Monday, August 30, 2010


Hypothetically, if a 2-year-old who doesn't know any better keys your car in order to make a "pretty picture," the punishment would be a stern talking to, not a spank-your-butt-so-hard-it-hurts-for-days punishment. But, if an 8-year-old who knew better did the same thing, you'd better believe his ass would be hurting. I'm the two-year-old, I promise.

After a long week and an even longer Friday, I was driving home from work around 4:45 p.m., taking the back roads route I've driven for the past five years. What I didn't know for the past five years was that from the hours of 4-6 in the evening, this particular left turn that I make every day is illegal. So, naturally, I made the turn, even seeing the cop sitting in the nearby parking lot. I guess he's just taking a little break there, I thought. Oh no. Not a break. Not at all. The moment I drove past him, I saw him whip out and turn on his lights. Busted.

Since I'd never seen the sign, I had no idea why I was being pulled over, and politely told him so.

That turn wasn't legal? 
      No ma'am. There are three signs posted there.
I've lived here for five years and have made that turn every day and have never known that.
      I understand. Several people who live around here have said the same thing but I've written them up.
      It's a dangerous turn at this time of day.
I completely understand that, and I know you're just doing your job. I'm not going to try to talk my way out of this ticket, but I just wish I had known.

So, I'm now the owner of a ticket and a court date, both of which have yet to be processed. And you'd better believe I'm going to court over this. Even if I have to take off work. I'm guilty as charged, but I'm not going to have this go on my otherwise-squeaky-clean driving record and jack up my insurance premiums without a fight (or at least a respectful plea). I didn't know any better, but I'm getting punished as if I did. I'm sure he could make the argument that I should have known better, but if that turn is so dangerous and if people living around it all the time don't even know about the sign, then maybe the sign needs some flashing lights or something. And there's ONE sign, not three, but who's counting, right?

I cried all the way home. Twenty-eight years old and I still hate getting in trouble and feeling like I got worse than I deserved. I don't remember the last time I cried, so I'm pretty sure the crying was about a lot more than the ticket, but it felt good--the crying, not the ticket.

*big sigh* I feel better now. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Apparently, clean really IS just a smell...

Do you ever have "human moments"? Moments when you trip over nothing while people are watching (like I did last week at work), or moments when you put your foot in your mouth (like I did tonight*), or moments when you rave about a new detergent that really turns out to be fabric softener?

That's right, folks. Snuggle only makes fabric softener, not detergent, which means that the pair of underwear I was so fondly sniffing the other morning wasn't actually...clean. (Sheepish grin) In my defense, I never use liquid fabric softener, so it didn't even occur to me to carefully read the labels when I was in the detergent isle. I was so focused on finding the "he" symbol on the bottle that I missed the fact that I wasn't even buying detergent. I'm sure there's a sermon in there somewhere.

Only a true friend would point out my error, so many thanks to Melissa for setting me straight and preventing me from "washing" more than a couple of loads in straight up fabric softener. No wonder my clothes smelled so good!

It's back to the laundry detergent isle for me, and I guess I'll start using some liquid fabric softener in my loads for a while since I bought the 96-load bottle.

* Tonight, while on a walk, Phil and I were talking about how much we love our neighborhood and how safe we felt in it. Right after saying that, we saw three cop cars parked outside a house, but some trees were covering up the house, so I didn't see any people. "Maybe it's a stake-out," I told Phil, rather loudly. About that time, we walked right by the front of the house where police were talking to a man and woman who had apparently been in some kind of altercation. I chose the look-straight-ahead-and-keep-walking route after that foot-in-mouth moment. Oops.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clean isn't a smell, but...

Clean isn't a smell, but I sure do love the smell of clean! The naturalists out there will tell you that all the chemicals in over-the-counter cleaners are bad for you, your kids, your floors, your skin, your pores, your lungs, and your overall heath. All we need is vinegar and water.
And they're probably right. 


I LOVE the smell of clean! Honestly, I love every cleaner aroma: the indoor-pool smell of chlorine and bleach, the lemon smell of Pine-Sol, and most recently, the clean laundry smell that stays in your clothes for days. I've washed with regular, cheap Purex detergent for years, but we recently bought a new(ish) he (high efficiency) washer that can only take he detergent.  So, I spent a good 10 minutes in the laundry isle at Walmart looking for he detergents and smelling them all. Snuggle (Blue Iris and Bamboo Silk) was a clear front-runner, and I must say, I absolutely cannot stop smelling my clothes! 

It's really pretty funny. I kept getting wafts of that fresh linen smell all day long, and it had been several days since I had done laundry. Purex had nothing on this stuff. Confession: I even smelled my clean underwear tonight when taking it out of the drawer. Clearly, the brand lives up to its name when I'm nuzzling my underoos! I'm hooked! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best. Homemade Lasagna. Ever.

