Be Grateful #19 (the last of 2012)

I'm in a foul sort of mood today, which makes me not want to post (especially since I hate not staying on top of my blog)--but this is probably why I need to post to get me out of this mood.

Christmas Eve:  my stocking had a cankle because of a lovely box of See's Candies (my new FAVORITE!), our cats had too much fun with the ribbons and bows, Zach still loves getting LEGO.

We had a good Christmas other than some drama that happened Christmas Eve.  Zach and I are mostly drama free, so when I encounter it, I just break down and want to run.  Argh.

Still, we had a good Christmas.  We did our usual Christmas Eve traditions--rotisserie chicken, A Charlie Brown Christmas, exchanging of presents--and then we went to Hot Springs on Christmas Day.  Our state got hit with some white weather, and it was a bit scary to be driving through it.  (Our usual four-hour trip took two hours longer.)  But we made it safely and got snowed in.  I couldn't believe it that our home in Bentonville didn't get a flake because we got ten inches in Hot Springs!
Zach and I on Christmas Day
He gave me the green scarf with yellow polka dots that I am wearing.

Two days after Christmas, we came back home and got to experience a little snow here.  We've been trying to soak in the last few days of our winter break as well as I am trying to get over these sinus/cold/drainage issues I've had for two weeks now.  I probably should go see my doctor, but I'd really like to wait another day, so we don't have to fork out one more co-pay this year.  *hehe*  This is probably why I am in a foul mood:  I've been not feeling my best, and while we do get a week and a half of for Christmas, I'm not ready to go back.  Where did this time go??  I've been spoiled the past eight years.  For six, I was in school and got a plummy month off each winter.  Then the first Christmas after graduation, I was still unemployed, so I was on break all the time.  Last year, I was recovering, so I didn't go back to work until almost February.  See?  Spoiled, party of one.

snowpocalypse in Hot Springs
I still can't believe we had a VERY WHITE CHRISTMAS IN ARKANSAS!!
And, of course, the only county not touched by the white was the one where we live.  I guess it was good we were out-of-town, so we could enjoy it!

Not to mention that I had a terrible night in the kitchen, and we were supposed to get some more lovely winter weather today--I LOVE SNOW!--and I woke up to rain.  *grumble grumble*

a nice dusting in our neighborhood

Ah, man, I know I am being whiny and annoying to the point that my whining is annoying to myself!  *lol*  So on that note, here on some things I've grateful for in regards to 2012:

1)  my health--we've come a long way from this, baby.
2)  my job--I saw two of my students over the holidays, and I'm excited to see some returning faces along with the new ones.  If only I could get my gear in butt...**
3)  my constant interest in cooking and crafting--these give me something to talk about with folks on our lunch breaks.  *haha*
4)  my husband and our marriage--things aren't always easy, but I know we are willing to work hard to make this last forever.  He brings me more joy than anyone, and he's the one person I can be most like myself.  I keep hearing of folks who went to high school with me that have separated and/or divorced, and it breaks my heart for them.  It is comforting, encouraging, helpful, hopeful, amazing to have someone, along with God, to do life with every day.  I can't wait to see what 2013 holds for us.
5)  my life--I can't wait to see what 2013 holds for me.

In regards to resolutions, this year Zach and I are going to try to get back to eating more fruit and veggies and less meat, to keep the kitchen table cleaned off, to brush the kitties at least every other day, and to make more room in the freezer for cocktail and pilsner glasses.  *lol*

I'm going to continue to be more thankful, to continue cooking and crafting and reading--and to try to keep up with this blog as it is the umbrella for most of my creative outlets!

Happy New Year!!
What makes you feel thankful from 2012?  And how are you pledging to live a better life in 2013?

**Up there, I realized I typed "my gear in butt" instead of "my butt in gear."  I realized it as soon as I hit enter.  But it tickled me so, I decided not to change it.**

Be Grateful #18

Since the events of last Friday, I have become heartbroken.

That wasn't always the case.  On Friday, when reports starting pouring in on my Facebook feed while I was at work, I tried to tune them out.  Friday was supposed to be a happy day after I dropped off cookies at my doctor's office in the morning to come home to pack for our trip to Branson that afternoon.  We left for the weekend after work, and while we talked about the Sandy Hook shooting and gun control on the way, those tragic losses did not occupy my mind fully.

I was able to block out the news on Saturday as well after we headed to Silver Dollar City to see the lights, drink wassail, eat funnel cakes.  But I started to hear more about the children and those who tried to protect them.

Then on Sunday, when I first saw Emilie Alice Parker's face on a friend's page, my heart just cracked.
Just broke.
Strangely, rather than wishing never to have a child in such a fallen world, I longed for one.  I wanted to wrap my arms around a child and cry and pray over that sweet life.  I'm not a mother yet, and I don't know if I will ever be, but I felt like a mother when I saw all of those sweet faces, the adults included.  I've seen several people comment that this has been worse than 9/11, and in so many ways, I agree.

