Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Boogyman Strikes Our Apartment

Hey guess what! My statistics test is over. Yay! It may not have went well, but it's over. I'll tell you what though, I have had some weird experiences while studying for it. The stress must have been affecting my mind or something.

First of all, on Sunday afternoon, I started hearing someone talking very clearly. It sounded like he was coming from our closet, or maybe the (empty) apartment next door. Okay, that's not so strange, right?

Well, wait until I tell you what I heard him saying.

I'm sort of embarrassed of this....


I really, honestly, truly heard that! I called Dan into the room but of course it stopped. And I never heard it again. But still. Dan thinks I've gone crazy but I really did not make that up.

Then today (the day of my big stats test), I made tea and soup at the same time. I got out two sugar packets and promptly dumped them into my soup, instead of my tea where they belonged.

Seriously - what is wrong with me?? Yikes. Apparently I'm no good with high stress situations - looks like that rules out airplane pilot for my future career!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Year Anniversary!

No, not our one year wedding anniversary - you can find that post here.
It's the one year anniversary of the Austin marathon! One year ago today, I ran for four hours, thirteen minutes, and thirty seconds over a distance of 26.2 miles.

Yikes. I'm shuddering thinking about that right now - seriously, think about how long that is! You could watch two movies, have four clients, or sleep half the night in that time. But for some reason, when you're running, it feels different.
Our friend Scott flew in from Missouri to run with us. We drove down to Austin the day before, amidst crazy thunderstorms. I remember getting on Weather.Com to check how long the storms were going to last, and they had RED BOXES around the hours we were driving down. But the weatherman kept promising it would clear up by late Saturday night, so we hoped for the best.

On Saturday, we carb-loaded at an amazing Italian restaurant, Romeo's. We also went to a bar where Dan and Scott claimed they were carb-loading with beer....hmm...not sure that counts but whatever! Then we went to bed early in preparation for the big day.

We woke up at 5:00am, stretched, ate our Clif Bars, and walked outside. Surprise! It was no longer raining and in fact almost felt warm. We waited in line forever to use the PortAPotties one last time before the race, and actually missed the starting gun! But since our pace group was not exactly first in line, we were ready in plenty of time.
All three of us ran the first ten miles together, but then Dan split off to finish off the half-marathon. Scott and I ran the rest of the way, and Dan promised to meet us at the 23-mile-marker to finish out the last few miles with us. Scott and I chatted, listened to the bands playing, and snacked on treats such as Oreos covered in peanut butter, oranges, and M&M's. (These were all handed out by random volunteers on the side of the road, but we weren't picky - they tasted good!) I do remember Scott forcing me to eat GelPaks when I honestly thought I was going to throw up. And I also remember him making me drink PowerAde when I only wanted water. And the water I wanted? Oh, he dumped that on my head. Around twenty miles, I really started getting tired but according to Scott, I was past the point of being allowed to stop and walk. So we ran on. Finally, we hit the 23 mile marker and Dan showed up with the camera.

Here we are running. See how soaked I am? Yeah...there is all the water Scott dumped over my head at every station!

This was where it got funny. Our race numbers also had our names on them, so people could cheer for us individually. Well, when Dan showed up and began running again (after taking a break of approximately two hours), everyone started cheering for him. "Go Dan! Looking great, Dan! Wow, Dan, you're doing great!" Oh I was so mad. But then Dan and Scott ran ahead of me and started telling the crowd, "Cheer for Kristi! It's her first marathon!" SO THEY DID! And it was awesome!

The three of us ran all the way to the finish line. And yes, just in case you think it was easy or something, there was a point where the two of them literally pushed me because I was crying and wanted to start walking. Scott promised I would thank them later - and he was right. Oh, and the next week or so, I couldn't move. I couldn't sit down, stand up, go up or down stairs - I couldn't even step up or down from a curb naturally! But it was worth it. Here is one final picture of the day, the three of us in front of the Austin Capitol Building:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"You Really Should Get on Every Day for Results..."

I know, I know - it's been a little while since my last post. 

Here's the thing - it's kind of like my Wii Fit. When I turn on the Wii Fit, even if it's only been two or three DAYS since I last gone on, it yells at me and tells me I need to get on every day.

Last time I stepped on, it literally squealed at me and asked me if I'd been eating too much at night, eating too many sweets, or watching too much TV instead of exercising.

