Thursday, May 14, 2009

Time for a Quick Rant!

I'm definitely super busy trying to get ready to go on vacation - with work, with Carter's graduation, etc. But I decided I needed to take a break for a few minutes today for a quick rant!

So this morning, I heard a commercial for Thomasville furniture. More specifically, the "Thomasville Promise". In other words, they are jumping on the same bandwagon that all the major car companies are:

Hyundai Assurance Plan

Chevrolet Total Confidence

Ford Advantage Plan

Seriously though, call it what you want to call it, but isn't that what part of what got us into this economic crisis?? We want a nice house, so we take out a mortgage we cannot afford. We want a nice car, and heck, if we lose our job, no worries, we're still covered. Same thing goes for furniture now apparently - let's not worry whether or not we'll have a job in 6 months, Thomasville will take care of it! Whatever happened to responsibility and living within our means?!?! I have definitely fallen victim of this from time to time..which is one of the main reasons I'm taking the time to rant. But in this day and age, who hasn't fallen victim to this stuff? It's everywhere. I mean, you want something TODAY at Lowe's? Open a Lowe's card and charge it! Want something at Neiman's? Charge it!

Statistics show that Americans carried approximately $832 billion in credit card debt in 2008 and that number is expected to grow to a projected $1,091 billion by the year 2010. This works out to over $5,000 in credit card debt per cardholder (not household) and that number is expected to increase to nearly $6,200 by 2010.

Probably the main reason I'm so interested in this is because I'm a marketing person. Yes, I'm sure that many of these offers will drive foot traffic into car dealerships, furniture stores, etc. which is exactly what they are trying to do, so good for them. But I'm also a realist, and I'm sure that the fine print for these offers is longer than anyone could imagine! These offers are NOT "no strings attached", whether they make it sound this way or not, you will eventually have to pay for that car!

I really think that a lot of America's problems (and my own) are because we all feel too much entitlement. We are entitled to a nice, new car and brand new furniture. Why? Because that's what we had growing up or that's what we didn't have growing up and deserve it now - either rationalization works here, and I've heard them both. Another big reason for entitlement is "because that's what everyone else has/does". What a difference I think it would make if we all just stopped caring what everyone else did and look to the real standard we should set for our lives - Jesus. I know it would definitely make a big difference in my life and allow me to be more content.

I'm so glad I can see these things, but most importantly, I've got to live them. I don't want to be so leveraged when it comes to finances. I want to be content. I don't want to be like the rest of the world. Christ says not to be, and I'm starting to really understand why.

Here are some verses I want to meditate on to help me guard against these things:

1 John 2:15 (NIV)
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

John 16:33 (NIV)
33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV)
27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

1 Corinthians 2:12 (NIV)
12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (NIV)
29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

1 Timothy 6:7 (NIV)
7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Luke 16:13 (NIV)
13"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

James 2:5 (NIV)
5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

James 4:4 (NIV)
4You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

1 John 2:16 (NIV)
16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.

1 John 2:17 (NIV)
17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fashion Forward....Or Not So...

As I have not been failing to mention, we are headed to Hawaii soon. Well, vacation for Michael and Allison, always means shopping. We both love to get some fun new outfits before we go on vacation. It's one of our "things" and we budget it into the overall cost of the trip.

I have always been a haphazard shopper when it comes to shopping for clothes, and I don't want to be that way anymore. For some reason, I used to morph into the style of whoever I was shopping with and that caused my wardrobe to be very strange and oddly eclectic. Like, if I shopped with my Mom, I would somehow always end up with godawful (sorry Mom!) Harold's or Talbots clothes that are just not me. Granted, Harold's is not all bad though I guess this is a moot point since it's gone now. If I shop with Michael, I end up with way too many trendy, chest baring pieces that aren't 100% me and also some random things like graphic tees (more on this later). Keeping my husband's tastes in mind when I shop though will always be a priority and to be honest, I do like showing off "the girls" from time to time.

