Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

Settle in, people, this is going to be a long one.  I had a great weekend, one that started Friday afternoon and ran full-speed into Monday!  There wasn't much down time, but there were many, many good times!  (and mosquito bites!)

Friday, after I got off work, I met up with Amber, Tara, and her brother, Keith to go to the movies.  We grabbed something quick to eat at Steak and Shake and then headed over to the theater to see The Hangover 2.   The movies was okay (basically a repeat of the first one, but not as funny because you knew the set up) but the company was exceptional!  We stopped by to see Casey at work and then headed back to pick up our cars.  Since we were already at Walmart, I ran into finish up a few errands because we had a baby shower to execute on Saturday!

Saturday morning began bright and early.  I picked up Amber and we ran to buy some flowers for the table arrangements.  The arrangements were simple but I was really pleased with how they turned out!

Jessica was in charge of the diaper cake, which was so adorable!
 This was my gift basket with a tutu as a bow.

Casey was in charge of the food (which is how it should always be) and she outdid herself!  I didn't get too many pictures which is a shame, but I was distracted by her adorable nieces and of course, the guests of honor!  The menu included pulled pork sliders, spinach and artichoke nachos, cole slaw, fruit kabobs, veggies, and deviled eggs.  And the yummiest mini cupcakes with champagne icing!  Here's a peek:

Tara and Macy got a ton of great stuff and it turned out to be a really nice shower! 

We were high fiving and praising our shower planning skills for the rest of the day.

Saturday night, we went to see our favorite local band, The Swamp Tigers, and then sang a little karaoke into the wee hours of the morning. 

Sunday, I got up for church (and was even there a little early for Sunday School) then spent the afternoon at my Aunt Beth and Uncle James.  He's home from the hospital and while he still has a long road, we are so thankful for how far he's come.  I was wiped out after Bible study and went to bed as soon as I could and slept in. 

But imagine how thrilled I was to find out that Macy Jane was making her arrival by the time I did get up.  Amber and I had a celebratory lunch and then went straight to the hospital!  Tara had a little scare after Macy was born, but since then everything has been good.  Macy is as sweet and adorable as you might imagine, and I can't wait to begin spoiling her rotten! 

It was a perfect ending to a great weekend...the last weekend of the school year!  If this is the tone this summer's going to take, I'm so ready!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dear Macy Jane

It was so sweet to finally meet you today!  It seems like we've been waiting for you for so long now, but in the same breath, I can't believe that this day has come so fast.  (Thanks for waiting until after the your baby shower, though.  As soon as you can see color you will know that it was worth hanging out for a couple more days to get those awesome dresses!)

You are coming into the greatest circle of people who already love you so much.  You totally lucked out in the mother department.  Your mother is one of the strongest women I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, and while this will make you crazy when you hit your teens, it's something you'll grow to appreciate, too.  And of course, there are your crazy aunties.  You'll probably recognize our voices, as we aren't exactly known for our quiet and demure ways.  We will be the ones spoiling you and loving on you and teaching you all the things that you shouldn't know.  (Your mother will be so pleased when your first word is winery!) 

Let's just say I think you will like it here.  Looking at you today in your mother's arms, all I could think about is how lucky we are going to be to watch you grow up.  I didn't just see you as a tiny baby, but I imagined a chubby toddler, a little girl, a teenger (eek!)--I just can't wait to see what life has in store for you.

Welcome to the world, baby girl!  We love you already.

Auntie Katie

Friday, May 27, 2011

Please Pass The Dessert! (Show Us Your Life)

If you are joining me from Kelly's Korner, let me start by saying "Hi!"  Come in and have a look around.  I'm thrilled to have you here!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I profess to have only a small amount of cooking talent.  But one thing that I love to make is dessert!  And I have a very easy recipe for cheesecake that I make all the time.  I can't take credit for this recipe because it came from a Hershey's recipe card, but I will gladly share it with the rest of you.

