Small-Town Friday Night...

Small-Town Friday Night...

One of my favorite things to do for fun is to go to downtown New Bern... the little shops, the waterfront, the Pepsi store... it's just too fun. Also, I was never much of a small-town person growing up, mostly because we always lived near big cities (Seattle, San Francisco, and Atlanta) but New Bern is just so (dare I say it? okay, fine) charming and cute and I just love it. So there.

A cute little downtown street...

Someone's pretty flowers...

Mint chocolate chip ice cream from Cow Cafe? Pretty much my favorite thing ever.

I love this guy!

So, if loving a trip down-town and walking around with the other New Bern-ians on a Friday night makes me a townie, I'm a townie, I suppose. (You know what I'm talking about, right? Boy Meets World? Eric Matthews? Anybody? Okay...)

Do you love small towns? Come visit and I'll totally take you downtown for some ice cream or a Mountain Dew. If that's not gonna get you here, I don't know what will. (I'm looking at you, Grace. We have some Nick Sparks stalking to do.)


Strawberry-Banana Muffins...

Strawberry-Banana Muffins...

I'm not really much of a baker... or a cook... more of a open the roll of cookie dough and plop it on the pan kind of girl. Okay, not really that bad (at least now) but this is one of those recipes that has made it through the very narrow gate of what I find acceptable/what I can prepare without ruining.

I actually found the recipe last summer when I was on a make new food/try new recipes kick (short-lived, obviously) and I've changed it a little but it's not too hard and it's a great way to use up your strawberries and (too-ripe) bananas, too.

(the prettier picture from the website)

Strawberry-Banana Muffins (adapted from

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup milk
1/3 cup yogurt (I used vanilla but you can use banana if you want a more banana taste)
1 mashed banana
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 and grease your muffins tins. (My batter made 15 muffins.)

Mix the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and strawberries in a large bowl. Mix the milk, yogurt, banana, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just enough to combine... do not overmix. Fill tins about 2/3 full each and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and firm.

I love these muffins! We had them for supper the other night with some bacon and eggs and it was delicious. Why for supper, you say? Well, because having them for breakfast would require getting up early and clearly I have no time for such nonsense. Breakfast for dinner it is!

Enjoy, dears! Bake it up!


Highlights (not the children's magazine)...

Highlights (not the children's magazine)...

Did anybody else get Highlights? Picture search, Goofus and Gallant, two-page fiction, mind-benders, and surprisingly deep poetry (along with some hideous scribbling) from children around the country (Anita, age 8? Jared, age 6? Alejandro, age 11?) Just me? Maybe you read it at the dentist?.... anyway, that has nothing to do with the post. Moving on...

The end of another week is upon us... I don't do a terribly huge amount of anything, but somehow I blink and the days are over. (Meanwhile, during the freakishly busy school year, I blink and it's only 10:17 am. Explain this phenomenon, genius readers!) I tell you, this summer is speeding by at an alarming rate. Slow down, sweet days of freedom... please slow down. 

Anyway, a few highlights from this week-

Banana pudding... the ultimate summer dessert, at least to me. It's sooo good. Want the recipe? I'll trade you for a Mountain Dew.

Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping, squishy baby face? No, no there's not. I love this boy and if I don't get my hands on him soon I may just skip town and head to Georgia.

My baby sister turned 21 this week. Whaaa? She's just an annoying 9-year-old... okay, not so much anymore. Funny how someone can be a thorn in your side for years and you wake up one day and the two of you are best friends. Very mysterious, the ways of the growing-up process.

And now I want to go back to DisneyWorld. Not that I need a picture to make that happen.

A little pattern mixing action... can you believe this scarf is from Walmart?! I'm pretty picky with my scarf thickness level and it's just right for summer. I've been looking for a scarf with lots of colors... so, yay me! I tell you, this place has some hidden jewels

If you follow me on the 'gram (videos now? what? poor vine...) you know that Jonathan and I were able to check off one of the items on my summer list... golf! It was actually a perfect day for it weather-wise... so really no complaints. 
Actually, one complaint (come on, this is me you're talking to)... the cart paths were soooo ridiculously uneven I felt like I'd been in bumper cars all afternoon. Being jostled and bumped around was hardly comfortable, but since it wasn't blazingly hot I can't say it was too bad. Still... fix that up, Emerald. Come on.

