A Modern Day Fairy Tale: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tagged!!!

I was tagged by Beth Ann @ My Life More Abundant! Go check out her blog, it's wonderful!!!

Rules
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you've tagged them
6. Tag 11 people

11 Randoms About ME:

1. I'm a vegetarian, and have been since I was about 13. (I only eat fish.) I am the only vegetarian in my family. I come from a family of hunters and meat eaters...and I married a man who enjoys hunting (if he had time and lived in an area where he could!) and couldn't live without his steaks and ribs...and fried chicken. It makes meal planning in our household very interesting that's for sure!!

2. When I eat M&Ms, I have to save the red and blue for last. (My husband likes to come in and grab them and mess up my system too...argh!) For Skittles, I first eat yellow and green, then orange, then purple and finally the red. I also fold up my food wrappers neatly when I'm done too. Hmmm...is that odd? (At the very least, it's certainly random.)

3. When people say they grew up in a small town that 'only had a Dairy Queen', I can't help but laugh. The town I grew up in had gravel roads, no stores, not even a post office!! We did have 2 churches at least!! Now that's a small town!!

4. I briefly considered going into youth ministry of some sort. I was basically 'unofficially' in charge of the youth at my home church for awhile during high school and I absolutely loved it, and truly miss it.

5. I have a bad habit of putting up picture frames before I have a photo for them, to make sure it looks okay where I want to put it...then leaving it there and forgetting to change the picture! I am getting better about it- only 2 up like this at the moment!!

6. I am a direct sales junkie. Ha! Okay, you all know I sell Thirty-One Gifts. I'm also a Scentsy addict- warmers in every room, plus some stored away and over 100 bars too. The majority of my makeup is a combination of Mary Kay and Avon. Some of my favorite kitchen items are Pampered Chef (though I have only a few things, not nearly as much as I'd like). And I have a mile long wish list from Blessings Unlimited (to the point I almost need to sign up just for the discount...kidding...kind of. Haha!) Seriously though, I love my direct sales company and knowing that my money is going directly to help someone other than some big CEO is pretty wonderful too!!

7. The number one played song on my iPhone is 'I'm Gonna Love You Through It' by Martina McBride, for my mom! Some others on the top played list: 'White Lines' (and several others) by Alexz Johnson, 'Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)' by Chris Tomlin, 'Held' by Natalie Grant, 'When God Made You' by Newsong and Natalie Grant, 'We Live' by Superchick, 'Drops of Jupiter' by Train and 'Just a Kiss' by Lady Antebellum.

8. My name was originally supposed to be Erica, but my parents changed their mind and went with Randi instead. This is especially funny because one of my very best friends is named Erica and is marrying a Matt. It's probably best they changed their minds...the Matts can get confusing enough as it is!!

9. I have 2 scars. One under my lip, from crashing my bike on a gravel road when I was younger...my options were headfirst into the creek or eat the gravel...I ate gravel. The other is from having my belly button pierced. The hole is gone, but the scar is still there!! (Most people seem to be very surprised to find I ever had it to begin with!)

10. I love redecorating...I'm constantly changing things around. It's one of the things I look forward to most about moving!!

11. At 24 years old, I still love the Disney Channel, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! (And yes, we most definitely had the DVR set to record the final Wizards of Waverly Place, and watched anxiously to find out who would be the family wizard. ha!)

Beth Ann's Questions:

1. What is your favorite thing about yourself?
Hmm, physically, back and collar bone. (I know, I'm odd...who says that?)
Personality, I think I have a lot of quirky traits (such as the above random facts!), and I hope that those make me loveable at least!!

2. You're at Starbucks. What do you order?
Frozen Mocha Frappucino

3. Favorite place to shop for yourself?
For clothing, I love the style of Ann Taylor Loft and Gap, but have a hard time finding things in both places that fit (and they're super pricey too!). So, American Eagle is my go to...and Target too!! If my budget allowed, I'd love to have just about every dress from Shabby Apple, and several from Unique Vintage too!!

4. What was the last book you read?
Last book I finished was 'The Road Trip', that I just did the review on. I'm currently about halfway through 'House of Secrets', the final of my review books before the big move. And then I've got a collection of not-for-review Nicholas Sparks books I'm very excited to get to!!

