Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A perfect Christmas?


I had a great Christmas. I received a lot of presents, saw a lot of family, and played a lot of games. And I did a lot of thinking. So many times we want our Christmases to be perfect. We spend hours searching for the perfect gift, decorating the house elegantly, stringing lights just so. Maybe we want to have the perfect outfit, or matching pjs on Christmas morning.

Do you think the first Christmas was perfect? No. I love this photo, but it wasn't all like this - cozy, warm, private.

Image credit http://www.cravingchocolateandlazydays.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jesus.jpg

I'm sure it was cold and uncomfortable in the stable, and that Mary and Joseph didn't want a bunch of shepherds showing up when they were  trying to sleep.  Jesus is the only perfect part of Christmas. But somehow, they understood it was all part of God's plan.

We need to be more like that. Less worried about the perfect-ness of our holiday and more concerned about the people in it. Perhaps you could talk to someone in your family about the true meaning of Christmas, or offer to pray at the big family dinner. Find opportunities to put Christ back in Christmas, instead of focusing on material things.

Okay. Monolouge over.
My grandparents spoiled me with a Nancy Drew game ( i love it!!) a darling blue coat, a soft blanket, candy, and so much more.
My Aunt Lisa got me this and a music box with the Eiffel Tower on it:
isn't it adorable?

 Mom and Dad got me some really pretty clothes, and their good friend Santa brought me Sperrys, Bobs, a Nancy Drew game, pjs, and so many fun litttle surprises.


some of the loot

bobs sneakers and sperrys <3
All of the family got camo in some form (yay) and we had several modeling sessions in between wrapping paper and cookie tins.


picture won't turn for some reason :/
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is getting gifts for the boys. I got Christopher  a lot of books, and Andrew a game called Ticket to Ride. We've been playing it a lot. The boys got me a bop- it game and paterned craft tape.

diving into the spoils

 

Monday, October 20, 2014

HGTV Fixer Upper Store in Waco, TX.

Saturday we were already in Waco for our Ag Id Contest;
Ag Id -First place as a team, third individual for me, and first individual for C! YAY! So proud of my little brothers :)
so we decided to drive by the Magnolia Homes store. That's where Joanna Gaines from HGTV's Fixer Upper sells a lot of the decorating items she uses on the shows. You can find it at :
3801 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710
Office: 254-235-6111
Shop: 254-235-0603
She has several Baylor students working there - I guess she's too busy with the show to work behind the counters! One really sweet thing is that there are a lot of Bible verses up in the store. :) The store has a lot of unique, rustic items. Everyone there is definitely, obviously a tourist, and it's quite entertaining to watch them. The place is small, and they're planning an expansion at the 'Silos' - some old silos they're renovating and expanding to include an antiques trade days and a food truck parking lot.  From the Waco Tribune:
"The Gaineses estimate they will spend $1.4 million on the renovation and finish it in early 2015. The result would be a Magnolia headquarters and retail center, plus an indoor “trade days market” open monthly or weekly, as well as a food truck court with regular hours."


The Magnolia Farms truck


MAGNOLIA! (and me on the porch!)


The silos!
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Secret Adversary review


I had always wanted to read Agatha Christie, but simply never got around to it. I love a good mystery; Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden, etc. The first Agatha Christie I read,

Secret Adversary, got me hooked. It's free in the Kindle Store, too! And the BBC remake is on YouTube, free as well.

Here's your review:

In 1915, as the Lusitania sinks, a British spy gives a girl his secret papers, since she is a woman and will have a better chance of getting into a lifeboat. He tells her to get the papers to the American Embassy at all costs - even if it means her life. She agrees.

Flash forward to the end of World War 1, 1918. No one knows where that girl is, The papers were never delivered. Did she and the spy drown?

   Enter Tommy and Tuppence, a likable young 'couple' - they're mainly just friends, and there's not too much romance, which I liked- who decide to become mercenaries to earn a little money. Thinking the whole thing is a joke, they unwittingly stumble upon an enemy spy. He sees their innocent naivety and hires them to find the papers!

