73 questions

Thank you so much for the encouragement on Tuesday's post. There's something powerful about admitting you're struggling, having other people admit the same thing, and helping each other through it. Blogging can be an amazing thing.

Apparently Vogue does this video interview series with celebrities called 73 Questions. Rachel posted a blog version, and I thought it might be a fun Friday post. 

  1. What are you most excited about these days? Visiting Sarah next week, my parents after that, concerts and weddings after that, and exploring new parts of the country. 
  2. Favorite holiday? CHRISTMAS IS EVERYTHING TO ME. You probably know this already.
  3. Favorite season? Hand me a mustard cardigan and brown boots, because FALL.
  4. Recent hobby? Is walking a hobby? Now that the weather is consistently warm, I feel all out of sorts if I don't get my daily long walk in. Unfortunately, I am now covered in mosquito bites and probably infected with the Zika virus.
  5. If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be? Someone who is on vacation.
  6. If you could have coffee with someone from the past, who would it be? Matthew Henry. I've been reading his Bible commentary from the 1600s, and whew. You guys, he's blowing me away.
  7. What’s the best thing that happened this year? Celebrating Gracie's first birthday.
  8. What’s the best way to decompress? Baking, going on a walk while listening to good music, taking a bath, planting flowers, and reading with a cup of coffee. Any or all of these will do just fine.
  9. What’s the weirdest word in the English language? KERFUFFLE. Doesn't that word just cheer you up?
  10. If you had one superpower, what would it be? Teleporting.
  11. Who do you miss most? My family. 
  12. Who was the last person to text you? My friend Colleen. We're discussing the humidity. Which is horrible.
  13. Who are three people, alive or dead, that you would have dinner with? Miranda Hart, Corrie Ten Boom, and Elisabeth Elliot. 
  14. Last book you read? Lilac Girls
  15. Book you plan on reading? The Lakehouse and An Echo in the Darkness are currently waiting for me on my green side table.
  16. Book you read because everyone else in the world was reading it? The Hunger Games trilogy. A friend from work eventually bullied my into it. 
  17. A book from your childhood that positively shaped you? Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy
  18. Favorite tv show that’s currently on tv? New Girl. 
  19. Favorite ice cream? Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough...or anything from Jeni's.
  20. What makes you smile the most? When James sits down next to me, grabs my hand, looks deep into my eyes, and says "how about we get take-out tonight?"
  21. First pet? Muffin the Chihuahua. My parents gave him to me for my 7th birthday. My first grade teacher once asked everyone who has a brother to raise their hands. I raised my hand, fully counting Muffin as my brother. Only child probs.
  22. Worst subject in school? Probably chemistry. It was math when I was in high school, but to my shock I aced my college math classes. Maybe I was just a late math bloomer? That or because my math professor didn't make fun of my bad grades to the class like a certain high school math teacher did. But one glance at the periodic table will still make me burst into tears. 
  23. Favorite game? Scrabble or Apples to Apples
  24. Coolest thing in the world? What really IS the internet?!?!
  25. Cutest thing in the world? My kid, obviously. 
  26. Favorite thing in the world? My family all in one room.
  27. One talent you wish you had? Singing. I mean, I can carry a tune, but how fun would it be to sing like Adele?
  28. One thing you still have from your childhood? Photo albums and journals. I could be easily blackmailed if those were to ever fall in the wrong hands.
  29. What’s your patronus? I have literally no clue what this means. 
  30. Last song you listened to on your phone? Lost in My Mind-The Head and the Heart
  31. Favorite song lyrics? "It is well with my soul."
  32. What song would you probably be caught dancing alone to? I was once caught dancing to Pony while brushing my teeth. Don't you dare tell anyone.
  33. If you could work the runway, what song would it be? To what kind of song does one work a runway? Let's go with Tightrope by Janelle Monae. 
  34. Best gift you’ve ever given? A few years ago I searched through several antique stores looking for a specific vintage pyrex bowl for my mom. I finally found it in the back room of an antique store, stashed on a shelf behind a table. It was so much fun to surprise her with it for Christmas.
  35. Fashion icon? My toddler. Seriously. Cat shirts, leggings, and a ponytail. The life.
