Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good grief...

All in all, I've led a wonderfully happy life. I had a great childhood, wonderful parents, an older brother who only occasionally tortured me (I kid... well, kind of), met the man of my dreams at a very young age, surrounded myself with incredibly loyal friends, and have only occasionally lost people who were close to me.

And when loved ones do go on to be with the Lord, I tend to grieve in waves. Sometimes the waves are small. Manageable. But sometimes they're big enough to knock me down and flip me around under the water.

I wrote a tiny bit about my "honorary" mom here, and my birthday last Sunday marked three years since she has been gone. I don't think there has been a single day that I haven't thought of her in some way, but some days it just really hits me. Last Sunday, it was remembering the words I spoke at her funeral that brought tears to my eyes - remembering feeling like nothing I could say could even begin to capture what a wonderful person she was.

And Micah's sweet grandmother passed away a few months ago. Yesterday was her birthday, and tonight while I was sitting in the bathtub, I just started crying for no reason. I just missed hearing her sweet voice.

But then I thought about it. I really thought about how grief works. Because as I was crying tonight my mind ran through all the good memories I have of Granmargie. I remembered all the stories she told, her selfless service as a missionary in Mexico, and the love she had for her family.

And the same thing happened last Sunday. When I thought of Danna, I thought of her infectious laugh and her strength, and it made me happy to think of what a gift it was to know her while she was here.

So maybe grief isn't some horrible burden to be carried with bitterness. Maybe it's just God's way of allowing us to remember the things we love most about those that we miss. Maybe it's a gift to be treasured so that we don't forget who they were. It's bittersweet, but maybe grief is good after all.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

In my shower...

It appears as though I have a bit of a problem.  Apparently I've taken consumerism to a whole other level, and my shower is taking the heat for it.  

I didn't really realize how bad it had gotten until I bought some new shampoo and conditioner from Victoria's Secret the other day and couldn't find anywhere to put them.  I actually had to throw away two quarter-full bottles of body wash to make room for them.  

And maybe that's part of the problem.  I think I get separation anxiety when it comes time to use the last of whatever's in the bottle, and I just can't go through with it.  As a result, I end up with 2,354,998 almost-empty bottles in my shower.  The other contributing factor is the fact that I get most of this stuff for free or almost-free at CVS and Walgreens or from my step-mom who always hooks me up with the best products.

So this is me, admitting my problem and attempting to deal with it.  But first I have to show you the evidence.

This is basket number one, containing three bottles of shampoo and four bottles of conditioner (the tiniest of which comes in my hair dye package, and I swear to goodness that if L'Oreal would just sell it individually they would make a killing.)  Plus there's a razor mounted to the wall next to it.

Basket number two adds one more bottle of conditioner (it's the mousse-looking bottle, and it has literally been in that same spot for two years), one bottle of body wash, two bottles of face wash, and my very favorite Kiehl's shaving cream in the back.  Plus three more razors.

These three are balancing precariously on the edge of the tub - one shampoo, one conditioner, and one clever marketing scheme in which Skintimate had me at "flirty mango."  I didn't even need shaving cream.

Two more (huge!) bottles of body wash plus another shampoo.  I can kind of justify this shampoo by saying that I only use it once a week to remove the residue from all the other shampoo that I use.  If that even makes sense.

These guys are on that bar at the top of the shower that no one uses because everything falls through.  I use it because I have to.  Count 'em up:  four bottles of conditioner and two bottles of shampoo.  And some unsolicited advice - don't buy Glisten products by Mop.  They're organic and all that jazz, but the conditioner's only really good for shaving my legs, and at $30 a pop, I'm pretty sure I can find cheaper shaving cream.

We're almost done, I promise.

Corner number three boasts one almost-empty bottle of bubble bath, one bottle of bath oil (shout out to Jaby's Bath Products!), and a to-die-for bottle of SkinCeuticals Micro Polish.  Marry me.

And last, but not least, we have the three bottles that made this mind-numbingly boring post possible - Victoria's Secret So Sexy Color Shampoo and Conditioner and Nourish Deep Conditioner.

For those of you keeping track, that's a grand total of eight bottles of shampoo, twelve bottles of conditioner, three bottles of body wash (plus the soap I didn't include a picture of), two containers of shaving cream, four razors, two bottles of face wash, one bottle of bubble bath, one bottle of bath oil, and one bottle of micropolish.  