Well, I hate to disappoint, but next week we're headed off to junior camp with a group of 3-6 graders (no worries... a full and complete report on that terrifying journey adventure will be available at the end of the week. In the meantime, I'll try to sneak away and update throughout the week, if only to let you know I'm surviving the elements.

I make no promises... they're a tough crowd, those kids.


P.S. Linked up with Lauren!

Spending Money (What I Do Best)...

Spending Money (What I Do Best)...

Honestly, I haven't done that much shopping lately. Well, let me rephrase... I haven't done that much buying lately. And no, I haven't been bedridden or in a coma... this happens a couple times a year. I either hate everything I see or it costs like nine thousand dollars and a portion of my left kidney. So, these few items have fallen somewhere in between those two categories. A few times I've had a stroke of luck- and I also visited two outlet malls within 3-day period so that was helpful. (Because some of my purchases were outlet finds, they were impossible to find online, but I've worn a few other new shirts on Instagram lately. (Follow along: dashofashblog =)

Striped tee from Old Navy- they have a neon yellow/khaki version I love! I've been wearing this quite a bit... it's loose and comfy and stripes... hello? Obviously my love language.

Cardigan from Target- sometimes I surprise myself with the pieces I buy that become versatile and useful quickly and this is one of them. The yellow is even brighter in person... definitely a neon shade but I'm wearing it with everything! Yes, it's a million degrees outside, but it's still a little cool at night and the AC is frigid pretty much everywhere so I like carrying it around.

Maxi Skirt from Target- I've been looking for another, slightly lighter maxi since my others are just too thick for summer. I scored this one the other day for six bucks... woohoo! My only complaint is that the fabric is so clingy but that's what long shirts are for, right? 

I've been wanting a polka-dot chambray top for a while now because, you know, plain chambray is so last summer. (Not really... I'm just greedy and materialistic.) So when I found this one at TJ Maxx a while back, I waited and watched hoping it would go on sale, and it did! (Okay, it only got reduced five dollars, but I'll take it. Greedy and materialistic, remember?)

With my faaaavorite yellow skirt, it was perfect for our ladies thing at church the other day. Well, maybe not perfect, but I didn't feel too dressy or too casual.

I can't wait to layer this thing to death in the fall!

I'm shocked and a little hurt that no one has asked me to divulge my photography/editing secrets yet. (Not.) I was, however, very flattered when the nice girl at Chick-fil-A that night asked me how I curl my hair. I was tempted to tell her it was natural, but come now... I can only claim so much. (Ha!) I happily referred her to Kate (even wrote the name on a napkin!) and felt a little fabulous. Then I got home and looked in the mirror and felt sure the poor girl needed glasses. Oh, summer frizz.

Find any good deals lately? You know I live to hear about them. 


P.S. I'm linking up with Lindsey

Lesser-Known Disney Movies I Love...

Lesser-Known Disney Movies I Love...

I'm fairly certain by now that you all know that I am a bit of a Disney fanatic. And while most people are familiar with the universally popular Disney films like all the princess movies (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, etc.), classics like Aladdin and The Lion King, and of course the extremely popular Pixar collaborations (Monster's Inc, the Toy Story series, A Bug's Life), there are quite a few Disney movies that may not be the first that come to mind, but are still really great. And because I am an educator, I feel like it is my duty to impart my knowledge of these cinematic jewels to you, my dear reader. (Or I just like talking about Disney movies because I'm a child.)

1. Hercules- Hey, who doesn't want a fictional account of Greek mythology delivered by a Supremes-like group of "muses"? I actually didn't watch this one until high school (or maybe even college?) and I love it! "Zero to Hero" is one of my favorites from the soundtrack and of course "Go the Distance" is a pretty well-known "inspirational anthem" now. And my four-year-old niece knows every word of "I Won't Say I'm in Love" so that makes the movie worth watching right there. (Favorite scene: the singing muses, obviously.)

2. The Great Mouse Detective- I just read an article the other day about movies that never really "caught on" and this one was on that list. I don't know why- I love this movie. It's like Sherlock Holmes, but with mice. (Doesn't that spell "box office smash" to you?) In retrospect, the bad guy-er, rat- Ratigan is pretty terrifying but it's still a good little movie. (Favorite scene: Basil and Dr. Dawson escaping the trap at the end. Oops... spoiler alert!)