   Luckily, Tuppence realizes he's up to no good and she and Tommy decide to help one of the Queen's agents by alerting them to the enemy. He in turn recruits them, thinking they are experienced in the underworld. Hahaha-no. Tommy and Tuppence have no clue what they're getting into. They fall into a deadly game of espionage, torpedoes, amnesiacs, kidnapping, poisoning, and basically every exciting thing that could happen to a person. The book is very clean, and not graphic at all. It’s one of my favorite books, and there’s a great plot twist at the end!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

i have an unusual name - a drama/tragedy/comedy in three parts.

Side note in case you're new here... my name is Laura Ashley . :)

What's in a name? For me, it's a lot of explaining.

"Laura. Ashley. Two words. Yes, it's my first name."

"Not Laura. No, not Ashley either."

"Laura Ashley. Like Mary Anne or Mary Kate."

"Yes, like the British fashion designer. And no, I don't get free dresses from them."
My name as a dress logo.


And whenever someone calls "Laura!" or "Ashley!", I automatically turn around because I get called that often, too.

I am called many names that are not mine. The only one I really dislike is Laurie, but the people who call me it are such sweethearts I don't mind. :)

  • Laurie
  • Smiley
  • Larsie
  • Doll
  • Laura Lynn
  • L.A
  • Laura Ashley
  • Lauren
  • Laura
  • Ashley
  • Ashlynn
  • Lora
  • Lara

All these things in consideration, however, I like having an unusual name. It makes me feel unique, and it's pretty cool to have never met anyone else with my name.  Do any of y'all have unique names, or are named for a cool reason? let me know!



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

life lately

These past few weeks have been a bit mundane compared to the whirlwind of activities I partook in throughout June and July... or so I thought. Looking back, we've done a ton of cool activities!



  •  Andrew, my littlest brother, won first place in a reading contest.  He read 105 books in less than a month. Big, long books, too. I'm very proud! He earned a gift card for a free pizza, tickets to a water park, and more!

  • We learned about copyright laws at Teen Court, taking turns playing different parts in a real case, the creators of the James Bond franchise vs. Honda.

 

  • Christopher took over as President of our club and I became President of our county's 4-H. Our club learned how to make no-sew fleece blankets for Project Linus, and I learned how to use a rotary cutter to trim the strips for tying.


  • I taught a first aid class to a group of friends. One was just a year younger than me and the others were all under 11. They were so much fun. We compared first aid stories, made mini first aid kits, discussed minor and major wounds, learned how to soft splint a forearm, and then ended the day with a impromptu pool party. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Courting vs. Dating

Have you ever wondered about the difference between courting and dating? Is there one? It's something that puzzled me, so I decided to research it and provide you with an answer, hopefully pointing out what's bad or good.
I asked my  AWESOME friends (public school, homeschool, and college age) -who had no idea I was going to write this- their opinions on dating and courtship.
Dating:
  • "Dating is when a couple think that they might like each other, so they go out to find out." - M. S. age 12.
  • "Dating doesn't always lead to a relationship." - from a Huffington Post advice column
  • "Dating is when you go out with a guy think you might like." - M. A., age 19
  • "Dating is just preparing you for divorce!!" T.M, 21
  • "Dating is a fun time to get to know guys better." E. M, 13
  • "Dating is when you hang out with a guy to get to know him before you get married." S.C., 13
  • "Dating is practice for being married. " B. T., 15
It's the last comment that scares me the most. When you're dating, and something goes awry, what do you do?

You break up.
Is that what you're going to do when you get married? Break up with your husband? I think T. M might be right - it sounds more like practice for divorce.

