Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Helloooo.....my how life has changed since my last post!

Hello girls! (And the one guy who I know reads this blog - but I'm not sure if you're still around. :)

It's so funny to me to read over the last two posts and see my comment about being "bloated" and how the weight wasn't coming off as fast as expected while I dieted. It was only a day later (Nov. 17th) that I got my BFP (Big Fat Positive pregnancy test, in bump language), and that "pms-y bloating" has yet to leave my body! It's a pretty ridiculous thing to watch my belly "grow" every day, sometime around noon or later, then shrink every night when I sleep. I am definitely not showing for real yet - just bloaty! lol

As of today I am 11 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I am thrilled to be having a baby - now I just can't wait for my little peanut to get here! I have had two ultrasounds, one at 7w1d and the other at 8w3d (the latter one is my Facebook pic), and I will have one on Friday when I have my 12-week "Sequential Screening."

This is a non-invasive blood test and ultrasound to show a rough estimate of my odds of having a child with birth defects and/or Downs Syndrome. Chris and I went back and forth over having this test, because it can frequently give you false negatives or positives, but after talking to a friend we decided to go ahead with it. This friend had a problem with her baby's placenta that had to carefully monitored that was only identified by this kind of careful test. And anyway, it's another ultrasound picture of the baby - otherwise I'd have to wait til around 20 weeks, I think!

Well, that's enough baby talk for now - I'm sure at least some of you got tired of checking to see when I'd update again, so who knows when you'll actually be back to check this blog! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

craaaazy week

sorry about the lack of posts again! this has been an insane week at school. we have a wonderful chorus parents organization, and apparently every year they host a K-7 variety show and a 8-12 variety show to raise money. i guess in the past it has brought in thousands of dollars for us. this is great except that it requires a lot of outside-school commitment. there is an audition night, a dress rehearsal night, and a show night for each variety show (6 nights total). we had the two audition nights last week, and this week was the two dress rehearsals and the K-7 show last night.

i left my house at 6:45 yesterday, and didn't get home 'til after 10 p.m.

so yes, i was a little tired after a week like that!

however, i slept in this morning, and i've been relaxing on the couch for the last couple of hours with my decaf tea.

i heart saturdays.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

So....just kidding!

After I just wrote a whole post about the diet, I have decided not to continue "Flat Belly" and to continue with "Eat Great, Lose Weight" (Suzanne Somers).

I did lose FOUR POUNDS (even with pms-y bloating!) and I am now currently at my college weight!!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!

Which translated means that I have 9 pounds to go to reach my goal weight - not super-skinny, and not even what I weighed on my wedding day - but a weight that I feel is reasonable and healthy for my body and stage of life.

I'm so freakin' excited! :) Something about nine pounds just sounds so much nicer than ten pounds to me.

I decided not to stay with "Flat Belly" because it required constant measuring and weighing, and that is really just no way to live, in my opinion.

So, I started EGLW today, and I'll give it a try until Thanksgiving. I've already decided/know that I will eat a normal (although moderate!) Thanksgiving meal, because there's really no point in trying to be that self-controlled. And when you have a mom like mine, you just can't pass up food like that!

Anyway, I'm realistically prepared to gain a pound or so as my body re-adjusts to new foods and a new pattern, but if by next week at Thanksgiving I'm one pound less than where I am today, I will consider that a success :).

Here's to feeling healthy and thinner! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Flat Belly" low-down

Since some of you asked, the "Flat Belly Diet" is for just that - eliminating belly fat. It's from the people at Prevention magazine. In a nutshell, you jumpstart the diet by a 4-day super strict diet that is supposed to banish bloat (and subsequently make you lose weight), and then you follow a pretty healthy diet afterwards. After the 4 days, you have to have a monounsaturated fat with every meal, which is either olives, olive oil, nuts, or dark chocolate. They based their research on people from Mediterranean cultures who apparently eat all of those foods and have low belly fat.

I'm sure you all know by now that they say belly fat is the worst kind to have - but even seemingly skinny people can have a different kind of belly fat underneath the skin's surface. I'm sure I have both kinds. lol

Anyways, this is my fourth and last day of the anti-bloat phase, and I've lost about 3 pounds so far, which is actually really great considering that I'm also hormonally bloated right now from pms! haha (And normally I gain 4ish pounds at this time of the month, so hopefully when I'm not extra-bloated I'll really be down around 5 pounds.)

My mom bought the book and the cookbook, which is the only way I'd ever heard about it.

I think I might try this until Thanksgiving, and see how it works. My friend Brigette told me about the Suzanne Somers diet, and since my mom said it was also working really well for John and James C., I might try that between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We'll see! I'll just be happy when today is over.....I'm dying for a cup of coffee!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Flat Belly? Growling belly's more like it....

i am currently on the 'no-bloat' phase of the flat belly diet.

and i am STARVING, people.

thank GOD (and i really do mean that) that this only lasts four days, and this is day two.

two.more.days.

i think i can, i think i can....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Drama, Drama, Drama

A few random thoughts from my big ol' comfy armchair in my living room. That's right, people! Living room is moved in! I am SOOOOOOO pumped to have this room basically put together - now my house really, really feels like home again. I am a definite picture person, and it was so soothing to have all of my photos and frames out again yesterday. Plus, it was kinda like an early Christmas to unwrap all of my things again - I forgot I had some stuff!

This afternoon, I spent two hours searching for my keys. It was a nightmare. Not so much because of my personal keys, but because I have about 6 keys on my ring that belong to school. And one of those happens to be a master key to the high school. I was bawling like a baby, but I couldn't help myself, because all I could imagine was that I'd get fired or at the very least, fined a huge amount of money to re-key all the locks. Do you know how many doors are in an average high school building?! Anyway, praise the LORD, they were found in a box in the garage that we had already looked in twice. How we missed them the first two times, I have no idea, but I was a wreck.

I don't know if its the fact that my home feels homey again or because of all of the economic problems in the country (or a mixture of both), but I'm going to start getting into the CVS thing again. Kathy has been inspiring me to get my butt in gear again, and there are a LOT of great deals this week.

I'm going to make myself some decaf with my Vanilla Caramel creamer and cut me some coupons ;).

Thanksgiving is only 18 days away!!!!!!!!!!!!



P.S. I posted a video link on my Facebook site (99 balloons) - I found it from myheartismyhome.blogspot.com and seriously, seriously....you need to watch it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ahhh....

just spent an amazing weekend with chris and 8 other couples at a couples' retreat up at spruce lake resort.  all of the couples were from our church, and we spent the time laughing and eating a ton, and just getting to know our spouses better.  it was such a nice change of pace from the monotony of going to work, making dinner, working on the house, and going to bed!  i loved it and i hope we can go back next year.  

just finished typing up the rest of the week's lesson plans (ugh) and now i get to help chris do the living room floor (lucky me!).  our ceiling was finally installed on thursday night, the walls have been painted, so all that's left is the floor.  then we can finally bring our sofas and chair in from the garage and have a place to relax at night that is not the dining room table or the bed.  i think i just might die of happiness when that happens.  

off to work!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Randomness

Aren't you just loving fall this year?! We've been drinking a lot of cold apple cider this year, but on Saturday I was at this cute little shop and they had hot apple cider with oranges as part of a big fall sale. It was blissful. lol

The older I get, the more I appreciate Thanksgiving as a holiday - in fact, it's now my official favorite. Of course I appreciate Christmas more in the sense that it's symbolizes Christ's incarnation (and all of the wonder and mystery and grace and promise that involves), but if we're strictly speaking holidays, Thanksgiving now tops my list.

Why? Well, it suddenly dawned on me last night that for the past 6+ years, Thanksgiving has represented the first time after many months that all of my immediate family is together again. The food, the parade, the fall colors, spending quality time with everyone, the knowledge of Christmas still coming....it all combines to make it just the best day/weekend of the year! I think every year that I get older, I appreciate my life more. Especially after this year, with all of its unexpected heartache - my family really is so special and I cherish them all so dearly.

Anyway, if I had the motivation to load pictures right now, I would show you my fall decorations, because they're super cute and classy if I do say so myself.

But I currently have over 500 photos on my camera. Would you want to upload them and sort through all 500?

I didn't think so. ;)


Time for Curves! I'm slowly losing weight again and have a definite goal I'd like to reach before I reach the holiday season!

Embrace the loveliness of today!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wow.

Are you guys still out there?! :) I know it has been ages, but believe me, I've had good reason. I know you're all waiting for pictures of the house, and I hope to have those up on Facebook by Sunday night. So much has been happening in my life recently that it seems a little crazy to try to compress it into a blog entry! It's not that I haven't wanted to be blogging - it's that there's TOO much to talk about and I've been overwhelmed about where to begin.

So.

I'm going to start small.

