Saturday, October 1, 2011

98 Days!

In 98 Days I will officially be Mrs. Jason Fry! We are into the double digits people, it's getting serious.  I know I have been sorely lacking in the blog updates since the Fall semester started.  And well, it's because the Fall semester started.  All good things to report though.

I've begun working as a TA this semester.  It's a lot of fun and I know I learn a lot just by being around my co-workers everyday.  Not to mention, it's 100% more convenient than driving to Dallas every morning to work at Green Oaks.

This semester is shaping up to be a challenging one, but I'm doing much better with balancing my schedule this year.  I'm taking 9 hours: Assessment, Biofeedback, and Theories.  All my professors are great, as they always are! Biofeedback is my third elective to take in the Graduate program...we're technically only allotted one.  UNT offers too many awesome courses to just choose one so now I'm on the 60 hours graduate plan instead of 48 hours.  This puts me on track to graduate in December of 2012!  Judging by how fast the past 6 months have gone by, it will be here in no time!

Oh and then there's that little wedding thing lingering in my mind  :)  I'm so excited for everything to start coming together.  Getting a head start was definitely a good plan, but reconnecting with all my vendors has been a little more difficult than I had anticipated. No major problems as of yet, but there's still so much to do and think about. My schedule is ridiculous!  This is the first semester in 5 years I'm actually using a planner to keep everything in order.  It seems everyday I'm adding a new event to my calendar.  Of course they are all fun and exciting things.  For example, this past Thursday I went for my first dress fitting!  I received a call last weekend telling me my dress was in but we were moving Jason into his (soon to be our) new apartment.  I was squirmy and giddy all week waiting for Thursday to get here. My dress is even more beautiful than I remember it; probably because we didn't need giant clips on it this time to make it fit me.  There are a couple of places that need to be taken in still, but Mii said it should only take two weeks!  Yay!  Here's a picture from the fitting:

Of course I'm not going to put a picture of me in my dress on here.  But I am wearing it in this picture oooo exciting!   

64 days until the Half Marathon! Half marathon training is also going pretty well.  I did about 7 miles last week and hope to do at least 8 miles tomorrow.  Jared is doing a great job keeping me on track.  I'm so grateful to have somebody there to tell me I need to run and remind me I have already signed up to do this, so I may as well do a good job.  This has also been great for keeping me balanced and not become too overcome with school and work. I'm also keeping up with doing Insanity DVDs.  Granted, I am not going in the suggested pattern, but it's something which is far better than nothing.  I will say I feel sorry for whoever lives underneath Jason at his apartment, because Insanity involves a lot of jumping. 

On that note, Jason has a new apartment!  It is much better than where he was living before.  The grounds are beautiful and the apartment itself is bigger and lovelier.  I can't wait until I can call it my home as well!  Here are a couple of pictures: 
The Booter Bot's new home: A Dog Divided 

The breakfast nook.  One day there will be a table here so we can host dinner parties!

Lots of cabinets and counter space kitchen! 
I don't know why this one is sideways.  But here's the bedroom.  It is in serious need of decoration.  We plan on hanging our degrees on the wall behind the bed on our respective sides. 


The big bathroom! 

1 side of the closet

Side 2 of the closet.  Yes, even though I'm not living here yet, I have already claimed the big side of the closet :)

You have no idea how excited I am to have a washer and dryer!
View from the entrance.

View of the living room from the bathroom
View of living room from breakfast nook.  This is also in need of some decoration.  Please see our Sears Registry to aid in this endeavor! 

Our first family photo!  Soon to appear in the St. Ann Parish Directory 
Our coffee table books: On Right - the scrapbook I made Jason on our first anniversary. Middle - Our wedding planning book. On left - meh.  A book about that team ;)

More picture books/frames from anniversaries 3 and 4, the two Bibles Jason received when he was Baptized as well as his Baptism candle, and the awesome random gift I received from Jason's old upstairs neighbor because I "look like I'd be into religious stuff."  Bingo neighbor guy, I sure am! 
Now a quick tour of the grounds!  View from the balcony

Pool 1:  This is the closest pool to Jason's apartment and it's a lap pool! I've already used it a couple of times.  I would have gotten a better picture but there were people and I didn't want to be the creeper taking pictures of them. 

Picnic area 1.  How quaint! 

