Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sad day in Spanish 3rd Even

One of my favorite students left me. Yep up and left me to move to where? LOUISIANA. I'm trying not to be a hater but an appreciater, but it's not working at the moment. Carlos was the type of student who was always suspended, but somehow we connected. He had a B in my class which was probably the only B he's ever had. He truly was my favorite and the other students knew it. But it was different with him. I caught him cheating twice. He flat out was staring at another student's test. I'm like, "Dude! Hello...I see you. Fail with dignity." Then Carlos said, "Well I would if I knew what it was!"

That's when we bonded. He was spunky and could put up with my sarcastic comments because he knew I loved him. I love all of my students, but I have a yearning for Carlos to succeed more so than some of my others. I have faith that many of my kids will get into colleges and have successful jobs, but some of them like Carlos need the assurance from parents and teachers. I'm not sure he was getting that at home or at school.

I'm typing this, boo hooing (and listening to Irish music), and I think it's because I'm scared for him. I want him to be in my environment because I know that I would smother him with encouragement. I hope to goodness he gets it because he wants to do well. Why do the good ones always get plucked from me?? Tell me why baby why baby why baby why? I mean ya'll. Who's going to tell me that I sing "brutaful"? Bless that child. Pray for him that he will grow wherever in Louisiana they move. I've never been more attached to a class in such emotional ways. They are so special to me. Maybe this Irish music is making me extra weepy. You know...I love Irish music. I L.O.V.E. "Danny Boy". Classic Irish song for me...an Irish American :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Irish music and nuns are my interest right now

So I've always thought I was born into the wrong family. Don't get me wrong. I love my family...but I just wished they played the tin whistle and picked wildflowers in the meadow. Ya know? So I've always had an Irish fetish--music, movies, bands. Even my penpal, Donna Jean Dempsey, was from Dublin. We wrote for 8 years until college became too important for overseas friends. So as I sit here listening to Irish music and dreaming of green rolling hills and sheep and the island of Roan Inish, I have decided Ireland will be my next overseas venture. I shall see the family that really isn't mine, and I will talk to them using the few Irish Gaelic words I know.

I'm supposed to making a test out right now, but that's not going so well. I have big dreams of reading books over Christmas. I can't wait! My library is saying, "Read me you fool! You've been away tooooo long." Fear not, fair lass...I'm coming. So I was thinking the other day, "Wouldn't I be 10 times cooler if I could speak French?" My mind said, "Yes, your cool factor would boost and more people would stare at you strangely whilst you make fake telephone calls in French." So I decided, then and there, to learn French...wait for it...through song. YES! That's right. I got XM radio free over Thanksgiving weekend and the song, "Dominique" came on by the singing nun. It was a smashing hit in 1963. I downloaded it on ITunes and my French lessons started promptly. I love nuns. She's awesome. I felt like we would've been friends. Ya know on the swim team playing Marco Polo. She'd let me find her and win. That kind of nice, help you self-esteem friend.

I love me some Irish music. I've been planning out my wedding music for my wedding that will never happen. It's going to quite fabulous. I wish you were going to get to hear it.

A little family update: Tela is still pregnant! She'll be 33 weeks on Wednesday. She is still at Baptist in Little Rock. She's as cute as can be. No bigger than an ant hill, but we'll take what we can get. Those boys are feisty. I can't wait to meet them! As always, thank you so much for your continued prayers for Tela, Russell, and the twins as well as for the Jamison family. Thanksgiving wasn't the same without Poppa. I'm so thankful for my huge family to lean on. People say they don't think they could live that close to family. Well let me tell you something--you haven't been around mine. I couldn't live without them. It's times like these when those extra shoulders are needed. 

Love love love ya'll! Peace and blessings!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flashback to freshman year

Freshman year of college that is. With the whole booger picking/eating incident in my class yesterday, my memories began to flow--the memories about my freshman year suitemate. I have two words for you: pot luck. That should tell you everything you need to know about her. We didn't choose her AT ALL. Now let me set the record straight and say that Lindsey and I loved April, our other suitemate. She happened to go pot luck too. And well, let's just say it wasn't good for any of the parties involved.

This poor girl. Now don't start thinking that we bullied her. We didn't. We might have laughed at her on occasion, but please don't hold that against us. She was a special girl; she was addicted to the television. I mean that literally. She would go into a trance and wouldn't even blink her eyes. Lindsey and I would find her in our room when we'd walk in from class, crouched down watching the tv. We called our parents and complained, but no. They didn't believe us. She loved cafeteria take out. She loved it so much she would leave her take-out boxes in the room for several days causing a mighty stench and flies to circle around. I remember April bought fans and clipped dryer sheets to them to help combat the smell.

We dealt with all of this for months until finally we put a stop to it. Our parents still didn't believe we were living with a smelly tv addict. So we took matters into our own hands...or maybe I should say into our own camcorder. With this tv addiction came the trances. She would't know if there was a tornado outside because she's be so enthralled in the tv. So we decided to record her for our parents. We sat the camcorder directly on top of the tv and positioned it to where she always stood. She came in after a three hour conversation with her grandmother (in which she spoke in the third person about herself), and the trance began. She stayed for about 10 or so minutes then left. Mind you, this was around 2 in the morning. Lindsey and I watch the video and low and behold we see our suitemate pick her nose and eat her boogers not once but TWICE! She then proceeded to clean out her fingernails...with her teeth.

Grotesque. I know. I lived with that. But don't worry fair friends. When our parents saw the video, they realized we were living in a poor hygienic state. We found a new roommate for this poor girl, and we then became a suite of three. Then we all lived happily ever after.

And did I mention that on the second day of school when I was still terribly homesick she used my brand new washcloth that I'd received for graduation to wipe her fecal matter?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm back if only for a brief spell

Poppa, Granny, and me 2009
Stress is so underrated. My blood pressure is surprisingly low (102/60) for the month that I and my family have experienced. I know all families experience death and babies wanting to come out too soon, but it feels like we are going through this all by ourselves. October 13th we lost Poppa. I won't write a lot about that because it won't do him justice. I think he took one of my arteries with him because my heart is constantly hurting. It's times like these that make me want to move back to Jamison Road. I just want to be close to family...all of my family. And then my cousin Tela wanted to spice things up even more. Her twin boys are wanting to come out to play, but they are only 28 weeks. I'm going to be selfish and say that I am secretly glad she's here. I've missed her terribly, and we've gotten to spend lots of quality time together. For that I'm thankful. Now if we can just continue to keep those little toots in there!

Sometimes I wish I was on the TV show "Glee" so I could express myself in song without looking like a looney. I mean, I do express myself in song but with a price. My go-to girl has been Belgium singer/songwriter Agnes Obel. She's PHENOMENAL. I want her voice and her Princess Leia hairdo.
Agnes Obel and Harry Potter's owl, Hedwig (with a dye job).
I've read a couple of books. One was about a dog. I wanted to vomit because dogs are not on the top of my "I really love" list, but I pulled through. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is about life through a dog's life. It was pretty good--a very easy read.

Then there was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Ooh child, I LOVED this one! It's non-fiction but reads like a fiction. Berendt really draws you into each character and develops each perfectly. Now I need to watch the movie. I've become so enthralled in Jim Williams and the murder that I've done my own personal research project. I know...I'm quite the intellectual. It also makes me want to go to a cemetery. I used to do that in college. One of my favorites was off Moore Street in Searcy. It was so old and had so much history. I loved reading the epitaphs. It's just weird to think that I'm reading about an actual person that may have done exactly what I was doing at that moment--discovering a person.

