Birthday Celebrations for Penny!

My sweet little shadow is three years old today! Happy birthday precious, Penny Pup! You're the best travel buddy, my favorite sous chef, an exuberant walking buddy, and the best foot warmer in the world.

She's been a constant companion for me ever since we brought her home. I can't imagine a single day without this pup. Here's to another year of throwing frisbees, tearing apart woobies, snuggling close to Mama, running crazy with Dad and hoping for more peanut butter snacks! 

Happy Birthday, Penelope Petunia! 

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Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I even had a running lists of the foods she didn't like so I could remember what foods I wouldn't like either. 

I wanted to be a big kid just like her, with homework and no recess and cool friends, too. I wanted to be smart like her and play volleyball just like her--turns out volleyball was not my calling even though she tried to teach me how to actually hit the ball, not eat it. 

She's got a quick wit, a wonderful sense of humor, and the best muppet impression by far. She's one of my biggest champions, the first to draw her sword when little sister is in trouble. She'll break out the pompoms when it's time to celebrate and she's got a signature dance move I bet she didn't know I've actually borrowed a time or two. 

Occasionally she steals my stuff but I take it to mean I've hit her status of cool, maybe. We share the same love for hot chocolate chip cookies and an appreciation for shared recipes. We still love a good musical and great sing-a-long and fortunately that's something my precious niece loves to do, too. She's made two awesome little people that I love more than anything and bestowed the honoring title of "Nannie" to me nearly five years ago. 

Even as an adult, I can still manage to be a little sister and no matter how much older we get, she's still my Big Sister and she'll always be there.

Happy birthday, Sarah!  

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating another year here! I love you very much! Or as Grandma would say it, je t'aime en bien beaucoup! Much inflection on the "bien"! 

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

To the guy who drove me to a million dance classes, carried my dance duffle bag, helped move props and took part in Dad/Daughter dances...

In true Texan form, Dad still wears his nice boots out of fancy occasions. 

In true Texan form, Dad still wears his nice boots out of fancy occasions. 

To the CPA who suffered with me through every math class and patiently listened while I re-created the entire accounting system in college (I still think I could make it SO much easier for folks)...

Here he is, patiently waiting for me to figure this accounting stuff out...the right way. 

Here he is, patiently waiting for me to figure this accounting stuff out...the right way. 

To the man who has helped paint closets, move furniture, mulch leaves, and love my pup...

Dad says, "There's no special bond here." 

Dad says, "There's no special bond here." 

I beg to differ! So would Penny. Just sayin'. (Poor quality picture--It was a sneaky photo documenting Dad's uber fondness for Penny.)

I beg to differ! So would Penny. Just sayin'. (Poor quality picture--It was a sneaky photo documenting Dad's uber fondness for Penny.)

To the dad who stands up for me, supports my dreams, answers every dumb tax question, and still comes to every show...

Dad cheesin' pretty hard. 

Dad cheesin' pretty hard. 

Happy Birthday! 

And awfully big thank you, too! I think you're pretty rad, Dad, and I hope you have an awesome day! I'm glad we get to celebrate another year of hot cups of coffee and you! 

Love you! 

Thanks, Dad, for doing all those Dad/Daughter dances and for relearning one for my wedding. It meant the world.   Photo by Apryl Ann Photography

Thanks, Dad, for doing all those Dad/Daughter dances and for relearning one for my wedding. It meant the world. 

Photo by Apryl Ann Photography

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Settling In

Tennis shoes in the living room, a pair of jeans on the back of a chair, a Dr. Pepper can by the sink, and a hat on the kitchen table. Normally these little droppings might bother me, but these days I'm just happy to see evidence that I've got my man back in the house. I don't think there's anything right now that could make me happier than seeing him settling back into our home.

He's all unpacked and taken over the "man cave" with books and papers and things. He's getting his own rhythm set for the semester and we've found a nice routine together, too. Every night we have dinner together with just enough time to watch one episode of "Narcos". After that, an early bedtime before we rise to do it all again.

I've said "together" more times than I really want to count, but let's be real for a second, being in the same place at the same time within inches of each other is something I've been waiting to happen for way too long. Indulge me a little here. I'm happy our long distance is so freaking over!

Sure, it sounds pretty simple and far less exciting than most. Right now, though, this is my little piece of heaven on earth.  I'll enjoy those little annoyances and our simple married routine for as long as possible because every time I missed him, I wished I had reminders around the house and simple dinners on couch with him.  

What says "home" to you? What makes it feel like your home is complete and your heart full and happy? 