First thing I wanted to mention: I don't know if any of you are still into the CVS thing (I know you're trying, Kathy! Whoo hoo!), but I have a good idea for you if you want to get into the the extra-care bucks thing but didn't want to cough up initial dough. For the month of October, CVS is offering 5 ECB for $15 purchase of assorted Starbucks products. I don't know about all of you, but there are TONS of people on my Christmas list who are coffee/Starbucks fanatics. This is a great way to get some shopping done early, and then have 5 left to spend at the store. With those 5 ECB, you could pick up some cute fall decorations that are on clearance right now or you could roll it over to buy something else that will give ECB.


Second thing I wanted to mention: One of my all-time favorite blogs, 4 Reluctant Entertainers, is doing another giveaway. I'm mentioning her here because she will put my name in twice in the drawing and she gives away the most amazing gift baskets! I have entered quite a few of her giveaways but haven't one yet. However, this one is a fall giveaway and since I am a fall fanatic (ask my husband), I would LOOOOOVE to win it! If you've never checked out her website, well...you're crazy. It's awesome. So go! Hurry! :)

That's all for now. Valspar's "Churchhill Hotel Maple" is calling my name (we're going to paint the living room tonight! Gooood times.....)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hellooooooooooooooooo bloggy world!

I have been meaning to update for a while but my life has been whirling out of control (yet in a good way, lol).  We officially got our house on Aug. 15th, and have spent every day since then working on it! Chris and I like to joke that in 3 weeks we have brought the value of our house down about $30,000.  haha  This is because that a lot of people in our area (I'm not trying to be mean, but socioeconomically it is a little lower here) would have just moved right in to this house, paneling and smelly carpet and office-tiled ceilings and all.  We just had a big vision for this place, and so a ton of stuff has been ripped out and thrown out and changed around.  

We actually moved in on Saturday night.....it's really more like camping out, because we have two functioning bathrooms and our bedroom is liveable but we don't have any appliances.  No fridge, no oven, no washer, no dryer! Oh, the things that get pushed out of your mind when you're a first-time homeowner working night and day on renovating your house! lol  We went in Saturday to buy our fridge, thinking they could probably deliver on Saturday.  Oh, no - it's definitely back-ordered til Friday! It's okay, you can laugh...we laughed at ourselves and our stupidity! haha

So we are living out of a cooler, a microwave, and a toaster.  Did I mention we haven't moved our kitchen table in yet?  So we eat on the floor.  And did I mention our kitchen is completely being overhauled?  So we can't currently use the sink.  So we use paper and plastic for everything.  (Yes, I do feel a tiny bit guilty about that).  

So, besides living in chaos right now, we've both also been working full time.  I also got a cold for four days over Labor Day weekend, which really added to the fun! hahaha 

Honestly, yes, it is a little overwhelming, but each day we see progress and thankfully we have a large house with a garage to store most of our things.  As soon as the kitchen is put together (hopefully by the weekend), life will be a little less weird.  

So............THAT'S why I haven't been posting! 


Pictures will come after my kitchen is fixed! :) Stay tuned!  


And I currently have 3 gray hairs in my head....so maybe pray for me! lol :)






Friday, August 15, 2008

I am a happy homeowner! :) We closed at 3:00 today, and let me tell you, I think Chris would have driven home on two wheels were I not in the car - that's how pumped he is (and me too). We worked on the house as soon as we got back, took a quick dinner break, and then went back until about 9;30.

Our house was fully carpeted (except the kitchen and bathrooms), and there were hardwood floors underneath (Chris and I love wood floors, so to us, it's just stupid to cover up all that beauty!). We spent most of tonight ripping up the carpets throughout the house, and it's pretty ridiculous that now the house looks about 200% worse! hahaha Things just have to get worse-looking before they can get better, unfortunately.


I'm not sure how much I'll be on in the next two weeks....I might have time and I might not, between the house and school starting. I will definitely be posting pictures, so keep checking back! I love blogging and I promise, I will be back.

Have a great weekend, everyone!



P.S. Did you all see Michael Phelps's crazy win tonight?! I seriously got goosebumps. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Really Should Play the Lottery.....

.......because Chris and I are also going to be closing on our first house on Friday! Our loan came through and everything's all set now! We are so thrilled with this good news.

It is funny how my life usually tends to end up.....it's generally all-or-nothing, and this is definitely no exception. This house has given us a bumpy ride, but we are SO thankful that God chose to see it through for us and it really seems to be His plan, given all of the things that seemed to go wrong at first with excess paperwork and needing to fire our initial realtor (long story, but it was definitely merited).

Some of you know Liz P. from school, and she's home from teaching in Korea for only about 9 days before she heads back. I'm going to Staten Island tomorrow to visit her for the day, and we're also going to the Korean Consulate! I'm sure Consulates are actually very boring, but I'm excited to be in the inside of one! lol Oh, and to see Liz again. haha

My days of relaxation are quickly coming to an end.... :)


But I think I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I Got a Job!!!

It has been two years and three months since I graduated from school (wow, exactly three months), but yes, I FINALLY HAVE A CONTRACTED JOB!!!!! God is faithful!!!

I got the call this morning!!!!!!!! I finally get to do this! :) Even though I've taught music in a public school before, that was always a long-term sub position. It was mine, but not really. This is my classroom(s), my kids, my program, from the beginning of the school year 'til the end!

I am just...giddy with excitement. As my mom said, "This has been a long time coming!"

Praise the Lord!!

The high-school music teacher (who is super sweet) left me with her number the other day, so I called her back. She is going to take me on a tour of the campus (K-12 is on the same campus) and show me my classrooms and introduce me to the principals and let me ask her questions. :) Then on the 19th I go in with the other "new hires" and sign my contract and learn about the district, and then on the 26th, THE KIDS COME!! I can't wait!!!!

Thanks for praying! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

August 5, 2006................

I've been married for two years today! Craziness!


It's truly remarkable how much deeper my love for Chris has grown since our wedding day. We have both changed so much over the past two years of our lives.


I have more respect, admiration, and love for this man than ever before.


I am so blessed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Craaaaazy Times

Well, this is shaping up to be quite the week! On Thursday (our home phone had conveniently bit the dust Thursday morning) I received a call message from the superintendent of the school district that interviewed me two months ago. He said that there had been a job opening with two applicants, and I was one of the applicants (I didn't understand at first, either) and could I please call him back at the office or at home? Well, we hung out with one of our best friends from college on Thursday (and saw Get Smart, which was hilarious), and bought a new phone on the way home (late that night) and plugged it in when we got home.

Early the next morning, our new phone rings while I'm eating breakfast. It's the superintendent, asking if I got the message! I explained about the phone dying, and he proceeded to tell me that the position I had previously applied for was now open and that he wanted me to come in and have a second interview. He mentioned salary and how he could make me "very happy."

So, I went in for my intereview today. Of course I was terrified! :) My head knows that God is totally in control of this whole thing (after all, I had already put it out of my mind), but that didn't help the butterflies in my stomach. I think the interview went well, and he told me that the board members had all given me excellent ratings on my past interview and that he really liked me. He also told me the salary, which is lovely. At least in my opinion. For a teacher. :)


Unfortunately, my competition (lol) is interviewing again tomorrow, so I won't know their decision until sometime after that. So if you feel led to pray that she oversleeps her interview or decides not to show up or something, feel free. hahaha

But seriously, if you want to pray that God leads this man to give me the job, that would be much appreciated!!!

Oh, the other news: At 2:00 today, Chris is signing the new contract for the house we've been looking at. He's bringing it home, and I'll sign it tonight, and our realtor thinks Fannie Mae will be willing to close by August 19th!!!! I could be a homeowner in two weeks or less! Which would really be amazing, because I haven't shared a fraction of all the troubles we've had with the search for a house.

So, by the end of this week, I could have a brand-new house coming and a brand-new job to start!!!!!

(Or I could potentially have neither. Which would be a real mood-killer. lol)

I'll keep you "posted"!! (Aren't I hilarious?!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Recipe Time

My sister-in-law, Naomi (she doesn't have a blog, otherwise I'd link her!), found this recipe on allrecipes.com and let me say, it is fab. It is a lip-smackin' combination of the three best kinds of cookies: peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate-chip.

Here you go!

Peanut Butter Cookies IX

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips



DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Combine the flour, wheat flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the peanut butter mixture. Finally, mix in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.


3. Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.






Photo: A little crisp, due to my horrible oven, but still SO good!


Buon appetito!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Need Your Input!

1) My sister-in-law (and my father-in-law) are growing (what I consider to be, at least) a large garden this year. It is producing tons of string beans and yellow wax beans right now. Does anyone know how to make 3-bean salad (you see it a lot at picnics)? Or maybe you have Maggie Matz---'s recipe (I don't like to use last names on the internet), if you live in the area I grew up?

2)Has anyone read any good books lately? Christian or otherwise? I haven't read a good book in a while and am curious to see if anyone's read anything good.

Thanks! :)

New finds

A few websites I just discovered that I thought I'd share with you:

Kingdom First Mom: basically a hands-on money-saving blog

Days to Come: also a lot to do with finances (more things to do at home)

Also, one of my favorite bloggers is finally back but at a new location! Sparrow's Nest has moved to www.the-sparrows-nest.blogspot.com. Of course, I could be the only one on here who cares, but I think her house and family are so cute and I love reading her posts.


