Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8 Things We Should Change

In no particular order...

1. Valentines Day.  Get rid of it.  Every girl wants to feel special - but on every other day of the year.  Buy candy and flowers and make cards on the other 364 days of the year when it is not expected - now that would be romantic!

2.  Teachers teach and preachers preach.  If we're going to keep it this way, we need to decide if preachers have preached/teachers have teached -OR- preachers have praught/teachers have taught. Who felt the need to mix it up?

3. While we're on that note... if geese is plural for goose, then meese should be plural for moose.  I'm just saying... it trips me up every time I have to say it... mooses?  meese?  moose?  Oh and don't get me started on mongooses.  Ahhh.

4. The price of three ring binders.  It must cost less than $1 to make them, yet Staples sales them for $7-10.  Ridiculous.

5. Smaller conditioner bottles.  It happens every time - I run out of shampoo before I run out of conditioner... so then I have to buy the same kind of shampoo so that the remaining conditioner will match... and then I run out of conditioner before I run out of shampoo.  I'm convinced that the companies do it on purpose so you will continue buying their product.  But listen here you shampoo and conditioner companies... I'm on to you.

6. Jokes about father-in-laws.  People are always joking and raging about their mother-in-laws. (Not me! I have a great future mother-in-law.)  But (!!), no one ever tells a father-in-law joke.  As a potential future mother-in-law, I think this needs to change!

7. Caskets.  If you step back and look at our burial traditions for a second, they are kind of silly.  First, we spend thousands on a "pretty" casket, and then we put it in another box.  Then, we put it in the ground.  Why spend thousands on a "pretty" casket?  In my opinion, caskets are not so pretty...  And have you ever heard someone comment, "Boy they really cheaped out on the casket!"  No!  Everyone always says how "pretty" it looks.  My dad and I have a solution - Rent-a-Casket.  When it's time to bury the casket, swap it out for a cheaper one and save your money for something that can be used in this lifetime.  My mom thinks we are ridiculous.  Haha.

8.  Easter eggs & the Easter bunny.  I like painting eggs for Easter and I use to love Easter egg hunts as a child - but why eggs?  Does the Easter bunny lay eggs?  Why is it an Easter bunny and not an Easter fairy?  Or if we're going to continue painting eggs, why not an Easter bird?  A bird flying around the world makes more sense than a bunny hopping from door to door.  Just a suggestion.

laura ann

Monday, January 10, 2011

Christmas Snow

Because it seems like everyone is getting snow right now & Chapel Hill is just cold, dreary, and without snow... I thought I'd post my snow pictures from the day after Christmas!  It snowed a ton in Greenville!  We got about 7 inches - which is more than I ever remember getting!  I'd also like to point out that it was our 3rd snow of the winter and it was only DECEMBER!  It still appalls me!

After a few hours, we were at 5 inches, but it just kept coming!

Our bottom step was covered!

We spent our time indoors mostly, playing with Weston's new Christmas toys, wearing our new Christmas gear (like toboggans HA!), reading books, and putting together puzzles!

I spent some time staring out the window in awe. Parker made fun of me for this, but I don't care!

On Monday, snow still covered all of Greenville, but we got to hang one of our new Christmas presents at the condo!!
I love it!  Thanks Mom & Dad!

I just peeked out the window again... still no snow here.  :(
laura ann

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas with the Morgans & the Cases

I'm sure anyone who has ever gotten married knows this, but figuring out how to mesh two families' traditions AND start your own is tough!  This Christmas, Parker and I spent a lot of time with friends and family!  It was fantastic and I loved every minute of it.

On Christmas Eve Eve (or, as I learned that night, "Christmas Adam," because Adam came before Eve, get it?), we dined with Parker's family.  We had ham, collards, green beans, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and french fries - along with some delicious deserts!

I love Candice's and Abi's face in that picture!  It was their response to Mrs. Lydia opening a purple & gold pocketbook, haha!
Parker's brothers in their new hats with LED lights.
Parker playing with Cody & Abi.

Then, since Jacob & Candice were in town, we had a lupper (between lunch and supper) with them and Parker's parents on Christmas Eve.  Afterwards, Parker & I opened gifts at our condo and went to the Christmas Eve service at church with both our families.  That night, we had dinner with my parents and Weston - ham, green beans, and macaroni and cheese (sound familiar?).