3. Bedknobs and Broomsticks- Long before she was the voice of Mrs. Potts and sang that now-famous hit "Beauty and the Beast," Angela Lansbury was an eccentric spinster taking in a trio of orphans during World War II England. As "Miss Price," an aspring witch, she goes on a search for the rest of her correspondence course for witches and meets the surprisingly unextraordinary man behind her book of spells. The rest is a little too complicated to explain but it includes some animated animals playing soccer, enchanted armor fighting a German platoon, and some delightful songs from the Sherman brothers. And David Tomlinson, Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins, is always a favorite of mine. (Favorite scene: the street market on Portabello Road)

4. The Emperor's New Groove- I know a lot of people have seen this one, but I'm including it just in case someone hasn't because if you haven't seen it, you must. Hands down one of my favorite Disney movies because it's just so funny. David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt, and maybe the funniest performance of Patrick Warburton's as Kronk. A spoiled young king is turned into a llama and has to be humbled quite a bit before he is restored to the throne. I won't even include one quote because, well, I can't pick a favorite. (Favorite scene: Yzma picking Kuzco's poison.)

5. The Kid- I vividly remember my dad bringing this movie home for the first time... our family immediately had a new favorite and we quote it to this day. Bruce Willis is a grumpy, selfish, high-powered image consultant (known as a jerk to pretty much everyone), Lily Tomlin is his wise-cracking secretary, Emily Mortimer is his sweet but honest assistant, and Spencer Breslin (in his first role!) shows up as his 8-year-old self to let him know that he needs to make some big life changes or else he'll "GROW UP TO BE A LOSER!" This is a great movie... please find it and watch it. And hey, Bruce Willis had hair! (Favorite scene: Bruce Willis on the plane with the lady on her way to a job as a news anchor.)

6. The Happiest Millionaire- I can't believe my family had never heard of this one until a few years ago, but it's another Sherman Brothers score with Fred Macmurray as the sort of crazy head of the sort of crazy Biddle family. It's one of those movies that doesn't really have a central plot, other than the daughter, Cordelia, "growing up" by going away to school and leaving her tomboy roots behind completely and falling in love. I looooove the songs in this movie and it really does have a superstar cast (Greer Garson, Tommy Steele, Geraldine Page) and it features the major acting debut of both Lesley Ann Warren and John Davidson, whose voice, by the way, is pure magic. Oh, and if you enjoy this, you should check out The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (the movie is only slightly longer than the title) because John Davidson and Lesley Ann Warren play another couple and sing Sherman brothers songs. (Favorite scene: the dancing scene at the party. I listen to that song all the time.)

7. Homeward Bound- I'm usually not a big fan of real-life movies with talking animals, but this one I love. Shadow, Sassy, and Chance are "abandoned" (so they think) when their family leaves on a long road trip, so they take off behind them on foot, crossing the Sierras, rivers, and busy streets of California to make it home to them. Along the way the meet with all kinds of danger but, of course, make it home to Peter, Hope and Jamie in the most tear-jerking last five minutes of a movie ever (well, if the ending includes a golden retriever, a Himalayan cat, and a bulldog pup.) This is a good one... funny and (I cringe while I type) heartwarming. It really is. (Favorite scene: the end and also the one where Sassy is reunited with Chance and Shadow. "My boys! My boys!")

8. Newsies- If there was ever a buried gem in the Disney vault, it's this. I was in high school when I discovered this and- you know my flair for the melodramatic- my life was changed forever. With a score by Alan Menken and directing/choreography by Kenny Ortega, and featuring a 17-year-old Christian Bale (I know!!!), this is one of my favorite musicals of all time, and that's saying a lot. It's also saying a lot to tell you that my husband absolutely loves this movie... he who is not a fan of musicals or dancing or most of the frivolous things I enjoy. So, yeah... it's the story of the newsboys of New York City during the days of the circulation wars between Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hurst. Oh, my. I just love it so much. And now that it's on Broadway you better believe that I'll be seeing that show as soon as possible. (Favorite scene: probably Seize the Day, but Santa Fe is really wonderful too. These are all on youtube for your convenience, by the way. =)

9. Aladdin and the King of Thieves- I am definitely not a fan of all sequels (in fact, I should write a post about why most of them are disastrous) and while I enjoy Return of Jafar (the first sequel to Aladdin), this third movie in the trilogy is definitely the better of the sequels. I think it's mostly because Robin Williams, who had been replaced as Genie for Return of Jafar because of some kind of dispute with Disney CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg or something... neither here nor there... returned for the third movie and thank goodness because he makes the film. And while the songs are some of the cheesiest ever- "Out of Thin Air," for example- I love it anyway. (Favorite scene: Genie consoling Jasmine after her wedding is ruined. Robin Williams improvised pretty much the entire scene.)

