Blogmas Day 25

We made it: Christmas Day 2016!

Joshua came into my room shrieking with excitement at 7 AM on the dot, and we started opening gifts soon after.


In my stocking, I received Kind bars, a mint Hershey bar, Post-It notes, mechanical pencils, a miniature stapler, and EOS lip balms.


I gave my brother Joshua some new baseballs, ice cream and root beer to make root beer floats, and a wooden elephant puzzle that can stand on his dresser.




I gave my mom a wallflower from Bath and Body Works and my dad a restaurant gift card. Joshua and I wrote a rap song incorporating many of our family inside jokes for our parents.



Each of us got a Tervis Tumbler. I’ve received four cups for Christmas this year, which is good because I’ve broken at least that many over the last year!


From my parents, in addition to the cup, I received a Giving Key necklace (custom-made with the word “serve”); the book The End of the Perfect 10 (which is great so far); the book I Got This (which actually hasn’t come out yet); a subscription to Writer’s Digest; and a book of some of my blog posts from this year. Joshua gave me the book Courage to Soar–I read it today and it was so good!


We got ready for church and headed that way. There weren’t many people there this morning, but it was still a really nice service. Shoutout to Cari for the prayer box and for the mint and gold folder that exactly matches my new planner!

Pretty soon after we got home, my grandmother arrived. We had lunch–ham, sweet potato soufflé, green beans, chicken and dumplings, baked pineapple, and chocolate pie–and then opened more gifts.


We’ve spent the remainder of the afternoon having snowball fights with balled-up tissue paper (with it being 70 degrees today, that’s the closest to snow that we’ll get), reading our new books, and my parents helped my grandmother figure out her new computer.

Thank you for sticking with me through all twenty-five days of Blogmas–I enjoyed it and I hope you did too. Merry Christmas and enjoy the rest of your break, everyone!

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Blogmas Day 24

This morning I slept in and then worked on compiling a list of magazines and websites I plan to submit to in 2017. I was in bed for a while after lunch–it was a rough morning and a rough night last night. But eventually I took a shower, cleaned my room and the bathroom, vacuumed, and wrapped a few final presents for ladies at church. After that I was exhausted and weak, so I went back to bed until it was time to leave for church.

After our Christmas Eve candlelight service, my family always eats at Krystal. My friend Brooke and her family joined us for the second year in a row. My family also drove around and looked at Christmas lights; now we’re home watching A Christmas Story, which is something else we do every Christmas Eve (it’s Joshua’s first year to join us, though!). I still feel pretty bad and I don’t know how long I’ll last. 

Today I’m…

Listening to: Sleigh Ride by Anderson and Roe (two pianists, eight Steinway concert grands). Also, 40’s Christmas music on Spotify (every other song was Captain Kangaroo???).

Reading: What Child Is This by Caroline B. Cooney. It’s SUCH a good book; I read it every year on Christmas Eve.

Grateful for: Honestly, I’m having trouble thinking of something. Today hasn’t been the best day, even though it’s typically my favorite day of the year. I guess I’ll go with the biggest blessings that are the most often overlooked: a warm house, plenty of food, and a loving family.

Blogmas Day 23

Today is the Blogger Secret Santa Gift Exchange! I drew Megan from Pen and Ink, which I was so excited about. She’s a homeschooler (which means she’s automatically cool, right?) and a writer, but most importantly, she loves Jesus. She’s beautiful inside and out, and we also have a lot of things in common, which is pretty neat! Megan recently announced that in January, she’ll be changing her blog format to a devotional style, which I’m really excited about.

These are a few of my favorite posts from Megan’s blog: the Thankfulness Thursdays she did in November, 12 Things Every Writer Knows to be True (and let me tell you, they are so true), her book review of Rainbow Valley (BECAUSE THAT IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS EVER), Dear You (because yes. Ugh. Just yes), and finally 5 Ways To Get Writing Inspiration (if you’re a writer you needdd to go read this–it really helped me). The way Megan plans out her posts and puts them up consistently has really inspired me!

Make sure to check out her blog and give her a follow. Megan, it was so nice to “meet” you over email and Instagram today–I’ll be praying for you as you figure out the changes you want to make to your blog!

Quick update on my day: it was busy! I slept in too late; drafted this blog post; did some Spanish memory work; auditioned for several voiceover jobs during three sessions throughout the day; worked out (it was a strictly conditioning day–this video, this video, this video, and this video. I didn’t realize the last one was so much cardio and it almost killed me because I can’t breathe); worked on a short story I started Wednesday night; went to Walmart with my mom and officially finished my Christmas shopping (I also got a 2017 weekly planner that I’m in LOVE with–pics below!); watched an Expedition Unknown with my dad and brother (it was about finding Nazi treasure in Austria, so I was especially intrigued); and tonight my family is going to play Catchphrase and I still need to work on a devotion I’m writing.



