Friday, April 15, 2011

Animal Behavior

Don't let the cute face fool you

Other than my college roommate's cat LuLu, I have never really lived with a pet full time before. I have lived with roommates who had pets including my sister and her family but taking care of the pet was never my full time responsibility. I never really had the chance to learn much about animal behavior or demeanor. In the past year, I have learned a lot about having a pet from our dear Gracie.

Gracie as a kitten circa 2001

Let me give you a little background on how Gracie came to live with Kris and now us. Gracie was a Christmas/birthday gift from his sister Hannah. He almost did not want to take her home until I convinced him he had to bring her home. He was living in an apartment that did not allow pets and was soon moving. He did not want to take her and pay extra fees to keep her. But it was too late. I was so in love with her. I kept was playing with her and trying to think of a name. My first thought was Kasey because his initials -- KCK but the name did not seem to fit her. I tried to think of names to fit her feisty personality but none of those seemed to fit her either. Then it hit. She was a cute little gray kitten. Gray-cie. Gracie. The name was perfect. He looked at me and then back at her, and he knew he had to take her home. He made some arrangements with Hannah to keep her until he found a new place and could bring her home. After about 3 months or so, Gracie came home to live with Kris.

Gracie was a very playful kitten

It was not soon after she came home that he fell in love with her, too. How could you resist her? She was cute and playful. And she kept him company at night. Since we were only dating, I had an apartment of my own. At night Kris would come home to his apartment and she would be there waiting for him. I came over as often as I could to see her and play with her. She was just too cute that I could not stay away. 

Kris and Gracie reading the Sunday comics
Gracie's curiosity has always gotten the best of her
She found her way to places she was not supposed to be

Fast forward ten years, Gracie is now a ten-year old cat. It has been just Gracie and Kris all these years. They have lived in many different places but she has been his only roommate. He has been her only housemate, too. They have taken care of one another. She has grown pretty attached to Kris and was not looking forward to anyone moving in on her territory. Little did she know that the once frequent visitor would soon become a permanent resident in her home. This was quite an adjustment for both of us. I had never had the pleasures of experiencing her daily routine with Kris. After only a few weeks, I was introduced to her daily rituals.

Gracie on our dining room chair then...
Now...ten years later

Nighttime Ritual

Gracie has a very particular nighttime ritual. Just when things are perfectly quiet and we are all ready for bed Gracie is ready to start her routine. She will parade all through the house with her "mouse" and meow as if to show off her find for the night. Her parade ends back in our bedroom (where it began of course) to announce her find. After receiving adequate praise she will finally jump into bed to settle in for the night. This routine usually does not start until it is completely silent. Sometimes I am just about to fall asleep when I start to hear her meows from outside our door. The meows do not cease until she has been given praise from both of us and a proper invitation to bed. This ritual can last anywhere from five to ten minutes without stopping. Rarely we just have to ignore her until she finally decides to settle in for the night.  

I'm not as dumb as I look

I have learned in just the last twelve months that pets are not as dumb as they look or even pretend to be. They do cute things just to get your attention and you look at them. They look so cute and innocent but they really have something else up their sleeve. She knows who to nuzzle up to (kiss up) to get what she wants. No matter how high up or out of reach I put something she will find her way to it. She knows where to hide or how far under the bed to sit so just barely touch her. She can tell you just how mad she is when we have been gone to long. She just have to give you that "look" and whatever she wants is hers. Sometimes I wonder if she really is a cat or just a small child hidden under all that fur.

Despite all Gracie's silly antics and annoying behaviors, we love her to death. She always has been OUR little girl. She is the best kitty and I am so happy that Kris decided to take her home with him. I know that he is, too!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Marriage Prayer

A Marriage Prayer

help us to remember when
we first met and the strong 
love that grew between us.
To work that love into 
practical things so nothing
can divide us.

We ask for words both kind and loving, and for hearts
always ready to ask for forgiveness as well as to forgive.

Dear Lord,
we put our marriage into Your hands.




April 12, 2011

Outside my window... the sun has set and day has turned into night. It is a cool and cloudy night. There is a 30% chance of rain but there does not seem to be any in sight. Temperature is slowly rising. It looks like it is going to be another hot week ahead.

I am thinking... that tomorrow I will catch up on everything I have put off for the last week.

I am thankful for... the joys that marriage brings. The good and fun times always outweigh the bad and rough times. Both are necessary to help you appreciate the other.