Dog Park 1...excuse me, "Bark Park"

Boots getting to know the new place :) 

Pool 2 near the front entrance 

Another angle of Pool 2 

Pool 3 

Some mini fountains along the walkway 

Bark Park 2 

I imagine this was built to hold outside Bible Studies, because it's just so lovely 

The 1 mile walking/jogging trail that goes around the apartments. 

Random fountain

View from the stairs

Missing in photos:  There are also 2 fitness centers, game rooms, and 1 mini indoor basketball court.

Me thinks I'll like living here :o)  98 days!!  


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just call me Betty Draper (from season 1, minus the unfaithful husband, naivety, and arrogance)

This week I've had the chance to hone in on my domestication skillz (thanks to no work or school)!  I made almond milk, cooked dinner, baked cookies, bug bombed my apartment, worked out daily, and did enough laundry to fill a whole laundromat. 

1) Almond milk:
  • Here are the ingredients I used:
    • Raw almonds
    • Water
    • Honey
    • Cinnamon 
  • Utensils
    • Saucepan
    • First round - centrifugal juicer
    • Second round - blender
    • metal strainer
    • Masher?
    • Large Bowl
    • Pitcher
  • Steps
    • *First I tried to use my centrifugal juicer.  It worked, but had a very low yield and wasted some almonds, so I changed to a blender*
    • Blanch almonds (boil water, leave almonds in for about 1.5 to 2 minutes)
    • Peel/squeeze brown shell off almonds. When they are blanched well it should be very easy to just squeeze and the white almond will pop out. And by pop I mean fly across the room.

    • Soak almonds in water for about 8 hours.  In my first batch I only soaked for 2 hours and it was a little grainy; in my second batch I soaked for about 15 hours and it came out a little more watery so I think 8 is the perfect amount. 
    • Blend about 1 cup of almonds with 2 cups of water.

    • Add 1 more cup of water, about 1 tsp of honey, and as much cinnamon as you like. Mix. 

    • Placed strainer in large bowl. Poured milk through strainer. This was the hardest part for me. I don't have a real metal strainer, just the one from my juicer and it gets clogged very easily. I would definitely recommend getting a nut milk bag, as cheesecloth allows a lot of the graininess through. 

    • Used the "masher" to get as much liquid out of the strainer as possible.  This is another reason a nut milk bag is nice, because you can squeeze it and get a higher yield. 
    • Chilled in refrigerator. 
  • I really liked the outcome.  I think Jason might need more convincing.  The definite downsides to making verse buying:  the store bought almond milk is fortified with calcium and B12 among other things. I'll probably end up buying vitamins to supplement my diet or find other sources of these nutrients. If you have any good suggestions I'd love to hear them.  I don't eat a lot of red meat (hence the lack in B12) and am trying to cut out a lot of dairy products (lack of calcium). 

2) Dinner - Hatch Eggplant Turkey or Tilapia Burgers
  • I LOVE Hatch pepper season at Central Market. I went there on Saturday, fully intending to only buy Hatch related items, but then I saw the most beautiful eggplant and had to have it. 
  • Ingredients:
    • Eggplant
    • Roasted hatch peppers
    • Hatch Pesto
    • Turkey burger
    • Tilapia
    • Bread
  • Steps
    • Slice the eggplant in half, lengthwise. Cut slivers along the inside of the eggplant and lightly salted over the cracks.  Allowed to sit for about 30 minutes.
    • After thirty minutes, I rinsed off the salt and pat dry the eggplant. 
    • Heat oven to 400 F. 
    • Coat pan with cooking spray
    • Place two sets of two roasted hatch chiles on pan (one set for each side of eggplant)
    • Spread Hatch Pesto on eggplant to cover cut side and in crevices created earlier
    • Place eggplant cut side down on the hatch peppers. 
    • Place in oven, let cook for 55 mins
    • After about 25 minutes I put on a whole grain brown rice, bulgur, and other grains blend with roasted pecans and garlic made by the Near East company 
    • When there was about 18 minutes left to cook I sprayed a pan with cooking spray and cooked the turkey burger.
    • With about 6 minutes left for the eggplant I put the tilapia in to cook (we buy steam fresh tilapia at kroger; it's a good price, filling, and low calorie. I wish I could make it fresh and would probably prefer a different fish, but I'm usually pretty short on time and tilapia is the cheapest.)
    • Took the eggplant out of the oven to cool; placed 4 slices of bread on oven racks. 
    • Finished cooking the rice and pulled bread out of oven (about 5-6 minutes)
    • Made two bowls of salad
    • Placed the turkey/tilapia on top of one piece of bread, placed the roasted hatch chiles that were under the eggplant on top of the protein, then scooped eggplant out and placed about 4 squares on top of the chiles. Topped it off with lettuce. 
    • Spread hatch pesto on my (tilapia) sandwich and a spicy habanero mustard on Jason's (turkey)
    • Enjoy!  I thought it was quite delicious and Jason did too.

