Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A not so reflective end of year post

All around today, I have seen all sorts of reflections on 2008 and recaps of the year. I personally prefer to look ahead to the new year. I told Andy this morning that New Year's is one of my favorite holidays, because it feels like my very own fresh start. A fresh start in my spiritual life, in my marriage, in my classroom and in my diet and exercise. I want to talk a little about each of these.

I pulled out all of my new Bible study materials for the new year and started to glance through them--and I am so excited! I am going to do the M'Cheyne Bible in a year plan, using D.A. Carson's "For the Love of God, Volume 1" along with it. I'm also praying through "Power of a Praying Wife" and doing Beth Moore's "Jesus: 90 Days with the One and Only." We are starting a new Kay Arthur study at church in a few weeks, so I might move Beth to weekends only so I don't get too overwhelmed and just quit.

A fresh start in my marriage. Our house is nice and sparkly clean. Our living room newly reorganized and our drawers and closets all sorted out. All of these are things that mean a whole lot to my husband. If I can keep these things maintained (and basically the whole house picked up and laundry done the right way....I'm really bad at laundry) these will show love to my husband in very practical ways. In fact, when they aren't done, he truly feels unloved and disrespected. It's taken me awhile to figure out why it's so important to him, but this is probably one of the top two or three ways I can show love to him.

A fresh start in my classroom. I've had time away,and I've been able to step back and reevaluate. I can see some things I want to do differently. Assuming I get my tail into gear in the next few days, I'll start out strong, and we'll finish up this six weeks strong. I know what I'm going to allow, and I know what sort of discipline I want to apply (the strict kind....we're going to shape up quickly).

My diet and exercise--I had a good handle on this last winter. When I was at Purdue, my weight wasn't bad, but my fitness was poor. My weight wasn't bad because I wasn't eating a whole lot. My nutritional habits were pretty poor. Plus, student teaching took away my appetite. Then, I got married and started eating a whole lot. And gained fifteen pounds almost immediately. Last winter, I was exercising twice a week with some ladies at church, and I lost about 10 of those fifteen pounds, and was in better physical shape. I had some muscle tone. Then, they stopped doing that for the summer....and I stopped substitute teaching and was home a whole lot. And then the school year started and I stopped doing anything because I was so exhausted. So now I weigh about 20-25 pounds more than I did when I got married. And that's an issue. So I would like to get back into a routine with exercising. I have some of the videos I was doing with the ladies at church, so I want to do one of those at least twice a week. Also, when my grandparents bring my new-old treadmill and bike I can add those into my routine. And, on Monday at Wal-Mart I bought Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I did the first day today, and it was INTENSE. Possibly the most physically difficult 20 minutes of my life. Really, it was kind of sad.

I was reading reviews online, though, and everyone has said that they are amazed at how much their endurance improves in the first five days. So I'd like to do that 3-4 mornings a week before school, since it's so short. Hopefully between that and watching what I eat, I can get into a healthier lifestyle routine. I don't want to overdo it....I want this to be something that sticks.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

101 in more than 1001

So I have seen the idea of accomplishing 101 goals in 1001 days, which is 2.75 years, and I liked it. But I'm going to round up to an even three years. I have been thinking about these off and on for the past few days, and I finally nailed down my list. Of course, in that time I have gained the ability to watch Gilmore Girls from my bed, so who knows if I'll be able to accomplish any goals now. I told Andy yesterday that I didn't need to get out of bed anymore. I'm also not super concerned about doing everything perfectly. A lot of these things have daily/weekly/monthly tags attached to them, and I have chosen to give myself grace if I can't do something everything every day/week/month. So without further ado, here they are:

Goals for myself:

1. Read for pleasure daily

2. Find out how to properly wear make-up

3. Wear lipstick nearly daily

4. Develop a skin-care/beauty regimen

5. Make a wishlist for my birthday/Christmas--give poor Andy some ideas instead of always saying, "Oh, I don't know"

6. Reread at least five of my childhood favorite books

7. Send out a Christmas card

8. Wear my perfume nearly daily--I so want to have a "scent"

9. Keep a good smelling house--thank you to the folks at Scentsy and Yankee Candle!

10. Develop photography skills

11. Visit IMA yearly

12. See some sort of show each year

13. Vacation with my family

14. Vacation with Andy's family

15. Read 50 books a year (45/150)

16. Make at least ten of those non-fiction (10/30)

17. Purchase four "investment" pieces for my wardrobe--boots, good dress, black pants, jeans

18. Relax at the end of each day

19. Go on a girls only trip

20. Have family photos taken

21. Update and keep updated our photo albums

22. Take 2 bubble baths each month (7/72)

23. Spend a whole day in my pajamas and don't feel guilty about it

24. Get ahead and stay ahead at school

25. Get my lesson ideas organized for the next school year during the summer--lay out a basic plan

26. Keep a calendar

For my spiritual growth:

27. Read the Bible daily

28. Finish Bible in a Year plan

29. Read Bible chronologically (in the the order things happened)

30. Complete five in-depth Bible studies

31. Pray for others when I say I will

32. Pray for specific things (people, ministries, events)

33. Be open and honest about where I'm at in life

34. Pray Scripture over Andy

35. Memorize two verses each month (4/72)

36. Take notes over sermons, review them during week

For my marriage:

37. Have a date night once a month

38. Speak only encouraging words about Andy to others

39. Try a new recipe once a month (8/36)

40. Pray daily for our marriage

41. Tell Andy I love him every day

42. Smooch every day

43. Walk together hand-in-hand once a month (2/36)

44. Tackle a home renovation project together (learning patience) --BATHROOM

45. Go on vacation together

For my wallet:

46. Plan our meals (I recently rediscovered a favorite tool of mine--Kraft Foods 1 bag, 5 tells you what you need for a week's worth of food)

47. Use coupons/sale ads

48. Save my change for the next three years

49. Be diligent in saving/giving

50. Fully fund our emergency fund 4/17/09

51. Invest for retirement

52. Start paying off house quicker (I only labeled this one “start” we are now putting extra money on the mortgage each month

53. Save to replace our cars with cash

54. Make a grocery list, shop from it

55. Stick to my weekly spending plan

56. Always put back one item at the grocery store...I always have at least one item I don't need

For our house:

57. Collect crosses for a "cross wall" (if it happens in this house, it will be in the office)

58. Research housekeeping/homekeeping and develop these skills

59. Decorate for the different seasons

60. Clear out house 2x each year, donate unused items

61. Create a warm, welcoming environment

62. Rid our house of clutter, keep it clean and simple

63. Vacuum and dust each week

64. Paint the kitchen cabinets

65. Replace living room furniture

66. Buy new table and chairs (we were given a set to redo)

67. Only buy home accessories that I love

68. Read Home Sanctuary once a week

69. Set up a recycling center in our house--do better at recycling

70. Care for our flower beds in the spring, summer

71. Plant an herb garden on the back porch

72. Redo the bathroom to be more aesthetically pleasing3/09

73. Plant mums in the fall

74. Fill our home with music

75. Create a luxurious, cozy bedroom

76. Organize ideas for future projects

77. Set up a filing system

78. Clean out fridge weekly

For my health:

79. Work out twice a week

80. Drink five glasses of water each day

81. Be at my wedding weight at the end of three years

82. Be confident in a swimsuit

83. Eat more fruits/vegetables

84. Take vitamins daily

85. Be able to jog a 5K comfortably

86. Eliminate fast food for sixty days

For Others:

87. Write two letters a month

88. Talk to my sister once month

89. Mail my sister something each month

90. Adopt an Angel Tree family

91. Support Operation Christmas Child

92. Donate 10,000 grains of rice at (3600/10000)

93. Find ways to encourage the missionaries we support

94. Send birthday and anniversary cards to friends and family

95. Make monthly trips to Hallmark or The Perfect Gift to find cards for friends, family

96. Invite others into our home at least twice a year (1/6)

97. Be intentional about gift giving

98. Keep an address book (to send cards :))

99. Find ways to serve our friends and family at least twice a year

100. Look for ways to serve strangers at least once a year

And the last one:

101. Be more focused and diligent

I'll be sure to let you know what sort of progress I'm making. I might just link to this post in the sidebar, and you can click on it as you please :)

Normal: Not done

Italics: In progress

Strikethrough: Finished

Monday, December 29, 2008

Book Three: The Almost Moon

I finished up my third book of the year last night. It was "The Almost Moon" by Alice Sebold. I had read her first book, "The Lovely Bones," a few summers ago and loved it. I had high hopes for this book, and it only mostly lived up to them. Actually, it really didn't. I hated the first hundred pages, but after that, the book found it's rhythm and got a lot better. It is told from the perspective of the main character, Helen Knightly. In the first page, she reveals that she kills her mother. The book follows the events leading up to her killing her mother and the following twenty-four hours. Throughout the course of the two days, we also see a lot of reflections on her life--growing up with a mother with mental illness, her relationship with her father and his suicide, her relationship with her mother, her failed marriage, and her relationship with her children. There's also some really explicit content, which would make me hesitate to recommend it to everyone. It's an interesting study of this woman's life and deep pyschological issues. It's somewhat entertaining, and just as disturbing as you might imagine a book about a woman killing her mother might be. The writing style is lovely, the language is beautiful. I wouldn't expect any less from Alice Sebold. So...all in all, I'd say this was only okay.
I started a fourth, but we'll see how far I get right now. I think I'm experiencing Stomach Flu: Part I'm mostly laying on the sofa watching the Jon and Kate Plus Eight marathon on our fancy new television in my newly rearranged (and simplified...hooray for throwing things away!) living room.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Five years ago today, Andy Cook asked me to consider semi-seriously dating him.  I agreed in a heartbeat.  Two days later, we realized that we were being fools, and that semi-seriously dating was made-up and that we were most assuredly seriously dating.  But on that special date, December 28, 2003, God began a beautiful thing in each of our lives.  This is going to be long, so please, bear with me.

At the time, I was 18 years old and a sweet freshman at Purdue.  I had gone to college hoping to avoid God, to move on with the Christian part of my life.  I was frustrated and I felt like all I saw of Christians around me was artificial and I was worn out.  I wanted to do my own thing.  But God.  He had a different plan.  Through a series of not so random events, I ended up attending a Bible study in my dorm affiliated with a ministry on campus.  There were studies just like it all around Purdue, and several hundred people were involved.  Soon after I started to get involved, my heart began to change.  I began to see people who were truly sold out for Christ, living their lives for the Lord, and I wanted that.

One of those people was Andy Cook.  Andy was incredibly kind and gracious to me from the very beginning.  He was one of the singers in the worship band, and he had this incredible voice.  People were drawn to him--he was this incredibly big-hearted, open, and loving man.  There were very few of those hundreds involved in the ministry who didn't know him or know of him.  I was totally in awe of him.

We became friends, and eventually reached that day where we became more than friends.  Here we are then.

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I was so completely overwhelmed.  I had just started this relationship with God business, and I was dating this incredible fellow who was so far beyond me.  I felt so unworthy.  In fact, during that period of my life, I may as well have worn a large red U around, because  I felt like it was my symbol.  I felt unworthy of Andy, unworthy of God.  I was so afraid of people finding me out.  I remembered being absolutely numb with fear when I first met his mentor.  I thought for sure he'd see right through me and tell Andy he could do better.

I spent the better part of a year living in this fear.  It consumed me.  My sophomore year of college is a period of time marked with illness and anxiety.  But God.  He had given me Andy, and he had brought me into a Bible study where there were women that I was able to open up to.  I had a mentor that year who encouraged me like no one has ever encouraged me before.  That year, we did Beth Moore's "Breaking Free" Bible study, and that study changed my life in incredible ways.  God began to pull down the walls in my life, to tear off the Unworthy sign that I posted all over myself.  I began to grow and to realize that I was loved.  Through all of that, Andy held my hand.  Every step of the way, he was there encouraging me and praying for me.  That summer we were in Freiburg, Germany and the growth and the refining continued.  This was a deeply painful time in my life.  Through it all, God was building me up.  He was tearing down the walls in my heart and in my life.