School is fantastic. My kids are gifts to me. I cannot thank the Lord enough for giving them to me. No more nausea all day every day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Seven years ago today

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

"This is my first journal entry in my first diary ever! Yay! Audra and I ate at Mi Pueblito before Hart church. We asked the nice Backyard Burger man, Phil, to church. He didn't come but gave us his number so we cold call him next week. But we won't. We heard he exposed himself to some girls (supposedly) so I'll just not ask him.

After church, Audra and I went for a walk. Right in front of Harding Academy, we saw a naked man. Penis and all. He was standing by a tree. He was just standing there silent, not even moving. We couldn't see his face because he was standing where his face was in the shadows. After we realized what was happening, ya know, that a naked man and his parts were standing there, we ran to the nearest apartments and yelled for help. I've never out run Audra in all my life, but I sure did tonight. We turned around and saw the naked man streaking across the street, get in an unlicensed silver car and peeled out. We reported it to Harding security, Dean Huckeba and the Searcy Police (they laughed in our faces). Now isn't that the weirdest story ever?!"

Anyone remember that story?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Things on my mind at the EXACT moment in time

1.       I’ve eaten so badly this week. And I wonder why I can’t fit into my pants. I have no idea how chocolate sauce just magically appears in the bowl in my hand. No idea. The banana under the chocolate sauce counteracts the butter, sugar, and (get ready for it) skim milk heavy whipping cream. Whoa Sally. Whoa donut ring on my belly. How in the world did you get there?

2.       How I wish it would be light outside at 5:45 in the morning so I could go running. I did it for two weeks, but I have now stopped for two reasons. The first is my paranoia that someone will attack me because it’s dark and no one will know because I’m all by my lonesome. I wonder where that fear came from… The second is I am clumsy and sometimes trip. A girl in my book club fell running and fractured her elbow. I can just imagine myself walking back home, crying, with a bone hanging out of my arm.
3.       The dream I had last night that my gap in my front teeth had returned. What a nightmare.

4.       If I practiced Jainism, it would be kind of acceptable to walk around completely naked. Hhhhmmmm……………
5.   It's strange that I suddenly appeared on a new television series last night. I suddenly got popular today and received texts from everyone about how the girl on the new show "New Girl" is just like you. In fact, she is you.  No lie. So I watched it. And...I laughed. And...it's true. It felt like an out-of-body experience, except that I was in my body watching another body. Ya know?
Those are my thoughts. Sometimes folks, there are times when I think more than one thing. That's called mulitasking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer reads

So here's what I read over the summer:

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is AMAZING! This really opened my eyes to the problems in Africa. Yes, I know there are problems, but this book really sheds light on those situations there. It is very graphic in sections so prepare yourself for that. But hey...it's real and that's why you should read it. Read more about this book here.

I just found out there was a movie made from this book. Good to know. I read this while in Europe, and it took me a while...because I was in Europe. Who wants to read? It is an extremely quick read though and quite interesting. I learned so much about the Chinese culture. Read here for more info.

To be honest, I was not looking forward to reading this book for book club. I get the audio book from the library and was blown away. I thought this was a great piece of literature. And ya'll, I'm going to confess my ignorance--I thought Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the Wright brothers that invented airplanes. WRONG. He was an architect. Who knew...Anyway, this book tells of the love affair between Frank and Mamah. It was such a scandal in the early 1900s. If I'm being Frank with you (no pun intended), it would even be a huge scandal now. I loved picturing myself back then and reading about this in the papers. And the end was totally unexpected. Please don't read it first whatever you do. Read more about this book here.

If I had to choose a favorite, it was be this book. It's like reading the script of Gossip Girl--so deliciously good! It is about a prep school, but I recommend it for any age. It's a quick read because you can't put it down. Read more here. 

Ok, so I didn't read as many books as I wanted. I have a great excuse though: globtrotting :).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Confliction and a revelation

So, the first two days of school have come and gone, and the tears have been flowing. But they are not for reasons you think. I have such a fantastic group of kids and for that I count my blessings. This has been weighing heavy on me since school started yesterday. Sometimes students come in with the big head, and I can already tell what kind of students they are going to be. A girl came in with an attitude; played the right way we might get along. It was still too early to tell. We are going through the syllabus, I see some students getting sleepy so I begin to call on random students to read from the syllabus. I call on this one girl, the one with the 'tude, and she looked at me quizzically. I thought she wasn't paying attention so I directed her to the appropriate bullet on the syllabus. She reads the sentence, and we move on. A few minutes later, she raises her hand and asks, "Can I talk to you outside?" I said, "Sure thing. Is it something that needs to be discussed at this moment?" She said, "No, it can wait." She is very participatory in class and outspoken. Maybe I was wrong about her; maybe we will get along.

The bell rings. She is walking out so I yell to her to come back. I asked her what she needed to speak to me about, and she said (looking down to the floor), "Will you not call on me to read in class?" I asked why and she said, "The other kids make fun of me because I can't say some of the words." So I asked if she stuttered and then went on to explain that I used to stutter as well. She said, "No, I have trouble reading." I said that I would talk to the literacy coach. My first impression was shock. For a tenth grade girl to have willingly admitted that was beyond my comprehension because most girls at that age are embarrassed just to be wearing a shirt from Wal-Mart. My second thought was that she was lying to me to get out of reading in class. I can't help that thought. After teaching the juniors and seniors last year, they lied to me left and right about everything. It's sad I can't trust my students.

I thought about that all last night, and I decided to talk to the literacy coach today. We checked her literacy and benchmark scores. She was reading on a 4th grade reading level and tested below basic in literacy on the benchmark. My heart dropped. The literacy coach goes on to tell me that she is one of the hardest workers and strives to do well. She has, in fact, improved throughout the years. She is still on a 4th grade reading level however. It's no wonder she gave me a funny look when I asked her to read. That was at 10:30 this morning. I thought about her ALL DAY LONG. Yes, there are many students that can't read well and that read on extremely low levels, but something about this girl's brutal honesty hit hard. I got home and just sobbed. This is a situation where I feel so helpless. I want to help this sweet girl, but I have no idea how. How am I to teach her Spanish when it's difficult for her to learn her native language? And think of the guts she has to come and talk to me about that. I cried for her today. I have cried to my neighbor about it, and I have talked to God about it. Prayer sends clarity, but sometimes it's not right away.

I think about her and wonder if her other classes are a safe haven for her. Students can be so cruel. I want to hug her and protect her and tell her, "Yes, you can do it!" And I will because that's all I know to do. I will create that safe place for her. I will worry about her and her success. It just hurts me because she works so hard. She asks for help and wants to learn. That's where I'm having the biggest issue. I'm so blessed, and I am thankful yet it has ruined my perception. I didn't have trouble in school. I had parents who read to me. I have such confliction inside of me, and I am torn up. Pray that I have clarity on how to help this willing girl, and pray that she and other students in her same predicament succeed. Even if success is just reading that one challenging sentence, pray that they have that success.

It's these moments in my career that I realize that this is what I am supposed to do forever. And I had the revelation today that I am meant to be in public school. Students like her keep me humble and allow me to remember everything I have. I can read. What a gift in itself. They have NO idea they help me in life. No idea. Remember to think about these precious souls, even the ones who drive us crazy, as you are reading your magazine or book tomorrow. Be thankful.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy thoughts

Today marks the one year anniversary of PawPaw's death. I think about PawPaw all the time, and today will be another day devoted to thoughts of him--how influencing he was as a Christian and how he changed so many lives through ways of adoption. I will remember his contagious laugh and the twinkle in his eye. I will remember times like this: I went to visit Grandmother and PawPaw in June before he died. I made them two loaves of strawberry bread so they would have something to eat on for a while. He was eating the strawberry bread and said, "I like zucchini bread better." I looked at him with a "Well don't be honest or anything" look and we both just broke out in laughter. I saw it--that twinkle. And I heard that laugh. Doesn't that make you happy? I think about that time often, and I think about how good I had it.