Enjoy!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pics are up

My Dominican pictures (four albums' worth!!) are all loaded on Facebook. Enjoy! I kinda explain most of the photos so you have some idea of what's going on in each of them. There were well over 200 so I couldn't actually post them all here. :)

I was in Connecticut from Thursday - Saturday just for a quick trip to spend time with my mom and sister (my Dad was working most of the time, unfortunately). It was so nice to have some girl time - watching Project Runway and Gilmore Girls episodes, going to Puffin (I'd never eaten there before and I loved it!!!), and shopping at the factory outlets. My sister left for NYC with her friends early on Saturday morning, but mom and I got a chance to go to a few yard sales (I didn't find anything, surprisingly) and then came home to have waffles and hang out with my dad. Friday night we all went out to eat with my grandparents, which was nice. My grandmother is still really having a hard time not being bitter and angry (the doctors are still not sure/not telling what killed my uncle and my grandparents are seriously considering getting a lawyer), so that was a little hard. She cried a little bit, too. Some of you know my grandparents so if you think of her, just pray for her, will you? Thanks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I Made a Craft! I Made a Craft!

Yes, that is definitely breaking news. I haven't done any kind of arts 'n' crafts since 7th grade, when beading your own necklaces was all the rage and everyone I knew toted their beads and fishing line around in plastic boxes (ah, but I digress ;).

Anyway, there are so many crafty women online that I have been inspired to start thinking outside the box when it comes to finding ways to decorate my home.

I was at Goodwill a month or two ago when I saw two shadowbox-type things - "whitewashed" wood frames, with some incredibly tacky dried flowers glued to the inside.



(In my hurry to rip them out I forgot to take a photo.)


The new, crafty part of my brain thought, "I can do something with those!"

So I brought them home, and they sat.

And sat.

Finally, I asked my sister-in-law to borrow her glue gun. I had never used a glue gun before, although my mom used one alllll the time when we were little because she used to enter craft shows and sell some really cute stuff. Apparently the crafty gene stopped with me. Ah, but I digress again. ;)


Anyway, I had a whole bunch of real-live sand dollars that I had picked on the beach last year during our vacation in Maine. For a whole year they had sat in storage. They are so intricately beautiful that I knew I wanted those in my shadowboxes (my bathroom's "theme" is the beach - not tacky bright blue and yellow beach, but creams and whites and seafoam green, and only shells and sea glass and sea pottery that I or my brother have found.)

So I arranged and re-arranged about a hundred times.







I glue-gunned the sand dollars and used duck tape to hold the back together. The Nester would be oh-so-proud. I had a blast.






Then my darling husband told me he didn't want to make two more nail marks in the bathroom, since we're leaving our apartment in about a month.

So for the next month or so, they'll just rest on my window table, where I can stare at their beachy wholesomeness while I watch tv. :)





Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I need a mental vacation......

Ahhh! I'm so sorry about my poopy posting. It's just that every time I have logged on with the intention of posting, I get so distracted and caught up with all of the other stuff online that I missed over my 10-day absence that by the time I even think about posting on my own blog, I am way too tired to come up with anything to write. I'm really starting to think about timing myself on the internet, like some of you have mentioned that you do. I just feeling like I'm missing so much if I don't read everything! I always start out with Money Saving Mom (because I don't want to miss any money-saving tips), and then I end up following her blog to coupon sites or other blogs, and then there's my several e-mail accounts, facebook, friends' blogs.......the list goes on. My brain just gets on information overload, I guess! For those of you who time yourself each day, do you find that it's satisfying or stressful (meaning, are you okay with stopping your time on the internet, or do you feel like you need lots more time?)

Please understand that I know in the scheme of life, "internet time" is not really a crisis of global proportions. But it is something that I would like advice on, if you're willing to give it!


I'm also sorry about not posting pictures yet - I still feel like my life has not yet bounced back from this trip! I have been sleeping 9-10 hours every night since we got back (we averaged about 7 or less while we were down there, and now my body cannot get enough sleep), plus my stomach has been rebelling against eating American food again. I finally went and got my pictures developed yesterday (it cost me $45, can you believe it?!!!!!), and created an adorable little 6x8 photo book of our trip at CVS that is free after ExtraBucks (try it this week! it's so fun and easy). I promise pictures are coming sometime soon!!

It's just that my head still feels like it's swimming - the other day I put spices in the fridge and then looked for them for 10 minutes until I realized what I had done. So please bear with me! :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm Baaaaaaack!

Oh my goodness, I do not even know where to start! To say that our week in the DR was amazing would be selling it short. It was just....so fantastic! Meeting people from Chris's past, experiencing the Dominican culture, taking communion with brothers and sisters in Christ in a Spanish-only church, starting with pieces of wood and nails and constructing a chapel by the end of the week, leading children's songs in Spanish and playing with village children.....it was seriously indescribable. We got back really late on Wednesday night and I am still trying to sort through all of the laundry piles - I've done 7 loads so far, but who's counting? - and start up our life here again. Oh the stories I have for all of you! And I promise I will post pictures.

But first, I need to continue to waddle through the mess of laundry and luggage that is still our apartment.

I can't thank you enough for praying!

Monday, June 30, 2008

First of all, I just want to thank everybody who showed support for me and my family either through e-mails, cards, messages, or coming to my uncle's wake. It was definitely one of the worst weeks of my life, but the body of Christ is definitely an amazing thing. Example: a man from my church handed Chris an envelope on Wednesday night with a Bible verse and $100 inside to cover our travel expenses - not from him, from someone else who wanted to remain anonymous! It was definitely a small glimpse of God's provision in the midst of a horrible time, and I'm really thankful for whoever that was - you know who you are! :)

Anyway, some of you already know that Chris and I are leaving in an hour and a half (!!!) for the Dominican Republic with the team from our church. It has been a ridiculously crazy week - house inspections, my uncle's sudden death, travel to Connecticut, taking my final and test 3 for class today....and oh yeah, leaving the country. But seriously, I am SO excited for this trip. I am really glad to be away from sadness for a while, and to be able to concentrate on other people's needs. I think it will be very healing.

Be back in 12 days or so..........

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Friends,

My heart is very heavy today. Some of you already know from Facebook that my Uncle Jason, my dad's youngest brother, died suddenly this morning. It was very, very fast. He was admitted to the hospital early yesterday morning and quickly became deathly ill. He already had lupus, and something else complicated matters - they're not sure if he contracted bacterial meningitis or some other deadly bacterium, because it takes days for cultures to grow in a lab and they can't tell yet. His organs shut down and his blood became toxic and a lot of other things too horrible to have to write out let alone live through.

He died this morning at 4:30 am. He is only 35 years old. He was married, and had two kids - Ava, 5, and Jake, 2. He was not a Christian.

I know that people always "perfect" those who pass away in their minds, but my Uncle Jason really and truly was one of those great people that you were so happy to know. He was hilarious and was always, always making you laugh. He was a total goof-ball. He was a social worker in inner-city New Haven, working with kids on probation and helping them to get their lives back on track. He was an amazing Dad to his kids. Last time I saw him was when I was in Connecticut and he had come up to visit with Jake and Ava. Ava sat on his lap and he was telling us all about her little boyfriend and school and he was teasing her and she was laughing. He told us the different activities she does every day at school and big things coming up for her (things a lot of moms know, but not dads). He had such a zest for living. He was an incredible, mouth-watering, self-taught cook. He was always so sweet and kind and loving and happy and good.

We prayed so hard for a miracle, and God chose not to give us one. I don't even know the words to describe the emotions I feel right now besides total devastation and heartache and sadness. My cousins have no dad, my aunt has no husband, my family has no Uncle Jason anymore! I honestly keep trying to picture the world without him in it, and I just can't. I can't. I can't believe he's never coming back.

My uncle knew about Jesus, and I am thankful that he knew he could die before they put him in a drug-induced coma....only so that maybe he would have cried out to God in his point of weakness, even though he couldn't speak at that point. It's not really possible for me to believe at this point that he could be in eternity without Jesus. That's way too overwhelming for me right now.

I'm not asking you to pray; I need you to pray. There will be a memorial service in the area that my parents live on Wednesday, then a wake and a funeral down toward New Haven on Thursday night and Friday. A lot of you do know us personally, and I need you to pray for my extended family - all of whom are unsaved. I need you to pray that God gives us immense grace as we look for ways to share Jesus again with our family if they are open to it. I need you to pray for my Dad and brother, especially. They're really not doing so well.

If anyone happens to read this who does not know Jesus, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to talk to you about the life and joy and peace that can be found in knowing Him.


Thank you, dear friends.
The prayers of the righteous can accomplish many things! - James
Jessica

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Accepted Offer!

