Monday, December 29, 2008

A Very Green Journey

Please keep my parents in your prayers as they prepare to embark on another International adventure together... They leave for Africa tomorrow afternoon, where they will spend the next two months traveling. To help document their journey (and as part of my Christmas craft responsibilities) I started a blog for my dad. A place for him to document their journey. If you are interested in hearing about life in Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa keep an eye on www.afathersplayground.blogspot.com. I'll do my best to keep everyone up-to-date as well.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Memories



It's hard to believe that Christmas 2008 has come and gone... Here are a couple of pictures from the past week that help tell the story of our time together.

"Apple Juicy" visits Mollie and Caroline:




The Green's and Cunninghams at our 6th Kabuto - Christmas Eve Tradition




Just before dinner we went to church for Communion. We were about to walk in the front door of the sanctuary when we heard something hit the ground... Somehow Mike had managed to pick up a lint brush out of my dad's car, with his butt. It made for a hilarious entrance!!! (Dustin was definitely letting us know he was there!)



We attempted to volunteer at Carter Brothers on Christmas Day. It was bitter-sweet because they ended up having too many volunteers show up and could not use our help.



My mom's side of the family came over for dinner on Christmas Day. Aunt Frances (our little fashionista) had fun playing dress-up with the shoes Mal and I received from Santa.




Reido finally made it to town on Friday. (A day earlier than we originally thought, which was very exciting!) Here are a couple pics from his visit.



Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree


Because Mike and I do not spend a lot of time at The Box during the month of December we purchased an (um) abbreviated Christmas Tree. See picture above.

Don't get me wrong, it smells quite real and we light the thing every night... Some might say the only differences are that it's a lot cheaper (99 cents from CVS) and much cleaner (no pine needles to clean up).

Mom and Pops, I can't wait to get home to your real tree, Dustin's star and all of our familiar ornaments. I love you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Marriage Moment...

Mike and I are sitting on the couch watching West Wing re-runs and quasi working... Mike looks up from his laptop and says, "What would be the best job you could imagine?" I look up from my laptop and begin to think of an answer to his question... Then I get distracted. My first response, "I think I smell your feet." Who am I??????

Attn: All Working Moms! (Please Forward)

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Working moms, register today at Scholarships4Moms.net for your chance to win a $10,000 scholarship to continue your education. Get started with the next phase of your life today.

Copyright © 2008, ARAnet, Inc.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Living up to the name "ie adventures"

The weekend adventure began with Martin, Lou, Sandra (a brij co-worker) and me cooking dinner for 42 people at our company Christmas party on Friday night! Just in case anyone feels like cooking for 42 is not adventurous enough, don’t worry; we added to the pressure by throwing in the whole “Mystery” theme (flashback to 27th birthday dinner). By the end of the night I smelled like chicken and my feet hurt like hell (I now understand why you never see a cook wearing stilettos), but the party was a huge success! Here’s a copy of the instructions and the menu our guests received when they arrived. I’ll hold-off on sharing the answer-key in case anyone wants to try their hand at solving the riddles…

Dear Patron,
Tonight’s Christmas dinner has a very special twist,
You’re going to pick what you eat from a mystery list.

You should read through the menu and look for the clues,
Each course must be selected, but their order you’ll choose.

An implement will be needed for each phase of your meal.
Make sure to pick wisely or the food you may feel.

And as far as beverages go, we have options here too…
Feel free to pick one, or please help yourself to a few.

There is only one final rule to this little holiday game.
There can be no more talking till we have all the cards with your names.


Dinner Selections:
• Sosigenes established the winter solstice on my command.
• A very chilly boy from San Francisco.
• Santa’s colors on a southern foundation.
• Petit Christmas trees that give Santa’s reindeer bad breath.
• A nasty name for an elf and his festive swim in a “Merry” Rose Sea.
• Blended ovaries from the evergreen shrub.
• The caroler had this on the third day and we put a national beverage on top of it.

Beverage List:
“Ho Ho” said Old Saint Nick.
Winter icicles find a bubbly splash.
I’ve been dreaming of this, only not too much in a glass.
Keeps Santa Healthy; sometimes wobbly, sometimes not.
Cries from the kid who found hot coals under the tree.

