Monday, December 14, 2009

The Semester's Finally Over!

Well hello there friends...

You may be wondering where we've been the past few weeks. Well, finals is the answer to that question. This semester ended with a bang as we both had a lot of studying to do as well as a lot of other stuff for school and work that all came at once.

Dan had several finals, plus presentations, including a presentation to a real company in town! He is so legit. And good news is that he did well in all his classes this semester, at least according to the grades he's gotten so far, so he will be chugging right along next semester with a supposedly even harder semester.

I had two finals, which you would think wouldn't be that bad, but it was. When you work at the same time and then also have other research, clients, etc. no matter how many tests you have it becomes difficult to study. I have no idea what grades I got yet, but I think I did fine...

which means...

I get my Masters!! YEAH!! I will have a Masters of Science in Clinical Psychology, which is just about the coolest thing ever, until I get my doctorate at least. So feel free to ask me all your psychology-related questions because now I can officially claim that I know what I'm talking about. Well...sort of, anyway.

And I know someone will ask this, so I'll just go ahead and remind everyone that no, this is not the final stop for me. It's just a little step on the way to my final doctoral degree. And I'm exactly halfway done with that degree. I have 1.5 years left of classes and then 1 year of internship, plus dissertation somewhere in there, to go.

So now we are officially done with school for the semester. I have two more days of work, and we both have a couple more meetings and such, but we're basically done. And in four days Dan and I will be traveling to Ohio, and we are so excited to see everyone, and hopefully see some snow too!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Will you pretty please vote for me?

My recipe is up! And I am up against some people with much better salesmanship and photography skills than I have...so I need you guys to help me out!

http://www.iledefrancecheese.com/blog/?p=504

Go there, and scroll down to "Kristi's Brie and Cherry Kolaches" and rate my recipe! You can give it anywhere from 1 to 5 stars and then the recipe with the highest rating wins. I'm not expecting to win first place but it does go all the way to fourth place, so I'd love it if you would help me have a shot!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Brie and Cherry Kolaches

Before I moved to Texas, I didn't know anything about Czechoslovakian culture. Luckily, it just so happens that West, Texas, which is about 20 minutes north of Waco, is full of people with Czech heritage. People even speak Czech there frequently, and they have a big Czech celebration every year called Westfest where people dance polka and drink "pivo" (beer).
Beyond Westfest, West is most known for their famous pastries called kolaches. These are delicious treats that all use the same yeast, sweet bread, and the fillings range from fruit, to cream cheese, to sausage! You can get sweet or savory, but either way, they are still called kolaches. Anyone who is from Texas knows to stop by Czechstop as they are driving up I-35 and the line is usually out the door to get homemade kolaches.
This story has a point, I promise! I was given some Ile de France Brie cheese to enter their recipe contest. I was stumped about what to make with it that would be different than what everyone else is making, when I thought of it - Kolaches! Of course!
Hence, I looked around online until I found a satisfactory recipe for the dough, and then of course I adapted it to my own needs. But all credit goes to Homesick Texan for the base dough recipe. created some Brie and Cherry Kolaches. And they were delicious. I want you to try these right now and tell me you don't love them. Dan was nervous about the concept at first, but he gave them two strong thumbs up after trying them and has since eaten most of them. We also took them to Thanksgiving to snack on before the meal, and they were declared a success there as well.
I'm going to enter the Ile de France competition with these, so at some point I might be asking you to vote for me if you like this idea! I'm sure that there will be people with way cooler and fancier recipes, but hey, it's worth a shot, right?
Here I am, putting the jam on each of them.

This recipe isn't hard, but it does take time for all the different risings. I would recommend making these on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I would also recommend making them smaller than I did, particularly if you want them for appetizers. They rise more than you think they will in the oven!

Ingredients:

1 package (or 2.25 teaspoons) yeast

1 cup warm milk (I used 1%)

1/4 cup sugar

4 cups flour (or more)

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 round Brie Cheese (I used Ile de France)

1 jar cherry preserves

Combine the yeast, milk, sugar, and 1 cup flour in a small bowl. Cover and let this rise until it's about doubled, maybe 20-30 minutes. While it's rising, beat together the eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and salt. Combine this mixture with the yeast mixture and beat again.

If you have a stand mixer, now is the time to use it. Stir in 2-3 cups of flour, while stirring continuously if you have a mixer. If not, add it about 1/2 cup at a time and then stir. You want the dough to be soft and pliable, but not too sticky. You should be able to knead it a bit without it being super sticky all over your fingers. If it's too sticky, add more flour. I used quite a bit, but a lot of it depends on the weather and humidity where you're cooking. I think I used about 4.5 cups of flour total. But don't freak out if you need to use a lot less than that, or even more - it's okay! Then knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or let your mixer do the needing for you. Let it rise, covered, for about an hour.

Once it's about doubled in size, punch the dough down. Grease two cookie sheets and start pulling off little balls of dough! I would recommend making these about the size of a small cookie. Roll each piece around in your hands a little until it's round, and then smoosh it down so it's a little flattened. Set them on the cookie sheet. You can put them kind of close to each other - traditionally, the kolaches are close together and end up shaped into sort of squares because they bump up against each other. Also, don't forget they will rise even bigger.

Next, use a spoon (or your fingers, whatever) and make an an indentation in the middle of each dough. You want to make this as wide as possible to fit in maximum possible toppings. Make it as deep as you can, but obviously not too deep, because you still need enough dough underneath to hold everything together.

Next, put in the Brie! Cut off a slice of cheese and press it into the indented part of the dough. Don't stress about how big or small it is...it really doesn't matter. All I can tell you is the more cheese, the better it tastes. I tried to fit about a 1/4 inch thick piece in each kolache, and just tore them to be the correct length. Next, top it off with the cherry preserves! Add about a tablespoon of this to each kolache. Of course, you can try other flavors of preserves or jams...we tried grape, but everyone voted that cherry was way better. I think fig would be delicious too.

You're almost done! Bake the kolaches in an oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes, maybe a little longer, until they look done and are a little browned on top. They might be a little messy, as you can see from the pictures below. That's okay. And you can also add more preserves once they've baked if too much slides off during baking. Just reheat for 15 seconds in the microwave and no one will be the wiser. Obviously, mine were super messy and you're also seeing the lack of photography skills I have. Oh well - I guess you'll have to try them yourself!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Weekend in NYC

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! We will be celebrating with friends in Waco this year. We are so thankful for all of our family and friends that we get to share the holidays with. I hope you all have a restful, blessed Thanksgiving.
I went to New York last weekend for the conference. It was actually pretty fun - I got to talk to a lot of people about my research, and learn some new things about therapy too!

Here is a picture right in Times Square. See the big Kodak sign on the left side? Underneath that was the entrance to the hotel where the conference was. We were right in the middle of things!

The first night, we went to a hot dog stand and then got pizza - we wanted to get the full New York City experience.

The next day, Saturday, I presented my poster. Here is a more-than-slightly-awkward picture of me in front of it, before everyone else got in there.

And that was it! One more night in the big city and then it was back to Waco. Goodbye, New York!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Update

I'm leaving for New York City tomorrow! It's going to be quite the short trip, because I'm not getting there until tomorrow afternoon and I'm leaving early Sunday morning. I'm going to the ABCT convention to present my research poster on Saturday. I wish I could figure out how to link the abstract here, but I can't. If you're interested, though, go to the site and click on Plan My Itinerary and then search for "Fogle" under presenters. My project should come up. It's very exciting but sort of a bad weekend...I have another test in my neuropsychology class on Tuesday, so there will be lots of studying on the plane for me.

