Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Stop what you are doing right now and watch HappyThankYouMorePlease immediately.

I’m not usually one to rave about a movie (unless it includes ‘Harry Potter’ in the title), but I just can’t say enough about this inspired film.

I’ve read some complaints about the synopsis of the film not being entirely relevant to the movie. This is probably because the plot isn’t what drives the story, rather the characters themselves propel the storyline forward. But basically the synopsis is: A writer in his later twenties finds a foster child lost on the subway and instead of leaving him alone, impulsively decides to take him home.

Wow, that sounds creepy. It’s really innocent and naïve, I promise.

It's very Garden State meets 500 days of Summer-esque. Just a group of 20-somethings grappling with the fact that they have to grow up. Hmmm... I wonder why I love this genre of movie?

There are several other reasons why I enjoyed this film. It was well written. The acting was outstanding. The characters were well developed and flawed and relatable. It was dramatic and funny and uplifting and charming. So charming that it made me feel like I was totally crushing on a cute boy.

Yes, I have a crush on this movie. And you should too.

I'll leave you with this quote, which is a way better synopsis of the movie than they gave on Netflix:

"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seriously, go watch it. NOW!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Tip

Case 39 is a horribly evil movie. I do not recommend watching it, unless horribly evil movies are your thing, and then by all means, watch away.

Horribly evil movies were right up my alley, until I saw The Ring. This movie crossed a line for me. Too Horrible. Too Evil. Too Far.

After watching The Ring, I seriously regressed back to childhood and wanted to sleep on a pallet on the floor of my parent’s room. Unfortunately, I was in college at this time and sleeping in my parent’s room was not a possibility, not to mention extremely uncool. So instead, I just didn’t sleep for the next two months. Or watch TV.

Nothing good came from me watching The Ring. But something good did come from watching Case 39, and that was my discovery of Chamomile Tea.

If you have any sort of sleep issues (falling asleep, staying asleep, etc), drink this one hour before you go to bed. It has changed my life.

No more sudden bouts of insomnia that strike at 3 am, which if you’ve ever watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose is also known as the devil’s hour. Yea, try going back to sleep after you contemplate that one. Fortunately, after my chamomile tea discovery, I sleep right through the devil’s hour straight on until 5 am (which is only slightly less evil).

So the Tuesday tip of the day is: for a good night’s sleep, drink chamomile tea and do not watch horribly evil movies.

I could have definitely used chamomile during the two months of sleep deprivation following my traumatic viewing of The Ring.

I shudder just thinking about it. EVIL.

And since I have now sufficiently freaked myself out by reflecting on horror movies, I will now meditate on this image and be filled with the overwhelming urge to pinch this cutie patooties little cheeks.

Ok, I feel much better now.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


When I started dating in high school I came up with a list of ‘deal-breakers’ in order to eliminate those boys who simply weren’t worth my time. The list consisted of things such as the following:

I would not date a boy if:
He didn’t like Dave Matthews Band
He spiked his hair
He drove a “jacked up” vehicle
He didn’t look cute in a baseball cap

When I got to college, I added some much less shallow rules to the list such as not dating a boy if:
He was a Sigma Nu
He wore gold jewelry
He didn’t like animals, especially furry ones
He was a Philosophy major

So after coming up with such an infallible weeding out process, how in the world did I end up married to a guy who didn’t cry during Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows Part II?

Not one single tear.
Didn't even tear up.

I'm pretty sure that's grounds for divorce in the State of Texas.

(Jonathan and I about to board the "Hogwarts Express" in Scotland, where the train scenes are filmed)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I wonder what Father Abraham named his many sons

You know how, when your discussing hypothetical future baby names with your significant other, and they bring up a point that you never thought of that totally ruins your favorite baby name? Well for the past two days I’ve had this song in my head:

Father Abraham, had many sons,
Many sons had Father Abraham…..

(and its completely driving me crazy that I can only remember these two lines.

Over and over.


Abraham is officially off the hypothetical future baby name list. Not to mention that I wanted to shorten this name to Bram when our hypothetical future baby will possibly grow up in Romania. You know, land of Bram Stroker’s Dracula.

Can I veto my own suggestion now? Bummer.

Be Still

Ever since I took a mother-daughter trip to Italy when I was seventeen, travel has been a major love of my life. I love experiencing different cultures, food, languages, histories, architecture, art and lifestyles. But mostly, I love beautiful landscapes. I love that feeling of awe that stops me when I see something so breathtaking that it brings to mind this verse:

Be Still

and know

that I am God

I will be exalted among the nations

I will be exalted on the Earth.

Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be careful what you pray for.

Note to Self: Don’t ever ask the Lord to help you with your spiritual growth unless you really mean it. Case and point:

In the year before Jonathan and I got married, my personality took on a major shift. I was working 20 hours a week for a graduate assistantship, 20 hours a week at an internship and taking 12 hours of master level coursework, all while trying to plan the wedding of the decade and keeping my body in wedding dress ready form (priorities, right?).

Every second of my day was planned. Seriously, I had to carve out time for showering and eating. This is when my 5:15 AM workout habit began because I had to create time for exercise- time that had formally been known as REM sleep.

The shift that my personality took was one of rigid inflexibility. If something threw my perfectly scheduled day off course I would experience a full blow panic attack. In the weeks before the wedding I was having 2-3 panic attacks a week and could not sleep through the night.

I prayed, and asked my friends and family to pray, for God to help me become more flexible.

In the midst of a 3 week span including graduating, traveling to Houston for my nephew’s birthday party, getting married, getting ready for a honeymoon to Peru, followed by my brother’s destination wedding in Jamaica, capped off by moving 15 hours away to Midland, TX- we found out our apartment would not be ready to move into for our scheduled move-in date. We would be homeless if we didn’t come up with a new plan fast.

So the weekend before graduation we decided to buy a house in Midland rather than rent an apartment. We set aside two days to find our new house. To our HGTV-loving selves, this was a great idea in theory. In actuality, the real estate market in Midland was apparently booming. Houses didn’t stay on the market more than a few hours before they sold, usually above asking price. For property virgins like ourselves, it was a bit overwhelming.

We saw two houses one morning and decided to have lunch to discuss which one to make an offer on (because that’s what they do on HGTV’s “Property Virgins”). We decided on move-in ready (aka no wallpaper) house and called our realtor- but it had just sold. Left without options, we bought our second choice, complete with textured grape wallpaper in the kitchen.

The day we moved in we noticed that the carpets were sopping wet. Apparently we had a slab leak which flooded our living room, dining room, and kitchen and so we had to immediately replace the floors. Did I mention we were newlyweds...AKA broke from just putting our life savings down on this house?
I called my sister to vent and she said, “Well, you did ask for God to teach you flexibility”.
It was worse than someone saying “I told you so”.
And that was just the beginning of my flexibility-learnin’.
I’m not going to lie, the first 6 months in Midland was hard. Flexibility was forced onto me. I had left behind the only home I’d ever known, was far away from my entire support group and living away from my husband half the time (which included my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas- in case you were wondering). On top of that, I was taking on a new role as a wife and working woman.
It was the hardest time of my life. It was the hardest time of Jonathan’s life. It was the hardest time of our marriage.
I realize now that the root of the problem wasn’t that I wasn’t ‘flexible’; it was that I didn’t trust God. I’ve felt so overwhelmed by all the changes in my life, that I had a need to control everything around me. Relinquishing that control seemed impossible to me, so over and over again God took the control away from me.
He made the slab leak. He made the air conditioner break. He disconnected my TV and erased my DVR. He sent me to the hospital 3 times in 1 year. He gave me a job where I was on call 24/7. He took me out of my comfort zone and He isolated me.

The worst part was that I asked for it. The more I fought for power and control over my life, the more he humbled me.
So why am I still fighting Him? There is so much uncertainty in my life that I feel paralyzed with indecision. When do we start a family? When do I buy a new car? Should I look for a new job? How can I decide those things when I don’t even know which country I’ll be living in 9 months from now or if we’ll be moving at all?
But see, it’s perfect. My addiction is control. It’s obsessive planning. Jonathan’s career is my rehab. There will never be a five year plan. There isn’t even a guarantee for a 2 year plan. I have no choice but to rely on God, to seek his plans for my life, and to hear his voice when I search for answers.
I read Acts 16 yesterday and was so convicted by Paul’s hardships when trying to do God’s work. When he reached a road block his first conclusion was always, “God must want me to do this a different way”.

He didn’t get frustrated and throw up his hands in defeat. He didn’t have a panic attack. He didn’t write a bratty blog post to complain all about it.
He changed his direction. He sought God first, above all else. He trusted God. That is the key. It’s the solution to every feeling of frustration, confusion, insecurity, stress.
Here goes nothing:
Dear God,
Will you please teach me to trust you?

