Home Friday

Friday's are great. Friday's are supposedly my "day off" to make up for the fact that I work every Sunday. I usually end up needing to go in to the office anyway, even if it's okay for a few hours. But today! I kinda am forced to stay home because they're painting the office and putting new carpet upstairs. So I am staying home! 

Help Me Get Better!

Three things I want to be better at:

1. Drinking more water. This is the worst excuse ever, but the water fountain is really far from my office. So when I finish my first water bottle, I rarely go refill it.

2. Stop pressing snooze. This is a terrible habit that started in middle school. I always set my alarm earlier than needed, with the intention of letting myself press snooze. If I leave myself less wiggle room, maybe I'll get up.

3. Keeping clothes organized as I go. My dresser drawers need organization. My closet has very little order to it- except the stuff I rarely wear has gradually migrated to the back. It wouldn't be such a daunting task if I just kept it all neat as I go.

Any tips on how to reach any of those three things?

Girly Girl

When I was a kiddo, I thought I didn't like being "a girl." Don't get me wrong, I've always been totally fine with my body parts. I just didn't like that being called "girly" was an insult. I didn't like that girly things were pink and glittery and rhinestones and unicorns and Barbies. I just wasn't into that vibe. I liked solid color t-shirts, and brightly colored bike shorts. Yes, I actually went though a phase in which I only wore bike shorts for a year or two.

My aunt understood that being a girly girl was totally not me, so her nickname for me still is "Girly Girl" in an ironic kinda way. It didn't really bother me because she knew the real me. What bothered me is that any grown-up I was meeting for the first time would automatically assume I was girly, simply because I was a girl. Distant uncles would send me a jewelery box for my birthday. Parent's friends at church would tell me they loved my flowery dress, assuming I was enjoying wearing it- hah.

In middle school, I don't think I through of myself as a "girl" much. I didn't date. I didn't wear feminine clothes or act stereotypically girly. I wore striped shirts every day, and didn't listen to popular girly music. My backpack was a solid burgundy Jansport that I made my mom take the logo off of. (Okay Jansports became cool like three years ago but they were NOT cool twelve years ago.) I finally reached a compromise with my mom about church clothes; she wanted me to wear dresses, and I wanted jeans, so we arrived at plain black dressy pants. I was just me, not very feminine, but definitely never really masculine either.

Enter high school- I was friends with all girls who were awesome and adventurous and smart and didn't care about dating much either. We liked learning and practicing music, making stupid music videos, and being all around goobers. I am forever thankful that like 80% of my friends were single at all times in high school. Being a girl was fun, and had nothing to do with the fact that we were girls.

I then attended a women's college. Not a girls' school. I finally began to identify as a "woman," not a "girl," and it became an empowering part of my identity. "Girly" is unfortunately used as an insulting word, but "womanly" is an amazing compliment. Being a woman is strong. Being a woman is smart. Being a woman is resilient. Being a woman is powerful.

If I ever have a daughter, I want her to be proud of the fact that she's a girl, so I will never call her a girl. I will call her my little woman.

Millisecond by Millisecond

Whatever your goal is, you are making progress.

If you truly want to reach that goal, you will. You really will. Or maybe your goals will change or shift or whatever, but you WILL meet goals that are really important to you.

God already knows the exact millisecond you'll accomplish it all.

Every millisecond that passes, you're making progress. You're getting closer. You're gettin it, gurl.

Have a day when you feel like you didn't move forward? Wrong! You gave yourself breathing space. You gave yourself time to reevaluate and remotivate. It's all part of the big picture. You're moving forward. The bumps give you momentum. The setbacks give you detours. The setbacks give you new ideas. Progress is progress, even if maybe it looks backwards.

Vacation Prep

Last Week's Goals
1. Get some rest. (B) I don't really know how to score this one. I was exhausted all week, which I predicted, so I made this goal. I also slept more than usual but didn't quite have enough energy to thrive. 
2. See some friends. (A) I had TWO special outings to see friends, which is highly unusual for me. I saw my high school bestie Kelsey, and we went to a worship night at a church in Marietta. I saw my three camp Besties, Lauren, Anna, and Kelli. We loaded Anna's moving truck and went to the pool. 
3. Eat something extra yummy. (A) Brian and I made a special dinner to celebrate his birthday. Shredded chicken with garlic and Alfredo, wrapped up in crescent rolls. 

This Week's Goals
I feel like I'm copying Kelli in that my goals revolve around getting ready for vacation too! 
1. Get all work done ahead of time. 
2. Stock up some Instagram lettering posts for my calligraphy account.
3. Be smart about cooking and storing food so that we don't waste much when we leave. 

I Remember That

Once again my world is so busy and crazy I'm definitely starting to regret making this blog- oops. But here's a tiny snippet of a story for today. It's about my favorite kid Aiden whom I talk about all the time.

After church, Aiden's dad came to pick him up from Childrens Church. He was showing his dad all the dumb little craft he made, like a paper doll of Joseph and his colorful coat, and a colorful friendship bracelet he would give his little brother.

His dad asked, "Hey buddy, what was the lesson about today? What did you learn?"

Aiden said, "Joseph and his fancy coat."

His dad said, "Oh yeah I remember that!"

Aiden was shocked, "You were ALIVE for that? You KNEW him?!?!?!"

