Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's official!

After three weeks of stress, tears, excitment and confusion - I'm super excited to say that Chad and I are building a new house!!!

The condensed version of a ridiculously long story is that we found a gorgeous house in Sunset Oaks - a beautiful neighborhood in Holly Springs. (Yeah you know it: "I'm going going, back back, to Holly Holly... think Notorious B.I.G) We walked in one particular house and fell instantly in love with it - the design, the layout, the fixtures... you name it, we loved it.

We looked at a few other homes - in that neighborhood and in other neighborhoods - but none held a candle to that one house.

The problem is someone else fell in love with that same house too. And without throwing out phrases like closing contingencies and sales addendum contracts - suffice it to say we thought we'd got the house, then lost it, then got it back, then lost it again, then got another shot, and then lost it again.

During the getting and losing, I cried. A lot. I could not figure out why God would keep putting this house back on the table so many times - making us feel like God was behind this decision - and then taking it away. It's only now in retrospect I can see that maybe instead of God being the one to put the house back on the table - and it being His will for us to have that house - He was the one that kept letting it slip through our fingers.

I was just seeing it backward.

So after the final "We've lost this house... let's remove our offer and start over," we were back on the hunt. We looked at a few other houses that we liked, but didn't love at first, to see if they were worth considering again. All the while, both of us having a hard time letting go of that one house. So our Realtor (who I love and adore and if you're EVER looking to buy in the Triangle please use her) decided to talk to a few builders to see if they could build us that same house in the same neighborhood.

And who would have guessed but that exact same builder -DJF Builders - who built our original "dream" house said that he'd be happy to build another one. In fact, he had seven lots we could choose from in Sunset Oaks! So we went and picked out a wonderful, flat, corner lot that is actually bigger than the original house we fought for. And here's the kicker, we're getting the EXACT same house, all the same upgrades, a bigger lot, and brand new - for even a little LESS than we were offering for the other home.

And since it's a custom home, we get to pick every little part of the home - from start to finish. From the color of the shutters outside to the stain of the beams in the master bedroom. Every hinge and handle - we get to choose. This house will be completely OURS. I'm loving the thought of this now - but have a feeling all the decisions might stress me out in the near future.

For this I have you, my blog friends. Over the next several weeks, I will start a poll to get your input over major housing decisions. Whether it is what style interior door we choose, the type of wainscoating, or the color of granite. I want your input. And Chad and I will film the building process and upload videos to the blog so you can see the progress! The house will take between 4 and 6 months to build... so patience will be key.

And speaking of patience, thanks for being patient with me over the past few weeks, when blogging was scarce. Happy to be back at it!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gross.

I should have taken the hint when right on the box it said, "Improved flavor!"

This is what beckoned me to buy a Healthy Choice General Tso's Chicken Steamer. Maybe I was craving a little Asian-flavor. Next time, I'm making this instead.

Anyway, it was absolutely disgusting. If that was improved flavor, I would rather be shot than eat the original.

Per usual, I don't really eat the meat in my frozen dinners... which is fine by me. If I take a bite of the meat and it tastes okay, sometimes I'll pick at it during the meal. Usually, I just eat the sides. However, this entire dish was so vile, I took two bites and tossed it in the trash.

I should ask for a refund.


So if you see this in the g-store...

...run far, far away.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

Oh baby - I don't know how I'll get through typing this recipe out without my mouth watering.

This is one of my favorite dishes to make - and one of Chad's favorite to eat. We went through a period where we ate it at least once a week - for several weeks. I put it on the back-burner (pun intended) for awhile so we didn't get sick of it. I made it again last week for the first time in a few months and Chad and I both marveled why we haven't eaten it in so long.

It is that good. And is super-fancy. People will be impressed with this dish.

So here you go. Spinach and feta stuffed chicken. BTW - I'm doing this from memory, so my portions might be a bit off. Then again, I never measure anything and I cook for two. So use your brain and figure out your portion size. I can't baby you all the time. Cooking is an adventure!