Well, we finally got an accepted offer! They accepted yesterday and we signed more paperwork last night. We have our inspection Tuesday night - which is the part that I'm really scared about (where things broke down for us last time, remember?). At least things are finally moving! Thank you God! :)

We're off to buy a new camera today for our trip to the D.R. Mine is from 2004 and is basically a great-great-grandpa in the camera world. Isn't it crazy that a four-year-old camera is considered ancient in the technology world? lol Anyway, those of you who know my brother know that he is an amazing photographer, so I called him this morning to ask his advice. He said that Sony makes really good cameras in the $250 and under range, so I think that's what I'm going to set out to look for. Does anyone have a camera that they love/hate? I'm not sure I'll actually purchase one today, so I'm open to suggestions!

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sweet summertime

Well, sorry about the lack of recent updates this week! We have been having a lot of house drama - too much to list here - and I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that we are still waiting on the bank to accept/reject our counteroffer so that we can hurry up and get our inspections done before our 10-day time limit is up. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the time we will be in this country is quickly drawing to a close. We leave for our 10-day trip in the Dominican Republic on June 30th. Technically, we have internet in the mission dormitories, but I really just wanted to be completely focused on this trip and the people I was serving and not be stressed out everyday about the house.



So if anyone from Fannie Mae is reading this, could ya hurry my house along?!



Thanks.




Anyway, I did get to go strawberry picking on Friday, and it was great! I got nine pounds of strawberries, and only have about two cups left. Yes, we love us some strawberries up in these parts. ;)



Two of my favorite things to do with this most delicious of all fruits:


Strawberry "shortcake" (on biscuits is the way I really make it):










And strawberry jam.....(disregard the clutter on my counter - everything once again had to be pushed back from the wall since we found more ants last night! ahh)






The thing about jam: my sister-in-law and I made freezer jam on Saturday, and it really, really is SO easy. Anyone can do it. Freezer jam doesn't require any kind of special seals or boiling. And it is soooooooooooooo good. You will want to eat it plain. By the spoonful. Trust me on this.




Hope you're enjoying warmer weather and strawberries and sunshine and all of that good stuff that June brings. ;)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tonight we put an offer in on house number two!!! Here's hoping! :)

Oh and I got a 101 on my first test in my math class! Good day, good day!

Thanks for the tip, Mary! I guess I would need to get an egg slicer first though (and thanks for that hint about the dishwasher...did you all read that?). Another thing to keep my eye open for at yard sales....lol as if I need another excuse to go....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

*Sigh*

I was saddened today to realize that a fellow blogger had copied one of my blog ideas only a day after I originally posted. This is not the first time she has done this. She's not a regular commenter or anything, but I knew that she read my blog and vice versa. She's not anyone I know in real life, but she does profess to be a Christian.

She has recently been writing about/asking others for new ideas for her blog, saying that she was fresh out. I guess I'm mostly disappointed because she has a ton of readers, and I have...well, not a ton :)...and maybe she has figured that since so few people read my blog, no one would realize she was copying my thoughts almost exactly?

I e-mailed her today about it. Because even though we live in this virtual world, as Christians we are supposed to admonish one other when someone has done something unpleasing to God. I was very kind - not rude at all, although I wanted to be! haha


I've just always hated when people condescendingly say, "Copying is the sincerest form of flattery."

No, actually, it isn't.

It's unethical, lame, and just plain rude.

*Whew* Okay, had to get that off my chest!



In other news, has anyone gone strawberry picking yet? I've been waiting for about 3 months now and I think I'm going to go this Friday, since I don't have class. My mouth is dying to taste strawberry shortcake again. Does anyone have a great strawberry recipe? Please share!

Monday, June 9, 2008

[new to me] Good Things

I have two things I wanted to share with all of you today.


First, this amazing book, which I discovered at our local library:








This woman is seriously a genius when it comes to organization. And it's not your usual lame tips like, "Have a way to sort your laundry." :) She is hard-core about home organization, and offers a lot of tips that I never even thought about - just little things that make you think, "duh!".



For instance, one of her little ideas is to designate certain areas of your dishwasher's silverware holders for certain silverware. Rather than having spoons, knives, and forks scattered in each little holder, put only like silverware next to each other. You can grab it in a bunch rather than spend 5 minutes picking each fork out of the holder, then the spoons, etc. Of course, I don't have a dishwasher right now, but hopefully that tip will help all of you fancy people out there who are lucky enouch to have this most basic machine that every woman in 2008 deserves to have to save hours of unnecessary work every day machine in your kitchen.


She covers a ton more stuff in her book....most of it really easy stuff like that, but stuff that really makes sense.


She even inspired me to organize and label the shelves of my closet.













I realized that I was buying duplicates of an item (like lightbulbs, for instance) because I didn't know they were already in my hall closet. I realize this list makes me seem OCD, but this is my only closet (yes, you read that right - I don't even have a clothes closet. Yes, you have permission to feel bad for me.) and I really wanted it to be organized. In all honesty, I actually had fun doing it (gasp!).



The second [new to me] item is this website: http://thepioneerwoman.com/. I just discovered her today, but boy-oh-boy am I excited. This woman gives step-by-step pictures of all of her recipes, and ohmygoodness do they look amazing!



Be inspired! Have a wonderful day. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Update on the Ants

Well, the ants aren't gone. Yesterday I did kill about 45 (literally) within about 3-4 hours.

It. was. not. a. good. day.

My husband may or may not have gotten some desperate voicemails.

Anyway, I sealed, I killed, I sprayed, I doused papertowels in rubbing alcohol where there was a big gap between the carpet and wall (hard to describe). I bought some ant spikes and put them outside. I killed more ants. I started to feel like I was going nutso.

Chris came home and poured gasoline over the line of hundreds (literally - no exaggeration) of icky black ants walking in a line across the driveway into the corner of our bedroom wall.

That made me smile.

Has my landlord done ANYTHING yet?

Nope.

God bless my friend Lindsay, who offered to let me come over tomorrow, since I don't have class, to watch Friends and escape my house. Friends and a place of escape. Now that's true friendship. ;)

(By the way, Mary, I'm taking a 3-credit math class for the entire month of June to satisfy the 6-credits of math required by PA for me to be a music teacher and/or subsitute teacher next year. You don't even want to get me started on their logic for that!)

Thanks for sharing your stories, you guys! It really makes me feel better to know you guys have dealt with this, too. I keep telling myself it could be worse.



It could be spiders.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Ants Come Marching Into My House, Boo Hoo, Boo Hoo

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I feel as though my LIFE is being over-run by these insects!! I'm literally on the verge of heart palpitations, I kid you not. We discovered itty bitty ants about 2 or so weeks ago in our kitchen - I had labored for hours over a hot stove (no really, I did) to make two beautiful apple pie tarts, left them cool on the counter, and came home to find them swarming with ants. Dis.gust.ing. So, we borrowed some Terro ant killer from my mother-in-law (once we realized where they were coming in), and they have all but died off. Still a few every now and then, but they go straight to the Terro and then leave. Okay. *Sigh of relief*. I can deal with that.

But.

Last night, we discovered carpenter ants in the bathroom. Waaaay worse (in my opinion, anyway). They move like 80 million times faster, and I swear, these things have 9 lives. You can whack them with your husband's Adidas sandal like, 12 times (hypothetically, of course), and they will not die. It's like they enjoy testing you or something. Or the more likely conclusion that I've decided on: they want to ruin my life and make me paranoid.

Well, DH and I spent about 45 minutes last night sealing off - with duct tape; classy, right? - every possible hole they could be entering. We live in a basement apartment, and saw some coming out of some holes and some other ones coming out of a hole in the dryer pipe/vent. DH sprayed Kilz for good measure, and then we turned the empty dryer on high to teach those mean ants a lesson.

Except.

This morning Chris and I found one in the kitchen, which totally thwarted all of our ideas about entry. Chris told me it was probably just a renegade ant from last night.

Except.


I came home from class (have I mentioned I'm taking a class yet?) and saw 2 in the kitchen, and 5 in the bathroom. One ant was even carrying another ant! The nerve.

Of course, if this were my own home, I would have called an exterminator (or at least some ant killer!) first thing this morning. Except....it isn't. Chris called our landlord last night and then again this morning after I called to tell him I'd found more. (In all honesty, while they're just horribly annoying to us, they really could be eating the inside of his house - apparently these are the house-eating ants.)

Meanwhile, the ants are free to terrorize me. Which means I want to cry.

If anything happens, I will let you know.

As for me, I'll be looking at ceilings, floors, and walls anxiously for the rest of today, feeling like a crazy person.

And wishing I was as cute as Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thank you soooooo very much

Well, it really went pretty well over all! I was interviewed by two board members, the superintendent, the high school music teacher, and the elementary music teacher (whose job I would be taking).  They all sat on one side of the 20-foot long board room table, and little old me all by myself on the other.  Talk about a scare tactic! lol The superintendent told me I was enthusiastic and sure of myself, and that he liked that in a person.  Bombshell of the evening: I had to sing and play the piano for them!!!! Can you believe it?! I mean, I see their point, but I was NOT expecting that at ALL.  Thankfully, the song they picked for me was quite easy, and then the el. teacher accompanied me as I sang "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music (she picked it out for me, since I totally blanked when they asked me what song I wanted to sing  - I mean, really!) .  They clapped afterwards.  It was really quite cute, although totally nerve-wracking.  

