Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas break

Christmas was full of Christmas parties with family and friends. I am so thankful for two full weeks off work, which is unfortunately coming to an end for me. I go back to work on Monday. Chris's break started a couple of days later than mine, so he's off until Wednesday.

I got a lot done over break. The first couple of days were full of Christmas shopping. I basically got 2/3 of my Christmas shopping done on those days. Of course, the gifts were mostly all planned in my head. I just had to brave the craziness that is Bowling Green around Christmas, which means 10x's more traffic than normal.

Wednesday was the start of Chris's break. We celebrated with pancakes and several episodes of Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls has become a habit for us on lazy mornings. Then, he left to hang out with is buddy, Mr. Bailey, and I wrapped presents for several hours. I basically didn't wrap anything until that day. I still had to keep them tucked away in our bedroom for fear of Penelope tearing the paper off.

I finally finished my Elizabeth George book, A Woman's High Calling while relaxing at Spencer's Coffee House on Thursday after a yummy lunch with my hubby. He had lunch with me, and then left me there alone to read while he went shopping for some stocking stuffer gifts for me. Friday I took Chris to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. We both thought it was really good. We hadn't been to the movies since the summer, so it was a real treat.

Saturday we opened gifts at home before heading to Henderson to see my family.

Penelope actually got her new squirrel-friend after Christmas because we felt bad for not getting her anything.

We went to Granny and Poppa's for a Christmas Eve party, and then to my parents to open gifts with the immediate family. We stayed two nights. On Christmas, I visited with my sweet grandparents in Evansville.

I did a terrible job of representing everyone in my photos this year. Sorry, family.

Tearing into his first gift.

Christmas morning "coffee" and "reading" the newspaper.

Monday we went to see Chris's family in Elizabethtown. We opened gifts, ate, visited, played with Penelope and relaxed. We stayed until Chris's dad got off of work on Tuesday evening. Then, we headed home with a carload of wonderful gifts.

Finally opening the gift from his parents after it was shipped to our place. He was excited about this one from Musician's Friend.

Penelope attack!

When I say carload, I mean carload. We packed home many beautiful gifts, but among them were some large boxed items:

Chris got a Shop-Vac from my parents. 
I got a toaster oven from my parents.
I got a standing mixer from Chris's parents.

Our carload unloaded.

We were certainly blessed again this year with lots of nice things for Christmas.

The rest of this week has been a little bit of work and a lot of relaxing. Sadly, we put up our Christmas decorations kind of early. We took down decorations on Wednesday. It marked the beginning of our packing for our move next Saturday. We started going after moving boxes and newspaper on Thursday and Friday, and we've already packed many boxes.

We still have lots to pack, but it's hard to know what to pack up a week before you move. We are slowly working on it, and I think we're in good shape for still having a week left to get it all done.

Packing up them liquor boxes!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Last weekend, December 3 was the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, Tennessee. My hubby made it across the finish line along with this father.

He started off pretty strong in the race. He kept a good running pace for a long while, but did not get the results he wanted. He said his knee started hurting a little around the halfway point, and by mile 17 he was in severe pain. Stubborn as he is, he ran on it until mile 19.  At that point, he said he couldn't run any further, so what did my stubborn husband do? He hobbled the last 7 miles.

Luckily, he seems to be recovering very well. We're thinking it was just a stress injury.  He was really sore for a few days, but now, a little more than week after the race, he's pretty much better.

I think his knee may have become inflamed because he did all his training on a gravel trail instead of real asphalt. Also, finding time to train became a real problem for him toward the end. He's had to work so much during the week the last couple of months, Saturdays were pretty much is only day to train.

Within minutes of finishing the marathon, he started talking about training for the next one. Oh dear!

I am proud of him for finishing and furthering such a great cause!

And they're off!