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The next few years saw the refining continue, but not nearly in the same extent.  I finished up my college years.  I married Andy, and became Mrs. Ashley Cook.  On that day, I did not feel unworthy.  I felt ready.  I felt blessed.  I was excited and thrilled to begin my life with my new husband.  I was beyond emotional as I thought back at the things God had worked out in my life.  I had hope.



These past several months have been a very trying time.  I have felt moments where the old feelings of unworthiness have crept back in.  I have felt like a lousy wife, a horrible teacher, and a failure at life.  My husband and I have had moments where I thought our whole worlds were crashing down around us and we weren't going to be able to do anything to stop it.  But God.  He has given us a new hope.  He has refreshed us.  He has brought us close to Him.   He has brought us close to each other.   In the days when I thought things were the bleakest, He has shined the brightest.  Today, I have great hope.  I know that our futures are in His hands.  I know that He is in control.  And I have hope.

Two days ago, I was at Hobby Lobby with my mom.  I was glancing over a display of clearanced Christmas items, when something caught my eye.  It was a decoration, the only one of its kind.  There was an angel overlooking a miniature nativity, and to the side of it was the word HOPE.  This small piece brought tears to my eyes and caught the breath in my throat.  I bought it (I'll post a picture when I get my camera back).  It so resonated with me--because that's what God has given me.  Hope.  Through that tiny babe in the manger so many thousands of years ago, I have hope.  Hope of eternal life.  Hope of restoration.  Hope of His love.  Hope of His unfailing promises.  Hope.  Jesus is our eternal, everlasting, unfailing hope.  That's what I have learned these last five years.

And so today, I thank Him for the life He has given me.  I thank Him for the love He has lavished on me.  I thank Him that though I was unworthy, He led Andy to love me.  But most of all, I thank Him that though I am unworthy, He loved me.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Highlights

We're back!  We just arrived home a bit ago...and sort of unpacked.  I like to get things to their location, but I'm not up to putting them totally away I do it in phases.  I had a whole post planned out in my head, but it required pictures, and I left my camera in Indy on the kitchen table of my favorite in-laws.  So I'll recap a few of my favorite moments from this sweet week away.

--Seeing the finished product of the construction at Andy's parents house.  They turned their front porch and living room into a huge new room--it's seriously fantastic.  It looks incredible, and they did nearly all the work themselves.

--Sweet times spent over a cup of coffee with my mother-in-law.  I could spend hours talking over coffee with her.  It's seriously my favorite thing.

--Getting my sister and sister-in-law obsessed with Twilight.  The vampires, they suck you in (oh the funny)

--Seeing family that I only see on Christmas (on both sides), catching up and laughing--oh the laughing.  I also learned that my grandpa recently watched Blades of Glory, which tickled me like no other.

--My dad addressing TWO of my Christmas gifts to Ashlee....that's the way the dog spells her name.  Not me.

--Shopping with mom, always a blast.  The frustration I felt when I realized that my dear cutie Smooch totally called the amount I would spend when I was shopping.  He so knows me.

--Spending a whole evening with Mariah and Shannon....I so enjoyed our time spent over breadsticks.  I love those girls--I love that we have been friends for so long that even when we see each other so infrequently we fall back into our old patterns, like we've been a part of each other's daily lives all along

--My marriage advice from my sweet great-grandma (I won't type it because it hurt my mom's feelings :)) and hearing her tell me that as people walk by they say, "Hi, Doe" and she thinks they are saying "Pie Dough"  Grandma Doe is where the funny's at.  She makes my bladder nearly explode.

There was so, so much more.  But I'm feeling a bit ADD and I can't focus.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The End of a Camera

Yesterday was pretty much a darned good day.

We had Sunday School, which was sweet action.  Andy and I were both able to share a part of our testimon(ies?) with our students, which I always think is so powerful.  I want them to know that I don't have it all together, and that I was really a mess when I was their age.  But God changed that.  We were talking about planning for the future, and the way that God directs each of our steps...and Andy and I were both able to share experiences where things didn't turn out the way we had planned, but they turned out perfectly because God was in  control.  Sometime I'll write out those stories here...because I love them so.