Or what about '"Dating doesn't always lead to a relationship." '? Isn't dating supposed to be a time when you form a relationship with your future husband?
Let's move on to courting before we form an opinion. ;)
Courting:
  • "Courtship is a relationship between a man and a woman when they seek to determine if it is God’s will for them to marry each other." R. D., 23, my leader @ STEP ! 
  •  "Isn't that when you don't kiss till you get married?" M.S, 12 :D
  • ""Courtship is a choice to avoid temptation and experience the blessings of purity. It is a choice to not emotionally give away your heart, piece by piece, to many others through casual dating relationships and instead to give your whole heart to your life partner." A Christian website
  • "When you're courting, your parents help you make some decisions. Not because they want to control your life, but because they're older, more experienced,and have ideas to help you." T.M, 21
All these comments seem to describe the kind of relationship I'd like, even M.S's comment. Wouldn't you rather receive a brand new gift instead of one that's been opened many times?! How much more would you value a guy who saved his first kiss for you, and vice versa? Also, courtship isn't about 'breaking up' if stuff doesn't work out, Under the protection, guidance, and blessing of parents, the couple concentrates on developing a deep friendship that could lead to marriage, as they discern their readiness for marriage and God’s timing for their marriage. (See Proverbs 3:5–7.)

I'm definitely going to court when I'm older. MUCH OLDER, thank you very much. :)


READ THIS BOOK. PLEASE. I'm out of time to explain why tonight, but look for a post on it soon. It explains the above stuff much more clearly! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kisses from Katie



She walks briskly in the red dirt, clouds of dust settling as she arrives in time to administer medical care, or provide food, or perhaps give  a ride to the village. She is Katie Davis, the woman followed everywhere by thirteen children who all call her 'Mommy'. She's obviously not old enough to be the 'real' mother of these kids, but no one cares. Everyone calls her 'Mommy'. Because, in a way, she is a mother, sent by God to be a Mommy to these beautiful people.
 Kisses from Katie is the story of Katie Davis, who left home when she was just four years older than me, in order to adopt and care for orphaned children, provide care and schooling for those who can't afford it, and do whatever else she could to show God's love in Uganda. She left  a privileged  life in America to move there, start a nonprofit organization, and begin the adoption process for thirteen daughters who needed a mother.
 While the book is great, I almost preferred reading her blog. Somehow, her writing style there just clicked for me. In the book, she is so careful not to draw attention to herself that she hardly mentions all the amazing things she's done. Plus, the blog has a lot more pictures of her adorable kids! :) So, definitely read the book and get inspired, but check out her blog here, too!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Touring AT&T Stadium aka Cowboys Stadium, Ambassadors Trip

Recently I was accepted into the 4-H Fuel Up To Play 60's Healthy Lifestyles Ambassador Program.

Since Fuel Up To Play 60 is sponsored by the NFL, all of us who were selected as Ambassadors where given VIP tickets for a special tour of  AT&T Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys play.
the golden ticket :)
Even though I don't know much about football, I still had a good time and found the tour really interesting. It was fun to tour it with my new Ambassador friends.

the view after you step off the escalators.
 -We got to see the players' and the cheerleaders' locker rooms, the place where the Cowboys all run out onto the field, the private underground parking for players, cheerleaders, and box owners, and the fancy boxes that people can rent.
-The stadium can hold over 100,000 people- they just filled every seat and box for the last George Strait concert ever, held there. (let's have a moment of silence here, folks. no more new George Strait songs. ever. :( whyyyyyy) Okay, moving on.

-You can actually see where the Texas Rangers play from the stadium. I've been there, too!


 -The stadium has the largest retractable endzone doors in the world, and when the dome's open, it can become an outdoor stadium. Cool, huh? It hosts concerts, (Beyonce,  1D, George Strait) basketball games, bull riding, boxing matches, monster truck, and motocross.
We were all freaking out and laughing. It was so much fun. :)
-To get to the locker rooms we took a freight elevator underground, which was scary but fun. It rattled.
-We also got to go to the press conference room, where reporters ask players questions about the game.
On the press conference stage.

Then we went out to eat at a place called The Mellow Mushroom. It was decorated 70's style and served different types of pizza. I had the baked potato mini pizza and it was really good! Then we went to the hotel and to bed so we could get up early for training the next morning. I'll do a post on training later.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I'm Back!

Long time no post! I'm back from Step, yay! Step was a lot of fun, but it was definitely the hardest thing I've ever done - so far. I learned how to rappel and  to cross rivers, to canoe, and to do a gun takeaway, to organize a grid search and to bandage wounds. I also watched Follow Me Boys, the sweetest old movie ever made. Go watch it! We sang the songs on our marches.

