Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cost of Raising a Child

I saw this on another mom's blog and stole it! This nearly brought me to tears (let's be honest, it doesn't take much) My heart swells with joy each time I think of my little Baby Soup! I never thought I could love someone who I haven't even met. To me, no cost could amount to joy I feel each and everyday when I think about my baby.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and cam up with $160,140.00 for a middle income family. Talk about price shock! And that doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140.00 isn't so bad when you break it down.

It translates into:
$8,896.66 a year
$741.38 a month
$171.08 a week
A mere $24.24 a day
Just over a dollar an hour

Still you might think the best financial advice is: Don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it's just the opposite.
What do you get for $160,140.00?
Naming rights. First, Middle, and Last
Glimpses of God every day
Giggles under the covers every night
More love than your heart can hold
Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs
Endless wonder over rock, clouds, ants, and warm cookies
A hand to hold usually covered with jelly or chocolate
A partner for blowing bubbles and flying kites
Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what your boss had to say or how your stock performed that day.

For $160,400.00 you never have to grow up. You get to:
Finger Paint
Carve pumpkins
Play hide-and-seek
Catch lightning bugs
Never stop believing in Santa Clause

You have an excuse to:
Keep reading The Adventures of Piglet and Pooh
Watch Saturday morning cartoons
Go to Disney movies
And wish on Stars

You get to frame rainbows, hearts and flowers under refrigerator magnets, and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backwards letters for Father's Day.

For a mere $24.24 a day there's no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero for just:

Retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof
Taking the training wheels off a bike
Removing a splinter
Filling a wadding pool
Coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and
Coaching a baseball team that never wins, but always get treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat in history to witness the:

First step,
First word,
First bra,
First date,
First time behind the wheel

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits. So one day, like you, they will love without counting the costs. That is quite a deal for the price!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Campbell Creations



I broke out the Cricut tonight. I must confess that since getting married I've had very little interest in making paper announcements. I didn't even make Christmas cards this year. However, I made some cute paper stuff for Baby Soup. In a few short weeks, we find out whether we're having a boy or girl. Aren't these cute?
So Mr. Soup and I decided on Joel for a boy and Lena/Lina for a girl. We're still deciding on the spelling for Lena/Lina. Feel free to vote on your favorite. I'll give you a little low-down on both names. While they're pronounced the same way, they are actually two different names. According to Behind the Name:
Lena - is a form of Helen(a). It is commonly used in Scandinavian, Russian, Italian cultures and other European cultures. It
Lina - means "palm tree" or "tender" in Arabic
we picked the name Lena/Lina because it is a classic girl name, but we also chose it because it fits our criteria of being culturally and religiously significant.
Mr. Soup and I both decided on this when picking names:
Religious Significance - our kids will have one Christian and one Muslim (Arabic) name
Classic - our kids will have classic names. No trendy names for our kiddos
Feminine and Masculine - our kids will not have gender neutral names. nor will my daughter have a boy's name (ironic since I "technically" have a boy's name and was named after a boy!)
Normal Spellings - No complicated or made-up spellings for our kids
Multicultural or Family names - if there is a name of someone in our family that we love and whose name we love, then we'll use it, otherwise sorry. This was the case for Joel. However, there aren't many girl names in my family that I would use...Martha, Karen, Barbara...love the women, but not the names. Same with his family, Frances, Etheleen, Barbara. At least not right now. maybe my name taste will change.
so that gives you an idea of our naming style. and yes we are name snobs. Sometimes it's hard for me not to cringe when people tell me their children's names.
My least favorites: Shy-Anne (think Cheyenne, but even more trashy) and Neveah (Heaven spelled backwards...) oh and Bentley. All the names just scream Teen Mom to me. Which makes sense. You know what I wanted to name my kids when I was 18?-- Aaryn (for a girl, because the y made it so feminine) and Houston Elizabeth (for a girl..I guess I thought Elizabeth would make it more girly) So I think all moms under the age of 18...err...make that 22 should consult me before naming their kids.
Okay, so here's what I want you to do. now that you know I'm a name snob, please vote on a spelling and then leave a comment below. In your comment list the worst name you've encountered in your life (if you say Joel or Lena/Lina I will cut you!) This should be fun(ny)!

Which spelling do you prefer?

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

transition hair

the last time I relaxed my hair was July 2010, so I'm almost six months into being relaxer free. I will say it's not as easy as I thought it would be. My reasons for giving up on relaxing my hair were not profound. I didn't wake up with a sense of African pride or join some kind of back to natural movement. In fact, there have been days where I have blown my hair straight because it was just easier than trying to make curls. Yes. Make curls. Since I'm in the transition stage, Half of my hair is straight from previous relaxers and my new growth is curly. I'm trying to grow my curly hair out to my natural hair's length. I'm avoiding doing what people term "the big CHOP!" I do think I need to do a mini-chop. I have quite a few dead ends. I think I may do it tomorrow.
Okay, so here are my reasons for going natural:
Mr. Soup and I were trying to conceive and I knew I would have to give up coloring and relaxing my hair if I got pregnant, so I decided to stop it early.
healthier hair and scalp
money saver
I've started reading hair blogs for tips. This is my favorite so far. Nikki is about my age and a new mother. She went natural in '07 and even wore her hair natural in her wedding (she looked stunning, may I add) Unlike her husband, my husband actually prefers my hair natural. He's been my biggest supporter and he actually encouraged me to stop relaxing my hair (I'm hoping his reasons weren't economically motivated). Okay so here is a link to her blog: Curly Nikki
I often wonder what Baby Soup's hair will be like, especially if she is a girl. Hair defines so much of who we are. For me as a child is was a source of pride, but also brought on low self-esteem at some points in my life. I wanted to fit in and have straight hair like my mom's, but my hair was so tightly coiled. We tried everything to make it "behave." My mom was a real trooper though, and I think she's very happy that I have embraced my natural hair. I guess I will let my daughter choose what she wants to do with her hair, just as my mom did. I just hope she sees the natural beauty she possesses.

2010 financial successes/new year's resolutions

being financially fit is a goal that we have for our family. In the past we haven't made the best decisions with saving and spending, but we strive now more than ever since we are bringing a little one into the world. I hope we can teach him or her to spend and save wisely. However, if this baby is a girl, I can't promise that he or she won't have a shopping addiction like her mother....
we did have some success in 2010
highs:
-we stopped using credit cards and what we did use, we paid off immediately as to not incur interest
-we paid off one credit card
-we bought a house
-we put more in savings
-we now have a monthly emergency fund
-saved $70 a month by not relaxing (perming) my hair
-switched energy providers and saved $100+ per month (we pay less than we did when we lived in our apartment)
-paid off my car

lows:
-if we want to buy a new car, we need to pay down the rest of our debt...Although, we stopped incurring debt, we didn't really pay down much. it looks like we may not buy a new car until 2012 or 2013...and it's looking like it may be a mini-van (sigh....another post on that)
-we didn't tithe regularly or I should I say I didn't since I go to church. I will say this has more to do with my sporadic attendance at church....something I need to work on in the new year.
- we now have a balance on our GAP card....it's $100, but still a balance.
New Year's Resolutions (financial and not)
-pay down debt
-continue to put more in savings
-share more of the household duties...while Mr. Soup was in grad school, the majority of our duties fell on me. We need to get our balance back before the baby arrives.
-paint the kitchen, living room and nursery. I foresee the nursery being painted first and the other two in late 2011.
-keep our travel fund full. with Baby Soup arriving, it will be hard to travel regularly. However, my goal is for us to take some family trips, Mr. Soup and me trips, and maybe a girls' trip. Traveling is something that is important to Mr. Soup and me. We are definitely not going to stop traveling in 2011. In fact, we will take our annual trip to NJ and I'm hoping we'll have enough for another cruise (once I get my body back...don't laugh!)
-accept that I cannot control how things turn out with my stepdaughter. This is hard, but I know I have to do it for my sanity. I never truly understood what my husband went through with his daughter until this summer. He has had his daughter ripped from him over and over by her mentally ill mother and passive, enabling grandparents. I felt that pain this summer. My heart was broken over and over. I'm not sure if I ever got over it fully. This will be the first Christmas that we haven't had my stepdaughter. I shudder to think of what kind of Christmas she will have (her mother doesn't even wrap their presents). I have to get over the pain I felt when my she left for a life of poverty, instability and neglect from a home where she was loved, clean and attended to each day. For now, I have to be content with the sporadic phone calls and visits we have. I have to be content with being the weekend dad and step-mom.
While Baby Soup will never take the place of Abby, he or she will have everything that Abby didn't. This baby will always know what an amazing big sister he or she has (SN: Abby is totally excited about Baby Soup. She asked if I could have a boy, so she could have a brother) Most importantly, I will have a baby that no one can take away from Mr. Soup and me. If I could hold this baby close to me everyday and never let him or her go, I would. However, I know I cannot transfer my feelings of loss and heartbreak onto this innocent life. While I want to suffocate this baby with love and attention all the time, I know my duty as a mom is to provide opportunity for growth. So, I guess in my long-winded way of saying it, my goal is two-fold: Accept my limited role as stepmother and embrace balance as I strive to be the best mother to Baby Soup.
-my next goal is to achieve balance as a wife, mother, teacher, friend, sister, daughter, etc. I realize my marriage is my #1 priority. If I don't put my marriage first, I won't be a good mother. Fortunately, we have been blessed with friends who have offered to babysit. However, I also want to make time to be a good teacher, and spend time with friends and family regularly.
-last goal is to be an awesome mama! I know I will lose major coolness once Baby C hits puberty, but for now I can't wait to raise the most awesome kid ever! This baby oozes coolness and here's why....no morning sickness, very little weight gain, cute ass sonogram pic, awesome summer-time timing, etc. This baby has made pregnancy enjoyable so far and although I know it will get worse, I am thankful that my 1st trimester was a breeze compared to most. Although, I do hate the acne!
That's it! Hopefully writing down my new year's goals on the internet for the world to see will keep me accountable!

