Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh what a beautiful morning...

I made homemade bagels this morning and before you start to think, wow, she's gone carb-crazy because of all the bread pictures on my blog, let me explain. I got a bunch of awesome books for Christmas, but most of them have to do with gardening and will therefore have to wait until spring. The book from my Grandma and Grandpa Schekirke, though, can best be put to use right now! It's called The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and it's amazing!

I first heard of this book when I took a bread baking class at Central Market and once I looked through it, I had to add it to my Christmas list. Since the cold weather has really been getting to me lately (snow was fun, but can it be spring now?!) I thought I'd bake my way thorough the book, a la Julie and Julia. This gives me something to do on my days off and warms up the apartment. Ross, of course, is fully supportive of this goal.

I also harbor a (not-so-secret-anymore) desire to own a bakery/coffee shop one day like the one I fell in love with in Canada. They had organic, healthy, and mostly local food... that tasted GOOD! I can make cakes, cookies, and muffins all the livelong day, but this is good practice for more complex "artisan" bakery offerings that require patience.

Today was doubly great because boiling and then baking the bagels at 500 degrees F really warmed up the kitchen AND the sun was shining outside! I could almost pretend it was Texas weather. In fact, the sunshine so cheered me up that I was actually able to drag my lazy bum to the gym!

Back to the bagels... I'm afraid to put the actual recipes here for copyright reasons, but I still took nerdy pictures! This was the stiffest dough I have ever made. I still don't think my wonderful Kitchen Aid mixer has forgiven me. Once the dough rested, it was much more friendly.

Bread Note: Next time, I won't boil the bagels all at once since I had to bake them in three rounds due to my non-industrial -sized oven. The ones that had to sit around between boiling and baking got soggy, lumpy, and flattened a little. They still taste good and don't look too bad once the toppings are on them, but you can tell they're a bit more dense.

In the meantime, Ross was also enjoying HIS Christmas present today! My parents and my mom's parents gave him Best Buy gift cards and he bought a really nice computer screen last week. Apparently in the design world, nice computer screens make all the difference. He then ordered the desktop tower from Dell, personalized to his "designing needs," and it arrived today! I don't think he got much sleep last night with all the anticipation!

Also, Ross said the day he ordered the desktop, the "Y" key stopped working on his laptop. I think it must know it's about to be replaced and wants to know the reason! After seeing the shiny new computer, though, I'm starting to understand "why" it's so much better.

The Secret Garden

My mom went home from the hospital yesterday and she's feeling well enough to eat normal food and walk up the stairs already! Recovering from abdominal surgery is difficult and painful. Hopefully she won't have to go through this again! Nine days in the hospital is too much.

The reason I was in Omaha last Sunday when my dad took her to the ER was because the Omaha Botanical Gardens had a spring show commemorating the 100th anniversary of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden. I met my parents there for the afternoon English tea and we were all watching the movie version when my mom started feeling sick that evening.

I took a few pictures at the exhibit, although they don't do it justice. All captions are quotes from the book. It was one of my favorite books when I was younger.

*"Do bulbs live a long time? Would they live years and years if no one helped them?" inquired Mary anxiously.

"They're things as helps themselves," said Martha. "That's why poor folk can afford to have 'em. If you don't trouble 'em, most of 'em'll work away underground for a lifetime an' spread out an' have little 'uns. There's a place in th' park woods here where there's snowdrops by thousands. They're the prettiest sight in Yorkshire when th' spring comes. No one knows when they was first planted."*

*"Are there any flowers that look like bells?" she inquired.

"Lilies o' th' valley does," he answered, digging away with the trowel, "an' there's Canterbury bells, an' campanulas... Why does tha' want 'em?"

Then Mary told him about Basil and his brothers and sisters in India and of how she had hated them and of their calling her "Mistress Mary Quite Contrary."

"They used to dance round and sing at me. They sang--

`Mistress Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, And marigolds all in a row.'

