back to school

Hello, my name is Mrs. Parton, and I am an English teacher.*
*Childish lunch box - with Goldfish and juice box - not pictured.

Today was our first day back! It went really smoothly, despite my apprehension. Because of our last-minute trip to NY last week, I kept feeling like I wasn't really prepared. I missed some meetings and didn't have as much time in the classroom as I would have liked, but I ended up being more prepared than I thought! I guess the fact that this is my 4th year at PCA probably helped a bit.

My friend Maria (hey, Maria!) recently started doing her "Weekly Wish List" - and I love this idea, so I'm obviously stealing it. Maria writes that she wants to document goals for the week: "things I am looking forward to, dreading, want to accomplish, etcetera." As some of my readers may know, I'm a big list person (hello, Type A syndromes). I also love resolutions and goals, so this is right up my alley. I don't know that I'll share these on the blog each week, but when I remember, I probably will.

So! This week, I wish...

[1] to memorize the names of my freshman class. I'm decent with names, and there are only 22 of them, so hopefully this will be easy.

[2] to mail Emily some cookies. Oops, I hope she's not reading this because I really like surprises and want her to be surprised.

[3] to finish The Sun Also Rises. Last "summer" book. Sigh.

[4] to get my new contract signed & update the school website. Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm the new school webmaster? Yeah, I am. Not really sure what I'm getting myself into.

[5] to finish memorizing Psalm 121. My grandma is an inspiration.

Oh - one more for this week.

[6] to blog about our trip to Chicago! Life got a little hectic after we got back from this trip, but it was definitely a blog-worthy experience.

Okay - what are YOUR weekly goals?!
Come on, peeps - jump on the list bandwagon.

AND just because I'm feeling ambitious - I'll share my goal for the ENTIRE school year! This is a big one, folks.

My goal for the 2011-2012 school year is to leave the house every morning by 7:05am.

I was going to say 7am, but let's not get crazy.


seeing God

During times of trial and pain, people often wonder where God is. Now, I'm no theologian, and my faith certainly waivers because of my fickle heart, but I just wanted to share a few places that I've seen God so far during the past week.

- God is in Grandma's lack of injuries.
- God is in the fact that Grandpa was not killed immediately.
- God is in my family not being injured while getting Gram & Gramps out of the house.
- God is in my family living next door.
- God is in how fast Gramps was taken care of - how quickly ambulances & helicopters responded.
- God is in the love that the Bannister family has surrounded one another with - buying clothes for Gram, bringing food to the hospital, hosting meals for those visiting the hospital, phone calls, emails, hugs, tears, love from far away...
- God is in the love that has been showered upon the Bannister family.
- God is in the masses of prayers that are going up from people who don't even know Grandpa.
- God is in random messages from people I haven't talked to in years, telling me they're praying and thinking of my family.
- God is in Aunt Lynnie's discovery of something important we thought had been lost among the rubble.
- God is in Gram memorizing Psalm 121 and encouraging her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren throughout everything.
- God is in little smiles that Grandpa has given visitors.
- God is in a good night's rest.

God is sustaining. In the good and the bad, he is sovereign. This list is only a glimpse of the ways God has shown himself to me this week.

My sweet family members -
what evidences of God's grace have you seen?

Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
-Job 1:21



So, it seems a little ridiculous to follow up the post about my Grandpa with a silly before&after hair picture, but I promised a couple people I would do a blog post to unveil my haircut. We got back from New York around 3pm on Thursday, and I had a haircut at 5pm. I felt like an insane person - lying there, getting my hair washed while the rest of my family was sitting in a hospital waiting room. As Marla wrote, "when things like this happen, you walk around in a haze. wondering how the world can just go on. wondering how i can just go on. but life goes on. and i go on. but there is a lump in my throat that never fully goes away." I think more than ever, this week has taught me what it really means to "pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17). The report on Grandpa was good this morning - it sounds like he will hopefully be off the ventilator in a day or two. Pray for continued progress!