Um, no. Aiden's dad is probably like 35 years old- lolzies. Love my lil buddy Aiden.

High Heels

The first image is from PostSecret.com.
The second image is by me.


Here's a photo I took this week:

I made slime with Elmers glue and tide detergent. 

Three Weird Habits

Three weird habits I have:

1. I rub my feet together back and forth as I fall asleep. I think it's a calming thing that babies and toddlers do, like how they hold their ears. 

2. I sit curled up. At work I alternate between curling my legs to the side or curling them beneath me. I also like crouching/squatting on the ground opposed to actually sitting on the ground. 

3. I put my Deoderant on by reaching through the top of my shirt, not the bottom. I guess when I was a tween who first got Deoderant, I didn't think about it very hard, and now the habit stuck. 

What weird habits do you have? My husband always imitates noises he hears, like sirens or thuds or thunder. My dad always says fanTASTic about anything remotely good. 

Try Again Now

When I was a dummy I thought it was fine fine fine to give up and "try again later." To reschedule. To put it off. 

I'm getting better at "trying again now." And it sucks because it's hard and frustrating but then finally you get it and you're proud. 

Just Step Forward

When you make mistakes, you aren't stupid.
When you take several tries to do something, you're not a loser.
If you haven't accomplished it yet, that doesn't mean your progress is worthless.

If you're heading towards a goal, but take a few steps back, you can make up for it by just stepping forward. Value every step forward. No matter how small, progress is progress.

Giving It A Rest

Last Week was a total busy disaster. Work was extra crazy, flooding twice. And I had to help Brian with a weekend-long camp so I wasn't home for two days.  I ain't got time for this crap.

Last Week's Goals
1. Get all work done by Thursday night. (A) I practically died in the process. I worked about 200% of what I normally do in a week. But I did it.
2. Catch up on lettering challenges, even the weekend. (B) I kinda did this, but couldn't post much when I was helping Brian run a camp in the middle of nowhere. 
3. Organize my junk. (F) Didn't even attempt it. But I did just buy a 10-drawer plastic organizer. That should help when it arrives.

Next Week's Goals
1. Get some rest.
2. See some friends.
3. Eat something extra yummy.

First Bibles

This morning I taught third grade Sunday school. As is traditional in many many churches, the church gifts Bibles to all the third graders at the beginning of the school year, and today happened to be "Third Grade Bible Sunday." The kids were all dressed up in puffy dresses and clip-on ties. It was adorable. 

Anyway, the Sunday School lesson was obviously focused on getting to know the Bible. We played a ton of games using index cards with the books of the Bible (racing to sort the books into Old and New Testaments, racing to put them in order, racing to count how many total, etc.) 

We played a little bit of trivia and their answers were hilarious. 

Q: What language was the Old Testament written in originally?
A: Jewish!

Q: What language was the New Testament written in originally?
A: English or Spanish, I can't remember. 

Q: Which is bigger and longer, Old Testament or New Testament?
A: Palms (that's not a typo, they literally said Palms)

Q: When was the Old Testament written?
A: 500 years ago

Q: When was the New Testament written?
A: When Jesus was born. 

The Universe

The first image is from Postsecret.
The second image is by me.

Candy Addict

It's Friday! Woohoo! I hope this photo brings you happy feelings. There ain't nothing like getting TWO PINKS!!!!

Sweet Potato Tots

Three things I learned while making sweet potato tots tonight.

1. Sweet potatoes cook WAY faster boiled than baked. Whenever I've tried to bake them I loose patience. Boiling then took 13 minutes. 
2. Grating a sweet potato hurts. It was so well cooked that my fingers were going right against the cheese grater. I should have undercooked the potato OR used a food processor. 
3. Frying sucks. We thought we would be adventurous and fry them, even though we don't have a deep fryer. We burnt our first five tries before we finally got it right and made some bigger batches. 

Your Day

When I was a dummy, I thought that bad things make you have a bad day.
When I was a dummy, I thought you needed good things to happen to have a good day.

Your attitude determines if you perceive your day as good or bad.

Your car dies, you spill your coffee, you find out your bff is really sick... but you still have a roof over your head and you got to talk to your grandma on the phone? That can be a good day. You don't have to ignore the bad stuff but just revel in the good.

You ate a delicious lunch and your coworkers were extra friendly and traffic was extra light... but you're mad that it's Monday and you are too tired to cook dinner? You just made yourself a bad day. It coulda been a good one.

Bad stuff doesn't make bad days.

Common Side Effects

Everybody has days when they might feel tired. That's just a side effect of being productive.

Everybody has days when they feel nostalgic. That's just a side effect of having awesome past experiences.

Everybody has days when they don't feel like they don't measure up to others. That's just a side effect of being surrounded by amazing inspiring people.

Everybody has days when they make mistakes. That's just a side effect of learning and improving and trying new things.

Everybody has days when they feel anxious. That's just a side effect of being thoughtful and aware of possibilities ahead.

Everybody has days when you feel the weight of overwhelming sadness in this big world. That's just a side effect of loving your neighbor as yourself.

