29 March 2010

Eight Weeks

It's officially official. I will be a nursing student in eight (8!!!!) weeks.
 
On Saturday, Matt and I spent the day in St. Louis at St. Louis University for my nursing school orientation. I was a little nervous - what should I wear? Do I get dressed up and then everyone will know I'm an almost 30-year-old changing careers because I've obviously forgotten what tennis shoes are? Or do I wear jeans and a sweatshirt and try to blend in with the youngin's? I went for the combo - jeans, a nice shirt and my favorite brown corduroy jacket.
 
Business on the top, party on the bottom. It was truly the mullet of clothing choices.
 
Once we got to SLU and found the nursing school, I was more convinced than ever that this career change is the right decision. Everyone we met was so incredibly nice and helpful, and we got to talk with current students (who had "AO survivor" on their name badges) and faculty members. While us students were shuffled off to separate meeting rooms, Matt had to stay with the other spouses and parents for their own orientation and you-better-support-your-loved-one-cause-their-gonna-be-stressed meeting. He was thrilled about that, I'm sure.
 
Something one of the faculty said really hit close to home and completely nailed home the reason why I'm doing this. She said that in all of her years as a nurse, she's never once been bored with her career. She's never once thought of changing careers.
 
I lay awake at night and dream of a career that holds my interest. I get so bored sometimes - I need to be challenged on a daily basis in order to stay actively engaged in my career. Sitting at a desk planning parades and community events does not challenge me. Planning parades and community events, while it can be fun and has it's place in public relations, does not exactly take a rocket scientist to pull off. I love learning. I love stretching myself to my limits to see how far I can go.
 
I refuse to settle for the bare minimum of my brain capacity.
 
My momma raised me better than that.
 
(Speaking of brain capacity...at orientation, I received a packet of medical terminology abbreviations and drug calculations I have to learn before class begins. Talk about challenging yourself! My need for all things chocolate just rose about 100 degrees.)
 
It was really surprising the number of students who came in with their parents. It made me feel really, really old. Luckily, I made a couple of contacts with some fellow married classmates, and it's nice to know we'll all be in the same boat together.
 
The unemployed-and-relying-on-our-spouses-for-support boat. It's awesome.
 
SLU has such a beautiful campus. Here's a picture of the School of Nursing:
 
 
SLU Arches:
 
 
Actual Arch:
 
 
St. Louis University Hospital, as seen from a moving vehicle:
 
 
It's kinda tricky taking pictures in the city. On one hand, you want to be able to capture the artistic beauty of all of the old, gorgeous buildings.
 
On the other hand, you don't want to unintentionally document a drug deal going down on the corner and find yourself on the other end of a hit list.
 
After our venture into the city, we made our way to Washington to meet up with my cousins for dinner and to see my new digs. (Do people still use that term?) They are graciously letting me live with them while I'm in school, and it's a pretty easy drive from their house to campus. Matt was told that he is welcome to visit anytime, and of course we'll be using his Six Flags season passes as our excuse to meet halfway on sunny, warm weekends.
 
Come on. A girl has to have some way to relieve stress, right? Bring it, Batman Ride!
 
Most weekends I'll be heading back home to Licking to do things like mow the yard and wash dishes. Matt said he'd take care of all of that, but seriously. His summer baseball schedule makes my summer school schedule look like a walk in the park.  
 
Now I'm off to talk with student loan people. My day just got super exciting.
 
Today I love: my Caribou Coffee mug and the highly caffeinated contents inside of it.

27 March 2010

Backtrack

Three things really quickly before I head out the door to run before this rain hits:
 
1. Baseball Update
 
So...disregard my last post.
 
We actually ended up with a win on Tuesday, due to a minor technicality.
 
Apparently, the opposing team played an ineligible player, causing them to have to forfeit the win.
 
I don't know all the details - it could be as simple as one of the kids not having the grades to make him eligible to play, or someone might have been benched due to an in-school suspension - or it could have been the beardy kid who smacked the grand-slam and looked like he was 37.
 
Told you we needed his birth certificate.
 
In any case, it's now a W in the books. We'll take it.
 
2. Reigning Queen of Everything Clean
 
The hospital where I work held a hand-hygiene contest yesterday, and one person from each department was randomly selected to represent their area by demonstrating proper hand-hygiene techniques. I just knew the lucky person from Public Relations would be me.
 
Yep. Fantastic.
 
I got called down to where the contest was being held, and I was nervous. I didn't want anyone to know how gross my hands actually are.
 
So first things first: take off the wedding ring. Lord knows what all's hiding in the crevices of that thing.
 
We had to put this stuff on our hands - and, in 15 seconds - show how to properly sanitize your hands. The goo they gave us shows up under this really cool blacklight thing...and the not-so-cool part is when the blacklight reacts with the goo and shows where you missed sanitizing.
 
The one thought going through my mind was something my director always tells us: "Nailbeds! Don't forget to scrub your nailbeds!" Well, I dug in and got those nailbeds.
 
And I won! And I'm nonclinical!
 
