Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school, back to school

After a wonderful 3 week break, I am back to school. Yesterday was the first day of classes. Being in such a small program is nice, because I don't have the stress of not knowing people, or new teachers.... all our classes are even in the same room! Having such a busy break didn't give me much time to be ready to go back to school, but as soon as I got in class I was completely geeking out over everything. I am so happy to be studying something i love SO much!

Speaking of studying... all that studying paid off last semester and I made a 4.0!! I managed to get through the semester making an A on every assignment, test and paper except for one B! I say this not to brag... but if you knew me in undergrad you know how much of a turn around this is. In undergrad I skipped class to lay in quad, never studied, procrastinated chronically.... and i graduated with barely a B average. But now that I am studying something I'm passionate about, it's completely different. I think and talk about school and speech-language pathology CONSTANTLY. I annoy the crap out of everyone :D

This semester will be tough, because I'm taking 15 hrs (5 classes). But I'm actually excited about every single one of them! I'm most excited about Research, because i looooove research and writing papers. I'm also taking Aphasia, Articulation Disorders, Clinical Audiology, and Linguistics & Psycholinguistics. I'll also be doing lots of observations of therapy sessions, because I will get my own clients in January!!!! (Scary but so exciting)

Last semester I wrote a research paper for my anatomy class on Vocal Fold Hydration, and I loved the topic! My professor asked me to present it at our school's research day, so in November I'll get to show my research to all of the other Allied Health students.... well... those who come :)

I have to go to class now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vacation, all i ever wanted

Austin I have been married for over two years, and until this mini-vacation, we had never taken a vacation alone together besides our honeymoon. Having our families and lots of friends in driving distance from Nola meant we used most of our off time to visit them. We decided it was time for us to take a little trip alone together, and I couldn't be happier with that decision!

Because of my school schedule, and Austin's work schedule, our vacations don't really happen at the same time. So in August, we had a long weekend where we were both off and chose that weekend for our trip. We wanted to go somewhere within a short driving distance, so we decided to go to Hot Springs. We found this fabulous bed & breakfast to stay at, and it was out of our price range, but we decided to stay one less night so we could afford it. SO glad we did. This place was amazing!!!

Most Bed & Breakfasts kind of make me think I'm sleeping in someone's grandma's room. Not this one. The whole building was beautiful and relaxing. It was so nice I just wanted to stay there all day! Our balcony had two rocking chairs that we could sit in and look out over Lake Hamilton.

Heres a link to the place, Lookout Point Inn, in case you want to check it out!

Every morning they serve AMAZING breakfast in the dining room. And before breakfast is served, coffee is ready outside your door at 7AM! So we would get up, get coffee, and get back in bead and drink it while looking out at the lake! Breakfast was unbelievable, coffee, juices, and several delicious courses. Here are a few pics of our fabulous food, i forgot to bring my camera to breakfast so austin snapped a few with his Iphone.

This is a berry shortcake.... yummmmmm. Notice the cute mugs! Each of these mugs are handmade by a pottery company, and lots of bed & breakfasts all over the country have mugs like this made. Some guests travel around just to collect them :)

This is Huevos Trifecta... Eggs cooked in cream in butter atop prosciutto on english muffins. again, amazing. In addition to amazing breakfast, in the afternoons they had an Innkeeper's reception with appetizers, dessert and wine!

Austin and I have both been to Hot Springs before, and there's only so much you can do, but it was fun! We went to all the lookouts and went to the Mountain Tower (an observatory thats like a zillion feet above land). We also did lots of antiquing, and lots of relaxing in the gardens of the B&B. Every night after dinner we sat on our balcony and drank wine and talked for hours. All in all it was a GREAT trip. Here are some more pictures.

Another view from our balcony

Austin and I at one of the lookouts

Pretty view

Austin on some rocks

Austin reading in the hammock in the garden

View from the Mountain Tower


View of the B&B from the back

I could post pictures all day! It was beautiful. The best part about it was getting to spend time alone with Austin. I think sometimes its hard for us to create spaces for us to reconnect as husband and wife when we are home, but getting away from all the distractions of everyday life gave us that chance to reconnect and it was wonderful. I am so incredibly blessed to have Austin as my husband. We are already planning our next getaway, and we hope to return to Lookout Point Inn very soon!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I'm bad at blogging

I'm obviously bad at keeping up with my blog, but i'll keep trying :)

I have finished my first semester of grad school! Can't believe how fast it flew by!! And tomorrow, Austin will have his first day with students at his new school! I can't believe how quickly summer has gone by.

I wanted to post about our new kayaks that we got a few weeks ago! For a little over a year, Austin has been begging to get a kayak. Begging. It became a source for arguments between us. I was okay with him getting one, but we had no place to keep it, as our former apartment complex wouldn't allow us to keep it on our porch. I didn't really want a 14 ft. kayak in the bedroom.

