Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Time On My Hands...

This is why it's best that I be kept busy....

Really?  The camera again?

Some of us are happier than others...

Just because she wants to be on the blog doesn't mean I have to...

I am using this time to plot your death.

I'd take you out with just this paw if I wasn't so sleepy...

Movie Review: The Blind Side

If you haven't seen this movie yet, stop reading immediately and get to your local theater!  If you have, then you know what an incredibly moving and funny film it was. If you don't know the back story, let me catch you up.  This movie is based on the true story of Michael Oher and the Tuohy family, who took him in and helped him to be successful in football and in school.  That's right up this teacher's alley!  I went with my mom and sister last Saturday.  A big bucket of popcorn, a Sprite, great company and one incredible movie=all smiles!

Sandra Bullock gave what I believe to be the best performance of her career.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised if she was nominated for an Oscar for the role of Leigh Ann.  Quintin Aaron was a true find as Oher, playing the role with a true vulnerability and charm.  The true scene stealer was the boy who played S.J., Jae Head.  What a cutie! 

It doesn't jam its message down your throat and it doesn't pretend that because one kid got what he needed and made it out, doesn't mean that every kid does.  In fact, it reminds us that too many don't for a multitude of reasons.  But it was agreed upon in our car on the ride home at least, that this story makes you want to do something nice for someone else.  In a time where too many movie are filled with gore or negative messages, this was a truly feel-good film.  And sometimes, that's just what you need!

Experimental Cooking Tuesdays

Tonight, we decide to try out a recipe inspired by my friend, Janna, Cookie Dough Wontons.  At first, we couldn't get the set up right.  We ended up with something that looked like this:

Which for the recorded tasted ok, but wasn't really the desired effect.  So my sister Libbie, who has been threatening me about getting on this blog anyway, came up with a different method.

First, put a wrapper in an egg wash.

Then, you place cookie dough in the middle.

Finally, fold the corners up toward the middle, securing it tightly.

Pop the wonton in hot oil for about a minute (or until they are golden brown).

Then, take it out at a nice golden brown.

Cover with powdered sugar and you got yourself a yummy treat!  I declare Experimental Cooking Tuesday a great success!!  Thanks for the inspiration, Janna, and to my little sis for her experimental cooking expertise!


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fabulous Friday...

I didn't have to go to work yesterday because it was Deer Day. Yes, you read that right.  It's a time honored tradition to allow our students a chance to enjoy shotgun season.  Here's to taking down a few of those adorable, white-tailed car crashers, boys and girls! 

I'm certainly not complaining.  I got to spend the day with my "nieces!"  I'm now up to four (Maleia, Maia, Kelsey, and Kamryn), Kamryn being the newest at just 8 weeks old.  I hadn't gotten to spend much time with them or their mama, Chell, recently, and I was really excited.  And judging by the screams of "Aunt Katie," so were they!  We decided to take a little trip to Marion, and we needed to take two cars, so Kelsey and Maia rode with me.  We taked about all the important subjects (kindergarten, sisters) and then sang along to the Glee soundtrack.  Leia got a haircut (12 inches, and it still hits her shoulders) and we had lunch at the Hong Kong Buffet and did some shopping (and chasing of children).  A three-cart parade and an hour later, we were done in Target and ready to head home.  This time I had Maleia in my car and we talked about important subjects (singing, sisters) and sang along with the Glee soundtrack.  Then, I went to my parents to have a free supper of chili and Italian beef.  It was a very good day...

The tweebs last Christmas...

                                                                         The big sister

However, as much as I love these adorable faces (and I do), I still am not sure that I want to have children of my own.  Because from what I have seen and heard, children are a lot of work.  They demand things like meals and clothing on a regular basis, and they don't adhere to my sleep schedule.  I will be the first one to say that I am a pretty selfish person when it comes to time.  Kids don't fit into that very well.  I know better than to say never, but from where I stand right now, it's hard to imagine a time when I would want to have a kid that I didn't get to return to their parent when one or both of us were worn out.  And I'm perfectly okay with that.  (And as long as I keep a steady supply of Play-doh, kid food, and Strawberry Shortcake, Maia is too!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Survey Fun To Last The Weekend

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while blogging?  Reduced Fat Cheese Nips or Kettle Corn in a bag

2. What is one thing you wouldn’t want to live without?  People I love around me

3. Beach, mountains or farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?  The beach.  I love sand and water!  If I had money and a choice, I would have a house on Folly Beach, SC and do nothing but just hang out by the water.

4. What’s your least favorite chore / household duty?  All of them.  Every last one.

5. Who do people say you remind them of?  I must have one of those faces, because I always remind someone of someone else.

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying home with the family?  I am mostly a homebody.  But parties and socializing have their place.

7. What’s your all time favorite movie?  The American President (at least this week)

8. Do you sleep in your make-up or remove it like a good little girl every night?   I try to remember to wash it off every night.  I'm much better now than I used to be.

