Two Years (& Top Ten Posts)

Two Years (& Top Ten Posts)

Two years ago today, I blogged for the very first time. Other than enjoying writing and having been told by a few people that I should start a blog, I didn't have much of a purpose for it. I think my first post said I hoped to be "fun, interesting, amusing, entertaining, and though-provoking," and have I accomplished that? You tell me. =) 

It's been two years of posts I liked, a few I read now and cringe at, and some I really, really loved. Of course, I wish that they were all winners, but I know that having a few failures means growth is happening, right? I've definitely learned some things about myself and a whole lot about my writing over the past couple years, and there are some things I'd like to implement moving forward.

-My biggest regret after all this time is not having a prettier blog design. I mean, I know I'm not exactly trying to sell anything, but I reeeally want things to look nicer around here. It's going to happen, eventually!!! (I guess the lesson here is I'm cheap and a procrastinator. Nice.)

-You'd think that after two years I'd have a more focused approach to this thing, but I still continue to write about whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes I envy those whose blogs have a very specific theme (hair! clothes! food!) but mine just isn't one of them. I enjoy not being "in a box" but to me, it's difficult to have a personal, "write what you want" type blog because when you have so many options.... it's hard to narrow them down. Ragan and RA do this really well. 

-Even though I'd like to be more scheduled and focused, I want to not feel guilty every day I don't post. It's not a guilt like, "I'm depriving my readers" but more like, "Good grief, Ashley- there's a whole world out there and you can't come up with enough content for a new post... get it together!" kind of guilt. (Both are crippling, I assure you.) 

-This kind of goes along with the last one, but I want to be posting about things that I care about or are interesting or funny to me. I know that I'm not writing for myself (that would be a diary) and if you're not interested, then who's reading along? But if I'm not interested, it's going to come off (at least to me) sounding manufactured and forced. On the other hand, if I genuinely want to share something, I don't want to avoid it simply to be more appealing to a few people. I've learned that I can't please everyone. (Anyone on any kind of social platform knows that.) I've been extremely fortunate not to have had any real "trolls" around here, but there are definitely people who prefer one type of post to another or who don't prefer any of them. =) That's okay! People come to my blog to read about all sorts of things, and it would naturally follow that some people would prefer some posts over others. That makes me a little crazy sometimes (but some people hate my outfit posts! Some people don't care at all what we did last weekend!) but I'm slowly working on being okay with it. A very varied group of people visits around here and trying to appeal to them all in every post would be a little nuts. (And do I look like I need to be more crazy?)

-Looking back at the posts I cringe at, I can see that I was usually trying too hard in some way- either to be serious, funny, or something I'm not. (The whole batch of hand-on-hip poses is in its own category of embarrassment. Lesson learned.) 

With all this learned, here are my top ten posts (judging from my stats):

#10- "Shakes and Stage Fright" (about my painful quirks)

#9- "Ice and Snow" (about facing trials)

#8- "It Could Always Be Worse" (about perspective)

#7- "Why This Isn't a Fashion Blog" (self-explanatory)

#6- "Lessons Disney Taught Me" (one of my favorites)

#5- "Oh, the Places You'll Go (For a Cute Classroom)" (Thanks for the traffic, Pinterest!)

#4- "I'm Over It" (this is pretty representative of why people like my blog, I think.)

#3- "Farewell, What Not to Wear" (In this spot no doubt because Stacy London retweeted it... SHUT UP!)

#2- Chambray 5 Ways (thanks to Pinterest and a link-up this one shot up to the top)

#1- "When This Boy Meets World" (it's the highest because TOPANGA/ Danielle Fishel SHARED IT... I still can't believe that!)

Wow- there's a little of everything here! Based on this list, people really like serious posts, they like clothes, they like movies/tv, they like self-deprecation, they like bulletin boards, and they really like a little loving snark. Apparently, I really like to share whatever my little heart desires. It looks like it's worked out pretty well. =) 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, messaging, texting, or telling me that you enjoy what I share here. Like I said, it comes with a certain sense of insecurity (does this matter? does anyone care?) and you remind me regularly that it does and you do. I appreciate it so, so much. Having a place to share what I love and a place to have found my voice (in writing, that is) over the past couple years has been a real gift. And gifts just happen to be my love language. 

