This Picture

Yes. Yes, I just went there.

Don't even lie and tell me that you don't think it's hilarious.

In other news, bloggers who comment and say, "follow me and I'll follow you back?" kind of (okay, majorly) piss me off. I have worked incredibly hard on my blog and on building actual relationships with other bloggers in order to increase my readership. (I also can't believe that readership is a word...) So the fact that bloggers with crappy blogs try to gain hundreds of followers by sending out generic "follow me" messages irritates me. I mean, I freaking learned HTML code so I could make my blog look original and professional. You know when you're driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic and there's that one car that drives really fast in the Exit Only lane? And then that car tries to cut his sneaky little car in front of all the cars that drove according to the law? That's how those follow-me-bloggers are.

I get it. I've been really discouraged about not having as many blog followers as other people and have even considered posting a link to facebook because I know people would click on it. But then I mentally slap myself in the face and remind myself that I blog so I can freely express the feelings and opinions that I have without risking insanely huge arguments with the conservative facebook friends I have. It's a break from real life where I can be completely honest/rude/blunt.

That's why I blog.

So if making money and amassing followers is your thing? We probably don't have much in common, so maybe you could go ahead and delete your "Follow me I always follow back" comment from my blog.


"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..."

-Ephesians 3:20

I haven't been blogging lately, mostly because I've been mentally exhausted at the end of each day, attempting to learn and become acclimated into a new job, a new climate, and a new professional identity.  I now work as a Field Experience Coordinator at UNI, mentoring, coaching, and supervising several language arts majors as they complete their field experiences in schools in the Cedar Valley, as well as providing resources and support to the many teachers who have agreed to open their classrooms to these future teachers.  The last couple of weeks, we've had the monstrous task of trying to schedule these students with teachers, making sure they have all the nuts and bolts ironed out, and teaching them all they need to know about education in an intense 'boot camp' course for six hours each week.  It's been busy, and challenging, and at times, a little mind-numbing, but it's also been exciting to push myself in a new way.  I'm learning and I'm reflecting, and after seeing the fear on the faces of 22 future language arts teachers today, just days before they begin their Level II Field Experience in a new school --- I'm seeing the important purpose I have as their mentor, their coach, and their friend.  

But just because I've been neglecting this blog space this week doesn't mean it hasn't been on my mind.  It's actually quite the opposite.  Ever since I stepped out the doors of Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center on Sunday, my writing wheels have been turning and I've been aching to fill this space with my thoughts --- but, I've tried, many times, and am left with a lot of unfinished fragments that lack connection and fail to do my mind's talk justice.

I'm feeling kind of 'in-between' right now.  Do you ever feel like that?  I would use the fork-in-the-road analogy, but it's more like wandering through a mall for me.  Sometimes, when I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to be doing with myself, I assume the mall can fix just about anything.  So, I drive to the mall for a little retail therapy, wander from store to store, but don't really feel in the mood to shop.  I see things on the rack I like, but can't quite make myself try them on, and likewise, I see things I'd like to buy, but can't quite make myself do it.  I don't really even feel like being there, but I continue to wander, feeling indecisive, unsettled, and non-committal.  

My life feels like this.  I'm in this weird transition time of my life right now, and although nothing is wrong, everything is just kind of there.  I'm in between two jobs, we can't quite decide if we want to buy, build, or stay in the house we've called home for five years, and I'm struggling to understand God's timing in a few other important parts of our life right now.  I'm just wandering and waiting for a lot of uncertainties to become certainties and I've never been a very patient person when it comes to waiting.

I carried these uncertainties with me to church on Sunday, hoping that my church's 50th anniversary celebration would light a spark under my blah-ness.  After all, if anything can, it's that service.  Every year, our church combines all its services from three different campuses into one service called 'The Gathering,' on UNI's campus.  With more than 2100 people in attendance, it's always an amazing experience and the perfect kick-off to a new year and renewed walk with Jesus.  I always leave feeling so uplifted, so energized, and so ready to stare my life in the face with conviction, courage, and compassion for others.

Halfway through the service, however, I just wasn't feeling it.  I was distracted by Cruz, who loved the first ten minutes, but decided to yell and throw Cheerios on the floor during the first prayer.  After getting the stink eye from a girl in front of us, I took him to play in the nursery.  I missed a good part of the service, and when I got back, I was distracted by thoughts of school, of what I needed to get done after church, and whether we should attend the open house (for the third time) of the house we can't decide whether we want to buy or not.  

And just like that, God's power swooped in like a bird eying its 'distracted' prey, and turned my sights on Pastor Dave's message.  A message that hit the core of my wandering, my uncertainty, and my desire for control.  

Dream your best dream.  Dream it big, dream it in color, and then set it aside.  Trust in Jesus and put your faith in the plan He has for your life.  He will blow you away in ways you never dreamed possible. 

