30 November 2012

fill in the blank friday

1. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is..." Buddy the Elf would say to "sing loud for all to hear," but that might not be the best way for me to spread a little holiday cheer.  I'm a big fan of sending Christmas cards -- be on the look out, mates!  They are finished and waiting to be put in the mail!

2. The holiday season is a time for traditions...old and new.  

3. When it comes to holiday decorating... I absolutely detest colored Christmas lights and those inflatable lawn ornament things.  Go ahead and call me Scrooge, but I like to keep it classy.  White lights, a wreath, and a little garland.  P.S.  Downtown Bloomington, Indiana has it going on in that department right now.  The square is beautiful!.

4. The thing I look forward to most about the holidays is finishing up my school work and heading home to rest, relaxation, and reading for fun.

5. My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas Eve at my grandparents'.  Or Christmas lasagna.  Or decorating the tree to the sweet sounds of our Bing Crosby album on the record player.  It's a toss up!

6. This year my Christmas plans include Christmas Eve at my grandparents', candlelight service at church, breakfast with the family on Christmas morning, that lasagna for lunch -- the usual!  Oh, and probably watching a lot of cheesy Hallmark Channel movies with my mom.

7. My favorite holiday food is does pumpkin pie count?  Roasted almonds are up there too.  

Have a great weekend, y'all!
Much love,

26 November 2012

Perpetually One of the Boys...

A few weeks ago, I got serious about something I had been struggling with -- faith and politics.  A series of events brought me to where I am today, getting serious once again.  This time its completely unrelated to politics.  It's my struggle with always being one of the boys.  It's about my (sometimes) blind ambition and refusal to compromise who I am/want to be due to a guy.  So buckle up, mates.  I'm getting serious again.

I was a tomboy growing up.  I liked Hot Wheels cars, would rather play sports than dolls, and I thought cuts and bruises were cool.  I liked to ramp my bike and trade basketball cards with the boys.  I even wore boys' clothes a lot of the time.  For the most part, I got away with this when I was younger, but I remember when I started junior high I realized that things had to change.  If I wanted to be "popular" or have a boyfriend, I was going to have to change some things.  Yesterday, I thought back to those days.  The days when every girl was boy crazy.  To an extent, I was too.  But I struggled because boys didn't like me...

...because I was one of them.  For as long as I can remember I have had more male friends than female ones.  And for the most part, I have always been okay with that.  Basketball and sports in general were my portal into their world.  I knew (or maybe know is a better word) all the latest sports news.  I can throw a spiral, shoot a reverse layup, or dive for a fly ball.  I can talk about defensive lines, pass routes, run games, setting screens, and runs batted in with the best of them.  What guy wouldn't want that, right?  Apparently not very many.

When I went off to college, I began to identify myself as a feminist.  To an extent, I think I probably always was, but I am so thankful for my Women's Studies class.  I learned that there was nothing wrong with me.  Being a tomboy wasn't bad.  Or wrong.  That part of my life helped shape me into the strong woman that I believe myself to be today.  Without really knowing it, I had already realized that I could do anything the boys could do.  I had already learned that my dreams were just as important.  Today, I have a greater awareness of that.  Moreover, I have a greater appreciation for the women who worked so tirelessly so I could realize my full potential. And again, I am so thankful for my family who loved and supported me, even though I know they couldn't have been thrilled about their little girl wanting to shop in the boys' clothes.  I'm thankful that they let me grow into my own person.  Because for what might be the first time, I can say that I am proud of myself and the decisions I have made.

Last night, a relationship ended because I have made the decision to leave my hometown.  Because I need to strike out on my own and see what I can make of myself in this world.  Because I need to be my own person.  I need to make myself happy.  I need to do something for me.  Because I can't follow a boy.  And luckily for me, it was the boy who reminded me of this.

It's an empowering feeling.  But it's a scary one too.  And knowing that you're doing something good, doesn't always make it easy.  It doesn't always make you feel better.  You still shed some tears.  Maybe even more so.  There's one question that always lingers at the back of my mind -- will my ambition leave me with nothing but my career in the end?  It's days like today, that I wish Hillary Clinton was my fairy godmother.  What I would give to be able to ask for her advice.  What would she tell me?  There's this brilliant quote from HRC about how she knew Bill Clinton was the one because he wasn't afraid of her.  In talking with a friend today, we both said, "That's me!  I need to find that man."  Well...maybe not exactly that man, but you get the point (See, told you I can't be serious for very long).