I just remembered it and it made me wonder if there were really flowers like silver bells."

She frowned a little and gave her trowel a rather spiteful dig into the earth.

"I wasn't as contrary as they were."

But Dickon laughed. "Eh!" he said, and as he crumbled the rich black soil she saw he was sniffing up the scent of it. "There doesn't seem to be no need for no one to be contrary when there's flowers an' such like, an' such lots o' friendly wild things runnin' about makin' homes for themselves, or buildin' nests an' singin' an' whistlin', does there?"*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thanks for the prayers

Thanks for the prayers and concerns, everyone! My mom had abdominal surgery Thursday morning to remove some scar tissue and the anesthesiologist said the cause of her pain was obvious: part of her small intestine was kinked like a garden hose! They fixed that adhesion as well as a second one they noticed. They also removed the appendix while they were in there, which I find hilarious. But since it'll take some time for everything to start working properly again, it makese sense to just remove it now instead of letting it sit there at higher risk of infection. The last thing she needs is another hospitalization and an emergency appendectomy!

She seemed to feel much better after surgery and was more awake than I'd seen her in several days. She said a lot of the "pressure" feeling on her abdomen had gone away. I would hope so-- they removed 1 liter of fluid that had accumulated due to swelling and third-spacing, which is a lot of water pressure on internal organs! Of course, the epidural Fentanyl probably helped her feel better in general, too.

Friday morning, our family friend Fr. Michael Mukasa came to visit her at the hospital and brought Communion, which I know meant a lot to my mom! (Don't worry, I temporarily disconnected the NG suction so the Host didn't immediately get sucked up). He was in town from Uganda for a presentation and fundraiser for Father Michael's Children ( My mom had signed up to go to the presentation but obviously coudn't, so I stopped in to say hello to Fr. Michael. He asked where my mom was and when I told him, he immediately asked for her hospital and room number and said he would visit her! I wasn't the only one in Omaha at a fortuitous time :o)

Since my mom is up and talking and making laps around the unit, she's definitely on the uphill. We're all ready for her to try some clear fluids and see how she tolerates them. Maybe Saturday... Until then, she's been more up for visitors and has been quite popular! After I left Friday around noon, she had non-stop visitors until bedtime! I'm so glad she's feeling a little better. She was in pretty bad shape when I stayed overnight with her Monday night. I hate seeing loved ones in so much pain. I know being sedentary drives her crazy, so I'm praying she gets to drink and then eat and get that NG tube out ASAP and go home.

Also, to any nursing friends who are reading this: if a family member says an IV doesn't look right, fully check out the IV! In the NICU, we're fastidious about out peripheral IVs. It doesn't take long for running fluid to infiltrate and since babies' skin is so sensitive, NICU nurses have to be good at recognizing the minute something's wrong. I knew my mom's antecubital IV was infiltrating, but it took her nurse about 2 hours to finally agree with me (meanwhile, about 125 ml of fluid had gone into the tissue around the IV instead of into the vein). Now her left bicep is bruised and sore. Grrr!

Overall, though, I really liked the people who took care of her at Methodist in Omaha while I was there. Especially her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) the last two days, Kelli. Nursing techs are so overworked and underpaid! It'd be tempting to do the bare minimum, but Kellie took the time to have conversations with my mom every time she came in the room. When she was changing the sheets Friday, my mom wanted to wipe down with some wet towels and Kelli washed her calves and feet and then put lotion on them! Not everyone will do that, let alone with a smile on their face!

In other news, my dad's tooth has been hurting all week and he had a root canal today. I felt terrible leaving Omaha with my mom still in the hospital and my dad about to go under local anesthesia for a procedure! Fortunetely, he said it went well. I just hope he's not too sore tomomrrow once the Novacaine has worn off.

Poor Bobby (my "baby" brother who is 17 years old), getting left with all this along with his high school and AP classes and busy sports schedule! I wish I didn't have to work. I would've stayed in Omaha all week and helped to get things back to normal when my mom came home.

