What’s Your Road Trip Routine?

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I was in the middle of writing a long, detailed post telling you all about my weekend (AKA, the reason I haven’t posted in several days). It was going to include lots of great photos and some bullet points, a few humorous asides and a deep thought or two.

In short, it was going to be great.

Then I got up to refill my giant cup with ice water and promptly dumped it all over my living room floor.

As I mopped up the mess I glanced at the clock and decided I was done. That post? It’ll wait. My bedtime, though? It will not. So instead, let’s talk about a very important matter: road trips.

What’s your road trip routine?

What do you…

…pack?
…listen to?
…eat?

How fast do you drive? Do you use cruise control? Take the back roads? Plan your pit stops?

And do you prefer to road trip alone – or with others? If others, who?

Here’s my Road Trip Rundown:

  • I pretty much always pack the morning of a trip. Partly because I procrastinate and partly because my wardrobe isn’t that big so I’m usually washing the clothes I want to wear and take at the last minute. Because I just wore them.
  • If I’m alone, I like to eat Cheez-Its and M&Ms. And drink Coke. I’m healthy like that. AS YOU KNOW.
  • Because I tend to drive too fast (or, strangely, too slow at night), I definitely use cruise control. Every mile I can.
  • Back roads? Pit stops? Whew – too many possible answers here! It depends on where we’re going and who’s going with me.
  • As for what I listen to, well, I use these things called CDs. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? In a history class? Heh. Seriously, my car doesn’t have a way for me to hook up my phone or iPod, so I really do listen to the radio and CDs. On the way to Arkansas last weekend, I listened to loud, kid-unfriendly pop music on the radio until the stations turned into static. Then I jammed to my Mamma Mia soundtrack and most of Mark’s Guns ‘N’ Roses greatest hits CD. I have confusing taste.
  • Last but not least, these days I really, REALLY enjoy the solo road trip. In the past, however, I’ve had great road trips with Annalyn – and I look forward to the day when Mark and I can hit the open road together, alone, again. (But…yeah…for now? Seven hours all by myself in the car? PURE BLISS.)

So, how about you? What’s your road trip routine?

(And now I’m going to peel off some wet socks that, apparently, absorbed more of that spilled water than the seven towels now sitting next to the washing machine.)

{Photo source}

Let’s All Be Brave :: Book Giveaway

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I don’t jump off the high dive.
I don’t ride big roller coasters.
And you’d have to pay me good money to get me on a motorcycle.

I’m not brave.

I didn’t audition for choir in college.
I’ve never lived further than a couple hours away from my hometown.
And one time I thought about starting a business…but didn’t really.

Definitely not brave.

Except . . . what if being brave isn’t about big gestures and reckless acts? What if it’s not skydiving and singing in a ballpark? What if being brave is simply saying yes when you’re called, taking the next step – even when it’s scary?

When I think about it that way, well . . .

I did apply to grad school even when I didn’t know how to pay for it.
I did quit my job without having a new one so I could “follow my dreams.”
I did help plant a new church.
I did go to a blog conference even though I didn’t know anything about it.
I did decide to be a stay-at-home mom even though I didn’t know how.
I did submit a book proposal. Twice.

And I’ve applied for a billion jobs and agreed to marriage counseling {again} and sung karaoke and had that tough conversation and agreed to lead a small group – and so many other big and little steps and yeses.

So maybe I’m a little bit brave after all. I bet you are, too.

Let's All Be Brave

My friend Annie has written a book about being brave. It’s available today, and I want to tell you about it. Here’s the blurb:

How often does fear hold us back from the very things we most want to taste, touch, and experience? The call to be brave isn’t just for one person—it’s for everyone. Let’s All Be Brave is more than a book, it’s a battle cry. Annie challenges us to live boldly, she calls us to step into those places that require courage, and she gives us the help to take the next step forward—even when it’s scary.

This non-fiction, essay-driven book opens the door to many different views of courage—nudging, encouraging, and inspiring readers to be brave whenever given the chance.

Let’s All Be Brave has great stories in Annie’s easy-to-read and always-funny style, but she also includes God’s answers to finding courage and challenging questions for the readers. It’s one of my favorite books of this year, and I’m excited to give away a copy to one of YOU today!

