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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Who knew Christmas shopping could be so discriminatory?

This past weekend, I made the trek to Austin for A Christmas Affair. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Christmas Affair, it is basically a Christmas market where vendors come in from all over and sell their stuff. You’re welcome for that high-level description- hope you were able to keep up.

My sisters, mom, and I go every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving (although sadly, my big sis was unable to join us this year!), and even though I rarely purchase anything there, I always look forward to going. This is in large part because of the fact that it gives me an excuse to obsess about all things Christmas prior to Thanksgiving... oh, and the free food samples.

However, while I do love Christmas Affair dearly, I should also point out that it is somewhat of a nightmare for those of us that are fertility-challenged. It is guaranteed that you won’t walk more than 5 feet without seeing (a) a pregnant person, (b) painfully adorable children decked out in Christmas attire, or worse, Christmas pajamas, or (c) a booth selling cute owl accessories for the daughter that you fear you’ll never have (not that I’m talking about myself, or anything). And in fact, that’s exactly why I felt no remorse when I went back for the third sample of toffee or caramel corn. At least if my uterus can’t be full, my stomach can be, right?

I really did have a good time, though, and unlike last year, I did not end the day of shopping (which continued at the mall) by racing out of Macy’s to cry in the parking lot because I felt just so desperately sorry for myself*. Victory!

On another note, while we were at Christmas Affair, we stopped in one of the booths that was selling ornaments, dishes, etc., most of which were college-themed. Not surprisingly, there was an abundance of UT-themed items for sale. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see an equal amount of A&M items on display as well. So pleasantly surprised, in fact, that I said something to the women running the booth about how happy it made me to see A&M fairly represented.

Now if you ask me, the proper response would have been something to the effect of, “Oh I’m so glad you noticed! And wouldn’t that A&M ornament make the perfect Christmas gift for your recently graduated sister-in-law?” The ACTUAL response I received was, “That’s just because no one has bought any of the A&M stuff so there’s a lot more of it left.” Um? Great sales pitch, lady.

I responded loudly with, “Well that was rude…” and we then made our way out of the booth while her co-worker, obviously embarrassed, hopefully enrolled her in How Not to Be a Total Jerk to Potential Customers 101. So ridiculous.

That’s all for now... happy Thanksgiving week to you all!

*Stay tuned for a post in the near future about how I think acupuncture has miraculously made me more emotionally stable!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Houston, we have a winner!

As promised, it is now time for me to publicly announce the results of my recent giveaway!

Thanks to all who entered- there were 56 entries total (including duplicate entries), and my number of followers increased by two whole people! Now if that's not a success, then I don't know what is.

So I tracked everyone's entries on a spreadsheet and used the Random Number Generator this morning to identify the winner. I didn't bother taking a picture of the results, so you are just going to have to trust that I'm telling the truth... which actually might be sort of hard for you to do when I tell you that the first number it generated was #1, which belonged to the one and only Allison from the blogivers!

No, I'm not making this up. But because I make her mix cd's on a regular basis AND because I don't want to be accused of nepotism, I generated another number to identify the actual winner. Don't feel too sorry for Allison, however, because I will likely still give her a prize out of pity.

Anyway, without further delay, please put your hands together and give a big round of applause to my first ever giveaway winner:

Chrissy from The Year of the Nest!!

Congrats, Chrissy! Your prize was dropped off at the post office today and being that you live just across town, it should be arriving at your door step pre-Thanksgiving. Consider it an early birthday present for Owen, perhaps? :)

And because I don't want to deny the losers rest of you of my awesome taste in Christmas music, I have included the playlist for you below so that you can go check these jams out for yourself. Enjoy!

1. O Holy Night* - Shane Barnard & Shane Everett
2. Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - Amy Grant
3. Baby, It's Cold Outside - Lady Antebellum
4. The First Noel - David Archuleta
5. All I Want for Christmas is You - Mariah Carey
6. Born to Die - Shane Barnard & Shane Everett
7. Joy to the World - Casting Crowns
8. The Night Before Christmas - Brandon Heath
9. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays - N'Sync
10. Family Tree - Dave Barnes
11. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Rascal Flatts
12. Do You Hear What I Hear? - Third Day
13. The Christmas Song - Dave Barnes
14. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear - MercyMe
15. O Holy Night* - Mark Harris

*I included "O Holy Night" on there twice because Chrissy listed it as her favorite Christmas song!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A giveaway motivated almost entirely by guilt

Yes, that's right, friends! It is time for the first ever Meet the Joiners Giveaway! This may not happen again ever for a very long time, so I assure you that you will want to take advantage while you have the opportunity.

Why am I doing this giveaway, you ask? Well the answer is simple. Long, long ago, before my every waking thought was devoted to procreating, I blogged on a semi-regular basis. In fact, I usually blogged multiple times per week.

Now I'm not crazy enough to think that you all actually depended on me for entertainment or anything, but all I know is that those of you who are still reading have been loyal enough to stick with this crazy blog through all its ups and (for the last 2 years) downs. And for that, I am grateful.