Fast forward to now, we live in shreveport, have a GARAGE (gasp!), and Austin worked an extra job this summer so had some well earned money to spend and he planned on getting a kayak. Well we went to Bass Pro Shop one day, and found TWO kayaks that were exactly what he wanted.... for over 50% off!! So we bought both of them so that he wouldn't have to kayak alone!

I haven't been able to go as much because I was busy with school, but austin has been throughly enjoying the new boats! Here are some pictures from our first time taking them out.

It was super fun! I am looking forward to going kayaking more when the weather cools down. We also are hoping to take them up to Arkansas on some camping trips soon!

Next post will be about our mini-vacation to a bed & breakfast in Arkansas (amaaaaazing!) and hopefully I'll post it soon!

p.s. we miss NOLA!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

busy little bee

WOW! I can't believe it is already 4th of July weekend. I only have four weeks of classes left before finals! This summer is flying by and I have been SO busy, but I'm trying to soak up every minute. In my last post I mentioned that my first test was coming up. Well, it came, and I ACED it!! Made a 98! I was very proud of myself, especially since I'm one of the few people in the class who has NEVER seen phonetics in my life!

Being a full time student, after having been a full time employee, gives me a new perspective on school. School is my job now. I am blessed enough to have a husband who is supporting me through this process, and I feel like I owe it to him, and of course to myself, to do my absolute best. Getting an A is like my boss telling me good job! Also, I know that this master's degree will probably not be the end to my education. I hope to go on to other educational endeavors after working for a while.

This past Tuesday, I had my Anatomy midterm. This class has been fascinating. We have the amazing privilege of working the cadaver lab. Learning about things in your textbook, and then seeing them on a real human body makes such a difference. Textbooks tend to make it seem like every organ, nerve and cell look the same from person to person. But when you get in the lab and get to compare the hearts of two individuals or the lungs of a smoker to those of a nonsmoker, you see the individuality that is inherent in human nature. It is a beautiful thing to see the ways that God has made our bodies to function. I feel so blessed that those individuals donated their bodies so that I could learn from them. They are, in their deaths, impacting so many people; emotionally and educationally impacting the students who learn from them, and then exponentially affecting all the patients that the students will work with throughout their careers. Even though you can't hear me, thank you for allowing me to explore and learn from you.

So back to my midterm, I studied for probably 60 hrs for this test. It covered all of the basic anatomy terms, the entire nervous system, aging and development, the respiratory system, and the anatomy and physiology of the ear. whew! I felt pretty prepared going into the test, until i got to about the 5th question. This was definitely one of the hardest tests I've ever taken! The whole class was worried about our grades, and I for one, spent the next 2 days depressed thinking I had probably made a C. Well, I went to my professor's office to get my grade.... and I made an A!!! I was ELATED! Now it was no 98, it was barely an A, but it was an A! All my studying did pay off, and now I have better direction as to how to study for the final!

We also recently got to hear a lecture from Dr. Ghali, an oral maxillofacial surgeon here in Shreveport. His lecture was focused on cleft palate repair surgeries. A few of the kiddos I worked with in Early Steps had cleft palates, and they were a big reason I chose to study Speech-Language Pathology, so I LOVED this lecture. Seeing the before and after pictures and videos from during surgeries was amazing. I have never in my life wanted to be a doctor, but Dr. Ghali made me want to be a surgeon. I will be sticking to SLP for now, but now med school is a tiny twinkle in my brain.

Now, I'm off to spend my saturday working on a paper on vocal fold hydration (which is absolutely fascinating, by the way) and then hopefully spending the evening relaxing with my hubby! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Husband's Favorite Meal

I titled this post my husband's favorite meal, but that's not completely true. This is my husband's favorite meal that does NOT include hot dogs. Many of you know of his mad love for those mysterious little meaty tubes, and some of you share that passion. I however, will never understand it. By the way, June is National Hot Dog Month! I digress...

Before I ever met my mother-in-law, Diane, Austin had told me over and over about how I HAD to try her enchiladas! I, being the lover of mexican food that I am, was all for it. So one of the first few times I met Diane, we came over to her house, and they were there. The Enchiladas. The ones I HAD to try. So I fixed my plate, started my enchilada....and it was delicious! But that wasn't the amazing part. About half way through eating it, I look up and Austin is shoveling his 4th or 5th enchilada into his mouth. I kid you not. This man can eat an insane amount of enchiladas. These are not meat and red sauce enchiladas, these are creamy, cheesy chicken wrapped in fluffy flour tortilla enchiladas! They are like the cheesecake of enchiladas.