So, if you are like me and avoid any type of work during the summer  need a few movie ideas for yourself, or, your children, I suppose, check out these little gems. Other suggestions include, but are not limited to, The Big Green, Cool Runnings, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (for you, Andrea!), The Rescuers, Swiss Family Robinson, The Apple Dumpling Gang (and Rides Again, Brook's favorite), Summer Magic, Follow Me, Boys!, The Absent-Minded Professor, The Parent Trap, Pollyanna... okay, you see how long I could go on. 

Check these out! I love them and you will too. (But if you don't, please don't tell me. I want to love you, I really do.)


P.S. I wish I could say that this post was sponsored by Disney but alas... it is not. So if some Disney big-shot happens upon my blog and recognizes a true fan when he sees one, I would happily take compensation in the form of tickets to Magic Kingdom or simply a Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bar. I am quite easy to please.

I'm Not Happy, Bob (A Father's Day Post)...

I'm Not Happy, Bob (A Father's Day Post)...

For Father's Day: 24 of my favorite memories with my dad (that's one for each year he's been my dad... I didn't just hit on that random number.) Also, the title should not indicate that I actually call my dad Bob... it's just a line from The Incredibles that we like to quote to each other. No To Kill a Mockingbird here.

1-Braves games
2-catch in the yard 
3-McDonald's before church (or any time) 
4-singing along to Greater Vision 
5-watching old movies (especially musicals!), Andy Griffith, and Bonanza
6 -eating saltine crackers
7-folding bulletins on Sunday mornings
8-hot hot dogs
 9-orange sherbet
10-stops at the gas station for drinks
11-quoting movies (all.the.time.)
12-telling each other Reader's Digest jokes
13-watching Alabama games
14-writing poetry (his, not mine)
15-singing Disney songs (yep... best dad ever.)
16-"It'll feel better when it quits hurting." (surprisingly sound advice)
17-Diet Coke (him, not me!)
18-family devotions (and making everyone laugh during the Bible reading... me, not him)
19-Starbursts (especially red)
20-the "Barney dance"
21-Ernest Goes to Jail
22-listening to Rush Limbaugh (back in the day)
23-baseball stories
24-being anti-Auburn, anti-Lakers, anti-Phillies... basically anti-everything but Alabama and the Braves.

I could go on, but hey... I'm only 24 years old. =) Happy Father's Day to the best dad in the world (I know my sisters would agree.) Bob Baines is the best! (And a fan of alliteration... a gift passed to me, his favorite daughter.) Love you, Dad!


Read more lovely sentiments about my dad if you wish. =)



I'd say that my attempts lately at goal-setting have been spotty, at best. Well, actually, I've been an excellent goal setter (see exhibits AB, and C) but my execution of all these goals is nothing to write home about (unless you're writing home to say, "Ashley never achieves anything.") So, to appease my guilty conscience actually make some plans I might actually keep, I am categorizing these by things I want to do (good), things I need to do (bad), and things I have to do (ugly). Okay, hopefully they're all good, and organizing them is so  Monica of me, right? 

The obligatory random picture... I guess it's a little applicable, since this was taken on our first summer trip: a few days in Williamsburg, VA last week. Frizzy hair compliments of humidity and genetics.

1. I want to....

- rewatch season 7 of Psych. (In anticipation of my season recap I've been meaning to write, and also because laughing burns calories and I'm pretty sure just one episode would be quite a workout.) I also have a bunch of old movies, mostly on Netflix and Prime, that I am planning on revisiting for nostalgia's sake. 

- read at least a few new books (I'm looking to Janssen's summer reading list for help in this area!) and finish the one I've been wading through for a while. (It's kind of scary and I'm a big baby. I'm actually a really fast reader and I should just sit down and finish it in an afternoon but, you know... why do that when I can torture myself and read it in five-minute increments?)

- try a whole bunch of new recipes and include as much fresh summer produce as I can (we have a really great farmer's market here in New Bern). I am generally much better about this during the summer (you know, when I don't feel like a dead woman by 3:00 p.m.) so here's to making my husband a whole lot happier about dinner, at least for a few months. I have a whole Pinterest board just waiting to be explored!

-  golf at least once with Jonathan. I've tried before and didn't hate it, but let's be honest... I would rather chew off my arm than do any physical activity in this heat. I'm only including this on my want list to be positive and because I really want to do this with Jonathan because he loves it so much. Maybe I'll trade him an afternoon of golf for an afternoon of shopping? Nah, he's too smart to take that deal. 