I don't want to say that it's worse that children were gunned down as opposed to teens or adults because the loss of any life--even Adam Lanza's--is a tragedy.  But somehow, it is worse.  So much worse.  These were babies, some who probably hadn't even experienced loss or death or any kind of fear.  I keep seeing Olivia Engel's smiling face and thinking of Noah Pozner's twin sister Arielle who has been left behind.  And I keep picturing Lauren Rousseau, who was supposed to go see The Hobbit with her boyfriend last Friday, and Rachel D'Avino, whose boyfriend was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve.  Of the teacher who told her small pupils she loved them, so that the gunfire wasn't the last thing they heard.  Not so long ago, all of these adults were six and seven, too.

While I would never have wished this to happen and pray that it never happens again, I am thankful for how we have responded.  I believe it was Ann Curry who challenged her viewers to commit to acts of kindness in memory of those who were lost last Friday.  I have seen several people make contributions to help grieving Newtown.  I watch as we vow to spend more time with those we love and to make known to them how much we love them.  And we have.

This week, I am thankful for life, for love, for the Cross that gives us the greatest freedom to live and to love each other forever.


Please visit here to help this community.

Please join me today in praying for Charlotte, Daniel, Rachel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Dawn, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Anne Marie, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Lauren, Mary, Victoria, Benjamin, Allison, Nancy, and Adam, too--and all of their families and friends as they mourn their tragic losses.

I'll be back tomorrow with my gratitude journal for the week as I ran out of time last night to post.

Be Grateful # 17

Last night, we saw a production of Tennessee Williams' play Period of Adjustment through Theatre Squared.  I enjoyed it but I had been hoping for a laugh-out-loud play like the one we saw in September.  I am still processing it.  Thankfully, my husband offered a brilliant analysis of it this morning on our way to work that helped me put it in perspective.  And I really adored this '60s set.

1)  I am thankful I am DONE with this semester (other than entering final grades on Monday)!
2)  I am thankful I have time now to craft, cook, clean, and enjoy Christmas.  :)
3)  I am thankful that I started working on next semester already.  I am also thankful that I was very productive this week, working away in my office to Christmas music.
4)  I am thankful for new experiences, like getting to try Bordino's FINALLY (AMAZING sirloin and creme brulee!) and seeing new plays and going to Silver Dollar City for the first time this weekend.  And I am thankful to have these experiences with new and old friends.
5)  I am thankful I'm learning what makes really great writing while still appreciating grammatical topics.  (No, I don't mean to imply that grammar is not important to writing because it is essential to and inherent in it, but sometimes, you have bigger fish to fry than deferred prepositions.)  I just want folks to understand and appreciate why grammars exist in language, so then they can break all of those prescriptive rules to have fun.  ;)
6)  I am thankful for feeling and being appreciated.  For my students' final exam, they had to write an in-class argumentative essay in which they argued for the grade they felt they deserve (in addition to a small grammar component).  I so enjoyed grading them, and not just because my students often praised and thanked me for my work.  Many laughs and even a few tears resulted as they crowed--sometimes deservingly and sometimes not--about what they accomplished and lamented their failures.  I learned so much about them and what they experienced in and out of the classroom this year, and it allowed them to take an honest look at their own strengths and weaknesses and how much they progressed through this course and through college.  (It's Comp. I, so for many, this is the first semester in school.)  My greatest hope is that I help set them up to be successful in college, that they learn a lot about how to improve their writing, and that they enjoy the process.  Back in August, I came up with this idea for my final exam, and I am so glad I used it because it allowed me to assess my students, allowed them to assess me, allowed them to assess themselves, and allowed me to assess myself.  I am ready to come back in the spring even bigger and better!

Be Grateful #16 and Baking--LOTS of Baking!

Well, I failed at keeping up with this again.  *hehe*  Yet I think it works out (like the week of Thanksgiving) because I plan on doing a post on Friday, but you'll find out why in a minute.

I was afraid I was going to drop these.  They were each filled to the rim with goodies!

You see, this week is FINALS WEEK--May the odds be ever in our favor!--which means last week, I was winding down the semester, doing final grading of final assignments, etc. etc. etc.  This week, I have been writing my finals, entering grades, etc. etc. etc.  AND ON FRIDAY I WILL BE DONE!  And then we will be off to Silver Dollar City for a little Christmas celebration with some friends.  This is why I will have another grateful post--because this week marks the end of the semester!  I began this journal to keep me going through the semester, and it really has helped.  I look forward to continuing though I may take a break until January 14.

Before I forget, I have to mention what I did this weekend:  BAKING!

So. much. baking.  I baked two batches of sugar cookies Friday morning (from about nine to noon), then I headed into work for a few hours, went to the holiday reception, and won a basket of soup!

Friday night, I whipped up two batches of homemade marshmallows (French vanilla and mint) and left them to less sticky?  Whatever they did, they did it overnight.