5. Have you ever met a "blogging friend" in real life?
I don't believe so. I have met friends whom I originally met online in person (like my husband!), but not that I've met through my blog!!

6. Favorite food?
That's a tough one! I think it kind of depends on my mood. I love cajun foods. Shrimp Po Boys. Fish Tacos. Sour Cream Enchiladas. Potato Soup. Coconut Cake...seriously, the list goes on!!

7. Do you have a motto or favorite quote/saying? If so, share.
I have several favorites. Most are bible verses, all of which I've mentioned on here numerous times I think. Jeremiah 29:11. Philippians 4:13.
Some quotes I love:
"Different, Not Less."-Temple Grandin
"The woman is weak, but the mother is strong."- Korean Proverb
I'm sure there are a ton more. I love quotes!

8. Why do you blog?
I started this blog as a way to work past the writer's block that started about 6 years or so ago, when the story I'd been working on for 5 years was suddenly lost when my computer crashed. It has been a great creative outlet for me, as well as allowed me to keep my family across the family updated on us, and to raise awareness for Autism.

9. Favorite vacation spot?
We don't really do vacations, but I do have to say I love Disneyland!!!

10. Dream that you have yet to fulfill?
Write a novel, but that writer's block will have to go away first!!

11. Favorite room in your house?
In this house, I think my kitchen is probably my favorite, and certainly the most 'me'. It has a bit of a vintage look, or at least it's supposed to! Lots of red. My vintage Pyrex & cookbook collections. And a collection of WWII postcards, which not only serves to bring my husband into it, with his love of history and the military, but also represents my Great Great Uncle Theodore- a WWII Navy Vet and one of my biggest heroes, whom I miss dearly!!

My Questions for You:
1. What was your favorite book as a child/teenager?
2. What is your most visited website?
3. How did you meet your spouse/significant other?
4. Do you have any can't miss TV shows
5. If you have children, how did you come up with your child's name? If you don't have children, do you already have name ideas for future children?
6. What is your earliest memory?
7. Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? How?
8. What's your favorite bible verse and why? (If you're not religious, any other quote, etc you find inspiring?)
9. How would you describe your decorating style?
10. If you had $5000 to spend, but could only choose one store, what store would you pick? What would you buy?
11. And a hot topic question- Chili: noodles, no noodles? How do you make your chili?

Tag, You're It!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: The Road Trip by Jo Lynn Crozier


From the Publisher:

Liz always felt God beside her, but she never thought she would be in His passenger seat! In this humorous, heartfelt adventure story, God invites an ordinary woman to travel with him on a life-changing road trip. Along the way, they encounter fantastic beings, heavenly houses and extraordinary communities that Liz could never have imagined. But this is no vacation. Liz soon realized there was a lot she didn’t understand about God, the world and her role as a Christian.

God has a lot to teach Liz, and underneath all the whimsy is a deeper spiritual message with real-life applications. Will she be able to comprehend all this new wisdom – and will she have the courage to accept the challenging mission God charges her with? Buckle up and join God and Liz on the journey of a lifetime.

My thoughts:

To say this was a very unique book, would be a complete understatement. Before starting this, I wasn't sure what to expect based on the description. I was certainly surprised to find that God was literally (physically) behind the wheel of this road trip. Our main character Liz is LITERALLY on a road trip with God, going to various locations that all serves as great analogies for various aspects of our Christian life. For instance, one of the very first points they come across on this road trip is a point where there are two parallel roads to take, one that looked easy and had no tolls, and another gravel and full of potholes with a tollbooth, with a one time toll- to accept Jesus as their savior- and storehouses along the route where all their needs will be provided. In this part of the story, it reads very much like the fictional tale it is, but at the end of each chapter, it basically sums everything up, offers various biblical references, etc and reads more like a nonfiction, or an insightful sermon. It's certainly a unique take on things and something I enjoyed reading for the most part. I will admit though, at some points it got to be a bit too much for me and I had to take breaks from reading. It was written beautifully and in such a way that made sense out of topics that can be very confusing, but I found for my personal taste it was better in small doses, not the whole book all at once. It is certainly worth reading though, regardless of where one is with their faith, it offers a new, very creative outlook on things!!

