Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Someone, anyone please send me to Costa Rica for my birthday. Super pretty please with whipped cream (vegan of course) and cherries on top? Being stationary this long is foreign to me now.

Growing up we went on a lot of vacations. My dad has always been big on travelling and experiencing new things. My mom likes discovering the greatest views. In college I was moving around a lot between semesters; every four months I got to pick up and go somewhere else for a while.

I've now been in North Carolina for six months. It is so weird to not be taking an extended trip to anywhere! Which brings us back to Costa Rica. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I was a Spanish major in college. I am pretty good at reading (so long as I have SpanishDict by my side) and writing, but I would love to be able to listen and speak fluently. PLUS, Costa Rica isn't super far away, and it has incredible biodiversity. Turtles and dolphins anyone?

There is actually a girl on my Facebook friends list right now who is in Costa Rica all by herself living her dream and trying to grow as a person. I am so jealous. I can't wait to have my own adventure in Latin America or Spain. Yes, Facebook only shows the highlights reel of her experience, but I am so drawn to exploring.

There are so many people out there who do travel extensively. Thanks to the girl on my Facebook and the bloggers I follow, I finally have the courage to be able to do just that. And it will be glorious. Expect updates as I figure out my travel plans, and there will be pictures.

Does anyone else suffer from wanderlust? Where are your favorite places to travel? Where do you want to go, and what do you want to see or do?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Five Conversations You MUST HAVE Before Saying "I Do"

A quick disclaimer before we get started: my husband and I had NONE of these conversations before we got married, and we have had a lot of fights over them. Luckily, we are both really good compromisers and were pretty much on the same page with all of them so for us it worked out. In addition, I would even go so far as to say that if you are looking to get married, you should have these discussions with potential partners before things get too serious to prevent you two from wasting each other's time and causing more heartache. On to the list!

1.   Talk About Reproduction!

Children are a big deal. Let's face it, they're entirely new people! But what happens if you have your heart set on making new people and your person despises children? Cut the pain and hardship, and just talk about it before it turns into an expensive legal decision.

Also, the timing and methods of adding said little people should be something you discuss. If adoption isn't an option in your mind no matter what, and your person wants to be a parent by any means necessary, that's another really important thing to know.

2.   Discuss Parenting Techniques.

As mentioned above, children are a big deal. Often they can put the greatest stresses on a marriage, and if one of you believes in corporal punishment and the other likes positive reinforcement, the children will be able to play you two off of each other to manipulate the situation to get what they want. There's a reason so many parents mention having a united front as an integral piece of parenting.

If you want one of you to be able to stay home with the children while the other person does all the money making, that's another possible point of contention. You especially need to be on the same page with who does what as a parent which brings us to number three.

3.   Who Does What When and How Often?

Roles need to be defined so there won't be confusion or resentment due to housework. If you're both working and expect the housework to be split 50/50, make sure your person agrees. Maybe one of you hates laundry but loves mopping so you want to divide the chores that way. Whatever. Find a split that makes you both happy even if that's one of you does all of the cleaning and the other does all of the cooking. Talk about it, and come to an agreement. Then you don't have to fight about always getting stuck taking the dogs out even though you have pollen allergies and hate the stupid trees some idiot planted in your backyard.

4.   Where Does the Money Go?

This is honestly the most important thing to agree on, but I find money is easier to compromise on than children so here it is. ALWAYS, ALWAYS SAVE!!! Something always breaks so you need to be able to save money every month. This is easy to accomplish if you budget, meal plan, use the envelope system, whatever newfangled way is out there for managing money. You both need to be aware of the bills you have (car(s), rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries, phones, Internet, etc.) because it'll add up quickly if you forget to factor in buying gas or that auto-renewing gym membership that comes out every month without you realizing. Also, if one of you values tithing, you've got to respect that. No need to disrespect someone's religion.

5.   What Are Your Personal/Marital Goals?

Last but not least, you have to know who you are as an individual, not just as a partner. You need to set goals for yourself personally as well as goals for your team. If you want to be trilingual, do it! Your person should love and support you and all your dreams. If your person hopes to return to college and change career paths, great! Love and support your person. Don't lose yourselves as individuals because codependency is NOT healthy.

In addition to having an idea of how you want to grow as a person, you do need desires for your partnership whether you like traveling together, raising a family, starting a mom and pop shop, or even just going to dance classes together. Grow as individuals so you'll have more to bring to the table, AND grow as a couple so you can weather any storm together.

That's my list. Religion is another pretty important piece of people whether they do or don't have one, but I feel like that is a part of personal goals be it to further your relationship with God or be more mindful of all life or just getting through life. Whatever you believe, it will play into what you strive to achieve. I could probably write an entire post on each of these five so please let me know what you think.

