Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Monogrammed Christmas

It is no secret to my friends and family that I'm completely obsessed with monograms.  Thankfully, they kept this in mind while Christmas shopping for me this year!  Here's a quick look:

I've been wanting a DSLR for several years now but didn't know where to get started.  Early in December, my brother purchased one of these for himself, and I was hooked.  It went straight to the top of my list, and I feel so blessed to have one of these bad boys.  Now...if I could just figure out how to use it...

Jacket, scarf, phone case, and fun!

These are itty bitty and so cute

And these...they're ginormous...  Seriously, huge and heavy, but they're great statement pieces.

I felt very blessed this Christmas.  Not because of the presents sitting under the tree but because I was surrounded by my amazing family.  I know so many who really struggled this year, including a friend whose newlywed husband passed away unexpectedly.  As 2013 approaches, it is a sobering reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  For each year that passes, we need to truly be grateful for the things we so often forget:  healthy families, a warm home, a job, food on the table, strong friendships.  I have no idea what 2013 holds for me and my loved ones, but I do know Who holds it all in His very capable hands.  I am thankful to have a Savior that has my best interest at heart, all the time.  We may not understand every decision He makes, but we can be sure that nothing that happens is by accident or goes unnoticed.  Glory be to God!

Monday, December 17, 2012


I woke up this morning completely unsure of how my day would go. After the events of last Friday, I didn't know what to expect. All weekend long, I have been immersed in the news and pain, to the point that I've just had to shut the t.v. and my mind off. But it just doesn't stop. The constant, nagging sadness. As an elementary teacher, this has hit closer to home than I was prepared for. I remember Columbine. I was in the 8th grade. I clearly and distinctly recall watching the news and seeing the pictures, terrified to return to school, while still knowing that I'd be sheltered in the protective bubble of my family and friends and church.

This time, it's different. It's personal. As a 2nd grade teacher, I feel this on a totally different level. As a middle schooler, I wondered how I'd protect myself. As a teacher, I wonder what I'd do if I, God forbid, were ever faced with such a situation. I visualized it countless times this past weekend, how I'd shelter my students. Protecting them no matter the cost. This isn't something that a teacher should have to prepare for. This isn't something that students should have to fear. I went to sleep last night, not knowing what the kids might ask. What they might say. To me. To each other. And then, Monday morning came...

I got to work early today. I turned on the computer. Prepared morning work. Fixed desk arrangements. Picked up fallen name tags. Checked my lesson plans and my email. Saw the encouraging note from our principal about using good judgment and sheltering the youngest ears from any scary discussions (also, about the crackdown on our school safety plans). Prepped for the afternoon Christmas craft. Promptly, at 7:30, my littles entered the room. MY babies. And...everything was business as usual. They were happy, sheltered, innocent of what had happened. They were excited, smiley 7 year olds.  They worked hard all day, and, not once was a single bit of the news mentioned.  I'm humbled by the sweet parents in my classroom that love on their children so much and work so hard to shelter and protect their precious minds. We spent the day in complete Christmas bliss. And, at the end of the day, I hugged them each a little longer and tighter, feeling so gracious that I have the opportunity to spend my days with them.

The pain from Connecticut isn't going to go away overnight. My prayers are constantly directed toward the families and friends feeling this more deeply than any others.  My prayer is that, somehow through this tragedy, others might come to know the power of the Creator.  That God's presence would be felt by those hurting in ways we can't even imagine and that they would be drawn to Him. That God would use this unspeakable act of terror to show others just how mighty and beautiful it is to follow after Him. And, as followers of Christ, I pray that we would be reminded of the glory that is to come:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. -Revelation 21:4

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Little Late...But Still Thankful

I have started and retyped this post several times now, only to come to the conclusion that I'm not exactly sure what I want to say.

Today was special.  A good Thanksgiving.

That's not to say that any in the past have been any less special.  But, today was different (or, at this point, yesterday...).

