Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In which I am a feminist now, I guess?

People say some dumb things.

On a cruise I went on last year with some bloggers I hadn't met in person before, a blog-friend who had followed me on Twitter for a while was telling another lady in the group that I'm really funny on Twitter.

"Really?" the lady gasped. "I would have never expected that from talking to you."

Um. Thanks. I'm surprising that way, I guess. Totally dull in person but hey look! I have clever thoughts 140 characters at a time.

When Jack took me to get a pedicure last weekend for my birthday, the lady who was doing my toes asked how old I was.

"25," I answered.

"Oh, you have baby?" she asked.

"No, no babies yet," I answered. "We're waiting a while." What I didn't say was that I just had 250 babies in the form of a taekwondo school purchase.

The lady looked at me shook her head, "tsk"ing a little as she did it.

"You need to have baby soon," she scolded. "You wait too long to have baby, it not healthy."

Really, lady who is filing dead skin off my feet? I didn't realize you were also an OB/GYN. Are you going to give me my pelvic exam after this, because if so, that $30 price tag on this pedicure/PAP Smear is quite a steal.

Maybe she thought I said 55 instead of 25.

Either way, she was an idiot.

There are some things you just don't say to strangers (or acquaintances or, well, friends and family), things that range from "your butt looks huge" or "you're much too skinny" to "you wait too long to have baby, it not healthy."

Most of the time, they are well-meaning. Many of our friends informed us that, since Jack won world champion, got his 6th degree, and bought a karate school, it was time for us to have a baby now. As if the "what's next for the Hornbuckles" timeline was up to them.

There are people who, upon learning that Jack is a taekwondo instructor, ask "Oh, and what do you do for a real job?"

Most of the time when I have good news to share, I am deflated from an excited "Oh! Are you pregnant!?" and when I respond "no" and tell them my real good news, they're kind of disappointed, like what I actually accomplished is a consolation prize.

These are statements which deserve an eye-roll at the very least, and the one thing that is becoming very clear to me is that it's not going to stop anytime soon.

I have heard of friends who adopted who have been asked whether they have any "real" children as well, and friends who have lost children who are "consoled" with the awful statement "at least you can have another baby." Pregnant friends of mine have been chastised for having the wrong due date, and friends with serious reproductive issues have been told that maybe they should just "relax and have fun trying."

We live in an infuriating world, but again, these idiotic statements usually come from unsuspecting (and yeah, probably kind of dumb) people who are just trying to say the right thing.

So here we are, having dumb things said to us and probably saying all kinds of dumb things to others. And I'm not sure I have a great solution to this other than...

We need to get over ourselves.

Pregnant women of the world: you are huge. When people tell you that you are huge, laugh. Because it's true. And because you will not always be huge.

Breastfeeding moms: don't worry if formula companies send you samples. Just throw them away if you don't want them. It's their job to market to you. It's your job to do what you think is best for your kid.

Formula-feeding moms: ignore the lactivists who are trying to make you feel guilty for the way you're feeding your kid. Millions of formula-fed kids are fine and yours will be too.

Divorcees, homosexuals, people who say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," people who eat tapioca pudding, Tea Party members, and "Real Housewives" fans: people are going to judge you based on how they think your life should go, but what it really comes down to is that it's none of their business and quite frankly not their place to judge you. (Unless you fall into the "people who eat tapioca pudding" category, in which case, you should be judged and judged HARD).

And I? Will realize that just because everybody else thinks I need to procreate RIGHT NOW to be successful doesn't mean that it's true.

When I expressed annoyance about somebody cheating in Jack's industry to get where he is, he just shrugged.

"Just because they're cheating to get where I am doesn't make what I did any less valuable."

He is wise, that one.

And that statement is true for him, and true for me too. Even if people say things that make me feel like they're cheapening my accomplishments, they can't.

I still created a non-profit organization. I still raised thousands of dollars for MS and led a BikeMS team and coordinated everybody in it. I still rocked hard at my job and received glowing reviews each year for my performance. I still learned how to design stuff and made it a pretty successful business with which I can help others. I still do a ton of work for my husband's business to help make that successful too. I still keep my house clean, my dog fed, and my husband happy.

I did a lot of somethings in the last 25 years, and I'll do many more somethings even if I wait another 25.

Even if you don't think so.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I love you this much pickle

I don't usually have them scrapped before I write them, but this time, it looks like I do.

Image is clickable to be bigger and you can find the kit I used for this page here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time to start praying

I put it all back today.

