Monday, December 21, 2009

You know you're not a teacher anymore when...

1. You are able to work out after an 8 hour day.
2. You don't just buy ballet flats and sandals.
3. You make plans to hang out with people on week nights.
4. You don't get the Sunday night blues.
5. You don't have any funny stories.
6. You're not sure what to do with the extra energy and hours in your day.
7. You don't get flowers from your husband because you haven't had a really bad day in a long time.
8. You manage to gain weight, despite the extra working out.
9. You don't live for the weekend.
10. You can enjoy some tv without grading.

Don't get me wrong, I miss my kids from the last 6 years and my co-workers a whole lot, but it is amazing what it's like just to have a "normal" job. I'm so thankful for this season!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Doing Life Together

Ryan and I feel really blessed to have a group of people from our church here in Austin that we kind of "do life with". We use that term to describe them because we see these guys once a week, rain or shine.

We meet together to share the good, bad, and the ugly from our weeks, study the Bible, and share our prayer requests. It's so encouraging to have a family of believers to spur you on to grow toward Jesus. Ryan and I are so thankful for the 3 years that this group has been meeting together.

Here are some of our highlights from that time:

Pumpkin carving at Halloween

Hangin' out with our parents at the Assunto's Iron Chef Competition

Cheering Ryan on to marathon glory

Cheering on the Round Rock Express

Celebrating birthdays

Sneaking snacks into various events

I just realized that Ryan, nor many of the other guys in our group, are even in these pictures. I guess they did a good job hiding from the camera.
We love all of you and are so thankful that the blessing that you are in our lives!

Monday, October 19, 2009

To Everything There is a Season

Many of you know that my first "real" job out of college and, the place where I've spent the last 5+ years of my life has been here...

Stephen F. Austin High School
downtown Austin, Texas

I've been the cheerleading sponsor, worked on the advisory council, written curriculum, served on committees, tutored, gone to every sporting event, theatre event, and every other event under the sun, and been a part of the Austin High community.

Teaching high school has been crazy fun, unbelievably stressful, overwhelming, joyous and just about every single emotion in between. Some days you feel like you made a true difference in a kid's life, the next day you feel like you're spinning your wheels, and some days you just feel completely deflated. It's a roller coaster to say the least.

Due to the stress of the job, I had to make probably the most difficult decision I've faced up to this point in my life. I left the comfort of a profession that I am deeply passionate about and a faculty unmatched anywhere else. The teachers and students I worked with at Austin High over the last 5 years have been so, so good to me, and I'm grateful for the experience I've had there.

Tomorrow I will start here...

Region 13 Education Service Center
east Austin, Texas

Region XIII is kind of like "coming home" to me. This is the organization that supports all of the school districts and educational facilities in Central Texas. They do workshops and all kinds of trainings. This is where I started out in education. I took class here for months and months and months to get my alternative teachers certification.

I'm really excited about where the Lord has led me and can't wait to get started with my new team!

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's all in the shoe

A few months ago Ryan, my marathon-running-husband, went with me to Academy for a running-shoe-trying-on-spree. No lie, I think I tried on about 25 pairs of running shoes, trying to find a good fit.

Naturally, the ones I liked the most were these lovely guys, and they were literally the most expensive tennis shoes in the store at $130. If you know me well you know there's NO WAY I'm paying Nike that much money for running shoes. I don't care how heavenly they are.

So, I wrote down the name of the shoe and model number in my Blackberry and vowed to find them cheaper. I googled and googled and googled and could not find a better deal aaaanywhere, nor could I find any on-line coupons. Discouraged? Yes!

About a month later, I found a coupon for Dick's sporting goods, so I decided to suck it up and get 20% off of the shoes with free shipping. Not too bad.

Uuuuuntil, I found these guys on their website when I went to check out....

Yes friends, the EXACT same shoes in yellow instead of pink. YES PLEASE! Wanna know how much these puppies were? $57 (still free shipping). Why Why Why Why, Nike?! Do people really want a pink swoosh enough to pay that much more for the shoe? It scares me that the answer might be yes.

I have run SO MUCH MORE lately because of these comfy shoes. If you're needing some encouragement to hit the trail, update your shoes or socks or shorts or something.... as sad as it is, it helps!