Target Syndrome

Today I performed a scientific experiment. I had to go to Target to return the apparently uncool i-Pad case I bought Jonathan for his birthday. I didn't "need" anything else from the store, so I decided to use my 30 minute lunch break to test the hypothesis that it is impossible to go to Target without purchasing something.

To test this theory, I decided to aimlessly circle the store. Somehow I made it through women’s clothing without needing anything.

Pajamas? Nada.

Electronics? Nope.

Books ( the real test)? I didn’t buy one though I admit I had to look away when passing the Philippa Gregory novels.

I had almost made it full circle through the beauty products when I discovered that in fact: it is impossible to go into Target and not purchase anything.

Hypothesis was proven when I walked out of there with a jumbo container of Cetaphil and a box of animal crackers. You just don’t know what you need until you see at Target. It’s a sickness.


Later that night, Jonathan and I made a return trip to Target for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part I, a bottle of red wine, and another box of animal crackers. We decided it would be fun to be a check out cashier at Target just to see the random things people buy.

For instance, the couple behind us was buying two tennis racquets, tennis balls, apples, and sponges. At 8 pm on a Friday night.

Just like Riding a Bike...

I go through periods of my life where I have catch phrases. Friends of mine will undoubtedly remember these with pangs of annoyance.
“Anyway, back to me” – Junior year of high school
“No-tuh” – Senior year of high-school
“I do what I want” – Senior year of college
Recently my phrase has been “Who says?”, and I use it to challenge any clichéd truisms that come my way. I always say it in this really sassy tough voice.
For example:
You have to go to work on Monday.
Who says?You can’t eat ice cream for dinner.
Who says?
You never forget how to ride a bike.
Oh really? Who Says??????
I am here to challenge this cliche. Otherwise, how can you explain how I, a one-time bicycling fool, fell off my bicycle TWICE within a 3 hour ride? Ask my BFF Simone how annoying I was back in the 3rd grade. I’d show up every morning at her house, she’d ask me what I wanted to do today, and I’d say “ride bikes” and because she was the sweetest kid on the planet, she would reluctantly oblige. I still remember the day she finally stood up to me and said “I don’t want to ride bikes today”, and thus our Nintendo phase started.
The point is, at one time in my life, I was pretty skilled at riding a bike. Flash-forward 15 years to my husband asking me on our Ireland trip what I wanted to do that day. “Let’s do a fifteen mile bike ride through the mountains. It will be great fun!”
We show up at the rental bike stand and ask for two rental bikes. The guy, we'll call him Mike, let us have our pick and points us to the Killarney National Park.
“We’re not going to the wimpy national park,” I explained/boasted, “we’re going to the Gap of Dunloe.”
At this point, Bike rental Mike gives us a skeptical gaze, pulls out some equipment for us to patch up busted tires, gives us a lecture about if the bike comes back damaged we’re responsible, and gives me a sinking feeling that I’ve just signed up to bicycle up something similar to Mt. Everest.
I was shooting Jonathan looks and sending him psychic messages that said “Get our money back, let’s go get a massage”. Either my psychic abilities don’t work as well in Ireland or he ignored me because he hopped on his bike looking calm and collected. With blind faith I pedaled behind him on the bike trail until the bike trail ended and we were sharing the tiny Irish road with tour buses and 18 wheelers.
I’m getting more and more anxious and my mind races with thoughts like “My car insurance covers me everywhere in the world except for Israel, Iraq, and Ireland; do I really want to ride a bike on these roads?” And, “That bike rental guy specifically warned me not to hit any rocks. It’s probably not safe to bike over these grated drains”.
At about that moment, I had to make a decision, swerve to miss the tour bus passing me, or swerve to miss the grated drain. In my jumpiness I ‘over-corrected’ my swerve, hit the curb and watched my life flash before my eyes. I thought: "The beds sure are soft in heaven" until I realized I had flown about 5 feet onto a delightfully soft spot of Irish Grass.
Immediately, I thought: "Thank goodness I wasn’t bicycling next to one of those stone fences they are so fond of!" (This, my friends, is a little technique I like to call, foreshadowing….)
After convincing myself to get back on the bike instead of taking a nap on the soft grass, we assessed the bike for damages and decided to proceed with the trip. We also decided to ride our bikes on the pedestrian sidewalk.
About 5 miles later, we made it to Kate Kearney’s Cottage and the beginning of the Gap of Dunloe. As we rode our bikes past people in horse drawn buggies we realized that everyone was looking at us like we were certifiably insane. But we were past the point of no return. We were here and we were doing this.
This was the moment where we would discover the honest truth of whether or not our bike trip was worth it, and I have to answer that question with a resounding: YES!
I asked Jonathan if he had ever seen something so beautiful, and because I have trained him so well he reflexively answered with a, “Yes- You”. After a roll of my eyes we began debating if The Gap of Dunloe was more beautiful than the Scared Valley in Peru:
(Sacred Valley in Peru)
I voted yes. I don’t know what Jonathan voted- I was too busy taking in the scenery, which was breathtaking for two reasons: 1) it was spectacularly rugged and 2) I was riding my bike up a mountain.
The ride was challenging, but rewarding. I found my P90x training to be very useful and I whispered a familiar mantra to myself: “Do your best and forget the rest” . When that failed to work, Jonathan yelled back over his shoulder “Make Tony proud!” I reached deep into my reserves and kept pedaling up, up, up as if to say, “Take that-cellulite!”