Not bragging or anything.
 
I was so excited, along with the rest of my department. The winning prize? A catered lunch from any restaurant of our choice. Very cool.
 
3. SLU Visit Day
 
In a few hours, Matt and I will be on the road to St. Louis for SLU's Nursing School Visit Day. We'll get to tour the campus, meet faculty, staff and fellow students, and generally get the rest of the information I'll need to make a smooth transition back into the life of a college student.
 
People, I'm almost 30. I'm not really prepared to resort back to wearing ratty jeans and pajama pants to class, but let me tell you how excited I am to trade my three-inch heels and dress pants for jeans (my respectable dress jeans from New York and Co) and flats. Possibly even tennis shoes. Maybe a hoodie.
 
I think that I'll even get to buy my scrubs today (they have to have the SLU School of Nursing logo on them), lab coat and stethoscope today. Right now I feel like I'm playing dress-up for Halloween since it hasn't really hit me yet that I'm going to officially be an RN in about 13 months.
 
Anyone want to volunteer to help me practice giving shots?
 
I got to job shadow in our Rad/Onc department earlier this week and loved every minute of it. Working with cancer patients would be hard, but the department is so cheerful and focused on positive, healing actions. On Thursday this next week I'm shadowing in ICU, which might be a little more stressful. We'll see how that goes.
 
Off to run! Then off to St. Louis! 

24 March 2010

The Good and Not-So-Good

Why is it, when a perfectly good batter hits a homerun straight over the left field fence, the rest of the team feels the need to give him brain damage the second he touches home plate?
 
I will never understand the concept of beaning the hitter as a form of congratulations.
 
 
Boys.
 
And see the nice red dirt? It's new. And it goes particularly well with our white baseball uniforms the day after a monsoon.
 
All the mothers agree. Clorox stock just jumped.
 
Our first game went really well, and at the same time, not so good. We played terrific - and that's coming from The Coach himself. He was happy with their overall performance. But as everyone involved in sports knows, just one or two "oops" can break a game really quickly. Our "oops" was getting ourselves into a mess with bases loaded - and some huge bearded high school kid (I personally wanted to see a birth certificate) knocked one straight over the center field fence.
 
Isn't it curious that grand-slams aren't near as exciting when it's not one of your team's kids that hit it?
 
Final score: 8-7.
 
Here comes the Coach's Wife Justification Speech: It was against Dixon. If anyone remembers, we had a perfect season in the fall until our very, very last game. Against - you guessed it - Dixon. The score then wasn't nearly as close as it was last night though. So see? We're better than a couple months ago! Now we just have to win the rest of our games to match our fall stats.
 
We seriously have a good, good group of kids. They are serious and hilarious, hard-working and crazy all at the same time.
 
It's gonna be a good year.
 
Snaps go out to my in-laws who drove seven hours up from Alabama on Saturday, suffered through the disappointment of a rain-out on Monday night and decided to stay for last night's game despite the fact they both had to be at work this morning. I know it meant a lot to Matt to have them there, and I think they feel it was completely worth it to stay...even though they got home at 3:30 am and got about three hours of sleep. That's dedication.
 
Up next...we're at Waynesville tomorrow night, barring the thunderstorms that are supposed to be headed our way.
 
It could be worse. We've had snow on Easter before! Welcome to Springtime in Missouri.
 
Time to break out the Snuggie.

 

 

22 March 2010

Sunny Day Rainout

It's kinda hard to have a baseball game when we just had two days of straight rain and gloom.
 
Today is bright, beautiful and warm, but the ground looks like this:
 
 
And this:
 
 
Not the ideal conditions for the first game of the season. Coach is not really thrilled about this situation.
 
Me neither. 
 
I miss my baseball family. Plus, Matt's parents drove more than seven hours to come for the game, and now it's not gonna happen. 
 
Luckily, we have a shot at another home game tomorrow night, so they might extend their trip. Thank goodness their son likes to schedule four games in the very first week of the season...plenty of opportunities to see the 'cats play. He's not an overachiever or anything.
 
They (i.e. my in-laws) get pretty dramatic about stuff like this. If they don't see a game there is a chance they might implode. 
 
Either that, or we'll all implode from the cream cheese brownies that were brought by the house the other night. If you would like to experience a sugar coma, please come by my house and help us finish off the pan.  
 
 
Good news: these are completely vegetarian. Therefore I am completely guilt-free. Kind of.
 
Hopefully I'll have baseball updates tomorrow. And pictures of my man in his baseball pants. 
 
That's really what I'm excited to see.  

18 March 2010

Streaking...More Than Just a Dare.

I've had some people recently ask me why I've given up on meat and animal products. Besides my absolute love of anything animal and not wanting to contribute to their unnecessary and cruel slaughter, try having a veterinarian - a farm animal vet (cows, sheep, pigs, goats) - as a microbiology instructor and see if you want to put animal flesh in your mouth ever again. Man, she can tell some stories of the nasty that lives in those things.
 