  36. What did you wear to your prom? A hot pink halter fit and flare dress. I loved that dress, and it's the reason I chose that style for my wedding dress (minus the halter, because this is no longer 2006).
  37. Who was your date to your prom? A guy from another school who worked backstage when I was in South Pacific. 
  38. Favorite movie of all time? White Christmas. My love of this movie is unending, and I watch it all year round. Speaking of, I might just go turn that on now... 
  39. Favorite movie of the last five years? I have no idea--I haven't seen a lot of movies in the past few years. Unbroken? Brooklyn?
  40. Movie that made you cry? I'm drawing a blank! I try to avoid movies that might make me cry. 
  41. Movie that made you laugh the hardest? Bridesmaids. Also: Napoleon Dynamite. It gets funnier every time.
  42. If you could make a documentary, what would it be about? Something history-related.
  43. Favorite TV show? The Office
  44. If you could make a cameo in any TV show what would it be? Gilmore Girls! I would sell my elbow to be able to pretend to live in Stars Hollow. 
  45. Best plot twist of all time? July 22, 2014. The positive pregnancy test. Dun dun dun.
  46. Twitter or Instagram? Depends on the day. I've been gravitating more to Instagram lately. 
  47. Who should everyone be following right now? Whoever doesn't beg you to follow them on snapchat or post a hundred hashtags.
  48. Favorite food? Pizza, hands down. I am easily pleased.
  49. Favorite dessert? Tiramisu or cheesecake. Or Tiramisu cheesecake (it's a thing and it will destroy you in the best way).
  50. Favorite band? The Avett Brothers
  51. Favorite solo artist? Jamie Cullum with Ben Folds a close second
  52. If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be? Jamie! And we could play a duet on the piano too? Oh my gosh, I'm getting worked up just thinking about it. 
  53. What would be the title of your autobiography? Where Did that Bruise Come From? Ok, that makes me sound like a domestic violence victim when in reality I just walk into things a lot. 
  54. Favorite sound? Waves crashing on the beach.
  55. Least favorite sound? EATING SOUNDS. Blech. I'm gagging just thinking about it. 
  56. Favorite animal? Horses. I've been obsessed with them my whole life.
  57. First celebrity crush? Jonathan Taylor Thomas? The guy who played Bernard on The Santa Clause? (should I admit that?)
  58. Current celebrity crush? I'm a married woman! But if you had a gun to my head, I'd go with Benedict Cumberbatch. Tall, scrawny, and accents must be my thing.
  59. What is your kryptonite? Lately, sugar. I don't want to talk about it.
  60. Guilty pleasure? The Bachelor/ette. I swore up, down, and all around that I would never watch it. The concept is awful! But then I found myself losing my mind with a crying newborn, and I happened to have my TV on ABC when Kaitlyn's season premiered last year, and I didn't have the energy to change the channel. And suddenly I found myself needing to know what would happen next. And that's the secret I've been keeping for the past year.
  61. Most proud moment? Giving birth. It's such a common occurrence, but I've never felt closer to being a superhero. 
  62. Biggest weakness? Baby clothes sales. I am so good at not spending money on frivolous things, but the second I see a romper on clearance I lose all self-control. It's all the fun of retail therapy with none of the body issues.
  63. Skill still unmastered? Playing the guitar.
  64. What is the definition of misery? Feeling like you've hit rock bottom with nowhere to turn. Also: taking care of a teething baby. Either/or.
  65. Biggest learning experience? Marriage and motherhood.
  66. What is your idea of a perfect date? Pizza and Netflix! I kid, though that is approaching perfection. Dinner and a concert would have to be the way to my heart.
  67. An experience when you felt the most nervous? Whenever I performed alone on stage. I still get jittery thinking about piano recitals. I was once so nervous I played the song perfectly, but in the wrong octave. 
  68. At what age were you the happiest? I think the age of 19-20 was my last vestige of total carefree happiness. 
  69. What’s one vice you wish you could give up? Coffee. I just can't. The only reason I could do it while pregnant was because the smell made me puke.
  70. If you could teach a college course, what would it be called? Nonfiction writing. Gimme.
  71. If you could star in any movie remake, what would it be? White Christmas! I grew up fantasizing about singing like Rosemary and dancing like Vera.
  72. If you were an Olympic athlete, what would your event be? Taking pictures of people without them knowing. If all else fails, I could always be a paparazzi. 
  73. If you could offer your 13-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be? Step away from the frosted eyeshadow, glitter belts, and bubble shirts, Michelle. Step away.


