Sunday, September 21, 2014

Letters don't define you

Today is Bid Day at Ole Miss. It's one of the most exciting days for some and most traumatic for others. I hate the process. I really do. There is a whole bunch of girl drama that ensues. My philosophy has always been to avoid drama at all costs. Seriously. Maybe that's a little extreme because you will encounter disagreements along the way. Most of the time, the stuff that comes up is petty. It's hard not to get your feelings hurt but look at it as their loss if they don't take you. You have a lot to offer somewhere else.

A friend sent me a post earlier that basically was a reminder to set your eyes on things eternal. The only thing that matters is what God we serve. I thought that was so good for young girls to hear. Your bid card doesn't define you.

This is the same advice that I will give to my girls. 5 things:

1. Be genuine. Even if others aren't. Be yourself.

2. Your reputation is everything. It's hard to reverse it once the damage is done. Live your life for one goal. To point others to Christ. Will you mess up sometimes? Absolutely.

3. Be comfortable in your own skin. Confidence is important.

4. Grades and community service are VERY important. You will not be considered if you don't maintain them.

5. Don't pre-judge. Just because someone doesn't make a good first impression, try to get to know them anyway. I don't make a good first impression. I know this about myself. I'm probably not warm and fuzzy and bubbly the first time I meet someone. That's not my personality. It takes me a while to warm up. Give them some time but don't give up on them.

I didn't do what my mom did. I chose my own path. We joke about it but I am glad I branched out. I made my best friends through my sorority and was given so many opportunities through it. Sending up prayers for all of those involved in Bid Day today!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When the husband's away...

This has been one of those weeks. One of those weeks that I am absolutely blessed to have but exhausts me. School has been amazing. I love, love, love my new job. As in, I could do this forever. However, home has been cray cray.

Thursday I thought that Andrew would walk in the door and literally turn right back around and leave. He was in Houston all week on a work trip. Every time I talked to him I reminded him that he should relax and enjoy his quiet hotel room. (He has a tendency to not sleep well when he is away.)

Mom and dad claimed Addie as their own for the first 2 days to help me out. Morning one: she woke up with pink eye. Good start. My dad (whose job is way more important than mine) worked from home and let Addie stay with him.

Morning two: she woke up with a runny nose, tummy hurting, sore throat. I thought she was milking it and said and I quote "I'm not taking her to the doctor because she just has a runny nose." 
Elle had her 2 year checkup at 4:00 with shots which she called "bites." Did I take Addie? No. What did I end up doing? Calling the after hours clinic around 6:00 because she started running fever and throwing up mucus. (TMI)

Mom was right. There, I said it.

Day three: Took her to the doctor only to find out it's a sinus infection. Whaaaaat?! Called later to check on her. Dad had bought her a scooter and she was riding it around all day in the house. Sounds back to normal...right? There's more. When I picked Elle up from school, her body was covered in red polka dots. Was it from the vaccines? No. It was the tail end of a virus that we had no idea she had.

Day four: Got a call from Elle's school that she had spots all over and possible fever. I was in a meeting so I am texting under the table to figure out the pick up situation. Andrew pulled into town around noon and had to go pick her up. Welcome back, honey.

Day five: Sent Addie to school only to have her fever spike again and get a call. Fine all afternoon at school with me. Boom, sick again at night.

You get it. It was crazy! I started my weekend with a relaxing but challenging Pilates class and now I'm ready to watch some football and lay around on the couch. Pray that everyone will rest and be back to normal on Monday. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 years removed

Not many people show up with a double stroller and 3 kids to their 10 year high school reunion. We did...and we brought up the rear on the school tour. Turns out stairs, weight rooms, double strollers, and cranky kids don't mix. 

We opted out of the upstairs tour only to realize all of the doors downstairs were locked. Instead of going back out to the football game like normal people we decided to pile into the tiny elevator, go up and get the keys, pile back into tiny elevator, and unlock every door leading to the rest of the group. The entire time Elle was trying to Hulk her way out of the stroller straps. Logic was not something we were after. 

Elle also peeled off her shoes, socks, and bow and threw them out of the stroller along the way. Lovely.

It took us about 15 minutes to figure out how to get out of the weight room at the end of the tour. Our stroller wouldn't fit between the machines. We finally found a wider gap, opened the door to go outside, laughed at the 3 large steps, and plunged down them anyway. There was no other way. Comedy of errors but hey, live and learn.

Why would I go on the school tour when I teach there, you ask? Good question. I guess I wanted to see the school through the eyes of people who haven't been back in 10 years. I don't know. The stories were well worth it. 

I have to admit that I kind of dreaded the weekend. Sorry guys. It's not that I didn't want to see anyone from high school; it's just that I feel like I have changed so much since then. Turns out life has humbled us all. 

Andrew had a great time playing golf with the guys and I enjoyed catching up with everyone and meeting spouses. Looking forward to the 20 year. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EVERY day is a gift

My heart has been heavy this week. There are a lot of young people hurting in our community. Tomorrow hundreds will gather at a funeral to pay respect to a young man who died too soon. During his football game. It's not fair. It's not.

I remember how it feels to lose a friend. I know how helpless you feel as a bystander. It's ok to be sad. Grieve. You can still smile and laugh and remember the fun memories. Don't feel guilty for that. You don't have to forget, but you have to keep going.

Another set of young boys were one week into their freshman year in college, made one wrong choice, and are now struggling to find reality. We have all made bad choices. No one is immune to messing up. But why did this happen to them? I don't know. But I do know that God is in control and using this. 