We understand each other, don't we?


Gingham Two Ways (and Inspiration!)

Gingham Two Ways (and Inspiration!)

A while back, Merrick wrote a post about different ways to wear gingham. (Side note: one thing I love about blogging is the truly lovely people I've gotten to know and Merrick is one of them. She's ridiculously creative and inspiring with an ever-growing blog and some of the best remixing posts EVER but always takes the time to respond to my comments or interact on Twitter/Instagram. I'm a big fan!) I've always loved these checked shirts (and Jonathan does too) but I feel like I always wear them exactly the same way- layered with a cardigan or under a sweater. So, thanks to Merrick's ideas and a little inspiration of my own, I came up with two outfits that I actually really liked (and were a little different than usual.)

Skirt: Target
Top: Old Navy
Vest: Kohl's
Boots: Nine West

For a while now, I've been loving the purple/green (magenta/olive if you wanna be technical) color combination and this outfit just kind of leaped out at me when I was picking out my clothes for school the other night. (I really can't go to bed until I pick out my clothes for school, and every time I skip it I regret it big-time the next day.) Anyway, I know that with this necklace, a navy vest might have made things a little more cohesive but you know, the world will go on. Or maybe I just need another necklace. =)

Necklace: GroopDealz

Dress: Walmart ($3- holla!)
Top: Eddie Bauer (it was less than $7 at Sam's)
Shoes: Target
*I don't know why but every single picture I took made me look drugged, sleepy, or both. It was one of those "Did I look like that all day??" days. Sigh.

This whole outfit really felt like Merrick to me (always a good thing) and I hoped it would turn out as well in real life as it did in my head. This shirt is a soft flannel and, like I said, I always tend to wear these casually but I wore this outfit to church and if anyone thought I looked like a slightly blinged-out lumberjack they kept it to themselves. =)

Necklace: J. Crew Factory

Purse: Target (it's new and it was eight bucks! And it has a crossbody handle! And I love it!)
*Note to self- throw away old and disgusting welcome mat in the background.

So, that's it. I do love being inspired by others and remixing my clothes. I haven't been terribly inspired by a lot of what I'm seeing in stores lately and since we're going on a real vacation for spring break I need to be saving my money anyway. I know my husband is just heartbroken about it, but I guess he'll find a way to cope. =)


Linked up with Lindsey!

On Repeat...

On Repeat...

I kind of have a problem when I find new music or artists I love (and I'm not claiming to be unique; probably a lot of people have this problem.) I get super obsessed with stuff and play it on repeat over and over and over (and over and over) again. (Time-out for an Emperor's New Groove quote: "Aaaare you finished? Great-great aunt.") But Jonathan got me an iTunes gift card for Valentine's Day and I've made some really awesome music purchases that I'm loving sooo..... lucky you, read all about it.

-I know that The Piano Guys have been around for a while and every time I'd heard their music I loved it but I kept forgetting to download it. I just downloaded "The Cello Song" and "Without You" and I have been trolling YouTube for more. Simply beautiful and they really make me wish I could play the cello because it's just gorgeous. 

2. Casting Crown's new album, Thrive, has more of their same amazing lyrics (so deep! so biblical!) and the song "Broken Together" is one of my favorites of theirs to date. Not every one of their songs is always my cup of tea (style-wise) but you really can't beat those lyrics. (I also bought Mark Hall's book of the same title and so far it's excellent; I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in student ministry.)

3. This could probably go without saying, and it's not exactly a new purchase, but obviously I'm completely in love with the Frozen soundtrack. I wasn't sure what to expect from songwriters I hadn't heard of (I mean, there's only one Alan Menken) but these songs are great and because I'm a loser I have the deluxe album with karaoke versions which my husband loves as much as you would imagine.

