Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A What?

 Twice this past weekend I was accused of becoming a hipster.

Excuse me - a what?

Okay, I know what a hipster generally refers to, but I have always primarily associated it with guys who wore jeans that looked like they were painted on and could fit into Urban Outfitters ads. I am neither.

The first comment was made after I wore a pair of jeans with stiching on the outside. Granted, I got those in Minnesota where there are alot of people who only eat organic germ-wheat toast and ride bicylces everywhere, but still....

The second comment was made after a friend asked me what Brandon and I had spent the day doing. I replied that we had checked out a couple of new (to us) used bookstores in the area and then hung out at Barnes and Noble drinking coffee and comparing houses/designs from different architecture books and magazines. Granted, this makes us sound completely nerdy - which we will totally admit to, we are two lawyers (or lawyers-to-be) after all, but I've never thought of it as something that would define me as a "hipster."

Book Heaven

So I turned to my handy-dandy internet guide for some more clarification --> urban dictionary.

Although crass at times, this wonderful site has helped me understand many nuances others tend to throw around without embarassing myself.

And so, courtesy of urban dictionary, a hipster is: "...a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter." (the definition then continued to describe the type of fashion style associated with "hipsters" which incredible included the ridiculously tight pants and urban outfitters reference I made earlier :))

Interestingly, when I broke down this definition I would consider myself falling into more of the catagories listed than not:

1. Woman in her 20's - check

2. Values independent thinking - as opposed to non-indpendent thinking? Like having others make decisions for me? I guess I've always just considered "independent thinking" to coincide with "maturity." Although given that there seems to be an epidemic of I-don't-want-to-grow-up-and-would-rather-just-party-till-I'm-30 going on among my peers maybe this isn't as much of a generic behavior as I thought it was...

3. Counter-culture - I'm all about being counter-cultural, but mainly because I have alot of problems with the way mainstream culture embraces attitudes and actions that can easily lead one away from God rather than closer to him.

4. Progressive politics - I have no clue. I'm progressive in the sense that I think we need to continually re-evaluate what political decisions/leaders have worked in the past and what changes need to be made in the future. But really, I'm a pretty hard-core Conservative and the basic principals I believe in haven't changed much.

5. An appreciation of art and indie-rock - hah! I guess I have some appreciation for art - but probably 98.9% of the art I appreciate was created before 1900. As for indie-rock, I wouldn't know how to point it out if I heard it.

6. Creativity - I like to think of myself as pretty creative. I love to be working on a project, whether it is writing, scrapbooking, sewing, etc. I remember being a little kid and watching the TV show Barney (yes the ridiculous show with the singing dinosaur) but there was always one segment on the show where they had this bottomless bag (like Mary Poppins) and they would pull all these really cool art supplies out (i.e. toliet paper tubes and yarn) and then make something with it. I was so enthralled by that bag that my mom started keeping a box of odds and ends for me to "create" with.

7. Intelligence - Well, my family tells me I'm pretty smart and I've made it almost all the way through law school so I would generally agree that I'm intelligent. (although when I say this outloud or write it down it just sounds so cocky...)

8. Witty Banter -  hah! This is almost as funny as indie rock. I suppose sometimes I can engage in witty banter, but if I do, it's completely unintentional. In the few times I have actually tried to be witty I just end up creating awkward pauses in the conversation. Although one time Brandon and I had a several-hour long text banter going on that revolved around every legal term we could think of - but I'm not sure if anyone other than us would consider that "witty banter"!

Conclusion: I still don't think of myself as a hipster, but if anyone else wants to classify my thrifty/craftiness as that at least I know enough now not to be offended :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Allie's Dip

Yes, the classy title of this post is how we refer to this appetizer in my family! My SIL Allison introduced us to it several years ago and it has become a staple since. What makes it even better are that the ingredients are foods my family eats on a regular basis - making it an easy and inexpensive appetizer to pull together on the go.

Layer:
Cream Cheese
Hummus
Chopped Cucumber
Chopped Red and/or Yellow pepper (using both makes the dip look extra pretty, but I generally just use what we have on hand or what is on sale)
Feta Cheese

Top with greek dressing right before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.


Simple and delicious!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Baby, a Boy, and a Giveaway!