Too Crazy To Handle

The past two days have been absolutely crazy. Kickoff Sunday at church had twice as many children as a usual Sunday, and I came home and crashed with exhaustion. When I woke from my nap I saw several missed calls from Brian- he had been in TWO fender-benders. Neither was his fault, but it still sucks sucks sucks. Then I did the grocery shopping by myself to try to have a nice surprise ready for him when he got home... and I bought bread from the bakery instead of the regular bread section. This morning we awoke to an outrageous ant infestation, because apparently bakery bread is not sealed very well. Then I got to work, and one entire building is completely destroyed by water damage. The ceiling tiles, the carpets, tons of electronics, thousands of dollars of curriculum I'd already spent hours sorting by grade and date. I didn't cry, but... I could have. I spent the whole day playing defense against the crumbling building, and then tried to get some work done out in a classroom trailer, but without a computer so it's extremely limiting. Then I got home and spent an hour on the phone with the bank, not for an emergency but just finally changing my name and putting Brian as a joint account holder, and getting us both new debit cards. So I'm totally exhausted and I don't to make any goals for this week or rate my goals from last week. But there's power in making yourself do what you don't wanna. SO here goes:

Last Week's Goals:
1. Clean this apartment. (B-) I cleaned the bathroom thoroughly, and the kitchen pretty well. I just didn't vacuum the living spaces but we'll survive.
2. Power through the extra work. (A) Oh my gosh I'm dying at work. There's still so much to do, and I gotta keep powering through til about Labor Day. Wish me luck. 
3. Find some lettering challenged, and keep them up. (B) I found three, and I kept them up until yesterday and today. I'll try to catch up.

This Week's Goals:
1. Get all work done by Thursday night. This one's going to be tricky, but not impossible. I have SO much to do, and the work just piled on with the flooding situation this morning. But Friday and Saturday I told Brian I'd help out with a major work function he's organizing, and I want to keep that promise. 
2. Catch up on lettering challenges, even the weekend. I'm already a day behind, and I won't have my lettering gear with me on Friday and Saturday. So I need to work in advance and hold posts. 
3. Organize my junk. When we first moved into our apartment, I had nicely purged away lost of junky stuff. But it's already accumulating again! I need to get rid of more craft supplies to make room for my lettering stuff, and find a better way to organize the office. 

Burning Destinos

I was flipping though Facebook to find old photos for Storytime Sunday, and came across a little annual tradition my friends had. Pardon the terrible quality photos that were taken in low light with my 3.2 megapixel camera in 2007.

My pal Alex had a fire pit in her back yard, and every June we would grab all our old school work, burn it, and make s'mores. Our friend group was made up of all the nerdy types and we had mountains of history notes, chemistry problem sets, and Spanish tests. Well actually most of my friends took Chinese instead of Spanish but whatever. 

I came across this next photo on Facebook and DIED laughing and had to tell Brian all about it, and that sealed the deal that I needed to write about it here.

(About half the people I know call me Kay Rogers, a nickname that started in elementary school. So that make confuse some of you who know me as Kirby Rogers Darden.)
In tenth grade, Spanish class was called Culture and Speaking class, which was awesome because we had way way way less emphasis on grammar and vocab. Instead we had to memorize and perform songs and dances, cook an authentic dish for bi-weekly pot lucks, and recite speeches into microphones for the teacher to record and grade later. So honestly I really didn't take it too seriously.

There was a unit in which we spent weeks watching a soap opera called Destinos. We loved/hated it. I guess we sarcastically pretended to love it, and then the hype actually wore on us, and we would actually talk about it at lunch, like, "What do you think will happen next?" It's about some lawyer who was trying to uncover the hidden secret of a dying rich old man. I don't remember any specifics except one super intense scene when the lawyer was getting off the elevator just as the villain was stepping in, but she wasn't on his tail yet so she had no idea. 

Okay anyway. Look at that test that's burning above. I got -53 points, so my score was a 47. Then my folklore singing extra credit got me up to a 58... still majorly failing. Embarrassing that I failed a test about a soap opera, but even more embarrassing that as a tenth grader I wanted to broadcast it online for the world to see! And now I'm re-broadcasting it because about ten years have passed so I'm definitely over it. 

I, Kay Rogers, failed a Spanish test, and then I went on to become Kirby Rogers and attend a good college and pass more Spanish classes, and then graduate and become Kirby Darden. Life is good.


The first image is made by someone else, posted on PostSecret.com.
The second image is by me, inspired by the first.


Several weeks ago I wrote about wanting a niece or nephew. Well my sibling and friends still haven't come through on that for me. BUT last Saturday I got to meet my friend's nephew for the first time. Paige's nephew Geaham was the happiest baby ever, at least for the two-and-a-half hours we were chillin together. We played with a drink koozie.
*Pretending like I have my own nephew.* *Weirding out the parents, whom I'd only met once before.*

Three Things I Say Every Day

I share an office with two co-workers. We work together to make the children's ministry world go round, and sometimes we speak in our own language. Here are some things we regularly say, and what they really mean:

1. Sunday's coming. Basically our lives revolve around Sunday. It really does take our three full-time jobs and about 40 volunteers each Sunday to make Sunday happen at our big church. Whenever we're stressed out about something other than a Sunday, like vacation bible school or whatever, we say "Sunday's Coming," kinda as a way to encourage ourselves and freak out ourselves.

2 . Welcome back! Whenever we walk back in the office (even just after a restroom break) we yell "welcome back!" at each other. It's such a little thing but it really does make the office a little happier to walk in to.