And what makes this all even more ridiculous is that I have a linen closet full to the brim of more of this stuff... just waiting for me to find the courage to throw some of these almost-empty bottles away and add more to my overcrowded tub.  Apparently, the moral of the story is that I need a bigger bathtub. :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The light...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Never have I believed this promise more than I do today. Because today I got a fantastic job offer in Dallas, and Micah and I can finally move home! It's with a wonderful litigation boutique firm, and I'll be doing patent litigation work with a great group of people.

I just keep marveling at the Lord's goodness. At His wisdom. At His master planning.

Back in October I wrote this. I felt rejected and scared, but the Lord promised me that, even though I couldn't see it yet, He was leading me through the darkness to the light, and I just did my best to trust Him, though I certainly failed at that more times than I care to admit.

And it's funny because I was worried about the fellowship with the US Attorney's Office and the timing with that if I got this job offer. And then it randomly fell through.

And a clerkship opportunity with a judge in Houston opened up last week, but I just kept dragging my feet in applying, even though I couldn't articulate why. And every time I tried to open the application online, my computer froze. (How's that for divine intervention? :)) I finally decided to go ahead and apply, found a different version of the application, and I actually had the packet all ready to go. I was literally about to head out the door to mail it when I got the call from the firm this morning.

Apparently, God's plans are always bigger and better than mine. :)

So thank you all for your prayers and kind words. You'll probably never know how much they lifted me up.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cutesy, girly stuff...

My step-dad picked up this magnet for me for a birthday present, and I loved it. I just thought it was (1) clever and (2) so me. So I googled like a champ and found the designer's website and so many other cute things here.

I love things like this, and I'm fighting the urge to order every variety of sticky notes they sell!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy birthday to me!

So I turned 25 years old today. It seems so surreal, and I keep wondering when I went from being an awkward, precocious ten year-old girl to a 25 year-old adult with a law degree. It almost feels like time travel or something.

And when I woke up this morning my nerdy science brain thought about the fact that twenty five years is a quarter of a century. That's half of half of a century. And, technically, you can round up at a half, so I might as well be fifty. And, well, fifty... that's half of 100. And if we round that one up, I'm at 100 and can practically feel my hair turning gray.

But, if I'm being honest, there's a part of me that can't wait to be old. I know it's strange, but I just have these visions of me and Micah, sitting on a wraparound porch in matching rocking chairs, watching the sunset together and holding hands.

But enough with the old folk talk. :)

We did keep it pretty low-key around here today, but the day was still fairly eventful. Here are a few of the highlights.

1. My handsome husband got up early to make me breakfast and blow up balloons. As I walked into the dining room and saw the kitchen table, I almost fell over laughing.

Apparently Micah just grabbed the first package of pink balloons he could find and didn't bother reading the words printed on them. But as my friend pointed out, he wasn't totally off base, as we were celebrating the day I was born, and I am a girl... :)

2. After church, I turn on my phone and see a voicemail from my brother.

"I can't believe you haven't called to wish me a happy half-birthday yet," he says. (We were born exactly 2 1/2 years apart.) Isn't he so charming? :)

3. When we get home from church, we whipped up a quick lunch, and as we're sitting down to eat I say to Micah "I can't believe I'm twenty-five."

"Well, you are," Micah replies.

"But I don't feel twenty-five," I say.

"Well, you look twenty-five," he says.

I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

4. I saved the best thing for last! My step-brother and Dana had their little boy today! His name is Deegan, and he's just about the cutest thing you ever saw!

I'm so happy that I get to share my birthday with such an adorable little man! And when he's all grown up and celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday like I am today, I'll be... oh my goodness let's just save that math for another day, shall we?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The good news... and the bad.

The good news is that I spent the past two days in Dallas and had a great time with my family. I spent the first night with my mom and stepdad, and my mom and I went to dinner and saw Eat Pray Love together. I adore Julia Roberts, so I would have enjoyed the movie no matter what, but I have to say that it wasn't nearly as good as the book. There's something about the author's (incredibly clever and wonderful) writing style that didn't translate very well to the movie screen. But I enjoyed my time with my mom anyway. :)

The next night, I had dinner with my dad, stepmom, brother and sister-in-law for an early birthday celebration (I turn 25 on Sunday...). Faith and my brother (well, probably mostly Faith) got me Pioneer Woman's cookbook for my birthday, and I can't wait to cook all of the wonderful recipes inside!