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Best of 2016

I don't think you can roll over into a new season without looking back at the last. Birthdays, anniversaries, new years, so long as you can take a look back at where you came from, it's an opportunity to dream of new things as you move into the future. So without further ado...

2016 Top 12

1. January started with a bang (in so many ways) and a few shuffles. Gotta start the year on the right foot! 

2. February consisted of a lot of soul searching and reflection. 

3. March, show time and break time! Another Spring Show in the bag and thankful family got to come up! 

4. April, my newest nephew is born, Matthew Bryan! 

5. May, my favorite month! I celebrate my last birthday as a twenty-something! 

6. June, I opened "Fiddler on the Roof" at Garland Summer Musicals working with favorite mentors and so many new faces, too! 

7. July, I opened "Mary Poppins" for Rockwall Summer Musicals! It was my first time working with the theater and this time booked as the solo choreographer! Lovely people, great experience! 

8. August, back to school and I'm ready to tackle another semester. Plus, I invest in the best t-shirt of all time. 

9. September, a month of baking and a fun sister weekend with Sarah! 

10. October, I wrap up Choreography show and then take a trip to Eureka Springs with my man. In short, it was a perfect!

11. November, a bunch of women pile in the car for a road trip to Waco to check out Magnolia! Mom, Sarah, Aunt Diana and I get lots of great ideas, good cupcakes, and quality time together! 

12. December is all about Christmas show and finals, but I surely enjoyed family time including the Kacy Musgraves concert with Big Sister! 

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Honestly, looking back at all the pictures, I got to spend a great deal of time with family and I did quite a bit of traveling to see different folks. At the time, it seemed like a year of decisions, one after the next and I know by the end I felt tired, ready for a break from heavy discussions and complicated choices. 

Looking ahead to 2017, I feel like it'll be yet another year of change, as it almost always is. This time though, it feels more stable, more grounded than the last few New Years. I'm looking forward to that more than you can imagine! 

How did your 2016 turn out? What was your favorite memory?

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A Hunting We Will Go

It's the last free weekend Pyro Man and I have together before the holidays kick into high gear. He thought it might be fun to go on a hunting excursion together before we get busy with end of the year stuff. I've got a show, he's got shows, and then there's the holidays so a hunting we will go! 

I'm super excited to sit in the cold. Can't you tell? 

Actually, sitting in the stand with my man has it's perks. I get to spend time with him, share in his interests and occasionally annoy him by being too loud. Hunting is still a new world to me. I may have gone on my first hunt seven years ago, but I've only seen the tip of the ice berg. There's just so much more to learn, but I'm interested.

There's a lot more to hunting than just grabbing your gun and sitting in a stand. What's really cool is that Pyro Man wants to include me in it, too. 

I'm sure I'll get the hang of it all in time. I'm definitely much more comfortable in camo these days, a statement I never thought I'd ever say in my entire life. 

Thankful Thought #19

19. I'm thankful for long underwear on cold, cold mornings in the stand.  I'm not above flannel lined jeans either. Seriously, ain't no reason to sit and shiver if there are layers to be worn, stylish or not! 

What are you guys up to this weekend? 

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Love Him

Just a heads up, this one a little mushy...

Thankful Thought #11

11. I'm thankful for my husband. I really am. He can drive me crazy sometimes like when I can't get him to focus on one topic for long or when he gets so impassioned about something his ears turn off or when he leaves dishes in the sink. It's all part of his charm, really. Plus, I know I do some things that drive him nuts, too, and I'll be the first to admit that.

But what I love is that he really cares for me and my wellbeing and he does take time to listen and understand my concerns or points of view. He is a compassionate man who genuinely wants to help, who thinks beyond his own needs, just really selfless. He challenges me in so many ways but it pushes me to take a stance, have a stronger say and I feel more confident in my opinions and beliefs. 

He knows what to say when I need to hear it and he's always trying to crack a joke to keep it light. We balance each other out and I appreciate that we're both willing to learn more about the other's interest. I've sat in a stand and yeah, I've even gotten a spike--the truth is I've enjoyed being more of a outdoor girl with him. It's a whole new world! He equally will sit through shows, listen to my creative ideas, and even offer help. I think he legitimately thinks he can help my budding choreography students but dang if he doesn't actually nail it on the head! He's helped me design props and sets for my future shows and it makes me really happy to know he shares in my dreams.

We're a good fit and I don't think I could have dreamed up a better guy. He's everything I ever wanted and everything I never knew I needed. Today I'm just extremely grateful to have him by my side.  

