2009 in Retrospect

January: My Lover turned 22!  It's so strange that we've been together since he was 18.  :-]

February: My handsome nephew turned 1.  I am already feeling like I shouldn't be keeping track because he is getting big so fast.  I want my little baby to stay my little baby!

March:  Josh and I took our first trip together: Florida!  He treated me to the trip for my 21st birthday and because it was time for him to meet Dad.  We spent 10 days in the warmest weather and enjoyed the time together.

April:  I blame it on the plane trip back home while Josh thought they were just a really bad case of acne, but Josh got a case of the Chicken Pox and man, were they horrible!  I felt so bad for him because he said he was in sooo much pain.  But, I was afraid of catching them for the third time, so we kept our distance for a few days.

May:  This is when I was introduced to the blogging world.  I must admit, it is actually very fun and interesting looking back at all of this!  :-] 

June:  Josh and I bought our first pair of rollerblades together and were never home.  We were literally rollerblading night and day, rain or shine.  This was one of our best investments.  We found that rollerblading acted as an activity and something that brought us closer. 

July:  Our first Yankees baseball game!  This was very interesting because in Chicago, our lives were being threatened by wearing Yankees gear!

August:  We celebrated our 4th anniversary!  This is really fun because we recreated our first date: ate at the same restaurant, same table, and wore close to the same thing.  Four years down and we're still in love as ever.

September:  Last semester of school was ready to be tackled.  Not only that, but I tackled 1 and a half months worth of P90X . . . before I got busy with school.

October:  A friend from work married the man of her dreams.  This year was pretty full of weddings.  When will it be my turn?  Hmm . . .

November:  After months of stress, money-saving, and anxiety, Josh's car finally started to run again!  After all of the money and time Josh spent on his car, he's officially a professional car-fixer!  :-]

December:  After a long awaited 3 and a half years, I became a college graduate with 2 degrees under my belt!  Now, onto spitting out for 4 classes and I'll be a Social Worker. 

Posted byAshley C. at 3:31 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Party of one

Here I sit with a bowl of popcorn, a 7-up, and a couple cookies.  By myself.  And I must admit it is very refreshing and relaxing.  I am just excited about being able to stay up late tonight (by myself) and catch up on all of my Internet "stuff."  Feels good. 
Can you all believe it is almost 2010?!  It really feels as though 2009 just began.  I remember when the New Year first began and I was looking forward to all that I thought was going to happen.  The only thing that happened that I was looking forward to was an early graduation.  No engagement, no new car, no new body, no finished scrapbooks.  It's can seem a bit depressing to look back and see everything that did not happen.  But come to think of it, there are plenty of things that happened that I did not intend on happening.  For example, I have made a couple close girlfriends this semester at school, I have learned what it means to begin loving my body for what it is, I have been introduced to the blogging world.  I am more grateful for those things that did happen than I am upset about the things that didn't happen.  I think this whole year has been about learning about me.  It has been a very exciting year and I do not think I would change anything about it.
What are my New Year's resolutions, goals, etc.?  Well, I'm not quite sure because last year I made all of these resolutions and did not meet any of them.  I kind of think that setting a "goal" for the heck of it (or because everyone else is doing the same thing) makes it that much easier to abandon.  But, I must admit, there is something about a whole new calendar year that makes you feel that you can conquer the world and achieve any goal you set before yourself.  If you think about it though, God gave us night and day and the chance for a renewal each day.  If you look at it that way, you have 365 chances of starting over.  If you look at each week as a chance to start over, well you have 52 chances.  If you look at months, you have 12 chances.  But, if you look at years, you only have one chance; I think that's one of the main reasons people fail at their resolutions so easily.  Once they slip-up, they (we) think "Too bad, now I have to start over next year."  And if you slipped up January 1st . . . that's not good!  One thing that I have to learn to remember is that God is there every day, every minute, every hour; He is there, waiting to forgive you and encourage you to move forward.  If you ask God to give you the energy and focus, you can do all things!  But, if you go on and try to achieve your goals without consulting Him or asking His Spirit to strengthen you, odds are you're going to fail.  The Spirit is our strength . . . and that's not just for no reason.  God knows we are vulnerable and easy to manipulate so that's why there is a Trinity and not only God and Jesus.  Ask Him!

So . . . if you all didn't notice, this is my 100th post!  That's really exciting!  I have not written as much as I'd wish I did, but hey, it's a start!  I came across a website that allows you to turn your blog into a book . . . as I was telling another person, I think it would be cool to print my blogs at the end of every year in order to preserve them and use them as a portal for my children to get to know me in ways they weren't able to after I'm old and gone.  :-]  So, that's just what I'm going to do.  I think it will even be fun for me to look back at my daily adventures, thoughts, and struggles. 
Well, off I go to finish my popcorn and cookies.  So, to close up, I'm wondering . . . What are your New Year's resolutions and what gives you strength in your attempts?

