November 3, 2017


The first Harry Potter book was released in the United States on September 1, 1998.  I was 17 years old at the time, and didn't have any interest in reading the book.  Over the years, as more books were published and the movie franchise began, I still had little to no interest in reading more about The Boy Who Lived. 


When the first movie was released, I was in college.  A few of my friends that had read the books invited me to see the movie with them.  I enjoyed the movie and decided I had a better idea of why the books were so popular.  Over the years, I ended up seeing the first four movies in the theater; however, the desire to read the books was still not there.

My curiosity was piqued when my niece read the books, nearly 20 years after the first book was published in the US.  It was obvious the characters and stories meant a lot to her.  I couldn't help but wonder why these books continued to appeal and be loved by each generation of young readers.  When considering the millions of adults that enjoyed them too, I decided that the books MUST be good to survive decades of adoration with no end in sight.

I'm happy to report that I finished reading the Harry Potter series this week, and I totally and completely get why these books have stood the test of time.

Simply put, these books are amazing.  They are beautifully written with astounding character development.  The story-lines are full of twists and turns and surprises, yet are deep and personal and emotional.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) is my favorite of the series.  The relationship between Harry and one other main character is so wonderful that it was all I could do to keep it together as I read the final few chapters.

If you have even a spark of interest in the Harry Potter series, I would suggest you give it a try. Because, to be honest, these books are not going anywhere. I never in a million years would have thought I would love these books as much as I do, but here I am...planning my first trip to Universal Studios to see Hogwarts.  {Just kidding}

My thanks to J.K. Rowling for sharing her talent and gift of writing with the world, and I look forward to re-reading these books again and introducing them to my children.

November 2, 2017


A few years ago, I was processing orders that customer has mailed in.  At the time, I was working for my church.  We handled orders for people needing materials for weekly church services, but also sold other items like food storage and tools used for family history.

I came across an order from Sharon.  She requested that we send her a variety of family history supplies, like pedigree charts.  Included with her order was a small amount of money.  Once upon a time, these items were free a charge, so the fact that Sharon had not sent a lot of money with her order was no surprise.  I knew I wouldn't be able to complete her order, but decided to enter it into the computer so I had an idea of how much the order would cost.  Once all the items were entered, I learned that the total was over $100.

I decided to give Sharon a call so I could explain the situation.  She was very understanding and asked if I could send her a catalog that showed pricing information.  I explained that we no longer provided catalogs, but that all pricing could be found on our website.  I had worked with enough people from the pre-pre-pre-pre-Internet generation to know that a website would be useless to her.

So, I told her I would send her as much of her order as I could using the money she had sent.  I also told her I would send her a separate letter listing all the items she originally wanted along with the price and corresponding item number, hoping this would help her with any future orders.

As I was putting the letter together, a very distinct thought came to my mind that I should write using my very best handwriting.  I have what some might say unique handwriting, and sometimes it's not the easiest to read.  Depending on who I'm writing, I'll often modify the letters so they're more legible.  I affectionately refer to it as my Grandparent Handwriting.

Anyway, I sent the letter off to Sharon and hoped the information I gave her would be of some use.

A few weeks later, I came into work and found a letter addressed to me.  Actually, it was addressed to "Emily ?" because the person writing did not have my last name.  The letter was from Sharon.  And it was LONG.  She told me she had received my letter and absolutely loved my handwriting.  She wanted to know all about me, where I was from, whether I was right or left handed, and what type of pen I used.  She included a pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelope for me to send my reply, but also said that she would not be offended if I chose not to write her back.

I took her letter home and showed it to my husband.  I told him I wanted to write her back, but knew that would lead to another letter from her and so on.  I knew receiving personal mail at work was frowned upon, so my husband and I decided we felt comfortable giving Sharon our address so we could continue to send letters to each other.

Over the last two years, we have remained pen pals.  She is so thoughtful and puts so much detail into her letters to me.  I know a lot about her personal life, children, etc.  It really has been a pleasure getting to know her, and even though I don't provide quite as much detail about myself, she is always quick to tell me how much my letters mean to her.