We all have people we love and miss. Think of a happy memory today.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chocolate Gravy recipe

For those who have asked, here you go. Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you!

In a skillet or large saucepan, mix:

1/2 cup butter, melted                                                            
4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp cocoa

1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cook on medium heat until thick, stirring often. I serve mine with homemade biscuits, but I'm sure it would be good as a croissant filling or on a scone. It makes a lot but is excellent reheated!

Southern women are different. That's a fact.

My friend, Caroline, introduced me to a magazine called Gardens and Gun. She said there was an article in there that reminded her a lot of me, and she insisted I read it. So I did, and I will say there were parts of it that definitely screamed "Ashley!". You know, until you go out of the south, you don't realize how blessed southern women are. We have it all--beauty (I'm not trying to sound vain), hospitality, ability to cook, and respect for ourselves and others. The list could go on and on. Here is an excerpt from the article that really hit home:

               "To be made a Southern woman is to be made aware of your distinctiveness. The expectations. Which is why even the girls in the trailer parks paint their nails. And why you will never see Reese Witherspoon wearing sweatpants. Being Southern means handwritten thank-you notes, using a rhino horn's worth of salt in every recipe, and never leaving the house with wet hair. Not even in the case of fire. Because wet hair is low-rent. It shows you don't care, and not caring is not something Southern women do, at least when it comes to our hair. This is less about vanity than self-respect, a crucial distinction often lost on non-southerners. Side note: Southern women do not capitalize on their looks to snag men, though that often results. The reason we Southern women take care of ourselves is because, simply, Southern women are caretakers.
                An example: I have lived in the North for 15 years. In all that time, only once did another woman prepare me a home-cooked meal (and she was from Florida). I recently visited Tennessee for one week and was fed by no fewer than three women. Southern women are willing to give and listen. Southern women are also a proud lot. In any setting, at home or abroad, Southern women declare themselves [Well, you know what they say about us Arkansas girls...].
               Southern women know how to bake a funeral casserole and why you should. Southern women know how to make other women feel pretty. Southern women like men and allow them to stay men. Southern women know that manners count and that your mother deserves a phone call every Sunday. Southern women can say more with a cut of their eyes than a whole debate club's worth of speeches. Which brings us to what can only be called: the Baby Thing. Southern women love babies. We love them so much we grab their chubby thighs and pretend to eat them alive. This is not the case in the North or the West or the middle bit. I grew up, like all Southern girls, babysitting as soon as I was old enough to tie my own shoes. I was raised to understand that taking care of children was as natural and inevitable as sneezing. I was also taught that your children are not supposed to be your best friends. Southern women do not spend a lick of time worrying about whether or not their kids are mad at them, which might explain why there are rarely any Southern kids acting a fool and running wild around the Cracker Barrel.
                I want my children to know how to make biscuits. And to not feel bad about eating a whole heaping plate of them. "

You're asking, "Wow Ashtray! Did you type out the entire article?" No, I didn't. But I encourage you to go get this magazine. It makes me proud to say I am a pure-bred Southern woman.

So it looks like I'm headed to NYC on Wednesday!! My friend Jillian is apartment sitting in Manhattan and her mother very graciously paid for my ticket with her airline miles. Can you believe how blessed I am? I don't want to stop traveling, but...I have a job. I'm flying to Dallas tomorrow night, staying with Jillian's mom, and flying out to NYC Wednesday morning. I CAN'T wait!!!! I've been packed for two days...literally.

Another bit of good news is that I'll be at east campus full-time this year AND I get my own classroom! I can't wait to finally feel settled somewhere. I'll have a busy week of preparation when I return from NYC. I hope you all have been as blessed as I have been this summer. Please continue to pray for Aunt Tricia. Even rockstars like her need prayers :).

Peace and Blessings!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

30 by 30

Let's see how I've done the past 6 months!!
  1. snow ski (I'm terrifed of dying)
  2. Go to Hawaii
  3. ride in a helicopter
  4. go to a nude beach
  5. parasail in the ocean
  6. run a 5K
  7. serve in a food kitchen
  8. do a Bible study in a prison
  9. Buy a tahoe
  10. pay off student loans
  11. backpack through Europe
  12. lose three inches off entire body
  13. play a song on the guitar (at least one but no wishful thinking)
  14. fly fish
  15. shoot and clean a deer
  16. dive off a diving board without holding my nose
  17. watch the mini series Pillars of the Earth and The Tudors
  18. Date outside of type (someone with a tattoo or piercing)
  19. Get a Macbook
  20. Drive a really expensive car (one that turns heads) Note I didn't say own. I will probably have to rent it.
  21. Study at a language school in Spain
  22. body wrap
  23. see Dave Barnes, Matt Nathanson, Ingrid Michaelson, Joshua Radin, Amos Lee, and/or Ben Harper live in concert
  24. stay in a hostel
  25. ride in a hotair balloon
  26. play tennis (on the most basic level--that means having contact between racquet and ball which might be impossible for me)
  27. go to California
  28. go to Jackson Hole, WY
  29. go to a dude ranch
  30. rock climb
I've knocked a few off the list!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Aunt Tricia update

My aunt got the results back from her PET scan today. The lymph nodes did show up as positive on the PET. However, they are too small to biopsy, and the doctor won't do anything without a biopsy. He wants her to come back in five weeks for another scan. Both breast and pancreatic tumor markers are normal. Dr. Tauer suspects it to be breast cancer that has become resistant to the herceptin, the drug she is taking for breast cancer. He is encouraged by the normal tumor markers though, and he said it could be something benign. Please keep praying for her! You can follow Callie's (my cousin) blog here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Millions of peaches, peaches for me

Remember that song by the band The Presidents of the United States of America called "Peaches"? Well, that was the theme song this weekend. I took five girls home to Nashville to put up peaches. It was a busy but very entertaining weekend.
We canned 45 jars and put up some to freeze.
We got there Friday around 3:15, and then hopped back into the car to go see my cousin Tela's house in Saratoga. The house looks amazing! I can't wait to see it finished. Tela and Russell are expecting twins in January so that makes it way more exciting! Then we went back home and started supper. I cooked fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried okra (from Dad's garden), cream corn (from Poppa's garden), and we did a salad. It was greasy and good! Mom made mocha cheesecake for dessert, so we devoured some of that. Then it was bedtime.

Of course I didn't sleep a wink. I just don't sleep well with people, AND if there is a sound (the fan making noise) I follow it the whole night. Needless to say, I was pooped before the day even started. For breakfast, we had homemade cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing and fresh fruit (that's the healthy part!). Then the fun began! We peeled, chopped and cooked those peaches up! I was more of the teacher this year, and I coached from the side. They all made beautiful preserves. We got seven jars each. Not bad at all.

For an afternoon break, Dad took us all to the Coke plant to see the museum. I hadn't even been yet, so I was excited. It was so cool to see 100 years of memorabilia, some of it I hadn't seen before. There was an actual Model T Ford that we had to snap a picture in. We also posed on the forklift and in an empty semi truck.  We could be the new Coca Cola spokesmodels. I can't wait to sign my contract. Granny and Poppa came over for supper. Dad grilled chicken, I made squash medley, and a Greek salad.
The Model T Ford

A little pose in an empty Coke truck.