Posted byAshley C. at 10:13 PM 0 Love Notes  

Poor, Poor Photos

For Christmas, my Lover bought me Photoshop, which I have been asking for for a long while now.  I also got a new point-and-shoot camera that I wanted (in the Nikon family, but not the DSLR that I was asking for).  I love this new camera and the quality of the pictures that it takes.  Well, I have really been thinking seriously about photos, editing, etc.  One day, I really hope to take good quality photos for family and friends (and get paid for it!).  So, I have wanted Photoshop so that I can start to get a feel of it before I purchase a DSLR and start editing those photos. 
Anyway, I have a dilemma here: I have found it very necessary to start tossing out some pictures.  I need to wean away from collecting all of the photos that I take.  I have literally hundreds and hundreds of pictures on my computer (half of which are not edit-able, very poor quality, etc.) that I do not need.  This makes me really sad.  Remember me talking about throwing away cards from people?  This is like 1 billion times worse.  I really hate to throw away pictures, but if I really think about it, I only treasure those really good, clear, fun pictures.  What use do the blurry photos have?  So . . . over the next few days, I am cleaning up files. Eeek!  After cleaning up pictures, I am going to go through and edit all of my photos.  Whew.  That'll be pretty crazy.  But it will teach my Photoshop and help me learn different techniques and styles.  I guess it's pretty exciting, but sad at the same time. 

Posted byAshley C. at 1:54 PM 0 Love Notes  

Wardrobe redo

I guess now that I am a college graduate, that makes me a "grown woman."  Josh's sister, Tiffany told me the other day that I need to start adding things to my "professional wardrobe."  She didn't mean it in a mean way, just telling me that I should dress professional now (or something like that haha!).  So, for Christmas, Tiffany and their brother, Micah bought me a bunch of gift cards to nice clothing stores. 
I guess when it comes to clothes, I am a very simple chick; I like jeans and a plain shirt.  I like to be comfortable and plain shirts make me feel most comfortable.  I don't like those shirts with the writing all over them, frilly, too-girly stuff.  Just plain stuff.  And the cool thing about plain shirts is that you can layer and wear any fashion scarves, etc. with them.  Okay . . . as you can see, I do like plain shirts.  BUT, I think I am going to attempt to change that.  I want people to take me more seriously and I need to dress my role (whatever that means).  Over the next few months, I am going to change my wardrobe.  More nice clothes . . . no more holey jeans and plain Jane here.  I am going to try my hardest to stray away from the same ol' stores and try something new.  Hopefully this works!

Posted byAshley C. at 6:50 PM 0 Love Notes  

Selling my soul

Today Josh and I were talking about rappers and the conversation kind of took a turn to people selling their souls to the Devil.  Now, I've heard of that term before, but I asked Josh Selling your soul to the Devil?  So, how would that happen? and he just told me that they worship and give praise to the Devil.  This was interesting because Josh told me that an example of this would be someone doing this to become more successful in their careers (and in this case, some particular rapper/s).  Josh reminded me that the Enemy has "free-range" of the world; in essence, he can do whatever he wants, and I guess that those that "sell their souls to the Devil," are pretty much going to be "successful;" BUT has really come to steal, kill, and destroy.  However, Christians are protected by God.  They cannot be touched.  For everyone else, the Enemy has control over their lives and can make any move he wants (including making them "successful").  It might seem sensible to some people, but this success, wealth, or whatever else might be given is only tempoary.  It was very reassuring to hear this because it reminds me that God has promised us eternal life.  He has promised to give us a life that, although it might not be full of riches or success now, will be blessed and will live with those things for eternity.
I don't know about you, but boy am I glad to have "sold my soul to God . . . " the One and Only God!

Posted byAshley C. at 5:51 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Merry Christmas!

Graduation, Christmas, time off work, and celebrating the fact that school is over has been overwhelmingly . . . un-relaxing.  I have been so busy and feel guilty that I have not been able to visit my blog, Facebook . . . Josh.  No, I'm kidding, but really I apologize for not meeting with you all for so long.  I have literally been laying up at night, not being able to sleep thinking about all the things that I have gotten behind on.  BUT, have no fear, I'm a woman that has (almost) no chains holding her back anymore! 
By, the way, Merry Christmas to you all!  I pray that everyone sees the true meaning of Christmas and remembers the Savior that has been born to us all.  God gave His only Son to bring us life; let us celebrate Jesus' birthday today!