Saturday morning, I got up and was back in the kitchen about 10.  I decorated my sugar cookies with royal icing, nonpareils, and colored sugar.  I mixed up two batches of my brown sugar cookie dough, adding Christmas Cadbury balls to half a batch, peanut butter chips and Heath bits o' brickle in the other half, and white chocolate chips and butterscotch chips in the second batch.  In between baking these, I melted almond bark and dipped pretzel sticks.  Once all of the cookies were done, I cut up the marshmallows.  I was in the kitchen about 13 hours Saturday.  I LOVED it and didn't have a breakdown for the first time ever.  ;)

Sunday, we cleaned a bit and visited Zach's aunt and uncle.  I put together a package of cookies for them, and when we got back, I put together my other tins.  I double Saran-Wrapped two to four cookies at a time, and I tied up marshmallows and pretzel rods in little treat bags.  Zach dug out boxes for me, and I signed Christmas cards and printed out my little menus to stick inside:

I assembled each box together, which took some time since I couldn't just wrap the goodies up and distribute them then because certain sugar cookies were going to certain people, namely those with kids got stocking cookies with their kids' initials on them.  (Some of our close friends adopted a brother and sister this year, and this is the first time they have had a real family and gotten into Christmas.  Then I have several young best nieces and nephews I had to treat not to mention my real niece and nephew.  :)

Lastly, I taped and addressed each box after nestling it in crumpled newspaper or those inflated pillows.  Even after all of that, I was perfectly calm though EXHAUSTED.  I did have a bit of a panic attack when I realized how much it was going to cost to mail nine packages of cookies across the state.  Whew.

Anyway, with all of that, I am only now getting around to writing my gratitude entry for last week.  Better late than never!

1)  I am thankful for this sweet time of year.
2)  I am thankful for friends afar and near.
3)  I am thankful for finals week and my precious, precious students and how much they have learned, even if it didn't get reflected in some of their final essays at times because, well, it's the end of the semester and EVERYBODY (including this lady) is a bit lazy when it comes to school.
4)  I am thankful we have lived in our lovely home, The Owlery, for two years and a week as of today. :)
5)  I am thankful for my husband who keeps me smiling and laughing most of the time.
6)  I am thankful for playing hide-and-seek/peekaboo with our kitties.
7)  I am really thankful for those white chocolate chip and butterscotch chip cookies.  Those are my new FAVORITES.  I'm making some more later this week.  ;)
8)  I am thankful for always having my family and getting to come home.
9)  I am thankful I am growing wiser and more mature each year.

Hope you are enjoying this season!  What are you grateful for this time of year?

A Year Ago Tomorrow

A year ago tonight, I was sitting in a hospital bed, eating more-than-tolerable hospital food and visiting with my husband, my mama, my mother-in-law, and a friend from work.  I was surrounded by flowers and little presents.  I likely had TLC or the Food Network on and was getting two units of blood to begin the treatment for which I had been admitted a week and a half earlier to start.  Earlier that year, we never expected I would need to start such a medication so soon because my intestines had mild inflammation that could be easily treated with the usual round of meds.  But in the fall, the illness spiraled out of control, and this was our next option.  We were nervous; this was a biologic drug that could have serious side effects and outcomes.  But the possibility outweighed the risk.  So I was admitted, missed Thanksgiving, and had test after test and antibiotic after antibiotic to clear me, to make sure I didn't have TB or any infections that would put me in danger when I started the Remicade.  Of course, when the final TB test came back, it was inconclusive, so we weren't sure when I would begin.  My GI doc called in nfectious disease physicians to examine me, and they finally cleared me for take off...

Little did I know that I would wake the next morning, Thursday, December 1, 2011, in the worst pain I had ever experienced.  I knew something was wrong.  I insisted something was wrong, and as a good patient, that was hard to do--to push my doctors to do something.  After enduring a round of x-rays, they didn't pick up on anything and wanted to push forward with the plan.  But I was so afraid everything would go wrong.  I insisted they check again,  After a CAT scan (the second since my hospitalization), they discovered perforations had formed in my colon while I was in the hospital.  This meant emergency surgery to remove the perforated colon.

A year ago tomorrow, I didn't know what danger I was in.  I didn't know what it meant to have part of your colon removed.  I didn't know that I could die from what happened in my body, by my body, to my body.

This is something I wrote in response to that day in my daily Facebook photo album:

So many people prayed for me, people I do not know, some people I will probably never meet. It brings tears to my eyes when I go on Facebook and see where people said they were praying for me and sending love and support and encouragement. Prayer saved my life. I do believe that. If we had not all joined together, I do not know if I would be doing as well as I am. I have had some setbacks, yes, but, overall, my recovery has gone very well. I have tried to trust God completely and let Him carry me through this ordeal. I still have my moments when I lose faith and worry, but I know it is a result of the prayers we lifted up to Jesus together that have gotten me here. I had been praying the entire morning before my surgery, asking God to heal me from the inside and to bind Satan and to curse this horrible disease. I have been very careful not to say "my" Crohn's Disease anymore; I will not take ownership of it. It is not a part of me; it is part of this fallen world and is not part of God's promise to us. He wants us to be healthy and well and whole in His image. The thing about Crohn's Disease is that your body attacks itself and treats food, especially things that are often considered healthier such as raw fruits and vegetables, as something to be attacked as well. But God has promised otherwise in some of the first words of the Bible: "Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. '" (Genesis 1:29) I know we often skip through the Old Testament, especially those first passages, but I don't think it can be any plainer than that. I am going to be healed; I am going to be well; I am going to be stronger than before. Food will nourish not destroy my body. This experience has changed my life in so many ways, ways I could have never imagined. I am getting my life back physically and spiritually so I can go out and love and serve and do what I am supposed to do. I believed in prayer before this, but now I have experienced the true power of it, what it does, what it can do. It breaks my heart if you don't believe in God or prayer because I know that He saved my life on December 1 because we prayed to Him. I still have a long way to go and I still need lots of prayers, but I know it will be okay because I trust God has kept me here for a reason.