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Magnolia

The first musical I was ever in was "Showboat" and I fell in love with it completely. How much more of a southern name can you get than Magnolia? PS, those flowers are gorgeous! I would love to have a magnolia tree in my backyard some day. But I'm not writing about about a flower or character today. No m'am sir! I'm talking about the Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas! 

My big sister came up with this brilliant plan to hop down to Waco for a day trip and see what all the excitement was about. A quick group text between Mom and our Aunt Diana and the whole thing was set! 

Dad saw us off with a big breakfast at Le Madeline (Thanks, Dad!)!. 

We all piled into my car and off we went! 

A short two hour drive and a trolley ride and we were there! I'll admit, I don't actually watch Fixer Upper--I'm afraid I'll dive down a demolition hole I won't be able to recovery from. All the ideas for redo's will be too much for my poor husband right now!  I've enjoyed reading about Joanna and Chip Gaines and I certainly liked their style.  Without being a huge fan of the show, I didn't know what to expect from this place but I figured it out pretty quick! 

We made it! Upon seeing this picture I'm starting to seriously consider getting a selfie stick...

We made it! Upon seeing this picture I'm starting to seriously consider getting a selfie stick...

Here's what to expect: people. Lots and lots of people! The lines inside the actual marketplace were long and it was wall to wall people. As soon as you saw something of interest, it was snatched up by a quickly moving shopper. Just when you thought said item was gone, a store clerk had already replaced it. The way that place operated was amazing! 

Of course the merchandise was incredible, farm house and rustic looking, very much the in style and one I like a lot. I kept wandering around taking it all in, trying to remember what I could do to improve my own home decor. 

We didn't really stick around long in the market place for too long. It's definitely not a spot you can linger and peruse for while; it's a hot spot with tons of folks wanting to make their purchases quickly. 

There were several food trucks that lined the inside of the marketplace with all sorts of decadent options including a small trailer for their bakery. Excellent cupcakes! 

We had a peanut butter chocolate cupcake and split the lemon lavender, a sweet surprise we all really enjoyed! 

The coolest part of this place is the giant lawn full of corn hole games, soccer balls and footballs, and even several swing sets. Kids were running around playing, men throwing footballs back and forth and everyone of all ages jumped on the swing sets. They had great big porch swings out where cute couples cozied up on and picnic tables with black and white stripped covers full of people savoring their lunches and treats. 

We took a tour through the garden, incredibly beautiful. Nature is already amazingly beautiful but what people can do and what they put together using gorgeous herbs and plants, I'm amazed all over again!  

Cutest little fairy gardens! 

Cutest little fairy gardens! 

It was such a fun experience and we all had a great time spending the day together in a cool hub. I'm sure some day I'll want to go back but I'm looking forward to the next adventure, Pioneer Woman's Mercantile store in Pawhuska, OK!

Overall, one awesome girls trip to Waco! Can't wait for the next one! 

Thankful Thought #10

10. I'm really glad that I'm just a drive away from family. I can hop in the car and spend a couple days with the people I love and get back home without much more than a traffic issue. Not many people live close enough to do that so I'm pretty thankful for that.  

Got a place you're dying to take a day trip to see? 

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Stitchin'

My mother is a wiz with the sewing machine. It's amazing what she's created and I've bragged on her skills here before. For my 23rd birthday she gifted me with my first sewing machine,

One of my most favorite birthdays ever! 

One of my most favorite birthdays ever! 

It took me a while - read: 2 years - before I actually figured out how to use the thing. My first project? A Halloween apron. It. Was. A. Struggle. But I made it through, finished the darn thing and proudly sported it, mistakes and all 

I made a series of Christmas aprons for close family and friends after that and ventured into making pajama pants for Pyro Man, flames of course, and a pair for me...that need some fixing. Still. 

It's try, try, try again process. Of course I don't always want to do something simple. I want to do things that have complicated patterns and patterns sometimes are about mirroring and flipping in the brain. That's what really gets me. I can perfect the skills on the machine (I think), but it's the brain games that get me all twisted up. 

This past spring I spent time looking at patterns--I have a small growing collection I need to seriously get started on...I found a kimono pattern I was dying to make. How hard can it be? Well, not that hard, but it took us a little bit...

 I even thought we'd turn it into a video so I tried documenting the process. 

The video didn't happen but I got this great moment of exploring camera work. Mom is CLEARLY fine with this whole video thing. PS--trying to film while creating a project makes it a project in a project. I'm learning just how much time it takes to do that and have even more respect for bloggers and their "simple" posting. Sheesh. This is hard stuff! 

