Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What’s in my Birchbox: January Edition

How many of you receive a Birchbox? I signed up just a couple months ago and am still tweaking (almost typed twerking) my profile to more accurately hone in my beauty preferences. For $10 a month, it’s a great way to get a handful of beauty and hair care items I would be unlikely to buy for myself.

Here’s what I received in my January box:
  • Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Crème. It’s no secret that I have very thick hair, so any form of cream that dares to tame this mane is a welcomed gift. I’ve only used it a couple of times (mostly because I’ve been too lazy to do my hair in any style besides a messy bun or braid), but it seems to work fine. It says to use a quarter-sized amount, but I use less, about a pea-sized. The only thing worse than frizzy hair is greasy looking hair. PRO: You can use on wet or dry hair! CON: You have to style your hair to see if the product works.
  • Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy. This was the second month I’ve received a fragrance sample. I have nothing against perfumes, in fact – I love to smell good! But a girl can only use so many tiny tubes of delicious scent. Last month, I threw my sample into my gym bag and I’ve been using this sample at home in my “perfume rotation.” Viva La Juicy is a strong floral scent, but not too overwhelming. Even though I like it, it doesn’t make me want to run out and buy the full-sized bottle. I also changed my Birchbox profile to limit the amount of fragrances I receive. Call me boring, but I just like smelling the same every day. I find it distracting when people smell differently all the time – don’t you?
  • Nail Rock. Words can’t describe how excited I am to try this product. I’ve had some shellac on my nails recently, so I haven’t busted open this sample yet, but it looks promising. Nail Rock comes with a polish to provide a solid color foundation to your nails, as well as a big pot ‘o glitter. My sample is a light pink/nude with a pot of pink sparkles. After painting nails with two coats, you’re instructed to dip WET nails into the pot of sparkle. Press down firmly and allow 15-20 minutes to dry. I’m not gonna lie, this sounds awesome, but messy. And I have limited trust in my ability to execute this process properly. Here's a quick video that demonstrates the process. Look closely and you'll notice that they pretty much skip over the part between dipping the nail in glitter and having a perfectly manicured nail. However, I’ve been big on having sparkles on my ring fingers lately (see here and here) and I don’t see why you couldn’t use the sparkles with other polish colors as well. I’ll report back after experimenting.
  • I was supposed to receive Coastal Scents Revealed Eyeshadow Palette, but instead received some Ahmad Tea. I mean, it tasted just fine, but I'm gonna be honest, I would have preferred the eyeshadow. Tea is tea in my opinion so I think I'll just stick to Tazo.
  • As an added bonus, I also received Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Day Lotion.  Since I’m suffering from the world’s worst cold [slightest exaggeration], this facial moisturizer has truly been a gift from Lord Jesus. I haven’t been using it as a full-facial lotion, but have only used some around my nose to help avoid the sensitivity that usually follows excessive Kleenex use. It smells heavenly and feels like buttery milk. That’s weird. I know. But just trust me and buy some. I’ve also used some on my hands on the coldest South Dakota days. I’m probably breaking some beauty rule.

What did you receive? Do you subscribe to a different but similar service? If so, tell me more about it! Do you like it? What drew you to that service instead of Birchbox?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Beating Target

I recently posted this Instagram photo following a trip to Target. I've known for quite some time that females of all ages, and even males, succumb time and time again to the wonders of Target aisles. You only need new mascara? That’s nice, but except to walk out $60 poorer without mascara, because that’s what Target does to your brain.

