Monthly Archives: October 2012

Crockpot Pumpkin Bread

Happy Halloween, everyone!  To me, Halloween officially kicks off pumpkin season, which lasts until Christmas.  I love pumpkin!  Pumpkin frappuccinos at Starbucks, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cookies, and (my favorite) pumpkin bread.  I got this recipe from Nate at Let’s Get Crockin’.  I tweaked it a little bit because I thought the original recipe was a bit bland.  I added more spices to it.  I’ve never made bread in my Crockpot before, but it’s surprisingly easy!  The secret is to trap in the moisture with a tea towel and leave water in the bottom of the Crockpot for the bread to absorb.

First, gather your ingredients.  You can probably find most of this in your pantry.

  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour (sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tsp. of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. of apple pie spice
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda

First, mix the oil and both of the sugars together in a large bowl.

Then, mix in the eggs and pumpkin.

Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Don’t be afraid to taste the batter and add more spices if necessary.

Find a bread pan that will fit comfortably in your Crockpot.  I used our reusable glass Pyrex containers.  They were the perfect size for making small loaves.  I’ve also used a bigger Pyrex container to make a standard sized loaf.  The smaller ones worked better for me this time because I planned to send these to school with Sam to give to his fellow coaches today as a Halloween surprise.  When you find a pan or container that will fit in your Crockpot, spray it with non-stick cooking spray and pour the batter in, leaving a little room at the top for the bread to expand.

Pour two cups of water into the bottom your Crockpot and place the pan inside.  Don’t add too much water or it will overflow into your bread pan, turning your pumpkin bread into pumpkin soup.  That’s what I’m here for– I make all these stupid mistakes so you don’t have to.  :)

This part is important.  Find a thin tea towel and place it over your Crockpot before putting the lid on.  If you don’t have a tea towel, the original recipe said paper towels will work just as well.  This will keep all the moisture from escaping while the bread is cooking.

Bake on high for 3 hours.  Resist the urge to peek at the bread!  Every time you take the lid off, the heat escapes and it disrupts the cooking process.

When the bread is done, it should look like this:

These made adorable gifts for the coaches!  I wrapped them up in pretty orange ribbon and sent them with Sam this morning.  Pumpkin bread is one of my favorite holiday treats, and it’s so easy to make yourself.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

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October 30th is Sam’s Gotcha Day!

Happy Gotcha Day!  If you’re not familiar with that term (like me three years ago), you probably don’t know anyone who’s been adopted.  In the world of adoption, “Gotcha Day” celebrates the day when a child comes home to his or her forever family.  Growing up, Sam’s family celebrated his Gotcha Day on October 30th, the day his plane landed in Dallas and they got to meet him for the first time.  It’s a special day in the lives of any family with adopted children.  Here’s what Sam had to say about it in a post on his 2010 Gotcha Day:

Gotcha Day. I’m not sure if you celebrate this day with your kids, but it still remains important in my life. Gotcha Day is the day that I was adopted, which is October 30th. As a kid, my parents would treat me out to dinner (my choice of course) as if it was another birthday. We would eat cake and icecream, and then go upstairs and watch the video of me being carried off the plane that had flown from South Korea. Growing up I had thought that the day was about me, and how special it was for me to come to America. But now, at the age of twenty-one, I’ve started to see things differently.

This year I reflected on just how much my parents have given me in life. How  much time, love, and money they have spent on me without hesitating for a second. My parents were right in celebrating Gotcha Day as a birthday, because it was really like being born again, being given a new chance to live in a great home. I realize now, that instead of celebrating and honoring me all of these years, I should have been the one honoring and celebrating them. They have shown me the love of Christ and have given me more than I could ever repay. I love them with all that I have and try to make them proud.

So if you don’t celebrate that special day when your little child came off that plane and into your arms, I strongly encourage that you do so. Let them know how much you love them and how much it took for them to be with you. I hope that one day your children will understand just how much love adoption truly takes and that they too will appreciate you as much as I appreciate my parents. If you want to talk some more, feel free to call me. Love you all and God Bless.

 ~Sam

Isn’t he wonderful?  I certainly think so.  Here’s a picture of him on his Gotcha Day, October 30, 1989:

Look at those rosy cheeks!

