Saturday, September 29, 2012

real life

I know someday you'll get tired of hearing about it, but...

I love my husband.

Not in the least because he is a giant goofball and just makes me laugh. I think his favorite thing about being married is that he can come home and know there's someone who catches the majority of his movie references. Unlike the people at school. I think he should just stay home and hang out with me! I'm way more fun than grad school anyway...

But I digress.

Yesterday was an awful day for me -- I become inexplicably, painfully, miserably ill. After a beautiful morning walk with sights like the one above, I went home for a little nap...which turned into sleeping from probably 10:30 to 1, followed by shivering on the couch in a blanket until 2:30. At that point, I finally felt well enough to even look at the dishes.

So, I made some yummy, spicy rice (anaheim peppers have become a staple food at our house, I think) and picked up the apartment a little...but by the time I picked up Chris from campus, I felt pretty incapacitated.

And you know what? One look at me and he pulled me into a hug.

"Can we go home?" I asked in a tiny, worn-out voice.

"Of course." And just like that, we left, though he was mid-homework problem. He drove, treating it like a no-brainer when I asked him to, and then interrupted himself multiple times for my benefit. ("Wait. Never mind. It's not important right now, you don't feel good.") He got some medicine for me and asked what he could do to help with dinner. By cooking and seasoning the chicken, Chris gave me with 30 beautiful, guilt-free minutes to soak in a near-scalding bath. All in all, he made me feel so much better. And then proceeded to give even more, too.

"Chris, will you humor me for like five more minutes?"

"Um. Sure? How am I humoring you?"

"Well." I laughed. "Mostly I just need to you to smile and nod."

Which he did, beautifully, as I read him my writing for the day. He's constantly explaining his field in layman's terms for me, so it's awfully sweet of him that he'll allow me to do the same. I love that he's involved in my work, to whatever degree he can.

And then, just before bed, we read scriptures. I picked Ether 12, thinking of a conversation we had earlier in the evening about weaknesses. But once I hit verse four, I had to stop.

"Chris, what would you say your anchor is?"

Chris reminded me I have a talent for asking vague questions.

I tried again, handing him the Book of Mormon. "Well, it says here that faith and hope are an anchor to the souls of men, making them sure and steadfast. I'm always talking about how 'steady' you are, and it made me wonder how you do it."

"James 1:19." His prompt response surprised me. I looked it up, and smiled, marveling that I get to be married to him. 

Chris is definitely swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. He'll also be the first to point out that he does get angry -- in fact, that's exactly what he did next. He was annoyed with me that morning, not understanding where I was coming from and feeling like I was being illogical and frankly, a bit ridiculous. But he didn't say anything. Chris went on to attribute this to eternal perspective -- in the grand scheme of things, it just didn't matter much.

"I guess that makes sense. I struggle with that. A sense of proportion."

I also struggle with humility, and judgment, just by the way. But not my husband -- oh no. No "yeah, you really do stink at that, ha," no air of condescension, not like I would have done. He just nodded sleepily and asked if I thought that was a sufficient spiritual thought for the night.

It was, so we prayed.

And by the way, only is my husband eager to serve, insightful, funny, and steady...he prays for me, too.

I am not making this stuff up, people! This is my actual life! I am absolutely shocked that I have it this good. Chris just makes me want to be better...and I'm going to have to get better, just so I manage to keep up with him!

It's exactly the way marriage is supposed to go, I think.

I just didn't know that "the way marriage supposed to go" and "my life is pretty much a fairy tale" was the same thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

charity 101

"Sometimes I write. I'm trying to do a lot better about that these days. I blog about every other day now, and I'm working on a story right now."

"Yeah?" My new friend sounded excited, so I went on.

"Yeah. I haven't done anything with it in years though. I decided a long time ago that I needed to know what it was like to fall in love for keeps first, so I could have the experience to draw on." I paused, smiled. "Now I know."

Her eyes filled with warmth. "What's it like?"

"Well, first, let me say that, in our religion, we believe that marriage is forever. None of this 'til death do you part' stuff, so long as we are sealed under the proper authority and we let our sincere love of Christ truly guide our actions."

She nodded. We had talked about the priesthood before.