I believe we all have the power to buck this trend. Here are some tips on how to successfully navigate your Target experience:
  1. Don’t you dare take a cart or one of those pesky shopping baskets. Those are DANGEROUS. By limiting yourself to purchasing only what your hands/arms/body can hold, you will be forced at some point to put down that nail polish simply because you have no other limbs to hold it. If your shopping list demands that you need a cart (i.e. you need Kleenex, toilet paper, and a complete restock of the shower/makeup necessities), you’re screwed. And that’s okay. Just accept it.
  2. Be cautious in the Dollar Spot section at the beginning of the store. Some of this stuff is absolute junk. Don’t buy it. But some items, like $1 thank you cards, will save you money in the long run. We all buy excess cards/stationery that fill our desk drawers, but it’s better to only spend $1 than $5 in an aisle just 100 feet away! Also be cautious of some items that may be $2 or $3. Target has started to throw these items into the fray – so just be aware of the price tags when browsing.
  3. Don’t walk around the whole store. It’s one thing to end up with an extra $6 necklace or $4 lip gloss, but navigating down the home furnishings or book aisle will quickly add to your bill. Target stores are functional in the way that the layout is predictable. You can easily avoid “trouble spots” by avoiding entire sections of the store altogether.
  4. Avoid the dressing rooms. By refusing to try anything on, you avoid purchasing unnecessary clothing. I've never shared the philosophy of “buy it, try it on later” so this is an easy way for me to save some dollar bills.
  5. Focus on the end-caps. This is where you can save some big bucks – or spend $10 on things you really don’t need, depending on the way you look at it. My two favorite end-caps (this may vary depending on your store) are located in the school supply and makeup section. These end-caps do not face the main aisles, but the back wall. So if you’re in the school supply section, go towards the wrapping paper wall and you’re bound to find some solid clearance end-caps. The discounted makeup end-cap generally faces the massive nail polish wall. Here’s an example.
  6. Photo credit: All Things Target.
  7. What day is it? Target has a markdown schedule so keep an eye out for those red stickers! Generally speaking, clearance prices will end in either a 4 or an 8 (i.e. $1.98). According to All Things Target (seriously – who knew such a site existed?!), this is the latest rundown:
  • Monday – Electronics, Accessories, Kids Clothing, Books, Baby & Stationery.
  • Tuesday – Domestics, Women’s Clothing, Pets and Market.
  • Wednesday – Men’s Clothing, Health and Beauty, Lawn and Garden.
  • Thursday – Housewares, Lingerie, Shoes, Toys, Sporting Goods, Décor and Luggage.
  • Friday – Auto, Cosmetics, Hardware and Jewelry.

These tips may be helpful when you’re really looking to stick to your list, but let’s be honest, you’re going to cave from time-to-time and that’s okay! The great thing about Target is that we love shopping there. Browsing aisles at Target is never stressful to me and it shouldn’t be stressful for you either! So although it’s good to stick to our budgets and our shopping lists, enjoy the moments when Target sweeps you off your feet. Just avoid purchasing lattes at the in-store Starbucks, going home, setting the latte down while you marvel at your purchases … only to rediscover the cold latte hours later. Or does that just happen to me?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finding Hope and Comfort in Death

There are good reasons for my complete lack of blogging since this past summer. Some of which include a busy schedule, other priorities, and a void of anything really worth posting about. But on December 2, 2011, my Grandpa Jim passed away after battling pulmonary fibrosis for about a year. I wanted to use this blog post to reflect upon the journey that we all experienced and to also remember those final conversations I had with Grandpa.

To briefly recap, Grandpa didn't really let the fibrosis bother him or his lifestyle until he was admitted to the ICU early Thanksgiving morning. Just this past year, Grandpa went to a Twins game at Target Field (Easter weekend), spent a weekend in Okoboji with my uncle Kelly and his family, and even took a trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon with Grandma in September! He carried oxygen on and off with him from June on...but he hated it. He hated the stress of not knowing if he was filling his portable tank correctly, and he hated how it tied him down and limited his activity. Throughout his entire adulthood, Grandpa struggled with depression. It's not an easy topic to talk about, but I think it's even more difficult to understand what exactly he was struggling with and how that was affecting his outlook on life. So when Grandpa started to lose a lot of weight, fixate on why he couldn't breathe, and sleep all of the time, we started to worry about his mental health as well.

My first "hands-on" experience with Grandpa and his struggles was in June when my Grandma had a total knee replaced. Dad was in Canada fishing with Nick and Josh (a trip that Grandpa would normally go on...but he wasn't feeling well at this point), so it was up to Mom and I to make sure everything was taken care of. The morning of Grandma's surgery, I sat with Grandpa in the waiting room. He constantly asked questions about his portable oxygen tank and when we should go out to their van to refill it, questions about how to refill the tank, and when Grandma's surgery was going to be done. The questions themselves didn't bother me, but it was the repetition of these questions that made me wonder what was going on with him. It was almost reflective of an attention-deficit disorder. No matter what I told him ("Your portable tank is full...there's no need to refill it at this point" "When Grandma's done with surgery, it'll show up on this screen. The doctor said it will probably take 1.5-2 hours"), it didn't seem to give him any peace of mind. So I decided just to walk down with Grandpa to refill his tank. I had no idea how to do this, and Grandpa was quite flustered and probably embarrassed that he didn't really know what to do (even though the doctors and technicians had explained this to him many times over). He also judged whether or not the oxygen was working based on the pulsating noise of the tank itself. He had a difficult time understanding that constant oxygen flow, instead of oxygen pulses, also meant that he was getting oxygen. As our luck would have it, the level that it was supposed to be at, 4 I believe, wasn't pulsating. Clearly I had no idea what to do and I just wanted Grandpa to feel comfortable, so we walked to the ER to have a nurse look at it there. Unfortunately, they didn't really understand what was wrong either, but provided us with a different portable tank for Grandpa to use in the meantime. This was great, except it only prompted more questions from Grandpa, and more questions I couldn't answer ("Why can't I breathe, Courtney?" "I don't understand what's wrong with me." " I hate the way this makes me feel.") It was truly an overwhelming experience, and from that moment on, I knew things weren't looking good.

