There's a poodle among us

Saturday, August 30, 2008

We our keeping Tom's parents' dog while they're on vacation. He's a white poodle puppy named Push. He's actually adorable! He walks like his back legs are a lot longer than his front. He knows what "no" means, and he's crate trained. So far it's going pretty well. We're also using this as a trial to see how we (including Sasha) would like having an extra dog.

I know the pictures aren't great, but this dog doesn't sit still for long!

Sunday Afternoon Update:
This dog is a maniac! He has endless energy, and he bounds around like Tigger instead of walking. Our poor animals don't know what to do with all that excitement. Goku hangs out on the couch with an alarmed look on his face, and Puddin', who always looks alarmed, looks outright panicked. And Sasha is a sad case. She mopes around with her ears back and her head down and hides in the corner waiting quietly for Tom to give her attention. Push is very cute and lovable though. He is so clumsy and runs into the wall all the time. He always steps on my feet when he's trying to walk with me. He's a pleasant enough visitor, really drooly though.

Ooooh yay

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I've been itching to go to a concert lately (other than Jonas Bros), so I've been surfing around every week or so trying to find a decent show. This is no easy task when trying to satisfy both mine and Tom's tastes in music. I'm a little bit country, he's a little bit rock and roll. Not really, but whatever, our tastes differ. We share fanship of the Misfits and got to see them last day-before-Thanksgiving in Dallas. And lo and behold, they're coming here again, day-before-Thanksgiving! Woot!

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, and I'm not afraid to tell you that, because last year, I made Tom stay up til midnight thinking that seats would sell out immediately. We were the only ones to buy seats that night. LOL There are only a few seats at the Granada and they are all on the second level. We had two right in front. It was perfect - close to the bar and great view of the shenanigans happening on the floor. Last year, I really liked the opening bands. When the Misfits came on, they would let people climb up on stage and jump off, but then they started staying too long, and the lead singer guy (I should know his name...) would just push them off. It was amusing. Clint went down there and I kept waiting for him to get on stage, but he never did. It will be a moment of glory indeed if he gets up there this year.

Last year it was freakin' cold. Isn't it encouraging to know we're looking at cooler weather sometime in the next few months?!?

More fun than you'll have on the internet all year

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 FUN! Sorry these aren't in any order!

Tom 1990

Tom 1994

Tom 1998

Tom 1978

Tom 1980

Tom 1974

Tom 1982

Tom 1984

Amber 1990

Amber 1994

Tom 1950 hahaha!

Tom 1960

Tom 1974

Amber 1964

Amber 1966

Amber 1982

Amber 1986

Amber 1990

Knock on wood

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I didn't do anything stupid in my classes today. The last two semesters, I went to a wrong class on the first day of school. LOL I didn't today. I am pretty happy with my classes so far. I still have one more I haven't been to yet, I'll go tomorrow night. No research papers yet! I know there is a research paper for my "experimental methods" class, but the whole semester is a progression toward the final product. I have abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, the psychology of marital adjustment (LOL), experimental methods, and an intro to special ed. Anyway, I am impressed I didn't do anything dumb today, I met some people, and there is even another McNair scholar in one of my classes. *thumbs up*

The can-can

I am planning a big canning adventure coming up the weekend of Sharkathon. Which, BTW, is a man trip. Tom feels guilty when I talk about this, but I think it's hilarious, so here it is. Last year, all guys went to Sharkathon. This year, I was planning to go along with some other females, but we figured we would stay home and do something more civilized. Well, here's what happened:

Tom: Amber, look, Sharkathon has a women's division this year!
Me: Cool! ..... Maybe I should go.
Tom: Yeah, you could go.
Me: Would you yak my baits out if it's too wavy for me?
Tom: *sigh* Yeah, yeah.
Me: (exit Tom's office, go into mine, and proceed to get excited about Sharkathon)

Later that day...