Enter to win Let’s All Be Brave by leaving a comment here by telling us one brave thing you’ve done. I’ll choose a winner randomly after the giveaway closes at midnight (CST) on Friday, July 17.

How have YOU been brave?

Photo source

Spring TV Makes Me Feel Feelings

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It’s true. Those tears leaking out of my eyes cannot be blamed on allergies. They are simply the result of springtime television.

First there are the finales. The cliffhangers and the bombshells. The end of seasons and, sometimes, the end of series. This year, we even saw the end of a television website – which, to me, feels much more like the end of an era than saying goodbye to the long-running How I Met Your Mother or Psych.

Then there are the upfronts. This is where we learn about the new shows – the ones that may never make it to a screen near me, the ones that will start out with so much potential and just break our hearts, the one that will become must-watch after that second episode even though you don’t have time for another show.

And this year, the upfronts came with an added twist when several networks announced shows that would be over after next season. So on one hand, the writers have plenty of time to prepare and write conclusions and closure for our favorite shows. But on the other hand, we now have extra time to grieve the loss of our favorite characters and stories.

Finally, there’s summer TV – or the lack of it, depending on your preferences and the whims of the networks.

So, let’s talk it all out, eh? I’ll give you my take – and then you give me yours. That’s how it works, okay?!

The Finales

Well, you already know how I feel about How I Met Your Mother (although, feel free to head over there and discuss amongst yourselves a bit more…). And I haven’t watched the Castle finale yet, so there will be NO talk of any surprise ending or cliffhanger or ANYTHING. Capice?

So, moving on…

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New Girl and The Mindy Project both consummated a will they/won’t they relationship just to break them up. Both breakups ticked me off, but at least The Mindy Project fixed its couple and ended with Danny and Mindy getting back together at the top of the Empire State Building. I can’t say the same about New Girl. Strangely enough, though, much as I love romantic comedies, the blatant homage of The Mindy Project’s finale left me a little cold.

I don’t know, guys. Maybe I was grouchy when I watched the last few episodes of these shows? What did you think about how they ended this year?

Arrow had a huge, intense run to its season end. I love action and superhero-type stuff, but holy violence, Batman! The last few episodes were SO intense and SO dark that it was hard for me to enjoy it as much as usual. I did like almost all the character development, though – with the exception of Thea’s storyline and the death of Moira. Ugh. I wish I hadn’t thought of that, because now I’m sad all over again. (However. Oliver and Felicity in that last episode – ???!!!)

Parks & Recreation is, hands down, one of my very favorite shows. Every single character is unique and outstanding in his or her own right, and the one-hour finale this year? Perfection. Honestly, the show could have ended right then and there, and though I’d be sad, I would have been satisfied, too. (I actually felt a bit of that after the episode when Ann and Chris left, too. Maybe the writers were just being prepared in case the show was canceled?) Thankfully, we have one more season left to enjoy the weirdo and sweethearts of Pawnee.

Hart of Dixie. Well, I know. Some of you jumped ship a while back, when we had Joel and Tansy and I don’t even remember because I erased all those pointless and annoying storylines from my memory. But I stuck with it. Because if there’s one thing I am, it’s loyal to my CW shows. ANYWAY. I’ve been Team Wade for a long time, so I’m all for the way they ended this season…even if my more logical side points out that their renewed love kinda, sorta came out of nowhere. Whatevs. Team Wade! (Although, UGH. Why can’t Lavon just go be happy with Annabelle? COME ON.)

Once Upon a Time is ridiculous. It really is. I know this. And yet? IT IS MY FAVORITE AND I LOVE IT AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME. You might think this is purely because of Captain Hook, but it’s not. Not completely. No, I just continue to love the way they twist traditional fairy tales and stories and tangle them all up. (Oh. No pun intended there. The vague Rapunzel storyline this season was lame.) Are you still watching? What did you think of the whole Wizard of Oz twist? Do you remember Peter Pan and that crazy business? How glad were you for it to be over? How do you feel about them adding a Frozen character for next season? And how much do you love or hate Captain Hook?

