Monday, December 28, 2009

Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!

I did it!! As of Saturday, December 19th, 2009, I am a college graduate. And so is Sean! We both graduated last Saturday, though, unfortunately, we graduated over 100 miles apart. But such is life. We weren't able to attend each others' ceremonies, seeing as mine started at 12:30, and his was at 2:00. But we're done now! That's the most fantastic part. At least, with undergrad.

My family came out for graduation, but they're terrible with taking pictures. I kid you not, I don't have one. single. picture. from my graduation that they took. None of my friends stuck around for pictures (which I'm not going to get into, I was, and still kind of am, incredibly upset about that one), so they didn't see the need to take pictures. Luckily though, my future mother-in-law is camera happy, so I have plenty of pictures back at their house.

I graduated with honors (whoo-hoo!), though they were just departmental honors. Interesting point though: At Mizzou, you need a 3.7 (that's right, three point SEVEN) to even graduate cum laude. At UMSL, you need a 3.2. What the heck? I ended up graduating with a 3.47, which would have almost bumped me up to magna in the UMSL system, but is a full .24 away from even getting cum laude in the Mizzou world. And in GPA world, that is a LOT. Oh well. That's the way the cookie crumbles I guess. In any case, I graduated with Departmental Honors, which means I was entitled to the same amount of recognition and even the same medal as those that graduated summa cum laude. And I maintained a social life for the past 3 1/2 years. I think I got the better end of the deal.

Anyways. Graduating with honors meant that I got a special ceremony, at 8:30 in the freaking morning. But I also got a graduation ceremony in Jesse Hall, which is our main, fancy hall on campus.  My other ceremony was held in the Hearnes Center, which really disappointed me, as it's just an athletic center. Not pretty at all. There were a total of 216 Honors graduates, which is a pretty big number for a December graduation.

My friend Julie and I before Honors Graduation
(the red and white cords are for Lambda Pi Eta, my honors society for Communications, Julie has gold and blue cords for her theater society)

Chancellor Brady Deaton speaking at the Honors Ceremony

After the Honors ceremony, I had a little down-time. So I went back home and decorated my hat!! M2 is short for Marching Mizzou, and it was only fitting that something I've spent so much time being a part of be represented on my cap.

I went to my actual graduation, which was only an hour and a half long, which was awesome. Like I said before, I don't actually have pictures, which is a shame. So instead, I'll just have to post pictures of Sean and I back at home (well, actually, at his house), before we went out to dinner. But first, some pictures of Sean's graduation.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Gary Brandes.
(Our high school band instruction, now teaches at UMSL, Sean's school)

The podium

He walked!! He looks so happy :)
And now, pictures of the two of us together

With our diploma-less cases. We won't get our actual diplomas for at least a couple of months, unfortunately. But they're pretty!

With my parents

With Sean's parents

So tired of smiling! But alas, it's done.

It's nice to know that I'm done with my undergraduate, and so is Sean. Sean's starting on law school applications, and I'm going to begin studying for the GRE in the next few weeks. I don't necessarily plan on going on to graduate school, but if a future employer is willing to pay for (or give me a pay increase for) a master's degree, I'll be more than willing to attend. And GRE scores are good for five years, so I'd rather take it now, while I'm still in the school mind-set. And who knows? Maybe I'll change my mind and decide to go back anyway. *shrugs* You never know, right?

We're having a graduation party in a little over a week, so the celebration is continuing. The future is coming, albeit about six months away. We'll find out where we're going, and all of the sudden, things will be full speed ahead!


My cap, tassel, diploma case, medal, and cords

 The inside of my diploma case, without the diploma

And as a great, crazy man once, said:
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

By the one and only, Dr. Suess

Monday, December 14, 2009

Italian Lasagna...Mary's style.

Mary is, for lack of a better term, my adopted grandma. She's known my dad since his family moved next door to her, when my dad was 1 year old. Her and her husband never had kids, so my dad and his sisters became like her own - she always baby-sat for my grandparents. When my grandma got sick with cancer, Mary essentially cooked all of the meals for the family - my youngest aunt was only 14 at the time. Now, 43 years later, Mary is still  a part of our family. We eat dinner at her house (which is now less than a mile from my parents') every Friday night, along with my dad's 3 sisters, and their own families. She's become "Grandma Mary" to almost everyone - everyone except my brother and I (we were the only ones of the grandkids to actually know our real grandma). But nonetheless, Mary is a part of our family, and we all love her.

While Mary's cooking skills have gone slightly downhill in the last few years (she IS 81), we all remember her food at its peak. And I've been doing my best to collect them, one at a time. Last night, I made her amazing lasagna. Sean's never quite understood why everyone talks about lasagna night at Mary's, but that's because she's not as adept at making it as she once was. Last night, Sean realized what I meant.

The story goes that Mary got the recipe from a lady from Italy, who didn't even speak English. But regardless of where she got it from, it's the most delicious thing in the world.

So here's the recipe, courtesy of Mary. It's broken up into layers, to make it more manageable. All of the layers can be prepped ahead of time though.