But the doctors insisted that his pulmonary fibrosis was under control. They were primarily concerned with his mental fixation on not being able to breathe. Because of this and a series of panic attacks, Grandpa was admitted to Avera's Mental Health hospital to undergo treatments, including rounds of ECT treatments. Looking back, this breaks my heart. All along, Grandpa was trying to tell us that he couldn't breathe, but instead of actually listening to what he was saying, we all chalked it up to his depression and mental history and tried to give him somewhat condescending advice of "just relax," "take deep breaths," "try to distract your mind with something else." Although ECT treatments are obviously much safer than they used to be and are nothing like the stigma of the scenes depicted in movies like "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest," they are still extreme and difficult. I feel like we were telling Grandpa that we didn't believe him, so we were going to shock the depression out of him.

In addition to ECT treatments, doctors recommended that he see a counselor to talk about his issues. Dad attended many of these sessions and he did mention that he saw improvement in Grandpa's attitude, especially after the counselor recommended that he go to Active Generations a couple times a week as part of his therapy regime. Grandpa went a couple times and often remarked that AG was a place for "old people," and that he didn't fit in there. We also saw sides of Grandpa's humor when he talked about playing "kickball" with a bunch of senior citizens. We thought we were getting Grandpa back.

But the disease was winning. We just didn't know how close Grandpa's body was to surrendering.

It was November 17th and I was traveling for work doing some outreach. I was just leaving Lake Andes and was on my way to Fort Thompson when I received a call from my dad informing me that Grandpa was going to have a stent put in that Friday morning. In the weeks prior, Grandpa went in for a second opinion at Sanford to see what was causing his breathing difficulty. The doctors noticed that two of his main arteries were almost completely clogged and that with the placement of a stent, he may experience some reprieve from having to work so hard to breathe. (I should note, it's very possible and likely that some of my recollection of these events is inaccurate, but the general picture should be the same). That Thursday (the 17th), the doctors noted that they were very surprised that Grandpa hadn't experienced a severe heart attack, but due to his great physical condition before he fell ill, Grandpa's heart continued to function normally. So Dad told me that if I wanted to see Grandpa before his surgery, I should think about coming back to Sioux Falls that evening and stopping at the hospital. He didn't need to say anymore. I finished my afternoon meetings and started driving back to Sioux Falls.

I knew that the procedure was pretty simple, due to my mom's experience working in Sanford's CVOR. But I knew Grandpa would be worried and stressed about it, so I knew it was important for all of us to visit if we were able in order to reassure him that everything would be okay. To be perfectly honest, I don't remember too much about this visit. I don't believe I stayed too long, but all of these hospital visits start running together. We probably talked about my recent trip to Austin, TX and Grandpa was always asking about my job. I just remember him being really, really tired.

The surgery went well and there were no complications. I had to hit the road early that Friday morning again for work, but my dad called with an update to say that Grandpa was in good spirits and was getting some of his color back. He was released from the hospital later that weekend to recover at home.

Everything seemed to be going well until early Thanksgiving morning. Due to panic attacks and Grandpa's inability to catch his breath, he was taken via ambulance to Avera's ICU. The first diagnosis was that he had pneumonia, which was affecting his ability to catch his breath and was also causing him to cough so hard. My dad spent these early morning hours with Grandpa...which was hard especially because Dad also had pneumonia! Grandma came over for Thanksgiving lunch while Grandpa continued to rest at the hospital. Later on that afternoon, I went up to visit Grandpa. This was my first experience in the ICU and holy cow, that place is depressing. I distinctly remember wondering why Grandpa was here, because this seems like a place where people come to die. You hear and see families crying, empty Kleenex boxes are strewn about, and an endless supply of surgical masks and antibacterial hand sanitizer is everywhere you look. I pulled up a chair and Grandpa asked me what I thought about Thune endorsing Romney for president. This had just happened the day before, so I was astonished and very happy that Grandpa was still "with it" and understood what was going on in the world around him. But perhaps the hardest thing for Grandpa to deal with was the fact that he wasn't going to get a Thanksgiving dinner. If you knew my Grandpa at all, you knew that he could eat. This is the guy that would order the endless soup and salad at Olive Garden and would legitimately eat 8-9 bowls of soup. He would only stop once we paid the check and everyone else was standing up to leave. He also had an unbelievable sweet tooth, which only made him long for pumpkin pie and some vanilla ice cream. He kept asking my grandma, Dad, and I what time it was. We couldn't figure out why he was asking, but later on realized that he was awaiting the Thanksgiving dinner that he would never get. Dad managed to convince a nurse to let him have some pumpkin pie later that night, which made Grandpa light up like you can't even imagine.