She's also good at telling you about the nasty you can get from those animals - no matter how clean or well cooked you think your food is. I could go on (mmmm...prions. Tiny bits of loose proteins that can cause neurological damage - think BSE (Mad Cow) and CWD (chronic wasting disease) found in deer (take that, hunters) - and the vaccine has only been tested in mice. According to the CDC, the occurrence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and its transmission to humans indicate that animal prion diseases can pose a significant public health risk. Recent reports of secondary person-to-person spread further illustrate the potential public health impacts of BSE. I think I'll take my chances on carrots.) but I'll move onto something even more disturbing.

 

And kinda fun. We got to play with toxic substances last night.

 
Classmate: "So, is that the culture taken from that dog's ear from last time?" (See? Vet as an instructor. She brings all sorts of fun stuff in.)
 
The culture from the dog really, really stunk. Bad. It was not a pleasant experience.
 
Dr. Moore: "No, It's just some E.coli."
 
Oh. Just E.coli. Well then. That's good.
 
Anyone need a good excuse for missing work the next couple days?
 
And that is how we began our microbiology lab last night.
 
We were doing streak plates, where you take an inoculating loop, dip it in the culture (in this case, a scary-looking vial of E.coli), then streak the loop over 1/4 of your petri dish of agar in order to grow colonies.
 
Here's Mary demonstrating step #1:
 
 
Then you sterilize the loop, bring it to the first 1/4, turn the dish 90 degrees and streak the loop from section 1 to section 2.
 
Here's me demonstrating step #2
 
 
1/2 of your dish is now covered. Repeat until the whole dish is streaked, with the goal of getting fewer and fewer organisms per streak in order to break out the colonies.
 
Here is Jennifer completing step #3, and Mary did the final quadrant.  
 
 
And I just had to get a picture of myself holding the E.coli vial just to freak out my family.
 
 
I really need a vacation.
 
 
Disclaimer: This was for picture purposes only. I would not be that mentally incapacitated to actually think of licking the vial.
 
There's a picture of the four quadrant technique here, and really pretty pictures of all sorts of different streaked plates here.
 
And this is how we study bacteria and diseases.
 
If you think this is boring, well, deal with it. I think it's fascinating, so therefore you'll have to suffer through some science-y posts the day after my class.

16 March 2010

Vegginess

Pet Tip Tuesday: Don't eat your animal friends.
 
I've come to the conclusion that while maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle is pretty simple (simple is a relative term when you live in the middle of cow country and everyone you know is an avid carnivore and avid hunter), taking the step to eat vegan isn't so easy.
 
Why?
 
Because I love cheese so much. So much.
 
If anyone can give me a solution to my cheeseaholicness, let me know.
 
However, despite my love of nonvegan things, I experimented with a vegan recipe last night and it turned out really, really well. Surprisingly well. Who knew you wouldn't miss the cheese in a lasagna? And not just any lasagna, but the awesome Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna, courtesy of the Fat Free Vegan blog. (It's a really pretty blog and has lots of yummy recipes. Check it out.)
 
I didn't take any pictures of it because I was a little apprehensive about how it would turn out (tofu, spinach, mushrooms and spaghetti sauce is about all it has in it), but now I wish I would have. It was that good. I'm looking forward to leftovers tonight. And no cheese! And so flavorful!
 
I bet you're wondering if Matt liked it. Well, Matt has a huge aversion to anything pasta/red sauce/vegetables, so no. He was perfectly happy to fire up the grill for some brats. Which he ate with cheese puffs and kool-aid...the man is seriously more than happy to eat like a five-year-old every day of the week. And he never gains a pound, the nerd.
 
How we make our meals work: he (tries to, with limited snarky comments) ignore the fact that I bring tofu into the house, and I (try to) ignore Daisy the Dead Cow on the grill outside.
 
Our marriage ROCKS.
 
This arrangement works out well for me, because not only did I make that fantastic lasagna, but I made homemade veggie burgers on Sunday while Matt grilled hamburgers for himself.
 
Oh. My. Gosh.
 
These things are so, so incredibly good. I wish I had made two batches to freeze. (The veggie burgers. Not the cow.)
 
The veggie burgers are not vegan on account of the two eggs (ewww), but there's no where in heaven to find egg replacer (Eggbeaters doesn't count - it has real eggs in it) in Licking. In our little corner of Cow Country, who woulda thought??
 
Here's the recipe. It's a little time consuming, but oh so worth it.
 
Veggie Burgers
yield: 8 patties
 
Ingredients:
  
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Green or Red Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Carrot
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Celery
  • 1 Can Cannelloni Beans, drained
  • 2 Eggs (ewwww)
  • 3/4 Cup Plain Bread Crumbs
  • Any seasonings you like. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil and dried dill. (LOVE dill!!) **I don't measure seasonings. I just throw them in there and hope for the best.**
 
 
Directions:
Mince all the veggies in your food processor. I did the veggies one at a time since my processor is small, but if you have a big one you might be able to fit them all in there. Just put the carrots on the bottom since they are harder.  
 