Warning: This recipe is not for the novice cook. But it's well worth the time and effort.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:
Boneless, skinless chicken breast (thin if possible)
Fresh baby spinach
Crumbled feta
Garlic
Mushrooms
1 lemon
White wine
1 egg
Italian breadcrumbs
Chicken stock
Cornstarch/flour
Salt+Pep
Butter
Olive oil
Toothpicks or cooking string

Let's Get Started:
1. Pre-heat your oven to 375deg.

2. Either buy pre-thin sliced chicken breasts, or make them yourself by ---> butterflying your chicken and then pounding it thin. Or else if you have a lot of aggression to get out, you can just really pound it out thin. You just want it to be as thin and even as possible, without puncturing holes through it. Make your husband pound the chicken - I do! Perfect man job. Sprinkle both sides with s+p.

3. In a large pan, saute your spinach (for three chicken breasts, I usually use half of an average-sized bag of spinach) in a little bit of olive oil and a few cloves of minced garlic. Saute until wilted then remove from heat. (Don't wash pan.)

4. Take your flat chicken breasts and put on a thin layer of the sauteed spinach/garlic and feta cheese. Then roll the chicken up and secure it with toothpicks or cooking string to hold all the goodness inside.

5. Add a little more olive oil to the pan where you had sauteed spinach. Bring it to med-high heat. Add a little butter too if you want. Adds a bit of a nutty taste.

6. While your oil is getting hot, get out two plates - one for eggwash (sheesh people, just beat and egg and put it on a plate) and one for Italian breadcrumbs. Dip your rolled chicken breasts into the eggwash, shake of excess egg, and then roll in breadcrumbs. Get it nice and covered.

7. Place your chicken into pan with the hot oil. Just brown the chicken on each side (rotating it) until the breadcrumbs are nice and brown. You don't want to completely cook the chicken through - b/c you'll be baking it. So if the inside still looks a little pink - don't fret. You just want the breadcrumbs to be nice and crispy before baking.

8. After browned, remove your chicken into a casserole dish. Again, don't wash your pan.

9. Use that same skillet, add a couple tablespoons more butter, and sautee your fresh mushrooms. I usually use 3/4ths a package. We like mushrooms. After your mushrooms are nice and brown, add in about 3/4 cup of white wine. Let the alcohol cook out of it for a second. Then add about 3/4 cup of chicken stock, the juice from 1/2 a lemon (if it's really juicy - or a whole lemon if it's not). Then combine about a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour to a little bit of warm water and wisk together until combined. Add that to the pan - it's just going to thicken up the sauce.
If it still looks too runny, add a bit more of the cornstartch mixture. This is about the portion I use for 3 chicken breasts - use more or less depending on your size. I personally like a lot of the sauce.

10. Take that yummy sauce + mushrooms and pour it in your casserole dish over your rolled chicken. Throw it in the oven with tinfoil on top and bake for 25 mins. Take the foil off, then bake for another 15 minutes.

11. Remove toothpicks/string and serve!

Make sure to spoon extra sauce and mushrooms on your plate. Serve it with a side of steamed asparagus topped with a little bit of butter and lemon zest. People will worship you.

Truth

My mom shared with our girl's Bible study last night that her and my dad recently celebrated the 35th anniversary of their very first date.

She also shared their conversation surrounding this historic event.

Mom: "Did you know we just passed the 35th anniversary of our first date?"
Dad: "Wow."
Mom: "I don't even look 35!"
Dad: "I don't even act 35!!!"

Truth.

Hope these kids share many more dates over the years to come!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Updates

Hi y'all - thanks for being patient with me over the last couple of weeks. There has been a lot of things going on for me personally, which has kept me very distracted.

There are still some other details being work out, but I do have a bit of good news! Last night, Chad and I accepted a offer for the sale of our townhome. This has been a huge blessing for us... and we are so grateful we were able to sell our home in only a few short months, despite the bad housing market. We are set to close on Oct. 28th - so I'm praying everything works out in terms of appraisals and inspections.

Buying a house has been another story. Since I don't even know what is going on at this point, I don't want to go into a lot of detail. But I will share that at the beginning of this process, I prayed that God would have His will be done in where we end up moving, and that the end result will be so apparent that His hands were all over this move.