In other news, Dan graduated wine tasting last night. He has taken four "semesters" over two years with his friend Matthew. Their final test was a blind tasting of four wines. Over the past years, only one person has ever gotten all four correct. Well, Dan became the second person to do so! (And another guy in his class did as well, so I don't know if that makes Dan the 2nd or 3rd, but whatever.) He tasted four wines and, not knowing anything about them, identified them as 1. Chardonnay 2. Riesling 3. Cabernet Sauvignon and 4. Pinot Noir. I know, right, there is no way in a million years I could get all those. Maybe if it were matching? So the next time Dan tries to downplay his supertaster abilities or his wine knowledge, don't trust him, because he is legit!

For Thanksgiving, we're staying in Waco and spending the day with Camden and Matthew. It should be fun although of course I'll miss spending the day with family, and all the fun that comes with it such as Left Right Center and Catchphrase. The four of us might even go spend a couple days in Hill Country though at a friend's cabin...so I'm sure it will be a nice relaxing couple of days off.

I'll have my M.A. after this semester's over...you can just call me Master.

Dan will still be closer to his final graduation than I am however. (He'll have 1.5 years, I'll have 2.5 years.)

How's this for a random stream of consciousness post?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best Birthday Present EVER

Sammie turned two last week. Yep....you missed it! Again, for the second year in a row, she got no presents from any extended friends or family.

Except one.

Oh, and was it an amazing present.

Dad and Diane picked out something special for the Saminator.

And technically they didn't even know it was her birthday, they just thought it was cute, but that's okay too, because we saved it and gave it to her on her birthday.

Are you ready for this?



She got A SNUGGIE!!

And now it's keeping her nice and warm here in...err...Texas. Well, it has been getting a little chilly at night!


And that's all for tonight...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Columbus Marathon 2009 - Complete!

We had a great weekend at home, including Rachel and Ryan's wedding, time with family, and seeing the beautiful fall trees that I haven't really gotten to experience in three years! But I want to take this post and just give you all my marathon recap. So feel free to read carefully (Scott) or skim through this (everyone else), depending on your level of interest...

Saturday night, we had pasta and bread for dinner at Dan's parents' house. We ate kind of early, around 6:30, and then went back to my dad's where we were staying. I got all ready for Sunday morning, laid out my clothes, packed my backpack, and set my alarm for 5:30! I also drank approximately 17 glasses of water during this hour because I hadn't been doing the best job of staying hydrated all day. I read for a little bit and about 9:30, decided to try to go to bed. I had some trouble falling asleep but it wasn't too bad, and I think by 10:30 I was passed out. I woke up a couple of times to go to the bathroom (hmmm, probably why I shouldn't drink so much water right before bed, but oh well) and each time got nervous that I wasn't going to wake up for my alarm. But I was tired and so I fell back asleep, and next thing I know my alarm went off! I jumped out of bed and got ready in about 8 minutes. Julie was already downstairs making breakfast. I grabbed a Gatorade for the car ride and we were off! We drove to her apartment parking lot and met Diana, Ashley, Nan, and Morgan. We piled in one car and were off downtown.

We parked in the Nationwide parking lot and got to get ready in the locker room there. It was so nice and so warm. I ate my Clif Bar, attached my bib, put on the Vaseline...you know, all the fun stuff before a big race! We finally went outside and it was cold! I think it was in the 30's and it warmed up to the 40's or 50's during the rest of the race. I thought this would be way too cold for me but it felt sooo perfect! Training in Texas's heat and humidity has its advantages, because I felt so great in the cool weather. Anyway, as soon as we got into the big group of runners waiting to start, we all warmed up because we were packed in like sardines. Apparently 14,000 people ran the marathon and we were all packed into like two blocks of downtown Columbus. The race was supposed to start at 7:30 but we just inched forward for about 15 minutes. Actually, we officially crossed the start line at 7:44. And we were off!

It was really crowded at first and so we were having a hard time staying together. We were constantly having to dart in between people and around others in order to keep a good pace and stay together. But the crowd thinned out after the first mile or two, and we were able to stay together pretty easily. We saw some of the front runners of the race looping back for their mile 7 when we were on mile 2 - wow! They were probably running faster than my sprint, and they were on mile 7 of the marathon. But we still were passing lots of people so it didn't ruin my confidence. :)

We saw Dan and the rest of his family at mile 2! They cheered us on. Mom and Grandma were there too but somehow we missed them. It was still decently crowded at this point so I guess none of us were looking in the right direction at the right time. We saw them all again when we looped back around though at mile 7. We were running about a 10:20 pace at this point and I felt good. I was getting water or Gatorade at every stop so I wouldn't get dehydrated. I only took a sip or two each time but it helped. We also started taking Gu breaks at around mile 6. I think I had three Gu's throughout the marathon. I would have liked to have had at least one more but my stomach said no way.

Julie decided to take a Port-A-Potty break at around mile 7 or 8. We all slowed down but kept running so that she could catch up to us. I got really nervous that she wasn't going to find us - I think it was my big sister conscience kicking in! It probably took her like 10 minutes to catch up but she finally did! We started running faster again and then did the same thing later when other people had to take breaks. At around mile 15 I started getting ready for it to get hard. We were all having so much fun running, and we were talking, laughing, even singing! I remembered my last marathon and how much harder the last eight miles were than the first 18. But we just kept running and I kept feeling good! It never really got to that point, even in miles 20-26 I kept feeling like the mile markers were coming pretty fast. The last marathon, they seemed to take forever to appear at this point, but here it really didn't feel like it at all.

We had people cheering for us almost every couple miles; it was amazing! The Fogles and Julie's roommate, Megan, were probably our biggest supporters - we saw each of them I think four different times throughout the course! Donna and Carl also cheered and brought signs that had all of our names on them, and we saw them several times too. Ashley's family was there, my cousin Josh was there, my dad was there twice and Diane was there at the finish, and my mom and Grandma, and Nancy... Nan and Diana also knew a lot of spectators and they cheered for us too. Basically, just about every mile someone was there for us. It made it SO fun! We were constantly watching to find someone we knew and then we got extra bursts of energy when we saw them.

There were also lots of bands playing, and random people cheering us on, and lots of cute dogs out on the course. We saw a little kid in his driveway playing his drum set for us. There was some lady playing a trumpet. We ran by Governor Strickland and Diana yelled "Hi Ted!" to him. When we went by Anthony Thomas' house, they were handing out buckeyes. I thought I would throw up if I even got close to one, so I didn't take one, but Diana luckily grabbed me an extra one and I ate it on the plane ride home.

At about mile 20, Ashley decided to put on her MP3 player and run a little faster because she was feeling pretty good. Julie and I were running together at this point, and we somehow got a little ahead of Nan, Morgan, and Diana. We didn't really want to slow down but they were right behind us for a mile or two. Then we looked back and they were gone! We had somehow gotten ahead of them, so we decided that rather than stopping and waiting for them, we would just go out on our own and even pick up the pace a little. If we had stopped at that point, I really don't think I would have been able to start running again. My legs were like concrete, but concrete machines that were on autopilot and just kept running. Also, I was completely amazed that I hadn't walked so far and I didn't want to break the streak now since we were within a couple miles of the finish. I still can't believe I did that. On my training runs, I even stopped and walked on 6 mile runs. But yet here I was running the entire marathon. Who even knows, I guess it was the combination of being so energized and ready as well as the weather.