From the kitchen... hubby was able to find a place for the extra mugs and dishes. They are not in their final spot but at least there seems to be a little less clutter. Now to finish the rest of the chores that still need to be done…

I am wearing... a fresh pair of pajamas as I get ready to wind down for the night and wait for hubby to come home.

I am creating… nothing now that my anniversary gift is done. I hope to get back to working on our scrapbook soon.

I am going... finish the last of my chores for the day and start to wind down for the night. It is going to be a LONG day tomorrow.

I am reading... the same book for the last 3 months. Financial Peace University is ending soon and I am still NOT done with Financial Peace Revisited. My books of interest seem to be growing. I added unPlanned by Abby Johnson. I have found inspiration from her story.

unPlanned by Abby Johnson with Cindy Lambert

 I am hoping praying... for all the unborn babies.

I am hearing... Gracie meowing as she parades her favorite mouse around the house.

Around the house...
my most dreaded chore awaits – ironing. I have put it off way too long and now all my hubby’s work shirts await ironing.

One of my favorite things... romantic piano music especially Jim Brickman.

Never Alone – Jim Brickman featuring Hillary Scott & Lady Antebellum

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Post-seminar What Next? by Jim Wicksall
Friday/Saturday: St. Pete
Monday: Bonus lesson of FPU (The Great Misunderstanding)

Here is picture are videos for thought I am sharing...

More Jim Brickman

The Simple Things

My Destiny
The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays.

Having Cake (and Eating it, too!)

Our cake topper: One Year Later

Throughout our first year of marriage I wondered if our cake topper would survive in the freezer and make it to our first anniversary. I had heard many stories about the cake tasting horrible a year later and most couples throwing it out after taking one bite. For the first few weeks after we were married when I would see the cake in the freezer, I would tell myself I had to take it out and wrap it up in plastic wrap as the wedding cake designer had said so that it would remain fresh. As the weeks and months went by (and the cake remained in the freezer on the plate covered with a plastic top just as we had received it after the reception) I kept praying that it would be decent enough for us to enjoy at least one slice. I was not expecting to finish the whole cake but I wanted for us to enjoy at least one slice. It was, after all, a red velvet cake and my favorite kind of cake.

A couple of nights before our anniversary we took the cake out of the freezer to defrost. I knew it would take a little while to defrost the cake after an entire year in the freezer. We left it out on the counter for a few hours then let it finish defrosting in the refrigerator before finally cutting into it on our anniversary day.

Attempting to cut the cake by myself

The initial cut was a little difficult but I was not surprised. We used the same cake cutter we did on our wedding day which had been given to us by Kris' Mom. I remembered it being difficult to cut into the cake on our wedding day, too. We had to cut through the fondant and two layers of cake. The topper was no different. Kris and I made the initial cut together just as we did on our wedding day. Then came the big moment. It was time to taste the cake. We were both a little nervous. We were not sure how to go about it. We wanted to eat a slice as part of the tradition but we were both fearful of how it would taste. We finally decided to take a taste together. We were pleasantly surprised that the cake did not taste all that bad. It was still pretty moist as when I had tried it during the cake tasting. The cake was pretty heavy but it was too be expected for a real southern red velvet cake.

Cutting the cake together
Eating our cake topper one year later

Despite the fact that the cake was not half bad, I still do not think we will end up eating the whole cake topper. We have a hard time finishing a fresh cake when it is just the two of us. How much more for a cake that is more than a year old? I am happy that it did not taste bad. I have even enjoyed another piece since our anniversary. I would have been so sad if we could not have even had that one bite.

Perhaps I will make us a red velvet cake for our next anniversary.

Our First Anniversary

First Wedding Anniversary

Traditional anniversary gift: Paper
Modern anniversary gift: Plastic/clock
Travel anniversary gift ideas: Travel gift certificate, Airline tickets

For more anniversary ideas check out this website

Husband and Wife: One Year Later

When I read the traditional gift for the first anniversary, I started to think about what kind of gift I could get for my husband to celebrate our first anniversary. Paper? What kind of meaningful paper gift can I get? Although I can write a great romantic and sentimental card, I did not want to get JUST a card as our first anniversary gift. I wanted to get something that would chronicle our first year and would be cherished. But paper? So with some extra thought we both came up with a couple of great gifts that we can cherish for many years to come.

