Wednesday, August 26, 2009

the house talk and ode to a cozy apartment

so, mr. soup and I finally had "the house talk." we've had many house talks, but this one we actually discussed exactly where we both want to live, what type of house we want and how much we want to spend. Afterwards, we drove around the perspective neighborhoods to look at houses (so much fun by the way). However, the houses we want are way out of our price range, so any hope of moving at the end of this school year was shot. We are shooting for Spring '11. Our goal for this year is to aggressively save and pay off debts (credit cards and my car loan), so that we can get an affordable rate. We're still going to look at foreclosures too, but we want to prepare to pay the market-value for a good house.

Some things we both agreed on were that we do not want to move to the suburbs and by suburbs I mean far north like McKinney, Allen, etc. That's just not us. We do want to stay near the Richardson suburb area (I know Richardson is a suburb, but it's not a true suburb). We want to stay in the area in which we live now. Not the exact area, because the homes surrounding us are listed at half a million dollars (no joke), but there are some nearby that are less than half that price that we could afford. We live in an area that has excellent schools (for when/if Abby comes to live with us), great shopping (for me), and great restaurants (for all of us!). The homes are larger and older (most built in the 1960's) than most areas, so they have lots of character. Surprisingly, most of the homes have four bedrooms which is what we need if we're going to start a family in a few years.

So, since we're stuck here for a year and a half, I want to focus on the good things about our little apartment. I know I focus on how small and cramped we are, but it is pretty spacious considering what you get in apartments these days. Our apartment has more square feet than some homes. Our complex was built in the 1980's, so there aren't any cool architecture features. However, the bedrooms are large and we have tons of closets, cabinets and other storage features. We have so much storage, that when I moved stuff to prepare for my brother-in-law to move in, I didn't have to part with too many items; just a couple of shoes and a few shirts! We have wonderful vaulted ceilings and our apartment feels like a little cottage. It's so cozy! We live in an area that is safe! I never feel scared walking my dogs at night. Like I mentioned before we live near good shopping, restaraunts and schools.

Okay so other good news:

My hubby recieved a very generous stipend from his school! Woo-hoo! We're going to use part of it to buy a new laptop! Yay! So, now we just need to research what type of laptop we want to get! There are just too many out there and it's hard to decide what is best. Ugghh. We want a mac notebook and we found one for $929, so it's a little over what we wanted to spend, but I read it's a better investment in the long run!

I'm so proud of him for earning the stipend! He worked so hard last year and this summer and it really paid off!

I got my 2nd master's degree! This is my first degree with my maiden name and my married name on it (and probably my last degree!) Yes, that's right all four of my names are on my degree. In my heart I knew I couldn't leave one off because I started the degree with my maiden name and finished with my new name. I'm so glad to be done with the program. The 18 months went by fast, but they were definitely tough!

My brother-in-law is here! He flew in today! Yay!

Murad begins his internship tomorrow! We're getting so close to the light at the end of the tunnel! Yeah!

That's it for the Campbells!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School

Well, this is my last weekend before fully returning to the workforce. I actually went back to work on Tuesday (well actually the Thursday before if you really want to be technical), but my kiddos don't arrive until Monday. My room is awesome. Luckily in the spring, I had done a lot of spring cleaning, so when I came back, I had plenty of time to decorate. My goal this year was to make my classroom more learner-centered. So, this summer I collected a bunch of NY Times and Abby and I high-fived them (a strategy we teach our kids). I used that as the bulletin board background. I also hung up student-made posters on high-five, inference and other reading techniques. My friend Alissa went to the AVID conference this summer and one of the presenters said he requires two rules of his students: Listen with understanding and speak with good purpose. I made posters and put those up as well. And while they won't be my only rules, I want to focus on them. My student-desks are in pairs so that my students can pair-share or work in groups easily. I also removed all teacher-seats up front, so that I don't get in the habit of just sitting at the front of the room when we read. My desk is in the back of the room (not my choice, but due to technology requirements), so I never have had the option of sitting back there. I plan to be up and all over them (in a good teacher way, not gross way).
I'm really excited about this school year. Last year was a good school year, but I think I kind of shut down emotionally at times. I had a lot of highs and lows in my personal life (my cousin's death, depression, marriage) and I struggled with how to make sense of my emotions and support my students at the same time. I really want my students to feel comfortable in my class and like they have support from not only me, but from each other. Like a little family. maybe I'm being idealistic, but I can try!
I have lots of changes this school year:
new name: I'm no longer Miss W, but now I'm Mrs. Soup! I don't know how I feel about Mrs. It makes me feel old. When I see the word Mrs, I just think of an old lady. I'm very far from old. However, I am excited to have Soup stuff all over my classroom!
less responsibilities: I'm excited just to be a teacher! I'm not on every darn committee! I really hope to build the Student Assistance Team program and of course make my classroom a rockin' place to be! Oh and when I go home, I no longer have a wedding to plan or grad school assignments to complete.
new car: Well not really. Murad bought a new car last fall and I'm going to drive it this school year. My car seems to be a hypochondriac. Anytime I repair something, something else is in need of repair. Murad doesn't want me to drive my car right now, so he offered to switch cars for the school year. I think he really just wants the sun-roof.