Tomorrow, we are going to Eureka Springs for a walking tour of Victorian homes decorated for Christmas.  It will be a time of great rejoicing and happiness and fun.  I know Zach and I will reflect on where we were a year ago and how far we have come, but I will not let what is passed be a burden on a glorious day and weekend.  I thank God for giving me back my life, for all those that were instruments in His Hands to do so--my family, my friends, my physicians.  He is my Father, my Friend, my Great Physician.  I thank Him for letting me remember, for helping me not forget, for allowing me to process these memories with both praise and mourning, acceptance and disbelief, happiness and hurt and even a little humor as I remember how my colon crapped out (bathroom humor) and became a semicolon (English teacher humor).  What a life I have!  What a future I have!  And, as the future is now, I will go enjoy the present that the Lord has given me.  :)

Be Grateful #15

1)  I'm thankful for the wonderful Thanksgiving we had!  What a glorious day!  I do wish Zach had been feeling better for the weekend, but he made it through.
2)  I'm pleasantly surprised by how kind folks were at Walmart Thanksgiving night while we waiting to buy $20 sheets.  (Yes.  I was crazy.  I must have had a stroke or something.)  I normally don't partake in Black Friday--or in this case, Grey Thursday--and I was very hesitant in light of the ridiculousness of starting even earlier.  But I thought the sheets were gold, and we have been looking for some for ages, so I thought my mama and I could pop up there, and it would give her a chance to get out and about, which she hasn't been able to do in awhile.  Well, they weren't gold; they were tan.  But I was able to pick up some grey sheets for my MIL and some cream ones for my SIL (she and her husband only have one set of sheets right now, so I was glad to get them some), and I was able to football carry some green ones for my mom (who always uses secondhand sheets).  We really had an enjoyable time, though it got a bit crazy and I don't think I will ever do this again, especially on Grey Thursday.
3)  I'm grateful for the long weekend I had to relax and knit and watch TV and eat lots of ham, cornbread dressing, and pie.
4)  I'm glad my root canal is over and that it wasn't painful.  Right now, since the feeling has come back, it is a bit sore.  Please pray that I stop stressing it is chipped or something; I'm freaked by how rough the surface feels.  (I've got to schedule my crown still.)
5)  I'm so happy that there are just two weeks until finals week!  These next two weeks should be rather  easy for me.  :)
6)  And I'm so happy that we have our Christmas decorations up and are watching Christmas Vacation right now.
7)  Mostly, I'm so blessed to have a wonderful husband...who trudged to Walmart last night after I realized we didn't have enough of the same lights for our tree.  I love that man.

Be Grateful #14

In my part of the nation--that is obviously Arkansas since this is "The Pharr Side of Arkansas" :)  --it is officially Thanksgiving!  So HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL OF YOU TURKEYS!  I hope you have a lovely day with your loved ones and eat and eat and eat...and eat and eat and eat...and eat and eat and eat some more.  ;)

This is the apple pie I made for our dinner.  I first made this recipe for Christmas in 2010, and it went over very well.  So I planned to make it for last Thanksgiving, but we know how that turned out.  I think it looks beautiful with the oak leaf, maple leaf, and acorn cutouts (along with three apple cutouts in the center).  Hopefully, it tastes as good as it looks!  (I'll let you know.)

This year, I feel especially thankful.  Last year at this time, I was hospitalized and battling the worst Crohn's Disease flare-up I've had yet, planning to beat it by starting Remicade.  Eventually, this flare caused perforations in my colon, which led to emergency surgery and a colostomy before starting Remicade about two weeks later.  I almost died last year, and I am so grateful that I am still here.  Things like that really put it all in perspective, don't they?  You can read more about those experiences life-altering experiences here.

1)  I am thankful for my Lord and Savior who loves me unconditionally and saves me moment by moment.  I really would be nothing without God.
2)  I am thankful to be alive and (pretty much) well.  :)
3)  I am thankful for my husband.  God really knew what He was doing when He made Zach and put him in my life.  Since we have been together, he has never ceased to amaze me with his love, kindness, intelligence, humor, thoughtfulness, quirkiness, etc. etc. etc.
4)  I am thankful for my mama and that she is doing better this year, getting back on track, having started some things over, becoming closer with my brother again.
5)  I am thankful for my family--whether by blood, law, or choice.  "No man is an island," John Donne once said.  Nor should he.  We need each other.  I am so glad I need them and they me.
6)  I am thankful for my friends and acquaintances who inspire me, like me, support me, and guide me.
7)  I am thankful for my kitties.  They are our babies, and it's hard to picture our life without them.
8)  I am thankful to have a home with food in our pantries, heat in our house, and running water in the showers.
9)  I am thankful for our Dyson vacuum, so Zach can continue to do a thing he loves (vacuuming--he is so weird, y'all!) and for my Scentsy warmer, so I can make our house smell like oranges, cloves, and cinnamon (Mandarin Moon).
10)  I am thankful for tomorrow, which is already today and will soon become a yesterday.

