Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Introducing Sam & Scout

It is with giddiness and anticipation that I introduce you to my brand new blog home:
Teaching Sam & Scout 


Thank you for almost five INCREDIBLE years at E, Myself, and I and for your amazing support and encouragement in my new little adventure.  This community has become a HUGE part of my life and my heart... I desperately hope to see ALL the same familiar faces and friends at Sam & Scout.

I will be posting exclusively at my new site starting TODAY.  


Go check it out and say hi! (Pretty please? It's my birthday you know!)

Love you all!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

What's a Girl to Wear When Turning 30?

Today is snow day #10 for us.  No big deal.

Anyway, in case you didn't know (or you've been living in a cave), I'm turning thirty in NINE days.

I'm super excited about this milestone birthday and all the exciting possibilities and new things that lie ahead in the upcoming decade; but, right now, I'm even more excited about the Girls Weekend away I'm taking with my mom and sister to celebrate.

My birthday is on a Wednesday, so the following Friday we are checking into a swanky DC-area hotel/spa for two days of pampering, shopping, fine dining, and sleeping.  (For the record, my mom and sister have really been on me about "upping" my party game and being able to stay out late and have more than one glass of wine for my birthday.  I told them - "It's my party, and I'll go to bed at nine if I want to." This girl is NOT afraid to be old and lame.)

I really can't wait!

Of course, there is one very important issue that must be handled before the approaching date... What's a Girl to Wear When Turning 30?

I've been scouring the internet for weeks now (totally productive, I know), but have yet to settle on exactly which dress I want.  Then, just today, Anthropologie got wind of my dilemma and released a number of new sale dresses - wonderful news, but only adding additional choices and time is running out to place an order.

So, I'm turning to you...

Here are a few of the dresses topping my list for Saturday night out in DC:

Piperlime

Modcloth


Modcloth
Shop Ruche
Shop Ruche
Anthropologie

Anthropologie



What's your favorite? How would you style it?

*Please try to imagine them with a spray tan - I saved the "free tan" on my punch card from last summer for just the occasion - and beautiful blown-out hair - Kathryn is treating us to appointments at Georgetown's Dry Bar too!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

On Retiring E, Myself, and I

You know those little blogger awards that float around the inner-blog world sometimes?  I feel like I should start one called the "WORST BLOGGER" and nominate myself as the first winner.  Agreed? Sorry!

Moving on...

I've been thinking about how to write this post for a while now, and - honestly - I imagined it would be a little more sentimental and a lot more intentional.  Instead, I just kind-of feel the words coming right now, so I'm going to go with it.  I hope I'll make some kind of sense.

Over the last five years, blogging has become SUCH a big part of my life and my identity.  Some might consider that a bad thing (and understandably so, I guess), but I feel pretty sure that my fellow "bloggers" get it.  Lately, since I lost my web domain and have had to make some changes here... I've been thinking a lot about how "blog E" and "real life" E go together.  I think I've been real all along (actually, I promise I have), but I've also changed a lot in the last five years.  When I started this blog, I was in such a different place in life, and only beginning to figure out who I am.  Since then, I've switched positions at work a few times, become a mom, and added A LOT of gray hairs on my head.  Also, in large part because of this space, I've grown to have a clearer idea of WHO I am, and who/what I'm called to be.

After some serious thinking, talking to dear friends, researching, and praying, I have decided to officially retire E, Myself, and I at the end of this month.


No, this really wasn't planned.  I gave the idea of "re-branding" (which is trendy blog-talk for "changing names") some serious consideration back in the summer before Blogher, and then again after Allume (which - as a side note - I've revisited and thought a lot about what I learned there in the last few weeks).  I also had been tossing around the idea of making the switch to Word Press (because that's what the cool-cat bloggers do, right?); but, honestly, I was pretty darn content with things the way they were here...

As I've said before, I never expected E, Myself, and I to be anything more than a fun place for me to write and - hopefully - have a few dozen friends read and comment once in a while.  YOU - this community, these friendships - FAR exceeded my hopes for my blogging "career."  I think we had/have a good thing going here, and I was happy not to change things up.  As far as I was concerned, E, Myself & I was as "branded" as it was going to get and we'd be happily chugging along for another five years...

BUT, I really like lemonade (especially Diet Lemonade at Chickfila); so, when life handed me lemons - in the form of a "lost" domain and a number of other blog-related inconveniences - I've chosen to make the best of a bad situation and use this opportunity to take some risks I would have otherwise been too afraid/lazy/comfortable to take.

With me?

My new blog is going to be A LOT of the things you've already come to know and love here.  But, it is also going to be MORE of the things that really matter to me - things like being a mom, pursing my calling towards teaching, finding balance as a working mom, and showing myself (and other moms) lots of grace.  If E, Myself, and I was about my "journey towards adulthood," my new space is going to be more about where that journey has taken me, what I've discovered about myself in the process, and what I want to be passionate and purposeful about NOW.

In keeping with my word for the year, my new blog is also going to be a little LESS.  Less clutter.  Less advertising.  Less obligation.  As much as I am grateful for four and a half years on record here, I have written over 1,000 posts and - frankly - it overwhelmed me sometimes.  I'm excited to wipe the slate (mostly) clean and give myself the freedom to go back to the basics with my blogging. (Don't worry, E, Myself, and I will live forever in the archives here.)

It is a fresh start for me... One that I'm SUPER nervous about, but simultaneously very excited for too.  It was time.  You know? I'm excited to launch a new space that is a better reflection of who I am NOW and not just - as I've focused on a lot in the past - who I am not.


So, sweet friends, like I said, this wasn't a super eloquent announcement or anything like that.  Really, I just didn't want to leave you in the dark anymore.  YOU are what have made this place a huge part of my life - not the name or the web site - and I don't want to move on without you.  Will you join me?

Again, I'm sorry for the absence here lately.  I'm at a funny in between right now... Working on design and content for my new place; so, feeling a little unmotivated and uninspired here.  At the same time, I miss blogging, and I want to continue having this "meeting place" until everything is ready to go at the new spot.   I miss having this little community to check-in with every day, and hearing from all of YOU.  THAT is how I know I'm not ready to give up all together yet...  