So far, that seems to be exactly what He's doing. It doesn't mean it hasn't been stressful - and heartbreaking - at times. But Chad and I both have faith that we'll end up where we're meant to... but God is definitely making us work for it!

Will keep you posted, but thanks for keeping with me. I promise once this is all settled, I'll be back blogging about all sorts of current events, sharing more yummy recipes, and allowing you to have a good laugh - and usually at the expense of myself and my husband.

Friday, September 18, 2009

I have the need to come clean...

As a semi-food snob, there are two items that I absolutely adore... and am kinda embarrassed to admit to it.

They are silly things, really.

I'm sure tons of people eat them, and enjoy them. But they don't love them with the same intensity as I do.

For this, I am ashamed.

Item #1:
The good ole' grocery store sheet cake. My favorites -the ones from BJ's or Harris Teeter. Yellow cake with white icing. Lots of flowers. And give me the corner piece with the extra icing. On this little treasure, I'd select the top left corner piece.

I've heard that having one "cake" person and one "icing" person in a r
elationship will make for lasting marriage. Unfortunately, both Chad and I like icing pieces. He usually gives in and gives me the bite with the most icing. Success! So maybe an "icing" person and a "willing to share their icing" person will make a lasting marriage.

Item #2:

Oh popcorn tin, oh popcorn tin...how lovely are thy kernels! Because for me Christmas is synonymous with popcorn tins, therefore it makes sense to turn it into a carol. Working in the corporate world, popcorn tins were a Christmastime staple. Everyone and their brother gave popcorn tins at work. Some people decided they were "too cool" for popcorn tins (elitists!!!) and instead would send baskets with teas, chocolate, nuts and other treats. Keep your dang World Market Basket. Give homegirl some popcorn!

I like to start with the cheddar. Because cheddar makes everything better. Then I'd go carmel. I'd take a few bites of butter and then leave the rest for the poor shmuck who came to the tin late when the cheddar and carmel corn were already gone. Suckaaaaaas!

So if you ever decide you love me and want to express your sentiments to me via a popcorn tin, please select a 2-cheddar + 1-carmel tin. Or just all cheddar. And if you want to buy me a sheet cake -request extra icing.

Sigh.

Okay - there you have it. I like sheet cakes and popcorn tins. I feel better to have that out in the open. There are no lies on this blog.

Enjoy your weekend folks! Me and the husband are about to go make an offer on our dream house. Send up some prayers, rub Buddha's stomach, cross your fingers or do whatever you think will bring us some luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A reflection on 26 great years

Another year older, another year wiser? Happier? More complete? More wrinkled? What?

I've given some thought to things I've done and learned over the past 26 years. Here are
26 - original, I know - of them:

26. Celebrated great successes.

25. Learned from big failures.

24. Learned to share - first, the crayons; later, the credit.


23.
Laughed about how the people most vocal about "hating drama" frequently bring it upon themselves.

22. Realized the greatest pride is not something you feel for yourself - but a feeling you have toward others.

21. Had more fun on rainy days with nothing to do than on expensive vacations packed with activities.

20. Learned humility and grace - and sometimes, learned it the hard way.

19. Worked at something really hard, and failed. But damn if I wasn't prou
d of myself for trying.

18. Made several friends I have a great time with, and a select few I can pour my heart out to.

17. Learned to be thankful for both.

16. Realized that if you're not looking, you might miss out on a blessing.

15. Learned that honesty really IS really the best policy.

14.
Laughed so hard I cried.

13. Cried so hard I had to laugh.

12. Accepted that the people you love most will still sometimes let you down. And maybe that is not a coincidence.

11. Decided that even if being kind and believing in the goodness of people means getting taken advantage of every now and then, I'd still rather be kind and believe in the goodness of people.

10. Learned that when you hold a grudge against someone, it really only hurts you.

9. Realized you can learn a lot about a person by how they treat their mama,
waiter, worst enemy and a person they pass on the street.

