Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be you

Roots.  We all have them somewhere.  I love my life now in southeastern Louisiana and all the new friends and family that I have here, but my roots are in Mississippi.  I don't know about every other state, but I think the word Mississippi means something different for each person who says it or experiences it.  To some of our good friends Mississippi means the camp and hunting non-stop while you're there.  To some it means the Delta and rolling flat lanes of crops and small towns.  To others it just means home.  But to me it means my identity.  There is no place quite like east central Mississippi.  Where the towns are a little smaller, the words drawn out a little longer, the tea a little sweeter, and the people are more real.  Being real as a person and being true to yourself means more to me than any amount of riches a person could have.  I don't know what happens to some people, but sometimes people just lose themselves in the hustle and bustle of trying to keep up with everyone else.  East central Mississippi isn't like that.  Newton, more specifically, isn't like that.

Now that I am married and finally out of school and working, Josh and I find ourselves in a constant state of improvement.  There is so much we want to do to our house and for ourselves to better what Josh has worked so hard for and what we have so graciously been blessed with that we find ourselves always in motion.  I find myself getting caught up in the wants I have for the house and for our life, and as the list grows longer it starts to seem like we may never get there.  Thankfully, I have Josh to bring me back down.  He reminds me of everything we do have, and he takes me back to my roots.  Work hard for what you can, and the rest you don't really need.

That's kind of what Newton is all about.  At this point in our lives, Newton is more of a mindset than a place.  Newton is the style of thinking we use to remind ourselves what is truly important in life.  Does it matter that we still haven't built our big wooden fence yet?  Not really.  We will get there one day, and for now we honestly have everything we need.

Newton is the way of thinking that helps to keep your priorities straight.  Newton will remind you that God comes before anything else.  With the Newton mindset we know how important family is to our lives and even more than that, how important it is to stay true to your family.  Newton reminds us to count our blessings for each and every friend and to be for them on the bad days, not just the good.  Newton says as long as you have God first, your health, family and friends by your side, and a roof over your head with a nice warm bed to come home to at night; everything else will work itself out.

I have been working too much.  I have been trying to do everything I could to give us a jumpstart in life. I realized that it is really not that important.  We have already been given a jumpstart.  We should live our life with pride.

I have learned many lessons in my short 24 years, many of them learned within the Newton county line. The biggest one is with all your heart, trust God for all things big and small, and be happy with what you have been given.  Trying to change yourself only makes things worse for you in time.  

Be happy. Be you.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lesson learned

In the early stages of my young marriage, I am trying hard to be a good wife.  I am trying to lay down a path that Josh and I will be happy to follow and share with each other from now until forever.  I try to set precedences and start traditions that we enjoy now and can one day hopefully share with our children.  So the story begins...

In trying to be a good wife, I tried to cook one of my husband's favorite dishes the other night.  Even though I have lived in southeastern Louisiana for the past five years, I still haven't quite master the whole Cajun cooking thing.  Mostly this is because I was hanging on to my Mississippi for so long that I didn't want to become "Louisiana", I was fighting the transition.  Now though, I am happy.  I feel like I am at home.  I have friends, and I am setting roots.  I still don't want to give up my background, but I am ready to embrace my present.  And embrace it I did.

There is nothing more Cajun than knowing how to cook a roux.  I have been practicing this skill and three burned rouxs and one second degree burn later, I have just about got it down pat.  So when I decided to cook shrimp stew for my little family of two earlier this week, I was happy to see that the recipe started with, "first you make a roux".  I have got this!  I worked on my roux for what seemed like forever, I stirred until I thought my arm would fall off, but as I grew tired I began to see my concoction turning that perfect caramel brown color and I knew that once again I had done it!  The next step seemed easy...saute chopped onions in the roux until golden brown.  Being a true Cajun Mississippi implant who has learned so much, I knew that if onions would be good in the roux then onions, bell pepper, and celery would be great.  And that is just what I added.  But just sauteing chopped vegetables seemed too easy for such an avid cooker as myself, I decided that I could handle sauteing the vegetables and peeling fresh shrimp at the same time!  This proved to be harder than I thought, but it was do-able.  Now this shrimp stew was really coming together, and I was beginning to swell with pride.  With all the ingredients in, all I had to do now was let it simmer for about an hour!  I was feeling so confident and domesticated that I decided to walk outside to our garden and pick some fresh vegetables to serve with supper.  Apparently though, I have failed to master the task of knowing when a vegetable is really ripe and ready for picking.  Eggplant was a little too fresh, so we just scratched that from our dinner menu.  No biggie...this shrimp stew will be delicious and plenty for the two of us!

Finally, Josh came home from work.  The house was smelling DEVINE with all the aromas from a fresh roux, to sauteed vegetables, to finished and simmering shrimp stew swirling around.  I made him go get comfortable in his chair, and being the good wife that I am, I fixed our plates and brought it in the living room to eat with my husband (yes the living room, isn't that where all normal people eat?!).  Josh was pretty impressed with all I had accomplished with my first shrimp stew, and as he went to take the first bite he asked a very surprising question.  "Where's the rice?"  What do you mean where's the rice?  What rice?  I scanned the recipe mention of serve over rice.  It's shrimp STEW...isn't that like soup? That answer is no.  In Cajun language, stew is more of a gravy type food.  All stews are meant to be served over rice.  Obviously, the Cajun website I used for the recipe thought that stew could go without saying serve over is kind of just an understood thing around here.  Understand that part, this Mississippi girl did not.  I encouraged Josh to just eat it like soup and I followed suit.  The problem with that we quickly found out is if you eat basically a gravy with no rice the richness of it will give you a stomach ache quick!  OK, lesson learned!  Stew and rice go hand in hand here in Cajun country!