Extra Serving Keebler Graham Cracker Crust  (very important)
3 packages of cream cheese
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 450.  Cream the sugar and cream cheese.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until relatively smooth.  Pour into crust.  Bake at 450 for 10 minutes and then lower to 250 for about 30 minutes.  Let cool, then place in fridge for an hour or more. 

If you're feeling fancy, you can make a hard shell chocolate top by melting 2/3 cups mini chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream in the microwave.  Melt in 20 second intrevals, mixing each time so you don't scorch the chocolate.  When melted, smooth on top of the cooled cheesecake.

Another easy recipe I use all the time is for apple dip. 

1 package cream cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1 package of caramel dip (like you would get to dip apples, not put on ice cream)
1 package of Heath brickle

Cream cream cheese and sugar.  Pile cream cheese mix in bowl.  Spread caramel over cream cheese.  Top with the brickle.

 It is so yummy with apples!  (And if you are lazy you can buy the pre-cut ones and have something to take to a work potluck in no time at all!)

Can't wait to read everyone else's recipes!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursday

This week, my gratitude deserves a list:
  • That we have been spared from the horrible weather that so many others have faced. Yesterday was supposed to be really ugly, and it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. (My prayers are with those in Joplin, MO and lots of other places.)
  • There is only one more school day until a three-day weekend.  Can I get a "Hallelujah?"
  • My 8th graders are done, significantly freeing up a huge portion of my day to take care of all of the other things I do from 8:00 to 3:00 other than teach.
  • We get to have a luncheon/shower on Saturday for Tara and baby Macy.  (Well, as long as Macy doesn't make her escape before then.)  Baby showers are way more fun than say, wedding showers, because baby stuff is just cute!
  • Because as crazy as things have been, they could have been worse.  I'm grateful for even a mustard seed of calm in this mess.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 5/25/11

1. What is something about living in this country that you value? 'This country' is whatever country you call home.

      Pardon me while I get all Government teacher on you.  I tell my students that I find it amazing that a document written more than 230 years ago is still the framework of our government.  We've only made 27 additions to that framework since.  Pretty impressive, right?  We are guaranteed freedoms that people in some countries couldn't even imagine.  It doesn't matter what your political view point is, the Constitution is still the basis of government for us all.

2. What is a favorite something you own that is red, white, and/or blue?

     My latest addition is my BLUE glass cookie jar that was a gift from my auntie.  It's adorable! 

3. Do you fly a flag at your house on patriotic holidays?

     No, but only because I don't have a flag pole or a standard on my house.  The town always puts up flags on the telephone poles, though, and one of them is right outside my house.  So, that counts, right?

4. What ingredients do you think should be included in a great picnic basket?

      When I think of a picnic basket, I tend to think of the wine trail.  So, bread and oil, cheese cubes, cherries, veggies, chips and homemade salsa.  (Just to name a few things.)  We don't normally pack a whole meal, but we pack enough goodies that we are always stuffed by the end of the day. 

5. What is one interesting piece of trivia you know? Interesting is of course a relative term.

      I love trivia!  I was captain of the scholar bowl team in school.  (Yep, I wear my nerd flag proudly!)  But I will borrow my favorite piece from Pretty Woman:  Did you know that your foot is as long as your elbow to your wrist?

6. Wednesday, May 24th is National Escargot day...have you ever tried them? Eww or ooh?

      Snails are gross.  Live ones.  Cooked ones.  I have not ever tried them, nor do I ever intend to.  I just think they would taste like buttery gummy bears.

7. What is one thing you know for sure?

      That God is God and I am not.  (And for that I am truly thankful.)

8. Semisonic said that "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."  Never has that seemed more correct than this week.  Am I right, ladies?

To The Class of 2011

You never know what you have until it's over.  At least that's what they say, and I've at least found it to be true.  Graduation is over.  You've heard all the speeches laced with inspirational quotes about blazing your own trail by now, so this is more about what happens next.  You've reached the end of this journey, but your next one is only beginning.  So, I leave you with a few pieces of advice...