I continued to visit Grandpa throughout the weekend and he asked about my Black Friday shopping experiences and also kept asking when he was gonna get out of there. He was moved out of Intensive Care on Sunday, but was still on a high level of oxygen and we were awaiting the results of his bronchoscopy, which would determine if his breathing difficulty was the result of infection, or his pulmonary fibrosis. At this point, he had this giant oxygen mask on which was strapped to his head. It seemed very uncomfortable and he often tried to pull it off. But the medical staff insisted that although it may be hard to adjust to, this mask would give his lungs an opportunity to rest a little bit. I ran into Nick in the hallway on my way up to the hospital room, and Josh also came up to the room while I was there. They were heading back to school, since it was the end of Thanksgiving break, and wanted to stop by and see Grandpa before they left. Although Grandpa wasn't able to talk too much, both Nick and Josh were able to have great conversations with Grandpa and were able to tell him that they loved him. Nick and Grandpa were even making plans for Grandpa to come down for the Nebraska vs. Wisconsin basketball game. And I'm sure Grandpa was excited to see Josh run at an indoor track meet. Unfortunately, this would be the last time Nick and Josh would be able to talk to Grandpa.

That Monday morning, Grandpa was re-admitted to the ICU unit and was placed on a ventilator. My mom called me that afternoon to let me know. If you know my mom, you know that she wouldn't call unless she thought it was absolutely necessary. And she also wouldn't say that I should think about leaving work to come up to the hospital. I'll never forget getting off the elevator and seeing my dad stand at the end of the hallway with tears in his eyes. My uncle and his family had just arrived, and my mom, her sister Denise, and my grandpa's sister Doreen were in the waiting room. Dad asked if I wanted to go in and see grandpa and I said yes, but I had no idea what to expect.

Grandpa was hooked up to the ventilator, but was awake and relatively alert. Due to the position of the ventilator, Grandpa's head leaned to the right so I walked over to that side of the bed and held his hand. He squeezed it. He knew I was there. We truly didn't know when Grandpa would pass, so many of us ended up saying our good-byes multiple times. This was my first. Dad was in the room with me and I just told Grandpa how amazing he had been and how grateful I was that he was my grandpa. I told him that I was sad that he wouldn't be able to be at my wedding or see his future great-grandchildren, but also told him how happy I was that he was going home to spend eternity with Jesus Christ. There were a lot of tears and I'm sure I was a blubbering mess, but I just wanted Grandpa to know how much I loved him and how it was okay for him to let go because nobody wanted him to be in any more pain. Seeing a couple tears roll down Grandpa's cheek was gut-wrenching. He kept reaching for the ventilator, his sign to us that he wanted the ventilator out. He wanted to speak to us. I will always wonder what he was thinking when I was saying good-bye to him. I can't even imagine what it's like to be alive, conscious, and hearing people tell you how much they care for you and just sobbing over you.

When I left Grandpa's room to let other people talk to Grandpa before he fell asleep, I honestly thought that was the last time I would see him alive. But I didn't know how much of a fighter he truly was.

The decision was made to remove the ventilator at 1:30PM that Tuesday, Nov. 29th. We were all able to visit with Grandpa again that morning to let him know what was going to happen and he conveyed to Rev. LaRue Jundt (the Chaplain at Avera and a close family friend) that that is what he wanted. Rev. Jundt reassured Grandpa of his faith and his commitment to God and also shared some Scripture with him that morning. I spent most of the morning holding Grandpa's hand and visiting with other family members who were there to spend time with Grandpa. Shortly before they removed the ventilator, I told Grandpa again and again how much I loved him.

Then they removed the ventilator.

We all stood around Grandpa's bed, holding his hands, arms, legs. His breaths were quite shallow for the first 20 minutes after they removed the ventilator, so amongst tears and runny noses, we let Grandma and Grandpa have some final moments together. Standing outside of the room, we could hear Grandma say, "Go to the light, Jim, go to the light." And then Grandpa responded, "I don't see a light. Am I supposed to?"