So we kept going! At about mile 24 I started feeling like I was going to throw up. But I just kept going. It was a weird feeling of, oh well, I might throw up, but who even cares, I just need to keep going. Julie was still singing at this point, so she was feeling fine, but I sort of stopped and zoned out to try to my nausea under control. I even skipped the last few Gatorade stops because I didn't think I could put anything else in my stomach. I think we passed probably 100 people in these last two miles. I guess we were speeding up when everyone else was giving out. At about mile 25.75 the finish line "tunnel" began! SO many people were crowded around and cheering for us. They had loud music playing and an announcer giving the names of everyone as they crossed the finish line. Julie and I sprinted down the end. We passed several people right at the end too and finished together in 4:33:11! That's a 10:24 pace. Ashley had finished about 10 minutes ahead of us and she was waiting for us at the finish line. We got our blankets and medals and then waited for Nan and Diana and Morgan. My teeth started chattering right away, I was freezing! Luckily I never did throw up. I ate a half of a banana and drank some water and began feeling better. We ended up by taking some pictures and then we all went back to the locker room, showered, and went out to lunch.

What a crazy surreal feeling of running 26.2 miles. I was pretty sore on the plane back to Waco. Dan had to walk in front of me on all the stairs so that I could lean on him. I had the most trouble with ramps...for some reason, my legs would not work right on a downhill ramp. My legs also kept giving out randomly - needless to say we walked very slowly through the airports. I wore my medal the whole time and got lots of congratulations. On the flight to Houston, there were three other marathon runners wearing their shirts and/or medals. We all congratulated each other and shared our experiences - I felt like I was part of some club or something. Overall, this marathon was really just about perfect. Although my time was slower than my first one, I expected that, and I'm so proud that we ran the whole thing! I also had so much fun with everyone we ran with, and all our spectators.

If you are interested in seeing pictures, go to marathonfoto.com, select the Columbus marathon, and type in my last name and bib number (1321). I know some people took pictures but I don't have any of those yet so unfortunately none for the blog yet! I will post them if I get some.

Today I woke up and I was pretty sore, but mostly just really tired. I went to work and wondered why I decided it was a good idea to work a full day today. I seriously was so tired I almost felt sick. At lunch time, I grabbed a pillow and blanket, shut the door to my office, turned out the lights, and PASSED OUT. I slept for the entire hour. The kind of sleep where you wake up and you have no idea where you are or what's going on. (Or maybe that feeling just came from the fact that I was sleeping on the floor of my office...) But that helped a lot because the afternoon felt much better. Everyone teased me for sleeping on the floor but I really don't think I would have made it the rest of the day if I hadn't done that!

Marathon #2, complete!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's over! Next up - the marathon!

Well, that week is over. You know that week, think back to college days. It's the week that somehow seems to happen every semester, no matter which classes you're taking. Where each professor decides that specific week would be a good one to give huge exams, and then somehow it always coincides with everything else ever in your life.

Last week, Dan and I pretty much hunkered down and studied all week. We didn't go to our church small group, we didn't go on walks with Sammie every night...instead, my time was split between being in front of my neuroscience book studying drugs and the brain, and being in front of my computer typing out answers to a take-home test for psychodynamic psychology. Dan was working on a group project and studying for a test in Organizational Behavior, and he also took a trip to Dallas on Friday to visit Baylor Medical Center.

But - it all came to an end! It's over! I took my neuroscience test, turned in my twelve page single spaced take home test, and finished the discussion section to my research paper for my lab. Dan finished his stuff, went to Dallas, and last night we celebrated being done with that week with a dinner out at Carino's - yum!

And next week at this time, I'll be running the Columbus Marathon!! Crazy! I looked at the weather earlier and there's a 40 percent chance of showers, so hopefully that will go away within the next week. We're coming home Thursday night, going to Rachel and Ryan's wedding on Friday, relaxing on Saturday, running a marathon (me) and coming home to Waco (both of us) on Sunday, and returning to work/school on Monday! Yeah, it's going to be a little tiring but I'm so excited. I barely have any running to do this week; I'm already a little stir crazy because today is supposed to be a 'rest' day - I hate those! Okay, normally I don' t hate those, but I've had way too many rest days the past week and I'm feeling the need to RUN! I guess that's a good sign, I think that's how you're supposed to feel your last week of tapering. But ugh - I honestly feel like I'm going to have to control myself from not sneaking out the door and running around the Bear Trail. This training experience has been a little different for me than last time - I am feeling much slower and way less prepared - but it's good to know that tapering still has the same effects, it makes me feel like I must have been training right anyway.

Stay tuned! T - 7 days until the marathon! T - 4 days until we're back in Westerville for the first time since last Christmas!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Visitors!


The weekend after we came back from Colorado, Kelly and Scott visited. For those of you who don't know them, Kelly is one of my best friends and she was a bridesmaid in our wedding. They were on a trip visiting potential seminaries and made a special side trip down to Waco to come see us! We felt very loved and did our best to give them a feel for our Texas life during the 24 hours they were here. Unfortunately it rained - poured - the entire time they were here, so we didn't get to walk around much. We still took them to some of our favorite restaurants, showed them where we work and go to school, and gave them as much time bonding with Sammie as they could handle. (I know, we are so generous.)

Thanks for coming, Scott and Kelly!

The weekend after that, Dan's parents came to visit! We also had a great time and were pretty spoiled by going out to dinner every night and getting one of these with Fogle spelled out, which may be the absolute coolest thing I have ever owned. We had some interesting experiences - there's something about the Fogle men which causes old ladies and other random people to spontaneously talk to them about the most random things! Dan actually had a lady sing some song about Michigan to him in the middle of a store. That story really makes just as much sense to me as it does to you. Of course, we forgot to take pictures...as usual.

And now we're back in an apartment by ourselves. Which is good in some ways but also sad. Luckily, this weekend is Dan's 25th birthday so we have lots of plans. And he already went through his quarter-life crisis last year so there's no worrying about that. All he has to worry about is that he asked for a suit for his birthday, which makes him kind of old and really lame.

Marathon training update - I have my 20 mile run tomorrow - yikes! I'm on call for the counseling center so I will be running the entire thing with my phone clipped to my shorts and a pen and paper stuck in the pocket in my tank top, along with my shot bloks. It's my longest run of training and after this I start tapering ... just over three weeks to go until the big day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Snack Time

Thank you, everyone who commented when I asked for suggestions for my blog. I will definitely get to all those at least once and maybe more often. (Although unfortunately, I can't promise that Dan will respond to the requests for him to write - he claims to be "too busy" while only taking 18 hours of MBA classes a week - hmmm....) I decided I would start by posting some new recipes I've made lately! I wasn't planning on blogging about any of these, so I don't have any pictures, but the next time I make something fun I'll be sure to capture the process.

Now that I'm working at the Counseling Center, I have to bring some sort of breakfast item to work once or twice a month. I've also gotten better about bringing a couple snacks from home, since when I get really busy, I tend to get really hungry as well and need something quick to snack on in between sessions. So, I've been doing more baking recently.

My requirements tend to be something that tastes good (i.e. has some sweetness to it), is fairly healthy, fairly cheap or easy ingredients, and will hopefully be enjoyed by people other than myself. The following recipes have all met those requirements!