Today I’m…

Watching: This GirlDefined video and the ShibSibs’ new vlog.

Reading: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, actually for the first time ever.

Grateful for: My whole family is on Christmas break now! It’s been such a nice day. Also, Madeline from A Chic Bookworm (an awesome blog that you should definitely check out) was my Secret Santa and you can find the interview she did with me here. Thanks Madeline!

Blogmas Day 22

Today I went to Helen with three of my best friends (be warned, this post is a photo dump!). Helen is a tourist attraction near my house in North GA; it looks like a Bavarian alpine town. I love it, and I’d never been there at Christmastime until today. In the car on the way up, we opened gifts.

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The Christmas Shoppe was closed, but we still took pictures in the sleigh outside.

Next we went into some cute little boutiques.

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Cari and Anna bought some clothes, and Brooke and I looked longingly at the price tags.

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I don’t feel like getting up off the couch and taking a picture of it right now, but I bought a cute little wooden sign that says “Adventure is out there” over a picture of mountains. (It was on sale for $5–my cheapskate self was thrilled.) I don’t really have anywhere to put it right now, but I’m trying to think ahead to decorating a dorm room next year.

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One store had an entire room with things for fairy gardens–we were all thrilled out of our minds!

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We found a restaurant that satisfied all of our dietary needs and went in. We passed lunchtime experimenting with the new make-your-own-sticker feature on Snapchat and laughing hysterically about everything and nothing.

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At this point we had not even made it to Helen’s main street, so we headed down that way.

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All of our outfits somehow coordinated with various shades of gray and dark green.

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We made it out of the Hansel and Gretel Candy Shop without buying anything, which was quite an accomplishment.

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The glassblowing shop is one of my favorites.

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One store had a “Check Your Love Meter.” You paid a quarter, stuck your finger in, and it spit out a number. The highest rating on the list was a 90, which meant “passionate.” I went first and got a 92. I was feeling pretty darn good about myself until Brooke and Cari got 113’s and Anna got a 170. A wasted dollar? Probably. But who cares. It was fun.

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Cari and Anna went on a horse and carriage ride. Brooke and I, again wanting to save our money, wandered around in some other shops.

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It was such a fun day!! When I got home late in the afternoon, I tried valiantly to stay awake, but couldn’t do it. It’s almost 8 pm now, I slept from 5-7ish, and I haven’t eaten dinner yet–I should probably get on that, because not eating definitely worsens things for me. I still have a pretty bad headache, but today was so fun, it’s definitely worth it.

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For at the end of the day, we are all broken people in a broken world. Trying to see the good. Striving for faith. Longing to find some hope. Tear away all the trappings and this is it: an infant child in a dirty manger. This is it: love and grace that covers all. This is it: the marvel of marvels, that He would call us Beloved.

Blogmas Day 21

This morning around eight, my mom was at work, my dad was asleep, and Joshua and I were in the living room working a Rubik’s cube and journaling, respectively. We heard a noise on the porch and went to investigate–our grandparents had sent us another Harry and David’s box. So naturally, we sat on the kitchen floor and sampled everything before breakfast (prompting Joshua to decide, “If I ever have two sons, I’ll name them Harry and David).


I spent the rest of the morning doing some VO auditions (and I got paid for a job today, which is always exciting!) and studying Spanish. Joshua and I listened to Hamilton in my room while I put away laundry and we both took down the air mattress (which was such a fun job that Joshua exclaimed, “Maybe we should blow it up so we can take it down again!”).

It was 55 degrees and sunny today–what a nice change! I helped Joshua practice baseball for a few minutes; then I threw from my knees and worked on some grounders and pop flies. Since I was long overdue for a speed and agility workout, we played some soccer as a fun way to get that in.

This afternoon my dad and I went to Atlantic Station, a shopping center in Atlanta. There was a German festival going on with some different vendors and things.

We found a candy store that had Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, jelly slugs, and chocolate frogs. I was thrilled! I bought a chocolate frog just for the card. It was Gilderoy Lockhart; I’d been hoping for Dumbledore, haha, but it was still cool.

When we got home I felt absolutely awful for a couple of hours–overwhelming sleepiness, sharp pains in my head, and I was a little nauseous, which is not one of my everyday symptoms. But I think that has passed with the help of dinner and Tylenol, so I’m hoping to get some scholarship applications and some writing done before I go to bed.

