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.


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.