Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting to know all about me...

This week's Confessional Friday topic over at A Blonde Ambition (one of my very faves!) was too fun to pass up.  I always love "meeting" new blog friends, and I know some of you guys are new around these parts, so I thought I'd do a little introduction post and join in on the fun.  

So... I'm Ryan.

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Hi there!

I'm the brunette behind the blog.  It's hard to believe I've been writing since 2008, back when I was a law student living in Houston, engaged to my high school sweetheart and planning a wedding.  I only ever intended for this space to be a way for me to keep in touch with my family (who all lived back in Dallas where I'm from) and never imagined I'd still be typing away here eight (!) years later.

In case you wondered, we did, in fact, make it down the aisle.

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Our marriage is a thing I treasure above almost all else, and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I managed to land this handsome, generous, selfless, kind, gentle, godly, genius, INCREDIBLE man.  (And did I mention that he's handsome?)

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I mean, right???

And I eventually graduated law school, so we moved back to Dallas in 2010, where I began a career I love as a patent litigation attorney ("Those are the scariest kind of lawyer." Name that movie!).

After we had been married for about four years, we decided that we were ready to take a leap of faith and try and have a baby.  Approximately a year later, I was holding the most beautiful baby girl in my arms.

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Our daughter, Grace, was born on April 17, 2013, and she is the light of our lives.  And, quite possibly, the cutest little girl on the planet.

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In case you don't believe me...

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She's a little over nine months, and we're having a blast being parents.  So far, at least... ;)

At the core of my being, I am a follower of Christ, a hopeless optimist, a yoga pants enthusiast, a recovering Diet Coke addict, a lover of all things delicious, a creature of comfort, a wannabe world traveler, and a searcher of silver linings.

This blog is the place where I come to share about our little lives.  I write about pretty much everything, but you'll read a lot about:

My sweet girl and gorgeous man... our travels... my experiences growing up in a small town... my love of all the delicious food (and, thus, my attempts at losing weight)... my adventures in decorating our home (I'm a self-proclaimed Pottery Barn addict)... my journey in Christ... some beauty-related things... Harry Potter... etc.

My goal is always to be exactly who I am here:  nothing more, and nothing less.

Thanks for stopping by, and if you blog, link up with Leslie and let me know where you are so that I can come say hello!  (If you don't blog, leave a comment anyway.  Maybe I can talk you into starting! :))

Thursday, January 30, 2014

#14: gamble in Vegas

*** First of all, I can't thank you guys enough for your sweet comments in response to Tuesday's post.  Seriously.  Y'all are the very best.  Mimi's still in ICU for now, and I will definitely keep you all updated on her progress.***

You guys thought I had forgotten to tell you about our Vegas trip, didn't you?

I totally did.  

But then I remembered.  That counts for something, I say.

Truthfully, you weren't missing out on anything scandalous.  Micah and I are so very un-Vegas, so we kept things pretty tame.  We mostly just ate a lot of (admittedly overpriced) food and walked up and down the strip.  I sometimes remembered to bring my big camera, but I often forgot.  So here's what I ended up with.

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As we were flying over portions of the Grand Canyon, I made Micah get my camera out of the overhead bin so that I could snap a few shots through the window.

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Isn't it insane?

I'm not sure why I wasn't expecting this part of the country to be so beautiful, but I was enamored.  For a girl who lives in a place where everything is flat, the mountains were just breathtaking.

Enough with the landscape.  You want slot machines.

When we landed, we headed to the Hilton Elara.  (In exchange for our excellently-priced, fabulously large hotel room, we had to sit through a timeshare pitch, which was fairly entertaining.)

This was the living room portion of our suite.

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It had electric shades and a projector TV, plus a kitchen and a jacuzzi in the bedroom.  Ha.

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Our view gave us another peek at the mountains, which surrounded the city.  Again... insane.  (I feel sure that those of you who live in this kind of a landscape probably take it for granted, but take it from me... it really is beautiful.)

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(Well, hello there.)

We basically just dropped off our stuff in our room and then headed back downstairs to go explore.  The Elara is connected to the Miracle Mile shops, which were fun.

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(Loved the fake sky ceiling.)

Since it was already dark outside, I didn't think it'd be worth lugging my camera around, so I didn't.  Sorry for the iPhone pictures, y'all.