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The Cancellations & Endings

This year, in addition to my regular shows, I added a few sitcoms to my already-long list of shows-I-watch. Mainly because a half-hour show was the perfect diversion while feeding Adrienne. And since she insists on eating several times a day, I had lots of half-hour slots to fill. I watched – and ended up loving – Trophy Wife, Enlisted, The Crazy Ones and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All but the last one were canceled, and that bums me out.

Of course, as long as they keep making Hollywood Game Night (my new favorite thing), I’ll probably survive.

{Oh, also. I almost forgot this one. The CW – I know. Okay? I know. – had a new show called Star-Crossed. It was about teenagers and aliens and *SIGH* of course I watched it. It was pretty lame, but I watched all 13 episodes. And then breathed a sigh of relief when it was canceled.}

So. This year several of my favorite shows ended for good: Psych, Warehouse 13, Suburgatory and Community. Although, now that I look at that little list, it turns out I’m okay with all of them. I’d gotten a little bored with each of those shows. And as Shawn and Gus mentioned in a “this is our last season” commercial, there’s always syndication. As long as I can watch reruns of Psych and Community, I’m good.

Oh, yeah – here’s a list of shows ending next year (if you want to be pre-emptively sad). Parks & Rec is the only one I’ll miss, although knowing it’s the last season might be enough to make me watch Cougar Town again. Maybe.

The New Shows

Okay, so it’s too soon to really dive into the fall schedule and all the new shows. I mean, we shouldn’t talk about it all day. Right? Except this one:

How funny and delightfully bizarre does that look?!? SO FUN. (And probably canceled after half a season. But we’ll cross that bridge later.)

I’ve also been sucked in by the trailers for these shows (links go to their trailers):

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The Summer Shows

Okay, here’s what I know…

So You Think You Can Dance starts next week, and the cable shows start in a few weeks. Suits comes back on June 11, and Covert Affairs returns on June 24. I don’t know when White Collar will air its final, shortened season; I suppose it could be later this fall. Perception (and Rizzoli & Isles, which I usually end up watching not really on purpose) comes back on June 17, but Franklin & Bash doesn’t return until August 13.

And that is all I know about summer TV. I think I need to find something to watch on Netflix or Hulu. Any suggestions?

Now it’s YOUR turn. How are YOU feeling about springtime television?

{TV photo source}

Confessions of a Book Nerd

Confessions of a Book Nerd by givinguponperfect.com

I’m on a super stressful deadline, so of course that means I’ve been reading even more mindless fluff than usual while feeding Adrienne. As I was skimming a silly romance that I’d already read (I know. Two strikes. Judge away.), I was reminded of an embarrassing realization I’d had a while back.

Do you know the music of Dusty Springfield? I don’t. And for years (yep. years.) I thought she was a make-believe singer created by novelists. I don’t know, you guys. I guess I thought all novelists (yeah…romance novelists) got together and agreed on one single folksy singer they would all write about. I don’t even know.

It’s just that I feel like I know a lot of music, okay? And I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard a single song by Dusty Springfield. So HOW COULD SHE BE REAL?

Right. I know. She is, and I’m dumb. Moving on…

As it turns out, that’s not the only weird or embarrassing confession this book nerd has for you today. {That’s right, friends! Embarrassing confessions, and it’s not even your birthday! Yay!}