We couldn't believe it. I was truly stunned. And part of me wanted to believe that maybe a recovery was in sight.

My dad, Uncle Kelly, and I were around Grandpa's bed when he asked my dad and Kelly if he was dying. They told Grandpa that yes, his body was failing and the fibrosis was just too powerful. Then Grandpa started to cry. I don't even know how to explain the feelings I was experiencing at this point. Part of me wanted to run away and forget that this entire situation was even happening, but I knew that this pain was just a part of the process. Dad and Grandpa were able to talk about faith and placing all of our worries into God's hands and Grandpa was able to verbalize that he knew that God was preparing a place for him. Those words are powerful enough when you read them in the Bible, but they come to life when you hear your dying, yet incredibly strong Grandpa say them out loud and to feel comfort in that. We asked him if he was scared and he said no. What a blessing. My grandpa, the biggest worrier I know, wasn't scared about what was coming next. He knew that there was no need to be scared when he knew that God was waiting for him.

Since Grandpa was doing okay, relatively speaking, he was moved to Dougherty Hospice House to rest comfortably during these final moments, away from all of the noise and chaos of the ICU ward. I found so much peace at this facility. Not only was it beautiful and the staff incredible, but it just felt like this was all a part of God's plan. Grandpa slept most of that Tuesday evening, but when he woke up, he had questions as to where he was and who was paying for it, which was typical Grandpa. We were all emotionally and physically exhausted and ended up saying good-bye, again, and left to try to catch some sleep.

Sure enough, Grandpa was awake the next morning. My grandma had spent the night with Grandpa and said that he had been awake since the early morning hours. You could tell he was so tired, but wanted to talk to everyone. He told us that he was worried that if he would close his eyes, he would never wake up again. It was very hard to hear, but it was so accurate. I tried to imagine what he was feeling and thinking, but it was impossible. We continued to share Scripture together and pray with one another. Perhaps my "favorite" and most powerful moments involved Grandpa telling Kelly and I that he kept seeing a big house with lots of rooms. He kept looking up at the ceiling and looked like he was experiencing a completely different world. I'll also always remember standing at the foot of Grandpa's bed with him looking at me. My dad said, "Do you see Courtney?" Grandpa nodded. Dad: "Is there anything you want to tell her?" Grandpa: "That I love her." Even as I type that, tears fill my eyes because I can still hear his voice and see his eyes looking at mine. It was incredibly powerful, sincere and overwhelming. Before we let my grandparents spend some more time alone before Grandpa fell asleep, my dad gave Grandpa a hug. But Grandpa was so weak, he was unable to lift up his arms. As my dad walked away, I saw Grandpa lift up his arms so I said, "Dad. Turn around." Dad gave Grandpa another hug and Grandpa was able to hug him back. Dad said, "I'll miss these hugs," and Grandpa responded, "I'll miss them too."

Those were the final conversations we had with Grandpa.

He fell asleep later on that afternoon and didn't wake up. He died in peace and comfort at 2:05 AM, December 2nd, 2011.

The days leading up to the funeral were filled with people bringing over tons of food, looking through endless pictures and reading all of the incredibly thoughtful cards that people sent. It was truly amazing to see how many people Grandpa touched throughout his life.

During the family visitation, I cried when I saw Grandpa's body in the casket. I thought my tears had dried up, but the body always has a way of finding more! It was just very shocking. During his final days, the wrinkles disappeared from his face and he looked 20 years younger! It was amazing to see him look so good for his funeral. Grandpa was very particular about his appearance, so I'm sure he was pleased :) Miller Funeral Home was very great and gracious throughout the entire experience...and they were all very professional and understanding.

The visitation was a unique opportunity to see how many people loved Grandpa. I'm sure a part of Grandpa Jim always wondered if anyone would show up to his funeral, but goodness, I'm sure he never expected a packed house! It was comforting to be around so many friends and family, and even people I didn't know.

I was a pallbearer with my brothers, cousin Spencer, and Grandpa's godchildren Corey and Chad. This was my first experience carrying a casket, but it was an incredible honor. Grandpa served 10 years in the Minnesota National Guard, so he received a military burial. Carrying a casket is a sobering experience regardless, but carrying one with an American flag on top of it was even more special. Although it was a sunny day, it was freezing so I was shaking uncontrollably due to not being able to feel my legs and from the tears. Watching the Honor Guard fold up the flag and hearing Taps in the background was one of the most beautiful experiences. I was so proud of my grandpa in that moment. At the end of the burial service, we released purple and gold balloons (for the Vikings of course...Grandpa was a big fan) into the sky. It makes me wonder if anybody saw the balloons and wondered what they were for. But like the balloons which traveled a long distance, Grandpa also traveled a long distance to get to where he is now.