She posted these yesterday. I made them today. I am trying to refrain from eating them all so that I can bring them to work tomorrow. This may or may not work. They are GOOD. Crumbly, but oh so GOOD.

I actually made this out of my Sweet Freedom Cookbook, but luckily for you, Ricki posted the recipe on her blog as well. This was a perfect afternoon snack (and morning, and evening, and...). It's not super sweet, like I thought it might be. In fact, I'm not sure the word "cake" is exactly appropriate in the title. It was more like a muffin-y sweetness and texture. One of those really good muffins that's healthy as well. But since it's made in a cake pan and then cut in to squares... Actually, you could probably just bake it in a muffin pan and then the whole dilemma would be gone. Okay - I'll move on.

These were in my How to Cook Everything cookbook, but I just found them on Mark Bittman's blog. Hm.m, I'm starting to wonder if there's even a point to buying cookbooks anymore. Regardless, these are light little egg white and coconut treats that taste sort of like angel food cake bites. The best part of these was that Dan couldn't keep his hands off of them! You know a baked good is a success if that happens. If you aren't a huge fan of coconut, though, I would skip these, or maybe try almond macaroons instead. (I think those are more common, but I haven't made them, so I'm not going to link to a specific recipe.)

I'd love to hear your suggestions for good breakfast/snack/potluck/etc dishes. I've been looking for a good fruit salad one, but I haven't found what I'm looking for yet. I'm also always looking for just anything a little different than what everyone else is bringing.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Weekend in Beaver Creek


Hey....that picture doesn't look like Waco!

That's because it's not! We spent the weekend in Beaver Creek, Colorado, for our friends Matthew and Camden's wedding.

We've been good friends with Matthew and Camden for about two years now, ever since we moved to Waco. Dan lived with Matthew for a while before we got married, and they've taken wine tasting together and spent quite a bit of time talking about Ohio State football, dogs, and beer. Camden and I are in the same program, although she's way farther than I am - she's graduating in December! And she is starting work at the Counseling Center with me right when they get back from their honeymoon. So clearly we were really excited to see them finally get married.

Let's be honest though, we were also really excited to spend the weekend in Beaver Creek. And we weren't disappointed. This place was ridiculous. It was so beautiful and so perfect it was almost scary. We decided it was kind of a cross between Disney World (think Fort Wilderness) and Pleasantville. We traveled up with friends and spent the weekend relaxing, eating and drinking, hiking, and of course attending the wedding. We stayed at the Beaver Creek Lodge, along with most of the wedding party and guests. (Shout out to Priceline for our great deal on the room in this hotel!)

On Friday night, there was a s'more party at the firepits in the Beaver Creek village. We had gourmet marshmallows (think homemade with flavors such as toffee and creme-de-menthe) and hot chocolate.

Here are Dan and I along with Jim, Cassie, Lauren, and Adam right before the wedding.
Here are Camden and Matthew, along with some of the wedding party, as they're taking pictures.
Neither one of us is actually looking at the camera, but I still like this picture! It's outside at the reception. There was a really pretty deck with a great view, so we stood out there and chatted during the cocktail hour.
Here we are with the bride and groom!
Beaver Creek was celebrating Oktoberfest while we were there, so on Sunday, we went out to the village and spent some time listening to German music, admiring everyone's steins, and eating bratwurst and potato salad.
I want to go back. Dan wants to go back during snowboarding season. I would be pretty content just to go back and do some more intense hiking or mountain biking. Either way, it was a great vacation, and it will probably tide us over for a couple years until we can build back up the bank account and take another one! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Day in The Life of Dan

I took these pictures of Dan when he was teaching his Spanish classes about the words for a daily routine. I just found them again...and I think they're fun. So here is a day in the life of Dan! (Slightly outdated, because it doesn't include his nightly MBA studying.)



Notice the syrup with the cereal...hmmm.....

Home from school!


I don't think we ever realized that there were wine bottles in the above picture. Oops!


Good night!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hey...I'm Back!

Okay, after my summer blogging break, I'm back! I'm going to start posting on a regular basis again. (Knock on wood.)

So for those of you out there, what should I post about? What do you want to hear about? Jobs, school, our marriage, psychology info? What questions do you have for me and Dan? What else do you want to learn about Sammie? More recipes? More pictures?

I need to know before I can delve back into this. So if you're out there...comment!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Still Alive...

Just haven't had much time for blogging lately... or desire, to be honest! Don't worry, both will come back in time.

Let's see... we are both done with summer classes this week. I finished yesterday, Dan finishes on Friday. Fall classes start the week after next.

In less than a month (Labor Day weekend), we're heading to Beaver Creek, Colorado, for Camden and Matthew's wedding! I'm excited for that. And then about a month later, we'll be back in Ohio for a weekend to see Rachel and Ryan get married and then for me to run the Columbus Marathon!

That's right, Marathon #2 coming up this fall. So far training has been really hard because it's so hot, or at least that's the reason I'm telling myself. But I'm sticking with it and I'm excited to run with Diana, Julie, et al. (Although I'm sure I won't do nearly as well without my trainer Scott next to me this time.)

We watched The Soloist this weekend. It was really good.

Dan would've had to go back to high school last week if he'd continued teaching. Therefore even though he has four tests this week and is exhausted, he is feeling very grateful for his current situation.

Back to work I go!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Schedule

We're almost halfway done with the second summer session, and I realized I haven't really shared what classes Dan and I are taking right now. Sooooooo since I'm sure everyone is dying to know....

I am currently taking Social and Organizational Psychology. I actually find these topics really interesting. We're just reading lots of research on why people feel, think, and act the way they do. We talk about group behavior, attraction, prejudice, job satisfaction, and all sorts of things. Because this is a summer class, it's four hours a day, twice a week. That's a little long for one class, so I still have some major trouble paying attention - but it's interesting! I feel like I'm learning all sorts of random quirky information. For example, if you are winning at a game or having a pleasant experience, you will like the people near you more than if you are losing at a game or having an unpleasant experience (regardless of the person themselves or whether they're winning or losing). Or, satisfaction in your job or relationship is really not very strongly related to leaving a job or a significant other - these behaviors are more related to how much you feel you've invested in that job and how many alternatives you believe you have.

Dan is currently taking three classes: Finance, Business Law, and Economics. Finance is by far the hardest, but he just had a big midterm yesterday and felt like he did okay. Business Law has been fun - for example, yesterday, the class walked around the business school building and tried to find reasons that someone might sue the business school. He's still working really hard but also is still learning a lot and enjoying it.

Dan is taking those classes as well as a 10-hour-per-week Graduate Assistant position. I'm taking my class as well as working 20 hours at the Counseling Center and doing five hours of research work each week. Summer school is sort of brutal, but it will be over for both of us in about three weeks! Then we get a short break from classes, and onto fall semester we go!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Half of July in Cliffs Notes

July 1 - My birthday! Day off, spent with family and friends, and relaxing...pretty much perfect, really.

July 2-3 - School and lots of it. Finishing up Summer 1 session.

July 4 - Cookout but no fireworks...it was still 100 degrees out at 9:00pm so we decided to skip it. Plus...we're kind of lame like that.

July 5 - I start at the Counseling Center, get my own big office, find out I work with really cool people, and I'm really just so excited about this year. I'll start seeing clients next week - yikes!

July 6-7 - School and lots of it. Oh yeah, and heat too. Lots of that. Dan starts Finance, Business Law, and Economics. I start Social and Organizational Psychology.

