Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Black and White

The older I get, the more I realize that my outlook is very much black or white. I don't see grey, I tend to see right or wrong, yes or no. I like it or I don't. It is pretty simple. And, I like rules. I like knowing what I can or cannot do, and how to do something. I am very type A, perhaps with a little OCD sprinkled in there. Not anything diagnosed, just a simple observation from family and friends.
Sometimes, I wish I was not so rules oriented. I wish that it was easier for me to go with the flow, relax, and be ok with stepping out of bounds. But, most of the time, I'm not. I feel at times being this way makes me a bit of a fun sucker, but I am so much more comfortable staying inside the lines.
Even the way I dress is type A. I really like flowy skirts, and tops, and I have a few and they look good. But, I am most comfortable in a pencil or A line skirt with a button up, or structured shirt or a suit for work. I really like business suits, I think they look classic and professional which is how I like to dress most days. But, every so often I want to be that free spirit, that person who throws caution to the wind, and kiss my rules goodbye.
I bring this up because of a "tiff", yes a "tiff" that P and I had last night. (We when 1st got married I said we don't have fights, we have tiffs, and the word made him laugh, so it just kind of stuck.) The "tiff" started over a Dave Ramsey free spirit vs nerd issue. I am obviously the nerd of the family and I like to do the budget and keep the bills and receipts. Anyways, back to the tiff. Last night P asked if I had time to go to the store today because we were out of quiet a few things, and my first knee jerk reaction was NO. We are on the Dave Ramsey envelope system and we have spent all of our food budget for the month, so we cannot shop until next month. P looked at me and said, it is one day, it wont be that big of a difference. But to me, it was a huge deal because the 1st of the month does not start for another 24 hours.
After I sat back and looked at the situation, I realize that yes I can go to the grocery store today and no it is not a big deal. But in my mind, it was. I knew we were out of things, but I convinced myself that we could not budge in the slightest. And that is my mindset for a lot of things, most things actually.
And I think that is why God blessed me with my husband, P. He helps me to relax and live a little. He shows me that it is ok to go outside the lines a little bit, yet he understands my need for rules and boundaries.
But, some days, I want to be a free spirited hippy who skips work, does not clean the house, do the laundry, or organize anything. And then, I look around and start tiding up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Shining Path

I started graduate school with the expectation of studying women's history. I think the struggle that women made to get the vote is an amazing topic, and something I thought I wanted to explore. However, my 1st graduate course was a Latin American course to satisfy my global credit requirement. I started the course and my professor tried to get me to study sugar plantations, but it was simply not something I was interested in. I remembered learning about Castro and Che Guevara in undergrad and I thought that was interesting, so I figured that was the route I would take for the class. Well, I really got into it. So I changed my focus and I dove head first into my new topic.
I did a survey of all guerrilla movements in Latin America, and I found one that scholars had not studied in depth, and that was The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminosa of Peru. The Shining Path was a Moaist insurgency started by a man named Abimael Guzman, known as Presidente Gonzalo. He led the movement for almost 2 decades. The people were caught in the classic struggle of guerrillas vs. the government. Both sides were armed and at time dangerous, and the
masses were stuck in between, often siding with the group who happened to be in the village that day. Under the leadership of president Alberto Fujimori, Peru was able to defeat the guerrillas. The Peruvian government was eventually able to find Guzman as well. He had been living in the capital city of Lima! The government knew that he smoked certain cigarettes, and that he had psoriasis and used a special cream. They found both in a garbage can at the house of a famous dancer. The took him in and he was tried by a hooded tribunal and found guilty. Currently, he is held in a subterranean cell, and when he travels, the government keeps him locked in a cage during transport because he is so dangerous.

I did my research, and actually was down in Peru and able to speak with several of the natives about their experiences with the guerrillas. The things they saw and experienced were horrifying. I heard stories about people being held hostage by the guerrillas. I heard stories about bombs going off in the streets. I heard stories about women and children being beaten.

However, Peru emerged from this horrible ordeal. Their scars still show, and the country is rebuilding, and rewriting its future.
I had a great time in graduate school, and one day, I expect that I will begin work on my ph.d. However, for now, I am simply enjoying the fact that my time is my own. I enjoy not living in a library or writing 30 pages a week, just to have it handed back to me smeared with red ink from my professors correction pen. My time is my own, and I am free to read silly books about subjects that don't matter. Yes, I am enjoying life.

Hey Murph....get off my couch.