- I have several little home projects in mind, but putting my Instagram prints to use (I recently found a new picture and mirrors that I've got to hang up) is going to be a fun one. I love how they look strung up with mini clothespins but I'm trying to find something a little more formal (not that my living room is formal, but whatever.) Janssen (yes, again!) did this canvas refashion herself (!) and I'd love to make something with a canvas. Who knows?

2. I need to...

- be drinking more water. Curse you, sweet tea! These five pounds I really want to be rid of would disappear, I'm sure, if I'd guzzle a bunch more water every day. So, that's a need.

- organize my closet. I recently did another huge haul when I switched my clothes for the season and sent two trash bags full of clothes to my sisters. But, other than a very general system I think things could look a lot better. This includes my shoe organization, which is, let's be honest, something I'm ashamed of. I need to just bite the bullet and buy a nice shoe organizer and nice hangers. (But I'm sooo cheap and I'd rather buy clothes than nice hangers to hang them on. First world Ashley problem, I'm aware.)

- really work hard at shopping smarter- as in, shopping to fill specific holes in my closet as opposed to, "But it's 85% off! I don't even know what this is, but I need it!" I've got a list of very specific items (dressy striped top, bright maxi skirt, etc.) and I really would love to avoid impulse purchases until I can find things I know I'll love (and actually wear.)

- put some time/money/energy into a new blog design and my plans for the blog for the coming months. It's easy to read blogging tips, be inspired, and kind of mentally pin them into a corner of my mind (which, unfortunately, is becoming an increasingly less effective way for me to store information) but I really would like to get the ball rolling on making things look nice around here. I have no plans to be racking up sponsorships or anything instantly, but I've kind of been spinning my wheels about all this and I'd like to actually get moving. =)

- find the perfect anniversary present for my husband. I really love thoughtful gifts but because he is so very picky, I usually err on the side of caution and buy him something lame like clothes. I'd like to really surprise him with something amazing. (Ideas welcome!)

3. I have to...

- organize all of my school supplies (bulletin board stuff, classroom items, etc.) This, sadly, includes the very tedious job of going through my captions (spelling everything out to see what letters I've torn and need to replace, etc.) I've also got to make a decision about my room for next year... I completely changed my room out six times this past year, and while I enjoy the variety, I think I could maybe achieve the same effect without the huge overhaul every six weeks. While I'd rather not even think about school until August, things are so nuts that I have to get things planned, at least on paper.

- finish this year's Christmas play. No pressure or anything... ha! I also have to get the scripts passed out for our church's Christmas play (the one I wrote last year) and actually I am ridiculously excited about it. Stressed prematurely, but excited!

- schedule all of our dentist/doctor/life appointments we've neglected during the school year. I know I shouldn't think this way, but by the time you get things ready for a substitute, you're like, "Oh good grief, I'll just take the bacteria that's invading my sinuses!" We both need check-ups and are woefully behind in our dental appointments, so, there's that. I know these are the glamorous life details you hope to find here at A Dash of Ash.

-  attend at least one Braves game. If all goes as planned, we'll be at Turner Field on July 4, and I am so excited. A ball game with my dad, complete with fireworks at the end? This could possibly be my favorite summer memory from my childhood and teen years, and if I can only make it to this one game, we picked a good day to go. I dare it to rain in Atlanta that day! (Okay, not really... no jinxing here!)

- sleep. sleep. sleep. And sleep some more. I have absolutely no shame about sleeping in during the summer because I do so little sleeping in during the school year and it takes until around July for me to start to feel human again. 

Well, I didn't intend to make this the longest list in history, but sometimes I amaze myself. As long as at least the "have to" list gets done, I'll feel fairly productive, but I'd really like to accomplish the wants/needs as well. We shall see. If you want the absolutely truth, I'd be happy to just get around to the very last items (zzzz) but I am resolved to at least attempt the rest.

Got any big summer plans? Do tell (especially if you have any motivational tips for me! You know how quickly I drift off course.)


A Message to the Trolls of the Internet (and Beyond)...

A Message to the Trolls of the Internet (and Beyond)...