Today I’m…

Reading: A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I haven’t read it in years, and I’d forgotten how brilliant it is.

Grateful for: Today my dad and I were discussing our mission trip to Colombia next spring–it looks like he’ll be going to a town outside of Cartagena with part of our team, and I’ll be going back to the tiny town outside of Bogota that I’ve been to before with the other part of our team. I’m so excited and ready to go back, and grateful for all the experiences I’ve already had there!

Blogmas Day 20

Last night’s party was so much fun!

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We ate and then sat on the living room floor for the gift exchange. It was white elephant, so most of the gifts were humorous–for instance, Garrett got a lovely makeup kit.

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Josh got pretty earrings.

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Will wasn’t quite sure what to do with his “Just Married” ornament.

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Cari opened a huge box of Jellie Bellies, which I later stole.

When all of the gifts had been opened and traded around, we played Apples to Apples.

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Then we played several loud and hilarious games of Mafia.

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Everyone left around 9:30. Hannah and I turned on my fairy lights, set up her laptop, grabbed some fleece blankets, and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It was so fun! We went to sleep around 12:30.

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Hannah knows the way to my heart (white chocolate, Jellie Bellies, and dolphins, in case you were wondering). I ordered her gift a month ago, but it was shipping from Bulgaria and it took a while; it arrived today just a few hours after Hannah left. So that’s great. Also, shoutout to Brooke N. for the shower gel, bath salts, and fragrance mist–they smell so good!

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The party and sleepover could not have been more fun!

After lunch I worked on this blog post, texted with a friend who was reviewing a story of mine, cleaned out my email inboxes, worked on a devotional that a website has asked me to write, then watched a few YouTube videos and tried not to fall asleep.

Today was the last day of public school before Christmas break. As soon as we got home from the bus stop, the kids shoved a package into my hands, saying, “You’re going to love what we got you!” It was a blue Yeti tumbler–“Miss Hailey, we remembered that you said you wanted one, and we remembered your favorite color is teal!” They were so excited. I gave my fifth-grader a Nike gift card and some candy, and my second-grader a cute little box with cookie cutters, cookie mix, sprinkles, etc. It was pajama day for her today–see the picture below.

(I agree.)

Today I’m…

Watching: I’m about to do a quick voiceover recording, and then we’re going to watch Elf; it’ll be Joshua’s first time to see it.

Reading: Today I received Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper (thank you Mrs. Alvalee!), which is something that I have been really excited to read for a long time!

Grateful for: I’m truly on Christmas break now and I could not be more excited! I’m grateful for my family, the plans we have coming up this week, and the surprises we’re all harboring. Christmas is just fun, y’all.

Blogmas Day 19

This evening I’m having a party for some of my friends (actually, most of my friends–to my mother’s dismay, I invited almost forty people. Less than half of them are coming, though, so we’re good). It’s a white elephant gift exchange and a board game night, and afterwards, my best friend Hannah is sleeping over. I’m really looking forward to all of it! I’m posting this now since I know I’ll be exhausted afterwards. Tomorrow I’ll share pictures from this evening.

I slept in a little this morning and then helped my family with some housecleaning to get ready for tonight. I worked out–upper body strength training and lower body flexibility–for about an hour, did some little blog projects, and did some more housecleaning. My brother and I played a card game called Egyptian Rat Slap. Nothing on my novel or any voiceover auditions, but that’s okay. I’m rereading The Year we were Famous today and really enjoying it. I also got to be secret santa to the little girls next door today–so fun!!

At work, the little girl across the street came over and we played spa: fingernail painting (my toenails are now hot pink with sloppy sparkles on top–at least it’s sock season), makeup, face masks, etc. I don’t think they could’ve chosen a messier game if they’d tried.

Now it’s party time!

heavennnature
(This has been the lock screen on my phone for the last few weeks. I love it!)

Blogmas Day 18

This morning as we were driving to church it was sixty degrees. Only a few hours later, it was thirty degrees with a nineteen-degree wind chill. I just want it to be made known that I am NOT OKAY with this.

Today after church, my family headed to Chattanooga for my grandfather’s choir concert. We stopped at Zaxby’s for lunch—which always makes me think of softball, since my team generally eats there in-between games on tournament days—and then headed north, driving through the rain until the antique markets and signs for boiled peanuts and old houses filled with character gave way to the rolling hills of Chattanooga. We sat in a large Methodist church with my grandma and listened to the all of the old familiar Christmas tunes rising in perfect harmony.

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Today I’m…

Wearing: Black dress, black leggings, a jean jacket, and my favorite South American earrings.