All that being said - here is my "before" shot.
As you can see from my expression, I don't really know what's going on. I was debating chopping all my hair off. Split ends are out of control. It's a hot mess.

This is what I call my "unsure smile" - I think I like it, but it does make me look like a 12-year old. I chickened out at the very last second and decided just to chop my bangs instead. At least the split ends are gone!


too deep for words.

My grandparents were in an accident yesterday morning - a propane tank blew up in their house. My grandma was not injured, but my grandpa was flown to the hospital and remains in guarded condition. Please pray for him. Pray for my grandma. Pray for their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Pray for family members who are unable to make it home to be with family. Pray for my sister who leaves for her first year of college tomorrow and is still traumatized by the experience. Pray, pray, pray.

I have been clinging to Romans 8:26: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know what we ought to pray for, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words..."

Below are some of the news reports with more information about the accident.


ode to summer

Work starts again for me on Monday. I'm always astonished by how quickly the summer flies by. I was talking with someone the other day and mentioned that the month of August is like a Sunday night - you know school is looming. Some of the distinct warning signs of summer's close...

1. Peaches. Sweet, sweet peaches & nectarines - the taste of summer & sunshine.

2. Realizing you need to change into jeans & a sweatshirt for that bonfire at night.

3. Fresh corn on the cob.

4. The hum of cicadas.

5. Crayon boxes and notebooks and pencils and erasers and packages of paper lining the aisles of grocery stores.

6. Premature orange and yellow leaves peppering otherwise green trees.

So, we try to make the most of our dwindling days by grilling as often as possible & enjoying as much fresh produce as possible!
[peach blueberry cobbler]
[chipotle pork wraps... yummm]

What signifies the end of summer to you, and how are you enjoying it??

i'd like to call back summertime
have her stay for just another month or so
but she's got the urge for going
so i guess she'll have to go
-joni mitchell


cake pops!

The other night we went over to Maria & Troy's for game night & cake pops! Maria had a lovely display of her delicious cake pops: salted caramel and spice, oreo, and my favorite, strawberry cheesecake. Yummm!

When I offered to bring something and Maria told me the theme was "cake pops", I got really excited because I've never made them before and now I had an excuse to make them! I looked up Bakerella for some inspiration and was a little overwhelmed, but still determined. Mine didn't have to look awesome, I just wanted to be able to say I'd made cake pops!

As it turns out, cake pops aren't nearly as difficult as I had thought they might be. You bake a cake. Cool the cake. Break it up into little chunks. Mix frosting into it. Roll into balls and let chill for awhile. Put a stick in it. Chill for even longer. Decorate as desired.

After browsing the internet, I realized that I had missed my opportunity to celebrate National S'mores Day, and realized that s'more cake pops might be delightful! So I decided to create my own.

I had originally planned on using a box mix of white cake and making my own marshmallow frosting to stir in, but time was of the essence, so I just used a can of vanilla frosting (for shame, I know...). I do think the mallow frosting would have contributed a little more to the s'more effect, but they turned out pretty well.

Coated them in candy melts, sprinkled on some graham cracker crumbs and topped with cut up mallows and tiny Hershey chunks.

Although they were tasty, I have to admit... I would still take a regular ole s'more over these any day!


getting old & things that embarrass my mom

You know those moments when you realize, oh my word - I'm getting old? Don't get me wrong, I like to think that 26 is still pretty young. But there are still those things that make childhood seem forever behind you. Things like paying a mortgage. Getting your first real paycheck. Thinking to yourself, teenagers today...

For me, one of those things is coupons and grocery shopping. I don't know what it is, but seeing little deductions from the original price on my receipt and coming home to organize my produce and cans and boxes... there's something immensely satisfying in that.

Now, I'm not a crazy coupon-clipper - I'd like to be one of those women who find amazing deals that allows them to get 14 boxes of tampons for free and 5 cases of toilet paper for 20 cents. Not quite there yet. However, I have recently started to compare prices at our two closest grocery stores - Kroger & Meijer. Meijer almost always wins, but every once in awhile there is a weekly special at Kroger that ends up being cheaper. Yes, teenagers of America - roll your sarcastic little eyes because I have become one of those. My grocery shopping takes me to different stores. I look forward to aggravating my children with this practice in the future.