8. Fell in "love."

7. Fell out of "love."

6. Learned what love really is.

5. Said, "I do," and meant it.

4. Realized the importance of family.


3. Let go of control. Let go of control. Let go of control. Okay, still learning how to let go of control.

2. Discovered that the life I pictured for myself and the life God gave me are so very different. And am so glad God did it His way.

1. Learned to love myself for who I am.


Life is beautiful. Glad I get to do it another year.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Heyyyyyuevos Rancheros

Tuesday nights are always tricky for me. Chad and I have about 30 minutes to get home, change, make + eat dinner and then head out the door to small group. This time crunch usually lends itself to quick meals. A bowl of cereal for me, a hot dog for Chad, whatever.

But I have a super-easy, yummy, low fat, filling meal that I'll be making for dinner tonight.

Say hello to my Heeeyyyyyyuevos Rancheros! All you need is:


Eggs
Milk
Sharp Cheddar
Black Beans

Salsa Verde
Lime
Cilantro
Cumin
Flour tortilla
Sour cream - optional
Avocado - optional (personally I look for meals in which I can incorporate avocado... it is a gift from God)

Here's what I do - but by all means, go crazy and play around with it.

1. Take a can of black beans and drain most of the liquid out. But leave a little and don't rinse them. I personally like my beans to be a bit soupy. Put them in a saucepan with lots of fresh cilantro and a healthy squeeze of lime. Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Let
them warm up and get all delish. I often try to smash mine a bit with the back of a spoon to make it a little more soupy. But hey - I'm a professional.

2. While be
ans are cooking, scramble yourself up a couple eggs. Want to reduce some calories? Use 1 yolk per 2 egg whites. Or make it entirely of egg whites. I personally like a bit of yolk though. Eggs are supposed to be yellow. I do NOT like dry scrambled eggs, so I pull mine off the heat right once they start really sticking together. If you for some odd reason have never scrambled eggs before (do people like this exist?!), just beat your eggs with a little milk/half+half/cream/sour cream (whatever you got), cheese (whatever cheese tickles your fancy - chedda', feta, whateva) and salt and pepper. Chad usually likes to help cook 'breakfast for dinner' meals so he usually makes my eggs for me. You can also use a fried egg for this recipe - like I said, you can't go wrong!

3. While your eggs and beans are going, throw a couple flour tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to warm th
em up. There are tons of different types of tortillas in the grocery store now - sun-dried tomato, spinach, etc. Pick out one that sounds appealing to you.

4. Asse
mble it baby! Take your warm tortilla and make your own personal egg taco! Add a bit of eggs, some yummy black beans, and whatever topping your little heart desires. I highly recommend you buy this:


Pace Salsa Verde. I'm not normally a fan of pre-made salsa (its so easy to make yourself), but this little gem is delish - especially on my Heyyyuevos Rancheros. You can also add some extra cheese, sour cream, cilantro, tomato and sliced avocado. Or make your own gaucamole! If you've never made gauc before - you have issues like the people that have never scrambled an egg. Just cut up some avocado, a little red onion, a little fresh tomato, lots of fresh cilantro, salt, paper, lots of fresh lime juice and a dash of hot sauce. Voila!

So this is a great recipe because you can make it lo-cal for yourself while your hubby (who can eat like 4 slices of your mom's pumpkin bourban cheesecake in 2 days without gaining a pound when you can't even eat one without having extereme feelings of guilt...not that I'm bitter or anything) can load his up with whatever suits him. I'll enjoy my beans, eggs, tortilla and salsa and let him go nuts on the cheese and sour cream.

So there. Go forth and make huevos rancheros. May the egg gods be with you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

So busy!

I apologize for what may be a slow week in blogging world. I'm slammed at work and at home. All exciting stuff - but definitely busy, busy, busy!

Don't.hate.me. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

You're so... romantical

I sometimes get paranoid that I blog about Chad too much and that y'all will stop reading. But then I thought it through and:

1) My posts about Chad/marriage are always my 'top read' posts.
2) Although Chad always sighs loudly when he sees I write posts about him, he secretly is pleased and smiles when reading them.
3) I spend more time with him than any other human being - so TOO BAD. He's involved in most of my stories. We're a packaged pair.