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Blessed

As 2010 comes to an end, I am reminded of all the things for which I am thankful. Working in the public school system and just living in general, help me realize how much suffering goes on around us. I am so lucky to be gainfully employed, healthy and safe. so here we go:
health- I am very lucky to be healthy, especially as I prepare for the birth of our first child. I am also thankful for the health of others, especially my father. The past 8 years have not been easy for him, but he continues to persevere.
education-Mr. Soup just graduated from A&M Commerce with his master's degree on Saturday. His year of hard work has really paid off and we are so proud of his accomplishment. There were times where completing the degree seemed impossible, but he stuck it out. Seeing him graduate has really inspired me (and him) to really look into pursuing our doctorates. I found a program that will pay me to complete my doctorate. I would take a huge pay cut, but it would be worth it.
prosperity- we're definitely not rich at all, but we are rich in so many ways. We have never struggled to live or gone without food. In fact, we were able to purchase our first home while Mr. Soup was in graduate school. Every day that I wake up in this house, I'm reminded of how far we've come from my tiny 1 bedroom apartment, to a small two bedroom apartment and our wonderful four bedroom home.
new opportunities - Mr. Soup is already interviewing for new jobs. I was so lucky to have found a position teaching at a local community college part-time.
travel- we had an amazing one year anniversary trip (even if we didn't go to Mexico) and of course we love traveling to Philadelphia each year. I was bummed that we didn't go to NY (due to the weather and my pregnancy crumminess), but we still went to Atlantic City.
Baby C - I never had this nagging desire to be a mom. It was there in the back of my mind. However, I think part of it was because I was/am a bossy person (I can admit my faults). Despite that, the desire in the back of my mind started growing. When Mr. Soup and I thought we weren't going to be parents, I was content with being a childless couple. I think we could have still had a fulfilling marriage and life together. However, I cannot express how happy I am now. My heart is filled with so much joy. I know my baby won't be perfect, but in my eyes he or she is. Very thankful to be a MOM! (I love saying that! Can't you tell?)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why not?




A lot of you have written into me asking why I can't eat things like queso, deli sandwiches, etc. I will say that every doctor is different and what a pregnant woman can and cannot eat changes just as fashion does. A former co-worker of mine was told she could eat deli sandwiches, and she did throughout her pregnancy. She has a healthy baby girl today. Another one of my friends said that her doctor told her she could eat deli meat as long as it came from the deli, while my doctor said only if it is steaming hot. So, as you can see there are many conflicting views. We also see this with doctors who tell their moms-to-be that they can enjoy a glass of red wine once a week and doctors who forbid alcohol.


I think every mom needs to educate herself on the issues and come to a decision that is comfortable for her. Don't worry about what your friends say or think, but make the best decision for you and your little baby.


I will say this, the growing baby is a mystery. So fragile, yet so strong. There are so many things that could potentially harm him or her. Yet, we hear of so many miraculous stories where babies have beat the odds. I found myself watching the show "I Didn't Know I was pregnant" You know, the one where a woman finds herself delivering a baby instead of using the bathroom. Those babies survive. You see the new mom kind of cringing when she thinks about what she ate or drank during the last 9 months. Those babies beat the odds.


When I found out I was pregnant, I went through a mental checklist of what I had ate or drank since my possible day of conception. I started freaking myself out. Then I slapped myself and got over it.


Okay so here is some information on cheese and deli sandwiches:


CHEESE: Imported soft cheeses may contain bacteria called Listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which can be life-threatening. You would need to avoid soft cheeses such as: Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Feta, Gorgonzola and Mexican style cheeses that include queso blanco and queso fresco, unless they clearly state that they are made from pasteurized milk. All soft non-imported cheeses made with pasteurized milk are safe to eat.


DELI MEAT: Deli meats have been known to be contaminated with listeria, which can cause miscarriage. Listeria has the ability to cross the placenta and may infect the baby leading to infection or blood poisoning, which may be life-threatening. If you are pregnant and you are considering eating deli meats, make certain that you reheat the meat until it is steaming.


---from americanpregnancy.org


Thursday, December 16, 2010

cute father-to-be and the name game

I came home from dinner with some friends (If you live in Dallas, you need to try Buttons in Addison. an amazing twist on soul food with live jazz music each night) and Mr. Soup told me that he not only got inducted to the South Jersey Track Coach Hall of Fame (an amazing accomplishment!) but that he also read the first two chapters of the father-to-be book that his parents bought him. I love how eager he is to learn. He's such a hands-on dad already! I think he gets a bit jealous that I get to carry Baby Soup with me at all times.
So, Mr. Soup and I sort of settled on names a long time ago. Like even before we were married. Surprisingly we haven't changed much. We both decided on honoring both of our religions when choosing names, and we want our boys to have family names. We also wanted classic, simple, easy to pronounce and spell 1st names. So, if Baby Soup is a boy we decided on Joel Taariq. Joel is not only my father-in-law's name, but it is also the name of Mr. Soup's brother who passed away. Taariq means "morning star" in Arabic. I like the idea of our little Soup being a bright light. If Baby Soup is a girl we decided on Lena Elise. I just love how girly of a name it is. I can only have one girl, because I have not found a name that I love as much as this one! I do know that if we have 2 boys, our 2nd boy will be Adam Leo. Adam is in both of our religions and Leo is my grandfather, father and brother's middle name. I think all three names go well with their sister's name Abby. Abby's full name is Abbygail Lynn. Abby and I both have on-purpose misspelled names. While I prefer the traditional spelling (Abigail), I love how girly and classic her name is and I think it goes well with her potential half-siblings' names.
So today marks 15 weeks. Next week I will be four months! I tried on some maternity jeans last week. OMG! So comfortable. I want to wear them all the time. I can't quite fit into them yet, so they're only for around the house. I have been wearing quite a lot of sweaters, as my bump has finally arrived. Bathroom breaks have become more frequent and I've had quite a bit of shortness of breath. According to the Bump.com, my baby is the size of an orange now! My hair is incredibly long and shiny. I have been straightening it again (without chemicals) and I'm amazed by how much it's grown! I could be a model if I didn't have an expanding waistline and horrendous acne!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2nd trimester fun