Then the real cooking began. I made peach fried pies with the help of Mom and Dad. Granny gave me her sister's recipe. Dad rolled out the dough (I was shocked too), and Mom flipped pies while I filled them and crimped them. I loved spending that time with my parents. That's one of those things I'll always remember, ya know? The pies turned out great! It needs a little more of "something", but I'm not sure what that is yet. Dad says it needs more salt in the crust, so I'll try that next time. I've got to perfect them before I open my bakery; those will be a necessity.

It was a great weekend! I can't wait until next year. Who's coming?!

Let me backtrack to July 17...I went to visit Jonathan, Meredith, and Chandler Bryan. It was such a great visit! Chandler is the sweetest little girl, and she's so active. She took her first steps while I was there, so of course that filled my heart. I was scared she wouldn't let me hold her, but we quickly bonded. Oh yes. Two peas in a pod we are. And Mer and Jon are such loving parents. It's an out of body experience watching your friends with a child. It's an awesome feeling. I was sad to leave on Thursday; I wanted to take them with me.
Sweet Chandler

Chandler walking!

This is what I found on the day I left. She almost did go with me.
My next post will be London...and I have video footage. YES!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Pretty

Hey ya'll. So since my trip, I haven't been inspired to write. It left me feeling incomplete in the sense that I didn't spend the time I needed to over there. It's not that I'm unhappy here because that isn't the case at all. I just need to spend more time rolling around in God's creation because ya'll, it is breath-taking. I'll go back next summer. FOR SURE. If you haven't figured out by now, I am writing again. Something obviously inspired me, so I will share that with you.

Let's start with the ugly or the uh....
The Not So Pretty
  • My Aunt Tricia who has battled cancer three times had to go in for a pet scan today due to swollen lymph nodes around her original breast cancer site. We won't know the results until Tuesday when Dr. Tauer returns to the office. I ask for diligent prayers on her behalf. You can read more about this on my cousin's blog Mostly Sweet

The Bad
  • School starts back for teachers August 8. Why?! Why can't we have until September?! I BEG YOU wonderful state department.
  • I was at dinner last night with my friends Annesley and Meredith. We went to a restaurant called Sangria and ordered different kinds of tapas. I was eating one of my favorite tapas that I had often in Spain and the tears began to flow. I miss Spain and the food and the people and the culture and outside cafes where the heat doesn't melt you.
The Good
  • I just got back from a wonderful visit with Meredith, Jonathan and baby Chandler. It's always hard to say goodbye to those you love!
  • I leave tomorrow for Nashville, AR with a group of wonderful girls for our 2nd annual peach weekend. Unfortunately, there may not be any ripe peaches but that won't stop us from having a fun time. That's fo sho. The menu for this weekend is yummy and heart-clogging. You don't want to miss it!
  • I still have to update you on London, so yay for me for getting to reminisce some more!! For those of you that could care less, go clip your nose hairs. That will be your intermission. London will be in a separate post fo schnizzel.

Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Monday, June 27, 2011


Remember that song called, "Barcelona" by Jewel? I won't be held back. I won't be held down. I will lead with my faith. Hold me, release me, show me the meaning of mercy let me loose. Fly, fly, let me fly.

That's one of my favorite songs by Jewel because it's seems I'm always wanting to fly to different places. Today has been a great day in Barcelona. I was sad to leave my new friends in Mallorca but hopefully one day we can meet again. I woke up ready to shop today. I literally have shopped all day. Funny story...in Zara In the dressing room, this young American girl (I could tell she was American by Her horrible Spanish accent) asked me in Spanish if I liked her shoes. When I didn't answer within the first second (I was still processing the horrid accent), she repeats the question loudly and slowly as Americans often do to foreigners. I said, "Just speak English." She said, OMG! You look so foreign!" I was thinking, "Oh! Thank you! But...you sound like a valley girl. It's now 8:30 pm, and I'm sitting out on the terrace watching people on La Rambla--the main street in barcelona where all the people are. It has a very pedestrian feel since cars can't drive down the center. People are showing their talents on the side of the sidewalk wanting you to give them money. Thieves are at work trying to steal people's stuff. You know, today I almost got pick-pocketed. I say almost only because I had nothing in my pocket for her to steal. But her scrawny hand definitely reached into my skirt pocket to check. What a poor, pathetic mousy girl. I gave her a look of death, and I might add I was a head taller than she was. I also saw an old man going around to every pay phone check to see if there was money. Ahhhhh! The joys of people watching!

I did some damage at zara, mango and bershka. Let's hope I can fit it all in my backpack :). I ate breakfast at the hotel. A hardboiled egg, two pieces of ciabatta bread smothered in butter (of course), and mounds of fruit. I will talk more about the awesomeness of my hotel later. I shopped then took a break for lunch around 2:00. I took Rick Steves' suggestion and tried Restaurant Elisabets. It took me a while to find it. It wasn't on a main road, so when that happens I just go with God and hope He leads me in the right direction. He never fails. They have a lunch special for €11 (around $16) that includes an appetizer, main dish, dessert, bread, and drink. I thought that was pretty dandy. I got canalones with beef, grilled beef with French fries, cut up strawberries for dessert, and water. The beef was extremely fatty. My dad would have loved it. What little I could eat of it had a wonderful flavor.

I then walked down unknown territory to discover new things. I walked down one street then up another until WHOA! There is the cathedral of Barcelona. It was beautiful in it's gothic architectural style. I'd never seen a true gothic style before so this was fascinating. What a nice, large find on my walk! I knew then that I was in the Barri Gothic or gothic neighborhood of Barcelona. This is where the cool old buildings are. This is my kind of stuff right here: cool and old. I could've walked through there all day, but my feet and back were killing me.

I came back to the hotel to rest. Now let me tell you about Hotel Continental. I highly recommend this place to anyone traveling here. I know they have other locations as well. The rooms are great, completely pink I might add, and it's in a great location right on La Rambla close to Plaça de Catalunya. The greatest thing though is the 24 hour food bar. It's got all kinds of fresh bread, butter, and cereals. Their cooks make ravioli, yummy potatoes, rice with veggies...and fruit! Fresh oranges, kiwi, watermelon, honeydew, and pineapple. Drinks include pepsi products (ugh!), water, orange juice, milk, beer, and wine. There is also soft serve ice cream with toppings. All of this is available 24 hours a day and is pretty good. It helps save money!

After resting, I took another Rick Steves' suggestion and went to Fargas--the most famous chocolatier in Barcelona. You walk in and it smells like cocoa. I could sleep in there. I imagine this is how the chocolate factory smelt like for Charlie. I got four pieces for €3.47 ($5.20). Pretty expensive but who cares. Vacay!! I got a cream filled, hazelnut, caramel and toffee, and almond. So rich! My favorite was caramel and toffee. Then I had dinner at the hotel. I'm in for the night. It's sad I can't go out when it's dark; it's not that safe in the daytime.

I failed to mention the highlight of my last night in Mallorca. The band at the one star (that should give you some hint as to how awful they were) sang "Achy Breaky Heart" belting it in their strong Spanish accents and using a tambourin. It was quite lovely and very memorable!

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do as the Germans do? No, no and no.

