Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fun Stuff. Show all posts

A Fall Survey



Is it cheating if I do a fall Q&A as part of my memory-keeping series?  I'm going for it, because this morning has been rough, and I'm not sure I have much more than a survey in me today.  Stealing this from Bekah, but I modified it a bit to add a memory-keeping flair (and to extract the Halloween-related questions, since we don't celebrate Halloween and I have nothing much to say).

1. Favorite Fall Sweet Treat?  I have a special fondness for candy corn and apple cider.  When I was a kid my dad would harvest our own hay for our horses, and we kids always helped.  We'd dress in our old, holey jeans, grab some leather gloves and hay bale hooks, and the whole day was spent getting filthy dirty, throwing bales into the truck and stacking them in our barn.  When we took a break, we'd head inside and my mom would have candy corn and spiced apple cider for us to drink, which made the whole thing less like work and more like a fall tradition.  So yes, candy corn and cider.

2. Red, Yellow or Green Apples? To look at - Red Delicious or Pink Lady, because those are the prettiest.  To eat raw - Fuji apples, which are yellowish!

3. Favorite Fall Sport to Play? Is there really any other fall sport besides football?  I am not really a sporty girl.  Does hunting count as a sport?  Because then I'd say hunting.  I come from a long line of hunters, and growing up we would hunt for elk and deer and live off the meat all winter.  I haven't really been very often since I've been pregnant for so many falls over the last seven years, but Derek is off attempting to restock our freezer right now.

4. Best Drink for Fall?  I really love Celestial Seasonings fall teas, but I unfortunately can't drink them while pregnant! 

5. Favorite Fall Activity?  From my childhood, the aforementioned hunting and haying activities always made it feel like fall.  I'd say in general though, my favorite fall activity is going on a hike somewhere with aspen trees - there is nothing like the smell of aspen leaves in the fall.  They have this spicy, woodsy smell, and it reminds me of my childhood.  My family was big into everything fall, and it was a busy, fun time of year for us, with the scent of spicy aspen leaves always in the background of my memory.  If I could bottle up the scent of aspen leaves in the fall, I would be a happy girl.

6. Must have Fall Purchase?  Candy corn, white mini pumpkins, and I have to admit, new boots/booties or scarves always tempt me this time of year.

7. Pumpkins: Pick your own or store bought?  Store bought.  I'm not sure I've ever actually bought a pumpkin from a patch.  They are cheaper from Walmart anyway!

8. Real or Fake Pumpkin?  I have no preference.  But I do hate when pumpkins start to rot, so fake pumpkins seem safer.  

9. College Football or NFL?  This seems like a politically charged question right now, but I can honestly say college football takes precedence in this house.  Derek has been a fan of the Buffs since he was a child, when his dad took him to his first CU game at six years old.  Derek took Wyatt to his first game this year since he turned six, so we're passing the tradition on!

10. Favorite Fall Memory?  Definitely hunting with my dad.  I started hunting big game with my dad when I was 12 years old, and I got my first elk.  It was exciting to get something, but the best part was just being out in creation with my dad.  I especially liked going in the morning, because it was always fun to catch the sunrise, and the early morning air in the fall was so invigorating.  I always remember my dad saying he feels most alive in the fall, and I feel the same way...I think my memories of hunting are a part of that feeling, because of the early mornings in the beauty of fall and the crispness of the air.  And then of course, taking snack breaks for Nut Rolls and Gatorade (those things never tasted so good as when we were hunting, let me tell you).

11. Raking Leaves or no Leaves to Rake?  To my children's mortification, we don't really have any rake-able leaves where we live in the mountains.  They so badly want to jump into a pile of leaves, but any piles that are raked here would end up being a rocky, muddy mess!

12. Favorite Soup?  In general, I love potato soup, but in the fall I'm a fan of pumpkin soup!  I found a recipe and made it for the first time after Derek and I were married, so it brings back good memories.  He, unfortunately, is not a pumpkin soup fan so we don't have it much.  But I like it!

13. Favorite Fall Candle scent?  Autumn Leaves, which is a Yankee Candle scent.  It smells woodsy and spicy - not as good as real aspen leaves, but I still love it!

14. Love or Hate Pumpkin Spice?  This feels like a complicated question - it depends on what we are talking about.  I like the actual spice in theory, and I love pumpkin flavored things in the fall.  But pumpkin spice lattes, for example, are generally just okay to me.

