Sunday, May 31, 2009

What to do?

What do you do when you’re on the interstate, your gas light is on, you are traveling 22 miles per hour because you cannot see the road, and the emergency broadcast system announces that funnel cloud formation has been spotted in the exact ten mile radius you are currently driving through?

I cried.  And called Andy.

And cried.

Any better suggestions?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Stranger’s Story

Last night, we went out to dinner.

That’s not really big news.  The week before we went to Subway four times.  This week, just Chinese one time, at least so far. 

While we were at the restaurant though, there were two sweet older couples eating together right next to us.  And Andy and I are kind of people watchers/listeners sometimes.  So we listened to their conversation a bit.

And it was sweet.  And it blessed my soul.

One of the couples must do work with some sort of church or Christian organization.  She was talking about the number of people they have seen accept Christ and start to grow in their faith this year.  Which, truly, is one of my favorite things to hear about….I love hearing ministry updates :)  Neither couple appeared to be from town, it sounded like they meet up at this restaurant once every few years to spend time together.

Then, she started to tell her friend a story about God’s provisions that just truly blessed my soul.  These past few weeks have been hectic and there has been some anxiety in them, and I will admit to you that I have not been walking by faith in the way that I know I should be.  And this woman’s story brought it all into perspective for me.  It isn’t a huge, deep story…it’s just a sweet little story about a Heavenly Father who provided for a couple in a sweet, sweet way.  Do you want to hear the story?

I can’t tell it as well as she did, because it is her story, but I will share the general idea of it.  Earlier in the spring, the couple was leaving to go camping in St. Augustine with some friends (it sounded like this was annual trip).  Before they left, a new friend of theirs stopped by and gave her an envelope, and he told her that he felt that God had led him to give her this, and that she was to use it.  About an hour down the road, they finally decided to open the envelope, and inside was a check for 1000 dollars. 

This year, her husband’s part time work hours had been cut back, and his taxes had been calculated incorrectly, and they owed the federal government 800 dollars, out of their salary that was smaller than before.  This 800 was going to be a real hardship for them, and they had been praying and trying to figure out how they were going to pay it. 

Then this check arrived.

And blessed they were.

On their trip, their RV tire had an issue and needed to be replaced.  They did not have a spare tire, and they needed to find a replacement.  There was a Wal-Mart up ahead, and they pulled in to see if they might have a tire.  The man at Wal-Mart said that they did not carry RV tires, but he’d go ahead and check to see (mostly to make them feel better).  They had two of the exact tire in stock.  Sitting right up front, next to the counter.  And they had not been special ordered.  The Wal-Mart man couldn’t believe it.  He said that had never happened before.  He didn’t know what to do.  So he offered them both tires for 100 dollars each. 

And the rest of their check was spent. 

And blessed they were. 

This family trusted God, and He provided for them.  Oh, it may not seem like much—taxes and tires, but I am telling you what, that woman was more than excited to share that story with her friend.  Oh, it is so sweet to trust in Jesus.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

If you are ever sleeping with me, and you wake me out of a dead sleep (my first in weeks) and grab my arm and shout, “Baby, the spiders are potato-ing!”  I will not be pleased.

Then, if an hour or so later, after I have finally fallen back asleep, you roll over and shout, “HEY!” thus waking me again, I will be even less pleased.

Now I need to go yawn my way through my day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My friend Jillian

So, I have an on again/off again friendship. And it's one that I'd like to be more on than off. That relationship is with my friend Jilllian. Here she is:

Jillian was a New Year's impulse buy at Wal-Mart. Our beginning relationship was rough. I thought she wanted to kill me. She might have. But then, I started school again and our friendship sort of went by the wayside. Then, over spring break, we picked back up again. Only to fall back off again after spring break. Early in May I decided that I needed to be more diligent in my exercise. And I was. For about ten days. But then school....

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Well, today I had an "OHSHOOT" moment.