Yesterday was probably my least eventful day. That's fine by me since I came to relax. We had two extra hours of class since class is canceled Friday. After class, I got a manicure. Those of you who know me know that I have the fastest growing and driest cuticles (or as my students say "cruticles") known to man. They were so dry and long that they were catching onto my clothes and bleeding. I found a place in Germantown, and she got the job done for €10 ($15). It was well worth it.

Afterwards I just chilled. Since I can't go in the sun until my burn goes away, I washed clothes. And put on a concert while doing so. It made it way more entertaining. I'm sure I freaked out my neighbors, but hey! When in Mallorca...I had dinner at Cantina Vivaldi which is directly beside my hotel. The two German boys in my class, Thomas and Philipp, have been raving about it so I thought I've give it a shot. I ordered a vegetarian pizza called Pizza de Ortulana (eggplant). It had grilled zucchini, eggplant, and red bell pepper. I usually never choose a food with these items, but this was the only one that didn't contain seafood or olives. It was BUENÍSIMO!! I am so sad I didn't come sooner. I ate the whole pizza except for half a slice. I didn't care if I looked like a cerdo (pig), I was happy inside. I looked down while eating the last piece and saw that my arm had grown 2cm. I stopped eating immediately. If I come back looking like Marie Antoinette, it wasn't the cake that did it. It was the pasta!

Afterwards, Natalie wanted to show me the German district. There are so many Germans here that Germany considers Mallorca their 17th state. She said I wouldn't believe my eyes--she was correct. I had no idea this Sodom and Gomorrah existed. There were men in the streets handing out flyers. Of course I said ,"Danke." When I read and saw what was on the flyers (naked woman), I quickly through it away. One man that Natalie knew stopped us and began talking to Natalie. He saw I looked lost, and I told him I didn't speak German. I told him I was from the USA, and he whispered in my ear, "Can we go have sex later?" I looked at him with a evil smile and said, "Absolutely not." he asked why not and I said that I was waiting until after marriage. "What are you, Muslim or something?" I told him I was Church of Christ. He looked disgusted. What a perv. Anywho, there was this club called Paradise. We didn't go in of course, but in the club the strippers have sex with the men on the stage. Isn't that just dandy? A whirlpool of disease. It like at the fair, "Herpes! Hot off the grill! Get it while it's hot!". Ya know? I think I'll pass on that one. We didn't stay long. It's quite loud and obnoxious after a while. It's good to see German ways.

Today is the Night of Fire festival honoring San Juan. We are talking a bus to Palma where there are more Spanish people. I hope we don't stay out late. I'm already exhausted :). Peace and blessings!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My world right now

What a change from the good ol' USA. I am now on the island of Mallorca, but first I want to tell you a little about Lisbon, Portugal. The Lisbon hostel was my favorite hands down. It was homey and comfortable. They also did your laundry for free which made me extremely happy. We did a walking tour of Lisboa (as they call it) and learned a lot about the city. We also learned that the city is one giant hill. I should have nice toned legs after this trip :). We ate at the hostel the first night. The hostel mom cooked: chickpea soup with spinach, codfish with cream, and mango mousse. For €8 it was an awesome deal. Those who have ever traveled en Europe know it is impossible to eat a three course meal for that cheap. We got to know people in the hostel also. After dinner, we sat around the common room. Max, a guy who worked at the hostel, played the guitar and sang. I sang along of course. Then we went to bed around 12:30. I slept like a baby. I mean, come on, we'd been up since 4:00 am.

The next day trained to Belém which is a suburb of Lisbon. We saw a beautiful monastery and the Tower of Belém. It used to be an old watch tower. Of course I spoke in my English accent and took pictures acting like I was a prisoner. Classic Ashley being American and all. You know, a girl that worked at the Lisbon hostel thought I was Italian because of my dark hair and jaw line. And in Mallorca, this woman comes up to me in a frenzy speaking Swedish. I said, "No svenska." finally she understood that I wasn't Swedish. Now that's a nationality I never thought I'd look like. Yah. AND when I sit down in restaurants, they speak to me in Spanish and speak to everyone else in English or German. So yay for looking the part!!

So back to Belém...the Tower was great until you wanted to come down from the top. There was a dark, winding staircase where hardly two people could fit. It took FOR-E-VER!! I thought I was going to have a panic attack. After that experience, we deserved a pastry.

The Pastêis de Belém are so famous, and we wanted to try them out. The restaurant looks so tiny from the outside, but it goes on forever. You can actually watch them making the pastries. There were hundreds laid out ready to serve. José, our tour guide from the previous day, said Rey sell around 60,000 a day. They are €.95 cent euro. We got one each. They are the size of small tarts, and they are served fresh out of the oven. We sprinkled cinnamon and powdered sugar on them. And then it happened...the bite heard round the world. It was the best taste I've ever experienced. The flakiness of the pastry, the perfect texture and sweetness of the custard. It was simply--perfection. I wish I could describe it better for you, but words simply can't do it justice. It almost brought me to tears (literally) thinking about the masterpiece of these pastries. The nun's who hold the secret must sleep well at night knowing they have created the most divine pastry on earth. I figure Heaven will be like this but 100x worse. How can you speak words of such beauty?

That night, we had our farewell dinner to Lisbon and to Brian and Julie's part of the trip. We decided to go to the praised cafe Sâo Bento. They ask if we want smoking or non-smoking. We say non and the waiter directs us to a small room upstairs with five tables. You see who gets priority in this country. The walls had red velvet on them, and the chairs also. It was classy and quaint. We all ordered the steak Sâo Bento which is their classic filet with a cream sauce. It came with homemade French fries. The steak was the most tender I had EVER eaten and probably the beat tasting. The cream sauce was divine. It was so good that after we finished the steak, we sopped up the cream sauce like it was gravy.

Our waiter was in his '50s, named Manuel, and was precious. He was so tiny and cute. I told him I loved him in Portuguese "Amo-te" and he said, "I love you too.". He said it in English. What a precious soul. My meal was €27.00 euro. Not bad for the best steak in Lisbon. We left, Manuel walked us to the door and gave me two kisses on the cheek. He watched us to the cab like a sweet old grandpa.

We were sad to leave Lisbon. We'd met so many friends there. But it was time to say goodbye to them and to Brian and Julie. It wad time to build my own adventure, see what I'm really made of.

And then came Mallorca...the awesome little Mediterranean island. It was 81° today with the UV rays at 9. Let me put that into perspective for you: arkansas' UV ray was 2 today. With that being said, I laid out for four hours yesterday with my German friend Natalie. She is a bronzed babe, but I had to slather in sunscreen. I still burned like a pig being roasted. I'm in pain, but it's just on my backside. Who knows how that happened. Anywho, I couldn't lay out today, and I probably won't be able to tomorrow. So much for becoming a bronzed Mediterranean goddess. Poop.

To end my very long post tonight, I will tell you a story. This story is called "The Café", and it is a very good story. You see, there was this girl. She wanted to be a Mediterranean goddess, but she was so fair skinned that she burnt badly her second day in the sun. So all she can do is eat. She feasts on gazpacho, paella, pizza, and tapas. She gets rounder and rounder. The ocean could purchase her to be a buoy. But no, she sits in the restaurants by herself and listens to the people around her. It's a melting pot of cultures and ideas and languages. She is also listening to the music in the café. Her favorite songs of the evening were: "Alone" and "Visions of Love". She wondered what their obsessions were with 80s American music. Those were the only thoughts of the day. The End."

