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Welcome to my little haven of creative writing, passionate ranting, and thoughtful learning.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ending October

First of all, Happy Halloween!
Whatever your plans are or were, I hope they provided great fun and memories.

October has been such a good month.

Busy.
Stressful.
Crazy.
Fun.

1.) I successfully worked three jobs! My usual hours at the Artisan Center, one day a week at the Appalachian College Association, and contractor work for ConsultWebs. I went to Knoxville to help work a conference and generally feel as though I learned a lot. Plus my personality loves to keep busy rather than bored, so this is a great thing for me.

2.) Lots of family time. My parents came down to spend a weekend, we saw most of Nathan's dad's family at a beautiful wedding in NC, and his mom will be arriving this evening. Of course, the majority of family time is spent with everyone fawning over the toddler, but I'm glad that Jace does get to build relationships with his extended family.

3.) Nathan and I are in a lifegroup at our church called Real Marriage. Can I begin to express what a blessing it has been? Childcare is provided and it meets once a week, it also requires dates and conversation and growth. Lots of growth. I've said it before: marriage is hard. It is good, wonderful, and the best decision I made, but it can be really freaking hard. So this group has made such changes in the way Nathan and I view our marriage, each other, and our family.

4.) I started living a healthier lifestyle: more active with better food choices, and it is pretty great. Well, sometimes I still miss my Mt. Dew and junk food binges, but mostly I am just proud of myself for actually sticking with it for more than a week.

5.) October starts the holiday months, and I love the holidays. We decorated for Halloween, are taking Jace (Scooby-doo!) trick or treating this evening (and probably tomorrow as well with Uncle Brendan), carved jack-o-lantern's, and started enjoying the many pumpkin spiced foods.

I hope your October was fantastic, and that your start to November is even better!

xoxo,
Camille

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

River of Life Love

This past weekend was the Annual Fall Fellowship at my church, River of Life. Two of the members offered  up their beautiful farm to have the entire congregation eat, sing, dance, and spend time together as a church family. It was beautiful weather, and a ton of fun, but it really made me think more about my church.

I wasn't introduced to regular church until I was about 15, and I went with my friends and their families. After coming to college I bounced around a little bit, trying to figure out where I felt most at home. I questioned a bit of everything, and if I heard something I disliked, I moved on. But now, well this church is one of the main reasons we decided to try to stay in Berea, rather than try to move away. I'm so thankful for it, and I've started to really pinpoint why.

1.) We celebrate our kids!
I've been in so many social situations where you feel totally unwelcome as soon as your little one starts crying/fussing/throwing a tantrum. But at River, all the noise and chaos that kids bring is not only tolerated, it is a vital part of the church.




2.) Men and women are equal.
Our senior pastors are a married couple, and both preach, pray, give the word, and lead the service. Our worship team leaders are both men and women, scripture is read by men and women, and that is one of the reasons that I feel so completely positive River is my spiritual home. So many of the churches I have visited or seen only allow men to speak to the congregation. They only allow men to pray. To me, that is an outdated ritual, and my church family agrees.

3.) They preach love, not judgement.
Anyone that knows me at all, knows that I feel strongly for equal rights. I tend to lean to the liberal side of issues, and I can't stand to listen to condemnation. The people at River aren't perfect, and some little phrases still bother me from time to time, but I know that none of our members would jump up to declare that we are called to hate all Muslims/Atheists/gays. I won't sit through a sermon that's point is to tear down another group of people. And when we fall short, which we all do, it's met with love and grace, not condemnation.

It isn't perfect, and I've written before that sometimes I don't agree with everything said, but the thing is, I don't have to agree with everything to still be a part of the church. I don't have to lose all my own opinions to be thankful for what I've found. So I've just been feeling grateful lately, for the friendships, for the growth it has encouraged in me, and for the worship and praise I can look forward to each week.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Happy Pit Bull Awareness Month!

Yes, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also the month designated to bring awareness to the pit bull breed.
I've posted before about this, but being a bully-breed owner makes me a little bit, well, passionate about the subject.

