Monday, August 24, 2009


Today I made a big step in my attempts at being a domestic diva. I took on the challenge of baking bread. 

I have never made bread before that I can remember. I have made pizza crust from a mix or biscuits from a can, but I've never done bread. I got a recipe from a lady at school and today I finally tried it out.

I was actually really scared. It's not like I've never screwed up something I've tried to make, especially the first time around, but I knew that if I screwed this up I know Jeff would never let me forget it. Apparently his aunt (who is an AMAZING baker) had some trouble the first time she tried to make bread for her husband right after they were married. She probably killed the yeast or something but she spent all day in the kitchen and yet her bread came out very very flat and just not right. And she has never heard the end of it. And Jeff has kept reminding me of this since before we got married whenever I talked about making bread. 

It took a good chunk of my day to make. I probably spent almost an hour putting everything together (I imagine it will go faster in the future as I learn what I'm doing). Then it had to rise for an hour. Then I had to beat it down and divide it which probably took 15 - 20 minutes then it had to rise another 40 minutes. Then it had to bake for about 30 minutes.

But when it was all done I was SOOO excited because it came out fabulous! The recipe was for two loaves but I couldn't find my second loaf pan (I don't even remember if I have a second loaf pan!) so I divided the second loaf into rolls. I had to keep an eye on them so they didn't burn because they didn't take as long to bake, but they came out great. I ate several of them with a little bit of butter right out of the oven and they were quite tasty.

Next baking adventure - pound cake and orange rolls

Sunday, August 23, 2009

General Update

I have been a blogging slacker lately, but not a whole lot has been going on in my life.

Birthday was nice. Thank you all for the lovely wishes. 

Last week I spent a whole lot of time in meetings. Thankfully they all went well.

I'm officially oriented and ready to start volunteering again. I'm very excited about getting started.

Work has been going well. I need to buckle down and do my ordination papers. I'm hopeful that my office will be officially cleaned out and I can use it by the end of September!

House hunting has been going very well. We went and visited several places this week. We found one that we both just fell in love with. It's a nice foreclosure that only needs some cosmetic work but is very reasonably priced, so we're really thinking about acting on it soon. It would be nice to be able to have all the work done before we want to move in. And the sooner we can get into a permanent home, the happier I will be!  (Plus if we can be moved and settled by March, I can go on vacation after Easter!) 

It looks like Jeff is going on vacation without me in a few weeks. His grandparents have a timeshare in Gulf Shores, but it's Friday-Friday so our schedules just don't overlap enough for me to be able to go with him. Oh well!

I haven't been doing a ton of cooking lately. We've enjoyed the weather and done some grilling out but nothing terribly exciting. I still haven't re-tried meatloaf yet (it's on the to-do list) and Jeff is requesting spaghetti, plus I want to try roasting just chicken breasts. I'll let you know what I come up with for this next week!

Jeff is going to be teaching again for the fall, which will be great. It's a new class that he's never done before, but I think he's really looking forward to it. 

The dogs are doing well and enjoying the nice weather. We're working on better habits with both of them. Cocoa is getting better at night and Patches is learning not to jump and how to shake. 

So that's pretty much it. Life is good!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh Baby!

No, I'm not pregnant. I don't pan to be for several years. But I have been thinking about it lately. I know Jeff has too. His long-time crush from high school (I might even go so far as to call her his first love) is now expecting. And I can see it somewhere in his head that he's thinking about having kids. 

Whenever I think about having kids, of course the first thing to come to my girly little brain is decorating! How do I want to decorate the nursery? What kind of playpen, highchair, stroller, and car seat do I want? I have a few things that have been made in my family and handed down (that are all gender neutral thankfully!) so I know I want to use them. For the most part, I've decided to keep everything yellow and green and not any particular pattern, just solids and perhaps a gingham. Because I have handmade items from the last couple of generations, I want to make something for my baby too! Part of me wants to learn to quilt so that I can make the quilt or a pillow or something. I'm sure I'll come up with something I can make, I'll just have to wait and see what it is! I would love to have as much handmade stuff as possible because there is so much love that goes into making something for someone and I want my child (or children) to be surrounded by as much love as possible! 