Random balloons.
Some intense runners at the beginning of the marathon.
Waiting on the men to finish.
Getting their medals.
No pain, no gain.
The aftermath.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

christmas time

Well, it's getting close to that time of year again. I have the tree and all the rest of my Christmas decorations out. I've been listening to Christmas music all week, but I still don't feel like I'm in the spirit. So far, whenever I think about Christmas, I think about how much I still have to do at work before we shut down for Christmas break (less than 2 weeks now!) I think about everything that still has to be prepared so that we can go to parties to exchange gifts with friends and family. I think about the hustle and bustle of driving to see loved ones over the holiday break. I love it, but man it's exhausting.

Perhaps I am missing out on the fun part of Christmas. Or maybe I am just a normal adult. I can only imagine the chaos that ensues when you have children to provide for around this time of year, so perhaps I can be thankful that I am not having to manage that on top of everything else!

more thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving we headed up to Lexington to see Chris' stepmother's family. These folks are fun to be around. It's too bad I only see them once a year, if that.

The day after Thanksgiving, Chris' mom and stepfather drove through Kentucky on their way home from Atlanta. They were visiting family for Thanksgiving. It was great to get to see them. We hadn't in a really long time.

They finally got to meet Penelope in person. We showed them around our town and had dinner. Then on Saturday morning, Niki and her roommate drove down. They were on their way back to Jackson from E-town. We made breakfast for everyone and visited for a few hours.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

thanksgiving and a birthday

Last weekend we went back to my neck of the woods to celebrate my niece's 1st birthday. That's right, Miss Lola Claire is one year old as of November 16. Since Jamie and Kenny had planned a Saturday party, my dad and stepmother decided to go ahead and have a Thanksgiving celebration the same weekend. After all, everyone had planned to come for the party.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family on Sunday worked out great for us. We'll get to go see Chris' family tonight, and we'll make the drive to see Chris stepmother's family tomorrow. We'll come back late tomorrow. On Friday afternoon/evening Chris' mom and stepdad are coming through Kentucky to see us on the way home from visiting some family in Georgia. They'll stay the night with us and leave sometime on Saturday. We haven't seen them in a really long time, so it will be good to get to visit even for a short time. Whew! I am glad we both get a 5 day weekend! It will be packed!

I have lots to be thankful for! Counting my blessings...Christ, a place to live, food on the table, family, friends, loving hubby, smelly dog, jobs that pay us a decently fair salary, cars that work most of the time, coffee that helps me get going in the mornings, snacks, music...

Sunday, November 13, 2011


This Sunday it was my turn to turn one year older. I turned 27 today, and it seems okay so far. I got to enjoy church this morning, throwing a baby shower this afternoon, and dinner and a Pumpkin Spice Latte with my sweetie this evening. I had a good birthday!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

moving soon

This week was kind of stressful. We just realized that if we were going to be ready to move by the time our lease is up on January 9, we had to:

1). Give a 60 day notice to our current property management by Friday.
2). Start looking for a new home.

Then we realized that the next few weekends are already packed full, so we'd better start setting up some times to look at new apartments either in the evenings or this weekend. I'd been keeping my eyes open for rental properties for a while now, so we had already driven through a couple of areas that we knew would be closer for Chris's commute. We had already decided to stick with an apartment for now. Rental houses all seemed to be a lot more expensive. We figured our money would work better for us if we saved by doing apartment style living for a bit longer. 

One unit happened to come open in the right area with the management group we've rented from for a while, until our management changed about two months ago. We went to see the place Tuesday since Chris was off for election day. We would have had to move about three or four weeks earlier than we wanted. A deposit would only hold it for us for one month, so we would have been paying rent in two places for an entire month. Despite it being an older building with older appliances and dinged up linoleum in the kitchen, we liked it. It was a lot bigger and had two bathrooms. I was slow with the decision, but after going to look at it again after work on Tuesday night, I was ready to put down a deposit. Unfortunately, by the time I called back the next morning to tell them that I would be dropping by with our rental application and deposit on my lunch hour, they had already lease it to someone else. The next unit they had in that area wouldn't come open until April. I was pretty disappointed, but then I thought, maybe someone else needed it right now. We would have just been holding it empty for a month. I had no idea our opportunity would be so limited. I guess it's because people don't like to move around Christmastime.