"The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master."

Posted byAshley C. at 12:46 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Ricobene hunt

Back in August, Josh and I went to the Taste of Chicago.  This was my first time going and it was not anything like I thought it would be; I'm not going to complain about all that we saw or that happened, because this post is supposed to be a happy, exciting one.  I kept seeing everyone walking around with these saucy, saucy, saucy hot chicken strips.  Anyone that knows me knows that I am a sucker for chicken, especially hot wings.  Anyway, we bought some chicken strips and they were one of the best tasting hot wing/chicken strips I've ever had. 
Well, ever since that day, I have been trying to recall the Chicago restaurant that was serving those because I wanted to go them some ASAP.  For some reason, I was craving them (very badly) and could not remember the name of the restaurant for the life of me.  Two days ago when I was getting ready for school . . . Ricobene's! popped in my head!  It was really weird, but I had this image of the napkin from the Taste of Chicago.  So . . . as sweet as he is, Josh agreed that he would take me this weekend.
After all of our shopping in Schaumburg, we were going to go find this Ricobene's place and eat dinner there (Shelly, our GPS, said there were about 5 locations, so it would be easy to find one with her assistance).  Well, Shelly led us to a place that no longer existed.  And again.  So, I called the number that I found for another Ricobene's . . . disconnected.  Called another location (frantic, fearful that this place was finito and as soon as they picked up the phone, Josh yells "Ricobene's!!"  We finally found it!  But, it was located in a South Chicago ghetto neighborhood.  The parking for the restuarant was located under a dark bridge so before we got out of the car, Josh literally prayed that God would keep a hedge of protection around us and bless the food we were about to eat (we pray over our food every meal, but twice for this particular one).  The inside of the restuarant was not dirty . . . the place is actually famous for their pizza, so imagine your typical pizza joint with an old, mafia feel to it (like Portillos).  The menu said nothing about chicken strips.  Yes, of course I asked about their strips and he said they weren't on the menu but they had them.  They were nothing like what I had in August.  They were not saucy, saucy, saucy.  So, before we left, I ordered more to take home, "Can I have them like extra, extra saucy? Please?"
My criminal boyfriend is my ultimate, girlfriend spoiling-best friend-sweetest criminal ever.  I do not think any other person would have been able to be that patient and persistent in trying to find this place that we weren't even sure even existed.  Another reason I love him! ;-]

So . . . graduation tomorrow, I guess.  Something like that.  Maybe I should accidentally sleep in . . .

Posted byAshley C. at 10:48 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

It was my addiction

That's it?  I've taken my last final, all homework, papers, binders are put together and I am not excited.  Not even a little.  People keep asking, "Are you excited it's over??" and of course I say yes because that's what I'm supposed to say, right? 
On the way home from school today, it hit me.  It's over.  I have mixed feelings and here's why:
Josh and I have always said that I am going to work up until we have kids; then I can stay home and raise and teach our little babies.  I'm totally all for that.  I have thought about going to Grad school and getting my Master's Degree, but why would I spend $50,000+ if I don't plan on working and actually using the Degree?  It makes more sense to get my Social Work license (which I am still doing January-May), because it enables me to actually work and make money up until having kids without spending thousands of dollars on a pretty piece of paper.  I don't mean to sound so "snoody," but I plan on being a mom for a living, so why would I continue in school?
I think that secretly, deep down inside, school is my addiction.  I feel like What's left?  I mean, I've been in school since pre-school and I've loved it.  I've been stressed at times, but I loved it.  I love feeling rushed and down to the last minute crunches, I love procrastination.  I think it was like my high.  It made me happy in some odd, strange way.  I guess the bright side is that I will have more time to work out and sleep. 
Shhh, don't tell anyone but I'm already looking at "just-for-fun" classes.

Posted byAshley C. at 2:48 PM 0 Love Notes  

My boyfriend is a criminal

Because of some amazing friends that I have made this semester, I have learned something.  My boyfriend is a criminal. 