Other reasons for my bad fashion issues include, but are not limited to:
-Pine Cove...sorry girls, but we sometimes dressed like idiots and the bandanas that we cut to make into headbands wouldn't even be cute on my dog, Kosmo
-Pine Cove...did I mention, I got a perm before I started working there during the summers because I thought it would be a good idea so that I could just wash my hair and go (this never worked because I cannot force myself to be that kind of girl and not once did I leave the cabin without fully drying and diffusing my horrific permed hair)
-Pine Cove/Texas A&M...for some reason, many of us felt the need to bring our terrible camp fashion sense to school with us and continued doing the headband/bandana thing (I'm not talking the cute headbands that Leighton Meester is constantly wearing on Gossip Girl)
-Texas A&M...anytime I wasn't wearing sweatpants, a t-shirt and my hair in a ponytail, I would get asked by multiple people: "Why are you so dressed up??"

Here are some horrific pictures of me at Pine Cove and at Texas A&M:

Yes, I believe that is a turtleneck that I'm wearing under my t-shirt in the above picture.

So I decided to go on a quest to finally determine my style and be more intentional about what I buy so I don't continue to end up with clothes that stay in my closet WITH TAGS STILL ON for another 10 years. Yes, I still have clothes in my closet after about 12 different moves, from 10 years ago. It's disgusting. One of the worst was my pair of purple corduroy pants from Abercrombie that I kept telling myself I might one day wear with my also unworn granola-ish chunky brown leather clogs. Yeah. I'm serious though. I really did tell myself that for 10 years. There is something wrong with me!!

Here are almost exact replicas of said outfit that was never worn:

And from now, I renounce my old fashion ways! After quizzing several trusted people on what they think my true style is and what looks best on me, I have finally come to my conclusion.

My true, authentic, ME style is not only what I like best but also what I feel most confident that I'm wearing it and not the other way around.

My signature style =
-Anything pink
-Anything feminine and girly
-Lots of dresses and skirts
-Anything dramatic and over the top
-Sometimes preppy, sometimes trendy, sometimes classic
Charlotte, sometimes Samantha (hardly ever, if ever Carrie...I'll never be among the first to adopt a trend, that is for sure)
-Limited jean-wearing
-NO graphic tees (sorry, I just hate them and cannot do it, but they probably look cute on you!)
-No neutrals and probably no J. Crew
-Lots of make-up...but in a good way
-Big, Texas-style curled and teased hair (very blonde and long, possibly with clip-in extensions)

So please, if you can help it....if we get together to go out for lunch or something, and I'm wearing a semi-casual "day" dress with flats (or even heels) and some nice or trendy jewelry and my hair done up like I'm about to participate in a beauty pageant, please please please don't ask "Why are you so dressed up?". I will forever thank you because, to be honest, I think there's nothing wrong with looking nice and getting dressed up for no real reason (though I personally do think lunch with a friend is a great reason), and I'm sick of having to answer that question. If I don't wear jeans, I consistently get asked that awful question, but the answer is "I'm just not really a jeans girl, sorry....this is what I'm comfortable and confident wearing and I don't need to explain myself, thank you very much".

And I realize the main reason I get asked the "Why are you so dressed up?" question is because whoever is asking the question is the one who feels insecure because they are wearing jeans and a graphic tee, but don't try to make me feel insecure by asking that question in order to make me feel like I'm too dressed up. Just let us each just be who we are. By the way, I'm not really speaking to anyone in particular's just a general rant about all people because it's something I face every day - at work, at home, at church, etc. :) Yes, I know I go to church at The Village and it's a sin to get dressed up for church....well, I'm a sinner anyway, so I plan to continue dressing up for church as much as I would if I still went to Prestonwood.

Even when I was a little girl, dresses were always my 1st choice:

These guidelines will hopefully help me avoid some of this in the future:

You cannot really tell in this picture, but I am wearing black suede chaps with lots of fringe over some soffee a.k.a. "cheer" shorts. The reason I know this is because I did this all the time. And yes, that is my horse, Chief in my backyard in Emerald Forest. My sweet Dad used to let me have him spend the night in our backyard because I loved it so much!!

