Monday, March 25, 2013

family

Ever since I was little, my ultimate goal has always been to be a mother. Nothing in the world is more important to me than that, and I can't wait for the day a few years from now when Jon and I will be able to add a little one to our family.

But for many, life throws them a hard-ball and makes becoming a parent more difficult. It breaks my heart to hear stories of a couple that desperately wants children but haven't been given the opportunity to have any.

My brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Madison Olson, have begun the process to bring a child into their lives. They've gotten approved for adoption, and now all they need is to find a child to love.

If you know of anyone with a baby that needs loving, wonderful parents, please check out their adoption page or their blog.


Mike and Madison

Friday, March 22, 2013

my favorite things about today

1I slept in until 8:50! Was I supposed to? No... Was it amazing? Yes. Definitely yes.
2The wedding is six weeks from tomorrow. BAHHH!
3I actually shaved my legs today. Hooray for not being stubbly and gross!
4I had two (TWO!) string cheeses at lunch today!
5I finished everything on my to-do list done at work. Yay productivity!
6Waffles for dinner! And they were the best waffles in the world. Possibly also the universe.
7I'm wearing old sweat pants!
8It's Friday!
9We only have three more episodes of LOST!
10I used a total of ten exclamation points in this blog post! (make that eleven)

This is how excited I was to eat real Belgian waffles in Belgium.
They were even more delicious than they look, too. :)

What's awesome about your day today?
Do you like exclamations points, too?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

a scarier side of the city of lights

I lived in Paris, France on a study abroad program four years ago. It was a beautiful experience, and there was so much I absolutely adored about it all.

Taken on my first day in Paris

But there was one day that I'll never be able to forget from my stay in France, and it's one that still makes me shudder.

I was in a busy metro station by myself in the middle of the afternoon during my first week abroad. I was scrutinizing a map, still trying to figure out which line to take to get to Garden of Tuileries, when it happened.

A man, obviously drunk and homeless, grasped me around the waist with one hand and dug his fingernails into my shoulder with the other. Panicked, I yanked away and booked it into the crowd with a spasm of adrenaline and fear.

But he followed me. He chased me through the throng and across the platform. He caught up to me, yelling angrily at me in slurred French. Then he started kicking me.

That's when a word I didn't even realize I knew in French came to my lips, and I screamed it at him until everyone within earshot turned around to watch.

The anger in his eyes blazed, but he recognized defeat. Too many witnesses.

So he stepped forward, dug his heal savagely into the top of my foot, and then stalked away.

It took all I had to get out of the metro station before I broke down into tears. I'd only been in France for about four days, but suddenly I just wanted to go home.

I was afraid of men for a long time.

This is what I wrote about the experience soon after it occurred:




Men

The padding of feet behind me, the shuffle of toes, the slap of soles against the concrete. I gulp. Refuse to look behind me. I might see Him again.

The sound is everywhere, mingled with the bubbly chatter of tourists and the refined conversations spoken in lilting French.

But the footsteps…

I crush my hands to my ears and flatten them against my skull. My earrings stab into my flesh like the pinpricks of His eyes on my skin.

Like a whisper behind me against the cobblestones, the footsteps continue. The whisper becomes a babble as it weaves in and out of all the footfalls that surround me in the street. The babble gathers strength and hammers my mind, its roar drowning out all thought.

Tears sting my eyes, hot blood floods my cheeks. And still the footsteps never recede.

The voice of a man leaps through the air beside me and I am sent shaking. My body reels away from the low vibrations of his speech. I understand him. I see him. But it is not Him.

The man asks me where the Sorbonne is. I mumble a few phrases in French, my eyes trained on the ground. I point. The man leaves.

I swallow down more tears.

I am almost running now. Running away from the footsteps, away from His voice.

But men surround me, they weave in and out of shops and stands and buildings. They are everywhere. And they are all speaking.

And I am screaming.

D├ęgage.

