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Monday, May 26, 2014

a Box.

One of my teachers and women dearest to my heart posted this poem that her daughter had written.  In honor of Memorial Day and our fallen heroes...

I AM BUT A BOX

My Weary Soldier,

when this wretched war,
full of flying bullets
and haunting drones,
buried mines beneath the feet
of brothers,
and sudden midnight explosions
tearing into dreams
of a pleasant place,

when this desolate struggle
steals
the courageous beat
of your unfailing heart,

I am here.
My Brave,

when in sorrowful sacrifice
the gleaming blood
that sustained you
slowly seeps onto sand
and dries black
in the merciless sun,
when in solemn suffering
you release the last
breath
to ever fill your 
relentless chest,
when you leave this
bitter battlefield
for sweet peace,

I am here.

Though I be
mere trees
formed to frame
a humble, hollow space,

My Valiant,
you never knew wood
to be so secure
as when I cradle you
across the invisible boundaries
of foreign lands,
bear you
above the threatening depths
of endless oceans,
steady you
against the magnificent wind
whirling around our world,
fueling the rippling flags below.

My Strong,
I will keep you safe.
Though uncertainty may try
to vigorously pry
you from my beloved embrace,
I will never let you go.

No, My Allegiant,
I shall bring you home
though circumstance
may postpone me,
and danger may confront me.

Under ardent guard
of your uniformed devoted,
I will carry you for
dauntless days;
Dedicated, I too shall
return to the dust,
your comforting company
for eternity.

My Comrade,
I am your faithful fortress,
your steadfast rest,
though I do not deserve
to ever serve
one noble as thyself,
a selfless soul
earning such honor

as thy 
venerated 
self.

My Loyal,
I will lie beside
for that long, somber ride
together held close
by those three colors of pride
on a brilliant banner,
together
wrapped so gently by
that flag for which you died.

I am here,
for you have won
and I will secure you
forever on.

My Purpose,
I will never leave you,
but rather be buried
alongside,
beneath the
screaming sphere
on which we lived,
encompassing your
fragile figure—

I am
but a box,
crafted to carry heroes home,
holding hard,
and never letting go.

by Alexandra DeFelice








Friday, May 16, 2014

currently...

Thankful for:  my boy's night off!  He's been working this turnaround for a month now, and I'm just so ready for it to be over.  For those of you who aren't familiar with refinery life...a turnaround is when they shut down and overhaul a unit in the plant.  This means it gets worked on 24/7 because it costs a lot of money to keep them down.  So right now, my boy is working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week and gets the 14th day off as his "fatigue day".  And today, is his fatigue day.  There are two girls in this house who are SUPER pumped to have their fella home and awake and able to play (for more than the normal 30 minutes max we've been getting...)  Hooray for family time!


I'm also so, so thankful for the flits and jabs I'm starting to feel in my growing belly.  Each little flutter I'm lucky enough to feel makes this pregnancy and this life so much more real to me (I've had trouble fully embracing that we're pregnant again this time).  I absolutely love it!


Reading:  I'm in limbo right now.  I just read The Fault in Our Stars last week, and it was the first book I had read in months...and the first non-fiction book I'd read in over a year.  I finished it in 2 days because a) it was a good book and successfully swept me into its story and characters, and b) it felt SO good to read again that I just couldn't stop!


When I finished that one and was still on my reading high, I went out and bought Divergent and its sequel, Insurgent.  I'm hoping to get started on them soon--I just know once I start, I won't be able to stop!


And I'm anxious to see the movies for both books!


Anticipating:  finding out if this little wiggle worm inside me is a miss or a mister!  We're at the point where we could find out, but we would have to pay for a gender reveal ultrasound.  Our insurance covers the fetal scan at 18-22 weeks (which starts next week for us!), so we're holding out for that.  Plus, I kinda feel like Hunter should be there for that, so...we also have to wait until this blasted work schedule chills back out.  We are both so ready to KNOW!


Watching:  at this very moment, CSI is on the TV, but I'm only halfway watching/listening as I get some stuff done on the computer (plus, I've seen 90% of them already anyway).