That’s him fresh off the plane from Korea.  His mom, Sue, is excited to finally hold her new son.  His dad, Ron (in the background), is equally as excited.  I’m so grateful for all the hard work and dedication his parents put into Sam’s adoption process.  It’s a long road full of setbacks and uncertainty.  Without all their prayer and steadfast faith, I wouldn’t know my best friend and husband!

Sam on his big brother Glenn’s lap, looked after closely by his mom, Sue.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep.  Sam was peacefully slumbering next to me, and I had my head under my covers browsing Pinterest on my iPhone.  I finally came into the kitchen for a glass of milk and decided to find Sam’s Facebook post about Gotcha Day.  After I found it, I still wasn’t sleepy and it was 2 a.m.  I kept browsing through his old Facebook notes and found one of those classic “21 Questions” posts.   The last question he asked was, “Where do you think I’ll be in 25 years?”  This was on May 30, 2009, 5 months before we started dating. I answered, ” You’ll probably be married with cute little asian kids, who all are excellent spellers with fantastic vocabularies.”  That answer made me laugh alone in my kitchen at 2 a.m.  If only I’d known those “cute little asian kids” would be mine!  It’s amazing that, after reading that post from three years ago when Sam and I were strictly “just friends,” I was able to finish my glass of milk, turn off the light, and crawl into bed with him and go to sleep.

That’s why I celebrate Gotcha Day.  It’s the day that made what I love about my life possible.

PLUS, it’s the day I get to pull out one of my favorite pictures of adorable baby Sam:

Gah! The hair! The smile! The shirt that says “Brand New Texan”! So much cuteness!

Finally, Gotcha Day reminds me of the debt I owe Sam’s mom.  I have the journal she kept during Sam’s adoption process, from the day the idea of adoption came to her to the day Sam became an American citizen.  Unfortunately, Sam’s mom is currently battling the later stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, and she’s had it as long as I’ve known her.  When I read her journal, I’m able to see the strong and determined woman she once was, the woman I never had the privilege of meeting.  I wish I could sit down with her and express my gratitude for bringing Sam from Korea, for loving him as much as her other sons, for accepting him into her family and being the mother he needed.  When I read her journal, I see how much she wanted him and it makes me so happy to know he was (and is) so loved by his family.  It’s too late to tell her all these things and have them mean what I want them to mean, but I hope she knows.  I’m so glad Sam has such wonderful parents that loved him when his own parents weren’t able to.  Here’s a clip from her journal on the day Sam came home.  I always cry when I read it.  Happy Gotcha Day, Sam!  We all love you and are thankful for you.

 

 

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Three Years Ago Today

On October 25, 2009, Sam asked me to be his girlfriend and my whole life changed.

Here’s us in one of our first pictures together.  We were at a birthday party, and we didn’t know each other very well.  In fact, we barely knew each other’s names.  We weren’t even Facebook friends yet (gasp).  All I knew was that he was very funny and good at Apples to Apples.

December 6, 2008

The next semester at school, our groups of friends merged and we started hanging out.  A lot.  We quickly became best friends, and I was sad to say goodbye to him for the summer when school let out in May.  He spent the summer in Austin working at a grocery store and lifeguarding, and I spent my summer in Midland working at a bookstore and a grocery store.  Even though we were both busy with two jobs, we still managed to find time to play online Scrabble with each other constantly (I lost about 90% of the games… Sam is so good at Scrabble).

When August rolled around, I was excited to move back to Abilene for a new semester at school.  The first day everyone returned, our friends all met up to say “hi.”  Sam was still cooped up in his dorm room unpacking, and I was so excited to see him that I called him and demanded that he drop everything and come see me– uh, I mean us.  Nope, scratch that, I wanted him to see me.  That’s where the confusing feelings started sprouting.

October 14, 2009

We started spending even more time together than before.  Turns out that Sam had a huge crush on me, and was finding every excuse to hang out.  Of course, I was completely naive and clueless.  Give me a break!  I’d never had a boyfriend before.  What, boys don’t just randomly agree to bake a cake with you just for fun without meaning something by it?  Oh.

Well, Sam had never been in a relationship either, but he certainly knew how to win me over.  Poor guy.  Everyone feel bad for Sam.  There he was, offering me his jacket when I was cold, bringing me candy at work, buying me soup and medicine when I was sick, carrying my backpack when he walked me to classes… And there I was, off in La-La Land, blissfully clueless that this super sweet guy was in love with me.  Oops.