I gently touched my ring. "That said, I don't know what eternity means. Not with my mortal mind and experience. But I'm excited to spend the rest of my life finding out, with Chris. He's really my rock. He's steady and laid-back and sweet and patient. And he loves that I'm genuine and enthusiastic. I couldn't ask for any better than him."


Sometimes I say things like that, and then, never very long after, I realize just how sure of that I am.

I got pretty ticked off at Chris this morning. (Yes, believe it or not, even perfect-for-each-other newlyweds do that, too.) It was irrational, and I know that. But that didn't change how I felt in the moment. The waspish words did not escape my lips, but nonetheless left a prickly trail of irritation in my wake as I disappeared into the kitchen.

Chris followed after a moment and stood behind me, just waiting. I turned away from the stove to face him, though I wouldn't meet his eyes. And then his arms were around me.

What kind of guy treats a girl that good?

I'm ashamed of myself for how quickly I forget how wonderful this man is. He really is trying his best to give me what I need, and to show how grateful he is for what I give. Moments like this morning show me starkly that yes, this marriage will work, but it definitely won't be just because of me.

It will be because of Chris, just trying to be like Christ, even when I'm not. Chris, telling me to take a deep breath, though I'm tired of trying to be nice to him. Chris, forgiving me when I realize what a punk I am.

He held my hand the whole way to school like he loves me as much as ever, if not more for the exercise in charity.

What kind of guy treats a girl that good? The Savior. And my husband. That's who.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

gryffindor socks

"Gryffindor socks and orange shoes?" Chris asked in his best little-kid voice.

"...Only if you wear long pants."


Oh husband. How I love you.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

sister missionaries, pt. 2

A year after those dark days of frustration and understimulation and anxiety, I'm starting my life anew, again.

It's not nearly so bad this time, thank goodness. After all, I have Chris and spend every day realizing just how lucky I am. So no dead-end relationship to speak of.

However, I am new to the area, again. Jobless, again. Social interaction is pointedly lacking, especially with women my age. Again. I'm grateful for my long-distance girlfriends, of course, and rely on the smile in their voices when I call. The warmth of their long-cherished friendship is my lifeline, much like it was a year ago, and I couldn't ask for better. I miss them every day.

Missing people doesn't actually help you get anything done though, or get you established in your new home. I've already learned that -- the hard way. I needed to get out of the apartment, expend some energy, and find new ways to serve that were fitted to my unique gifts and needs.

And, just like that, my new family ward was assigned sister missionaries.

I love Sister Stanford and Sister Hill already. Chris and I signed up to feed them dinner before we'd even met. When they walked in the door, I offered to shake hands. "Oh no Sister Hagmann," they said. "We give hugs here."

What's not to love about that?

In the days since then, I've sat with them at Relief Society functions, attended investigator appointments, and chatted on the phone with these women. We've gushed about weddings and homemade tortillas and the absolute pleasure it is to serve side by side. They're allowing me to love this life I have because they alleviate the expectation that one setting, one person, has to fill all of my needs. As a multi-faceted, dynamic person, a single-faceted, passive life was never going to be enough anyway. And they do so much to make that okay.

Then, of course, there is the radiance of sharing the gospel. Offering answers to questions, contributing my personal witness of Christ, engendering trust of Mormons by the simple fact that I really do know this is's almost too much. I love watching light come into the eyes of the women we're teaching, as new understanding and new ideas envelop their hearts. So many people are genuinely searching for truth. They crave it, knowing their missing something they've wanted their whole lives. And here we are, and here God is, ready to give it to them as they continue asking for it in Christ's name.

He just loves us so much.

It makes me miss Emmilee and Anne. Emmilie served a mission, where I am certain everyone she met adored her for her quirky, gentle sincerity. Anne is in Brazil now, but not for too much longer. Her passionate nature, full of instinctive and energetic charity, will endear her to thousands. And then there's Megan, who was my roommate immediately after her mission and whose genuine interest in others is still an inspiration to me.

We women have such strength to offer each other, and to the kingdom of God.

I'm just grateful I get to be a part of it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

sister missionaries, pt. 1

I moved back to North Carolina just before Christmas of 2011.

When I'd come home for Christmas in the past, I could impart all the fervor my personality has to offer for a few weeks, and then whisk back to school before I started to lose steam, and started to miss my life in Idaho too much.