You can find out more information, or purchase this book here!

Monday, January 23, 2012

California Dreamin'

Later this week (Thursday to be exact), we will find out where we will be stationed next. Believe it or not during our 5 years of marriage, this will be our first real move. In fact, in his 8 years in the Marine Corps, my husband has always been stationed here. Pretty crazy for the military right? We are excited and hopeful that we will be moving closer to home, but for me, living in California has truly been a dream come true.



When I was in high school, I had many dreams: I wanted to be a published writer. I wanted to fall in love, have a family, etc. I wanted to model (Dream big, right?) Among those dreams one of the greatest was that I wanted to move to California. I don't know if it was because of the Hollywood glamour, or the many wonderful stories my Great Great Uncle Theodore had told me of his time stationed out here or maybe even my extreme phobia of the storms we were constantly seeing back home, but somehow I'd gotten it into my head that California was the dream place to live. I would get letters from Pepperdine, USC, etc inviting me to apply to their writing programs, and I would just wish I could afford to actually go to such great schools. But being from a small town in Indiana, it was a dream that seemed out of reach....

That is until a great friend, who knew of my love of California, informed me that her older brother lived there, and had said that we could visit him... after he came home from Iraq that is. Can anyone guess where this story is going yet? If you guessed that her brother was the man I would soon marry, you are absolutely right! Soon after, he saw my picture on Myspace, we started talking and fell in love. He returned from Iraq in October. we got engaged soon after, and in November I flew with my prince to California for the Marine Corps Ball (complete with 'glass' slippers) with only a small suitcase for what was supposed to be a short visit. Over 5 years later, and I'm still here and it has truly been amazing. We have been blessed with such wonderful experiences here and as we prepare for what are likely our last few months here, it is truly bittersweet to be leaving, but we are so excited to see where this new adventure takes us and what new dreams will come true there.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes & Always


I saw this great linkup on a friend's blog and thought it looked like fun, so I decided to link up myself!!






Sometimes: I want nothing more in the morning but to stay in bed under the nice warm covers and just sleep the day away... forget about school and therapies for the day!
Always: I get up anyway and get the little man off to school and clean, clean, clean!! (Because there always seems to be more cleaning that needs done! And that laundry won't do itself!!)



Sometimes: I wish couponing wasn't so time consuming!!
Always: I know it is completely worth it with the money saved, so I will keep on clipping!!


Sometimes: I wonder if the work I'm putting into my Thirty-One Open House at the end of the month will pay off, or if it will turn out like the previous one (where no one was able to come...it was pouring rain, harder than I've ever seen it rain here!)
Always: I will give it my all anyway, I know it won't be a success if I don't give it a chance!

Sometimes: I get really frustrated with the ignorance that still exists today about children with special needs, such as this guy right here.
Always: It reminds me that I have to work that much harder to spread awareness in hopes that one day such ignorance will be a thing of the past.

Sometimes: I really do need to get to that laundry...
Always (Or almost at least): I will put it off as long as possible;)

Sometimes: I am ready for this class and this move to be over and done with, or at the very least to know where it is exactly that we will be going.
Always: I dread having to say goodbye to our wonderful friends here, Shaun's amazing teacher and therapists that have brought him so far and the house that finally seemed like home (or home away from home).

Sometimes: I worry about where we will end up once Matt finishes recruiting school- will it be closer to home? Have good services for Shaun, etc?
Always: I know that wherever we end up will be part of God's plan for us, and exactly where we are meant to be...it's not always easy to remember that though!!

"Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today." Matthew 6:34

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Resolutions 2012!

If I'd resolved to blog more regularly, I think I'd have already broke that resolution. Fortunately, that was not one of my goals for the year (though once things have settled, I do plan to do better). Honestly, I always tend to make my resolutions fairly easy. For the past few years, my main goal has to become more comfortable in the kitchen, and I like to think that I've accomplished this! Though I have lost some of my inspiration in the past months- I think after cooking vegetarian for a year while my husband was deployed, I've not yet gotten back into the habit of having to create meat dishes for him, so I will continue this resolution this year as well...there is always room for improvement, right? So..

