Inner Monologue...

Inner Monologue...

I don't know about you, but one of my least favorite things is plucking my eyebrows. In fact, I am ashamed to say that it was not that long ago that I even started doing this tedious task, and it was only after years of my sister APRIL mocking me regularly and acting as though I had no commitment to personal grooming whatsoever. In her defense, when I say I looked like Mia Thermopolis pre-makeover, I'm really not exaggerating.

I've been told we resemble each other (not always in the nicest way.)

So, when I can no longer ignore the bushman (said in Julie Andrew's voice) eyebrows resting on my face, I have to break out the weed-whacker  tweezers and go to it. 

And before some forward-thinking person asks, "but Ash dear, why don't you just go get them waxed?" let me introduce you to me and my complete lack of pain tolerance in any form. Childbirth is sure to be a treat.

My Inner Tweezing Monologue:

"Ow. ow. ow. ow. ow. ow."

"How have I let myself go like this?"

(The elusive strand) "If that stupid hair doesn't get out of my head I am going after it with a blowtorch."


" is this one so long?"

"Forget shaping... this is a quick mow job, not a lawn manicure."

"Can't I just shave these off?"


"Maybe eyebrows aren't that important."

*Googles this idea. Finds this picture. Trudges on.*

*Moving to the right side

"WHY does this side hurt exponentially worse than the other one?"

"Ow. ow. ow."

"Maybe it hurts worse because it's like a JUNGLE over here... tangled overgrowth and all."

"Why is having dark, thick eyebrows considered "quirky beauty" when Lily Collins does it? When I do it it's SHAVE THE BEAST! SHAVE THE BEAST!"

"Oops... missed 37 strands on the left. 2319! We have a 2319!"


"Ugh... enough."

The End.


Chambray 5 Ways...

Chambray 5 Ways...

So, if you read any style blogs or ever look on Pinterest (and by "look," don't we all mean "surf for far too long while avoiding other, more productive projects?") you've probably seen a "one piece, many ways" outfit post. (I even did one myself a while back.) Well, Audrey, who is a queen of remixing, started hosting a One Piece Many Ways linkup and while this week (and last week, and the week to come) has been crazy I decided to throw one more thing on my plate because I've missed doing outfit posts and I really love coming up with lots of outfits using just one piece. Also, Brook and I were recently discussing the need to shop for items that can be worn with multiple outfits, so here we are.

I almost feel like using chambray is cheating, because it's so versatile and it's become the poster child (er, shirt) for remixable clothes. However, I chose my polka-dot chambray button-down, so therefore it's a little different, right? Sure.

Behold, the crooked photo. The shirt is from TJ Maxx and I believe I got it for $13 on sale. (I suppose I should have picked up an iron at the same time. Oops.)

I'm only including this because it is the lone picture that shows my head... I'm not trying to be one of those cool, anonymous outfit bloggers. It's 11:30, my hair is icky, and my eyebrows look like Mia Thermopolis. (I'm all about full disclosure.)


1. Tucked In
Yellow pencil skirt- Loft
Flats- Belk (thanks, Mom!)

I wore this very outfit earlier this summer and loved it... chambray and yellow are just made for each other, in my totally uneducated opinion. I would definitely wear this to school.

2. Knotted
Skirt- Target
Wedges- Belk

Knotting it gives this billowy skirt a little more shape without needing a belt. Also, points for pattern mixing! See, the polka dots came in handy!

3. Layered/Dressy(ish)
Blazer- Gap
Skirt- Ann Taylor
Loafers- Target

I'll have to muster up some courage before I wear this blazer (you know, because of my economy-size shoulders) but I like the idea of dressing it down a little with chambray and a denim pencil skirt. And leopard loafers, because... why not?

4. Layered/Casual
Sweater- Old Navy 
Shorts- old (Walmart?)
Sperry Topsiders- Belk

For some reason, this look simultaneously makes me feel sporty and childish, like a six-year-old. (Maybe the giant pink heart on my sweater?) And, well, I was a pretty sporty child so it's kind of like the best of both worlds for me.