No sound escapes my lips.

I squeeze my eyes shut. Even as I do, I can see Him again. See the hungry look in His eyes, the grease in His hair, the grime in His skin. And His scent assaults me. Oil and alcohol. I choke.

And then I feel the grip of His arm around my waist, feel His filthy fingers curling into the flesh of my shoulder. The yank of His body as He tries to pull me away into the dark.

My eyes fly open. He isn’t here.

But they are everywhere.



What's your scariest travel experience?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

i dreamed a dream...

Okay. What the holy hannah hobo heck is going on with me? (Forgive my bad language)

I'm (almost) 23 years old. I've gone nearly that entire time with a relatively dream-less existence. Other than a few random dreams (you know, the one where you go to Prom naked, or where you fall off a cliff and get so worked up over falling to your death that you have a mini spaz attack in your bed), I'd never been one to have exciting dreams. Or weird ones. Or awesome ones.

I'd wake up, and I'd remember wisps of dreams, but never anything concrete.

I don't know what's in the water these days, but something is definitely up. I'm remembering my dreams like a crazy madwoman, and all of them are beyond weird.

Here are a few examples:

dream 1: in which the immaculate conception makes a second appearance
Pretty self-explanatory. I dreamt that I was hugely pregnant all of a sudden with a child I hadn't conceived. Nobody would believe that the baby had just popped into existence, though. I specifically remember one bit of the dream where I'm sobbing profusely screaming, "but I have no idea where this baby came from!" Everyone just laughs.


dream 2: in which i wake up on my wedding day three months too early
I wake up thinking it's February, roll over and look at my phone. It's May 4th. I fall off my bed in shock. Fiance's calling me asking me where the heck I am. Mom's calling me asking how come I didn't order the wedding cake. Bridesmaids are asking why they don't have anything to wear. I book it out of the house and drive to the wedding place, only to realize that not only had I not yet gotten the alterations done for my wedding dress, but I actually forgot to get dressed that morning. Yep. It was one of those dreams.


dream 3: in which i'm a sneaky shower-taking ninja
The landlord of my apartment has newly painted my bathroom and told me not to shower in there until the paint dries. But I need a shower (not in a I'm-disgusting-and-dirty kind of way, more in an OCD-I-must-shower-twice-a-day kind of way). So I sneak into the bathroom after the painters have gone and take a shower. But the painters figure me out and start banging on the door yelling at me to stop showering. And I try to pretend like I'm not actually there, but I fail because I have to go to the bathroom so horribly bad and the painters hear me using the toilet. Geez Louise.


dream 4: in which the gym starts on fire but i still want to work out
The title of this one is pretty self-explanatory, too. I show up at the gym, and find out that it's totally on fire (like, blazes up to the sky, polluting the earth with smoke, and all that jazz), but I don't want to miss out on my workout for the day, so I ignore the fire. Oh, and somehow I've lost all my clothes (why do our dreams DO that to us?!), and there are all these creepers trying to take pictures of me. And then when I get into the smokey gym, none of the treadmills work except for this one bizarro one that has a head that you talk to instead of a screen with buttons. And it looks like Ron Weasley but has a really bad sense of humor.




The list goes on... but I think there are a few things we can learn from this:
1I need a hobby.
2I am a workout maniac (as evidenced by the fact that I haven't been to the gym in close to a month...)
3Maybe I shouldn't shower twice a day.
4I should probably get more sleep than I do.
5I should definitely make sure to wear clothes to my wedding.
6I should learn better ninja skills. Like how to use a toilet without making any sounds.
7I don't fear fire.

Have you had any crazy dreams lately?
Do you somehow embarrassingly lose your clothes in half of your dreams?
Have you ever worked out in the middle of a fire?

Monday, March 18, 2013

because google friend connect is committing suicide...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

lose twelve pounds? check!

Hey, guess who's lost twelve pounds since the beginning of 2013?

Me, that's who!

