Spring 2009 was mine and Jason's last semester of our Bachelor's degree programs. It was one of the hardest semesters for both of us, but the one where we learned the most as well. I took 5 English classes to finish up, including a British literature class with a professor who had studied with a scholar at Oxford who had studied under J.R.R. Tolkien himself and a Jane Austen class where we devoted our time to planning a ball for our final exam. I would tell you a little bit about Jason's last semester, except he is downstairs playing Call of Duty. We also traveled to San Diego in the Spring to watch the Runnin' Rebels be defeated by San Diego State, but we enjoyed having that time to spend with each other. Here is a picture of my Jane Austen class at our ball:
Jason and I graduated on May 9, 2009. I graduated in the morning and sat through my 3 hour ceremony where the President would not shake our hands for fear of contracting swine flu, then I gave Jason the graduation robe we were sharing and we sat through his 3 hour ceremony where the President of the university would not shake their hands for fear of contracting swine flu. We then got together with family for a nice dinner at Memphis Championship Barbecue.
After we got married in 2008, Jason and I had moved across the street from Valley High School into a 600 sq foot apartment. Although we loved the ward we were in, the apartment proved to be too small and the police were in our neighborhood much too frequently. So, in March of this year, we called upon our step-brother-in-law, Eric, to help us find one of those wonderful foreclosures that were popping up around town. In April, we began to make offers on homes and our second offer was accepted! In May, we moved into our two-story, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 1600 sq foot home. AND, our parents happily came over and dropped off all the junk Jason and I had stored at THEIR houses for the past 8 months of our marriage. AND, my sister Amy decided to drop off Emma's crib and changing table for us to put in one of the rooms. No, this is not an announcement, but a wonderful way to scare family and friends when giving them tours of our home. Anyway, the house just needed a little bit of cleaning up, and while there are still light bulbs missing in some places and scuffs on the wall, we are still paying less than we would have been paying in rent. Not to mention, the president offered us money this year if we bought a home! So, we look forward to that extra "income" in our tax return.
Also, notice the little red car in the driveway? Jason bought himself a graduation present, a RED 2009 Honda Fit. I was getting sick of the double exhaust on his Nissan and we were also trying to do our part in boosting the economy ;)
So then the summer of 2009 began. Jason continued to work his IT job with the U.S. Attorney's office and I continued my student job with UNLV's Student Recreation Center while I submitted many applications elsewhere. I filled out about 25-30 applications and finally received ONE response back. The company was a home inspection company and they offered me a part time job as a secretary with a promise of going full time later on. Without any other options, I accepted the job and began my first ever "desk job" that didn't involve running around a recreation center. In the meantime, Jason was preparing for Graduate School at UNLV and was taking a Calculus class in the evenings to fulfill the requirements for the Master's in Economics program. The class was difficult and the teacher was hard to understand and Jason came home grumpy many nights that summer. I loved my new job, at first, but then I realized the true meaning of micro-management. I began to butt heads with the Boss's wife who was also an owner of the business and I came home grumpy many nights as well. Back the recreation center, a lot of things began to change in the professional staff and I found myself having to step up and take initiative with some of the things going on, including a couple large basketball tournaments. At one point, I ran into the Director of Recreation and he asked me what I was doing with my life. I admitted I wasn't sure. He asked if I wanted to go to Graduate School, I admitted I wasn't sure. AS I walked away it dawned on me that he may have been alluding to something more so I went home and sent him an email about how unhappy I was with my new job and if there was anything he could suggest for me to do. He immediately set up a meeting with me and offered me the position of Aquatics Graduate Assistant, on the condition that I could get into Graduate School and become certified as a lifeguard all by early August. I remember leaving his office in a daze. I talked with Jason and he was SO excited about it, so I contacted the English program and began to call around to find a lifeguard certification class. That's when I got the bad news that it was too late to apply to the Master's in English program and that I hadn't taken the correct entrance exams for the program. Graduate Assistants, however, are required to be admitted to a program and not just the Graduate College. After moping for a couple days, Jason told me I needed to try and look at other programs. What was I good at? The only thing I could think of was my background in recreation. I contacted the Director of the Recreation Management program and within two days I was admitted. I put in my two weeks notice with my other job (very happily and much to their surprise). I also began to swim at the pool and the lifeguards taught me what I needed to know to pass the requirements for my certification class. Within two months I had completely changed the direction of my life. Jason completed his Calculus class and had to take a proficiency exam. He was able to pass the exam and be admitted to the Economics program and before we knew it, we were both on our way to school to begin Master's degrees.
On August 8, 2009, we celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary. Our brother-in-law, Craig, was able to get us a room at Loew's in Lake Las Vegas. We first went to dinner at Texas De Brazil, a Brazilian steakhouse, and then spent a relaxing evening at the hotel. In the morning we spent a couple hours by the pool sipping on lemon water, and then checked out of the hotel to go get some lunch off the dollar menu at Wendy's. Afterwards, we went to Lowe's (the hardware store) and picked out a tree to plant together in the backyard. It was nice to be able to spend that time together after our busy summer that we had had.
Also in August, Jason underwent surgery to clear his sinus passages. He has suffered from sinus infections for years and his ENT recommended this surgery to not only straighten his deviated septum, but to clear out what he described to be the most clogged sinuses he had ever seen. The surgery went well, but Jason found the recovery to be more difficult than expected. However, we had him back on his feet again by the time school started.
Our Fall semester proved to be difficult beyond measure. Halfway through the semester, Jason began to suffer from severe anxiety that led to breathing problems, IBS, and an overall inability to focus. I found my Rec Management classes to be more challenging than I had thought and also had to deal with many new situations in my new position at the Rec Center. In October I certified to become an LGI, which allows me to teach lifeguard classes as well as first aid and CPR. Observing the instructors for my LGI class, I realized how much they loved their jobs and how passionate they were about what they did. It gave me a newfound energy and love for recreation, which sounds really corny, but I was able to understand that this is what I love to do and it's something that works in many diverse settings. In November, I had the opportunity to travel to UCLA and attend a NIRSA conference for students who plan to pursue careers in recreation. Again, I realized how much the professionals in the field enjoy their jobs. I began to encourage Jason to look into a field that involved sport and exercise because I know that is where his true passion lies. Jason ended up not enjoying his Econ classes as much as he had hoped and is now deciding whether or not to continue on the path to a Master's in Econ, or to look into something he may enjoy a little bit more.
Our Winter Break has been a bittersweet one as we have many decisions to make for our future. Also, a couple weeks ago, my sweet Aunt Joyce passed away after an 11 year battle with Alzheimer's. My dad named me after Joyce (it is my middle name) and I have always felt of her dear spirit. I decided to attend the funeral with my parents and my sister, Maggie, and I was able to learn even more about Aunt Joyce through the stories that her family shared. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent visiting family after family. I have 3 siblings and my parents here in Vegas, and Jason has 2 siblings, 5 step-siblings, and his parents here in Vegas. So, it was a very eventful Christmas weekend even though poor Jason is sick once again. I am glad to have him, though. I know he loves me so much and would do anything for me.
I look forward to many more years ahead in our life together and we wish all of you a happy new year!