5. Loose
Maxi- Target
Necklace- Target

I just love wearing something super casual and throwing a big ol' sparkly necklace on top. It says "why yes, I did plan my outfit and did not reach for the nearest clothing resembling pajamas."

Is this chambray shirt a little wardrobe workhorse or what? I didn't even venture into fall outfits (I'm picturing scarves, vests, more it fall yet?) So, what's your favorite piece to remix? Visit Audrey's linkup for lots more outfit ideas from people who know how to edit pictures and use their irons, I'm sure.


P.S. Linked up with Audrey and Lindsey!

A Life That Counts...

A Life That Counts...

Tomorrow evening will mark two years since Papaw went to Heaven. And I can't tell you how many times since August 28, 2011 I have wished so badly that he were still here. Oh, I know he's far, far happier now, and not in pain... and free from the disease that took him from us, body and mind, long before his actual death. But my goodness... I miss him.

So many things remind me of Papaw... homemade milkshakes, and squirrels, and watching the Braves, and seeing his hats in the closet, and Landon and Leslie's big blue eyes. I think of him when old westerns come on (he loved Audie Murphy), and when I can't finish eating something (he was big on not wasting food), and when I see a French-cuff shirt (he was big on those too.) I miss talking to him... he was one of those people that was interested in almost everything, which made him interesting. I miss eating with him... he loved to eat, especially ice cream. I miss laughing with him... He was hilarious. He loved to joke around and had an extremely quick wit... nothing got by him. (I like to think he passed a little of that to me =). I miss hearing him preach. I miss hearing him pray. No matter where we were- at home, at a hotel, at someone else's house- before bed, he was going to pull out that big Bible and put his glasses on and read and then lead in prayer. And that makes me think of how Mamaw always had devotions with him, even when they couldn't kneel together anymore because he was in bed. I miss how tough on us he was sometimes, over what seemed like little things, but how very, very loving he was, especially with kids. He adored kids, and they adored him. (Of course, I was one of them.) It didn't matter how old he was; the grandkids piled on him and pulled him around and he wrestled and threw us around like a teenager. I think of him when I see a roller coaster, because he tricked me into riding my first one... and rode it with me. At 66. That was Papaw... I don't remember him being afraid of anything. I'd give anything to have more of his lessons and sermons written down; the man was seriously one of the brightest minds I've ever known.

From the time I was very young, I remember Papaw praying, "Lord, help our lives to count for you." When I was little I didn't give that too much thought. Now I think about it quite a bit. Papaw's life counted. Literally thousands of people can point to him as a direct influence on their lives and their families. He and Mamaw loved, counseled, prayed for, took in, and helped more people than we can count. When he died, hundreds of people visited, sent cards, sent flowers, and let us know what a difference he had made to them. And it didn't matter if they had ever wronged him... forgiveness was always waiting. My uncle Mike has said that one of the things that he learned from Papaw (and Mamaw) was that it didn't matter how someone had treated them in the past... that person could always come back and be welcome- at church, in their home- and treated kindly. That was just how they treated people.

I wonder, as I think about that prayer, what I am doing to have a life that counts. And no, not a "does my life have meaning" kind of thinking... I know my life has meaning. But what am I doing that will count for eternity? Am I the wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, teacher, and person that God wants me to be... that looking back over my life, others will be able to say, that my life counted for something? Something lasting, something important... something that reached others and not just myself? More than clearance shopping, or silly blog posts, or being a Disney fanatic... and I love all those things... what am I doing, and how am I doing it, that makes my life count?

One of the reasons I miss Papaw so much is that I just need his advice sometimes. I know he would be a voice of reason and wisdom when I am lacking those things. I wish he were around to answer my questions about teaching, about how to reach those kids- after all, he reached so many over the years (and it wasn't because he was easy on them!) I wish I could interview him and write down his story for other people to read. I really wish he could have been around as I've started writing more- I know he would have been so supportive of that. Even when I was a nerdy little kid, he was telling me I could do whatever I dreamed of, whatever the Lord had for me. 