3. Hot Dog, Hot Dog. This is inspired by the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme Song. We have a toy microphone that plays the song and we take frequent 20 second dance breaks. It's childish and goofy and helps up stay focused on the fact that our jobs should be joyful and centered on the kiddos.

Comfort Zones

So it's 10:15 pm and I just got in bed and said aloud, "oh crap I forgot my blog post." So this is written hastily on my phone while Brian brushes his teeth and I get snuggled in the covers. 

I've been doing a lot of thinking about comfort zones lately. It sounds like such a good thing. Comfort, cozy, happy, yay. But actually they're such a crutch. I'm finding I shouldn't live my life in the comfort zone and just sporadically venture out of it. I should live my life pushing myself to try new things, and only retreat back to the comfort zone when I really need it, like if my stress levels get up to an 8 or 9. I'm learning to make myself view moderate stress levels (6 or 7) as tolerable, regular, good for me, and not a reason to freak out. 

Yes I rate my stress levels. Subjective Units of Distress help this happy little math major turn anxiety into numbers.  Try it; it's weirdly satisfying.

When I was a dummy I arrived to retreat to my comfort zone. Now I'm challenging myself to reserve the comfort zone for the extreme occasion. It kinda sucks and it kinda rocks. 

Stay Stubborn

I'm pretty stubborn about refusing to do stuff that I don't want to do. Generally I'm not stubborn in arguments or opinions or whatever, but I am very stubborn against myself. If you can relate, this post may be some encouragement for you. 

Stay stubborn. Stuck to your guns. Decide something and then NEVER go back on it. Let that thing be something productive. 

Confession- I've been stubbornly avoiding a heck of a lot of stuff. I'm an expert procrastinator. And last week I had a little revelation about going ahead and doing the stuff instead of letting it give me anxiety. I know it seems elementary. But if you are anxious about making a certain phone call or something, the longer you wait, the longer you feel anxious. 

So stop letting yourself be stubborn about avoidance. Make yourself be stubborn about running headstrong into the challenge. Take THAT, anxiety! 

Power Through

Last Week's Goals
1. Prep for Teacher Training. (A) it went great! Now I'm swamped with paperwork to say that they're all certified and background checked. 
2. Don't go to work on Friday or Saturday. (F) I forgot I had to be at the middle school lock-in Friday night, so I went to work for about 4 hours. 
3. Clean up the office and desk. (C) I cleaned it and it looked great... and now it looks just as terrible as before. Whoops!

This Week's Goals
1. Clean this apartment. I'm getting fed up by the little dirty things I haven't had time to tidy.
2. Power through the extra work. Today was grueling at work, and I barely made a dent in the big to-do list. I don't want to get too discouraged; I just wanna power though. 
3. Find some lettering challenged, and keep them up. I am obsessed with calligraphy now, so this will be pretty fun. 

Summer Stitches

I'm feeling a little nostalgic for summer camp right now, so here's a camp story!

In 2012, I was on Support Staff, meaning I worked behind the scenes and didn't have any campers of my own. The camp nurse found me and told me there was a girl hurt on a trail, and she had one counselor waiting with her. I needed to go find them and help the counselor carry her to the car.

I drove the Gator as far up the trail as possible so that we could carry her the least distance possible. When I found them, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was one of my past campers! And she wasn't terribly awfully hurt; she just had a big gash on her knee from tripping on a rock.

I got her back to the nurse, who decided I should take the girl to the ER for stitches. While I was on the phone with the camper's mom explaining the situation and trying to get her insurance info, the nurse was trying to find another support staff to go with me to the ER. For safety/liability issues we have to have two adults traveling with a camper. Whatever. She found Ben who was gonna go with me. Ben is a very hilarious person.

The camper Kaylee was glad I was with her because she's kinda shy and she remembered me from two years ago. She did not know Ben but he quickly changed that. We loaded up in an old janky minivan with weirdly plush seats, and we pretended it was a spaceship the whole time. We made up astronaut nicknames for each other and used those names the whole time.  Kaylee was awesome and brave and didn't cry when she got three stitches on her knee. She even got to talk to her mom on the phone, which is not something campers are ever allowed to do because it makes homesickness worse.

Of course, I wasn't actually the one getting stitches, but I'd say that for the three of us it was probably the most fun ER trip anyone in the world has every had. We stopped at Dairy Queen before returning to camp, and we swore Kaylee to secrecy. Teaching them good morals, hah! We took the spaceship back to camp and she had an awesome gross knee to show her friends. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the best part of her week.

Candy Addict

The first image is from PostSecret. 
The second image is by me. 

Pointed Pen

So for photo Friday its only appropriate that I share a photo of what's been most prevalent in my life this week. So that's definitely the calligraphy pens and inks that Brian got me on Wednesday! I've been spending like three hours a day massing with them. Immediately obsessed. 
First attempts above. 
Later attempt below. 
If you aren't already following my progress on Instagram, take a looksie at @whateverletters. Thanks! 

