A while back, I asked my friend Nick, who's lost nearly 140 pounds, about the benefits to losing weight, from his perspective. I supposed I could easily come up with my own list, but I wanted to hear what he had discovered were the best things.

It took him a while, but he finally did it:
Part 1
Part 2

Its serving as great motivation for me this week, in large part because its got me thinking about the road so far, and the weight I've lost to date (40 pounds, all in all). I'm working toward my first big goal, and it's close - hopefully only a few weeks away.


This is the song we sang at the end of the service today that had me in tears:

more jewelry.

First, if I know you in real life and ever buy you Christmas gifts, you might want to stop reading here, or you might see something you'll be getting in December.

Last year for Christmas, my sister Kelli gave me this really great, really long necklace, and I love it. The idea from them is simple enough, so I wanted to try making some. These are my first four attempts - all are long, and most are long enough to double up. At least three of these will be Christmas gifts.

I made this bracelet with leftover beads from one of the necklaces above.

shower invitations.

Lots more creating going on here this week. I've got a couple more pictures of jewelry to post, but first, these are the invitations I created for my friend Melissa's bridal shower in a few weeks.

I've done similar invitations before, with the layering of scrapbook paper and the ribbon as a way to tie it together. But the design on the invitation itself, that I stole from one I saw online. I wish I could remember where, to give them credit.

if i didn't have dogs.

If I didn't have dogs...

...I could go away for the weekend and worry more about gas money than the cost of petsitting.

...I wouldn't have needed to replace shoes, books, or my cell phone.

...dirty floors wouldn't be inevitable when it rains.

...I could take up the whole bed by myself.

...I wouldn't feel just a bit guilty when someone walks in my house wearing black.

But if I didn't have dogs...

...there would be no one watching out the window for me to come home.

...I'd look crazy talking to myself all the time.

...I'd be a lot more selfish and self-centered.

...I wouldn't know the joy of curling up with them in the corner of my sectional, with the afghan my mom made me.

creating again.

Its been a while since I made jewelry, not because I don't enjoy it, but because it was a lot of work to get out everything I needed, and often dangerous with a new foster dog that likes to chew everything.

And, I think I bought too much stuff, and got a little too overwhelmed with possibilities.

But this is the time of year that I start thinking in earnest about Christmas presents, and as I have a rule about finishing all crafting for gifts by the first of December, I knew I needed to get started if I really wanted to get all the gifts I had in mind finished.

Here are two of the most recent projects, both charm bracelets. Please keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to photograph jewelry - I've yet to figure out a way to do it that really shows well.

This first bracelet is a Christmas gift for Ally, my sister's boyfriend's daughter. She's 10 years old and love girly things - hence the pink and purple, and the butterflies and flowers.

I created this bracelet as a thank-you gift for my friend Bethany's parents, for hosting us at their lake house for Labor Day weekend. I tried to personalize it with charms that fit Beth's mom - family, faith, boating, and quilting. Several of the charms are from Charmerz, a great Etsy shop with a huge (and inexpensive!) collection.

i remember.

I think every generation has at least one significant moment in history, one where we can all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we got the news. My mom and dad remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot. And I remember where I was when I first heard that a plane had struck the World Trade Center.

I was in my car, on my way to take the train into Chicago for work. They interrupted Eve 6's "Here's to the Night", so I always think about this when I hear that song. I listened to the radio in the car as long as I could, called my mom, then gathered the rest of the news by the bits and pieces of cell phone conversations I could overhear on the train.

By the time I reached the city, everyone was getting out of the city as fast as they could, because no one knew where the next plane would hit. I remember thinking that I worked in a fairly short building, only 5 stories tall, but there were plenty of tall ones all around me.

Its interesting to me that these moments stick in our minds with such clarity, years or even decades down the road. I think its important to remember, because those moments represented a significant change in our world and our culture.

But there are other moments that its equally important to remember. This is why God instructed the Israelites to build monuments and to choose significant names for places, because it was a way to remember the things that He had done. I need a better way to remember those moments, because its when I forget that I find it most difficult to trust Him.

fostering is like a box of chocolates.

The thing about fostering, is you never really know what you're going to get.

Scooter was energetic but pretty well-trained already. The most difficult thing about him was that he always, always found a way out of the yard - under the fence, through the fence, chewing through a rope and then through a fence.

Skeeter was incredibly timid, but a great dog. It took a lot of effort for him to be comfortable with me, but once he did, he followed me everywhere. He's the only foster dog that I ever let sleep in my bed.