I know I haven't blogged in quite a while (post on why coming soon) and I'm just bustin' back in with a serious topic, but this has really been on my heart and mind lately, and I wanted to share. I'm hoping that of the 5 people reading it will help, at least, one of you.

I've had a difficult time over the years having a consistent prayer life. It seemed like every time I would sit down to pray I would think about something, lift it up to the Lord, and then let my mind wander to other things. Basically, after some focused thought I would end up day dreaming. In fact, I did the same thing in college when I would try to study for a test. I would read a paragraph about political blah blah blah, and my mind would wander aaaaall over the place. It's amazing how thinking about one thing can lead to another, then another, then another, and you're like, "How did I get to thinking about _____ when I started out praying about _____???"

I've been in a place in my life over the last few months where the Lord has broken me more than He ever has before. It's been uncomfortable, scary, and I have never ever in my life had to lean on Him more. And, as a survival skill, I've had to learn to pray.

I've never been into, or understood, diaries. I feel like I would try to edit my entries so that whoever read it one day would end up thinking I was way cooler and stronger and more fun than I actually am. However, I have started a prayer journal. I didn't really mean for it to start out that way, but that's what it has turned into. I write out my raw, straight from my head to my hand, prayers to the Lord out on paper. It helps me to stay focused on my train of thought, and it helps me to really think through what I'm praying. I also write other people's prayer requests down and pray for them, so that I don't just say, "Yeah, I'm praying for you." and then totally forget.

Trust me, I know this isn't an original thought about how to pray, but I've really been encouraged and strengthened in my walk with the Lord since I started using this tactic. And, sometimes when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed or thankful or whatever and I don't have the journal with me (it just stays at home), I write out my prayer- even just a sentence, on a little post it note or scrap of paper. I guess it just feels more tangible to me, I don't know.

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ."

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My new love

Well, I've always liked it but, lately, I have begun to L-O-V-E sushi! I've made friends with the guys at our local HEB who make it fresh there daily, and it's made me and my budget really happy.
However, if you live in Austin or are visiting, Ryan and I discovered a great place this week on Colorado between 2nd and 3rd that has a great happy hour- lots of rolls for $5, $8 and $10. It's called Yu, and I would highly recommend it. I've actually been to their happy hour twice this week!
You could get a one of these....

and maybe one of these for dessert...

Happy sushi-ing!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Before you buy makeup...

check out this book.
My friend, Kristin, found it a couple years ago when we were hanging out at Barnes and Noble, and I've referenced it ever since. She rates all kinds of skin care products by brand and also by type of product. So far I've liked all of her recommendations.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This kiiiinda makes me want to go to jail

You guys know how much we LOVE our yellow lab puppy, Bella. Well, I was watching Oprah a couple weeks ago and there was a segment about an organization called Puppies Behind Bars. At first I thought it was going to be about puppies being abused, but I think that was just a way to get the audience's attention. Phew. I don't think I could have taken another one of those.

The organization places 8 week old puppies, mostly labs and golden retrievers, with prisoners. The puppies live with them in their cells and are around them 100% of the time. The prisoners have been taught how to train the puppies to be service dogs and explosive detecting dogs. It's a wonderful cycle of rehabilitation. I had tears streaming down my face watching the inmates talk about how the dogs had taught them to love someone/ something. Many of them were not as fortunate as many of us to be raised in loving and caring homes, so feeling and acting on this emotion were totally new experiences.
If you even kind of like dogs, you will love the videos on their website. They are amazing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

East Coast Yay Yay

Ryan and I had such a fun trip to South Carolina last week. The Assuntos have a family friend who let us stay at his house on the beach, and it was amazing. The house was super nice, the beach was gorgeous, the restaurants were delicious, and we really enjoyed the down time.

While we were there we visited the Citadel. This was really cool for me because some of my family graduated from there.

The house was located on a great spot on Folly Beach. The view was very South Carolina-ish, and we had so much fun hanging out on the deck playing cards and reading.

Ryan played a couple rounds of golf that spread into the three days because of some rain, and I rode along in the cart with him. The courses were really beautiful. It made me want to play golf, and nothing has ever made me want to do that before!

We had a lot of fun hanging around Folly Beach. We ate at some great places and loved just getting to ride around town on bikes. I for sure almost fell like 6 times. It's been awhile....