3) For dessert I made some Betty Crocker Molasses cookies. 
Molasses Cookies and Almond Milk! 

Romans 5:3-5

"...we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us"

*All things expressed hereafter are opinions and my raw feelings about some of the experiences I had this summer. I am not an expert nor do I know the inner thoughts or feelings of the people mentioned. Please feel free to comment if you agree or disagree.* 

I've been waiting to find a good stretch of quiet time to write this post. This summer has been full of so many great opportunities and experiences. I chose this verse for the title because of its emphasis on perseverance and hope. In verses 1-2 of Chapter 5 Paul speaks of how our faith has resulted in receiving a taste of God's grace. This taste of His grace is so abundant that even just the "hope of the glory of God" (what is to come) leads to exultation. 

Side note: The common/more modern definition of exult is "to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy; rejoice exceedingly; be highly elated or jubilant."  However, exult used to be used in a way meaning "to leap, especially for joy."  I don't know about you, but thinking about sharing in the life of God makes me want to leap for joy  :)      

Okay anyways, after this Paul goes on in verses 3-5 to recognize that we will face tribulations in this world. Yet, through perseverance we can increase our character and find hope. Then he ties it all together by saying hope does not disappoint because of the grandeur of what we have to hope for (the glory of God). Exult!  

 What does this have to do with my summer?  I had the privilege of meeting some truly incredible individuals who embody perseverance through trials. I worked at a summer program called REAL. The goal of the program was to introduce young adults with vision impairments to employment and independent living. I was a job coach, which involved teaching participants job skills and supervising them on the job. Most of the work I've done in rehabilitation has been in the mental health field. This was a very new and exciting experience for me.

Each job coach was assigned two participants to supervise throughout the program. From the first day, I knew it was going to be quite an adventure. My participants were awesome! We had our shaky moments and definitely did a lot of persevering during the five weeks. We were assigned to work at elections administration in Denton.  The office was full of so many wonderful people who were excited to have us there. But, the jobs the participants were assigned weren't the most exciting. Each afternoon, after a long day of folding cards to be mailed out, they returned to the dorm to hear their peers tell stories about working in retail, testing electronics, and designing a component to Second Life for those with vision impairments. Suffice it to say we did not have the most exciting job. But we made it through and even had some fun doing it.  Thank goodness for my participants, they kept me laughing throughout the day. 

Both of my participants amazed me with the things that they had experienced throughout their lives and how they handled them.  The first thing I learned from this program was why "person first" language is so important. These individuals are so much more than the vision impairments they have. They are people, teenagers to be exact, first. As we all do, they experience things far greater and more meaningful than their visual acuity. I enjoyed so much as my participants started to open up to me about their lives outside of the program. They were all so talented. My male participant was awesome with computers and had played and beaten just about every computer game out there. My female participant has the most beautiful voice! One day after work she sang for me and it was so hard to fight back the tears. There was also a participant who played every instrument I can think of. On graduation day I was down the hallway and heard one of my favorite praise and worship songs being sung; I dashed down and got there in time to record the last part of the song.  He also wrote a beautiful song which he played at the graduation.  Here's him playing the praise and worship song:

I absolutely loved working in this program. It makes me even more excited about finishing graduate school and getting to work with people just like these. 

I recognize this is getting long, but I have one more experience of perseverance and hope to share. For one of my class assignments we were asked to step out of our comfort zone and interact with a culture different from the one we grew up around. I chose the homeless community. One Saturday afternoon Jason and I drove to downtown Dallas. I have to be honest, when I first got there I begged Jason to let me turn around and find a different culture. I was very nervous. But he encouraged me to approach a man standing by himself digging around an ashtray. I went up to the man and asked him to join us at lunch.  Ronald was definitely a little startled. He was very quite for the first 30 minutes and visibly uncomfortable being in Subway. I learned a lot from Ronald; mostly about human dignity and the way we treat those who are homeless. As with those with vision impairments, those who are homeless are first and foremost people. After this experience I can see how someone who is homeless could start to feel less than that.