The first stop was The Bellagio.  Obviously.

In Terry Benedict's hotel, someone's always watching.

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The fountains were every bit as wonderful as I had imagined.  The first time we saw them, "Luck Be a Lady" was playing, which was just perfect.  And I felt so Ocean's Eleven, it's not even funny.

When we walked inside, I snapped a shot of the incredible Chihuly display in the entrance.

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So beautiful.

We walked around and took it all in.  The only casinos I've ever seen were dark and dank and smoky and nothing like the bright, beautiful, coffered-ceilinged extravagance of the Bellagio.

We had dinner at Fix, which was only okay.  Micah had steak, and I had scallops.

At this point, things get pitiful.  I was still battling a cold at that point, and a headache, my cold medicine, and the time difference hit me like a brick.  It was only 8:00, but I could barely keep my eyes open.  So we hightailed it back to the hotel.

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I managed to stay awake maybe another 30 minutes before I crashed.  (I do realize that this makes me an eighty year-old.)

The next morning, we woke up and headed to Paris for breakfast.

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Vegas's version of the Eiffel Tower wasn't quite as impressive as the real thing.  But almost. ;)

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(Here it is at night.)

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Breakfast was the best meal of the trip:  Nutella waffles for me and blueberry french toast for Micah.  If you're ever in Vegas, you seriously have to have breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi.

After breakfast, we pretty much just people-watched and explored all of the hotels.

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Caesar's Palace was shockingly large.  It was so big that I got overwhelmed and didn't even go in.  This was unquestionably an error in judgment and a result of pure laziness and hunger.  Plus, why are there no benches along the strip?  Sometimes a girl just needs a minute to take it all in.

The strip really is a fun place to be.  The buildings are pretty to look at, and the people are... entertaining.  I never snapped any shots of all of the... performers, but people dressed up in costumes (most completely PG) lined the strip, soliciting money for pictures.  (And probably other things, although I never was able to identify any prostitutes.  I'm sure I saw them, but there were plenty of tourists dressed in next to nothing, particularly at night, so they blended in.)  There were tons of families because Vegas during the day really is pretty family-friendly.

For lunch, we went down to the other end of the strip to New York, New York.

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(This isn't the hotel - just a souvenir shop.)

This casino was really fun, with different areas corresponding to different parts of Manhattan.  We ate in Little Italy (which was a far cry from the actual Little Italy... ick).

After that, we had to head back to the hotel for the timeshare pitch.  After standing firm for nearly two hours, we rested a bit, got dressed, and headed back to the Bellagio for dinner again.  This time, we ate at Jasmine, which overlooks the fountains and boasts pretty good (yet still overpriced) Asian fusion.

After dinner, we made our way to the theater for the "O" Cirque du Soleil show.

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(We were making our O faces.  Get it??? Ha.)


It was one of the most incredible things I've ever seen.  I heard great things about most of the other Cirque shows in Vegas (a lot of recommendations for Love, but I'm not a huge Beatles fan), as well, but we picked O because it has a water element, and I had a sneaking suspicion that it'd be pretty epic.  It totally was.  The tickets were pricey, so be warned, but I thought it was more than worth it.

After dinner, it hit me that my 30 Before 30 list required me to actually gamble in Vegas.

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Mission accomplished!  We spent a grand total of $30 in the casino.  Ha.

We spent the rest of the evening (I think we may have made it to 10:30?) walking around, avoiding the plethora of people trying to hand out flyers for nightclubs and other adult establishments and services, and gawking at people.  We had an 8:00 flight in the morning, so we really wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

All in all, it was a very fun trip.  Vegas is a cool city, and I know it has so much more to offer than what we saw in a day and a half.  Maybe next time, we'll even venture past the strip. :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beauty and tears...

The last few days have been filled with such joy... and pain.

The joy is in this little beauty.

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Meet Blakely Georgia, y'all.  Niece #2 was born on Friday morning, just before noon.  She's teeny and perfect and cuddly as she could be, and we're all enamored.  Faith's labor went super smoothly and QUICKLYthey started the pitocin around 8:30, and Faith was pushing two and a half hours later!  Mom and baby are doing great, and I think big sister Stella is adjusting well, too. 

But even as my family revels in the wonder and beauty of a new, little life, we're also reminded of the inevitability of death.