Have any of your past relationships ended over one of these? (Number 5 was always a big problem in my dating life.) Are there any important conversations you would add?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Break!!!!

*Insert excited sorority girl scream here* You guys!! OMG guess what!! My sissy is coming to visit me!!!!!!! I cannot wait :D. I haven't seen her since my wedding ceremony in December, and we have so much catching up to do! Her plane is getting here tomorrow morning bright and early, but I'm so excited I doubt I'll be sleeping much. It'll be like a nearly week-long slumber party from our childhood but better because we don't have to whisper.

One good thing about Husband being stationed so close to the beach is we can totally go to the beach. You may not believe this, but I actually haven't been to the beach here yet. I went up to Top Sail back in September, but I haven't been to Onslow Beach. Roger and I meant to go quite a few weekends, but then he bought me Sims 4 and that all went out the window. I'll be dragging my sister along for sure which is pretty much the exact opposite of how we spent Spring Break the past few years.

Where my dad moved to in Colorado is where we used to vacation every winter so the ski resort is only thirty minutes from home, and they get an incredible amount of snow. I finally decided to take up snowboarding so Alex (my sister) has been trying to give me pointers and help me get halfway decent. I still just barely manage to stand up so that's been a bust, but I am pro at the beach. So long as I have my sunscreen that is. I burn faster than grease on a fire.

Other than pigging out on my homecooked goodies (both of us are health nuts, it must run in the family ;) ) and going to the beach, sharing stories and secrets is probably all we'll need to stay perfectly busy. Besides, there are a few people here she has to meet, and part of my master plan is getting her to help me finally send out my thank you cards for all the wedding gifts I received. Devious, I know.

Spring Break doesn't exist out in the real world, so what do you do to blow off steam after the long winter is over? If anyone plants tulips, please put pictures in the comments. I miss my mom's garden from years ago. I'll try to give you all an update on Wednesday of our antics but no promises. Toodles!

Dog Park Etiquette

As many of you know, I have three fur babies. Achilles, my husky, is the only one that picked me instead of my husband to love the most so he is the star of nearly all of my animal stories. This one is no exception. One of our favorite things to do is to go to the dog park on base (for some reason, this city hasn't realized that non-military dependent civilians can have dogs, too). Sometimes we go with his doggie friends. Other times it's just him and me going to hang out. This sad story is one of the latter times and has turned me off of this particular dog park altogether so long as it's just the two of us.

We got to the dog park around 2:30 which is right when it starts to get full of running buddies for Achilles. Around 4, most of the ladies left. Their dogs were tired, and their husbands were getting off work. Some of Achilles' best running buddies were still there so we stayed. And that's when it happened.

One of the Marines showed up with his two bulldogs. His grown up bulldog, whom we'll call BD, is a problem. BD doesn't like Achilles. In fact, one of Achilles' first trips to the dog park ever when he was maybe four months old got cut short because BD attacked him. Achilles was acting pretty skittish so I thought that maybe his fear is what triggered the attack. His fur is so thick no teeth touched his skin so he was completely unharmed.

Flash forward to the present. Achilles turned eight months old on the 14th so he's still quite the goofy puppy. This Marine has shown up with BD and his bulldog puppy heretofore to be known as LP. The five dogs seem to be playing well together until BD and Achilles come face to face. BD once attacked Achilles. The other lady who was still there was the first one to try to break up the fight. The Marine and I start running. I get there first and scoop up my baby away from BD while kicking him away. I high tail it to the holding pen where Achilles will be safe. Once again, his thick fur saved him from harm.

It is with this point in time that I have the biggest issue. Mr. Marine walks up to me to explain how ever since they got LP, BD has started to become overly aggressive towards some dogs (and puppies apparently). This guy KNEW about his dog's issues and still chose to bring him to a place that would have other dogs (read potential fights). He KNEW! BD was even wearing an e-collar, but Mr. Marine didn't bother to utilize it. There was no training or anything. Just a useless explanation that shows he didn't care to remove his problem dog from the situation.

There are rules at the dog park. One of them is that if your dog starts a fight, it is to be leashed and taken from the dog park immediately. Did he comply? Of course not. After all, "it's only with some dogs." Hogwash. If your dog has a guarding problem, your dog needs one on one training to correct the issue. Until such training can be provided, you DO NOT put your dog into a situation that could end in your dog getting put down. That's being an irresponsible owner.

So ya. That's my little rant about dog park etiquette. There are rules to protect all dogs who utilize the chance to socialize at the dog park. Those rules matter. Does anyone else have any bad experiences with dog parks? Or a favorite dog park? How would you react in that situation?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are Babies That Expensive?