SO, that was my story, in a nutshell.  The whole thing only took about 30 minutes, and of course I came home early from visiting my family in CT to rush around, updating my portfolio, and do you think they even asked to see it?  Of course not.  

Well, at least it's ready for next time.  haha

Thanks for praying! You guys are the best! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Butterflies in my stomach....

Tonight at 6 I have my first-ever public school music job interview. I am terrified. I fully realize that if this job isn't meant to be, it isn't meant to be, and I have peace with that part of it. I'm just more terrified about the interview itself. I mean, all I know is that it's in the board room. Does that mean the whole school board interviews me? Or just the superintendent? What kinds of questions will they ask? Will my portfolio be up to par with others'? Ahhhhhhhh! :)


So, if you think of me today or tonight, will you please pray? I already feel kinda sick to my stomach, and I'm hoping that when I go to work (last day at CB today!) my mind will at least be occupied with something else.

I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Music to Your Ears

I just added a playlist (see below), since apparently it's what all the cool kids are doing. Haha ;)

It's just a random sampling of some of my favorite songs, and I'm sure I'll be adding and taking away as time goes on. I set it so that it won't automatically play unless you chose it to, which should help those of you without hi-speed internet (like me). *Sigh*

Enjoy!

How Ironic

Yesterday I got a call from a superintendent in our area saying that I will be receiving a letter in the near future that details the times I can come in to interview for the music teacher position I applied for. (!)

I would very much like this job - we could definitely use the money, and it would probably be my last hurrah of teaching for oh, a few decades or so. ;)

Would you pray that I get it, if God wants me to? Thanks.





P.S. In my post yesterday, I was in no way implying that I would look down on anyone who works full-time and has kids (hopefully all of you know me well enough to know that!) I was merely commenting about how my own views had changed about the way my life was going to be. I certainly don't have all of this stuff figured out yet. :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Funny How Time Changes You...

I'm not working today, as there was no call for subs (I even called and asked - nothing). I secretly love these days off. I love being able to wake up and make my own schedule for the day, bake if I want to, clean the house a little bit more than normal, and run any errands that need to be done.





Even just a year or so ago I was considering teaching even when I had kids, or thinking about a variety of options so that I would be able to do it all - stay home a little with my kids, yet still be able to do my dream job (that was assuming I would get a high-school music position). But I can honestly say now that the desires of my heart have changed. A few years ago I would have bristled at the statement I'm going to make, but I can honestly say that all I want to do is stay home, take care of my house, and raise children (and eventually homeschool them, at least for a few years).




It was the quasi-feminist in me that felt the idea of staying home and only being a "homemaker" was so oppressive. I had talent! I was a good teacher! I wanted to be fulfilled by taking part in the career I thought would make me happy. Staying at home was so blah to me. All day? Every day? No thanks.



Maybe it is partially my husband's doing that my thoughts have changed about all of this. He would love to have me be able to stay home (part of the reason he is starting his online business). He is never negative about it when I don't get a subbing job - only genuinely happy that I got stay home and get things accomplished. I always thought this would make me feel second-class, but it really and truly doesn't. Making my home a comfortable and lovely place to be - whether that is via my attitude, the decor in my house, or the things I concoct in the kitchen - brings me such joy that I never thought would be possible before.






Do I miss teaching music a little bit sometimes? Of course. Do I wish that I was teaching high-school chorus right now? Absolutely. But given the option between the two? Well, I guess you could say that my heart is leading me home.


So for now, I'll continue to work. We still want to buy a house, and since I can earn money now, I will. But when the time comes for us to start our family, I'll be very much looking forward to it.
(Photos: "We're wild about music!"- one of my bulletin boards in my K-2 classroom last year -the stars on the left are for the bulletin board next to it; leading my 5th-grade Select Chorus in our Grease mini-musical for the Relay for Life cancer event; leading the entire 5th grade in their Grease program - singing "We Go Together"; and me with some of my awesome 5th grade kids. Check out my hair - that is post-program-sweaty-music-teacher frizz for you!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So sorry about the lack of posts lately. This is usually what happens: I come home from work, and by the time I make dinner, clean up, do some housework (or, as in the case of today, come home from work completely exhausted and eat leftovers and do absolutely nothing besides take a shower), that all I want to do is vegetate in front of the computer and read people's blogs. (By the way, I really do read all of your blogs [I mean those of you lovely people who comment on here], as well as a bunch of other blogs that I lovingly stalk [i.e., I read all about their life everyday and could probably write a paper about the person even though said person and I have never met. I can't help it if someone is that interesting!].)

But by the time I have relaxed and caught up on everyone else's life, I'm usually too tuckered out to write anything on my own blog. At least, that has been the case for the past week or so.

Anyway, I promise to write something interesting soon. Really. I do. So just bear with me, okay?

And thanks to those who encouraged me with Curves. I love it. :) The comments and Curves, that is. ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm Ready to Roll....

So, I have gained a ton of weight since my wedding 21 months ago. I mean, it's shocking. Like seriously. We're not talking less than 10 pounds, here. I mean, so-much-it's-too-embarassing-for-the-internet-to-behold.

All growing up, I was pretty thin. Weight? Never really an issue. But around my sophomore year in college, things started to change... namely, my metabolism and body weight. I was able to take off 17 pounds for my wedding in August '06, and was able to keep most of it off until maybe January or so.

Then the you-know-what hit the fan. Or so they say ;)

Anyway, through a series of events, including reading a random blog, talking to my mom, and thinking a lot about the subject, I have decided to join Curves (yes, I know, now I really sound like a grandma. Oh well). I tried Curves a few months ago when they had a free fitness study, and I lost 6 pounds in 3 weeks, without dieting. But it was November, Chris was laid off and in grad school at the time, and Christmas was coming and money was so tight. So I didn't join.

I kept telling myself I'd work out when the spring came, since I am now blessed with the metabolism of......a warthog. Well, spring is here. Have I been motivated to just go out and jog? Ummmm, NO. (Honestly, I will never understand the mind of people who can just pop out of bed at 5:30 and jog a few miles. I'd rather be chubby and stay in bed, thanks.)

I kept thinking about joining again, but we're trying to be extra careful with our money in order to continue to save for the down payment on a house.

But over the weekend, I finally realized that money shouldn't be in the way of me feeling confident and healthy about my body.

So, I went back on Monday, and joined.

And it is so refreshing!

I love how Curves is real women - granted, the majority of them (except maybe my 30-year-old sister-in-law and a few others) were born 20-40 years before me. But I love going there and not feeling like an ogre just because I don't have fake boobs and work out in a sports bra and wear little tight shorts with writing on my butt. You know what I mean?

I'm not aiming for my high-school weight again; just a healthy weight that I think would suit this stage of my life. I have a loooong way to go, but boy am I pumped! Can I just encourage you to make a similar choice, if you've been considering it? Thankfully, Chris was totally supportive. (Plus, he's had a full-time job again for the past several months.) The money will work itself out. (And providentially, the owner gave me a great discount on the registration fee, even though I technically "didn't qualify" for any of the current promotions.)

Our bodies are worth it!
Here's to being healthy and confident again!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm in CT for a few days visiting my family....be back on Monday or Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

2 Fun Things to do with Zucchini

Yes, I am very aware that the title of this post makes me sound like an 85-year old grandma from the depression years.

However! (and yes, I'm smiling over here in front of my laptop), since I believe firmly that good news should be shared, I am sharing two of my favorite recipes that utilize this lovely green vegetable.

Numero Uno:
I learned this one from my mama, who (although actually Irish) married an Italian and therefore learned to cook exceptionally well with olive oil and garlic:

- Chop up zucchini, summer squash, and a red pepper into various sizes and shapes
- Saute with olive oil and salt until slightly tender
- Add several teaspoons of garlic and saute for a minute or two longer (because burnt garlic is truly wretched)
- If you don't have red pepper, subsitute crushed red pepper for a punch of color and a little zing
*my addition

Buon appetito!

I can honestly say that my darling husband LOVES when I make this. This coming from a man who used to eat iceberg lettuce with cucumbers and croutons and French dressing and truly believed that was a magnanimous concession on his part in the way of vegetables. We've come a long way, baby.

Numero Dos:
If you've never tried these before, don't groan. These are truly amazing. You will notice tiny bits of green, but honestly, I think I actually might possibly like these even better than real brownies. Try them and see. If you do end up thinking they're gross (which will never happen, but still!), console yourself with the fact that you made your colon happy with the extra fiber. ;)

Zucchini brownies (from Allrecipes.com)

1/2 C vegetable oil
1 1/2 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C zucchini, shredded
chocolate chips, as desired *my addition

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 13x9 pan. Mix first 3 ingredients until well blended. Mix next four ingredients in separate bowl. Stir into sugar mixture. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Tonight, I had planned on using zucchini with dinner, but quickly realized that I was going to have two much. So I kept 2 C zucchini out for the brownies, which I'll make either tonight or tomorrow. No waste and two great recipes! Aren't I fancy?