So in the end, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm proud to be one of the boys.  And men shouldn't be intimidated by women like that.   

14 November 2012

Hope's Political Crushes

So to get in the spirit of Joe Biden's appearance on Parks and Rec tomorrow night, I thought I would share my top political crushes with y'all.  Yeah, yeah.  Most people have celebrity crushes -- not this kid.  So without further ado...

#7 -- A Young President Gerald Rudolph Ford (R-MI)
I think it's the football thing.  Yep, that's definitely it.

#6 -- Congressman Aaron Jon Schock (R-IL)
Politics aside, I'll give my boy from the Fightin' 18th some love!  I mean look at him (and all those books!  He gave me a Snicker bar once...

#5 --  Vice President Joseph Robinette Biden (D-DE)
 Just like Leslie Knope, I have a thing for Joe Biden.  It's his smile and the way his eyes crinkle.  It gets me every time.  But in all seriousness, I view Biden as one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th (and 21st too) century and one of the foremost authorities on foreign policy.  He might be a little colorful at times, but that's what makes him so loveable!

#4  -- President Barack Hussein Obama (D-IL)
Sexy.  For so many reasons.  But I think the biggest reason for me is that I truly believe he is a good husband and a good father.  I'm proud to call him a "son of Illinois"...even if he is a Sox fan.  And the man plays basketball!  Need I say more?  I am also proud to admit that I have had an I Heart Barack Obama shirt since my senior year of high school

#3 --  Senator Robert Francis Kennedy (D-MA)
I'm not really sure what to say about RFK.  Other than that I love him.  Passionate.  Tenacious.  Loyal.  Those are all pretty attractive qualities, I'd say.  And then there's his work on civil rights and civil liberties.  'Nuff said.

#2 --  President William Jefferson Clinton (D-AR)
Okay, y'all -- we're getting into pretty serious territory.  Say what you might about Bill Clinton, but my adoration for him hasn't faded.  Or maybe it did, but it has definitely resurfaced.  Putting his personal life/past aside, I find him fascinating.  Endlessly charming and charismatic.  And that Southern drawl...does it get any better than that?  His speech at the DNC this year was phenomenal and he continues to do amazing work with the Clinton Global Initiative.  Plus, he managed to marry Hillary Clinton.  She's a smart lady -- if she sees something good in him, then it must be true!

#1 -- Senator Birch Evans Bayh, Jr. (D-IN)
As if you didn't already know who my number 1 would be.  I have a huge crush on Birch Bayh circa 1972 or so.  Equal Rights Amendment, 18 year old vote, Title IX.  I could go on.  It's pretty much my dream to meet him.  And it's a dream that actually has a possibility of coming true.  Hopefully it does!

13 November 2012

Tuesday Tune-Day: Billy Joel Strikes Again

In case you're just tuning in, the theme of my semester has been happiness (I'll be even happier if I win that vintage Billy Joel vinyl I'm bidding on on eBay right now).  Happiness that just seems to multiply with each passing day.  And this song pretty much encapsulates that happiness.  In every sense of the word (and lyrics).  I've been singing it constantly.  Can't get it out of my head.  And I'm okay with that.  So sit back and enjoy a classic!

P.S.  Be on the look out for tomorrow's post where I will chronicle my top political crushes.  You definitely won't want to miss that...

12 November 2012

Playing Catch-Up

...not to be confused with ketchup (or catsup if you're weird and spell it that way), which I hate.  If you're close to me you know that I absolutely loathe that red condiment.  Like I struggle to watch you eat it kind of hatred.  But I digress...I've been blogging this semester about how much fun I've been having.  I realized today that I've been having even more fun than I have shared with y'all so here are some scenes from the past month or so!