Resolution #1: Find that inspiration to be more creative in the kitchen again, and find the balance between mine and my husband's very different food choices.

Resolution #2: Continue to save money as much as possible. Last year, I really got better about using my coupons and getting my grocery bill as low as possible and really building up my stockpile. I hope to be able to continue this throughout this year. This will be harder now, as I'm used to shopping at our military commissary where prices are generally much cheaper, but when we move, we likely won't have immediate access to one anymore, so I might have to work just a little bit harder, but I can and will do it. Honestly, with our upcoming move, I've had to step back from the couponing a bit, and instead use up our current stock, and I really miss it, so I can't wait to get back to it full swing!!

Resolution #3: Get organized! I am getting better about being more organized, but when we do move, I hope to really take that farther and start and keep it organized! I've got lots of great ideas (which include an all new shelving system built by my daddy-he doesn't know it yet, and lots of Thirty-One! So let's just hope we move close enough to family that we can make that work!!)

Resolution #4: Grow my Thirty-One business! Having only started at the end of October, I still have a lot of growing to do with it, but I am really looking forward to making this a successful business venture. Being as I cannot really work outside of the home with my son's therapy schedule, I would really like to be able to use this to add to our family income, if only just a little extra 'fun money'. But truly, I really just love this company and the products, so more than anything, I am happy with the chance to introduce it to others!!

Resolution #5: Read the Old Testament. This will be a tough one, but I have a confession to make- while I have read the New Testament many, many times in various translations, I have never been able to make my way through the Old Testament. I end up getting to a point where it's all names and so on and it just starts to look a little too much like history...and I've never been a fan of history (that's my husband's department!) But I would really like to change that this year and finally get through it, or at least make a dent!!

Resolution #6 & 7: Keep a positive attitude and support my husband! I have only briefly talked about our upcoming adventure of recruiting duty, but for those who don't know, it's a tough job and can be really hard on families and marriages. While they will try to put as close to the area where you would like, it's not always possible. We could truly end up anywhere! Because of Shaun's Autism, they are required to send us to an area where services are available, which is a plus, but whether those services are good or not, or comparable to what we have now, could be debatable. I am continually praying that we end up where we hope (around family- we've put in St. Louis as our top choice), I am trying to maintain a positive attitude that regardless of where we end up, it will all work out as it should, and it will ultimately be God's plan for us. On top of this uncertainty, with recruiting comes long, unpredictable hours and a lot of stress. It is likely that my husband will be working 6 days a week, early mornings and late nights. Thankfully, I think his previous unit with their crap hours and that yearlong deployment we just made it through will help to prepare us for that, but I'm sure it will still not be easy. And so this is why it is very important for me to remain positive through this year (which will be the hardest year from what I've heard), and to support Matt in this new adventure.

I am sure there are many more goals I have set for myself that I have missed, but I think I have at least covered most of the big ones. Honestly, surviving the year (more specifically these next few weeks/months as we find out where we will be for the next three years, and the actual move itself) will be enough for me!! This is going to be a big year for us, but hopefully a great year!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh


From the Publisher:

She’s all about going green. Could he be her white knight—or will he make her see red?


Tree-huggin’, animal-lovin’ Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it’s been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it’s time she shed her widow’s weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family’s estate—a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won’t turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn’t return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting—until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight—in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn’t know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she’s worked for…and break her heart.

My Thoughts:
I started this book back in December, but between our holiday travels, an upcoming move, etc. it had been placed on the back burner since then. I think if I'd have had the chance to read the book without such interruptions, I would have been able to get into it and enjoy it much more. As it was, I found it to be very entertaining. It did start a bit slow I thought, though this could have been due to my limited reading time, but somewhere towards the middle of the book, I found it much more interesting and by the end I was wanting more and more. When we first meet Bridget, she is after 4 years, still in mourning over the loss of her husband, but when she loses it over reading the words 'happily ever after' to her 5 year old niece, she realizes it's time to make some changes, shedding her 'widow weeds' and learning to open her heart again, both to potential relationships and to God. During all of this we also meet Uncle Obe, who is selling his family home due to his ailing health and in an effort to make amends for past wrongs done by the family. All of these events are weaved together beautifully in what is truly a wonderful story about letting go of the past. There were a few parts in the story that I found to be rather predictable and would have preferred to be left wondering until the end, but it was a great story. This is also part of the 'Southern Discomfort' series, but while I had not read the other books, I found this stood alone just fine on its own. It was only after finishing that I found this out. Overall, I really enjoyed this and would recommend it. I hope to reread it in the future so that I can truly enjoy it as a whole as opposed to the snippets I was able to get.