Getting excited about a good deal is just thrifty, right? Not old.

Anyway, on the way home from the grocery store today, I was at a 2-way stop, waiting for traffic to clear, when a big black SUV (by the way, thanks Mariska Hargitay - now I have to pause and think to make sure I'm using the right acronym...) pulled into the left turn lane, obstructing my view of traffic coming from the left. Rude. In an act that surely would have appalled my mother, I threw up my left arm in a very obvious signal of exasperation, and to top it off, shook my head in annoyance. I'm sorry, Mom - I know that if I had done that to a ref at a soccer game, you would have been mortified. But... the dude backed up his car. Yeah, that's right.

(Is another sign of aging exasperated driving? Or is that just the 'burbs getting to me?)


girls' night, aka extreme geocache

I've been in a small group of girls (I still struggle to refer to myself and females my age as "women"...) for the past 3 and a half-ish years. The group has changed a bit since I first started, but what's been constant is the love and support and accountability and FUN!

Last night we had girls' night, and in the words of my dear friend Andrea, "It started with margaritas and ended with rabies."

We began our evening together at Ellie's house - bean & guacamole dip, grilled pineapple, chicken fajitas, luscious sunshine and a cool breeze on the deck, conversations both deep and silly... As we were wrapping up dinner, tummies content, Ellie asked, "So... what should we do?!" Katy, ever the adventurer, excitedly exclaimed, "Let's go geocaching!"

After explaining what "geocaching" was to some of our group (Wait, so there will be a box? How does the box get there? Is it a treasure hunt? Are there prizes?), we decided a leisurely walk and casual search for a geocache would be pleasant. After some outfit changing ("I wore my sparkly skirt for girls' night!"), we doused ourselves in bug spray, grabbed flashlights and headed out the door, into the woods of... suburbia.

Slight oversight on our part - our daylight was rapidly waning. As it turns out, geocaching is significantly more difficult in the dark.

We crossed the street and entered the park, following our coordinates into a small patch of trees, at which point a bat swooped down approximately 4 inches from my face, prompting multiple screams and frenzied running and covering heads. We eventually got to the point where the geocache should have been and looked high and low, to no avail.

By this time, having endured multiple mosquito bites and a near bat attack, we decided to press on and look up another geocache. Almost two-tenths of a mile away. Psh. That was nothing to our fearless...ish troop. We got to the next location and again, were unable to locate anything! We looked up the next location, which was a quarter of a mile away, back past the house. We decided to make a pit stop at the house, re-apply bug spray, and perhaps get some refreshment in the form of ice cream. On the way back, we got honked at by a passerby. Yeah, girls' night!

Refueled, we stepped back out with dauntless resolve - the third time would surely be the trick! We crossed the street. We stumbled through dewy grass. We trekked across... the hospital parking lot. Behind the hospital is a marshy, swampy... pond? There were a few sections where our path went through some undergrowth and low-hanging branches, at which point we started giggling because here we were in the middle of Canton, fighting through random bushes between the hospital and the library. We were about to cut through a playground when a scampering creature caught our attention. No big deal - it's a skunk.

Now, as you may remember, our household has had a run-in with a skunk before. And I was not about to be the one getting hosed down and taking a tomato bath in yard in the dark. Suffice to say, there was much panicking. I will admit it, folks - I nearly abandoned our quest. But we watched the little fella scamper into his wooden & plastic playground kingdom (to quote Patti, "If I were a skunk, I would totally live here at night") and still pressed on. Back through the parking lot. We got a little turned around. Our coordinates led us to the edge of the parking lot ("The cameras are totally picking us up - we are going to be on the news tomorrow. Have you seen these women? Local small group arrested for trespassing..."). Again, we searched high and we searched low, and...

We found nothing.

