t r i b e s.

You’ve heard enough about me! Let me introduce you to some of my people…Let’s turn the tables and questions…starting with these lovelies who graced my life after moving to Baton Rouge.

The sequence of events leading up to me finding and knowing them has God’s fingerprints ALL OVER IT. I had been praying for what my friendship circle would look like in my new frontier. God heard my prayer and here’s how it went down…

I was job searching. I stopped at Style Encore. I met Julie Finical. Julie was the mostest and the best. Julie invited me to a Propel luncheon at the church Kurt and I were already attending. Julie and I loved Christine Caine. I attended said luncheon and she introduced me to everyone, including Claire. Claire found out I was looking for work and gave me her business card. Flash forward 3 months and I was looking online for home workouts and found some reFit videos. Loved them and wanted more. Went to the website and saw there were classes right here in Baton Rouge! Groovy! Saw Claire was an instructor. What?! That’s the girl from Propel! Found her business card in my wallet and texted about classes. She invited me and even met me there early to show me around. She introduced me to Lizzie. Lizzie introduced me to Sadie…Wednesdays soon became Wine Wednesdays and from this sequence of events we now have a group message on our phones known as the 225 Tribe. We share, encourage, pray, listen and love. It’s precious and I adore these women. I feel ridiculously blessed to have them in my life.

And here they are …..

C l a i r e.

 

 

 

claire
Claire and Ty.

 

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Morning!
Morning Routine?
Meditating and multitasking on steroids.  I start by drinking Spark. After a shower, I watch Joyce Meyer on TV while fixing my hair and putting on my makeup.  My husband, Ty, and I tag team a green smoothie for the 2 of us + breakfast for the children (usually hot breakfast for the hungry teenager).  There is always a little “tooth brushing, hair fixing, shoe finding chaos” despite our best efforts the night before.  When I drive carpool I am out the door by 7:15 and then I head straight to my office.  Ty takes several times a week so that I can fit in 30 minutes of housework or dinner prep.  Car time on the way to school or work is mandatory praise music.  As soon as I get to my desk I read 2-3 devotionals to “set my mind” for the day ahead.

…and night?
During the week it includes a stop at the gym followed by homework, family dinner, occasionally a family show like Cupcake Wars or Fixer Upper if there is time.  Bedtime prayers as a family in Lucy Claire‘s room are a must.  I usually sneak in a little reading or a TV show before I can’t keep my eyes open anymore!

You have $1000 and you have to spend it in one store in 30 minutes: where do you go?
H&M! I am decisive about the things I like to wear and I am frugal.  Everything is inexpensive and I love it all! I could RACK UP with $1000:)

What are you listening to?
I am always listening to whatever is in my current REFIT playlist!  Any music that inspires and makes me happy.

3 things you are loving right now?

I am a skincare/makeup product junkie and right now I am loving ALL THINGS “It Cosmetics” (amazing CC cream and concealer) and Wunderbrow.  I am also obsessed with my new slightly distressed rockstar skinny jeans from Old Navy (a bargain at $25).

What’s in your bag?

lipstick, powder, blush, a teasing brush, and head to toe moisturizing balm from Trader Joe’s for my dry, aging skin!

Who inspires you?

I am torn between 2 answers. Big thinkers and OVERCOMERS inspire me.  Big thinkers: I immediately think about The founders of REFIT who have become personal friends as well.  They had a vision that they could equip instructors to create community and show God’s love through a fitness format.  It has been amazing to be on the sidelines of their journey for the past 3+ years and witness their vision come to life! I am also inspired by any story about someone who has been through something terrible but then they come out stronger because of it (Romans 8:28 – right?!)

What connects you to God?

Praise and worship makes me feel more connected to God than anything else.

Favorite verse?

Romans 8:28.  When I face challenges it’s so comforting to know that all things are working together for my good because HE has it all under control.  I lost my dad 5 years ago … When he was living he quoted this verse often.

What tugs at your heartstrings?

In this season of life it’s when my 13 year old son, who is now 5’9″ and weighs more than me, looks me eye to eye and tells me I am the best Mom ever and he loves me so much.

Have you binge watched anything lately?

I don’t have time to binge watch TV but it sounds fun!  A few years ago I did binge watch the first 3 seasons of Downton Abbey.  I literally threw myself into insomnia over it!

Share a recipe:

This recipe is my GO TO when someone is sick, but it’s also a FAMILY FAV.  Easy, delicious and loaded with antioxidants.

Chicken, Spinach, Orzo Soup
Ingredients:
1 onion
6 Garlic cloves
1/2 bag baby carrots
1 red bell pepper
2 lemons
Bag spinach
Rotisserie chicken
White wine
Chicken Broth made from “Better than Boullion Soup Base”
Orzo pasta
Parmesan Cheese

1. In food processor chop: red bell pepper, onion, 6 garlic cloves, 1/2-2/3 of a bag of baby carrots.
2. Heat 1/4 c olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté chopped veggies in oil until tender.
3. Make chicken stock in batches using chicken soup base mixed with water – 12 cups total.  Add to veggies and bring to a low boil (simmering).
4. Add juice of 2-3 lemons and 1/2c-2/3c white wine.
5. Add 2/3c orzo pasta. Simmer 15 min.
6. Add meat from one rotisserie chicken.
7. Chop a bag of spinach. Stir and turn soup off.