After Sunday School, we had quite possibly the best church service I have been to.  Yesterday's message was so incredibly powerful.  I am still chewing on it.  I keep checking the church website to see if the print version has been posted yet.  It's one to print out and read over and over again.  We were talking about having zeal for the Lord, and for not letting the little things in life crowd out our passion for God.  I have to admit, I teared up...big time.  It was so convicting, and so applicable.

Then after church, we had Papa John's for lunch.  I don't think I've eaten Papa John's pizza for two years, but it sure hit the spot.  They have these garlic parmesan breadsticks that are INCREDIBLE.  They made my mouth so happy.  Until I figured out how many calories I had eaten in that alone.  Then I felt very sad.

Mary Jo and I hit Clarksville for some last minute Christmas shopping (I'm so close to being finished I can taste it!).  It was a total blast.  Target looked like it had been hit by a storm.  A storm of shoppers.  Check out the dollar spot:

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Unless you're in the mood for Hello, Kitty headbands or one of three mini cocktail mixers, you are out of luck.  Other parts of the store looked the same.  Things were just picked over.  We saw a lot of that many of the places we went. 

After Target, we hit the Family Christian store.  There, I nearly knocked over a cardboard display of Jeremy Camp cds when Mary Jo shouted my name and I turned too quickly.  So not only did I make a spectacle of myself, but everyone who turned to stare also knew my name.  Good times.  I forgot to take a picture of the display.  Oops.  I do, however, want to apologize to Mr. Camp.  I do enjoy your music, sir, it was totally an accident that I knocked you ever.

I did, however, get a picture of this (not that you can tell what it is): 

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That would be a box of candy canes labeled, "Jesus, tis no name that tastes so sweet."  Because really, nothing says Merry Christmas like eating Jesus canes.  To be honest, the whole idea kind of creeped me out.  I think it's a bad plan. 

And in case you couldn't tell, that picture signified the end of my camera.  My sweet little Kodak has gone to a better place.  The picture quality has diminished, the battery life has gone away, and now, I can't get it to connect to my computer to put my pictures on my computer, so I think it's time to retire her.  It's a sad time, really.  This sweet camera came on our honeymoon, and captured all of the memories of our first year of marriage.  I hate to put her down, but I think it's time.  This leaves me with a problem, though.  I don't have a point and shoot camera.  I have my super fancy Canon, but nothing for everyday use.  I found a Canon Powershot on Amazon that I like for a fairly inexpensive price...the real issue is convincing sweet Andy to let me buy two cameras in less than six weeks.  Hmm...I may have to do some thinking on this one.

Oh...and this is mildly amusing, at least to me.  I was trying to get my dollar spot and Jesus cane pictures onto the computer when I realized that sweet Kodak had gone to a better place.  So I pulled out fancy new camera, whipped out her super fancy high speed memory card and put in the not-so-fancy 1GB card that I got for free two years I could use the fancy camera to put the pictures from the sad little dead camera on my computer.  It seems so wrong, on so many levels.

And that's the end of this long series of unconnected ramblings.  Can you tell I've had nothing but caffeine today?'s time to get down to business.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Book Two: Breaking Her Fall

I finished my second book today.  It was Breaking Her Fall by Stephen Goodwin.breaking her fall  I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  It was being passed down the grapevine in the English department of my school.  I was warned about the first pages, so I knew what was coming.  I still wasn't prepared.  This book was just too dark, too graphic for my tastes.  The book is about a single father with a fourteen year old daughter and a twelve year old son.  It begins on a night in July with the father receiving a phone call that his daughter has been at a party and done something no father wants to think his fourteen year old daughter knows about.  He then reacts (badly) and a boy ends up getting seriously injured.  The rest of the book is about the fallout of that night, and the way their lives are changed.  I just never enjoyed it, really.  I think I only finished it because the other teachers had recommended it.  I just kept hoping it would redeem itself, but it never did.  So, we'll chalk that one up as a non-recommendation.  I'm sure there will be more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

9th Grade Wit

Today my last classes were taking an exam over their non-fiction unit, an exam that was in no way easy.  Most hadn't been taking things seriously, so I really hit them hard with this one.  Part way through, something very funny happened (note that this is faulty theology and not true to doctrine at was just a funny moment in my classroom)

Student J asks, "Man, I don't even think this is a word.  Mrs. Cook, what's a syntax?"