However, for the past several years, Hunter and I have chosen a TV series to watch from start to finish together.  We try to watch an episode or two every night and squeeze one in somewhere else if we get the chance.  We started with The Office and then moved on to Parks and Recreation after that.  I was finally able to convince Hunter to watch Friends with me, so that's what we're working on now.  The first season was hard for him to get through, but now he loves watching them with me and gets some good laughs in every episode.  It's a fun way for us to wind down and relax--we like our little tradition of watching "a 'sode" together :)



Wishing:  I would make myself sit down and get Arabella's Shutterfly book done for her second year!  Especially since we're halfway through the third one (oh man, I don't even want to think about or admit that...retract that last statement...)  I'm determined to get them done.  But it's like reading--it may take me a while to get started, but once I do, I don't stop until I've finished (which is why I haven't started...I haven't had a block of time big enough to devote to it...).  Maybe I should choose a reward for myself when I finish it.  Hmmm.  I'm kinda liking that idea!

What are you up to these days?
love, angie

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An Honor

I don't even really know what to say about tonight...  I was asked this afternoon by a student if I could attend their banquet for National Honors Society tonight.  I really thought he just wanted me to be there to see him be honored.  But then when I got in my car and got cell service again (zero...zilch, nonexistent cell service in my classroom), I had a voicemail from the teacher who oversees and organizes this program asking if I could be there tonight.  Since I had never been to one, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it would be special and I wasn't going to miss it.

It was such a joy to see my sweet, gifted, intelligent, and unique students belonging to such a prestigious society.  I was also able to witness the next group be inducted (I taught most of those as well--just neat!).

Each graduating student was given the opportunity to honor one or two teachers from any part of their educational career.  And this young man chose me...

You'll always be my favorite J-Fish ><>

Do you know how humbling that is?  This is not something I would have ever expected, and that I will always cherish so deeply.  He is such a precious boy (not really boy anymore...he really has upped to young man...but to me, he's still the goofy little 8th grader, innocent as ever).

Two of my favorites with their "Build Your Own Business" Project back in 8th grade with me.  Tonight, they acted as the President and Vice President of their NHS chapter.  SO proud.

He is as smart as a whip and will be heading to UT in the Fall to accomplish some pretty great things.  He also has such a tender heart and is always willing to help other people.  And he's a goober who loves to have fun and make people laugh--he and those classmates of his still keep me laughing.  But above all of that, he is a saved believer in our Jesus and lives his life and decisions through that reality.

Graduation last year...it's so hard to believe this group's turn is in a few short weeks...

I adore every single student tonight and I loved getting to hear their tributes to the teachers...the day to day laborers who work them hard and drive them crazy...the people who serve as parents, mentors, counselors, disciplinarians, motivators, and friends (those titles usually trump teacher in the memory...)...their teachers--whom they realized had given so much of themselves to their students and chose to pay respect to that.  Every single one of them was absolutely beautiful.

I am so grateful that I was chosen;  I am even more grateful for my time with those kids and the lessons they taught me.  Being a teacher is absolutely exhausting in every facet...but this; THIS, is what makes it beyond worth it all.

Thank your people--it'll mean more than you'll ever know.
love, angie




ps.  This kid really does crack me up, and he doesn't even always mean to :P  For example tonight, I mentioned something about Hunter and referred to him as my husband.  J-Fish's response was, "Oh good, y'all are still married!  I like Hunter."   Haha!  I just had to giggle at him as I replied, well of course we're still married!  The cool thing is, Hunter thought he was a pretty cool kid too (and he didn't like all of my students as much as I did :P )

Hunter was able to come to DC with us on the first trip I chaperoned.  These two little engineer brains hit it off pretty well--makes me smile :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Cajun Asian Celebration

I have hosted/helped host more showers than I can count...wedding showers, baby showers, lingerie showers...done them all (like this one and this one that I actually managed to get blogged).  It all started when I was 16 and my sister got married...and since, it's just something I have really grown to enjoy.  It's a lot of work and a lot of money, but the actual day usually makes it all worth it.  I love creating a special day for someone I love, specially designed and planned with their needs and likes in mind.  Makes my heart smile :)

Hunter and I had a couples' shower thrown for us when we got married, and we helped host one for his middle brother, Blaine, when he and his wife got married.  So of course, now that the baby bro is betrothed, that led me to the shower game once again.  

