December 9, 2013 § Leave a comment
My blog has moved over to http://www.monstercakesblog.com permanently, so update your reader and head on over to check out the new look!
I apologize for another blog move, but I promise this is the last time! I’ve been wanting my own domain for a while, and for the past few weeks, the amazing Liz from Srsly Liz has been working on creating my new minimalistic space. I love her eye for design, she’s a breeze to work with, and I just adore her! Check out her portfolio and blog here.
To make it easy, just click here to follow my new blog on Bloglovin’.
Lastly, thank you oodles for reading Monster Cakes. I appreciate every one of you, and I hope to see you over at the new space! xo
ps. For added incentive… I can’t wait to share whether this little nugget is a boy or a girl! Find out tomorrow over at the new blog.
December 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
click me for tunes–> Rdio
It’s snowing outside my window right now.
It rarely snows here, so seeing the streets dusted lightly with snow flakes that remind me of powdered sugar makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I think I’ll grab some hot coco and listen to this eclectic Christmas mix I made while I work today. Join me?
December 5, 2013 § Leave a comment
Winter is for curling up in your favorite chair and escaping into as many stories as possible.
ALLEGIANT by Veronica Roth:
I find it hard to review the last book of a trilogy as a single entity without my feelings on the series overall influencing my opinion, so I’ll just share a few thoughts on the entire Divergent Series. Though the first book, Divergent, was definitely my favorite of the three, I thought Allegiant’s ending was both logical and absolutely heart breaking. I appreciated that the series ended more realistically – with loss and character growth. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I will say that I cried my guts out and I cannot WAIT for the first movie to come out next March (see the official trailer here!).
What I love about Veronica Roth and the Divergent series is her ability to focus on important overarching themes rather than writing a YA series that solely focuses on a teen love story. A few examples that jumped out at me… the realization that self-discovery and becoming your own person often comes at the cost of leaving family/childhood ideology behind… never take freedom of individuality and personal expression for granted… bravery comes in many, often seemingly quiet, forms… we can’t earn perfection through good works/focusing on one virtue for we are all flawed and capable of good and evil (the verse “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” comes to mind for me)… love is a daily choice not a fleeting emotion…
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.”
“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”
BRAIN ON FIRE: MY MONTH OF MADNESS by Susannah Cahalan:
I can’t even begin to explain how mind-blowing this memoir was for me. The author is a journalist, so of course the writing was very accessible and bursting with great prose, but it was more than that. Her experience was fascinating, eye opening, terrifying, and powerful. Having personally experienced PTSD and suppressed and resurfaced memories firsthand, it felt incredibly important to read her story and understand just how complex the brain is. A confirmation of sorts that I’m not crazy. Or we are all capable of a little crazy. Probably both. Either way, it’s important to understand that the brain is vastly complex and approach mental disability with extreme compassion and understanding, and I commend her bravery in sharing her story in hopes others will consider this important truth.
“We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it.”
“Someone once asked, “If you could take it all back, would you?”
At the time I didn’t know. Now I do. I wouldn’t take that terrible experience back for anything in the world. Too much light has come out of my darkness.”
THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING by Robyn Schneider:
I loved the characters in this coming-of-age YA novel, and the writing style and storyline reminded me of John Green’s books. This book has a severed head opening and shocking twist ending woven into the story, though, so it stands apart from Green just fine. If you’re looking for an enjoyable story that brings you back to high school days, this is a good choice and quick read.
“I pictured her tragically; it never once occurred to me to picture her as the tragedy.”
On my Christmas wish list: Francis Chan‘s Crazy Love and Forgotten God. You?
December 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
Every year we go Christmas tree hunting with our friends, make a fire, roast hot dogs, drink hot coco, and laugh until we pee a little. This year was a much smaller group, and there was sadly no snow, but we still had the best time. It’s weird to think that 15 years from now we may be doing the very same thing, only we will be talking about our teenagers around the campfire instead of our babies-to-be. I love traditions like this. I hope they never stop.
December 3, 2013 § 1 Comment
A friend of mine recently described someone who falls in love cautiously and slowly as ‘slow cooker love.’
I’m a microwave, I instantly thought.
Zap! And I’m in love. With everything. All the time. I feel instant passion and overwhelming emotion toward people and food and animals and music and… Just all of it.
So is Justin in his own way about certain things (he knew I was the one right away), which probably made a handful of people nervous when we got married so quickly at the wise age of 20/21, but I’ve never doubted or worried.
Because we may be microwaves, but we are also both stubborn in the worst kind of way, so we won’t ever give up on each other. We are stubborn microwaves, and that combination makes for the wildest adventure, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
December 2, 2013 § 4 Comments
November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
(source for image and all quotes: Pinterest)
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”
“It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.”
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful.”
“Choose to see the good stuff.”
“Gratitude changes everything.”
November 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
I love the spirit of Thanksgiving (with exception to the Black Friday frenzy), but there’s always that small voice in the back of my mind whispering sad pleas to adopt this attitude all year round. To always be focusing on daily thankful lists, not just in November. It sort of reminds me of the way people express love on Valentine’s Day. I just wish we didn’t need a day to remind us to give thanks or express love, myself included.