4. The You've Got Mail soundtrack (as I said on Facebook the other day) just makes me inordinately happy. It's the perfect thing to play when I want to be put in a happy (or nostalgic) mood and hearing these songs makes me want to  buy fresh flowers, read lots of books, and walk around the streets of New York in a Gap turtleneck. It's something I've wanted to download for a long time and finally I had the iTunes money so I did and now it's my number one "good mood" music.

5. Have you heard The Tenors? Oh my goodness. Please do yourself a favor and check them out because this may be the most beautiful music I've ever heard. I had heard of them before (originally on my Josh Groban Pandora station) and downloaded a few of their songs but their new-ish album, Lead With Your Heart, has some of the most breathtaking songs ever... I know I'm gushing but I don't even care. Here's where I've really been YouTube trolling because music like this is even more phenomenal when you watch it. Oh, it's just heavenly. And now I've read all about them and I could tell you where they're from and how tall they are and what they think of each other (trues story... it's all on their website) but that would be a little bit too revealing of my inner psycho. =)

So, that's what I'm listening to right now... on repeat, much to the chagrin of poor Jonathan and everyone I've been raving about this music to constantly. If you really want to download something glorious, pick "Anchor Me" by The Tenors. It might make you cry. =)


Simple Peanut Butter Cookies...

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies...

This is quite possibly the most idiot-proof recipe known to man. (That said, if you mess it up, you're not an idiot. But they are really simple.) This is the peanut butter cookie recipe my mom always used; it's out of an old church cookbook and who knows what southern lady it originally came from. Anyway, I started making these pretty regularly a while back because a) they're SO simple and b) I always have all the ingredients. I'm not a very good baker (like, not at all) but these turn out really awesome every time.

All you need to do is:

Mix one cup of peanut butter, one cup of sugar, one egg, and one teaspoon (or "tisp!" if you're a fairy in Sleeping Beauty) and roll them into little balls. Place a few inches apart on a cookie sheet, press down in a criss-cross pattern with a fork, then bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. (I did 11 this time and let them sit and they were just right.)

Nom nom nom.

There are very few foods with which I'll drink plain milk (gag) but this is one of them.

Eat ALL the cookies!

Look at that pile of goodness.

Seriously, you know a cookie is easy (and good) if I get asked for a recipe. I mean, really. So go ahead and whip these up. They're the best! Promise!


Never Once...

Never Once...

Last week, I mentioned that one of my sixth grade students was in a serious sledding accident. I didn't give many details, mostly because we still weren't sure what exactly had happened. As the situation unfolded, it became even more clear that Caleb was facing a long, uphill battle and there were many doubts about just how well he'd be able to recover. At the same time, it was amazing to see the thousands of people joining together on Facebook and in other groups to not only pray for Caleb and his family but also raise financial support for them. Caleb has been so special to me and Jonathan, and his mom is one of our fellow teachers and my good friend.

Over the past few days, there have been some updates that made us pretty nervous and some that were encouraging, but receiving the news yesterday that Caleb had responded well to being brought out of his coma was so exciting! We all prayed hard that he would soon be breathing on his own and able to communicate beyond nonverbal responses. As his mom texted me this morning, "Hope I get to hear my boy talk today!!" 

Since that was a possibility, I checked the Facebook prayer page repeatedly throughout the day but never heard an update about his talking or not. Tonight, during our revival service and in the middle of our song time, our pastor announced that Caleb had been awake and talking today! Apparently I had missed the update, but there it was:

Um, WOW! And not only did I hear that awesome announcement, but then our ensemble and congregation began singing this song and I was pretty much a basket case thinking about the incredible sovereignty and provision of our God.

Standing on this mountaintop, looking just how far we've come,
Knowing that with every step, You were with us.
Kneeling on this battleground, seeing just how much You've done,
Knowing ever victory was your power in us.
Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say,
Yes, our hearts can say,

Never once did we ever walk alone,
Never once did you leave us on our own,
You are faithful, God, You are faithful. 