15. Short Booties or Tall boots?  For early fall, definitely booties because my feet get too warm in regular boots.  In late fall and winter, I like both!

16. PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte): YES or NO?  Again, just kind of okay to me.  I always feel like I have to have at least one in the fall, but I generally like other flavors better!

17. Hayride or Corn Maze?   Corn maze!  You get a lot more time out of a corn maze than a hay ride.  

18. Favorite Fall TV Show?  I generally hate most things on TV these days.  The things that I feel like watching most in the fall are: Gilmore Girls, Anne Of Green Gables, and 
You've Got Mail.

Please feel free to grab the questions for your blog, or answer your favorite ones in the comments!  I love these getting-to-know you surveys!



Somewhat Unexpected Joys



My, the last few weeks have been busy.  I think the nesting is officially upon us, and I've spent a lot of afternoons sorting through long-neglected corners of my house.  I've been trying to get things in order before this baby arrives, finishing projects, and spending a lot more time at home than I normally desire.  I'm typically an on-the-go type of person, but this pregnancy is bringing out the homebody in me, and I've been enjoying all our quiet days at home.  Actually I need the quiet days at home, because even a few hours out of the house these days leaves me exhausted!

All this being-at-home leaves me with a little more time to rediscover some simple joys.  These are a few things I've been surprised to be loving lately.

Sounds of the kids waking up from nap time.

Don't get me wrong, depending on the day and how exhausted I am this isn't always necessarily welcome, but the longer I'm a mama the more I like hearing my kids waking up from nap.  Maybe it's the fact that Wyatt doesn't nap at all anymore, so I've begun to let the "nap time is me time" idea go.  But seriously, they are so cute.  Some days they spring out of their rooms, cram their shoes on their little feet, and run outside.  Some days they are especially sleepy and wake up with mumbles and whines, and it's a prime opportunity to get some rare snuggle-time in.

Today, the kids have just burst out of the rooms after nap time and are upstairs right now, decorating the house with "fall stuff"; paper leaf and turkey creations that Wyatt put together while the others slept.  I am finding it really adorable.  I love that we've had this time to stay home and let their little creative juices flow.

Leggings.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm just not a leggings type of girl.  You will probably never find me in a grocery store in leggings or pajama pants.  I like some structure to my clothes.  So it's somewhat surprising how often I find myself reaching for my leggings lately.  Maybe it's because I am so sick of tugging on baggy maternity pants that won't stay up, or rolling down the band of maternity pants that are cutting into my bulging middle, but bring on the leggings!  Today I started out in jeans (they say to dress like you are going to be seen and you'll be more productive, right?), but now I'm sitting on my bed, typing in some glorious gray leggings, a tank top, and a chambray shirt.  Going-out appropriate?  (Not to me.)  But while pregnant-and-staying-home?  Complete bliss.

Making play dough.

I mentioned this on Instagram the other day, but it bears repeating here.  This summer, I was curious about Zdough, which is a scented play dough brand that was popping up on all the homeschool preschool feeds I follow.  I ordered some, and brought it out for the kids to play with the other day, and something about having play dough that smells good was just really fun for all of us.  In fact, pretty much anytime some normal thing can have a scent, I'm all over it.  

I popped back on Etsy the other day because I was thinking about getting some smaller tins for the kids' stockings this Christmas...and I realized that Zdough is only offering subscriptions right now since the owner is having a baby.  Which makes total sense, but also totally foiled my play dough plans.

This seemed like a good opportunity to just try to make my own, so I grabbed this recipe and gave it a whirl.  Then I made another batch.  And another.  I may have gotten carried away.

There is something weirdly therapeutic about making scented play dough.

So now we have three containers in our fridge, scented like pumpkin spice, almond, and orange cream (basically whatever flavorings or extracts I had in my cupboards).  The kids love it, and I weirdly love squishing it between my fingers too.  I promise I'm not turning into one of those wacko snowflakes who needs a safe space with play dough and puppy dogs in order to cope with life!  But if you have kids, use the excuse to try making play dough.  It's just kind of fun.

Bath stuff.

A few years ago, I purged my linen closet of all my bath products.  I was coming off of a stage of life where bath stuff was the go-to gift, and I just had way too much of it.  I figured that instead of limping along 8-year-old bottles of shower gel, I should just start from scratch and buy the stuff that I would really appreciate as a grown-up.  I still haven't really replaced the shower gel, but a few weeks ago I got a free $10 to spend at Ulta, and I chose bath stuff.  