oh, 2nd trimester, how i love thee!
i have my energy back finally. I can go to bed at 10pm instead of 7:30pm. I wish the entire pregnancy was like the 2nd trimester. I finally started working out again and I feel great. before I was limited to morning walks with the dog (which, if you have seen my dogs, you will know it is a workout), but I was barely making those. Now I'm back to regular walks and gym time. I love it! Everyone keeps telling me to slow down, but I feel like I need to take advantage of this time. In a few months, I will not be able to see my feet!
Which means, I need to get this nursery business on the road. I've already slacked off with the rest of the house, which means I probably won't get the living room and kitchen painted until after Baby C arrives....unless my husband decides to hire someone to do it. Which he may just do. I have a feeling he won't let me paint the nursery either. Luckily, the room is small, so he and my brother-in-law could probably do it in a day.
I've decided on a light aqua for the room no matter if it is a boy or girl. If it's a boy, I want to accent the room with dark blues and bring oranges. If it's a girl, I want to accent with bright orange, purple, red, and maybe a hint of pink (not much). I'd like a vintage beach theme for the room (boy or girl).
We decided against doing custom bedding (because of SIDS), so I've been looking at rich patterns for crib sheets, curtains, and changing pad covers. I absolutely love this site: www.serenaandlily.com
I found some nice aqua & orange striped sheets and cute aqua and melon sheets. I'll post some pics of my nursery inspiration.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby C's nursery mix

i'm coming up with different mixes of music to play when Baby Soup arrives. Right now I'm working on nursery (bedtime) music. Lots of Fiona Apple on it (Mama Soup's favorite)! Of course!
Moby-Porcelain
Fiona Apple - Sullen Girl
Fiona Apple - Across the Universe
Rufus Wainwright - Poses
Damien Rice - Blower's Daughter
Coldplay - The Scientist
Fiona Apple - I Know
Alicia Keys - Diary
Sophie B. Hawkins - Lose Your Way
Jay Z - Song Cry
Mariah Carey - Music Box

Stay tuned for Tummy Time mix

Friday, December 3, 2010

Seeking Advice and Thankful for Generosity

While I won't take advice on pregnancy, I will take....how should I phrase this?... testimonies from mommy-hood. I really want to teach my children to be good stewards of the Earth that God gave us. I figure I can model this when they're young. So, I need your advice on the following:

diapers - cloth vs. regular--my parents used cloth diapers on us. Is it a big money saver? Are they durable? Is the laundry worth it?
breastfeeding - I'd like to for at least six months. any advice for a working mommy trying to pump at work?
baby food - I'm looking for your yummiest recipes!

I am truly in awe of all the generosity we've received over the past few months. I told you that we were GIVEN a crib and changing table. One of my co-workers GAVE me a ton of cute maternity clothes. I have a cute going-out dress that will look cute when my bump arrives. It's perfect for a night on the town! Another one of Murad's co-workers gave me some maternity clothes as well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Introducing....


Baby Soup! For those of you who don't know, we are expecting our first child together this June! We are so excited and blessed. I can't imagine what motherhood will be like, but I am truly ready to take on the most important job in the world! I'm glad the secret is finally out! I've been lucky not to have any morning sickness, so I haven't had to hide that. However, I have wanted to shout from the rooftops that I'm going to be a MOM! I want everyone to know about this little guy/gal that is part Mr. Soup and part me!
So, yes, we are beyond excited! We have been wanting to start our family for a while, but it seemed as though it wasn't going to happen. After five months of "trying" I was ready to give up, but then at the end of September, I got a little inkling that I might be pregnant, but my dreams were dashed by 3 negative home pregnancy tests. I decided to make an appointment with my doctor to see what the hell was up with my body. I couldn't get in for a week, so I had plenty of time to agonize about it and make myself upset. I decided to take one more home pregnancy test and there I finally got a "pregnant" reading!
So for the past 13 weeks, I have been slowly letting people know about Baby Soup. I have also been keeping track of things I've noticed in my 1st pregnancy. I would like to share them here for your amusement
1. People are idiots -- don't listen to anything anyone tells you about being pregnant. Most likely their experience won't match yours. No two pregnancies are the same. My friend's face cleared up once she got pregnant, and my face became a pizza. Thanks, Baby Soup
2. I do miss wine. I thought I could give up alcohol cold turkey. I mean I didn't need it for the first 16 years of my life...it couldn't be that hard, right? No, it is hard. I am a teacher. teacher = alcoholic. However, now I'm to the point where the smell of alcohol makes me ill. I also miss things like, sushi, deli sandwiches, queso, brie, and other things that are forbidden during pregnancy. I know i will be happy that I didn't drink during pregnancy when Baby Soup arrives FAS-free, but man it's hard!
3. you can never eat enough--I really worry that I will be able to gain the 35 lbs. necessary to sustain this life. I lost 4 lbs. early in the first trimester and I've only gained 3 lbs since. I eat all the time. I eat lots of vegetables, fruit, and beef (weird because I'm not a big beef fan) and also fish. The smell of chicken grosses me out! My desk at work is stuffed with all kinds of snacks...string cheese, cookies, peanut butter crackers, apples etc. and I'm still not full! It's not even like a hunger feeling that I get.....it's more like "eat or pass out" feeling. I hate that I have to eat in front of my students, but I think they'd rather have a healthy teacher than one passed out on the floor. So, I'm allowing myself to graze during the day. I'm also limiting all the bad things that I consumed before getting pregnant.
4. boobs--need I say more. I went from barely filling a B cup to a full on D cup. No need for a breast enhancement.
5. happiness-- I love going places with my little buddy. He/she is everywhere I go. While I'm excited for June 8th to arrive, I am also a little sad that Baby Soup won't be with me every hour of the day. I want to hold him/her so badly, but I also want to keep him/her inside. I want to protect Baby Soup until he/she is ready to go to college. I'm not ready to "share" Baby Soup with the rest of the world. I guess I have six months to get comfortable with the idea.
6. shopping -- who knew places like Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us could be so much fun?! I never stepped foot in those stores before and now I just want to go all the time. There are so many cool things!
7. gratitude -- so many people have really helped us out during this pregnancy. One of Mr. Soup's friends gave us a crib and changing table. We have set money aside for Baby Soup stuff, but this will help us stay under budget tremendously. I plan to look secondhand for a dresser and rocking chair, as well. The money we save will go towards starting Baby Soup's college fund or towards the day care fund (ughh....not looking forward to that already!) Thanks to all who are helping us with Baby Soup!
Yeah, that's it so far. Now that I'm in my 2nd trimester, the fatigue is wearing off (I had an 8pm bedtime and at least one nap per day) and I'm hoping that nauseating feeling will wear off. I hear the 2nd trimester is the "honeymoon" trimester! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

color confidential




Yes, I stole the title of this post from a show featured on HGTV!
So, I think I have finally decided on paint colors.

Living Room, hall, guest bath - Chamomile
guest bath cabinet - Moody Blue
Kitchen - Tansy Green

I also decided to paint the entire family room instead of just an accent wall. I think it will really warm up the room. It will also compliment the hall and bathroom. I chose Moody Blue for the cabinets in the guest bath because the shower curtain in there has a paisley design made up of a cream background and pinks, greens and a hint of blue. Finally, tansy green will be used throughout the entire kitchen. It's a warm green and will add a bit of color in a dark brown and sand kitchen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Soup House Projects

Okay, so I've decided to start on some Soup House projects. Now that the first six weeks have ended at work, I'm hoping things will settle down some (yeah, right!). This week was really stressful for me, but I made it through. Okay so here are my house projects
-finish organizing the office and master bedroom....we still have boxes packed in both rooms
-clean out the garage
-paint an accent wall in the family room---I'm going to do a mustard yellow in there. Right now we have a mix of dark browns, black, green, red and yellow. I also want to buy some lamps to go in there as well. I figure I better paint now before we pull up the carpet. I decided against painting the faux wood paneling. I think it adds character and will go nicely with the golden colors.
-paint an accent wall in the kitchen. Our kitchen has dark cabinets, so I want to keep the white walls throughout. We have wainscoting on one wall, so I'll paint the top half of that muddy greenish color (we have a hint of the muddy green color in our faux granite counter tops) I'm so excited to PAINT! I will post pictures soon!
Today I put out some fall decorations. Nothing much, but I hung the fall pine cone garland on the fire place, hung the fall wreath, and placed some pumpkins on the front porch. I plan to get some fall flowers to put on the kitchen table and family room coffee table. I'm so glad fall is finally here! It will make cleaning out the garage bearable! Plus, next weekend Mr. Soup and I will head to the State Fair of Texas to partake in some yummy fried foods! We actually love the fair for more than just the foods. October happens to be Hispanic Heritage Month. We visit the booths and spend lots of time at the Dominican Republic booth. Mr. Soup's grandmother was from Santo Domingo, so we try to learn a little bit more about our heritage with each visit.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