As it is, I know all of our family and friends have been praying for us this week and that means a lot. Please don't stop now! This coming week will be just as hard with my mom hopefully moving toward coming home and adjusting to day-to-day life again, which is always painful after any abdominal surgery. And my poor dad is a patient himself, trying to be there full-time for my mom while she's an inpatient! My parents are wonderful and I'm glad I got to be there a little bit for them this week, after all the times they've been there for me!

Monday, January 18, 2010


My dad is an ER doctor. The best in Omaha, in my opinion. He's in charge of the Emergency Department at Nebraska Medical Center (the merger of UNMC and Clarkson hospitals). Growing up, he never freaked out about sore throats, bruises, stomach aches, runny noses, etc. Advil, ice, heat, or lots of water and the occasional Triaminic were applied as needed to most physical woes.

Last night, my mom had a sudden onset of extreme abdominal pain and after an hour or so, my dad took her to the ER. Since this is basically unprecedented in my family, my brothers and I slept fitfully last night and my dad stayed at the hospital until she was through ER testing, admitted as an inpatient, and settled in around 3am.

At this point, it looks like she'll be there tonight as well. She has an NG tube and the IV nausea meds are only helping a little. (I hate the idea of NG tubes. Through your nose and down to your stomach. Ouch!) She's scheduled for more x-rays this afternoon and they still aren't sure exactly what the problem is.

I'm glad I happened to be in town to babysit my cousins! I'm hoping to stay with my mom tonight so my dad can get some rest. Moral of this post: please pray for my mom!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

First Day of School!

Ross had his first day of grad school on Thursday! I wish I'd taken a picture, but I was grumpy and attempting to sleep before night shift. He loved the Interaction Design Scenarios class even though he was skeptical of the title at first.
On Mondays and Wednesdays he will have a Junior level Industrial Design studio. When he met with his advisor and found out he could join that studio, he was as excited as a kid in a candy shop! On Wednesdays after studio, he has Design Strategies. All of his classes are afternoon/evening classes and he's still working at Old Navy in the mornings.
I'm anxious to see how much we actually see each other one school gets into full swing. I'm hoping he'll be around more than he would be if he were in architecture grad school. But since we don't have any couple friends with Interaction Design school experience, it's hard to say.
In the meantime, I've been working 4 nights a week and trying to sleep during the day. It seems like it'd be so easy. After all, I'm always exhausted and we have really good blackout curtains in the bedroom so it's not the light keeping me awake! Mystery of mysteries, I guess. It sure does frustrate me, though. Here are the good things about night shift: it pays more and I don't go home with sore feet like I do after a busy day shift. I won't list the bad things. I'm just ready to see the light at the end of this tunnel!
On my days off when I'm actually coherent we have been settling in a little more, I guess. I made foccacia the other day to warm up the apartment. I'm SO GLAD the sub-zero temps are gone (for now), but I'm ready for spring weather and sunshine.

We have actually gotten out of the apartment, too! Tuesday was my friend Amanda's birthday (we went to nursing school together). She and her husband Chris live in Ft. Worth right now but they came up to apartment hunt this weekend! That's right, we have friends moving up here. I know I've mentioned them before, but we're just so excited! Any other friends reading this can feel free to join the trend (*ahem, Brittnye*).
Anyway, Amanda was nice enough to invite us to her family birthday dinner on Tuesday night at the Cheesecake Factory in the Plaza. We had a lot of fun!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Psalm 127

*1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.*

Lord, bring rest to my body and mind!

Friday, January 8, 2010

On the Bright Side

I didn't feel like I should put this good news into a disappointed entry about India, but there are some exciting things coming up, too:

-Ross starts grad school classes next week! (Weather pending, I guess)

-ROSS GOT A PROMOTION! Back in November, he was hired as a seasonal employee at Old Navy and at his evaluation this week, they offered him not only a non-seasonal job, but a promotion to Assistant to the Logistic Manager! Yes, we realize that this sounds like a Dwight Schrute title that isn't real, but it comes with a raise so we're pretty excited! I'm very proud of Ross. He's a hard worker even when something may not be his favorite thing or his first choice. That's an amount of integrity I know I don't have but he's so great about it!