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

So...

If I walked to the ice cream shop last night with Chris, does that count as exercise?

What about if it was soft serve?


Juuuuuust checking.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

CVS: Real-Life Example

Okay - I had a great day at CVS yesterday, and you can, too!

This is what I got:




  • 3 rolls of CVS paper towels ($.99 each; Buy 2 CVS products, Get One Free in May)
  • 1 Chapstick 100% Natural chapstick ($2.99; gave 1 ECB back)
  • 1 Adidas deoderant ($4.99; gave 4.99 ECB back)
  • 1 Colgate 360 toothbrush ($3.99; gave 3.99 ECB back)
  • 1 Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste ($2.99; gave 2.99 ECB back)
  • 1 Aquafresh Advanced Whitening toothpaste ($2.99; gave 2.99 ECB back)

Here's what I used:

  • $1.50/1 Aquafresh Premium toothpaste coupon
  • $1.00/1 Aquafresh Advanced Whitening coupon
  • $1.00/1 Colgate 360 toothbrush coupon
  • $3/$15 CVS purchase coupon (see post below)
  • $12.98 in Extra Care Bucks

Here's what I paid:

  • $.45

Here's what I was given:

  • 15.96 in ECB

Here's what I'll soon get:

  • $4.99 check (mailed to me) from the makers of the Adidas deoderant (I had a coupon for a free deoderant from the newspaper a couple of weeks ago)

Today's newspaper's SmartSource insert has two coupons you can use on the toothpaste deals. Go to CVS and pick up one Aquafresh Advanced Whitening toothpaste and one Extreme Clean toothpaste. You will spend $3.48 for the two tubes, and you will receive $6 to spend at the store next week!

This could be the start of something really beautiful.

;)

Friday, May 2, 2008

How to Make $18 in Less Than 20 Minutes

Every so often , CVS will release coupons that take a total off of your purchase price. For those of you who have said you're interested in what I do at CVS (basically getting all of my toiletries for free or next-to-nothing!), let me suggest that you take advantage of this offer. You can print out as many $3/$15 purchase coupons as you want if you follow the directions here. Yes, it does take a little bit of effort, but it truly is as though CVS is putting money in your pocket. I printed out six, and so for the next six times I travel to CVS, I can "spend" $12 (with ECB, of course!) and get three dollars to use on something else in the store - kleenex, eggs, candy, toothpaste, you name it! A little time in front of the computer equals $18 I didn't have to spend out of my own pocket. If you have any questions about how to access it, feel free to ask me! I will say that I followed Crystal's directions exactly and I was able to access it.



Speaking of CVS, here is an example of some of my purchases recently:


This purchase cost me absolutely nothing. Usually that doesn't happen, because of taxes, but that day it did. YAY! I had a coupon for the body wash and the dish detergent. The three beauty products cost $6 but gave $5 in return. The body wash also gave $4.99 back. It was a while ago, so I don't remember a lot of the details. April was a great month for body wash and beauty supplies.



I made this purchase on Monday:


I got three gift bags (with their own tissue paper!), four bottles of dish detergent, and two bottles of CVS Pharmacy-brand Tylenol.

  • The gift bags cost $4.50 for three (but gave $5 ECB back)
  • I had a coupon for the dish detergent ($1/2), and they were BOGO free
  • The Tylenols were $3.99 each but gave $3.99 in ECB back.
I used my $3/$15 coupon, the last of my ECB (I usually roll them over but had used them on some more expensive, non-ECB returning items, like sunscreen for Chris and Jergen's Natural Glow face moisturizer for me, so I was down to only $10.98 in ECB). I had to pay $3.25 OOP this time, but I received $12.98 in ECB back.



So, next time I shop, I can get $15.98 worth of items absolutely free, using my ECB and my $3/$15 purchase.



Let me encourage you to travel over to Crystal's blog today and check out the monthly deals for May at CVS. Notice all of the items that are "free" at CVS AND have a coupon from a newspaper that would apply to them, too. That's how you can make the most out of your CVS purchasing - for instance, when you buy an item that costs $3.99 and gives $3.99 in ECB back, using a $1 coupon lets you get that item for free plus another dollar item, such as a box of kleenex.



And if it eases your mind a little, my paper printed today that CVS's profits were up this year by several million dollars! So get out there and shop! :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

You all are just lovely - thank you SO much for all of your encouragement! Chris and I spent about an hour and a half today driving around looking at houses, and getting out and looking at a few unoccupied ones. We definitely still have houses on the brain. Somewhere out there is the perfect first home for us (at least that's what I keep telling myself over and over when I start to get depressed about it again!).

If I have learned anything from this, it's a) a thorough home inspection (even though it's pricey) is SO worth the investment, and b) get the appraisal after you get the home inspection. Why pay money to find out the worth of a home you're not going to buy, anyway? Because this house was a foreclosure, we had a very short timeline to work with. But in the future, if we can delay the appraisal, we will.

I know that you guys live scattered across the country, but here in Northeast PA we're having some fabulous weather! Chris and I are going mini-golfing tonight - and I'm going to a big flea market early tomorrow morning before church with my friend Lindsay (I'm thrilled!). Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Something Happy, Something Sad

I'm baaaa-ack! :) I have a lingering hacky cough with some congestion, and I think today I sprained a muscle coughing (no joke) because I'm in a lot of pain on my right side. STILL, I am a normal, functioning, non-streppy throat human being again! Hooray!

So as you can see from the title, I do have some sad news. We had the inspection on the house today, and it did NOT go well. I mean, there are a LOT of problems with the house that we just simply couldn't see without the trained eyes of a professional. Mold in the attic, multiple pests (including mice!), serious foundation issues, plumbing issues, serious sewage issues....I could go on. For a house that looked like it was well-taken care of, those two guys helped us see a lot of issues and helped us to realize that this house would be a money pit. When all is said and done, you can't truly fix a house that's on a bad foundation - you can only put a band-aid on it. We are still waiting for his official report, but it's pretty much a no-go.

So, besides being out about $625 dollars (between inspections and paying for a professional appraisal, which we needed to get our mortgage), it also hurts emotionally. I know that sounds corny, but I had already moved myself into that house, you know? I was planning parties there, decorating, landscaping, all in my mind. It was pretty devastating to stand there and hear all the things they were saying about my house.

Except it isn't my house, thankfully.

Although I have cried a LOT over this house today, at the end of today what I mostly feel is relief. Sure, I'm gonna miss that money, but we can make it back.

But praise God, I am not going to be throwing thousands and thousands of dollars away on a home that I know now would never truly be fixed.

It's still pretty depressing, but not a black-hole kinda depression. It's weird to feel regret, sadness, disappointment, and relief all in one big package.

---

But, since I promised something sad and something happy, here is a little treat that got me through all those strep-throaty days that I wanted to share with you all. Maybe it will cheer YOU up!




I modified this from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook:
  • 1 6 oz. cup of Dannon Light 'n' Fit Vanilla yogurt (so good!)
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 3/4 C frozen blueberries
  • a splash of whole milk (count to 3 - lol!)

Blend and top with whipped cream. Makes 2 servings. De. Lish.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's official! I have strep. First time in my life, in fact.

So now I can literally say that subbing is going to kill me.

Ha. Ha.

A little sick-bed humor.

I am now on amoxicillin for the second time in less than 30 days.

That's right, folks.

I am a pharmacist's dream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two things:

I am home sick today, rather than subbing for high school choir. There was no way my shell-of-a-voice was going to be heard over a choir of 50+ in an auditorium. I'm pretty sure I might have strep throat. Except that I've never actually had strep throat, but I do know that my speaking capacity has diminished and that I feel that my air hole is tightening due to the feeling of a large mass inside my trachea. And.....did I mention that it's agonizing to swallow, and my head hurts, and I'm very tired? YAY!

This site is alleviating my boredom, giving me something to do in-between my long naps on the couch. I discovered her a few weeks ago, and I simply can't get enough of her recipes, house decorations, and adorably cute sons. Enjoy!
Funny how I have been a Christian for nearly four-fifths of my life, and yet sometimes I am hit with the simplest of all ideas about my faith.

As I have written on here before, I substitute now, and it is usually no picnic. I consider myself to normally have very good classroom control, but when you are in a room full of adolescents who know that you're not 100% sure of what you're doing (even though you're acting your darnest, and can usually fool them!), it gets a little exasperating day after day. The boredom, the not knowing anyone's name, etc.

And so usually, I offer up tiny little snippets of prayer throughout the day. "Oh Lord, let me get through this. Let me have a good day. Please! "

On Monday morning, it dawned on me.....um, hi! Praying for myself all this time? What is wrong with me?!