taking refuge

I've been sad lately. Some days it's been to the point that I've worried if my postpartum depression is coming back. Months of uncertainty and sorrow wore my optimism down, leaving me vulnerable and too weak to fight that all-consuming sadness. My heart has felt battered and bruised. It's been a long season of bad news and waiting.

We signed another lease this afternoon. We were supposed to be moved into our very own house by now, but we're not, so I'm rearranging the dishes in the kitchen cabinets to make me feel a little better about it. It feels like the social media world is full of dream homes and kitchen renovations lately. I can't paint walls or knock them down or install a subway tile backsplash, but I can buy pink and purple flowers and plant them in little black pots on the front porch. It helps. It really does. We've made a really good home here, one that I love, but that doesn't mean I didn't sign my name with tears in my eyes. Every time we promise each other it will be the last time, but there's no fighting the housing market or cash offers or water damage in the basement. I long for the day I don't have to stare at my wall of bookshelves, knowing someday in the coming months I'll have to box them up and carry them and load them and unload them and unpack them. I'm longing for permanence. It's like holding your breath and waiting for the exhale. 

It's easy to say your kids will hit milestones at their own speed, that you'll make friends if you keep putting yourself out there, that you won't be stuck in your apartment forever. But it's another thing to feel the defeat and discouragement when you try and try and it feels like nothing changes. But, feelings are deceptive. As James is always telling me, sometimes you have to let your heart catch up with your head. Until that happens, there's a lot to be said for eating lunch outside and making scones in the afternoon and planting flowers. Finding joy in simple little things. In this circumstance--as well as many others--I'm trying to take refuge in that truth that His ways are not mine. Earthly comforts will bring me no lasting peace. I know all these things are true, but sometimes it's hard to feel that. Some days are good, and I overflow with gratitude for my little family and our home and every thing in our life, but many days it feels like the fog won't quite burn off.

A large part of this is because I've looked to all the wrong places for comfort. I get frustrated and angry when things don't go my way. As a Christian, I know that I deserve nothing, even if my pride tries to tell me I deserve everything. My good works are as filthy rags. I've sinned in the eyes of God, and that merits death. But death has already been conquered for me. Death has no sting; I have eternal life. I have everything I could never deserve or work enough for. And when I shift my view back to this eternal perspective, everything falls into its proper place, and I'm filled with peace. The fog finally starts to burn off. Sometimes there is still sadness, because that's just a part of life, and sadness can be good. There's no use pretending we're happy all the time. But I'm taking refuge in the fact my feelings don't dictate the truth. And the truth is this world, this apartment, is not my home. Heaven is. And there is no greater joy than that.


in which I talk about bra shopping

I woke up yesterday feeling slightly more zesty than usual. I wanted to go out and experience life. I had dozens of ideas, but eventually settled on a lunchtime walk with James. Not the zestiest of ideas, but it felt right. I got myself dressed in a quintessential Michelle outfit: ripped jeans, striped tee, and converse. I was feeling better than I have in awhile. We were ready early, so I decided to kill a little time at the mall across the street from his office. Gracie and I could walk the mall like a retired couple! Speaking of which--we turned to go in a different direction at one point, and an elderly couple thanked me for moving so they could pass us. I felt like that tractor that finally pulls over to the side of the road so all the road ragey people can finally drive faster than 14 mph. Or is that just an Ohio problem?


We had an hour to kill, and if I'm being honest, I was glad we were there because I'm more than ready to say goodbye to my nursing bras. We may still be in the process of weaning, but the nursing bra uni-boob is not going to fly under the bridesmaid dress I have to wear in a few months. The way I feel about those things is the way I felt about my maternity clothes at the end of my pregnancy. I tried on my favorite pre-pregnancy bra to see if I could make a go of it, but it looked and felt like I was trying to smash a watermelon inside an egg shell.

We walked into a store and found the appropriate section after unintentionally walking through the junior dresses where I had bought my high school graduation dress many moons ago. The dresses--they are a lot shorter these days. Gracie pointed at the bras and tried to pull them off the racks while I accidentally banged the stroller into more than one display, earning myself a side-eye from the disgruntled employee hanging up pajamas. I grabbed a few selections, one from here, one from there, taking uneducated guesses at what my size might be. This girl who once cried because she was barely an a-cup is an a-cup no longer and is reaching much farther back on the rack. Be very careful what you wish for, teenage girls.

I tried to grab some basic choices to carry me through until full weanage occurs, when I will then buy myself whatever my little heart desires because I have made it to the promised land, except this promised land will no longer flow with milk and honey. I strollered the babe and the bras to the dressing room, which are now where the media has me a little bit convinced I will die due to the recent overflow of news stories of crazy things happening to women and children. I knew I was safe, but it didn't stop me from constantly searching the ground and door and walls to see if someone was filming me, because I'm nothing if not the slightest bit paranoid at all times. That was always a concern in the back of my mind, but now it's in the forefront, along with how I can eat chocolate and still lose weight and how to time naps around the gardner and his leaf blower. There is also something about dressing rooms that sends Gracie into a tizzy, because whenever we're in one (maybe two times ever) she screams like she's being attacked. Watching her mother try on clothes is literally the worst thing that could ever happen to her. She took her ponytail out and her socks off in revenge for the cruelty exacted upon her in making her sit in her stroller locked in place for 7 minutes. I should've known; she was in a terrible mood since I accidentally woke her from her morning nap.