*we both have a heart for chicken orzo soup! I’ll have to try her recipe next! Looks super yum!

 

L i z z i e.

lizzie 2
Lizzie and Aaron.

 

Morning Person? Night Owl?

Morning person for sure. I would be as happy as a lark if I could be in bed every night for 8:30pm.

Morning routine?

Snooze my alarm about 5 times (did I mention that I’m only a morning person on the weekends?); Stretch and then ease out of bed; Turn on the radio in my bathroom to Kidd Kraddick in the Morning; take a shower and get dressed; feed my animals; make my coffee;  kiss my hubby and off to work I go! My routine easily takes 1 hour but with each press of the snooze button, I convince myself that I can do it in 30 minutes or less.

Night routine?

Aaron and I always sit down to eat dinner together which usually doesn’t happen until later in the evening after the workouts and neighbor visits are done. After dinner, I bathe, moisturize my face (my favorite step in the routine), and then jump into my nest! I make it through about 5 minutes of TV before I’m out. The next thing I hear is the snooze button at 5:00am.

You have $1000 and you have to spend it in one store in 30 minutes: where do you go?

Oh…that’s easy. Hobby Lobby.

What are you listening to?

I’m a 90’s hip hop and rap kinda-girl. I grew up listening to Motown and the Golden Oldies thanks to my music-lovin’, jitterbuggin’ Daddy. Later in life, I fell in love with hip hop, New Orleans bounce music, and Southern Swamp Pop. My music library has sounds from Reba McEntire, to TobyMac, to Juvenile. So, what am I listening to now?  If you can dance to it and sing to it…I’m listening to it!

3 things you are loving right now?

 REFIT (If you don’t know, you betta ask somebody!); IT Cosmetics Build-a-Brow (if you suffer from the I-over-plucked-in-high-school look…try it!); the concept of finding joy in contentment. It’s hard for me to be content. I’m a mover and a shaker.  I’m living in the moment and finding the joy in each situation….and I’m loving it!

What’s in your bag?

I found total freedom when I started wearing cross body bags instead of oversized handbags…Freedom from back pain and freedom from the endless search for my keys in a sea of useless junk. But what is and will always be in my bag? Mary Kay Fancy Nancy Lip Gloss.

Who inspires you?

Hands down…my Daddy. My mom passed away when I was seven and my sister was nine. In what seems like the blink of an eye, he was left to raise two little girls all by himself. He literally never missed one of my sporting events…and I played every sport. He was, is, and will always be my biggest cheerleader. We may have eaten Hamburger Helper Stroganoff at least once a week, but we never went hungry. He never let us know of his pain or his struggles even though I’m sure they were nearly crippling to him at times. Looking back on what he sacrificed makes me just about as proud as I can possibly be. He is the reason why I think I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. And he is the reason why I can love myself and others whole-heartedly.

What connects you to God?

Music. Specifically, Christian music. I react to Christian music by crying. Like, tears rolling down my face involuntarily.  And they aren’t tears of sadness. They are tears of total and absolute love and gratitude. Someone once told me that those tears and that feeling is the Holy Spirit. I believe that.

Favorite Verse:

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For  I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

What tugs at your heartstrings?

Animals. My dream is to own an animal sanctuary with my best friend.

Have you binge watched anything lately and if so what?

Giiiirl…I binge watch Real Housewives every chance I get!

Share a recipe:

Maw’s Sweet Pea Salad

My grandmother, Lillian Gonsoulin, was a sweet Cajun beauty from Loreauville, Louisiana. We had Sweet Pea Salad at every family holiday dinner. Maw cooked so well. She had this thing that she would say when she was done preparing dinner. Julie and I would be so eager to eat and Maw would say “It’s not quite ready yet.” The meal was actually done…it was just sitting there! What I’ve come to learn is that in those brief minutes (that seemed like an eternity when you were 9 years old), that’s where the magic happens and all the flavor is absorbed! Enjoy this Gonsoulin treat!

Ingredients:

3 cans of Le Sueur Petit Pois Pease (Very Young Small)

3 boiled eggs (diced) minus one yolk

2 tablespoons of Hellman’s Mayonnaise

¼ teaspoon of sugar

1 ½ teaspoon of minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together, carefully, as to not crush the peas.

Remember, let it sit… “It’s not quite ready yet.”

S a d i e

sadie
Sadie and Kerald.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

This is me…

Seriously, I love a good snooze in the morning but I’m definitely more of a morning person

Morning routine?

Snooze the alarm at LEAST 3 times. Get up, take my fur baby Mar Man outside. Get in the shower then rush to do my hair and makeup, put on 2 or 3 outfits before I settle on one, which is a total time killer yet I never learn to just pick out my outfit the night before…scramble 1 egg and throw it in the microwave, scarf it down then I’m out the doe!

Nightime?

Netflix and a glass of wine (sometimes/most times?) sign of cooking…never, mostly take out and cereal – don’t judge me. Wash my face and I’m in bed by 9:30

$1000 to spend in one store in 30 minutes, where and what?

DSW but of course! Shoes are bae.

What are you listening to?