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you’ve never had a chance to learn? What is it?    I have always wanted to just quit my job and plan events.  I really like that kind of thing.  So that would be the hidden talent.  I also love to take pictures, but that's not so much a hidden talent as a developing one.  As far as deep desires, I would love to learn how to dance.  Unfortunately, I have serious rhythm issues.  I would also like to learn a foreign language.

10. What’s one strange thing that you’re really good at?  I'm good at writing letters.  I'm much better with writing what I mean to say than I am about saying it.

11. What first attracted you to your spouse?  HAHAHAHA!  Whew!  That's hilarious! It would seem I will have to get back to you on that one.

12. What is something you love to smell?  I know this is a little crazy but, I love the smell of the Reichert farm house.  It stays on your clothes after you've been there.  It always gives me happy thoughts.

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.  I am unintentionally loud. 

14. When you have extra money, what’s the first thing you think to do with it?
      "Amber, let's go shopping!" 

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?  I have a big laugh, except when I get really tickled and then I am silent and I cry happy tears until I can't talk or get my breath.  This doesn't happen all the time, and when it does it's usually at some inappropriate time.  Like in church.  Or during family pictures.  My brother, Matt, and cousin, Rob, are two of the single funniest guys I know and their stories get me every time.

16. Where is your favorite place to shop?   TARGET.  All the way. 

17. What’s one thing you’d do more often if you had more time?  Take pictures

18. Are you a big spender or frugal?  Big spender.  I'm learning to be a little more careful with my money though.

19. Who is your favorite character of all time?  Hmm....I know a lot of characters.  I always wanted to play Annie Oakley in Annie, Get Your Gun or Miss Adelaide or Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls.  Mostly any lady with a really great score.

20. Would you want to be famous?  This is a funny question to me.  People tell my friends and me that we should go on American Idol or something all the time because we can sing.  While I think there are things about that life that could be pretty fun, I also think there is a lot that would be a big hassle.  And I don't know that the good would outweigh the bad.  I think if I could be Broadway famous without being that Hollywood paparazzi kind of famous then, yes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quiet Time

God is teaching me to be quiet.  If you know me, this is probably the funniest sentence in the world to you, because I am anything but quiet in real life.  Not only do I love to talk, I usually do it at a decibel level that is just slightly below the roar of a jet engine.  I can't help it, I was born that way.  When I was little my parents thought I had hearing loss or something, because I lacked that ever important inside voice.  But my ears are just fine.  It's my mouth that has the problem.. 

But, back to my point.  What you should know about me, other than my lack of volume control, is that I am a day person.  I do pretty well once I am up and going, but the minute I get home and have time to relax, I'm toast.  So, nighttime is not a good time for me to be praying or reading the Bible, because chances are I just won't.  And getting up any earlier in the morning is just going to make me angry, and I don't want to start my day off that way either.  I know that part of being a Christian is sacrifice, but Jesus also knows I need my sleep or I am not of any use to His Kingdom.  The question was "When would I be at my best to make full use of the Word and my prayer time?" I got two answers.  One was to listen to praise music on my way into work, like a primer for my day.  The second is to use my lunch time to read the Bible and write in my journal (which sounds a little classier than the spiral-bound notebook I use).   Which is where the quiet time comes in.  I have been using my lunch time this way for a couple of weeks now, and I love it.  Sometimes I consider a whole chapter of the Word, and sometimes just a verse.  Other times, like today, I make a list of prayer requests as God brings people to my mind.  What I love is the sense of stillness that comes over me during this time.  In fact, I was so still today that my motion sensor lights shut off in my room!  One of my favorite Psalms is 46:10, "Be still and know that He is God."  God's all about the lessons, and I'm just trying to learn.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Unexpected Blessings

I am so thankful for a God who sees our needs when we don't even know we need them.  Cindy, the woman who was a breast cancer survivor that I met at work, sent me the sweetest card yesterday.  She wanted to thank me for the breast cancer bracelet I gave to her (which God very clearly told me to do right after our conversation) and let me know that she would be praying for the women I work with who are fighting breast cancer.  It made me cry, because it was encouragement that I didn't even know I needed, just like the parent note I received this week.  I am so thankful that God uses people to lift us up and keep us on the right path.

In other completely unrelated news, I had a very nice time shopping last night with my friend, Sheena.  We hit some great sales and I have a few adorable additions to my fall wardrobe, including some new jeans.  I can't actually remember the last time that I bought jeans, but it was time.  The ones I got are made by Lee and have an elastic waistband that doesn't look like one, which makes them fit so much better than regular jeans.  I also got two really cute tops at Macy's for $20 (that's total for BOTH, instead of $40 or more apiece like their orignal price tags.)  And I bought new black boots because my old ones were coming apart. 