In case you forgot, here's my pit mix:



Luna

She's about one year old now, been living with us since March, and was the first dog I've ever owned.
So, not only did I have to learn how to be a dog owner, I had to learn to be a an owner to a strong, larger, misrepresented breed.

When I went to the shelter there were a few dogs there: young and old, big and small. Luna was the only one I wanted, and she loved the boy. Critical to living in a house with a toddler.
So we paid her adoption fee and brought her home.

Let's talk about some of the stereotypes.

1.) Pit Bulls Fight Other Dogs

Let's think about this, compare your personality to your spouse or your best friend. My guess is, one of you is the most passive, one is the most aggressive. You are both human beings, but you are not going to react the same way in any given situation.
The same would go for any dog. So, if a dog is encouraged, trained, and forced to go head to head with another dog that has been encouraged to be aggressive, then of course that dog is going to fight. If a dog is well-socialized and has the personality to like other dogs, then that dog probably isn't ever going to pick a fight.
I'd like to be very clear that dog-aggressive does not mean human-aggressive. All the pits I've met aren't stupid, they know the difference between a human and a dog, and they love people. I firmly believe the most dangerous part of Luna is her tail: it wags viciously at the sight of a new friend. And basically any human that enters our home is a friend (she does have reservations with tall men at first, we think she may have been abused or mistreated before we got her).
Personally, I would call Luna dog-tolerant.She avoids dogs that bark aggressively and stays close to me, acts submissive to a dog larger than her (like the giant dog at the end of the block) and usually seems curious about the tiny dogs living two doors down.

2.) Pit Bulls Do Not Feel Pain
     This is a moronic justification for using them as fighting dogs. THEY FEEL PAIN. When Luna got home from surgery she curled up in her blanket and let out the occasional whimper, because she was IN PAIN.

3.) Pit Bulls Cannot Be Controlled or Trained.
     Really? Then how come Luna can sit, lay down, shake, knows to back off when I clap my hands and say "No" and knows she isn't allowed on the couches? She's still a puppy, so she's still learning, but with patience and time, she is going to be a well-trained dog.
      What I've noticed is that pit bulls are people pleasers. They want to make their human happy and love rewards. That makes them a little easier to train because if sitting makes you say "Good Girl" and give her a belly rub, then she is going to want to obey.



Luna is the best first dog I could have gotten, and the same goes for Jace. Luna loves, protects, and plays with Jace. She is a true, loyal family dog.

But, here's the really sad part, pit bulls have been over bred, and because of their reputation, get put down in shelters with hardly a chance.

So, because we want this problem to get better, not worse, we took Luna to get her spayed.

Even if your dog isn't a bully breed, I would still implore you to consider spaying and neutering, because the reality is that there are more dogs than there are homes that want them.

The surgery can be expensive, but for those that are struggling with money (and who isn't really?) here are some programs around Kentucky to help with the cost.

1.) Spay's the Way- low cost spay and neuter surgeries for dogs, cats, and rabbits.
2.) Spay our Strays- this program is for stray and feral cats that can help prevent litters of unwanted kittens outside you home come springtime
3.) Woodstock Animal Foundation- low cost spay and neuter
4.) Caring Heart Low Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic
5.) Go to your vet for recommendations.

We've used Spay's the Way for our cats and for Luna, and each time it worked out without issue, and we have healthier animals in the end.
Nathan and I are both huge animal advocates, which is why we have fostered animals, we adopt, and we make sure our pets aren't going to create more pets that we wouldn't be able to handle.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Accountability

I like to feel strong and in shape.
But I also like to lounge on the couch with the hubby and watch the newest episode of Nashville.

As I've mentioned before, I really don't play sports. Getting screamed at (even encouraging words) is overwhelming for me, and when I fail to hit/catch/score the ball, I feel a great sense of personal failure. I'm not graceful (curse my luck) and my coordination is far from fantastic.

Yet that's how most in-shape, healthy people stay that way. They play football at Thanksgiving, softball in the spring and fall, soccer on the weekends etc. and that's how they stay active. I completely see why that works: you have a built in team that counts on you to participate and doesn't give you that wiggle room to stay in and sleep on the couch. It's harder to work out on your own and hold yourself accountable.