October 17, 2009

Call me superficial, but one night Sam decided to put on a suit, shave, and comb his hair, and I could hardly keep my eyes off him.  Jeez.  What a hottie.  He was almost there… The next weekend was Fall Break at school, so I joined him and our friend Jeremy on a trip to Austin, where Sam is from.  We had such a fun weekend!  We enjoyed great food and did a lot of exploring.  I even talked Sam into trying on these pants.  Gah!  How could I not have known that he liked me?  He put on these pants to make me happy!

October 23, 2009

Basically, I spent the whole weekend trying to sort out a tangled mess of complicated emotions.  On the car ride home, I spent the entire three hours playing out imaginary scenarios in my head.  I couldn’t go to sleep that night without talking to Sam about it, and at around 10 p.m. we worked everything out and we’ve been together ever since.  So, today I’m celebrating me getting a clue and snatching up the greatest guy on the planet.  :)

November 11, 2009

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Little Panda Cupcakes

Are these the cutest cupcakes you’ve ever seen or what?!  I am so in love, in more ways than one.

I got the idea from Angie at Bakerella. Last April, she posted these adorable mini panda cupcakes, and I’ve been completely obsessed with them ever since.  I’ve been dying to make them and finally seized the chance today. What’s the occasion, you ask?  Well, this Thursday (October 25) marks exactly three years since Sam asked me to be his girlfriend!  We’ve come a long way since then, and what better way to celebrate my Panda than with these cute panda cupcakes?

If you want to make them yourself, they’re really easy and fun.  You can use any chocolate cake base and any white frosting.  I chose to use my favorite chocolate cake recipe (Revell’s Food Cake) and my favorite cream cheese frosting (I used it when I made my Checkerboard Cake).  I’ve copied the recipes here for easy reference, but if making cake and frosting from scratch scares you, a box mix and a tub of store-bought frosting will work just fine.  You’ll be missing out on this delicious combination, though!

Revell’s Food Cake

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Set mini cupcake liners into a mini cupcake pan and spray the cups with non-stick cooking spray (preferably butter flavored).
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer works best). Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee (hot), oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin and slightly bubbly from the hot coffee). Fill the cups 2/3 of the way full.
  3. Bake 12-15 minutes. Test with a toothpick or fork poked into the center. If it comes out clean, they’re done!
  4. Let cool for 30 minutes. Use wire cooling racks if you have them.

NOTEYou’ll probably want to halve this recipe.  It makes 96 mini cupcakes!

Cream Cheese Frosting

3-8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  1. Whip together the cream cheese, vanilla, and butter in a mixer until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy.

Pour your frosting into a pastry bag (or, if you’re cheap like me, use a gallon-sized Ziploc bag).  Snip off a tiny bit of the corner with scissors and frost each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.

Then, one by one, begin decorating.  First, use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the frosting into a flat surface.  Then, use chocolate chips pushed into the frosting upside down to create the ears and eyes.  Insert a chocolate chip sideways to make the nose.  I used Ghiradelli chocolate chips because the original recipe mentioned that they are bigger than normal chocolate chips.  I didn’t notice much of a difference in size, but the taste of these chocolate chips is above and beyond any other chips I’ve used.  I think I’ve ruined myself for the bargain off-brand chocolate chips, which is unfortunate because Ghiradelli chips are much more expensive.

I used chocolate sprinkles to make the mouth.  I put a tiny dot of frosting on the eyes, and used a sprinkle dot pressed in the middle of the dot to complete the eyes.  Here’s the first panda I decorated.  He’s pretty cute, but for the rest I tucked the ears partway under the frosting to make them look more like ears.

Yay!  A plate of pandas!  I have to warn you, these are very time consuming.  They would probably be easier if you were making them with friends and made some sort of assembly line.  They are worth the work, though.  I had so much fun making different facial expressions for them, and they’re just so darn cute I could hardly keep my eyes away.

Like I said, these take awhile.  I wanted to have them done before Sam got home from work so I could surprise him, so I did the next plate with just sprinkle decorations.  I think they turned out cute, too, and look like something you might find in a bakery.

