Saturday, March 23, 2013

Williamsburg, Virginia

I'm a nerd. I'm a nerd about a lot of different things - I'm a Harry Potter nerd, a camera nerd, a word nerd.....I'm also a history nerd. I credit this to two people in my life: First, my dad. He's always reading a nonfiction book about some war, and he took us on a lot of historical destination vacations growing up. And second, my high school history teacher who was also a psychology teacher. In the words of my friend Jeanna, "That's a good combination." And it really was - he brought the human side to facts and dates and names, and made history real to me.

Everybody likes to travel - but a large part of why I like to travel is because I love seeing history come alive. I love seeing a 500-year-old painting of Da Vinci so close I can see the cracks in the canvas, and the faded gold paint that I can only imagine was once bright and vibrant. I love walking streets I know so many others have walked before me so long ago. I like to imagine some spirits still linger - or at least occasionally visit. Or that the air smells a little musty because the dust has settled, and I'm the first to scatter it again in hundreds of years. That's why I loved my Europe travels so much.
And that's also why I asked to go to Williamsburg, Virginia for my birthday.

It's hard to describe Williamsburg without making it sound like the lamest place on Earth.
"It's a historical town where the people dress up like they did in the 1700's and walk around and act like they are still in Colonial times."
I told that to my sister-in-law and she laughed, "Are you and Adam going to dress up, too?"
Everyone always asks that.
And no, we did not. (But we saw other people - non-actor people - who did. Hey, at least they were enjoying themselves!)

...It's actually super cool. There are shops and homes that have been standing for over 300 years, it's some of the oldest parts of American history. You can walk around the shops and watch them make silver jewelry just like they did way back then.

Or you can go into their coffeeshop and sip old-fashioned hot chocolate while they gossip about Loyalists and Rebels.

You can ask the lady at the Apothecary what to take for an upset stomach (ginger crystals) or what to do about a toothache (pull it out).

You can tour the Capitol building, where our Founding Fathers debated over and eventually signed the Constitution. You can listen to "Martha Washington" lament over her slave being freed - and hear her slave's excitement for a new life.

Where we started: The Visitor Center. There's maps, video presentations to watch, brochures about the restaurants and shops, and the shuttle that takes you to the city (though you can also walk there from the VC).

What we did: We toured the Apothecary, Blacksmith shop, Cabinetmaker, Silversmith, Bruton Parish Church, Capitol, Governor's Palace, George Wyth house, Cooper, Magazine, Public Gaol, Public Hospital, and the Art Museum. There were lots more we wanted to see, but they were either closed that day or for the winter season. We spent two whole days there and probably could have spent another whole day there if it was the summer season with more tours and shops open.

On the third day, we went to Historic Jamestowne, the first permanent colony in North America. It is believed that the 1608 church on this site is where Pocahontas married John Rolfe! Four hundred years ago!!! So cool.

Where we stayed: Homewood Suites by Hilton. It was just a few miles and an easy drive to the Visitor Center, where you could park your car for free and take a shuttle into the city. Because my dad was with us, we got a two bedroom suite, which included a kitchenette with utensils, stove, refrigerator, and a small dining area. It was perfect for all of us. Axton stayed in a pack-n-play next to our bed.

Homewood Suites not only has complimentary breakfast every morning, but also complimentary dinner Monday-Thursday. They also have a pool and free WiFi.

What we ate: We splurged and ate at The King's Arms Tavern for lunch while we were in Williamsburg. I would highly recommend this place above all the other Taverns - they are famous for their Peanut Soup, an original Colonial recipe. Go there for lunch instead of dinner - it's much cheaper and just as good. We ordered the crab cake (which was fabulous, but the coleslaw on the side was even better!), the Norfolk Pottage Pye (sooo rich), and A dish of beef, which was the best beef I've ever had from a restaurant. Possibly from anywhere. Here's their lunch menu.

What else to do: Want more Revolutionary history? Check out Yorktown. If you want something different to do in Williamsburg, something not hundreds of years old, you can always go to Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park. There's also the amusement park Busch Gardens or the outdoor water park Water Country USA. For the less adventurous, stroll through Williamsburg Botanical Gardens.