Kris' gift: Jim Brickman tickets

Kris' original gift idea was an annual pass to one of the major theme parks. We are so fortunate to live within a couple of hours of the best theme parks. This seemed to be a great idea at first until we realized how hot it really gets in Florida. A pass good until the end of the year would have been okay if we purchased it earlier in the year when we could have used it while the weather was still cool. As the temperatures get hotter and hotter, the likelihood of using the pass in the next couple months was not very likely.

Jim Brickman in Concert at the Van Wezel
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
The back of the hall faces the bay

He still wanted to get tickets but now we were considering a show either locally or nearby. We have a couple of performing arts halls and forums within a couple of hours. We even have a local theatre nearby. We found a couple of shows of interest including a Jim Brickman concert at the local theatre the Saturday before our anniversary.

We got dressed up and headed down to the local theatre on Saturday evening hoping that tickets were still available. Lucky for us, there were still tickets available for the show. It was a perfect anniversary gift. Jim Brickman talked about celebrating his 15 year anniversary as a recording artist and performer this past Christmas. He talked about how it was much like a wedding anniversary. His music was soft and romantic. It was simply a perfect night.

Night Rain by Jim Brickman

The Gift by Jim Brickman

My gift: A Photo Journal

A photo journey of our the good times we have shared

After much thought, I finally decided on a photo journal for an anniversary gift. I knew it was not going to cost much money. I had all the materials (paper of course) in my scrapbooking supplies. I wanted it to make all from paper and by hand. I had some pictures from our first year of marriage as well as pictures from our early days of dating. I organized them into a small "album" which I made using black pages and a brown cover. I used letters and some stickers I had to decorate the album. I was a little worried that Kris would not find it sentimental but when I gave it to him and we looked at it together, he loved every picture and sharing the memories we have made together. We looked at it again while waiting for the concert to start. It was like taking a photo journey through our the last 10 years together. It was a great memory for both of us. He said a few times throughout the night how much he had loved the album and the memories contained in it. We have had fun just looking through it and remembering the good times we have shared.

The inside cover to start the journey
The end of the album but not our journey
The back of the album

We had a perfect weekend celebrating our first anniversary. We were able to celebrate with some family and friends who had been with us on the day we were married. We went back to the Church where were married and said a prayer or two for the year ahead. We even visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, one of our most favorite places. On the actual day of our anniversary, we went to Mass together and then enjoyed a nice quiet breakfast. It was the perfect way to end our anniversary weekend and celebrate.

The First Year

Our cake topper after one year

<3 Happy FIRST Anniversary my love <3 

I cannot believe that our first anniversary is already here and what a year we have shared together. Looking back on this past year, we have had many ups and downs and despite it all have made it to this great milestone. Although I knew we would never separate, I often wondered how we were going to make it through the very early months. I wondered if we would be living a life of only "pull you down and drag them out" fights. After a few months, things started to settle down and we started to adjust pretty well to one another and married life. It has not always been smooth sailing but we survived the first year and we are looking forward to many more years ahead. 


True to any new marriage, the last year has been one of many adjustments for both of us. We both have had to adjust to new roles as husband and wife and to a new living arrangement. Since I quit my job and moved, there were few more adjustments added to the already obvious ones brought on by marriage. Adjusting to a new town and making all new friends proved to be more difficult than in previous moves. Kris was the only one I knew and he returned to work a few weeks after we were married. I felt alone and did not know how I was going to meet new people. We searched for different Church groups in the various bulletins but going to check them out turned out to be harder than I expected. During this difficult time, my faith started to slip and I felt even more alone. Desperately wanting to get me out of my rut, Kris kept suggesting groups to check out. Few seemed interesting and my fear, anxiety, and loneliness grew. Eventually, I was able to check out a few groups. It took a little bit time and effort to find my niche in each group but soon I was making friends and felt right at home. I had found the Church family I had been looking for and I began to feel more at home in my new surroundings. 


Some of the words of advice that we received before we got married was that you cannot change someone. As I have said in a previous post, I believe this advice to be true. We cannot change our spouse. They have to want to change in order for any change to occur. They have to choose to make a change. Although we cannot change them, we can encourage them to adjust their behavior, attitude, or thinking that will help the marriage grow and thus becoming a stronger person. Kris has always stood behind me and made me want more and do more in life. He has helped me to be a better person. We both have made changes in how we think and react in certain situations not because the other asked but because we knew that the change would strengthen our marriage. When I can see how the changes have affected our marriage then I start to see myself becoming a better wife. Even though the change was difficult at first, we both made some changes that helped improve our marriage. 