But that wouldn't be the case this time around, and I knew it. I graduated in mid-December. BYU-Idaho had given me everything it had to give, and now it was time for me to face the next steps on my own. From the time my summer internship ended, I knew that if my life was a house, I was watching it burn to the ground.

I sat in the ashes in the drab winter months that followed, unsure of what to do. By the end of February, I still hadn't found work. I missed my friends from school desperately yet was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to branch out. The relationship I'd been pouring my energy into just wasn't working out like I'd hoped, and although I was living with my parents, I felt a long, long way from home.

I went as far as to approach my parents about getting me on medication for the mounting irrational anxiety that I no longer knew how to surpress. They were dark days, and I needed a way out.

That's about the time that Sister Gallego and Sister Felton were assigned to my family ward. These sisters, with their fresh faces and little black nametags, passed around a sign-up sheet, inviting sisters to help them teach people investigating the church. Even in a fog of disillusionment, I recognized the opportunity. I had an inordinate amount of free time, and my need for young, single, female, in-the-flesh socialization was growing frantic. Perhaps, finally, here was my chance!

So I signed up. We three women braved the ghetto of Durham together, in my fire-engine red, sporty Pontiac, and laughed until our sides were sore. These missionaries brought enthusiasm back into my life, a source of joy and sense of purpose that I had been floundering to grasp ever since I graduated and left BYU-Idaho for good.

Sister Gallego, our "little brown sister," was such a spitfire. From California, she had a little ghetto attitude of her own that (honestly) made Sister Felton and I feel a little more safe traipsing through Durham. I still admire her lack of inhibition and the way she enjoys who she is, no apologies. After all, there was nothing to apologize for.

Sister Felton was beautiful in a gentle yet spunky way. Every time I saw her, it seemed like we had a new reason to turn to each other and say, "we're, like, the same person!" with wonder and delight. She had been studying History and English before the mission, after all, and her Utah upbringing gave her a sweet and matter-of-fact attitude about the gospel that I could relate to easily.

These women were living sunshine. In a way, although I was supposed to be helping these sisters save souls, they were actually saving mine. Saving me from a place of discouragement, loneliness, and inaction. Their vitality and action-oriented love of Christ got me going again in a moment when I never could have done it on my own.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Chris and I sat at the table yesterday morning, spooning breakfast into our sleepy mouths. Our calendar sat in front of us, as we'd neglected to hang it again after attempting to plan our week the evening before. My eyes skimmed it lazily for a moment.

"Oh man!" I yelped. "I'm turning 25 next week!"

"OLD," Chris responded.

I laughed. "I know, right?" I took another bite of yogurt. "You know...I think if this year had gone differently, I think I would have sat down and cried."

Deep gratitude, never far away from my awareness these days, bubbled up from beneath the surface of my heart. This year, I will celebrate my 25th birthday by building a blanket fort with my husband. Not playing rowdy party games with my single friends, who are just as clueless as I am about how to get what we really want most.

I spent so many days with that lonesome, habitual ache, the one that kept me up at night, begging the Lord to tell me why I wasn't married yet, wasn't even dating. What I was doing wrong. The emptiness of those unanswered questions, or rather the memory of it, is still fresh.

After breakfast, I went to my laptop on the counter, and pulled up this song. As it played and I sang along, Chris' arm appeared around my waist. He softly kissed my temple, and I closed my eyes, two or three tears spilling over.

Once, I believed that God comforts us, teaches us, and brings our most precious, deeply-felt dreams to fruition.

But now, I know.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

applesauce oatmeal muffins

I made these muffins today and they are surprising good for how much I played with the recipe!

The recipe is adapted from this one, but I did a lot of substituting, especially based on this chart. Chris and I are experimenting with ways to get more protein for less fat, so we've been on a Greek yogurt kick lately.  Want to try them for yourself? Follow the instructions below!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray 12 full-sized muffin cups with cooking spray, or if you're really prepared, place your 12 silicone muffin forms on a cookie sheet. (Thanks, Sam! Awesome Christmas present, seriously.) 

Combine the following in a large bowl:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 scant tsp cinnamon (you know, "scant," like the opposite of "heaping.")

Combine the following in a medium bowl:
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup skim milk
2/3 cup + 4 tsp Chobani Greek yogurt
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp molasses
1 egg

Make a well in the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients and mix it all together until the batter is nice and moistened.