So that's the good news. The bad news is that, on my way back to Houston, I got a big, fat speeding ticket. Apparently I was going 81 in a 60 zone. Oops! So it looks like I'll be forking over $300 and spending a few hours learning how to drive defensively sometime soon.

Also, I found out today that the fellowship with the US Attorney's Office here in Houston fell through. For a lot of frustrating reasons that I won't bore you with, they were unable to get my background check completed in enough time for me to be able to participate in the fellowship. But, honestly, I'm just trusting that the Lord has things taken care of, and I'm just trying to stay out of His way. :)

So the first half of my drive back to Houston was pretty crappy, but the second half was much better.

I stopped at the Jack-in-the-Box in Centerville for a bathroom break and a quick lunch, and I got in line in between a teenage boy and a seventy year-old cattle rancher in overalls. The young guy was first in line, and he was flirting with the cashier. When she told him that he owed $11.65, he pulled two five-dollar bills out of his pocket and said that he'd have to run out to his car to grab some more money. We all smiled at each other awkwardly as he ran out to his car.

When he came back in he handed the cashier $1.15 in change, looked at the cash register, and said "Oh crap! I didn't grab enough money! Let me go get some more." I grabbed two quarters out of my purse and handed them to the cashier. The kid smiled at me, said "Thanks!" and continued flirting with the cashier.

After I placed my order, I walked over to fill my kid-size cup with diet coke (I have to ration my liquid intake on road trips or else I'll have to stop every thirty minutes to pee - my bladder is apparently the size of a five year old's). The adorable old man in the overalls had also ordered, and he came over to me with a handful of change.

"Was it fifty cents that you had to pay for that young man's meal?" he asked, in an adorable Texas drawl.

"Oh, please don't worry about it, sir. It was no problem at all," I replied.

"Well, how about we go halvsies?" he said with a smile, handing me a quarter.

I sensed that I'd offend him if I refused, so I took the quarter he offered.

My meal was ready, and as I grabbed my tacos and mini churros (don't judge me... they're delicious), I heard the old man talking about "working for the cows." It reminded me of my childhood, when my dad, uncle, and Papaw complained so much about the "damn cows" getting out of the fence that I started to believe that "damn cows" were a special breed.

As I walked out the door, the old man turned around and said, "You drive safe now, you hear?" I just loved how adorable and southern he was, and it made me wish I was driving toward my hometown instead of Houston. There definitely aren't enough adorable old men in overalls in this town. Nevertheless, for the rest of the drive, every time I glanced down at the quarter sitting in the bottom of my cup holder, I pictured Micah and me, fifty years from now, sitting on our front porch and holding hands. I couldn't help but smile. :)

And, speaking of Micah, the very best news of all is that today is the eight-year anniversary of the day that Micah and I started dating. What a wonderful day that was! You can click here to read about how my cute husband won me over.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meal Planning Monday

Here's what we're eating in the Hargrave house this week!

Monday:  Chicken Cacciatore and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday:  Kitchen Closed.

Wednesday:  Kitchen Closed.

Thursday:  BBQ Ranch Chicken and Cheddar Roll-Ups and Jalapeno Cream Corn

Friday:  Double Dressing Pasta Salad and fresh fruit.

Saturday Breakfast:  PW's Cinnamon Toast

Saturday Dinner:  Taco Salad and Corn Dip

Sunday Breakfast:  Breakfast sandwiches

Sunday Dinner:  Leftovers

Mexico in pictures...

So I think I'm finally recuperated from my very relaxing Riviera Maya vacation. Isn't it funny how I've been plopped on a beach for eight days straight, doing nothing all day long, but I somehow still felt worn out when I got back home? Ahh, vacation. :)

Needless to say, we had an incredible time. The resort was wonderful, the beach was gorgeous, and the food was delicious.