Papaw believed in me. He thought my life would count for God. Of course you can't live to please a person, but you can live in such a way to make someone proud, and that's what I'm trying to do. Please God, and have a life that counts, for Papaw as much for myself. His life certainly counted; in fact, so much so that even two years after he's gone I still find myself wishing desperately that he would appear and we could talk... about anything and everything... just like we used to. I want to be a person that he would be proud of.  He won't be around to love on my kids, or answer their questions, or make them eat their oatmeal. =) But I hope and pray that everything he taught me, who he was, will be passed down through me. 

This is long and rambling but I guess I just needed to write it all down... some of my memories, and a little of what I've been thinking about as this anniversary approached. Oh, I miss him. I'm thankful for Heaven. I know Papaw's life counted and I hope mine does too. And maybe I need some ice cream now... you know, just to make him proud. =)


P.S. Last year's anniversary post

Happy Things...

Happy Things...

Some things just make me happy...

Mini-road trips with this guy (and a braid that actually stayed in for longer than two seconds...)

This view... I could get used to it.

An amazing anniversary dinner at this place (we went for the third year in a row.)

A huge cinnamon roll from Baker's Kitchen...

An exposed zipper, a cardigan, cheetah print, and my new wedges...

Getting this year's curriculum... (don't let my face fool you. I really am excited...ish.)

My new chambray Keds (thanks Mom!)... 

Spending time with my cousin... isn't family the best?

Hawaiian shaved ice... enough said.

And last but not least... I have been admiring this dress at Target for months and... patience pays off... I snatched it up tonight for seven bucks! Score!

What were your happy things this week? (My final happy thing, not pictured, is SLEEP... I need to rest up for our Vacation Bible School next week... then classroom decorating... then in-service, then SCHOOL. Bye, bye, summer. And you thought this was a happy post.)


A Love Story...

A Love Story...

I have wanted to share our little love story (fine... story is stretching it. Novel is more accurate) for a while... actually, ever since I started this blog. But, as always, time got away from me or it didn't seem like the right time or I was napping or whatever. So when Grace shared her story (and Simon's, I suppose), I decided to copy blatantly finally be inspired enough to tell  ours. This information is absolutely not crucial to the story, but you know I tend to ramble...

Okay. So... here's where it all began. (Go ahead and grab some popcorn and a Mountain Dew... this could be a while.)

Also, my only great regret for this post is that the two oldest pictures I have of the two of us together... including one where we're 12 and 13... are missing and I almost didn't finish the post due to my grief over this fact but I promise the moment they're found I will update.

I don't remember actually meeting Jonathan for the first time. Our parents went to college together, he grew up with my cousins, and I just kind of always remember hearing his name and just knowing him, without ever really meeting. (Keep in mind that I was in Washington and he was in North Carolina so it's not like we rubbed shoulders all the time.) I do remember our first encounter (that I was aware of) happened when I was about eleven. I was walking through my Mamaw's neighborhood with my cousin Kailyn, who was in Jonathan's class at school and one of his good friends. For some reason, I remember feeling "cute" that day, probably because I was wearing something of Kailyn's (she has always generously shared her awesome clothes with me =) and with my armor of Gap clothing, what was so scary about meeting a boy? We (intentionally) walked by Jonathan's house, where he was (intentionally) outside shooting a basketball. We stopped to talk and ended up playing basketball for a little while (I may have won and been super pleased by that.) Anyway, we were both really young and dorky and I probably thought he was cute but it wasn't love at first shot or anything.

That year, though, we (brace yourselves for this dose of vintage) IM'd each other (littleangel421? mcnugget88?) every now and then (heaven knows what we talked about... I genuinely don't remember. Probably baseball as this was the peak of my Mariners obsessions.) I think a little email may have been involved too. Then, the next year while I was in NC for vacation, we ended up hanging out with my cousin Stephen on a youth group day trip to the coast (boat ride, aquarium, etc.) We talked A LOT that day and I remember making him laugh (which was and is my litmus test for how much someone likes me) and I had a good time, but I was 12 soooo.... still not the top of my priority list. Plus we lived SO far apart that it didn't really occur to me that anything would ever, ever happen.