 In October I journeyed back to my beloved alma mater and caught up with wonderful friends.
 And this one, who I am so glad to have met at marching band camp and to have had sitting next to me every day in ILA.  They all called me Mom back then.  She still does.  I'm so glad we ran into each other!
 The next night it was off to my 5 year high school reunion.  My best friend (since we were 4!) Maggie did an amazing job of putting everything together for us!  It was great to see everyone again!
 I haven't changed that much have I?  The hair has definitely improved.  In fact, I have oddly been receiving a lot of compliments about it lately.  Who knew that all I had to do was to let it go?
 The next weekend I was back in Illinois yet again.  This time I traveled north to Chicago (and saw way more of the Chicagoland area than I ever wanted in the process) to hang out with my sister and watch the U.S. Women's Soccer team take on Germany.  The above photo displays how serious we are about tailgating.  Serious about Dunkin' Donuts, that is.
 After watching the team practice the day before, I didn't think it could get any better.  But check out our incredible seats!
 And I got to see Abby Wambach score a goal right in front of me!  Incredible!
 I usually don't get into Halloween...at all.  But this year, I was persuaded by these lovely ladies to attend the HGSA Halloween party.  I channeled my inner-baller and went as a former version of myself.  Sweet kicks and all.
Then the day I'd been waiting for finally arrived.  And I was seriously FIRED UP!  Enough so, that I spent my afternoon baking donkey and elephant cookies.  I'll spare you the photos since I can't frost a cookie to save my life (in my defense, I hate icing so I have trouble rationalizing spending a lot of time on it).
 Just when I thought I couldn't possibly have any more fun...I got to go to my first IU men's basketball game.  Thanks to a great friend!  I've never experienced anything quite like it!  I now know why Assembly Hall is one of the most difficult places to play.
We're ranked #1 in the country, y'all!  I might have to get myself a pair of those candy-striped pants after all!

Wow that's a lot of photos!  My bad, y'all.  But here's to having more fun!

Much love,

05 November 2012

Getting Serious On Election Day Eve

Divided we fail, y'all.
Most of the time, I try to keep things light and fun with this blog.  But today, on the eve of the election, I feel the need to step up on my soap box.  To speak my mind.  To say my piece.  To share my thoughts about something I've been struggling with during this contentious campaign season.  So here goes.  My thoughts on faith and politics.

So many times during this election, I have been told things like, "You can't be a Christian and a Democrat," "Christians don't vote for Obama," or "How can you reconcile your faith with your political views?"  And here's my answer:  I don't have to reconcile my faith with my politics.  Vice President Joe Biden said it best in his most recent debate, "My religion defines who I am."  So for me, it informs every decision I make.  Biden went on to say, "I just refuse to impose that upon others..."*  And I agree.  I'm not saying that I am against evangelism or missions, but I am saying that I don't think that the federal government has the right to privilege one religion over another.  That's the bedrock of our country's existence.  That's why we exist as a nation.  Believing this doesn't make me any less of a Christian.  It doesn't mean that I think there is more than one way to Heaven.  It just makes me tolerant.  And if tolerance is my only crime, I will gladly plead guilty. 

I believe in loving all people...no matter what.  I believe in helping others and in putting them before myself.  I believe in forgiveness and mercy.  These are things I learned as kid in Sunday School.  And these are the things that make me who I am.  And inform my beliefs when it comes to government.  I make an attempt to support candidates who believe these things as well.

That's how my faith informs my politics.  I appreciate that my family has let me form my own opinions and that they respect them.  I like to think that I have made informed decisions and thought enough about the issues to do so.  I just wish other people could respect that.

So here's my call to you -- respect other people's opinions.  Don't tell them who they should vote for.  Let them make their own decisions.  Let them form their own opinions.  Do your homework.  Research all the candidates, regardless of party.  Attempt to find unbiased media sources.  Vote tomorrow.  And be kind to one another.  Divided we fail.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, it's time to prepare some awesome Election Day cookies!**

*Quotes from Biden's remarks are from Reuters.
** Clearly, I can't be serious for very long!

02 November 2012

fill in the blank friday

1.  Something I swore I'd never do, but have ended up doing anyway is    get my masters degree.  And I'm getting two of them.  I always thought that I would be a four years and done kind of girl, but I'm so glad that I'm doing this   .
2.  Something I've always wanted to do is  backpack across Europe.  Or Asia.  Or Africa.  Basically I just want to go travel   .
3.  Something I have absolutely no desire to ever do is   go rock/mountain climbing.  Or drive a race car.  No thank you.  .

4. The best thing I ever did was   hmmm...that's a toughie.  I feel like this is the question one usually answers with marry my husband or raise my child, but since I haven't done that yet, I'm not really sure.  I would probably say spend a semester in Washington, DC.  I learned a lot about myself and gained the confidence that I need to make it in graduate school.  And I met some incredible people and had a lot of fun too.  .
5. When it comes to trying new things, I am  not a big fan.  I like my routines.  .

6. One thing I've never done is  any kind of drugs.  Not even a cigarette.  .

7.  My favorite thing to do is  snuggle up with a good book and cup of coffee  .