new roommate: Well, today I am cleaning, doing laundry and organizing. Murad's brother flies in on Wednesday. Murad doesn't think he'll stay long, but nevertheless we are beginning to outgrow our little apartment. If his brother is here next summer, we'll have four people (Abby) plus two dogs. Even if he isn't, we'd like to have an extra guest room and really let Abby have her own room so that we can entertain more people. We're kind of stuck because our lease is up in May, but neither of us don't think we'll be ready to buy until May 2011. We could rent a house or duplex, but a lot them are more expensive than a monthly mortgage. So, we're stuck. We're 90% sure we're going to stay in this area after Murad finishes his MSW and we know we'd like to live in West Richardson, but we still need to save. I guess it wouldn't be bad to buy sooner, but we'd really have to get on the ball! I've really been slacking on all things related to the wedding. I still haven't hung up our broom nor have I begun to pick out pictures for our album. I planned to do it in the summer, but I just didn't want to do it. I finally got some wedding pictures ordered and put up. I love looking at them and remembering the first day of our lives as a married couple. I just hate doing the work to get stuff up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Family of the Future

So Monday the Soup Family had photos taken in downtown McKinney. Check out our photographer's blog for a sneak peak!

Growing up was always so difficult because my family was so different. Well, actually we weren't that different. We were pretty typical. Dad. Mom. Sister. Brother. Dog. A couple of fish here and there. However, there were a few atypical features about my family. My parents had this pseudo-soccer mom/suburban father persona. However, they were pretty much former hippies. They deny it, but I'd probably blush if I knew about their lives prior to having a family. My dad is ten years older than my mom. Coincidentally since my mom's parents were teen parents, my dad is only 6 and 8 years younger than his in-laws. My dad's parents were older parents (my grandfather was almost 50 and my grandmother 30 when my dad was born) and could've parented and possibly grandparented my maternal grandparents. My mom was also the main breadwinner in the family. At one point, my dad was a stay-at-home dad when we were really young. And finally, the most obvious difference in our family compared to others. My dad is black and my mom is white.

Growing up was a little lonely. We never saw families like ours on television. Until we reached middle school there were no mixed students in our class me. People stared anytime we went out as a family and especially when we were alone with either parent. I had a few mixed family members growing up though, so that helped. As a child though, I never could visualize what my family would look like. I remember my mom telling me she always knew she was going to have black children because when she was a child she had a dream about a black baby. When I closed my eyes, I couldn't visualize any family for myself.

In November, when Barack Obama was elected president, it not only marked a change because he became the first black president, but because he is a mixed race person. Murad's geology professor told him he believes in the next 2,000 years there will be one race. As it is already, mixed race families are increasing.

I am proud to say that my new family is one of them! Not only do we embrace many ethnicities, but also different cultures as well. My husband comes from a Muslim family. On his father's side they are Sunni Muslim (with whom my husband identifies more). On his mother's side they are Nation of Islam. In addition, there are many on both sides who identify as Christian, as well. The majority of my family is Christian and in my immediate family we were raised Lutheran-ELCA. Luckily, my stepdaughter is also Lutheran-Missouri Synod. Despite our differences, I think we show others that God loves all His children equally. We are all children of God. We fully embrace our religious upbringings and support each other as we seek to strengthen our relationship with God.

I bring a myriad of cultures to the table. My dad's family is from Florida, and we have Irish, Jamaican and Seminole heritages. On my mother's side we have English, Irish, German and Cherokee (WASP mutt). Murad's mother's side is mostly Moorish-American (first blacks in the new world). His paternal grandmother was from Santo Domingo, DR (where we are going for our honeymoon...well not Santo Domingo, but Punta Cana, DR). Our sweet, little Abby brings a strong Irish heritage (she has red hair) from her mother's side of the family.

I truly think we are the family of the future. Blended, changing, colorful, spirtual, connected, real, and most importantly, BEAUTIFUL! I'm glad I couldn't visualize my family because it's better than I could've ever expected!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes on the way to a dream, you get lost and find a better one...

I've posted this quote before, but I think it adequately sums up my life. I'm posting it again. Right now Murad and I have some pretty exciting things happening in our lives that we never expected.

Abby---we never thought we'd get to spend this much time with her and we are truly enjoying our last few days of summer with her. I hope this opens up more opportunities for us in the future. I never thought I would embrace being a mother like I did. Having her at my side each day has been so much fun! With each day, I'm inching closer to wanting a baby. I love our little family of three. We are very complete! However, I can't wait to give Abby little brothers and sisters.

new roommate---Murad's brother is going to move in with us! I'm so excited because this will help us save money and I think it will be so much fun to have a roommate! I'm excited for him to get here in two weeks. I didn't think I'd want a rooommate after getting married, but I truly am excited about this!

new school year---this summer has been nice and relaxing (well besides the 3 weeks of summer school and helping Murad study) I was able to write and read daily. I spent mucho time at the pool and frequented Sonic for cool beverages. I feel refreshed and ready for the school year. I've also cut some responsibilities so I can focus more on student success. I'm no longer the NJHS co-sponsor. I'm no longer a formal mentor (the grant ran out). I won't have graduate school or wedding planning waiting for me at home either.