-We have two social events in the next week :-) It's probably a little risky for two homebodies to get married. Combine this with our opposite schedules and the terrible weather, and we don't get out much. Or at all besides work and errands. However Santina King (now Cessor), one of my friends from 7th grade (YAY), has organized drinks on the Plaza tomorrow night. Fun! And then, our friends Amanda and Chris Schaum from Ft. Worth (double YAY) are coming in town to apartment hunt. Not only are they moving to KC this spring, but we're celebrating Amanda's birthday (on the Plaza again) on Tuesday!

-I've officially been an RN for 2 years this month. Which means a raise for me, too! It's less than a dollar an hour, but I'll take it. This also means I may need to think more seriously about whether or not I want to go to grad school in the next few years. I know I want to get my RNC (the "C" is for a "Certified" Neonatal Critical Care Nurse and involves taking a difficult 3 hour test among other things) in the near future, but beyond that I'm undecided.

Neonatal Nurse Practitioner school? I'd miss the fun parts of bedside nursing with my sweet babies! Nurse Midwifery school? That's what I originally went into nursing school thinking I wanted to do. I'd have to get some Labor and Delivery experience soon. Masters in Nursing Education? I could be a GOOD clinical instructor and teach my students without terrorizing them. Or I could embrace bedside nursing, join different committees at the hospital (once I've been there 6 months), and continue NICU nursing (I'd never completely leave NICU) with a few PRN days in Labor and Delivery every month (again, after I've been at KUMC for 6 months). Lots to think about.

The Best Made Plans...

...of mice and men, often go astray. I am no longer going to India on a mission trip this February. Although to be fair, it was never the best laid plan on my part.

In a nutshell, I had switched to my married name everywhere except on my passport. I didn't need my passport this fall (after all, I've only been outside the United States 3 times!), and then I was lazy and waited until after the holidays to get around to it. However, the February 11 departure date looks a lot closer from this side of December! I ran around last Friday morning (after working all night) getting a new passport picture (and going back again for a zoomed in version), gathering all the necessary paperwork, and waiting in line at the Post Office. I paid an arm and a leg to expedite the thing, but the lady behind the counter said I still might not have it in 4 weeks in time to get a Visa. (FYI, the trip was only for 11 days but apparently you need a Visa any time you go to India for any reason).

The passport stress combined with night shift stress/paranoia/breakdown combined with the fact that I'm really only now getting normal-sized paychecks again led me to send several panicked e-mails to the mission trip coordinator. Apparently, I'm very convincing when I'm having a breakdown because she said she no longer felt that I should go on the trip and she'd try to find some other nurses who were interested in going. I told her that was probably a good idea. If another nurse wanted to take my place, great! If not, then I'd hope and pray that my passport arrived in time.

This past Monday was the last day to change names on the plane tickets, and the coordinator found someone to take my place. After all my panicking, I suddenly wanted to cry. For some reason, I know lots of people who have been to India lately and I keep hearing about it! Now I'm really upset I'm missing this opportunity. It makes me feel sick to know that I was thisclose to going to India. For $2100! (Actually, subtract my $800 scholarship from that-- even better!).

Now all my worries about the timing of the trip keeping me from getting into a routine here after the holidays and back on a budget seem trivial. Now I'm thinking it'd be so great to get away from this goshdarn ARCTIC COLD come February when everyone's ready for spring. I never studied abroad, I never traveled after graduation, I should have taken such a great opportunity and not wimped out just because the timing isn't perfect, right?!

Which brings me to my question, how do you know this is God's way of talking to you, and how do you know you made the wrong decision/avoided making a decision to the point that it was made for you?