Austin recreated these enchiladas several times for me while we were dating. But just like he overindulges in enchiladas, he overindulged in ingredients as well. The first time he decided to use an extra block of cream cheese. Yes I said block. I could not even eat half. He has also been known to dump an entire bag of shredded cheese on top. Please, do not try these things. It does not come out well. They are perfect how they are.

Throughout our marriage I have made these enchiladas time and time again. Each time, Austin eats the leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and snacks until they are gone. He is very sensitive about the enchiladas, too. If I ever try to make a change, he gets VERY upset! Once I wanted to try to switch the chicken for black beans to make them vegetarian. He said that if I did that, not only would he not eat them, but I couldn't call them enchiladas. Tonight I switched the chicken for ground turkey which he was okay with. The recipe makes 12 enchiladas, so tonight I split them between two baking dishes so that I could freeze half of them for a later meal. Austin panicked. He immediately quizzed me: "How many are you going to eat? What are our sides? Do I have to save some for breakfast?!"

These truly are special enchiladas. They aren't gourmet, vegan, or even an original recipe. But they make my husband oh so happy, and they are special to our family. I hope you give them a shot!

1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast OR 1lb ground turkey
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chilies
12 flour tortillas, 6-inch
2 cans (10 ounces each) Old El Paso green chile enchilada sauce
Shredded Cheese (type and amount is up to you, I prefer monterey jack, austin likes the mexican blend)

>Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray your baking dish with pam. You can either use a 9x13 dish to hold all 12 enchiladas, or two smaller dishes if you want to freeze half.

>Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until done. Add green chilies. Cut cream cheese into strips or cubes and add to skillet. Continue to stir and cook until the cream cheese is blended in.

>Next, spoon the chicken mixture into your flour tortillas. Do not overstuff your tortillas or you won't have enough to fill 12 tortillas. I usually put a heaping 'big' spoon in each one. You know, the spoons in your silverware that you only use when all the smaller ones are dirty? Yes those. Roll the tortilla up snug, and place seam side down in your baking dish. Keep going until your done!

>Last, pour the enchilada sauce over the top, and sprinkle with cheese. If your husband is like mine, do this when he is not around, and then don't leave the enchiladas unattended or you'll end up with the aforementioned cheese overload. Pop them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly!

Here is Austin, enjoying his favorite meal:

So, what's a special meal for your family?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Transitions (warning: long)

I have tried my hand at blogging in the past, but was never able to keep up the motivation to post regularly. Hopefully that will be different this time around!

As many of you know, Austin and I recently relocated to Shreveport so that I could begin a master's program in Speech-Language Pathology here at LSU Health Science Center-Shreveport. Many of you also know that I was not excited about this move. One would think that the chance to pursue a degree in a field you are passionate about would be a happy thing! And that chance excited me, no doubt. But the thought of having to leave my beloved home in New Orleans, leaving my friends, my church.... not so exciting. Actually, quite the opposite. But we went through with the decision, confident that God knows much more than we do.

Just days after I wrapped up my job at Early Steps, and Austin finished up his year at O. Perry Walker, our wonderful, amazing, loving friends came over for a night of truck loading, pizza and beer. The next morning we hit the road towards our new home, where other wonderful friends were waiting to help us unload and unpack. A few weeks later our apartment is now unpacked and decorated and feeling more like home. I'll post pictures in the next post.

Life in Shreveport has been odd so far, but good in many ways. Austin is working for a wonderful organization this summer called Louisiana Teaching Fellows. LTF is a program much like Teach for America (which is what brought us to New Orleans). LTF provides alternative certification program for people who want to become teachers, in exchange for their commitment to teach for 2 years in a high need school. Austin is teaching at their summer institute, training new teachers! It is a really busy job, he's gone almost 11 hrs a day. But I am so proud of him for doing it, since it increases his impact on students exponentially!

Grad School. I've been so worried and scared about grad school for over a year now: taking the GRE, working on applications, waiting on acceptances, and then bellyaching about what grad school would be like and if i'd survive! We'll I'm happy to say that I've now finished my third week and I'm not dead yet! We started with orientation, which was basically a day of hearing nothing but warnings about how stressed out we will be, which was pretty overwhelming. But classes have been wonderful!! Our professors are great and so helpful. My first test is next friday, but I feel really confident! My classmates are great and we've been studying together after class almost every day. One thing that is very different from undergrad is having all your classes with the same people, and all of you being passionate about the same thing! It creates much more of a supportive atmosphere! Next post I'll talk about our first cadaver lab! (it was awesome)

This post is long enough now. If you've read this far, thanks! To sum it up:
Our friends and family: awesome
Our new apartment: amazing
Austin's job: rewarding
Grad school: super cool
Shreveport:.... over all not so bad... but still not Nola.