Three Favorite Pizzas

Can you tell I'm just really craving pizza? Today is spaghetti night at our house which isn't wway too different from pizza... but still. I want pizza. These are my three favorite pizza combinations:

1. Barbecue Chicken Pizza. When I was a kid I would ask for no onions. Biggest and most prolonged mistake of my life.
image from the pioneer woman

2. Hawaiian Pizza. I'm just here for the pineapple. Brian hates it though so it's become a very rare treat.
image from afterdinnerdance

3. Margherita Pizza. Tomatoes in lieu of sauce just make me really appreciate the flavors a lot more. It's not as heavy, just perfectly magical.
image from recipe treaseure


When I was a dummy, I hated all vegetables. As a kid the only vegetable's I'd tolerate were carrots and lima beans. My parents would send me to my room since I'd refuse my vegetables. No dessert, no snacks, just staying in my rom until bedtime. I threw a fit every time, but in my kid point of view, it was totally worth it to get away from the greens.

In college when I was trying to teach myself to like salad, I'd get iceberg lettuce from the salad bar and cover it in dressing and shredded carrots. I specifically remember Brian and I bonded early on in our relationship with a conversation that went something like this:
"Yeah I can tolerate salad... but I don't enjoy it."
"I don't understand how people can eat salad for a whole meal."
"Why do people order salads at restaurants."
"If I were to force myself to eat an enormous salad, I'd still be hungry as if I'd eaten nothing."

Lol. Dummies.
Now we plan to eat salads weekly for our whole dinner. Romaine or spinach or a spring mix. When we go to restaurants, we often order salads, or at least the healthy side. We don't drench our salads with dressing. In fact, I always order dressing on the side because I kinda prefer to taste the lettuce itself. What have I become??? A healthier individual, that's what.
We cook peas or green beans with almost every meal. It's so easy to use the $1 frozen bags from Kroger. And vegetables taste better now probably just because I don't think about them so much. I don't build them up as a 100 foot wall that's keeping me from dessert. It's just a veggie, and it makes my body feel good, and I like finding ways to spice them up to taste awesome. End of story.


Maybe you had an unproductive day. Maybe you've been feeling sad or stuck or anxious.

But you aren't only that. Every situation has an AND. There's good and bad everywhere. It's not just black and white.

I realized that today. I've been avoiding some stuff because I know it'll make me anxious. But thinking back, some of the most anxious things have also been the things I enjoy most. (Take Mission Week at church a couple weeks ago, as an easy example). There's an AND in there. There is good and bad. I can enjoy things that also terrify me.

Let's pretend it's your grandmother's birthday today, but she passed away a few years ago. You don't have to only feel sad. You're not bound to that one emotion. There's an AND. You can be happy about her memories and the life she led. The happiness and sadness don't negate each other.

Let's say you got in an argument with your dad, sure. Maybe you feel distraught or angry or guilty or whatever kind of bad things. But there's an AND. You can feel motivated and sure of yourself or open-minded.

Embrace the AND. Be all of it.

Two Track Mind

Last Week's Goals

1. Get a new driver's license. (F) I ended up not having any days off work, so... this didn't work out. 
2. Go to the pool twice. (B-) I went once.
3. Eat veggies every day. (B) I think I did this but I cant totally remember.

This Week's Goals
I've been only zoning in on work lately, and I've let home life slip. I finally cleaned the toilet and it was gross. I've been relying on Brian to do more than half the household chores which I shouldn't make into a habit.
1. Prep for Teacher Training. I have to make a big presentation to all the volunteers to get them ready for the school year.
2. Don't go to work on Friday or Saturday. Fridays and Saturdays are supposed to be my "weekend" but I actually haven't taken them off the past two go-rounds. I running on low.
3. Clean up the office and desk. It's where I do all my lettering and watercolors, and it s a total disaster zone. 

Bachelorette Auditions

One time I went to the auditions for The Bachelorette. Okay I din't go audition myself, but I tagged along with my good friend who was single at the time. She's really pretty and really smart so I truly believed she had a shot at sparking their interest. But also she's very level-headed so that'd surely make them pass. I just wanted to see it all. This was in late summer of 2014 but I'm guessing it's still very similar to this day.

We arrived at the address. It was a local Atlanta news station and there were handwritten posters with handwritten arrows saying, "Bachelor Auditions This Way." Honestly it was kinda sketchy that they couldn't shell out a few extra dollars for printed signs. It looked like the pep rally signs that cheerleaders make in high school, real cutesy, probably by a summer intern.

We had to park on the street and pay for it, and walk about five minutes following the signs to get to the entrance. There were security guards with metal detectors and they checked our purses. Once about ten people had made it to security, someone from ABC walked us back through a maze of hallways to a large room. Part of the room had rows of chairs like a waiting room, part of the room had tables to fill out the paperwork, and part of the room was ABC staff just doing their stuff, like a photo backdrop for headshots and some stacks of paper and stuff. Honestly it was not very well organized.

So we walked in wearing our normal everyday clothes, and there was no indication of what we were supposed to do, and nobody talked to us for about a solid minute. I guess the ABC interns were just chatting away, I dunno. Eventually someone was like, "Sign in here, and fill out this packet." So she signed in, put on a name tag, and started filling out the questionnaire.

There is no way they actually read those questionnaires. The questions were so dumb, like "What's your dream vacation?" "Do you have any tattoos?" Very few of them had substance. They did cover some important topics too though, like "Do you have children?" "Describe your relationship with your parents." I bet they don't pay attention the the questionnaire until they've already narrowed it down to about 100 girls, because it was pretty long and boring. I stole one of the pens that said "The Bachelor" on it, but it was the very cheapest most terrible quality, probably because they anticipated everyone takes them.