And so, I have decided to thank you by GIVING AWAY a Christmas mix CD, made by yours truly. And in fact, if I'm feeling extra generous, I may even throw in a bonus mix CD that is not holiday-themed. I know, pretty ambitious of me, right?

Here's how you can enter, and unlike all of the other bossy-pants blogs, I don't care if you leave all of this information in one comment rather than multiple comments:

1. FIRST ENTRY: Leave a comment telling me your favorite Christmas song. Don't get picky about the version, because there's a good chance I will ignore you and pick the artist of my choosing if I decide to put it on your CD.

2. SECOND ENTRY: Become a follower of Meet the Joiners (or let me know that you're already a follower).

3. THIRD ENTRY: Mention this giveaway and include a link to it on your blog.

4. **FOR 2 BONUS ENTRIES**: In the above-mentioned blog post, include a link to Living Stones Church (and mention how hot my husband, Brian, the Associate Pastor, is).

So there you have it! Entries will be accepted up until 11:59 pm (CST) on Saturday, November 19th, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, November 20th.

PS- Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you and let you know that you're the winner if your blog isn't set up for e-mail responses!

Monday, November 14, 2011

If I were a Christmas stocking...

... these are things I would want to be stuffed with:

1. Any of these from Philosophy - Holiday Bath & Body

2. Or any of these from OPI - The Muppets Collection
"Gettin' Miss Piggy with it!"

"Fresh Frog of Bel Air"

"Warm and Fozzie"

3. Not surprisingly, a pair of Hanky Pankies- I realize I reference these far too often, but when you find underwear that changes your life, you just can't keep from talking about it!

And PS- how cute is this?

And because I'm nothing if not practical...

4. A tube (or 10) of Vanilla Mint Chapstick (because I'm not really sophisticated enough to wear actual lipstick)

5. And while I'm at it, maybe a tube (or 10) of Burt's Bees - I use the Vanilla Mint Chapstick during the day but Burt's Bees before bed... it's normal to have different chapsticks for day and night, right?
(although Santa brought me 5 of these last year that I have yet to finish using...)

5. Several packs of Orbit Wintermint gum ... it may have "winter" in the name, but that doesn't stop me from chewing multiple packs a week on a year-round basis.
6. And last, but not least, one of these:

Oh, except our own this time instead of just someone else's. Although if that's not possible, I suppose Davis will do.

And I'll leave it at that for now... part 2 may be published at a later date. But before I go, I thought you all might be amused to find out that I legitimately called my mom Santa the other day to ask her if she could include the following in my stocking this year:

Don't judge me... the 100+ yard tubes are hard to find!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Home again

A big thank you to my wonderful twin sis for blog-sitting for me while I was gone, although let's be honest- I only post once or twice a week nowadays, so I wouldn't call it the world's most challenging task. Regardless, she did a great job and as always, I am appreciative of her!

Now, allow me to update you on the life and times of Amanda Joiner:

Santa Fe:
Yes, the rumors are true. My mom whisked me (and only me!) away for a weekend in Santa Fe. Her purpose here was twofold: 1. She feels sorry for me, and 2. She loves Santa Fe and is always looking for an excuse to go. I just so happen to feel sorry for myself AND love Santa Fe as well, so I'd say it worked out well for both of us.

It was definitely chilly there, as evidenced by the following video:

Yes, that's right. It snowed, and although you can't really tell from the video, the wind was blowing rather violently. As a result, the power was out in our hotel (oh, and the entire city) for about 3 hours. Our hotel very thoughtfully brought us our own flashlight, which my mom promptly used to light up the bathroom in order for her to take a shower. Approximately 5 minutes after she finished her dimly lit shower, the power came back on. Go figure!

Other than that, we did our fair share of walking, shopping, and eating. I always eat big breakfasts when I'm on vacation with my mom, so you can imagine how quickly I spiraled into a depression the morning after I got home upon realizing that all that was awaiting me was a bowl of Total. And then again at dinner when no one brought an order of chips and guacamole to my table. Such is life post-vacation, I suppose.

It is also worth mentioning that we slept A LOT. As in, 19 hours in 2 nights, one of which was the night that Daylight Savings went into effect. And thus, I have discovered one of the (very few, in my opinion) benefits of not having children yet!

Anyway, I was very grateful for the escape from reality and am hopeful that my reproductive system felt the same way. Some people go on vacation to "recharge their batteries." Me? I go on vacation to recharge my ovaries. Which leads me to my next topic...

In addition to take a break from life in general, I also coincidentally got to take a week-long vacation from my herbs. I was ready for a refill last week, but there was some extra ingredient that my acupuncturist wanted to include that hadn't come in yet. I have no idea what it was, but I am sort of in the "don't ask, don't tell" mindset as far as the herbs go, so I am ok with that.

Apparently the magic formula was complete today, however, because she gave me my next "prescription," which I'll start taking tomorrow. I have also started taking a daily capsule of royal jelly, which, in case you're too lazy to click on the link, is basically what the queen bees (as in bumble bees) eat. It is supposed to help boost your fertility (among other things), but so far it just seems to make me sweat a lot. So that's special.

So if you're keeping track, that now means I am taking 14 pills/supplements per day. Future baby Joiner, you owe me. Big time.