 The Baby

I spent last night snuggling with this lil cutie. He's been having some stomach problems and is consequently making nights pretty difficult for his mom and dad. So last night I took the 8:30 - 11:30 p.m. shift so Todd and Allie could get a couple of extra hours in. 



The Boy

Later tonight I'm heading out to pick up Brandon from the airport! After a 2.5 week break I am ready for some face-to-face time...and I'm pretty sure he is too :) I'm excited to introduce him to Isaac and we are getting together with a couple of other couples (some of whom Brandon hasn't met yet) tomorrow for dinner.


The Giveaway

I hesitated sharing about this giveaway, considering I love the items being given away so much, but I figured I might as well share! Make sure to head on over to By the Way to check out what Nana has - I especially love her Downton Abbey themed questions!


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Les Mis

It isn't very often that I get hooked on a movie - I mean really hooked. And it is probably less often that I actually got to see a movie in the theater when it is released (I mean seriously, to risk spending $10+ per person and end up seeing a junky movie? No thanks).

But there was one movie I really excited about this Christmas season - Les Miserables.


Brandon granted my wishes and took me to see it while I was in Minnesota. He had never seen the play before and was a little skeptical about what he was getting himself into, but we both ended up absolutely loving it.

The movie is a story of revolution, redemption, love, sacrifice, and selfishness. After watching it, Brandon and I spent the rest of the night discussing elements of the storyline that we felt paralleled the Christian faith. 

I'm not going to lay out the whole storyline here, because honestly you can just google the movie and come up with a number of more succinct and detailed descriptions than I have the energy to come up with now!

But some of the highlights:

-The singing. While I've seen different forms of the play version numerous times, in my opinion Anne Hathaway made one of the best Fantines. I saw an interview with her before seeing the movie and she mentioned that they had recorded the singing live, rather than lip-synching to a pre-recorded track - she stated that this allowed for her to bring more emotion to her singing, which was clearly present throughout her role.

Yes it is a movie that is 99.9% "sung" but I found it neither annoying nor confusing. But then again, I do love a good musical! :) 

-The casting. While I've heard some disagree, I thought the casting was excellent in this movie. I wasn't a huge fan of Hugh Jackman's (Jean Valjean) voice, however, I thought he embodied the spirit of the character very well. 

One of my absolute favorite parts of the movie/the musical is the very end where it is sung:

"to love another person is to see the face of God"

That is what I love about this movie - the story of a man who had lost everything but was given a second chance, and that act of redemption taught him the power of love and forgiveness.


Disclaimer: Movie contains some low-cut period clothing. There are also some scenes that include prostitution, battles, and suicide.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Choose to Turn

Repentance
1. To feel remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do; be contrite
2. To feel such regret for past conduct as to change one's mind regarding it
3. to make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one's sins.

Redemption: The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil

I was listening to a sermon the other day that concluded with what I thought was a very powerful statement. The sermon itself was actually on sexual sins, but the pastor ended by stating that the blessing we all have to receive, no matter how many or what kind of sins we have committed, is complete redemption through repentance.

How incredible is that? As Christians, we are given the chance to repent and begin anew.

I often struggle with grasping this concept. After all, although I may genuinely forgive someone for wronging me, it is often difficult for me to completely move past associating any negative feelings or reminders with that individual (maybe this is also a hint that I need to work on my understanding and ability to truly forgive!). I believe that many others share this same problem (and may even struggle to take the first steps to forgive), but that is what makes the gift of redemption so much more powerful, as it is beyond our human capacity to fully understand.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Acts 3:19

I'm a big believer in that "turn" phrase. 

When I was in elementary school I used to have a "friend" who would always say to me, "no offense, but..." and then proceed to insult me. I never really got it - was prefacing the insult with "no offense" supposed to make it not hurt as much? Or did it just make her feel better about putting me down? Regardless, her comments still hurt and her words (positive or negative) came to mean little to me.

We serve a gracious God who will forgive time and time again (just as Christ tells us to do in Luke 17:4), but I also believe that true repentance means that you are striving to turn away from your former sinful ways and follow God's path instead.

How do you make that turn (especially when you are engaging in sinful activities that give you earthly pleasure)? 

Some of the tools I've found helpful are:
     - Getting together with an accountability partner
     - Removing myself completely from tempting situations/people
     - Finding something to replace the sinful activity 
     - prayer, prayer, prayer!