July 8- Mom, Mark and Julie come! Sammie is overjoyed at her new armadillo and rabbit, and of course her best friend Julie. Sammie does not let Julie, the armadillo, or the rabbit out of her sight for the next few days.

July 9 - We all go to the Mayborn Museum, try to go to dinner at George's with Sean, Faith, and Calah, wait an hour and then they tell us they really don't think they'll be able to seat us, so eat dinner at Ninfa's and resolve to hold a grudge against George's.

July 10 - Show them around my new work and introduce them to coworkers. Dan introduced Mark to the Gut Pack, head to Salado and walk around, get really hot, go to Austin and settle in for the weekend

July 11 - walk around Austin, see UT campus, Capitol building, get really hot and go back to hotel. While everyone else rests, I drag Mom to go shopping at Crate and Barrel and Whole Foods and make good use of my birthday money. That night we went to see Esther's Follies, which was the highlight of the weekend for me - GO if you're ever in Austin!

July 12 - Brunch at the Oasis, with the most amazing view I've ever seen. Outlet shopping in the afternoon, as well as a trip to Ikea. Drive back to Waco. Cry on the way home because I get sad when my family leaves. :(

Here's a picture of the view from the deck of the Oasis - this is Lake Travis, in Austin:

July 13-15 School. Heat. Work.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Picnic at the Park!

On Saturday, we got together at Cameron Park with our friends from our small group at church. It was really hot - like 104 degrees hot - and after we'd been there for about 15 minutes, we were all wondering why we'd decided to get together outdoors. But after we got used to the heat, we had a great time. We went hiking, played with dogs, and cooked a yummy lunch on the grill.
Here are all the girls:
And all the guys:

Here's Dan with little Kennedy on his shoulders. She told me she was playing a game with him where she covered his eyes. I'm not sure how much Dan enjoyed that game.

But apparently it looked fun to other little girls, and soon Dan was the hit of the party with the kids!We were sooo tired after spending about four hours outside in the heat. Here's Dan driving home...you can tell we are about to take a looooong nap!

And one more of Sammie, just for good measure!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Winding down the Year

I have TWO more days to go at the Speech Clinic! I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. (Do I say that in every post? Well, it's true.) My last day is Monday, June 29th. Then I get a break from practicum for Wednesday and Friday, and start at the Counseling Center on Monday, July 6th.

I'm continuing my life-long (minus last year) streak of not having to work or do anything on my birthday. Because it's in the summer, I never had to go to school in grade school or college. When I had part-time jobs, I always took the day off. Our first year in Texas, it was a Sunday. Last year is the only year that I haven't succeeded in having a commitment free birthday, because I had class! (I can hear Grandma right now in my head, saying "Horrors! You poor thing!") Well, this year I was determined to get back to my usual laziness, and I did. Well, full disclosure: I didn't have to do anything - that's just the way the schedule worked out. So I will be turning 24 on Wednesday and spending a good part of it laying by the pool.

So anyway, I get a little break and then I'll be starting at the Counseling Center. I've been thinking a lot about how different it will be. Although I'm excited to start, I'm the kind of person who doesn't like transitions. Change always sounds good to me right up until the time I actually have to do something new, and then I decide I'm comfortable where I'm at, thankyouverymuch. So I've been preparing myself and thinking a lot about what I've learned this year at the speech clinic.

1. I've gotten pretty good at understanding kids who are either really young, have a speech disorder, or both. My husband is completely amazed by this talent, and enjoys listening to me converse with two-year-olds and other young kids, because before this year he really didn't think they were speaking English - he's still not sure.

2. I have gotten a lot better at diagnosing autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, and emotional disorders, especially in children.

3. I've gotten practice with family therapy and play therapy.

4. I've become very experienced with anxiety-related therapy.

5. I may not want to spend the rest of my career at a place where they have unlimited ice-cream sandwiches, chocolate milk, soda, and donuts, unless I want to become obese. (Dan the other night at dinner, commenting on our surplus of donuts: "The donuts are just so good! They're calling to me, saying, 'Eat me, I'm tasty! But I'm gonna give you di-uh-bee-tuhs!'"

6. I have become a lot more experienced in dealing with parents. It's hard sometimes to ask them very blunt questions, or to have to give them bad news! But I've done this a lot and it's a lot easier now.

7. I want an office with windows.

8. I really like writing psychological reports. This is very unusual. It's kind of like the kid who considers math their favorite subject. Oh wait, that was me too. Oh well - I'm weird.

9. How to give speeches - to people who are way older and more experienced than me - and not sound completely terrible.

10. I really like being able to walk to work! Luckily, this will continue next year.

One last note - it's been two years since the move to Texas! (Let's all say it together - "Wow, I can't believe how fast time flies!")

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Halfway!

I almost forgot to tell you! I am exactly halfway done with the school part of grad school!

I started in summer 2007. Since then, I have taken 4 full semesters, and 3.5 summer sessions.

I will be finished with classes in summer 2011. I have 4 more full semesters to go, as well as 3.5 summer sessions!

I can't believe it - there is actually an end in sight. It's all downhill from here.

Granted, my dissertation will have to be completed in this time, and then I have a year long internship after finishing classes before I can graduate. So I'm not exactly halfway done with grad school. But I'll take being halfway done anywhere I can get it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh yeah, I have a blog...?

Don't worry, we're still alive and kickin' down here in Waco. For the last two weeks, life has pretty much been consumed by school for both of us. This leaves precious little time for other things such as you know, each other...

But it's not that bad. For both of us, summer classes are just pretty difficult and time consuming. Adding in the fact we both have jobs and plenty of other commitments, the days can stretch out pretty long. But after July's over, things will calm down a little.

And we are having fun. Dan's really enjoying school - well, as much as you can enjoy something that's super challenging and time consuming! It's really looking like he made the perfect choice to go back to school. We are just praising God for the way things worked out.

In Sammie news, she's learned how to pull my hairtie out of my pontail while I'm sitting on the couch, so that keeps her entertained. Also, she just got a new toy that holds an empty water bottle inside of it. She is sad that we're now taking our after-dinner walks later in the evening, since it's pretty much a sauna outside until 9:00 or so, so every night from about 7:00 on she sits by the door and waits until we go.

Well, summer posts will probably continue to be somewhat short and sweet, unless something important happens. Or unless the temperature goes back below 95, because then maybe I'll have a little more energy... :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cyclone Corral

Yesterday, Dan and I met up with fourteen of his former colleagues and their families and we traveled 45 minutes outside of Waco to go to Cyclone, Texas. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I before last night...and we passed about eight other towns that I'd never heard of either on our way to get there. But we ended up at a destination that is one of the best-kept secrets by all the Central Texas locals... Cyclone Corral!
In Texas, the way to tell if a restaurant is any good is to pay attention to the parking lot. Unpaved? Good sign. Full of trucks as far as the eye can see, with maybe a few motorcycles thrown in? Yep, you're probably at a good place for some authentic Texas barbecue.

Cyclone Corral is a BBQ "restaurant." I use the term loosely because it's not what you might think of as a normal restaurant. It's only open Thursday through Saturday, and only for six months out of the year. It's all open air, so although there is a roof you're still basically outside. There are plenty of big tables, so even if you go with a group of 16, like we did, you still sit together.
And the food... The food is all served all-you-can-eat family style...for $12 a person! What this means is they brought plate after plate of ribs, brisket, and sausage, and bowl after bowl of potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and corn on the cob. It was just amazing. I rarely eat red meat, maybe once every couple of months, but I loved this dinner!
We had a lot of fun spending time with the Rapoport crew, enjoying the summer weather, and eating good food. And of course, enjoying the decorations...