I don't think it is a coincidence that Sharon and I crossed paths.  I also don't think the thought for me to use my best handwriting was a fleeting, random thought.  I think it was intentional, and I'm glad I listened to it.

Who knows?  Maybe we'll meet in person one day.  For now, though, I'm enjoying the letters.

August 26, 2017

DRESS wars

In January, Isabelle turned 8 years old.

Being eight is kind of a big deal because it means you can be baptized a member of our church.  Isabelle decided she wanted to be baptized, so we started to plan for the special day.

Traditionally, girls will wear pretty white dresses after they have been baptized.  It's not required (I wore a black dress after my baptism), but Isabelle expressed an interest in getting one, so I began the search for a dress she might like.

After a lot of online browsing, I went to an actual store to see some dresses in person.  I absolutely fell in love with the dress pictured above, top row, second from the right.  I loved the pleats and the simple broach on the waist. 

Not long after, I brought Isabelle to the store so she could try on the dress I knew she'd love.

With wide eyes, she glanced at all the dresses and focused in on one that I did not like at all.  I tried to redirect her attention to my favorite dress, but it didn't work.  Eventually, we took both into a dressing room and it was obvious which dress we'd end up buying.

Her face glowed and her smile was so genuine as she stared at herself in the mirror, wearing the dress she picked out.

The glow faded and the smile disappeared when she tried on anything else.

When we left the store, her smile had returned as we carried her favorite dress out to the car.  I, on the other hand, was disappointed and then felt guilty for letting it bother me.

On the day of her baptism, Isabelle looked beautiful.  She was wearing the dress that she loved so much, and I could tell she felt special.  

And that is what I ultimately wanted for her.

So, mission accomplished...just accomplished differently than I expected.

August 23, 2017


I always thought politics is what would ultimately end my relationship with Facebook.

I never thought my final straw would be a conversation regarding the apparent "no big deal" aspect of drowsy driving.  But, here we are.

It all started when a person I highly respect{ed} posted a picture of his car that clearly had been damaged.  He said:

"So, while I was napping yesterday, my car spontaneously ran into the car in front of us.  Weirdest thing."

He then made a game out of it, offering whoever came closest to guessing how much it would cost to repair his car a copy of one of his books.

I found myself not knowing what to say or do.  On the one hand, for obvious reasons, I found absolutely no humor in post.  On the other hand, I did not want to "start anything" on Facebook.

But, after talking it over with Dustin, I decided to make a comment.

"{Name}, I think you're a great person.  But with all due respect, I just have to ask why you find it appropriate to joke about falling asleep at the wheel.  I'll admit, I'm uber sensitive to this due to the fact that a family member of mine was killed by a drowsy driver.  With that said, I'm baffled why drowsy driving is still a light-hearted matter as compared to drunk driving or even distracted driving.  Can you imagine the outrage if people said things like, "I was totally wasted and randomly hit another car..." My hope is, that one day, we're just as outraged by drowsy driving.  I hope the people in the other car are ok and am glad you're ok too."

He replied back to me and said, 

"I'm sorry for your loss.  Obviously, it is still painful for you."

Then someone else said,

"Sorry for your loss also.  I don't think {Name} was making light of the situation.  I think he was making fun of himself.  As in, "Oops I did a dumb thing."

Another comment: 

"I'm so sorry for your loss, and I can understand that your comment comes from a place of pain; but while drowsy driving kills many people every year, there will never be the same outrage as there is associated with drunk driving.  Anyone can fall asleep behind the wheel, even people with a good night's rest.  Highway Hypnosis is a real thing, as is road fatigue.  He did not go out and consume a substance that he knew would impair his driving.  It's totally different.  I say that having gone to funerals for students and friends killed by drowsy driving and by drunk driving.  And I do not think {Name} was trying to make light or belittle the seriousness of what happened.  He's a funny guy, who uses humor. Sometimes, you have to laugh at yourself to keep from crying."

Dustin said:

{Name}, the fact that drowsy driving can happen to anyone is all the more reason that we should never make light of it.  We all need to be aware of our limits and pull over before we find ourselves in this situation.