WELL... the next couple of summers are a little fuzzy in my memory but I think he was gone when I came to visit or something... but fast forward to 2004. Oh, that glorious summer when I walked into Faith Church on a Sunday morning and looked across the sanctuary and BEHOLD... that handsome boy in a brown pinstriped suit with his spiky hair and tan and braces. I was smitten, instantly, like... what happened to the dorky kid with buck teeth and crew cut? (He was adorable too, but this was like Jonathan 2.0 or something.) AS SOON AS we finished lunch at Mamaw's, I dragged Kailyn out the door to confess my new found love "go for a walk." While I was a little reluctant to share all this with her, since she'd been telling me for years that I was going to marry this boy and I was always like, "No way! *nervous laugh* That could never happen!" I knew she'd totally be thrilled so I blurted it out anyway.

"Um, so, first of all... Jonathan McNeese is hot!"


Then teenage girl pandemonium set in and we began discussing the matter as if something could very well come of it (while I'm living on the opposite side of the country.) Even though I didn't really believe that he'd ever date me (or even think about it!) I could dream and my crush on this guy was full-blown. Of course, I went home a few days later (I don't even think I talked to him during the trip) but all of a sudden those California boys were lame compared to this dreamy guy in Goldsboro. Again, it didn't really matter with the geographical situation and all, but still... didn't hurt to daydream.

Well, a few months later (January '05) our family unexpectedly had to make plans to move away from Santa Clara, California... and where should fate land me but Goldsboro, in the SAME NEIGHBORHOOD as the guy I've been in love with for months! Years! (Okay, it wasn't fate... it was God. Duh.) Anyway, my parents told us we'd be in North Carolina and I immediately (amid all the grief of moving half-way through the year) thought: "Maybe Jonathan McNeese will finally notice me." (I was a deep teenager, obviously.) I hadn't heard from him in a while, but since what we were going through was sort of traumatic to say the least, he even emailed me to tell me he'd be praying for our family and was looking forward to my moving to town. (!!!) I was thrilled. At the very least, I hope we could be friends. You know, friends who went on dates and got married.

Much, much later I was told that as soon as he heard we were moving he decided he would be dating me. Ha... I would have loved to be let in on that little piece of information a lot sooner.

Over the next few months, we did become friends, but not like I thought we'd be. We talked a little at school and church, but for the most part it was kind of a "pal" thing (which I was coming to realize just seemed to be my lot in life... the "cool friend who's a girl but never a girlfriend" zone. I was its queen.) I thought, when we moved to Georgia that summer, that maybe I'd get over him since it was pretty obvious he had no interest in dating me (silly boy.) We'd been gone for over two months when our family gathered for Papaw's birthday party and I saw him working at the church and he looked up at me and smiled and... well, all the lofty plans I'd had to "move on" came crashing back down. It was no use. Those blue eyes? Stop. (I know, you all hate me right now. Whatever.)

SO... that fall we hung out at camp (ah, camp romance) and kind of hit it off (again) and started emailing. (Oooo... I know. So archaic. I'm a dinosaur over here.) He'd send me rambling emails about school and basketball and church and I'd print them (because I'm a loser) and read them over and over and analyze ever word and smiley face and poorly placed punctuation mark. (Even back then, he needed me... he just didn't know it yet.) Then I'd painstakingly agonize over every word of my reply (is this funny? or cute? or clever? is it friendly but kind of flirty but not too much because the boy doesn't even like me and seriously I need to know!) And the cycle would continue.

Before Christmas he sent me a game-changer... something to the effect of "I need you (NEED!) to come to Mid-Atlantic (a youth conference) with me (WITH ME!) because there's no one to hang out with (gee, thanks, but I'll totally take it!) so see if you can come...." So of course the begging ensued and my mom agreed and I got on the bus for the trip in late December and we were inseparable for next three days. Bus, services, meals... it was the J and A show. And on Friday night at Frankie's Fun Park (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!) we were playing putt-putt golf. It was really late, probably close to midnight, and freezing cold and my hands were turning blue but I was hanging out with Jonathan McNeese! And no one else! This is worth frostbite, okay? Anyway, we're out there and all of a sudden he says, "I need to ask you a question," to which I very graciously replied, "Okay... shoot," or something equally ladylike. And he said...

"Will you go to Junior Senior with me?"