  • In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, " Empty pockets never held anyone back.  Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that."   Circumstances change.  If you don't like yours, use the tools you have been given to change things.  Let your life be an example of how to succeed.
  • You are no longer in high school.  People will have less and less tolerance for "high school" drama.  Proceed accordingly.
  • Love is a great excuse for a lot of things, but it's never an excuse to settle for something less than you deserve.
  • Some dreams may not come true.  And that may suck for a bit, but it's not the end. Life will probably be different than you planned, but that's not always a bad thing. In fact, that tends to be one of my favorite things about life.
  • You're never too old to go home.  (And I'm not talking literally, necessarily.)  We all need a place we can go where people know us and love us anyway, a place we belong.  Some of you may have yet to find that place, but you will know it when you find it.  I promise.
I can't wait to see where life takes you.  (Thank goodness for Facebook!  :)


Miss Miller

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Know What Makes Me Sick...

I'm a little behind on my reading, but one columnist that I enjoy reading is Meghan McCain.  Yes, she's the daughter of John, but she's also a graduate of Columbia University and a best-selling author. 

Apparently, Glenn Beck (boo!) had a little something to say about Miss McCain and her weight.  It makes me angry for so many reasons.  Isn't about time that men (and women) stopped attacking women based on their size.  Particularly those men who are still trying to make us believe that they have a socially relevant conservative voice.  (However, if you are so conservative that Fox News won't air you, what does that say?)  Surely, there's more pertinent things to talk about concerning the direction of our nation than what Meghan McCain looks like in a PSA, right?

Here's the link if you want to see for yourself.  But be warned, it will probably make your blood boil.  It did mine, at least.  I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

Prayer Monday - 5/23

The last week has seemed forever long to me.  That's what happens when I try to pack in as much as humanly possible into such a small space.  But, I have tried my best to have praise on my lips ever since, because it was an amazing week.  There were low points and there were tears, but the blessings of God were obvious throughout.  And for that I am truly thankful.

There are a lot of things going on in my life and in the lives of those I love that I don't know how to pray about.  Quite simply, I'm having trouble finding the words (and you all know how I love words!).  But, Jesus knows.  And when we can't find the words, He will take our groanings and sort them out into something beautiful.  You have to love that kind of intimacy. 

Father God, be with us this week.  Surround us.  Show us that we are not alone in ways that we can't miss.  Hear our prayers, even when we don't have the words to speak them.  I pray for each of the amazing women who participate in this group each week.  Bless our socks off.  We're ready.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

When It Isn't Like You Planned

I've found that when you have groups of friends who are all about the same age, things happen in cycles.  Can I just start off by saying that I not a huge fan of the current one?  Because lately, it seems like all of my people have been dealing with dreams that just aren't happening the way they pictured them happening, myself included.  And that's a tough pill to swallow. 

Let's be honest.  It's not that we actually believe that everything is going to work out like we have it in our heads, right?  Actually, that is part of the problem.  I think we are willing to believe that the little things won't go our way.  When it rains on our day off or we hit every red light, we don't worry too much.  But when the big things, the life-changing things, show up at our door, it's a whole different story.  We grieve for what might have been, for the life we imagined having.  And to say that grief is a complex emotion seems like the understatement of the year.

We all wear our grief differently.  Some retreat into projects at work or at home.  Others soldier on with a brave face.  We may be in tears one minute and laughing hysterically the next, all the while hoping this isn't really our story, that's there's been a great cosmic mix-up.  Eventually, we see that while life may never be the same, it carries on.  New blessings come our way, new problems arise.  We dream new dreams, knowing some may come true but some won't.

I'm ready for a new season to come to my circle, one of new beginnings and big blessings.  I am sure it's right around the corner.  All we have to do is wait.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 5/18

1. What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?

      Purse!  My fridge is dependent on if I have been to the grocery store.  My purse holds my life.  You have receipts, my planner, a camera, my wallet.  On some days, a book or a whole can of hairspray.  If you wanna know who a woman really is, it's all about the purse.