On Monday, I prayed this: "Lord, please let me just bless at least one child today. Amen."

The day becomes an adventure. How many kids can I smile at? How many can I be extra-kind to? How many can I offer a compassionate word to?

It wasn't that I didn't do all of those things already. In fact, I think most teachers do, too. After all, you don't go into teaching because you hate children. It's just that they weren't intentional. I know what you're thinking: "Isn't intentional worse? Doesn't that mean that somehow you're faking?"

No. It means that rather than "be myself" and pray that I have a "good" day, the Lord and I are going to make a good day, rather than having the good day make me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I really and truly have not forgotten about my little blog; I am getting sick (again -in less than a month!) and have been feeling wretched, plus I'm trying to work as much as possible, like picking up weekend shifts, to save up for the house. Which, by the way, we signed papers saying we agreed with the bank's offer, and now we're just waiting for all sorts of very expensive inspections. SO. I will write something more fascinating on here sometime very soon. In fact, sometime this week. Promise.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I think it's sufficient to say that I am basically obsessed with yard-saling (doesn't that word look ridiculous?) I'm not sure why, but somewhere in my genetic make-up I have been programmed to get a rush of adrenaline and a large dose of whatever-it-is-that-puts-you-in-a-good-mood (epinephrine?) when I see those magical words on a (usually) bright neon sign. It calls my name.....piles and piles of junk delights, and who KNOWS what you will find?! What's not to love?!

Tomorrow I'm going to a church rummage sale (I went to one last weekend, also). Every other morning it is a struggle to get out of bed, but when my alarm goes off on a yard-sale day, Bam!, I'm off and running - and there's no turning back. If I get anything good, I just might have to show ya tomorrow. ;)




*The house saga: the bank gave us their final offer today! $8,400 less than their original, but $13,500 above what we had counter-offered at! Ahhhh!! Where's my fleece when I need it? Gideon had it so good......

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Update on la casa

We put the offer in, and they counter-offered with a price $900 less than their asking price. We resubmitted our offer, this time $3,000 higher. Chris said we're going to keep playing this game until we "meet" or until they tell us they have a final offer. I agree with him now. I mean, why not? They're a bank, and we really don't have anything to lose besides money! ;) Tonight we went to the house again with one of our realtors and Chris's oldest brother, who is a contractor (and built his own house), so he could look at the house from a technical perspective. He said it looked good. (Of course, we still have to have a licensed inspector come to check out stuff like mold, pests, etc.) We are waiting to hear about another counter-offer from the bank, hopefully tomorrow! Being there again tonight only made me want it even more! It isn't extravagant or expensive. It will be a great starter home for a few years and it will get us out of our apartment we're in right now, which has had some very serious problems with mold (read: unhealthy!!!!!!) this year. I just keep praying!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shake What Your Mama Gave Ya......Or Something Like That....

This post is all about using what you've got....in the kitchen. lol ;) I blogged a few weeks ago about how hard I was trying to not let any food go to waste - even produce - and I have to say, it's been almost fun to be really creative with what I have on hand. I figured I would give a few examples of things that I've done recently, hopefully to encourage you to do the same!

Lettuce - Okay, so I get reaaaaally grossed-out by wilty, brown lettuce. But have you ever noticed that lettuce usually browns on the "thick" part first, and the leaves last? I had about 1/2 bag of lettuce starting to get icky the other day - and was about to chuck it before I remembered: "Tostada Pizza!" This is a Mexican-inspired recipe (duh, Jess) from my BH&G cookbook that requires shredded lettuce on top. I had the rest of the ingredients, so Voila! I ripped off the perfectly good and crunchy leaves, chucking only the brown "thick" parts. (Seriously, what is that part called?!)

Blueberries and Bananas - I have a great muffin recipe that needs 3 very ripe bananas. Usually when I buy a bunch of bananas, for some tremendously mysterious reason, one is always left for days. Now I've started to purposely do this - adding one brown banana at a time to my freezer. When I have 3, I pull them out to defrost and make some muffins. My favorite blueberry muffin recipe (also from BH&G) only uses 3/4 C berries - perfect for that last little bit left in the bag.

Assorted produce/deli items - One of my favorite things to eat (all year round) is a pasta salad. I have found this to be a great dumping ground for tiny bits of left-over veggies. (I'm not a big fan of vegetable soup.) I've chopped up broccoli, peppers, cukes, even small pieces of carrots! Those small cuts of cheese left from a block can be cut into blocks and thrown in - so can leftover pepperoni or ham. Half a box of leftover pasta, a little Italian dressing, and some parmesan cheese, and you're good to go!

Ice cream - when you're left with a little bit of ice cream in your freezer, scoop it out and throw it in the blender with some milk! My mom used to do this all the time growing up to make more freezer room, and we loved it. I have yet to do it with my new blender, but it's a fun idea.

Just a few ideas to get those creative juices flowing! Hope this is a little inspiring for you guys! :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

butterflies in my stomach....

Edit: We put our offer in last night - it took almost THREE hours, ugh! - and were pleasantly surprised at how upbeat and encouraging our realtors were, considering that we offered $18,900 less than the asking price! It was an insane amount of paperwork, and we're nearly 100% positive that we'll have to put in another offer once the bank counter-offers, but thankfully it's only minor corrections each time the price changes. I will keep you posted!!!


...so i think i mentioned last week that we were trying to get into a house. well, we were able to see it on friday, and we are putting an offer in TONIGHT! in case you were wondering, i'm perfectly calm terrified about it. it is a foreclosure in incredibly good shape, yet my darling husband is intent on low-balling the number when we make the offer tonight. his point is, why not try low since the bank is already desperate to have it sold? he figures the worst that can happen is that we get rejected and put in a higher offer. i see his point, but maybe it's the girl in me that feels that somehow that's not polite. i'm gung-ho about paying less if we can get away with it, but slightly terrified to see the looks on our realtors' faces when they hear what we're offering (aka their commision). the only thing that makes me feel better about all of this is the fact that this technically isn't "their" house (realtors can show you any house in the market, even ones not listed through their realty company - a fact i didn't know until a few months ago). so, i'm hoping they just see this as a bonus - the only way they're getting any money out of this is because we sought it out and asked them to show it to us.


*phew* anyway, i certainly do have butterflies in my stomach. we have been praying earnestly about this house, because it is in such good shape and the price can't be beat (well, according to Chris it can! lol). our meeting isn't for 3 hours! what in the world will i do until then?!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Since I am substituting now, and have a lot of extra time on my hands during the day, I have a lot more time to read. I have started a list of books on the side of my blog. A listed book means I have finished it and feel comfortable about others reading it. If a book catches your eye and you're wondering about reading it, feel free to ask me on my blog, facebook, whatever! I'll send you a mini-review. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In the spirit of blantant copying, I'm taking Amanda's idea and making bulleted points....I have not the brain power after a long day of work to actually write an entire post about one topic. Thus:

  • my husband got done from work early today and actually made dinner tonight. fish-sticks (yes, i keep them in the freezer, they're a throwback to my childhood!) and white rice. ahhhh....processed and bleached american comfort food! lol
  • i worked at cracker barrel today and decided that since i was starving (thank you, job that barely allows you time to go to the bathroom, never mind bringing food to work like normal human beings) i was going to order myself strawberry shortcake off of the new dessert menu. i do believe i could eat some kind of strawberry/cream/sweetbread combination in very large quantities, daily, until the day that i die. which would probably be in 3 years if i actually did.
  • i have been thinking a lot about the presidential elections, and the guy i thought i was going to vote for is actually no longer the guy i am going to vote for. i'm not sure which shocks me more, my initial thought of a candidiate or the one i am now probably going to vote for. and yes, i specifically said "guy." she is not even an option, thankyouverymuch. does anyone else out there just wish we had another option? i will probably be writing a lot more about this in the future, but that's all i'm typing about it for tonight.
  • it also dawned on me yesterday (apparently this has been a week of awakenings?!) how odd substituting really is. i mean, seriously, in what other job are you given no orientation, no map of the building, no specific rules or guidelines to follow (other than "please don't let anyone bleed to death, hold anyone hostage, or blow up the school"), no training in the subject matter, no knowledge of anyone in the building's title, status, or position, and yet still expected to ensure that learning takes place? the thought hit me as i was teaching "desktop publishing" (the teacher left no lesson plans, class charts, or even the titles of the classes she was teaching, by the way). i was baffled yesterday by the absurdity of it all. so odd.
  • i am reading the atonement child by francine rivers. this is the second book of hers that i've read - the first was redeeming love. i bawled like a baby over that one. i still think her writing is a little cheesy at times, but somehow so compelling. i can't seem to put it down.
  • last but not least, we are still looking at houses.....we think we may have found a great one....we just need have our realtor take us inside first. ;)
  • aren't you just dying for your stimulus check to just get here already?!
  • the end. :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's Frugal Friday Time!