That was two weeks ago. I've been avoiding it (him? her?) ever since, and the longer I go, the more scared I am to get back on!

That's kind of what happened here. I mean...hopefully you guys aren't going to make me choose if I was snacking too much or eating too many sweets to post. But if I did have to make some excuses about what I've been doing the last week instead of blogging, these are the buttons I'd push:

- Research. Sigh...the bane of my existence. I'm trying to get a proposal ready by March 2nd in order to present at a conference in November. Considering I'm just now figuring out the results of my data, I have been working my butt off to try to be ready by the deadline.

-Work. Work has exploded lately, and somehow I've let my boundaries get pushed aside enough to be working more than the 20 hours per week I get paid for. I've got 5 therapy clients, 5 assessment clients, and 2 presentations for teachers, Speech-Language pathologists, and parents, that I'm working on and supposed to be presenting in the next few weeks. Um, yes, I took on slightly too much at one time.

-Lost and Top Chef. You know me! We have made Wednesday nights our official TV night around here. We have our friends Sean and Faith come over, and we all watch our two favorite shows. 

-School. We're getting into the semester full swing, and as much as I'd love to hope it would get better soon, I have two major exams coming up in the next two weeks. Yuck!

-Friends. This is a good one! We've been spending a lot of time with friends lately, whether it's going to dinner with friends from our Fellowship Family, or playing Catchphrase with the whole group. Yesterday, we went to Tehuacana Creek with friends and enjoyed a bottle of wine out on the back porch for a Valentine's Day afternoon treat. It's been great, and we feel like we've really been getting to know people on a much deeper level recently.

Now I'm off to the clinic for another assessment... when we test kids for ADHD, if they're already on medicine, we ask them to take them off it for one session while we test all the ADHD domains. Today's the day for my little kid I'm working with right now, and consequently, I think we'll both be in for an interesting afternoon!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Priceline Guide (Tips for Getting the Best Room at the Best Price)

Do you use Priceline to book all your hotel rooms? If not, you are wasting your money! Dan and I have used Priceline to book every hotel room we've stayed in for the past year or two. We've stayed in a suite in San Antonio for $45 a night, a Hyatt Place in downtown Austin for $50 a night, and a 4 star hotel in Dallas for $55 a night. Priceline is so easy and cheap - if you use it correctly. So here is a guide to using Priceline for your hotel rooms - you will have no excuse to waste your money after you read this! :)

1. Go to Priceline and find the "Name Your Own Price" section. Type in the city you're interested in, then click on "Bid Now." Right now, you're not actually bidding on anything. You just want to see the different zones for that city to decide where exactly you want to stay. The bigger the city, the more zones it is divided into. So for example, Dallas has 17 zones! By looking at the map, you can figure out which of these zones you would be okay staying in. Jot these down on a piece of paper.

2. Next, go to Bidding for Travel. This place is the key to Priceline bidding! It's a website where people let you know what offers they bid on Priceline, whether it was accepted or not, and what hotel they ended up in. This is your key to knowing how much to bid and what hotel you are going to get. 

Click on the city and state you are interested in. 

The top post on the page for your city and state will say "Hotels List for ____." (I'm currently looking at Hotels List for Dallas, Texas). Click on this. This shows you what hotels are offered by Priceline in each zone for each star level. This is what is so helpful! For example, most places we've stayed at, I've only bid on three or four star hotels. But when we went to San Antonio, I saw a 2.5 star hotel in a good zone was definitely nice enough for what we wanted. So you can easily see all the choices that Priceline will give you. I usually go to the hotel's websites to check them out if I'm not familiar with them.

3. Once you've gotten an idea about what zones and star level (i.e. 2, 2.5, 3, or 4 star hotels) you want to pick, it's time to look through the message boards. Look and see what prices have been accepted for the zone/stars you're interested in, and what hotels people have been getting recently. Usually, there are 3 or 4 hotels for each star level, but it seems like Priceline usually gives them out in clusters or alternates between two. You can usually get a very good idea of what hotel you'd get if you bid on a specific zone at a specific star level, and even better you can get a great idea of how much to bid!

4. Once you have your zones, star level, and bid figured out, go back to Priceline! Bid and see what happens. You do have to enter your credit card information to bid, but nothing gets charged unless your bid is accepted. If it gets accepted, great! If not, you either need to expand your zone search or raise your bid.