2. When was the last time you went to the zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?

      I love the zoo!  I would go all the time if I lived closer to one.  Sadly, the last time I made it to the closest zoo was in 2008.  I drug Amber there with me, and we had a perfectly nice time until we decided to pet the stingrays.  That was just gross.  My favorite zoo animal is always the giraffe!

3. What social issue fires you up?

     I love to get fired up.  Obviously, education in this country is the big one for me.  Someone posted on Facebook recently a pin that said "Those that can teach. Those that can't make laws about teaching." 

4. Are you a coupon clipper? If so, are you extreme?

     Um, no.  When I find one I will use I will pick it up.  But then I usually forget to take it to the store.  So, I'm pretty much a coupon failure.  Those extreme people would be so ashamed of me. 

5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?

      Lately, it's a tin sign I brought back from Alabama.  I still haven't gotten it hung but I can't wit until break so Dad can come over and help me.

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?

     Neither.  I don't like pie generally.

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?

     Sleep.  It makes me so happy to think of a day when I can sleep in without having to get up to go somewhere.

8.  I only have 12 days of school left.  Hallelujah! 


I know that I am not that old, realistically.  But today, I feel it.  I went with my seniors to the theme park yesterday.  I walked many a hill in my New Balance toning shoes.  And today, my legs are very, very sore.  And my brain is very, very tired. 

I know that I've mentioned, perhaps too often, that I have two incredible busy weeks during my school year.  One is Homecoming week, the other is this week--Graduation.  I try to keep telling myself that it's a marathon and not a sprint.  But as I look at the to-do list and the amount of time left, I have to admit I am more than a little stressed. 

When friends have gotten married, I always tell the bride that no matter what happens, at the end of the day she will be married and that's what counts.  I'm trying to look at this week the same way.  No matter what is rough about it, by the time Sunday gets here, it will all be over for another year.  But Friday, when I am curled up in a ball having my annual freak out, someone may need to repeat it for me.

In other words, pray for me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Update

Consider this proof that I am trying to be better about posting, at least before this next week hits and I'm spending most of my time breathing into a paper sack about things I have yet to do. 

Yesterday was a really great day.  I got up early and went with my state qualifier to the meet.  He didn't get first or anything, but he's had a really great season and I am one proud coach.  Just wished the rain would have held off and it been about ten degrees warmer.  We've has quite the cold snap the last few days.

After I got home and warmed up, it was time to meet the girls for a little dinner and a movie.  Tara and I hit The Pasta House (the salad is to die for) and then met Amber at the theater to see Bridesmaids, which was hilarious!  As a single girl especially, there was something about Kristen Wiig's character that rang so true, making it that much funnier.  But the real scene stealer was Melissa McCarthy (Sookie from Gilmore Girls) who was just insane.  She made me double over several times with laughter, and I have a really loud laugh so I feel sorry for the other patrons (but most of them were laughing, too).   After we left Amber, we stopped to see Casey and waited for her to get off work, then we all somehow decided it would be a good idea to hit Walmart 'til midnight.  (Just us and the carnies, priceless.) 

I can't begin to tell you how good it felt to just relax and laugh, to not think about all the crappy things this week brought.  It was just what I needed.  Now here's hoping that Sunday doesn't come along and screw it all up. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Ate My Last Two Posts

So, it seems that in the system outage, my last two posts (both of which were, of course, brilliant examples of the English language.  Ha!) have disappeared.  This is better than say, my whole blog disappearing, but I'm still a little annoyed.

Just sharing.

UPDATE:  Everything is back to normal.  Thank goodness!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What I Was Going To Say Yesterday

I don't really apologize for the word vomit that was my last post, but I realize that I don't normally post about things that I don't talk about on the blog.  I needed to get it all out there in this situation however, and I really wanted to document exactly how I was feeling so that I can look back on it.  Because--and here's a fun fact--it's a lot easier to just be nice than it is to stand up for yourself.  And this is one of those times where I'm going to have to stand up, and I don't want to forget that.