By the way, my brand new Passport arrived on our doorstep yesterday. And it only takes 1 week to get the Visa.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chocolate Cherry Bread

One of the things I greatly miss about Fort Worth (besides the people and the weather and Spanish-speaking patients) is Central Market. Grocery shopping was always more fun when Central Market was involved. Whole Foods just isn't the same. One of the best parts about Central Market was the artisan bakery. And this was a TRUE artisan bakery, not just another grocery store bakery pretending to be fancy. Year-round they made the best focaccia I've ever had in my life (but that's another entry, I'm sure). They had seasonal selections in addition to daily baked goods and my favorite was the chocolate cherry bread only made between mid-November and February. Whole Foods makes a chocolate cherry pistachio bread and, while I love pistachios, I don't want my chocolate/cherry combo messed with! So I took matters into my own hands (no pun intended).

What follows is, naturally, a product of boredom and my craving for said bread. (And it gives me something to do while the bread is rising.) The recipe is from Vegetarian Times (no, I'm not vegetarian; it's just the best recipe I found). The "12 Stages" are common knowledge to professional bread bakers, but I first heard of them in my bread-baking class at CM (taught by Gwin Grimes of Ft. Worth's Artisan Baking Company-- amazing!) and now I'm copying them from Peter Reinhart's book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Bread

Ingredients: 1 package active dry yeast (0.25 oz)

1 cup warm (not hot) water

1/3 cup + 1 Tbs. sugar

2 1/3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used organic white all-purpose)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted (I used Shatto, a locally-made brand)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate)

1 cup dried, pitted cherries


-Dissolve yeast and 1 Tbs. sugar in 1 cup of warm water. Let sit until the yeast foams on top

-Sift remaining sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt in large mixing bowl. Add water/yeast combo and stir with wooden spoon until smooth dough forms.

-Fold in butter

-Transfer dough to well-floured work surface, and knead 7 to 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticks to your hands

-Pat dough into 10-inch square. Place chocolate pieces and cherries in center of square, then fold in sides like an envelope. Press edges to seal. Gently knead dough 10 to 12 times, or until chocolate and cherries are evenly distributed throughout. Transfer to oiled bowl, cover with clean dishtowel, and let rise 1 1/2 hours in warm place or until dough doubles in size.

-Punch down dough. Cover and store in refrigerator overnight, if desired (I was too impatient for this), or place on well-floured work surface. Divide dough into 16 equal rounds. Roll each round into a tight ball, and place on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Repeat with remaining dough. Set baking sheet in warm place, and let rolls rise 30 to 45 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 375F. Bake rolls 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops appear dry and centers spring back when touched. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Now for my illustrated (humor me, please) version of these directions, using the 12 Stages of Bread:

1) Mise en Place ("everything in its place")

This step is self-explanatory, but it's amazing the difference it makes. Having everything out reduces the risk of forgetting an ingredient (which I know we've all done) or realizing you don't have one of the ingredients/enough of an ingredient halfway through (which I know I've done). This also has the added benefit of making you feel like a professional chef on a cooking show since you're now using little bowls of pre-measured ingredients!

2) Mixing (aka kneading)

Apparently, there's more here than meets the eye. There are actually 3 goals of mixing: ingredient distribution, gluten development (keep kneading... it's impossible to overmix this type of bread and gluten development is vital to bread structure and flavor), and initiating fermentation.

3) Primary Fermentation (First Rise)

In general vocabulary fermentation is bad. Indeed, this is the process by which most food spoils. However, it's necessary to ferment grain in order to leaven it. This process also releases sugars trapped in the complex starch molecules. Some of this released sugar becomes yeast food, but most of it becomes available to the taste buds and to the caramelization of the crust. Reinhart says that primary fermentation "is the most important stage in the creation of great bread."