First, people chose to either look away from us or stare. There wasn't much of a middle ground. I definitely noticed this. I'm used to receiving simple smiles of acknowledgement from others in passing (and at A&M a "Howdy"). This absence was strange. I can see how day after day of this could make one feel as though they are "lesser" than those whizzing by. Even when someone did stop to give change, they did so without a word and usually didn't even stop or look at the person; more often than not, change was tossed in the general direction of the person sitting next to the wall. If there's anything I gained from this, it was to always look at those who are homeless in the eye and give them a smile, a wave. Even if I cannot provide change or a meal, the very least I can do is provide them a sense of dignity. 

Second, I wondered how often Ronald heard his name. Names are such a big deal for humans. No other species takes the time to name their peers. Eventually, your name becomes part of your identity. Girls often change their name in marriage as to be identified with their husband. But as a person who is homeless, especially one who hitchhiked as far and often as Ronald, hearing ones name could be a rarity. In some sense I can also see how this might start to ware on a person, making him or her feel separated from their identity. 

This experience truly had a profound affect on me. The homeless population is one I'm becoming passionate about.  Through it I was able to identify where outreach efforts, particularly those involving social work, might be going wrong. We must start to look at the world through the eyes of someone who is homeless. Perhaps the reason people choose not to go to soup kitchens or homeless shelters is out of feeling increasingly marginalized (look at the typical location of these, about as marginal as it comes). We must start to align our goals with theirs, build trust, and ultimately treat them with the dignity all humans deserve. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

How to get people to come early and stay late for Mass?

At St. Patrick's, entering the 5th grade did not only mean you were "top dog" on the first floor, it also meant you were now eligible to be an Altar Server (AS). For the Vrla kids this was a right of passage. Being the youngest child, I couldn't wait to be just like my sister and brother and stand on the Altar in a black robe and a white smock. Oh the glamours of Catholic School, it's the little things.  

I should have known Altar Serving and I weren't going to get along well when I missed the first day of classes. At this point I should have said, "you know I think I'll wait until next year when I can attend the full 3 days of instructions."  But no, I was a Vrla, my brother and sister had imparted their AS knowledge to me and I had studied their every move up on that Altar.  I was destined to be a pro.  However, what I failed to remember was that my brother was the AS who on his way to kneel on the steps had smacked head first into the candles flanking the sides of Altar, making a surprisingly loud sound of glass on his apparent head o steel. I heard about this incident for weeks from my classmates.  News travels fast in Catholic school.  As far as I know, this was Bryan's only big blunder as an AS.  Me on the other hand...well, I had enough to write a blog about them.  And now the top 5 reasons Mass was so entertaining when Rebecca was an AS:  

Disclaimer:  During the time I was an AS the Monsignor at St. Patrick was a very serious and all about business kind of guy. Altar Serving was not a joke and he would gladly let you know if you were doing anything incorrectly.  I may or may not have been a little terrified of him.  

1) Following Communion the Altar Servers and the Priest clean up all the chalices, wiping them down and putting the tops on.  We were told during classes that the patterns on the top and chalice would match, making it clear which goes with which (see below picture of how it should be). At my very first Mass as an AS I step up to the Altar ready to help Monsignor J (MJ) clean up. He wiped down a chalice and hands it to me.  It has no pattern, and the only difference between the tops are the crosses in the middle. 

Oh and they're each ever so slightly different in size.  Enough to where only one top will fit each chalice. I play musical tops for what feels like 10 minutes, clanking on incorrect top after incorrect top. Finally, MJ takes back the chalice and grabs the correct top as if it was the most obvious thing ever. From that time on after wiping down a chalice, he would slightly tap it against the correct top as he set it down.  You're welcome St. Patrick Altar Servers, I just made your job 10 times easier.  

2) One morning I stood on the Altar holding the book for none other than MJ.  MJ is very particular bout what angle and height you hold the book for him. All of a sudden my watch starts beeping.  My watch alarm is going off.  I had wondered why my alarm hadn't woke me up that morning, instead my sister had to come in my room to tell me to get my butt in gear.  Turns out I had set it for an hour late. My 12 year old self has a mini freak out.  Should I turn off the watch or hold the book at the correct angle?  I don't know!  I look up, MJ is glaring down at me in a way I hope to never see another human being do.  After a minute of awkward beeping my watch finally stops. He makes no mention of the incident to me after Mass, but I know I am permanently engraved in his head as the girl whose watch went off during church.  