Here is the thing - normally, Priceline will only let you bid once per day. But if you follow these instructions, you can bid many more times in a row. I can't explain it nearly as well as the Bidding for Travel FAQ, so if this is something you're interested in, click here and scroll down to Question 9. (The FAQ also answers lots of other questions you might have, so I recommend checking it out anyway even if you don't need to re-bid the same day.)

5. Once you got your bid accepted, Priceline will immediately tell you what hotel you're staying at and give you the confirmation sheet. I definitely recommend printing out the confirmation sheet and bringing it with you to the hotel, just in case you have any problems. But you're done! You now have a hotel!

Don't get discouraged if your offer doesn't get accepted right away. It seems like some hotels release some rooms to Priceline way in advance, and then they release even more much closer to the date. I have bid the exact same price on a room and been rejected one week and then accepted a week later. 

Please ask me if you have any questions! But I promise, this is so simple and you will end up getting hotel rooms so much cheaper than the retail price. Good luck!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Books I Like

Wow, that's about the most boring title ever, isn't it? I need some help to figure out a better one - somebody creative, please come to my rescue!

I read a lot. I have, ever since I was little. I remember coming home from the library in elementary school with stacks of books in my arms. I'd immediately get to work reading them that night, and would usually finish an entire stack of 10-15 books before they were due two weeks later.

Of course, those consisted mainly of Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley Twins books. My taste has matured somewhat since then, but there is still nothing better for me than putting on some sweats, heating up a mug of hot chocolate, and curling up with a good book.

I would like to spotlight some of the books I've read here on the blog. I'm thinking maybe once a week, or once every other week, since I'm no longer reading 10 books in one week like I did when I was little! We'll see what people's interest level is...so let me know!

The first book I want to spotlight is The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.

I started this a couple months ago, and read the entire thing in a few days. It's a story about a family who goes to Congo as missionaries, and the resulting story of each of the parents and four daughters. Each family member takes turns telling the story through different chapters.

What I like about this book:

- A very interesting and engaging plot, with real characters

- Gave me a lot to think about in terms of my faith, what it looks like to others, and how to best reach others

- Taught me more about Congo and the people over there, as well as the political climate over there during the twentieth century

What I didn't like:

- It got a little confusing switching around between family member's perspectives, and it also takes jumps in time that can be a little disorienting for the reader.

That's it! I loved it! I would encourage everyone to check it out.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Dan and Kristi Fogle, One Year Later

Well, one year, one month and two days later...I'm a little late posting these pictures. Regardless, I wanted to share a few snapshots of our anniversary dinner at the Melting Pot. We ordered a four course fondue meal complete with a cheese course, salad, several types of meat and veggies, and a chocolate dessert fondue. Because of the way it's served in courses and you have to cook each bite before you eat it, it's a perfect place to go if you want to spend the entire evening enjoying each other's company along with good food.

Here we are at our cozy little booth. We may have slightly red teeth...
...from the Paso a Paso wine we were drinking! So yummy. Thanks to our resident wine expert who picked that one out:
Here was our first course - you can sort of see the fruit, veggies, and breads that we dipped in the cheese fondue. I should have gotten pictures of the rest of the dishes but after this first one I pretty much forgot about the camera.

It's crazy to think that a year ago on that same day we were getting married! Every couple hours throughout the entire day we would look at the clock and talk about what we were doing a year ago. I also went through all the wedding pictures again, which brought back a ton of great memories. But I definitely have to admit that it was nice to be able to sleep in, go to lunch with my dad and grandparents, and get dressed a half hour before we left - very different from last December 30th!
We've been asked a lot about what we've learned this past year...here are a few things:
1. We both feel like getting married to each other was the best decision we've ever made. (Whew!)
2. Dan is really clean. Kristi is somewhat clean.
3. Dan is really obsessive about being clean. This makes Kristi seem very messy and dirty to him.
4. After a month or two, these kinds of issues didn't come up so often anymore. The initial adjustment to living together was somewhat intense, but after a little while we've adjusted our habits to accomodate each other. For example, Dan now does most of the cleaning and Kristi makes up for it by doing all the grocery shopping and cooking.
5. Time goes really fast! Even though in some ways we feel like we've been married forever, it's so hard to believe it's really already been 13 months since our wedding.