i am proud

Today was a good day of college teaching for me. There were some occasional not-so-great moments, but overall it was pretty good. Today we analyzed song lyrics. We looked the stories they tell. I gave my students song lyrics without punctuation. Their task was to place the correct punctuation in the songs. One girl remarked as we were going over them, "it needs a dot." I looked at her puzzled. I thought maybe she meant ellipses (...) because not many people know the term ellipses. No, she meant period. "No, it needs the dot that goes at the end of a sentence. What's that called?" I did my best to add the period and move right along. I didn't want to call attention to it. She is an incredibly bright student and I recognize that command of the English language and grammar does not make one intelligent. There are plenty of people who are skilled writers, but are dumb as all get out. However, my English teacher self cringed on the inside....just a little bit!
I also held my first set of writing conferences. I conducted my conferences like this:
-identified strengths and weaknesses in their writing
- reviewed the final writing test expectations
-asked what I can do to help them better prepare for the test
Most of my students said they are glad they are taking the course (they have the option to just take the test). Many of them have taken the test and failed by one or two points. They said the work we do in here is giving them the skills and confidence they need to do well on the test. They all said the vocabulary quizzes stress them out, but they really like that they're building their vocabulary. They just don't want to be quizzed on it each week. I'm thinking of maybe doing away with the quizzes and using the vocabulary as an activity in class or incorporate it into their writing assignments. We'll see. I told them my goal is not to make the course difficult, but to give them the skills to do well in the next level of Developmental Writing or in Freshman Comp I.
Many of them said they enjoy the class as well. That is a plus, because we meet only once a week on a Saturday morning. I guess I feel good because I know I am a good junior high English teacher, but this solidified that I'm not so bad at teaching college students. While students liking me is not my goal, I am glad they feel the class is worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

i'm not proud

okay, so the following is a list of things that bother me about myself. we all deserve a moment to feel sorry for ourselves right?
my weight--today I went to the gym and got on the scale. the six pounds I needed to lose is now 14! 14 freakin' pounds. it was the kick in the butt I needed. I can't believe I've gained 14 lbs since June 2009. What is wrong with me?
my face--um so my face is officially a grease ball. New pimples pop up each day. Yesterday, Mr. Soup goes, "Wow you're glowing." I told him to rub his hand across my face and when he did his hand was oily. "Ewww," was his response.
my stepdaughter--I hate that I can't let go of the situation. I hate that after almost of four years of dealing with her neglectful, unstable mother and enabling maternal grandparents I can't let it go. I hate that my inability to let go, hurts my husband and ultimately my marriage. I have to remind myself that he went through this all 7 years ago when he found out about his daughter. He relocated to her small town in hopes of getting custody, only to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees for nothing. I am thankful that my husband wants to spare me the pain he felt. I know I have to let go and accept that. he is a better father for it and I hope to get to that point.
my baby--okay, so no I don't have a baby, but I feel the first two things are a direct result of trying to have a baby (hormonal body changes --weight gain and oily skin). I hate that after four months of hoping for a baby, Mr. Soup and I are getting discouraged. Both of us have talked to various people with kids (aka parents). Some of them waited years, some a year, some 6 months and some a couple of months. I guess I thought we'd fall in the "2 month" category (I mean my hubby already has a daughter and I was an accident--I figured being overly fertile was in our genes). I know everything happens when it should. Maybe God is waiting for me to drop the L-Bs before I get pregnant (because we know Mr. Soup won't hear any of that "I'm fat" talk)? Let's hope!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

classic

i spent most of last night and today watching classic movies, television and reading (I need to hurry and finish Hunger Games so I can move onto the next book!) This weekend was one of those rainy weekends. Yesterday after work I skipped happy hour (shocking, I know!) and went to the gym. I came home ate some leftovers, settled in to grade papers and take care of household things. Mr. Soup wanted to discuss our budget. Once he graduates we'll have more income, but more student loans. Right now our short term goals include putting more in savings and paying off debt. Right now we're doing both really well, but it's time to increase everything where we can. We really want to start pulling up carpet and putting down wood floors, but we're scared to touch our savings especially in this economy. I think we'll feel better with more in there and less debt. We definitely live comfortably and we're not struggling, but you just never know! Our long term goal is to double up on our mortgage payments.
So after all our discussions about boring grown-up stuff, I settled in to do some grading and curriculum mapping for my college course. I turned on the television and was greeted with a classic! CLUELESS! This was one of my favorite movies when I was in 8th grade. Watching it last night reminded me why I loved it so. I remember thinking Cher (Alicia Silverstone) was the coolest and she still is. After watching Clueless, I cuddled up with Hunger Games and fell asleep to the rain. I awoke at 4am when I heard roaring thunder outside. I guess I'm not used to our house because I immediately thought someone was in our home. When I looked at the foot of the bed and on the floor, I was immediately relieved. My sleeping guard dogs put my worries at ease.
I woke up a few hours later to get ready to teach in McKinney. I drove in the rain, taught an drove back to Plano in the rain. I started on laundry and began cleaning the master bathroom. As I embarked on my tasks, I turned on the television and was greeted by another classic: Forrest Gump! Tom Hanks is such a talented actor!
I spent the rest of the day grading papers, watching Law & Order (who knew that show could be so good?) and helping Mr. Soup with his research proposal. He promised to take me to brunch tomorrow if I helped him. We got lots done today so that we can enjoy a yummy brunch at Iron Cactus and then head to the local Eagles bar to watch the Eagles play. Oh, and the Jayhawks won today! Not bad! Let's keep it up!

Monday, September 20, 2010

some quotes from John Ciardi

love this guy's quotes. I don't even know who he is? Maybe I should look him up. I have this one on my teacher bulletin board in my room:
The classroom should be an entrance into the world, not an escape from it.
I think this pretty much sums up why I teach. Each year it is a struggle to make lessons exciting and fresh for students, especially when I'm essentially told what to teach (more on that in another entry), but I do it to open a world for students. Maybe, just maybe they'll discover a dream or become inspired in my classroom. On Saturday mornings when I dread driving out to McKinney to teach those "developmental" writers, I remind myself that they're already on their journey toward their dream (or maybe they're rediscovering it or maybe it's changed). I get to help them find their voice and be heard. I help them discover the world around them. They (junior high and college) help me do the same. I've learned so much about the world from them. I think there are so many times that I assume that everyone had the same supportive parents that I did. I think my definition of what a good parent is changes too. I no longer look down on those parents who don't call me back or show up to parent night or send their kids to school in dirty clothes. They are parents and 90% of them are doing the best that they can with what they have. My job is to support them in school and open up a world they may never know.
There is nothing wrong with sobriety in moderation.
My job is tough and the rewards are few. I like to have fun....in moderation.
Intelligence recognizes what has happened. Genius recognizes what will happen.

Gentility is what is left over from rich ancestors after the money is gone.
So much of who I am is because of my family. Even though my paternal grandparents are gone, I am who I am because of the time they invested in me. The lessons they taught me are invaluable.

A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in the students.
This is why I love teaching at a community college. It's all about the students!
Every parent is at some time the father of the unreturned prodigal, with nothing to do but keep his house open to hope.
I don't know what the future holds with my stepdaughter. Even though we can't be a part of her life. I will never give up hope. Parental Alienation Syndrome is a bitch, but I hope in my heart she will beat the odds. I hope she will rise from her circumstances and shine. I don't consider her a prodigal in the truest sense (she's barely 9, let's be real), but I will never give up hope.
Poetry lies its way to the truth.
doesn't it?
Written by a sponge dipped in warm milk and sprinkled with sugar.
That's me!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