No comment

I am color coordinating my soccer ball and pigtail hairbands (socks too if you could see the whole picture: left foot - pink, right foot - black) so they match the team colors...which is pretty much the main reason why I never ended up playing sports.

I actually like this girly outfit and big bow and cute snaggle teeth even though I'm sure this is a fashion faux pas in most people's book

Way too old to be wearing a jumper like this in the 4th grade!

And I plan to carry this better style sense throughout my entire life from now on...when it comes to decorating as well. I've been very haphazard about it....transitional, old world, contemporary, french countryside, traditional...well, no more.

Regardless of my decorating style, here's what I want my home to be:
-Clean and neat
-Orderly and uncluttered
-Elegant but casual

Before I buy things, I'm going to ask myself if it fits into the kind of statement I want my home to make. Essentially, I want it to be a haven for my family where we can live and be authentic while also being a place that is hospitable and inviting for friends and family. First and foremost, it's got to be live-able. My dogs have taught me that without a doubt!! Furniture should be used...not worshipped and not something to stress about when it comes to wear and tear...that defeats the purpose.

One of my favorite places that is the essence of what I love for the home is Ballard Designs! It's sort of a more girly, feminine version of Pottery Barn. Though I definitely like brighter colors than what they used in this season's collection.

Just to be clear:
I'm not dogging you if you are granola or otherwise "fashion-challenged"!! I just want to make that clear. If you are granola (or trendy or preppy, etc.)...just own it, work authentic and be YOU!! I'm all about keeping it real and that's the true meaning behind this post! And I do still like to wear sweatpants, a t-shirt and my hair in a ponytail from time to time as well!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Best day ever...

Really "best day once I get home from work" day ever!! Not truly the best day ever since that would include NOT working.

Here's what I'm coming home to though (don't be too jealous):
-A clean house (the housekeepers came today)
-Clean sheets (yes, they change our sheets - they are keepers! pardon the pun!)
-Tired doggies (they have been at daycare all day and won't be their usual hyperactive selves)
-Groomed, clean doggies (they got groomed today!!)
-Manicured lawn (we paid someone to mow the lawn today - usually Michael mows but he's been working so much he didn't have time this week)

Then, I'm leaving home once I get home, drop off the dogs and change because I have an appointment with John (the best in Plano...or all of DFW for that matter) to get my nails done.

Yeah...that's a good day...

I like all my home and dog responsibilities being outsourced on the same day.

It's even better when this all happens in sync like this when I'm having company on the weekend...which I am this weekend. Awesome! :)

Okay, I'm done bragging. I just realized how much I'm shelling out to get all of this done!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'm Baaaack!!!

# of March blog posts: 21
# of April blog posts: 6

Wow! That is a huge difference!! And I'd like to say I'm going to rectify the situation in May, but I have to be honest...we're going to be in Hawaii for 10 days and blogging will be the furthest thing from my mind. But I will definitely post all about Hawaii when we get back.

In the meantime, I definitely have lots of random updates (about enough to keep you busy for the entire month of May):

1. I have been meaning to tell you for a loong time that some things have changed since my artificial sweetener blog post. I essentially said "read my lips, no more artificial sweeteners" (and included stevia in the mix when I banished all artificial sweeteners from my diet saying I was sure there will be problems with stevia in the future just like how it ended up with splenda, equal, etc.). Well, it turns out I don't like coffee without sweetener, even when I use tons of milk, and I definitely am not going to start using real sugar (gasp)!! First, I just decided to give up coffee. I had no withdrawals when I gave up my daily morning cup because all of my addiction was to the artificial sweeteners. Then, Michael literally forbid me to give up coffee. He said it was "our thing" and one of the quirks about us that makes us the couple that we are....let me elaborate. When Michael and I first met, one of the first things that connected us was our love for coffee, especially Starbucks. We both had built Starbucks into our monthly budget and were each spending upwards of $60 at Starbucks each month ($2 a day for a venti cup of joe adds up quickly....imagine if we were big fans of lattes or something at $4 a pop!). So, Michael put his foot down, and I had to figure out what to do. I wanted to stay true to my words written in the artificial sweetener blog post! I tried agave nectar among many other natural sweeteners, but no dice. I finally realized the taste of stevia is a decent substitute, so I gave it a shot. I really do think it's the best option out there at this point, so for now, I am THAT girl who carries around little packets of stevia in her purse and thinks she's better than all you fools who are using splenda (just a pinch, I still reach for splenda if I have to, but that has become very rare). In summary, I'm taking my chances with stevia and making my hubby one happy man!! (P.S. we make our coffee at home now and no longer spend outrageous amounts of money at Starbucks!).