We finished the packet, turned it in, and sat in the waiting room area. We knew when they called her name they'd take her headshot, take her to interview, and bring her back. We waited about thirty minutes and observed as much as we could. Most of the girls were wearing way cute clothes, like minidresses and high heels and a hairdo that probably took and hour. My friend was wearing normal clothes, like a cute summery skirt, and a tank top, and a chambray shirt. They told her to take off her outer layer for her headshot. They took her to a back room for her interview and I waited.

Alone in the waiting room and feeling out of place, I noticed someone on ABC staff talking for a long time to one of the auditioners. The staff person was like, "I'm so glad you came out to meet us!" And the woman was like, "I'm so glad you called! I didn't even know this was going on!" So I got a glimpse of the hand-picked thing. I wonder if they don't even consider the people who walk in off the street if they haven't already gotten a phone call tip off about them. I tried so hard to study the girl's face to then know if she became a contestant, but I don't remember a thing about her.

When she returned, she said it was kinda pointless. She interviewed with three people, and they seemed disinterested. They essentially just repeated the same questions, asked about her job and education and family, and asked a couple "how would you react if...." questions. Then they said bye and we never heard from them again.

Remote Robbery

This image is by someone anonymous on PostSecret.

My reaction:

Rainy Driver

One of the worst things is driving in heavy rain at night. When you can't see the lines on the road, and can only see the lights of the cars around you, I totally freak out.

This week we were driving in a downpour. It wasn't even dark yet but I was super thankful that my husband isn't bothered by rainy driving. 

Here's a couple photos for Foto Friday! 

Three Movies

My absolute favorite movies:

1. Elf- The only Will Ferrel movie I like. I love Christmas and I love kids' movies and I love ridiculous awkward goofy scenes and quick jokes where you could choke on your popcorn.

2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding- This is a landslide favorite in my family. My siblings and parents and I can quote the whole thing. We love the "bundt cake" line and the "inside the lump was my twin" quote and "that's okay I'll make lamb" joke, so basically we just love Aunt Voula.

3. 13 Going On 30- Cutest movie ever. Since it came out when I was a teenager I could still kinda relate to the dorky 13-year-old. It's just so cute and it's a feel-good-movie that actually accomplishes that goal. Also in 12th grade I made friends with a foreign exchange student from South Korea, and we made her watch it for the first time, and she did not stop giggling the entire time.

Terrible terrible terrible movies that are worth a laugh:

1. Christian Mingle- its about a girl who pretends to be a Christian so she can date a guy she met on Christian Mingle. The whole time you dislike all the characters. Basically everyone is portrayed as selfish- the lead guy, lead girl, their family, their friends... it's awful.

2. LOL - This movie stars Miley Cyrus and it is titled perfectly. You will LOL at how awful it is. It has the dumbest plot, I honestly googled to check if Miley Cyrus actually wrote the screenplay herself. If seems like a teenage girl really did just imagine some movie in which she has such a hard time choosing between lots of hot guys while she fights with her mom.

3. Transformers 4 - My husband is watching this movie right now as I type, and it is very uninteresting. But it did inspire this blog post so that's one way it's improved my life I guess.

Don't Mess With Alaska

My parents recently got back from Alaska, and they mentioned this t-shirt they saw for sale:
The joke reminded me of something I used to not understand. I was such a dummy. I remember in first grade our teacher asked the class what the biggest state was. We all guessed incorrectly. A lot of us guessed Georgia, which shows how the world revolves around a 1st grader.  The teacher pulled down the classroom map and asked us again, "Which state is largest?"
We still couldn't figure it out. We were so frustrated that she repeatedly insisted "Texas" and "California" were incorrect answers. It took her a long time to tell us the correct answer. Alaska. And we totally didn't understand. Look at the map- Alaska is way smaller than Texas and Nebraska.

Literal takeaway: when I was a dummy I didn't understand scales on maps.
Figurative takeaway: when I was a dummy I couldn't zoom out, take criticism, and see the bigger picture.

Really Okay

I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel really overwhelmed. Big things a little things equally overwhelm me, just depending on the day and what else is going on in life.

But in hindsight, it's all okay. I'm always okay. Even the really most terrible, overwhelming, life-paralyzing things.... eventually we're all okay.

I was totally overwhelmed and intimidated by hosting daycamp last week, but I did it and I'm okay now. I was totally overwhelmed and practically paralyzed with fear when I had to take a lifeguarding test at age 17 and 19. But I survived and I'm okay.

Even if it really was as awful as you thought it'd be... you end up okay. Okay? You'll be okay.

Simple Goals

Last Week's Goals:
Last week was crazy. Exhausting. Stressful. Fun. And now Mission Week is over... For the next year.
1. Don't get sunburnt, and don't let kids get sunburnt. (B) I got sunburnt on one shoulder, but none of the kids got burnt badly. 
2. Eat breakfast everyday. (B) I did eat everyday but it was like... peanut butter crackers and a granola bar. So not great. 
3. Go to bed by 9:30. (A+) Yeah I was asleep by 9 or earlier every day.

This week's Goals:
Keeping it simple!