{Name}, you dodged a bullet here.  I'm glad no one was hurt.  And while you didn't go out and consume a substance that you knew would impair your driving, you still put yourself and everyone else on the road in danger."

And then an over-rated editorial guy quoted George Bernard Shaw by commenting:

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." 

And then someone thanked that over-rated editorial guy for his comment.  That's right - she thanked him.

My final comment was:

"I fail to find the humor, but clearly I am in the minority.  I hope none of you are asked to find the humor in a family member's death."

And then while I was writing this post, the wise over-rated editorial guy said directly to me:

"Been there.  Done it.  Probably do it again here in less than a year.  We all cope with life/death differently."

I decided not to reply back

People who know me best know that I love to laugh.  They also know that I hate to cry.

This whole situation did not make me laugh, but it sure did make me cry.


I'm so incredibly over being viewed as the weird one or the dramatic one when it comes to this subject.  

Under no circumstance, literally under NO circumstance, is drowsy driving funny.  

Any opinion to the contrary is just plain ignorance and wrong.


Congratulations, Facebook.  You finally broke me.

August 18, 2017


I decided to take a few moments to learn more about myself.  And what better way to learn more about yourself than through BuzzFeed quizzes?

I'm not sure how I've managed thus far in life without knowing what chain restaurant I am.  I mean, how come no one told me how important this information is?  Just call me Brad's Wife and order me some cherry pancakes!

It turns out, I was born 50 years too late.  Oops!  Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Thanks to this quiz, I can now plan my life a little bit more realistically.  Looks like I'll be able to take that trip to Branson, MO afterall.

Whoops!  My bad, Isabelle.  Looks like I should've named you Holland.  Sorry, but the quizzes don't lie.

No complaints here.  Jennifer Garner's wardrobe is the best, Mark Ruffalo is hot and that Thriller scene cannot be beat!

Okay, you twisted my arm.  I'll go to Stanford.  But, only if Chelsea Clinton and I can share a dorm

Phew!  No more wondering what number I'll pick when someone asks me, "Pick a number between 1 and 5."  Seriously, my mind is so much more at ease.

I still have my Rachel haircut, so this seems fitting.

If you ever find yourself wandering aimlessly or feeling unbalanced, be sure to check out BuzzFeed.  They have the answers to all of life's burning questions.

August 11, 2017

my NORWEX review

I made a big-ish deal about buying a new refrigerator a few months ago.  The newness of the appliance hasn't worn off yet and I still consider it my third child.

Speaking of children, stainless steel appliances and children do not mix.

I know.  I was shocked too.

Luckily for me, my pantry is next to the fridge and my girls love to eat peanut butter on a spoon.

I'm sure you can imagine what the end result looks like.

Anyway, I found myself constantly wiping down the fridge.  But, it never looked good because every product, cloth, etc., I used left streaks.

And streaks are the worst.  Literally, the worst thing in the world.

Like, literally.  I'm only 20% joking here.

Not unlike that one time my floor never "felt clean" {true story}, I went on a mission to find something, anything, I could use to leave my fridge looking clean and streak-free.

It was around this time my friend had a Norwex party on Facebook.  Even though I had never purchased anything from Norwex, I was familiar with their cloth products that clean your entire house using only water.  I also heard they cure cancer, but that may just be a rumor.

Anyway, I decided it was worth selling my first-born child so I could afford to buy an EnviroCloth and Window Cloth.  

When my cloths arrived, I was skeptical.  I knew Norwex did not accept returns of used products {Side note:  why is this an acceptable return policy?  How am I supposed to know if a product works for me unless I try it?}, so either way I was keeping these products.

Well, I'm happy to state without hesitation that the Window Cloth worked.  Like, legit worked and left no streaks on my fridge.  I'm still in awe, and somewhat annoyed, that I was proven wrong.

I also noticed a few positive results when using the EnviroCloth on my countertops and glass top stove - they not only looked clean but also super shiny.  I also noticed they felt different - just cleaner, softer.  I feel like this part of the post is going in a weird direction, so I'm going to stop now.