You can purchase this book here.

*I received a copy of Restless in Carolina free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011: To Sum It All Up

Okay, I'm a little late with the year end wrap up, things have been super busy since we got back from our Christmas visit. But last year was a pretty big year for us, so I didn't want to skip it completely, so hmm, better late than never, right? Some day soon, I might even get those resolutions posted!!!

As I said, this year has been pretty huge for us, but rather than bore you with each individual event (many of which could be found in my blog archive anyway!), I am instead going to sum it up with a few scriptures that have become my mantras and really got me through the year!

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Truly, this has been the most helpful. I have always loved this verse, but throughout the year I found myself repeating this over and over again. For those who do not know, I started this year out completely on my own for the first time in my life, and was on my own until August. I'd had family staying for the first few month's of my husband's deployment, but by January, they'd returned. I have severe anxiety issues, but knew it was best for my son if we stayed, so I did whatever I had to do! It was tough at times, Shaun had many behavior issues throughout the year, but through it all I became a stronger person and I know this is because I was not truly alone in this.
I also accomplished several other things this year that I had never believed I could do! I learned to drive off base, at least to my son's school, and even over this past holiday, for the first time in the 5 years we've been making the drive, did some of the driving during our cross country road trip! I even drove through both St. Louis and Albuquerque...and you better believe this scripture was running through my head the entire way through...whew! But we made it out alive!!
I have fought through many meltdowns, illnesses, cross country travels alone with a (then) three year old...truly I have found I really can do anything with Christ. I know as we start this new journey of recruiting duty in our life, I will continue to echo these words throughout this year as well!

"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

I believe I have mentioned this verse on several occasions as well, particularly in reference to Shaun's autism. When therapies had been rough, as had been the case so often during the year, and when I'd start to feel those 'why' moments creeping up, I would quickly remind myself that this is all God's plan for my son and that those plans are amazing.
When my husband was flagged for recruiting duty, I again found myself turning to this verse (as I have been these last few days as well as the actual classes have begun) as a reminder that regardless of where we end up, which could very well be anywhere, that we will be exactly where we are intended to be and it will all work out according to God's plan!

"Pray without ceasing"- 1 Thessalonians 5:17

As you can imagine, based on the previous two verses, it's been a prayer filled year. I've prayed for strength, I've prayed for courage...I've played for sleep and just a short break in the screaming! I've prayed for friends who've had hard times, I've prayed for strangers who I know only through this blog whose stories have touched me. Likewise, I know many have prayed for us and for my husband throughout 2011, and I've very thankful for that. I have not yet mentioned it here, but in December, I found myself praying harder than ever when my mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. 'Pray without ceasing' was certainly appropriate and I know many, many others have been praying for her as well. I truly believe in the power of prayer, and I'm happy to say that her surgery last week went very smoothly and it seems to have been caught very early, though we're still waiting to find out more. She has remained positive and faithful throughout all of this and is truly an inspiration. (And I know she's likely reading this and needing a tissue now, sorry, but it's true! ;)) And so I will continue to pray, and pray, and pray.


Perhaps in reading this, 2011 sounds like it was a horrible year for us, but honestly, in many ways it has been wonderful. Despite what seems like more struggles than usual during the year, Shaun actually made amazing progress. We are now having conversations, limited conversations, but conversations nonetheless!! We were lucky to get him to answer a simple question with a one word response when the year began, I would never have dreamed this. Also, I found myself leaning on God more than ever this year, and have built a closer relationship with Him because of it all and truly that made it perhaps not a great year, but a very important and needed one at least!