Top 10 Confessions of a Book Nerd

  1. Dusty Springfield. We already went over this.
  2. Unshed – I read above my age level as a child and, as a result, was introduced to vocabulary I didn’t exactly hear on the playground. No, I don’t mean swear words! (Those I probably DID hear on the playground.) I mean bigger or more uncommon words – like unshed. As in, “unshed tears.” And because I didn’t hear them out loud, I didn’t always know how to pronounce them. (Remind me sometime to tell you about my use of “ethereal” in a college presentation.) No matter how old or smart I get (or how many people I hang out with that have great vocabularies), “unshed” will always be pronounced as one syllable. It kind of rhymes with “scrunched,” like the way your face looks when you’re trying not to cry…or shed tears.
  3. Skipping parts – I’m a fast reader. Not a speed reader. But a pretty fast one. (My retention leaves something to be desired, however, so even though he claims I’m a “better” reader, I say Mark – who remembers every.single.detail. of the things he [sloooowly] reads – is the better reader.) Sometimes, I must admit, my reading speed is helped along by my tendency to skip parts. Boring parts or detailed parts, certain graphic parts, ifyouknowwhatImean. I mean, FINE. Not ALWAYS. But sometimes.
  4. Covers – I absolutely judge books by their covers. Do you hear me, self-pubbed authors??? Even on my Kindle (or, these days, my Kindle app on my phone) I don’t want to borrow or buy books whose covers are completely cheesy or cheap or smutty or silly. Stock photography doesn’t cost THAT much (ahem, self-pubbed authors. TALKING TO YOU.).
  5. Covers, part deux – You know how, when a book is made into a movie, they reprint all the books with a new movie cover? I HATE THAT. I don’t even want to LOOK at it, much less pick it up and read it. I want to imagine how the characters look, not imagine them looking like movie stars! So I will search for an older copy. I mean…you know…assuming I haven’t read that super popular book by the time they make a movie out of it and everyone wants to see the movie and I do too but refuse to watch a movie before reading the book so I have to read the book now. Hypothetically.
  6. Top to bottom – I read every part of a book. The jacket – front, back, inside flaps (both of them). The foreword, the introduction, the dedication, the acknowledgements. Oh, I love acknowledgements! That’s where you really get to know the author. Love those things.
  7. And then there’s non-fiction – You all know I’m lousy with reading classics. I’m pretty bad with non-fiction, too – BUT I WANT TO BE BETTER. I try so hard. How could I not? My friends write non-fiction! I want to write non-fiction! I NEED TO READ NON-FICTION! And so I try. I TRY. And I’m good for about four chapters. It’s always four chapters. Four chapters in, and I know how awesome the book is – but Just. Can’t. Finish. I’m sorry, non-fiction authors. I love you. I love your books. I will finish them all someday. I will. Really. {Current exception to this rule: Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch. I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK, well past four chapters and all the way to the end.}
  8. FINE – Yesterday I tried to pick up a book I’d reserved at the library. Sadly, the computer spit out the words I dread most: USER BLOCKED. Yep. The library had simply given up hope that I’d ever return the three books I checked out in January (JANUARY) and was fining me about $50. And not letting me check out anything new. Jerks. No, no, I kid! They are right to be mad at me. And in case you’re wondering, I returned those three (unfinished) books later in the day. And yes, two were non-fiction. The other one was a massive time travel novel by Stephen King that really was good but HOLY WRIST SPRAIN it was just too long for me to get through right now.
  9. Educational reading – Despite my weakness for them, I’m well aware that romance novels are no good for nobody. HOWEVER. I have learned many things from reading them. NO. NO! Not THAT. I’m talking about history. Would I know anything about the Regency era if not for romance novels? Nope, I would not. And now? Now I know…things. I do. I mean, don’t quiz me. But I know things. HISTORY things.
  10. Browsing and rabbit trails – Several days after Adrienne was born (before I was cleared to drive), my mom offered to take me to the library, just to get out of the house. I appreciated her thinking of me, but was all full up in books right then – and I realized that browsing the shelves at the library is a past-time of the past. While I used to love walking up and down the aisles of the library, looking for a new author or book with a great cover, I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I click and click and click and read and read and read and scroll and scroll and scroll through reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I know that’s dorky and probably seems like a waste of time to some. But for me, it’s my favorite kind of window shopping.

Okay, fellow book nerds…

What {embarrassing} confessions do you have?

 
Oh, and fellow nerds of all kinds, have you seen this video? SO FUNNY. [Click here to see the video, subscribers.]

I’m linking up to List It Tuesday with my friend Angie at Real Life at Home. Photo by Lauren Nelson.

Allergies: The Bane of My Spring Existence

Tips for Dealing with Allergies

For a good part of my life, spring meant two things: music and allergies. In case you’re wondering, a sore and scratchy throat coupled with major congestion does NOT make it easy to sing one’s best.