Also, see lots more fun photos on my photo blog

Friday, March 22, 2013

That time I cut 9 inches off my hair

I've been wanting to cut my hair for awhile now, but I also had the hopes of donating it. This week I was left in a pickle: either cut my hair pretty dang short to get the required 8 inches to donate, keep growing it out and put up with the tangles and mess for a few more months, or just cut it and not donate. 

I went with the first one.

And it's pretty dang short.

I made up my mind quickly and walked into the hair salon only knowing one thing:

"I want to donate my hair," I told the stylist. 
She looked at me and nodded. "Okay."
It was silent for a minute, and I realized that maybe I should have come a little more prepared. I had assumed salons did things like this all the time - shouldn't she know what to do?
"So, um," I stuttered. "Do you have a rubberband or something?"
She shook her head - and then smiled. "No," she said, her mouth open. The smile totally threw me off, because then I didn't know if she was kidding. I'm around a lot of sarcastic people who say yes with a smile when they really mean no so I wasn't sure how to take it. Plus, what salon doesn't have a hairbinder? Come on. 
"Are you serious?" I asked, smiling back. She's gotta be kidding. The irony of a hairsalon not having a hairbinder? Too much. But, I guessed wrong. She wasn't kidding. 
"Yes, I'm serious. You know you have to send your hair in yourself, right? We don't do that for you."
I knew, and was sad I already had a bad start to my haircut. Then she asked me how I wanted it cut and I realized I'd really come into this unprepared.
"Uh.....short. With, like .... layers. I guess." I stuttered.


"How about you look at a magazine?" she offered. 
So I randomly flipped through a book and picked a short hairstyle with layers. I didn't really care, I just wanted it off. 

When I came out of the salon and greeted Adam, he smiled big at me and asked, "Do you like it?"
My response?
"I got the Mommy Hair-Cut, didn't I?"

This happened Wednesday night, and I'm just now getting the courage to announce it - it's taken me this long to come to terms with my new short hair. I think I like it. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, "That's super cute!" and then other times I think, "Gosh, I look like a boy." Or, "Is that a helmet or my hair? Either way, it's ugly." But then again, I guess it doesn't matter what length my hair is - I will always have a roller-coaster relationship with my looks. who doesn't?

I do like that it's not a bird's nest of knots when I wake up in the morning, that Axton can't use it to practice being Tarzan baby anymore, and that it takes me 1.2 minutes to straighten it. Oh, and I like that I was able to donate my hair for the first time (I've wanted to in the past but my hair was always dyed. Remember my high school obsession with bleach?). I won't post a picture of my rat tail because I figure if it grosses me out then there are others that it would probably gross out, as well. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

23 Things About Me on My 23rd Birthday

1. For a large portion of my life, 10 Things I Hate About you was my favorite movie. I can still quote almost the entire thing from start to finish.

2. Putting Axton's pants on him is one of my absolute least favorite parts about parenthood. As soon as I get one pant leg in, and start working on the other, then the first one comes out and then I'm back and forth, back and forth, over and over again. I feel like I'm in a Two-Second Groundhog Day land and I'm getting nothing accomplished. Silly really, that I let it frustrate me, but when it happens every.single. time? Gah!!! Just be naked, child!

3. I am a closet swearer. I know, I know - I shouldn't be. It's a bad habit I started back in 7th grade, but probably would have picked up anyway from a few members of my family. There have been countless times that I've inserted a swear word in a blog post, and then had to go back and erase it because I didn't think my readers would appreciate it too much. Nothing super "bad" (meaning, my F bombs are few and far between) but some D's and H's and once in awhile an S or B will float in my head. And most of the time, it's not out of anger - but humor. I just think a properly placed curse word can turn a mediocre sentence into a hilarious one. Gosh I'm terrible! I can't believe I'm typing this sh* up!

4. I could probably eat some form of Mexican food for every one of my meals - I love refried beans and tortillas. That's practically all I ate during my pregnancy, and almost every time we go to Taco Bell I order a bean burrito with no onions and extra red sauce.

5. I'm really bad about washing my hands. Gross, I know. Like, I wash them after every time I use the bathroom, of course, because it's easy to remember when it's right there. But when I'm out and about, or we go to the park or the mall or after a diaper change (yuck!! I know! But really, most the time I don't get poop on my hands, I've gotten quite skilled with a wipe), I just forget. And then halfway through my next meal I'll slowly stop chewing and then get up and wash my hands really fast. Usually. Or I'll just say, "Meh. Builds your immunity." (Again, I'm even embarrassed admitting this to myself!)