What are you thankful for this year??

Be Grateful #13

Well, I have been so behind that I missed my gratitude journal last Monday, but I planned to do a post on Thanksgiving, so I figured it would be fine to post it today.  :)

1)  I am thankful for weekends at home and away.
2)  I am thankful for my precious students and that I haven't scared some away so that they feel okay to take me again in the spring.
3)  I am thankful for movie dates and dinner at Denny's.
4)  I am thankful to have finished Christmas shopping for Zach.  (Well, almost.)
5)  I am thankful for the friends I have at work.  Last year, I was still in my shell, but after falling so ill and recovering, I had people pray for us that I had never talked to, and suddenly, I found myself talking to him.
6)  I am thankful to help out my family and friends in any way I can.  And I'm thankful for those that ordered Scentsy to help my niece build her business as well as give me reward points.  I can't wait to get it in and try it!
7)  I'm thankful for clean carpets!
8)  I'm thankful for the kindness of strangers.  Thanks to the Pay It Forward program in our area, an Arvest Bank branch paid for my prescription on Wednesday, which made possibly having an infected tooth and potential root canal in the future easier to deal with.
9)  I'm thankful for my new and old infusion nurses.
10)  I'm thankful for my Gilmore Girls DVDs.
11)  I'm thankful that it is acceptable to put up Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas music this week.
12)  I'm thankful that I work at a place that acknowledges the holidays with Thanksgiving potlucks and a huge Christmas tree in every building.
13)  I'm thankful we have a soda shoppe (but I'm not happy they got rid of our British candy to open it!).
14)  I'm thankful for healthy babies and smooth labors and happy pregnancy for my dear friends.  Introducing my newest best niece, Autumn, who was born on the 13th at 8 lb. 2 oz.  (Y'all.  Her weight is AMAZING.  Her mama, Monica, is TI-EENY.)

Photo a Day in November #15

15.  In My Bag

I saw these at World Market when we were in KC over the summer, and I was DYING to have them. When we were back again in October, I hinted to Zach that these would make a great stocking stuffer. ;) Well, he said maybe he had planned to get some for me, but since i ruined the surprise, I might as well as get them then. So I did. :) I've been waiting to share a photo for an 
appropriate time because I think this catchphrase--"KEEP CALM and CARRY ON"--seems so appropriate for blowing your nose while sick or drying your eyes while crying.

I haven't used as many of them as I have shared them with others. One of my precious students came to see me this week and spilled her heartbreak and her tears in my office. When I handed her one of these tissues from my purse, she paused crying for a second and say, "Awww, these are cute." At that moment I realized that, as a teacher, not only do I deal with students' poor and fabricated excuses, but more often, I share their joys and their sorrows and their shame they feel when they have failed--shame they shouldn't feel at all, bless their hearts, because we all fall down from time to time, especially when it comes to handling things out of our control. I am thankful I got to offer a little comfort to this student and, hopefully, help her see that there is a light at the tunnel, so we need to keep calm and carry on.

Photo a Day in November #14

14.  Man-Made

A few weeks ago, I changed my Halloween banner to a Thanksgiving one.  The banner is made by me with materials made by machines, I'm assuming.  Even I used a  hole punch to thread the ribbon through.  But it will work...and I don't know where my husband put my knitting bag, so I can't show you my nicely knitted stocking for him.  :)

Photo a Day in November #13

13.  Where I Slept

I took a nap. Me likey naps.  Especially when my tooth is trying to kill me.
(Zach went to bed early with a migraine, so I missed out on my opportunity to take a pic of the bed.  I didn't want to disturb him.)
Unfortunately, when I took my nap, that cat was not napping but literally climbing the walls and driving me crazy.  Just like a kid, this cat is.

Photo a Day in November #12

12.  Drink

Yeah, I'm not doing very well with this month's daily photo.  I almost reused my photo of sweet tea!  Oh, well, better late than never, right?  I actually finished the last in our sweet tea pitcher, so the only things in the fridge are OJ, milk, and mojito Crystal Light.  I guess that means I'll be making some more after work tonight!

Photo a Day in November #11

11.  Night

It's hard to see this first photo, but it's a picture of one of our French doors in the bedroom.  We usually keep the blinds closed, but I opened them up today because Zach was sick and thus in a funk, and I was trying to cheer him up.  It looked weird to see the blinds still open at night.

A better picture of night?  Our old-school Denny's from last night.  :)

Photo a Day in November #10

10.  Can't Live Without

Ah, this photo is rubbish, and my attempt to document my daily life this month has been rubbish thus far (I keep posting late.  :( ), and my weekend has been rubbish, but sweet tea is the one thing I can't live without.  It's where it's at, y'all!

(I feel like I talk about sweet tea a lot on here...)