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Best of Waco

Every year, the Wacoan magazine comes out with the "Best of Waco" issue. This is our third (!) year to enjoy this annual tradition.

Well, the thing about Waco is...there aren't really that many places here. And since most of the "Best of" categories revolve around food and drink, it tends to get a little repetitive. Basically, the same three or four restaurants just keep rotating around in different orders to be the best entree, drink, appetizer, etc... It's been this way every year, but instead of recognizing the absurdity of it, they just keep adding more categories!

This year, we have reached a new level of ridiculousness. Without further ado, here is a sampling of the "Best of Waco 2009."I've limited it to the Mexican restaurant portion of the list because there are ONE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN categories total.

Best Chips and Salsa
1. Ninfa's
2. La Fiesta
3. On the Border

Okay, I guess that's good to know. But wait - what if I want to order an extra appetizer? Well, luckily, there's another list:

Best Chile Con Queso
1. La Fiesta
2. Ninfa's
3. On the Border

Phew, that cleared things up for me - I almost would have gone to the number TWO restaurant on that list if I'd just seen the Chips and Salsa List! Okay, now that that's cleared up, where should I go to get the best main dish?


Best Quesadillas
1. Ninfa's
2. La Fiesta
3. On the Border

But wait! Quesadillas are only tortillas and cheese. What if I want tortillas, cheese, and meat?

Best Enchiladas
1. La Fiesta
2. Ninfa's
3. El Conquistador


...with some salsa and lettuce?


Best Tacos
1. La Fiesta
2. Ninfa's
3. El Conquistador (wow, this underdog came out of nowhere!)

Okay, fine, but what if I want veggies with that too?! HOW WILL I KNOW WHERE TO GO?

Best Fajitas
1. Ninfa's
2. La Fiesta
3. On the Border

I need a drink. Oh, great, that's here too:

Best Margaritas
1. Ninfa's
2. La Fiesta
3. On the Border

Hmm, you might be thinking. That's got to be it. What else could they possibly have people vote on? Well, here's your answer:

Best Mexican Rice
1. Ninfa's
2. La Fiesta
3. On the Border

Charro Beans
1. La Fiesta
2. Ninfa's
3. On the Border

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back in the Midwest for a Week

I just got back this morning from a week up north. It was great - lots of time with friends and family, shopping, good food...

I spent the first few days with Andrea and Kyle in Chicago - well, Lincoln Park. We walked around by the beach (yes, there are really beautiful, clean beaches! I had no idea!), shopped at really cute boutiques, and I got to see some friends from college who I haven't seen forever! It was great and made me wish I lived closer to everybody up there. We had so much fun I forgot to take pictures...so you'll just have to believe me that I was there.
Julie drove down then and we got to spend some quality sister time together. We walked up and down Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago pretty much all day Thursday - my feet were absolutely killing me by the end of the day. But we recovered with some Chicago style pizza at Lou Malnati's...luckily, because we pretty much had to run the 20 blocks or so to the Oriental Theater to see the Broadway version of Legally Blonde. (We were running a little late)
The next day, we drove back up to Grand Rapids, Michigan, so Julie could graduate from college!
We spent the next three days with our family and it was wonderful. I hadn't seen anyone except my dad since Christmas, so it was really nice to get to spend time with them.
Oh and the best part? I came back home to find a dozen roses waiting for me, along with a husband who is officially DONE with teaching - yeah!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Break

I don't really have a whole lot to write about. I'm enjoying my break from school - two more weeks until my intense summer class begins! Dan has five days left of high school...which still doesn't feel quite real. I don't think he'll really believe it until about a week after he's gone. Then in two weeks, he too will be starting intense summer classes at Baylor.

In the meantime, I'll be traveling a little - to Chicago and Michigan, mostly for my sister's graduation but also to see Andrea and other friends! And I'm hoping to get in at least a little bit of shopping... I'll be gone this Tuesday through next Monday.

While I'm gone, Dan and Sammie will be holding down the fort as Dan completes his last week of teaching. There's a "party-size" Stouffer's lasagna and a frozen supreme pizza in the freezer, so at least we know they won't starve. Who am I kidding -  he's going to like that better than most of my culinary creations! He also got to rent "Quantum of Solace" on Netflix ... so I think he'll be alright. :) 

We've been on an Oscar movie watching spree lately  - the last three movies we've gotten have been Slumdog Millionaire, Benjamin Button, and The Reader. I liked them all, but the order I listed them in is the order I would recommend them in. The first two are close - it was hard to decide which was better. The Reader, on the other hand, was good but a little graphic so I'd just be aware of what you're getting into if you want to rent it. 

Enjoy your week. :) See lots of you soon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Counseling Center It is!

Just a quick note to let you all know I found out where I'll be next year...and it's the Counseling Center! Yeah! In my last post, I secretly told you about the sites in the order I liked them, so as you can see it's my first choice.

In other news, Ted Nugent's wife is now teaching a Latin Dance class (called Zumba) at our local YMCA. Now if that doesn't get you to come to Waco, I don't know what can!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's Interview Time Again!

I'm finally done with spring semester! I finished my last exam Thursday evening at 6:00 and it has been glorious. I'm getting my hair cut! And all those other things I never have time for during the semester.

I also have been interviewing the past couple weeks for my practicum job for next year. In case you don't remember, I switch jobs every July. The program sets up all the placements for us, but we still have to interview and rank where we want to go. I interviewed at three places:

If I work here, I'll be working with Baylor students. I'll do individual, group, and possibly couples therapy - and I would get to walk to work!

The VA job is a really a rotation of three different jobs. I would spend 1/3 of the year in the mental health clinic, 1/3 of the year in an in-patient psychiatric unit, and 1/3 of the year either in a geropsychology unit or a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder unit. I would of course be working with veterans, and doing therapy, assessments, and running groups.

This is a substance abuse rehab clinic here in Waco. If I worked there, I'd probably be running groups and also individually working with clients -mostly from the women and children's center.

I'm nervous! I should find out early next week. I have 7 more weeks left at the Speech Clinic, and then I'll start my new job!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sharefest Waco

Dan and I, along with the rest of our small group from church, participated in Sharefest Waco yesterday. It's an event that happens once a year where a bunch of different churches get together and serve the Waco community. People were divided up into lots of projects, including carpentry, landscaping, painting, serving food, and plenty more! The whole day was focused on sharing Jesus' love throughout the Waco community, and coming together with unity as Christians rather than being split up according to our church.

We got to paint railings on an apartment complex in East Waco. We were actually really close to Rapoport Elementary School, so we were serving some of the same community that Dan works with at school on a daily basis.

I didn't take any pictures but our friend Jenna did, and you are lucky that she is an amazing photographer and has a blog! So go here if you want to see Sharefest pictures. There's a great picture of our entire small group, as well as one where you get to see me in all my painting glory - hot pink pants, frizzy hair, and old tennis shoes! Also, if you look closely, you can see Dan's man-pris. He was quite proud of his fashion statement.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Classes are OVER for the Semester!

Yesterday was my last day of classes for the spring semester! I can't believe it. I still have a final left, which is next Thursday evening, but other than that I'm done until June!