Pretty much every time I have purchased C. Booth bath products I have not been disappointed.  Right now I have the Egyptian Argan Oil Body Butter and the Foaming Dry Body Polish And Cleanser.  Let me wax poetic for a moment, because I love this stuff.  It makes my skin feel clean and fresh and healthy and like I smell good (which is nice when my pregnant nose is picking up every molecule of weird scent from every corner of the world which I inhabit).

First, the body butter - I hate body butters that leave me feeling greased or sticky.  Heavy body butters usually get assigned to be my hand cream before I go to bed at night, and that's the only way I use them.  This is the stuff I actually use all over, because it feels light and refreshing on my skin.  And the smell is perfect - it doesn't smell like anything to me except clean.

Next, the body polish - this was a new product for me, but I'm so glad I splurged on it.  My skin has been feeling itchy lately, like it needed some exfoliating.  This is one of the more unique scrubs I've used - it actually is dry, like a powder, and I was a little taken aback when I opened the container.  But when you add a little water and rub it over your skin it doesn't feel like scrubbing with sugar.  It goes surprisingly far and does seem to foam a bit, and I like the smell.  It exfoliates without adding a layer of oil onto my skin.  It's just really nice stuff!  

Our math curriculum.

I mentioned in my first grade curriculum post that we are using RightStart this year, and more than once I've gushed to Derek about it in the evening when he gets home.  It just makes so much sense to me.  I think some people might have a hard time seeing where the curriculum is going with some of the activities, but I don't because it actually reflects how I think about numbers.  I can already see how Wyatt is grasping general math concepts and visualizing the numbers in his head, and it's kind of exciting to me!  I'm not necessarily a math person (though I did alright with it when I was in school), so I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying teaching Wyatt math.

Personality books.

Since my little Myers-Briggs "What AM I?!" mishap, I've picked up a few personality books and I am excited to read them.  I'm in the middle of one right now, and I'm hoping to get to the rest as soon as possible.  Reviews probably coming soon (also keep an eye on my Goodreads), but this is the list I'm working with right now (these are affiliate links):

Creative You: Using Your Personality Type To Thrive by Otto Kroeger (Have yet to start.)
Please Understand Me: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Kiersley (Have yet to start. Also, this is apparently a link to the second edition, and my library has the first...)
Reading People: How Seeing The World Through The Lens Of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel (Listened to Anne read the first chapter on her podcast and am anxiously awaiting my copy in the mail.  Also, the Kindle version is only $3 right now, so if you are interested, grab it!)
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (Almost done with it, and while I thought it was a bit hokey at first, it is making more and more sense now that I'm 3/4 of the way through the book.)

Maple pecan iced coffees.

The one on-the-go joy on this list.  Everyone loves pumpkin spice in the fall, but this girl is recently on a stricter budget, and I just can't swing $4-5 every time I want a coffee.  However, I have this horrible habit of thinking I need a coffee every time I'm running errands or heading to a playdate with the kids.  It's like the promise of the coffee is what gets me out the door and fuels my uncomfortable pregnant self to go to all the effort of strapping four kids into the car, then out of the car, then back into the car (repeat x amount of times).  

I was driving along running errands the other day, and decided to get something at Dunkin Donuts instead of the expensive-coffee-chain-that-shall-not-be-named.  I'm so glad I did, because they had their fall flavors out, and I struck coffee gold!  If you need a more affordable, and arguably more yummy, alternative to pumpkin spice, get yourself over to DD and try the maple pecan iced coffee!  It is so good.  I think I like it better than PSL, which was a happy and unexpected discovery.

Candy corn.

Of course.  Because it's fall.  I feel there is really no need for explanation here.  So maybe this little joy is the one that actually wasn't unexpected, but it's fall, so I have to mention candy corn.

What kinds of things are you surprised to be loving lately?





Recent Reads




I had every intention of doing a reading update every quarter this year...and that obviously didn't happen.  I've been meaning to write this post for the last six months.  Whoops!  I've been really enjoying reading everyone else's book round-ups lately, so I finally felt inspired to write up my thoughts.  These are a few of my most recent reads...excluding the books that I've already posted about on this blog.  To see everything I've read in 2017 so far, you can check out my Goodreads shelf (I write full reviews for every book I read on there).

