Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“It’s the little things in life …”

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

This week found me walking in two states and three different cities thanks to the holiday weekend. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s walks were completed in Lexington (KY), Saturday’s walk was completed in Seymour (IN) and Monday’s walk (to replace Sunday’s walk) was completed in Lafayette (IN).

This past weekend was obviously the 4th of July, which always calls for a celebration, and perhaps a little bit of reflection on what really matters. The 4th of July typically brings family and friends together, and that’s just what it did for me. On Friday I traveled to Seymour to spend the first part of the long weekend with my parents and brother, and then I headed to Lafayette to spend the weekend with my sister, Jake, and their friends. It turned out to be a very fun (though very sleepless) weekend.

Anyone who knows my sister knows that she lives life from moment to moment and doesn’t take much too seriously. My mom would say that she is my dad’s daughter. While these personality traits have at times frustrated my mom and me (being the “planners” of the family), I have always secretly (well maybe not so secretly now) envied her spirit. My sister gets absolute joy out of the most random things in life. She’ll always remind me, “It’s the little things in life, Michelle.” This past week and weekend I definitely got to appreciate the little things.

This week was a little hectic at work as Jared (my boss) was out of the office at a conference, our K Week schedule of events was due to the graphic designer, we had multiple presentations each day for Summer Advising Conferences, and in general just a lot of things to get done. (Summer is our busiest time of year!) However, the week was not without some fun too. Nancy and I took Shelley (our summer intern) and Stella (one of our K Crew Coordinators) for their first Thai experience and introduced them to the deliciousness of the “mystery sauce” waiting on the table to be drizzled over your food. The NSPP women (Nancy, Debbie, Shelley, Stella, Lauren, and me) shared a lot of random laughs throughout the week, and we ended the week with me proving that I could, in fact, fit into a GIANT plastic bag that some posters were delivered in. (See pictured below for evidence!) There’s nothing like a good meal, a good laugh, and a little “adventure” with great coworkers to break up the week.

Friday evening may possibly go down as the longest drive from Lexington to Seymour of all time. A 2 hour drive turned into 4 hours and 10 minutes! At 9 miles south of Seymour I found myself in dead stop traffic. 45 minutes later I was hot (having turned my car off so as not to run out of gas), hungry, and in dire need of a bathroom. Needless to say, I was also quite frustrated. Turns out there was a semi on fire on the interstate. Yikes! Learning that made me feel a little less angry as I was glad that I was ok and hoped everyone in and around the semi was too. Finally, after a crafty maneuver that may or may not have involved driving the wrong way down the interstate, and some driving on the back country roads of Jackson County, I made it to Loose Threads where I was meeting my mom and her friends for Friday Night Sew. I walked into a room of smiling faces and a plate of fresh-baked cookies. The little things - those smiles and cookies - made me forget the frustration I’d been feeling for the last 2 hours.

Saturday morning took me on an adventure through Seymour for my training walk. It was fun to see the changes that have occurred throughout my neighborhood and the rest of town since I’ve been gone, but I also found great appreciated for the “little things” that remained the same. 2.5 miles into my walk landed me at my friend Daniel’s house, who happened to be getting out of the car with his son Ayden. I took a break to visit and play with them. It was amazing to see how much Ayden had progressed since I last saw him. Ayden could point to and say “mouth,” “ear,” “eye,” “nose,” and “hat,” could push around a mini wheelbarrow, and “dig” with his own mini shovel. It was when we went outside to say goodbye that I got the highlight of my morning, though. As Daniel and I chatted for a bit, Ayden ran back and forth down the side walk - over, and over, and over again - as fast as he could, giggling the whole way. It was this sight - how much joy he got out of something as simple as running down the sidewalk - that put my 3-Day journey into perspective. I wish I had that energy (and still loved running like he does)!

Saturday evening landed me in Lafayette with my sister. After practically buying the entire Payless stock and searching Target, Walgreen’s, and Wal-Mart for some hard-to-find items, we set off to her apartment to start cooking for the 4th of July party that would be at Jake’s house the next day. Becca had an entire menu planned out - sparkling fruit salad, zesty pasta salad, baked potato salad, 5-layer taco dip, deli sandwiches, and cake (in addition to the hot dogs that Jake was going to grill out the next day). Delicious! However, it was the “little things” that made this menu truly special. Becca and Jake had come across a magazine that inspired some unique culinary ideas - cutting deli sandwiches into 4th of July inspired shapes and creating a swimming pool cake. After putting the deli sandwiches together we used cookie cutters - star, flag, and firework shaped - to cut the sandwiches. When Jake and his brother came to visit us in the wee hours of the morning (we cooked until 4 a.m.!) I am pretty sure they thought we were crazy in hindsight due to the time and waste - but the sandwiches were definitely a hit the next day! After an intense search for “just the right candy” we created a swimming pool cake that was both artistic and delicious - see the photo below for proof! We may not have got much sleep that night, but we had a lot of fun putting these unique little touches on the holiday spread.

Of course Sunday landed us as Jake’s house to celebrate the holiday. There I met Gavin, my sister’s friend Liz’s little boy. I have NEVER seen a little boy love to play in water and laugh so much. He was the highlight of the party, and we all loved playing with him all day long. The day/night ended perfectly with a fantastic fireworks display hosted by Jake’s brother (and neighbors) … Zach blew the neighborhood away!

On Monday morning’s walk around my sister’s neighborhood, I got to reflect on all the little things that had brought joy to my life over the past week. That night I got to bring my puppy Brinker back home - he’d been with my parents since I had been traveling lately. I was reminded that coming home to a puppy who is waiting for you is one of the best feelings in the world. He’s cuddled up next to me as I write this and occasionally he licks my arm to “remind” me he’s still there. It’s the little things …

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
While I don’t have any personal fundraising updates to report this week, a BIG shout out goes to the rest of Team NKOTW for HUGE movements in fundraising this week. Together they raised $430 this week, bringing our team total to $6,230.25 - 30% of our total goal!

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
Because we hear so much about family history of breast cancer, many people may think that a lack of breast cancer in their family makes means they don’t have to be concerned about developing the disease. However, only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer is caused by hereditary mutations, meaning we are all at risk. While knowing your family history is important, it is also important to pay attention to your body and complete routine testing to really lower your risk.

The Numbers
This week the training schedule gave us an “easy” week due to the holiday weekend. I walked 15.05 miles and 43,498 steps - bringing my grand totals to 111.66 miles and 265,985 steps.

Happy walking, and enjoy the little things this week!



  1. As I know that you and Becca are getting to be awesome cooks, I'm sure that you will be taking over holidays here at home soon. Right? Becca does take the most enjoyment out of the small things in life and we are lucky that she shares that with us. You take on the big projects in life that you let us share with you and that makes us lucky too! How did I get to be such a lucky Mom!

  2. Michelle, YOU are one of my "little things" in life. Thanks for such an insightful reminder of what matters. AND, I expect a repeat of the swimming pool cake next time we are together :)

  3. Mom - Becca and I can handle sandwiches and cakes ... I don't know about turkey and all the trimmings, but I suppose we can give it a try. Thanks for always being so supportive of us. We got lucky to have you as a mom.

    Jenn, you are too cute! I can't believe I've made it this far already. Perhaps a swimming pool cake will be in order for the celebration after we cross the finish line in October!

  4. I love reading your blog Michelle! I feel lucky that I have had the chance to get to know you though this crazy, quick experience at UK!