The next thing that came to my mind was work and maternity leave. I have always said that I would love to be a stay at home mom. Part of me thinks I still would, especially when the kids are tiny because I don't want to miss any major milestones. But, at the same time, I know you can't see everything. I remember my friend Julie's little boy rolling over for the first time while I was babysitting for him. She was a stay at home mom but it just happened to be in those couple of hours that he actually rolled over for the first time. And I was thrilled to get to see it but part of me thinks if it had been my child I would have been heartbroken to not see it. But at the same time I know he did it again and again and there were lots of other firsts that she got to see. And I think that taught me that there's no way you can see everything and if you try you will only be disappointed. You won't be able to relish what you do see because you'll be grieving what you don't get to see. 

Right now working part time has been an interesting experience for me. I think I would have a very different opinion of the whole experience if I had an office and got out of the house more. But when I'm home I feel like I'm just kind of worthless because I'm so unmotivated and lazy. And I go absolutely stir crazy if I don't leave the house (and sometimes don't even get dressed) for a couple of days! And I feel like I would be the same way as a stay-at-home mom. I think it would be perfect for the first few months (especially before the baby is sleeping through the night!) but after a while I think I would go a little nuts. I don't want to put my child in daycare if I can help it, but I feel like I will go nuts if I don't do SOMETHING. And as much as I would love to volunteer, I feel like I would need to be making money that I could turn around and spend on a nanny! 

I know I would like to take a maternity leave of AT LEAST two months, maybe more. But unless I've got a "real job" or am in a good place to do something else, I don't know that I would want to take a full year's leave of absence from the conference. I know there's plenty of time to sort it all out and I can't do too much until I know I'm expecting, but it's a lot to think about! 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Six Flags

Yesterday Jeff and I went to Six Flags with his mom, aunt, and two cousins. It was totally last minute (we got offered the free tickets at 9pm on Thursday!) but we had a good time.

I got incredibly dehydrated because it was SO hot and crowded. And I got a little bit of sunburn on my chest and shoulders. But despite all that we had a good time. We road a few things and walked around. It's been a long time since most of us were at Six Flags so it was interesting to just see the park and how things have changed. 

When we got home I was thinking about how a trip to a theme park (or any kind of family outing) teaches you a lot of good "life lessons." There were two in particular that came to mind - patience and compromise. Not only do you have to have patience when you are waiting in line, you also need it while you are waiting for people riding something you don't want to ride. Compromise comes into play on most every family anything because there will always be differing opinions about what to do and when to do it. You just have to go with the flow and look forward to doing your thing!

Normally I'm a planner. I like to know ahead of time what is going on. Especially if it comes to doing something big like a trip. I've only ever taken a couple of these last minute trips. But every time I do they are a lot of fun. I don't have any bad memories or experiences of disaster that have come from any of these little day trips. Perhaps I should do them more often!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Frog Song

In elementary school, my music teacher taught us this very cute little song about a frog who wanted to be an alligator. I loved it. And everyone I knew loved it. But I haven't thought about it in at least five years. I really can't remember when the last time I thought about it was, much less heard it or sang it.

And yesterday morning, I woke up and my first thought was "Why can't I be an alligator?" which is the first part of the chorus. And I've been singing/humming it ever since! 

I put it on my facebook status this morning and it's amazing the comments I've gotten! It has been so much fun to remember this withe everyone. And you can't help but smile when you hear it.

So you need to go listen to The Frog Song. It will make your day, I promise!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Holidays are probably the most exciting and most dreaded part of any new family. There's nothing like having to break old family traditions in order to make new ones.

If you know me and Jeff and have followed our relationship from the beginning, you will know that holidays have been a challenge pretty much from the beginning. And not just the major ones like Christmas, basically any sort of holiday that could possibly be celebrated. See, here is the conflict - his family celebrates EVERYTHING. And when they do, they involve EVERYONE. My extended family does the biggies together - Thanksgiving and Christmas. If there is a major milestone birthday there might be a little something special, but that's about it. Part of this is because of our distance, but I think part of it is just kind of how we are as a family.