2. I love going to the movie theatre. I don't know what it is...maybe it's just that I cannot watch a movie at home without falling asleep on the couch, and I actually do (regardless of what Michael says) like to watch movies in full and actually finish them. And I love having popcorn for dinner...with layered butter (sorry Chels!). Maybe it's that I usually get to go for free because I use all of our debit card points to order AMC tickets? But I know one of the main reasons is because this is the time in my life to go! No kids, no responsibilities! It's just one of the spontaneous things I like to do during this time in my life!

Here are some of my reviews:

17 Again
Sure, this story has been told before: 13 going on 30, Big (well, that's opposite), Freaky Friday, etc. But how many of them had Zac Efron in it??? How many of them had Melora Hardin and Thomas Lennon in them??? Zac Efron is well....Zac Efron in all of his glory. The storyline between Melora (Jane) and Thomas (Ned) is hilarious and makes the movie worth watching for all guys!! The movie is well-written, sweet, entertaining and will not soon be forgotten!

Melora Hardin and Thomas Lennon (as Jane and Ned in 17 Again)

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Let me just steal one of Michael's quotes for this review: "I liked it better when it was called 'How to lose a guy in 10 days'". Matthew plays an annoying 30-something who viewers are supposed to feel bad for because he hasn't "found himself" yet and is commitment-phobic even when it comes to the "girl of his dreams", but it's just not charming anymore after the 20th movie, Matthew. Jennifer's character is not developed enough for anyone to even care whether or not they end up together at the end of the movie. This movie was a 100% waste of time and lives up to every cliche possible.

The Watchmen
If you know how the movie ends, let me know, and I'll incorporate your review into this post. I, on the other hand, walked out of this movie after one hour of wanting to commit suicide in the theatre. At least I got my money back.

He's Just Not That Into You
Cliche, cliche, cliche, cliche, boring, unoriginal, bad acting, still hate anything that Drew Barrymore stars in....need I go on??

Slumdog Millionaire
Really???!!!! This won all kinds of awards at the Oscars!!??! My review = "lame-O". One and a half stars. The "Who wants to be a millionaire" plotline was hokey and shameless at best. How annoying was the Regis wannabe constantly saying "Who wants to beee a 'meee-un-eeerre'"?? How incredibly depressing was the story? NO THANK YOU!!!

Role Models
HA-LAR-EEEEE-OUS!!!!!!! Have already seen it twice and ready to watch it again!!! I'm not a big fan of Paul Rudd (though he is the writer, so that probably needs to change), but have always loved Stifler (and his mom)....and Seann William Scott is as great as ever in the movie. The actor who makes this movie worth watching though is Jane Lynch. OMGosh! Where has she been all my life!?!?! She is absolutely hysterical! Ok, so you bs-ed a bs-er! Note to self: Add to "To Do" list - watch every movie Jane Lynch has ever been in.

Jane Lynch

Hannah Montana: The Movie
Review is forthcoming, but I have set a date with Amy to see this movie next Wednesday. I'm sure it will be incredible!!! Yes, for those of you who don't know me, I am 100% serious.

3. I planted 126 pink, purple, and white petunias in my front flower beds, and I am loving it!!! And they are loving all this rain!!