One month and five days. That's how long our pantry was empty. But I haven't seen moths for a week now,* after having thrown out almost all our food and then scrubbed, vacuumed, caulked, and even sprayed POISON all over my pantry.

So today I put it back.

And as it turns out, there's not a lot of food left that I didn't throw out.

It used to look like this, you know:

And after The Great Moth Infestation of 2011, I may have lost my faith in couponing to stockpile food.

But now, even though we might have empty shelves, we still have more in our pantry than most of the world does.

And it's even organized.

So I'm not complaining.

Unless they come back. Then we're definitely moving.



Friday, March 25, 2011

Five minute Friday - Waking up

Sara keeps doing these Five-Minute Friday blog posts for her friend's blog carnival, and since five minutes is just about all I have these days, I guess I'll give this thing a shot. Five minutes (we'll see). No editing (Again, WE'LL SEE).

This week's topic: On waking up


Every night, the routine is pretty much the same. I cook dinner, Jack comes home late, we eat dinner, we talk, we watch TV, and then, to Jack's dismay, I fall asleep on the couch.

Every time he sees me lay down on the couch or snuggle a little deeper into the blanket I'm under, he starts his plea.

"Why don't you go to bed, sweetie?" he asks.

"No," I respond sleepily, "I'm watching this show."

"Oh please, Mandy," he says "it's so hard to get you up when you fall asleep."

"I won't fall asleep," I say.

He sighs, sometimes continuing to try to convince me to move to our room, and sometimes just letting it go. And as he predicts, I fall asleep, nearly every time. And then a few hours later, he begins The Process Of Trying To Wake Mandy Up.

This is not his favorite moment. You see, I'm not an easy person to wake. We've had entire fights that I've slept through, and you can forget about getting up without 5 hits of the snooze button for me.

It's not that I don't want to get up right away; it's just that I just can't physically wake up without a LOT of prep work.

This was actually one of the topics Jack brought up in premarital counseling - he knew I used several alarms (it was up to five at one point!) to get up in the morning, and he was concerned about how that would affect his sleep.

I'm down to two now, but I still hit snooze a few more times than he'd like in the morning. Poor guy.

But the evening, when he's finally ready to go to bed - he begs, pleads, and implores that I get up from the couch and go to bed with him each night. At least, that's what he tells me - I usually don't remember any of it. And when he does tell me that, I feel bad for being such a pain and I tell him to leave me there if I'm being difficult.

But he never does.

I guess he likes having me wake up next to him in the morning.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, that's true

Me, as Jack and I are listening to one of his friends sing in an online recording: "She's pretty good."

Jack: "Yeah, she's okay."

Me: "Well, she's certainly better than us."

Jack: "Well, if we're trying to figure out if a singer is better than us to determine whether they're good, then there are a lot of good singers out there."

And then we laughed until we cried

We were watching TV tonight and a commercial for that new movie "Hop" came on, and the bunny in the preview introduced himself excitedly: "I'm the Easter bunny!"

I looked over at Jack playfully.

"I'm the Easter bunny!" I announced.

"You're not the Easter bunny," he responded, without looking up.

I feigned hurt feelings.

"What do you mean I'm not the Easter bunny?" I whined in return. "I am the Easter bunny!"

"If you're the Easter bunny," Jack replied, "then I want to see you hippity hop."

"You want to see me what?" I asked, indignantly.

"Hippity hop," he replied, casually. "The Easter bunny can hippity hop. That's how you know it's the Easter bunny. And I don't think you can hippity hop."

I gave him a cold stare.

"You know," I began, slowly, "we've been through a lot together. We've had some good times, and we've had some bad times."

I began crescendoing my voice dramatically.

"And during all of the things we've been through, I thought we were building a foundation of trust in this marriage."

I began making grand gestures with my arms.

"But if you need to see a hippity hop from me to believe that I'm the Easter bunny," I bellowed, "then maybe we don't have the foundation of trust in this marriage that I thought we did!!"

Jack watched the whole speech silently, and as soon as I finished, he sprang to life with equal theatricality and volume.

"If our marriage had been built on this foundation of trust you speak of," he roared back, "then I would have already known you were the Easter bunny by now!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


How many years of marriage do you have to have under your belt before you feel wise? Because today, I have three, and I don't feel very wise. In fact, I may even feel a little less wise than I once did.

What I do feel, however, is blessed. Like, blessed beyond recognition. This guy I married, the karate guy? Is the jackpot of husbands.

