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Friday, January 31, 2014

Snow What?


I don't think I've ever been happier to be sitting at home writing a blog post. In some ways I don't feel like this is my story to tell, compared to just about every other citizen in the state I call home, I have been on a vacation the past three days. I rarely share where I live when I am writing on the blog. This is intentional, sometimes for privacy issues because of my family and job, but usually because I don't want the judgement and stigma that comes along with being from the Deep South. People hear that you are from Alabama and sometimes they automatically assume every single stereotype they've ever heard- we don't have teeth, or bathrooms, or electricity, or shoes; we are all racist, or backwards, or uneducated, we all marry our cousins, or our dogs, or our tractors, etc.,etc. But today, in light of the events of the past 72 hours, I am writing about Alabama.



Tuesday morning, this household woke up and got ready for school, like we do most mornings. All the local (and national) forecasts had been predicting snow for the state, but it was a really weird forecast, and the snow was all predicted to occur hours away from the center of the state where I live. To help the coastal areas of Alabama deal with what would be record amounts of snowfall (go ahead and laugh at amounts up to four inches, but we are talking about four inches of snow at the beach), the city of Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, sent what little they have in means of snow equipment south. The forecast said it would be chilly and we would possibly receive a "dusting" of snow, but that any accumulation would be well south of us. Curtis packed up lunch for Sean, and we set out for the 15 minute interstate ride to school. By 9:30 AM, my students were in typical freak-out mode about the snow. Because we see it so rarely, even teenagers start getting giddy about the white stuff. By 10:30 I was having to be "that teacher" explain to kids that "No we would not be getting out of school" for a dusting of snow. By noon, this is what EVERY major thoroughfare in the metro Birmingham area looked like.

Photo courtesy of AL.com

The snow, which again WAS NOT predicted, hit central Alabama fast and didn't let up. Schools, notorious for a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" reaction to bad weather, hadn't prepared for snow, nor had the businesses, so within a one hour span, millions of Alabamians had taken to the roads to get home, or to get to schools to pick up kids. It was a disaster to say the least, and not just because we are a bunch of hicks who don't know how to handle driving in "a little snow". I was still being optimistic about getting home until my school system stopped running buses. In six years teaching, I can't remember that happening a single time. I remember thinking to myself, "Shit. That escalated quickly." No buses running in the rural town where I teach means hundreds of students were stranded at seven different schools. Sean finally got to me, but a trip that usually takes two minutes took over an hour. By the time he got to my school at 1:00 PM, the interstate was closed. Thankfully my in-laws live locally, so we made our way to their house to wait out the weather.

Photo courtesy of AL.com

Others weren't so lucky. Thousands of cars were stranded on the interstates because of wrecks and running of gas. Thousands slept in their cars or walked miles to gas stations and hotels. Many were totally unprepared, again, not because we are dumb asses, but because it was totally unexpected. A woman I know who is eight months pregnant and has two very young children had to abandon her van and walk miles to shelter. Cars slid off roads and into icy ravines and streams. A Good Samaritan helping push cars out of the roadway disappeared, and was found twelve hours later, barely conscious, in a ravine unable to move because his back was broken. Almost 12,000 students in Alabama had to spend the night in their schools away from their parents (many of whom were stranded on those icy interstates). God bless those teachers and administrators who stayed with them. Curtis couldn't leave his office in downstairs Birmingham, so he spent the night there, scavenging change from the car for vending machine food. A brain surgeon walked six miles to a hospital to perform surgery. A mother gave birth in her home when the ambulance crashed on its way to get her. 

Photo courtesy of AL.com

Photo courtesy of AL.com

And then people, not from my state, not understanding the graveness of the situation at hand, started poking fun at us. They embraced every stereotype available and concluded that we were overreacting to a little bit of snow because we are dumb and Southern. They said, "Suck it up" and "You don't even know what snow is" and "No one died". Most recent numbers show that five died in my state, including a two-year-old child in a 7-car crash. My blood boiled. My heart hurt. We are not the punchline of a joke. The internet has made it so easy to make a meme from a random photograph. Without the context, we look like fools, of course, but with the context, these people looked like major dicks. Being away from my home for 48 hours without a computer gave me a lot of time to stew about these things. I'm over it now, and I realize that most people (myself included) are often guilty of "open mouth, insert foot" disease. We say things without thinking. We make jokes at the expense of others. We paint with broad brushes. I am thankful that in the midst of all the chaos, we still had so may heartwarming stories to tell of the"snow angels" who helped out in the crisis. Hotel managers. Facebook pages created to help stranded motorists. Warming shelters. An icy dog rescue.


TL;DR summary: Snow can bring out the best and worst in people. Make sure it brings out your best. And, I'm really, really happy to be home. And I like links. A lot.