So anyways. I wanted to share that I got TWO compliments from Chad this week. One being: "You have really hot legs." And hot as in good lookin' - not hot as in I just finished working out with a bright red face and a body that is radiating steam...score!

The second one took a bit more prodding. I was wearing one of my new cute outfits yesterday. Even a couple people I work with told me I looked good. So I walk in the door - expecting Chad to fawn all over me. Unfortunately - the first NFL game was starting that night so he was focused on submitting fantasy football line-ups. He does come and give me a kiss. I've told you all that I don't wait for compliments - especially from men. If I want one, I'll ask. So I asked Chad, "Do you like my outfit?"

Then he finally gives me the reaction I wanted: "Yes! You look beautiful. I thought that the minute you walked in. You look really skinny."

Score! Beautiful + Skinny. We women don't hope for much more.

And calm down... I'm not getting all full of myself over here. Let's face it - I forced him into a compliment. What else could he say? But he gave me enough descriptives to satisfy my ego.

In all honesty, I love my man exactly how he is. But Chad is no Rico Sauve. This is the guy that thinks bringing me home a plastic pot of mums (this has been done before... a couple times) is akin to a bouquet of two dozen roses. I'm pretty sure there won't be a day when I come home from work to find dinner on the table, candles lit, soft music playing, and a bubble bath and champagne waiting for me. When we were dating, he didn't keep track of "dating anniversaries." It's just not who he is. I know if he thought doing those things were important to me - he'd find a way to do it.

Honestly? It is fine with me.
I like potted plant Chad. Because while he might not be all romancin' me at home - I also know he's not out romancin' another woman. I think flirting+compliments+romance take effort for Chad... and if the man is going to exert the effort, I'm pretty sure it will be on me.

So the question is, do I not think Chad is romantic? No! I think he is very romantic... just not in your typical way. I think it's romantic that he goes and fills up my tank on Sundays so I don't need to worry about it that week. I think it's romantic that when I felt like death last Friday, he ran out to buy me Chicken soup, made me about four cups of hot mint tea, and laid in bed watching movies on Bravo with me so I wouldn't be lonely. I think it's romantic that even though I know Friday is his day to play golf, he'll ask me every week if it is okay with me.

It's all about the little things. So single ladies - when you're looking for a man, don't get hung up over whether he buys you flowers, remembers that you've been dating for 4 months and 3 days or tells you he thinks of you every time he hears a sappy love song.

You can find romance in anything.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

When parents meet technology...

This was too good not to blog about.

I'll preface this by saying that my Mama would never care to use any sort of technology - unless it means she can talk to her kids more. For this reason, she's been using gchat since I have - about three years. I think she also knows the bear minimum of texting - whereas she can read our texts to her, but I'm pretty sure doesn't text back.

My daddy on the other hand - despite being in technology sales his whole life - is a technophobe. He frequently jokes that he wants to join "Facespace" - mostly to bother my baby bro Kevin... who is terrified that my dad would make all sorts of embarassing comments on his wall. Which he totally would. I mean what's a father for if not to terrorize their children?

When Kevie went off to college, my dad learned to text message (a fact I only know second hand... since the only person he texted was Kev). Kev said dad would text him like paragraph-long emails that included "Dear" and "Love, Dad." I think the novelty of texting wore off... and now if he wants to harass Kevin, he'll just pick up the phone and do it verbally like normal people.

A few weeks ago my dad opened a gmail account so he could keep his Fantasy Football emails seperate from his work account. So today, I see his little green light pop up on my gchat window. And I couldn't resist:

me: hi daddy
me: don't be scared of the gchat... just type in this little box
Edward: hey dee ..I AM G-Chatting!!
me: haha! you are so in with the times
Edward: I was responding to your email - or should I g-chat instead?
(NOTE: I love that he used the dash in g-chat. So proper.)
me: you can gchat me - that way it can be more of a convo
--several chats go back and forth as we discuss Fantasy Football strategies---
Edward: alright gotta go. later dee...love you!
me: thanks dad. love you
---couple seconds pass... I'm assuming he's about to get off and then:--
Edward:
how do I g-chat with mom?