After I got off work last night, I had to run to Barnes & Noble to get a gift for one of my friends, Ashley (an amazing friend of mine!).  I got off at 9:00 and B & N closed at 10:00.  It's a 30-minute drive and I had to run to the bank before I went.  Well, I kept telling Josh to hurry because this gift was important.  Like, very important.  He wouldn't drive faster.  The next thing I know, Josh is blabbering about some guy "waving" him on to "race."  Of course, that'll make him race., right?!  He hit the gas and took off right before our turn into the bank.  Right when we turned onto the banks street, the police chased us!  "Sir, do you know the speed limit?"  "35?"  "No, it was 40 and I clocked you going 62."  Great.  $95 ticket and a slap on the wrist . . . but not before getting another citation for having an expired insurance card.  Aye-yay-yay!  While the cop was sitting in his car writing tickets, it was 9:50 and we were still about 2 minutes away.  I was still hopeful.  We were going to get this gift card even if it costed us 2 tickets.  Well, we got to B & N at 9:58 and the doors were still unlocked!  Woo!  Talk about a nail-biting situation!  :-]  
I told Ashley that gift card actually costed us more than face-value! 

Posted byAshley C. at 6:53 PM 0 Love Notes  

No, not that ring!

Ever since Josh and I started dating, he made it clear to me that he did not want me wearing any rings.  He did not want me looking at rings.  It was not a controlling factor, just something that he expected and always seen in his future wife.  So, out of respect for him, I never did.  I didn't wear any rings, I never walked past a jewelry store turning my head, I never looked up beautiful rings online.  I wanted to be honest with him and for him to know that he can trust me with that.  Well . . . now that I have talked to the appropriate people, I can tell you this story . . .

Mom never knew this about me and Josh.  A couple weeks back when I got my graduation announcements, she was so excited about me graduating that he just had to show me my graduation gift.  I insisted, I told her that I wanted it when I graduated, that way I would have something to look forward to and be excited about.  She could not wait.  She went into her room and came back into mine with a small, beautifully wrapped gift.  Yup.  I unwrapped it and opened the box.  It was a gorgeous diamond and pink sapphire white gold ring.  I absolutely adored it!  She said that I could not have it until graduation so I thought to myself, "hmm, perfect amount of time to crack the bad news to Josh." So she wrapped it back up and hid it in her room so that no one else will know I saw it.
He wasn't happy.  At all.  He was hurt and confused as to why mom would get me a ring for graduation.  Why not the camera I've been wanting or cash?  "Did it not cross her mind that maybe that's what I wanted to get you for graduation?"  I guess it was a lose-lose situation.  If he proposed before graduation, my interest in the engagement ring would be lost with my new ring (he thinks) and if he proposed after graduation, he did not want mom to think he was trying to out-do her.  I guess I can see his frustration considering I am turning a new leaf in life and Josh wanted to celebrate that way?  Well, after a couple "arguments" about me having to wear the ring and not mentioning it to my mom, I decided I needed to talk to her about me and Josh's pact.
She took it very well.  I told her that after Josh proposes, I will only wear her ring on special occasions because I want to respect Josh by not wearing any other rings.  She said that was perfectly fine as long as she knows I like the ring . . . which I love!  She agreed that she would not be offended.

Yesterday, I got a ring!  No, not that ring, my pretty pink ring. My stepdad came into my room (while I was doing homework!) and gave me the ring (he didn't know I already knew about).  I did a good job at acting surprised! ;-]  Now, I get to wear the beautiful ring every day until I have a replacement!  I think it will be any day now . . . Hmm . . . hopefully! 

Posted byAshley C. at 5:54 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Christmas parties and homework

Am I the only one wondering where all the snow is?  Attending Christmas parties while the green grass is showing just is not the same thing as lots of snow.  This weekend, I had two Christmas parties to attend, so I've been pretty busy.  On Friday, me and Josh made some Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies and homemade hot chocolate mix for my family Christmas party.  I'm not one that likes hot chocolate, but the stuff we made was delicious!  We needed to make 10 gift things (2 for each adult couple in the family), and it was pretty funny . . . we ran out when we only had 8 made.  You know how there is always that one person in your family that . . . well, nevermind.  Theirs isn't quite "homemade." Shh.  But, I wish I had taken pictures of everything because it looked so pretty!  I was very proud of the work we did. 
Now that it's Sunday afternoon, the pain and teeth-pulling begins.  Homework.  And lots of it.  10-page paper and 14-page paper.  But hey, guess what?!  This is my last week of school!  I'm really excited because of graduation and because I will have a whole week off of work.  I thought that after 17 years of school, I deserved a little pat on the back, eh? 

Well, here's to getting all of my homework done today so that I can focus on studying for exams! 

