I went to the dentist and wound up on an embarrassing episode of the bachelorette

I would like you all to be the first to know I survived yesterday's dentist appointment.

Also, I'm mildly in love with my dentist. Excuse me, dentist's office, but it so does not hurt that the dentist and hygienist look exactly like two men from the last season of The Bachelorette. I thought my last visit was a fluke, but no. It's still amazing. I saw a different hygienist and dentist this time, and still amazing (as explained above). The hygienist led me to my chair and apologized profusely that my personal flat screen tv is out of order, so I won't be able to channel surf during my visit today. The walls were still slightly whirling from my vertigo, so watching moving images on a screen didn't sound appealing anyway, especially considering the fact that I got a bad wave of dizziness after watching three cars drive past me.

While he went to get the dentist, I surveyed my surroundings. In front of me was a giant 1930s art-deco radio the size of my dresser that I'm trying to figure out how to smuggle out of there, complete with a Certificate of Authenticity framed above it and a model plane on top. Also framed above it? One of the dentist's diplomas, as well as several pictures of WWII. World War II! You know how much I love any and everything from WWII. And you know what else was displayed with the radio, diplomas, and war graphics? A framed two dollar bill. Naturally. Off in the corner I noticed a small china cabinet full of toy tractors? Model tractors? Whatever they were, they were small grey and red models of 1920s tractors. After everything else in the room, I was no longer surprised. I just nodded my approval and responded to the hygienist when he asked me what I think about Red Lobster, clearly hoping I would help him prove some point to the dentist, who he was teasing.

"They have great biscuits!" I said, much too enthusiastically for someone unsure of what's going on in a dentist's office full of WWII memorabilia and an homage to 1920s farming. Also too enthusiastically for someone who hasn't even thought about Red Lobster in about 10 years.

"See, she gets it! No one goes there for anything other the biscuits!" We shared a laugh in solidarity with each other while the dentist mumbled something about popcorn shrimp. I momentarily wondered if this was how it felt to be JoJo on a group date.

My teeth were perfect and I passed with flying colors. I was shocked. After the past few weeks, I expected to have all but three teeth pulled and at least one root canal. The dentist walked me to the receptionist to check out, and we bonded over our favorite restaurant (not Red Lobster), and I almost invited him to lunch with my mom and me afterwards. I clarified with the receptionist that my insurance had not changed, remembering that James had handed me my dental card and told me to make sure to hand it to them. But I had been there before, so surely that wasn't necessary. I'm a grown woman and I know what I'm doing.

"Ok, then you owe $150 today." Still with a slight brain fog from this monster virus, I handed her my card with a confused scowl and no follow-up questions. On the way I home, I got a text from James asking why it was so expensive. I told him I had no idea, that we just must have bad insurance. Sucks, but what can we do? #thanksObama

"But we have new insurance, so it should be covered."

"We what??"

"That's why I gave you the card."

"I didn't give it to them! Is that why you wanted to me to give it to them?"

And suddenly it all became so clear. I panicked. What's worse: making a u-turn and walking back in, head hanging in shame? Or pulling over to...gasp...make a phone call? I chose phone call, only so they couldn't see my facial expressions which I can never seem to control in situations like these.

I called and explained my situation and gave the new insurance information. After a fiasco of figuring out which one of us is the policyholder, I was refunded my $150 and got off the phone. I drove home, hoping they would forget about my ignorance over the next 6 months, and then realized I had no idea where I was. The dentist is 10 minutes from my house and in an area I'm very familiar with, yet I had managed to get myself lost to the point that I had to pull up the map on my GPS. I'm still not sure what went wrong, but I suspect it was due to the part of my brain that handles insurance information.

After putting Gracie to bed last night, mom and I settled down for a night of riveting television. By that I mean we watched Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and The Andy Griffith Show. Wheel of Fortune is my game, and I take great pride in often solving the puzzles before the contestants. However, the brain fog had yet to burn off, because I was off my game more than ever.

The puzzle was supposed to read "POSTCARDS FROM A FARAWAY LAND," and the only missing letters were the P and C in postcards. I nearly jumped from the couch and screamed "LOSTTARDS FROM A FARAWAY LAND!!!!" absolutely convinced I had figured it out. Maybe it's a good thing the personal tv at the dentist wasn't working.

I have no idea what a losttard is, but it's certainly how I felt when I got lost two miles from home.


I went viral, but not the good kind

I think the past few weeks have been trying to kill us.

After the saga of my in-law's visit and all three of us getting sick at once, we've been dealing with things like health insurance problems, humiliating myself at Mops after a rare case of word vomit, a difficult well-check for Gracie, and our realtor retiring and forgetting to tell us.