Fill the muffin cups with the batter until they're each 2/3 full. Bake for about 16 minutes, or until you poke the biggest one with a butter knife and it comes out clean.

The only thing I would change is adding a mix-in, like a 1/2 cup of raisins or if you're feeling really daring, chocolate chips. As is, they're super-hearty and dense, but moist and subtly sweet, and the molasses gives it this nice, savory-sweet sort of after-taste if you eat them fresh out of the oven.

I'm so excited for breakfast tomorrow morning. Mmmmmmmm....

Friday, September 14, 2012


Chris and I decided on a blue kitchen early on, based mostly on the fact that we found these awesome measuring cups that are both magnetic and collapsible. And, incidentally, only available in blue. It got even better when we found matching measuring spoons...and pots...and dishes...and a Kitchenaid...and - well, you get the idea.

That said, we couldn't find quite everything in that particular shade of blue, so we've got this very mellow, monochromatic color scheme of cobalt, sky and royal blue. Chris is still trying to convince me that we need an accent color -- orange of course -- but I am unconvinced. We do have one knife that is orange, a relic from Chris' single days, and the random flash of tangerine makes me smile and shake my head whenever I open the drawer.

Though, I really do love the tiny elements of our individual lives that have come together in our kitchen. Chris' mom brought back a blue, glass polar bear from Alaska for him, and it's now making sure our grocery list (a whiteboard!) doesn't slide down the counter. My shell painting, the one I did on a whim during my first semester at BYU-I,  now hangs above our stand mixer. In the sink, there's a plate and cup he used this morning, the cookie sheet and pot from dinner last night, the bowl I used for lunch today... I guess what that really means is I should probably stop blogging and go do the dishes.

Good thing my kitchen is so cute.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Ray Bradbury and I had been nodding acquaintances for years. I'd read one collection of his short stories, The Illustrated Man, and found it brilliantly crafted but as a whole, disturbing. The themes of so many stories were so sad, leaving me lonesome and unfit to be my own company for the rest of the afternoon. The exception of course, was "The Man," a story of science fiction and Christianity and gorgeous allegory. But children sicking their virtual-but-not lions on their parents? A son coping with a desperate mother, whose wanderlust-ridden husband crashes his rocket into the sun?

Oh, oh Bradbury. No. No thank you. My heart can't take stories like that.

But Chris is the scientist type, and so to find common ground in a bookstore, I always find myself turning to science fiction. It isn't necessary - he respects the classics, and we love to talk about psychology and philosophy and humor. Literature is replete with those. Regardless, I often hope to meet him on some middle ground between the figurative and literal, between imagination and the here-and-now. So I pick up science fiction - this time Bradbury - and smile.

Barnes and Noble carries these lovely, whimsical hardback editions of classics now. Bradbury's volume includes my only exposure to him, so, enjoying the familiar face in a crowd of books I may never read, I opened it to the first page.

What I did not realize until halfway through the imaginative prose and undulating pace is that it begins with an introduction by Bradbury himself. Creative non-fiction, and gorgeous. I finished the too-few pages, and heard the familiar hum of a kindred spirit.

"We write so as not to be dead," says Bradbury.

That resonated with me, and, honestly, it left me a little ashamed. My writing has not been what it should over the years. Someone with my talents has no excuse not to write, not to explore herself and share it with others, not to take that heady breath of air that writing is. Bradbury's introduction reminded me of that.

As if that wasn't enough, he also describes his writing style: one side of his brain throws a crazy "what if?" question, and the other side of his brain catches it, intent on figuring out the answer. I love that. I've spoken with other writers, ones who outline their work and then stretch their prose around it, like fabric stretched over a tent frame. This is not how I work, nor Bradbury either as a matter of fact. I write to find out how the story ends.

This baffles Chris. "How can you not know how the story ends? You're the one writing it!" he says. I'm equally curious how people can outline and then write. It just feels so stilted when I try -- like filling in a coloring book when I want to paint a landscape. That's just not what storytelling is for me. If I already know the ending (via outlining,) then my curiosity is spent and the story I've invented never actually gets written.

And what's the fun in that, anyway?