another rainy day

literally...
it's raining. I'm waiting on Mr. Soup to come home so we can cuddle up and watch TV. Our new flat screen TV is perfect for days like this.
today was kind of rainy with my heart too. my stepdaughter's mother told us that she no longer wants us in my stepdaughter's life.i guess us calling, sending packages, sending cards of encouragement was hard for her mom. even though my stepdaughter cried that she wanted to be able to talk to her daddy, her mom said she didn't want it. it's sad. we could fight it, but our lawyer said we would invest thousands of dollars and we still would probably lose. it's hard to prove neglect, especially in that small town. our only way would be to get my stepdaughter to testify against her mother and we hate to do that to a her. no matter how messed up her mom is, it's still not fair.
i really wish that we could've been a perfect blended family. my hope was that she would benefit from both families. i still have some hope that things will change, but i have learned not to get my hopes up. i've also subscribed to the theory that everything happens for a reason. maybe this experience will make my stepdaughter stronger. i know it may shape her negatively, but i hope she can channel this into something positive. i hope the universe will protect her.
maybe mr. soup and i needed to be free from this for a while so that we can heal and prepare our hearts for the family we will have in the future. i think we focused too much on fixing something we couldn't rather than allowing what we have to grow. And I think it is time to "grow" our family. In fact, Mr. Soup and I are hoping that some day soon we'll add to our family. Lately, I've been thinking of things I want to do before we have more kids and I can honestly can say there is nothing more that I want to do, because I realize I can do many of those things while being a mom. Although, Mr. Soup did tell me we need to be prepared to go into debt so that we can attend the super bowl this spring in dallas. not sure of how i feel about that one, but I'll take it! okay, so below is a list of my regrets, accomplishments and goals:
regrets:
1. not studying abroad in college. i think i was too scared to do it. i should've traveled more. it's something i hope our kids do. incidentally one of my goals is to travel more. Mr. Soup and I are passionate about traveling with our kids when we have them. we want to show them the world and teach them to appreciate different cultures.
2. okay so that's really my only regret. because let's face it, i had a blast in college! i loved it and i miss it, but i have no desire to go back. oh not being in love with a stupid ex-boyfriend for two years of college..that would be a regret, but i take it as a learning experience. prepared me for the one who would cherish my heart!
accomplishments:
1. meeting a guy at a totally random place and then marrying him. this is pretty cool for me because i'm not a risk taker by nature. most people marry someone who they've known for a significant amount of time. marrying someone who i met an airport is pretty kick-ass!
2. teaching at a community college. it was one of my long-term goals and i think i reached it in a fairly short amount of time. i absolutely love it! I'm glad I did it!
3. making kids enjoy reading....uh big time accomplishment if you've met this generation's youth.
4. i'll have to think of some more, but i'm sure there are tons. oh having not only one master's degree, but two. yep that's right. between mr. soup and me, we have 6 and half degrees: me- 1 bachelor's 2 master's and him: 1 associate's, two bachelor's and he's almost done with his master's. i'm glad i got my first master's (English Ed.) and I'm glad I got my 2nd (Educational Admin.), but getting the 2nd one helped me realize how much I don't want to be principal. In fact, I'm hoping to either stay in the junior high classroom, move to HS or teach full-time at a community college.
goals:
1. travel
2. get a new car in the next few years. I really want a mazda cx9, but I'm leaning towards a mazda 5 (minivan)...it actually doesn't look like a mini-van (it's small and sleak) and it starts at $18,000 (I can't justify spending $35,000 for a car), so I could pay it off quickly!
3. plant a garden in our backyard...i've been procrastinating mostly because I'm afraid the dogs will poop in it.
4. i need to think of some more goals
so that is this rainy day post in a nutshell. it's a little sad. a little optimistic. but it's all me!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My little cousin


My cousin Will and his wife welcomed their first child early, early this morning! Here she is: Kynsley Reighlynn! She is going to be so spoiled. Even though she's technically my cousin, I feel like an aunt. Who knows when (if) I'll get to be an aunt?

9 years later...

Today marks the anniversary of 9/11. Today I had the privilege of being with my college students. We engaged in an "adult" discussion. I have to say that because I'm used to facilitating discussions among junior high students. When I facilitate those discussions, I have to tell them not to use words like, "retarded," "gay," and "stupid." This, on the other hand, was refreshing. I got to be part of the discussion as well. "What is your take on the mosque in NY?" That was the first question. Maybe they just wanted me to start the discussion. I was happy to do it. I crave adult conversation sometimes. Mr. Soup and I have exhausted the mosque discussion. (it's actually NOT a mosque, but a Islamic Community Center) His take: it's too soon and not appropriate. My take: "ain't nobody gonna tell me I can't build something somewhere.' That was pretty much the discussion in class today too. Although, most people agreed with my husband.
As class went on, my view sort of changed too. I still support the community center being built. In my heart and my mind this building would symbolize peace and change. It would bring people together and signal a shift in America. However, building this community center near the place where so many lost their lives is not going bring peace. In fact, it has created chaos. While the bastards who terrorized America 9 years ago are not representative of Islam, Islam and terrorism will always be linked as a result. As my husband, a non-practicing Muslim, pointed out, sparking fear and hatred by building this community center is not going to open anyone's eyes to the beauty that is Islam. He is right. Islam should be understood and accepted, not hated.
I guess I had a hard time accepting this. As someone who's always in the middle (racially, politically, etc.) and always seeking a compromise, I want everyone to get along and to live in harmony. It's a sad realization that it's not possible in this America.
I will never forget the moment I learned of the 9/11 attacks. Not only did we lose lives, but we lost an America that was tolerant and practiced freedom of religion. We now live in fear and it has paralyzed our nation. I weep for the lives we lost and the nation we lost.
I remember when...

Friday, September 10, 2010

mixed hair and other things

oh this week was not a good week for testing out "mixed girl" hair. However, I did it and I'm glad I did! I love wearing my hair curly. The tornado and rain this week did wreak some havoc on my hair.
last week Mr. Soup and I purchased our first flat screen television. It's very pretty. It's pretty much the only art we have in our family room. Well, that and our Texas stars, black love and laugh wood work and family pictures.
this past weekend my friend Himee came in town. It was so great to have her in town. We all hung out and had a total girls' weekend. Some of the highlights included yummy brunch with bottomless Mimosas at Iron Cactus (my absolute favorite brunch spot), and partying at a bar with a (green) pool, sand volleyball and karaoke. The pool was very suspect. In fact, it bothered me. Why was the pool green? There was also some suspect activity (not by me) towards the end of the night. My eyes saw so much... Overall, it was a great weekend. I struggled to get caught back up this week though. Too much partying. I had to hit the gym hard this week. However, I rarely go out, so a girls' weekend every now and then is a requirement, I think.
I love my job, but it's already kicking my butt this year. Despite this, I am determined to get caught up on grading. Those damn summer reading projects take up so much of my time and weekend. Since I had a wild weekend last weekend, I plan to spend the weekend teaching (tomorrow morning), grading and cleaning out our home office. Mr. Soup wants to buy a futon for it and hook up one our many TVs in there. So, we're going futon shopping this weekend.
I started waking up thirty minutes earlier each day to walk to the dogs. I'm hoping it helps them (and me) get back in shape. It also is a great way for me to prepare for the day. It's relaxing to walk through our little neighborhood together.
Our little Abbygail is doing well in school. She is already ahead of her Accelerated Reading goal and scored 100% on her comprehension test. Mr. Soup and I are trying to reward her for good behavior and academic success. Last year we focused a lot on her negative behavior, rather than praising her for good behavior. This year we're going to attempt to send little gifts to encourage her to keep doing well. We got her some personalized pencils and silly bandz. If you don't know what Silly Bandz are, they're all the rage among tweens and teens. Hopefully, my 8 year old will like them.
Other than that life is good. Mr. Soup and I went to dinner and ice cream tonight and just marveled at how blessed we are. We are lucky to be able to travel, spend time with friends and family and enjoy each other.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

reclaiming my hair


So, recently I stopped taking some meds and my skin and hair have been out of sorts. My junior high acne popped up in full force just in time for picture day (yes, faculty members take pictures as well). I have a lovely pimple on my lip. Not near my lip, but actually on it and guess what else? it's actually two pimples in one! gross. I have to put make up on it so that it doesn't look like I have Herpes. I also now have backne (or however you spell it...bacne?) it's disgusting. my back is literally a pizza. greasy goodness. (there's your metaphor and alliteration...I wonder if my kids would get those literary terms if I used those examples?)
and my scalp...ugh my scalp. it already takes enough abuse from getting a relaxer every six-eight weeks (relaxer = perm for black people...it makes our hair straight). and now I have these big sores that flake and flake...more than you want to know probably. My scalp just doesn't get enough oxygen because I have such thick hair (thanks, mom and dad). And since blacks with chemically straightened hair can't wash their hair every day, my scalp gets lots of build-up. So, I've decided to forgo relaxing my hair and embrace my curly hair. I'll probably still have to have my hair chemically processed every once and a while to loosen my curls (I wasn't blessed with full mixed-girl hair...mine is more black than mixed), but instead of doing it every six weeks, I will probably only do it once every season. I also won't straighten my hair with my Chi everyday. I really want to bring my hair and scalp back to healthy. Fortunately, Aussie makes a great leave-in conditioning mousse which defines my curls and conditions my hair. I love it! I used it all the time in the summer when I wore my hair curly. Plus, if I ever get pregnant, I'll have to wear my hair curly because most pregnant women do not take well to relaxers. oh and did I mention Mr. Soup loves my hair curly? it's evident by his face in the picture above (see my hair looks cute there curly, right?) "Babe, you look more natural with your hair curly. I like it better that way." So yeah, he's all on board. I love this man for always supporting my decisions and still finding me sexy!
I also discovered the mixedchicks hair product line. I'm so buying some of their products! Of course, I still love my Aveda! Now Suave has it's own psuedo Aveda shampoo and conditioner, so I may use that to off set costs. Oh and did I mention I will save $70 a month in relaxing fees? That is a lot! It'll go straight into the savings account! Okay, who am I kidding...it'll go towards clothes and shoes!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Don't stop believin'!