He's smart. He's funny. He's just dorky enough to where he finds me hilarious but not so dorky that he embarrasses me in public. He knows how to dress well. He always smells good. He likes shopping with me. He's annoyingly good with money. He's a really good communicator. He has more integrity than most men I know.

Like I said. Jackpot.

I thought it was interesting that this week's 5 minute Friday topic was "on waiting." (I, of course, did not participate, because I do not know how to be brief or unedited). Looking back, "waiting" has been quite a substantial theme in our relationship.

We had to wait to be allowed to date because of our age difference. We had to wait to see each other when I was away at college. We had to wait until I had almost finished school to get engaged. We had to wait for marriage for, well, you know.

More recently, we found ourselves waiting to purchase the business, longer than we ever thought we would have to. And now that we have it, we're waiting to pay it off, waiting for Jack to achieve Mastership, and then waiting for whatever's next in our lives.

But even in the midst of all this waiting, we have found ourselves living. There was a time when I counted the days until things, obsessed with calendars because they told me when my life would start to happen; now I find myself barely looking at them at all (which may be why I forget so many appointments).

We will always be waiting on something to happen in our life, and sometimes that can suck, but the waiting is not what this marriage is about.

No, this marriage is about laughing until we cry, about budgeting and saving, about talking late into the night and hard work and cheap dinners in and hard lessons and sticky notes on the outside of the shower and working through tough stuff together and helping each other with the chores and making each other better each day.

And even if I don't know what I'm doing, I do know that it works - that it's good.

My life is here, with him, content, and I certainly don't need to wait to enjoy that.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


My life has been a disaster lately.

I said that to my mother-in-law this weekend, and she gave me a concerned look.

"Your whole life is a disaster?" she asked.

"Yes. My whole life." I replied, and then began listing my evidence.

BikeMS planning is in full swing and I can barely keep up with my inbox. Plus it's MS Awareness week so I'm doing some fundraisers for that. I have blogs and websites backed up to design. Laundry? Hasn't been done in weeks. I was literally out of underpants on Friday and considered just going and buying more. I don't really remember the last time I wrote an "actual" blog post. Our third anniversary is Tuesday and I had no idea about it until Facebook told me the other day (thank you, Facebook!) And most importantly, my house is a disaster.

And when my house is a disaster, my life is a disaster. There is no relaxing. There is no thinking about anything else. Whatever I'm doing, I know my house isn't in order.

I have The Crazy.

I'm not saying I'm some insane neat freak; our house is lived-in and comfortable. But there's only so much clutter this girl can take.

(The moths are winning.)

So I was looking forward to the weekend. That's what got me through the week - I will get my house in order this weekend, and then everything else will fall into place.

And then Jack's grandmother had to get a pacemaker put in, so we needed to go visit his family in East Texas. It was a no-brainer, and we were so, so glad to go.

But to be honest, I kind of panicked. I didn't even have any underpants to pack, after all.

I washed a load of clothes and quickly packed, and we headed out Friday morning. On the way there, Jack said approximately 720,381 words, most of which were about taekwondo. I sat there, listening to him chattering away, thankful for the forced time alone together. We haven't seen a lot of that in the last two months.

I can't even express how much, but he is so happy in his new role as school owner. It occurred to me while he was talking about everything he learned at the workouts in Vegas and how excited he was to get out there and teach again last week that he almost threw in the towel just over a year ago - he was about to update his resume and move on because it just didn't look like it was going to happen for him.

I just can't see him being this happy doing anything else. God certainly knows what he's doing, hmm?

Anyway, the weekend was lovely in every way. Jack's grandmother is doing much better, the weather was lovely, and we spent a good amount of time sitting on the porch in the woods, drinking a cold beverage and enjoying the company and the breeze.

And then today, we left early this morning, got home, and just went crazy cleaning. The clutter. Gone. The dishes. Gone. The food in the plastic boxes in the game room? Are still there. Because I still don't trust the pantry.

But the laundry? It's all done. Everything washed, dried, and hung up. If you know me at all, you know this is not something that happens often.

I even cleaned my office out. Which, again, if you know me, you know it's not something that happens often.

As a point of reference, this is what my office has looked like in the past (not from today - thank goodness it hasn't been this bad in a long time, but still. Goodness.)

And now, the floor is clear. Whew. And the laundry is hung up. Whew. And the dishes are done. Whew. And the living room and our room are fairly clutter-free. WHEW.

And my life can start go back to normal now. Hopefully.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We need more sleep.