An "Oh shoot, Lauren's wedding is in less than two weeks" moment.

An "Oh shoot, my vacation with Mariah, Shannon, and our mamas is two weeks from tomorrow" moment.

And an "Oh shoot, I am going on a BEACH RESORT VACATION with my husband in like exactly a month" moment.

What caused that "Oh shoot" moment? When my new pants (the ones that are a size smaller that I bought in March?) were fitting funny today....and I realized it was because the waistband was just a pinch too tight.

So I have renewed my relationship with Jillian. And I have Andy keeping me accountable. He's brave like that. Jillian and I are hanging out....and I'm cutting back on my serious snacking issues. And hopefully it will pay off by the time I go on my second vacation. Do you hate me? It's okay if you do.

Andy called at 5 to tell me that he would be late tonight because he has some things that HAVE TO BE FINISHED TOMORROW...and there is not enough time in his tomorrow. I told him that Jillian and I have renewed our relationship, but I think she's kind of mad at me....because she made my arms feel like Jell-o. He laughed at me, but I think he's glad we're back together....he knows how much better things are when Jillian and I hang out. Earlier in the month, I was preparing to move up to Level 2, but then I fell off the wagon, but I'm hoping I can do it in a few days this time around. I'll keep you up to date :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Food

One of my favorite things about summer is summer food. And we have enjoyed it in full force this weekend. I love grilling season, salads, and eating outside. Light sandwiches, fruit, vegetables and all sorts of yummy-ness. So far we've grilled chicken and brats (burgers are up next) and plowed through strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. We've polished off tomato and onion salad, regular romaine salad, corn on the cob, and grilled zuchinni. And it's been oh-so-good. I'm craving a bagel with veggie cream cheese...or maybe an English muffin with hummus and tomato and onion....or avocado, cucumber, and turkey. I may need to make an extra trip to the store. I couldn't find any avocado at Kroger yesterday, so I may run to Wal-Mart after school (and break my one month fast....for avocados, it's worth it) and grab one.

Here are a few recipes from this weekend:

Tomato Onion Salad
4 large tomatoes, cut in slices (we just used 2 medium)
Red Onion, sliced (I used half, and it was too much)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1.5 T balsamic vinegar
Pinch of salt (large pinch of salt), sugar, pepper
Fresh basil

Mix oil and vinegar and seasonings. Arrange tomatoes and onions in serving dish. Cover with chopped basil. Pour oil mixture over top. Let the whole mix sit at room temp. for at least two hours before serving.

I took down the black bean and corn salad, because after I let it sit overnight I wasn't as fond of the taste. The other person eating it may have taken one bite, put down his fork and said, "I do not like this at all."

The vinegar was too grape-y, and the whole thing had a weird sweetness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Books 17-19

So I have lost momentum on my reading. Apparently I'm not as good at balancing things as I once hoped. Most days, I make it home from work and end up asleep or, you know, just staring comatose for a few hours. So....I read these three books closer to my spring break. In March. And I haven't posted about them. Or read anything else. Maybe this weekend? Maybe not.

We'll see.

But I have a lot of papers to grade.

And a final exam to write.

And a study guide to create.

And some gardening to do.

And lesson plans for this next week.

So, who knows.

But my last three books were:

"Not Buying It" by Judith Levine.
Levine and her partner chose to not spend any money (beyond essentials like food, bills, etc) for an entire year. It was interesting. I don't agree with most her opinions on anything in life, but I was intrigued by the way not spending money affected her so much.

"The United States of Arugula"
Not as interesting as I thought it would be. It was a multi-decade look at the gourmet food culture in the United States.

"It's All Too Much" Peter Walsh
The guy from the TLC show Clean Sweep offered practical tips for the average person. Informative, to be sure. Not that I've done anything with the information :)

I hope to read something more fun soon. I'm going to need to read a good bit this summer in order to complete my goal of 50 books this year. If nothing else, I have some serious driving/flying time coming up with my vacations in June/July.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Small Town Blow

Last night, as Andy and I came home from dinner, we saw serious smoke.  Andy commented that it didn’t look good, but we didn’t think too much of it, because, well, we’re in Southern Indiana and people burn things.