I am linking to Biblical Womanhood today because after all of my CVS posts this week, I have a few thoughts about how to make frugal gifts from your CVS purchases. Aren't I fancy? ;)

Graduation baskets:
For a high-school graduate like me who was going to college in the middle of the Ohio cornfields (yeah Cedarville!), without a car, this was such a blessing! My aunt's gift to me was a big plastic shower caddy (which I'm sure you could get at Wal-Mart or the dollar store for $3 or less) filled with all sorts of bath supplies! She loaded mine with shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pretty washcloth, razors, shaving gel, lotion, and more. If you're like me and have a stockpile of toiletries, pick yourself up a caddy and maybe some nice lotion, and you have an easy gift that most graduates will really appreciate once they get to college and realize they're broke!

Wedding shower gifts:
A close family friend from my church did the cutest thing at one of my bridal showers. She composed a little story about Chris and I, and inserted words from everyday household products to "fit" with the story. I have the story filed away, but to give you an example of how she might have done it: "I hope you will "Snuggle" [dryer sheets] close together often." Or, "I know you will bring each other lots of "Joy" [dishwashing detergent] in the years to come!" I'm sure you could creatively think of your own story, or get ideas from the internet. It was SO cute - as she read, her daughters brought each of the items to me.

This would require a little more purchasing, but you could certainly supplement it with your CVS buys - candles, air fresheners, dishwashing detergent, etc. There are many little household items you can pick up at CVS, and just like my graduation basket, this was such a blessing to me when we moved to a new state after we got married and we were trying to save all the cash we could. I still have some of those items, almost two years later!



A little creativity goes a long way - and these gifts will be remembered for their thoughtfulness long after the party is over!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Today has been such a relaxing day. I woke up at 6:30 to make my dearest some breakfast before work. After waking up and accidentally dropping something in a toilet I had just peed in (i.e., a horrible way to begin a new day on earth!!), and then having about 3 million things in the kitchen fall because my eyes were half shut, and having the things stay on the ground because I was too grumpy to pick them up, I finally remembered the Good Reason I do not do this on a regular basis. I love my husband, but mornings have none of my love.

Anyway, I had a doctor's appointment today, which is why I wasn't able to work and thus the bold and (I thought!) magnanimous statement I had made to my husband last night about making him breakfast before a long day. I am happy to report that my doctor said my ear looks free of infection but that I have a slight swelling of the ear canal, which is probably why things are still a little muffled in that ear. (As far as she's concerned, I am basically healed! THANK YOU for praying for me! :)

My day scooted along quite nicely....grocery shopping, library, light housekeeping, etc.

About half an hour ago I went to Biblical Womanhood and read a post about Crystal's friend whose husband had suddenly died in a boating accident on Easter Sunday. I went to the woman's site, and I wanted to cry as I scrolled down through her last week or so of blogging. She was working on her house, she was a new member of her church, she had just gotten a great deal on her camera, she was killing mosquitos in her house, for goodness' sake.

And then, one day, her husband dies.

I cannot possibly help but take note of this. She lives in Australia on a farm, but her life has many overall similarities to mine. Building a life with her husband, writing about things that caught her eye or excited or frightened her. And then God takes her husband away.

And everything is over, or so it seems.

....................................................................



Of course I will continue to write about my life on this blog, and of course it will include my quirkly little interests like cooking and yes, buying stuff at CVS.

But can I please encourage you to take the time today to tell your husband (or wife) how much they mean to you? Thank God for the life that you have together. If you're fighting, fix it. If you've been meaning to do something kind, do it. If you haven't laughed together in a while, talk about old dating stories over dinner. Go get ice cream. Take a walk.

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. " James 4:14


Rejoice in the day the Lord has given you. I know this sounds horribly morbid, but the love of your life really and truly could, in God's providence, be gone tomorrow. You have no idea how long God has given them to you. Live and love to your fullest today!

Monday, March 24, 2008

For those of you who were praying for my ear, thank you! It actually started bleeding (for real) on Saturday and Sunday, but it hasn't bled significantly since yesterday morning. My mother-in-law is a nurse, and after talking to her and another nurse at church yesterday, I found out that (unfortunately) this is still actually a good thing - fluid is normal and means that my ear is still healing. I go back to the doctor on Wednesday, so I just ask that you continue to pray if God puts me in your mind! I have had issues with this ear since I was little, and already have slight hearing loss in it anyway....and as a musician I really want to keep good hearing in both ears.

Thanks you guys!
Remember that post back in February where I had spent a little over $30 at CVS? I said that it would be worth it to spend a little extra now, but since I was getting 41 ECB, I would make that stretch as far as I could? To encourage you to shop at CVS, here is a list of everything I have gotten since February 8:

  • 4 Colgate toothpastes
  • 2 Gillette Fusion razors (men)
  • 2 boxes pantiliners
  • Excedrin
  • gum
  • 2 3-packs Irish Springs soap
  • Purell hand sanitizer
  • 8 rolls paper towels
  • 2 packages Mach 3 disposable razors (men)
  • 2 bottles Crest mouthwash
  • 2 packages cotton swabs
  • 5 bottles of Vitamin C
  • cough drops
  • 2 boxes tissues
  • gummy bears
  • 2 Lypsyl lip glosses
  • 2 Oral-B toothbrushes
  • Venus Embrace razor (women)
  • Maybelline lip gloss
  • Listerine mouth wash
  • 2 L'Oreal curling mousse bottles
  • Pledge duster kit

The total amount of cash that has left my wallet is only $11.87. Plus, I still have $30 in ECB to spend, plus $2.50 on a CVS card (after today).

It really, truly works! And my total would probably be lower if I was even half-way decent at math in my head at the register ;).

It's that time again!

I had to share what I'd been getting at CVS lately:


This was from two weeks ago:






  • All of the Vitamin C bottles are part of the March deal: pay 2.99, get 2.99 ECB (free for someone who's already paying with ECB)
  • The razor was 9.99, minus my $4/off coupon, giving 6 ECB back (also free for me)
  • The toothpastes were also 2.99 and giving 2.99 ECB, but I also had a coupon for $1/2, so they were free "with overage" as some people say.

So, I used $5 worth of coupons, paid with 22 ECB, and got 23.94 back in ECB! My oop expenses were $.93 (to cover tax, i guess?)

This was from last week:

  • The L'Oreal mousse for my hair (I'm basically out, so this was awesome!) was B1G1 Free (4.99 for 2)
  • The Maybelline Superstay Lip Gloss (which I am now in love with, by the way) was $8.99 but gave 8.99 ECB back (again, free for me)
  • Listerine Mouthwash (technically "for kids" but Chris uses mouthwash daily, and this just has a "minty" taste, so I bought it) was 2.99, giving 2.99 back (free)
  • Lypsyl was a March deal (pay 2.99 get 2.99 ECB back)
  • The Pledge duster set had a rebate attached, so it will be free for me once I get my rebate check back (side note: I always cut out rebates from coupon books. If I can get the product completely free - minus the cost of a stamp - I usually will try it. It takes a while, but they do always send you a check - and once I even got some coupons included, too! This Pledge duster is great and I actually had fun (haha).

I used the $3/$15 "Beauty" coupon from Money Saving Mom. I gave them $21.93 in ECB and will receive $4.59 in the mail from my rebate, plus I immediately got 14.97 ECB back. Technically, I bought a toothbrush with this transaction that I thought would give me ECB back. It didn't, so I'm going to return it today (I will get 2.50 back for it on a CVS card). So, you could say my total was 17.34 in ECB, plus 2.12 oop, and 14.97 plus 2.50 plus 4.59 as money I am getting back. Is this confusing? It makes sense to me! :)

I think that if I could be a personal shopper at CVS, I would make it my full-time job. lol ;)

Friday, March 21, 2008

So.

Last Saturday, I started to get a cold. My throat was sore for two days (typical), then I got a full-blown cold. Sounds innocent enough. I rested, took my Vitamin C faithfully, and felt great yesterday - thought I was over it.

This morning, around 4:45, I awoke from a dream where I had been clawing at my ear. I woke up because my ear was killing me - I mean, I was in agony. I wondered if I hadn't made my ear hurt from touching it a lot in my sleep. I took two ibuprofen and tried to go to sleep.

Well, the pain didn't go away, and it was really, really intense. Chris thought I probably had fluid in my ear from my cold, which made sense since I could hear a little crackling when I laid my head down. I made an emergency appt with the doctor.

About 1/2 hour before the appt, I hear a lot of little popping sounds, like little tiny guns going off in rapid succession in my ear. Brownish-pink fluid starts flowing out (I know, tmi). I knew this was not good.

I get to the doctor, and she told me that basically, my eardrum perforated. The fluid was too much, so a little hole was created, which relieved the pressure in my ear (which explains the weird fluid and the relief I felt by the time I got to the doctor). I had to buy some ridiculously expensive medicine (tip: do NOT get your meds at CVS! shocking prices), and I have a follow-up on Wednesday.

Besides being in still some pain and discomfort, I'm kinda worried. The doctor would NOT promise me that I won't have hearing loss because of this. Has this ever happened to anyone else before?!