And then on Thursday, I had the first inklings of another migraine. It hit me hard Friday morning, and by the afternoon it had morphed into vertigo. I found my anti-vertigo medicine just as I was getting to the point where I was going to start throwing up and not be able to stop. I started feeling a little better, but I woke up Saturday worse than ever. James had to work an illegal amount of hours both days, so I was stuck at home with a toddler while completely unable to hold my balance or walk in a straight line, not to mention that the migraine still hadn't left. By Sunday, I realized this was probably more than a migraine and vertigo when I was so weak I couldn't get out of bed, random parts of my body were tingling, I had shooting pains in my legs, and a host of other strange symptoms. I spent the entire day in bed, staring at the wall because my brain was in such a fog I felt like I couldn't think. Every time I tried to fall asleep, the neighbor kids would start screaming outside, or Gracie would scream downstairs. My only saving grace was that James was watching Gracie, cooking, cleaning, bringing me meals and medicine so I could stay in bed, and even went to the library to replenish my book stash. He is a saint. But mostly because he made a late night emergency donut run.

I woke up Monday feeling a little stronger yet sicker than ever.  The room was spinning wildly and was getting worse by the minute. I took some more vertigo medicine, but it only helped a little. I can count on one hand the times I've said "I need to go to the doctor," and this was one of them. I have massive doctor anxiety, and I would rather die at home than drag myself to a waiting room to a hear a doctor tell me what I probably already know. By 9:30, James was already leaving work to take care of me since I was shivering on the living room floor while Gracie drove her 1980s Fisher Price plastic tractor on my head. I called my doctor only to be told (and please read this in the pretentious french accent of Michel from Gilmore Girls) "I'm sorry, but we are completely booked." Also, my mom who was supposed to be on the way to visit, texted me and said her car wouldn't start.

Cue all the tears.

I wound up in urgent care, and thankfully a kind nurse let me lie down in a dark back room so I didn't have to stay in the waiting room. I waited there for an hour while the bottom half of me was cold and the top half of me was hot, my face was tingling, and my right ear was hot. The doctor eventually walked in, asked me three or four separate times if I have a rash or a runny nose, listened to nothing that I said, told me I have a virus and I'll probably be sick for another week, and then handed me a prescription for the exact medicine I told her three times I've been taking and it's not helping.

Cue all the tears.

James was able to stay home for a few more hours so I could rest. When James left to go to work tonight, Gracie threw herself on the floor in despair and cried for ten minutes. She was not the only one upset to see him go. Gracie and I struggled through a difficult few hours before bedtime, and then James called from work to say he's sick too. While I'm still quite dizzy, I'm feeling a little better tonight. Which is actually bad news, because I guess now I have to go to my dentist appointment tomorrow morning.

Cue all the tears.


reading rainbow

It's been awhile since I've done one of these! I went through a reading lull last month and needed a little break, but I've been hitting the books as hard as ever the last few weeks. These are mostly books about motherhood and faith, since those are two areas I've been struggling with. I decided to spend a couple months reading books that would encourage me in those areas, and that's exactly what they did. There are a few novels scattered in, so fear not! And please, as always, tell me what I should read next.

Let Me Be a Woman by Elizabeth Elliot--5 stars: I don't think Elizabeth Elliot wrote something I'm not in love with. This book wasn't what I was expecting, but it was wonderful nonetheless. It's a biblical look at womanhood, but it's comprised of letters she wrote to her engaged daughter, telling her what it means to be a Christian wife, mother, and woman. She also wrote about the importance of singleness, so there's something for everyone. I was encouraged, challenged, and uplifted. 

For fans of: theology, marriage, faith, conviction 

Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily Freeman--2.75 stars: I had really high expectations for this book, but it fell short. First of all, I love the premise. It's about finding joy and contentment in a small life, which I am ALL about. There were a few sections that I wanted to read over and over, because they were so good. However, I had two main problems, the first being her writing style. It felt like she was trying to imitate Ann Voskamp with that flowery, fluffy, ethereal writing style and I HATE IT SO MUCH. That's just my personal preference; I know some people love it. Freeman gets lost in her own metaphors and can't find her way out. There are two big metaphors she uses throughout the whole book, and they never once made any sense to me. It felt overly cheesy and corny, and I think it really took away from the meaning of the book. My second problem was her theology. I read it several months ago so I can't remember specifics, but some of it was a bit off, and she quotes a few people and Bible translations with wonky-at-best theology. If you're the kind of person who is constantly busy and trying to figure out how to slow down, this might be a great book for you. I've got 99 problems, but having a jam-packed schedule isn't one of them. However, just know I can't wholeheartedly endorse it due to some theological issues, but there are some good takeaways in it.