Me: I'm really excited about Sharkathon.
Tom: I want you to understand that we're going to be on "guy time".
Me: ???
Tom: Well, we aren't going to be on a schedule. So if things aren't planned out the way you want, you can't be upset.
Me: What do you mean?
Tom: I mean, we're not going to have a schedule, and I know you like a schedule.
Me: Well, isn't there a time you have to check in, and a time you have to submit your entries, etc? What other schedule could there be?
Tom: I'm gonna need to make sure it's OK with the guys if you come.
Me: (completely offended, huffing and puffing, I head to the kitchen)

So I decided that I would not go ANYWHERE I needed PERMISSION to be. LOL! So I am not going to Sharkathon this year, but I will be doing some canning.

Which brings me to the topic at hand. What would you can if you were pretty sure you wouldn't have time to can anymore until the semester is over, but were planning to commit a whole weekend to it?

I'm thinking salsa, pickled okra, and more peppers. But I want to do something sweet too. Maybe a pie filling or cheesecake topping. Because something like jam or apple butter is just begging to be put on a non-South Beach friendly piece of bread.

Blog spotlight and being a real college student

I talk "Kalyn's Kitchen" all the time, but if you find education interesting, Joanne Jacobs' blog (in the list to the right) is an easy, enlightening read. She posts news links relating to education, sums it up in her blog, sometimes makes a wise comment or two, and that's that. I find that I never avoid her blog because I can read it with minimal brain power, and I don't know how she leans politically, but I tend to agree with her opinions.

I'm still at two jobs. It's getting old. I am being such a turd about it too. I know I owe my old boss big time for being such a great boss, but I'm tired of being pulled in so many directions. Like today, if I had worked, I would've only had two productive hours until I had to go to class. It wouldn't have been worth much. She left it up to me, so I stayed home. I might go in Friday, but again, I'll have to leave early for a meeting at school at 3pm. Anyone want an easy temporary part-time job??

Today, though, I feel like a "real" college student. I slept in til 7:30, with no alarm waking me up! My classes don't start til 12:30. I'm drinkin' coffee, laying on the couch, and I watched Saved by the Bell (now I'm watching the news). I'm sure this "real" college student thing will get old, as I have class until 9 tonight. LOL Oh well, I love night classes. Not because they're at night, but because they're 3 hours long and only meet once a week. LOVE it.

Could my schedule be better though? Work 8-5 Mon, class 12:30-3:20, 6-9pm Tue, work 8-5 Wed, class 6-9, class 12:30-6 Thursday, and nothing on Fridays except a monthly McNair meeting. Not bad!

I saw Mamma Mia twice this weekend. It's THAT good. I think the last movie (and maybe the only other movie) I saw twice in the theater was Spiderman II. Mamma Mia is adorable and hilarious.

Tom left for Amarillo today. They'll spend the night, finish getting stuff out of grandma's house, and turn over the key to the real estate agent so we can rent that baby out. And I'll be all lonely here in this house with the animals.

So that's what's up with me. Have a great week!

Why I love the South Beach diet

Friday, August 22, 2008

Well, this is sort of in response to a question from a long-time online buddy of mine, Kim, who lives in New Orleans and asked me if South Beach was as easy as I made it seem. I can't vouch for its ease if I lived in the French Quarter where food really is part of the culture, with eccentric eateries on every block. But, here's a little more about our experience and pitfalls thus far.

Have you ever tried a low carb diet? I tried Atkins once, and I literally felt like a sausage after the first couple of days. I ate so much MEAT! I won't claim to know about Atkins because I probably wasn't doing it right, but I love that I can eat lots of veggies on the South Beach diet. Technically, it's not a low-carb diet, it's a low-glycemic diet, so most of the foods on the "don't eat" list are there because they change your blood sugar and make you crave more bad food. Healthy stuff like corn, carrots, and watermelon are on the bad list. Sometimes, I'll notice the sugar levels in some of the good food, like cabbage, and panic for a minute thinking I've been sabotaging myself this whole time. But cabbage is on the list, and I can eat as much as I want. Trust the book, not the labels.