this has been the theme of my week. it all started with a happy hour(s) on wednesday with some friends from work. usually, happy hours are pretty tame, but we ended up staying pretty late for a school night. We definitely belted out some Journey that night. I went to Happy Hour twice this week. While that seems rather alcoholic, I promise I'm not one. I usually only go once a week, if that. However, we ended the first week of school and wanted to celebrate. It was a tame Happy Hour. I think I stayed an hour because I knew I had to get up and teach my first college course on Saturday. Last night, Mr. Soup and I went to one of his work-friend's birthday parties. It was at this awesome karaoke bar. It was steretypically Asian with awesomely bad videos to accompany the songs. Each party got a private room and ours came equipped with two mics, two flat screens and two tambourines. I loved the place! I will be back! And yes, I did channel Steve Perry as I belted out "Don't Stop Believin'!" Mr. Soup sang Foreigner's "I wanna know what love is!" It was so much fun. We really liked seeing Mr. Soup's co-workers and bosses dance and sing the night away!
Maybe "Don't Stop Believin'" will be a theme throughout my school year? Who knows! I'm just a small-town girl, livin' in a lonely world....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

1st day of school

Well, the first day of my 6th year has come and gone. Surprisingly, my classes are smaller than they usually are which is great! I really do miss my 7th graders from last year (now big 8th graders), but I enjoy seeing them in the halls. Some of them have grown, but the majority of them are still small. yay! Of course, they're all too cool!
My classroom looks great, which is amazing because usually my classroom looks like crap. My student-teacher created lots of posters last year so i was able to utilize them this year. I also added some of my own decorations. I will take pictures and post later.
I've got some interesting children this year. I have some kids that are just odd. I have some really stellar, helpful kids. I have lots of younger siblings of former students. I have a very diverse crowd too.I have a large number of students whose first language is not English. Surprisingly, the majority of those students are from some part of Asia. I have quite a few Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese students. In addition, I have a large number of students from the Middle East and Africa (Ethiopia and Egypt). Pretty cool, I think. I'm used to having large numbers of students from Mexico and other Central and South American countries, but I think this will be a nice mix.
I love the diversity of my students and am reminded of what is going on in our nation with those opposing at Islamic Community Center. Shame on them for not wanting to promote peace and healing. That is not the Christian thing to do. While it has been nine years since 9/11, I think healing needs to begin. We are a nation divided and building the Islamic Center could help speed up the healing process. I think we need to recognize the good that could come from this instead of focusing on the bad. We need to remember that just as Christian terrorists do not speak for all Christians neither do Muslim terrorists. Followers of Islam were just as affected by the tragedy of 9/11 as anyone else. Islam is a beautiful, peaceful religion. However, some idiots within the religion and outside of the religion tend to highlight the small, negative percentage. I say let the healing begin. As a teacher, I say let the learning begin. What a great nation we would be if we all learned to respect and understand each others' faiths and cultures?
Speaking of healing. Things are going much better as far as our relationship is concerned with my stepdaughter. She is going to shine this year in 3rd grade. She is playing volleyball this fall and participating in mini-cheer camp. She also is participating in Girl Scouts and Mid-Week at her church. Things are still strained with her mom, so keep us in your prayers and thoughts in that regard. However, we are excited about our daughter, the exciting things happening in her life, and being able to share in that with her.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Birthday videos

Birthdays galore





August is birthday month in the Soup house! It is also the month that I return to work full-time. This year, I not only added a new part-time job, but I also planned a big party for Mr. Soup's 30th b-day and Sam and Maya's 3rd birthday, hosted guests from Philadelphia and said good-bye to my brother-in-law for 6 months. Crazy, right? It was amazing and so much fun! I rented a bounce house for Mr. Soup's party! Let me tell you that alcohol + a bounce house = so much fun! Even Sam and Maya got in it for a while. I baked a doggy birthday cake for my babies! Their guest really enjoyed the cake as well! I was pretty proud of myself! It was so good getting a bunch of our good friends and some new ones as well in one place to celebrate! Mr. Soup said it was the best birthday party he's ever had! I'm so proud and I really enjoyed myself too! It was also a good chance for everyone to see our new home! I've posted some pics of the party below!

just when you give up hope.....

things start to look up. a light appears in an otherwise dark tunnel. it's only a little bit of light, but I think with that little bit of light we can really impact my stepdaughter's life. I think we can start to rebuild and have a positive relationship. I will never go through what I went through this summer with thinking she would come live with us and that she would have a "normal,"stable life. I won't do that to myself again, but it seems as though we can have an impact from afar. I feel like my husband can be a father to her (even if it is part-time parenting). even though I was devastated that she wouldn't live with us, it was best for us. it wasn't best for her, but Mr. Soup and I are really enjoying our time as a childless couple (with the exception for our fur-babies). I've also learned to accept that some people just cannot escape dysfunction. and although we want to shield her from that dysfunction, we can't. All we can do is to try to equip her with the tools to be a good person. That's okay. I can provide support and not let myself get sucked into it. I need to remember to remain neutral, supportive and firm. This will serve me well as a teacher and professor this school year, as well! Continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers...

Friday, August 13, 2010

ode to my husband

i wonder if
people without chanced meetings
experience this charmed bliss

i wonder if
people who have known each other their whole lives
recognize just how special love is

how rare it is

an elation everyday

how did we get so lucky to almost miss
the opportunity to redirect our lives towards one another?
how did we get so lucky to click and traverse towards
an unfamiliar destiny
the dream no longer deferred,
but for real
and forever...

the last

i think this will be the last post on this topic for a while. i do feel a sense of peace and acceptance concerning the issue. I no longer feel sad and I don't feel as guilty. It is hard to know that your child has to live a difficult life, when you are fully capable of providing her with a great childhood. Because of that, I do feel a sense of guilt It's hard to know that she no longer values our half of her family. It no longer hurts me, but I do feel that she is being hurt by that. I do worry about my stepdaughter's future. I worry that she won't have a future.
i don't know if my stepdaughter will ever want us in her life again or if her family will decide our presence is important again. however, I have no control over what transpires in the coming years. our arms will always be open, but I realize that it's best for us to live our lives to the fullest. this may not be what is best for her, but it is out of our control now. all we can do is be supportive from afar and do what we need to do to be better people and to be better spouses to each other. I have too much to live for than to throw a pity-party for myself. I need to focus on the family I have and not what I don't have.
Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

another summer comes to an end...