Murphy is here. Murphy is here. Murphy is here. For those of you Dave Ramsey followers you know who I am talking about. It is that good ol friend "Murphy's Law." Dave told us at the seminar we went to a few months back that once you get on the baby steps, once you start making progress, something is going to happen to try to get you off the course. I was pretty cocky and thought, no way that will happen to us.
Well, good ol Murph came in with a vengeance. 1st we had a huge payment to make. I thought ok, no biggie, it is just a one time payment, no biggie. Next, our computer is dead. We bought a new printer and computer about a week ago and we are just waiting for it to come in. P and I both use our work computers because the one we have is my old laptop from college and it is slow and hardly works. I said to myself, self, now days computers are not wants, they are necessities. So ok, I am cool with with buying a computer. Well, here is where Murphy reared his ugly head. THE CAR. We are going on a 9 hour road trip this weekend and P noticed that the car needed new tires. Then we needed to get the a/c looked at and fixed. Plus there are a few other underlying issues that need to be fixed with the car.
So all in all, we have dropped several grand in this month alone. Yes, I said grand. Awesome.
This week my husband P and I have been talking about all of our expenses and he made a great point. He said "It was good to know that I could pay for everything with cash, and that we will not be getting a bill next month." Plus, he had a really good attitude and just keeps telling me "you just have to laugh." So on his advice, I am biting the bullet and laughing about the timing of everything. I sit here and laugh, because whining, complaining, and tears just aren't my thing. I keep thanking God that we have the resources to make these payments, and we do not have to put them on a credit card.
So now I am laughing and laughing, as I walk Murphy to the door and ask him to leave us. I will kick him out and show him that we are not going to be "normal."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A New Season

It has been perfect weather here the past few days. It is sunny and around 80, ahhh, pure delight. It was perfect for the start of our school track season. I am coaching again and I could not be more excited. As a former college athlete, I know the effect that my coaches had on my life, and I hope that I can impact my kids in the same way. For example, I have one girl on my track team who is just really hardened. She has had a rough life and to be honest, there have been times that I really struggle to love her. But, as I watched her running and trying so hard, giving everything she had, it really moved me. It really made me see her in a different way, and that is one of the reasons I like coaching so much. It allows me to interact with my students in a different way. I get to know them, and I see them in a place outside of the classroom doing something that they love to do.

The kids I teach have some really hard lives, yet every single day they show up for me and give me everything they have. For example, last year during cross country, our students did not have the best gear like the other schools they ran against. The other kids had the best Nike/asics running shoes, with their Oakley's and new uniforms. Our kids had on their p.e. t-shirt and shorts, and high top street shoes. And by sheer determination our kids won their meet. In high tops and t-shirts they showed that the gear does not matter, its the heart and determination to show up. Today, some of our kids did not have any clothes to change into, so they practiced in their school uniforms. And they had so much fun. It was great! It really helps me remember that I don't need the best, I just have to have the heart.

The picture I took is from my cell phone from a cross country meet that I went to last year where our boys won the race. I keep this picture on my phone to remind me what is important.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I consider myself a content person, but every now and again this tiny little voice inside of my brain creeps in and urges me to go shop and buy and get some shiny new things. I have said in the past I am not a minimalist, but I don't want a lot of junk or clutter in my house, because it would drive me nuts.

However, for the past several days that little voice keeps showing up urging me to go to the store and buy, buy, buy. I want new clothes, I want new make up, I want more pots and pans for the kitchen, I want a new bed spread and new sheets to replace the bed spread that I bought less than a year ago. I want, I want, I want. Sometimes, I read blogs, or books, or see movies about girls my age who still go out and shop and blow $300 on clothes and shoes, and laugh it off. That has never been me, I am way to practical for that. But, sometimes, I want to be that girl. I want to throw off my practical side, throw caution (aka my bank statement) out the door and head to the mall on a shopping spree. Yesterday was one of those kind of days, and I kept telling my husband we need to go to the store, we need to look at this or that. Finally, he just said, aren't we supposed to be saving money. He was not mean, accusatory, or rude, he just asked me a really simple question about our goals.

And he was right. We are saving money. We are on the Dave Ramsey plan to save money and to build a future so that one day we can live like no one else, and we can give like no one else. With that one simple statement he was able to knock that little voice right out of my head. Thank you P.

Usually, I am such a goal oriented person, and I get tunnel vision and chose not to tune into anything else other than my goal. I want quick, fast results. I want to get it done, and move on. But, occasionally, I slip, like I did yesterday, like I did this whole last week in fact. It is such a precarious tight rope, this life on a budget. If you don't find that perfect balance and that discipline to stay the course, then you will be blown over to one side or the other by your whims.