Okay, if you didn't go to a Christian school... Jr/Sr is a banquet in the spring where everyone dresses up in formals... it's like prom. Without the dancing. Or a lot of the other stuff, one hopes. Anyway, I finished silent screaming to myself (since his back was turned) and then very casually replied, "Um, yeah, that would be great." (This being interpreted, "Why, yes, I will marry you and be your wife til death do us part."

Still, though, I'm thinking, "He doesn't really like me. There's just no one else he'd have that much fun with at the banquet." I really didn't think he wanted to be my boyfriend. At all. Just friends, and since he thought I was cool and funny (not pretty... I was sure) I would be a decent date. (Obviously he DID like me but apparently thought putting me through a few more months of inner turmoil would be a good idea.)

So, we kept emailing. And then, miracle of miracles... he called. In March. And for the next month or so we talked maybe once a week. I STILL thought we were just good friends and he enjoyed my company. But the emails started getting a little more, say... personal? "I'm excited about seeing you." "Only 8 days until you come up here." "I had so much fun talking to you last night," etc.

Vaat? Me???? You say these things to me???  Hmmmm.....

In April, when I was out in California visiting friends, I got another game-changer... it was as round-a-bout as he could make it, but the email plainly stated "I like you and I can't wait to see you." Well, there it is. I could no longer convince myself it wasn't true... he really did like me. I was shocked but clearly not displeased. After all, this crush had been going strong for about two years now (really longer, if you count the awkward childhood years). We saw each other a few times before the banquet and each time was a little more "date-like." And of course I was as nervous as could leading up to this blessed event that I'd been worrying about for the past five months. (He's a real go-getter in the planning department.)

Our very first "official" date was on my 17th birthday... April 21, 2006. I wore a blue dress and way more makeup than I ever wear and a bunch of hairspray and bobby pins and hoped that I didn't make a fool of myself. Of course it was awkward and all the witty conversations we'd had over email for the past several months escaped our memories and we mostly just stared at each other (not used to being in the same room very often), and it WAS a formal banquet so frivolity wasn't really appropriate... but still. It was unforgettable. And for my birthday he bought me a guitar book and new strings (for my new guitar obsession) and a card that I still have and is still so sweet and pitifully awkward. I love it.

I didn't even have that much makeup on when I got married. Airbrushed Barbie?

 That weekend when I went home, he sent me a goodbye email that officially (and off-handedly... typical) referred to me as his girlfriend for the first time. You better believe I hit print on that one and probably carried it around with me for a good while, because, you know. Lameville.

I'm not sure what's crazier... the fact that I willingly posed this way or how thin I was. Memories... they light the corners of my mind. (Also, I think we can all agree that I should never agree to a profile shot ever, ever again.)

Over the summer we continued talking and visiting and he came for my sister's wedding and I went up there for his graduation, and all the while I knew. I just knew. It was probably, partially, ridiculous teenage confidence that I had found "the one," but deep down, where I wouldn't have even admitted it to anyone, I knew that if I could be lucky enough to hold on to him, I'd marry this guy.

The months passed and we talked on the phone (more once I FINALLY got a cellphone my senior year of high school, which was probably a good thing) and found ways to visit each other. (The "L-word" entered the picture about a year and half later, in May of 2007.) When I had to go away to college (separate from him) my freshman year, it was really hard. We were in different time zones with completely different schedules (and I think Verizon had a bounty on my happiness or something because I had nothing but phone trouble all year long.) Finally, we were reunited (more like united, since we'd never lived in the same place... now 2008!) and I was able to attend college at Southeastern with him. There we finally settled into life as a normal dating couple (in that, you know, we went on dates) and got to experience college together which was a blast.

Ah... the matching society shirts. 

The next summer, he joined my family up at our friends' beautiful cottage in the mountains of North Carolina. I knew the proposal was coming (we'd been ring shopping and I am not a huge fan of surprises) but we'd been there for a few days and.... nothing. (The only reason I was really that anxious was that I had bought the perfect shirt for the occasion and I didn't want to keep wearing it. Yep... materialistic to the end.) But I knew it was coming, like I said. This is so embarrassing, but remember when you could type up a text message and save it as a draft? (Maybe you still can.) I did that for a bunch of people... poised and ready to blast out "I'm engaged!" to the world. (I know... pathetic. But, be prepared, I always say.)