They look cute together and would probably work well mixed together in a display.  I think this idea could also work for other animals.  Think regular bears with chocolate frosting, lions with orange frosting and butterscotch chips, tigers… So many possibilities!  You could make your own cupcake zoo.

When Sam got home, he loved the cupcakes!  They made him smile, even though he had a really hard day at school.  The only bad thing about these cupcakes is that they’re so cute, I had trouble eating them!  They are delicious, though, and after Sam enjoyed his first one I dug right in.  I’m sure these plates will be empty before Thursday!

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Sam’s Salsa

Did you know you can make your own salsa?  I didn’t until last year when Sam prepared for a party by hijacking our blender and using it to make the most delicious salsa I’ve ever tasted.  He uses fresh ingredients and gets to adjust it exactly to his taste so it has the perfect level of spiciness.  If you make salsa this way, you’ll save money and gain pride in yourself.  It’s so much more fun to bring homemade salsa to a party than to just show up with a jar from the store.

Sam has become fairly famous in our circle of friends for his salsa, but here’s a secret… He seriously just makes it up as he goes.  It’s exciting to watch him just dump whatever he feels like into the blender and see what happens.  Each batch he makes is different from the last, but they’re all delicious.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own salsa:

6-8 Roma tomatoes
1 white onion
1 bunch of cilantro
1-3 jalapeño peppers (depending on the level of spiciness you like)
Salt
Lime juice

Okay, ready?  Let’s go!

Chop up all the veggies into small, manageable pieces.  Sam has been known to toss whole tomatoes into the blender, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Make sure to chop the onion as finely as possible, unless you like chunky salsa.

Be very careful when handling jalapeños.  When Sam first made this salsa, he forgot to wash his hands and paid dearly for it later when he tried to take out his contact lenses.  I have never heard him scream like that.  Also, add the jalapeños one at a time, and taste the salsa before each one.  You can always add more if it isn’t spicy enough, but if you can’t eat your salsa without sobbing in pain then you’ve defeated the purpose.  If you can’t handle jalapeños at all, leave them out for a tasty mild salsa.

Now for the fun part.  Toss all the ingredients bit by bit into a blender.  If you have a food processor, that would probably work even better, but we don’t have one so a blender does the trick just fine.

Don’t overload your blender!  It will explode salsa all over your kitchen.  Trust me.

Here’s what it should look like after a few minutes:

Keep blending!  After a while, it should look more like this:

Yum!  Now, grab a bag of tortilla chips and taste your salsa.  Too much onion?  Add more tomatoes.  For this batch, Sam made a strong salsa with lots of onion.  At this point you can add salt and lime juice to suit your taste.

Amazing!  This batch was so spicy and strong, I loved it!  It’s more orange than most salsas, but like I said, he didn’t use many tomatoes this time.  The more tomatoes you use, the redder your salsa will be.

Now, share it with friends!  This recipe is also great to put into mason jars for gifts.  Just keep it refrigerated like any other salsa, and you’ll be good to go!  ¡Buena suerte!

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My Three Favorite Places on Earth

Today has been a wonderful, lazy Sunday.  The power went out at our apartment about an hour ago, and we spotted the electrician in his truck playing Solitaire on his laptop, so we figured it might be out for awhile.  That was the perfect excuse for a trip to Starbucks!  Progress reports for Sam’s students are due tomorrow, so he’s busy entering some last-minute grades and he needed to use the internet.  I got him a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino and I got a Raspberry Mocha Frappuccino, so we are both happy at the moment.

I wasn’t sure what to write about today, but I promised Sam I would post something on my blog while he worked on his progress reports so he wouldn’t get discouraged watching me play games on my phone while he was working hard.  Fair enough.

I started browsing my pictures and thinking about all the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen.  I picked three places on Earth that are my absolute favorite and posted pictures I took of them.  These are the first places I would go if I had the power to teleport.  If someone told me to close my eyes and “go to my happy place,” one of these places would pop into my head.

 

1.  The Front Steps of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, UK

When I studied in London, I visited this spot every few days for several months.  There’s always something to see and people to watch.  If offers a great view of Big Ben and Nelson’s Column.  I loved picking up a sandwich and crisps from Tesco and sitting on those steps to watch the busses drive by.  This is the place I sat on my last day in London and bawled my eyes out (much to the disturbance of some nearby tourists).  Those steps offered me peace in the midst of chaos, love in the midst of loneliness, and I want to sit there again so badly.