Since BA has also become a transplant as we have and has also begun to realize just how much you can miss Louisiana, I really wanted to make that culture a big part of the shower.  I was thinking "Louisiana Saturday Night".  However, since his bride is Asian, she asked if I could incorporate some of their culture in as well.  I had no idea how that was going to come together, but I knew we could make it work.  

That led me to "A Cajun Asian Celebration!"

(by the way, this post will be long and have quite a few pictures...there's your disclaimer)

So here's what we did:

Small table at the entry--just a few pictures of the couple, some beads, and some decorations for each culture.  The little chalkboard was a Hobby Lobby find and I fell in love with it!
Invitations:
Finding the invitations was one of the trickiest parts.  There isn't a whole lot out there for "Cajun Asian"...  I don't even remember what I searched for to find these, but I love them.  
To add a little extra pizazz, I did one of my favorite things and embossed the envelopes.  Some of the got Fleur de Lis and some of them got lattice.

 I found them here.
Tables:
I had two tables pushed together in a pair, and then had six of those--so 12 tables total.  Each pair had a Cajun table and an Asian table.  For the Cajun tables, I ordered some red and white checkered fabric online and cut it into squares to bunch up.  I put a crawfish tray on that with Mardi Gras beads, Tony Chachere's, Tabasco, Louisiana Hot Sauce, a roll of paper towels, and a painted chip board fleur de lis (from Hobby Lobby).  Each Asian table had a black table cloth and an Asian detailed runner that was bunched up.  On that, I put a Chinese hat, some small lanterns (Hobby Lobby), little parasol toothpicks (that I think are actually for a luau party, but whatever, they worked...), some fortune cookies (Amazon), and a paper fan with Chinese writing (Oriental Trading).


Decorations:
I lucked out big time in that Hunter's stepmom's sister (figure that one out real quick...) is an event planner.  And luckily, she had thrown an Asian party at some point and actually had a lot of the decor left!  Score--because I had nothing, nada, zip in that department.  Most of the Cajun/Louisiana decorations came from my house (my walls and shelves were pretty bare that week...)



Food:
My sister in law headed this up for the most part.  Our biggest struggle was that both cultures tend to center their food around rice...  I think we ended up with a good variety that fit everything well.  She made some fried rice and sesame chicken to satisfy the Asian side; I made crawfish etoufee that we served with pistolette rolls to satisfy the Cajun side; and the boys' aunt made some good ole southern green beans with bacon and potatoes because those are always good to have.  
We also had some chips/crackers with dips as well as a few fruit trays.  Drinks were just cokes (what you Yankees refer to as "soft drinks" or "cold drinks", "Soda, or "pop"--we down here, just call them all cokes!) and sweet tea.  Simple and satisfying.
I also ordered some chopsticks from Oriental Trading for those who really wanted to soak in the Asian flair :)  The red dinner plates came from Hobby Lobby and I ordered the fleur de lis dessert plates on Amazon.  Silverware was the good old plastic Walmart type.  

I found these at Hobby Lobby and thought they were too fun!  Plus they were thick plastic, so the would actually last.  The chopsticks up there are the ones I ordered from Oriental trading.



Dessert:
I made some sugar cookies with Asian, Cajun, and wedding designs.  Asian: two forms of lanterns and a circle with the word "love" written in Chinese; Cajun: fleur de lis, alligator, Louisiana, crawfish; Wedding: letter N (their last initial) and engagement ring.  I was drowning in cookies by the time I was done, but they just turn out so pretty that I want to make them for everything!


Let me pause a second and tell you about the cake.