new hobbies---it's funny how my new hobbies are all health related now. I think this has to do with becoming a step-mother. One thing I did this summer was make sure I cooked a lot more. We significantly cut eating out and fast food. I also made it my mission to cook more vegetarian meals and infuse more vegetables into meat dishes. I absolutely love finding new recipes to cook for my family. Growing up I hated cooking. Anyone who knows me from college knows that a. I only cooked casseroes b. I ate out a lot c. I microwaved a lot. While I still love to make casseroles because they're cost efficient and easy, I've expanded my range. I've become a collector of recipes and enjoy trying new things. So different from the Ash in college!

new dreams---The recession has forced me to deal with a lot of things through writing. I hope to write more and inspire peope. I think I'm going to attempt to publish them too.
Murad has been reading more on the Ph.D process and is rethinking his desire to pursue it right away. There are a lot of Ph.D students in psychology who have let him know about their experience. A lot of frustation concerning the amount of time in the program (5-6 years) only to make half of what a MD or lawyer makes especially with the economy the way it is, lots of emphasis on research and getting published. I know a lot of the reason he wanted the degree is to be a doctor. And honestly, I think he'll still pursue the degree, but not right away. He can get an MSW in less than half the time and do private practice therapy as well. His internship this fall in medical social work will also open up a lot of doors for us. So, we won't be leaving Dallas anytime soon. In fact, it may be that Dallas will remain our permanent home. The other day Murad goes, "I feel like I wanted to pursue this Ph.D but God was constanty leading me towards social work." So true. I told him not to give up the Ph.D In fact, UNT has a Ph.D counseling psychoogy program with an emphasis in sports psychology. With all the athletic training he's done with Abby this summer, he'd be perfect for it. So we'll see. So we're staying for a while!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Abby's rendition of Teen Witch!

So, since Murad and I are young parents, we like to do stupid stuff like make our daughter learn 80's and 90's rap and movie quotes. Fortunately, Abby loves it (probably because movies today suck!) I think Abby will be a musical genius, so why not exploit her. Just kidding! okay maybe not!

money highs and money lows

so I wrote a post earlier, but when I read it I felt as though I was trying to get people to feel sorry for me. I'm not trying to do that. So, here are my money highs and lows:

-having more money in savings--I have more money in savings than before, but I've had to dip into it for emergencies (vet bills, etc...)
-I'm such a bargain shopper and each week I spend less and less at the grocery store! Yeah!
-We rarely eat-out. We did this at first to help Abby lose weight, but now we don't eat out at all! Okay, not quite, I've cut out fast food for the summer and we've only gone out to eat at sit-down restaurants 3 times with Abby! Woo-hoo for $$ (and calories) saved.
-awesome photography find. I found a photographer who is going to take our family pictures next week for $75! Murad and I wanted to get family photos taken, but our budget only allowed us to afford Sears or Target quality pictures. However, I found this guy and he is going to do our family photos in downtown McKinney next week. Check out his work!

-not saving and using my savings! I need to keep some money in there for our honeymoon. Murad keeps telling me not to worry and that we will not sacrifice our honeymoon, but I can't help but worry. It's in my nature. I am glad we have it though. If we could put more in it each month, I'd sleep a little better.
-not having our debt paid off. Again, my worrying takes over. Once Murad starts working with his degree we can aggressively pay off debt and save for a home/family. Right now we're stuck doing what we can. At least we are making it and not going under. At least we aren't using credit cards anymore. After we pay it off we only want to have student loans, a mortgage and his car as debt.

as I make this list. I realize my highs outweigh my lows. I realize I am not as bad with money as I think. I know it's hard living off of one salary (and maybe a half salary or a quarter salary), but it will all be worth it. Even when we have more money, we'll be used to being poor. So, at this time I'm thankful for being poor!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't Shave Your Beard, Eric

"Don't shave your beard, Eric."
is what my wife says to me.

I obey.
The calendar in his room still says May.
The senior trip his come and gone.
Prom is done.

"Don't shave your beard, Dad, " he whispers.
"Please don't forget me."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Blow

The fresh, green dew
that was you
is no longer here.

What happened that hour?
What happened that minute that you
decided to go?
One Blow

Meltwater flows off the glaciers
evidence of sunshine in different ways.
Emerging theories
discoveries in science
transforming techniques in therapy
occur everyday.

You did not know.
You will not know.
One Blow

I've started writing poetry again. I used to write all the time in high school and college. this one I wrote today as I was sitting outside. thinking about my cousin. I watched a documentary on suicide the other day. The mother of the 15 year old boy who committed suicide said that she was in a state of disbelief that this was her life. She couldn't believe that time didn't stand still and she thought of all the things he missed out on since he died. I feel the exact same way. I can't believe this is my life. I can't believe he's gone. I can't believe all that he's missed. I keep thinking that he saw Obama get elected, but didn't see him get inaugurated. not that he cared or that he voted for him or maybe he did, but it's just the fact that he's not here. it still hurts now.