Anyway, because of the turn of events yesterday, I didn't actually blog about any of things I was planning on blogging about when I got home.  The big news is that Tara is home!   Her arrival marks the beginning of what will no doubt go down as Baby Watch 2011.  (I feel like it needs a header and some fancy intro music like on the news!)  We're trying to convince Macy to stay put until after her shower, but after that it's anyone's guess when she will decide to show up.  I cannot wait to meet her and I know that Tara's going to be such an amazing mom!

I've actually gotten to see at least some of my friends more than usual over the last few days, which is a little strange.  Over the weekend, Casey and I went to see (some might say stalked, but there's no restraining order--yet) our favorite band.  Friday night, we went to a street fair and bought some goodies for Macy while we listened and Saturday we went to a local winery.  (Oh, summertime weather and sangria--how I've missed you!)  I stopped by the studio and saw Sheena before I went to meet Amber for dinner last night, and then went out to see Tara.  After that, Crystal called on me (to talk about the unpleasantness, but we kept talking after that).  Crystal calling the biggest shock because she absolutely hates the phone.  When I saw her number pop up, I was pretty sure someone had died.  Luckily, everyone was fine.  (Well, physically anyway.)  I may get spoiled by actually seeing all these people regularly again, but that's totally the joy of it almost being summer.  My schedule still has a few tight spots in it, but in a couple of weeks it will be all smooth sailing.    I can't wait!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Me, God, and The Problem

***DISCLAIMER:  If you don't know me in real life (or even if you do), this may not make a lick of sense to you and that's just fine.  Let me have this one.  I need it.  You won't hurt my feelings if you stop reading right now.  I promise.***

No one knows how to hurt you like the people that are supposed to love you.  Your family member who picks at an old wound, a friend who disappoints, church people who preach love but practice disregard.  What?  Were you under the misapprehension that church people don't act like that?  I saw you nodding with on the first two, and then you went a little blank.  I would love to feel a little blank right now, instead of the emotion soup I have cooking inside of me.

I love God's people.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I know some of the most amazing, godly people.  I have nothing against them.  I honestly have nothing against anyone, because I'm doing everything I can to move beyond the people and look at the situation.  There comes a time when you have to look at the situation and say, "This is not worth fighting for."   I've come to the realization that I can say what I need to say, and then I can walk.  It shouldn't be this easy--or maybe it should.  After all, the decisions have been made for me, without even a phone call. 

People in the church want to talk about what's wrong with the world.  They say that those on the outside say that "church people" are hypocrits.  (They are sometimes.  So is everyone else.)  We want to stand in Sunday school classes and pulpits and talk about loving one another, then in the next breath make assumptions that are hurtful, cowardly, or just plain mean.  The Church is filled with people, and people are flawed.  I am flawed.  But I'm also tired.  I'm tired of fighting for things that I shouldn't have to fight for or about with people I have no desire to fight with.  I'm tired of the Shield of Faith being used to protect those people who are only brave enough to talk behind others' backs.  I'm tired of having to put my Jesus in someone else's box to be good, right, or holy. 

If you ask me, I will tell you that my walk isn't what I would like for it to be.  I'd say most people who were honest would say the same about their own walks.  My Bible doesn't get read like it should.  Sometimes I fall asleep before I get out all my prayers.  I let events drive me to my knees instead of living there like I wish I could learn to do.  I don't pretend to be a model Christian.  Be wary of anyone who does.  What I am is willing, but it's a really short walk from willing to willing to be taken advantage of.  And that, I am not.

Yes, I Do All My Vacuuming At 4:50 AM

I woke up to a sound no one wants to hear--breaking glass.  I knew immediately what had happened and whom to blame.  Despite the fact that there were two (count 'em, TWO) comforters lying in the floor under my dresser, Delilah managed to knock off my favorite glass bowl full of bracelets, breaking it into two big pieces and a bunch of tiny shards. 