  

Look at that thing.  Holy. Moly.  BA is really good friends with the family who own Pronia's Deli in Lake Charles (their daughter/designer's husband is the Best Man).  They are super sweet people whom we all love--and their cakes (and everything else they make) are INCREDIBLE!  They are beautiful, they are delicious...incredible.  I asked Jileen if she would be wdilling to make a few cupcakes or a small cake for the shower (really thinking something simple, but knowing how good they taste!).  She was excited to help and sent back a sketch of this beauty.  My mouth literally dropped open.  WOW.  It's all I can say!  The bottom tier was red velvet and the top tier was white chocolate raspberry.  It was so hard to cut into it, but people had no problem chowing down :)

Games:
This was tricky because we were going to have such a mixed audience.  Plus who really likes going to showers and playing the typical, cheesy games?  I know I don't particularly care for them.  And since it was a couples' shower, we had the men to factor in too.
We played two simple ones that we had also done at Blaine and Lindsey's shower and it was so much fun!  

Game 1:  The groom gets blindfolded and seated at the front of the room (BA is almost 7 feet tall so seating was a must...if he's of normal height, he can stand...really up to you).  All of the ladies line up (after he is blindfolded so he doesn't see the order).  They each go up and give him a kiss on the cheek.  As they do, an emcee of sorts will announce their number (the ladies need to remember their own number!).  The groom has to guess which kiss came from his bride--cute, easy, and fun!

BA chose me as the right kiss :)  In his defense, he has gotten several kisses on the cheek from me and the ones from Nicole are on the lips...  Plus he tried to cheat and smelled each girl--my perfume smelled like hers and she wasn't wearing any :P  Serves him right for cheating!
Game 2:  The bride gets a turn with the blindfold.  All of the men sit in a circle and raise a pant leg, haha!  She gets guided around my someone and rubs each man's leg (again, while the emcee assigns and announces each man's number).  She has to guess which furry leg belongs to her groom--hilarious and so easy!

Nicole rubbing up on the fella's legs--SO funny!  Her comments were the best part (she doesn't hold much back, haha)!  She actually picked BA as the right leg :)  Which, he does have super skinny legs and half of the guys were wearing boots that she accidentally felt so that ruled all of them out... But, she guessed right fair and square.
Game 3:  I wanted to do something different this time too, so we played the "Nearlywed Game" (more accurately known as the Newlywed Game).  We of course had BA and Nicole play as our nearly weds and the boys' grandparents had been married the longest (at 57 years!)--what was really funny is that their other set of grandparents ended up being our volunteers for our 10-30 year couple :)  

Nearlyweds
Middle of the Roaders
Old-Timers
I had printed up a list of 12 questions, six geared to each gender.  They each had a spiral notebook and a marker to write their answer on--that way it was big enough to hold up and everyone else could see.  Blaine, the middle brother, was our emcee for the night--he was perfect!  You need someone quick witted and energetic who can ad lib some jokes in with their answers...so funny.  It started off a little bland with the grandparents, but a few questions in, they had loosened up and the whole room was laughing!  So much fun!  


I had gotten a gift card and a bag of candy as the prize for each game winner.  Again, being a couples' shower, it had to be gender neutral and something everyone would enjoy (the smaller games got an iTunes card and the nearlywed game got a little bigger gift card to a restaurant since it was for the couple).


Lindsey also made a slideshow of pictures of BA and Nicole growing up and their relationship.  That was a fun addition for our guests during dinner!  I had also planned and set up a "photo booth"--I had ordered some dry erase word bubbles for people to write their advice, tips, and well-wishes on and to hold in the pictures...but we never got around to it :/  (my sister will probably hate me for this because she spent a good amount of time hanging the streamers as this backdrop!)

Most of the Bridesmaids

So there you have it, folks!  A Cajun Asian Celebration, all wrapped up in one post.  We had a great time and it all came together much better than I expected it to.  

The couple and the hostesses

Enjoy!
love, angie

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day gifts

Usually the little gifts we give for Mother's Day are photo based.  I mean, what mama/grandma doesn't like getting precious pictures of their babies?!  Well, this year I was running behind and it snuck up on me (surprise, surprise...), so they were just going to get a little note or call.  But then the lovely ladies at UCreate posted recipes for sugar scrubs, and I knew that's what I wanted to do!