3) The best part about being an AS is getting to light the candles.  Fire is fun, always. Not to mention we get to use the coolest contraption to light the candles. It looks something like this:
See that little knob on the lower left side of the lighter?  Yes, well these control the length of the wick. One day while lighting the candles before mass I somehow managed to push this knob up far more than necessary.  The flame was gigantic. I panicked and pulled the knob down, snuffing out the flame.  Whew...disaster avoided.  I went back to the sacristy proud of my quick action.  I was greeted by MJ at the door.
MJ: "Why is the wick all the way down?"
Me: "Oh I was just putting out a flame"
MJ: "If you pull it all the way down after a flame was on it the wick freezes in the lighter.  It's probably broken now."
I try to move the wick back up.  It is indeed stuck.  Fail. 

4) As with all jobs, sometimes there were "no shows" in the AS world. But no fear, there was always at least one or two Altar Servers in the congregation ready to step up to the plate and save the Mass. On this particular occasion, there wasn't just one no-show, there were three. A voice came over the PA system pleading for one brave soul to be an Altar Server for today's Mass. Having already seen MJ, I figured I would volunteer and maybe start to make him like me a little better. I walk back to the sacristy ready to get a "thank you" and a pat on the back.  Luckily I had brought a hair band and was able to tie my hair back; strands of hair and fire do not mix well.  Once again MJ is there to greet me at the door:
MJ: "You're going to be our Altar Server."
Me: "Yup, I sure am, I even pulled my hair back.
MJ: "Those earrings are huge. They make you look like a gypsy"
C'mon man!  I was just trying to be a good Catholic and volunteer to be back up AS.  I never wore those hoop earrings again.  

5) After Mass, I went up to put out the candles.  All the seasoned and "Cool" AS put out the candles by snuffing one out with the bell side of the contraption pictured above and blowing the others out.  Well, I was seasoned and cool...or I wanted to be.  I reached up to snuff out candle one and leaned over to blow out candle two.  In one of my most intelligent moves to date I blow straight down at the candle.  The melted hot wax surrounding the candle shoots straight up hitting me directly in the face.  It instantly dries and I officially look like "two-face" from batman.  First reaction "OOUCH"  Second reaction "I need to get off this Altar ASAP I look ridiculous"  I put my head down and blow out (from a safe distance) the other 4 candles as quickly as possible then run back to the safety of the sacristy.  Luckily, MJ was not there to greet me at the door.  I can only imagine how that conversation would have gone. 

So, how do you get people to come early and stay late for Mass?  Answer, have Rebecca be an AS, she's sure to do something entertaining. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Blessings of Being Busy

July has been a busy month!  We made a trip to Houston, I reentered the world of going to school and working, I became an aunt, I started doing Insanity (twice), I became an aunt (!!!), and we went apartment/house hunting.

It is always so wonderful to go to Houston!  It's the perfect vacation. There are few places more welcoming and home feeling than my future mother-in-law's house. She came to know me so well in such a short amount of time.  I think by the second time I visited Jason at his mom's house she made sure to have the kitchen stocked with cereal and milk. I know this is a strange marker for how well someone knows you, but for me it is a loving gesture.  She has done and continues to do so many little (and big) things for Jason and I. Anyways, as always we had a great and relaxing time. Highlights of the weekend: seeing Paul and Tracy: we haven't seen Paul since New Years Eve; going to the beach with mama Fry; going to dinner with Cody, Jason's brother.   

Multi-tasking Rebecca is back in full swing.  On July 5th I became a working member of society once again.  I forgot how work + school often = exhausted Rebecca.  After I left Green Oaks I continued to wake up before 7 on a regular basis.  I had just recently begun to sleep until 9am when work rolled around.  It was a rude awakening (literally) having to wake up early again.  But I'd say it's well worth it.  I'm a job coach for students ages 16-19 with visual impairments in a summer program called REAL. My two "kids" are 16 and 18.  They are just wonderful.  Of course there are plenty of stressful moments; they're high school aged so there's lots of drama to go around. But as a whole I'm enjoying work. Job coaching is mostly me sitting in an office for 4 hours, so my favorite parts are when I get to just talk and hang out with the participants (breakfast, to and from job sites, after they get off work...).     