Luckily, I remembered that another management company had mentioned that they had a unit in the same area. They just weren't sure if the availability would work for us since their current tenants weren't leaving until January 1st and they needed time to get it ready for the next tenant. I called them back to see which one it was and when they thought they could get the next renters in by. They said the timeline would be tight, especially due to the New Year holiday but that they thought they could get us in a couple days before January 9th. I went on my own to look at it Thursday afternoon. It was exactly the same as the one we had looked at on Tuesday. It was just one building over. The appliances and floors were in much better shape. I decided that was it, and handed over my money before they could lease it to someone else! Giving a 60 day notice without having something else lined up just wasn't going to work for me. Despite the fact that the unit is a little bit older than where we live now, I think we're going to like living there.

We'll be in one of the 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouses in Covington Station. We'll have 300 more square feet than we have now. Rent will be $50 more per month. I'll be about five minutes closer to work. The best part and biggest reason for the move is that we are cutting off over 14 miles from Chris's commute. That's close to 30 miles per day. Instead of a 55-60 minute drive, it will be 45-50 minutes. It's still long, but it shouldn't be as bad. We'll be just one mile from the Natcher Parkway. The neighborhood seems nicer than many of our other options, so I am happy with it. We move in January 7.

Hopefully we'll be buying our next home, but it will take us a while to save that down payment. We're still on baby step three. For now, we'll enjoy not having to mow.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


My Christopher is 30 years old today! I am now married to an old man! We celebrated by inviting his dad, stepmother and the little step brother and sister to church and lunch afterwards. It was a good time because church as awesome this morning and as usual, we all ate too much! Chris chose to eat at Mariah's because he was pretty sure his family hadn't ever been there. It was a good place for a birthday celebration. They even brought out a brownie ice cream dessert and didn't embarrass him with any singing.

After lunch we went back to the apartment for our annual cheesecake. Chris really likes cheesecake. He said when he was younger his mom would sometimes make him one for his birthday. Ever since we've been together, I've made him one for his birthday. This year, I decided to try to make turtle cheesecake. It was good, but because of the layer of caramel on top of the crust, it was a little bit hard to cut and eat. Note to self: Next time let the cake sit out for a bit before serving. Everyone said it was tasty, but we were all also still painfully full from lunch.

Chris is tuckered out now on the couch, resting for a bit before he gets back to work on his KTIP preparations. He has the rest of his first round of observations this week, so it's going to be a busy and stressful one for him. The people observing him all scheduled really close together, so he's had a hard time keeping his head above the water lately.  Teaching is tough, and when you add in all the KTIP work on top of that, it's even busier. Today was the break that I think he needed to become refreshed enough to finish this part of his semester.

This year's cheesecake creation:

Almost finished!

The birthday boy!

Monday, October 31, 2011

debt free

Chris and I payed our last student loan payment last week, which makes us debt free!

Becoming debt free is a goal that we've been working towards since we first got married. We set a goal a month after we got married to have the loans payed off in 3 years rather than 7-10 years. We knew that was a pretty big commitment, but we didn't care. Chris's student loans accumulated during his graduate program, and when we got married in October 2008, they were still in deferment for a month or two. Some of the student loans were from his undergraduate work, which he had already been paying on for a few years before we were married, but most of it was from his grad school. Overall, we payed off $37,011.76 in about 34 months.

Being newlyweds, recent graduates and just starting out in our careers, we found that $37,000+ daunting, but we also thought we should to start our marriage off with good financial habits. Pay off the debt first, then save for the house and more reliable cars. It must have been my parent's pushing me to follow Dave Ramsey's financial advice. Dad and I used to listen to his radio talk show when I was a teenager. He would always have it on when we rode around in his truck. Thankfully, because of that child-rearing, I was able to pay for college without taking any loans. I worked a lot.  Chris's parents also encouraged us to make the decision to get out of debt. I remember Chris's dad asking both of us to read Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey around the time we got married. If you've never listened to his talk show, read his books or seen his baby steps plan, check him out:

I would be lying if I said that we followed Ramsey's advice perfectly. We didn't. Neither of us was comfortable with only having a $1,000 emergency fund. We saved until we reached a more comfortable amount and then started tackling the loans harder. Otherwise, I'd say we stuck pretty close to Ramsey's advice.