Carried by your constant grace, 
Held within your perfect peace,
Never once did we ever walk alone.

Every step we are breathing in your grace,
 Evermore, we'll be breathing our your praise,
You are faithful, God you are faithful.

Basically, I couldn't make eye contact with anyone for fear of completely losing it onstage! But my goodness... I just can't get over this awesome news and the awesome truth of this song. Never once has Caleb or his wonderful family been without the constant grace and perfect peace of the Savior. And even though they still have a long way to go, we can all look back even now and see just how much He's done. 

!!!!! (That's me having my own mini-revival here. God is so good!)


A Valentine's Day Card Guide...

A Valentine's Day Card Guide...

This afternoon, we had to run to Target after school and grab our Valentine's Day cards for each other. (Don't judge... who knew that a town that hasn't seen a major snow EVER would get over six inches this week??) I certainly didn't relish joining the mayhem as half of New Bern chose the perfect card for their husbands, wives, sisters, grandpas, cousins, and city council members, but there we found ourselves caught in the card aisle that smelled a little procrastination and a lot like despair.

Here's my issue with Valentine's Day cards. Most of them are extremely dumb and the ones that aren't cost around the same as a #1 combo at Chick-fil-A. Seriously, why is it that greeting card message are so awful? And really, the cards for platonic relationships are the cutest ones! It's the romantic ones that need work. 

- You've got the super corny "a poem for my husband" crowd that somehow manages to find ways to rhyme words like toilet or vacuum cleaner (why? why?). These usually include illustrations of little cartoon-like husbands and wives that are often (inexplicably) depicted by dogs, it seems. They might throw in pictures of dirty socks or crying babies for good measure and talk about "our crazy life" or something. This is like the "good ol' boy" of Valentine's Cards.

- Dirty cards. Enough said. (I could never bring myself to buy one of these- what if someone found it? And read it??- plus I'm pretty much a prude.) I don't read these unless the dirty part happens to be on the inside and then I usually (blushing and with a nervous laugh) stick it right back where it came from and hope no one saw me.  

- The novel. You know, these are usually long and thin, typed up on some type of parchment tied with a ribbon, and contain the complete works of Shakespeare or the (only slighty) abridged definition of love given in every edition of Webster's Dictionary starting with Noah W. himself. Good grief... I just can't. If reading the card takes more time than our wedding ceremony then it's too long. If there's going to be a lot of words in the card, I'd prefer to write them myself. Then I can avoid words like "our journey" and "warm" and "tender." These are the Karen Kingsbury of greeting cards.

- The cards that cost more than a new sweater. Because I'm a terrible person I think this way, "I could buy this card or I could pay less for that top I just saw in the clearance section." Honestly, though... $5 for a card? Seven dollars for a card? (I'm not making up these numbers, folks.) I mean, I think it's great that a card about "lovebirds" is adorned with the real feathers of the rarest Congo Peafowl but let's not get carried away. I'll save my seven dollars and if you really want to get artsy I can hot-glue some candles to a piece of construction paper and sing "You Light Up My Life" every time you open it.

- The awkward "everything that's gone wrong" card. You know, these (typically in the novel format) like to go down the road of the relationship and hash out all the tough times, the fights, the lonely tears, the bitter disagreements, and all the times you broke my heart but I kept coming back to you because I'm sucker... but it's okay! I love you, babe! And all the dysfunction in the world can't keep us apart. It just hurts so good. (If your relationship has been smooth sailing, this card probably refers to an ex.) So, if you're really over it, then why bring it back up? Valentine's Day doesn't seem to be the time to revisit the knock-down drag-out of '07. Chill out there, people. Then again, you probably played "Bless the Broken Road" at your wedding, didn't you? 

- This isn't really a category, but when we were dating and hadn't said I love you yet, it seemed like the only cards that DIDN'T say I love you were for teachers or 5-year-olds. Come on, card people! Don't you know there's a market of awkward dating couples who haven't said the l-word (and who don't want to be the losers to cross out love and write like instead, heaven forbid?) 