These peaks and valleys that you are experiencing in life are shaping you. You shouldn't have to go through losing a friend. But through these experiences you learn to trust God, you learn that you are not in control, and you learn that every day is honestly a gift. EVERY day. Even the bad ones. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Guest Post!

First guest post of the blog is from my friend Diane Hutchings that is so crafty. She is always cooking amazing things or creating something awesome. I basically asked her 3 simple questions and she ran with it. 

Hi y'all! I'm Diane Hutchings, a Southern girl at heart, born and raised in Ohio. My husband Lee is a pastor in Ridgeland, MS. Our son and joy, Harper is 14 months! 

When and where did you learn to sew/cook/craft?

I started cooking at a very young age-I've always been very tall, and could use the real oven at age 6! I grew up on a small, family farm in Northeast Ohio, where my parents made most things from scratch. Hunting, gardening, cooking, and canning were all a huge part of our daily lives. My mom used to say that she lost all her slave-labor when we moved takes a lot of work! I grew up cooking almost every night of the week, learning from both of my parents. They are both incredible cooks, and I definitely developed my love for food and cooking from them! 

Who inspires you?

Before we were married, my sister and I used to get together on Tuesday nights and cook difficult recipes we had found online, or in our vast cookbook collection. Those were really fun times! My sister Rachel now  lives on a sustainable farm, and inspires me with her farm to table approach to food. I'm also inspired by many of my talented friends, different food blogs, and fresh, local produce. Any cookbook by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa is guaranteed to have fantastic recipes. She's definitely a favorite of mine! 

Favorite recipe?

I have so many favorite recipes! I typically cook 5 nights out of 7 at our house. I love to throw together easy meals like chicken stir fry and baked pasta, but I also love more complicated meals like crepes florentine and stuffed peppers. If I could eat cheese and french bread with salted butter for all meals, I totally would! Or caprese salad...or brie en croute...or peach, coconut muffins...or spinach quiche..I just love good food, and I love to cook! It relaxes me and gets my creative juices flowing! 

I have made this chocolate cake 3 times in the last month. It *seems* healthier to me because of the almond meal, but it's just plain delicious! Even my husband, a cake connoisseur, says he likes it better than my two-layer-chocolate-buttercream-frosting cake. WIN! 

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

  •  cup regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal/flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Grease a 9inch springform pan with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. Measure and sift the unsweetened cocoa into a bowl and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
  3. In another small bowl, combine the almond meal (or flour) with the baking soda and pinch of salt.
  4. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have an aerated and thickened cream.
  5. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
  6. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very center, on top, still looks slightly damp. A cake tester should come up mainly clean but with a few sticky chocolate crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Let it cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its pan, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with some ice cream or homemade whipped cream. 

Thanks for sharing Diane!! My house has lots to be desired in the cooking and cleaning area. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Meet the Rebels

We had such a fun day at Meet the Rebels last Saturday. This was our first year to go to this and I had absolutely no idea how big it was. The girls are in the Rebel Kids Club (thanks to Toddy and Poppy) which lets them get into some events early and others free. They get a little swag bag with random goodies. It's a neat little deal if you have kids. 

Pulling into town, we thought we would run by and pick up our stickers to get in, grab a bite to eat and then come back. It was such a great plan until we pulled up to the practice facility and saw the massive "early entry" lines. Crazy town. Of course we joined the madness and went on in. 

It was pretty awesome. The kids got to run around on the turf, take pictures with cheerleaders and Rebelette's, and Elle met the bear. No one is a fan of the bear except for Elle. She would not leave him alone. Seriously, she stared at him and took pictures with him for a good portion of our time there. 

The lines to get autographs were forever long and I knew there was no way we were doing that so we left to go pick up a friend, ate a late lunch, and came back to see Sean. They went about an hour over on autograph time but the girls finally got to give him a hug and talk for a little while. These girls LOVE their uncles. 

I'm so glad we are close enough to share all of these cool experiences. They have been raised in the gym watching Alec and Sean play basketball, in bleachers watching MRA, and now will have new Grove and Vaught Hemingway experiences. 

Football practice preview

A couple of weeks ago, we made a quick trip to Oxford to watch Ole Miss football practice. We didn't get to see Sean on his birthday so the point was to deliver a cake, wave at him from the bleachers of the stadium, and hang out with Alec for a little while

The goal to leave our house was 7:00 am. We pulled out of the driveway at 7:35. Close enough. Bottles, pump, diapers, wipes, paci's, stroller, umbrellas, face tattoos, you get it. We packed the house and all 3 kids into our minivan and trekked to Oxford to watch practice.

Elle is my dad's little buddy so he took her down to the bottom of the stadium and let her run around while he watched. She was content and climbed and ran and played for minutes. Several minutes. And then Dad was done babysitting. 

My turn. I let Andrew watch my brother practice for a little while and chased her all around the stadium. It's ok because I had exceeded my question-asking limit. They needed a break from me too. We played in puddles, discovered water fountains, climbed stairs (an entire stadium of stairs multiple times), and then I started to sweat. Profusely. During all of this chasing Elle, Addie was running around and making friends in the stadium too. So I strapped her back in the stroller, held a battery operated fan on her like she was royalty, thinking she would fall asleep. No such luck.

Andrew's turn. Bless his heart. In the 10 minute span that happened to coincide with his walking with Elle to the car to get a bottle for Bentley Claire, it rained. He's such a trooper though that he didn't even complain. 

Looking forward to the season with all of our yahoos. Wish us luck!