My new blog will be launching (on Wordpress - fancy, huh?) somewhere around my birthday on March 26th.  Please mark your calendars, or something, and plan to come to the party! OK?

*I promise I'll be as clear as possible in directing you to my new site.  BUT, now might be a good time to follow me on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram to make sure you don't miss any announcements! 

In the meantime, I would LOVE some additional feedback from you about what you'd like to see for the future?  What do you look for in a blog?  What do you need?  How can we connect? Truly, I value your opinion SO much, and would love any ideas or advice you have to offer!


Don't be sad, k? I love you all!
E



P.S. In case you don't follow me on Instagram, you may have missed that my dear Poppy passed away on Saturday.  I'm hoping to spend some time writing about his last few days and the incredible role he played in all 29.75 years of my life SOON.  Look for that early next week.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What Lent is REALLY About

I decided a couple of days ago that I was going to give up being lazy for Lent.  So, in true "Fat Tuesday" form, I went to bed at 8:30PM last night.  (Jeff was out of town and Sam spent the night with his grandparents, so it was - truly - a Lenten miracle.)

I woke up this morning feeling as fresh as a daisy - likely the most well-rested I have been in YEARS.  Until, that is, I glanced at the clock and realized it was already almost 6:30AM. (Apparently I slept through my 4:30AM alarm that I set so I could get up and pull my house back in order, etc. before Jeff comes home and life resumes as normal today.)  I have to be at school at 7.

SO, on the first morning of Lent, I did not wake up and spend time in prayer and the Word while I casually sipped coffee and watched the sun rise.  I didn't start the day focused on the things that "truly matter" like I really want to do during this time.  Instead, I jumped out of bed frazzled and disappointed in myself.  I frantically texted our sitter to apologize for the disaster that is our house (Lord, let me be as wonderful a woman as her one day) and said a silent prayer that I wouldn't hit any stoplights on the way to work today.  Then, as I got in the shower to wake myself up, I let a few tears sneak out of my eyelids.

This wasn't exactly what I had in mind for Lent 2014.



I'm not sure it bodes well for me that I've already messed up on my commitment to not being lazy in only the first 24 6 hours of Lent... But, I have been thinking this morning about what Lent is REALLY about and that maybe - just maybe - there is something important to be learned from my "bad start" today...


By definition, lent is the "solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday [today] and covers approximately six weeks [or 40 days] before Easter."  

(Side Note: This definition is from Wikipedia, which pretty much goes against everything I believe as an English teacher, but I like it and I'm too lazy to do any further research.  Ugh.  I just broke my "Lenten resolution" again. Awesome.)

Wikipedia goes on to explain lent as "the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement, and self-denial."  (Sounds fun, right?!?)


The Roman Catholic Church (and many other Protestant denominations - although not the Southern Baptist one in which I grew up) practices these things through a period of fasting from meat and/or giving up something as a form of sacrifice and penitence for 40 days (symbolic of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert just prior to his crucifixion).
Source


Recently, as a culture, I think we have become pretty enamored with the idea of "giving something up" for Lent.  I've heard it called "spring training for Christians," and I know my own tendency towards treating it as a "re-set" for all my new year's resolutions gone wrong.  This year, about half of my Facebook friends are giving it up for Lent (been there done that), my mom gives up sugar every year, and many in the blogosophere are into getting rid of "40 bags in 40 days" where they purge their house of excess stuff. 


I've done those things too (remember, last year I gave up my blog), and I think they are all REALLY good endeavors.  I think God will honor these sacrifices and, I hope, many will go in to Easter Week feeling freed from "chains" that tie them down during the rest of the year.  I, too, plan to "give something up" for Lent; but, I think there is a big risk that in all the "hype" of the season we miss the point and - really - sell ourselves quite short on the message of the cross...


At least in the spiritual/preparatory sense, Lent isn't about practicing our own self-control and DOING something for God; it is about admitting that we are completely weak before Him and desperate for His sacrifice.

It is, I'm afraid, more about waking up in the morning feeling "doomed" (like I did today), and recognizing that we will fail every.single.time when we try to do it alone; and, instead, being overwhelmed with gratitude for the fact that we don't have to.


I don't think it's bad to "give up" something for Lent... But, I do think it's crucial that we remember our insignificant our "sacrifice" really is.  God doesn't need our Facebook pages, processed foods, or bags of stuff.  He isn't disappointed in me because I overslept this morning; in fact, he will never be disappointed with me because Jesus already paid that debt.


Yes, for the next 40 days, I'm going to focus on being less lazy - on being intentional with my time in the way that I care for my family, invest in other people, and make my spiritual life a priority.  BUT, more than that, I am committing to see myself more the way that God sees me and really LIVING IN the truth of what Jesus' death means.

Are you with me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Five Things to Prove I'm Still Alive

I'm still here!  Sorry for my absence lately... It's been almost two weeks now since I "lost" my domain, and - now that the shock and "surely I'll be able to fix this" attitude has worn off - I'm actually enjoying a little less pressure to blog and feeling very excited about what's next.  I'm putting some of my creative/writing energy into my new space - hence the lack of posting here - but I don't mean to leave you all hanging...

So, while things are still getting finalized at my new "home" (which I'm hoping to launch on my 30th birthday - March 26th), allow me to update you on some tidbits of life here:

1. My Family Portrait.

Just in case you missed when I posted this on Instagram, I wanted to share our little family portrait (remember, this is what Jeff gave me for Valentine's Day) from My Little Buffalo:


I LOVE it.  What do you think?



2. The Bachelor.

I know, I'm so late to this party! Would you believe I had Bible study on Tuesday night (what is ABC trying to do to me?) and missed the Fantasy Suite episode?  I felt like such a martyr.  (KIDDING!)  Anyway, it's taken me four full days to get through all the drama from that night; but I made it, and am all caught up and ready for the infamous "Women Tell All" tonight.