6. I wrote my college senior thesis on Toni Morrison's Beloved. It's about a black woman who kills her daughter so she isn't taken into slavery - it's been banned from many schools and universities. But most things that have something important to say are often feared and rejected by society, yes?

Anyway, I used Ihab Hissans' theory The Literature of Silence to examine her novel. Here is my thesis statement:

"In Beloved silence operates in the community's refusal to warn Sethe of schooteacher's arrival, invoking Sethe's outrageous murder of her daughter, which results in the apocalyptic and radically ironic figure of the ghost Beloved, with the final irony being found in the telling of the novel Beloved, a story that was not meant to "be passed on."

Heavy stuff.

7. I had a bad habit of bleaching my hair in high school. Baaaaaad.

8. My favorite childhood memories are when we lived in Wisconsin. We lived on 14 acres, with 3 acres of strawberry patches, an acre of raspberry patches, long, grassy fields, a dirt road, and a pole-shed. I used to love to mow our giant lawn because we had a riding lawn mower and I would put on headphones, crank up the music and just ride for hours on end. I would roller-blade in circles in our pole shed, making up songs about boys and growing up and singing them loudly because it echoed in there. We picked strawberries and sold them for money and made strawberry jam and pies, we helped my mom in her giant garden and watered my dad's rows of pine trees, moving the hose every half hour.

9. I've been writing in journals off and on ever since I knew how to write. I kept a pretty steady journal all through elementary school, and I've since found out that both of my parents have read parts of my journals they've found in boxes. When they told me, I felt completely betrayed and resolved that I would never read my children's diaries. I stopped writing in one until the day my heart was broken my junior year of high school. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of two years, and had no where else to turn. I wrote in that journal every single day, trying to heal my heart through words. I have two entire journals filled with my mournings over that boy, spanning a period of a whole year.

10. I took 3 years of French in high school and 3 semesters in college. I was in the middle of applying to study abroad in Paris - I only had the phone interview left - when I met Adam. Obviously, I never made that phone call.

ps - Robyn, when Adam saw this pic he said he liked your hair :)

11.Whenever we played Spice Girls in 5th grade (and we played that a LOT) I was always Ginger Spice. I think I liked that her "other" name was Sexy Spice. But now that I think about it, is that even true? Or did someone just make that up?

12. I grew up with a guitar-playing Daddy. I have distinct memories of him singing "What's Goin' On?" by 4-Non Blondes, "Romeo and Juliet" by Indigo Girls, and "Walkin' in Memphis" by Marc Cohn. I know all the words to those three songs and can't hear them without thinking of my Dad. It also instilled a love of men - or anyone, really - who play the guitar - that's how Adam snagged my eye.

13. My high school job was being a Police Cadet for the Idaho Falls Police Department. My mom worked in a secretarial position there, so I had some good ins. Mostly I just liked working in the office, shredding papers, putting speeding tickets into the computer system (I loved it when they were for someone I knew in school - I always felt like I had a secret over their heads), filing confidential reports on things like domestic abuse or robberies. Once I led a demonstration on bike safety for a group of youngsters, and later, a tour of the the Police Department to a group of Cub Scouts. I had to fingerprint them all as part of their merit badge. I was also asked to do things like a night patrol during an Art Festival. I had to take a shift from 6pm to midnight, just walking around the river and making sure no one tried to break into the tents that were set up for the event. I had a radio that I could dial into dispatch if there was any trouble. I had a uniform and a badge and that little radio and I felt pretty tough. Until one drunk guy came around, kicking a can on the ground and shouting loud. I got totally freaked out even though he didn't even glance up at me.

14. My first concert was when I was 10 years old and I saw Enriquez Iglesias. I've since been to a Good Charlotte concert (13), Jimmy Eat World (17), JoDee Messina (18), and Miranda Lambert (20) concert. I have quite an eclectic taste in music.