First of all, I just want to clarify that I myself am not a mother so this is an outside perspective. Also, this applies to the babies who have no complications. In addition to that thought, it also varies by child since each of us is different. So in my no-where-close-to-expert opinion, I dare to say that babies are not that expensive. The first one, yeah, that one is a little more on the costly side, but the ones after that, not so much.

Okay so for the sake of this post, we're going to take a very generic, healthy child who hits some milestones early and others late like normal children. Now let's make a list of baby needs: food, shelter, sleep, hygiene, stimulation, love, comfort, growing/learning experiences. In terms of purchases, that means bottles, formula if you so choose (which that stuff IS expensive, and I hope you can get on WIC if you need/want to go that route, so we'll also say this mom is a pretty good producer of the booby milk), soft spoons, a crib, blankets, diapers, pacifiers maybe, clothes, and a car seat.

Judging by that list, the baby furniture is the most expensive part, and if this was a first baby, that's where you'd be shelling it out. However, if this was a second or third or twelfth baby, I'm sure you already have a lot of that furniture still in working condition which means the price isn't nearly as much as you thought. Or you were a nice person and passed your furniture on to a new mom in need at a discounted price which you are a saint for doing that since it can add up so fast.

Babies do need stimulation, but that doesn't mean you have to go out and buy all the latest and greatest toys when you could easily put sand and a bunch of little toys in a plastic bag for a sensory experience (please don't feed your babies sand and little toys). You probably have articles of clothing made of different types of fabric for your baby to touch. You can play music on whatever electronics you have. Making some brightly colored doodles can help with light and colors or even just going new places to see and hear new things. There's lots of options that don't cost nearly as much as a room full of toys that will be forgotten in no time flat.

I'm hoping love and comfort are freely given from the caretaker(s), and sleep should also be pretty self-explanatory. But then comes food which can get tricky. Obviously you can buy all different kinds of pre-made foods at the store, but you could also just put the food you already buy through a food processor or blender. One is easy and way less time consuming, but I'm not sure how much money you could save grinding up some carrots. If the baby has an allergy or sensitive digestive system, it's a better bet to make your own baby food since you could control all the ingredients that way, but that's as personal as breast or formula feeding or some combination of the two.

Since the baby is eating, it will have to poop which means diapers and wipes, but even there you have options. The disposable diapers are a lot of money spread out over the diapers wearing years as opposed to cloth diapers which are a lot of money up front plus extra laundry through the diaper wearing years. Just like baby furniture, this is one where the value can be different depending on the number of children and the brands you choose.

All in all, babies do need some pricier items that you definitely want to put on your baby shower registry, but clothes and blankets/bedding that will get spit up/throw up/poop/mystery other stains on can be bought at consignment shops or garage sales, and there are ways to cut corners in the toy department as well. But the most important thing that children need is good quality human interaction! Your time, your love, your affection, your attention. And that is not only inexpensive, it's priceless.

But of course they grow up so here's a little blip on that just so we can make sure to go full circle. There will be more clothes, and the food costs will add up, but the extra curriculars can be selected with cost in mind. A lot of them such as band offer scholarships and assistance to help out as well so no matter how you are limited there are ways around it if you ask (you best believe I'll be asking around if a surprise happens anytime soon). Or the kid could want to skip all that and play outside with imagination and friends. This is the part that depends mostly on the child. But again, there are options to help cut costs.

I especially want to hear from the mommies out there. What ways did you find to minimize unnecessary spending on the baby goodies? Was it all more or less than you thought it would be? What advice do you have for the expectant or childless? Has your time or material investments been more influential in your child's life?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My Take on the Racist Chant at OU

I am a Sooner through and through (sorry aunt Tammi!). I even bleed crimson that's how much I love the school I attended. I am just as appalled as a lot of you are I'm sure. Since there is a chance not all of you have heard about what happened, I'll give you a little background before diving into my opinion.

There was a video posted to someone's Snapchat I believe of some of the SAE brothers shouting out a racist chant on a party bus. President Boren of the University of Oklahoma has since disbanded SAE's connection with OU, and the frat is trying to sue. There have been articles posted from many different angles, but here is mine as a dropout who used to be a part of a sorority at the University of Oklahoma.

I think it is completely abhorrent. I am horrified and disgusted. I am ashamed. But I'm also sad. It is deplorable that someone was so hateful that he/she came up with this chant and then that many brothers decided to keep it alive and well. Are they all racist? I really hope not, but the flip side of that is they are spineless for allowing something so terrible to continue despite their personal beliefs and moral compasses.