Here are my thoughts going into it...

- For starters, I think Juan Pablo just might be my least favorite Bachelor ever (and that's saying a lot after Ben's season).  I hate to say it, but he is just dumb as a brick. We'll get to Andi later, but she totally said what we've all been thinking - his English seems perfectly fine until someone starts talking about something serious and then, suddenly, all he can say is "un besito."  Ugh.  That stopped being cute after about night one.

- I never thought I'd say this but - even before Andi went rogue - I think I've converted to Team Nikki for the win.  I honestly don't dislike her as much as I did to begin with... She seems really young and a little insecure to me; but, I really do think she is genuine.  Do I think they will last and she is "ready" to be a mom? No.  But, given my thoughts on Juan Pablo (see above) probably the best match for him.

- I'm practicing "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" with Clare.

- And, Andi.  Oh Andi. I LOVE her for seeing through Juan Pablo's handsome face and charming accent and calling a spade a spade.  Her reaction after last week's one-on-one was totally a "You Go Girl" moment for me.  Do I think she took it a little too far and seemed a little bit repetitive and a tiny bit crazy? YES.  But, letbehonestforaminute, aren't we all a little irrational and crazy when we are mad?  No? Maybe that's just me.  Either way, I love that she is smart and secure and not afraid to demand better for herself.  *Now, I think if she opts to be the next Bachelorette, she's pretty much just selling out, but whatever.

As for tonight, I really don't care what any of the girls have to say (accept maybe Victoria - haha); but, my favorite part of this episode is always seeing how different (and usually, even more beautiful) the girls look today.  Fun times.  What about you, will you be watching?

*For much better recaps/reviews of this week's Fantasy Suite episode, allow me to point you in the direction of The Possessionista and Pinterest Told Me To.  Both are PERFECT.  (I especially love the Possessionista's description of Nikki's horseback riding outfit. EPIC.)


3. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.


I just finished this book last night by Crystal Paine from MoneySavingMom.com.  (Yes, if you remember when I first posted about it on Instagram, it took me a while to read it; but, once I got started, I really liked it.) I definitely feel like I've been living in "survival mode" for some time now, so this book was perfect for where I am.  Crystal gave some really great tips for bringing order back to my life and focusing on what REALLY MATTERS.  I especially liked her advice at the beginning about learning to say NO to things that aren't life giving to me; and, on committing to simple routines instead of overwhelming myself with schedules and "to do" lists.  I came away from this book with some very practical tips I can apply right away; but, most of all, with a list of my own "best stuff" - a great filter to run decisions through in deciding how to invest my time/money/energy/etc.  I definitely recommend this book if you can relate to the "chicken with its head cut off" lifestyle. #notthatIcan ;)

P.S. I think this will prove to be a great lead-in to the next book on my list - Hands Free Mama.  Have any of you read it yet?  I'm both excited and nervous to dig in to it! (Are you noticing a theme for 2014?)


4. The Oscars.

Let me be honest, I hadn't seen ANY of the nominated movies and only watched until about 9:30PM of the show.  BUT, I saw most of the beautiful dresses and heard Ellen's funny opening, so that counts for something, right?

I think my favorite looks of the night were Lupita Nyong, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Hudson.




I also loved Bette Midler's dress.


And, obviously, Olivia Pope Kerry Washington was STUNNING, right?



(Side Note: Blogher just announced that she is going to be their keynote speaker in San Diego this summer.  I'm not planning to go again this year; but, this almost made me change my mind!)

5.  March.

Can you believe it's March already?   This is the month I turn thirty!! Also, Lent starts on Wednesday.  More on both of those things soon; but, for now, here are some pretty new March Wallpapers for your desktop while we dream of spring weather (it's snowing here today)...


From The Ruche Blog
From Sweet Tea Paperie
From Laura Prestwich Designs
So, what's new with you?!?! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sister Style: Spring Wish List

Thanks again to those of you that are continuing to meet me here (and on FB/Instagram/etc.), leave comments, etc.  It has meant so much to me the past few days to know that the little community we have built is not dependent on a domain name... You guys are the best!

On that note, change is on its way here friends (or, well, not here... but you know what I mean).  I'm busy brainstorming and dreaming behind the scenes for something new on the horizon, but - in the meantime - I thought I'd go ahead and share some of the content I already had ready to go for E, Myself, and I... Like spring wish lists, naturally...


The weather here has been SO crazy this year.  Up until a few days ago, we had eight feet of snow on the ground, and yesterday it was almost 70 degrees outside!  I can't keep up!!!

Anyway, these sunny days have given me spring fever BAD.  And, while y'all may not have cared one way or the other about it, but I had a lot of fun doing last week's "Sister Style" post with my sis Kathryn.  SO.... I asked her to come back today to talk Spring Wish Lists!  Because this feels a little less greedy than giving our mom a handwritten list for our spring birthdays. ;)


Here's what I'm eyeing lately:

E's Spring Wish List

(Click the link for all the sources!)

Basically, I'm loving bright pastels, monograms (duh), neutral sandals, and Gap skinny jeans.  Ahhh.


And, Kathryn's:
KK's Spring Wish List

(Click the link for all the sources!)

I love how you can totally see our differences in these lists.  Kathryn is 100% the type to pull off a Tory Burch purse with Old Navy jeans and a fedora.  I love it - and am a little jealous to be honest. *Also, just a note, she says that she actually owns that dress in black and the colored pants in red and calls them the "most flattering things ever."  Who can resist that?!?

What's on your spring wish list?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How I Lost My Web Domain & What's Next for EM&I

If you are reading this, you've already read plenty about my blog-domain drama in the last 24 hours, and still went out of your way to find me here, so THANK YOU!.  I'll try to spare you my sob story and just share a couple of the facts in case you are interested or worry that this could happen to you.  Then, we'll talk about where we are going from here.  Sound good?

(P.S. I kind-of just need to write all this out too.  Sorry if you are already totally 'over it' and/or think I'm being ridiculously dramatic.  I'm fully aware that I probably am being silly, but it's just where I am, and writing is how I process.  Y'all know me well enough to expect it by now...)