Once we were done pedaling through the Gap, we pumped our brakes for a 2 mile ride downhill to Lord Brandon’s Cottage. Here we met our boat driver who would take us on a 1 ½ hour boat ride back to Killarney. While waiting for our boat to depart, I enjoyed a snickers bar and have to say that I have never felt less guilty about eating candy. At one point, I even dipped the snickers into our to-go JIF peanut butter as if to say, “Welcome back, cellulite- I missed you old friend”.
As for the views- this was the Ireland of my dreams: Wild, green, juxtaposed. It was almost too gorgeous. By the end of the boat trip we had “beautiful scenery fatigue”. I would ask Jonathan if he wanted to take a picture of a lake with a mountain jutting out of it, and he’d shrug and say “Nah”.
Our boat dropped us off at Ross castle. Did Jonathan want to look around castle ruins? Nah.
Did Jonathan want to stop and look at a family of deer? Nah.
Did Jonathan want to stop in Killarney town to buy my a Guinness t-shirt? Nah.
Jonathan had finally gotten my psychic signals about that massage and was speeding back to the bike rental place.
We were almost there. We were so close. I was feeling euphoric and invincible after my triumphant ride. I was keeping up with Jonathan about to jump a curb with my bike when God chose to step in and humble me. I jumped the curb. My bike did not. I would have flown 5 feet again if a stone wall hadn’t so generously stopped me.
Jonathan asked “Are you okay?” and I had to admit: Nah. Not okay. Bike not okay. Jonathan quickly “fixed” my bike, but we decided to walk it back the rest of the way. We strategically waited for a big group of wimpy national park cyclists to turn their bikes in before we brought ours in. Bike Rental Mike was so busy with the rush of returns that he didn’t “inspect” our bikes like he warned us he would. I’m sure that the mud on the pedals and grass stains on my pants would have clued him in had we arrived solo.
We fled the scene of the crime and speed-walked back to our hotel for a steam, a much deserved hot chocolate and a new found respect for Lance Armstrong.
I may indeed forget how to ride a bike, but I will never forget this day of my life, even despite a slight concussion.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Here Goes Nothing....

For a while now I’ve been a fan of the blogosphere and I’ve personally made a few failed attempts at it before. I’ve loved writing ever since I was a child, but somehow lost that passion after years of forced academic writing and research papers. Now that college life is behind me, I’m excited to use this medium as a way to practice my storytelling and writing skills.

In February 2012, we found out that Jonathan’s job would be relocating us to Aberdeen, Scotland. This blog will mostly serve as an archive for our expatriating experience. The title is directly inspired by The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. Ever since reading Ernest Hemingway in high school, it’s been my dream to live abroad. How appropriate that my blog title should be inspired by a book chronicling his first marriage (though I hope Jonathan and I have a happier ending). I’ll share logistical and well as humorous and personal details about what it is to be an American moving to the UK.

P.S. This blog was started a few months before we knew about the move. If you’re only interested in that part, you should start in the archives at March 1, 2012. However, if you’re also interested in my opinions on The Bachelor or American Idol, or seeing lots of cute pictures of our pups, you can start from the beginning.
(From left to right: Bailey-Bop, Laine, Samson, Jonathan)