This Thanksgiving was spent at my Aunt's house.  There was a lot of food and a lot of family.  Of course, it wouldn't be a family gathering without a bit of drama thrown in, as well.  But, this year was different because we had a guest.  My best friend.

Nicole's presence at our Thanksgiving event is probably what has prompted my whole "self-reflection."  To say that she has had it rough in the past would be the understatement of the century.  Growing up, I was sheltered.  Sheltered by my amazing, loving, God-fearing family.  I lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood.  There was always food on the table, and I never heard my parents talking about their financial troubles.  We were at church every Sunday and most Wednesdays.  I accepted Christ at the ripe old age of 8.  I knew I was loved.  We traveled.  A lot.  My mom would check over my homework each and every night.  I had it made in the shade and didn't even know it.

Not only did I grow up this way but so did most of my friends.  Of course, the older you get, the more and more you realize that not everything is shiny and perfect, like it seemed when you were a kid.  But, really, in my own little bubble, things were good.

Nicole and I became friends almost four years ago.  Our friendship grew quickly, even though we are polar opposites.  She was a new Christian and was seeking friends who would encourage her in her walk with Christ.  We were in a small group Bible study together, and, for whatever reason, she started to confide in me.  She told me things about her life growing up.  Things that chilled me to the bone.  Heartbreak after heartbreak.  Over several months, her trust in me turned into a truly beautiful friendship that I am ever grateful for.  She slowly became not just a close friend, but a part of my family.  My parents started thinking of her as their third daughter.  She was, essentially, "adopted."

Since the beginning of our friendship, she has witnessed her parents fly back to her home country of Germany and her father pass away.  She has learned about the struggles of finding a teaching job in this economy.  She has had to pick herself up, dust herself off, and humble herself before others, hoping to find a decent place to live on a meager salary.  She has developed into an amazing Christ-like woman.  I know that God isn't finished writing her story.  I know that He has great things in mind for her.  I know that He has allowed her to walk down this path, so that her story could bring Him glory.  And, I know that one day He will reveal His grand purpose to her.

In the meantime, she will continue to be a vital part of my family, making it more precious with her presence.  That was definitely the case today.  Today, she helped me to remember to be thankful for all of my many blessings.  But, more importantly, she reminded me of how thankful I am for God placing her in my life.

So, Nicole, when you read this, please realize how much you've blessed my life and how deeply and sincerely I thank God for our friendship.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Two Weekends In Pictures

I have been B-U-S-Y lately.  The good kind of busy, though.  Like, awesome-plans-every-weekend busy.  And, it doesn't look like things are about to slow down any time soon.  Annual family mountain trip this weekend.  FSU football game the next.  So on and so forth.  It's weekend events like this that keep my week moving and make me LOVE this time of year!

Two weekends ago, I spent a girls' weekend with two of my favorite people in Atlanta.  We spent Saturday up in Blue Ridge, GA, and had an absolute blast riding the train and visiting Mercier's Apple Orchard.  This past weekend was a bit more relaxing, so I decided to whip up a few Pinterest recipes I've been dying to try.  Here are my weekends in pictures:

Blue Ridge train that took us to McCaysville, GA/Copperhill, TN.

My train buddy :)

Best fran

My beautiful friend, Karen, and her sweet girl.  Ice cream solves every problem in a four year-old world...

Oh, yes...and cotton candy is great for bribery

The picture does not do it justice.  Mercier's Apple Orchard :)

The oh, so good finished product!

How have you spent your October weekends?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

What do you miss most about being a kid? 

Wow! Just so many things. I probably miss not worrying about things like I do these days. As you grow up, or, at least for me, you start to realize that you're not quite as invincible as you once were. And, neither are the people around you. In the past few years, I've lost grandparents, great aunts and uncles, childhood pets, and even friends. That has been the hardest and most humbling lesson. It also causes me to greatly worry about things that never crossed my mind as a kid. I miss all of those people and the simplicity of youth. 

Did you have a nickname growing up? What was it? 