Part I: The Unnecessarily Long Story of a Lost Domain

E, Myself, and I has been in existence since June of 2009.  (If you're doing the math, that's almost five years ago.)  Of course, when I started this blog back then, I never expected anything to come of it, and - frankly - I figured it would die out like most of my other hobbies/habits in no time. BUT - much to my surprise and delight - I really liked blogging; and, even more shocking, it seemed that people kind-of liked reading what I had to say.  So, about six months in to this little gig, at the recommendation of my husband and a close tech-savy friend, I decided to switch out the standard "blogspot" web address for my own personal domain - www.emyselfandi.com.  (Incidentally, my blogspot address - yes, the one you are reading this on right now - also included my last name, and Jeff and I decided that probably wasn't the wisest idea either... So, it made sense.)  I had about 50 "followers"/regular readers at the time, and since blogger easily allows you to "redirect" from your blogspot address - it was no big deal.

At the time (and, let's just be honest here, still today) I knew VERY little about the technical side of blogging.  In fact, I probably said something very close to "just do it and tell me when it's done" to our friend regarding buying and making the move to a new domain... And, that's what he did.  I have some vague memory of him telling me that it cost $10 a year to keep, and that was that. I had no idea where the domain was purchased, how it was maintained, etc. As far as I was concerned, some little internet fairies were in charge of it now, and I honestly never gave it another thought.


Ok... Fast forward four years.

For four years, I had zero problems with the web address.  I never received a single bit of correspondence about the domain at all.  Like I said, I had nothing to do with it.  (Yes, in hindsight, I realize that isn't the best "management" technique.  I am young and stupid and never had any business playing with the internet in the first place... What else can I say?)

Around November of this past year, I started receiving email from Google saying that my custom domain would expire on January 7th, 2014 and that my account was not set for auto-renew.  January 7th felt like a long time away (and, if I'm really being honest, I also kind-of thought "I've never had to renew my subscription so far, why would I need to start now?"), so I made a mental note to look into it and kept blogging away... Finally, some time around the end of the year after receiving my 2nd or 3rd notification, I DID actually take some action and went on Google Apps to change the setting to automatic renewal - or so I thought.  Then, once again, I didn't give it another thought.


Ironically, about two weeks ago, I casually mentioned to Jeff that "I guess my auto-renew worked because it's long past January 7th and the world hasn't ended yet."  #insertfootinmouth  Also, in hindsight, a couple of different people had said things to me over the course of the last month or so that indicated that my website wasn't working normally (things like not being able to get there one time, but then the address working the next); but, since I don't typically access the page through my browser (I usually go through Blogger), and - when I did - it always worked for me, and I'm totally computer-ignorant, I didn't worry about that either.  *Basically, this is all just proof that I SHOULD worry a lot more in life. ;)

Then, randomly, yesterday the site just stopped working.  Kaput.  When you typed in the web address, a message came up saying that the "server is unresponsive" and several of you confirmed that this was happening across the board via Facebook etc.  #uhoh  

(Can I just be vulnerable for a second and admit that for a tiny minute yesterday, I thought to myself: "Ahh this is it! Your blog has blown up so much that you have officially broken the servers!  You've MADE it!!"  Then I remembered that my most recently published post was a recap of The Bachelor and determined that was probably unrealistic. Ha.)

***This is the part to read if you just want to know what happened and prefer to skip all my meaningless commentary***

I spent the better part of yesterday investigating and worrying (making up for lost time I guess) and ultimately learned the following:

- My domain was originally purchased (back in December of 2009) and paid for four years. #noidea

- I had not completed the full process for setting up auto-renewal on Google Apps, so as of January 7th, 2013, the domain was officially "suspended."

- This basically took all matters out of the hands of Google and gave them back to GoDaddy - the company where I originally purchased the domain (who knew?).

- GoDaddy gives a month or so grace period and then opens up an expired domain to "auction" for anyone that may have placed it on "back-order" - which basically means someone was waiting for my account to expire so they could purchase it.

- That "grace period" apparently ended yesterday, and my custom domain was sold (I think pretty much immediately) to an unregistered/private source. (i.e. I have no way of getting in touch with the person)

- IF my domain had NOT been purchased, I could have pretty easily just "bought it back" from GoDaddy for a small fee.  BUT, since it technically belongs to someone else now... I'm plum out of luck. Nothing anyone can do for me... Except the new owner of the domain, of course. ;)

Which brings me to...

Part II: How I'm Feeling

Sad. Frustrated. Stupid. Disappointed. And a tad bit silly for feeling all of those things over a BLOG - it's not like someone stole my dog!!

Mostly, I'm VERY thankful that - thanks to Blogger - I still have all of my blog content and was able to immediately switch back to blogspot with little to no change content-wise.  Losing the last five years of writing would have been DEVASTATING; losing some Followers, ultimately, is not.  It's not the end of the world, and it will be OK. 

BUT, of course, I'm sad.  I've spent a lot of time (not to mention money) building that little brand (ugh all those beautiful business cards from Blogher!!) and have made commitments to sponsors etc. that I feel like I can't fulfill right now.  THAT part is hard to swallow.  That part is a bit (ok, a good bit) overwhelming to me right now.  But, still, it is not the end of the world. More than anything, it is inconvenient, but really that's all. Life - even my own - will go on with or without emyselfandi.com.


As of late last night (yes, I kept checking because I'm a freak) there appears to be a new blog going up in that space by the same title - E, Myself and I.  There is still no contact information for the author, but I did leave a comment there asking him/her to contact me ASAP, and I have a tiny spark of hope that he/she had no idea they were purchasing a domain that was already "home" to someone else, and we will be able to work out some kind of deal.  *Person, if you happen to be reading this, please email me! I'm nice and will give you a SWEET deal.  Thanks!