Posted byAshley C. at 11:00 AM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Wisconson vs. Illinois

I'm not saying that I'm the best driver, but man, Wisconsin drivers, well . . . suck.  We are expecting a huge snow storm today through tomorrow that will result in 10-12 inches of snow.  I'll admit, that's a lot of snow, but what we had on the grounds as of 2 hours ago is not.  I drive about 25-30 minutes to school from Illinois to Wisconsin every day.  Lately, I have been saying how bad Wisconsin drivers are and today definitely confirmed it.
When it is snowing and the roads are salted (or slushy), what is so hard about driving in the existing tire tracks, getting off the gas when you start to slide, and keeping a decent distance between you and the car in front of you?  Nothing at all.  I do not understand why Wisconsin drivers think it's necessary to drive 15 under the speed limit when you are easily capable of going 5 over like Illinois drivers do/would.  People say that Illinois drivers are bad and that we drive dangerously and don't use our turning signals, blah, blah, blah, but hey, at least we drive!  Although, I do disagree about the dangerous driving.  I feel like I'm part of an elite club when I ride into Wisconsin with my Illinois license plates.  When someone is driving pretty well, I can spot it out and think to myself, "Hmm, I bet they're an Illinois driver."  They always are. 

I must admit, if I ever have to move to Wisconsin, I am afraid.  Very afraid.  It seems that once you have that ugly Wisconsin plate on your car, you're under some kind of curse.  I vow to never become like "them."

Posted byAshley C. at 10:43 AM 0 Love Notes  

Busy school week and a beatiful diamond ring

5 days ago.  That's when I wrote my latest blog . . . what a long time!  I haven't really had a chance to blog because it's my last week of school!  I say that with all of the excitement that my voice will allow.  I cannot believe that I am almost done.  This week is my last week, but I still have finals, so I am not totally done yet.  I have been busy writing papers, doing projects, and studying for exams. 
I don't know if I mentioned it to you all yet, but I finally got my graduation announcements in the mail!  It really made it real to me.  So, I have been thinking, I think I am going to dish out the money and get some graduation pictures done.  I am going to get a traditional cap and gown photo and one that is just fun.  The only thing about it though is that I cannot get them done until after graduation because I will not have my degree "folders" to use as props for the photos.  I really wanted to get the photos done sooner so that I can send them out with announcements the week of graduation, but it probably will not be until the first week of January.  Bummer. 

Last night, I went to my old roommate's bridal shower.  She is so stinkin' cute and full of personality.  I love that girl so much!  For a game that we played throughout the night, we all had to wear this fake (but cute) solitaire diamond ring.  All I have to say is that I kept it on my finger to show Josh, "This . . . This is it!"  Hopefully he got the message.  Speaking of which, something tells me that I won't be waiting much longer. ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 1:48 PM 0 Love Notes  

Blogger Amnesia

Okay, is this just me, or did all of the blogs I was following disappear?  This is a catastrophe!  The blogs I loved most are going to be added problem-free, but what about the other blogs that interested me?  If you know I was following your blog (whoever might be reading this), please leave me a comment because I might forget a person or two.  :-[

Posted byAshley C. at 1:06 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Classes I hate, stuff I like

It's only 11:00 a.m. and I'm already having a crazy day . . .

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, me and Josh have to share a car because we both have class those days.  The thing that stinks about it is that we start at two different times: 9:30 and 11:00, so I have to wake up earlier to show up to school early.  Well, half way to school today, "Shoot, I forgot my laptop!"  We were already about 20 minute from home and did not have enough time to run back home and Josh still make it on time for class.  I really needed my laptop because I had a group project due today and since I was showing up to school early, I was going to work on more homework.  So, when we got to the school, I had to hurry back home by myself.  My class starts at 11:00, so I wasn't in a huge rush.  I got home, grabbed my laptop and headed back to school with 30 minutes to spare.  As I was sitting waiting for class to start, I was just checking out things on the Internet, along with my student e-mail.  "Professor Colston's Research Methods class is cancelled for today."  Great. I woke up early to get to school early, forgot my laptop, wasted my study time, wasted gas to go home and grab it, and now my 11:00 class was cancelled.  Sweet.  Now, I get to sit around until 2.  I could have been at home sleeping, doing homework, eating.  Something

It should have been a warning when Josh asked me on the way to school, "Have you ever had one of those days when things just keep getting worse and you just want it to end?"  "No" I said, "I think I have only had maybe one of those days and I don't even remember it.  I think I just get upset and move on."  Hmm . . . maybe Josh is a prophet?  (p.s.: I'm still not wishing my day will end).

But, after my studying is done, I have something that I found during those amazing 30 minutes this morning: Stuff Christians Like.  If you haven't heard of something like it, there is also a book called "Stuff White People Like."  This is similar, different authors, but very similar.  It's fun and A LOT of us Christians can relate!  :-]

Posted byAshley C. at 9:11 AM 2 Love Notes