Finally, on August 11, 2009, he asked. (Not on one knee... I'm still bitter about that.)

 But of COURSE I said yes and the planning began and with a nine-month interruption called... school, (haha, gotcha) we were married on July 23, 2010.

Three years ago. Today!

FYI: I had to wear that suit for the choir. I would not have willingly been wearing a (flannel? wool?) suit in May. Or December, but that's neither here nor there. I didn't dress that crazy...

Two graduations...

A new (to us) car...

A first apartment...

And a second...

And a few years of a teacher's schedule and lots of church stuff and early mornings and late nights and laughs and tears and crazy days and bad days and happy days and fun days and hard days and long days and busy days and sweet days and challenging days.... it's been a long journey (12 years since our first picture!) and three years of marriage, but they're been great. Really. And while our story isn't terribly unique in that our eyes didn't meet across a crowded room or we didn't meet online after matching personality quizzes or whatever... and neither of us dated anyone else (thank goodness since I would literally be a green-eyed monster of jealousy)... it's pretty cool that we dated for so long (mostly long-distance) and never even came close to breaking up. Not that we didn't fight or anything, but none of this "taking a break" stuff. Like I said, I think we really both just knew that we were supposed to be together. And we were. And we are. Thank the Lord... He knew before we did. =) I've mentioned this before, but we really are perfect for each other. Not perfect, mind you... but perfect for each other. 

Better together.

So, that's our story. And three years into this crazy thing called marriage, I'd say it has a pretty happy ending. (Well, it's not over yet. We did promise "til death do us part" which guarantees our happy ending. Unless we make another Target trip anytime soon... in which case Jonathan might kill me, bringing our happily ever after to a swift end. Nothing but the truest love here at the McNeese house... just keeping it real.) 

*Happy anniversary, babe! I love you. And this is your card, so... there. I saved $3.99. Let's go to Starbucks. Or Target.*


New Jewels and Y2K...

New Jewels and Y2K...

One of my favorite things about accessories is that they're an easy way to incorporate a color/pattern/trend without feeling overwhelmed by it. Scared of a leopard print pencil skirt? A leopard flat or belt will do the trick. Not a fan of looking like a human highlighter? Try a little pop of neon (and check out Merrick's fabulous post on the subject.) And if you're scared to add too much sparkle to your outfit (and it's not New Year's Eve), then a pretty necklace or earrings can lend a little bling (without looking like you mugged Mr. T and stole his jewelry. Not the bling you're going for, I hope.)

Last week at Francesca's (remember, when I got my necklaces for a penny each?!) I found some a few things that were exactly the style I'd been looking for and marked waaay down (obviously.) And while I'm notorious for "saving" new things I buy, I loved these pieces enough to wear them right away... no rainy day in sight! 

Skirt: Belk
Tshirt: Old Navy... love love love it and want it in every color.
Sandals: Target
Purse: Nine West (time-out: aren't crossbody bags the best for shopping? K, time-in.)

Earrings: Francesca's
I love these pastel colors and the flower-ish shape.

Dress: Banana Republic Outlet 
Shoes: Target

Necklace: Francesca's
I've been looking for something similar (but didn't want to spend $50 at J. Crew because I'm a cheapskate) and I was thrilled to find this style (and even more thrilled to bring it home for $6.)

So, a little bling, but not full-out Prom Night '99, right? (Anyone remember "Y2K" and thinking the world was ending? These zombie apocalypse nuts think they're original, but please... we were stockpiling water 14 years ago. Get with the times.)


P.S. Linked up with Lindsey!

I Can't Stop...

I Can't Stop...

I got home Saturday night and I still need to blog about the rest of our vacation, but for now I'll share a few favorites/habits/life happenings lately. Enjoy... meanwhile, I'll be sifting through the bajillion pictures (mostly blurry shots of Leslie and Steven mixed with the dozens of perfectly posed photos of Emily, who is more than willing to smile for the camera.) 

I can't stop...

...reading this book.

It's the third one I've read by this author and I absolutely love it. Cried like a baby, and I'm rereading it. Definitely a great choice.