We endured vicious, blood-sucking mosquitoes. We battled potentially rabid swooping bats. We withstood sketchy, ogling drivers. We struggled through hidden, flip-flop eating mud holes. We ran like babies from skunks.

All this, and no geocache.

The good news is - I think it's a memory we will not soon forget. And, being extreme geocachers, we do not quit that easily. We plan to revisit these spots to find the goods... in the daylight.
L-R: Katy, Patti, Ellie, Andrea, me, Mandy


photos of a wonderful week


[1] country mornings = old barns + queen anne's lace
[2] karalyn grace! meeting katie's pretty little lady.
[3] sparkling dew drops in the peach orchard.
[4] trees full of ripe & ripening peaches =
[5] yum. this is what summer tastes like.
[6] take a last look at this house color!
[7] emily helps with the scraping
[8] dad & jayne power washing in the lift.
[9] gorgeous sunset on the way to manda's
[10] cute kitchen all set up for milk & cookie party!
[11] manda's adorable mini chalk boards
[12] happily obeying the chalk board instructions!
[13] photo stolen from marla. so blessed to have such awesome cousins!

catching up with family/friends.
corn on the cob.
austrian meals.
little bannister kiddos.
so, so much love.

i love western ny.


numbered list of awesome 5

1. Afternoons spent sewing & puppy watching: the soft whir of the needle, the sporadic twitching of puppy paws, the sigh Zooey emits when she flops to the ground...

2. Homemade salsa via Brown Eyed Baker. Yum! The recipe is super easy and tastes amazing. My next step will be making salsa that I can ... can. In other words, I would like to make salsa that I am able to can. Whatever. You get it, right?

3. Homemade Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls. Or, in my case - Peanut Butter Pretzel Globs.
Oh my. Oh my goodness. Doug, I am so sorry, but these are AMAZING. I had to change the font size. That's how good they are. The peanut butter. The chocolate. The salty crunch. It's the kind of treat where, after you eat one, you keep thinking about how amazing it tastes and the thought of that delectableness keeps interrupting your thoughts throughout the afternoon. Not ringing a bell? That's just my gluttony speaking? I dare you to give these bad boys a try.
Momentary interruption while I mop the drool from my keyboard...

4. Making jewelry again. It's been awhile! Pictured below: Katy's birthday gift.

6. Sara spending not one, but TWO nights! That means long walks (with a pit stop at Coldstone, of course [banana&pb ice cream w/ pb cups and fudge]), non-stop conversation, a lot of laughter, and oh-so-much fun.

7. Thinking about opening an Etsy shop? Maybe? For stuff like this?

8. Going home this weekend! Getting to hang out with my family & maybe help with some painting??

9. Getting to meet Katie & Ryan's daughter, Karalyn Grace!

10. This pup. Currently passed out on the floor because our time at the dog park was soooo exhausting.

Alright, off to eat more pb pretzel globs pack for New York!

11. This video!


why orphans?

Exodus 22:22 * Deuteronomy 10:18 * Deuteronomy 24:17-21
Deuteronomy 27:19 * Psalm 10:14 * Psalm 68:5 * Psalm 82:3

Psalm 146:9 * Isaiah 1:17 * Jeremiah 22:3 * Zechariah 7:10
Malachi 3:5 * James 1:27
John 14:8

video: Why Orphans? from World Orphans

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real life conversations, pt. 13

I won't disclose which person in our marriage said this:*

"I wonder what would happen if you ran urine through a Brita filter."

*Hint: It wasn't me.

babysitting brady

My friend Maria just got a new puppy, and luckily for me, Brady sometimes needs a babysitter. However... Zooey has remained a bit... skeptical about the newest kid on the block. The quality of the following pictures is awful, but the expressions on Zooey's face are still abundantly and hilariously clear.
Not impressed.
Zooey eventually flopped on the floor and tried to act casual... without much success.
In the meantime, I tried to sneak a few more pictures of Brady while Zooey wasn't looking.
By the end of their time together, Zooey had just sort of accepted that Brady was present and tried to ignore him. But guess what, Zoo? Good news - Brady's coming over again tomorrow!