 I also killed and plucked a chicken, stabilized a (fake)puncture wound in a woman's stomach, cleaned a massive machine called a tilt skillet while on KP duty, and learned how to make a bed so you can bounce a quarter off it, like they do in the old war movies. The below photo is not an example. XD
Much more to tell, but some of it's confidential  in case you go to STEP, so you'll be surprised.
                                                                                                   

My little bed in the dorm. Don't judge: I hadn't learned how to make it yet. :)
My friend Leah and I. Leah was so sweet to me! :)
  My absolute most favorite thing about STEP is the great encouragement you get in your spiritual walk. It was so cool to be around other like minded Christian girls, all with some of the same goals and ideas. I made a ton of great friends. Shoutouts to: Grace, Hannah, Bethany, Becca, Rachel 1, Rachel 2, Remi, Dee,Chon-Chon, Leah <3, Lydia aka brains, Marina, Tay, Neep, Clara, Randi, Mollie, and Angela, just to name a few.

The very first day at Step, I stood in the lobby of our dorm nervously. I'd unpacked, my family left, and I sat with the other first-years, glum and alone. Then this Advanced girl appears out of nowhere, clutching a Frisbee. "Do y'all play Ultimate Frisbee?" (Advanced means they've been here before and they're advanced in skills.)

  We shook our heads 'no'. "Well, I'm Grace, and you are my new proteges!" She taught us the game, we played for an hour, and I thought that was that. Advanced people were super busy, too busy for first years. But no!
She left sweet notes on my door every single day, prayed with us, and stopped to hug us whenever our paths crossed. I met so many sweet people, but Grace was the first!

Rachel 2 and I
My team scaling the bluffs.

Two other girls who were super sweet to me, especially during PT, were the amazingly cool Canadian twins Becca and Rachel Stewart. They walked with me on our hikes, ran with me at the 3K and were very encouraging. They, too, left me sweet notes,and were faithful members of ROS along with Leah, Mollie, Hannah and Bethany. (inside joke there. :)) Stay strong, ROS!! lol.
A final word to you blog readers - if you are a girl between the ages of 14-25, GO TO STEP! learn more about STEP here.

Friday, May 30, 2014

start spreading the news...

...I'm leaving today.
Hey. I'm leaving for STEP camp tomorrow, for a whole month.

(Please forgive the messy room, I was packing in on my parents' floor. Note the new waterproof watch.
Also, excuse the sweatpants, socks, and the Old Navy shirt I wear in every. single. photo.)
This quote I read somewhere keeps rocketing about in my mind-

"...and there was an air of glaring finality to it."

 -and I can't remember where, it may have been Gone With the Wind but I can't remember now. I just remember it was talking about someone leaving.

   Anyway,as I sat my suitcase in the back of our suburban for the short-ish ride to Big Sandy tomorrow,folded my sleeping bag up and scrawled my name on my uniforms with a white laundry pen, I couldn't help thinking about that quote. 

I mean, I know this is going to be great, both for me physically and spiritually, but it somehow seems so ...final.


  STEP is a little like a boot camp. You're on a strict schedule, and you wake up at 5 each morning for a routine run of a 'few' miles, stomach crunches, and exercises. Then you eat and might go learn to rappel on this huge fire tower, or learn to do a ropes course, or learn first aid, etc. We'll also be memorizing the whole book of Philippians.

    I'm excited, I really am. But I'm also terrified, y'all. I can't even do a push up! 

   This whole experience is about teaching girls to rely on God for strength, and not themselves, which I'll definitely be doing. But I'm still a little scared at the thought that this is real, I'm really leaving,so I just keep repeating this verse:


    I would love it if y'all would pray for me while I'm gone, that I won't be scared, that I'll trust God and grow in Him.

Well, I guess this is a goodbye post, so bye. I love you guys! I'll post again in July!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pinterest!

I finally got a Pinterest! Check it out, and maybe follow me?
 http://www.pinterest.com/LauraAshley998/boards/

Eating DNA

Today I made a replica of some good old deoxyribonucleic acid.
Mmm. More commonly known as DNA,  it is hidden in tiny, long structures called chromosomes. During cell division these chromosomes are duplicated in the process of DNA replication, providing each cell its own complete set of chromosomes. It grows something like this: One cell makes two, two makes four, four makes eight, etc. 