My Mimi is very, very sick, friends.  The lung cancer has been rapidly making its way through her bones, and now it has spread to her brain.  I've been trying to write about Mimi for months now.  I've been trying to tell you all how confusing it has been and how heart-wrenching is it to see my firecracker of a grandmother in so much pain.  But the words never seemed adequate, and so I just couldn't write them.  

Now I'll just shamelessly solicit your prayers.  Mimi had a massive seizure on Friday (which led to the CT scan that revealed the lesions on her brain), and she's currently in the ICU, hopefully getting strong enough to head to hospice at some point.

There's no question that my Lord is big and powerful enough to take it all away.  But I also believe that He may intend to give her peace and bring her home with Him.  So I just seek His will, whatever it may be.  Wherever He leads, I'll go.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One more chapter... or not.

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... or two-thirty in the morning, to be more precise.  And usually I'm mad when I do this, but I'll sport the dark circles and my pitiful, still-wet top knot with joy today because Ender's Game was totally worth it.  I plopped in the bath tub at 9:00 p.m. and didn't get out until 2:45 a.m. (because after I emptied cold water and re-filled the bathtub with hot water approximately ten times before I finished the book, I actually had to take a bath) because I couldn't. put. it. down.  I'm now sort of dead-set on making the movie happen this weekend.

I think I need to take a break from books for a minute.  I clearly can't be trusted with them.

Can we also talk about how I'm going to be made an aunt the third time over sometime tomorrow?  My beautiful, fabulous, red-headed sister-in-law is being induced in the morning, and I seriously canNOT wait to meet my new niece.  I remember with so much fondness the wonder and excitement and LOVE I felt when Stella was born, and I know it'll be the very same with Blakely.  

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me and Stella Bella, kicking it like buds the day she was born, image by Lauren Ammerman Photography

Plus, Faith has had crazy heartburn throughout her pregnancy, which totally equals a head full of hair (at least in my experience), and I will unashamedly say that I've got my fingers crossed that it's RED! :)  (But I promise I'll still love you to the moon and back, Blakely, even if it's not!)

So if you've got a spare moment, please lift these girls (and my poor brother - he is about to be officially SO outnumbered!) up in prayer!  I'll love you forever.  Pinkie promise. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A little ritual...

My office and Gracie's daycare were closed yesterday, so we spent the day in our PJs playing and giggling and snuggling.  (And I squeezed as much work as I could during naps because it was just one of those days.  Law firms never really close, even when the doors are locked.)

I got caught up on Downton Abbey and... Keeping Up with the Kardashians (yes, I do realize that I'm what's wrong with America).  I did not watch The Bachelor because, for the first time in SEVEN YEARS, I have zero desire to tune in on Monday nights.  None.  And I'm pretty okay with it.

What I'm not okay with?

How ridiculously adorable this little girl is when her daddy plays peekaboo with her from upstairs.

I mean, ridiculous, right?  That little giggle just kills me.  I hope the sight of her parents always makes her so happy.  (Although I have a feeling we'll be getting entirely different looks from her in about twelve years.)

It hit me yesterday that we're only three months away from her first birthday.  After I stopped sobbing (totally kidding... or not), I realized that I'd probably better start planning her party.  I'm not super theme-y, so we'll probably just pick some colors, order a cake, and call it a day.  Someone punch me if I start getting silly.  I always told myself that big, elaborate soirees for one-year-old children were needless and that I'd never drop thousands on a party she won't remember.  But dadgum, y'all.  I spent, like, an hour last night looking at paper straws.  PAPER STRAWS.  Save me.

I also wanted to share this little thing I've been doing every day since the start of the new year.

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I've been jotting down just a short, sweet thought each day in the notepad feature on my iPhone.  Every week, I email them to myself, and I'm hoping I'll have 52 weeks' worth of thoughts at the end of the year.  With respect to compiling them all together, I'm contemplating a paper journal, a Project Life notebook, or a photobook (inserting photos in between some of the entries seems like a nice touch).  But mostly I'm just trying to stick with it each day.  Do any of you have fun, little rituals like this?

Alright, friends.  Go forth and make it fabulous Tuesday.  Or something like that. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book recommendations...

I read three books this weekend.  I haven't devoured books like that since I first read The Hunger Games, probably.  But I seriously couldn't stop reading these.