His life was never easy. He fought and beat cancer, only to fall victim to another disease. But in 1995, Grandpa gave his life to Christ when my dad took him to a Promise Keepers event. We didn't know this until after Grandpa died, but Grandpa kept his admissions bracelet to that Promise Keepers event and kept it in his jewelry box. Written on the back was the date when he gave his life to Christ. Grandpa was a man of few words, so the fact that he kept this bracelet (and his Promise Keepers t-shirt) were physical reminders of Grandpa's decision to follow Christ. I can't imagine how much this means to my dad since he shared that moment with Grandpa, but it meant the world to me that we can rest easy in knowing with 100% certainty that Grandpa's faith carried him through and God's promise of an eternity with Him was fulfilled.

I know this was a long post, but it was important for me to share this experience. I continue to have good and bad days. I continue to have dreams about Grandpa on a frequent basis and occasionally, I'll spend time scouring my room looking for reminders of Grandpa. I've found a couple that mean a lot to me.

1) My high school graduation guest book. My mom purchased "Oh the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss and Grandpa wrote, "Courtney, I'll always remember the good times we had together. Grandpa Jim."
2) A Christmas ornament I received from Grandpa. It's a gold quartet of angels playing trumpets. Although I haven't found the card that was included with the ornament, Grandpa wrote that I would always be his angel.
3) A card I received from Grandpa while I was in college. It says something along the lines of, "Courtney, Just wanted to write you a little note to thank you for being so kind, calling me on my birthday. It was nice of you to remember...We're counting down the days until you're home again. It's always nice having you home. Love you, Grandpa"

It's no secret that people grieve in different ways, but I will continue to grieve by furthering my relationship with God and praise Him for guiding my grandpa to eternity. My grandpa was a great man and I consider myself to be truly lucky to call him Grandpa.

John 14:1-4 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Alexi Casilla for MVP....say whaaaaaat?!

That's right. I didn't make a typing error...although I truly wish that were the case. As I sit in front of the television watching the Twins try to capture a 4 GAME SWEEP of the Royals, Casilla is 2-2. There is something wrong with this world.

After the Twins traded J.J. Hardy in order to make Casilla the every-day shortstop, I wanted Ron Gardenhire's head on a platter. Not only had I purchased a J.J. Hardy t-shirt, but I did my best to show every bit of disdain possible for Alexi. An inconsistent hitter and fielder, I hardly find him an appropriate fit in the major leagues. But alas, here I sit reading headlines such as "Casilla powers Twins to third straight win." A couple things are ironic about this headline. Number 1: The fact that the Twins have won three straight games. Number 2: The fact that the Twins winning three games in a row is even news (last season, it was a common occurrence). Number 3: The fact that "Casilla" and "power" are used in the same sentence.

I'm still not a Casilla fan. I think he's a risky player and still isn't very reliable. This streak of solid hitting isn't fooling me. The Twins are still the worst team in the MLB, having just won their 20th game of the season. A comparison between today's lineup and the lineup a year ago reveals the following:

Today: Revere, Casilla, Cuddyer, Valencia, Young, Hughes, Repko, Butera, Tolbert.
A year ago: Span, Hudson, Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel/Thome, Young, Hardy, Punto.

I mean seriously...is this even real life?

But with the Twins creeping up on their 4th consecutive win of the season (Twins are up 4-0 in the bottom of the 6th...*knocking on wood now*), I wouldn't be a true Minnesota sports fan if I wasn't clinging to some far-fetched dream of a miraculous comeback. It appears as if Cleveland is falling apart (truly only a matter of time), and a couple more series victories against division rivals might, just MIGHT, put the Twins back in this thing. Or at least make it less embarrassing.

So as I cling to my Homer Hanky and daydream about Christian Ponder bringing the Vikings to the Super Bowl, here's to the ups and downs of being a sports fan. But a fair-weather fan I am not and neither are a majority of Minnesota Twins fans. We still find ways to pack Target Field while other teams are plagued by poor attendance even when they're performing well. The bright side to being in last place? It can only go up from here, because I'm not sure how any season could be worse than this one.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your New Silhouette! ....

Earlier this week, I was catching up on my Vogue subscription and found myself fascinated by the April 2011 photo spread entitled "Form and Function." Let me start off by saying that I don't read Vogue for literal fashion advice. If I wore anything in any of the following paragraphs down the streets of Sioux Falls, someone would probably call the cops. Or someone would make a Twitter hashtag about me (i.e. #pantsuit, #skateboardgirl, #philrescue...you know what I mean, Valpo).