Dining Implements:
Santa’s Coat | Petit Yule Log | Elf’s Toolset | Rudolph’s Rack | Sweet Polar Claw | Snow Remover


After my chef duties were over I jumped in the car and headed to Charlotte to meet Mike. (I should note that Mike did manage to make a surprise appearance at the brij party earlier in the evening, which I appreciate immensely. Because of the drop-in nature of his visit and the fact that he was dressed in a suit, everyone is now calling him the politician. Sweetie, I’m all for becoming your campaign aide. I could totally rock the whole First Lady thing! Just think what a Mystery dinner would do for Capital Hill…)

Getting back to the weekend, while I was off watching Stephan Curry whoop up on NC State with Katie and Cory Saturday afternoon, Mike was calculating away… Poor thing had to sit in a giant warehouse with 600+ other people solving math formulas from 7:30am until 5:00pm.

Ashlie's Dictionary
TORTURE: (tor-ture) noun, verb.
1. The act of having to sit still for 9½ hours.
2. The act of having to remain silent for 9½ hours.
3. The act of having to decipher math problems that involve pictures and symbols that I’ve never-before seen in my life.

Kudos to my husband for having the brains and willpower to survive such a thing.

Sunday was a glorious day for both of us. It’s the first time in I don’t know how long that Mike did not feel pressured to study so we slept in, had a huge breakfast at the B&B, hit golf balls and hung out with the South African family staying with my parents. (Curve ball, I know… But yes, my parents are doing a house swap with a family they met on the Internet. When my grandmother first heard about the whole thing she just about freaked out… I think her exact words were, “Lou, they could be terrorists!!!” Rest easy Grandma, Paul, Daniel and Jason are absolutely wonderful.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Inspiration

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Citizenship in a Republic
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris
April 23, 1910

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random updates on life at "The Box"

Mike's car broke down last Thursday (while I was out of town). Since we live within walking distance of campus, he decided to wait and take it in after I got back. Ironically, when we jumped in my car (Monday morning) to take his car to the repair shop, mine would not start either! ARGH! $303.00 later I am cruising once again, however; Mike's Honda is still at the car-doctor's. The mechanic actually just called a few minutes ago. He was talking about a timing belt, muffler pipe and high quality spark plugs. It all sounded expensive and foreign to me so I just said yes, hung up the phone and went and poured a glass of wine...


Big news!!! Mike and I are in the process of buying a house. I can't share many of the details yet (we won't close until the end of May and I don't want to jinx anything), but I can tell you it is absolutely adorable and we are both very excited. Things that I can share:
- The house is in Greensboro.
- It has enough bedrooms to raise a family in (yes mom, that means we are starting to think about your grandchildren).
- I would describe it as cottage-bungalow... Lots of character and very charming.

For those of you who I told we were going hiking this weekend, unfortunately it was a no-go. The weather here was terrible (see pic taken from front door below). That being said, it did snow this morning! Waking up to a snowy ground always makes me smile.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I wore the scarlet letter...



I was in Charleston, SC for a conference last week and slipped out one afternoon to meet a friend's mom for lunch. (Important note: I was wearing a Banana Republic sweater dress, a turtleneck and black boots.)
The restaurant we were headed to was only a few blocks away so we decided to walk. And, it was during that fateful walk that at least 3 cars sped by, beeping their horns as they passed. A little odd but not totally unusual, right? After all, it was a busy time of day and there were tons of people on the street. Why in the world would they be beeping at me or my friend's mom???
We proceeded to have a very nice lunch and then headed back to the Francis Marion where I was staying. During our walk back, I noticed the traffic had died down but the beeping continued...
By this point I was getting self-conscious. I looked around - no toilet paper, all "private" areas appropriately covered, length of dress passed the old-school arm test, no one famous around us (at least that I recognized)... And then it hit me. I was walking through bow-tie town in NYC-style black boots. It was my own scarlet letter!
I cannot say with absolute certainty that the reason the cars in Charleston were so horn-happy is because I was wearing black boots, but I can say there is no way they will be included in my wardrobe during SC visits in the future.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another weekend with the girls.

Once again the girls and I proved we can spend months (even years) apart yet reunite like no time has past. I'm sitting in the Charlotte airport, scrolling through photos and laughing at the memories from this weekend. Here are a few pics from Cat's bachelorette party and our Miami adventures.










Friday, October 31, 2008

Elizabeth Dole, Please act like a lady!!!

Has anyone seen Elizabeth Dole’s most recent ad attacking Kay Hagen’s faith? Here’s a link in case you missed it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMzX_EAfwyc

I must take a moment to question what in the world is going on??? When did classy women start playing like ruthless, slimy men? First Hillary, now Liddy… Regardless of who you are, I am disgusted by the fact that you continue to go here. Instead of addressing critical policy issues, you’re consumed with acting like a playground bullies. Lies… Ugly attacks.. Is politics worth this? Is anything worth this?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

JLG Video

I am helping co-chair the Junior League’s Legacy Campaign and I have been racking my brain over ways to encourage people to support this $1M fundraising effort. This fascination with the emotional and social influences that drive people to give reminded me of a video I put together for another League project last year. I thought the video was worth sharing.