If I dont die of second hand smoke, I'll be back on July 4. Peace and Blessings to all and to all a good night!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Portugal+Ashley=weight gain

We landed in Portugal yesterday at 7:30 am. They are an hour ahead of Spain. My time clock is so confused right now. We find the hostel but can't check in until 3:00. I felt awful. I hardly slept the night before due to the extremely loud people of our hostel and the warmer weather. With that being said, I took a little nap on the hostel couch while Brian and Julie explored. "Are you crazy?" you ask. Napping is for babies. Well let me tell you. I was about to eat people alive so sleep was needed.

We did a walking tour of la Alfama and I got toasted. The sun is much stronger by the coast. It was a 2.5 hour walk and the town is all one steep hill. It was "bom" or good :). We were going to do a nice dinner last night, but we signed up to do the meal at the hostel. The hostel mom cooks a meal every night that includes a starter, main dish, and a dessert for only €8. We heard she was excellent so we thought, "Why not eat authentic food and meet new people?"

We showered and dressed then ate. The starter was chickpea soup with spinach. I licked the bowl. The main dish was codfish with cream which is what we would call a casserole. I was a big girl and ate the fish with a smile. Dessert was a mango mousse that was so rich I couldn't finish it. The mom was so sweet and cute. She was older and rounder, and said that if she ever went to New York she would eat a hot dog every day. Our dinner crowd was fun! It was a pessimist from Seattle, a car salesman from St. Louis, a tax lawyer from Paris, two college students from cincinatti, the girl who works there from Madeira, the guy who works there, and the mom. Good conversation with new friends!
After dinner we hung out in the common room. Max played songs on the guitar and we sang and got to know each other better. A girl from Germany walked in with a girl from austria. Doris, the Austrian, looks just like Blake lively. I mean, whoa. The German, Lea (pronounced like princess Leia), is beautiful and 19. She has been traveling for a year and has only been home for Christmas. Could you imagine??? Sometimes she will go two or three months without contacting her parents at all. She had such an interesting story. I wish I could've recorded that for my kids to let them know that being cultured and knowing three languages is the norm in the rest of the world.
We got up this morning, had breakfast, then hopped the tram to Belem. We saw jeronimo's monastery and the Tower of Belem. The tower was awesome! For those that have gone, were the tiny, winding stairs in the tower not the scariest thing? I was going down, people were coming up...tiny europeans + ashley = almost squashed Europeans. Then we went to a piece of Heaven on earth: Pasteis de Belem. It's the size of a tart. It has the flakiest (I'm for real) shell and it's filled with the best custard known to man. They bring them out warm, and you sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top. I had three. I wanted more. I wanted to cry when I left because it felt like I was losing a friend. Oh flaky, yummy friend--I miss you already.
Right now it's 4:24, and I'm laying in bed instead of doing another walking tour. So tired and I can hardly type this. who even knows if I'm making sense.

Peace and blessings!

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Friday, June 10, 2011


I guess I wouldn't necessarily call it yelling. I'll preface with that. Laying out at the pool (my sister's old apartment pool btw), I was sitting in the water reading my Rick Steves' book on Spain. The pool is quite large, too large for this incident to happen. As I'm reading, water hits my face AND my book. It was a little girl shooting a water gun right at me from across the pool. I moved my book and said, "No" in a very stern voice. Her face fell and all eyes were in me. I went back to reading and was thinking, "I just scolded another person's child." The parent never said anything to me thank goodness. I realized at that moment in time that the teacher will never leave me. I haven't decided yet if that's a good or bad thing...I need a vacay. Oh wait! I'm going on Sunday :).

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So my mom ran over a cat today

Yet it didn't die right away. Dad had to take care of that. Then one rode into town in the bottom of her Tahoe. Then one was found with its umbilical wrapped around its foot. It didn't die. Just thought you should know about the ways of the land.

My song

My song for today (to the tune of my Bonnie lies over the ocean)

I'm trying to go over the ocean.
I'm trying to go over the sea.
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
So please pack my bag for me.

I'm feeling a bit stressed out now. My stomach feels queasy & sad.
I'm feeling a bit stressed out now.
Please help me not feel so bad.

My bag is too small for 3 weeks.
What was I thinking my friends?
My bag is too small for 3 weeks.
I guess I'll just roll in the sand.

(all together now)
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
I'm trying to go over the sea.
I'm trying to go over the ocean.
So please pack my bag for me.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Transportation is complete!!

FINALLY I have all transportation booked. With the itinerary change, I had to book a flight to Portugal and back to Madrid. And I had to book a flight from Mallorca to Barcelona. That was a doozy because there weren't many flights left. I booked with Vueling airlines so we'll see about that. I've never heard of them. I wanted to take a boat, but that was way expensive and nine hours at sea. I don't know how I would do since I get carsick in the passenger side seat of a car. Just letting you know that this time next week I will be sleeping in a hostel in Madrid. Oh yeah baby.

Bruise update: it's turning yellow.

Tomorrow is my last day of school. I will have officially made it through one year in the public school world. My roommate Caroline is constantly amazed at the how much my rap music repertoire has increased. I have such tough skin now. I am woman.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I bite the dust yet again

Right after another teacher just paid me a compliment on how tall I was today, I am strutting my stuff down the hallway thinking, "I SHOULD wear wedges more often. They are comfortable, and I tower over mean children." Then, it happens. I'm walking on the first floor where all the hustle and bustle happens. The bell had just rang, kids were filling the hallway, and SNAP! I fall, due to my obviously still weak ankle from the fall prior to this one (april 29). No one, and I repeat, no one came to help me. Kids laughed at me. I felt like I was in high school again getting called all those ridiculous animal names. (if they could only see me now falling and surfing four pieces of pizza in my mouth last night.). So I pop up immediately and turn to everyone and yell, "I'm ok! I am ok!" they just stare and one kid even whispered, "wow!" at how quickly I popped up. If he only knew how often this happened...

- picture of my left leg that fell on my right foot. This will leave a lovely bruise.

Happy Thursday to all and to all a good day! Peace and blessings!

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Change of Itinerary

So, Morocco is out. That's right. No camels or turbans or Jasmine costumes. It's just too dangerous right now, and we decided it was in our best interest not to go to an early grave (or to send our parents to one). So we have decided to cut Sevilla and Cadiz also. Our new itinerary is as follows:

Thursday-Lisbon, Portugal
Sunday------------I'll continue as planned.

As sad as I am not to get to wear my Jasmine costume, we will all be safe and sound speaking Portuguese and learning about El Greco. More deets to come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You likey?! So here's what happened. I go in Ozark Outdoors in the Heights because I heard they had the best selection. I fully intended on just whipping out the big bucks and paying for one right then. BUT things took a beautiful turn. As the dude man was looking for the measurements (you know me, I had to know specifics), he said, "Hhhhmmmm. It doesn't look like they make that one anymore." It was still marked full price, and I KNEW that any store in that neighborhood would not mark anything down (It was marked for $230.00). I got the name, and I did some research on-line. REI Outlet had it for $142!!. Of course I got it. So yay for me having purchased the most important thing. Now I can start loading that baby up :)

Peace and Blessings!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Land of the Blueberries

Totally forgot to add in the bit of awesomeness in my last post. This will brighten even the awfulest of days, so please watch. Pretty stinkin fabulous.

Unicorns and the Land of the Blueberries

Hostels are booked!!

Hello friends!! Brian got the hostels for Sevilla and Cadiz booked.

Sevilla    http://www.oasissevilla.com/sevilla   We got a room with four beds so hopefully they won't put a anyone else in the room with us!! This hostel has bathroom in the room and free breakfast. Seems fun! This one is going to run about $29.57 each.