Someday, years hence, I'll tell my children that I decided in the early days of our marriage that it was okay that Chris didn't understand the hows and whys of my writing. I love who he is: handsome and steady and practical and...sequential. I need him to be that way; I've tried the alternatives. I love that with his personality, he's my anchor. In years to come, Chris will be the reason I don't go off the deep end. Please don't ever change.

It's just that I enjoy discovering another writer, and a legendary one at that, who works the same way. So thanks, Ray Bradbury, for saying what I've only just caught a renewed glimpse of.

Thank you for justifying my growing compulsion.

Thank you for getting my figurative,

and inquisitive,

and rambling ways.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

this is the life

Today, I woke up at 6:30.

I popped some leftover waffles in the toaster for Chris -- homemade, whole-wheat and a little chocolate in the batter. For the anti-oxidants, you know.

We snuggled on the couch for a few minutes, while he updated me his current extracurricular project. Later, I took him to school, called my dad about insurance stuff, called the mechanic about car stuff, submitted my resume to three jobs, and vacuumed, and went to the pool.

Ah, the pool. It's just barely starting to feel like autumn here, with the heavy summer air giving way to that unique crispness, like biting into an apple straight off the tree. (I can use that metaphor -- I've done it!)

I love autumn, but the first hint of it is probably not an indication to go to the pool. But, I realized as I vacuumed, a little physical exertion would make me feel a lot better about life in general. So, swimsuit on, plus Chris' basketball shorts, and to the pool I went.

It was marvelous. The weekday schedules of all normal people left the blue, chlorine-scented waters abandoned to just me. It was startlingly cold, enough to make me laugh out loud and shiver, but after a few laps, I grew accustomed to the chill. The midday sun glowed overhead, warming my intensely fair skin but not burning it in the cautious half-hour I stayed out there, sans sunscreen.

By the time my phone alarm went off, a twinkley, happy sort of tone, I had fulfilled my goal for number of laps and was ready to go. My wet feet squeaked with every step in my cheap, rubbery flip-flops, and my hair hung in my eyes, lank with moisture. Grasshoppers buzzed and jumped as I approached, and for a moment, I stopped to just soak it in.

Chris and I have been married for a month today, and it feels an awful lot like sunshine.

So I soak that in too.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

part three: purpose

I guess the short version of all this is that I'm allowed to be deeply happy. To let the slow rhythm of home-centered service define my days, rather than settling for or being distracted by the pursuit of flashier ambitions.

Not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with them! I have a particular friend whose life is absolutely lush, fabulous really, as she's travelled to Jerusalem, received her MBA, and begun a highly rewarding career. I admire her deeply for her diligence, enthusiasm, and deep, enduring faith.

Another friend has a life that is somewhat similar to the one I've found myself in these days. Her days are filled with quiet service and amazing creativity, with books and laughter, and with caring for her body's sensitive needs. I cherish these two women, even in their very different pursuits, for the things they have in common: their joi de vivre, their sense of purpose and stalwartly glad hearts.

I want to be as purposeful as they are, as confident of the Lord's plan for them individuallyI sense the coming months will be full of moments when my plan will become a little more clear, if I pursue it. I'm grateful for the enforced rest that Heavenly Father is offering me, however short or long it may be. At the end of it, I can bet I'll discover I'm not a Katelyn OR a Cindy, but rather a Sara, somewhere in between. Maybe Heavenly Father knows I'll have the greatest joy and greatest service opportunities being fluent in Spanish, or becoming a bizarrely excellent cook. I'm really not sure.

But I'm sure excited to find out.

Friday, September 7, 2012

part two: enough

Chris and I have been really trying hard to read the scriptures together every day. Sometimes we're struggling to quiet our minds, so we prayerfully, penitently acknowledge that our focus and sincerity is lacking,  but we'll try to do better tomorrow. Other times we are tired (or at least I am!) and it's just better to make it short.

Wednesday was a day like that, since we'd gotten up at 5am so Chris could do homework, and I hadn't taken a nap to make up for it. Chris found a few talks on perfectionism that he was excited to read together, but being the sweet and sensitive husband that he is, he yielded to my request for brevity.

I found one of those talks on the coffee table today, and let me tell you, it made me cry. Sister Barbara Morrell gave such encouraging counsel in her 2003 Women's Conference address, about being enough just as we are, rather than running faster than we have strength.