Photo a Day in November #9 (late)

9.  Small

So one of my best friends from college, Katie (in the middle), officially announced on facebook that she is expecting a baby in June!  (I knew a few weeks ago.  :)  And my other best friend from college, Monica (on the left), is having her baby next week.  (I was also informed about another pregnancy of a friend, but it's not official. ;)  While those are HUGE, life-changing events, the babies themselves are small?  (I'm really stretching this here.)  This is an old picture (like five years old--from their December graduation), but that is what I posted in my daily photo album on facebook, and I figured you guys were tired of pictures of our cats (they are small, too, but depending on your perspective, they can be huge).

We used to be the babies, and now we are having babies!  (Not me--I have cats.)  How did that happen?  We are growing up so fast!

Photo a Day in November #8

8.  Something You Do Everyday

I leave my shoes on the floor, which annoys my husband.
(Look!  I'm ahead on my Christmas shopping this year.  Those are two of Zach's presents already wrapped and ready to go.  I think my strengths and weaknesses balance out.  ;)

Be Grateful #12

The Flaming Lips at Barnhill Arena

1.  I'm thankful for a chill weekend in which we got to laze about the house a bit.  We did go out Friday night for the last First Friday:  Bentonville in Toyland (lots of toy vendors were set up on the Square, and we got some free LEGOs).  And we went to see The Flaming Lips Sunday night (mesmerizing!).  But all day Saturday and most of Sunday we just lazed about.  That extra hour of sleep was glorious.
2.  I'm thankful I am able to work from home when I am not feeling too well, like this week when I have a yucky cold.
3.  I'm thankful the election season is OVER.  ;)  Now I pray we can work together as a nation to move forward as a nation.  I've been so saddened and angered by the way some people have behaved (and are still behaving), and I am trying to embrace positivity and hope and faith and above all else, love.
4.  I'm thankful it's November!  I have my Thanksgiving banner over the fireplace and already have my apple pie planned.  :)

Yes, I know, I'm a few days late with this.  Being sick and busy is not a good combo...

Photo a Day in November #7

7.  Reflection

This is me, no makeup and hair all crazy in a t-shirt because I have a cold and worked from home today.  (Yes, my eyes are that uneven.  *lol*)

Photo a Day in November #6

6.  A Favorite Thing

So she's not a "thing," but we got this little lady a year ago!  She is named for Alice's cat (as in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) and for Guy Fawkes Day (we were originally supposed to pick her up then, and I'm a big T.S. Eliot fan [see "The Hollow Men"]).

Remember, remember, the SIXTH of November...
Happy Homecoming, Dinah Fawkes Pharr!

And don't forget to vote today!

Photo a Day in November #5

5.  Five O' Clock

Around five, I was making some more cider to help with my cold and because it's fall--when else is spiced cider appropriate?  I did leave out the "spiked" part and added some nice orange slices instead.  it is so tasty!  I have gone through half a gallon in about a day.  (We bought a new gallon yesterday.)  I have also had countless cups of hot tea and cocoa (made with water rather than milk to cut down on the mucus).  Last time, a cold came near me, I drank TONS of hot beverages along with eating a tablespoon of local raw honey with cinnamon in the morning and evening to stave off a cold.  (I read that honey + cinnamon prescription on Pinterest.  Everyone is a doctor these days.)  It worked that time.  But I have to admit defeat; I haven't been able to keep it at bay with my home remedies of hot tea and honey; I am fighting to get over a cold.  *boo*  *hiss*  : /

Photo a Day in November #4

4.  TV

Wasn't that extra hour of sleep glorious?  :)  We didn't go to Meeting since I am coming down with a cold and Zach was so tired, so we slept in and enjoyed the longer morning.  I made pumpkin pancakes and happily breakfasted on them while catching up on The Young and the Restless and pinning recipes.  Dinah felt like she had to help me and took a seat behind the computer, then she preceded to attack our tablecloth and gnaw on the side of our Duncan Phyfe table!  Argh!

And the funniest thing happened last night while we were catching up on Revolution.  I put the kettle on to boil some water for cocoa and came back in the living room.  Well, I heard Hobie making some noise.  I walked into the kitchen and searched the floor.  No Hobie.  Then I looked on the counter to find him nosing through our tea and and cocoa tray!  He had found our catnip tea and wanted some.  (Yes, they have catnip tea.  I've never had it, but Zach says it gives you very vivid dreams.  *lol*)  As such, we had to give him and Dinah the hard stuff.  Still, as soon as we turned our backs again, Hobie was back on the counter looking for the catnip tea!  It is never boring with two cats around, I say!

Photo a Day in November #3

3.  Breakfast

Leftover donuts from yesterday.  Not my favorite.  They're not even Krispy Kreme ones.  *lol*

Photo a Day in November #2

2.  Color

So I got this blue button-down with green polka dots at JCP yesterday.  The "CEO" sent little ole' me a $10 off a $10+ purchase to encourage me to check out what they had done with the store.  A few weeks ago, I got an email advertising their JCP Shop, and it featured cute button-downs such as this one, and I had to have it.  Too bad I didn't realize Zach cut out our fun money this money.  OOPS!  He said I could keep it, and I am glad I did because I got so many compliments on this combo:  white polka-dotted green cardigan over the blue button down with green necklace.  :)

Also, this is the first alcoholic beverage I have ordered in over a year.  We went with some friends to Table Mesa tonight after the Bentonville in Toyland First Friday.  I have to say that Ruby Tuesday's mojitos are better, but this did the trick!