All the good that comes along with the internet (sharing pictures! vast information at our fingertips! connecting with friends! youtube!) is accompanied by an equal (perhaps greater) amount of bad (drama! ridiculous posts! bragging! subtle complaints that really aren't so subtle!). I remember the first time I found myself sucked into the never-ending comment feed of some controversial article. As I read hateful comment after hateful comment (from both sides of the issue) I thought, "Wow. There are some really mean people in the world." And while I've been extremely fortunate not to have had any hateful comments here on my blog ever (knock on wood), I know that others are not so lucky. And I'm not just talking about blogs... we've all seen drama elsewhere on the internet. Facebook arguments, celebrity Twitter wars, mean comments on YouTube... it's everywhere.

And by don't feed, I mean don't give them the pleasure of getting you down. 

Recently I read an article (somewhere I cannot remember, sorry!) that discussed being positive online and being mindful of your digital footprint. In other words, everything you say online (yes, even you anonymous trolls we all love to hate!) can and will be eventually traced back to you. And do you want someone's opinion of you to be formed from a mean-spirited comment you left in anger on some blog post or discussion board somewhere? It probably sounds like I have an ax to grind, but I really don't, personally. Like I said, this hasn't happened to me on my blog or anywhere else. But I've come across a few things here and there on the www recently that have me a little peeved about this topic of what can really be considered online bullying.

I'm not talking about a disagreement or difference of opinion... clearly there are as many opinions as there are people, so, you know- billions. And not everyone is going to think or live or act like I do, and that's okay. But why in the world is it okay for me (or anyone else) to publicly call out that person for something I don't like? Oh yeah... it's not okay.

For example, if a person regularly posts something you don't care for (maybe a daily picture of Starbucks... hey! it's another frappuccino... what a surprise!) then do yourself a favor and hide them. But taking to your own page to criticize their choice of page content is stupid, because everyone knows who you're talking about and now you look like the jerk, not the person who's happily sipping her coffee (or whatever it may be.) I have been shocked a few times lately over how some people, with very little prompting, have no qualms about being very negative and critical toward others for things that are, honestly, pretty trivial. And while I am certainly not a fan of everything that comes through my newsfeed or blog feed every day, why would I feel the need to trot off and openly be hateful about it?

So, a few words of advice for those of you who feel the need to be the trolls of the online world and spew hateful, immature words. (By the way, if you think I'm talking about you, I probably am.)

1. Grow up. "I don't like her because she wore a blue shirt! What a stupid picture of her cat! That guy is always eating cookies; what a loser!" These sound more like words I'd hear in my third grade classroom than statuses from grown-up adults, but they aren't very far from the truth. Seriously? Let other people live without the need for a public service announcement every time someone annoys you. And again, a complaint now and then is not what I'm talking about... I'm talking about mean-spirited tearing down of others. 

2. Shut up. Seriously, just tear your eager little fingers away from the keyboard and walk away. Hide, delete, do whatever you need to do so you don't have to see whatever it is that is so very offensive to you, and just shut up. Unless you are genuinely trying to help someone come to a different point of view (in a kind way) then zip it and ignore them. This is especially true, I think, if you're on a blog or page or something of someone whose worldview is a polar opposite of yours. If you know you're going to disagree, why keep coming back? It's a typical troll move.

3. Wise up. (In other words, educate yourself.) Have you ever noticed that most of the time, trolls are not very smart? It's like they just vomited a whole bunch of mean words and didn't bother with sentence structure or punctuation. If you insist upon being a troll, or defending one, at least know how to speak, for heaven's sake.To  quote Mike Wazowski, "If you're gonna threaten me, do it properly." On the flip side, just because you put together a well-worded comment doesn't mean it's kind or true. It could be Pulitzer-worthy, but if you're being hateful then it shouldn't be said. 

I typically don't get on a high-horse about things like this (although I'm not above it) but it just reeeeally gets under my skin when people use the internet to bully and put down others.And sadly, I'm not even talking about teenagers or kids (that's another post entirely!). Good grief, I can get worked up over mean comments toward someone I don't even know, let alone a friend. And more than once in the last few weeks, I've seen at least two blog friends of mine down on themselves because of internet trolls running their mouths (er, fingers) about other people's blogs/content/style/parenting/personality/whatever. Just stop, okay? I'm such a passive person (in real life... controversy is probably my greatest fear after public speaking or Target being destroyed by a hurricane) that, like I said, I usually just let stuff go, but I am considering this my response to every troll who has ever made a friend of mine feel bad (or future trolls here on my blog, if my good fortune runs out.) And you really can't argue with one, so the best response is a big fat delete... or a good rousing response and then a delete. It's like the obnoxious little kid on the playground who wants to wet-willy everyone... your teacher was probably right when she said to ignore him so he'd stop. That doesn't mean you didn't want to shove his face in the grass, but most trolls will not be silenced by a polite "please go away and never come back." You just have to hide, delete, block, whatever and let it go.