Country music has my heart so I love me some old time George Strait. Right now Chris Stapleton and Whiskey Myers have my attention. I listen to reggae; Bob Marley when I’m feeling creative or needing to feel creative! Black Keys on my Spotify at least 4x a week ANNNND some random Toby Mac and Taylor Swift on Pandora.

3 things you are loving right now?

Boxing/Kickboxing class! My doTerra essential oils…. All of them… and my Farm Fresh hat I just bought at the vintage market! I seriously wanna wear it every day!

What’s in your bag?

More like, what isn’t in my bag?!

  1. Most of my mail/bills
  2. Makeup bag
  3. Wristlet
  4. Fingernail polish… hot pink!
  5. 3 travel size perfume bottles
  6. Multi-vitamins
  7. On Guard doTerra Protective blend softgels – love these!
  8. Travel size dry hair shampoo
  9. Lavender essential oil roller bottle
  10. Bug spray
  11. Hotel sized lotion bottles (2 to be exact)
  12. A mini emergency kit – which has 17 small things one must have at all times!
  13. 3 koozies…. never know when you’re gonna need to open up a cold one!
  14. My checkbook
  15. Bandaids
  16. Cough drops
  17. Earrings
  18. Medicine
  19. Pens
  20. Teeth whitening strips
  21. Peppermints
  22. Peppermint wrappers and other candy/gum trash.. cant leave that out and yes I just threw them away.
  23. Breath mints
  24. Deodorant
  25. Old pictures
  26. A broken necklace
  27. And last but not least… A little toy solider

Who inspires you?

My husband, Kerald. This guy is a rockstar and his willingness to always be better inspires me to want to do better, plus I have a very competitive spirit so he can’t be getting all wise and stuff without me trying to out do him!

What connects you to God?

God’s love for me connects me to him. I have to take time for just him to refuel and feel His love and I do this through my morning devotions and through prayer. It truly does regulate my spirit.

Favorite verse?

Soooooo many of them!!!! God is within her she will not fall – Psalm 46:5. I have made you. I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you- Isaiah 46:4. I can do all things through him who gives me strength – Philippians 4:13 and of course; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.   It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

What has your heartstrings?

Little kitties! And rescued animals… well ALL the animals. Also adoptions, I love love love hearing about baby adoptions, it literally makes my heart melt. So I guess rescue stories tug at my heart ha!

Binge watched anything lately?

Ummm YES Netflix is my homie. Fuller House, Hart of Dixie, Revenge, New Girl and I’m currently watching Fixer Upper.

Share a recipe:

This is my FAVORITE recipe of ALL TIME — my husband cooks it for me:

Spiced Chipotle Honey Chicken with Sweet Potatoes!

here is the link

Oh my goodness I love these girls. Is it any wonder?! They fuel me. encourage me. inspire me and lead me to be a better me! So thankful! We may only see each other once or twice a week, and sometimes less than that, but I know that they are in my tribe.

They are on my side.

 

…and I am on yours.

love gina

 

it’s maternal.

7606It was the weekend “before” that we were recognizing just how much fun grandparenting can be. She had picked Ella up after we kept her for what we thought was time for her to work some extra hours and as they drove away we looked at each other and said…

“This is awesome!”

Grandparenting is awesome! Grandparenting is parenting but it’s grand. It’s grand in the sense that we get to love on and have fun and then send them home and return to sleeping all night…no more poopy diapers, no wiping anyone’s boogers, no listening to cries that require deciphering (is she wet? hungry? uncomfortable? cold? too hot? is the tag on her dress scratching her?…) Yep…grandparenting is temporary, safe and loving care of your kid’s kids so the parents can have a break from diapers, boogers, sleepless nights and wondering why the heck they won’t stop crying.

Grandparenting is the easy part.

Parenting is hard.

I know. I did it…3 times…3 times that required me to put self aside and tend to the needs and wants of a helpless creature called a baby. I look back and honestly don’t know how I did what I did…but I did it.

I did it because I had that something-something…It’s called maternal instinct.  The bond that forms between a mother and her offspring initiating a desire to protect and nurture. I was accused at times of overprotecting. The world was filled with sneaky copperheads hiding in the bushes, roller coasters that would roll off the track, razor scooters going down steep hills that would most definitely flip and knock out your pretty teeth, and seatbelts that if not buckled up would drive this momma crazy…ugh…We had family members that saw car seats and seat belts as inconvenient and a big hassle. I’m not kidding. I once had an argument with a grown man over him refusing to buckle up my baby. I saw my children as my responsibility and if I could do anything to prevent them from pain or harm I was on board…I was called crazy for my seatbelt persistence. I’m totally okay with that. Their safety was my job and I built a fine resume.

As I’ve said before…none of my children were “planned”. They were big surprises…but let’s face it…the result of having sex. I mean really. You can’t have sex and then act shocked when you find out you’re pregnant. The term unplanned pregnancy blows my mind…Like, you have sex but you don’t plan on getting pregnant? I eat too much queso and I don’t plan on getting constipated…but I do…Is that unplanned constipation? I stay up late binge watching Gilmore Girls and can’t hold my eyes open at work…Is that unplanned fatigue? Unplanned is when you are starving and you go to your favorite local dive and you order a grilled chicken sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries and find a hair that most definitely does not belong to you…gross…this is not mine and I did not ask for it. You can take this food back to the kitchen…I didn’t plan to leave without eating but I’ve suddenly lost my appetite. Unplanned is when you are backing up your new Toyota 4-Runner and you hear a crunch and get out to realize you’ve hit the bumper of the small truck that belongs to the pharmacist at Walgreens. Oops…I didn’t plan to spend $1200 on car repairs this month.