Finally, we were quite sad to learn that our new soda shoppe has gone in where the Walmart Cafe was, which means NO. MORE. CRUNCHIES.  :(

Photo a Day in November #1

Yep, that's right!  I decided to do this Daily Photo Challenge again.  :)

1.  Something Beginning with "C"

How about COOKIES?  Halloween cookies to be exact.  :)  I made these using the leftover cookie dough from our fondue party.  There are ghosts, pumpkins, and bats.  I didn't have any black gel, so I frosted the bats white and added Halloween sprinkles and black sugar to bring them to life.  The ghosts are obviously white, and I added brown eyes and scary/surprised mouths; the pumpkins were iced in orange with brown stems, and I added some sprinkles to a few of them.  I put together this "You've Been Boo'ed" bag for our landlords/neighbors to thank them for everything they have done for us and for how kind they always are.  I missed them last night, so I gave them the cookies this evening, and Mr. Tony and I had a nice chat about Halloween and how we didn't get any trick-or-treaters and how my health is these days.  (Great report from the doctor last week!)  They are such sweet folks.  And sweet folks deserve something sweet!

Have a...

counterclockwise from the large photo in the upper righthand corner:

Pregnant UCA Homecoming Queen (with my roomies) in 2006
a Pretty Woman (with my roomies) in 2007
a Flapper (with Zach) in 2008
Ms. Lovett from Sweeney Todd (with Zach) 2009
a Peacock (with my former roomies) in 2010
a Masked Lady (with Zach) in 2011
Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's in 2012
in orange and black (with Dinah the Witch Cat) today

I considered dressing up today for work (we could dress up or wear jeans today if we donated $2 to our United Way drive ;), but I didn't feel like shaving my legs and had no leggings.  *hehe*  So I just wore orange and black and enjoyed everyone else's costumes.  :)  Then I came home and put Dinah in her witch hat.

You Goblins and Ghosties and Witches and Warlocks stay safe out there!  We are handing out candy--I put on a long black bridesmaid dress with my "Masked Lady" mask--and are eagerly awaiting our first group of Trick-or-Treaters!

Be Grateful #11

1)  I'm ever so grateful I got to stay home today (especially since the sinus monster took up residence in my brain again).
We met our friends, Mervin and Teryl, at the Crystal Bridges party.  Little did we know that Teryl and I would have the same costume on!  And here we are with the other two Holly Golightly's (a.k.a. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's) we found!

2)  I'm thankful we did so many fun things with friends this weekend:  the young patrons' Halloween party at Crystal Bridges, our Mustaches and Muah fondue party, and zombie paintball!

3)  And tonight, I'm thankful for our Fall Feast!  Every year since Zach and I started dating, we choose a night around Halloween to have a mini-Thanksgiving and to watch the Charlie Brown and Garfield specials.  I went all out tonight:  roasted chicken, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, Stove Top (Zach's favorite stuffing--he's weird ;), buttered corn, tomato herb toast, spiced apple cider, pumpkin pie, and homemade Halloween sugar cookies.  I had fun decorating cookies this afternoon.  No wonder I'm stuffed!

4)  I'm pleased it will be an easy week at work (I think).

5)  How can I not praise the Lord that I have 11 Composition classes left and six Beginning Briting ones left?!  I love my students and I love teaching, but I will be so happy when Thanksgiving Break gets here.  :)
I just love this picture of Zach!

6)  And I'll be so happy when this election is over.  It has made people so angry and aggressive and divisive.  It's no surprise that our politicians can't work together when folks in the same family can't agree to disagree.

7)  I'm forever grateful to have a husband who knows the way to my heart at midday:  corndogs.

8)  I went to the doctor on Thursday, and he gave me a great report!  I am now cleared to have labs drawn every eight weeks rather than every month, and after I have my routine colonoscopy, I won't have to go back to the clinic for a year!  Dr. Stagg was amazed at how well I am compared to a year ago, and he even complimented my haircut because we didn't have as much to talk about.  *lol*  My sweet nurse Becky even hugged me when I was leaving because she was so happy.  :)  

9)  We have two beautifully carved pumpkins on our porch, there is a chill in the air, and I have a cup of spiced apple cider to keep me warm.  Thank you, Jesus, for this day!

Be Grateful #10

1)  I'm grateful I got to go to this lady's shower.  And I'm so happy she asked me to be Miss Autumn's "Lorelei Gilmore" (that's like asking to be the godmother of cool).  :)  It was fantastic to get to catch up with some great friends and to celebrate this sweet little girl who will make her arrival next month!
2)  I'm excited to hear today that another friend has some happy news that will come to fruition in June 2013.  ;)
3)  I'm happy we got to see Argo for free this weekend.  That movie is AMAZING. You should see it. I can't stop thinking about it and want to read more about the Iran hostage crisis of 1979.  I expect it will receive all kinds of nominations this awards season.
4)  Although my first stocking didn't quite turn out as a stocking (um, more like a Christmas bag), I'm pleased I got the right size of needles now and am a good way into the second stocking.  It is going well, and since I have an inkling as to what to do now, I think this one will turn out much better--and much faster, too!
5)  I'm glad we got free fries from McDonald's (courtesy of Monopoly).  They may not be too healthy, but they sure tasted great as we drove the four hours home yesterday.
6)  I'm thankful we got to go to the War Eagle Craft Fair finally, even if it was a bit disappointing.

