Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoughts

I have a really, really busy mind, so it is really therapeutic to me to release some thoughts every now and then (thus, this blog!). Anyway, I am watching Dancing with the Stars and secretly wish I could dance like that! :-)

With April 13 approaching, the would-be due date of our first child, I really have been thinking so much about everything...and I started reading a book called "Full Term." It is about a woman who suffered 2 miscarriages and then delivered twins at 5 months and they died. Her book is about her journey to actually finish a pregnancy....it is both encouraging and saddening to me at the same time. BUT....I am not defeated and am actually quite inspired for the future. I just like reading about other women who have been through the same, if not worse, than me. I need to feel grateful in place of feeling sorry for myself, and realizing that other women have gone through SO much worse really helps give me a reality check.

In a completely unrelated note, I made creole chicken for the first time tonight. It was soooo amazingly good. Another amazingly good part about this night is the Concannon's treats I purchased this afternoon. I love their chocolate cupcakes! Thankfully Luke doesn't care for "all the sugar...." so MORE for me!

I counted, and only 8 more Mondays in the school year. I can't wait until Summer!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break Summary

Well, here I sit on a Sunday morning....breakfast eaten, and I am thinking about my day. I have to get to church, grade a zillion papers that I neglected over the last week of freedom, take a shower, print some things for school, and get my meals planned for the next week. I am feeling reflective...and, I can't believe it, but I am feeling excited for the remaining 2 months of school.

I am so inspired by people, and I really have a renewed enthusiasm for my career as a teacher, and I am prepared to get my kids as ready as possible for 5th grade. We are writing research reports, reviewing for ISTEP, and reading a couple of novels this month. I have lots of ideas, and I am ready to get going again!

However, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this past week of freedom. I woke up when I wanted, I didn't spend $100 on gas, I ate out with friends a lot, I got my hair cut, and I spent invaluable time with Luke. But...I do know that this is not reality. I have to work. I have to be productive. I have to keep moving. 

I have thought a lot about our baby this week. With not very much to do, I allowed my mind to wander and reminisce about "what might have been." Do I enjoy this? No....but is it necessary for healing? Yes. I can now think about what happened and not cry. I can remember the blank ultrasound and recount every memory without going hysterical. I can look forward to the future without fear. At dinner on Thursday with Allison & Nikki in Dayton, I shared some memories of pregnancy that I hadn't shared with anyone....and it was nice to actually acknowledge that yes....I was pregnant for at least a little while....and I should be allowed to talk about it. I talked this week....friends listened....and I am moving forward.

Friday night, I was blessed to spend time with my dear friends Candace, Megan, Alicia, and Allison, and we all got to spend time with Brayden (Candace's 1 month old baby) and Lachlan and Kamden (Megan's 6 week and 3 year old children). It was so much fun to see all of them....I miss having my friends as a part of my day to day to life, but I do know that no matter how much time/distance goes between, we will always be connected. This is the essence of friendship, I believe.

At the same time, Luke was able to do some guy stuff with Nick & Chris...watching games and relaxing. I am happy that Luke's life can also be enriched by friends.

Saturday morning, we got up early to go to Indy's west side to clean up an elderly lady's home as part of a med school community service initiative. We planted flowers, mulched, cleaned up trash, raked leaves and sticks, pulled weeds, and really gave her yard a facelift. She was pleased, and we felt really accomplished. Helping people is just such an amazing experience. 

So, I didn't go to Florida or go on a cruise this past week, but I rested, relaxed, healed, had fun, and renewed my energy for the remaining 2 months of school. Life is good, we are blessed, and I couldn't be happier than I am in this moment!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chocolate Covered Strawberries (super easy!)

I made chocolate covered strawberries this morning (ironically after going to the gym), but this is a healthy recipe from my Flat Belly Diet book.