At the Jimmy Eat World concert - my first one without parents! 
15. From the age of 7 to 12 I believed I was living in a haunted house. We bought our house in Wisconsin from someone whose son had committed suicide. His first attempt was in the basement of the house we bought, and my brother told me - to freak me out - that whenever someone attempts to commit suicide - even if they fail - their soul stays where it happened. To add to that, we lived at the end of a dirt road and across the road from us was a church and the graveyard that this boy was buried in. My friends and I would go looking for his old fort that he had built in the forest on our property and when we couldn't find it from time to time, we would get all freaked out and think he had moved it. We would go to his grave at midnight and light a candle or do other stupid stuff. Every single weird thing that happened outside I thought was him. (As a type this now, as an adult, I can see how disrespectful this would be to people who have attempted, or succeeded at committing suicide, and also to the parents of the boy who died. However, I realize I was just a dumb kid looking for trouble at the time, so I hope I'm forgiven).

16. My fifth grade teacher was Mr. Owens. He introduced me (and our class) to pomegranates. He read Charles. R. Swindoll's quote on attitude to us at least once a week, he passed out a jar of lemon drops during special occasions, and he read The Hobbit to us. I remember I was telling a story to my class, and acting it out as I went. I was imitating how our chickens walked and generally just making a fool of myself, but I had the entire class's attention, and everyone was laughing. Afterwards, Mr. Owens had told me that I should be a comedian when I grow up. I remember being stunned, and I chased him down the hallway to ask him about it.

"Do you mean that?" I panted when I caught up to him. "But I can only make people my age laugh, I can't make adults laugh."

"Well, those kids that are your age now? They'll be adults when you are too, and they'll still be your age," he had said.

I don't know why I remember that, because obviously I'm not a comedian. However, I am a writer and I think I'm funny sometimes, so it's kind of similar.

17. Speaking of having chickens... well, we had chickens when I was growing up. They were a sort of Easter present to me. I got a box of 25 chicks and they slept in my room with me in their box until they were too big to fit in there anymore. Then we moved them outside to a chicken coop. I picked them up and carried them around and painted their nails so I could tell them apart. I named all 25 of them and collected their eggs every morning. I remember one cold winter morning going down to get eggs. It had snowed the night before and the gate was stuck. I kept banging and kicking on it, thinking it was just packed with ice and snow. When I finally got the gate open, I uncovered what had been blocking my path - it was a dead chicken, frozen solid. He must have been left out over night. I was terrified - I screamed all the way back up the hill to my house and burst through the door sobbing. It totally mortified me.

18. This is what I was wearing the night Adam met and fell in love with me - if you can't tell, that's a pig on my shirt. Charming.

19. I have a bad history of bladder control. I'm sure someone with a psychology degree could really rip me a new one over this (or anything else I've written), but it's just life. I once peed my bed when I was 12 (I was sleeping with my mom, too, poor lady) (why was I sleeping with my mom at 12 years old, you ask? Because my parents had just divorced and we moved 1200 miles away from my home, that's why. I slept with her every night for a few years, until she got married, actually). Anyway, back to my bladder issue. I once peed my pants when I was 10 because I couldn't get my house key out fast enough and I'd been holding it all day at school. Then when I was 18 and at college I peed my pants, too. I had just sat down at a toilet when my stall door swung wide open (apparently I hadn't locked it all the way) and I had to hurry and shimmy over there before someone saw me. Do you know how hard it is to stop peeing midstream? Extremely. I had to lengthen the straps of my backpack so it would cover my pants while I ran back to my dorm room to change. And, we can't forget the time I wet the bed when I was pregnant (age 21). Gah, it only gets worse when you have kids, too.

20. I asked for a horse for many Christmases in a row when I was little. We lived in a neighborhood then, so it never happened. But one summer we boarded a horse on our property and I got to ride her everyday. Her name was Splash and she was a feisty one, but I only got bucked off once. I'm pretty sure she might have bit my friend Heather when she came to visit me.

21. The summer of 2007 I went to Idaho Girl's State and was elected governor of over 300 girls. I learned that not only could I do scary things, like be a leader, but that I was likeable - and in mass quantities. Sure, not every girl voted for me, and probably not every girl liked me. But enough did, and that meant a lot to me during those vulnerable high school years.

22. Sometimes I talk funny. I like to add random "r's" to words. As in, "The weather outside is narsty." In fact, I said that exact sentence once when I was governor, over the microphone and I could hear everyone's confused whispers and I had to clear my throat and start again. "Sorry, um, nasty."