Student B shouts, "It's what you're going to pay when you get to heaven."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book One: Wuthering Heights

Due to a ven19816ry tiny little snowstorm, and my location in Southern Indiana, I have had some extra time on my hands the past two days.  We had an early dismissal yesterday, and a two hour delay today.  Those extra hours gave me the time I needed to finish up Wuthering Heights.  In an effort to keep it real, I should explain that I was already halfway through the book.  And that I really did nothing else yesterday.  I came home from school (two hours earlier than normal) and graded papers for one hour.  Then I slept for two hours.  Then I basically read off and on for the rest of the night.  I picked up the house a little, and I spent some time with my husband, but that's about it.  He was feeling sick, so I skipped making dinner because he didn't want to eat.  I just ate a half-dozen cookies and some leftover soup from the weekend.

But back to the book.  I so love this book.  And it makes me so sad.  It's dark and dreary.  It would be perfect January reading.  It's a love story, but unlike so many other love stories.  Heathcliff and Cathy are "soul mates" but they are never together in their earthly lives.  He is dark and cruel and hateful.  She is beautiful and selfish and foolish.  The book follows their lives from childhood through death.  Heathcliff is a Byronic hero.  Someone who is deeply flawed and/or deeply troubled.  Someone disinterested in societal norms.  The bad boy most teenage girls want to fall in love with simply because he's dangerous and mysterious (I think that's why my female students are so in love with the fictional Edward Cullen).  It took me close to two weeks to get through Wuthering Heights.  Parts of it are just so dreary, so sad.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nifty Fifty

This week, I started to think about my reading habits...about how I love to read, but I don't always make the time for it.  Of course these past few weeks, anything that required peeling my rear off the sofa after school hours...or any sort of thought...was pretty much out of the question.  Which is why I took two hour naps most nights of the week last week.  Hopefully that exhaustion will clear up quickly.  We had early dismissal today for the frightening inch of snow that came down and has already started to melt, so I can get some extra nap-time today :)

But back to my reading habits.  I realized that I have been pushing my ninth graders to read one or two books every six weeks, but that I wasn't doing a lot of outside reading myself.   I decided it was high time I made myself a reading goal.  One of the staff women with Campus Crusade for Christ at Purdue used to have a goal of reading 50 books in a year.  I was always so impressed by her, and thought that might be a good goal to adopt.  At first, that seemed a little daunting, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might work for me.  As a high school English teacher, I kind of like to know what my kids are reading and enjoying, so if I have a healthy mix of Young Adult lit in with whatever else I'm reading, things will go quicker.  I can read a decent YA book in one or two days.  Heck, I polished off the Twilight series in under a week.  So I was looking at a mix of YA lit, contemporary lit, several classics (I'd like to get through the Bronte and Austen collections), and some non-fiction in the next year.  I'll probably start to share my process and opinions right here, because, well, I can.  But I don't want to wait until January 1, so I'm going to start now.  My first book will be Wuthering Heights, even though I've already started.  I also checked out three other books at the library yesterday--I'll tell you about them as I get to them.

A few of the books I am thinking about:

Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in all Fifty States

The Wordy Shipmates

The Almost Moon

Dairy Queen

Born to Rock

There are several more....but this is the beginnings of a list.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas at the Cooks'

Our house is Christmasified. As Christmasified as it's going to get. My decorations aren't anything spectacular--mostly handmade or hand-me-downs. It's only our second Christmas married, so we haven't started to really add to our decorations. I'm hoping to hit Hobby Lobby and Target with my mom the day after Christmas to add to my stash. I just haven't told her that yet.