1. Get a new driver's license. I finally got a new social security card with my new last name. Gotta get the license to match. Then I gotta let my bank and insurance and workplace know... gosh its a never-ending process.
2. Go to the pool twice. Summer is ending. I'm so sad. I'm also so pale. 
3. Eat veggies every day. I got real bad last week. I planned junk food for the kids for lunch every day so that they wouldn't complain, but that mean I had to eat it too! I don't even like hot dogs and pizza and chicken nuggets that much, ugh. Wasted greasy calories. 

Undercover Adult

One of the advantages I have at my job is that I look super young. Small stature, adult acne, sloppy fashion choices, and round cheeks always throw people off. Most of my kids assume I'm just a high school kid, about 16 or 17, and they're always surprised when I mention my husband or when I clarify that I already graduated from college.

Last week I spent a lot of time with a lot of pre-teens. And let me tell you, these kids can talk each others' ears off. But when it comes to adults they are so closed off. They do not want their parents to know who they have a crush on. They do not want their teachers to know that they secretly watched a PG-13 movie. They do not want adults to know that they stole an extra bag of chips or they secretly brought a bottle of gatorade on the rental bus.

But kids sometimes forget that I'm not a kid. I play their dumb "down by the banks" time wasting games, and I listen to their long stories about how one time they saw their friend do something. I ask them about their pets and their siblings and their birthday and their favorite jello flavor and what they wish their middle name was. And suddenly in their eyes I'm totally a kid. And they'll tell me opinions and stories and secrets and eventually my ears fall off. But in the meantime I get a lot of laughs and smiles.

Some awesome quotes from this week:

"I don't like TV shows with killing. Or maybe I do, I'm just not allowed to try it out yet."

"Would you like pepperoni or cheese pizza?" "Do you have mushroom, peppers, olives, and sausage?"

"You never call on my for my answer!" "Okay go ahead." "I forgot."

"I'm sorry this story I'm telling you is taking so long."

"I was born from a panda."

"Thomas lost his little sister so I left him alone to find her."

"Can I have a fourth hot dog?" "You were allowed two." "Can I have my second second second hot dog?"

Helpers and Runners

The first image is from PostSecret.com. The second image is by me, inspired by the first.

Kids on a Mission

For Foto Friday I obviously thought I should share some pictures from Mission Week. This whole week has been an exhastingly packed-full week of mission projects for our 4th and 5th graders at church. We were so busy I stopped taking pictures by Tuesday😂

Monday morning we packed lunch bags for the homeless. But first we decorated the bags with Bibke verses and cute pictures. 
Monday afternoon we visited a community of adults with special needs. We played Bingo, volleyball, and karaoke. The kids were scared out of their minds at first but then loved it! I think it was the most meaningful and impactful activity of the whole week! 

Tuesday morning we went to a local park where they have an outdoor classroom for schools to use. We raked leaves, pulled weeds, and spread new mulch. 

Tuesday afternoon we went to an animal shelter. We gave dogs baths and walks. We cleaned their cages and played with brand new puppies. 

Then I stopped taking pictures. 

Wednesday we packed sack lunches and brought them to a mobile home neighborhood and gave the lunches to kids. Our kids were aggressive and competitive about giving out the lunches. Typical. 

Wednesday afternoon we set up all the tables and chairs and tablecloths for our own church's Wednesday Night Supper. 
Thursday morning we sanitized some old furniture around church. 

Thursday afternoon we visited a local retirement home and played card games. We taught some old ladies how to play Apples to Apples (Disney version) and they loved it, hah! 

Friday, today, we didn't do any mission projects; we just spent the day at a water park. The kids had a blast and I got sunburnt. Whatever. 

Three Little Pipe Dreams

Dreamy luxurious things I'd like to try one day:

1. Get a professional massage. I love back massages. So much. In high school marching band, my best friend Stephanie and I would rub water bottles on each other's back during long bus rides. Is that weird? Yeah? Ok sorry.

2. Visit a fancy winery. I've only been to a winery once and I was only twelve, hah! My parents did a wine tasting, but my brother and sister and I just ate pretzels and were bored out of our minds. I think it'd be better this time around.

3. Fly first class. I wonder if it's really like the movies. It seems like a different world from coach seats.

I Hate Reading

I like to say "I hate reading." It makes many people cringe, and it feels kinda true to me. I think I've realized I don't hate reading in general, I just unapologetically hate reading anything that's not interesting.

I liked Harry Potter, I liked The Hunger Games (even though I've recently had a serious of nightmares about them) and I like reading blogs and social media and fluffy stuff. I hated reading for school, and I hate reading through redundant curriculums I have to sort out. Bla bla bla.

I came to this revelation through watching TV snd movies. I've recently become really outspoken about admitting, "I don't want to finish this movie," and, "This is too scary for me," and "I don't want to watch any more episodes," and "This isn't funny at all." I'm turning into a TV snob I guess. But I would never let those things convince me that I don't like TV or movies.

So why did I let myself believe I don't like reading, just based on all the readings I disliked? Because high school literature class picks the most awful boring books as required reading, and I totally gave up pleasure reading by elementary school.

Anyway, I don't hate reading. I just am picky and only like reading fluff pieces that make me happy.

Caught Between

Do you ever feel like you've done something not-so-great and you need to make up for it by doing good? You're caught in the in-between, in some sort of weird motivating guilt trip.  Here's a beautiful song that perfectly conveys that feeling:

You do good all the time. So many good things come from your existence. You don't have to feel guilty about the bad stuff and mistakes (because you are wholly forgiven by an all-powerful God) and you don't need a guilt trip. Your motivation is your good heart. And that's stinkin awesome of you.