Mary's Famous Italian Lasagna

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

6-9 Lasagna noodles, cooked

Layer 1:
1 lb of Italian Sausage
1/2 cup chopped onion (or 1 tbsp of onion powder)
1 clove of garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp of minced garlic)
16 oz of tomato sauce (save a little for bottom of pan)
12 oz of tomato paste
1/2 cup of hot water
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp marjoram leaves

Layer 2:
15-16 oz of Ricotta Cheese
10 oz package of frozen spinach, cooked and drained according to directions
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 eggs

Layer 3:
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 cups shredded Muenster cheese

1. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large skillet until sausage is browned. Add in the rest of Layer 1, and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Combine the ingredients of Layer 2 in a separate bowl
3. Combine the ingredients of Layer 3 in a separate bowl
4. In a large pan (Mine was 9x13), put a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan, so the noodles don't stick
5. Layer noodles, Layer 2, Layer 1, and Layer 3.
6. Repeat layers
7. Bake in oven for 40-50 minutes (unless you have a ridiculous oven like me, mine was done in 35 minutes)
8. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, cut, and ENJOY!

Monday, December 7, 2009


The time has come. The semester is ending (I'm 12 days away from graduating). Everyone around me is excitedly talking about the classes their taking next semester, or jobs they have lined up, or where they're going to live. And me? I'm just kinda hanging in there. It's making me really nervous again. I go thorugh waves - sometimes I'm excited, but other times, like now, I start freaking out. Not only do I not have a steady job lined up, I don't know what I'm doing about insurance, where I'm going to live (not just apartment-wise, but state-wise in general), or anything. I mean, I know that I'm still going to be here in CoMo for at least another four months. But after that, I just don't know.

Here's a good idea of where we'll be next semester:

Real helpful, isn't it?

I'm a planner. I need to plan. I live to plan. When I can't plan...I feel helpless. So what's my plan for after this semester (no particular order)?
1. Find Insurance. I refuse to live without insurance. Absolutely refuse. And my insurance with my mom ends (as far as preventative care) on December 19th, and ends on for emergency care on December 31st. Because I have no job lined up, I'm looking into private plans. Any suggestions?
2. Figure out what we have. I have no idea what Sean and I have as a couple. I know, for sure, we have a bed. We have pots and pans and plates, but I'm not how many or what of each. Plus, we're talking about possibly ditching some of our furniture to make it easier to move, but, because we don't know what we have, we're at a loss right now. This stuff will be cataloged.
3. Wedding stuff. My dress is supposed to come in on January 8th, so I need to get that. Plus, we need to finalize hall stuff, and start working on things like the photographer, baker, and florist. Actually, we need to finalize this stuff. Which is going to be a chore unto itself, because I have to convince these vendors to finalize stuff 9 months out from the wedding. Oi.
4. Find another job. I'm hoping to pick up a second job at some point here in Columbia. I don't want a career job, because I don't intend to stick around very long. However, I need to make some more money. I'll probably look into working retail or something. I need a people-skill building job on my resume.
5. Pay off credit cards and save money. I've fallen into a slight trap this semester. With the added bill of my car payment, I've been paying off my credit card less. Consequently, it's racked up a fairly high balance. I have the money to pay it off, but at the same time, I want to keep that money in my checkings/savings accounts, because I can't pay my car payment or rent with a credit card. I'm hoping to get a fair amount of cash for graduation, but I want to buy a new computer while I still have my student discount too. This is also REALLY affected by the second job thing. 

Finally, I'm going to have to start living my life as a we. It sounds like an easy concept, but in reality, it's a complicated thing to adjust to. Our bank accounts will be combined, our "stuff" will be combined, our bills will be combined - it's a big thing to wrap my head around. But I'm getting there.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Life Changing Events. Moni Got MARRIED!!!!

Last Saturday, one of my .best. friends got married.

Moni and I met in 4th grade, when she moved to Missouri and started at All Saints. We went to school together through high school, and were in youth group together. We were part of one of those "groups" - the ones that share SO much, and are so close. I've given her shit for years for not going to Mizzou ;) We've had times - both good and bad. We've laughed in Mexico, I toted her backpack and flour baby when she broke her hip, she called me at 12:30 in the morning when Patty died, and I was the first person she told she was pregnant with Omar. We've cried together. We've laughed together.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stand up with her on her wedding day. Yes, I was a "back-up bridesmaid," but Moni has had a rough year, and I was happy to help her out - on any terms. It didn't bother me that I wasn't an original, and it doesn't bother me now. Her wedding was gorgeous.
Blessing of the Marriage

Blessing of the Family
The Bridal Party

At the end of the day, they are!

Moni is the first of my close friends to get married. Sure, Jeff and Mack have gotten married, and Kevin and Kelsey, and Caryn and Artene, but they weren't my close friends (at least not growing up). This, one of us getting married, it's a shock to me. Even though I've been planning my own wedding for nearly a year, someone else getting married that's on the same level as me, really means it's happening. We're growing up, and I WILL be getting married (in 400 days!).

And here's to Moni and Miguel, and the new Lopez family...Congratulations!!