4) Punching Down (Degassing)

There are four reasons for degassing dough:
a. It expels some carbon dioxide; too much carbon dioxide will eventually choke off the yeast
b. It allows the gluten to relax a bit
c. The temperature on the outside of the dough is usually cooler then the interior, so punching it down helps equalize the interior and exterior temps.
d. Finally, when the dough is degassed it allows for redistribution of the nutriends and triggers a new feeding cycle (which we will utilize in Stage 9 when the dough rises a second time).

5) Dividing

Here, we divide the dough into the final number of loaves/rolls, etc. or some intermediate number to be divided later. I know a dough scraper and food scale (birthday present ideas!) will aid in this step, since the goal is to try to cut the dough cleanly (don't rip) and with as few cuts as possible. Each time dough is cut, weak spots are created. These affect the final loaf if you have to combine two of more pieces to achieve the desired weight.

6) Rounding

The dough is now given a preliminary shape, usually in a ball. This stretches the gluten again and helps form surface tension around the skin of the dough. This will help the dough retain its shape during the final rise.

7) Benching

Resting the dough is not always necessary, but it's very helpful with any dough that resists shaping (meaning the dough is too elastic). Benching is complete (or not needed) when you can poke the dough with a finger, and the indention does not spring back.

8) Shaping and Panning

Since I'm making round rolls (boules), I'll share Reinhart's technique here. It's much more involved than rolling the dough into a sphere.

a. Gather the dough to form a rough ball.
b. To create surface tension, stretch the outside of the dough into an oblong shape, being careful not to squeeze out any more gas bubbles than necessary.
c. Repeat this stretching motion, bringing the opposite ends together to make a ball. Tighten the surface tension by pinching to seal the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.
This is hard to picture unless you've seen it done. Imagine you're rolling the edges of the dough in on itself to create an upside down bowl. Then pinch the outer edges of this "bowl" together as if you're trying to trap an air bubble inside Silly Putty before popping it.

9) Proofing (Secondary Fermentation)

From the moment the dough is divided, the secondary fermentation cycle begins. The ninth stage is the climax of this secondary fermentation, where the dough has its final chance to rise in preparation for the oven. The most important function of this stage is to bring the dough to the right size for baking-- usually 80%-90% of the desired finished size. This stage is usually shorter than the first rise because if our final shape doubles in size during this proofing, it may collapse when it encounters the "oven spring" that usually occurs.

10) Baking

Here, the starches gelatinize, the sugars caramelize, and the proteins coagulate. These are the final critical control points in determining the quality of the finished bread.

Many loaves require scoring to release some of the trapped gas. This promotes a proper oven spring and prevents the trapped gas from making tunnels or caverns in the bread, or even worse, splitting the bread along a different, non-aesthetic fault line (you've seen this when you bake a loaf of bread in a bread pan and the top seems to spring up so much that it creates a seam all the way around, essentially separating the fluffy top from the denser bottom of the loaf.)

11) Cooling (Patience is a Virtue)

While a loaf is still above 160 degrees F, they are technically still gelatinizing. The trapped steam needs to either evaporate off through the crust or re-form as moisture and be absorbed by the crumb of the bread. If the process is interrupted by cutting the bread while it is still hot, the loaf will seem soggy.

12) Storing and Eating (!)

Bread apparently tastes best when it has cooled down completely, to at least 80 degrees in the center (this can take up to 2 hours depending on the size of the loaf).

Storage "Don'ts":
-Don't store bread in the refrigerator. It will dry out.
-Don't store crusty breads in blastic bags or plastic wrap.
-Don't store soft, enriched breads in paper bags unless you intend to dry them out for bread crumbs or croutons.
Don't store warm bread in plastic bags or plastic wrap. This will prevent condensation which accelerates mold development.