Today Jack went to Target to return an iPod he had bought this weekend for the taekwondo school. The model he got wasn't correct, so he wanted to exchange it for one that would work with the remote control.

"Can I help you?" the lady at the front counter said.

"Yes, I need to return this," Jack said, and handed her the iPod.

"Alright, sir, do you have your receipt?" she asked. He handed that to her as well.

"Um, sir?" she said, staring at the receipt, "You can't return this here."

Jack furrowed his brow.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because this is a receipt for Best Buy," she replied.

Evidently, they don't take things back at Target that you bought at Best Buy.

So much for a great return policy.


Later, I was telling Jack about the pork loin I had put in the oven that morning.

"I'm kind of concerned it won't cook since it was still a little frozen this morning," I said.

"Did you put it in the living room?" he asked, absent-mindedly.

I stared at him for a moment, and he stared back, waiting for my answer.

"Did I... put it in the living room?" I repeated. Jack burst into laughter as I continued. "No, honey, I didn't put the pork loin in the living room. I put it in the kitchen. In the oven in the kitchen."

Jack was still laughing. "I meant the crock pot," he said. "I don't know why I said living room."

We laughed for a while, but really, it's not a far jump to wonder whether the food is in the living room, since our game room still pretty much looks like this:

And moths are still hanging out in our empty pantry.

I think it's probably just time to move.

At least all the food's already packed up.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm aware of MS now.

Today is the day. MS Awareness week starts today!!

About two weeks ago, one of the lovely ladies at the MS Society forwarded me an e-mail from a local news-type show that wanted a member of BikeMS to represent the event in an interview with one of their staffers.

And for some reason that I completely do not understand, they chose me.

Soon after I arrived and sat down for this interview, I realized that my home was behind the camera. Not in front of it. I am terribly awkward in life. I cannot speak without stuttering. I evidently do not have the ability to sit up straight, and for some reason I am also completely unable to move hair out of my face while cameras are on. Even if it's driving me crazy.

Anyway, it aired super-early in the morning, so in my world, it didn't really happen.

Except that it was on the internet machine as well.


Sigh. Cringe. Oh, whatever. It is what it is. Yay, MS Society.

That's not the exciting part of MS Awareness week, though.

For the last few weeks, bunches of digital scrapbook designers have been working on a really amazing thing together - I emailed and posted on a forum with a color palette and a theme, and wouldn't you know it, these incredible women got together and created something beautiful for me, and for Multiple Sclerosis.

Isn't she beautiful? I have been staring at this preview since the kit was finished. And you guys, it's HE-YOUGE. Almost 200 papers. More than 400 elements. And 3 alphas on top of that.

I'm blown away.

(And! There are a set of about 50 quick pages/templates being uploaded and coming soon to be sold separately starting tomorrow!!)

And best of all? 100% of the sales of this go to my BikeMS ride, which is all MS Society.

Is anybody else excited??

You can buy this kit at And you can tell everyone you know that they can also buy this kit at Blog about it. Tweet about it. Share the link on Facebook. Send a carrier pigeon or those crazy owls from Harry Potter. Buy a megaphone and yell the URL at people on the street as they pass by. Get the word out!

You know, if you want to. Please. Please please please.

Here are the designers who contributed and and who I would therefore kiss if I met them. If they were into that kind of thing:

AKay Designs
Benthai Creations
Black Rose Digitals
Creations by Rachael
Designs by Angel
Down This Road Designs
Hornbuckle Designs
Jacabean Designs
Jen C Designs
JennCk Designs
Julie Marie Designs
JusMe Digital
Kimeric Kreations
Mama Llama Designs
Ocean Wide Designs
One of a Kind Design Studio
Piccolina Designs
Polka Dot Chicks
Pretty in Green
Rhonda Sunflower Designs
Rumki Designs
Scrapping All The Way
Scrappy Cocoa
Shmooangel Designs
Starving Artist Designs
Sus Designs
Tracy King
Unforgettable Moments
Z Pink Boudoir Designs

I can't thank you ladies enough.

Please, shop at all of their stores immediately. Right after you buy the Movement kit they made. Because, you know, that's kind of what I was getting at with this post, after all.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Introspective and profound

People write something introspective and profound on their birthdays, right? Like, how 10 years ago, they did or didn't think this is what their lives would look like when they turned 25?

I have no such profound things to say. Life is good and busy and difficult and fun all at the same time, and it doesn't really matter what I thought 25 was going to look like 10 years ago. I can say that I had no idea I would sort-of own a business by the time I was 25.  Or an iPhone.


