Christmas is my favorite season ever, but this year it is  being ruined by lots of stressful things that have been happening. I need to vent and get them out, and then I am going to try and think about the positive things going on right now.

Stressors (sp?): This week I had a crazy mom sending me mean e-mails when I got her child in trouble. I practically had a panic attack for the next two days because of this. I also got stressed out by my grad school professor, because she sent an e-mail to everyone about plagiarism. We have to submit our papers to a plagiarism website, and it gives us a percentage to show how similar our papers are to other sources. The professor said any score of 20% or less was okay. I got a 26% on this last paper, because some words that I used were similar to other students’ papers. I freaked out and imagined myself being kicked out of grad school. Dumb, I know, but stressful nonetheless. I am stressed, because I switched to a new dermatologist. He wants to remove 5 moles from my chest/back on December 21. That means getting shot up with tons of novocaine, which will suck, and not being able to exercise or take a normal shower for 2 weeks to keep the stitches from getting wet or pulled out. I am not excited. And I’m stressed by all the things I “have to do” this weekend: clean the apartment, bake cookies (this I want to do, but I know I don’t need to), finish another paper (ahhh!) for grad school, start working on my last week of assignments for grad school, and go to a luncheon later today.

I am trying to rely on God to give me peace and strength, but I have always been the type of person to over-analyze things and make a mountain out of a mole hill. I am struggling right now with turning these things over to God to take care of. Everytime I feel like I’ve finally given it up to Him, the stress creeps back in or something reminds me of all my stress. I just don’t know what to do. In order to help myself, I am going to list the good things going on in my life right now. That always helps me overcome the stress, at least a little.

Good things: Josh has been at his job over a year now and is doing well. Josh and I only have $5600 in debt to pay off! I have gotten A’s in all my grad school classes so far. I am almost done with my third grad school course. I only have one week left of teaching before Christmas Break. I get to go to Grandma and Grandpa Thomas’s for Christmas! I am going to bake a bunch of delicious Christmas cookies to give to friends and family. Josh and I are lucky enough to afford a nice apartment and have money to pay the bills every month, unlike lots of other people nowadays. Josh and I are getting a new sofa. I have a lot of amazing students who work hard and enjoy having me as a teacher. Josh and I have our own ornaments on our Christmas tree this year. I have wonderful friends and family that love me and want to spend time with me. I have an amazing husband who loves me and wants to spend time with me. I have not gotten sick for 2 months, despite all the stress I’ve been under. I have a God who can get me through anything, even if it seems too much for me to handle.

Hmm. That kind of did make me feel better. I guess now it’s time to get to work and knock out my to-do list.

Meal Plan: Week of Dec. 5

Lately I have been getting bored with making the same things over and over, so I went in search of new recipes for this coming week. I was able to find some of these on pillsbury.com or in the Taste of Home magazine I got in the mail. I have also been exploring allrecipes.com and found some good recipes that I tried out the past few days. If you are looking for new and easy recipes, then I suggest you check out those sites. Here’s what we’ll be eating this week:

Sunday: easiest pot roast ever – this one was a request from Josh!

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: chicken and cheese enchiladas- This was a Cambell’s soup recipe I found in a magazine awhile back that’s super easy.

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: leftovers? – We always seem to have more leftovers than I anticipate, so this week I am planning light due to the pot roast and enchiladas.

Friday: spaghetti

Saturday: leftovers

Not super exciting, but I am looking forward to trying out the pot roast. I also realized that I accidentally got all the ingredients for another recipe (I was deciding between this and the enchiladas), so we will be trying a new recipe for southwestern goulash. That should be a good one!

Christmas Savings

I am officially done with all my Christmas shopping this year! How much did I spend? Well, let me tell you. I had to buy gifts for 12 people, and I only spent $150.59 and shopped at 4 stores. Here’s how I did it: Black Friday shopping! This was my first year of really going shopping on Black Friday. I woke up bright and early at 3:10 in the morning, so that Cindy and I could get to Target about 15 minutes before they opened. The line to get in went fast, but by the time we were ready to check out there was a huge line. It took 2 hours to check out- ahhh! After Target we went to Best Buy where I got my own Christmas present: a new camera! Now I can include pictures of things again, which is very exciting. I was able to get a pretty decent camera for only $80. It was definitely an impulse buy, but I needed it. I thought my shopping would be done after that, but when I got home I started looking at the ads and decided to venture back out into the madness and try to finish all my shopping. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond next and then Kohl’s. I was really impressed with the deals at Kohl’s. Some of the things I bought there were 50% off! Plus I have $20 in Kohl’s cash, so I will be heading back today to spend it on something for myself. Not a bad deal. It was an exhausting day, but it was so worth it to have all my shopping done. Now if only all the presents were wrapped…

Trying to live healthier

I have been working very hard these past few months to try and implement healthier options into our household. I have been slowly eliminating harsh cleaners/chemicals from our apartment, and I have been buying mostly organic/natural foods at the store. This all started because of my sister, Cindy, who is a vegan. Even though I will never completely go meatless, she has gotten me to think a lot more about the things I put in my body and use to clean my apartment. Over the past year, and especially over the summer, I have started doing more research into “going green” and eating organic. I never really understood what the big deal was and thought people were crazy for spending more on organic items or being really selective about the cleaners they use. Now I understand. I would encourage anyone reading this to watch a documentary about the food industry or read a book about organic/natural living. You will be surprised at what you find.

I have realized that it really isn’t that hard to live healthier. There are several things I have been doing to improve our lives since I started learning about organic/green living. I try to use reusable bags every time I go to the grocery store. I try to buy as many things as I can from the organic/natural section of the grocery store, and I try to find coupons for many of these items. A lot of organic products are not as expensive as you may think, and there are often good deals at the local grocery store. If you buy things on sale and use coupons as much as possible, you won’t spend a whole lot more than you do now. If I can’t buy organic for whatever reason, then I try to buy things that don’t have hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, or a ton of additives that I can’t pronounce on the ingredient list. I have also thrown out most of our toxic cleaners and switched to natural cleaners. I still have tons of regular detergent and window cleaner that I bought with coupons, so I am trying to use those up. But almost all my other cleaners are natural. The bathroom cleaners have been the hardest to switch, because I haven’t found a natural cleaner that removes soap scum very well in the shower. The old stuff with bleach worked so well, but I knew the fumes were bad for me. I am still searching for something natural that will work almost as well as bleach, so if anyone knows of something good let me know. I also cook any meals we eat at home and plan our meals for the week. This helps keep me from buying pre-made, processed meals or fast food all the time. I also know what goes into our food when I make it myself. Over the summer I started going to the local farmer’s market too, and I am hoping to do that again next summer. They actually had some really good prices on organic beef and vegetables, so I recommend this for anyone who avoids organic foods because of the cost.

I am still not perfect, but I am doing better. I will try to post on here any new things I am doing to live healthier. Let me know if you have any good ideas or information to share.

Meal Plan: Week of 10/24

I had a great day grocery shopping yesterday. I actually did not need that much, because I had a lot of meals leftover that we never got to last week. That is a good thing, though. Instead of buying dinner food I was able to stock up on cereal and frozen meals for Josh to take to work. Here is what we’ll be having this week:

Sunday: homemade pizza

Monday: tilapia packets (tilapia, corn, and diced tomatoes cooked inside a foil packet- YUM!)

Tuesday: lasagna roll-ups

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: bbq pork on homemade buns (leftover pork from a week ago that I froze)

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: turkey tenderloin and cheesy au gratin potatoes (I’m sad to say that I bought Betty Crocker boxed potatoes.)

Grad School

Currently I am working on my Master’s Degree online, and I am almost done with my second class. I will officially be done a week from this Sunday, and it feels good to know that I will be able to cross one more class off my list. This class has definitely been more difficult than the first, mainly because I have been working while taking the class. There have been a few weeks when I didn’t feel like doing my homework or felt really overwhelmed by the workload. I was also sick during 3 weeks of class, so that didn’t really help me any. Somehow, though, God helped me get through it.

As I get ready to finish this class I am really proud of myself. I have worked hard, and I should be able to pull off an A for the class. I remember thinking about starting my Master’s and hoping I could at least get a C! I guess I underestimated myself. I am still getting frustrated by other people in my classes, though. Doesn’t anyone know how to write and follow directions? I honestly wish I could see everyone’s grades, because some of these people make no sense when I read their work. Sorry if that makes me sound like a jerk, but I honestly get frustrated when I work my butt off and see other people submit work that I don’t feel is very good. I just hope they are not getting the same grades as me, because that would be ridiculous. It would mean that I am working way harder than I need to. Again, sorry if I sound like a jerk. I’m just being honest.

Overall, I am excited that I’m almost done with another class and proud of myself for not giving up.

Meal Plan- Week of 10/18

Another week, another set of delicious meals!

Monday- spaghetti pie, salad, and peasant bread made in my bread machine. I am so excited about the bread, because I haven’t tried this recipe yet. Last time I just made regular french bread, and it was delicious. I am hoping this bread will be equally as good. I am also excited, because spaghetti pie is a favorite for us!

Tuesday- leftovers

Wednesday- eating out with some of Josh’s work buddies

Thursday- homemade chili

Friday- cookout with Josh’s parents

Saturday- leftovers (I am making a double batch of chili on Thursday, because it is so good. If we don’t have any leftover, then I can always pull out my leftover pizza dough and throw together a homemade pizza. It pays to have a back-up plan!)


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