This nastiness is what one pound of fat looks like (gross, right?) Looking at this makes me want to do the biggest victory dance ever that I lost TWELVE of these bad boys!

Call it "shedding for the wedding," call it, "dieting," call it "holy crap I didn't realize I had love handles til I saw that picture!" Whatever you want to call it, that's what I've been up to this 2013. And I couldn't feel better!

Knowing that there are probably several of you out there who want to lose a few pounds, I thought I'd share my "how I did it" secret formula of success. (Remember, I'm not a physician or an expert. I don't know squat about much. But I do know what works for me. So take it for what it's worth. :)

Ever heard of MyFitnessPal? If not, you definitely need to check it out.

They say that the number one way to lose weight is to simply log everything you eat. "If you bite it, write it."

I've tried doing that a zillion million times (yes, that is a scientific number). I've written things down in notebooks, in my journal, on the "notes" app on my ipod. I even guesstimated calorie counts. Somehow, it never worked for me. I'd log for about a week, and then I'd forget. And I'd misrepresent myself. And I'd leave things off. Soon enough, my food log was done. And I moved on to bigger and better things (like ice cream!).

MyFitnessPal is great because it does all of the work for you. All you have to do is say, "hey, I ate a bowl of Lucky Charms for breakfast," add that bowl of Lucky Charms onto the little app, add in the milk, and then you're off. It calculates the calories FOR YOU. So you can get onto doing better things. And also so that you can't lie to yourself and pretend that a bowl of Lucky Charms is only 70 calories (because, sorry, it isn't).

When you first get set up with MyFitnessPal, you tell it how much you weigh, how old and how tall you are, what kind of physical activity you do, how much weight you want to lose, how quickly you want to lose it, and then it calculates a daily calorie goal for you.

So let's say MyFitnessPal calculated that you should eat 1700 calories per day. You eat a bowl of Lucky Charms (110 calories) with skim milk (86 calories). This genius app calculates that you have 1504 more calories you can eat for the rest of the day. It makes it easy for me to know how much I can eat.

The best thing by far about MyFitnessPal (in my opinion) is that it has a ginormous food database. If you eat it, it's likely that the food is listed in MyFitnessPal. And if you make a lot of homemade food, you can put together your own recipes on the app, and it calculates the calories in your recipes, too!

It also has graphs that show how much weight you've lost, it gives you more calories when you exercise, and it has awesome community motivation and support on the message boards.

Oh, and it's FREE.

Nobody paid me to tell you about MyFitnessPal. I'm telling you because I think it's so dang stinking awesome. I'm down two pants sizes (a size I haven't worn since high school)! I look better, I feel better, and even though it was hard (anyone who tells you that a diet won't be hard is lying to you), it was worth it. And easier than any other diet I've done.

And. It. Works.

So, take it or leave it, but I think this app is the coolest app I've ever used.
(Sorry, I have't taken any photos yet. But I'll post them soon!)


How do you diet?
Have you ever used MyFitnessPal?
Do you like free awesome stuff?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

cross-eyed and proud.

If you've ever met me in real life, you've probably (okay, definitely) noticed that I have a "lazy eye." (I hate hate hate that term. I'd prefer that you call it by its scientific name, "Amblyopia." [What, you've never heard of that word? What normal place have you been living?!])

(I know my eye isn't that bad in this photo... I wanted to put up a good one, but I have this crazy tendency to delete/hide/burn all of the photos of me when my eye is all skeewompus. So this'll have to do. Sorry guys.)

To me, the term "lazy eye" feels so negative. It feels like it's my fault. Like my eye is being a lazy bum and just needs to get off the couch and stop being lame. But that's not what it is at all.

See, the story of my eyes started the day I was born, almost 23 years ago.

I was brought into the world on a summer evening with a head full of dark black hair (who knows where that went), dark olive skin (coming from a redhead mother--who knew?), and a pair of severely-crossed eyes. Cute, right?