I know many of you do not live in Greensboro, but regardless of where you live, I cannot say enough good things about the Junior League organization (as a whole). The impact this group can have on a community is absolutely tremendous, not to mention the extraordinary influence it will undoubtedly have on your own life and character development... Ok - my commercial is over; I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Friday, October 24, 2008

DGH Progress

Quick update on the progress we've made in developing this year's program. Any ideas or suggestions for improvement would be greatly appreciated.

The concept: An all-girls team with a program focus on self-discovery and empowerment

Rationale behind the concept:

1. I will be Leading the 2009 Team and have a sincere passion for mentoring teenage girls. I have done a lot of research on female communication structures and the effect high school experiences have on women’s lives longer term. Trainings and volunteer service that augment this concept include working at the Rape Crisis Center and serving on the board of the Junior League of Greensboro (an organization committed to developing the leadership potential of women) for the past 4 years.
2. Mallory Green will be acting as a Co-Leader for the 2009 Team. Mallory will graduate from Appalachian State University in May with a degree in Psychology. Although young in age (22) she is mature in experience. Mallory has endured death at a young age. She has helped peers battle issues like abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders and substance abuse problems. Her proximity to being a teenage girl in today’s society will create opportunities for unique connections with Team Members.
3. As Nobel Prize Winner Mohammad Yunus stated, “Women possess the innate capacity for innovative ideas. They can change their own lives, provided they have the right kind of institutional support.” I feel it's imperative that we gain an understanding of how to connect with the teenage “culture.” We have the opportunity to enable these girls, helping them to develop individual identities and stronger self-esteems so that they can realize their true potential. (See alarming stats below.)

Program Activity Ideas:

1. Mentor-Mentee - Each Globetrotter Team Member will be connected a Mentor and a Mentee. They will work with their Mentors to get a better understanding for what it is like to be a professional woman in today’s society. They will work with their Middle School Mentees on topics such as gossip, stereotypes, body-image, drugs and alcohol and relationships.
2. Team Members will pick another organizations (within Greensboro) that they want to support and volunteer with throughout the course of the Program. 3. Team Members will keep self-esteem journals.
4. Team Members will participate in a book club highlighting 2 pieces of literature (one selected by the students and one selected by the leaders).
5. Team Members will learn about money management. We are even considering giving each Team Member a small amount of money to invest and manage in the Stock Market.
6. Women have been the “handers-down” of tradition. We are losing a lot of this… Teach girls a “trade” (like knitting) that they can pass down. (“Older” person teaching a “younger” person a skill.)

Trip Destination: Romania (with a possible visit to Serbia or Bulgaria)

Trip Activity Ideas: Live and work on an organic farm providing labor in exchange for food and accommodations. Experience what it’s like to make tools, clothing and shoes by hand as short-term residents of a rural Romanian village. Visit schools and work with middle school aged girls on their English skills. Visit and possibly volunteer in a monastery spending an entire day in silence. Learn (or maybe I should say, attempt to learn) local songs and dances so we can participate in an authentic village festival. Volunteer in a hospital and/or orphanage. Hiking in the Carpathians Mountains.

Statistics:
Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) for Liz Claiborne Inc., (Technology & Teen Dating Abuse Survey 2007, Teen Dating Abuse Survey, 2006)
•57% of U.S. teens (between the ages of 13 – 18) have had a friend in an abusive relationship.
•69% of parents were unaware that their teen was pressured by their partner to perform oral sex.
•1 in 2 teens who have been in a serious relationships say they've gone against their beliefs in order to please their partner.
•1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age if they're in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would break up if they did not give in.

Dove Foundation, (Dove Campaign for Real Beauty)
•92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest.
•70% of girls ages 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion "due to feeling badly about one’s looks."
•75% of girls with low self esteem reported engaging in negative activities (such as eating disorders, cutting, bullying, and substance abuse).
•57% of all girls have a mother who criticizes her own looks. 7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough and that they do not measure up physically, socially, academically or professionally.

National Association for Self-Esteem
•90% of eating disorders are found in girls

Girl Scouts USA, (Study, 2006)
•The more physically active girls are, the greater their self-esteem and the more satisfied they are with their weight, regardless of how much they weigh.