Aren't the carrots pretty?
 

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the minced veggies over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft and moisture has evaporated. Set aside to cool slightly.
 

Mash beans (the food processor will speed this up). Place in a medium bowl and add eggs and seasonings.
 
 
Mix well. Add bread crumbs and veggie mixture; mix well again.
 
 
Shape into 8 equal patties (your hands will get really, really messy here). Refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes, or put in freezer for 10 minutes.
 

Heat some olive oil or use nonstick spray in a skillet. Add a couple patties, sprinkle with a little more garlic powder and dill, and cook over medium heat until browned on both sides and heated through. Repeat until all patties are cooked. 
 
 
You can serve them right away or put them in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to eat. I had one on a bun yesterday for lunch and then a nekkid one (what I like to call "bunless") with a salad for lunch today.
 
These patties are amazingly good!! 
 
Next recipes I want to try:
 
 
With recipes like this, I might not miss cheese so much after all.

15 March 2010

March Addiction

Most of you, at least by now, know that I am mildly obsessed with dogs. And after three trips to Alaska for a mission trip, a job interview (during college, so don't freak out...we're not moving) and to run my first marathon (I wanted to run my first 26.2 in my favorite place in the world), I'm mildly obsessed with our 49th state. So it should come as no surprise that this time of year I'm glued to my computer, keeping track of my favorite mushers as they compete in the world-famous Iditarod.
 
This is my March addiction. Some people have the NCAA brackets to keep them occupied. My husband has the start of high school baseball season.
 
I have dogs and sleds and half-frozen people running across the mountains and rivers of Alaska.
 
When Matt and I were in Anchorage for my marathon, we had the opportunity to travel to Big Lake to the Happy Trails Kennels - the home of Iditarod Champion Martin Buser...who is also the current record-holder for the fastest Iditarod finish time ever. He was awesome. Very down-to-earth, very personable. My favorite thing? All of his humanitarian awards, given to the mushers who take the best care of their dogs out on the trail. I was in awe to be in the presence of someone who's actually completed - and has won multiple times - the Iditarod. I almost couldn't speak.
 
 
Here's Martin explaining the workings of the sled and what to expect out on the trail.
 
 
Martin's world-record trophy...try fitting that one on your mantle.
 
 
My absolute favorite picture of me and Matt. It wasn't cold...it just looks that way. :)
 
 
Anyway, back to the race.
 
I also like Lance Mackey - who's currently in the lead, and if he wins this year it will be a record-setting four years in a row for him - and he's also a man who is a throat cancer survivor. My favorite thing about Lance is that he is quick to give credit first to his dogs before he talks about himself.
 
And new this year: Newton Marshall, a musher from where else? Jamaica. I love the pictures of him at the ceremonial start in Anchorage and all of the posters that say, "Mush, Mon!" And there really is a Jamaican Dogsled Team. How. Cool.
 
But one of my favorite favorite mushers is DeeDee Jonrowe. Not only is this chick out there racing against big, burly men (and usually beats most of them), she's a breast cancer survivor who harnesses her dogs in bright pink. According to her bio on her website, DeeDee is the foremost female dog musher competing in the world today. She has both the fastest time of any woman in the history of the Iditarod and 14 top ten finishes in her career. Her second place finish in 1998 was the fifth fastest Iditarod time ever recorded at that point. She's also competed in the Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run) and about a gazillion other sled dog races. Rock on, woman!
 
Check out her photos!
 
As I was going through my list of Iditarod sites to check on the current standings, I came across an article about DeeDee that made me want to cry.
 
Seriously. This lady is amazing.
 
Courtesy of Loren Liden at Iditablog.com:
 
As DeeDee Jonrowe approaches Unalakleet, I imagine she is getting anxious. Not just to make it to the next checkpoint, but to make it to what she called her “favorite checkpoint this year.” Jonrowe has led a fundraising campaign to raise support so that Logan Erickson, a 9-year-old, autistic boy in Unalakleet, could have a service dog.
 
When Jonrowe visited Unalakleet earlier this year, Erickson was fascinated by her dog, Miyagi, calling for him after Jonrowe had left. Logan didn’t speak before this. Obviously Logan benefited significantly from the presence of a dog, and DeeDee, like most mushers, understands the benefits that dogs can have on humans. Specifically, service dogs for autistic children provide emotional support, as well a significant safety net.
 
For those of you who don’t know, autism manifests itself in children through lack of social skills, as well as a tendency to wander off and difficulty sleeping. 4 Paws for Ability, the organization through which Logan will receive his dog, is the first and continues to be the largest organization that places service dogs with autistic children. They have an intimate understanding of autism, and have developed training for their dogs to best suit the children they will be serving. For example, these service dogs are not only trained how to aid a child in behavioral and social contexts, but are also trained in search and rescue so that when their child wanders off they can track him/her down. Pretty impressive if you ask me!
 