I saw the video, and my first thought was, "What idiot would record that?" White privilege is something so ingrained in our society that it pops out in the worst scenarios. It's a good thing it got recorded. I mean, not for the two boys who were expelled for being in leadership positions since their bigotry now gets to follow them around forever, but at least attention has been brought to the fact that racism is STILL an issue today.

However, there has now been talk of the entire Greek system being targeted for one bad egg. Is it possible that other houses have members whose sentiments lie with those SAE brothers? Of course. But it's just as likely that non-Greeks would feel that way, too. Is targeting a group because of stereotypes not the same problem the different races have? Is that not what caused the problem in the first place? I'm one of those hippie chicks that thinks you can't combat hate with more hate. Creating more anger will NEVER solve the problem.

So here's my possible solution. Let's stop labeling. Yes, it is human nature to categorize our surroundings since it is what helps us determine what is dangerous that much faster. Snap judgements and stereotypes were a big part of survival at one point in our past (how relevant they still are is not what I'm discussing at this time). But why does it matter what ethnicity or race we are anyway? Why do we always have to check those boxes on goverment paperwork? Why does it matter?

That's not to say that if we just stop talking about it, it will go away. What I'd rather we try is teaching the next generation to simply not see those divisions of color or religion or orientation or gender because in reality, what does it matter anyway? Are we not all entitled to the same unalienable human rights simply because our cells are those made by the code of human DNA? Maybe I'm a dreamer, and this idea of foregoing the labeling is completely ridiculous. But then again, how awesome would it be to get to decide who you are instead of letting your genetics and environment place you into the little boxes the government so desparately needs?

What are your thoughts on racism and how to stop it? If you are at OU or close to it, what can you tell me of the newest developments?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vegan in a House Full of Omnivores? No Problem!

I am what is called a dietary vegan which means I maintain a vegan diet solely for the health benefits. I still have quite a few cheat foods (chocolate mostly). Does that mean I don't care about animals at all? No, fair and healthful treatment of what we are to be eating is extremely important. I just don't see that happening anytime soon, but that's an entire post of its own.

My husband doesn't cook, rather he CAN'T cook. Without me he'd live off ramen and fast food his whole life and never reach his workout goals. The tricky thing is he isn't vegan. Neither is our roommate. So what do I do? Easy. I make whatever vegan foods I want and make an easy chicken dish for the boys.

On Monday I had been craving this super delicious Cuban black bean soup so I decided to have a Cuban night. I Googled a couple other Cuban recipes so we'd be eating more than just soup, tweaked them according to what ingredients I actually had, and voila!

The soup is a recipe from my very first vegan cookbook Eat Vegan on $4 a Day so no tweaking there. The chicken recipe I got off Food.com and fourthed it since it was calling for 2 whole chickens. The green beans were also from Food.com, and I left the bacon out to keep them vegan as well so I'd have two food options, and the boys would have three. It was all delicious!!

So that's how I get around my picky eaters. Does anyone else have dietary restrictions to juggle while cooking for others? Anyone else have trouble getting someone to eat their vegetables?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Marrying Young

I have seen a lot of articles about young marriage floating around on Facebook. Some have been pro. Some against. Some military specific. None of them ever really defined "young marriage," but it's a term we all just seem to know.
"Young" typically means "having had fewer than some predetermined number of trips around the Sun." And in a lot of situations, that's a pretty good definition. Abilities such as walking, talking, writing, and driving are learned according to our number of years lived. The physical stuff is easy to measure that way, but the mental and emotional side of development isn't so simple. The range of gaining the capacity for abstract thought is years wide. Depending on whose theory you subscribe to, not everyone reaches the highest level of mental development. But it's the mental and emotional aspects that are important when it comes to something as personal as marriage.
My opinion on marriage in general is that it's not for everyone. Monogamy isn't even for everyone. We're not all cookie cutter people who can live the same life of grow up, graduate high school, go to college, get a job, get married, have babies, pay bills, die. And that's okay. We shouldn't all be the same.
What I like about having gotten married at 19 is that we were forced to be grown ups. When you have a spouse, your life isn't all about you and your life experiences. There's a lot of joint decisions and group activities. There's an entire other person in your world you have to consider. Learning how to balance personal growth with family bonding is one of the best experiences out there for people like me. Getting to grow up and grow old with the same person is as exciting as it is challenging.
I can't remember where I heard this, but one of the greatest pieces of advice I've ever received is that marriage is falling in love many times with the same person (if anyone knows where this came from, please tell me in the comments so I can give credit where credit is due). That is especially true when you get married before your brain is done growing. 25 is the general age for when the brain has hit its peak and abstract thought is possible. If that's when it is for me, my husband has 6 years of change and growth to get through before I settle into who I am. That means 6 years of growing up and growing together and rediscovering each other regularly.
If that doesn't force you to make the big decisions about money, goals, children, dreams, and desired lifestyle, I don't know what will. But again, that's for people like me. Getting married at the ripe old age of 19 isn't for everyone. It all depends on where your heart and mind are, not just your body. Truly, age isn't the determining factor for if you married "young" or not.
I married at the exact right time for me. I know people who married younger. I know people who married older. I know people who married more than once. I know people who never married. IT DOESN'T MATTER. Who you are as a person is not determined by your labels. Do you, whoever that may be, and have your happiness. It's that simple. "A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms." -- Zen Shin
What are your thoughts on young marriage?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Setting Goals, March '15