On Christmas morning, I did Santa gifts with my family and Parker went over to his parents for breakfast.  I don't have any pictures of that sadly.  Then we went to my Aunt Kay's house for lunch with my mom's side of the family.  We started a new tradition of playing Dirty Santa and it was quite entertaining!  I forgot to take pictures over there too, but don't worry we had some delicious food there too!

Then, on Christmas night, we went to my Grandma's for dinner with my dad's side of the family.  There are 5 kids under the age of 4, so as you can imagine it is CRAZY and FUN!  Here's my mom with a fort of presents surrounding her...

And my Grandma who is just too cute for words!  We got her some knee boots for Christmas...

This lady is 75 and too hip for her own good!  She was tickled to death about her boots that she "can wear to church because Lola Haddock (name changed) wears her boots to church and she's older than me" HAHA!  Yes, this lady has 5 great-grandchildren! Can you believe that?  Wow.

Here's the youngest baby! 

Merry Christmas from the Cases!

... and the soon-to-be Morgans. :)  Just wanted to throw that in there!

We're wrapping up Christmas this weekend with Parker's mom's side of the family!  It should be fun, can't wait!
laura ann

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making and Keeping Resolutions

I hope your eyes don't glaze over... haha!

I would be willing to bet that for every 10 people, there are 5 who give up on their resolutions by March, 4 who don't make any because they know they'll give up, and 1 lonely person who sticks with them.  That's probably a fair statement, don't ya think?  I can understand the second group - the ones who don't make resolutions because they won't keep them.  If you know your heart isn't in it, then why do it?

Personally, I think resolutions are great.  They are a way to own up to our failures, do something about our weaknesses, and reflect on the things we do during our earthly life.  The thing about resolutions is that they should be a set of objectives that help us carry out broader, grander goals in life - things like being a good steward of His money, being a Titus 2 woman (or man), and being a disciple of Jesus.  Yearly resolutions are just a focused and more specific way to carry out our broader goals and philosophies of living.

That being said, in my opinion, we should not make "resolutions" to do things like being a good steward of His money, being a Titus 2 woman, being a disciple of Jesus, etc. - those goals should be something we do every year, all our life.  When making resolutions, look at your broad goals, and think of ways you could improve in each category - i.e. if you want to be a good steward of His money, think about paying down debt, giving to others, etc.  Those kind of things make good resolutions - they can be accomplished in a year, or at least you can establish a habit within a year.  We can always be a better steward of his money, a better wife, a better mother, a better disciple, etc - but how we become better should be our focus for a year.  Do you get what I'm saying?  (Or as Parker says, are you picking up what I'm putting down?)    :)

In my experience, there are 7 things that help us make and keep good resolutions.
1. Specific - Resolutions have to be specific - you shouldn't say "Be healthier."  Instead, narrow your focus - how are you going to be healthier?  Eat more fruit?  Drink less caffeine?  Take vitamins?

2. Attainable - Don't set yourself up for failure!  If you never work out and you say you're going to work out 5 days a week... it's not going to happen unless you are a super motivated person.  One of my resolutions is to cook more - right now I cook maybe once a week... so cooking "more" would be 2-3 times a week (or more).  But don't set yourself up for failure by saying "Cook 4 times a week" - if you just say "Cook more" that could mean you start off slow in January and end in December by cooking 4 times a week - it's about establishing a habit.  Remember you have all year - it doesn't have to be right off the bat in January.

3. Balanced - Make resolutions to continue doing things you've been working on (which should be easy!), as well as resolutions that are "stretches."  For example, one of my resolutions last year was to be a smarter spender.  I feel like I have accomplished this, but it's something I'd like to continue working on.  On the other hand, cooking more is a somewhat of a stretch - I've established a bad habit in the past, and now I have to break it by being intentional about making time to cook.  "Stretches" should still be attainable!

4. Sustainable - This goes back to #2.  Resolutions should be something you can do long term.  Start slow, work your way to December.  Also, think ahead.  Is there something coming up in June/July that will change the way you live (i.e. are you moving, getting married, having children?)  Make resolutions that apply to that half of the year as well.  For example, I know I'm not going to be able to pay down student loans until I get a job in the fall.  Think ahead!

5. Measurable - Your resolutions should be measurable, meaning at the end of the year, you should be able to ask yourself, "Did I _____ ?" and you should be able to say a firm yes or no.  This means, in December, I can ask myself "Did I read the Old Testament?" and the answer will be yes or no.  It's best if things are objective, but sometimes you'll have subjective answers, and that is okay.  For example, in June, I should be able to ask myself, "Did I stay stress free while wedding planning?" and I'm sure that I will have had stressful moments, but I should be able to tell if I made a conscious effort to stay stress free during potentially stressful moments.