summer is coming to an end. Next week I officially return to work and this week I had my official orientation to my new community college teaching position. Despite all the trials and tribulations we experienced, it has been a good summer and I'm sad to see it go. Even though things did not go as planned with my stepdaughter, there was some good that came out of it. I know deep down in my heart that we did everything in our power to create a better life for her. We rearranged our whole world (as any parent should) to make her life better. And although it hurts that she and her family do not want that, we have no control in the situation. my heart still hurts. I am powerless. at times I feel guilty, and at times I feel robbed. Most importantly, I feel that she is being robbed of a good life and quality childhood.
When we put my stepdaughter first, I did not see what I was missing and I do not regret missing those things. I think most parents do not realize what they're missing because the joy of being a parent far outweighs anything. I went to buy a bed a couple of months ago and the salesman asked if my husband and I planned to have kids (I guess he thought we were using the bed to get busy!). I told him yes and he went on about how great being a parent is. He said, "People talk about what you miss out on having a kid, but you don't miss anything. You gain so much." I wholeheartedly believe this to be true. However, I now have perspective as both a parent and a suddenly childless person. So here are my reflections:
1. marriage-- Mr. Soup and I did get caught up in putting our child first. Date nights took a back seat when she was here. I think this was our first big mistake. Parents will tell you that you need to put your marriage first in order to be a good parent, and I did not realize this until now. This summer has been about connecting and reconnecting as a couple. Even though we've only been married for a year, we did get into the "lets just watch a movie" date night routine. Now we are committed to not only making date nights routine, but making them more fun. Mr. Soup is on a spontaneity kick too. Everything has to be spontaneous so that we don't get in a rut. I love it! I do think we were given this opportunity to see this perspective so that when we have children in the future, we will not make the same mistake. My time with him is important. It recharges me, as he inspires me in so many ways.
2. personal and professional goals--I was able to achieve many of those goals simultaneously while being a parent, but I think I let finding new professional goals take a back seat. I am so blessed to have a job which I love, but I know that I may not do this forever. I am blessed that I earned my master's at a young age, so that I have some flexibility to explore other career options. This summer, I finally acted on one of my professional goals and that is teaching at the college level. I took a chance and applied to 3 or 4 colleges in the spring and this summer I was asked to teach developmental writing at a local community college. This combines my love of teaching writing with the goal of teaching at a college. This is something I know I would've achieved, but did not expect to achieve so soon. It is something I may not have acted on as a mother, but it is something I know I can do when I become a mother.
Another goal I have is to be a more reflective teacher. I'm hoping this year to really learn from my teaching practices. I am considering going for National Teacher Board Certification and possibly pursuing my doctorate in English Education. I don't know if I'll do either anytime in the near future (I have to find someone to fund both of them), but it's something I'm considering. I'm a nerd, I know. I just really want to focus on making my classroom an environment of learning and not just memorization and recitation. I think NTBC would force me to stay on track in that area.
One personal goal was to lose weight....haven't achieved with a child or without, but damnit I will!
Those are just some things I've noticed this summer. After writing this, I realize that a lot of this comes from not only being childless, but also being student-less. Being away from my 140 students this summer was nice. I'm glad I didn't teach summer school and because of that I will never teach it again. I do feel recharged and ready to face the masses! I also realize that becoming a parent doesn't mean limiting yourself. I need to achieve my goals and not be afraid to find new ones. I should not feel guilty about becoming a better person. After having this experience, I know I won't!

Friday, August 6, 2010

this too shall pass

after doing lots of praying, thinking, soul-searching this week. I do feel a little better about the situation with my stepdaughter. I gained insight from adults who went through this as children and from a mother who is experiencing the same thing we are. we discussed how cheated we feel that we rearranged our whole lives to put our children's needs first only to be shut out. She by the courts and us by our own daughter (and in essence the courts if you count what my husband went through six years ago). I have to practice some acceptance that this is our situation. I cannot change or push or control things no matter how badly I try. I know this and it's fine. We can remain supportive and give her the space she desires (side-note: I do think it's ridiculous that a child has this much control and power, but I practice acceptance). I realize there are many modes of support from simple cards and letters to more technology-friendly communications. I just want her to know that we love her and always will. We will be a safe-haven if she ever needs us. Do I regret all we've done? No Way! We built memories, shared values and truly were functioning as a blended family. I cherish those moments and find it odd that I didn't buy school supplies this year. I feel a void each day I get up and realize I have no one to drive to camp. I don't have my SplashPark & 7/11 Slurpee buddy. I don't have a reason to visit the children's section of the library. Those are my voids and they probably aren't voids in her life (however, I do feel like she's missing out on a lot...maybe I'm bias). I realize it's not worth being angry. I also realize that we can't put our lives on hold either. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is putting their children before their marriage and I think we were guilty of this in some regards. This summer has been great for us to reconnect as a couple and it's something we need to be cognizant of, especially when we have more children.
I don't know if things will ever get better, but I can choose how I act and react. I want to remain present in her life in whatever way I can. I'll remain supportive even if she pushes us away. I also have to set up boundaries as well.
Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories with us or just been there to lend an ear. you do not realize how valuable you are in our lives.
This too shall pass

Thursday, August 5, 2010

almost a year and a half later...



our wedding guestbook quilt is complete! it is now hanging in our home. I am thrilled. takes me back to that spectacular day when we vowed to spend our lives together. The day I became Mrs. Soup. It has been a ride full of joys and challenges. I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks to those who were there to sign it and those who were with us in spirit. Thanks to those who continue to support us today!
I've also included a picture of our wedding broom which is also hanging in our home.

patriotic

there are days when I do not feel particularly patriotic. there are days when I want to slap conservatives and liberals in their faces and say, "enough!" Being a "middle-of-the-road" kind of girl is difficult. I hate division and I really thought Mr. O would truly make this a purple nation. However, he is just placating republicans, and they have reciprocated with crap. But I digress....
Proposition 8 has been overturned! Huge victory! I have never had more faith in our justice system as the defender of the rights of all men and women. I feel American. This is the civil rights movement of the 2000's and I am excited to be part of it. Mr. Soup and I discussed this at length because we were in a heated facebook debate with a moron.
Here are some of our favorite quotes:
"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of marriage licenses."
"Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite sex couples."

whether one embraces homosexuality is not the issue (my husband will be the first to say that he does not understand it and it's his fear and ignorance that fuels this). It's about taking away the right that every heterosexual couple in America has. Homosexuals are not inferior to opposite sex couples. They pay taxes just like the rest of us. This is not about sex at all. It's about marriage. this is not about conservative vs. liberal, but this is about Americans. This is patriotic!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I heart weddings

it's no secret that i love weddings! i had a blast planning my wedding. And although I would never want to do it again, I do love looking at other people's weddings. i love royalty as well. since we have no royalty in the United States, the presidents will have to do. So, as many of you know Chelsea Clinton got married this past weekend (I feel like Kelly Kapoor writing this). Her wedding pics are amazing! I absolutely love her dress, her bouquet, the smiles on Bill & Hill's face. She did an excellent job of combining classic and traditional with modern. She created a timeless affair. I love how she had an interfaith ceremony having both a rabbi and pastor officiating. I don't think we see many interfaith weddings, but they are so special as they are truly two different cultures coming together.
There are a few celebrities that also wed this weekend: Alicia Keys and Swizz Beats, Tiny and T.I., and DJ Jazzy Jeff. I've seen a few pics of Alicia Keys. She looked stunning as well and rocked the baby bump. However, I will say that I'm not a big fan of celebrity weddings (those of actors, musicians and sports stars). I will say that the weddings of Jenna Bush and Chelsea Clinton's have been my favorite.



Monday, August 2, 2010

A Promise to Ourselves

recently i read the book A Promise to Ourselves by Alec Baldwin. it details his struggle to remain in his daughter's life after his divorce from Kim Basinger. Throughout the book, he gives many resources that advocate for fathers' rights. His book was very inspiring, but at the end I never got a sense of closure. I guess it just really set in the reality of our situation. It will be an ongoing battle to remain in my stepdaughter's life. Sadly, for most single parents this is a reality. Fathers are seen as second class parents. No matter how hard I(we) tried to make it one big family for her, there are just too many forces against us. Now she, like many children of divorce or single parents, realizes that her dad's family is the second rate family. So what do we do? Do we keep fighting and forcing a child to spend time with a family she doesn't value? Or do we back off and let her live her life and continue to live our lives? I don't have an answer. I'm not sure I ever will, but I'm okay with that.