If my little home with Chris was a person, I'd be horrified to look at it and say, "you're not enough." Yet it seems that's exactly what I've been doing, because (right now at least) it doesn't require the frantic running around that I'm used to. In truth, I'd much rather change my mindset, and let Christ change my heart, than change anything about our beautiful little home.

I've heard several times that the "easy" or at least less hectic seasons of our lives are times for reflection and preparation. I've certainly found this to be true in the times of my own life, but it's been a bit of a shock to find myself there again, at least for a little while. I've always wanted a couple of years of living with just my husband and I, before we had children. Frankly, I suspected I needed it, in order to prepare. I want to grow as a person so that I can be the kind of mother I so dearly want my children to have. After all, I already love them, though I don't even know their names. (Well. Not for sure, at least.)

Regardless, I want to give them the best -- including a secure and happy childhood with a mother who has patiently, carefully prepared for them. What does that mean for my education, or employment, or travel opportunities? I have no idea. But in my heart-of-hearts, my dearest ambition has always been my family. Anything else has only been there to fill in the gaps, and as I've been patient, and followed the promptings of the Spirit, the Lord has let me have it all in the end anyway. Think about it. Not only have I been blessed with a degree, incredibly rewarding employment, and a Europe trip that will supply a lifetime of happy memories...but now I'm married, too.

To the love of my life, even, who wisely and maybe even without knowing it, leaves talks on our table that are exactly what I need to read. I'm so grateful for the firm foundation that righteous priesthood leaders -- like my husband -- provide in the home. That humbly-held authority makes my work in our home possible. I'm deeply grateful for the security that brings.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

part one: acclimating

I love my little home already. I love the way we have just enough furniture for the space, the way the counter never seems to unclutter (it proves that real people live here!) and the sweet, restful silence that reminds me of the temple.

In the last few weeks, I have worked my bum off to get us settled. Every day has been a competition, to see if I can get more done than I did the day before. Then, seemingly all at once, we found a routine, a comfortable rhythm to our lives that demonstrated -- even before I realized it -- that we are moved in, and this is home. More than couches and towels and dishes, this little apartment holds our love. You can smell it in the clean laundry, ready to be put away, or see it in the flowers on the table that Chris bought for me, just because. You can hear it in the hum of the dishwasher or feel it in the crisp warmth of the bed that Chris made for me this morning.

More than that, you can just sense it in the air. The Spirit is in our home.

And yet, in the last couple of days, I've felt a little lost. Sometimes it's a little too quiet, or I get a little too lonesome. I've asked myself over and over, "Sara, why isn't this enough?"

The fact is, it's more than enough, and I'm not quite sure what to do with that! It's a slower pace than my life has ever been before. The primary responsibility of my life right now is to be happy, and peaceful, and share that delighted serenity with others, particularly Chris. I don't have to scurry, to scramble, to carry out my life with frenetic energy that leads to anxiety more often than not anyway.

You're probably familiar with President Hinckley's quote, about life being a ho-hum train ride with few impressive vistas and a lot of smoke. I'm fine with that...mostly I think it's that I've been huffing and puffing to catch a train, and I finally made it aboard. It takes some transition to slow down, to stop running and look around. To realize I'm on the train safely and don't need to run up and down the aisles, too.

That's an awfully nice change.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I will always need a space to just lay on the floor.

This morning, I need that space to set pages in front of me. I'm looking for work here in my new hometown, just a little something to lend structure to my days and allow for a little play money in the budget. My handwritten notes allow for so much more connection than the spreadsheet I was trying to make on the computer; I just couldn't get engaged in the task when it was only typing. So, I'll fill pages notebook with job information until I'm satisfied. (Meaning "hired.")

My current spot -- right beneath our lovely picture wall.

On other days, it's not pages of job listings I have in front of me, but writing. Whenever I start a new story idea, it always lands on a bit of loose-leaf, and as the scene flows out of my fingers, the prose strings itself from one page to the next. With my large handwriting and wordy writing style and indecisive word choice, it's easy to fill an hour -- and most of the floor space around me -- with paper.