I also like to add "shm" to the beginning of words. Adam and I say "Shmank shmoo" and "shmore shmelcome" on a daily basis.

23. One of Adam's birthday presents to me was a 23rd birthday photo shoot. I'm going to be using one of the photos for my photography website, business cards, and thank you notes. I can't decide which is my favorite, so if you get the chance click on the link and like or comment on your favorite one!

When I came out of the bedroom this morning, after working on this blogpost, this is what I found on our couch:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tried it: Sugar-Free for a month

I have virtually no sense of the phrase "in moderation," especially when it comes to sweets. I have this mindset that if I'm allowing myself to indulge, then, really, I should be able to do it all day long, whenever my fancy strikes, yes? This is where I was at the end of January - and had been since the holidays started back in October. I prided myself in my extremely high sugar-tolerance: I scoffed at anyone who said something was "too sweet," and ate their portion, too (not really...but kind of). I realized things were getting a little out of hand when I noticed that any meal - even breakfast! - didn't feel complete unless I wrapped it up with something sweet. So, I decided it was time to purge.

I used to do this frequently in high school - often asking my mom to join me. We would pick a time frame - say, a month, and challenge ourselves to No Sugar: cakes, candy, cookies, Nutella, etc. We would also choose a few splurge days scattered throughout the month to give ourselves a reward.

Well, the month of February was a No Sugar month for me and my mom once again, bringing back the old high school traditions. We were allowed to splurge on the 14th (Valentine's Day) and the 22nd (Adam's birthday). The first week was pretty tough, and I found myself eating way more graham crackers, granola bars, and animal crackers (which are acceptable) than I should, just to curb my cravings. I told myself I could have it all in just another week, and sometimes that worked. By the second week, I could often distract myself from a craving with a big drink of water.

When I first started out, I told myself that the 14th was going to be monumentally sweet. Cinnamon rolls for breakfast, heart-shaped cookies for lunch, and a box of chocolates for dinner. But by the time the 14th rolled around, I almost forgot that I was allowed to eat sugar! It was noon (!) before I remembered, and I made an immediate pit-stop at the nearest Dunkin' Donuts and got a cheap, disgusting Cinnamon Roll donut (not even close to the real thing) and I grudgingly ate not one, but two, round crappy things of sugar. I didn't even enjoy it - I just was stuffing my face because I "could." Afterwards, I felt disgusting, but was ready for more sugar after a few hours.

My sugar hangover the next day was the worst - it was the most I had craved sugar since the beginning. It was like I was starting all over again - and it didn't even seem worth it. My stomach was crampy and bloated, and my head felt like it was stuffed with a pillow. A pillow made of powdered sugar, probably. I learned my lesson and my next splurge day I ate a little less sugar, and was a lot pickier about what I actually ate. I did it for the enjoyment of the food, rather than just going psycho at the donut shop.

This was a really good challenge for me to stop and look at how much sweets I'd been eating - I used to bake every other day to make sure we'd have something for dessert after dinner. Now I never bake, and I don't feel the need to. My cravings for sugar have gone way down, though I have noticed that I crave more bread now, which makes sense since white bread just turns into sugar so it's like my body is trying to be sneaky. So that's the next thing I've got to cut down on. I'm going to continue my sugar-free months, because it makes sense to me that sweets should really only be for special occasions. And when I do indulge, it should be on something that's really worth it - like a real cinnamon roll instead of a fried frisbee of sugar. So, if you like to join me - please do! We can encourage each other, and I promise the beginning is the hardest. It gets easier (especially when you have a set splurge date in the future that you can look forward to!). This month my splurge days are the 6th (my birthday), the 17th (Patty's Day), and the 31st (Easter). You can have the same splurge days or have your own but don't have more than one a week or else it gets too hard in between!

And while we're on the subjects of challenges, how is everyone doing with the Artist Challenge? Have you been writing your morning pages? Have you had an Artist date yet? Have you noticed any increase in your creativity or inspiration? I have, and I'll be sharing with you soon!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Today I wore the skirt

Today I wore the skirt, because I learned my lesson from last week.

What happened last week?