These past 34 months have been a challenge, but they were also really fun. It was an awesome feeling to be working together as a team to achieve the same goal. Whenever we would reach a new milestone with the amount owed (less than $30,000, less than $20,000, less than $10,000, less than $5,000) we'd celebrate with high fives and hugs! The challenge got even greater when Chris suffered employment loss during a few of those months. We brought our aggressive payments down to the minimum during those 4-5 months. Once Chris became employed again as a substitute teacher, we brought it back and continued to chisel away at it until he became employed as a full-time teacher in August. At that point we just decided to squash it! We had originally planned a pay off in December, but the Lord blessed us with the ability to do that a couple months early!

Below are some tips on how to get debt free. These are the things that we found helpful:
1. First and foremost, create a budget in writing and stick to it. Every expense should be budgeted: gas, groceries, utilities, rent, church contributions, entertainment (dinner out, etc.)
2. Pay for things in cash every now and then. I don't do this enough, but it really makes you realize how much you are spending.
3. Give yourself a reasonable allowance for "extra" stuff. This should not be enough to cover Starbucks, lunch out and new clothes frequently. If you are able to make daily purchases such as these on your allowance, you're allowance is probably too much.
4. Drive your old car as long as possible. Though inconvenient, car repairs are generally cheaper than car payments.
5. Pay off your debt before you buy a house. Your expenses, such as utilities will be a lot lower, and your debt will come off easier.
6. Don't go to the movies. Get a Netflix subscription instead. With our $4.99 per month subscription, we're saving $15.50 every time we choose to watch at home instead of the movies.
7. Don't make frequent trips to the grocery store. If you make a list of essentials that cover, for example, two weeks worth of groceries, you are less likely to make impulse buys.
8. Don't order the filet and lobster combo. Choose modest, yet satisfying restaurant entrees. Skip the appetizers and desserts. Order water to drink- it's better for you anyway.
9. Put on a sweater when you are cold.  We usually don't turn our heat on until after Thanksgiving. Keep the house/apartment a snug 68 degrees in the winter and 76 in the summer. Just walk around bundled in the winter and half-naked in the summer, and you can be comfortable all year. We might have to rethink this plan after we start having children.
10. Make due with what you have when you can. In other words, learn how to make pinto beans and cornbread.

One last piece of advice that helped us was the advice to hide a note. I know this sounds insane, but once we had a plan to pay off our debt, we knew it would just be a matter of time. We wanted to make sure that we didn't lose focus though, so we took my sister, Jamie's advice. We hid a note in our Christmas tree box that says, "You're debt free!" We knew that accountability would either result in a feeling of disappointment if we hadn't done it yet or a feeling of joy and thanksgiving if we had. Let's just say we haven't "found" the note yet, but I can't wait to decorate for Christmas this year!

Friday, October 21, 2011

3rd anniversary

Last week my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  We gave each other small gifts and went to dinner at The Bistro, which was a treat. We normally don't spend so much on a night out, but it was a special occasion, so we thought, Why not? 

I am so thankful for the life we have built together so far, and I look forward to many more wonderful years together, full of life experiences both heartbreaking and joyous. We've been through so much in these first three years, and I honestly wouldn't trade any of it.  We've learned to always be on the same team and to help each other in any way possible. We've discovered that marriage is all about service - not just receiving but giving, and I have a feeling (and I hope that it's true) that we will continue to learn that over and over. 'For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'- Mark 10:45

I am truly blessed by the Lord. Only He could have paired us together so perfectly. I am grateful for a man that loves me so much. I certainly don't feel worthy of being treated with such care, but I will gladly take it!