As I listened to these words and let them really sink in as I stood in that aisle seat at church on Sunday, I literally felt the weight of control slip from my shoulders.  In that moment, I knew that the plan for my life may look very similar, or completely different from the plan God has in store for me, and that I can't even begin to see how immeasurably better it is going to be with him.  Immeasurably more.  God is there, all the time, and is ready and waiting to do more than I could ask or imagine of him, as long as I am willing to let his power work in me (Eph. 3:20). 

Then I thought about my friend, Josh.  A pastor himself and friend from high school, anxiously awaiting the birth of his first baby, Josiah, only to find out that their precious baby boy's heart had stopped beating just two weeks before his due date.  

And I thought about Taylor Morris, our hometown hero.  A sailor who lost all four of his limbs when a bomb exploded in Afganistan.  I thought about his girlfriend, about the little girl dreams we all dream when we fall in love with the person we want to be with forever.

I thought about all of these people, walking aimlessly into so much uncertainty right now, with sadness and concern far deeper than mine.  I hurt for them, but felt an overwhelming sense of trust in the plan we can't begin to see.  I smiled at the thought of the joy He hasn't begun to reveal to Josh, and Taylor, and everyone else walking through a time of uncertainty.  There's hope in something so much greater than what we have control over - and the release I felt in letting my own desires go and letting God take over felt amazing.  For the first time in several weeks of aimlessness, I left that building in absolute peace - and excitement as I dreamed of my life a year, or five, or 25 years from now.  

Today, I stood on the sidewalk in 100 degree temps with thousands of others as we welcomed Taylor Morris back to Iowa for the first time since his injuries.  I took pictures, waved my flag, and smiled as he rode past in a convertible, astounded and humbled by the mass of people changed by his story.  And as I walked back to my car, I smiled when I thought about what Taylor will do with his life.  God didn't detonate that bomb that changed the course of Taylor's life forever, but I'm confident he's walking beside him now and hasn't even begun to unfold the plan he has for him. 

Notice Life Work Stationary Review + Competition Giveaway

Many thanks to Nicholas, of Notice Life, for sending over some stationary geared towards increasing productivity. Above we have the A3 (420mm x 297mm) Project Plan Pad. This thing is huge, which is perfect to keep on your desk as you track your projects and subsequent tasks. Let's take a closer look.

For each project being planned, one can track the start and finish time of the project, as well as the duration, start, finish, 'others', and cost associated with each task. There is also a notes section along the right margin for other relevant details.

The notes section gets progressively smaller due to the design stretching over from the cost column, so this is something to take into consideration, but I will say that the design adds some interest to the overall look.

One of my roles at work consists of process improvement, so I will be using this Project Plan Pad to create outlines for the process flows that will be moved to Microsoft Visio. I also tore some sheets from the pad to identify the required tasks and costs associated with upcoming home repair projects.

Planning projects is good and well, but how about the paper quality?

In each Project Plan Pad, you get 65 sheets of 80 gsm paper stock. I grabbed a few items from my pen cup to test, and the paper handled each very well. No feathering or bleeding to speak of, even with liquid inks.

There was very slight show through from the liquid ink pens, and the Sharpie did show through quite a bit (as is the case with just about any paper), but even the Sharpie Industrial Marker didn't bleed through to the next sheet.

This paper is a very solid performer, and I quite pleased with the results. I don't own any broad point fountain pens, but I'd be curious to see how those perform, too.

The second item I received are these A7 TO-DO Sticky Notes. I think these could be used in just about any business or professional environment, or even when dividing up household chores.

I work in a sales environment, so I will be using these to track our sales order process to help refine our sales process flow, so these will be very handy for my application, and I'm sure you can think of ways to use this with your own 'TO-DO' items.

These Sticky Notes are 120 gsm, so they can easily handle even your most assertive writing tools.

You can order Notice Life products at, and Nicholas is also offering 10% if you order with him directly at using the coupon code "Economy Pens offer". Though the Notice Life products are currently being shipped from their home in Australia, the company is working to have the products be distributed in the U.S. as well.

What's more, you can also enter a small competition to win one of three A1 2013 Wall Planner Calendars by writing 100 words, or more, about what is important to you when you purchase stationary. You can e-mail your entries directly to Nicholas at the e-mail address.

Both the 10% discount offer and the competition will go through September, and Nicholas will notify me of who the winners are in the beginning of October. If you have any questions about the products or the competition, please let me know!

Pencil Case with a Bow

After I saw this tutorial at Kaitlin's blog, Wunderbar, I couldn't wait to make it. This was my first time ever sewing a zipper, and it wasn't quite as freaky as I thought it would be. It actually turned out goodnotgreat. Which I will be happy with for my first time. I didn't take pictures of all of the steps, because it involved seam rippers, talking to myself, and flipping and reflipping the fabric to make sure it was correct. Not pretty. Plus, Kaitlin's tutorial is excellent!