I can't take credit for this recipe because I got it from my sister-in-law who got it from her mom who got it from...Southern Living, I think. But let me tell you: it's delicious! So delicious, in fact, that my hand-written recipe card has stains on it because I've made it so much. While it's not my recipe, I have added a few ingredients to suite my tastes, so, without further ado, I present to you:

Bekah's Homemade Lasagna
10 lasagna noodles (I buy the oven-ready ones for simplicity's sake)
1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 small onion, minced (optional)
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
2 16-oz. (or 1 28-oz.) cans diced Italian seasoned tomatoes, drained
24-oz. container low-fat (or fat free) cottage cheese
1 cup fresh chopped spinach (as much or little as you like)
1 small bag shredded parmesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons parsley flakes
Basil, Oregano, Italian seasoning to taste (I usually put in at least a teaspoon of each)
 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  1. If using regular noodles, cook pasta according to directions on package.
  2. In medium sized bowl, mix cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, chopped spinach and about 4 Tbsp parsley flakes and about 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Set aside. 
  3. In a large skillet, brown ground beef with garlic and onions, then drain. Return to skillet and add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and seasoning (basil, oregano, Italian seasoning) to taste. 
  4. Spray bottom and sides of 13X9 pan with cooking spray. Lay 5 lasagna noodles across bottom of pan. On top of noodles, add 1/2 cottage cheese mixture. On top of cottage cheese mixture, add 1/2 mozzarella cheese. On top of mozzarella cheese, add 1/2 ground beef mixture. Repeat layering steps one more time. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  
  5. Bake at 350 45-60 minutes or until warm throughout. 
* This recipe can be made a day ahead, put in the fridge overnight, and baked the next day. 
**Other possible additions: chopped green peppers, mushrooms, fresh chopped tomato, fresh chopped basil, rosemary
***This makes a LOT of lasagna, so if you have a smaller family, consider inviting the neighbors over, or put half in the freezer for a night when you don't have time (or want) to cook!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And so it begins

This morning at 8:00 a.m., 21 9th graders will be staring at me for 54 minutes. They'll be staring at me, but their minds will be elsewhere--wondering who I am and when the new lockers will come, worrying about finding their next class and making it there on time, worrying about who they'll sit with at lunch, wishing they had gone to bed earlier last night, wishing they had don t their summer reading, wishing they could have their cell phones. They'll also be bringing all kinds of invisible relational baggage into the room--something I often forget. They'll be thinking about the fight they had with their best friend or how their dad didn't come home last night or how they don't have any friends or how they miss their mom who died last year.

And somewhere in the midst of all that, I'll be teaching them English.

This morning at 8:00 a.m., I will stand in front of those 21 9th graders and will talk about the 180 hours we'll spend together this year with great expectation and dreams of being an inspiration. I'm hoping the kids like me, find the content engaging, and are respectful and awake. I'll have my own set of worries: am I too strict or too fun? Did I forget to tell them something? Could I teach any of this better than I already am?

But right now--right now--is calm, joy, anticipation, knowing that God has so clearly called me to this and trusting that He will not give me more than I can handle. This will need to be a year of trust, of leaning on Him, and with that in mind, this is my prayer for the year:

May my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.
Deuteronomy 32:2

Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie recs

My friend, Sarah, recommended this this me, and, as she described it, "It's British and it's a comedy, but I wouldn't exactly call it a British comedy." This 2008 gem stars Sally Hawkins who plays Poppy, a carefree elementary school teacher who constantly sees life as half-full. While the movie is upbeat and cheerful, it also has more serious side stories woven throughout, making the film a bit complicated to place in a genre. And, because it's British and has the happy-go-lucky feel, the movie has a slower pace, is full of odd quirks, and lacks a plot based on significant conflict. While I wouldn't say it was my favorite movie, it was definitely intriguing and one that I enjoyed and would recommend to others. If you like quirky foreign films that don't drain you emotionally, then this is a movie for you!

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
I can't say enough about this movie that Phil and I picked up at the Homewood Library the other day! Winner of the 2008 Golden Globe Awards Best Picture of the Year and nominated for four Academy Awards, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a must-see movie. It's based on a true story about Jean-Dominique Bauby, a famous editor for Elle magazine who suffered from "Locked-in Syndrome" after suffering a stroke. "Locked-in Syndrome" means that a person is physically paralyzed from head to toe, unable to do anything except blink. However, their mental capacity is in perfect condition: they can feel pain, hear, comprehend, think, and formulate sentences in their head, but they cannot communicate apart from blinking; hence, they are "locked in" to their own body. This fascinating movie tells the story of who Bauby was before and after his stroke, and how he went on to write a book from his locked-in state. It gave me compassion and insight into caring for people with disabilities and a new appreciation for my health, family, and my ability to communicate. An extremely powerful movie.