On our Wedding Day, October 11, 2008:

On our Anniversary, October 11, 2011:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

new guitar

A couple of months ago Chris bought new solid wood guitar. It's a Martin, which I am told is a big deal. He says it's the nicest instrument he's ever owned.

For what reason did he buy a brand new, solid wood, and yes, moderately expensive guitar? The answer is- because of me and my big mouth. Two years ago he was complaining about not owning a "real guitar." He was joking about buying one and would always add it to his wishlist for Christmas, birthdays, etc. The problem was even though I wanted to, I didn't have the $1,000+ to buy him one out of my allowance. That's like two years worth of allowances... So I told him that if he got a permanent full-time job, teacher level or higher, we could afford to spare the $1,000 and he could buy himself something nice. It was a one time deal, an incentive for trying really hard to find more suitable employment (he was either at Rivendell or substitute teaching at the time) and for making use of that Master's degree in Teaching that cost us so much money to get.

Well....he did it! In August he began teaching full-time again, and it was time for me to put my money where my mouth was! Even though it hurt the pocketbook a little, I am proud of him, and I am glad he was able to get something nice that he has always wanted.

Friday, September 30, 2011


The university photographer at work came by my office today to show me what he found in the university photo archives.  It was this photo taken by the university student photographer at the time of WKU's 2007 Spring Commencement. It was May, 13, 2007.

I can't believe it's been over four years since I graduated from WKU. Now I work here, and I see students on campus every day. It doesn't seem that long ago at all that I was huffing and puffing up and down the Hill to get to classes and stressing over mid-terms.

Pictured are my PR buddies: Dara, Mary and Marilyn.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Penelope update

Penelope is six months old. She's getting big too. She now weighs 8.5 pounds! We got her fixed last Thursday. I picked her up from her overnight stay at the vet on Friday after work. She was kind of puny over the weekend, acting as though she was in some pain, but now she seems to be back to her normal self.

She has stitches all the way down her belly, and has to go back to the vet to have those removed next Monday. The vet said to keep her "quiet" for ten days: no barking, yelping, whining, running or jumping.  Has she met Penelope? The task is nearly impossible, especially now that she's feeling better, but we shall try our best to keep her "quiet" until the wound is healed.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

labor day weekend

Last weekend we got to see Chris' dad and stepmom. We hadn't seen them since Father's Day. I know, we're terrible children. We really do try to see family more frequently then once every ten weeks! We had a good time visiting a winery on Saturday night. There was food, wine and music- all of which was delicious.

Sunday we got to visit Grace Heartland Church, which was good since Chris has lots of friends there. It was nice to get to see everyone. They grabbed Chris at the door since they were short a bass player. He agreed to play. He said the first song was a disaster since he hadn't practiced with them, but the other songs went okay. After church we had lunch and took a road trip to Louisville to visit Guitar Center. Chris' dad had some potential business to attend to there, and he thought Chris would enjoy looking around. Chris had time to scope out his next potential instrument. He just got his solid wood guitar, so he has moved on to dreaming for a bass amp. 

Sunday night we visited some more over dinner and puppy time with Penelope and Dutch, and Chris and I drove back to Bowling Green later that night.

Monday I made a pot of pinto beans (yum!) and some cornbread, did laundry, and vegged out at home while Chris went to Spencer's Coffeehouse to get some planning and grading done. It seems his work as a teacher never ends. He's doing a great job, but between teaching, grading, planning, commuting, commitment to serve at church, an insane running schedule (he's still marathon training when he has time), and just everyday stuff that one is expected to accomplish, I can tell he is exhausted.

We had a nice relaxing weekend. It was my first Labor Day off in several years. The last three I worked the 5K Run for Sight since my last company, Downing-McPeak was always the title sponsor. Last year I had just left DMVC the week before to work for WKU, but I still volunteered to help them through the Run for Sight race. I have to say that I missed it a little this year. On the other hand, it was pouring down rain that morning, and it sure was nice to not have to get up at 5 a.m. to set up!

Some pictures from the weekend:
Sorry they are low res. They were taken with my iPhone.