Growth & Maturity

Over the last year we have had to make some really hard decisions. Decisions that neither of us have had to make when we were single. I never thought myself to be capable of making these kinds of decisions. But we had to make them. Whether we made the right or wrong decision, there was not going to be someone to catch us if we should fall. We only had each other. I cannot say that we have made all the right decisions but we have made the ones that have been best for us and we are doing pretty well. I have seen Kris over the last year grow as a husband. He has taken the role of husband to new levels. He has taken on new tasks with 100% commitment. I could not be more proud to be his wife. I am still learning how to be a better wife. I am still learning how to manage a household. There are days I think I am winning and still other days when I feel like a complete failure. But no matter what kind of day I am having, Kris is always there to remind me and encourage me. These have been some of the toughest growing pains but they have been worth the effort and fight.

With the first year of marriage behind us, we look ahead to the next year. We continue to strive to be better individuals and grow as a husband and wife. We hope we can continue to take our roles as husband and wife to new levels. We do not know what this next year will bring but we look forward to whatever lies ahead.

Here is to another year ahead my love!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


I have found that anything anyone has ever told me about marriage to be true. Every advice that I have been given, every statement I have ever been told, every comment that has been made has ALL been true. Some of the information has come from seasoned veterans who are more than experienced when it comes to matters pertaining to marriage. Their advice comes from many years of trial and error. Some of the statements have come from others who are only one or two steps ahead of us in their journey through marriage. Their experiences are still fresh in their mind and the lessons recently learned. Others yet have been divorced, separated, or otherwise "burned" by the marriage experience. Their lessons were only learned after the fact. But no matter who we have heard the advice from, it still remains to be true.

The one piece of advice that echoes in my mind as the absolute truth above all that we have been told is when it is all said and done, it is ALL worth it. Every experience whether it yields a positive or negative outcome is worth it in the end.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011



April 6, 2011

Outside my window... it is a beautiful sunny 77 degrees. It is a perfect day for a bike ride and some fresh air.

I am thinking... about using to get motivated to keep up with my daily/weekly chores.

I am thankful for... friends who are also great prayer warriors. Not only do they keep us in their daily prayers but also our friends and family who are facing difficult times and in need of extra prayers.

From the kitchen...
half a party pizza is warming in the toaster oven and a half-pound of ground beef is defrosting.

I am wearing... the same pajamas for the last couple of days. It is time to get out and enjoy the day.

I am creating... a paper first anniversary gift. I have been working on it in secret. Hubby has no idea what it is.

I am going...
to treat myself to a milkshake from McDonald’s. I want a shamrock shake if they still have them. 

I am STILL reading... Financial Peace Revisited. I am struggling with my book a month goal. I have to find a day where I can just sit and read.

I am hoping praying...
for Nancy and Joan.
Rest in peace Carl. You lived a long and blessed life. Our lives are enriched because we knew you. Eternal rest grant unto Carl and may perpetual light sine upon him. May Carl and the souls of all the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

I am hearing... DING! -- the sound of the toaster oven. Pizza is warm. Yummy!

Around the house... it is calm and quiet. There are a few small chores that need to be done but overall it is rather peaceful.

One of my favorite things... getting to talk with family on Skype. My 3-year-old niece sang nursery rhymes to me. She even asked my sister to call back after we hung up just to show me her new “glasses.”

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Thursday: Semniar Week #7
Friday: Orlando
Saturday: Easter Egg Hunt with Young Adults in Christ
Sunday: Our first anniversary

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

New landscaping project

Our front walk
The shrub we picked out.
It is called Loropetalum or Emerald Snow.
The view across the "lake" from under our oak tree.
The Simple Woman's Daybook is a brief outline for women/mothers who blog to use as a way to compose thoughts, plan the week, and keep a grateful heart. It is typically published once a week on Tuesdays.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thank you

Thank you to all our family and friends who follow our blog either privately or pubicly. Thank you to all others who may follow our blog from other sources. I am happy to see so many hits on our blog by those who follow it on their personal blog rolls or through links I share on other websites (Facebook, Simple Woman's Daybook, Living the Sacrament, etc) I am encouraged by all those who comment on each post. I continue to grow and learn in our marriage by sharing with all of you our experiences in our first year of marriage.