Now, I won't lie, Jeff's family traditions really bothered me at first. And there are a few that I'm still not crazy about, but I understand it and can respect it even if I don't like it. But for the most part, they are starting to grow on me. 

Christmas - This has been the biggest challenge for us. We got engaged just a few days before Christmas so that is a special time for us as a couple. This has always been the one big holiday for my extended family to get together, on Christmas day. Jeff's family has several Christmas traditions including Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day. The newest twist is now the fact that it is a religious holiday, and that makes it a work day for me! And that means that traveling more than an hour or two and being gone any longer than one night is pretty much impossible for us. Negotiating time with everyone is going to be a challenge, but I'm sure we will learn as we go.

Thanksgiving - This one is usually a bigger deal for my family than it is for Jeff's. But this year we're going on vacation that week so we don't have to worry about negotiating much of anything! In the future I'm sure we'll have to figure something out, but I would really love to start hosting a family holiday (especially once we get a house) and I think this would be an ideal one for us because it's not religious and is guaranteed to not be on a Sunday so no matter what I won't have to try and manipulate it around work. I get a pass for this year and next year can start negotiating our first new (permanent) tradition.

Easter - When I was young we always celebrated Easter with my grandparents and even when I was in college I always came home for Easter weekend. Jeff's family will always make a weekend of it, but it's much more low key and flexible than other holidays. The past couple of years it's been a work day for me, and that is going to be the case from now on. On the one hand I would love to have people come see us, but because I'll be working I don't see myself really being able to do a whole lot. I'm sure it will matter more once we have kids but we can cross that bridge once we get to it.

Birthdays - Jeff's family makes a much bigger deal about birthdays than my family ever has. And I am not a big fan. I think big birthday parties are fine when you are a kid and if it's a milestone birthday, but beyond that I think big parties are just unnecessary. Yes, I have had very crummy birthdays for a long time with no real sign of a break in that trend, so I am not eager to make a big deal of it. I don't like cake, I don't like singing, and I don't like going out with a million people for dinner. Jeff's family is all over all of this. I think birthdays are a personal thing. And if you want to make a big deal of your birthday that's your choice. But I just can't get them to understand that I really don't like celebrating MY birthday. This year my birthday is a work day so hopefully it will be low key. We can cook out on Saturday and then maybe go out for lunch after church on Sunday and that will be the end of that. 

Valentine's Day - Jeff and I were very sweet and romantic on our first V-day. After that, it just didn't really seem to matter that much. This year we may do something, but we'll have to wait and see. Thankfully this one is not a family holiday!

Halloween - I actually really like halloween. I love seeing all the little kids dressed up, the cool weather, and the pretty fall colors. We usually decorate at least a little bit, although I don't know how well that'll work this year in the condo. I will probably dress the dogs up for pictures though!

Anniversaries - I think anniversaries are personal. Milestones MAYBE have a little party or something, but in general they are between the couple and should be left alone. My family never made a big deal about other people's anniversary. In fact, we were doing good to remember other family members' anniversaries. Jeff's family doesn't have parties for everyone every year, but they do make it a point to call everyone and wish them a happy anniversary. I'm still deciding how I feel about that. Next year we won't get to celebrate much because, again, I have to work. But, I doubt I will answer the phone if anyone calls! They can leave a message!

4th of July - this is not a holiday that has ever even been on my radar as a holiday! We might go over with friends to cook out when I was younger and we would buy fireworks to shoot off, but now I don't even think about it. This was the first year I have done anything in a long time. We had a big family cookout at Jeff's grandparents on the 3rd because that was when everyone was off work. Then, his grandparents came over on the 4th and we cooked out. Finally we went to see Thunder on the Mountain with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. Personally, I kind of miss letting it pass without a thought! 

I like having an excuse to celebrate as much as the next person. But I also feel like celebrations lose some of their special-ness and excitement when you celebrate everything! I think special achievements deserve special celebration, but when you have some sort of "big family celebration" at least once a month, you're not going to get excited about much of anything after a while. And that really isn't fair when you have something that is really worth celebrating!