Here are a few pictures I took of the process.

 I love it! All of my pens and chapsticks fit in there perfectly, making my purse much more organized.

So, fellow bloggers, gather your courage, buy a zipper, and use up your old fabric scraps on a gorgeous new pencil case.

Third Culture Kids do you Dare to be Green?

In an earlier post Third Culture Kids Learning to be Themselves I had written about this poem but I had not posted the complete poem. I can really identify with the words so I did want to post the whole poem. My parents are from the blue country: the Netherlands and I grew up in the Yellow country. Well the yellow country for me would be the African culture or continent. The countries I lived in were: Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe. If you enjoy this poem and want to read more, read the poem "Who am I?" by my guest Marina Sofia, who was a third culture kid too.

By a 4 year old @DrieCulturen

by Whitni Thomas, MK

I grew up in a Yellow country
But my parents are Blue.
I'm Blue.
Or at least, that is what they told me.
But I play with the Yellows.
I went to school with the Yellows.
I spoke the Yellow language.
I even dressed and appeared to be Yellow.
Then I moved to the Blue land.
Now I go to school with the Blues.
I speak the Blue language.
I even dress and look Blue.
But deep down, inside me, something's Yellow.
I love the Blue country.
But my ways are tinted with Yellow.
When I am in the Blue land,
I want to be Yellow.
When I am in the Yellow land,
I want to be Blue.
Why can't I be both?
A place where I can be me.
A place where I can be green.
I just want to be green.

What about you. Do you dare to be Green? Do you enjoy being Green? Have you accepted that you are Green?

Related posts:

I Don't Always Photograph My Clothes...

...but when I do it's often in my kitchen.

Chase and I went to a game night with the students in his program the other night, so I was trying to find an outfit that was cute and classy, but non-stuffy. Nobody likes a snob, you know, so I didn't want to show up wearing a skirt and heels. I'm kind of in love with this outfit now. I was one of the only non-doctorate students at the party, but it was actually quite fun. It was nice for me to be able to become friends with the people he'll be in classes with for the next four years. Four years... That's a long time. But I'm sure it will go by much quicker than we think.

Outfit Details:

Shirt -- H&M $5 euros (8ish dollars?)
Shorts -- Salvation Army $2
Tights -- George via Walmart $5.50
Flats -- Salvation Army $1
Earrings -- Bealls $3

Total Cost -- $19.50

Also... this picture. This made me laugh really hard.

FrillsforThrills CopyCats

Everybody's Favorite Feminist

Hey girl...
Ryan Gosling is okay. I'm not in love with any of his movies, but I am deeply, irrevocably in love with the "Hey Girl" pictures. They make me laugh so hard. Here are my favorites.


I die. I could look these up all day long if I didn't have a job or a life. Apparently there is a whole entire book filled with Ryan Gosling feminist quotes. Or rather feminist quotes attached to a Ryan Gosling picture. I think it would be interesting to find out what he actually thinks about the personality attributed to him. 

this weekend, we...

...welcomed friday night with garden-fresh caprese salad on the deck, a glass of vino, and the sounds of the first football game echoing in our back yard. an extra books before bed.

...ran around the house saturday morning in blanket capes and underwear (well, two of us did, and i'm not revealing the other party)

...had breakfast at the farmer's market.  breakfast burritos, rasta lemonade, mini cookies, and a golden delicious apple for cruz in the park.  i love that my son prefers his apples with the skin on.

...bought a guitar.  i'm not sure who is more excited, beau or cruz.  beau is dead-set on teaching himself, and i have dreams of front porch singing and dancing.

...had milk and cookies (or dough) for an afternoon 'nack.'

...finally finished two boxes of cereal that have been in our pantry forever - project pantry is in full force :)
...drank wine during dinner prep, lit a pumpkin spice candle, and listened to mumford and sons while the rain poured outside.  i felt fall in my bones.

...splashed in puddles in a pirate rain coat (thanks gabe and gina).

...had microwaved popcorn for a bedtime snack.

...celebrated 50 years of our amazing church.

...put cruz to sleep in the swing in our backyard.

...discovered grilled zucchini and Beau's mom's kabob marinade is a fantastic combination.

...bought cruz a potty chair.  he thinks it's a sweet chair, but doesn't seem to understand the 'potty' part quite yet.  if only it were that easy...

We had a quiet, cozy weekend at home this weekend, welcomed by a relaxing morning in the park at the farmer's market, the start of a new hobby for beau, and an afternoon and evening of rain showers, candles at dinner, and a bowl of popcorn before bed.  Weekends like this are my favorite, the ones that give us time to delve into the simple routines of our live and make them extra special with easy details of comfort and home - a glass of wine and candle at dinner, soft light in cruz's room before bed, and a technology-free night and bowl of popcorn for beau and i.  Simple things that make all the difference, it seems.