This dog will clearly make a significant impact on the life of Logan, and on the rest of his family (4 older brothers, and parents Jeff and Donna) . As such, several other mushers jumped on board when they heard what DeeDee was up to. Martin Buser, Aliy Zirkle, Lance Mackey, Mitch Seavey and William “Middie” Johnson have all gotten involved by either donating items or experiences toward the auction or soliciting pledges for their race.
 
When Logan receives his dog here shortly, DeeDee and fellow mushers will have run a successful race – one that will forever change the life of a little boy. That, in my opinion, is worth running a thousand miles across Alaska for.
 
-Loren Liden for Iditablog.com
 
That is the kind of story that makes you have faith in humanity.
 
Here's the link to read about Logan: 4 Paws for Logan. What a cute little boy. And I just cry all over when I think about his first word ever was - at the age of nine years old - the name of one of DeeDee's dogs. Isn't that the greatest thing?
 
Good luck, Logan! I hope you get your dog.
 
And good luck DeeDee...we're cheering you on to Nome! Almost there!
 
For more Iditarod coverage, click HERE. But only if you want to get really, really hooked on Alaska and some amazing people and dogs. Trust me on this. It's addicting.
 
As I mentioned on Twitter (@runsforcupcakes) the other day, I know the mushers like Matt knows MLB players...and we still make our marriage work.
 
Mush!

11 March 2010

Bouncy Dog

You cannot watch this video until you promise me three things:

1. You will ignore the pile of (clean) laundry on the coffee table.
2. You will ignore the fact that "The Office" is (still) on our TV.
3. You will not turn us in for animal cruelty, because this is really, really funny.

This is what we call "Bouncy Dog."

video

UConn is obviously less than amused...and yet she does nothing about it. That would take too much energy.

It makes me giggle.

Especially when her arm (dogs have arms, right? Leg? Left superior extremity?) starts moving in circles.

Especially when Matt pats her on the nose and then just walks away without looking back.

She looks so confused. And content. And fat.

And before my mother grounds me from ten towns away for the embarrassing state of my living room, here's proof I know how to put my clothes away. And vacuum.

And rearrange the furniture. I do that a lot.














I haven't sat on our couch in years. There's always giant dogs taking up all the room, and it just takes too much energy to move them. Plus, when I try to boss them around, they just roll their eyes, show me their crotches and laugh in my face.

09 March 2010

31 Reasons

This little guy is 31 years old today!
 
 
Happy birthday to my dear, sweet husband!
 
In honor of his 31st birthday, I'd like to share 31 reasons why I love him so much.
 
Hold onto your hats. This is awesome.
 
1. When he's in town, he'll stop by my work just to say hi even if he has some place he has to be.
 
2. He has patience with me in the grocery store. I know his comments of "just pick a can of soup already!" and "that apple looks just like the apple you put down!" are completely made out of love and kindness.
 
3. He gives me the "I love you" sign when he pulls out of the driveway.
 
4. He can make me laugh at the most inopportune times. While I'm drinking a soda. While I'm on the phone at work. At church. At my grandmother's funeral. 
 
5. His dedication to his career is amazing. No shortcuts. He fights for what he wants and believes in what he does. He is an excellent provider for our family.
 
6. He hugs me every morning when I leave for work and hugs me every evening when I get home.
 
7. He loves real Christmas trees. Without him, we would not have one. I detest putting up the sappy, sticky things and he is more than happy to do it himself.
 
8. He does all our laundry and will surprise me by filling my car up with gas.
 
9. When he volunteers to go out and pick up dinner, he doesn't have to ask me what I want. He just knows.  
 
10. He can recite every word in the movies "The Sandlot," "Ocean's Eleven" and all of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Well, I kind of love that. But not really.
 
11. He puts up with my book obsession since it allows him to watch ESPN uninterrupted.
 
12. He makes an effort to even the scales - if I go to a basketball game with him, he'll turn around and do something I want to do the next time.
 
13. He's secretly a dog-lover too. I smile when I see him on the recliner with one of the pups curled up in his lap.
 
14. He totally gets my jokes, which is saying a lot.
 
15. He loves my hair no matter what color or style it happens to be at any given time.
 
16. He'll text "I love you so much" to me at random times during the day. That makes me smile.
 
17. He'll text "That's what she said" to me at random times during the day. That makes me laugh (see #4).
 
18. When he runs down the street to get himself a Coke Zero from the gas station, he almost always brings back a Diet A&W Root Beer for me.
 
19. Our fights aren't ever really fights - they are silly arguments that last about .083 seconds and always end in laughter. (It's really difficult to be mad when you're laughing!)
 
20. He sticks up for me. Not always to the person's face who upset me, but he'll tell me how much I mean to him and remind me not to listen to idiotic people. It makes me feel protected and important.
 
21. He knows what it means when I'm grumpy.
 
22. He is the most encouraging person in my life. When he knew I wasn't happy with where my career was going, he whole-heartedly encouraged me to go back to school to be a nurse because he knows how much I want to help people and how unhappy I am sitting behind a desk all day. 
 