- The novelty cards. These are usually based on a show (Duck Dynasty, anyone?) or singer or something. I find it extremely ironic that there are Taylor Swift Valentine's Day cards. I mean, should there be break-up cards that come in packs of 10 for her multitude of ex-boyfriends? A lot of these play songs when opened (not the best idea to keep one in your Bible... "let's turn to... "AND IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUUUU" *frantic closing*) I think you can even pay an exorbitant amount of money to purchase a card that allows you to record your very own message using your own wonderful words. Personally I'd rather buy a seven dollar novel card than listen to myself recorded on anything, even a voicemail. That is a unique form of torture and has no place on this love-centered holiday. (My only exception to noise-making cards are Hoops and YoYo because they are the best.)

- The good ones. My favorite type of Valentine's Day card usually just says "I love you" with maybe one or two more sentences. I prefer to write in a nice wordy message myself (no surprise there) but even if I weren't a writer I wouldn't want the message to my husband to sound like it was written by the producer of a LifeTime movie (or a melodramatic seventh grader.) Like I said, though, most of the good ones cost a LOT... I mean, I'm not saying Jonathan isn't worth it but a card is, if I'm not mistaken, just paper. (It's like Father of the Bride- "A cake, Franc, is made of flour and water.") These days, though, with the cards being as STUPID as they are (especially husband cards, for whatever reason) I'm usually okay with paying a little more for a card with a card that's mostly not embarrassing.

I'm aware that there are super adorable and completely customizable card options on the internet (hello, Etsy!) and naturally some clever people can even make their own without looking like a toddler somehow clicked around in Publisher (my homemade results.) I guess I got what I deserved waiting to the last minute. But really, Greeting Card Writers for us Lazy (or Busy) People, let's set the bar a little higher, shall we? I know you can do better... just keep trying. We shouldn't really have to to choose between lame and... lamer? Should we? Love ya! Mean it! (See, short and sweet and no cartoon animals.)


P.S. If you love one or more of these types of cards then I am happy for you... it means you have a wider selection than I do! Also, no big deal if you played "Broken Road" at your wedding... It's one of my favorites. Just play along, k?



Many moons ago (or back in the fall, if I'm not trying to speak like Pocahontas), I pinned one of Merrick's Babble posts that featured a lookbook of sorts from Boden's new fall line. I think I had vaguely heard of Boden before but one of the outfits in particular struck me, mostly because I had all the pieces to recreate it. But then, like a moron, I clicked over to Boden just to take a gander at how much this glorious cardigan was going to set me back.

Um... $118? Not exactly in my budget. So I wiped my tears and went on with my life knowing that the perfect outfit was never going to be mine.

But then. I stumbled upon the clearance section of Boden during an online shopping party and found that my dream cardigan was way, way on sale. Still $34.99 which is still more than I would normally spend but considering it was marked down from $118 it was a steal. Plus I found a coupon code for 15% and free shipping so really... how could I say no?

The inspiration... 

And my copycat outfit, minus the mini-ballerinas.

Yes, that's a mop behind me. Keeping it classy posing on Mamaw's back porch, as usual.

It's hard to see all three colors at once so a good old mirror pose felt right.

Frizzy curls are optional.

Cardigan: Boden
Top: Loft
Skirt: New York and Company
Heels: Target (I promise, I do have other shoes)
Necklace: J. Crew Factory

I'm all about recreating this with my leopard loafers for a more casual outfit!

Also, my parents were in Goldsboro for the weekend and even though things weren't quite a-okay (my dad had a nasty stomach virus and my mom sliced her finger on a razor because she just has that kind of luck) we were able to celebrate my mom's birthday and my dad preached an awesome message Sunday night!

So, the moral of this story is, I suppose, that patience is a virtue. Another moral is hold onto your money and don't spend it just because you can match an outfit on Pinterest, but where's the fun in that?


P.S. Linked up with Lindsey!

Snow Day...