Let's just start at the beginning. The trip over was smooth and easy - minus the disaster we had before we left when the vet wouldn't vaccinate Fluffy, so we couldn't board her. My perfect friend, Kristen, came to the rescue and saved the day. Thanks again, Kristen!  So after we dropped Lilly off at the boarder, we headed to the airport.

The flight itself was just fine - we sat next to this adorable girl from California who entertained us the whole flight. We had a prearranged shuttle to take us to the resort when we got to the Cancun airport, and when we drove up and saw the beautiful lobby and the gorgeous view, we knew we wouldn't be disappointed.

We stayed at the Karisma El Dorado Casitas Royale, which is kind of a resort within a resort, and this place was MASSIVE. Like so big they had golf cart "shuttles" running every 20 minutes to take you where you want to go.  This was one of the only things I didn't like about the hotel - it was just too big for us.

After we checked in, our personal concierge (who arranged everything for us while we were there) took us to our room, and this guy met us at the door.  These lizards were EVERYWHERE. 

Our room was wonderful.  We were originally booked for an individual "casita," but they upgraded us to a swim-up room.  At first we thought we might have preferred the individual room, but we ended up loving having the pool right outside our patio in addition to the ocean view.  The room itself was lovely.  The bed had mosquito netting all around it, which made it super romantic.

And my favorite part of the room was this gigantic jacuzzi.  I couldn't get a picture that really made clear how big it was, but I told Micah that when we eventually build a house, he has to put one of these in for me.  I don't care if that means we have to have a whole extra hot water heater just to fill it up. :)

In addition to the jacuzzi and the regular bathtub and shower, the room had an outdoor shower with an open roof, as well!

The water came out of the branches, and the window looks into the jacuzzi nook.  I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the shower, but I loved it - there was just something about being able to look up and see the sky that was just so refreshing.

Here's a picture of the swim-up pool outside our patio.

We really enjoyed the swim-up pool.  By early afternoon, the entire pool was shaded, and we could go out there when we needed a little relief from the sun.  Here's what the room and pool look like from the outside.

After we got settled into the room, we went out and scoped out the beach.  We didn't have to walk far to find it!

The beach was gorgeous.  The white sand and turquoise water were exactly what we wanted, plus the beach was rocky.  Again, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd like that, but we ended up loving it.  The rocks just made swimming in the beach feel more like an adventure. :)

Here we are on our first day there - loving the beach and sand!

(Pardon my Pippi Longstocking look... I kept my hair in braids the whole trip.)

And check out this picture of Micah.  I loved that I could see the beach in his glasses. :)

Here's a picture of the saltwater pool.  We didn't swim in it much, but I thought it was a neat idea.


So that's the hotel and the beach, and honestly that's where we spent almost all of our time.  We would get up in the morning and go have breakfast.  Then we'd come back, slather ourselves in SPF 50, and head out to the beach.  They had these palapas lining the beach, and we never had any trouble finding one to lay on.

I loved just laying by the water and relaxing.  True to form, I brought several books with me, and I finished three while we were there. :)  I hopped on the bandwagon and read Eat Pray Love, and I really enjoyed it.  The author and I definitely disagree about our religious beliefs, but it was very interesting to read about her spiritual journey.  

In the afternoon, after splashing around in the water for a few hours, we'd grab lunch at one of the many restaurants the hotel offered.  Then, we'd either go back to the beach or head back to the room and play around in the pool.  One day we played pool volleyball with a few other people we met while we were there, and I can proudly say that I haven't lost my touch.  :)

After swimming in the pool in the afternoons, we'd go back to the room, get cleaned up, and head to dinner.  And let me just tell you... the food was incredible. (I know I sound like a salesperson, but it really was amazing.)

Our favorites were the Italian and Asian restaurants.  In addition to the yummy lobster lasagna and beef tenderloin, the Italian restaurant served the most scrumptious, ooey gooey flourless chocolate cake I've ever tasted.  I'm drooling just thinking about it!  Micah loved the Asian place and even tried (and fell in love with!) sushi there.  I have a feeling he'll be craving sushi for awhile like I did when I first discovered that I loved it.

The resort offered entertainment at night, and Micah and I went to the first part of one of the shows, but we were honestly just so exhausted from all the sun that we were ready for bed around 9:30 every night.  We're old, I know.

We did actually leave the resort one day (shocking, I know) to go see Tulum, an ancient Mayan city, and Xel Ha, a natural waterpark. 