Still other days, especially long ones, I lay flat on my back, my fingers interlocked over my rib cage. I take deep breaths, employ positive self-talk, and get sleepy. There's a casual intimacy about the floor that helps me to relax, and recenter, in a way that I just need every now and then. It's nice, becoming conscious of the gentle thumping of my heart and the gradual loosening in my shoulders and lower back. I pay attention to the texture of my carpet, the draft that chills my toes. I finally take a moment to be curious about the pattern of my ceiling, and notice that maybe I should vacuum once I'm ready to get up and move again.

Sometimes, I don't even have to be on the floor alone, which is great. I love snuggling next to my husband, eye level with the arm of the couch, with our feet pointed out in front of us. Chris and I had our first official family night on the floor the other day, complete with song and scripture and activity. I suggested the floor because he was using the coffee table as a workstation, and the dining room chairs are just so hard.

Plus, the floor is just my friend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


When Chris and I moved in, I marked the grocery stores on the map right away. And oh, there were several.

I won't bore you with the list, but there's kinda two highlights so far. Menards, pronounced men-ARDS, although Chris insists that should only be true of people who pronounce Target as tar-JAY. Menards is just odd, the lovechild of Home Depot and a grocery store. So you have ever had a deep-seated desire to get plywood and milk in just one stop, Menards is the place for you!

So weird.

Even better, though, is ALDI. I was so confused when I went there for the first time -- it was just so small. Even the parking lot was no more than you'd find for some itty-bitty boutique, too unknown to warrant a storefront in a strip mall. There weren't even places in the parking lot to put the carts!

Yet the grocery store was there. The carts were next to the door, all strung together on chains. In order to get one, I had to put a quarter in a little slot, and magically the chain unlinked. "Get your quarter back," the sign said, "when you bring back your cart to this location!"

It got even better when I walked in. No shelves, no real aisles to speak of...just food stacked in the boxes it was shipped in. The food itself was 90% generic brands that I hadn't even heard of. Chris noticed that when I brought the groceries home. "Oh, Sara! I'm so glad you got," he paused the dramatics to read the label, one eyebrow cocked, "Freshine disinfectant wipes! Our bathroom will be so much cleaner!"

But, despite the size of the store, they had cheap produce and almost everything else on my list. I even strolled down the narrow psuedo-aisles chatting on the phone with Cindy, feeling thoroughly satisfied with my experience.

There was just one checkout lane, and the only employee I'd seen sat behind the register, pleasantly swiping items over the scanner. I waited in line, enthusiastically informed the checkout girl that it was my first time there, and congratulated myself for remembering Chris' debit card PIN. And then I faltered. It was fine that no one was there to bag my groceries...but there were no bags.

The dark-haired, round-faced attendant smiled at me. "You look confused."

"I am," I admitted. "Um." Then, fortuitously, a light turned on in my head. "Those boxes in the aisles...they're fair game?"

"Yep. Just grab as many as you need." Her eyes crinkled in a smile. "You can leave your cart here while you get them; I'll watch it."

"Thank you." I slipped between a gap in the stacks -- not really a thoroughfare at all -- and snatched a few bags of chips out of a box, claiming their receptacle as my own. When I got home, the potatoes had left dirt all over the milk jug, but what did I expect shoving them all in the same box?

I have no idea if I'll go again. I need to comparison shop for the items on my budding list of Hagmann Family staples. But it was certainly an adventure, and who can possibly put a price on that?

Monday, September 3, 2012


At our house, we have a slight addiction to whiteboard markers. If they can be used on a surface, they will be used on a surface.

Case in point.

While I love having a nice, big whiteboard for my not-so-nice, big To Do list, not to mention everything else, the above picture is a new development in our raging marker-holism organizational strategies.

Chris isn't going to have a lot of time for me this semester. He'll spend most nights on campus, crunching equations with the other grad students in his year, trying to figure out why the universe hates him when that variable he was solving for cancels itself out. Between 4 lecture classes, plus 2 required seminars and a handful of research credits, I'm frankly amazed I've seen him as much as I have lately.

I'm sure as time goes on -- as homework and research and callings become more demanding -- I'll see less of him. But for now, today, I'm just delighted to have him around. I love watching the bemused look come over his face when I do something goofy. I love listening to him pray, or kissing him and thinking, man, I just never do get tired of that, do I? And for now, I'll even take just watching him do homework.

On the sliding glass door, in whiteboard marker.