Snow Day...

After I wrote this post, I received the news that one of my sixth grade students was  in a sledding accident and sustained a head injury. He's currently in surgery. Please, please, please- would you take a moment to pray for Caleb and his family? Thanks!!!

I'll be honest... I wasn't really itching for another snow day. After nearly a week off earlier this month (which amounts to having to make up those days of school) I would have been happy for a few more weeks of cold in order to enjoy my scarves and boots a little more but then I'd be ready to to welcome spring with open arms.

However, the snow is back with a vengeance, and if snow day is unavoidable, I'm not complaining about getting a day off. I mean, who could?

Trying to take a cute picture blowing the snow... which clearly didn't work out.

So, do I want to make up more school days? Ha! No way. But I can either be sad about that or I can marvel at the fact that beautiful white flakes have been falling out of the sky all day in a town that hasn't had snow like this ever, to my knowledge. And while I'm stuck at home, I'll be cleaning (check- gotta get the yucky stuff done first!), watching old movies (starting with The Shop around the Corner), and getting a big pot of my favorite soup simmering on the stove. Also, I just bought a bag of SweetTart hearts (not that nasty chalk) and a bag of dill pickle Lay's soooo.... thank goodness for layers, right? Winter, the season of covering up the fact that I do nothing but eat. It's a great time of year for my sedentary lifestyle. 

Happy snow day to you! Get out there and enjoy it... where we are, it doesn't come around much! (And if you think I'm lying head to Walmart and try to find any bread or milk. Personally, if I get snowed in I'd much rather be stocked up on Mountain Dew and PopTarts, but that's just me.)


P.S. If you want to read a GREAT post from an incredible writer who's far funnier than I am, check out this one by my friend Ellen. She's awesome!



This week hasn't been the greatest. I haven't been sleeping well, I've had collections of stuff to be put away lurking around every corner, and the pile of dishes has seemed to be competing with the pile of laundry to see which one of them can take me hostage and use the other one for ransom. 

This morning, after stumbling bleary-eyed to the car (again) late for school (again) I told Jonathan, "I have GOT to get my life under control today." That's a little melodramatic, but I felt like I was going to scream if I didn't return at least a semblance of order to my life. So this afternoon, instead of taking yet another nap that would only keep me awake at night, I took 45 minutes to clear out the atrocity that was my classroom closet, took 30 minutes to put away two baskets full of clothes (thank you snow day layers!) and another 20 minutes when I got home from the basketball game to do dishes, vacuum, and start a load of laundry. 

Obviously, it's not like any of this stuff was life-changing or even hard to do... it's just the little things that had snow-balled into one constant reminder of all the stuff I have to do that I don't want to do. I'm not expecting anyone to be impressed; I'm just relieved that instead of giving in to another nap or episode or chapter I decided to be productive in spurts of time and climb out from under the pile of stuff that's been driving me crazy for four days.

Some other things I need to do instead of wasting time/procrastinating: 

-take off my horribly chipped nail polish

-clean my bathtub

-organize (or attempt to organize) my two dresser drawers that always get out of control with the addition of tights and socks in the winter

-finish a couple more of the multitude of blog drafts I've started recently.

-get off the couch and back on the treadmill (or something.)

Editing/uploading pictures is probably not the best use of my time either. Oh well.

Top: Target
Skirt: New York and Company (I haven't found anything I really like there for a long time, but I still love their classics like pencils skirts.)
Shoes: Target (clearly I've been suffering from a lack of sleep because what teacher in her right mind wears heels to school?)
Side note: this top was $3.88. Do I need another black and white striped top? Not really.  But apparently my resolve has a price, and it's under four dollars.

So, after this gloriously productive day, with my clothes laid out for tomorrow and my house livable again, I am off to bed for what I hope to be a night where I'm not kept up wondering what bad guy is around the corner. (Thanks, Person of Interest.) 


Attempts at Being a Sports Enthusiast...

Attempts at Being a Sports Enthusiast...