But, little bit that it is, I welcome you to our sweet little house. If you were here for real, I'd offer you some World Market peppermint coffee with peppermint mocha creamer. We could sit on the sofa and watch Christmas movies (you can choose--classics like White Christmas or It's a Wonderful Life...or maybe Elf...or we can just turn on ABC Family or the Hallmark Channel, as I have done all weekend long). I'd love to offer you some of the goodies one of our Sunday School students gave us this morning, but I'm afraid I ate most of them this afternoon. I got a little stressed after an exhausting incident with some gingerbread...and consoled myself with chocolate in the wake of the aftermath. But enough about that, let's begin our tour.

The living room:

In the living room, we have our sweet little tree:

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And the shelves all decked out with extra ornaments (I'm down to one empty frame...I'll get it filled eventually)

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And my sweet Great-Grandma Doe's nativity set. This is one of my favorite pieces, it means so much to me to have my grandma's nativity. I think it's just the sweetest.

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Our curtains are decked out with their very own Merry Christmas banner

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And the shelves are proclaiming JOY

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Up on the top, you can see our sweet cookie sheet NOEL sign (and my uneven paint strokes)

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On in the kitchen you can see our SNOW banners attached to candle holders

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And my beautiful wintery flowers from Kroger. Kroger has the best floral department in town. I seriously love it.

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And finally, the real reason for the season.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

An absolutely fun evening

I do so enjoy a spontaneous evening.

We don't do much of that around here.  So when it does happen, it's a darn good time. 

Last night, we ended up going to Target and Applebees with the Hoffman family.  Which doesn't sound like a big deal, unless you remember that the closest Target and Applebees are like an hourish away, so it's not a trip we take too terribly often.

We had a darn good time.  Between sweet little B's voice telling us he was going to "Taget" and he was going to get "poopcorn" and a "dink" and T getting so upset that Andy and I were buying a Handy Manny toy and his parents weren't, the boys kept me giggling.  A few times, when we were a few aisles over, I could hear B asking, "Where's Anny?"   

Of course we can't forget Andy sharing with everyone his love of barbeque flavored dog treats.  Or the way he grabbed a bag to toss in the cart and I asked, "You're buying thirteen dollars worth of dog treats?"  And his response, "I'm worth it.  I deserve a nice shiny coat."  And Andy and I probably shouldn't be allowed in Target without some guidelines.  He ended up buying a "hot pepper bar" of cheese and summer sausage and Coke in bottles.  I wound up walking out with White Christmas and It's A Wonderful Life on DVD (they were together--for THIRTEEN dollars!!)  And all of that is in addition to the stuff we actually needed. 

All in all, we had a darn good night with some dear friends--and I loved every second of it :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A day of moments

Today has been kind of a funny day.  Funny in that I don't think I ever quite got my head tied on straight.  A few examples:

-forgetting to type a sample essay for my class...writing said sample as students worked on another assignment

-forgetting to do about 2/3 of the things students asked me to do

-forgetting to eat my lunch during my lunch break

-getting to CVS, gathering what I need....only to hit the cash register and realize I didn't have my debit card

And I'm sure we'll have more before the night is through.  Mrs. Cook needs some sleep before Wednesday starts

Monday, December 8, 2008

My dream living room

I'm dreaming of room makeover.  Pretty big time.  I'm getting bored.  I want to repaint, and we need some new furniture.  I think it's time to start saving for replacements for our hand-me-downs.  Plus, that way, when Lauren graduates Purdue and goes to grad school, she can have some furniture--she will need the hand-me downs-then!

Here are some parts of my dream:

I'd love a rich, creamy goldeny yellow color--like these:

freshbutter Benjamin Moore Fresh Butter

goldenhoney Benjamin Moore Golden Honey

hawthorneyellow Benjamin Moore Hawthorne Yellow

I'd love a nice gold/red/colored check for our curtains (I'd move the toile back to the guest room and redo it too)...something like this:


And I'm in love with this sectional from Penney's in olive (which totally looks like the Pottery Barn version...just a few grand less).  I would change up the pillows--playing up the golds, greens, and reds.  Probably some browns too.

And this sleeper chair--it looks like the perfect place for me to read.  In the red twill.  Or maybe the one that matches the sofa.

I'd leave my shelves on the wall--just change up some of the accents to meet red/gold/green combo.  Of course, they don't look like that now, even.  They have Christmas ornaments all over right now.