War Eagle Craft Fair

7)  I'm excited to carve pumpkins, and make Halloween sugar cookies, and attend Crystal Bridges' Halloween party, and host our Mustaches and Muah Fondue Party this week!

Be Grateful #9

Yeah, I know, I know.  I am almost a week late.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  I'm trying not to be too hard on myself for not following through, but I am the type of person who become disappointed in herself when she falls behind, even if it's a non-work project (if you know what I mean--this is a self-imposed self-improvement project, you could say).  Oh, well.  Here I am!  At least I am not a FULL week late.  ;)

1.  I am grateful to have less negativity in my life, even if it means putting distance between myself and a friend (or, in this case, a relative).
2.  I am grateful to have seen Pokey LaFarge and Jack White a week ago.  I had never heard of Pokey LaFarge, but they reminded me of The Soggy Bottom Boys and were a lot of fun to hear play.  I think my mama would like them, too.  (Possible Christmas present?)  It was a great show, and I love Jack though I do miss The White Stripes.  I just wish Zach and I could hold up for that long.  (Concerts without seats are rough these days.)  I still feel that Cain's Ballroom is a fantastic venue, especially since they just added a BBQ restaurant!!
3.  I am grateful my hair is growing back in.  And for new haircuts.  :)

4.  I am grateful my husband made it home safely from his conference and that he got his scooter back this week.
5.  I am grateful for our kitties because they make good company when I am home alone.
6.  I am grateful The Walking Dead has started back--and that I got into it over the summer so Zach and I can watch it together and discuss it with all of our friends.
7.  I am grateful for my sweet students.  It is fun to watch them grow and improve, and we are having a blast with this unit (even if I didn't want to teach this week--I wasn't feeling too hot).
8.  I am grateful that my Phoenix class is finished.  (It has made me feel like it is Christmas break, which is another reason why it has been difficult to work this week.  *lol*)
9.  I am grateful for new recipes.  I could cook all day!
10.  I am excited for my dear friend Monica's baby shower this weekend!  And so grateful I can go (because I almost lost the chance)!

Be Grateful #8

a portrait of George Washington at Crystal Bridges

1)  I'm thankful it's cooler in these parts (NWA).  It got down into the 30s over the weekend!
2)  I'm thankful for visits with family, even when it gets a bit stressful and chaotic.
3)  I'm thankful that this week will allow for some baking, some knitting, some Jack White, some time with friends before my husband goes to a conference for a few days next week.
4)  I can't life--I'm thankful we are at the midpoint of the semester!
5)  I'm thankful for friends at work who keep me laughing.
6)  I'm thankful my husband is a neat freak because it keeps me organized and clean.  ;)
7)  I'm thankful to live in such a beautiful area with so many opportunities.
8)  I'm thankful that I don't live in Panem.
9)  I'm thankful to begin my favorite unit in composition week--analysis (of advertisements)!
10)  I'm thankful this is my last week of Phoenix.  I'll get my Thursday nights back to snuggle with my husby and catch up on TV (and knitting).
11)  I'm thankful for Stephen's cocoa with bunny mallows.  Nighty-night.  :)

Be Grateful #7

We were at this concert last night, which is why I didn't get to post.  I'm just giddy over the panorama option on my new (Zach's old) iPhone!

1)  I'm so thankful Zach and I got to travel to Tulsa and Kansas City this weekend.  I'm thankful we got to go to the zoo, see some friends, eat some good food, and hear Florence + the Machine live!  I also have to say I'm thankful that we got our hotel room for free by joining a rewards program that awarded 80,000 points upon enrollment AND that we got upgraded for being a member of said rewards program AND our hotel only cost 20,000 we can get more free hotel stays when we travel again.  :)
2)  I'm thankful Zach (or was it Terry and Adriane?) introduced me to World Market.  I love that place.  I would die if we had one.  I just wish they hadn't gotten rid of Crunchies.
3)  I'm thankful we will be halfway through the semester next week!  Next week, one class is taking their midterm; this week, another class is workshopping papers, turning them in next Tuesday, and beginning the new unit, which is my FAVORITE; after next Thursday, I'll be done at Phoenix.  :)
4)  I'm thankful for my two students who were sincerely disappointed when they found out I was teaching Composition II in the spring because they wanted to take me again.
5)  I'm thankful for places that offer sweet tea.  Mixing sugar into iced tea is not the same, and non-sugar sweeteners are GROSS.
6)  I'm thankful to have a home to which I can come home.  (Can you tell I've been teaching grammar for three hours this evening?  Woof.)
7)  I'm thankful it's the holiday (and candy!) season!  We have to get some candy corn M&M's; I tried them tonight, and they taste like cake batter!!
8)  I'm thankful for new episodes of shows on Netflix.  Time to catch up on Parks & Rec...