Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Across the Finish Line!

The semester is finally over! To be truthful, I really enjoy much of law school—except for finals! I liked most of my classes this semester, and it was a lot of fun being in Immigration Law with Sheila at Case! In particular, Legal Responses to Terrorism was particularly interesting. We read a fantastic book—The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer—and had several stimulating discussions about torture, politics, policy, the War on Terror, and everything else in between. It was like 2004 all over again! Additionally, we had a mid-semester switch of professors in Employment Discrimination; the new professor was phenomenal, and he allowed us to have very stimulating debates about discrimination and policy in the workplace. I came across looking like a complete leftist, which is funny because some of my views on certain issues have gotten slightly more moderate since undergrad.

Finals, though, suck the fun right out of law school. There’s something about knowing your entire semester’s performance depends on a three-hour exam; I suppose it’s like pro football, in which a team can have a perfect season but then lose in the final minute of the Super Bowl and turn into history’s most accomplished footnote. Anyhow, when the semester began, I took a look at my finals schedule and got pretty nervous because I had two sets of back-to-back finals on consecutive days. However, God was good (as he always is) and two of my finals evolved into take-home finals throughout the course of the semester. Unfortunately, this meant that I ended later and I had a final welcoming me back to Cleveland when I returned from Michael and Kalina’s wedding weekend. After taking two take-home finals, I’m not sure if they’re better than taking in-class finals though…both in-class and take-home finals have advantages and disadvantages.

This was definitely a hard semester for both of us—Sheila had a ton of work, I had to submit my Character and Fitness Application for the Ohio Bar Exam, and we both had swine flu! However, God blessed us both abundantly during the semester. I hit a super-low point in December during the last week of classes in which I was so frustrated with law school that I couldn’t fall asleep that night (which subsequently kept Sheila awake too…), and the next day, God completely turned my outlook around and filled my sails with enough wind to sail through the rest of the semester. There were so many random blessings—from giving Sheila the opportunity to meet great friends in her Mandel classes and helping her with her difficult Business Associations class to giving me a much-needed blessing regarding the submission of my last final—that I have emerged from this semester with much more faith than I had when I began the semester back in August. We had a boatload of car issues come up over the past 2 days, and it was such a blessing to be able to confidently know that God was going to help us get all of them resolved so we could safely travel to DC—I’m not sure if I would have been able to be as calm if we hadn’t gone through the struggles of this semester.

I’m very excited about this break—not so much because I’m done with school for the semester, but moreso because I am grateful to have the time to pursue hobbies that I don’t have time to pursue during the school year. Here are several things I’d like to do between now and when we leave for our cruise:

--SEE MOVIES! There are so many great movies in theatres and on video that I’ve missed over the past year. Who’s up for seeing any of the following movies with me? 2012, Invictus, Precious, More Than A Game, the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, Avatar, The Princess and the Frog, Sherlock Holmes, Up in the Air, Inglorious Basterds, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Couples’ Retreat, The Blind Side, Saw VI, Up, Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Julie and Julia, and man…there are so many movies I’ve missed!

--WRITE! I started a story based on Samantha and Smith Jerrod last year (no joke) and of course I did not have time to finish it during the school year. I also have been throwing around various novel ideas over the past year that exist on scraps of paper and in my imagination, and I’d like to take ‘em out for a spin and if they turn into anything decent.

--Have fun times in the DC area! There is a killer ice sculpture display at The Gaylord Hotel which looks awesome. We’re supposed to see some old friends from Case too, and hopefully we’ll get to see the old Churchill crowd as well. I know we’ll have lots of great meals and fun times with Sheila’s family too; unfortunately, the weather isn’t nice enough for me to grill! Closing out the summer on their deck by grilling with a Corona in my hand was great, except for when I made that salmon…ugh, it was so bad that I don’t think a cat would have eaten it!

--READ! I started reading The Emperor’s General by Sen. Jim Webb while I was waiting for our car to get fixed and I can’t wait to finish it. I am going to take a book containing stories about families affected by welfare reform on our cruise, as well as hopefully a James Michener novel and perhaps Twilight too.

--Apply for jobs! It was such a relief and blessing to wrap up my job search early on in the spring last year; here’s hoping lightning will strike twice!

I hope that all of you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! The winter weather has been pretty crazy as of late, and I hope that all of you have safe travels and blessed times with family and friends!

Monday, December 14, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza!

As many of you know, Joe and I are kind of obsessed with the food network. I'd say 80% of our recipes are from the food network (often with slight modifications/personalizations!), 10% are from cookbooks, magazines, friends, or my mom, and 10% are self-made recipes. I feel like I learn a ton of techniques and make "scary" foods when I'm using food network recipes, but it's exciting to cook something totally on my own - especially if I'm successful!

My favorite self-made recipe is pretty simple.

Barbeque Chicken Pizza

-1 onion, roughly chopped
-1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
-1 chicken breast
-garlic powder
-s & p
-hot sauce
-barbeque sauce
-pizza dough (preferably trader joe's herbed pizza dough)
-1/2 cup pepper jack or monterey jack cheese

1. Chop onion and pepper & saute in large skillet on medium heat with 2 tbsp of oil.
2. Season chicken breast with paprika, thyme, cumin, garlic powder, s&p. (However much you'd like!) Cube chicken breast and add to skillet.
3. Saute until onions are soft and brown and chicken is fully cooked.
4. Add a few dashes of hot sauce (depending on how spicy you like it) and about 1/3 cup of barbeque sauce. Stir to combine.
5. Preheat oven and roll dough out based on package instructions. Add chicken mixture, top with cheese, and sprinkle with cilantro.
6. Bake based on package instructions.