I'm one of those people that wants to be a big-time sports enthusiast, but can't quite pull it off. I used to be one; good grief, when I was twelve I could rattle off the 25-man roster of the Seattle Mariners without stopping for a breath (including batting averages. I was a bit of a talker.) But over the years my interest has waned a bit, much to husband's chagrin. I do, however, know quite a bit more than you'd think just from osmosis of constant ESPN and SportsCenter both on my television and radio.

Don't get me wrong; I still love certain sports teams- Alabama football, Carolina basketball, the Atlanta Braves (and yes, the Mariners, from a distance.) BUT my problem these days is that I get caught up in the individuals playing and before you know it, I've read an article interviewing Johnny Manziel's dad and suddenly I'm all teary-eyed over this poor kid who has been exploited by his university and the media. (I know, he's really a punk, but still...) I've always loved the Seattle Seahawks, and Richard Sherman debacle notwithstanding, I still do. I mean, is there a classier guy in football that Russell Wilson?

Only one that I can think of comes close- Peyton Manning. So I was a little sad when the Seahawks had to face Denver for the Super Bowl. I mean, of course I cheered on my team... Seattle! Hometown! Twelfth Man! Rah-rah-rah! But, Peyton's so nice! He's like the consummate "good guy" of football and Sunday night's slaughter win, which as a Seattle fan should have made me really happy, instead had me feeling really sorry for Peyton. Will his name still be mentioned with the best of the best after losing a game by the biggest Super Bowl deficit since 1993? I hope so.

Anyway, moving on from all that sentimental hoopla: WE WON! And the McNeeses were decked out in our best Seahawks attire (sorry, no actual fan gear, but we did wear green and blue proudly.)

"Cut out my face." You got it, babe.

I think I was trying to look like I was cheering but instead I just look like a moron.

Go Seattle! 

I look really tired and it's because I had just rolled out of bed and into my clothes for choir practice. Hooray for being comatose every Sunday afternoon, right?

Also, if you care, and you probably don't: 
Dress: Banana Republic
Cardigan: Old Navy
Heels: Target

Honestly... this is me the majority of the time.

So, that's me- trying desperately to remain a hardcore sports fan but not quite pulling it off... but most definitely cheering loudly when my teams win. I'm a step up from bandwagon and not quite ignorant, so I guess it's okay. 

Go Team!


Dear Miley...

Dear Miley...

From a Disney star to an internationally-known pop music mogul, Miley Cyrus has taken a sharp and dangerous turn in the last few years. I won't take the time to outline her downward spiral, but it's a reality and there are hundreds of stories and posts dedicated to it if you'd care to Google them.

Do I take issue with Miley's filthy onstage performances, overtly provocative image, and perverse language? Sure, but until today it didn't do much more than make me feel very, very sorry for her. But now I'm mad. Yes, I'm ticked off, and here's why. 

I get it, Miley. We ALL get it: you're no longer on the Disney channel, you're no longer a child (even though legally you're just barely old enough for the substances you are regularly seen using), and hey, no one asked you to be a role model. If kids are looking up to you, if young girls idolize you, then it's their problem, not yours. Well, apparently, you know that they are, and you're proud of it.

I've read plenty of posts since your infamous VMA's performance that justify and defend your behavior, calling it entertainment, calling it personal expression, calling it "finding yourself" or identity as an artist. In the meantime, you've tailspinned, but not in the way most people think. Your performances aren't a cry for help, at least not consciously. They are very calculated move of a businesswoman whose product is her own body. No? Well, here's what you have to say about it just this week (posing nude as you do):

"I like that I'm associated with sexuality and *bleep bleep* where we just don't care. I'm not Disney... where everyone's wearing a brightly colored t-shirt."

No, Miley, you're not Disney anymore. But it's a little presumptuous of you to continually throw off on how far removed you are from the franchise that made you a star. Could you have become a household name without Hannah Montana, who had quite a collection of brightly-colored t-shirts? Hmm, maybe by doing what you're doing now, which is taking your clothes off. But as an actress? As a singer? Have you had a successful movie since Bolt? Since Hannah Montana: the Movie? And while you're not the only former Disney star stripping down and literally shedding their clean-cut images, you definitely seem to be the ring-leader of this trend.