...eating these chips. 

Seriously, they look disgusting and I am not a fan of creative chip flavors (the waffles and chicken? gag) but I tried them while I was home and I'm addicted. Yum.

...listening to this song. 

I'm sure there are lots of others songs by the Carpenters that I've never heard, but I'm still surprised when I come across a new one. My dad discovered it and I downloaded and it's been on repeat since. Also, Karen Carpenter sang "Desperado" which I first heard by Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder and her version is amazing too. (Obviously, she's my singing idol... hair idol, not so much.) 

...stressing about the writing project I'm working on (no mystery here... it's another Christmas play). I know it's for a good cause/reason and I shouldn't worry so much but nothing will make you insecure that a whole bunch of people are not just going to read something you wrote but get up and perform it and find it somewhat moving/inspiring/helpful. No pressure or anything. *Heaving sigh* Oh well, soon I'll be finished with it and the angels and heaven and Ashley shall rejoice.

...loving these flats from Belk
My mom bought them for me (ah, being the only child out of town has its perks) and I have already worn them a couple times and they're sooo comfortable. I should be saving them for school but they're so cute. Plus they remind me of something Audrey (Tom, not Hepburn, although... maybe) would wear and I can't go wrong there.

...thinking about Cory Monteith's death. I have never watched Glee but I have heard him sing and it's so sad to see such a talented young man lose his life in such a senseless, tragic way. =( 

...missing these gooberheads.

 (not pictured is Landon, who will probably receive his own post of pictures because he is pure baby goodness. Seriously... cheeks for days.)

So, that's what I'm up to. As I settle back into my routine I'll try to get around to some posts I've had up my sleeve. (And by my routine I mean sleeping in and avoiding the thought of school starting in "Noooo...." screamed all the teachers.) Happy (late night!) Monday, dears!


My Two Cents...

My Two Cents...

As you may know, I have a certain knack for finding a good deal. Let's be honest... it's a God-given talent and, given the biblical parable regarding such things, I hate to waste a gift, spiritual or otherwise. I've found some pretty awesome steals on clearance racks, in bargain bins, inside the "final sale" sections... and I wouldn't brag about just any gift, but this one usually has me rambling on to anyone who will listen about my latest bargain. You know, if you ask about my outfit, you'll either get the short answer ("thanks!") or the long answer ("thanks, I just got this skirt at Target for five bucks... you should get one because they have a bunch of colors... let's go Thursday!"). And while many people applaud my ability, more often than not I get "I hate you! I never find stuff that cheap!" Well, considering my absolute cheapy-ness and the fact that I frequent Target and other stores just looking for deals, sometimes it's just a natural thing.

Other times, miracles happen. 

This past Friday, I went shopping with my bff Sara (as is tradition) and we ventured into Francesca's. Now, Francesca's is one of those stores that I really love but never buy anything from simply because I'm cheap and it's always just a leeetle more than I want to pay. But I spotted a clearance table with the game-changing words, "Additional 50% off." I thought, hey, I could get behind that... so the digging began and I found quite a few lovely items. As my pile grew higher, my husband's eyes grew wider, but never fear, Jonathan dear. I narrowed it down to just a few items (maybe three?) and went up to the register. The girl rang up the first necklace (maybe six bucks?) and a pair of earrings that I think were marked down to maybe four dollars. Then she picked up the other necklace and scanned it and then spoke these magical words...

"Um, this is ringing up for a penny." 

Vhaaaat? Yeah, I heard that (and so did you) correctly... she even checked again. And again. AND asked another employee (here I began to shudder, lest someone pull a "well, it could be...." card. No... it's a penny!) She even started to say, "Well, I guess we could enter the price on the tag," to which I quickly interjected with, "Yes, but then you wouldn't be my new best friend anymore." So she didn't and she is (my new best friend.) The funny thing is that the necklace wasn't even one I would typically pick out.. but I just bought a black maxi dress and wanted something colorful and different to wear with it. 

And, to go all late-night infomercial on you: BUT WAIT; THERE'S MORE! 