Fiction

I've found that I typically can't handle really heavy or depressing fiction since I found out I was pregnant...so I've felt myself drawn to middle-grade fiction lately.  I think I've discovered a new favorite genre!  Not only can middle-grade fiction be surprisingly deep, but there is no danger of inappropriate language or situations, which I also have little patience for these days.

(Some affiliate links below...to help support my reading habits, you know!)




Flipped (5 stars) - If you've never seen this movie, GO RENT IT FROM THE LIBRARY RIGHT NOW!  It's an adorable coming of age/ middle school crush plot.  And I think I've mentioned before how I'm a sucker for coming of age stories.  The book is basically the movie in written form - they stuck really close to the book with the movie, so you could really read the book or see the movie and not miss much.  Needless to say, I loved every minute of it.




Wonder (4 stars) - This is coming out as a movie soon, so there's been some buzz around the book...and the audio was only $4, so I decided to try it.  I really enjoyed this story, about a boy with a facial deformity, and how he copes with it as he starts at a new school.  I totally fell in love with the characters in this book, and I thought it struck a nice balance between addressing more serious topics (like bullying) while still being fun to read (listen to), and not too painful for my pregnant sensibilities. I took off one star because of some references to reincarnation, which I thought parents should be aware of should their kids read this book.



 

Austenland/Midnight In Austenland (4 stars) - Total fluff.  I know it's total fluff.  But I loved every minute of these books too!  The plots of these books are based around a secretive vacation spot where women can go live for two weeks completely immersed in a Jane-Austen-era experience - included actors who romance them, so they can be just like an Austen heroine.  Some sexual innuendos in these books, but generally pretty mild compared to most secular fiction.  The plots were just too fun, I laughed out loud several times, and the endings were cute.  I liked the second one even better than the first, but start with the first.


 

The Ark Plan/Code Name Flood (4 stars) - These novels are set in the future, after biologists bring back the dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs take over the world, forcing mankind underground.  If that plot synopsis doesn't suck you in, I can't do anything for you.  Nothing too meaningful in these books, and some evolutionary references, but I could hardly put them down.




The Secret Keeper (5 stars) - I read grown-up fiction too, really!  This was my first Kate Morton book, and I'm kind of scared to fully dive into another one now, because I loved this book so much.  I'm not sure any of her other novels will compare.  The thing that really drove this up on my list of favorites this year was the way the book ended.  There was a twist, and I loved the way it all turned out.  I don't do sad endings.  See Goodreads review for full content disclaimers, but I really liked it.




The Husband's Secret (1.5 stars) - I keep trying Moriarty books because I liked What Alice Forgot so much, but I've generally been disappointed.  Nothing can measure up to Alice.  I really didn't like this one.  A lot more inappropriate content than some of her books, and I didn't like all the cheating.  It left me regretting the time I spent reading it.  Bleh.


Non-Fiction

I've read some pretty stellar non-fiction this year, and several of those books already received their own review on the blog, so please check them out here!   Here are a few more though.




Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide To Unshakeable Peace (5 stars) - I listened to the audio of this, and I thought there was a lot of encouragement and practical advice for homeschool moms here.  I'll probably re-read this one again, to catch some of the stuff I missed on audio, but I found it really helpful to gear me up for starting homeschooling this fall.




Boundaries (4 stars) - This is practically a classic, but I've never read it before a couple months ago.  I picked it up because I've recognized that I am one of those people that often has trouble saying no, and I've been trying to get better at it this last year.  This book is about setting boundaries in your various relationships, and also with yourself.  I didn't agree with everything in it, but it was still an interesting read!  If you're into psychology at all, you'd also probably find this one interesting.




Escape (4 stars) - Prepare to be disturbed if you pick this one up!  Carolyn Jessop tells her story of escaping the fundamentalist Mormon church.  I found a lot of the (pretty graphically described) abuse in this book disturbing, but it was also hard to put down because I wanted to see how she finally escaped.  It ended on a bit of a hopeless note though, which didn't help with my general level of disturbedness (that's a word, right?) - but I did learn a lot about Mormonism, and it made me add Jessop to my prayer list.