23. He will go toe-to-toe with an umpire to fight against a bad call for his baseball team. He won't back down and he knows how hard he can push without getting kicked out. He's been told to sit down and stay in the dugout, but that's only because he was right and the umpire knew it.
 
24. He slows down if there is a dog, cat, squirrel or bird in the road because he knows that it means a lot to me if we don't roadkill an animal. At least he does when I'm in the truck.
 
25. He loves to travel as much as I do. We're always looking for fun places to go and explore.
 
26. Despite being a picky eater, he'll try new things I cook for dinner. For instance, tofu. Yes, he tried it. And yes, he ended up ordering pizza. But at least he tried.
 
27. He kisses me on the forehead.
 
28. He winks at me, even when people are around.
 
29. If I'm cold, he'll get up in the middle of the night and turn off the fan, even if he's sweating.
 
30. He is in love with Jesus. He might not show it in a "hands-in-the-air-roll-in-the-aisles" sort of way, but he does show it in how he lives out every moment of his life. He's a great example to me, his co-workers and every single kid that he coaches.
 
31. I will always, always, until the day I die, love how he looks in his baseball uniform.
 
  
Happy birthday Matt!

08 March 2010

Wrapped Up in Me

I’ve been reading a blog lately about a couple who are currently in Kenya, touring villages that have been built by Compassion International.

 

I used to sponsor two Compassion kids - one from Guatemala and one from Nicaragua.

 

I love Central American kids. I want one. They're so stinkin' adorable.
 
Proof: Me and Romel, one of my favorite Panamanian kiddos. His mom made that hammock with her bare hands.
 

 

Anyway, we would trade letters back and forth almost every month. They would draw me pictures of their houses and families. I would send stickers and bookmarks and tell them about my dogs.

 

My Guatemalan kid grew up and out of the sponsorship program, and my kid in Nicaragua – devastatingly – was never located after Hurricane Felix (a category 5) wiped out entire villages and families. I got a letter from Compassion about how my sponsorship was terminated due to the fact they couldn’t find Esequiel or anyone in his family. I cried. Ask Matt.

 

But I think at the time, we were secretly ok with not having any more sponsorships. We were trying to save money, pay off student loans, blah, blah, blah…

 

I’m so heartily sick to death of every decision and thought revolving around money right now. I know it has to be done, but I’m still sick of it.

 

So of course, as I was reading the Reverb blog this weekend, I was slapped in the face by this:

 

Two things he [the trip leader] said hit me pretty hard: “Even though we have different skin color and we come from a different country, we are related to each other. We both have the same Father. Our Father in heaven calls us all His children and that makes us brothers and sisters. Compassion International is trying to help release the poor from poverty, but it’s also helping to release us from our wealth.” As I stood there in front of around 300 of the poorest people I’ve ever seen, I have never felt so rich in all my life. I thought about the $120 I had in my pocket as I stood there and how it could be used to purchase a home here in Kenya…and maybe a goat.

 

I know I’m starting nursing school in two months. I know I’ll have to quit my job to go to school, and we’ll be down to just my husband’s teacher’s salary for one entire year. I know that everyone is thinking that I need to slow down and stop and think about our finances.

 

But like I said, I’m sick of doing that.

 

Do I really believe that God is God? Am I really, honestly trusting Him to take care of us this next year, or are we budgeting ourselves to death and trying to do His job for us instead?

 

I’m not saying it’s ok to go crazy and buy Jimmy Choos or purchase a new car or get all new living room furniture right now. I’m not that insane. I don’t think God would consider that a good use of our brains or bank accounts.

 

But seriously. $38 a month? Is that really going to break the bank? Is sponsoring a child for $38 a month going to bring dishonor to God, or will it glorify Him through the nations?

 

I cannot say it any better than how Ryan on the Reverb blog wrapped it up:

 

It was about an opportunity to begin a powerful relationship with someone halfway across the world. Compassion International goes to great lengths at helping sponsors meet their sponsored children in person. There are stories of children being picked up and driven 8 hours just to meet their sponsor because it’s that important.

 

(Side note: I can completely vouch for this. When I was in Panama, we met entire families who walked two whole days through rivers, forests and jungles just to get to meet the Americans who came to build the school.)
 
I'm the white girl in the back with the handkerchief on her head, in case you couldn't tell.
 

 

Sponsorship isn’t about the money, it’s about letting someone know that they have value and that you are pulling for them.

 

It’s not about $38 a month. It’s about the letters you write and the dreams you instill in a child. I watched as several people began a deep relationship with kids that will last a long, long time today. I heard a voice in my head multiple times. It was saying, “It’s really hard to ask people to give until it hurts when you are not giving until it hurts.” It was a call to respond.

 

I absolutely cannot get this out of my head. I'm sleepless. Restless. Feeling a calling to do more.

 

I’ve had people remind me that it was my decision to go back to school (I know). That I should have calculated all the risks (I did) and thought about the repercussions (I did). The finances. The sacrifices. I still don’t regret it. Matt and I are very, very excited about this. So yes, I shouldn’t stress about finances. I know I’ve brought this on myself. I just feel a calling to do more, despite the fact that people might think I’m crazy because of school starting so soon.