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So In Love!


 I simply cannot get enough of this little man! He is already growing way to fast for my taste and I am relishing the time I am able to spend with him. It is so much fun to watch my brother and SIL take on the role of parents, they are doing a great job! They are both very calm and relaxed and have seemed to make the transition into a three-person family fairly easily. Watching my brother and Isaac together is one of my favorite things - there is clearly a father-son bond already and tiny Isaac looks even smaller in his daddy's arms!

8 days old

It really hits me every time I hold a baby - how can anyone argue that there is no God and humans are simply a manifestation of evolution?!

6 days old

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."
Psalm 139:13


4 days old - the first time we met. I jumped off the plane from MN and headed straight to meet him!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Correlation

I spent this morning soaking in my first Family Law class. Actually, I hesitated enrolling in the class because a large part of Family Law often focuses around divorces and child custody agreements. However, the practice area can also cover everything from what defines a "family" (roommates, cohabiting adults, homosexual partners) all the way to adoption law and if you have to return an engagement ring if you break off the engagement! I've always felt that the best way to be an advocate was to have a thorough understanding of any counter-arguments, and it is with that notion that I entered the lecture hall today.

I was immediately introduced to some interesting statistics. You may have seen similar comparisons before, but I think they allow for a deeper analysis when placed side-by-side.

First - divorce statistics for 2012 are estimated to be between 40-50%!

Unmarried (opposite sex) cohabitation:
1960s: 439,000
2000: 4,736,000

Childbirth outside of marriage:
1960s: 5.3%
2010: 40% (more than half of all births were to women under 30)

Women in the workforce:
1960s: 33.9%
2000: 60.2%

Anything strike you?

I think I've always had some form of understanding that changing family values and gender roles were a likely contributor to the increase in divorce, but I found it particularly interesting that my professor chose to place these statistics next to each other. One thing I learned early on in law school was that I needed to be careful about how I chose my words in regards to women in the workplace. I've talked more about my position here, but lets just say that one often encounters strong women with very intense views on gender equality in higher academia - or at least that has been my experience.

While an increase in women in the workforce is surely not the only contributing factor towards heightened divorce rates and crumbling family values, I also think that the numbers in this case are a clear indicator that there is a correlation between an increase in working women and an increase in divorce.

Why do you think that is?

I would like to speculate that it is partially a balance of priorities. Many of the women I know who are successful in their careers have had to sacrifice alot to get there. At times even I feel like because I am a woman, I have to work harder to prove that I should be in my position and am qualified for the job. While some might disagree, I don't believe this is as big of a deal when a couple is newly married - however I think things can get very complicated when children are added to the mix. It's no longer a question of simply work time or home time, but now there is the additional element of caring for the children and making sure their needs are met. If a woman is attempting to prioritize her career and her family life it seems like something will have to give. And honestly, it doesn't sound like a very enjoyable life either. 

I've heard many women say that they don't have a choice, that they have to work. Again, I wonder if this is a question of priorities. Do you have to work to put food on the table or a roof over your head? Or do you have to work to be able to afford to be able to eat out on a regular basis or put a roof over your 3,000 sq ft newly renovated house with all the latest updates?


Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Airport Christmas


Fact: I have spent more time in airports in the last 5 months than I have in the last 5 years.

Fact: I am developing an extreme love-hate relationship with airports.

I don’t think I expected being in a long-distance relationship to be this hard. People warned me, especially my friend Jess who did the Minnesota-Michigan long-distance thing for her entire relationship, but I was convinced Brandon and I could beat the system and not let the distance phase us. To be honest, for being long-distance we have it pretty easy. Except for the month of December we’ve been able to see each other every 2-3 weeks and we talk/skype daily. When I think about my Grandma doing long-distance with my Grandpa for years while he was at war and could only infrequently send letters, I feel a little ridiculous complaining about my current situation!

Yet both Brandon and I feel the distance is worth it and the travel will only be for a short period of our relationship.

That said, I did have a great time in Minnesota this Christmas.

Rather than bore you with all the minute details, I thought I’d just do some highlights (although pardon me if these get to lengthy as well :)).