And, probably one of the best parts of our trip, were the restaurants. If you've ever been to the Charleston area, you know what I'm talking about. We ate at so many good places. We meant to go out for a big, fancy dinner, but every place was so good, we got burned out and had to eat Mexican food for a break... Fat kids!!!
On Friday when we got back, we landed at the Houston airport at 2:30pm, and we needed to be back in Austin as quickly as possible. Ryan's best friend Thomas got married on Saturday and his rehearsal was at 4:30pm that Friday. So, we rushed back as quickly as possible- didn't make the the rehearsal, but we got to the dinner right on time.
The next night was the wedding, and the whole Assunto clan had a blast. Ta da!!!

And now it's back to school....

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Aren't these GORGEOUS?

My friend Robin Lind MADE these for me!!! I can't even make a scrapbook with pre-cut shapes, but she can make jewelry...lots and lots of cool pieces. Check her portfolio out at . Her link is at the bottom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

She works haaard for the money!

I must confess... I LOOOOVE to save money and find good deals. I think it's important to steward money well, silly to waste it on dumb things and I want to make my momma proud. Sandy Lynch is the QUEEN of money savers, and I like to think I've learned a thing or two from her. Plus, much more than makin' momma proud, I want to make my Heavenly Father proud. What he blesses us with, actually belongs to him, and if I want to strive for every aspect of my life to glorify him, this must go along with it.

None of the things I/ we do to save money make us go very far out of our way. We have busy lives, so saving money can't be our full time job. And, I don't say no to things very often, just because they're a dollar or two more than I wanted to spend. I just try to be careful with the little things that can add up.

I got so excited the other day thinking about all of the bargains I found when doing stuff around our house this summer that I decided to make a list of some of my favorite ways to save money. I would love love love to hear your tips too, so send them my way!

1. I heart Costco... a lot. Yes, some of their items have to be bought in large quantities (I may or may not have enough Ziploc bags to get between 3 and 4 children through elementary school with a sack lunch every day) but not all of their items are bulk. They have great prices and great quality meat, frozen food, bread, cakes, cookies, glasses, contacts, medicine, etc. etc.

2. Costco has awesome coupon specials that they send you in the mail. I have saved $29 in one trip before and, yes, it made my day.

3. I found out the other day that Mr. Car Wash will give you 5 bucks off your wash if you have a competitors coupon. I paid about 6 bucks to get my car washed- inside and out, which is cheaper than you'd even pay at a gas station. Thank you sir, may I have another? I will be asking more often about competitor's coupons. We also saved this way when we bought our refrigerator because we found it cheaper at one store, so Lowes gave us that price and 5% or 10% off... I can't remember now.

4. Red Box. I love it! We are sporadic in renting movies, so having a Netflix-type thing isn't our best option. We rarely even pay to rent movies at Red Box because you can google search for promo codes and get tons of free rentals. Free movie at Red Box or 4 bucks at Blockbuster... hmmmm, let me think about it.

5. As mentioned in number 4, I aaaaalways google for coupons. When we went on our Decade of Friendship Trip to Mexico, we saved 50 bucks off of each room, just for having a silly promo code. It doesn't get much easier than that!

6. This one is a no-brainer. I never... EVER... buy anything at Bed Bath and Beyond without a 20% off coupon. They never expire and the manager told me last week that they could be used for anything, even the stuff that they say they can't be used for on the coupon.

7. Ryan and I put EVERYTHING on our credit cards and, obviously, pay them off at the end of every month. Then, we save up our reward points for travel. In the past two and a half years we've gotten 6 round trip plane tickets and a four night hotel stay in San Francisco without spending a dime. I almost feel bad because we've never paid the credit card company even a penny.

8. We rarely eat lunch out. For me it's easy because I'm at school, but Ryan is good about it too. We eat leftovers for lunch or make something at home. If we do go out, we split a Subway sandwich or something like that. If I go to lunch with you and spend more than 4 dollars, you're special.

9. I try to wait for sales. This is a toughy. But, it's so hard for me to buy clothes at a store like the GAP when I know if I wait a couple weeks I'll get it cheaper. It depends on the price, but I'm trying to get better at this. I also love shopping at outlets. We have one within about 20 minutes so it's pretty convenient. The J. Crew outlet, to me, is like entering the motherland.

10. Consumer Reports is my go-to. We've used it to help us find the best value on our camera, tv, car, ipod, smart phone, vacuum, etc. etc. It's really helpful in finding which product is what you need. Without it I might have bought the Dyson vacuum and any of the other items listed above with many more gadgets than what I would use.