Then we got home.  And I checked Facebook….and saw that something was definitely on fire.  And it wasn’t good.

Last night, our county courthouse was on fire.

From what I have seen (and the sheer number of hours it took to get the blaze under control), it was bad news.

The courthouse had just finished being renovated, because the town’s bicentennial celebration (being marketed as a 200 hour party) starts June 6.  The dome of the courthouse had been painted gold, and the whole thing looked just lovely.  I had just been admiring it that afternoon when I ran to the post office downtown.

The building was close to 155 years old, and it’s going to be a big loss to the community.  I can’t even begin to think about the records that were lost, it’s too much to even wrap my mind around.  We’re just so thankful that no one was injured.  The first calls came in after 6, so the employees had gone home for the day.  The county jail is attached, and they moved the inmates to another area, and they are now being housed in another county.  Two other historic buildings, the old city hall and a lodge building (the Elks, maybe?  it was the summer before I moved here) caught fire in 2006. 

I saw from Facebook that one of my co-workers was downtown through a lot of it, so I’m interested to hear what she says about the whole experience.  Because I truly don’t have any idea.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hello, My Name is Ashley

…and I have an addiction.

Now you chime in, “Hi, Ashley.”

And I share my problem.

I am an early morning online shopper.  I try to balance the checkbook, check my email, and take care of a few things around the house before school, mostly because I know that I won’t have the energy after school.  But every so often, I am lured into the hallowed online stores of some of my favorite places….and I make a rash decision.  A decision that later in the day, I would avoid.  But my sensors aren’t all firing yet, so I go ahead and click “submit order.”

And spend the next week anxiously awaiting my packages.

And they run the gamut.  I’ve ordered plants (my lily bulbs are coming up nicely…and I have about 100 tulip, daffodil, iris, and crocus bulbs arriving this fall).  I have ordered new bedding (a lovely white quilt from Target…I can’t wait to get it on the bed), fabric (for pillows to go with the quilt), and clothes (some great pants from Ann Taylor LOFT and shorts from Old Navy).  What I have to admit to you is that I’ve ordered all of that in the last 30 days. 

Yup.  This past month I’ve been on a shopping spree.  I haven’t overspent, but I sure have been enjoying the pleasures of online shopping.  What’s interesting is that I don’t actually like it that much.  It’s just convenient.  I can drive an hour to get to Old Navy, or I can plop my rear down and click a few buttons.  I can drive two hours to Ann Taylor LOFT, or I can just hit send.  Do you see the problem? 

Clearly, I need to live in a town with access to these stores.  I talk myself out of things MUCH better in person.  Until then, though, I’m going to enjoy my lilies, bedding, and pants and shorts :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Years

Two years ago today, I became Mrs. Smooch Magee. Or Mrs. Andy Cook. Whichever is on his driver's license (not the Mrs. part....just the name part). I just call him the stinking best husband. We had a MUCH improved anniversary over last year (when my identity was stolen).

Andy had one vacation day left that needed to be used by the end of the month (more on that on June 1) and I had a personal day at school, so we both took the day off. It was delightful. We slept in (which rarely happens...though we did sleep in one morning at my parents' house last weekend). After a relaxing morning at home, we headed out of town to celebrate. We had a sushi lunch (and discovered that I don't like sushi...I can't get over the I didn't really eat much lunch) and went to Target where I stocked up on some things I needed, like new workout shorts and t-shirts and I got these darling pink and green pajamas that have birds and birdcages on them (I'd been eyeing them for over a month). Andy found "School of Rock" and "Orange County" on DVD together for 7.50, so we snatched that right up :) We did some more shopping and got new phones (I FINALLY have a working cell phone) and headed home. We've spent the evening relaxing and I'm catching up on schoolwork. All in all...I've had a lovely day with my lovely husband.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Summer Projects

All year long, I have thought and thought and thought about what I was going to accomplish over the summer.  Then I realized that my summer break was a scant 8 weeks, and I’ll be vacationing for at least two of them.  And trying to start planning and organizing for next year (now that I know what to expect, I’m making some mucho serious changes).