The doctors told my parents that my eyes were nothing to worry about. Most kids' eyes are a little crossed when they're born. It would all straighten out with time, they assured us.

But mine didn't.

My eyes were stuck like that. And it wasn't until I was a few years old that God granted us a miracle.

One morning, my mom and dad were taking me on a walk outside in a stroller. A nice man with a kind smile stopped them to admire their baby. It was only after talking to my parents for a few moments that he mentioned that he was an eye doctor, and that their baby's eyes needed medical attention. If my parents didn't take me to the doctor soon, I could go blind in one or both of my eyes.

Mom and Dad took me to see an eye doctor right away, and my weird crossed eyes were given their first scientific name: Strabismus.

Strabismus isn't common, but is also not extremely rare either. It is basically when the eyes are not aligned (not as a lazy eye, but as a rule. Meaning that the eyes are always crossed no matter which direction they look). To compensate for the double-vision that results from crossed eyes, the brain (being the efficient machine that it is) learns to shut off the vision coming in from one eye. Which is all fine and dandy. Until the vision from one eye has been shut off for so long that the eye loses its ability to see at all.

I went onto the operating table twice when I was four years old. I was terrified. I can still remember lying on that bed both times, staring up at doctors with hairnets and surgical masks, trying my best to be a big girl and not cry, but not really being able to help it. And then I remember waking up afterward, absolutely blind for several days while my stitches healed.

After the second surgery, my eyes were mostly aligned. I was required to wear eye patches and do daily  eye muscle exercises to strengthen the weakened muscles and to make sure I kept the vision in both eyes until I was in high school. But the damage was done by that over-efficient brain of mine. In trying to help me by shutting off the vision in one of my eyes while I was cross-eyed, my brain lost its ability to use both eyes at the same time. Enter the new scientific name: Amblyopia.

So still, to this day, I only see out of one eye at a time. That means zero depth perception (which also lends itself to lots of hilarious mishaps on almost a daily basis). It also means that sometimes when I talk to people, they think I'm talking to someone else. It also means that 3-D movies? Yeah. Not so much.

But most of all, it means that I have a lazy eye. Because I only use one eye at a time, the eye I'm not using just pretty much does what it wants. And I have absolutely no idea unless either someone tells me or I look in a mirror.

But you know what else having a lazy eye means? It means I can tell who my real friends are. They're the ones who don't love me in spite of my bizarro eyes--they love me because of them. They're the ones who laugh along with my when I pour my milk on the counter because I can't tell where the cup is. They're the ones who don't even notice my crossed eyes anymore because it's so normal to them.

They're the awesome ones. :)

Where am I going with all of this? Let me explain.

I started wearing glasses when I was five years old. Since then, I've worn all shapes and sizes of glasses. I've come to love the way glasses help me see the world so much better.

I know that thousands of people wear eyeglasses. Some of them have Amblyopia just like I do, some of them don't. All of them are able to see the world so much better because of their glasses.

And that's why I'm going to tell you about GlassesUSA.com.

GlassesUSA is a company that sells glasses online. Not only are they easy to find, but they're also incredibly easy to use. They have pretty much every type of glasses imaginable. I kid you not. Want hipster glasses? They got 'em. Want librarian-style glasses? Yep, those too. Harry Potter glasses? Oh yeah.

You can browse by frame type, by shape, by gender styles, by price--the options are endless (I'm not kidding), and work for any eyeglasses prescription.

Not only that, but they also offer a 110% lowest price guarantee and a 100% satisfaction guarantee along with a generous refer-a-friend program. Additionally, you can stay up-to-date on all GlassesUSA happenings through their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/glassesusa) and their Twitter feed (@GlassesUSA).

And, because they love us, they've decided to offer all of my blog readers a fantastic 10% off discount! All you have to do is use the discount code: Blog10.