27 Dresses
A girly movie from beginning to end, but I love Katherine Heigl and thought it would be a good way to pass an evening with Phil gone. I give the movie a B. Definitely not a waste of time, but also one that I'm glad I didn't pay for. It's a cookie-cutter wedding/marriage chick flick complete with predictable scenes, a hopeless girl who finds the right guy in the end, and a guy whose perfection is the reason so many girls today have unrealistic expectations of men. That being said, it was a movie with lots of "aww" moments and one that I really liked. I enjoyed it the way I enjoy a beach read: shallow, indulgent, simple, but really entertaining and not a bad way to spend your time once in a while.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Old. My sister turned 15 at the end of July, successfully got a permit last week, and is now on the roads making all her other 9th grade friends jealous and making me feel, well, old.

Young. One of my former students, who is now a senior in high school, was in my classroom this week and asked, "Mrs. Johnson, how old are you?" (I tell her). "Wow. I thought you were, like, 22 or something." (Do the math, sister. That would make me a senior in high school when I taught you.)

Old. Last week was Open House at school, and for the first time, I was closer to the parents' ages than the students' ages. Again, old.

Young. My neighbor: How long have you two been married?
              Me: Coming up on five years.
              Neighbor: Wow, I thought you guys were newlyweds!
              Phil: We still feel like newlyweds.
              Me: (high-fiving Phil) You definitely get points for that response, babe.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vote for the Austin Hatcher Foundation

Pepsi is giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable groups through their Pepsi Refresh Project, and my friend, Amy Jo, and her husband have submitted their foundation, the Austin Hatcher Foundation. The general public votes on which charities they want to support and Pepsi awards (in this case) $250,000 to the top charity. Out of thousands of applicants, Hatch's House of Hope is currently ranked #33 (!), and with voting ending on August 31, I'm trying to spread the word so they can make it to #1.
For those who don't know, Amy Jo and her husband started the foundation when they lost their son to pediatric cancer several years ago. Go here to learn more about their story. The foundation provides practically for the children and their families, and I encourage you to go to their website for more information.

I'm asking you to vote DAILY for the Austin Hatcher Foundation (it only takes a few seconds), and here's how:

TEXT 101703 to Pepsi (73774) 



Thanks for partnering with me in helping hurting families, and thanks to Pepsi for such a generous funding project.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Embrace the paste

There's a lot standing between me and the perfect tan. For one, 100-degree days keep me inside more than I'd like. For another, I have fair pasty skin. And I'm fine with that, really.

I'm also a sucker for funny and true news stories.

So, pasty white girl + love of funny news = THIS.

I love that Scottish scientists got 100 people to volunteer to have their buns studied...and sunburned. I wonder how that advertising went: "Show us your buns and we'll heat 'em up for ya," or, "Do you suffer from white-butt syndrome? Enter our study to find out if yours will tan!"
It was probably more like, "We'll give you cash if you'll let us expose your butt to dangerous rays."

And all those Scottish villagers were like, "Cash?!? Simulated sunlight?!? Yes please."

Honestly, though, who has a tan butt? Who? The only way to get one is to lie naked in a tanning bed (which grosses me out a little, although I'm a bit of a germaphobe), to wear a thong on the beach (eww), to do one of those spray tans (cha-ching expensive), or to use a self tanner (the safest). But even then, what's the point? The only person who sees most of our butts is our significant others, so do those significant others really care all that much whether or not our derriere is the same color as the rest of us? Chances are, their butts are white too.

So, here's to white rears, sun-deprived Scots, and anyone who wears a thong in public. More power to you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quick 'n Easy: Ranch Parm* Chicken

Ranch Parmesan Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup Ranch dressing
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tsp ground black pepper
1-2 Tbsp melted butter

Marinate chicken in Ranch dressing anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Coat marinated chicken in breadcrumb mixture and place in a greased 9X13 baking dish. Drizzle with melted butter. Bake uncovered at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until juices run clear.

Enjoy. each. delicious. bite.

*"Parm" = my Rachel Ray tribute. Love that lady's cooking, although this isn't her recipe.

Monday, August 2, 2010


First of all, I'm not sure if "facelift" is supposed to be one word or two. A quick Google search reveals that both seem to be acceptable. (Nerd alert that I even took the time to look it up!) I'm going with one word, though, because it's more efficient and, well, it just looks right. I promise I'll explain grammar and vocab better to my 9th graders in a few weeks.

Anywho, procrastination often breeds creativity, which lead me to give my blog a little facelift over the weekend. It used to have a more of a subtle brown motif--very simple and kind of antique looking. Nothing wrong with it, but it left something to be desired. So, out with the old and in with color, background, and interest.

I'm no graphic designer or layout extraordinaire, but I like it.

And I hope you do too.

I hope you like it so much that your face is pulled taut in a permasmile like Joan Rivers' (sorry Joan).