I hope to continue to share new experiences, lessons I have learned, and tips and advice I have been given along the way. I hope that you will continue to follow us as we continue along our journey. I only ask you continue to keep us in your prayers as we keep you in ours.

Thank you for sharing in our experiences. Hang on tight because this ride is not over yet.

My job: Saving money

I was worried early in our marriage that I would not be bringing in a monetary income to our family. I did not know how I was going to contribute financially to our family. Since we have been married, I have learned to save us money. This has helped us tremendously in our finances and budget. It helps to keep our income IN instead of going OUT. When we are able to save money in certain areas of the budget then we can use it in other areas of the budget where there may be a deficit or to make up for increased spending due to rising prices.

One area that I have mastered saving money is in the grocery budget. I knew early on that we were going to have to use coupons and other money saving tips in order to keep us on a tight grocery budget. It took some time to master this skill but I have managed to save us more and more each time we go to the grocery store.

Here are some tips on how I have been able to save us money.

Money saving tips

1) BOGOs & Bonus buys.
2) Coupon stacked on top of BOGOs & bonus buys
3) Competitor coupons

I use BOGOs (Buy one, Get one free deals) and bonus buys to "stock up" on basic supplies such as pasta, rice, and soup. I have kept our big shopping days to only twice a month – once at the beginning of the month and another in the middle of the month. On the other weeks, I only shop for the perishable items such as milk and eggs. I sometimes will capitalize on a few good sales such as crackers, snacks, or juice.

I know it may seem a bit out of the ordinary with the rise of technology and the Internet, but we use the Sunday newspaper to clip coupons. We look at the grocery store sale ad that comes in the Wednesday paper. Kris and I often fight over who gets to look at it and catch the good deals first. Stacking these coupons with BOGOs and bonus buys can help to save even more money.

Look out in your mailbox for the sale ads and coupons for grocery stores that you do not typically use. They may have better sales on items that you normally use.  Check if your favorite grocery store honors competitor coupons. Stacking these coupons with your BOGOs deals and other coupons can really save you money. Sometimes it may seem like just "junk mail" but there are money saving coupons in there. I know Publix, our local grocery store, takes competitor coupons.

Shopping tips

I always make a very detailed grocery list and stick to it. I know what items on my list I really need and which ones can wait. I have a basic idea how much I would spend if everything on the list was purchased. I typically only add items not on the list when I have other items from the list that I have not purchased. I am able to stay within budget each time I go to the grocery store.

Not only do I not go to the grocery store when I am hungry, but I do not make my grocery list when I am hungry. I may look at the sale ad a few times before I compile my list. I am able to limit my impulse for a certain item even it is on sale. It is not necessary to capitalize on every sale or deal. Decide which deals are advantageous for you.

Be careful of product size and cost. Check per unit costs of each item. Manufacturers use different sizes to entice you to buy less and pay more. The better deal is not always what you think when you compare per unit costs.

This article appeared in our local paper and you may want to take it into consideration the next time you are at the grocery store.

Make sure you watch your items as they are being rung up. Your grocery store may have a policy for items that do not ring up correctly. I know Publix has a policy if an item does not ring up at a price you think it should be, then they give it to you for FREE whether it is your error or theirs. I have caught this a couple of times.

I have found to be a helpful website/blog. The author lists sales & BOGOs deals coupled with coupons at various grocery stores.

Meal planning tips

I devise our weekly meals plans based on what is on sale and not what we are craving. It is an extra special treat when the ingredients for the special meals we have been craving are on sale. There are websites such available for a small fee to help you devise meal calendars based on what it on sale at your favorite grocery store. I plan our own meal calendar based on our food inventory at home and what is on sale. I am sometimes able to plan two weeks worth of meals based on our current inventory without having to go grocery shopping for additional items.

I have had fun developing my own techniques for saving money. These are the tricks that worked for me in helping to save money. I started off saving only twenty-five percent each time at the grocery store. I slowly was able to work up to thirty percent. Just the other day I was able to save the same amount of money that I spent. I am slowly working on tipping the scale where I am able to save more than I actually spent on the groceries. If I can just do it once in this lifetime, then it surely would be a great accomplishment.

Remember saving money is making money.