I thought about this over the past few weeks, as Easter (and spring music contests, based on my friends-with-older-kids’ Facebook posts) came and went. I didn’t have any musical performances on the calendar this year, but I did have a couple of speaking engagements coming up.

And just like every other year, those stupid allergies struck (and stole my voice) just days before I was scheduled to stand up and speak to a group of moms about not being perfect. Somehow, I didn’t think my croaky voice was what any of us had in mind for that.

Allergies: the bane of my spring existence!!

And I’m not alone, either. I don’t even mean the people in my family (who all suffer some form of this springtime torture). According to Visine, about 50 million Americans suffer from allergies (that’s 1 in 5 Americans – yikes!). As a matter of fact, allergy is the fifth leading chronic disease in the U.S. among all ages, and the third most common chronic disease among children under 18 years old.

Side note: If your children under 18 – particularly the younger ones still in that concrete stage of development – ask what they’re allergic to? Don’t say, “everything that grows.” Because you might just find yourself with a little hypochondriac who tells her teacher that playing on the grassy part of the playground will give her hives because she’s allergic to everything that grows and grass grows, that’s why it’s green, and now she has hives even if you can’t see them because SHE HAS ALLERGIES.

*sigh* Go ahead, ask me how I know that one.

Anyway. Allergies suck and eye allergies can be the worst. Except when you need your voice to speak to a group of women who really would rather chat amongst themselves and eat the lukewarm breakfast casserole on the buffet table, but I digress. And really, who wants to look at someone give a presentation while her red eyes are leaking allergy water all over her face?

Nobody, that’s who.

As you might know if you have allergies yourself, they can be seasonal or not – mostly caused by pollen (that evil yellow powder that so thoroughly covers my gray car – AND THE WORLD – this time of year!), pet dander, grass, dust, weeds and mold. I won’t go through that whole list for you, but basically I live in an Allergy Perfect Storm, what with my old house in my old neighborhood and my two cats. (Fine. I went through the whole list. Blame the allergies.)

So when I was asked if I’d like to try VISINE®-A® Eye Allergy Relief Eye Drops, surely you can understand why I said, “Yes, please, now, please.” If allergies bug you like they do me, you should consider these drops, too. Here’s why:

  • VISINE®-A® Eye Allergy Relief Eye Drops temporarily relieve itchy, red eyes due to pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair and dander
  • VISINE®-A® Eye Allergy Relief Eye Drops are clinically proven effective for eye allergy relief
  • VISINE®-A® Eye Allergy Relief Eye Drops combine an antihistamine with a redness reliever to temporarily relieve eye itchiness and redness, helping eyes get back to normal
  • Use one or two drops of VISINE®-A® Eye Allergy Relief Eye Drops throughout the day as needed to treat symptoms, up to four times a day

And if you wear contacts (kudos to you if you can manage that during allergy season! seriously!!), take them out before using the drops and wait 15 minutes before putting them back in.

Now, if you’d like to prevent the allergies from striking and maybe avoid the spring- and fall-time routine of buying eye drops (VISINE, of course), Kleenex, cough drops and other meds in bulk, here are a few tips.

INDOORS:

  • Wash towels, sheets and other linens often
  • Keep windows shut to keep out pollen and other outdoor allergens
  • Vacuum and dust often to reduce indoor allergens, such as dust and pet dander
  • Run the air conditioner or air filter to sift out allergens. Make sure to keep those air filters clean and replace them regularly
  • Put allergy proof covers on pillows, mattresses and comforters to ward off dust mites

OUTDOORS:

  • Check the pollen count before going outside each day – pollen counts tend to be highest 5 – 10AM
  • Shower after being outdoors to remove allergens that may have stuck to you.
  • Do not hang laundry to dry outdoors because allergens can stick to the clothes
  • Glasses and sunglasses act as a barrier or shield to minimize allergens from sticking to your eyes
  • If you prefer to wear contact lenses, choose a daily disposable lens, which can minimize accumulation of allergens as well

You can find more allergy season tips and tricks at the VISINE website.

Do you have allergies? How do you cope or avoid them?

Photo by Robert S. Donovan. This post was sponsored by The Motherhood and VISINE, but all opinions and allergy misery are my own.