 I first chose a sequence, and then placed adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine in that order. Those are just four types of nucleobases (aka, bases).These four nucleobases, along the backbone, encode biological information, like your eye color or your hair color. Marshmallows were my base pairs, and a Twizzler was the backbone. The backbone is made up of a residue of chemical sugars.

Yum! Cytosine!

Labelling my base pairs. 
                            Adenine always pairs with thymine, and cytosine with guanine.
Twisting it into a double helix.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Confessions of a Country Girl/Livestock Show

   Last week was the project show/livestock show. It's a really fun, busy week. I only made one project, but my little brothers showed their animals and I led barn tours, so we were there ALL. WEEK. LONG. :D

  I don't mind, though. I love the atmosphere: wearing boots, slugging through mounds of dust while George Strait wails through crackly old speakers, petting the rabbits waiting to be shown, cheering for friends as they show, balancing precariously on pipe fences surrounding the arena just for the fun of it, even waiting in an hour-long line in the hot sun to buy a snowcone.

Okay, my monologue has lasted long enough. Moving on,

The buckle is silver and turquoise! It's so heavy that it pulls my belt down.
I got this reserve grand champion belt buckle with my kitchen set project!!
I apologize for the galoshes/lack of Western attire; the barns are very, very muddy(I now live an hour from Old Navy, btw). But aren't they cute galoshes?

 Dad taught me how to use the tools and I learned a lot. I had a great time painting the kitchen set, decorating it, and building it. It started with an old desk I found for $40 at a thrift store, and we built shelving underneath. The faucet a nice employee at Lowe's gave to us for $5, as it was a display faucet they no longer needed.
The 'burners' are furniture grip pads glued to a board spray painted silver. The sink basin is a mixing bowl.

I had a ton of fun leading the barn tours this year as well. We had 585 kids come through. We walked them in groups of two classes from station to station, then through the barns to look at the cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, peacocks, turkeys, horses, etc. It was such a great experience, but also a very eye -opening experience. When we asked where they thought beef came from, they said the store., or  they thought people 'grew' it.  "A man grows it an' puts it in a truck an' takes it to the store," one boy explained confidently.

   I guess, in the five years I've lived in the country, I've become used to learning exactly where my food comes from. I know where the animals live, what they eat, and  where the plants grow. Not to say I'm an expert at country life; I can barely ride a horse. :)
Still, I've come to think of myself as a country girl, and I'm proud of that!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sir Isaac Newton - the early years

It's pretty safe to say everyone knows who Isaac Newton was. You've probably heard about his laws of motion, his research in optics, or his discoveries through calculus. Either way, Sir Newton is hailed as a successful genius.
  But did you know he had a very hard life? His father died before he was born, and after his mother got him financially situated, she left him with his grandparents. She remarried a rich man and spent tons of money on her other children's educations.

   Isaac returned to live with her and his new stepfather at age 10.  Around this time his mother pulled him out of school as it cost to much. She spared no amount of money on her other children, but she was unusually stern when it came to Isaac. His school teachers noticed the potential in him and offered to teach him free of charge if she'd let him return to school.
He was friends with the younger children and the girls, making fully-functioning miniature watermills (he was fascinated with those) and doll furniture. He did hot, however, fit in with the other boys, and they teased him for spending time with girls and smaller children.
 
When he left for college he had to pay his own way by working as a sizar, a highly undesirable position. Sizars were servants for richer students. It was embarrassing for Isaac, who was from a wealthy family, to serve in this position. His friends' fathers and mothers paid for their sons' education, parties, and clothing- Isaac could barely buy food.
 
Petty and jealous all his life, he had few friends at college. One friend, a boy named John, assisted him in the lab and during his discoveries. Isaac could be secretive- he practiced alchemy,  something he could've been thrown in prison for at the time. Anyone who has read the  Harry Potter books is familiar with the Philosopher's Stone; Newton truly believed this stone existed and much of his alchemy work was devoted to trying to find this. He also kept his discoveries hidden from John. He was often seen wandering the college campuses all alone.
 