Photo courtesy of AL.com

Monday, January 27, 2014

Perspective


I loved this photo, but purposely didn't include it in last week's post because I feel like it perfectly illustrates what I wanted to write about today. When Curtis said he wanted to take my photograph in front of this crevice, I wasn't entirely convinced. It was just ugly and plain to me. But through the eyes of the camera (and the photographer), it was a great shot. In reality Curtis was about 8 feet away from me. I'm not sure how he managed to make it look like I was in the mouth of some far off cave, but he did. It's all about perspective.

Perspective is one of those words I understand, but can't easily define (Irony is another. And I call myself an English teacher!).  I'm not intending to give you a lesson on perspective in art or photography, though the basic ideas are the same. I'm working through personal perspective today. I found a definition that I thought neatly summed up what I was struggling with- "true understanding of the relative importance of things." My husband and I have been arguing about a dog lately. I really want one and he really does not. Neither one of us is backing down, so we've been butting heads pretty often; including me giving him the silent treatment for most of the day on our anniversary.

That's not something I am proud of, but it's the truth. I am stubborn as a mule, and when Curtis feels strongly about something, he is just as hard-headed. But as I get older, I recognize the importance of compromise, not just in marriage but it all areas of my life. Compromising doesn't mean you've lost the "fight"; it means you are willing to see another's perspective and point-of-view. Compromise is proof of maturity, not giving in.

I don't want you to tell me the pros and cons of bringing a dog into our household. I am realistic enough to understand how much work and time goes into taking care of a new dog, while being soft enough to be melted by the sweet eyes of the perfect pooch. I'm not sure where this will end, but I do know that no matter what we, this marriage, this family, are a team. This dumb tiff about a pet helped me gain a new perspective on my marriage, and as I tried to see things through Curtis's eyes, it also gave me a new perspective on my husband. He doesn't put his foot down to hurt me or make me mad, but he wants what he thinks is best for the whole family, not just what's fun or cute. I'm thankful to have such a grounded person in my life, to keep me on the ground when I'm at risk of floating away on my "apple pie in the sky" dreams.

Friday, January 24, 2014

What I Wore: Hiking a "Mountain"

While in Helen, Curtis and I traveled to Unicoi State Park to hike up to Anna Ruby Falls, a double waterfall in the park. I am admittedly not very athletic, but even I could handle the easy 1/2 hike up the mountain. I don't want to bore you, but I did want to share just a few pictures. I am just fascinated by waterfalls. Is it just me?

The waterfalls are actually two separate rivers converging. How cool is that?
You've seen this basic outfit formula on the blog before; it's pretty much my winter time uniform when I'm not dressed up for work. The boots may not have exactly been perfect for hiking but the easy, paved walkway handled things just fine (you know it's not real hiking when it's a paved road with benches along the way)!


I'm wearing a couple of new Premier pieces from the brand new spring line. I can't decide which is my favorite yet! If you want to check out the new catalog, you can follow this link here (the access code is KATIE).  I decided to buy myself jewelry this year as an anniversary/early Valentine's Day gift, since Curtis isn't much for jewelry shopping!



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Visiting Helen

As mentioned in my last post, we visited Helen, Georgia over the weekend. We stayed in the Heidi Motel, an adorably quaint and nostalgic inn complete with a full-sized windmill. Even though it was a little colder than I would have preferred, the hotel was so centrally located that we were able to walk anywhere we wanted. Oh, and our room had a full-size hot tub. Inside the room. Just for us. So awesome!


A view of our hotel and the windmill

Our first full day of sightseeing involved A LOT of eating (mostly German food) and walking the streets. I love how completely committed the town was to the whole Bavarian village theme. All of the building facades were carved or painted. The alleys lead to cute, hidden shops and restaurants. It was really just a very enchanting little town. It was perfect for reconnecting and relaxing with my husband.

A souvenir shop on Main St


A restaurant hidden down a cute alley

Small park located on Main St with waterfall and gazebo

I stayed warm and toasty in this fun printed coat from Forever 21. I only packed jeans and long sweaters and coats. I knew I wouldn't have to get super dressed up for any of the places we went. I've been looking for a printed coat like this, and it is on a major sale right now, so if you've been on the hunt, snatch it up. I'd also recommend sizing up because 1. it's Forever 21 and 2. the coat has very little stretch to the fabric.

Coat- Forever21+ (Huge Sale, Buy Here)
Jeans- Old Navy (Buy Here)
Boots- Breckelles (Buy Here)




Monday, January 20, 2014

What I'm Wearing Right Meow: ASOS Kitty Cardigan

When Curtis and I decided to pool together the money we usually spend on Christmas gifts for each other and instead take a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary, visions of exotic beaches and tropical dreams danced in my head. But our budget was much more pedestrian, and we settled for a short trip into North Georgia.