So I quickly realized that I would not be able to accomplish everything I had in mind.  So I’m breaking it down into pieces, and will get back to the rest in the future.

1. Gardens.  My current flower beds look good (thanks to a truckload of plants from Andy’ mom’s garden…woohoo for transplants.  I’ll be honest, I got a bit teary.  I have plants that Andy’s mom and grandma have tended in my garden…how special is that?).  However, our backyard transformation has moved into it’s next steps.  Andy killed off a section of weeds that were in the back around our trees, and we’re creating a HUGE shade garden in the areas where grass won’t grow.  So once he takes care of ordering topsoil and getting it in, I’ll be off to planting again.  Hey Mom or Grandma, do you have any plants that work well in shade that you’d like to give me a transplant?  If not, that’s fine…but wouldn’t that be sweet?  I could have plants from everyone’s garden in mine….mmm, I love that idea :) 

And then we’ll bring our pretty patio furniture home (it’s Andy’s parents’ and they gave it to us but we haven’t picked it up yet because our yard isn’t worthy yet…..I dream of sitting out on my patio in it, sipping lemonade).

2. The kitchen.  Andy’s parents are hoping to come for a weekend, and our plan is to change out the kitchen floor and countertops.  I know exactly what I want here….we just have to do it!  Then we’ll repaint (the kitchen floor will be significantly lower, so we’ll have to move our molding and stuff) and I’ll decorate and all will be finished for now.  I may try to finagle a new microwave out of the deal; our current one is probably my age.  And maybe a kitchen table.  We’ll see.  That might have to wait.

3. The bedroom.  This is a project in which I need my mom’s help.  I ordered a sweet white quilt (completely washable) and shams, and some darling fabric in shades of pink, green, and aqua.  I want those to become pillows, a bedskirt, and window treatments.  Then I just need to declutter that room and rearrange furniture, and finish repainting the last two walls that are still not the correct color after the great paint mishap of 2008.  A quick trip to Hobby Lobby and I’ll be probably be pretty set in there too.  Finagling for that room—a new closet door and bedroom door (the interior doors in our house our UGLY and I want them all changed).

4. The office.  Our office has some serious issues.  Not the least of which is storage and organization.  I want to redo this room, and make it more appealing and workable.  I’m leaning toward a khaki/red/brown color scheme, but I want to paint the currently red walls a neutral color.  This room is too small for such a strong color.  It’s a beautiful color, but I’m over it.  I would like to figure out a workspace situation, because Andy and I both do so much from home (I do crazy amounts of schoolwork and he has a lot of freelance projects) that we need a more functioning space.  I would also like to set up a sweet seating area for the nights when he’s doing freelance and I’m grading papers or reading, so we can stay in the same room and hang out.  This is the project that I think my sister can help with….she is an excellent painting partner and Hobby Lobby trip-maker (second only to Mom and Andy’s mom…though she could give them a run for their money, because she usually understands my ideas better), and I want to find a reason to make her stay with me for several days this summer.

4.5  This isn’t a whole project.  I just need to finish painting a piece of trim in the bathroom, and find something to hang on the wall.  I think I figured out what I want….Andy just has to make it for me.  He’ s going to use Photoshop to transform two pictures from our time in Freiburg (4 years ago…crazy) into a watercolor look.  I have always regretted not buying prints from the street vendor, and he’s going to help me fake the look I want.  It’s only a half project because I could easily take care of it in one afternoon for little to no cost.