Final Verdict:
The rolls didn't rise as much as I'd hoped while baking. One reason is probably that I neglected to divide them into their final rolls between benching and proofing! Instead, I messed with them and divided them after the final proof which probably de-gassed them again. Oops. Also, even though I only proofed them for 45 minutes, I used a much more effective method than I did for the first rise. Namely, I placed the dough pan on the bottom rack in the (turned off) oven and put two small pots of almost-boiling water on the top rack. This created a pseudo "proof box" with enough heat and steam to cause the bread to rise effectively. So they did, in fact, double on the second proof even though they're not supposed to. I'm thinking these two things prevented them from expanding again in the oven.

They sure did taste good, though! Even Ross approves. While the rolls are good for portion control, I think I'll make it into three loaves next time (a nice, crispy crust on a loaf studded with cherries and chocolate is more Central Market-esque).

If you read all the way to the end, bravo! You're either extremely patient, of a wannabe food nerd like me! Let me know if you try making the bread yourselves and how it turns out.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year (Resolutions)!

Today is 01 02 2010. Ross pointed that out and I thought I'd share. I do love numerical coincidences!

In other news, it's time for the annual New Year's Resolution list. I know some people don't make resolutions anymore because they say they never keep them. But I think making resolutions for the new year is a sign of optimism; and as Ross (and my parents) can attest, I certainly need all the optimism I can muster!

*Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle.* -Eric Zorn

Here are my resolutions for 2010:

1) Learn to think of something else besides Community Health Nursing (and Healthy People 2010) when I say what year it is. I'm sure all of Dr. Frable's students can empathize with me here.

2) On a more serious note, I would like to start praying daily with Ross again. We were good about it for a while, but the stresses of moving and our opposite schedules have definitely put a damper on this habit.

3) FIND A CHURCH! Ross and I have been out of town or both working nearly every Sunday since the beginning of November. In October, we went to 2 different churches, but didn't fall in love with either. The next one on our list is Covenant Chapel in Leawood, KS. It's a 30 minute drive from where we live, but it looks similar to our church in Fort Worth. Even better, I have a friend of a friend who attends and she went to TCU and Christ Chapel, so I know we have similar tastes!

4) Ahhh, the budget. Always fun. Again, the move and change in paychecks has thrown us all out of whack. There's no time like the present to start again!

5) Make friends. Try to ignore the pitiful-ness of this statement; it's something I really need to work on. I am very hesitant around new people and I've been told that can come of as snobbish and aloof when really, I'm just petrified of putting myself out there! I do have a fun young group of co-workers on night shift with me, and I know of several TCU alum in the area (again, friends of friends) that I need to get together with.

6) Do yoga once (or more) a week while training for the Cowtown Marathon in February 2011! Yes, Emily Gilmore and I are still training. By June, I'd like to be comfortable running 3-5 miles without a break (it's sad how quickly running fitness escapes you when you don't put it to good use). I also plan on doing the Bike Ride Across Nebraska this June 6-12. Ross' dad, my brother Daniel, and my Uncle Bob have expressed interest in going this year. I think I've just about convinced Ross, too!

This goal may sound somewhat shallow, but I really need to get into a routine of exercising again. I'm practically euphoric after a good workout and since I'm extremely susceptible to the winter blues, exercise is going to be vital to all human interactions until summer (and even then, it won't hurt)!

7) I'm ashamed to say I don't eat as well as I'd like to. I'm making it a goal to eat at least one serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal. Even this is woefully inadequate, but I have to start somewhere!

8) Laugh more, read more, cook more, play more.

*New Year's Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.* -James Agate

*The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.* -G.K. Chesterton

*From New Year's on the outlook brightens; good humor lost in a mood of failure returns. I resolve to stop complaining.* -Leonard Bernstein

*I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.* -Anais Nin (Interesting way of saying there's no point in trying... Bah humbug to this type of statement!)

*An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.* -Bill Vaughan (he has also said, "Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to.") I was up, feeding a baby at work at midnight on New Year's and Ross had fallen asleep on the couch trying to stay up :o) What does that say about us?!

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2010 find you filled with joy and abundant blessings in your life.