Well, done with classes at least - so I'll have free Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Well, free Tuesdays and Thursdays except for my two weekly therapy clients that I see on Tuesdays, and supervision for those on Thursdays. And of course, not counting the interviews and assessment clients I've already allowed to talk me into coming into work for on those days.

Well.. in theory, it's a break!

Anyway, my Experimental Design professor, Dr. Kirk, stopped teaching us how to design experiments yesterday with about a half hour left in class. He told us he wanted to share with us the three most important pieces of wisdom that he has accumulated throughout his life. (Which, trust me...he's had a while to accumulate said wisdom). It was really pretty neat and felt like a good way to end the year we've spent with him.

His advice? Well, the first thing was really mostly applicable to people in academia. He said to make sure that when you do any research, you need to get at least three things out of it. So he used the examples of a journal article, a poster, a chapter in a book... but he said that you need to make sure you are getting the most out of all the work you do, and to do this, you need at least three publishable things for every project.

Advice #2: Network, network, network. Not only with people immediately surrounding you - really, Dr. Kirk advised against that - he said he spends all his time networking with other quantitative psychologists across the country. He spends hours each week specifically focused on networking with other people in his field! Wow.

And finally, advice #3: Hire the best accountant you can find. It's not how much money you make, it's how much money you keep. And you'll be able to keep the most of your money by working with someone who really knows the ins and outs of the laws. He got more in detail with this, talking about his own business, renting rooms to himself, and municipal bonds...but let's be honest, that's not so much my territory so I'm not going to try to repeat it and risk messing it up. The take home message here was that an accountant is a good thing.

I have no idea what my three pieces of wisdom would be...but it's something fun to think about. Discuss amongst yourselves...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caldo Verde

So our CSA experiment is going...okay.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. We get tons of fresh, organic veggies every week and I love finding new recipes to use them in.

However, my husband...is a different story. He will try everything I make, but after about ten different sauteed types of greens in as many days, he got a little sick of them.

I've been promising him that the greens are only because that's what's grown this time of year, and soon we're going to get more tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, and other spring and summer produce than we'll know what to do with!

In the meantime, thought, we've found a compromise. I've been using all our greens to make soups. And we found a soup we like that uses tons of greens, and it's sooo good! We both really, really like it.

It's in a cookbook called Recipes for America's Small Farms, which my mom got me for Christmas. Although the recipe may not look like much, it's so good. This is definitely a very simple soup that tastes much better than the sum of its parts.

Caldo Verde
(Because Dan's a Spanish teacher, we can translate this for you - it means "GREEN SOUP" in English! You're welcome!)

Ingredients:
1 onion, peeled and minced
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 Tablespoons olive oil
6 large Maine or Eastern potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (note from Kristi - I have no idea what these are, I just use regular Texas potatoes and they work perfectly)
6 ounces chorizo, pepperoni, or other dry garlicky sausage, sliced thin (note - don't skip this, although I have to admit my definition of "dry garlicky" has varied wildly depending on what's in my fridge at the time...)
2.5 teaspoons salt, or so
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound collard, kale, or turnip greens (or swiss chard, or spinach..) trimmed of coarse stems and veins, rolled crosswise and sliced filament thin
2 quarts water (I think it tastes better if you use chicken broth for at least some of this)
*Also, I usually add some cumin, and the recipe says that it will taste good with any of your favorite herbs and spices!

Directions:
Saute the onion and garlic in 3 T of the oil for 2 or 3 minutes over moderate heat until they begin to color and turn glassy. Add potatoes and saute, stirring constantly, 2 or 3 minutes, until they begin to color also. Add the water/chicken broth, cover, and boil gently over moderate heat 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are mushy. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in another saucepan over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the fat has cooked out; drain well and reserve.

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pan from the stove, and with a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the pan in the soup mixture. Add sausage, salt, and pepper, return to moderate heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the greens and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and taste the soup for salt and pepper. Serve accompanied with a crusty bread.

Enjoy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Church Under the Bridge

We came across this church the first weekend we were in Waco. My mom, Dan, and I were driving to the store to buy more move-in supplies and saw dozens of people congregated under a freeway. It's sort of an odd underpass, and the unique structure of the roads somehow leaves a much bigger concrete space than normal - yes, underneath I-35 and in the middle of downtown!

There were lots of people, and we heard worship music, so we figured it must be a church. Gradually, I've learned more about it, as we've met friends who are intimately involved in the mission. Basically, this church meets outside and caters to the homeless people of Waco. It is maybe the neatest church I've experienced, and to be honest, it's probably what Jesus' own ministry looked like!

Anyway, there is a great article that explains Church Under the Bridge more fully on Relevant Magazine's website. I highly recommend checking out this article and learning more about this great ministry in Waco.

Relevant Magazine - Church Under the Bridge

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Simple Life

I've been reading a lot lately about living simply. I think it probably has a lot to do with the recession, which has given everyone a renewed interest in enjoying life without spending a lot. It seems like a lot of blogs and news articles have been focused on how to enjoy a more simple kind of life.

Even in the field of psychology, I've noticed a trend toward focusing on the simple things. There's a lot of recent information about "mindfulness," which is basically being aware and focused on the present moment. It might include noticing all the sensory details of your situation, or explicitly thinking about what's unique each day, or even doing some relaxation exercises to become calmer and more present-focused. Being mindful actually can help people with depression feel better, and there's a lot of other research coming out about its benefits for everyone.

Combining these two, it might be a good idea for everyone to take some time to really pay attention to and be thankful for what we're experiencing right now. It will not only make your day more enjoyable but it doesn't cost anything! :)

The first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking about this is our family's morning routine. Every morning, Dan gets up about an hour earlier than me. (Yeah, that's what happens when you're a teacher and have to leave for school at 7:15!) Sammie usually gets up with him to go outside and eat breakfast, but then she comes back upstairs and snuggles with me. When Dan gets all ready, he comes back upstairs too and we spend about fifteen minutes just laying in bed, talking with each other and playing with our puppy, and just overall preparing for the day. It's small but honestly it's probably the most precious part of my day. I love focusing on just being in that moment rather than worrying about the rest of the day ahead. I think if I was focused on the future rather than the present, I would totally miss enjoying those fifteen minutes.

What about you? Have you been trying to live more simply, or be more mindful? Is it working?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Weekend

Happy day after Easter!

Dad and Diane are gone, and Dan and I are trying to get back to "real world mode" by doing some homework (me) and planning (him).

We had a lot of fun this weekend with our visitors. They got here on Friday evening and we spent a little while just showing them our apartment and letting them get acquainted with their grand-dog. We took them to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Se Cocina, after that and spent the rest of the evening there.

On Saturday, they came over in the morning and we ate kolaches from Czech Stop for breakfast - yum! Czech Stop is legendary in Texas for its delicious kolaches, which are basically pastries that are filled with sausage and cheese or fruit and cream cheese. (Read those "and"s and "or"s carefully or that last sentence will sound was more disgusting than it should.) After that, we walked around Baylor's campus for a while. Then we went shopping! We took them to some of our favorite Waco places, such as Spice, James Avery, and, well, Ann Taylor Loft. That evening, we went to Dan's end-of-semester wine tasting party and got to spend some time with Camden, Matthew, and his parents.

Yesterday, we celebrated Easter by going to church. Dad and Diane got to meet several of our friends, and then we went out to lunch at Panera. In the afternoon, Dad and Dan went and hit some golf balls while Diane and I went grocery shopping and then cooked a delicious dinner!** Finally, we watched The Heartbreak Kid to end the night. It was actually really funny.