Not only that, but they have a page full of fantastic offers that you should definitely check out if you have a brain at all. :) Check it out under the "Sales and Coupons" tab on their page.

The coolest thing about GlassesUSA, though, is the fun virtual mirror you can use to try on your glasses. Check it out! I love the look of these frames. I picked my best model face for you. :)



Here, try it out for yourself!




Do you wear glasses?
If you purchase from GlassesUSA, make sure to tell me about your experience!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

pinterest didn't even help with this. i came up with it all by myself.

Sorry this is about a month late for Valentine's Day, but I figured I just had to share the stroke of brilliance I had when I made Fiance's Valentine's Day present.

See, I don't like store-bought presents so much. I like getting crafty. I love ripping up scrapbook paper, getting marker all over my fingers, and ending up sticky up to my elbows with glue. Nothing says, "I freaking LOVE your GUTS!" like a homemade present.

So, without further ado, I give you

(Drum rollllllll...........)


This baby is a countdown book. It is a book full of notes--one for each day from Valentine's Day until our wedding day. Fiance gets to read a little something from me every day so that he doesn't forget who he's marrying. It's great!


what you'll need:
1an empty journal. Preferably un-lined, but if you love lines, then you can get a lined one. Just don't say I didn't warn you that this will turn out better if you use an un-lined journal. Because I totally did.
2scrapbooking supplies. Whatever floats your boat. I had colored scrapbook pens, wooden buttons, scrapbook lovey dovey stickers, wedding stickers, and a book of fancy scrapbook paper. But go ahead and get lost in the craft store. Odds are, you'll spend way more money than you expected to, but your book will rock! (and that's what matters, right?)
3envelopes. As many as you need. Depends on how many days it is until the event you're counting down to. For me, I had to get 79 envelopes because there were 79 days from February 14th to May 4th. I also got a few different kinds of envelopes to add variety, and I really like the effect it created. Just make sure the envelopes aren't bigger than the pages of your journal!
4creativity. What do you want your notes to say? I had four different types of notes in my countdown book: quotes about love/marriage, favorite memories of us, coupons (you know, a la "one free massage" and "one free ticket out of the doghouse and into my arms"), and a few heartfelt letters here and there. You could put in jokes, photos, drawings, candy... you name it! It's your book, so do it your way!



what you'll do:
1glue an envelope on each page of the journal.
2write the dates on the outside of the envelopes, as well as the number of days until the event you're counting down to.
3decorate your envelopes. Add stickers, draw borders, glue buttons... whatever you want! Just make it your own.
4measure out and cut scrapbook paper to make cards that will fit inside of all of your envelopes.
5write out all of your notes
6stuff the envelopes. (warning... this will make the book a bit tougher to close--when it's packed full of love, it'll be a bit bulkier!)
7hand that sucker over to your lover!
8receive the "Lover of the Year" award because of how awesome you are.



What did you do for Valentine's Day?
Do you like crafts?
If you try making your own countdown book, be sure to let me know how it goes! You can email me at
whatsinaname.jessica@gmail.com
I love hearing from you!

Monday, March 11, 2013

worst. blogger. ever.

Yep. That's me.


Who hasn't written a post in a month and a half?

Boo.

I see all of these other blogs that get updated daily with tons of great content and new photos and hilarious anecdotes, and I say to myself, "Self... why can't you do that?"

I've been ultra busy. But who isn't busy these days? I have no excuses.

Let's see if I can be better.

What have I been up to?

Designing and printing wedding announcements

Taking Fiance to tuxedo fittings (and FYI, he looks even better than  George Clooney in a tux).

Registering for wedding gifts (Including giant forks, swirly straws, and candy bars, courtesy of Fiance).

Purchasing bridesmaid dresses, wedding shoes, wedding veil, and planning for wedding photography...

But I think the most important thing I've been up to is...


I got a new, grown-up, full-time, graduated-person job!!!

Now you're completely updated on my life! Congratulations. :)

So, what have you all been up to?