In any case, we cut, pieced and got about half way through before we took about a 5 month hiatus. BUT we finally finished it and I'm so, so please with the result!

Could I have done it on my own? Maybe but it helps to have an expert there to cheer you on, answer questions, and help direct a new skill. This partner project certainly wouldn't have been complete without help from sewing extraordinaire, Mom! 

Of course it's a personal accomplishment to finish a project and feel good enough to wear it out in public. It doesn't hurt when people compliment the piece genuinely without realizing it's your own work! Kimono for the win! 

Thankful Thought #3

I'm grateful for a mother who is willing to teach me how to me new skills and pass on her knowledge of sewing! Can't forget that she's patient enough to stick it out after months on pause!  

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Little Piece of Home

I'm a total transplant here in OKC. I've really learned to love the city in the last ten years and I've seen it change and grow in some pretty awesome ways like seeing the Thunder come to OKC--boy, was that huge!--and seeing the small businesses just boom. You want a really cool place to eat or shop that's got some local flavor? It's here, baby, and it's all good! 

I love that it's a big city without being overwhelming. Sure, I grew up in the Dallas area, but I wasn't living downtown my whole life. Hello! Suburban kid much? Long ago my dream was to move to NYC and take up residence as another hopeful dancer hitting every audition I could find. It took me a couple of trips and a lot of soul searching to realize that was too big of a place for me and that dream just didn't fit the same any more.  

It's really interesting to find out things about yourself you never knew before (Yes, I did just end this sentence in a preposition. English Teacher Mother, please forgive.). For example, my lifelong desire to live a big, busy life suddenly showed me how much I wanted a steady, slower pace. That was a door in the face. Did NOT see that coming and truth  be told, I was a tad disappointed in myself that I couldn't "just do it," make the move and get comfortable with it. It's like my heart kept shouting out,  "this is not what you want! Just listen to me for a moment and quit trying to force it to happen!" So much racket in my head and an aching heart slowed my roll and gave me serious pause to consider what I really wanted and needed. 

To make a long story short, through a series of surprising and happy accidents, I ended up back in a city I did a lot of growing up in during college. And you know what? It turned out fine. In fact, it turned out to be what I really needed. Plans change, dreams do, too, and I think it's part of growing up, learning to be okay with that especially if you're like me, someone whose harbored a dream since childhood.

In recent days I've come to the realization that all my successes don't have to be in my twenties (Well, I just added thirties to that because that number is coming around the corner too soon!). I've got my whole life to make new dreams and see them through. I'm not too old--please, loving older adults in my life, don't laugh at that line. At one time I could not see what would happen in life after about 25 and I'm pretty far past that now so I have figured out, yes, life does go on past mid-twenties. I just had this idea that I had to have everything happen while I was young. Not really the case. Such a simple thought but resolving that in my head has been SUCH a struggle. 

Okay, back to the point of this post. I can't call myself an Okie yet--I just don't know that will ever happen. BUT, being in Oklahoma sure did make me proud of something I totally took for granted: being a Texan.

I love my home state. I'm pretty proud of it and I'm glad that's a part of who I am. I love my tall Texan man, his boots, accent, and easy going way. I love true Tex Mex, salsa goes on just about everything and how Texas is mentioned in almost every country song. How 'bout them Cowboys, y'all? I've learned more about whitetail deer and Texas hunting season than I ever thought I'd have to know. I love the bluebonnet fields in the spring and big blue skies in the summer. I love how massive the state really is and that you don't have to ask if people are from Texas. They'll just straight up tell you the moment they meet you. 

Best of all, I love that my family is all down there. I can move anywhere and it won't change the fact that when I say "home," I mean the Lone Star State. So I might be transplant whose big city dreams changed and dropped me in another panhandle state, but this girl will always have Texas in her heart. It's in my roots, part of my blood, and a definite part of who I am.

Now, I feel like I need to smoke a brisket, whip up a bowl of queso, and pop open a Shiner. Whose with me? 

Last trip home I stopped at  Nan Lee  in downtown McKinney and picked up this sweet sterling silver souvenir. I wear it as a reminder of home and keeping those I love close to my heart.  

Last trip home I stopped at Nan Lee in downtown McKinney and picked up this sweet sterling silver souvenir. I wear it as a reminder of home and keeping those I love close to my heart.  

Where are you from and why are you proud of your state? Got something that makes your heart go pitter pat for your home state? Share it! 

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