**I'm really getting tired of typing all these D names! Maybe I should just start saying D squared, or D cubed, when I'm going to mention them all in one sentence!

We ended the weekend with breakfast this morning at Dennys. I'm sad they are gone but I'm glad they came.

Soo....who's next? :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

And the Guest Blogger Is...Dan!

Let me say first that I am excited to be making my (long overdue) first guest post on The Adventures of Dan and Kristi. I bet a lot of you have been wondering why it wasn’t more aptly named The Adventures of Kristi and Sammie…

Nevertheless, as Kristi has been updating you on our exciting new life in Texas, and all the fun things we have experienced, a huge part of our shared experience has been omitted.

Over the course of the past two years I have shared with many of you about my discontentment as a teacher. This has been a huge struggle for me and is one that is hard to condense into a couple of paragraphs. The best way I can describe it is that I have never felt comfortable as a teacher; it has simply never felt right. While I am sure many you can imagine the various difficulties that teachers face, these didn’t compare with the feeling or knowledge that something just wasn’t clicking.

For the past two years I have been working at a very different kind of school. The Rapoport Academy is a charter school that I believe is one of the few places that is doing education correctly. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to work there and contribute to the beginning of the high school (it’s in its 3rd year of existence). While it is not a perfect school, I know that if I was going to enjoy teaching it would be at a school like Rapoport.

I decided to return to teach a second year after a difficult first year, chalking it up to the standard right of passage that is the first year of teaching. Unfortunately, while year two has been different in many ways, that nagging feeling that something wasn’t right has never dissipated.

I made the decision in November to begin looking for something new. I starting networking through our church and was able to meet with various businessmen. While the thought of going back to school had crossed my mind, I was dead set on the idea that I had to be earning a salary. This slowly started to change with the various meetings I had and everyone mentioned applying to Baylor’s MBA program. Many times after those meeting I became a bit depressed, thinking that going back to school would be financially irresponsible, but also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find meaningful work for the two years we have left here in Waco. In hindsight I can know see that God was preparing my heart for what he had in store for me…

As we hit the dead of winter here in Texas (sunny and around 60 in the afternoon) during February I decided I should apply to Baylor’s MBA program, more just to see if I would get in. At this point things had to happen pretty quickly. I had to take the GMAT (a business graduate school admissions test) in early March. This left me roughly 4 weeks to prepare. The most daunting task was the math section. I hadn’t taken a true math course since my senior year of high school. According to Baylor’s website, the average GMAT score was a little over 600. While I knew it would take a lot of hard work, I thought I would be able to get close to that number and still have a competitive application. After studying probably 10 hours a week the test date finally came. Much to my disbelief I scored in the 83rd percentile, and what I thought would be the weakest part of my application become very impressive. I say this not to be boastful, only to show that the possibility of going back to school was now looking a lot more appealing.

A few weeks after the GMAT I went in for an interview at the business school. I didn’t really know what to expect. I was happy with my application, but I had no idea how it stacked up with the other applicants. I went in on a Friday morning expecting a stressful hour of being grilled with questions like “why should we admit someone with no business background”. Thankfully the experience was nothing like that. I had two different interviews, one with the admissions coordinator and another with the head of the healthcare administration MBA (more on that later). Both were very informal, and I came away feeling good about my chances.

At this point I was pretty confident I would be offered a spot in the program. Once again, not due to arrogance, but just a general comparison of my “stats” compared with current students in the program. What was really up in the air was whether I would be offered any financial awards or not. The program has a pretty hefty sticker price, one that I deemed too high to make financial sense for Kristi and I if I was not awarded any scholarships. After crunching some numbers I determined that I above 50% tuition remission I would consider it, if I received 75% (I thought this number was a long shot, but not outside the realm of possibility) I would be going back to school.

The Thursday after my interview I received a voicemail that informed me I had been accepted into the program. Not only had I been awarded an assistantship (I will work for the business school in some capacity and earn a stipend), but I had also been awarded 90% tuition remission. I am really not sure how to communicate how I felt when I heard the news, because it was so much better than what I had been expecting.

As of yesterday I am scheduled for classes, which will begin June 1st. I have decided instead of the general MBA, I will be pursuing a specialization in health care administrations. I will spend the fall and spring semesters completing the MBA core courses and healthcare electives. From May through December of next year, assuming all goes well, I will work in a hospital where I will put my coursework into action. I then come back to Baylor for a final semester of MBA core courses and more healthcare electives. I will graduate in May, the same time that Kristi finishes up her coursework at Baylor as well.

I am very excited for this next chapter and Kristi and I think it will be a lot of fun being back in school together. This is a big change, and whenever there is change there is a bit of anxiousness, but I am sure that will subside. Looking back, I never would have guessed this is what I would be doing, but that is what makes it all the more exciting.

If you want to learn more about what my program is comprised of, check out www.baylor.edu/mba/healthcare.

Friday, April 3, 2009

1 Bad Thing and 2 Good Things

Next week, I have two exams - yuck! It will actually be the first time I've had two exams in one week since undergrad. I know most of you don't feel sorry for me, but it makes it really tough when you work full days on Monday and Wednesday to take one exam Tuesday and one Thursday. So, think of me next week.

The good news is that after my exams are over, I have Friday and Monday off of work for Easter. (Yeah, we get that here at Baylor - don't you all wish your job was for a Christian workplace!) And Dad and Diane are coming to visit! We are going to show them around Waco, introduce them to their granddog (the most important thing, obvi), and do some shopping and golfing. Can you guess who will be shopping and who will be golfing? (Hint: Dan's been practicing his swing in the kitchen again!)

And finally, I want to let you know that sometime this weekend, there will be a post from a guest blogger! Now I don't want you to get really excited and then feel let down, so I will just tell you right off the bat that it isn't Sammie. She hasn't quite mastered her typing skills yet, and she really doesn't have a whole lot to say beyond "Outside! Food! Squirrel! Bone! Outside!" But there will be a post from someone else who has some exciting news to share with you. You may want to wait at your computer all weekend, hitting the "refresh" button on the blog every 30 seconds or so just so you don't miss it.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Severe Mercy

I first read this book the summer after my freshman year of college. That summer, I was bored and looking for something interesting to read when I found a plain blue book with no dustjacket on a shelf in the closet. Opening it, I saw it said "Merry Christmas Kathy - 1978." I was intrigued enough to pick it up and read the first few pages. I'm so glad I did because I loved it, and it provided me with some interesting and thought-provoking reading material that summer! I just recently re-read it and was reminded of how much I love the story.

A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a true autobiographical story. The story mainly focuses on Sheldon's relationship with his wife - how they met, how they dated, and then their marriage as well. There are two main aspects of this book that set it apart from all others. First of all (Spoiler alert), his wife becomes terminally ill and the way they deal with her illness is so inspiring but broke my heart at the same time. Secondly, Sheldon becomes good friends with C.S. Lewis and regularly corresponds with him. He includes all the letters in this book reproduced almost exactly as they were written. It's a very interesting view into C.S. Lewis's mind as well, and the short letters contain huge themes and truths in them. I'm not sure anyone else would be able to write so much so clearly in a letter!

This book is definitely not a quick read, but it's not at all boring or difficult. It's more just one of those books that you want to take your time with  and really savor every word as you go. There is also a good amount of poetry included, for those of you (Julie!) who really like that.

Let me know if you read it and what you think!