11. I ask about discounts for being a teacher (you can use this for lots of jobs). For example, who knew that Verizon would give you a 20% discount on your portion of the wireless bill just for being a state employee? Not me, but I asked and now I save every month.

This is a lot of text, so if you made it this far, way to go! Yes, it bothers me that I could only think of 11 items, which is not a round number, but I'm going to get over it. I'd love to know about any other little tricks out there, so send your tips my way!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

When the cat's away... the mice will play.

What's a girl to do when her husband is on a business trip or hanging out with the guys on a Saturday night?

The only answer we could think of was to have a


Complete with some dinner...

And dessert...

And maybe a one of these...

A special thank you to our sponsors:

Chuy's jalapeno ranch

Real Simple's Zesty Chicken Enchiladas

You Tube

The cable that connects You Tube to your TV

Your husband's computer speakers

A new cute apron from Pier One

Lisa Loeb

Wilson Phillips

Reba McEntire


N Sync



of course...


We couldn't have done it without you.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Deals of the Day

I LOVE saving money (blog post on that coming soon) and I've recently come across two deals that I wanted to pass along.

I've never personally used this site, but I have talked to others that have and checked out the press section on their website. It looks too good to be true, but I think it's legit. I mean, it shows them on the Today Show. It's gotta be for real!
You go on the site to buy gift cards at a discounted price. For example, a $25 gift card is $10. But, until the 31st you can get their $10 gift card for 80% off ($2) by entering the code NAPKIN.
Now, there are some restrictions like a minimum food purchase, certain days and not covering alcohol, but you will still be saving a lot on the overall experience.
The second is
It's a 30% off coupon at GAP, Banana and Old Navy as well as their outlets from today until August 2nd. And, the great part is, you can use it more than once.
Happy eating and shopping!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Charleston here we come... in a few weeks!

Soooo... this is the house where Ryan and I will be staying when we go to Charleston in a few weeks. Doesn't it look like something out of a J. Crew catalog?! We are SOOO excited!

Monday, July 27, 2009

After some blood, sweat and tears

By the time each summer rolls around I have always compiled a lengthy "to-do" list of different projects I have put off until I have the time to complete them from start to finish. This summer all of my projects happen to have been home improvement related, so I just wanted to share with the 4 people who read my blog what we've been up to.

I'd like to dedicate this whole write up to my wonderful, wonderful husband who put together everything that needed to be put together, gave advice when I wanted it and went along with my madness in wanting to get all of this done in a matter of about 4 weeks. I love you!

Our first few projects were simple. I just wanted to find a few things to add a little color.

So, I bought these cute pillows for our chairs on the back patio,

got these fun shams to brighten up the bed in one of our guest rooms,

found these plates to spice up our kitchen table,

got these rockers to go outside,

Ryan loooooved putting them together! (please note the sarcasm. It's a good thing I got them on sale or they would have gone straight back to the store!)

and scored this mother of pearl-ish lamp to go on the turquoise bed side table I painted last summer.

Yay for the little things that add a little something but don't require any putting together!

Our next few projects were a little larger, so I took some before, during and after shots.

The Formal Dining Room (aka Ryan's office) without the furniture

Just checking to make sure we like the color

....aaaand we're done!
The last time we wanted to paint in our house, we paid some people to do it. Although it was some work, I am much prouder of it having done it myself. Thank the Lord for summer break!


Our super small and super bland laundry room with linoleum flooring

Thank you Martha Stewart for your wonderful paint colors!

...and to the Sanlyn Company for your vinyl planking.
This looks much better. I know that it won't really be seen by anyone but Ryan and me, but it just feels better for it to be fresh and clean looking.

Aaaand the biggie. This is our living room before we moved anything in. I have always wanted to do something fun with the windows but could never think of anything even semi-original. A big thanks to Pearls who directed me to a picture on on of our favorite blogs.

Ryan, again, making all my dreams come true.

His level was in constant use for the 24 hours it took to get these puppies up.

Drum roll please.....

The after....

Woooo Hoooooo!!!
They let a ton of light in and give a great view of the yard, plus we can pull the shades down when it's super hot outside or we're out of town.

After weeks of work, it's time to REST!
I think Bella agrees!