 

2.  The Panda House at the Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

I’ve already covered how much I love pandas, so this one shouldn’t be a huge surprise.  I first saw pandas at the San Diego Zoo when I was 11, but the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. is the first place I visited pandas with Sam.  I went back a second time last summer, and I could’ve stood there watching the pandas all day.  This is a place that gives me hope.  I see a species that has struggled to survive and the efforts people have made to save them.  I love pandas so much that seeing them in person makes me positively giddy.  Mei Xiang and Tian Tian feel like friends whenever I see them.  I’m that annoying “big kid” front and center of the exhibit who won’t move to let other kids see the pandas.  Sorry.  They’re my favorite.

 

3.  Beckham Courtyard, Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX

You’ve probably never heard of this place, and that’s all right.  This place has an extra-special place in my heart.  Sam and I went to school at Hardin-Simmons, and this courtyard is where we had our first kiss in October of 2009 and where he proposed to me in January of 2011.  This place has so many fantastic memories, and I love each and every one.  Sam and I would sit at the bench there late at night and talk for hours.  When I sit there, all I think about is how far we’ve come and how excited I am for our future.

(Jenny Linh Spradlin took this picture.)

(Rebecca Henschen took this picture.)

(Rebecca Henschen took this picture.)

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Proud to Wear His Name

The Panthers did not have a good week… The Junior Varsity team lost 54-0 on Thursday night, and the Varsity team lost 39-0 last night.  Did I mention last night was their Homecoming game?  It was pretty brutal.

A few weeks ago, I made a “Revell Sprit Shirt” to wear to the football games to support my favorite coach.  I didn’t really like the ones they were selling at the game, but I felt bad for not wearing the right colors to the games.  So, I went to Hobby Lobby, bought a shirt and some iron on letters, and ended up with this super cute shirt!

Wearing it to games is both fun and unsettling.  It’s so much fun to see Sam’s students rush up to me and gush about how much they love his class, how he’s their favorite teacher, etc.  One girl said she recognized me from the wedding picture Sam has on his desk.  The nice people at the concession stand always comment on my shirt and tell me how they love supporting the team.

On the other hand, the team hasn’t been doing well this season.  They’ve won one game out of the seven they’ve played so far, and they have three more to go this season.  Many parents are quick to blame the coaches for their sons’ performance on the field.  I’ve received plenty of sharp looks at games recently, and sometimes parents sitting behind me let their whispers carry a little too far.

Not only is this Sam’s first year of teaching, but it’s also his first year coaching football, or any sport for that matter.  He didn’t go to school to be a coach; he just ended up in the assistant coach position because that’s what his school needed.  He’s been working 70+ hour workweeks to get the team in shape and train them to play.  I think he’s done a great job so far, and I’ll tell that to anyone who says otherwise.

Maybe I’m just being a defensive wife, but I’m the one who sees him when he gets home from work in the evenings.  He puts down his bag, slips off his shoes, and goes straight for the bed to lie down.  He’s so dedicated in his work and he really cares about the team.  That’s why I never hesitate to wear my Revell Spirit Shirt to games.  I’m not ashamed of him.  I’m proud of him.

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Will Not Stay in Place, Will Not Stay Still

Today, I packed up my computer, drove to Starbucks, and spent several hours researching national poetry journals and their submission guidelines.

This is something I’ve been meaning to do since I finished my senior project last year, which involved compiling a poetry collection.  My creative writing teacher encouraged me to begin applying to creative writing master’s programs and submitting to poetry journals right away.  Obviously, I haven’t been able to follow through on my desire to complete an M.F.A. in Creative Writing yet.  It’s still one of my dreams, but the timing has to be right.  There are several programs on the top of my list, but they’re scattered throughout the country and they’re very competitive.  Since we live several hours from the nearest university on my list, now isn’t a good time to apply to the programs.  I’m hoping one day I’ll get the opportunity to complete a program at a university of my choice, but you know how life gets in the way.