Mix 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of fat free milk in a double boiler. Reduce the heat to medium and stir the chocolate until it is smooth. This only takes like a minute, and you DON'T want to burn chocolate! It is so gross (and smells nasty, too!).

Take the chocolate off the heat and then dip the strawberries in until your heart is content. Place strawberries on a wax paper-lined cookie sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

I think this chocolate recipe would also be good for dipping pretzel rods. I made chocolate covered pretzels to go with Christmas presents a couple Christmases ago, and they were SO good. This version of the chocolate recipe is healthier because it uses semi-sweet chocolate chips with fat free milk...no cream or additional sugar.

Yum!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Hair

I  bit the bullet and cut off about 8 inches of hair! I love it!





Monday, March 23, 2009

Renaissance Man!

I have made the comment from time to time that Luke is a true Renaissance Man. He has always had an appreciation for the arts, especially music, and yet he has maintained an athletic reputation and is really good at anything that involves using physical ability. He appreciates musicals and artists and people talented in areas other than sports, but he loves his basketball and other sports teams. 

Well, on Saturday, he got the chance to show off his true Renaissance style as he helped a friend in medical school show off her sewing skills in a fashion show. This was called "Evening of the Arts," which is an annual production that combines medical students with Crispus Attucks High School students (it is a medical magnate school that IUSM works with frequently). The med students at IUSM are really diverse and have a lot of talents, so this is a night for them to show off what they've got. There were Indian dance performances, musical instrument performances, and a couple performances from the high school students. 

The fashion show was part of the Evening of the Arts, and Luke and his friend Taylor wore the Medieval garb made by their friend Katie. She makes Medieval clothes as a hobby. Who knew people did such things?! The fashion show was neat because we saw lots of traditional clothing from a variety of cultures (Chinese, Indian, African, etc). It made me wish I had a rich culture to show off other than my Ball State t shirt and sweats I am wearing right now! :-)

Anyway, check out the pictures and video. I didn't have enough room to get the whole fashion show, but I got Luke's part. I also got the 2nd year med students' Indian dance performance. A very cool and interesting way to spend a Saturday night!
  


video

video

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tile Progress

Luke really worked his butt off over his spring break to tear up 3 different kinds of 20 year old linoleum, take off all the trim work, remove a toilet, lay the tile, grout the tile, break 1 toilet putting it back on, buy a new toilet and correctly install it...and now we are only one tiny bathroom (and all the little detail work) away from having the project done. I thought I would show a progression so we could admire Luke's handiwork. Feel free to "oooh" and "aaaah" as needed.




Principle 5

Humbled.  This is how I felt after I read Principle 5 in the book, "God Will Make a Way." I haven't picked it up in a while. To be quite honest, I haven't really felt like I needed to. Luke and I really have made strides in the right direction since airing out our fears and thoughts and feelings and emotions with Abe & E. However, we got into a heated discussion last night about marriage and expectations and where we thought we were on this continuum of married life....and we found ourselves frustrated and probably quite upset. We have never, ever doubted the love we have, but the outside factors of med school, teaching 4th grade, commuting, board exams, and of course the miscarriage that ROCKED our world 6 months ago have weighed heavy on our hearts and have been holding us down both individually and as a couple.

We discussed the need for both of us to experience some maturation within ourselves...that we have to change how we handle our own life situations before we can contribute anything to the marriage. Bettering ourselves will only better our marriage. 

Well, I felt compelled to read the book last night before bed, and Principle 5 was about accepting blame and fault, and GROWING UP! I was reading the chapter with my mouth open wide, amazed and humbled by not only the words I was reading but the feelings I was experiencing in my heart. I couldn't believe the irony....and then I realized it of course was not irony at all. It was God working for us, within us....

The chapter was about a man and a woman whose marriage was struggling, and the man finally left. The woman initially was mad at him and blamed him for everything like she had done throughout the whole marriage, but after a lot of prayer and insight from other people, she realized that she was blaming her husband for things that she was responsible for. She was not accepting her role in the marriage failure. She spoke about the moment she realized that she needed to get herself organized, find happiness, and grow up....and she needed to apologize to her husband for blaming him for everything. When she did that, he forgave her and they lived a happy, happy life and rich marriage together. 