After graduating from Trinity College, he would write the Principa  and go on to complete his famous discoveries, but it was his lonely childhood and troubled college experience that set the basis for his adult life.

In a later memoir, Newton wrote:
"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

John 15:4

John 15:4 is one of my favorite verses. It shows us that, without Jesus, we can do lots of good things but they'll never matter. They won't bear fruit.
 Are you doing things for the right reasons? If you're doing something and feel like it's not a success, is it because it wasn't based in Jesus? If we don't remain in Him, we aren't going to reach our full potential. Our lives will be pointless, even if we do achieve worldly success.
Without Christ in us, we will never bear fruit, despite all the good things we do.

Lately

...I've been doing a lot of math.
...going to Rudy's BBQ. It's a chain BBQ joint; I think they have the best potato salad in the world!
...and shopping for Easter dresses. Since I'm tall for my age, a normally short dress is WAY too short on me. No luck yet, but I persevere.

...I've also been working on 4-H stuff. I gave a speech/power point and participated in a fashion show as of late.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Christy

A super nice lady at my church loaned me Christy and some other books based off the tv show. And they are amazing!
Basically, in the early 20th century, Christy Huddleston, age 19, moves to Cutter Gap, a remote Appalachian town, feeling called by God to become a teacher. She leaves behind a life of wealth, luxury and her family. But that's not the problem! The problem is, the people are superstitious, afraid of outsiders, and skeptical that Christy can handle a class  of 67 students. They live in tiny, filthy houses and ekk a living out of rocky hills. Constant fights over moonshine are common.
Then there's David, a well meaning preacher who can be a bit stubborn but is ultimately focused on spreading the Gospel. And he's sweet on Christy.
There's also Dr. Neil Macneil, a doctor who does everything from emergency brain surgery to delivering babies to inspecting an injured raccoon. He also likes Christy. Christy just wants to survive and help kids, not fall in love.
Miss Alice, a kind woman who mentors Christy, and the stern Miss Ida, round out the bunch. There's constant excitement, and the mountains sound beautiful and mysterious.
From the start, I instantly fell in love with Chriaty and the children she teaches. All the characters are likeable and very interesting. The children are so sweet, and Christy has real love for them. She tries to look past their ignorance and poverty by teaching and helping them.
Plus, the Christian messages were great. I think Christy is a good role model for girls like me! You should definitely read the book and watch the tv show!




Thursday, February 20, 2014

BLS Class

Tuesday I took a BLS, or Better Life Support class. I learned what to do in the event of a choking or cardiac arrest. I also learned how to use a manual defibrillator, and AED, a pocket mask, and a bag mask!!

This is a dummy with the AED pads attached. The AED tells you when to give a shock, stop compressions, and start compressions.
This is a bag mask. You would only use it in the event of a two-person rescue.
If it was just you, by yourself with an adult heart attack victim, you would:
  1. Shake the victim. Call loudly, "Sir/Ma'am, can you hear me?"
  2. Get a passerby to call for help. Alert another to find an AED.
  3. If you get no response, feel by the trachea for a pulse. This should take no more than 10 seconds. Time is important.
  4. If  you find no pulse, immediately start chest compressions. These take a lot of energy. Count out loud.
  5. Once you've done thirty compressions, allowing chest recoil time, give two breaths. If you don't have a pocket mask, seal your lips around the victim's and breathe twice. Watch for the chest to rise and fall. 
  6. Attach the AED pads under the left nipple and above the right.
  7. The AED will instruct you to stand back, and it will shock the victim.
  8. Wait for the AED to reanalyze.
  9. Resume compressions, if the AED tells you to.
  10. Repeat this cycle  until you see the victim breathing normally or until EMTS arrive.
So, as you can see, I had a lot of steps to remember! I also had to practice chocking rescue, and we practiced on adult, toddler, and infant dummies. Then we took a 25 question test. I was pretty nervous, as I was the only kid there, but I passed.
I am now a certified healthcare professional!!