Unplanned is also when you get a call that your grandchild is not in a safe environment and you need to act quickly, making sure that precious child is out of harm’s way and unafraid. Not in your plans, but you will change all your plans out of the love you have for this child.

I read that in the United States alone, more than 13 million children are living with their grandparents. It’s a growing epidemic in our society.  I know when I was teaching high school I had a good portion of my students living with grandparents or extended family members due to the fact their parents were either unfit, incarcerated or living in a manner that provoked the removal of children from the home.

Kurt was running a quick errand this week when he sent me this picture…

mama hawk

He was driving when he saw what he thought was a blown tire carcass curled up in the road, then he noticed it was moving… he slowed down to realize it was a hawk. Another lady saw the same thing and pulled over…they both saw that the hawk was standing over her dead baby in the road…Kurt was able to move both the hen and her baby out of the busy road and over to a safer location by a nearby tree. The next car on the scene was a young lady whose sister attended vet school at LSU. She made a call as to what they should do because the mama was hurt and needed care, but she was no way leaving her baby.

As he was telling me I began thinking…even the animals know to care for their babies. What is wrong with someone who puts their child in danger as opposed to shielding them from it? Breaks my heart…

Paige. Thank you for being the mom you are to Luke. Jag. Thank you for being the dad you are to Luke. Thank you for allowing me to rest 12 hours away from you knowing you are intentional in keeping that sweet boy safe and nurtured and loved. Thank you.

Please pray for the babies that are not blessed with good parents. They can’t help who their parents are…they didn’t get a choice…they didn’t get to look at them and say, ummm no thanks, I don’t want you….you are an inconvenience. Nope.

They are here because of them and because of them their parents are not here.

Please pray for the grandparents that are not watching their grandchildren for a weekend and then sending them home with their parents knowing they are going to be okay…

Sweet Ella, we were there the day you arrived and we will always be here for you.

We love you so much…

cropped-love-gina.png

 

 

 

 

r e g r e t

I’m listening to Kathie Lee interview Dolly Parton on a podcast and she asks her if she has any regrets…if she could change anything, would she…her response paraphrased but almost exact:

“I wouldn’t change a thing…cause if I changed one thing, it might change everything, and I like where I am now…”

Oh Dolly…you know I love you…and as much as I try and emulate your sound advice and soul stirring wisdom I’m stretching on this one and coming up short.

You can bet your pretty wigs I have regrets.

Where shall I begin…

I regret losing my virginity at 16…or at least I think I did…I’m not quite sure actually. He was a freshman in college and I had the biggest crush on him when he was a senior and I was a freshman…in high school. I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16. It was the Hearts and Flowers banquet at our high school, held on February 14…the day after I turned date-me-legal-16. The event was all about “favoriting” your classmates. Mr. & Miss Spring High School, Most Likely to Succeed, Class Favorites, Most Handsome and Most Beautiful…I won the title of Most Beautiful for my class…in complete shock, I waited for pigs blood to fall from a bucket overhead just like I’d seen in the movie Carrie, proving this was some sort of joke being played on me and my home perm and borrowed dress. There was a dance that followed.  Being the tried and true baptist preacher’s daughter, I wasn’t permitted to attend; however, it was okay for me to leave the site of adult chaperones and go on a date with my 19 year old suitor. Yay me. Our “date” was not at the picture show or malt shop, as my parents might have hoped…no…it was directly across the street at a cheap hotel. I remember being underneath him and feeling “weird” but no one had ever explained exactly how the puzzle pieces work and I later read in Seventeen magazine that you experience light bleeding after your first time. For the second time that evening, there was no blood. However, there was regret. I’m a huge advocate of “waiting”, and I am happy to talk to your kids about sex if you are afraid to do it yourself.

I regret not working harder to be the “smart girl”. I waited way too long to nurture my nerdy side. I was too busy wondering why my boyfriend wasn’t returning my calls and wondering if I should wash my hair before we go out or just hot roll it and call it good.

I regret not being prouder of my parents. I am so crazy about these two now, but I did everything in my power to make others wonder if I even owned parents. Shame on me. They are incredible. I’m sorry.

I regret thinking I had to “go somewhere” and dragging my girls 40 minutes to Midland to buy crap. I was trying so hard to fill a void. I was love starved and sometimes a new scent of Downy or bath rug was enough to fix me…for a minute. I wish I’d stayed home and just stared at them while they played. There was not one thing I needed more than just to soak it all in. They grew up too fast.

I regret my affair. Yes. I had one…after 16 years of marriage I gave in to some much needed attention. I would stand in front of a train to stop you from having one. Don’t do it. Even if you’re sad, miserable and lonely…don’t. Dance with the one that brought ya or leave with your dignity.