And obviously all of this would translate to real life, but I feel like online bullying is so much more prevalent because of the supposed anonymity of it. "I can delete the comment.... I can hide the post... I can write a hateful post and then leave the group...muwahahaha." Um, no. Let's all agree to stop trolling (if, heaven forbid, you've ever done it) or stand up to the trolls of the world. There are more of us than there are of them, right? The good guys always win, right?

Start at about 40 seconds... or, you know, watch the whole thing. 

\Hey trolls: we all see you. So "play nice!" 


Rambling (and a Brief Emotional Outburst)....

Rambling (and a Brief Emotional Outburst)....

So, school has been out for exactly ten days and I am even more tired than I was that last crazy week of finals and programs. I thought that the post-school-year grass would be ever so much greener, especially when it comes to my tired levels, but alas... I have not been in my house for more than a few hours since last Monday (out of town twice) and I am now sunburned, fat (okay, "heavier"), and exhausted. So, in the spirit of delaying the inevitable, now you know why I've been MIA lately. I promise I have some new posts coming up (new movie lists! summer to-do's! online bullying! (vaaat? yes, you shall see.) Anyway, I did have a simply lovely time spending the last 24 hours with my family, including my too-distant cousins and my darling second cousins.

This is my sweet Ashlyn (I tell everyone she's named after me even though she's kind of not.) 

I love her!

She was really getting creative with her "crazy face." (Also, her brother is equally adorable but refused to sit still for me declined the opportunity to pose with "Ashwey."

This adorable little psycho is crazy and I must really love her shenanigans because we were up talking until three (THREE!) and you know how that happens exactly never times a year for this grandma. 

These two... Salt and Pepper since birth. (They're still about eight years old when they get together.)

I really feel sorry for people who don't grow up knowing their cousins. Not only were we close, but we were next-door neighbors with a path worn out in the grass from our constant tromping back and forth to one another's homes. (Well, I went over to their house a lot, mostly for the chocolate milk.) And now we're all grown up and mostly married and some have kids, and (dramatic pause) I just love these people so much. I could write a whole post of Cox-Baines stories (Rachel's broken nose? April's detached finger? Anna's head injury? Aunt Ginger picking us up from school in a clown costume? Screaming loud enough to alert the deaf neighbor? (true story!) Walks to the park? Bike rides around the neighborhood?) but our memories are many and wonderful and now I am an emotional basket case. Ah, family. The very best.

Be back soon with all sorts of riveting information. Or, you know, I might be sleeping. We'll see who wins that argument. 


Top Five...

Top Five...

As far as first weeks of summer go, this one has been a real winner. Time with family, time with my friends, time at a pool, time with good food... you get it. A rousing good time. (And I do apologize for all the personal postage lately... eventually I will find something to talk about besides what I've been eating or wearing or something. I'll conjure up a good rant or movie list soon, but until then you are stuck with the goings-on of my life. Sorry!)

1. Miracle of miracles... I was able to see my best friend (we met at age seven!) and college partner-in-crime (seriously, we had some cah-razy times as freshmen) Heather on Tuesday! She is far too far away in Ohio these days and I haven't seen her since my wedding so we had a glorious time catching up, reminiscing, and laughing way too hard. She is definitely in my "friends for life" category.
2. Hawaiian shaved ice- first one of the season. Oh my goodness... the half has not been told regarding how good these are. And no, it's not a snow-cone! If one doesn't come to New Bern soon I may just have to open a stand myself. 
3. I received what may be my favorite gift along with a Target card... a gift certificate to a nail salon! A pedicure is so nice (other than the fact that my feet are horribly ticklish and I am, in all likelihood, being mocked in a foreign language.) 
4. I was able to eat a Rudy's hot dog yesterday and, as always, it did not disappoint. I don't know how they have the best hot dogs in the world (and I'm not a person who craves hot dogs) but they do and I will not turn one down. Ever.
5. My dad and I snapped this picture in the midst of the movie-quoting competition going on between my sister and me. As long as I can recite large portions of The Incredibles I will remain his favorite child.

Have you had a wonderful week? I hope so! (I also hope that the fact that a significant portion of my week recap includes food is not indicative of the person I am... but I think it is.) Happy Friday, neighbor! (Mr. Rogers sends his love.)