But why am I mad, Miley? Certainly not for Disney's sake... you're not the first star they've "lost" and you won't be the last. They're fine, and they'll move on without you as a "role model" in their arsenal. The Disney Channel "Circle of Stars" is literally a revolving door of fresh "talent" so they knew this was coming. I'm mad because I'm a teacher, and I teach teenage girls, and those girls listen to your music and watch your videos. (The boys do too, but that's another issue.) These girls think you're awesome. They started watching you when they were little, as Hannah Montana, and they've followed your career, and for whatever reason, they seem to still think the world of you. And these girls are learning from you. They're learning that it doesn't matter what your talents are, what kind of a singer or actress or person you are- in order to stay "on top" of the heap, you've got to take off your clothes. You've got to objectify yourself to remain in the spotlight. You've got to mask that voice and those acting skills behind one of the most sexually provocative images in the business. I was a fan, Miley. I loved Hannah Montana, I loved your voice, I loved that just a few years ago you were pretty intent on being a positive role model for young people.

I guess you still are, if you consider spreading the trend of objectification and cheapening of your own dignity a good thing. You're often quoted as saying "Who cares what anyone thinks?" (with a few expletives thrown in) but obviously, Miley, you do care. You care what the people who are paying big money for you to literally sell yourself think, because they're the ones who have somehow convinced you that it made you more of a person or an "artist" to desecrate everyday objects as props in your music videos or live, apparently, with your tongue perpetually sticking out of your mouth like a camel. 

I do still feel sorry for you, Miley, because it's a shame that a young girl didn't (or doesn't) have anyone in her life to make her feel like her talent alone was enough to keep her fans or get new ones. That's sad. It's sad that we live in a society where sex sells above talent or quality. It's sad that, for whatever reason, you felt the pressure (or desire) to become an object over an artist. 

And no, I'm not criticizing you because, in your words, I'm "below you" and "want what you have." Nothing could be further from the truth. If my entire career depended on taking my clothes off and smoking a joint in a music video I'd be in big trouble. If my idea of a shrewd business move was to find the next "shock factor" and capitalize on it, I'd maybe be jealous of your so-called success. I'm critical because, while I genuinely regret what's become of you, it personally offends me that, for better or worse, you are sending a message to my students, and it's a lie.

Maybe you've forgotten, Miley, since you seem to have missed Sunday school these past few years, that Psalm 139:14 tells us that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." No qualifiers, no "if I look or dress or dance this way" but period. God created you in His image, and that's enough. And because of that, I Corinthians 6:20 says, "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Now, you may not believe that anymore, but it's the truth. So, these girls are hearing two messages. One, from the Bible that tells them that they're perfect the way they are and that their bodies are a precious gift from God for His glory. The second is from people like you (and I know you're not the only singer who acts the way you do, but you're the one they idolize) who tell them that the best way to get and keep attention is to essentially throw up your middle finger to society and embrace your inner seductress.

That's not true. God did not create you to give you liberty to turn yourself into an activist for sexual exploration. (Read the interviews; I'm not making this up.) You, and all girls, are created as beautiful masterpieces. I'm sorry that somewhere along the line you've decided that that's not enough, but it is. My students are watching you, listening to your music, and following you on Twitter. Oh, and did I mention I have nieces? Thankfully, they're too young to know who you are, but the next generation of young actresses and singers that they become familiar with are looking up to you now. 

You're better than this, Miley. I would like to believe that, deep down, you're a better singer, actress, and person than the one you've become. It seems though, that you've bought into the lie, and that this "public image," judging from your own words, has become who you are. I hope you find your way back to a place where you aren't constantly exploited. I hope you can find your worth in quality art instead of demeaning, shock value performances. In the meantime, stop lying to my girls, and stop lying to yourself.