This all happened on Friday. Last night (Monday? It's summer... don't ask me the day of the week, let alone the date) April and Jake and I loaded up the kids (remember?) and somehow I ended up back in Francesca's. And lo and behold on the same little clearance table was a necklace I had spotted and pointed out to Jonathan months ago... and here it was. Marked down and ready to be purchased. Boo-ya. However, noticing that it didn't seem to have a price tag, I handed it to the girl at the counter and asked for a price check. 

(Can you guess what is about to happen? You super sleuth... Nancy Drew has nothing on you.)

It was a PENNY. AGAIN. I can't explain it... I can only tell you that I was completely dumbfounded and thrilled and may have done an embarrassing happy dance around the store. Two necklaces, two pennies. PENNIES! TWO CENTS!

After the first penny necklace experience. We were stoked (the measure of a good friend is how thrilled they are over your good fortune. This one's a keeper.)

How funky and boho is this? Perhaps I shall wear it with a flowy skirt and braids and run barefoot through a meadow... or you know, with wedges to church. Because I'm hip that way. (It actually lays in a more laid-back and not so rainbow-y way when you put it on, but I just love all the colors fanned out.)

I've already worn one of them!

...and snagged a mirror shot with this adorable shopping buddy.

Two cents. TWO. TWO CENTS. I can't say it enough.

Who says a penny won't buy you anything these days? I beg to differ. (Francesca's, if you're reading this, thanks and I apologize for sort of ripping you off. But not really.)


P.S. Linked up with Lindsey!

P.S.S. This is my 200th post! Crazy!

Brave Souls, Parents...

Brave Souls, Parents...

This post is partly a shout-out to myself for being a fun auntie. It is, in greater part, a HUGE shout-out to all parents everywhere who are able to take their children out in public without absolutely losing their minds.

We got to my parents' around suppertime on Thursday and, as always, I was in full-on crazy aunt mode from the minute we arrived. This includes tickling, wrestling, carrying, reading, kissing, hugging, and general frivolity at all times. Unfortunately for my nieces and nephews, though, I am not really the "oh it's okay if you're being terrible... Auntie Ashley loves you!" type of aunt. (And they're not terrible!) I guess it's the teacher in me, but I can play bad cop with the best of them. On top of that, I'm not at all laid-back with things being out of place, or ear-splitting excessive noise, or boisterous behavior in public places. You can imagine, then, how outings with a four-year-old and two two-year-olds make me break out hives. (I'm only slightly exaggerating.)

Costco with baby Steven.... he is such a sweet boy! And it's so fun that he is really talking now and able to say, "Auntie Ashley" rather than "Aaaaahhh" (his former pronunciation of my name.) 

The kid is two years old and can whistle. I find this hilariously clever.

Jolly man.

Kisses and hugs for everyone! (Also, Emily has become, like, a teenager overnight. I am elderly.)

Seeing Landon (finally) on Sunday night! This boy is huge!

Jonathan was meeting Landon for the first time (at five months!) and they were inseparable. (Also, watching my husband get all mushy over a baby is nothing short of adorable.)

Always ready with a pose...

Leslie does the most hilarious laugh that sounds like Woody the Woodpecker. If I can pin her down and capture it on video I'll totally post it. 

Ice cream trip to Chick-fil-A... where my (apparently dormant) state of OCD kicked in as drooly spoons and sticky hands and dirty feet sent me into panic mode. (Also, I love that Emily takes great pride in being the most mature one of the group.)

Sweet girl.

Excited about ice cream!
These kids are sweet, adorable, hilarious... and such a handful! (And they're not even "bad" kids!) Seriously, my hat (probably a fedora) is off to all you moms and dads who take your kids out in public and deal with the humiliation of another child pointing at your child as the one who hit him (ahem, Leslie) or apologizing to the nice lady in the next booth because her hair is being ripped out of her head (ahem, Steven) or peeling the big sister off the little brother, beating him up in the name of "kung fu" (AHEM, Emily). Only Landon is exempt from this angst, and he's just a baby. =) 

Oh, well... stress or not, there is nothing better than loving on these babies (and having them love on me!). And if holding Landon gives me baby fever, nothing brings that temperature back down to normal like a good rousing screaming match with the other three. =) 

Off I go... it's time to be a human jungle gym. I can't say that I mind.