Harley, on the other hand, has been another whole set of challenges. In addition to the infection he developed, he has more energy than any dog I've ever known. He could be outside all day and all evening, running and jumping and playing with Harvey, and still wakes up and wants out of his crate at least once, usually twice, during the night. And he lets me know this with an annoying, high-pitched bark that sounds like it should be coming out of a dog one-fifth his size. He wants to chew on everything - bones, toys, paper towels, tissue boxes, Harvey's collar, my shoes, my watch, my phone, my laptop cord, my comforter, my pants, me. He needs constant attention, and the rare moments that he is actually occupied with something he's allowed to be doing, like sleeping or chewing a bone, I don't dare move for fear of distracting him.

Overall, I still enjoy fostering, and I'm glad I signed up to do it. I think we're going to take a bit of a break, though, after Harley finds a home. Because he wants to play with Harvey constantly, she's getting a little stressed out - she's clingy and would rather than stay inside with me than go outside with the others. And since Harvey pees whenever she's scared or excited, and she's not emptying her bladder as often as she should be, we've quite a few accidents in the house.

focusing on the good.

I have this tendency, when I have a lot going on, to tell people just how crazy my schedule is. I don't know why I do this - maybe its because I'm buying into that warped American culture that says that busy is good. Maybe I want sympathy. Maybe, like last night, I felt like I needed my cold and my schedule to justify how tired I was.

Regardless, the only thing I really end up doing is stressing myself out.

But last night, as I was driving home, I realized that each of those things on my calendar, and every additional item they add to my to-do list, represents a blessing in my life.

The meeting that's taking up my time this evening is for a church that I love, and that I'm thrilled to be a part of. The meal planning and grocery shopping and bed making I'm doing this week is because my family, that I love, is coming to visit me. Even the upcoming work deadlines reflect the fact that I actually have meaniningful work to do.

There's not much of anything on my schedule that I'm really dreading, that I'm not looking forward to. But taken as a whole, I still paint them in a negative light.

Instead, I'm resolving to focus on the blessings. Yes, I'll be busy, but I'll be busy doing things that I love, with people that I love. Now I just need to kick this cold.


Do you ever suddenly look at your schedule for the next few weeks and realize its bordering on insanity? I'm not quite sure what happened to summer, but September just blew up.

I'm finishing up last minute packing and straightening so I can drive to Frederick in an hour, because I'm meeting friends tomorrow to go see Les Miserables at Wolf Trap. So excited!

Last night was a frenzy of activity, but today, I'm oh-so-prepared. I've now bought all the presents I'll need through the next three months (birthday party, housewarming, 2 bridal showers, and 2 weddings), and half are already wrapped. I bought the materials to make the invitations for the second shower (as I'm hosting it). I'm almost ready with the games for the first shower, this weekend (and will be done by tonight). I bought enough food to last me through the beginning of next week and have already started on my grocery list for Katie, Vince, and Jacob's visit next weekend. I chose the song I'm singing at Emmanuel two weeks from Sunday and made arrangements for someone to accompany me. And I found a great denim skirt that looks really cute (I've been looking for one, off and on, for a couple months now).

See? Prepared. Now I'm actually excited about September, instead of stressed out.

what a weekend.

I just got back from what was, hands-down, one of the most fun and entertaining weekends I have had in a long, long time. My friend Bethany emailed me last Sunday to say she was putting together a last minute trip to her parents' house on Smith Mountain Lake, and she invited me to come, too. It took a bit of last-minute frenzy, but I managed to find someone to care for all three dogs.

And, oh, wow, was it fun. Swimming, boating, good food (including s'mores), friends, and a ton of laughing. I even swam in the lake twice. Where there are fish. This is a very big deal.

Quite frankly, I mostly survived it by pretending that they weren't there. And kicking my legs constantly to scare them away.

And I so wish that I had a video of my (failed) attempt to jump off the super bouncer (kind of an inner tube/trampoline), not only to share, but to see it myself - because as funny as it was to me, I think it must have been that much more hilarious to watch.


Most of the people who know me in real life know that I love to give gifts, I love to decorate my house, I love to organize anything, and I love to entertain. Tip Junkie is one of my favorite places to get ideas on all those things. And after months of subscribing to it, I finally found something to contribute - this post on Karen's baby shower from March.

And it was featured! Check out my five seconds of fame:

Oh Baby! Cute Baby Shower Ideas