The April issue was the annual "Shape" issue, in which women are encouraged to embrace their bodies, shapes, and the clothing that accentuates such shapes. This particular article seemed to suggest ways women can change the appearance of their shape, or completely alter their silhouette altogether. Lets get to the examples:

1. The Hoop Skirt.

Although early-era fashion is intriguing, I would be more intrigued to see someone try to wear a hoop skirt all day long. Try fitting into my Grand Prix with that one. Try sitting in an office chair all day. Yeah...didn't think so.

2. The Balloon Pant

The name itself makes me nervous. I would describe balloon pants as a combination of over-exaggerated "boyfriend" trousers and MC Hammer pants. Utterly ridiculous. Although this picture isn't the one featured in the Vogue article, you get the gist. If I were to describe the Vogue picture to you, I would say that each leg of the "pant" is twice as wide as the model's shoulders. Makes sense, right? You could truly fit a small person into the legs of these pants.

3. Paper-Bag Coat

Again, this isn't the picture that Vogue used. The one in the magazine is worse. I don't know about you (this "you" is referring generally to women), but usually during the winter, I feel larger anyways because you're constantly layering sweaters, jackets, scarves, and on top of that...a coat. The last thing I need is a man-ishly oversized overcoat to make me look incredibly dis-proportioned.

4. Complete Coverall

Okay, I'm exaggerating more and more as this list goes on. But seriously, what else are you supposed to visual when you hear the phrase, "complete coverall?" The Vogue picture features a coverall with pockets, slightly more structure, and shoulder pads. If you'd remove the shoulder pads, add a skinny belt, and find the perfect person to wear it, it might be okay. But otherwise, I'm gonna keep my onesies for bed.

5. Box Shirt

Have you ever wanted your upper-body to look like a box? Well, here's your chance!! Prada now sells this horizontal striped monkey print at a boutique near you. Seriously. When I first saw this picture, I thought they were talking about the skirt, which wouldn't be so obscure. Then I realized it said "shirt," not "skirt." This truly takes the phrase "flat as a box" to a whole new level.

6. Spinnaker Dress

I'm honestly curious as to what this dress would look like if there wasn't a giant wind tunnel leaving the right side of her body. Clearly, it would just be a lot of fabric. The seam is higher than an empire-waist...but might not be the worst thing in the world. If you can pull off a maxi-dress...than you might want to consider the Spinnaker dress as well. As for me, I feel like I look ridiculous in any skirt/dress that goes below my mid-calf...so knock yourselves out. Also, I would hope something like this would have side pockets. Side pockets can make anything at least 65% better/more acceptable.

I hope you've enjoyed my Vogue ramblings...I'm no fashion expert, but thought I would bring attention to the rising trends on the runway. Unfortunately, I do not think Target will be introducing a line of balloon pants anytime soon...but I'll have to keep an eye out.

In parting thought, which one of these form and function trends would you be willing to try? Which one is an absolute no-go?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why smart girls have a hard time understanding boys...

Warning: I don't have all the answers.

Disclaimer: Not all of this is based off of personal experience or personal knowledge of someone else experiencing such things.

Confession: I have a terrible habit and undeniable flaw of COMPLETELY misinterpreting situations that really shouldn't be (and don't have the luxury of being) misinterpreted.

Confused yet? Okay, good. Me too.

I suppose this blog post will primarily serve selfish therapeutic purposes, but I know I'm not the only one out there who struggles with similar communicative obstacles.

Let us rewind and provide some background information. I am a 23 year old, single female who is almost one year into the post-graduation world. I've had my fair share of the dating experience (really casual to somewhat casual to kinda serious to pretty serious), but that's really not something I care to blog about (you should be grateful). But throughout all of this experience and the experiences that never led to something, I've learned a couple things about myself. The biggest surprise of them all? I frequently misinterpret texts, emails, and even in-person interactions, causing me to build up these unwarranted expectations of both the other person involved and any future scenarios. In layman's terms: stop your flirting if you're not willing to take it any further...you're messing with my mind.

I have a really hard time believing that I'm capable of "inventing situations" in my mind. Any text/email/in-person conversation that has led to me thinking, "Hmmm...is he flirting? Or is that just me," has to come from SOMEWHERE. I'm not that delusional, nor am I that desperate. So the question remains, is it friendship or is it something more?