Everything was planned- substitute teachers booked, hotel room reserved, grandmothers on the stand-by for Sean, and then things started happening. Expensive, annoying things. My car broke down. My laptop stopped working. A camera lens was dropped and broken. I finally shattered my phone's screen. Just one expensive thing after another. But we decided to forge on, because nothing stops love, right? Well, and the hotel room rate was one of those non-refundable internet deals. So, I told Curtis to take a look at out house and say good-bye because I assumed one of three things would happen- 1. Our house would be broken into, 2. Our house wold burn down, or 3. One of our cats would be dead when we got back. Although I guess if the house burned down, then the cats would die regardless, but let's not be morbid.

In fact, I was so certain of impending doom that I waited until I got home before I started working on this post. Just to be sure, I wasn't prophetic. Knock on wood, y'all.

One requirement of this second honeymoon was that we didn't want to travel more than six hours away from our home. We had lots of options, but they were all things we had done before- beaches, mountains, historic old towns. When someone half-kiddingly suggested Helen, Georgia, my interests were piqued. Helen's been around since before the Georgia gold rush, but by the late 1960s, it was a town in decline. Then they decided to give it a little "makeover" and turned this nondescript blip on the map into an old-fashioned German mountain town. I'm not sure how authentic it is, but it sure is cute! I'm going to share more photos from our trip (and outfits!) later this week, but today I wanted to show you my traveling outfit.

When riding or driving for hours at a time, I want layers, stretchy pants, shoes I can kick off, and a sweater that can double as a blanket for napping in the car. Not while driving, of course! This "coatigan" from ASOS fit the bill perfectly! You may have seen me talking about it on Facebook- the price was great, but I didn't think it would fit me because it didn't come in plus size. I got the largest one they had and crossed my fingers. It fits like a dream- I am totally in love with it. It is so soft and warm, and it's a friggin' cat print! Get it now while they still have it!


Cardigan- ASOS (Buy Here)
Jeans- Old Navy (Buy Here)
Booties- Cato's (Similar Here)




Necklace- Premier Designs Spring Line (Website Here)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Story: A Vlog, Y'all!

So, I felt really bad for not posting today and decided to share this gem with you. Back when I was getting my Masters degree, we had to create a video about "our story." I worked SOOOO unbelievably hard on this (though my sister-in-law probably worked harder because she had to actually put it together) and though it's goofy, and my accent is just cringe-inducing, I thought you might enjoy seeing a different side of me!

If not, I apologize....

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Red Coats are Coming!

When I bought this Old Navy coat back in November, I wasn't sure that I would get much wear out of it. Winters here in the south are typically fairly mild, and this blanket-style coat is much heavier than anything I've previously owned (though I admit, if you live somewhere that experiences real winter weather it's probably a laughable interpretation of a coat!). However, when temperatures dropped down into the single digits for us last week, I was happy I had such a big coat to cuddle up in!

Coat- Old Navy (some colors still available)
Sweater- Coldwater Creek (similar here)
Jeans- Old Navy (buy here)
Booties- Target (similar here)

Curtis and I entertained ourselves on the coldest night by throwing boiling hot water into the air and watching it vaporize. Apparently this is really dangerous and shouldn't be tried at home, but Curtis was gleeful and doing his best Jesse Pinkman (I love you Aaron Paul!). While we had no snow on the ground, it was cold enough that school was delayed a couple of hours each day. Sleeping in was wonderful, especially since this was our first week back from Christmas break. But today it's back to the same old, same old. The weather is balmy. The school will open at 7:30AM. And throwing boiling hot water in the air will most definitely result it boiling hot scalds.

"Rooted" Necklace (on bottom) from Premier Designs
Apple Necklace- Gift from Megan at Ginger Snaps!

But this coat? It will remain awesome. Of course, it's sold out at Old Navy in this awesome burgundy/maroon/wine/oxblood color, but there are lots of other options available online right now, so if you are interested, check out the links below!!


DKNY Coats · Sam Edelman Coats · ModCloth Coats

Since it's the beginning of a new year, I am also including a link to my disclosure page, just so you can have a heads' up on how I use affiliate links on the blog! Thanks!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What's in My Bag- Winter Edition

Maybe it's my naturally nosy nature, but I love "What's in My Bag" posts from other bloggers. I just like to see what they carry around- do I have it; do I need it? So I decided to post the contents of my own purse for any of you who may be interested!

In 4th grade, I was nicknamed "Mary Poppins" because I carried a pretty impressive amount of crap in my little useless 4th-grade purse. Now I liken myself unto Hermione Granger and her beaded bag with an Undetecetable Extension Charm! I just like to be prepared for any occasion that may arise!


