an education up until he entered high school. And even getting him into the high school that I had attended took threats of lawsuits and lawyers.

It's not a cakewalk today, by any means. Parents still have to fight for their children; they have to fight to get their kids into schools, they have to fight to get their kids the extra help they may need to succeed. And to top it all off they have to deal with ignorant dumbasses  parents and teachers who truly believe that their children don't deserve to be treated like other students or even, like humans.

The reason I bring all of this up is because horrible things still happen in schools. When a parent sends their child to school they expect that child to be safe, to be treated properly, and to be given an education. What they do NOT expect is their child to be ignored, physically punished, or emotionally abused (I am not getting into gun violence today).

I have a temper. In my opinion it's not as bad as it used to be, but there are still things that make me see red. Take this article:


First of all: it's SHOES. Get some perspective. It's not like there's book burning going on. And I don't blame her; I take my shoes off every chance I get, too.

Second of all: Those parents are unbelievable; I can't believe how calm and collected they were. I would have probably done something incredibly unreasonable and irrational.

You would think special ed teachers would be the most patient, kind, understanding, accepting people out of the whole teacher population. But looking back at my brother's teachers, they really aren't (except for his high school teachers-they were absolutely amazing. I am so grateful for them, that he had these wonderful women in his life). And I don't understand that.

Tolerance. Inclusion. Acceptance. Understanding. Love.  As a sister, that is what I want out of people for my brother. I can't imagine that parents (of any child) would want something different for their child.

I think that about covers it (for now). I'll probably have to get back up on my soapbox at some point, but for now I'm stepping down.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Maiden's Court: Author Interview with B. N. Peacock & Giveaway

The Maiden's Court: Author Interview with B. N. Peacock & Giveaway: Today I would like to introduce you all to debut author, B. N. Peacock.  Her new book, A Tainted Dawn , is the first book in her Great War ...

To read the author interview and enter the giveaway click the link above!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When would you go?

Over Christmas I was chatting with my parents and my Dad asked me a question that took me awhile to answer. What my Dad had asked me was this: If you could go anywhere in the world at any time, when would you go?

I thought for a little bit, visions of Imperial Rome, Pompeii, ancient Mesoamerica, medieval Italy sweeping through my mind. I couldn't decided on a place and a time and told my Dad so. He gave me a little grief for it :) but then I asked him the same question back. At this point my mom jumped in and mentioned something about this sounding like a Mitch Albom book (For One More Day) about a son who goes back in time to spend one day with his mom who died eight years earlier. We eventually strayed from this line of conversation but it really got me thinking.

I've only really ever known one out of four grandparents. My paternal grandmother died before my parents met and my two grandfathers died the year I turned four. I have numerous other family members who died before I got a chance to meet them and one uncle who passed just four years ago.

So, would I choose to meet one of them? Someone I had never known? That was only connected me via the stories I had heard?

Or, would I choose to witness, first hand, some of the more well-known events of the world's history?

My Dad is a great story-teller. He doesn't really get sidetracked and he, usually, makes it to the end of the story without repeating himself or forgetting where he is in the story. He has this beautiful picture of his mother on his dresser and I remember when I was younger I would ask to hear stories about her, Bonnie.

He would tell me stories about when he and his siblings were younger, about when his parents were still alive, about all their moves, and things he did that were stupid and how he would get in trouble for them. She sounded like such a wonderful, sweet woman and I would imagine what it would be like if she was still alive.

Now that I had though about all that, and had, for so long, wanted to meet this woman, my grandmother, whose grave we go to every time we are in Arkansas, I knew that was when I would go.

I would meet my grandmother and, depending on when I went, I would get to meet my dad and my aunt and uncle when they were children. There is that one drawback, though: knowing you will have to leave and knowing you will have to say goodbye, only having that short amount of time with that person. But still, can you imagine what an experience that would be?

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Recipe!

Last night we didn't really have a dinner set in stone, but I had just gone grocery shopping so we had a lot of options. I got some gnocchi and we had a lot of veggies so I made a vegetarian dish. It was really quick and easy to make, not to mention DELICIOUS! Here's what I did:

What you need:
I package Gnocchi
1 yellow medium onion, chopped
1/2 carton of cherry tomatoes
1 T minced garlic
A HUGE handful of mushrooms (you can use however many you want, actually)
2 C baby spinach
1/4 C feta cheese
2 T oil

What to do:

1. Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions.
2. Saute the garlic and onions in oil in a frying pan
3. Add the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook until the cherry tomatoes burst and the mushrooms are not quite so crispy.
4. Once everything is cooked to your liking ad the spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted.
5. Add the feta and heat until it's melted.
6. Pour sauce over gnocchi.

This was definitely enough for the two of us. If you're cooking for more than two you can double it and have leftovers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas and New Year's

The past two months seem to have gone by in a blur; I have no idea where the days and months went. It feels like we got married last week and then SHAZAM it's 2013.

Uck, an odd year. And one that ends in "13."

Hope it's a good one!!

Christmas with the Frames:

My parents and brother came up to Richmond for Christmas. It was nice, except that I had to work overnights from Sunday through the night of Christmas. And then they left. So, very little sleep for me, very little time to spend with family. It was also rather crazy at work, but we're not going to go into that.

Trey and I received a lot of wonderful gifts this year! We got a new vacuum cleaner which sent me over the moon! And an electric can opener and a waffle iron that produces delicious, beautiful waffles. A friend of mine said something to effect of "you know you're a boring adult when you're excited to receive an apple slicer." Well, we're both boring adults because we absolutely love our new kitchen gadgets.

We all ate delicious, unhealthy food, so it was back to the gym I went the day after Christmas. Trey doesn't gain any weight but he did take Harley-kins for some runs, I think.

The most interesting gift received was something my dad gave to Trey. I don't remember the technical name for it, but it's the thing you put water and live bait in for fishing. The coolest thing is that it belonged to my dad's maternal grandfather (my paternal great-grandfather).  Hopefully, now, Trey can find a place to fish that he likes.

We've got a couple of family heirlooms now! For a wedding present we received a set of antique silver from Trey's grandmother as well as my grandmother's set of antique china; and now we (or rather Trey) received the antique fishing pail. We have antique things from other peoples' families (bought at antique stores) but it's always nice to get things passed down through your own family.

Aside from having to work, we had a nice Christmas, I think. Also, I didn't get sick! I am hardly ever not sick over Christmas so that was really nice that I didn't have to deal with that.

Though, to make up for the fact that I didn't get sick for Christmas, I was (and still am) sick over New Year's. Trey and I both woke up the morning of the 31st with sore throats and congestion. I stayed in bed most of Tuesday and Wednesday.  Trey refused to stay in past 9am and got up and went about the house and town as if it was business usual. This afternoon he went outside and did woodworking for several hours. He certainly was not acting sick.

I stayed in bed until 1pm, moved to the couch and stayed there until 830pm when I finally mustered the energy to get up, take a shower, and go to work. We obviously don't get or feel sick in the same way.

Ergo, 2013 has not been so great for us thus far. I'm hoping that will change very, very soon. Trey has orientation on the 8th and then starts his classes soon after.
We've already got a couple of trips planned, a big one to the Buffalo River in Arkansas for the Fourth of July with my dad's side of the family. I'm really looking forward to that one!

Here's to 2013!!!