I had two. I equally hated both of them. The first one was Suzie-Q. Yeah, I know that isn't so bad. In fact, on some levels, it's even kind of endearing. But, as a kid, I hated it. The reason? I loathed barbeque. Yup. Crazy, I know. I love it now, but, as a kid, I thought it was disgusting. And, anytime I was called "Suzie-Q," I immediately thought about barbeque, and it grossed me out. Hence, I hated the nickname. My second nickname was "Man." As a kid, my brother couldn't say "Suzanne," so he called me "man." Ever since then, that's what my dad has called me. I hated it. It didn't exactly speak volumes for my feminine nature. :) 

What was your favorite thing to do at recess? 

Monkey bars. Hands down. I have always been a super competitive person, and I secretly loved the monkey bars because so many other kids couldn't do them. I know. Evil. 

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A meteorologist. I was obsessed. From about the 3rd through 6th grade, I spent all my free time at home watching The Weather Channel and pretending to give weather reports on a blank space of my bedroom wall. Hurricane season? Best time of the year! I kept a binder of each and every newspaper article on the storms. Still have it! Does that make me a nerd? Probably. But, I still think it would be so very much fun. 

What was your favorite toy? 

Ohhh, my pink Barbie corvette! You know, the kid-sized one that you could ride down the driveway in? Power Wheels, I think. Brings back good memories... It was so impractical, though. I remember charging it for days, and it only running for a good 30 minutes. But, I loved that thing. I was hot stuff in that car. 

What is the funniest thing you did as a kid that your parents still remind you about? 

My parents have worn this story out over the years. When I was around three, we were visiting my great aunt's house, and, somehow, I got control of the remote. I started pushing the channel button, but nothing was happening. My dad then told me, "Suzanne, point at the t.v." So, following orders, with my only free hand, I pointed my index finger straight at the t.v. and continued my attempt to change the channel without success. Not great, but that's the first one that comes to mind.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


It's slightly embarrassing how giddy I become when the fall television lineup kicks into gear.  After a summer of, IMO, ridiculously terrible programming (minus the Bachelorette...Emily Maynard is just the darn cutest), I'm always ready to see what this new season has to offer.  Spring brought along two of my new favorites, and I cannot wait for Sunday evening when they start back up!  I mean, seriously, who isn't psyched about these...

Of course, there's also the return of some of my favorite comedy sitcoms:  The Office, New Girl, Parks and Rec, The Big Bang Theory....I could go on.  And, who could forget the return of Hart of Dixie, a show fictionally set just outside Mobile, Alabama, three hours down the road.  Love, love, LOVE this show!

As if this could get any better, I found out tonight that the next Bachelor is none other than...drumroll, please....

Yep, no joke.  That's Sean Lowe from Emily's season.  Loved him last season.  Sure I'll love him again.    Not to rush through my favorite time of year, but, now, I'm genuinely looking forward to January!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

God's Faithfulness

These past couple of weeks have been crazy busy at work as I try to get a handle on all this new 2nd grade stuff. Fourth to 2nd...leaps and bounds, y'all. But, that is not exactly the purpose of this post. More as an excuse for being MIA...

I can honestly say that God has blessed me in innumerable ways. I have an unbelievable family and parents who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that my siblings and I grew up understanding the gospel and Christ's sacrifice for us. I have only ever been a member of one church. The church I began attending at one month old. The church where my parents were married. The church where my maternal grandparents were married. A church with an incredible 112-year history. Most of my childhood memories and friendships are permeated with this place. However, like so many churches, we went through a "rough patch." You could blame it on leadership, membership, division, etc. At this point, pointing fingers does no good. What it comes down to is the fact that, about four years ago, the College and Career group consisted of my brother and me. And that was it. Basically. I knew that God was calling me to other places. There was no longer any fellowship with other believers in my age group and no where for me to serve. So, I "left." Only, I didn't really leave. I became involved at a growing church in town where my cousins attended. Right away, I knew it wasn't where I was supposed to be. But, I also had no clue where else to turn. So, in an attempt to find my niche and fit in again, I got involved. Super duper involved...all without ever joining this church. After about two years, God made it CLEAR AS DAY (don't you just LOVE when God gets your attention in a big way) through a series of somewhat painful and highly revealing situations. He had been gently leading me all along, but I just wouldn't listen.