Though all that makes me happy, the best part was buying the Glee soundtrack, going to Sonic and singing along all the way home!  There's nothing better than Cherry Limeade and choral arrangements, and I dare you to say different.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Questions and Encouragement

One of the things I am struggling with right now is when I don't have an answer for a situation.  It doesn't really matter what area of my life is involved--it happens in all of them.  There are several situations going on right now that I just don't have any answers for.  I don't understand why some people can have more children than they can care for, yet others desperately long for or suffer the loss of a child.  I don't know what to tell a mother who tells me that she has done everything for her child she knows to do and yet it's still not helping.  I have a clue how to help someone who is sinking under the weight of their own fears.  I wish that I had answers for these things.  The good news is that I believe God has answers.  And even if He never reveals the "why's," there is a purpose to all of this.  I don't know how people who don't have faith in God survive this life. 

On a wonderfully sweet note, I had a parent send me the sweetest message last night on Facebook.  She wanted to let me know that she appreciated my involvement with her child.  She thanked me for caring and bascially for doing what I think good teachers are supposed to do.  But, it made me feel like maybe I am making a difference, which is something I question almost every day.  Encouragement is such a gift, so today I am going to try to pass that on to someone else.  I hope you will too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


One of my favorite illustrations about life comes from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.  In it, Frances, the main character, is talking to her new friend about how she can't find the love that she is looking for.  Her friend tells her a story about how when she was little she wanted to catch ladybugs.  (And I know what you are thinking, "Ladybugs, really?  What does this have to do with anything?"  But hear me out...)  Katherine tells Frances that she had tried to catch ladybugs but failed, and that she took a nap in defeat.  When she woke up, there were ladybugs all over her.  We find what we are looking for when we stop trying so hard, in other words.

Lately, I have had ladybugs in the literal and figurative sense.  There has been an infestation of Japanese beetle (who look like ladybugs) here in the So. IL the last week or so.  But there have been other ladybugs too.  In two separate conversations in the last two days, God has revealed to me that acts that I might consider small can have great meaning to others, that sometimes people just want a chance to tell their stories.  Let me explain.  Yesterday, as I was getting groceries, there was a lady trying to untangle a produce bag.  I unhooked the bag, and she started a conversation with me.  Come to find out, she was as excited as I was about the first decent oranges of the season, and showed me a trick for determining which oranges were the best because she used to work in a factory that dealt with fruit.  (Look for the ones with the smoothest skin because orange skin pits as it gets older.)  It was a short interaction that didn't exactly revolutionize my day, but it was obvious that she just wanted to share what she knew.  And for the record, the tip totally works and the oranges I picked were really yummy.

Then a few minutes ago, as I was warming up lunch, I spoke to a sales rep who was sitting in the lounge.  She commented on how nice the lounge looked (it's decorated in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness), and I told her that two people on our staff are currently fighting breast cancer.  She said she was a two-time survivor and had undergone a double masectomy a couple years ago.  She then went on to share a funny story about how she had scehduled a mamogram recently only to remember that she didn't need one.  Again, it wasn't a long exchange, but she just wanted to share with someone. 

In short, we are all looking for someone to connect with.  It doesn't have to be someone we know.  There's a certain bond that we have as people living on planet Earth.  While close friends are great, we don't have to know someone to brighten their day or change their point of view.  We all have stories.  We all have things of value to share.  We are all ladybugs, looking for a still place to land.

If Only This Blog Had a Smell Feature...

So, last night, as I was putting away the lasagna (that I made for just me because I had a craving for it while grocery shopping), I noticed a smell in my kitchen.  It wasn't entirely unpleasant, but I also couldn't really place it.  At the time, I attributed it to the peppers and onions I had cooked and went on.  So, this morning, as I went to grab my lunch out of the fridge, the smell was worse...MUCH worse.  Come to find out, a jar of pickles that I had sort of forgotten about, had turned over on the second shelf of the fridge and leaked pickle juice everywhere.  Hopefully, the baking soda that I quickly threw in there will help absorb the stench before I get home! 

In other news,  my new fitness program is rocking.  I have lost 2 pounds since Sunday and have worked out every day!  And I feel better, which of course, begs the question "Why don't I want to do this all the time?"  I'm super excited because I bought a new iPod yesterday and the weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend, so I am going to add a couple long walks to my cardio and strength building.  (Wow, I almost sound like I know what I'm doing!)

And finally, if you haven't given it a listen, picked up the Glory Revealed Volume Two CD at your local retailer.  The first volume was great, but I think this one might be even better.  I have a terrible time remember Scripture and feel like I at least vaguely remember the Psalms in song form.  Plus, I love Mac Powell and wish I could keep him in my closet to sing to me whenever I want.  (But there are several laws of God and man that keep that from being okay, so I will just have to settle for the CD.  :)  There are other wonderful artists joining him, so consider this my official endorsement.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blog Slump

Lately, aside from being crazy busy and sick, I just haven't felt like blogging.  I have had lots of things going on, but none of them are things that I would be comfortable blogging about right now.  However, there is some good news on the weight loss front.  I found someone who is going to be my accountability partner, which is the thing that I really needed the most.  I have officially worked out two days in a row which is two days longer than I've had a streak last in a while.  It's not going to be especially fun, because I am out of shape in a major way, but I think I can get back to where I want to be.  It's just going to take work. 

I promise I will blog up a storm soon.  Things have to slow down eventually, right?