4. Madeline and Kosmo are NOT loving all this rain! They are fed up! They want to go on more walks and have big-time cabin fever. Madeline is reverting to her old bad habits of chewing up shoes and pooping in the house (at least we have wood floors) because the "princess" doesn't like to get her feet wet. She only pees once a day when I carry her outside and hold her by her collar and say "Go potty" a hundred times until she actually goes. Then, she prances back inside and acts mad at me for an hour. Kosmo on the other hand doesn't mind the rain, but just doesn't like that it means less walks and time spent outside. He always sticks his head out of the doggie door to look outside when it's raining. All you see is his little bootie and tail inside the house, while he peers into the backyard. It's so funny!

5. Madeline and Kosmo got groomed for the first time ever!!! I had been priding myself on the fact that I was brushing and bathing my dogs myself more than twice a month (to save $$), but then, I inquired about getting Madeline groomed and shaved a little (even though it's against Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breed standard) because her hair was getting incredibly long, and I felt bad for her getting so hot! Well, I realized that for $80, I can get both Madeline and Kosmo bathed, brushed, groomed, trimmed (hair and nails), conditioned, de-matted, and expressed (anal glands), so grooming is back on the table! The reason I am okay with spending $80 a month on grooming is because we were already spending $60 a month to get both of their glands expressed. They are the annoying dogs that require having that done at least once a month (yuck!), so since it's included in the price of grooming, why not get them groomed at the same time!?! Anyway, they looked beautiful and felt like brand new dogs!!! It's one of my new favorite things and makes me very very happy! They are getting groomed this Thursday, so I will post a picture of them after being groomed later this week. In the meantime, here's a favorite.

6. I bought my plane ticket so I can go visit Kristin and her newborn baby, Emery (and Josh and Wyatt too of course!!). To say I'm excited to meet Emery is the understatement of the year!!!!! I hope June 18th gets here incredibly fast!!! Here is a picture of Wyatt (3 1/2 years old) and his new baby sister, Emery. It will melt your heart!

7. To say I'm obsessed with Adam Lambert is also a huge understatement. He is incredible and by far the best Idol contestant!! He is electrifying and original...and is going to go all the way!!!!! His vocals are out of this world and he has everything it takes!

8. I have found some current music that I'm totally into! I know! This is BIG!! Actually, a current artist in general: Robin Thicke. And not just because he is Alan Thicke's son. I am seriously digging his music big-time!! My favorite is probably "Sidestep".

Here's a video of Robin performing "Sidestep" (before watching, just scroll down to the bottom of my blog real quick and press pause on my playlist):

8. Lifetime has been playing re-runs of "Reba", and Michael and I have been reminded of how much we absolutely love Melissa Peterman a.k.a. Barbra Jean on the show. She is absolutely hysterical!! Plus, we are big fans of DVR-ing re-runs of some of our favorite shows like: King of Queens, Friends, Seinfeld, Growing Pains, Full House, Who's the Boss, and Reba of course. If you have never watched an episode of Reba, it is worth it simply because of Barbra Jean....and Van!

9. I've hired the best babysitter and housesitter around to take care of things during our trip to Hawaii...and he's a college grad I might add!!! My brother, Carter will be holding down the fort while we're gone. I'm so thankful he's going to be doing this for us...and so are Madeline and Kosmo. I started writing the manual for him to refer to during his babysitting/housesitting about two weeks ago (and I apologize in advance)! But I don't feel too bad for him because I am paying him a pretty penny...just not quite as much as I would be paying Petsmart for the double private suite and daily daycamp.

I love my Carter!! Here are some fun/random pictures of him!

10. Kosmo's birthday presents are already starting to roll in! He's turning 1 on May 15th, and he's already received cards from Petsmart, G.W. Little, and an invitation to Nicki Cochran's (my SIL) graduation from Dallas Theological Seminary on May 9th! He is quite the popular dude!

So there's the update! I apologize for my shameless and self-indulgent excuses to exploit two of my favorite guys in the world on this post - Carter and Kosmo (Michael is #1 favorite guy by the way!).