Why Men Hate Going To Church (3.5 stars) - I've heard this author speak on a couple of my podcasts, so when the audio of this book went on sale, I grabbed it.  He brings up a lot of interesting points about why church (as in church services on Sunday) is not appealing to a lot of men.  The thing that bugged me about this book was that a lot of his points were supported by personal anecdotes...I thought the book would have been a lot stronger if he could have provided some research to back up his thoughts.  However, it did get me thinking about how churches are generally more geared toward women (which is pretty undeniable), and what to look for in a church if you want your man and/or sons to feel at home.  It came in pretty handy since we've been in a position of looking for a new church recently.




Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church And What You Can Do To Stop It (5 stars) - I read this book for free online, and you can too!  Or you can buy the Kindle version for only $3 right now.  We are young earth creationists and Ken Ham fans in this house - if you aren't, your toes may be stepped on with this book, I'm not going to lie.  Ham argues that a big reason many young people have left church is because they do not take a strong view on the authority of Scripture (including Genesis) - and he presents evidence that they are picking this up because of a weakened view of Scripture in our churches (and homes).  Unlike the book above, this one was really well supported by a survey study, and Ham breaks down the results and gives his opinion on where we are going wrong.  I found it really fascinating, and once again, the points he made were good to think about as we were picking a new church.




Currently, I am reading World Religions And Cults: Volume One by Bodie Hodge (really interesting and informative so far), Loving My Actual Christmas by Alexandra KuyKendall (I need as much help as I can get in this area), and More Than Just Making It by Erin Odom (financial stuff, which I could also use help with since our budget is a lot more restricted this year).  I've also abandoned many books that just weren't doing it for me this summer (maybe those deserve an extra post).

Have you read any of these? What have you been reading lately?

Capsule Wardrobe While Pregnant - Why And How




I've mentioned that I am feeling the need to organize everything right now, and a few weeks ago that manifested in the decision to create a capsule wardrobe.

I did a 30x30 challenge several years ago, but beyond that I have never tried putting together a capsule wardrobe.  I think the last straw for me was realizing that I have been wearing the same 10 pieces of clothing for the past few weeks, mainly because my dresser drawers are stuffed so full of clothes that it is too much work to pull everything out and see what's going to work while I'm pregnant.  What's the use of having all these clothes if I don't wear them?  Why do I even have all these clothes anyway?  I haven't worn some of them in years.

So I spent a couple days listening to podcasts about capsule wardrobes, which were really popular a few years ago.  I think the trend has faded some, but the underlying idea is still really useful - which is to create a mix and match wardrobe with a limited number of pieces.  To get the full experience, you are supposed to wear only those pieces for 3 months and not buy anything new.

Why?

I decided to give it a go with a couple goals in mind:

1. To clean out the old clothes that just aren't doing it for me anymore.  I tend to hold on to old clothes much longer than I should, hence why my wardrobe is outrageously large right now, even though I only wear probably half  of it.  I don't want the extra clutter around after baby comes, so this seemed like a good time to tackle it.

2. To give me some space from the things I'm holding on to "just in case".  My situation is a little unique since I'm pregnant - I don't want to get rid of everything right now, since some of it may be what I need for that postpartum transition when nothing fits.  However, once I'm over that stage after the baby comes, I'm hoping that working with a smaller wardrobe for so many months will give me a good idea of the things that are really useful in my wardrobe, and the things I can let go.

3.  To have less things.  The end goal (which will probably take me a while to achieve) is to have a MUCH smaller wardrobe with only things that I really like, and to give me more specific parameters to work within when I'm buying new things.  This will be a process because of factors like the need to have different clothes for different seasons, and not being able to afford to replace "meh" items all at once.



How I'm Doing This While Pregnant

When I first started feeling like I wanted to try a capsule wardrobe, I thought maybe I should wait until after baby before attempting this.  But the clothing excess just got to be too much and I decided to go for it.  My friend Cassidy made a good point that pregnancy is actually the ideal time to start a capsule, because you are already working with a limited wardrobe anyway!  

The capsule I ended up creating is largely made up of things that I can wear whether I'm pregnant or not, with just a few maternity items mixed in - I think this will be perfect to give me more of an idea of what items would be useful in my wardrobe after baby.  I can replace the maternity items I really liked with non-maternity alternatives - either from my closet or the store.

One thing I am NOT doing while pregnant is actually giving away my "meh" items.  I do remember what things I liked before I was pregnant and what things I never wore, but that postpartum time can really throw you for a loop.  I want to have options when I'm working through that transition phase, before my body goes back to normal.  I'm putting all my "maybes" in storage, and then after I feel relatively normal again post-baby, I'll go through them and get rid of the things that I still don't want.