 

But I feel like I’m focusing too much on myself. I feel like I get so wrapped up in me – in the petty little nonsenses that have absolutely no value - that I miss everything else that is so much more important in the world.

 

What do I think should be of no value? I feel like I care too much about my weight. My diet. My hair color. My shoes. You think that the little kid in Nairobi who had rice three days ago as their only meal cares about how much this selfish American weighs? And I bet there’s a kid out there who would love the barely-worn pair of sandals that I just tossed out to Goodwill last month. I’m so materialistic sometimes, and it makes me sick.

 

I need to get out of my Addie-bubble and start focusing on more important things.

 

On the more eternal things.


06 March 2010

The One Without the Patience

A successful coach needs a patient wife, loyal dog, and great quarterback - and not necessarily in that order. -- Bud Grant

In our case, that would be a great pitcher instead of quarterback. And I'm working on the patient part.

Sort of.

I've always said that in the instance of the Proverbs 31 standard, patience has never been one of my virtues. (I can seriously hear my mother shouting "AMEN!" from 100 miles away.)

Last night I decided to try my hand at homemade pizza dough. I discovered a great vegan website absolutely full of delicious-looking recipes, and found one for a quick-and-easy pizza dough. I've never used active yeast before, so I was a little nervous. But 15 minutes later, the yummy smell of dough filled the house and I couldn't wait for Matt to get home from practice to have dinner.

I think it's a rule that on Friday nights you have to have pizza.

Anyway, I was expecting Matt home at 7:00. Well, that came and went. But you know how many times I went to the window to see if his truck was coming up the road?

Let's just say it was a lot. I'm really pathetic sometimes.

At 7:30 I decided to eat without him because the pizza was getting cold. And of course, the minute I took a bite he walked in the door. Turns out it was a good thing I decided not to wait - he was so exhausted from his week (practice, going to our district basketball games, unloading a truckload of dirt for the baseball field) that he went straight to sleep and didn't want anything to eat.

You'd think that after more than six years of being married to a coach, I wouldn't stand by the window watching for him to come home. He usually gets home at 7:00, but that is not a solid, defined time. It is absolutely subject to change every single day. And he's told me time and time again that it's perfectly ok to eat dinner before he gets home - he knows I don't like to eat after 7pm. But it just feels weird, like I'm not taking care of him or something. To which he tells me he doesn't need anyone to take care of him - that if dinner is cold he'll just warm it up. Or if he doesn't like what I make, he'll make something on his own. That he's a big boy.

My husband is totally liberated.

And I imagine that most women would be happy to not have a husband who is totally needy and dependant on them. And for the most part, I am. But I still like to make sure he eats a decent dinner (chicken nuggets and fries are not a decent meal) and feels ok and had a good day.

My number one struggle is - still, after six years - suppressing the urge to pick up the phone and turn into that annoying, nagging wife with the "Are you on your way home? Do you know what time you'll get home? You're seriously still at the field?!?!?" calls. I refuse to be that sort of wife. As the above quote states, a good coach has to have a patient, understanding wife - one that is perfectly ok with his nuts-o schedule and has a life of her own to fill the time. The last thing a good coach needs is the pressure of knowing his wife is waiting at home, foot tapping, wondering where in the world he's been if he's five minutes past 7:00 - and the minute he walks in the door asking things like, "What took so long? Do you still like me? Are you mad at me?"

Do you really think he wants to come home to that?

He has enough things to worry about. The poor guy was sound asleep by 9:30 last night and then had to get up early this morning to go spread the new dirt on the field...and after that is practice - until 3:00 this afternoon. Kinda makes me glad I don't play organized sports. I'm still in my pajamas.

Today I'm keeping myself occupied by cleaning the house and rearranging the living room. Matt loves it when I rearrange the furniture every other day, especially when he comes home and it's dark and he trips over the sofa that used to be on the other side of the room.

The things I do to make his life easier. He's so lucky.

And about the patience thing? I'm working on it. Despite 100000 trips to the window between 7:00 and 7:30 last night, I'm working on it.

04 March 2010

The One with the Kale

This is what I get for figuring out how to add multiple vegetarian and eat-clean blogs to my Google Reader. It seems like everyone is posting lately about their new favorite snack, and it intrigued me.
 
I mean, seriously. Who in their right mind would ever stand in front of the leafy greens in the produce section and think, "Oh man, I just have to take those home and see what they can do in the oven!"
 
But based on all the reviews, I decided to give it a try.
 
It, being Kale Chips. Yes. I voluntarily roasted a member of the cabbage family.
 
Matt wasn't home. So don't tell him. He already thinks I'm loopy.
 
Kale Chips
 
What you need:
 
1 bunch of kale
1 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
sea salt
 
 
 
Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the kale leaves off the stems and tear them into bite-size pieces. Throw the stems away...they're not so good cooked.
 