However, submitting to poetry journals is something I can do from anywhere, and I’d like to go ahead and get started on that.  I have several strong poems that I’m interested in submitting, but I have to be careful.  Most journals publish quarterly, or four times a year.  Each journal rejects simultaneous submissions.  That means I can’t take my strongest poem and send it everywhere; I can only send poems to one journal at a a time.  If the poem is rejected, I can re-submit it to another journal.  The response time is anywhere from a few weeks to six months.  That’s why this process could take several years of waiting and rejection before anything gets accepted.

I took this picture in London, England. It’s been over two years since I studied abroad, but I’m still so inspired by my experiences in London and everything I learned there.

Being a poet isn’t a job; it’s a lifestyle.  No one makes a living as a poet, not even the most famous poets.  They all have other jobs (editing, reporting, teaching, motivational speaking, etc.) to back themselves up.  The luckiest poets (in my opinion) teach creative writing at large, successful universities and take paid sabbaticals to work on their collections.  Poetry journals generally don’t pay more than $100 per poem, but getting paid is rare.  Most journals pay writers with a submission to the journal itself.  Poets submit their poems because they want to be read, not because they want to be rich or famous.

Being published is a dream of mine.  When I tell people I love to write, most ask me if I’m working on a novel.  At the moment, I’m not.  Honestly, I don’t know how to write a novel, and I still haven’t figured it out yet.  It takes so much dedication, and a very good idea, to complete such a huge project.  I want to write a novel one day, but the right idea hasn’t hit me yet.  Poetry has always been my first love, so that is where I’ll begin.

I expect rejection.  These journals receive hundreds– even thousands– of submissions every year, and I don’t know if mine are strong enough to stand out from the crowd.  I’ll never know if I don’t try!  Time to get to work.

Here’s a quote from one of my favorite poets, T.S. Eliot, about writing:

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

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Luckily, Our Apartment is Missing the Self-Destruct Switch

We moved into our apartment on August 1.  That was 77 days ago, and I still don’t know which light switch works what.

It’s really a 50/50 shot every time I try to turn on the fan.

I’m having trouble settling into our new home.  Don’t get me wrong; I love our apartment and I love living here.  I’m just having trouble transitioning.  In our old house, it only took me a few hours before it felt like home, a safe place, a happy place.  Our apartment doesn’t feel like that quite yet.

It could be that our apartment isn’t the “friend hub” our college house was.  In college, our house always hosted social gatherings: birthday parties, Halo nights (for Sam), board game nights, etc.  It wasn’t at all unusual for friends to just stop by unannounced at odd hours of the night.  It was always exciting, and I loved keeping our house looking clean and cute for everyone to see.

Here, we’ve faced a big change.  Now, having friends over is a special occasion, one usually planned at least a week in advance.  Our house is quiet.  It’s strange to say, but having house guests is part of what made our old house feel so homey.  It was always full of people to share it with.  Here, it’s harder to settle in because we’re in a town with few acquaintances (I literally know one friend who lives here).  In our college town, we knew everyone.

Another reason why I’m having trouble feeling at home is this town.  It’s a beautiful town– nothing against it at all.  It’s full of beautiful ponds and lakes and I’ve enjoyed going for walks and seeing all the ducks and birds.  The problem is, I’ve never lived here, or anywhere close to here, before.  The entire area is new to me, and I haven’t done much exploring.  I only know where the grocery store, major fast food joints, the library, and the bank are.  Maybe I can fix that tomorrow when I browse some of the downtown thrift stores.

Finally, this isn’t home yet because we haven’t put down roots.  We’re renting our apartment, and our lease is only for a year.  We’re not sure how long we want to stay, and I don’t have a job I’m committed to yet.  All this uncertainty means I still get lost driving around, and I still can’t tell all of our light switches apart.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Letdowns and Upsides

This morning, I woke up with a huge headache, the kind that makes it hard to stand up and turn on the light.  However, I rolled out of bed and turned on the light anyway because I didn’t want Sam to be late for work.  Every morning I wake Sam up at 6:30 and get him ready for the day.  Sam is not a morning person, and if it was up to him, I think some days he might go to work in his pajamas or just not go to work at all.  (Just kidding, Sam has very good work ethic.)  I mostly like to get him ready for the day because it allows me a half hour every morning to just be with him before the day gets crazy and he has to drive off for 12 hours.  I like putting my hand on his sleepy face and whispering in his ear that it’s time to wake up.  I like helping him button his shirts while his eyes are still half shut.  I just think it’s cute and I don’t like wasting time with Sam.  This morning, though, he saw me grimacing as I laid out his clothes and sent me straight back to bed.