For fans of: pithy one-liners that don't always make sense, flowery writing, having someone tell you it's ok to sit down and take a break

Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman--5 HUGE stars: THIS. THIS is what I wanted from Simply Tuesday. There was no mystical writing, just concise but powerful words that nearly brought me to tears over and over. She writes like a modern Elizabeth Elliot. Let me be clear--you do not have to be a mom to relate to this book. The title is a bit of a misnomer; the tie-ins to motherhood were very occasional and almost felt forced. She doesn't limit motherhood to biological children, but to adoption and even to friendship. She pulls every type of woman into this book. This book was more of a reminder of what our time on earth is for. The first half was an overview of the Old Testament, and the second half covered the gospel (I think...it's been awhile!). She helped me understand parts of the Bible I've always struggled with, and the conviction was unreal. I want to hand this book out to everyone. Everything is biblical, and her theology is spot-on.

For fans of: the Bible, theology, Biblical mothering, conviction, Elizabeth Elliot

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee--2 stars: This was for my online book club, and...meh. I should've known when I saw that it was YA. I despise almost that entire genre. The last thing I want to read about are angsty, hormonal teenagers who do stupid things. It takes place in Australia in the 80s (which took me almost the whole book to figure out). Rose needs a dress for her school's harvest festival, and has an old, creepy woman make it for her. People are convinced the dress is magic, or the old woman is a witch, or both, or something. I don't know. And there's a murder. I read it a few weeks ago and I don't even remember the details of the murder. The only parts of this book I liked were the scenes where the woman was teaching Rose how to sew. Everything else was pretty terrible, and there were some disturbing themes. I don't recommend this one at all.

For fans of: creepiness, cranky teenagers with daddy issues, having flashbacks of your high school Homecoming 

Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic--5 stars: Overall, I LOVED this book. It was a breath of fresh air, and I agreed with 98% of what she says. The essays are only a few pages long, often entertaining, and had some great advice and ideas I never would've thought of. She makes a big case about writing this book because she feels like she's drowning in motherhood, but I did not get that vibe AT ALL. Sometimes it felt mildly annoying that she seemed to have it completely together, and I felt a little stressed out that she had a million creative solutions for every problem that I never would've thought of. But still, highly recommend. It's challenging, but in a good way.

For fans of: feeling like you're failing as a mom, encouragement about motherhood, reading stories of other people's toddler disasters

Surprised by Joy/The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis--4.25 stars: When I grabbed this from the library, I was only looking for Surprised by Joy, but this book had The Four Loves as well. Surprised by Joy is Lewis' memoir about growing up atheist and eventually coming to believe in God. It was beautiful, funny, powerful, and just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. I read most of The Four Loves, and parts were very good, but it was a little too deep and philosophical for what I wanted at the moment. I wasn't feeling it, so I returned it without reading the last chapter. No regrets.

[Sidenote: I had this book for about a month, and every time I read it or said it out loud, I read The Four Loves as "The Four Loaves," like loaves of bread. I was confused for weeks about why this book about love was titled about bread until one night my brain finally corrected itself. I laughed for a long time.]

For fans of: Surprised by Oxford, faith, theology, Christianity, reading about boarding school life in Victorian/Edwardian England

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner--4.5 stars:  It's the 1940s, you're 15 years old, and your little sister is waiting for you in your flat as you walk across London. A few blocks from home, the air raid sirens go off. It's the beginning of the Blitz, and your little sister disappears without a trace. Dun dun dun. This book follows two sisters, Emmy and Julia, from the beginning of the war when they're evacuated to the countryside to live with strangers, through the war and after. This book was so good. It flashes between the war and modern day, when an old lady named Isobel is telling her story for the first time of surviving The Blitz to an American student at Oxford. I couldn't put it down, and I didn't want it to end. It's slightly tragic, yet beautifully redemptive. I had tears in my eyes as I finished it.

For fans of: WWII, the 1940s, mysteries, The Nightingale

I'm currently in the middle of Rise of the Rocket Girls, and I am LOVING it. What are you reading?


the next thing you know, she'll be sneaking out of the house at night

Life has been a wild ride lately.

And by that I mean my in-laws were just here.