 
Put all the leaves into a gallon zip-lock bag with the oil and vinegar. Toss it around to coat all the leaves.
 
 
Spread the oil-and-vinegar leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. It's important they are in a single layer, or else they won't crisp. Sprinkle them with sea salt.
 
 
Bake for 10-11 minutes, then take out of the oven and let sit for one minute.
  
 
I was skeptical to the point of being very happy to see that each kale bunch was only .99 at the store in case this recipe would turn out to be a total waste. However, after making these weird looking things, I think I've found a new favorite snack. They have that great salt-and-vinegar taste and crunch exactly like potato chips...yet I'm getting a full serving of veggies in, too. Bonus.
 
Knuke apparently thought so too. I didn't get them in an air-tight container fast enough, and the silly dog licked up 1/4 of the tray before I could run into the kitchen and tackle him.
 
Tackling is just about the only way I can control that big oaf anymore. He's taller than me. Which, if you ask my husband, isn't really saying a lot.
 
PS: For those of you who receive these blog updates via email, I apologize if the pictures aren't lined up right. I'm trying to fix that. Also, I have a new customized blog layout if you want to check it out online!
 
 

 

 

03 March 2010

The One that will Bore You to Tears

82 days until nursing school starts.
 
I would freak out about that, but I'm on so much cold medicine that the most my brain can process are things like, "Hey! That shirt is red!" and "Hey! My pen is purple!"
 
That's about it today, folks.

Which is rather frightening because I have a microbiology test tonight over microbe nutrition and growth, along with bacterial disinfection and sterilization. All this cold will let me remember is that my instructor mentioned in our last class that Lysol can have a toxic effect on cats.
 
I highly doubt that little tidbit of information will be on the test.
 
My instructor also mentioned that you have to look carefully at labels of cleaners. Just because something is a disinfectant (i.e. Lysol) doesn't mean it will disinfect your counter tops if there is a layer of grime it has to work through. That's what's known as a two-step process - you have to 1) clean the surface and then 2) disinfect it.
 
I about have the patience of a one-step woman. If it doesn't take care of the bacteria the first time, well, that's the bacteria's problem.
 
That sounded gross, didn't it? For anyone who cares to care, I do clean my house.
 
Dogs licking things off the kitchen floor totally counts as cleaning.
 
I love Clorox Wipes. Just so you know.
 
To bore you even further, let's talk about bleach. Bleach is a great disinfectant, but a bad cleanser. And I was curious. What makes bleach, bleach?
 
It has to do with electricity, believe it or not. When you buy a gallon of bleach at the grocery store, what you are buying is chemical sodium hypochlorite mixed with water in a 5.25-percent solution. You're basically buying salt water that has been changed slightly by electricity. 

According to howstuffworks.com, there has been a lot of discussion about the safety of chlorine in drinking water. It's not really clear how safe or unsafe chlorine is, but two things stand out:
  • It's a whole lot safer to drink chlorinated water than water contaminated with disease-causing bacteria. Millions of people have died from water-borne diseases, and these diseases are largely eliminated in modern water systems through the use of chlorine.
  • If you are worried about the chlorine in your water, all you have to do is let the water stand for a day or two in a loosely covered container in your fridge and the chlorine is eliminated. How cool is that?

You can read more here.
 
Ok, I'm done with the science lesson. But you have to admit that the lysol/cat thing is pretty interesting.
 
Probably why some lysol-loving people I know (you know who you are!) wake up every morning to find cat yuck on the hallway carpet.
 
Yesterday was Day 2 of baseball practice, but I didn't see Matt until right about 10:00 last night. After practice, he went with the basketball team to Cabool to watch them play in the first round of Districts. 
 
I kind of remember him calling and telling me he would be home late. I also kind of remember doing my best to intelligently contribute to the conversation with things like, "Ummmmm, yeah. Soooooo, heeyyy (Yes. Like The Fonz). How are yoooouuuu?" 
 
He called me back later to let me know the team won. Then, when he got home, I brilliantly asked him if they won or lost.
 
Seriously. Cold medicine has a concussion effect on me.
 
And I love it when he looks at me like I'm a fruitcake.
 
Despite not feeling well at all this week, Tina and I have completed Day 3 of our three mile mornings.
 
The alarm clock going off at 4:45 am totally drills the point across that our "lets-take-a-break-from-exercising-over-the-holidays" hiatus is definitely over. And yes, I realize that our "holiday break" lasted about three months. And it felt good. And we didn't care. Sort of.
 
Except now I feel really guilty and yucky. I think I still have a couple Christmas cookies hanging on to my backside that refuse to let go.
 
I've set a goal for myself: lose 10 lbs by time I go visit my sister in Houston in 43 days. That's roughly six weeks...completely doable.
 
My Polish brain will not sabotage me into having no control over the ingestion of all things sugar and white flour. Dang those Poles. Why couldn't they have based their national food traditions on sprouts and tofu? Not everything has to be perogies and babka. And kolaches. And halushki. And paska.
 
God bless my carbohydrate-laden heritage.