Cadiz    http://www.hostelincadiz.com/eng/  We are again in a four person. It's either a four, six, or ten I believe. Let's hope they don't book a fourth person, and it will be like a private room. This one is going to run us about $33.15 each.

So far, our housing total is $63.00 each. Of course, mine is substantially larger due to my extra time in Europe. I'd say $63.00 isn't half bad for two nights. Brian is still researching Madrid. It's so big it's hard to find a spot. We will be there three nights, so if anyone has any ideas let me know. Now on to Morocco...the more I hear, the less I want to go. All but one story about Morocco has been good, and that scares me a little bit. Those who know me know that I am not easily scared, especially when traveling. I've always traveled by myself, and I believe myself to be a very cautious traveler. I'm just getting more uneasy as we approach, but I am SURE it will be fine and dandy. Rick Steves' suggested the Hotel Rembrandt. Brian did his research and found that it is a VERY nice hotel, will run about 40 a person, and that it is located close to the consolate. Yay about that. Take that back. DOUBLE YAY!! Who knows what trouble could arise...maybe I'll laugh out loud or accidently pet a chicken that doesn't belong to me. Next thing I know, I'm in the stocks wearing a burka about to get my hand chopped off. Just a wee bit worried. Here's the link for the Hotel Rembrant:  http://www.hotel-rembrandt.com/  The site is in French; it could say stuff like, "We hate Americans. Don't come here or we will kidnap you." Again, slight anxiety. Don't worry mother, anxiety comes in all forms. I just ate half a pan of rice krispie treats (which by the way ya'll travel well overseas when wrapped in foil).

Peace and Blessings!

I hate visiting the Frustration Station

Am I heartless when my students come up to me on presentation day and tell me they need to go print off stuff? Or when they ask me, "We aren't ready. Can we present next time?" Of course I say NO. How am I preparing them for the real world by saying, "of course you can present next time. The world revolves around you. Now here's your happy meal. Enjoy!"

Teaching isn't just about teaching content but character-things that will help them be successful. It doesn't matter if you work at a law firm or McDonald's, a boss is not going to put up with an employee who is not prepared.

I LOVE each student. Truly, I do. If I didn't I would call in sick to escape them. If it's not obvious yet, babying is not the way I love. It's tough love, I guess. I wanted these presentations to be a final booster to their grade, a way to successfully end the semester. The presentations have been detrimental to their grades. Frustration strikes its ugly head again.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Europe trip update

Here's the route.
Let me put it to you in layman's terms: this time next month I will be in Sevilla, Spain. That sends chills down every one of my vertebrae. I mean, really ya'll. Chills. To think I will be walking the streets in Spain, laughing with my friends, finding me a Spanish man, eating Spanish food, finding another Spanish man....the list could go on and on. 28 more days until departure, and I've already started packing. That's right. One can never be too prepared.

Here's the run-down of cities/countries:
June 12--leave USA/arrive in Madrid, Spain. Stay 2 nights.
June 15--leave Madrid, train to Sevilla. Stay 1 night.
June 16--leave Sevilla, train to Cadiz (oldest city in western Europe). Stay one night.
June 17--leave Cadiz, train to Tarifa. Ferry over to Tangier, Morocco, Africa. Ride camel dressed like      Jasmine. Stay one night.
June 18--Leave Africa, fly back to Madrid. Stay one night.
June 19--Friends leave. I fly to Palma de Mallorca (island). Check in at language school.
June 19-26--I am living it up on the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain.
June 26--Boat over (I think) to Barcelona. Stay 3 nights.
June 29--Fly to London. Stay 5 nights.
July 4--Back to USA unless I find travel buddies to go elsewhere.

Plane tickets are booked, my Barcelona hotel is booked as of five minutes ago, and language school is booked. Brian, my friend who lives in NY, is booking all hostels because he's awesome at finding the good deals. Jules and I are just sitting back and relaxing very impatiently (notice how I contradicted myself on purpose?).

Here's a closeup of the island. The little dot is the city where I will be.

The beach in Palma...I will be there so soon!!!!!!
Here's what I've spent so far:
  • big daddy plane ticket--1,181.00
  • plane ticket--Africa to Spain 55.18
  • plane ticket--Madrid to Mallorca 70.76
  • plane ticket--Barcelona to London 101.23
  • plane ticket--madrid to London 65.94 (this was my mess-up. It's non-refundable.)
  • language school--510
  • hotel in Barcelona--381
Total so far:  $2,364.11

Here's what else I will have to pay for:
  • hotel in Morocco
  • hostels in Madrid, Sevilla, and Cadiz
  • train ticket from Madrid to Sevilla, Sevilla to Cadiz, Cadiz to Tarifa
  • boat fare from Tarifa to Africa
  • boat fare from Mallorca to Barcelona
  • any taxis or bike rental
  • meals
Things I need to buy for trip:
  • Flip camera--duh. How else will you see me make music videos?
  • back pack--remember this is all I am carrying
  • snacks to cut down on meal costs
  • a new water bottle
  • one of those under-the-shirt money things (someone told me I could borrow those but I forgot who that was so please speak up). That reminds me of that Eminem song: "Will the real slim shady please stand up, please stand up, please stand up."  Remember? Does that ever happen to you? You say something that reminds of you random events in your life and you laugh all by yourself?
I already have me a stack of clothes that are ready to be packed up. They are old t-shirts I can leave over there. My debate with myself right now is what shoes to wear over there for walking during the day. Should I wear:
  1. tennis shoes
  2. Toms
  3. chacos
  4. flip flops
I am already carrying flip flops because that is a "can't do without" item, especially for the beach. Experienced travelers, please let me know. 

You are about to see pics of the Hotel Continental Barcelona in...Barcelona. This is where I'll stay for three nights. The pics tell a story all by themselves. Just wait and see.

The front.

It's right off La Rambla which is the equivalent of 5th Avenue in New York.

You only thought blush and bashful were bad in Steel Magnolias. I will be vomiting pink. This is not an illusion.

The best thing about this hotel other than air conditioning is the 24 hour snack bar. It's included in the room price. So awesome and worth every penny. This will save me big money on meals.

This weird looking thing is the "electronic panel". I will have a key to turn on the electricity to the appliances in my room.
That's it for now. If you have been to any of these places, I would love your input. Right now, it's just me and good old Rick Steves. Have a great Monday! Peace and Blessings!

Monday, May 9, 2011

I am loving my freedom

WOOHOO I am done with college FOREVER! No more homework, no more classes, no more late night studying. More reading, reading, reading. I have been glued to the television, catching up on shows from January. It's been amazing! I finished LOST (what a great experience), started Glee (another great experience). I truly thing Glee was made for me. Why I didn't know about the auditions keeps me constantly confused. I could have been Rachel but much taller and so much more cooky.

With the trial, graduation, and the end of school coming up, it has been a bit crazy. I am loving the freedom. I am also getting pumped about my trip. I leave in a month! Isn't that nutso? I have almost everything booked. It's getting very real to me.

I know I had more to say than this, but I can't seem to take my mind off of Glee. I promise to be more diligent. Peace and blessings!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Peace at Last!

I'm so exhausted that I am sleep-typing, but I wanted to give a brief overview of today. I will give more details later because I need sleep in a bad way. Somehow I will have to wake up tomorrow and teach some children, so I need to get my sleep. Huff was found guilty on all five counts: aggravated robbery (40 years), aggravated burglary (40 years), second degree battery (6 years), terroristic threatening in the first degree (6 years), and the big daddy--kidnapping with a life sentence. That totals 192 years in prison.