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They're sort of Hunger Games-esque, and you seriously won't be able to put them down.  Love.

I've actually read several great books that I've forgotten to share with you guys.  So if you're in desperate need of something to read, here are my suggestions.

1.  The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth.  (Also Hunger Games-esque.  Dystopian society, heroic teenage girl, mysterious boy.  Great, great read.  And the first movie is coming out soon, too!)

2.  The Diviners by Libba Bray.  (Dark magic, set in the 1920s in Manhattan.  A little creepy and murder-y, but very good.  It's a series, and only the first book is available, so be prepared to wait for the next one!)

3.  The Giver by Lois Lowry.  (This is an older book.  It's short and sweet, but I could NOT put it down.)

4.  The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray.  (Dark-ish magic, set in the late 1800s in London at an all-girls boarding school.  Love.)

5.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. (More magic.  Two teenage magicians.  Love story.  Fabulously engaging.)

6.  The Oracle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley.  (Historical novel set in 17th century France.  Also magic-y.  It's about a young girl who discovers that she can see the future.  I read it on the plane to Paris, and I couldn't put it down.)

7.  The Eragon Series (The Inheritance Cycle) by Christopher Paolini.  (Of all the books on this list, these are by far my favorites.  I only put them last on the list because I've recommended them several times before.  They're just so incredibly well-written.  I think of them as being sort of a cross between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  They're about a teenage boy who finds a dragon egg and discovers that he's capable of doing magic alongside his dragon.  They follow his story through many battles and tribulations.  They're seriously epic - go buy them now!)

All of these books are quality reads and very well-written.  I'm super picky about what I will spend my time on, so rest assured I won't lead you astray. :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A semi-spending freeze...

I've decided that I'm putting myself on a semi-spending freeze.  It's semi in that I'm still allowed to go out for lunch and drink Starbucks.  (Because how could I survive at work without my bi-weekly skinny peppermint mochas?)  

But NO SHOPPING.  Absolutely none until at least the end of the month.  

Because we stupidly waited until we switched Grace to Micah's insurance (with cheaper premiums but crappier coverage and a higher deductible) and until the new year (so we have to meet our deductible all over again) to have Grace's tubes put in.  And then, you know, we had to blow a few grand on new shocks for my car.  That was super fun.

So no. more. shopping.  It's up to you guys to keep me on the straight and narrow. :)

But no one said you guys couldn't shop...

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(Awkward selfie.  Taking pictures of myself makes me so stupidly uncomfortable.)

Micah got me this infinity scarf for Christmas (he broke our no presents rule), and I'm in love.  It's so cozy, and the buttons are super fun.  I feel sure you could find something similar for cheaper, but I haven't yet seen anything like this with buttons.

While we're on that subject.  Does anyone else have a Pinterest board dedicated solely to helping your spouse buy you things that you actually want?  I titled this one "Hey Micah" and sent him the link about a year ago.  Subtlety is not my strong suit... :)

That was pretty much all I wanted to tell you guys today.  I'll just be over here, lamenting the fact that I decided to implement my spending freeze while Gap is offering 50% off sale prices and 40% off regular prices.  I'm not desperately trying to convince myself that Grace wouldn't be the CUTEST thing ever in this pink anchor dress, or anything.  No way.  I'm fine.  Totally and completely fine...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Since we last chatted...

... we survived Vegas!
I'll have a post with all the details soon, but it probably goes without saying that we had a blast.  A predictably straight-laced, rated PG blast, but a blast nonetheless. :)

... Gracie got tubes. 
We went in bright and early yesterday morning, and Miss Priss was a happy little camper when they took her back for surgery.  She was not a happy camper when they brought her back to us.  She cried for pretty much an hour straight after the surgery until she finally passed out in my arms and napped for three hours.

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She was apparently not a fan of the anesthesia.  Thank goodness she woke up happy.

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She still cries out every time she burps, but other than that, she is as good as new.  The surgery went perfectly, and we're praying we'll be ear infection-free for good!

... we had some bed head.

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I crack up every time I look at this picture.  First, the hair.  Obviously.  This is seriously how she woke up from her nap last week, and I just died laughing when I walked into her bedroom and saw her grinning from ear to ear.  Plus, look at her chubby feet!  And the arm rolls!  I could just eat her up...