To be clear, I am NOT mad at this person (I honestly believe he/she probably just has a name that starts with an E and thought the title was catchy.  I know I didn't spend time Googling things like that before I settled on a blog name).  Whoever it is did NOTHING wrong.  They bought an expired domain more than a month after it expired. That's all.

I'm also not mad at Google or GoDaddy.  Yes, I wish they had been a little more specific/clear in their emails and instructions for renewing - something like a humongous posterboard in hot pink letters probably would have been helpful - but I really can't fault them either.  Ultimately, this was/is my fault, and I'll own it. If I'm mad at anyone, it's myself. (And, really, if I've learned anything from the blog world in the last five years it's to show myself grace too; so, really, I'm not that mad at anyone.)

Part III: What's Next?

The quick answer is that I really don't know.  Yesterday, I had a lot of thoughts about just throwing in the towel and calling it quits all together - letting myself fall off the Internet for good.  BUT, when I'm being reasonable, I know that's not what I want.  I still really love writing and - ESPECIALLY - you all.  This has become an incredible support system for me.  It is like my "home" and emyselfandi.com was just the "house" you know?  Plus, I don't want to be someone who just gives up when the going gets tough.  Some day, I assume, it WILL be time to give up the ole blog; but, when that time comes, I want to do it because it is TIME - not because I was dumb and let my domain expire.

So... As I've said on Facebook and Instagram already, I'll be making a decision about where to go from here in the next few days.  Basically, right now, it's a toss up between simply switching to emyselfandi.net or something like that and keeping everything else virtually the same OR using this as an opportunity for growth and change and starting off my 30th year (one more month to the BIG birthday folks) with a new name and a new internet "identity" so to speak.  I'm just not sure yet.

In the meantime, THANK YOU for taking the time to read this epistle and for traveling with me back to my old stomping grounds for a few days.  You are my dearest and closest blog friends, my "people," and I could not be more thankful for you!


And finally, a little business to wrap up:

- Along with my domain, I also lost access to my email account through it.  SO, if you need to contact me directly for any reason you can reach me at emyselfandiblog@gmail.com temporarily.   If you have written in the last 24-48 hours or so, please accept my sincere apologies and send your message again to the above address!!

- To my amazingly kind and patient sponsors: Please know that I have not forgotten about you! I will do my best to right any wrongs that this may cause you and will happily reimburse your sponsorship costs etc. as soon as I get things figured out a little more. For now, feel free to email me with any special concerns or questions.  Thank you in advance for your patience with me in the coming days/weeks.



So... Has this happened to any of you before?  How did you recover?  

In general, I would LOVE any feedback you have to offer - ideas/suggestions/etc. - on how to proceed from here.  I value each of your opinions SO much! 

Thanks friends!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Bachelor: Welcome to Miami

I was going to start my "Before We Were Mommy & Daddy" posts today; but, I have a few thoughts on this week's episode of The Bachelor that I simply must share before I can move on with my life... 


Week 6: Juan Pablo takes the girls to his hometown of Miami, Sharleen leaves, Nikki and Clare shoot daggers through each others' eyes, and the most sensible one of them all gets sent home.  #inanutshell

Now, let's break it down...

The episode begins with some obligatory footage of Juan Pablo getting to see Camilla again.  This is sweet, don't get me wrong - I love a girl and her daddy, but I think the "single parent" story line is becoming kind-of overused... I'm at least ready for someone to have a teenage daughter that puts the girls through the ringer or something.

Next up, Sharleen receives the first date card and acts very confused and awkward about the whole thing... I, also, was very confused by 1. the fact that she acted like she was totally caught off guard and not at all prepared to go out; but, her make-up was perfect and her hair was already done, and 2. was Juan Pablo wearing fushia jorts on the date?!

In the end, their date consisted of nothing but making out, and Sharleen telling the cameras that she was missing a "cerebral connection" with him.  At one point, she also told Juan Pablo that she wished "she was dumber," which might be my favorite Bachelor statement of all times.  That should have been his 23490nd clue that this girl is way out of his league.

I have to be honest, I've been pretty much hating on Sharleen the whole season so far.  I still really don't understand what made her come on a show like this in the first place - my guess is that it's not a big spot for opera-singer scouts - and I think she could have at least acted like she wasn't so much better than everyone else all the time.  BUT, she started to win me over in this episode...

You're right Sharleen - amazing chemistry with a guy is something special.  Not being able to stop yourself from making out with him is great; but, also, it is kind-of a red flag when you literally cannot have a conversation.  I think she genuinely wanted to talk to Juan Pablo, but he just whispered and coo-ed and went in for another kiss.  I'm kind-of with her lately - J.P. is NOT the sharpest tool in the kit.  In fact, come to think of it, the closest I've ever seen to him having a real conversation with anyone mostly just involves him saying "look at me" a lot.  

Anyway, Sharleen ultimately decides to leave the show on her own accord and any doubt we might have had about Juan Pablo's intelligence is completely solidified by his profound statement after her departure: "I would rather be appreciated and be honest than be appreciated and not be honest."

Hmm. Bless his heart. (He didn't even really seem upset either, you know?)


In the end, I was actually kind-of sad to see Sharleen go.  I think, other than not being all that nice, she was a good example of a strong woman and not "settling" for someone that makes you feel good temporarily.  That, and the fact that she was one of the very best dressed I've ever seen on the show.  I LOVE her style (and I really really wish she had left one of her suitcases for poor Nikki or Renee to borrow for the reminder of the season).  *P.S. I'm still not completely convinced that she won't be back next week... We'll see.



Nikki gets the next one on one and - frankly - I thought the date was completely lame.  #Imsorry

For starters, why didn't he just tell her what they were doing at the beginning of the date instead of building it up like it was some kind of incredible once-in-a-lifetime adventure?  I mean, yes, I think it says a lot about the way he feels about her (although I'm not totally convinced that he has ANY say in who goes on what dates), but it really just seemed more like a concert-performer fell through and the producers had to go with plan B.  Am I right?  Also, was it just me, or was that totally NOT a dance recital?!?  That was - daddy's on The Bachelor and we need to figure out a way to get the baby-mama casually worked in to a scene, so lets pull in some bleachers and some extras and call it a show.  Oh silly producers, we're on to you.