What do I regret more than how my marriage ended…dating a guy 9 years my junior and thinking I loved him.  He watched South Park and even named his dog after one of the characters. His behavior was off the charts immature but I withstood so much thanks to post divorce numbness and lack of self worth. He cheated… I took it as penance. He was incapable of telling the truth, would go missing for 48 hours unexplained…but he took me salsa dancing. Geez. The things we tolerate when we are lost ducks….If I didn’t regret this, I would ask that those nearest and dearest to me commit me to a treatment facility for psychosis.

I regret taking waaaayyyyyy too long to love myself and establish boundaries that forbid toxic individuals to invade my space without the girl-balls to say….”go away”.

I regret not trying harder to keep Rabbit Martinis alive. I was half in, half the time. I didn’t care if I failed because I already felt like a failure. Stupid. Lubbock deserved better. I had customers that drove 30 minutes across town for a juice fix and I feel like I let them down. I’m sorry.

I regret cutting bangs…more than once. Why do we do it. I look like a third grader with wrinkles…every time.

I regret not being bolder about my faith. I’ve known about Jesus my whole life. I didn’t share the plan of salvation with my very best friend. She called me at 20 years old and said these words: “How dare you…you knew if I didn’t know Jesus and I died I would go to hell and you didn’t tell me?!….Don’t you ever NOT tell someone what you know.” After that our friendship became so much richer and sweeter with Jesus as our common denominator. We prayed together…encouraged one another. She was the one who held my hand and loved me anyway when she knew all my “ugly”. She was the one that convicted me when I was not living a life that mirrored the life Christ would have me live. Regret. Yes. Big time. This is the friend that is now fighting stage 4 brain cancer and trusting the ONE I was too embarrassed to tell her about. She found Him..and she found Him real good. But it wasn’t from me. Don’t not tell someone about God. Don’t not share the love of our Creator with those around you. Be brave enough to offer hope and eternity. It matters.

I have regrets. I might even regret posting this blog. But more than regrets I have grace…and a man that loves me in spite of all my flaws and failures. Don’t be shy to say you have some things you wish you’d done differently…it’s okay. We all do. Life is filled with choices and we don’t always make the best decisions. We can learn from them and move on.

I like where I am now. …but I do have honest regret. They don’t define me, or consume my thoughts…I simply acknowledge them and appreciate the lessons learned.

And I like the lessons I’ve learned and the challenges that have kept me up at night and caused me to beg God for answers. Some days I go to bed feeling like I’ve made a positive difference in the world and some days I go to bed wondering why I’m here in the first place. But it’s in these thoughts that I remember these words…All I know is today and tomorrow will offer new opportunities to get it right.

Regretfully yours,

love gina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

big. middle. little.

Hannah is trading her lumberjack in for a masked raider…Thrilled!

All my eggs will be in one basket!…all my babies in one crib! …IN OTHER WORDS ALL THREE OF MY BABY LOVES WILL BE LIVING IN THE SAME TOWN! Elated…for this…for them.

girls

Oh, how I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be smack dab up in the middle of it all… but that is not our story…not for now.

There will come a day when we sit on porches and talk and laugh and watch the sun come up and the sun set down before we realize we’ve gotten absolutely NOTHING done but being together.

Yes. Those moments will happen and they will happen real good like.

When your babies are babies they are together all the time…and then they learn to ride a bike and find a best friend at school and start having sleepovers away from home… and go away to camp for weeks in the summer… and want their own rooms…and get their driver’s license and… scatter.  Suddenly, yet not so suddenly, they are not so close anymore.

I would tell them during the years of “those are MY shoes, take off MY shirt, no you cannot wear MY earrings, stop using MY mascara” that one day they would be in each other’s weddings and be the best of friends. They looked at me like I was crazy. Honestly, there were times I questioned it myself. I would explain how 3 and 4 years between you is nothing when you’re an adult. They get it now.

paige wedding

Paige, aka Big, is married and settled. Husband. Baby Luke. New opportunity with Noonday. They have a great group of friends, a great church family. Routine. I am 12 hours away from my first grandchild and I get asked…”How can you do it?”

To which I reply…”Have you met my son-in-law?”

Paige married a Man. John, aka Jag, is a provider, protector, responsible, intelligent, hard working man who loves his family and most importantly loves Jesus. I rest knowing she is loved. I rest knowing they are raising their son together and when times get tough they pray.

Laken, aka Middle, will graduate from college in May and continue doing hair…She will be known. She’s got that something-something. An out-of-the-box spirited wanderer mixed with a heart for others that has never known judgement…nor can she understand it.

Hannah Kate, aka Little, has dreams of being a wedding planner . She walks in excellence with a servant’s heart. Of course she wants to plan something that let’s someone else shine. This desire is so natural for my little organizer. She had a binder for her 7th birthday where she listed the invitees and drew a seating chart for her guests. Your kids will show you who they are…watch. Your kids will tell you what they want…listen.