Maybe 5.  This is where things start to dwindle off.  I’m not sure this project will happen this summer.  It may wait for fall break or Christmas, but the living room is still pretty high on the priority list.  We need to replace the carpet and start buying our own furniture (since everything in there is a mismatched hand-me-down).  I’d also like to repaint this room.  I love the green, but it shows everything so the walls look dirty.  I know precisely what I want for this room (I drew a picture two weeks ago and it’s hanging on the fridge) but  think it will be too much to finish in one summer.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Satisfying List

As a college student, I was always able to make a list and check it off as I went.  I might start the semester know I would have sixteen papers to write, 32 books to read, and 14 major class projects (my numbers may skew slightly high, but not by much).  As I got through each one, I could cross it off on my master list.

In the grown up world, there is no master list.

The list changes every day.  It grows and does not end.  I can cross off days on a calendar.  I can know that once I FINALLY get student essays graded I only have one more major project left to grade.  But I still have worksheets to create, a final to write, and students to corral for the final 19 days of class.  Beyond that, I have already started to block out things for next year (because I am nothing if not a glutton for punishment).  And I’m trying to learn to use this online program that will make my class more web-based and give my student’s more responsibility.  Ultimately, it will be a timesaver, but it requires a lot of up-front time.  I guess what I’m saying is that now that I am an adult, my list looks different.  I might get through my tasks for the day, but there is no real end in sight. 

My list has extended to other areas too.  I have a list of projects for the house.  Truly a list for every room.  A list of rooms to clean (and just as soon as they are crossed off, it’s time to put them on the list for next week).  A list of things to do in the yard/garden.  A flower bed that is constantly in need of weeding.  A vegetable garden that could quickly become overwhelmed with weeds if this rain doesn’t knock it off.  A list of people I need to write to, people to call, appointments to make, things to do.  Each day that I knock off a few, something else appears.  I know that will only continue as we get older, have more commitments, and start having children and their appointments and commitments.

So, basically, I still live by my lists.  I still get the feeling of satisfaction from crossing things off the list.  It just doesn’t seem like the list will ever end.  And for that, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today.  I looked at my sister’s Facebook status (she likes lists the way I like lists….we’re more alike than we ever thought we’d be) and she is down to mere hours at Purdue for the year, and then she’s celebrating with a trip to Chicago, her future home for a few years.  And her list will shorten.  She’ll be home for the summer.  She’ll still be busy (because she’s my sister and my mother’s daughter….she doesn’t know how to not be busy) but she may let her list go for a bit.  I usually did.  It was nice.

But I wouldn’t go back.  I may have my moment of nostalgia this morning where I wish I could still be a college student.  But I love being a wife and a teacher.  I love that I have a small callous on the top of my left palm that is from working and writing with my wedding rings on my hand.  I noticed it this week for the first time, while at school.  We were talking about the rough hands of a character in our story, and I was showing my students my hands as a comparison….as hands that were not rough, had not seen a lot of physical labor, and I noticed my small callous.  I have been married long enough that my wedding band has rubbed a callous on my hand.  Oh, I just love that. 

I love that when my husband comes home from work, the first thing he does is grab hold of me and give me a hug and a kiss.  I love that he loves my lists.  They tickle him to no end.  He’s more of a do it and move on kind of guy, and it doesn’t really phase him if he forgets something, so he doesn’t see the need for lists.  Or file folders full of pictures of house ideas.  Or computer folders dedicated to the ideas I have for each room of the house.  Or plant magazines with post-it notes explaining where I would place each plant.  Or the obsessive search for the perfect white bedding (I’m leaning towards a white quilt at Target) in my semi-redo of the bedroom that he doesn’t really know about.  Or lists of books I want to check out from the library with their id number next to them, so I know where to go to get my book.  Or a paint deck with post-it notes explaining where I want to use each color.  Or any number of things that I do that make little to no sense to anyone else.  But he adores me.  And that makes my neverending lists completely worth it.