The Bag- Old Navy (out of stock, similar here and under $30!) I bought this bag back in September or October and I love it. While this color is sold out, it is available in Black and Snake Print still)

Owl Wallet- Gift (similar here) This wallet was a gift from a student. She knows how much I love owls and I was really excited to get such a thoughtful gift!

Day Planner- I'm just an old-fashioned pen and paper kinda girl, I guess. And a cute kitty doesn't hurt!
Gum- Sometimes school lunches are not kind!

Cheap Sunglasses- Old Navy (similar) At any given time, I literally have ten pair of sunglasses all over the place. I am the worst about losing/breaking/forgetting my sunglasses, so I buy them cheap (and lots of them).

Make-up Bag- Forever 21 (similar)- My purse would be twice as messy if I didn't contain all my odds and ends in a cute make-up bag. It is currently holding five tubes of lipstick, three lip balms, a pair of tweezers, nail clippers, eyeshadow, eye drops, and probably a couple of stray bobby pins.

Hand Cream and Esos Lip Balm- What can I say? My make-up bag was full!

Perfume and Hand Sanitizer- Bath and Body Works- I LOVE the way this Forever Red Vanilla Rum perfume smells. So yummy!

Catalog and Earrings- Premier Designs (My website is here) It's not unusual for me to have extra jewelry floating around in my bag. I forget to take my jewelry out when I take it off to work-out.

Change Purse- Burt's Bees (Buy Here) All of my extra change goes into a piggy bank for Sean

Why You're So Awesome book- Gift (Buy Here) My best friend and I bought each other these precious books for Christmas. It was so fun to fill out a book for her, and I loved reading what she had to say about me. When I am super stressed or feeling low I like to pull out the book and flip through a couple of pages. It instantly brightens my day!

Chocolate and SK Energy Drink- If I'm still feeling low, then I am not above chugging an energy drink or indulging in my favorite chocolate! This is also handy when I am having that mid-afternoon energy slump :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Fashion Wants: Red Boots

When I started blogging way back in 2011, I also started a list of clothing items I wanted. Most of the items on the list were pieces I coveted from other bloggers. I still have the list. In fact, it is never-ending; each time one item gets marked off, two seem to take its place. Like many of you, one of my early favorite bloggers was Kendi from Kendi Everyday. She's pretty much what every blogger aspires to be. And, boy, oh boy, did I aspire to own her deep red boots!
Sweater- Motherhood Maternity (old, similar here)
Jeans- Old Navy (Buy Here)
Boots- Breckelle's Berry Alabama Boots (Buy here)
Scarf- New York & Co. (old, similar here)

These boots have alluded me for 3 seasons now. Firstly, the original boots were years old, and no longer available, by the time I set eyes on them. Secondly, similar boots were way out of my price range. I completely understand the thinking behind getting a good (albeit expensive) pair of real leather boots- they last for years, get better with age, etc., but I just have this mental block about spending more than $50 on any single item. I just can't do it, not on a teacher's salary with thousands in debt. Yes, I could save and put aside money for months, and maybe one day I will, but for now, I am loving these Breckelle's boots I got a couple of weeks ago.


They aren't exactly what I had in mind, but for now, they are great. I have bemoaned this fact on Facebook and Twitter before: because of my size, I am both too fat for most regular boots and too thin (ha! It's funny to write that- is there a better describer?) for wide calf boots. So I always look for boots with some breathing room on the backside, a little bit of stretch, and the back of these babies is just perfect!


If you are looking for your own pair of boots, I've including the links below. There's something for every price range (even the price range I can't afford!) and calf size.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Not Another New Year's Resolution

I'm totally stealing the idea for this blog post from Blogher's main page on New Year's Day. I was intrigued by Jenna Sauber's post "In 2014, I Won't..." and decided I would share my own anti-resolutions. Like rules, resolutions are meant to be broken. I think every year for the past 15 years I have resolved to eat better and work out more! And how long does that last?


So, here goes. In 2014 I won't....

* Eat breakfast at McDonald's every weekday morning

* Wait until 6:00 A.M. to pick out my outfit for the day

* Stay in my pajamas all day on Saturday and Sunday

Jewelry- Premier Designs 

I also won't....

* Listen to the negative voice in my head, telling me I'm too old or too fat or too whatever. Even the most outwardly confident gal has inner demons she has to deal with!

* Forget my priorities- family first, then everything else

Sweater Dress- Thrifted (similar here and here)
Cardigan- Eloquii (similar here and here)
Boots- Avenue (Buy here)
What do you think? Are anti-resolutions the new thing? What are your anti-resolutions? Share in the comments please!
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