Mission Monday

Last Week's Goals:
1. Post twice a day on @whateverletters Instagram. (A) Did it. Still loving this side project.
2. Letter envelopes. (A) Sent them off on Friday
3. Get up at 7am each day. (A) I had basically no choice. It was a cray week and this week will be more cray.

This Week's Goal's:
Every Monday is called "Mission Monday" on this blog, where I go over my mission for the week and discuss whether last week's mission was accomplished. But this week in particular is aptly named Mission Monday because it's the start of Mission Week at church. I'm taking 20 preteens on two mission-themed field trips every single day. I might die, or I might not. We'll see.
1. Don't get sunburnt, and don't let kids get sunburnt. We're doing a lot of projects outside. When I was a camp counselor, it was a terrible sin to let your kids get sunburnt, because it loses the trust of parents. 
2. Eat breakfast everyday. I know I'm going to be rushing out the door and constantly preoccupied. 
3. Go to bed by 9:30. Seriously our week is going to be exhausting and I think this will be an easy goal. 

Lame Pranks

Senior year of college, the few and mighty math majors decided we were total pranksters! But also we were lame goody-two-shoes, so our pranks were awfully lame.

A photo posted by Kirby Darden (@kirby.darden) on

After we scattered the toys, we started to worry that they would think it was kinda a throw-away prank, and they might pick up the beanie babies and take them to Goodwill. (In hindsight, of course they wouldn't do that the very same day.) Anyway, to make sure that didn't happen we left a forged not from the college president, saying, "Hey guys, thanks for agreeing to petsit today. I'll be back tonight to pick them up."

Another terribly lame prank we did....
The college started encouraging each department to organize once-a-month lunches where professors and students would meet up together in the dining hall. They were pretty fun since the professors in our department were friendly and funny. A week before an upcoming Math Lunch, we decided it would be so totally hilarious to send out professors formal looking invitations inviting them to the luncheon, "black tie optional." We got their early, laid out tablecloths, lit candles, and put out fancy place cards. Our professors did not want to give us the satisfaction of a job-hilariously-done so they ignored everything the whole time! We were dying laughing.

Small college perks: 6 professors taking their 7 graduates out for dinner.


The first image is from postsecret.com.
The second image is by me, in response to the first.

Well That's Embarrassing

The only picture I took this week, other than a bunch of doodling that's already posted on my second Instagram....

Donut holes. Blueberry Dunkin Donut Munchkins. What does that say about my priorities?!

Three Things- Am I Normal?

These are three things that make me wonder, "Is that okay? Am I normal? Do other people deal with this too?"

1. My eyes water when I drink carbonation and when I sneeze. Sprite especially makes me cry, and it's part of why I've almost entirely given up drinking carbonated beverages. One time I had a sneezing fit, sneezed about eight times in a row, and then someone saw me and asked, "Are you okay?" because they thought I'd been crying. Nope, just sneezed. 

2. I talk to myself, and it kinda feels like I do it a lot more than someone should. When driving alone in the car, half of the time the radio is off, and half of that time I'm talking aloud with myself. Sometimes re-imagining old conversations, sometimes telling a story to remember it later for a blog post, sometimes reviewing my to-do list. 

3. My feet are always either cold or sweaty. There is no in-between. I have to choose every day between being gross (wearing socks and shoes, muggy with sweaty feet) or being frigid (wearing sandals or ballet flats, toes turning blue). I usually go for socks and shoes, but then at the end of the day my sweaty feet get stuck in my skinny jeans and I have a tough time peeling them off. But it's the lesser of two evils. 

Reason or Excuse

I used to think reasons and excuses were virtually interchangeable.

"I'm late because there is bad traffic." is not a good excuse; it's just a reason.

Mistakes, lack of planning, forgetfulness, laziness, etc... those are just reasons, and it's a shame to use them as excuses. They're just slip-ups, and instead of using them as a cover up, I should use them as a lesson learned.

Real excuses are respectable and unavoidable: sickness, family emergency, severe weather, basically just acts-of-God kinda stuff. They're rare, understandable, and real respectable excuses.

Don't let reasons become faux excuses. Don't accept other people's reasons as faux excuses.

P.S. Thus really sounds like a sub-tweet but it really is unrelated to anything going on in my life right now, hah! Just a general observation since we're watching Master Chef right now and everybody's making "excuses" out of little reasons.

Not Even Surprised

Today I'm in the middle of one of those awesome days, when you get to work and think, "Holy cow I have way too much stuff to do," and then you start working, and four hours later you're amazed at what you've gotten done. So now I'm breaking for lunch and super proud of myself and genuinely surprised at how much is done already.

But the thing is... other people who know and love you are totally not surprised on those days. People who are in your corner, cheering you on, always by your side, they knew the whole time you can do SO much more than you think. So stop even being surprised. Just know it, own it, do it.

In a recent episode of New Girl, Nick keeps cutting himself down and making fun of himself, as the "stepping stone" boyfriend that helps women eventually realize they actually deserve better. And Nick's friend Jess was like, "Stop it! You actually are awesome! People date you because they like you and you're an important person!"

Realize how awesome you are. You should never be surprised when you manage to pull of something impressive.

Totally random stock photo I thought was amusing: