Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Training Wheels

Some of you know I took a job as a Financial Sales Representative with a Credit Union. I'm very excited for this life change. As our marriage started to grow we really began to see that the restaurant world wasn't giving me what I needed anymore. There were weeks where Ryan and I only seemed to pass in the hallway coming and going. As we coveted our moments together (since sometimes they really were just moments) we realized what a strain it was on our desire to grow into Oneness. Every week as my crazy schedule came out I could see the stress in Ryan not knowing where I was going to be, or when I'd be around, or how much I was going to work. We had to schedule in Date Nights, or even time to watch TV together.

This position was offered to me after a pretty cool sequence of events set up by God, and then executed by Ryan's mom (thanks, MB. ;)). Ryan and I spent hours praying that God would lead me to a position, but not just any position. We prayed that God would provide a position that saw value in the skills and experience I had, but wanted to use them in a different way, preferably a different industry. We wanted something that could become a career for me, not just another job. We prayed that when we stumbled upon the position that God would take away any doubt or anxiety we had about it.

My interview lasted almost 2 hours, and consisted of laughing and chatting with the ladies present as if we'd known each other for years. In ending the interview I was told that it could possibly take up to two weeks to hear back about the position. They called me back 4 hours later to say they didn't want to mess around anymore, it was unanimous between the three ladies that they wanted to bring me into their team. They knew I had what it takes to be successful in this position, and they didn't care that I didn't have any true banking experience!

So three weeks later, here I am in training in Wisconsin for the next month. Training is going very well. Today was day 3, and we finally started learning about the products and services we have to offer. It's been pretty fun and interesting. Ryan's mom keeps joking (at least I think she's joking!) about me making it past Day 3. Well I have, and I'm still into it, so I hope that's a good sign! Most of my class is high schoolers, with 2 college students thrown in. I'm the only FSR, everybody else is there for teller positions. I literally have nothing to say to these other girls, and as is always the case with me, the girl I like the least has latched onto me like we're best friends. In the immortal words of my mother, "You don't have to like everyone, but you can't be mean to anyone."

Emotionally this has been pretty exhausting, and we're not even done with Week 1! Thanks to technology I've been able to keep in touch with Ryan just like a typical day. But this is the longest we will have gone without seeing each other since we met. I'll be gone Sunday nights through Fridays, and head home straight from work on Friday every week. I know that this won't kill us, and that it is for the greater good of our family, but it's sad. I'm sad without him.

Thanks to everybody who prayed this job would find me. It is a serious blessing, and I'm very excited to start my new career!
Thanks again to everybody who has prayed for me and Ryan this week (and on into the month). I know it will help us through the frustrating parts. Just like it's training wheels for the job, this is training wheels for Ryan and me too!

Cheers, to a new career!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Makin' Magic Outta Canned Goods - 5

This week's plan (and last week's plan too) is:

Michigan Dogs with Creamy Coleslaw
  **This was a recipe straight off the Rachel Ray show. Ryan and I watched her make it, salivating the whole time! Try them, you won't be disappointed. Michigan Dogs
  **We topped them with shredded cheddar and mustard, instead of the cheese sauce. They were sooo good!

Salmon Kabobs with Rice and Tomato-Onion Salad
  ** Last week I saw salmon kabobs at Rainbow at the seafood counter, I went back this week to buy them. They were spendy, but delish! Three of them were enough for our dinner, plus Ryan's lunch. 
  **Rainbow also usually has steak and chicken kabobs pre-assembled, and with the salmon kabobs were also tuna kabobs. 'Bobs for everybody!
  **I might have mentioned it before, but Ryan and I like to eat BBQ sauce on our rice--I know, weird--but we do! So we sauced our rice with our salmon. Try BBQ salmon filets with rice sometime!
  **I made a tomato and onion salad, with olive oil and salt and pepper. It was similar to that mozzarella salad, but no mozzarella.

GF Potato Gnocchi and Peasto, and Grilled Chicken
  ** My old roommate Bia used to eat cheese perogies with sauteed peas and onions--that's what this meal is like. 
  **A while back I found a recipe for "pesto" made out of frozen/fresh peas (ahem, PEA-sto). I can't find the same recipe online, but when I get home I'll note where it came from. But I had some in the freezer, so we're eating it up!
  **I modified a potato gnocchi recipe t be gluten free (subbing rice/garbanzo flour for wheat flour). So we'll see how they turn out. The substitutions were based on some GF recipes I found as well. The original recipe I found was at King Arthur Flour.
  **I'll probably par-boil the gnocchi (about 60 seconds) and then fry them in oil to finish cooking for a (hopefully) crisp outside
  **I'll also probably throw some sauteed onions into the mix, because I like them, and add grilled chicken breasts to make it more substantial. 
Special Request: Steak with Rice and Asparagus
  ** Ryan wanted steak for dinner. I asked if he wanted anything special with it, or any sauce. NOPE. 
  **What does Ryan want with his steak? RICE. Always rice.
  **Ryan likes all green veggies, so we're having asparagus with butter and lemon. 
  **He's an easy man to please.

Crock-Pot Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
  **I wanted something to throw in the crock-pot to be ready for him after work, since I was at work into the evening. 
  **I used this recipe, but substituted cream cheese for the sour cream (because I wanted something more luxurious), and added fresh mushrooms and onion. I also mixed together the sauce and tasted/seasoned it before I put it in. You never know what you're gonna get flavor-wise with those canned soups!
  **It was exactly what beef stroganoff would be if you used chicken.
  **Neither Ryan or I loved it, but it wasn't bad. He ate it over rice, and I ate the leftovers.

Bon Appetit!

The Collyer Bros.

Per Carole's comment on my last blog, I read about the Collyer brothers. If you are interested, there's a long article you can read about them here. It's pretty f'd up, to say the least, but I couldn't stop reading it! 

If you don't want to read the article, the gist of it is as follows...
Homer Lusk Collyer (November 6, 1881 – March 21, 1947) and Langley Collyer (October 3, 1885 – March 1947) were two American brothers who became famous because of their snobbish nature, filth in their homes, and compulsive hoarding. For decades, neighborhood rumors swirled around the rarely seen, unemployed men and their home at 2078 Fifth Avenue (at the corner of 128th Street), in Manhattan, where they obsessively collected newspapers, books, furniture, musical instruments, and many other items, with booby traps set up in corridors and doorways to protect against intruders. Both were eventually found dead in the Harlem brownstone where they had lived as hermits, surrounded by over 130 tons of waste that they had amassed over several decades.[1]
...Click here if you want to read the rest of this article...

(Thank you, Wikipedia.)

The rest of the Wikipedia article explains more, but I liked the article from the link above better.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My own personal episode of "Hoarders"

I'm sure some of you have heard about our downstairs neighbor, Michelle, (aka Crazy Lady). For those of you who haven't...
Michelle has lived in this building for 27 years, since she was in college, I'm not sure how old that makes her. Ryan and I have only ever seen her in dirty old night gowns with a ratty shawl, or an over-sized denim jumper with a man's button down shirt underneath. She has long grey hair that is either pulled half way back, or into a bun every time. I've always thought she looked like a bag lady and a shut-in, like a "Cat Lady." Michelle started knocking on Ryan's door the day he moved in. She wants to know what he's doing, why he's making so much noise, did he have people going in and out, did they have permission to be here? Sometimes Ryan would ignore her knocking and turn the TV up, or quarantine himself to the couch for a length of time as if he's sleeping, or not home. Michelle started knocking on the door while I was here when we started dating, and I think we became friends. She told me about how she has incredible hearing because she never went to "those rock concerts" like her friends did. She told me about how she has been the "victim" of much harassment and has thus barricaded her front door and only uses her back door, sent all of her mail to a P.O. Box instead of the mailboxes at our apartment, and set booby traps in her apartment so she'll know if somebody was in there while she was away. We haven't ever even seen her window shades open. She has told me about how much she loves her apartment, the old woodwork and fixtures, and has spent years collecting antique furniture and trinkets to go with our old world apartments. She has even gone as far as to not let the landlord remodel her bathroom to have a shower since she moved in when everything was still just bathtubs. She is very particular about her things, and is adamant about protecting her privacy--to the point of not making a phone call without blocking her own phone number.

Through our chats I have come to realize that Michelle is just a very lonely woman trapped both inside her apartment and her own paranoia. I have done what I could to show her Christ's love and kindness. And though anytime Michelle knocked I knew it was going to eat up 2 hours of my day, I actually enjoyed her because I knew that I offered the only social interaction she would engage in for days.

The last time I saw Michelle was when she came up to tell me about confronting the rental agent the day before about some issues she was having with the heat in the apartment, as well as people going into her apartment without asking. She went out that morning to find a notice on her door saying they were evicting her. As Michelle told me about it I thought she was going to cry. This had been her home of 27 years, and they were taking it away from her! I felt so awful for her. Crazy lady or not, she had built a home for herself here.

When Ryan and I came home from San Antonio this week we saw that the windows of her apartment were propped open, as if to air the apartment out--since we know Michelle would never leave her shades up, let alone her windows wide open, we know she's moved out. We stood outside joking about how Ryan should climb up the side of the building into her apartment and let me in from the inside so we could see what it was like. We decided that would be a bad idea, and just tried the apartment door from the hallway instead. This is what we found...

Window propped open to air the place out. It's been like that for at least a week... how musty was it??
You can't see them very well in this pic, but there were several dried flower arrangements.
Dried flowers=dust.

In this picture you can really see how dusty everything was; the floor was so dusty it was almost slippery.

The picture doesn't really capture it, but there was a pile of plastic bags by the door that was the size of a small entertainment center.

There was food left in the cupboards, and her bathroom cupboard/cabinet were full of products, and the kitchen was straight up disgusting. 

Obviously there was garbage everywhere.

Friday, June 4, 2010

San Antonio

Ryan and I spent a long weekend in San Antonio this weekend. He had a work conference, and I went along for the ride! Thanks to everyone who prayed for our safe and stress free travels, we had a fantastic weekend!

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt on the Riverwalk. It was beautiful! We were lucky to have such awesome accommodations!

Our first night in San Antonio, Ryan and I had dinner and were serenaded (ahem, scammed) by the Mariachi's at our restaurant. This picture is of us on the Riverwalk, checking things out!

Pretty much the ONLY reason I wanted to go to San Antonio, was to eat at Taco Taco Cafe. I saw it on a special on the Food Network over a year ago, and finally got to eat there! They really were the best tacos in America!

Ryan's colleague, Christine, and her fiance Paul came with too. Paul and I spent most of the daytime sight seeing, and scoping things out for our group in the evening. Paul and I took a river boat tour of the Riverwalk. It was so interesting! We spent the rest of the weekend telling everybody about everything we had learned!

These pictures are L-R: 1. A building that from below looks like a free standing wall! It's actually triangular. 2. A "Friendship" monument that was a gift to San Antonio from Mexico. In the back ground you can see the Tower of the Americas. 3. A hotel that was built in 202 days! We learned that the first 4 floors were built on site, and everything else was built elsewhere and shipped in, fully assembled furnished, and stacked on top of each other. The hotel is completely sound and fire proof! 4. The Riverwalk and canals were built to keep the city from continuing to flood repeatedly. This picture is of a tree that took root inside of a restaurant during a flood! It remains there, and is watered from the inside! 5. This was Wedding Island. Sort of fun! We saw lots of just-married couples this weekend!
We were going to into The Alamo, but the line was too long to keep us interested, so we just stood outside for pictures. Did you know they've moved The Alamo twice?

This is a little map of The Alamo. I'll admit it would probably be more interesting had we gone inside... 

These pictures are from inside the Tower of the Americas. The photo on the left was on the observation deck, where they have a 360degree view of the city. The photo on the Right was inside, where there were telescopes, and maps/photos along the wall so you could see and figure out what you were looking at. It was pretty cool! 

These are photos of us on the ground, with the Tower above us. 

That's my Hubs. :)

Our last day was spent lounging by the pool, and then at a fancy dinner at Boudro's on the Riverwalk, courtesy of Ryan's boss, Tara. It was the best meal we had all weekend! No, there are no photos of us by the pool. After that, we met up with the others for the social event in the ballroom.

This is Christine and me at the event in the ballroom, dancing. No, we were not drunk. 

L-R: Christine, Ryan, Tara at the social event. 

We kept joking about telling people this was our honeymoon. It was nice to get away together, conference or not! 

On our way to the airport Ryan and I ate at Taco Taco Cafe again. It was everything I wanted it to be! You can't go wrong with somebody rolling out tortillas behind the counter!