My Process

Here is what I did to assemble my capsule wardrobe.

1. Pile everything on the floor and start sorting.  

For my purposes, I sorted into a "Like It" pile, a "Maybe" pile, and a "No" pile.  The "No" pile was pretty small, sine I'm not getting rid of too much until I see what fits after delivery.

2. Store the "Maybe" pile, get rid of the "No" pile, and organize the "Like It" pile.  

I sorted the "Likes" into categories, so a pile for cardigans/sweatshirts, a pile for tops, a pile for pants, etc.  Since I'm doing this for a maternity capsule, I did a separate step in here and sorted each category pile into a group of things that would work during pregnancy, and things that won't.  I put the things that don't fit back into a separate drawer until after baby.

3. Think it through.  

At this point I was left with a bunch of clothes that I could wear while pregnant, so now the goal was to narrow it down to the things that I WANT to wear while pregnant.  I sat down with Caroline's capsule planner, and thought it through a bit before I started.  Some of the pages in this planner didn't quite fit my situation since the goal was to make a maternity capsule, but it was still helpful to slow down and think it through before I started.  

4.  Start narrowing it down.  

The capsule planner suggested to pick 8 items that you like and that you find yourself wearing a lot, so you can see what it is you like about them.  I did that and ended up with a basis for my capsule!  After I had those 8 and had thought through the rest of the planner, I grabbed the list in this post to fill some things in.  I tried to think through each item I added to make sure that it would mix and match with more than one other item, and to make sure I really did actually like it.  It's crazy how confusing a large wardrobe can get when it comes to my affection for certain pieces.  I had to think about whether I really liked the piece as a whole, or whether I just liked one aspect of it (the color, or cut, or whatever).

5.  Commit to the capsule.  

After all that sorting, I ended up with 40 pieces, not including shoes or accessories.  This is pretty large for a capsule wardrobe, but I allowed myself some wiggle room because 1) this is my first attempt, 2) I am working with a growing belly and changing seasons at the same time, and 3) I fully intend to further narrow it down as I figure out which pieces are my go-to's within this capsule.

Here is the final selection (excuse the fact that these items were hastily laid out and aren't exactly wrinkle free - done is better than perfect):

Tops






Pants


Skirts


Dresses




Finishing Pieces


Hopefully you can see how these will all fit together, but if not, expect to be wowed by my outfit-making skills! I'll try to post periodic updates on Instagram and this blog over the next few months.

What Now?

My goal is to only wear these 40 pieces until after baby comes!  I will allow myself to switch out a couple items when the weather turns cooler (short for pants, tanks for long-sleeves, etc.), but for the most part, this is it.  I am actually really happy and excited about the items I ended up with, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't have to purge my closet of patterns and color to make a capsule wardrobe!

(Update: It's been a few weeks since I wrote this post, and I've been sticking to my capsule.  I can already see which pieces are working for me, and which ones aren't, and I'll be allowing myself to make a few adjustments in the next few weeks as the weather gets cooler and the belly gets bigger!)

Have any of you tried a capsule wardrobe?  
(If you are a blogger, post please!  I'd like to see!)










Solar Eclipses & Personality Types




Confession: I was this close to not doing anything for the solar eclipse this week.

My thought process was that solar eclipses are cool and all, but do I really want to spend $10 a piece on glasses?  And how many stops will I have to make with my FOUR kids to find these stupid things? And will it really be worth it since it's only a partial eclipse where I am anyway?

I think I've reached that point in pregnancy where anything that requires too much effort and isn't absolutely necessary just isn't really worth it to me.  Plus, I was a little paranoid about the kids hurting their eyesight.

So I really had no plans for anything, until I was laying in bed last Saturday night with sudden anxiety when I realized that I might be depriving my children of something. What kind of homeschool mom skips a solar eclipse?  On the first day of school, no less?  What was I thinking? How could I have even considered stealing this experience from my kids?!

In my sleep-deprived haze, I settled on cereal box projectors, which I was more comfortable with anyway because of the whole eyesight thing.  We had a grand ole time decorating them and checking the eclipse on Monday.  The kids did try to glance at the sky a couple times, but I scolded them enough to put the fear of retinal scarring into their little hearts.  I'm glad I actually did something with them after all!  We had 93% totality, and it did start to feel like evening there for a bit, which was cool.  Complete totality would have been better, but in 28 years another eclipse is coming through that puts us right in the path of totality, so I'm just going to wait until then.