Oh, young Mandy, I'm sorry for supporting your nemesis, Apple. I promise, you and I can still be friends. I'm only buying PCs at home, see?

Anyway, so yeah. I know nothing introspective or profound about my 25th birthday.

What I do know about my 25th birthday, though, is that it's a really good opportunity to shamelessly beg for donations for my BikeMS ride.

Give me a birthday present. Cure MS.

(Or, if you're a fan of MS and would rather it didn't get cured, you should know that they'll give me a free jersey for next year's ride if I raise lots. And maybe even some socks or something. That's probably more important than curing the disease anyway.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I feel like my 700th post should be more focused

  • I think I've started six blog posts in the last two weeks. I don't know why I can't seem to finish them. Maybe I can finish one if I use bullet points.

  • I keep buying uncomfortable dress shoes. It doesn't matter if they're expensive or cheap. They're always uncomfortable if they have a heel. Flats? No problem. Heel? Bad. However, I'm finding that they get a little better if they sit around for a while. I have these cute little peep-toe black cork heels, which I bought last year, discovered that they hurt, and then left them in a closet. This season, I put them back on, and viola! They're not so bad after all! And then today, I put on some brown shoes that I thought would make me chew my foot right off, but this time, they didn't!

  • The only explanation for this is that Jack has been wearing my shoes when I'm not around, which breaks them in and makes them less painful.

  • I'm totally okay with that if it means I can wear shoes without sobbing.

  • Speaking of men in high heels, there was a national taekwondo tournament in Vegas last weekend! Jack competed (1st in weapons, 2nd in forms!), did a video interview, climbed a mountain, and worked out until he wished he was dead. It's all a part of his Mastership training. He's really loving it.

  • I didn't go with him. Instead, I stayed here and took a break from marriage. My friend Eric said that sounds like I was cheating on Jack. I think it sounds like I wasn't cooking dinner or cleaning up after anybody. Either way, it was awesome.

  • I know it makes me a bad wife that I completely enjoyed my alone time, but I have to be honest, the break couldn't have come at a better time. I slept. I cleaned. I recharged. I witnessed an epidural.

  • So, our friend Greg went to the same tournament Jack went to in Vegas. And about the minute he landed, his very pregnant wife Misty started having contractions. They didn't stop, so Greg hopped back on a plane and walked in the door exactly 12 minutes before his daughter was born. He didn't get to compete after all, but I have a feeling he didn't mind that too much. It was quite an exciting experience. It was pretty cool to be there the whole time.

  • Meet Kaitlin Nicole. She does not enjoy being held up naked and photographed. (I can't say as I blame her for that).

  • She does being wrapped up all tight and burrito-like and being rocked for 6 hours straight. That is how I spent my Saturday. It was all kinds of fabulous.

  • I like to pretend they named her after me, since my middle name is also Nicole.

  • They are nice to let me believe that.

  • Oh man, did I have an awesome day today. I went to bed early, got to work before anybody was there (three cheers for a quiet office!), and then at 3 p.m., I went to Starbucks with my friend Debbie, where my phone alerted me about a meeting that I needed to be at in 15 minutes with some people from Hewlett Packard about our BikeMS team's funding. We basically sprinted back to the office, where I called in to the meeting. The guy walked into the room and said "okay, I've got the approval for the sponsorship; how do we deliver this to the team?"
  • And then I died.
  • Have I mentioned I have been completely overwhelmed by the fact that I was leading an unsponsored team for the last 5 months?

  • I am no longer leading an unsponsored team. In fact, HP was extremely generous, covering jerseys, tent, food, decorations, drinks, and even a $10,000 donation to the MS Society on our behalf.

  • (Squee.)


  • And speaking of printers? My parents gave me a Silhouette SD for an early birthday gift. OH MY COW OH MY COW OH MY COW. You can create your own custom dies in Photoshop (or buy them from their store if you'd like) and it cuts them super fast. On paper! Or cardstock! Or vinyl! Or FABRIC! AND IT ALSO SKETCHES IF YOU HAVE THE SPECIAL PENS MY GOODNESS MY HEAD MIGHT EXPLODE!

  • There's really no good way to end a bullet-pointed post like this. So to recap: a potentially cross-dressing husband, delightful alone-time, tiny people entering the world, the ownership of fancy new scrapbooking tools, and a BikeMS Sponsorship: LIFE IS REALLY, REALLY GOOD.