Oh, yes, and in case you're wondering:  my kitchen looks like this 100% of the time.

So, if you've ever thought about trying Norwex as a way to keep your fridge streak free and your countertops looking shiny and feeling soft (which is NOT a weird thing to want), I'd recommend you give these cloths a try.  

Given the fact that this is not a sponsored post, and I have since lost the website I used to make my purchase, I'm afraid I do not have any useful information on how to buy your own besides Norwex's homepage.

If you do decide to try out Norwex, please be aware that there is possibly a package of the EnviroCloth and Window Cloth.  I added them to my cart separately, and I'm pretty sure I paid more than the package. 

Here's to streak-free fridges everywhere!

August 3, 2017


"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
-Romeo & Juliet

Several years ago, I was experimenting with a new medication for my epilepsy.  Dustin and I had decided we wanted to have a child, and my current medication was not recommended for women who were pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

After a lot of trial and error, I began taking a new medication that not only controlled my seizures but also had the least serious side effects while taken while pregnant.  And, it wasn't long after that, that I found out I was pregnant.

Not long into my pregnancy, I went to the pharmacy to pick up a refill.  I noticed that the price of my prescription was significantly less than it had been before.  When I asked the pharmacist about the price difference, he said it was because I was given the generic, not name-brand, medicine.

I was confused and concerned about any changes being made while I was still pregnant, and promptly called my doctor.  I was told that the generic medicine had the same ingredients as the name-brand and was safe for me to consume.

I've been thinking about that experience a lot lately and how it relates to labels.

Everything in our life has a label.

Products are labeled.  People are labeled.  Places are labeled.

And we put a lot of stock into these labels.

Sometimes a label really does make a difference.  For example, spending $$$ on a table from West Elm will more than likely lead to owning a higher quality product as compared to a table you would buy from Target.

There is nothing wrong with wanting products from high quality companies, especially if your budget allows for it.

The problem with labels come when we use them to elevate our own status or worth.  Am I a better person because I own a table from West Elm as compared to the person that owns a table from Target.  The answer is, obviously, no.

I think it's sometimes hard to remember that.

Owning a certain product doesn't mean you're better or worse than somebody else.  It just means you own a certain product.

Product labels are one thing.  But, what about labels we put on ourselves or other people?

For example, politicians.  How likely are you to justify a political leader's behavior so long as they belong to the same political party as you?  From my perspective, we will justify or shrug off or accept or even deny facts so long as the leader is labeled correctly.

The same is true for our family members, friends, celebrities or well-respected community members like doctors. 

I happened upon a conversation on Facebook between a man running for mayor and a voter.  The man running for office had a lot of great things to say.  He had good ideas.  He was well-written and appeared to have a genuine concern for the city.  The voter was only interested in one thing:  what party the candidate belonged to.  It was obvious the voter would only consider this candidate's ideas or concerns legitimate so long as he belonged to the correct party.

The candidate eventually disclosed his political affiliation and the conversation was over.

Keep in mind, his ideas for the city had not changed.  He still meant what he said.  But, because he now had a labeled attached to him, he was either liked or disliked regardless of the details.

I don't think there's really any way around labels in general.  Certainly, not when it comes to products.  But, it would be nice to see some changes with labels when it comes to people.

Some people with all the right labels aren't necessarily good people making good decisions.

And some people with the less-than flattering labels aren't necessarily bad people making bad decisions.

Some labels are inevitable, like our race or ethnicity...unless you're that white woman living in Seattle.

Other labels, like being cool because you shop at Trader Joe's, are meaningless.  A great example of this is when some frozen food line was recalled from Trader Joe's and Walmart stores.  I had a good laugh at that one.

I'm trying really hard to look beyond the labels we give ourselves or other people.  Whether we're rich or poor, male or female, married or single or divorced, we all have value.  We all have strengths that are needed in our society.  And we all have weaknesses that other people can help us with.  We're more similar than we realize.

And, at the end of the day, whether name-brand or generic, I'm not having seizures.  

And that's all that matters to me!
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