But before all of this… there was that.

kitchen

Paige was born first for a reason. We can’t take our eyes off of her. She is a leader and as serious as she is about truth and justice and doing the right thing she cracks us up.

swingset

I can’t get enough of this picture. Paige, when you think Laken isn’t paying attention to your words…she is…She’s been looking up to you for 23 years.

ballet

And even though she marches to her own drum…or dances her own dance…she needs you in the picture.

bringing hannah home

The day we brought Hannah home was the day your girl squad was complete. What a tribe. Remember the chouch? The chair bigger than a chair but smaller than a couch that offered just enough room for two or three of us to snuggle?  Never stop “chouching”. Never stop snuggling. Get together…on purpose.

hannah microwave

Cook meals, sit at the table…put away your phones and be present. Even if it’s easy bake oven brownies…doesn’t matter…just connect. Stop and pick up tacos on a random Tuesday and get together! Sunday brunch? Great idea! Use that awesome back porch to sit and visit and grill something yummy!

You will never regret being together…Life moves fast.

This was just a minute ago…wasn’t it???

girls in white

I’m so proud of you. Each of you. Invest in one another. Encourage one another. Listen. Share what God is doing in your life. Wonder together where He is when you wonder where He is. Be still. Pray. Cry. Laugh. Have slumber parties. Eat too much pizza and binge watch Netflix.

We’ve had enough separation…it’s a good time for together. Be that.

Austin isn’t weird…life is.  This election is evidence of the cray-cray we’re living in but you know where your hope is found…not in man, BUT GOD. You may experience a lifetime of less than worthy leaders but that cannot compare with experiencing a lifetime of serving a more than worthy God. The world will offer countless counterfeits. Don’t settle for substitutions. Keep it real sisters. Keep it real.

This blog post wasn’t on my calendar but it happened….kinda like each of you…

Paige Oops, Laken Uh-Oh and Hannah Oh My Gosh….

My life unplanned has always been my best life.

I love you. I miss you. I’m proud of you. You rock. Please call. Anytime.

hannah phone

love, mom.

 

f o r t y – s i x

Dear 46,

You were an adventure. Some days I felt 90, and other times I had to remind myself I wasn’t 16. We had a good time. We made some big moves and took some big chances.  You were a good age. Nothing to be ashamed of sister…nothing at all. You will be an age that forever comes up during my life stories…”Remember when I was 46 and…” or “I was 46 when I…” You made your mark on my life. Good job. You will not be forgotten.

This Q & A was circulating a while back and I filed it away knowing there would be a time later to answer it…that time is now.  Before the clocks strikes midnight…this is how I did 46.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THIS YEAR THAT YOU DIDN’T DO LAST YEAR:

Wow. So much! Most importantly I moved to Louisiana! Funny how a state that borders the state I was born and raised in can be SO DIFFERENT! I’ve felt like the new kid in 7th grade with a bad perm all over again. I’m the queen of awkward but I love people, so basically I’m constantly, awkwardly trying to hold conversations with strangers. I went from having my three daughters, several lifelong friends and my sister/bff nearby, to knowing only 2 people in a town of half a million. It doesn’t matter how old you are, unfamiliar territory is unfamiliar territory and it’s weird.

DID YOU KEEP YOUR 2015 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS:

I don’t remember making anything in particular, but if it was get in shape or pay off debt I flunked. Here’s to 2016.

GREATEST CHANGES THIS YEAR:

Became a grandma in September to the sweetest baby boy on the planet, John Luke Gardner. I’m completely smitten and totally get why people said to me, “just you wait…it’s the best thing ever!”

Unemployment rocked because I was blessed to be with Paige before she had Luke, be there WHEN she had Luke, and return when he was 2 months old for 2 weeks! Something about watching your daughter become a mother…there is a sweetness I can’t put into words. Next greatest change would be my new state of residency and the 10 pounds I picked up since being here…I credit this to the amazing cuisine and a man who likes to take me on dates to places where it is served. (ps: don’t stop dating me…ever…)  I refuse to say “it’s an age thing”. That’s an excuse just like childbirth. I know it’s time to get back to clean eating and respect for myself. I joined a gym last month and found REfit and some crazy wonderful new friends that make it difficult to miss class because you don’t want to miss being in the same room with these energetic beautiful souls!  I leave class on top of the world and encouraged and if you have an opportunity to join a class near you…GO! GO QUICKLY!  Scale might be heavier but at least my heart is lighter. different. I’m super hopeful and there is a calm about me that was foreign at first, but now it’s becoming a steady friend. I credit this to My Miller. He has made me better. The puzzle box my pieces needed to find. My love. My best friend.

GONE ON ANY TRIPS:

New Orleans, Austin, Birmingham, Daytona. I’ve always wanted to travel more but WHO you travel with is just as important. Kurt and I love road tripping to East Texas and Lubbock and Mississippi to see the family.

DID YOU BUY ANYTHING WORTH TELLING US ABOUT: 

Of course!…I’m a girlfriend’s girlfriend when it comes to sharing product finds. If I buy anything I like, I’ll tell you about it. Here are 10 products you should  try:

1. AVEDA smooth infusion glossing straightener (this is a must since moving to Louisiana…second to this is Living Proof humidity shield)

2. Essie nail polish in mint candy apple (toes only, but LOVE it)

3. Too Faced bronzer in chocolate soleil (blog on this whole contour trend to be posted in the future)

4. Philips Sonicare toothbrush (I’ll never go back to a basic toothbrush)

5. Big Sexy Hair powder play (tiny bottle of wonder and love)

6. DoTerra essential oils: grapefruit, bergamot, elevation and spearmint

7. St Ives skin renewing body lotion (skin friends since 2008)

8. it Cosmetics Hello Lashes mascara

9. Mary Lou Manizer highlighter (night time only girls…night time only)

10. Lush sugar lip scrubs

GET RID OF ANYTHING:

more like did I keep anything…

WHAT DID YOU DO WITHOUT IN 2015 THAT YOU’D LIKE IN 2016:

ummmm….a job.