I can't tell you the overwhelming love and support we have gotten from friends and family but also from the Little Rock police department. I have grown to appreciate the hard work they have done and continue to do. Throughout this ordeal, we girls have gotten to know the detectives very well. They, of course, celebrated with us tonight at YaYa's. Detective Eason was a protector and walked us to our car in the parking garage after the trial. Detective Martin, who was in charge of the case, said as we were saying goodbye that he hopes this won't be the last time he sees us girls. Well guess what? It won't be. I told him he was stuck with us. Detective Hopper is just a big old bear. I actually got teary eyed hugging him. In fact, I wouldn't let go until he said he really did have to leave. They have just grown to be a part of us. I have such a faith in our system knowing these men are protecting this community. I love it.

We can all rest easier tonight knowing that one psycho is locked away and can't harm any more women. His face will not haunt us anymore. In fact, I hope to goodness that he sees sweet Haleigh's face, the faces of her family, and my evil snarl at him in his nightmares every night. Good always wins in the end.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm living vicariously

Through the CSI who testified today. She was so super cool AND she's German AND has a super cool French name AND is married to a French guy. I know. Cool. Now you ask, "Ashley, how could you possibly know this information?" Alas my fair friends, I shall tell you. I simply bombarded her with questions and started speaking to her in German. I only know the words goodnight and the word for iron. Then I found out she doesn't speak German, just has German ancestry. Yep. She was cool. So cool that I took a picture of her crime scene ensemble. No y'all...she wasn't aware of my obsession.

Admit it. You are jealous that I got to talk to a real CSI.

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Trial Day 1

Days like this make me wish I could've seen my Pawpaw in action. I got to the court house around 8:45. I went directly to the witness room, the room where the witnesses wait until they testify. The jurors were chosen and then those who weren't testifying went to watch the proceedings. It was a full courtroom! Haleigh was the first one on the stand, and let me tell you. She was AMAZING! A total rockstar. I knew she would be fine up there, but she exceeded my expectations. She was cool, calm and collected. I was so proud of her! I can't imagine how difficult it was so look that piece of doodoo in the face.

I can't tell details, but it was a good (but long) day. Haleigh is requesting my chocolate sauce tonight, so Caroline and I are going to head over there around 8:30 for a little dessert party. One funny thing about the trial...When the detectives and the CSI were on the stand describing the house as they found it, they described each room. They began with Haleigh's room and describe hers as orderly with a stack of laundry on the bed. The southeast room (mine) was very messy with clothes everywhere and possibly some laundry that was not folded. The southwest room (Caroline's) was very neat and tidy with only jewelry on the counter. Hhhhmmmm....does this surprise anyone?   :)

Trial Day 2 begins tomorrow at 9:30. Pray the jurors find him as guilty as a skunk. If they don't they are blind as bats.

Pre-Trial Jitters

It's time y'all. The two days we've been dreading has arrived. We will finally see the nasty man go to prison for life--the man that hurt my roommate and invaded the privacy of our home. Pray for Haleigh to have strength during her testimony.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sometimes I don't even know where to begin.

So I'll start with what's heavy on my heart right now, and that is Eden. My eyes are wet right now from the many tears that keep rolling down my cheeks. I'm not a mother, so I know the feeling for mothers is enhanced ten fold. I don't care who you are, but the death of a child is the saddest feeling. I have written before about my co-worker, Beth who has taken a leave of absence from teaching to care for her terminally ill daughter, Eden. In her latest blog post, she writes about things she will miss about Eden. I can't even speak right now. There are tornadoes going on all around me, but this has my heart right now.

             From Life With My Angel:

              It's so strange. She's still here, but she's not. I'm so thankful I can still hold her
              and rock her see her smile and hear her laugh. I'm thankful she still knows me
             and everyone else who loves her.

I know to never ask why. The Lord truly does work in ways none of us will ever understand. For someone to have such the huge heart that Beth has to choose a child, raise her for a short time, and have her taken away. I honestly cannot imagine nor do I ever want to be able to empathize with someone. Sadness just overwhelms me. Prayer is vital.

A praise is the good report my Aunt Tricia received. She went in for her scan for pancreatic cancer and got the "ALL CLEAR" from the doc. She's unstoppable! If you don't believe in the God and his power after seeing the living proof in Trixie, you are CRAZY. I just have to be blunt sometimes.

On to the weather, which is acting totally crazy. The weather is like a really bad student; however, I can't write a referral and send it to it's administrator. One of my good friends from high school lives in Vilonia with her husband and baby. Their home was destroyed in the tornadoes last night. I can't imagine coming home to devastation. I'm so thankful I've been out of danger. Hopefully tonight won't be any different.

I am finally done with grad school. I submitted my portfolio Sunday night, and oh baby! It felt so good! Graduation is May 7, but I'm not walking. I don't want to waste a Saturday to be sitting in an auditormium.  I think that's all I have to update. I'm pretty boring, but that is hopefully changing soon. I'll do an update on my big trip soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Major exhaustion

Ya'll. I am tired. But what a good tired. Ya know from doing fun things. So let's back track to the weekend before this one, April 2. Libby, Jill, Valerie, and I traveled to Searcy, AR to go to the Avett Brothers concert. Little did we know that there was going to be a Harding reunion. What joy filled my heart! I just couldn't help myself. I saw people that I hadn't seen since graduation (5 years in May) or before. It was an awesome time! The concert was incredible and ya'll I mean it. They are such a lively band, such great performers, that I can feel their music in my soul. That's how moved I am. Some songs I actually cried either because the words struck a feeling within me or the banjo picking was amazing.

Avett Brothers

While on the HU campus, we thought we'd take Libby for a tour of Bison country. We took her through the front lawn and made fun of all the "young love" couples. Then we went to the fountain and took pics. Of course we had to take pictures to document this momentous occasion. I don't know how ya'll feel when you walk back in time, but I felt a tinge of sadness. It was very nostalgic, very surreal. As I looked back on places where we gathered for Kojie pics on Patti Cobb or the sidewalk where we walked every single day, it made me realize that I am getting older. I know, 27 years is not that old, but it's still older than 18. I look at those places and see how each event has molded me, and it makes me think about my possible children and how easily a life can be influenced for good or bad. Who knows if I'll even have kids, but I hope they get the opportunity to go HU (and of course be a Kojie).
Valerie, Jill, Libby, and me

Catching up with old friends Laura and Kari.

Can't go anywhere without a classic drink spill.
This past weekend, six Harding girls including myself, had a Friday night getaway to Hot Springs Village. Carrie's inlaws have a house there, and it made the perfect spot for a retreat and sunbathing. It was good to catch up with all my friends and just relax. I also got some nice color. Yes I was wearing sunscreen.

 It was also Lana's birthday weekend so Carrie made a very yummy cake. I have such wonderful, generous friends!

On Saturday, we layed out on the deck. Lindsey's and Carrie's husbands decided to stop by and give us some company.

I drove to Searcy this morning for church then went to Caleb and Brooke's wedding shower. I feel like I've driven all over the state. Back to reality: grading tests and doing homework. Yay!

Peace and blessings,

P.S. So I had a Bernice moment...Dad drove me back to Harding to get my car. I cannot find my keys for anything. I empty out my purse, and still no sign of my keys. I then call my sister to see if I left them in her car. As she's searching her car, I lift up my purse, and Voila! There are my keys laying in my lap. Dad and I have a big ol' laugh about that. He called me Bernice because why? I am my mother :)