Now, on to the more important part of the date... Nikki's outfit. Nothing says "I'm ready to be a mom" like wearing almost non-existent jean cut-off shorts and a silk robe. Uggggg.


Seriously, this is why one should ALWAYS dress sensibly, because you never know when you might be called to duty at a dance recital.  Poor girl.

But really, I felt a little sorry for her and told myself that surely she begged Juan Pablo to take her home and let her change once she found out what they were doing (but the producers cut that part, obviously) UNTIL... I saw her outfit choice for that evening.  Oh geez. #therearenowords

(As a side note, how beautiful and classy did Carla - Camilla's mom - seem? Oh how I wish there was confessional footage of her!!)

How one can go from being attracted to someone like Sharleen one night and Nikki the next (can we say opposites?!?) is beyond me; but, Juan Pablo is falling in love left and right and thoroughly enjoying the ride...



Later, on the group date, which I - for the life of me - cannot remember a thing about - Clare reveals a little more about herself (being the youngest of SIX girls totally explains some things to me) including telling Juan Pablo about her father's death and the video he left for her future husband.    Juan Pablo's heartfelt response: "Can I have a [little kiss]?" Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and call it a language barrier, k?

In the end, Andi gets the only rose of the dates and looks ROCKING for their one-on-one time later on.  I kind of think she's a cuter/more fun version of Sharleen now - obviously too smart and sophisticated for Juan Pablo - but I think they look AMAZING together.  She's still my top choice, but I don't think they'd last if she does win.



Back at the mansion - where the girls have absolutely NOTHING to do but pick at each other - drama is heating up between Clare and Nikki.  Their fight over whose room it was came straight out of my 15 year old students' playbook.  I loved it.  They are both morons.


And finally, at the rose ceremony, poor Chelsie got sent home.  I knew it was a toss-up between she and Renee, and I would have been sad to see either of them go.  Chelsie was cute and sweet (with just enough sass); but, she just didn't cause enough drama.  Sorry girl.  Adios!



Now, next week it's FINALLY hometown dates and, I for one, am PUMPED.  This is, by far, my favorite episode of the season and, from the teasers this week, I think this one is going to exceptionally good.  #whatintheworldhappensiwithAndi?!?! 

It's also time for us to be narrowing down our picks for next season's Bachelorette... What do you think? I'd say Andi has a good chance if she doesn't win - Clare and Nikki aren't well-liked enough, and Renee is way too vanilla.  (Come to think of it, that fact alone tells me Andi is NOT going to win... She has to be the next Bachelorette.)  We'll see.


What did you think this week?  Are you on a Team Clare or Team Nikki? Do you think Clare has had Botox?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Before We Were Mommy and Daddy (Intro)

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to cleaning up/organizing my basement and experienced a bit of nostalgia as I dug through boxes and remembered this whole "other life" Jeff and I lived before becoming parents.  As high school sweethearts, we dated for almost six years before we got married, and were married for four before Sam was born.  During those ten years, we were extremely fortunate and able to have LOTS of incredible experiences "just the two of us" including a six month study-abroad in London/ travel all over Europe, skiing in Park City, Utah and Breckenridge, Colorado, a three week cross-country road trip, and many other smaller trips etc.

As I labeled boxes of "camping gear," "skiing gear," "travel guides," etc. I couldn't help but wonder if Sam would ever know how "fun" and "cool" we were before we became Mommy and Daddy.  (Ha!) Sure, I hope that one day - in the not so distant future - we will be able to introduce our kids to many of the things we used to love to do together and build new traditions of travel and adventure with them, but there will always be a season of our lives and relationship that they will never really know.


Of course, it goes without saying that we chose to trade in weekend getaways for car seats and Sesame Street Live, and we would absolutely not have it ANY other way!  While I will be forever grateful for those years of adventuring with just Jeff and a single back pack, becoming parents FAR outweighs any of the other experiences we've had together.  

Print from BWPrints on Etsy/ on sale at Brickyard Buffalo now!

Still... It makes me a little sad to think that Sam might not ever look at his Daddy and see a shaggy-haired kid hanging upside down from a zip line or scaling a rock wall with no net the way I do.  He will probably never think of Mommy as someone who used to ski Black Diamonds or once hiked overnight in the Bavarian Alps.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to be posting some stories here in the next few weeks about our life together "before we were Mommy and Daddy."  These will mostly be for Sam (and any future kids), but I hope you all will enjoy the little trip down memory lane too as I recount the days when we were just "Jeff and E."   


Stay tuned!

* I've written about our high school "love story" already here, and all the details of our cross-country road trip in 2010 are here.  

Also, if you've never seen it before, here is the video we showed at our rehearsal dinner in 2007 that pretty much covers the first 23 years of our lives (and makes me cry every time):


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow-Week Gems

As usual, LOTS of goodies on the world wide web this week.  Cozy up by the fire and give 'em a read!


"Dear New Girl at the Gym" by Erica Millard
This was actually posted a few weeks ago, but I just found it, so it counts.  (Thanks for linking Katie!)  I needed to read this.  Good stuff.


"Let's Get Together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" by Elizabeth Robertson Williams.
I was recently introduced to Elizabeth's blog from a mutual real-life friend, and I feel like we might be soul sisters already.  I love what she has to say about hospitality and taking it seriously when we say "let's get together" to people. (Although, I have to admit, when I first read the title I thought she was going to invite me to her house... And, I was pretty excited about that!)
"The Promise You Can't Keep in Marriage" by John Mark Comer for Relevant Magazine.
This is a great article about what marriage IS and what it is NOT.  The idea that it isn't supposed to make you "happy" can be hard to accept, but also so freeing! A great message - especially after this week of loooove. :)


"Living Small: Current Thoughts" on The Vanilla Tulip
The Vanilla Tulip shared master bedroom/nursery
I have so much respect for Ashley.  She and her husband are raising their four beautiful kids in an 1,100 square foot cottage with two bedrooms and - I'm not kidding - it is one of my FAVORITE houses in the blogosphere. (If you want, start by reading the Introduction to her Living Small series here.  I love her heart and am so inspired by the life she is intentionally living.)