Oh, and I also thought you all might appreciate that I was very publicly reading a book on my flight to New Mexico called Empty Womb, Aching Heart (thanks, Jill B!). I couldn't decide if I should be more embarrassed about that, or the fact that the playlist I was listening to on my iPod while reading the book was entitled "Erika's Infertility Jams" (which I made for my pal, Erika (obviously), a while back). Then again, some might argue that my other musical selection - NKOTBSB - was equally embarrassing. Fortunately, (a) I will probably never see the woman that sat next to me ever again, and (b) I don't get embarrassed easily, as evidenced by the things I admit to on this blog.

So there you have it. I wish I had more to say being that I haven't actually blogged in almost 2 weeks, but other than the fact that I purchased the new Christmas Cookies Bluebell ice cream at the store today, I really don't have anything exciting to report. Until next time!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Guest post!

Greetings, friends! Amanda and my mom are kickin' it in Santa Fe, New Mexico today while I am at home in Austin recovering from a cold and cursing the inventor of Daylight Savings (Dear Davis, please get back on schedule A.S.A.P.), so I am guest posting for Amanda today! Pretty sure I am getting the short end of the stick here, but that's ok - if anyone deserves a break from reality these days, it's my sis.

(For the 1 or 2 of you that don't know me, my name's Allison, and I am Amanda's identical twin sister. Instead of providing you with a picture of myself, I will just direct you to the pictures in Amanda's blog header... see the female in those pictures? I look pretty much just like her. So there you go.)

When Amanda and I were growing up, we were fortunate enough to have parents who regularly took us on vacation to cool places. Granted, we may not have always appreciated the coolness of those destinations at the time, but now we can look back on those trips with fond memories, and that's what matters, right? Today I am going to share with you a few of my favorite memories shared with Amanda on some of those trips.

1. Disney Land - 1988. My parents decided to take to us to Disney Land when we were 5 because they assumed we would be old enough to remember the vacation... they were wrong. Well, not entirely wrong - the only part we remembered from the entire trip was sitting outside at a restaurant where the sun was in everyone's eyes, and in an effort to block some of the sun, a woman put her napkin on her head and kept it there while she ate her lunch. To a couple of 5 year olds, it was obviously one of the funniest things ever. (Sorry, don't have any pictures to share with you for this one... for some reason I didn't own a camera at the time.)

2. Backpacking in New Mexico - 1997. Knowing myself as well as I do now, I have no idea why I ever agreed to go on a backpacking trip. I enjoy hiking and being outdoors, but more than that, I enjoy sleeping in a bed and eating real food. Nevertheless, when we were 14, my sister and I found ourselves backpacking through the woods with our dad and a random older couple (not random to my dad, but random to us). Neither of us really enjoyed ourselves, but I'll go ahead and say Amanda had less fun than I did (and I won't talk about how she cried because she was so miserable at one point). Really the only pleasant memory I have of the trip (aside from when it was over) was when we were killing time while hiking by changing the words to "Barely Breathing" by Duncan Sheik to make them about eating burritos from Taco Bell. Seemed funny at the time...

We're smiling here because the trip hadn't started yet and the packs weren't on our backs.

3. Quito, Ecuador - 1998. We went there for my mom's hairdresser's daughter's wedding (did you follow that?), and we stayed at a few different places while we were there. And because we were mature and not at all resistant to a new culture, we determined that every single place we stayed had some kind of cooties. Obviously we were scared of catching the cooties, so we refused to sleep in a bed alone. Yes, we opted to share a twin size bed everywhere we went because we were worried about... well, I don't even know precisely what we were worried about, but obviously sleeping uncomfortably in one small bed was going to prevent anything from happening.

"Uh, this bed totally sucks."

4. Maui, Hawaii - 1999. This trip was fun because, well, we were in Hawaii. But one of my favorite parts was when we went parasailing. Instead of admiring the scenery, we spent most of our time up in the air singing Britney Spears songs and doing other immature things which I will not reveal on this blog. I just appreciate then when I am sharing a cool moment like that with my sister, I can count on her to ruin the moment with me by making inappropriate comments.

"OOPS I did it again!"

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico - 2006. We have been to Santa Fe countless times, starting with our first visit when we were 7 weeks old, but the trip in 2006 was especially memorable because we were there for my wedding. Some of my favorite moments were those shared with my original other half... like when I forced her to help me apply my bronzing lotion and left her with orange hands, or when she tried to assure me that "it wasn't too late to call off the wedding" (she was joking... I think), or when my hair stylist canceled on me just 2 days before the wedding and I freaked the freak out and she had to do damage control, or when the photographer was taking too long getting pictures of Wade and me after the ceremony and Amanda was giving me death threats for making her so late to the reception, or when she started sobbing uncontrollably when it was time for us to leave the reception (which in turn made me cry... all the way to our hotel an hour away).

"This reception is fun! Because we haven't been separated yet and we aren't sobbing uncontrollably!"

Now that we are all grown up, we have already taken a few vacations together with our husbands, but I know there will be many more to come. Here's to all the memories that they will bring!