They drove up from the Carolinas through the remnants of Hurricane Matthew, loaded with stories of flooding and disaster. My world never fails to implode every time they're here. I don't know what it is. Usually it involves me being sick, but this time James and Gracie were the sick ones. Gracie also stopped sleeping. Just stopped sleeping. She was up past midnight one night, and I was so frustrated that once she fell asleep, I was up the rest of the night. The next night my insomnia showed up, and I got maybe two hours of sleep. I slept about a combined total of 4 hours in 48 hours, and I had the privilege of entertaining my MIL and her mother while James, that lucky son of a gun, got to go to work. Entertaining them was not difficult as they wanted to spend their two full days here exploring the same mall. I half-dozed on mall couches while they tried on clothes and gushed over every store they saw, claiming they never see stores like this in North Carolina. I smiled and nodded, knowing full well they have two equally impressive malls 45 minutes away from their homes.

They were very upset with me when I had to spoil their fun and pull them away from the mall since it was past Gracie's lunch and nap time. They don't believe in naps or bedtimes, and told me that such strict rules of this kind will only cause her to rebel as a teenager. They clucked their disapproval and rolled their eyes when either one was mentioned. Gracie chose that day to betray me and refuse to nap. My MIL rewashed my clean dishes, telling me she doesn't believe in dishwashers with her mother echoing the sentiment in the background.

It was a long few days, but I'm glad Gracie got to see her southern half of the family. They were very sweet and bought us all some new things, and James' grandma left a delicious caramel cake with us that she made. I dove into it mouth first every evening once they were back at the hotel. The cake helped drown out the buzzing in my head from a full day spent with two loud and chatty women who sound like Paula Deen and refer to PF Chang's as "Jackie Chan's."

The morning they left, I woke up with a cold. Gracie woke up the next morning overcome with mischief. She started climbing the stairs when I wasn't paying attention. I got lax with the baby gate since she never showed much interest, but now she zooms up the stairs whenever the urge hits and I'm not looking. She pulled all the toothpaste out of the bathroom drawer, and had me literally jumping out of the shower mid-shampoo when I thought she was squeezing toothpaste on the floor. Turns out, I just need to wear my contacts in the shower. While sitting in her high chair, she pushed a dining room chair over, causing it to fall on a bookshelf, which pushed the cookbooks over, which knocked a frame off the wall. She threw her shoes and socks on the floor in the grocery store, tried to climb on the stove and dump the salt out of the salt shaker, pulled things out of the fridge, and was thisclose to figuring out how to unlock the front door when I told her it's not time to go outside. She's also on the verge of unbuckling her carseat. If you're wondering, the answer is yes. Yes I did buy myself a donut at the grocery store.

All this toddler mischief is probably because I made her take a nap today. All those rules will make a child rebel, you know.


2016's most frightening halloween costumes

Audrey Hepburn and Cat, 2009

Do you like horror movies? Is jumping out from behind a bush and scaring your neighbor the highlight of your day? Do you like all things spooky and terrifying? Have I got a trick or treat for you! I've just so happened to compile a list of 2016's scariest and spookiest costume ideas yet. Witches, ghosts, and goblins have nothing on these. These costumes are perfect for your creepy Halloween party or to scare the pants off paying guests at a haunted house, but whatever you do, don't wear them while taking your kids trick-or-treating; you'll give kids (and adults) nightmares for years. You may even be arrested for inciting panic.

1. Gluten. There's nothing scarier in 2016 than the naturally-occurring protein in wheat. Guaranteed to make your friends scream and run away in fear.

Related ideas: refined sugar, carbs, non-organic fruit

2. The comment section of YouTube or any major website. You just cringed, didn't you? Good, that's the reaction we're going for.

3. The Presidential candidates. Either one. They're both horrifying.

4. Cleaning products not made from essential oils. Dress up as a bottle of Clorox and everyone in a five-mile radius will immediately be diagnosed with cancer.

5. WebMD. Everyone in a five-mile radius will immediately be self-diagnosed with cancer.

6. Clowns. With all the murder clown sightings this year, a clown costume could convince even the staunchest gun control advocate to pack some heat.

7. That person on social media constantly hawking his or her wares or diet program. Do you have a minute to talk about essential oils? Lularoe leggings? Jamberry nails? Maybe if you tried #whole30 or Advocare or not feeding your kids puffs or formula your life would magically improve and you'd lose the baby weight and also world peace. This costume is guaranteed to make your friends tremble and search for a safe zone.

8. The list of shows and movies leaving Netflix on the first of the month. Heart beating out of your chest! Sweating! Anxiety! This costume will cause it all. Is your favorite show on the list? Is it safe? Is there time to watch that movie one more time?! THE CLOCK IS TICKING.

What are you dressing up as this year?