"Why Sean Lowe's Story Matters" (with a link to his "I Am Second" video) on Annie Blogs
If you read my post about Sean & Catherine's wedding, you know how much I agree with what she is saying...  And, you totally need to watch the video.



Also loving...

This necklace.

The new-and-improved Room to Romp website - especially this cute spring outfit for Sam.

This amazing striped tunic (with pockets).

This perfect Valentine's gift from my main squeeze:


I have had my eye on these for a while now, and Jeff finally picked up on my - not so subtle - hints. #heisakeeper I just sent in our photos and CAN'T WAIT to see the finished product of our little family in a few weeks!


And, finally, congratulations to Veronica - the lucky winner of the Valentine's Group Give Away! Look for one of these cuties headed your way from me!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!



I'm super late getting this posted today, but it's for good reason.  We have been busy ALL day playing in the snow, drinking coffee, and visiting with friends and neighbors. Our house is full of wet clothes, empty cups, cookie crumbs, and people.  It's been the best.

Amanda and Davey and Baby Luke are on their way over with take-out Chipotle for our Valentine's dinner now... It's funny to think of what Valentine's Day used to look like (before Sam); but, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I am so blessed by this little life and so thankful for my two WONDERFUL Valentines.

Hope you've been celebrating all the ones you love today!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sister Style: Make-up Steals & Splurges

When I visited my sister a few weekends ago, I was (as always) amazed and enlightened by her make-up collection/ expertise.  A lot of people think we look a lot a like, but I feel like our style (especially when it comes to make-up etc.) couldn't be more different.  It's actually kind-of fun, you know?  She's like my fancier/trendier/more made-up twin*. ;)

Do you remember when she took me make-up shopping for my 29th birthday?  It was SO fun, and my "Natural Make-up for Freckle Faces" from that post is one of the most 'pinned' images from this blog... She's a good one to have around.  Anyway, that gave me the idea to start asking Kathryn to contribute here more often and share some of her favorite beauty products and style advice with YOU, so I'm starting up a new "occasional series" called: Sister Style (original, I know).


This way, if you're into those kind of things too, you'll get some of Kathryn's great advice; or, if you're more like me, you can live vicariously through her too!  What do you think? (Do you think we look alike?)

On to today....

Not only is my sister totally beautiful and could - easily - be a make-up artist for a living - but she's also a total product junkie.  If it's out there, she's probably tried it!  Luckily for me, that means she almost always has a "cheap option" for some of the best products on the market, and knows when to save and when to splurge.  (Most of the time, I would much rather spend my money on fancy pens or gummy bears.)

So, here is her complete make-up regime (she says it honestly isn't as much as it looks like) with a 'steal' and a 'splurge' for each:

*The little star indicates which one she personally uses on a regular basis, although, she switches it up all the time!

Makeup Steals and Splurges Part 1

Face Wash: Garnier Cleansing Oil ($8) / Philosophy Purity Made Simple ($40)
Primer: Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer ($7) / Benefit The POREfessional ($30) 
Foundation: L'Oreal True Match Lumi Foundation ($13) / Tarte Amazonian Clay ($38) 
Concealer: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer ($9) / Benefit Boi-ing Concealer ($20) 
Bronzer: Rimmel Natural Bronzer ($5) / Lorac TANtalizer Baked Bronzer ($32) 
Blush: NYX Powder Blush ($6) / Benefit CORALista ($28) 
Highlighter: NYX Born to Glow Illuminator ($7.50) / Laura Geller Baked Split ($42.50) 
Finishing Powder: NYX HD Studio Finishing Powder ($10) / NARS Light Reflecting ($35)


Makeup Steals and Splurges Part 2

Lipstick: Maybelline 14-Hour in 'Perpetual Peony' ($9) / Tarte Amazonian Butter ($16)

*To keep things simple, I used Ulta.com for all of the above links and prices (except for the NARS product, which isn't sold there).  This is in NO way sponsored, and these products - obviously - can be bought in lots of different places.  Prices vary.

Personally, I (E) tend towards less expensive face wash and creams, nicer face make-up & blush (both by Benefit), many of the NYX products (I love their eyeshadow, illuminator, and finishing spray), & Maybelline mascara. What about you? Do you use any of these products?  What items do you splurge on and which do you save?  Please share some of your favorites in the comments!



What else would you like to see from my sis?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Confession Time


- The other night, I dropped a pen in the cushion of my favorite chair and went "digging" to find it.  In my search, I uncovered not only the pen but also approximately six pennies, nine Goldfish crackers, and two Legos.  Without hesitation, I took the pen and pushed the other items back into the crevice. #Iwillvacuumsoon

- I am LOVING Zumba; but, I'm slightly concerned about the songs I now find myself humming and singing to myself all the time.  Today's pick? "Talk Dirty to Me" by ________.  (I don't know because I was afraid to type in the song title on my school computer.) ;)

- Poppy is having some trouble with food, so I took him a chocolate milkshake (his favorite) last week at lunch time.  When I got to his room, his roommate informed me that he was in therapy and wouldn't be back for a while.  Since I was just sitting there - and it was melting - I decided to have a sip of the milkshake.  Fifteen minutes later (and 750 calories - can you believe that?!?), when he finally returned, there was approximately 1/4th of the milkshake left for him.  Oops.  #notonmydiet

- I am a giddy school girl over the possibility of a big blizzard here today.  I have done NOTHING all week in anticipation of several days of being snowed-in and doing nothing again.  It's bad.