Soon, I found myself, along with my brother, sister, and best friend, at a different church in town where several of my friends had grown up. We loved it! In fact, I've been attending this church for the past year-and-a-half, but, yet again, I never felt that tug on my heart to move my membership and settle down. I tried to get involved, but something just wasn't right. God was still urging me to LISTEN to Him.

Finally, a few weeks ago, a wonderful couple that I know invited me to try out their church. A church that is right down the road from the house I grew up in. It is in no way a "mega church," like church No. 1. Nor is it like church No. 2. In fact, it most resembles my childhood church, the church that will always feel like home. I decided three Sundays ago to go ahead and try it out. What could I lose? Well, y'all, it was amazing. No, there were no fancy lights, strobe machines, award-winning orchestras, etc. But, I felt the presence of God like I haven't felt in many years, and I saw a good group of people who genuinely love the Lord and desire to serve Him. And, I, most importantly, also feel a peace in my heart toward this church and my involvement here. No, I'm not yet ready to move my membership, but it is something that I will begin praying about. For the first time in a long time, I've been excited about a Sunday morning service. So much so that I tried out the Sunday school this past week, and, what do you know?? I have relatives (yes, RELATIVES) that teach the College and Career class! I didn't even know they went to this church! Okay, we're distant relatives, but relatives, nonetheless.

There have been many times during these past couple of years when I have given up and thought that God had abandoned me. In my heart, I knew that couldn't be true. But, it was just so hard to feel any differently when He seemed so distant. I have, once again, been gently reminded of God's faithfulness to His children. Our God is powerful and omniscient. Nothing escapes His understanding or notice. How comforting to know we serve a loving Savior!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend

This weekend has completely flown by, and, as much as I love my job, I can't imagine waking up at 5:00 tomorrow morning and heading up there.  This weekend has been filled with family, food, and football!  It also means that summer is officially winding down, and fall is on its way.  Sweetest music to my ears.  This southern summer has been a scorcher!

On Friday, I headed over to the movie theater at the beach with my best friend, my brother, and a new friend to watch Lawless.  I honestly had no clue what the movie was about when I agreed to watch it, but I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would.  Save for plenty of inappropriate language and a little nudity, it was a fairly decent movie.  Probably wouldn't watch it again, but not a bad way to kick off the much needed absolutely necessary weekend.

Saturday was a super sleepy day for me.  That is, until kick off.  My parents hosted an Alabama football party, and there was more junk food than we knew what to do with.  If this first game was any indication of the season, then I'd say we are sitting pretty for another great year!  Super excited about that!!  Here's a pic of our Saturday night feast:

After church on Sunday, G-ma invited the family over for lunch.  Nothing in the world like Sunday dinner at your grandmas.  After eating far more than I should have, I drove out to the beach because I knew that Ann Taylor Loft was having a sale on their new fall cardigans.  Anyone that truly knows me understands, first and foremost, cardigans are my number one wardrobe staple.  I seriously wear them every day.  Like, no joke.  Every stinkin' day.  Partially because I think they are the perfect way to add dimension and color to an outfit.  And, more than anything else, because I have serious self-conscious issues with my arms.  That is a totally different story.  But, nonetheless, I stock up this time every year on the newest colors to prep for the coming months.  One thing I have learned is that, sometimes, it's okay to spend a bit more on quality clothing when it comes to classic clothing pieces.  This is how I feel about cardigans, along with shoes, blazers, and pants.  Shirt styles come and go, but certain pieces can be worn for years, if you are willing to invest a bit more in them.  Thankfully, Loft is great about sales, and, if you are on their mailing list, you can keep up with them pretty easily.  I was ecstatic when I opened my inbox and noticed that their new cardigans were on sale for $25.  I mean, seriously, that's basically the same thing I would pay at Target.  However, when I buy from Loft, I am generally getting something that won't show wear and tear for a long time.  Not surprisingly, I went a little crazy, but I still feel really good about my purchases and know that I have plenty of options for my favorite season of the year!  I picked up 7 (yes, seven!) cardigans, along with a super cute blue leopard print shirt.  