Tulum was beautiful.  It was hot, but I'm glad we went to see it. 

I can't remember what this building used to be, but I thought it was beautiful.  And check out the Mayans' view of the beach from the top of the cliff the city was built on.


We spent the afternoon at Xel Ha, which was basically just an inlet carved out of the sea.  It was perfect for snorkeling, and we saw so many fish, as well as a few stingrays and several dolphins!

When we got back to the resort, we were wiped out (and very sunburned), but it was a very fun day.

The next day, we had our first exposure to the timeshare pitches which are apparently very common down there.  Our concierge told us that if we went and listened to this guy give us his schpeal that we'd get a free hour-long massage.  We were curious and very interested in the prospect of a free massage, so we went.  

And, honestly, it wasn't too bad.  This guy wasn't super pushy, and when we made it clear that we weren't buying anything, he sent us on our way with our free massage certificates.  We did the massages on Friday, the day before we left.  They felt wonderful, although I'm sure Micah would have enjoyed his more if his therapist hadn't been a big, burly guy.  :)

That night, we got one last sushi fix at the Asian restaurant and went back to our room to pack up.  On our last day, I got up early and walked down to the beach with my camera to capture some pictures of the beautiful sunrise, but my camera was so fogged up from the humidity that I couldn't take any.  Oh well - I'll always remember it. :)

The trip home was just as smooth as the trip there.  I was practically giddy as we were driving up to the boarder to pick up Lilly - I can't even describe how much I missed her.  I should have taken pictures of her jumping all over us when she saw us; it was absolutely precious.

So we made it home, got unpacked, and have done several loads of laundry already (including one in which I accidentally dyed Micah's white swim trunks pink... oops).  Now I've got a few weeks before I start my fellowship with the US Attorney's Office to clean this house.  I still haven't caught up from the bar exam craziness, and I'm ready for this house to feel clean again. :)

And I've finally got time to start meal planning again.  I'll post this week's menu later today! 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We're HOME!!

We got back home from Mexico today, and we're EXHAUSTED! But we had such an amazing time... I'll definitely write more soon. For now, I'm plopped on the couch with my sweet husband and loving on my precious puppy, and I have BIG plans tonight: do absolutely nothing. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Who wants a Keurig?

Head on over here to enter Stretching a Buck's Keurig giveaway! I've heard such great things about them, and I just think it would make me feel cooler to have one.

I could always use some extra cool points. :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Target savings...

I haven't been couponing much in the last month or so. I've just been too busy with the bar exam to really sit down and plan out my purchases. As a result, we've been way over budget on our groceries for the last few weeks. So today I headed over to Target to see what deals I could find.

Here's what I got.

My total was $4.65!!

The three red and white boxes on the right are travel first aid kits. I mostly just needed more band-aids, so I figured I'd go ahead and get them since they were free after coupons.

For most of the deals, I just paired coupons I had from the newspaper with a good sale. But for the DiGiorno pizzas, go here (if you're on Facebook) and print out a $2/1 coupon. (Use the back button on your browser to print two.) After the coupons, the pizzas will be completely free! :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just a few more days...

... and we'll be in MEXICO! :) I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to get away. So I won't try. Instead, I'll tell you what I've been up to for the past few days.

I left Houston on Sunday to spend a few days in Dallas. Micah didn't come with me because he had to work, but it was so nice to see my family and friends after two months of hibernation.

PLUS, I spent Monday night with some great girlfriends watching The Bachelorette finale. Who else was just ecstatic that Ali picked Roberto?? I mean, I hate to brag, but I totally called it. :)

AND, I've gotten some news this week on the job development front. I don't want to say too much and jinx it, but I'm definitely excited and hopeful, and I covet your prayers. I promise to keep you updated when I find out more.

So the trip was great, but the drive back to Houston was eventful, as I experienced my very first blowout. At first I was incredibly frustrated, but then I became very thankful that it happened just as I was getting out of Mesquite and that my Daddy was able to come and rescue me.

Alright, I'm sorry this is short (actually, after all the ridiculously long posts lately, you're probably thankful), but I'm going to unpack and get some laundry going and play with my sweet puppy. I hope you're all surviving this heat. I'm so ready for December.
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