These little mixtures were so easy to whip up--and the combinations are fun and endless!  I added a little extra olive oil (especially to the ones with a white sugar base), just because it was a little too dry for my liking.  I hope they work well and smell good (watch me be remembered for giving a smelly, greasy gift :P )!

I got these little jars from Hobby Lobby along with some little wooden spoons (found them with the scrapbooking stuff).  The labels on the jar are also from good ole Hobby Lobby (on that massive sticker aisle) and I wrote on them with a chalk pen.

I then made a simple little card, punched a hole in the corner, and tied it all up with some ribbon I had on hand.


The card was a quickie, which is just what I needed for this project.  I needed it small to attach to the jar, so I sliced up a 12x12 piece of Very Vanilla into eight pieces of 3x6; folded, each piece gave me a 3x3 card.  I stamped a doily (Delicate Doilies--retired) and the sentiment (Really Good Greetings) using Calypso Coral and Early Espresso ink.  A very simple, one dimensional card, but just enough for this gift!


I liked that it was something different, something pretty, and hopefully something useful.  I hope they enjoy them!

happy crafting and happier gifting!
love, angie

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I could go all sap-fest and give details into what being a mother means.  I could go on and on and on about the deepest joys, fears, and everything in between motherhood has brought me.  I could try to explain in words what becoming a mother has taught me about my own mother.  I could.

But, instead, I'm going to share with you a few things from people who have done it better than I ever could.  Some in writing, most in videos, all in beautiful heart.  Enjoy!

"To All the Giving Mothers: So God Made a Mother"--A Holy Experience, Ann Voskamp
This was written by a friend of mine who has a beautifully heartbreaking story of motherhood that she wholeheartedly gives and points back to Jesus.  Her words are so important. (and those precious, perfect feet belong to her sweet Hannah).

"I am Praying for the Mothers"--a Hint of the Hess House, Brittany Hess
Honestly, if you don't have tissues out by now, go ahead and grab some.  This was job interviews in response to an actual job description...their responses are incredible.


This is just one of my faves.  Robbie is such a cool kid--we've had the privilege of meeting him and Brad (his brother-in-law who helps him create these) a few times.  Their mission and their message are so pure and so needed.  Moms, know these things...remember these things...  Have a good giggle and a cry :)


Kinda cheesy, but pretty cute...and delivers the message pretty spot on.


You are mighty. And you are a shelter from their storms.  Being a mama is Kingdom work; don't take it lightly and don't be defeated.


And we'll end on a chipper note!  I love Anita Renfroe; she's hilarious and just fantastic.  She's done two versions of the "mom song"--I'll let you choose which one you like better :)




I hope you enjoyed these as much as I do!  And don't leave these celebrations to the days we set aside.  Recognize, appreciate, and celebrate every single day!

love, angie

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful:

--that I feel like a human again!  My schedule has calmed down tremendously (for now...) and my hormones are figuring out where they belong too.  Woo hoo for the second trimester!  It's been so nice to have the time, but also the energy, to get some things done that have really been needing my attention for a looooong time now.

--speaking of a freed up schedule, I've had the past two days off...and I SO needed that!  My students were state testing this week, so I didn't even attempt pull out sessions; and little Miss had shots yesterday, so she stayed home to snuggle with daddy today.  I have been able to sleep, clean up the house room by room, and get some very much needed paperwork/communication done.  It has felt so great to recharge!  Not to mention, I got two whole days with just me and my girl :)

--for doctors and medicines...and most of all that my tot feels so much better.  Monday was TER-RI-BLE.  She had run fever all weekend and we found the culprit was likely a UTI...which meant a diaper catch (by basically gluing the little catch back to her tiny hiney...terrible).  And then when those results came back abnormal, they had to do a catheter to obtain a clean catch to send to the lab. Terrible doesn't even touch that experience.  But she's feeling better now, she's on antibiotics (which are no fun, but hopefully they'll fix her up), and hopefully we'll never have to do this again...  Fingers crossed?

--that the end of my boy's turnaround is in sight!  Hopefully...

be grateful, give thanks.

love, angie