I'll be set for a while!

As if Sunday couldn't have been more perfect, my little sis surprised the whole family by driving home from college for the evening and Labor Day!  Even though she was only in town for one night, it was so great to see her.

Liv and I.  (This pic was not taken this weekend, but you get the idea).

Finally, here's a sneak peek at what my ah-mazing daddy is making for my bedroom.  He's really a pretty awesome carpenter.  He loves doing at-home projects, gardening, landscaping, etc., but he rarely gets a chance to just be creative and build.  When he does, I am nothing less than blown away.  He's very talented and incredibly humble.  I just love him!

This is still a work in progress.  Pics to come when it's completed!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Passion For Pinterest

I'm not gonna Pinterest addiction is starting to get out of hand.  Ok, so I'm completely past the breaking point.  However, I have no intention of going back; I just surpassed 2,000 pins!  Not that this is exactly riveting news or even terribly impressive.  But, I figured it could be slightly therapeutic to comb through and share a few favorites:

This was one of my first pins and ended up being something that I actually attempted.  It turned out pretty well and has been hanging in the house for over a year now.  Perfect for Saturday!  Whoop whoop!

Chevron and studs.  My favorites.

I should dedicate an entire board to my monogram obsession.  I just love how delicate this ring looks.

And, again...This would be completely perfect for fall.

I knew nothing of Hunter rain boots, until Pinterest.  Where have these been all my life??

Fall is, hands down, my favorite time of year.  I love this classic outfit.

Nothing says crisp fall morning like a caramel apple spice.  L-O-V-E that I found this recipe!

This is just precious and super southern.

My best friend saw that I had pinned this and decided to make it as my Christmas gift.  Never has my jewelry been so accessible.  Excellent find!

Here's a link to my Pinterest.  Feel free to follow along!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Pinterest Project

I've been an avid "pinner" for a while now.  I'm currently pushing 2,000 pins on my account, and I'm proud to say that I've actually made, eaten, or attempted quite of few of the things I've found.  My biggest board is "Classroom Ideas."  It's extremely disorganized, and, lately, I've been wanting to break it apart into several different boards that focus on organization, lesson plans, crafts, etc.  BUT, that is a project for another day....

One of my most recently completed projects was something I had pinned a while ago....

I was so excited when I found this project because it is far less complicated than using modge podge or other popular Pinterest descriptions.  The link above takes you directly to the original post, but, essentially, you are "faking" that stenciled look.  Here's my take on this awesome dupe...

I started out by measuring the space between each of the shelves and then cutting each of those individual measurements out of cardboard boxes.  Word to the wise:  Use a box cutter.  I was in a hurry and didn't exactly think this through.  It was not at all easy to do with a pair of scissors.  Yes, I said scissors.  Yikes!  Impossible?  No.  Stupid?  Perhaps.

Once I had all five of my cardboard pieces cut, I laid out my chosen fabric and got to work!

My little sister dropped by the school to help me.  :)

If I could re-do this project, I would have hot glued the fabric to the cardboard.  But, in an attempt to finish quickly and move on to another project, we stapled them on.  It worked out fine, except for a few staples poking through that had to be hammered down.  

Finished product!

One other bit of advise would be to make sure that when you're cutting your cardboard pieces, you either take exact measurements or slightly larger measurements.  One of the pieces I cut was about a centimeter too short, which means it doesn't fit very well into the back of the bookcase.  Oops...