WHAT MADE YOU SMILE:

So many reasons to smile but in particular, I am so grateful to have Facetime! Thanks a million to the creator of this app! I can see my kids faces and hear their voices at any time! It helps bridge the pain of distance and brings a smile to my face.

WHAT MADE YOU CRY:

Oh, honey…I cry when people win on game shows, but what comes to mind is standing outside the door of the delivery room and listening to Paige and Jag team up to bring John Luke into the world. They were playing the You Make Me Brave album from Bethel music… I could hear Jag counting and encouraging his bride. I cry now just thinking about it. I’m so blessed.

WHAT STRESSED YOU OUT: 

job searching. I’ve never NOT gotten the job…many times on the spot…before the interview concludes, I’m in. I’ve received calls from companies asking if I’d be interested in a position they have available.This whole finding a job in Baton Rouge has been character building and exhausting. The positive side is time to work on other things…like my blog and photography and a few other ideas swimming around in my brain.

WHAT QUOTE SUMS UP YOUR YEAR:

I love quotes but I can’t think of one that sums up 2015? I’ll get back to this…

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO:

I will forever listen to Greg Laswell and if you know me at all you know that…he broke my heart a little with his last song release…ugh…someone needs to wash his mouth out with soap. Add to my musical affection some new 2015 discoveries. They all came from watching Reign and Parenthood on Netflix. (I think the BEST artists can be found in the music score of film and television) Luke Sital-Singh, Nathan Reich, The Lumineers,  Ag + Silver…all worth checking out… and points to Taylor Swift, Adele and Coldplay for their new albums in 2015.

When I met Kurt he had Lithium and Octane on his Sirius channels…big stretch from my taste which he thinks is just a bunch of “sad” men…so we found some middle ground with country. He sends me a song via text almost every morning …Wild Child by Kenny Chesney, Top of the World by Tim McGraw and Crazy Over Me by Dylan Scott…#smitten And Chris Stapleton is ridiculous. Loving him.

WHAT ARE YOU WEARING:

black. white. heather gray. boots. pencil skirts. ball caps…a bigger size.

WHAT ARE YOU EATING:

Bistro Byronz Wasabi Chicken Salad, The Rum House Salad, Avocado Toast, turkey burgers, Trader Joe’s Tarte d’Champignon pizzas…salads…more salads…some apples…Stauffer’s animal crackers….I’m obsessed with raspberries…my go to snack when I’m blogging.  I don’t eat red meat. I love blackened chicken and a well cooked salmon. Asparagus. Basil on everything. Did I already say avocados?

WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING:

coffee with ghee (I cannot express enough the joy and health benefits this adds to your java) and to counterbalance the health initiative I crank in some flavored, and some say poisonous, creamer. Hey, it’s my cigarette. We all have a cigarette. I have not eaten off the food menu from Sonic in probably 4 years but I brake for Sonic water with extra ice add mango and mint. You shall find me all day chugging water with lemon, and then to infuse my system with beneficial antioxidants there shall be wine. I’m a sun up coffee, sundown wine kinda girl. My daily thirst timeline looks something like this…

File_000
mad art skills

 

WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING:

Netflix. Just finished season 6 of Parenthood. I’d watch it all over again beginning with Season 1. Call the Midwife. Lie to Me. House of Cards. Reign. I watched 3 episodes of Madam Secretary. DVR’d The Voice. I catch reruns of Fixer Upper and have a total girl crush on Joanna Gaines…we are doing some remodeling and I dream of being her best friend and wooing her over for a consultation and glass of pinot.

WHAT ARE YOU READING:

I love books and I love to read but I have a problem…I have too many going at once…Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf, I just finished 7 by Jen Hatmaker followed up by For The Love…both sooooo good. Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck… Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Scary Close by Donald Miller. Listening to Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling on audiobooks. Love my new devotional, Savor by Shauna Niequist and on my 4th year of being amazed at  how personal Jesus Calling feels. Always up for book recommendations…

WHAT ARE YOU DOING MORE OF:

Going to church. We have found a church home and it feels wonderful! I’ve missed this element in my life and I am so thankful to walk beside a man that loves it and will not miss. Sundays are our favorite! A good message and then brunch. We like Sabbath-ing….

WHAT ARE YOU DOING LESS OF:

Caring what anyone thinks.

BEST DISCOVERY:

Goodwill’s 99 cent paperback section

ANYTHING POLITICAL YOU WANT TO ADDRESS:

I’m thinking we will get exactly what we deserve and I’m nervous yet hopeful. I have to have hope. It fuels me. That’s all I care to say about this.

ANYTHING SPIRITUAL YOU WANT TO ADDRESS:

God is good and real and not up for argument with me. I will share my testimony with anyone who wants to listen but I will not argue His existence.

IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE:

world peace…seriously…that or a million more wishes…one of which would include being able to grow beautiful nails…cheers to computer camera selfies at 11:59 pm, cabernet and whatever this next year holds for me. I’m ready. So ready.

Snapshot_20160212_4

Hello February 13, 2016. Hello 47.

love gina

 

 

 

 

 

 

e a t

I share because I think I’m doing it well and how I eat is obtainable for anyone. I’m not a declared or licensed nutritionist, but I have learned how to feed my body well and maintain a healthy diet post childbirth, post 40 and post hysterectomy.

There have been times I was considered “too thin” and there have been times I couldn’t button my jeans. As of today…I can’t button my jeans. I recently weighed myself again after years of refusing to step on a scale. I don’t think weighing yourself is a bad thing, in fact I think a weekly check is fine!  If the numbers on the scale help you face the facts that eating late at night, having that extra glass of wine and adding dessert to your order will cause an increase, then perhaps you will reverse those choices so you can maintain the weight that keeps you looking svelte in your favorite black jeans. Can I get a witness?!?

Okay…real talk. Confession: there was a time I weighed myself daily, actually several times daily, but Hallelujah I am redeemed from that and now I let my clothes decide if it’s time to maybe hop on the scales and see where my numbers are. I like for my clothes to fit, and fit well. This is one aspect of my overall appearance that matters to me. When I feel bra bulge I do some arm weights and skip the chips and salsa when eating at my favorite Mexican restaurant. When my pants are determined to give me camel toe, yes I said camel toe, I can promise you there was more sugar and starch in my diet and it’s time to police the situation so I can once again walk around wedgie free. Amen and Amen.

I jumped on the Breakfast Bandwagon about a year ago. I never really wanted anything more than coffee for breakfast, but I discovered avocado toast and I eat it almost everyday…. simply half of an avocado on Ezekiel Flaxseed Bread. A house without avocados is a house without love…you heard it here. If I’m out of love, I’ll scramble some egg whites and add basil, tomato and feta. Thanks to my friend who IS a real live nutritionist, I now put ghee in my coffee and it’s divine! Love. Today’s breakfast was another fav… Oat Fit maple brown sugar oatmeal with half a grapefruit topped with turmeric and himalayan pink salt. If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out. I feel as passionate about the juice at the bottom of the grapefruit as cereal eaters do about the milk in the bottom of their bowl. S L U R P P P*

grapefruit
simple goodness. totally nutritious.

I’m on a mission to do a fat for muscle exchange. I don’t like loose skin. I’ve got some, but I don’t want it. Muscle is sooooo important as we age! I don’t ever want to be “skinny” again but I forever want to be the best version of me I can possibly be! I want to be strong…inside and out.

I’ll be sharing some of my favorite recipes as well as my fitness journey. I’ll be 47 in less than two weeks. I would love to be a practical role model of health and wellness for women my age.  Listen, sister…stop trying to be 25 and stop acting like it’s over for you! Embrace the day. Have a healthy plan for what you will eat. Get off your bootie boo and do some squats or go for a walk or join a gym. You’ll feel better. I promise. I do…

love gina

 

g i n a

I was born and raised in Texas, thought I would always live in Texas…thought wrong.

Last year, after the youngest of my 3 daughters graduated high school, I packed my belongings, and moved “next door” to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Love it. Mean it.

But before all of this…there was that…

I graduated high school in Spring, Texas…from there, moved to Temple, Texas to attend junior college for the next two years. I waited tables when I wasn’t collecting college semester hours, in hopes of saving up and going to North Texas State in Denton and studying journalism. My big 19 year old dream was to one day move to Manhattan, live above a bagel shop, write for a living and look super cute while doing it.

That never happened…but what did happen is even better…Paige Elizabeth, Laken Emily and Hannah Kate happened. And that’s all that matters to me.

After my youngest headed off to kindergarten I returned to college, earning my bachelor’s degree in communications. Our little town had little to offer with this particular degree but after a sad loss at the high school the journalism teaching position was vacant.  I never wanted to teach. That was not a career goal, but I knew teaching would afford me a schedule that mirrored my girls, so I applied. I was offered the position, again went back to school to get certified in secondary journalism education, and over the next 8 years produced 8 yearbooks, a student magazine, a print and online newspaper, learned the art of photography and developed a heart for high school students…I did my best to make the minutes I had with them the best minutes of their day. It was not about the yearbook for me. It was about God giving me an opportunity to love a heart, encourage a talent, and offer some hope.

So my Manhattan was a dusty West Texas town and my bagel shop was a classroom until I quit my teaching job in 2012 and moved to Lubbock, Texas to start Rabbit Martinis juice bar…It was a smash but my energy crashed. It took me a year to open and only 6 months to close. The events after that will be shared…but not now.

When wondering what to title my new blog one of my daughters said, “Mom, call it Rabbit Martinis. That is still your story.” Yes it is.

I will forever love to write. I will forever love story. I love photographs. I love people….

So I blog…

Oh…one more thing…I will be changing my last name soon. Yes. I’m getting married. I’m so stupid in love…I spent years skeptical…not anymore…

It exists people…Cupid is in the house.

love gina