Got anything to confess today?  I'd love for you to join me and link-up below!
 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Juan Pablo Kisses His Way Through New Zealand

You know what is really amazing about the Bachelor - I mean, besides Juan Pablo's hair? The weather.   Did anyone else realize that Andi and Juan Pablo's date consisted of bathing suits and waterfalls AND scarves, winter coats, and visible breath.  Same thing on the group date - rolling around in water-filled balls wearing bikinis by day, coats and blankets by night. #mysteriesofthebachelor 

Anyway, now that that is out of the way, here's a quick recap of last night's episode:

Juan Pablo & Andi go on a lovely one-on-one date where they slither between rocks in (no doubt) snake-infested waters to get to a beautiful clearing where they can stand under a waterfall and make-out. (Speaking of rocks, Andi totally rocks the one-piece bathing suit. Right?) Then, they bundle up for a romantic little dinner (of hardly any food) but get rudely interrupted by a geyser spraying them with cold mist.  (Didn't the producers speak to that geyser before taping? #rude)

In short, their time together went something like this --- 

Kiss, kiss, kiss, "I'm cold," kiss, kiss, kiss, "that geyser is so rude," kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, "I can't wait to have kids," kiss, kiss, kiss "will you aksept this rose?" kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss.

Basically, they have a lot of the same goals for their lives and have a strong spiritual connection. ;)

*I still like Andi (remember, she was one of my top picks originally), and I think she's both beautiful and cute at the same time which ranks up there with being the Assistant District Attorney in terms of difficulty and impressiveness; but, I don't think she's the one.  He basically only wants to make out with her - which is all fun and games until they get home to Camilla and jobs and all that other totally boring stuff that will interrupt this vacation way worse than any old geyser did.


Next, it's group date time.  I thought this date started out just lovely - does it get more beautiful than the New Zealand countryside? - and turned pretty weird.  Rolling down a mountain in giant hamster wheels is one thing (I actually thought it looked pretty good), but kudos to the random production person who must have had the great idea to ADD WATER to the balls so that everyone would have to be half-naked while they did it.  #thoseproducersthinkofeverything

Later, the girls got to enjoy more time with Juan Pablo over "dinner," this time in Hobbit-ville from the movie Lord of the Rings.  This was actually pretty cool, except I just couldn't stop thinking about how devastated the die-hard Rings fans must have been seeing their holy-land disrespected like that.  I'm guessing quite a bit of disinfecting and sanctifying had to take place there once filming wrapped up.  Don't you think?

Juan Pablo kissed Renee during their time together (thank goodness), and I was happy to see that he really does seem to like and respect her -which I can't say about a lot of the other girls.  Unfortunately, he went on to then kiss Nikki and Sharleen also (ON THE SAME DATE), so that kind-of cancelled things out a bit.  *To be honest, I really like Renee; BUT, I think she's too good for J.P.  He's the kind who likes to talk about respect and role models and mothers; but, mostly, just likes to make-out.  She can do better than him.

Then, at the end of the date, Juan Pablo wished Cassandra a happy 22nd (22?!?! Is it even legal for her to be on this show?!?!) birthday by sending her home.  You gotta give it to him for not wasting any time once he knew she wasn't the one, but I still felt for the poor girl.  Oh well, I feel confident there will be PLENTY of eligible bachelors lining up to meet her back home. (Plus, she's pretty much guaranteed to get on the next season of Bachelor Pad or whatever, to "win money to support my son's future" right?)


*Nikki has made a swift turn for trashy-ville, and I don't like it.  She had me in the beginning because of her passion for her job as a pediatric nurse and her "bubbly" personality.  Lately - based on some of her outfit/language/hair color choices,  I think I'd be looking for another practice for my kids.  (#Iprefermynursestobegrandmas). Sorry girl!  Plus, one of the tabloids said she calls the other girls FAT!  On no you didn't!

*I've actually really come to like Chelsie, but I don't see much of a future for her.  She's adorable and seems confident and secure (ahem, Clare) without coming across as too obsessed with herself (Kat), which are good qualities in my book.  I hope things shift for her.

*Sharleen.  UGH. Go home already.  The truth is, I don't hate her; I just really wonder what made someone as "sophisticated" as her think coming on television to date a guy with 15 other girls was a good idea.  Let's not drag this out, go home.  Honestly, I don't think Juan Pablo will be all that upset, and we can all stop holding our breath in suspense (#notreally).  P.S. Whatever you did to your hair that night at the Hobbit-house... I wouldn't do it again if I were you.


Next, we're on to Clare's one-on-one.  Oh Clare.  She's totally beautiful - albeit kind-of in a your face and hair never move kind-of way - but a dra-ma queenBy this point, I was bored of the show and TOTALLY bored of the "we snuck out and went too far in the ocean at 4:30AM last week" story line.  Clare still felt sad (which I understood - J.P. handled the situation TOTALLY wrong.  #typical) and like she needed to "crawl back into her little turtle shell" but Juan Pablo eased her fears (I'm still not exactly sure what he did other than just look hot and speak in that accent to her) and they went on to have a lovely date that involved gigantic black sweatpants, a very tight fitting wife-beater (of course), and a rose.

To be fair, I appreciated that J.P. and Clare's date was normal - even down to the hideous couch and poorly decorated room they were in - but it still felt forced to me.  Isn't there a happy medium somewhere between hobbits and harem pants?!?!


Finally, the rose ceremony.  Honestly, this was not too eventful to me.  I thought J.P. seemed sincere when he told Chelsie not to worry and that it was obvious that Kat pulled out the final stop when she, totally randomly it seemed, told a sad story about her father during her one-on-one time.  I honestly thought Kat would have made it further, but I wasn't sad to see her go.  This feeling was only confirmed by her statement that she's "always been told how great she is" in the limo ride home.  #byebyebirdie Regardless, with those boobs that personality she'll be all over the Bachelor circuit before we know it. 



So, that wraps things up for this week.  Did you watch?  Who would you say are the frontrunners now?  *I'm rooting for Renee or Chelsie, but I honestly think Clare, Nikki, or even Sharleen will win. Also, it's worth noting that Juan Pablo is moving up the sleaze-scale each week in my book, therefore, vastly decreasing my amount of investment in his future. #sorryJP



P.S. Don't forget to get your confessions ready for tomorrow, and enter the Valentine's give away here before Friday!


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