 (That's glitter on my nose, from our decorated boxes.)



(I didn't realize I needed to make the hole so tiny for the box to work, so that's why there are several holes.)

On Monday evening after that eventful day, I went to work out and I tried out a new podcast.  Despite it being a fun day, I was having a particularly anxious/getting-down-on-myself type of day at the same time, and I needed a distraction.  I listened to Personality Hacker, and I came home feeling like I understood myself better and determined to find out Derek's Myers-Briggs type so I could understand him better.  He took the test, and I thought I'd take it again too just to see if any of my percentages changed.  I was confident I would still be an ENFJ, and I like that type.

Imagine my surprise when the test tells me I'm now an ESFJ!  What?! No!  I knew my type!  I have a type!  You can't just change it on me!  I retook the test.  Same result.  I read the description.  It didn't sound like me. I retook the test on a different website.  Now I'm ISTJ.  Huh?  I read the description.  Nope.  

At this point it's 11:00 PM, and I'm exhausted, so I put the computer away and decided to figure it out later.  It took me at least a half hour to fall asleep, because this was all just so upsetting.

I woke up in the morning and pulled out my laptop again (I get a little obsessive about things when I'm pregnant - yes, I'm blaming pregnancy).  I retook the test again and adjusted some answers - it said ENFJ, but now I felt like I cheated.  So read an article about cognitive functions (which is what this whole crazy test is based on), and it seemed to me I'm an Introverted Intuitive, Extroverted Feeling.  Which would make me an INFP.  I read the description.  It sort of sounded like me, but not really, because I'm just not a dreamer.  I don't think of myself as a dreamer, I don't daydream about things or invent fictional characters.  I call myself an optimistic realist.  

I went back and read the ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ, ISFJ, and ESFJ descriptions, and then all the descriptions of their cognitive functions, and I finally decided that I'm...wait for it...an ENFJ.

So that was a lot of effort to tell me something I thought I already knew!  Ugh.  I'm just going to own that type now though and not retake the stupid test.  I read somewhere in the midst of all this that it can be hard to type a person if their personalities are really underdeveloped, or if their personalities are very developed.  I'm going to say I'm just a very developed person.  Because very developed people clearly spend 3+ hours scouring the internet with anxiety, trying to figure out their type.

Now I'm completely exhausted and have been dragging myself through the day.  I had things to do this week, Personality Hacker!  Sheesh.

So out of curiosity, what Myers-Briggs personality type are YOU?  
You can start with this test here.  And I'm sorry in advance if this leads you on a wild goose chase that keeps you up half the night.  


How We Saw New Orleans In Two Days (And What You Should See If You Go)





I am pretty sure we squeezed every ounce of New Orleans adventure that we possibly could out of 48 hours in the city.  I landed in New Orleans at 1:23 PM on Wednesday, and left for the airport at 12:50 PM on Friday - it felt like a strangely relaxing whirlwind!  I am so glad we took the chance to have a pre-baby getaway to a place that was brand-new to both of us.

More on where we went and what we did below, but first, pictures.

DAY ONE















I am pretty much a mountain girl, and rarely spend this much time in the city...so while I think my urban photography skills could use some help, this whole trip gave me a great chance to practice!

Here's what we did the first day:

-Arrived in the afternoon at Hotel Monteleone, which was so pretty! It also is home of the Carousel Bar, which is a rotating bar - we didn't get anything there, but it was cool to see it.

-Derek finished his conference class, and we set out to explore the city!  We walked to Jackson Square and saw the oldest operating cathedral in the US.

-We also found some pretty doors to take pictures in front of.  So many of the streets were so picturesque!  If I lived there I would be hunting for good photo spots all the time.

-Stopped at Bourbon Street - that would be the picture where I am not grinning.  It was so gross!  Nothing pretty about that street at all, unlike the rest of the French Quarter.

-Went to the Palace Cafe for dessert.  Derek got the bananas foster, which they made right in font of us!  I got the lemon pie.  Both were excellent!

-We also grabbed dinner, just at the Marriot because it was most convenient that night.  We discussed baby names!

-Went back to the hotel and crashed at like 8 PM, home time.  I was so tired from traveling.