Now, I’m off to start my list for today so I can make sure I’m ready to go to Indy in a few hours. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I knew we would have famous friends

Andy and I have some of the coolest friends. They are talented in a variety of ways, and all so special. Andy came home tonight to tell me about one in particular who has a true claim to fame right now. Go here to read about Andy's friend EJ. Of course, now he is Elijah Windsor, but when we were at Purdue he was EJ, or Edge (say e-j like one word).

EJ is a truly special man with a real heart for ministry. God used him in mighty ways at Purdue to begin two ministries focused on different groups of minority students. He is a geniune man with a genuine passion for Christ. He is also an a-MAZING freestyle rapper....seriously impressive. I think he tried to help Andy try it once, but it didn't work out so well.

Here's to our famous friend! If you have an i-Phone, download the Dog Thoughts app and support EJ!

Monday, May 4, 2009


So, I have sprayed hairspray and carpet cleaner, rubbed hand sanitizer and nail polish remover and toothpaste, and tried the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Google has failed me.  While the pretty angel on my purse is now lighter, she is still in existence.  Before I go the brooch route, I may just try the “cross my fingers and hope the Target by my in-laws house still carries my purse” route.  We’ll be there eventually this weekend and I need to make some returns at Old Navy and Ann Taylor (because I’m officially giving up on online shopping), so I could swing by and check it out.

Transitioning now.  I make my students keep a list of transitions and learn to use them all properly.  Transitioning now is strangely not on the list.  Anyway, I like words.  I like them a lot.  It’s probably why I was an English major.  And am an English teacher.  I’m a big fan of words.  I try to fit as many of them as possible into my day.  Sometimes I have to consciously slow down when I see a look of bewilderment on the faces of those to whom I am speaking.  Sometimes I have to consciously change the words I am using, because the people I talk to the most (the 15 year old set) have no clue what I am saying.  Sometimes, though, I don’t like words.

In fact, there are a lot of words I don’t like.  I find more every day.  But here is a sampling of the words that really just creep me out.  Like I get a chill down my spine and a feeling of distaste in my mouth.  Or I just think unkind thoughts.  Do other people do this too?  Or is it just me?

hubby—He’s my husband, thankyouverymuch.  Never refer to him as a hubby.  Disgust me.

preggo, preggers—also not cute words.  Sick me out.  Prego is a spaghetti sauce, not a term for a woman with child.  Preggers sounds like chiggers, and they bite.

Please know that if you say to me “My hubby and I are so excited to be preggers.  I just love being preggo.”  I probably won’t be able to be your friend anymore.  Unless you can get the angel off of my purse.

Moist.  I know there are others with a distaste for this word.  I have discussed it with them.  I think it’s oi sound with the s….it just sounds disgusting.

Chub, rub, club—anything that ends in –ub, basically.  It’s just a really ugly sound.

Any form of any slang word for any form of a body part. 

The phrase, “I know right”  At first, it was kind of fun.  Like the “seriously” craze of 2006.  But I learned something.  Word crazes like these are only fun and cute when you’re the one using them.  When 24 different people 4 different times a day are using a phrase, it becomes repetitive and just a little maddening.

And there are so many more.  But most are words I’ve heard recently that aren’t fit for hearing.  So tell me….does anyone have any words that bother them?  Or know of any other tricks to save my purse?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Why Shouldn't You Leave Your Purse Unattended?

I am completely aware of the double negative-ish thing going on there in my title.

But I'm not going to fix it.

Do you know why you shouldn't leave a purse unattended? Identify theft? Stolen credit cards? Loss of the perfect lipstick?

Oh no.

Not in my life.

Leave your purse unattended after the ladies luncheon at church, and you just might find this:

That's right. A drawing in ink on your purse. What do you think? I'm thinking she's an angel? but she doesn't look so angelic on my sweet purse. Now that I've shown you my pretty angel, I'm off to google "removing ink from fake leather"

Here's to hoping we can save the purse. Or my next google search will be "really cute brooch" so I can cover it :)