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Reading: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. It’s an excellent story with excellent characters and an excellent message about family, although it makes me cry every time I finish it.

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Writing: All I had time for today was the routine 1,000 words of my novel, and that happened in the car on the way to Tennessee. I did brainstorm a bit for a devotional that a website has asked me to write, though, and scribbled some other random thoughts in a notebook a little while ago.

Eating: A little bit too much peppermint bark. Thank you, Mrs. Misty!

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Grateful for: The restaurant we always eat at with my grandparents—the Epicurean—and its waitresses. Not only do they know my grandparents’ orders and bring their drinks as soon as we’re seated, but they ooh and ah as my grandparents open their Christmas gifts, tell us neat stories about other customers, and stop by to chat even if they aren’t serving our table.

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Start the week knowing this: you are forgiven. Known. Called. Set apart. Made worthy. Loved. Searched out. Pulled close.

Blogmas Day 17

Today started out pretty rough. I slept in much too late, didn’t read my Bible, felt physically pretty lousy, and was not productive at all. Also, here’s a pro tip I learned this weekend: don’t listen to gossip and rumors. Besides the fact that it’s just wrong and typically unkind, you may find out something you didn’t really care to know.

Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed mid-afternoon because I had to run to my friend Brooke’s house. I took a long shower, finally read my Bible, did some chores and wrapped some Christmas gifts. All of that left me in a much better frame of mind.

Today I’m…

Eating: The Harry and David’s cheesecake my grandparents normally mail us at Christmastime. Diets are hard in December. Who am I kidding–diets are hard any month.

Writing: 2,000 words of my novel (hopefully–I’ve only done 1,000 so far today). Tomorrow we’re taking a mini road trip to Chattanooga, so I want to get ahead. I also researched some writing contests that I plan to enter during the next couple of months.

Grateful for: Catching up with Abigail, one of my best friends!

Here are a few gems from Pinterest so we can all end our day on a funny note:

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(this is for my family, who knows it perfectly describes me)

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(this is for Dad)

Blogmas Day 16

I’m a freelance voiceover artist, but I haven’t been doing much work the last couple of weeks–I was having some technical difficulties, and then came finals. (Cue the knowing eye-rolls from my fellow students.) But now that finals are over, and the technical difficulties seem to have magically evaporated (knock on wood), this morning I did half a dozen auditions. A lot of people have asked me recently how, exactly, this freelance narration stuff works, so here’s the basic rundown.

Production companies who need a voiceover for a client post the job–which could be anything from a radio commercial to a YouTube ad to a video game character–online. Voiceover artists like myself look at the job posting, decide if it fits our voice (there are typically quite a few specifications as far as age, accent, and the overall feel the client is looking for), and then if it does–we audition for it. The client will post a sample of the script, and I’ll record myself reading that sample in my little home studio (which recently got a makeover, and isn’t it cute?).


I send the audio file to the client. The client sifts through all the auditions they got and chooses their favorite–then they contact that person and award them the job, meaning that I would read the full script, send them those files, and get paid.

One thing I really like about this field is how each job is so unique and different–you never get bored. Just this morning, for instance, I auditioned for a TV commercial for a South Carolina country club; a corporate training video; a weight loss Internet video; a commercial for Dawn soap (now in a soft, squeezable pack!); and a video promoting a music academy.

 

This evening after work, I went to a Christmas party at my friend Brooke’s house. We drew names for Secret Santa earlier this week; I got my friend Faith, and I got her a couple of ornaments and some Hershey bars. My friend Brooke got me a cup (it’s kind of a joke in our friend group that I keep breaking all of mine–I used to have five or six, and now I’m down to one), EOS lip balm, and Jellie Bellies–she knows me well. Also–shoutout to her mom Aunt Cindy for always making me gluten-free sausage balls! You’re the real MVP.

last Thursday, life was like a box of chocolates. #insidejoke 


Today I’m…

Writing: 1,000 words of my novel (in 22 minutes–setting new records every day). I’m pretty obsessed with my main characters, Libby and Finn.

Wearing: A scarf that Abigail, one of my best friends, made for me a few years ago. (Also, my hair isn’t red; I don’t know what’s up with this filter.)


Listening to: After the War from Hamilton, complete with dramatic performances in the kitchen after lunch with Joshua. I also listened to this.

Grateful for: I don’t think I stopped laughing–the kind of laughter where your cheeks and your abs hurt–for the whole two or three hours I was at Brooke’s party this evening. Most of the time, my life feels like a never-ending rerun of school, work, and softball, and I’m really grateful for and excited about the fun plans I have coming up next week with friends and family!