Here's some Cosmo-esque tips that I've scoured from the world wide web...
Five Signs He's Interested:
1. He tells someone, like a mutual friend...uh, okay, this isn't high school anymore. In this day and age, I think the mutual friends are harder to come by anyways... maybe you've had an interaction with a co-worker or someone random in which mutual friends are fewer and further between...isn't that something that's supposed to happen more frequently in the real world?
2. "The look"...yeah this doesn't exist anymore. This myth of a "look" is exactly what got me and other girls my age into the position we're currently in.
3. The conversation...well goodness, I hope he's paying attention regardless. If we're deciding between friendship or something more, both motivations should result in active conversation.
4. He appears unexpectedly...again, what a myth! Nobody appears outside your window with a boom box over his head, nor runs to your gate at the airport to tell you to not get on the plane. Please, moving on.
5. EVERYONE likes you....what kind of advice is this?? Everyone likes you?! I consider myself to be relatively friendly and I would like to believe that more people enjoy my company more than the people that despise it. But still. There continues to be no differentiation between friend and significant other.

Well, this really leaves us nowhere besides only reiterating my belief that people just need to be straight up and forward. I've said some brutally honest things before in my life...but looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

I'm closer to 25 than I am to 21 and who has the time for games at this point? So readers everywhere, here's the moral of the story. If you've been playing games with someone, or leading them on in any way (whether it's in a relationship, a friendship, a rivalry, etc), lets put it all to rest. Because flirting is dangerous territory...although it may be beneficial in some aspects, it's always important to consider the long-term ramifications of consistent and incessant flirtatiousness.

Thoughts? Agree/disagree? Bottom line...I'm single and I'm gonna try to enjoy it while it lasts :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Things that have made me tear up this week...

Alright...I'm really not much of a crier. Or is it spelled cryer? Nope. Crier. I never cried during movies growing up (except "My Dog Skip" or basically any other movie involving adorable golden retrievers and/or puppies). For example, my birthday party one year involved a big group of us going to Pearl Harbor. And I didn't shed a tear. I was almost abnormal.

I started crying more once I went to college. Not really sure why...things just probably seemed more real. Life was actually moving pretty fast and sometimes transitions can just throw me for a bit of an emotional loop. I was homesick for like a day, then moved on...but I think I just realized that there was no point in holding back tears for the sake of just holding them back.

Plus, I think it feels good to well up every once in awhile. But sometimes, even my own tears puzzle me. Now, for some examples (from this week...):

1. The trailer for Disney's African Cats: Kingdom of Courage movie. Especially frame 0:35. I mean seriously. How cute are those little muffins?! Now, I'm not sure why my instinct is to tear up about it. But alas, it happens. So I probably won't be able to see this one in theaters due to my potential watershed. Netflix Queue, be on the lookout.

2. A recent episode of "Kate Plus 8" involving koalas. This is most likely cause by the same thing that causes reason #1...whatever that thing is. I should clarify...I really don't like this show anymore. I did enjoy it at one time when they were all a big happy family renewing their wedding vows. But now I'm pretty much over it. Okay, tangent. Moving on.

3. Little baby Grace Briann. For those of you who don't know, I am now a volunteer at Sanford Hospital here in Sioux Falls and every 2nd & 4th Sundays (and other various shifts that I pick up), I rock little tiny babies in the NICU. Due to privacy reasons, I can't divulge any information about particular babies over the internet...but since the Cradle Roll available to the general public, it's fair game! Anyways, I had the honor to hold baby Grace for almost two hours Sunday morning. She seems to be quite healthy, but just arrived a couple weeks too early! She is super warm and cuddly and absolutely full of love. Her parents (whoever they are) are truly lucky! She cuddled into my chest and would occasionally yawn (and fart) and stretch her little tiny hands. This volunteering experience has truly impacted me. While I'm not one of the crazy, Grandma-aged baby rockers who constantly sing lullabies to the babies, I do take the one-on-one time I have with each little one and lift up some prayers for their tiny bodies. So, Grace, Tayrell, Braxin, Isabella, and all of the other babies and families that live on that floor, have been fighting for life much harder than I have ever had to...and that alone is worth some tears of joy :)

4. My toenail (or lack thereof)...I had it removed two weeks ago. And sometimes it burns. Like it's on fire. It hasn't happened for a couple of days, but still. It causes the tears to well.

5. The little boy who played Chip at the recent showing of "Beauty and the Beast" at the Pavilion. Seriously. He was so adorbs. Even ask Collin...or my dad. He had the cutest little boy voice ever and made me want to give him a giant hug. Also, I'm not a creep.

See, emotions and tears aren't always a bad thing. In fact, it might even be considered a GOOD thing if your happy tears outweigh your sad tears. So cry on criers, and I might have a tissue that you can borrow.