This blog is something that I want to be important in my life. I've already plugged in to a couple awesome blogging groups on Facebook which have given me amazing tips and a plethora of resources if I ever need advice. One thing I have gathered to be crucial is goal setting!

With that in mind, I would like to publicly share my goals with you so I can be held accountable. Making my blog a priority and vowing to spend more time and energy on it is something I think will not only help me to feel like I'm actually doing something worthwhile, but it will also improve the quality of content you all will be able to find through me.

Without further ado, here are my goals for this month:

  • Get on more social media: Bloglovin', Twitter, Instagram
  • Spend at least thirty minutes daily on my blog be it planning, thinking, or writing
  • Find my niche
And because I always like to tie my posts to something bigger, goal setting and planning really is a good thing. I'm a type b person so I do let spontaneity into my life (let's be honest, I got married after a two week engagement thus changing every plan I had), but I see the value of having a destination. The journey is undoubtedly the best part about life, but knowing what you want your life to look like and actively taking steps to create and build that dream, that's magical. That's living. That's happiness. 

So I encourage each of you to take a moment to think about what it is that you want out of this life and figure out what it would take to get there. You don't need a five-year plan if that's not your thing, but moving towards what you actually want will make life that much more fulfilling.

Time for the questions! If you don't mind sharing, what are some of your goals? Has throwing caution to the wind worked in your favor?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Lifestyle Choices

Back in college, I had been playing with some ideas about how to be healthier. You see, when I was fifteen, I had been consistently having prehypertension blood pressure levels, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Hurray for genetics. I made a switch to pescatarianism pretty easily since I love seafood, and I didn't really miss beef, chicken, or pork that much at all. However, in my last semester of college, I was taking this class called Medical Spanish. We all got to pick our own research topics, and I decided to go ahead and research the effects of different diets on the human body.

What I learned through that research was amazing to me. Thanks to that class I have been trying to make the switch to vegan. Most of my cheat days are vegetarian (I still have the occasional full blown hamburger slip-ups). I have also started up a pretty regular exercise routine and am looking to add a yoga studio to my lineup.

Because of my "difficult" lifestyle, I fear I might alienate some friends and family members. Thanksgiving was pretty tricky one year, and I felt bad for inconveniencing everyone. But how I feel when I make sure to take care of my body like this outweighs the negatives easily. To me, this is just one more step I have to take to make my life exactly what I want it to be. Why does it matter to other people what I do and don't eat? Does my choice to skip on the chicken parmesan really change the lives of those around me?

This is going to be a pretty huge stretching of thought so bear with me. In addition to people feeling the need to comment on my menial choice of diet, I have had people comment on bigger decisions such as my choice to drop out of college a year before I would've graduated to get married. I hear all the time of people commenting on the state of a woman's uterus - her plans of having children, the timing, and the quantity of said children. There are people who comment on the love lives of strangers. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The amount of things others can find in our lives to poison with their judgements is unending.

So I return to my two questions. Why does it matter to others what we do or don't do? Do our choices really change the lives of those around us? In some respects, yes. Big decisions will ripple into the lives of others, but ultimately, my choices are my own. I only have one life. If I want to spend it eating vegetables in the gym saying meditations to myself, I will. If I want to have one, two, fifteen, or zero children, I will. If  I want to be married for nineteen years by the time I'm forty, I will. I am the one that has to live with the consequences of my actions so I WILL make them things I can be happy and proud to have done.

That realization is what has given me the strength to keep doing what I'm doing. I want to impress upon each and every one of you that your life is your own. You only get one so do what you want with it. What are some of the dreams and desires you want to accomplish? Has anyone else made "controversial" decisions? How did you handle the backlash? Find me on Facebook if you ever need to talk to someone. Life can be big and scary so if you need someone to lean on, let me know :)