This situation isn't exactly like ours. Luke hasn't left, and we aren't miserable. However, I am disorganized and immature a lot of the time, and these character traits really affect our progress toward a fulfilling, blissful, peaceful, and easy marriage. Luke was blown away as well by the chapter in the book, and we feel blessed to have read those words at the most perfect time.

Sweet Potato Fries

I never ate sweet potatoes before I tried sweet potato fries at Amazing Joe's (a local Muncie restaurant) last summer. I fell in love with this wonderfully delicious variation of my favorite food, fries. I have tried a lot of my own recipes for sweet potato fries over the last few months, and my favorite so far is this:

This recipe is good for 2 people.

1 large, huge, ugly sweet potato (or 2 smallish-medium ones)
Chili powder
Garlic salt
Sea salt
Cumin
Olive oil

Peel the sweet potato and chop it into 4ths, then chop it down some more into 1/2 " thick strips. They don't have to be perfect, just about 4 inches long.

Put them in a bowl, toss with olive oil, then shake a lot of chili powder, garlic salt, sea salt, and cumin on them. 

Put on a cookie sheet, bake at 450 for about 20 minutes...flip halfway through. 

They are SOOOO yummy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gus & Sol

These boys bring such enjoyment to our lives! 

video
We had lunch on Sunday at the new Concannon's place for Eric & Lisa's birthdays. Gus was really tired and could no longer stand to be awake, despite the cookie in his hand! 


How sweet is Solomon? He's two months old already!

If at first you don't succeed....

We all have heard this before. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." It's as if this phrase is truer now than it was when we first heard it, probably when we were 5 and trying to kick our training wheels to the curb. As adults, why is it that we feel so much like failures now, when it was tying our shoes and printing our names that seemed to trip us up so long ago? On paper, we should be deemed quite successful. We have a mortgage. We have two, nice, newish cars. I have a career, and Luke is in med school. These are very successful things! We have friends, family, and health. We are happy. I feel silly, after looking at this list, for feeling like a failure...but today....I failed.

I failed at teaching today. I snapped at some kids, got annoyed with a parent, said immature comments to colleagues (out of frustration and only venting about that annoying parent, but still...I sounded 12, not 24), and left feeling very overwhelmed and MAD! I was so angry that I stopped and binged on candy on the way home (my drug of choice...Cadbury Creme Eggs). Because of that...

I failed at my diet today. I have lost 15 lbs, and now I am letting this frustration with teaching impact my health and good eating habits. This is disappointing to me, but I know I will be back on track. Getting healthy has been a saving Grace for me, and I know I can't fall off the wagon because of something an ignorant parent said.

The end result....even in all my shortcomings today....I know that tomorrow is a new day and I will be just fine. For all the reasons listed above (and then some), Luke and I are succeeding, not failing, in life, and we are very blessed.

In a funnier "failure" moment...Luke broke our toilet trying to put it back on after the new tile was laid. We had to buy a new toilet (money going literally down the "pooper"), but oh well. You kind of HAVE to have a toilet. But, he installed the new one (with some help from my dad), and we chalked it up to inexperience and didn't let it make us feel "crappy" (I can't stop!). Luke has done a great job with the tiling and now we are down to all the pesky details like trim and transition strips and touchups and all that good stuff. I can't wait until the house is put back together for good (or until I start my next project!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning

This weather has really inspired me to get my butt in gear and start organizing the house for the spring/summer season. Today has been kind of rainy, so what better day than to dig in and weed out TONS of old, out of style clothes and finally utilize the closet organizer system that has been in the trunk of my car for about a year. It has been fun to "purge" the old stuff, in hopes that in just a couple of months, I can shed the remainder of this "college weight" and buy some new clothes. I lost another pound today, making it 14 lbs total! 16 more to go...