The next chore around the house that was up for grabs was cutting the grass.  Poor Josh has been working so hard lately and to have to think about coming home to cut grass after work all day just seemed cruel.  I decided that I was perfectly capable of cutting grass.  I disagree with those who call it a "man's job".  If  it's acceptable for a man to cook supper and clean house then it is certainly acceptable for a woman to cut a little big of grass!

Unfortuantely, cranking the lawn mower proved to be no easy task.  The battery was dead, and I had absolutely no prior experience with jumper cables.  I mastered that task, cranked the lawn mower right up and began to cut away.  Early in my job though, I decided it would make life a whole lot easier if I could cut the grass as I backed up the lawn mower.  Apparently that's a safety no-no that kills the engine on the lawn mower on the spot.  Lesson learned, but now the lawn mower is yet again refusing to crank, and this time I am in the middle of the front yard.

So I did what anyone would do...attempt to jump the lawn mower off using my car battery (yes that is what you would do in the same situation).  However, this time the lawn mower was not coming back to life as easily.  I gave up, went inside, came back outside, tried again, had a neighbor stop and offer to help, and finally came up with a brilliant plan.  I videoed myself attempting to crank the lawn mower and then texted the video to Josh so he could diagnose the problem.  Thankfully he had a little break at work and was able to call me right back!  A simple fix and the lawn mower cranked right up.  I cut grass until my little hearts content, and I was so proud of myself for all my hard work and determination that I sang along with my Pandora radio at the top of my lungs while I cut.  Again sorry to all my neighbors...we all know that my singing isn't always making a joyful noise!  Now the grass is cut, I have showered, and it is currently raining.  Perfect timing if you ask me!

What's on the agenda for working on my wifely skills for the rest of the day?  I think I may try my hand at using Josh's new hibachi grill tonight.  I know I can make fried rice...or at least I am willing to try!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy June

June 25th. Such a special day for my little family. Josh's birthday! And this year his 25th on the 25th...his golden birthday! Josh and I are big fans of celebrating anything we can, so when one of our birthdays rolls around we tend to turn it into a birthMONTH rather than a birthDAY! This year was no different.
So celebrate and celebrate we did! Anything and everything we could think of to feasibly do, we did in the name of a birthday. That's what I love about Josh...among many, many other things. He brings me out of my shell. He encourages me to get out and do the things that I really want to do while we can. He puts fun in life but at the same time is completely grounded and level headed and knows how to perfectly run a household. We balance each other and make each other better people. Bottom-line, we are blissfully happy and absolutely in love with each other and our lives together.
So happy birthday to my handsome, wise, charming, hardworking, brilliant husband! You make my world go 'round, and I cannot wait to grow old with you!
This year June 25th became special for a second reason. A Baker-Smith wedding made the day even more memorable! It's crazy to think that a little over a year ago I met a girl who I think of as one of my best friends. It was a chance meeting that almost didn't happen, thanks God that it did! I don't even know where my life would be without my Meag Baker-Smith. So to be at her wedding, the most special day of her life, was absolutely everything Josh and I both wanted for the day!
True to form, Meagen was the most beautiful and perfect of all brides. Her day went off without a hitch, and everything was wonderful down to her football coach groom wedding cake topper! From what I understand, even her honeymoon in Jamaica was perfect. And even though it almost killed me to lose complete contact for a week, I knew all well that feeling of honeymoon bliss so I was happy for her to be there soaking it all in.
Now it's July. Obviously I'm late posting this, but sometimes life just doesn't slow down long enough to allow for blogging. The birthday boy is official 25, and the Smith's are living happily as a family unit. looking back on this special day still makes me feel warm on the inside for oh so many reasons. Right now it's to a birthday boy and best friends, happy June y'all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The 24th of June

I am late posting this...I'm horrible I know.  The worst part is that I actually have three late entries to post.  All in due time I guess.  So for now let's go back and pretend like the day is actually last Friday, June 24th.
Happy Birthday to my mom!
What a whirlwind of a life we have led in these past 49 years (but since technically only 24 of the 49 have involved me, let's just start from there).  Two of the three original musketeers, my mom and I have always been extra close.  Anywhere from sharing secrets to sharing a bed at a crazy old age, we have always been tight.  She has always been there to give advice or to lend a hand.  She has believed in me more than most and always encouraged me to do my best.
Sadly, due to prior plans and an important wedding, I couldn't be with my mom on her actual birthday.  Thankfully she is a teacher and able to travel during the summer, so she came and stayed a week with us.  We had a fun time even though I had to work several of the days that she was in town.  She was a trooper and even managed to venture out of the house a time or two by herself.  She and Josh also were able to bond over a missing piece of the puzzle which is always nice.
While my mom was in town, Josh and I took her to see the sights of Thibodaux, brought her to some of our favorite dining treasures, and introduced her to some of our friends among other things.  We all had fun, and we were both very sad to see her go that Wednesday morning.
Despite the fact that we couldn't all be with her for her birthday, she was off having a very good time in a city up north.  Family is a wonderful thing to have, and I am grateful to them that they were able to spend time with her and make her special day even more memorable for her.
So Mom, La-La, Lizard (with one Z), or Mona Lisa...whichever alias you are using today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY.  We love you and hope that your special day was everything that you had deserve it!