I would suggest starting the diet on a Friday evening, or sometime when you have a couple of days to lounge around. Our bodies were a little pissed about the sugar deprivation, and we didn't hesitate to lounge around the whole weekend as our bodies adjusted. It would've been harder at work. Once you get through it though, you're fine! About day 3, we were totally adjusted.

I make something for breakfast on the weekends. Check out Kalyn's Kitchen (link to the right in my blog list), and navigate to her breakfasts. There are plenty of options there. I am a little egged out by now, but if I just prepare them a different way, it helps. I made her egg muffins for a few weeks in a row, but now I think I'll just cook up an egg casserole and cut a piece out in the mornings, because it's a little easier than the muffins. Now that we are on "phase 2", I switch up breakfast a little with South Beach bars about every other day. This doesn't seem to have affected my results.

You're supposed to cut back on caffeine, but I shamelessly drink it up. I read that the reason is, caffeine makes you crave more sweets. But I was doing fine even with the caffeine, so I allow myself to have my thermos of coffee with sugar-free creamer, my diet DP, and my splenda-sweetened tea. I might quit caffeine one day, but not in school. LOL

After the first two weeks, "Phase 1", we celebrated with a bottle of wine, and I felt exhausted the next day. I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Getting out of the swing of drinking wine regularly is probably the best benefit for us so far. We feel better, enjoy the extra energy, and don't feel so much like drinking. Does that mean that I'm not going to sneak mini-bottles of wine into the theater when I finally see Mamma Mia? No, but we definitely don't drink regularly anymore.

You might feel hungry. Even after I eat, I have this feeling like my stomach is having to eat itself. I suppose I want my stomach to eat my body! The feeling doesn't make you want to eat though. I can't explain it. It's a skinny feeling. It makes me feel like drinking water and exercising. It's this feeling of not having eaten so much that you're miserable.

That's not to say that you can't eat as much as you want though. As long as I am eating South Beach food, I'll let myself eat as much as I want. I want less though. You can find us on a weeknight struggling to finish one grilled pork chop and a salad with fresh veggies. Seriously. When we used to shake n' bake em, we could put away 2 chops or more along with some instant taters.

Like any diet, we struggle when we are unprepared. The week that followed our camping weekend was difficult because I hadn't done any grocery shopping or meal planning. I just had to go to the grocery store on my way home a few days to keep us in business. But we got right back on the saddle this week no problem.

Being at school isn't a struggle because I can eat salads from Chick-fil-a or wherever. I try to pack my lunch as much as possible, mostly because I'd rather work through lunch. And when you're done with Phase 1, you can pick the carbs that are important to you and add em back. We had whole wheat pasta one day, but I made sure to only cook 2 servings of it, when in the past we would have cooked the whole box. We are having burgers tonight in whole wheat pitas instead of buns. You can make ranch dip and have a "veggie tray", which is always delicious and you don't have to feel bad when you dip as much ranch possible onto the tinest veggie piece you can find.

When have we cheated? We had rum and tortilla chips on our camping trip, we had a fried ice cream blast from Sonic one day (which we'll probably have again tonight!), we had potatoes at my boss' birthday party the other night. It's not that we aren't indulging, it's just that most of the time we don't want to. And the thought of "earning a cheat" isn't what keeps me motivated, it's the fact that I'm losing weight and fitting into my clothes.

So anyway, I think it's been about 5 weeks and we're still going strong. Whether it's easy or not I guess is subjective, but we are definitely loving it and would highly recommend it.