Haha! He thinks you can only gchat with one person at the same time - -like a phone. Amateurs!

I gave him instructions that he can only gchat mom when she has a little green light next to her name. He seemed so excited to show off his gchatting to my mom that I about called her work phone and told her to get online.

I've probably created a monster. I have a feeling my dad will be getting on numerous times throughout the day to talk football with me. So if you're on gmail and my dad has you on his email list - but forewarned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My husband the fashionista

I went to the mall three days in a row this weekend. Ugly - I know. I do love clothes and shopping... but I pride myself on being very decisive. I know what I like, and often have an idea of exactly what I'm looking for... which is a blessing for Chad (and the only reason he doesn't mind going shopping with me). Chad, you're welcome.

Chad is certainly not one that stays up with men's fashion - the man wears a pair of khakis (of various colors) and a polo or button-down shirt (of various colors) every day of his life. Oh, to be a man...

However, he surprises me sometimes with his knowledge of trends in female fashion. For instance, last Christmas he bought me a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses. I have never mentioned the designer to him before - and certainly never picked out a pair. He let me know that it was the new "it" sunglasses (surely a line he received from an all-too-helpful saleswoman at the Nordstrom
counter).

Well as we were meandering through Nordy's (oh how I heart you) this weekend, we stopped by the shoes department. Chad asked, "Hey - how about you try on a pair of those chocolate coin shoes." I hope some of you are smiling because you know exactly what he's talking abo
ut.

Me: "What shoes?!"

Chad: "You know - the ones that look like they have a chocolate coin on the top."

Me: "Tory Burch?!!?"

Chad: "Yeah!"

Well shucks honey, if you insist, I think I WILL try on a pair of Tory Burch flats. Please and thank you.


So he might not know the names, but he knows the look... kinda. Now that's a good man.


Like the ceremonial changing of the guard...

...but not. Just the changing of the nail polish.

So long sweet summer:


Hellloooooo fabulous fall:

With a pair of pressed mocha colored slacks and a forest green cashmere top - I feel awesomely autumn today. Welcome back from Labor Day Weekend folks - hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I only have pretty little thoughts for one thing today...

NC STATE WOLFPACK FOOTBALL!


Tonight is the kickoff for college football. ESPN knows what's good for them and is broadcasting the NC State v. University of South Carolina game. It's going to be a good one. Chad and I will be there cheering loud! GO PACK.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Daddy's Girl

My dad has been on a rampage with calling me lately... and always at work when I'm super busy. I think he realizes that he's doing it too so he tries to make excuses about why he needed to call.

For instance on Monday (when it rained all day), I get a call:

Dad: "Sweet D! (my nickname - that's for a wholeeee other blog) How ya doing baby? Just wanted to let you know that it's been raining today so the roads might be a little slick. Just be careful out there!"

I have 10+ years driving experience... but he just had to let me know that wet roads = slick roads.

I think he's really calling because he wants to chat about fantasy football but doesn't want it to be that obviously that FF is the only reason he's calling. So he peppers the conversation with other random comments.

My dad is a fantasy football fanatic. Take someone you know that loves FF and multiply it by five. He literally spends hours every day researching and studying up on different teams and players. It got so bad last year that he promised my mom that he would not be in a league this year so he could spend time with her and my little sis SK, since it is her senior year and she'll be heading off to college next fall.

Needless to say, he has spent just as much time this year studying up and looking at the league's website, despite not having his own team - he is just living vicariously through others... like me.

I joined my dad's fantasy football league two years ago - after much convincing by him and Chad. I finally conceded, figuring since I have to hear them talk about it incessantly, I might as well partake so I have even a moderate amount of interest in the conversation.

When I agreed to join, my dad actually told me (and no I'm not making this up or exaggerating): "Oh honey. I've never been so proud of you in all my life."

Oh really? Of all my accomplishments - being named "Good Samaritan" of the school in kindergarten, winning the role of Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" in elementary school, graduating with a 4.3 GPA in HS and getting into a great univeristy, graduating college with honors and getting a great job right out of school, marrying a wonderful man, etc. - joining a FANTASY FOOTBALL league is what he is most proud of.