... we perfected our doggy paddle.

Pardon my man voice.  This was the day I lost it, and I seriously sound like a robot.  I'm still not feeling 100%, and I'm thinking I might should go see a real doctor about this icky cough that won't quit.

... we paid off my car.  And then spent nearly $4,000 fixing it.
I was so excited to pay off my car with my Christmas bonus, y'all.  It was such a huge burden lifted off my chest.... aaaaand then the shocks (and the accompanying electrical system) went out.  That's life, I suppose.  I'll just be thankful I have a car to drive at all.

So that's what we've been doing.  What have you guys been up to?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pity party...

I am presently sitting up in bed, covered with approximately seventeen blankets (and still freezing), surrounded by Kleenex, and feeling like death warmed over.  Lilly's looking over at me with pity, and I'm cursing my clearly deficient immune system.  

I don't know exactly what it is that I have.  The Teledoc doctor seemed to think it was just a cold, but the body aches and chills sort of make me not believe him.  Hopefully whatever it is will disappear by Friday, because Micah and I are supposed to be headed to Vegas.  If you know us in real life, you probably recognize what a funny thing it is that we're headed to Sin City, given that we don't really drink, gamble, party, or stay up late.  But I put it on my 30 Before 30 list, so by golly, we're going!  I'm sure we'll manage to find a way to have a little fun. :)

For now, I'm just hanging out and practicing the power of positive thinking.  And feeling thankful that I work at a place where I can work from home on days like these.  

I'll check in soon, loves.  Stay well and warm and snuggly!  And think of me as you breathe through your nose without any trouble.  I'll just be over here dreaming of a day when I don't sound like a pug when I breathe.  Sweet dreams...

Thursday, January 2, 2014


You know you're old when you find yourself ringing in the new year in your sweatpants, curled up on the couch watching Friends re-runs on Nick at Nite.   But you really know you're old when you don't even make it to the Friends re-runs because you fell asleep at 9:30.

And I'm not even a little bit sorry because it really was the perfect way to end 2013.   

I had chosen "Grace" as my word of the year for 2013.  Obviously a nod to our sweet baby girl, but also as a reminder for me to dig into God's grace and to pour that grace out onto others.  And I definitely did those things.  I felt myself pulling away from the criticism and negativity that had started to creep into my life during the utter chaos that was 2012.  

But what ended up being the most beautiful surprise was that, as the months went by, I began to give myself some grace.  As I became a mother and was attempting to learn how to juggle so many different roles in a way that didn't leave me frustrated and disappointed in myself, I began to realize -- and to appreciate -- that I will never be anyone except myself.  

I am only Ryan.  A wife.  A mother.  A lawyer.  A clumsy, forgetful, awkward, hot mess of a girl who talks too loudly and drives poorly.  I'm always going to be a terrible gift-giver, a hopeless romantic, and a lover of music.  I have strengths, and I have weaknesses, and those strengths and weaknesses are different from those of my mother, my best friends, my co-workers, and the people whose lives look so shiny and beautiful to me on Facebook.

I was aware of these things, and even appreciated them, in the past.  But I think I truly embraced my individuality this past year in a way I hadn't done before.  I gave myself the grace to be who I am.  Nothing more, and nothing less.

So as 2013 came to a close, I began to ponder my word for 2014.  For me, the word I chose is the perfect extension of 2013 because it will help me focus on being who I am... on purpose.


I've actually seen "Intention" pop up on a few other blogs, and I love that so many others are thinking what I'm thinking.  Which is that life is more fun when you mean it.  

I sort of started on this path when I made my 30 Before 30 list in August.  Because I'm such a go-with-the-flow kind of girl, life tends to pass me by if I'm not paying attention.  Weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, and then I wake up six years later wondering how in the world I went from being a college student with a cute boyfriend to a mom with a law degree and a mortgage.  I mean, holy cow.  

So I'm declaring 2014 (and hopefully the years that follow) as the year that I lived my life with intention.  I'm going to intentionally follow my God, serve my husband, play with my daughter, enjoy my family, and laugh with my friends.  I'm going to intentionally jump into this beautiful life that I live and stir up some dust.  Because I know I'll regret it if I don't.

Bring it on, 2014.  This girl is ready for you.  
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