After he left, I had to send my friend Jessica a message explaining why I had to turn down this amazing internship she offered me in Dallas.  I truly felt terrible rejecting the internship, but it was too far away and life is just too rocky for us right now for me to be driving that far for an unpaid internship.  I need something a little closer to home base to keep an eye on things.

Without going into too much detail, Sam is having a rough first year of teaching (I know, I know… what first year of teaching isn’t rough?).  We’re currently facing some big decisions that will affect us and our future family for many years to come.  Sam even mentioned that he’d rather me not work right now and take care of things at home because we have so many things to work out.  I’m glad to take care of our family and it’s my number one priority.

However, I haven’t stopped casting lines to see if I can get any bites.  I had a big bite today while I was in Wal-Mart grocery shopping.  A man from ITT Technical Institute in DeSoto, TX called because I applied last week for a position as a library assistant.  He seemed very interested in my resume.  When he described the job, it seemed like everything I wanted: helping students, conducting research, organizing books… It sounded great, until he mentioned the hours.  12-9, Monday through Friday.

If I wasn’t married, I would’ve jumped on it in a heartbeat, but I made a commitment when I married Sam to no longer think selfishly.  I have to include him in all my thoughts.  We’re “one flesh,” after all.  So, I told him, no, I couldn’t work evening hours because I wanted to spend time with my husband, and he said he understood and promised to keep my resume on file in case any daytime positions became available.

So, I’ve had a frustrating day.  I keep running into dead ends: either flat-out rejections or opportunities that I have to turn down because they’re not right for us right now.  Some of you might be thinking, “You shouldn’t take a backseat to your husband,” or, “You should work whatever job you want to work.”  Those are valid concerns, but that’s just not how our relationship works.  We’re a team, and there’s no room for “me” thinking.  Sam goes to his job every day and works hard to make money for us, and I would do the same thing if I had a job right now.

This whole experience has been a lesson in humility.  I used to be a straight-A student with a great job… Take that away, and who am I? That’s the question I’ve been coping with, and I’ve found some interesting answers.  I’m a creative person.  I like taking care of our house and cooking dinners.  I like reading and writing.  I like playing with Rigby and learning new things.  Those things will be true no matter where I work or how many degrees I earn.  I can’t put my self-worth in money, because money is fleeting and will one day be spent.  I choose to put my self-worth in love and let everything else fall into place.

No job for now.  I’m still looking, but I’m not in a hurry or panicked anymore.  We’re going to be okay.  God has provided us with so many blessings, and he’ll provide the right job when the time is right.  In the meantime, I’ve had time to get to know myself and that’s a wonderful thing.

Here’s a peek at our “Blessings Board” and a few of the people we’ve gotten to see since we moved.

Sam with our good friend Will, who is currently living in New York City. We were lucky to snag a visit with him as he was passing through Dallas.

My friend Morgan who has been a loyal friend through many, many years. Not only is she adorable, but she’s living here in Waxahachie while she’s going to college so I get to see her often.

This is Sam with his mom, Sue, and his sister, Sara. They came up to Maypearl to watch Sam coach one of his football games. It’s always nice to see family, and it was especially nice of Sara to bring Sue up all the way from Austin. Sue is struggling with the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and each visit with her is precious.

This is Jeremy and Rebecca posing with giant chess pieces. They are some of our best friends from college, and we were lucky enough to get a visit from them last weekend.

That weekend, we also got a visit from Jeremy and Erica, some of our other wonderful friends! They gave us some awesome housewarming gifts and came over to share soup and talk. We are so lucky to be friends with these people!

Those pictures don’t even cover the visits we’ve had from our friends Ben and Camille or from Sam’s brother, Scott, his wife Chrissy, and their kids Johnathon, David, and Lizzy.  I’ve never been an aunt before and I love seeing my niece and nephews!  I love Scott and Chrissy and they are definitely role models for Sam and I.  It’s also always wonderful to get visits from Ben and Camille because they love to hang out and have fun with us.

Good news: my headache is feeling better. There are plenty of other upsides to life, and most of them involve the people I love most.  I guess that’s the most important lesson I can learn: happiness in life doesn’t come from money or success, but from the people you share it with.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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