Sigh.

PS: He just called me again right in the middle of writing this blog. Just to tell me I had a "great response" to rejecting the same ridiculous trade I rejected yesterday (the culprit knows who he is).

Oh daddy... I do love you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I actually get these calls...

I've explained before the random e-mails (and calls) I get at my office. Here is a fun one for today:

**Ring, ring*** (phone)

Me: "News Services, this is Caroline."

Woman with a super strong Southern accent (to the point it's hard to understand): "Um yes. Is this NC State?"

Me: "Yes ma'am, this is the News Services office, how can I help you?"

Woman: "Can you send me some information about saawineee (spelling to emphasize the drawl she used when saying it)?"

Me: "Information about what?"

Woman: "Saaawinee?"

Me: "Swine?"

Woman: "Yeah... you know... pigs."

Me: "Yes ma'am, I do know that. Um, what is this in relation to?"

Woman: "I just need information about swine."

Me: "Well ma'am, this is the news office. I handle media inquires, so I'm not too sure what sort of information you need."

Woman: "That's okay, nevermind."

Me: "You sure?"

Woman: "It's okay. Thank you."

Dial tone.

I sure hope this woman got her saaawinee questions answered!

Back to School!

Morning traffic is heavy, notebooks and bookbags are prominently displayed in stores, kids are walking around moping, and parents have big smiles on their faces. It can only mean one thing. BACK TO SCHOOL.

I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment and thank all the teachers out there to their dedication to their challenging - and often thankless- profession.

I found a great prayer on the LPM blog that took the words right out of my mouth! If you feel so led, please pray this prayer over all the teachers and students heading back to school this year:

Lord, thank You for the men and women who dedicate their lives to educating children. I ask You to bless them with strength, joy, favor with students and parents, and a strong sense of purpose. Make them fruitful in every way. Give them wisdom, creativity, patience, insight, and endurance. Give them Your supernatural love for each student, so much so that those kids go home each day with a keen sense of being loved by You. Use these teachers to make an eternal difference in the lives of their students. I pray that their families will have an easy and peaceful transition into the school year.

I also pray for all of our students, particularly those who are entering new schools this year. Father, please give them courage, peace, and joy. Let them make friends easily and connect well with their teachers. Let them find their security in You, Lord. Please sharpen their minds and help them learn. Build godly character in them. Use our Christ-following sons and daughters to draw others to You. Help them let go of what others think and to love the unlovely. Help them obey You even when it's really hard. Father, for our sons and daughters who have not yet made decisions to follow You, let this be the year. Let them see their need of You and surrender their precious lives to You.

Thank You in advance for the work You're going to do in our teachers and students' lives this year, Lord. I pray all of these things in the strong and mighty name of Jesus. Amen!


And here is a challenge for you: if you know a teacher in your life, tell them you'd like to spend $20 (or any amount that is appropriate for your financial situation) to get supplies that could assist them in the classroom this year. Teachers have been handed a tough burden right now - state governments across the country are in debt and are slashing the already small budgets teachers have to prepare their classroom for the year. On top of that, many families are barely making ends meet without having the additional burden of providing back-to-school supplies. You might be surprised how a relatively small contribution you make could really make a big difference to a student.

Case in point, at our church Chad and I volunteered to be a "bookbag buddy" to provide a child with all the school supplies they would need for back to school. I think we spent less than $30 and were able to get: a bookbag, notebooks, looseleaf paper, glue sticks, magic markers, colored pencils, #2 pencils, scissors, pencil box, kleenex, ziploc storage bags + sandwich bags, among other items I cannot remember. For ONLY $30!!! It was almost a challenge to see how much stuff we could get. At places like TJ Maxx, Big Lots, Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store you can get a lot of quality stuff for a real bargain!

So take the $20 challenge - and report back with what great items you were able to get!

And thank you, thank you, thank you for all you great teachers! Especially a favorite new teacher of mine... miss MJK. :)