Irrational peeve...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The State Farm Insurance commercial with the career girl in the airport. "I'm at the intersection of my inbox is out of control and haven't had a day off since the third grade." So take a day off! I don't feel sorry for her. She's not too busy to shop for car insurance, she's just a maniac that doesn't take advantage of her time off. She probably lets it expire every year and comes to work sick and gets everyone else sick. Weirdo. I get that she's being facitious, but something about that irritates the snot out of me. The other thing about it is, "the third grade". How about just third grade? It doesn't have to be "THE third grade". I knew it drove me nuts, but then I just read "the third grade" on someone's myspace survey and got unbelievably annoyed.

I warned you, it's irrational.

I'm a sleepy girl

Monday, August 18, 2008

So I'm going to sleep right after this.

Some devil brought moonshine to my boss' birthday party. It was baaaad news for me. But the party was fun, the band was pretty good, and I think my boss had a good time, so we'll call it a success. I had enough margaritas so I didn't mind taking pictures, which I told Jamie I would do. I texted her a little bit Sunday but haven't talked to her yet to get her side of the story. We haven't been drinking at all on the South Beach diet, or having much sugar, so you can imagine how hard those margaritas hit us. :-S We really like not drinking but I guess it'll take some retraining on our limits when we do indulge!

Today, all the faculty members at work (at school) came back, and they had a huge meeting for the whole college of ed. The office was crazy busy, I hope that's just a beginning of the semester thing because it's hard to concentrate on work with all the interesting conversations I could overhear. People aren't afraid to talk about other people. Whew! I have noticed that the higher ranked profs gossip less (if at all) and are very diplomatic and professional to everyone even if someone comes into their office steaming mad. I am taking notes.

My nephew called us yesterday and sounded really bummed. As I think most people in his situation would be. First he called me a few times but I didn't recognize the number and didn't answer, then he called Tom and Tom talked to him. He called me later that night. I hadn't talked to him since June and I didn't really know what to say without sounding like a parent. The obvious is, "What the heck are you thinking?!?!" But knowing he doesn't know the answer to that (I hated that question from my parents!), what am I left with? I asked him how it was going, which was such a dumb question because I know how it's going. He said he hates it at his dad's, and I tried to encourage him to behave and be patient. Behave, I hate that word too. I just wish he can find a way to be motivated to do good instead, for the lightbulb to turn on so he'd realize that the way he's going isn't working. But he knows that, I think maybe he just doesn't know how to break those habits.

So, I had spent a long time worried about him, Tom and I reached out to him and didn't hear from him, so I kinda felt good knowing we had done what we could, but now I'm back to worrying again. But I'm really glad he called because I feel better knowing he can get in touch with us if he's stuck. When he ran away, I wished he knew our numbers and knew he didn't.

And that's been my Sunday and Monday. Hope everyone's week is off on the right foot!

I forgot why I started the last blog in the first place!

Friday, August 15, 2008

We saw Tropic Thunder today! OMG, if you like offensive humor, this is a GREAT movie. Anything that makes me laugh until I cry is pretty valuable to me, and this did it once. I laughed through the whole thing though. Robert Downey, Jr. was amazing! He's the one that had me rolling through the whole thing. Tom Cruise's performance is hilarious. If you're sensitive to offensive humor, save your money. If not, go now!


Well, you know we had a great camping trip, so I'll go from there.

I still LOVE my new job! And I still feel a tiny bit guilty for leaving my current job (we're still trying to find another me) and loving my new job so much more. But it's just so awesome to get paid for what I'm doing now. I learn a dozen new things everyday I'm there. And I'm going to go ahead and jinx myself by putting it in writing. The International Association for Special Education conference is in Alicante, Spain next July, and I'm on the list to go. I'm not letting myself get excited until I have a plane ticket, but the fact that I'd even be considered is pretty mind blowing. San Diego in April, Ecuador in May, and Spain in July are all on the roster. Yes, please! I am hooked up with the traveling-est professor ever.