Well, last week I thought to myself, "You know, it's been awhile since I wore a dress to church. And surely I won't need to nurse Axton during those short three hours, right? I should wear a dress." So, I did. I picked out a cute, zip-up-the-side, can't-possibly-get-to-my-boobs dress. I also wore my zebra-print bra that is most certainly not nursing friendly. Heck, let's go all the way! Put that chest on lock-down, Mama!

Church is hard for us this year because the time got changed to 1pm - aka Axton's naptime. We generally get through sacrament, the first hour, just fine. On good days, he will fall asleep with Dad during second hour. On bad days, he doesn't, and by the time I get him, he's practically a zombie. Well last week was worse than normal. He was on the verge of a melt-down and the pacifier wasn't helping much. So I snuck him away to the Mother's Lounge to undo my entire wardrobe. I unzipped the dress, ripped a few seams pulling the sleeves down (so my legs could at least stay covered by the skirt of my dress, and I yanked my zebra-print bra up to my neck. Sure, I had a nursing cover the size of a napkin, so that helped tons.


Axton, of course, fell asleep within minutes. Meaning, I was stuck. If I moved to cover myself back up, Axton would wake up and all hell would break loose. If I stayed where I was....well, I was practically naked from the waist up, so all I could do was pray no one else came in.

....The first time the door opened, I attempted to pull my zebra-print bra down, because at that point I'm sure even the satellites in outer space could see its black and white glory. I spread my nursing cover over as much of me as I could, but it was a pathetic attempt. The other woman tried to be quiet when she saw Axton's sleeping face poking out from under the cover, and we had a few awkward moments of silence as she prepared to nurse.

"I'm sorry I'm practically naked over here," I blurted out, unable to pretend like I didn't look absolutely ridiculous anymore. She smiled, "It's fine."

But I kept going: "You would think I would know by now not to wear a dress to church. I don't even know why I did. I just thought he wouldn't need to nurse, but I guess it's always safer just to wear a skirt, right?"

Shut up, Meghan. She's already freaked out by your hooker bra, just let it go. Any potential friendship with this woman is already doomed.

The door opened again, shortly after, and this woman evidently knew the first woman, and they started chatting up a storm.

Yes, don't mind me. The not-nursing nursing Mom with the nerve to wear a dress (gasp!) and a non-nursing bra to church (double gasp!)

Under normal conditions (normal being, I had worn what I was supposed to: a skirt with an stretchy shirt and a bra with clips on it) I would have loved to chat with these women so as to avoid the awkwardness. Instead, I didn't say anything about my overly-exposed top half to the second woman; my first efforts to explain myself had proved unsuccessful, so no reason to draw even more attention to myself. They both eventually left, and I heaved a heavy sigh of both relief and minor frustration, hoping no one else had to see me like this.

The tiny click of the door a few minutes later, made me jump and I turned towards it, my face prepared with my "Don't-mind-me, come-on-in!" smile. That smile quickly fell and was replaced with furrowed eyebrows and a grumpy mouth. It wasn't a woman peeking through the door, but a full-grown, grey-headed man.

"Sorry." He said.

"Yeah you better be sorry, creepo! This is a woman's room, why don't you knock?" I thought, because I was too shocked to speak it. His eyes shifted to my zebra-print bra (of course!) and back up to my face.

Then he said:


.....Excuse me? You already offered the only acceptable thing to say in this situation, which was a short apology, why in the world would you dare to say anything else? Just. Shut. The. Door.

I stared at him until he did, my cheeks burning red, and then when I was once again alone, I closed my eyes and shook my head.

I shoulda wore the skirt.

And then I started to laugh. I laughed until I worried I was going to wake up Axton, and then I stifled my giggles into that stupid black and white padding, and cursed this dress. I stayed there until I heard the voices that meant church was over had faded, and then I woke him up and put myself back together.

Today in church, as I sat in my skirt and nursing bra, I was reminded of this story during Primary when one of the male teachers walked into the room wearing....
A zebra-print tie. I couldn't stop laughing the whole hour.

I can't be the only one with humiliating breast-feeding stories, can I? Anyone else ever get stuck in the most awkward of places and conditions while nursing? I want to hear them!

PS You can see a picture of the actual skirt I wore on my photoblog (and also some really cute pictures of Axton, so clickety-click!)