So, after the screaming, and the locking the cat out of the bedroom, I got to vacuum up all the tiny parts as to not end up with glass in my feet.  (Of course, I'm willing to bet that I've managed to miss a piece or two just for fun.) 

Anyone else having a rough start to their day?

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 5/12

1. How many times in your life have you moved house?

     Once.  I moved from my parents' house into the house I live in now.  And that's probably for the best because I have a remarkable amount of stuff for one person.

2. What subject would you study if you had a year to devote to it?

     Photography.  I would love to be able to really know what I was doing and do it well.  Unless I meet that nice, independently wealthy man to finance this, I think I will have to stick to the "learn as I go" method.

3. What in this world breaks your heart?

      So much.  But before much else, it's anything relating to children in peril.  Whether we are talking their health, their home environment, this country or abroad--whatever--it both condenses me to mush and calls my heart to action.

4. What is one item that symbolizes the times in which we live? Why?

      The cell phone.  It's annoying, but I don't know how we functioned before we had them.

5. Share a favorite bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan.

     "Well-behaved women rarely make history."  or pretty much any shirt by The Junk Gypsy Co.

6. How do you like your spaghetti?

     In my belly!  HA!  I am a pasta fiend.  Spaghetti is a friend to the single girl who does not love to cook.  I mean, eight minutes and a little sauce and you have dinner.  Not exactly South Beach Friendly, but it works.

7. What is one piece of advice you would give a recent, or soon to be recent, graduate?

      Take a minute and really drink it all in, because this moment is really good.  But, don't be afraid of your next steps, whatever they may be.

8. I have a hair appointment next week and I can hardly contain my excitement!  It has been too long since I had this mop thinned out and colored.  (And I'm afraid it's starting to show!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The "So, I'm A Slacker" Update

I've been a blog slacker recently.  Apologies.  There's just been a little too much going on, so here's a completely rambling update.  Thankfully, my house didn't flood, but the water was entirely too close for comfort.  Please continue to pray for those who weren't as lucky.  Uncle James is getting close to being in good enough shape to move to the official rehab floor.  Another prom has come and gone and everyone survived. 

After almost two full weeks out of school, the kids come back tomorrow.  It's a little insane to try to get everything taken care for the rest of the year in such a short amount of time, but we'll make it.  I will be glad to be back to the normal routine, or as normal as anything is in May.  There are a lot of things to look forward too between now and June.  I've got three graduations, the post-grad party, four days of testing, a workshop, two awards ceremonies, the state track meet, Tara's baby shower, and probably a ton of things I am forgetting.  And I promise that I am actually really excited about all of it (well, most anyway), just a little overwhelmed.

I'm not sure that I will manage to post a whole lot this month, but I promise I will at least try do a little better.   The operative word is try...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Prayer Monday - May 2, 2011

I have been singing "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns for days now.  It's still raining, but He is still God.  I don't know how else to say it.

  • For those who are losing their homes because of flooding, the number of which seems to be rising every minute.
  • For the people of the South whose lives were changed by the tornadoes there.  I'm thankful that my cousin's family is safe, but I can't help but think of all those families who weren't as lucky.
  • For Uncle James, who is still improving every day.
  • For that personal request.  It's not my information to share, but God knows and I am believing Him.
  • For Tara and baby Macy, who will be here in such a short time.  Praying for a healthy baby and safe delivery and healthy mama too.
  • For all the requests that I am forgetting, because they are many.  I'm overwhelmed, but I am praying that God will hear my heart when words fail.
Father, You are with us in the storms of life.  Even though it's discouraging to see so much devastation, it's not a surprise to You.  You are with us and for us, and with that knowledge how could we ever be afraid?   How do people without that knowledge survive?  Walk with us this week.  Be with each of the girls participating in Prayer Monday and with their requests.  I thank You and praise Your Name.  Amen.