Along with work, I started my new workout program on July 5th. As I said in my last post, I received Insanity in the mail.   It's pretty awesome.  Insanity is for the most part centered around the idea of interval training. Most of the workouts are under 60 minutes, which is great for my constricted time schedule.  These DVDs are not joking, not that you need or want to know this, but the best way to describe my state at the end of the workouts is to say I feel like I'm melting. I finished one complete week of the workouts when my first week of "real" work hit (the previous week was training). I was so tired!  Also, I had a total of 6 papers and one test due that week. Needless to say, there was very little working out. So I had to start over this past week, and have done much better with getting a workout in despite time constraints. In addition, I reconnected with a friend from my graduate program and we're going to start running together once a week.  For some unknown reason we decided to run at 4 in the afternoon last Tuesday.  It. was. HOT. I about died...not to mention he's an excellent runner so keeping up with him was a bit of a challenge, but challenges are good.  Since then we have decided 7pm to 8pm is a much more appropriate time to go running. He assures me I'll be ready to dominate the December Dallas half marathon. 

On the morning of July 7th at 6:56am, in the middle of doing my Insanity workout for the day I received this text: "@ the hospital...6 centimeters"  I flipped out!  Nancy was in labor!  Baby Brooklyn was on her way! I started to get things ready, thinking how fast can I far is the drive to the hospital...oh wait, I have my last day of training for work today and then I have class until 9:30pm.  Ugh. I knew I couldn't miss training so I asked J Wag and my mom to keep me updated.  I was pretty upset.  I wanted so bad to be there taking part in the anticipation and watching my brother as he became a father.  I appreciate the moments of life and I was missing out on these. Around 12:45 I received another text message saying Nancy was starting to push.  I became extra antsy sitting in the conference room. I was expecting a "SHE'S HERE" text any minute. 1:00 came and went...2:00 came and went...3:00 came. I got out of training an hour early and had to make a tough decision, speed my way to Baylor Hospital in Downtown Dallas or be a good student and go to class. I hopped in my car and set off down I-35. About half-way there, at 4:18pm I received this text:
8lbs 13 oz 21 inch

Sidenote:....yes, that is almost 4 hours of pushing. Every time I thought "oooo I want a baby now!" I thought about 4 hours of pushing and decided I could enjoy a few years of married life sans children.

A flooding of emotions hit.  I was so excited!  Brooklyn was here!   Bryan and Nancy are parents!  I'm an aunt!  I'm not there.  But I would be soon.  I arrived about 20 minutes later, got lost trying to find the correct building, and then finally got to see the new family! As soon as I walked in the room I went to Bryan and gave him a giant hug!  It's hard to fully describe how happy I am for him.  He's a father!  It still makes me all emotional.  He is the most amazing brother: protective (although sometimes more than I thought necessary), loving, funny, encouraging, etc. Brooklyn is a lucky young lady to have him for a dad. And then I saw Nancy, holding her precious little girl, 100% in awe and in love. Nancy has also been a huge blessing to our family.  She has to be one of the sweetest and most self giving person I know. And then there was Brooklyn.  

Beautiful. My heart leaped. I thought back to just a couple weeks ago when I felt her rolling around in Nancy's tummy.  I thought back to when my cousin Gus was born, the first time I realized the miracle of life and child birth. I thought of a talk by Christopher West when he described the intimacy of a mother and child's bond; how the child spends nine months under the beating heart of her mother. And here she was, bringing a family together.  I will cherish this moment the rest of my life.  Sharing this moment with my brother and sister, the three of us standing together in the delivery room, my brother a father. We've spent countless hours, and my brother tolerated countless hours, of playing house. Planning our future lives, and here we were watching it all become reality.  So yes, I am overflowing with love for my little niece Brooklyn. I wish I lived closer so I could see her more  :)  

Jason met Miss Brooklyn last weekend.  As my sister said in her blog, it's really awesome to see my future husband holding and falling in love with her in his own way. I can't help but think of our future together and building a family with him. And then, I can't help but smile.  