6. Reflection - Make a point to reflect on how you're doing.  You can check yourself every month, every quarter, in June, etc.  Don't wait until December to revisit your resolutions, because you probably will have forgotten them.  When you check in with yourself, see which ones you are doing well on (& continue what you're doing) and which ones you need to work on.  This can help you renew your focus if needed.

7. Ok, this is the best piece of advice, so if you've stopped reading and you're eyes are glazed over... READ THIS ONE.  :)  Put your list in a prominent place.  Put it on your fridge, on your dash, on your mirror, on your desk, etc.  I use my list as a bookmark in my devotional/Bible reading.  I like putting it there because it's something I see every night and it reminds me to seek God's help and grace.

Okay - now go and make resolutions!  :) haha  In case you haven't already...
laura ann

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Baking

Okay, I know I said that I was going to post tips on making and keeping resolutions today, but I'm just not feeling it... maybe tomorrow.  Instead, I'll leave you with my first round of Christmas holiday pictures... :)

The week before I went home for Christmas, I was bogged down with the usual end of term papers, projects, and exams.  My biggest assignment was my unit plan... all 179 pages of it.  See?

So as you can imagine... when I got home I did not want to think about school - at all!  Instead, I baked.  Mom and I made chocolate cookies...

I made cheese wafers...

We made sugar cookies...

I burned the first batch (making this little guy sad), but the second batch turned out great (happy guy... until I broke him in half, oops!) haha

Here are some more.  Our decorating skills were... how should I say it... amateur? haha

That's all.  I love baking!  I'd much rather be cooking now than reading for class... :)

Oh yeah... we also made brownies, but I forgot to take a picture.
laura ann

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eleven for '11

New Year's Resolutions - you either love them or your hate them.  I happen to love them!  I make them every year and for the most part, I keep them.  Last year I did Ten "To Do's" for 2010 and in July, I did a Resolution Check Point.  As for my reflection at the end of the year, let's take a look...

Cook more often each week - Well this was a total bomb.  I definitely cooked more in 2009 than I did in 2010.  It is so hard to be motivated to cook when it's only for yourself.  It's still something I need to work on, so I made it a resolution for 2011!  For 2010... check minus.

Be a smarter spender - This one I nailed, particularly for the second half of the year - I created a budget and I stick to it without temptation.  I still want to work on using coupons more effectively, but overall, I get a check plus!

Graduate with at least a 3.5 GPA - Check plus plus!  As I said in July, I exceeded this expectation, and I am proud of myself!

Plan blog posts in advance - I wasn't as successful as I'd hoped on this one.  While I planned many posts in advance, my posting was sporadic.  Towards the end of the year, posting was minimal... but, I'll still give myself a check.

Drink less caffeine - Even though I still love Mountain Dew, I have definitely cut back on caffeine in comparison to 2009 and before.  I still want to cut back some more, so its also a resolution for 2011.  For this year, a check.

Get back into scrapbooking - This didn't happen. At. All.  Maybe after graduate school... Check minus!

Learn to sew better - I'd say that I practiced my sewing skills a fair amount this year considering that I use my mom's sewing machine and it stays in Greenville.  I haven't made those curtains yet though!  Check.

Create an ongoing list of teaching ideas -  I accomplished this with flying colors.  It's probably my best kept resolution thanks to graduate school.  Check plus plus!

Memorize more scripture - Definitely memorized more scripture - and read more scripture in the process!  Check plus!

Stay stress free as I start planning the wedding - Goodness, I've been anything but stressed during the planning process!  Check plus!

Now for my 2011 resolutions, in no particular order...

Eleven for '11

Cook more often  - I really want to learn to be a better cook - especially since Parker will soon be eating my food on a regular basis!  I think that in order to cook better, I'm going to have to cook more often and try new recipes.  I love cooking - I cooked a lot over Christmas, but I just can't motivate myself to cook for just me!

Finish painting the condo - We've done the kitchen, living room, and dining area... now 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and we're finished!  Thanks to a bunch of Lowe's gift cards from our family for Christmas, this should be no problem in 2011!