Anyway, an update to the last post...I said I would calculate our monthly spending and usage on our electric bill. Since June/July when we moved in, our average bill has been $69.84, and our average usage has been 722. I look forward to watching that go DOWN (even though once I looked at it, I guess our bills aren't that expensive). However, every little bit counts. 

The tiling project is going well. The entryway is almost completely done (minus the grout and a couple corner pieces that require the use of a rented wet saw). It looks really, really great. 

Also, one of Luke's med school friends, Clay, gave him a bag of Amish Friendship Bread mix last week. I hadn't ever participated in this before, but it is really cool. The idea is to start the mix on your own, then after a few days, you add some ingredients and then split it into 4 additional mixes that you can give to friends. The friends then need to wait 5 days and then begin adding other ingredients and bake the bread. We finally baked ours, and WOW...it was amazing. It made nearly 3 loaves of bread, and it has this wonderful cinnamon sugar topping. Needless to say, between Abel being over here last night to help with tile, an impromptu visit from Eric & CeCe last night, and Luke and myself, the bread is nearly gone! Just Google "Amish Friendship Bread" and you will lots of recipes and variations.

I enjoyed a wonderful night of catching up with some sorority sister friends, Carly, Dani, and Kelley. We went to Bravo and had wine and great food, plus some great "adult" conversation. It's nice to hear other women my age talk about the same things I am always thinking/talking about. We will have to do it again soon! In Luke's world, he, Abel, Eric, and CeCe saw Slumdog Millionaire and loved it. 

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An Update

It's been a little while since I have checked in. I don't like to go tooooo long without posting something because I don't want to forget anything that has been going on lately. Things are going positively great right now. I really think that Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent has been a wonderful renewal for both of us. Our spirits are higher...our faces are brighter....and this SPRING weather is just what we need. It has been close to 70 degrees for the past two days, and it has been wonderful to air out our house and brighten everything up.

Luke absolutely KILLED his most recent round of tests at school. I am so proud of him. He truly works miracles sometimes. He studies so hard and is so diligent...and it always, always pays off. He was above the class average in his scores, and I am so proud of him. :-) He is now officially on spring break, which means the tiling project can now begin!

We bought some beautiful tile to put in our entry way and both of our bathrooms. The 80's linoleum has GOT to go! So, Luke has been ripping up the old stuff and now is ready to lay the first tiles. I can't WAIT to see what it is going to look like when it is all done. We also are always very aware of the term "resale value," and we know that replacing the old, crappy stuff and putting down a nice, quality tile will really come in handy for us when we eventually sell our home (but I don't want to think about that!).

In other home news, I got a wild hair today at Meijer and decided to buy the little swirly energy efficient light bulbs. I have wanted to do it for a while, but never wanted to spend the money. They aren't TOO much more expensive than regular bulbs, and they are supposed to save you a LOT on your electric bill. This makes me really happy. Plus, saving energy is good for the planet. I am going to go through our old electric statements and see what our average usage and cost has been, and then compare it in the months ahead. 

What else...what else. Really, our hearts are just in a great place right now, and we can't complain. I have really taken the initiative to take care of my health and over the past 15 weeks, I have lost 13 lbs. My goal is 30, and I am getting really close to the halfway mark. We have embarked on a mission to eat a diet full in good foods and really treat ourselves right. 

Life is really good. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Babies everywhere!

My good friend Candace gave birth to her first child, Brayden Michael Harper, last night! Luckily, she delivered him at Community North off 82nd street, so I was able to buzz right over from our house and be there in 5 minutes. I got to hold the little guy for about an hour, and of course I was amazed at how cute he was and tiny and precious. Candace is a natural mom. She definitely already knows what to do to make Brayden feel safe and secure. I am really happy for Candace and Damon. They are blessed!