- Exchanging gifts with Brandon on Christmas Day. He not only went above and beyond and surprised me with a beautiful necklace, but he also spent the last 2 months writing a blog for me that he filled with memories and letters!

-Spending time with Brandon’s family. I had met his parents before, but had never had the opportunity to meet his sister and BIL who live in Maryland. It was great getting to know John and Holly and spending time playing with Gianna, Brandon’s precious 2-year-old niece.

I made Gianna a tutu similar to the one I made Lexi this year. Every time she would put it on she would go and check herself out in the mirror!


-Trying Indian food for the first time. Brandon spent some time studying at Oxford and while he was there he really developed a taste for Indian food. I’ve been resisting trying it (one of those foods that I’ve only tried once before and had a not-so-great experience with), but we joined up with friends one night and went to a really nice Indian place. It may not be my first choice, but I’d be willing to eat it again.

At the Indian restaurant post meal

-CHEESE CURDS. I have to admit that I had some serious misconceptions about these incredible little balls before this trip. But the truth is that they are incredible – similar to mozzarella sticks, but a lighter batter and so much better.


-Obsessively talking, texting, and face timing with my parents and brother while Isaac was being born. Although I would have rather had been there in person I am so thankful for today’s technology that allowed me to “meet” Isaac just minutes after he was born.

-A major highlight was getting to spend time with Brandon’s friends – some I had met before and others that were in town visiting for the holiday season. There were many nights of good food and great conversation, including New Year’s Eve.

At what has become one of my favorite restaurants in St. Paul - in the basement of the house where the restaurant is they have an incredible space with couches and little coves.

New Year's Eve

-Seeing Les Miserables. Brandon slightly humored me by going to this movie, but we both LOVED it and it has easily made it onto my top 5 favorite films list.

-Late night conversations with Jess. Sure my real reasoning behind this trip was to be able to see Brandon, but I am so fortunate to have my best friend living in the same town as well! Although I stayed with Brandon’s family for part of this trip, Jess and Rob were my gracious hosts for the rest of the time I was in MN. Over the last couple of trips I’ve made to MN Jess and I have developed a tradition of starting the day with coffee and a 2+ hour word-fest.

Love this girl!

-Having a white Christmas. I was a little worried this year because MI was really stubborn and didn’t give us any snow before late Christmas Eve. Although I woke up to a solid dusting on Christmas morning, I ended Christmas with a good couple of inches in MN.

This really doesn't do the snow justice, but this was one morning where we finally had a break in the snow and went out for a walk.

How was your holiday season?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013

Do you ever remember thinking of a year that seemed far off in the future and imagining where you would be and what your life would be like?

For a long time 2013 has been that year for me. After all, its the year that I will finally finish my academic journey (or at least that's the plan :)), take the bar, and enter into a new chapter of adulthood that does not revolve around an exam season.

Yet 2013 has already brought surprises I never expected.

First of all, lets recognize the fact that I am writing this post from Minnesota. 

Second important surprise = I just spent the past 8 days getting to know an incredible family, group of friends, and amazing man. None of whom I'd ever even heard of on January 1, 2012.

This year has not been easy. Nor has it always been happy. But it has been a year where God has opened and closed many doors and taught me much about following his direction and leaning on him when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

And so I start this year feeling blessed.

Blessed for family - for the opportunity to grow closer to my siblings through the ups and downs of 2012, the blessing to watch 2 beautiful little girls grow and welcome a precious boy into the family, and times to learn from the wisdom of parents, siblings, and grandparents.

Blessed for friends - new friends and old, friends who teach you to listen, friends who are always present with a loving ear and encouraging word, and friends who challenge you to push harder and dig deeper.

Blessed for a church community - for brothers and sisters in Christ who remain supportive and encouraging through tough and difficult times, a community to grow and be challenged within, and the blessing of a community that exemplifies Christ's love for all.

Blessed for salvation - for the gift of grace and the comfort in knowing the painful goodbyes our family said this past August are only temporary.

Blessed for faith - faith in an almighty God and the knowledge that whatever political/economic/etc. journeys our country might take this next year, there is an all-powerful God who is the ultimate director and controller of the future and faith in him means that I have nothing to fear here on Earth.

So here's to 2013! A year that will hopefully be a time that draws each of us closer to God and teaches us to love deeper.