Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thankful Thursday: My Job

I am so glad it's time for Thankful Thursday again. It came up really quick this week and right on time.
This week for Thankful Thursday I have something special and new to be thankful for - my job!

Today, I got the go ahead to share that my job is official. I start in August as an instructor here at UT with the ALEC department. That is the department I have been a graduate assistant in for the last two years.
You can see our website here:

I think God's timing is impeccable. Almost two years ago, I chose to pursue a degree in this department instead of staying in the department I received my bachelor's degree in because my heart told me it was the right choice. Not that there is anything wrong with the other department, but it wasn't for me.  A lot of people tried to convince me otherwise. All along the way, I found a million reasons and signs from God that I made the right choice. Do I sometimes still face scrutiny - sure. But my heart is filled, and I am happy! I want to eventually pursue a PhD when the opportunity is right and hopefully in addition to continuing to fill this teaching role in the future.

About two months ago, I got word that the position I will fill could likely become available for me. I was instructed to be patient and think about if it would be something I would be interested in. At the same time, I pursued other interests and especially an interest in a PhD program. Again, listening to my heart, I chose to put the program on hold and pursue this position further. Today, I had my final meeting and was given the okay to announce that I will be staying here at UT with ALEC. It is only a 9 month position that may or may not be renewed at the end of the next school year depending on budget. However, I get the opportunity to do what I love for another 9 months and learn more about teaching at the college level. I feel like I would be crazy to turn down a position that God has been moving and working on for me for the past two years and actually my whole life. It is kind of scary knowing that I could be looking for a job again at this time next year, but more than anything I am THANKFUL. I feel so blessed to have a family who has supported me and a family here at UT who worked hard to help this happen for me.

A big thank you to the CASNR staff who found the money in a budget-tight year to fund a position that truly needed to be created so that our program can continue to grow. A big thank you to the ALEC family for advocating for me and helping this work. Thanks to my former teachers who taught me that education should be fun and creative. AND MOST OF ALL a big thank you to the students who have taken my class and helped me to realize that this is what I love to do more than anything else!

I am looking forward to the challenges this year will bring, meeting new students, learning how to be a better educator and seeing many of my returning students who I know were praying for this for me too (thank you!).
Go VOLS!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Creative" Meal Monday

For those of you who know me, you know meal planning, getting my monthly groceries at a great price, and only shopping once a month (mostly) is something I take pride in as a wife. This month, I utterly failed. I usually spend between $100-$150 for groceries per month for our house. Some months when there are parties, cookouts, and other events it can get closer to $200, but that is really not usual for us.

I love meal planning, finding great coupons, getting produce at the farmers market instead of the grocery store and finding little ways to save money. However, in May (and it's still not over yet) I did terrible. There seemed to be no plan, I grocery shopped once with coupons, but didn't make a great meal plan list and stick to it. Now it's like every afternoon at work when I think about what I am going to make for dinner at home, I realize I have nothing to make.

Yesterday after work I was exhausted because I worked all day on another draft of the first three chapters of my thesis to give to my graduate committee. I really didn't want to go to the grocery store and knew I had a few odds and ends at home. So, I decided to get creative and this is what I came up with.......

Some sort of Taco/Hash brown Casserole type thingy

I browned a lb of ground beef
Shredded some pepper jack cheese (about a cup)
Peeled and made hash brown style shreds out of three potatoes
Mixed Cajun, chili and red pepper seasoning and salt with a cup of milk (taco seasoning would have been better)

I mixed all of it together and covered with aluminum foil and baked at 350 for 20 minutes
I checked it after 20 minutes and the potatoes were not completely cooked. I covered the top with more cheese and placed the foil back on and baked for another 20 minutes.

Then I crunched some tortilla chips and put them on top and baked for ten more minutes.

I was a little nervous about the flavor and mixture of things - but it seemed like a close match to some homemade Hamburger Helper type stuff. So, I didn't think it could be too bad.

Chris topped it with some salsa we had in the refrigerator and LOVED IT! Creative success!

I steamed some Lima beans on the side because I know Chris loves them.

I hate that I have been slacking so much this month with meal and grocery shopping, but if I hadn't then I wouldn't have gotten creative and discovered something that we may add to our monthly meals!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thankful Thursday: My Husband

I've decided that in order to keep up the blogging, especially on days when I feel I don't have much to say, I am adopting some themes. Thursday's theme is going to be, "Thankful Thursday".

So for my first Thankful Thursday
Today (and every single day) I am thankful for my wonderful, amazing, thoughtful, handsome husband.
I have known Chris for 7 1/2 years. After our first couple of dates I knew that there were a few things about him that made him a keeper. 1) He went to church. His whole family did. Our beliefs were the same.
2) He loved sports. He was and still is the most athletic and attractive :) person I know.
3) He knew about agriculture too! What a find! Now he wasn't in the FFA but he lived on a farm and that was good enough for me!
4) He had his head screwed on straight and had a plan to finish college. And he's pretty darn smart!
5) He was funny. Really funny and everyone loved to be around him.
6) He didn't sweat the small stuff. And he still doesn't.
7) Every single time I realized again he was actually dating me - I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

After one of Chris's college basketball games when we dated.

Now some of those amazing characteristics are the same things that I see in myself while others are the complete opposite (the not sweating the small stuff one). But it seems like I almost knew from day one that we would always be together.
Now, we are approaching our one year anniversary in a couple weeks. Nearly 2 years from the day he asked me to marry him and I cannot believe we have been married almost a year.

Seconds after our engagement with our families in Myrtle Beach.
I hear a lot of times that the first year is the hardest. Now, there were a lot of adjustments to be made when living with someone. However, I would never use "hard" to describe our first year of marriage - maybe he would say otherwise. :)
I hope that is a sign of many good years to come.

Now, on to why I am so thankful for him. My husband tells me he loves me every night before bed and kisses me (usually while I am still half zoned out) every morning before he leaves for work. He often helps load or unload the dishes. Sometimes he cooks dinner. He always takes out the trash, washes the car, and eventually puts his clothes in the laundry basket. He is a hard worker. I mean hard. He has put down new floor in our home, on my request. He has refinished furniture, for fun on my request. He has painted rooms, put up hay, built decks and about a million other things. This entire year he has worked to support our family while I finished my master's degree.

Riding scooters in Mexico on our honeymoon, "Dumb and Dumber" style.

The thing it has taken me a while to figure out is that after you get married what LOVE looks like often changes. During our courtship we often found little and big ways to show our affection. We would write letters and mail them to one another, email notes or cards, send flowers, candy and balloons or surprise the other person with a visit or gift. I found myself questioning when many of those things stopped after marriage, "Doesn't my husband love me anymore?" Sure I may get some roses on Valentine's Day or when I remind him that I would like him to buy me flowers but no surprise love notes, spontaneous gifts or displays of affection.

Hiking to Chimney Top in Gatlinburg.
Then I asked myself, "What do I do to ensure that my husband knows that I love him?" Then I answered with cook dinner, wash his clothes, make the bed, make sure the bills are paid on time, clean the house, make our home nice, plan trips, balance our budget, work to finish school and job hunt.
It was then apparent to me that my husband loved me more than I could imagine. We had both just found other ways to show it. I couldn't be more in love or more thankful for the husband the Lord has blessed me with.

So, today for my first Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for my sweet husband, Chris.