Can you believe school starts next Monday the 25th?????? Did school ever end???? LOL I just finished my poster this week for a presentation September 5th. It was exactly as my advisor said: "The poster will be as hard as you make it" and "The poster will take longer than you think." I could have spent DAYS trying different designs in it. As it is, I stuck with one design pretty much from the beginning, and it was still very time consuming. But it's done and it feels great to be freeeee of the poster!

Tomorrow is my boss Jamie's 40th birthday party. I am excited! Tom and I are going to run some errands for her tomorrow, like get the liquor and the cake. She has a live band coming, a margarita machine, and a crab boil catered by Fish City. Mmmmmm! I think it'll be a great party. Then Sunday, I'm going to crawl out of bed and go visit my grandma. I need to visit her and there is never a good time, so I am biting the bullet! I loooove my grandma.

How about that long rain this morning? The thunder scared me awake, but I went back to sleep and ended up hitting the snooze button until 8, deciding that laying in bed listening to that awesome heavy rain was worth far more than a shower before a half-day at work. And the cooler temps? Oh yeah! I hope they aren't joking about another good rain next week.

Ray Roberts

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Had a GREAT weekend at the Isle du Bois branch of Ray Roberts State Park. We were supposed to leave Wednesday, but Tom wasn't feeling well, so we headed out about noon on Thursday. I took a nap that afternoon, ate dinner, and sipped on some rum and Sprite Zero while Tom threw a lure in the water. It was so peaceful and relaxing.

Danyelle, Reade, and Miranda arrived Friday about 10:30am. Tom and Reade fished a bit, and for most of the afternoon, we drank a bit and played ladder ball. We discovered this game at our 4th of July trip. There are two ladders with 3 tiers, and you throw these balls-on-a-string at the ladders trying to wrap the balls around one of the rungs. The higher the rung, the more points you get. It's fun. We also swam in the lake right at our campsite. The bottom was sandy and smooth, not at all creepy and mysterious.

Saturday, the guys did some more fishing, I bought some groceries at an interesting Pilot Point grocery store with a lot of expired food on the shelves, and Danyelle and Miranda slept in. I made some stuffed jalepenos, then we went to swim at the actual swim beach. It's really nice. Lots of kids were making sand castles. The water felt great, and the boats in the lake brought us some light waves. That evening, Reade grilled burgers, I made up a veggie tray, and we watched the UFC fights. Having satellite in the camper is one of the greatest conveniences ever. I know we would never go camping otherwise because Tom would miss his SciFi shows on Friday nights. LOL The fights were good. The burgers were amazing. Of course, they were South Beach friendly with whole wheat pitas.

Today, we slept in a bit and packed up. Danyelle and Reade found out Ginger was missing. Prudie went to feed her last night and saw her, but she wasn't there this morning. :-( I hope they find her. I feel terrible for them, especially Miranda. They just lost a kitty last week when she got hit by a car.

In other news, Miranda was hilarious all weekend long, capped off by her crazy dancing last night. I was cracking up. She starts FOURTH grade this year. School starts in two weeks, BTW. :-S

Jon & Kate plus 8

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Does anyone else watch this on TLC? I love it! I accidentally watched it one night when it came on after something else I was watching. Those kids are addicting and adorable. On one hand, it's like, why would you put your kids on TV like that? But ultimately, good for them for finding a way to afford 8 kids! I mean, she stays home. Can you imagine? 10 people on one salary? Bring in the cameras!

The other thing is, they have their "real" moments where they're totally frustrated, or they pick on each other. I can't help but wonder how Tom and I would hold it together with 8 kids. We pick on each other sometimes, but never quite as bad as them, and I wonder how we would do in a situation like that. Like right now, they're talking about how Jon asked Kate if the stick was out, refering to a stick in her butt. LMAO I would be scared to yell at Tom because I wouldn't want him to start yelling at me. I guess all that goes out the window when kids are involved.

Anyway, give it a shot if you haven't, it's a cute show.