Yesterday, I wanted to give into my whims. I wanted to throw out all the hard work and live for right now without any thought or hesitation about tomorrow. But I didn't. It was not because I did not want to, it was because I have an amazing husband who keeps me accountable. He is constantly reminding me that my words need to match up to my actions, because if they don't then I have lost. He reminds me that my word is my bond.

So we did not make it to the store, and I find myself once again content with all that I have.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I am a water girl. Be it a pool, river, lake, or beach, I am at home in the water. For me, there is nothing better than playing in the water with the sun shining bright. I think one of the most relaxing things in the world is to sit at the edge of the water and read a good book. Unfortunately, for the past few days it has been cold and raining here so I have not been able to get outside much. But, today I was driving to the gym and I stopped to take some pictures of the river. It looked so beautiful and I wanted to share it with everyone. I know the pictures are not the best, but they are the best I could do with the camera I have. (I crave a major camera with a serious lens, but it is not in the budget so I have to make due.)
In the summer the river is over run with tourist from all over the country coming to enjoy the beauty of the 2 rivers in our town. While I like the summer, it gets crazy here during the summer months, so it is so nice to enjoy the peace of the rivers in the off season.
I just wish it was warm and sunny this week to enjoy it, but we have been in a terrible drought so the rain is seriously needed. Plus it will be good for the garden.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring is here

Spring has come to Texas and I am so excited. ( I know not officially, but we are a little earlier than the rest of the country) With the time change, that means more time to go outside and have fun. Spring means disc golf in the park, or running next to the river, or just sitting on the patio reading after dinner. Warm days, cool nights, and lots of sunshine make me a happy girl.
Sometimes I ask myself why I enjoy the spring, and the summer, and the reason I have come up with is that it is a time of renewal. Everything comes back to life again. It is as if everything is emerging from a long sleep. Spring and summer mean long days swimming and playing. It means a break from getting up early. It means staying up late and sleeping in. (Ok for me staying up late is 10pm, and sleeping in is 730). But it is a chance to slow down, stop and soak up some of the best things that life has to offer.
Plus, some of the very best things that have happened to me happened in the spring and summer. I met my husband in the summer, I was a spring time bride, and I get 3 whole months off of work in the summer! It is the best time of year. I am so ready to soak up the sun and the beauty of the earth this spring.
This is the most wonderful time of the year.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Garden

Today P and I got up early to work in the garden. Here are some snapshots from the day.

Here is a pretty cool picture of P running the rake through the dirt to make mounds for planting
Here is a picture of the finished garden. We planted tomatoes, green beans, squash, onions, herbs, and peppers.

I am totally new to gardening and I don't have much of a green thumb. However, P grew up working on his grandfather and uncle's farm every summer, and he really knows what he is talking about when it comes to gardening. I grew up in the suburbs and we did not have a vegetable garden. My mom loves plants and flowers, but it is not something I have ever gotten into. Plus, I don't really have a green thumb. But, this is the 2nd garden I have helped with and I have enjoyed learning so much. Plus, I really get excited when everything is ready to pick. It is like Christmas everyday!
Hope you enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I really like to bake, but I don't like to cook. Rachel Ray says that bakers are people who like to follow the rules, and cooks are people who like to be creative. That is so true for our family. I am a rules girl. I want rules, I like rules, and I really like to follow the rules. P however, is more of a free spirit (according to Dave Ramsey--yep I am the nerd). He is such a great cook. He can make the best meals with no guidance. He just starts throwing things together and makes this delectable meals. Me--nope give me a recipe book and I am going to do everything to a T. Plus, I come from a long line of cooks and bakers. My grandfather owned a restaurant, all of my great aunts can cook anything and it looks and tastes like it came from a restaurant. And, my mom is an amazing cook. She does not think so, but that woman can do some mighty things in a kitchen. But I digress.
I think it is so much fun to bake yummy treats for the people I love. However, baked goods are not so good for the waist line, sad. So for the past several months I have been on a quest to bake low fat yummy treats that will satisfy the sweet tooth, while being diet friendly for my friends. And, whenever I bake, I don't eat what I cook for some reason. I really like giving it to my friends to enjoy--so its a double bonus.
A few months ago I found some yummy chocolate chip cookies that are made with avocado rather than butter, and they were delish. I have made them for work and bible study and my friends rave about them.
Today I had a meeting at school, so I made some stellar chocolate muffins with pumpkin to replace the oil and butter, and they were delish. I added a little confectioners sugar to the top and you could not tell a difference.
I am currently on a quest to find the greatest cupcakes ever. About a month ago I spent an entire weekend making cupcakes from scratch. I seriously tried 4 different recipes in 1 weekend. They were good, but not quite up to par just yet.
But I will keep on baking!!