April08 383

I'd love to use these in some sort of decorative way on the wall:

(Multiple of all three colors, in some pattern--with some cream mixed in)


And some other fun pieces...

101 Reasons I'm a lousy wife

All right...I'm not actually going to list 101. But I probably could. And 37 could come from this weekend alone. Like not making chocolate chip cookies for a cookie exchange, when those are the only cookies A likes. Or nearly throwing down over this salad, because he doesn't like "weird things" in his lettuce. Or the rotten fit I threw Saturday night. Or not waking up when he was sick in the night. But the real reason comes down this--I have absolutely no idea what to get Andy for Christmas this year.

I know what he wants, and we intend to buy it after Christmas at sales. I'm sure he thinks that is plenty--but I want to find the perfect gift to give to my husband ON Christmas...not after Christmas when we go and pick it out together. I don't understand why it's so hard....I had my dad figured out weeks ago...I had to narrow down ideas for my mom and sister and his mom and sister. Giving gifts is so not an issue for me. Until it comes to Andy. The man wants for nothing. He is so un-materialistic it's crazy. I have a list of things I want 12 inches long, but not my husband. He's perfectly content. I realize I'm blowing this out of proportion. It's a good thing really. There is honestly no pressure on me....I just put it there unnecessarily.

Have you seen the gifts they have listed online as "great gifts for men?" Not for my man...I'll tell you that.

A multiple gadget power station? Oh wait...he never carries his cell phone, doesn't have a PDA or an iPod.

A personalized photo Rubik's cube? Who doesn't need one of those. Or a personalized branding iron for grilling? Woo-ee. That's hot stuff.

So here I sit...idea-less. Here's to hoping I figure something out soon!

What if I get him a toothpick and call it modern art? Would that work?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Striking a Balance

This latter part of 2008 has been an extremely difficult time.  Over Thanksgiving, I resolved to do a better job of striking a balance, so I wasn't wearing myself out completely.  I was tired and cranky beyond belief....and my nerves were really getting to Mrs. Bennett level proportions.

This week, I have worked towards balance.  I have not let my students wear me out.  Instead...I've been wearing them out.  They have had more and more difficult assignments than ever before.  They have been given detentions at the first sign of misbehavior.  And they are starting to fall in line.  At this point, in the majority of my classes, all I have to do is pull out the disciplinary referral form, and they straighten up.  It's made my job infinitely easier, and I wish now that I had done it earlier.  It's okay, though, it's my first year.  I'm learning from my mistakes.  I'm also figuring out how to best use my time.  I only grade certain assignments, and I currently have my lesson plans through Christmas break done.  And after a marathon session with the copy machine, I have most of my copies made for the early part of next week too.

Other parts of that balance have meant that I have been taking into account how my time is spent.  I have started to do all my housekeeping in the morning, before school, when I'm still full of energy (as much energy as you can have at 5 am).  That means I've been doing some laundry, some picking up and some cleaning just a little bit each morning this week.  And my house notices the difference.  In the afternoon, to unwind a little, I've been reading.  I went to the library on Monday and checked out three books.  Two were pretty fluffy reads that I could finish with a few hours of reading.  They were by a Christian author, about a girl who is in her early thirties and looking for a husband.  They were fairly funny...the last one was about her wedding planning process, and it had some fairly funny moments.  The third book I cheked out was Wuthering Heights, because I'm all about Brit Lit this winter.  I can't find my copy, so I just borrowed one.  In a few weeks, I should be receiving the Jane Austen and Bronte sisters collections I ordered off Amazon.  I haven't spent much time on the computer, or watching tv.  Mostly I've been reading and spending time with my husband.

Andy and I haven't rushed to put up our Christmas decorations...we're doing it a little at a time.  I've been slowly buying our Christmas gifts (just a few more to go...and I need to go to Clarksville for most of that) so that's almost taken care of.  I just have to figure out what to get for Andy, who never wants anything.  Stupid non-materialistic husband. 

And now it's Friday, December 5, and I don't feel like my eyes are glazed over or my hair is going to fall out.  I feel like my mental capabilities are better than they've been in months.  And for that, I'm thankful.