A yummy South Beach dessert

Well, we have some serious sweet tooths in our house, and that was probably the hardest thing about South Beach so far. Except it wasn't hard. We could eat sugar free popscicles, and that was working fine for us. But, I did find a recipe that is South Beach friendly, and it is a great indulgence for us now!

8 oz. tub sugar free Cool Whip
1/2 cup peanut butter (we got all natural that's just peanuts and salt, because we can have peanuts)
sugar free chocolate syrup

Mix together the Cool Whip and peanut butter. Now, the original recipe (I can't remember where I got it, I just googled South Beach desserts) said to put this stuff in muffin cups in a muffin tin. I just put it in 2 gladware containers (the square ones), and we cut out pieces when we're ready. Drizzle the peanut butter stuff with the chocolate syrup, and keep it in the freezer til you want to eat it. It's REALLY good!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I have officially lost 10 lbs. :-)

Parmasan Crusted Tilapia: The most delicious fish I've ever cooked

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Oh. My. Gosh. I don't normally do well cooking fish. I try to grill it or something, then it falls apart, and it still tastes fishy no matter what I do. But I had some tilapia that was on sale at Albertsons, so I consulted Kalyn's Kitchen, which is my #1 resource for South Beach friendly recipes.

Well, I didn't read her recipe very well. I did use the powdery parmasan from the can, and I did use Miracle Whip instead of real mayo.

Anyway, I used McCormick Grill Mates Seafood Rub. I forgot to check the carbs before I bought it. It did have 1 gram of sugar carbs per serving, but I figured, we're eating fish and artichokes, so a little sugar carb isn't going to kill us here. I rubbed it on both sides of the fish while my skillet was heating. Added olive oil to the pan and cooked those on medium high about 3 minutes on each side. Don't move them once you put them in the pan! The rub makes a sort of crust itself when it cooks and gets all crunchy. It smelled heavenly.

Meanwhile, I started my broiler on high and covered a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with olive oil cooking spray. I got my Miracle Whip and parmasan out of the fridge. I put my almost-done fish on the baking sheet and coated the top with a little Miracle Whip (this is kinda tricky because the mayo melts and it's hard to get a good even coat, but don't stress). Then I covered each one with a good layer of parmasan and patted it down with my fingers to make sure it was sort of even. It took about 4 minutes under the broiler, and the parmasan was golden brown and delicious.

It was the best fish I have ever cooked.

In other news, I went through my closet last night looking for clothes to try on. I am not back to my summer 2005 size yet, but definitely summer 2006. Sweet, huh? I had two pairs of fishing-type pants, one that I got on clearance at Academy, and one I ordered on Steep and Cheap. I could wear neither even when I bought them. I can wear them BOTH now! I'm also fitting into a lot of my shorts again. There's nothing worse than too-tight shorts. Our guts are almost entirely flat. Tomorrow is our 2 week mark. :-)

Really helpful advice

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I was getting kind of stressed out last year, and my advisor in the McNair program gave me advice that I have used over and over since then. "Put out the hottest fire first." Simple right? Do what needs to be done first, then move on. I always overcomplicate things. For example, last week I panicked looking at my to-do list. I had a poster due, some important assignments due in my research class, and this psychology class I'm taking online. My instinct is to work on the hardest things first (like cook dinner in the morning so all I have to do is scramble eggs later sort of mentality), but really, if I just finish them in the order they're due, it's so much easier. Here I am, smooth sailing through those psychology assignments because I made sure I didn't have anything else to do during this time. Sure, I only have 3 days to finish them all, but I'm done with everything else, so it's totally attainable. And so much better than trying to do 9 things at once.

I'm quitting school to pursue modeling!

J/K But do check out She did our engagement pictures last fall (including the one you have to look at everytime you come here), and she has a snazzy new website. I was flattered that she used some of our pictures on there, but really, she's a great photographer and I can't believe she was able to make me and Tom look so good! We are planning to schedule another session with her this fall, something we can bring Sasha too.

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