Girls Inc., (The Supergirl Dilemma: Girls Grapple with the Mounting Pressure of Expectations, 2006)
•1 in 5 high school girls say they do not know three adults to whom to turn if they have a problem.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This one's for Mike...

Who knew we had such different interpretations of the phrase "business time."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGOohBytKTU

P.S. if you're at work, turn your volume down or shut your door :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

10 Year Reunion!!!

It's incredibly hard for me to believe that I spent Saturday night at a ten-year high school reunion. I think all of us were a little apprehensive about going, but it turned out to be a low-key and wonderful evening.

Shawn and Lindsey Turner (both RHS alums who are now married with a daughter, Reily, and a 2nd on the way) with Patrick Zeemer (Wake Grad and now a Physician's Assistant).

Our group (yes, turnout was quite small) in front of a banner we signed freshman year.

Heather Puljung, me, Heidi Keslick, Jaclyn Bader, Stacy Titzer, and McKenzie Stevenson (with Morgan Bachelor and Shawn Turner showing some true c/o '98 style from behind).

McKenzie like we've never had the fortune of seeing her!

My girls - Mollie and Lindsey (both with their 2nd children on the way).

Mollie and Tony, high school sweat hearts (only Tony's 10 year was 3 years ago)... Maybe we're not that old after all. Sorry Tony!

The old football and cheerleading crew (with Mollie stepping in as a surrogate toe-toucher).

I must have been full of school spirit from the get-go... My banner signature, pawl print and all!

Roxy and Doug - Wedding Weekend

It's been over a month since we went to the Outer Banks for Doug and Roxy's wedding. Nonetheless, here are some pics a friend just sent showcasing festivities from the weekend.






Friday, October 17, 2008

Lots to report on Dustin’s GreenHouse…


We still have a few donation pledges to collect and a few bills to pay, but Dustin’s Tournament raised apx. $31,136.48. (Not quite as much as we made last year, but definitely a strong event!)

I have been working on the Globetrotter Program curriculum for the 2009 team. Nothing has been written in stone yet, but here is a sneak peak at some of the ideas we are tossing around:
- Team: An all-girls team (10-12 students and 5-6 adult leaders)
- Location: Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria
- Activities: Spend a couple days volunteering on a rural, organic farm. We will provide labor in exchange for food and accommodations. Spend a couple days living in a farming village where we learn to make tools, clothing and shoes by hand. We will visit schools and work with Romanian girls on their English skills. We will visit and volunteer at a monastery, We will attempt to learn local songs and dances so we can join the performance at a village festival. Volunteer with a Romanian orphanage, paying particular attention to supporting and mentoring a group of middle school-aged girls. We may pop over to Serbia and Blugaria (Again, all details are still in the “proposal” stage. I would love any ideas or suggestions you can share.)
- Themes: a Discovery of Self, Girl Talk (a focus on teenage communication), Ladylike Leadership, Sustainability and the Environment

Stay tuned for more details and the online nomination form.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It was hotly contested, but the Tarheels were finally awarded a much deserved victory over Notre Dame on Saturday night. Here is a glimpse into some of the action we were able to catch on tape.

video


Other highlights from our weekend: UNC Mens soccer team beating Duke 2-0, Mike playing in the UNC/Duke Alumni game, seeing Katie, Cory, Amy, Johnny, Ellen and so many other friends.










Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Dustin

After my brother's accident (on April 15, 2002) my family started a tradition of sending him skymail for both his earthly and heavenly birthdays. We all write him a letter, tie the letters to a bundle of balloons, and send them to heaven...

I've never shown my skymail letters to anyone, but this year I decided to share a letter with all of you. The reasoning behind this is not to make you sad or to make you feel bad for anyone in my family!!! It's more of reminder that life is short and the importance of finding true perspective in the short, earthly lifetimes we are given is very, very real.


Dearest Dustin,

It’s still incredibly hard for me to accept the fact that the last time we were able to celebrate a birthday with you (in person) was your 19th. I remember that night like it was yesterday... We met you and Gregg Stone at the Angus Barn in Raleigh. You kept making fun of my “gimpy” walk; I had hurt my knee playing flag football at school. And you begged me to order the biggest steak on the menu, even though I was a vegetarian, so that you could take it back to your dorm room to eat later. You were exhausted from all of your late-night partying. You complained about midterm exams. You seemed so grown up, yet so young at the same time.