DAY TWO
















What we did on the second day (our only full day):

-Got some coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I loved that place!  It was clean and pretty, and they played oldies.  I already waxed poetic about it on Instagram, see more there.

-Walked back to the hotel and waited for my tour bus to arrive while Derek went to the conference.  I booked a city tour with Cajun Encounters, and it was definitely worth the money.  The tour guide (forget his name, looked like Ashton Kutcher) was one of the better tour guides I've ever had.  I wouldn't have seen nearly as much of the city without it, and I learned so much!

-The tour stopped by one of New Orleans above-ground cemeteries.  It was creepy and interesting, because the reason they bury that way is not what I expected.  Much too gruesome to describe here for all my posterity to read, but comment if you want to know and I'll explain.

-Other things I saw on the tour: Creole millionaire's row, Creole neighborhoods, Jackson Square again, the Tomb Of The Unknown Slave (which was interesting but so sad), the Garden District, and of course the cemetery.

-The tour also took us to a cafe called Morning Call, and we got free beignets and coffee as part of the tour!  Score!  These were actually my favorite beignets from when we were there.

-After the tour I went to a buffet for lunch (a little intimidating walking through the city by myself, it is so busy there).  The food was okay, but the desserts were amazing!  Every dessert I got in New Orleans was fantastic.

-Went back to the hotel and waited for Derek to get off from the conference. This was when I washed my hair - a turning point in the trip, because I washed out all my good products from home, and my hair responded way differently to the humidity without my products!

-I had intentions of sitting by the pool, but it was actually raining that afternoon, so I sat at one of the covered tables on the pool deck and started narrowing down our list of baby names and looking up meanings.  Derek and I really wanted to use our time alone on this trip to get a short list of names for our girl!

-We decided to go ahead and book a riverboat cruise!  When Derek got out of his class, we got dressed and walked over to the river (we might have stopped and bought some maple fudge on the way).  It was a jazz dinner cruise on a steamboat called the Natchez, and it was an excellent decision to go.  The music was amazing, the views were so pretty, and the the steamboat horn was so deep and cool-sounding.  We got back when it was dark, and the city lights were so pretty!

-We took a pedi-cab back to the hotel - good because our feet were hurting, scary because our driver was nuts!  I thought we were going to tip over!  But hey, a 15 minute walk only took her about 3 minutes, so she was efficient!

DAY THREE






















What we did on day three:

-Got more coffee at French Truck Coffee.  I miss that place!

-Walked over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and orange juice.  

-The humidity was out of control that morning!  My hair was wet by the time we got back to the hotel, but we stopped at several gift shops and a gallery on the way back (partially to escape the heat!).  I practiced more photography in the city.  We bought pralines for the kids, and a Christmas ornament with Santa riding an alligator.

-The gallery we stopped at had these unique paintings - the artist layered the pain on really thickly, so it had a 3D effect,  I wish you could see it better in the picture, it was pretty cool!

-At this point Derek had to leave me again, and I took another shower before packing up my things.  Derek had already packed and gone, because his flight left several hours later than mine, and he and some of his co-workers were going to do a swamp tour that afternoon!  I have to admit, I was a little jealous of the swamp tour.  He got to feed alligators!  And hold a baby alligator!

-After washing my hair, I went to lunch at Mr. B's Bistro, right across from our hotel.  I had the gumbo and the molten chocolate cup cake.  Oh my goodness.  It was so good!  I gushed to Derek in a text about it, so he and his coworkers ended up stopping there too before they flew home.  It was just really good.  In my book, you pretty much HAVE to go there if you visit New Orleans.

-The airport shuttle picked me up, and home I went!  I was sad to leave, but my hair was not sad.  I worked on middle name pairings for baby while I waited for me plane.

I am so glad Derek and I got to explore New Orleans as much as we did, and it was a great time to reconnect (and think of some names!) before our little girl arrives in less than three months!  

So if I was to make recommendations for a quick trip to New Orleans:

-Take a tour.  They are definitely worth the money, and you see so much more that way!
-Jackson Square was really pretty, definitely walk over there.
-Eat at Mr. B's Bistro.  It's a must.
-Try to find somewhere to listen to some jazz music!  We did the riverboat, but I'm told Frenchman Street is a good place to go too.
-Bring your good hair products if you have even a slight hint of curl/wave!  Your hair will thank me for this one, trust me.
-And get some beignets somewhere!  It's kind of a New Orleans requirement, I think.



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