Finish reading the New Testament - Our church gave out copies of the New Testament on CD a few weeks ago.  If you listen to it for 30 minutes a day, it takes 40 days.  I decided to read it instead, so I could look at references and re-read.  I have never been so thirsty for the Word!  Right now, I'm on Romans 15, which is about half way according to the CD schedule.  I've been able to draw so many connections and see things from different perspectives.

Read the Old Testament - After I finish the New Testament, I want to read the Old Testament straight through also.  The Bible is awesome and I haven't spent enough time reading the it in the past.  This experience has been so rewarding and fulfilling.

Get a job - I graduate in June, and a lot of education talk about the job market is so discouraging!  I've talked to several people and will focus my search in Pitt County.  I'm going to hand out resumes and meet principals this month to "get my name out there" - I have a few favorites, but I'll be thankful for any high school social studies position!

Avoid a "teacher desk" - I get stressed when things are cluttered, and when I'm stressed, my things get cluttered - it's a vicious cycle.  I've seen so many teachers with paperwork covering their desks and I simply cannot deal with it.  So, I hope to get a grading/planning/general paperwork system in place ASAP so I can avoid the "teacher desk."

Continue stress free wedding planning - I don't think this will be hard to do, but just as a reminder, I want to focus on marrying my handsome man, worshipping the Lord, and celebrating with friends & family - not the tablecloth length, guests list, and last minute details.

Be conscious of nagging - While working on the condo & reflecting in pre-marital counseling, I know that I am going to have to give in to the way Parker "straightens up" so that I won't be the only one straightening up the house.  This is a big deal for me, because, in my opinion, there is a right way to fold towels (for example) and straight means no clutter.  I'm not OCD about house cleaning, trust me - I'm just very adamant about how/where things are supposed to go.  This being said, I don't want to be a nagging wife, so I want to be conscious of my actions when it comes to this matter.

Pay down student loans - I took out loans for graduate school, and I want to pay them down a great deal as soon as possible.  That's all.  :)

Continue smart spending - I want to continue my budget and do better at using coupons.  Parker and I have the same philosophy when it comes to money, so I don't think we'll have any problems transitioning this resolution as a married couple.

More water, less caffeine - I'm working on drinking less caffeine, and I'd like to add drinking more water.  I've never been one to drink water unless I've been working outside or there's nothing else to drink - but this is the year to change that!  Water is healthier, helps your skin, and it costs less!  In fact, I'm drinking water right now... Go me!

What are your resolutions for the New Year?  Tomorrow I'm posting tips on making and keeping resolutions because I think they get a bad rap since people never keep them.  I think they are great -- see why tomorrow!

laura ann

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hello 2011, You're lookin' mighty fine!

Welcome 2011, the year of our marriage, the end of school, and getting a job!  So far, I like you!

Let's take a moment to reflect on 2010.

In January, I began my last semester of undergrad, which turned out to be a wonderful semester.  It snowed several times, and that provided challenging conditions in my commute to the bus stop and class.  I turned 21 in February, making me realize that timing is flying!  In March, UNC fortunately (or unfortunately?) made it to the NIT and it snowed some more.  The month of April was a busy one in that I wrecked my sweet little gray Camry (well... a guy wrecked my Camry when he ran me off the road), and Parker bought our first home.  I also caught my first shark and saw the Harlem Globe Trotters play.  In May, I graduated from UNC with a BA in history and we got to work on our condo starting with the kitchen.  Our dear friend Charlotte got married that month also!  In June, I left my awesome college job at the pharmacy for graduate school at UNC and we finally finished our kitchen!  July was a laid back month starting at the river for the 4th, and continuing with some more wedding planning.  August started sad when my sweet friend & roomate Lauren moved to Virginia, but ended on a high note when Parker & I celebrated our 7th dating anniversary.  We also went to the Winterville Watermelon Festival for the first time in a few years.  September had its ups and downs too because Mom's brain tumors grew & she faced more treatment.  Parker & I had our engagement pictures taken at the Jolly family farm and I found out that I'd be working at Chapel Hill High School.  In October, we tackled our living room and registered for wedding gifts at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  November was a fun family time because Weston's baseball team won the Top Gun World Series & Parker & I celebrated the beginning of UNC's new basketball season at the Barton v. Carolina game.  Finally, December was a time of food, family, and fellowship over the holidays.  Parker & I decorated for Christmas for the first time, continued our Christmas Light Tour tradition, and rang in the New Year with the Morgans!

Now... in pictures.
laura ann