reflections on a high school reunion




attending a high school reunion in 2010 is far different from attending a high school reunion in 1990, hell it's different than attending one in 2000. why? modern technology. we live in an era where we can keep up with others via the internet. I keep in touch with my good friends from high school via facebook, email, etc. However, I have been able to keep in touch with the people I was not as close with via the same channels. Despite this, "in real life" connections are far more valuable. It was good to be in one location this weekend, catching up, reliving old times, taking shots, taking pictures, etc. It reminded me how much I miss my good friends from high school. There is a part of me that still feels as I did in May 2000, which is that I cannot live without them. However, after doing it for five years (I went to college with most of my good friends), it seems easy. It's only when I return home that I feel that void. I want to make an effort to travel to Wichita, Lawrence and KC more often. Even though I am now a Dallas woman through and through, I will always be a Kansas girl at heart!
One thing that I really enjoyed was making connections with people who I knew in high school. One of my schoolmates has lived in Dallas for five years, just as I have. We plan to get together with our husbands for game nights and night-outs. Another schoolmate is traveling to Dallas and we plan to meet up for dinner.
Cheers to a great reunion weekend! Thanks to my husband for being a good sport! He actually enjoyed meeting all of my old classmates and learning about the Wichita Ashlea! S-O-U-T-H-E-A-S-T! Southeast! Go Buffs

some house pictures



I've posted pictures of my three favorite rooms in our home
the kitchen - I love the space! I can cook and not be confined. My dogs can spread on the floor to sleep while I cook. I love it! I also love the look of the kitchen. The faux granite countertops and dark wood cabinets give it a traditional yet modern look. The kitchen also includes some custom updates. I love our range, oven and microwave. Oh and I love having a dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes.We added our own refrigerator which we bought brand new.
the family room - this is the room that needs the most work, but I know it will soon be our favorite. The previous owner put in double doors that lead out to the patio. I love it and the built in blinds! We plan to paint the wood paneling and install hardwood floors for a more contemporary look. We also plan to invest in a flat screen television in the near future!
the dining room (living/dining combo) - i love this room. I have used it as a home office this summer when writing curriculum. Even though we have a home office, I love the view of our front yard from this room.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

All I need is a miracle...

all I need is you!

all my posts lately begin with a song title. coincidence? I think not. I'm just a musical person.

okay, so insurance adjuster came out. the carpet in our home office and one of the guest bedrooms was deemed repairable. So they're going to pay for new padding and for it to be repaired. However, the carpet in the hall is not repairable and since it is connected to the family room, they will replace the carpet in the hall and family room. so kind of a bad news/good news deal. we get to replace the carpet in the area that we use the most for entertaining and just general recreation. We have the option of going through their contractor or hiring our own. We're hoping that the person a friend recommended will give us a good deal and we can look into getting hard wood floor in that area instead of carpet. so keep your fingers crossed.

however, we still have to pay the deductible on the home owner's insurance. which isn't bad, but we just found out that our friends are going to Vegas over Labor Day weekend. We hardly see them, so how cool would it be if we vacationed with them? She was my matron of honor in our wedding and I was a bridesmaid in hers. We lived together twice in college. I worked at her family's ice cream store. we attended elementary, middle, high and college together. So, now I'm in Dallas and she's in Wichita. Up until this past May, our wedding was the last time I saw them. So, I'm really hoping we can save up some money and go. Right now we can afford flights, but we still gotta figure lodging (for us and the dogs while we're gone). Even if we don't go to Las Vegas, I hope Mr. Soup and I can escape for Labor Day weekend somewhere. Our next big trip (besides our annual trip to New Jersey....oh and this year I have been assured that we will make it to New York! yeah!!!!) isn't until our 2 year anniversary. I just need SOMETHING to tie me over until March 2011.

Monday, July 12, 2010

our house

in the middle of our street...
well we've had some home problems lately. our a/c condensation drain thingy was clogged and leaked all over....well not all over, but over significant parts of our hallway, our office closet and my brother-in-law's closet. leak is fixed, but the insurance adjuster is coming tomorrow to determine if we get new floors or if they'll just repair the carpet. Mr. Soup and I plan to do take out all the carpet in our home anyways, so getting new floors in those areas (for free essentially) would be a plus. We really want to put in laminate wood flooring. we have shag carpet throughout (living room, dining room, family room, all three bedrooms and the office...it's a little much) nevertheless, i love our little home. it has so much character. it feels like a mansion compared to our apartment, but it still has that cozy, quaint feeling. i'm excited for some upcoming projects. okay, so here they are:
-paint the wood paneling in the living room. I'm thinking a creamy rustic red color (think of a muted red)
-paint the guest bathroom....maybe a robin's egg blue...I'm debating on whether to paint the cabinets Robin's egg blue and then paint the walls a cream or yellow color or paint the walls a robin's egg blue color and leave the cabinets white. I'm leaning towards painting the cabinets for a dramatic effect.
-paint the master bath a dark blue color
-wood laminate floors...I think Mr. Soup can install them ourselves. plus his dad and stepmom just gave us a great DIY home book.
so those are the updates so far with our little abode.

Friday, July 2, 2010

i heart summer

one of my favorite things about summer: answering to no one! it is now half past eleven a.m. and I'm still in bed with my babies by my side. I love snuggling next to them each morning. they are so peaceful when they sleep. this by far is one of my favorite things about summer.

I also love summer movies! Last night Mr. Soup and I went to see the third installment of the Twilight Series! It was so good! It kind of inspired me to read the series. I tried before, but I couldn't really get into it. I'm not a big fan of teenage lust. Must be the teacher in me! The week before that we saw The Grown-ups and we saw Shrek in 3D while Abby was here.

summer cooking-- I found this easy steak tostada recipe that I'm going to try tonight for dinner. It looks so yummy with red onions, spinach, radishes and my favorite.....cheese! We are also having people over on Sunday to celebrate the fourth. We're looking forward to good food and a good time with friends!

things I don't like about summer:
sweating--I sweat like no other in the summer, especially when I work out. I just started the Insanity work-out DVD, and it has taken my sweating to a whole nother level!!!
working-- working in the summer is overrated. I do enjoy it, but I'm so not disciplined to work every single day. On a side note---yesterday I was hired to teach a developmental writing course at Collin College in McKinney. I will teach Saturday mornings in the fall. While I'm not looking forward to waking up early on a Saturday, I am excited for the experience. This is something that I have wanted to do for a while and I can not wait to begin this new chapter in my life!

Friday, June 25, 2010

what is cooking with the campbells?

well, it is definitely hot down here in Tejas! I mean HOTT! But it's all good. As July approaches here are the updates in the Soup home:
We ended up taking my stepdaughter back home. Things just got unfathomably difficult. However, I'm still hopeful that some day things will get better. Right now we are going to back off and let her decide if she wants to come visit, rather than forcing it. It's been somewhat difficult (she didn't even call on Father's Day), but we feel as though we need to respect our decision to do that.
That being said, things are so much better at home. I feel like we're finally enjoying our home. Even though it's hot as Hades, I enjoy sitting on the back patio and watching my dogs play (drink in hand of course!). I haven't had much of a summer yet. When Abby was here, I was permanent chauffeur taking her to camp, Vacation Bible School, play dates etc. I didn't mind it at all, but I never realized how much driving can tire a person! I am writing 7th grade Language Arts curriculum, so that has keeps me busy. In addition to that, I subbed twice last week for summer school and attended the AVID conference the past four days. I actually enjoyed the AVID conference, but it was nice to sleep in this morning. One really cool thing about AVID is that it is nationwide so I ended up seeing my 7th grade Science teacher and 9th grade English teacher at the conference! Who would've thought? Some other highlights from the AVID conference: riding the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit= read: light rail)....it was kind of liberating (I've never lived in a city that was large enough for a light rail..although Dallas's public transportation is minimal) until I sat in a seat full of questionable liquid (I hope it wasn't PEE!), getting lost at the Hyatt and ending up in the kitchen, getting lost at Union Station, Mr. Bill embarrassing our group, getting in a debate with the people in my morning strand over the legalization of drugs, oh and learning strategies to meet students' needs and prepare them for the college curriculum.
I'm hoping July and August will be less busy, but I'm afraid it won't. We have friends coming to visit both months and some trips to make. My high school reunion is at the end of July and we're hoping to squeeze in a weekend trip to Austin as well. We are having people over for the 4th of July and for Murad, Sampson and Maya's birthday. We had hoped to take another cruise, but Murad doesn't finish his summer semester until August 9th....bleh! I'll be glad when he's done!
I am excited about the rest of the summer and 2010. Murad will graduate in December and will sit for the LMSW exam. With that, he's hoping to work at the VA Hospital here in Dallas and if things work out he would make our current salaries combined....which means if we have kids I could stay home. However, y'all know me. A. I love to shop so we need that extra money. B. my personality is not that of a stay-at-home mom. I am not internally motivated, so I would be one of those moms who lives in her pajamas rather than be productive. Plus, I grew up with a working-mom and saw the value in seeing her go off to work each day. I knew she had a life outside of the home that did not revolve around me. And in the era we live in, kids need to see that the world does not revolve around them. sometimes my students teach me invaluable lessons! However, I think stay-at-home moms work harder than the public gives them credit for. I have so much respect for what they do day in and day out and they rarely get a break.
Well, that's it for the soups! Hope your summer is well. I will post pics when I can of our home!