I shoved an apple cinnamon oatmeal pouch and sippy cup at the flailing toddler-baby. The sippy cup was hurtled at the wall, but she ate the oatmeal until she saw me getting ready to try on the stack of unmentionables I had brought in with us. My state of undress reminded her of what she really wanted. I didn't even have a chance to put anything back on before she lost her cool, and in an effort to not annoy the entire store, I acquiesced before even putting a shirt on. So there I sat, scantily-clad and nursing my child whilst scanning the horizon for camera phones like the captain of a WWI ship scouting for U-boat periscopes (maybe I should stop reading war stories?). Nothing fit and everything felt like wearing a corset after a year plus of flimsy nursing bras, so I speed-strollered us out of there, leaving a trail of bumped and bruised displays and wide-eyed middle-aged women on the sidelines. We need to find a way to buy bras online and guarantee a good fit. It's 2016!

I may still be rocking the uni-boob, but I impulse-bought this shirt during naptime, so I guess you could say I won in the end.


currently, vol. 19

Laughing about: there are so many things about motherhood that no one warns you about. Especially if you're nursing and/or weaning. Which would explain why I was rotating bags of frozen vegetables under my shirt all day yesterday.

Feeling: weary. Last night is the closest thing I've had to a good night's sleep for weeks.

Eating: I just finished an everything bagel. I usually eat eggs for breakfast, but I am so tired of them. I never know what to eat for breakfast.

Listening to: Animal Fear by Marika Hackman has been playing in my head for a good two weeks now (I'm not linking to the original music video because it's creepy as heck, but the song is so good and groovy).

I've also really been chewing on the lyrics of Be Still My Soul lately. They bring me so much comfort on those hard days when peace and contentment feel so elusive.

"Be still my soul, the Lord; the Lord is on the thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; they best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; they God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below."

Drinking: you shouldn't even have to ask me that at this point in our relationship.

Reading: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. I wasn't so sure about it at first, but I'm fully invested in the story now.

Cooking: these beef enchiladas. So good you'll weep.

Watching: James and I have been rewatching New Girl. Just like The Office, it never gets less funny.  I've always been a lover of Schmidt (and always will be!) but Nick is killing me this time around.

Planning: summer roadtrips to visit family and friends, and wedding activities for one of my best friend's wedding in a few months. And also trying to figure out what to do today. I'm so off-kilter this week I can't figure out what to do with myself.

Learning: History is becoming a serious passion of mine. If it was at all in the realm of possibility, I would go back to school for it. After becoming a meteorologist, of course. I just finished reading Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys, which is a novel based on the true story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that rescued refugees from the Baltic regions in WWII that sank and killed over 9,000 people. Now that I'm reading Voice in the Wind, I want to learn more about the Roman Empire. I just want to know everything about everything. I have too many interests and not enough time!

Dreaming: the other night I dreamed that a very popular blogger called me to tell me I won a giveaway on her blog. She was incredibly rude and was annoyed when I asked her to repeat what she said, because I was in a van full of kids (???). She asked if they were my foster kids, and when I explained that I was just babysitting, she told me I was a horrible person for not fostering kids. It was the strangest thing. I woke up confused and then fell back to sleep to dream about tornados, a reoccurring theme in my dreams for as long as I can remember. I should start selling my tornado dreams to Hollywood; they are so dramatic they're guaranteed to be the next Twister.


anniversary haikus

Tomorrow is our 5 year wedding anniversary, which is mildly shocking. Since we all know haikus are the traditional 5 year anniversary present, I thought I would write a few for kicks and giggles since I'm feeling a bit nostalgic today about our rather unique wedding day.

The fourteenth of May,
in 2011
We done got married.

The flowers were wrong,
The caterer stood us up,
The DJ was crap.

Thunderstorms blew in,
And by the time we sat down
The food was all gone.

It all went so wrong
At least the pictures are nice?
Not pictured: chaos

Off we honeymooned
Where things seemed to follow suit.
Cancelled flights, lost bags.

A week by the sea,
Seemed to cure all our troubles,
Till we tried to leave.

Airport strikes, no flights.
We're stuck, no money, no room.
Stranded for two days.

It's been five long years.
Sometimes things will still go wrong,
Also really right.

Despite our rough start,
We're good and still going strong.
Let's go get tacos.