We have made it to today...whew.  Longest blog post ever.  We went house/apartment hunting today!  Yay!  We have been toying with the idea of renting a house instead of moving into a new apartment lately.  But each time I find one I like and contact the agent, they already have a contract in the works.  So we decided to get serious about it today.  Our first stop was Coppell.  We like the idea of Coppell because it's still somewhat central to UT Southwestern and Denton.  More importantly it's close to our church, where we'd both like to become more involved. We drove around multiple apartment complexes and townhouses, and condos, and such.  Saw a couple of "maybes" and some "absolutely not's" and then we came to St. Marin Apartments. I had seen this one online and knew it would be a top contender. This was the only place in Coppell we actually went inside and talked with office about renting. The amenities are un-real for an least compared to the places I've lived. It's kind of like a resort. When apartments go on the market here, they get snatched up real quick so I'm hoping we can make a final decision soon, cuz I want to snatch one of the openings up for us.  The plan is for Jason to move into the apartment when his lease ends and then I'll join him in January, you know, after we get married.  We also went and looked at some townhouses in Farmers Branch.  The big draw here is 1) they are close to Addison: we figured if we live in Addison maybe people will come visit us, 2) they have a little patio/yard area where Boots could go out for a little while and 3) they have pretty good prices.  We liked most things about these, but the living room was very small. So if people did come visit us, they may not have a place to sit.  Also, after all the amenities at St. Marin, a tiny pool didn't do it for us. 

And there you go.  It's been a very busy July!  But filled with so much joy and blessing!   If you made it to the end of this I'm quite impressed.  I had to take a break in writing it (to do laundry no less. domestication?  I think yes.), so I can't imagine reading it.  Thanks for stopping by I hope you have a fantastic week! 

 "For You formed my inward parts ; You wove me in my mother's womb I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth ;  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance ; And in Your bookwere all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them."  Psalm 139:13-16

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ignatian Workout

Quick update:

Training:  Stephanie B. and I did an awesome circuit/boot camp style work out on Tuesday morning.  It's always great to see her.  And working out is so much more fun (and probably productive) when you're laughing the whole time.  I also got Insanity in the mail on Tuesday!  I had ordered it on ebay, but then received a message saying the seller was shady and I probably wouldn't receive it.  I was bummed. But, it did come, and I got it for super cheap.  Woot.   I'm going to start next Tuesday!   I went to the gym tonight and did a five mile interval on the treadmill and elliptical type machine.  It was nice, it's been a while since I've had a good run.  Other than that I've been doing a lot of Jackie Warner workout DVDs.  It's just so dang hot, and I'm too lazy to run early in the morning and it's too creepy to be a night jogger. 

Spirituality:  I bought a book a couple of months ago called "The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith"  Jason and I had started reading it together but when the semester picked up, we didn't get to see each other as much and the reading dropped off.  Well, we've picked it back up! I'm really enjoying it.  The author does a lot of comparing to athletes, which I appreciate. Much like training for an athletic event he encourages the reader to begin slowly, remain committed, and work toward a goal (which sounds very familiar to Deacon Pete's advice to Jason and I). It's based on the writings of St. Ignatius Loyola and after an introduction to prayer is broken down into four "workouts".  Jason and I are beginning our first one this week.  Side note: I thought this book was perfect because St Ignatius Loyola is the namesake of the church Jason and I attend in Houston, and a place where Jason learned a lot about the Catholic Church  :) 

I've also been listening to a podcast during my workouts of a Bible Study using Scott Hahn's "Understanding the Scripture: A Complete Course on Bible Study"  I'll need to go back and sit down with the Bible and Hahn's book to really get much out of it, but it's a nice little primer for the book.  The Wagner's were awesome enough to get J Fry "Understanding the Scriptures" when he was Baptized. 

Domestication:  Ok I'm going to need the most help in this area.  My ability to stay clean and organized has big ups and downs. I'm just not very consistent.  Every once in a while I'll get on a cleaning kick...but it doesn't happen quite often enough.  Any advice here would be appreciated!  I did write down a recipe for a healthy creamy basil pesto dip or sauce.  It sounds delicious.  I actually have a bunch of recipes I can't wait to try from a book my wonderful future mother-in-law got me for Christmas!  But both the pesto recipe and the ones from the book require a food processor for purees...I suppose that means someone will need to get the food processor from our registry  ;)   I'll be honest, thus far, that's probably the thing I'm most excited about on our registry.  

And there you go!  That's what I've been up to lately :)  

PS You should read my sister's Blog: Everlasting Encouragement  She wrote a beautiful tribute to my Meemaw 

"God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven. 
All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully. 
As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go." 
 St. Ignatius of Loyola