Regardless, as I get swept up in the festivities around me, I find myself making a mental list of items and moments I’m grateful for this year. Instead of sharing the usual things, I decided to make a list of moments and feelings that make my heart soar and the happy tears fall, because I’m on the hunt for more of those this year…
Seeing the baby smile on the ultra sound sound and realizing that this smile will bring me joy for the rest of my life.
The sound of Justin’s guitar and the warm trance it puts over the house when he softly hums along.
Spotting Marz’s nose poking out from under the dinner table so my dad can sneak her food on his fork.
Watching my brother treat his wife with patience, adoration, and the truest kind of love that I’ve ever seen.
That moment each day when I’m caught off guard by how handsome my husband is when he first gets home from work and my breath catches.
Missing my brother and sister in a way that aches but loving that I have siblings worth aching for.
Knowing that Justin will hold me when I cry and no words are necessary because he gets me in a way in a way no one else can or will.
Hearing my best friend’s daughter say my name for the first time.
Getting to start each day with the knowledge that I am loved and precious in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:4).
When Marz show mercy by rolling on her back and letting my mom’s ancient dog temporarily “win” during play time.
The sound of my grandma, my mother, and my own laugh clanging together in alarmingly perfect harmony.
My family. My friends. The people and strangers in my life that impact me. I am thankful for them. I am thankful for the moments they create, because therein lies the miracles of my life.
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.” –Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
November 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
Let’s start the week out with some smiles. The internet can be a negative, terrible place, so I like to collect happy treasures I stumble upon online to remind myself that light shines brightest in the darkness. Here’s some light to brighten your day:
Because I love The Voice and I think you need a pretty song to start your day: A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera sing Say Something.
Just in case you haven’t seen this yet, San Francisco turns into Gotham City for Batkid and melts hearts everywhere.
I could laugh at Text From Dog tumblr for DAYS. But I’m also the type of person that has full-blown conversations with my dog on a daily basis.
My favorite for last. This video of a homeless man joining in song during the taping of a music video made my day.
November 21, 2013 § 11 Comments
I can still remember the day he told me he wanted to go back to school to get his Fire Science degree and pursue becoming a firefighter. It was 2010, I had just graduated with my BA in English and Writing after what felt like an eternity in college, and I was excited to get a real job and not be juggling a coffee job, an internship, and college while also struggling financially. But alas, life took an unexpected turn. So off he went, and we simply switched places as the financial supporter and the student.
Still, though, I was so proud of him. Proud of his drive, his ambition, and his desire to provide a stable life for us long-term. And daaamn does he look good in that uniform.
As the demands of the (unpaid) student firefighting program he was involved in started building up, while also being a full-time student and attempting to work in the rare spare hours he had, money became more of a struggle, as did the waiting and the uncertainty of if and when he would ever get a paid firefighting job. It’s a really competitive field, and I know many people who have been trying, unsuccessfully, to land a job for numerous years.
Each step felt like it took forever, but we still celebrated the little moments none-the-less. I remember when he completed his first year in school and feeling so proud. I remember when he got into a very competitive internship program and I almost burst with excitement. I remember driving to the coast with Marz in tow while he took his EMT test and became certified. I remember when he graduated college and feeling so proud that we had both received our degrees. And more recently, I’d been holding my breath for every job he’s tested for all over Oregon and Washington, waiting for that magic one.
But holding my breath got old real quick, and I quickly found myself clinging to optimism and trying not to feel hopeless.
So we practiced the waiting game, growing patience, learning how to trust God, being thankful for the little things, and trying not to give in to fear when the money ran out and the job openings became scarce.
And then a local job popped up in our town, and he tested well and made it all the way to the final chief’s interview, which leads us to now. Weeks after that last interview…
My husband, who has worked his cute little TUSH off for the passed 3 years as a student firefighter, a full time student, an EMT on an ambulance, and spent numerous hours driving to, studying for, and testing for countless fire jobs, was officially offered a job as a paid firefighter this month!
When he told me the news, I was by myself working on my laptop in a coffee shop, and I started sobbing (pregnancy hormones much?). People probably thought someone had died, and I just wanted to stand on my table and scream, “HE DID IT!” Instead I did the only logical thing and went home and ate a bunch of ice cream to celebrate the moment. So there were tears, laughter, smiles, and ice cream. In that order.
This has been some of the hardest years for us, but oh has it been worth it. Because that’s what hard work does. It grows you, stretches you, and makes you better. And when God’s timing aligns and it pays off, it makes you want to eat a gallon of ice cream, stand on a table shouting for joy, and kiss the socks off your firefighting husband.
So to everyone who has been praying for us, silently cheering Justin on from afar, sending us encouraging words or advice, helped us financially or fed us when the fridge was empty, and listened to me cry and worry and stress over the past 3 years, thank you from the bottom of my heart. We could not have reached this moment without the support of our friends and family, and we hope you know how much we appreciate and love each and every one of you. We are blessed.
And to my handsome husband. You did it babe. And I’m so proud of you, and I just really love your guts. xo
Until the next big adventure… (oh wait… that’s already a cookin’ in my belly)