P.S. Linked up with Lauren!

She Who Makes Me Laugh...

She Who Makes Me Laugh...

So, as you know, I enjoy making people laugh. I also, however, enjoy people who make me laugh, which may be why my little sister is one of my favorite people because she can make me laugh, possibly harder than anyone else in the world. Naturally, when we get together, a lot of movie-quoting, picture-taking, snort-laughing silliness takes place, and this week was no different. I don't really know how to describe Amy's sense of humor except to maybe call it a ghetto version of my own? That really doesn't make sense but neither does half of what we laugh about, so I suppose it's for the best.

The bottom left sums up quite a bit of our relationship... my looking jolly and her looking disgusted.

So many ridiculous faces, and I didn't even keep half the pictures because I'm making a truly hideous laughing face in them.

Oh, my... if laughter really does burn calories then I should be quite a bit thinner after the last few days. Sisters are the greatest, am I right? (And yes, I have two more... but I can only praise and highlight those who make time to come visit me. So, that's just the little person featured above. Sorry, workingmomswithchildren slackers. Maybe next time?)


Still Sinking In...

Still Sinking In...

You know, I've talked about being excited for school to finish for so long that now that it's over, it hasn't really registered with me that summer break is upon us. I still feel like I have lesson plans to write and papers to grade. To quote Emma (well, Harriet Smith) though, "I am happy to be wrong," and I'm sure the realization that I don't have to be up at zero dark thirty every morning will soon kick in and I'll be ecstatic.

An empty classroom. I'd say it's bittersweet, but let's be honest... it's pretty sweet.

Since I've been a little MIA for the last few days (I blame craziness of the last week of school and my laziness that we all know and love) I'll bring you up to date on the very thrilling happenings in the life of the McNeeses.

On Thursday, the elementary had Field Day, which included a huge inflatable water slide thingie. Naturally, while the teachers were eating lunch together, Blake someone had the grand idea that we should get out and enjoy the water slide before it got returned for the day. Well, being the mature grownups that we are, we ran home, changed clothes, and ran back to play in the water.

Oh yeah...

The ringleader of all this fun...

Yes, we are 24 and 25, not 12 and 13. 

Ready to race...

And it was all fun and games....

Until Mr. Accident Waiting to Happen my sweet husband got hurt. He and I were racing down the slide and when I got to the end I was vaguely aware that he was no longer beside me. Then I heard faint shouting and turned back to see that Jonathan was hopping around on one foot while everyone was yelling about his stepping on something. Go figure... he managed to find the one piece of metal on the side of a post (how? how?) and tore the bottom of his foot up. (If you'll notice the crimson spots in the background, you'll see evidence of this. The place was practically a crime scene.) 

So, the open wound kind of put a damper on our fun (although after about five minutes of everyone standing around awkwardly staring at Jonathan's bleeding foot, he quickly reassured us that he was fine and we could continue to play... well, I assume that's how he finished it... I was immediately running back to the waterslide because I am the world's most supportive wife.) Of course it took us about three times as long to clean the slide up as it did to play on it and tear open one person's appendage, but that's neither here nor there. NBCA has one grown-up staff, let me tell ya.)

THEN Friday night some very sweet ladies hosted a Faculty/Staff Appreciation Dinner for us and it was so nice to kind of reminisce about the year and eat really good food (let's face it... I was more excited about the food than anything else.) 

Jon and Sarah

Blake and Brook

Me and Katie

Me and Sarah

I love these girls! I am so blessed to teach with people I truly love and call dear friends.

Kami and Brook

And my favorite teacher =)

I won't ramble on about the end of the year or the rewards of teaching or the craziness that is teaching middle school (though I have and I could) but it really was a good year- a hard year, but a good one. I'm not sorry to see it go, but I did learn a lot and the Lord showed me some very interesting things about people and about myself, so that's good. But I am very blessed to have taught with a great staff and, truthfully, the best thing about it is working with my husband every day. Without him, I would literally go crazy. Not that that's a stretch, but still. He's the best. (Eeeewww! Mush!!!! Sorry, no more.) 

I'll get my butt in gear and get back to business around here this week, I promise! I have lots of posts planned, but since I'm out of town (well, at Mamaw's) and will really be out of town at the end of the week, I'll try to squeeze them in. (Also, I have a multitude of movies recorded and I will be systematically working my way through them, starting with Beauty and the Beast. Good choice, eh?)

It's summer!!!! Rejoice!