Six and a half years later, I still struggle with the fairness (or lack thereof) in having to celebrate birthdays in your absence. You should be here with us. You should be ridiculously excited over eating a big dinner. You should be telling stories about your fraternity brothers, laughing to the point that your face is beat-red and the words coming out of your mouth are completely incomprehensible. I want to hear you call me “Ashtone” and Mal “Birdillion.” (Wherever did you get those crazy nicknames from anyway?) I want to watch as she mom tries to sneak in a hug or, if she’s lucky, a kiss and then hear her little, motherly squeal as you remind her that grown men are embarrassed by public displays of affection (especially “MPDA”). Most of all, on your 26th birthday, I wish I could see Dad in his eternal pride. I’d love to watch as he lives vicariously through your 20-something life stories, bonding over things like business, golf, music and girls.

Despite being so far away, I hope you can see us celebrating your spirit on this forever-special day. I hope you can feel us loving you from afar. And even though I trust you are in a much better place, I hope you know, selfishly, we wish you would come back, even for a minute, so our family could be whole again.

I miss you and love you endlessly little brother. Happy 26th Birthday.

Always,
"Ashtone"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Long Week

I am waiting in the San Fran airport for a flight to Charlotte. I got to the airport an hour and a half early (and for those of you who know me, that is completely unheard of). I am that excited to get home. I want to go play golf with Mike, take Addie on a walk and sleep in my own bed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cute, Funny, True

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?

Do you suffer from shyness?

Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist about Chardonnay.Chardonnay is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident about yourself and your actions. Chardonnay can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you're ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Chardonnay almost immediately and with a regimen of regular doses you can overcome any obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want to live.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past and you will discover many talents you never knew you had. Stop hiding and start living, with Chardonnay.

Chardonnay may not be right for everyone. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use Chardonnay. However, women who wouldn't mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth, and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night rounds of Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare, and Naked Twister.

* The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
* The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.
* The consumption of Chardonnay may cause you to think you can sing.
* The consumption of Chardonnay may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in the morning.
* The consumption of Chardonnay may make you think you can logically converse with members of the opposite sex without spitting.
* The consumption of Chardonnay may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Now Just Imagine What You Could Achieve With a Good Dry Red!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Stream of Conscience

I am all finally feeling better, yay!

We went to the Greenbrier for the weekend with McKinsey and I played a full round of corporate golf. This may sound trite to some of you, but I felt it was a tremendous accomplishment.

I went wine shopping yesterday and Mike and I shared a bottle of Vignabaldo's Sangiovese Umbria last night. Very good!

Addie has a mystery allergy. We are trying the process of elimination approach at finding a cure. Step 1, no back yard at the box.

I'm off to San Fran on Saturday for a week-long conference. Just thinking about it makes me already start to miss M & A.

Fall feels close. Hip, Hip, Hooray. This is my favorite time of year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Poor me...

I have a miserable cold. (Hypothesize that it was picked up at Roxy's wedding during a flip cup tournament. I knew I was too old to be playing drinking games.) Anyway, trying to work but feel like my head is going to explode... Have been on Google looking for home remedies and found the following.

- Drink hot tea
- Overload on Vitamin C
- Cut several onions in half and place them around your home
- Eat 5 to 6 raw cloves of garlic a day
- Avoid dairy
- Gargle with warm salt water
- Gargle with hydrogen peroxide
- Sip on vodka miked with water tabasco and lemon juice

So, if anyone calls or stops by to find me tipsy with garlic breath and living in a "box" that smells like onions you will know why.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Our "Rox-star" Bride


We made it through the wedding in Corolla, NC this weekend... an absolute miracle considering Hurricane Hannah was charging up the east coast, headed straight towards the Outer Banks!

The bride... a true "Rox-star" in every meaning of the word. Despite having spent the past 14 months planning a spectacular outdoor wedding, my dear friend managed to re-plan both her ceremony and her reception in less than 2 days. The ceremony was moved to a small church on the water and the reception landed in a local tavern-turned-wonderland in town. Roxy may have lost her outdoor dream but she definitely did not give up any of the spectacular.

To all of our "old" friends who were part of the weekend, it was a blast! I cherish every moment we have to spend together. To all of our new friends (Ryan and Maria, in particular) Mike and I are still laughing over flip-cup tournaments, celebrity nights, late-night grilled cheeses and the infamous James.

P.S. My photojournalism skills did not surface this weekend, however; I will be sure to steal a friend's work and post pictures shortly.
P.S.S. Photo above was taken by James Christianson (www.jameschristianson.net)