You can adjust the heat by omitting or adding hot sauce or by using a more or less spicy cheese. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

I just had one of the biggest scares in quite some time. Sheila has been working on her take-home final exam for Environmental Law. It’s a 24 hour test; she began it at 12PM Thursday afternoon, making it due at 12PM Friday afternoon. She worked hard on it all day long today before we went to see A Christmas Story at The Cleveland Playhouse and to have dinner at Lolita following the performance. For awhile, it appeared as if she wouldn’t be able to get enough progress done to justify going out, so I offered to reschedule our date to a different time (I swear that this was not a ruse to allow me to watch the Browns game!), but as it turned out she was able to get enough work done. We got home, and after marveling at the Browns’ victory, Sheila went to go work on her final. Unfortunately, she could not find her answer sheet on the computer at first and it appeared that it may have been lost. As it turned out, her answer sheet was saved in the temp directory. Fortunately, Mikey G had defrosted following his frigid experience at the Browns\Steelers game and helped us identify the file’s location!

In between the initial discovery of the possible loss and the finding of the file in the temp directory were some of the most harrowing moments I’ve had in a long time. I feel rather selfish writing about it, considering that she would have had to redo all of her work if it had indeed been lost and all I would have had to do is chug energy drinks to stay awake with her and pray for her, but it was incredibly scary. Honestly, it was scarier than the car accident from this past summer—nobody was hurt, the facts and justice were completely on our side, and I knew that insurance would pay for all or most of the cost of the damages. This was much different—had the answer sheet been lost, Sheila would have had to redo all of her work and complete the rest of the exam—which is worth 100% of her grade—in less than 12 hours.

Being a powerless husband who cannot help your wife is one of the worst feelings that I have ever felt in my entire life. I felt it tonight when I couldn’t help her find the file and I have felt it many other times during our marriage. During premarital counseling, Pastor Joe stressed the importance of the man being the leader of the home, and when I can’t help Sheila and am forced to sit there watching her cry, I feel as if I have failed her as a leader and a husband.

However, I believe these situations prove to be beneficial in the long run because they force me to rely on the true Leader of our home and our marriage—Jesus—and to encourage Sheila to do the same. As much as I would like to provide everything that our family needs, I need to realize that I am an imperfect human being who needs the intervention of and blessings from a perfect and loving God in my life to survive and succeed in life, and that I should humble myself and admit that I need God’s help, guidance, and assistance to be a good husband and provider. Tonight, when this happened, I felt a brief twinge of anger towards God—why was He allowing this to happen? Did He really allow the file to get lost, knowing that Sheila had already put so much work into it and only had a small amount of time to finish it? However, I quickly caught myself and began praying hard that God would work this situation out and that He would give me the courage to trust and believe that this problem could be solved. I also reminded Sheila about how God had helped us through tough times and worked out solutions to other serious problems in His perfect timing. When it was solved, I felt as if my faith was stronger than it was when I woke up this morning, a fact for which I am very grateful. When calamities like this happen again, I believe that experiences like the one we had tonight will help me face these calamities with faith, courage, and strength because they helped me to remember that we worship a God who works all things for good in the lives of those who love Him.

I originally wrote this immediately after this incident occurred but didn’t post it before I went to bed since I wanted to marinate on it a bit. As it turned out, I had an opportunity to put this stronger faith into practice the next morning; we overslept slightly and woke up at 9:00 A.M. instead of 8:00 A.M. Needless to say, this put both of us in a panic! However, the events of the past evening gave me a sense of calm and I had no doubt that Sheila would get the final done, and done well, before 12:00 P.M. In fact, not only did she get it done well, but she even finished a few minutes early!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Fells of Walmart

Okay, so I'll admit, we went to Walmart yesterday to get something to wear to an Ugly Sweater Party today. (We were, of course, succesful.) Two funny "People of Walmart"-esque things:

1. We told an employee we needed to find something to wear to an Ugly Sweater Party. She goes, "What?! We don't have nothin' ugly in this store!" .. and then she and her coworker started roaring :) Even Walmart employees make fun of Walmart!

2. I did not look for any "People of Walmart" (after looking at the site a few times, I read a comment that compared the laughers to childhood bullies and I felt really awful... Although, I mean, seriously, some people just need to be fully clothed). But, I did see something interesting.

I went to the bathroom and in my stall to my right was the little bin for trash from sanitary products for women. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. Gentlemen, just know that all we put in these bins are sanitary products or tissues or things like that. Every once in awhile you'll see a wrapper. But this... this, you never see. What was in this bin?

Why, that's right, a completely empty bottle of....
Only at Walmart.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Internet Fail

Look to the left column of this page. Scroll down to where our tweets usually are. Those aren't ours. Bizarre, huh? Some poor, sorry soul's tweets got somehow linked into everyone's blogs and now everyone is yelling at him for ruining their blogs. His twitter name? "Undefined".

See here...

I am hoping this will fix itself before I decide to take the whole app off. So far, my faith in the internet is unfounded... this problem has been ongoing for at least a week...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

C is for Cookie

Baking is really a challenge for me. Messy, exact, time-consuming, and creates tons of dishes. But these things are welcome when the rest of your day is (in theory) entirely devoted to studying. So I decided to make some fairly simple cookies with a twist to them. Next time I'm trying something harder!

On the Left: Butter and Jam Thumbprints
On the Right: Rachael Ray's Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Finals studying is going okay, but it really all kicks into gear this week. Joe just finished up a huge paper and has 5 finals ahead, and I finished papers for 3 classes last week and have 3 finals ahead. Prayers for stamina, patience, wisdom, and time management would be great :) We've got a long few weeks ahead of us, but a great few weeks ahead of that!