the "florkens"

October 25, 2016

40 by 40

My 30th birthday recently came and went. Unlike a lot of people, I was really looking forward to turning thirty. Honestly. I had zero anxiety about getting older or about entering my thirties. On the contrary, I am quite looking forward to the next decade. Over the next ten years, I get to grow as a wife and mother. I am also in a job that I adore and I cannot wait to see what my career looks like by the time 40 rolls around. 

For my birthday this year, my co-workers put together some "words of wisdom" for me to use over the next decade. One co-worker in particular suggested I make a 40 by 40 list and try really hard to finish it. After I started working on the list, Adam further suggested that I break the list down by how complicated or costly a particular task was in order to have the best chance of successfully completing everything. In other words, if I saved all the most expensive and difficult things for the last few years, I wouldn't probably be able to do them all. So, after much thought, I have finished my list AND have divided it into Four Levels. Level 1 being the least costly and least complicated tasks and Level 4 being the most. If I strive to complete 4 tasks a year -- one from each Level --  then I will be on track to realistically complete all 40 by the time I'm 40. 
In the spirit of staying on track, I thought I'd post my list -- just to memorialize it for everyone to see (and to keep me accountable). Here's to the next decade y'all. This should be fun! 

Level 1:
1. Find and regularly participate in a local nonprofit cause/organization
2. Write a (good) short story or novel
3. Attend service at a house of worship of a religion I am not familiar with
4.  Read 3 “classics” I haven’t read before
5.  Keep a garden alive for one full season
6. Wear (and rock) red lipstick
7.  Put a wild color streak(s) in my hair (even if temporary)
8.  Perfect a homemade biscuit recipe
9. Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
10. Write a letter to myself that I can read at 50

Level 2:
11. Go 48 hours without technology
12.  Get a Holland related tattoo
13.  Go zip lining
14. Write/Send letters to 3 mentors who have impacted my life
15. Participate in a podcast
16. Ride a horse again
17.  Take a dance lesson
18.  Renew wedding vows
19.  Purchase and display original artwork from a local artist
20. Visit a fortune teller or psychic

Level 3:
21.  Curate and maintain a stylish and versatile wardrobe that compliments my body type
22. Walk the red carpet at an event
23.   Meet 5 “Internet Friends” in real life
24.  Be featured in a local publication
25. Give a loved one a very extravagant gift
26.  Have a romantic in-state weekend getaway with just Adam
27.  Take a girls only vacation
28.  Invest in luxury bedding
29.   Leave a 100% tip for great service
30.  Become a regular financial contributor to a worthy cause

Level 4 : 
31. Pay off all student debt
32. Skydive
33. Celebrate New Year's Eve in a big city
34. Visit three countries in Europe
35. Tour wineries on the West Coast
36. Become proficient (er, conversational) in another language
37. Stay the night in a castle
38. Go scuba diving
39. Participate in a local theatre event -- even a small non-speaking role
40. Do an unassisted pull-up 

October 14, 2016

Happy 1st Birthday Holland

My Holland, 
It is a special day. Today, you are ONE. Where has time gone?
I feel as if the last year has flown by but also, as if you have always been a part of our family.

A year ago, you were new and I was overwhelmed.
Pregnancy was hard for me -- 42 weeks hard.
Labor was hard for me -- 47 hours hard.
But becoming a mother was terrifying.

I felt so inadequate. You were a precious gift and I knew I was bound to screw up.
So we just took it one day at a time.
Our mornings consisted of hot tea, hour long breastfeeding sessions, and The Today Show.
Our afternoons consisted of long car rides and naps at the Target Starbucks.
Our evenings consisted of crying... lots of crying. By everyone.

Looking back, that all seems like a lifetime ago. Our days are so different now.

Our mornings consist of a short breastfeeding session and chasing you around the house --  insisting that you put on clothes.
My afternoons are spent thinking of you while you play with your friends at school.
Our evenings consist of laughs, cuddles, and food... lots of food. Your evening hunger is never satisfied.

Once, when you were small and I was overwhelmed, I looked into your eyes and hoped that someday, I would love you fiercely.

Now, I love you something beyond fierce. I love you deeply. I love you madly. I love each inch of your skin and every fiber of your soul. When you smile, my entire world is made right. When you laugh, everything that I am melts. When you cry, my heart breaks and I long to soothe and comfort you.

Before you, I admit that I would always scoff a bit when I was told that a parent/child love was inexplicable. Now, I understand just how little I understood then. This feeling -- the way my entire being has changed over the past year -- simply cannot be explained.

You are such a big girl now. You run around the house, insisting on doing things yourself and demanding everyone's attention. You are beginning to talk and I can already tell you are perfecting your sass. You adore your Daddy and love to play (aka bother) all the dogs and cats. Books are your favorite thing, so long as YOU get to turn the pages, and Baby Einstein makes you sleepy. Bath time is playtime and you hardly ever meet a stranger.

You hold so much potential. So much promise.
So here is my promise to you:

I will love you. I will love you with each molecule of my body and soul.
I will work to make this world a better place for you -- and for your generation.
I will try harder when I'm tired, when I'm spent, when I'm overwhelmed.
I will make your life a happy one -- full of pajama dance parties, bedtime stories, and marathon cuddle sessions.
I will ensure that you feel loved and supported -- no matter what.
I will try hard to be the type of Mom you deserve. You my love -- you deserve the best.

So Happy Birthday my baby.  Yes. Baby. You'll always be my baby.
Today may be your birthday, but you will forever be my most precious gift.

I Love You,

September 26, 2016

Adam's Corner: Hillary Helped Me

I was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1988. The same hospital where I was delivered was the same that delivered my mother. The same year in Little Rock, Bill Clinton was halfway through his third term as Governor of Arkansas. This also meant that Hillary Clinton was serving her third term as the First Lady of Arkansas.

By the time I was born, the First Lady had already devoted 14 years of her life to the betterment of Arkansas. In the time between her arrival to Arkansas and mine, she had bolstered the quality of Arkansas' infrastructure for supporting children and families. I won't go into every detail because quite frankly the list is exhaustive and other writers have done a better job telling her story. I will however speak about how her initiatives in education benefited myself and countless other Arkansas children.
via // Politico
When I began kindergarten in 1992, the Clintons were on the verge of leaving Arkansas as Bill would soon be elected POTUS. Several years before I started school, the Arkansas school system was a relative laughing stock. A majority of the school districts did not offer chemistry or art classes. Likewise many school districts had little to no testing requirements for teacher qualification. In 1983 the First Lady was appointed chair of the Arkansas Education Standards Committee

Mrs. Clinton spent months traveling the state, listening to parents and convincing the necessary people of the need for educational overhaul. Despite push back from various group with varying agendas, a reform was approved that reduced class sizes, expanded course offerings and required competency testing for educators. Governor Clinton signed the reform into law but the First Lady was the one made it all possible.

Thanks to our former First Lady, I was entitled to a quality education before I even began classes. Depending on the timing or the ranking criteria, Arkansas has at one time been fifth in the nation in regards to education (and at times as low as 45th). Regardless of the metric, I know I received an education that prepared me for college and subsequently graduate school (both of which, I attended in Arkansas). I know it was an arduous process that was often met with opposition but Hillary Clinton continually worked hard to improve my life before my life even began. In a very real way, Hillary Clinton helped lay the groundwork that led to me receiving my PhD.

I was far too young to comprehend what she had done for me before she left Arkansas. Because of that, I didn't have the chance to thank her in person for placing the needs of Arkansas children as her top priority. Though it will be long overdue, I won't miss my chance to thank her this November when I cast my vote.