But because I'm not a sports team personality, I have few other options but to hold myself accountable. However, for my friends that see me regularly, I would like to ask for a bit of encouragement and accountability from them. And if you need someone to encourage you, I would love to be that person!

Recently, I made a decision to get fit.

I'm using an app called Lose It (if you use it too, please request to be my friend!) to track my exercise and my calories.

I went a little crazy on Pinterest picking up workout tips, motivation and ideas.

Here are the top ten that were most valuable to me:
1.) In the kitchen I have two glass bowls with pretty marbles in them. Each marble represents one pound. I weigh myself in the morning and each day that I'm down I move adequate marbles over. The best part of keeping it in the kitchen? It's a wonderful, visual reminder of what I'm working toward.
2.) Working out in the morning (sleep in your workout clothes for encouragement!)
3.) Drinking ice water. Lots of it.
4.) Not cutting out my favorite foods/desserts, just limiting my portion size.
5.) Getting adequate sleep
6.) Make an awesome playlist that I want to listen to for my workout.
7.) Don't eat while watching TV (it encourages mindless eating)
8.) Make it an exercise you enjoy (I love swimming, so on Friday's, I will swim!)
9.) Eat breakfast.
10.) Take progress pictures and measure more than what the scale reflects.

If you have any other tips that have helped you, or ideas for motivation, please share!

So far, I am down 4 pounds. It doesn't seem like much, but it's progress toward my eventual goal, which has an end date of March 22 (my 24th birthday) and a 5k run in Berea that I am determined to do, and do well.

xoxo,
Camille




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Frugal Vegetable Soup

Fall foods are so comforting.
Really, I love the hearty soups, spicy chili, and pumpkin spiced desserts.
Of course, my Pinterest feed is overflowing with new recipes. So when I saw a recipe for vegetable soup, I pinned it, and then tweaked it based on what I would actually want to eat.

Brave for me, but in the end totally worth it because it was delicious!

So here's my recipe:

Ingredients
1 Can Corn (drained)
2 Cans Mixed Vegetables (drained)
2 Cans Diced Tomatoes
4 Beef Bouillon Cubes
2 Cups Water
1 Bag Baby Carrots
Onion Powder (a few shakes)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients into crock pot and cook on low 4-8 hours.

Seriously, it's that simple. You could also cook in on the stovetop and have it in probably 45 minutes, but I'm really big on the crockpot because if I work 9-5 I love coming home to dinner that's ready to eat. And (since I already had the beef bouillon) it only cost about $5 and was enough for three adults, two toddlers, with leftovers!


xoxo,
Camille


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Dear Non-Mom

Dear not-yet-a-mom,
   I see you give me that look when my toddler is screaming loudly through the juice aisle of WalMart. That look that plainly says, When I have children, they will not act like that.

I'm torn between laughing at you and feeling sorry for you. See, you have no idea what it really means to raise a toddler.

Maybe you've spent some time babysitting, or helping out in the nursery at church. You think you have some idea how to make children mind. But until you have your own, you don't have a clue.

A toddler is a trying little creature: they are adorable, they give hugs, and they are just starting to understand things. They can have preferences in food and toys, and they are getting acquainted with their desires. But they do not understand that screaming and running around at the park is acceptable, while doing the same thing during a prayer at church is not. The concept of "wait" is pig latin, and "patience" is meaningless.

The other thing to know about toddlers? They all have distinct personalities and react to different things. Some babies pick up on sign language and use that to convey what they want. Some scream. Some cry. Some throw an all out tantrum.

Personally, mine uses sign language when he's calm, but if he's already upset, he screams. Loudly.
So when he doesn't want to be strapped in the buggy at the grocery store anymore, he screams and cries and, if he can get close enough to a shelf, tries to knock things off.

And, before you suggest that when he throws a tantrum I should pick him up and leave to teach him a lesson, I must ask you for your time-turner. Because I don't think any mom has time to leave and come back every time her child decides he or she isn't pleased.


I do take a little joy in knowing that you will one day understand this, because if you ever have children of your own you will rethink nearly all of what you believed prior to motherhood. And I hope that you find a group of supportive mom friends like I have to assure you that no matter how you choose to discipline and raise your child, you are still a good mom.

Sincerely,
A real mom of an actual toddler




Thursday, October 3, 2013

Personality

So a friend of mine recently posted a blog about the 16 personalities, and her exploration of her own personality type.

I didn't want to copy her (sorry Gabby!) but ever since I took the test, I have been amazed at what a difference it makes to understand myself a little better.

The Myers Brigg personality test has you answer many multiple choice questions and in the end gives you a four letter identity. I took the test multiple times on multiple sites, and every single time, I was an INFJ.



This type of personality is the rarest, making up between 1 and 3 percent of the population and has a unique way of looking at the world.
INFJ's are introverted, but can be confused and thought to be extroverted because they enjoy observing and taking part in the social world.
They hold strong in their beliefs and morals, can be stubborn, must have a plan, take to leadership well, and tend to have strong written skills.
INFJ's see pattern' and connections easily, and store details about people.
They don't open up to just anyone, and when they do let someone in, they hold that person to high standards.

Any of this sound right?

Because as I was reading multiple sites with information, I couldn't help but be surprised at how dead on it was. I read some to Nathan, and he completely agreed. I am stubborn, and a compulsive planner. I take on projects and I am firm in my moral beliefs. I know Nathan and Lindsay (my best friend) so well that it sometimes surprises them.

But what surprised me the most was how much it helped me to read all of the information I could find. I knew that I needed downtime after any social engagement (even if I just go to Wal*Mart and run into several people I know). But I had never actually planned for it. Now I have started to make an effort to spend thirty minutes a day by myself, reading or writing, and thinking. It has made me calmer and gives me more energy.

It has also helped me to realize that, not everyone thinks like I do. I get upset when Nathan can't remember what I order at a favorite restaurant, but not everyone studies people the way that I do. I study their interactions, style, expressions, phrases, preferences, and beliefs. I store that information, which (I admit) is a little weird. It's helpful to me, though, because I like to plan surprises and sweet gestures for friends, and if I don't know them well, I couldn't do that.

I would encourage you to go take the test, it may be completely off base, or it may help you to understand yourself a little better, and who wouldn't want that?

xoxo,
Camille

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Enough

I live basically paycheck to paycheck.

I'm not a frivolous, illogical, spend-money-on-whatever-I-want person. I make sure my family, my pets, and my household, has what it needs to function. I keep a small savings account so that when my car breaks down, my child needs medicine, or I get too sick to work for a couple days, I can still survive.

But there was a time when my family and I couldn't even live paycheck to paycheck. We had to get help from the government in the form of food stamps so we could all eat. And every time I went grocery shopping with it, dressed well from a class presentation, and yes, with a smartphone, I got looks. Judged.

Clearly I was abusing the system.

Or, I cleaned up good for a drug addict, because of course someone that can't afford to feed their family must be spending their money on something illegal.

Or I was just to lazy too get a job, I mean there are "We're hiring" signs at every fast food joint in town.

And obviously I had to be a single mom and slut if I was shopping with my son using food stamps, because a family wouldn't have to rely on the government for their groceries.

I'm not kidding, I started only using the self checkout and trying to hide the card I was using just to avoid the looks I got and judgement I clearly felt.

My husband and I both have bachelor's degrees from a reputable college. We both have strong resumes, good references, and skills that would make us valuable employees.

We work hard, watch our spending, and care for our son.

By all means, we should be living the American Dream.

Two well-educated, hard working, married individuals, and we have had to rely on a program that people are begging to be cut funding.

I am tired of shaming those that are brave enough to go find help for their families.
Trust me, it is embarrassing enough to hand over your paystubs, your identification, and answer endless questions about why you need help. To sit in a bleak, clinical office with metal folding chairs for furniture.
Sitting in that office is not the first choice of anyone, but sometimes there isn't another option.

So next time you see a girl in front of you pulling out her EBT card, consider there is more to her story. Don't be that person that makes it worse by looking down on her while she tries to ring up her milk and bread at the checkout.